Category Archives: thoughts

i’m still cookie dough.

So, I’ve been 30 for about three weeks now. And while turning 30 wasn’t a huge, life-altering thing to experience, saying “I’m 30” still feels strange and foreign on my tongue.

29 was a really good year. I got married, I traveled a lot, I did well at my job. For the most part, I felt like a functioning adult.

But there’s something about turning 30 that feels daunting for a lot of people, if not almost everyone. I know that it felt very much that way for me. It’s the end of a era, a notable transition from one decade of your life to the next. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of have a lot of preconceived notions about what you and/or your life should be like when you turn 30. We believe that we need to have achieved certain milestones or accomplishments before turning 30 or we’ve somehow failed ourselves.

I have friends who thought they needed to have done the following before turning 30: be married (or at least well on their way to being married), own a house or a car, understand how to create and maintain an investment portfolio, traveled internationally, climbed the corporate ladder, quit their 9-5 and chase their dreams, have a decent amount in their savings account… the list goes on and on and on. We all have a wide variety of intangible things we think we need to have done before beginning a new decade.

I know that my only stipulation for myself was “have your shit together by the time you’re 30.” And I honestly think I do. My marriage didn’t weigh into this, but traveling did. I own a car and hopefully next year, I’ll own a home. I have a savings account and I can pay off my bills with no issue or strain on my finances. I am doing well and, whether I like it or not, am now a 30 year old adult.

But, in the words of my favorite heroine*, I’m still cookie dough.

I think the fear of turning 30 also comes from the fear of being locked into who you are now or the life you currently have. As if it somehow can’t change once you leave your 20s behind.

I know that’s not true. I know that who I was at 25 isn’t who I am now. So who’s to say who I am now will be who I am when I’m 35? My life could look completely different then. There’s no real way of knowing but I learning to embrace the fact that the one constant will always be change.

Turning 30 is a milestone, just not to the extent I had dreaded it would be. If anything, I look forward to learning and growing and becoming whoever it is I’m meant to be. For this first year, and hopefully for a few more to come, I’ll try to live by this phrase:

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So, I’m still cooke dough. I’m not done baking yet. But one day, I’ll be cookies.

 

*Brownie points to you if you know this reference, but for this who don’t, it’s from the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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around the world and back again.

Somehow I blinked and all of my anticipated travel came and went. With the exception of two trips to NYC in the next couple of months, I’m officially done traveling for the year.

I wish I had made an effort to write about my trips in a timely manner. I’m only sitting down now to write something down because all of my trips over the last seven months have been so important to me. I’ve passed through countries I didn’t know I would ever see. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far and look forward to planning future trips, both locally and internationally.

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I loved Rome so much more than I thought I would. It’s big and beautiful and busy. The best gelato I will ever have is in Rome; it’s so good I went a total of three times in the span of a few days. We saw the sights you’re told to see, the structures that have stood the test of time. But I think my favorite moments in this city were just wandering around, lounging on steps in Trastevere or exploring Pigneto, where our Airbnb was. And it goes without saying that the food is amazing. Even on our first night, when we arrived late and went to a small cafe around the corner to get dinner, it was so, so good.

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Our time in Florence was unfortunately marred by a stomach bug that left us both incapacitated for a chunk of our trip. We managed to get over it after a day and a half, thankfully. If anything, it’s reason enough to return to Florence someday to make up for lost time. I’m glad we chose to go to the Amalfi coast last, as it was a really relaxing way to end our honeymoon. My favorite memory of our last couple of days was walking up a steep hill in search of dinner and stumbling upon a restaurant with a beautiful view of Positano down below.

I thought two weeks was the perfect amount of time for this trip, even though it still went by insanely fast. Italy is everything I thought it would be and I’m glad we picked it as our honeymoon destination.

Then in late May/early June, I was in Seoul for a work trip:

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While I was on-site working the majority of the time I was there, it didn’t stop me and my co-workers from heading out every night to explore. Koreans are really nice and helpful; I had people come to my rescue on at least two separate occasions due to the language barrier. I only knew how to say hello and thank you; while that was helpful, it didn’t exactly bridge the gap. I arrived to Seoul a couple of days early and stayed a couple of days after my work assignment, which helped immensely with getting used to the time difference (14 hours!) and relaxing before the long journey home. I ate amazing food and bought a hilarious amount of Korean beauty products. Korea has never been high on the list of places I want to travel to in Asia, but I really enjoyed my time there. Seoul is so huge that there was no way to see everything, so I know I could easily go back and see new things.

