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In this weekś episode, we discuss taking leaps of faith and pursuing our passions! Join me and my guest, Nicole Dillon, mother of 2 boys, who started a new business after losing her job during the pandemic and leaving the big city for a small town lifestyle. Amazing! Nicole shares how making a courageous leap allowed her to live her dreams while watching her boys flourish and grow. Nicole shares how it is never easy to make these decisions that affect our families, but in life, there are no guarantees….so why not just try!
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Welcome to Real Life Momz, I'm your host, Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about moms having real conversations, sharing resources, and telling their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz, Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. And in this week's episode, I invited Nicole Dillon, a mother of two boys and a wife, and as a family, they decided to relocate and start a new business.
All during the pandemic. Nicole took a leap of faith, followed her dreams and listen to how it all turned out.
Hi, Nicole, welcome to Real Life Momz I'm so excited for you to come and share your story with us today.
Hi Lisa, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to share my story.
So our topic today, I love this topic. It's kind of like grabbing opportunities that just kind of come our way. Like sometimes the universe just brings us a present and instead of saying like, oh, maybe I'll do that later, or I can't do that now. You know, just kind of taking that leap of faith and knowing that things might just work out for the better. And I think in your story that you're going to share with us, um, the pandemic kind of maybe pushed you a little bit into this more but you guys really, as a family took the leap of faith to do something very different, to create a different lifestyle for your family.
Absolutely. We did. We had, been thinking for a couple of years that we didn't want our, young boys to do middle school and high school in a big city and we had kind of tossed a few other options around since my oldest son was young. We had been vacationing in a small town, Lakeside, you know, up north every summer. So pandemic happened, I thought, huh?
If we're going to be stuck in doors, let's be stuck in doors at the lake and my kids went to my parents' house, at the lake and I accidentally found a space to open a bakery, which I had been baking kind of as a side gig for about 10 years. Um, we, we saw this space and, I reached out to my husband, who's stayed in the big city during the pandemic cause he was still able to work and I mentioned it to him and he's like, yeah, you know, give him a call, see what they say.
And we did and the rent was affordable and we thought, huh, even if it's just a seasonal something, you know, let's try that and see what happens.
Yeah. Let me take you back a minute. So I have a few questions. First off you said that you didn't really want to raise your kids in a big city. They were approaching. Was it middle school?
Yes ma'am. Yep.
And can you expand on that a little bit? Why was that?
I can, so where we were, it was a lot, a little bit of a lot. There was just like, it was glorified, you know, let's see how bad you can be. And that's cool. Once the pandemic started happening, crime got really bad. And I was like, we've, we've got to get out of here. And both my husband and I grew up in smaller towns outside of, of a bigger city.
Neither of us were brought up, in the heart of a big city and where we were, where we were raising our kids was about 12 miles outside, 12 to 14 miles outside of a big city. And it was just, it was just really too close for comfort. And it was, you know, we were just saying we could move further away from the city, but then we ended up getting into kind of country. We were kind of torn about what exactly to do.
So what you're saying is there was kind of just more crime and that your kids were starting to kind of maybe get some behaviors that you felt were a little bit more riskier.
You wanted to, and kind of going down a path that might be a little bit more problemsome.
Absolutely. And, and it was almost like that type of lifestyle was glorified. Like it was real, it was cool to be bad. I mean, you know, so we just didn't want, we didn't want that. We didn't want those problems.
Who does really.
Right, right, right, right.
Yeah. Don't sign me up for that.
No, exactly. You're right.
Okay. So then, then you know, the pandemic hits and you lost your job. You could go to the lake and maybe do something a little different and you find this spot, this spot was for your new company. Is that correct?
Well, it wasn't, I didn't have any intentions on, on starting a full-on bakery. Like I said, I had just kind of baked on the side as you know, for a neighborhood event for the company that I worked for. I was a restaurant manager and when, when our restaurants would have, private events, I would do the desserts for that. So it was just kind of a side thing. So in I had no intentions on making it my life's work. Yeah. So it just all kind of organically fell into place.
