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Hi, nice to meet you.
I'm Hallie, a Midwest native, New York City transplant and the mind behind corals + cognacs. If you're looking for an online destination for stylish inspiration and musings on Manhattan living, you've come to the right place.
I hope you enjoy reading corals + cognacs as much as I enjoy writing it.
FAQ //LOCATION: New York, New York •BY WAY OF: The Midwest (Cleveland/Chicago) •HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE? Attainable, trendy and fun. I’m constantly wearing unexpected pairings – like statement pumps and a graphic tee. •FAVORITE ITEM IN YOUR CLOSET? The vintage Gucci clutch I thrifted for $40. •ANY OBSESSIONS? I like my coffee black, my heels high and my martinis dirty. •GUILTY PLEASURES? Complex carbohydrates and shoe shopping -- both in excess. (And SoulCycle, as a result.)
ARE YOU A FULL-TIME BLOGGER? No, I work as a Development Manager and Contributing Editor at Glam.com. •WHY DID YOU START YOUR BLOG? I've spent nearly seven years on the corporate grind, where sartorial humor and an expertly crafted color-block can get lost in the boardroom. As a result, I decided to create a blog -- a space where I’d hoped my writing, styling and excessive shoe collection would be better comprehended. •WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Living stylish and spontaneously in New York City – and beyond. I aim to inspire others to have fun with fashion and to live lightheartedly •HOW’D YOU THINK OF THE NAME? To be honest, the name just came to me. I’m a big color-blocker and a sucker for alliteration in writing. It just fit. •WHAT’S THE CORRECT WAY TO WRITE IT? corals + cognacs.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT? corals and cone-yaks. •WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE? A Canon T3i with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. •DON’T YOU FEEL WEIRD TAKING PHOTOS OF YOURSELF? Absolutely. Everyone looks at me like I’m insane – especially when it’s cold. Wouldn’t you? •DO YOU WORK WITH ADVERTISERS/SPONSORS? Yep! Shoot me an e-mail and let’s talk. •HOW ELSE CAN WE KEEP IN TOUCH? On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Oh, you guys. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to hit publish on this blog post.
It’s a long one this morning but if you read one thing today, let it be this: When your instincts tell you to throw your whole heart into something, do it. Just go all in.
Now, let’s settle in and take a step back. Coffee at-the-ready? Okay, good.
Where we last left off on the personal front, I’d somewhat recently left my job in digital media. While I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been very heads-down in pursuit of a passion project, I haven’t been ready to talk to you about it — until now. (So thanks for your patience and understanding of my privacy.)
I won’t flatter myself into thinking you’ve been sitting around wondering what it is that I’ve actually been up to, so let’s get right to it.
(For those of you who might not be familiar, SoulCycle is an indoor cycling studio that’s really popular in New York, LA, etc.)
You might not know this about me, but training to become anInstructor is a dream I’ve been working towards for a very long time. It’s been a process of blisters, sweat, tears, confidence-building and self-doubt — all things you can relate to, I’m sure, which is why I want to talk to you about it.
This journey has single-handedly changed my life — and as a result, I hope my story can impact yours.
Now, before you ask and/or begin to state the obvious, allow me to beat you to it: No, I don’t come from a group fitness background. I don’t have any formal teacher experience and I am not a professional dancer (after 10 p.m. on weekends, though, this is debatable).
In fact, I’ve spent the past seven years of my life behind a desk – though this has never defined me.
Here’s why none of that matters:
At my very core, I am an athlete. I’m a leader. I’m a motivator, a giver and an inspiration-seeker. Music is my second language and empowering people is my passion – whether it’s through writing or in-person. I’ve grown into this insatiable aspiration to inspire.
Nearly two years ago, I moved to New York to chase “The Dream” — you might remember that story.
At the time, I was working in advertising, so I figured that a good dream was to work at a reputable agency on popular Madison Avenue. That’s how it goes, right? College, job, promotion, corporate ladder. Check, check, check.
For seven years of my post-graduate life, I worked really hard. And I worked a lot, man. I was one of those people who woke up with her hand clawed around her iPhone in the morning. My e-mail was never not in sync — one wrong push notification was all it took to dictate my mood.
I’m not saying these are bad things — I love to work. Working actually makes me really happy. But we’ll get to that.
Throughout my exploratory love affair with New York City, I began to experiment with hobbies (beyond blogging). Jess suggested SoulCycle, and it was only a matter of time before I had to see what the hype was about. A workout that’s life-altering and addicting? Yeah, we’ll see.
I remember every single detail of my first class — down to the smell. (I won’t bore you with those details, but if you’d like to hear the story, shoot me an e-mail.)
I clipped in, zoned out and the rest is history.
As we’ve established, living and working in New York is stressful. The highs are high and the lows are low.
Was I happy at work? Sure. Did I want to look at data in Excel and work in PowerPoint for the rest of my life? I dunno, maybe? I’m just trying to live and buy nice things, here.
The ambiguity of what I wanted to do with my life stressed me out (even further), so I threw myself into the escapism of SoulCycle.
