Apr 6, 2016

The "travel bug"? It's a real thing.

Hello internet world. So, here's the thing. I'm fairly vocal about a few things in my life, and probably the thing I'm second most vocal about is my love for travel, right after my love for my husband. 

Here's why (at least everything I can think of right now): 

I love the person it makes me. 
I'm more understanding and open-minded. 
I'm more adventurous. 
I do things just for the sake of doing them because they're part of the adventure. 
I learn how to be more independent and go with the flow of what's happening. 
I get to wander. 
I discover new things about myself.
My best qualities are amplified, and my weak qualities are strengthened.
I get to find creative solutions to problems. 
I learn more about different people and cultures. 
It connects me to people I otherwise might not connect with. 
It makes me happy.
It's exciting. 
I love it.

Mar 29, 2016

Bucket list-ing.

So, here's the thing. My wonderful husband has been taking a class on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and in that class he had to write a bucket list of 50 things. Yes, 5-0. So, since my life lately has primarily consisted of frustration and has been lacking in inspiration, I've decided to take a page out of his book (get it? Because his class is on a book) and finally make my own bucket list. I've had a lot of ideas in my mind for a very long time, but I'm finally going to write them down. Partially, because I'm avoiding the homework that I hate and don't want to do, which is ironic since this blog post is technically homework. Ugh. So, here it is.

***Note: I am not including any family or spiritual goals. Not because I don't have them, but because I don't think they really qualify as bucket list-y things. ***
  1. Ride an elephant in Thailand. 
  2. See the Northern Lights in a cool place. 
  3. Defeat the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64.
  4. Win something. (a prize, sweepstakes, etc. Not just a game)
  5. Make a delicious Christmas dinner for my family. 
  6. Successfully host Thanksgiving dinner.
  8. Go on a humanitarian trip with Brayden.
  9. Visit all 50 U.S. states. (10 down, 40 to go.)
  11. See Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London! (Coming April 2017)
  12. Walk the Great Wall of China while singing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. And just for your viewing and listening pleasure... 
  13.  Book a super awesome unbelievably amazing travel deal on a whim. 
  14. Go on a spontaneous road trip. 
  15. Go to the airport and buy a ticket for the next flight.
  16. Attend a Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon taping in New York. 
  17. Hike in Tierra del Fuego
  18. Go fishing in Alaska. And catch a big one. 
  19. Bike through France.
  20. Drive through the Italian countryside. 
  21. Eat a Belgian waffle. In Belgium. 
  22. Two words: Santorini, Greece.
  23. Walk through rice terraces in Vietnam.
  24. Do yoga at Angkor Wat
  25. Make an "Africa" video, just like like Dax Shephard and Kristen Bell. #relationshipgoals In case you don't know what I'm talking about and your poor soul needs enlightened....
  26. Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up.
  27. Run through the hills of Ireland.
  28. Boat through Venice. Yes, boat. 
  29. Walk from one country to another.  Done: 5/24/15
  30. Hobbiton. 
  31. Hold a baby tiger.
  32. Hike Kilimanjaro. 
  33. Ride a moped through India. 
  34. Kiss Brayden at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  35. Go to an epic sporting event: e.g. World Cup, Super Bowl, Olympics, etc.
  36. Camp on a beach.
  37. Sleep in a tree house.
  38. Open an Etsy shop.
  39. Eat pizza in Naples, Italy.
  40. Go on a river cruise in D.C. during cherry blossom season.
  41. Go to all of the Disneylands.
  42. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  43. Float in the dead sea. 
  44. Explore Petra, Jordan. 
  45. Hike to Machu Picchu. 
  46. Become fluent in another language.
  47. Drink tea in China.
  48. Go on a foodie tour of a city.
  49. Go scuba diving.
  50. Swim in the Great Barrier Reef.
  51. Go to a show at the Sydney Opera House.
  52. Attend a cooking class in Japan. 
  53. See one of my favorite artists in concert. (I've been to a few of those too, but I wouldn't say any of my favorite artists)
  54. See The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
  55. Go to a Broadway show in New York.
  56. Walk where Christ walked in Jerusalem. 
  57. Ski the Alps.
  58. Hike the Alps with Brayden.
  59. Swim in every ocean.
  60. Make a difference.
  61. Walk through Central Park. 
  62. Make a dream board.
  63. Meet someone famous.
  64. Let off a lantern at the Loi Krathong festival.
  65. Celebrate Holi in India.
  66. Stay in one of those huts over the water in Bora Bora.
  67. Celebrate New Year's in another country.
  68. Dance in Rio de Janeiro.
  69. Go to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  70. Visit Chernobyl.
  71. Hike Mount Doom.
  72. Ride a Segway. 
  73. Run through lupine fields in New Zealand. 
  74. Feed a giraffe. 
  75. Get out of an escape room  Done: 9/29/16
  76. Go to the temple at least once a week for an entire year.
  77. Have the perfect Christmas.
  78. Catch a fish by fly fishing.
Ok, so that may be more than 50, but once you start, it's hard to stop. There are so many more places I want to go, and things to see and do. But for now, I think this is a good list to start with. 

