10 Things I Learned From 10 Cities in 2017

In 2014, I made my first New Years Resolution – to travel to five cities I’ve never visited before, and to fly solo on at least one of these trips. Since 2014, I’ve visited over 35 new cities and 10 countries, with more than a handful of these being solo adventures. There’s something about traveling that makes me feel like I’m not just living— but that I am truly alive. I’ve pushed further beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone than I could have ever imagined, which has given me a sense of confidence that has trickled down to every aspect of my life.

Each year, I reflect on my trips and the pearls of wisdom they have brought me. This has become my favorite post to write, for it forces me to mull over the moments that have been marinating in my mind as the months have gone by.

  1. Savannah, GA. | I’m my Mother’s Daughter

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This year I realized that I am one bob haircut away from turning into my mother. We’re two ENFJ’s in a pod, who have walked through fire to live a life of sunshine. Savannah was the first time my mom and I traveled together— no Tammy, no Grammy, just us. On the first weekend of January, my sister attends a theater conference in Upstate New York. My mom and I seized this window of opportunity to do something we’ve never done before: go on an adventure. The combination of a short flight, open containers, and River Street made Savannah the perfect destination.

My Mom has not been bitten by the travel bug as I have, however, we have both been plagued with a different beast: anxiety. Sharing my love of travel with my Mom goes so much further than showing her some of my favorite destinations. I am deeply indebted to travel for allowing me to realize that I can tame my own anxious mind. Our weekend in Savannah was spent going with the flow of what River Street had to offer. Not everything in life needs a plan— which sounds blasphemous when you’re as type A as we are. We didn’t have an itinerary telling us to take syringe jello shots at the dueling piano bar… those things just happen.

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2. Boston, MA. | Embrace change

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I don’t feel completely ready to say goodbye to 2017. My baby sister is a senior in high school, and will be going off to Emerson College in the fall. I’m not completely sure how that’s even possible, because I feel like I graduated high school 20 minutes ago. Going away to college is the experience that transitions you into adulthood. It’s the years that you’ll build relationships that will bring you into your next phase of life.

We visited Boston this summer, and it was such an obvious fit for my sister’s college experience. This trip allowed me to face reality. The truth is that I’ll never be ready to let my sister go (ammi right parents?!), but I have faith in Boston, and the happiness this city will bring my sister. 

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3. Montréal, QC  | Fly solo (and do some pull ups)

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Sometimes you gotta go, where nobody knows your name. ☝🏻🎶 Montréal is my first Canadian adventure, eh, and certainly did not lack in poutine, friendliness, and maple syrup. Once you travel by yourself, it becomes something that you crave. I love to immerse myself in a new location, and flying solo forces you to dive in differently. One of my favorite things to do is take classes at different gyms, so I can learn from different trainers, and trainees wherever I am! On this trip, I visited Studio Epix for their HIIT morning workout. This was the first class that pushed me to try pull ups… and life has never been the same.

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4. Austin, TX | Be Genuinely Curious

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A professor once told me that the key to being a good listener is in being genuinely curious. That was a tip that has always stuck with me, and has been brought to life during my time in Austin. This year on my solo adventures, I grew quite fond of hostel life. During my time at the Firehouse Hostel, I went on daily adventures with interesting others, traveling from as far as Australia. It wasn’t hard to be genuinely curious about the paths that my new traveling posse have taken, that led us to the same place, at the same time. It makes me think of all the people we cross paths with on a daily basis, that we may be inspired by if it were for just a little bit of curiosity. We’re not cats, after all…

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5. Pilanesberg, South Africa | Life extends beyond ourselves

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This year I took the trip of my dreams, and went on safari in South Africa. Being smack dab in the middle of the animal kingdom was a consistent reminder that the universe does not revolve around us. We humans get caught up in our own lives, and don’t often sit and ponder about the lioness that is hunting to feed her cubs. This trip was a refreshing culture shock, that allowed me to disconnect from the human world. Albert Einstein once said, look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albie, you weren’t kidding buddy.

[Read more: Lessons learned on an African Safari]

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6. Cape Town, South Africa | Don’t talk about it, be about it.

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Many of our dreams are reserved for laters and tomorrows. I prefer to-do lists to bucket lists, because as much as I’m a dreamer, I’m also a doer. South Africa was a destination that I always considered a “someday” trip. One of those majestic places that I’ll visit “one day.” Until my best friend said- I’m going, you coming?

We should all dream big, but don’t be afraid to jump up and make things happen. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have travel buddies with travel dreams similar to your own! This trip will hold a special place in my heart, with each moment affirming my love for planet Earth.

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7. Atlanta, GA | You can always count on Waffle House

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This year, two of my trips were rooted in the nuptial love of my college friends. In September, my prom date, his girlfriend and I traveled as sister wives to Atlanta, where we celebrated the wedding of my cat’s namesake, (human) Jordan. Did we lose you, yet?

