Squad Goals Met

One of the many trends floating around the interwebs lately is the term “My Squad”. I’m guilty of using it, so there’s no judgement here. Seeing people’s photos and definitions of their “squad” had me thinking. Excuse the rambling that is to come, but this is as real as it gets.

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I’ve come to realize that my squad is not limited to a specific group of people, or a certain number of people. It’s not “these people” or “those people” or “no boys allowed”. My squad is anyone willing to go outside and get a little dirty. Anyone willing to sit around a campfire, throw back a few beers (or non-alcoholic beverage of their choice) and have a good conversation.

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My squad is anyone who has my back and is willing to stand up for me when I’m not around. Those who empower me and support me. My squad is those who help without judgement and give advice when needed.

My squad is so much more than the people I can fit inside one photograph. There’s no limitations. My squad is bigger than I could have known or imagined, and (at the risk of sounding “basic”) I am incredibly blessed to have people like this in my life.

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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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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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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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Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy – How I Fought Back Against Depression

*I’d like to start by saying I am in NO WAY a therapist or professional here. Everything I’m about to write is my own opinion, taken from my own experiences*

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Since I’m still somewhat new around these parts, I’d like to give you a little backstory before I talk about this awesome book. When I was about 14, I was diagnosed with depression. I was miserable through high school, and the years following definitely weren’t any better. Depression is hard to explain to someone who’s never experienced it. It’s crippling. It leaves you feeling with an incredible sense of worthlessness and dread. You have trouble doing basic things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, doing a load of laundry. You lose interest in friends and hobbies you once loved. You forget simple joys in life and constantly wonder how everyone around you can be so happy. It’s an awful feeling that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I spent 10 years trying to find a solution to my unhappiness. I tried different medications, (they’re the worst!) therapies, self help books, diets, exercise, and even hypnotherapy. (I also tried excessive drinking, but that only made things worse. Whoops.) They were all a little helpful, for the time being, but nothing really stuck.

At the end of 2012, I was introduced to something called Brainwave Optimization Therapy. This saved my life. I won’t write out all the details now but you can read about it here.

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Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

“Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” written by David D. Burns, M.D. was also a BIG game changer for me in the fight against depression and anxiety. It takes a look at something called cognitive therapy. The idea is that your thoughts create your moods. It’s such a simple idea that it almost sounds untrue. Dr. Burns lays out for you all of the ways our thinking is distorted, and how to recognize those self-defeating thoughts. Once it’s brought to your attention, it’s hard to ignore.

I’ll admit, it’s not magic. It takes a lot of work and dedication to get through this book and put these things into action. But let me tell you, it’s worth it. This book actually taught me to talk myself out of a panic attack, and the first time I did, I immediately burst into tears. Happy tears, of course. Regarldess, they were tears and the whole situation really confused my mom. (Man, I love telling that story)

Here’s some other things you can expect to see in this book.

– “Do Nothingism” and How to Beat It.
– How to Talk Back to Critisism (From others, as well as yourself.)
– How to Defeat Guilt
– The difference between sadness and depression
– How to overcome profectionism

And so, so much more. I can’t talk enough about how much I love this book. I’ve read it twice, written notes in it, and highlighted all my favorite parts. It’s such a great tool to have, and it’s fairly inexpensive too. (The best price I’ve found is on Amazon)

There’s also a workbook version, if that’s your thing. I worked through it, and loved it. It’s a little more hands on than just reading.

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The Feeling Good Handbook

Let’s talk. I love talking to others who have suffered from (or are still suffering from) depression and anxiety. If you’ve overcome them, GREAT. Tell me how you fought back. If you’re still suffering, I am so sorry. I would hug you if I could. Please feel free to reach out to me. I’m always willing to lend a listening ear.

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A List of Things You Love

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This week, a very good friend of mine asked this question on social media. I instantly thought, “of course I love myself!” But after a minute or two, I realized something… I do love myself, but I probably would have never thought to put myself on a list of things I love.

This, of course, got me thinking. I think it’s interesting that you can love yourself and still not make a conscience effort to take care of yourself. So many of us go through life focusing on everyone else around us. Many of us have husbands and children to worry about. (Obviously not me, but others do.) Some of us have boyfriends that clearly require time and effort. And I’m sure everyone has parents, friends, and siblings that all need some type of attention. Then add to all that, a job, side project (maybe your blog?) hobby, volunteer work, if that’s your thing.. There are dozens of people and things that come before ourselves. But why is that? Why do we find it so
difficult to take care of ourselves, too?

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I’m a big advocate of taking care of yourself. I believe that when you take time to nurture the relationship with yourself it can make you a better wife/girlfriend/mother/friend/employee… Or whatever other role you may be taking on. Not only that, but it keeps you SANE.

When was the last time you did something all for yourself? Do you remember how it made you feel? Energized? Refreshed? Whatever the feeling, I’m sure it was a good one.

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I’ll admit, even I forget to do things for myself from time to time. Maybe it’s one of those things you have to actually schedule into your week. Write it down in your planer or on your mobile phones calendar. Do yourself a favor and do something just for you. And the next time someone asks you for a list of things you love, make sure YOURSELF is number one.

Let’s talk. Do you take care of yourself? What are some things that you do for you & ONLY you?

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Mistakes

This month, I’ve been participating in the Photo a Day June challenge with Chantelle, from Fat Mum Slim. Today’s prompt was Mistake. There’s only one thing that comes to my mind when I hear that word, and I knew there was only one photo I could take.

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In November of 2014, I received my second DUI. Yes, you read that correctly. Two DUIs. Yes, I was stupid enough to make the same mistake twice. I’ve always been the type of person who has to learn things the hard way, and unfortunately, the consequences for the first DUI didn’t exactly teach me a lesson. The consequences for the second, however, kicked my ass. Which is apparently how I learn best.

The toughest part about making the same mistake twice is that others go on believing you’ll make it a third time. I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my mistake, and I know that in my heart it’s not something that is going to happen again. Not only is it incredibly dangerous – seriously, I’m lucky to have just gotten a DUI – but it’s time consuming, expensive, and worst of all, you’re left without a drivers license. When it comes down to it, drinking and driving isn’t worth it. AT ALL. Unfortunately, that was something I had to learn the (incredibly) hard way. I wish people would have more faith in me. Even now, with this interlock device on my ignition, people still ask how I’m getting home from the bar. “You’re not driving home, are you!?” I couldn’t even if I wanted to, but now, I simply don’t want to.

My DUIs are nothing that I’m proud of, but I’ve come to a place in my life where it’s better for me to be open and discuss them. I have little shame left about the whole situation. I hope that by talking so freely about this it may stop someone from making the same mistake.

Through all this, I have made a new best friend… Uber. It only costs about $7 to get home from the bar, and there’s always someone around to drive me back for my car in the morning. πŸ™‚

PS, you can follow me on Instagram to see all my Photo a Day pictures! @ErinMichelleHicks

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