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! 

Blogger Interview: Cami Fannin

Blogger Interview: Cami Fannin

It’s been a while since my last blogger interview, but this one was definitely worth the wait! I’m excited to introduce you all to Cami Fannin of Cami Like a Tank Top. Cami and I actually met in our sorority in college, and we also both majored in Strategic Communication. I was always impressed by how kind (skip to her answer for question 10 if you don’t believe me) and smart Cami was, and I’ve enjoyed following her blog and Instagram account over the past year.

I was excited to hear her perspective on things, because I find all of her content to be extremely inspirational! I think you all will agree when you read this interview. Cami talks honestly about how she manages to stay true to herself and create genuine content, and has great advice for anyone starting out in the blogging world.

So without further adieu, let’s dive into the interview!

  1. To start things off, can you share one “fun fact” most people don’t know about you?

I’m awful at fun facts – can that be it? HAHA! I think a lot of people are surprised to learn that I was once trained in flying trapeze and wanted to join the circus for a while! I’ve also never broken a bone, except for my right pinky toe twice.

  1. I’d love to hear the origin story of Cami Like A Tank Top. What inspired you to start a blog and second Instagram? Did you have a specific goal in mind? Did you have any fears going into it?

I’ve always been a creative writer and stylist in a sense. I used to want to become a fashion magazine editor or fashion buyer, so I played around with many different blogs over my lifetime. I actually recently found my very first blog I wrote with my friend in middle school, so if you want a good laugh check it out here: http://couturecrazed.blogspot.com/.

I stopped blogging my senior year of college because I just didn’t have the time or direction to turn it into something of worth. A few months later, I was graduating college, getting engaged, turning 21, moving to a new city, and starting my first full time job all at the same time. I couldn’t find articles on the advice I needed, like how to make new friends in a city and how to negotiate your salary. I saw there was a gap between college bloggers and “adult” bloggers who cooked 3 course meals and wore designer clothing. I decided to launch Cami Like a Tank Top last year to provide conversations on how to adult, which incompasess topics on style (focused on affordable items from Target and H&M), wellness, adulting, relationships and more!

In terms of goals, I try not to get too caught up in the “I want to hit X amount of followers” or “collaborate with X brand” type goals. My goal is to just have a creative outlet and foster a community. I want my blog to be like a friend – providing some fun anecdotes and real advice.

I had a million fears! I still do. I actually kept my blog a secret and didn’t tell anyone I knew personally about it for about 6 months because I was embarrassed people were going to judge me or criticize me. I don’t have the largest following (but I do have the best, they are all so amazing!) so I thought people would think I’m stupid for trying something like this and not succeeding quickly. Luckily I’ve found that the blogging community is insanely supportive of everyone regardless of your following, content, etc. We all want each other to succeed in whatever our goals are.

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  1. One of the things I struggle with most is finding time to blog and focus on Instagram, on top of a full time job. Not only do you have a full time job, but you’re also planning a wedding! Do you have any tips for managing your time and staying motivated?

Oh my gosh, if I did then all my problems would be solved! Honestly that has been my biggest struggle. I get very overwhelmed but I just take it day-by-day. I’m sure I could dedicate more time to my blog if I didn’t have a full-time job or a wedding, but my blog was never supposed to be more than a hobby for me. I’m so thankful for what it has become, but I always remind myself at the end of the day, it’s just Instagram. I can control how much time I put into it and I may be a “smaller account” because of that, but life is so so so much more than that app for me right now.

That didn’t really answer your question so for time management I recommend making a schedule and planning out content well in advance. I normally have 1-2 shoot days a month where I just cram in different outfits and shoots to have content for the next few weeks. I also try to write on the weekends or 1-2 nights of the week after work. I also have a schedule for when I post certain series and I have sale trackers to help me plan out sale alert posts. It’s all about being prepared.

