My Tattoo Stories

Tattoos can be a touchy subject at times. Will they hurt your chances of employment? How visible should you go? Is it too big? Is it too small? Should it mean something? What kind of person gets a tattoo- a criminal? A hooligan?  Is it an art form on the canvas that is your skin or a desecration of the sacred temple that is your body?

I recently started child-minding as a second job to keep me afloat. During my interview, one of the things that put the new mother on edge with having me take care of her baby was that I have some very visible tattoos. Now, its not like I have anything inappropriate, but it just surprised me a bit at how quick people can be to judge someone without even knowing them.

My own opinion on tattoos is my opinion on basically every “taboo” matter: live and let live. To each their own. None-ya. If it isn’t directly harming anyone in any way, who cares what I do with my body and my life in my free time?

I could go on for ages, but for now I thought it’d be a cool idea to go through and map out the meaning behind all of my ink. Buckle up, we’re about to get real personal.

Tattoo #1

What: Triquetra

WhereBack of my neck

Visibility level: Visibility is optional. Easy to hide if you have medium/long hair.

Judgement level: Ex-boyfriend’s parents discovered this while I was washing dishes with hair up one night. Not a fan.

This was my first tattoo. I mean I literally went the day of my 18th birthday, first thing in the morning, The thing is though, I had thought about this tattoo for years before getting it. I drew it in class on my notes, I researched the history of the symbol, I even had my sister draw it in sharpie on different places on my body to figure out placement.

Long story short, this tattoo means a lot to me, even to this day. I got it before leaving for college to symbolize the three things that come together to give me inner strength, which for me are my mother, my sister and myself. My whole life, the three of us have shared an incredible bond. Leaving for college would be the first time that that bond would be (at least physically) broken. The three points of the symbol are connected by a circle, to symbolize the infinity of this power. I placed it on my neck to represent that although I may not always see them, they are always there, ready to have my back. Obviously, with the life I have chosen for myself after college, this tattoo still holds every bit of meaning as it did that day.

Tattoo #2

What: Om symbol

Where: Left inner wrist

Visibility level: Visible, but usually unnoticed (I’m a righty).

Judgement level: Honestly, non-existent. People quite like this one.

This was a spur of the moment decision. I was lying on the beach with two of my friends one day. We were bored and I said “I mean, we could all go get tattoos”. And so we did.

Regardless, this one still holds just as much meaning. I was never raised under any form of organized religion, however I was taught growing up to live by many different philosophies (yes, there is a difference). One of the ones that most rung true for me and I continue to hold very close to my heart even today is that of the buddhist philosophy. There is a lot to unpack within the philosophy, but I think the best way I can summarize it is this: everything is temporary. Attachment is the expression of a need for something that is innately temporary to be permanent. Because of this, any attachment, whether physical or mental, leads to suffering. Therefore, in order to live an enlightened life, you must live using the middle way of avoiding attachment, and simply experiencing everything for what it is.

Now, this is a very superficial explanation, but it will give you an idea of what this tattoo means. Basically, it’s my reminder to live and experience each moment. When things are good, I enjoy that moment, but I do not hold on to it, because everything in life comes in waves and this too shall pass. As will the bad moments. So essentially, I do my best to be the same person on my worst day as I am on my best.

Tattoo #3

What: Arrow

Where: Ribs

Visibility level: Non existent, unless I’m at the beach but even then its usually covered by my bikini strap.

Judgement level: I’ve had ex boyfriends absolutely shit on me for how “basic” it is, but ah well. Thank u, next.

Okay, this one was another spur of the moment decision. And yes, its “basic”. But here’s the thing: I don’t care. The way I see it, it doesn’t matter how many people in the world have a similar tattoo, or even the same tattoo. What matters is what it means to you. How does this tattoo help you tell your story?

I got this tattoo the day that I changed my major in college. I know, not very deep. But trust, there’s more to it.

I changed my major from Forensic Science to Music Industry. Now, that’s a pretty serious change. No one who knew me was surprised. All of my high school career, I spent my time dividing myself as evenly as possible between the science department and the music department. I had two very strong passions and it seemed completely impossible to pick one.

So when the time came to pick a major, I chose science. Why? It was the most practical, the one that could make me the most money, the safest, and more importantly: the one that would make my family most proud. Ah, there it is. I’m not going to lie, for most of my life I was a huge people pleaser, especially when it came to my family. I always wanted the good grades, the impressive extracurriculars, the top of everything, so that I could come home and give my mother every reason to be proud of me. I was accepted to all 6 universities across the country that I applied for, all with impressive scholarships for their Forensic Science programs. I was set.

Well, it didn’t take long before I realized that pleasing others was not good enough. I had to please myself. I was doing well, grades were great, mom was very proud of her future doctor. But the thing is I would come back from class every day and sit at my piano. I would write music all night and join every open mic night that I could. Nothing made me happier than performing. And it was time I face that facts.

So after a semester, I decided to switch to Music Industry. I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life. I knew I had chosen correctly. My mother? Not so happy. Actually furious. She wanted me to pull out of my university and go to a state university or community college. I can’t blame her, it was a very scary thing for her to see her kid with such a steady future laid out in front of her, switch to one riddled with debts that she wasn’t sure I would be able to afford on a musician’s salary (if I was lucky enough to have one). But with enough dedication to my field, I showed her I could make my dreams come true. Thus, the arrow: Aim, steady yourself, be sure of the path you want no matter how far back other’s are pulling you, and shoot forward.

Tattoo #4

What: Quote from John Green’s Looking for Alaska: “The only way out is through.”

Where: Inner Bicep, left arm

Visibility level: Easy to hide, easy to show.

Judgment level: Nada, just loads of curiosity on its meaning.

This one I never saw coming, but thought about it before getting it.

Ever since I read this book, I’ve been O B S E S S E D with it. There’s so many brilliant passages on the meaning of life, and how it is we might be able to escape this incredibly intricate “labyrinth of suffering”. Ultimately, the solution the characters in the book come to is that the only way out is by forgiveness, which I absolutely agree with. So why did I choose “the only way out is through”?

