Friday Favorites!


As much as I’ve loved this short work week, I’ve fallen behind a little with reading my favorite blogs this week. Hopefully next week I’ll get back on track!

Next week is officially my last week of work in sunny California. Dave and I are taking some much needed time off to get through our California Bucket List and we have some exciting travels coming up.

We’re going to Seattle to find our new place, Chicago to say goodbye to my childhood home (my parents recently sold it), a wedding in North Carolina (our first time to the Carolinas), and a camping and road trip to Zion National Park to hike the Narrows again.

And I’m excited because some of my favorite bloggers are going to take over for the week that I will be gone the week of Sept 21st – 25th. Thanks in advance girls!

Here are some of my favorite links from this week: the-new-youScreen-Shot-2015-02-23-at-9.36.55-PM

I need to work on a few of these things but I think this is a great list and a place to start.

the-new-you1There is a new trend popping up in a few cities (Seattle, San Fran, Ashville, Boston, Madison) where there will be parks full of free fruit for the taking. I love this idea and hope it catches on all over!



Have you guys seen this video with this adorable elderly couple at the airport? They are so sweet and I just love this.


I love Amy Schumer and I’m also a fan of Hilary Clinton. She was born in Chicago and she’s done so much for our country in so many capacities. I’m not going to get political but she’s got an impressive resume and you can’t deny that. This picture makes me smile. They were on Ellen together recently, how fun!amy-schumer-01-600


Yesterday I saw that my friend Kathleen posted on her Facebook an article she and her boyfriend did with Tiny House Talk . It’s been one year since they traded city living with a 140 foot camper in Colorado. They were my first interview on my series and I’m so proud of them! 🙂


What fun things are you guys up to this weekend? See you all on Monday back here friends.

As always I’m linking up with these lovlies:

Hill Collection and Running 4 Cupcakes




Interview Series ft. Carrie: 8 Countries in 6 Weeks, Part 2

date_-01-january-30004Here is Part 2 of Carrie’s interview where she talks about happiness and her career. If you missed Part 1 of her interview you can find it here. Quick recap, she took a year off school, traveled to 8 countries in 6 weeks in Southeast Asia and now is a reporter, show host, freelance journalist, and photographer. You can learn more about her on her blog!It'syourday!(2)It'syourday!(1)

 I think the most important thing I learned about me and my happiness is that simple is better. I’m a planner and a goal setter by nature. Those are great qualities, but when they’re obsessed upon they can cause a lot of grief. Complicated is exciting and sexy and fun to talk about, but simple is where it’s at for me. Being content in a moment is truly a wonderful feeling. I have found the same amount of happiness sitting on a beautiful beach in south Indonesia as I have sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee and a book in my hand. I wouldn’t trade either of those times for anything.
It'syourday!It most definitely did. I once heard it said that travel is the only thing you can spend your money on that makes you richer. As a young person out of college only a year a think a lot of people stress investing your money in things that will benefit you in the long run (real estate, stocks, etc.) those are all great things and I believe in them all whole-heartedly, but don’t forget to also invest in YOURSELF, and in the person you want to become. All of my travels were expensive, but I always came back a newer, usually better version of myself.
 There’s a lot of cliche quotes out there about “happiness” and how to define it, and honestly, for the most part I think they’re all lame, but one of my favorite TV shows of all time hits it directly on the head for me.
“People get lost when they think of happiness as a destination. we’re always thinking that someday we’ll be happy, you know. we’ll get that car, or job, or that person in our lives and that will “fix” everything. but happiness is a mood, and it’s a condition, not a destination. it’s like being tired or’s not permanent. it comes and it goes, and that’s ok. i feel like if people thought of it that way, they’d find happiness a lot more often.” — Jullian, One Tree Hill


It'syourday!I kind of like to think Iwas born with the bug in me. Ever since I can remember I was always the kid in class that got good grades but got in trouble non-stop for talking too much. I’m a natural born talker, but it never occurred to me that could make a living out of talking, turns out you can.
It'syourday!Summer after my freshman year of college, I came home for the summer and was ready to chill out. Needless to say, my parents grew tired of coming home from their 9-5 jobs and seeing me sprawled out on their couch watching re-runs of The Hills and eating pop-tarts all day. Through a line of connections I got an unpaid internship with the news director at the local radio station. I was sure radio wasn’t my thing, but it was something to do a few days a week. It didn’t take long for the news director to realize my real passion was in sports. He arranged for me to get some experience with the sports department, and from there things just kind of snowballed.
It'syourday!I remember when i was younger and the show Total Request Live was still on MTV. I had absolutely no interest in the show, but I remember the hosts of the show always looked like they were having a blast. I would grab a hair brush or a ruler and mimic what they were saying pretending I was hosting the show in my own living room. When you’re so young it never crosses your mind that you should do something like that for a career, you’re just a young kid having fun. Looking back now I can see that was a sign.
It didn’t really hit me until I got my first job with a baseball team. I’m an adrenaline person. being mic’ed up in front of anywhere from 3,000-10,000 people gets your blood pumping, and I love the feeling. from then on I knew I didn’t want that feeling to end.
It'syourday!I do. definitely. when I was a junior in college I set a goal that I wanted to be on Network television (Fox, NBC, CBS), by the time i was 25. I did my first Network show for Fox Sports when i was 22. I still have other goals of course. it’s always been a dream of mine to work at an Olympics and at a Super Bowl.
It'syourday!I’m not completely sure where it’ll go. the wonderful thing about this career is that 9 times out of 10 it’s not a straight and narrow path, and I’m completely fine with that. I love what I do, and I’m willing to try new things and go new places so I really think the possibilities are endless.
I love your quote from One Tree Hill (great show!) I am always interested to hear about how people find their careers and I love how passionate you are about journalism.

Carrie, thank you so much for being a part of this, it was so awesome getting to know you better! Be sure to follow her on her blog Carrie Lippert.


