Relocation Series Part 2: Happiness is Not a Place

Personal Growth Journey

Welcome to the second post in my multi-blog series about relocating! This post will be one that is centered around the mental health issues that surround relocation to a certain extent. I think that people should be able to read this post and really evaluate their reasons for an upcoming relocation or even their reasons for wanting to relocate. This post might also help you to plan a crucial conversation with a family member or friend who is thinking of moving away.

A Bit of Background:

My relocation count is currently at 3ish with another planned for July 2019. My first taste of relocation was to a college over 250 miles away from home (6 hour drive). That relocation was so important for me and I truly consider that transition a relocation because I was 17 years old and I was only able to make it home a couple times a year (besides summer vacation, of course).

My second relocation happened after college graduation. I moved to a city about an hour away from my hometown. Although it was close by, I was in a whole new world and I had some amazing experiences!

Both of these relocations had one thing in common. In both of these instances, I moved away from issues that I faced in my life including family issues that caused anxiety. My mental health caused me to make decisions from a pretty young age that were based in fear and overwhelm rather than confidence and agency over my life.

EVERY TIME I moved out of fear or anxiety, I sought some sort of happiness that I realized was always going to be out of reach, unattainable. I realized that I went from place to place carrying my baggage with me, setting it down for a while and picking it back up again and again to move onto the next location yet again. Your problems follow you. Your emotions follow you. Your mental health or unhealth follows you. Time after time, I would move and find myself wondering; Why am I still unhappy? Why don’t I like it here?

On the contrary, my third relocation of over 1,400 miles as well as my pending relocation have both been for completely different reasons. I have had agency and ownership over these experiences. My mental health hasn’t really guided the decisions and that is the most freeing feeling.

The Whys of Relocation

The most important thing to be aware of is that relocation is not an answer to the problems we face in our current location. I know, because I’ve tried it and it never works. I want to make that very clear before I talk about my amazing experiences & adventures in the posts that follow. I don’t want to sensationalize relocation or long distance moves.

If you are suffering internally, handle it before or immediately after making a big move. Go to therapy, do some soul searching, reconnect with yourself. I only say this because there is one huge lesson I have learned from my many relocations and travel adventures; Happiness is not a place. Instead it is a state of mind that we merely carry with us in our travels.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Relocation Series Intro

Everything Travel

Welcome back! I wanted to take the opportunity to write about relocation to kickoff my multiple blog series on making a big move. I would say I’m a bit of an expert on this topic considering that I’ve definitely relocated a time or two. As a matter of fact, this is my second time relocating over 1,000 miles.

Both times I decided to relocate, I received varied reactions ranging from shock at my “bravery” and “independence” to disappointment and questioning. However, I think that there is something about moving and starting over that is so freeing and liberating. People decide to relocate for many different reasons and everyone’s story is completely is different.

In this blog series, I want to cover several facets of relocation including the whys, hows, decision-making processes, and logistics. I want to answer people’s questions about my and maybe their own current or future relocations. What questions do you have about relocations and location manifestation?

4 Reasons to Travel Solo

Everything Travel

This is a post that will be near and dear to my heart. I’ve grown so much and attribute much of that to having traveled solo. Traveling alone even once, especially as a young woman is life changing in so many ways. There are reasons beyond this post that I believe that traveling solo is a great idea. If you are a young woman, be open to traveling alone and the opportunities that come with traveling solo.

I have traveled by myself to Belize and Puerto Rico (kinda). I went to Puerto Rico and my roommates met me there but I spent most of the trip exploring San Juan alone because I had the desire to see some different things than my friends wanted to see. Here are 5 reasons why traveling solo can be wildly amazing, scary, but totally worth it.

1.You will develop a greater sense of independence.

Traveling alone requires a person to rely on their own ability to plan and execute the details of a trip. You have to book your flight and feel confident boarding that flight alone. Then, you have to book your hotel or hostel and check-in alone. After that, you get to spend your time however you see fit. However, I don’t think there are many more experiences in life that are more liberating than this. Doing what you want on your time is just a feeling unmatched. It is scary at first, but you may end up thriving on it.

