I’m about a month and a half late in doing this, but better late than never, right?

I started out my 26th year with 26 goals. How well did I do? Guess you’ll have to read to find out!

BEHOLD: Pictorial proof that I accomplished 15 of the 26. Ones in bold are ones that did not get accomplished.

1. Hike a 14er – my friend who said she’d take me didn’t… so hopefully this summer

2. Canoe/kayak Dillon Reservoir – Colorado is in the middle of a major drought. I don’t have pictures but I probably could have walked around in the water of Dillon Reservoir it was that shallow. So no canoeing for this girl.
3. Go to the Sundance Film Festival – I talked about going with The Lawyer, but then both of us got a significant other, so it was forgotten.
4. Snowshoe in RMNP – I did this TWICE! And to the exact same trail… the park is 415 square miles and I went to the same trail twice in a week… clearly I need to get better about planning this stuff.

5. Fall in love – This is worthy of its own post, and was technically a month late of the one-year goal, but it happened 🙂

6. Get the full bonus amounts at work each quarter – When I started my job, I thought it would be more about my work and productivity, so this was important. Little did I realize that it had everything to do with the guys in the field and how well they did that would determine the outcome of my bonuses. But I got to go to the field twice, which was always a treat– including having to wear a men’s size large of coveralls. (I don’t have permission to post pics of my coworkers, so please ignore the blacked-out faces)

7. Go to Cheyanne Mountain Zoo – The Roommate and I went here after we accomplished #8. What a fun zoo and experience!
8. Have brunch at the Broadmoore – I don’t know if I can fully describe just how over-priced that brunch was, but at least I had a fun companion and ate till I felt I was about to burst since it was a buffet and I insisted I get my money’s worth!
9. Grow a lush garden – I don’t know if I can eat store-bought lettuce ever again! We did have a broccoli plant that we neglected and went to seed. It was actually quite beautiful, but got really top-heavy and fell over and uprooted itself… oops! I didn’t get any pictures of the end result, so you’ll recognize the pictures from this post:

10. Learn to roast a chicken – Didn’t do this… I find chicken boring so being motivated to roast it didn’t happen. But I love the roasted chicken from Costco, so I want to at least try it once to see if it’s worth doing it myself or keep only spending $5 to get it.
11. Travel somewhere that requires my passport – This didn’t happen, but I DID go to four states, so it half-counts since I accomplished #12 four times! I’m going to two countries this year (maybe more if timing works right for my trip to France in the fall), so I’m making up for it this year.
12. Travel somewhere outside of the state – Balboa Island in California, Chicago, Orlando, and New York City– and they all happened in the last half of the year.


Balboa Island, California


Top of the Hitchcock Building, Chicago


Who’s ready to see Micky and Minnie?


Central Park, New York

13. Eat at least one thing a week from our CSA bag – I didn’t keep good notes on this, but it was always in the back of my mind… I’m pretty sure I did this. I even made baba ganoush with the eggplants we got!
14. Learn to grill the perfect steak – Thanks to reading a lot of grilling books, watching Americas Test Kitchen, and getting some pointers from The Roommate’s dad, I can say I now know how to cook a perfect steak, on the grill or on the stove/broiler
15. Throw at least one party/get-together a month – If I missed a month, then the next month had more than one party, so it made up for it!

16. Have a reason to wear each of my three LBD’s – Wicked with the girls, TJ’s wedding, and dinner at The London by Gordon Ramsey with Company Ink in New York (so I actually wore one of them twice… I still count it as three!)


Girls night out to see “Wicked”


TJ’s wedding with my sister!


After the most delicious dinner of my life in New York!

17. Go on a full-moon snowshoe hike – As mentioned in #2, Colorado was in a drought. So to find a time that it had just snowed, hadn’t warmed up enough to melt it all, AND be a full moon was pretty near-impossible. Maybe next season…
18. Treat myself to a shopping-spree for new clothes for work – I never did an actual shopping spree, but whenever I found a piece of clothing I liked, I would buy it. I’m not good about treating myself to things like that, so I count it as a win!
19. Go to at least one concert – LMFAO for a friend’s birthday, Gotye (where we sat in the 3rd row!) with my sister and her BFF, and Aimee Mann with my mom:



photo (3)
20. See fireworks in DC – They did fireworks at the City and County Building in downtown Denver, but not in Glendale where they have the best ones. I also saw the fireworks at Disney, which I was slightly disappointed in, but I should be happy I got to see any at all… but for the record, Glendale’s fireworks are the BEST!

