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Monday, July 31, 2017

East Coast Road Trip: Founders Inn & Spa.

When Sam and I first started planning our road trip, we looked at a map of the east coast and all the places we could go. We landed on Virginia Beach because one, I'd never been, and two, it was far enough away from Florida to be completely different, but we could still make it there in a day. From there, we found Founders Inn & Spa and knew that's where we wanted to kick off our trip. 

We fangirled a little bit when we pulled into the parking lot (can you fangirl a resort? Because we did) because from the moment we pulled on the grounds, it was the most beautiful place. So green and gorgeous and historic without feeling stuffy. 

We'd been joking about how fun it is to grow up from college life to post-college life together. When we first became friends in college, a girls weekend looked something like Netflix and Taco Bell, and maybe a trip to Target if we'd gotten paid that week. It's fun to go from that to being able to treat yourself to a real girls weekend (thank you, real life jobs), and this place was the definition of treat yourself. 

Aside from being the most beautiful place ever, they had a pool, a hot tub, a spa, a bar, two restauarants...see what I mean? Treat-yourself-perfection.

We'd been in the car for hours, so after we checked-in, we headed straight for the pool. It was magical. There's all this beautiful forest around, and then bam, a giant pool right in the middle of it. It was gorgeous.

We left the pool refreshed and ready to take on the night. We got dressed up, took a bunch of selfies, and headed to dinner. 

Now, if you're anything like me, you'll understand how you can be at the most beautiful place in the world and walk away saying dinner was your favorite part. Let me explain: At The Swan Terrace (the on-site restaurant), we ordered sangria. The sangria came with a SCOOP OF SORBET FLOATING IN IT. I will never forget this drink as long as I live, and will maybe go back to Virginia just for this. Needless to say, me and Sam and our ice cream sangrias had the best time at dinner. 

We had planned on going out and exploring the town that night, but we left dinner so full, we decided to cozy up in the room, order chocolate covered strawberries and champagne (because we're fancy on girls' trips), and watch TV and talk about life. It was relaxing and perfect and exactly what we needed. 

After the best sleep ever (something I don't normally say when I'm not sleeping in my own bed), we got up and went right back to The Swan Terrace, only this time, for breakfast. And coffee. All the coffee. The breakfast was delicious, the coffee was life-giving (only a slight exaggeration), and it was the perfect start to our day in Virginia Beach. 

We had planned on getting an early start on exploring the city, but this place was so pretty, we stayed behind and walked around and took pictures for a few hours. Because, this: 

And this: 

And this: 

If you're looking to have a little getaway soon (especially a girls trip), I cannot recommend Founders Inn & Spa enough. Everything about it was perfect. We were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived, and everything about this place went above and beyond my expectations. We loved it so much, I know it won't be long before we're planning another trip there. 

I received a free stay in exchange for an honest review of our trip. I would never recommend something I didn't truly love, and this is no exception. I adored our stay here and cannot recommend it highly enough! 
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Friday, July 28, 2017

What July Taught Me.

To just freaking go. If you follow me on here or anywhere else, this one's pretty obvious. But I did a lot of just going this month, and it was so worth it. SO WORTH IT. I wrote a full post about it here, but in summary: Life is short. If you want adventure, go get it. It's rarely easy, it's almost always worth it. 

To invite people into my mess. I am messy. My hair is always messy, my house is always messy, my life is pretty messy. And there's this underlying, daily pressure to clean it all up for everyone else. But this month showed me, that's crap.

I wrote a very messy post on faith, and heard a resounding me too back. Not, oh wow, you need to get it together.

Life is messy. The best people are messy. I'm lucky to be surrounded by some really great people who said "What took you so long?" When I invited them into my mess, instead of saying, "Ooh girl, you need to clean this up." Guys. Be that kind of friend. 

