Put The Phone Down

I will be the first to admit that I am a little bit addicted to my phone. Ask anyone who knows me — they will probably agree, and I don’t mind if they do. I know I’m not alone in this addiction, not that such a fact makes things any better. But it is a fact, nonetheless, and an inherent truth about the generation in which I was raised. I grew up alongside the smartphone, I evolved as it did, and now, it seems literally impossible to live without it.

Now, let me clarify something. When I say “impossible,” I mean that quite literally. So much of our lives — personally, professionally, what have you — depend on our phones. Think about it. How much of your life would be dramatically impacted if you had to leave the phone at home? For one day! One 24 hour period!

It’s hard. It’s downright near impossible.

And that is really unfortunate.

The more aware I’ve become of my phone addiction, the more it bothers me. Now, I know that the true key to breaking a bad habit is to quit cold turkey, but as doing so would massively impact my productivity, I don’t know if that’s a feasible option right now. That said, I have been challenging myself lately to find times where I can go without.

Now, there are of course already certain times where having my phone anywhere near me is entirely out of the question. I put it away any time that I’m at church or writing in my journal or reading the Bible. I put it away for family dinners and other “important” events. But what’s to say that I shouldn’t deem every dinner important, every event worthy of my full attention? Especially things where it feels so natural to have my phone with me because, frankly, I always have.

Take date night, for example. This is one that I’m especially aware of because it feels really unfair to keep my phone out. I generally try to keep it in my purse, but I am guilty of mindlessly scrolling while we’re driving, or waiting to be seated. The boy is incredible with how little he uses his phone in general. He, I’d say, is definitely not addicted. So I try to pay him the same respect when we have dates. There are even some dates that I put the phone away altogether. I’ll switch it off (but not before texting my mom and my best friends that they can reach me via him if she needs to, because that, too, is a state of the world in which we live… being unreachable is unthinkable).

Or, just lounging around the house. Back when I did my 40 days without Netflix, I also started to challenge myself to put my phone out of reach when I didn’t need it. If I’m reading, I try to keep my phone on the charger, out of arm’s length. If the boy and I are cozying up to watch Pokemon, I’ll put my phone on a different table.

Now, I’m not saying I’m great at doing it all the time. In fact, more often than not, I must admit that my phone is still glued to my hand, but I am certainly attempting to be more conscious about it… which, inherently, leads me to be more conscious about life, in general. And I love that.

So, I’m curious. Do you have a phone addiction? What steps do you take to break away from the screen?

Why I Still Love Disneyland at 23 (And Always Will)

I love Disney. This isn’t news at all to those who know me, and likely isn’t very surprising for anyone who has spent any time on my various forms of social media. Our Friday night movie nights have slowly turned into Friday night Disney night, and one of my favorite workout playlists (or, frankly, just favorite playlists in general) is my “Disney Hits” compilation.

Now, I personally don’t think it’s all that strange to have such an unending love for Mickey and all of his friends at my age, especially considering the generation I was raised in. I mean, come on. My childhood was smack dab in the middle of the Disney Renaissance. (Well, technically, it was at the tail end of them, if you feel like getting really specific, but I don’t.)


I’ve heard, however, that some people think being so in love with Disney in your twenties is odd. I’ve even had some unsolicited opinions targeted in my direction, which, while I don’t take any offense to them, I’m still a bit baffled by. What’s the harm in finding joy in something that is meant to do just that?

The boy and I will be in Disneyland tomorrow. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition, if you can consider something you’re doing 2 years in a row a tradition, which I’m choosing to do. We chose the end of April very specifically: last year, it was because he was working in tax, and a post-April-15th trip to a place that is designed to bring back the magic of childhood was exactly what the doctor ordered. We realized that it was also a really great time to go: right after the spring break madness and before school lets out for the summer. The lines are (a tad bit) shorter, and there’s (relatively) more breathing room. Not that the crowds would bother us regardless, as we know perfectly well what we’re getting ourselves into with a trip to the parks, but it’s a good perk.


That said, we made a pact to come back again the next April. Granted, there’s no more tax deadline prompting us to do so, but we made a deal to do it, and here we are, going back to the happiest place on earth almost exactly a year after our last trip. And I am so stoked.

Because the magic of Disney has nothing to do with the commercialism. I don’t love it because it’s highly Instagramable, or because there’s really cute rose gold Mickey ears. I love it for the smell of churros wafting from the gates, for the anticipation that builds the second you hear that chiming Main Street music. I love it for the lack of responsibility, for the thrill of Space Mountain, and for the genuine excitement I feel when I track down (and subsequently run after) Peter Pan.