2. You will get to know yourself better.

The time I’ve spent traveling solo have truly taught me so much about myself. There was the time I went on a private plane ride over the Blue Hole in Belize with 2 perfect strangers and LOVED IT. There was a time that I went shopping and enjoyed a solo meal in Old San Juan from sunrise to sunset by myself. I didn’t have the voices of friends in the background rushing me along. I didn’t have the rush of having some place else to be to make sure that everyone got to do what they wanted. I talked and laughed with shop owners and restaurant goers. I took photos of everything I thought looked nice and realized that I love small cobblestone streets and appreciate murals. My very own voice was the loudest in those moments and I could hear it more clearly than I probably ever had.

3. You will realize how strong, smart, and resourceful you are.

Imagine landing in a foreign country where the primary language is not English and you are now trying to figure out how to get from the airport to the city with minimal cell service and no understanding of the local language. Imagine figuring it out on your own. Imagine fearlessly and confidently taking control of the situation and getting sh*t handled. You are strong, smart, and resourceful even if you don’t know it yet.

4. You will want to travel solo again.

See the above reasons.

Oddly enough, you might actually like the feeling of independence, liberation, and freedom that solo travel provides. Solo travel isn’t for the faint of heart BUT it also is not that hard.

Comment below: Would you travel solo? Why or why not?

As always, please feel free to email with questions about solo travel or any travel.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Personal Growth Journey

There are SOOOOO many buzz words that are popular right now to describe the things that we would like to accomplish in the new year. Some people still call these “resolutions” which is a somewhat dated, but widely used.  Some people simply create yearly goals for themselves. However, lately the word “intention” has been highly popular and has stuck with those who take any interest in mindful living or practices.

Whatever you call these goals, coming up with a clear vision for your year and your life is super important. It has been said time and time again that we create our own realities. We manifest the things that happen in our lives. We visualize and speak truth over our lives, as crazy as it sounds. I one hundred and fifty percent believe this to be true whether in a positive or negative fashion. I believe that if I tell myself that I suck at something repeatedly, that will be my reality. If I tell myself that I will be wildly successful, then that will be my reality. Now, this doesn’t mean that suddenly I am going to sing like Whitney Houston or grow 6 inches and be an international supermodel at 26. What it means is that, so much is possible if we actually believe that good things can happen to us and that we are deserving of those good things. Being able to clearly define what you want to accomplish or be more aware of makes you more likely to make it happen in your life.

I wanted to share the intentions I have set for 2019 with you to motivate you to really think long and hard about what your focus is for this new year and for your life in general. Now, I do believe that goal-setting and intention-setting are a bit different. In my opinion, setting intentions is more like defining focus areas for your year rather than explicitly listing items one would like to accomplish in a checklist format. I think that intentions can have a more spiritual overtone and are about living your life on purpose in a different way than goals. However, I also believe that there is a ton of overlap between the two. So anyways, here is my short list of intentions for 2019:

  1. Build my business – I want to eventually work for myself completely so this is a no-brainer
  2. Take care of my body – I want to eat better, listen to my body, exercise sometimes, and rest when I need it
  3. Make more friends – I really want to master the art of making friends as an adult because as of now I could use some help in that department and that is OKAY.
  4. Buy a home – I literally just want to be cozy and have lots and lots of space in addition to creative control over the place.
  5. Slow downnnnnI want to be more present, work less, feel more, enjoy every moment.
  6. Travel often – This goes without saying but like literally I love traveling and I want to take every opportunity that comes.

If you haven’t set your intentions for 2019, think about what your high impact improvement areas are currently. I emphasized mental health this year because last year was mentally challenging for me and I saw through blogging and just talking to friends,  that we really do create our realities and have the power to shift those realities by making changes to our habits. A second high impact area for me was career/finances because I consistently struggle with fulfillment in any job, especially those with longer hours. I really wanted to focus this year on moving past my disdain for working for someone else and into my desire to live a life that is full of so much more than what I do for a living.

What are your intentions for this year? I’d love to hear some of your goals, resolutions, or intentions for 2019!

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Everything Travel

During my time traveling, chatting with followers, or chatting with friends of the blog and shop, I am often asked where I’m currently living. If you know anything about me, you know that I love to explore new cities. I also have always longed to satisfy a certain obsession I have with discovery, travel, and change.