So you get there, you're there for the summer. You find a little spot to say, Hey, maybe I'll bake a little bit and see what happens.
Your husband now is still in Atlanta because he is still working there.
How was that? How was it to be in separate places?
So for the summers, we kind of did that anyway. I would use all of my vacation time over the summer, to be up at the lake with the kids. So it wasn't hugely new, you know, for the summertime. But as we got further and further into it, we decided, well, maybe we'll just do it all the time, as opposed to just in the summertime. So, it is hugely new now, you know?
Yeah. Okay. Cause it's all a year. How does that work?
So, when we decided that this would be how we got the kids out of the big city into a smaller community, we really had to talk about how are we going to do this? And he is in a role that requires him to be present at work. He's the director of sales. So he has to, he has to manage people and be on property and sell. So his boss is very good and understands it.
And like most people during the pandemic working remotely became a norm. So his boss is understanding of that. So he gives him a lot of leeway as far as doing some remote days, but we're literally 650 miles from each other. So it's not like he can, you know, uh, work remote Friday and Monday and then go back into the office. So what he tries to do is about every two to three weeks, he'll work remote and be here with us for about five or between five and seven days.
And he has been with his company for a long time. So he has a ton of vacation time. So there'll be times when he just takes, you know, he'll do four days of remote working and then he'll take seven days of vacation time. So it ends up being in an extended period with us.
So what I'm hearing is this change of lifestyle that you did is hard on the family, is that right?
It's um, it isn't, it isn't when, when we were all together, my husband would leave before the kids woke up for school and he'd get home 30 minutes before they went to bed. So now when he's here with us, he's really here with us, you know, he's not leaving he's here. So I almost feel like we get more quality time with him here. It's, it's working, but obvious who, you know, who knows we'll be, you know, 30 years down the road and my kids will tell me how much, you know, how, how affected they were by it.
And it was awful, but it seems like it's working.
I can relate to that. Um, when my children were very young, um, my husband, I live in Colorado, but my husband did work in California and he would commute I think, every other week. So he'd go out for like five days, come home and be home for a whole week, go out for five days. And I totally, you know, remember that time because it's a little bit like single parenting, right. Because obviously you're not. Um, so it's weird. Uh, but I just remember how important my mom friends were for me specifically, because those are the people that, you know, if I had to drop them off early, drop them off at my friend's house and they would take them to school for me.
You know, the school wasn't open yet. And I had to be at work at eight and you know, they didn't have to be there till 8:30, or I just remember pickups or things like that. Or, you know, can my kid come home with you after I just remember all that shuffling that I had to do And which is really difficult, but I have to say the mom tribe rose to help. Did you, do you feel like you found the mom tribe out where you are to help you out during those times?
I definitely do. And it is surely a juggling act and my kids are just now, uh, and that's another thing here. My kids are into sport before and in the big city, they weren't, they were kind of just in little clicky friendships that they just hung out with each other. And now they're, they're doing things that they didn't either they didn't choose to do or didn't have the opportunity to do, or their friends weren't doing it, whatever the case may be. But so juggling, you know, getting the kids to baseball practice, or like you said, getting dropping them off, you know, the bakery you've got to get there early.
Um, so getting them, you know, set to be sure that they get to school on time or, you know, all of the things that it takes is definitely a juggling act and you can't do it without your village of moms and friends and, you know, helpful neighbors and, uh, and all the things it's, it is really, and, and I've found more of that here in a smaller town than I did in Atlanta because everyone was running the rat race.
Everyone had to be to work early. Everyone was gone for, you know, 14 hours a day. So it was, a little bit more of a challenge, even though there were more, I had been there for so long that I had more friends there, but it was, it was more challenging I think.
And I think, imagine that I could imagine that just that fast, I mean, I'm from New York. So I guess You're just thinking about just this conversation of, I can only imagine what your conversation was like when you decided to make this change. So, you know, what was that like for you when you were sitting at home to say, Hey, we're leaving Atlanta, and moving to a small town in Ohio.