Linking up today with Sweet Little Ones for:


Interview Series: feat. Carrie in 8 Countries in 6 Weeks

DATE_ 01 JANUARY 3000(4)A little while ago I came across Carrie’s blog and we bonded over our love of travel, books, and our guilty pleasure of watching the Bachelor. 🙂 I read on her blog about her decision to take a year off of school to work and travel to 8 countries in just 6 weeks in South East Asia. She wrote a great post explaining why she made this decision and how it changed her and I was so intrigued and knew I had to ask her to be a part of the interview series. She graciously accepted and now I get to share her awesome stories with all of you.

My love for travel actually started at a very young age. My father has a job which gives him the opportunity to travel around the country to go to forums and conferences. Because I was born and raised in a small town in rural central Wisconsin, it was always very important to him that me and my siblings got to see other parts of the country and realize that places even in our country were so different from one another. My siblings and I took turns traveling with my dad on his business trips. My first trip across the country with him was to Lake Tahoe, California at age 7. By the time I graduated high school I had traveled to almost 35 states in the US.
Her first visit to Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.
Telling my parents. Hahaha. I spent A LOT of timing thinking about the decision and when I sat down and really thought about it, I knew in my head and in my gut that I needed time off from school to figure some things out. It was always very important to my parents that their children earn college degrees. For my parents, the biggest worry was that I would leave school, and then not want to go back. I gave them my word over and over and over again that I would go back and get my degree. Even though they were extremely worried they trusted me. I took my time off and I went back to school and finished my degree.
I actually traveled by myself for the first time this past November when I visited the Dominican Republic. All of my other trips abroad I was either with someone or I was meeting someone once I arrived. I was very realistic and deny not deny my inner conscious when it told me I wasn’t ready to be on the other side of the world completely alone. Now that I’ve done a few extended visits to South East Asia and other places I think I would feel alright on my own. Solo travel can be amazing if you are ready for it. but if you are not ready, do not push it.
There were cities or countries that I definitely felt more at ease in than others. Each time I traveled to SE Asia I was with a boy, that alone usually made me feel pretty safe had I been traveling alone or with another small petite girl I would have been more worried in some situations.
 Making friends at monkey village in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
That the world is some place that I can be a part of. Learning about places and seeing pictures of other countries is great, but more so than just knowing facts and figures about places and cultures I can actually be a part of those same places and cultures. When you really strip it all down to it’s bare bones we all are people trying to make it, we crave love and belonging and want to protect and provide for our families. In American maybe that means working 9-5 as an accountant and living in the suburbs. In Indonesia maybe that means spending your days in the rice fields, and making sure your children learn to read and write. The standards of what we want are different, but at its core, we want the same things.
Absolutely! Whenever I would meet people that I really connected with on the road we would exchange facebook information before we parted ways. It’s nice to keep in touch with these people because they also share my love of travel, and both have experienced the ups and downs of life on the road.
102_5516 Friends she met on the road, all from different countries.
My first trip to Asia I spent almost the entire time getting the full “experience”, which included eating off of street carts and going to the local food markets and hawker stations. I know some people will tell you that places like these are “unsafe” however I got the most authentic food from places like these and never once got sick from eating it. The one time I did get food poisoning was while in Malaysia. We had been on the road for a few weeks now and we both desperately wanted American food. We were staying in the center of a large city, so there was a mall and some Western food options. We went to Chili’s that night and I got a burger and fries. The next day I was curled up in the fetal position not able to move. Strange but true.
One thing I have learned is that when feelings hit, you need to actually take the time to feel them. Pushing them away or refusing to feel them makes them fester and in the long run makes them much much harder to deal with. At times I would feel like a baby or ungrateful for missing some of the comforts of back home, but when this happened I tried to spend some time alone, walk to a beach and really focus on feeling lonely. When I took the time to admit those feelings and let them run through me, I found that after a little time I felt 100% better.
Also, I brought my laptop along with me for all of my trips. So I was a big fan of facebooking with family and even skyping when homesickness was at its worst.
I want to step foot on every continent, Antarctica included. I took 4 semesters of Spanish in college so I’m eager to travel to central and south America, especially Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, and Easter Island. I’m from German, English, and Polish heritage so I have always wanted to visit Europe and find the cities and towns where my family originated. My older sister lived at worked in Africa for a about a year, she’ll be going back shortly so I’m excited to visit her in Kenya.
The beach on the Gili Islands in Indonesia
I wrote a post where I talked about this topic some. Evaluating your reasons for traveling is important. My first trip to Asia, I was looking to escape my life and most importantly to escape some problems that were looming over me. I escaped it all for a month, but when I came back my problems were right where I left them waiting for me. I was naively surprised that things hadn’t figured themselves out while I was gone. Every time I’ve come home from a long trip I have experienced some kind of a “funk” being back at home. The first trip was by far the worst, the second less, and the third less even more. Getting back to the structure and routine of your life back home can be daunting when you’ve just spent extended time on the road with absolutely no structure or routine.
My older brother was a rugby player in college, and his rugby team took a trip every year to play in a tournament in Phuket, Thailand. After his first trip to Thailand he was hooked and even now 8 years removed from college he goes back to Thailand every winter, sometimes for weeks sometimes for months. I choose Asia because my brother was living over there at the time escaping the Midwest winter. I was 19 went I took my first trip across the world.
The research I did for my first trip was minimal mostly because I was to be traveling the whole time my brother who now spoke Thai and had been there several different times. I really didn’t care what we did or where we went, just being out and having the experience was what I really needed. My other two trips back I did a little more work trying to figure things out for myself. I discovered Lonely Planet travel guides and those made it pretty easy to plan things for myself more.
 102_5011Carrie with her backpack on and ready to go in Bangkok, Thailand. 
I have made 3 separate trips to South East Asia. The First time I traveled in Thailand and Laos. The second time I traveled exclusively throughout Thailand and it’s southern islands. The third time I made a big sweep: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam. 
By far I have spent the most time in Thailand, and for that it will always feel like my second home. I did a post a while back talking about the first time I felt true freedom in Koh Phi Phi Thailand. Nothing will explain my time in and my connection to Thailand better than that post.
Indonesia comes in a close second. The beaches of the Gili Islands are some of the most beautiful I have ever experienced, and the tiny little Buddist village of Ubud in central Bali, is one of my favorite places I have ever been to. Ubud is one place where I could see myself living for an extended period of time and being very happy.
I really don’t have an interest to go back to Cambodia ever again. Cambodia left images in my head that haunt me to this day.
Cambodia under went a massive genocide in the late ‘70’s and early 80’s. During this 5-year time The Khmer Rouge and their leader Pol Pot killed more than 2 million people (about 25% of the country’s population) at the time. Being in the capitol city, Phnom Penh, where the regime first gained its control was a heavy feeling. Many of the people walking the streets are survivors who lost their entire family and there is a certain sadness that remains in the air.
While staying in Siem Reap to visit Angor Wat I remember walking through the streets after dinner and the mostly naked children just flocking to me begging me for food. Every where you go in this world there are beggars and homeless, but in Cambodia it’s not the adults begging it’s the children and to this day those thoughts come back to me and it sends chills up my spine.
It has been almost 3 years since I’ve been back to Asia. I did almost all of that traveling while I was in my first two years of college. Once I came back I was very eager to finish college and get my degree. I knew in order to do this I had to focus on my classes. Although it’s hard for me to stay in once place at times, getting my degree was an important and necessary thing, so I put most international travels to the side to focus on that goal. Now that I’m graduated I’m excited to do look into more traveling!
At Angor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
I love her sense of adventure and her spirit. I’ll share part two of her interview next week, about happiness and her career.