I wanted to create a blog post about my experience living in Austin so far for the past 2 years. Some of you may be thinking about making a move or you may just be curious about my experiences in the places I have lived. Whatever your interest, I wanted to give you a raw, honest, look at my feelings about living in Austin.

I have been very vocal about the fact that I am NOT a huge fan of living in Austin and it is temporary for me. SO here is my rationale for the opinion. I have decided that the best thing to do would be to organize this post by pros and cons of living in Austin. I want to provide things I like and things I dislike about Austin. Lastly, I want to preface this post by saying that everyone is different. I can’t tell you whether you can live in Austin or not. I do not know anything about you as a person. I can only give my experiences and thoughts based on my time here as a African-American female in her 20s. With that said, here are the things I like about Austin:

  1. There is so much to do in Austin – There are so many things to do here, that a 20 or 30 something will almost never be bored. If you are looking for fun, chances are you will find it easily in Austin whether you are a night-owl or a day adventurer. We host music festivals including ACL and SXSW each year. There are also countless happy hours, brunches, and live music events going on ALL THE TIME. Sixth street is a strip known for the variety of clubs, bars, music venues, and food that make Austin come alive on weekend evenings.  There are amazing activities and green spaces available for nature enthusiasts. From fishing to hiking, kayaking, and biking, a nature-lover will truly fall in love with all that Austin has to offer. There are lots of lakes, trails, green spaces, and parks in and around the city. Also,  I can literally wake up on a Saturday and google “things to do this weekend” and come up with an abundance of activity choices for myself.

2. Weather is amazing- I love living in places with warmer weather and so theres isn’t much to say here. I really enjoy the super long summers and short winters. I enjoy the abundance of sunny days and the fact that it is not quite as humid as Houston or other cities closer to coastlines.

3. People are friendly- I would say that of all the cities I have lived in, people are probably some of  the nicest in Austin. It can be super intimidating to move to a new city, not knowing anyone, going places alone, and trying to make friends, especially as a woman. People in Austin have been very kind and very friendly. That can be really hard to find in major cities. Austin is a mix of liberalism and a little bit of southern hospitality.

4. Austin is Beautiful – Simply put, Austin is very aesthetically pleasing. From the abundance of green spaces to the clean streets and hipster neighborhoods, Austin is adorable. I love that there are lots of places where you can simply take in the scenery and enjoy the views. Austin has lakes, rivers, rolling hills, adorable wineries, vintage shops, and all the “cute” stuff that tends to be fun to look at in addition to stunning landscapes.

Austin is clearly an awesome city with lots of potential to be an amazing place to live. Now, here are the things I do not like about living in Austin.

  1. Lack of culture (living in Austin while Black) – Austin is whitewashed, gentrified, hipster-land. Most of the people who live here are transplants from California  and other parts of the country. Austin is honestly just not culturally diverse enough. Yes, there is a large Latino population, not so large black population. The black population is also currently declining in Austin.  Additionally, there are not enough spaces where Black professionals (not college students) can enjoy diversity or familiarity in food options (think soul food, caribbean food, etc), music selections, or even just people that are of color. Austin is just not super inviting culturally for a young African-american working professional. There are spaces, but they are hard to come by and mostly cater to college students which brings me to number 2.Honestly, Im the only black person at my job and in most places I go which can sometimes attract those little things comments because of lack of education about black hair, lack of good black hair stylists, etc. Comment questions for more on this?

2. Austin is too college – With Texas State in San Marcos(about 30 miles away), University of Texas in Austin, and other surrounding colleges in the area, Austin can be very college sometimes. This means that students are everywhere and student culture is strong. It is hard to find a venue especially a bar where students do not go. This also makes some job markets a tad over saturated especially in the realm of what I would consider part time work or side jobs. Being 5 years post-grad, I don’t want to constantly be around college students in my apartment complex, at the bar, at restaurants, etc. I was once that age but I am not anymore and I would rather be around professionals in social settings.

