5 days in arizona

Style, Travel

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Oh, the desert. So open, old, barren, and beautiful. It was my first time experiencing this part of the country, and I felt a deep connection to it.

I’m a fan of places that make me feel small. But there was something more magical at work here.

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I split my time between Phoenix and Sedona. I rented a car. And I stayed in a different airbnb every night.

My flight to Phoenix was delayed several hours, so I lost most of my first day. That being said, I knew authentic Mexican tacos would still be waiting for me.

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Oh yeah. Tacos Chiwas is where it’s at for fresh, delicious, and cheeeeap tacos. Get the carnitas.

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Surprise! This is my little (21yo) brother, Evan. He goes to school in Phoenix and blogs for The Suns. It had been several months since we’d seen each other, and were able to catch up over dinner.

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This was my first airbnb host, JayArr, and his daughter. He was super chill. It was nice to have thought-provoking conversations with a stranger, especially when you’re staying in their house.

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I questioned if I should include a photo of my breakfast the next day, but damn, this acai bowl was just so good. Berry Divine – Tempe was the perfect place to fuel up before making the two-hour drive to Sedona.

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First of all, I highly recommend visiting Sedona. If you go, I also recommend taking SR179, or the Red Rock Scenic Byway, into town. You’ll get views like these at each wind in the road.

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All of these photos were taken by me! I bought a mini iPhone tripod on Amazon, which came with a tiny remote. It was kind of awkward at some points, because there were a few people who pointed and laughed. But to be honest, I was more concerned with getting sick pics for the blog, so I didn’t care.

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Skip the tourist shops and buy jewelry straight from the maker! Vendors like Denise travel from the Navajo Reservation and set up shop outside the Dairy Queen.

The Navajo make everything on the reservation. Every material, shape, color, animal, etc. carries a meaning, so I was given an explainer on the symbolism behind each piece! (I left with a couple necklaces for myself and a silver arrowhead for my bf.)

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Here’s my airbnb. It was a single room, detached from the main house. And as you can see, it was impeccably decorated. The city of Sedona has strict rules to prevent light pollution, so the property was a great place for stargazing. (I actually cried.)

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This was the very first time I’d ever eaten alone in a nice restaurant… and I didn’t have any anxiety! At Cafe Paleo Brio, all the ingredients are fresh, local, and organic. I decided to #treatmuhself with a steak, quinoa, and veggies.

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Sedona is known as a metaphysical place with special “vortex energy” in the red rocks, and there are plenty of shops that tap into those vibes. Which leads me to…

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My aura photo! My aura is orange, which stands for a creative adventurer. The green halo means I am a communicator who loves animals. ACCURATE? I think so! ūüôā I enjoyed my experience at¬†Mystical Bazaar for aura photography, crystal shopping, and a psychic reading.

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Here’s my tarot spread. My reading felt more personalized, as it combined a couple kinds of tarot decks, astrology, and even a chakra cleansing. (My heart chakra is the strongest!) I was able to record audio of my reading, but interpret it as you wish…

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As for mystical gifts, go to Crystal Magic! This is a little dog collar pendant for Saki. The blue lapis lazuli stone stands for harmony and friendship!

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Here’s a shot of the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Catholic church built into the red rocks back in the 1950s. It was way too crowded for me to go in, but the architecture alone was worth admiring.

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The Local Juicery: killer smoothies and bomb avocado toast. The employees helped me pick the best smoothie for the kind of day I had planned, which was a hike.

It’s also where I met a dog, that introduced me to his human, who happened to be a local tour guide.

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I asked for tips on Brins Mesa, and Jim offered to take me on a free guided hike.

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The dog’s name is White Paw. He’s half wolf and such a good boy.

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The desert was bright and blooming with wildflowers in mid-April! These were my favorite. They’re called Indian’s Paintbrush.

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After the hike, it was back to Phoenix for my next airbnb, which was advertised as a private resort experience…

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And it was.

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One of the hosts, Emma, is a retired French chef. Dinner was waiting for me when I checked in: Caribbean chicken, breaded squash, and fresh pita with various dips.