Interview Series Featuring: Hanne, a World Traveler

A lot of the interviews I do in the interview series are about travel because I’m so interested in it and it’s a huge passion of mine.
A little while back I got an email from Hanne, who is a travel blogger at Places, Peoples, Stories, who asked to be a part of the series, which was so flattering and the first time someone asked. I usually seek out other bloggers and friends and ask them to be a part of it.
I am so happy to share Hanne’s stories from her 5 years of traveling to 50 + countries and counting!
At first I traveled a lot with my parents and sister. However, when I got older I started to travel alone. Now after getting married I usually travel with my husband.
I am actually not sure. I have always loved to travel, and see travel programs from all over the world. I guess I am just born with the wanderlust gene? I was also inspired by others that traveled a lot, like my grandparents.
Yes! That is a dream! But I have a lot of more countries to visit before that happens.
The next trip will be to Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary in July. I have wanted to see more of East Europe for a long time.
The people I meet on my way. I love to learn about new cultures, and that is why I love to stay with local people when I travel.
Actually, that must be home – Norway. Because even as much as I travel I have never seen anything as beautiful as the nature and fjords of Norway. It is also where my family live so that is also why this is my favorite place on earth.
So many things. Maybe the most important is that I do not need material things to be happy. As long as I have people around that cares about me and love me that is what matters. That I learned when I lived in Nigeria without water and electricity. I was still happy without these things, even if they are very basic.
That there are so many amazing and kind people out there. People that have almost nothing, but still give you a plate of food. You are never alone, wherever you are, I have experienced. There are always someone there to help you if you need it.
Oh… I have so many. One of my favorite was when I was in Benin, and I had no idea about the floating village of Ganvie there. That is the biggest community living on water in the world. It was amazing and a big surprise to see this, and I will never forget.
Some of them, I still keep in touch with over Facebook or email. And I am happy I can still do that! But I wish I had contact with so many more.
I do not buy souvenirs anymore, because they were never used. I take pictures, and then I have memories in my head which might be the mist precious. And the blog as well is helping a lot ro commemorate my trips.
No, I do not even have any pictures from my travels on my wall actually. But now that I am moving to Norway, I have been thinking about putting some of my favorites up on the wall.
Actually, I have two home bases. One in Norway, where I have some stuff stored at my parents house. The other is in Bolivia, where I have been living the last 3 years.
I have for many years saved up money when I was a student. I was working a lot, and I saved everything. I have also worked a bit when I was on travel.
Yes, now I am working as a freelancer. I was the director of a foundation called Yo voy a Ti here in Bolivia that worked with street kids for almost 2 years. I have also given English classes. I also volunteered in development projects in Nigeria and India.
I need my laptop, and camera with me on every travel. They are musts.
Yes, many times. But fortunately nothing serious have ever happened, besides a few accidents and robberies.
I speak 5 languages. Norwegian, English, Danish, Swedish and Spanish.
Not anymore. In the beginning, yes, they worried a lot. But now they are used to that I travel, and are more calm.
Yes, from Nigeria I was going to Uganda. They did not want to let me in to my connecting flight, as the first flight was delayed. I started to cry, so they let me in at the end.
Since July 2014. Soon to be 1 year!
Just do it! I do not buy excuses like “I do not have money or time”. It does not need to cost a lot to travel the world. I used 50 USD for 2 months in India. Who cannot afford that?
To relay on the locals. They know best – and much better than any guidebook.

          My family
          Good food

Five different languages and 50 plus countries?! I have major travel envy right now. It’s a big world out there and somehow traveling makes it smaller. I am so inspired by her travels and need to start collecting more passport stamps.

Thank you so much for being a part of my Interview Series Hanne! I’m excited to follow along on your journey now. 🙂

Interview Series Feat. Meghan + Bob in Iceland

Meghan and I have been friends for a long time. 15 years long, since 7th grade. 🙂 She’s always been super supportive and caring. She’s the friend who always sends handwritten notes on cute stationary for important events. Especially in this day and age of technology I appreciate and love the extra effort.

Meghan’s boyfriend, Bob, is an awesome architect from Iowa and compliments Meghan so well. He’s smart, kind, and adventurous. He likes to go for long bike rides, has worked in China. They live in San Francisco and Dave and I have taken many road trips to visit them. Today for the Interview Series, they’re sharing their adventures in Iceland.