When I was diagnosed with lupus, I didn’t have a reaction. I just kind of sat there. They asked me if I had questions, if I wanted to read brochures about my illness, if I wanted to join a support group, etc. All I knew about the disease is that family members on my father’s side had died from it, that it was painful, and that everyone seemed to cry whenever I told them I had it. But me? I was just numb. All I said was “okay, what’s next?”. I didn’t want to know what could happen, only what was happening to me. And to this day, I continue with this mentality.

So when I reread this book, thats the line that stuck out to me: “The only way out is through.” My diagnosis was seriously just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of obstacles I have faced in my life from a very young age. As far as I see it, this is just one more thing I have to go through.

Tattoo #5

What: Coordinates

Where: My foot

Visibility level: Zero

Judgment level: None, actually, my mom’s favorite.

FAMMMMMMMMMM. Okay so first and foremost, let me just emphasize that if you’re going to get coordinates, triple check that they are correct (which I did).

These are the coordinates of my grandparent’s house in Uruguay. For those that don’t know, I spent my life moving around a lot. No, like for real, A L O T.  we’re talking somewhere between 17-20 times. Yeah, there’s a range because me and my sister even lost count.

Any who, every time we moved, our home base was the same: this house in Uruguay. We would visit every last February, and even moved in for a few years. This house means everything to us because it holds all of our memories. It’s the only place that has been a constant, and continues to be now that my mother has moved back there. It was only fitting that I put it on my foot. These are my roots. Cantaltero keeps me grounded.

Tattoo #6

What: Roman numeral 22 (XXII)

Where: Side of wrist? I don’t know how else to explain it tbh

Visibility level: Very.

Judgment level: I mean, I get curious comments. But now that I’m 22, they consist of “Oh so are you going to change it every year?” *insert eye roll*

No, I didn’t get this for my age. But speaking of roots that keep me grounded, LET ME TELL YOU ‘BOUT MY BEST FRIEND!

Okay time to get mushy. My sister is my best friend in the whole wide world. But really, this girl is my everything- my soulmate, my best friend, my partner in crime, my child, my parent, my family, my storm rider. There’s nothing that we haven’t faced together, and every single time I could not imagine going through it without her. Our relationship is a bit unique in that I don’t see her as a “younger sister” anymore. Our age gap is small enough to where she’s my equal. There’s so much I learn from her every single day, and so much I love to teach her. She keeps me humble, keeps me strong, keeps me going.

I could go on for ages. But yes, we wanted to get matching tattoos. We knew we wanted something with a 22 given that we were both born on the 22nd (different months and years, but what are the odds?). This number has been so significant throughout our lives. Ultimately, she came up with the design and I loved it. The duality of it was so perfect given our own relationship. And so it stuck.

Tattoo #7

What: My bridges.

Where: Left Forearm

Visibility level: V-high, but can also be hidden

Judgment level: My most complemented piece.

This piece is actually one I am still building on. The idea first came about thanks to my good pal Lauren (WHATS GOOD HOMEGIRL!). We were chatting one day about how I wanted to get a travel tattoo without it being too cliché. We somehow got on the topic of how in each country I go to, I always seem to get this strange feeling of “belonging” or I guess realizing where I am whenever I cross an iconic bridge. So she came up with the idea of getting bridges for every country I go to.

I went to Melbourne for the first time with this idea. I had literally been in Melbourne for a week before making the declaration that I was definitely going to move there someday and deciding to get the pedestrian bridge as the third bridge of the piece (alongside tower bridge in London, and the Mt. Hope Bridge from my hometown in RI). Well, it’s a good thing I have impeccable follow-through.

Most recently, I added the Samuel Beckett Bridge to the piece. Dublin has officially left its mark on me.

Tattoo #8 

What: “Caminando por la vida.” with a blue moon.

Where: Inner Left Ankle.

Visibility level: not too bad.

Judgement level: None, and with good reason.

This was another one that I knew for ages I would eventually get, but prayed that day would be far, far away.

My grandfather was the most important person in the whole world to me. He was my everything. To even try and explain our connection would never do it justice- it was something that had to be seen to be understood.

When it came to music, he was my number one fan. Right from when I was a little girl, he would prop me up on the coffee table in the living room and sing “Blue Moon” to me, which eventually turned into us singing it together, and finally, him asking me to sing it for him. He was always asking me to sing for him, or play him a new song on the piano. He never once complained about my having to start over because I messed up, or it being the billionth time I was playing a piece. Music was our connection. He shared different tangos with me, or classical pieces. Every morning we would wake up and sit together near his radio and just listen, with him tapping the rhythm on the arm of his chair.

But another way we connected was through him sharing his art with me. Among many things, he was a writer. And me? Well, I was his editor. I would read his pieces and correct his grammar, and type it up for him on the computer after he had spent days hand-writing everything. I learned to love the indecipherable scribbles, and see his calligraphy as an art-form. My favorite piece was one that he wrote about him and me. He wrote about a conversation him and I had while walking on the beach when I was younger, and all of my concerns about growing old. The last sentence of the story was him telling me that at the end of the day, we are all just walking through life, or “Caminando por la vida.”

I told him not too long ago about my plan for this tattoo. Although he didn’t love tattoos, he felt so honored that I would choose to have him forever on my body. When he passed last August, I was destroyed. His dream was to see me cross the stage at my University graduation. So the week before graduation, I got the tattoo right above where my shoe would be, so that when I did cross that stage he was right there with me.

Tattoo #9 

What: “Be Kind”

Where: Hand

Visibility level: SHE’S OUT THERE.

Judgement level: High key- mostly due to visibility.

Another spontaneous decision, but another thought out idea.

I knew for a long time that I wanted to get a tattoo for my mother. If you ask me about my childhood and about a major lesson I learned, I will tell you two words: “Be kind”. This was repeated to me incessantly by my mom.

I was not an easy child to raise. There was a lot of trauma in my early years (and later years, for that matter), that led to many behavioral issues at home. Not just that, but dealing with bullying , the hormones of adolescence, heart aches, disappointments, and just overall some mean people, and my mother’s response to every last one of those problems? “Be kind.”