21. Go hiking with my parents at least once this summer – My mom has 3 jobs, so hiking rarely happened. But I did go hiking with the guy I went on the blind date with. So I’m counting it as a win!

22. Jump in a pile of freshly-raked leaves – The leaves on my tree are lame for jumping in, and Company Ink took his away to add to mulch piles before I could jump in his… and everyone else I know lives in an apartment so they don’t have trees to rake because of. Major fail 😦
23. Ride my bike every day to work in the summer – I need a new bike. And a better system of getting out of the near-impossible garage that we park our bikes in. So I only rode a few times. Once I get a lighter bike (seriously, my current one weighs about as much as I do!), I will definitely ride more. Plus, I might have more riding buddies this year, so that always helps.
24. Make limoncello –  I looked up a recipe and video on how to make it… does that count? I will make it soon and have it in time for summer and sitting on our porch and looking at our great view of the mountains!
25. Go to a game for each of the Denver professional sports teams (except the Nuggets– I hate basketball) – As of last night, I actually succeeded in going to a Nuggets game! Boy can Company Ink be persuasive! But I did go to a Broncos game twice– once with my family and once with work people, a Rockies game with The Lawyer, and an Avalanche game with Company Ink. It sure does help that our company pays for a box so we always have tickets available for the Avs!

26. Write my 3rd NaNoWriMo novel in November – This was covered in this post. But 2013 will see the awesome comeback of me as a novelist!

Even though I only accomplished 58% of my goal list, here are some other things I did:

Met famous people:


Angelo from Top Chef

Went to Wicked twice:

We totally won the Best Dressed award!

We totally won the Best Dressed award!

Danced in the Denver Pride Parade with Colorado AIDS Project, the organization I volunteer for:


Rode in the Denver Cruiser Duct Tape and Cardboard night:


Chopped my hair off:

photoMade home-made sushi with The Roommate and Company Ink:

photo (2)And saw a ton of elk while driving through Estes Park and driving across Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park:


And lots of other things that I didn’t get a picture of 🙂

Hopefully I’ll make a new list for this year. But seeing how long it took me to write this post, don’t hold your breath!

Life has been absolutely crazy lately, and I want to take a moment to breathe and express my gratitude about where my life is right now.

At this time last year, I was in a job that I loathed. The office was described by my fellow-coworkers as toxic, crazy-making, and just downright miserable. But now I am in a job where my boss regularly acknowledges my contributions, I’m respected by my coworkers, the new engineer’s manager even said to all of the engineers that he was so glad that I was a part of that team because I bring so much value to it! It still makes me smile just thinking about that. Towards the end, I never smiled at my old job. There was nothing happy and my contributions were never acknowledged. It’s such a breath of fresh air to finally be in a place where I’m treated like an adult and respected as a valuable member of the office.

Plus, they sent me to Williston again to continue learning about what the engineers do on a day-to-day basis and to learn more about what our company does. I went in February where I nearly froze to death (and coinsidentally is the first time I met Company Ink!) but I had just started at that job 2 weeks before– so I was still pretty unfamiliar with the intricacies of our work/company and I didn’t know any of the engineers yet. But I was reminded that I take quality half-way decent restaurants in Denver for granted…

While The Roommate is gone for the next month and a half, which I miss her so much so I’m packing my life full of other things so I don’t have to think about it too much or be at the house by my house too often (denial really is a beautiful thing), I’ve been spending quality time with friends, family, and Company Ink.

I’ve gone to Chicago to visit my old college roommate, I went to Balboa Island in California with my family (no one wanted to kill each other by the end of it, so that is a definite success!), and got to spend an evening while we were there with a few of my cousins who I only have interaction via facebook, but don’t really know them at all.