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Swimsuit from Target. (Sold out, but I like this one, too!)

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The backyard was like a mini botanical garden.

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AND there were doggies! For $65/night, this can’t be beat, so I’m linking the property¬†here.

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Holy saguaro! I planned a hike for the next morning, but accidentally ended up in the wrong park. The McDowell Mountain Regional Park is pictured above. (Who knew there was more than one park baring McDowell’s name?) Point is, it was a mistake I didn’t regret. The park was empty, and just look at these views…

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Desert plant life is fascinating. So many different kinds of cacti were on the side of this hill. And yes, it is very sharp.

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Sibling photo for Mom! Real talk though, I’m glad I wasn’t alone on this hike. Because this particular park was so totally remote, scorching hot, and we veered onto the wrong trail —¬† it was nice having a hiking buddy.

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Final day! This is part of Roosevelt Row. It’s basically an arts district in Central Phoenix where the businesses are emblazoned with murals.

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There was enough time for breakfast on the patio at Ollie Vaughn’s (biscuits and gravy on point) and quick localAF souvenir shopping at Frances before having to head back to the airport.

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Arizona will always be special to me because it was my first solo travel experience.

I know I’ll be back…

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Fake Valentine

Life, Style




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“Our culture has taken romantic relationships, a good thing, and made them into an ultimate thing.

Put relationships back in their place, and take a look at just how expansive your life is; it might be in flux, but it’s complete —¬†romantic partner or not.”

Wow. This really hit me when I read it.

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or happily (or unhappily) married, here’s an important reminder: You are enough.

Yes. You. By yourself. Are enough.

I’m telling you this because society does this thing. It fosters this romanticized idea that another person automatically makes you appear more valuable to others; that a relationship immediately attaches more meaning to your life. Suddenly, it’s more “complete.”

This is a fake concept! This is unhealthy! Stop thinking this right now!

Yeah, I am kind of yelling because I believed in that falsity for a long time. I would feel defective or inferior when I was single, or hopped from one relationship to the next, too fearful to be alone.

This lack of self-worth was driven by my own negative thought patterns, but common social interactions casually reinforce unhealthy or irrelevant expectations literally all the time.

Sometimes (oftentimes?) it happens during an innocent conversation with a relative, acquaintance, or stranger:

“Are you dating anyone?”

If the answer is no: “Really? I don’t understand why someone like you would be single, you’re so pretty/successful/(insert adjective here)!”

If the answer is yes: “How long have you been together? Is he/she “the one”? When are you going to get married?”

…Like it’s some rush to complete this perceived, proper life to-do list, and you’ve failed if you haven’t checked all the boxes.

No.

People have been conditioned to think these things matter so much, when they actually don’t. And as for the perceived need to justify the answers… it’s really not anyone else’s business.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day to justify your current life, either. Whether single or taken, you’re enough on your own.

Dress: Vintage, estate sale (but this tan midi is an option for spring). Jacket: Express. Boots: Steve Madden (similar and 40% off here).

Use Your Illusion

Life, Style


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“I want something else. I’m not even sure what to call it anymore, except I know it feels roomy and it’s drenched in sunlight and it’s weightless and I know it’s not cheap. Probably not even real.”

I read that passage on one of my favorite art/poetry sites last week, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It resonates with this feeling I constantly carry; this unexplained instinct that always feels… kind of unsettled.

Because I do¬†feel like I’m endlessly searching for something else, when “something else” is hard — maybe even impossible — to define.

Whether it’s a sense of excitement, adventure, happiness, love, passion, comfort, depth in another person, deeper meaning. A fleeting emotion, a feeling, a purpose.

Perhaps it’s a side effect of daydreams, when overt curiosity collides with too much introspection.¬†Searching for the meaning of life, some would say.

I would love to know exactly what I’m looking for, and if or when I’ll know that I’ve found it.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s like chasing a mirage.

There are times when it feels like it’s¬†just out of reach. But maybe what I’m reaching for… just isn’t real.

