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

Plant Possibilities

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This past year, I have gotten pretty into plants… and while I somehow manage to keep myself alive, I’ve never been great at keeping my green friends thriving. While plants are such an important part of decorating a space, I never really had an interest in them until I visited the store Moss in Iowa City. Full disclaimer here: I was totally one of the people that made fun of the store when they first opened because I thought there was no way that they’d be able to create a sustainable business selling moss, succulents, pots, and other small gifts! There was no way!!! But, I must say, after my first time ever visiting the store… it wasn’t long before I was a regular customer.

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I became obsessed with the way cacti and succulents looked and the way that a little greenery could brighten your whole mood in a room. Anytime I saw a plant on sale- I snatched it up and started looking for creative ways to give it a new home. Although I had a new passion of indoor gardening, it didn’t mean I was good at it. I’d try propagating (taking leaves from plants to grow a new plant) clippings co-workers would give me. Everyone else’s would grow 3 times as fast, most of mine would shrivel out, and even when one started to grow it took FOREVER. I began to think that maybe plants weren’t the thing for me.

 

 

When I moved to LA, I had to say buh-bye to the plants I’d cared for so much in the past year and left them in the care of my mom. (The plants actually seem to be thriving, but I have no idea how because she’s not great with plants either.) I’m surrounded by green-thumbs though (which only seems to frustrate me more at my lack of ability.) Before moving I helped my Uncle (who has basically converted half of his house into a greenhouse) plant seeds in preparation for the Summer. He had the whole set up including proper lighting, watering techniques, potting materials, you name it! Then there’s my boyfriend who can find a seed or leaf on the ground and three days later it’s over growing its pot.

I wasn’t ready to give up. Now that I’m finally starting to get settled in my apartment and making it look like a home (the reveal will be soon I swear just waiting on a few final touches like plants, pictures, and artwork) I could see that I was missing something—plants. I also need something to “take care of” and I’m nowhere near ready for the responsibility of a dog so plants it is.

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In California there are soooo many floral shops, nurseries, and gardens BUT plants can be really expensive. This weekend I went with a friend of mine to the Los Angeles Flower District. Basically, is about 4 square blocks of nothing but floral and plant shops. They’re these warehouse buildings that have all different kinds of flower venders selling fresh cut flowers, house plants, outdoor plants, pots, and plant accessories. Whether interested in buying plants or not it’s quite the experience! It will overwhelm your senses with bright and beautiful colors and everywhere you go it sells so amazing. The absolute best part though, is that it’s incredibly cheap. Tiny baby succulents for $1 each and taller house plants for $20 -$90 depending on the size of the plant.

 

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So here’s what all I walked away with: 1 tall tree thing, 1 small standard house plant, 1 standard vine plant, 1 bigger succulent grouping, 6 baby succulents, and 5 pots all for about $60-$70! What a steal!!! I wanted so much more but thought this was a good place to start. Obviously I don’t know any of the technical names being new to this plant thing and having done no research. None of them were really labeled at the store so if you know what they are or what they’re called, please let me know.

 

 

Logistics: The flower district is located downtown LA close to the fashion district. There’s plenty of parking available in the area, most of it was $5-10 depending on how long you’ll be there. The parking lots are very close so if you need to make a few trips like we did it’s super easy to do!  The market is during the morning and I believe it ends at 2:00 pm so plan accordingly. We met there at 11:00 and made a lap around to all the shops and scoped things out for about an hour then went back through and made our purchases. To go into the original LA Flower Market we had to pay $1. Although its cheap and you think that it’s going to be worth it, we actually had better luck at all the surrounding shops.

 

Since it’s down town there are soooo many ways to make a day out of it if you’re already making the drive. The arts district (which I still need to check out) and the ROW DTLA are close by (driving distance though.) We drove a little way to go to lunch at Bottega Louie —so good but there are also sooooo many options to stop and eat at just be prepared you’ll have to pay for parking again. I had an event later that day that was also down town at the LA Center for Digital Art, so I went and parked again in that area and walked around until I found a coffee shop where I could sit and write this blog post! I found the neatest little space with this tiny, all glass coffee shop in the middle of all these apartment buildings called Tilt Coffee. It was just what I needed. It’s the best kind of treat yourself and your apartment kind of day!

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!

Family Function

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The hardest factor in making the decision to move to Los Angeles was coming to realize that meant moving far away from my family.

