My Gratitude List: Thanksgiving 2018

My Gratitude List: Thanksgiving 2018

I hope all of my United States friends had a great Thanksgiving! I always take the time around this holiday to reflect on what I’m grateful for, and this year I’m happy to say I am thankful for a lot. It’s easy for me to get caught up in what I’m not happy with in my life, and what I wish was different. Writing this blog post has been a great exercise to remind myself of everything I am grateful for. I would encourage you all to write a gratitude list of your own after you read mine! 

  1. I’m thankful for my family, who supports me, inspires me, and loves me unconditionally. My family is so important to me. I know the holidays can be a stressful time for some people who may not get along well with their family, so I’m feeling grateful to have a family I genuinely love spending time with. 
  2. I’m thankful for my friends, both old and new, who I have shared so many fun memories with this year. My friends inspire me to get out of my comfort zone, open up and talk about my feelings, and just live life to the fullest. I have made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and kept existing friendships thriving this year. Friendships really are one of the most beautiful parts of life. 
  3. I’m thankful for a job that gives me opportunities and luxuries that not everyone has. This year I was able to travel to Costa Rica, Seattle, Laguna Beach, and Orlando. I moved into a house and am able to save my money and feel financially stable. No job is perfect, but there is a lot for me to be thankful for with this one.
  4. I’m thankful for my body. I went to a yoga class this morning for the first time in a while, and was reminded that my body is so strong and gives me so much. It’s easy to get wrapped up in how our body looks, but I was reminded this morning that how we feel is so much more important. 
  5. I’m thankful for my mind. I’ve worked hard over the past couple of years to maintain a healthy mind through therapy. Though mental health is always a work in progress, I feel lucky to be feeling relatively healthy in my mind and soul. 
  6. I’m thankful for the city I call home. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and I feel so lucky to still live here now. Every week there are new events going on, from live concerts, to pop ups like the FOMO Factory, to art installations like the Waller Creek Show
  7. I’m thankful for music. I started teaching myself to play the keyboard this year, and have gotten back into singing as well. Music has always been an important part of my life, and I’m happy I’ve found a way to keep up my passion.
  8. I’m grateful for travel. As I mentioned above, I was able to travel quite a bit this year. I’m so grateful for all of the memories, life lessons, and new friendships that have formed from my trips. I can’t wait to travel even more in 2019!
  9. I’m grateful for myself.  I am often my own harshest critic, but deep down I love myself and am so proud of everything I have accomplished, and the person I have become. I’ve heard people say you should be your own best friend, and this year I have really made that happen.
  10. I’m grateful for this blog, and for each and every person who takes the time to read what I write. A little cheesy, I know, but it’s true! I started this blog on a whim almost five years ago, and I am constantly grateful to have an outlet for my creativity, and people who care about what I have to say. 

What’s on your gratitude list this year? Leave a comment and let me know! 

Opening Up About Being Single

Opening Up About Being Single

In one of my recent posts, I talked about wanting to be more vulnerable, both in my personal life and on my blog. For me, blogging is all about sharing my experiences and aiming to help others. If I can touch even just one person with my writing, I am happy. Lately, so much of blogging and social media in general has become about this facade of perfection. But that’s just not me. I’m not going to pretend for a second that I’m perfect. I’d rather be authentic and share the real parts of life, in the hopes that someone else can relate to me.

With all that said, today I wanted to write about my experience being single. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I even opened up about it in a Facebook post which you can read below. Yay, vulnerability!

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To give some background, I’ve been single for a little over a year. Before that, I was in relationship that lasted for over two years. This past year I have actually genuinely enjoyed being single. I like having independence and being able to fully focus on myself and what I want. I’m planning to write a blog post all about the perks of being single, because I do feel like there are definite perks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t difficult times too. As I mentioned in my Facebook post, it can be overwhelming to constantly be surrounded by couples. Though I know none of my friend’s relationships are perfect, as no relationship is perfect, seeing all of them happy and in love makes me covet what they have.

Having been in a long-term relationship before, I can remember what it was like to have someone by your side, and I want that again. I want that person who I can call and vent to when bad things happen, or get excited with when good things happen. I want someone to travel with and experience new things with. I want someone who will always support my dreams and help me be a better version of myself. Sunday morning I woke up thinking about all of these things that I want and that I feel like I don’t have, and then it hit me. I do have those things, just not in a romantic partner. I am really lucky to have amazing friends and family. They love me, they support me, they make me feel more confident in myself, and they even travel with me. Realizing this doesn’t diminish my desire for a romantic partner, but it does remind me that love is not absent from my life.