Motivation is a different story. I’m actually going through a bit of a re-brand because I found myself constantly uninspired and unmotivated. I thought about deleting my blog, but I realized I just needed to pivot what I was blogging about and I feel so much more inspired. I would suggest taking time away if you are unmotivated and really think about what content you are producing and why. If you can’t answer that, you’re probably forcing whatever you’re doing and if you force it too much, it will cause you unnecessary stress and lower your content quality.

  1. A lot of people struggle with comparing themselves to others, and worrying about not being good enough, especially when we spend so much time on social media. What’s your advice for staying positive and self-confident?

Hi, this is me right now! I think the best thing to remember is that everyone, and I mean everyone, goes through this. It’s hard to see someone’s post or following and not compare it to yours. I just try to remember that what you are seeing is most likely a highly-styled photo that was taken by a photographer and then edited – it’s gorgeous and well-thought out but it’s not representative of real life. It’s a highlight – a carefully crafted highlight. Nothing wrong with that on its own but you can’t compare that photo to what you see in the mirror. Be yourself and just have fun. In particular for social media, if it stops being fun, take a break and/or unfollow that person. I promise you it is the best thing you can do for yourself.

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  1. I’m a huge proponent of women supporting women, and working to lift each other up. Who are some of your idols in the blogging and Instagram community, and why?

There are so many are you kidding me?! I love the entire Instagram community. If I had to choose, I love Lauren of Lake Shore Lady, Kate of Classy and Kate, Wesley of Have a Wesley Day and Katie of Katie’s Bliss. These ladies have so much fun putting together their content and you can see that genuine passion in their photos. I love how they engage with everyone, and even before I started blogging, these ladies would reply to my emails and comments and really cared about the community they were fostering. I definitely look up to them. I also love Lucie Fink because her content is just inspiring in the deepest sense. She reminds me that it is important to constantly learn new things and open up your creativity every day.

  1. What is one piece of advice you’d give someone who wants to start their blogging/Instagram journey?

Really really realllllyyy evaluate why you are doing it, what your goals are and how you plan to get there. I wish I had thought more about this because I probably would’ve saved myself lots of stress. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “Instagram game” and to think you want to be like X when that’s not you. That’s a lesson I’m going through right now. I got so caught up with followers and engagement and collaborations that I really lost my voice. I was posting content that was not genuine to myself and I was basically forcing it to be like every other top blog out there. Now that I’m creating content that is genuine to who I am outside of the blog, I’m having much more fun. I had to remind myself that for me personally, this is supposed to be a fun hobby, not a job.

Blogging takes hard work. It sounds silly at first, but it is hard work and it’s frustrating and there’s a lot of judgement from the outside world. You have to have thick skin and be ready to overcome all of those challenges and more.

Sorry if that’s a little harsh, but I wish someone was as honest with me starting out. With that said, if you really want to do this, go for it! Blogging is such a fun thing to learn and create. When starting one, I also recommend reaching out to people you admire on the platform. I DM’d a lot of amazing women who are now my blogging friends. You never know what could happen.

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  1. What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My fiancé, my family & friends (because friends are basically my family) & a healthy body that loves green juice (I just drank that so it’s top of mind right now!).

  1. We originally met back in college, in our sorority. What is one piece of advice you would give to College Cami?

YES, BOOM BOOM (ADPi’s will understand). I would tell College Cami to stop planning, and just enjoy. I spent all of college preparing for post-college life. I got an internship my freshman year and always had a side job or internship after that. I once had 5 jobs, on top of school. I was obsessed with my future career. Once I met Jake I just focused on graduating and moving in with him and our future relationship. I barely enjoyed senior year because of that. Very rarely in school did I ever just stop and realize where I was at the moment. I didn’t go out very often or do crazy adventures. I was so obsessed with the next step and treated college just as a stepping stone to my future. I would recommend to anyone to just enjoy where you are. Focus on your career, yes, but adult life hits you fast so enjoy being young and irresponsible for a little while.

  1. What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

That’s tough but I would say that I most proud of the career I’ve built, and I hope to continue building it. I’ve always wanted to be a C-suite exec or entrepreneur so we will see what happens!

