… Or any other vacation, really. These are a few of the things I got before we went on our cruise in September, and they were lifesavers! These items are affiliate linked, but only because I loved using them that much!
- A fanny pack like this one – SoJourner Bags Fanny Pack – Tribal Boho Hippy Woven Eco Style (Blue & Red)! I have no idea why these ever went out of style, but whether we were exploring Mayan ruins or exploring the Carnival Dream, this little thing came in handy. Not having to worry about carrying a purse or backpack made the trip much more stress-free.
2. A waterproof phone pouch like this one! It helps keep your phone safe from splashes, drink spills, and is a great place to keep your room key/ID/Carnival Sail and Sign card! Not to mention, it’s only $5.99 for a 4 pack!
3. These cute wedge sandals! Okay, so this really isn’t a cruise or vacation necessity, BUT when you have to dress fancy for dinner and also want to look cute in the nightclub, these are your go-to shoes. They are just the right height and so unbelievably comfortable. Now, I wear them to work at least 3 days a week. I have a tan pair, and their only $19!
4. These lenses for your phone camera. These are an awesome quality and come with a clip to hook onto the fanny pack I showed you earlier! They make a world of a difference when taking pictures of nature, selfies, and really anything else. I do recommend using these on a bare phone or a thin case, they don’t do well if you have a thick case. But some of my pictures look like professionals, and these little bad boys did all of the work. You can get them for $23!
5. And finally, Sea-Bands. Y’all, I get carsick after 15 minutes of riding, so you could imagine what I would be like on a cruise ship. I didn’t want to spend the whole trip knocked out from taking dramamine, and I didn’t want to trust a patch to stick to my head in the 90 degree heat. These things look like thick hair ties (or small sweatbands, but not that bad) and use pressure points on each wrist to relieve motion sickness (and morning sickness, and many other types of nausea). THEY WORK HOLY CRAP. The only time I felt sick was when I took them off to shower. I am so impressed. I will keep these in my purse for the rest of my life. Get them on Amazon for about $13!
And there you have it! 5 Amazon steals that saved my booty while on the high seas. Get it booty? Like pirates? No? Okay fine, see ya next time!
There’s a lot to be thankful for in this life. Some big, some small, and some overlooked. Today, I’m thankful for these few little things that make the days better.
1. Mac & cheese from Cafe Eclectic. Y’all, seriously, it’s so good. My day was pretty drab but I just had some for lunch so I had to put this in here.
2. Sunshiny afternoons and rainy mornings. There’s nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday to the sound of rain, or like walking outside on a September afternoon to the warm sunshine on your face.
3. Sweet tea. Because I’m pretty sure if you took my blood, it would 99% sugary tea and 1% whatever blood is made out of.
4. Memphis in the fall. There is nothing better. Whether your at Tom Lee or Overton or Shelby Farms, there are zero excuses to not be outside. The humidity disappears and for the first time all year, you’re able to go outside without either freezing or melting (we don’t have a spring).
5. Jesus. Let’s be honest, I would a hot lost mess without Him. He is a point of certainty in this ever changing life on earth.
There you have it. My quick little list of things I’m thankful for today. Remember, life isn’t all about the big moments, though they’re important, too. But it’s the tiny day to day realizations and moments that make you take a deep breath and smile that make life magical.
There was a point in time when I didn’t feel anything. There wasn’t hurt or anger, no love or happiness. I just existed. I’ve never been the person to think about suicide, but, I was empty. Void of emotions. I didn’t really want to exist, but at the same time, I was afraid of what “not existing” would mean.The only thing that gave me any kind of feeling was dance. In the studio, I was myself and was able to express all of the emotions that I had been shoving into a cold, dark corner of my mind. It was during these long nights that I realized to be alive is to feel.
The hurt meant that I knew what good felt like. It meant that I was here, present, alive, and able to process the world around me. It showed me that I knew there was better, and I longed for it.
To be alive is to feel. I said it before, and I will say it now, because it is so important. Being alive doesn’t mean being happy and everything being unicorns and puppies. It means being afraid, being hurt, and being, at some times, empty. In my opinion, the most painful of the three of those it empty.
But, it also means to be happy, loved, surprised, and content. The bad comes with the good. And trust me, I know, the bad can get ugly. The bad can leave you empty. The bad can make this life seem to not be worth the trouble.