To (try to) see every day as an incredible moment I'll never have again. A lot of my month was spent traveling and adventuring and exploring. But a lot of it was spent getting work done, soothing a sick toddler, grocery shopping, responding to overdue emails, and doing mundane things like laundry. When you're on a trip, it's easy to view things through the lens of, "I want to enjoy this before it's over." It's easy to stay up late, to drive the extra miles, to spend the extra money, because you know that this is a limited time offer, and you want to soak up all of those incredible moments before they're gone. 

But truly, every day is a series of moments you only get once. So I'm trying to view every day like that. And trying to bring some of hungry-for-life energy traveling gives me over to my daily life. 

What did this month teach you?
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Road Trip Essentials.

From my house to our destination (Founders Inn and Spa...the most gorgeous place that I can't wait to tell you about!) was a 10-hour car ride. So it's safe to say, I now consider myself a professional when it comes to road tripping. These are the things I either found myself super happy we thought to bring or really wishing we had thought to bring. 

CAR CHARGER. I cannot stress this enough. I also cannot stress enough that you should start charging your phone before it is dead. Otherwise, you will spend hours taking turns passing the charger back and forth just trying to get above 5% so that you can use maps again. 

BABY WIPES. File this under things I didn't know before Jack was in the picture-these suckers work for almost anything. Spill something in the car? Baby wipe. Sketchy bathroom water was broken so now your hands are covered in soap? Baby wipe. 

FACE WASH WIPES. Because there will come a point when you really just want to take a seven-hour long shower and this is the second-best thing. Pro-tip: The Target brand I linked here is literally half the price and works just as well. 

COOLER. Because do you know how much water costs at said sketchy gas stations? No thank you. Bring your own. 

HAIR TIES. Because even in a car with two girls, there was a hair tie shortage. 

BOBBY PINS. See above. 

AIR FRESHENER. No one's car smells good after a road trip. Get ahead of the game. 

TIDE TO-GO. Because you will make the questionable decision to stop for nachos while wearing white. 

FLIP-FLOPS. Speaking of questionable decisions...I wanted to look cute in our pictures so I thought it would be a good idea to wear NEW SHOES walking all over a city (my feet are still crying). Have a pair of flip-flops accessible, you won't regret it. 

Honorable mention: Trash bags! We had So. Much. Trash. 
What am I missing? What are your essentials?! 
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Some Honest Thoughts on Faith.

The last year (give or take) has, hands down, been the most difficult, heart-wrenching, frustrating, doubt-inducing year I’ve experienced. 

And, as much as I hate when people say things like that and then follow up with vagueness (because I want DETAILS, you guys), since many of the circumstances that led to that have other people as the main characters, that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do. 

But trust me, it has been a year. Full of good days, yes, but also full of days that kind of sent me into a tailspin emotionally. A doubt-filled, angry, confused, emotional tailspin. 

Told you I’d always be honest around here. 

It seems contrite to, as an adult, say “but why do bad things happen?” Because they do. They always happen. And there’s always something worse happening somewhere else to someone else. But still, in the thick of it, so many times this year I asked, “but why do bad things happen?” 

It is hard to reconcile the God you learned about as a child, the one you were supposed to pray to when someone was sick so He could make them better, the one you were supposed to ask for the things you needed so He could give them to you, with a God who lets bad things happen, who I’m supposed to believe could have stopped something horrible from happening, but didn’t. It is hard to believe and have faith in someone but at the same time feel let down by them. 

In October, I heard this song:

“To be honest, I don’t feel like singing. To be honest, I don’t hear your voice. . .I know you love me, but it doesn’t feel that way, feels like I’m drowning. Jesus, feels like you’re sleeping on the boat in the middle of the storm, and I’m banging down your door. Jesus, you command the wind and waves, so I’m begging you to wake and do what only you can do.”

That became my anthem this year. And it may sound strange to say that my anthem wasn’t one of positivity, or one of “it’s all gonna be okay!” but it wasn’t. It was a song that simply said, over and over, HEY I’M DROWNING OVER HERE WILL YOU PLEASE WAKE UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.  

