My Facebook Hiatus

2016 was another roller coaster for the books. As you know, it was election year. Politics have never been more prevalent in the lives of so many until that god-forsaken election eased its way into our November. I’ve always known that people were easily manipulated but the power of the media reached a record high if you ask me. As I watched rants and raves and arguments among friends, I became really sad and gravely disappointed. When Donald Trump won, I lost faith in the American people. And when I realized Hillary had the popular vote by millions, I lost hope in our democratic process. I found myself in a pit of despair and I just couldn’t add to it by seeing all of the opposing posts on social media from people that I actually care about. That being said, I deleted my Facebook account on November 9th. When I deleted my Facebook, I feel like I disconnected from the world…in the best way possible.

This has been an eye-opening experience to be honest. A close friend of mine hounded me for a while because she was upset that she couldn’t “tag” me in her posts. A couple of people thought I had deleted them so I’ve had to explain that I actually deleted my whole account. Facebook can be a great way to network and stay connected with friends and family. I wish I could tell you that I miss it but I don’t. I don’t miss constant reminders of how easy people are to manipulate. For example, I could go 5 months and not hear a word from many of my FB friends. But I would bet a large sum of money that if I changed my relationship status they would flock to it like vultures on a rotting carcass. Like puppets on a string, it doesn’t take much to make people move. The sad part is that all too often, the motivation for connection is very shallow. That is something that I just can’t accommodate. I need depth in my life. I need for my connections with people to be more than self-centered political rants that don’t consider who might be affected by them. I need for my connections to be motivated by something more than a curiosity-driven post on my wall. I need to know that I have people in my life…my REAL life…who care enough to stay connected beyond my absence on every social media platform that’s out there. My social media presence is now limited to just a few that serve pretty direct purposes for me. I kept my Instagram because I love having a space to document my life in photos. I kept my Snapchat because I get to see my friends’ beautiful faces along with their constant contact whether we’re near or far. I also kept WhatsApp so that I could stay connected with some of the most inspiring women I know, and so that we could have a common place to encourage each other every day.

My connections may be fewer but they are deeper and that is exactly what I am aiming for by being selective with my time on social media. Any well-educated nutritionist would tell you that you should eat food with a purpose. We shouldn’t be eating junk because it taste great. We should be eating food for the purpose of nourishing and fueling our bodies. Kale may not be the best tasting dish but it’s packed with nutrients that we can benefit from. I’m not saying we should completely deprive ourselves of any indulgence. I’m just saying we should be mindful of whether or not we are feeding our needs more than we are our desires. My eating habits may need some (a lot of) fine-tuning but I do believe that we should use this concept to guide more than just our diets. I think it’s important for us to examine our relationships and the use of our time and ask ourselves “what kind of nourishment is this providing for my life?” Minimalists say the same thing regarding our material possessions. If our homes and our personal spaces are cluttered with things that don’t add genuine value to our lives, then it’s probably time to do some cleaning. I don’t think we realize how much we tend to hold on to. We don’t realize that when we crowd our lives, and our minds, and our physical spaces with things that we don’t need, we take up so much space (physically and mentally) that could be used for growth.

Whether you feel like you are completely content with where you are right now, or you are dying for a change, it never hurts to take inventory of your life. Look at every aspect and be honest with yourself. This is an ongoing process for me. I’m okay with admitting that I have not mastered any of this. The point is, I’m not going to stop working at it. Deactivating Facebook gave me a chance to breathe and it also gave me a chance to see who is in my life for the long haul, regardless of my lack of a profile. These are the people that I am holding onto and these are the people who will always have a reserved space in my life.

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Wanderlust

If you google “wanderlust” you’ll find the term defined as follows:

wanderlust

 It may come as no surprise that I suffer from an insatiable case of wanderlust. After my first trip to Kosrae in 1998, I came back to the US and I haven’t been able to sit still since. That being said, I did manage to live in Greenville for 6 years after returning. How? Well I found that the more I travel, the better I can tolerate living in the same place for an extended period of time. A couple of trips to Hawaii, visits to NYC and Arizona, and several roadtrips were key! The average length of my normal stay in one place has been about 2 years. For some reason after the 2 year mark, I either get anxious or I find some solid excuse to submerge myself in new scenery.

In 2012 I thought long and hard about moving to DC. I had a couple of reasons of course. I fell in love with the area for its mix of cultures and rich history. I also fell for a girl who lived in the vicinity. It didn’t take long before the frequent roadtrips rekindled the thought of moving there. Before I knew it, that relationship had fallen apart but I felt like I was too deep in the process to just back out. It did give me a solid chance to examine my reasons for moving. When all was said and done, I knew that I wanted this change. Regardless of the relationship that didn’t work out, I had no doubt that I was doing it for myself. Was it the best decision of my life? Yes. Yes it was.

