Destination Denver

We are already in September… How is that even possible? Not only are the days just continuing to fly by, but so is the time to accomplish all the goals you’ve been working on this year.

*Hint* Maybe now’s a good time to check in with where you’re at? *Hint*

(with your goals that is)

One of the goals I shared in February Fresh was that I wanted to visit and explore a new state. I always love to travel and go on trips, but thinking realistically, I knew I wasn’t going to have the funds or time to plans some huge worldly vacation, so instead I kept it simple and had a tremendous experience crossing Denver, Colorado off the list. 

I know we just celebrated Labor day but here I am still daydreaming about my trip over the Fourth of July to Denver. For years I’ve been hearing people express their love for the state of Colorado, but me being one who doesn’t participate in Winter Sports and has never really experienced the mountain life was skeptical that I’d enjoy a trip like that. Now I can proudly say, I was so wrong and the only though I left with was, “Why didn’t I come to Denver sooner.”

Have you been to Colorado before? If so leave me a comment of your favorite city or activity to do in Colorado! I just might have to plan another trip back! 

So how did I decided to finally commit to going and seeing this state I thought I had no business being in? Simple, one of my best friends from college moved there after we graduated and to visit a friend is worth it no matter where the destination. My group of college gal pals decided we’d all plan a trip together so that we could catch up and see what’s going on in one another lives. It’s an interesting experience making friends in college, knowing nothing about one another but before you know it you spend every day of the next four years living together. Then you graduate and all go your separate ways and start on the next chapter of your life. 

For me, it’s been a challenging adjustment seeing us all go separate directions and into different time zones. At the same time though, I always look forward to our next phone call filling one another in and as we learned in Denver, it’s really fun having a good excuse to go and visit somewhere. 

So, we booked it—a trip to Denver over Fourth of July weekend. Honestly when we were thinking about doing it over a holiday weekend obviously there’s a perk of having extra free days off from work, however I thought the flight would be crazy expensive. Denver’s airport is a huge hub though for a lot of connections making it actually pretty affordable. Also having a place to stay is always nice and helps cut down on the budget as well. If you don’t have someone to stay with, I always recommend checking out Air BnB’s because you can find some unique places and amazing deals like this one.

Plan Your Own Long Weekend Getaway:

With this itinerary inspired by our Summer trip to Denver

Day 1:

Day 2: 

  • Grab brunch at Snooze in Denver’s Union Station Downtown (Don’t forget to make a reservation beforehand!) 
  • Drive out to Idaho Springs, Colorado and hike St. Mary’s Glacier! (Work off all that breakfast you just ate.) 
  • Catch a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Day 3: 

  • Drive up to Boulder, Colorado and walk around downtown.
  • Hike and explore the Flatirons
  • Treat yourself to some Sweet Cow ice cream (dairy-free options available!) 
  • Catch a Rockies game at Coors Field

Here’s the breakdown of our trip!

Day 1:

Our first day all together (July 4th) we explored the West Highlands neighborhood where our friend lives. It turns out that Denver is a big fan of observing the Fourth of July because a lot of businesses including restaurants and breweries were all closed for the day. We ended up at a local barbeque restaurant for lunch and followed by going to the Great Divide Barrel Bar and other breweries the rest of the night. Denver is known for their craft beer scene, and other than a lot of them being closed there was still plenty to go around. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or not (which I’m not) you’re sure to find at least one you’ll like. Knowing we had Day ahead of us we called it a night after having dinner with a few fireworks, and it was a good thing we did because is stormed the rest of the night. 

Day 2: 

We started off the day heading to downtown to Denver’s Union Station which is a must-see place when visiting. It’s the most beautiful train station I’ve ever been to and that’s saying a lot since I’ve been to NYC’s Grand Central Station. It’s surrounded by so many unique and adorable shops and restaurants. Our Brunch club reconvened at Snooze, an a.m. eatery and it wouldn’t be brunch without a Bloody Mary and a coloring page! 

After our morning fuel we made our way up into the mountains where we did the famous Saint Mary’s hike just outside of Denver. One thing to keep in mind when taking on this hike, the parking lot was ridiculous! Of course, it was extra packed considering it was a holiday weekend but it’s also extremely rocky and you’re going to need a bigger car! While our SUV made it work it would have been preferable to have something a little bigger. The hike itself was perfect! A moderate uphill (or should I say mountain) It’s about a mile and a half hike round trip and features a few views that are worth climbing for. Once we got to the top, we were greeted by a beautiful glacier fed lake and a mountain top full of snow even though it was a warm 60-some degrees. On the way back down, we took a little detour to see the waterfall—what a rush that was. 

The day was still far from being done. We headed bag to get ready and transition into our big event of the trip—a Red Rocks concert. That night we went to see the Avett brother play at Red Rock Amphitheater. I can promise you, it’s an experience I’ll never forget! First things first, if anyone ever tells you it doesn’t rain/storm/hail in Denver, they’d be wrong! However, sometimes the unexpected can somehow make something that much more special. As we’re waiting in line to get into the concert, it starts to downpour. Before long the rain turns to thunder, lighting, and eventually hail. After the storm clears and the weather delay was over. We were left with a double rainbow and a stunning sunset. Seeing a concert in the Red Rocks is unlike any concert I’ve ever been too. The sound quality is outstanding, and the view is even better. As the concert went on, we laugh, we sang along, we made so many memories, and we got pounded with more and more rain. Ponchos quickly became our new best friends and the best money ever spent. 

Day 3:

The previous day was so jam packed, we all agreed we needed to take it easy. We walked to the Cozy Cottage, a little house with a beautiful patio that has been converted into a café. I’ve got to say; it was so nice being in an area and community that it so walkable again. That’s one of my least favorite things about LA and the area I live in specifically is you can’t really walk anywhere. 

After brunch we drove to Boulder to visit another friend from college’s stopping grounds. We explored their downtown ped-mall area and checked out another brewery, Oskar Blues, of course!  (The Boozy Sparkling Waters are delicious and dare I say better than a White Claw.) 

Day 4:

It was an early morning check out for all of us as we all headed to the airport to go back to our respective cities. The trip was full of scenic views, fresh air, delicious food, tasty beer, and best of all—reminiscing with friends. We’re all making arrangements to visit one another throughout the next year so stay tuned for another LA weekend and Chicago land visit. It also didn’t take me long to make it back out to Denver for a second time—more on that coming soon! 

Lessons from the trip:

  • Staying in touch with friends (especially across the country) is hard but extremely worth it. Make sure to make an effort to keep the people that matter most in your life actively in your life no matter the distance. And yes, that means sometimes that means just booking a plane ticket.
  • Denver is an incredible city. Although I don’t necessarily see myself living there, it surprised me in every way. It has a little something for everyone and while that little something is most likely being outside or drinking beer—what’s not to love? 
  • I’m inspired and might even…maybe…be considering…. thinking about… learning to ski. There I said it and now I can’t take it back. 

Again, share with me your favorite places in Colorado or anything that should be added to my to-do list for the next trip. I’d love to hear about any memories you have from any of your trips! Comment below!

Me, Myself & My

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Since I first mentioned in February Fresh my whole idea of “Personal Dates” and different version of “me time” I’ve had a few people ask me what I meant by that and I’m so excited to share!  For me a “Personal Date” is basically when I take my self out on a date, alone! (I know what you’re thinking…. I need a better name for this—open to suggestions! No other friends, no significant others, just me going out of my way to leave my house and doing something with me, myself, and my time.

Once I decided to get my own apartment, I knew I was going to have more time than ever spent alone. I’ve always known that I’m the complete opposite of a homebody. When I was growing up, I’d do anything to get out of the house and do something with friends or family!  Now that I’m living on my own, I’m realizing the the amount of discomfort I have when I’m alone.

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Autophobia is the fear of being alone. I wouldn’t say what I have is necessarily a fear though… more a moment of anxiety because I’m not afraid of the idea of being alone. I love to plan in personal days but then when that day and moment actually comes, I tend to freak out. I feel incredibly stressed like there’s 100 other things I should be doing, and then it takes me a loooooot of pep talking (to myself) and sometimes a phone call with a friend or family member to call me down… So you see, I’m not great at being alone, but that’s why I need to practice! If you’re reading and realize you can relate… stay tuned I have a solution!

“I wouldn’t say what I have is necessarily a fear though… more a moment of anxiety”

But the idea for my Personal Dates actually started well before the move even happened and actually started for another reason entirely (it just so happened they came in handy out here too.) When I first came up with the idea it was after doing my goal planning for 2018. At that time, I wasn’t really happy with my relationship status. All of my friends were going on dates and getting engaged and some even married! I was annoyed seeing everyone going out with their significant on these lavish dates. If this sounds like you… here we go!