I really felt compelled to write about this, not because I have answers (literally, I have none. Approximately zero answers) but because I don’t. And I think that's okay. 

I think that faith in God is a journey. While you're here on earth, I don't think you ever really arrive at the end. I think that questions and honesty (and yeah, doubt too) are an important part of anything worth having. 

I want you to know that I'm not writing about my faith from the perspective of someone speaking from perfected hindsight. I'm writing from the perspective of someone who has to catch their breath when they think of some of the awful things that have happened this year. From the perspective of someone who automatically brings my hand up to my chest when talking about some things, because just the memory of the pure anxiety they made me feel causes my chest to physically ache. I don’t think that I will ever look at that season and think, “Ah, yes, I see why that happened the way it did.” Or, “I’m a better person for those things happening.” 

I just want you to know that questioning something and giving up on it are two very different things. 

The biggest gift this year has given me is the confidence and comfortability to look at God and say, "Hey. I have questions. And I'm really upset. And I don't understand. And I am full of doubt today." Because I truly imagine His response being, "I love you. Why don't you sit down, let's talk about it."

I want you to know that you’re not a bad Christian because you have doubts. 

I find it incredibly frustrating that more people don't talk about their doubt. About their question-filled seasons. And I totally get why! It's scary to be vulnerable and open up in a way that shows you aren't the buttoned-up, totally trusting, understanding version of Christianity that is most often displayed. But goodness, what a gift it is to know we're not alone. I want you to know, if you're questioning your faith, you're not alone. 

I want you to know that several times this year I have sat in my car and yelled and cursed while talking to God. That may seem a bit taboo to say, but it’s true. Sometimes, my "prayers" were simply, what the hell, what the hell, what the hell? I’ve sobbed into my steering wheel and said that I was angry for what He was allowing to happen. I have very openly blamed Him for many, many bad things. And I can confidently say that I don’t think any of that makes me a “bad Christian.” I don’t think that any of that makes God love me any less. I know that it doesn’t. 

So this is me, putting it out there, saying hey, I have questions too. And doubts. Big ones. So if you do too, you’re not alone. I love Jesus, and I am very confused and filled with doubt by a lot of the things I have seen happen this year. The two are not mutually exclusive. It's my personal belief that God is big enough to handle my doubts, my questions, my tears, my sobbed curse words. 

If my best friend was going through something, I would so much rather her sit in the car with me and scream and cry and tell me everything than to sit and pretend everything was perfect. I would want her to trust me with her honesty, no matter what it sounded like. Doesn't God deserve the same? I think so. 

So if you need to sit in your car and scream and curse and just lose your mind for a little bit, you should do it. Truly, it might be your first step to real, honest faith.  I don’t think God minds at all.  

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I Always Want to Remember 2017: Parts 5, 6, & 7.

Some solid life advice for you: If you're having a bad day/week/month, or you feel like things aren't going the best for you, or you feel like life has been just kind of blah lately, pull out your phone and look through your pictures. Chances are, there's a few-hundred tiny moments you're forgetting about because they didn't seem like a big deal at the time. 

Here are mine! I...

Bought this magical mermaid sweat-shirt, which I wear at least a few times a week, because even mermaids get cold.  

Introduced Jack to fried okra and sweet tea.

Flew to Oklahoma to help my childhood best friend pick out a wedding dress.

Celebrated my second mother's day as this little munchkin's mom. 

Finished S-Town...SO GOOD.

Took Jack on his first big vacation and turned him into a full-on beach baby. 

Celebrated my little brother's 21st birthday, which is odd considering I SWEAR he's still only ten years old. Dear time, what the heck are you doing?!

Took Jack to a splash pad and he LOVED it. Also had a big mom fail when I didn't realize there was chlorine in the water and I didn't wash his eyes out. This resulted in me pulling over on the side of the road and dumping a bottle of water in his eyes, which I'm pretty sure made him forget about all of the fun he just had. You win some, you lose some. 

