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Week 5 Gratitude Challenge

November 22, 2015

Consistency is something that I suck at. I have long accepted this fact and now I'm trying to work on improving my consistency when sticking to this. I have fallen off on the gratitude challenge but its never too late to get back on track. I feel that I have done a good job of focusing on the things I'm grateful for offline, now I just need to keep it up on the blog. At this point in my life it can be easy to switch into complain mode and focus on what is currently missing in my world, so I thought this challenge would keep me on my toes in staying grateful.

This week's prompt is something someone gave you. At first I was stumped on how to begin this prompt and then it came to me. My parents. I am quite blessed to have parents that have given me more than I can ever repay them. They worked hard to give my sister and I a good childhood and start in life. They instilled a hard work ethic in me that I have carried over into my adult life. My parents didn't come from money and always taught us that if you wanted nice things you had to work hard to earn them. I am thankful that I was raised with those values. As Thanksgiving is coming in a few days I am grateful for all the big and small things they have given me in my life.

A coffee date

November 16, 2015

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you how while I love the smell of coffee I rarely drink it. If it’s cold I’m drinking a hot cocoa or in warmer weather I’ll sip on a frappuccino.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you how in September I took a break from the job search to regroup. I had started back in March and gone on more than a handful of interviews with no job offer. It has been frustrating and discouraging to say the least. I haven’t had this hard of a time looking for employment since I graduated college back in 2004. To be honest it has done a number on my self-esteem, but I am taking time to really think about what I want job wise. This week I submitted an application for an educational leadership fellowship that I am very excited about. I should know in a month if I make it to the next round.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you about how DC is starting to feel like home. It’s funny to say but it feels different living in the city versus the surrounding suburbs. I have reconnected with a friend from Florida who moved up 3 years ago and our guys get along pretty well, so it has been nice to have friends up here.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that it feels a little weird not to be spending Thanksgiving with my immediate family. One of the bad parts of living away from your parents is the holidays. My sister has to split Thanksgiving and Christmas with her husband’s family and this year she is coming to Orlando for Christmas. So I’m staying in DC, my sister will be with her in laws and my parents are going to Puerto Rico.  Something about spending a holiday without parents makes me feel very much like an adult.

Family- Gratitude Challenge

November 03, 2015

I was a little late posting this week's installment of the Gratitude Challenge, but better late than never I say. This week's prompt was family and I couldn't ask for a better family. My parents and sister are incredibly important to me even if I don't always tell them. I often say that the only thing I miss about Orlando (besides Publix and less traffic) is my having my parents near by.  I am grateful to know that if I ever need anything they are just a phone call away. Even in my 30's sometimes talking to your Mom about a tough day or situation just makes you feel better.

For me I think it was easy to take my parents and sister for granted when we all lived in the same city. Getting together only required a phone call and a reasonable drive, but now we are scattered in 3 different states. This year we are all doing our own thing for Thanksgiving and then all coming together in Orlando for Christmas. There is something about living far away from your family that will truly make you appreciate them in a way you didn't when they were just down the road from you.

Week 2 of Gratitude Challenge- Your Spouse

October 21, 2015

The second week of this challenge had the prompt titled Spouse/Significant Other and why you are grateful to have them in your life. I like to think I do a good job of letting my husband know that I appreciate him, but its not a bad idea to take time to focus on the good they bring to your world. I'm grateful for the last almost 3 year of marriage and that I truly have a partner in life.

This is just a shortened and random assortment of the things I am oh so grateful for when it comes to him.

  • Taking Kavalier out on weekend mornings to let me sleep in. He knows how much I love sleeping in on weekends and does this automatically.
  • On occasion (like the weeks we don't play each other) he will help me with my fantasy football team.
  • He brings me a croissant on Sunday morning from our local coffee shop down the street. This is a new one that is a perk of living in the city.
  • He listens to my thrift hauls when I get home from a successful thrifting trip.
  • Loves exploring new places with me.
  • Accepts me for who I am.
  • Reminds me to step out of my comfort zone when needed.

