Category Archives: Chicago

8 Years On | Travel Tuesday

life is adventure travel tuesday

This week marks 8 years since I studied abroad in Mexico. Timehop so lovingly informed me of the statuses I posted about my homecoming after a year away and the roller coaster of emotions that I broadcasted on Facebook because, hello, I was a teenager.

It got me thinking though, about how that was what really got me started with being comfortable traveling alone and made me so much more confident in myself. At 16 and didn’t know a whole lot of anything, but I knew more about myself then and had more confidence than ever. This was before a lot of insecurities about the future had set in (college? five year plans? marriage? TEN year plans?) and my only real focus was getting through high school, spending time with friends, and figuring out what it all meant.

After my year abroad, a year has hardly gone by that my passport hasn’t gotten some use. And I am so grateful and so blessed to have had so many opportunities and people in my corner helping me make so many travel dreams a reality. Thanks Mom and Dad, you guys especially! These past couple of years, though I’ve largely stayed in the States, a couple cross-country moves had taken place, I’ve started and quit perfectly good jobs because another city and another opportunity called out to me. That need for newness and adventure never left.

This week, after reliving the days of my international travels through pictures and talking to a few friends from those days, I couldn’t help but realize that I’m not exactly about to move to another country any time soon. But what happened to the girl who was always scheduled on some kind of adventure? When did I become so… normal? Which brings me to a change in mindset.

life is adventure quote

This whole life is a journey to be explored, regardless of where I am. It may be in the United States, but my goodness does it feel like a different world sometimes. This is still where I feel called to be, and I still feel like I am making a difference here for others, and I know I’m growing and helping myself. My point being, just because I’m not on living abroad or jaunting around now doesn’t mean my life and what I are doing is any less- any less worthy or important or valuable.

And this goes for anyone who may be wistfully reading travel blogs or wishing that that life was your own. Where you are right now is important too. Normal isn’t boring or bad. And really, there’s something different, exciting, and completely not-normal in each of our lives that keeps us all going. This life is so good, right here, every day.

This isn’t to say that I’m done traveling. I’m still breaking out my passport later this summer and plan to more next summer, but where I am right this minute is perfectly great too.

What do you think? What adventure are you on right now? Every day life is pretty cool, isn’t it?


Travel Tuesday

A Different Kind of Independence Day

independence day domestic abuse

I’ve been quiet in this space for a while, taking an unintentional hiatus through the last months of this school year. I think I’ve had such a hard time writing anything because in my heart I knew the words I needed to write, but I was too afraid to let them go out into the world. Today, it’s time.

I moved to this city in a mix of excitement and feelings of absolute terror. I was lost in the beginning stages of a completely unhealthy relationship. The “I’m so sorry” and “It’ll never happen again” sayings were plentiful and I believed it. I didn’t see the push to move here as the isolating move that it was- I couldn’t have. And I was silent about it, unable to tell anyone what was happening. In public we had the perfect relationship. In public, he treated me like the only woman in the world. I felt ashamed of myself and it got worse as time passed and his words and actions made me feel more small and insignificant.

After moving here it all became more frequent and more severe. He became a man I no longer knew, but would fight for all the same. His actions became unspeakable, and yet I stayed. I stayed and fought for too long. And he controlled and hurt again and again until I finally was able to stand up. To drive away and not go back. To tell small pieces of what happened to close friends. To live again.

Now, I refuse to live in the shadow of his abuse. I refuse to live in this city in fear or seeing him or being reminded that he had that kind of control. He doesn’t have it anymore.

I do.

I moved here because of one of the greatest opportunities I could ask for. A prestigious program that allows me to get this master’s degree while still teaching the children that I love. I am in a city full of beauty and culture and am surrounded by people who I love and who love me back.

I may have come to Chicago partially under the worst of circumstances, but now, a year later, I’m ok. This city is not his. I am not his.

This is mine.



