A slice of NOLA: New Orleans Must Dos

A Slice of NOLA: New Orleans Must Dos 

The first stop on my summer travels around the world was back to my home country but to a city I have never been before. Nawlins. NOLA. Whatever you want to call it. I heard so much about New Orleans and I was ecstatic to check it out. I was visiting for my company’s annual summit conference so over 25,000 people invaded the city and hundreds from my team. This threw in a lot of conference-ing into the mix our week there but nonetheless, we still explored the city, ate all of the things, listened to amazing live music, got lost on Bourbon street and left a little piece of our heart there forever.

Here’s a slice of our trip and some must-dos when you are planning yours–

Where to stay:

A big group? Garden District Mansions– I highly recommend checking out the houses in the Garden District on Airbnb. My team and I of 20 girls stayed in a gorgeous home that was spacious, clean, and a short Uber ride away from every area we wanted to go. Not to mention, it was absolutely STUNNING.

If you haven’t used Air Bnb before, use this link( www.airbnb.co.uk/c/susannaha11 to get 30$ off your first booking.

Even if you don’t end up staying there, make sure you wander around the Garden District and check all the houses. They are incredible. You can even take the old  fashioned tram that runs from downtown New Orleans to the Garden district if you don’t enjoy walking a lot.

Solo travelers– If you’re on your own or on a tight budget, I highly recommend staying at Garden District House Hostel. It is one of the nicest hostels I have ever stayed in. Super clean, safe, lovely fully furnished kitchen, outdoor backyard area and very helpful staff. My boyfriend and I stayed there before the conference started and I would gladly stay there again.

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Bourbon Street vs. Frenchman Street– If you ask a local, they will tell you to go to Frenchman Street. I highly recommend it. The music is unbelievable and the bars are fun and lively. Bourbon Street is like something out of movie. There are drunk people everywhere carrying their drinks to-go (Hello no open- container law), live music,  beads, food, crowds. We went one night and one night was enough for us. I think it’s worth it at least to experience it but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time there unless you’re into the college-frat boy-spring break type drinking scene- then you’ll love it.

The French Quarter– If you love architecture and funky buildings this is the spot for you. It’s the oldest spot in New Orleans and you can find tons of  hotels, bars, restaurants and shopping. I wish we spent more time here because it truly gives you the vibes of the city.

Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral– Right next to the French Quarter- Jackson Square is a bustling scene with street vendors, psychics, horse and carriages. Definitely stop into St. Louis Cathedral and check out the stained glass and incredible architecture. My friend and I actually got psychic palm & tarrot readings right outside the cathedral and it was absolutely mind blowing. I would highly recommend it. The spiritual vibes in New Orleans are very strong and they even do haunted ghost tours of the city (which friends of mine did and really enjoyed.) I’m not here to convince you, but if you’re into stuff like that I would love to share details of my psychic experience.

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Offline is the new luxury: Why you should stop blogging

I’ve come back to my blog after 2 glorious months away traveling. I’ve been to 7 countries, rode quad bikes all over the island of Santorini, drank sangria and hiked along the Costa Brava in Spain, took a boat cruise through the canals of Amsterdam, drank cocktails on rooftops in NYC, got lost in the endless streets of mansions in New Orleans, explored old quaint villages in England,  met my boyfriend’s family and friends had him meet mine and didn’t blog about one second of it.

But all of that material and content. Those photos must be amazing. Those are spots a lot of people would love to have some tips for. That is like a blogger’s heaven.

A funny thing happened to me on the course of this trip. One that I’ve talked about before and continues to tug aggressively at my heartstrings. I realized even more deeply that offline is now our greatest luxury. I think it is far more tantalizing for someone to hop over to the Maldives and not plaster it on their Insta story, Live Youtube channel and have 4 blog posts written before they even leave. Oh yeah, I’ve been to Barcelona this summer too! But I couldn’t tell from your social account… But Susie, it’s your JOB.

It is my job. But it is also my job to question my satisfaction constantly. It’s my job to color outside the lines. Just because you start building an online business doesn’t mean you should all of sudden be blind to the strong emotional and psychological ties we all are forming to our individual devices and technology as a whole. I can’t pretend I don’t feel it. I can’t pretend that I don’t see it changing our world, our youth and our relationships. As usual, when I feel something I can’t keep my mouth shut about it.

