When You Don’t Feel Like You’re Enough

You are enough.

The older we get the more people seem to think they can tell us we aren’t enough. Now I’m all for self-improvement and for building on who we are to make even more bad-ass versions, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the people who tell you that you don’t belong. That your dreams aren’t valid. That you’ve tried and failed…and that you should stay down.

Don’t listen to them. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t. There are always going to be voices in your life that say you are less than worthy. It’s not true. But it’s going to be an ongoing trend in your adult life. Welcome to adulting. When you meet these people you’re going to have two choices:

  1. Believe them, and adjust your actions accordingly.
  2. Don’t believe them, and adjust your actions accordingly.

Now, if you know me, you’ll know which option I’m opting for. Fight. Fight back. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t become successful at what you imagine for yourself. Build a network from scratch. Live off caffeine for a while, and put in 8 hours AFTER your 8 hours. Whatever you have to do to make that dream a reality, do it. I know it can seem like some far-off imagining. But find someone who has made it, and then follow their footsteps. Start telling everyone what your dream is. Anyone who will listen. Tell them where you are and how hard you’ve worked to get there. Then, tell them where you’re going–where you see yourself in five or ten years.

I’ll warn you now…you’re probably going to freak some people out with your ambition. They’re going to see you glowing like a lightbulb and tell you to tone it down, or to stop striving for more. “Be more focused.” “Can’t you just take it easy?” “Calm down.” “You’re showing us all up.”

Show them up.

Keep doing what you love, as long as it burns a fire in your heart. And then, if it starts to die, reignite it. Those people who are standing in front of you, telling you that you’re trying too hard–those are apparitions. Those are the ghosts of dreams past. They were scared to try, and when they see you the fear that’s choking their heart is reminded of it’s former glory. Push past them: mentally, physically, however you have to. Block them out. Turn on EDM and eat french fries for lunch. Watch cat memes, and go lay in the sun. Remember you are from dust and to dust you will return…but not yet. First you have dreams to wrangle in. You have pursuits to run after. Run. Don’t ever stop running.

Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision. People who say, “No matter what happens, you’ll find a way to make this work out. You’ll be fine.” Stick with people who believe in your strength. People who will dance with you in the kitchen on days when shit goes down and you feel like curling up on the floor. And to those who don’t understand what you’re passionate about–those who stare at you like you’re crazy? Let them stare. Let them be swallowed in their confusion until they convulse in their own bleak reality. You were made for more. Live beyond the naysayers and the dream-wreckers. You got this. We got this. 

The Wisdom Of Wes Anderson: Chaos And Creativity

A couple days ago I went and saw the new Wes Anderson movie “Isle of Dogs” and it got me thinking about how much I love his movies. Not only are they completely original, they are completely him. When you see one you know who made it. You know whose art it is.

This movie also got me thinking about the age/time of life I’m currently in. One where self identity is more and more important. Let’s be real, sometimes it can feel like there’s a timer on how long you have to peg down an identity. In life, for instance, there are different cliques of people. You’ve got the millenial moms, the broke artists, the fashion bloggers, the activists, the forever students and the dream droppers…just to name a few.

I’ve never particularly felt like I belonged to any of those groups but that’s less because I didn’t want to, and more because the preverbal sorting hat just couldn’t pick a faction for me to belong to. I’m not divergent (a little of each), I’m more just not on the chart. Like when you ask your doctor what the expected pain intensity of a procedure will be and they kind of squint because who knows? It changes. I am that pain point. I am that unknown. And sometimes that terrifies people. Heck, sometimes it terrifies me.

Four years go I started blogging because I was terrified to shit about moving abroad. To be honest I don’t even know if I wanted to move abroad, but I knew that the time-meter of my life was telling me I had to grow up soon and I needed to get that checked off my list before I regretted it. I’m not sorry I lived in France (I mean, how could I be? It gifted me with so many amazing tales of adventure), but maybe I’m a little bit wiser. I’m not onboard with putting myself in situations, anymore, just because I feel like I should be there. Is this what it feels like to grow up? Does a celebrity host pop out from a corner to award me a gold star for having matured?

BACK TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM: Let’s just say I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to do things out of obligation. I want to be in spaces and places that feel natural. I want to be around people who don’t make me feel like it’s a chore to exist in the same space.

