A Slice of New York: Wait it’s a state?

When I tell people that I’m from New York they immediately get so excited. “Wow, I loveeeee New York City!!!” But wait, it’s a STATE with 40 million people. I guess it’s kinda like when I just came and moved to England-  many Americans straight up act like England is only London. I’m like…. giant pause. I get it. I get it. I’m not travel or geography shaming. It’s natural to associate with things we are familiar with. But I hope to give you a few suggestions so next time you head to New York you expand your horizons and don’t think the only thing to do is go to New York City! There is room for so many activites in NY state. A huge shout out to my friends from my Facebook page who helped me answer what their favorite things to do were in Upstate!! Couldn’t have thought of everything without you. Writing this brings back so many fond memories and makes me miss home, especially the people that make it my home. No matter how far I go– New York is always so close to my heart.

My hometown– Syracuse, NY- I gotta show ‘Cuse some love. Although I hate the winters there, fall and summer are pretty amazing. And winter is cool for winter sport lovers (which I am not.) Although, I never plan on living back in Syracuse, it’s a wonderful place to visit and call home. The  best time to visit Syracuse is the fall– drive around and admire the changing leaves, apple picking at Beak and Skiff and make sure to eat all of the apple cider donuts and Honeycrisp apples. Trust me on this one. Pumpkin picking. Corn mazes. We have it all. If you can head up to the Syracuse University campus and watch a game at the Dome, go eat and drink on Marshall street or Armory Square. That is a blast. You have never seen so much orange in your entire life.

Food– When I brought my boyfriend to my hometown this summer, I had a list a mile long of food he MUST try. Just like NYC is famous for pizza and bagels- Upstate has some epic meals and specialities you can’t really get other places. Some of my favorites include: salt potatoes, Dinosaur BBQ(the original), Pastabilities, Gannons(best ice cream ever), chicken riggies, Just Donuts and of course– WEGMANS. I kid you not– my father gave my boyfriend a 40 minute tour of our local grocery store. If you have ever been to Wegmans, you understand. It is the best grocery store I have ever been to and I have to visit every time I go home. My Dad was touring us around every aisle, we were eating samples around every corner and  he was introducing us to all of his worker pals. It was a true initiation and sounds hilarious when I say it out loud.

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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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Single, Taken, Heartbreakin: Why we all need Self-Love

Valentine’s Day seems to be a day we obsess over being in love and more so being lonely. I have friends who hate Valentine’s day whether they are in a relationship or single. But love is so much more than the feeling that people share in a romantic partnership. How can you love yourself a little more today? Are you sick of hearing about self-love? Are you confused by what people even mean by that term? I don’t care if you’re married, divorced, or a baby right out of the womb- we all deserve our own affection, attention and adoration. Self-love is a necessary component to being fulfilled, challenged and whole. Ultimately, you loving yourself shapes a better world for all of us. What should you remember to ensure you’re practicing self-love today and everyday?

It’s not selfish– People are typically hesitant to take time for themselves. “I’m too busy.” We pour ourselves fully into our jobs, families, lovers and hobbies so that at the end of the day what is left over for us? Nada. It’s not selfish to put yourself first in fact, that is the only way to ensure you are the greatest lover, teacher, friend, daughter, mother, or  coworker possible. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The first step towards loving yourself fully is realizing it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

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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.”

March Madness First Round: Vietnam

First, I would like to start by absolutely commending bloggers who backpack travel and keep up with their blog at the same time. I need to try to master the art, but due to a lack of Wifi, a lack of concentration, relentless hangovers and far too much shopping & sightseeing, I find it works better for me to summarize my journey at the end. I decided to brake up my backpacking trip blogs by the countries I visited; Vietnam, Cambodia and then back to Thailand for an amazing visit from my American best friends and the celebration of the Thai new year,Songkran(one of most unique experiences of my journey so far). I lovingly nick named our trip March Madness, in an ode to the NCAA college basketball tournament in America, but it ended up being just that; MADNESS!

So, I will dive into Vietnam first. I was so excited for my first time leaving Thailand since I moved here 6 months ago! My bestie and travel guru (shout out to Kelsey) planned our itinerary, but tried to keep it as flexible as possible (only booking our first flight and first hostel) everything else was an approximate guideline so we could stay places longer when our hearts desired. I was all packed and ready to go the night before our trip and I decided to double-check my passport, my Visas,and my wallet…. OH SHIT! My credit card…is…where? A frantic search of my room began disheveling all of my neatly organized and folded piles of clothes, toiletries, and electronics. WHERE IS MY CREDIT CARD!? This is actually one of the scariest feelings in the world in another country, with a non refundable 2 month trip planned scheduled to leave for the airport that morning at 4:30 am. My biggest problem was it was my Thai bank account, where my paychecks are directly deposited to; I don’t use any other money right now besides my salary so it was my only lifeline. Our flight was scheduled to leave before any of the banks opened and they didn’t have Thai banks in Vietnam or Cambodia…

Tears started wailing from my eyes like a two-year-old child having a tantrum. I stormed into Jackie’s room and told them the news. Of course they offered to help me but the problem was we were all living off the same salary and we wouldn’t be back to Thailand for a month! I knew there was no way they could lend me money while still enjoying and surviving their vacation as well. I couldn’t take them up on their offer even if they forced me.So, I called my super heroes, my lifelines, the two most supportive people in the world… my parents. Of course I got a small lecture about responsibility but they luckily understood and we began to figure out options. I traveled the whole next day with next to no money, I felt so helpless and aggravated. After a lot of tears and a lot of emails back and forth with my Dad I finally got the money Western Union-ed two days later. It felt like an eternity but I was so grateful to have such amazing parents who would literally do anything for me. (THANKS GUYS). And now the fun could begin!

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