Company Ink and I even spent a weekend up in Beaver Creek to look at the foliage. It was our first weekend getaway together and it was so much fun (although I got a little drunk… stupid altitude messing with my already lightweight-ness!). So New York for a long weekend is definitely in our near future… 😉

And I’m getting ready to go to Florida for a week with some friends to go to Disney World the day after my BFF’s little sister gets married (congrats TJ!) Wow, the wedding is a week from today and I leave for DW a week from tomorrow… I have a lot of packing and shopping to do! Hopefully my friends’ children behave relatively well and we all walk away still being friends. I went to Disney World when I was 6 and I have a vague recollection of it– plus, I’ve heard it’s completely different so it doesn’t really matter! Watch out Mickey and Minnie– here I come!

I know I can take the simple things for granted in my life, but taking a moment to reflect on where my life was only a year ago really takes my breath away. Now if only The Roommate would get back from Europe– then things would be perfect! (P.S. Roommate, in case it isn’t clear, I really really miss you! I cannot wait for you to get home so we can have normal face-to-face conversations and have major, quality boy-talk!)

Anyone have any positive things going on in their life they’d like to share?


Consider this my acknowledgement of the fact that I haven’t posted since… holy crap! August 10! And that was the day that so much happened 🙂

Anyway, I have a lot of boy-related news to share with you. And I’m apologizing in advance: this is kind of long. But I didn’t want to make you wait to hear all the details by making this a multi-part story.

For those of you who may have forgotten where we left off, I last told you all that I finally admitted my crush on my coworker. I’m calling him Company Ink (CI for short) for now until I think of a better nickname. Well, after inviting me over to his house that next night to watch a movie (which we actually watched, thankyouverymuch!), we spent hours making out on his couch.

I then proceeded to spend every available moment with him the rest of the weekend.

The most amazing part about everything is just how normal and natural it all feels. That anticipation as he leaned in for the first kiss– since I was finally sending the “I’m truly interested” and “OMG! Kiss me!” signals– and everything has flowed without any hesitation. Spending the entire weekend with him didn’t feel overwhelming or like we were going to fizzle out once reality hit (aka work the next day).

Even when we went rock climbing with his good friends on that Sunday, it was not a big deal that we were dating. It made sense to them and was kind of expected. Apparently, he had been lamenting to these friends about how he couldn’t figure out if I liked him or not, and even got them involved in trying to figure me out… As I explained to CI later, it wasn’t that I didn’t like him. It was the fact that I work with him that was my big hold-up. So they were never going to figure me out!

We’ve had quite a good laugh over how I just couldn’t figure out what to do. And my mom was appalled about just how mixed my signals actually were: I invited him over to my house to watch a movie in the middle of the day, but then cancelled on dinner when he was clearly asking me out on a date. I went to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival with him, but would drag coworkers along with us when he asked me to go to lunch. And that’s just the beginning. He sure is lucky (and relieved) I finally made up my mind!

My biggest anxiety about dating him was the fact that WE WORK TOGETHER! But come to find out? It’s really no big deal. I see him in the hallway, I chat with him just like I had before, and we give each other quick pecks on the lips when no one is around. (Let me just state for the record: soundless, quick kisses are completely disappointing… but that’s what we have to do for now since we still haven’t told anyone at work yet). So far, there’s not much difference between before and now– which is exactly like it should be. We have been able to maintain our professional/business relationship and keep our personal life outside of work hours. Well, except for the covert pinch I gave him in the elevator with all our coworkers around 😉

I’m really happy with how things have gone and it’s happened like I would have wanted– I was friends with him for almost 9 months before something romantic happened. Meaning: we were friends first. We know we can talk easily, we have a lot in common, and we connect on a deeper level than just physical attraction. I’ve dated guys where there really was no depth, and it was so unsatisfying on an emotional level. Instead, now I have someone I know I like to talk to and we can spend hours talking and hanging out– and it’s never strained or filled with awkward silences.