That decision crossed my path with that of my soulmate. I am very blessed to have a few friends that I consider my “besties”. The wonderful thing is that they are all so different and I love them all (equally) for very unique reasons. After a year of sharing a home on the edge of DC, Michelle earned her spot amongst some of my favorite souls.

In 2014, Michelle was scheduled for a business trip to Mexico City. When she asked me if I wanted to meet her in Cabo San Lucas, I immediately said yes! I already had a plane ticket that was supposed to be used for Hawaii. (I cancelled that trip because once you’ve seen Hawaii 11 times…well…it loses its appeal). Cabo was not the trip that you would expect from the 2 girls who loved to frequent the local neighborhood bars and “occasionally” overindulge in the libations. It was amazing nonetheless. We woke up every morning to catch the sunrise. We soaked in a hot tub under the stars. We ate the most delicious food at the least touristy spots. We explored cacti in the Wirikuta Garden. We conversed with the most charming local residents (all of whom thought I spoke fluent Spanish). We took a seemingly long roadtrip to La Paz where we enjoyed some of the freshest seafood. And one of my favorite memories…we pulled off the side of a long lonely highway, into a super sketchy abandoned drive way in the middle of the desert….to watch the sunset of course! I can’t begin to describe what it’s like to watch a fiery sun dip into an ocean horizon while sharing the canvas with fields of giant cacti. Photos don’t do it justice. All I can tell you is that trip fueled my wanderlust even more!

For me, traveling isn’t about taking a vacation and getting rest. In fact, if you know me, you know I don’t really like to rest at all. I travel because I’m fascinated with life and all it has to offer. I love experiencing new things and getting to know ways of life that are different from the one I grew up knowing. This world is full of so much natural beauty and there’s nothing better than being in the midst of that and just soaking it all in.

Wanderlust will always be ingrained in my soul. I’ll never cease to be amazed by this planet. My only wish is to discover as much of it as I possibly can while I’m here. And when I’m gone, you can believe that my soul is going to cover any places that I’ve missed.

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2016 “Resolutions”

I smile when I hear people speak of their new year’s resolutions. So many have become calloused after many failed attempts to follow through with their goals. Year after year we have the best of intentions. It’s as if the new start makes everything fresh…including our faith in ourselves. I for one, think that it’s a beautiful thing to see people who are willing to try again.

I am one of those people. My biggest struggle thus far has been my health and my weight. Between gym memberships, Pinterest motivation boards, protein shakes, fitness challenges, cleanses, and more, I have tried and failed many times. Luckily I have had just enough success to know what I am capable of. That is enough for me to never stop trying. I have my moments of weakness and I am currently in the midst of my longest “weak streak” ever. I have lacked motivation for too long now. I’ve set goal dates for improvement and watched as they passed me by. However I refuse to accept this rut that I’ve been stuck in. Physically, I feel awful. I know what I have to do and I am going to be one of the thousands who set their goals high for the new year.

My fitness goals go hand in hand with every other goal I have. In 2016, I want to continue to learn and grow and pave the way for my future. I can’t do any of this if I don’t take care of myself mentally AND physically. I know I am not an expert on these things but I have decided to start a list of everything that I am committing myself to doing in order to get myself to where I need to be. I have no doubt that this list will grow but this will do for a start.

For my health goals:

  • I will do no less than 5 hours of exercise/physical activity every week
  • I will cut out bad carbs (pasta, bread, rice, and all other bad sugary things)
  • I will plan my meals and shop for groceries instead of eating out
  • Goodbye fast food! I’ll miss you for a minute (trust me, it passes!)
  • I will make sure that I get all the vitamins and nutrients that I need
  • I will keep a written journal to track all that I do!

For my overall personal enrichment:

  • Throughout 2016, I will visit at least 10 places I’ve never been before
  • I will pour more into my artistic side and  create at least one piece of art each month
  • I will finish every book that I currently own and have not read
  • I will make time to volunteer for good causes as often as possible
  • I will complete my college courses with a B+ or higher
  • I will set aside money into my savings each week
  • I will always have something to give to those who are less fortunate (whether it’s a dollar, a sandwich, or a warm pair of gloves…I’ll show generosity every chance I get)
  • I won’t waste my days with idleness
  • I will chase more sunsets and wake up for more sunrises
  • I will savor every moment with my friends and family
  • I’ll make sure the people who mean the most, always know that I love them
  • I will live with purpose
  • I will live without regret.