As for blogging, I’m proud of where I am right now and the content I have coming up. I remember feeling so happy when I was accepted into RewardStyle (Like to Know It) and called my mom crying that I was “a real blogger now!” because that’s what I thought it took to be a “real blogger” (spolier alert, that isn’t)! 10K Instagram followers would be my next goal because I think the swipe-up feature is fun.

I’m also proud to have run my first 5K this summer after saying I was going to do it for 5+ years!

  1. I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could have one super power, what would you choose, and why?

As a funny response, I would say the power to conjure up cookies at any moment. In a more serious sense, I wish I had the power to take away someone’s emotional pain. Like if a girl was crying over a boy, I wish I could hand her a teddy bear and Ben & Jerry’s to make her feel better. Or be able to give super hugs that just heals someone’s heart when they get one.

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I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Cami! You can find her on Instagram @camilikeatanktop and at her blog www.camilikeatanktop.com.

I’d love to get to know you all better. Pick your favorite question from this interview and add your answer in the comments below!

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.

 

Dealing With Feeling Left Out

Dealing With Feeling Left Out

In my last blog post, I wrote about trying to be more vulnerable. I want share my thoughts and feelings about a variety of topics on this blog, in the hopes that some of you can relate. So with that in mind, today I want to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately, which is the idea of feeling left out.

In the spirit of vulnerability, I’m going to start by sharing one of my most vivid childhood memories that deals with feeling excluded. In fourth grade, I had become very close with a girl in my class. We would wear matching outfits to school so we could be “twins”, and were attached at the hip for most of that year. Then suddenly, my friend started spending time with another girl. I noticed the two of them walking to classes together and playing on the playground without me, and I started feeling jealous and hurt. I was worried I was losing my best friend.

I remember one day in particular, we were walking to PE class. I saw my friend and her new bestie walking in front of me. I tried to catch up with them, but they turned around, looked at me, and walked faster to avoid me. Not only did this make me feel even more sad, but it also made me angry. In fact, I still remember exactly how angry it made me feel, and I would argue to this day that is the angriest I have ever felt in my entire life. I was so angry that when we were running laps in PE class a few minutes later, I ran behind Friend Stealer and pushed her down! Or rather, I attempted to push her down. My skinny, weak self only managed to make her stumble.

Moving on to current times, I think social media has only made it easier to feel left out. I recently checked Instagram, only to see some of my friends hanging out without me. Granted, I already had plans that night, but I still got that familiar pit in my stomach when I saw their Stories. Social media makes it so easy to see what other people are doing at all times, so it’s easy to feel left out or get FOMO. When situations like this come up, I notice that my first internal reaction is similar to how I felt in fourth grade. I start to think negative thoughts like, “am I losing my friends? They probably don’t want to hang out with me anymore.”

Now, I want to be clear that deep down, I don’t truly believe those kind of negative thoughts. When I try to take my emotions out of it and just look at the situations logically, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation that does not involve people purposefully excluding me. But that’s the thing about emotions, isn’t it? You really have no control over how something makes you feel. The only thing you have control over is how you choose to react. Luckily, as an adult, I have gained the ability to stop myself from outbursts like pushing someone down when they exclude me. I no longer feel the overwhelming anger building up inside me, but I do still feel the sadness.

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When I experience situations where I feel left out, I choose to focus on the positive side of things. I remind myself of all the friends who are making an effort to spend time with me. Instead of letting the negative self-talk consume me, I attempt to change the narrative in my head. I think about all of the fun times I’ve had with friends recently, and remind myself that those fun times aren’t going to end just because a few people hung out without me. Sometimes by just thinking a little more logically about the situation, I’m able to make myself feel a little better.

It’s fascinating to me how, although we undoubtedly mature as we age, we still face many of the same emotional struggles as we did when we were kids. We just learn how to handle them better. Instead of pushing someone down, I’m choosing to get my feelings out in a blog post, and focusing on the positives in life. Yay for being more mature than my fourth grade self!