My heart and soul seriously struggles with the fact that as an online business owner it is my job to stay connected. It is my job to constantly share, create content, engage my audience, come up with clever captions, content, free resources and recipes and basically rewrite and translate the Bible (on Facebook live) while traveling in a foreign land–not to mention 365 days a year. When you start out with your own business, you don’t have someone to do it for you. And consistency is key if you want the algorithm to work in your favor. You’ll lose followers. You have to remain relevant. This doesn’t feel like freedom to me.

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Is Bali Overrated?

Bali is one of the most magical places I have ever been. Overrated?? Absolutely NOT. I would visit there 100 times. I hope to live there long term at some point in my wild ride of a life. I’ve been promising this Bali blog since March and I currently have about four friends waiting from advice from me. So- I think it’s time. Here is my ultimate advice on Bali- what do, where to stay, what to eat, etc.

I’ve been twice. The first time with three American single girlfriends and myself (at the time also single)  and the second time with my partner. Needless to say the trips were very different but the magic about Bali was the same. You want to talk about vibes- Bali has the best vibes of any place I have ever experienced. It feels like the energy levels are sky high and you’re floating in a dream. I’ll write this with the thought that you haven’t already visited South East Asia so some things might be what you already know.

Airport: Stay somewhere where the airport shuttle is included. The nicer hotels are cheap enough that you can stay there for the first few nights (or the whole time depending on your budget) and save yourself the hassle of getting ripped off by the taxi drivers. They will be waiting for you at the airport with a sign and it just eliminates initial culture shock.

Taxis: Speaking of taxis, this is one of the worst parts about Bali. The incessant hounding for people to give you a taxi or motorbike ride or tour. This is an amazing way to see a lot in one day- we did it. But you have to make sure it’s someone you trust. Shop around and BARTER. Do not just pay the first amount they say- even if it seems cheap when you convert it. Your safest bet is using Blue Bird taxis and making sure they have the meter on. Some taxis pretend to be Blue Bird and even have a fake similar logo but you can spot the real from the fake. By far the cheapest  route is to rent a motorbike- but just make sure you take photos of it before so they don’t try to charge you for damages and that you are confident driving in the crazy Bali traffic.

Places to go:

Canggu– This is an up and coming area! I think in a few years it will be much more crowded- so get there now. It’s really peaceful and relaxed and there is a beach close by(which is good for surfing I don’t surf but my boyfriend enjoyed it.) The variety of restaurants is amazing and lots of fun nightlife. The town is mixed right in with rice fields and you don’t feel like you’re overrun by tourists but there are still people about. I would recommend 4 nights in Canggu or longer if you aim is to chill out and have a more relaxed Bali vacation.

Accommodation: We stayed at The Apartments at Canggu- highly recommend. We had our own private villa and pool. Very clean and helpful staff. Great location.

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Food & Nightlife: Nalu Bowls, Crate Cafe (MUST GO) , Finn’s Beach Club

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Should you book the flight?

I can’t let my streak be blown completely by my travels. I’ve spent two glorious weeks in Bali and the best way to describe my feelings are recharged.  I have tons of tips, photos, stories, and videos to come in the near future on my blog but tonight I am singing a different tune. Honestly, I’m not sure how this song will play out. My words are such a safe and comfortable place for me. It’s as if I could be anywhere in the world and once I start writing it’s like metaphorically being snuggled on the couch on Stinard Ave with my parent’s favorite blanket. They are safe but they are also intoxicatingly surprising. Kind of like a librarian who also has an affinity for S&M. My truest voice comes when I just let my creative one take over and run the show.

As my trip comes to an end I’m feeling reflective( me, reflective? Never) I think that travel in general is romanticized in photographs, blog posts and movies especially to a place like Bali. I know that as an American Bali sounded so exoctic and far fetched to me when I lived in the Northern Hemisphere. The flights alone were way out of my student loan debt teacher salary price range. But once I moved to the Southern Hemisphere, Bali became a totally accessible and logical vacation spot. And one that I simply had to experience.

The first time I went in 2014 was with three of my American girlfriends who I taught in Thailand with and became extremely close to. We traveled to Bali for just over two weeks, Australia for just over two weeks and ended the trip in Thailand for one final shabang on our favorite island Ko Phi Phi.  It was coincidently following my final breakup with my college ex of five and a half years. That trip was one  defined by freedom, exploration and healing. I will never forget the spark it lit in my soul. It is what ultimately led me to move to Australia and fall in love with traveling on a whole new level.

Needless to say, this trip has been a tad different coming to Bali with my boyfriend as opposed to four single American girls.  I wasn’t exactly nervous about traveling with Harry but I was very curious to see how well we would get along with the stressors of an international trip. If you don’t already know this, you may have very close relationships with people but that does not mean that they are always meant to be your traveling buddy. I think traveling exposes the most vulnerable and messy sides of a person and your travel vibes and desires just have to match in order for it to be enjoyable for everyone. No pressure, Har.

