Erin & Brittany’s Grand Adventure

On Sunday, my best friend & I completed another one of my bucket list items. This one may seem a little weird to some, but it was something I had wanted to do for a quite some time. Visit the desert, mountains, and ocean all in one day. One of the best things about living in Southern California is being so close to all three. I’m about two hours from the desert and the mountains, and only about 30 minutes away from the ocean. I’ve seen them all, but I wanted to do it in one day. It doesn’t leave you much room to actually DO anything in all those places, but we had fun regardless.

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We started our trip in Orange County, and headed for Joshua Tree National Park at about 8am. Our destination on the map was Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, which was technically in 29 Palms. It was a bit confusing for a few minutes there, but we figured it out. The high temperature we saw was 99 degrees, but that was only about 10:30 AM so I’m sure it got warmer in the afternoon. The visitor center was cool. Those places are always pretty educational. But my favorite part of Joshua Tree, were the Joshua Trees. I had seem them plenty of times through the Mojave Desert but had never stopped to take a picture until now. I just can’t get over how weird and cute they are!

We also found these random dinosaur things on the side of the road. Probably art. They were definitely worth pulling over for!

Next, we headed out of Joshua Tree and into Lucerne Valley, which leads to Big Bear. Driving through Lucerne Valley would be boring to most, but I think of all the driving we did that day, this was my favorite. It’s so flat and the road is pretty much straight. You don’t have to worry about going off the side of a mountain.

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From the desert, we made it up into Big Bear in about an hour and a half. Not bad, considering I thought we’d have to stop due to my Jeep running too hot. That thing was a champ though. Big Bear is one of my favorite places in Southern California. We drove around the lake, stopping a few times for photos. The weather was MUCH NICER than the desert. I think Big Bear only had a high of about 75 degrees. Perfect, in my book.


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The last photo was taken at Boulder Bay in Big Bear Lake. It’s a pretty cool place to stop and hang out, but during the summer, and over the weekend, it’s incredibly crowded. Not to mention that because of the drought, there isn’t much water left in the bay there. The scenery is still gorgeous, though. So much green!

After Big Bear, we of course headed back down the mountain. We stopped at the bottom for a much needed lunch/early dinner break. We ate about 4pm, so I don’t know what meal that is considered, but it was SO GOOD. Any food is good when you’re starving and have been in a moving vehicle most of the day. We then continued on our way to the ocean. Our original plan was to go out to Huntington Beach, one of our favorites in SoCal, but when I realized Newport Beach was much closer, we changed our plan. We drove down into Newport Beach, thinking we could park, check out the pier and the water, and head back home. We didn’t really consider that it was a Sunday, and still technically summer… The place was PACKED. I pulled into the parking lot at the Pier and then we were stuck in traffic. It probably took us a good 20 minutes to get out on the other side. So, we just decided to drive south (which is the way home, anyway) and at some point, we would stop and see the ocean. Driving on Pacific Coast Highway, you can actually see the ocean from the road. Of course, we needed to stop for pictures though. We eventually stopped in Laguna Beach. It’s a big tourist destination, but we managed to find a parking spot.

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The beach was pretty gloomy looking, which made for weird pictures. But there it is! The Pacific Ocean. By the time we got there, it was about 7pm. We were exhausted and way too tired to walk down to the water. We admired God’s beautiful work, took a selfie, and headed back home.

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Here she is! My co-pilot, Brittany. I think she mostly came on this trip because she wanted to hunt for PokΓ©mon. Whatever the reason, I was glad she came with me. In hindsight, it would have been nicer to take this trip in September or October, when the weather is a bit cooler and there is way less tourists out and about. We had so much fun, though. It was about 11.5 hours, spanning 355 miles. Essentially, we drove in a giant circle like shape.

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Let’s talk. What’s something travel related on your bucket list that you have OR have not completed yet?

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Coffee Date (A Link Up)

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(A link up with Amber from Mr. Thomas & Me)

If we were on a coffee date, I would insist we visit the Aussie Bean because they make the BEST cold brew coffee. It’s still pretty warm here in SoCal, so no hot coffee for me.