3. Austin has way too much traffic- Because Austin is built around one major highway and is growing exponentially every day, there is a ridiculous amount of traffic on said highway. There is traffic almost every day of the week for most of the day. Traffic starts in the wee hours of the morning and depending on starting location, you can forget about getting to a downtown happy hour in a timely fashion. Parking and traffic are a nightmare. The city’s roads and highways literally cannot accommodate the amount of people moving to Austin. It is a very real problem and there is a lot of construction in progress to remedy the issue. However, that actually temporarily makes the problem worse because there is heavy traffic and ongoing construction on the only major highway in and out of the city. Yeah, what a mess!

4. Austin has a high cost of living and low salaries – Something that makes it really difficult to like Austin is that for my particular industry (education), the pay is very low considering that Austin is an expensive city. However, rental prices are high in Austin and surrounding areas. I don’t know if this is true for the pay of those in other industries. Rental prices are high because everyone is moving to Austin, the tech scene is booming, and the city is gaining popularity. If you are wanting to live in the actual city of Austin, 1000 a month really won’t get you that much as far as rent goes. Under $1000, apartments are tiny and lack modernization. You have the option of living outside the city but then you face traffic issues and longer commute times. Again, I can’t speak on too many other industries but education pay is low and cost of living is higher than in other areas of Texas or even other southern cities.

So there you have it…

This was my comprehensive opinion on living in Austin especially as a black female. Maybe you are looking to move here, already live here, have visited or are looking to visit. Please comment below and let me know what you think? What has your experience been living and working in Austin or even visiting?

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Diary of a 20 something, Personal Growth Journey

For the past few weeks, I have been swamped at work. I have been surviving on crackers, breakfast bars, and 5 hours of sleep. I have been eating takeout and drowning in mostly job dissatisfaction and a little bit of “I hate that I don’t have enough time to…”. Trying to “adult” is truly so hard and there is really no other way to say that. It’s that weird time in my life when I have to learn how to perform a balancing act. However, I’m  continually dropping the balls of life and trying to re-focus my efforts. During these times, what helps me the most is taking a day, an afternoon, even an evening to get my sh*t together. Sound familiar? Read on for details on my GYST routine.

The following list of things is just a bunch of stuff I do when my life is something like organized chaos and I am barely getting everything done. This is simply a list of things you can do for a soft reset on a tough week or month or to just re-focus yourself and organize your life if you are feeling unbalanced.

  1. Declutter

When I’m feeling super out of whack, I literally go through my clothing, shoes, accessories, household items, old mail, and get rid of any unwanted items. I make space, organize items, and just remove anything that is outdated, no longer needed, and generally no longer brining me satisfaction. Later on, I can replace the items with new ones or make the decision to just do without them. For example, I declutter my closet and every so often I find at least 6-7 clothing items I either sell or donate. The lack of clutter can also bring much needed mental clarity by clearing up physical space.

2. Clean

I mean I guess this one seems obvious, right? When I feel like I need to reset my life, I always clean and organize. I take the time to deep clean things like laundering every dirty or frequently used item in the house, including not only clothing but rugs, kitchen linens, and throw pillows.  I wipe down or dust hard surfaces and rearrange items in the house for a more polished or organized look. I am always sure to put laundry away neatly and sometimes I organize that messy towel cabinet or dish cabinet that needs attention. Try to clean or organize something that you have been wanting to clean for a while. It generally gives you a sense of accomplishment to check it off your mental to-do list.

3. Light candles & journal

Seems like a bit of an odd combination, but this can be really relaxing to do as I sit in a clean, well organized room in my house. Burning essential oils or lighting candles gives your place a relaxed vibe and journaling is an important part of self care. When I am performing my GYST routine, I usually take time to write down things I am grateful for and some things I want to manifest into my life in the next week or maybe month. I have so many different kinds of journals that I use to really invest time in myself when life gets hectic.

4. Meal Prep for the next couple days or just cook something

Honestly, cooking doesn’t happen as often as it should sometimes in my house because at the end of a long day sometimes cooking is the last thing on my mind. Part of my GYST routine is to cook a large meal that I can possibly continue to eat for the following couple of days. It makes me feel so organized because its one less thing I have to do. I can use my time the next day working on some other thing on my to do list. Once it has been done, cooking makes me feel like I have plenty of time to get things done. the illusion of time in tun makes me feel like I have it together. Also, being able to grab a pre-made healthy lunch and just go to work is probably one of the best feelings known to man or woman.

