A SoCal Summer

Here’s a fun little story: My first job out of college was for this super awesome dude named Joe Mahan.

And last year, Mr. Joseph Edward Mahan obtained his wedding officiant license and married Tommy and I.

And this year, he finally tied the knot himself!

He and Amy are beautiful and perfect, so their wedding, naturally, was as well. She saw Wayfarers Chapel online and selected it as her venue before she even visited it. She stopped into Kleinfeld’s while at a work conference in New York and just happened to find the dream gown minutes before closing time. Close friends and family members traveled to Rancho Palos Verdes to celebrate these two at a beach wedding, complete with a brunch reception and monogrammed copper mugs as party favors.

Since plane tickets are ridiculously expensive, Tommy and I decided to roadtrip to the event! We usually do have our own little vacation at the end of the summer, but we weren’t sure if we’d be able to fit one in this year (since we already had two family vacations this summer and moved)…but this was all meant to be!

I have made the trek to Cali twice before, yet there were still several landmarks/sights that I was dying to see, spots that I have had pinned and bookmarked, places that I now have seen!

Below, I’ve listed them all (some even have links/pics!), and YOU can make the same journey using my fun Mapquest link. Overall, the trip took 44 hours and 36 minutes/2,980 miles (not including the time we spent exploring each of the awesome things listed below!). We were gone six days and came back excited, tired and with money leftover; we lived off of Sonic + protein bars, we shopped around for gas as best as we could (There are apps that can find you the absolute cheapest – but that can be hard in the middle of the desert!), and we found affordable/adorable places to stay (which is why I’m sharing my Air B’n’B link with you!).

ENJOY…….

Austin to Tucson, AZ-12 hours (7/19-6am to 6pm)-stay at Wyndham

always so nice

Tucson to Palm Springs, CA-5 hours (7/20-7am to 12pm)-stay at Wigwam Motel

Wigwam Motel on Historic Route 66 in San Bernardino, CA

Wigwam Motel on Historic Route 66 in San Bernardino, CA

  • Mud pools of Salton Sea (didn’t see)
  • Ruins of Bombay Beach (saw – sooo creepy/sad/interesting!)

  • Joshua Tree National Park (didn’t really see)
  • #thatpinkdoor
That Famous Pink Door On A Lovely Mid-Century Modern Home In Palm Springs

That Famous Pink Door On A Lovely Mid-Century Modern Home In Palm Springs

  • Coachella (drove by and waved;)
  • Salvation Mountain (amazzzzzinnnnggg!!!)
Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

  • Mirror House (closed 😦 read about it here…and someone, please visit this for me!)

San Bernardino to LA-1 hour (morning of 7/21)

  • Rancho Cucamonga Service Station on Route 66 (didn’t stop)
  • Cabazon Dinosaurs (so cute:)
Cabazon Dino

Cabazon Dino

  • First In-N-Out (and the university?!)
  • Watt’s Towers (decided to skip)
  • Museum of Ice Cream (sold out, wahhhh!)
  • Disney Concert Hall
Disney Concert Hall in LA

Disney Concert Hall in LA

  • Tomahawk steak at Lock & Key (decided to skip after seeing the price ha)
  • Oldest McDonald’s (which has world’s most-detailed mural on the side of it, depicting Route 66)

  • Rabbit Hole Bar (skipped)
  • The Last Bookstore (could have stayed here forever)
The Last Bookstore in LA

The Last Bookstore in LA

The Last Bookstore in LA

The Last Bookstore in LA

The Last Bookstore in LA

LA to RPV-1 hour (eve of 7/21)-stay at Air B’n’B

  • Wedding at Wayfarers Chapel + exploring the area
Hermosa Beach

adorable Hermosa Beach house

Wayfarers Chapel

Wayfarers Chapel

#mahanmadness

Joe + Amy

#mahanmadness

#mahanmadness

RPV to San Diego-3 hours (noon of 7/22)-stay at Air B’n’B

  • Torrey Pines (beach + hike – no time!)
  • Hotel Del Coronado/outdoor mall (didn’t see)
  • San Diego Zoo (didn’t see)
  • Padres (can kind of say we saw Petco Park amidst Comic Con)
  • Potato chip rock (didn’t see)
  • Wind caves (didn’t see)
  • Legoland (didn’t see)
San Diego to Marfa-13 hours (7/23)-stay at Air B’n’B

  • Saw Prada Marfa and the creepy tethered balloon at night (yikes)
  • Stayed in an old train depot

Marfa to Austin-6 hours (7/24)-home:)
*see pics of this in my next blog!!!*

Another life update…

Several things have changed at Woodson – just in the time since I have graduated from high school (which wasn’t thattt long ago)…