Had lots of pool dates with my main squeeze. 

Took Jack to the zoo for the first time! 

Got real fancy for a date with Sam and learned that the true test of friendship is if someone will cut you out of your clothes or not. If you watched my Instagram story the next day, you know what I'm talking about. If not...well, sorry.

Bought Jack a tee-ball set and learned that he is VERY concerned with making sure the ball stays right there while he snuggles the bat. 

Took Jack for ice cream for the first time. It was adorable, and also incredibly messy.

Found my new favorite dress and realized Jack has learned how to smile for the camera.

Was sneak-attacked by this vicious lap dog who thinks he weighs about five pounds. My parents got him after I moved out, but he still claims me as his. 

Found Gainesville's BEST thrift store and spent the day thrifting and making Sam take my picture in the parking lot, because that's what real friends do. 

Took a road trip with my little brother and watched Jack decide he likes him more than he likes me. Also, got a billion messages from you guys asking if this was my secret boyfriend. Pro-tip: If you DO happen to have a secret boyfriend, I'm guessing it's probably not the best idea to post his picture on instagram. Just a thought. 

Went road trip supply shopping with Sam and ended up buying all the clothes instead. 

Dyed my hair pink.

Took off to Virginia Beach on the best road trip ever...more of that coming at you this week. 

See how full those tiny moments can make your life?

What do you always want to remember from the last few months?

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Monday, July 17, 2017

It's Worth the Hassle.

I'm back from the best road trip ever, and I can't wait to write all about it and post entirely too many pictures. But today, I just wanted to pop in with a little peptalk about what this trip taught me. 

It would have been easier to not go. It would have been easier to not find childcare and not drive all of the miles and spend all of the money. I'd be better rested today had I stayed home. Maybe I'd be over this sore throat that's been hanging around for three weeks. It would have been easier to say, "Let's try for next year!" But then the last five days wouldn't have happened, and I wouldn't have woken up today feeling so full of life. 

Yeah, I'm exhausted, but I also had one of the most adventurous weeks of my life with one of my best friends. We made a thousand memories that I know we'll re-tell over and over and laugh about for years to come. And when I think about living a full life, that's what I think about. Not being well-rested and having lots of money saved and being ahead on my to-do list, but having an overflow of laughter-inducing memories with friends, adventures worth dreaming about, making slightly questionable decisions that turn into the best stories. 

There's a lot of focus on self-care lately, the kind where you take bubble baths and lounge around in your PJs watching Netflix. And yes, that's so important. But honestly, I think this is another kind of self-care. Getting out and being adventurous and reminding yourself that you are alive, that you've got a life to live and fill with stories and memories and adventures. 

So if you've been thinking about doing something lately-whether it's going on a road trip or starting a new business venture or putting yourself out there in a new way-and are wondering if it's worth all the extra hassle, maybe it is. Maybe you'll have the best week of your life. Maybe all those late nights getting ready to launch your new business will be worth it. Maybe that first date will turn into something wonderful. Maybe that vacation will end up being just what you need. 

It will always be easier not to. But easy and amazing aren't the same things. 

And, after all, you'll never know if you don't just go for it. 
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ten Ways I'm Trying to Become a Better Person.

I am 100% of the belief that you can become a better person. Just like you can become a better writer, or a better tennis player, or a better cook. If something is important to you, you'll put the effort in, and being a good human is important to me. Here are some ways I'm trying to get better at it. 

1. I'm trying to let little things bother me less. The other day, I burnt a piece of chicken I was cooking and then knocked over a glass of water. I said, out loud to myself, "What a crappy night." And then actually laughed at myself, because, seriously? If I'm going to be the kind of person who lets some spilled water ruin their night, I'm going to have a pretty miserable existence. So none of that! 

2. Saying less of "here I am" and more of "there you are!" For as long as I can remember, my mom has said there are two types of people: People who walk in a room and say HERE I AM! And people who walk in a room and say, "There you are!" I want to be the second person. 

