Autumn’s got me daydreaming

Here in Wisconsin, autumn is in full-force. The temperatures have dipped, the sun shines a bit dimmer and sinks earlier than we’re used to, and most mornings call for a cozy sweatshirt and cup of pumpkin or mint-flavored coffee (or any other autumn-inspired beverage).

A hot caramel macchiato on a cold Wisconsin autumn day.

As a lover of summer and all that it brings, autumn in Wisconsin usually has me daydreaming for a bit more sunshine, more 80-degree days, and maybe a new adventure altogether. While drinking coffee with hazelnut coffee creamer (because I’m the type of girl who loves creamer more than the actual coffee), my mind usually wanders to my next adventure.

Usually with daydreams, it’s go big or go home. Why would our brains limit us when the possibilities are endless in our dreams? The thrill behind daydreams is to dream up the “what ifs.”

What if you had an extra $10,000 to spend on your dream trip? Places like Earnest make fulfilling your dreams possible with low-interest personal loans to assist you in making those dreams a reality.

For me, I’ve been dreaming of taking a trip back to the East Coast. After my move from New Jersey back to Wisconsin, I’ve already felt the itch to return to New York. As a millennial who embraces technology, there are so many options that make traveling more affordable and easier than it’s ever been.

Autumn is ideal for a trip to NYC. Southwest offers cheap flights, so I’d hop on a plane from the Milwaukee to LaGuardia airport.

One of the coolest recent technological advancements is Airbnb, an app on your phone where you can browse and book stays in rooms, apartments, or houses for your trips. Communication with the host of your accommodation is done through the app, and prices can often be more affordable than you’d find for traditional hotels. Airbnb can be a great option not only if you’re looking to save money, but also if you’re looking for a more unique travel experience.

My Airbnb would be close to one of my favorite places in Manhattan: Central Park. I love the blend of city and nature, the ponds throughout the park, and it’s perfect for people-watching.

Central Park in panorama.

After a walk through Central Park, it’s only natural that I’d need some pizza to satisfy my hunger. Luckily New York is a place where I have many options for a slice at $1 a pop (or $3 if I wanted to splurge). Then I’d venture down to the perfect place for me: a dessert shop called Becky Bites NYC. Of course, why wouldn’t I go there? Founder of the shop, Becky Rosenthal, has created a heavenly place with cream-cheese inspired treats that are just too good to pass up.
My sweet tooth satisfied, and with my extra travel money still burning holes in my pockets, shopping seems like an obvious way to spend part of my day in the city. The largest department store in the world, Macy’s Herald Square, seems like a wise choice. But I wouldn’t be shopping just for the sake of shopping: I’d be on the hunt for the perfect dress for a night out in Manhattan.

After finding the winning dress, my day in the city wouldn’t be complete without some spectacular views. So I’d head over to 230 Fifth, a heated rooftop bar with a view that’ll blow you away. I’d make sure to make it to the rooftop early enough to see the sunset over the beautiful city. 

The view from the 230 Fifth rooftop bar. Photo credit: Rikki Helvey.

Running around Manhattan all day gives you an appetite, so I’m sure while I’m soaking in the view, I’d have to enjoy one of the options from the bar’s food menu. As a vegetarian, sometimes my options at restaurants can be limited, and sometimes limited to only items from the appetizer menu. But at 230 Fifth, the vegetarian ravioli or Asian vegetarian noodles would be perfect entrees for me (mainly because I’m forever obsessed with pasta).

Nighttime calls for something I haven’t done in NYC since I was 13: seeing a Broadway show. With shows like Anastasia, Wicked, and Hamilton onstage currently, you can’t go wrong. There’s just something magical about Broadway.

My night complete, I’d return to my Airbnb to sleep off the event-filled day I’d had, and definitely sleep in. My second day would involve plenty of museums, which is always one of my favorite things to do whenever I travel. The Museum of Natural History is one of my favorites, so I’d start there, but I’d want to venture out and explore museums I haven’t seen yet, like the Met and the Guggenheim.

American Museum of Natural History.

Of course throughout the day I’d indulge in some mandatory NYC bagels, and probably more pizza. In a city like New York, your food options are basically endless. Foods like bagels and pizza are not only delicious–they’re also convenient for when you’re on the go, which is a given if you’re in New York. After all the running around, I’d go back to my Airbnb earlier and relax for the night.

On my last full day in NYC, I’d take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, another one of my favorite New York sights.

