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.

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! 

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! 

5 Reasons Why The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Is Life

In case you haven’t seen it, yet, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the show you SHOULD be watching. And it’s one of my absolute favorites for a few prime reasons. The show starts off with Midge (aka Mrs. Maisel), a gorgeous upper-westside 1950s housewife, getting dumped by her weak-ass husband. But, never fear, what starts out as madness ends in…well, madness. But madness of a different kind. And I think that’s why I like this show so much. It really is such a refreshing take on what it means to be a woman. And to be perfectly honest, it taps into some pretty big items that are still very relevant today.

Since promoting the stories of strong, independent women is kind of my passion, I thought I would share my reasons for loving this show so much (if you haven’t watched it yet, you can find it on Amazon Prime). Even beyond the laugh-out-loud humor and fast-paced banter, here are five reasons that you really need to be watching:

1. This show highlights women…and they aren’t all the same

Let’s face it, we can all tell when a man is making a movie about women. Why? Because all the female characters fall into cringeworthy categories/stereotypes. I love how this show highlights women ranging from Midge’s manager (who is constantly being referred to as a man), to her best friend/front-row-at-yoga mom of the year, to her mother who is perfectionistic (yet sensitive), to herself: Miriam Maisel, the comic. One of my favorite things about these characters is that nobody is “right.” The show doesn’t try to show one type of woman as better than the others. Like I said: trés refreshing.

2. Midge makes mistakes

I love how Midge is written, because her character doesn’t always get things right. In fact, she gets things wrong all the time AND THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES. But she’s grounded enough to know when extreme measures need to be taken (ex. When she barges into a managers office, after failing an interview, to ask for another job). She’s persistent in finding out who she is, and what she wants. At one point in the show her husband tells Midge that she’s “a lot.” She asks, “A lot of what?” and he then goes into telling her that some girls are pretty, some are funny, some your parents like…but you don’t usually find a girl who checks all the boxes.

This discussion is huge. Why? Because I think this is STILL a problem in today’s society. Women are expected to do everything, be it all, but when we work our asses off to reach that peak of perfection we’re told that we’re too much. We’re too intimidating. We’re too strong-willed. We need to smile more, and tone it back so men can feel comfortable (my grandmother’s actual words). I love Midge for not standing down, despite being told she’s “a lot.”

3. Midge experiences real life situations

From dealing with her parents, to dealing with bras, to taking yoga classes, to taking off her makeup, to cooking brisket, to measuring her body to make sure she’s “still got it,” Midge brings a really beautiful slice of humanity to this show. Let’s face it: girls deal with a lot of problems that never get put on television. They’re invisible. We don’t talk about them.

We’re all just walking around trying to keep it together while putting in 120% more effort than we should have to. My favorite example of this is when Midge and her husband are talking about the indents on her skin from her bra. He says he never noticed them before, and she responds that it’s because she used to powder her back to make it less red. He asks how long they’ll stay there and she says, “They’ll go away by morning…just in time for me to wear the thing again. It’s a vicious cycle.” The struggle is real.

4. The costumes are to die for

Okay, so from a purely design/artist point of view I love this show because of the costumes which are absolutely ravishing. Midge is always on point, and completely pulled together and it reminds me why I spent 15 years of my life obsessed with 1940s fashion (let’s be honest, I still am). The costumes in this show bring a whole different, and beautiful, dimension to the story and I love the narratives that are told just by which dress she chooses to wear.

5. Midge has a side-hustle

Or, rather, she has a 9-5. Whichever way you look at it, I love that Midge is juggling working retail, while still pursuing her dreams at night. All while wearing the perfect shade of red lipstick. When Midge first gets a job, there’s a general feeling of shock and horror from her family, but she doesn’t let that get to her. She goes for it, realizing that the only way she can truly gain her freedom is by bringing in some kind of income. I think a lot of us (#millenials) can relate to this feeling of trying to stay in the green while pursuing what we’re passionate about. Those sleepless nights, and early mornings, are a little too real. But I love that Midge sticks with it, and keeps pressing on toward her ultimate goal of owning the stage (while following her rules).

Haven’t seen the show, yet? Check out the trailer here:

2017 Reviewed By Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger

Welcome to the post every blogger writes, yet most readers don’t give a shit about: my year in review (sorry for the swearing, mom).

Being a travel blogger has been one of the most amazing adventures of my life, but sometimes I still look back at pictures and wonder if I really went there, or did that. Whose life is this? 2017 was a wild ride because I got to travel to eight…yes, EIGHT, different countries.