My after-work hobby soon became a full-blown obsession and, not long thereafter, foundational to my life. At some point, it became almost spiritual. I was noticing the way I felt before, during and after a class. (Sweaty, confident and fucking amazing.)
It was a workout, sure, but more so than anything else: It was a release and an escape from the everyday chaos of living in New York City.
Periodically, I’d find myself crying in class. Like, full-blown ugly crying. I wasn’t sure why, but I knew that I was working through a haute mess of mental garbage in those hour-long spurts.
Looking back, it’s clear that SoulCycle helped me mentally and physically evolve into the person I’ve always wanted to be.
It’s not that I became a health-nut, necessarily –but I’ve grown into the understanding that you’re responsible for filling your life with as much positive energy as possible… (On a related note, I’m testing out tea instead of coffee-all-day as a concept and so far it’s going well.)
Though it may sound cheesy, I found a home within the community.
That type of content, it seems, became your favorite. Yay! Because incidentally, it’s my favorite! The fact that I was doing what I loved — writing and empowering people — felt really awesome. If you want to be happy, I realized, you give. Whether it’s words, advice, inspiration or compliments. You just give what you can.
This is where the idea was born that I could further manifest my passions — in training to (hopefully) become a SoulCycle Instructor.
Here’s the irony:
It wasn’t until I became so blindly caught up in chasing down my corporate career — or living the life I thought I was supposed to — that I threw myself into a hobby to escape.
Turns out, it’s what I was meant to do all along.
My career path is anything but linear — and indirectly, it’s one that led me to SoulCycle.
The ah-ha moment came in May 2014.
After seven years in online marketing – and many, many months of subconscious “Soul searching” – it dawned on me that I was done with digital. I was finished running on the corporate treadmill.
Slowly, this dream came to fruition. I was Soul’ing (as a verb) pretty much every day — it was all I thought about. Life seemed like one steady stream of collective consciousness. I quit my full-time job to more fully dedicate myself to the practice, because if you love something so much, you’ve got to go all in.
At long last, I was ready. I applied and auditioned for SoulCycle’s Instructor Training Program in August 2014.
The audition went well. So well! I was really proud of myself — and my Soul mentors were too. This was IT! Finally! It’s all happening.
The next day, I got the e-mail.
I wasn’t admitted.
I was heartbroken. I cried. I questioned everything and began to think very critically of myself. (That was right around when this post was written.) I’d worked so hard! This wasn’t the plan.
… Now what?
Here’s what hearing ‘no’ taught me:
Have you ever felt this, too? Well…
When you face the reality of missing out on your dreams, taking action is not a choice. It’s essential. There are no other options.
This reality brings your dreams into sharper focus. It forces you to take the reins of your life into your own hands and to align your actions with the life you want. It challenges you to accept your obstacles, face them head-on and allow them to make you stronger.
In retrospect, hearing “no” at the time was the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
I realized what this dream meant to me, so I stopped questioning the outcome and went back to work on the process — on creating and shaping my own transformation.
In those next four months, SoulCycle showed me that it’s okay to veer off the life path we envision for ourselves. In fact, it’s inevitable. And it’s even better when you realize and embrace that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.
They say that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough – but you can’t just tell people your dreams… You have to show them.
The Journey, Part Two:
In December 2014, I re-auditioned for SoulCycle’s Instructor Training Program.
Regardless of whether you do or don’t have a desire to try SoulCycle, I am living proof that your dreams can be an inspiring, transformative experience. Twenty-some pounds and a shitload of endorphins later, here I am: Instructor-in-Training. [Wait, really? *Pinches arm.*]
As I type, I’m sitting on the floor of my apartment, massaging my back against the wall.
We’re four weeks into the (very intensive) program; and you guys, I can’t quite explain it — it’s the most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging thing I’ve ever been through, but I can’t get enough.
At one time, fitness was once a daily stress relief. Now, it’s a fundamental way to connect, motivate and empower myself and the people around me. I have never been happier — and I think my happiness increased a lot when I focused on living my real life and spending time in positive, inspiring communities; not just making things on a computer. (Though, again, still something I love.)
Great. Happy for you. Now how does this relate to me?
It’s one of those days where I’m just rambling, isn’t it?
Well, here’s the gist: I can’t say this enough to you guys, because seriously: If you commit to consistency and resilience, you can do literally anything with your life. Even if the odds are not in your favor.
And if you still don’t know what you want to do, it’s okay. Everyone’s path is different. (I’m 29-years-old, for what it’s worth.) Devote yourself to doing things that make you happy, and you will be successful.
One day, perhaps, you’ll show up in spandex at a boutique fitness studio on 18th street — and later, you’ll look back and realize that it was your LIFE waiting for you at the door.
Life is short — so just f’ing go for it. If someone tells you ‘no,’ push even harder.As crazy and unattainable as your dream might seem to everyone you know, trust yourself and lean into it. Be so genuinely good that they can’t ignore you.
The dream is free. The hustle’s sold separately. And it’s never to late to explore your fork in the road…