How 2017 Helped My Millennial Problem

December 31st, 2016 I gave up on something I had done for the past 20 years of my life—I gave up on New Years Resolutions. I decided I had enough of telling myself I couldn’t do things. I was sick of trying to break habits, and pick up skills that had nothing to do with what I wanted to do with my life.

January 2nd, 2017 I was sitting at my desk realizing how alone I felt. I had been working 60 hours for the past year, and I had managed to isolate myself in a toxic relationship, and away from people who valued me. I remember sitting at my desk and thinking, “It’s been so long since I’ve seen my friends.” And when I say long, I mean years.

After living abroad for a year, I had lost contact with a lot of people. In addition to the fact that we were all living our adult lives, I was 5,000 miles away. Not exactly the recipe for strong friendships. When I moved back to the U.S. I pretty immediately began working like a maniac, to make up for some debt from living in Paris, and I started dating someone a month after being back. It was insane.

So here I am, starting a new year and feeling like shit. Hello, 2017. All I wanted to do was hang out with people who made me happy. So I made a promise. Not a resolution, but a promise to myself. I didn’t have a whole lot of extra time (re:working 60 hours a week), but I did have an hour a month. I decided that once a month I was going to meet up with someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. I made a list, and got real with myself. This needed to happen.

And it did.

Every month this year I have grabbed coffee, tea, Skyped, or hung out with someone I hadn’t seen in forever. People who make me happy. People who get me. People who I would be friends with, even if the sky fell. No agenda, I didn’t get anything out of it—I just sat down and had coffee.

Now let me tell you how this changed my life.

My generation (millenials) is one of the loneliest to ever exist, despite the fact that we have more access to people than humanity has ever had before. Think about it—I have access to connect and talk to millions of people every day. It’s insane. And despite that fact, we have higher rates of depression, anxiety and just general unhappiness.

Slight detour: Remember those people who made you happy as a kid. I’m talking about the friends who you raced worms with. The puddle jumping buddies. The non-agenda I just like you friends? Okay, cool—hold onto that thought for a minute. 

When I started to meet up with people who I had no “reason” to meet up with, I started to see myself different. The people I chose are all people who have inspired something in me, when I met them. Maybe it was creativity, or drive, or laughter, or (to be honest) just plain geekery. Whatever it was, it was those people who I just click with—Kindergarten style.

Every time I met up with one of these people I re-discovered a part of myself…and I had a lot of fun. Like, so much fun. Honestly, I am so honored to have these people in my life. This project also spurred on other community creating ideas, like a monthly girls “crafternoon” which honestly gives me so much life.

What I’ve learned from this “project” is that so often we get too busy for people, and we forget how much value they can bring to our lives. I know there’s a huge emphasis on maintaining certain lifelong relationships, like romantic or family…but you know what? Don’t undervalue friendship. Don’t undervalue how rich your life can be from being around people who just get you.

Collaborate with them, grab coffee with them, plan movie nights with them. Create the opportunities to have your life enriched and I guarantee you’ll see results. And anyway, this is so much better than starving yourself for some crazy weight-loss goal. 

5 Reasons Being Homeschooled Makes Me Better At Traveling

“What the hell does homeschooling have to do with travel!?”

I’m glad you asked. I know you probably have your doubts…but you’d be surprised how often I pull out my homeschooling skills in order to successfully navigate the world. I was homeschooled from 3rd grade to high school graduation, and it really shaped who I am, as a person. No, I don’t play Dungeons and Dragons, but there are some stereotypes that are true…

NOT THOSE. Sheesh, guys, when was the last time you met an actual homeschooler!? Trick question, because when would you meet someone who never leaves home? Hahahaha — just me? Okay, moving on. Here are five reasons I think that being homeschooled makes me better at traveling.

1. Alone Time:

Okay, so when I was homeschooled I went to a resource center a few times a week. And it was great. Basically it was structured like a regular school, except most of us had parents hanging out in the halls or library, while we went to classes. All the teachers were certified through the state (except for special workshops) and it’s very important for my homeschool cred to note that our parents weren’t the teachers. This was not a co-op. Got it? Good. Moving on.Having a place to spend 2-3 days a week was great, but it still meant that there were entire days where I saw only my siblings/mom. This meant I had to be okay with rollin’ solo. I’m an introvert, so it’s a little bit easier for me, but the reality of travel (especially solo travel, which I do) is that you spend a lot of time alone. Whether it’s transportation from one place to another, or just walking around a city, there are a lot of times when you’re going to feel like one very out of place person in a sea of faces. Luckily, a homeschooler knows how to capitalize on that time. And an introvert knows it’s great for books, journaling, blogging or just thinking about life.

