Moving is an interesting time. It's stressful yet exciting and usually gives you that feeling that you can start over and have the life you always dreamed of. Sure this is a great feeling... all of that inspiration and hope... but if you go in with unrealistic expectations, you are going to be left feeling the same way you felt when you were sitting in your old house, all trapped and yucky.
Set some real, attainable goals that you can kick into motion the moment you step foot inside of your new place. Don't surround yourself with a bunch of idealistic thoughts about perfection because although the setting has changed instantly, YOU are still the same person and you have to make your changes gradually and keep them up each day.
The realistic items are things that you make conscious decisions to do or to make happen on a regular basis until you form a new habit out of them. They are not about achieving perfection and they are not huge differences from the things you already do. If you go balls to the wall trying to make too many big life changes at one time, then it will become unsustainable. You are only a person, not a God and people are creatures of habit. You can change, you can become whatever you want to be and your house can be as fancy as you'd always dreamed, but it's a process and you have to build the habits yourself. Magic won't happen just because you changed zip codes. Your habits will follow you wherever you go, and you are the only one who can alter them.
If you have something in your life that you really wish were different, then you need to address it. Ask people you respect or consider successful in that area to give you some tips and KEEP IT UP. You can't take a break from your habits once you get comfortable. That's how jelly gets rubbed into the couch cushions and dog poop gets smeared in the carpet. If it matters to you, then keep it at the front of your mind and don't let up.
I'd like to see Martha Stewart tell you that.
People always tell you that the way to make your dreams come true is hard work, an education, keeping your credit score high, and not doing drugs, among other things, right? Well, all of these things are true, but that’s not all you have to do. If this is what you stick to religiously, then you aren’t going to get very far. You’ll be standing on the doorstep of life holding your degree and a clean urine sample, waiting for someone to waltz up and give you a cookie and it’s just not going to happen.
Here is what I did to make my dreams come true, and it was a long and painful process.
Don’t stop with the minimum education. Sure, having whatever degree or certificate that an employer or whatever could ask for looks great on paper, but there is so much more you need to know about whatever it is that drives you. You can’t accept the minimum education and say that you’ve met the standards… you have to be the best. You have to be the most knowledgeable. You have to know deep down in your bones that you are the master of your function. For my field, all I needed was a BA, but I went ahead and got an MA right after simply for the fact that I wanted to have it. I wanted to know that I know everything about English and I wanted to be prepared. This opened more doors for me later… doors that I didn’t even know I’d be knocking on when I decided to take that step. The more you do early on, the less you have to do later to play catch up.
Keep learning every freaking day. Think about things that interest you. Study them. Find out more about them. Not only will you be the life of the party when trivia night comes around, but when something comes up in the future and you are the only one who knows how to give CPR to a cat or understands Worker’s Compensation processes, you are going to make yourself that much more valuable and people are going to remember you as being smart and capable. It can pay off later.
Offer your services. Someday, I hope to start a literary journal. What’s your “someday dream”? Pinpoint it. How are you going to get there? How will you stop letting your dreams be dreams? (Thanks, Shia LaBeouf, you are so full of wisdom). You need to start thinking outside of the box and making connections that you have to search for and conquer yourself. Go to Google and look for places near you or places that will let you volunteer remotely from wherever you are and reach out to them. Tell them that you have this skill set and interest and tell them that you want to work or volunteer for them, even if they do not say that they are hiring. In a lot of cases, small businesses, journals, etc., may take you on as a volunteer even though they hadn’t been advertising that they need help. This worked for me and landed me a spot reading fiction submissions for one of the more prominent literary magazines in Nevada.
Scour the internet for volunteer opportunities in which you can build upon your experience and make some connections. When you work for free, you are working toward that bigger goal and also coming up with some awesome stuff to put on your resume. Don’t be discouraged when places tell you no. It’s surprising how many people will turn down free labor. Keep trying. Your opportunity is out there.
Check out www.volunteermatch.org
It’s likely to be bad, but at least there are Little Debbie Cakes. The bigger your aspirations, the more hurtful the rejection. You may be rejected a thousand times, and guess what? Each time will hurt a little less. Don’t take it personally. Learn from it. In some cases, they may offer reasons behind the rejection. Take their advice because they probably know what they’re talking about. They hire and fire for a living.
Don’t wait for tomorrow. If you want to do something (and are able to without causing harm and neglect to children or something like that), then do it! (Pretty much I mean don’t quit your job to become a freelance lion photographer if you are a single parent of a young baby who needs to eat food and wear diapers and stuff. There’s a difference between following your dreams and being irresponsible and reckless).
