365 days

A new chapter began 365 days ago. Or that’s what I was told, at least.

Graduation. A farewell to friends. A goodbye instead of a see you later. The real world. A new chapter.

It’s been 365 days since my new chapter began, and I have learned a thing or two. 365 days, or 52 weeks, going on 53. I could make a list of a lesson-a-week, but you’d close your browser now, so I’ll spare you.

But I will list a few notable lessons I have learned in this past year. I so envy those who recently closed their last chapter of undergrad, but I promise the real world isn’t nearly as great as they told you.. I mean bad. Not nearly as bad…

The list:

  1. Be punctual. I mean it. Be on time. Early. Punctual. The real world doesn’t take attendance, but I promise punctuality means a heck of a lot more than an absence. (Plus, there’s no extra credit a week before Christmas.)
  2. Take notes. Nope, I’m not kidding, either. Those notebooks will still come in handy after graduation. Don’t burn them all just yet, but you can rip out the pages filled with chemistry formulas or scattered doodles. Notes in the real world mean you don’t have to ask the same questions to your manager/ coworker ten times over. Trust me, they appreciate when you learn the ropes the first (maybe second) time.
  3. Lunch. Simple as that, lunch. This hour break, give or take a few, will be your saving grace. Take a walk, get some fresh air, breathe. Lunchtime is a great time to get to know your coworkers, stretch your legs, and to simply forget about the real world..while you’re in the real world.
  4. Stay connected. And no, I don’t mean don’t delete facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest…. yada yada. I mean stay connected with your friends, your relatives, and everyone in between and outside. There will be no better feeling than knowing that, 365 days later, you are still snapchat-streaking with your teammate or old roomie. It’s a lifesaver and can make any transition to the real world much easier than you’d think.
  5. Workout. I may be bias, but a workout in the morning before work can make or break my day. Eight hours sitting in a rolly chair staring at a screen may seem magical, but an hour workout in the morning will change my attitude and outlook on the day. Just try it 🙂
  6. Don’t complain. Did you ever like that classmate that complained about arriving at their 11:15am class when you had been on campus since 8am (0r 6am in my case)? Well then, don’t complain about your overload of emails or your coworker now. Everyone has their own situation, their own personal mess, but yours does not top the next cubicle over, 99.9% of the time. And, if it does, I assure you no one wants to hear about it.
  7. Travel. It may be tough the first year, but even travel an hour away on a random Sunday. Getting your mind off the area in which you work or away from your nagging problems/troubles can be a game changer. And, hey, a late Friday-night plane flight through Sunday evening never hurts either if you can make that work.
  8. Stay grounded. “Chase your dreams, but know the road that leads you home again.” Even when you’ve taken on a new role or moved to a new city or job, your home, your faith, your foundation will still be there at the end of the day. Even though I’m still new to the whole “real world” thing, I’ve already seen my fair share of friends/ acquaintances who have, simply put, lost it. Money, time off, a night out, etc, will not make you happy. Your family, your faith, your relationships, those are what will make you happy. Money cannot buy you happiness; it may buy you your first “big kid” purchase, but monetary value has never been used to determine happiness, to this day.
  9. Branch out. If anyone had told me I would meet new people through a random guy hitting on one of my best friends at a Dave Matthews concert, I would have told you you were all things crazy. But that, in fact, did happen. And through that random connection, I have met a great group of friends that enjoy everything from beach volleyball and pool days to planning yacht trips overseas with complete strangers. Now, I didn’t say you’d have everything in common… but I do know that if I had not blindly met this group of people, I would never have had half of the memories I have now.
  10. And, Pray. No matter whether it’s about ending your work day 30 minutes earlier or about making a choice regarding your future. Pray for success, but pray for wisdom and clarity. Pray daily, hourly, whenever it’s necessary. Prayer will lead you through those first 365 days, and the next 1,000,000 (give or take.) No issue is too small or too large to be included in a prayer. God works in crazy, mysterious, and all-around awesome ways.

So, I pray that you take this list, even if you only take away a thing or two out of ten. I pray that my experiences can help someone just starting out in this real world, big kid thing. It’s real, it’s fun, but it’s not always real fun. But, it’s a new chapter that I wouldn’t take back in hindsight because I’ve established and even re-established relationships that will never be matched. I’ve made memories and learned a few things that can never be taught in the classroom.

