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.

Hashtag Goals

So I have this resolution for 2017 to blog once weekly, and I’m already like CHRISTINA. What were you thinking?! seattle5

I’m in the process of writing three papers for grad school. I’m also writing a blog for a company I’d freelanced for before grad school, and was¬†recently asked to freelance for again. I obliged, because I’m insane. Did I mention I also have a full-time job and a toddler? Manic laughter goes here.

But anyway, here I am blogging. Mostly to say HI, GUYS I’M SO BUSY HELP and to get my once a week blogging goal in.

I hope to soon find the time to blog about my Seattle and Vancouver trip. I was so smitten with both of these places, you guys.

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For now, here’s a picture of me and two sweet strangers I found at the¬†Trump Tower in Vancouver. It felt so wonderful to leave the country and to still feel such solidarity¬†with other likeminded ladies.¬†Though I have no problem asserting my opinions in person, I purposely¬†avoid talking politics on any form of social media. Part of this is because I don’t feel like getting into online¬†debacles with my¬†mostly conservative family. Another part is due to the blatant hypocrisy¬†and belief perseverance that I so clearly see on both sides,¬†and especially online.¬†But what is¬†the¬†saying¬†about a picture being worth a thousand words? That.

Damn. It’s 12:10 and officially Monday. Can I get an A for effort on this trying to blog weekly stuff?

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.

Notes on Whitewater Rafting, Grad School and Being Alive

I’m currently in the process of enjoying a week off from grad school, and I am reveling in the freedom of it all.

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I just got back from¬†a trip to New Mexico to¬†check off whitewater rafting from my¬†bucket list.¬†It was an incredible¬†trip. The exhilaration of rafting aside, there was also gorgeous wineries and breathtaking sunsets and enjoying mountain views paired with breakfast¬†from the balcony of our AirBnB. I¬†also devoured¬†arguably the best burger of my life, which was found at a tiny¬†BBQ shack off the highway in Embudo, New Mexico. As¬†a PSA, it’s called Sugar’s BBQ and Burgers and the Sugar Burger will change your life. Road-tripping¬†New Mexico¬†is always¬†nothing short of astounding; Doing so with one of my favorite bucket list buddies made¬†the Land of Enchantment all the¬†more enchanting.

In the past 365 days, Shannon and I have shared some pretty sweet experiences.¬†We’ve¬†planted kisses on¬†the Blarney Stone in Ireland, road-tripped from Ohio to Canada and¬†now whitewater rafted in New Mexico. Shoutout to Shan for holding my knees as the rest of my body flew out of said raft within the first five minutes of¬†our excursion.¬†We hadn’t even hit a rapid yet. I’m just that good at life. Our¬†guide then reinstructed my group on the importance of using our listening ears. I can’t remember if he actually used the term “listening ears”, but I do remember feeling like a disobedient kindergartner. When he said “lean in” for the rest of the trip,¬†I was the best leaner-inner EVER.

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This entire summer has been such an adventure, and I am still basking in the wonder of it all. I’ve barely had a moment to collect my thoughts before turning in another assignment or taking off to another destination.

And now? For the next seven days?  I can read whatever books I want to! I can go out late and not worry about homework the next day! I can Netflix binge! I can give my little fam all of the extra cuddles! Never have I enjoyed the luxury of spare time as much as I have within these short breaks of my MBA program.

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This last semester was the most challenging semester I’ve yet to experience. Two weeks ago,¬†I was writing an 8 page paper for one class¬†while researching¬†business acquisitions for the longest, most in-depth presentation of my life for another.¬†This¬†presentation had me feeling completely out of my element. One night I had a nightmare about having to perform a piano recital in front of an audience, though I haven’t any clue how to play piano. I¬†woke up with the knowledge that the dream stemmed from feeling overwhelmed with a topic that, up until this semester, had been completely foreign to me. I was¬†slightly¬†terrified as my group got up to present last Tuesday. But we did it, and we must have done it well. Our professor, not one to hand out easy A’s, gave us a 100. A 100!¬†In the¬†past few months, I have learned so much and have developed a deeply rooted confidence in myself that I’ve never known before.¬†It feels unbreakable. I feel unbreakable.¬†It was the most challenging semester, but it was also hands down the most rewarding.