Do you have any childhood memories of feeling left out? Do you still have moments of feeling that way now? Let me know your experiences in the comments!

First Quarter Check-In: New Year’s Resolutions

First Quarter Check-In: New Year’s Resolutions

The first quarter of 2018 has flown by! I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how to stay motivated and accountable for my goals. I want 2018 to be the year I accomplish a lot, so I thought I would take this time to share an update on how my New Year’s Resolutions are going so far, and talk about what I could improve.

The Successes

Travel to at least 3 new places

I’m on my way to success in this resolution. A week from today, I will be arriving in Costa Rica! My mom and I are going on vacation for a week, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve never been to Costa Rica, so this will mark #1 on my goal of 3 new places this year. I don’t have the other two trips booked or planned, but I will keep you all posted.

Try new restaurants in Austin

I have a list of restaurants I still want to try, but so far I would say this has been a success. I tried Picnik the other night, which is a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for a while now. I actually went alone, which is something I’m always nervous to do, but it was a great experience and the food and drink were delicious!

I posted about the idea of being nervous to go to dinner alone on my Instagram and Twitter, and it was really interesting to see what people had to say! Let me know in the comments your thoughts on going to dinner alone.

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Berry Basil Smash Cocktail

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Orange Chicken & Broccoli

Learn an instrument

This was honestly one of the resolutions I wasn’t sure I would succeed at, so shoutout to my parents for helping it come to fruition! For my birthday in March, my parents got me a piano keyboard, and I’ve loved playing around on it and teaching myself some songs. It’s harder than it seems to learn even simple songs, but YouTube tutorials really help. Plus, it’s fun to have a musical outlet! If I get brave enough I might share some videos in the future of me playing the piano and even singing…

Needs Improvement

Write the first draft of my book

This resolution was possibly the tallest order, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for failing so far. I’m going to be honest – I have not written a single sentence of my book. I’m going to need to be more determined to write in the next 9 months if I’m going to complete this goal.

My plan is to write something every single day, whether that is a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire chapter. I think making small steps like that will really help to get started.

Find a workout routine

This one hasn’t been a total failure, but has also not been a total success, so I’m categorizing it under “needs improvement.” My mom and I try to go on walks 3-4 times a week before I go to work, which is a good start. I also enjoy taking yoga classes, but I have not been very consistent about it. I would like to start doing more cardio, but I still just need to figure out a good schedule and motivate myself to actually work out!

Find a blogging/YouTube routine

Although I would love to be able to report back that I have been uploading YouTube videos and posting on my blog consistently, that is unfortunately not the case. However, I do want to acknowledge the strides I’ve made. I FINALLY uploaded a YouTube video yesterday, and I think just uploading a new video has helped boost my confidence and makes me more likely to continue uploading. Just need to find that steady cadence! I actually touched on the topic of staying motivated in my video, so check it out and leave me a comment with your suggestions if you get the chance.

 

Thanks for reading (and watching)! Let me know in the comments how your resolutions/goals have been going so far this year. I think it’s important to keep ourselves accountable, and also to help encourage others to do the same.

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

A little over a week ago I turned 25, and something about this age has made me reflect on everything I have learned in my life up until now. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am still very young in the grand scheme of things, and I have a lot more to learn about this thing called life. But I also feel that I have learned a thing or two on my journey thus far, so I thought I would share 25 nuggets of wisdom today, in honor of the 25 years I’ve been on this earth.