There a couple of things in life you can depend on. You can depend on the New Yorkers to be the loudest ones in the room.  You can depend on your best friends to travel as far as it takes to watch you walk down the aisle. You can depend on your road trip buddies to keep you belly laughing the whole drive. You can depend on Turbulence by Steve Aoki and Laidback Luke to get you pumped up. And, most importantly, you can depend on Waffle House to make sure you will fall asleep with a full belly.

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8. New Orleans, LA| Don’t jump in the Mississippi

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New Orleans was the scene for another nuptial adventure, that was fueled by Hurricanes and sleep deprivation. But oh, I’m sorry… I thought we were here to party.

This trip wins the award for most fun had in 2017. It has been four years since my friends and I graduated college, so this celebration also served as an epic reunion. There is nothing quite like a New Orleans hotel doubling as your old dorm. Our strong bonds was made stronger with the topsy turvy times that Bourbon Street introduced us to. If you look deep down to the bottom of the Mississippi, you may find some memories that were meant to be forgotten. But, take it from the itchy skin of my friends… you may not want to take that plunge.

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9. Miami, FL | If they don’t tell you how much, it’s probably $300

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South Beach has officially made its way to the top of the leaderboard on my list of cities visited. This year, I visited on my own in February, and as a birthday celebration for one of my best friends in November. We are a crew who would not snub our noses to the likes of a happy hour, and are a group of gals who don’t back down from a challenge.

On one South Beach Saturday night… we got got. If the hot waiter looks too good to be true, he probably is trying to sell you something. Heed our advice and ask how much, and how big, one Coronita is before ordering four of them. But, my friends, if you do order four of them… you don’t stop until the last one is empty. Remember, your body can do this, don’t let your mind stop you!

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10. Denver, CO |  Get high

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I get by with a little help from my friends, and I get high with a little help from my friends. Denver was one of the last cities I visited this year. It was one of those Google Flights cheap rate induced decisions that I’ll never regret. The Rocky Mountains were calling my name, and I was like, u up?

We visited Estes Park on the last day the road to highest peak of the mountains was open for the season. In less than an hour, we were in a completely different climate. There was a ridiculous sense of tranquility that came with the altitude. I felt like an astronaut that was exploring a totally different planet (ok, maybe that was the edibles talking).

My faith is something that I often struggle with, but I always seem to find answers in nature. This year, I have been coping with the reality of the progression of time. My sister is growing up and going off to college. My grandparents are aging and have been ailing. We’re born, we grow up, we do some things between A to Z, and then life ends. Depressing way to end such an uplifting blog, huh?

Sometimes I feel stupidly optimistic, clinging to silver linings. But, my mindset so often comes from considering darkness, forcing me to exude light. I believe that the role I play in this world is dictated by my ability to be present, be appreciative, and be mindful. Sometimes it takes standing at the highest peak of a mountain to remember that you’re braver than you think. Take this time as we begin the new year to really reflect on the world and your place in it. Try to give more than you take, feel as much as you think, and smile at as many humans as you cross paths with.

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10 Lessons Learned from 10 Cities: 2016

10 Lessons Learned from 10 Cities: 2015

“Blocked.” Does Avoidance Solve the Problem? 

Being a millennial in the technological world of 2015 is a blessing and a curse. 

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We’re connected in a way like never before, where we can express our thoughts and feelings instantaneously. The anxiety of picking up the phone, dialing someone’s number and hoping they pick up is long behind us…

So, we got rid of that anxiety, and replaced it with a new one. Today, we are scoping out Instagram maps and tagged photos. We’re watching who ‘likes’ what, and freak out when Snapchat no longer tells us who’s best friends. Is technology the problem, or are we?

Considering social media is something that is being created by us, I’m going to say that we are the problem. But, on the bright side, there is a solution. One solution many people turn to: “block this user.” From a psychological standpoint, avoidance is basically coping by not having to cope. You’re pretending the problem disappeared *poof* into thin air. The feelings of discomfort are gone, and you are free to sink back into your comfort zone.

Of course, there are some situations where blocking a person is necessary. Perhaps they are someone you genuinely do not want to find you, due to possible violent or traumatic outcomes.

Some people “block” out of maturity, because they do not agree with the thoughts a person has, and would rather ignore them than give into the temptation of engaging in a fight.

Then there are others, who “block” because they are being told to. They’re faced with an ultimatum from a significant other, where they have to prove themselves by “blocking” someone else from their life.

To the one that wants the blockage:

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You remember on Friends when Ross was marrying Emily and she told him he couldn’t be friends with Rachel anymore? You’re Emily.

First of all, before getting into a relationship with someone else, you have to be 100% secure with yourself. Know what you’re worth and be proud. Be confident in yourself, so you can be confident in your relationship. A major tenant of any relationship is trust. By telling the person you supposedly love that they can’t talk to someone— what you’re actually saying, loud and clear, is “I don’t trust you.”