One of my favorite things has been that making plans has not felt stifling or overwhelming. He emailed me a link the other day that had a hotel deal in the mountains that we can go away for the weekend. So in a few weeks, I’ll be in Beaver Creek enjoying the views of the changing aspen trees and wandering a ski town I’ve never been to. We’re also talking about going to New York City for a weekend some time in November. Our company has every other Friday off, so it makes it really easy to plan long-weekend getaways really easily! He even told me, after a second-failed attempt to win “Book of Mormon” tickets, that we could just go see it on Broadway when we’re there…

So after spending most weekends together (when one of us isn’t out of town) and a couple of nights a week, we finally had THE talk.

We had spent 8 hours at Wash Park on Labor Day with a bunch of friends. My sister was introducing CI to her friends and she ended it with “he and my sister are…. dating?” He told me about the conversation on Tuesday and that was the catalyst that was needed to talk about what we were calling each other/what we were doing. We’d talked a couple of weeks ago about what we were looking for, so we knew at least we were on the same page there.

So, over some mediocre sushi, CI officially became my boyfriend!

To continue our natural progression of our relationship, even that conversation was simple, easy, and natural. It wasn’t dramatic or anxiety-filled. We knew we liked each other, we’ve been spending a lot of time together, and we want things to go to the next level.

Even though I don’t really like labels, especially that of boyfriend/girlfriend, because they sound cheesy and weird (which I explained to my mom that I now understand why Dan Savage calls Terry his “huuusband” on his podcast) I call CI my “buhfriend” (it sounds better if you hear it).

Company Ink has already been to 2 family nights, and tonight will be the third. It’s also the last family dinner The Roommate will be at for a while, but that’s for another post. I’m basking in the happy thoughts of me and CI and I’ll get to the “I’m really going to miss her” emotions and blogging tomorrow.

For now, I’m happy 🙂

Zak graciously let me steal this idea from him, and I wanted to share it with you all. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, because they all seem cliche and I forget all about them in about 3 days. However, when it comes to my birthday, I seem to have no trouble contemplating my future.

I want this next year, my 26th year, to be one of the best ever! I want to do and see things that either A) I’ve never done before or B) should do more often. I live in one of the best outdoor-activity states and I rarely take advantage of having the mountains less than 30 minutes from my house.

So, without further ado, here are my 26 to-do’s for my 26th year:

  1. Hike a 14er
  2. Canoe/kayak Dillon Reservoir
  3. Go to the Sundance Film Festival
  4. Snowshoe in RMNP
  5. Fall in love
  6. Get the full bonus amounts at work each quarter
  7. Go to Cheyanne Mountain Zoo
  8. Have brunch at the Broadmoore
  9. Grow a lush garden
  10. Learn to roast a chicken
  11. Travel somewhere that requires my passport
  12. Travel somewhere outside of the state
  13. Eat at least one thing a week from our CSA bag
  14. Learn to grill the perfect steak
  15. Throw at least one party/get-together a month
  16. Have a reason to wear each of my three LBD’s
  17. Go on a full-moon snowshoe hike
  18. Treat myself to a shopping-spree for new clothes for work
  19. Go to at least one concert
  20. See fireworks in DC
  21. Go hiking with my parents at least once this summer
  22. Jump in a pile of freshly-raked leaves
  23. Ride my bike every day to work in the summer
  24. Make limoncello
  25. Go to a game for each of the Denver professional sports teams (except the Nuggets– I hate basketball)
  26. Write my 3rd NaNoWriMo novel in November

Come February 28 (ONE WEEK!!!), let the games begin 🙂 I’d love it if I could cross off every single one of these– wish me luck!

I just got back last night from a 3-day stint in North Dakota… it was for work– I would never go there voluntarily!

I spent the entire time praying my fingers and nose wouldn’t freeze and fall off. The high yesterday was -1 degrees if that gives you any indication of just how freaking cold it was!

However, it was one of the most informative trips I have ever taken! I got to see first-hand what it is that my company does and what each person does. I had a vague (and inaccurate) idea in my head, so it was good to see everyone in action and get explanations of what each person was doing and why.