While I usually only take one big trip per year, I somehow fit two in, and it was an absolutely incredible privilege to check off big list items like Morocco and Denmark (two places I’ve been DYING to go). This year also took me from one of the most traumatic experiences, to some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had. I’m leaving some things behind in 2017 that I’m really going to miss but that’s part of moving forward, right? The end of a year always seems to close a chapter on some things you aren’t quite ready to let go of.

Such is life, I guess. This year has made me stronger, wiser, and as my mom says, “someday it won’t hurt so much.” Until then, let’s live a little stronger, a little more passionate, and really pursue the things that set our hearts on fire. 2018 is going to be such an amazing adventure. I’m already starting to plan some pretty epic road-trips, and I cannot wait to share all of the savory details with you guys. Until then, here is my blogger contribution to the madness of 2017. Happy New Year!!!

Backpacking trip: Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Belgium

I started out this year with a solo backpacking trip that was one for the books. Not only did I love going to Loch Ness and Inverness (Outlander fans!?), but I also just loved seeing the highlands of Scotland. During this trip I also had, singlehandedly, the best 48 hours of my life in Denmark (and made some amazing new friends!).

Cosplaying Rufio at Emerald City Comicon
I’ve only been cosplaying for a couple of years, but I’m so obsessed with it that I don’t know if I’ll ever stop. I love being able to represent characters that I love, and I love gender-bending (taking a male character and giving them a female twist). My Rufio cosplay was so fun to take to Emerald City Comicon. Honestly. I live for conventions.

Becoming a Schwinn/ R.Riveter ambassadorThis year I got to be an Ambassador for two different brands: Schwinn Bikes and R. Riveter bags. Both of these brands have a strong backing of supporting people who are out there really living their lives. Whether it’s taking city adventures with my bike, or traveling across the world (or to another world) with my R. Riveter bag, I’ve loved every minute.

Going to my first Renaissance Faire This was one of those last minute things where you’re less than prepared, but more than a little excited for an event. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, to be perfectly honest, but getting to experience my first joust (and ax throwing) was a pretty special event in my life. I also got to throw an axe…so that was cool. In 2018 I’m really looking forward to going again, and this time cosplaying.

Doing a live painting at BumbershootI’ve told this story a few times, but I was told a lot (growing up) that I wasn’t meant to be an artist. I wasn’t “called” to it. Well, this year not only did I continue painting shoes with my Etsy shop, but I got the amazing opportunity to do a live painting at Bumbeshoot, which is a huge music festival in Seattle. Even better? My painting sold!

Creating some super nerdy art projects (Sherlock + Jamie Fraser)There has seriously been so much nerding this year and I’ve loved it so much. From getting connected with my favorite podcast “Three patch problem” to crocheting little nerd dolls to send to friends, it really has just been the best. I’m also almost finished with all of my Harry Potter house scarves, so keep an eye out for those in my Etsy shop!

Going to the Skagit Valley Scottish Highland Games The Skagit Valley Highland Games has become a tradition that I don’t think I ever want to break. It’s so fun to go celebrate my Scottish heritage, eat amazing food and enjoy traditional Scottish dancing and music. It really is food for my soul and this year was great because I won my tickets for having the best photo from the 2016 Highland Games!

Dislocating my shoulder… the third day of summer campThis year was a year for injuries. This must mean I’m getting old. Not only did I dislocate my shoulder (resulting in weeks of physical therapy), but I also got pneumonia, sustained a 102 degree fever for a week, got my heart broken, and had my first ER visit. This year was kind of a constant progression of healing, but it taught me a lot about patience and about how amazing my little tribe of badass women is. Thank you every single person who held me up this year, despite the crazy.

Cosplaying Aquaman after months of planning I started planning this cosplay after ECCC in March and it came together beautifully. I loved being able to think of something and then actually see it materialize. Also, having a faux shoulder sleeve tattoo was pretty badass. Cosplay brings so much happiness to my life, I don’t even know how I ever went without doing it. Cheers to new ideas and great conventions in 2018! 2nd Photo credit to Aubrey Rebecca Photography.

Getting a new job…my dream job!2016 and 2017 I worked 60 hours a week (6am-6pm…every day) to build a resume that could get me my dream job. I’ve always been a writer, and what started as watching Mad Men resulted in me pinning down that ad agency work was the absolute ringer for what I wanted to do with my career. In October, my hard work finally paid, off thanks to some amazing women helping me along the way. I absolutely love my job, and I feel so incredibly thankful for it each and every day that I’m there.