Coffee Date | On my heart

coffee date

Join me for a bit, won’t you? I suppose it’s time for a coffee date to do some explaining and some chatting. As I sit in this airport on my way from Atlanta to Idaho, I could use a good cup of coffee and some time sitting comfortably, so let’s just imagine we’re there instead, ok?

If you follow me on social media, you know I’m on Spring Break right now (teacher perks!) and I took some time to travel to Atlanta to visit friends and today I’m heading home to Idaho to see my family for the rest of the week. Then I’ll be heading back to Chicago to finish out the school year! This trip has already been a whirlwind, and it has been the most healing, healthy thing in the world for me. After being sick for almost a month, I’m finally feeling like I’m on my way to healing and feeling better.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being busy is nothing new for me. I thrive off of being busy, but maybe I’ve taken on a little too much lately. I’m now working 6 days a week teaching. I absolutely love teaching and working with all my kids, but of course, this is a job that doesn’t end when the time clock officially says it does. It begins at least an hour beforehand and usually allows me to leave about an hour after- only to go home and continue the planning and preparation there. It is the best job, and I know I am lucky to have it, but oh, it is exhausting. Pile all of this on top of grad school classes and attempting to keep up with that, and I’m wiped.

If we were having coffee, I’d admit that I’m feeling like it’s all a bit much. Emotionally, it is tiring because as much as I do and as much as I feel like I am working as much as I can, there is so much more to be done and so much that I simply can’t do. There is a certain type of guilt that comes along with that that I try to ignore and logically know shouldn’t be there. Then again, we all know that sometimes feelings don’t follow logic.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being in Atlanta these past few days has left everything in me pulling me back toward this city. From the climate to the culture, this is my city. This is where I became an adult and while I am grateful for the opportunity to be living in Chicago now, I’m just not convinced that Chicago is for me long term.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you in on the fact that I’ve been thinking a lot about the different relationships in my life lately. I’ve been in my element with my people here in Atlanta, and it has been beautiful. These are the people that I can skip the small talk with and get straight down to what’s on my heart and what I need to talk through. These are the people that get it, and get me on every level. Of course I have good friends in Chicago that I love dearly, but it’s not quite the same. My Chicago friends are some of the best people I’ve ever met and I am lucky to have them, but again, it’s just a little different.

Now, it’s important for me to know what’s going on in your life as well. How are you, really? What’s been on your heart lately?

Weekly Wishes! Goal setting time!

chicago skyine weekly wishes

Home sweet Chicago!

This weekend has been incredibly fun, fulfilling, and BUSY.

After a whirlwind week teaching and going to grad school classes, one of my best friends from college showed up on my doorstep and we went out to explore more of the city, eat ALL the food, and see some generally touristy sights! Plus Sunday brunch was SO needed and I mean discovering a new brunch place never hurts! Every weekend I fall a little more in love with this city and this one was no exception. Fall is showing itself in Chicago and I’m so ready. Not so ready for winter, but I have a little more time to prepare for that. (I think. Right?)

That all being said, Monday has come too fast and I just can’t wrap my head around it yet. Can I get just one more day? No? Well then, I guess I better set some goals.

Last week my goals were to:

1) Make self-care a priority. I did, and maybe a little bit too much? I gave myself a strict bedtime which meant less work got done, but I ended up getting sick and the sleep was necessary!

2) Keep up with my grad school work. Not so much. I mean everything got handed in when it was supposed to, but I just feel behind on it.

3) Meet all my different advisers/supervisors. Yep! I ABSOLUTELY ADORE my supervisor from my grad school. She is seriously one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met and I look forward to meeting with her weekly about how I can improve my teaching and learn more to help my students!

This week, I’m switching up priorities a little. My goals are to:

1) Get grad school work done and done ahead of time (when possible). I really need to get on this more. With everything else going on, it’s been easy to let my schoolwork fall to the back burner but I’m bringing it back to the front. Getting back into school after taking a year off is hard, but I know it will be so worth it.

2) Still make sure to get enough sleep. I’m still recovering from whatever cold/flu combo my students gave me last week so I need to be careful with overdoing it.