I rolled my eyes at the time (and occasionally still do now), but I see now what a powerful lesson she was teaching me. While I was thinking that she was not listening to my complaints about the mean girls or the douche boyfriends that cheated on me, it turned out she was. She was teaching me to show up to every situation- good, bad, ugly, as the kindest person I could possibly be. And she was right. You will always regret being vengeful, or cruel, or mean-spirited. As good of an idea as it sounds in the moment, you will regret sub tweeting that girl, or egging that guy’s car. Because like I mentioned before: everything is temporary. There will come a day when you look back and that situation is meaningless to you. And then again, maybe there won’t. But regardless, you will never regret being kind, even to the most undeserving person. Because there will come a day when that person remembers how kind you were, and how cruel they were, and they will see what that says about who they were and who you are.

 

If you made it this far: THANK YOU! I guess what I am trying to say is that for me, tattoos are my way of telling my story. They are my way of putting my battle scars on my skin, because I’m proud of each and every one of them. They’ve made me who I am today.

But on that same note, they might not mean a single thing on someone else besides just being art! And that’s cool too! Because just as I’m sure that you learned from this post to not judge my tattoos for being visible and seeming meaningless, rebellious, young person shananigans, (clearly they’re much more than that), you shouldn’t judge anyone’s tattoos. The truth is, you don’t know why they got them, and who cares! The point is, that’s what they chose to do with their body, just like you chose to keep your canvas blank. To each their own.

I hope this inspired you to go get a head to toe piece and then tell your mom that I told you to do it (just kidding please don’t say that), or maybe just start a conversation about the next cool piece of art you see someone wearing.

Stay kind x

A Letter to a Solo Traveler

Dear Solo Traveler,

Life? It can and should be messy. Nothing about it should go “your way” or “according to plan”- or at least never how you originally planned it. And traveling? Well that shit should just amplify everything.

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Not everyone understands your vision. Or if you’re me, no one does. Unless they’re living it, but even then, everyone’s autobiography is being written a little differently. So if you want something, if you have a dream about the kind of life you want to reminisce on someday, then do everything it takes to achieve that life. You will get yelled at. You will be told that you’re crazy, or “lost”, or need to “live in the real world”. But this is the real world. Perhaps even more so than the one that your critic is living in. Others can’t see what you’re seeing. Don’t get angry with others who don’t understand. 

If you’ve been left to fend for yourself by those whose dreams you’ve supported in the past, anger isn’t the answer here either. They, too, are misunderstanding your vision- your vision of who you are. They are taking you for granted, when you are so clearly not one to disregard. They will understand when they see the levels you rose to when they had their back turned, and in the blink of an eye, you learned how to shine. Let that speak for itself, but don’t seek their validation. Do not look for revenge. Stay kind.

That’s the other thing: stay kind, my love. I always say this, but its moments like these, when you’ve been discouraged by the very people you most needed to encourage you, that become an opportunity to prove it. Prove to yourself that even in the face of adversity, you rise above. You lift yourself up. You show love, compassion. You are kind.

You are tired, but you are not exhausted. This is an uphill battle, but you are a warrior.

Keep going.

Stay kind x

My 30 Day Social Media Detox

New Year means new beginnings, and another year of resolutions that (if you’re anything like me), you will mostly forget for the year and complete them as a happy accident (I’m looking at you 2018 resolutions).

This year, I did many of my standard resolutions like how many countries I want to see, the language course I want to complete (and have been saying I’d complete for 5 years),  SKYDIVING (another one I’ve been saying I’d complete forever), and overall just being happy and learning to be more accepting of myself, my circumstances, and anything that comes my way.

But here’s where I decided to switch it up: I decided that in addition to a resolution, I wanted to challenge myself in this new year. I’m sure I’m not the only human being that has woken up on New Year’s day cringing over the snapchat/insta story of you screaming the lyrics to Piano Man on a stage at a pub. No? Just me?  In any case, this caused me to begin to reflect on how much I use social media.

Given that I am trying to be more mindful this year as well, I asked myself why it is that this was such a large part of my day. My routine was wake up, check the likes on my last post, check who viewed my story, watch other people’s stories. Public Transport? Oh well, time to scroll through twitter. Sight seeing? Have to snapchat that. Feeling awkward? Let’s see who else got engaged over the holidays on Facebook.

I came to the conclusion that what I’m trying to do through my social media usage is involuntarily compare myself to others, and then consistently post and check who saw it for validation. When you’re that brutally honest with yourself, you know it’s time for a change. What better time to do that than the first month of 2019, while I’m living and exploring a beautiful city that deserves my full attention.

I’ve highlighted a few key moments for you guys below of how this experience felt for me.

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Day 1: The morning was great considering I felt like I had so much time in the morning to get shit done now that I wasn’t spending an hour on my phone. I used that time to actually put on some make-up (I KNOW. SHOCK HORROR.), and was immediately hit with the reality that I couldn’t snapchat my make-up guru sister for her approval. Here we go.

Day 2:  I was hit with the urge to check who had replied to my story announcing my disappearance from all forms of social media. (VALIDATION HOW ARE YOU!) Thank goodness I FaceTimed my sister so she could talk me down from it.

Day 3: Realized that I need to promote my blog somehow. Shout out if you got here through the ever so loyal Sasha, or Katie, or anyone else who helped me out during my detox!

Day 8: Y’all, I think this was rockbottom. I was in desperate need of a rant. Everyone has heard me talk about the struggles of time differences, but the larger struggle here was the person I wanted to rant about lives right next door to me. All I wanted was to hop on social media and tweet about it, or put it on my finsta. Instead, I resorted to faking a phone call on the street and just talking as if my good friend was actually on the line. I KNOW. I’M LOSING IT. 

Day 13: Met a cute boy. He asked to add me on Snapchat. I didn’t want to sound too complicated right from the get go, so I told him I don’t really use it. Then he asked for my FaceBook or Instagram. Cover blown. Had to explain the whole situation. He labelled me as a “New Year’s Resolution Hippy”. We’re doing great.

Day 20: Had the world’s most perfect day exploring the city, and- HERE COMES THE SHOCKER- I had no desire to put it on any social media! Not once! My phone even died and I whipped out my book and read at a cafe with no care in the world. This could be a turning point.

Day 22: My sister’s birthday. It was so so so hard not to hop on and make a quick birthday post, but for now, a well written text, a phone call, and a Venmo will have to suffice.

Day 30: Y’ALL MY FREAKING PHONE KICKED THE BUCKET OUT OF NOWHERE. DOES THIS MEAN I’M NOT MEANT TO GO BACK TO SOCIAL MEDIA??

