Mind, Body, and Soul Project

Being single has been a blessing in disguise. It’s a never ending quest for self-improvement each day. Without the distraction of a boy or a relationship to occupy my thoughts, I’ve had time to reflect and change the things about my life that make me unhappy. I’ve tried to distill my plan to a manageable set of ideas that I hope to achieve on a daily basis.

Each day I do something to better my mind, my body, and my spirit/soul.

And you know what? It’s really working.

I feel better and happier at every small accomplishment for myself. Instead of getting wrapped up in the dramatics of life, I step back and think about the little changes I can tweak to make it a happy day, every day.

Mind

Each morning I wake up and start my day with a TED Talk. If you haven’t been exposed to this wonderful site yet, it hosts videos from conferences around the world where speakers present innovative, funny, inspiring, and new ideas. Please check it out if you have even just 3 minutes to spare.

I actually do my homework. Because let’s face it, a lot of college kids take our education for granted. A reading is something we highlight and skim over in order to have a vague understanding in case the professor asks us a question over it. God forbid we actually learn.

I meditate. I try to think about my actions, I reflect on what I say to people. I’m mindful. I try to create my own internal happiness and I realize that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to, whether that’s compassion, forgiveness, or personal growth.

Body

When I went through a weight loss phase, I went to the gym religiously, counting down the minutes I would endure on the godforsaken treadmill. I would then come home and eat steamed vegetables or boiled egg whites, compulsively entering my calories into a food diary. I only drank water. By that I mean no alcohol. 

I literally and physically worked my ass off.

You can’t live like that forever. We’re meant to enjoy food in moderation. There are other ways to exercise without it feeling like torture. Now, I go to the gym each day and I run until I feel good. I smile while I’m there because I know that my body is meant to be used every day. I lift weights to foster a sense of strength, both internally and externally. I leave when I feel done, without the watchful eye of the clock looming over my workout.

And it all feels good because it’s no longer a chore.

happy

Soul

The greatest part about my project is all of the aspects are interconnected. Each workout fosters happiness and satisfaction. Each new item I learn makes me feel empowered and intelligent. So ultimately the other two could be the only things I did and I would still feel wonderful inside and out.

Instead, every day I do something that I want to do wholeheartedly. Yesterday it was reading a book and making espresso. Today it’s writing this blog at my favorite coffee shop. Tomorrow it might be yoga, making dinner with a friend, or just sitting in my room with incense and listening to music with the windows open. Last week I woke up every morning and danced around my room to this song.

Most of the time it’s ending the day with a good beer or a glass of red wine….or both.

These little things may seem so insignificant they could be considered a waste of time, but I look forward to them. These moments make waking up worthwhile. The drudgery of work, school, time commitments, and exhaustive conversations don’t have to define my day. I appreciate and enjoy those few seconds where I feel content with my choice to fulfill my desires. These inner victories give me a sense of accomplishment and provide the momentum to tackle the bigger dreams. Eventually it will be taking the steps to move to Austin, TX after graduation or finding a job that I look forward to doing every day.

But I still want to take the time to sit outside, breathe, and enjoy the sunshine. I enjoy everyone to do the same because it can change the course of your day.

I Can’t Wait For: Viva Espana!


After talking with a very good friend abroad right now, Spain is a happening place to visit!

Not that this would be news to anyone. I mean, the Cheetah Girls went to Spain, so it must be quite awesome.

Basically, Barcelona and Madrid are now on my list of places to visit while abroad next semester in Florence, Italy. I cannot wait to explore these cities per recommendations from friends and travel sites. I’ve heard from many people that Barcelona is the worst city for pickpockets and I’ll have to watch my stuff closely while traveling the streets. However, to combat this negative comment, I’ve also heard Barcelona has the most incredible nightlife in Europe and I can’t wait to explore their bars and clubs!

Madrid is said to be the ‘Spanish Paris’ (and as you may know, I am most excited to visit Paris, despite comments of it being overrated). Madrid is said to be beautiful, well kept, and a vibrant city full of Spanish culture. While it may not have the grunge and artistic feel that I’ll love in Barcelona, it will have breath-taking architecture and museums.

The most important factor about Spain is it’s relative costs compared to other European cities. Clothes, food, and hostels are all cheaper than most big cities, making Spain a cost efficient trip for study abroad students like myself.