It’s not the first time that I’ve been a plane ride away from them, but it is the first time that I’ve moved without having a deadline attached. (Before I’d moved for at most a summer at a time, once to LA for the internship and once to Italy to study abroad.)

This past year I lived at home with my parents for the first time in four years, and I have a lot to say about it. Let me start by saying I never in a million years thought I’d move back home again. While at college, I couldn’t imagine giving up my lifestyle to move back to Boone again.

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Here’s a little background about my family—it’s very small. I have my parents, my brother, my grandpa, and one uncle that all live in the town I grew up in. I have an aunt, two cousins, and an uncle all within a 30-minute drive from Boone.  Then I have three aunts, three uncles, and two cousins that all live either a long drive or flight away (I don’t get to see them that often but when I do, it’s a party!)  So, for me, it feels very small but for a lot of us, it’s allowed us to form a closer relationship because we’re so small.

Although I’ve always gotten along really well with my family and have great relationships with them, When I left for college I had no intentions of ever going back again (well, not for a long period of time I mean). But after graduating, I had no money and I was starting a job in Des Moines, so it just made the most sense to move back in with them.  Yes, it was also the smartest decision financially.  I was able to save up some money that would eventually allow me to make the move to California.  I also had a roof over my head, a refrigerator that was fully stocked, and roommates that loved me very much.

The situation at first didn’t sound ideal. A lot of my friends were moving away, starting big careers, getting cool apartments, meeting new people, and at first, I felt stuck and disappointed that all I had to look forward to was moving back home. I quickly realized however, that moving home was exactly what I needed. I needed that time to be back in Boone and close to my friends and family again for many reasons.

It was nice having both my parents so close again.  I got to go back to some of my favorite old routines like taking a Sunday afternoon nap while golf or football played in the background and take the dogs for walks over to my grandpa’s house with my mom.  I really got to focus on family again and formed even greater relationships with my parents that I’ll forever be grateful for.  Moving back home, I finally got to be a part of events that I’d been missing out on the past four years like birthday celebrations, family card games, and my brother and cousin’s athletic events.

I got to watch my brother leave for college and start his experience at my alma mater. I got to spend quality time with my Boone Goon friends and reconnect with them on a deeper level rather than just brief visits here and there. My grandpa’s house was within walking distance again and I could just pop over there whenever I needed someone to talk to, needed something to do, or needed to win a game of Cribbage.

Moving home was crucial to my transition from college to adult life.  Leaving behind the life I had created in Iowa City, the friends, the routines, and the structure of being a student was very hard.  I needed the familiarity of a home for a while before I was able to make a bigger change and start somewhere totally new. When it comes to family and relationships it was one of the best decision I have ever made and I’m so thankful for that time I got to share with everyone, BUT yes it seemed to make my decision to move that much harder!

Ultimately I knew I’d miss my family and miss out on a lot of milestones for the people I love. I also knew though, that I needed to start focusing on building my own life and a career that would give me as much joy as possible. I needed to get out of the comfort zone and try something new.

Another big transition that came along with my move is that my parents also decided to move to a new home as well (same town but new neighborhood & house). I thought the idea of leaving my childhood home would be a lot harder and don’t get me wrong there were times in my life that I would have been devastated to have to say goodbye to my tiki hut room.  But after spending that extra year living there, I found peace with the idea of my parent moving and that house no longer being ours.

When they were debating on moving, I knew that I was also moving and this time with the intentions of starting my own life and not planning to live in Iowa again any time soon. I began to realize that I didn’t need the space as much as I knew I needed the people (and dogs) in it and the town that surrounds it.

When my parents told me they bought a house, I was so happy for them. It’s a new adventure and chapter in their lives as well. It’ll be weird at first to visit and go to a different neighborhood and sleep in a different room, but a little change is good. Sometimes, getting too comfortable can hold people back and stop them from chasing their dreams (it almost did me!)

If you find yourself in the middle of a big transition, try your best to embrace the period of change and think about all the positive outcomes that can come out of it. If you’re worried about moving back home because it seems like a failure or step back—it isn’t, it’s smart! I promise you’ll never regret that time with your loved ones or regret the money you saved.  Use the time to enjoy the people around you as much as you can for as long as you’re there.

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Taking on Traffic

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(While this picture wasn’t taken in LA and it isn’t me driving…. It is still my car and I took it!)