If we were on a coffee date, I might complain just a tad bit about it being Monday morning. I usually don’t see a problem with Mondays, but I had such a great, long weekend and I wasn’t quite ready for it to be over yet. How’s your Monday going?

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you about the insane trip I took yesterday with my best friend. Living in Southern California, one of my bucket list items has been to visit the desert, mountains, and beach all in one yet. Yesterday, we did just that. It was awesome, but SO EXHAUSTING. It was a about a 12 hour trip, covering about 350 miles. Definitely worth being able to see all three in a day.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d confess that I’ve been feeling a bit anxious about life lately. I recently re-applied at a local community college, and just this past week, applied for financial aid. School has always been a struggle for me, and while I know I’m in a much better place now than I ever was before, I’m still nervous about going back. I’ll be taking it slow, of course, and probably only registering for two classes for the fall. But even the thought of those two classes freaks me out a bit. It’s always a strange feeling to be a 27 year old on a community college campus. For me, at least.

If we were on a coffee date, I’d ask how you feel about summer coming to an end. It seems to have just flown by, like the rest of the year has. Are you looking forward to anything in the fall? I’ve got a few trips planned that I’m looking for. One trip to the mountains for Labor Day, and then a trip to the desert at the end of September. Both will be equally as fun!

If we were on a coffee date, I’d thank you for joining me. So often friends find it hard to make time for each other, but it’s so important to do so. I’d probably hug you, (because I’m a hugger) and say, “same time next month?”

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10+ Places to Find Free Stock Photos

When I first started blogging, the most frustrating thing was trying to find good stock photos. I know the “blogger” thing to do would to take all your own stock photos. To be honest, though, I just don’t have the time or energy for that right now, and I’m sure others are with me on that. In my time blogging, I’ve come across dozens of sites for free photos. For this post, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10 for you. (To my best knowledge, you do not need to give credit to the author when using these photos.)

1. Lock and Stock Photos

2. Kaboom Pics

3. Stock Snap

4. Jay Mantri

5. Magdeleine

6. Foodies Feed

7. Picography

8. Skitter Photo

9. Stock Pic

10. Get Refe

Subscribe to the newsletter to get 5 EXTRA free stock photo sites!

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Taste of OC – Hobo Co. Pizza

I’m comin to you a little late this month, but it’s better late than never, right? πŸ˜‰ Let’s just say I got distracted by eating delicious pizza. For this month’s Taste of OC post, I’d like to introduce you to Orange County’s BEST food truck! Hobo Co. Pizza.

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Hobo Co. Pizza is local artisan pizzeria on wheels! They specialize in thin crust pizza, made to order, as many toppings as you want. It’s AMAZING. My go to is the meat lovers with black olives and mushrooms. They have a ton of topping selections, so the possibilities are endless. They tend to frequent local breweries in OC, which is why you see a ton of beer in these two photos. Mmm..

Seriously, how good does this pizza look?

Be sure to follow Hobo Co. on Facebook and Instagram to see where they’ll pop up around town!

A photo posted by Hobo Co Pizza (@hobocopizza) on

Let’s talk. Do you have a favorite local food truck? (Even if it’s not in Orange County!)

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A Week in Photos (#1)

Happy Friday! Congratulations on making it through another week. It can be tough, I know. So high five! βœ‹πŸ» I’ve decided to make Friday’s super easy on myself & post photos from the week. I also think photos are a great way to get to know someone. So, here ya go. 