What are you grateful about your spouse or significant other?

Time for Tailgating

October 16, 2015

One of my favorite parts of the fall season is football. I love watching both college and NFL football and have been playing in a fantasy league for the last few years. The best part of watching a live football game is the pre-game tailgate parties outside the stadium. I enjoyed tailgating when I was a student at Florida State University where it felt like the whole town came together on game day.

The NFL holds its draft every spring and fantasy football teams hold drafts as well. What about holding a tailgate party draft to decide what to bring? Man Crates asked me to draft my tailgate essentials for a football tailgate. Man Crates is a new company that ships awesome gifts for the men in your life in custom wooden crates with various themes to choose from. I love the concept for customized gifts for hard to shop for men. I was given a $25 limit to draft my essentials for a great tailgate celebration with friends.

My tailgate line up:

1. Dogs/Burgers- Good food is key to any successful tailgate party. Burgers and hot dogs are classic football food and you can't go wrong with them.

2. Beer- What is a tailgate without a cold beer to go with your burger or hot dog? I would also include water and soda to the cooler as well. I'm originally from Florida where water is a necessity on those hot day games where the temperatures can still be high in October. Soda is a good option for those in the party who don't like to drink beer.

3. Football- While I don't tend to play a game at tailgates, I think you should always have a football on hand for spontaneous games between friends.

4. Face paint- Some of my fondest tailgate memories from my college days involve putting some spirited face paint on before the game. Getting your face painted in the team colors is a fun way to get into the football spirit.

5. Option Play- Sweets. I have a big sweet tooth and like bringing something like cupcakes (in team colors) to the tailgate to share with friends.

6. NFL Barware Crate- I love the team logo pint glasses that come in this Man Crate. You can show your team support throughout the year and it is a great addition to the tailgate with the snacks. You can never have too many snack options at a tailgate party.

What would you have in your tailgate lineup?

52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge

October 12, 2015

In the past I have attempted to keep a gratitude journal where on a daily basis I think of things in my life that I am grateful for. I usually keep it up for a week or so before life gets in the way and I forget about it. I love the idea behind taking time to be grateful for what we do have in our lives.

It has been far too easy to get and stay in complain mode. Complain about my lack of success in finding a new position, how expensive things are here in DC, or just comparing myself to other people in general. I feel that this sense of comparison has increased since moving to DC. Here you have an abundance of highly educated people with impressive job titles, and I on the other hand have been going on interviews for a better job with no luck for the past several months. This city makes it hard not to play the compare game.

I stumbled upon this 52 week gratitude challenge on Pinterest and was quickly intrigued. Why not try to take time out every week to remind myself of the good things in my life? I do admit that consistency is not my strong point, but I am going to attempt to blog every week on gratitude. I'm starting this challenge to regain some focus back in my life and break the habit of focusing on what I'm missing rather than what I'm blessed to have.

DC Goodwill Shopping Tour

October 08, 2015

If you follow me on Instagram (@alifelesstraveled) you saw me post about the DC Goodwill thrifting bus tour I went on a few weekends ago. I was intrigued by the idea of thrifting with others, since I always go to thrift stores by myself. I'm definitely glad I went ahead and signed up for it. The tour started at 9:00 am with everyone meeting up for the bus to take us on our day of shopping. We went to four local Goodwill stores in the DMV area.

At the first Goodwill store in Alexandria, I wasn't having a lot of luck scouting the racks for things on my fall fashion wish list. I ventured out to the dresses section when one of my fellow thrifters showed me an orange printed dress in my size and suggested that I try it on. Normally I don't tend to wear orange but I was drawn in by the interesting print on the dress. I'm so glad I decided to just try it on. Not only was the dress a good step out of my fashion comfort zone, but it turned out to be a Jude Connally dress that retails for close to $200 priced for just $8.99.  It turned out to be the steal of the day.