3) Get caught up on emails/blog comments. I really do read each and every comment you all leave and it warms my heart to see them come up in my email. Your support, encouragement, and thoughts make this all so rewarding. I promise to get back to you this week! Ok maybe I shouldn’t promise that but I do promise to try really hard!

What are your goals for the week? I promise even when I don’t respond I’m still cheering you on from afar! Life gets overwhelming sometimes but I know I can push through once I get a better routine going. Let me know what you’re working on in the comments!

A difficult post to write, a break up, and a new start.

never regret 

Yep, it’s time for that break up post.

There are some things that happen that I absolutely can not wait to share with you all. I write notes about them in my phone and when I sit down to write the thoughts and words come easy. They flow and bring me joy to share and hopefully bring some of you joy to read as well.

This post is different. I’ve thought of different ways I could write this post over the past month or so- thinking of metaphors or pretty words to make the situation seem more blog-able, but in the end I feel like it’s best to just say what’s on my heart.

In moving to Chicago, I knew most of what I was getting into. I knew everything would be new- the job, grad school, the city, my friends. But I thought I’d be going through this with a partner. A partner I had counted on for a long time and I knew I could depend on regardless of what new things life threw at me.

As I’m sure you’ve been able to guess by now, D and I are no longer together. To keep things in both of our best interests, I’m not going to lay out the details, but I now know that I will be much better on my own than with him. Of course I am hurt and sad to say the least, but keeping busy has been the best thing I could do.

I still feel that Chicago is where I am supposed to be. I still want to be here, do TFA, and thrive.

In the weeks that have passed, I’ve of course heard advice from all types of sources. Many have said that I’m too trusting, too loving, give too much. I’m told that this is something I should work on, should change; a fault, of sorts. Maybe they are right that living this way will inevitably lead to more heartbreak. However, I will never apologize for loving too much.

I have opened my heart and with arms spread welcomed in lovers and friends with everything I had. I’ve experienced the pure joy and peace that only real love can bring.

And I’ve been hurt. Oh, I’ve been hurt.

I’ve let myself be hurt by those who had no business being anywhere near my heart. And I’ve had my heart torn wide open by the knives of those who once loved me deeply. I’ve given pieces of my soul to men who would rather leave than learn that I, too, was human and imperfect. Men who didn’t realize that they weren’t yet whole, either.

My trust has been broken and my heart has been worn and tattered. I know that heartbreak is worse than it sounds.

And yet- I will still rise every time I am thrown down by a former love.

This new start is the best thing that could happen right now. This life is fulfilling, and I am full of joy as I begin my teaching career and love on all these little souls.

And I will open my bruised heart just as wide again and love with everything in me. Not in naivety, but with the knowledge that that pain exists, and will likely find me again.

Good love is worth that pain.
Love is what drives me.


6 AirBnB locations in Chicago to try! | Travel Tuesday

where to stay in chicago

Sometimes travel just means getting out of your regular routine and trying something new and fun- even if it’s in your own city! Especially since I’m new to the area, there are still so many exciting places to see and experience here in Chicago. I’ve been doing some day dreaming on AirBnB lately, and here are my top 6 picks for where I’d like to stay in the Chicago area.

Weekend trip, anyone?

6) This is a yacht. I don’t really feel like I need to say anything else, but have you seen that float thing? Perfection. Sign me up!

5) This is just for you and your 11 closest friends. No big deal or anything. You HAVE to look at that bathroom.

4) Want a getaway on a budget that still feels luxurious and like you’re somewhere else? Then this Moroccan themed room is perfect for you. Ahem, me!

3) I love this one because it’s actually in the neighborhood I live in now- which is perfect. This is just much higher up, and has a balcony… and a pool…

2) THIS IS A CASTLE. I don’t know about you but I was once a little girl who wanted to be a princess. Come to think of it, I still want to be a princess so this place would BLOW MY MIND.

1) This tree house getaway. Yep, A TREE HOUSE. If that’s not the coolest thing around then I just don’t know what is.

So far I’ve loved exploring this city I’m living in. What’s your favorite thing to do/see in your city?

