This One Time At Band Camp (Just Kidding I Was Never in Band.)

A few months ago, my former high school reached out and asked if they could feature me as an alumni spotlight. I’ve been meaning to share the article I wrote up for a while, but it’s been a busy summer and I’d never quite got around to it. Today was the first day of school at my old stomping grounds, so it seems like as fitting a time as any to share!

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“Eleven years ago, I was an eighteen year old sitting in a freshman geometry class. At the time, I very much doubted I would even pass this geometry class. By the hair of my chinny chin chin and with the help of some great teachers and friends (shout-out to Mrs. Pope and Bryant Phamvu), I graduated with my class of 2007.

I started at Summit a socially awkward home-schooled girl, and I graduated without even the faintest idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It took years of waitressing, community college and even a brief stint as a lunch lady (I rocked that hairnet.) to figure any of that out. It took moments of perpetually feeling like a deer in the headlights before I found my place to shine (sans the headlights).

Now that I’ve found that place, it feels like the sweetest of spots to be. But let me rewind just a bit.

In 2008, I met a guy at my friend’s BBQ. He had a sweet smile, a kind heart and a thick southern drawl. I was young, naïve and still had absolutely no idea what I was doing with my life. It wasn’t something that should have ever worked out. Fast forward to 2018, and I’ve been married to my best friend for nearly nine years. Our redheaded four-year-old daughter is so lucky to have always known that sweet smile, kind heart and thick southern drawl.

Shortly after meeting my husband, a friend asked me to tour Concordia University with her. I never saw myself going to a four-year-college, but something changed that day. I spoke with a student adviser, and from that moment I knew that this was where I wanted to be. I soon transferred from community college to Concordia, and three years after this I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Communication. This made me the first female in my family to graduate college, and it sparked in me a fierce and passionate love for learning. Three years later, I would graduate with my Master’s in Business from this same university.

Today I work as a social media director and as a freelance food and travel blogger. You can often find me eating and adventuring my way around Austin, hopping on a plane or chasing around that vivacious little lady of mine. There’s never a dull moment, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m living a life that I once only dreamed could exist, but it took many awkward moments, handfuls of hairnets, plenty of mistakes and a failed geometry test or five to get here. It’s been a long and sometimes messy journey, but it’s been my journey. Sometimes I think that I’d love to go back in time and tell my eighteen-year-old self a few things. For starters, I’d tell her that being ‘cool’ is overrated, that beautiful things can happen in the most unexpected places and that big dreams can often be found in the smallest of moments. But then, I know I wouldn’t actually say any of that. Learning all of those things firsthand was the very best part.”

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 seems 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.

Nate’s Coffee & Cocktails

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Last week I had a cocktail and cake ball tasting at Nate’s in downtown Buda. I’ve worked in this Buda once a week for years, but have only recently become smitten with the downtown area. Nate’s only made me fall so much harder.

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Before Nate’s was a cocktail bar, it was an auto part’s store. I adored the open and airy feel that was leftover from the past, and that they’ve kept some of the rustic warehouse vibes too.  Oh, and have I mentioned the spacious wooden patio? All of this goodness makes for such a charming environment, friends.

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The cocktails just put the cherry on top of all of said charm. Nate’s has this drink-making stuff down pat, y’all. Strong? Check. Unique and magical flavor combinations? Check. Delicious? Check, check, check. Probably my favorite drink was the Main Street Smash, which consisted of Deep Eddy Ruby Red, Starlite vodka, fresh lemon, cucumber and mint, St. Germain. Sipping on this was refreshing and delightful and reminiscent of the perfect summer day.

Nate’s also offers an extensive beer and wine menu, coffee, sandwiches, snacks and CAKE BALLS which, if you can’t tell by my all caps there, are amazing. Their coffee comes from the local and loved Cuvee and their eats from the delightful Crema Bakery.  The in-house created meat and cheese plate is also delightful and was the perfect match for my cocktails.

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Being at Nate’s solo was wonderful, but this is such an ideal spot to laugh and chat with people you like a lot. Living in North Austin, this is a bit of a drive for me. But, man, oh man. It’s worth the drive. I would more than happily daydream about cocktails and cake balls for the entirety of this little road-trip.

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.

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?

2017 Resolutions

I was hesitant to publically show my 2017 resolutions this year as I have a few lofty goals and a couple of scary ones. It’d be easier to skip them if I didn’t flaunt them which is exactly why I’m sharing them. You guys get to hold me accountable. Yay!?

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Here they are:

  • Run a full marathon (see “lofty goals”)
  • Visit three new-to-me states, one new-to-me country
  • Graduate with my MBA
  • Take a solo trip (I have fond memories experimenting with the starts of solo travel. In 2013, I flew to Detroit to film a commercial and met up with the production team upon arrival. Last year I drove to New Orleans solo to meet up with friends and flew companionless to Ireland to then adventure with cousins. I’ve found all of these unaccompanied moments both meditative and thrilling. I’m keeping my options open here. Maybe I’ll have a weekend away in a sleepy little Texas town. Maybe I’ll fly to new lands. Either way, I’m excited for this one.)
  • Get a tattoo (see “scary goals”; I have one tattoo. I’ve wanted a second for years. My one big irrational fear is needles and I was a huge baby when getting tatted at eighteen. Like, the tattoo artist kind of hated me. But at this point I’ve given birth to an actual baby so I figure that process must be scarier and I can handle this. Eh?)
  • Record books read (Every year, I devour so many delicious words and recollect very few of them. I hate that! I started on this goal slightly early, by creating a Goodreads account in late December.)
  • Blog 1+ times weekly, post to Instagram 3+ weekly
  • Vlog Resolution Progress Report (I want to have some way of keeping up with these goals, and I’ve also been wanting to start vlogging. Thought I might as well combine the two! This is another lofty objective for me as I have a record of being terrible at keeping up with video blogs. Wish me luck!)

I’m doing my best to get off to a good start with said goals.

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I recorded my first book read of the year, The Girl With All The Gifts. I’m no sci-fi or fantasy fan, and usually shy away from books in either genre. But I found this zombie book for 50 cents at a little bookstore in Brenham, Texas and thought I’d give it a go. Y’all, I surprised myself with how much I adored this one. I originally gave it four stars but when I found myself still thinking about it days later, I went back and changed it to five.

Tomorrow, I fly to Seattle and Washington will mark my first new-to-me state of the year. This has been on my travel list for years, and I’m eager to start exploring with one of my best gal pals.

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It’s January and I’m already feeling the butterflies that travel and good books and new things bring my way. So I’d say 2017 is off to a pretty swell start.