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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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! 

Through the Lens: Austrian Alps

One of the most beautiful places I have been to. Wow. This is one of those places that makes you feel small and empowered all at the same time. I can see why it’s a popular place to visit in the winter for skiing. I absolutely love it in the summer as it’s not too hot and so, so green and vivid. The town is darling with wood houses that have overflowing flowers gardens and/or window boxes. Bonus: as plans stand right now, I’ll be heading back this summer!

Image 7-25-16 at 3.14 PM Continue reading “Through the Lens: Austrian Alps”

A Week at a Time | 1/6/17

When life gets crazy or exciting or overwhelming or things change, I write. It’s always been this way for me. And so as an extension of this, I am going to have a weekly, “here’s a little bit of life”, post. From working in college ministry to life as a part time nanny. Date nights and soccer games on the weekends. Reading and drinking coffee and squeezing in a run. Just taking a moment to look back at what the week has brought me before plunging into that all so wonderful weekend!


Happy new year everyone! I spent this week on a work trip with the college ministry to Atlanta to attend the Passion Conference at the Georgia Dome. With three days worth of conference, I had a few ups and downs, but overall, it brought some time of reflection and a bit of clarity, and that’s always a good thing! Continue reading “A Week at a Time | 1/6/17”

Looking Back on 2016

Re-cap posts are my favorite! I love looking back before plunging forward. Taking it all in and savoring it in a grand fashion, sifting out the lessons the past has for us as we take our next steps forward. And while I sometimes think my re-cap looks a little sad, I remember that’s not the point. And as I take the time to re-cap, the year grows. So here we go! Continue reading “Looking Back on 2016”