Travel Diary: Denver for a Trip Around the Sun

I am sitting at the airport as I write this and, first off, I would like to acknowledge just how much I love the airport. It holds such a sense of adventure, such a promise of what’s to come. Plus, it’s a wonderful place to people watch.

But I digress, because that’s not really what this post is about.

I am on my way home from Denver, where I just spent a lovely three days with one of my favorite humans and her two cute pups. This is becoming a bit of a tradition. Every year at the 4th of July, I fly up to the Mile High City to see my best friend. Of course, this year, the Fourth fell on a Wednesday which was mildly inconvenient, so we just bumped our timeline up a little. Which actually worked out so well, because we also have a mutual love of Kenny Chesney, who happened to be playing in Denver this past weekend.

Naturally, we went.

This was my fourth time seeing Kenny, and Jen and mine’s second Kenny concert with one another, and it was just as fun as it’s ever been. I’m the product of Parrotheads, which probably means I was destined to be a part of the No Shoes Nation, but even without that prerequisite, there’s just something about a Kenny show.

I’ve always loved water, and always felt like, eventually, I’m destined to live beside it. Every Kenny Chesney concert simply confirms that prediction. There’s a feel to him — he’s a little bit country, a little bit rock, but he’s island through and through.

Plus, there’s the fact that Kenny was my first ever concert (I don’t count the Cheetah Girls in fourth grade), and you tend to have a bit of an attachment to whoever that was, right?

Besides, in my adult years — more specifically, since my junior year of college — it’s become a bit of a tradition to see him every tour, and if you know me, I’m a huge sucker for traditions.

I love knowing that you can always have something to look forward to. I love know that every summer, I’ll buy a plane ticket to Denver (granted, next summer may be an exception as we potentially shift our annual reunion overseas… but still, you get the picture.) I love knowing that Kenny Chesney will put me in a great mood and that I’ll be whisked off to the islands no matter where I am — whether it’s in the middle of the desert, at the edge of plains, or in the foggy bay.

But most of all, I love knowing that a friend will be there. I love knowing that I can call her up in the middle of the night because she’ll answer, and not just because she’ll be awake because of her crazy producer schedule. I love knowing that I can text her about the most mundane things and she’ll at least read it even if we’re both awful at replying. I love knowing how easily we can freak people out by accidentally saying the same thing at the same time. I love knowing that there’s a person I can always go to to remind me what’s important. I love the fact that we went from random Spanish project partners to coworkers to roommates to twins.

I mean, come on. We even unintentionally matched our outfits.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t start this post with the intention of making it a note of appreciation for my Shining Twin. But, I also started this blog on the floor of the Denver airport and I’m finishing it sitting upright at my desk, so I guess intentions can change with time, right? I always fall into a post-trip funk (anyone else with me on that? Coming home is great and I love what I come home to, but there’s still an element of sadness when a trip concludes). It’s heightened, when you just leave your best friend.

Anyways. Thanks, Denver, for another incredible trip, and here’s to the next one, in (pretty much) one trip around the sun.

The Sweetest Thing

Millennial friendship is such an anomaly, if you ask me. On one hand, we still very much have the “keeping up with the Jones’” competitive attitude of generations past – look at my new job, new fiancé, new baby, new dog (but no new house, as we are too busy buying avocado toast). On the other hand, we’re the generation throwing convention to the wind, and known for being excruciatingly supportive of it – oh, you want to quit your job to go drive around the US in an air stream trailer? TOTALLY, I’m so into your free spirit!

Photo taken at the Art of Ice Cream Experience.

That said, millennial friendship can be hard to strike a balance… to find the sweet spot, if you will.

Friendship is a balance of giving deep life advice with an edge of realness, and advising that you buy plane tickets you can’t afford just in the name of life experiences.

It’s a sweet spot somewhere between chatting about work over wine and charcuterie, and diving into a ball pit a The Art of Ice Cream Experience for the sake of an Instagram.

Photo taken at the Art of Ice Cream Experience.