So, with that, I’m onto the new chapter, the next 365 days of memories, experiences, workouts, trips, lunch-breaks… you get it!

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Ports of Air

A familiar face. Or a complete stranger. A warm embrace. And, sometimes, the toughest goodbye.

Ports of Air. Or, airports.

Delays can be the biggest blessings, or the largest nuisance. An extra 20 minutes together or twiddling thumbs until takeoff.

Airports can represent happiness and rekindling or separation and sorrow.

How can the same location, same meeting area have so many mixed emotions, all at once?

Soldiers, families, first encounters, weddings, funerals, vacations. This one building is the centerpiece of millions of individuals, going about their daily lives, feeling any and all emotions, in one, common location.

Airports.

The excitement of a toddler taking his first flight, or a couple, sharing their last embrace before parting to their separate ends of the country. Until they meet again.

How sweet and somber, at the same time. But, who would think about anyone else’s feelings when all you can visualize are your own adventures, or your own sorrows?

Of all the modes of transportation, the ability to fly can be the biggest blessing, or the bane of inventions. Money wasted or money saved. A world adventure or a 45-minute business endeavor.

The possibilities repeat themselves in cycles every single day, but never in the same order. Where else can all these emotions pile up into one area and somehow, day after day, repeat itself?

Ports of air. Or airports. Happy travels & happy reunions.

The Power of Some Z’s

Z. For zebra. The letter you’d prefer not to grab in scrabble. The final stumping point of any car game you’ve ever played on road trips.

But what about when you put three Z’s together? ZZZ. Sleep. Naps. Rest. Happiness.

I’d like to think that if the entire world took a 30 minute nap right around lunchtime everyday that we would all be much happier. The power of a nap, or some Z’s is brilliant.

It can rejuvenate you after a horrible night’s sleep. It can calm you during a stressful day. It can cure any remnants from that last drink before leaving the bar that probably would have been better left un-purchased.

Nonetheless, Z’s are powerful. And who knew you actually burned calories while catching some Z’s? I didn’t, but thanks to Nike and friends with a fit band, now I do.

For all those times I whined about nap time in elementary school because I wanted 15 minutes of extra recess, I now retreat them all. Maybe I wouldn’t need as much sleep now if I had taken advantage of those naps over a decade ago.

So, for any three year old reading this, take your naps. And if for some reason my audience isn’t a crowd of toddlers, tell your toddler friends about the wonder of naps.

And on that note, I will now intend to be productive because I, too, just woke from a quality hour-long nap.

Happy reading & happy snoozing.

Why No Resolution is Better Than 10

December 31, 2014: and you’re frantically running around planning your finally New Year’s Eve plans. You finally solve every last problem until you realize you haven’t made any resolutions for the new year, which starts in 10 hours.

So the list begins. You’ll work out more, eat more kale and quinoa (whatever those are), clean more… The list goes on and on. But the resolutions won’t.

Imagine a time when a New Years resolution lasted longer than a week, let alone an entire year. But you have to make that list just in case someone asks if you have a list. So there.

But wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to not have a list and then decide in January or February, when you really need to change something, that you should resolve to change. But nope, that list of resolutions is set in stone (and probably in the trash somewhere.)

Unfortunately for us, the fad of making resolutions isn’t over, and we still think that we will start our diets the next year, even though we couldn’t even keep a gym membership longer than the free trial period last January.

Resolutions get us no where. But it would make much more sense if we scratched the whole resolution idea and made smaller goals throughout the year that we could actually keep. How about working out for the next 30 days or cutting carbs for the next three months. Little resolutions solve big problems. And big resolutions lead to even bigger failures.

Let’s keep in mind that those people who are working out and eating healthier probably didn’t resolve to do so on December 31 of last year. Thus, wouldn’t it make sense to evaluate our year during the year instead of at the end of the year. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer being proactive than reactive.

So, even though it’s January 6, and you may have gone to the gym every day for the past 6 days, let’s try to make smaller resolutions that are much more attainable this year. I hope this post finds you in good health and good company and even gives you a little food for thought (while you sit there eating your kale and quinoa.) Happy reading & happy resolving.

I’d Rather Have My 99 Problems Than 1 of Yours

Tis the season for thankfulness, celebrating, happiness, oh and can’t forget family drama. Everyone has their little quirks and small pet peeves, but the holidays seem to bring about the worst in everyone. From stressing about family trips to cooking the perfect meal, tensions may rise and personalities may clash.