Rather than bum myself out more about not having a person in my life to do those things with, I figured stop wasting time waiting for someone else when I could do all of those things right now! So, I made a promise to myself that each month I’d treat myself to a special date. Not by treating myself to pulling the trigger on the thing that’s sat in my online cart for forever…but by actually leave the house and going out to do something.

Examples Please:

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I started off very strong! The first month, February 2018, I booked a trip to New York and although I was going to visit I friend, I still knew I was going to have a significant chunk of time alone. From museums to tours to stores—I did it all! Obviously being in a new city with a large bucket list made it easier than being home on a Sunday… but it was a start!

Sometimes I make plans to 100% go alone, but then friends will reach out and ask what’s going on and although it’s supposed to be me time, I try to also never turn down friends when they reach out. Plus, I prefer the company! I think it’s important to find the balance until it feels comfortable in your routine. The second month, March, I went to a comedy show with a friend!

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Later in the year I got Movie Pass and that became my go to activity to do alone! Although I no longer have Movie Pass and switched to AMC A-List (which I highly, highly recommend) I still go to movies ALLLL the time, so much that I no longer allow myself to count movies as a Personal Date. (Keep up with all my movie reviews on Instagram Highlights & Stories)

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Another activity that I actually love to do alone is go to Flea Markets. There’s so many in LA that any weekend, I can find one going on. I prefer to go alone when there’s something I’m specifically keeping an eye out for because I’ll walk the whole pace 2-3 times to make sure I’m getting the best deal!

Some other activities include going to various networking event like #imakealiving and AIGA events or going to art museums (another activity that I might spend more time at than the average person.)

Just this weekend, I went to the Japanese Gardens near my house. I had been with Emory before, but this time everything was in bloom.

For these Personal Dates I try not to plan ahead and let them happen more spontaneously. Most of the activities I’ll still invite friends to go, but if no one can make it then I decide to do it any way! Or things like special exhibits that I know I’m interested in more than most people, I’ll save that for a day when I need something to do!

 

Trust me, this is a harder habit than you’d think to get into! The last thing I want though is another thing stressing me out so if at the end of the month I reflect and I’m like… wow I forgot to do anything. Who cares? That must mean I had a pretty full and busy month and that’s the real goal! It moments where I start to feel the anxiety creep back in that I try to push myself to find something to do. Sometimes it’s even as simple as let’s go run an errand or take a walk around the block. Not only have they helped me feel more comfortable being alone, but it’s also introduced me to some new activities that I otherwise may not have found!

Let me know if you give it a shot or if you think this will help you! What activities do you like to do alone that I should try? I’m always open to suggestions!

 

Here’s a list I’ve brainstormed to get you started with some ideas!

  • see a movie on opening night— it’ll be packed with strangers, so you won’t really even feel alone
  • go to the new restaurant you’ve been dying to try and order a 3-course meal. Pretend you’re there to write a review (don’t tell them that… just in your head)
  • go to a museum, take a sketchbook, and pretend like you know what you’re doing—you might surprise yourself
  • go to the dog park and make a new friend — even if you don’t have a dog
  • explore a neighboring town that you’ve never actually been to… maybe they have a great boutique or the best BBQ… you won’t know till you try
  • Go for a hike (but put your safety first & be smart about where and when!)
  • Try a new work out class that you’d normally never do, maybe even indoor rock climbing?
  • Grab a book, go to a coffee shop or a beach or somewhere not your house and just start reading (especially if you don’t really like to read!)

 

Bumble BFF

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Phew, what’s with 2019?! It’s an intense, exciting, and full-speed ahead year, isn’t it? I’ve had a lot of things going on especially in trying to reconnect with all the friends I hadn’t seen since well before I went back to Iowa with the Holidays. If you’re looking for more recent updates, look out for my upcoming posts on Instagram & Facebook to get you up to speed! Otherwise I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing and preparing some more regular blog posts!

This week is a follow up to my post from way back in August, Finding Friends. Just a reminder I was discussing the struggles that come along with making friends as an adult and I shared a few of the ways I was going about this. One of the ideas I mentioned was trying a “dating” app to try to meet new friends. Well, I tried it and here’s what I have to say.

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PC: @bumblebff

Last Fall after writing about my current friend situation I downloaded an app called Bumble. Originally this app was created with the intention of helping people to meet and inspire romantic relationships however now the app has evolved into a much larger networking tool.

Overview of the App:

There are three different modes to the Bumble app depending on what you’re looking for:

  • Bumble Date: which you sort through hoping to find potential people of interest to go on dates with, with the intentions of looking for a romantic relationship
  • Bumble Bizz: which is designed to help you to meet to grow your network in a professional sense (which I have not tried and don’t really know how it’d work…)
  • Bumble BFF: caters towards like-minded individuals looking to build friendships.

Once you download the app and select your mode, then you have to make a profile. Your profile includes a variety of images you select, and a short biography blub. You can also choose to share some additional basic info like where you work or where you went to school. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that someone out here is also from Iowa or the Midwest and that instantly helps you build a connection! You can answer other basic lifestyle questions like if your single, if you have kids, or if you’re new to the area to further define who you are and help identify who might be a better match! You can also set some limits to further narrow your search by age, gender, and distance!

Then once you create your profile, you’ll be shown a collection of other people profiles that you can swipe right (for yes, they seem like a great match) or left (no I don’t think we’d probably work out) At first, this was weird for me. When you use an app like this for dating motives, you can obviously tell if you initially attracted to them physically and by their biography, however when you are looking for friends, I don’t particularly care about your physical appearance. In the beginning I felt guilty for judging women based off of these limited descriptions and her physical attributes. With that being said though, you do generally get a sense of who you’d be more compatible with for example someone who says they’re super passionate about heavy metal bands and is looking for a friend to attend those kinds of concerts with— it’s probably not a great match for me. So, my approach is I try to keep as open of a mind as possible while being a little realistic. I try to find one or two things we have in common and then build from there. If you both approve of each other’s profile, then you “match.” Once you’re matched as a potential pair, then you have the ability to message one another and learn even more about each other and make plans to meet in real life.

My Experience:

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Once I started matching with potential new BFF’s, women were constantly messaging me wanting to meet up and grab dinner! I went on my first friend date (for lack of a better term) to get ice cream— and she was great! We got along great and found that we have some similar interests but enough differences to learn about one another. At this point I was feeling very optimistic and excited! Then, before I knew it though it started to be a lot! People wanting to go do something every night of the week which just isn’t realistic or attainable both when it comes to time and money so… I reached out to the first girl I met and reconnected with her. Turns out that she was facing the same problem: too many to meet, too little time! So, we decided together that we should plan a group date. She’d invite people wanting to meet her and I’d do that same—combine forces. So that’s what we did! We planned a get-together at Malibu Winery (always my go to) and invited about 10 women to join us!

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Once the big day came, neither of us knew what to expect because sometimes a group setting can be intimidating and interesting not knowing how one another would interact (or in this case not even who some of these women are.) Let me just say though, despite our hesitations, I truly don’t think it could have gone any better. Yes, we were an interesting group of ladies, all different ages, backgrounds, careers, interests, yet we all got along great! We shared stories over wine and snacks and just had wonderful conversations the entire day.

The beauty of it was would we all have individually met at a different event and connected and bonded, no probably not. Would we all have normally thought we’d be a friend group coming out of it, no probably not. We all shared something special that day and it gave us a bond and gave us a reason to stay in touch as a group! Maintaining these relationships, we don’t all get together every time! That’s a lot of work and pretty high expectations of one another. However, we do have a group message and when any of us has an idea of an activity the group might like, we invite one another and whoever can come, does and if it doesn’t interest you it’s totally fine!

This group of women has taught me a lot about friendship, other people and myself and I am so grateful for them! I always look forward to any activities that bring us back together. Since our initial winery date, we’ve gone roller skating, to comedy shows, out for drinks, to concerts, and to museums! We have a lot of ideas on our lists and look forward to more activities in the future!

Now outside of this group I’ve met a few other ladies that I connected with in my initial use of the App we will get dinner or drinks and I invite them to join the rest of us when we can! Outside of these few experiences, I’m no longer using the app! I now feel that between the different group of friends I have out here in LA now, I have enough of a close circle that I try to give everyone the time they deserve to continue to strengthen those friendships! I feel a little guilty that I still have so many unanswered messages on the app and I know there are way more people out there to meet! I’m satisfied though with where I’m at and think it’s best to take a little break and enjoy the ones I’ve already met.

Wrapping it up

This was over all a tremendous experience for me and it has made all of the difference! I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility it gave me in trying to make plans with other people! It’s helped me build my network of friends and has helped me try new things in the city! It’s helped me adjust to the city that much faster! The greatest part of it for me, was that everyone who is on the app is also on there looking to make friends. These people are willing to go out and get to know you and learn more about you! Not everyone is going to become your new best friend and some you’ll connect with more than others (and that’s perfectly ok.) I promise you though, you’ll learn something about yourself with every person you meet, and you never know where the relationship could go.