2. Making Random Friends:

On the flip-side, you probably should talk to people when you’re traveling alone. Because otherwise a) Why are you even there?

b) You’ll probably start to go slightly mad.That being said, you know the Homeschool mantra, “Say hi now, because you might not see another soul for days!” It’s on our flag. Moving on.

In all seriousness, it’s really important to connect with people. Hang out with people in hostels, talk to people on tours and really get to know the strangers around you. This is easy for me to do, because I’ve had to choose to make friends pretty much my whole life. There was no luxury of “assigned seating” or “class periods together.” It was talk to this person right now, or forever hold your peace.

3. Self Motivation:

Not to brag, but I basically put myself through the entire educational system from 3rd grade on. Yeah, I had my mom there to give me piles of books, but I think anyone can pretty much vouch that I made myself actually get things d-o-n-e. I’ve always been pretty self-motivated, which is really good, because I work remotely and it’s really important for me to make sure deadlines and projects get done on time. Yes, I have a boss. But luckily I know how to kick myself into action.That being said, I constantly make deadlines for myself when I’m planning to travel, traveling or working on the road. I make it happen because when you’re on the road, as a solo traveler, you either get yourself there, or you don’t get there. There’s nobody to tell you where to go, or wake you up if you sleep through your alarm clock. It’s all about you. Just the way I like it.

4. A Love of Learning:

If I won the lottery, I would become a professional student at Oxford. I love learning more than anything in the world. Which is why I have tutors “for fun,” subscribe to PBS instead of Netflix and have accounts with every online learning site. I love history and science and geography and art and writing and languages. That’s just me (and Hermione, who I share a birthday with – fun fact).This comes in handy when I’m traveling because it makes me infinitely curious about the places I go. It also makes the places hold a lot of value for me, and when other people see that, I think it’s a lot easier to make friends with the locals (unless you’re in Paris, where they hate everyone – jk…sort of). This also has helped me to learn the “secrets” about places, because when you make friends with locals you get taken places tourists never get told about.

5. Trying New Things: 

There is a disclaimer on this one, because I’m not a huge fan of trying new food. That has more to do with me being allergic to everything on the planet, though, and less to do with a lack of interest or willingness to try.What I do love to do is weird things that nobody else will do. I travel with a pretty open “yes” policy for trying new things (safety first, of course) and that’s led me to have some pretty interesting stories. I’d share them now, but where would the fun be in that? You’ll have to keep reading along on the blog to find out.


Not taking ‘no’ for an answer:

I wasn’t ever shut down by teachers growing up. There weren’t “dumb questions,” because the only person I could ask was myself, or my mom (who is, in fact, a certified teacher).  I love proving people wrong, and I love finding ways to do things that people say can’t be done. I think a lot of this has to do with the way I was raised… and it probably also has something to do with the hotheaded Scottish blood in my veins.

Top 10 Moments In Ireland


In honor of one of my favorite holidays (duh.) St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve decided to put together a little list of some of my favorite memories from Ireland. I’ve been to the Emerald Isle almost 10 times in the last 3 years, so it has definitely become like a second home to me in a lot of ways.

Coming from a very proud Irish family, I’ve always celebrated St. Patricks Day to the extreme including a lot of green, a lot of shamrocks and eating a very not Irish, but traditional nonetheless, meal. For as long as I can remember, we had a list of ‘Irish’ traditions we would do every St. Patrick’s Day and it wasn’t until I got to college (#homeschooler) that I realized it wasn’t everyone who was so extreme about the holiday. This year is going to be one for the books, since last year I was living in a very non Irish location: France.

But this year, I’m so excited to go hang out and listen to some traditional music, eat some fish and chips, drink some Guinness and celebrate with the other 39 million Irish Americans. Cheers to another year of orange, white and green!

