30 Things I Learned in 30 Years

Howdy, y’all!

It’s been quite some time that I got on here and wrote. But the dry spell has officially come to an end! I decided that when I turned 30 I wanted to write down 30 of the most monumental lessons that I have learned throughout my lifetime. So I took my ass to the Greek islands, sat poolside for a week, and this is what I came up with. Enjoy 🙂

1. There are no rules

Zero, none, nada. This obviously doesn’t apply to basic civil laws of the land. I’m talking about how you want to live your life. I feel so many people are worried about going about their journey through life the “right” way. Checking off the boxes as they go. But news flash people, you weren’t born to get married, push out babies, pay bills, and then die. LIVE YOUR LIFE. Turns out you have full power over deciding how that may be… crazy, right?! You only have one life, pleasseeeeeee I beg you, do not live it trying to appease others. You do you, boo.

yolo, gif, and live image

2.Happiness is truly a choice

Alexa, play ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. This concept, as easy as it may sound, takes a while to understand and grasp. It’s real easy for us to get down on ourselves throughout this life we live. I swear I blame that on society…. we end up caring too much about what others think. Even if you are thinking to yourself “no way, I don’t care what ANYONE thinks about me”, I bet you actually do and don’t even realize it. People tell me all the time “damn Hayley, you truly are living your best life”. As if we all shouldn’t be doing just do that. To be honest, one day I just woke up and decided “I’m going to always do what makes me happy”. And if it’s something that doesn’t make me happy…… cut it out. Cut that shit OUT.

Pharrell Williams - Happy

3. Magic happens when you set your pride aside

We care SO much. About being right. About not being wrong. About not giving in too easily. About not looking weak. But the thing is…. the second we set our pride aside and just evaluate the facts. That’s when we get answers. Solutions. Clarification. That’s when the magic happens. This idea that we are perfect human beings that shall never fault is bullshit. That’s part of life. We are better off just accepting things at face value. Leave the emotional aspect of things out of it.

 

4. Life’s too short to be spent with anyone who doesn’t know your worth

This is something that may take a lot of heartbreak to fully grasp. It’s crazy how we allow ourselves to get mistreated when we are in love. But the thing is, there is only one of YOU out there. Just the one. And if someone doesn’t feel like they have just hit the mother f’ing lottery when they’re with you, they don’t deserve you. You are way too valuable to let another human being come into your life and make you think otherwise. You should always feel like you are a walking fire emoji. If they don’t make you feel that way, it’s time to move on.

5. Beauty begins with confidence

First of all, beauty is relative, people. This idea that beauty = the Kardashians. Or that beauty = flawless, perfect, unimpaired. It’s bullshit! Beauty encompasses so much more than that. As cliche as it sounds, it truly comes from within. With that being said, there is nothing more BEAUTIFUL than a human being, male or female, that outshines all the bullshit with their confidence. Especially, because, do you know how hard that has become in our day in age?! Which is truly very sad. Because ladies and gentleman, guess what?! Your confidence is your first line of beauty. The way you carry yourself, love yourself, respect yourself…… well, there is really nothing more beautiful than that ❤

6. Listen to your body, its constantly in communication with you

Like how you can wake up in the middle of the night yearning for even the slightest drop of water after hours of drinking alcohol. Your body ALWAYS knows whats up. The older I get, the more I understand this fully. Drinking water, eating clean, exercising 30 minutes+ most days. These aren’t just things worth mentioning due to doctors orders. Your body will always reward you for treating it right by making you feel GOOD. When you treat your body good, it will reward you by making you FEEL good. This 100% applies to mental health as well, folks. There is nothing more terrifying than battling with your mind, so make sure to give it attention, rest, and relaxation just how you would your physical body.

7. Hustle is a state of mind

Plain and simple. If you know , you know. I learned this from my two amazing parents. There’s nothing to read between the lines–it’s simple. It’s the mentality that there isn’t a DAMN THING in this world that I can’t get if I want it bad enough. You’re either a hustler, or your’re not. It’s s.i.m.p.l.e.

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8. Travel is the most effective way to expand your horizons

OKkkkayyyyy 🙂 My favorite topic, you all know this. It literally brings tears to my eyes (shut up, I know I’m corny). So I’m just going to leave you with my favorite travel quote. It encompasses all the feels I have regarding buying that ticket and setting free to unfamiliar places :

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“This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug. But really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English or Spanish or Mandarin or Portuguese, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn. Then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown than you did in the most foreign place you visited.”

9. Your haters are really your lovers

People, let them HATTTEEEEEE. If they care enough at all to express their hatred, you must be doing something right. And the less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life will become. Coco Chanel once said, ” I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all”. Honestly, a majority of the time people are hating is due to jealousy. And always remember, jealousy is only a form of flattery. I have learned over the years that the best way to respond is to kill them with kindness. They only hate you cuz they ain’t you 😉

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10. Faith is not one size fits all

We were all raised different. From different families. To different countries. Different places of worship. But I have found over the years that its not what “type” of faith that you embody, but the “relationship” you have with your own faith. And let me tell you, the capacity as to how faith is incorporated into peoples lives is different from one person to another. It’s not important to compare between any two people–honestly, it’s not important. Everyone has their own definition and form of practice. What’s important is that we can all celebrate this confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. And news flash, it’s okay if we all do that differently.

11. You can be complete all by your damn self

Ladies, never forget. You gotta love yourself before you can even begin to love someone else. And don’t ever for a second think you need to rely on another individual to create the life you want. You can do this–all by your damn self if need be. Anyone else that comes into your life should be an addition to your already present happiness. But at the end of the day, all you really need is you.

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12. Caring too much about what people think is a useless inherited trait

This used to be Hayley 2.0. Always worrying over what others think. Creating so much unnecessary anxiety over the idea that I wasn’t accepted by others for shit, who knows what reasons. We build up this fear that we need validation–from loved ones, coworker, even strangers. As if our happiness should EVER be the responsibility of someone else. It’s bullshit, y’all. Again, and I mean this seriously. LIVE YOUR LIFE. The people that are about that will stick around, I promise. And the ones that don’t like it–well, they are probably really boring anyways because you’re a badass and you should never forget it. Just stop caring so much. Your life will end up feeling more meaningful.

13. Self care is not selfish

If we don’t take care of ourselves, nobody will! There is absolutely nothing selfish about prioritizing your health and state of well-being. And doing this regularly! Because guess what?! We spend so much time giving attention and love to others. But you yourself, as much as anybody in this entire universe, deserves your love and affection. Book the massage. Take the day off from work. Provide yourself with some alone time. Unplug. And alllwayyyssss wash your face (twice!) before bedtime. Oh and in the morning. And when you get home from work. I’m anal about skincare, can you tell ?! 😉

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14. Accepting change makes life much easier

It’s honestly the only thing constant in life–change. It’s inevitable. We all know this, yet we still FREAK OUT! Change is hard, this idea that how things used to be are no more. We are closing a chapter and starting a new one. What we often times fail to embrace, is the GOOD in that. After we have adapted to this new way of life, in comes a wave of utter excitement at this new opportunity. A new vision. A fresh start. Change can be a beautiful but scary process. I think as we age we become more in tune with that, and we start to embrace it more. Because we realize is that also what come with change is growth. And I don’t know about y’all, but I’m all about that growth. At the end of the day, we aren’t trees. We aren’t mean to stay in the same damn spot forever.