Last Friday night a few of us girls went out to celebrate my sisters 23rd birthday. We went to this amazing Mexican restaurant in the Irvine Spectrum called Javier’s. I had never been there before but ohh my goodness the was so good! I ordered two enchiladas; one with crab and one with lobster. I could have eaten two more, honestly. The margaritas were pretty good, too. Following dinner, we hit up a few bars and got my sister nice and drunk. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re young & can handle the hangover. If you follow me on Snapchat (@xhelloerin) you may have seen a bunch of obnoxious videos on my story. I do not apologize because we had a blast. πŸ™‚

Sunday, I took a nice solo drive down one of my favorite dirt roads. Unfortunately, I was stopped by California Highway Patrol (what was he doing out there anyway??) for not wearing my seatbelt. In my defense, I had just gotten back into the Jeep and pulled out onto the road, and literally just hadn’t put it back on yet. I was going to, I promise! I’ve seen too many accidents out there to not wear a seat belt. Anyway, he gave me a warning for the seat belt thing but wrote me a fix it ticket because I don’t have mud flaps. Really? My tires don’t even stick out that much. BUT things usually go a lot worse when I’m stopped by law enforcement (always my fault, I accept that) so I’m glad all I got was a fix it ticket. 


Tuesday night I took myself out for a beer and a couple of tacos. We have 4 kegs on tap at my house, which is nice, but sometimes you just need to get out of the house. I really wanted to be alone, but that’s the downside of being a regular and a bar… You’re almost never alone. A few people wanted to sit and talk, which I guess wasn’t the end of the world. Maybe next time I’ll pick a different place. (I probably won’t, though.)


I don’t remember what day I took this picture, but how cute are my succulents!? I was hesitant to plant them because I have a habit of killing plants. Turns out these things are pretty easy to keep alive. They sit on a little table on our back patio where I enjoy them almost daily. 


This is my view this afternoon. I ran a few errands this morning, with no AC in the Jeep, and it was just too hot to handle by the time I got home. I didn’t even bother getting out the laptop. Just grabbed my phone, took a quick dunk in the pool and picked the chair under the umbrella. It’s perfect here in the shade. I’ll probably stay here all afternoon. 

I hope you all had a lovely week and hope it continues through the weekend. See you in August! πŸ˜‰

Would You Tell Your Secret to a Stranger?

If you don’t know what Post Secret is, you absolutely should. It’s the most beautiful community I have ever seen. Founded by Frank Warren, the concept is simple… Write your secret on a post card & mail it to him. So often, we carry a secret that can weigh us down or make us feel disconnected or unwanted. The act of writing your secret down and putting it in the mailbox, essentially telling a complete stranger, is designed to take the weight of your shoulders. And it does. (I’ve done it!)

In 2005, Frank came up with this simple idea. He created and printed 3,000 blank, self addressed post cards and handed them out to people on the streets of Washington DC. He started it as an art project. A way to set his own secrets free. The secrets came trickling in, and then suddenly, they flooded his mail box. Weeks, and even months after he stopped handing them out, secrets from strangers kept coming.

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He started a blog in order to share them with the rest of the world. Every Sunday morning you can see a fresh batch of anonymous secrets on the website. Reading them, you feel less alone. I constantly find myself relating to other peoples’ secrets or wanting to reach out and let someone know it’ll get better.

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Two years later, in October of 2007, Post Secret Community was launched. It’s a forum where people can talk anonymously (or not) about anything in the world. Seriously, no topic is out of the question. It’s the most accepting community I’ve ever had the pleasure of being part of.

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Frank has published six books and been on a few speaking tours. I own all the books and was lucky enough to hear him speak, and get him to sign one of my books.

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(Taken in July 2011, after getting caught in a Texas rain storm)

I also have Frank to thank for introducing me to this awesome chick right here. He didn’t personally introduce us, but he may as well have. Sam and I met online sometime in late 2008. We were both struggling with similar issues, and we clicked instantly. At the time we lived about 8 hours apart, but that didn’t stop us from driving in the middle of the night to meet up off the 5 freeway. We’ve had a few epic adventures, and even though life has taken us in different directions, she remains one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

So if you haven’t already, go over to PostSecret.com and read this weeks secrets. Remember, they’re updated every Sunday, so you have to keep going back!

Let’s talk. Have you heard of Post Secret before reading this post? Would you tell your secret to a stranger?

