This Right Now

Hello, friends!

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It’s been a hot minute.

Grad school is cray, but guess what?! I graduate in THREE months. I’m currently on a short (but much needed) break, and when I start back up it will be for my last semester. I’ll spare you the that-makes-me-a-little-weepy-because-I-love-my-cohort-SO-MUCH-and-what-the-heck-where-did -the-two-years-go, but really I won’t because there it is. HA.

What else?

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So far this year I’ve traveled to Seattle, Vancouver, DC, Maryland and Marfa, Texas. I somewhat unexpectedly fell in love with West Texas and am already trying to plan a trip back. Think the culture of Mexico/New Mexico but with the hippie/artsy vibes of Austin. I was instantly smitten. I’m lucky my little fam rolls with my whims and was down for a quick weekend trip and, you know, fifteen hours of driving in three days. They’re champs, my people.

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For our Capstone in this last semester, our cohort has been assigned the task of becoming consultants for a local Austin business of our choosing.  It’s quite the undertaking, and I am slightly terrified but mostly excited for how this program is helping to shape my future.

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It’s hard for me to not constantly be asking myself, “What’s next, what’s next, what’s next?!” This is a monumental point in my life, and I’m aware of that. But I’m also aware of the fact that I’ll never be twenty-eight again. My daughter will never be three again. She won’t sing herself to sleep or ask for my help finding snails for too much longer. My husband and I will only celebrate nine years of togetherness, just this one month of this one year. I’ll only be sitting in a classroom, laughing with my cohort fam and sometimes sneaking in boxed wine for one more summer. This is the last bit of time that I’ll take weekly walks through the gorgeous campus that has now become my second home. It’s a special time, this right now. I’m just trying to remind myself to slow down and cherish the heck out of it all.

Going Places

Hi, friends!

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You may have noticed I’ve made a couple of changes? After nearly eight years as christinadoesitall, I am now christinagoingplaces. Bittersweet. Bitter, because I’ve made so many happy memories and friends as christinadoesitall. Sweet, because I’m slowly finding my niche and place in this world. After years of dabbling in a little bit of everything and loving every moment of that, I am beginning to realize my passions. I’m both an MBA student and a girl who just really loves to explore the world. Education and travel are both so very valuable to me. So in more than one sense of the term, my goal is to be going places.

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So here I am! Doing things! Going places!

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Later this week I’ll be heading to Virginia and Maryland to visit my best friend of sixteen years. Because of Meg and her family, this part of the world has become much like a second home to me. I can’t wait to hug and laugh and dance and adventure with one of my favorite human beings.

When I return to Austin, it will be the beginning of crunch time. I graduate in five months, y’all! Part of me is so ready and the other part just wants time to slow down. The past year and seven months of grad school has been a blur of hard work and magic. I’m not ready for another semester of grueling coursework, but I’m not quite ready for it to all be over yet either.

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Speaking of not being quite ready for things. This month I turn twenty-eight. Like what? When? HOW?! I wonder where all the time has gone, but then I remember. It’s been spent doing really great things. Like building a home and a family with the dude I love the most. And getting lost in happy hours and good conversation and captivating reads. Chasing big dreams, and catching many of them. Trying new things and facing fears head on. (Unless this fear involves getting my blood drawn and then I will definitely turn my head away and also possibly pass out.) Driving through states and boarding lots and lots of airplanes. And learning. Always learning.

And all of that? It makes twenty-eight sound way less scary and much more like a wonderland of possibility. I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

Pst –

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By the way, I’m way blonde now! It feels fun and right.

Reviewing 2016

Two weeks into the new year and I still can’t quite believe 2016 is over.

What a whirlwind of 365 days, y’all. I originally spelled that whirlwine, so you all know what’s on my mind.

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I have to smile when I reflect on the adventuring and the milestones marked this last year.

I road-tripped Ireland with two of my cousins and kissed the Blarney Stone. We drove through rolling hillsides full of spotted cows, drank more than our fair share of Guinness in many a pub and stood at the edges of the Ciffs of Moher. We frolicked through the Hills of Tara, climbed on basalt columns at Giant’s Causeway and wobbled in awe down the crickety Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. The beauty and history of this country is something that I feel so lucky to have witnessed firsthand and with people that I love a lot.

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Months later, cousin Shannon and I were checking off another shared bucket list item by whitewater rafting in New Mexico. I almost fell out within the first five minutes and had to be yanked back onto the raft by my lower body. It was exhilarating.