I don’t expect 100% perfection but if I fall I will get up and I will keep pushing forward. My expectations are high and I am determined to meet them. In the grand scheme of things, I want this to be a year full of growth and love and some really awesome times. I want to make a positive difference in this world in whatever way I can, big or small. Time is precious and this life is precious and I will never take any of this for granted.

As you set your resolutions for 2016, I wish you nothing but strength and peace. I ask that you give it all you’ve got but above all, never stop trying!

xoxo

Goodbye 2015

As this year winds down and we prepare our hearts and minds for a new start, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this year. I came into 2015 in a relationship that I thought would last long past June 19th. Alas, that was not the case. I won’t take you through the ups and downs that lead up to us parting ways but I will tell you that we had both become unhappy people. The love I had for her was real and it was hard to let go of. But that doesn’t mean that we were meant to be. I was in constant battle with myself and I felt guilty because I knew that I was shutting down but I didn’t know how to stop. The break-up wasn’t quite as painful as what came directly after. Yet I found myself feeling grateful for that pain because that pain is what pushed me forward and gave me the strength to truly let go and move on. Despite the mix of feelings that I had to go through, my ex’s honesty enabled me to move on without anger. I have respect for people who are honest even when it goes against their better judgement. It’s easy to live by the mentality that “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”. But I have found that there is freedom in complete honesty. The truth may hurt but it also facilitates the healing process.

Our break-up was a significant turning point in my year. It coincided with a 5-month health scare. I had been going through some serious complications and my first doctor’s appointment was scheduled a week after our split. That appointment offered no peace of mind and the next few months consisted of a series of tests, scans, and even a surgery. I am beyond happy to say that in the end, all was well. I have no serious health problems and everything is back to normal.

Being single again means a lot to me. To some it means being alone, starting over, and/or getting back into the dating pool. To me it means living for myself and making decisions without regard for someone who I once shared a life with. Being the free spirited gypsy girl that I am, I tend to prefer this freedom. However, when I’m with someone, I consider them in everything I do…whether it’s plans for the weekend or plans for the following year, my person will always be a part of my decision-making.

Being on my own prompted me to think about the future as well as the present. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some awesome things this year. This was my second year participating in the Chris4Life Annual Scope It Out 5k (for colon cancer awareness), and it was also my second year participating in Relay for Life. I had a chance to do some volunteer work with the NC Harm Reduction Coalition (which I plan to do more of in the upcoming year). These are the type of things that I want to pour into for 2016.

Throughout this crazy roller coaster of a year, my future endeavors are becoming more and more clear. So as I exit 2015, I’m taking new vision along with late nights that turned into early mornings, spontaneous roadtrips, drunk kisses, heartfelt moments, sad goodbyes, happy reunions, and countless adventures! Overall 2015 was a great year. Every year has its ups and downs but I am happy to say that the highs have certainly outweighed the lows. Here’s wishing you all the best 2016 you could possibly dream of!

xoxo

K.A.E

As I sit here going through ideas for this post, I feel like the natural flow of things would lead me to tell you about Kayla. After all, she had such a huge part in the making of who I am today.

Kayla was the whitest island girl I’ve ever seen. (I say that with the utmost love!) Her mother married my uncle and he adopted her at a very young age. She grew up with us. All of our family parties and gatherings were held in their backyard. It was in the middle of no where and we could play our music as loud as we wanted and we could dance as long as we wanted. She was a snarky little kid who would call you out if she saw you doing something wrong (this never changed). She was also a daddy’s girl, a lover of horses, a mother of cats, and I watched her grow up to be such a sweet (and slightly spicy) soul. 

It’s weird how the younger generation catches up to mine. I know that I’m older and I know that I’ve matured over the years. But despite the significant age gap, I feel like they just keep catching up and I keep standing still. Kids that once sat on my lap are now adults who hang out with me. Regardless of my adult responsibilities, it’s as if we aren’t so far apart any more. It was like that with Kayla. We were kindred spirits and we just clicked. She became my sidekick we did so much together. I watched her open her heart to people without judgement or hesitation. I watched her forgive when it wasn’t deserved. And I watched her hold me at the lowest point of my life. She had my back like no other and she never thought twice about it.

Things took a turn when Kayla was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 18. I’ll never forget that phone call. But more so than that, I’ll never forget her first surgery to remove part of her colon, when the doctor told us it was already stage 4 and it had spread. I can’t come close to telling you what that was like, but I can tell you that it was the worst pain I had ever felt. I was angry and confused…..unbelievably confused. How could we be getting this bad news when there were so many people praying? People were in church lighting candles! Everyone I know was praying that this surgery would be successful and fix the problem. She was only 18. There was no way that could be her fate! We were shocked to say the least.

