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What I’ve Been Loving Lately

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love to read posts about other people’s lifestyle! I love to read about their favorite products, their hobbies, their trips, their daily lives… Which is why I decided to write this post today! I have some requests for more lifestyle type posts, so I figured I would give it a shot! For this ‘What I’ve Been Lovely Lately’ post, I have chosen items (some are foods, some are social media influencers, some are books, etc…) that I have been using lately that I am obsessed with and included them in today’s post! Hopefully something in here sparks your interest or inspires you to go out and try something new, even if it isn’t on this list! If they don’t, that’s cool too, then I suppose you will just be getting a small peak into which products I’m enjoying right now!

 

KITCHEN ITEMS

  • Food Processor: This was a gift that I received for Christmas, and let me tell you–IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! With my food processor I have made so much cali-rice, so many fat-balls, and next on my list are both pesto and hummus!! If you are a foodie, unless you own a Vitamix, you need a food processor! I cannot believe I went so long without one… I have so many recipe ideas written down to make now that I have the right tool!
  • Swell Bottle: There are so many brands of water bottles out there these days, which is so great! Some brands are high-quality, and some just aren’t. Swell bottles are definitely worth the investment! If you fill your bottle with cold water, it’ll stay that same temp forever. The longest I have tested this statement was overnight mind you, but hopefully you’re drinking water often enough that you don’t need to test that theory any longer(;

 

BOOKS

  • You Are A Badass: Okay so this book changed my life. I am forever a different person because of it. Jen Sincero is so real and raw, and she is also a genius. Her writing is going to resonate with you, and when you finish the book you’re not only going to love who you are and believe that you are a bada**, but you’re going to know exactly how to live your dreams and manifest the exact life you want to live. Just read this book if you want to live your best life ever and want to know how freakin cool you are, okay?
  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Again, another life changer. My therapist recommended Brene Brown to me the first day we met, which was almost a year ago, and I finally picked up one of her books a few weeks ago…I now own almost every book she has written. Brene is so smart, so relatable, and so inspiring. Within this book she talks about imperfections (which we all have), shares with us the gifts that come from our imperfections, and explains how we can live our most authentic, wholehearted life from a place of worthiness. Again, another must-read. (Right now.)
  • Yoga Girl: This book is a few years old. The author, Rachel Brathen, has grown quite a bit and her life has transformed quite a lot since she wrote it. However, this book is still full of so many beautiful truths and you get an amazing picture of her history and how she got to where she is now. Plus there is so much in here about yoga, manifestation, and so much more. Even if you’re not interested in yoga, I suggest you give it a read anyways.
  • Food Freedom Forever: Before you think, “I have never had an issue with food, this book isn’t for me”, I think you should reconsider. Personally, I believe that everyone in our day-and-age should be at least somewhat aware about the concepts of dieting, disordered eating, eating disorders, healthy exercise, etc. We are living in a  diet-culture obsessed with physical appearances. The UNC School of Medicine conducted a survey on eating disorders and disordered eating and found that 3 OUT OF 4 woman have disordered eating habits, and that was in 2008!! These numbers have only been rising since then, so just keep in consideration that any thoughts, even the most innocent-meaning such as: ‘I’m going to skip lunch because I’m going out to eat tonight’ or ‘I would order that, but I bet there are so many calories in it’ or ‘I was so good for eating a salad which means I deserve a brownie’ are all disordered eating thoughts. Just keep that in mind.

 

YOUTUBERS

  • Kayln Nicholson: Kayln is so cute and is living such a dream life. She is Youtube famous, Instagram famous and has an amazing blog. She loves coffee, she is vegan, loves to read, adventures all of the time, she is a yogi, is always super stylish and redecorating her apartment, and she is so curious and is always exploring new ideas and paths of life. I cannot ever get enough of her amazing lifestyle content.
  • Sarah’s Day: Sarah is Australian and her accent is the best. She is a wellness and fitness Youtuber. Her vlogs are all about her life and that of her boyfriend, Kurt, with whom she is always adventuring the planet with, laughing next to, and living her dreams along with… (They will become your new #goals)
  • Cambria Joy: Cambria is a Christian Youtuber and she is so real. She isn’t afraid to talk about her life, struggles, highs-and-low… I love her vlogs! She is always with her new husband Bo and they are always together doing something fun or just living life. She always has encouraging Christian messages and will inspire you to always stay on your walk with God.

 

ACTIVITIES

  • Yoga: My new obsession. I wouldn’t call this an activity but a lifestyle. Yoga is to unite your body and your mind, something that you are to carry out in everyday living, not just on your mat. Yoga has been so grounding for me. It has allowing me to learn to love my body and myself; I have really been able to connect to my body and my true self. When you’re focusing on the connection to your breath and focusing on the world in the here and now, your perspective changes. I think yoga is for everyone. It will change your attitude, it can change how you live, it can strengthen your relationships (with God, with yourself, with others…), you’ll learn how to slow down and enjoy the little things…just try it and then you’ll see!
  • Meditation: One of my intentions for the year was to begin meditating everyday, and I have been able to about 50% of my mornings so far. The point isn’t the amount of times I have meditated, but the life-changing experience that it has been. Sitting in silence, connecting with your breath, and just being (sometimes with a focus or intention, sometimes not)… it is such an amazing way to start my day. It calms me, allows me to feel as though I am real and I am enough, and it is a powerful reminder to slow down and live in the moment because life is so fleeting! I usually take this time to send gratitude and be thankful for everything God has blessed me with.
  • Long Walks: This will always be a favorite activity of mine as you all know. I love walking! Especially as I continue in my recovery, walking is a staple way for me to move my body in a healthy way! Walks are so therapeutic. During my walks I love to enjoy my little dog’s cute-ness, listen to my favorite podcasts, and sometimes I just practice mindfulness. I love to walk in silence and connect with nature, enjoying what is happening in that exact moment.
  • Cooking: I have gone through slumps in the kitchen, but right now I am on fire! I have spend hours and hours in the kitchen the last few days! The other days I made a soup that I filled with carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, spices, onion, and this amazing grass-fed, organic stew meat from a local farm in Minnesota. I began with a recipe but then kinda just ran off on my own and it turned out soooo good! Along with that I finally baked salmon for the first time the other day (not sure why I haven’t ever before because I am obsessed with salmon…) and it is basically gone. I also love to do a lot of veggie-roasting while having dance parties.

 

MEALS/SNACKS/INGREDIENTS & COFFEE

  • Hot Cold Press: This is a Caribou Coffee beverage that I have been ordering on repeat. It is steamed cold-press (iced coffee). Iced-coffee, in my opinion, has a beautiful rich flavor that is always perfect and I love to order it steamed, making it a regular hot cup of coffee (but better).
  • Medium Roast with coconut milk: This is my go-to at home! I have been making this amazing medium-roast we have here, and then I add full-fat coconut milk… You can’t go wrong!
  • Salmon Bowls: My dinners lately have been my salmon (roasted in EVOO and salt and pepper), along with other veggies and side-dishes. Last night it was salmon, kale roasted in EVOO, plus cali-rice which I cooked in ghee and then cantalope on the side (my favorite!!).
  • Apples and tahini: Tahini is ground roasted sesame seeds. I tried this first in Chelsea Market in NYC, and I was obsessed… I have been downing a jar of it that I bought just days ago and I am not sorry. (I love to massage kale with tahini or dip fruit into it!)
  • Bone Broth: Another new staple of mine I tried first in NYC (I love you New York City) that I have been drinking everyday since. It is soooo good for you! Bone broth is amazing for your skin, for your gut, your joints, and so much more! Plus it tastes amazing, so a win-win in my opinion.
  • Ghee: I have been a ghee-lover forever, but I have recently been into it more than ever. Ghee is a clarified butter that has had the milk solids removed. It has an amazing flavor which most describe as ‘nutty’ and very buttery too. It is so nutritious with benefits for your your bones, digestion, inflammation…
  • Primal Foods Kitchen Mayo: This mayo is addicting! It is made from cage-free eggs, vinegar, avocado oil… It is a whipped mayo that is gluten and dairy-free (if that pertains to you) and it is an addition you should make to any meal!

 

PODCASTS

  • The Balanced Blonde (Soul on Fire): If you’re not familiar with Jordan, she is a lifestyle blogger who is all about yoga, wellness, self-care, holistic everything, travelling, crystals… Her episodes are SO inspiring because her mission is all about how she set her soul on fire and she interviews guests who have done the exact same for their lives.
  • Wellness Realness with Christiana Rice: Christina is so real, she says exactly what she feels about anything at anytime. She is so funny and her podcasts is so her. It is all about wellness, fitness, life as an entrepreneur, blogger and health coach.
  • The Chasing Joy Podcast: Definitely my all-time favorite ever. Gorgie is the cutest and sweetest person I think that exists. Her conversations are focused on wellness that will “…bring joy and energy into your life.” (Part of her intro.) She always has the most amazing guests on the podcast as well who are always so fun and intriguing!