It’s being real when it counts, and offering to take a million photos to get the “picture perfect” shot when it doesn’t.

It’s about showing up when you’re expected, and even when you’re not, while also respecting the inevitable boundaries of our always-on, career-driven millennial culture.

Friendship knows when to blindly support and when to offer a word of caution. That said, it’s also respecting where and when your opinion is warranted.

Photo taken at the Art of Ice Cream Experience.

It’s a game of chance. It’s not easy, but relationships between humans inherently aren’t. It’s just as much about finding the sweet spot and recognizing our own humanity and humility, and that of others. It’s knowing that we are all going through life, which is full of twists and turns and mistakes and glorious moments, and knowing how much sweeter it is to do that with a few good friends by your side.

Travel Diary: City of Angels

Los Angeles is the city of angels, beautiful weather, an unfortunately blue baseball team… and traffic. I went this last weekend and was reminded that no matter how long I have to spend in the car getting from place to place, I’m always infinitely happier when I cross the state line.

What We Did

We were mostly there for a girls weekend. One of our friends had her 25th birthday party, another was home from Denver, another is starting law school soon, and a third is about to leave for Spain. It was just a good time for us to get together.

I also snuck in a short visit with my cousin while everyone else was sleeping Sunday morning. Her and I did the “quintessential LA hike” – aka Runyon Canyon. And let me tell you… the views were absolutely gorgeous. I get why people fall in love with this city.

Where We Ate

Jinky’s Cafe
This has become a bit of a staple for my LA trips, because who says no to table tots? They also call their avocado toast guacamole toast, and I completely respect that they make no attempt to hide what it truly is. It’s literally guacamole on toast, and it’s delicious.

Boomtown Brewery
This was the site of the birthday party, and it’s got a really chill vibe and a very Instagrammable wall (priorities). There’s also a food truck outside that serves up a variety of fries. We accidentally got ours with buffalo cauliflower instead of buffalo chicken, but let me tell ya – that’s the best order mess up we’ve ever had.

Apparently, this place is famous. I’m not the biggest sausage fan, but they had a vegan option, which was oddly delicious.

Pro tip: there can be a bit of a line, though, so get there early or be patient!

The Bellwether
Good food, odd concept. Everything comes out as it’s ready, which can be great for grazing, but for us just meant that 2 of us got our avocado toast before the others got their respective French toast and chilaquiles. That said, I’m looking forward to going back when I don’t have a 6 hour drive ahead of me – the cocktails looked delicious!

So, there you have it: a quick recap of my quick trip to the second best city in California 😉

Next trip across the state line will be to Disneyland – you already know that I can’t wait!

Getting Lost

(I apologize because even after wracking my brain for an alternate title, I am unable to use any pun besides the one that is so obvious, but also the most appropriate.)

This past weekend, my best friends came to town, and together, we got lost. We attended the inaugural Lost Lake Festival in downtown Phoenix, a first-of-its-kind-at-least-for-the-Valley concoction of music, food, drinks, and experiences that culminated in one blissful weekend of forgetting about real life for a little while and losing yourself in the here and now.

I realize that sounds really hippie-dippie, and while there certainly were people there who indulged in that kind of quest to lose themselves, we were not among them. We were among those who instead took the three day festival as a chance to lose ourselves in laughter, in light, and in, of course, really good music.

Now, with my voice still somewhat gone, my apartment finally back in order, and my cat shunning me for making her interact with more than one other person, I reflect on the past weekend with nothing but absolute nostalgia and incredible gratitude. 

Our decision to go to Lost Lake was a little spontaneous, but we bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale back in April and have very much used this weekend as something to look forward to, especially as October ramped up and got, in a word, nuts. We used Lost Lake as an excuse to reunite, an excuse to eat a lot of carbs, and an excuse to, for lack of a better phrase, act our age. 

There’s a strange phenomenon in this world, particularly in people I know, where we don’t always get the chance to act like the twenty-somethings that we are. I’m not saying I always want to be that person, but every once in a while, it’s good, refreshing, and necessary to just let go.

