My Fuel

I’ve tried time and again to start this blog post, to begin personal blogging again after months and months of a hiatus, but keep failing to write more than a few paragraphs.

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It just seem there’s too much to say, and I fear my words will be inadequate in describing what has thus far been one of the most monumental and beautiful years of my life.

But I think it’s time I at least give it the old college try.

Speaking of college, I’d just really love to give a quick shout-out to my eighteen-year-old self. The girl who never even thought she would step foot inside a college campus. Who nearly failed her freshmen level geometry class as a senior. Who was so awkward that if someone was to say something that she didn’t know how to respond to, which was often, she would simply giggle manically in response. Who worked as a waitress, and a cashier at Blockbuster and a lunch lady with a hairnet until she saved up enough money in a plastic baggy to buy her 1997 Toyota Avalon.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my twenty-year-old self too. Who was newly married and wildly in love and did not have a clue what she was doing with her life, or really, about life at all. Who had peers taking bets on how long her marriage would last. Who was once called “Some stupid girl that I don’t even know.” on the internet by someone that she, in fact, did not even know. Who would soon be accepted to her first four-year college after applying on a whim. Who would find a spark for learning and living that she didn’t even know could exist up until that point. Who would soon let this spark turn into a flame that would change her entire life.

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And then there’s twenty-five year old me. Who was a new college graduate and a happy but terrified new mom. Who loved her family more than anything but still cared about her own passions too, and wondered how this might fit in with the expectations that society has placed on women. Who worried that the dreams she had worked so hard for would be put on pause indefinitely.

If there is a reoccurring theme to be found here, something that has bonded all of these years into a cohesive story, it would be always finding a way to fight back.

It took time, but eventually I learned that I shouldn’t just attempt to ignore my doubts and insecurities, the opinions and judgements of others and the standards that our world sets for women. That I should listen to every single negative word, every self doubt, every ridiculous expectation. And that I should let all of these things fuel me. To be stronger, to chase my dreams harder, to love wilder and to live based on not what anyone else says I can or should do, but based on what I know I can and should do.

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So do y’all mind if I fast forward to my twenty-eighth year? Because this is kind of my favorite part so far.

A few months back, I flew back to Austin after completing a road-trip from Texas to Washington D.C. with my best friend. She spent the entire summer with me, and much like the previous few months, we spent hundreds of miles laughing and exploring and laughing and dancing and laughing and arguing about things like “Should the Easter Bunny be classified as an animal when playing 20 Questions?” After adventuring and eating our way through Alabama, North Carolina, and a handful of other states, we made it to DC where I got to love on my second family for a couple of days.¬† I left on a Monday with a killer cough and had a few hours before I had to rush to my university, where I stayed up until nearly one in the morning with my MBA group. We were practicing for our final presentation that would be delivered the following day, and we practiced until we were nearly delusional and until I was gasping for breath between my coughing fits. But we also spent the night drinking wine and playing piano and taking goofy photos and reminiscing on the past two years and dissolving into bouts of laughter at various random interludes. I told them that night because I already knew in those moments, “Guys. This is going to be such a great memory for us one day.” And for me, it already is.

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By Tuesday morning we were all sleep deprived and I was still miserably sick, but the show must go on. And that it did. We presented to The Alternative Board, a CEO support group that we had been consulting for the past semester. They loved it, and the owner even requested a separate meeting with me afterward. If you would have told eighteen-year-old Christina that she would one day be giving business advice to CEOs, she would have giggled manically in response. But then, a lot of things would surprise that girl.

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That girl who was too young to get married? She just celebrated eight years of happiness and laughter and wedding vows (and fights and tears and gross inside jokes) with her very best friend.¬† That girl who would have to choose between being a mom and living her dreams? She’s hustling as a social media director, training for a full marathon, forever having dance parties to new Taylor Swift songs with her three-year-old redhead and recently returned from learning to surf and getting her finger stuck in a zipline in Costa Rica. (But that’s a story for another time.) That same girl who never even dreamed she would go to college? She just graduated with her Master’s in Business.

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I write this partly because I like to record how I am feeling and what I am going through at certain moments in time, and this moment in time is a big one for me. But I also write this because, maybe one day my daughter will be doubting herself. Probably someone will say something unkind to her. Most likely the world will be telling her what is or isn’t a possibility for her. Or maybe another soul will wander onto my blog and be experiencing these same things. I write this because I want that person to know that I have been there. I have been there, and I once never thought I would get to where I am right now. But here I am. So please, love, dream your biggest dreams. Work towards them ferociously and without apology. When you feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, most of the time you probably don’t. Keep going until you do. Focus on the good stuff. Let everything else be your fuel.

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?