For me, the group date idea also made it so much easier. Yes, we got lucky we all got along in that setting but also now we continue to do group things and individual get togethers whereas otherwise we might feel like we need to reconnect one on one way more frequently! I do apologize I didn’t try other apps that compare to see which ones work best or which I liked better (because I know there’s more options out there than just Bumble.) But this one served its purpose and it’s honestly been the only thing I’ve needed so I’ve stuck with what works.

If you have tried any of the apps though, I’d love to know what your experience was like and what you thought of it! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

February Fresh

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And just like that, January (what always feels like the longest month ever) is finally over. Besides being 31 days, January always feels longer than normal maybe it’s the weather… Although I traded in -60 temperatures for 60 and sunny with a chance of rain. This month was just jam packed! (Read about it in Up on the Update.) January was so busy in fact, that I didn’t have the chance to reflect on 2018 and prepare for the new year. Which is why I decided that February would be my fresh start and a chance to really get it right.

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Those of you that have been with me since the very beginning (and those of you who weren’t can read the post here) remember that at the start of 2018 I wasn’t in a great place. I admit I was being a little over the top, but it was a time in my life where I really wasn’t sure what to do next and where to go. It’s also the time I realized how important goal setting is and how having things to work towards can really change how effectively you use your time.

One year ago I was e-introduced to Hilary Rushford the founder of Dean Street Society (no I don’t actually know her personally, but I totally wish!) She’s a young and very inspiring woman who lives in NYC and has built an incredible business from the ground up! She put together a FREE online webinar called Elegant Excellence talking about how to make your dreams come true. Sounds crazy I know, but this little self-journey she encouraged me to go on made all the difference. I knew I had to go through it again this year and that I had to share it with all of you!

Download Here: ElEx-Jan-2018-Workbook-Completed

In case you don’t remember, just one year ago I had just been laid off from my first real full-time job. I had also found out that I was turned down from not just one, but TWO of my dream jobs (of which I had my heart set on and even had my bags packed and ready to move to Waco, TX … LOL). At the time it was easy to feel down on myself and like my career wasn’t going anywhere. Something I was also struggling with was, although I was surrounded by all my closest loved ones, I still felt incredibly lonely.  Now, I think it was because I wasn’t challenging myself to get better or pushing myself out of my comfort zone. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan set in stone, things weren’t working out, and I was frustrated with my lack of progress.

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Just a year later though, I look back on that period of time and I’m so incredibly thankful! I was so fortunate to have so much quality time to spend with my family and being laid off from that job gave me the time and fight to focus on pursuing my next step in life.

After going through this process and really sitting down to think about all of these questions, I prepared a list of goals for my 2018:

  • Move out of my parent’s house
  • Take myself out for a “Personal Date” each month(I have more info about this queued up for an upcoming post!)
  • Book at least 5 Freelance jobs
  • Travel somewhere new
  • Read a book
  • Save money & create a budget
  • Make more of an effort to watch the news
  • Give nice guys a chance
  • Make/create something for ME each month
  • Run a 5k

Looking at that crazy list, I couldn’t be prouder to say that in at least some way I have checked off everything that was on my list! I moved out of my parent’s house and actually took it one step farther and moved all the way to California. I took the time to enjoy being by myself and being my own person (including getting my own 1-bedroom place.) I’m happy to say I booked well over 5 freelance projects and it’s continuing to grow. I traveled all over the place in LA but the most noteworthy trip being to Lake Arrowhead. I read Chip and Joanna Gaines book, The Magnolia Story,  and loved it even if it took me most of the year to get through it. I made a budget and did my best to stick with it but hey- at least all my bills are getting paid! Although I still hate to watch the news, I signed up for The Skimm and at least I feel like I always have a big picture idea what’s going on in the world. I met Emory (completely on a fluke and unexpectedly) and have had the healthiest and happiest relationship even from over 1,000 miles away. Although I didn’t create something like I had in mind EACH month I started this blog and have pushed myself to find different creative outlets. I also didn’t actually run an organized 5k, but I’ve kept up with running and continue to work towards that goal.

I learned life lessons like work is not my pride and joy in life, so why was I always allowing it to be my number one priority and control my life? I now have a job I absolutely love yet, if I had the choice, I’d still pick a day hanging with my friends and family every time. So why would I ruin other aspects of my life just to get where I “think” I need to be in my career? I learned that getting worked up over little things isn’t always worth it (honestly, it really never is but that doesn’t make it any easier) I learned it’s not fair to always hold myself to my standard of doing things because “I’m supposed to” or because it’s what I think others expect of me.  I “won” in my 2018 because I challenged myself to take risks and I put in the work to make them work out. I learned how truly amazing my family and friends really are and how much I’ve taken them for granted in the past.

Phew, that was a lot! When I made my 2018 goal list initially, I would have been happy just crossing a few of the thing off the list. Now I know this process worked and that I as a person am capable of so much more. I made goals for myself that both challenged me while still being fully attainable and I couldn’t be happier with my progress. This process may be tedious but trust me it works! Hilary’s exercises really challenge you to take a look at yourself and sort through what you’re really looking for (both big picture/long term but also what you want just 6 months from now.)

Download Here: ElEx-Jan-2018-Workbook-Completed

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Moving forward I have even more goals set! Here are some of the stand outs:

  • Create successful morning/evening routines & habits
  • Launch a creative Passion Project(one that hopefully brings in some supplemental income)
  • Run a 5k (This time it’s actually going to happen)
  • Visit a new State/Country
  • Book 5 more Freelance Clients/projects
  • Payoff at least ½ of my remaining student loans
  • Read a book (I never read books so even one is a lofty goal)
  • Organize and sort through all of my old files(eeek I’ve been putting this off for forever)
  • Visit home at least 3 times
  • Try something new/learn a new skill

The important thing about setting goals, is they need to be achievable. For many reasons you need to set goals that you actually have control over and that have a physical outcome that allows you to be like “yes, I did it. I accomplished it.” For example, this year I’m also challenging myself to be more in the moment, but that’s really vague as a goal and there’s not really anything that’d allow me to 100% say I succeeded at that mission a year from now. Another thing is I hope I can continue to grow my relationship, while I’m extremely hopeful and optimistic, it wouldn’t have been fair to me to have the goal last year “find a boy friend” you can’t force that upon anyone including yourself. However, you can find ways to inspire that outcome. For example, challenge yourself to go on more dates by using online dating or something like that. And keep in mind you’re looking at your goals for just one year at a time. Think of all the baby steps you need to accomplish before you get to your ultimate end goal. You’re never going to be able to solve every single world and life problem in just 365 days so allow yourself to be realistic. By writing your goals in a way that you understand the outcome you’re really looking for, you’ll feel even better when you can confidently say you achieved it.

You might ask, why am I sharing all of this personal stuff with you and why I think you care about my goals…? Well, selfishly putting this out there for me helps hold myself accountable. It publishes my goals out into the world and in some way holds me even more accountable. With that being said, if you need someone to help hold you accountable, PLEASE feel free to share it with me! I’d love to be your cheerleader celebrating your victories with you and encouraging you through the rough patches (because trust me it’s not all going to come easy!) Be patient, stay focused and believe in yourself. Moving forward, this blog also gives me the outlet to share my progress working towards these goals throughout the year. By sharing my journey, I hope you can find ways to relate and together we’ll figure out some of these life questions and more ways to find our own meanings of success and happiness.

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So, whether you’re feeling a little lost or unsure about what your next step is- seriously take some time to work through this work book. Grab a glass of wine or whiskey, shut your phone off, get out a journal or notebook and take the time to answer and fill in all of these questions. If you get stuck, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on help IK it can be tricky without her actual webinar! If you find it helpful, I recommend checking out Hilary Rushford’s other webinars about anything from fashion advice, to info about how to start your own business, and even about Instagram. Please let me know if you get as much use out of it as I did and a year from now, I can’t wait for you to look back and see how far you’ve come!

Download Workbook: ElEx-Jan-2018-Workbook-Completed

Take a Tour

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I have received a lot of questions recently asking to see my apartment and how it’s come along since first moving into my new place. Even though I’ve been in my apartment for four months, I’m still adjusting to the space and realizing that I’ve made this my new home. The decorating is still far from being over, but it’s come a loooooong ways from the air mattress and the suitcase I started with. I invite you to take a little tour but to keep in mind, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Just a reminder on the space. It’s technically a JR. one bed room unit. It has a dividing built in which doesn’t qualify it as a studio but no door, so I guess it’s not a true 1 bedroom either. My apartment overlooks the pool area (which they’re completely re-doing the next few months) and my balcony has a view of Lake Balboa Park.