Also, Brayden saw me working on this, and finally actually started working on his own bucket list on his new blog. Am I inspirational or what?

Mar 23, 2016


I don't typically talk publicly about politics. It's so unbelievably frustrating. But I finally can't stand it any longer. I've been working on this post for awhile,  and I think it's about time I put it out there. I'm not going to tell anyone who to vote for. But I have to express what I seen.

Now, you may be having some thoughts run through your head like, "what does she know? Millennials are too young to really know what they're talking about". Allow me to answer that question and defend myself. Many people know that I've been in college for 4 years now. As my last post said, I just turned 23. Yet, I still have 2 years of college left. And why is that? Well, it took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do with my life, to "find my calling".

However, I'll be the first to tell you that I don't think the last four years have been wasted. Not in the slightest. I frequently tell people I have a very well-rounded education. And I firmly believe that. For about a year of my college career, I was a political science major. Interesting coming from someone who just said they hate politics and talking about politics, right? In my classes, we didn't just sit there debating policy and which political leaders we thought were the best and why. Instead, we learned about political theories. We were given scenarios and acted as countries for several weeks, practicing things like foreign policy, trade, economics and basically everything that comes with being a country.

After my year studying political theory, both international and domestic, I transferred to BYU, and then turned to the business school. Every business student is required to take several prerequisites before they apply to the business school, and one of those I found to be inexplicably more valuable than the others: Economics.

So, what gives me the right, besides being an American citizen over the age of 18, to have an opinion on who should or shouldn't run our country? My education. My experiences. I've spent the last four year studying the very things these politicians are debating about. That doesn't mean I have all of the answers and solutions to our problems. It means I understand how complicated political situations are. It means I understand economic implications, foreign policy, domestic policy, and that little thing we're supposed to remember and learn from: history.

On top of my education, I've travelled. And I've felt and seen things that only those who have travelled can understand. We can take pictures and try to explain it, but something happens to you that those who haven't travelled can't understand. In general. I'll leave room for a few exceptions. When you travel, you see how other people live. You experience their culture. You begin to understand them. Most importantly, you see them for what they are: people.

There's a term that I learned in my days as a poli-sci major, and it's one of my favorite words/concepts. It's the word "othering". Othering is when you divide yourself from other people. It's when an "us vs. them" situation is created. This is a very dangerous concept because you stop seeing them as people. You see them as the enemy. And sometimes, they may be. But when you other, you cut off all opportunity for understanding. You breed hate and fear. And that is one of the most dangerous things that can happen.

In fact, I'd say two of the most dangerous things we face socially as humans are othering and ignorance.

