East Coast Excursions.

In June 2015, right in the midst of my first quarter life crisis, Southwest Airlines was having a huge sale & I made a split second decision to book a flight to Baltimore. It was $98 round trip, how could I not?! Then I realized, I’d never been to Baltimore and I had no idea what I was going to do there or if anyone was going to go with me. So I started planning. The trip of a lifetime, all by myself. I was going to fly into Baltimore early one Tuesday morning in September, rent a car & drive up the coast. I was elated! I had never been to the East Coast before, so this trip was going to be so amazing for me. My mom decided she would meet me in Maine after 5 days and we’d spend the last 5 days together. I’m so excited to share with y’all my excursions from this trip I’ll never forget!

Tuesday, September 15th: I left Louisville early and arrived in Baltimore around 9:00 am. As soon as I landed, I felt like this was where I belonged. I drove to the National Aquarium and had an amazing morning, talking to some of the employees about potential jobs there and being able to work closely with some of the marine life. There was a beautiful sea turtle who was rescued from the ocean after losing one of it’s feet and they helped restore him back to his full potential. I know zoos and aquariums get a lot of bad press because the animals are held in captivity, but that was definitely a feel good story! Already, I was in heaven. I found an awesome seafood restaurant for lunch on the water and sat outside enjoying every second.

That night, I went to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Boston RedSox at Camden Yards. That park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen! To see a game at every Major League stadium is on my bucket list so I was so excited to check this one off the list! The Red Sox won the game and then I was on my way to stay at the hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was so excited I was actually on this trip that I could barely sleep that night.

Wednesday, September 16th: It was an early morning after a late game as I drove from Greenbelt, Maryland to Falmouth, Massachusetts, making it through 8 states that day. Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I stopped in Philly to see one of the LOVE Statues and grab some coffee. I drove down into New York City, through Chelsea, Manhattan, and the Bronx. I had been to NYC before but driving through was a much different experience than walking or taking a cab everywhere! I didn’t really love the part of Delaware I drove through, but it’s another state I can mark off my list! I made it to Newport, Rhode Island for sunset and I could not be more thankful that I did! The whole town was absolutely beautiful. So quaint and friendly. Peaceful and serene. My destination of Falmouth-Cape Cod was finally reached where I would spend the next two nights. I felt like I was at home, regardless of the fact I had absolutely no idea where I really was. Pure Bliss.

Thursday, September 17th: On day 3, I was scheduled to take a ferry ride to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. This was the event I was most looking forward to of the entire trip. Beautiful pictures of Nantucket had been flooding my timelines on Instagram and Pinterest for years and I could not wait to experience it for myself! I woke up extremely early again and drove from Falmouth to Hyannis to the port for Hy-Line Cruises. We went from Hyannis to Nantucket, where I spent most of the morning and afternoon wandering aimlessly through the brick streets and neighborhoods. I never ever wanted to leave. I had lunch at a cute little spot not too far from the port where I had the best lobster roll and the sweetest server. Everyone was so friendly and (seemingly) insanely happy. After being there, it makes me wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. I got coffee from Handlebar Café and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse, where I intended to lose track of time and miss the ferry to our next destination.

Sure enough, I made it back to the ferry and we were on our way to Martha’s Vineyard. Our port was at Oaks Bluff and I was surprisingly a little disappointed! Maybe there’s just no way it could have lived up to how I felt about Nantucket or maybe my hopes were just too high to begin with. I walked around on the beach for most of the evening and had dinner at one of the places along the river walk. I can’t remember the name but it wasn’t the best dinner of the trip. The beach was beautiful and the sunset that night was single handedly the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen. During the ferry ride back, I felt happier than I had felt in years. That night, I stayed in Falmouth again, and fell asleep feeling better about life than I ever had.