Favorite Ireland moments (in no particular order):

1. First time in Dublin: The first time I ever travelled alone, I touched down in Dublin alone and completely disorientated. I was trying to find the train station, on my way to Belfast, and I was completely exhausted from jet-lag. I remember getting off the bus from the airport, at a crossstreet which is now as familiar to me as where I grew up, and having no idea what to do with myself. At this moment a man from the station came up to me and asked me if I needed help (crying lamb that I probably looked like). He led me up to the right station, all the while talking me through my anxiety, jet-lag and referring to me as ‘love.’ Having that first taste of Ireland really imprinted on me (to this day) and set me up for falling in love with Ireland. I didn’t even have to spend 24 hours there before I was completely taken in.

2. Cliffs of Moher: This was on my Spring Break trip last year, and was one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. It was like ripping a page out of a Jane Austen novel and replaying it in real life. The cliffs were insane – as beautiful as if they had been painted, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever be that in awe of something, again.

3. Couchsurfing in Galway: After an unfortunate episode of being robbed in France, I had little to no desire to be there anymore, so I bought a plane ticket to Ireland for a few days (cheaper than flying home). I met one of the most amazing German/Irish couples and got to spend the day with them showing me around Galway. It was a truly one of a kind experience living with the locals and I loved the bus ride across Ireland, on the way there.

4. Traditional Irish Breakfasts (always): Can I just say, the way to my heart is through Irish food. I don’t care who down talks it, it is my favorite thing and I’ll take it any day to the elaborate dishes of France. To be specific, I love Irish breakfasts and every time I’ve visited the country I’ve had my share of beautiful ones.

5. Pub Crawl: I never thought I would be someone who would enjoy a pub crawl (mainly because I’m allergic to alcohol), but I really loved the going on pub crawls while I was staying at Isaacs Hostel (which is, in fact, the best hostel in Ireland to stay at). The best part of the crawl is definitely meeting people from all over the world. I love meeting new friends and hearing their stories – it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of solo travel, and one of the reasons I insist on continuing to do it.

6. Book of Kells: This comes with another tale of hospitality in Ireland and my broke little au pair self wanting to see some beautiful monk artwork. In short, the Book of Kells is one of the most beautiful (and oldest) works of illustrated literature you’ll ever see. But it is kind of pricy to get it. Luckily there was an angel of a hostel worker who had a free pass she had been saving and she gave it to me, to go see the book. I was so in awe and so grateful.

7. Dunmore Caves: Definitely one of the creepier things I’ve done on my travels (right up there with The Catacombs in Paris) mainly because walking underground where there was a mass murder of women and children generally isn’t an uplifting experience. But the scientist in me needed to examine the stalactites and stalagmites so down down down I went. The story of the Dunmore cave is basically a story about how the Danes, Norwegians and Irish were all fighting each other and slaughtering each other and bad things happen. All three of my kinfolk – lovely, huh?

8. Trying Guinness for the first time: As I said, I don’t drink. My body does not like alcohol and I have no interest in killing my liver in order to satisfy the masses. BUT. I do drink Guinness while I’m in Ireland. I may only be able to make it (baaaaaaarely) through a half-pint, but I actually do really enjoy it and I’m more than happy to order as long as I’m traveling through Ireland. NOTE: It DOES NOT taste the same in the U.S.

9. Getting a tattoo: Once upon a time I met a very beautiful tattooed ginger man who was very much in a relationship, but still counts as the best 30 minute investment in my tattoo ink I’ve ever decided to have done. That sentence didn’t really makes sense, but you get the point. There’s something perfect about having a tattoo from Ireland. I love the idea that I’m carrying something from there around with me, always.

10. Sitting on the banks of the Liffey: It isn’t always sunny and warm in Dublin, but when it is, it’s one of the most beautiful moments you could ask for. One of my favorite things to do when I travel there is to just go sit on the banks of the river Liffey and ponder life. It sounds corny, but it actually is a necessary step in traveling – having those spots to reflect. I’ve always said that my mind is the most clear when I’m in Ireland, and I’ll hold true to that, to this day.



Two Years Ago I Made A Very Irrational Decision

Happy Birthday Blog

Two years ago I wanted to live in another country, and I thought, “If I just send out applications, I can ‘check’ that off my list as I tried.” Little did I know that those applications would lead to a job, which would lead to the start of an adventure and the all the ups and downs that come with that sort of thing.

I am so thankful that I’ve had this platform and the support of all of you lovely people, as I’ve waddled my way through the ups and downs of expat life, traveling solo, traveling in groups and everything in between. The best part? This is only the beginning.