Thus, it’s important to understand that the quote holds true:

“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back”

After spending time with other families during these holidays, I can certainly attest to believing in this quote 110%! No ifs, ands or buts. You never know what happens behind closed doors until you’re forced behind those doors and can see other people’s problems and faults. Don’t her me wrong, everyone has their faults (I certainly can name plenty of mine), but I would take my family’s problems and tiny arguments over those of other families.

It takes a while to sit back and stop wishing you were in another family with “no issues, ‘cool’ parents, and unlimited money,” but behind closed doors you begin to realize that there’s so many other issues that other families deal with than the ones that appear on the outside. As difficult as this may be to put into words, it’s incredibly important to understand.

You always tend to take out all your worries on those you love/ those who love because you know that, no matter what, they will always come back to your side. Nonetheless, I have learned, especially recently, that you should value and cherish those you love instead of using them as a doormat. Once you realize your issues are minuscule compared to what other families are going through, you begin to understand how fortunate you are to be living this life you have been given.

Happy reading & happy day ahead.

TIME: As Told by Your Phone, Computer, Tablet…..

As I sat in bed trying to figure out a way to fast-forward through finals week or even move back the time so I could have an extra day to study, I also had an ephiphany-like moment when I noticed that there was no form of clock or time-counting device anywhere in my room. Except for my Iphone and laptop, which was about an arms-length too far for me to reach unless I wanted to exert any amount of energy.

That’s when I finally realized I haven’t had a clock to look at since I was probably in middle school. I used to have the i-Home, but that’s been long gone ever since I outgrew my Ipod mini.. Thus, I came to the conclusion that I’m probably not alone in the fact that most people nowadays use their phones as a clock. I’ve even read that people use their phone to tell the time more than they use it to call, text, time-travel…..etc. Anyways, it just blew my mind that some minuscule device was my form of time; basically my life-line to the outside world.

What if Apple suddenly malfunctioned and wasn’t able to connect our phones to the sattelite (or however the time is able to appear on all cell phones). What if all technology stopped working for a day? Would I have to find an old-fashioned classroom with a wall clock? Or would we have to resort back to olden times of figuring out the hour based on the sun?

I can say for a fact that none of my college classrooms offer a wall-clock option (even thought some of them have a no cell phone policy..imagine that.) So, what are we supposed to do? Sit there until the lecture is actually over and wait patiently for the professor to tell us to pack up our things and leave? Nahhhh

It’s almost mind-blowing that our dependence on technology has resorted to also allowing our hand-held devices to dictate how we figure out the time of day. For those candy-crush’ers out there, I’m sure we’ve all changed the auto-time option in our phones to gain “full” lives again.. so what if that button froze up for a certain period of time? Would I be forced to live a day ahead because I blatantly changed the time for the purpose of trying to bring all the ingredients to the bottom? Craziness….

I’m as guilty as anyone that I use my phone for just about everything these days, including writing this blog post. But, this being said, I just can’t seem to fathom a world where we would be running around not knowing the time of day if our technology simply decided to stop functioning because of a defect or other incident.

But, for now, I’ll go back to manually changing the time when I play candy crush on long drives or airplane trips and just hope that Apple and all the other companies and products have their clock-systems figured out to a T. Happy reading & happy wall- clock searching.

The Phenom We Know as Selfie Nation

I know you would rather read my political and ethical opinions about the Ferguson situation since there’s not really any coverage on that topic at the moment……

But I’d rather write about a different topic… something like : SELFIES.

Because we all know it didn’t just take one second to snap that perfectly-angled, sun lit, overly- edited picture of yourself….. Come on now.

We have Instagram selfies, selfie Sundays, selfie Wednesdays, selfies with pets, profile pic worthy selfies, “no makeup” selfies (the worst of the worst), and snapchat selfies (guilty as charged but at least they’re gone “forever”).

So selfies that end up all over social media aren’t there just to gather up all those confidence boosters and awkward comments like “kik?” or “follow for follow?” Sure…. There’s no chance anyone would be posting these up close portraits if they weren’t simply to gather up likes and cutesy comments.

