Monthly Archives: April 2014

Zeal and Zest and the Definition of Success


What does success look like? Is it a white picket fence on a 2 story house? Is it a penthouse suite of a high rise with plenty of money to spend around the city? For many, I think the automatic definition of success means a high up position, a job with plenty of money coming in, and having lots of things. ThingsHowever, I don’t buy the line of thinking that money= happiness and success. I believe that there are plenty of people in the world that are considered successful by society at large because of their financial status, but that’s not the kind of success I would ever want for myself.

I will feel successful if I have a job that I can love and feel passionate about.  I will feel successful if I feel I am making a difference in this world with my work and what I put into it. A job I can feel both zeal and zest for. I will feel successful if I am able to get married and have children in the future and raise a family with respect for each other and strong values.

This is part of my own definition of success. I won’t feel successful even if I make a million dollars if I don’t have those things. Things that aren’t tangible, but that I can feel and need and be happy and passionate about.

Alisha posted yesterday about her definition of success, and I definitely wanted to share my 2 cents on the subject too. I loved the way she put her definition of success into words, and it surprised me that although both of our visions of what we want to do in life are so different, our definitions of success are so similar. We both want to feel genuinely happy and do what we are passionate about.

What does success mean to you? What does that look like?


Today’s words were zest and zeal. Zest is a vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment, zeal is a feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause). Today is also the last day of blogging in April from A to Z! It’s been a fun month, coming up with ways to incorporate the letter of the day, even if I didn’t blog every day, it still kept me motivated to try!

India | Travel Tuesday


(I know it’s Wednesday, but I couldn’t get all the pictures I wanted just right until today, so forgive me for being a day late!)

India is one of my favorite places to talk about. It is a country where I’ve certainly learned a lot about both the world and myself. Much of my time in India was spent in the city of Pune, where I volunteered in a daycare and after school program that also worked to educate the mother’s of the children we cared for. I was so inspired by these women and strive every day to work hard with thoughts of their work ethic. Of course, at the end of my time in India, I took a few days to do the tourist things- see the Taj Mahal, the streets of Delhi and Agra.


I’ve been to India twice now, and 100% loved the country more each day I spent there. It’s a country in which I’ve grown immensely, I’ve learned and loved deeply, made life long friends who I cherish, and had my world opened to a new way of living. My first trip was in high school, and my second was in college, so it was a different experience each time. Similarly, each time my whole world was changed and and I had went through great transformations as a person there.

by wall




One thing that stayed the same was this woman, one of my other mothers, a good friend and mentor throughout the years. I’m so blessed to have her in my life.

Fran and I

And now I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. A country full of beauty, culture, and contradictions.




with kids IMG_78359511490025 taj

with 2 kids



Weekly Wishes!

weekly wishes

This weekend was a whirlwind in the very best of ways. Friday I spent cuddled up in my bed studying with D by my side. Saturday I passed my final licensure exam! I am all licensed and official to teach Special Education now! Oh, the relief.

My friend Lissette came to visit from Florida this weekend and it was so great to see her! She came up for our Alma Mater’s alumnae weekend and stayed with me Saturday night. We ended up going to the Sweetwater brewery for some Atlanta fun and then on to the zoo! We were able to see so many baby animals and the baby gorilla was one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen. Saturday night was for dancing and laughing with other alumnae at our college’s 125th birthday party! Good ole Agnes threw a good party for us.

Sunday Lissette had to leave us to drive back down to Florida, and I was in need of a relaxing day to catch up with life. I convinced D to go on a walk with me that ended up with us hanging out at the little lake in our apartment complex feeding some geese and marveling over the turtles and ducklings. We sat on the porch and just enjoyed the sunshine for a couple hours, disconnecting from the world and enjoying each other’s company. Then we came back for a nap just in time! The thunderstorms rolled in and I made sure to open all my windows to let the rain air in.

I’m so sad to see this weekend end! I think I need just one extra day!


On to weekly wishes. Last week’s goals were to

1) Get more sleep. Yep! I could still stand to work on this one but I feel a lot more caught up now!

2) Keep up with my P90X3 workouts. I’ve been doing pretty good with this! I slacked on Saturday because I was busy all day but I keep telling myself it’s worth it! 

3) Wash my face every night. Womp womp. Oh well. I did pretty well but it didn’t happen every night. Sometimes there’s just something so satisfying about falling into bed and going straight to sleep without doing any preparation. 

4) Journal every other night. I did journal quite a bit this past week. It’s helped me to process and work through some things and I feel a lot better about how my brain is working and feel more confident in my choices.

This week, my goals are pretty simple. I don’t have any more studying to do so I can work on some more self-care and work on getting some things ready for Chicago.