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Bob and I love to travel and experience new cultures, so we knew a big trip was in our near future. We were initially thinking about a trip to South America, however after seeing dozens of people making the same trip, we wanted to try something different. Buying the flight was more of an impulse, and the rest of the planning came afterward.

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I read an Iceland travel book to make sure we knew of places we couldn’t miss, but a lot of the trip was unplanned. Iceland is perfect for that because we had a rented car and you can camp anywhere, so we had a lot of freedom.

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We wanted to experience the Summer Solstice, the sun never sets this time of year so eye masks were key!

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Camping gear, backpacking gear, and a lot of dehydrated food (it is very expensive to eat in Iceland!)


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We were there for 2 weeks.

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It was the perfect amount of time – we drove the Ring Road (there is one paved road that circles the whole country) and could take our time in some places, and found that others could be explored quickly. Several days were spent in the Golden Circle, which is the area near the airport. If you don’t have time to circle the country, this is the area you will see the most in a short amount of time.  We would still love to go back, but in the winter when the night never ends and we can experience Northern Lights.


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Similar to what we experience in San Francisco – sunny days, cool at night. Mostly a light jacket would do, but there was one rainy day where we slept in the car.


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In all my travels, I have never met kinder or more helpful people! They love to give advice to travelers, and when asked what to do if you get mugged, the response is “You don’t. No one gets mugged in Iceland.”

We loved meeting people when we would get to a town, but most of our travels were pretty isolated. Everyone speaks English very well, which is great because Icelandic is incredibly challenging even to pronounce, but was fun to try!

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Camping, mostly. Iceland is really expensive so we only stayed at a B&B (adorable and friendly place!) the first night. Everyone camps in Iceland, if you get to a camping ground the showers are genuinely clean, but if you want to pitch a tent anywhere else that is permitted.

Camping allowed us to travel freely, especially with no sunset, we could drive when we wanted and sleep when we were tired. Some sites we thought could take two days but did not, and others were so astounding we stayed longer than planned. Camping is the way to go for the Ring Road!


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The ground is not very farmable (the whole country seems to be on a volcano of sorts), so they eat a lot of sheep and everything else is imported (making it very expensive). Also, travels should be aware that you will likely see whale on menus, as whaling is a big part of the country’s history and culture.  As a vegetarian, I feared the diet would be limiting, but when we did eat out there were a lot of options for me. Lots of delicious cheese!

We dined out a few times only, because it was very expensive, and packed dehydrated food for the rest (Outdoor Herbivore has a lot of veg options, but not nearly as tasty as Mountain House). It became a fun part of our day to set up at a waterfall or beautiful ice lagoon and make our meals conveniently. I especially recommend a camping coffee press, it was such a nice way to open the tent and start the day with beautiful Iceland as the view!

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It was definitely a more expensive trip, hard to say in total (I had to buy all the backpacking and camping gear, but if you have done this before it won’t cost as much). Renting a car was the biggest price, no less then $1,000. You need a 4wheel drive to go off road  which is most places (and you definitely want to off road!).


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Camping and packing food.

It'syourday! (12)Would love to go back, for sure! The topography changes constantly, and winter would be a whole different experience.

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Renting the SUV and gas was very expensive, and we also made some impulse decisions, such as snorkeling between the continental plates, but otherwise we tried to budget best we could.


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Oh yes, we couldn’t help ourselves! We bought a blanket made of sheep wool. The country is full of sheep everywhere!

When I asked the shop lady if the blanket was made humanely, she said “Americans ask such silly questions. Of course it was! We love our sheep!” and now Bob and I love our blanket.


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How quickly the topography could change. One moment we are in a green, mountainous area, another it is an icy lagoon.

Also how much of Game of Thrones is filmed there!


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It'syourday! (16)Favorite part was Dettifoss Waterfall. The largest in Europe, we arrived at about 3am in a rain storm (still light out, though) and had to walk through a volcanic area that reminded me of a scene on Mars, following the waterfall rumbles. No one was there (the country is so isolated, it is amazing for moments such as this!) and when we got to the edge, there are no blockades. We stood on the slippery edge and felt the energy coming from the top of the fall – it was a wonderful out of body experience for both of us. It took a few minutes before I came back to my body and realized how dangerous we were being and so I stepped back.

I also loved all of the hot springs! Blue Lagoon is the most well known, but they are really all over. Just smell for sulfur and you know you are close.

Least favorite part was the expenses…but that is something to worry about after the adventure of a lifetime!


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Nothing, I was thrilled with all of it! Maybe I would have packed more socks…

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It can be isolating, so bring someone you enjoy traveling with that can rough it for a while. Unlike a lot of other travels, you can go a long time before coming across a tavern to chat with and meet people.

If you are going to Europe, you can do a layover in Iceland for up to 7 days.

Also, get a go-pro selfie stick, because there won’t be people around to take your photo and the sites are endless!


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It was a great way to remember how different the world is. While I had seen waterfalls (at a much smaller scale), there are some sites you don’t have elsewhere, like snorkeling between tectonic plates, climbing a crater, or puffins!

We had so many out of worldly experiences, it also brought me and my partner closer together. If you can camp in a small tent for 2 weeks in another country with someone and still want to travel together afterward, you’re probably a decent match!


Dave and I have been wanting to get to Iceland for a little while now. Hopefully someday soon! It looks gorgeously breathtaking! Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us Meghan!

Interview Series Feat. Morinda Mother of 4, Part 2

Today continues with part 2 of Morinda’s interview. If you missed it be sure to read it here. She’s a wife and a super mama to 4. red (2)
I was living in Salt Lake City with my little sister and she was friends with one of Brig’s friends. I was just getting over a pretty big break-up and had sworn off dating. My sister kept telling me I had to meet these guys, they were so funny, so fun to hang out with, bla bla bla. And I was resistant. So I was working two jobs and going to school at the time (see how long this degree has taken me???) and I came home one night just thrashed from a long day and there in our living room were these guys and my sister all dressed up.