As the song goes… Let me take another selfie. If those likes per minute aren’t accumulating at a rapid pace, you probably chose the wrong filter on insta (just being honest though). So maybe next time it wouldn’t hurt to put a baby or puppy in the background because everyone loves babies and puppies right?

Oh and can’t forget the 10 people behind you who wanted to make an appearance on your social media so they can benefit from those likes too. Even though you can’t make out your face, a tag is a tag right? #popular

So even though this rant isn’t exactly going anywhere, and one blog won’t change the phenom of selfie nation, maybe reading the reactions that could go through someone else’s head while scrolling through your perfectly cropped, edited, and rotated selfies can make you think twice next time you consider snapping that quick “no makeup all natural look selfie with absolutely no effort.”

Except of course if you’re snapping a triple chin selfie or a pre- Thanksgiving, then you can go on with your day. Happy reading & happy snapping pics (any kind besides selfies…)

No Phone Storage Means Finding Old, Stored “Notes,” Like This!

I have been attempting to clean out my phone to create more space for those holiday pictures (in my case for pictures from my upcoming cruise in about 26 days but who’s counting…). But anyways, nonetheless, I stumbled across this note I wrote one night when I couldn’t sleep, and it couldn’t be any more true today. Especially with the Ferguson drama happening and all the tens of thousands of lawyers on my TL and Facebook homepage.. this post (along with a few additional sentences I added today) seems to hold true today and will for years to come..

I believe we are all so attached to our phones nowadays because those times spent using this 4×6 device are sometimes the closest we’ve ever felt to someone before. A heartfelt text, a spur of the moment FaceTime, even a lengthy voicemail describing how much you love or miss someone can make or break one’s day, let alone one’s week. Behind this glass screen, opportunities are endless. An Instagram like or Facebook comment have so much more meaning than a silly tap on a screen. Girls read into guy’s favorites as meaning they’re suddenly going to get married in the next month and a half and guys decide that any sort of social media interaction means she’s “dtf.” Society revolves around about 5-6 social media apps and probably won’t stop there. Behind closed doors used to be the phrase, but now we’re evolving into a society where the phrase will shortly be behind your glass screen. Once in person, even with phone in hand, relationships friendships even marriages change. People no longer feel comfortable communicating one on one or even in a big group. The influence of texting and social media not only affects teens but even politicians and businessmen day in and day out. Effort to type a text is more strenuous than the words that come out of one’s mouth on a daily basis. It’s becoming harder and harder to trust anyone because texts can have so many different meanings and no one feels comfortable explaining their feelings or thoughts after pressing the send button. Life before smart phones seems like centuries ago, when really it was only about a decade. Now, more than ever, people cannot even travel to the bathroom without their cell phone in hand. Even though I LOVE social media and my phone (guilty as charged), I recognize the importance of a good catch-up over coffee or family meal without my fancy gadget in hand. I have been making the effort to leave my phone in the car more often than not when headed to a meal or social event.. just some food for thought! 

Anyways, rant over.. even though it started almost a year ago (this note in my phone dates back to 1/15/14). Crazy how time flies. But I’m thrilled I now have a place to post this paragraph since it was taking up some extra space in my phone. Happy reading & Happy in-person socializing (hopefully)!

Day 2: Soreness or Success?

As with any crazy intense workout, the second day is always the toughest and most difficult (like walking, laughing, climbing stairs..) so, day 2 of blogging should be pretty similar right?

After my first post, now I should be scrambling for a direction to take or an angle to focus on. Well, lucky for me, my mind travels about 3737733 mph, so whether I’m thinking about my next tweet, Instagram caption, playlist name, etc.. I am always thinking. So, I knew exactly what my 2nd blog post should deal with from the moment I posted my 1st: FOOD.

I can’t exactly emphasize enough how my much I enjoy a good meal; in fact, as many athletes and college students know, our days basically revolve around when our next meal will be. Because it’s officially the holiday season (the Christmas music in stores tell me so), I know that we will all be home for a bit with our families over the holidays. And it wouldn’t be a holiday without mouthwatering food and secret recipes. Well, lucky for me, I love cooking and good food; in fact I cooked for my family last night. Although my “secret recipes” come straight from my “food” board on Pinterest, I’m still learning to add an extra thing or two to the recipes. Below you will find a few of my go-to recipes & a few recipes that I plan to make over this holiday season. Ps.. if you’re looking for fried chicken recipes or greasy, meaty recipes.. you may need to look elsewhere. Happy cooking & Happy browsing.

1. Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Chicken : made, loved, made again, loved again.

2. Healthy Chicken Salad : a go-to, quick meal for lunch, dinner, over a salad, a snack.. you name it.

3. Smothered Chicken : great, simple meal with few ingredients & freedom to add other ingredients as you please.

4. Cauliflower Crust Pizza : next on my list of recipes to try

5. Feta & Sun-Dried Tomato Salmon : can never go wrong with salmon..yum!

6. Cashew Chicken : I mean.. just think about it

7. Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce : self- explanatory…

8. Cookie Dough Pretzel Bites: a bit of a splurge but…. shhhh

9. Avocado Salad with Almonds & Balsamic : back on the health food track whew

10. Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oatmeal : had to stop somewhere..tis the season anyways..

I could go on for days, but hopefully this short list inspires some holiday cooking in your kitchen. So, back to the original question.. I would call this post a Success in my book (or kitchen). Enjoy!

Tis the Season for Thanksgiving

What better time to start blogging then around the holidays! As a college senior home for the week for Thanksgiving (1 thing I’m sure thankful for off the bat), I finally have some “down time” to sit back & reflect on the incredible semester I have had. Although it feels like time has been in fast forward since August, I would not trade a second of these past few months. From competing in my last Fall tennis season to meeting incredible new people (who have bonfire pits in their backyards), I am loving the last  year of my college career. Nonetheless, I recognize how fortunate I am to even have the opportunity to not only be a college student, but to have some of the amazing opportunities that I do. Below, you can find a list of a few things I’m thankful for this season, even though just about everything in my life at the moment is most definitely a blessing and/or a lesson. Enjoy!

1. Cities Without Seasons

This may seem odd, but I’m such a warm-weather chick. I love, love, LOVE all things beach, water, ocean, sand, warm, oh.. did I say beach? This holiday season, I will travel to Arizona for Thanksgiving, basically the desert of all deserts. Even though it may be the furthest things from a beach, AZ is known for their insanely hot weather, so you will surely find me tanning at my Grandfather’s pool on the days surrounding Thanksgiving. So, I am thankful for a family who travels to those cities without seasons.

2. Friends in Low (High, Near, Far) Places

Yes, I have been in Georgia my entire life (except that one time Freshman year I decided to venture to Kentucky for a year of college…). But that’s a story for another day (or blog post). I am thankful that I have those people I can call the best of friends in places from South Africa and Las Vegas to Chicago and the Carolinas, and even some places in between. Somehow, friends of mine seem to have the travel bug, and they decide to up and leave after we’ve finally bonded over our love for hummus, tennis, coffee, or any other random item you can imagine. Although it makes keeping in touch/ seeing each other much more difficult, I am forever thankful for those friendships that have endured the test of time and distance. Plus, it makes my life much more exciting when I can finally travel to their side of the world to visit them and live like them!

3. Health and Health Food

Ever since my father’s incredibly serious heart surgery (just about a year ago in January), I have never been more thankful for the one thing most people take for granted the most: health. From rushing home from Statesboro, GA to visit my father in intensive care in ATL, it finally dawned on me that health is something than can change in a split second. I am forever grateful for the doctors and nurses who treated my father back to health, and now we can spend this holiday season free of worry, pain and stress. In fact, with all the crazy events occurring throughout the country, and even internationally, I am thankful for my health along with the rest of my family and friends. I am fortunate that I can enjoy the holidays with those I love, but I know some are not as blessed at the moment. Prayers and Thoughts are with those who may be suffering through these holidays.

4. Opportunities

This may be a no-brainer, but, within the next year, my life is about to change quite drastically. I will (hopefully, fingers, toes, arms crossed) have a place of employment and potentially even my own apartment in a brand new city! I cannot be more thankful for those who have helped me to this point in my life (coaches, parents, friends, family, and even opponents or those who did not think I could succeed). I am thankful for each and every experience I have had these past 22 years, as they have led me to this point of my life where I am truly happy and blessed. I am involved in writing and sports opportunities that I never could have dreamed of having. I know that my experiences and current opportunities will pay off in the future. Who would have thought I could be thankful for things that haven’t even happened yet? But I actually am, this season especially, because I know that even greater opportunities lie ahead.

Happy Holidays & Happy Reading.