I don’t know how on earth I managed to commit to this blog and actually post for two years, but today is our anniversary/it’s birthday and I couldn’t be more happy. Writing is my passion, and having somewhere to store my words, thoughts, ideas and rants has been just the best thing in the world.

Cheers to another two years of adventures, travel and seeing more of the world! Thank you all for following along on my journey!

My Heart Lies Over The Sea


I haven’t posted in a million years, and there’s a couple of reasons why.

Life is moving by at the speed of light, compared to what it used to be (even before I moved to France). I’m working my 8-5, M-F, saving up for my next big adventure and planning out my (very quickly approaching) next temporary one – backpacking though Scotland, England and Ireland!

All of this being said, things are pretty hectic, in general. I’m taking French lessons, again, and I’m getting ready to relaunch the website I’m an editor for (The Exploress)! In addition, I’m painting away to my little heart’s content, with orders coming in to my Etsy shop – which is so much fun – but MAN, life is hectic.

Lucky for me, my little holiday adventure back to the UK/Ireland is fast approaching – we’re only a little over a month away! I CANNOT wait until my feet touch ground again in Ireland. I’ll probably just have to spend a couple hours sitting by the Liffey and staring at Dublin (which I do pretty much every time I’m there, since I can never wrap my mind around the fact that I’m there for real…seventh time’s the charm?).

But most of all, I just want to have time to read and to write and to think straight without any distractions. American life is so much faster than I remember. It’s so crazy and a bit like an animal stampede for fresh feeding grounds. I don’t know if it’s always been like this, or if it just seems like this more after how slow my European life was, but I don’t think I like it.

I do love my life, and all of the activities. But there’s something very concerning about the constant mad rush FORWARD! FORWARD! FORWARD! It seems to me, that in our lust for progress, Americans have forgotten to ever enjoy what they have achieved – no matter how great it is.

Exhibit A: I have an iPhone 4s. It works fine, with the exception of the battery starting to wane, but no other problems. It takes perfectly nice photos, it makes great phone calls, it works with all the apps that I need, and yet (somehow) I’ve managed to slip FOUR generations behind in iPhones, while living abroad, and boy would you know it here. I’m not sure exactly at what point the piece of technology gripped so preciously between our finger tips, became our token of success, intelligence and forward thinking but it has. And I find that disturbing. Why? Well, I do think there are some people who actually use a phone as advanced as the iPhone 7 – but let’s face it, 98% of us barely knew any of the features on our 4’s. So why are we in this constant upgrade mode? Most people would be better off spending the money on a vacation to somewhere beautiful, but instead we stampede to the closest phone store and set up a payment plan to put us even more in debt. Why?

I read an article the other day about how science shows that we’re wired to actually gain more enjoyment from spending our money on experiences (ex. travel) than we are spending it on objects (ex. phones) – but how is it that this information does little to nothing to actually inspire change in our spending habits?

A lot of questions, I guess. But I would like you all to know that when I originally sat down to write out this blog post I only intended on posting pretty pictures of Ireland, and leaving it at that. So much for the plan. As life continues to tell us to rev our engines louder and louder in the ears of our neighbor, I guess I just needed to sit down for a moment, with my little blog family, and talk about how odd it is to seem to be so in between worlds. I’m not sure if I’ll ever fully feel like I’m home in the US or in Europe, but my heart (to steal a phrase from the movie Brooklyn – which you should all see) is now, at least, halfway over the ocean, isn’t that better than nothing?

When I called my grandma to wish her a happy anniversary, last week, she asked me why I could never be content. I don’t know the answer. And maybe the reason for not having one, is because my heart feels so flooded with questions. I’m not sure if out there, someone, is perfectly content with where they are, how their life has shaped and why things are the way they are – but I know I’m not that person. My heart longs for other places more than I can ever describe. I don’t know how to explain the feeling of happiness and fulfillment that I’ve tasted, but that I’ve never been able to hang on to. The reality of this life is that I may not ever know the answer to any of this.

In the mad dashery I’m left simply wondering how to ever find balance with the knowledge of what’s out there and the present position of being planted here…at least, for the moment. Ignorance is bliss, or so they say. And maybe it is, but part of me hopes that somewhere, sometime, I’ll remember how to feel at home, again.

