Space For Gratitude

Life gets a little scary sometimes.

A photo of me back in London, trying to live in love.

I think about it a lot. So much can change overnight, and we always just assume things will continue to follow our expectations. I think about the lay-offs in tech, and the Silicon Valley Bank bail out. I think of how many people are posting on LinkedIn about making out their credit cards (is that even real?). I think about how even people who have taken a traditional career trajectory are having issues in the professional space, due largely to monolithic corporations in the United States manipulating policy to continue to favor their key stakeholders through lobbying efforts.

I don’t know many people under forty who can afford their own house, or even their own apartment in an urban area. I don’t know many people who have been able to climb the corporate ladder without some kind of help or extra connection, and I don’t know how most millennials are expected to want to start a family when wages haven’t continued to match the rising costs of homes, goods, and services.

In a world where there is so much certainty, it can be hard to hold space for gratitude. Logically, the news bombards us with a never-ending cacophony of negativity.

When I get overwhelmed with how much appears to be going wrong, I often think about what’s going right, and some advantages millennial may have over previous generations, in spite of the pervasive (and seemingly never-ending) economic uncertainty, and I think about a hope that lives outside of time and within the guise of faith. God.

Things to be grateful for: Beaches and diversity.

Although the world seemingly continues to have problem after problem, placing my hope and trust in a God that talks about the world’s innate corruption gives me some hope about the future. After all, Jesus called us to be, ‘the salt and light of the Earth.’ Why do people who claim to follow Christ continue to accept such unacceptable behavior in the church? Why are we so concerned about other people’s ‘sin,’ when we legitimately have politicians such as Nancy Pelosi, (initially elected to be public servants) voting on their own raises, and using their policy knowledge to increase their own wealth, unchecked? Why do we allow larger corporations to continue to produce harmful environmental products in the name of cheap consumerism?

I can’t even begin to fathom why someone’s sexual preferences are spoken about within the four walls of the church buildings more than the aforementioned issues. But here’s the beautiful part about Christianity: Jesus compared himself to a doctor and stated he comes not for the healthy, but for the sick. (Matthew 2:17). So, unfortunately, we can expect people both in and out of the church to continue to make choices that leave us feeling hopeless and forlorn. And, when we’re in that space: when both our community and the world at-large lets us down, where can we look to for gratitude?

We place our hope in things above rather than things below

Although we are wholly imperfect, there is a perfect spirit that can dwell within us. That being the Holy Spirit, the fruit of which is, ‘love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, and self-control.’ Although I believe in surrounding yourself with people who love God, and love one another, I think it’s even more important for you to give yourself space to interpret what God is saying to you on your own journey. For some people, that could look like yoga. And, no, I don’t think yoga means you’re worshipping Hindu spirits, and if you are already filled with the Holy Spirit, you can not be overcome by something that is not of God.

For others, that could look like time spent journaling, fasting and praying. Still others may need to go outside and take a look at God’s creation. After all, the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1-6‬ ‭NIV. I find when I create space to go outside, I often feel as if existence, no matter how grim things look, is a privilege. We have this beautiful and amazing world where we can see birds fly, where DNA gives us the exact structures we need for our cells to form, and where ocean tides are controlled by a marvelous moon.

And, even though millennials in the United States, witnessing 9/11, war after war being fought overseas, the advance of technology and multiple recessions; we can look at some of the beauty in this world, be grateful for the little things. Like, when a friend shows up serendipitously to go thrift shopping with you, or when you end up noticing the flowers on the way to the subway. The little things may not change the money you have available in your bank account or the way the economy appears to look, but looking for, ‘the little gratitudes,’ helps us to create space for the larger gratitudes to enter our lives.

And, ultimately, God’s kingdom is perfect. And, He gave Peter the, ‘keys to the kingdom.’ Is it too much of a stretch to believe that when we operate out of love and gratitude we could be spreading the love embedded within God’s perfect kingdom here on Earth? If God is love, as it says in 1 John 4: 7-21, than is it so crazy to believe that when we operate out of love for one another we are opening doors to God’s Kingdom for others? And, if we aren’t cultivating a space for gratitude and love within our own heart, how can we pour this gift out to others?

I also want to be honest

The view of New York City from the Empire State Building.

I am so sick of the unholy matrimony of the broader church within the USA to the Republican Party in the United States. We can no longer as believers accept the corruption that permeates the entire political system. Neither a Republican or Democratic nominee is going to fix the growing disparity between the wealthy elite and the twenty-five percent of the country that have less than $100,000 set aside for retirement. And, I say this with full confidence because the people we nominate are typically, in fact part of the top five percent promoting policies that will continue to benefit their interests. We spend so much time in the church promoting political ideology that we forget the real reason Jesus came to Earth (and Jesus was in fact Jewish)- to reconcile a fallen people with God, through his love, and grace. Not to control a population. Not to regulate birth control standards. Not too, ‘pray away the gay.’ But to take us as ‘wholly us,’ and transform us through this unconditional love from people in pain to people who can love unconditionally.

But to reconcile us to God, and change the world through love. Sin literally means, ‘misses the mark.’ It’s not this big scary thing. It’s a facet and unavoidable part of being human. And, sometimes sin can lead to pain. And pain sucks. But it’s part of life, and when we place our hope and trust in God, we can look beyond the crumbling world systems and structures, and up to the Kingdom of God: which is driven by love, unmerited favor, and reconciliation.

Today, what are you grateful for?

These were flowers in Prospect Park, but that’s ok.

When I think of how to conclude this, I think about what I am actually grateful for. I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to travel. I am grateful for the flowers I passed on Union Square on the way to the cafe in Soho where I’m writing this. I am grateful for the friends who have been supporting me in an immeasurable amount of ways since I went through a rather painful and unexpected break up. I am grateful for the family I have that continues to communicate with me even though I live in another state. I am grateful whenever I notice the creativity of the human mind, and the power of thought around me. I am grateful when I think about the small and wonderful protein structures that send signals to our cells and develop our body. I am grateful for the moon and the command it wields over the oceans. I am grateful for my ability to notice these small things. I am grateful for friends who have frank conversations about mental healthy, and open up about their own experiences. I am grateful for my body’s ability to kickboxing, and my health. I am grateful for the students I have enrolled in my program, and I am grateful for all of this opportunity. Although existence can be stressful, overwhelming and more than a little difficult, I am grateful for existing- and for this opportunity to explore a world called Earth.

What are you grateful for?


Mindset Matters: Manifestation and Prayer

Ok, so mindset matters. Taking care of yourself matters. Creating and operating as the most authentic you, that you could ever possibly imagine matters.

“But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

Fish, jumping fish, Einstein, Fish out of water
This picture was taken while I was on a trip in Caye Caulker and is a fish jumping to eat out of my hand. It will never fly. And that’s ok.

I think of this a lot. People are all created differently. And, the people around us influence our mindsets and our mindsets influence our realities. Our mindsets are the catalysts for our manifestations and prayers. We walk in the realities that our minds create.