Fun fact: I owe him 500 churros for taking this picture with me. And he, of course, had to be in front. Because he’s Peter.

I love it because it’s nostalgic, and I think that in that nostalgia is exactly where Disney finds its magic.

Now, I realize that my attitudes towards Disney will likely change as I get older and life changes. If I ever go with kids, I’m sure I’ll experience the frustration of toting a toddler around. But seeing a child squeal with pure elation because they’re about to give Tigger a hug is a feeling like no other — I get excited when it happens now, and I’m nowhere close to having kids! It reminds me of my own visits to the parks before I was old enough to know there was a human hiding in that costume.

And the thing is, Disney’s dynamic draw goes beyond just the parks. Watching a classic Disney movie, or listening to the music, or going to see how the Imagineers have reinvented something that came out when I was a kid… it’s all heartwarming. It makes me feel so happy, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. In fact, I’m pretty sure, that’s exactly what makes it so great.

So yes, I love Disney at 23. I loved it at 2. And I can’t wait to love it even more when I’m 83.

See you tomorrow, Mickey.

everything is working out.jpg

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.

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.

Take Care

I think we can all agree: this week has been a long one.

When the week begins with tragic, heartbreaking news, and you go reeling into Monday with the weight of the world on your shoulders, it is impossible to feel on track. Maybe that’s just me, but most people I’ve spoken with this week have had the same undeniable burden of grief and sadness bearing down on them.

As Monday went on, blurred by breaking news and consumed with a devastating sense of loss, the shock wore off and the anger set in: anger at the state of our broken world, anger at the undeniable truth that something in our system is wrong, anger at the general divisiveness we see even on a day of overwhelming grief.

Tuesday came and suddenly reality hit again. Our world has to keep turning even in the wake of tragedy, and for many, that means pulling our bootstraps up and plodding along through work and the things that may have been on pause as we reacted. For others, that means diving even deeper into tragedy as they continue to cover, investigate, and rebuild. (I’d like to take a moment here to thank them for their resilience and bravery.)

This week has gotten me thinking about self care; in particular, how we often neglect it when we’re dealing with heavy things. Whether it’s on a national level or a more personal one, it’s easy to keep yourself busy and distracted rather than pause to process and protect yourself from further damage by taking the time to mend, rest, and heal.

But it is ever so important — perhaps more so, in times of great loss, than ever.

We each have our own idea of what self care looks like. For me, it often involves a large glass of wine and a good book, or a British baking show, and probably some chocolate. It involves long hugs from my boyfriend and time spent with loved ones, just to remind myself that there is good in this world and they are my favorite example of it, and cuddles with the cat, who (feisty as she may be) is a regular reminder of the innocence all around us. It involves reflection and prayer. It occasionally involves a long, hard run to sweat out all the toxins and frustrations I’ve got pulsing through me that day.

So as this long, heavy week comes to a close, I implore you: take a time out. Take a moment and take a breath.

Take care of yourself.

You’re important.

Current Mode: Resting

This summer was a whirlwind.

Granted, it was a beautiful, amazing, happy whirlwind… but a whirlwind nonetheless. I figured out that in the 12 weeks of what you might call “traditional summer” (June, July, August), I was home for a grand total of 3 of them.

The best part? I didn’t plan it that way. It just sort of… happened.

And, full disclaimer: I have zero complaints about traveling that much (except, perhaps, that I didn’t get to clean my apartment nearly as much as I might have liked).

I love to travel. I love to be on the move. I love experiencing everything from the most touristy spot in Times Square to the random little coffee shop across from the Eiffel Tower to the best-kept secret resort in the Ohio River valley. I think travel is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as human beings, and I absolutely plan on continuing to make it a priority.

But this summer also taught me about something else, something entirely unexpected, and something equally as important to maintaining a balanced, fulfilled, and healthy life:


It seems that, especially in the social media age, being exhausted and overbooked has become trendy. I’ll admit that I feed into this phenomenon, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing. In fact, I’ve read many articles about the dangers of glorifying exhaustion (check some out here, or here, if you’re interested). While many of these articles talk to the plight of an overstretched college student, I have definitely seen this trend rolling over into my adult years, and those of my friends.

Between work, networking, overbooked social schedules, and an attempt at staying fit (or whatever other activities are peppering our planners)… we’re all just entirely too exhausted for twenty-somethings.