10 Things 2014 Taught Me


In the spirit of the New Year I thought I would do one more post on 2014, since I think it’s good to reflect at this time of year. 2014 taught me a lot about myself and a lot about what I want from life. It challenged me more than I’ve ever been challenged in my life, and pushed me to rise above circumstances that were happening in my life. It was a year of stretching myself, and I know I’m so much stronger than the person I was one year ago.  So, without further ado, here are my top 10 lessons I learned from 2014. Happy New Year!!

1. It’s ok to say no: As a middle child it can be hard for me to say no to things, if it means that answer is going to cause conflict. I like to play things down, and keep things docile, in general. But in 2014 I learned that there is sometimes as much value in saying ‘no’ as there is in saying ‘yes.’

2. Do what’s best for you: YOU (AND I) HAVE VALUE! And there are going to be times when the direction you see your life going doesn’t match up with people around you. THAT IS OK. Sometimes walking along a different path isn’t as crazy as it may feel like at first.

3. Love yourself: As humans, we are addicted to love. We love love. We love love stories and we idolize the “perfect relationship.” But how often do we teach about loving ourselves? Not idolizing ourselves, but truly loving ourselves. 2014 taught me what it means to love, respect and value myself even when it means making hard decisions in order to do so.

4. You are stronger than you think: In general, I’ve always considered myself a pretty “strong” person/personality. I’m not the timid type, generally speaking. But 2014 has stretched and challenged me more than ever before. A lot of things could have broken me, but I did not break, even when it was the only real option. For that I am so thankful, and so grateful, because I know I wouldn’t have made it without the support of the friends/family who love me.

5. Dream, it’s contagious: This past year I dreamed of the impossible. I dreamed of moving to another country, of making my life into something I had dreamed about for a very long time, but never thought would happen. And by dreaming big, I started seeing people around me dreaming bigger, too! I love seeing other people’s dreams blossom and become realities – like love more than anything. And I’m so proud of my friends! Dare to dream, you never know who you could inspire.

6. Don’t wait: 2014 taught me to stop waiting for circumstances, people and for life to become perfect. Because the reality is, sometimes those things come around, but a lot of the time they don’t. That’s just a s reality. Grab hold of your dreams. You don’t know what’s in your future, only what your circumstances are in the present. So run hard – the right things will catch up with you.

7. Value the people who value you: How can I even express how thankful I am for my friends? They are my life support, and I don’t know what or who I would be without them. I am incredibly blessed. Keep the people who love and support you top priority in your life REGARDLESS of your situation, time or place. Make time. Make plans. Make it work, because when you feel like you’re at the end of your strength, those are the people who hold you up.

8. Take joy in the little things: After a really rough breakup and life series of events in 2013 I started a habit which turned into a lifestyle choice. Whenever I’m in a moment when I’m just completely happy, I stop and I remind myself “In this moment, I am happy.” It might sound weird, but by verbalizing the moment, I remember them later on when I’m in a not so happy place. It can be something small like getting coffee with a friend or something huge like seeing the Berlin Wall for the first time. But taking that moment to bookmark my happiness is so important to me.

9. A lot can change in a year: Thinking back to where I was 1 year ago is crazy. I had so much ahead of me, and no idea any of it was coming. I was about to meet people who would change my life, make decisions which would move me half way around the world, and at that moment I felt like life was “so boring.” Don’t underestimate your future. And don’t be afraid to change it if you don’t like what it looks like.

10. Keep moving forward: Yes I just stole that from “Meet The Robinsons”, but I also pretty much live by this motto. The reason being that it works. The fact of the matter is, everything is not going to work out the way that you expected. And especially if you’re a risk taker, there are going to be times when you want to get up and walk away because of things that happened. But life is about picking yourself back up and trying again. Trying a different approach. Getting back in the game, even though there doesn’t seem any chance of winning. 2014 was a year where a lot of things happened that were, to be honest, nightmarish. But dwelling on that only keeps me from being productive and accomplishing greater things in my future. Life is about moving forward, let’s keep our eyes on the prize.

2015, I’m ready.

2014: The Year Of Courage

My New Years Resolution from last year for 2014

Although Facebook has tried to “review” my year, I’m not satisfied because this year was ridiculously packed with good, bad and everything in between. So, sorry Facebook but here’s MY review of my year.