I love finding J Crew clothes when I'm at the thrift stores. I love the brand but I can't justify the high prices at the retail stores, so when I find it in good condition I get excited. I found a teal wool J Crew sweater for only $5.99 that fit like a glove on me. With winter weather just around the corner it was a perfect find.

The last Goodwill we hit in the suburbs of Northern Virginia was where I really hit the jackpot.  While the store itself was a little crammed and hard to maneuver with a shopping cart, I ended up finding some great stuff at this location. I got a pair of Gap black slacks, a deep purple v neck sweater a fitted black blazer and a cross body bag. My grand total for all of my purchases of the day was just under $40.00 and the stores gave us an additional 25% for being part of the shopping tour.

For those who thrift, have you ever been on a thrift shopping tour?

Annapolis Day Trip

September 08, 2015

When my parents told me a few weeks before my birthday that they decided to come up and visit me I was thrilled. A few minutes later I started to worry about what new places I could take them to on this trip to DC. Even before my move to DC my parents have been to the city many times since their first visit for Clinton's inauguration in 1992 and many of my dad's work conferences in the following years. So they have seen all the major tourist sites and I wanted to take them somewhere new for this upcoming visit.  The husband and I had not yet visited Annapolis in Maryland despite it being only a 45 minute drive from the city. So we all decided to grab a birthday seafood lunch in Annapolis and have ourselves a relaxing day trip.

I researched local seafood restaurants in the area and found great reviews for Boatyard Grill and Bar near the marina. Maryland is known for its crab cakes and this place didn't disappoint. The motto on the menu was no filler, all killer crab cakes and it held up to those words.

After our delicious lunch we walked into the quaint downtown area to window shop and explore. We stumbled upon the Kunta Kinte- Alex Haley memorial that pays tribute to the enslaved Africans who come to the United States.  It is definitely a unique memorial right in the middle of Annapolis.

We also strolled along the State Capital grounds which was founded in 1649 and is drenched in historical charm. I enjoyed being close to the water for a few hours and the energy is much more laid back than the hustle of DC.

What its really like to leave teaching

August 17, 2015

This is the second summer that is just merely a season to me. Summer for teachers is their longest break and a chance to unwind from the stress of the profession. Oddly enough it has not been difficult to adjust to working in the summer months, now the lack of built in breaks has been a different story. I have written before on why I left teaching and thought I would reflect on being 2 years out of the classroom.

People will want to know the why of what made you leave. 

This is especially true if you spent more than 5 years in the profession. Those not working in the public school systems often do not know all the obstacles teachers face on a daily basis, so I understand the curiosity. This question comes up a lot in the job search as well. In my experience I have found some employers have trouble with the concept of ex-teachers looking to enter other career fields and will ask why you left. My tip is to practice your answer before the interview and show confidence in your decision.

Some employers can't get past the teacher part of you.

I really wish I would have known this when I first stepped out of the classroom. In my mind I picked up so many skills in my 6 years as a classroom teacher from strong organizational and time management to even conflict resolution, but this does not translate to employers or HR. To many of them they just think teacher and are not sure how teacher translates to skills and experience needed for other positions. It can be hard not to take that kind of stuff personally, but just know that not every employer thinks that way.

Not working in a school means a serious lack of vacation time

I didn't realize how spoiled I'd become in working so long in the school systems when it comes to vacation time until I left. It really hit home last Christmas when I didn't have the traditional 2 weeks off and had to use PTO combined with Christmas day to go back home for a few days. I now understand why people say Americans get the least amount of vacation time in the world. No wonder Americans don't travel.

The beauty of an hour lunch break 

As a teacher I was lucky to get 30 minutes to cram some food in my mouth and make time for a restroom break before the kids lined up to start the next class. Now 2 years of having an actual lunch hour to eat and unwind before the second half of the work day, I don't think I could go back to the former.

You will more than likely have to take a pay cut

I knew this from my online research prior to leaving the field and prepared myself for it. You are essentially starting over in a new field and more than likely your new paycheck will reflect that. I just tell myself that it is a temporary step to a bigger goal, nothing worth having comes easy.