I’m writing this from one of my favorite Austin cafes, Cenote. I was writing outside, but then I got bitten up by mosquitos and had to come inside. I’m adding this in here because I realized it has a parallel to what I’m talking about in this post. Mosquito bites suck. It isn’t fun to have itchy bites all over your legs. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m having a great night at one of my favorite places, enjoying good food and a nice glass of wine. Sure, I could choose to focus on the mosquito bites and let that ruin my night, but I am choosing to focus on the positives.

Being single sucks. It is not always fun. It can be lonely and make you doubt yourself. But if you look around you and take everything in, you’ll realize there are still wonderful things you can focus on. This past year has given me so many gifts and offered countless lessons. I’ve been able to focus on myself and my goals and dreams, and it has lead to some amazing memories. I started a new job, I’ve traveled to three new places, I’ve made many new friends and reconnected with old friends, I’ve started learning to play the keyboard, and so much more. By all accounts, this has been a great year. And it all happened without a boyfriend by my side.

What I want and what I need are two different things. When I see my friends in happy relationships, I want that. But if this year has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t need that in order to be happy and successful in life. It doesn’t meant that I don’t still want it or think I will have it eventually, because I definitely do. But it does mean that I am choosing to focus on the present and what I currently have, instead of being sad about what is missing.

If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: Focus on the love you have in your life, not the love you feel you’re missing.

 

Two Years After College: What I’ve Learned

Two Years After College: What I’ve Learned

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Tomorrow marks exactly two years since I walked across the stage at Texas Christian University to accept my diploma for a Bachelor of Science in Strategic Communication. It’s crazy to think that two years have already passed, but at the same time, college seems like ages ago.

As I was reflecting on the past two years, I realized living life outside of college comes with many challenges, and that it takes a lot of effort to have a happy, successful life outside of the college bubble. Though I am in no way an expert in any of the following areas, here are the top three challenges I’ve encountered since graduating, and how I have learned to put in the effort to navigate them.

1. You Have to Make an Effort to Have a Social Life

As I wrote in this blog post, college was a magical time where all of your friends were within walking distance, and for the most part, nobody had busy schedules apart from going to class and studying. When you graduate, you suddenly realize everyone has their own life and their own social schedule, and you have to try harder to see your friends. Not to mention, most of your college friends live in other places now, so making new friends is essential.

However, as long as you make an effort to make plans with people, while also remembering that everyone is as busy as you are, you can maintain a social life that is just as rich as it was in college. I feel very fortunate to have a lot of amazing friends in my life right now, from old friends I have kept in contact with over the course of many years, to new friends who weren’t even in my life this time last year.

2. You Have to Make an Effort to Continue Learning

As I mentioned in this post, it’s been a bigger adjustment than I had anticipated to get used to not having regular classes. When you graduate, you have to actively seek out ways to continue learning, whether that is by reading, listening to podcasts, attending webinars or networking events with panels and speakers, or some other method.

For me, my preferred methods of education have been a mix of some of the above. I got really into podcasts over the last couple of years, and have also been attending regular networking events with my coworkers. And as you all know, I am a big fan of reading books as well. Though it can be harder to find ways to actively learn in your post grad life, it is definitely doable if you put your mind to it (no pun intended).

3. You Have to Make an Effort to Have Hobbies Outside of Work

One topic I haven’t covered in a blog post yet (but that I definitely can if any of you would like me to expand on it) is the difference between having hobbies in college and having hobbies in the “real world.” In college, you are exposed to hundreds of different clubs and organizations, and though you still have to make an effort to join them, it’s relatively easy to do so. I joined a sorority the first week on campus, started working at the school newspaper the next semester, and tried out various other clubs throughout my four years. And for the most part, I found it easy to join them and was often encouraged to join by classmates and friends.

I struggled for a while after I graduated with finding interests and hobbies outside of work. But I finally got into the swing of things a little over a years ago. As you all know, I joined an improv class for about eight months which was a great experience. After I stopped taking the class, I dove into my blog and started organizing a Meetup group for bloggers in Austin. These activities, along with just spending time with friends and family and trying to exercise regularly, have kept me plenty busy and made me feel more fulfilled in my life.

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What are some of the pitfalls of post-grad life you’ve experienced, and how have you helped yourself move past them? Or, if you’re still in college, what are you most nervous about tackling once you leave and enter the “real world”? Let me know in the comments!