  1. If you’re afraid to do something, I ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” This is what my mom always asks me when I’m feeling nervous. Something about acknowledging what I’m really afraid of helps me think logically about the situation, and often makes me realize there isn’t much to be afraid of in the first place.
  2. If you want to get to know someone better, they probably feel the same way about you. Ask that coworker to eat lunch with you. Reach out to that new friend you just met to see if they want to grab dinner. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
  3. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to be judging you. This is something I like to tell myself when I’m worrying too much about what others think of me. If you feel like you made a bad first impression on someone, I guarantee that person is thinking the same thing about himself/herself.
  4. Don’t put things off. If not now, when? I’m just as guilty as the next person of procrastinating, but I always feel so much more satisfied when I get things done. Speaking of which…
  5. Write to-do lists. I write lists of what I want to get done both at work and in my free time. I’m looking forward to crossing write blog post off my list after this!
  6. Try to say yes more. I’ve been testing this out a lot lately, and I’m already seeing positive results. In the last few weeks, I’ve said yes to going on a trip to Costa Rica in April, going to a trivia night for the first time, and attending an event with my coworkers where I ended up making some new friends! But with that being said…
  7. Know when to say no. As much as I am an advocate for saying yes, I have also been working on knowing my boundaries and when I need to say no. For me, that normally manifests when I find myself doing too much for other people and not paying enough attention to my own wants and needs.
  8. It’s important to get “me time” every week. I have a fairly busy schedule between work and my social life, and I’m the type of person that needs time to recharge. That’s where saying no comes in, as I sometimes have to turn down invitations from friends in favor of staying in and relaxing for a night.
  9. The most important relationship you have in life is the one with yourself. Be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter, and your own #1 fan. When you truly love yourself, others will love you even more.
  10. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. I’ve written about this quite a lot. From my time taking an improv class, to starting a YouTube channel, I’ve been pushing myself to do the things that scare me more and more as I’ve gotten older. And the kicker is, I never regret it!
  11. Don’t ignore your passions. Find ways to do more of what you love. A recent example for me is that I’ve started teaching myself to play piano again, after not playing for many years.
  12. Be selfish sometimes. My first instinct is to think about the other person and how they feel or what they want. This is a great quality to have, but I often need to remind myself I deserve to get what I want sometimes too.
  13. Don’t dwell on the past. In the end, this only brings you more pain, and holds you back from truly appreciating what you have.
  14. Always remember to be grateful. When I’m feeling down, I like to remind myself of all of the positive things in my life. No matter what you’re going through, there is always something to be grateful for.  
  15. It’s okay to fail. Nobody is perfect, everyone messes up from time to time. Plus, failures often teach us the best lessons and help us grow more than our successes.
  16. The logical and emotional parts of your brain don’t always agree. Sometimes your head knows something is a bad idea but your heart doesn’t want to listen. Or vice versa. The best thing you can do is just go with your gut instinct.
  17. Spend as much time outside as possible. Nothing makes me happier than going on a walk on a nice sunny day. Nature can truly feel healing at times!
  18. There’s no shame in going to therapy. You always hear people talk about exercising and taking care of your body by eating right, but we still don’t talk enough about taking care of our minds. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health!
  19. You’ll have bad days, weeks, months, and even bad years. But there is always something good amongst the bad. Focus on the good.
  20. Feelings aren’t facts. Just because you feel one way, doesn’t mean everyone feels that way. At the same time, just because someone feels differently than you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Nobody can control how they feel.
  21. Hindsight really is 20/20. It’s the unfortunate truth that situations and events in life become much clearer when they’ve become history. Don’t beat yourself up for not seeing something in the moment. Be thankful you can learn from your mistakes and move on.
  22. If someone annoys you, they probably remind you of yourself. This is a lesson I learned from my dad. We don’t like to see ourselves mirrored in others, which is why opposites can attract in friendships and romantic relationships. Whenever I express dislike for someone, my dad always asks me “what about that person reminds you of yourself?”
  23. Don’t be afraid to let people really know you. I’ve been trying to push myself to share more of my life with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who read this blog.
  24. Be fearless in the pursuit of your goals and dreams. I truly believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I try to set a lot of goals for myself, both in my personal life and my work life, so I always have something to be working towards.
  25. Never stop learning. I’m sure in the next 25 years of my life I will learn many more valuable lessons. And who knows, maybe I’ll still be sharing them on here!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on these life lessons, and share some of your own!