Living Room

Furnishing an apartment from scratch is a daunting experience but also an extremely exciting and rewarding challenge as well. I started with making too many trips to TJ MAXX and Target for the necessities: kitchen utensils, towels, cleaning supplies, and the air mattress. From there, I made a goal every week to check another thing off the list. At first, I was conflicted to just buy it all so that I could be done with it, but the other half of me wanted to take my time to find pieces that could make this feel more like my home.

This space is truly my first space. I’m solely in charge and it only has to work for me at this point. I’ve embraced that and started to explore my style and try new things. Color has always been my favorite way to make a room pop, but in this small space, I’m learning how important practicality and functionality can be. For example, my Rattan chair from Target was the least practical decision I’ve made, AND it was the first piece of furniture I purchased. I went from using a card board box as a dinner table to sitting on this (it is more comfortable than it looks, but still) Yet this chair is still one of my favorite pieces in my apartment.

Bedroom

My apartment should really be a walking advertisement for HomeGoods and Target. I fell in love with Target’s Summer Opal House collection! They made it so easy to start designing because of the wide variety of products available for bed, living, kitchen, and bath in a variety of coordinating patterns, prints, and colors. Then I rely on HomeGoods to help fill in the gaps. They’re always my go to stop for finding finishing touches that are both practical, unique, and eccentric. You never know what you’re going to find but you also know it’ll always be a steal! Some of my favorite HomeGoods finds include my couch, my wooden end table, and my variety of picture frames that showcase my loved ones and help remind me I’m not alone!

Kitchen

There’s nothing like scavenging through a flea market though, and the Los Angeles area has sooooooooo many to choose from. Although it would have been my choice to source all my furniture and décor from flea markets, having a small car and no moving buddies is not ideal (most of my large furniture I ordered online so I wouldn’t have to deal with this issue) Instead I use flea markets as a hobby never knowing what I’m looking for and just to find things with a little character. My kitchen is small. It’s fine when cooking for a party of one but I knew moving in that I’d need some extended counter space. It came from one of my favorite and largest flea markets I’ve ever been to in Long Beach.

Bedroom

Then I tried a re-sale app called Offer Up which introduced me to this local store the Little French Flea Market where I purchased my vanity desk, mirror, and chair. And then a few weekends ago I attended the Melrose Trading Post for the first time and found this great print of Audrey Hepburn.

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Sometimes I get lucky and don’t even need to look to find great pieces to bring home, sometimes they find me. The best part about being in a nice residential community is that people are constantly throwing out things that are beautiful and in great condition in our back-alley. If only I had the car to collect all the furniture and the space to re-do it, I could have my own flea market by now! (Dreams… maybe one day soon.) I found this beautiful frame and wait to create some are to go in it and one night I even found a box of little buddhas by the dumpster!

Now that all my furniture is in place (other than a kitchen table but with it just being me I have some time) my next apartment goal is to source some artwork. As much as I’d love to create it all from scratch, I don’t always have the time and don’t want to force anything. I also believe in supporting local artists and enjoy showcasing their stories as much as my own. Here are some of the spaces I’m shopping to fill! At the Melrose Flea Market, I was introduced to two amazing artists Cody Suzanne Clifford and Marz Jr. I’m still looking and am open to your suggestions. Please let me know if you have any favorite websites you use to find prints OR if you know of any local shops or artists. I also plan to check out the Social Type again in Silver Lake and take a visit to the Arts District!

Design Tip: Coasters

I’ve recently been inspired by LA friends that collect coasters from different bars and restaurants that they visit that guests can turn around and use. Every coaster tells a story and at the same time they can be great conversation starters and highlights of artwork. To jump start my collection I found a pack of whiskey and spirits coasters at HomeGoods and now I’m adding to it as I come across new designs.

My favorite attraction about my apartment is still Lake Balboa across the street! I’m always looking forward to runs and walks around the lake‑ they make it feel like home and it’s a little escape form the busy city life. Right now, all the birds are migrating and there’s so many different kinds of ducks, geese, cranes, swans, pelicans, and seagulls.

Bathroom

PS: I’m now accepting reservations for any friends and family to come visit whenever they please as mentioned they are re-doing our pool for the next 3 months, BUT I also have 3 mattresses for you to choose from for your visit: pillow top, a memory foam, and an air mattress. It’s a long story but pick your poison and see you soon!

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Party Planning

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Party Planning has always been one of my favorite hobbies and I seem to have a knack for it. I love everything that goes into the process of planning a big event from deciding the theme to organizing even the smallest of details. Party planning really plays well with my OCD. I like to have some control, think out of the box, organize things, make decorations, but most importantly create an experience and memories for others!

“There’s nothing that makes me happier than a social event that brings people together.”

Needless to say, that when one of my greatest friends asked me to plan her bachelorette party, I was beyond excited and ready for the challenge.  It was going to be a new experience for me having never been to a bachelorette party let alone never having planned one.  It’s also the first event I’ve ever planned remotely here’s how I got started…

Party Planning for Bachelorette Babes

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1.) Research

The first step of planning a Bachelorette party (or any party really) is doing your research. I made sure to ask the bride-to-be all about what she’s interested in and how she’d like to celebrate. It’s really important when planning a Bachelorette party to keep the bride’s personality in mind. You want to plan an event where everyone will have a great time but also be comfortable with one another (not everyone is excited about having a male stripper show up to their home, and I don’t blame them…)

Although it can be awkward, it’s important to have a conversation about budget and realistically what you can contribute as well as the bride (and in some cases, what you’re asking of the attendees.) They’re your close friends, they’re going to understand one way or another! Making sure all of that is transparent from the beginning will make the rest of the process go a lot smoother.

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2.) Location

Picking out a location can be a fun and exciting trip. While it may be tempting to road-trip it to Nashville or book a flight to Vegas, keep in mind that that can be a pretty big ask of people and a pretty expensive weekend.  A mini-weekend getaway or even an overnight somewhere nearby can be a great compromise.

For Rachel’s party, she knew she wanted to have it in Des Moines. It’s where she lives and is the city she loves. It’s also pretty centrally located for all of the friends and family she was planning to invite. BUT also, it was realistic for everyone’s time and budgets!

Knowing the party was going to be in Des Moines, we also had more resources available to us and most of the guests were somewhat familiar with the area. We had her apartment available, tons of bars, restaurants, and other activities easily accessible, AND Rachel’s apartment was nearby and a perfect solution for a cost-effective venue!

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3.) Theme

The foundation of a great party usually stems from an awesome theme or event. When comes to picking activities and themes, it doesn’t hurt to look around and see what other people have done. Of course, Pinterest is an excellent source and a great place to get started.  It was my personal goal to plan a party that would not only be a great time, but I also wanted it to be memorable. I wanted to get everyone out of their comfort zones a little bit and do something that they wouldn’t do on and regular basis.

I started brainstorming with the bride ideas of what she thought would be fun. We talked about all the things Rachel loves to do in Des Moines and in general and came up with a list that included minor league baseball games, tailgating sporting events, going to breweries—you name it!  One of Rachel’s favorite things though, is the Des Moines Farmers market…

I think she knew I laughed a little when she first suggested that… I mean come on, Farmers Markets don’t usually scream “Party” let alone a Bachelorette Party. But it’s her day and it’s what she wanted to do, and it was now up to me to make a Farmers Market into a party-worthy activity (also… I love a good challenge.)

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4.) Help & Delegating

Being over 1,000 miles away, there’s only so much I could do.  I knew I’d have to fly in for the event which was not only and expense on my end but also meant what I could bring with me was very limited.  Luckily so many of Rachel’s friends stepped up and offered to help! Since I love the whole process of planning things… It can be hard for me to let go of responsibility sometimes—it’s hard to give up control (but I’m getting better at it.) Delegating out the tasks though was THE MOST IMPORTANT step. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the other ladies, they pulled through to help make it happen!

So, I planned out the itinerary and then asked the other girls to pick a portion of the day that they’d lead and take care of the background stuff. We divided and conquered:

  • Bringing Snacks
  • Making Party Favors
  • Decorations
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Planning Games & Activities
  • Dinner Reservations

5.) Itinerary

After we decided on the date, I moved forward with planning the Itinerary around the Des Moines Farmers Market!

10:00 am         Arrive at Rachel’s Apartment for Brunch and Ice Breakers

11:00 am         Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt

12:30 pm         Return to Rachel’s Apartment & Go over scavenger hunt findings

1:00 pm           Lunch at Apartment and Games

3:30 pm           Check into Hotel: Get ready, games, gifts

5:30 pm           Special Surprise

7:00 pm           Dinner

9:30 pm           Going Out

Itineraries are a great game plan, but they shouldn’t be set in stone. Keep the schedule flexible! It’s always a good idea to have some back up ideas and filler ideas in case things take longer or shorter than you expected. If something doesn’t work out, stay calm and keep moving on and try not to rush anything. As someone who is never on time to anything… I knew I couldn’t jam pack the day because I always under estimate how long things will take. This day was about me and I knew it needed to run smoothly for the sake of my friend. I always had a game plan but tried to go with the flow as much as possible!