  • Updated flooring
  • A big, heavy mat that the football guys use to practice rolls and tackling
  • Security cameras and fobs to unlock the outside doors
  • An intercom system
  • A second portable building for pre-K/K
  • New bell sounds (including funky dance music played when school dismisses)
  • Tutorial periods built into every morning and afternoon
  • New teachers, staff members and students (many in different rooms, too)

…but so many things are the same…

  • People still proudly wear black and gold.
  • The building still looks much like it always has on the outside, since being built in 1928.
  • We still call the our gyms the Old Gym and New Gym (though this is the New Gym’s 20th anniversary!).
  • There are dogs that everyone knows and loves, and we give them treats but also have to chase them off the football field during games at times.
  • You can turn to anyone for anything, and they will help you (Thanks to Mrs. Briles for teaching advice, Mrs. Matthiews for candy and Mrs. Lester for markers!).
  • We’re still a little family – just with a few different members – that works super hard, whether we are serving chili at Homecoming, driving bus routes after school, taking money at sporting events, decorating for school functions, counselling kids about love and life, spending our weekends and evenings at extracurricular functions, grading homework, making copies and lesson plans or researching new ways to present the correct information to students.

I ❤ Woodson ISD

I have been around education my entire life. My dad started out as a math teacher and head football and basketball coach then worked his way up to being principal and, eventually, superintendent. My mom has taught sixth grade, as well as family and consumer sciences, health and physical education classes. Almost all of this has been done at Woodson ISD, my second home. I started kindergarten there in 1997, as the “new” gym was being built on campus (right behind my house, since my family still lives in the school-owned, two-story house they moved into in 1991). I remember crying in Mrs. Bellah’s fourth grade classroom when my favorite childhood cat died. When 9/11 happened, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bundy, tried to explain to us what was going on. I graduated from WHS in 2009, after years of basketball, academic events, breakups and makeups and being taught everything from literature and exponents to lessons on how to be the best I can be and to bloom where I was planted.

Hook ‘Em

The University of Texas at Austin was my next stop for learning; as an 18 year old, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I started out in business, to be generic, realized that was not for me, began writing for The Daily Texan (one of the oldest and winningest college newspapers) and transferred into the school of communication, to study magazine journalism.

Adulthood

After graduating a semester early, I wasn’t in a school setting – but I was still learning! From 2012 to 2015, I had some amazing moments (started my own freelance marketing/writing business, attended New York Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities like Ryan Gosling and made many fun memories with friends and family) and some growing moments (like a quarter-life crisis, where I didn’t get a dream job – even with a degree from UT – so had to work six jobs and live paycheck to paycheck).

Back To Woodson

I heard that journalism was a dying art, but I was determined to make a living writing…but in the meantime, as a backup, I decided to get a teaching certificate. It seemed neat to pass my passion for writing and reading on to others, especially since I wasn’t finding that full-time magazine job I wanted. When I completed my training, there happened to be an English opening at a high school near me in Austin, so I applied and made it to the second round. When I didn’t get that, though, I heard that Woodson had an opening. I joked that I should apply…and then I did. I interviewed with the principal and teachers and was presented in front of the board and got the job! My at-the-time boyfriend, Tommy, and I picked up, left our friends and beloved ATX and moved to a small town so I could teach in an even smaller town.

My Thoughts On Teaching

Pros:

  • You do get to pass your passions on to others.
  • Your work schedule is nice, with long holiday and summer breaks (You still have to plan lessons and attend trainings – but it’s better than a 9-5 every.single.day.ever.).
  • I got to help with basketball.
  • I was surrounded by other creative and caring individuals.

Cons:

  • Not everyone loves writing and reading, but some people seem to love complaining about not loving it, which makes trying to get them to learn nearly impossible.
  • Even if you’re super organized like me, the preparation never ends, since there are state standards to adhere to and essays to grade and full lessons to plan…and some kids rush through assignments and some days bring substitute teachers, so you need back-up lessons…and some schools, such as the small WHS, need one teacher covering many areas, meaning planning for four different English levels + journalism + high school theater + junior high theater.

As said, I’ve always been around education, so I heard my parents’ stories of students and classes and TAAS/TAKS/STAAR and extracurriculars and inservice. I never thought I’d end up teaching, but I was SO excited to give back to Woodson, to share my knowledge and to use my experience/creativity/organization in the classroom and beyond.

