Cheers to 25 years!

Cheers to 25 years!

Hey all—today is my 25th birthday!

This morning I woke up next to my amazing husband and I took some time to be mindful and reflect on my life so far. I thought about all of my achievements, but I also reflected on the challenges and obstacles I have faced. Everything that I have experienced has made me the person I am today. Even in the last few years, I have experienced growth that I could have never imagined. This past year, I started graduate school, grown in my profession, celebrated my one-year wedding anniversary, traveled, improved my habits, developed a steady writing ritual, and so much more. I am extremely excited to see what 25 will bring!

I thought it would be fun to write down 25 things/values that I have learned and practice. I hope you have fun reading them, and that they have an impact on your life as well. Enjoy!

  1. Take care of yourself first.
  2. You are not defined by the way you look or how others perceive you.
  3. The best way to escape is to get lost in a good book.
  4. Sometimes there will be people who are in your life for a short amount of time. Let them go, but appreciate the time you spent with them.
  5. Show up. Be present. Work hard and show initiative.
  6. Always keep a journal.
  7. Your siblings are a true gift, and they are your best friends for life.
  8. Be humble, but recognize your successes too.
  9. Family is not just blood; you choose your family.
  10. Eat that piece of cake!
  11. Find something that is good for your soul. (For me, it’s crafting.)
  12. Watch the movies you love and read the books you love—even if it is the 20th time.
  13. Don’t tweet that. Write it down instead.
  14. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes.
  15. Take time each day to write down what you are grateful for.
  16. If someone has a different opinion, listen to them. Talk and compromise.
  17. Travel!
  18. Everyone has a story. Be patient.
  19. Hold on to friends who check in on you. Your best friends are those who you see every now and then and nothing changes.
  20. Success isn’t measured by the size of your home, your car, or material objects. It is measured by the quality of your character and your treatment of others.
  21. When you’re making coffee, always add an extra scoop for good luck.
  22. Put your phone down. Look around you. Live in the moment. Sometimes the best pictures are those you keep for yourself.
  23. Advocate for those who can’t.
  24. They are PHOTOSHOPPED. You are beautiful!
  25. Always stay true to yourself.

 

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5 author quotes to celebrate National Day on Writing

5 author quotes to celebrate National Day on Writing

Today you might have noticed the hashtag #WhyIWrite on your newsfeed. That’s because today is National Day on Writing! By using #WhyIWrite, writers across the country have shared why they are dedicated to their craft. Today, I shared why I write:

The National Day on Writing was founded by the National Council of Teachers of English to bring more immediacy to the power of writing and encourage others to get involved in celebrating it. I wanted to share with you 5 quotes from some of my favorite authors on why they love to create and inspire through writing:

  1. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things: read a lot and write a lot.” ― Stephen King
  2. “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” ― Toni Morrison
  3. “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ―Ernest Hemingway
  4. “I’ve no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms.” ― J.K. Rowling
  5. “If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.” ― Margaret Atwood

 

How about you? Why do you love to write? What are you working on? Please share in the comments!

 

 

Ways to experience hygge this fall

Ways to experience hygge this fall

I discovered the magic of “hygge” a year ago when I stumbled across the book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking. I remembered reading how the Dutch are the happiest people in the world, and I always wondered how. The answer: “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah), a Danish word acknowledging a feeling or moment that gives you complete happiness. One can experience hygge alone or with friends; the only condition to experiencing hygge is that you are able to enjoy and recognize living in the present.

Some buzzwords that surround hygge are “cozy,” “comfort,” and “charm.” These are three elements that I take pride in when choosing my hygge. Wiking writes: “Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day.” To “do” hygge is to you create simple rituals without much effort; you make your personal life an art form.

Fall has arrived—the perfect season to try out some hygge practices. Hygge is not just restricted to the colder months, but for someone like me who loves bundling up in blankets with a cup of hot chocolate, this is when I experience the most hygge. Here are some fall activities for you to try to bring some hygge into your life:

Light some fall-scented candles
Candles are already so calming and peaceful, so why not light a Pumpkin Spiced Chai Latte candle and get the full fall effect?

Read a book
As an avid reader, sitting in my comfy chair with a steaming mug of tea or coffee and a great book is ultimate hygge. Since it’s Halloween season, try picking up a horror/spooky book to get you in the Halloween spirit!

Layer up!
Three of the best things about fall: sweaters, scarves, and boots. I love bundling up with scarves and jackets and dressing for cool weather. Did I mention flannels?!

Buy some fall decorations—or make your own!
When the first leaf hits the ground in September, I make a mad dash to the nearest craft store and load up on fall decor. I love crafting; it’s such a fun way to unwind, relax, and spark some creativity! Here’s an example of one of my fall decor pieces this year. I went to my local craft store and bought these pumpkins and leaves, and created my own chalkboard sign:

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Road Trip!
Get in your car with a friend or two and take a drive to a cool town or place and explore. Go to a trendy coffee shop or a museum; or go to a park and take in the views! Everything is beautiful this time of year—get out there and enjoy it!