Brig was really a ska-boy at heart with his shaved head and lamb chops for miles. He was so funny and cute and his zipper was down and he friend said, “Hey Brig are you gonna zip up?” And we all laughed and Brig was not at all embarrassed which I kind of thought was cool. Anyway, long story short we laughed so hard that night, I don’t know, we just kind of got addicted to that kind of joy.

It’s funny because we are both pretty high energy people (in other words spazzy) and we had friends who were like, “You guys should probably not procreate” or my sister said, “If you guys have children they will probably just hover above the ground with all that energy!” Haha! And they do.
I don’t know if there’s a secret. It’s work and you have to continually choose your marriage. We adore our kids, but by the time we’re 50 its just going to be us. So we have to consciously choose to make our marriage a priority. When Brig is home we make time to go out every week for a date night. Most of all, we have fun. We LOVE to dance even though we’re terrible at it. We spent all of our dating laughing and its what keeps us going.

Just this week Brig was only home for a couple days before he left again for a month. We laughed so hard at some stupid joke that we were in pain. Life is tough. It throws a lot at you, so you have to look for the joy. Look for reasons to laugh. And of course we are normal people and we fight and have our moments but honestly, if I have any down time, the first thing I want to do is hang out with Brig. It’s not hard to love someone, it’s a lot harder after 15 years to like them. And we keep finding new ways to like each other.
Wow. This question. I’ve learned that we are both hard-headed, but dedicated. I’ve learned that I like to have some semblance of a plan in place and Brig is always flyin’ by the seat of his pants. I’ve learned that patience truly is a virtue and one that takes a lifetime to master. I’ve learned to stop talking and listen. Most of all I think we’ve learned that when life can be tough and even devastating, we are good for each other.
My parents’ marriage is complicated. But that’s what I appreciate about it at this point. It’s good to know that life does not always turn out as you expect (does it ever?) and that you have to be willing to make a good situation out of whatever comes your way.
My best marital advice, outside of making time to have fun,  is to never be afraid to apologize. We fight and we argue and sometimes we say dumb things and that’s just life. But winning an argument isn’t worth it if its messing up your relationship. I’ve learned that there is a kind of strength that comes with apologies and digging deep and asking forgiveness. And forgiveness is a beauty of its own. Maybe that’s the key to marriage, being willing to apologize and forgive over and over and over again. And then do it again.
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I started blogging this last summer because we were heading for Alaska for the summer and I wanted a chance to keep family and friends updated. Some of it is about my kids but the last couple entries are more just things that I’ve been thinking about. So the blog is also a way for me to store writing ideas. Like a savings account for my writing. I have loved writing all my life. It’s like therapy for me but like everything else, a work in progress.
Yeah, I don’t bottle feelings well. It’s easier for me to just put my cards on the table and let them land where they land. Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s terrible, but I can’t live any other way. I’ve always been a terrible liar. Haha. Seriously, I don’t have a poker face. I tend to share what I’m feeling.
Yes. I am very careful about what I share online. I don’t share things that would embarrass my children when they are older. They deserve to start their adult lives without anything online following them around. It’s not a mommy blog. You won’t find any recipes or party ideas. I also don’t write about politics or my soap-boxes on my blog. I want it to be a place to find something beautiful and interesting. I hope people that read my blog will leave it with something to think about. I really believe that we don’t think for ourselves as much as we should. We live in a world where online social media becomes a kind of collective thought process.

My hope is to give someone something they might want to turn off their music or facebook and think about for a while. So my children make it into the blog but only occasionally. I also am very wary of portraying perfection. Our family is nowhere near perfect and I find the entire concept of perfection dull. Beauty is always found where there is both light and shadow, so it’s important that my stories or my portrayal of our life is not so scrubbed that it loses that essence of the natural chaos of things.
I write when I have something mulling in my head that needs to be written. I’m in the midst of finishing my last semester and taking a pretty intense writing class as well as a couple lit classes. I probably won’t get a lot of time in the next couple months to write much, if anything. I haven’t decided if I’ll post the things I’m writing for my class. It’s digging pretty deep personally for me so we’ll see if any of it makes it to the blog.

My best writing usually happens in the middle of the night or early morning. I’ll wake up with an idea and then it just starts writing itself in my head and I can’t sleep until I’ve put it down.
How fabulous is she?! Love her spirit and energy and beautiful words. Thank you so much Morinda for being a part of my interview series! 

Interview Series Featuring Morinda Mother of 4

It’s been a while since I did an interview (I have a few on deck that I need to finish up!) and I’m very happy today to introduce you all to my friend, Morinda. You will love her! 0001-66815547
I am in awe of all moms and am so impressed and interested at how women can juggle all their priorities in their lives. Having one child is hard and can flip your world upside down, and Morinda and Brigham have 4! So I had to hear more about their lives and learn how she does it all and is so positive and inspirational.


Morinda’s husband Brigham and my boyfriend Dave both work in the film world and met about 3 or 4 years ago. Ever since then we heard about his amazing wife Morinda and their 4 awesome kids (between the ages of 5 and 13.)


I wanted to meet her immediately but it wasn’t until last fall that we finally got to meet her at a mutual friend’s wedding. And I instantly fell in love with Morinda and her warm energy and friendliness. Oh and did I mention she is gorgeous?
Being with Brigham and Morinda is intoxicating. They are so full of life and energy! They are so much fun, down to earth, and can dance like it’s nobody’s business.

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This question has layers. Where to begin? Motherhood is sacred. And not in the way that most people think, like having a family or giving birth, and certainly that is true but I mean, there is a transcendent quality about it. Women who have never had families of their own have it. Mother Theresa might be the prime example of what I’m talking about. It’s about the verb: to mother. When I look at my life I can see all the many mothers that have shaped who I am. Women that have inspired me, motivated me, challenged me. I think that is one of the amazing things about women is this quality.


I look to women like Abigail Adams or Rosa Parks or Mary Oliver as my mothers. It is the ability to nurture growth within your sphere of influence. For some this is a huge scope. For me, right now in my life, it is this micro-sphere in my home with these children.