My company does fracing, which is necessary to produce oil and natural gas from the ground. I’ve spent the last three years at a company who pays companies like mine to do their drilling and completion (aka fracing), so being on the service side of everything has been very educational. I got to see first-hand what my friend, and ex-coworker, did when he was sent to Texas for months on end a few years ago.

The other great thing about my trip was being able to put faces to names of people I work with. At my old company, I worked with (and interacted via email or the phone on a weekly, if not daily, basis) our superintendent in Utah who I never met– not once! To this day, I have no idea what he looks like. But with this trip, I got to meet every single person I’ll be interacting with. It’s amazing how knowing what someone looks like helps you connect with them more.

I also got to tour a drilling rig while we were out there. The guy took us on an extensive tour (including showing us their break room… yeah, I don’t know why either…) but then we got to stand on the platform where they were tripping— I felt smug about being the only person in our group who knew what the hell he was talking about and knew what they were doing and why.

Writing out drilling reports was the first thing I did when I started helping the engineering department (more specifically, the drilling engineer) way back when. So, of everything I saw and did, seeing the drilling reports come to life was probably the most exciting thing I saw. In all fairness, fracing doesn’t give drilling much competition– besides touring the drilling rig and trying not to freeze to death– I spent my days in the frac van watching a giant monitor with a bunch of squiggly lines, the tubes and lines already placed at the wellhead so there was nothing to watch outside. So watching guys grab 40’+ lengths of tubing and placing them in a machine to be drilled miles into the earth was waaaay more interesting!

I’m loving my job and  have learned more in the last 3 weeks then I could have ever imagined! I have the drilling and completion engineers to thank for my initial education. I’m also getting a more education from the completion engineer, even though I don’t work with him any more– I have about a dozen emails from him with things to read about fracing and the process of completing a well.

I’m feeling so light and happy about my life and work right now. I know part of it is based on the fact that I’m no longer unemployed, but the fact that I was offered a job at a place that respects and values their employees so much is such a strange phenomenon to me, that I didn’t realize just how unhappy I was. I only hope my friends at my old job can find work at different companies that make them just as happy as I am (because my old company is a soul-sucking vacuum of egos and assholes).

Life is so good right now, I’m excited to see what the next few months have in store for me!

It surprises people when I tell them that, although I am comfortable in a familiar situation or with familiar people, I am incredibly shy.

Paralyzingly shy.

Most people are unaware of this fact because as soon as I find someone I know or I finally relax, I turn into a chatty-Cathy. I pride myself on a pretty good conversationalist, so once I relax enough to talk to you, you’d never know my initial hesitation to approach you.

Let me give you an example: If I go to a networking happy hour, I spend the first 10-15 minutes standing awkwardly by the bar watching (and envying) groups of people who know each other, or are at least more at ease in these situations, chat and have a great time.

Only after a while do I start to relax or do I finally muster up the courage to talk to someone standing near me. Once I have that person I’m comfortable with, I spend the rest of the evening chatting with everyone, no hesitation present.

Even with my initial shyness (which = dread), I continue to go to these networking happy hours. Not only do they potentially help me in my career, they push me completely out of my comfort zone.

And for some bizarre reason, putting myself into situations that are scary, comfort zone-shattering, and awkward really empowers me.

That probably explains why I went to Spain all by myself. And why I go to these happy hours by myself. And why I move every year.

Beyond the empowering feeling, I’ve been trying to figure out the underlying WHY I do this to myself.  I mean, besides the fact that I’ve been able to meet some incredible people, do amazing things,  see things I’d never imagined I would see, and learn things I would never have learned otherwise.

Why do I not just stay in my comfort zone where it’s safe, protected, and predictable?

It’s safe there. It’s predictable. There’s nothing to fear, and…

It’s boring!

I fear becoming complacent, which might be an issue in and of itself, but I think it’s my true motivator. I want to be a dynamic person. I love being busy and doing lots of different things and if that involves putting myself out there, then so be it.

I’m a huge fan of meetup.com and all the different groups you can join. When I was first single, I went to a bunch of the events planned. I met a lot of people and went and experienced parts of Denver I never knew about before.