There are times where work can be incredibly stressful, the world can feel unbearably heavy, heartbreak and grief can overwhelm us, and things just generally feel like a bit too much. I’m not saying those moments don’t, or shouldn’t exist. In fact, without them, it would make appreciating moments like the ones we experienced this weekend much more difficult. But even in the wake of the turmoil, stress, and pain, there is always immeasurable hope. We can choose to see that hope anywhere: in the spirit of a kind friend, the message of an impactful artist, or in the tinny ring of laughter. 

I’ve always looked at music as a way for humans to connect. In every performance, be it an entire set or just one song, there is always that moment where everybody is singing in absolute unison, soaking in whatever emotion that particular artist meant to get across at that time. Music offers us a way to find our similarities, and even make our differences less foreboding. 

Getting to spend three full days basking in the truthfulness and wonderfulness of that was so rewarding, and incredibly refreshing. 

Getting to spend it with some of the people who mean the most to me made it that much better.

So, thank you, Lost Lake. Thank you for bringing us together — both my friends, and the strangers we got to experience it all with. Thank you for shining light on what may be dark, and for further illuminating what is already iridescent. Thank you for reminding us that there is always good, always friendship, and always laughter.

Thank you for recharging my batteries and being a tangible reminder of what to focus on when life gets to be a lot to handle.

Thank you for being one of the best weekends ever.

Just… thank you.

Find Your Tribe

I’ve thought a lot about my friends recently. Partly because I get to see some of them in one week — eek! — but mostly because they have just really been on my heart lately. My two best friends live to the north and to the west, and to put it plainly: I miss them. But the more I miss them, the more grateful I find myself becoming. It’s like Winnie the Pooh says: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

How grateful am I to have something, and some people, to miss.

I’m pretty dang lucky to have the best friends that I do.

I have always eyed the groups of girls who grew up together, and still managed to keep their friendships tightly knit, with a twinge of envy. I’ll admit that. And while I am still lucky enough to have occasional contact with some of the people I grew up with, for the most part, my friends now are not the ones I had in high school. We met in college — but that doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, for me, that makes them even more so… because we met at the most crucial part of our lives to date. We were fully-formed humans and somewhat adults, and since that moment we clicked, we’ve been navigating the waters of young adulthood arm-in-arm (figuratively, of course).

One of my best friends and my self-proclaimed partner in crime, Kacie, and I spent some time talking about the oddity of having friends splashed around the country, and world. For both her and I, most of our dearest tribe members have left the state, with the exception of one another. In fact, we even made a pact that neither she nor I can move out of state unless the other one agrees to do so, too (it was sort of a joke, but Kace, I’m holding you to it).

Jokingly said or not, our conversation got me thinking more deeply about what it means to have a tribe, a support system, and a general sense of best friendship.

For me, it means never feeling alone, even when I am, quite literally, the only one around. My two best friends don’t live in Arizona anymore, and it’s been nearly a year since the three of us have all been together. But they are never more than a quick text, phone call, or Face Time away, even when we all manage to work entirely opposite schedules (shout out to our nighttime producer pal).

Having a tribe means always knowing exactly who to turn to. Let’s be honest — not every friend is going to offer the best support in any given situation. That’s just human nature; we’re not all built to think the same, and we don’t all go through the same things. One friend is going to be much more understanding of one problem than another; another friend entirely will be more willing to sit there and let me gush on and on about how in love I am. But the key is not necessarily that you only speak to certain people about certain things — it’s that you, yourself, are aware of who to turn to when, and are transparent about it. I’ve never wanted one friend to think I was hiding anything from another… it’s just a matter of who I needed to talk to at any given moment. The best part of finding your people will be that they completely understand that.

Having best friends means having a stable foundation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my best friends are my rocks. They ground me when necessary and they let my dreams and desires run wild with the utmost support. They do this whether they’re here in the Valley or scattered across the country. Distance doesn’t matter — though, I will say, I am selfishly stoked that a few of my friends have been moving back in state, and that Kacie and I are soon to be “neighbors.”