Backpacking trip: Spain, Morocco, England, Iceland
I ended this year the same way I started it: with travel. 2018 will mark my five year anniversary of backpacking, and I can’t believe I ever let people tell me not to do something that brings so much life to my being. I love traveling, and visiting friends around the world added so much value to 2017. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to jump on planes and live out my passion. I don’t take this privilege lightly. For me traveling is the gateway to every other part of my life being inspired, and I can’t wait to see what adventures 2018 brings my way. 

The Perfect Travel Bag | The Otto From R. Riveter

On Saturday I got back from a two week backpacking trip through Western Europe and Northern Africa and throughout that time I developed a love connection with my newest bag, The Otto, from R. Riveter. Now, I am an ambassador for R. Riveter, but they did not sponsor this post, nor did they pay me to say beautiful things about them. This is, plain and simple, my honest opinion on a bag I think that every travel blogger should own.

Over the past five years of traveling I’ve definitely developed a routine for what works best for me. I have my favorite adaptor, my favorite travel document carrier, and my favorite pack. But I’ve never been able to pin down my favorite travel bag (you know, the one that goes UNDER the seat when you fly). And believe me, I’ve tried to find something that works. If you know me, you know I go through clothes and accessories like my life depends on it, so this is probably the sixth or seventh bag I’ve tried. Luckily, I’ve finally found something I can count on. Here’s why:

Heathrow Airport | London, England

The leather handles are one of my favorite feature with this bag because not only does it come with hand straps, but it also comes with a cross-body strap. This is pretty essential because when I already have a 30 lb pack on my back, the last thing I want is to be carrying a cross-body bag with more stuff in it, and when I’m riding the metro during rush hour (without my pack) the last thing I want is to have to hold on to handles.

Stonehenge | England

When I travel I generally pack very minimal, in regards to clothing. I go for muted colors and a few accessories that can get me through photos without looking like I’ve been cut and pasted into each place. It’s really important to me, therefore, to have a bag that shows quality and simplicity at the same time. The Otto is the perfect balance of chic and also something people notice.

Windsor Castle | England

Size really does matter when it comes to having the perfect travel bag, and The Otto wins this category in spades. The elongated rectangular shape is perfect for putting books, tablets, and other necessities in and I found this so helpful during day trips where I had to have everything I would need for 11 hours in one bag.

Natural History Museum | London, England

When you’re buying  a bag you want it to fit into every part of your lifestyle, and that includes being able to transform as a beautiful day bag for work, to a travel accessory fit for Indiana Jones.

The real question, of course, is how much can you ACTUALLY fit in this thing? Well, for science, I decided to try it out. As you can see, there’s quite a lot that can go in, including (but not limited to) my tablet, a novel, my passport, a water bottle, chapstick, my travel organizer, currency from four different countries, napkins, snacks and postcards. Whew! But honestly, one of the best features of this bag is that it comes with a sturdy zipper to seal all of this madness away. Especially when it comes to stowing it under airplane seats (which I did seven times during this trip), it’s invaluable to know your valuables aren’t going to be sliding back to row 33 during take-off.

Casablanca, Morocco

The pockets are another beautiful, and functional, things about this bag. And let me tell you how much I love beauty and functionality. There are two pockets on the outside of the bag that hug the shape so if you put little items like bus tickets in them they’re not going to blow away. In addition there are two slot pockets on the inside (where I kept my keys, chapstick and other little bits and pieces) and a zipper pocket that stretches almost the length of the back of the bag. This zip pocket I actually used as a wallet for change while I was traveling because I never travel with an actual wallet (story for another time).

Girona, Spain

Stylish, dependable and made by military spouses, there really isn’t a way to lose on this bag. I’m so happy to have mine for this and for all of my future expeditions. It really is the perfect travel companion. Until next time!

Girona, Spain

10 Thoughts I Had Watching LOST For The First Time

Recently, it was brought to my attention that I’d made the life-shattering mistake of never seeing the show LOST.

To be fair, this isn’t entirely my fault. I wasn’t allowed to watch the show when it first aired (I was 13—not a whole lot of arguing power), and by the time I was old enough to watch it, I wasn’t really interested. I remember friends talking about characters when I was in high school…but honestly I was really busy trying to graduate early from college and just never really watched TV. Pity me.

Anyway, to remedy this soul-wrenching loss to my existence I took it upon myself to watch the show. Even better, I decided to watch the show and record how I felt about it. Today I finished the first season, and dammmmmnnnn why are there so many episodes!? Anyway, here are the rest of my thoughts:

1. What is this vortex of a fandom I’m about to walk into? Someone please send help.

2. Where is Jeff? 


3. But wait. Is that Belle from Once Upon A Time? Yes, it is. And she has a hobbit and an elf with her! P.s. Is it legal for someone to fly when they’re 8 months pregnant? 4. But wait. Why are there 46 people, and we only see 10?