IMG_8927

Friday, September 18th: Boston day! One of the most beautifully historic cities I’ve ever been in and I was ready to experience it all. The morning was spent down by the Boston harbor, watching the boats go out and listening to the thick Boston accents from the locals. The best thing about traveling is being thrown in with the locals to see how they do life. I had lunch at Salty Dog at Quincy Market and it was delicious! I walked through the market and watched a magician in the square. I walked up the hill toward the university and sat in the quad to cool off from the heat before visiting Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. There was no game that day so I can’t check it off the list, but I was able to get a ball cap! I can’t wait to go back to see at game at the Green Monster!

Later, I was walking through the mall when my mom called to tell me my grandmother had been in a terrible car accident. She had no details and my mood was instantly turned. I felt completely lost, and for the first time on the trip, I actually felt lonely. I didn’t know what else to do except go back to the hotel, swim some laps and try to wait around for more news. I had dinner at a chain restaurant for the first time on the trip and went back to the hotel in Peabody, Massachusetts to go rest up for the next day.

*I received word that my grandma was in better shape than we originally thought but she still spent weeks in ICU at the hospital in Chicago. I changed the details of my trip and knew I needed to be with her.

Saturday, September 19th: Another early morning- I was going on a whale watching cruise! I headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts to take a boat out to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. While waiting to board, I saw a local fisherman bringing in all of the lobsters he’d found on his trip. Being able to hold one was pretty cool! I had lunch at Gloucester House Restaurant, where the food was delicious! I ate so much fresh seafood on this trip it was insane.

We finally boarded for our day trip and it was about a 4 hour trip on a ship from 7 Seas Whale Watching Company. It was a blast! On the way out, it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything around us but out to sea even further it was beautiful and we ended up following three different whales for the rest of the afternoon. There were two grown whales that the captain and guide were familiar with and one calf that had never been seen on an excursion before. It was awesome to see how small the baby was compared to it’s mother, yet it was still gigantic! Going back to my love for marine life- we learned how to identify whales based on specific features they each have, so y’all already know I was just in heaven, yet again. We could not have had a more perfect day for a trip like this. I was so lucky throughout the my whole trip to have perfect temperatures and clear skies.

After we returned to the port, I drove from Massachusetts to South Portland, Maine. I drove through New Hampshire, so the only state in the east I haven’t visited is Vermont! I arrived in Portland after sunset, so I stopped at a Target to grab some nail polish and a few of my favorite things so I could pamper myself a little for the first time in several days! I had Otto’s pizza delivery to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed some down time that night. It was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, September 20th: I woke up even earlier than I had any other day of the trip so I could see some lighthouses in Maine before I had to drive back down to Boston for my flight to Chicago. I visited Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth and I still cannot get over how beautiful that part of our country truly is. It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up clearing up early, making for some of the best pictures! I hiked the Cliff Trail for a few hours so I could take in every moment I possibly could that morning.

IMG_9393

After a few hours at the lighthouse, I stopped for lunch and headed back down to Boston to catch a plane to see my grandma.

I spent the next 5 days exploring Chicago instead of the east coast, but being with my family during that time was most important. I drove into downtown each day I was there and ended up going to a Cubs game spur of the moment! Of course, it was a blast! My grandma was happy to see me but sorry I cut my trip short for her. Almost two years later, she’s doing great and I still have the best memories of my first solo trip. I will definitely be taking another trip to the east coast.

IMG_9443

Where should I visit on my next trip there? Favorite things to do in Maine, on Nantucket, or anywhere else? Help me out! I’d also love to hear some stories about people who live in the area!

Also, how many of you guys have taken solo trips? Where did you go? I’m planning to take another solo vacay so any tips you have are definitely appreciated!

Advertisements

How Do You Measure Success?

What is success to you?

The last several months have been quite a whirlwind, between making the decision to quit school & also trying to find a new job that will turn into a career, it feels like I’ve been running around in circles with no progress. When I turned 26 and was feeling completely behind in life, I refused to let myself have another quarter life crisis. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the span of these days & I’ve realized I’m so much stronger in every aspect than I realized and than I ever have been before. I’m still constantly looking for something to keep me busy & no matter how hard I want to, I can’t seem to sleep late & spend the days doing absolutely nothing!