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Bookshelf Favorites

I have a confession to make: I’m not much of a reader these days… I have been in the past, though! (And definitely should be again in the future) Some of the things I like to read are a bit different than what others enjoy, which makes for a very interesting bookcase. I think you can learn a lot about a person based on what they like to read, and that’s my goal for this post. Also – don’t mind the condition of the books. I love to buy them used at dollar book stores!

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So right off the bat, I should tell you all that yes, I am a Nicholas Sparks fan. I know, I know. His books are generally all the same and they’re kinda cheesy, but WHATEVER. I love them anyway. My favorites are probably The Notebook and The Lucky One. (I’m also a Star Wars fan & I love this BB8 Coin Bank!)

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(Candle from Bath & Body Works)

In another life, I’d like to think that I had the patience to go to college & get a degree, so I could end up a forensic psychologist. But I hated college, so here I am. Regardless, psychology and the mystery that surrounds much of it, fascinates me. I took a few classes when I did go to community college and fell in love with the subject. Sure, it probably comes from the fact that I suffered from a mental disorder myself. Whatever the reason may be, this is one of my favorite subjects to read on.

β€’ Sybil – the story of a woman with sixteen different personalities.
β€’ The Myth of Sanity – Multiple stories of people who endured tremendous childhood trauma, and how it has affected their adult lives.
β€’ Detour: My Bipolar Road Trip in 4-D – This is probably my favorite of the four books above! Lizzie Simon, suffering from bi-polar disorder and longing to connect with others, goes on a road trip to meet and talk with others in her situation.
β€’ Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness – Twenty-four year old Susannah seemed to have it all, and then seemed to lost her mind. What it actually was, turned out to be incredibly rare. (I won’t give you any spoilers!)

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Another favorite subject of mine to read on is true crime. Like I mentioned above, I’d like to think in another life I was a forensic psychologist. Forensic meaning I’m interested in the criminal aspect of psychology. Why people do what they do; including horrific crimes. I won’t go too much into detail because I know it can be a bit much for some. I will say that If You Really Loved Me by Ann Rule is one of my favorite stories. It’s about a man who marries a woman, and then convinces his 14 year old daughter to kill that woman. It’s compelling and sad at the same time.

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Finally, a few of my favorite miscellaneous books! All of the Post Secret books. If you don’t know what Post Secret is, click the link and find out, because it’s amazing.

β€’ PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
β€’ The World of PostSecret
β€’ My Secret: A PostSecret Book
β€’ A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book

Let’s talk. What are some of your favorite books on your shelves?

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Blogging Tips & Why They’re Hard to Follow

As most of you know, I am still somewhat new around here. (By the way, when will I not be new around here? Hmm..) I’ve been reading a lot of other bloggers’ posts on blogging tips. Ya know, the do’s & don’ts for new bloggers, and I’ve got to tell ya, I’m having a hard time with a few of them.

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1. Be Yourself. I’ve read it a few times now, to be yourself when starting a blog. They say not to worry about having the perfect “blogger look” with the pretty desks and gorgeous clothes. It’s hard to think you don’t need those things when it feels like 90% of bloggers do look like that. I think I’ve been okay so far, but I do find myself thinking I can’t take my own photos because my stuff is crap. Or that I’m missing out on SO many blog post opportunities because I don’t have cute clothes or a ton of beauty products. This, for me, is the hardest part about being a new blogger… Feeling like you don’t fit in.

2. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers. This one kind of goes hand in hand with number one. I’m constantly comparing myself to other bloggers. I know I shouldn’t, but, easier said than done.

3. Don’t obsess over the numbers. GAH this one is so hard! I look at the numbers a lot.. But I think what’s different for me, is the numbers I see aren’t discouraging. I don’t see the numbers and think “crap, I’m a bad blogger!” I actually see them and get excited that this blog seems to be growing, very slowly.

My biggest blogging fear.

I’ll never find a niche. This one is difficult for me because I don’t fall into any of the big niches. I’m not into fashion, make up, or cooking. Even when I look at other lifestyle bloggers (like I categorize myself) I feel like I don’t have the same interests.

