2013 Recap and Hi, 2014.

It’s hard for me to believe that everything that’s happened in 2013 has, in fact, only happened to me in one year. It blows my mind that I’ve had the chance to experience all of these things in a lifetime, much less 365 days. Where to start?

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I ran a race in my underwear for a good cause, was published in my university magazine (twice!) and modeled for multiple photo-shoots. I’ve had beautiful and memory-filled travels to Pittsburgh, Louisiana (twice!), Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, Detroit, Puerto Rico and Colorado. I took part in a giant scavenger hunt in downtown Austin where I would climb atop a Willie Nelson statue, not knowing that later that year I would actually meet Willie Nelson himself.

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I celebrated my 24th birthday surrounded by amazing friends, had an absolute blast with my hubby on our first ever cruise and fell in love with my social media internship for the American Red Cross.

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Becoming an event blogger gave me the chance to take part in some pretty incredible adventures: I ziplined across one of the world’s longest ziplines, ate and drank at multiple media events, attempted to stand-up paddleboard, nervously tried my hands at beekeeping, was given a breathtaking helicopter tour of downtown Austin and went indoor skydiving, just to name some of the events I was able to cover. I am forever grateful to all of the businesses who allowed me to try out these endeavors not only free of charge, but who almost always allowed me to invite a friend to join in on the fun as well. This year has definitely reiterated something I’ve known for quite some time: Austin and its people are awesome.

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Perhaps my favorite event to cover was flyboarding– A water sport that propelled me out of the water and into the air in a jet-pack like fashion. This was scary and exhilarating and doubly awesome because I had a giant camera crew filming it all. In May, I was cast in an online commercial for U By Kotex. A film crew filmed a week in my life, and a couple of months later would fly me first class to Detroit to film for a piece shown in concerts all over the United States. Soon after, they would send me to one of these concerts to watch myself talk to the audience on a humungous teleprompter. It’s impossible for me to properly put into words how completely amazing all of this was, but I can say it definitely made for some of the best moments of my entire life. I’ll never forget the feeling of having a film crew take over my entire house, or filming on a stage that famous singers perform on, or playing dress up with my very own makeup and wardrobe artist, or falling in love with Detroit as I was given the inside tour by some pretty terrific people, or being handed a check, glancing at the number and trying extremely hard to act cool and not squeal out loud. You know those really great dreams you sometimes have, and it always kind of sucks to wake up and realize, “Damn, that wasn’t real.” ? This whole experience was a lot like that for me. Except it was real.

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In August, I became a first-generation college graduate and celebrated this with my fabulous support system, and by September I was hired on as the Social Media Representative for all five locations of Leif Johnson Ford. I’m now getting paychecks to blog, take pictures and talk to people– and I’m still a little amazed that I’m getting paid to do the things that I already like to do for fun.

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What else? I make this recap already knowing that I won’t be able to recall every detail that made up such a monumental year for me. My husband and I bought a boat, which he completely renovated and that has already provided us with plenty of good times and pretty Austin sunsets. I made my first down payment on a shiny new car, met the White Power Ranger of my childhood, ran six races, sought out new volunteering opportunities and covered my first ever red carpet event.

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In October, the dude and I celebrated four wonderful years of marriage in the gorgeous Denver, Colorado. Oh, yes. And we found out that we’re expecting our baby girl to arrive in April 2014.

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My head is still spinning from this year, which has been both the craziest and best of my life so far. But seeing as we’ll be meeting Miss Brynlee Mae in just a few months, I already go into this one knowing that 2013 has some pretty intense competition. Just….Jeeze. Wow. Gosh. Pretty words start failing me when my feelings for all of these experiences can’t be summed up eloquently enough. I am so very thankful for this magical, insane, breathtaking, beautiful whirlwind of a year…. and I cannot wait to see what the next 365 days has in store for me (us!)

So hi, 2014. You have a lot to live up to, but I have some belly kicking movements and a couple of plane tickets that are telling me you’re off to a really good start.

Commercial & Concert Promo 2013

Guys! Remember when I told y’all that the U By Kotex crew thought my life was cool and followed me around to film a week in my world? And that I’d have an online commercial to show for this soon? Well, friends, here’s that commercial! Eeeee! :

I’m a total goofball, I know.