Tales of the Thrift: DC edition

August 10, 2015

It has been way too long since I went out thrifting between moving into the city in May and going on our road trip last month I hadn't been on a thrift hauling far too long. This weekend I decided to head out to the U Street area of DC to check out a few thrift stores.

Martha's Outfitters

I have been to this shop a few times before and always find something god. This store is part of a local charity called Martha's Table and the proceeds go back into the DC community.  This store is on the small side and does not have any fitting rooms, so be prepared to try clothes on in the corner. My first visit here I scored a Marc Jacobs long sleeved top for just $4.00.  This trip I was looking for fall clothes and did not leave empty handed. I found a cute Zara lightweight v-neck sweater for $3.49, a long sleeve scoop neck Cythnia Rowley shirt for $ 2.49 and a Tory Burch navy sweater for $3.49. When I saw the Tory Burch in good condition and in my size I immediately scooped it up and I'm glad I did.

Positives: Flat pricing similar to Goodwills and offers a good number of designer finds.

Negatives: No dressing rooms and on the small side.

Crossroads Trading Company

This is a national chain very similar to Plato's Closet where they buy gently used clothes and give you either store credit or cash. I tried to sell my stuff to Plato's in the past with minimal luck, but since the store was just down the street from Martha's Outfitters I figured why not check it out. Personally I found the prices to be high for used mostly H&M and Forever 21. But to be fair I am used to lower thrift prices from places like Goodwill. They have a large store that is very well organized and has multiple fitting rooms. They did have half-off stickers on some of the items and I picked up a cute Gap blouse that was originally $10.50 for just $5.25.

Positives: Wide and organized selection and dressing rooms available.

Negatives: The prices are higher than going to a Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Hello Oregon: Thoughts on my first visit to Oregon

August 03, 2015

Our first stop in Oregon was the coastal town of Cannon Beach. My sister had visited this town a few years since her husband has family in the area and raved to me about its beauty. That day we were greeted with lovely misty rainy weather as we walked down to the beach to dip our toes into the Pacific Ocean. I have to be honest and say that seeing the Pacific Ocean was something I was looking forward to on this trip. The furthest west I had gone before this road trip was Las Vegas in 2003, so I was excited to finally experience the west coast. My only west coast disappointment was that I was not near any In and Out Burger location to see what all the fuss is about. What can I say I love a good hamburger.

Coming from growing up in Florida where I either went to the beaches of the Atlantic or the ones on the Gulf of Mexico, the rocky terrain of the Oregon coast was different yet uniquely beautiful.

The next day I finally got to spend time in Portland. I think I might have come into the city with too high of expectations, partly from my love of Portlandia's The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland skit and hearing how awesome it was from my sister and a close friend. We were only able to spend an afternoon in Portland so the first stop was naturally a visit to Powell's Books. If you love books, this place is like heaven. It takes up a whole city block and houses every book you can imagine. The fact that I only spent $40 in there is amazing. We had a bit of a tiff with our friend/traveling companion right as we arrived into the city and split up for lunch. We ended up at Fat Head's Brewery where I enjoyed the Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale and commented how many hipsters I saw while we ate outside on the patio. I personally found Portland to be heavy on the hipsters which isn't my style. It's not that I disliked Portland, I just think that coming from living in DC now it doesn't seem as big city as others described it to me. If I went from living in Orlando to then Portland it would have probably made a different impact on me.

We were advised to make the 45 minute drive from Portland to see Multnomah Falls in Columbia Gorge and I'm so glad we did. Oregon has so many varied landscapes and I think we were able to see several of them in our short time in the state.

The last stop on the Oregon trip was Crater Lake National Park. To get from the Portland area to here is a long and boring drive through sparsely populated Eastern Oregon. I didn't know it yet but it would be worth the tedious driving once I saw the unspoiled beauty of Crater Lake. T has said this was his favorite national park besides Glacier. He literally could not stop taking photos while we were there.