However, here are some things people don’t realize…

  • People can be lazy and rude. Yes, different personalities and interests and people are what make our diverse world so neat. In a school setting, though, a certain level of effort and respect is expected. I know perfection is impossible – from anyone, in anything – but I was surprised at how many students seemed to not care about failing grades or bad attitudes. I know school can be challenging, and balancing activities + homework + life can be a lot; I was in this exact classroom not that long ago, though, and while several people failed tests and got d-hall (myself included, at times!), there was that level of effort/respect. We knew that we came to school to learn and work and study, so there was no point in complaining – just get it done! We joined the extracurricular activities we were interested in, and we showed up to practices and games, ready to work there, too, resulting in state championship football games and competitions/trips at Galveston and gold medals, blue ribbons and pride. This year’s volleyball team made it to the playoffs, and that’s the first time that any of these high school students have done that in anything; there are many factors that could play into this (tougher competition, changes in coaching staff, fewer players, etc.), but I have to wonder about the effort + success correlation.
  • Teaching is a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize the amount of behind-the-scenes details that go into this job – even someone like me, who saw Mom grade papers after the bell rang and had to wait on Dad to get home from practice/games/board meetings. The lovely STAAR test alone leads to certain things having to be taught to certain grades at certain times, all to try and pass this one test that keeps changing and getting harder. On top of that, there are normal concepts that each subject brings – such as making sure students understand fractions, commas, cells and the history of our country – and you have to find the textbook and worksheets and accompanying texts/papers and quizzes that go along with all of that. Finally, we are also responsible for instilling these young people with deeper lessons; there isn’t a state-issued list somewhere that says this, but a. students are sometimes with teachers more than their parents and b. at Woodson ISD specifically, we’re all taught character traits – like determination, honesty, punctuality and respect – and to “be the best we can be” (our school motto:).
  • Last but not least, Woodson’s population is only 296. There are less than 50 students in high school, and these students share a building with every grade, down to pre-K. Many of these kids are also bussed in from Graham and Breckenridge, as parents like having their children in more one-on-one settings and able to participate in more than one activity. As mentioned, with a smaller school and staff, your English teacher is also your UIL and OAP director and assistant basketball coach, and your principal and superintendent teach classes and coach teams, on top of all of their other responsibilities. This is how it’s always been, and for many years, Woodson had the same staff members, who were familiar with their jobs/roles and became family. Over the years, retirement and graduating children have brought in new, younger teachers – teachers who like starting out in smaller settings. Changes are going to happen in any school, and people move for numerous reasons. It can be said that Woodson is at a disadvantage, since we’re small and in the middle of nowhere and don’t have baseball. But we do have…
    • Exciting six-man football (State runners-up in 2008. State semi-finalists in 1980 & 2001. Quarterfinal champions & state runners-up in 1978 & 2007. Regional champions in 2006 & 2009. Bi- district champions in 1993, 1994, 1995 & 2000. District champions in 1957, 1960, 1967, 1973 & 1996. The boys’ teams saw success under Coach Gordon Thomas from 1992-2002, and under Coach Reece Walker from 2002-2008.)
    • A staff that hustles and cares (Do you know these people? You probably do, ha. They’re amazing.)
    • History (such as the town being named after J.O. Wood and his son, an impactful tornado, a railroad and a Japanese balloon bomb)
    • Awesome community members (and many are graduates of Woodson AND started booming businesses here – like Jones Trailer, BJB Transport and the Woodson Inn – where other current and ex-students work)
    • A high reputation (Woodson ISD was started by passionate people who hired other upstanding faculty members…members who helped make all the positive things mentioned in this very long piece possible…winning games and building a new gym and earning awards/praises from the state/surrounding schools and sending kiddos off to state competitions/top universities/high-paying jobs…and then possibly having them come back to spread some of that goodness around (i.e. Ashlee Sullivan, Kim Miller, Nanci Baxley, Melissa Vickers and Richard Sullivan).

Life Now

I don’t owe an explanation of why I came here, how I feel about it or what I will be doing now; but, as a writer, I wanted/needed to get all of this out. My now-husband, Tommy, is working to get job back in Austin – since we miss it terribly! – and my last day as a teacher at WHS was May 23. He actually fell in love with teaching when we were here, passed his content test with flying colors, spent the last year teaching at Olney and would love to be passing on his smarts to an ATX school. Since I started my own biz in 2012, I’ve kept that going on the side, and now it’s grown so much that I can write and tweet and blog and pitch publications all day, every day.

I loved being back at Woodson, and I look forward to continuing to give back to this amazing community, no matter where I end up or what I am doing. Thank YOU for helping to make Woodson so amazing, thank YOU for making the past two years so eventful, and thank YOU for taking even a tiny bit of inspiration from this and realizing that life is short, so we must bloom where we are planted and be the best we can be!