Wes Anderson was interviewed once about what it feels like to continue with your creative instinct, despite it not being the norm and his answer was refreshing. It feels like chaos. It feels like not knowing how thing are going to fall together. But, despite that feeling of uncertainty, you know you have to press on in a certain direction. Of course, that’s me paraphrasing so please don’t write Wes Anderson and tell him I quoted him wrong. Thanks.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe it’s okay not to fit into a box. Maybe it’s okay not to be a hybrid, either. Maybe it’s okay to just float along doing whatever makes you creatively fulfilled even though those things don’t line up to the naked eye. Maybe, just maybe, Christmas means a little bit more…wait. Sorry, I got off track for a minute.

Does that make sense? Have you ever felt that way?

As an artist and a writer I think it can be really easy to feel like I have to fit in one mold. Or even just pick whether I’m an artist or a writer. But what we create doesn’t have to be crammed into a checkbox. Be bold enough to create your own genre. Wes Anderson that shit! 

 

Women’s History Month Highlight: R. Riveter Handbags

Let’s talk about some beautiful little bags. Most of you are probably aware that I’m a brand ambassador for R. Riveter bags, but one of the coolest things about this ambassador program is that this brand is the real deal. Since this month is National Women’s History Month I’ve decided to go a little more in-depth to tell you guys about the brand I’m so in love with. Don’t worry, this won’t feel like homework.

I personally own two bags from R.Riveter, The Otto and The Hobby. Now, other than these names just sounding cool they’re actually the names of two pretty incredible women who R. Riveter wanted to honor with their production.

Elinor Otto was one of the original Rosie the Riveters, and was actually the last surviving of the women who built America during WWII. In 1942 Otto joined a California aircraft manufacturer in order to take care of her young son. She made 65 cents per hour.”I’m a working person, I guess. I like to work. I like to be around people that work. I like to get up, get out of the house, get something accomplished during the day.”

Oveta Culp Hobby was the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, first director of the Women’s Army Corps, and a chairperson of the board of the Houston Post. In other words…she kept busy. Something I love about Oveta is that she’s a go-getter. She didn’t have a formal education, but still became a journalist when she was 26 years old. During WWII she was the first woman to ever be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for her efforts during the war. She went on to be an editor and politician and publisher. As a fellow writer, I admire Oveta as a pretty outstanding example of what one woman can do when she sets her mind to it.

Both of these women are such amazing examples of tenacity, but I also want to acknowledge the women who are hard at work making the gorgeous R.Riveter bags. One of the awesome things about these bags is that each piece is stamped by the woman who created and/or assembled it. Here’s who made my Hobby:

RR079: Amanda R. (Who you can find out more about by clicking HERE)

RR024: Jocelyn (Who you can find out more about by clicking HERE)

RR053: Danie H. (Who you can find out more about by clicking HERE)

These are just three of the strong, beautiful, independent women who assembled my bag, and I love that I’m able to find each of them on the R. Riveter site. That’s pretty incredible. I’m so happy to be part of the R. Riveter community, and to be working to provide stable income for military spouses throughout the U.S. Like the site says, it really isn’t about the bags at all. It’s about empowering women, and the people behind each and every bag that is sold.

If you would like to purchase a bag from R. Riveter, you can use the code RREMILEEM for 15% off your purchase. Because I love you.

Tea Talk 11: Diana Anderson | Travel Enthusiast

Meet Diana, goddess of travel. This girl has known me since…since, probably longer than anyone outside my family. We met at church when we were like five (I don’t know honestly know the exact time we met, but it pretty much spans my memory) and we were best buds right away. After high school we didn’t get to see each other nearly as much, but a few years ago we accidentally reunited in London and had an awesome time. Thank god we both grew up to love traveling and all things British. The best. I’m so excited to introduce you all to my friend, and travel aficionado, Diana!

What started your passion for travel?

My parents took me on my first 22 hour road trip when I was 11 months old down to Southern California. We went once a year every year for the following twenty years. Between those, we travelled to two countries and thirty eight states both by car and plane. I guess I never stopped.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

Be nice! I’ve received countless upgrades just by being patient and understanding. I’ve witnessed people in the customer service industry – especially at airports – get yelled at for trivial problems that are completely out of their control and, being as they’re human, they tend to be more generous with those that don’t threaten them.

What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up?