5. For being the ONLY doctor, Jack sure gets sent running off into the forest of death a lot. 

6. Charlie + Drugs = Still a better love story than Twilight.

7. Game of Thrones wasn’t first.

8. So, um. When’s Sawyer gonna start a book club? 

9. Go home, Jack…10. …and take Kate with you.

BONUS: There’s a shocking lack of lens flares for this being produced by J.J. Abrams.

All in all the show is a fun adventure, but in a weird way I wish it was grittier. There’s a whole lot of “implied” without a whole lot materializing…but maybe it gets more intense as the seasons go on (shut up—don’t tell me). Until then, I guess it’s just me, Netflix and the little dog I’m babysitting.

P.s. She doesn’t like Jack, either.  

Review: The Rolling Donut | Dublin, Ireland

(Photo courtesy of The Rolling Donut)

An American walks into an Irish donut shop…

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review, and there are a couple of reasons for that, but I’ve been sitting here for months thinking about a particular donut shop that I went to when I was in Dublin, last time I was there. Now, to start things off, you should know that I LOVE donuts. Of the five things I missed the most, when I was living in France, it was donuts—that’s how serious I am.

That being said, I was so happy to find a donut shop the last time I was in Dublin. The sad news is that it was pretty empty every time I walked by (despite being located in a very busy area), and the workers looked like they hadn’t spoken to anyone in days. BUT, that didn’t stop me from popping in and having chat. The workers were SO nice, and they gave me not one, but two, delicious raspberry filled donuts that were out of this world.

I mean, really, I’m still sitting here thinking about them and that was almost six months ago. If you’re in Dublin, I would definitely recommend taking quick trip to this little shop. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

Ordered: Two raspberry filled donuts

Where: 34 Bachelors Walk, North City, Dublin 1, D01 YN15, Ireland

Went: January 2017

Wifi: No

Reservation Needed: No

Website: https://www.therollingdonut.ie/ 

Tip: All of the sourdough donuts are made fresh every day in the bakery with all fillings, glazes and toppings produced in-house. They use only fresh & locally sourced ingredients where possible. AND they have Vegan donuts!

Review: Gregory Jade 50 Pack – Women’s

A lot can get lost in translation while I’m traveling. For instance, when I’m traveling you get to see the beautiful sites through the lens of my DSLR, but you usually won’t see the 30lb pack strapped to my back.

Well that’s all about to change. I’m starting this series on the gear that gets me around the world. Because a) I love sharing what actually works and b) you deserve to know what’s out there! This week I’m starting with one of the most important things when backpacking: your pack.

When I first started backpacking I bought one of the cheapest packs I could find. This wasn’t because I didn’t want a nicer pack (duh.), it was because I was broke as a joke and just needed to get out there. I didn’t care about comfort, or if I my spine would scream at me the whole time I was wearing it. What mattered was that I had something I could throw my stuff in.

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Old backpack, meet new backpack. This was right before I switched all of my patches over to my new pack (right).

Things aren’t quite the same, now. I have a full time job, and I’m no spring chicken. It was time for me to invest in a pack that would allow my back/body to breathe, while allowing my essentials to be easily accessible. Last year the answer came with the Gregory Jade 50 pack *insert heavenly music*.

The Jade pack is amazing, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision to purchase it, even though it meant saying goodbye to my other pack that had been with me for three years, through thick and thin (and living in France, which is a whole ‘nother story).

Want to see it in action? Click below:

So what’s so great about my new pack? Well the “LTS suspension” which is a fancy way of saying air can reach your back while you’re sweating like a sinner in church. Because that’s a huge reality, and not one that gets caught on the the other side of my Nikon. Carrying 30 lbs on your back makes you sweat. Like a lot.

The great news is that it isn’t as much of a problem with this Gregory pack because the back portion of the pack is shaped to support your back, while giving you the proper aeration.

This pack also has a multitude of pockets. Like, so many. In fact, there were so many that I didn’t even use some. Which is huge, because I usually stuff every possible tiny pocket. This pack also has an expandable front bucket pocket, which you can see in the photo and side and bottom compression, which is perfect for when you’re losing weight (#snacks) or gaining weight (#souvenirs).

One of my favorite features is that the zippers are welded, so they’re actually water proof. Which means if it rains (which it will) there isn’t water seeping into your pack. Glory.