Overall, I think this experiment taught me so much about myself. I would compare it to teaching a baby how to self-soothe (yes. I did just compare myself to an infant.). I would also say that an incredible thing to come from this was how much more I was able to connect with my loved ones. It was so wonderful to have to FaceTime, or text, or catch up in person to know what’s going on. Our conversations were filled with stories that were new to all of us, because we couldn’t say we had seen it on social media.

At the same time, I don’t think that social media has to be the devil. I realized that I also use social media as an outlet and a way for me to voice my accomplishments, frustrations, successes, and failures. Sometimes, when you live a life like mine with lots of alone time, it’s nice to be able to voice everything you’re feeling in hopes that literally anyone might listen. Just as long as you don’t place value on whether or not someone does.

Did I miss it as much as I thought I would? Not really. Am I happy to be back? Well, I’m neutral. I definitely think my usage will be cut drastically, but I don’t think I’m ready to go offline for good.

The lesson: You are more thank your likes and DM’s, and the only person you have to prove that to is yourself.

Stay kind x

 

 

Top 15 Craziest Shit I’ve Done While Traveling

It’s time to get REALLLLL. (I’m sorry, Mom.)

The second you jet off to go live a life abroad, everyone thinks you’re living a boujee, glamorous, insta-worthy life of no struggle and all adventure. And I’ll be honest- I sure make it seem that way on my social media. Since the beginning of my adventures, I’ve had so many people reach out to me asking me how I do it because they want to pursue this life themselves. I started thinking about it and just thought it would be completely unfair of me to not be real with them and warn them exactly what they’re signing up for.

Before you read this list, let me warn you: this is not “cute” crazy. Like, this isn’t “oh my gosh I went skydiving in New Zealand with a complete stranger strapped to me” crazy. This is messy, reallllll, crazy shit that I have done to either keep traveling, survive while traveling, or just because traveling got the best of me. Okay great, let’s go!

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  1. Just embraced the fact that I have had TWO airplanes fall out of the sky because I traveled on the sketchiest airlines just because they were the cheapest. Y’all. I’m not kidding. This wasn’t a bit of turbulence. This was my ass waking up from a deep(ish) sleep, to it not being on the seat anymore and me seeing the numbers on the “altitude” part of the screen in front of me just dropping. Is my life really worth saving money by purchasing an $89 flight? Yeah, probs.
  2. Went the Eastern route instead of the Western route while flying to Australia from New York. Yeah, a 16 hour flight, 2 hour layover in China, and right back on to a 10 hour flight. But again, saving that cash monaaaay honaaay.
  3. Survived on a diet of oatmeal, chocolate, and $5 wine for 5 weeks. I literally spent every cent I had on the visa, the internship program, and my last minute flights (thank you British Consulate of New York), so London was a toughie but we did THAT.
  4. Considered taking an airbnb that was literally tents in someone’s shed. I wish I was kidding. Thank GOD I had a loyal ass friend who forbid me from doing it, but those airbnb prices for Hogmanay in Scotland were that scary.
  5. Speaking of Scotland, brought my own bagels, peanut butter, and jelly to eat for every meal. Made a few exceptions because I definitely wanted to try a boozy milkshake and some haggis, but again. She. Did. THAT.
  6. Took a job as a door-to-door salesperson selling solar panels. What’s good Australia? Plus side: found out I’m good with sales and made good money. Also got all my steps in (and then some) for a while. Down side: v-dangerous and ended up dealing with the police because of it. Let’s not do that again.
  7. Ate Oreos for breakfast every day for a week. Honestly, this one wasn’t even that bad. And I was in Bali so who can really even complain.
  8. Walked 1.5 hours in the heat because I didn’t have cell service to call a ride. Bali did me dirty here. The only way to get around really is by GoJek which is an app on your phone that has drivers pick you up on their scooter (think uber but for scooters instead of cars) (not sponsored. I wish). I was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere, and no idea how to get home, other than knowing it was a 30 minute SCOOTER ride there. Luckily, I made it on to the main road JUST before dark and got some cell service to call a ride. Which leads me to…
  9. Accepted a ride from a complete stranger with three other people on a scooter. This guy seriously had a whole ass family on there. But desperate times…
  10. Bought shots for group of strangers I had just met, and then had to survive on $0.65 for two weeks. Okay, but doesn’t everyone do this at some point?
  11. Asked boys on tinder to listen to my work presentation so I could practice it. When you travel solo and time differences are not in your favor, you’ve got to use your resources.
  12. Speaking of boys, went on a first-date binge for 2 weeks so that I could at least have one free meal a day. Not terribly proud of this one, but hey, I’m being honest.
  13. Lived out of the storage room at the cafe I work at. This was as I was low key moving out of the house I was in without anyone noticing because I hadn’t told them yet, and when my hostel was available. Shoutout to my boss for being the MVP.
  14. Went grocery shopping at ALDI for a week’s worth of groceries with 2 euro. AND SUCCEEDED. I’m putting this one on my CV as a special skill.
  15.  I continue to travel. I had a moment today where I realized how damn proud I am of all that I’ve done, how much I’ve hustled and struggled and all I’ve given up to keep going, and yet succeeded in chasing my dreams, and just how determined I am to not give up. Don’t get me wrong- there have been several crossroads where I had to decide if it was too much or if I should keep going. And this is the craziest of them all because no matter how hard it gets, I refuse to quit.

So yeah, this life is definitely amazing, inspirational, incredible, shake your heart, soul, and core fantastic. I have gained so much and have had so many wins on this journey. But its definitely not for the weak of heart. At the end of the day, just like everything in life, it all comes down to how much do you want it, and how willing are you to prove it?

Stay kind x

Eat, Pray….. Love?

DISCLAIMER: I’d like to mention that these are all my own thoughts based on my experiences and what I’ve made of my situation, and I am simply trying to express those thoughts. In no way do I intend to sway anyone or discredit anyone else’s experiences. LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE BB.

“No, mom. I am going on this trip for me, for my own personal growth. I am going to be an independent person. I don’t care if they have an accent. I’m not looking for a relationship while I’m abroad.” FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS.

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Every time I jet off, I set out with the mind set of preparing for so much growth and introspection, and basically some Eat, Pray, Love shit with a lot more of the eating and praying, and not caring for the love nonsense.