15. Age is a number and a state of mind

Image result for betty white flipping off the camera

I mean look at Betty White. She’s in her 90’s and she’s still flicking off the camera like a teenager on the last day of school. My own grandfather was still climbing onto the roof well into his 80’s. And I know numerous people that are in better physical shape in their 40’s and 50’s than they were in their early 20’s. Have you seen JLo?! My point being, age is just a number. Youthfulness has no hard set limit and wisdom can even start earlier for some than others. I remember when I was turning 30 everyone made a big deal out of it–including myself, even though I tried hard to not admit it lol. But to be honest with you guys, I’ve never felt more alive and full of life.

16. Loyalty starts from the heart

It’s a scary world out there, and it can be really hard to trust anyone. What I’ve learned, is that you know someone is loyal if they can express anything to you from the heart. Loyalty is not surface level. Loyalty is DEEP. It involves trust. It’s scary. It’s a big commitment. But the better you get to know someone, the better idea you will have about their loyalty. It comes from the heart. Try your hardest to see past the exterior, because not everyone will treat you with the same respect you deserve. Yet, you will come across a lot of people that will try to blind side and fool you into believing that they will. It’s okay to have a guard up until you feel ready. Loyalty takes time.

17. Trust takes patience…. give yourself time

Going off what I said above, just like loyalty takes time–trust takes patience. Do you guys remember those team bonding exercises they used to make us do at summer camp? You remember… “Hayley, stand up there on that ledge and fall backwards into the arms of all these people down here”. Um, HELLO?! You’re joking right!? Those exercises were scary because trust takes patience. There’s a reason we don’t just trust everyone on the street. But it’s not a bad thing. The fact that we have to allow time for trust to build just validates how valuable good trust really is. After all, Rome wasn’t build over night.

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18. Malice can be a reflection of one’s insecurities

This is basically the epitome of “don’t take it personal”. I spent the majority of my young adult life thinking people’s nasty actions towards me was somehow a reflection of me. A result of me being wrong, or not good enough. Not until recently have I gotten clarity on this–most people will treat you unfairly as a result of their own insecurities. They aren’t happy with something about themselves and fear you may also notice their shortcomings–so rather than just be honest about that, they want to put you down so they don’t feel so insecure themselves. Deep, huh?! It’s true though. I wouldn’t say this is always the case, but try your hardest to remember that not everything is personal. And then try even harder. This is something I have to remind myself on the daily.

19. Water is your best friend

H2 mother f’in O. The liquid of life. The glorious juice. You literally can’t live a week without water. Your skin, your organs, your hair, your energy, your electrolytes, etc etc etc. Y’all get the gist. Drink your 8 glasses of water a day, people.

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20. Independence is the key to freedom

Some people will argue that money gives you freedom. Status gives you freedom. Being able to work from home is the ultimate path to freedom. This may sound like one of those “self-help” books that we start reading in our late 20’s (and oh yes, it will happen to you too hehe ), but, honestly–if you want to feel free strive to be independent. To not have to rely on anyone or anything else. Sure, some of that involves money, and your “job”, and your living arrangement, etc. But at the end of the day, independence is the goal. Knowing you can do this thing called life all on your own, that’s the ultimate achievement.

21. Cherish your time with your family

We can get so caught up in the day to day of life that we forget what matters most. Family and loved ones. Time spent and memories made with family are the greatest gifts of life. Not a day is promised and tomorrow is not guaranteed. The more time spent with family and the stronger those bonds become, the happier you will feel. You may not always agree with them, but at the end of the day they are your blood. They are part of what makes you, you.

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22. Don’t take life too seriously

Examples of how I try to not take life too seriously:

I wear sparkly shoes to my professional job

I like to do funny dances and make funny faces when work gets stressful

I exercise at the gym wearing no shoes (for all you gym rats, relax… I’m doing this at my own risk)

I try to eat clean and healthy most of the time, but I still buy Fruit Loops

My point is, life can be serious sometimes but it’s also fun. Don’t forget to let the kid out in you and have fun. It’s good for the serotonin levels.

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23. No one is judging you as much as you think they are judging you–let it go

Let it go. Remember that one party where you entirely embarrassed yourself and left thinking “omg, everyone is totally judging me now. They must all hate me”. Or when you showed up to an event under dressed because you didn’t read the invite clearly. Or when you wake up with a pimple the size of Mars on your face and every encounter you have for the rest of the day you are POSITIVE is spent with the other person staring at your skin crater. In all honesty, most of the time that is just anxiety you’re creating for yourself over nothing. For anyone that knows me well knows this has my name all over it hahahah. Hey , we are all a work in progress!

24. Treat your diet like your bank account

It’s simple. You can have all the things. You just can’t have them all at once and still live a healthy lifestyle. You want the double cheeseburger? That’s fine! Just don’t get it with the fries and the shake. Or maybe skip out on the burger and go for the fries and shake. It’s a pretty simple concept that we over dramatize because, well… food is wonderful, and most times our emotions tell us we should get all three 🙂

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25. Life is all about balance

Kind of like I said above, life is really all about balance. We should always strive to enjoy life–life is enjoyable! Just because you want to look fit doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit for six months straight. And just because you are trying to be frugal with your money doesn’t mean you have to lose sleep over spending that extra $20 to get the brand of cleaning supplies that you actually like the smell of. Just like politics, everyday life is a stream of checks and balances to keep us on track. Be really good 70-80% of the time, and be naughty the other 20%. It’s nothing to be intimidated by. It’s just life.

26. Always fight for what you think is RIGHT

I’ve always said that you don’t have to be a minority to feel the weight of discrimination. You don’t have to be the victim of something to agree that what is happening is not RIGHT. You have a voice and I truly believe it is your duty to use it. There is a lot of unjust in our world today. If we all stood up and vocalized how we felt even when it doesn’t personally effect us, the world would be a much better place. MLK Jr. , one of my favorite’s of all time once said, “The time is always right to do what is right”. This is something I hold near and dear to my heart. And something I hope that everybody grasps on to as they get older and wiser

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27. Trust your gut… your intuition is usually right

It just feels like science to me. There is a reason you are feeling a certain type of way. Your gut knows whats up.

28. Love is worth potential heartbreak

Love is what makes the world go round. Love is present in the midst of violence. Love can drive out hate. But love is SCARY—love definitely scares us even though we don’t realize it sometimes. And that’s because in order to love wholeheartedly, we have to make ourselves vulnerable. We have to risk getting hurt. But let me tell you something, that feeling you have when you’re in love is WORTH it. It is an incredible sensation. There is no price tag to that kind of feeling. So for me…. I will risk the heartbreak. As I think everyone should. Because I can’t imagine dying tomorrow without experiencing that “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of stuff”.

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29. Money doesn’t always equal happiness

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If it weren’t for student loans, I’d be on an island somewhere braiding hair for a living. Money makes the world go round, yes this is true. But it is also the root of all evil. Ever heard that phrase “mo money mo problems?!” Ugh PREACH. There are so many things in life that hold higher value than money… experiences, love, family, laughter, the feeling of a warm shower after a hard af workout. Why yes I love dolla dolla bills y’all, it’s not what life is about. It comes and goes. But it never, and should never, define who you are.

Kim Kardashian throws money animated GIF

30. Kindness is a win win

Because in any and every situation, you will never regret being the girl who was kind.