These are the two things that Donald Trump thrives on. I have read countless first-hand accounts of the discrimination and danger that anyone who opposes him faces at his rallies. Black. White. Peaceful. Violent. These people are literally having their rights taken away. The sad thing though, is that it's not typically the protesters that are violent. It's the members of the crowd that they have to walk past as they exit.

I love Humans of New York. Also known as HONY if you live under a rock. I love the stories that are told there. I love that they allow me to see things and people with a different perspective and open mind. Well, Brandon Stanton, the writer and genius behind HONY wrote the following open letter to Donald Trump, and I fully support everything he says in it. So I'm just going to leave it right here:

An Open Letter to Donald Trump:Mr. Trump,I try my hardest not to be political. I’ve refused to interview several of...
Posted by Humans of New York on Monday, March 14, 2016

Please, I beg you. If you're considering voting for Trump, open your eyes. Stop listening to his blanket statement promises, have an open mind, and watch what's happening. Read first hand accounts of what's happening. They're not coming from the news, which if you're like me, you typically shrug off as bias and one-sided anyways. They're coming from people just like you. People with lives and families. People who are scared for the future of this country, and rightfully so. People who are fellow Americans. People who, though they may have a religion different than yours that you don't understand, are striving to live their lives in the way that their conscience tells them is right and they believe will bring them closer to God. Stop associating anyone of a particular group with the extremists of that group. Because the people who carrying out the attacks in Boston, California, Paris, and Belgium, are not true followers of Islam. If they were, they'd be sharing a message of peace, not carrying out violence.

Finally, I'm just going to end with this....

Mar 11, 2016

Happy birthday to me, nobody likes you when you're 23.

Though it may seem like it, this is not a poor me post. It's inspired by something that every 90's kid should understand, and that is: 
  • There are several songs essential for particular birthdays
  • One of those songs is 22 by Taylor Swift. Obviously.
  • Another is What's my age again? by Blink 182
If you're sadly unfamiliar with the song, here's a slightly inappropriate music video to fill you in. You're welcome?

So yesterday I turned 23. It feels so old. My mom thinks I'm going to have a melt down when I hit a "real milestone" birthday as she says. Truth be told, for the last two years, I've struggled with my age for exactly 1 month and 6 days after my birthday. And then I'm fine again. Why 1 month and 6 days you may ask? Because that's how long my husband and I are the same age. Stupid, I know. But I like my man being older than me. So from March 10-April 16th while we're the same age, I struggle. But anyways! This blog post is about all of the fun we had together yesterday! 

It started out with me telling Brayden the night before that I was allowed to sleep in until 10:00, but not any later. And while I got up and got ready, he went out and got me a breakfast burrito and sodalicious. #truelove. 

Finally we headed out the door and up to Payson Canyon! We couldn't go up too far, because the stupid winter gates are still closed, but we drove as far as we could, and then geo-cached our way back down. And I have to say, we had quite a lovely day. 

 I was really enjoying the effects my lipstick had on Brayden's face :) And we found a geo-cache somewhere near this sign...
 We took a trip down Lover's Lane...
 And found this gem. It's a coconut carved into two gorillas. Hanging from a tree. #nbd
 I spotted this guy!
 And Brayden found this one! He reached up and grabbed it. I had to climb.
 It was a beautiful day!
A beautiful day that included snow...
 And most importantly, the love of my life. 
There may or may not be a geo-cache hidden somewhere in this picture as well. 

After geo-caching, we went to Red Lobster and I had my favorite crab-steak-salad-mashed potatoes combo. So heavenly. And then we came home and had cake and ice cream with family and friends! So I can't actually say nobody likes me now that I'm 23. I felt lots of love yesterday. And today, I really loved on the left-overs of my cake. And ya know what, I have ZERO shame about it. Because it has been a very long time since I've had my traditional funfetti cake with rainbow chip frosting. You know the stuff. The magic was taken away from this beautiful earth and then brought back after several long, depressing years. Shame on you, Betty Crocker. If you think I'm talking about the disgraceful funfetti frosting with the sprinkles on the top, you are gravely mistaken. Here's what you've been missing out on: 

Now go get some! You won't regret it.