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How to Stay Fit on the Road

 

Are you passionate about traveling and living a healthy lifestyle? Maybe you aren’t necessarily passionate about healthy living but you know you need it. That’s okay too. When traveling for work, play or anything in between- it tends be to struggle to get workouts in and eat healthy. Many friends of mine complain that they often gain lots of weight when they are traveling and come home feeling bloated, run down and exhausted. Alcohol is often a part of traveling to new places and indulging in the local cuisine so how can you enjoy your trip and still stick to the healthy habits you’ve been working so hard to create?

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First and foremost, like anything else in life-it  starts with the belief that you can in fact do it. If you write off every single weekend trip, vacation and work trip before you even start of course you aren’t going to follow through once you are on the road. If it is important to you, you need to believe that it’s possible(because I promise you it is), plan ahead and accept progress not perfection.

In 12 days my boyfriend and I are packing up our lives here in Australia(maybe we should have already started) and heading to Bali for a holiday. If you follow my blog or social media you know that we aren’t leaving by choice but due to visa complications. We have nicknamed Bali our “deported holiday”  and then we intend to move to New Zealand on a working holiday visa until we can sort out a new visa to come back to Australia.

My boyfriend and I are both very passionate about health and fitness and have spent the past year really making it a lifestyle and not a vicious cycle of backwards and forwards! Both of us have been working extremely hard on our nutrition and our training and it’s a bit intimidating to head out into the unknown.

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Luckily, I know what to do. I have the belief I can do it. I have the tools to stay on track. I have a loving relationship with my body, food and adventure. I will never miss out on life for the sake of 3% body fat or a few pounds. I actually have no idea how much I weigh and I don’t care. I don’t expect perfection but I know I want to feel strong, healthy and happy when our vacation is over.

I care about treating my body well, nourishing it with quality foods and treating it sometimes too because let’s be real, I love food. Going backwards or stopping all together on my fitness journey is something I did FOR YEARS. I backpacked through South East Asia and Australia in 2014 and I definitely got off track and ended my trips feeling really shitty. The crazy part is I was still implementing some of these and didn’t even give up completely. But not this time. I’m going to share my plan and my tips so that you can take on your next adventure with the right attitude and not feel like you missed out on a thing.

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What happens when you unexpectedly have to change your entire life?

 

28 days…My boyfriend and I walked out of the hearing room and looked at each other with half relief, half sadness, and a tiny bit of sparkle in our eyes. After a series of unfortunate events and being deceived by his previous employer we knew that his 457 sponsorship visa to stay in Australia was not going to go through. We applied in April of 2016 so basically half of our relationship we have been waiting for the outcome of this visa. We prepared ourselves for them saying we had to leave but actually knowing you have 28 days to leave the entire little life you built together behind is quite terrifying once you receive the email of doom.

Instead of dwelling on the logistics, like the apartment we need to sublet, the furniture we need to sell, jobs we have to resign from, accounts we have to close, flights we need to book, (OMG, my to do list is endless right now) I’m taking a different approach this time. Usually, I would freak out- cry, let my anxiety get all out of whack and take control, be a moody brat to my boyfriend, feel sorry for myself, but this time, I decided to take control. Here is my video announcement of the news.

After announcing our news and getting an outpouring of love and support I couldn’t help but feel grateful. Many people were impressed with how positive I was being. People even expressed confusion by my positivity. How? How can you stay so positive?

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Why you should meet strangers on the Internet

The digital world can never replace in person interaction, connection and experiences. Life behind a computer screen can cause a lot of issues including comparison, unworthiness, and a feeling of “connection” but ultimately isolation. Then why would I tell you to talk to strangers on the Internet? Because in the past year and a half I have stumbled upon a few interweb connections that have changed my life and I want you to at least give it a shot. Here’s why:

You just moved to a new city- When you move to a new city, especially on your own (without a job or a place to live, wait is that just me?) your main concern should be finding a job and a place to live. If you are moving/ traveling abroad this might land you in a hostel where you could meet awesome people, (I met the love of my life) but you also meet a lot of people who are sleeping until 2 pm, partying all night, and complaining they can’t find a job. Let’s just say not the ideal crowd. If you stick to those friends you meet at the bar, you might not have the most motivated, positive, uplifting group surrounding you. CHOOSE your tribe wisely, don’t stumble into them.