Well there you have it, y’all. Some of the top most important things I have learned along my journey over the past 3 decades. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 30 and thriving! ❤

xo, HG

5 Tips to Help You Overcome the Challenges of Being In An Interracial Relationship

Alright guys, this one was hard for me to write. But I felt like I had to. I had to so that I can provide a voice for anyone else out there that understands what racism and inequality feels like through the lens of a partner. I’m talking about interracial relationships. Now let me preface this by saying that I do not want to talk or focus on politics and/or current events that have been happening. While yes the negative energy and constant disputes that fill up my social media feed daily urged me to finally speak up about something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time, I’m not here to have a debate. I don’t want to talk about who is right, who is wrong. I want to shine light on things from a different perspective. I want to speak on behalf of all the people out there that have had to deal with these issues indirectly by way of their relationships.

Until recently, I was in a long-term relationship with a wonderful man. He’s black, and I’m white. For those of who you know me well, I genuinely don’t see color. Okay, okay, sooo cliché, I know! But seriously. I just don’t get the whole racism thing. I can’t relate, and I’ve never been able to. But as I had assumed at the beginning of our relationship, dating him wasn’t a cake walk. And not because of the quality of his character, but because of the color of his skin. We had tons of people who supported it and didn’t think twice. But we received hesitation by others. I felt the personal sting of racism first hand, yet I knew better than to even begin to understand what it felt like for him. Nonetheless, it can be hard being the white girlfriend dating a black man in a world where hate and racism come so freely.

I’ve always yearned to be able to connect with women in similar situations as mine. But the more I searched for blog posts like this one, the more I realized how little is out there. If I touch home to even just one person with this post, I’ll be happy. I just want anyone out there that feels the struggle of interracial relationships first hand to know that I hear you! I got you. I’ll be a voice for the both of us.

So today I’m highlighting 5 simple, yet important tips from yours truly that will help you face the challenges of being in an interracial relationship:

1)      Don’t take it personal

Again, the topic of racism in society today can very quickly turn into a pretty nasty debate. People can be extremely passionate, on both sides. Try not to let the frustrations get the best of you and your relationship. There’s always going to be someone out there that doesn’t agree with your walk of life. Whether it be because of your political views, the fact that you work in healthcare, your religious/spiritual beliefs, the color of your hair, how you drive on the highway in the rain, or the skin color of your partner. People just don’t always agree, we know this. So try your hardest not to take a personal jab when someone expresses that they don’t agree with your relationship. They don’t agree with your “type” of relationship, not yours specifically. Just agree to disagree and move on. I promise it will make things better for both you and your relationship. Like Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”.

"You can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches." Dita Von Teese

2)      Speak up, with class

While you shouldn’t take the judgement of your relationship personal, you also shouldn’t stay silent. Speak up for what you believe. But with class. This is something I had to learn the hard way. I struggled with this at the beginning of my relationship. I was a loose canon, so to speak. I remember feeling the rage radiating up my body anytime I would feel those judgmental eyes while out with my boyfriend in public. It infuriated me so much that these people felt the need to single us out without even knowing our first names. And boy, those looks of disgust truly hurt. My mama bear switch would get turned on so fast. I was ready to defend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled “What?! You’ve never seen an interracial couple before?! It’s the 21st century!” to complete strangers. But over time I realized that this really didn’t solve anything. I felt guilty afterwards. It felt like I was returning the judgement that they so freely passed on to me, which is exactly what shouldn’t happen. Stand up for your loved one, always. It’s vital if you are in an interracial relationship, for both partners. But stand up for them with a smile. Be confident in knowing that this is completely normal. We are all people that should respect one another until we have reason to feel otherwise. Sometimes it can feel like walking a fine line between standing up for your man/woman and totally judging the shit out of people who don’t understand your love for one another. When you are feeling discouraged by it all, remember how far we have come. Interracial relationships are more prevalent now than they have ever been before. There’s a mural in the neighborhood that I live in Austin that reads “ Love is the question, love is the answer”. I picture this mural in my mind anytime I let the presence of racism/inequality/hatred in America get me down. Can you imagine if we all just focused on that statement?

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3)      Be willing to break the chain

This can be a challenge, but I feel it is something that must be understood for people engaging in interracial relationships. If you think you won’t have hardships brought on to you by society, regardless of each other’s race, you may be wrong. Speaking from my own experience, I truly believe that people’s hesitation towards the interracial thing stems from how they were raised to perceive it. How they were brought up to view society’s’ melting pot of mixed culture, race, religion, you name it. Again, I’m not pointing fingers or saying that anyone’s view point on this matter is necessarily wrong. But if you are in relations with someone of a different race than your own, and you truly love that person, you believe in this. You believe interracial relationships are just as accepting, or should be at least, as relationships between two people of the same race. Would you support your child in a similar situation? Do you stand up for your fellow interracial couple friends? If so, maybe it’s time to break the chain. You aren’t arguing with anyone. You aren’t even disagreeing with anyone. You are merely deciding to be vocal about the fact that you have a different perspective on this whole thing, one that may differ from friends and family alike. Don’t be afraid of this. It’s no one’s fault, not theirs or yours. The only thing constant in life is change. You deserve to believe in what you believe in, and quite honestly, you should stand firm in that. Love is blind despite the world’s attempt to give it eyes.

#mixedcouple #interracialcupid  #interracialdating #weloveinterracial…

4)      Never let race define your relationship

It’s a small part of your complex union. It isn’t the sole defining purpose of your relationship. It’s a small part. Similar to two people coming from different upbringings, differing religious beliefs, political stand points, views on healthcare, involvement with family, etc. Most people have deal breakers when it comes to relationships. Race may be one of them for some people. Obviously it’s not for you and your partner, but drop it at that. Be proud to be in an interracial relationship, but don’t parade it around too much. It’s not the core reason for the connection between you and your partner. It’s a minor detail. Even though it may be a big deal to other people it, isn’t to you. So don’t let it be. There are more important aspects to a relationship. Like whether or not he’s into sports as much as you are—deal breaker if he ain’t! Does he like to travel? Can I tell that he treats his family with respect? Does he genuinely value the importance of education? And please tell me he’s capable of devouring an entire pizza every now and then just for the hell of it. These are just some of the things I think about when contemplating characteristics I seek in another person. Oh, and he’s black/brown/yellow/purple on top of everything else? Dope. You know what they say… sometimes opposites attract   If you’re like me, you never allow race to determine who you date. So don’t allow race to define who you are as a couple.

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5)      Come from a place of love, not malice

One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes reads “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. To fight back with hatred out of anger is counter intuitive, people. Racism exists on ALL sides. While, like I said, I’m not going to get political on this, it’s important that we remember that the inequality that we see portrayed in this society is multi-factorial. It doesn’t stem from one group of people, one race. We can spend our entire lives trying to uncover “who came first, the chicken or the egg”, but for what? The past is the past, history is history. What truly matters is NOW. How are we treating each other today?  Like I mentioned earlier, remember that not everyone is going to agree with you. And regardless of how that makes you feel emotionally, try to be content with that. The best thing we can do for interracial relationships and the push for racial equality is to lead by example. When two people of opposite races come together as one, they are portraying that love trumps race. That they would rather love someone for who they are, not what they are. Even in the face of adversity? Absolutely. It shouldn’t be a competition on who is right and who is wrong when it comes to the subject of racism. If I lash back with a closed off, irate attitude towards someone who feels the need to judge me for being in an interracial relationship, than I am expressing a message completely opposite of what I intend to. That love is love, regardless of color. People are people, regardless of color. And like  MLK once said, “returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

So there you have it my loves. I hope this helped bring a sense of hope and optimism to anyone who is exhausted from the feeling of opposition. Again, we have come a LONG way. At the end of the day we love who we love, and that’s how it should be. In a world that can appear to thrive off of hate and separation, always do your best to find the silver lining ❤

xoxo, HG

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5 Tips to Help You Overcome the Challenges of Being In An Interracial Relationship

Hayley's Comment

Alright guys, this one was hard for me to write. But I felt like I had to. I had to so that I can provide a voice for anyone else out there that understands what racism and inequality feels like through the lens of a partner. I’m talking about interracial relationships. Now let me preface this by saying that I do not want to talk or focus on politics and/or current events that have been happening. While yes the negative energy and constant disputes that fill up my social media feed daily urged me to finally speak up about something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time, I’m not here to have a debate. I don’t want to talk about who is right, who is wrong. I want to shine light on things from a different perspective. I want to speak on behalf of all the people…

View original post 1,732 more words

18 Tips That Will Help You Get The Most Out of Your Vacation

Alright people, it’s been too. damn. long. I’m bacccckkkk. I know you guys missed me.