Here’s my philosophy. If you are single and have no kids, the world is your oyster. You can do anything. If you are married and have no kids, same thing except maybe a little harder. You have flexibility. You can go where you want, when you want. You have time to work hard and get after things. Don’t invest time and energy into a job that you hate unless you are using it as a stepping stone to get to the place that you ultimately see yourself. Your life will go fast, and you only get one. Why spend it not doing what you want? Why spend it living in the same town you grew up in? Get out there. See the world! Take opportunities! Stop wasting your time because you will never get it back. EVER.
If you do have kids, don't use your kids as an excuse. I know it's hard and there are real drawbacks, daycare is incredibly expensive. You may have a lot of logistics to work out, you may have to wait a couple of years, and you may go to bed crying every night after banging your head against a wall. Things will get better. Enjoy your kids and use whatever time you have to keep climbing up that ladder toward your goals. It's difficult, but not impossible.
Ok, you're probably saying, who does this b**** think she is, giving me advice and telling me what to do?! I'm not perfect by any means, but in the past couple of years I have really stepped up my game and achieved a lot of personal goals and I feel fantastic. I am simply telling you what I have done. If you are googling "how to make my dreams come true," then this may have just been the pep talk that you need. Here's my thing... I struggle all the time worrying whether or not people are judging me, or if I’m a good person, or if I’m smart enough or good enough or if people are better than me, or if they even think they’re better than me… or if they do think they’re better than me, are they right? It’s ludicrous. It’s the dumbest thing ever. Sure, I know I’m cool and junk, but everyone has some sort of struggle, and that’s mine. I’m super self-conscious. We all have our rocks, it’s time to drop them.
I told you my ideas. Leave a comment and tell me yours.
Welcome to Sin City. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t know that Las Vegas was anything more than a place to do stupid things over the weekend. You probably didn’t even consider it a place where normal people actually live. You probably moved here out of unforeseen circumstances, such as a job offer… I know that’s what happened with me. I wasn’t excited in the least to move to a place like Las Vegas, but I soon came to see that there is so much more to this town than the strip, and believe it or not, it is actually a great place to raise a family.
Ok. You live in Las Vegas. What do you do when the magic of seeing the strip whenever you want wears off? I HAVE SOME ANSWERS FOR YOU, MY FRIEND.
Places to Shove Your Face
Think off the strip. Vegas has all sorts of awesome restaurants brimming with charm and awesome grub, even miles from the bright lights. There are a lot of places around here that you can find easily or that have been made popular by Food Network, but I’m going to try to give you a few places that might be a little harder to find.
Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is a must. Forget Subway. Capriotti’s will blow your socks off. Prices are average-high, but you will understand why once you try it. My favorite is their signature sandwich “The Bobby,” which is basically like Thanksgiving jammed inside of some bread. When I first ate this sandwich, my mind literally exploded out of the back of my head because it was just too damned delicious. With numerous shops sprinkled throughout Las Vegas, there is no excuse for you not to stop by sometime. Check out their menu:
SoHo Sushi Burrito… “What?!” You may be asking yourself. Yes. You read correctly. This place is more than just a novelty spot as they offer amazing, scrumptious entrees you have to taste to believe. I’m just going to leave it at that. The people who opened this restaurant are geniuses.
2600 W Sahara Ave #115, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Capo’s Speakeasy looks like a hole in the wall. I drove past it dozens of times without even noticing it until my co-worker told me to give it a try. The ambience is very nostalgic, playing off of older times when gangsters ruled the city and prohibition was fought underground. The menu is chock full of Italian dishes and drinks. Let me tell you though, this is not a place I would bring my kids because it is a little pricier and people come here to get away from the Chili’s atmosphere. If you are in the mood to ditch the kids and go on a date, this is what you are looking for.
Places to Take a Day Trip
I’ll keep these short and sweet because they are pretty self-explanatory.
Red Rock- Hiking, camping, rock climbing, views of the whole city + strip, STUNNING and really puts things into perspective. We are all so small in the scheme of things! kind of catharsis stuff. Very Thoreau.
Valley of Fire- Hiking, camping, rock climbing, super cool Indian Petroglyphs.
Lee Canyon- Hiking, camping, streams, snow, skiing, **FREE CAMPING @ Macks Canyon which is more intimate and available than the pay spots.
Mt. Charleston- Hiking, camping, snow, programs for people of all ages.
Boulder City- A really cute little town near Lake Mead. (I’m not going to suggest going to Lake Mead because in all honesty, we went camping there and it just wasn’t that great. Our camp site was about a mile walk from the lake. I’m sure some sites have views. I viewed a bush. Meh. The lake is very dried up and there was not a lot happening there. The coolest thing about that place is that there is an old hotel there that is dilapidated and neat looking that you can kind of explore if you are not worried about getting killed or in trouble). Anywho… Boulder City is one of those historic towns that has cute shops and hotels and car shows, etc., on the weekend. It is a neat place to visit for a low key day out or weekend trip.