It’s Okay To Say ‘No’

It’s Okay To Say ‘No’

The past few months I’ve been practicing saying ‘yes’ to more things in life. From opportunities like attending CitySTRONG and organizing a Meetup group, to friends asking me to go to a concert with them, saying ‘yes’ has lead to a lot more fulfillment in my social life. I could definitely write an entire blog post about this, so let me know in the comments if you’d like to read that! But for today’s post, I am actually going to focus on the idea of saying ‘no’, which can be just as important as saying ‘yes’.

This morning my friends invited me to go to the greenbelt to hike and swim with them. Normally, I would have said “heck yes!” I love going to the greenbelt, and it is finally starting to be nice and sunny here in Austin. However, this morning I chose to say ‘no’. It’s been a really busy, social weekend for me, and I just felt like I needed a day to myself to get some work done (like write this blog post), do my laundry, and relax. I’m someone who loves being around people most of the time, but I also need alone time to recharge and decompress. If I don’t get this time to myself, I tend to get burnt out and feel overwhelmed.

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Photo I took at the greenbelt. Who WOULDN’T want to hike here?

Knowing this about myself, and knowing it is Sunday and therefore my last chance to get a solid amount of free time before the work week starts back up, I told my friends I would have to take a raincheck. This was actually pretty difficult for me, even though it may sound like a tiny decision in the grand scheme of things. Like I said, I’ve been doing a great job of saying ‘yes’ lately, and in some ways this ‘no’ felt like a step in the wrong direction.

However, I realized the policy of saying ‘yes’ should only be taken as far as is healthy for your mind and body. What I mean by that is, if saying ‘yes’ will add more stress, exhaustion or discomfort to your life in any way, you shouldn’t feel obligated to do it. For me, I knew I wanted to take today to be productive but also get some relaxing in, and that I wanted to do this alone since I had been around people all weekend. While going to the greenbelt would not cause me any serious harm in any way, it would make me more tired and prevent me from getting my desired me-time. So I said no. Simple as that!

So here I am writing this blog post at one of my favorite coffee shops, drinking a frappe and eating a brownie, and feeling content as could be. Sure, I still have a bit of FOMO after seeing my friend’s Snapchats at the greenbelt, but I know I made the right decision for me and my needs today.

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Blogging and treating myself to some deliciousness at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters

What do you all think of the concept of saying ‘yes’ to more in life, and how to decide to say ‘no’ when you need to? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!

July, August & September Recap

July, August & September Recap

I dropped the ball on my monthly recap posts since June, so I thought I would bundle the main highlights from the last few months into one blog post to catch you guys up on my life. Enjoy!

Family Beach Vacation
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Growing up, my family and I used to go to Port Aransas every summer. We hadn’t been in a few years, so we decided to take a trip for old time’s sake. I took three days off of work, and left my laptop at home so I could completely disconnect and have some much-needed relaxation time. (I’m thinking of writing a post about how to have a work-free vacation, so let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in that.)

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It was my ideal type of vacation, because it had the perfect mix of chill-out time and adventuring. We spent a good amount of time reading, swimming in the pool and ocean, and watching the Olympics, but we also went out and explored new places in Corpus Christie like the botanical gardens (where a parrot with no beak hung out on my shoulder) and the aquarium!

Elizabeth’s Wedding
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One of my first ever friends, literally from when I was an infant, got married in August! Although she and I haven’t stayed in touch very well in recent years, my mom and her mom have remained best friends, and I was really excited to be able to attend her wedding. It was cool to to witness such a big milestone in her life and to remember playing with her when we were kids. Time really does fly!

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This was the third wedding Brian and I have attended together, so it was fun having him there with me along with my parents. Their reception was in a really cool lounge area. It was decorated with beautiful flowers, and the lighting was perfect. They also had an adorable slideshow playing with baby pictures, and I made it into one of the pictures!

Lauren’s Visit
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Last month, my friend Lauren (who I wrote about in my June Recap post) came to visit me for the weekend! It was so much fun having her here, and we managed to fit a lot of fun into a few days. We went to the Blue Cat Cafe (mentioned in my May Recap post), and ate delicious food at VoodooSpun, and Gourdough’s.

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On Sunday we went to an awesome event put on by Aerie, where we got to take free yoga classes, and meet the very sweet and super inspirational model Iskra Lawrence! Aerie is a unique brand in that they don’t retouch or Photoshop any of their models, and they make an effort to promote body positivity for young girls. I love everything they stand for, and it was really great to meet Iskra and get to hear her talk about how she has managed to stay positive and love herself despite the media and people in the modeling industry making it difficult.

Family Time in Wimberley

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My parents recently rented a house in Wimberley, and they’ve been staying out there almost every weekend. It’s right on the creek, and they are walking distance from a coffee shop, some restaurants, and even a library which they are now members of.

