Why You Should Stop Waiting To Be Happy

When I was in fourth grade I learned the meaning of my name.
My little introvert self was at sleep-away camp, which I distinctly remember hating because I was constantly surrounded by other girls. Well…I loved camp, I just hated the giggly-socialness of pre-teen girls 24/7.

One day, while I was in the camp snack shack, I found a little bookmark that I fell in love with. On the front there was this magnificent floral design (let me tell you how much I love floral designs) and my name, on the top there was a pink braided string, and on the back there was a bible verse. The verse was Proverbs 30:31 and the definition said this:

Emily: “Diligent one.” One who strives. One who is eager to succeed. 

I was pretty happy to find out I was given a strong name. To this day I’m a huge fan of name meanings and giving kids names with a legacy they can grow into. I guess my mom did a pretty good job because I felt like someone had just told me I was actually Wonder Woman. I bought the bookmark from the little shop and kept it in various books for probably close to a decade. Ever since, I’ve done my best to live up to it.

One slight problem. Constantly striving is great for the short-term, but how do you make this into a sustainable lifestyle? How do you keep pressing forward to the next big thing, without having a mental breakdown?

Simple: Find balance.

Not simple: I’m not naturally gifted with the ability to enjoy life.

I know, I know, that doesn’t seem to make sense. But, bear with me. See, I’m a fighter. And while that’s great (sometimes), it also means I’m hot-headed and impulsive and I’ll take a swing even when life is trying to help me. It’s a family curse: mistaking turmoil, for authenticity.

I come from a very hard working family, and it’s a lot to live up to. We were raised being constantly reminded of our family name. It meant something. It still does. Most importantly, we were constantly reminded so we would aspire beyond the limitations of past generations.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a blog post about not working hard, because I do and I advocate for others to do so as well. BUT. Lately, I’ve been challenged to learn another lesson: How to be kind to myself. Maybe this sounds too full of fluff for you, and maybe you’re like “What does this even have to do with a travel blog!?” but I think it’s really important that you all understand that the girl behind the keyboard is a mess under construction, as much as she is a world traveller and general bad-ass (your words, not mine).

I push myself really hard. And sometimes that’s great, because feeling like you’re moving forward is one of the best feelings in the world. But what if you’re moving forward in the wrong direction? Over the past six months I’ve had to make some really huge decisions and I’ve had to let some really important things in my life go. We’re talking foundation pillars being pulled out of the life I thought I was building. It was rough, and took a lot of tears and prayer to make the decisions.

But here’s the thing. As cliché as it might sound, letting go of those things has allowed my life to be filled with so much more substance. More laughter. More opportunities. More love. More books. More Art. More friendship. Just more.

I’ve always been the type of girl who likes to have a plan. But in the past six months I’ve been challenged to walk by faith, and faith alone. We’re talking, I had no back-up plan. Just the conviction of my heart and a million and a half prayers into my pillow at night. Something please work out. 

And it did. And I can honestly say I’m happier today than I’ve been for over two years. The future is looking bright, I’m regaining the use of my right arm (#crylaughsmile) and I have some absolutely awesome things to share with you guys in the near future.

We’re gonna be okay. Listen to that little voice that tells you what you really should be doing. Chase happiness, and most of all: be kind to yourself. I’ll be here to cheer you on.

Edinburgh, Scotland: 1.5 Days Of Chilly Beauty

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Our lovely hostel is in the bottom left hand corner of this picture .

For those of you who have been following along, you’ll know that I was on a backpacking trip from Dec 24th – Jan 4th. I was traveling with two friends, on and off throughout the trip, and I we travelled two four cities along the way. While this wasn’t my first trip around the UK/Ireland, I wanted to make sure to hit some new places, so we went to Edinburgh, Scotland (I had stayed in Glasgow before) and we visited the adorable town of Stratford-upon-Avon. I didn’t have much time to post on the blog while we were traveling, so I’ll fill you all in on what happened in the upcoming weeks.

Our first stop (after me sleeping in Heathrow on Christmas night with my Elf on the Shelf) was
DSC_0047Edinburgh. We took a Megabus up to Edinburgh because the UK takes Boxing Day very serious, and decided to close down all public transportation to prove the point. So, instead of being able to take a train up to Scotland, we hopped on a bus. Little did we know, the floods had cut off many of the routes that the buses usually used to get around, so the initial 9 hour trip ended up taking about 11 hours.

BUT, when we finally did make it to our final destination, we found our Australian filled hostel, more than welcoming and headed out to that night’s Pub Crawl. While usually I wouldn’t go out after sleeping in an airport, riding buses for over 12 hours total and being jet-lagged, I’m so glad we did because we had a great time hanging out with some Scots, and going to (without a doubt) the worst club in Scotland.
DSC_0032After a 10 hour exhaustion induced slumber, I was up and ready to go at the bright and early time of 11am. Thankful that my hostel didn’t charge me for checking out late, and even more thankful that they showed me the best spots for me to visit, I joined one of my friends on a walking tour and we galavanted around the hilly city of Edinburgh.

Our walking tour was more than a little bit entertaining, filled with Scottish anecdotes and history lessons, such as where the term “shit faced” comes from (referencing a saying doesn’t count as swearing, mom). We also got to see the grave site of the infamous “Greyfriars Bobby” which, you may know about if you’ve spent time watching the vintage Disney film, or are obsessed with stories about loyal little dogs, (both of which my mother is) which is why I was one of the few people in our tour to recognize the reference of it.  DSC_0048

The trip ended by a trip to the National gallery and a walk around the Christmas markets, and Edinburgh at night (which is a holiday scene you don’t want to miss out on!). A quick pop back to the hostel (luckily, Edinburgh has most of it’s main attractions within a pretty condensed area) to grab my pack, and it was off to the airport – next stop, Ireland.

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Oh! And did I mention that our hostel was right next to a CASTLE!?

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Visiting the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter!

 

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The graveyard where the real Tom Riddle (amongst other characters from Harry Potter) were buried.

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The history of the phrase “Shit faced” comes from Edinburgh. Apparently early in the morning, when pubs closed and men were stumbling homes, households would dispose of their chamber pots for the day (it was illegal to throw out your windows…but only if you got caught) and the unfortunate drunks were unable to (often) get out of the way – resulting in them, quite literally, getting “shit faced.”

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Just the three of us.