3. Eating better and working out. Plain and simple, this is making me a better person physically. It's important!

4. Making space for people. When I first started doing the Yoga with Adriene videos, she would always say "The goal here is to create space" and it would drive me crazy. Because there's only so much space, it already exists, and I cannot make more. What kind of hippie nonsense is this? But the more I did it, the more I got it, and the more I see how it translates over to real life. 

You only have so much space in your life, but you get to move it around and manipulate it to fit where you want it and choose who gets to take it up. And I want to choose to create space for the people who matter. I want to create space for my friends to call me if they're having a bad day. Space for people to be able to ask for my help. Space for canceled plans in order for me to be there for my people. 

5. Consciously choosing kindness. I consider myself to be a pretty kind person. And yes, it would be awesome if I was always automatically kind without even thinking about it, but that's not always the case. So I'm working on thinking about it. Actually waking up and deciding to be kind. Taking a breath in the heat of a frustrating moment and actively choosing kindness. 

6. Less judging. Period. This year has taught me that very, very few things are black and white. I have no idea what someone is going through, or where they're coming from, so my judgment has no place here. When I feel judgey in a situation, I'm trying to notice it and replace that with love. 

7. Trying, even in the seemingly impossible situations. Maybe a few dollars isn't going to change a homeless person's life around. Maybe calling your senator isn't going to change their mind. Maybe reaching out isn't going to mend that relationship. Maybe offering your support isn't going to break someone's addiction. But I, for one, want to be able to say I always tried, no matter how hopeless a situation seemed. 

8. Listening. How often do we say, "how's it going?" in passing without really caring about the response? Or how often are we in a conversation, just nodding but also scrolling through our phones? I'm working on becoming a better listener instead. 

9. Responding to my texts and emails. Goodness gracious, I am so bad at this. Some of it's due to getting anxious over things, but some of it is due to pure laziness/procrastination. I'm working on responding to things in a much timelier matter, even if my response is just, "I'll have to get back to you."

10. Learning the best ways to love my people. We all feel most loved in different ways. I have a friend who's whole month is made by sending her a 99 cent greeting card saying hi, and one friend who feels appreciated when someone acknowledges her hard work. I have a friend who feels loved by phone calls. Another friend hates talking on the phone, but loves funny texts full of inappropriate memes. I'm working on taking the time to learn these little things so I can show love better. 

How are you trying to become a better person?
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Monday, July 10, 2017

3 Things You Need to Know About.

1. This album. It was released on the day I took a road trip last week and I listened to it approximately 8 times on the drive, and have been listening to it ever since. It's fantastic. 

2. This creamer. I have FINALLY found a creamer (that I don't have to make myself, because, lazy) that actually tastes like creamer. I find that with a lot of "healthier" creamer options, they're really thin, or they seperate, or don't mix in well so things are just floating in your coffee (ew). But this one is creamy and mixes right in and I don't even think about how good that sugary creamer would be when I'm drinking it. So, that's a win. 

3. Tomorrow is Prime Day. Now, this is how I remember Prime Day going in previous years: 

 But it's supposedly going to be better this year. Just in case, if you're not a Prime member, go ahead and sign up for a 30 day free trial so you can get any good deals. 
Obviously, I have a list of (very unnecessary) things you should totally buy if they happen to be on prime sale. 

My favorite flamingo straws, obviously. 

These oversized moon & star sunglasses that make you look like a super mysterious gypsy. I have these and they are giant and amazing. 

This good vibes only hat. I also have this and have worn it approximately every other day this summer. 

My favorite sunglasses that I get SO many compliments on but only paid $12 for. 

This beach bag that I'm probably definitely about to buy for myself because HELLO SEQUINED FLAMINGO. 

This dress. Don't even need to tell you why.

Ditto to this pillow.

Okay, so we've learned my flamingo obsession is still alive and well. Glad we covered that. 

Happy Monday! May it be way better than you're expecting.
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