To See and Do

Most of Europe is known for the amazing churches that display incredible architectural feats from centuries past. Spain is no exception. In Barcelona I’ll have to see La Sagrada Família and the Sinagoga Maj14, both are religious sanctuaries. I will need to see the Picasso Museum and I’ll probably take a tapas tour to taste the cities.  In Madrid I will visit the Retiro Park and visit the Royal Palace of Madrid in addition to visiting a multitude of museums in the area.

As for Barcelona nightlife, I’d like to go to Razz Matazz and Opium, per suggestions of Ashley. If I go in the the warmer months, I’ll try to visit an outdoor bar Liquidor an upscale bar called Palau de Dalmases – Espai Barroc. In Madrid I’ll try spend my night out on the town visiting Adraba and try to catch some jazz music at Café Central and grab a famous cocktail at Museo Chicote. Barcelona is known for late night partying throughout the weekends so I’m sure I won’t be disappointed when I venture out to paint the town rojo.

Above is a picture of Ashley near the Barcelona port. Isn’t she precious? 🙂

56 Days

As I enter my countdown to Italy, I am starting to realize a few things.

I cannot wait to leave.

It’s been a wonderful semester so far, but I am ready to expand my horizons (as corny and cliche as that may sound) and embark on a journey (even cornier, but still true). I feel that TCU has allowed me to take incredible courses and meet extraordinary friends but I’m ready to see what else is out there. I understand that being alone and on my own for several months will be difficult, but I’m excited to get to know myself a little better. I constantly picture myself walking the streets of Florence, drinking in the environment, and getting a better understanding of what it means to be abroad. So although I’ve spent a large amount of time on this blog discussing the places in Europe I want to visit, I know that Florence will be my home abroad.

I Can’t Wait For: Berlin


It’s a city that has a rich history and an awesome nightlife. Lonely Planet likens it to New York City in the 80’s with all of the grungy artistic culture that overwhelms the city. After talking to a few friends about their study abroad adventures in Berlin, I think this actually might be a great choice for my sister and I while we are traveling. There is a ton of cultural history to explore during the day but at the same time there is a vast amount of clubs and bars to entertain us during the evening.

Day Activities

Moviemento is rated as one of the top things to do in Berlin and I have to agree that the oldest cinema in Berlin sounds pretty cool. The 3-screen theater holds only a 100 people and shows foreign films throughout the day If my sister was visiting in February, I would totally head to Berlin for their German independent film festival, Berlinale. But unfortunately, we would be traveling there in March.

I think I’ll book a few tours for us, especially the Berlinagenten tour, which takes you to see unique stores and restaurants in Berlin. Maybe they’ll take us by Colours, a local thrift store that won’t break the bank.

I also CANNOT wait to see the ultimate graffiti expression the Kunsthaus Tacheles.This space was inspired by post-revolution artists who displayed their emotions via spray cans. I love contemporary art and  would consider this to be art.

Nightlife

I think for our first night there, I might book a New Berlin Tour, which is a pub crawl around Berlin’s best bars and hangouts. Then after we are familiarized with the city, we can venture out on our own the next few nights. There are so many clubs and bars I want to see that it may be hard to fit in everything! First I think we could start out a night at the Floating Lounge, which is a good spot to meet local Germans who are friendly. My friends have told me that I absolutely MUST visit Berghain/Panoramabar, also known as the best club in the world. No seriously, that’s its reputation. Then we could head over to the river to Bar 25, if it’s not too cold. I want to check out Künstliche Beatmung, which is an ultra-retro club which could be an awesome night of dancing if we go on Friday or Saturday.


I think my main objective in Berlin is to have some great nights going out, while still trying to drag myself out of bed in the mornings to see all the historical sites they have to offer. I know my sister is definitely wanting to go to some places where she can get a little crazy so I think Berlin may definitely be the place to go. I hope I get to dress as cute as some of the native Berliners on Chictopia do.


I Can’t Wait: To be an American in Paris

“So just love, make mistakes, and have wonderful times, but never second guess who you are, where you have been, and most importantly, where it is you are going.” -Carrie Bradshaw

My eternal icon, Carrie Bradshaw, traveled to Paris (aka her Mecca) in the final two episodes of Sex and the City. The fashion, the plot, and the breath-taking scenery could easily make these some of my favorite episodes. Did I mention the clothes they feature in these episodes? Some of the most memorable outfits are featured in these episodes, rightfully so because Paris deserved awe-inspiring fashion.

Like I said, amazing.

So, the whole point being, I absolutely cannot wait to go to Paris. It’s the city of love and I do love love.