 

*UPDATE: Many of you all know, I have since found a full time job, but am definitely still not where I want to be on my own scale of success.

 

How many of you guys had a quarter life crisis? Make any crazy decisions? I know they’re real yet I know to some of you, freaking out about turning 26 seems ridiculous. I just feel like I should have myself together by this point in life!

 

It seems like so many people ultimately measure success by how much money you make or how high standing in society you are. Over the last year, I’ve realized it’s so much more than that. I admit, money sure does help when times are hard & it seems like more money would bring instant happiness. Of course we all know, sure money can aid in happiness, but it certainly does not create it.

 

Even still, it seems like so many people are worried about how much money they make or how big their house is. Lately I’ve learnned that my success can be measured by how happy I am with the life I’m living & by the steps I take every day to make the best of every moment in my life every single day. I know not every day is perfect and days at the office are often super difficult & just plain draining. But I also know there are people in this world who love their job & who love the career they’ve chosen.

 

I’ve learned that success is best defined by each individual person. To me, it’s measured by genuine happiness & a feeling of accomplishment day in & day out. It’s displayed in the way we carry ourselves from the time we wake up until the moment we fall asleep each day. I know it may be so much harder to see success so simply when you have a family to raise, mortgages to pay & a day job you’re not in love with. What if we all took a step back & revisited one the scariest words we try to live each day? What if we redefined what this word means to each of us, in hopes of easing in to simpler, more fulfilling lives?

 

What kind of advice can you all give? How did you find your passion? What is your passion & how did you know?

 

 

From my experience, success & leading a fulfilling life have so much to do with your morning routine. I used to work at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, working a 9-5, Monday-Friday & for the most part, it was pretty great. I loved getting up at 5 am to go to the 6 am Pure Barre class, walk for 3 miles, shower & head to work! I always carry teeth whitening strips, a green tea bag, my mascara & eyeliner with me & with those few things, I’m always good to go! I have at least one cup of green tea every day because something about it just helps me feel like I can conquer the world! Crazy right? But really. On days that I didn’t go to Pure Barre or the gym before work, I was sluggish and just plain irritable. Very quickly, I realized how important that ‘me time’ before work every day really was.

 

We are all constantly connected via email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever forms of social media we like best. So that hour or so every morning completely for me is always the best way to start my day disconnected from the outside world so I’m able to get myself feeling good!

 

What are some of your morning routines that help get you going every day? What is your go to, no fail item/workout that you have to have every morning?

 

Your takeaway from this one: success is what you make it. Try not to let the neighbors next door or even your sister make you feel inferior about where you are in your life compared to theirs. Everyone is on their own path to success. Work on yourself without worrying about how you measure up to the guy next door. At least that’s certainly what I’m trying to do.

Summer in Chicago

I previously wrote about how much I love Chicago in the winter, so obviously I’m gonna have to talk about how awesome it is in the summer, too!

 

In this one, I’m going to go over the top 5 things to do in the summer in the downtown area in no particular order.

 

For starters, every time I’m there during the summer months, I’m so surprised at how hot it is! I can’t ever get over the heat considering it’s up north and right off the lake! The good news is there’s always a beach pretty close no matter where you are.

 

  1. Architecture Water Ferry down the Chicago River.

This is the best way to see to the city especially if you haven’t been before. It’s a little over an hour long boat ride down the Chicago river and into Lake Michigan to learn about the extensive history and beautiful buildings throughout the city. It’s been several years since I’ve taken this ride, but it was so nice to be out on the water and learning about my favorite city! You can check out Shoreline Excursions for more info on these cruises!

The Wrigley Building.
  1. Navy Pier.

There are truly hundreds of things to do out at Navy Pier. There are several sightseeing cruises or dining cruises that leave from the Pier that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of. One of them is the Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises, which is the company that the Architecture Tour I talked about before is through. They do a great job of getting tourists or even people from the area more acquainted with the city and their surroundings. They also offer Wine Tasting Tours and a variety of others that you definitely need to check out!