This post is little more than one of appreciation, for the people who constantly have my back, even from miles away. And to the friends who I do get to see more regularly, thank you, too, for understanding exactly where I may be at on any given day.

Finding your tribe is an essential part of discovering yourself, and I am immensely grateful to have found mine. Whether you’ve been buds since birth or connected later in life, I sincerely hope you have found yours, too.

23 Things

I initially wanted to start this post as 23 things I want to do while I’m 23, but I have a bit of an issue with such resolution-type posts… mainly because life is entirely too unpredictable to commit to such a lengthy list.

So instead, in the spirit of learning lessons and growing from them, I decided to reflect on the 23 things I learned before turning 23:

  1. When torn between going to the gym or spending time with people you love, pick the latter. The miles can be run some other time; the memories are far more precious.
  2. That said, when you feel like you need some alone time, don’t be afraid to take it. We can’t be social all the time, and sometimes, it’s okay to make yourself a priority and recharge your batteries. Your mental health will thank you.
  3. That said: don’t be afraid to talk about your health, mental or otherwise. If something hurts, go to a doctor. They’ll fix it, or at least give you options to do so. If you’re struggling emotionally, there is nothing wrong with confiding in someone, be it personally or professionally. We are human beings, and inherently flawed as such. There is no harm, or shame, in admitting that we aren’t perfect and we need help. Everyone will at some point or another.
  4. Taylor Swift has the perfect song for every occasion. I don’t care what anyone says, I will always love her songs for being so relatable.
  5. Some things are better left unsaid, like your not-so-positive opinion of someone’s outfit. Other things, especially the hard things, need to be spoken. No matter the consequence.
  6. Traveling is exciting, invigorating, and an essential part of life – but it is just as important to take the time to be rooted, and relax.
  7. You won’t stay in touch with everyone, no matter how close you were at one point or another. Social media has made it much easier to keep up with people, but there’s a difference between liking every Facebook post and actually knowing what’s going on in their lives.
  8. Then again, when you meet the people who matter most, no amount of distance or time spent apart can sever that bond.
  9. Music can create some of the best connections. So can food.
  10. Pineapple does not belong on pizza.
  11. Loss is an unavoidable truth of life. Whether its the loss of your favorite keychain, losing a game, or the painful loss of a loved one – each loss will help shape us. Maybe we find a new favorite keychain, or learn to stop trying to play the game we just aren’t good at, or a new community who help pull you through a season of grief. Loss will happen, but good can certainly come from it.
  12. Some people will never forgive you for your transgressions. These are the same people who won’t see that you had good intentions even if you mishandle a situation, or let you forget about that time you said something you didn’t entirely mean. These aren’t the people whose opinions should matter.
  13. It’s not as easy to live without a washer and dryer (and dishwasher) as you might think.
  14. Social media is a highlight reel. It’s also a wonderful vessel for communication and a tool to express yourself. Also, most people don’t care if you double post on Instagram.
  15. Sentimental jewelry is worth investing in. Maybe it was frivolous to spend thirty pounds on a Claddagh ring from that tiny silver shoppe in Scotland, but I’ve worn that ring proudly every day as a reminder of both my grandmother’s Scottish heritage and the amazing adventure I took to Edinburgh.
  16. Not all great wine comes in expensive bottles. (However, my favorite wine does.)
  17. Having lofty dreams is totally cool. Having unrealistic expectations is not.
  18. Sometimes, the vision you had for your life at a certain point won’t pan out the way you thought it would… and it will turn out better than you could have imagined. No, I’m not living in London and writing a glamorous travel blog like I once thought I’d be by 23. Instead, I’m dwelling in the desert, quietly exploring new places and experiencing new things, and absolutely loving life.
  19. It’s important to make sure you don’t accidentally select the Uber Pool option. Otherwise, you and your friend might end up in a questionable part of Queens with a bunch of people you don’t know.
  20. Turning away from God during hard times might seem like the easy solution, but it’s absolutely the wrong one. Even if we are angry at Him for putting us through a certain season, we need to turn to Him for guidance. He has reasons, and a plan. Trusting in Him will make everything easier.
  21. The finest things in life are family and friends.
  22. Never buy a romper that is not stretchy enough to step out of without getting entirely undressed. Also, never buy a romper that ties in the back.
  23. The best kind of love shows up when you least expect it.