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just 10 things

  1. WOODSON, TEXAS: I’m from this town of 296, where my dad is the superintendent of the one school, which my brother and I started going to in kindergarten; we both graduated from WHS – and I only had seven people in my class. My mom was my sixth grade teacher and still teaches there – and I teach there now, too. No, we didn’t ride horses to school (I don’t even own a pair of boots.), but yes, I love this safe and comfortable home.
  2. WRITING: I remember asking my parents to buy me a tablet to write stories in when I was so young that some of my peers couldn’t even write complete sentences yet. English was always my favorite class in school, and I created my school’s newspaper and started contributing to my county’s weekly paper. I went on to major in journalism and write for publications like Austin Home, New York Resident and Us Weekly and cover events such as SXSW and New York Fashion Week. See where I’m currently writing via my online portfolio!
  3. AUSTIN, TEXAS: I attended the University of Texas at Austin and can still hardly believe I graduated from such an esteemed school. Though I’m away from ATX right now, I’ll be back, because I love it all: Alamo Drafthouse, Cathedral of Junk, Spiderhouse, Greenbelt, The Domain, Kerby Lane, Toy Joy, SoCo, the Veloway – See a complete list of my faves here😉
  4. MOVIES: I’ve always said my favorites are “A Walk to Remember the Titans”, combining two that I love. My family and I loveee going to the theater (mainly for popcorn and previews, amiright?), and if a movie can freak me out (in a scary or mind-blowing way (like “Predestination”…WaTcH!), I love it even more.
  5. FASHION: I always joked that when I die, I want to be cremated and spread around a mall, because I can’t get enough of new trends, window displays, glossy magazines, fashion blogs, “Project Runway”, fashion boards on Pinterest and buying new accessories/outfits!
  6. TRAVEL: I am used to making 28-hour drives to different states and have visited over half of them – and maybe a third of the baseball parks in the U.S. The only places I’ve visited internationally are Cologne, Germany, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (loved both…can’t wait to see morrre).
  7. CATS: I’ve probably owned about 75 cats, but right now, my husband and I are happily raising Catalina Crookshanks. I’ve also adopted a polar bear, and penguins = mine and Tommy’s spirit animals. Fourth fave animal = unicorn;)
  8. GLITTER: Everything is better with glitter (just look at this blog title and/or ask Ke$ha;)
  9. LOVE: I really really really do try to show love to all – why wouldn’t you? We’re all stuck on this rock together, so be nice/spread peace! Thankfully, it’s super easy to love my loved, because gawww, they’re amazing…like tooooo good to me.
  10. LIFE: Speaking of being on this rock together, remember that it’s all about balance and perspective and blooming where you’re planted and being the best you can be and breathing and finding your passion/sharing it with others and being you and laughing until you cry!
    • Balance: You will have amazing moments of triumph and happiness, as well as horrible moments of stress and sadness. Through it all, you can eat chocolate when you’re sad and happy and dream about the future while still making the most of the present. Everything in moderation, with your head on straight.
    • Perspective: When those sad moments occur, try try try to find the silver lining. Know that everyone deals with loss. And when you’re overjoyed, know that there’s a time for everything, and even good things must come to an end. ALSO, I say these mantras over and over, but I just decided to change this one to “bird’s-eye view”, so that they all start with “B”!
    • Bloom Where You’re Planted: How many times have I blogged about this? My high school English teacher drilled this into my brain, and now, I have it hung in my house and sneak it into my English lessons. You are where you are. Will you always be there? Probably not – since we’re always in a state of motion, with moves and career changes and marriage and etc. So wherever you are and wherever you end up, do your best in that very place.
      • ALSO, I’ve written a good deal about this state of motion: I used to say that life was all about waiting – We wait in lines and drive-thrus. We wait for our alarms to go off, our coffee to brew…for work to start and then be over…then wait until it’s time for dinner, bed and it all to start again.
      • Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that it’s all about change, too; my bff and I feel like we’re always…well…waiting for the next big thing! As we wait and move forward, we encounter these big life events, such as graduating college, finding a full-time gig, getting married, buying a house and having kids. I guess it isss exciting that there’s always something to look forward to…It just seems like the in-between (the “upside-down” I – and other “Stranger Things” fans – may call it) time is just…there – and this time of limbo just flies by!
      • So enjoy those little moments that do make you laugh until you cry, which can be filled with things as simple as going for a walk, stretching as you get out of bed, cuddling with your cat and this.
    • Be The  Best You Can Be: The Woodson ISD motto is a good one, and it’s simple (So why do we complicate things?): Be the best human you can be. Do your very best at every single thing you do. Period. Yay.