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Summer road trips to Oklahoma and New Orleans left me feeling grateful for long drives, adventures and the loved ones that made these things all the more worthwhile.

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My husband and I spent an anniversary trip in the enchanting Caye Caulker, Belize. We snorkeled with stingrays and sharks and that was slightly scary but mostly delightful. We bought a brownie from a stranger and laughed the night away. I took a group yoga class on a Belizean rooftop, and clumsily moved my limbs as the sun set. We sipped on four for one drinks and devoured the freshest of lobster and rode bikes through sandy, narrow streets. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to celebrate seven years of marriage with my best friend.

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2016 marked my first completed year and halfway point of grad school. It marked a year of development within my career and the blogging world. And it marked my one year of attending counseling, which has proven to be a turning point for my personal growth.

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There were a few times this past year where I noticed history trying to repeat itself in detrimental ways. The difference this time was that I didn’t let it. Can I just tell you how empowering that is? I found my voice, and I learned when and how to use it. I learned how to stand my ground, and I realized that sometimes this can and should be done silently. It was a year that taught me to openly make mistakes, to firmly disagree with those I love and to proudly show off both my victories and my scars. I wasn’t always right, so it was also a year that taught me how to be wrong. It was a year that left me feeling strong, brave and inspired. 2016 wasn’t perfect, but it taught me to roll with and even to sometimes revel in the imperfections.

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It was a year of discovery, of both things big and small, gentle and wild.

Happy 2017, friends.

Let’s be unapologetically flawed and untamable this year, shall we?

Now

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It’s a Christmas party at my house, and my husband is putting our daughter to bed. Bryn, in typical Bryn fashion, has been chatting and hamming it up with everybody for the hour and a half prior. I’ve been told more than once this evening that she is definitely my kid. Now she requests that “everybody” come say goodnight to her. One by one my friends pile in, giving Bryn a hug and wishing her sweet dreams.

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It’s one of the many moments that fills my heart this evening.

Later, Lauren and I are speedily walking in place. She and I are in the same MBA cohort, so our shared competitive natures don’t come as a big surprise. A week prior to my party, we had been in a FitBit challenge together. I won by the hair of my chinny chin chin, and I had to log forty (40) miles in five days to do so. So here we are jogging on my floor as our husbands share stories about what it’s like to live with such intense humans. IT’S OBVIOUSLY SO MUCH FUN, by the way.

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And now here I am.

Another grueling semester of grad school down.

I have nearly a month of school freedom, which seems like the most luxurious of Christmas presents. I’ll be using said luxury to read all of the books, drink all of the wine and Netflix binge on all of the Parks and Rec.

Eight months from now, I’ll graduate with my Master’s in Business.

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There’s mixed feelings that come with that statement. They are mostly happy, but still bittersweet. My cohort, who made up a good amount of this Christmas party, has become a second family. Grad school is a crazy, chaotic ride and to be on that rollercoaster together makes for one hell of a bond. We’re around each other so often that we have grown way beyond the point of niceties. We laugh loudly and argue sarcastically and call each other out on our crap. We send cheesy, feel-good group messages and collaboratively complain about our shared woes and get into major FitBit wars. And all of that feels like home to me.

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The future is beckoning so sweetly right now. Upon graduation, I’ll have my master’s paired with over four years experience as a social media director. I’m mulling over the possibilities and I am uncertain but so giddy to see where this next part of my life is going to take me. As I ponder what’s next, the world is feeling a lot like my playground.

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But can I just tell you how much I am going to miss sneaking in an economy sized bottle of  wine and dancing on tables to end a semester? Or group study sessions that turn into late night guffawing and the telling of life stories? Or pre-class happy hours that lead to us rushing and laughing our way to class? Because, yeah. I’m going to miss all of those things a whole lot.

As excited as I am for the next season of my life, I’m not ready for it just yet. For the next eight months, you can find me savoring this place that I belong in right now. It’s a place with lots of dancing, plenty of happy hours, an obnoxious amount of laughter, a bit of competitive jogging and a whole bunch of love.

An Open Letter To My Future Teenage Daughter

This week I was running and listening to streaming music when Taylor Swift’s oldie but goodie “Mean” started playing. For the first time, I felt a wave of satisfaction as the lyrics ran through my head. Years ago it was a song that helped me get through some tough moments, but now it sounded more like a victory tune. There’s a line in the chorus that says,

Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean.”