Mt. Rainer National Park

July 27, 2015

A big highlight of the trip was finally visiting the Pacific Northwest for the first time. This was actually something on my 30 for 30 list which is a list of goals to accomplish by my 40th birthday. My introduction to this region would be through Washington state. We drove in through the eastern side of the state with the city of Spokane as my greeter to the state. After days out in the sparsely populated states of Wyoming and Montana, getting off the highway and going into a Walmart to replenish supplies was a welcome change of pace for me. While I enjoy getting into nature for a few days out of the city one of the things I came to realize is that I definitely prefer living in a city.

We met T's uncle, who is retired and travels across the country visiting national parks, in Packwood just outside of the park. Packwood is a small town that you pass through on your way into Mt. Rainier. We found an independent coffee shop that made the best white chocolate frappe I've ever had  in my life. If you are ever in Packwood check out Butter Butte Coffee Company.

We spent 2 days camping in the nearby national forest (which are super dog friendly) and I swear my dog was in heaven with his first time camping. Compared to the campsite we had in Glacier this one was an upgrade for sure with a location right by the river. Mt. Rainer National Park is the the most glaciated park in the mainland United States. It also has an active volcano and 6 major rivers. One of the highlights of this park was hiking the Paradise trail despite it being foggy and a little chilly. This part of the park is filled with beautiful wildflowers and is just so peaceful. The Paradise area has its own visitor center that warrants a visit when you are at Mt. Rainer. This was definitely a great place to kickstart the Pacific Northwest portion of the trip. Sadly I didn't get a chance to visit Seattle on this trip, but I loved the time I spent in Washington.

Glacier National Park Montana

July 20, 2015

How does one recap a trip that you have been wanting to take forever? I have been wanting to drive cross country since I was a middle schooler watching MTV's Road Rules when it started.  I figure it will take multiple recaps with all the places we made it out to and all the photos we took. I will start with what is called one of the crown jewels of the National Parks, Glacier National Park in Montana.

One of the most memorable activities found in Glacier National Park is to drive the Going to the Sun Road which is a 50 mile road that winds through the interior of the park to showcase the raw beauty of this natural wonder. You can choose to drive this picturesque road in your own vehicle or take the Glacier Park shuttle along the road. We choose to drive it ourselves, or more specifically my husband drove it since mountain driving is something I have zero experience in. The drive is filled with breathtaking views that every American should see at least once in their lifetimes. I'll be honest with you, Montana wasn't on my travel radar until 2 summers ago when T made his first trip out there to visit his uncle and instantly fell in love with Glacier.  He came home convinced that I needed to experience this place myself and now 2 years later I got my chance.

We ended up camping for a night at the Apgar Campground inside the park. The camping aspect of this trip was a little nerve wracking for me. Before this trip the last time I attempted camping was back in high school and I ended up going home with several fire ant bites, so I was a camping newbie to put it lightly. Everything was fine until it was time to go to bed and I underestimated how cold it would get overnight in July in Northwestern Montana.  I can't imagine how harsh the winters are up there. The next day we made it out to Logan's Pass to do some day hiking. While at Logan's Pass I got to encounter wildlife first hand in of all places a parking lot. After completing the hike in Logan's Pass I walked down to the car to check on the dogs (dogs are not allowed on any Glacier trails) while the guys went to to check out the gift shop in the visitor center. I am sitting there giving water to the dogs when I hear people gasping in the parking lot that a group of rams has entered the parking lot. I look up to see tourists snapping pictures on their phones of the rams circling the parking lot. Right as my eyes become fixated on the rams my friend's dog begins to bark uncontrollably. I start to freak out not knowing if the barking will entice the rams to come explore what was the cause of all the noise. I plead Matilda to stop her barking and now my dog has started making a whine noise himself. For the next few minutes I nervously watched the rams circle through the parking lot wondering if they would stop by our car due to the dogs inside. Luckily the rams did not appear to be interested in interacting with the dogs and made their way to explore the other side of the parking lot. That would not end up being my singular wildlife encounter on the trip but it was most definitely the scariest one.