The Big Day

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Arrive at Rachel’s Apartment for Brunch and Ice Breakers

Since the Farmers Market ends at 12:00 we had to get the party started early!!!  I always feel better about waking up early when I know there’s going to be breakfast involved.  We had a breakfast buffet complete with a mimosa bar in Rachel’s apartment. It worked out so well because everything could be bought directly form the store or easily prepared ahead of time and warmed up on the spot!

Bachelorette parties can be challenging because usually you have guests from all different parts of the Brides Life. Our party was no different, there were women she’d grown up with, friends from college, friends from graduate school, and family members. Many of us didn’t know one another so it was a little daunting to be social with strangers that early in the morning. I knew we’d need a little ice breaker to get everyone started wile ate our breakfast.

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I ordered a Wedding’s Mad Libs book off Amazon and it was just the perfect solution.  First off, it’s very affordable and required no additional planning or materials. It’s a good activity to get everyone involved in coming up funny words to create some silly stories. The Mad Libs in the book were also still pretty PG (maybe PG-13 after we added to them) so everyone was comfortable and participated.

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Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt

So, the morning of the big event—typical Iowa weather, it was storming all morning and they canceled the Des Moines Farmers market. My initial reaction was— oh-crap! (but I always have a backup plan!) I originally designed the scavenger hunt to incorporate a little bit of all of Court Avenue. Court Ave. in Des Moines is where Rachel’s apartment is located as well as the Farmers Market, so everything is walking distance. There’re tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and even a grocery store. We went ahead and did the scavenger hunt any way, we just all had to get a little more creative about how/where to complete the tasks.

 

We split up into four teams of three. I gave each team a bag with a pen and they’re scavenger hunt card and the option to either take a photo of the things for 1 point OR bring back the item for 3 points. We all had so much fun with it.  It was challenging, sometimes awkward, and funny as can be. By-standers got so excited about it too, coming up and asking us what we were doing and how they could help! It was a hit.

Go over scavenger hunt findings & Prizes

Afterwards we met back at her apartment and went over what we had found!  The pictures we comical!  One group went around the grocery store and asked for a sample of almost everything and the store agreed and gave it to them!!! One group made a lot of new friends and found a dog with an impressive mullet, and I somehow wound up taking a shot of Fireball with a lady at 11:30 in the morning… too much fun.

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Lunch at Apartment and Games

Afterwards we had lunch. One girl brought these croissant sandwiches from Costco… they were beyond amazing, and I now crave them all the time. If you have a party, I’d highly recommend them! Another girl planned out a game where she asked the groom-to-be 20 questions about Rachel and their relationship and she had to tell us the right answers, what she thought he might say, and then we revealed what he actually said. Man, this couple is meant to be because he was spot on for everything! It was great, simple, and provided a lot of heart felt laughs.

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Check into Hotel: Get ready, games, gifts

The hotel we were staying at, the Hyatt Place in Down Town Des Moines. It was beautiful. We got two double queen rooms with pullout couches that were next door to one another and they were perfect!!! We all freshened up and got ready for the rest of the evening and changed into our party clothes.

We “signed in” by signing a picture frame matt and kissing it to leave our lip-print. One of the girls made goodie bags for everyone that had lipstick (for the kissing frame) nail polish, band-aids, Advil, shout wipes, gum, a hair tie, and a Florapy facemask. AKA everything you could need to survive a bachelorette party out! We opened gifts and even played a “drop your panties” game where everyone anonymously brings a pair of new panties for the bride, and she has to guess who brought which ones—this game was not so easy, but still fun!

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Special Surprise

I wanted to do something special for the bride and have a surprise that she wouldn’t know about. Something to look forward to and of course something to hold over her head and make her guess a little bit. All week she was texting me begging that it wasn’t going to be a stripper but of course I had to tease her a little bit. The surprise however, was a photographer.

I hired a talented photographer friend of mine, Meursault Photography, to meet us down town Des Moines to meet us and take some cute, sorority-ish pictures of the whole group as well as individual shots with each girl and the bride. I knew it’d be great to have the photos for all the memories as well as content for everyone’s Instagram. Also, who doesn’t get excited about a photoshoot and being all dressed up, with a fun group of girls having their pictures taken. I brought a few fun props to try including some balloons but then really let the photographer go for it.

We lucked out and had the perfect window of no rain to get some great pictures (it was steamy and as humid as could be though.) It was also nice knowing we got some great pictures early on and could relax a little more the rest of the night and not worry about it!

IMG_8307-4I’m so thankful to Meursault Photography for capturing these moments and couldn’t be more impressed! If anyone needs photos for any event or even just because you’re in the mood to have your photo taken, I’d highly recommend (especially if your located in Des Moines OR Eastern Iowa.)

Dinner

For dinner we went to one of Rachel’s favorites, Malo. It’s a trendy Mexican restaurant close to the hotel and the bars. Mexican food was great because it’s a lot of carbs before drinking but also because some of us weren’t that hungry and just got a few street tacos. One thing to keep in mind when you have a large group is to definitely call and make a reservation a week or two in advance!  We also addressed the check situation when we made the reservation too. We knew everyone was going to want to be on a separate ticket, so we requested that ahead of time. That way the restaurant and wait staff were prepared. They had 2 people to handle our table of 20 and they automatically added in gratuity for us as well! They were amazing and did such a great job, and no one was un-happy because they got stuck picking up a 20-person tab only to have no one pay them back!

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Going Out

After dinner, it started raining! A lot of us were a mess, but since we already too photos we decided to go back to the hotel, take a moment and a few of us changed out of our cute shoes for more comfortable options (it was the best idea I ever made!)

We then headed to Hello Marjorie, craft cocktail lounge that is super trendy (because of this adorable sign) as well as the amazing atmosphere and delicious cocktails. It never hurts to start a long night out with a good-quality cocktail! From there, I didn’t really plan it out. I knew we’d head to the area of Court that’s lined with bars, but I didn’t want a strict plan (remember my itinerary comment.) We went where ever the night took us and as long as we had a good time! We stopped and got Fong’s pizza just before bar close and headed back to the hotel where we talked for a while and tried to recover. Then we all went to sleep, woke up, at free hotel breakfast and went on to our other weekend activities.

I think everyone would say it was just the right amount of everything. Everything was relatively affordable (nothing out of the realm of a normal dinner and night out) everything was pretty walkable, so we didn’t have to coordinate too many Ubers back and forth. Everyone got to go where they wanted!
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I had such a blast celebrating my friend and her engagement and upcoming wedding. I was so happy to be a part of it and so glad to see everything work out. I hope you were able to come up with some ideas of your own after reading this for whatever the next party is that you’re planning OR if you need help planning an upcoming party—let me know and I’d love to help!

Finding Friends

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From when I first decided to move across the country, I knew it was going to be hard! I knew it was going to be a challenge in every aspect of my life but one that had enough potential to outweigh the fears. As much as I tried to prepare myself (mentally, financially, emotionally, etc.) nothing can prepare you for moving away from your loved ones. As an outgoing, social person—family, friends, my social life all meant the world to me. I knew that it was going to be hard to leave them. I knew it was going to be hard to miss out on events, friends’ life milestones, and even lazy Sundays at my parents… but the potential of the opportunities I outweighed all these fears.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

– Frank Sinatra

Just like in NYC, making the move to the big city (although the most important step) it isn’t enough to “make it.” Being a transplant resident, it takes more to survive in these cities than just committing to the idea. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve started to see it-see why people don’t always survive.

I learned that leaving my close social circle was so much harder than I could have imagined. The phone, Facetime, even quick weekend trips back-don’t do it justice. While I know I’ll never be able to “replace” those relationships, I still have to find ways to fill the time and people to share experiences with. I am fortunate to have a few really great friends already in Los Angeles, but it’s not fair of me to want to monopolize every second of their time. While I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, finding new friends, building relationships… there’s an art to it and I’m finding I have to get even more creative.

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It’s not the easiest city to make new friends. Angelinos have a lot of quirks, some you get used to some that will always surprise me (I always wonder how long it’ll be before I start taking on some of those qualities and there are some I hope I never do.)  Almost everyone you meet, is trying to make it in “the industry” (that being entertainment… and I can’t judge, I’m right there with them.) Whether it be acting, music, modeling you name it… Everyone’s trying to follow their passions and make a name for themselves. This is both the best and worst thing about living here. Yes, you never know who you’re going to meet, or who will be able to help you… and then the other side of things is… your only as helpful until you’re not. Angelinos love to meet people, offer their help, and have an amazing conversation… but I’ve learned not to expect a follow up. Everyone is here chasing their dreams, trying to hustle, and EVERYONE has to be picky and choosey with how they spend their time.