January: I spent an amazing New Years Eve with best friends while being hit on by a Norwegian guy who couldn’t take a hint. I had my septum pierced and it was awesome. Complete with a mohawk, freshly painted tattoo and rebellious piercing – I’d say I was kind of a badass.


Dec 25th 2013
I started working at the Boys And Girls Club!

February: I signed up on an au pair website as a joke, and signed a contract 1 week later. Careful what you wish for. Valentines day was ridiculous, and spent with some pretty awesome friends that I seriously miss.

1654347_10202420444285825_1152181389_n 1898052_10202556118237589_1799727573_n

March: I learned that my friends are way cooler than people I was trying to impress. Sisters before misters, ladies. Never forget.

One of the best friends I could ever ask for.
One of my friends had a BABY!!!

1660285_10202655062031122_2009325527_nApril: My big brother and I were reunited. I always forget I’m related to people, until I get around him. It’s absurd. I went to my first Sounders game. It was pretty cool, but the people I went with made it way cooler.

984029_10202938957408329_2285092849423330472_n988872_10203031577003761_5003727285002521486_nMay: I was a nanny for a family that, in many ways, I felt closer to than my own. They were incredible and I was so blessed for being able to work/live/laugh/learn/be crazy with them for over two years.

10403273_10203246959468188_4260201586568979666_nJune: We lived and we laughed, and we sailed on boats.
We learned what loss was. We were shaken, but we weren’t moved. Our family was tested, but we stood together stronger than ever. #PrayForSPU

Two of my very favorite people in the world.

10367186_10203312147977860_6219276974129877950_n 10470607_10203338111866941_8181872386130881073_n

July: I painted my heart out, I hosted a billion people from Couchsurfing and enjoyed the hippieness of my hometown. I met a boy from Germany who loves to cycle around the world. 10456011_10203351752407946_3655178518403346691_n 10360557_10203439734327439_9000043357953367137_n10513315_10203503567643232_6590504214116406302_nAugust: I went to San Francisco (July also). Twice. French politics. But I made some amazing friends from around the world. A bunch of nomads coming together for 48 hours making a little family of memories.

10410367_10203554611799304_7726113398360726081_n 1610759_10203713140962434_3692547716058947034_n 10450930_10203540610169272_4775110260718380964_n

September: I made a ridiculous adventure to get to France, including four airports (late August) and landed in central France. Literally the middle of nowhere. I became friends with a Spanish girl who gave me the courage to stand up for myself.

10610864_10203913858020235_6246934693973363388_n 10478565_10203853603313905_7225285591827211885_n 10703670_10204093702396232_1306254136907240779_nOctober: I moved to PARIS!! I made new friends and had a ridiculous Halloween with my two crazy boys. 10676184_10204398659979981_14974249356388717_n

10730952_10204307034129392_696922551305332530_nNovember: We made Thanksgiving happen and I got to host all of my beautiful new friends as we all made our homesick way through (for many of us) our first holiday away from home. We learned that family doesn’t just mean DNA.


December: We finally started to feel like we could find our way around France. Maybe this life could work. Maybe the leaps of faith weren’t as ridiculous as people said. Maybe we could come out of this stronger, wiser and happier than when we went in. Just maybe, we weren’t quite as crazy as people thought.





Yesterday’s Ceiling Is Today’s Floor

Totally not my graduation. But entirely the right graduation picture.

This week I received an invitation from my alma mater to attend my five-year reunion. I had to decline the invite, since I live 5,000 miles away from where I went to college (and flying back to watch a basketball game and drink punch doesn’t really seem worth the $1500 plane ticket), but getting the email made me think. This is year five. When people asked me in college what my five-year plan was, this is where they were asking about.

The same as most twenty-somethings, I remember people frequently asking me where I saw myself in 5 years. I never really had an answer. I knew I wanted to be happy. I knew I wanted to feel like my life was moving, and not static. But beyond those two things, I honestly had no idea.

Going to a small conservative university where “ring by spring” was more the ideal, than a catch phrase, a lot of people had marriage, kids and white picket fences on their list of five year objectives. And while there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, I never felt right saying any of them as an answer (at least not within my 5 year span of time).

Was “having an adventure” an option?

I always want to be in a place where I’m moving forward. I think my biggest fear in life is waking up one morning and realizing that I’ve wasted years of my life hating what I do and who I’ve become. But when I look over the past five years I don’t see that. Did I become the person people thought I would become, while I was in college? Who knows. But I do know that there were dreams, so deeply buried in my heart, that I didn’t even know they were there until they were realized.