I’ve had a bad case of writers block over the past year (life, ya know) and I can’t wait to dive back into what I love. Writing about random shenanigans that make me laugh while, hopefully, making you laugh as well. I mean that’s why you are here, right? For those of you who don’t know me yet or my writing style, welcome and enter at your own risk. I march through life to the beat of my own drum, I’m an open book, I’m both hilarious and slightly annoying, and I hope “didn’t take life too seriously” is mentioned briefly in my eulogy one day.

Travel is my thing. It’s the only thing I can purchase that makes me feel richer. When I’m in a good place, it makes me better. When I’m feeling down, it brings me back to reality and sparks interest in my life again. I have really focused on priortizing it since graduating college, and have been privelged to visit 7 countries over the course of 3 short years. People always ask me how I do it. Why do I do it? How am I able to afford it? Do you ever work? Hahahah. So I wanted to share with you guys 18 core elements to my travel brain that help me let loose, embrace the journey, and just go. Enjoy!

1) Just book the ticket

Hesitation is probably one of the main things that keep people from traveling to new places. What if I can’t get off work? What if I can’t afford it? I don’t want to go alone. I don’t want to waste all of my vacation. Who is going to watch the dog? Hey guess what… if you just buy the ticket you are forced to figure those things out. And you will. The money will always come back. Everything will work out. Live in the now and travel while you are young and able. If you’re giving yourself a headache over constantly watching for the best airline price, download Hopper. It’s an app that allows you to enter your preferences (date, location, etc) for your trip, and alerts you when prices are lowest/best time to buy. Oh, and there’s travel insurance if you are worried about getting off from work. Bottom line is, life will figure itself out. BUY THE DAMN TICKET.

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2) Pack light

So I’ve learned the hard way with this one. I’m a girly girl at heart. Do I want a minimum of 3 different wardrobe outfits a day? Well, sure. But your luggage really does limit you. If you don’t believe me, try lugging around two 50+ pound bags in the Tokyo subway station during rush hour. Not cute ladies, not cute. I’ve been called high maintenance, and even I was able to pack 2 weeks worth of a Europe trip in a carry on. Message me if you need ideas on how to manage this. I got yo back like chiropract.

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More force, Mindy. More force.

3) Make a TENTATIVE itinerary  

I’m normally not a fan of itineraries, schedules, excel sheets, really anything that interrupts my Type B personality. However, to really maximize your TIME (this is an important one) and your experiences, you should really have a tentative itinerary to help keep you on track. I emphasize “tentative” because you never know when there is going to be a flash mob during Pride week in the streets of Vienna. A rainy day you didn’t plan for. An impromptu roller coaster ride with a group of Japanese high schoolers you just met. And heaven forbid you just want to skip lunch and go straight to happy hour after 15 hours of traveling. Be flexible while still knowing that you can reference Appendix B for ideas if you’re bored or have down time. (Oh, and having a Type A friend to travel with is a hot commodity. Yes I’m looking at you, Irina. )

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4) Do yo research

I’m talking more than just knowing the language and capital. How are the people there? Are you expected to tip? Is it rude to look at people directly? What’s the crime like, and who are you supposed to contact in times of crisis? Do you drink the water? Are you going to look like an idiot if you ask “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” Be prepared for any unfamiliar place so you can walk off that plane feeling like a badass, prepared to dive into the culture and everything new. Or you can go in blind and look like a clueless Kim Kardashian ready to bring a whole new meaning to the term boojie tourist. Choice is yours my friend.

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5) See as many places as possible

The world is a HUGE place. Pretty sure my bucket list is more detailed than my professional resume. Sorry mom. If you are like me, you have an urge to see as much of the world as possible. Now, I’m not going to calculate to the second decimal point how many days/hours/weeks you will have for travel in your lifetime. But unless you are fortunate enough to travel freely whenever you want (shout out to all my wanderlust dreamers out there #lifegoals), you need to maximize each and every trip. I’ve seen 3 different cities in the Domincan Republic over 5 days, and I recently just got back from a 11 day Europe trip where I traveled to 4 different countries. It’s possible, I promise.

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Can we all just take a moment and admire how adorable Michelle Obama is? That woman truly has a swagger like no other.

6) Meet locals

There really is no better way to explore a new place. Don’t be shy. You don’t know these people, what is the worst that could happen?! Some of my best memories from traveling are those spent with the people I met while visiting. A tourist can’t show you all the hidden spots kept secret by the people who live there. A tourist can’t teach you traditional Greek dance. A tourist probably doesn’t know the best bar to go to on a Wednesday, and a tourist sure as hell can’t help you with directions. Don’t be afraid to stray away from the resort. Comfort is great, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day, there ain’t much you can take away from that all-inclusive life other than a full stomach, a sunburn, and a bad hangover.

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This is what Greece was like, y’all lol

7) Don’t book tours

You won’t need to after meeting some locals as described above. I only bought one guided tour during my Eurotrip this summer, and that’s because we had less than 24 hours in Portugal and needed the bus for easy transport. If you do your research and prioritize your “have to see” list, it’s so much more fulfilling to venture and do it on your own. Nothing screams typical American tourist more than a group of eager beavers walking single file while trying to figure out how to use the headset. “Wait, mine’s still on French! How do I change it to English?!”.  Ay, dios mio!

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8) Extend your stay if possible

If you are able, just stay an extra day or two. There is nothing more thrilling. Travel  insurance is wonderful people. You’ll figure it out 😉 I was able to reschedule my flight home from Venice due to a travel strike. Which are common in Europe, by the way. I mean, I probably could have told Delta I wasn’t able to make it to the airport because I stepped on my PBJ sandwich and they would have worked with me. Not to discredit P Diddy, but..

I’m not coming home, I’m not coming home
Tell the world I’m not coming home

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9) Attempt to learn the language

Okay, okay, I didn’t say you had to be FLUENT. Relax. No one said you had to invite Rosetta Stone. The three things I make sure I learn how to say when I’m visiting a new place are “Hello”, “Thank You”, and “How much does this cost?”. It’s really not hard. It will make you look less touristy, it will make things easier for you, and it’s actually pretty fun. Plus, it makes you feel like a well-traveled scholar. Just trying to be like you, Ron Burgundy. Just trying to be like you.

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10) Get it on video

One word: GoPro. Make this term a verb when you travel. There are just certain aspects to traveling that can’t be captured in a picture. Film allows you to get the sensation of re-living the moment. Plus, video montages are fun to make and may just become a new hobby of yours. Hayley Takes Europe: Summer 2017, coming soon. 