Places to Take the Youngins
Discovery Children’s Museum
Right next to the Smith Center is a magical place called the Discovery Children’s Museum. This place is multistory, totally interactive, just entertaining. My kids ages 10, 6, and 2 all love this place. They have specialty exhibits, (the last one I saw was dinosaurs), and pretty much anything else you would expect to find. The price is $14.50 unless you get a membership OR if you are a teacher for Clark County. Then you get a discount. (Discounts are the best).
Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know about this place. It is great whether you have kids or not. It is located right off of Fremont Street and you’ll know you’ve found it when you come across a huge fire-breathing praying mantis. This entire park is mode of shipping containers filled with interesting stores, restaurants, and bars. This is my favorite place to go in Las Vegas because my kids get to run around crazy in a tree house playground while I sit by drinking a beer, eating bbq, and listening to music. This place is even better in the evenings because they project movies, music videos, or have live performers such as one-man band Daniel Park who I always hope to see whenever I stop by on a Friday night. Container Park is always hosting special events and never disappoints. Kids can participate in a drum circle when the sun goes down to help wake up the praying mantis, which some kids find terrorizing, but is still adorable anyways. If you want to stay with the family for a few hours, then make sure to get there somewhat early because there is no one under 21 allowed after 9 p.m.
Bonnie Springs Ranch
If you’re in the mood for a scenic drive, Head out west and check out Bonnie Springs Ranch.This is your standard old Western-themed town complete with shops, a train, daily shows, museums, and holiday adventures when it comes to be those times of year. This is a great place to spend a few hours galavanting around outside. There is also an area near here that offers horseback rides.
Places You Might Not Have Thought Of
McMullins Irish Pub
I went here the other night with some friends for Pub Trivia. I wasn’t sure exactly how that was going to go down because I’ve never played that kind of thing before, but it was fricken awesome. The whole place pretty much broke up into groups to play and it was very competitive. Great atmosphere, good food, drink specials, and PUB QUIZ EVERY TUESDAY. I know what I’m doing next Tuesday. Take some friends… preferably friends of all different ages and interests because you will need them for nerdy questions… like stuff about Harry Potter or geography.
Now, this list is pretty short and swweet and I know I've missed a lot of places. Leave me some suggestions of places to check out and I'll go there and write a Part 2 to this post! Leave suggestions either in the comment section or under the Contact tab. Get out there and explore!
Americans love dinosaurs; Canadians love the crown, but everyone loves Mexican food.
You are in the middle of an existential crisis. You drink yourself numb. You wake up the next day and the thought comes to you over pop tarts, “I know what will give meaning to my life! I should drive to another country! But wait… I’m broke...” Don’t give up on your dreams! That’s what credit cards are for, you dummy!
I know, I know... No one wants to max out credit cards and spend the next fifteen years paying for a road trip. No, sir! But you have the heart of an adventurer (in a past life you were a park ranger). You find a way to go on the cheap, and you take a big gulp of that adventure punch Gatorade. Here are a few skills that helped me quench my existential thirst when I drove by myself from San Diego, CA to Waterton Lakes, Canada.
Buy a map. You are not a cookie cutter person, and neither is your trip. Gadgets are great. I love them, but you might lose reception and end up in the Iowa instead of Canada. That’s all great. I mean, you are still adventuring, and I’m sure Iowa is great... But is it as great as swimming in cold Canadian waters? You be the judge. Maps are inexpensive, and, unlike toilet paper, don’t expire. Buy one. Keep it in your pack pack.
I have a large one-page map of the US that I bought at a gas station in Utah, and I use every time I go on a road trip. It gives me the freedom to choose my own adventure. At the end of each road trip, I take a marker to the roads I took. I keep it on my kitchen table as a visual reminder of my badassness in times of existential crisis and as a unique conversation piece.
If you are going to another country, and have X amount of days you can take off before your boss hires someone else (like mine), take a car. If you have a reliable and gas efficient vehicle, I suggest using it; if not, rent one. Because this will probably be the most expensive item on your trip, it’s important you find a good deal. Airports have the best deals on cars (keep in mind insurance is optional and your own insurance probably already covers the rental car as well). Unless you are driving to a place with lots of snow you can rent a cheap car that is good on fuel. As you can see from the picture, I rented a Nissan Versa. Sure it was slow uphill, but it got me there. Also, I washed the car before returning it and asked for a discount when I returned it. They shaved 15 buck off the bill ;) Whatever you do, don’t hitch hike. It’s not worth it.
Note: Most car companies won’t let you drive a car to Mexico or below, but they are okay with Canada (pfft… racists).