 

In addition to river cruises and tours, you can also find tons of places to have lunch or dinner at Navy Pier. They have a food court and a few other restaurants that offer table service. Giordano’s is one to check out for sure!

 

There is also a ferris wheel there, called the Centennial Wheel, that offers some of the greatest views of city you could possibly imagine.

 

They also have many events and exhibits that you should just check their online calendar for the most up to date to on-goings to see what interests you most.

 

  1. Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox game.

Y’all know I would absolutely choose the Cubs games over the White Sox games but I will admit the stadium on the South Side is still gorgeous. Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, is one of the most iconic ball parks in the country and there is no atmosphere on this planet like the one you’ll find in that stadium. No matter if you’re a baseball fan or not, you are still guaranteed to have the time of your life there. I promise. The White Sox stadium has undergone many name changes over the last few years and is currently called Guaranteed Rate Field. I made several trips there when working at my last job and as much as I hated to admit, the field really is pretty. There is a great atmosphere in this park, as well, and I will say the Italian beef is so much better there than at Wrigley. If you can get a ticket to see the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs, you’ll never forget the experience you’ll have that day.

 

Which stadium do you prefer? Why?

 

  1. Millennium Park.

There is always something to do at the park! Catch a concert at their outdoor venue, sit on the lawn for a picnic, visit the Buckingham fountain, walk down the lakefront, have lunch at Park Grill, and you definitely have to see The Bean! It’s also called Cloud Gate and I’m certain you’ve seen pictures all over the place. Standing on the side closest to Michigan Avenue, you’re able to get an awesome picture of the skyline in this mirrored tourist attraction. The list is endless! It’s the perfect place to just lounge around during the afternoon or to get a quick jog in before you start your day. There’s also a new little park area that is pretty fun for kids and adults of all ages.

 

the bean
The Bean.
  1. Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower.

Summer is absolutely the best time to do this with more hours of daylight and less chances of foggy, overcast skies. You’re able to look across the city and out into the lake, as far as the eye can possibly see. Take pictures in the glass bottom Skydeck where the view is phenomenal and certainly one you’ll never forget. Think twice, though, if heights make your knees weak!

 

 

A few bonus places to visit: Eataly (of course!) for gelato and a little shopping, Cindy’s Rooftop Bar (I have yet to go, but from photos I’ve seen, the menu and view are amazing), Shaw’s Crab House for seafood, and the Billy Goat Tavern are some of my favorites!

 

Now plan a long weekend trip this summer and go! Tell me what I should add to the list.

 

What are your favorite places to eat, sleep, and visit in the Windy City?

 

What Are You Planning On?

Alright y’all, I’ve been working on this one for a while and I am entirely too excited to talk about it! I absolutely LOVE to plan. Plan the days, plan the weeks, plan the months. I think it’s so much fun and I absolutely love all the colorful pens and pretty stickers, along with all of the place holders, rulers, and just about any office supply you could imagine. I love notebooks, wall calendars, day-by-day planners and month-by-month planners and any kind of print-out that helps me step my game up. You name it, I’ve tried it and chances are, I love it! It’s rare that you’ll catch me without my planner, a notebook, and my daily notepad at any given time. Of course I know things come up that it’s impossible to plan for everything and I really still do love some spontaneity in my life! I just like to lay out the things I know about the week or month in advance, especially with my work and now that I’m trying my best to run this blog! I’ve also found that by putting my workouts in my planner each week, I’m a lot more likely to attend every day!

I’m going to list some of the essentials that I use and I know I wouldn’t be able to make it through the days without. These are all items I have used and continue to use and I would honestly not have them on this page if I didn’t really feel like you all could benefit from them too! *This post contains affiliate links.

Day Designer Wall Calendar
I’ve recently started to love Day Designer by Blue Sky after using their wall calendars for the last three years. Their designs are always so cute and the layouts are always perfect for my needs. Check out one of their adorable 2017-2018 wall calendars here! This one is very similar to the one I purchased here last year, with the ability to not only write in daily tasks and events, but also include monthly projects and notes in the side bar. I can’t get over how cute the floral is! They offer January through December or July through June formats.