1) Figure out what I’m going to do with my apartment. I need to make a decision soon if I don’t want to get penalized for breaking me lease! As long as I give them enough notice I’ll be fine.

2) Plan out this coming weekend. I can’t decide if I wanna take myself on a mini-vacation or take the weekend to clean and catch up on life. I know what I should do but… my xenophilia just ignites the travel bug in me and I want to go SOMEWHERE and see new people and things!

3) Get some of my pre-institute work done for Teach for America. My licensure studying may be done but I’m no where near done with what I need to do before June! It’s a lot of work but it’s going to be so, so worth it.

4) Make some intentional time to spend with friends this week. I’ve gotten into a habit of just doing my own thing once I get home from work but I’d like to plan a couple things out of my apartment this week.

That’ll do for now. What are you goals for the week? Let me know so I can cheer you on!

Today’s word was xenophilia- an attraction to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs.

Links and things I’m loving this week:

Happy are those who dream


The past couple days I’ve been without blogging/Twitter/Pinterest on my work computers. I KNOW. The nerve. However, this has given me the opportunity to get a lot of studying done for my final certification exam tomorrow and discover other things around the internet. What, you thought I would be productive?

Airbnb– I am the last one to find out about this awesomeness? My goodness! Consider next weekend booked! I’ll be at the beach.


Maxi Dress

Isn’t this beautiful?

This dress from White Plum. Swoon. It’s so different and I love it.

My 5 o’clock shadow candle. Think of the best smelling man you know. Now available in a candle.

Vacillating between this and this hairstyle for the summer. I have some time to figure it out.

Everything from Edith Marie Jewelry! Seriously, all of her pieces are fabulous and won’t break the bank. I won a necklace from her in a giveaway and now I’m hooked!

The Skimm. You can thank me later. I don’t know who’s blog I read about this on, but it was so worth signing up for.

This post by Not Entirely Perfect with things to add to my Chicago to-do list!

The “Florkens“‘ ability to make me feel less crazy about not having cable.

Melyssa’s posting of this quote: Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” By Leon J. Suenes.


Today’s word was vacillate, to alternate or waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive.

Uganda | Travel Tuesday



Today I’m excited to share one of my favorite places with you. I lived in Uganda for a bit after I graduated high school but before I went to college. It had been a dream of mine to go there so when the opportunity came up for me to go stay with the sister of a family friend, I jumped on it. This was one of my trips that I just picked up and went on without speaking the language or knowing who I’d be staying with.

Note: Yes, I realize the photography here isn’t the best. The camera I had there was sub-par, as were my editing skills in 2009. Heck, they aren’t much better now, cameras and technology just make it look that way.

Sr Noel

My Ugandan sister and Nun Mother

The women pictured above are (who I called) Bibi, who became like a sister to me, and Sr. Noel, the nun who housed me and gave me work and welcomed me as a daughter into her world. I worked at a small clinic in the tiny village surrounding the convent, and on my off days there I helped teach 7th grade at the school Sr. Noel ran.

Ugandan Clinic

The one room of our clinic for in-patients.

Ugandan Classroom

My 7th grade classroom

Living in Mwera-Mityana, Uganda was one of those life-changing experiences that I really wish everyone would be able to have. I struggled at times. Oh, I struggled. But learning, on my own and with Sr. Noel’s help, how to overcome those struggles and deal with problems in a whole new way forced me to grow my own independence and get to know myself as a young woman and helped me realize what I really wanted and what was important to me.

Class picture

My 7th grade class. Smiling for pictures isn’t a concept we had quite grasped at that time.

I also was lucky enough to be able to see the tourist attractions toward the end of my stay there, though most of my time was spent actually living in a village where I was widely known as the “muso muzungu” or “white nurse.” I could write for days about my time in Uganda, but for today I’ll leave you with a couple more pictures of the sweet children I taught, as their experiences will speak louder than any words. Each of these kids went on to pass all of their English exams and pass into high school, something no class has ever done before. Their hard work paid off, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. Their success will always be my success.

Kids playing

Working on our poses!

Tree Planting

Planting a “memorial” tree on my last day.

Weekly Wishes!

weekly wishes

Where I wish I was this week! Maybe a quick little trip can happen this weekend.


Good Monday Morning!

This morning I woke up refreshed and ready for a busy day. So far, so good. I’m hoping to keep this positive momentum going throughout the rest of the week! This weekend I took my biggest SpEd licensure exam, and I honestly have no idea how I did on it! It seemed that not a lot of what I studied was on the exam, so I guess we’ll just see how it went in a few weeks when I am able to get my results.