Think on this. In the Bible, there’s a verse that says, “set your mind on things above, not on things below.” What’s above? The heavens. Divine perfection. The exact, perfect unconditional love of Christ, which surpasses all understanding and sees us as divine sons and daughters through adoption. When we follow in the footsteps of Christ, however that looks for us, God looks at us with love, and we are always, consistently, walking in this love whether we feel it or not.

I read recently about a sect of Judaism that believes when Adam and Eve were walking in the Garden of Eden, they walked in spirit, and that the result of eating the apple was God giving us literal skin. And that body of flesh, that part of us, is the part of us that separates us from God. And, thus, our bodies in this physical realm, carry that burden of sin and eternity continues to be on our hearts. Why would we have eternity on our minds if we were not meant to explore the possibilities? So imagine- the garden of Eden was a spiritual reality and when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were then sent to the physical realm, where they were meant to work and suffer for the maintenance of the physical body.

rainbow, prairie sky, rainbow after storm, Kansas
I took this in Kansas after a rainy day. I think when we talk about mindset, it involves looking at the sky for a rainbow after the storm.

This interpretation of scripture made so much sense in my mind. If this is true, if God literally gave Adam and Eve ‘skin,’ in the garden, then when Christ came to Earth, He came to reconcile us with God, and help us walk in our divinity through prayer, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, before the fall (or the imprisonment of our souls within our body) we were already walking, ‘in spirit and truth,’ and our physical separation from divine love didn’t exist. I’m not a Biblical scholar, and I don’t pretend to know what the correct interpretation is, but I imagine that God created the world to be explored, without the physical parameters of our bodies, and in companionship with Him. Imagine if all of the science fiction about Quantum Leaping and time travel really existed in a reality before Adam and Eve ate from the tree. In my head God cares a lot more about relationship with Him than looking at a human body, so this interpretation really resonated with me.

Which brings me to mindset- how do we align ourselves with a Divine Mindset while walking on the Earth where we need to pay our bills, make decisions that align us with our goals, and deal with the constant pressure of society to be something? And, even beyond that: we have to operate within the confines of this world in order to survive, in spite of being connected to the divine?

Operating in Authenticity

Mountain climbing, mountain, mountain range, rocky terrain
The trail maybe rocky, but we climb for the journey, with anticipation of the view.

Did you know that optimists always tend to be ten minuted late? Or more? Optimists always assume, for better or worse, that the best case scenario will play out. Of course, this is a more annoying trait. If optimists are always running late, it can be frustrating. But more importantly, this optimistic quality can lead people down a dangerous road. This is why pessimists are just as important. Just as every pisces needs a virgo to ground them in reality, every optimist needs a pessimist to ground them. The red flags exist. Don’t let your optimism cloud that judgement.

Happy Girl on Boat
Me, being my most authentic self.

When we act authentically, we may find that we aren’t fitting in to the world’s preconceived notion of what we need to do. When I was growing up, I was lucky to have young parents who were still experiencing the world around them with awe and wonder. My mom loved to act, sing and dance; and my dad often took me out in nature and encouraged me to explore the world around me. We never had a lot of money, and as a result, I grew up and fell in love with creatives, with artists, with out-of-the-box thinkers, with the beautiful world around me. For better or worse, I don’t have a fear of the unknown- I occasionally fear people, but am encouraged to explore, in the faith that I am walking authentically in the calling God has for me and the He will protect me from ill will.

When I was younger, I tried to act in a way that the Church, and most of the USA, endorsed. I got married at eighteen, and I got divorced at twenty-three. I tried to work a 9-5, went to college, and did everything within my power to have, ‘the house, the spouse, the six-figures.’ With a more recent relationship, I even prioritized the boyfriends’ home over my own income (to be fair, I thought of us as a team). After about a decade of trying to fit into this box, and failing again and again, I am at a loss as too how to proceed, so I am giving up, being my most authentic self and trusting that God will figure the rest out for me.

Office work, laptop, work
In the United States, people really authentically care about your work, and this defines you identity.

As an adult, I have now freelanced for five years, and built my own business in education. This happened during the pandemic. Now that the pandemic is over, I am eager to explore and to grow. And, when things don’t go my way, I set my mind on things above, rather than the things below, and try to help others. There’s not really a great answer, but envisioning my future has always helped me get through uncertain times. That, and doing my best to empower others to be their very best self.

When things Get Tough

It’s so easy to cultivate a positive mindset and trust God when things are going well. Beyond accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, there’s more to do in the difficult times where God is not doing things the way we think He should. We know we can rest in his grace, and understand that our reality is simply a season.

Climbing mountains is the mindset we want to have.
Mountain climbing is difficult but the view from the top is so rewarding.

Mindsets in Action

Joseph was his Father’s favorite. As such, I imagine he lived a somewhat privileged life. His dad gave him a jacket, a symbol of love, which created so much dissonance between Joseph and his brothers that they sold him into slavery, where he would spend time working for years, eventually being promoted to Pharaoh’s right hand man, accused (falsely) of molesting Pharaohs wife, thrown back into jail, released after prophesying both success and death, and then subsequently promoted once again to a position of power. It was only after this rollercoaster of a life that Joseph’s brothers showed up in Pharaoh’s court, and it had been so long that they didn’t recognize Joseph. He played a small trick on them and was finally reunified with his family.

Being in jail definitely sucks. Being sold into slavery by your brothers (talk about sibling rivalry) sucks worse. I think about the turbulence in Joseph’s life and am in awe of the way he only played a small trick on his brothers. If my siblings sold me into slavery, I would be livid. But, God used Joseph in spite of the individual tumult he experienced and I would argue: God was able to use Joseph because he was open. Because he had a mindset that was fixed on things above. He had no fear of rotting in jail- he knew even if he died there, he would be in heaven with God, and this confidence- confidence in the things unseen- gave him the strength he needed to get through this.

I want to talk about Halle Berry. Halle Berry was homeless and stayed in a shelter when she initially moved to NYC. She stated, “Giving up was never an option, it took me right back to my high school years. You say I can’t? Watch me. I’m going to figure this out. And shelter life was part of figuring it out for a minute.”

Halle Berry
Halle Berry, a household name.

Halle had a goal. That mindset- the hope in things unseen- gave her an ability to overcome the obstacles around her. She placed her faith in her future- not quite as good as things above, but better than the reality of being homeless. Having a mindset- a mindset that believes in possibilities of the future, a mindset that believes anything is possible- is the first step towards manifesting the life you feel reflects your most authentic self.


Our mindsets determine our reality. We can look too things above, heavenly places, our life (which is hidden in Christ) or our future. But when we look at these things, we are aligning ourselves with our highest calling. We know we are on the right path when we are feeling joy, and when we feel as though we walk in purpose. Always check in with your emotions: they are guideposts directing you where you need to go.

The Treasure Theory

God. I hate dating.

Recently, I went through a break up with a man I had met through one of several apps. It was Bumble. During the dating process, he had talked about how nervous he was to make the first move, and I thought nothing of it. Reader, when men say they are to insecure to make the first move.