Now it’s summer here in Chicago and my 30th birthday is a mere 20ish days away. Not that I’m counting or anything. I’m really glad I was able to fit in so much international travel before the big 3-0; it was an important milestone I wanted to hit before I leave my 20s. And I’m already planning potential trips in my mind for the next couple of years.

getting back to writing again.

I am constantly writing. Almost every day, actually. I write letters, blog posts, emails, articles… you name it, I’ve probably done it in the last few months.

But all this writing has been for work, for others too busy to put together their own letters or speeches. So I do it for them.

I have been writing, just not for myself.

On both my laptop and on Google Drive, I have dozens of unfinished pieces, filled with half-formed thoughts. I’m almost afraid the same could happen to this blog post.

There’s things I want to say, but am afraid to share. So much of writing online these days is dealing with criticism. Some totally valid, but the majority can be harsh, or downright cruel. I struggle with the idea of putting my thoughts and ideals and values out there for a larger audience to read, only to have them tear me down for it.

I’ve always been expressive and open; when did I retreat into myself? Maybe it’s because I see how women are treated on social media and beyond, as well as minorities. I fall under both of those categories. Maybe it’s because I might react defensively whenever someone disagrees with me. Maybe it’s because for the first time in a long while, I’m concerned with what people–total strangers, in fact–think of me.

So maybe it’s more about treading water in the shallow end of the pool rather than forcing myself to dive in headfirst. In order to even extend slightly out of my comfort zone, I at least need to identify where my comfort zone begins and ends.

After my wedding, I cut off a significant chunk of my hair. More so than I thought I would, but I let my stylist coax me into it. She also suggested lightening up the ends, to create an ombre effect. She wanted to go dark blonde immediately and as someone who has only ever had dark brown hair (ok, and blue hair twice but that’s a totally different story), I panicked slightly at two drastic changes at once. I went with my gut and told her to not start with blonde, but a few shades darker so I could get used to it. A month later, I am and I kinda love it. I’ll be going back next week to let her finish the job.

So to dip my toe back in, I’m going to start looking for additional outlets outside this blog to write for. I haven’t pitched anything in, well, years actually. So it’ll be a learning process. And while I’m nervous, I’m also excited to re-establish my voice and write my thoughts down.

This is the first step of many to get to back to feeling like a writer again.

mexico, lindo y quierdo

I knew since before I left for Mexico that I would want to sit down and write about my experience. It was only a matter of when and it’s sadly taken me a few months to finally sit down and collect my thoughts. But now that I finally have the time, I find myself struggling to really put it into words.

I knew that going to unfamiliar parts of my home country would be a great experience, but I didn’t really realize what a profound impact it would have on me. Much like my trip to Central America, I worked unbelievably hard. The days were long and hot and I almost always slept like the dead because of how tired I was. But when we weren’t working, we did manage to have some fun. We ate and drank and explored. I’ve always known that much like the States, Mexico is vastly different depending on what part of the country you’re in. I had just never seen it for myself.

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Cuernavaca, while rather busy and crowded, had hidden oases in the form of beautiful gardens and pools. Puebla took me by surprise. As part of the project site we were visiting in Cuernavaca, we made the three hour journey with the local group to Puebla. Upon entering the city limits, I was taken aback by how modern the buildings were. Puebla is one of Mexico’s most historical cities that has been able to embrace both new and old. We worked and stayed in the colonial district, where old, colorful buildings make up the majority of the area surrounding the zocalo. We only had a day and a half in Puebla before driving to Mexico City for our flight to Monterrey. I already know that I have to go back someday.

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I also went back to Monterrey for the first time in about 7 years and it’s still very much the city I’ve always loved. It’s a city of industry but surrounded by a gorgeous mountain range. We traveled 6 hours outside of city to a remote region and stayed in cabins at a national park. After easily one of the longest work days of the trip, we were treated to BBQ and drinks by a waterfall. Definitely made the day worthwhile.

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The trip ended in coastal Mexico. We landed in Puerto Vallarta and traveled north to a small, sleepy beach town called Chacala. I’m grateful that the last leg of the trip was the most calm, serene place of the bunch. It’s probably also the region that I miss the most, but eating on the beach for several days, with fresh fish and fruit constantly at your disposal, it’s to be expected.

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I walked away from this trip with a renewed love for Mexico and a sudden need to travel more. Maybe it’s because I’m coming to end of my 20s and I’m realizing that I haven’t gone any further than Central America. We live in a vast, beautiful world and I have yet to even a see a fraction of it. That’s something I need to desperately change.

So, I’m hoping to make traveling a priority over the next year. I’m hoping that if an opportunity presents itself, I’ll seize it rather than talk myself out of it. Whether it be for work, or with Alex, or with friends, I’d like a few more stamps in my passport.