The mere fact that I can’t attend my reunion because I live in EUROPE is amazing. I never would have even dreamed that this would be an opportunity for me.

And as I’ve looked back over the past five years I can safely say I’ve had quite a few awesome moments that I’m so proud of.
And, in the spirit of five, here are my top highlights:

  1. I became an artist: I’ve been creating art since I could move my hands, but over the past five years I finally learned to embrace it as who I am. I am an artist. And no matter how much I want to be a doctor, lawyer or astronaut, that’s who I am. Art is what I dream about. What gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s what I think about when I’m riding the metro, it’s what I look at when I’m walking down the street. I never before felt comfortable declaring myself as an artist. But over the past years I’ve been able to make some incredible friends who have helped me embrace that this is my identity.
  1. I became a writer: My whole life I’ve written stories. I used to force my siblings to have story writing competitions with me and we would cut up cereal boxes to “bind” out books together. Libraries were always my second home, so it makes sense that stories became my second language. While I did get my BA in journalism, I never had any idea what I would do with it. I had no interest in brooding news stories. And I used to shock my journalism professor by telling him that the only journalism I was interested in was writing for a tabloid (what no journalism prof. ever wants to hear).
    I always felt like everyone else was always just better than me at being a journalist. From editor to fellow writer, they were a beautiful brooding bunch that stayed up late watching CNN and talking about world events and politics. That wasn’t me. And no matter how much I wished I could be like my stylish editors or the praised writers in my classes, I couldn’t change that.
    I was pretty lost for direction until the past couple of years when I discovered that writing doesn’t always have to be about reporting world events (although that’s important too!). It can be fun and colorful, it can mean going on adventures and writing about them! And then the best part ever happened: me. Little ‘ole non-journalistically inclined me, became an editor…and I love every minute of it.
  1. I travelled the world: I don’t think I would have ever guessed how much travel would be involved in my future, when I was in college. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved to travel and learn about/experience other cultures, but I never thought I would have the opportunities to go out and experience so many of them. I’ve gone with groups, I’ve gone solo, I’ve lived in other states and another country (on another continent!) and I’ve been able to learn so much about myself by looking through the eyes of people around the world.
  1. I worked for organizations that made a global impact: Societal change and sustainable business is SO important to me! And regardless of where I work or what point in my life I’m at, I want to always find a way to give back to the communities around me. Being able to work with non-profits and with small businesses over the past five years has forever changed my outlook on the world and on the way that I interact with it.
  1. I made friends for life: Something great happens when you’re dirt poor and forced to live with three other people in an apartment that should probably only hold two people. I think American society teaches us to fear those growing points in our life; the parts where we have no money and have to work weird jobs to be able to pay our utility bill. But my best memories in my life have come out of times when I had no money, weird jobs and had no idea where my life was going. Was it comfortable? No. Did I cry a lot and ask God why the hell he had put me there. Maybe Yes. But now, looking back, I understand why. I get why in seasons where I thought money was the object, the actual title of the chapter was “Friendship” and I could not be more grateful for the relationships that were molded during these times.

Note. None of these things have made me filthy rich, Instagram famous or listed on “America’s most influential 30 under 30.” But if I was asked if I accomplished my five year goal I would say “Yes.”

Because I am happy. And I am free to do the things that make me happy. Over the past five years I’ve gone on too many adventures to count. I have so many stories I could write a novel. I’ve met some of the coolest people I think I could find on this planet, and I have never felt more loved or supported in my life.

I am me. Uninhibited, nonconforming and entirely me. And I think that’s something to celebrate.

And now, it’s time to dream EVEN BIGGER., and to add some new goals for my next “five year list!” I have no idea how I’m supposed to top this one, but here’s to brighter tomorrows and bigger dreams.
What are some of your guys’ dreams from the past or for the future?

Even Heroes Get Homesick

Paris, France

“But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find, nor remember what it looked like.”

Right now I’m making my way through the forever-favorite book, The Hobbit. I know, I know, all the rest of you read it in 7th grade when you were sporting rainbow braces, but I was off busy doing something else, and never had the chance. With the movies coming out, though, I decided to make it my book for the summer (one of a few).

Obviously it isn’t summer anymore. So I guess I didn’t quite make my deadline…but I’m still determined to finish the book, and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.