I think when people move here their first instinct is to fill all of their time with work and making a living-which I think works great for some people. I’ve been very fortunate to have found a job that allows me to live a substantial part of my life away from work, which in turn leaves me with a lot of time to fill.

“Having free time in LA and deciding HOW and with WHO you’re going to spend it—that’s what I believe is the key to making it here!”

Like I said, I’ve had to get creative with how to make friends and how to fill my free time, thankfully I live in a large city with all the opportunities to do so.

How to Make New Friends

While I don’t have the perfect recipe to lay out for all of you, I have some strategies that have been working and ones I’m excited to try. Making new friends as an adult though is sooooo hard, but we can’t give up on it. I’ve come to accept that everyone else around me is just as busy and in their minds they’re 10x as busy as everyone around them… moral of the story, we’re all busy. With that in mind, if someone cancels plans (while that sucks) I can’t take it personal. I also make a constant effort to not allow myself to cancel plans. If I commit to doing something or meeting someone, I’m going to do whatever it takes to see it through.

Getting Involved:

When I moved, I immediately began to think about the things that make me feel at home. That give me a sense of a community away from my hometown. My grandpa’s only piece of advice and wish for me was to find a church to attend. He was right. Although I honestly don’t make it every Sunday or as regularly as he had intended, I try to go as long as I don’t have other people inviting me to other plans. (Now I know that’s not a good enough reason to really miss mass, but the point of this is I’m trying to make friend and when friends call, you have to take them up on the opportunities.) It’s a goal of mine however, to continue making it more! Apart from the reasons people go to church, it’s also nice in just how familiar it is.

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The next outlet that immediately came to mind is the Moose Lodge (I’ll add that to the list of upcoming blog topics for those of you who don’t know about my involvement with the lodge-so if you’re wondering WTH… just wait and I’ll fill you in!) Moose Lodges are practically everywhere and easy to find, but also I’m well past due for joining (you have to be 21.) While, I can predict that the community will be different from the groups most of my peers associate with, it’s still an amazing community to be a part of and a great way to get to know people that live around you from many different walks of life. I’ve reached out to a few different chapters to investigate which one to join.

Anytime you move somewhere new, reflect on the causes and things that matter most to you. Find an outlet and a group of people you can make a difference with and It’ll make a difference in you. While the people I meet at these outlets might not be the group willing to go to a nightclub with me on a Friday night, they help to feel a sense of belonging.

Work stuff:

Naturally, people meet each other at work! Starting a new job somewhere, can be challenging socially at first too, but I just try to stay positive and slowly try to make an effort to connect with people. I’ve often been frustrated at how this doesn’t seem to happen overnight, but very rarely anything ever does.  Finding moments to help people enjoy the work day a little more is always nice.  Whether you have the means to organize a work outing or a happy hour or even something as simple as leaving a co-worker a note telling them to have a great day… Its these little moments that will eventually turn into friendships!

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Finding a club or organization that is associated with your industry or passions is an amazing way to meet like-minded individuals that you know you already have something in common with. The nicest part of these groups is that when you’re a member, generally someone else is planning all the events for you and inviting you to them. Then you can fill your social calendar with as many or as little as you’d like (although I’m a huge believe in go to as many as possible or at least every now and again!) I’m a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and through it I’ve met so many other professionals working in my industry. The group includes a wide range of students to professionals who have been doing this their entire lives. It is also a national organization so not only has it helped me get acquainted in LA, but it was also amazing when I was in Des Moines. They’re events are also great for professional development and making me a better designer, creator, and person.

Things Happening:

When living in a city, there’s always so much going on every single night of the week. You can find shows to go to, free lectures, art gallery openings. You name it! While you can’t go to all of them, it’s great to find a variety and know they exist. I sign up for a few different email services that let me know about things that are happening in the area. Ticket services, organizations you’re interested, groups you love are all amazing to sign up for.

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Networking events are also huuuuuuge around here. I know networking is one of those things that people cringe at and I feel like that can be because a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves at these types of events. But the key to success at these events is to forget about all those stigmas and ideas around it and go into them with an open mind. Again, it’s about pushing your comfort zone. Wednesday morning, I received an email promoting an event that sounded awesome. Even though it started close to work, I knew I had to go! I live in the land of opportunity and to miss out on opportunities like this, for me, just feels like a waste. Although I had to drive all the way to Venice Beach, it was amazing!!!! The event was called #IMakeALiving and it was a panel discussion and networking event for people who own or are interested in starting their own business or brand. First off, the concept of the event was cool, the content was amazing, but I truly met some amazing people and left the event feeling so inspired. Not to mention I got some free food out of it and even a free glass of wine. It’s been my experience with these events that I’ve never regretted going. Even yesterday as I was getting ready to drive to the event I had a moment of uncertainty, but I forced myself and went for it and I’m so happy I did.

Gal Pals:

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a strong community and enjoy meeting new colleagues, but a strong group of friends my own age is incredibly important, and I’ve been finding I need more. I’m not a homebody—never have been! Every now and then, sure I like to have a lazy day, but more often than not, I’m up to go do something. Finding girlfriends has been the struggle.

When I moved out here, I had so much fun meeting potential roommates, and while none of those situations worked out, it was so great meeting them and I’m hoping we’ll have the chance to get together again sometime. It gave me an idea though… and I’ve heard of other people having success with it too. Using “dating apps” to make new friends. Many of the popular “dating aps” have offered versions of their apps aimed at helping people make friends. I figure, WTH, I’m fine with meeting and getting to know new people and let’s face it, if it could help me find a boyfriend. It’s got to be that much easier to make some girlfriends. So, don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on how that works out!!!

All and all, I’m still so happy. I don’t often find myself feeling too lonely, but I think that’s also because I make such a conscious effort to fill my time wisely. Even when no one else is available to hang out, I’ll find something for just myself to go do. Often times that consists on going to a movie, going for a run, spending the afternoon by the pool, or crossing something off on my Things To-Do list. I truly believe that a strong social circle is the key to finding stability and comfort in a new place and while I know it’s frustrating it doesn’t all just fall into place over night, the journey and struggle is what makes it special!

Happy Homemaking?

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IMG_3364_03.jpgLaying out the welcome mat not only to welcome you back, but because I officially have my own place! However, the real reason that I haven’t had time to write  isn’t because of the unpacking, the screwing together cheap furniture, or the extra freelancing gigs, but instead it’s because of the amount of time I’ve spent on hold customer service hotlines these past few weeks…

Some people might say that I have finally reached adulthood since I that moved away from home, found a fulltime job, rented an apartment, and now have a stack of bills that need paid, BUT those were all things I’ve prepared for. After jumping these hurdles… I now have a new outlook on life. Adulthood is less about “adulting” and more about the amount of patience you have when it comes to dealing with strangers over the phone.

You might be a little confused but I’m here to explain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m supper happy with my new place and am finally getting settled.  But ever since I began this journey one thing after another continues to go wrong.

I started my apartment search looking everywhere from Craigslist (which was sometimes legit and other times as sketchy as it sounds) to sites like Apartments.com and Westside Rentals.  At first these services seem really great… but beware they may not always be up-to-date! The pricing could change, and they could jack it up on you when you go to a showing.  My advice would be to always screen shot the listing ,so when they tell you a price that’s much higher, you can prove what you saw in the ad! Something else to keep in mind is that some places only list apartment units that are available immediately. For example, if you find a complex you love, and they say they only have one-bedrooms right now (but you want a studio) call and see if they have any that will be coming available in the next month!

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Once I started touring locations, I quickly began to notice a few trends: places aren’t as pet friendly as you’d think, 1 bedrooms are way over priced (you’re almost better off getting a two bedroom) parking can sometimes be a luxury, and oh yeah… they don’t always come with refrigerators so be prepared to buy/move/rent/deliver the biggest and one of the most expensive things in your entire apartment.

IMG_0708_02After looking at a ton of places though, I finally found the one that felt like home!  I found a lovely little JR 1-Bedroom apartment (basically a one bedroom but it’s not completely separated from the other living spaces.)  The apartment sits across the street from a beautiful park and lake. I have a nice little balcony and view of the pool! Life seems pretty great but like I had mentioned it was a bumpy road.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was  ½ through signing my paper work for the apartment when the main office calls and lets the property manager know the price she told me was incorrect and it was going to be slightly more expensive than previously stated. While we got that figured out I was already facing my next challenge—trying to get the money together to pay for the apartment. If you find yourself moving away from your small-town bank, I suggest you open a new account at your new location ASAP. Make sure you fully research and check with both banks about your transfer options and give yourself plenty of time to move the funds. Even with all the challenges though and a week’s worth of stress, confusion, and frustration later I had a new apartment.