As I also mentioned a bit ago, the U By Kotex peeps really loved my silly self and sent me to Detroit to film for the second time–This time to film for a pre-show promo at Bruno Mars’ and American Idol tours. They were even amazing enough to send me to one of these concerts with extra tickets and very up-close-and-personal seats. I brought my husband and two girlfriends along and we had an absolute blast dancing the night away to Ellie Goulding and Bruno Mars. (Girlfriends and I were absolutely smitten with Bruno and his sexy Michael-Jackson-esque moves by the end of the concert.)

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It was also pretty darn neat and incredibly surreal to watch myself, pre-show, playing on a mega-screen at the concert. And amusing to watch people around us as they begin to notice why my group was taking pictures of and freaking out over said mega-screen. One teenage girl looked at the screen, then looked back to me, then looked back at the screen. (And repeat.) In awe, she eventually asked, “Is that you?!!?” When I responded yes and explained what it was for, her response was an adorable, “That is sooooo cool.” Hubby and friend seated next to me proceeded to tell me that I was famous, and then we all continued dancing, singing and laughing the night away.

Who knew that going to an audition on a whim would lead to all of this incredibleness? It’s been an awesome reminder to always follow two cheesy rules: Never don’t try and always do you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up sponsoring feminine products on a mega-screen for a pop-star’s concert.

Detroit, Part 2

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If you follow my blog, you probably know by now that I was cast as myself in a U by Kotex commercial in May. You may also know that, less than two months later, I was flown to Detroit on an all-expenses paid trip to film a second commercial. It’s been completely nuts. But the best kind of nuts. (Hee. Hee. Nuts. A male anatomy euphemism to describe a feminine care commercial I took part in. I really amuse myself sometimes.) Er….I digress. Here are the details I haven’t quite got around to sharing yet (With pictures! And captions!):

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(Above: View of Detroit after crawling out of an apartment window)

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(Above: Arguably the coolest brewery ever, as one gets to drink their beer next to all of the brewing machinery.)

In the first set of commercials, there were five of us who were cast in “Demo Diaries.” Each of us got our own 2-3 minute online commercial. Because my product is the only one that hasn’t been released yet, I’ve been able to to watch the rest of the Demo Diaries before mine airs. Let me tell y’all, I was completely floored by the talent, beauty and personality that my fellow U by Kotex girls possess. I still feel honored and a bit awestruck that I got to be amongst this group. Now take that feeling and multiply it times about a kabazillion when I found out that I was the only one asked to join the production team in Detroit. Here’s the thing—I’m a confident girl, but realistically so. I know where I stand. I’m attractive, but not drop-dead gorgeous. Due to my years of homeschooling, I have this perma-awkward thing going on, but I’ve managed to usually pass this off as more cute than creepy. I’m goofy and outgoing and I’m kind to people, which I think makes me generally likable. So though I was pretty surprised when I found out I got cast in the first commercial, I wasn’t flabbergasted (That is such a fun word.) But it definitely blew me away to figure out that the production team considered me the favorite of this group of lovely, gifted young women. Still….what is that saying? About not looking a gift horse in the mouth? Yeah, I wasn’t about to do that.

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(Above: Parts of the amazing film crew/ production team/ makeup/ wardrobe artists)

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(Above: Party at a bicycle/watch making shop)

So I went to Detroit and had one of those weekends that made me feel like I was dreaming, or in a movie, or something. As a rather long side note, I must note that I was extremely taken by this city. It’s now on my top five, and maybe even top three of places that I’ve traveled to. I know it’s not in the best of spots right now, but I’ve always had a thing for the underdog. I loved that nearly everyone I talked to in Detroit was actually from Detroit, and how proud they were of that fact. (I think I appreciated this even more, being one of the rare Austinities that is actually from Austin.) And it wasn’t that they didn’t know any better or didn’t travel frequently. It was just that they saw, and luckily shared with me, the beauty and uniqueness of their city. I loved seeing a run-down, vacant building next to a small strip of renovated, classy ones. I loved going to a sleek, upscale restaurant in the middle of a poor neighborhood. It wasn’t at all depressing to me, but rather hopeful and inspiring. I’ve never before seen a city with so much potential. I fell in love, and I fell hard.

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(Above: So much yum FOOD! And pretty coffee! And The oldest bowling alley in the US)

Okay. Long side note over. Where was I?…..

