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.

Soaking Up Summertime

Life is sweet and full of summertime bliss.

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On Saturday, I leave to visit my best friend of fourteen years in Virginia. Or, we’re at least starting in Virginia. We’re also planning on partying in Maryland and beaching it up in Delaware. A little state-hopping, if you will. I am so ecstatic to start making new memories traveling and exploring with the lady love of my life.

But really, summer twenty fifteen has me giddy about a lot of things….

  • I bought a hammock. I’m growing partial to time spent between the trees, a pineapple drink in one hand and a book in the other. Or just staring up at the stars and listening to the crickets chirp. Paradise in my own backyard.

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  • Adventuring with my little one has taught me that she’s much better at taking selfies than I am.

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  • I’ve been occasionally volunteering at my nearby Alzheimer’s Center for a few years now, so I’ve known program director Bernard for a while. I don’t see him much but love catching up every time I do. His combo of good heart and fun personality makes him a winning human being. He also seems to think I’m pretty cool, and since I’m actually a weirdo, I appreciate that.

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  • San Antonio is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities in Texas. This is mostly because two of my favorite people in the entire world reside here. Also because the Riverwalk of San Antone is a lovely place to laugh the night away with said favorites.

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  • Date nights with the husband always leave me wonderstruck. Whether we’re eating garlic naan in a cozy cellar followed by being photo-bombed by an extremely tan gentleman (see if you can spot him below…) in downtown Austin or drinking beer out of mason jars in New Ulm, Texas, magic is always made when we’re together. Especially magical when we come home sporting matching dinosaur stamps from da club.
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  • I don’t know how it’s possible, but my job voluntarily pays me for doing things like organizing lip-dubs and dancing like a tune deaf white girl. You can watch the full embarrassing footage here.
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  • Family moments in my household sometimes include squishing ourselves into tiny children’s forts and capturing the moment with a selfie.

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Summer 2015 has me smitten. I’m soaking up the sun and as many of these beautiful moments as I possibly can.

Life with Subtitles

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It’s summertime and the living is easy and worthy of subtitles. Here’s what’s up:

1. The Big Cojones

Did y’all know I was in a dodgeball league? No? Because I totally was, and it was awesome. Our season just ended, but the memories and friendships I’ve made from playing on the Big Cojones have not. Side note — I did not name our team.

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2. Pool party at the Dell Diamond

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I kick-started these sizzling months by partaking in a pool party at a baseball game with one of my dodgeball lady loves. A pool party at a baseball game! How fun is life!?

3. DJ Dash. 5k?

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My first summer run was an interesting experience. It was the first 5k I’ve ran that, uh, wasn’t actually a 5k. Being a bit of a running enthusiast, I asked where the timer was upon crossing the finish line. A kind sir informed me that they didn’t have one, and also because of our crazy Texas weather and muddy conditions, it had to be cut to only two miles anyway. And here I was thinking I ran the fastest 3.1 miles of my life. WHATEVER.

4. That Chinese kid

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I’m going to stay with one of my best gal pals in San Antonio this weekend. My best (Vietnamese) dude friend of nearly ten years (Gah, that makes me feel so old. We were just exchanging notes in high-school the other day, I swear it.) also lives in SA, so I asked if he wanted hang out. This somehow turned into him overanalyzing how my family feels about him. I am not aware of them thinking any of these things, but he made me laugh just the same. I’ve told other friends I’m contemplating starting a “Sh#* that Bryant says” domain.

5. Cheese Style

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Also amusing is when you text your dear husband a grocery store parody of T-Swift’s ‘Style’ and he has not even the smallest inkling of what you might be doing.

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6. Excuse me sir, I need your hat.

Because sometimes at a brewery it’s necessary to borrow a cowboy hat for a good photo op.

7. Getting feisty with a floating elephantpooljune

I highly enjoy spending time at the pool with my baby, a best friend and a child’s floating device that I may or may not have been passionately smooching once a margarita entered my system. (Luckily my child was napping at this point so she didn’t witness such atrocities against her elephant.)

8. All in a day’s work

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I like when freelance work leads me to the 28th floor of a building in the heart of downtown Austin.

9. That face.

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It’s the one I’m lucky enough to wake up to every morning.

10. These two

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They are just the very best.