I dodged the whole no fridge bullet by purchasing one off of good-faith from some lady on Craigslist, but it actually worked out great! I also looked into shipping my furniture from Iowa via a POD or U-Haul and that was waaaaaaay not worth it!  Next priority was that I needed a bed (something I definitely wasn’t going to buy off Craigslist.) I ended up taking a friend’s suggestion and ordered one of those roll up mattresses that they mail you in a compressed in a  box. He swore by it and it was less than $300 so I thought I’d give it a try. This mattress will be the death of me I swear.  First obstacle, when you order online don’t forget to update your credit card mailing address when you change your account address because they’ll catch it and cancel your order.  Take number two of ordering the mattress- I get it in the mail, unroll it and wait the 48 hours for it to reach maximum fluff like you’re supposed to ONLY to find out that it’s the worst mattress ever. It’s so stiff that I woke up in the middle of the night and went back to sleep on the air mattress.

I called to return it to the company like the paper work that came with it says, and they said I needed to go through Amazon. So, I called Amazon and they said they’re going to fix it. They scheduled a mail company to pick it up the next day at no cost and tell me that I don’t have to do a thing. UPS will bring the label and take it as it. Great, all I had to do was work from home the whole day and wait for them to arrive anytime between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. All morning I’m working away and before I know it it’s 12:00 (still no word from them.) I then swear I hear a knock at more door, run to it, and no one’s there but there’s a tag from UPS on the door. I look everywhere—no mailman to be seen. Turns out the knocking was at a neighbor a few doors down and UPS quietly showed up sometime earlier. So, I called UPS back and explained what had happed and then had to pay out of my own pocket to have a driver come back.  3 hours later, UPS shows up at my building, comes up to my apartment, see’s the mattress and refused to take it because it’s not in a box. It’s a mattress. Where do you get a box for a mattress? So, I called Amazon back, get transferred three times but in the end, they told me to keep the mattress and they’d give me a full refund.  Let me just tell you, even though it ended up being free it’s still the worst and I’m stuck with dealing with it. Don’t worry though, I now have a very, very comfortable mattress and am getting a great night’s sleep.

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Last but not least is the weirdest event of them all. So, I found a couch I loved at Home Goods and they use a delivery service called Lugg. Lugg is like the Uber equivalent for moving services. You download the app, select a pick-up truck, moving van, or truck, type in the pick-up location and the drop off location and you’re good to go.  Seems great right…. until the movers show up at your place with two couches and insist they’re both yours. Yes, my first reaction was like “great, a free couch” and then I remembered I have a tiny apartment and the free couch is bigger than the one I picked out. It wasn’t going to work, so one of the movers said he’d just take it home with him. All was fine till I got the bill and learned it was twice as expensive due to the second couch I didn’t even want in the first place!  Again, I got it worked out after about 7 emails and phone calls.

Now these are all the major events I’ve experienced so far, but there were so many minor events in-between from emergency maintenence calls to hour long return lines at Walmart and Target, but at the end of the day, all of it has been worth it!  It feels great to be making things happen and figure it all out on my own. I’m excited to keep decorating my space and make it feel more like a home.  Once I get things in better shape and stop using cardboard boxes as furniture, I’ll be sure to show you the space and share some of my favorite design and furniture tips and tricks in a later post—stay tuned! Until then stay up to date by following @dayofjae on Instagram!

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All About Art

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IMG_7368You know…? I’m all about the art! I always have been. You name it, movies, television, music, theater, but mostly visual arts from crafting and sewing to basically anything that allows you to make something out of nothing (except for baking that is, I’m still working on how to do that successfully.) 

I’ve always been a creative person!  I don’t know that it was ever a conscious decision to pursue art but more so that I was always taking small steps that would lead me down that road. In fact, it wasn’t until my final years of high school that I even found graphic design and digital design. I did, however, know I needed a job that would allow me to be creative, think outside the box and provide a lot of variety.  I remember in fourth grade for career day all the girls were dressed up as teachers and nurses while all the boys wanted to be famous athletes and scientist. Me on the other hand, I showed up with a mood board (complete with fabric and paint swatches) and rendered drawings of a dream house because I wanted to have my own HGTV show one day.  (Sharing my ideas on a blog and social media is the next best thing to having my own tv show these days!)

So, I’ve always felt a connection with art, creativity, and other artists BUT I know that’s not the case for everyone. If you think art museums and exhibits sound boring, well keep reading because I’m writing this blog for you whether you think you’ll like it or not!  This week I’m here to offer up ways you can bring art into your own life in a fun and approachable way that works for you! Just stay with me…

Trust me, I get it! There was a time growing up that I thought visiting an art museum sounded like torture (I was probably five, but that’s not the point.)  In our culture, art museums sometimes get a “tricky” reputation.  They’re often thought of as being too prestigious, upper class, for people that have a higher education level and a big wallet… this is no longer the case and, in some places, it’s actually the exact opposite. Art and society generally follow suit with one another.  With the way our world is changing right now and growing to have a more open understand of other people, cultures, and lifestyles the art community is too.

I didn’t fully begin to appreciate art history and museums until I got to college.  Until then, I just like to make things and create my own art and not put much thought into it.  As part of my degree requirements I had to take a number of art history classes. I knew going into these classes that it’d be hard.  I knew art history meant learning hundreds of different dates and movements, learning words from other languages, and having to spell things like baroque and cubism and also be able to tell you what those words mean.  Don’t get me wrong-it was hard, and it could also be incredibly confusing at times.  Surprisingly though, my art history classes became some of my favorites (even despite they’re early start times and that they met on Fridays.)  Art history changed my life and outlook on art completely. It opened my mind up and changed my college experience for the better.

Art history classes taught me about other cultures, religions, and history that I hadn’t otherwise really been exposed to. It encouraged me to travel the world and look to the past to understand other people and traditions. It gave me a further appreciation and understanding for things that came and existed before me as well as for the things that will outlive me.  Now every time I step foot in an art museum, I’m reminded of all of these things.

I have been incredibly blessed to be able to travel around the world and our country.  In some cases, I was even fortunate enough to get to see the paintings, sculptures, or buildings that I’ve studied in real life. There’s nothing that can describe the feeling I get when I turn around a corner in a museum and find myself standing face to face with the statue of David or gazing into Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I literally lose my breath and just try to take it all in. Now, I don’t expect everyone to have the same reaction or get as much out of it as I do, but you may just surprise yourself.

Another stereotype closely related to the art world is you have to be rich to see it, to travel to it, or to have it in your home… all of this-not true.  Whether in a large metropolitan area or a smaller suburban or rural town, art is all around you and I guarantee you can find it if you’re willing to look. If you don’t believe me, the first place I’d start looking in your area is a local college campus.  They’ve got to have something going on whether it’s a student show or a private collection of work in a gallery it could be worth your while to look into it.  If you find yourself somewhere like New York, don’t let the prices scare you!  A lot of the museums offer different discounts and pricing options, some even take donations rather than set a strict ticket price.

Once you find one and once you get in, then what? What do you look at? How long are you supposed to look at things? What all are you supposed to read?  What if I don’t get it? 

These are ALL valid questions and my answer to all of them is to stop worrying and do what feels right. Other than being quiet and not running sprints down the hallway, there’s not much “right” or “wrong” to an art museum.

IMG_4170If you aren’t drawn to something right away (or if you think it’s absolutely horrible and don’t understand it as I first felt with abstract art and work by Matisse) I challenge you to just take a brief moment to ask yourself, why don’t I like this piece?  Your answer could surprise you and even lead your mind down a rabbit hole to discover something new… but if it doesn’t ring any bells or take you on a journey then on to the next one I say.

I guarantee when you visit a museum, you’re going to see a lot of art that you’d never want to hang on your wall or put in your house (but that’s why it’s hanging a museum and not over your mantel)  The point is you came to this place, you saw the things, you thought about it, and it gave you a reaction (that reaction could be “wow this is amazing” or “this is horrible.”)  An artist’s most basic goal though, is to get a reaction… might not be the one they had in mind but none the less, they just want to shake up something in you. Try your best to keep an open mind and give it a chance.

Believe it or not museums aren’t just paintings hung on walls these days.  There’s actually a lot of artist that are trying to change the traditional “museum” experience and setting AND there’s a lot more work and thought that goes into it than you’d think.  I myself got to explore and experience this logic myself when I created and curated my first show, Married to my Work.  It was my goal to break these art and museum stereotypes and create a space that was welcoming, memorable, and encouraged you to get involved and play a part in the art. (To read more about my own art show click here: Married to My Work.)