I love pushing myself and trying new things. If I were to sit at home and watch tv and movies all day, I would have hardly anything to bring to the table– except for a memorization of the tv guide.

Going new places, trying new things, meeting new people– that seems like the perfect life. If that involves moving to another city/state/country, changing jobs, joining new groups– bring it on!

I have a personal motto that revolves around the idea of never saying no to something new. It has helped immensely in my dating life, because I’ve gotten many a free meal from saying yes to any date. But I’ve also met an array of different people because of that. But it can even be as simple as trying new foods– escargot, anyone?

If you push yourself to do something that scares you, you grow as a person and you also walk away from the situation knowing you did something new. Challenging yourself in ways that you never have before changes you–how could you not want that?

I love change and I love trying new things. If I don’t change, I’ll never know the immense world I’m missing!

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time! I went with my sister, The Roommate, and another friend of ours to the mountains for the weekend. It’s weekends like this one that remind me why living in Denver is the best place in the world to live– 30 minutes you’re in the mountains and only an hour more and you’re in the some of the most beautiful mountain towns in the world!

Three of the four of us signed up for the Warrior Dash that was held at Copper Mountain. I’ve never run a race in my life. I’ve done the Race for the Cure, but I walked/sauntered that, so it doesn’t count.

We went to Kelly Liken’s restaurant (remember her from Top Chef? Yeah, her) for dinner the night before and spent way too much money, but thankfully the food was well worth it!

We got up early the next day and all put on our matching outfits. My sister was our sole cheerleader, and designated purse-and-all-other-random-crap holder for the morning.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned on here that I hate running. I’ve gotten (slightly) more into it because The Roommate is an avid runner so it gave me the motivation to try it out when I started living with her. You know, that whole peer pressure thing, it’s a b*tch! I then was talked into signing up for the Warrior Dash because it’s only 3 miles and it’s just a giant obstacle course! Since I’m easily persuaded, I signed up, paid my money, and anticipated August 21 like it was the end of the world.

The funny thing is that we all signed up months ago, and I told myself that it was perfect because I would have that time to start running more and “train.” Sometimes I forget just how naive I can be… Summer hit, which is bike-to-work time of the year for me, and it also became it’s-too-damn-hot-out-to-run time… I signed up for the Dash and ran maaaaybe twice since then…

So when we drove up to Vail, I started feeling anxious about the fact that, although I’d been riding my bike pretty consistently, I was not at all in running shape. I have yet to run a full 2.5 miles without stopping (in all fairness, my knee goes all wonky and hurts like hell after about 2 miles). So this looming 3 mile “race” at over 9,000 feet started to weigh on me.

But race-day came, The Roommate got us all pumped up, and right before the fire told us to “go” (no, there was no gun– there were flames!), I had to remind The Roommate that neither me nor our friend are marathon runners and she’s welcome to run as fast as she can, but she’ll be running alone. Thankfully we all kept a similar pace– whether walking or running– throughout the whole race.

The obstacles, overall, were not that difficult. However, I have to admit that more than once I had the thought “if I were to slip and fall, I would probably crack my skull open…”

But the worst obstacle– the least physically difficult of them all– was the most difficult psychologically. THE MUD PIT. The Roommate and I had been equally dreading the experience of running through the mud since we looked up the event 6 months ago.


On our hands.

In our faces.

On our clothes.

I don’t tend to think of myself as a girly-girl, but when it came to this, let the stereotypes fly! Ewwww! I was going to get dirty! I’m a bit ashamed to admit my resistance to the idea of being covered from head to toe in mud, but it’s true. I could barely stand the thought, let alone actually go through with the race.

So as we ran, we had that obstacle to look forward to. And as we came around a bend, we saw it. A big, giant mud pool. Not just a pit. No, no. It was a pool. Mud water. And we had to SWIM through it. There was no gingerly stepping through it or walking along the edges to get the least amount on us. There was barbed wire across the top, so you had to submerge your body in the mud and swim yourself across.

I’ve never been more grossed out in my life.