Day Designer for Blue Sky Lined Pad, 3-Pack
This is a product that I just ordered and I can’t wait to use. After downloading a few print outs, I knew this note pad was gonna be a game changer. They’re perfect to use with a clipboard or even tear a few off, fold them up & put them in your pocket to take quicks notes on during a meeting. From there, it’s super easy to transfer any special dates and times to your planner when you have time! Plus this an awesome deal for a three pack!

May Designs Notebooks
My absolute favorite notebooks on Earth are from May Designs. They literally blow any other product out of the water. You can special order your academic planners, notebooks, and stationary from maydesigns.com and their products are gorgeous! I’m not kidding when I say I’ve purchased over 20 books from them and tons of stationary. The designs they offer are perfect for every mood you’ll experience and for each of the seasons! Plus they have excellent customer service. They also have food & exercise journals, as well as agendas and adult coloring books. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for a giveaway and more on my Instagram page!

Only a small portion of my May Designs collection!

Erin Condren Planner
I’ve ordered a LifePlanner from Erin Condren for the last three years, and I could not be more impressed with the designs they offer and with how the inside layouts look. You can choose from vertical or horizontal layouts, and from colorful or black and white. The horizontal is nice for academics, but I prefer the vertical layout so I can break down my days by morning, day, and evening. They come with tons of stickers that already have events written on them and also some blank ones to write in your own events and appointments. Of course you have the option to order and create as many extra stickers for any events you could dream of. All orders and be placed through erincondren.com. Go order for 2018 and let me know which design you’ve chosen!

Erin Condren Life Planner

Daily To-Do List
This is another great alternative that’s similar to the one I currently carry around everywhere. It’s like the notepad version of a planner. It’s broken down into sections for the easiest daily organization possible, without the bulkiness of an actual planner. Each day is broken down by hour to list meetings or special events, there’s a to-do list section, a place to list the 3 things you absolutely have to do that day, and one of my favorite parts is the area where you can write down everything you’ve eaten and how much water you’ve had to drink! How cool?! You can grab yours here!

BIC Atlantis Original Retractable Ball Colored Pens
These are the exact pens that I use for all of my note taking and planning needs. The ink seems to last forever and the colors are so vibrant and pretty! It makes it easy to categorize different events on my calendars. Typically I use green to symbolize pay day or when bills are due, I usually use pink for social events, purple for special work events, the list continues. I also change it up when I’m getting bored of the color coordination I’ve been running with for too long. Regardless of color, these pens write smoothly and it’s like an actual ink pen instead of a marker, so there’s no bleeding through the paper or smearing like the old school gel pens do. Plus these are the perfect, fun colors!

And that’s it! These are some of my favorite things that help me get through each day without going crazy. My job keeps me busy with people telling me little details right and left so with notepads and planners always within reach, my mind is at ease and I’m able to do my work so much more efficiently.

What are your favorite brands and products for planning and organization of every day life? Anything I’ve just got to try? Can’t wait to hear from you!

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!

What’s Your Excuse?

“Dreams don’t happen because you’re busy, they happen because you’re intentional.” – Maxie McCoy

Several years ago, I subscribed to read Maxie McCoy’s weekly newsletters and I could go on for DAYS about how much of a positive impact her words have made on me.

*Before I go any further, I want to say that this post is not sponsored, I just love her words & her motivation. I hope she could help you as well, and that one day I am able to motivate you in ways similar to the way she does.*

Over the last 3 years, I’ve been trying to figure out what on earth it was I wanted to do with my life. When I first graduated, the job opportunities weren’t there like every recent college graduate hopes and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I constantly found myself being too busy to sit down and really think about where I wanted my life to go. I was too busy to make life changing decisions and certainly far too busy to update my resume and apply for jobs that I would actually enjoy.