Countdown to my Pacific Northwest road trip

July 01, 2015

Less than a week from today and I will be starting my 2 week road trip across the Pacific Northwest. I'm excited for my first long road trip and seeing parts of the country brand new to me. On the travel itinerary we have South Bend, IN (a pit stop to see Notre Dame which is big in T's family), South Dakota, Montana (Glacier National Park), Mt. Rainer in Washington, Portland, Oregon coast and Colorado. If any of you have recommendations on any of these places, please feel free to share.

In previous road trips my favorite thing to do is putting together a road trip playlist. Good music is essential to a quality road trip. From my college days road trip to now here are some of my favorite songs to listen to while in the car for a long trip.

Rusted Root- Send Me on My Way - This is one of those songs I played often on the four hour drives from Florida State to home.

Bright Eyes- Another Travelin Song- I love everything from this band. Period.

The Head and The Heart- Lost in my Mind- Great lyrics that fit perfectly for the traveling mindset.

What are some of your tips for a successful road trip?

Making peace with uncertainity

June 15, 2015

Two years ago I made the decision to walk away from my teaching career and find out what else was out there in the work world for me. Some people in my life probably thought I was crazy to leave a full-time jobs with benefits, but the reality was that my heart was no longer in teaching and it had come to the point where my health was being affected. I took a leap of faith and accepted a job at non-profit alternative school for at-risk teenage girls as an outreach counselor. One of the best decisions I've ever made.

I loved that job. I felt like my skills made me an important member of the team, loved the small staff I worked with, and loved helping the students. Honestly as happy as I was to move out of Florida I was sad to leave this place behind. Flash forward to a year later and I am in the midst of a self diagnosed career crisis. I'm about to turn 34 in August, dislike my current job, and am unsure of where I'm headed career wise.

For the first time in my post collegiate life I am underemployed. Underemployment is a sugar coated term for you are way over qualified for the job. It happens. People are mislead about job descriptions all the time and disappointed to find that the reality differs from what is initially presented.

In a way I have felt like I have been constantly searching for what I should do career wise. I came into college with the idea of majoring in Psychology, ended up switching to English with journalistic aspirations and after coming up short on the journalism job hunt decided to become an English teacher.  After making the transition out of classroom teaching I have actually had the time to think about what it is that I enjoy doing and I just feel like I'm coming up with more questions than answers.

In the last few months I have started looking for new opportunities and even interviewed for a few teaching positions. Up here teaching jobs pay much better than back in Florida, which is what was motivating me to apply for them. I even got asked to do a demo lesson at a school and I stepped back into a classroom for the first time in 2 years. I did well despite my nerves. What I wasn't doing was being honest with myself, the truth is that while I was a competent teacher my heart was no longer in it. I could spin my story in an interview but I am sure on some level it was apparent. So I'm back to the drawing board. I know what I don't want to do (teaching) and that I have a reignited love for writing and that I like a job where I can help people. I grew up believing that I would have a very defined career path like my parents. Now at almost 34 I'm starting to become comfortable with the idea that my professional life probably won't look like that and that is not a bad thing. I don't need to have it all figured out and that's ok.

One year later: What I've learned from leaving home

May 26, 2015

It is surreal to realize that as I'm writing this blog post in our new DC apartment (goodbye Northern Virginia) this time last year we were in the midst of selling our Orlando house and saying our farewells to family and friends. To say that this past year was an emotional roller coaster would be the best way to describe our moving experience.

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. " - Alan Alda

I've learned that you are not really sure what you are made of until you step out of your comfort zone.   A 713 square ft. apartment is way too small for a married couple and their dog. I'm becomingly more convinced that most of our tension came from transitioning from a 3 bedroom house to that tiny apartment. We now have an 800 sq. apartment and the difference is amazing. If you ever want to see what your marriage is made of just move away from your support system and see what happens.