Also, I’d love to connect with you on social media! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

As I mentioned in my 2017 Reflection post, I accomplished a lot last year. But in true perfectionist fashion, I am determined to accomplish even more this year. I’ve never been one for setting strict resolutions, but I do like to set goals for myself to have an idea of what I’m working towards. So here are some of the things I would love to do in 2018….

Write the first draft of my book

Perhaps my most hefty goal, I would love to get started and hopefully write a first draft of a book. I’ve had the idea for it for years now, and have written parts of it on and off for a while now, but I want 2018 to be the year I actually take it seriously. I don’t want to give too many details about it yet, but I will definitely keep you all posted on my progress!

Travel to at least 3 new places

Like I mentioned in my 2017 Reflections, I was lucky to be able to travel quite a bit last year. However, it only made me want to travel even more this year! There are a few places in Texas I still haven’t visited, along with a few other states and countries that are on my wish list. Honorable mentions go to San Francisco, New Orleans, and anywhere in South America. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to make it to at least three new places!

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In Crested Butte Colorado during my vacation in July

Find a workout routine

Working out and I have a strained relationship. I tend to go through periods of time where I exercise on a regular basis, and then periods where I don’t so much as go on a walk. I’m hoping to make 2018 the year I finally get consistent. I haven’t decided on a specific schedule yet, but I just want to get on a routine that I feel comfortable with. As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, exercise makes me feel happier as a whole. Happy body, happy mind!

Find a blogging/YouTube routine

Like exercise, I tend to go through slumps in my blogging and, more recently, my YouTube channel. I guess everyone experiences that with resolutions to a certain extent, but I would like to get into a routine with uploading YouTube videos consistently, and writing new blog posts consistently. Again, I haven’t decided on the schedule, but I would just like to stay consistent and have a goal to work towards every week/month.

Try new restaurants in Austin

Despite the fact that I was born and raised in Austin, I sometimes feel woefully ignorant to where the best restaurants are in the city. I always enjoy exploring new places (hence the travel resolution above), so why not explore within my own city? This year I’m hoping to discover some new favorite places to eat. And I will definitely capture them on this blog!

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At Elizabeth Street Cafe for my birthday last year

Learn an instrument

Last but certainly not least, possibly the most fun and exciting resolution I have is to pick up an instrument! I played piano and violin in grade school, and I was in choir in high school. I’ve always loved music, and the past couple of years I have had the urge to start playing an instrument and/or singing again. My dad recently got a ukulele, and I’ve been thinking about getting one myself! Either that or a cheap keyboard to learn how to play piano again. Like my other resolutions, I will keep you all posted on what I decide.

 

I’m pleased to say I’m feeling very optimistic about the coming year. I know I said this last year, but I am determined to make 2018 MY YEAR! What are some of your 2018 resolutions? And what are your tips for sticking to them all year round? Let me know in the comments!

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2017 Reflection: A Year Of Change

2017 Reflection: A Year Of Change

2017 tested my resilience. It was a year full of life changes which made me question what I thought I already knew about love, family, happiness, and life in general. It was tough, but I was tougher. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone more times than I can remember, and it all paid off in the long run.

In 2017 I accomplished a lot with my blog. I started an interview series, and got to talk with so many inspiring women, including one of my favorite Bachelorettes, Kaitlyn Bristowe. This past year also gave me the opportunity to organize my own Blogging Meetup Group, which lead to me meeting a lot of other bloggers in the Austin area. Perhaps the biggest step outside of my comfort zone, and a personal victory for me, came when I started my own YouTube channel. Though I haven’t posted a new video in a while, it’s something I’m looking forward to continuing this year.

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Me with Shawn Boothe, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Erin Oprea. Trying not to fan girl too hard! 

2017 also brought a lot more travel than 2016, with trips to Las Vegas and Crested Butte, two places I’d never been before, along with smaller adventures to Fort Worth and Fredericksberg. In 2018 I hope to travel to at least three new places. I don’t have anything planned yet, but judging from everything I accomplished in 2017, I’m sure I can make it a reality.