The thing about the man I dated is that he is genuinely a wonderful human. He is smart (to the point of having a phD), thoughtful, athletic, and empathetic. And, he was good-looking. So, I genuinely believed him when he said that he really, truly preferred that the woman make the first move. He’s not dishonest, and on paper there is nothing wrong with him.

Reader, I’m pretty sure, that is guy code for, “I want to be in a relationship that doesn’t actually require me to work.”

Now, that my life was in a sense turned upside-down by this man who stated that, and thinking about how we broke up, I wonder if he was simply lazy. And, maybe, just maybe, he’ll want to do the things that I’m now considering nonnegotiable for his next partner. But I digress.

This last experience has brought me to the shocking conclusion that perhaps we as women have been sold a bogus bag. I mean I love planning events. I love creating content. I love producing creative outings that spark a genuine sense of joy and happiness for others. Which is why I typically don’t mind taking the lead when I’m dating someone. But, I think it’s time to implement a new, perhaps controversial theory- The Treasure Theory.

When I was traveling, I had the privilege of exploring Tikal, and recognized immediately how significant this place was. Can you imagine how amazed the original explorers were upon the initial discovery?

What is the Treasure Theory?

It’s the newest dating trend that operates off of this principal: I put effort into being my most authentic self, and creating joy for others, and the right person will see that, and want to keep it around. Here are the five affirmations I find myself using regarding the Treasure Theory and how they work.

All these years of reproduction didn’t foster your presence simply to survive. You’ve been created to thrive.

Affirmation 1: My presence is a privilege, not a right.

The first piece of the treasure theory is that as a human being you are a frikking treasure. A gem. Everything in the universe has been conspiring for the past millennium to ensure that the exact genetic make-up, personality, and situation has produced you. Whether we want to think that this is true or not, there is something both marvelous and magical about our existence. We have the privilege of living on Earth for a finite amount of time, and then we experience another ‘immersive experience,’ (as Tanya in White Lotus says in the first season) death.

From an evolutionary perspective: you are the fittest. You’re genes survived centuries of pruning, epigenetic changes, famines, sicknesses, diseases and childbirth before Caesarean sections became a thing. Childbirth before the epidural. War. You have ancestors that fought to stay alive, and all of their fighting over the course of centuries of humanity on Earth comes together to produce you, in this exact fragment of time and space.

As a result, our time is valuable. Our presence is a privilege not a right. People who don’t create time or space for us, don’t deserve our presence. There are about a thousand things we could do at any given time. We can work. We can travel. It takes so much time to look good as a woman. Hell, we can do our own nails, get a blow-out and eyelash extensions and it’s going to take an entire day.

If partners are half-in and out of the relationship, cut them loose. Your presence is a privilege. The partners in your life can lose your presence if they aren’t one-hundred percent onboard to support the beautiful chaos that is your life. You don’t need to create space, give your time, or donate your energy to people who are not reciprocating it back. And if they give an excuse.


There are men who won’t and even if you end up deliriously single, it’s ten times better than chasing, or ending up with, the wrong man. And, if every eligible bachelor on Earth has some kind of half-baked excuse, I’d honestly rather be single.

While I was in Ireland, I explored ancient ruins with some friends and found this coin.

Affirmation 2: I’m a rare, one-of-a-kind treasure that deserves to be cherished as such.

Jack Sparrow spent an eternity hunting treasure. In real life, the longer a treasure goes undiscovered, the more it’s valued once it’s found. The treasure of San Jose was undiscovered for three-hundred and four years. When it was finally found, it was worth billions of dollars.

There’s billions of people in this world, but only one you. No one can be, ‘you,’ like you can. Even if you meet someone who’s similar, your unique experiences and personality are made manifest in a special way. That’s why it’s so important to be authentic.

So here’s one example of this ‘treasure,’ my life. I went to a small liberal arts school (New England College). I then went to Boston University. At New England College, I was pretty oblivious to the social scene (I was married, after all) and although I was involved, I didn’t really participate in the gossip, and was intensely interested in getting to know people’s stories from their perspective- not the Rugby player who wanted to bash them because he had been spurned in love, not the jealous girl who projected her own insecurity into the world around her, and certainly not the opinions of the student body at large. I wanted to show people the love God has for them through Christ, and Jesus hung out with people: drunkards, prostitutes, tax collectors, kings, princes, moms, grandmothers, the sick lady with the breathing issue, a paralyzed daughter, fishermen. Jesus didn’t care what others said about His People. He cared about the people He was with, and that attitude was what I wished to emulate. What’s the point of having a vertical relationship with God if you can’t project the love He has for others horizontally?

Recently, I reconnected with someone from school and she said, “thank you for not judging me, it was a really tough time for me back then.” It had been almost a decade of not connecting- and the kicker- I didn’t even think she liked me very much while we were in school. Now that we’ve reconnected she’s already been a major blessing, and simply by being myself- a nonjudgemental listener, and kind of a Jesus Freak- I was able to impact another person’s life. And, I didn’t even realize that simply by being myself authentically, I could help another person through a trying time.

Affirmation 3: I’m the main character in my own life, never a supporting role.

I have been in so many relationships where I have been relegated to the ‘supporting role,’ and given up my dreams to live out someone else’s. And, it’s so easy to do this, that it’s scary. And, oddly enough, I love being the main character. It’s not selfish to be who you were created to be.

Drew Barrymore was in a film- Fifty First Dates. First of all, I love Drew Barrymore. Big fan, especially of how authentic and candid she is when discussing the trauma of being human. In the story, Adam Sandler’s character falls in love with a woman who loses her memory every day. Every day, Adam has to prove too Drew that he loves her. He puts major effort into this relationship.

Spoiler alert: it works out. But, the effort that Adam Sandler’s character puts into this relationship is the type of effort we need to expect. None of this, ‘let’s Netflix and chill on the first date,’ nonsense. Adam Sandler’s character saw the ‘treasure,’ that Drew Barrymore’s character. Even when Drew’s character breaks it off, Adam Sandler’s character comes back around, and he puts the dynamic effort in by using VHS tapes– before we all had camera phones.

Adam’s character lets Drew’s character become the main character and offers to support her where she’s at. That is exactly the kind of relationship The Treasure Theory brings.

Taken from 5o First Dates.

Affirmation 4: If I’m a treasure they will find me, while I am being my most authentic self.

We’re all different. We all have different needs, different purposes, different likes. But, here’s what I think. Treasure hunters know when they see a treasure. They know when a treasure is valuable. They know with certainty it’s something they want.

If we act in anyway other than ourselves, we are setting ourselves up to attract the wrong people. If years of evolutionary progress have indeed occurred to create you, and if the divine hand of God had any hand in this creation process, then we may as well act like ourselves. I think about some of the past relationships I’ve been in and how my misrepresentation of myself lead me down that path.

We are not perfect. Only Jesus is. We were never meant to be perfect. We are meant to be in this fallen, imperfect world, and have a relationship with the divine through reconciliation with God (I believe that is the point of the gospel) and this may manifest chaotically, and differently, and entirely unlike the presentation of other people. And, that’s ok. When we act in our calling and walk in what’s important to us, we will attract the people who will fan our flame, and the ‘wet blankets,’ who want to douse our flame will eventually be set aflame by our love and our authenticity, or leave our lives.