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Disclaimer: this dude is way more of a badass than I am. I don’t even know how to surf.

11) Be flexible and willing to try new things

Guys, things are going to be different. If you can’t embrace that, why are you traveling there? Life is too short to remain in your comfort zone. If the people have been eating it for years, I promise it won’t kill you. Don’t be basic. Leave that shit at home.

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12) Don’t count calories

Just don’t. Life is about balance. And it hurts my soul to think of anyone passing up a Margherita pizza due to fear of the caloric intake. Food is a huge part of culture. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a foodie! It makes me nauseous to think of dieting while on holiday. Just eat the damn pizza/gyro/eggroll/hamburger/gelato/paella/etc. You will most likely walk half of it off by the end of the day.  Nobody cares if you are strong enough to say “no” to dessert or another bottle of wine. Even Einstein is not impressed by your willpower at this point.

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13) Sacrifice sleep

Seriously. You can sleep when you’re dead. Fine, you can sleep on the plane home. Okay yeah, that’s hard to do too. YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU GET HOME. Let caffeine do what it’s been doing for centuries. Because what can you see/do/taste/drink when you’re sleeping? Not a damn thing. Don’t miss the sunrise/sunset, don’t miss the night life, don’t miss the early morning hustle and bustle. Try to let the little kid excitement inside you carry you through. Just whisper “Christmas morning” to yourself upon waking up everyday. Or mimosas and eggs benny. That always seems to work for me #basic

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14) Documentation is everything

Pictures. Videos. Emails. Hashtags. Journals. Snap Chats. All of it. Don’t let it engulf your every move and allow yourself to not live in the moment. But the only person you can get pissed at for not having enough pictures once you get home is yourself. Don’t worry about being overbearing on social media while you’re on vacation. There is no. such. thing. Most people love getting to live vicariously through you, or so I’ve been told. To any of you who disagree with me on this matter….bye Felicia.

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15) Use AirBnB for lodging 

Pretty, pretty please. Don’t visit a new place. Experience living in a new place. Cheaper, more efficient, more privacy, feels more like home, etc etc etc. Don’t stay in a hotel, especially if you are in a group. And don’t get all bent out of shape over the bad reviews. There’s always going to be bad apples. Some of us don’t really care that the bed sheets aren’t 1500 thread count Egyptian quality, Karen.

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16) Travel solo

At least once. Even if for a day. It’s just…. magical. Hard to explain it, just do it! You will learn more about yourself than you realize. You are forced to.

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Eat Pray Love version of Julie Roberts vibes all day errdayyyy

17) Don’t be afraid

Traveling is the perfect time to practice giving people and places the benefit of the doubt. It’s crazy how much people hold back due to the unfamiliar. Just drop any fear you may have and allow yourself to just be. Oh, you think it’s unsafe to be vulnerable and trusting in this new place? Have you ever thought how dangerous home is? Bet I just blew your mind, huh? You’re going on an adventure, so let it be one. Embrace it.

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18) Allow your trip to change you… to evolve you

I’m going to do my best to not sound like a sappy travel blogger gone Hallmark. But in my opinion, the importance in traveling for self growth is so underemphasized in today’s society. One of the biggest regrets I will ever have is not studying abroad. I urge you to go into a new place completely vulnerable and willing to be transformed. Allow the difference in language, food, currency, and people to teach you something. You don’t always need to be in control–that’s for your monotonous, routine life at home. It’s not always comfortable, and most of the times it may even be a little frightening. But if you allow it to, the journey will change you. Do this and I promise you will take something valuable home with you. And hopefully, you leave something good behind when you leave.

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So there you have it. A concise collection of some of my best tips on how to maximize your experience and your time while abroad. The more you maximize your experience, the more you will get out of it. Hence, the more willing your bank account is going to be in forgiving you for giving it an anxiety attack. Travel is absolutely about exploring a different place, but it’s also about exploration within yourself. When it’s all said and done and your trip comes to an end, home will still be the same. But hopefully something in your mind has changed. And that changes everything.

Cheers!

xoxo, H

The 16 most touristy things said during my vacation: Dominican Republic edition

    So it’s been a little over two months since I got back from my vacation to one of the most beautiful islands EVER. My best friend is from the the DR, and I was fortunate enough to finally go visit the motherland with her. Let me tell you, there is really no better way to explore a new place than with someone who has been there before. Or in this case, many times before. Shout out to Irina. Ok ok, also Ivana. And Galla. And Alexei, Daniel, Leidy, and Marianna. Real World Punta Cana 2016, what upppp.

    Just how I stood out like “Where’s Waldo” during our Japan trip (imagine a sea of slick black hair with a blonde lions mane courtesy of yours truly), this time was no different. I’ve been told I’m a great person to travel with, but I also could have single handedly defined the word tourist. So for those of you that have recently been or are thinking about visiting this kick-ass place, here’s some of the highlights from my trip. In basic white girl vernacular. Sometimes I’m funny.

1. “One of us will definitely get Zika”

Y’all, it’s real. And not just in a “people won’t stop talking about this shit” real, but in a “wait someone google the symptoms of Zika because I may have it” real.

Actually it was a mosquito - http://www.loonyhumor.com

    2. “Just divide by 45.”

So watching me try to figure out how to convert between USD and any other form of currency has got to be the most entertaining thing ever. Apparently you can just divide what you owe in Dominican pesos by 45 to figure out what you owe in USD. Thankful for a best friend that understands math. And for smart phones with calculators. Who knows how much those street vendors went home with after they met me.

3. “So is Drake here this weekend?”

Yup, #DominicanDrake is a thing. The guy literally just happened to be at the same part of the island during the same time we were there. Champagne Papi looking more and more like a bouncer at a Caribbean social club in the Bronx with each visit.

Can You Catch These Common Grammar Mistakes? (QUIZ)

4. “Buckle up and hold on tight. No, but seriously. Is there even a speed limit here?!”

Picture this. I get off the plane, finally exit the Santo Domingo airport after 2 hours spent in customs (the locals like to take advantage of tourist’s ignorance and cut them in line.. normally I would be angry, but I was actually impressed at their idgaf attitude lol), and get into a pickup truck with an 18 year old driver who is consuming an alcoholic beverage. Yes, while en route. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never seen any of the The Fast and the Furious movies, but I totally get it now. Honking is equivalent to a friendly “how’s it going” head nod in the dominican culture.

Night in the life of a night shift nurse

5. “I’ll have an order of the mangu. Ok, I’ll take two orders. You know what, might as well bring me three.”

Anyone that knows me knows that I frequently make love to my food, but this was an entirely new sensation for me. This was an obsession. I mean seriously guys, please don’t let me order mangu more than twice in one day next time.

Mangú (Dominican-style Mashed Plantain)  HispanicKitchen.com:

Or allow me to publicly proclaim my heart’s desires.

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6. “So I guess they don’t believe in strict gun laws.”

After my wild ride transit from the airport, we decided to stop and get a beverage at a local gas station (insert Presidente emoji). Because, you know, that’s what you do in the DR when there’s a girl in the backseat screaming for dear life. This was my first encounter with gas station “security” which basically consists of men in uniform holding rifles who of course make me paranoid.  Try not to act weird, Hayley. Try not to act weird. Workin’ on it guys.
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7. “Presidente for president”

Because alcohol > politics, and beer is pretty great no matter where in the world you’re drinking it.