 

Those are all of my favorite everythings right now! Let me know if you try anything out and how you like it! Also, message me if there are more categories you would like me to add such as Instagrammers, clothing brands, etc. I will definelty be doing more of these in the future, it was so fun to write about the things that are lighting up my life right now. I hope you can find some joy in some of these foods/hobbies/items as I have! Have a great day everyone!

The Science of Positivity

We have all had days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, right? You’re crabby and upset and there is no smiling in your future. What tends to happen when you feel that way? I don’t know how those days progress for you, but for myself they tend to look something like coffee on my shirt right away in the morning, forgetting where I set my phone for an hour, finding out that there was homework due that I left at home, and disagreements with my sister. Basically: when you are feeling crappy, then the world tends to be a crappy place.

 

What about the days when you wake up with a smile on your face and you just can’t seem to find anything wrong in the world? Typically I end up getting all my homework done with time to take a long, warm bath, I get some lunch dates planned with some friends, my new book gets read, I have time to apply for new scholarships, and I cook myself a bomb dinner. Do you see a pattern here?

 

Positivity. It is a science.

 

This whole idea is all based on The Law of Attraction which is basically the idea that whatever you choose to focus on is what you will attract into your lives. When you focus on positive thoughts, wake up with an optimistic attitude, believe that you can do anything, have the faith that God and the rest of the world has your back, your life is going to reap the benefits.

 

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” -Nikola Tesla

 

Basically the science behind this idea looks like this: do you remember when you learned as a child that everything is made up of atom, and that all of those atoms are vibrating at all times? Well, your science teacher was right (obviously), but the cool part is that everything is vibrating at  different frequencies. As a human being, you can make the decision: am I going to vibrate at a high frequency (aka vibrate with positivity) or am I going to vibrate at a low frequency (aka act negatively and pessimistically)? Everyday you get the choice as to the vibrations that you are going to radiate, and whatever you choose to project is what you will receive.

 

You the have ability to use the power of positivity to design your life.

 

So now that you know the reasoning behind why I believe positivity is so important and powerful, what can you use it for? And how can you use it?

 

I think that the what is pretty obvious: By vibrating at a high frequency you can attract anything else that is vibrating at that same frequency. Like attracts like. So what is is that you want in life? Simply just a more happy and optimistic life? A new job? To find new friends? A path to becoming a rock’n’roll guitar player? The ability to meet Beyonce? To get in shape? To grow the relationship you have with your best friend or boyfriend? The opportunity to travel the world? You can have that, but you have to want it. Which is where the how comes in.

 

There are many elements that you need to pay attention to when it comes to the art of mastering positivity and using it to transform your life! Below I made a list (not exhausted) of some of the major tips that I have that help me in learning how to vibrate at a high frequency:

 

  • Self-Love: Love yourself, always. You are beautiful, worthy, and amazing, and you deserve to know that. Not only that, but what is this all for if you don’t absolutely love yourself 1000000%? Seriously, you are the best you there is, so act like it. If you don’t believe that you deserve the best life ever, there is no way you can live it.
  • Affirmations: These are personalized ‘quotes’ or ‘sayings’ if you will. You can create and customize these to whatever it is your goals are, and then they become almost like the theme song to your life. Repeat them when you wake up, every time you look in the mirror, when you have snacks, basically all the time! An example might be: ‘I am beautiful, I am strong, I am worthy.’ Or ‘I can do anything that I put my mind to.’ Or ‘I am already the best at (insert your dream here) and just need to practice my skills.’ This may seem cheesy, but what you say becomes what you believe and what is true.
  • Creating a Dream Board: A dream board for your bedroom, the lockscreen on your phone, a list that you carry around in your purse… Have your dreams and goals in plain, visible sight and somewhere where you will see them ALL THE TIME. Nothing will push you to work harder more than literally having your goals right in front of your eyes.
  • Taking Action: Of course there is a time and place to just step back and surrender to life (more on another post to come!), but many times, you need to work for it. You need to be willing to study for your test, or work for the money you need, etc in conjuction with changing your attitude and belifs.
  • Paying attention to who you spend time with: Seriously. You can’t expect to hang out with negative people and not absorb that energy. The type of people you hang out with is the type of attitude that you are going to be surrounded by and therefore the type of attitude that you will start to function with. Having friends who always complain about school, work, their lack of energy… You need to find people who work hard and lift you up, the type of people that push you to live your best life. When you find those people, you will watch your attitude and views transform.
  • Paying attention to what you are consuming: Again, just like the people you’re surrounded with, if you’re consuming things from social media, from print, or other information sources, you need to know that they will influence you. With the internet just seconds away from our fingers, you need a filter and to be careful about what you’re consuming. If you follow people who are negative or make you feel bad about yourself, unfollow them. If the sources you spend time on bring you down, are full of gossip, have false information, then get rid of them. You don’t owe those people anything, you need to take care of yourself first.
  • Trust and believe that you’re after is already yours: If you want something to come to you, you have to believe that you can have it. You can do whatever it is that you want, but if you don’t think you’re worthy or that you deserve it, you won’t be able to obtain it. What you think is what will become your reality. If you believe it is yours, you will have an open path to receive.
  • Pray: Of course, talk to God and ask him for what it is you’re looking for. Ask him for help in changing your attitude or help obtaining your dream. Remember however, that you have to take action yourself too. He isn’t going to just hand you your dream life.

 

Whatever you believe is what will be. You have the power to believe that this life is beautiful and full of the opportunities & tools you need to live your best life. Now you have a choice to make.

 

Just keep in mind that life is a journey, and so is everything within your journey. Learning to change your perspective and belief system won’t be easy but I can promise it will be more worth it than you might imagine. I still have days where I have to fight myself to smile or to be open to new ideas. Just do the absolute best you can to radiate the highest vibes that you can muster and slowly it will become easier and it will become your life.

Food Freedom

Food Freedom. What is it? What does it look like? And why am I talking about it? Well, food freedom is a way of approaching how you look at food. It is a way of eating that I have been practicing for quite awhile now, and it has made me happier than ever before! Let me share with you why I now, and forever will, stand for food freedom.

 

As you all know by now, I have been through a lot with food. My eating disorder encompassed restriction, cutting out foods, trying different diets, etc. So I can assure you, because I have experienced it first-hand, that diets, controlling your food, eliminating certain foods, or anything else to this extent won’t solve your issues or make you happy and they definitely don’t make you ‘trendy like the girls on Instagram’. Food rules only causes problems, stress, and so much more.

 

We live in a world that is heavily rooted in diet culture, there is no questioning that. No matter where you are, if food is involved, so are diets. For those of you who aren’t familiar, diet culture looks a little something like this:

 

“I can’t eat that, there are too many carbs.”

“I’m on a diet, I can only eat X amount of calories.”

“Donuts are bad. Salad is good.”

“I’m on a sugar detox.”

“I have to run X amount of miles if I want to have cake tonight.”

“Sorry I am gluten/dairy/sugar/soy-free (without an allergy or a legitimate reason to eat so).”

 

These are just a few examples, but this type of thinking and talk is all around us. So many of our friends and family are falling prey to this type of lifestyle that they believe will solve all of their issues or make them ‘healthy’. People think that food is the root of their issues. That if they control their eating, all will be well. Well let me tell you: DIETS DON’T WORK. Diets lead to depression, to anger, to deprivation, to the feeling that we are failures, to the idea that we are less than. You should know right now that when it comes to food, you cannot ‘fail’. When there are no rules, or no restrictions, there cannot be a right and wrong. It is only when you’re on a diet that the diet can (and always will) fail you.

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This is where food freedom comes in. Food freedom is not a diet, there are no guidelines, there are no numbers involved, there is no restriction or no labels. You’re 100% completely to eat whatever you want. It’s all about following your intuition. Food freedom, to me, means that I allow myself to eat whatever it is that my body/cravings wants with no restrictions. There is no such thing as ‘too much fat’ or ‘I don’t deserve it’ anymore. Nope, I am free with food.

 

Allowing myself to be free with food has allowed me to be free in life. How many amazing memories do you have ordering pizza at midnight with your bestie? Or going out for cocoa with your mom? These happy, joy-filled memories are just as important to our health as eating veggies or fruits are. When you have food rules, you miss out on these kind of opportunities in life. Do you really want to hand over the power to take away some of the most precious joys in life to a food rule that ells you that cake is something to fear? Or allow an online Pinterest ‘fitness coach’ tell you that you can only have two hard boiled eggs for breakfast? Not only is that completely wrong and unhealthy (the exact opposite of wellness), it just isn’t worth ruining your happiness for either. Not to mention, why would you want to pass up the food itself? Have you ever had homemade gelato or eaten a chocolate chip pancake straight from the griddle with warm syrup? Egg whites and rice cakes will never compare.