Thus, instead of rushing, or going on a zillion Bumble dates (unless you like those types of dates) the most important thing you can do is be the person you were created to be. And, you’ll know when you’re on that path, because you’ll feel a difference in your soul. If you’re reading this, and have just ended a relationship, or if you feel weird because nothing appears to be working out, go back to the drawing board, and start doing what you love.

I found this clock and I think it works for what I’m posting.

Affirmation 5: Everything is happening exactly the way it’s supposed to happen.

Disappointments occur. Sometimes, we think that we are doing the right thing only to be thwarted. Sometimes our hopes and dreams don’t work out.

And, that’s ok. Not everything will pan out the way we expect, but the main idea is to keep pushing through the disappointments, and believing the God has great things in store for you. Pain happens, and sometimes we experience extreme amounts of pain. In my experience, this is often due to other humans, who are also living in pain. Someone once told me, “hurting people hurt people,” This is the truth of the matter and even though we’ve all been hurt, we all have also hurt others.

When we let go and process our own pain, we can be the catalyst of healing for others.

New Year, New York

Hi friends.

I have recently moved to New York City. I love it here. The creative energy, the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom, and the diversity here is amazing.

I mean, I found a fashion show on Pulsd, checked out a gorgeous loft in Tribeca, where I hope to be in September/October (God’s timing is everything) and found a designer who was cool enough to go with a rando to a fashion show afterward in the span of 24 hours. Where else would this happen? Maybe LA, but Reader, I didn’t even need to drive. Not once. Why deal with the hassle of traffic if you don’t need too?

Anyway, I got along with the designer, and her work is incredible. Shameless ploy to get her stuff out to the world here. My personal favorites are all visible on her insta: leighaantoniaart.

On Identity

I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting and thinking about who I am. Ever since the age of 5, I wanted to be a performer. I obnoxiously told people in High School to take my autograph, and keep it because, “I’m going to be famous someday.” Growing up in rural New Hampshire meant that my big personality was often, ‘a lot,’ (I was also, pretty obnoxious, which didn’t help) and I never truly felt like I belonged. Often, I was told that I was attention-seeking (valid feedback!) And, as a result, I often (tried unsuccessfully) to stand in the background, even though my heart wanted to perform.

As I grew up I became willing to sacrifice my dreams for others, specifically men. In the American Christian culture, I had internalized that one of the highest callings of a woman’s life is to be married and have children. Combined with that and a healthy dose of Disney Princesses and Prince Charmings, I chose to get married at eighteen, and became divorced five years later. When I started dating someone that told me my dreams of performing were selfish, I thought he was correct, and gave up my dream to teach because, ‘it would be better to start a family.’ Now, years later, I still think about performing, but have all this wonderful experience in education. You know what I don’t have? A family. You know why? I put my trust in men, who are fallible, rather than God, who is eternal.

What do we do when well-meaning people give us well-intentioned, but notably bad, advice? When is it valid to sacrifice your dreams for a partner?

As I write about my experiences, please remember that I am one person in a sea of people, and God has a plan, unique, and pertinent, specifically to you, so take what resonates, and throw out what doesn’t fit.

But here’s where I want to talk about identity.

Who we are is not contingent on where we are or where we come from.

Our environment has an impact on our effectiveness. God can certainly do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, but there’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve been digesting lately:

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

I want you to think about your body. Think about all of the different cells that make up your body. Think about, for instance, your toenail.

Would a cell from a toenail fit in if you took the same cellular structure and put it on your lip?

No. Nor would an eye cell survive if it’s placed on a knee. Obviously.

Our bodies are created with thousands of different types of cells that cohesively create one body. Just as the body is able to harmoniously produce what we need to exist, so we as people are meant to be around others. I think often of the neural cells and messenger system that is in our body, and wonder often if I could be that piece of the body of Christ- I love traveling and I love communicating, and I love connecting people. Days where I get to collaborate and create with others are days where I am happiest.

I have a close friend that is happiest in a structured environment where she is able to know exactly what is expected of her, and clock out. She is kind, and empathetic; overall, loves strategy. However, she would rather sit at home and read rather than go to a huge event to meet people (Great! Leave that to me!). Her role is important, and it is possibly because we are so different that we are able to be friends.

If people function differently than you do then the advice they may give to you may be well-intentioned, even wise, but it will never replace the divine intuition you walk in each and every day. Sometimes it’s better to be surrounded with similar people. Sometimes, different types of people need to work closely together to achieve goals. Sometimes the connections you need exist outside of your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to follow the divine intuition and put yourself in a situation where you will succeed.

Who we are is more than what we do.

All too often, we find our identity in jobs, relationships, ethnicities or friend groups. Often, in the United States, we talk about our job title, and we talk about our status as if it’s the most defining factor.

But, our identity goes deeper than that. There’s a verse, ‘eternity is written on the hearts of men,’ and who we are in the context of the community around us lives beyond our five senses. I propose that our identity stems from this sense of ‘divine connection,’ and this sense of ‘eternity.’ This is why relationships and creation can be so powerful- our connections will last even beyond our life here on Earth, and when we create, we can be instruments of the divine.

I think about the show E-True Hollywood Story! For those of you that haven’t seen it, it often documents the rise and fall of brilliantly creative performers, who eventually end up losing everything. In my opinion, this show encapsulates the depression and problems that can occur when we find our identity in what we do, rather than in our relationship with God, and ability to transcend time. When I think about God, I think of God as an all-knowing, all-loving father, who saw what was inside you and said, “it is good,” regardless of the circumstances surrounding you at any given time. Remember, God is not limited by time or space, and is connected like the internet. This love is shown in the way God sacrificed His Son to die once for humankind to reconcile mankind with Himself, and if you’re reading this, I want to encourage you to seek out God on your own, because I am one person, and am writing about my (limited) experiences, research, and relationship with the Divine.

Who we are is more than our past.

Sometimes I feel as though I lived a million lives in one body. There was a season where I attempted to be the perfect on-paper, sinless, spotless Christian, a season where I was thoroughly convinced I was doomed for eternity and lost myself in relationships, a season where I was convinced that ‘I could be the change I wished to see in the world and worked sixty hours a week trying to fix broken systems and structures, a season where I travelled wherever and whenever I wanted and now, a season as a CEO.

None of those seasons or titles impact who I am in my soul. My soul is eternal and whether I remained in the vagabond role (which I think was potentially one of my favorite seasons of life) or a CEO, I’m still me. My roles, and the box people attempt to put me in doesn’t impact the essence of my personhood, which I believe resides, ‘in heavenly places with Christ,” and is both here on Earth, and simultaneously, ‘a citizen of heaven.’

Defining our Intrinsic Value in a Capitalist System

While I was in college I used to work with people who had severe disabilities. I found myself admiring their perseverance, wonders, and personality styles. As I was reflecting, I had a horrible revelation- in a truly Ayn Randian, Capitalist system, these people may be looked at as value-less. After all, they need social programs. They aren’t making money, they are taking money.