8. “To the left to the left (kiss)”

It’s always fun when you go to a place and get to feel classy AF because you’re expected to follow the social norm with the hello kiss. Until you’re up close and personal with someone and immediately forget which side to go to. It’s to the left, people. I was fortunate enough to dodge a few close calls to the lips. I love your family Irina, but not like THAT.

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9. “Run? I thought you said Rum”

Allow me to be cliche for a second and brag about how amazing Dominican rum is. No seriously, felt like drinking a cold Sonic slush  on a hot summer day. With booze juice that has the taste of, um, well basically nothing. #brugal

Time flies when you're having rum... beach cover up!:

Oh, and I need this tank. For obvious reasons.

10. “Oh you know, just chillin’ at Christopher Columbus’ crib.”

I don’t even know how to describe how crazy of a feeling it was to be standing in something that was built in the late 1400’s. But I couldn’t figure out if he would have put the pool table on the back porch or in the den. Feel like he was cool.

11. “I guess my hips do lie.”

Let me start by saying that I truly do consider myself a good dancer. I know how to get my hips moving. But after trying to learn the merengue and the bachata and miserably failing, I finally accepted the fact that my hips (at this point) can not move like THAT. Some of those guys can make themselves look like swivel chairs.

More #DominicanDrake because this shit is hilarious.

12. “Why is everyone clapping?”

When you fly to the DR from Austin there are usually 2 airports that you connect through. Either Miami or JFK in New York City. The flight out of JFK usually consists of mainly Dominicans with a sprinkle of the obvious “I’ve got my happy-go-lucky vacation for the next 7 days face on” tourists. Again, yours truly. Well, I guess it’s some kind of tradition for them to clap upon landing in Santo Domingo. I mean, full on applause. Cheering.  “Excuse me. Was there something wrong with the plane that I was unaware of? Are we celebrating life right now?”

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13. “One glass of Sangria is ENOUGH”

This should serve as a public health announcement. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how they do it. But just believe me when I say, authentic dominican sangria is STIFF. Not like the “this is basically juice, I love how I can have 4 glasses and be completely fine” sangria that we have here. Just trust me. You really only need one glass.

14. “That’s cool that they got a table and bottle service for graduation week. Wait… these are high schoolers?!”

Man do they start ’em young. Set aside the fact that the drinking age is 18. These kids know how to PARTY. I’m talking escorted by a driver, black and white attire, handing out bottles of champs like it’s hot potato in the nicest club in Santo Domingo party. What a time to be alive.

but yeah i mean i feel you we see where you were going with that also theres no such thing as a head editor its hilarious to me that everyone thinks were all young

15. “Dinner before 8:30 pm? Hahahha, yeah right.”

Your dinner reservations are probably made for 9:30 pm but you’ll get there at 10 and start eating 30 minutes later. They love the night life, and think us Americans are crazy for eating our dinner while the suns still out. I knew I wasn’t the only one.

Another Period laughing comedy central haha hahahaha

16. “For the American…. that’ll be $100 USD. Oh, and you’re a citizen? That’ll be $1 USD.”

On our last day in Punta Cana, Irina was trying to find us a reasonable price on a snorkeling/boat adventure. All I know is that there was a lot of Spanish and after awhile the guy she was talking to started laughing and the conversation was over. I asked what she said and she responded “I told him to stop giving me tourist prices”. Somehow we ended up getting on the boat for free? Who knows..

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And this is what I imagined I looked like to them. Go white girl. Go white girl.

So there you have it. It’s always fun reliving all of the little inside jokes you created while on your trip. It’s totally fine to act like a tourist. As long as you can laugh about it. Oh, and I got a GoPro for this trip. I think I’ve found a new hobby. Check out the montage I made highlighting what it’s like to have an amazing time in the Dominican Republic!

Cheers! xoxo, H

A Tribute to Michael Scott, The Boy Who Lived

For anyone who has lost a close friend unexpectedly, you understand. You understand the feeling you get every time you wonder onto their Facebook page for the 50th time just to convince yourself it’s not real. And to quickly remind yourself that it is. You understand the confusion, anger, sadness, and helplessness. You’ve asked yourself numerous times “but why him/her?!” It just doesn’t make sense. And as this week (one of the worst in my entire life I may add) is slowly coming to an end, I’m starting to realize that it will NEVER make sense. And that it’s okay to learn how to live with that.

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Dr. Michael Steven Scott was taken from us on August 3, 2015. That day will forever be a gloomy one for the rest of my life. Similar to how it was when Snape took Dumbledore’s life with his own wand. Yes, I just refrenced Harry Potter. You see, we would spend hours upon end discussing how much better life would be if we were at Hogwarts. And because of that, I will never read another J K Rowling masterpiece without thinking about my dear friend.

You know how they say “it’s the people you work with that make you either love or hate your job”. That was Michael for me. I met Michael during my first year here at Hunter Pharmacy Services. He too was a pharmacist. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore everyone I work with here. But Michael was the first one that really took me in. He treated me like a friend before he ever treated me like a coworker. In the beginning it was mostly him mentoring me on how to be a good pharmacist, telling me what the nurses really meant when they would ask bizarre questions, proofreading all of my interventions before sending them out to make sure I didn’t make an absolute fool of myself, shadowing me during my “vulnerable, scared shitless new pharmacist” period. As we grew closer he allowed me to take off the pharmacist training wheels and practice on my own. This was great because it allowed more time for us to talk about where we wanted to go for brunch, what type of prosecco made the best mimosas, the newest/hottest shows on neftlix, and of course our beloved friend Harry. Michael and I would even go to his favorite place (Hanabi) at lunch for bento boxes just to get away from the office and gossip. We loved to gossip. Quite honestly, the hardest part about losing him is that I don’t have him to talk to about losing him. If he were here he would totally get what I mean.

After the initial shock and confusion, I’ve had some time to sit down and reflect about everything that has happened this past week. I’ve decided that even though it will never be easy to accept the fact that he’s gone, he would want me to LEARN something from this. Because in case you didn’t know Michael very well, he was quite the scholar. He would want me to use this experience and allow it to transform me into a better person, pharmacist, and friend in some way. So this is what I’ve come up with thus far:

Life is too damn short. For all of us. Whether it be a loved one, a family member, a friend, or a stranger. Not a single damn day is promised for tomorrow. It matters not your health status, your financial status, nor your common sense or way of life. Shit happens and none of us will ever be prepared for the unknown. So with that being said, why not live every day like it’s your last?! Okay okay, I know. This has obviously been said before. But now I get it. Don’t get me wrong, I in no way believe that people should walk around living their lives in fear that the end is near. Absolutely not. But to live and love with your entire heart, without questioning your intentions or desires. To go after your dreams regardless of the circumstances or the set backs that may come out of it. To react to people the way you truly feel you should react, whether it be with kindness, bluntness, or even malice. Just BE YOU. Because regardless of what the haters may say, there are a lot of people that think the sun shines out of your ass whether you know it not. And you shouldn’t spend a single day not being you in order to please others. Be genuine and soak up all of your strengths and flaws. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your family. You owe it to the world to see how great you truly are. Michael was that way. He was going to tell you exactly how he felt whether you liked it or not. He was 100% Michael, 100% of the time. That is a rare quality in a person, and it is one that I will strive to gain from here on out.