Travel Tuesday

Their Success is my Success.


These aren’t, of course, my students. Confidentiality, you know. But these are my co-teachers for the 4th grade and who pretty much got me through this summer.

As many of you know, last week I finished up summer school for my 4th graders. It was a roller coaster process. I taught summer school at a different school than where I’ll be during the school year, so I didn’t know these kids before and will likely not see them again unless they reach out. All of that is to say, establishing classroom culture takes time and that’s one thing we were short on in our quick month of summer school.

There were days when I didn’t think they learned a single thing. There were days when I cried on the drive home because I was sure I failed them as a teacher. There were days when I was pretty sure I wasn’t good enough for this and wanted to throw up my hands and apologize to the kids for not being a better teacher and give up.

But then,

There were days where we laughed together throughout the day. There were days when their observations and connections were so on point that I cried tears of happiness on the way home. There were more days when I was absolutely sure that I am in the right profession and that they learned so much during the lessons. There were days that ended in hugs and excited conversations of what was to come tomorrow. And there were days of bright, shining successes.

Last Friday, our last day, we gave a post-assessment to our kids to see how much they actually learned during our time. A way to measure if I taught well enough more than measuring their scores for perfect correctness.

My kids passed with flying colors.

Grading those was the happiest feeling. The days I thought I had failed and the kids learned nothing? The kids still used the skill/ strategy I tried to teach that day to think about and solve problems.

The days I cried on the way home? The kids wrote about how they knew their teacher cared about them because of how I talked to them and pushed them.

The days I thought I would never be good enough? All pushed away.

My kids learned. They grew. They knew I loved and cared about them.

After the math part of the assessment, the child I had the most struggles with was chatting with me. He talked of baseball and books, his brother and mom. Then he paused and said, “I know sometimes I don’t think I acted like it, but I really do like you. I’m going to miss you.” And then continued on talking about other things 9 year old boys like. Such a simple thought and sentence for him. A HUGE win and impact for me.

As we got ready to say goodbye, it was a simple hug, high five, and wave as we walked out the doors. Inside, it was so much more.

It was a sign of success. Of their success. Of how much more prepared they are for next year because of summer school. Because of me.

It was my success, too.

Week’s End.

Wait, but it’s just the beginning?

I know, but this week I’m mixing up my normal Monday blogging and trying out a new weekly link up. I figure it’s time for a little something new. I’m sure at some point I’ll go back to Weekly Wishes, I just want to throw in a little something different.

So, without further ado:

weeks end


Katherine, my co-teacher for the summer. We had a lot of good times in room 205!

From a training session, some ideas involved in living out our core practices through teaching.

Roommates and friends, on our last weekend living together and marking the beginning of our post-training Chicago lives. We are all SO happy to be moving out of the dorms that we’ve been in these past few weeks, but we’re definitely not looking forward to living separately. Of course, we’ll all still be seeing each other regularly, it just won’t be the same as living together.


Oh friends, this weekend was wonderful. Absolutely full of fun times and relaxation. Friday night I spent celebrating the end of summer school with my group of teachers at dinner, and Saturday night after finishing grad school classes for the term we all went out to celebrate with dancing till our feet hurt and our faces hurt from laughing so much.

Today started with a long walk by the lake with my roommates, running over to Chinatown for Dim Sum and to walk through the festival happening today.

At some point of course I had to come home and finish up some last licensure requirements for my Special Education certification, and now I’ve just had a relaxing evening spending time with my roommates and chatting about the days to come. We have one more week of intensive training until I’ll be free for a month!

3 things I’ve been thinking about lately:
– The idea was planted in my head today that I might want to go home for a couple weeks, but money sucks and that might not quite be possible. It’s worth checking out flights though.
– I think I want to redo my “about” page. The one I have now is outdated and not as fun as I’d like it to be
– I am so excited to be able to get back to blogging more now that the bulk of summer training and summer school are over! I’ve missed keeping up with blog friends and sharing things with my readers!