It was difficult, but yet they had spent time here. They knew what life on the lake was. They knew how cool it would be, but they had only experienced it during the summer when it's really action packed and things are moving and there are a ton of people in and out. Um, they had no idea what they were getting into, uh, as far as winter months and the small, small, uh, village where we are. So, um, there was excitement, uh, and, but there was, you know, it's hard for a kid.
I'm like what? I'm leaving my school. I've never done anything differently. I'm leaving all my friends. So it was definitely two-sided and I made it a lot, like, you know, it's a new adventure. We, we go places, we do fun things. This is going to be a new fun life. Uh, and it really has ended up being that way.
Something to be said about a clean slate, you know, it's a such a nice clean slate to really become whatever you want to become. Right. You're just, you're just you, you can start all over.
Yep. And, and being that my husband is still in Atlanta. We, we go back, uh, you know, the kids go back, probably we, we just came from there. And so they have the opportunity to see old friends and now with technology and things and phones and FaceTime, and they, I don't feel like they've missed a beat as far as keeping in touch. You know, it's not like they have to pen pal and write letters and it gets there a week later when you know, so many different things can happen in a week's time.
So its worked out, there are challenges and there are things that are different, but it is, you know, in our, our family dynamic is not, you know, traditional it's very unconventional. Um, but it's working and it was scary. I mean, you know, can we do this? We were not going to have daddy here to help, you know, so many different things, but it's.
I mean, one of the reasons, it sounds like you did move I mean, I know you needed a job and you needed to make these changes, but I mean, it sounds like a big reason was to get the boys kind of out of that situation. So now that you're in a small town, what are you seeing from your boys what has changed for them?
I think that's a great question. And so much, like I said, in Atlanta, we lived in a great neighborhood. There were probably 200 kids. You opened the door and you're just in this neighborhood with so many kids, but you couldn't just let your kids be outside playing. You always had to be sure there was an adult out there and where we are now, and I could be extremely naivet, you know, it takes one thing to go wrong, bu it's, go out and play, come home. When the street lights come on, you know, everyone says, that's how we grew up where we are now.
It's truly still that way, which is a huge relief, a huge comfort. And like I said, the boys are, um, they're into sports and they weren't before my oldest was very much a, a, an indoors gamer.
And he gamed with older children from all over the country. And now he he's still a gamer, but he is outside and playing and involved in sports and has a wide range of friends, of, you know, different. One thing we talked about when we were relocating was you can find a friend in a variety of people in it, it'll be a friend for different reasons. You might have one friend who you play sports with. You might have one friend who you game with.
You might have one friend who you do homework with, and they really, they both really embrace that. And I see it, uh, the most in, my oldest son who didn't have a ton of friends and now he does. So that's just a great thing. And, that alone makes me so glad that we did that for him. And my youngest is turning into being a superstar athlete. He's doing football, he's doing baseball, he's doing basketball and never, ever would.
I didn´t think he'd play any sport ever. So.
It's so amazing how an environment can bring so much out of somebody's, right?
Yes, totally, totally.
Ah, that's so interesting. I feel like I should move. I'm like, No. I mean, and it was totally, like I said, we had talked about it. We knew we wanted to do something different, but this all kind of happened by accident. I mean, and it was really you know, the term leap of faith. It really was. Let's, let's just see. And it's turned out so well, we are really fortunate and really blessed, lucky all the words that you could use, because we're in such a, a good place it's going really well.
So we couldn't be more pleased, but I have to say, it was like, ah, is this it? Is this what we should do? So it took, you know, it took a all right, let's just do it,.
Which is hard to do. It's, especially with, I feel like, especially with kids, like you know, we moved out of New York. My husband is a true and blue, New York I've lived in the city and we just decided to make some changes as well, but we didn't have kids yet.
It was really, it's really difficult to just like uproot yourself.
You really take a gamble. I mean, we don't know anyone in Colorado. Wasn't like we were moving out here and having friends or family, which is kind of like, oh, it's pretty, can't even imagine doing it with my kids. You know, they've been so much harder. So let me ask you this. Um, how, has it changed your life?