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After climbing to the top of Mount Crested Butte. Look at that view! 

As I mentioned above, 2017 really tested my resilience. A lot happened over the course of  about four months, including quitting my job before I had a new one lined up, letting someone back into my heart only to say goodbye for a second time, and adjusting to a new family structure I didn’t choose or want. I had to come to terms with the fact that change is inevitable, and the only way to survive in life is to move forward and stay grateful for what you still have.

Here I am at the start of 2018, and I couldn’t be happier with my new job; I’ve truly let go of my past relationship; and I’ve come to feel at peace with the new family dynamic. I’m really proud of myself for staying strong and remaining (relatively) optimistic throughout all of the hardships I faced this year. I’m so happy to be entering a new year with amazing friends and family by my side, and a renewed determination to make this the best year yet.

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What was your biggest accomplishment in 2017? What about your biggest hardship? I’d love to hear about your year in the comments below!

 

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last blog post! I’ve been wanting to write again for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what to write about and I’ve also been very busy so it’s been easy to make excuses as to why I can’t blog. But here I am, and that’s all that matters!

I think this post will be a bit of a stream of consciousness. I like the idea of just sitting down and writing instead of overthinking what I should write about. So apologies if this is all over the place.

The short answer to where I have been these past two months is: working. I started a brand new job the first week in October after taking some time off from work for about three months. It’s crazy that a month and a half has already gone by at my new job! I’ve been loving it so far, from the work I’m doing to the people I’m surrounded by, to the overall culture of the company. I’m still doing social media marketing, so the work feels familiar, but I’m learning a lot of new things and I’m excited for the opportunities to learn even more and grow in this new position. Overall I’m feeling very hopeful for the future of my career, which is something I couldn’t have said a couple months ago.

The more abstract answer to “where have I been” is: working on myself. As I mentioned in my Life Changes post, I have been through a lot of changes in the past few years. What I didn’t mention is that I have also been through a lot of change in the past few months. Starting around May, things started to shift in my life, and at times I felt really out of control. I felt like everything was happening to me, and I will admit I probably played the victim a bit. I kept wondering why. Why was I forced to leave my job? Why did my relationship have to end? So many things happened over the summer and into early fall, and I won’t lie, it was really difficult for me.

I felt like I had two choices: I could either use this time as a growing experience, and try to learn more about myself and figure out how to be happy, or I could wallow in my misfortunes and give up. As you might be able to guess, I chose to be happy. I found my new job, which I feel so lucky to have been offered. I started spending more time with friends and family. And I started working harder by myself and in therapy to become a better version of me.

I wish I could say I had some kind of huge epiphany, or that I have some sage wisdom to share with you about what has changed in these past couple months to make me a happier person, but I don’t. All I know is that I am feeling really confident in who I am right now, and I’m feeling really happy with where my life is. Of course I still get sad and angry and scared like everyone else, but overall I feel that right now I am in a better place than I have been this entire year.

So with that said, I am making a commitment to improve myself even more, by doing things that make me happy. I’ve been working and spending a lot of time with friends, but as a result I have let some of my hobbies and passions fall to the side. I haven’t been blogging, and I haven’t been exercising as much as I’d like to. So I guess I’m using this blog post as a way to promise myself I will try harder to do those things more often. This blog post is a good start, and I am heading over to do some yoga with my mom after this!

Like I said at the beginning, this post was more of a stream of consciousness than anything, so bravo if you’re still with me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’d love if you would leave me a comment and let me know where you’ve been lately, however you’d like to interpret that question.

Table Talk Tuesday With Jenny (Glam TravelGram)

Table Talk Tuesday With Jenny (Glam TravelGram)

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Jenny from the awesome travel blog Glam TravelGram over Skype. Jenny is such a sincere person, and her passion for travel and writing really inspired me to put even more work into my blog. I know you all will get just as much out of reading her responses to my questions, as I did with talking to her.