What I quickly came to learn, however, is that when you forgo just having the occasional holiday and exchange it for moving country to country, your personal growth journey becomes less selfish and more about making connections with as many human beings on this planet as you can; or at least mine did. This desire to connect is what brought me to my job, brought me many rich conversations, and brought me to my truth. It just gets tricky when a connection turns out to be much deeper than you originally intended.

I think travel has changed the way I think about love. It’s taught me that just because something is temporary, it doesn’t make it any less meaningful. Its never pointless to at least try something, because I think its better to live with an “I tried” instead of a “what if…”. I used to think that every romantic relationship I had should be aimed at the long term, but I’ve found that whether that love is scattered over years, or compacted into a few months, its just as impactful. If anything, you learn to cherish every moment because you just never know how long you have, and thats something to take into every relationship, not just abroad.

The perspective I have taken on can be summed up like this: I never lose sight that these adventures are for my own journey to self discovery. I put myself in these situations to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. But I also believe that people always come into your life at specific times for specific reasons, and there is no reason why you should turn your back on that, no matter what circumstances are against you. The universe is presenting you with an opportunity, and if you are committed to this journey, it is your job to explore what that meaningful connection might bring. Yes, this journey is my own, and maybe I can only ever see this person for one date because I’ll be leaving shortly, but they might be here to contribute a piece to this very complicated puzzle.

At the end of the day, I think if you choose to live this life, you should never overthink any decision you make because it just ruins the experience of enjoying something wonderful. Embrace that “I tried” mentality. And above all else, remember: don’t love to receive love. Love because you have enough love to give. 

Stay Kind x

Staying Healthy in 2019

WARNING: This post talks about food and exercise, as well as possible mental health issues that may arise from either of these subjects. If you find any of these topics triggering, please do not continue reading. 

Yup, I’m going to be that girl for a hot minute.

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I’m sure by now you’ve grown sick and tired of all of the “new year, new me” posts, considering that by the time you’re reading this it’ll be just about the second week of January. But give me a chance, this might take a turn you weren’t expecting.

As some of you know, a few years back I decided to take on quite a bit of a risky challenge and go off of my autoimmune medication and treat myself through holistic practices (if you’d like to hear more about that journey, get in touch and let me know and I might make a post about it).

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or nutritionist, and am not providing any advice for you or your current situation, nor am I recommending that you take yourself off any medication without the guidance and approval of a health professional. I am simply sharing my own experience.

Three years after my diagnosis and I feel fantastic, I am not on any medication, and have learned the power of using food and exercise (and a couple of supplements) as medicine. Because of that, I should tell you that the following tips are about health and not aesthetics. 

Without further ado, lets get into my healthy staples for this new year:

Physical health: 

  • Drink yo’ water fam. I’m sure everyone has heard this a billion times, but its still relevant. Water is E V E R Y T H I N G. Wake up, drank (water). Pour up, drank (water). Sit down, drank (water). Stand up, drank (water). Okay but for real, from the second you wake up, throw back a glass of water before even thinking about coffee (yeah, that shook me too). Your body is dehydrated when you wake up, and coffee just dehydrates you even more. For my autoimmune people, drinking water can help with dry eyes/mouth/skin (what’s good Psoriasis and Sjogren’s!), kidney function (Systemic Lupus how you doin’), bloating from poor digestion, and so much more.
  • SLEEP. I don’t know why anyone prioritizes anything over sleep (unless you’re in college because I did some damage over my 4 years too.) Sleep is the time where your body heals, your cortisol drops, your mind processes your day and absorbs what you’ve learned. If you’re committed to better overall health in 2019, commit to your sleep schedule the way you committed to your favorite Netflix series last year. Get. Those. 7-9 hours. PLEASE.
  • Maca Powder is a godsend. If you’ve ever struggled with hormonal imbalances, welcome to your new best friend. Maca is an adaptogenic root, meaning that it adapts to your body’s needs. For this particular root, it helps with balancing of hormones (cinnamon can help as well!). A teaspoon of this a day will change your life. Poor skin? Bye. Irregular period? Bye. Fatigue and stress? Peace out.
  • Omega 3’s. GUUUUUUUURL/BOIIIIIIIII. If you suffer with any pain in your joints, you need this in your life. Omega 3’s are a kind of fatty acid that is found most easily in fish. Its a fantastic anti-inflammatory and can do wonders for your joint and heart health. A lot of people will opt to take it in a capsule form, but if you can find a way to get in the natural way (think: Tuna and avocado toast, salmon, cod, haddock, sardines), I would recommend that. Try swapping out some of your meaty meals with fish to balance out the Omega 6’s (fatty acid found in meats). Fish are friends and food. 
  • CBD Oil: Hear. Me. Out. I hope and pray that by now, you’ve all heard about this supplement and that you know that it has no psychedelic affect whatsoever. In case you haven’t, I’ll link more information on the differences between marijuana and CBD here. I have found this to be an incredible supplement for my joint pain, my anxiety, my skin, my digestion, my insomnia, basically everything. If you’d like me to make a more detailed post about my experience with CBD oil, let me know!
  • Fruits and veg: Eat them. All of them. Eat the whole damn rainbow. Stick to whole, real, foods. That’s that on that.
  • Move. Find a way to move every day. Go for a walk, go explore a city you’ve never seen and cycle/walk through it, got for a swim at the beach (or a heated pool if you’re freezing in the northern hemisphere like me), go to the gym, run, weight lift, do zumba, yoga, pole dancing, any dancing, boxing, whatever your little heart desires, can stick to, and can afford. Just move. It’ll get your endorphins up, improve your heart health, your sleep, and bonus! Your circulation (I’m looking at you Raynaud’s!).
  • Listen to your body. I first heard this mantra through my favorite Youtuber, Sarah’s Day . Let me tell you, this changed my life. Everyone should definitely abide by this rule, but especially those with autoimmune diseases. Listen to what foods make you feel good, and which ones cause a flare up. Watch how you feel after a workout- you should feel energized, and if not, maybe you went a little too hard. If you’re too fatigued that day, take a rest. You have to remember, there will be days when you wake up feeling like you never went to sleep, and the reason is that your body was up all night fighting itself. Go easy on yourself.