 

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A common fear with food freedom is: If I am allowed to eat WHATEVER I want, won’t I only eat pizza and brownies? What about my health/nutrition? The thing about being free with food is that there are no restrictions… You have full permission to eat whatever you want! If I am always allowed to have a cookie whenever, why would I eat twenty a day? Or if you were to eat pizza every night for a whole month, it wouldn’t be as good as when you order it only when the cravings hit or when it sounds good. Eating ‘junk’ foods for every meal every single day wouldn’t make most people feel great, so you most-likely won’t want to do it all the time. When you have the ability to honor your cravings at any point, most of the time you’re going to find yourself eating more nutritious meals! I don’t know about you, but I love to feel energized and to make sure that I am offering my body plenty of fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, etc. That is why I love to eat the foods that energize me, offer my body nutrients, and keep me feeling great because that is when I function best! I love to eat real and whole foods a good percentage of the time because they make me feel amazing and I know that my body loves it. When you’re free with food, your body learns to find its own balance and will learn to love (most) all foods!

 

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As you all know, I do believe that everyone is a completely unique and different in their own ways. So I do believe that there are definitely some exceptions to eating absolutely anything. For some people certain foods cause digestive issues, they cause allergy symptoms, may cause skin rashes, etc. If you think that it may be a food causing an issue that you’re experiencing, I would always suggest you go see a doctor! Self-diagnosing is becoming such a common action among our generation, but it shouldn’t be. There is nothing that is ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’ about cutting out foods for no reason. Gluten, sugar, and other foods groups get so much grief in our society for no reason. There is nothing wrong with these foods… they are not evil nor will they hurt you! They are to be enjoyed! They are foods that offer us energy just as anything else! I am also understanding of people who abstain from animal products for ethical reasons as well! And then of course, maybe you just don’t care for a certain food. I have the cutest little niece in the world who I have only watched eat about two desserts in her ten years of life (I know, crazy that girl is!), but it is just her personal preference. When it comes to leaving foods out of your diet, it’s my belief that you shouldn’t restrict yourself of anything unless you have a legitimate reason. There are no ‘bad’ foods, and there are no foods that should be feared, so there is no reason to cut anything out!

 

Food freedom is the ability to eat for mental health and for physical health and even for emotional health. Food freedom is giving yourself permission to eat pasta and salad, chocolate and vegetables, desserts and fruits, peanut butter and Nutella, mochas and herbal teas… you get the pictures. You can have carbs, fat, proteins, sugar… You can have it all! You let your body guide you because everything is healthy in moderation. Don’t live your life allowing foods or rules around them dictate you. Food is not bad, it’s the fear of food that is bad.

 

So where am I going with this all? I just wanted to share with you this amazing philosophy that allows you to be completely free with, and enjoy all foods, no matter what society says. I am so excited that I have begun my journey on the path of food freedom and I hope that you will all consider it as well! Life is so short, it is such a blessing, and food is a big part of our lives! Food brings happiness, it brings community, and well… it tastes good! We all deserve to enjoy all aspects of food in a healthy way!

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One final thought to consider: When you begin to ‘take control’ of food by going on diets or by restricting, what happens? You will become preoccupied with the thoughts of the foods that are now off limits to you because it is human nature to want what we can’t have. So you tell me: Are you really the one ‘taking control’, or is it your food that is taking control of you? Food only has as much power as we allow it to. So let’s take back power over our lives and quit allowing diet culture to rule us.

(I inserted some photos of some recent eats of mine: Donuts and salads… this is true freedom!)

Learning to Embrace Who I Am

It is no secret that everyone out there has some insecurities. Many times, we allow these insecurities to become our downfall. Most people, myself included, are always fixated on our insecurities, such as our weight, our obsessions, our love for a certain band, etc. because we are afraid that if we show others these unique pieces of ourselves to the world they will keep us from being accepted. We don’t think that we can be loved for our whole selves, so we dim the parts of us that are different to try and trick others into thinking that we are just like them. We hide the light within us, the light that sets us apart from one another.

 

I, myself, have allowed my body to be my insecurity in the past. Healing my relationship with my body has been quite a journey. As I have been recovering, my appearance has been changing. At first, these changes were more scary than I thought I could handle. I was afraid of what people would think, I was afraid that if I gained weight that I would no longer have friends, I was afraid that my life was going to fall apart. I thought it was my body that was bringing me happiness and a wonderful life. I thought that being small meant I would always be accepted. The truth, is exactly the latter. Allowing my body shape to be my source of happiness, and believing that it was why I was doing well in life, was a complete lie. In fact, fixating on trying to ‘fit-in’ and ‘be cool’ and be just like everyone else, despite the way you go about it, will only bring you misery. When you hid your true self, you are slowly ruining yourself. When I was at my smallest, I was also at my lowest point in life. I had lost many friends, relationships and many joys in life. Here I am today, working on rejecting the belief that it is my body that allows me to be worthy of happiness, and let me tell you something: I have never been happier, healthier, more full of life and energy in a long time. And the part about fitting in? I have restored more relationships than ever. By no longer fixating on what I thought would help me ‘fit-in’ and instead just focusing on who I truly am, I have found real joy.

 

According to Brene Brown, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are…”. Practicing authenticity is how I have been healing my relationship with myself and learning to love who I truly am, and I believe that everyone needs to live out this word as well. This issue goes a lot deeper than you may think. It manifests in people in all sorts of ways. I used to be very insecure about my love for vegetables, about my interest in reading, about my sometimes strange sense of humor, my infatuation with learning, and I know that I do not stand alone in all of this. This is not just a personal struggle, this is an epidemic.

 

Beginning to practice living authentically, and embracing myself, instead of shutting myself off, has been a life-changer. I have been challenging my belief that I need to change my body and hide my identity because I am afraid that I may not be accepted. What is the point of trying to ‘fit-in’ and ‘be cool’ if it means risking your unique qualities? I do not know about you, but suppressing my gifts and talents, my personality, my quirkiness, and all the little unique parts about Serena just isn’t worth it for the sake of being accepted. I have come to the realization that I am worthy just as I am. The best part of this is that it didn’t just become true, it always has been true and always will be, despite what I or what anyone else thinks. I have been focusing on my personality, on my relationships, on my hobbies, on my love for animals, my enjoyment of baking, on reading new books, on eating food that I love, on working out to feel great, and so much more. I am focusing on all the pieces of myself that make up my whole, because that is who Serena is. I am embracing myself. I am living authentically. I am healing the years of damage that hiding these pieces of myself caused. I will no longer be ashamed of my true self, instead, I will love every part of me. It would be such a shame if we continued to hide our beautiful personalities out of fear. Thinking about how much more lively, exciting and interesting this world would be if each and every one of us let our lights shine freely with no judgment, no shame and no hatred, that world would be absolutely beautiful. So stop hiding yourself, no more being ashamed, it is time that you embrace who you are and love yourself to the fullest.

 

I hope you all enjoyed this insight and take it into consideration! I just wanted to let you guys know that big changes are finally happening! I have been updating this blog and working on it’s new focus! I will soon have a schedule for posts to be published on and have a specific type of post coming out on certain days! It is all going to be amazing and I truly hope you all enjoy it! Until next time!

My Goals for 2018

Going into a new year, I don’t like to sets resolutions where I plan to totally ‘change my life’ or implement a new habit that ‘I plan to accomplish everyday no matter what because it will change my life forever’. Using that type of thinking tends to set people up for failure because, as humans, we can’t always be perfect and live up to these amazing expectations 24/7. So as I go into this new year, I created a list of goals that I would like to refer to as this year progresses. It is a list of intentions I have, ones that I hope to accomplish, but nothing that I would ever force myself into, or punish myself for if I weren’t able accomplish one, or many. These are all practices that I believe will allow me to live my happiest and healthiest year in 2018, which is why I chose what I did! However, if I find that there is something that isn’t working for me, or that I just can’t find time for, I won’t be upset! That’s the beauty of intuitive living: I get to listen to my body and my mind and decide what is serving me and what is becoming a burden! If needed, I can cut-back, or totally cut out, one or more of these goals, or I can continue them and possibly implement more if I find another habit that I believe might benefit my life! There is no comparison here, I am just listening to my body and paying attention to myself and my feelings, and I am happier than ever! I encourage you all to end the game of comparison, and instead, find what works best for you… Yay for listening to our intuition!

Below is a list of all of my goals for 2018. If one or more of them sound like they may benefit you this year, I encourage you to look into them! However, I am sure that not all of these will resonate with you, and that’s okay! We are all different from our neighbors and our bodies work completely different. Typically when I decide I want to try something new, I like do some kind of research beforehand to make sure that the goal is truly a healthy one, one that has positive outcomes, and one that I believe will benefit me in the end. So if any of my goals, or anyone else’s, sounds intriguing, I think you should consider trying them, but only if they will be a healthy addition to your life!