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Why did you decide to start a travel blog?

I have a passion for travel, and it’s something I get to do a lot in my career [as a conference planner]. Throughout my career I’ve seen the beauty of travel, and with this passion I wanted to do more. I was always posting on social media and writing memoirs about my experiences. I found myself almost over-posting on social media, but my friends liked it, and they were always asking me for advice.

One night I was talking to my brother on the phone, and I said I had been thinking of starting a blog for a while, but I wasn’t sure if I should start it because there are so many travel bloggers out there, and I didn’t know if I could succeed. He said he thought I had the talent for it, and I should try it and just see how it goes. That same night, I started my blog!

I like what you said under ‘Why I Travel’ in the About section of your blog: “Every time I leave my home, I come back to it a different and better version of myself.” What exactly is it about traveling that you think makes you a better version of yourself?

I’ve met people from all walks of life, and seen people who live in much harsher environments than myself. Seeing people from different religions and customs has really widened my scope of knowledge about the world we live in, and makes me realize how blessed I am in my own life. After seeing so many people from different backgrounds, speaking different languages, I realized we aren’t so different. We all speak the same language of love. We all want to be loved and we all want to love. The world is so connected.

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What is the biggest lesson traveling has taught you?

Being present, in the moment, and really seeing what’s in front of you. I wasted a lot of time taking photos and being on my phone while I was traveling, and now I’m trying to focus on seeing things with my own two eyes, and actually recording those memories in my head so I have stories to tell instead of just photos to show. 

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far with your blog?

I’m proud that I got to learn some of the technical aspects of blogging. I like to go behind the scenes and make sure that I’m tuned into my website as a whole, to make sure it is running properly, and that it’s aesthetically pleasing to my readers. I want to know the ins and outs of everything.

But what makes me most proud is that I’ve been able to really explore my creativity and my writing skills. One of the articles I wrote recently on the Mojave Dessert, I would call my masterpiece, because I put a lot of thought into that. I hope to continue writing like that and really exploring the kinds of things I can do with my writing.

What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I’d like to grow a steady readership, which I think is the most difficult part in blogging; building a loyal audience. My blog is still only 3 months old, so I’m just hoping I can keep a steady readership from here on out. To gain followers I’ve been doing what I did from the beginning, which is promoting on social media. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are my main portals, and they’ve all been doing fairly well, Instagram being at the top.

It sounds like you have a lot going on in your life from your career to your blog to your extensive traveling schedule. How do you balance everything in your life? 

Having the support of my husband has helped a lot. He is constantly reminding me what’s most important in life, and helping me prioritize. I’m also a very organized person. I plan out my days and set goals for myself which helps me accomplish everything. But I wouldn’t be able to do all of this without the support of my husband. He understands and supports me. So no matter what, I make time for him because he is my priority.

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Who are you most inspired by in your life, and why?

My main inspiration is my mom. She’s Super Woman and I don’t know how she gets everything done. I look to her and I think “okay, I want to be like that.” So she definitely inspires me in a lot of ways.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

My biggest piece of advice is to not give up. After about a year, a lot of people decide to stop blogging. So I say, push through it. Get through that year. Keep going no matter what. One of the biggest lessons blogging has taught me is to have patience.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m a hardcore perfectionist, from the way that I dress to the way that I write. It takes me ten times longer than most people to do things because it’s never perfect, and I want to produce excellent things. My dad taught me growing up that you have to always be striving to be better than you were yesterday. And those have become the words I live by. I can’t even help it, it’s in my blood! A lot of people don’t know that about me, but I guess now they’re going to know…


Don’t worry, Jenny, your perfectionist secret is safe with us! 🙂

I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Please take a moment to check out Jenny’s awesome travel blog and social media accounts (linked below), and as always please get in touch with me if you’d like to be featured on my interview series!

My email if you’d like to collaborate: shelly@shellyray.com