Notre Dame, Effifel Tower, La Siene River and the Lourve are all the things you must do while in Paris. Which of course, I will do. However, I’m wanting to know some of the other activities and places that draw people in to Paris.

Well what else is there to do? Well shopping would be a top contender.

Shopping

I will certainly be pinching pennies this summer if I want to afford anything in Paris. The first stores I will be checking out are the vintage stores which can have a range of Parisian secondhand fashion. Aspasie & Mathieu is a vintage store that is known for great accessories. Le Dépôt-Vente de Buci is another vintage store that has great fashion, supposedly marked down 20-30% more than other stores. As I’m stated before, I love a good flea market (or any type of market, really) and Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen is a flea market with tons of stalls dedicated to vintage fashion. But the number one place to go shopping in Paris is the Galeries Lafayette which touts over 75,000 brand name items. There is even a fashion show every Friday! Can you said Oui!

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Entertainment

Moulin Rouge, another great draw for Paris, is going to be first stop for a night of cabaret. If it’s anything like the movie I may just do ahead and start freaking out now. I’m definitely going to see a French play, preferably by Moliere and Comédie Française has three stages and each one usually features a French playwright for the evening. Cannibale Café is a hip bar/restaurant with decently prices meals and a cool atmosphere to enjoy a few drinks with friends. The Frog & British Library is a popular cafe with students so I’m sure if we hung out here for a bit we could possibly make some international friends-if they don’t absolutely hate Americans already. Maybe I’m start out by saying I’m from Texas…and use a heavy accent.

While I always use Lonely Planet to find some good reference material for traveling, I recently found Fodor’s Travel Intelligence which has a good category called “Places to Explore” which lists the neighborhoods to check out in a city.

Overall, Paris is something that I want to ask people about. It’s a place that you can’t plan for and has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you can’t really experience until you are there. I guess this is one trip I’m just going to have to make an impromptu adventure.

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Loader-saveTravel tip from my friend abroad right now: The Jewish ghetto of Florence has some really cool stores and is a great area to explore.
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I Can’t Wait For: Istanbul, Turkey

After a lot of consideration (and checking flight deals) Istanbul seems like a great candidate for my spring break while studying abroad next spring.

Although India would be extremely interesting to see, especially the tree where Buddha supposedly reached enlightenment under, I feel like it might be just a little unsafe for me traveling alone. Indonesia is still my number one pick for spring break, however, tickets to Bali cost over $1,000 and that is definitely pricey for my budget. I really do want to see them both someday, but those might have to be saved for when I’m actually working for a salary, instead of my minimum hourly wage.

So Istanbul it is! The cultural history of Turkey is something that I feel will impact my study abroad experience. With all the Western countries I’m going to see, it might be nice to travel just a little bit to the East.

Shopping

From what I’ve begun researching, shopping in Istanbul is going to be excellent, and definitely something I will be looking forward to. The Istanbul Spice Bazaar will by the first thing I check out. I don’t think there will be tons of clothes, but just seeing it will be fantastic. Sali Pazari is another market that boasts the cheapest clothes around. It’s a bit of trek to get there but I feel like it might be worth it. A La Turca is great for antique shopping and highly recommended to see. Mor Taki is a great source for Turkish jewelry (something the women there love is bling) while Yargici is a great shopping destination for almost anything, also with an amazing and affordable selection of jewelry. According to Travel Muse, Yargici is comparable to my beloved Gap, which means it’s going to be a hit with me.

Excursions

I’ve looked at a few travel packages and several of them sound quite amazing and pretty cheap for several hours of touring.

Imperial Istanbul Half-day Tour

Discover Imperial Istanbul on this half-day sightseeing tour. Visit Hagia Sophia, which is today one of the most magnificent museums in the world, the Blue Mosque Hippodrome with its Egyptian Obelisk, a remarkable pink granite monument built 3,500 years ago by an Egyptian pharoah. Last but not least experience the Grand Bazar of Istanbul. Well recovered for over 1,500 years, Hagia Sophia is named as one of the most remarkable museums in the world. Two stories of ancient history confronts everyone in this well preserved structure. The next stop will be at the Blue Mosque Hippodrome just in the middle of the Sultan Ahmed area including the impressive ancient Egyptian Obelisk. After leaving the Blue Mosque Hippodrome, you will finally have the opportunity to do some haggling at the Grand Bazaar, with it’s 4400 shops!