I've learned that your phone's GPS navigation is a lifesaver and necessity. Back in Orlando I knew those roads since I grew up there. If there was traffic on the highway, I already knew the alternate routes to get where I needed to go. Now I have to look everything up until I have driven to a place a few times.

I've learned the beauty that is public transportation. You have to own a car to get around in Orlando. The local bus system there is unreliable at best. I first felt the love for public transit when I lived outside of Boston and rode the commuter rail into the city. Now that I live in the city I love that I can ride the Metro to most parts of the city and avoid the stress of city driving. Now I just need to learn to parallel park one day.

I've learned you are never too old to miss having your parents close by. I am pretty close to my parents and lived 20 minutes away from them back in Florida.  I regularly spent time with my mom and dad on the weekends and not having them near by has been the hardest part of moving away. They just came up this month and it was nice to spend time with them in my new city.

I've learned that living in suburbia is not where I want to be right now. In Florida we lived in a house in a residential neighborhood 10 minutes south of downtown and honestly I found it boring. Most of the people in the neighborhood had kids and I didn't, I found Northern Virginia to be the same way. I haven't been in the city long and I already love the difference in urban living.

I've learned that winter sucks but is just part of the deal of living in a place with four seasons. Driving in the snow still makes this Florida girl nervous.

I've learned that there is something about being in a new city that makes you motivated to explore it in a way you don't do in your hometown. In just one year of living here I have explored Harpers Ferry West VA, Charlottesville, various Civil War battlefields in Virginia and Baltimore, MD.

10 things I wish people knew about me

May 12, 2015

They say looks can be deceiving. We all walk around with things people assume about us or secrets that we choose to keep inside. So I thought about what I sometimes wish people knew about me and how it would help to get to know more about the person I am.

1.  I may wear the coveted size 2 but I walk around with years of body issues. I inherited my mother's lightning fast metabolism and her childhood teasing of being a skinny girl. I have moments where I've made peace with my body, but other times I am still sensitive to people's rude comments about my figure.

2. Yes, I am in fact of Hispanic descent. Yes, I speak fluent Spanish. I'm also overly aware that I don't look like what apparently a Hispanic is supposed to look like. I wish people knew it hurts to hear things like "I don't consider you Hispanic" or "You don't look Hispanic enough".

3. If you are a good friend to me I am incredibly loyal. I haven't always had that loyalty repaid to me in the past and it hurts to learn someone doesn't value your friendship.

4. I don't plan to have kids and yet I don't hate kids. People sometimes wrongly assume that because  I am choosing not to have children that I must dislike them.

5. Just because I majored in English and taught it for six years does not mean I am correcting everyone's grammar or am a human dictionary.

6. I am an introvert by nature and it takes me a little while to warm up to people. But once I feel comfortable around someone I am quite chatty.

7. I am a self-diagnosed Highly Sensitive person (HSP) and diagnosed myself after reading the book.

8. I always knew that I wanted to move out of my hometown, but that doesn't mean I look down on those who stayed put.

9. Wounds run deep with me. I tend to feel things deeply.

10.  When I asked my husband that he wishes people knew about me he said, "How witty and off the cuff funny you can be."

Around the World Embassy tour 2015

May 04, 2015

Once a year the embassies in DC open their doors to locals and tourists alike to come see and learn more about the various countries represented. I had read about the tours when I was researching prior to our move here last June and instantly loved the idea. Now that we are actually living in the city it was a no-brainer that we could get up early to try to see how many of the countries we could visit.

Countries Visited: Embassy of the African Union, Botswana, Bangladesh, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Mozambique

Each of the embassy showcased their country's heritage in their own way. Some of them played music from their country, had authentic dancers, and gave free food to their visitors. All of the embassy visits had a personal feel despite the long lines that many of them had throughout the afternoon. The highlights for me were the free food at the Ivory Coast and African Union. I have always wanted to travel to Africa so having authentic dishes from parts of that continent was quite a treat.