My younger sister and her boyfriend went out to stay with them for a weekend in September, so Brian and I went out on Sunday and we all got to swim and have a nice lunch at The Leaning Pear (which I mentioned in my June Recap). It was really nice visiting with everyone and having a “triple date”, and I can definitely see why my parents are loving it out there so much. It’s so peaceful and quiet compared to the bustle of the city, which makes for a great escape on the weekends.

I hope you enjoyed reading about what I’ve been up to the past few months! I will definitely try to write a recap every month like I did in May and June, so be on the lookout for an October Recap next month.

Answer in the comments: What was your favorite memory from the last three months?

June Recap

June Recap
SD’s 5th Anniversary in Wimberly: June 1-2
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I kicked off June with a few exciting anniversaries, the first of which being my company’s five year anniversary! I remember when I was an intern and we celebrated two years, so it’s pretty cool to see how far we’ve come since then. Our founder, Kristen, planned a fun getaway for us in Wimberley. We all spent one night there and enjoyed the beautiful views, delicious food and drinks at The Leaning Pear, and good company of course. The picture above is Kristen standing on a bridge over the creek that was right by where we stayed.

Year and a Half Anniversary: June 5th
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The second anniversary I was lucky enough to celebrate was a year and a half with my boyfriend. He asked me to be his girlfriend on December 5, 2015, and I gotta say I am very glad I said yes! This is my first long-term relationship, so 18 months seems like a long time to me.

To celebrate our anniversary, we tried a new restaurant my mom suggested called Chez Zee’s and it was a great night. The ambiance is really cute and romantic, and the food certainly did not disappoint. We will definitely be going back again soon!

Houston Weekend Trip: June 10-12

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The following weekend I made a slightly spontaneous trip down to Houston to visit one of my best friends from college, Lauren. She just moved there from Chicago, and had been wanting me to visit since we live so much closer to each other now. The trip was a lot of fun! We spent a lot of the time playing with two adorable dogs, one of which is Lauren’s bulldog Daisy, and the other was a Rottweiler Lauren was watching named Brutus. In the picture above, Daisy and Brutus were play fighting on the couch. It was hilarious to watch! I don’t have a dog of my own, so I always enjoy playing with other people’s when I get the chance.

When we weren’t dog sitting, we spent our time at Lauren’s pool, trying new restaurants, and spending time with some of her new friends. It was a great weekend!

Plano Weekend Trip for Flag Day: June 17-19

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I had two weekends in a row of short road trips. This weekend my boyfriend and I drove up to Plano, TX for a family-reunion-of-sorts, which was centered around the often-forgotten holiday, Flag Day. Basically Brian’s uncle just built a pool in his backyard and was looking for an excuse to have a party, so he decided they should celebrate Flag Day and invite the entire extended family to join in on the fun. Each person (or couple) was tasked with representing a certain flag, and bringing the actual flag if possible. Brian found the Earth Flag on Amazon (above), so we brought that. I think ours was the most unique, if I do say so myself.

We spent all day Saturday spending time with his family, playing various games including pool volleyball, corn hole, and beer pong, and of course eating yummy snacks. I’d already met a lot of Brian’s family, but it was nice meeting more of them and putting a face to some names. Unfortunately we somehow left that weekend without a single photo, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was a blast!

Quantum Leap: June 24-26

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Last but not least, I ended the month attending Quantum Leap, which I mentioned in my last blog College Grad Ramblings: No More Classes. It was a three day event, beginning with a welcome reception at a hotel on Thursday night, where my sister and I met a few new people who were also attending the seminar the next day. The funniest thing that happened that night was when a guy asked if I had a business card, and when I actually pulled one out he seemed shocked and I realized he had been joking. He then asked if he could add us on Snapchat. I’ve never felt more old. Is Snapchat the new networking platform?

Friday we listened to Gary Keller talk all day, and it was very inspirational. He talked a lot about goal setting, and it really motivated me to set goals for my blog. I’d love to grow my audience on here!

The final day was a few hours on Saturday, where we discussed what we had learned on Friday, and got the opportunity to actually write down our goals and how we plan to achieve them. All in all it was a very informative and motivational few days, and I’m really glad I went!

 

That’s it for my June Recap. I hope you all enjoyed hearing about some of the highlights of the past month! On another note, I’m really close to hitting 400 followers on Twitter, so if you have an account go ahead and follow me! I mostly tweet random things I think are funny as well as live tweet The Bachelorette (no shame).

 

College Grad Ramblings: Social Life

College Grad Ramblings: Social Life

I have officially been a college graduate for one year (and three weeks), so I thought I would start a little series where I share some of the big lessons I learned this year.