P.S. – Happy six-year dating anniversary to my husband, Thomas Wayne Baze. ❤

The YouTube Videos You Haveee To Watch

DYK…

YouTube was started by PayPal employees

The website was activated on Feb. 14, 2005

It was purchased by Google in 2006, the same year it won a “Person of the Year” award from TimeYouTube

1,300,000,000 people use the site

300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

Almost 5 billion videos are watched there daily

…according to this site…which is why I wanted to highlight and honor my favorite videos (and channels!) from perhaps the most popular website out there.

David Foster Wallace gave an amazing commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005, and this inspirational video explains it all in a way that will make you realize that life is short, that being happy is key, that pain happens, that “This Is Water“.

Image result for this is water

This adorable little girl reacting to the “Jaws” theme song is all you need.

Image result for little girl reacts to jaws

One of the best scenes from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is when Dennis and Mac try to help Charlie make a dating profile; this animated version of it is possibly better than the original.

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The Sticky Buddy is a well-known made-for-TV product…and now, this dub is even more popular than the item itself.

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I think I was late to the YouTube game, because Salad Fingers is one of the first I remember even seeing (the first ever may have been “Old Greg” – ha).

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If you love stereotypes and workplace scenes set in the 90s, you’ll love Bigoted Bill!

bigoted_bill_t

And lucky number seven is my favorite YouTube video of all time. It’s brilliant. It’s beautiful. It’ll blow your mind.

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Best Channels To Follow:

ShoeOnHead: An adorable feminist who tells it like it is

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: June 19 is the best day, because that’s when this crazy-creative channel delivers another weird video.

h3h3Productions: We ❤ Ethan & Hila

The Eric Andre Show: wutttttt

Hot Ones: Sure, I like wings and hot sauce, but I love watching Sean interview celebs who are sweating and crying in pain.

P.S. – Anything cat-related is obviously highly recommended here, too;)

P.P.S. – The top weirdest videos – the ones you just can’t look away from – are…

this

and

this.

(You’re welcome/I’m sorry!)

End-of-the-Year Inspo

As a journalist – and, furthermore, as a journalist who would rather report on DIY trends and celebrity outfits rather than hard-hitting headlines – I’m fascinated by BuzzFeed. As a 20-something who needs something to do while Netflixing, I’m drawn in by the quizzes, click-bait titles and endless posts on relevant topics…but on a larger level, I just love what the site offers: real news stories (Only one of my journalism students says she keeps up with what’s happening in the world regularly, and she does this through BuzzFeed.)…entertainment galore (Anyone from anywhere at any age can find something they’ll enjoy here!)…and the added bonuses (Through movie quizzes, I’m introduced to new things to add to my must-watch list. Through lists of products, I come up with amazing Christmas gift ideas. And through posts like the following, I’m inspired…:)

"Life doesn't happen to you, it happens for you."

Who: Jim Carrey

What: Commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management

When: 2014

Why this speech was so inspirational: “And when I say, ‘Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you’, I really don’t know if that’s true. I’m just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way.”

How to apply this to life: The funny man is right; we don’t know the meaning of life or the purpose of living, but we’re in control of our thoughts and actions and lives, so actively view things positively, always strive to overcome, and remember that everyone is fighting a battle, & how we handle these challenges speaks volumes.

"This is water."

Who: David Foster Wallace

What: Commencement address at Kenyon College

When: 2005

Why this speech was so inspirational: A speech, book and YouTube video help listeners/readers/viewers understand that the ability of an old, wise fish to be aware of the water in which he swims is a metaphor for the conscious, self-aware, mindful existence Wallace is trying to encourage.

How to apply this to life: I’ve been obsessed with this for years, after stumbling upon the video, because awareness is key. Even if you don’t consider yourself “mindful”, and even if you don’t have a husband who made you read Nietzsche, you should always be thinking about who you are, where you are, what you should be doing, how you are doing and so on. These random check-ins will change your life (and I have a pretty little presentation I just made for my students on this, if you want me to send you a copy:).

"Just be Stevie Nicks."

Who: Tavi Gevinson

What: TED Talk – “A Teen Just Trying to Figure It Out

Why this talk was so inspirational: The talk is about what it means to be a feminist, a teenage girl, and the complex struggle of being both at the same time.

How to apply this to life: Again, even if you’re not a feminist or a teen or a female OR a Fleetwood Mac fan…Go research the chick, rent a hippie van, try on some fringe, and just go with it for a bit ;p

"It's okay that we're not perfect."