I would like to also encourage you all to think about writing down a few goals for yourself to refer to this year! Whether they are ideas you get from someone else, or a list of goals you create, I truly believe a new year is a great time to try new practices. You’re not committing to these goals, there is no tie to them, if they aren’t for you, then you can let them go at any time! But, if you find that they are improving your life, making your daily life more exciting, that is just a plus!

 

My Goals for 2018:

 

  • Drink more water

I am working on waking up and immediately drinking about two to four cups of water before any coffee or eating breakfast. Then I continue to drink water regularly throughout the day, for a total of about ten glasses of water by then end of the night. Hydrating right away in the day is so great for your body, and I always feel 100% better everyday that I do!

  • Read a chapter of a book everyday

Reading has always brought me so much joy in life! However, unless I make time for it, it seems that I never pick up a book because I always am able to find something else to do instead! That is why I’ve begun to include reading a chapter of a book into my morning routine everyday to make sure that I get the chance to do what I love!

  • Sleep More

I am really working on getting more sleep at night by listening to my body and going to bed whenever my energy is beginning to drain. Somedays that means I am in bed by 9pm, and other nights that may be 11pm. Whenever I try to fight my body and its needs, bad things happen, and so that is why I am done fighting! I notice that I am so much happier and feel better when I sleep according to what my body is in need of.

 

  • Continue working to rid myself of the diet mentality and eat intuitively

As you all know, I have been working at food freedom for SO long now! I am happy to say that I think my battle is on its last leg! I am working through a few more bumps in the road, but I have come so far and I truly think I am almost done with this fight. I plan, of course, to do another update soon, but I am working my butt off to become an intuitive eater and listen to my body! Along with that I am working so hard to rid myself of the diet mentality and fight diet culture daily, because we all know that this society is full of it!

 

  • Live a balanced life

I am working to balance my eating, my exercise, how I spend my time…etc. It is perfectly perfect (and healthy) to have cookies for breakfast and then eat a salad for lunch. It is also totally healthy to go for a run one day and then not exercise at all the next if your body needs a rest, or if you simply don’t want to! In all aspects of life, balance is key. Life isn’t constant, nor is it black and white…life is all over the place. That is why you just need to learn to listen to your body and respond to whatever you need in your current situation in life.

 

  • Become a vegetarian

This goal is one that I have already basically implemented, but I am very lenient with it and I would like to make it more of a ‘solid’ thing. REMEMBER: This doesn’t work for many, nor do many agree with it, and that is totally okay! This is just a goal of mine that I believe will benefit me, that doesn’t mean that it would benefit you! I absolutely love animals, and I have noticed that when I eat more plants and less meat, I feel so much better both physically and mentally! I gave this a shot before, but for the wrong reasons. Now I plan to go vegetarian again, but this time, it’s for my health, for the environment, and for the animals! (For anyone who is more curious, some specific benefits include: reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cataract development, obesity, strokes, kidney stones, high cholesterol, and more. This diet can also be shown to reduce global warming, the amount of harmful greenhouse gases in our world, the amount of methane, the rate of pollution, land destruction, wildlife destruction, the use of water, the use of chemicals, growth hormones, etc… There are many more, but I don’t want to push this very controversial topic on anybody! However, I get many questions on this topic so I figured I would put all that in here to educate anyone interested!)

 

  • Move more mindfully; specifically through walking and yoga

These past few years, I have put my body through a lot! I have exercised very vigorously, sometimes weeks on end without giving it a break, which is why I am trying to incorporate movement that feels good and will still allow my body the movement it deserves. I love moving, but in ways that aren’t strenuous. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy running and lifting, but I will be working on balancing the amount of that kind of exercise that I do with more mindful exercising!

  • Live mindfully

(Or practice being mindful daily!) This can be done many ways! For example: focusing on your breathing for a few minutes, paying attention to your feelings is a huge one, staying off of your phone for a day, focusing on one task at a time, and many other ways. I don’t know about you, but I have gone through so much of my life without truly living it! In our world today, it is so easy to miss out of life! People are always on their phones, multitasking, pushing away their true emotions…what happened to eating your dinner with your family at the table? Or having a lazy day? Or enjoying the people around you rather than the friends on Snapchat? I do believe there is a time and a place for everything, but I know in my own life I have strayed from my belief of living in the moment, and I plan to get back to that.

 

  • Meditate daily

This is basically something that I am putting in place to help me become more mindful! Taking a few minutes a day to breathe, to think, to use the app Headspace or Calm for a real meditation session, etc. can be so beneficial! When I start my day of with ten or so quiet minutes, I am such a better person! I am able to connect with my feelings, to slow down and relax, I feel better and more grounded… I can’t recommend that you try this one enough!

 

  • Spend more time in the kitchen

I love to experiment in the kitchen! It is so much fun to cook for your family or to bake treats for a friend! Trying new recipes is always such an adventure! Being in the kitchen can also be such a stress reliever for me! I am learning to love food, and it makes it so much more personal when the food that you are eating is some that you made yourself!

 

  • Continue to grow spiritually

As you all know, I am a Christian who believes in Jesus! However, when people seem to think of religion, immediately rules come to mind…and it can be a turn off. In reality, religion, for me at least, is a relationship, not a rulebook. It isn’t about rights and wrongs, but about growing with God, my creator. Having a relationship with him gives me purpose, it gives me a place to turn intimes of sorrow, or in times of happiness, it gives my life meaning, and it allows me to continually thank Jesus for what I know he did for me on the cross.

 

  • Spend a lot of time with my family

As I get older, I continue to realize that family is all you really have. I have been through a lot already in my lifetime, and through it all, I have always had my family to turn to. Friends come and go, life changes, jobs are off and on at times, relationships are tough… but my family, especially my sisters, are my best friends! I know that anything could happen to me, and no matter what, they will always open their arms, turn on their coffee pots, and welcome me despite everything else.

 

  • Work on my blog

This blog of mine has truly become a strong passion. I love to write, and more than anything, I love to help other people. Having the ability to use my writing to help others has been a dream. To accompany that, I love to just write for fun and enjoyment as well! I have SO MANY IDEAS for this blog and the directions I’d like to take it! I just haven’t had much time to sit down and work on it because I have been so busy, especially now that college has begun again. However, I do plan to dedicate time on my blog the next free weekend I have! I also know that after I graduate from high school this spring, that this summer my blog is going to fly! I am so excited to continue on my journey with writing, and I am even more excited to take you all with me!

 

So those are my goals for this year! Some of them are more specific than others, some are daily, where some are more in their own time…they all differ in their own ways! These habits are ones that I have put thought into, and that I am excited about because I believe that they will benefit my life and turn 2018 into a year better than I could ever imagine! Once again, I am going to leave you all with the challenge to find some goals for yourself! Making a list such as this can truly change the way you live! It is so easy to just keep on following your normal daily routine and never challenge or push yourself! Even if you attempt to implement one new practice in your life, it could really be much more of a blessing than you might realize! With that, I wish you all the best possible year!

Food Adventures in NYC

Happy 2018 friends! I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends, or maybe by yourself if that is your style! My next post, I am guessing, will be a list of my goals for this upcoming year. I’d like to give you all an idea for what I hope to accomplish and to inspire you all to set some goals for yourself as well, or maybe to give you some ideas for things to add to your already-in-existance list! For today, however, I am sharing my ever-awaited post that details all of my favorite meals and treats from my trip to New York City in December! I so enjoyed eating and writing about all of these different foods, drinks, and sweets and I sure hope that you are able to enjoy reading about them and admiring their alluring profiles!

I also wanted to give you guys a little heads-up that there will (hopefully pretty soon) be some changes coming to my blog! As time goes on, like anything, I am growing and changing, and so I am planning to do the same with this site! I want to organize it more and also find a more defined focus for the type of posts that I am writing! I am also hoping to start writing a few different types of posts as well… We’ll see what I decide!

For now, without anymore waiting, here are all of my favorite food adventures from my trip to New York City!

 

 

Bluestone Lane

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Bluestone is the cutest cafe there ever was! They have many locations throughout NYC, and I have made it to three! I ordered the ‘Sweet Potato Toast’ every time I was there in December, I couldn’t get enough of it. The first time I ordered it I added seasoned avocado and the second time I ordered it with a poached egg on top. The flavor of the toast is so unique! The sweet potato spread has such a sweet, but not sugary, flavor that so smoothly complements the thick toast.