I promise you, however, that it is. The fact that we are able to feel is, honestly, amazing. I would go through all of my lowest points in life again if it meant I got to experience the good times still. I am glad that dance allowed me to feel and brought me out of the void I had gotten so comfortable in. The feeling I felt when I lost my grandmother was crushing, but it was worth it to know her. The brokenness after an abusive relationship years ago is worth the pain then, to know that it sent me on a path to where I am now and the person I am with now. I would experience all of the emptiness I felt to feel full and loved.
I would not be where I am on my Christian walk if it had not been for being completely broken and searching for something to grasp on to. My story lead me to Jesus, and if I can help one person be better, then I have done my job.
Some people reading this are going to think that there is no good, only bad, only hurt. I promise you, that isn’t true. You may not experience it now, maybe not next week, maybe not even next year. But you will come out of it.
You are able to experience hurt because you know how the good feels. Hold on to that, because sometimes, it will be all you have, but it will be enough. Surround yourself with good people, find a hobby you enjoy, and when there isn’t anything left, hold on as tight as you can to those things.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore children. I have always wanted kids. But I don’t want kids right now.
When I was in my early years of college, I wanted to be married and have my first child by the time I was 25. I’m 24 and my birthday is in January, so I’ll let you do the math there. Story short: that ain’t happenin’.
So instead, since I’m behind on where 18-year-old me thought I should be by now, I’m going to share all of the goals I have and things I want to do before I’m responsible for keeping a little human alive.
1. Get married. Okay, so this one was probably obvious. But, I want to enjoy being married and learn how to live with someone else before I bring a child into the equation. I’m an only child brought up in a loving but strange family structure. I have no idea how to share literally everything. I want to take the time to build a strong foundation on which I raise a child to love the Lord.
2. Go to Disney. I’ve been to Magic Kingdom for one whole day, and only remember bits and pieces of it. I want to go and make sure I can survive it before, again, having to keep a tiny human safe and alive in such a place. Plus, I’m a kid at heart so why not?
3. Pay off my car and my student loans. I’m blessed with a mom who believed that my college education was her responsibility so that I wouldn’t have to stress over the money, but now I have a job and want to be able to help. Kids are also hella expensive and I want to be as financially stable as possible before that happens.
4. Sleep. This one should speak for itself.
5. Go to Europe. Or Australia. Or Mexico. Or anywhere new. I want to see the world and have stories to tell my kids like my daddy had told me.
6. And finally, I want to work on being the best “me” I can be. I want a strong relationship with God, a strong sense of who I am, and a strong trust in myself to be able to take on that kind of responsibility.
The whole point of this is that, sometimes, God has different plans than we may. My parents were older when I was born and I’ve always wanted to be a younger mom. But, my plans are not always the right ones. And looking back, I couldn’t imagine being ready now. He has a plan for my life and is allowing me to grow in so many ways I would have never imagined possible.
God’s path is always the right one, whether it be about college, kids, relationships, or your Friday night plans. Just be patient and present and have trust. Be aware and constantly working towards growth.
Besides, the plans we make rarely ever go as we want, but isn’t the journey beautiful, anyway?
Our last stop on our adventure was in Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Y’all, I have fallen in love.
This is the day I had been waiting for, we had an excursion planned to go see a small Mayan ruins site (San Gervasio) and a trip to a beach. We hopped off the boat onto a long pier, which was surrounded by gorgeous views, and made our way through the port. I do have to say, the “port” is full of liquor and luxury purses and perfumes. It’s small, cramped, and stressful. But, once out of there, it was a big, open air mall type shopping with bars and booths and lots of plants. The water is still in view the whole time.
Our excursion started at 11 so we walked around for a bit then headed to find our group. We boarded a bus and headed towards the center of the island.
The bus took us through an area they call “Downtown.” It isn’t downtown like we think of it with big buildings, but rather a small little town where people sell woven tapestries out of their homes that look more like a shack than a building. Occasionally, there were big, nice houses. We passed by lots of little shops and restaurants and I so wish I had taken more pictures along the way.
We get to the site, and Ross and I are basically wigging out we are so excited. We had already made friends with our tour guides, Patricio and Luis. There’s a place with little local shops and then past that are the ruins. I’m not going to go into a whole lot about what all of this pictures are of other than a few of them, because honestly there was so much information that I don’t 100% remember what was what. But I WILL give you some fun facts!