Listen more, worry less. Since life is too damn short, take the time to really take it all in. Stop and smell the freshly printed paper (because that shit smells better than roses). Look away from your computer for a couple of minutes to engage in conversation. Find out when your coworkers birthdays are and plan to have goodies ready for them. Do office pranks. Rather than bitching at the fact that some doctor didn’t take your recommendation, laugh at the fact that he thinks so highly of himself. Focus on loving life more and all of it’s little details. And LISTEN. This one is especially important to me since I have ADHD and what not and SQUIRREL!

Set an example. This one is hard for me to talk about without having a full blown Schlitterbahn water park flow of tears. These last few days of reflection have made me realize that my next step from here is to be like Michael for someone else. To practice leadership through friendship. To do my duty as a friend, pharmacist, citizen by striving to mentor someone when they really need it the most. Even if that means through listening and/or offering your time to be a friend. We all have our shit. Hell, Michael surely had his. But that didn’t stop him from being a genuinely good guy and friend to me. He didn’t owe me anything, yet he really cared about my success. I hope that I can be half the friend and mentor for someone else one day that he was for me.

Snape was Michael’s favorite Harry Potter character, and Snape taught us that heroes can hide in the most unlikely of places. You were my hero Michael. In so many ways. I’m going to do my best to carry on your legacy of social chair here, and I couldn’t be more honored to follow in your footsteps. Because you know me. I solemnly swear that I will ALWAYS be up to no good. (Harry Potter reference for all you muggles out there).

❤ xoxo, HG

10 Life Lessons from Admiral William McRaven

With graduation approaching, I can’t stop thinking about how it’s only been a year since I walked across that stage and watched the world’s greatest fireworks show. With front row tickets I may add (go pharmacy!). The emotions are real you guys. It’s such an overwhelming time in your life. And believe me, your Forty Acres family will do everything in their power to tug at your heartstrings as much as possible.

Last year, Admiral William McRaven graciously agreed to give a commencement address at our university wide graduation ceremony. It had been 37 years since he had been in our shoes as a new UT graduate. He began his speech by talking about our slogan here at UT: “what start’s here changes the world“. Through his experiences in the military and basic Navy Seal training, he was able to formulate 10 key points to help us change the world.

“It matters not whether you ever serve a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your sexual orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar. And the lessons to overcome those struggles, and to move forward, changing ourselves and changing the world around us, will apply equally to all”.

Now bear with me. This isn’t one of those short Buzzfeed-like blogs. I decided to take a deeper perspective when writing for you guys this time around, because I think this one is important. I encourage you to read through to the end. And I hope that if anything, you are left with some courage and confidence for what your future holds.

1.IIf you want to change the world start off by making your bed

Every morning during training, the instructors would come into his room and inspect his bed. It was a requirement that they make their bed to perfection. Even though it felt ridiculous at first that such a mundane task was of the utmost importance, Admiral McRaven learned how critical it was. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have achieved the first task of the day”. Not only will it give you a sense of pride and encourage you to do other tasks, but it will also reinforce that the little things in life matter. Seems easy right? I personally believe that his message is in holding yourself accountable. It’s more than just tucking in your sheets every morning.

“And if all else fails, you will come home at the end of the day to a bed that is made.”

2. If you want to change the world find someone to help you paddle

Divided into groups, his class would struggle to paddle through the surf during the worst of the weather. Every paddle that was made was to be synchronized, with each member exerting equal effort. If they didn’t paddle in unison, they wouldn’t make their destination. “You can’t change the world alone. You will need some help. And to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers, and a strong coxswain to guide you”.

Yes, it is OKAY to allow yourself to confide in others. The most successful didn’t get where they are today on their own.

3. If you want to change the world measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers

Admiral McRaven talked about how there was a boat crew of “little guys”, which they called the Munchkin Crew. No one was over 5’5”. All of them of different racial and cultural backgrounds. The taller guys would always make fun of the little flippers the Munchkin Crew had on their feet. However, the little guys would always out-run and out-swim the rest of the crews. “Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education, not your social status.”

We are all one in the same. My size of my flippers is a reflection of my anatomy, not of who I am inside.

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward

Several times a week the crew would get uniform inspection. Just like making the bed, the standards were unbelievably high. No matter how polished your belt buckle nor how starched your uniform, it was never enough. If inspection was failed, the students had to run fully clothed to the surf zone, and while wet, roll around on the beach until every part of their bodies was covered in sand. This effect was called the “sugar cookie”. Some students struggled with the fact that the instructors were never going to let them succeed. They couldn’t accept that their uniform would never be perfect. Those students didn’t make it through training. “Sometimes no matter how well you prepare, or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.”

Yeah, not those kind of sugar cookies.

5. If you want to change the world don’t be afraid of the circuses

As one would assume, training was consumed with daily physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, etc. If your times were not met, your name was posted on a list. At the end of the day, every name that was posted on the list was invited to a “circus”. An additional 2 hours of hard work formulated to test your mind, break you down, and make you want to quit. It was inevitable. At some point during training, every student would make the circus list. But see, for those that were constantly on the list, they got stronger. “Life is full of circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

But you can be afraid of clowns. Because clowns are creepy.

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first

During training all of the students were required to complete a 25 piece obstacle course. The most challenging obstacle was the “slide for life”. Combined with a 3-tiered 30 foot tower and a 200 foot long rope, the record for best time had been untouched for years. Until one of Admiral McRaven’s class members went down head first. It seemed dangerous, foolish, and put the student at risk for injury. Nonetheless, he braved the challenge and cut the record time by half.

And you know how us Longhorns are. We like to be the best.

7. If you want to change the world don’t back down from the sharks

Part of their time at camp was spent on San Clemente Island, where the waters served as breeding grounds for great white sharks. Long swims were required to pass training, including night swims. As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, the instructors made it a point to educate them on the all the different species of sharks right before their journey. They would reassure that no student has ever been eaten by one. Or at least, not to their knowledge. They were told to “stand your ground” if a shark appeared to start circling your position. To not swim away or act afraid. “There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.”

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

8. If you want to change the world be your very best in the darkest moment

Navy Seals have a job to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. To practice, during training they would be dropped off outside an enemy harbor and swim over 2 miles underwater using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target. There is always SOME light that comes through throughout the swim. But when approaching the ship, the light begins to fade. The Seal divers are expected to swim under the ship and find the “keel”, the centerline of the ship. The darkest part of the ship. Where you can be easily disoriented. Where you can fail. Every Seal knows that this is a time when you need to be calm. When you must be calm. And composed. “When all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

You will never regret being the one who was calm and collected during moments of crisis.

9. If you want to change the world start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud

“Hell Week” started the ninth week of training. Six days of no sleep, continuous physical and mental harassment, followed by a day at the Mud Flats. A swampy patch of land where the mud can literally eat you alive. The students were expected to spend 15 hours in the freezing cold as the instructors persistently pushed each member to quit. As his team was engulfed in mud, they were told that they could leave if only five men would quit. With eight hours to go. Through chattering teeth, one voice began to sing. One voice became two, and then two become three. Before long, everyone in the class was singing. Admiral McRaven remembers thinking that the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer, and the ending closer. “If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person. A Washington, a Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala. One person can change the world by giving people hope.”

Even if you’re off-key, sing to those in need. So that they may find hope.

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell 

In training there is a brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound. All you had to do to quit camp was ring the bell. And you no longer have to wake up at 5 am. No longer have to swim in the freezing water. No longer have to do the obstacle courses. No longer have to endure the hardships of training. “All you had to do was ring the bell to get out. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, EVER, ring the bell.”

So there you have it. Ten simple tasks that, if executed appropriately, can change everything in your life from this point forward. Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never ever give up. If you do these things, the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.