Other than that, Sunday was a relaxing Easter. Got some grocery shopping done and some serious thinking and planning on what the future holds for me in Chicago. Like any good raconteur, I have to share one of the most hilarious parts. When I cook, I do it big. Windows open, music loud- not a lot can distract me. However, at one point I looked out the window and saw something that made me stop what I was doing and do a double-take to make sure it was real.

A man with piercings in his face and tattoos on his arms was walking his dogs down the road. Now, that’s not really anything to take a second look at. However, he was wearing bright yellow shorts and a tank top, and had GIANT bunny ears on his head! It was the most entertaining thing I’d seen all day. Happy Easter, indeed!

And with that, let’s take a look at how I did with last week’s wishes! They were rollover wishes from the previous week, and I’m happy to be able to say that I did much better this week!

1) Get 2 weeks worth of blog posts planned and written. Planned- DONE. Written- Mostly done! Still have some writing to do but that’s ok. I’ve got the next month planned out in my planner though so it should be ok!

2) Study for my SpEd licensure exams. I definitely did a lot of this! Even if it didn’t help much, I felt more confident going into the exam at least!

3) Drink more water. I’ll still keep working on this, but I did do better at work about keeping hydrated. It’s just so easy to forget to drink while sitting at a desk all day.

And on to this week’s wishes!

1) Get more sleep. I’ve been staying up way too late lately and my body can feel it! No more of this. I need to try to be in bed by 10pm every night if I’m going to feel good in the morning.

2) Keep up with my P90X3 workouts. I’ve been doing again after my reset but I know it’s going to get harder. I just have to keep pushing myself and telling myself it will be worth it in the end.

3) Wash my face every night. I’ve fallen into a habit of just going to bed with a face full of make up still on from the workday and just washing it off in the mornings. I want to try to wash my face every morning AND night now. I think my face deserves it!

4) Journal every other night. I need to take time for myself to write out everything that’s going on in my head. I’ve had so much on my mind lately that I can’t keep myself focused on the things that matter most. I think giving myself a place to dump out everything I’m thinking will help with that.

I think I’ll stop at that for this week. It’s all about taking better care of myself mentally and physically this week. I know I can’t work my best or be the best version of me for other people if I’m not taking care of myself.

Today’s word has been raconteur, a person skilled in telling anecdotes.

Daily Diaries [a link-up]

Daily Diaries

Today I’m linking up with Kate to give a little recap of this week’s events. As Kate explains, sometimes as bloggers we don’t share as much of our daily happenings on our blogs, and sometimes it’s fun to get some insight as to how we all spend our lives in the world away from our blogs.

Monday: Work FLEW by! I don’t know how it happened but I wasn’t complaining! Not a bad deal for a Monday!

Tuesday: The full moon claimed a few victims and City Hall was busy with people and phone calls. Plus I read over 200 pages of material for my licensure exam this weekend. Woo it was tiring!

Wednesday: I restarted P90X3. Yep! I had pretty much failed when I went to Chicago because after I came back I didn’t do a single workout. So my punishment is going right back to the beginning and trying again at day 1. Now I’m even more determined though. Plus, now I’m doing it paradromic to D which makes it easier because he can push me to do my best! 90 days and there should be some big changes!

Thursday: Work went by slowly and by lunch I was SO hungry. Like I-Could-Eat-A-Horse hungry. Plus, allergies had my eyes burning and I was one hot mess. However, after work I went home and changed and got ready for date night with D! We don’t go out as often as we probably should so it’s a big deal for us. We had so much fun out together that I completely forgot to take any pictures for the blog. Oops, sorry!

Friday: Today I’ve spent my morning studying for my exam tomorrow, and will probably just keep going on this throughout the day. I’m so nervous for tomorrow but I know at this point there isn’t a lot I can do but try!

This weekend I have the first of my 2 SpEd licensure exams, so I’ll be there for 6 hours and then probably collapsing into an exhausted ball on my bed for the rest of the day. Sunday will be Easter with time spent D and friends enjoying a relaxing day with lots of food. Yum.

How was your week? Link up with us for a glimpse into the lives of the bloggers around you!


Today’s word is paradromic, meaning adjacent or side by side.

This Time Last Year. [#TBT]

Throw Back


After Brittany and Kate both wrote down their thoughts about how far they’ve come in the past year, I knew it would be good for me to do the same and look back at where I was and where I am.

Kate’s post really hit me because, even though I didn’t know it then, we were in similar places in our lives then and now both of us are better off.

Plus, today is #ThrowbackThursday, so what better day than today to share?