Twenty-Fourth Summer

This summer has been an incredible one, to say the least. I’d even go so far to say that it’s been amongst the best of my life. The last summer I remember being filled with as much magic was my eighteenth. After a sheltered childhood and graduating from a small, private school, I was full of enormous curiosity and ready to live as fully as I possibly could. Within a couple of short months, I traveled to London, Paris, New York, Colorado and Maryland. My very first plane ride was to Europe, in fact. That summer I got my bellybutton pierced and drank beer by a river on a starlit night and walked through the bustling streets of New York City and made smores by a campfire in the mountains and climbed up a windy staircase to make my way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I wanted life, and I got it– And a small dose of its wonder, beauty and sadness too. I will always look back fondly on those months, and that innocent and wide-eyed girl getting her first little taste of this big ‘ole world. summerstuff Fast-forward six years later. Though I’ve lost much of the innocence and naivety of eighteen, I’ve managed to keep in tact that wide-eyed fascination and zest for life and living it. Within the past few months, I’ve had the chance to travel to Progreso, Cozumel, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan and Puerto Rico. I’ve sand-sledded down the gorgeous White Sands, drank martinis at a bicycle shop, bowled at the oldest bowling alley in the US, visited a lovely island in between Detroit and Canada, feasted on delicious brunches in New Orleans and Tucson, cruised to Mexico with my hubby, and enjoyed the beautiful beach of San Juan with one of my favorite girls. Being an event blogger has given me the opportunity to try adventures like ziplining, flyboarding, indoor skydiving, paddle-boarding, helicopter touring and beekeeping. I’ve even been able to make art (I use that term loosely, considering my lack of skills in that area.) at a bar and chow down for media events at restaurants like the delicious Uncle Julio’s.eventblogging Bits of this summer still seem like a really crazy, extraordinary dream to me. After auditioning on a whim, I was cast for a role in a national commercial. I then had a film crew follow me around for a week in my life. A month and a half later, this same crew liked me enough to send me to Detroit to film a piece that was later played at American Idol and Bruno Mars’ tours. This amazing whirlwind consisted of flying first class for the first time, filming on a theatre that rock stars perform on, playing dress up with my own makeup and wardrobe artist, looking over pictures of myself in a conference meeting whilst drinking wine and being shown around the city of Detroit by an absolutely fabulous crew. A couple of months later, I was sent to a concert with awesome seats and the chance to watch myself talking to the crowd on a mega-screen.

In August, I graduated college with honors and thus became a first-generation college graduate. My big and crazy tribe celebrated the day with me and had me feeling all kinds of loved, blessed and accomplished.

boatyay My husband and I even bought a boat. The floors were gutted and the engine didn’t run properly when Robby brought it home. After putting in countless hours and an immeasurable amount of energy, my dude had our boat fixed up and running. He’s pretty great, that boy. Now I have the perfect outlet for little weekend getaways made up of pretty sunsets, crashing waves and my handsome husband.

Oh, and I met the former White Power Ranger. Yeah.

To sum it all up, My twenty-fourth summer has been an unforgettably enchanting one. I’ve experienced so much, seen so many dreams come true and have lived really, really big. If my eighteenth summer was the time I took my first small taste of the world, I’d say that the summer of twenty-four will be remembered as the time I took a really large, intoxicating bite. And oh, was it delicious.

Summer, So Far

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Life is pretty darn swell lately. My busy time is filled with a job I love, an internship I adore, graduation preparations and covering fun, Austin adventures whilst I get to live my dream as an event blogger. I’m giddily planning an upcoming vacation and getting butterflies pondering post-grad life. Even as we speak (Or, uh, as I type…) I should be packing for a little weekend road-trip to visit my hubby’s parents. I’m anticipating a weekend full of BBQ, coffee-drinking, book-reading, small-town breakfast restaurants (Yum) and time spent with the two best in-laws a girl could ask for.

And in the little bit of spare time (in my own town) that I do find? Well, I definitely take full advantage of those moments too. Summer 2013 is already a pretty magical one, y’all.

Summer, So Far: 

Canoeing:

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Boating:lakehubshanlake

Wakeboarding:

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Brunching:

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Shopping the quaint Salado, Texas (with my adorably prego cousin):

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Wine Tastings:

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Receiving my first Influenster VoxBox:

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Swimming:

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And more swimming….
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As you can see, much of my free time is spent in numerous bodies of water. Well. It is summer and this is Texas, after all. Y’all.