I know that many of this is probably just new blogger jitters. I’m sure most of the successful bloggers I follow felt much of this in the beginning too. That’s what I keep telling myself, at least. I tell myself that it will pass.
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Why am I pushing through the fear & doubts?

I’ve seen this blogging community. These women (and maybe men? I don’t know, I haven’t seen any yet) are all so connected. I see this amazing bond you all have with each other and I’d love to be a part of it.

I have a story to tell. I suffered from major depression and anxiety for almost ten years, and I came out the other side of it, better than I ever was. I found a treatment and something that worked for me, and then I found a joy in life that I had no idea existed. I love telling my story, and I hope that by telling it I can help others may suffer the way I suffered for so long.

So for now, I’ll deal with the fears and the doubts, and I’ll keep writing posts that I don’t think anyone is even reading. I guess I’ve got to have faith that eventually this will all fall into place.

With that said, thanks for reading. πŸ™‚

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My Favorite Instagram Accounts

Hi there! I’m having a particularly lazy week, so I thought I would take the time today to share with you my favorite Instagram accounts. Instagram is probably my favorite social media platform. (With Snapchat being a close second.) I spend a lot of time on Instagram on a daily basis, and I follow a lot of pages. It was difficult to narrow it down to just a few favorites, but here they are!

1. Helene In Between – She was one of the first bloggers I ever followers, and I just love her photos. They’re simple & cute, and she always manages to tell a story of some kind. I’ve loved following her, and her hashtag #PhotosInBetween.

2. The Dainty Squid – Kaylah, another favorite blogger of mine. She has an incredibly unique style, and while I am not stylish at all, I love seeing hers! She collects all kinds of weird things that I enjoy seeing, like teeth things, and gloves. She’s a badass photographer, and goes to all kinds of cool, abandoned places. (All of which are now on my bucket list) Plus, she’s got a lot of succulents, which I am currently obsessed with.

3. The Daily Tay – Yet ANOTHER favorite blogger. Taylor is HILARIOUS. She’s pretty obsessed with her dog, Harlow, and while I’m not much of a dog person myself, I’m actually starting to fall in love with hers. (Amazing, right?) I can’t really put my finger on why I love her photos so much… Maybe because she’s quite often holding a glass of wine. Probably. Yeah, that’s why. Oh, and even though she’s funny on Instagram, she’s about a million times funnier on Snapchat. Seriously, go follow her right now.

4. Succulent Obsession – Succulents have become my latest obsession, so it was pretty obvious that I had to start following a bunch of succulent pages. This one is hands down, one of my favorites. There’s a lot of different colors, things to plant them in, different ways to arrange them. Way different than a lot of other succulent pages. It makes me want to go out and buy ALL THE SUCCULENTS. I would if I could.

5. PNWOnderland – I love looking at photos of the Pacific North West. It’s gorgeous up there. While I’ve never really had the chance to explore the area, I think the PNW is absolutely gorgeous. The photos make me want to take my Jeep through every inch of those states. It’s definitely another bucket list item!

6. Hot Pink Pineapples – I can’t remember how I discovered this account. Probably via one of the many blogging hashtags that I follow. I love it because it’s just so BRIGHT. I mean look at this photo. IT’S SO PINK. And all of Cyn’s photos are like this. I have no idea where she finds all these places, things, and buildings that are so freakin bright, but I absolutely love it.

A photo posted by Cyn (@hotpinkpineapples) on

7. Jeep Hood Shots – I don’t know if I have any followers here that are into the whole off-road thing, but I certainly am. I follow a handful of accounts that post photos of very nice Jeeps, but one of my favorite accounts is Jeep Hood Shots. They are all photos taken from the view of the driver/passenger seat. It’s amazing the views you can see from the front seat of a Jeep.

So, there you have it.
What is one of your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? Maybe you’ll inspire me to follow it too!

Ps, follow me on Instagram!