We then had to spend the remaining 2 miles covered in mud, trying to get our clothes to dry at least a little, and make it to the finish line. It then added a bit more difficulty and suspense because now, not only were you thinking about not losing your balance and cracking your skull, you had the risk of your shoes or hands slipping and falling to your death. Good times!

But I have to say, leaping over two back-to-back fire pits and sprinting towards the finish line (because The Roommate could not tolerate running at a moderate speed any longer) was extremely satisfying. If nothing else, I knew there were showers just around the corner to rinse all the disgusting mud off, and that’s what pulled me towards the finish line.

Thankfully my sister was right there at the finish line to get a superb picture of the three of us, our pink zebra-print shorts now a uniformed color of brown, holding hands across the finish line!

I probably wont be signing up for any more races or marathons any time soon, but for my first race ever, it was a pretty fun, albeit dirty, experience!

And my apologies to the cleaning crew at our hotel… the mud should come out!



I’m sure you’re sitting on the edge of your seats, wondering: one, if I’m still alive, and two, how my trip went.

Because I’m posting this, I can assure you that I was not kidnapped, like in Taken, or murdered like in Hostel. I’ve never seen Hostel, but I’ve been told that it’s one of the goriest movies people have ever seen… I’ll take their word for it.

Anyway… my trip was FABULOUS! I loved the entire experience, even though there were some rough spots here and there. But those down moments were the ones that helped strengthen me and help me grow while on the trip. Overall, I am so immensely glad I took the trip– and took it alone. A lot of people, especially women, have told me they could never travel by themselves but I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I could possibly see a desire for constant/reliable companionship that comes with traveling with a friend/significant other, but even that can be fixed by staying in hostels where there are dozens of solo travelers wanting to meet new people as well.

My new friends in my Barcelona hostel

I learned a TON on my trip. When talking to my counselor about what I had learned, I listed three lessons I had learned:

1) There is no right answer to everything;

2) There is always an alternative solution to a problem; and

3) The only thing holding me back is me.

Of the three lessons, the first one is the one that has stuck out the most in my head– and will continue to have an impact on my life from here on out.

I strive to be “perfect” and always do everything right. I act as though it’s my purpose in life to be the “perfect girlfriend,” “perfect sister,” “perfect friend,” and “perfect daughter.” The way I see it, there is always a right way to be, right things to do, and right ways to live life (and alternately, clear wrong ways to do all of the above as well).

This trip helped me strip that mentality from my thought process. Going on this trip and being able to plan and do what I wanted, when I wanted helped me embrace “what do I want?” There was no one there to tell me that what I wanted to do was boring, stupid, a waste of time/money. I could do things just because I wanted to.

This idea finally solidified itself in my mind on my second day in Barcelona. I had just spent my morning wandering around the Picasso Museum– a “must-see” according to my guide-book. [It was definitely worth it, so if you’re ever in Barcelona, I highly recommend it] However, just a couple blocks up the road was a Chocolate Museum (Museu de la Xocolata). Rick Steve’s gave it a less-than-enthusiastic description and I had never heard anyone mention it’s existence when talking about what to see in Barcelona.

Chocolate Museum, Barcelona

But I love chocolate. And I wanted to go. So I went.

Simple as that. I went because I wanted to, and because I could. It ended up being not very interesting, but I didn’t really care because I wanted to see for myself what was in the museum dedicated to one of my favorite things on the planet. Plus, I had delicious chocolate at end of it while people-watching in the cafe. It was such a tangible example in my head, even as I sat, drinking my chocolate, that this is what I needed to do more of in my life.

I need to do what I want to do, and more importantly, not care what others think about those decisions. Going to some cheesy Chocolate Museum in Spain is very low on the “must-sees” of Barcelona, and I could have worried about what people would say about me having gone there, but I didn’t. I held my head high, paid for my ticket, and walked around learning the history of chocolate and marveling at chocolate sculptures.

There was no right answer as to whether or not I should go to that museum. There was no right answer about anything I went and saw in Spain. It was my trip, and I could see what I wanted to see, and what other people said or thought didn’t matter.