And, I realized how detrimental attaching worth to the ability to produce can be, and how easy it is to fall into the trap of building transactional relationships. Every human is worthy, simply because they are part of this gloriously confusing, often audacious and marvelous existence and we have the privilege of interacting with them. I would go so far as to say that every human is valuable, simply because they are made in the divine image of God, whether or not we want to acknowledge that divinity.

Although our identity goes beyond this, sometimes it is helpful to define the values that resonate with our spirit. The book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, by Mark Manson, helped me figure out which problems pissed me off, and align my actions with those values. Not intrinsically, my success doesn’t define me, but living a life aligned with my values definitely helps me create the life I want to live.

Beyond Capitalism and Into Jung

I love Marvel movies. I love them unashamedly, and I’ll go with my family to watch them all, from The Eternals to Spiderman to The Avengers.

But what makes the Marvel movies so attractive is this idea of heroism. Every culture has mythos that resonates with the human spirit, and we love to create heroes that help the underdog.

Carl Jung hypothesized that we have an innate desire to connect with others and that we look for archetypes within our stories. Here are some examples of his defined archetypes.

  • Anima: Symbolized by an idealized woman who compels man to engage in feminine behaviors
  • Animus: Woman’s source of meaning and power that both creates animosity toward man but also increases self-knowledge
  • Hero: Starting with a humble birth, then overcoming evil and death (like Spiderman).
  • Persona: The mask we use to conceal our inner selves to the outside world
  • Self: The whole personality; the core of the total psyche
  • Shadow: The psyche’s immoral and dark aspects
  • Trickster: The child seeking self-gratification, sometimes being cruel and unfeeling in the process
  • Wise old man: The self as a figure of wisdom or knowledge

Could it be possible that the near-universal love of Marvel Movies resonates with the innate archetypes Carl Jung observed? I personally think it is entirely probable, and that so many mythology stories resonate with us because we as human are on a subconscious search for meaning in the chaos of life.

Back To New York

Anyway, I’m in New York, and I love it here. So far, I have had way more time to reflect, more time to visit others, more time to learn, and somehow have gotten more work done. I am so grateful for the provision God has given me, and so grateful for my family and friends, both new and old, who are part of my journey, for ‘we know in part and prophesy in part,’ but part of having faith is stepping out and taking risks, even if you don’t know how things will pan out. And, I’m truly walking in faith that God has reasons for our seasons, and I am here for a purpose, even if that purpose is unfolding more slowly than I would like.

When people give you advice, they are looking through their limited lens. Nothing is impossible with God, and time is a construct that doesn’t impact Him, so He knows what happens to us simply because He lives outside of time. He knew about the bad advice and He knew about the mistakes you would make. And, that’s why we live in the promise of His grace- for truly, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. There is always hope beyond our situation.

What is Faith?

It’s scary to take risks.

It’s scary to live a life that is unlike the lives of people around you and it’s scary to look at the world when everything points to its’ fallibility. It’s also scary to accept our roles in creating and changing this world.

But what is faith?

Faith is something we practice everyday, whether we go to work and place it in the ability of the people we work for to pay us, or whether we get on a plane and place it in the hands of pilots flying the plane. We can place our faith in all kinds of systems and structures, and we may never see them.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is this: “Faith is the evidence of things unseen.” Do we see the pilot of a plane from our seats? No. But, every time we get on a plane, we have faith that the pilot is paying attention to his instruments and flying us to our destination of choice.

There’s more to that verse though. “things unseen.” What things go unseen, every day?

Talinn, Estonia
When I was traveling, I operated in faith that “God is love,’ and that I would be aligned with His plans while I traveled. This photo was taken in Tallinn, Estonia.

Our future is unseen.

There is a verse that says, ‘we know in part and we prophesy in part,’ but we never know the full picture. It’s like waiting for a grad school acceptance. We know that the door could open, and we make choices with the scenario that is most likely to occur, but it’s only a piece of the scenario.

In pop culture, there is something that people practice called, ‘manifestation.’ It’s a concept that if you act like you have what you want, you attract what you want. It delves even more deeply than that. You need to visualize what’s ahead of you, like a professional athlete visualizes crossing the finish line. This concept that, “faith is the evidence of things unseen,” aligns with this deep vision that people have of their future, and they are able to walk into it. By stepping out, ‘in faith,’ we give the universe a chance to answer our call, and provide in unexpected ways.

I am a Christian and that means I believe that Jesus was born, crucified and died for my sins to reconcile me with God, through faith. Did I see it, personally? No. But, I have this, ‘evidence of things unseen,’ guiding my steps. Furthermore, I wholeheartedly believe that God created the world with certain rules, and walking in faith is the only way I want to live my life. When I say faith, I mean audacious faith that transcends the role society assigns you and upends the traditional expectations about what life should look like. And, that doesn’t mean that I’m telling you to do what I’m doing. If you’re reading this, I encourage you to seek out your own relationship with God, investigate the thought processes you are implementing, think about your life, and ask yourself, why not pursue a different path if the one I’m on isn’t bringing me joy?

There’s another verse in the Bible that states, “Fear is the opposite of faith,” combined with the verses, “perfect love casts out fear,” and, “God is love.” I think about that. When you have this crazy faith that, “God is love,” and that, “nothing is impossible with Him,” taking risks is a lot easier. Audacious faith, whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, brings about audacious change. I think of Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi as imperfect people who exemplified this audacious, world-changing faith. And, if you are reading this, and you are a Christian, we are called to be the, “salt and light of the Earth,” we are called (way back in Genesis), to be “stewards.” We are “seated with Christ in heavenly places.” Every minute of every second of everyday, we are walking in the light of the divine, and we are able to be catalysts for change.

Life on this planet, and life as a whole is not going to change unless, we create the changes we want to see here. It starts with an audacious belief that change is possible and that we can be the change makers. Beyond preaching the gospel, we have a responsibility to maintain the Earth and innovate new ways of change that can help resolve problems we see everyday. And, it begins with changing ourselves.

One real world example of this type of faith lies in Tyler Perry. He’s a household name. Whether you like his work or not, his belief, perseverance and faith in the evidence of things unseen, kept him going. He has candidly shared about times where he was unable to pay his rent, and now practices giving back to those around him and creating jobs. Audacious faith and belief create the catalysts for us to walk in new realities, everyday, even in the face of doubt and failure.

Our choices are the, ‘evidence.’

There’s a children’s book called “What Would You Do With An Idea.” I love the book. It’s about someone with a crazy idea that gets bigger and bigger. People in the book think the person with the idea is crazy. But, it simply can’t be hidden.

The truth is, every innovation starts as a thought and every time we make steps toward making that idea a reality we are walking in faith. Think about Hebrews 1. There are all sorts of people who took steps of faith and the future is radically changed by those steps, even if it’s a small step.

Harry Potter is a household name. At one point, it was just an idea is JK Rowling’s head- she was a single mom, living in poverty who had severe bouts of depression. JK Rowling took the first step of faith. She wrote the story on a napkin. Then, she kept writing, until she was finished. After, she was rejected by several publishers until someone picked up her manuscript and it was finally published.