As you can probably guess, I wasn’t actually busy at all. It turns out that getting home from work each night & sitting outside on the patio drinking wine isn’t busy. It’s lazy. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very enjoyable and relaxing pastime, but when a person is as bored and miserable as I was with my every day life, that isn’t exactly the best way to make changes. I learned in high school that the more things you have on your plate, the better time management skills you create for yourself. This is so important to remember. I’m currently working a full time job and am trying with everything I am to run a successful blog at the same time. I still have so much to learn so I feel like I’m constantly working on the computer, taking notes and attending webinars to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can. So far it’s been exhausting, but so incredibly worth it. There have been social events I’ve turned down because I had a webinar at 8 that I knew would benefit me immensely. Dates with my boyfriend are now at the coffee shop because I have so much work to do. My time is being used so much more efficiently than it ever has before. And it feels pretty darn good. I’m accomplishing so much more each day and already achieving so many of the goals I’ve set for myself.

For the first time in years, I’m waking up every day and living with intention. Not just because I’ve laid out specific goals for each month, week, and even day, but because I’ve realized everything I spend my time on is important. At this point, I am officially and finally busy. And I couldn’t be more happy. It’s reassuring to feel like I’m doing something for myself. I know we all have goals we’re hopeful of, so what is it that we’re going to do today to move closer to achieving them?

How do you lay out your goals? I’d love for you to share a few of them with me!

Being mindful of what you spend your time on day in & day out is the best way to really change your life. I’ve always loved to lay out the week/month/year ahead so you’ll never catch me without a notebook, my planner, and daily notepad. I don’t use them all three all the time, but they’ve definitely played a role in getting me where I want to be in life.

We procrastinate when we’re scared, we tell ourselves we’re “too busy” when we don’t want to make important decisions and choices. So many of us go through life wanting more but rarely actually do anything to get more out of life. What are you going to do today to move you closer to getting everything you want out of your own life?

I’m going to challenge you again to take some time over the next few days to write out things you would like to achieve over the next year. They can be big or small but actually writing them down will help to hold you accountable! Once you have them written out, make notes next to each one about exactly how you will achieve them. Write steps and mini goals for each day that will bring you closer to reaching them. For the longest time, I have wanted to become a runner but I never really did anything about it. I just kept walking while my sister would run to train for her half marathons. Finally, I decided I wanted it bad enough that I would start to do something about it. I laid out a running schedule and have started running 3 to 4 miles a day. Sure it’s not much, but it’s still more than I was doing before and it’s still bringing me closer to running a half marathon than sitting on the couch! Maybe you want to start a blog but don’t feel like you have what it takes. Start by writing out ideas for a niche and just start writing some potential posts!

We are never too busy to do exactly what we want with our lives’. You owe it to yourself to set some time aside to work toward bettering your life each and every day. It’s simply a matter of making yourself a priority and waking up every day to live with intention.

IMG_3906

Going the Extra Mile.

“Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.”

How insanely true is this quote? I took this picture after lunch with my parents last week and all I wanted to do was keep running. It ended up being a gorgeous day regardless of it being overcast with a major chance of storms. The perfect temperature for a run, yet there was no one around. I started thinking about how often the path is wide open for us to start working and follow our dreams, whatever they may be. Then it occurred to me how infrequently we advantage of these opportunities. Why? Is it because we’re scared of failing? Don’t feel like putting in the extra work? Too tired when we come home from our day job to work on ourselves and our own goals? There are so many things that keep us from accomplishing our goals, big or small.

It was 2009 when I first thought I wanted to be an orthodontist. I was born with a severe underbite and a crossbite and spent most of my childhood with mouth pieces, face masks, and retainers before having braces in 8th grade. I literally had every kind of contraption to straighten my jaw that you could imagine. And it all worked. My teeth were straight and my jaw was (& still is!) perfectly aligned. I had an amazing orthodontist through those years- he made the process bearable and even enjoyable. I wanted to do for people what he did for me. His passion for his profession showed every day in the office and it made me want to be that. Once he retired, I shadowed a different orthodontist several times. She was not only running her dental/orthodontics  practice alone, but she was a single mom, worked out twice a day, and was seriously killing it every single day. We spent a lot of time together before the office opened and after it closed and it quickly became official- that’s who I wanted to be like. For a few years, I felt that same passion, too. Then it took me 5 and half years to finish my undergrad and I decided I didn’t want to spend 7 more years in school. That’s what I convinced myself, anyway.
Or was it that I was afraid I wouldn’t get in to dental school? What if I wasn’t as good at it as those two were? I didn’t have the most exceptional grades, but I’d visited the advisors at UofL and they were encouraging every time I was there. Still, something in my mind was too scared to act on what I once felt so strongly about.