Here’s to making that happen before I hit the big 3-0.

a series of jumbled thoughts

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I was thinking about making this a Currently post but I have so many random thoughts I want to write down and that post format wouldn’t really work. So, here’s a bullet point list of all my unorganized thoughts:

* It was so unbelievably cold last week. I’ve found that once the cold weather really settles in, I can handle 20 degree weather fairly well. But sub-zero temperatures? With winds that cut through your clothing, down to your bones? I could live out the rest of my life in Chicago and NEVER get used to it.

* A little over a year ago, I started using MyFitnessPal, which has really been key to eating better and planning out meals. That combined with my heart rate monitor has been pivotal to losing 15 pounds in the last year. Could I have lost that weight faster? Sure, probably. But I work out four times a week (if possible), eat well during the week, and tend to have a few beers and pizza on the weekend. I’m just glad that I’ve been able to lose the weight and actually keep it off without any drastic changes.

* Wedding planning is still in full gear. I found my dress a few weekends ago at BHLDN. We’re meeting with our potential officiant on Sunday and I’m trying to figure out the flowers. But the bigger stuff, like our DJ and photographers, have been locked down. I feel like we’re doing pretty well. We’re still 7 months out (to the day!), but it does feel good to have so much ready to go.

* My little sister just turned 18 almost two weeks ago and in a matter of months, I’ll be going home for her high school graduation. Just last night we talked about her choosing a college (she didn’t get into her first choice unfortunately, but did get into a lot of other great schools). I am still processing this information, which just makes me think about my own mortality. Ok, being dramatic but still. Nothing makes you feel quite as old as a sibling you watched grow up before your eyes.

* It’s weird to think about how we’ll be moving (again) in a couple of months. We really were hoping that our current apartment would be a long-term living situation, but Alex and I have realized that for a bit more money (which we can afford), we could upgrade to a bigger place. We’ll definitely need the space after the wedding and to be honest, I’m kind over our neighbors. They party and drink and smoke a LOT. I just want to hang out on my couch on a Friday night without having to Febreeze the crap out of my living room because the weed smell keeps seeping in. So the hunt begins again! I hope we can stay in our current neighborhood, possibly another nearby area (I’m already looking at Edgewater/Andersonville even though I swore I would never live off the Red Line).

That’s all for now. February has always been one of my least favorite months, but thankfully it’s the shortest one of the year. I’m looking to forward to it coming to an end. I’m looking forward to having some fun this weekend, which includes seeing “What We Do in The Shadows” at the Musicbox and getting some amazing pizza at Piece with some friends.

What’s life like for you right now?

 

[image credit: death to photo stock]

so here’s to 2015.

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Well hello there, shiny new year! It’s nice to see you. 2014 was one for the books but I have a feeling 2015 is gonna be pretty damn good.

The first four days of this year were nice and relaxed; I took an extra day off work to make it an extra long weekend and just out at home, cleaning and doing laundry. I did some yoga, I squeezed in a lady date, had drinks with friends, and I also had a cozy night in with veggie chili and beer.

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The big thing happening this year? Well, I’m getting married in approximately 261 days (according to our registry anyway). With that comes a name change (which I hear is a big pain in the butt but I’m going to do it anyway), combined finances, and calling Alex my husband. Kinda crazy, but exciting at the same time. We’ve talked a lot about what marriage means to us and have both agreed that our relationship/partnership is great the way it is; getting married won’t change that. On a lesser note, this is also the year I turn 29. Yay?

As for resolutions, I’m not super big of setting any. But I do want to set the right tone for this year, so I’ve set some short term and long term goals:

1. Pay off credit cards and save — My credit card debt climbed up quite a bit thanks to the holidays but I’ve officially put myself on a spending freeze until at least three are paid off. It’s definitely doable; I just need to get out of my bad habit on randomly purchasing/splurging on stuff I don’t really need. I also turned back on my automatic deposit to my savings account since we have a trip to Texas coming up in June AND we are officially moving again at the end of April. I’ve got a payment schedule put together and I’m using Ready for Zero to monitor my cards and loans. 2015: the year of fiscal responsibility!

2. Try new classes at my gym & incorporate more yoga — I put a lot more effort into working out and eating well beginning in mid-2014. And you know what? It paid off, because I’ve lost 18 pounds since then. It’s crazy to me how heavy I was at the beginning of the year, but I’ve made some huge strides. I still indulge during the weekend (I could never completely give up beer) and it’s made me realize that I don’t have to starve myself to lose weight. This year, I want to keep up that momentum while trying out new workouts via online videos and my gym, while also trying to squeeze in yoga once a week. Doing yoga on New Years Day, even just for 30 minutes, reminded me how nice it is to relax and stretch your body. I’d also like to lose a bit more weight, but I’m trying not to make that the focus of my goal.