 

Hu Kitchen

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“Get Back to Human” is at the core of Hu Kitchen and that is why I love this place! They have a LONG list of the types of foods they use and how they prepare their food. Amongst that list are 100% grass-fed, pastured beef, organic eggs and poultry, wild-caught fish, they cook using minimal grains, and they make everything from scratch. They have a very long list of things that they don’t use in their kitchen such as preservatives, soy, gluten, GMO corn, etc. When I was there I ordered the meatloaf, root vegetable mash, and a grilled kale salad. I haven’t had red meat for years, but because I knew that the meat I was eating was humane and safe of antibiotics and other chemicals, I went for it. My whole plate was amazing! I especially enjoyed the vegetable mash which had a nice sweet flavor to it from some squash and sweet potato! I bought some of their house-made chocolate as well that only had four ingredients, and it was the BEST chocolate I’ve ever eaten!

 

The Butcher’s Daughter

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This vegetarian cafe has a very edgy style that I resonate with. Their service isn’t the best, but the food is seriously amazing! Their avocado toast had a very different flavor profile to it. The avocado was mixed with lime, cilantro, and some other spices and then was topped with mustard seeds. Not to mention small bits of onions sat between the bread and the avocado spread that made for a more complex taste with every bite. I really enjoyed it! It was definitely a bit different, and I am not sure that I would choose it over a more traditional avocado spread, but it was still really good!

 

La Colombe

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I made quite a few stops amongst all their different locations in the city for coffee at La Colombe. No matter which cafe I went to, they had baristas that knew what they were doing! They nailed not only the traditional drinks but also had some amazing specials. My favorite was their on-tap ‘Draft Latte’. You know how you go to a bar and they serve beer that is right behind the counter on-tap? Well La Colombe has an on-tap latte just like that that is to die for! The latte can be ordered plain or mixed with their on-tap iced coffee. I tried it both ways but definitely enjoyed the plain latte most. The latte was light, fluffy and had a chocolatey taste that resembled a milkshake!

 

Springbone Kitchen

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Another ‘real-food’ restaurant that killed the game. They specialize in bone broth for the health benefits that it offers! Bone broth is know for the collagen, gelatin, amino acids glycine, proline, glucosamine, etc. that it contains. I ordered the ‘Liquid Gold’ bone broth that is made with classic chicken broth, organic coconut milk and turmeric. It tasted as though I was drinking the broth of chicken noodle soup, and because it was a very cold day, it was a perfect drink that made my insides feel as though they were 100% protected from any possible chance of the flu. I then ordered the ‘Spaghetti’ and Meatballs’ for my meal which were zoodles with grain-free 100% grass-fed meatballs, tomato sauce and organic parmesan. To finish the meal I ordered the carrot fries which were better than any sweet potato fries I have ever had. I would come back here for lunch everyday if I could. They took some of my favorite comfort foods and turned them very nutritious in a delicious way!

 

Dominique Ansel Bakery

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This was one of my ‘must stops’ for ‘fun’ foods. This bakery is known for Ansel’s ‘Cronut’ which is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut. Every month the bakery has a featured flavor, and for December they were baking eggnog-flavored Cronuts. It was extremely flaky, coated in sugar and cinnamon and had a luscious layer of caramel-flavored cream in the center of the pastry. It was a little bit over-sold, in my opinion, but I would still go again given the chance! However, if I were craving one, I would personally rather just have a croissant or a plain doughnut!

 

Irvington Coffee Roasters

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My family and I made many stops here the first time we came to NYC, and I did the same my second time to the city. They have the smoothest oat-milk making for the best cappuccinos and lattes that are have a very deep flavor to them!

 

Coco and Cru

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An Australian inspired cafe with a diverse menu. I went for dinner and it was a very classy little place with candles and flowers on every table. I ordered the ‘Green Bowl’ that came with broccoli, spinach, kale pesto, ancient grains, avocado, poached eggs and I added mushrooms. Nourish bowls like this are my FAVORITE. I love when there are so many different elements to my meal because I love to mix’n’match flavors, combinations, textures, temperatures, etc.

 

Two Hands

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As I mentioned in my first post, I love this cafe! The style here really resonates with me. The waiters and waitresses all have a cute ‘hipster’ vibe and the place itself is very minimalistic with lights and some other small elements. Their scrambled eggs are THE BEST I’ve ever had! I am not usually a fan of scrambled eggs, I tent to opt for poached, but these eggs were so fluffy and smooth! I couldn’t get enough of them!

 

The Chillhouse

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Again, I talked a lot about this place in my last post, but I just wanted to mention it again! I ordered their ‘Glow Me Out’ latte. You wouldn’t expect a coconut latte with elements like ube and goji to be as amazing as it was, I expected it to be too much, but all the ingredients complement each other very well!

 

The Broken Coconut

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This small cafe/restaurant place was one of my favorites. The employees here were a bit rude, but the food made up for it! I ordered the sweet potato fries and they went well with the ‘Vegan Delight’ bowl that I ordered. The bowl came with japanese eggplant, whipped purple yam, crunchy chickpeas, sauteed pea shoots, pickled daikon and I added some shrimp! The flavors in this bowl were INSANE. I am not sure what sauce they used to saute the shrimp with, although it was a bit salty, it complimented all the vegetables perfectly, giving them a bit more flavor.

 

Seed and Mill

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This small stand in The Chelsea Market offer ice cream of only one flavor that it extremely unique thanks to the goat milk and sesame tahini that it is made with. I had it topped with halva, which is a crumbly cake-like substance made of tahini and sugar that just melts in your mouth, freshly milled tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds (so it is just like sesame butter) , and it was all scooped into a handmade pumpkin-spice cone! I don’t quite know what to say except ice cream will never be the same.

 

De Maria

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A hip cafe with an inspiring atmosphere that I have read lots about, so of course I had to! I went for breakfast and ordered some banana bread that was amazing! The bread was extremely flavorful, full of chunks of banana, coconut, ginger and the edges were packed with flax and other seeds that added a crunch factor! Then came ‘The Tiger Bowl’ which I had seen all over Instagram. The bowl came with coconut grains, house-cured salmon, avocado, black sesame, hijiki, leche de tigre and I added a turmeric poached egg. Can I just ask: Where the heck have coconut gains been my entire life??? I seriously have been craving them since I have gotten home and need to make them very soon!

 

Levain Bakery

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Levain is my favorite place for cookies in this entire world. I have had four cookies from this bakery and would probably have one daily given the chance. The cookies there are SO THICK! They are not only extremely thick, but they are so soft and chewy (my favorite type of cookie), and they have so much flavorite. I have gotten the dark chocolate cookie with peanut-butter chips everytime, and the chocolate is so rich and pairs perfectly with the peanut-butter. It is a literal dream.

 

Dig Inn

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Eating here was one of my favorite meals because I got to meet Sam for the first time! We came here because it is a chain, making it faster, that serves food from locally-farmed partners. All of their food is seasonal, is very healthy, and most of what you get there are vegetables! I think that eating veggies can be really boring sometimes, but if you know how to cook them, with the right methods, seasonings, sauces, and pair them right, they can be so tasteful and versatile! I got sweet potatoes, sauteed apples, maple cauliflower, a kale base with mint and had some salmon on top! This place could seriously turn anyone vegan if you’re interested in that, it was to die for!

 

Banter

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This cafe made for my last breakfast! I ordered the ‘Golden Folded Eggs’. The meal was huge! It was a bowl full of peas, a greens salad, smashed avocado, fresh chili, it came with prosciutto which I subbed for mushrooms and I added sourdough toast! It made for a perfect meal to mix’n’match flavors and such again! The eggs resembled the eggs I ate at Two Hands and tasted even better mixed with all the veggies in my bowl.

 

DO

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I wasn’t actually planning to come here because I was told the lines are insane, but when I stumbled across it at 9:30 am and it was empty, I had to make this epic foodie stop. (I guess most people don’t start their day off with cookie dough? Weird.) I sampled four different doughs, and all were so delightful. Just being here made me feel like a kid! I settled with the ‘Confetti’ flavor which was so yummy! I got the smallest size, and it was so perfect for a taste of the dough without having a sugar crash.

 

SweetGreen

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I have eaten at SweetGreen more times than I could count! It is a salad and nourish bowl chain that serves healthy, seasonal and local ingredients. I always go for the ‘Build Your Own’ option so I can’t really recommend too much! I always try new combinations! Although, I can say that I get the sweet potatoes every time because they are very soft and flavorful!

 

Citizens of Chelsea

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If you are into avocado toast at all, I am sure you have seen photos of the epic avocado toast dish that is served up at this cafe. I have only seen photos in my Instagram feed about a million times, so it made it to the top of my list for ‘musts’. They mix the avocado with citrus, cilantro and feta which is spread onto sourdough. The toast is decorated with beet hummus, pumpkin seeds, pickled onions, watermelon radish and then I added a poached egg, of course! The many elements came together to make a classic toast dish! I found that the citrus added a sweet effect to the toast and then was balanced by the veggies and feta to give it that savory side as well!

 

The City Bakery

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That liquid dripping from my spoon is solely the hot chocolate, not at all the marshmallow.