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You can find out about events that peak your interest– Last year I found out about an awesome festival called Rad Livin on Instagram. It was full of inspiring stories from young creatives, live music, pizza, donuts and rad people. Their Instagram account followed me so I checked it out and it sounded like it was made for me. I couldn’t get any of my friends to join so I went alone and I made such cool friends and connections. Still time to go this year if it sounds like something you would like, just click this. I also attended many events in Sydney thanks to social media including Nike Training Tour, World Yoga Day Festival and Taste of Sydney. Cool events usually equal cool people and experiences are always worth the ticket price!

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The 2016 Collection: Travel

Travel

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“My biggest takeaway from all of my adventures living abroad in two radically different countries and returning back home to America in between, has been that the world is an absolutely captivating and magical place, if you allow it to be. Being open minded is the key to happiness, success, relationships and quite honestly, life.  I truly believe that for the most part people are their own worst enemies and let their fears hold them back from the life they deserve.”

“Traveling has forced me to be okay with not being in control(which if you know me was a VERY hard lesson for me to learn.) Traveling has forced me to see how taking risks is worth the reward. Traveling has forced me to savor the moments as they pass because you may only have a few nights with these new friends who you feel like you’ve known a lifetime. Traveling has made me realize that you don’t need a lot of money to travel you need a lot of GUTS. You need a lot of resilience. You need the willingness to get out of your OWN way and take some risks.”

“You have to be open minded in your approach to your traveling or you could circle the whole globe and not change a thing.”

“You are someone who decides that the desire to see the world is stronger than any other guiding factor.”

“Every traveler holds those stories in their memory, some to share and some to keep, but no two people will see the same world twice.”

“You can see a big and beautiful world or you can see a world full of pain and darkness. That is totally up to you.”

“Good and evil have existed since the beginning of time and will continue to exist. Traveling has reminded me to be open to the magic that this universe has to offer. Not just when you feel like it. Not just for a week or a stage in life. Be open to what the world has to offer you and see the magic in everyday life. Don’t ever stop seeing life as an adventure and that mindset will manifest your reality.  Leaving home does not mean that I never look back, I look back all the time. But my eyes have changed, my mind has expanded, my heart has opened.  I take life as it comes and I take people for what they are. I control myself (this is without a pitcher of sangria in my blood) because I know that’s the only thing I can control. I EMBRACE uncertainty because instead of holding myself back or being afraid of it, I am learning to celebrate the fact that I have no clue what’s next. None of us do. The more authentically you open your mind and your heart to the world around you the more the world around you opens. Allow the world to be the magical and captivating place that it is. Get out of your own way. I’m not saying everyone should quit their job to travel the world but DAMN, I am glad that I did.”

“The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly.”

“Traveling pushes me to my limits and pushed me out of my comfort zone to allow me the room to blossom into who I want to be. Or at least put me on the road to who I want to be. Traveling gave me the reason to start sharing my writing and the confidence to believe I had something to say.”

“When I lived in Syracuse last year for a short time, I might have taken for granted a nice dinner with Mom, an afternoon with my niece and nephew or getting ready with one of my best friends, but now, these moments feel like memories as they are happening. I cherish them with the sense of fragility and preciousness they deserve. Because I can’t see everyone I love as often as I want, I am able to invest fully in those moments and give my full self.”

“Wherever you are, and however you celebrate, remember to make this holiday season about love, celebration and admiration for life and the many blessings you have been given. It’s not wrong to miss what you’ve left behind, but don’t let it stop you from experiencing what is right in front of you.”

 

“Home will always be home for me. But the greatest feat of all, is feeling at home within yourself. I can be alone on the other side of the world but I am confident enough in who I am and where I’m going to feel at home.”

The flow knows where to go

This week and weekend I experienced the feeling of flow so many times that I felt as if I needed to pinch myself. But when you experience flow.. you go with it. C’mon we learned that when we were like ten.  While I was teaching on Monday, a few of my students seemed to be showing tremendous progress from where they started. I felt excited for them and so proud. Hearing and watching someone transform their language, communication skills and confidence is incredibly rewarding. Not only did I feel fulfilled in my teaching job but I had an awesome week with my coaching business as well. I started a new fitness challenge and have another engaged and fun group of women who are making positive, sustainable changes to their health and nutrition. Guiding people through the process of change and believing in the power of their body and especially their mind is so satisfying. I also experimented with going live and sharing some of my thoughts to inspire those who follow along with my journey. It is incredible what a difference it can make for people to hear your voice and feel connected. I am excited to have yet another medium in which I can express myself and impact the lives of others.