Well… I’m not an Iowa any morethat’s for sure. When you come to visit or move to LA if the palm trees and sunshine aren’t enough to immediately tell you you’re in a new place then it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway and the message reads loud and clear.  Traffic here really does suck.

There are a lot of rumors that surround Los Angeles and transportation (but there are a lot of truths about them too).  In just a short time of living in LA spread out over a few years, I’ve experienced it all from using public transportation, trying out all the rideshare services, and even driving!

Everyone says that the public transportation systems suck in LA and well if you’re someone whose use to living in New York or Chicago then you’d agree. Los Angeles is a different kind of city because it’s so spread out compared to cities that have skyscrapers and believe in building up into the sky.  When I first lived in Los Angeles for a summer internship, I was testing it all out.  I lucked out rented an apartment that happened to be less than a block away from a metro stop. For me to get from my apartment in North Hollywood/Studio City all the way to Universal City for work, I walked one block, got on a metro bus for one stop, transferred to a metro subway for one stop then got off and walked across the street to work. Easy Peasy! All this took about 45 mins each way and cost about $5 round trip.  Sounds great, right? Well since moving back it’s my understanding that that was a pretty rare and unique experience that I’ll probably never find again.

Unless you find yourself in a similar situation where you live in close proximity to a stop, it can be very challenging.  There’s not very much parking at the metro stops and stations so you have to walk or Uber to catch a metro ride. The metro lines aren’t as well connected as in other cities either. You could find yourself in a situation where you have to go all the way downtown to make your connection train and then back track on a different line to get to the neighborhood you work in! But none the less public transportation does exist if you’re willing to make it work.  I also think that most of us are too stuck in our ways and tailored to this idea that “we have to drive” to even find a route or see if there’s a public transportation option available to us. Not as many people are willing to trade in their road rage for sitting next to strangers, but if you’re the kind of person that can actually get your morning started by either answering emails, reading a book, or even taking a little snooze in public—then it could definitely be worth checking out! Yes, it might take you a little longer, but you have more of an opportunity to make that time worth it and be productive.

One morning during my internship, I woke up a little later than usual and knew I wasn’t going to make it on time if I took the subway.  I decided to Uber instead and actually learned that going to work in the mornings was cheaper and quicker by Ubering rather than public transportation. The Uber ride would take 15 minutes and cost about $1.75… purely amazing and life changing (I now had an extra 15 minutes to get ready every morning or get to work even that much earlier which for me is a big deal!)

 

When I lived in LA the first time Uber and Lyft were still pretty new concepts to me, but before long they became my life line.  When my mom and I arrived at LAX we had plans to immediately rent a car for the weekend, but that idea quickly turned into a nightmare. Long story short, I’m just going to let you know that I will never try renting a car from a rental place close to LAX ever again.  If you’re here for a short period of time, trust me it’s not worth the stress, waiting, and money!  Just download a rideshare app instead- I swear! I convinced my mom right then and there we were going to just Uber all weekend and 12 minutes later our driver was coming to pick us up and saved us from all the struggles.

Uber has been a life saver in many different moments. It made getting around in Los Angeles easy, “quicker,” and was pretty affordable considering the alternatives. My mom and I both loved getting to meet different drivers and hearing their advice and life stories while we also got to sit back, relax, and not worry about directions, parking, or which exit to take. People often get in the discussion of whether Uber or Lyft is better, and everyone has a different response. Some drivers drive for both services and will tell you different things. For me, they’re both about equal. I’ve had great luck with both and some frustrating moments with both. Most importantly I’ve always felt safe on both and when there were times I ran into issues both customer services responded quickly and were very helpful! If I have time and am not in a hurry I usually check the rate with both and then pick which ever one will be cheaper. Usually though, they’re pretty close so I pick whichever one can have a driver there the quickest.

My favorite thing to do in LA (in terms of traveling and traffic that is) is to take Uber pool. Uber pools or Lyft Lines are ride options offered in the app (they’re usually only offered in your major metropolitan areas though). They allow parties of 1-2 riders to share their ride with another rider usually for ½ the price of the original ride. Generally speaking it only adds an additional 15-30 mins onto your trip.  I’ve seen some of the neatest areas and neighborhoods and met some amazing people all because of Uber pool. For example, one Saturday I was going to Manhattan Beach and we stopped and picked up another girl in her mid-twenties who was also headed to that beach. Neither of us were meeting anyone until later that afternoon so we decided we’d just go to the beach together and hangout. We spent the entire afternoon discussing our lives back and forth with a complete stranger and then at the end of the day we both went our separate ways- but it was a really great time.