The view from the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’d make sure to bring a good book and find a bench in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which offers beautiful views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The next day I’d fly back to Wisconsin, promising that I’ll return to New York as soon as I could (which would be feasible with the leftover money from the extra $10,000 to go towards the trip). No matter how many times I visit New York, I’m already planning what I’ll see next time I’m there. For now, I’ll keep dreaming.

If you had $10,000 to put towards your dream trip, where would you go?

 

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A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

college-1

Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

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Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

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Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

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All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

Why failing is better than settling for less

Source: shuttershock.com

Source: shuttershock.com

“Never settle for less than you deserve.”

This phrase is thrown around to everyone crying into their ice cream (or alcohol) over a break up. I agree wholeheartedly with it, especially since I have decided that I want to be more selfish in 2015.

I believe that focusing on myself will help me avoid settling for crappy situations.

If we shouldn’t settle for a crappy relationship, why are so many of us giving up our dreams to settle for a crappy life?

Fear.

I have dreams for myself, just like everyone else. But why haven’t I been a ball buster, a chick who goes after what she wants, no matter who’s standing in my way?

Because of the unknown. That dark, scary monster under my bed.

In the middle of the night, when those deep thoughts about life creep into my head, the monster is in my thoughts.

Failure. I could go after my dreams, fall on my hopeful little face, and fail miserably.

So what?

I should be asking myself, “Who cares if I fail?” If we’ve suffered failed relationships, at least we learned something. Shouldn’t the same be true of our dreams?

For many of us, we neglect our dreams not on purpose, but because our brains are too busy. Our attention is spread out to a million different things in our daily lives, and we get wrapped up in the day-to-day monotony. I’ve been guilty of those for longer than I’d care to admit.

In the blogging world, there are many writers who inspire me. The ones who stand out the most are the ones going after their dreams and overcoming those fears of failing.

Case in point: Vanessa at her blog Wander Onwards. She travels the world, which is something I’ve forever dreamed of doing. She is clever and hilarious writer, and she’s clearly following her passions.

Sure, some aspirations we have might be far out of reach. Wistful, but not realistic. But if we don’t try, we’ll never know.

The people living their dreams stand out. They are confident, self aware, and discovering themselves on a deeper level. They go above and beyond, taking life by the balls instead of taking whatever bone is thrown their way.

Why not me? Why not you? If not traveling, but whatever your dreams are in that pretty little head of yours.

Instead of just dreaming and settling for ordinary, why not make something of those dreams? I want to make my dreams a reality, and if I fail, if you fail…

Who cares? At least we tried.

Source: iliketoquote.com

Source: iliketoquote.com

 

Who Reads My Blog, Anyway? (Where in the World…)

Fellow WordPress bloggers, are you as obsessed with following your stats as I am? Sure, that’s not why we blog, but it sure gives you a rush. Seeing the numbers of your traffic increase (hopefully) is one of many reasons to keep blogging, knowing that people are reading your words.

For me, one of the coolest features is seeing the countries my viewers are from. I’ve had traffic from countries I’ve never heard of, and countries I’ve dreamed of visiting. Maybe that’s why I always loved playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” as a kid. Since I’m so interested in culture and hope to travel more in my future, I decided to compile a list of the top ten countries that visit my blog. And maybe this will now be my Bucket List of countries to visit. Drumroll, please. And the winners are…

Source: www.ccfa.org Chicago, IL skyline

Source: http://www.ccfa.org
Chicago, IL skyline

1. United States–This is obviously number one because it’s the country I am from, and English is its native language. I’ve been to several states within my home country, but I’d love to see all 50 one day.

Source: sydney.concreteplayground.com.au My dream vacation

Source: sydney.concreteplayground.com.au
My dream vacation

2. Australia–In the middle of winter where I live, I sure would love a vacation to Australia right about now!

Source: cicorp.com

Source: cicorp.com

3. United Kingdom–I love British accents, British literature, and the history of the United Kingdom. I’d love to see some theatre, meet awesome people, and see the sights. Any followers in England wanna take this girl shopping in London? 🙂

Source: therooster.ca Beautiful scenery

Source: therooster.ca
Beautiful scenery

4. Canada–The scenery of Canada looks so beautiful, and being from Midwestern America, Canada isn’t that far away. I’d especially love to see Niagara Falls.