The desire to do “right” will probably always be a struggle, but I now have an experience to hold on to that shows me that it doesn’t matter what choices I make– they’re my choices and desires; and other people’s choices, desires, or opinions of my choices/desires are none of my concern. I need to live my life the way I want to live it.

And just because I want to share another picture, I will share a picture from my tour of the Alhambra in Granada. It was pouring rain my entire time in Granada, but the Alhambra was one of my favorite experiences of my entire trip!

The Alhambra, Granada

For you  non-Spanish speakers, the title means “I’m going to go to Spain”

GAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! I’m freaking out a little bit (I stood in the middle of my living room freaking out by squatting down and standing back up about 1500 times  in front of my roommate and her boyfriend when I bought my plane ticket if that gives you any sort of idea). I leave a week from today to go on vacation BY MYSELF! I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t do things like this.

And yet, here I am, planning a trip, making reservations for one, being able to go and do whatever I want whenever I want while on vacation in the beautiful country of Spain.

I could spend the next three hours writing about everything I’m freaking out about, what I’m nervous about, and how completely insecure I feel about my Spanish-speaking abilities. However, I want to process something else that has continued to rattle around in my head when I’ve been thinking about going on this trip.

An ex-boyfriend of mine has one of the most interesting lives of anyone I know– he’s lived all over the country, traveled extensively all over the world, worked for a while in Antarctica, and spends his time learning and doing really interesting things, including brewing his own beer. The last time he was in town, we went to get drinks and I asked him why he did everything he did–  why he took jobs in the coldest place in the world, why he had a vat of beer sitting in his closet for weeks. His response was “I do interesting things because it makes me an interesting person.”

That statement has been at the forefront of my mind a lot these last few weeks as I’ve been planning my trip. Going on this trip is completely out of character for me, but only if I make it that way. I could be the girl who travels alone because she wants to and can, the girl who is adventurous and is (learning to be) extroverted. I constantly tell myself that I’m “not” something– I’m not a runner, I’m not creative, I’m not handy, and I’m not adventurous. However, I go at least once a week to run around Wash Park, my roommate and I have numerous canvases around our house that we painted, we eat dinner at a dining room table that we built from scratch, and I’m about to go on vacation by myself to a country where I don’t speak the language.

If I keep telling myself that I’m “not” those things, then it will never be true. I will constantly see those things that I’ve done as flukes, once in a lifetime kind of actions; instead, I could see them as the development of myself into a more interesting person, a richer, deeper person who has numerous interests, hobbies, and isn’t afraid of a challenge. If I embrace being more interesting, I will surround myself with people who are interesting. More importantly, I will feel more satisfied about who I am as a person instead of who I think I am but do these “fluke” things.

So I think this trip will be about embracing the new sides of myself and proudly announcing that I AM interesting and that I did those interesting things that  are because that’s the kind of woman I am– not because I just happened to read an interesting idea online or just happened to buy a plane ticket to a foreign country.

I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more about myself than just that, but I really hope to finally be okay with woman I am and the woman I’m growing into. This is a unique journey that I am going on, and I hope to come out of it stronger and wiser.

Here’s to being an interesting, richer, deeper, more secure woman! Salud!

Only being 24 years old kind of makes this a hard thing to answer because there are a lot of things I want to do that I don’t feel like it is too late to do– to label as “wish I had done” instead of “want to do.”

There is a time in my life that is over and I can never go back to that I have one regret over. I had the opportunity, as almost all college students do, to study abroad. I planned on doing it from day one, but ended up talking myself out of it because I knew, all I really wanted to do was to travel.

I looked up schools in England (London more specifically), and researched how close they were to the Chunnel/airport/etc. to be able to take weekend trips to mainland Europe. That was a huge sign for me that my heart wasn’t truly in the experience to learn, but to travel. However, looking back, I know that I still could have done a lot of traveling, even if I had classes to go to. In talking to others who have studied abroad, traveling is all they seemed to do!

My heart’s desire is to travel the world, and I regret not taking the opportunity when it was presented to me to explore the world in such a unique way. So I guess I’ll just have to make up for lost time and find an ideal travel partner and travel the world together!

(But it would have been so much better doing it on the school’s time…)

Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life