Maybe you have a reason not to trust this person. Maybe this person can’t have a platonic relationship with the person you want blocked. In that case, maybe you shouldn’t be in a relationship with them. It sounds like your future is a lifetime of mistrust, checked phones, and trying to dig for a deeper connection that doesn’t actually exist.

Or maybe these reasons are all in your head. Maybe you’re creating situations that cause you to be skeptical due to experiences you’ve had in the past. Maybe you’re not giving your significant other the benefit of the doubt.

In either case, have some more respect for yourself. Don’t think that simply “blocking” someone is going to erase your problem— because your problem lies within: security with yourself, and with your relationship.

To the block-er:

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Toughen up you weakling! A lot of people choose appeasement over dealing with their problems, because it seems like the easier option. Instead, all it does is dig yourself into a hole of deeper problems. You’re creating a standard with your significant other that they’re allowed to tell you what to do. A relationship requires sacrifice— it’s a give and take. It’s not a dictatorship.

Maybe your bae hit the nail on the head. “Block this person, you still have feelings for them.” Maybe they’re right, and maybe you’re too afraid to confront those feelings. Maybe if you didn’t block that person, you would suffer other repercussions, like having to sleep on the couch, or getting your iPad smashed.

Maybe they are completely wrong! Maybe you are putting a genuine friendship at risk, just to ease someone’s nonsensical, worrying mind. Sometimes its easier just to say yes, rather than put effort into explaining that they have nothing to worry about.

In either case scenario, you’re doing two things:

  1. Respecting the person that doesn’t trust you.
  2. Disrespecting the person on the sidelines.

To the block-ee:

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Knowing you are blocked by an old friend, former love interest, or even just some random Joe Shmo is a blow to the ego. I’m currently in this situation, on two very different sides of the spectrum (if you couldn’t already tell from the course of this post)…

The first one stemmed from a mutual attempt for a mature post-hook up-friendship (those could get messy, especially when feelings are involved). The second was from a long time friend, who feels more like a family member to me. In both instances, the “blocked” notifications hurt.

One of my favorite pearls of wisdom from the book “The Four Agreements” is: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…” -Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements 

To everyone reading:

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Maybe I’ve been watching too much “Are You The One” lately, or maybe its situations I’m currently being faced with, but I truly believe that when you are with your “Perfect Match”, you will be able to trust them.

Take a step back and look at your relationship for what it is. If you truly appreciate the person you’re with, and feel in your heart that they are doing the right thing for you; then let them follow whoever the hell they want on Instagram. If you feel that just one simple glance at a tweet is going to jeopardize your relationship, then maybe you’re better off single.

If you’re being told what to do this early in your relationship and would rather appease than succumb to threats, then do some research on abusive relationships. If you are giving into appeasement because you genuinely care for someone, have a mature, civilized discussion with them about the person they are feeling threatened by, and tell them they have nothing to worry about. But only if you mean it.

Stay true to yourself, realize what you are worth, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Sometimes this means having hard conversations, sometimes it’s walking away from something that no longer suits you, and sometimes it’s writing a blog post to call attention to the issue. You’re given one life… live it out of compassion and trust, not out of jealously and fear.

An Ode to Agua

As I sit here sipping on a bottle of Poland Spring, I’d like to stop & shed some light on this most basic thing.

While most of us would rather sip some wine, or a beer; I have learned to never neglect a liquid much more clear.

Hydrogen & Oxygen came together for our sake, Flowing through our bodies like an ocean or a lake.

A basic human need, without it we would die. If you’re feeling like a wrung out sponge, this most likely is why.

Picture a pizza without dough, a burrito with no rice; This is your body lacking water, so please heed to this advice:

Next time you’re on a bender, don’t forget your H2O, Because dehydration is no joke, to the hospital you will go!

How to Go Out By Yourself & Have Fun

It doesn’t take a solo dolo trip to force you to do things on your own. Maybe there’s a bar that you really want to check out. Maybe your friends are being lame. Maybe you just want to try something new. Here are my top 3 tips on how to go out alone and have the time of your life: 

Dress up

Go out and feel dapper as hell. There is no such thing as too far. Actually, I take that back. You don’t want to walk in and be “that guy” or “that girl.” You do want to be the one who walks in that makes everyone go, “damn, who is that?” Taking some time to primp, whether you are a guy or a girl, will give you the boost of confidence that you need. 

Liquid Courage

Know your limits!! Drink enough, but not too much. This is so important. No one wants to talk to the sloppy drunk. However, with a little bit of vodka as your wing man— go dance, chat, people watch, and be merry! 

Smile

Remember, the goal of all of this is to have fun. Smile! People don’t want to talk to the person who looks miserable. Go out and have a great time, and you will attract people that are doing the same thing. 

I challenge you to go out and do something alone this weekend… and enjoy it! Cheers!