The hardest thing about it is knowing that while they came from Brig and I, in the end they are not ours. They are their own. And I have to teach them how to be their own and how to be independent and confident and curious. That’s the trick. Helping them to find what they love and the courage to go after it.


On a practical level, one of the things I love most about motherhood is watching my kids conquer a fear or master something they’ve worked at. I love children’s love notes. They are precious. I love that my 13 year old still wants to be “tucked in” although the nature of the process has changed from reading stories or singing songs to just a 10 minute “sit on the bed and chat” session. It’s amazing.


The hardest parts are watching them struggle. My son struggles with everything. Nothing has come easy for him. Every new skill comes with hours of therapy and practice, sometimes years of it. And when I see him struggle, I want so badly to take that away for him. But those struggles are also an important part of the growth process.
The most surprising thing about parenthood is that after 13 years of being a parent, I am still surprised by it. There are days when these kids blindside me with a new phase or a new question. Just when I think I have this thing nailed, they throw me for a loop. It is ever changing and evolving (like those dang flu viruses). But most of the surprises are great. Like my teenager. Everything is sort of new and exciting. She is just starting to have a social life and listen to music and wanting to borrow my shoes. It’s both fabulous and irritating. 😉
This question is funny because we have some pretty random sources for their names. Tatum came from two places: Because Paper Moon is one of Brig and my favorite movies and I’ve always loved young Tatum O’Neal, and Brig is a fan of Jazz and a favorite pianist of his is Art Tatum. So that one was easy.


Cleo is a family name. It is my great aunts name and I just really liked it. Although people call her Chloe a lot, she is really good about correcting them graciously.


We liked the name Elias after the actor Elias Koteas (specifically his role in Some Kind of Wonderful) and of course, its also biblical, so I guess thats nice, too.


Ivy Maude was given two names that we always intended to use together, like two first names. Unfortunately we cut it down to Maudie and her teacher calls her Ivy and I’m always a little sad that we don’t stick to the plan! We love the name and character Maude in Harold and Maude but we liked the ring to Ivy Maude. It just feels complete. So there it is.


Um, YES we found out. Every time. I like surprises, but it’s nice to find out ahead of time and process it and be prepared. Bringing home a new baby is a lot of surprises and adjustments anyway. Its nice to have a few ducks in a row before hand.
The biggest rules have to do with being kind, no hitting and kicking, being respectful. Of course everyone is in charge of their rooms and they have to tidy them up everyday and then help with housecleaning and yard work on Saturdays. No one in this family is perfect, least of all myself so we try to remember to have patience with each other and take the good with the bad.


We do have a list of family “values” that the kids help us write, things like “Cottams are kind” or “Cottams help take care of the earth” or “Cottams work hard and play hard” and once a month or so we sit and read them together. We add things when they need to be added or rewrite some that we think need rewriting. Its part of being a work in progress: open to the changes that come with growing.
Hahaha! I’ll let you know when I discover the answer to this one. 😉 The trick is always priority. My house does not resemble a page out of a magazine. That’s not a priority for me. This semester I am in school 3 days a week and I am a hairdresser and do hair once a week so I only really have one weekday to get things done. I try to maximize that day not only to get as much done as I can but also to get the much needed mental break.


It is easy to get caught up in the endless tasks (laundry alone could be a full time job) and forget to make my time with my kids meaningful. There are definitely the days where we are just trying to get through the day, but generally I try to make sure that we are interacting and that makes all the tasks worth it. I love dinner-time because not only do I really enjoy cooking for my family, but I also love our table time where we get to each share things about our day.
Haha! Again, I’ll keep you posted on that. I don’t mind the noise. I grew up with it. In fact, it always takes me by surprise the days when I am home alone how strange it is to hear myself think. But it’s fabulous too. I honestly don’t really mind the chaos…most of the time.


We have a system. The kids are really good about pitching in and taking care of their responsibilities. I keep a bar of chocolate in the cupboard for sanity. I don’t really believe that anyone has a charmed life. Everyone has different kinds of struggles and challenges. Brig’s work is hard for us right now but we are happy because there are so many things to be grateful for. We try to focus on that when things are tough.


Since Morinda has so much wisdom and so many wonderful things to say, I thought I’d break it up into two posts, so please come back tomorrow for her thoughts on marriage and blogging. 

Interview Series Featuring Erika, from A Little Bit of Everything Blog

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Today on the blog, I’m featuring Erika from A Little Bit of Everything Blog. She is so sweet and down to earth. She blogs about her adorable family, her life in Texas, fashion, and other fun things. She’s one of my favorite bloggers, and I’ve been a loyal reader for years, and wanted to share her with all of you! Without further ado:

Hi!!  I’m Erika, a Christian, a wife, mama to three, a planner by heart, Rodan and Fields’ consultant, a lover of all things girly, and I blog over at A Little Bit of Everything!  Feel free to invite me to go shopping or get a pedicure ANY time!  🙂  I was so excited when Julie asked me to share with you guys today.  I am by no means an expert on any of these things, but I love sharing what works for me.



PLACE YOUR TEXT HEREI started blogging in 2008!  I had several friends who had blogs and they encouraged me to do it.  That was pre-kids, so I hardly EVER blogged.  I remember them giving me a hard time about never posting and my response was always, “Do you want me to take pictures of Tab and I watching television every night?”.  hahaha!  Once I had kids it was the perfect way for my family who lives far away to stay updated.  Recently I shifted to include a more “lifestyle” approach.  I’m loving having my own little space to share “a little bit of everything”.

PLACE YOUR TEXT HEREI love the friendships you make just through blogging.  That has definitely been my favorite part!

PLACE YOUR TEXT HERE(1)Absolutely!!  I do share some personal things, but I not to have TMI via the blog.  🙂

PLACE YOUR TEXT HERE(2)Link-ups are your friends!!  I began linking up any chance I got.  You can do giveaways as well.  They’re a great way to reach more people.  And…keep it up!  It can take a lot of time to grow a blog.