The pack is also just incredibly comfy, which is saying a lot for having pounds and pounds of living supplies on your back. The handles are padded, and the fit system includes a pretty great harness, so that you don’t feel like you’re going to fall backwards…or down to the earth’s core.

In short, this pack is everything a pack should be. It’s intuitive, organized and easy to love. I’m not going to lie, I was reluctant to move on from my last pack…but this one won me over.

Cheers to the next adventure.

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See those flag pins on the top? Those lasted all of two plane trips before I had to take them off.

 

Why Moana is the Anthem for Every Travel Girl

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A couple of weeks ago I saw Disney’s newest film, Moana. There were a few problems I had with the overall story structure but the music was just about flawless. Shout out to Lin-Manuel Miranda! One of the best parts of this movie is how empowering the songs Moana (and her grandma) sing. As a woman who travels, I know how hard it is to find support to go “beyond the horizon.” And while I may not live in a small village, and I’m not a chief’s daughter (clarified in the movie as NOT a princess *Pocahontas rolls her eyes* ) the stigma about leaving home is still very real.

One of my favorite songs in the movie comes when Moana finds herself hopelessly lost and defeated, despite her braveness and tenacity. She didn’t get it right on the first try…or even the second time.  I think this is a really powerful lesson for girls who want to strike out on their own, regardless of whether it’s through travel or not. You’re not going to magically get it right. Even with magical help, Moana doesn’t get it right. Here’s my takeaway from how one of her songs should be the anthem for every girl who travels.

(Gramma Tala): I know a girl from an island
She stands apart from the crowd
She loves the sea and her people
She makes her whole family proud

The first stanza of this song is beautiful. Her grandma reminds her that she is loved and affirms that her family is proud of her, despite her own feelings of inadequacy. This whole song had me on the brink of tears, but the beginning is especially poignant because it’s not often enough that women from older generations speak identity over the younger ones. Women, rise up. Stop complaining about the younger spoiled millennials and start speaking to the generations younger than you, no matter your age. They need to hear affirmation. You might be the only voice giving it to them.

Sometimes the world seems against you
The journey may leave a scar
But scars can heal and reveal just
Where you are

Scars are okay. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. It’s through these obstacles and failures that you discover not only who you are, but what you want. You are made stronger by your “weaknesses” because once you challenge yourself you can find ways to overcome them. It took me so long to realize that being hurt, being disappointed and being found lacking was actually one of the best things that could happen. When you’re living in another country and you ‘just can’t’, you start to realize how strong you really are, by pressing forward anyway.

The people you love will change you
The things you have learned will guide you
And nothing on Earth can silence
The quiet voice still inside you
And when that voice starts to whisper
Moana, you’ve come so far
Moana, listen
Do you know who you are?

Every woman needs to be asked this question, “Who are you?” One of my life changing moments came when an older lady asked me that at a local market. I started to tell her what I did for my job (at the time I was a nanny) and she stopped me asking, “But is that what you want to do with your life?” The answer was no. And so she told me to start defining myself by what I longed to do. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am an advocate. This is who I am.

(Moana): Who am I?
I am the girl who loves my island
I’m the girl who loves the sea
It calls me

Here’s we go! This is the part where I almost pulled a Shia Lebouf and stood up clapping. Moana is questioning herself and what she feels called to the whole first part of the movie but when she takes some time to reflect she realizes who she really is. I’m not crying – you are.

I am the daughter of the village chief
We are descended from voyagers
Who found their way across the world
They call me

I’ve delivered us to where we are
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me

Okay, so now shit (sorry, mom) gets real. Not only is Moana claiming who she is, in this part, but she’s claiming what she’s done. Not only what she’s done, but that it has value. Impostor syndrome is a very real part of American culture, for women. We feel like even if we accomplish something it’s because we were “lucky” or “the stars just aligned” we don’t claim that we fought and clung and crawled our way to get there. That’s not right. And also not healthy. CLAIM your victories – you have journeyed farther! You are so much more!

And the call isn’t out there at all
It’s inside me
It’s like the tide, always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart
You’ll remind me
That come what may, I know the way
I am Moana!

Throw the confetti! Light the fireworks! She won! She hasn’t even made it to her “foe” in the movie and she’s already won! Why? Because she gets it, now. It wasn’t ever about needing to travel across the sea (although that is a big part of her identity). She realizes that her strength comes from within and the love of her family (her grandma’s spirit) is something that she always has to hold onto. The physical journey was only one part of her transformation and overcoming. SHE DID IT! And so can you.

And now, this is me:

Here’s the full song, in case you want to re-listen: