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I am a passionate person. It’s my best quality and extends to all areas of my life. It’s what makes me kind, reflective and enthusiastic. It’s the reason I work hard at everything I do.

I am passionate about people. I love meeting them, talking to them and being social in general. It’s why I love to travel, and it’s why I love my job. Working in social media is all about experiencing life and sharing it with people.

When something happens in the world, I search social to see what people are saying. When something bad happens, I go to social to grieve with others. When it’s something happy, I go to feel joy with a community of other people.

Working in social media is rewarding. I can connect with people, help them learn about current events, answer their questions and point them toward information they’re looking for. I live to help people and make a difference in the world, and I can achieve both through social media.

Thanks for visiting my website. Feel free to check out my work samples or read some of my blog posts!

I had the most wonderful time in Chicago this summer. I’ve known I was meant to live in a large city, and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to do so this summer.

Leaving Chicago... but I'll be back!

Leaving Chicago… but I’ll be back!

Even more exciting, I got asked to stay. At the end of this month, I’ll be moving on from Nebraska. A fresh start in a big city is precisely what I need at this time of my life.

I came to Nebraska five and a half years ago. I moved for a relationship that didn’t work out, but I stayed. It’s not so bad in Lincoln, Neb. Plus, I had state residency, so school was cheaper. I broke my three-year hiatus and started taking classes.

I figured out what I wanted out of my life. I learned to love myself. I found out how to say no to people and things that were bad for me. I made and lost friends. These last years in Nebraska have been the hardest I’ve ever had to live through.

I struggled to support a partner who was depressed. I learned how to make my minimum wages stretch. I went months without money for food. I dealt with loneliness and poor health.

And I don’t regret any of it. I made poor decisions, and I lived with the consequences. I’ve stopped believing in life mistakes. Learning the hard way teaches you to appreciate the small things in life. And it makes you strong. So strong. I wouldn’t have the courage or guts to take risks if I hadn’t gone through those awful years of my life. Going through it made me the person I am today.

I lived a block from the Nebraska State Capitol.

I lived a block from the Nebraska State Capitol.

And it wasn’t all bad. I made some friends who have encouraged and supported me. I met a wonderful man who helped me through some rough patches. I made a new family that I love so much.

Part of me is sad to leave. It’s bittersweet to leave my best friend of three and a half years. It’s sad to leave a college I like so much. It’s heartbreaking to leave the coworkers, baristas, friends, classmates and teachers that have brightened my time in Nebraska.

I can’t say that I want to stay, but I can tell you that if it weren’t for the wonderful people I’ve known here, my life would have been so empty.

I’m excited to start anew on my own, but I won’t forget the amazing people who helped me along the way.

A lot of people see traveling as an easy life. A permanent vacation. They think you’re not really living your life. You’re procrastinating, running from responsibility. You’re carefree. It’s not true.

An Orthodox Church in Vladmir, Russia.

An Orthodox Church in Vladmir, Russia.

I’m not saying that living a wandering life isn’t wonderful, rewarding or exciting. But I am stating that it’s not all 5-star resorts or running off into the sunset. Sacrifices must be made.

You have to make difficult decisions about spending money. You can’t own anything that will weigh you down. It can strain relationships. It can be stressful, difficult and worst of all, lonely.

But when you’re a traveler, it’s not a choice. It’s who you are. No place really feels like home, so you travel to be happy. The whole world becomes your home. You wander to feel fulfilled, to learn new things, to taste adventure. It’s how you embrace and contribute to the world. But oh, can it be lonely.

With all the moving around, it’s difficult to keep in contact with the people you love. Long-distance relationships are hard. Technology, like Skype, FaceTime and social media, can help, but it’s not the same.

I can’t just pop over to my best friend’s house when she had a bad day. I probably won’t be there when my nephews go to prom. Odds are I won’t watch my niece graduate. If any emergencies happen, the closest I’ll ever be is a plane ride.

My sister Tessa and I at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo in 2005.

My sister Tessa and I at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in 2005.

I struggle with this. But I’ve realized that the only way I’m going to be truly happy is if I make these sacrifices. If I choose to be lonely. I recently ended things with someone I care about.

This person has been the most encouraging, selfless, supportive person I’ve ever known. We helped each other through difficult times in our lives. We made each other better people. We loved each other. And now it’s over. And it hurts.

I’m writing about it for a few reasons. First, writing helps me sort out my feelings. When I have nothing else, I have the ability to make sense of life with words.

I also want to immortalize in words what we had because it was special. We came into each other’s lives when we both needed someone. He helped me realize how strong and smart I am. He saw my huge dreams and told me that if anyone could accomplish such feats, I could. When I doubted myself, he would remind me of how wrong I was to do so. And I helped him be adventurous. I forced him out of his comfort zone. I encouraged him to take risks, try new things and go to school.

Lastly, I’m writing this for you readers. If you’re a traveler and you feel lonely, know that you’re not alone. Don’t feel guilty about whatever sacrifices you’ve made. Don’t feel bad if you can’t be there for every birthday or anniversary. Take comfort your life. You’re being true to yourself. You’re living your dreams: to be happy, to experience this amazing world.

That’s all I want, but making dreams come true can be painful. I sacrificed this relationship for myself. Granted, it was absolutely mutual, but a large portion was me needing to roam and him needing to grow roots. Some people think it’s selfish, but what kind of life would we have otherwise? If we had stayed in that relationship, we would’ve ended up resenting each other. He doesn’t want to live far away from his family, and I understand that. But I can’t stay where I am. If I stayed, I’d suffocate. If he left, he’d feel empty. We both deserve better than that. Our relationship deserves better.

Writing always helps me feel better.

Writing always helps me feel better.

So, for now, I’m alone. A little lonely, yes, but I know it’s for the best. I’m being true to myself. I have spent so many years trying to figure out who I am, what to do with my life and what I want. Now that I finally know, I have no choice. I can’t punish and put myself through that again. I can’t not be myself. I finally love myself. I’ve finally found what I love doing. I’m not letting that go.

And you shouldn’t either. If you’re truly a wandering soul, don’t try to be anything else. Maybe someday you’ll settle down, but if you don’t, that’s all right too. Make friends where you go. Contribute to whatever society you’re in. And show people that you love them. Even if you can’t be there in person, make sure that the people in your life know how much you love them. That you miss them.

Because even though you may feel lonely at times, there’s no better feeling than fulfillment. If you’re true to yourself, you’ll find that. You’ll be happy. That’s all you can ask for.

 

As cliché as it sounds, this song captures my feelings perfectly.

This summer marks Wrigley Field's 100-year anniversary!

I’ve been in Chicago for a little more than a week, but today felt like the most
Chicago-ey one yet.

This first week, I was trying to get into a routine: find my way to work, get my job done, come home. I didn’t really explore much; I left it for my weekend, which ended today.

Shortly after awaking, my boyfriend and I went for coffee. We visited a library and a used book store in Little Italy/University Village, where I live. For lunch, we stopped at a small, Italian hot dog restaurant. It seemed like a family business with a mother and her adult children working.

My neighborhood is seriously beautiful!

My neighborhood is seriously beautiful!

It was so loud in there! The Italian workers were yelling at each other from across the room in thick Chicago accents.

“He lohcked his keeeys in tha cahr!”

“Oh, muy gahd. He lohcked his keeeys in tha cahr?”

The lady in the back answered the phone, “Whatya want? I’m buisy!”

We ordered Ben a hot dog, and as we sat down, he said, “I feel like we’re in a movie!”

They were really friendly, and apparently the hot dog was delicious! I’ve heard that it’s a sin to put ketchup on a Chicago hot dog, so Ben didn’t. He ate it the way it came: with mustard, onions and relish.

Alcohol at Starbucks!

Alcohol at Starbucks!

Later, we went downtown to meet a fellow intern, and we walked down Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile. We stopped at a Starbucks that served alcohol and decided to try out the wine. (Hint: SUPER delicious).

By that time, we needed to head to Wrigley Field. Ben and I got tickets to the Cubs/Yankees game. And let me tell you, the Cubs are a big deal! It was so busy, two trains to passed us by before we could squeeze on the third!

So many people went to the game, and it was a good time. It rained for almost half the game, but we were under the awning, thankfully! It was particularly special to Ben, who grew up watching Cubs games with his family.

After the game, they covered the infield.

After the game, they covered the infield.

During the seventh inning stretch, we sang “Take me out to the ballgame,” and when the Cubs actually won, the crowd sang another song:

“Go, Cubs, go! Hey, Chicago, what’d ya say? ‘The Cubs are gonna win today!'”

After the Cubs game, we got soaked with rain! It was a wet ride home!

After the Cubs game, we got soaked with rain! It was a wet ride home!

I’m not a big sports fan, but it’s always fun to watch people enjoying themselves. It’s also Wrigley Field’s 100-year anniversary this summer. It’s crazy to think that I was sitting in a field built in 1914.

I felt like today was a classic Chicago experience. It was fun to see so many aspects of the city I’ll be spending the summer in. It’s a much larger city than I’m used to, but I feel right at home. The people are friendly, and it’s quite easy to get around. I know the next few months will be filled with plenty of adventures, and I can’t wait to fill you all in!

Until next time, happy travels!

 

I turn 27 today!

Fall 2010

Me during autumn 2010

I’m so grateful to be spending my birthday week doing so many amazing things: Relaxing, traveling and witnessing my friends’ wedding. I am also spending my birthday in New York City, my favorite city in the world!

Life is long, wonderful, painful and beautiful. Through all the ups and downs, all the good and bad, we learn. We figure out how to appreciate the tender and simple moments of life while flexing our strength and endurance when the hard times show up.

So here’s a list. All the lessons I’ve learned so far (in no particular order).

1.  Cats are the best animals.

My love of cats started early. Here's my 6-year-old self holding as many cats as possible!

My love of cats started early. Here’s my 6-year-old self holding as many cats as possible!

2. Realize that mistakes made you who you are. Don’t live with regrets! Learn and move on.

3. Go outside! Nature is refreshing. Climb a tree. Sleep under the stars. Take a walk.

4. It’s OK to be a little selfish. Take the time to focus on yourself. Everyone needs that.

5. It’s OK to cut people out of your life if they’re toxic to you. Don’t let anyone treat you poorly and disrespectfully. You deserve better.

6. Focus on the moment. It’ll make your life happier and simpler.

7. Let yourself be happy. Don’t let guilt or perfection get in the way.

8. Take steps to conquer your fears.

Who doesn't love chocolate-covered strawberries?

Who doesn’t love chocolate-covered strawberries?

9. Be kind to yourself.

10. Don’t let others make you feel bad about yourself. Better yet, don’t worry about what others think. If you do, you let them control your life.

11. Work on yourself. Try to improve and become the best version of yourself.

12. Explore! Even your hometown can be exciting. You never know what you’ll find.

13. Be kind to people. You don’t know what they’re going through. Have compassion no matter what (yes, even if it goes against your political beliefs).

14. Dance. Sing. And don’t be ashamed about it.

15. Take care of yourself. This is the only body you get! Eat well. Exercise. Take care of your mental state.

16. Work your imagination. Life is more exciting this way! Never be ashamed of daydreaming.

My sister, Tessa, and I during Christmas 2007.

My sister, Tessa, and I during Christmas 2007.

17. Spend time by yourself. It helps you learn and grow as a person.

18. Be strong. Persevere. Don’t let failure and bad circumstances hold you back. Keep going!

19. Take time to observe life.

20. Take chances. Don’t be afraid of risks!

21. Have fun! What’s the point if you don’t enjoy life?

22. Realize that the world can be horrible sometimes. See it, and get to work. Have the hope and strength to fight and make the world a better place. Refuse to be apathetic and complacent.

23. Dream big and fight for your dreams! Too many people give them up. It takes persistence and hard work, but you’ll be happier and more fulfilled if you do. You never know what you can accomplish unless you try! Remember, no regrets!

Ben and I when we first started dating in 2011.

Ben and I when we first started dating in 2011.

24. Love without abandon. It’s all we have in life. Never shy away from telling those you loving passionately and telling others how you feel.

25. Get some culture! Figure out why we use phrases that we do. See an Oscar-winning movie. Read a classic book. Go to an art museum.

26. Go on an adventure. It’ll make your life richer.

27. Travel! Not only will you learn more about the world, cultures and people, you’ll learn about yourself.

St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow

St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow

 

Thanks for reading! I know I’m too young to have a wealth of wisdom, but I’ve learned a little. I hope you can share in that with me!

Until next time, happy travels!

For Travel Tip Tuesday, here’s the second post for my Traveling on a Budget series.

Every little bit helps!

Every little bit helps!

Money is essential to travel, and here are some ways to earn a quick buck before your big trip!

Some of these ideas don’t seem like much, but it you save the your dollars, it’ll add up.

Sell things.

I cannot stress this enough!!!

In our materialistic world, we all own things and lots of them. Go through your closet. Consign clothing. Have a rummage sale. Sell stuff on Craigslist or Amazon.

For one of my trips to New York, my partner and I sold DVDs, TV shows and books on Amazon. We came up with almost $400 for our trip!

I promise that you own things you don’t use. Instead of letting it collect dust or throwing it away, sell it! It’s the easiest and fastest way to make money. 

I’ve always been sentimental, so it is difficult for me to get rid of things. However, I’ve been working on it recently. Throughout the last four years, I’ve decreased my possessions by half. HALF. And you know what? I don’t miss anything I sold. 

Sell your body

Well, not like that!

It is easy (and not too painful) to donate plasma, though! You can make about $100 in two visits.

Medical studies are another route. Ben has done some relatively easy ones and made thousands of dollars. It’s how he paid for his new tattoo!

Work hard

Every one likes free time, but if you can sacrifice it now for spare time on a trip later, it’s totally worth it.

Don’t say no to an extra shift at work, and pick up overtime if you can!

Make things

Hand-crafted items are so trendy. Create things and sell them on Etsy, Craigslist, a local fair or rummage sale! Check Pinterest for really great ideas.

Find odd jobs

It may seem daunting at first, but there are tons of random jobs out there!

  • Babysit
  • Rake leaves
  • Clean someone’s house (I’ve done this before!)
  • Mow lawns
  • To find odd jobs around town, check Craigslist

Making extra money may seem difficult or impossible, but you just have to look for it. I promise, all the hard work will pay off when you’re making memories on your vacation!

Until next time, happy travels!

Money. Blech. Am I right?

Unfortunately, it’s a necessity. It causes lots of anxiety and doubt for people wanting to travel. Because of this, traveling on a budget is one of the top inquires I’ve had.

I know it seems impossible, but almost anyone can travel. Yes! It’s true! I don’t make much money at all, but I still travel because of my priorities and lifestyle choices. Many people just write traveling off because they don’t have spare cash flowing into their bank accounts. Here’s a secret: Most people don’t! Traveling takes planning and sacrifice. I promise, it’s doable.

To write this post, I looked through about 20 different webpages and other resources! I hope these tips will encourage you to start saving. Traveling really isn’t as expensive as you’d think!

The first step is to make a goal. Set a time and destination, and start saving your pennies. It’ll help you focus when you’re not feeling like cooking supper or when that new album you’ve been wanting finally drops.

Food.

Do some grocery shopping and cook at home. It saves big time!

Do some grocery shopping and cook at home. It saves big time!

• Stop eating out. It’s so much cheaper to cook and eat at home. It may be extra work, but it’s way cheaper in the long run.

• Don’t buy water. It’s such a waste! Why buy something you can get for free? Get a water filter, and drink tap water.

• Limit costly beverages. I know those lattes are delicious, but it’s so much more economical to make them at home. Or drink plain coffee. It’s a quarter of the price! Pop (or soda or soda-pop or coke) is just added sugar. I know it’s delicious, but it’s unnecessary and spendy, especially at restaurants!

• Buy local and make instead of buying processed food. Cut back on meat; eat more rice and beans. You’ll get your protein at a very reduced cost!

• Buy in bulk (especially spices!). It can be so much cheaper, and you can get exactly how much you need. Plus, you can use your own containers instead of paying for all the packaging.

• Plan ahead so that you can use coupons, shop sales and compare prices between stores.

Transportation.

• Vehicles are expensive with gas, insurance, maintenance, etc. I know they can be a necessary evil, especially here in the Midwest where public transportation is usually poor or nonexistent. Instead, use your car less. Also, check your tire pressure on a regular basis. It’ll help you get better mileage. And don’t forget to change your oil!

Biking is a great way to save money, get around and get in shape!

Biking is a great way to save money, get around and get in shape!

• Save all your errands for one day of the week or stick to shops within the same area. In other words, don’t drive to the other side of town for one thing! Save the gas. If you can’t get that item elsewhere, at least wait until you need other things from the same area of town.

• Walk or bike. It’s free!

• Public transportation. Lots of cities have deals for low income people and students. See if your town does! Public transportation is so much cheaper than owning a car.

Entertainment.

This one can hurt, but stop going out (unless it’s super cheap).

Hang out with friends at home! Throw a BYOB party. It'll save you money!

Hang out with friends at home! Throw a BYOB party. It’ll save you money!

• Have friends over to play games or watch a movie. Drink at home; it’s unbelievably cheaper than bars.

• Use whatever discounts you have available, whether it’s for students, veterans/military or seniors! Check local attractions for discount days and have a fun outing for cheap! A local theater has student night once a month, and we can see a movie and eat popcorn for $1 each. That’s pretty amazing!

• Find free things to do in your town. Walk in a park. Visit an observatory and go star gazing. Find out what museums are free and go! You’d be amazed at how many free things there are to do.

• Cancel your cable television. I know, I love me some TV too. With all the streaming options now, there’s no reason to keep cable. HuluPlus costs about $8/month, and almost any show you’d want to see is there. Current shows are updated the next day.

• Don’t go to the movies. If you don’t have a streaming option, borrow from the library. If you don’t have a library card, GET ONE. Public libraries not only carry books but also magazines, movies, TV shows, CDs and learn-a-language audio. Often, libraries have fun events too. Check it out!

• Similarly, don’t buy music. Pandora, Storify, Songza (and yes, the radio!) can keep you jamming without making you pay. And no concerts either! I know they’re fun, but they do cost quite a bit of money. Just keep focusing on your goal!

Shopping.

• Don’t go shopping. Just don’t do it! I always end up buying things I don’t need, especially at Target. Make a list in advance of things you need, then don’t deviate while shopping! If you need help, bring someone with who will keep you on track.

• Buy used. It’s really not as scary as it sounds, I promise! Places like Goodwill have great deals on all sorts of household items, furniture, books, movies, CDs, clothing and accessories. Also check out consignment stores in your area. They’re usually full of great deals.

• Check out places like the Freecycle Network™. According to its website, Freecycle has 6,921,483 members around the world. The website says “It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people).” And don’t worry about cost; membership is free.

Utilities and bills.

• Do your best to not use heat and air conditioning. Throw on a sweater if you’re cold! Go pants-less if you’re hot!

• Weatherproof your house or apartment. Get thick curtains that block out heat and cold.

Cell phone plans are so expensive! See if there's a way to cut back and save money.

Cell phone plans are so expensive! See if there’s a way to cut back and save money.

• Unplug your electronic devices when they’re not in use. They’ll suck out electricity even if they’re turned off.

• Get energy efficient light bulbs. They really do use significantly less energy and are well worth the investment.

• I’d also recommend getting an energy audit. It can show you how much energy your household uses and where you can become more efficient.

• Cell phone bills can hurt. See if you can downgrade your plan. Most carriers have your personal information online, you just need to sign in. Check the amount of data, minutes and texts you use every month. You’d be surprised at how much extra you could be paying! Downgrade if at all possible. Another helpful hint is hooking up to wifi wherever you go. It can really cut down on the amount of data you use.

• If you’re willing to go hardcore, cancel your internet. I know it sounds scary, but most of us have it on our cell phones, and it’s available for free at public libraries and schools, if you’re a student. It sounds intimidating, but it’s really not that bad. I lived without it for years.

Make things.

I make greeting cards and sell them for a little extra money.

I make greeting cards and sell them for a little extra money.

• I have a friend that makes all of her household products: cleaning products, laundry detergent, butter, broth… anything! She’s incredibly resourceful, and I really look up to her for that! Recently, she made more than two years’ worth of laundry detergent for $5. Talk about savings! She’ll have a guest post with examples on here soon!

• Also, think homemade for presents. Check Pinterest for ideas. I promise you can make something fun and cute for pretty cheap. If you’re not crafty, bake goodies. Or write them a poem or short story. Or hand-make a card! Gifts from the heart mean more anyway, right?

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

• Be resourceful! Use local resources like public libraries. Instead of purchasing, borrow from your friends!

• Save containers. Glass jars and plastic containers can easily be used to store food, plants and household items. If you’re feeling crafty, there are all kinds of ways to make them cute! Again, just check Pinterest for ideas!

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Reduce, reuse, recycle

• Reuse gift bags, wrapping paper, food and clothes. Use plastic shopping bags instead of buying trash bags. Have a sock with a hole? Use it as a rag to clean your house! So many items can be re-purposed. You just have to be a little creative!

 

Remember: money adds up quickly. Cutting back your expenses even $30 a month is a savings of $360/year. That’s the price of a domestic plane ticket!

I know cutting back can seem overwhelming, but it’s worth it! Just keep your goal in mind, and don’t give up! I promise it’s easier than you think.

Until next time, happy travels!

For Future Fridays, I will tell you all of my travel dreams.

Today, I’ll share with you special cities that  I want to visit. I plan to travel all over the world, but these are seven particular cities that I have interest in.

London. 

Image courtesy of Vichaya-Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

London at night

For the last decade, London has been my favorite city in the world (even though I’ve never been there). I’ve loved English history for as long as I can remember. Kings and queens, wars, castles, Big Ben, the Globe, Buckingham Palace, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes… all intrigue me. Even the geography and climate, which not everyone loves, are my favorite. Green grass, trees and rain? I live for that!

London is full of history, but it’s also a modern city. It’s becoming quite diverse and populated. Diversity is one of the reasons that the United States is so great, and it’s happening over in London too. That’s quite exciting. I’m not blind to its faults, but even wonderful places have issues to work out.

 

Paris.

The Lovre

The Lovre

Paris. Who doesn’t want to at least visit Paris? It’s the city of romance and love, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and of course, BAKED GOODS. Though I can’t eat croissants or baguettes anymore (gluten!), I can still smell them!

Like most of Europe, Paris also has a rich history. I’d love to visit all the typical touristy places but also go deeper into Paris where the locals are. I want to be inspired by Montmartre, where numerous artists lived and worked. I want to sip on a latte and watch Parisians walk by. Maybe write some terrible poetry. It’s the city of love. Why not?

 

Edinburgh.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Like England, Scotland has long held a special place in my heart. I’m pretty sure I have Scottish ancestry, and you can definitely tell by the red in my hair and fire in my spirit. The people of Scotland are tough, fiery, perseverant and friendly, and I pride myself on those characteristics.

Scotland not only has wonderful people, but the land is absolutely gorgeous. Edinburgh captures both the people and the beauty of Scotland’s green pastures and hills. Plus, an intimidating castle and old architecture!

 

View on St. Isaak Cathedral from Moika River

View on St. Isaak Cathedral from Moyka River

St. Petersburg.

I love Russia. So much. I’ve heard that St. Petersburg is breath taking and very European. St. Petersburg has undergone so much pain, yet its beauty and strength remains in its architecture and people.

The buildings and river almost give the city an Italian feel, but it’s history and people are classic Russian. Russians seem strong and sullen, but underneath their stoicism is such a warmth and kindness. If you ever get a chance to go to Russia, it’s a must. I can’t wait to go back.

 

Amsterdam.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Netherlands! What a wonderful place. It seems like such a modern city, but beautiful, old architecture still stands. Amsterdam was a hiding place for some Jews during World War II, most famously, Anne Frank. I’ve heard her museum is haunting and heart breaking and of course, a must see.

Amsterdam also has beautiful canals, bridges and parks. Lots of parks. Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) is the largest one, about three times the size of Central Park. Amsterdam just gives me a friendly vibe, like I could be instant friends with whomever I meet there.

 

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires.

I once heard that Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is the Paris of South America. And from the looks of it, I’d have to agree. The city is shockingly modern with large skyscrapers, but it also has the classic South American colored buildings. Argentina has beautiful beaches and lots of fun, cultural events like dancing and music. Buenos Aires just seems like the best of both vintage and modern worlds.

 

Budapest.

Budapest

Budapest

This one takes me by surprise, even though it’s on MY list! Budapest is the capital of Hungary, an Eastern European country with a historical mixture of many cultures. It was taken over by the Romans, influenced by the Italian Renaissance, conquered by the Turks and partly destroyed in World War II. Still, much of its beauty remains, and it’s considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, even the world.

 

Thanks for joining me in my travel dreams! Someday, when I visit these wonderful cities, I’ll tell you all about it!

Until next time, happy travels!

Downtown Omaha

When most people think of traveling, they picture sandy beaches, skyscrapers and mountains. They think of far off places.

Fun traveling doesn’t have to be thousands of miles away. Sometimes, it can happen right in your own backyard!

My original plan was to celebrate the new year in Kansas City. It’s a bigger city than where I live, so I thought it would be exciting.

It didn’t work out, though, especially since I was trying to keep it cheap.

I ended up driving about an hour away to Omaha, Neb. My partner and I explored a new restaurant and bar and rang in the new year at our favorite hotel.

Omaha is a decent city here in the Midwest. It’s big (for Midwestern standards), and plenty of fun opportunities are available.

The Element in Midtown Crossing, Omaha

The Element in Midtown Crossing, Omaha

First, we checked into our hotel, the Element in Midtown Crossing.

It’s a little more than we’d normally pay for a hotel (about $115), but it’s always worth it. Our first trip as a couple was to a wedding in Omaha, and the Element was our hotel. New Year’s was our third stay. Not only is it sentimental, but the staff are always friendly and it’s very environmentally conscious!

Our hotel room!

Our hotel room

The Element is located pretty close to downtown Omaha and has free shuttles. It’s also nestled in Midtown Crossing, which is a nice area full of shops, restaurants and a movie theater.

Since this was New Year’s Eve, the hotel provided free drinks and appetizers that evening, as well as a shuttle to view the firework show.

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The perfect glass to drink from after watching Walter Mitty!

Being the cheapskates we are, Ben and I took advantage of the free food and drink, and then used discounted tickets to see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (which we loved because it’s all about taking risks and living your dreams).

We tried out Dudley’s Pizza & Tavern, a new restaurant in the Aksarben Village. They were pretty brand new (they didn’t even have their liquor license yet!), but the pizza was pretty good. They even had a gluten-free crust!

Next, we went to Brothers Lounge, a place I’d heard good things about. This bar was definitely eccentric. It looked like a British pub, played death metal and showed Singing in the Rain on their TV. Prices were very good. It’s the most affordable bar I’ve ever been to (And the Moscow Mules were delicious!).

Crescent Moon

Our last outing of the night was the Crescent Moon Alehouse. This was not our first time there, but it’s a favorite of ours. Apparently, they’ve recently been named one of the top 100 bars in the States! Plus, they gave us free champagne and party accessories!

It was here that we discussed our goals and desires for the new year. We wrote our resolution lists on paper that I’d stolen from the hotel room. We drank, blew kazoos, donned party hats and kissed at midnight.

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Initially, I was disappointed that the Kansas City trip was a bust, but we always have so much fun in Omaha. Sometimes I get really intense about traveling out of Lincoln because I need a change of pace. This proved that I didn’t have to travel far for a good time.

If you’re like me and aren’t entirely happy where you’re living, you just need to be creative! Find fun things to do that are close by. Explore your town. Try a new restaurant. Drive an hour away and see what’s there!

Contentment with where I am is a constant struggle for me. Maybe by finding interesting things to do where I live, it’ll help!

Until next time, happy travels!

fireworks

New Year’s is my favorite holiday.

Ben and I celebrating the new year in Omaha

Ben and I celebrating the new year in Omaha

Well, it’s tied with Christmas anyway.

I always love celebrating the new. The fresh starts. They bring excitement, adventure and the unknown.

Growing up, my parents hosted an annual party filled with snack-laden tables and night-long card games. Like most children, I begged to stay up until midnight. I wanted to experience the change. To see the clock turn, watch the ball drop in Times Square, hear Auld Lang Syne play.

As an adult, I feel the same warmth and hope that accompanies new beginnings.

Along with fresh starts come new goals and aspirations. Resolutions, if you will. During this time of year, people get engaged, start working out, vow to eat healthier, be kinder, forgive more.

I LOVE this. I love witnessing people’s efforts to become better versions of themselves. The world needs people who strive to be better. Giving up is the only problem, and studies show that New Year’s resolutions last longer than goals made at any other time of year. Part of the reason is the perception of community. People are more likely to stick with something if they don’t feel alone.

And it’s easier than ever to follow through. All you need is some accountability.

So find a workout partner. Join a book club. Enroll in cooking classes. Seek out support groups. Take a class. Use the internet! Make a Facebook group. It’s easy; you just have to take the time. If you really want change, you’ll make it happen.

In the spirit of bettering ourselves, I made a list. I always make a list. Instead of a list last year, I made more of a themed resolution: Detox. Last year was the year to eat cleaner, live more simply and cut out hurtful relationships. It was successful, thanks to the love and support of those close to me.

This year, I’m back to lists. Here are my seven goals for 2014:

- Be healthy! I don’t workout near as often as I should, and I’m still struggling with digestive issues caused by years of unknowingly eating food my body couldn’t handle.

- Live in the moment! I daydream about the future often. In moderation, this isn’t bad, but I do it so much that I become discontent with my real life. I need to focus on the beauty of the world right in front of me.

- Work my butt off! I have one year left of school, and it’s going to be a busy one. I also have work and a few internships sprinkled throughout. The only way to make it through 2014 will be to work. HARD.

- Take advantage of opportunities and risks! Like most people, taking risks can be scary. I always question decisions, hesitant to settle on just one of many possibilities. This year, I need to be less indecisive and just jump!

- Be flexible and spontaneous! When I was younger, I was good at this. Not so much anymore.

- Connect with and show love to others! I want to become a better granddaughter, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, partner and person. This means more phone calls, visits and volunteer hours.

- Be open, honest, upfront! I dislike confrontation and causing others pain. Because of this, I tend to skirt around issues and ignore problems. In the end, that tends to cause more pain.

Now you know! My seven resolutions/goals/intents. I hope they inspire you to achieve what you’ve set out to do! Let me know if you need accountability. I’d love to help!

Until next time, happy travels!

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