Um, I remember prior to the pandemic, probably, um, maybe, for a year or so before, before 2020. So in 2019, I remember waking up thinking, you know, I was a restaurant manager, so my, days were long and it was long nights. And, and I remember thinking I'm really missing out on my kids elementary age.
And so I, I remember when I'd be on my way to work, I remember thinking I don't want to do this. Isn't how I want to live this. Isn't what I want to do. And it, but I didn't know, you know, like I said, we had talked about it, but I didn't know what the right answer was. Right. What the right change was. And I have to say, however, and why ever this happened? I couldn't be happier. This is, this is, you know, I wake up every day and say, yes, this is it.
You know? So it's, it's changed. It's changed my thinking. It's changed my mindset. It's changed my happiness level. Not that I was unhappy before, it was just a different, I just, I'm more connected to my kids. I being your own boss, plays a huge part in that. Uh, you know, I can close if I can close the bakey and be like, I'm not doing it today. I'm going to be, you know, with the kids or whatever, but I just have, I'm so much more connected to them. And I'm more connected to the community, which I wasn't before.
I was just a number in a huge, you know, a huge population. So its changed. It's changed a lot. I couldn't be more thrilled with how this has all really worked out.
So, I mean, you didn't just, you know, move your family. You also changed your whole career, starting something new. So what, tell us a little bit about this bakery forgot. What's the name of it again?
So it's pickle and chips field trip. Um, so I borrowed my kids' nicknames and I do some healthier things, some things from the field I do, but I do, you know, I do some keto diet stuff. I do gluten-free items. Uh, I have a, uh, an order for a little girl's birthday party, and she is, um, has a dairy allergy. So I do a lot of unique requests for things.
So that was, that was where I got the field part of it from, you know, things from the fields, you know, baked, that's kind of my passion. And I found that accidentally when my youngest, oh, sorry. Well, my oldest son was young, you know, to, to get through the day I needed coffee, but we'd be out doing things. So, you know, run through a, uh, Starbucks and grab a coffee.
Well, he would need a cake pop from there. I'm like, these are ridiculously expensive. Nevermind what I was paying for coffee, but then I'm like, I can't keep paying for these cake pops. Uh, so I was like, let me figure out how to make them. And I figured it out and I loved every second of it. And I would forego sleep just to bake things that no one was eating. I was just doing it for the passion of doing it. And then I kind of advertised a little bit. And then in our neighborhood, um, people were like, oh, that's good.
I'll try that. Let me do this. And, you know, I have a child with an egg allergy. Can you make something? So it kind of grew from there. And then the restaurant group that I worked for, we did huge events.
We had quite a few restaurants with a really big, uh, event space. Um, and so they would need, you know, for private events, they'd need baked goods, cupcakes, you know, whatever. Um, and so I kind of volunteered for that. And then it really started taking off. So I was like, okay. So then I did farmer's markets and that was really going well, but I was too scared to leave a salary position, to go out on a whim. And especially, in a big city where there's, you know, there's a bakery and a specialty bakery, you know, on every block.
So I was like I can't do it here.
So doing it in a small town is ideal.
It is ideal. They had a bakery here and it closed a few years back. And so when I would be here, I do farmer's markets when I'd come up. Um, and I, I knew there wasn't a bakery. So when I saw that little space for rent right in the heart of the village, I thought, Hmm, my husband was like, yeah, just call him and see. So it's, again, it organically fell into place where really lucky.
It's so funny how things, I feel like fall, like you said, fall into place kind of when you need them. Right. Yeah. I think a lot of times we're just in this, a rat race, or just this place of just keep going, that we don't see all the signs that are just like right in front of us. Right. It's like you could have been walking down that area and just miss that open space to have your bakery right.
But instead you notice it, like, why did you notice that? Like, I feel like it's so important for us to sometimes take a minute of what the universe is technically showing us, and then making that move and following, it sounds like each step of your way it's working out because you're kind of listening to those little simple signals, you know, you lost your job. Well, we kind of want to move. Maybe we should just move, you know, like, okay, let's do this. Oh, I'm passing up an area that my bakery could go, okay, let's just do that.
Oh, let's just do a farmer's market. You know, like you're just kind of going with it. And I think, you know, that's, that's also something that I don't think a lot of people listen to.
That is a, a great summary of what happened. I mean, it really is. And like I said, you know, I, I knew for a while that I wasn't, I was this, isn't what I want to do. You know? And, and I also knew that my passion is, is baking. It's creating things that put a smile on people's face and you know what, cookie doesn't make a person smile. So, um, it just, it, this is it's truly, for me, I'm living the dream and, you know, people say, how are you doing?
They're like, I´m living the dream. I really can say that. And I really mean it.
That's amazing, Amazing when you're doing something that you love, you know, everything falls into place, you know, passion is so strong and this really makes things successful. You know, people know that you love baking and that's why probably your stuff is so yummy. So what would you say is the most challenging thing that, you know, in this whole process,.
Living the single mom life, but not really. I'm not really a single mom, uh, you know, having, your, partner to be so far away and not be able to lean on. And it's, you know, at the end of the day in a normal life, you're tired. You're, you know, you got, you've got the kids homework together, they're tucked in, ready for bed. And then, and then my husband and I have to connect and I have to give them a recap of the day. Whereas I feel like if he was here, if we were together, he would be able to see and know, and this, you know, so it's almost like living my day and then having to relive it again to share it with my husband, you know?
So that can be a little bit tiring, but it's, I can't let that go because we'll both miss out. You know? So, yeah.
I remember those days of my husband doing lots of traveling and I would give the phone, you know, when it was bed, time, I'd be like, given him the phone. And I would like go away for a little.
You can connect and I can have a break, honestly.
Yeah. No, that's the truth. That's totally the truth.
And he'd be like, where'd you go? I'm like, listen, this is my time off. People are like, No, you're on FaceTime, but you're on.
Right. That's right. You're on, I'm off. I'm going to go wash my face and brush my teeth.
Right. Exactly. Exactly. I don't want my husband to miss anything, even though, you know, even if we were together,he did have a crazy long day. And, but it's just easier to stay connected when you are, you know, laying in bed at night, you can be like, Hey, did you see, did you notice this happen? But when it's, when you're not in the same house, it's harder to keep them in the loop or to, and then we can talk and be like, and I can say, oh, you know, one of the boys did this.
He's like, oh, why didn't you tell me? Oh, shoot. You know, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to not tell you. It's just, you know, so that's probably the toughest thing is keeping everybody in tune with each other.
No, that is hard. What do you think is the best thing out of all this,.
Uh, the growth that my kids have done and the experience of they'll always have the big city knowledge they've been there, they've done that, but to see what it's really like to just be a kid to play outside and to get dirty and to swim in the lake and things that are a little bit more small towny stuff, you know, um, I think that's, and the, and the school that they're in is amazing.
It's, it's small. So the kids get the attention that they need. And the, the projects that they work on are often what it's done for the kids is surely the best thing that, and that was our, that was our goal. When we talked, started talking about it three or four years ago, you know, so, so that the fact that that is how it ended up is exactly the way we wanted it to.
So what would you tell other parents that, you know, may have something that they really want to do? Um, but they're really having a hard time taking that big leap of faith to move forward.
I think I feel two ways about that. We didn't really have a security net. If this were to have gone south, we would have probably been in a really bad shape, but it was, to me, it was worth trying. And, and we're only two years into it. It could still go south. I don't foresee that, but you know, if the benefits seem to be worth the risk, just go for it, just do it. It all be a learning experience. I mean, even if this doesn't end up being the dream that I feel like it is, we learned from it and we did it and, and we can, you know, look back and be like, wow, we did that.
And now we're doing this. Yeah. I don't know. I feel two ways. I don't want to ever tell anyone, just do it. And they're like, oh, Nicole said, just do it and look where we are now.