PLACE YOUR TEXT HERE(3)I’m sure people told me this, but I probably wasn’t paying attention….it’s HARD!  I had tons of friends who were good at their job and made it look so easy!


The simple moments are definitely the most rewarding….like us all playing a board game at night and everyone is laughing (and getting along..ha!).  The most challenging part is teaching them EVERYTHING!  haha!  Seriously…it’s a little stressful thinking about every little thing you have to remember to teach them.



I can’t think of anything, but I’m sure I do a lot of things my mom did.


I always wanted three kids.  My grandparents had three girls and at holidays their house was always full of people during the holidays.  I just always imagined having three.

PLACE YOUR TEXT HERE(14)We both have the same values and beliefs.  Our marriage is based on our faith.  We both spend time in prayer and in the word daily.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to “do life” with someone who didn’t have the same faith as me.




I love the beach OR maybe I should say I love a warm climate with a view of the beach and a nice lounge chair by the pool.  🙂

PLACE YOUR TEXT HERE(12)The Real Housewives of ANYWHERE!

PLACE YOUR TEXT HERE(10)I want to travel a lot more and see many places??  That’s not a fabulous item for a bucket list!  hahaha!  I don’t have anything crazy on my list!


So many things make me happy!!  I’m going to go for super simple in my list…

1.  A quiet bubble bath at the end of a long night

2.  Board games with my kiddos

3. Chips and salsa

4. Family Getaways

5. Hearing my kiddos sing a worship song


Julie…thank you SO much for having me!!

Thank YOU Erika for stopping by and sharing your life with us! Be sure to follow her on her blog and instagram.

Interview Series Featuring: Molly Living Abroad for a Year Part 3

Today wraps up Molly’s year long adventures  abroad. If you missed her other two parts of her interview, read them here and here.

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The one of me and my two friends wearing the paper hats was taken at the Floating Markets in Bangkok. Very popular spots with tourists but they’re fun to check out.highlighter (2)Add subtitle text (16)

Asia is almost the equivalent for Australians as what Mexico is for Americans. It’s their travel spot which makes total sense. Before going to Australia I never had much of a desire to go to Asia, however after talking to people there and hearing how inexpensive it is to travel there, I felt it was a something I needed to see before I left.



The one of me up on a surf board, which was taken from my first surfing trip, which was in Byron Bay. It took a while and a few times but I managed to get up! (and then fell down shortly after) haha. Surfing is a must when you’re over there!

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Yes- that was my plan. 6-9 months in Sydney living/working, then 3 or 4 months of travel.

-1The picture of the monkey on my shoulder was taken in Ubud, Bali at the monkey sanctuary. It’s also a very popular destination with tourists. The monkeys there are crazy! You buy bananas there and are supposed to walk around and the monkeys will come up to you and essentially stalk you for bananas haha. They hop up on you and will climb all over. It was really fun to see this place and I highly recommend going there if you can!

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In Thailand we started in Bangkok, which is an insane city. We really were just thrown into craziness while we were there. The smell is one thing I will never forget. The driving is pretty crazy (which apparently all over Asia is), but we got around a lot by tuk-tuks which were really fun. You need to be careful with them that you don’t get ripped off- they’ll try to make all these stops and force you to buy unnecessary things from their friends. Thankfully we were very forward with them and they took us to where we needed to go. Only once did we end up at some weird, sketchy night club. Ah the joys of traveling!

After Bangkok we flew to Phuket which is also a pretty crazy city, but there are beaches there as opposed to Bangkok. Once we were there we couldn’t wait to get to the other islands, so we took a boat to Koh Phi Phi (also a must-see if you go there), and then Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan for the full moon party! We had a blast in Thailand.

Indonesia is also beautiful in it’s own way. The people were extremely friendly there as well. We stayed at this beautiful resort in Lombok, then took a boat to the Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan is the one we stayed on), which were absolutely breathtaking. The water is crystal clear, beaches are clean, and the vibe is so chill (Bob Marley and Jack Johnson played on repeat). I got my scuba certification there, and after diving in the morning, we would just hang out in these little huts and relax by the beach the rest of the day. It was perfect. The food was also pretty good there too! From there we took a boat to Bali which is a really cool spot. We were in Ubud (where Eat, Pray, Love was filmed) for one night, and went to the monkey forest, which I highly recommend going to if you’re there. Then we went to Seminyak/Kuta for another 2 nights and had a lot of fun there. That was the end of the trip and we were pretty ready to head back to Sydney by that point!


This was at the Grand Palace also in Bangkok, which is where a lot of the beautiful, iconic temples are. A must-see when in Bangkok.


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Word of mouth and my brother recommended it as well!

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It depends on the type of tour you do- we got a special on ours so it wasn’t too bad and definitely worth going through since they basically plan everything for you.

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It ranges- on average there were about 30 people on our bus.



This was taken on the Gili T island- absolutely beautiful beach. That’s where I got my scuba diving certification and saw all these amazing fish, sea turtles, shark, etc. Highly recommend going there if you ever find yourself close to Bali!

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Thrilling, massive adrenaline rush, cold, and fast. It was my first time and is something I would like to do again. I went in Kai Teri Teri which is a beautiful place to go!

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I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. I did the Nevis Bungee jump which is the highest bungee in Austral Asia (134 meters). They do a really good job though once you’re up there of not standing out on the ledge too long and freaking yourself out. They tell you that you need to just walk out and jump, so I did! I watch the video of me doing it and I still can’t believe I did it. It’s kind of an out of body experience. Glad I did it but probably won’t go again.



This one is from when I went bungee jumping in Queenstown, which is the “adventure capital of the world.” Bungee jumping was one of those things that I had always wanted to try and couldn’t pass the opportunity to do it when I was there. It was a 134 meter jump and called the Nevis Bungy. Sooo thrilling and such an adrenaline rush!