The essence of relationships being above all else. Seattle is known for the Seattle Freeze so that’s what I’ve been used to, but in moving to the East Coast and traveling throughout Europe and Australia it is apparent how much other cultures value their relationships with their families and friends. This has significantly enhanced my quality of life.

What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

Do it. Be smart, but go for it. I started traveling solo when there wasn’t a lot of information or groups so I felt like I was flying blind. Luckily times have changed and at this point there are so many resources and people that have gone before you that are willing to answer any questions. And if it’s fear that’s holding you back, my motto has always been “The worst thing that can happen to you, can happen in your backyard”. Sounds bleak, but don’t let your delusions of comfort lull you into complacency.

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

No amount of planning is going to prepare you. I’ve passed out in the streets of Paris due to dehydration, gotten a concussion in several theme parks, sprained an ankle, lost all means of contact to family back home, been stranded with no money, been robbed. You just have to roll with it and get inventive.

What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

Speaking to other people. The first time I went international, I was alone and didn’t speak to hardly anyone despite it being an English speaking country. That fear has absolutely worn off.

What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile) and why?

Train! I have a love affair with airports but any airplane trip longer than three hours makes me crazy. I once took the TGV from Cannes to Paris and instantly fell in love.

What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

Keep going. Don’t let other people get in the way of traveling because it feeds your soul and you can’t help others if you’re not helping yourself first.

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

Belize. At the start of my traveling, I spun a globe and my finger landed on Belize. I have to go just to say that I have.

Let’s talk about your current trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure?

I have this delusional habit in which I decide to go somewhere but don’t lock down any logistics until the last minute. I’m going to Europe in May, with at least a stop in London to see my sister and niece, but other than that, I have no idea yet. When I know I need to get away, I start planning and let it figure itself out.

What has been the best/toughest part of your most recent trip?

I was with someone else. I’m a planner and I’m stubborn so this was not going to be easy from the get-go.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your most recent trip?

Not everyone likes to travel the way that I do. Up until this trip, I’d only gone on trips with my family – who taught me how to travel – and church groups – who dictated how I travel. Traveling with one other person for fun was difficult not only when we had personal arguments but when we realized we wanted to do things differently. Traveling, like relationships, is something you have to compromise on if you want to do it with someone else.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself from your most recent trip?

I learned that I still need to improve how I visit new cities. I let my jet lag or my willful ignorance keep me from exploring and that has been a big hinderance. Since then, I’ve taken several small trips and tried to force myself out of my comfort zones. It’s been very rewarding!

Anything else you’d like to add?  

Travel isn’t how Instagram models make it out to be. It’s not all pretty pictures from glamorous hotel rooms, but it’s in the gritty sleeping-in-the-tub-to-avoid-bedbugs that you gain the real benefits. Solo travel teaches a person a lot about themselves and that’s why it’s so incredibly important to do.

Tea Talk is a monthly series featuring extraordinary women who travel around the world! If you know someone who should be featured, or would like to be featured yourself, shoot me an email at morehouseemilee@gmail.com or post a message on this blog post! Join me again in April for the next feature!

What I’m Currently Obsessing Over: March Edition

This past month has been a whirlwind, but I’ve found some super amazing finds along the way. So naturally I thought I would share them with you guys, because what else is this blog for than to rant and rave?

R.Riveter: The Hobby

In honor of International Women’s Day, R. Riveter highlighted The Hobby which is my newest bag from them. I’ve already used this bag for multiple outings, and I’m obsessed with the emerald green color of mine. It perfectly matches my Slytherin heart. The Hobby was named after Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby who was the first secretary of the U.S. Health Department, Education and Welfare, first director of the Women’s Army Corps, and a chairperson of the board of the Houston Post. Basically she was a BAMF.

Koe-Zee Embroidery 
I just bought one of these beautiful embroidery hoops and it is just so perfectly perfect. Obviously I bought the one with the middle finger and the roses, but there are a lot more *cough* mild designs as well. What I really love about these designs is that she’s PNW local, and obviously I can’t emphasize supporting local small businesses enough.

Sock Panda (sponsored)

Fun fact: I wear super weird socks with my normally all black/neutral wardrobe pretty much every day. I was super happy that Sock Panda sent me some socks to try out, mainly because I love having fun and weird socks on under my 9-5 business wear, but also because the mission of the company is really cool: For every pair of socks purchased, another pair is given to homeless shelters, low income senior centers, hospitals, and under-privileged classrooms throughout the country. Also, they sent me dinosaur socks and how can you argue with that?