JK Rowling operated in a calling, in faith, in hope that someone would pick up her book, and now, she is known for her writing. Harry Potter is more than just an idea, Harry Potter is a world-changing franchise, and has impacted the lives of people across the world. It only exists because JK Rowling had the audacity to believe the story was worth telling, and persevere in faith in spite of rejection. There are literally thousands of jobs in media and entertainment that exist because JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter, and the impact the values of the story had on an entire generation is unquantifiable.

String Theory and The Spirit Realm

This is where it gets a little wacky, but stick with me. I recently read a book called The Midnight Library. It’s about someone who decides to die, and gets to see all of the potential lives she could have lived if she had made different choices. I loved the book (although a very close friend of mine disagreed), and can’t get over the way some people choose to explain, ‘quantum leaping,’ and this idea that there are several lives we could live in several different worlds happening simultaneously. It’s also an idea explored in Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness.

Even stranger than quantum physics, is this idea that there is a, ‘spiritual realm,’ and that, ‘our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of darkness.’ That verse is so intriguing. Are our choices the result of some kind of battle happening in a universe unseen by us involving angels and demons? I don’t think that this is totally impossible, and I think different people use different languages to describe the same concept.

Assigning terms like, ‘Angelic and demonic,’ is a Christian way of describing, ‘positive and negative energy.’ Reiki healers exist and manipulate some of this energy. There are exorcists (believe it or not I went on a date with someone who told me he followed a guy around South Africa for a year after college to explore this spiritual path. Reader, there was no second date.) and there are elements of life we as humans have yet to understand. I don’t know enough about physics to accurately explain the God Particle, so there’s a link to that as well.

As a Christian, I can’t ignore the spiritual realm (it would be inauthentic to write about ‘unseen,’ without that), but if you aren’t a Christian, or into spirituality, I would encourage you to do your own research. This is just my thoughts in one morning, and I’m an imperfect human.

Faith is like fire- it spreads quickly and gives us light!

Realities of Faith

There are so many accounts of belief being linked to to bodily illness. Chinese medicine goes so far as to connect different organs to different emotions. Before modern science, ancient doctors still sought to heal their patients, so these descriptions are still relevant today. There are mind and body connections, and although Western Medicine prefers to ignore these connections, and prescribe substances, I do think the ideas linking emotions to specific ailments in valid.

Consider this. The Adverse Childhood Experiences measurement is a tool that helps therapists figure out trauma a child experiences. As adults, higher scores are linked to actual physical ailments. The experiences these children have actually impact their physical future. There are studies that show epigenetic changes are made manifest physically.

When I think of belief systems linked with trauma, I think of ‘accepting unacceptable circumstances,’ as normal. Mindset matters. Our mindsets set the stage for our interpretation of events, and that influences our choices and the realities we live in. This podcast explores ideas related to faith, pain and healing. Because life can be painful, and horrible things can happen. But, what’s more important is our response to the pain. How do we use it to heal?

“Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.”

In Conclusion

When we walk by faith not by sight, we are opening doors of opportunity for ourselves. Don’t be afraid to have audacious faith.

Cafe Thoughts

A lot has happened since I last updated the blog.

First and foremost, there was an unprecedented pandemic that through the world, and specifically, the USA into a sort of tense, silent chaos.

Personally, I registered a company- called Ascension Educational Services and Travel Network – in February of 2020. I had intended for it to be a travel company, but God had different ideas.

After even the gyms were shut down in the greater Boston area, I spent a few months in New Hampshire (for those of you who are reading from other countries, go to the Eastern part of Canada, look down, and next to Maine.) and virtual education blew up. I found myself managing a six-figure virtual, company that navigated the complexities of education during a pandemic, and ultimately, responded quickly to the market demands of the suburban communities outside of Boston.

Now, we have pivoted into test preparation, and I build partnerships with private schools in NYC and New England, and help families find schools that are the best fit for their students. I am so grateful for the opportunity to impact schools and families, while creating opportunity for highly qualified educators to see growth and impact outside of traditional schools.

On being in the United States

After spending so much time traveling around the world and learning about other cultures, other beliefs and working in low-income communities, I am so disappointed in the way facts are presented in the American Media. Articles abound about companies outsourcing their talent abroad, and headlines talking about inflation, a recession and the growing economic disparity between the wealthiest people in the USA and the people simply hanging on.

But what people aren’t talking about is why. Which policies have contributed to the lack of economic mobility and the outsourcing of jobs. Here is some food for thought:

  1. Did you know credit scores didn’t exist until the early 1990s?
  2. That the Supreme Court overturned corporate lobbying limits during President Obama’s administration?
  3. That prior to the housing bubble pop of 2008 (a direct result of the American Dream Act passed during President Clinton’s administration) lead to corporations like Blackstone buying up property, artificially inflating the prices, and turning home ownership into an impossible dream for most middle-class Americans?
  4. Tax and insurance laws heavily favor large corporations, in lieu of small businesses- perhaps this could be due to the removal of lobbying limits?
  5. Millennial homeownership stands at ” 48.6 percent, more than 20 percentage points lower than the rate for Gen X and almost 30 percentage points lower than Baby Boomers. Millennial homeownership lags even after adjusting for age,” per the 2021 census data.
  6. Most small businesses want to hire local talent; however, the regulations within the country, as well as the growing inflation create a situation where small businesses simply can’t afford to pay employees what they’re worth: and inflation is only exacerbating this. After all, does anyone past 30 want to work for a company that can’t (or won’t) pay them enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment?

I having a moment today, and I am asking myself, what would make me happy, right now? Truthfully, I left the United States in part because I saw the policies passed between 2004 and 2017 and didn’t think the USA was going to be a great place for families, or middle-class Americans. It’s still the best place for corporations and businesses, but the shrinking middle class and lack of opportunity needs to be addressed. Rather than passing short-sighted policies and continuing to allow the top ten percent to pass legislation impacting the ninety percent, what we need now is fresh, new leadership across the country. Americans of all races, all ages and all faiths should be disgusted at the way we have allowed the wealth disparity to increase, with no regard for individuals.

I read in a book that CEOs in the 1950s made twenty times as much as the lowest paid employees at their business and now, corporate CEOs make thousands of times more money than their lowest paid employee. Think about Jeff Bezos and the lowest paid employee at Amazon. Or Elon Musk and his lowest paid employee at SpaceX.

America needs to engage with the majority of its’ citizens and pass policies thinking of the one hundred percent. And, the impact these policies will have on future Americans. I think about this a lot.

I think what makes someone truly happy is using their voice. And I want to do more of this in the coming days.

You and Your Boyfriend Are Done: Why You Should Take the Trip Anyway

Ahhh. A beautiful tropical destination with the person you love. Who doesn’t want that? Or maybe it’s a lovely trip to Iceland where both of you will see the Aurora Borealis. Either way, you’ve checked the packing lists, booked the flights, and written out your itinerary. The research is done.You are ready to go.