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The same professor mentioned above attached a small note to one of my grades. In the required journal articles for Organizational Change, I had tied in my years of being homeschooled to my transformational leadership story. Her comment made my day.

“I would have never guessed you had been kept out of the mainstream. You are remarkable.”

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Remarkable. I smile typing it out. What a word. What a compliment.

What a summer.

What a time to be alive.

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?

When Life Sparkles

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“I had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you.”

Long Live, T-Swift (Duh)

This is a season of my life that is sparkling in its goodness.

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I’ve just¬†finished my second semester of grad school. I survived with the help of my cohort,¬†otherwise known¬†as my academic support system, partners in MBA crime and the best of drinking buddies.¬†I started this program with the main goal of furthering my education, but in the process I’ve gained a second family.¬†Graduation is a year from this August, and I know¬†most of us¬†will¬†be¬†a messy mixture¬†of emotions¬†when that time comes. It will be the most bittersweet of days.

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With an entire week of freedom before summer classes start again, this is when I greedily binge on books, family moments and Netflix. I’m in the process of watching Mad Men for the first time and everyone¬†can find me crying in a corner when I finish season 7. But I digress. This has also been a week for reflection, and I’m reflecting on the pure magic that has been the month of April.

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Out of town best friends have visited, and the laughter and long talks are still lingering in my mind. There was one evening spent in a hotel room that quickly led to the kind of laughter that makes tears form and stomachs hurt. I’m so grateful to have people in my life that induce the happiest of crying and belly aches.

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We also celebrated Bryn’s second birthday earlier this month. My talented, practicing¬†photographer grandma¬†snapped some family pictures pre-party. (I think I just made a tongue twister.)

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I’m still constantly amazed by this little person that¬†my favorite guy and I created together.¬†Bryn is sassy and goofy and wildly¬†independent and even more extroverted than I am. She’s¬†this fierce little firecracker who sees¬†the wonder¬†in¬†absolutely everything. I’m¬†forever grateful that she calls me mom.¬†And also that she sleeps until¬†9 every morning. You’re my bae, Brynlee Mae.

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The¬†‘rents hosted Bryn’s party at their house, and it was a day to remember. My mom made her famous peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and my¬†friend Amy drove out to the boondocks of Texas¬†to spend the entire day with us. We drank mimosas and celebrated my cute kid whilst my¬†sweet pal got to know the entire fam. By the end of the day, she was gossiping with my grandparents and trying to¬†trap my brother in a closet. It’s safe to say she’s one of us now.

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Speaking of ‘us’,¬†a family girl’s trip to a gorgeous resort in the Texas Hill Country was another April¬†gem.¬†This trip wouldn’t have been complete without¬†the usual Cirotto¬†shenanigans. My cousin and I both suffered burn wounds from¬†our attempts¬†to light the outdoor¬†fire pit.¬†It attacked us, really.¬†I lost some arm hair but heartfelt conversations around¬†said fire made it more than worth it.

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There was a hot tub and late night jumps into icy cold pool water, because my fam knows Tina simply can’t turn down a dare. There¬†was also a lovely winery and¬†tasty¬†three course dinners, and stunning sunsets¬†with¬†the loveliest of¬†company. And trying¬†to teach Jackie how to take a selfie. And prank calling other members of our family at all hours of the night, because isn’t that what mature adults do at family gatherings? Let me not forget the last night at the resort, when my aunt, cousin and I attempted to scare my poor grandma in the next room. I thought I might die of laughter-stifling when¬†Jackie started army crawling across the floor towards her mom’s- my grandma’s- bed.¬†My cousin and I followed not-so-stealthily behind until we were discovered and yelled at to go to¬†bed. More manic laughter ensued.

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So much of who I am today¬†is¬†a result of all the¬†ladies¬†I grew up with. Woman power runs strong in my clan, y’all.¬†I got really lucky, being born into this crazy, beautiful¬†family of mine.

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I can already tell that this is a time of my life that I’ll¬†be wishing I could have¬†back one day. While it’s here, I’m just doing¬†the best I can to¬†treasure every precious moment.