As I’ve mentioned, I flew first class and stayed at the MGM Grand and filmed on-stage at the Fillmore and was shown around the city by a production team that wouldn’t let me pay for anything. (Special thanks goes to Ed, who gave me an incredibly authentic tour of Detroit and didn’t once complain when I made him stop for multiple potty breaks.) I played dress up with a makeup and wardrobe artist and sat in on a meeting where everyone looked over pictures of me in different outfits. (So weird.) As I haven’t yet mentioned, the second commercial I was filming isn’t exactly a commercial. It’s actually a set of video clips that are going to be played on gigantic screens at the Bruno Mars and American Idol tours.They’re meant to be both a form of advertisement and a way to entertain the crowd pre-show. When I told my best friend about this, she told me my life had come full circle. I’d agree. See, when I was a young teenager, I was absolutely obsessed with American Idol. Obsessed is actually quite an understatement. I frequently fantasized about being a judge and convinced myself I was going to marry Ryan Seacrest. (The production team found that bit especially humorous) I once had a serious argument with previous mentioned best friend about which one of us liked Paula Abdul more. No, Really. I have journal entries about such things. Funny how sometimes the past really does meet, or at least interact with your present. Crazy how former dreams can occasionally come to fruition in your present life. It is both amusing and insane to find out that, 10 years later, I am going to be featured on mega-screens at the American Idol tour. So fourteen-year-old me, this may be a bit belated, but this one’s for you. Here is proof that sometimes those big, far-fetched, seemingly unrealistic type of dreams that filled your notebook really can come true. Sincerely, your twenty-four-year-old self and your menstrual cycle. 

Detroit, Part One

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I wish I had time to fully explain this crazy, wonderful whirlwind that has been my life lately. But, you see, I just got back from filming a commercial in Detroit five days ago. Tomorrow, I leave for a vacation to visit one of my best friends in New Mexico and from there, road-trip to Arizona with her. (YAY!) As giddy as I am about this, I definitely didn’t plan on leaving the state two weeks in a row. The past few months have definitely taken me by surprise, and for that, I am exceedingly grateful. And on that note—A few weeks ago, I was sitting by my favorite pool, tanning on my day off. My phone rang and I was asked if I’d like to be flown, all-expenses paid, to Detroit to film my second paid commercial for U By Kotex. Considering I should be sleeping at this very moment as I have a 6:30 am flight tomorrow, here are the Cliff Notes of that trip (I’ll save part two for the nitty gritty details.) :

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Detroit Cliff Notes:

  • Flying first class for the first time, and feeling like a duck out of water, being the twenty-four year old girl surrounded by a bunch of middle-aged men. But completely taking advantage of the free drinks and comfy seats. Being confused when the flight attendant handed me a hot towel. It was so tightly rolled that I thought it was sushi at first, but I followed along with the middle-aged men and wiped my face with the thing?! When in Rome  flying first class….
  • Arriving at the gorgeous MGM Grand, and calling my husband, excitedly informing him that the shower was the size of our walk in closet at home. Taking full advantage of the whipped coffee/double espresso machine.
  • Having a makeup and wardrobe artist for the weekend

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  • Sitting in on a production meeting in which I drank wine whilst everyone in the room and on conference call tried to decide what outfit I would wear for the shoot. This also meant everyone, including me, having copies in their hands of uh, me….in different outfits. Okay, that was also a little weird. But a cool kind of weird.
  • Filming at the Fillmore, on the same stage that rock stars perform on.
  • Being doted upon and loved by the U By Kotex peeps, just by being my naturally happy, highly energetic, slightly dorky self.
  • Not being allowed to pay for anything, despite the all too generous per diem that was delivered to me. Oh, and somehow getting paid to have one of the best times of my life. Also that.

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  • Hanging out with the production team after-hours, while also getting a pretty incredible tour of the town. Amongst many other amazing experiences (more about those later)—I partied and mingled at a shop where bicycles and watches were made, slung makeshift slingshots at a sign in an office building, visited a breathtaking island between Detroit and Canada, drank cocktails way past closing time at Sugar House, ate a mix of delicious Mexican and Italian food at El Barzon, bowled at the oldest bowling alley in the US and climbed out of an apartment window to see an absolutely gorgeous view of Detroit. Needless to say, I fell madly and deeply in love with this underdog-rising-up city. And also the folks residing in it.