Paper and Slate Candles

So yes, I’m a huge literary nerd (especially classic literature) and when I found out that Paper and Slate was going to be creating candles based off of characters I just about died. Currently I have the Elizabeth Bennet candle, and the Emily Dickenson (my favorite!). I’ll probably end up grabbing another one once these melt into oblivion based off of me burning them nonstop.

Note: You should also check out Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party…because I love it. Also, The Case of the Guilded Lily. Okay, I’m done.

Arbitrary Muse Comics

I found out about these ladies a couple years ago, and when I saw them at Comic Con this year I knew I needed to buy all of the things. I think I walked away from there with four comics and some other swag. It was awesome. What I love the most about these comics is that they’re inclusive both on the race and sexual spectrum. It really is a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t love their historical take on storytelling any more.

What are you guys currently obsessing over? Let me know in the comments! 

6 Of My Favorite European Museums

I am an unapologetic nerd. I was born and raised into a nerdy family, and it’s just who I am as a person. When I travel, this spills over into my itinerary. I love visiting places that have literary significance, historical significance, or just allow me to buff my nerd knowledge. MOST of the time these places are museums, so I thought I would share my top five favs so if you happen to be planning a trip to Europe you can stop by some of my favorite spots. Tell them Emilee sent you. JK I definitely don’t have that kind of sway…yet.

1. Parlamentarium | Brussels, Belgium | FREE

This museum is AMAZING. And that’s coming from someone who isn’t even a part of the EU. At the beginning of your tour you’re given a headset that walks you through the history of the EU, where it came from and how it functions today. I honestly never knew any of this information and it was such an amazing lesson in world history, and also in current economic situations in Europe. There’s obviously a bit of a bias, but I felt like overall the structure of the museum was amazing and very interactive. I think I spent 2-3 hours in there.


2. The Louvre | Paris, France | $18.50

I’m sure all of you are SO SURPRISED to see this one on the list. But, really. The Louvre is one of my favorite places on the planet and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for people to visit it. It honestly will change your life. One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people make about The Louvre is that they go in for an hour, walk around two floors and say they’ve “been” to the Louvre. You’re cheating yourself with this approach. I would say take a couple of days to go to the Louvre. Go a morning on one day and just sit and look at paintings. Go an evening another day and walk through the lower levels of The Louvre. Look at the Middle Eastern exhibits (which, by the way, barely anyone knows about). There is so much history in this museum it really is a must-see multi day/hour visit. While I lived in France I think I went 6 or 7 times at 2-3 hours a pop…and I still haven’t seen everything.

3. The Sherlock Holmes Museum | London, England | $21

This might be the nerdiest one on the list, but I’m a pretty hard core Sherlockian, and I absolutely loved being able to visit the real 221B during my first trip to London. This museum is essentially set up as the house of Sherlock Holmes with a Victorian style guard at the front door, three levels of Sherlock Holmes related artifacts, and an over-priced gift shop. Everything you could ever want, right!? If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan like I am I would definitely recommend visiting the museum for photos if nothing else. The whole museum takes about 30 minutes to an hour to go through.


4. Titanic Museum | Belfast, N. Ireland | $25

You think you know about the Titanic because you’ve seen the movie? Ha. Try reliving the entire experience from day one as an immigrant in the early twentieth century to the day the ship sinks. WARNING: This museum is REALLY emotional and there is a really high chance of you feeling feels. One of the coolest parts of this museum is that the admission ticket is made to look like the tickets that were originally made for the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Since I’ve been obsessed with the Titanic since I could read, this museum was absolutely amazing to go through. It’s several floors and takes about 2-3 hours (at least) to walk through.

5. Van Gogh Museum | Amsterdam, The Netherlands | $22

Can I tell you how much I love Van Gogh? If you know me well, I probably already have…but here we are again. I distinctly remember the first time I saw an image of a Van Gogh painting. It was the same feeling I had when I first heard French. So right, and a forever part of my identity. The Van Gogh museum was a sacred space for me. From the first moment I slipped on the headphones for the self-guided tour I was completely immersed and could have been in that world of Van Gogh for forever. Not only is this museum the world’s largest installment of Van Gogh paintings, but it’s also such a personal experience since it’s in the home country of the artist. Must see. I think I spent 2-3 hours in the museum.