Sure you can stay at fancy hotels with HBO and bidets, but wouldn’t you rather spend your money on graphic Ts and bumper stickers? I camped four nights, slept in the car once, and spent the night at Best Western hotel on the way back.
Camping: This is where the map comes in handy. Once you locate the major highways, you can look for state/ national parks. You are very likely to find campgrounds in the area. Even if you don’t have a reservation, still show up. They have first come first serve spots for adventurers like us. If you are one or two people, you can always ask campers if they are willing to share their campsite. There is a maximum of eight people/ two tents/ two cars per campsite, so if you see one tent with a few friendly people you can share the spot. It’s common courtesy to offer to cook a meal for people who are letting you stay at their campsite. Campers are friendly and happy people. Be nice to them and they’ll be nice to you. I’ve suggested this technique to friends, and it worked wonders for them. If that doesn’t work you can ask a ranger for information of campgrounds outside the park. They have a list with phone numbers, and they are very happy to provide as much help as possible.
AirBnB: On this trip I booked a room through AirBnB in Bozeman, MT. The people were beyond nice. I was only there for a few hours, before I went to sleep. Woke up the next day and left early for Yellowstone. It’s a great way to meet new people and exchange life stories.
4- Pack light (see blog post “Packing Light”)
If this is the kind of trip where you will live in the car, you can take a few additional items (like jello and troll dolls). Keep in mind, you will have to take out what you put in the car. The more you bring with you, the more you might lose, the more you will have to clean later. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
5- Camping supplies
You probably already have a few of these. If you don’t have a tent or sleeping bag be resourceful: ask your neighbors or friends on social media. Here are the basics:
Tent, tarp (underneath the tent), sleeping bag (pillow? Use your clothes, you turkey!), water containers, a plate for each person, a cup for each person, two little pots, a fork- knife- spoon set p/ person, paper towels, biodegradable soap (for dishes and body- Campsuds is the most efficient and least expensive), flashlight/ head lamp, toilet paper, paper towels, one towel p/person, a little first aid kit, one good knife.
Optional: skewers, or something that resembles a long piece of metal to roast veggies and Smokies (like a cheap hangers from the cleaners). If you are taking a trip in the dead of winter please take many blankets. When it’s very very cold, I use my sleeping bag as insulation and a blanket for warmth over my body.
Not bad for ten days of living in nature :)
You’ll probably eat the same stuff every day. For the most part I had oatmeal and instant coffee for breakfast, lots of fruit, instant mash potatoes, Smokies, canned soup (both warm and room temperature), and Snack Packs. You know, easy stuff. Any kind of just add water and heat on the stove instant meal. Remember: It’s not about the amenities, it’s about the adventure.
These are some ideas. Now it’s up to you to figure out what to do once you get there. There are a million things you can do for little to no money at all. I am happy to answer any questions you might have about embarking on a spontaneous adventure. I know it seems a bit scary before you take off, but once you do it, you are going to feel like you can accomplish any goals you set for yourself. Look at me. I could have stayed home that Fourth of July and gotten drunk by myself while watching the Twilight Zone marathon on TV. Instead, I drove to Canada. Remember: Be the maker of your own dreams.
When I travel, I don't like to have a lot of stuff bogging me down. It's inconvenient, time consuming, and overall, just plain dumb. If you go places without planning and end up needing to walk five miles through Lima, you don't want to have a stupid rolling suitcase. Come on, it's impractical.
Let me tell you how I put together ONE Jansport backpack when I go somewhere. And by somewhere, I mean anywhere and for any length of time.
Wear an outfit. Are you on your way to the airport? Good. Look down. Are you wearing pants? EXCELLENT. Guess what? You can wear those pants more than once. I wear good sturdy jeans, at least two shirts, (an undershirt and a tee shirt), and if I'm going somewhere cold, I will put my coat on top of everything. It's not as bad as it sounds. You can easily take the coat off when you board the plane and shove it under your seat.
Utilize the rolling technique. It's quick and simple and believe it or not, the most space-friendly way to fill a backpack.
By George, I've done it! And you can do it too!
This super awesome minimalist technique has gotten me through a 20 degree 4 day weekend in Chicago, a 5 day trip to Alaska toward the end of winter, a 12 day trip to Peru and Bolivia (where the seasons are Cold and Colder), and numerous road trips spanning over 30 states.
Pack your bags! Live your dreams!
Ashley and Cecilia work hard, play hard, write stuff, read stuff... because they don't know what else to do with their lives.
I- We should buy something superficial
II- Buy odd clothing
I- An Unusual Social Event
I- We should go somewhere with dangerous animals
I- Somewhere with strange food
When we get ten total votes, the item with the highest number of votes will be our next expedition.
(One vote per reader, per category).