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!

Born to Blossom

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This Spring, I witnessed something truly spectacular, my first Super Bloom in California. This year we received so much rain in California that it caused the wild flowers to bloom like crazy throughout the whole state. Everywhere you went was covered in green grass and the hills, road sides, mountains and even the deserts were transformed and painted with vibrant colors. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.

 

Last fall, you may recall the wild fires that devastated part of Malibu. At the time, I had not returned to Malibu since the fires until I had some visitors come to town and we decided to check things out. We hiked the Escondido Falls trail and I couldn’t believe how the land that was burnt to a crisp only a few months earlier has already grown back to be more beautiful than ever.  All the rain also presented us with a wonderful water fall and the most pleasant morning hike!

In Late March and Early April, the Painted Ladies butterflies were also migrating through Los Angeles and everywhere you went, including the park across the street was fully surrounded by thousands of these butterflies.

Being stuck in traffic has also never been better. On beautiful breezy afternoons, driving through the Valley suburbs with your windows down, your car quickly fills with the scent of fresh Jasmine or other flowering trees that line the street. No tree can quite compare to the Japanese Cherry Blossom that blooms right down the street from me at the local Japanese Garden sanctuary.

The most incredible view of all though, had to have been to see the California Poppies in full bloom in Antelope Valley. These State flowers create such vivid fields of orange that they’re almost blinding to look at. The fields are overwhelming and truly worth the hordes of people that drove to see them.

When we visited the poppy reserve, we made a whole day out of it and also visited the town of Lancaster. We walked their BLVD and ate at a delicious Mexican cantina, Don Sal, and also visited the Prime Dessert Woodland Preserve (which is free and open to the public!) where we saw the Joshua Trees blooming (a lot less exciting visually, but still a unique experience) and jack rabbits easily mistaken for cayotes even!

As California prepares to enter “June Gloom” in just a few weeks, I’m going to hold on to these incredible memories as much as I can and try my best to look forward to a little more rain and the beauty if brings with it.

May is for Moms

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(FREE card download below)

May is the month that belongs to Moms not just because of the amazing alliteration and yes, Mother’s Day might have something to do with it, but also May happens to be my own Mother’s birthday month as well! I’d like to not only dedicate this post but this whole month to Moms everywhere!  (To be honest, though,  if your mom is anything like mine, she deserves a heck of a lot more than just a month!)

This year, I’m not able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and I’ll have to settle for constant phone calls back and forth for now.  I still wanted to do something special for her to let her know I still love and appreciate her even from 1,000 miles away! It just so happens that I found the perfect way to do just that, but I also managed to turn it into a personal date! Double Whammy! (My mom let me know today that she already received her gift in the mail—ahead of the game I know—so I’m all set to share my ideas with you!)

This past weekend I attended an amazing little event hosted by one of my favorite LA based Businesses The Social Type and another really neat brand, Orly Nail Polish. Orly Nail Polish recently opened a pop-up promotional shop called Orly Color Labs where you can go in and create your own custom nail color! They ask you a series of questions and then you create a mood board which winds up turning into your new custom color! Next you head to the mixology station and watch the magic happen! You even get name your custom color and seal the deal. 😘

Check out my Custom Colors: What Moms are Made Of (for none other than my mom) and Day of Jae…. How fitting right?! Not will you walk away with a custom nail polish to take home or send to a friend, every Saturday you can also get a FREE manicure with your purchase. Absolutely amazing!

The nail bar is the first of its kind and is currently only available in Los Angeles. You can visit the pop-up shop at 7621 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 90036; Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. So YES, there’s still time to head in and make one for your mom!

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If you make it in before Sunday, you can also snag a card from The Social Type! I’ve been following this stationary & gifts shop on social media for a few years now (turns out we actually have some mutual friends and a lot in common!) I have always been inspired by their products and everything they do! I’ve been fortunate enough to meet the ladies in charge a few times now and they’re beyond wonderful! Always looking to go above to provide memorable opportunities for their customers! While they’re also located in Los Angeles, near Silver Lake to be exact, you can still shop their collections online at https://thesocialtype.com.

Seriously, look how cute!

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Now let’s say you’re not in LA and still need something for your mom that’s a little speedier because you waited until last minute! Or maybe you want to spoil your Grandma or Mother-in-law? Maybe your best friend just became a new mom??? Whoever the mom is in your life—I have the perfect gift option for you—Florapy Beauty Sheet Masks! The entire sheet mask collection is now available on Amazon and you can even get two day or next day deliver via Amazon Prime depending on your location! Give her the gift of flowers that won’t wilt but instead will keep her skin hydrated and radiant for time to come!