6. Natural History Museum | London, England | FREE

This is actually one of my most recent visits, and GUYS, THEY HAVE DINOSAURS! I’ve been to London three or four times before, but I had never visited this museum until November and it was so cool. Basically everything natural history related is in this museum, and it’s broken down into geology, biology and just general awesome. We actually got kicked out of this museum because it was closing, to be sure to get there early. You could easily spend 3 hours in this spot.

And that’s the best of the best! What are your favorite museums? Let me know in the comments!

Black Panther Knocked My Socks Off, Here’s Why *Spoilers*

Yeah, yeah. You’ve heard that Black Panther is a great movie. But then again every year we’re given a list of “great movies” by The Academy aka The Oscars and half of those are shit (sorry, mom…but they ARE) so how are we supposed to know fact vs. hype!?

Well, I’m here to tell you that Black Panther is not a hype movie. It is, in fact, an absolute masterpiece. Now if you haven’t seen this movie already get off your phone/computer and get your butt to the nearest theater. I’m not responsible for spoilers spilling out throughout this post. You’ve been warned.

1. Non-traditional roles

I love that from the beginning the roles that each character plays aren’t defined by what they look like or what gender they are. My empowerment gauge, as an African American woman, was pretty much breaking as I was watching this movie and what I loved the most about that is that it wasn’t forced. Nobody was trying to write empowerment into this movie. The very fact that the characters were given actual characters instead of stereotypes was enough in itself.

Image result for black panther, Nakia and t'challa

2. Costume magic

Crying over clothes is not anything new to me. I’ve loved fashion and costumes since I was old enough to walk *cue video of me strutting in dresses from the 80s and my mom’s high-heels when I was four years old*. The costumes in Black Panther are on a whole different level. I mean, seriously. WHAT. Every stitch, every accessory, every bead and face painted dot. I’m tearing up right now. The detail that was put into this movie’s production is unprecedented. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it before, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like it again—we can only hope.

3. The great and powerful Shuri

Shuri is the superhero we’ll never deserve. A princess (aka T’Challa’s sister) is the perfect blend of sass + intelligence with the fashion sense of a style god. Shuri is the tech genius behind Wakanda’s source power and she basically invents everything in the country. From start to finish her character completely steals every scene she’s in and I honestly think there’s a very good chance I’ll be cosplaying her in the future.

Black Panther4. Shit we haven’t seen

Praise the great and glorious Marvel gods, there were actually several moments in this movie where technology or situations went BEYOND what we’ve seen in any Marvel movies before. As a writer/storyteller I usually predict 99.9% of the things in movies buuuuuuuut I was super pleasantly surprised by the plethora of new things that popped up. This included seeing a car that’s being driven from another location, by another driver and bad-ass armored Rhinos to state just a couple. I mean come on!

5. There are actual consequences to actions

Like yeah, some people die in other superhero movies but it never really MEANS anything. It usually just feels like a way to push the plot forward. One of the things that I loved so much about Black Panther is that there were very real repercussions for choosing a side. People died. And I think that it’s really important in today’s world to see that doing what’s right doesn’t always mean a path of flowers and roses. It means there are consequences, and shit goes down. Rise up.

6. T’Challa + Nakia = <34Evr

Something that I thought was really beautiful in this movie was how T’Challa doesn’t ask his love interest to give up on her dreams when he asks her to be with him. In fact, he creates a way for them to be together while still pursuing their individual callings. To me, that is the height of romance…especially when we’re talking about strong, “stubborn” women.

7. Africa isn’t a country

One of the coolest parts of this movie was the acknowledgment of different types of African culture, expressed particularly through the clothing. I loved seeing the variety that was represented!

Have you seen Black Panther, yet? Let me know what your favorite part was in the comments below! 

Hometown Adventures: Barclay Lake, WA

Washington state is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. and I’m not just saying that because I live here. One of the things that I’m trying to get better about is taking the time to experience my beautiful home state instead of taking for granted all the amazing nature. That being said, this past weekend seemed like the perfect time to start getting out on some of the trails. Or at least that’s what we thought.