5. Plan

Put together a to-do list, update your calendar and planner, and just organize your agenda. This is so important because it really puts you on the right track to staying organized for a while. Making sure that your agenda is solid and you have reset your method of organization of dates and plans really makes things a little bit easier, especially when you stay consistent. Make a to-do list of all the small things that have been getting overlooked like making that doctor’s appointment, going to the dmv, getting an oil change, etc. This step will motivate you to get those little things done and feel more organized in the process.

There are so many other things you can incorporate into your GYST routine. Please comment below with things that you do when you need to get it together and get organized after rough week or month.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Personal Growth Journey

   Growth Mindset Vs Fixed Mindset is Nothing New

We float along in our careers, relationships, and personal matters subconsciously writing a narrative for our lives. We paint our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and quirks through these stories. Then one day, something happens that totally rattles the foundation of everything we believed that story to be.

Recently, as I gave thought to the shift happening in my life and the long overdue career shift that needs to happen for good, I had a conversation and an epiphany. The conversation was around growth vs. fixed mindset and how we do or do not limit ourselves in everything we do based on our adoption of one or the other. As I started to discuss what growth mindset meant to me, I realized that I have been limiting myself for so long based on the idea that I am not “good” at certain subject areas or things. I had subconsciously floated along with the attitude that I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. The problem with that attitude is that it implies that in life, we are what we are and we get what we get. It implies that we, as human beings cannot grow, cannot change, cannot learn, and cannot master new things. This simply is not true. 

Knowing about growth mindset and living it are two completely different stories. I have always known the definition of growth mindset, but I have never truly lived it. If for just one week, you adopted a growth mindset about things and changed some of the limits you have placed on yourself, your life could change in measurable ways. However, imagine if we changed many of those limits over the course of our lives. Our lives could be written completely differently. We could be living more abundantly, learning more, growing more, and more quickly finding our purpose through challenging ourselves.

How to Fix your Mindset to Promote Growth

For 10 years, I told myself that I couldn’t pursue a career that had anything to do with science or math because I was never “good” at those subjects. I placed educational and career limits on myself. When I look back and think about where I could be if I allowed myself the space to grow and be fearless in the pursuit of my purpose, my only regret is not truly believing in the power of growth. Growth mindset in action can change your life. Fix your mindset to promote growth by:

  • remembering that it is never too late to do anything
  • having faith that skills and strengths can be learned and developed
  • being willing to put in the effort to see results
  • avoiding thought patterns that tell us we are born with the skillset we will have throughout our lives

I have always been a person who says “if you don’t like something, change it”. One of our truths is that we can change the things about our lives that we don’t love and we are powerful beyond measure. We have the power to paint our lives the way we want them to look, using vivid colors in some areas and neutral tones in others. Love yourself, but also grow yourself. The only limitations are the ones you put on yourself. The sooner you realize that, the more you can accomplish.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

Personal Growth Journey

There’s a lot to be said about gratitude journals. They are effective and work for different people in different ways. I find that when I am extremely anxious and need to wind down before I step foot outside my workplace, writing down a few things I am grateful for can shift my focus a bit. I look at those things and I tell myself that life could be a lot worse. I mean everyone has something that they can be thankful for in one way or another. However, what do you do when gratitude journals don’t do it anymore?  What do you do when your stress level is beyond the point where a gratitude journal even scratches the surface on your anxiety and stress?

I find myself asking these very questions everyday because realistically, we lose control of our stress level sometimes. I find myself looking for other things to take my mind off work, all the work I do, all the work I need to do, being at work, working, and did I mention work? How do we take back control over our lives in ways other than writing down a couple things we are grateful for here and there?

Here are 5 things you can try other than writing in a gratitude journal to take the edge off the anxiety and stress. No guarantees, but it never hurts to try something new.