Going Out

The more I research Istanbul, the more set I become on going. It’s a huge metropolitan city with tons of different options. My favorite bar I’ve looked up so far has been Ada, which is half book/music store and half bar/cafe. I guess there are even hipsters in Istanbul. If I want a relaxing or quiet evening, I’m definitely going to hit up Anemon Galata Bar where you can sip drinks and watch the sun set over Istanbul. Angelique seems like the type of place to just have a good time with dinner, drinks, and some dancing. For a crazy night out you’ll be able to find me at Araf, dancing the night away to fist-pumping Turkish techno.

 

 

Istanbul seems like it could be a dream come true. Culture clashes with modern ideas, with lots of shopping and entertainment spread throughout the city. It also seems somewhat affordable with $200 plane tickets, $50 trip fees, and a range of prices for shopping and bars this could be the perfect destination for my spring break.

I Can’t Wait for: Amsterdam

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was going to try to post little informational posts on places I’m looking forward to traveling to while I’m studying abroad next spring. One of my closest friends is actually leaving for the Netherlands in August because she will be studying at the Maastricht University for a semester. Maastricht is outside of Amsterdam but still a short train ride away from Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. After talking to my friend, I was starting to consider all of the different things I want to do while I’m there.

Nightlife

So the nightlife of Amsterdam is notorious for being…well…awesome. So I’m really looking forward to that. Two of the areas that are well-known for cafes and clubs (also known as  discothèques) in  Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein. There are also a tons of theaters in Holland that I would love to see a show at. Of course, no trip out in Amsterdam would be complete without seeing the Red Light District

Shopping

I love markets. I hate that America really lacks on them. Especially Texas. I’ve heard rumors that the Fort Worth Flea Market can have some really cool stuff…or just a bunch of worthless junk. So I’m excited to see that some of Amsterdam’s top shopping spots are markets, like Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam. It’s open every day except Sunday and has hundreds of stalls with tons of moderately priced clothes and food. Another good shopping area is the Magna Plaza Shopping Center. This is one of the most prized architectural buildings in the Netherlands. I feel like I’m almost going to be more tempted to stare at the outside than venture inside to window shop at the rather expansive “mall”.

Sights to See

There are several things to do and visit in Amsterdam during the day like museums like The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and squares like the Around Dam Square. There is architecture (like the Royal Palace) and several attractions like canal cruises, along with even more jazz clubs and theaters.

I’m really excited to see Amsterdam and what it has to offer. unfortunately, I’m really worried about pronouncing any of these names.

I Can’t Wait For: Florence, Italy

This is the beginning of a new category in my blog called I Can’t Wait For, where I will be researching and virtually exploring all the places I eventually want to see in Europe. Since I’m going to be spending about 5 months in Europe, specifically Florence, Italy, I thought I might start reading up on some of the best things to do in city.

So far, the shopping is making me want to hop on a plan right now and start ravaging through the massive leather markets in Florence. Thanks to another blogger, I was able to read up on some of the great opportunities to snag an amazing italian leather item. It sounds like a dream come true, with several tons of leather to choose from. It reminds me a lot of the Queen Victoria Markets in Australia, where I bought  my amazing leather backpack which is one of my favorite purchases from Australia.

I know the museums are going to be art overload in Florence. With Italy being the birthplace of the Renaissance, how could you not go to the hundreds of museums over there? I plan on doing a lot of art hopping over there, but I’m hoping to find a few amazing galleries with some modern art work and graphic design to see. I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to find some studios where I can see work, but I know there are several design schools where hopefully I can see some spectacular Italian coursework. The Florence Institute of Design is one school I keep hearing about and also the school I will be attending, Lorenzo de Medici, an international school over there will have some student work to display.

Last, I’ve heard about gelato. I’ve had American gelato, but everyone tells me that legit Italian gelato is amazing. I’ve also heard about the wine and the cheese. I’m not sure if Italy can top Wisconsin cheese, which I was basically raised on because my dad is from there, but I can’t wait to try it. Apparently, Le Fonticine is amazing place to try for some awesome pasta dishes. I have to admit, while food is all amazing and what not, I’m somewhat of a picky eater. As open minder as I am with most things, food is just one thing that it pretty difficult for me to handle.

Overall, I can’t wait to absorb some of the amazing culture over there. I’m sure I will be adding more posts about Florence in the next coming months. I have an entire year to get ready for my experience abroad. Hopefully I’ll be adding some articles about Italian language and of course, more fashion spots to hit up.

 

Next to come: The Loomis Agency. The advertising agency that I will be interning with this summer. Just to give some insight on a small, but mighty, advertising firm in Dallas, Texas.