One of my favorite things about J.R.R Tolkein is that, when he writes, he doesn’t romanticize the struggles of the adventures (which, personally, I think kind of makes it more romanticized, in a way). Throughout The Hobbit, again and again and again, he writes that Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit longing for home. No matter where he is, how good or bad things seem to be going; he remembers the tranquility of his hobbit hole and longs for it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I often find myself reading books that seem to coincide exactly with the kind of encouragement that I need. Or maybe, I find the encouragement in the books I read, because I need it.

Regardless, if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that: I love adventures. I love living them, I love writing them and I love hearing stories about them. I love holding my breath while watching adventure movies, getting caught up in narratives and being on the edge of my seat – eyes wide and ready for the grand conclusion.

This hasn’t changed from when I was a kid and I’d spend weeks reading stacks of books about people who took their circumstances and turned them into stories worthy of being passed down through generations. That’s what I wanted then, and what I live for now. I want my life to be a story I can read back to my children; something that will have them on the edge of their seats, anticipating the part when mom _________________ (fill in the blank).

Adventures aren’t just something I think are necessary, but essential for my life. I need to travel, explore and see new things. I need to have my breath taken away by landscapes and oceans, to meet incredible people and take my place among the millions of experiences the world has to offer.

But the perspective of an adventure can be pretty different when you’re in the middle of it vs. when you’re hearing it second hand. Hungry wolves chasing after you might sound exciting from the security of your living room, but while you’re actually running from them– breath staggering, panic stricken eyes wild with fear, it’s probably not quite the same feeling (although, I’ve never been chased by wolves, so correct me if I’m wrong).

As humans, it’s in our nature to romanticize the past. We tell embellished stories (especially in my family) of what happened, who was there and how many obstacles there were; a foot long puddle turns into a raging river, a 10-inch trout becomes a 60-foot whale.

The stories get passed down from one person to another and then to another and another, until nobody even knows, for sure, what the facts are. As the details trickle down, from one person to the next, details get lost and scrambled in translation – especially emotions such as fear or uncertainty; finally, we’re left simply with the grand tales of bravery – unaware that the hero or heroine was having panic attacks before they made their brave, life altering, world saving decision.

I know personally, when I look back, I have a habit of romanticizing my past.

Somehow things always seem better when they’re not in the present. Life seems so much more exciting in the future; so much more secure and certain in the past. But if I’m honest, I realize that just isn’t the case.

Right now, I’m struggling with a Bilbo Baggins mentality.

Maybe I don’t live in Middle Earth, but I would consider my life an adventure right now. I’m in a strange place, with a strange culture and language surrounding me. I have no idea what the next year of my life will entail. But, all in all, life is pretty great right now.

So why am I still longing for the past?

I love the family I’m working with, I couldn’t have asked for a better match in personalities, tastes, hobbies and general atmosphere.

BUT…here it comes: I’m homesick.

I don’t really want to admit it, because I thought maybe I would miraculously overcome nostalgia (and I did for about month) but this week the homesickness has been hitting pretty hard.

It’s not saying that I don’t love the adventure that I’m on. I’m making awesome friends, getting to try new experiences and generally loving life – but there’s still a part of me longing for my hobbit hole (aka Seattle).

I miss friends, I miss my routine, I miss my bike, being able to call people up to go watch the sunset at Golden Gardens, or to WOW to drink bubble tea; I miss speaking and hearing English, and I miss being able to effortlessly talk to random people when I go out.

It’s expected and normal for us to want what we had before, whether it was bad or good, it was known. And who wouldn’t want to be somewhere they know over somewhere uncertain?

But right now, I’m reminding myself of the beauty in learning to love something I’m uncomfortable with. And let me tell you – sometimes it is VERY UNCOMFORTABLE to be living in a country that is so different.

But that’s part of the adventure, right!?

I’m so thankful for all of you who have encouraged me, sent me mail (which seriously makes my week) and have generally uplifted me during this transition. I feel so lucky to have such an amazing community around me, and I’m excited for what’s up and coming in my life – even if it means missing my city a little in the meantime.

Seattle will always have my heart. And striking out into the unknown can be extremely intimidating at times. But I’m learning to accept the fact that even the greatest heroes and heroines sometimes find themselves longing for home.

I found a beret at a Paris street fair. Needless to say: J’adore.