Who: Marina Abramović

What: TED Talk – “An Art Made of Trust, Vulnerability and Connection

When: 2015

Why this talk was so inspirational: This artist speaks a lot about her work and the public’s perception of her after experiencing it. This is just one stand-out quote that everyone needs to hear: “It’s okay that we’re not perfect. It’s okay that we all have problems. It’s okay to cry, to show emotions”.

How to apply this to life: Cry! Love yourself! Fully, 100 percent accept that no one is perfect. How boring would it be if we were all picture-perfect little robots?! It’s good to want a healthy dose of perfection and goodness, but be gentle with yourself, okay?

"I am. I am. I am."
Who: Sylvia Plath

What: The Bell Jar

Why this book was so inspirational: We know this read is a bit dark, but…“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”

How to apply this to life: As mentioned, be you. Check in on you. Love you. Listen to you. Breathe. Smile. BE. LIVE.

"When you're ready to wake up, you're going to wake up."
Who: Alan Watts

What: The Real You

When: 1915 

Why this quote was so inspirational: He was a philosopher for a reason, with his inspiration to stop feeling sorry for yourself and make some kind of change.

How to apply this to life: …Stop feeling sorry for yourself and make some kind of change!

"Everything is amazing right now and nobody is happy."
Who: Louis CK

What: low-key rant on Conan

Why this rant was so inspirational: If you really listen to it, it should give you a different perspective on a few things, including your desire to whine about long flights.

How to apply this to life: Life. Is. Amazing. Yes, bad things happen. Sure, there will be days when everything goes wrong. And – unfortunately – there will be moments when you’d rather sit in traffic for eternity rather than deal with loss, sadness and pain. It’s all about balance and perspective, though. Will the sun still come out tomorrow? Do you still have all your memories and talents and goals? Are you blooming where you are planted?

present.

This time of the year is one of my favorites, with Tommy’s birthday, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, then Christmas and the new year – a time filled with lots of presents!

However, this post isn’t about gifts wrapped up with shiny bows; it’s about being PRESENT.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and stress and OCD-tendencies for as long as I can remember. There are ways to cope with any situation/problem, but that can be tough in a world full of photoshopped models, egotistical/competitive ways on social media and the desire to just want to be a normal, content, attractive, happy-go-lucky, loved human being!

Many of my blog posts (and Instagram posts and almost-finished books and thoughts) are about perspective and blessings; no one has it perfectly, and even on your worst day, you can look to your left, right or through your Facebook feed and see someone who is suffering far worse – with loss or illness or war or famine (Remember that, students and Bri and reader!).

If you haven’t realized by now, bad things will happen – and it’s all about how you deal with them. Do you deal with them at all? Do you make matters worse? Sometimes, we just need a reminder that life is short, so why not actually/really/honestly live it to the fullest?

Since my husband is a trainer and my dad is a coach, I’ve always worked out, but only recently have I been super dedicated – cutting out sweets, hitting the gym every single day of the week, pushing myself to my limits, not complaining about the sweat and seeing results!

When I put this dedication/drive to use in other areas of my life…I created amazing year-long lesson plans for all eight of the classes I teach. I even had time to help Tommy with his. Much to everyone’s surprise, I have started cooking more. I’ve been making the effort to compliment people and let them know how special they are. Most importantly, I’ve been focusing on just being the best overall me – and it helps to be present.

In any given moment, you could be thinking about or doing a bazillion different things; if you stop, breathe, put down the phone and look around, however, you’ll notice…A. the beauty of nature B. that wobbly table that you could fix (And won’t your significant other be so proud/glad?!) C. someone’s cute haircut to compliment D. that the worry of the past and the anxiety of the future and the stressors you may be feeling about that to-do list or work or life…none of that matters. Sure, it’s good to be responsible and conscientious – but don’t make yourself sick! Don’t live in the past! Don’t let the present pass you by because you’re too busy wondering what tomorrow will bring!

I bet that if you look around right now, in this very moment we’re in, you’ll see several things you should be thankful for – and that perspective on the present is a wonderful thing…just like you.:)

P.S. – Check out these 101 ways to #livelifetothefullest!

The Upside Down

I feel like recently and regularly, my blog posts are combinations of all my recent thoughts/Instagram posts; I’m a very introspective person, and when I don’t have money for a therapist or time for yoga, I get my feelings out through inspirational social media images…and then recap all of that here.

My initial reaction for starting this particular post would be to lead with this: It’s been a weird year, to say the least.

…but – on the other hand – I could ask, “Has it?”

I mean…what makes something “weird”, especially a time in life? Sure, moving and starting a new career and and getting married and all that jazz have been out of the ordinary, compared to my past few years, but moving in general and teaching students period…Not so strange. These things happen every single day.