Then there’s Pure Barre. It was 2011 when I first heard about the studios in Louisville. I wanted to try instantly. I even had a friend who told me I could go with her. I was so excited, motivated, a little nervous, but actually terrified. I started talking myself out of it because it was too far from home, I didn’t look like the other girls there- the list goes on. It was 2015 before I ever even tried a class! This is the perfect example of why it’s so important to push ourselves to our limits because we never know how perfect it can turn out. Y’all already know how much Pure Barre has changed my life in the last two years so I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer.

It was also 2011 when I first wanted to start a blog. Now 6 years later and I’ve actually started one! I feel so proud to have this thing up & running, no matter how successful it currently is. I’ve achieved one of my biggest goals and it feels so. freaking. good.

I’ve always been one to put in the extra effort at work especially. I haven’t loved every job I’ve had, so it definitely hasn’t been easy to give 120% day in and day out. But in my experience, it’s worth it. At my last job, I started out selling tickets at a museum on the weekends during college. Then I started going on the trips with the mobile museum and quickly became the full time manager and Brand Ambassador for the museum. It was an absolute dream job. I moved up quickly and felt successful for the first time in my life. I reached this point because I was reliable, worked hard every day, and made sure to leave lasting impressions on the customers. Obviously not many other people around me had worked like that because there wasn’t anyone else who moved up like I had. And I’m proud to say I’m the only Brand Ambassador that museum has ever seen.

It’s so easy to give up on ourselves and our own goals because so many of us spend every day working for someone else to achieve their goals. I’m not saying quit your day job. I’m only saying take time to prioritize your own life. Time management is one of the biggest things that has helped me do things to benefit myself. Make bettering yourself each and every day a habit.

I challenge each of you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, no matter what it is. Sure we might not succeed the first time or even the second, but we certainly will never succeed if we don’t try. I recently participated in a 5 day boot camp that helped lay out visions and goals for my life and it’s insane how much something like that will help! Write down your visions and your goals, short term and long term. Then write out the smaller steps you’ll have to take each day to lead you to achieve those visions and goals.

Tell yourself failure is not an option and just keep going. Go the extra mile, unlike so many people we encounter each day. You will be amazed with yourself, I promise!

 

Imagine all the things we could achieve if we would just do them. Make yourself proud, you deserve it!

What are you going to do today that your future self will thank you for? Tell me! 

Asia-Pacific Study Abroad- Australia

Part 1 of 4:

Australia Travels:

As part of my month long Asia-Pacific Study Abroad program as a student at Ball State University, I was lucky enough to go to Sydney, Australia. We spent 4 days there in 2011, and still to date, it’s easily one of the top 5 experiences of my life. During this trip, we didn’t have any classes or assignments until the very end, and as a result, we were able to be fully immersed in the cultures every day in each country we visited.
We left from Indianapolis late on July 20th, 2011 and landed in Singapore on July 22nd. I’ll share events from my Singapore visit in a different post, so be on the lookout! After spending a few days in Singapore, we flew to Sydney, arriving there on July 25th.
Everything about Australia was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
 Summer in Louisville is winter time in Sydney since it’s in the Southern Hemisphere. It was around 50 degrees the whole time we were there and we only needed a light jacket in the mornings and evenings. Coming from the humid and scorching Ohio Valley summer, this type of weather was too perfect.
We landed in Sydney and after getting over the panic of being separated from the rest of the students at the airport, we all caught the tram to check in at The Great Southern Hotel in downtown Sydney. Being lost in a foreign country by yourself is not pleasant but the hotel was beautiful!
As you could imagine, the days were packed with activities.
On the first day, we took the city bus to a ferry ride that would eventually take us to Manly Wharf. The ferry took us through the Sydney Harbor, giving us our first look at the Sydney Opera House. Once we got to Manly Wharf, I was able to take my shoes off and stand in the Pacific Ocean. How cool is it that my first time in the Pacific was in Australia? I’ve never even been to Cali! We visited several shops for souvenirs and got the best gelato I’ve ever had for lunch. There’s something about the chocolate in Australia- it’s SO much better than it is in America so we had to get plenty to bring home with us!
Before we even arrived, our instructor was raving over these delicious homemade noodles we had to get at this little restaurant two blocks from our hotel. We went for dinner on the first night and our group filled the restaurant. And it was absolutely delicious! Just simple noodles with veggies and a soy sauce based dressing made for the perfect end to our first day.
The second day was the winery day- my favorite! We visited two wineries and one pub after driving through true Australian countryside. Seeing kangaroos in the wild was incredible! I literally never thought I would ever be able to experience that in real life! We visited Tempus Two Cellars and Hunter Valley Winery, making sure to bring home a few bottles of wine from each place. Australian wineries are probably what got me started on my love of wine, to be honest. The grounds were so beautiful & the wine was even better. This was day five of being out of America and the day I made so many new friends. There were 20 people on the trip, 16 of us being girls, and to this day, these are still some of the best people I’ve ever known.
Once we got back to the hotel, our instructor went to bed and we all decided to go out for a night on the town. I will never forget using my passport to get my into a club! The drinking age was 18 in Sydney so we all went out and had the most fun! Let me tell you, this was awesome for a bunch of 20 year old kids. 
The next morning was an early one as we got up to hike through the Blue Mountains. We took a cable car up to the highest peaks to see the Three Sisters. It was foggy and cold on the way up, but worth every shiver. The Three Sisters are a strange mountain formation, named after three Aboriginal sisters, who were allegedly turned to stone in order to protect them from harm after falling in love with three men from a different Aboriginal tribe. Have any of you visited the Blue Mountains or Three Sisters? Is there more you can tell me behind the story about them?
The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains
We took a steep train back down the mountains, where I felt like I had to hold on with both hands the whole way down. From the mountains, our group went to a wildlife center where we were able to feed kangaroos and pet koalas. This was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Ever since my aunt visited Australia when I was very young, I always wanted to visit there and bring home memories of koalas like she had. I’ll never forget the little koala she brought home that she still keeps in the chair in her bedroom. Memories like she still has make me so thankful I was able to create my own.
Later that evening, we visited Olympic Stadium and the Opera House before calling it a night after an extremely long, but definitely fun filled day.
On our final full day in Sydney, we walked to the aquarium downtown from our hotel. This aquarium was my first experience with black tip and white tip reef sharks, which are still my favorite species. Ya’ll know how much I love sharks so being able to experience them up close & personal was a dream. We had lunch in Chinatown that day and spent the afternoon shopping at Paddy’s Market, where I found some pretty pearl earrings that I’m still in love with.
On the streets, you can find Aboriginal Australians, people indigenous to the area, who play music on their handmade instruments. We were lucky enough to talk to this man for a while and he was kind enough to play us a song from his tribe. He was extremely friendly and absolutely thrilled to teach us about his family.
Aboriginese. 
 We went out to the bars one last time before saying goodbye to Sydney and we made it well worth it. I have never met so many consistently kind and welcoming people. Everywhere we went, from the moment we landed to the second we took off back to Singapore, everyone welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. I never wanted to leave!
If you haven’t been to Sydney or Australia in general, please put it on your list. It is stunning, the people are amazing, and the experience is one you’ll never forget.
How many of you guys have been to Australia, and what part did you visit? Help me decide where I should go when I go back!! I want to hear your stories!