Mental health:

  • Journal. MAJOR. KEY. Shoutout to my sister for getting me on this life. Journaling will seriously help you work through those thoughts that are just bouncing around in your head all day. It’s a place where you can say and be whatever you want. Feel like doodling that day? Go ahead. Feeling poetic? Live that moment. Feel like saying something to someone that you know you can’t say to them? Write them a letter in you journal. Put it all there. Believe me, it’s amazing to look back and see the personal growth you’ve had over the years.
  • Manage your stress. I think every college student and working professional just clicked away. I am aware that life is stressful. But attempt some strategies to minimize that stress. For example, CBD oil (yeah, I’m on that again), ashwaganda (another adaptogenic), having a distinction between “work” time and “home” time, turning off your phone after a certain time, a social media detox, meditation, yoga, go sit at the beach/in nature in general, create (music, art, writing, etc).
  • READ. Reading is cool, okay? It’s making a comeback. And I don’t mean on your kindle. Read a book, like with pages and a spine and a cover. Find whatever it is that will hold your attention away from a screen for a substantial amount of time like romance, thrillers, books on health, nutrition, philosophy, religion, travel, whatever! But please. Sit down on your commute on public transport, at a cafe, at a beach, on your couch, in your bed, and just lose yourself for a bit. I can also make a post on my most recommended reads if that’s what you’re vibing (can you tell I want you to interact with me?).
  • Treat yourself. In whatever way that means to you. Bubble baths, time alone, time with friends and family, travel, a glass of wine at the end of the night, going to your favorite bakery, or my personal favorite: chocolate. It is okay every once in a while, and you will thank yourself when you maintain your sanity.
  • Find balance. Yes, you should eat kale and exercise, and you should also eat cake at birthday parties, and drink champagne on new years and tequila when you’re heart broken (or looking to make some mistakes), and have a box of chocolate just because and some Ben and Jerry’s when you watch Love Actually. But for my autoimmune people in particular, please remember: food is not everything, but it is your medicine. Over the holidays,  I quickly relearned the repercussions of my actions. My lupus symptoms began to come back and my anxiety was at an all time high. I eased myself into eating my normal, whole foods, and enjoying a few treats here and there. I also realized that the gym eases my anxiety, so I went back to working out because I enjoy it and it makes me feel strong, not out of guilt for what I ate the day before.

Final Reminders: 

Your loved ones love you, not your “Earth suit”. Because at the end of the day, that’s all this body is. An Earth suit. But the connections you make with people (that actually stick) have nothing to do with what you look like, and everything to do with the conversations you have, the memories you make, and the love you give.

Find out what it is that others love about you. It’s okay to ask. Ask your friends, ask your S.O., ask your family. Shit, I even asked ex-boyfriends. When I began subtly asking around, I got responses like my confidence,  my passion for everything I do, how I inspire them, my love for them and everyone in my life, and so many more wonderful comments.  Trending theme? Not a single one had a thing to do with my physical appearance.

Be gentle to others. Don’t make any comments on anyone’s body, because you don’t know if they’re battling with it. Instead, remind everyone around you about why it is they’re so valuable to you. Tell them the little things that you love about who they are

At the end of the day, even if you’re happy and healthy, there will still be months where you buy smaller jeans, and months where you’ll buy larger ones. This is okay.  Just like all things in life, its about commitment and getting back up when you stumble (or crash and burn like I have in the past). But above all else, I hope you learn to accept and love this amazing, incredible Earth suit that allows you to breathe, think, experience, create, travel, and connect, and everything else that lives inside of it.

If you or anyone you know are struggling, there is always help. Please feel free to check out the resources below:

Compiled list of helpful links

Let’s kick off a healthy 2019, mentally and physically.

Stay kind x

 

NYE in Dublin as a Solo Traveller

Hello there 2019!

This New Years Eve is definitely one for the books. I have never been the confident type who would be able to go out by herself to a bar- let alone on NYE. But when my friend called me and invited me out to another club, I had to put my foot down.

All of 2018 was a year of doing what I want and being a smidgen selfish. It was about figuring out who I was when no one was looking, and making decisions that would only affect me and my own happiness. It was only fitting to end it by doing that one last time. So I took to the streets of this strange little city I’ve been in for less than a month and went with my gut.

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I found myself in the oldest pub in Ireland. I knew right away I had found my place when there was no queue at 10 PM to get in, no front door charge, and I could hear the traditional Irish band from outside. I walked in, ordered my tequila, and started to look around. There were so many people from every single age group crowded around and enjoying the last few moments of the year with this band. So, classic me, I decided to find my way to the very front of the room, next to the stage where there was a lovely couple sitting in a corner. This being Dublin (a.k.a “the city of a thousand welcomes”), they were more than happy to let me sit with them.

We sat, chatted about travel and life, and listened to this amazing band. Ten minutes before midnight, I hurried my way to the bar and ordered Prosecco for the table. At this point, the bartenders and I had struck up a conversation (of course), and I had to rush back to my table just before the countdown began. We sat, counted down, and cheered to ring in the new year.

As I was standing on the stage next to a mic, screaming the lyrics to “Hey Jude” with the other Americans that were called to the stage, I realized something. I always say that human connection is my key to happiness. If I am connecting with others, I’m pursuing my truth. Enjoying that connection with people you know is incredible, but to take it one step further, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and make a connection with complete strangers. Beginning 2019 that way gave me a small taste of what this year might bring if I’m willing to trust my gut and do what I do best: get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

2019, ready for a ride?

Stay kind and Happy New Year x

 

 

A love letter to 2018

I have never been so sad to say goodbye to a year. Usually around this time, I’m ecstatic to move on to a new chapter and close the book on the last 12 months of my life. But 2018, you hold a special place in my heart.

I wanted to compile a list of lessons I’ve learned and that I want to bring with me into this new year to serve as a reminder to myself and anyone else who might need it. Here we go!

 

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Let go of past hurt and forgive. It’s not easy, but it will bring you more love than you ever thought you deserved. Remember you also have moments your are not proud of. Show compassion. Be humble.

Keep the faith. Faith in yourself, faith in your truth, faith that there will be brighter days.

You are so strong, but even strong people have weak moments. So don’t be stubborn and call on that support system. They’ve got you.

You lose nothing in putting it all out there. You lose an opportunity if you don’t. Career opportunities, feelings for someone else, bold moves (sometimes to a different country). Go all in and put it all out there. You will never regret it.