I think some things that are interesting, like, you know, there's no guarantee if you take a leap of faith in it, it might not be a move. You know, it might, it might be starting a new company or job for a parent. It might be, you know, enrolling a kid in a different school. You know, there's so many, right. It could be anything doesn't have to be what you guys did, but, um, and, but it keeps that you kept saying like, there's no guarantee. And my thought goes to, well, there's no guarantee for anything.
You're right. You're right. Absolutely.
You're fine. You were in a stable job. Right. And then your job closed. Right. So that's not guaranteed.
Yep. That's exactly right.
So how big of a risk really? Is it.
Right? You're right. You're totally right. So just do it. That's my motto. Just do it and take everything positive from it and use it towards your next adventure and anything negative. Take that and learn that you don't want to do that again. I mean, you know, so it's everything is, is you take, take what you want from it and make the best of it. That's kind of how life has to be. Right. You gotta make the best of what's going on and do what makes you smile.
Yeah. I love that. I love that. I, you know, I think the point is that in general, I think it's so hard to sometimes change what we're already doing. It's so easy just to stay the course because it's easy, you know, even when it's not, you know, plan or your boys are going down a little bit of a black hole, if you will, right. It's not easy. And that those have challenges. But I think at the end of the day, we really have to kind of like widen our scope a little bit and really see the big picture.
And if there is something that's really drawing me in to do something, whether it's a move or a new job or writing a book or anything, there's always fear because I think we miss out on a lot of opportunities because of fear, you know, it's, it's scary to do something totally new. It's scary to do something different, but there's so much life that we could really miss. I mean, your sons are excelling and they have a whole new, better life. It sounds like now you're excelling in your business and doing something you love, you know, and you're your own boss.
So I think those are so huge that it's amazing what we can do when we just, when we just try.
100% and, you know, along with fear, there's, there's excitement and, and let the excitement propel you forward, you know? Yeah, totally.
I think that's, that's amazing. So here's a question that I've been asking, um, my podcasters, um, but what is your favorite mom resource?
My mom. Oh, my mom was right about everything and it's true. She was, and I go to her for almost everything. Hey mom, what do you think about this? And I don't always do what she, you know, what she suggests she's been there, she's done that. And so she's a great sounding board for all things, life things, mom, things, girl things, sister things, all, you know, all sorts of things.
So that's for sure. She is, my life coach.
Oh, awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. I really hope this helps maybe parents out there that are thinking of doing something new and just taking that leap of faith, tell us where your store is located or how people can, if they're in the area. Um, they can maybe visit it.
Yeah, for sure. Well, so, um, it's pickle and chips, field trip.com. That's our website and, and I'm on Facebook and Instagram under the same name.
Well, thank you so much.
Thank you, Lisa. It's been so much fun talking to you.
Thank you for listening to today's episode. I'm always inspired for those that follow their dreams and passions, even when doing so is unpredictable and frightening. But as we learned from our conversation with Nicole today, nothing in life is guaranteed. So why not just take a chance, come join us on our Facebook group, where we can continue these conversations and don't forget to follow Real Life Momz, so you don't miss an episode.
I am the mother of two boys who, along with my husband, made the decision to relocate during the pandemic. The boys and I moved 650 miles away, to a small town, where I opened my bakery, Pickle and Chip's Field Trip. My husband stayed in the big city to continue with his career. We have a very untraditional arrangement, but it's working for us. I'm living my dream, running my bakery, and my boys are in a great, tight knit community; where it's safe to run and play outside and just be kids. It is super hard at times and scary to be traveling this unique road, but we are glad we made this decision. My husband comes up to be with us every couple of weeks for 4-5 days and will eventually switch into a remote position, but now just is not the right time for him. Getting the kids out of the big city was a priority for us as they were approaching middle school age. The opportunity to open a bakery presented itself in the prime of the pandemic, in the small village where we vacationed each summer. My husband and I decided that I just needed to go for it and we did it!