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So, this leads me to think that it’s just me; I’m weird for thinking it’s weird (getting a little meta, I know). I’m probably overthinking and overreacting and should just go with the flow.

BUT…

(bear with me)

What even isss going with the flow? We’re all here, to live life, on this rock, and we get to choose how/where/with whom we spend that time. And I like to think I soak it all in as much as possible…but I’d also love to say I’m a carefree person…yet I schedule and freak out and plan out possible and impossible scenarios – just in case.

I feel like I should segue now into what my high school English teacher used to tell me: Whatever you’re going through is real, for you, right now. Freaking out about a high school boyfriend or a new job or a bad day may seem selfish, since there are actual problems in the world…but those bigger, worse problems don’t necessarily affect us daily…while at-home, real-life situations do…which is why freaking out makes sense (to an extent).

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Ugh, okay, done – How exhausting!

Let’s move on………

Here are current things I’m stressing/worrying about and why I should/shouldn’t (feel free to offer up any advice at any point;)…

#1: I’m tired.

#2: I don’t get to write enough.

#3: This is reminding me of a previous/similar blog, where I had to remind people that I’m not just being a whiny baby.

#4: I’m not the best teacher in the world.

#5: I’m not the best wife in the world.

#6: I’m a teacher and a wife (wutttt).

#7: I care far too much about what others think of me.

#8: I constantly struggle with kismet, and if I should just make bigger decisions and move again, because I’m not sure if I should live here or in Austin or in New York or beyond.

#9: When I’m not sure what to do with my time, I automatically think, “It’s time for a new IG post/blog!” … though only, like, four people will read this … though, that’s okay, since it makes ME feel better … ???

#10: I think I care too much about “ME” (yet I struggle with self-love…but we all do, to a certain point…Right?!).

I think, inside of us all, there’s a hippie, a free spirit who would love to get carried away by the wind and the music in his/her head and just live life – traveling and exploring and reading and looking at the stars and learning new things.

In reality, though, there are bills and responsibilities. We get tied down by commitments and relationships and fear – which is good and bad.

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It seems like many of my posts trail in to the whole “life is short, so live it well” thing…and it’s true…but I’m too tired to write on that. I’m too confused to discuss the make money vs. be happy debate. And I’m too inexperienced to blab on about why we’re here and what we should be doing.

All I know is this: I’m in control of my life. I make my own decisions. If the majority of me wants to work hard at a job that helps to pay the bills and helps to feed my online shopping obsession, then that’s what I’ll do. If part of me needs to escape now and then, and just talk with friends around a fire or roadtrip to the beach or hide in a fort with my best friend, then I’ll do that, too.

I’m one person, trying her best to be happy and to make others happy. Sure, I fail, and at times, I upset people and get super stressed and get into fights and freak out. But then I breathe, refocus, get up, dust myself off, and keep on trucking…because I have/need/want to do so.

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So I write to remind myself to be the best I can be: the best wife and teacher and friend and daughter and work-outer and sister and employee and customer and blogger and human…because…why not?

P.S. – Have you watched “Stranger Things” yet? You should! I stole my title from there, since “the upside down” is this alternate reality…kind of like the one in my head; when I get into those funks of “what is life” and “am I doing enough” and “stop being so whiny…but care a little more, too”, I’ve decided to refer to that as The Upside Down – a place where I may think too much but where I always come out better and more driven…so visit it, if you dare or if only to realize that you should love you!

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blahblahhblahhh.

ICYMI, my brain is always going and going and going – even when it shouldn’t be. I just re-read my last blog post, and as I combined those thoughts with some conversations I recently had with students, I came to the following conclusions:

Life is short; I think we can all agree on that.

Therefore, if we want to spend our time on this rock adopting cats, attempting to write multiple best-selling novels and watching Real Housewives while eating desserts…that is totally fine.

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To take all these thoughts further, though, I realize I should constantly be striving to be a better version of me…right? We’re under pressure – whether that be from the media or people around us we feel judged by or from ourselves – to be attractive and kind and brilliant and fun and funny…but not too hot or overly nice or nerdy or too outgoing or obnoxiously hilarious.

This year, I feel like I’ve been in a sort of limbo, and I have been thinking a lot about who I am and what that means and if how I come across is correct or acceptable or even okayish. Furthermore, since I’m now a teacher and a wife (weird), I feel like I have to be even more on my toes…yet I still need to be myself…so I should keep living my life in ways I enjoy…but I also need to always be inspiring and educating and pushing these other people…then theyyy can live life in great ways…and thennn motivate others to do the same.