Then- the unthinkable happens. Your boyfriend breaks it off when you are planning this trip. You are literally leaving the next day. Now you must make a choice: will you go on the trip alone, cancel the trip, or bring a friend with you? This article investigates the potential solutions to this dilemma and the science behind break ups: everyone hates them, and from a neurological perspective, you are wired to feel this way.

Red- The color Passion. This flower is native to Gran Canaria.

It’s okay to Feel Sad

From a neurological perspective, your brain has been conditioned to release neuropeptides and chemicals that contribute to an overall sense of happiness. Oxytocin is one such neuropeptide, and this usually is released along with the endorphin chemicals. This matters, because your brain gradually learns to associate visions, scents and sounds associated with your significant other with joy because of the endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine release. Now that he Is unavailable, your brain which has been conditioned to releasing and operating with these chemicals will actually stop releasing these chemicals, causing feelings of sadness and pain. These chemicals also contribute to the feeling of positive attachment that you shared with him- and now that he’s gone, your brain is essentially missing the hormones and chemicals it’s been conditioned to release.

This gargoyle looks both sad and wise- the view is from the top of Notre Dame in Paris

For example, those ‘Good Morning,’ texts released a surge of dopamine into the pleasure center of your brain. You now do not get those texts. This means that the surge of dopamine is no longer being released, creating feelings of emptiness and sadness. Crying over this isn’t stupid, and neurologically, it’s going to happen.

But- there’s hope. Removing evidence of the relationship will help your brain to dissociate yourself from the person. This creates less opportunity for the brain to associate your old good memories of your boyfriend with the current situation. This is where a trip can actually help you.

Where This Trip Comes In: Going Solo

So you’ve planned the trip for both of you and your now ex-boyfriend is out of the picture.

Think of this as a blessing in disguise.

During the first Euro-Trip, I met up with some friends after exploring for about two weeks on my own. When we met up, we went to the beach in Monaco- as you can see it’s sunny and I immensely enjoyed a salad and a pina colada.

Hopefully, you wanted to go to this destination because whether you’ve booked a stay at a resort in the honeymoon suite, an adventure trip, or a beach side Airbnb, now is the time to treat yourself like the absolute Goddess you are. You now have an opportunity to explore an entirely new destination, without compromise. No more arguing over dinner, or the accommodation temperature. You have an opportunity to do you!

Liverpool Walks. 

Best of all, you are in a situation where you have no commitment or ties. You want to go to a pub and vent? Do it! I bet there are loads of other women at the bar who also want to tell you about their negative experiences. You want to go to the beach and read a book? Do it! You want to learn how to salsa with a sexy Latino man after drinking wine watching a sunset from the pier? Go for it!

Now is the time to do you- and an advantage of going on a trip right after a tragic and unforeseeable break up is that the physical environment has changed, meaning that your brain now has an opportunity to rewire itself in a neutral environment.

Went to Eoli Restaurant in the Amalfi Coast- I went with people but anyone could go solo!

For maximum effect, I recommend blocking your ex-boyfriend on every form of social media. This way even the visual reminders of what you had have no pull over you. I would also recommend you try going to a hostel or hostel bar- there will be loads of other single travelers who want to get to know you and have different perspectives you can learn from. When I went through an awful break up, I loved hearing about the crazy stories from other people: I promise you most people have them, and sometimes they are even crazier than yours!

Went to Mexico with my friend Tracey! This is us in Tijuana

Perhaps Bringing A Friend

Another option is to go on facebook and see which of your friends is down for a last minute trip. I have been lucky enough to travel both solo and with friends. When I go with friends, it is an entirely different experience- and, they can help ground you if you are prone to anxiety, or worst-case scenario thoughts. There is also compromise, and an opportunity to be pushed way out of your comfort zone! This is still super beneficial to you, you recently single Queen.

Liz and I in Nicaragua. We were traveling together, and then we ended up making a new friend- Anna!

For example, when I was in South America, I kept worrying about highway robberies. Going with a friend made this much more bearable because she could talk me down. Or, if she was worried, I was able to talk her down. And, we had loads of deep conversations about past, and current relationships, which are super helpful in the context of a break up.

Plus, if you really want to have a night with wine and movies in a fabulous resort, I’m sure your travel buddy will help with that.

My friend Jason and I traveled together for a while in Australia. 🙂 We actually met while traveling, and hit it off! 

If a female travel friend is unavailable, hit up your sassy gay bestie, or one of your guy friends. I’m lucky enough to have fabulously encouraging guys in my life who I am not romantically involved with, but who help to remind me that I deserve someone who’ll treat me like gold- and pull me on the dance floor even when I feel like eating pounds of chocolate ice cream is a great idea.

Ultimately, taking this trip with a platonic girl or guy friend will also be beneficial. You will get over the man that broke your heart: and, your travel bestie is there to experience your newfound singledom with you in an adventurous new place.

Cancelling The Trip

This is my least favorite option. If you are completely heartbroken and think you may just need to stay back at home, you could do this.

Maybe you have a comprehensive insurance plan that can reimburse you the cost (travel insurance is a must!) Or, maybe you have another way to get over an ex-boyfriend.

Or, maybe you use the money to book a special trip geared completely toward your interests.

But, in The End

In the end you need to do what’s right for you…. And whether that means going on a trip solo, with a friend or cancelling, you will make the right choice, and it will work out.

But, from one girl to another, I do hope you decided to go. 😊




5 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid While Backpacking

Me, at the cliffs of Moher in Ireland, drinking a coffee, and trying to think of what to write in this article. 

Okay, so, after a couple international trips and traveling for about a year, I’ve realized that there are so many mistakes everyone makes on their first trip. They are super common, and easy to avoid! My hope is that after reading this article, you will be able to enjoy you’re trip, and perhaps avoid exhausting yourself, wondering if you’ve seen everything, or regretting the money you’ve spent on your trip.

Krka National Park, which required driving to find. 

Rookie Mistake 1: Try to Fit to Much In 

So, you’ve just arrived in Paris and have about two days. You know you want to see Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and the Arch de Triomphe. Great! Two days should be enough for that, right?

Wrong. Here’s the thing about site-seeing. While two days sounds like it would be enough time to see all of those beautiful places and landmarks, you need to plan to wait in line. You need to schedule time to enjoy these activities: an hour at the Louvre will simply not be enough time. Plus, if you speed through the sites like that you are going to be exhausted.

Personally, I’ve learned that if I am in a big city, I need at least 3 full days and 3 nights to see what I want to see, and to be honest I feel much better if I am able to spend a day relaxing after I spend two days doing as much as possible. In smaller cities or towns, like Florence, you may be able to get away with two full days and two nights, but I would try to stay longer in less places to gain a deeper understanding.

In Thailand, I booked a flight from Phuket, but wanted to see Krabi. I ended up spending a full 24 hours traveling and I had only 5 days in Thailand. It was still amazing, but I could have used my time better. 