I re-watched this speech for weeks following graduation. Call me corny, but it really had an effect on me. Here was a man whom has accomplished so much in his life, achieving goals most of us can only dream of. Yet his advice is simple. It focuses on how one’s ability to be able to change the world resides in their character. Their humbleness. Their will to selflessly act for the greater good. I think it is important that we remember how vital the little things in life really are. We all have different goals. Whether your goal is to be a business owner, a housewife, or the future president. Never forget how far the little things can get you. To say that this graduation day speech changed the way I viewed my future is an understatement. I hope this year’s commencement ceremony has a similar effect on you.

Congratulations to the class of 2015! You’ve been given the building blocks for ways to change the world during your days spent here on campus. Now is the time to put what you’ve been taught to use. And as you go forward as an alumnus, never forget to give back to future Longhorns, in return for what others have given to you.

Hook’em forever! \m/

-Hayley Gail

18 times El Arroyo made you literally laugh out loud

OK. Why don’t more people talk about how awesome the El Arroyo marquee is?! Have you ever driven by it without doing a double take?! Exactly. Those people sure as hell know what they are doing. I am determined to find the mastermind behind this glorious piece of art.

1. The time they laid out what it’s like to be an Austinite

2. The time they put all the health nuts on blast

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But seriously. Do you have 13.1 or 26.2 on the back of your car

3. When they reminded everyone how much OU sucks

Not like we need a reminder, but it’s still funny

4. The time they had nothing to talk about so they went the bilingual route

5.  Or when they helped Keep Austin Weird

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6. The time they proved how real the struggle can be for those sneaky Facebook tags

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Come on ladies. There’s privacy settings for that.

7. The time they reminded everyone that they are often times late and really good at math

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Don’t lie. I know I’m not the only one!

8. When they tried to distract determined Yogis with Tex Mex

Hey man, that’s just being a Good Samaritan.

9. Or when they are just really clever

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10. How about that one time Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce?! Yeahhhh… we see you all the way down here in Texas, J

#teamB

11. The time they used reverse psychology on all you Snapchat addicts

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12. And then reassured everyone that the iPhone and queso mix really well together

And yes, they have Wifi

13. That one time they were trying to act all nostalgic

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Nameste on my red circle, bitches.

14. Or that one sign because, you know… Texas and weather don’t go well together

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smh

15. The time they tried to keep the animals from starving

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I mean you can’t lie, that’s pretty damn funny

16. More rivalry shit talkin’

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17. When they announced that it was officially Fall

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18. Or when they confessed that they too care about how many FB likes they get

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Gotta keep that social media game strong

I literally take the long way to work so that I can drive by this damn sign everyday. It honestly makes me stop worrying about how late I am, or how shitty my hair looks, or how much I already hate what I’m going to have for lunch. It’s my little “that shit is so funny that I can’t even” time that I get every morning. Bobby Bones is hilarious, don’t get me wrong. But no one keeps it more REAL than the El Arroyo sign. Except maybe NeNe Leakes.

Cheers!

xoxo, H

Things Only Longhorns Understand

Being a part of the Longhorn family means understanding certain things that most people don’t find important. We take pride in not only the big things, but also the little things. If you don’t bleed orange, don’t even try to understand.

1. Burnt orange has basically become a wardrobe primary color

There is no “burnt orange doesn’t look good on me”. There aren’t moments of “I can’t match ANYTHING with burnt orange”. Burnt orange has just become a good portion of your closet. And you’re okay with that.

2. Tailgating is not an event, it’s a lifestyle

When will people realize this?! It’s not a choice on whether you want to go tailgating or not for all of the football home games. It’s a decision on where you want to end up on the UT Tailgating map. Usually influenced by what selection of food will be available, and what other college football games will be playing. The more flat screens, the better.

3. Parallel parking is a piece of a cake

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You’ve already mastered this. You were forced to.

4. 4th of July fireworks are just a tease

After seeing a UT graduation show, all other firecrackers seem sub par. Once again, Longhorn nation setting the bar just a little bit higher. I’m pretty sure we give Disney a running for their money.

5. Having more pets with names that represent UT than actual degrees from UT

Bevo, Hook ’em, Tex, etc. Fur babies serve as yet another way to express obsessive pride with UT. Plus, how cute are those little outfits the Co-op makes?!

6. Having a whole new meaning for the phrase “little fish in a big pond”

It doesn’t even phase us anymore. It’s literally possible to wear pajamas to class without anyone noticing. Any ordinary day of class just feels like Black Friday all over again.

7. Austin withdrawals

Regardless if you’re from here or not. Regardless if you stay here after graduating or not. It has been scientifically proven that those who stray away from Austin for whatever reason, go through symptomatic Austin withdrawal. Outbreaks occur mainly during Football season and spring time.

8. The struggle of having to decide between ACL or OU weekend

Thankfully ACL got their shit together and created two weeks, so this is no longer as big of an issue. But man were those times hard. It’s basically un-American to have to choose between two of the most important weekends of the year.

9. Babies are capable of sign language at a much younger age than most think

Everyone should know that. It’s not “starting them early” if they are the ones making the decision. But of course there’s a lot of encouraging.

10. Mistaking the Olympics for a University sports event

Anybody else often times forget who you are supposed to be rooting for while watching the Olympics? “Oh wait, it’s our nation we are cheering on. Guess I forgot with all of the UT medals flowing in”. Mad RESPECT.

11. January 4, 2006

No need to explain this one. \m/ We love you Vince.

12.Tiff’s Treats has their own spot on the food pyramid

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I tried to go without these heavenly delights one semester to see if it was even possible. For all of you wondering, it’s not. Don’t even try. Am I the only one that has considered buying stock for this company?! If it’s wrong to eat my weight in Tiff’s Treats, well then hell, I don’t want to be right.

13. Anything is possible in a Dobie dorm room

Two words: Michael Dell. It’s true what they say. “What starts here really does change the world”. I mean, you can’t really argue with that, can you!?

14. Intramural championship shirts are hard to come by

These shirts are definitely a rarity. Making them way more valuable than a $10 t-shirt really should be. Let’s be honest, it’s really about the bragging rights.

15. The best lessons are taught by Navy Seals

It really is an honor to hear wise words from such a prestigious man. “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed”.

16. Matthew McConaughey feels like a long-lost relative

But really. Are we related or something bro!? Or are you the undercover university vice president? Or our celebrity mascot? Nonetheless, we can’t get enough of you.

17. Hearing the word “strong” and immediately dreaming of football season

#stronghorns

18. Gregory gym has it’s very own rush hour

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And let me tell you, the struggle is most definitely real during those times. In my seven years spent at the university, I NEVER saw the weight room that empty. This is totally a misleading picture.

19. “Hook ’em” is an acceptable email signature

Why say sincerely when you can end an email with hook’ em?! No shame in my game.

20. Orange+ is a blood type 

Also scientifically proven. You don’t just chose to become a Longhorn. You ARE a Longhorn.

21. No one knows the extent of OU suckiness better than us

Other schools may agree with us. Some get pride out of doing the best they can to inform us that OU actually doesn’t suck (we like to laugh at these people). But in the end, no one will ever be able to know how much OU really sucks as well as we do. I mean, it’s what rivalry is all about.

There are just some things that only make sense to us Longhorns. And that’s okay. Because as I’ve stated before, there’s a reason we are better, different, and envied more than other schools.

Hook ’em! \m/

-Hayley Gail