Here’s to another 365 more days around the sun, and to 24 life lessons to share a year from now.

Thank You

Can I just be honest and throw something out there?

It’s been a really ridiculous week.

I thought last week was bad – tensions were high, people were upset, things were just generally feeling a little bit off-kilter across the nation. I thought this week was going to be better.

I was wrong.

This week was long. It’s only Thursday, and I can’t wait another twenty-four hours for my weekend to begin (but, of course, I have to). I know part of it is the anticipation of the holiday next week, because, let’s be honest, when you’re anticipating anything, it makes it harder to wait for it.

However, as stressful and busy as this week has been, it has also been pretty eye-opening.

Guys, I don’t say “thank you” enough. Not when it really matters.

Heck, I can’t even keep up with an Insta-challenge for #30DaysofThanksgiving (yes, you caught me – yes, I’ll own up to it).

I’ve had some conversations over the past week that have just really opened my eyes to how incredibly blessed I am. I have a support system securely in place and that’s something I need to be more aware and openly grateful for. I thank God for it every night, but I don’t openly say it enough. So that’s what I’m doing now – I’m saying thank you. To everyone who helps get me through weeks like this one… thank you.

To my morning barista, who knows that I hate the little chunks from the almond milk floating in my iced coffee, thank you for understanding and putting up with my ex-barista pickiness.


To my boss, who consistently reminds me that she’s looking out for my best interest, whether it’s with a Twix from her kids’ Halloween stash or a calming conversation in the conference room. Thank you for being the #bestboss.

To my dad, who sends me “good morning, have a great day” texts, thank you for those. I definitely don’t say that enough to you, but I appreciate the random tokens of love more and more every second.


To my neighbor, who brings me tamales and tells me how much he loves to see the cat poking her head out every day, thank you for taking on the neighborhood watch role, and for reminding me that random acts of kindness are definitely still a thing.

To the group of people I spend every Wednesday night with, reflecting on the Word. Thank you for keeping me grounded, and for reminding me that reflection, praise, and worship is not just for Sunday mornings. Thank you for the hour we spend talking about everything else – from pageantry to the newborn babies in the group – and for all the laughter and support I’ve found since joining this RC.

To the entire fam-damily, who I feel like I don’t see nearly enough. Thank you for being my Bravermans, and for always giving me something to look forward to. Thank you for always rallying together, no matter what’s going on. Family over everything… always, every time.


To my partner-in-crime, who has no problem spending entire nights drinking wine, eating chocolate, and exploring little Scottish towns (or reminiscing about those days). Thank you for being one of the greatest people in my life, and for always reminding me that there’s peanut butter and adventures to look forward to.

To the coordinators of the Redemption Kids ministry, thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend 90 minutes, every other Sunday, with the cutest kids around.

To my mom, thank you for… well, this list could get incredibly long. Thank you for putting aside time in your day to let me call you, crying about #adulting. Thank you for getting on board with watching Gilmore girls. Thank you for your example. Thank you for everything, to infinity and beyond.


To my office parking lot attendant, who always waves whenever we enter or leave the garage. It’s a little thing, but it’s nice to know you’re paying attention. Thank you.

To my best friends, who get excited about the most random things and who plan semi spontaneous reunions in the middle of the country. Thank you for understanding me at my best and worst, and for being the most solid foundation I’ve ever had.

To the girl I went to high school with, who I got to spend a lovely dinner with, and who always makes it feel like we can pick right back up where we left off. Thank you for showing me what true strength is, and for helping me realize just how blessed I am.

If I tried to thank everyone, this list would be never-ending. And if you skipped to the bottom for the tl;dr condensed version: thank you. Thank you to every single person who, big or small, makes every day a little bit brighter.