ALSOOO…

Since I wrote the first part of this blog post, I’ve had numerous other similar conversations, such as…

a. Did you know that 20 percent of people in their 20s and early 30s are currently living with their parents and that 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from parents? Is this bad…or does this say something about today’s educational system (Hello, never-ending student loan debt) and workforce (Entry-level requirements = 10 years in a similar position – But how??)?

b. Did you know that moving back to your hometown – whether you live with your parents or not – can feel super strange, especially if you’re surrounded by people who used to be in your life, then weren’t but now kinda are…? (It’s bittersweet – Just ask me, my bff who’s in a similar situation and this BuzzFeed writer)

c. Did you know that our generation is okay with spending the majority of free time using Instagram and Netflix? Yes, it’s good to have hobbies and get outside and take tech breaks, and doing such things is easier if you live in a city or are surrounded by fun people or don’t mind getting out of your introvert comfort bubble. I am a homebody, and I admit to liking my cat more than most people – but I also travel and read and go play basketball and grab frequent drinks with people. Therefore, I think there needs to be a balance, because it’s become “cool” to be this person who never leaves home and is disgusted by everyone…but when that starts transcending into real life…and leading to unmotivated students, grouchy employees, rude people and to boring/uninspirational people in general…that’s a problem.

Okay, crazy thoughts over! What do YOU think we should focus on while here? How do YOU cope with a million thoughts/pressure/life? What do YOU think about the whole “I hate people” syndrome? When do YOU want to come watch Housewives with me? 😉

I’ll Tell You What I Want…

I hope

that I get to be creative every day for the rest of my life.

that my boyfriend and I are still cool bffs 70 years from now.

polar bears don’t go extinct.

more truly scary movies come out.

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I dream

of publishing at least one book.

of being famous…or at least rubbing shoulders with even more famous people (since 148 = not enough).

that my teeth fall out.

of traveling the world with my loved ones.

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I aspire to be

better than I am.

a happy and healthy mother (to possibly many children, all fabulously dressed).

excited to wake up 87 percent of the time, ready to conquer the day, in some way/shape/form.

someone people enjoy being around and writing letters to.

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I wish I could

get my points across better.

live multiple lives.

pay off student loans faster.

adopt/save every cat out there.

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Go with the flow, open your eyes, and other life lessons from a “wise, old, mature” 20-something

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We could argue for a while about the meaning of life and what makes the world go ’round, but in the quarter of a century I’ve been on this rock (which moves around due to gravity, I think), I would sum it all up with one word: PERSPECTIVE.

Here are some scenarios that back this up…

Example #1:

You’re having “one of those days;” you broke a nail (opening the mail), were late to work (and the boss got smart) because you had to get gas, etc. You could either get in a funk – which is easy to do, since we’re used to our routines – or change your perspective: Be glad you have a job to go to, a car to drive and all your fingers and toes. Or grab lunch with a friend – one you’ve been planning to meet up with – for a mid-day pick-me-up session.

Example #2: 

On the topic of “the meaning of life” in particular, I think perspective is key; no matter your beliefs, it IS smart to “love your neighbor as yourself” and “turn the other cheek.” Having a positive outlook on life – one that causes you to be kind to everyone, not seek out ways to hurt others and patiently love, no matter how annoying the person or situation – seems like a smart thing for everyone, right?

Example #3:

This one is a bit more personal, and I’ll try not to rant or step on toes; I’m very proud of where I came from, and I’m a very nostalgic person. Growing up in Small Town, Texas, I heard many complain about how they couldn’t wait to leave our town and never come back…yet, upon graduating, many never left. This is another case of perspective, especially since high school students are not known for wise decisions and sound reasoning. To a 14-year-old kid, sure – a town of 300 can get pretty boring. If that kid was born there and attended K-12 there, though, it could be hard to fly from the nest after school. Furthermore, if that kid marries his/her high school sweetheart, they both could realize how nice a small town would be for raising kids. And wa-lah…Perspective changed!

Wrap-Up Time:

Before you freak out or judge others or move away…before you get into an argument, decide to give up or break up or hook up…before you get your mind and heart and values completely set in stone…Just step back and look at everything with a new PERSPECTIVE. No matter the dilemma or decision, I suggest a little sleep and a little time. Then – if you’re like me – you’ll over-think it then quickly realize you shouldn’t think at all. After all of this, you’ll either feel the same – the apparent “correct” perspective – or have completely changed your mind – for good or bad.

Either way, you will have opened your eyes to new things, and being open to change is actually a pretty positive thing, since life is full of ebbs and flows…It just depends on how you view it all…

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