Source: boomsbeat.com Taj Mahal in Agra, India

Source: boomsbeat.com
Taj Mahal in Agra, India

5. India–It’s fascinating how many various countries view my blog. I find the Indian culture beautiful and fascinating because it’s so different from my culture.

Source: dchangrealestate.com Barcelona, Spain

Source: dchangrealestate.com
Barcelona, Spain

6. Spain–I studied Spainsh, and have always wanted to travel to Spain one day. I would love to explore many cities in Spain. The history, culture, food, and music interests me.

Source: thetastingnote.com

Source: thetastingnote.com

7. Austria–I sure wouldn’t mind visiting this place. Look at how beautiful it is!

Source: gerad.ca Amsterdam, Netherlands

Source: gerad.ca
Amsterdam, Netherlands

8. Netherlands–I know that the Netherlands has delicious chocolate. I am a chocoholic, so I think I should pay this country a visit for that reason alone…

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com Castle in Germany

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
Castle in Germany

9. Germany–Who wouldn’t want to live in a castle in Germany? Maybe I’ve watched too many Disney movies. But a girl can dream.

Trip in Greece

Trip in Greece

10. Greece–I’m so excited that Greece is in the ten ten countries that visit my blog! I’ve been there once, and would love to go back. It’s a beautiful country.

Thanks to all my viewers from around the world! And to fellow bloggers, where are your viewers from? Any surprising countries?

My Favorite Place in the World (So Far)

Santorini architecture

Santorini architecture

I have not traveled nearly enough to decide indefinitely where my favorite place in the world is, but I am fortunate enough to have traveled somewhere foreign and discovered my favorite place for the time being…until I discover a new country. My favorite place in the world (so far) is Greece. It is a sunny, beautiful place with cities that are all so different from one another, the food is the best you may ever have, the people seem happy, and there are endless things to do and see. It has a culture rich with history that dates back thousands of years before the founding of my home country, and the weather is perfection if you love warmth and sunshine. For the sake of not rambling on into eternity, I will list my three favorite things about Greece, and why, if you had the opportunity to travel there, you should.

Spaghetti with feta cheese--Santorini

Spaghetti with feta cheese–Santorini

1. Food. We all love food. As a vegetarian, I was happiest in Greece. Their pasta is to die for and feta cheese is topped on everything from pasta to french fries. The Greek diet is rich with fresh fruit and vegetables, and not only is their food amazing, but coffee lovers will feel like they have died and gone to Coffee Heaven. Greece is a place where you can easily have three coffees before noon and not think twice. Be careful though: their coffee is strong, and if you’re about to be stuck on a boat for three hours, I’d limit your caffeine intake.

Near the Parthenon--Athens

Near the Parthenon–Athens

2. Scenery. If you’re a fan of sunshine all day, lush green trees, historic architecture, and the greenest, brightest sea water you’ve ever seen, then Greece is the place for you. The whole country is a photographer’s Nirvana; there are endless things to photograph, whether you’re simply a tourist or a professional photographer. The country is simply majestic.

Palace of Knossos--Crete

Palace of Knossos–Crete

3. History. The history of Greece dates back thousands of years, and the Greeks were some of the first storytellers. You’ll find museums with sculptures, paintings, and learn about the Greek theater. Anyone interested in the history of theater must go to Greece, because these guys were the first actors in history. If it weren’t for the Greeks, we wouldn’t have had Shakespeare, or Breaking Bad!

While the food, scenery, and history were my three favorite things about Greece, there are endless amazing things to experience. The country is diverse and the culture is unique and rich. The people are warm and happy. If you ever have the chance to travel to Greece, you will have the trip of a lifetime.

…because i’m a twentysomething

This blog post is filled with great advice. Even if you’re not in your
20’s, it’s an important post to read. Inspiring words and ideas. If you have dreams, go after them! This is how I’m going to live my life.

today was meaningful

when i was thirteen, i couldn’t wait to be eighteen.  i thought i’d know it all by then- have all the answers and that prized freedom. and when i was sixteen, i planned to be married by age twenty-three with two kids. i’ll always smile to myself when i think about how time changes things. and when i turned twenty four i made a list of as many goals as i had in years. by my 25th birthday, i’d accomplished them all.

and a funny thing happens about the time you turn twenty.five. people start asking about marriage and kids and houses. and you begin to worry about savings, retirement, and health insurance.  you start spending your money on plates.pots.new tires. short term sacrifices for long term gains, right? and sometimes you start to compare your 25 years with everyone else’s. you wonder if you’re on the right track because…

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