Flow: more than just what your water does.

            So here’s the thing, lately I’ve been feeling like I’m in a rut. I don’t feel like I’ve been productive with all of the ridiculous amounts of free time that I have. And I haven’t. Somehow I get lost away in the wonderful/terrible world of the Internet. It’s so obnoxiously easy to get lost there for hours. And I hate it. Even if I feel like I was researching valuable things, at the end of the day, I still don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. It was another day wasted. And on top of that, somehow I still end up doing homework until 1 am the night before it's due and then waking up early to finish it. What is wrong with my life?? That is the question.

            I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why that is and what I can do to fix it and be happier with myself and my life. It’s not that I would say I’m unhappy, because I’m not. I’m very happy. But I know that I could feel... More fulfilled. And that I have the potential to do a lot more than what I’ve been doing. So here’s what I’ve come up with.

            As a recreation major, I’ve learned a lot about this idea called “Flow”. I love flow. I think it’s super cool. There’s great research to back it up, and on top of that, it’s something that I think everyone can relate to and has experienced. Flow is when you’re engaged in something that is highly challenging, but that you have a high level of skill to match and when you get immediate feedback on how your skills are matching up to that challenge. When Brayden describes getting lost in computer programming to me, I know that’s when he’s in a state of flow.
            Perhaps the most relatable, or at least the best known, condition of flow comes from athletics. It’s that being “in the zone” feeling. You’re challenged. You can meet that challenge. And you immediately know how successful you are in that challenge. You're focused and you're happy. I’ve felt flow playing tennis, writing essays, cleaning, putting on makeup, and even blogging or being “crafty”. Crafting is my new favorite hobby, though I think it typically puts me more into the relaxation category. 

            What does it feel like? There’s a TED talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly (try saying that name, I dare you) called “Flow, the secret to happiness” in which he describes what flow is and how it’s been describes by people in the past. Here’s a link to it, but he has a really strong accent, so it’s not an easy talk to listen to. Some of the examples he uses of ways other people have described flow are “ecstasy” and feeling like you’re “floating away”. When you’re in flow, you can completely forget your body. You don’t feel hunger and hours can pass without you realizing it. I’m pretty positive it’s different than getting lost in the internet though.

            Why does flow matter? It makes you happy. So friends, if you find yourself in a rut, trying spending a little more of your time doing something that allows you to go into flow. And if you can go into flow at work, more power to ya.

Mar 3, 2016

"What if you write a blog post about... Fish. Or... Pictures."

When I asked my husband what I should write my blog post about this week, this was the response I got:

"What if you write a blog post about.... Fish. Or.... Pictures." 

Ok? Instead of making fun of my dear love, even though it would have been so easy, I decided to just go with it. So, that's what I'm going to write about. I really don't know how he came up with fish. Pictures I could tell he came up with because he started looking around the room. Our home has lots of pictures up. We're not big fans of blank walls. There's always something to look at. 

Anyways, putting the two together, instantly made me think of this lovely thing: 

By the way, I firmly believe that every man cave needs one of those singing fishes. However, I still don't understand what possessed anyone to ever make them.

I'm not sure why, but it makes me think of my grandpa. He loved to sing and was always so obnoxious about it, but now that he's gone, it's one of my favorite things about him. He always sang "Hey Good Lookin'" and said, "I detest, despise, abhor, abominate dried apple pie". I always thought that phrase was like... Some Southern thing. I was a kid, I had no idea. It wasn't until I heard a friend's grandpa say the same thing that I realized it might be some generational thing. Like a song. I just googled it. Apparently it's a poem and it says "I loathe detest...", but in my mind, I'll always hear my grandpa's voice and see him standing in the kitchen dancing.