Running too late for even that??? I’ve got you! Download one of these printable cards (created by yours truly)  print them out (or screen shot and send if you’d rather), write out a message and boom— your mom will love it just because it came from you. 💜

FREE CARD DOWNLOAD: 20182019_MothersDayCards

Birthday Bash

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This weekend has been one to remember and I can’t wait to share my festivities with you in this post! But first I would like to thank you all for all of your kind wishes this past week and weekend. I feel so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life to celebrate with and I definitely felt the love this past week!

I’ve been thinking about Birthdays a lot lately (coincidence, I think not!) How some people love to celebrate and go all out while others prefer to keep it to themselves and enjoy their day in private—we all have different personalities!  I’ve also been thinking about how we sometimes look at it as being one more trip around the sun and a time to reflect on all our accomplishments in the past year. It’s also interesting to me how our personalities change and develop with time, but also how we sometimes rely on our age as being a standard to measure where our priorities should be focused and what goals we should work towards next.

Since graduating college, I’ve taken on the mentality that age is just a number. I look at the various friends I’ve surrounded myself with and although we’re all very different ages, we’re all in similar stages in our lives and that’s what brings us together rather than a number or “what grade we’re in.”  However even at 24 now, I’m still often one of the youngest when it comes to groups in LA. The youngest at work. The youngest in most of my friend groups. But being the youngest has been something that I’ve learned to cherish. When looking back at all the things I’ve accomplished during 23 there are a lot of milestones on that list and I’m so proud of myself that I accomplished those things sooner rather than later. There’s no time like the present to just go for it and get things done when you know they feel right. At the same time, I hope that I have plenty of time to look forward to.  There’s no perfect age to do things so from now on I’m just trying to live in the moment and try my best not to plan every step of the way.

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It’s no secret how much I love holidays and my day of birth is no exception. While it’s nice to feel extra special at one day out of the year and get a little extra attention, I most look forward to using my birthday as an excuse to get family and friends together (and maybe even throw a party or two!

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My Birthday celebrations started a week early when I went back to Iowa! My brother and I are 4 years and 1 day apart which always made for a bittersweet celebration growing up (bitter because he usually got to pick what dessert we were having and sweet because it was unique and we could celebrate together—which I’m sure made it easier on my parents too.) So, this year was no exception, we celebrated both of our Birthdays together with a family cook out! I also got to celebrate with Emory

 

Between traveling and having an already busy week and big weekend plans, I wanted to keep things a little more relaxed on my actual birthday! I decided I wanted to do something that I’ve thought about doing for years but always chickened out and made an excuse—more ear piercings! A girl friend and I made our way to Oak and Poppy (the coolest tattoo parlor I’ve ever seen and a place that also specializes in piercings.) I was not brave and was nervous as could be, but honestly it really wasn’t that bad. Also… did you know using a piercing gun are not the normal method and actually if you go somewhere that’s using one… there’s a greater chance for them to be messed up? Well me neither but now I know. They do not use gun here but do it all by hand which is honestly a relief considering the noise the gun makes was always the worst sound! Afterwards we met up with a few other friends and treated ourselves to some fancy desserts at Crave Café (easily one of my favorite casual restaurants I’ve been to in LA.) I got a chocolate brownie cheesecake… YUM!

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Saturday was the day for the big celebration! As I mentioned, I love coming up with different ways to bring people together and try new things and make memories! This year I wanted to come up with something that I could invite all my different friend groups to so that everyone could all have a chance to meet one another AND I wouldn’t have to pick and choose who I do with what. Also, as I get older, I certainly can’t handle going out quite like I did during my Iowa City days… I like to go to bed at a decent time now, I can’t drink that much without being hungover the next day… I sound so old already. BUT I still love an excuse to get all dressed up and I still enjoy night life energy of being out and about.

All these factors lead me to the idea to do a Classy Cocktail Crawl, like a bar crawl but classier. LA has sooo many bars, many of which are very cute and are designed to look good on your Instagram at any part of the day. Since many of us are always up for a crazy rowdy party— I thought it’d be better to start earlier and end earlier. Then I picked a location that was somewhat centrally located for everyone, Hollywood, and then from there I researched bars in the area within walking distance of one another and picked 5 places I had never been before.

We started the night at 5:00 pm at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. This bar has been on my list for a while. It’s like walking through a time machine and traveling back to 1968 completely styled in 60s and 70s decor. We started here early because this placed gets packed as the night goes one. There’s also outdoor patio space, throwback music, the option to get food, and the coolest entrance ever! I will be going back at some point!

 

Next, we walked a few blocks to The Highlight Room, a pool and patio bar and cocktail area at the top of the Dream hotel. This was by far the fanciest stop of the night with the most amazing views and priciest drinks. I loved the atmosphere and it was so great to be able to sit down with everyone and catch up. It was also the most “LA” place we went too but I loved every minute of it.

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Afterwards we literally walked around the corner to the next bar, Beauty and Essex. Again, a cool and interesting place. Primarily a restaurant/lounge kind of place. When you first enter, it looks like you’re walking into a high-end pawn show with a whole bunch of sparkly jewelry cases and an assortment of memorabilia.