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I love them both for their own reasons so it’s really hard to pick one over the other. NZ definitely has the incredible landscapes and scenery. Driving through you’d see a mountain on your right hand side, and then these gorgeous pastures with streams running through them and sheep everywhere on the other side. I would love to go back sometime. Australia has the most incredible beaches and weather that goes along with it. It also has city life (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane), which NZ lacks, but I love that about each of them.


I hope you all enjoyed reading about Molly’s journey! I am so thankful and glad that she shared her adventures with the blog. She’s definitely inspired me to travel more and it’s been fun to hear how she did it.


Interview Series Featuring: Molly Living Abroad for a Year

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Back in high school I played on the tennis team and met a really sweet girl named Molly. We kept in touch a little in college and years later when I asked her to be  part of my Interview Series for the blog, she didn’t hesitate for a second to participate. She is still as awesome and outgoing as she was back in the day. So last year, I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard she was taking a year to live abroad in Australia.

I have always wanted to go to Australia and plan to in the future, so when I started this series I instantly thought of Molly and her adventures. I knew she had to have some amazing stories and I had so many questions for her.

She had so much great information that I decided to split her interview into not one, not two, but three parts. Today Molly talks about her decision to live abroad for a year, what she did to prepare, and some differences she saw between Australians and Americans. Next time she’ll cover her travels to South East Asia, New Zealand and her reflections on her year abroad.

Check out this amazing video Molly captured a picture or video everyday for her year abroad. It gave me goosebumps watching it! I think it’s one thing for her to share her stories and talk about them, and a whole other thing to be able to see them. She really had an incredible year filled with so many experiences. Definitely come back for the next two Thursdays to hear about her trip in parts 2 and part 3!


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The reason why I decided to travel abroad was because I didn’t want to wake up in 10 years and have a sinking feeling of regret that I never traveled or lived abroad. That was always something I regretted about college, so I figured there was no better time than the present to do it. It was also very strange how it all happened- I had a dream one night that I boarded a plane and moved somewhere foreign (Kazakhstan to be exact), and woke up from that thinking how weird, but also how cool that would be to do something like that. 8 months later- wa la! There I was in Sydney!

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My brother studied abroad in Sydney and then lived there after he graduated and really loved it, so hearing all those wonderful things about it made me want to see it for myself. I never really considered anywhere else- it was English speaking, people were friendly, weather is amazing, and they offer the work and holiday visa to travelers. The choice was pretty clear for me.


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My brother and sister in law went through the program when they moved over there and had a great experience with it.

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If you visit:, it will give you all the details that the program includes and what they offer. It is a one time up front cost, but does not include the visa fee, or the flight. I recommend it for travelers who like to have everything arranged for them ahead of time, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to go through them either. It’s fairly easy to navigate your way around Sydney and figuring out your bank account, tax file number (which you need in order to work), living arrangements, etc.

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My mom had no problem telling me several times that I over packed- and I hate to admit it but she’s right. I had two large suitcases and a backpack. It’s very difficult to know how to pack and what type of weather to plan for, but I probably packed a little too much of my winter clothes. The only time I needed my thick coat was when I traveled to New Zealand! After traveling for about 4 months and living out of a backpack, I can safely call myself a master-packer. It’s important to remember that you can always buy things when you’re there!

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My mom had a “we’ll believe it when we see it” reaction, but was supportive of my decision. My dad was excited for me, as he loves to travel and wanted to come visit me if/when I moved. My friends were all really supportive and excited for me as well. My siblings and their spouses were my biggest advocates for doing this as they both had lived/traveled abroad and knew it was my time to go.

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Yes! My best friend Kristen came out for 10 days and we had a blast!


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There were definitely days (especially in the beginning) that I was homesick, but as soon as I started meeting people and built a group of friends that definitely helped combat that. I knew I was only a Facetime away!

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Not really. To be completely honest, I felt safer in Australia than Chicago!


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I was a little hesitant to tell people I was American at first, just because I wasn’t sure of what our reputation was over there. However, as soon as I started talking to people and they asked where I was from and I told them, they could not have been friendlier. They are some of the most welcoming, hospitable people and I never felt out of place. Quite the opposite in fact!

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Australians have it right- they put much more of an emphasis on enjoying life outside of work. They don’t stress themselves over the little things. Whenever they have a bad day or need to relax, they go to the beach. The drinking culture is also very big over there and the bars are always pretty busy regardless of day/time. I would get done working at 5:30 and I’d notice the bars were already crowded when I’d be done. It’s one big happy hour over there! They also place such an importance over travel there. They are given much more vacation time that we are (as most other countries do), but it’s very common for people to take several weeks off of work to go travel abroad. Overall, I felt like they live a very carefree, relaxing way of life and we could learn a thing or two from them!

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In a heartbeat if it wasn’t so far away from my friends and family.

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It can be a little difficult to stay in touch with the time difference and busy schedules, but thankfully technology makes it pretty easy these days to stay in touch with them! I will hopefully see some of them again at some point in my life!


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Ha, this is a question I ask myself every day. Towards the end of my time there I definitely wish I could have stayed longer as I didn’t feel ready to come home at all. I think I would have liked to stay for at least another year or two max. But, home is never a bad thing and there are plenty more adventures to come!

Add subtitle text (42) Do it while you’re still young, before you have a spouse, kids, mortgage, etc. There’s no better time than now (and the work and holiday visa is only eligible to people 30 and younger). You have the rest of your life to be settled down, so stop making excuses of why you can’t, and just go. Worse comes to worse, you’re homesick, broke, whatever the reason may be- home is always going to be there. Very little changes (especially within a year), and all those things that you’ve left behind will still be there when you come back. It’s so easy to get caught in the routine of things and feel like you need to take this specific route in life, and after traveling and talking to people from all over, you realize there’s so much more out there. Traveling and living abroad is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself.


I absolutely love Molly’s positive attitude. And she is so right. We really all do make excuses for why we can’t do things, but we need to make our dreams bigger than our excuses and step up. She is such an inspiration and I’m so glad she did this for herself. It was obviously a very positive experience for her and one she will be talking about for the rest of her life. Couldn’t we all use a little more adventure in our lives?