Although I can’t remember the exact timelines, she was given a short one to live if she chose not to go through chemo, and I believe about a year or two with chemo. She chose to fight. She took the treatments and she continued to live her life to the fullest. She kept going to school and she kept working as long as she was able. She was so determined and I’ve never seen anyone with so much ambition and drive, regardless of her circumstances. Not only that, but she continued to be so selfless. I’ve never seen anything like it. She could be in the hospital, battling insomnia due to all of her meds, and she would say something like “take care of yourself, you need to get plenty of rest!” I would look at her with bewilderment, as if she was crazy. This girl was fighting for her life yet she was concerned for MY well-being!

I struggled with this…all of this. I fought depression and I kept a straight face for her and the rest of our family. We were all going through it together and we all dealt with it the best way we knew how. I just wanted to be strong for her. We finally had a very emotional talk about the reality of everything. We both cried our eyes out. I didn’t want her to know what I was holding in but she actually felt better knowing that someone else was feeling just as low as she felt and she wasn’t carrying it alone.

Her battled ended on November 2, 2012….just a little over 2 months before she would’ve turned 21. The greatest gift I’ve ever received, was being able to be there…to thank her for everything she had ever done for me…and to tell her how much she meant to me. I held her as she took her last breath in that cancer-ridden body. I held her as her spirit finally found freedom. And as much as I wish she was still here, there is a selfless part of me that is so happy that she doesn’t have to suffer any more. I still miss her every single day. I still have days when I cry so hard that I can’t even breath. But I’ll bear the pain of missing her because I know she is free.

Kayla taught me how to love, how to live, and how to work hard for what I want. She is the reason that I wake up early every day. She’s the reason I don’t complain and she’s the reason I make my days count. I’m so grateful for this life. It gets hard at times. Every day isn’t perfect and sometimes I fail miserably. But that’s all part of being human. The important thing is that we live….we live with every ounce of our souls and we love with every bit of our hearts. We may have down days but the beautiful thing is, we get a re-do with every sunrise. My happiness isn’t in material things or what others think of me. My happiness is in seeing the beauty that surrounds me, helping people when I can, holding on tightly to the people who love me unconditionally, and letting go of anything that isn’t meant to be. I’ve had my share of life lessons but Kayla was my biggest thus far.

KAE

Wild child

I have mad respect for people who can create a blog that focuses on one category (i.e. food, travel, personal advice, “how to”, etc). I truly admire that kind of consistency! However, I can go ahead and tell you that I don’t possess it. This blog will be completely random and all over the place. I may share my personal beliefs today and my favorite recipe tomorrow. All I can tell you is that I am anything but predictable.

Today I’ll continue with the introduction. After all, you still don’t know much about me. The things listed in my first post could apply to any free spirited girl, right?

Well this free spirit was born of roots that are spread out about as far as you could possibly stretch! My mom is from a tiny town in Eastern North Carolina. I grew up on the country side. We had  few neighbors and a lot of cotton fields. Most of my family didn’t (and some still don’t) approve of interracial marriages. To this day, I believe the only thing I got from them is a touch of stubbornness and a lot of freckles. Our views and beliefs couldn’t clash any worse. They love me nonetheless!

My “father” on the other hand, is from a speck on the globe. It’s a teeny tiny island in the middle of the Pacific ocean. My first visit was complete culture shock. It took me about three months to adjust to life there. I was 15 years old and a long way from home.

Thinking back to that time in my life, I’m quite certain that that experience played a significant part in the birth of my gypsy soul. To have left everything I knew at such a young age, and experience a world that was completely foreign, and most importantly, to have adapted and grown to love that world, well, it was empowering to say the least. In retrospect, I have no doubt that it opened my eyes to possibilities. It instilled courage to step out of my comfort zone and it sparked a hunger for more…I’ve been wild ever since.

Who am I?

I’m the girl who chases sunsets, wakes up early for sunrises, and completely geeks out at the sight of the stars! I will always be mesmerized by the way they dance in the sky.

I’m the girl who absolutely adores her family…and believes that the term “family” has nothing to do with blood and everything to do with unfailing, unwavering, and unconditional love.

I’m the walking contradiction who loves security and stability but runs from commitment. I’m the free spirit that panics at the thought of being tied down or held back from living life to the absolute fullest.

I’m the girl who doesn’t entertain negative energy because life is just too fucking short and there’s no time to be anything but happy!

I’m the crabby Cancerian with a hard shell and a soft heart. And when I love…I love hard.

I’m a late night, early morning, spontaneous adventuring, music loving, hot tea drinking, night fishing, adrenaline junkie, deep conversationalist, star-gazing, nature walking, gin and tonic sipping, messy-haired, dancing while no one (or everyone) is looking kind of girl.

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