Alright, so this was one of the most memorable places that I have ever been for a beverage. In fact, it is the most memorable ever! The strange part is that it wasn’t for coffee, but for hot chocolate! I ordered their classic hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow. The hot chocolate was SO RICH that it filled me up like I had just eaten a full meal, but in the best way possible. I swear that the drink was pure chocolate because when I took a scoop in my spoon and then let some drip off, it was so thick, and I truly couldn’t believe my eyes! The marshmallow on the other hand, was so light and fluffy! This drink was truly its own experience that changed me. I don’t think that I will ever be able to drink hot chocolate again until I go back, it was that good.

 

By Chloe

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So I am completely obsessed with By Chloe. This is a fast-food chain that serves healthy food that is 100% vegan. Every location does lunch and dinner foods and some also offer breakfast and desserts. I stopped twice during my trip, and both times I ordered their sweet potato fries (I know, I am pretty predictable). The fries here are always half crispy and half soft so you get the best of both worlds, and dipped in the beet ketchup, they are addicting. Like you think that ketchup is good? Wait until you try CHloe’s ketchup, and not to mention it is made of veggies. Then I ordered their ‘Whiskey BBQ’ sandwich both times. The sammy contained smoky portobello mushrooms and seitan, onion marmalade, grilled pineapple, sauteed kale, bourbon bbq sauce which was all placed on a potato bun. I have also had ‘The Guac Burger’ and it is so crazy eating here, you would never guess the food is vegan, but it is, and it is so freaking good!!

 

These were just some of the highlights of my meals while in NYC! Of course I ate at many other places, but I wanted to share my favorites! I cannot wait until I am living in New York and can make posts like this all the time for you all! I am finding how beautiful a concept food is and all of the life and joy that surrounds it! I absolutely love to step out of the box and try new places and foods, but I clearly also have my favorites that I love to order everywhere I go as well! I hope you enjoyed reading about some of these healthy food cafes and fun, crazy food spots as well! Until next time!

My Second Trip to NYC

Hello, friends! My life has been pretty busy lately and there hasn’t been much time for me to just sit down and write! I haven’t forgotten about this blog that I love so much, I just have had to prioritize some things, and living life is always at the top of my list! As far as living life goes, as many of you know, I have been to New york City and back since the last time I wrote! I also attended a Christmas concert, celebrated some family birthdays, have been facing new challenges with food, and of course the Christmas celebrations. Life will be slow here for the next week or so and I am hoping to get caught up in updating my blog with lifestyle posts, some food posts, and others in between!

My next few posts, however, will most-likely be focused on my New York City trip! I had a genius idea, given to me by an older sister, to write about my trip in three posts. I am going to split them between the events of my trip (this post), all the yummy food adventures, and lastly all of my thoughts and lessons that I learned from the trip! It’ll allow me to go in-depth, and give you all some really great insights into life in New York City! So I am going to dedicate this first post to how I spent my nine days in New York City:

Day 1 (November 29th)

I began my first morning, as I wrote in my last post, at around 3am when I got ready to leave for the airport. My dad dropped me off at the airport by 8am where I got myself checked-in and through security, and then had a nice breakfast and grabbed Starbucks (which I am slowly becoming obsessed with).

Fast-forward through a quick flight and let’s get to the fun part: New York City. I arrived, got my bags, and found an Uber. My driver was a New Yorker who was originally from China. He told me all about the ‘greasy New-York pizza’ and how I needed to ‘stay away from the grease’ and ‘give my body the healthy foods’. It was an interesting, but very enjoyable, conversation.

I got to The King’s College and was brought to Hanover Square, the apartment building that I would be staying at for the majority of my trip. (The building was a block from Wall Street, I might add!) I was brought to an apartment that belonged to Hope, Annie, Jillian, and McKenna, (students of The King’s College) who weren’t there at the time, so I settled in and went out to walk around the neighborhood. I got some coffee and scoped the area until I went back and got to meet the girls I was staying with. They were all so warm and welcoming, and they made me feel right at home! I spent quite a bit of time talking to them and asking them every possible question that I could ask about King’s and life in the big city!

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That evening I had plans to meet with a girl named Julia, another student at King’s, to go and watch The Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting! After meeting her, we hopped on the subway, and talked all the way there! It was our first time chatting in person, and she was such a sweetheart! We made it to the tree lighting soon after and found our way toward The Rockefeller Center.

We walked around the area, taking in all of the gorgeous Christmas decorations that left me in awe. I knew that New York would be magical during Christmas, and it was exactly that and then some! As we walked towards the area of the tree, the crowds were blocks long in every direction, allowing us to only get close enough to watch the lighting from a TV screen set-up for people who were blocks away (like us)! After the countdown and the lighting, we made our way back to the college and went our separate ways as we both had busy days ahead of us!

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Day 2 (November 30th)

Thursday was the day of my scholarship competition. I spent the morning taking things easy and doing more exploring. I went back to the apartment early enough to have extra time to get ready and make it to the college lobby by 2:00.

When I made it to the lobby, I walked in and there were already many other people there. I got checked in, and began to introduce myself to others. I met a good heap of people, all very nice, and eventually, someone announced we were about to leave for The Oculus.

We began our competition in The Oculus with a scavenger hunt. The hunt was a half hour search. All of us competitors were split into teams and had an extra adult tag along in our groups to take notes on our abilities to work together, take leadership, problem-solve, etc. It was a fun activity that allowed me to become familiar with my team members who were all amazing people! After it was over, we walked back to the college and had just a small window to get ready to present our speeches.

I was in a room with three judges, a recorder, and seven other speakers. I was second in line to give my speech for the competition. When I got up there, I presented the speech I had been working on for months as best as I could. I was a bit disappointed in myself when I finished because I had two pauses in my presentation where I lost my train of thought, which caused my to cut out some points that I wish would’ve made it, but I believe that God gave me the words that were most important and needed to be said.

That night the girls I was staying with invited me to ‘Refuge’. From what I was told, it is a student-lead worship service that happens once a week. We walked from the apartment to the college and made our way to the room that was set-up very cozy. There were chairs positioned around instruments in the middle where the worship band (composed of students) would play, there was a fireplace projected onto the wall to give it a warm feeling, and a table full of Christmas cookies, warm beverages, and other treats that everyone loaded up on before we sat down.

The worship, which was Christmas-themed, was so powerful. It was so beautiful to see all those college students attend that hour-long get-together and sing to God while bonding with others and eating yummy treats! I enjoyed that time of song and then made it back to apartment for another early night to get ready for my next day.

Day 3 (December 1st)

Today was the day of the student visit weekend for The King’s College. I got to take a tour of the gorgeous, unique school to begin! The King’s College is inside of an office building. You walk into the lobby on the ground floor where there are many offices and study areas apart of the college. The classrooms, other study areas, the tech lab, library, and everything else that you might find in a college are on two other floors of the building that belong to the college. The rest of the floors in the building belong to other businesses. King’s has no cafeteria on any of their floors. You are expected to cook for yourself, and everyone apartment has a kitchen for that reason! The apartments, which we toured as well, are not dorms, but actual apartment buildings where you and your roommates are living amongst other real New-Yorkers, not just college students. The college is so different from your typical college, and I love it so much!

Some other cool aspects of King’s are the dress code, which is business casual, and their internship opportunities, which are absolutely amazing. The college is very geared towards getting students ready to enter the work force. It is also a school that is meant for hard workers and dreamers. Students that don’t work hard, or don’t have drive and motivation, couldn’t ever make it at King’s. The college is absolutely a perfect place for a girl like me!

That day I also got to sit in on a class, attend some student and teacher panels, take a short break where I went to Chinatown with Jillian and McKenna, and enjoyed lots of time with other potential students. I also got to meet Sophia, my admissions counselor at King’s, the lady who made all the arrangements for my stay at the college, making my trip possible. We had a few phone meetings before my trip, but meeting her in person was a dream! She is so friendly, joyful, and is so caring. She truly cares for me as ‘Serena’, and wanted to talk not only about King’s, but also about life!

To end the day, we got to go and see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! I am going to be honest, I was very tired, and didn’t quite understand what was going on for the most part, however, the acting, costumes, and especially the music were amazing! I couldn’t believe how beautiful and well-executed everything was! I would go back just to see the costumes and hear the songs again despite having no clue what the play was about!

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Day 4 (December 2nd)

I woke up Saturday morning and had plans to go and get brunch with McKenna at Citizens of Chelsea. We both got ready and made it to the cafe where we started off with coffee. I talked with her for close to two hours! I had such an amazing time! Mckenna and I chatted about life in New York City, what The King’s College is like, and then we got into our personal lives and just got to know each other better! It was so great to get to know her more because she has such a sweet soul!