While that was an amazing experience, you do have to be careful and smart about it. Although I haven’t had any bad experiences, I do choose not to pool later in the evening or when I’m closer to certain areas of town. Also, as often as you meet some neat people you’ll also get passengers who do not want talk or even look at you (we all have those days). If you’re in a hurry and crunched for time, don’t rely on pool just because it’s cheaper.  It’s not always a guarantee that they’ll get you there on time especially with traffic. Do everyone a favor and pay the few dollars more just to take your own ride in those situations.

When I moved back to LA a month ago I had decided not to bring my car and planned on ridesharing everywhere. I wanted to get reacquainted with the area once again and I wanted to see if I really needed truly needed a car… Almost immediately I regretted that decision. Uber prices had definitely gone up and I was living in a less central area compared to North Hollywood (now I’m in the San Fernando Valley). My expenses were rapidly adding up and it took too much time to plan ahead to rideshare.  So, I needed my car but now that I had a new job and I couldn’t go back to Iowa to get it. I had looked into shipping it and that was going to cost about $2,000 which did not seem worth it.  On to plan b… My boyfriend, being as great as he is, agreed to drive it out to me. I’ve had a car now for two weeks, which I know doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s made all the difference. I was beyond nervous to drive at first… I had no idea of how to really get anywhere and I had never drove in traffic like this before. But now, I’m thinking to myself, what was I so nervous for. Right now, I live and work in the valley which is no different than driving in town in places like Iowa City or Ankeny, Iowa. Yes, the freeways are a little different though especially during rush-hour. I’ll tell you what though, I’d rather drive in LA than Chicago because at least people here are lucky to be moving 10 miles an hour where in Chicago everyone’s flying down the interstate at 85 miles per hour. The biggest thing you have to pay attention for is people cutting you off and swerving in and out of lanes usually without using turn signals. Motorcycles are also terrifying because they can weave in and out of traffic going 60 miles an hour even if you’re stopped. If you stay alert and pay attention though, you’ll be fine! Just stay focused on your lane and the lanes next to you, be greedy when you need to be, don’t be a jerk, and take turns when you can!

 

There’s another key difference when driving in LA (typically the guys you’re with will notice it first). If you’re anything like my boyfriend, Dad, or Uncle the first thing you realize is that you’re always surrounded by fancy cars. The people here drive a lot of different cars than you might be used to. My dream Mercedes G-Wagons are everywhere, and Tesla’s might as well be the new Prius in LA County (even cars like a Rolls-Royce aren’t that uncommon). Make sure to keep your eyes on the road though so that you don’t accidently fender-bender a Lamborghini.

(And then there’s cars in Cali like these…good thing though, people would see me coming from a mile away.)

 

If you’ve ever lived in Iowa City, you know parking there sucks so naturally I was worried what it’d be like in LA but honestly, it’s not that bad in most neighborhoods. There’s a lot more street parking then you’d think (but you better be ready to parallel park), parking garages are actually pretty cheap especially with store validation, and you can valet at almost every restaurant for like $8-10 plus tip if you’re really in a hurry to meet someone.

Overall the rumors are pretty accurate. While living in LA without a car isn’t impossible, it certainly makes life more difficult if you’re living here long term or commuting to work every day. I’ll leave you with a few more tips to take into consideration if you’re planning to visit or make a move. Don’t pay attention to how many miles something is away. That number means nothing here and will actually make you more frustrated. When plugging an address or location into Google Maps just look at the time of how long it’s going to take you to get there. Next tip is to then plan accordingly. Always give yourself at least 15-30 minutes more than it says you need to get there whether you’re driving or ridesharing. Accidents do happen frequently which is usually why the freeways can get backed up at any time of the day. Most importantly just keep an open mind. Expect traffic so then when you hit a rare patch of no traffic it’ll feel like a winning situation. Last but not least, if you do find yourself getting behind the wheel use your GPS, stay focused, keep a spare phone charger in your car, and just go for it. If I can find my way around and maneuver the traffic being the most defensive Midwest driver there is, you’ll be fine!