1. There were no human sacrifices made at this site. Ever. In fact, that wasn’t something the Mayans did until a group introduced them to it about 1000 years after the Mayans became a thing.
2. San Gervasio was a dude from Spain who bought the land and didn’t tell the government there were ruins on it. He went looking for treasure using dynamite and destroyed quite a bit of it. Some was rebuilt by universities and institutions, and other parts have been left as they were found. Its pre-Gervasio name was Tantun Cuzamil.
3. This was a site built for the goddess Ix Chel. She was the goddess of moon, childbirth, fertility, medicine, and weaving. All Mayan women made a pilgrimage here at least once in their life, before their first cycle or before they had children.
Ross asked a billion questions, but we ended up with some really interesting answers. Which sparked a way deep conversation on the way back about how different are we really, as Christians, from these people? Are the people they were worshipping angels and did we actually have the same God? More research on that to come, but, it was an interesting thought.
From the site, we drive to the opposite side of the island from the port. This side has no plumbing, running water, or electricity. The road is lined with beautiful rocky beaches. I have no idea what the name of the beach we were at is, but oh my geez you guys, it was unreal. We were still in the “no running water or power” side of the island, but there was a food truck (that’s apparently a thing there) making tacos, burritos, and the BEST DANG GUAC EVER and a little bar with lots of tequila. The beach had rough sand, but near the water was too rocky to really get in. We climbed up this big arch thing and just admired the view. I have never seen anything so peaceful and untouched before.
I have never in my life felt so entranced by a place. But this little island and all of its history, culture, and people, are something I will never forget. I loved it and cannot wait to go back and spend more time there.
10/10 would recommend. If you have a chance to go to Cozumel, do it.
Can y’all tell I suck at titles? Because I do.
Want to know what doesn’t suck? The Grand Cayman. We got off the boat and had to hop on a tender (no, not a dating app. There’s no swiping left here) and ride over to the island. The water, even out where the cruise ships had to anchor down, was unbelievably clear and of a color that could only be described as “blue jello.”
Again, we had no plans here. When we got to land, we spent some time taking pictures and admiring the fish. We decided to try out Seven Mile Beach (which – fun fact – is only 6.3 miles long).
We found a lady that was renting snorkel gear (and ended up giving her our Carnival swipe cards as collateral… probably a bad idea) and spent the rest of our time on the beach making friends with the fishies (and one friendly shark).
The beauty of this place was unreal. I’m used to the Gulf of Mexico water, not murky, but certainly not clear.
A few shirts and a wooden hummingbird later, and we were back on the Dream and sailing away to Cozumel (my FAVORITE).
Check back for more!
First stop on our Western Caribbean cruise was the gorgeous island of Jamaica. Looking out over the island from the 12th Deck gym was awe inspiring. Mountains, trees, houses, and beautiful waters.
We had no plans for Jamaica. Hop off the boat and explore. We ended up at this place called the Hip Strip where there’s a Margaritaville and some shops. Y’all. I can’t. The second we got off the bus, we had guys and shop owners and other shuttle drivers in our faces trying to get us to buy things or get back on a bus or smoke some weed. No thanks. They are also a country that will bargain with you, which, if you know me, you know that kind of stuff makes me hella uncomfortable.
After wandering around for a bit, we ended up at this beach that had a $5 entry fee. On one side of the beach you could see the waters and mountains. The other side you could watch planes landing. It was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been to in my life. The water was clear, the people were nice, and I could have floated allllllll day long.
So, story short, Jamaica was great but be prepared to ignore a lot of people and don’t feel bad walking away. It was overwhelming at times, but we were in a different culture and I get that. It just honestly wasn’t my style, I like to roam and adventure freely. But I’d love to visit again and book an excursion or see an area less touristy.
Up next: the Grand Cayman and Cozumel!
There are so many things I wish I could do to save you from what is going to happen. But I can’t. You will have to experience it all for yourself. Every time you don’t listen to mom or dad, because “they’re old and don’t know anything,” every time you bail on your friends for a boy, every time you want to quit, I won’t be there to swoop in and save the day. In a way, this letter is too little, too late. But the reality of it is, this letter shows that you will make it.