Success comes in waves. So does struggle. Be grateful for it all. Not every day will be your best, and not every day will be your worst. Continue to ride it out and take it all as it comes.

Travel. It’s good for the soul. Australia taught me family doesn’t have to be blood and if there’s family, there is home. Indonesia taught me to reflect and heal.  Now Ireland. Keep them coming.

Try to make a connection with anyone who crosses your path. Have some big talk. You never know what they could end up meaning to you.

You can manifest many things in your life, but it doesn’t always mean its right for you. Trust that the universe will show you a better way.

Know when to call it quits. Friendships, relationships, jobs, experiences. This does not mean you failed. Know when something is no longer serving you. Move on.

Time alone is time to grow. Self-reflect. Introspect. Grow.

Every encounter is precious. You may not have seen someone in weeks, months, or maybe years. Do not pass up an opportunity to reconnect. When you do, always share with them what that encounter has meant to you.

“I love you.” These are not dirty words. Give your loved ones everything you have- including the knowledge that you love them. Every family member, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, even someone you’ve known for a day. If you feel it, say it. Out loud. Scream it from the rooftops. Remind them, over and over and over again so that there is never a doubt.

You are valuable and have so much to give. That’s that on that.

Stay kind. 

My arms are wide open for you 2019.

Happy New Year x

 

 

Spilling the Tea: Rejection.

Man. I don’t know about you, but the word alone brings up so much heartache for me.

Here’s the thing: I always joke about how I am such a passionate human being. The problem is that my Gemini self has multiple loves on a wide spectrum of things. My mother put it perfectly when she said that I am “unfaithful” to my passions.

I pride myself in loving fearlessly and putting my heart and soul into every connection, friendship, relationship, career choice, life endeavor, etc. Whatever it is, if I’ve fallen in love with the idea of it, I will jump and not think twice to put my heart and soul on the line. This has brought so much love and success into my life that I am eternally grateful for, and I contribute this courage and blind faith to my being able to live the life that I do now.

The problem with loving like this is that you expose yourself to a lot of heartbreak. There will be those who take advantage of you, those who will use you, and worst of all: those who reject you. I say rejection is the worst outcome because when you’re handing someone everything you have, rejection is like someone saying “that’s not enough”, which, to the person hearing it, translates to: “you’re not enough.”

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I very recently experienced this kind of rejection. My immediate instinct was to begin to tear down an empire that I had worked so hard this past year to build from the ground up: my self confidence. I began falling down a familiar spiral of “this is all my fault”, and with each self deprecating thought it was as if I was pulling brick after brick out of the strong walls and foundation I had taken the time to carefully place over the past 12 months.

As I sat on my bed, eight Domino’s cookies into my pity party, a person very near and dear to me reminded me of my own words: “Everything happens for a reason”. I’ll admit, this was the last thing I wanted to hear while I was crying about being a failure, but it allowed me to start thinking about perspective and how I could change my thoughts about this situation.

I began thinking about how grateful I am for all the things I have in my life. I have my health, a roof over my head, and living a life that most people dream of (minus a few bits here and there but you get the idea). I have an incredible support system of friends and family that sprung to action the minute they knew something was wrong. I am surrounded by loving people every day who believe in me, even if they don’t know me, or even when I don’t believe in myself. 

This was the most important and powerful realization I came to. When I had this thought, it was then that it hit me: I have an incredible message and a story to tell. My message is so loud and clear that it resonates with human beings I’ve met for 5 minutes, and moves those that have known me for years. My truth is to inspire others to discover and follow their truth. Rejection is not a strong enough force to stop me. It just means I have to find another way to keep following that truth.

So what did this experience teach me? It reminded me of my value, and that I need to stop giving discounts.

If any of this resonates with you, I want you to remember one thing: you are so valuable. If someone doesn’t see that, don’t you dare settle. Don’t even waste your time trying to prove something to them. Walk away, head held high, and keep your eyes locked on that horizon because you are worthy of something better.

I’ll leave you with one last thought:

“The comeback is always bigger than the setback.” – My inspiration.

(check her out!)

Stay kind x

My Guide for Moving to Dublin

IMG_4667LADIES AND GENTS, WE MADE IT.

I was waiting to write this post until I had officially settled in and got my footing in the area. Mainly, I wanted to at least have a place to live  before I wrote this, and I am happy to report that I do!!

So here you have it! These are my tips and tricks to moving to Dublin and surviving at least two weeks because that’s all I’ve done so far.

 

 

Get yourself a visa

If you’re from the U.S. like myself, you’ll need a visa to live and work in Ireland. Personally, I am on a Working Holiday Authorisation. This is the visa I’ve been using everywhere I decide to live.

If you are between the ages of 18-30 and are a student or are within 12 months of receiving your degree, you can qualify for this visa. A WHA will allow you to live in Ireland for 12 months while working to support your travels.  Not a bad deal, right?

Ireland is a bit old school, so the process to obtain this visa can be a bit of a hassle. There are two stages for the application, all of which must be filled out in pen and paper and cannot be done online (Yeah… try getting used to that after coming off of being approved for an Australian working holiday in 15 minutes online.)

The first stage will require a filled out application form available on the Consulate’s website, proof of being enrolled in a university or proof of having graduated within the past 12 months (you need original documents such as original transcripts or your degree), a copy of your passport, proof of supporting funds (about 4000 euro I believe), 2 passport sized photos, a copy of your CV, and a processing fee of about $350 depending on where your Consulate is located.

Once you have shipped off all your documents in a neat little package to your designated consulate, you should receive an email in a few weeks time saying if you’ve been approved. Mine took about 3 weeks, but the website says up to 8 weeks so always leave room for delays.

If you’ve been approved, you’re ready to send off Stage 2. This is when you’ll send in your arrival and departure tickets (it doesn’t have to be to go back home- and considering you can’t book flights that far in advance, I wouldn’t. Personally, I bought a nice holiday to London in August as proof of my leaving.), proof of health insurance that covers you for your duration in Ireland, and your physical passport. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sending everything as far in advance as possible. Your girl received her passport the day before she flew out and I am truly just trying to save you a heart attack. 

Once you’ve done all of that, the Consulate will mail back your passport to you and your WHA! Congrats, you’re ready to go!