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What I’ve Accomplished In 2016 (So Far)

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My goodness, where has the time gone? I swear just yesterday I was watching Inside Out and eating junk food with my bff on New Yeas Eve. (We’re not that lame, we just partied too hard the night before, lolz) It seems to me that the older we get, the faster time seems to move. Remember when we were kids and summer used to seem FOREVER long? Like it was never going to end. Now it seems to go by in the blink of an eye. 2015 was a strange year for me – I went an entire 15 months without a drivers license or a job, meaning I didn’t get out much – so I promised myself that 2016 was going to be different… And it has. Some things I’ve wanted to accomplish in 2016 (and have!) are,

1. Get my license back. WOO! That was one hell of a process, and I had so many set backs, but I FINALLY got back behind the wheel of my Jeep in February of 2016, after 15 months without it.

2. Take the Jeep out. Somewhere. Anywhere. I accomplished this in March and it was AMAZING. I went out to Ocotillo Wells, CA for a huge off-road event. I spent 3 days/nights off-roading and camping with friends, old and new. It was a freaking BLAST. Sitting around for 15 months without a license was tortue and I was so freaking happy to finally be able to make it to an off-road event.

3. Land a job. Unfortunately, I didn’t completely accomplish this one. I did look for a job, interviewed somewhere, they HIRED ME, and then ran a background check and didn’t like what they saw. Boo. I was pretty upset for a while, but that’s life. Honestly, I think it was the kick I needed to get serious about building my own business.

4. Work on my business. I really kicked it up a notch with this. It was hard to be motivated in this area during 2015, because really, that was just an all around crappy year. You’d think that because I couldn’t drive, I would have been MORE motivated to build my own business, but it was tough. Everything was tough. 2016 is my year for business building, though. I landed my first real client, which has been awesome, and I’m on my way to landing a few more.

5. Lose weight. In Febuary, I started a diet of sorts. Actually, I hate the word diet. It wasn’t a diet… It was a conscience effort to change my eating habits. I hopped on the Weight Watchers program and kicked ass. I lost almost 15 pounds in about two months. Then I met my boyfriend and got a little distracted. People keep telling me it’s because I feel loved the way I am and don’t need to lose weight, but that’s not it AT ALL. I literally just got distracted. Those first two months of dating, John and I spent so much time away from home. And it’s incredibly hard to lose weight when you’re constantly on road trips or in someone else’s house where you don’t feel comfortable using their kitchen. (Not John’s house; we stayed at his friends place a lot.) Not that any of that is an excuse, it’s just the way life works. BUT regardless, I didn’t gain the entire 15 pounds back, just a few of them. And I’m still proud of myself for kicking ass in that short amount of time.

6. Re-enroll in community college. I have a complicated relationship with college. I’ll save all my explainations and rants for another blog post, but recently I’ve been considering going back and getting myself into a certificate program. For what exactly, I’m not sure yet. Something marketing or computer related. I re-enrolled and met with a counselor, although the counselor was useless. I still have to apply for financial aid and actually sign up for classes for the fall, which I’m not even sure I want to do yet… But re-enrolling was definitely the first step.

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While I’ve accomplished quite a lot (to me) in the last 6-ish months, there’s still a lot I’d like to do this year.
-Land more clients, at least 2-5 before the end of the year.
-Grow my blog.
-Get back on the “healthy eating choices” train and stick with it.
-Take my Jeep out more often.
-Take a class at community college. Even if it’s just one.
-Apply for a credit card & start to build credit. (My credit SUCKS right now)

I told myself 2016 would be my year, and so far, it’s turning out to be. I’ve spent many, many years making the wrong decisions and falling behind in life, but I feel like I’m really starting to turn things around. I still have a long way to go, and one of the biggest things I’m learning is to not compare myself to others. I can’t tell you how many times I worry that I’m not in the same places in life as other 27 year olds are. I have to remind myself that I just took different paths in life, and that’s okay. I’m happy and on my way to being very successful. And hell, It’s TOTALLY OKAY to be proud of yourself.

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