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Dress: Cato, kinda similar here. Hat: Cato. Boots: Kohl’s. Velvet choker: for $6 here!

Trial By Fire

Life, Style, Travel

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There’s this universal piece of advice when it comes to personal growth. Do something that scares you.

Well, I find this to be absolutely terrifying: traveling alone.

I consider myself pretty independent. But as much as I enjoy my alone time, I’m sometimes too intimidated to be in public by myself. It’s something that’s kind of embarrassing to openly admit, but I typically need someone to motivate me to get ready and get out of the house.

Call it anxiety. Call it depression. Call it laziness. But I’ll shrink away from experiencing something cool if it means doing it solo. I’ve skipped out on meals, concerts, events, certain hikes — and vacations.

News alert: Fuck. That.

So I’m putting myself up to a massive personal challenge this year (and no, it is not joining a gym).

I will travel alone in 2018.

Because I am done with feeling like I’m missing out. And I’m especially done waiting on other people.

This applies to family members, partners, or friends. Reality check: Of course we all operate on limited time, money, and vacation days. (A perk of modern American living, isn’t it? Ugh.) But in some cases, I’ve suggested various excursions for years — only to be consistently shut down.¬†So I guess I just won’t go.

But hold up. Why should someone else’s bullshit excuses suddenly become mine? What’s the point of sacrificing hurt feelings when I can just… do it myself?

As a woman, traveling alone can seem vulnerable, and scary, or maybe not so smart. But it can also be an exhilarating life experience that stretches one’s perceived capabilities. I’ll go with the latter.

So whether it’s a weekend or a week. Domestic or international. This year, I will travel somewhere alone. And it will likely scare me. But I will document it on this blog.¬†Hopefully, you’ll hold me to it… but I’m already researching destinations.

Here’s to girls doing whatever the fuck they¬†want in 2018.¬†Either join or be left behind.

PS — To my adventurous friends, where do you want to travel this year? (Let’s plan something?!) To the solo travelers, shoot me a line with your advice!

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Sweater: Gifted (Thanks, Mom!), but this one looks super comfy. Jeans: Kohl’s. Boots: Kohl’s (major bonus: ortholite comfort insoles), similar here. Hat: Target. Bag: Thrifted, Goodwill.

2017: A Metamorphosis

Life, Style

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Welcome to the end of another year.

As if we’ve wandered through time and space — blissfully, or maybe miserably — unaware of the past 364 days, it’s suddenly society’s time to reflect.

Our accomplishments. The difficulties we endured. Famous people we loved and lost. (Still mourning Tom Petty and Chris Cornell.)¬†The unhealthy habits we developed… or never dropped.

Much like we drift through space, oblivious that we’re actually moving 67,000 miles per hour, it seems like society meanders through time on autopilot — incognizant of the passing days — and collectively, what they meant.

What happened? What did I do? Shit, time to assign some meaning to my life!

However, I’ve thought this many times throughout 2017: What a transformative year.

I moved to a new city, started a new job, and channeled enough courage to create this blog. But when reflecting, I can’t help but incorporate the past several years to get a better picture of personal growth.

In 2014, some traumatic experiences changed me forever, followed by a very dark period of depression in 2015. I was encouraged to seek help in 2016, and made strategic moves to get back on track. Finally, 2017 felt like hitting a stride towards a happier and more fulfilling existence.

That seems like something to celebrate. But full disclosure, I plan to quietly ring in the new year at home with Saki. (In case you didn’t know, she’s my little sidekick in the pictures!)

It’s been years since I partied into oblivion and greeted January 1st with a lack of conscious awareness. But I do spend more time than I’d like to admit outside of the present moment. And that brings me to the point I want to make about the year ahead.

I want 2018 to be more mindful. Intentional. Less escapism through apps and technology. More deliberate, and less apologetic.

At 12:01, nothing will be strikingly different, except maybe our attitudes.

Happy New Year!

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Dress: Asos. (Intergalactic and extra AF! But you could wear this one anywhere.) Boots: Asos. Ring: Flea market. Dog: Shelter. #adoptdontshop