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I remember hearing that song when I was nineteen and twenty and thinking, “Someday that will be me. Someday these things that so and so is saying won’t hurt me anymore.” It felt so good listening the other day and realizing, I am there. I am at that place now. Here I am at this point where I feel happy and confident and where I’m even making strides towards successful. The meanies of the universe can’t reach me anymore. But, as I realized this, I also realized that one day my daughter will be a teenager and a young twenty-something. That she will have to deal with the cruelties of the world and the bitter hearts of others and the doubt in herself that both of these things will bring. So I decided to write a letter to my future teenage Bryn. I also decided to share it here because, let’s be real, there’s no way I wouldn’t lose the paper version eleven + years from now. Internet, I’m trusting that you’ll stick around for my daughter’s teens.

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Hey Bryn-Bryn.

I’m sure you’re embarrassed by me at this point in your life, and you probably don’t want to be called Bryn-Bryn either. But I’m writing this when you’re two and a half, so get over it.

I love you and your red curls and your chunky legs and your beautiful, wild, untamable spirit more than anything. I love your big hugs and your toddler smell and even how you line baby dolls in your bed up in a row all creepy and Chucky-like. I wish that I could keep you from the bad things forever. But since I can’t, there are a few things that I really want you to try to take to heart, as best you can. I still have so much learning and growing to do myself, but here is what I know at the ripe old age of twenty-seven that I didn’t as a slightly younger soul.

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First of all, please be kind. There is enough hate in this world, and I want so much for you to be the anti-venom. Don’t call people names. Apologize when you’re wrong. Be open to what others are communicating, especially if they disagree with you. Love on your family, even when we drive you crazy. Give compliments out generously. Tell a cashier that you like their hair. And while we’re at it, because as you know, I do give strange compliments like that, please always embrace your awkwardness. Own it. Be weird and silly and laugh loudly and when you want to.

I need you to know that, like it or not, not everyone is going to like you. That people are going to dislike you for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. That sometimes someone will want so badly to make themselves the hero in their own story that they will turn you into their villain, even if you didn’t do anything to deserve this narrative. And sometimes, baby girl, people just aren’t nice. You have to know that these folks are fighting their own battles, and more often than not, you are only caught in their crossfire.

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Listen closely here, boo. You can’t and shouldn’t have to prove yourself to people who only want the abstract of who you are. The concrete version of you is flawed and scarred and imperfect, and this real person is so very beautiful, no matter who takes the time to see it.

And Bryn? You don’t ever have to retaliate in anger, or frustration, or sadness. It took me years to realize that one. Try your best to forgive and move on and to focus on you, not anyone else. Look towards your biggest goals and live your craziest dreams. I promise you, that is the only vindication you will ever need.

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Littlest love, this is important too. I don’t want you to ever let anyone put you into a box. Every now and again someone will try to tell you who you are and what you can and can’t be. They’ll try to say that there’s only one path to self-actualization, but please take note of the word “self” there. It’s up to you to find out what makes you, you. It’s up to you, not a stranger or an online opinion piece or your great Aunt Edna (to be clear, we don’t actually have an Aunt Edna. If we did, I’m sure she’d be lovely.) to learn and decide the paths that will bring you fulfillment and joy. It’s up to you to break down the walls that society has put up for you. It takes small minds to impose their barriers onto others, but you need to know that you are bigger and better than any cage anyone could ever try to squeeze you into. Please don’t ever let the world define you. You redefine the world, baby girl.

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I hate this one, but it’s inevitable that you will have your feelings hurt and your heart broken. I so badly wish that I could protect you from those things, but I can’t and I shouldn’t. You’ll be rejected. You’ll hurt others. You will have to let go of people who mean a lot to you, and though this is healthy, it can also be really, really hard. You are going to feel like you’ve made a mess of things sometimes, and you’ll probably wish for a take-back or two or ten. But I want you to make mistakes, because this is how you will grow. I want you to do things that scare you, because some of the most terrifying things in life can also end up being the most incredible ones.

Brynlee Mae, please don’t let these hurts and heartbreaks turn you cold. The world can be a mean place but it will surprise you with its goodness too. Always search for the good. Fight with everything you have to keep that joyous spirit and loving nature. Fight to keep the sparkle that dances in your blue eyes. Fight against becoming jaded, or pessimistic or unkind, and encourage others to do the same. Encourage others every chance you get. We could all use a little bit more of that.