I really have to go to bed now, but a more thorough part two (with many more pictures!) is soon to come, friends. I wish I could come up with a perfect ending to describe in a few words how very smitten and amazed I am by everything happening to me right now, but I’m about to fall asleep on the keyboard. And I have a flight to catch in less than eight hours. So, er….Goodnight, y’all!

Surreal, But Real. (Demo Diaries, 2013)

I have this really crazy, amazing, unreal story to tell y’all. Except here’s the thing–As unreal as it still seems, it’s all very true. And it’s happening to me. I don’t know where else to start this post but from the beginning. So here goes.

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Back in May, I received a message from a cameraman on the site that I use to schedule photo-shoots for my modeling hobby. He said that he’d love for me to come out and audition for a commercial. I then read over the details and found that they were looking for someone “Outgoing, authentic, confident, charismatic”, “Very likeable”, “Willing to take the camera crew and viewers into her personal life and share information about her life and style.” and, oh yeah, “Someone who other girls would like to be.” Oh, you know. Only a little intimidating. Gulp. But the pay was more than great, the location happened to be right by my university and I was wrapping up the last bit of my finals. I was leaving for a cruise in the next couple of days and was working that afternoon but had a little bit of free time to spare. I thought about it and then I thought, “Why not!?” So I went in for the audition. I walked into a crisp, corporate building, went up an elevator and was escorted by an assistant into a room with bright lights, two dudes and a camera. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous. But the guys were so friendly and genuinely sweet that I felt myself almost immediately calm down. After a few basic questions, they asked me about my hobbies. If I was to pick a question to be asked in an interview, that would probably be it. I’m all about my hobbies, y’all. So I ramble on (I was still a little nervous and my rambling becomes pretty intense when I’m nervous) about my hobbies, probably glowing a little as I talk about my most recent endeavors as an event blogger. The guys are smiling and I feel giddy with adrenaline. Before I know it, the audition is over. But before I leave, Travis (cameraman who emailed me) told me, “I think you’re our favorite of everyone we’ve interviewed so far. And we really don’t just say that to everyone.” As the assistant walked me out, she smiled as she let me know, “They really haven’t said that to anyone else.” If I wasn’t glowing yet, I know I was by that point.

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I found out in Louisiana, the day I got back from my cruise, that the production team also saw me as a favorite and that I had been cast in the commercial.

A few days later, I was meeting up with part of this team to go over details and sign the contract.

A day after that, I had the U By Kotex film crew begin following me around for a week in my life, filming for an online commercial entitled “Demo Diaries.”  They recorded me as I event blogged (I was trying out a new water sport that week, so it worked out pretty perfectly), hosted my on-campus radio show, went out with a friend, ordered a drink from a coffee shop (Everyone seemed a little stunned as we walked into a small-town coffee shop with a full camera crew. A barista proceeded to ask me if I was famous.), BBQ’d with my hubby, and even as I did laundry and vacuumed (Travis informed me that I didn’t seem real if they were just filming me doing cool things like flyboarding and hosting a radio show. I am very real, I swear it! Thus the everyday life things. Ha.)  

It was an incredible, surreal, insane, whirlwind of a week that I will never ever forget. I worked with an absolutely fabulous crew and cannot even describe how blessed I feel to be given such a crazy, wonderful opportunity. I’m tempted to say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, but apparently that’s not quite the case.

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I was going to wait for a couple more weeks, when the commercial aired, to let y’all know about all of this craziness. But then I got a call from the production team, asking me how I felt about doing a second commercial. Oh, and how would I feel about them flying me to Detroit to do so? Um, what!?…Huh!?…Impromptu vacation!?.. Filming another commercial!?…Yes,yes,yes!!! (That was basically my thought process within the phone conversation.) Long story short, and to condense the shock and excitement that I feel into a short amount of words, I will be flying to Detroit tomorrow night. The pay will be just as much or more than my previous commercial, which is crazy to me because I would probably pay to have an experience like this. Thursday I’ll have a wardrobe fitting. Friday I’ll be filming all day in the new-to-me city of Detroit. My heart started beating faster just typing the previous sentence down. I still can’t quite believe all of this is happening. I’m completely stunned, but in the best way possible. I’m dazed and grateful and thrilled. I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that as surreal as this all is, it is still real. So, uh, because I’m apparently not dreaming, I still have a bag that I need to finish packing?! Stay tuned for part two, y’all. Detroit, here I come!