Are we crazy?

Maybe. But we have 4 consecutive days off and gifts like this don’t come often and my soul is craving the mountains. I need some elevation change. I need to be in the sun and stand alongside cliffs. Oh boy! We’re going to the mountains.

After taking a full time job, I have struggled with my identity. I always said, don’t be that person who doesn’t take your vacation days. Don’t be that person that let’s life pass you by. You don’t get bonus points for not using your time off. And even if you do, experiences far surpass the bonus.

But shouldn’t we be good employees and pleasant people, and doesn’t that mean being there when we’re needed?

They’ll make it.

Take the trip. Go on the adventure. Don’t wait for bonus points. Don’t wait. Go.

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Taking Care of YOU

Lately I’ve been trying to find ways, some that are creative, some that are more “normal” to make time for myself and do things that bring me joy. I think it’s so important to love others well, and I think taking time to take care of yourself is an important aspect of that we can forget. Time for yourself can seem selfish or even unproductive, but I would argue that it is really the opposite of both those things.

When we are really filled up and feeling like a whole person, we can be more present with those around us and not feeling like we’re keeping our head above water. Those people in our lives love us for who we are, and when we are exhausted and spent, we don’t get to offer that to those who love us most. There is nobody else like you, so don’t deprive people of that.

So here are a few things to rest and rejuvenate. There are some things that always, always work. But these are some other ways that just help with health, both physically and mentally.

Face Mask

I have noticed a difference when I take the time to be regular about face masks. I have a few that I enjoy, and also mix it up. I make it a goal to do a face mask at least three times a week, and this is typically on weekdays. Not only is it good for my skin, but it is relaxing and usually accompanied by sweat pants and a cup of hot tea in the evening. I like to keep a tube or two of my tried and true products on hand. Places like Target and Ulta make it easy to get a one time use facial mask packet when you want to try something different.

Exercise your mind

It’s important to take time here and again to do something for your mind, in your own time, that isn’t scrolling through an app on a phone. For me, this usually looks like reading. But it can also be working a few sudoku’s, writing (Whether for myself or thinking of people to send notes to), or tackling a repair or organizing project at the house. Find out what works for you and your mind, and set some time aside this week to workout your brain.

Healthy intake

I can tell a big difference when I am intentional about what goes in my body and when I’m not. Meal planning and, as much as I hate it, grocery shopping help make this happen. It is so easy to get busy and to need convenience. But that doesn’t mean I have to eat fast food. Taking time to plan and prep healthy meals makes for better days and a healthier, happier me.

Unplug

Do Not Disturb, or even Off are settings that exist on our smartphones, and it’s a great idea to use those from time to time. Unplugging for a few hours is really rejuvenating. No screens, no electronics. Take it a step further and make it a no electricity time! Put out a few candles if it’s later in the day, or open those windows up on a nice morning and let the sun pour in.

Solitude

Stepping away from people is good no matter what kind of person you are. Really getting to know yourself and letting your mind think on it’s own is a healthy, self aware practice. Being intentional about scheduling meetings with yourself can help with clarity and decision making.

Morning routine

Real life is just that. It is there and it is coming for us. So rather than rumbling about it, let’s make the most of it. The biggest way I do this is with a morning routine. I know what time I need to be up in the morning to have a thought out morning that includes time to not only get ready for work, but also to enjoy my coffee, have some quiet time, and play with my pup before heading out the door. Starting my day this way helps me feel like I am in charge of my life, not just an office drone wishing for the weekend.

Spontaneity

Routine makes us appreciate spontaneity, and visa verse. So every once in a while, go without a plan. Spend the week night out, go away for the weekend, and for sure don’t let those vacation days go to waste, do something with the time that is given you. Near or far, live the life you have been given and run wild every so often!

Time with those who mean the most

Days, weeks, years, decades can slip by before you know it. Don’t miss time with the people you love! Whether it’s the people who live in the same house as you, or your favorites in other states and countries. Being intentional about just being with those people who love you is just plain good for everyone.

 

Anything to add? What do you do to unwind, and take better care of yourself? What is one thing that always helps you be a better you? 

If there is anything you want links to products I use specifically, feel free to comment on this post or message me directly. This is not a sponsored post.

Present //

In searching and wresting with what this blog is, what I want this slice of internet to be, I know I want it to be mine. And something that is so important to me,  is being present where I am.

It is so easy to compare, to look forward, to be eager. And those are not bad things, in the right place. But man, it is so important to be looking for the good in where you are right now. To be looking for the beauty in each moment we are given. When you truly, really start doing (or trying to do) that, it can change your life.

As seasons change, be aware. The only constant in life is change. So the seasons will keep rolling by. Leaves bud, grow, wither, and fall. And just as sure as the leaves will continue as they have for all time, so our lives will see change.

Ultimately, I want to have peace with where I am, where I am going, and where I’ve been. I believe when all three of those things come together and we can let them be what they are, there can be peace. Because coming to that place requires that you forgive, process, wrestle, and rest.

I enjoy this little slice of the world wide web. Thank you for being here. Thank you for giving it some of your time. Here’s to where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.

Vicksburg National Military Park

One of my very favorite stops in Mississippi. My first time through here was on a road-trip with my old roommates. It was a great way to mix up the drive with some walking, running, stair climbing, and windows-down-with-the-sun-pouring-in cruising in the middle of summer! This visit however, was totally different.


On our way back from Florida in December, just days before Christmas, we took a much needed break from driving and stopped in Vicksburg. It was less green and much, much colder than the last time I came through. But the visit was just as refreshing and welcoming as it had been before, just in a different way.


We arrived just about an hour and a half before closing time, so we knew it would just be a quicker drive through the park and we would have to be a bit more picky about which stops we would take.

What I love about this park, is that it is almost inexhaustible. There are so many plaques with dates and names and events, from both the Union and Confederate advances. You could wander the park for an entire day and still not read everything.


I also love how vast and hilly it is. Both times I’ve been I have seen multiple people out on their run. And what a fantastic place to do it! Such lovely views and a great workout for incline training.


I enjoyed coming back to a place I have visited before and bringing someone to see it for the first time. Even though, about halfway through our visit my travel companion was pretty sure he had actually been there before, long ago, with family! It was fun to remember my time there before and the people that were a part of it and the season of life that came with it. It was so beneficial to ponder just how much has changed in the past (almost) 4 years since I was last there. A great time to compare and contrast and see growth and process change in ways I had not necessarily thought about. Ways I may not have thought about had I not re-visited this place.
Do you enjoy visiting places again? Have you been to Vicksburg? What was your favorite part of your visit? 

How To: Pack for Summer Weekends Away

Happy first day of summer!! I wanted to share my go to packing essentials for summer travel. I am an avid believer in the carry-on suitcase/backpack. I am also an avid believer in not dressing like a tourist. So, when I pack, I follow two simple guidelines.

  1. Be able to mix every piece I pack and
  2. Wear things more than once

Packing List:

Shorts (I like to go for one staple denim short, because those will go with everything! But I also throw in something with some color that still goes with most or all of the tops I’m bringing.)

Jeans (I like to bring my comfiest pair that are just a little bit darker of a wash so I can dress it up if need be.)

2 tanks (For wearing in the heat, over a bathing suit, or under a cardigan/chambray for a little layering.)

1 light sweater/chambray (I have a light and loose, neutral sweater I got two years ago before my trip to Spain. It is the perfect extra layer in the summer! I also really love bringing my ultra soft chambray because it works as another shirt as well as another layer.)

2 shoes (I like to have one open toe and one closed toe option. I also make sure both are comfortable and tried and true for lot’s of walking.)

1 dress (This tends to be a preference thing. I like it because, not only is it an entire outfit in one piece of clothing, it is also so much cooler and also easy to dress up with some jewelry and that sweater or chambray. I have a few that I love for various reasons, but 100% cotton and a solid color is my usual go to.)

Jewelry (This is one of the easiest ways to mix up your look and also pull together an outfit while taking up hardly any space in that carry-on! I have a few pieces that I almost always wear (rings, studs, watch). But some statement earrings and necklace or two really go a long way for changing it up and making an outfit feel and look fresh.

Bathing Suit (Even if I’m not planning to need it, I throw it in. It’s one of those things that takes little to no space and when you need it, it’s a bummer not to have it. And for the summer, the odds are definitely higher that you will be using it. And bonus, it frees you up to go for it when the adventure opportunity arises! No excuses. No regrets.)

Cross Body Bag (I love, love, love my Fossil cross-body (and Fossil in general)! It has gone with me overseas every time and cross country many times. It fits everything I need for the whole day, with many zippered pockets and the canvas and leather strap is comfortable without compromising style. I always opt for a bag that zips completely closed to keep my things secure in the bustle at the airport, while it’s stored under the seat, and for an added discouragement for pic-pocketing. This bag is similar to what I use and f you’re interested, it’s even on sale right now! I also love this one for something a little bigger with versatile straps that still fully zips.)

Light/natural Make-Up (I keep it simple and light. That being said, I typically bring one pallet that I can use during the day, but also has something to mix it up if I need for a night out. If I plan to be outside or doing a lot of walking on my trip, I don’t like stuffy make-up face. Most important: moisturizer+SPF for my face!)

SPF (Always protect your skin!  Like I mentioned before, I bring a moisturizer+SPF for my face as well as something for my arms and legs.)

1 active set of clothes (I always bring a set of active clothes because, especially in the summer, even if I don’t have plans for something particularly active, I typically end up needing it anyway. But also, because active-wear is my go to comfort outfit for summer. That’s my “sweats” that I throw on when I get back to the hotel in the evening with my takeout. Sometimes, this can double as sleepwear too (just not after wearing it for that active day!)

What’s always in your suitcase on summer weekends away? 

Things to Know Before Group Travel

After spending a week at a beach house in Florida with some friends, I can say, I have a couple of take always that I think could be really helpful for any of you that are considering doing the same thing or something similar this summer (or anytime). Just a few things to think about of before heading out on adventures with other humans.

While I am coming from the position of traveling with a group of friends, I think these points can apply to any environment where you are going to be spending an extended period of time with groups of people (family vacations/reunions, couples trips, girls getaway, etc.).

Be flexible. // Remember that everyone is different, simple as that. Be willing to compromise on things for the good and enjoyment of the entire group. Also, depending on how well you know the group yo’re traveling with, it may be a good idea to mention this in your pre-travel conversation so that everyone is prepared and willing to have this mindset.

Know your musts. // Think through the things that, if you don’t do them, you will wish you had when you get home. Whether that’s stopping in at a local coffee shop, having a meal at a specific restaurant, or visiting a shop, make sure you make that a priority. If your goal is to sit back and have no agenda and really unplug, make sure you make that happen and enjoy your agenda-free time to the fullest.

Plan to do things on your own. // I find it is incredibly helpful to plan to do a thing or two on my own when I travel with groups. You experience things so uniquely on your own, and it gives you something to talk about with your travel companions that night at dinner. It can get boring to do everything together and when you find you have nothing to talk about because you are all doing the same things. Even if it’s waking up before everyone else and going for a walk or run or heading to that local coffee shop, it can really help to have that time to yourself to re-center and enjoy the peace of vacation.

Be a team player. // This goes right along with be flexible. But it’s worth mentioning. When you travel in a group, the trip is not just yours. If you want to do only what you want to do, then go on a solo trip. So, unless you want to be the person that grates on everyone’s nerves, be willing to work with everyone else and consider the overall enjoyment of the group as well as your own.

Travel separately. // I have found that meeting up is a lot more fun than traveling together with the group. Obviously, this isn’t always or can’t always be the case. But I find that it is so much less stressful to drive or fly or train myself to the place than trying to coordinate with everyone else. Also, it means when I meet up with the group, we are at location and ready to start the festivities! If you are traveling with the group, make sure you talk about dividing up travel cost (like fuel if you’re driving) and scheduling ahead of time.

Book ahead of time. // If you are planning a trip to a museum or any place that requires admission, it’s a good idea to check ahead of time when it comes to getting tickets. Often you can save a bit purchasing tickets online. And if you have a big enough group, you may be able to get a discounted rate.

Talk about your expectations BEFORE the trip. // This was something that I have found to be extremely helpful and prevents a lot of potential discord down the road. So while it may be last in this list, I believe it is the most important. It can be easy to think that everyone has the same idea of what a perfect vacation is, but more often than not, that just isn’t the case. Even when they may be very similar, there are typically still few deviations. Talk with everyone ahead of time about the outings and activities you all want to do. Talk about the things you want to do with other people and the things you would rather do on your own. Also, you know you’re going to need to eat, so find out if there are any places people want to try or what your grocery list needs to look like, how are you splitting meals, etc.

Any group travel plans in your future? I would love to hear your your do’s and don’t’s of group travel below! 

 

 

Packing for a Week at the Beach

I am leaving for the beach in just a few days! So I figured I would round up my packing list and share with you what’s going in my bag!

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For this trip I will be driving to Destin, Florida to spend the week at the beach with some friends. I will not be using my regular, go to carry on suitcase this trip. Instead, I am using my favorite Adidas duffel bag (really similar to this one, and bonus: still carry-on size) that I really love, but don’t normally fly with. Honestly, it may be my soccer background, but I really prefer traveling with a duffel bag when I can. I still love the rollers for trekking accrues the airport! Since we are driving, I have a little more flexibility, which can be both good and bad. I am still keeping it to a “carry-on” and a backpack (minus things like a beach chair and a blender… keep reading!). Honestly, this is pretty easy to do for beach trips because I typically just live in a bathing suit and/or comfy clothes.

What’s in my bag:
  • bathing suits
  • beach/bathing suite cover up
  • workout clothes & running shoes (Going for runs on the beach is one of my all time favorite things.)
  • sweats (After swimming, I am always a bit chilly. Coming back from the beach or the pool and putting on sweats after a shower is pure bliss)
  • a couple t-shirts and/or tanks
  • denim cut offs
  • summer dress
  • flip flops
  • sandals
  • sleepwear
  • long sleeve t-shirt/layer (Something warm and snugly for the evenings.)

Non-clothing must haves for the beach:
  • sunscreen
  • natural aloe vera (I prefer this over any after sun lotion or drugstore aloe vera product. Whether you burn or not, it’s really good to put this on after any extended time in the sun for maintaining soft, hydrated, healthy skin.)
  • beach chair (If I have the luxury {like when I’m driving} I prefer to buy a beach chair BEFORE getting to the beach. I can get something that is much better quality for a much better price than what I typically find at the beach stores.)
  • beach towel
  • beach bag
  • blender (If you are driving and have the luxury, this is really nice to have for whipping up plenty of frozen drinks to enjoy on the beach/porch/pool. Check ahead of time to see if your beach rental has the already.)
  • Kindle
  • waterproof cases or bags for electronics
  • sunglasses
  • SPF lip balm
  • baseball cap/beach hat
  • ENO (Even if I’m flying, this typically gets a spot in my bag. It is so lightweight and compact and is a real game changer when it comes to relaxing!)

 

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I have not linked any of the specific items that I use. But if you are interested in finding out more about any clothes or product I talked about or maybe something in a photo, feel free to comment on this post or send me a message! I would love to give you more details.

What are your must haves for the beach? Anything I missed? I leave soon, so now’s the time to let me know! 

Minimalist Challenge : The Recap

Thirty days later and I own a lot less stuff then I did a month ago.


Stand firm and walk free. 


When I talked about what I expected, I mentioned that I wanted this mindset to bleed over to my wedding planning as well. I have seen how the last month I have been more confident with decisions we make and honestly, I wish I had been this way from the start. I am learning a lot about planning a wedding, and making decisions and it is really eye-opening. You start to see what’s actually important to you and the people who really care about you. It’s a really beautiful thing, but it can be a really hard thing as well. Having a minimalist mindset toward wedding planning means I am focusing on what the two of us want rather than what other people want. I am making decisions according to what we want for the day and the weekend.

I also made a point to organize everything that stayed in my life. Every area that I evaluated each day, has been minimized and organized.


Top Day: Decorations in my home

Honestly, this day is my favorite because it was a breakthrough. I didn’t realize how I was just comfortable in what I had around me, but it was no longer things that I enjoyed. It was so freeing to get rid of so, so much of what has been in my home the last 2 years and clean the slate so to speak. Seriously, it is pretty bare right now, and I could not be happier about it!


Least Favorite Day: Shoes

I said this in the shoe post, but I still don’t feel like I completed this day. I was not able to get rid of as much as I thought I would and I still have so many shoes! Even though I got rid of almost every pair of winter boots I owned (because I just didn’t really like any of them anymore/they were worn out), I still think I could have done better. And it is a little disheartening because I have actually bought shoes since then, and I know I will need to replace those boots for the Fall (maybe not all of them, but I quality pair of leather boots is on the to buy list).


Overall, I think the biggest way my thinking towards minimalism has changed is that it is a bit more difficult than I expected in that, it was sometimes hard to stay on track with my list. But as it goes for making it a lifestyle, it’s not actually that hard. If you want it, you can do it. If you don’t truly want it, it will be hard because you are warring against yourself as part of you wants to simplify your life and part of you wants things. I believe you have to commit, and figure out what you want. Doing that before you start helps SO much. Defining what success looks like at the first step helps the other to clarify the next steps of the journey.

Thank you to every one of you who followed along and joined it! I hope it’s been a great month for you also! 

 

Minimalist Challenge : Day 30

 

  1. Bathroom drawers and cabinets
  2. Books
  3. Decorations in my home
  4. Mugs
  5. Dresser drawers
  6. Craft supplies
  7. Meditate for 20 minutes
  8. Pantry
  9. Refrigerator
  10. Movies
  11. Pet supplies
  12. Shoes
  13. Storage space
  14. Meditate for 20 minutes
  15. Voicemail
  16. Jewelry
  17. Papers/files
  18. Bedside table
  19. Car
  20. Computer documents
  21. Holiday decorations
  22. Medicine cabinet
  23. Bags/purses
  24. Linens
  25. Journal for 20 minutes, uninterrupted
  26. Closet
  27. Be outside for 1 hour
  28. Email (clear inbox and block spam emails)
  29. Set up bill payments
  30. Office supplies

I have an incredible amount of pens and notebooks and notes and little page tabs and so much more that is scattered between about 4 different places in my house. If you’re like me, you enjoy a good pen. This also tends to mean that you have a bunch of pens and use the one or two that really write well. So, instead of keeping them for some unknown reason. I’ve gone through and got rid of so many! Also, organizing and just keeping what I need in the office supply department. A few sticky notes, some notebook paper, etc.

For those of you who have been reading since day one, you know I love a new, empty notebook. But I have a collection that I have had for a while now that are untouched. So I have really asked myself if I need these taking up space, if I am going to use them. So a few are headed out the door, and even though I love a good notebook, it feels even better to have a more free space and to know I only own things I truly enjoy.

LAST DAY of the the 30 Day Challenge. We made it y’all! Stay tuned for a wrap up post of the whole challenge and see if I feel the same about minimal living as I did when I started this a month ago!