From there we walked next door to grab a slice of pizza from Lucinis and across the street to the Powder Room. I have to say although we had a great time playing games and hanging out… this was my least favorite stop of the night. It was way smaller than expected and the décor was a little off due to the child’s bedroom additions. All around it was interesting…

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(Google Image)

Last but not least we went to No Vacancy, another beautiful house that has been transformed into a bar! We got there a little behind schedule about 11:45 and had to wait a good 15 minutes to get in but we easily could have had to wait a lot longer. The experience of entering the place and the surprise at the top of the stairs is by far the most exciting part. When we got in… it was beyond packed and felt like we were at a frat party. We hung out, danced a bit, and fought our way to the bar.  It didn’t take long before we were already to go. I would definitely go back, but earlier in the night for sure and leave before the crowd gets so out of hand!

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The whole weekend was a blast! I enjoyed every minute of it and 24’s celebration will be a tough one to beat. Thanks again to everyone who celebrated with me and made this year so special.

 

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

Only in October

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As much as I wish Halloween and October festivities could go on throughout the year… Having a month dedicated to all things Fall and spooky makes it seem even more special. Although I’m not really sure where my love of Halloween started, I get so excited as it starts to get darker earlier and begins to cool off. This year, my first year celebrating my favorite Holiday in LA, did not disappoint. This month was jam packed with so many festivities, I wanted to share them all with you!

 

I started October off extra spooky with one of my favorite Halloween traditions, haunted houses.  We decided to go to one of LA’s top Halloween attractions, Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Every year Universal transforms their theme park into the ultimate Halloween experience. They set up over 8 haunted mazes and houses just for this event. Being Universal, you know their budget is going to be huge and they go all out. Every detail is thoroughly thought out and something scary lurks around every corner. Emory had never been to Universal Studios before AND he had NEVER been to a haunted house (I know I couldn’t believe it either.) We had such a blast enjoying Harry Potter world, drinking butter beer, and getting scared out of our wits!

 

Another October tradition that’s popular with the 21+ crowd and isn’t scary in the slightest, is Oktoberfest. Germany’s autumn festival dedicated to drinking beer and eating pretzels and sausages. This is one holiday I’ve never celebrated and although I would have loved to be in Munich, I couldn’t have asked for a better time.  I went with a group of ladies to Lake Arrowhead for their Oktoberfest celebration! We had such a blast enjoying a weekend by the lake, a break from the LA heat, and just enjoying each other’s company. We ate lots of pretzels, drank our fair share of beer, but my favorite treat was Tajin flavored popcorn. I had never heard of such a thing, but Tajin is Mexican seasoning salt that is a blend of chili pepper and lime… mmm so good! You can buy the seasoning and try it for yourself!

 

I think my love of Halloween has been heavily influenced by movies. Growing up I loved non-scary classics like Halloweentown, Haunted Mansion, and Hocus Pocus. (Also known as the movies I watch on repeat every October, every year.) As I got older, I was introduced to movies of the horror, scary, thriller genre. With that being said I know I have A LOT of classics to catch up on especially with the new release of the classic, Halloween. This year, on Halloween night, I went to see the new Halloween movie. Let’s just say I really underestimated how scary a man wearing a mask can be and I should have never doubted Michael Myers. Although I was terrified and on the edge of my seat the whole time, I loved every minute of it. My heart was racing, and the adrenalin rush had me racing! Thankfully Emory was still up to console me on the drive home! I’d highly recommend going to see the movie even though Halloween is over. It’s by far one of the best scary movies I’ve seen in a long time!

 

But of course, it’s no secret that I looooooove to dress up. Every year I look forward to coming up with costume ideas and making them from scratch. I love to dress up and pretend for a night to be something I’m not. I love the creative challenge of thinking outside the box. This year I sported two new costume ideas! These past two years, I’ve gotten pretty into plants (if you haven’t read Plant Possibilities check it out and see what I mean) That with the California landscape inspired me to take stab at creating a cactus costume. It gave a new meaning to Pokey Jae. Last year I dressed up as a client for work, so for this year’s Office Halloween Party I wanted to come up with something related again. Although I never had one but always wanted one, I decided to be a style me Barbie. Everyone at work loved it enough to vote me the Most Creative costume!

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College had given me an outlet to take this love of dressing up in costume to the next level with events going on every night of the week and an excuse to wear multiple costumes. This year I took a trip through Instagram with 13 Posts from Halloweens Past! I hope everyone had a sppppppoooooookkkkkkkkeyyy Halloweeeeeeeeennnn (If you haven’t listened to my favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder, I suggest you do, and you’ll get that reference. BUT its not just a Halloween thing!) Until next year! Stay spooky and get excited for next year’s Halloween!

 

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!