Sort out your accommodation before you arrive. 

Some of you may or may not know that Dublin is in the middle of a housing crisis, meaning its wildly difficult to find somewhere to live. But don’t you fret, I’ve got you covered!

Having already moved to a different country in the past, I had a better idea of timelines for finding a place to live in a city where housing is impossible. I gave myself two weeks of non-stop searching. This means that house-hunting has to become your full-time job, which also means you shouldn’t expect to work in this time (that’s why we save!). Book yourself an airbnb close to where you’ll be searching for apartments, or a hostel. I actually recommend the latter- I did it in Australia and met my absolute best friend who later became my roommate that way! I did an airbnb in Dublin and although it was much more comfortable, I did feel a bit isolated and like I would have had an easier time making friends at a hostel.

Once you’ve chosen where you’ll stay for the first two weeks, wait until you arrive (trust me, do not try and lock in an apartment without seeing it first) and begin the hunt. I used rent.ie and daft.ie. To be completely honest, if you’re doing this solo, I highly suggest looking into shared houses/rooms. It will be much more affordable and much easier to find somewhere to stay. Plus, you’re bound to start making friends. If that’s not your cup of tea but you’re on a budget, I would also recommend looking into different cities such as Cork for more affordable pricing. Unfortunately, the farther away you are from Dublin, the easier it will be to find an affordable place to live.

The reason I say his becomes a full-time job is because the only way you’ll be able to get a leg up from the thousands of other people trying to find housing is if you are available when they are not, a.k.a. when they’re at work. If someone emails you for a viewing, you’ll have a much easier time accommodating to their schedule if yours is completely free.

My biggest tip is this: do not settle. If something doesn’t feel right, or if you don’t like the location/people/room, don’t jump into it because you think its the only thing you can get! Just say “thank you very much, I have a few more places to look at but I’ll get back to you as soon as I have made a decision”. Many people will try to rush you by saying other people are looking at it, but that doesn’t matter. What is for you will not pass you. Go with your gut. After all, you’re trying to find a home very far away from yours, so make sure it feels like one.

Start attempting to book a GNIB appointment either before or as soon as you land. 

Man oh man. This was a TOUGHY. Within 90 days of your entry to Ireland, you must register with the Guarda in your area, or you will be asked to leave the country. They will emphasize this at the airport when you go through customs. And if you’re like me and haven’t even begun trying to book an appointment, get ready for the death glare that the immigration officer will give you.

As I mentioned before, Ireland is old school. You can book your GNIB appointment online, but you will have to attend in person. Here’s where it gets tricky: the Guarda in Dublin is always booked up 3 months in advance. Meaning if you are in the situation I was in, the chances of you being able to get an appointment before your 90 days are up rely on the possibility of someone cancelling their appointment and you being on the website refreshing the page (again) the MILLISECOND that they do before it gets snatched up by a fellow procrastinator.

This sounds like a lost cause, right? Well lucky for us, even though the GNIB office is stuck in the dark ages, we have technology on our side. If you google “Google Chrome GNIB extension” you will come across your new best friend. You can thank me later.

Using that extension, I was able to book an appointment in 5 days. I mentioned this at a job interview and jaws literally hit the floor.

When you arrive for your appointment, you must present your passport, WHA,  and $300 EUR. Gotta love those fees.

Make sure you buy a leap card and an Irish SIM on your first day.

There is not a single thing you can do without these (especially if you’re staying outside the city). The Leap card allows you to access all forms of transportation. Now, you can get around by taxi or pay for the bus in cash, but this will be so much more convenient as it also allows you to access the DART (train system), and the trams within the city. It’s the Irish equivalent to a MetroCard, Oyster Card, Myki, Opal, etc. You can find these at any SPAR or anywhere that has a Leap sign in front of it.

As for an Irish SIM, feel free to shop around with deals. The more popular ones would be Vodafone or 3, but I went ahead with Tesco Mobile and was very happy with my deal. A pay as you go plan would be my recommendation.

Find a job.

This is something else that you will come to find is a full-time situation. My best friend for my first few weeks was indeed.com.

This can be very tough so some tips I have for you would be first and foremost to have an Irish friend look over your CV. Every country’s employers vary on what format they prefer. You may find that your CV might need to be revamped before sending it out. I would also look at cover letter templates for your country, as these can vary as well.

If you’ve uprooted your life and moved to a different country with no job prospects previously in place, then you already should have prepared yourself to do literally anything that is available. This could mean waitressing, being a barista, administrative assistant, working at a call-centre, etc. Take whatever you can get, because at the end of the day its just meant to be funding what you’re really here for: travel.

Obtain a PPS number.

A PPS number is the one thing that stands between you and 40% of your check going to taxes, so ideally you would want to get this before you start getting paid. Here’s the catch: you can only register to get a PPS appointment once you are able to present evidence of a job offer and proof of address.

My advice is as soon as you’ve been hired, ask your employer for an official job offer letter and try to book an appointment straight away. If possible, also try and delay your start date by a few weeks to give yourself some time. That is, unless you don’t mind losing out on nearly half your check.

Open a bank account.

You cannot open a bank account without presenting your passport and proof of address. This means you won’t be able to open an account until you have found a place to live. If your bills are in your landlord’s name,  then you can present your PPS number, or if your employer has an account with that bank, then they can write a letter on your behalf (see bank for more details on this).

The most popular banks in Dublin would be either AIB or Bank of Ireland. I couldn’t see much difference between the two, however I read about some people having issues with Bank of Ireland so I went for AIB.

HAVE FUN!

You did it! You are officially settled into your Working Holiday. But remember: it’s a working HOLIDAY. This means make sure you set some time aside to explore this beautiful country as well as its neighboring countries (especially considering how affordable it is to do so!).

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To get to know the city better and also make a few friends along the way, I would recommend being a complete tourist in those first few weeks before you begin working. Do a few free walking tours, visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells, visit the Kilmainham Goal museum, walk along Grafton Street and around Temple Bar, visit the Guinness and Jameson factories, maybe even splurge on a tour to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher! Do all of the “cringy” tourist things and get your selfies. You are here on holiday, after all.

I hope this helped you guys! As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all. I’m so excited to continue sharing my experience with you all as the year goes on.

Happy Holidays & Safe Travels!

Stay kind x