This idea of creating a welcome space is popping up everywhere and LA has some of the greatest examples.  If a traditional museum still isn’t speaking to you then find yourself a pop-up exhibit. One of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to was a collection of work for a lot of different artists that transformed a warehouse into an immersive experience in the middle of LA called the 14th Factory organized by artist, Simon Birch(You may remember or feel like you’ve heard about it because one of the installations was knocked over by a girl taking a selfie resulting in thousands of dollars in damage… let’s take a moment to feel for her though, because I was almost that girl.  No, I wasn’t taking a selfie, but my bag did bump one of the pedestals in that same exhibit and almost knocked them over like dominos, but I was able to catch it and steady it in time…still gives me anxiety thinking about it though.)

Another, more pop-culture based exhibit is The Museum of Selfies (where a lot of my pictures have been from lately.)  This museum did aim to teach you a thing or two and not just how to take a good selfie, but it’s main purpose was to allow you to interact with different scenes and from there create your own art with your selfie.

IMG_0872Most recently my team at Florapy also attended a pop-up art show in LA called Bloom Art Show.  It was an outdoor, weekend event that was all about flowers and experiencing the beauty of nature.

See… there are so many different ways to experience art!  Change, breaking out of your comfort zone, try new things, do something different… all key parts to an art museum as well as my goals of this blog.  I’m learning from my experiences and pushing my limits with the hope that my readers will too.  I challenge all of you who have made it through this lengthy post to keep pushing your boundaries (whatever that may mean to you!) If you go to any cool museums or exhibits OR if there’s any you’d like me to check out, let me know! You know me, always looking for suggestions. If you’d like to see more of my own art and designs, visit designforthestory.com, @designforthestory on Instagram, OR just simply click the Art Work tab above!

Home to Hollywood

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Hollywood: the entertainment capital of the world and the main reason I’ve day dreamed about Los Angeles since I was nine years old. It’s the home to America’s most beloved movies and television shows and everywhere you go in this city, you’re surrounded by the industry!

 

If you love to watch a screen (whether big or small) it comes to life right before your eyes. Everywhere you look, you can almost guarantee it’s served as a backdrop in one film or another (even the Buca de Beppo around the corner).  All of the major production studios are scattered around the city and many of them even find unique ways to open their doors and let you in. Whether you want to grab a cup of joe with an old Friend at the Central Perk Café at Warner Bros or travel the back lots at NBCUniversal Studios where you’ll find The Voice, Amity Island, and even Whoville. There’s something fun about interacting and seeing firsthand how and where some of your favorite movies are made.

IMG_6404You don’t have to take a tour or be on set to see where the magic happens. Like I said everywhere you go has played a role somewhere. Of course, it’s hard to miss some of Hollywood’s favorite backdrops like the iconic Hollywood Sign and don’t forget to take a trip on Mulholland Drive! While traveling through the city you will also probably pass or cross over the LA River, (not much of a river) home to one of my all-time favorite movie, the drag race scene in Grease (Go Grease Lightning go!)

When you’re here, there’s also always the excitement of you never know who you’ll run into (literally). Twice on my recent evening jogs in a quiet residential neighborhood I’ve passed a filming session for Julia Robert’s new TV Show, Homecoming (before you ask, no-I didn’t see her or any of her co-stars, but I did see the lighting guy, and he’s just as cool). As far as other sightings, I’ve seen countless Bachelor/Bachelorette stars, multiple E-personalities (even though I didn’t really know who they were), and a few of my favorites like Aaron Paul and Tyra Banks!

doj_instagram_17The key to seeing celebrities is mostly being able to be aware of your surroundings and knowing where and when to pay attention (something I’m not great at, but I am super good with faces!)  You could see someone at dinner, while out shopping, or even walking down a street (all places and real-life situations I’ve seen someone.)  When you do see someone, just keep it cool and gage the situation!  But come on we all know those few people that’d we’d freak out if we ever walked into a room and saw them, that one person standing right in front of us. I’ve gotten into convos where I try to think about who that person would be for me… sure, a few years ago it would have been Adam Levine, but I’ve seen him and we’re not getting married anytime soon so I’m over that. My inner middle schooler though, would still probably lose it though if I saw Zac Efron or Robert Pattinson though! I have been known to get more excited over the fact I actually spotted and recognized someone than the fact of their celebrity status or who they are. I mean when it comes down to it, they are normal people just out trying to live their everyday lives, but you bet if I run into Ellen, I’m going to ask her to take a selfie with me! I’d love to hear who you’d freak out over meeting! Send or message me your fav celebs and I’ll keep you posted if I ever run into them!

The most important way to experience the movies though, is still by actually going to a movie theater to watch a movie.  In LA there’s no exception, even when on vacation it’d recommend going to see a movie because it can be a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else and it plays a huge part in this city’s history and future. To get a unique LA movie theater experience, you can purchase tickets to sit where the stars sit for movie premieres at the Chinese Theater or see Disney’s latest hit at the El Capitan theater.

I love seeing a movie at the actual theater for many reasons that aren’t just butter covered popcorn. I think it’s so special to sit down next to your loved ones or sometimes even complete strangers to sit and experience a movie together.  The feeling of sharing a laugh with a room full of people during the latest Melissa McCarthy movie or jumping so high out of your seat during a trailer for an upcoming horror movie that it leaves the whole room laughing afterwards-that’s movie magic. It’s less about what you’re actually watching and more about experiencing it together and sharing that memory.

Movies literally bring people together in so many ways!  In LA there are some very unique ways to experience a movie especially a classic. Why sit where the stars sit, when you can sit right next to one of the greatest stars of all times (and by sit next to I mean set on top of…)  One of the greatest traditions in LA is to go see a favorite movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  You’ll actually be surrounded by some of the greatest entertainers that ever lived while you watch some of the most praised and loved movies of all time. With theaters the way they are nowadays, the comfort of your own bed is no longer an excuse. You can find theaters that are even better and comfier than your couch at home.  At iPic for example, you can sit in a recliner (big enough for two) that goes all way back. They’ll give you a pillow, a blanket, and free popcorn. You will also then have the chance to order things like sushi, steak, dessert and other delicious meals and they’ll bring it out for you. Now I don’t know about you but that sounds way better than what I’ve got at home.

Look, I know how expensive movies are getting, especially if you want to enjoy an experience like iPic, but trust me… I have a secret.  (It’s not much of a secret any more but it’s still so new to me that it feels like a secret.) If you love going to the movies, listen up this one is for you, finish reading my blog then before you go do whatever else you’re going to go do, you’re going to download Movie PassMovie Pass is the answer to your prayers and is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a scam and it’s not too good to be true, but it is the greatest thing ever! It is a service that you subscribe to (just like Netflix) and for $10 a month you can see as many movies in theaters as you want (well up to one per day and you can’t see the same one twice-but still! That up to 31 movies a month for $10 total).

This is how it works… You sign up online or through the app, they they’re going to mail you a Movie Pass Card (it looks like a “credit card”). Once you’ve activated your card, you can go to select theaters in your area (in LA they’re everywhere, in Boone and Ames, don’t worry you can use Movie Pass at Movies 12 AND North Grand Cinema I already checked!) Once you have your card ready and you’re at the theater you select the movie and showtime you’d like to see and then click check-in. Next, you’ll go purchase your tickets, when you get to the counter to pay you simply swipe your Movie Pass card and then they take care of the rest. Some select theaters will even let you reserve your seat and ticket online, so you don’t have to show up extra early but check in with your local theater. The first time I ever used movie pass I would have paid $14 for a ticket at that location, but with Movie Pass all I paid was my $10 earlier that month and it had already paid for itself. Just keep in mind that this is a heck of a great deal and please don’t try to scam the system and ruin it for the rest of us. You can’t use your movie pass on other people or multiple tickets AND you can’t use it in combination with concession stand purchases.  Just take your “free” ticket and enjoy the show.

Now you have NO excuses not to go see the latest and greatest movies. If you just go to one movie a month, it’ll pay for itself. Since being out here, I’ve used my Movie Pass to see Life of the Party, Oceans 8, and Tag (all movies I’d highly recommend for very different reasons!) Next on the list is Incredibles 2, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (supposed to be awesome) Gotti (supposed to be horrible) and Hereditary (if I can find any friends brave enough to go with me).

Bonus: When I went to see Tag I also saw the trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale and it was the most beautiful, terrifying, magical, and creepy trailer I’ve ever seen. If you’re confused how all those adjectives fit together, check it out right now.

***Credits start rolling***

Don’t get up and leave your seats just yet! This city is known for making movies and a lot of people work in this industry. People appreciate every roll and all the effort that goes into make a great film.  With that being said, don’t be surprised if people stick around so that they can cheer and clap when their friend’s name scrolls across the screen! It’s worth the wait to see the joy!

This week my advice is to go to the movies and share an experience with other people. Whether the movie truly speaks to you or is the worst thing you’ve ever seen, there’s nothing like crying, laughing, and sometimes screaming all together.

Share with me what movies you’re excited to see or what your thoughts were on ones you’ve seen recently! Comment below, email dayofjae@gmail.com, or DM on Instagram!  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for all the latest updates >>^^