This time last year:

  • I had just begun blogging and wasn’t really sure what to do with this little space of mine.
  • I was nannying the best little boy. And Winston the husky.
  • My sweet great nephew had just been born and I fell incredibly in love.
  • I was livin’ it up as a single lady (or at least I was telling myself I was) and started falling for a friend. This would turn into a short-lived romance of me trying to convince myself he was right for me and eventually a break up that opened up my eyes to what was going on.
  • In that line of thinking, I was “over D” but still really sad that what we had was over… Little did I know that I’d be sitting here today happy to be able to say that I’m totally not over him one bit. He’s really the best person I know and treats me like the most important person in the world. We’re both in better places now and are happily together.
  • I was getting ready to graduate and thought I would go on to do a Master’s in Public Health.
  • I was an obstreperous young woman, resistant to growing up.
  • I was spending 24 hrs a day in a research lab and hardly sleeping in the name of my Senior Thesis. 9 months of making that baby turned out to a great presentation and paper though!
  • I had just rung the bell at Agnes Scott College, signifying my acceptance of a teaching job in Idaho.

Things are definitely different in my life now, and things are still changing for the better. It feels good to be able to look back and see just how far I’ve really come.

Today’s A to Z word is obstreperous, meaning stubbornly defiant.


Blogging in April from A to Z!

And you didn’t even notice, didja? That’s because I’ve been pretty bad about it, but I’m working on it! For every post I’ve done, I’ve included a new word that starts with the letter of the day. It’s been really fun finding ways to stick these words in there, and I’m hoping to be able to keep up the challenge throughout the rest of the month!

As an idea from Kate of Another Clean Slate, from now on I’m going to add in a little blurb at the end of each post explaining the word I used, and what it means.

Don’t know what the A to Z challenge is? It’s absolutely just as simple as it sounds. Making the effort to blog every day in April (except Sundays), basing posts off of the letters of the alphabet. The rules are pretty nebulous on purpose to give every blogger the freedom to do this challege in the way that best fits them! This won’t mean a huge change in what I’m blogging about, but it will keep me going to make sure I work on blogging everyday, which is what I’ve been working on.

I’m looking forward to keeping creative with the letters and seeing what others come up with!

If you’re doing this too, let me know so I can follow along with your posts!

Today’s word is nebulous, for the letter N, meaning unclear, vague, and indefinite.

Europe | Travel Tuesday

Travel Tuesday


Time for another installment of Traveling Tuesday around here! Stick around for more posts in the weeks to come or see my previous post on Mexico and how I got started traveling.

Today, I’m bundling an entire continent into one post!

I thought about separating it out, but it was such a great trip and done at one time with one friend, I think it makes more sense to talk about it all at once!

A friend and I from my exchange student days met up at her home in Germany a couple years after our respective student exchange years. We made up our itinerary as we went so our trip was completely modifiable, and ended up seeing 5 different countries in 4 weeks! Thank you Europass! (This, of course, happened before the movie Taken came out and we realized we should have been more careful. Oops. You live and you learn.)

Eiffel Tower

We spent our first week exploring around the German cities of Cologne, Berlin, Bremen, and Bremerhaven. We walked through cathedrals and monuments, experienced history at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate, and drank coffee in the little street cafes.


Our next stop was The Netherlands! We only spent a day there and saw the city of Amsterdam, which was beautiful in it’s own way and definitely interesting. No, we didn’t partake in any of the more controversial activities there, but there was plenty to see other than that!


Next stop, France. We spent a few days with another exchange friend in Lille, then took the train tunnel over to London, England. We spent another day exploring the city and taking in the sites, taking pictures and laughing as we went.

My friend stayed an additional day in Lille, while I took a solo mini trip to Tournai to meet up with yet another friend from my days as an exchange student! It had been years since I’d seen her, but being back together felt like we were never apart. The city of Tournai was having a festival that day, and we were able to observe a parade and catch up under the shade of an umbrella with a cup of tea in the cutest cafe.

Returning to France, I picked up my friend and we hopped on a train to Paris!

Moulin Rouge.jpg

The Moulin Rouge!

We spent a few days in Paris, but I don’t think we could have seen everything even if we stayed a weeks! We did our best to briefly see as much as possible all the while catching up with- you guessed it- yet another exchange student friend!

We spent time being Princesses at Château de Fontainebleau, danced at the Moulin Rouge, picnicked at the Eiffel Tower, and prayed at the Sacre Coeur. It was a wonderful trip full or reunions and time spent exploring with friends.

Statue Poses


Looking back through these pictures make me miss my exchange friends something fierce. It may be years in between the times we see each other but it’s always fun when we do. I am so blessed to have made these friends in my travels and I can’t wait to get back to see them again!

These people made this trip on of my all time favorites (then again, I might say that about every place). What’s the greatest place you’ve ever been? Why? Let me know!