  1. Do Yoga

My go-to stress and anxiety buster is yoga. When I’m at the end of my rope with the muscle tension caused by daily stress, I run to the nearest yoga class and force myself onto the mat. It isn’t something I do regularly out of a lack of convenience and desire to commit to a membership. However, I recently discovered a cheap online yoga membership and am eager to see how that works out for me. Yoga melts the tension away and allows me to actually wind down and relax after a hard, long workday.

2.  Read a Self-Help Book

I will say it is hard to sit down and read a book with a super busy schedule. However, nightly reading can take the edge off and give you something else to think about and reflect on during stressful times. I particularly love self help books because they relax you while simultaneously making you at least think about improving yourself.

3. Write

I write posts for a blog so I mean…

Even if you think no one else will read what you write, just write something. I literally brain dump into the notes app on my iPhone some nights because there are so many thoughts I have to just evict from my mind. If you aren’t a writer, type. No one ever has to see it. Just stop letting negative thoughts, anxiety, and stress make a comfortable living space out of your brain.

4. Beautify yo’ self

Do your nails, hair, face mask. Doing some sort of self care, even if it is just one thing, can work wonders on your confidence and distract you from the stress. Making yourself look better makes you feel better. We don’t always have the time or money for a full makeover, but doing something, anything can make a small difference. Just try it and you will understand. I bought a gel polish kit and whenever Im feeling meh, I give myself a gel manicure that lasts for two weeks. I decompress and I enjoy my cute nails, making the investment totally worth it.

5.  Meet up with friends or potential friends

I just moved to the Austin area about a year ago and for the longest time, I would make excuses about not having friends.  I would barely leave the house unless it was for work or shopping. Recently, I went to my first happy hour with people I met on the Meetup app and it was like a whole new world opened up to me. There are so many apps, venues, and organizations that allow you to meet like-minded people who also don’t have a ton of local friends. I can’t use the “I don’t have friends” excuse much longer because it’s been a year since I’ve been in the area. Go out, live a little and don’t be afraid of being social. Having friends and a social life can really take a small bite out of the everyday stress bubble we allow ourselves to live in.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna

SE Asia in Photos – Part 1

Everything Travel

These photos show my trip from Singapore to Siem Reap, Cambodia with my friend Kate. We had an amazing time, exploring the temples of Cambodia together including Angkor Wat (the largest religious monument in the world)! Look out for more photos and details from my trip to Southeast Asia.

Highlights

  • Events pictured took place over about 4-5 days
  • Landed in Singapore, spent a day touring downtown ( 10 hr layover was part of my flight from Houston to Bangkok ~980 USD when booked a month in advance)
  • Landed in Bangkok, spent a night in a small apartment style hotel (not pictured) ~25 USD per night
  • Landed in Siem Reap via AirAsia (Asia’s budget airline) (~60 USD!)
  • Stayed at Mad Monkey Hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia ~ 8 USD per night
  • Toured 3 temples in Cambodia ( about 30 USD for passes and 15 USD for all day tuk tuk ride from temple to temple)

What questions do you have about my trip? Comment below!

The blog is back.

Everything Travel

I made it through my first year teaching 4th grade. I flew to Asia. I cruised to Mexico. I’ve started another year. I am grateful.

I’m ready to blog again!

I was blogging a few months ago way more regularly and I enjoyed it but I was truthfully in a period where I felt more lost than ever. I stopped feeling gratitude. I stopped feeling positivity. I started feeling self pity and emptiness. So I took time away from blogging to find my passions and to create more time for them. I took time to figure out where I had lost myself.

I talked to so many people in their 20s about that lost feeling and so many could relate to what I felt.

Anyways, I’m totally still a work in progress. I mean aren’t we all?

Im back with a more conversational post just to reintroduce myself; clearer, more grounded, ready to take on the world (quite literally).

While I was away, I went to Asia for 3 weeks (Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand). Travel has always been therapeutic and healing for me. On this trip, I tried so many things I had never done and pushed myself in so many new and different ways. I conquered my fear of heights, I participated in a three and a half hour deep meditation, I reunited with an old friend (hey Kate!).

This post is a hello, an “I’m back”. This post is hope and a “you’re not alone” for those who are feeling extra lost and needing to wander to find themselves.

This feeling isn’t forever.

Sincerely,

Lacey Alanna