And, sometimes, I fear that it will do exactly what some of those articles say, and lead to an early-life crisis.

I ask you: what’s the glory in that?

When I was younger, I used to get so annoyed that my mom only let me have one sleepover per weekend. And, sometimes, if she thought I’d been too social lately, I wasn’t allowed to have any. I thought it entirely unfair, in my surly, stubborn, teenager-y way. But now? Now I live for the weekend nights where my boyfriend and I get to do nothing, where we sit on the couch and marathon Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean… and I appreciate my mom’s logic in keeping me home occasionally more than ever.

I’m not saying that I have to, or even want to, do nothing every weekend.

But I am learning to appreciate the weekends that I get to do exactly that. It’s the perfect chance to hit pause, recharge, and just appreciate all of the travel and times that have brought you here, to this moment of much-needed rest and relaxation.

After all, it’s all about balance. You won’t appreciate travels if you’re far too exhausted to enjoy them, just like you won’t appreciate rest if you’re too bored to think straight.

This summer has brought into perspective, more than ever, the idea of balance, and how key it is to truly enjoying the finer things in life. And now, even as I eagerly anticipate the upcoming onslaught of holiday happenings that will commence come October, I’m more than happy to take a few weeks to just… r e l a x.

I encourage you to do the same.

Happy resting.

Happy Birthday

My birthday is tomorrow. I close my twenty second chapter of life and embark on my twenty third, a year that will solidly place me at the end of my early twenties, on the brink of “actual adulthood,” as I like to think of it (as opposed to all that fake adulting I’ve been doing thus far).

The past few years, my birthday has been undeniably entwined with another’s – Jenny’s. Jenny was born a day before me, but two years later. And she was called home to God far too early, if you ask for my selfish opinion although, as always, I’m sure He had His reasons.

Every (recent) year, I’ve looked at the first two days of August as a chance to reflect, recharge, and redirect. It’s more of a New Year to me than the first of January, since this really marks the start of my next cycle around the sun. And I’ve begun to use these days to ask myself: am I living life to the fullest?

I don’t ask myself that in a glamorous, or cheesy way. I ask myself that in a reflective way. I ask myself that to ensure that I am doing everything I can to be the best reflection of God that I can be, to be the best version of myself.

Granted, that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. I’m inherently flawed as a human, and that means that I will, inevitably, make mistakes. Needless to say, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes during my 22nd year, and I’m sure I’ll make just as many, if not more, in my next year.

But if there’s one thing I definitely learned this year, it’s that being the best version of yourself doesn’t mean you are constantly living perfectly. It just means that, as those unavoidable mistakes come around, you learn from them. You grow from them. You recognize the error of your ways, acknowledge the lesson, and forgive yourself. If you hurt someone, you apologize. If you forget something, you do better next time. You take what happened and you embed it in yourself as a learning experience, a seed that will take root and grow and eventually, the lesson that came from the mistake will become an inherent part of who you are.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year about loyalty, love, and loss. If I had to pick three takeaways, those would be them. I learned that to be loyal, you sometimes have to do the hard thing, because otherwise, you’ll do something really stupid that will end up hurting someone even more. I learned that to love, you have to truly let your guard down, and become a person you didn’t know you were capable of being, but who might be the truest version of yourself to date. I learned that loss is a heartbreaking truth of life, but that so much love (and loyalty) are found in that season of grief.

And now, on Jenny’s birthday, I look back at those lessons and I ask myself: have I become a better version of myself in the past year? I like to think that I have. Some people may not, and probably won’t, agree with me. But they aren’t the people I’m worried about. The people whose opinions I cherish most are the people who have helped me get to this stage of life, who have been the building blocks upon which I’ve built the most rock-solid foundation I’ve ever had.

On August 1, I like to think about what I’m doing to enrich my life, and those around me. That’s what Jenny did, and continues to do. My memories of her may be brief, but they are so, so bright. She is a light in my life, and a guiding beacon of hope. She may no longer be here on Earth, but her spirit – that spunky, sassy spirit – has never faded.

Jenny didn’t get to toast her twenty first, but I sure as hell can.

So here’s to you, J. To your light, to your sparkle. Thank you for being my guardian angel, and for constantly being my motivation to do better, be better. You may not have gotten the years that you deserved, but in your honor, I pledge to continue focusing on fulfillment – of my own life, and of others.

I hope you’re eating cake for breakfast and jumping on trampolines made of clouds.

Happy birthday.