For the first post, I want to talk about my social life since graduating. Hopefully some of you can relate to this, and those of you who are still in college can get an idea of what to expect.

College is so great because you have all of your friends in one place; you can walk to each other’s dorms, meet up in the cafeteria, or say hi to each other on the way to class. After freshman year you will probably even live with your friends. Hanging out is an effortless task.

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My sophomore roommates and me, the day we moved in
Post-college life is much different. Not only are you most likely not living in the same city as your college friends anymore, but you’re working a full time job. Finding time to see your friends, much less meeting new friends, can seem almost impossible. I was lucky in that I moved back to my hometown and already had a lot of friends here. But I still had to learn to push myself to invite them to hang out, and also had to get outside my comfort zone to meet new friends. I found that with the stress of starting a new job, I often felt too tired or too busy to hang out with friends, even though I knew I should.

If you read my New Years Resolutions blog, you know that one of my resolutions was to make more time for friends. Though I haven’t always lived up to my goal of seeing friends three times a week, I have definitely been pushing myself to jump on any opportunity to be social, no matter how much I feel like just staying home and watching Netflix. A secret I learned is to just say “yes” to any opportunity to go out with friends, before you have time to second guess it or convince yourself you don’t want to go.

I have also been making an effort to meet new friends, which I think is extremely important for anyone who is newly graduated. My improv class has been my main way of making new friends, and I would highly recommend finding a hobby or activity outside of work where you can meet new people. Growing up I always enjoyed having multiple different groups of friends, so this has been a great way for me to find a new group to spend time with.

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My awesome improve class
All in all I think I’ve done a pretty good job of adjusting to my new social life after college, but it is always a work in progress. I still have those days where I don’t feel like being social, and I still feel anxious about meeting new people every now and then. Reminding myself that I will never regret spending time with friends is my main motivation.

Let me know in the comments if you experienced any of these things when you graduated! Also, I’d love to hear ideas for other ramblings I should do about post-grad life.

My Plan for a Happy 2016

My Plan for a Happy 2016

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Hey everyone! I know January is already halfway over, but I figure it’s never too late to share my New Year’s Resolutions with you. My goals for this year all revolve around a specific desire to be happier than I was last year. Now, that’s not to say I wasn’t happy in 2015; last year was actually one of the best years of my life! But I think everyone is always striving to be even happier, so that is what I will attempt to accomplish in 2016.

With this in mind, I came up with a motto of sorts that I hope will define this year:

Take risks, and take care 

To me, this means that I want to focus on leaving fear behind me, and I also want to focus on self care and being more aware of how I am treating my own mind and body. I often feel frustrated or unhappy with my life, which I have talked about in past blogs. I want to take this new year to really take control of my own happiness and make changes in my life that I feel will improve my happiness.

I have separated some specific resolutions into two categories based on my new motto, along with a description for why they are my resolutions and how I hope to achieve them.

do-one-thingRisks:

  • Take an improv class

The idea for improv to be my new hobby came to me rather suddenly, and the more I think about it the more sense it makes. I used to love acting in middle and high school, and I took an improv class one summer and really enjoyed it. I think this will be an awesome way to get outside my comfort zone, meet new people, and pick back up an old passion. I signed up for a 6 week class already, and I’ll start in February!

  • Learn to cook

My inability to cook has actually been an insecurity of mine for a while. My mom and sister love to cook and I have just never followed in their path for whatever reason. I was always either too busy or lacking motivation to learn to cook in college, but now is the perfect time in my life to go for it! I put this in the category of “risks” because for me, it is a bit of a risk. I have always been scared to try new things, and cooking is definitely new territory for me. My plan is to learn to cook one new recipe per week this year. Wish me luck!

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Care:

  • Exercise regularly

I got really good at exercising three to four times a week for a while, but as soon as I started my job in November that all disappeared. While it used to be easy to work out in the middle of the day if I wanted to, I am now constricted to either early in the morning, late at night or on the weekends. Unfortunately I let this slight hurdle stop me from even trying. This year, I plan to find a yoga class or another type of class at my gym during weekday nights, and also go to the gym to work out on weekends.

  • Make time for friends

This one is very important to me. Spending time with friends brings me a lot of happiness, and I don’t feel like I make enough time for my social life as of now. It’s just too easy to go home and watch TV every night. I think making an effort to see friends at least 3 times a week, even if it’s just for a quick dinner, will make a huge difference.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my plan to have a happy 2016. I’d love to hear what some of your resolutions or goals or just general thoughts are for this year!