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Finally, I need you to know that so often, more often than not, you will be your own worst enemy. That the voices in your head, you know, the cruelest ones that tell you the things that others probably think about you? That this will so often be only what you fear about yourself. So please, please, please take the time to be kind to yourself. To forgive yourself. To look at what you’ve done and to be proud. Women are so often told not to be proud. To be modest, and meek and to swat away compliments like flies. Lest we be considered full of ourselves. Boastful. Egotistical. Lest we be considered what men are applauded for being, every single day.

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But Bryn, I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to hide your shine just because the world isn’t ready for it. Shine, baby. Show them everything you’ve got. Be the hero that doesn’t need a villain, or a rescuer or the false reality created by unrealistic expectations. Be your own hero.

I promise you, that is a story that needs to be told and told again.

PS: By the time I give you this letter, I will also have a list of Taylor Swift songs ready to guide you through the trials, tribulations and dance parties of young adulthood. You’re welcome in advance.

PPS: Dad says you’re not allowed to like boys.

Soundtrack of Summer 2016

“The sun will steal the magic from us soon,

So let’s take one more trip around the moon.”

– Sam Hunt, Leave The Night On

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Oh, you guys. What a summer.

Last night I finished my last day of my first year of grad school. A year from today I’ll graduate with my MBA, and tomorrow I leave for New Mexico to go whitewater rafting. I’m a little bit high on life right now, and nostalgic with the memories from the past few months.

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It’s been a summer of travels and healthy overdoses of laughter. House parties and balconies and swimming pools. Road-trips and best friendship and fun strangers. Family and fireflies and anticipation. Long runs and late nights. Schoolwork and a classroom and making a family out of the people sitting in that classroom. And dancing. So much dancing.

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I remember my summers, and all of my other seasons, partly through the music I’ve listened to at the time. A tune so effortlessly takes me back to a moment, and bookmarks the feelings and essence of certain pieces of my life. Last summer was the summer of Sam Hunt, though if you can’t tell from the intro to this blog, his songs are making a comeback for this one too. Sam Hunt transposes all summers. Also if you don’t like him we can’t be friends anymore. I’m just kidding. Kind of. Friend two pictures above can’t stand him and I only judge her every single day.

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 So while I show y’all some pictures from the dreamiest of summertimes, I thought I’d also share with you the songs I’ve been listening to on constant repeat. This is what my summer sounded like.

Vandalizer- Sam Hunt

(Okay, but for real if you don’t like that song we can’t be friends.)

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Setting The World On Fire – Kenny Chesney featuring P!nk

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Latch- Disclosure featuring Sam Smith

Vacation- Thomas Rhett

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Home- Blue October

Vice – Miranda Lambert

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Luck- American Authors

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Snapback- Old Dominion

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Closer- The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

(Aka all I’ve listened to for the past two days)

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Hey. If you’ve been a part of my summer, thanks. You’ve helped make an unforgettable soundtrack.

Summertime and the Living Is…

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It’s summertime and the living is managerial accounting. And by that I mean, help me, I’m a grad student. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever taken summer classes, and I’m a little surprised by how much I’m not totally hating it.

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It does help that I get to spend every Tuesday evening with my cohort family, and that our nights are laced with laughter and a list of other shenanigans. Pictured above you can see my gifting British friend Sam his very first jalapeno popper. If you haven’t ever had a jalapeno popper, you should do so immediately. It’s a gutted and halved jalapeno, stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon. I wrap it with maple bacon because I enjoy the taste of happiness. If you can’t tell by co-bro Samuel’s face, he most definitely approved.

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In between classes and studying, I’ve been able to squeeze in a few summer adventures too. Road-tripping Ireland with my cousins wasn’t too shabby a start. From hiking the Austin 360 Bridge for the first time to spending a poolside and margarita Memorial Day with my fam, the past couple of weeks haven’t sucked either.

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As for work, this month I’ve had the chance to help give away a $33,000 check to Susan G. Komen and to produce and star as Justin Timberlake in a Can’t Stop The Feeling music video parody. Spoiler Alert: I am a terrible JT and can’t dance to save my life. But dude, this social media director had such a blast making a dancing fool of herself.

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It’s summertime and the living might not be easy. But it’s fulfilling, and fun and so full of love. Dare I say those things are much better than easy?