Have a movie night
Invite a friend over and have a movie night or watch a movie on your own. This time of year, I love to sit on my couch after a long day with a warm blanket and watch Halloween movies—especially classics like “Halloweentown” and “Hocus Pocus!”

Go on a walk/hike through the autumn leaves
Head outside and enjoy the sweet, crisp autumn air. Going for walks gives me the chance to slow down and enjoy the beautiful foliage—and I love hearing the *crunch* of fallen leaves under my feet!

Pick your own apples/pumpkins—and get to baking!
Make your way to a local pick-your-own farm and grab a hot apple cider, some warm fritters, and pick your own pumpkins or apples. Then…make a dessert when you get home! A fall dessert favorite in our home is warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream on top. Yum!

 

What do you like to do in the fall? How do you “hygge?”

 

 

 

Days Two and Three: Montréal

Wow! That’s all I can say about the last two days. A combined 40,000 steps has led us throughout this beautiful city.

DAY TWO: THURSDAY, AUGUST 17

Ian and I woke up early and made our way over to St-Viateur Bagel & Café to have some delicious wood-fire bagels. We brought our breakfast over to Mont Royal and ate in front of the Sir George Etienne Cartier monument excited to start our hike up the mountain.

 

Mont Royal is a beautiful park, 200 hectares of green space and different paths to enjoy and explore. The park was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also
co-designed Central Park and the site for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1890. There were numerous trails to take up to the Belvédère Kondiaronk (the look out) from intermediate and easy, to the “athletic trail” that Ian and I decided to take. It took about 35 minutes to get to the top, including climbing 339 exhausting steps. Once at the top, it was the view that ultimately took our breath away.

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It wasn’t until making my way to the top when we visited the Mont Royal Chalet that I learned Olmsted created other leisurely trails to encourage visitors to take their time and enjoy the scenery of the park. I also learned that the first European to scale the mountain was Jacques Cartier, an explorer who claimed what is now Canada for France. He also was the first European to describe and map the Saint Lawrence River. Cartier happens to be a family name, so this made me excited to hear! We decided to take the long way back down. It was so peaceful—the park is filled with sculptures, a beautiful pond, green space, and benches to relax and have lunch. It was an amazing experience.

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When we made it to the bottom, it was time for lunch. Ian and I walked over to St-Denis, a popular street filled with shops and places to eat. We stopped at Café Cherrier, a very cute French bistro where we had sandwiches and salads. After our lunch, we walked around the city and poked around at some shops. I felt my energy start to wane, so we stopped at another café called Brûlerie St.Denis where Ian got a delicious seven-layer bar and I drank the biggest café latte I’ve ever seen!

 

DAY THREE: FRIDAY, AUGUST 18

We woke up Friday morning to the sweet sounds of rain hitting the windows and the soft sounds of car tires driving through the wet streets. While this may have dampened our spirits, we thought this might be a good opportunity to walk in the rain through the beautiful cobblestone streets of Old Montréal. Comme c’est romantique! We got dressed and ventured a couple blocks over to find a spot for breakfast. We found this very hip, cool place called Arts Café. The interior is very cozy and called to me at once. Its walls were filled with books and art, and the food was amazing!

After breakfast, we made our way over to Old Montréal. We parked in a garage and made our way to our first stop: the Notre-Dame Basilica. No words can truly express the beauty and magnificence of this church. Having been to Paris and seeing the Notre-Dame there, I was able to see the similarities and differences between the two. Both, however, were breathtaking. Ian and I paid to see the inside and spent some time taking in the Basilica. I was awe struck and felt at peace.

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After we visited the Notre-Dame, we walked around the streets of Old Montréal. It brought me back to those days in Paris—the cobblestone streets, shops, cafés and bistros, amazing architecture, and of course, crêpes!

 

We made our way down to the St. Lawrence River and took in the beautiful sights. We walked along the river and made our way to Place Jacques-Cartier, a square filled with even more restaurants and shops. Ian and I vistied the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. It is one of the oldest churches in Montreal, built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel. It is the resting place of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, who was the first teacher in the colony of Ville-Marie and the founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame. This was a special site for Ian, for St. Marguerite is the patron of his high school education.

Exploring Old Montréal reminded me so much of Europe; it was wonderful to spend some time away from the busy city and step back in time for a while. Ian commented how we don’t see streets like this back home. Maybe we haven’t explored enough of the United States, but there is a stunning beauty to the elaborate facades of each storefront. The old city lived up to its expectations and for any visitor to the area, it is an absolute must-see.