In a few months, you’ll meet a boy. Now this is the part I want you to pay attention to: Do. Not. Date. Him. You’re going to, I already know. How? Because I was you once, remember? This boy is going to break you, and I don’t mean in a high school break up kind of way. Instead, in a way that is real, painful, and will affect you for a long, long time. There will be days where you feel unworthy and unloved. Know that there is nothing further from the truth. You will feel ugly, used, and unclean. Don’t believe these things, no matter how convincing he may be. You are enough.
Good news, you’ll get out of that, but you’ll be a hot mess for, well, ever. You’ll hate high school, lose friends, and make big mistakes. That’s okay. Because you survive it all.
College is a blast. You’ll love it. There’s new friends, leaving the harsh judgement of the high school crowd behind. You’ll break down some of your walls, learn to feel emotions again, and grow closer to Jesus. But, you’ll change your major, get discouraged, and want to give up more times than you can count. You will fail classes (a lot of them), but you’ll graduate. I promise, I have the degree to prove it.
You will meet people, join a sorority, and have the time of your life. You’ll find a major you love, get a job you enjoy going to every day, and find the good in life.
So remember, when you are going through all of the hell and at your lowest, you make it out. You win. You better yourself and learn and grow and become a good person. How you may feel now or over the next few years will not define your entire future. Keep your head up, kid, and stick with it.
I’m journaling my way through Sophie Hudson’s “All in All Journaling Devotional” and you guys, day three just hit me like a train.
It discusses comparison, calling it a “never-ending, pointless competition that no one ever wins.” I spend a lot of time criticizing myself. If only I were prettier, smarter, funner, more ambitious, more adventurous, less boring, and so on. I also think I am “too much.” Too whiny, too dramatic, too demanding. Why? Because I let a boy tell me so. I let one person dictate how I have lived out the past 6 years of my life. I put other people’s visions of me over how God looks at me.
First Samuel 16:17 says “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”
But, God created me. He formed me in my mother’s womb with my hair, my eyes, my body, and my mind. My acne scars, stretch marks, flat, straight hair, all make me “me.”
Though you can always be better and can always improve, who you are at your core is from the Lord. Take what He has given you, and run with it. Be too much. Be unapologetically who you were created to be.
Now, I can see an issue with this mindset. “If God created me as I am, then why should I try and be better?” Because walking with Christ means improving yourself. It means facing your demons and becoming better than you were yesterday. Take your talents and use them to worship the Lord. Don’t have any talents? You’re alive, aren’t you? Worship Him anyway.
Lately, the Lord has been putting a whole lot of stuff on my heart. Funny how when you pray for guidance, He grants it, even when it isn’t what you want to hear. I have always been a creature of habit and comfort, never really rocking any boats or doing anything unpredictable.
I have been a part of the Church for as long as I can remember. There was never a time when I didn’t know about the glories of God’s love for us. However, as an adult with a full time job, I have been slacking on my end of the deal. You see, Christianity is a relationship. God is not a genie in a lamp waiting to grant your wishes. He isn’t here to fix your finances or help you get a new car. WE are here for HIM. HE created US. Our purpose is to worship Him. And, the older I have gotten, the less I have been doing that.
In college, it was easy. I lived with believers, attended bible studies, and was constantly surrounded by a support system. Now, while I still have that support system and a godly man, I have not been keeping myself accountable. There have been a lot of things placed on my heart lately, some of which I am not ready to share yet. But one is to spend more time in the Word. It has been months since I picked up a Bible. The funny part is, I can tell. The times when I am vigilant in spending time with God, I am a different person. My anxiety stays dormant, and I am able to look at things in a positive light. When I go chunks of time without Him, anxiety makes its way back into my life, slowly taking over until I shut down again, like I have so many times before.
My prayer this week is to continue to seek out what God wants for my life. Where He wants me to be. What He wants me to be doing. My plans for myself are just that, for me. They are selfish ideas that I have built inside of my comfort zone. I want to be shoved out of this box. I want to face whatever He is going to throw my way. I no longer want to stay in comfort, never speaking out.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing a lot of posts based off of what I may have read or realized. I am going to share this journey with you guys, so that you can hopefully see Him in me, and that I may be held accountable to continue on this journey.
That’s all for now, be looking for more to come 🙂 W