Saturday morning @seattlebred and I had an early start, grabbed some Starbucks and drove NE of where I live (Seattle). The drive was pretty quick, and we’d worn warm clothes because we’d heard that there might be snow. In retrospect,  we probably should have checked the morning before whether there was snow that had fallen. As we were driving up the mountain road we quickly realized that things went (very quickly) from, “Hey look, some snow!” to, “Holy hell, the bottom of the car is dragging on the snow.”

Needless to say, by the time we reached the top of the mountain we were completely and hopelessly S-T-U-C-K. We also didn’t have cell phone reception. We ALSO couldn’t push the car as it slid on the compacted snow/ice. 

I finally got some cell service, after us trying to dig the car out/push it for a couple of hours. So we called 911, and asked them to send Search and Rescue to save our asses. In the meantime we sat in the car for about an hour wrapped in blankets and wishing we had chains and/or a shovel.

@seattlebred getting the blankets out of the car so we don’t freeze to death

In the meantime I also took a couple of pics of my new R.Riveter bag because what else are you going to do whilst waiting for help to come? I had been so excited because this bag came the night before the hike, so just in time for some snowy shots with the bag from their winter collection.

I was a little cold and didn’t notice until afterward that the focus was on the trees in the background…oh well.
Taking product shots while I’m in the car. FUN FACT: Each piece of R.Riveter bags is stamped with the number of the lady who made it!

The crazy part of all of this is that it was so beautiful outside, all around us…but it was a little bit hard to appreciate while trying to imagine how you’re going to not only get the car somehow turned around, but then going to drive DOWN the hill in all of the snow you barely cleared coming up the hill.

When you really have to pee, but the bathroom is locked for the winter.

Luckily, a big ‘ole Toyota Tacoma came up the hill after we’d been sitting in the car for about an hour and they helped to guide not only our car, but the next five cars (which also got stuck) as they turned around and also got pointed in the direction of going back down the hill. These people were complete lifesavers and knew how to kick some serious ass in the snow-driving department. They were from Minnesota.

And yes, I stayed in the car because I have a medical condition where if I get too cold my hands/feet loose circulation and we weren’t trying to call Search and Rescue AND visit the hospital in the same day.
My best friends.

The GOOD news is that I still got some beautiful shots with my bag. I mean, with this kind of beautiful how can you NOT get glamour shots. The moral of the story is to always have chains in your car, and to check the weather before you head up on a trail. We won’t be making that mistake again. Thanks R.Riveter for being the highlight of the day.

Me and The Hobby bag from R. Riveter. Photo cred IG: @seattlebred

February Goals: Spend Less, Live More

I wouldn’t consider myself a heavy spender. That being said, the last couple of months were way more expensive than my usual crazy, so I decided to take February to reevaluate my spending. This also came in the wake of 101 medical bills from October when pneumonia tried to kill me. Healthcare in America:

When I first got the idea to take a month off from unnecessary spending I wasn’t really sure what the outcome would be. I had to stay away from thrift stores because let’s be honest: #addicted, and I had to start making some changes to my routine. Here’s how this ish went down:

Think About Routine The Night Before

The LAST thing most people want to think about at night is the fact that they’re going back to work the next day. That being said, this actually can save quite a big of cash. Since I work in the middle of downtown Seattle there are a lot of temptations for food places that eat up your paycheck before it ever hits your back account. So, every night, while I’m cooking dinner (this has also helped to inspire my cooking haha) I pack a lunch. Just like good ‘ole K-12. It might seem childish, but it’s saving my adult monies so I can use them for adult things…like comicon tickets. Duh.

Start Caring About Other People More

One of the things I wanted to focus more on during this month was to start putting money toward other people. But I wanted this to be very intentional and targeted, not just passing out money on the street (although there is a time and place for that). For the past couple of years I’ve been following my friend Stella’s journey as she’s continued building her non-profit 22Stars. What they do in Uganda is absolutely incredible, and I’ve wanted to support them for so long…but I’ve never had finances to back that up. Well. I finally did it. I’m SO excited to now be a long-term education sponsor for a little Ugandan girl. I would HIGHLY suggest looking at the profiles of other children who still need sponsors. The fact that $20/month sends a child to school is just crazy.

Stop Going To Thrift Stores

Okay, so obviously I love thrifting and there’s no way that I’ll stop entirely going to thrift stores. But for the month of February I decided to be more intentional about going, and so far I haven’t gone at all. There’s a simple reason for this fact: I don’t need anything. And while it’s more of a hobby than anything else for me, I always want to be really concious about managing my habit so it doesn’t go down the road to crazy. I’m not trying to star in Hoarders.