After a very meaningful chat, she headed back to her apartment while I went off to do some exploring. I ended up beginning my adventures at The New York Public Library where I walked through and got to enjoy the miles of books that lined the walls. I then made my way to The Bryant Park Holiday Market. It was the first holiday market I’d ever been to, and it was the most magical experience! It was like a festival with all types of stands that sold trinkets, hot cocoa, clothing, books, every food imaginable, and more! The whole area was decorated and it felt like you had walked into a Christmas department store.

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I walked around for a bit, purchased some cute items, and then I went skating. I got onto the ice pretty quickly, in fact, most things went very fast because I was only one person and never had to wait for anyone else to do anything. It was quite a freeing experience! As skated around the rink, I peacefully enjoyed the activity as well as enjoying the people-watching that I was doing. Seeing people skate, shop, eat, and just have fun with their friends, family, significant others, all smiling and so happy, excited me. It is so amazing to watch others enjoy themselves so much and live their lives in such a positive way.

 

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The rest of my day was pretty random. I went and had a lunch at the Whole Foods across the street with giant windows overlooking the park where I was able to watch thousands of people doing every imaginable thing. There were folks in the park, skating in the rink, walking around the streets, biking, sightseeing, and just living. I walked to a coffee shop close by to enjoy a warm latte afterwards, and then continued on my way, and by way I mean I aimlessly wandered through the streets of New York just going with the flow of the crowd.

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These are what the store windows look like when you’re shopping in Midtown on 5th Ave.

The crowd ended up leading me blocks down the road to a giant shopping area where I got to go into Macy’s largest department store! It was absolutely so big that I got a little lost for a while, but eventually navigated my way out. After I got out of there I shopped the rest of the night in other stores in the area. I went into a lot of my favorite places like H&M and Urban Outfitters and then other stores that I wasn’t so familiar with.

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I ended my night by hopping onto the subway and then hopped off at Union Square for dinner. I ended up, first, heading over to The City Bakery where I had the world’s BEST hot chocolate, topped with a homemade marshmallow. (More to come about the cocoa in my food post.) Then I walked to By Chloe, an all vegan fast-food chain, and had dinner there. To finish the night, I made my way back to Hanover, food baby in my belly, and enjoyed another great night of sleep in my beautiful New-York apartment.

Day 5 (December 3rd)

On Sunday morning I woke up early to get out the door in time for church. I had a quick breakfast and then made my way to Grand Central Station. I had it in my head that church was at 10:30 am, so I decided to get an oat-milk latte at Irvington Coffee Roasters in The Grand Central food court, thinking I had time. Right after getting my drink, I began walking around the shops in the station, only to get a text from Julia, who I was meeting for church that morning, that church was at 10 am. I received her text at 9:52 am, and I was exactly one mile away from The Hillsong Church, but I was determined.

So there I went, the girl who had wet hair, coffee in one hand, GPS in the other, wearing boots with a heel, and was running in her giant winter coat to make it to church on time. By the time I got there my hair was dry, my clothes were sweaty, my coffee was gone, my feet were aching, and my phone battery was drained, but it was 10:02 am, and I was in line to go through security to get into the church.

Once inside, I met Julia and her friend Briana, and we got seated. The worship had already started, so we jumped right in. It was so powerful, every song was being sung right from my heart to the Lord, and it was amazing. The message that followed was also very informative and interesting. The Hillsong service was quite an experience that I won’t forget! Being apart of a service with hundreds of others who were there to serve the same God, it was something unlike any other service I’ve been apart of.

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After the service ended, I had a whole day to myself, in the most magical city on the planet, to do whatever I wanted with. So I decided to go to The Rockefeller Center area to enjoy all the beautiful Christmas lights that I missed the first night I was there. I went and enjoyed the Rockefeller tree and watched people skate in the famous Rockefeller skating rink (the one that you see in most of the holiday movies filmed in NYC).

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After grabbing a treat from The Magnolia Bakery, I headed to Times Square just for a short bit to enjoy all the life and the lights. I walked around and took in all of the craziness that is experienced there and then went into one of the may Starbucks that is in that area and enjoyed a latte. I sat there for some time to just relax and plan out my next moves using my large list that I had put together before my trip. It was full of places, activities, restaurants, etc. to check out and eat at while I was in New York. So I browsed my list and checked off all of the places I had hit and made an itinerary for the rest of my time in the city.

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That afternoon I decided that I was feeling extremely ‘Christmassy’ again, so I took the subway to The Union Square Holiday Market. I walked around and took in all of the holiday spirit for the afternoon. Halfway through my walk through the market Lizzy called me and we talked for an hour or so all about both of our lives since we’d last seen each other. It was so good to hear her voice because I love my sister, and not seeing her for days was causing me to experience sister withdrawals.

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I had started in the market and then veered off in all kinds of directions around the park where I shopped in all kinds of cute stores and boutiques. I gave both of my parents calls and talked to them as well, and again, it was such a great sound to hear both of their voices.

After miles of walking for my feet, and miles of talking for my mouth, I headed to Hu Kitchen and had dinner. I camped there for a while sending photos to some of my sisters and friends from my trip, texting people about the competition that I participated in on Friday, and just hoped that any one of the many Instagram bloggers that I am obsessed with, who live in the NYC, and love Hu, would walk in and give me an opportunity to meet one of them. (Sadly, that never happened.)

Day 6 (December 4th)

Again, another early day, one that I was so excited for because I planned to go and get avocado toast from The Butcher’s Daughter. It was some of the best avocado toast that I have ever seen photographed on Instagram, and it did not disappoint. I had such a relaxing morning at the cafe where I enjoyed the sun and I ate my toast next to another woman who was reading the paper while eating pancakes. We chatted a bit, and it was so lovely. I find it so amazing when two (or more) people who don’t know each other can talk and enjoy the company that the other brings. We all have so much to share, whole lives that we’ve lived through, and amazing personalities to communicate them with, so why wouldn’t you want to take the time to get to know as many others as you can?

I left after enjoying my breakfast and walked to New York University, where I arrived quite early, so I detoured into La Colombe to get their on-tap Draft Latte. When I finished, I made a short walk to The Welcome Center at New York University. I was signed up to take an informational tour that morning and was one of the first to show-up that.

The tour began with an informational meeting and then ended with a walk around the Greenwich Village area where the housing, classes, and buildings of the school were scattered. The college, and all the opportunities available there, were so impressive, and excited me like crazy! After I finished the tour, I had to call my dad to tell him all about it! There was some much to say, and even more anxiety I needed to express because I was scared about what this meant. If I loved The King’s College, and I loved New York University, what would I do? Which college would I choose? (I am the most indecisive person there ever was, so this was quite a large issue that felt very consuming.) After talking about it, I put the thought on the back-burner because I knew that I didn’t need to decide that moment, or that day, or even that month, and I went to go and get some lunch, followed by a walk through the park.

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Washington Square Park is such a beautiful park that is always so calm, yet lively, and has such a beautiful view and peaceful atmosphere. I chilled on one of the benches for a while and took in the scenery. I enjoyed watching little kids run around, teenagers skate-board, a band perform for spare change, a man play music on the grand piano near the arch, dogs play with their toys, and much more. Eventually I left the park and walked around the Greenwich Village area for a few hours. I then made my way to Soho and shopped the many stores that fill that neighborhood. When I finally needed a break, I settled in at Irvington Coffee Roasters coffee shop an ordered an oat-milk latte. It was a peaceful afternoon that I spent reading a book that I brought followed by a mile walk to my dinner destination and then back to the college.

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These are photos from Soho

Day 7 (December 5th)

I had an alarm set to get up early on Tuesday because I had a few appointments that day. I got up, got ready, and headed towards Little Italy for breakfast. I made my way to Two Hands and enjoyed a slow and relaxing breakfast. The cafe is kind of small, but the aesthetic is so completely on point, and all the waiters are so fashion forward with amazing accents… I was such a perfect atmosphere for a slow breakfast.

I got going after my coffee cup was empty and walked towards Essex Street for my manicure at The Chillhouse. I had heard about The Chillhouse from quite a few wellness Instagrammers, and I made sure to schedule my appointment weeks before my trip. The Chillhouse is a wellness cafe in the front and a salon in the back. The front is very relaxed with seating and natural lighting. There is a counter where you can order wellness drinks such as the “Chill Me Out” latte which is made with ube, ginger, goji, acai, rehmannia, and mesquite. They also have treats that are mostly vegan and other staple drinks like matchas and turmeric lattes. In the back is where they do manicures and massages of all sorts. It was truly the most unique location I’ve ever visited.

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I got a three-tiered gel manicure, which left me feeling so pampered. I had a manicurist who was very sweet and talked the entire time about life with me. She told me about her son and how she likes to use herbal remedies with plants she grows in her home and I talked about my future college and life plans.