I also started thinking about a painting my grandma made me. It wasn't fish, it was frogs. Or a frog. It was a very green painting. They gave it to me for Christmas one year after my grandpa got sick and they were starting to struggle financially. It meant a lot to me that she painted it for me, and she really was an unbelievable artist, but I just.... Didn't like it.... Or at least, didn't want to hang it up in my room? It wasn't really my style and didn't match. Which makes me feel horrible to say. And I always have felt bad about that painting, because one time my grandma made a comment about the fact that I hadn't hung it up, so she knew I didn't like it. Which was true... But it still meant a lot to me that she had done it for me. I still feel guilty every time I look at that painting, and I never told my grandma how much it meant to me that she made it for me. But some things you just can't change. And that's life, right?

Feb 25, 2016

Small town girl living in the big city.

So, here’s the thing, I’ve learned recently how easy it can be to get caught up in being someone you’re not. I’m going to start by saying that I have nothing against the people who began to influence me or the things that they were doing. It just wasn’t me.  It wasn’t who I am.
Like most things in my life lately, it started with the wedding. I was talking with some of my friends about it and the planning and of course the subject of hair and make up came up. They asked if I was going to get hair and eyelash extensions. I’d never really thought about it before. I’d just barley started to realize how full and luscious hair extensions could make your hair look. My sister-in-law always has fake eyelashes, so I’d seen hers lots of times and they look great, but it wasn’t something I’d ever considered for myself. On top of hair and makeup, the topic of spray tans came up. Specifically, contouring spray tans. If you’re like I was and don’t know what that is, they basically spray you to make you look skinny and toned. Magic, right?

I began to really think about doing those things. Every girl wants to look flawless on her wedding day! And I knew those were things that could help with that. On the other hand, I also thought about waking up next to my husband for the first time. We’d been on trips and camping and things like that together, so he definitely already knows what I look like first thing in the morning when I wake up, but that’s not the same. I mentioned to my friends that I wanted my husband to actually see me when we woke up, and one of the girls said, “Not me! I’m going to be as fake as possible, and I’m going to look sexy!”

So I kept thinking about it. I couldn’t quite let it go. So I thought maybe I’d try it out. I asked my sister-in-law if she would do my makeup for me. She does an AMAZING job and always looks flawless. I still wasn’t sure if I’d want her style of makeup on my wedding day, but we decided to do a test run. And I did look good. I had no doubt that my skin would look flawless in every picture that was taken that day. But every time I looked in the mirror, I had a hard time recognizing the girl looking back at me. I couldn’t see past the makeup. My husband, sweet guy that he is, just kept saying, “It looks good. It’s different, but it looks good.” He tries to not sway me by his opinions. By the end of the day, my mind was made up. I didn’t want to look or feel like someone else on my wedding day. I didn’t want to look like someone else and not recognize myself in my wedding pictures.

It may sound like a simple thing, but during the few weeks that all of this was happening, I found myself caught up in a world of expensive makeup (which actually is really amazing. I still love and fully support it), extensions, and basically things that are just... fake. Again, totally not judging people who like those things. I fully support women doing whatever they want to feel good about themselves. It just wasn’t me. But because it felt like everyone around cared so much about those things, I began to understand how people can change who they are to fit in with the people around them. I felt pressured to do things I never thought I would care about. And in reality, as soon as I stopped caring about what other people would think of me, I really didn’t care about extensions and contouring spray tans at all!

At the end of the day, all I cared about was my fiancĂ©. And that we would soon finally be married. I have always known that he loves me for me. It just took me some time to realize that me was who he wanted to marry. I didn’t need to become someone else just to look flawless for our wedding day. He loves me and we were getting married. That’s all that mattered. And the best part was, I felt like me on my wedding day. I looked like me. 

And this guy became mine for the rest of forever. Isn't he handsome? I sure think so :)

So, if you find yourself living in a new place surrounded by new people, always remember who you are. Don’t be afraid to just be yourself. You don’t always have to care about the things that the people you care about do. And if you find that you are losing yourself to the people or the things around you, in my experience, nothing will help you find yourself again better than the people you love and a trip home.