3. In with the old AND the new — Looking back, this was a goal of mine last year and I completely failed to make it happen, but I still really want to start using my 35mm camera again. And I actually have film sitting around at home too, so I really have no excuse. As for the new, I’ve finished up all the HTML/CSS courses on Codeacademy and am slowly moving into Javascript and JQuery. I’m also thinking about taking some Skillcrush classes later on this year, if I manage to stay on track with the free courses first.

Other than those three main goals, I’m going to be taking this year as it comes. I hope I can make time to write, I hope I keep learning and growing, and above all, I hope it’s fun.

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We’re finally getting some snow around these parts and a bitter cold has set in this week. I guess this is Chicago’s not-so-gentle way of reminding us that yes, it is winter and that the month of December and it’s strangely mild weather just led us into a false sense of security. I’ll try not to let the sub-zero temps get to me so early into the year.

Happy New Year to everyone out there. What do you wanna see happen in 2015?

making the most of summer

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Man, it really feels like summer is flying by. My birthday (this Friday!) really snuck up on me. Didn’t I just get back from Austin?

This summer so far has been a series of highs and lows; lots of great food and drinks, sunny weather, and adventures. But I’ve also had two good friends move away (to LA and Denver, respectively) and work has had me stressed out lately. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love summers in Chicago. Like everyone else, I’m trying to make the most of the warm weather here while it lasts. Most of my weekends have been jam-packed with things to see and do, but a lot of it hasn’t really ended up on my blog or other social media channels. There’s a reason for this though and that’s because I’m trying to make a honest effort to enjoy the moment instead of being busy trying to capture it.

I can still remember my favorite summer to date: the summer of 2007. It was the summer before my senior year of college and when I turned 21. I lived in an apartment with four friends and no air-conditioning while juggling three jobs (working at my university’s summer newspaper, interning at a magazine, and working at a local cafe). It was also the first summer I spent in Chicago and it still feels like it’s been the best one so far. When we all weren’t working, my group of friends and I ran around the city in our free time, taking everything in. This was the summer they filmed The Dark Knight in Chicago, so I felt like we were always on the lookout for the Batmobile. On late nights when we couldn’t sleep, we’d drive down Lake Shore Drive and through the empty downtown streets.

While I have great memories of that summer and lots of pictures from it, we didn’t have smartphones back then. I wasn’t compelled to constantly check in on Foursquare, or check Twitter and Facebook, or perfectly style photos for Instagram. These are bad habits a lot of us have and because of them, we can miss out on a lot.

This past weekend, I had brunch with my boyfriend and friends at the Trenchermen and then headed to Wicker Park Fest. We topped off the afternoon with a pitcher of sangria at Black Bull Tapas. Not only was it fun and relaxing, it was also a phone-free day. I left my phone in my bag and instead paid attention to the people I was with and what was going on around me. While I didn’t capture any moments throughout the day, I realized I didn’t always need to. And imagine my surprise when I finally did look at my phone and my battery was only at 90%; if you’re like me, you’re used to see your battery at around 50% (or lower) by the early evening.

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There’s nothing wrong with stopping to take a photo while doing something fun or memorable. The photos I’ve included in this post were from my friend Matt’s last night in Chicago; we bought drinks and snacks and hung out on his rooftop for hours. I knew it was an event I quickly want to capture (and ok, post to Instagram) before focusing on my friends.

So yes, take some photos. But after you do, put your phone away (or hell, even turn it off) and be in the moment. Enjoy what you’re experiencing instead of trying to get as many likes as possible. Summer, while fleeting, becomes much more memorable that way.

How’s your summer so far?

make time, not excuses

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(image courtesy of Death to Stock Photo)

I think I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve thought of something I would like to do or want to do, and immediately said to myself: Oh, I don’t have time for that.

I don’t have time to knit. I don’t have time to taking an intermediate class on HTML/CSS. I don’t have time to blog. I don’t have time to learn basic Portuguese, even though my job has made me realize that I would like to be able to say something other than, “Sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese” in Portuguese. I just don’t have time. Then I see other people accomplishing awesome things and get jealous, wondering why I can’t do what they do. The thing is, I probably can. I just haven’t tried because limiting myself has become the norm for me.