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After I got some nice photos of my nails, because you know I had to, I rushed off to Noho to catch the SoulCycle class that I signed up for. I got there, got ready, and was situated in plenty of time. The class itself was intense and left me feeling an amazing high. The instructor was so passionate and truly made you feel that all that mattered was what was happening right there. She pushed me to the absolute edge. I walked out of the studio dripping sweat, a little weak (because it was my first exercise session in over a week), and wanting more. I made my way to the locker room and showered to get ready to have lunch where I went right across the street to The Broken Coconut and had one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.

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I met McKenna soon after at a coffee shop where we talked for about two hours. The more I talked with her, the closer we became! It was fun chatting because we share so many similar qualities. Not only that but I asked many more questions about King’s and the answers continued to reassure me that that college is where I belong. She then told me more about herself, and we shared more stories, and eventually she had to get going to met a friend for dinner, so I headed over to The Chelsea Market in The Meatpacking District.

I got to the market and spent the rest of my night wandering around. I had some amazing goat-milk and sesame soft-serve after some amazing soup. I shopped, almost buying a hat that said “Avocado Toast” on it, but refrained when I saw the price tag (I am not going to lie, I regret not buying it). I enjoyed myself for a few hours and got going a little later than I had hoped. I had planned to leave in time to beat the rain that was coming, but the market doesn’t really have windows, so it is easy to lose track of time in there if you aren’t watching a clock. When I stepped outside, it was down-pouring! I made my way back to Brooklyn, where my new apartment was located, and arrived soaking-wet. (I switched between three apartments during my trip to stay with different students and to experience new areas.)

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Day 8 (December 6th)

This was my last full day, and again, it was a bit busy! I woke up and headed to Little Italy for another amazing breakfast at De Maria where I got The Tiger Bowl and some banana bread. When I finished, I hopped right back onto the subway for Central Park. After I arrived, I started at Columbus Circle and visited the Central Park Holiday Market. It was the third holiday market I went to. They were all similar, but still very unique in their own ways, and all extremely festive! Eventually with some hot cocoa in my hand, I ventured out into the park, stuck in my headphones, hit play on Taylor Swift’s new album, and walked through the park for nearly two hours.

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Central Park is by far one of my favorite places in this world. It is full of wildlife, nature, and diversity, in the midst of a huge city. It is truly a magical place. I can’t quite explain the feeling that you get inside yourself when you’re there, it is something you have to experience on your own, but it is amazing. I could have kept walking through the park for years, but I decided I needed a cookie after a bit, so I went on a cookie hunt.

It took me half-an-hour to walk to Levain Bakery, but if you’re a foodie, you’d know that Levain is where you can get the best cookies in the whole city, so the walk was worth it. I bought two cookies last time I was there, and I bought two again this time around as well. The cookies…words cannot describe! I slowly savored the amazing flavor and doughiness and chocolateness that the cookies are embodied with.

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My plan was to leave all my food pictures for the next post, but I had to throw this one in here… I mean just look at that cookie!

As I sat in the bakery, I came up with a game plan for the next few hours in my head. I was in need of lunch, and wanted to get By Chloe again. There was a By Chloe two miles away located right by The Radio City Music Hall where the Rockettes would perform at 1pm. I had been wanting to see The Rockettes, so I decided that is what I would go and experience next. It was 11:40 am, so I was in quite the time-crunch, and didn’t actually have tickets for the performance yet, but I was determined. (Again, this was something that never could have happened with more than one or two people, but as an individual, I knew myself and knew I’d be able to make it in time and get a good seat. It would be tough, but I knew I could do it. I loved that freedom).

So with two miles to walk through one of the busiest areas of the city, I got going soon after being in cookie heaven. It took lots of arm-pumping, weaving through folks, running to make it across streets before lights changed, car-dodging, and GPSing down millions of weird streets, but I made it to By Chloe by 12:15. I walked in and there was a massively long line that extended all the way to the door that was what seemed like a mile from the counter. However, I was there, and wanted my vegan burger and sweet potato fries with beet ketchup one more time before I left the city, so I got in line.

My food made it out extremely fast, (they must always be that busy and have a good system) and I was chowing down by 12:30. As I was eating, I purchased the most last-minute tickets anyone could possibly buy for the Rockettes show, which was just a few blocks away.

I made it to Radio City just in time and enjoyed the show, although I personally wouldn’t go again. The Rockettes were fun to watch, but there were many other elements of the show that bored me a bit. I am glad that I was able to experience it though! After the show I went back to the Soho area to shop for the afternoon. After getting a few items I had been eyeing up for the majority of my trip, I walked towards Dig Inn. Dig Inn was the restaurant where I was going to be meeting up with my friend Sam to have dinner and finally meet for the first time! We had been Instagram friends for so long, meeting through our food accounts, and then began talking more personally a while after. We had gotten pretty close, so I was so excited to finally meet her!

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She arrived and it was so strange to see someone in person whom you’ve only ever seen photos of and chatted with via text and Instagram. Sam was so pretty and just as sweet as I knew she would be! We ordered our food, took pictures of it (of course), and then talked for quite some time! We chatted about all sorts of things… it was just so surreal to meet her! Sam lives in Staten Island, and eventually she needed to catch the bus, and I had a baking class to attend, so we had to say goodbye after our short, but amazing, time together.

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After saying goodbye I adventured to where I would be taking a baking class taught by Rachel Mansfield! For anyone who isn’t familiar, she is a recipe developer and a wellness blogger. She has a very large following and is known around the country for her website and her brand! I got there very early and got to meet her and some of the others that run Wellness Meet Up (the brand hosting the event) along with many who were there to take the class.

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The class itself was very fun and informative, although, I was allergic to half the ingredients we were using, because they were almond based, so I didn’t get to participate much. However, I did get to meet a ton of foodies and girls living wellness-based lives (like I am) which was quite a blessing! I left with a heavy bag full of free products and a phone full of foodie photos and made my way to Brooklyn late that night to get to sleep for tomorrow.

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Day 9 (December 7th)

My flight was a late one, not departing until 4:30 pm, so I woke up and went to have a nice breakfast one last time. I enjoyed myself at Banter and then headed out in search of a shop that was selling bags. I knew after the baking class, and all my shopping, that my suitcase was far over 50 pounds, and I’d be needing to check in another bag.

Eventually I found one, along with DO, where, yes, I did eat cookie dough at 9:30 in the morning. My philosophy is that when you’re in New York City, you need to eat at every possible chance! (And I definitely did that.) After, I headed back to my apartment with my new bag so that I could begin the packing process, which if you know me, was pretty easy because I am a neat freak and my suitcase was already almost ready to go as it was. However, I needed to do rearranging of weights to make sure all of my bags were under the 50 pound limit.

I got everything situated with enough time to adventure a bit more. I had about two hours, and I decided to stay in Brooklyn for that time to explore. Manhattan is only one of five boroughs that make up New York City, Brooklyn being another. After beginning my walk I began to feel regret that I hadn’t spent more time in that area. The houses were gorgeous, the streets were silent, all the people you saw were real residents, not tourists, so they were very chill and sweet. Brooklyn was more of a residential area, not so much a sightseeing area. I walked by many homes, schools, and some cafes. I knew that next time I was in New York, I would need to spend more time in this borough!

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As I was wrapping up the last of my time in the city, I began walking towards Bluestone Lane for some coffee and a light lunch. On the way I stumbled upon the Brooklyn Bridge, which I didn’t realize was so close to the apartment! I had to get a photo (being one of the most Instagrammed spots ever, I couldn’t pass it up) and I enjoyed the gorgeous area for a bit. I walked by the filming of two different movies where I was shushed, despite not making any noises, and eventually got to the coffee shop.

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I ordered, and then sat down and waited for my coffee and toast. While I waited I heard someone begin ordering. I knew her voice immediately as Shailene Woodley. When I was younger I was obsessed with fictional books, such as Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, and had seen their movies a thousand times each. She was the actresses who portrayed the lead character in both movies. After she ordered, she went to a table, and I was so excited that I got up and went over to her. I basically told her how much I loved her work and she thanked me, said some words that I don’t remember because I was in shock (I had never met an extremely famous person before, especially not randomly), and then she hugged me! I sat down, enjoyed my food, and walked back to the apartment with a cheesy grin on my face!

Then the rest of my day was pretty boring. I called an Uber, got to the airport, and you know the drill. I arrived in Minnesota at 7pm that night, and continued my adventures from there!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip! As I mentioned earlier, I plan to do shorter posts of the food and the ‘lessons learned’ aspects of my trip next! This trip was the best nine days of my life, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. A few weeks after returning home I made the decision to secure my place in next year’s class at The King’s College by making a payment for early action decision enrollment. I talked with Sophia about finances and it is now official: I will be attending The King’s College beginning in the fall of 2018 for journalism! I am more excited than I have ever been about anything and I am looking forward to begin that chapter of my life (after I finish this one of course)! More posts to come, and until then, happy last week of 2017!