Reminders Of What ACTUALLY Makes Me Happy

While spending money is sometimes necessary for making some magic happen, a lot of the most beautiful things in life are free…or, at least, I already have what I need to make them happen. For example:

  • Hot cups of tea
  • Knitting
  • Cuddling up under blankets
  • Painting
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Writing
  • Reading

All of these things make me super happy, but don’t actually cost me a whole lot of money (if any). When I’m stressed, bored, or just looking for something to do out I’ve turned to doing one of these things, rather than surfing Amazon for useless Pusheen stuffies that I just don’t need…or do I?

Spend More Time With People

People. Gross. Yeah, so I’m a pretty hardcore introvert, so there are like seven people I like in the whole world. But, you know what? I’m still human…which means that interacting with people is a necessary part of my existence. What have I done to remedy this? Well, first off I’m trying to be more intentional about spending time with people I really enjoy, and I’ve also been spending time interacting with my lovely followers in the Twitter-verse and through various online groups I’m part of. I also got a new pen-pal which is awesome x 1000. What have I learned from this? Spending time with people who make you happy makes spending money a whole lot less of a priority. Because people are awesome! In small and manageable doses.

Now, February is only half-way done so I’m hoping and praying that I’m actually able to stick to this scheme, but we’ll see. I have fallen off the “eating out” bandwagon once already, but generally it’s going super well and I feel better balanced. Have any of you ever done a spending freeze? Let me know how it went in the comments!

6 Pre-Packing Tips For An International Trip

I travel internationally a lot. It’s kind of my thing. And while traveling has become a pretty important part of my life, I still have mini panic attacks every time I’m getting ready to go on a trip. You know what helps? Lists.

I am the queen of lists. I make them every weekend, I make them during the week, and I definitely make them when I’m getting ready to travel. Since I started solo backpacking, I’ve developed a checklist what to do before I leave on an international trip. And because I love you guys, I thought I’d share it so you can skip the stress.

1. Make Sure Bills Are Paid

You know what’s worse than having to come back from a vacation? Coming back to a bunch of fees and notices because you forgot to pay your bills. I usually take an hour  or two before my trip to take a mental inventory of monthly expenses, and then I pay them before my trip. Even if they’re due a couple days after I get back I still make sure to pay them because let’s be honest: My jet-lagged self can’t remember shit. (sorry, mom)

2. Set Up A Travel Notice With Your Bank

So lemme tell you, having your credit card put on hold when you’re overseas is pretty much the worst thing ever. Why? Because you have to call to get it off, and if you don’t have phone access/don’t want to pay a million dollars a minute for placing an international call…this can get tricky. Save yourself the crazy and set up a notice with your bank that you’ll be out of the country—it usually takes about 5 minutes.

3. Get Currency If You Can

I really like arriving in a country with currency, but that’s not always and option. There are countries, like Morocco, where their currency isn’t exchanged outside the country so you have to wait until you’re there to get it.  But for a lot of countries, especially in western Europe, you only need Euros, which you can get at your local bank. Believe me, this saves some serious stress when you arrive at your destination!

4. Sign Up For An International Phone Plan

I have Verizon, so the last time I took a trip I signed up with their TravelPass which was $10/day. This pass is cool because it still uses all the same data etc. on my usual phone plan. It was great! It was also cool because it would only charge me on days that I chose to use it during my trip.

5. Set Up Tours You Want To Take

I don’t usually plan a whole lot of my trip when I’m traveling, but it is really important for me to book any tours I want to take BEFORE I reach my designated country. The main reason for this is because I don’t travel with my laptop, and tours should have a lot of research to back them before you book. Obviously this is a personal preference, but I’ve found it helps so much more with planning once I’m there, when I already know what big events are happening.

6. Print Out All Vouchers And Confirmation Numbers 

 

Finding a printer when you’re traveling is the worst. Not having wi-fi work while you’re trying to pull up a ticket is the worst-er. Not knowing what your ticket number while you’re running late to an event is the worst-est. I always always always print out everything that can possibly be printed before I leave home. This helps me know I have all the confirmations in one place, and saves so much time in the long-run.

What about you? What are your favorite pre-trip tips? Let me know in the comments below!