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.

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.

No One At The Kmart Knows About My Bologna

From my first days of knowing my husband, I also¬†knew about his love for nonsensical phrases. He loves to incessantly repeat¬†odd, meaningless¬†things that he hears on films or commercials or on the side of the road. I’ve never watched Back to the Future or The Goonies from start to finish, but I can quote the crap out of both of them.

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So as we were binge-watching Shameless last week, and a¬†stoned college student on a bad trip¬†uttered the words, “No one at the Kmart knows about my bologna.”, I immediately knew this would be a new token phrase. Not only because Robby was nearly crying he was laughing so hard, but because it sounded just like him. I felt honored to be privy to a strange catchphrase in the making.

Robby and I are soon to celebrate seven years of marriage and an anniversary trip is in the works. Both of these things make me giddy.

In these seven years we’ve shared many things. Anger, but more joy.¬†Fights, but more laughter. Eye rolls, but more weird dances around the house. Baby poop, but more group¬†family cuddles. Okay,¬†let’s¬†be real, probably more baby poop. Babies poop a lot.

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¬†There’s a big¬†learning curve when it comes to marriage, and I love that we’ve always found ways to learn and curve together.¬†I was especially young when we said “I do”, and Robby has been unwaveringly patient and kind every step and misstep of the way. There are things I couldn’t¬†have known¬†at twenty that I know about¬†myself¬†now. That, as much as I value us,¬†I also¬†need space to breathe, to travel and to live outside of my marriage. That, as much as I¬†cherish my family, I also value my¬†independence and higher education and exploring the world.¬†Not only that,¬†I sincerely believe¬†that¬†having this time to myself makes me¬†both a better wife and mother overall. This isn’t something that everyone understands, and that’s okay. Because he does.¬†Robby has always¬†wholeheartedly encouraged¬†me to chase my dreams and to figure out what makes me feel happy and fulfilled.¬†He is my person, and to have spent the past seven years crafting inside jokes and our own bizarre lingo makes me feel like I’m a part of the best¬†private club.¬†Ours.

I married young, but I married right.

His sweet laughter about secret bologna only reiterates that knowledge.

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?

A best friend is like a bra….

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Welcoming my 27th year this month has been magical and has left me feeling so loved and lucky. I had most of¬†my original¬†birthday blog post written and ready to post before I picked my¬†best friend of fifteen years up from the airport this morning.¬†Then she¬†gifted me with a $50 Victoria Secret gift card paired with a sweet note comparing me to the perfect bra. I should note now that she knows I have a tendency for buying bargain everything. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. Even now as a grown-up with a full-time job, I just love the thrill of a good buy.¬†Meg knows I would never buy a fifty¬†dollar bra on my own.¬†I should also note, if it’s not already obvious,¬†that¬†I have very small boobs. So when I recently went into a department store and found a set of bras for a great price with the label ‘large’ and THEY FIT, I¬†knew I had to buy them. I walked out happy and with a slight ego boost from my purchase. When I got home, I finally realized what had just happened. I had bought large CHILDREN’S sized bras. That fit perfectly. Goodbye ego trip. I swallowed my pride and still wear those bras to this day.

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This is where Meg comes in to save the day with the gift card and note comparing me to¬†the ideal bra. I’m going to share that note now, paired with¬†snapshots from my birthday month that make me feel incredibly grateful.

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“Happy Birthday Tina Wina!

I got you this gift card to Victoria’s Secret, not only because I know you’ll never leave the junior’s section for bras on your own, but because I think it’s a befitting gift for you because it represents our friendship in so many ways!

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There’s a clich√© expression that a best friend is like a bra– supportive, reliable, all those great things. That describes you. But you are far more complex than that. Plus, we don’t really need much support because we’re such long-standing, proud members of the itty bitty titty committee (althought you took about a 9-month sabbatical during your pregnancy. I forgive you by the way.) So the explanation doesn’t really fit us. In honor of an age of being offended, I take offense that we do not have a clich√© bra metaphor that perfectly describes our friendship as women with small breasts. #smallboobsmatter

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So I’ve come up with an explanation that fits your uniqueness and lets us use the bra metaphor.

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You’re like my best bra. Really, my dream bra because, although I’ve found a friend like this in you, I don’t think I’ve found a bra like this. Picture this: I walk into Victoria’s Secret; I’m immediately intimidated by all of the voluptuous ‘Kim K. types’ clearly more fit to be shopping there. I, of course, head straight to the clearance section expecting to find a bra that is under $20, practical, but probably an ugly shade of green. This is worth it because it fits me and makes my boobs appear larger than they are. Suddenly, my eyes are drawn to a 32B bra hanging on the rack. It is glowing among the other 32DD bras that are left over since all the other skinny girls have sucked the sales rack dry. It is bright, it is vibrant, I don’t even have to worry about buying matching panties because it has so many colors it will match with everything I already have (not that I usually match my bra and panties, but if I shop at VS I’m clearly expecting company so maybe I’d step up my game for the night.) I don’t have to change or add a thing about what I already own! I try on the bra and it’s a perfect fit! If my boobs were saggy, it would be supportive, which is comforting to know, but this isn’t the case at 24 so it’s just extremely uplifting! Suddenly my boobs look and feel better than ever before! I’m ready to hit the town and take on any and all adventures; adventures I wouldn’t explore without this bra helping me feel comfortable and my best. It makes me feel more myself than I do with other bras! It’s uplifting, vibrant, exciting and adventurous. And the best thing? It expects hardly anything in return except for a little bit of money, a little fun, (because this is not the type of bra you don’t take advantage of how it makes you feel) and only red wine because it’s just not a white wine type of bra. The wine thing is probably the biggest downfall, but I drink wine most often without a bra on anyway so I don’t care too much.

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LOVE YOU! Thanks for being my best friend for 15 years.

Love,

Meggie Moo.

P.S. Don’t share this on social media though I know you might want to– alongside a picture of the gift card and maybe a TBT picture of us– because someone might get offended that I said #smallboobsmatter and talked about being skinny vs. voluptuous.”

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We decided that sharing to my blog was okay, by the way. I would like to take a brief moment to clarify that Meg is amongst the most unoffensive of people that I know, and that our sense of humor is just clearly very strange.

Also?

This life I share with the people who love me is just the very breast.