Rookie Mistake # 2: Doing Research After You Have Arrived

All right, you’ve met a couple of Australians and a cool New Zealand bloke at a hostel in Barcelona, and they inform you that Croatia is the place to be. Because of the gloriously inexpensive budget airline, Ryanair, you find an affordable one-way ticket to Zagreb. Cool! Croatia, here I come!

Sometimes, transit is a random van filled with loads of people. Do your research so you know what you are getting into. 

Then you arrive, and realize- no one actually speaks English as you disembark from your plane. Shit. Also, you’re phone only works with wifi. Oops. Additionally, you forgot to download the map of Zagreb. Is there even transit to the hostel you booked last night while you were drinking rum with those pirate-y Aussies?

To rectify the situation, you stay in the airport, far longer than necessary, using the Croatian wifi to download the maps, figure out where you are going, and grabbing the local Croatian currency- Kuna. By the time you make it to the hostel, you feel stressed and exhausted from doing all the research there. All of this could have been made simpler simply by doing a tiny bit of research and preparation beforehand.

While climbing a volcano in Nicaragua, My friend Liz and I packed too much. Our wonderful guide helped us- but it’s better to avoid this at all costs. 

Rookie Mistake #3: Packing too Much

So you are off to backpack the world. You will clearly need your favorite stuffed animal, full-size bottle of shampoo, conditioner, heels, your weight set (no one wants to come home fat, am I right?) and your parka, even though it’s summertime.

Honestly, half of that stuff will end up being left at the first hostel you need to walk too. Any more than 10 kilos of luggage will weigh you down, and cause an upcharge in flight prices. It is better to pack light, and get what you need from local places where you are exploring. And, if you think you need more, you can check out my basic backpacking list here.

Always pay in the local currency (pictured above: 2 20 pound notes in the United Kingdom)

Rookie Mistake #4: Not Paying In the Local Currency

Ahh, you’ve gotten a magical travel credit card. No International Transaction Fees!

Now, here is something they don’t tell you. Often, when you pay with credit card, you can choose to pay in your home currency (in my case, American dollars) or the local currency. If you choose your home currency, there will be more international fees to deal with than if you choose the local currency. Although the fees may seem minimal, it will save you more money to skip the fees.

img_20180425_065013Rookie Mistake Number 5: Traveling Sans Travel Insurance

Anything can happen when you are traveling. Often, you are experiencing new cultures, and different climates; all of which, make your immune system more susceptible to local infections. Travel insurance can be a real life saver. While I was in Australia, I got tonsillitis, which caused me to miss two flights. This ended up being okay, because I had insurance through World Nomad. However, I found that their administrative process took to long, so I switched from World Nomad to Allianz.

It turned out to be one of my better decisions because when I stayed in Liverpool I got my first (and hopefully, last) kidney infection. I had a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit and had to be hospitalized for three days. Allianz not only provided me with immediate support, but also worked toward paying the hospital bill directly. What could have cost roughly 3000 British pounds was reduced to literally nothing- all because of travel insurance.

In addition to my experiences I’ve met people who had all of their stuff stolen, including Visas. Travel insurance covers this as well.

Casually walking down the highway in New Zealand.

So there you have it. Five rookie mistakes that hopefully, you won’t experience while traveling. Hope you enjoy your trip! 🙂

The Perfect Itinerary: Nicaragua

Okay, so in an ideal world, I would have at least a month to spend in this country. It’s small, but there’s so much to do! Ultimately, my friend Liz and I spent about 9 days and 8 nights exploring. And, we could have done more.

Although we originally had an itinerary ending in Honduras, we amended that itinerary to spend extra time in Nicaragua. This seemed like a great idea, as we most certainly did not want to deal with the political unrest in Honduras.

Here’s what we ACTUALLY did, and how we spent our time:

Day 1: Caught a bus from Liberia over the border. Went to Ometepe after hearing great reviews at the hostel in Liberia.

When we arrived, we knew we had several goals to accomplish. We immediately found a cheap hostel, some food, and booked a volcano tour. Everything on this island was affordable, and the locals were incredibly accommodating, suffering through my questionable Spanish and helping me improve. Additionally, we booked a tour with a company. Next time, I would just go through the hostel where I stayed.

Day 2: Attempted to tour a volcano. Did not make the tour. Instead, ended up hiking the waterfalls.

This was an interesting time. The waterfalls were located near Madeira Volcano, which was on the other side of the island. We took a chicken bus, and ultimately ended up hitchhiking there, picking up friends, and more Spanish, along the way. Chicken buses can be incredibly crowded and our journey quickly became overly eventful.

Day 3: Hiked the Volcano Concepcion.

Of the two volcanos, Concepcion is bigger, but Madeira has a cloud forest. With more time, we could have hiked both places.

Day 4: Chilled out at the Hostel/ had a beach day.

We were super tired after the volcano and spent the day chilling out and prepping for our voyage the next day.

Day 5: Went from Ometepe to Granada

Ometepe is an island in the middle of a giant lake. So this voyage included a ferry, a bus, a tuck-tuck, and a walk. Needless to say, by the time we arrived in Granada we were exhausted, and hungry!

Day 6: Spent time exploring Granada and went to the Tree top Bar

Another travel adventure. We were invited by a random person from Seattle to attend dinner, and quickly learned about this legendary beverage spot. In order to arrive, we needed to buy tickets to get on a shuttle. This shuttle was actually a pick-up truck in which 17 drunk people was the decided upon limit. Why 17? No one knows. Anyway, so this pick-up truck takes you from the Lost Soul Bar (yes, that really is it’s name) to Tree-Top Bar which a remotely located pub requiring you to suffer through ridiculously bumpy rides and hike up stone steps for ten minutes. Upon arrival, you will not be disappointed- drinks are 1-2 US dollars, and the party is happening! If you are adventurous, even the ride is fun. The shuttles back ran until 3am, and there are even hammocks to crash in after your night of fun.

Day 7: Explored the City of Granada, went shopping and rested.

This may not sound fun, but it is! Everything in Granada is super ridiculously cheap and I found a brand name swimsuit for only $3.00! There’s a chocolate museum to check out, a cool old cemetery, and loads of beautifully colorful streets and restaurants. And, everything is a fraction of the price in Boston.

Day 8: Went to El Transito, a remote beach town in Nicaragua

I could have lived at the hostel we stayed at: Free Spirit Hostel. Offering Yoga and Surfing packages, and a free family dinner and breakfast, this place was truly paradise. I loved it. There were even lagoons to explore close by.

Day 9: Bussed to Leon, arriving around 230pm, and caught a 230 AM shuttle from Leon to Antigua

By this time we were so tired that we tried to relax. Although we attempted to explore, our journey had exhausted us, we had enough energy to book a pedicure. This was great fun. We chose not to book a room, and that was ok. Liz used her noggin and set a hammock up to relax in, while I proceeded to hang out in a pool and create friends from strangers.
If I could go back and do it again I would definitely spend more time in El Transito. Free Spirit Hostel was incredible. I would recommend a week in Ometepe, which would give you time to explore both volcanos and the waterfalls without exhausting you. Additionally, I would want to spend at least a month in Nicaragua to see everything this beautiful country offers.

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