Balance is a continual struggle for me and I think it is the true elusive desire of most people. This week the weather has been getting very warm in Australia, which is the complete opposite of the other side of the world. Not only does this make the balancing act of work an play more difficult but this serves as my humbling reminder that we are not all there is. There is  a whole other hemispheres, planets, galaxies and who knows what out there and we are just a mere blip in the radar. But in our day to day life we often get trapped into narrow minded thinking. We get sucked into feeling like our problems are certainly the end of the world and our successes are something that must be celebrated by everyone who knows us.

But here is the thing, although we think we matter a lot, in the scheme of things we matter very little. Some people use this as an excuse to live on a small scale. I view it as the opposite. I use this fact to propel me forward into my future with as much passion, action, adventure and chutzpah as humanly possible. In the end, the only one who knows if you lived the life you are capable of is you.

 You answer to yourself.Personally, I am a very harsh critic. I will be massively successful in all areas of my life.  I refuse not to be. Being mediocre is the most terrifying fate in my book. Sometimes I let this drive me to be a workaholic but thank god I have learned to channel both my workaholic and my free spirit simultaneously. It’s not easy to do this. I continue to struggle with balancing work and play.

But I try to break my life into 1 hour increments. What can I do for the next hour that will be the most beneficial for me? Now, beneficial sometimes means for my business, my mental health, my relationship, my blog, my sanity, my teaching job. If I don’t have an hour-I break it down into half hour segments. It is amazing what you can do when you utilize the time in your day the way YOU want to.

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Dear Sydney…

Dear Sydney,

The past week has been overflowing with more reflection than usual for me. If I gave you an hour inside of my brain I assume you would be quite exhausted and possibly terrified. I am celebrating a year of living here in Sydney. I moved to Australia at the end of July 2015 but I went backpacking for two months up the East coast and I landed in Sydney at the end of September 2015, for what I thought was a few weeks. When I moved to Australia it was my intention to live in Melbourne. My teacher besties I met in Thailand moved there and when I visited the fall before I fell in love. I came to Australia not knowing exactly where I would end up, but I had an open mind and an open heart. After a few weeks in the hostel I was running out of money, so I knew it was time to get another job. My job search began and I made the Library of New South Wales my go-to spot. Something about being in a library makes me feel safe and at home.  It was while I was living in this cheap hostel, searching for a job, checking my bank account after every purchase, exploring the city on my own, that I began stressing about the future and if I really made the right decision. I struggled with loneliness and intense anxiety.  I wrote in my blog a year ago how I took myself out to dinner for the first time at a fancy restaurant and forced myself to enjoy my own company, without my phone or any hesitation. It felt weird and uncomfortable but overall, it was liberating.

A year ago I had no idea that at this hostel I would meet the man that I am now in love and happily living with. I had no idea that my passion for health and wellness, helping others, and sharing my journey would turn into such a huge driving force in my career and my life. For all my travelers out there, I know you can understand why traveling makes you so reflective but if you don’t travel much, I would love to explain why. When you travel or live abroad, especially for long periods of time, your life goes into a time warp and months seem like years and days seem like minutes. It feels like you just left home but it also feels as if you have existed in this universe forever. You develop a routine in your new turf because despite the need for freedom and adventure, human beings are all creatures of habits. When you move away from everything you’ve ever known, you are left with yourself. You are left to define yourself, in whatever manner you desire. The people you meet may learn about your past from stories, photographs and Facebook stalking, but a traveler meets everyone at face value, as the person they are today. It’s a beautiful way to approach life and a particularly comforting way to approach people.

The whole concept of the travel bug sounded silly to me at first. It sounded cliche and overused and quite frankly, trite. But a harsh reality you face in this world, is that cliches only construct meaning in your life when they are relevant to you. The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly. Now that I have lived abroad for 2 out of the last 3 years of my 20’s, I am heavily addicted. I am in love with the way it feels to explore new cities and look at every minute moment as something special and worth remembering. I am in love with the feeling of coming and going because it constantly reminds you how good you have it. When I travel home, I see the same city I grew up in with fresh eyes. All my favorites of home become that much more divine and sacred. Even though I have lived in Sydney for a year now, it still feels fresh and exciting to me. When I got my teaching job, experienced a few weeks of summer in Sydney and met my handsome Englishman, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. I felt satisfied, grounded and “home” in a way that is difficult to verbalize. I asked myself out-loud, and many of my friends, “Why would you ever choose to leave this?”

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