Sometimes, I truly am busy and things get set aside. Other times, I just don’t have the energy so when I finally have some down time, I somehow end up in front of the TV doing nothing. And this time of year, it’s also easy to blame the weather for my lethargy. But more often than not, I’m just discouraging myself, even if I don’t mean to. Instead, I stick to the same old routine during the work week and every now and then, maybe muster up some energy on the weekends. Even that’s not a common occurrence these days.

The thing is, I want to keep learning and creating. I like challenging myself. I want to learn more about coding and yes, I actually want to learn some Portuguese. So how do I make these things happen?

Make time. It’s actually that simple. The time to do these things exists, whether I believe it or not. I have to set aside 30 minutes to an hour, once a day or once a week, for the things I’ve otherwise insisted I can’t squeeze in. For a hobby, for learning, for writing, for pretty much anything I’d like to do. I don’t have to go crazy and do several things at once or sit aside several hours a week. It’s about starting small and making adjustments as I go.

Don’t make excuses. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of doing something, isn’t it? It’s also easy to waste time doing nothing than be productive (trust me, I would know). This post is how I’m going to hold myself accountable for making the best use of my time. Even if I’m just sitting in the front of the TV, I could just as easily be knitting at the same time.

Set goals. Even small ones make a difference. It could be that I want to write or blog at least once a week. Or I want to finish a knitting project in two to three months. Starting small gives you the ability to meet those goals easily; setting the bar too high can be another way of discouraging yourself.

It’s so important to make time for the things that matter to you. I know I’m ready to put in the effort. What do you wanna do with your free time?

happy galentine’s day!

Alright guys, I know everyone is posting about Valentine’s Day this week. And I’ve written about how I feel about this “holiday” at great length before. I’ve always been a bit of a cynic, but there’s something about the concept of obligated romance that makes me surly. Anytime I’ve had fun on Valentine’s, it was because I was out celebrating with friends instead and taking advantage of brunch specials and heart-shaped foods.

Alex and I, now going on three years together, have never done anything on the 14th and that’s how I like it. Instead, we have a “hot chocolate” date on Saturday morning and are getting tacos and margaritas at one of our favorite spots in Wicker Park that night. Not really sure if this counts as celebrating, but I like to think we’re Valentine’s Day-adjacent.

Anywho, I blogged about this last year and I thought I’d bring it up again: today is Galentine’s Day!

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[image source]

Be sure to spread the love among your gal pals today! Whether you celebrate today or even tomorrow, your friends also deserve a day recognizing how awesome they are. :)

catching up and a new playlist

I’m glad to report that moving last week was only slightly painful. Ok, it was pretty painful but only because it was while moving that I realized that I”m in a relationship with a packrat. I’ve always been a minimalist, which probably comes from moving across the country a couple of times in the last decade. I don’t like having a ton of stuff, while it seems my boyfriend has accumulated a large quantity of it since he was 18 (he’s 30 now!) and never bothered to get rid of most of it. All that aside, we have transitioned into our new awesome apartment!

We were motivated to unpack as much as possible thanks to my 5 year college reunion this past weekend. I wish I had photos to recap with but honestly, it was one of those weekends where you don’t really remember to take a ton of pictures. Instead, you’re just enjoying the moment. I will say that it was awesome to see friends new and old, catch up with people I hadn’t seen since graduation, and cheer for the Wildcats against OSU despite the rain and the loss (the last five seconds of that game were BRUTAL).

I’m actually here to blog about the playlist I’ve been working on since fall is basically in full swing now. Check out the tracks below (click the image to hear the playlist on YouTube; I’m a dork and I don’t have Spotify, haha):

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1. Young Volcanoes by Fall Out Boy
2. Pompeii by Bastille
3. Dirty Paws by Monsters and Men
4. Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars
5. Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood
6. Do I Really Wanna Know? by The Arctic Monkeys
7. Royals by Lorde
8. Dust to Dust by The Civil Wars
9. The Golden State by City and Colour
10. Let Her Go by Passenger

When fall rolls around, I start listening to a lot more mellow, indie music. This playlist so far is a good example of that transition. I’m sure I’ll be adding more tracks to it over the next month or so, but I wanted to share what I’ve been listening to non-stop.

So looking forward to this weekend. Despite running errands and hanging with Alex’s folks tomorrow, it’ll be so much more relaxed. I’m also looking forward to baking all the pumpkin things again in our new kitchen.

By the way, the above graphic was made with the use of Canva, which is super helpful for someone like me who doesn’t know much in the way of graphic design. So instead of trying to get my designer boyfriend to do blog graphics for me, Canva is the easier route and is really simple to use. It’s in beta now but if anyone wants to sign up, I can help give you instant access. :)