3 posts you might have missed:
Oh hey, Friday!
Top 3 Travel Destinations (and my future plans!)
Dear 17 year old me,

3 posts from other favorite blogs:
Why You Should Book That Ticket byt one of my favorite travel bloggers.
How to Beat Writer’s Block from a new bffl who’s both super nice and super smart.
A Coffee Date post from a friend who I wish I could sit down and chat with in real life too.

I’ll be linking up today with Oak and Oats! If you’re stopping over here from Madison’s blog, welcome! I’m so glad to have you here today. Follow along and say hi!

Oh hey, Friday!

Friday Color Run

This picture really has nothing to do with anything other than it makes me incredibly happy. So there’s that. I miss this girl!

1) Today is my last day with my summer school kiddos and I could just about cry. I feel like we just barely started and have gotten to a point where we understand each other and things work well in my classroom. Now I have to send them off into the world and that makes me sad. I know they will be fine but I’m just going to miss them!

2) Tomorrow is my last day of grad school class for the term! It’s so weird to think how quickly it has gone by. Masters degree, here I come!

3) I’m still super excited about this post about where I’m heading next. Solo travel has such a huge space in my heart. I just can’t wait to get to planning and setting up for another trip. My heart needs a good adventure and Vietnam just seems more and more like the place to go that the more I think about it. Now that’s in writing and out in the world it seems so much more real.

4) I am absolutely the MOST grateful for the sweet friends I’ve met since arriving here in Chicago. I’ve written about it before but the relationships I’ve formed thanks to Teach for America- I wouldn’t change them for the world. They are such amazing and kind people and I just feel so overwhelmingly lucky that this is the life I’m living.

5) That’s really all I can think of. My brain can only go as far a field day this afternoon and trying to think up ways to keep Popsicle stickiness off of kids’ clothes. Yeah… right. In my dreams, I know. I’m off to get one more day’s learning into these kids and then off to celebrate making it through summer school with some fellow teachers.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I have a really fun post coming up on Monday that I’m super excited about, so I hope you’ll come back and see what’s going on!

Weekly Wishes!

Weekly wishes

Isn’t D’s little niece the cutest? I had a blast hanging out with her this weekend!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! Mondays are never fun and especially a Monday after a holiday weekend leaves a lot to be desired. However, I’ve got high hopes for this week despite having work and class all 5 days (plus again on Saturday). I start my classes on teaching math this week and I definitely need them. Math has never been my strong suit but I am determined to still be great at teaching it by the end of this.

This weekend was spent celebrating and enjoying time with D’s family and exploring the city a little bit more. We had a blast spending a day on the beach and then a day out and about walking and seeing what we could see. I LOVE fireworks, so seeing them was definitely a plus! D and I have already made plans to go back out to Navy Pier next weekend to see more fireworks!

Last week, my goals were to incredibly similar to what I want to keep doing this week. With that, I’m going to keep my goals from last week and roll them on over to this week.

1) Have a better week. I definitely did this, teaching wise. I feel like I was more clear on expectations and my students responded well to that. I tried a few new things to help adjust to their learning styles and it all seemed to work out! I really want to keep this momentum going and build better relationships this week.

2) Blog more! Well, um, ya know. I tried. This one is going to be a continuous goal throughout this summer. By time I get home after 14 hour days, it’s all I can do to text my mother, much less write blog posts. But I’m trying!

3) Keep on, keeping on. This week has been a bit of a roller coaster with low lows and high highs. I think that’s kind of the deal with summer training. Everything is multiplied. It’s so hard to remember that life outside this little TFA world exists sometimes, until something happens that makes it all too real. We lost my sweet Capone this past week and it’s hit me harder than even I thought it would. That baby dog had my heart and was the best dog he ever could have been. Though I know he’ll still be with me, it’s unbelievable how much I miss him.

I’m set to have a great week this week. This weekend I get the FULL weekend off and I couldn’t be more excited! Plus during the week I’ve got some great lessons planned for my kids that I think they’re going to really like.

Here’s to a great week!