Personal Growth Journey

In recent years, “self-care” has been a buzzword or phrase that is plastered just about everywhere! Literally, every other Facebook article, blog post, and self-help video is about the importance of self-care. These articles tell us the hows, whys, and whats of self-care that are supposed to help us to lead happier, less stressful lives. I totally get it; do a couple face masks, get a massage, take a weekend getaway, polish your nails, curl up with a glass of wine and a good book whilst taking a night off from your usual work.

Administrators always love to remind stressed, overworked, overwhelmed, teachers to “do something you enjoy” or “spend time with family” during the tough times throughout the school year. I mean after all, bosses have to say encouraging things to keep their employees and acknowledge their pain, right? However, what I’m not quite buying is the whole “self-care yourself through the toxic situation” mindset especially when the to-do list feels absolutely never-ending.

I don’t have a problem with the actual act of being kind to yourself. We should be gentle with ourselves, love ourselves, and most importantly treat ourselves well. We only get one mind and one vessel. It is soooo important to heal ourselves from our every day emotional labor and physical work. There is space for this kind of self-care. Self-care is important and that means something different to everyone. I can’t deny any of that. In fact, I believe all of that.

Here is where the issue lies. The issue lies in settling for a life you don’t want and coping with your choices by practicing “self-care”. If you continue to stay in toxic situations and forcing yourself to be content by going to a weekly yoga class or treating yourself to a massage, you are making a huge mistake. I don’t hate self-care by itself. But, it is absolutely gut-wrenching that people use self care to cope with their lives.

Self-care is not a band-aid for your toxic flesh wound of a relationship, job, or family issue. Self-care is not a remedy for having the life sucked out of you at a job you hate, being unhappy with someone who you have settled for, or continuing to have a relationship with a family member who turns your life upside down every time you speak. Self-care is not any of those things and self-care doesn’t

1. solve issues that exist in your life or

2. breathe life into dead situations that make your life less enjoyable.

Sometimes, self-care isn’t a facial, manicure, or binge watching a show on Netflix. Sometimes self-care actually presents an inconvenience to others and sometimes it makes others uncomfortable. Sometimes, it makes you unavailable for a while. Sometimes self-care is ceasing to feed dead situations. Sometimes self-care is travel.

Sometimes, self-care is walking away.

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

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

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

The List: Rediscovering Joy as a Working 20 Something

Personal Growth Journey

The other day, I found myself in my car, sitting in the parking lot of a crowded grocery store wondering when life became so routinized. My weeks have become bogged down with work, eating, sleeping, and doing it again. Meanwhile, my weekends have become laundry, cleaning up the mess that has accumulated throughout the week in my tiny room/apartment, meal prep, working out, and catching up on the sleep that I was deprived of during the week. My reality has become doing these things over and over and over and over. It has become so routinized that I have fallen into the rut of  going as far as eliminating things I used to enjoy and replacing them with errands, chores, the busywork of life.

So there I am, in my car having a mini meltdown because I realized that my once joyful and creative life has become an extended business trip. Why do we prioritize things that bring us no joy and that bring little value to our life over things that make us happy? Why do we sacrifice so much of ourselves to get the busywork of life done? I asked myself this question this week and I ventured to find a solution to the rut I had found myself in so many times.

I decided to make a list because lists solve so many problems, right? I made a list of all the things that bring me joy in life like being with my significant other, hanging out with my closest friends, traveling, etc. My list consisted of about 12 items that really brought me sheer and utter happiness. Then I read through the list and checked off the number of things that I experienced on a daily or at least weekly basis. Of the 12 items that bring me the most joy in life, I experienced 3 regularly! THREE! How is that? If this was my truth, how had I gone on so long this way?

My big takeaway from creating the list was that it is so important that we incorporate joy into the everyday, especially when we find ourselves unintentionally eliminating the things that make us happiest because we are “busy”. After looking at the list, I decided that I would gradually try to reintroduce some of the things on my list back into my life. For example, I used to always binge watch shows on Netflix and now I NEVER do. Yes, television is poison and I should be reading books and doing yoga blah blah blah. However, I am a firm believer that everything we love should be enjoyed in moderation.

As 20 somethings, some of us get caught up in careers, money, problems, chores, responsibilities, love, and we forget to do what we love to do for ourselves. I challenge you to make your list! List all the things that bring you the most joy and then see how many you incorporate into your life regularly. You may be a pro at this. You also might be failing miserably at incorporating joy. It’s your job to find out and to rediscover what makes you happiest, then do it.

With that being said…..

 

I’M GOING TO THAILAND! More on that soon.

 

LaceyAlanna

 

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Diary of a 20 Something: Chit Chat about Vlogging, Relocating, and Re-Branding

Diary of a 20 something

I haven’t blogged in so long and that is partly because I’ve been thinking about the re-branding of the blog. I want to be real with people and show readers that so many 20-somethings go through some of the same things and that none of us is alone. Teaching people how to become a slightly better version of themselves is so helpful and necessary, but there also needs to be a space where young women’s concerns, stresses, and just life experiences can be shared and acknowledged. There needs to be a space where young women, especially of color can be like “hey, other people go through this” and “wow, I’m not just living in the twilight zone”, considering the weird things that happen in your 20’s and maybe even 30’s (I’m not there yet so I wouldn’t know).

I still haven’t figured out what that looks like for the blog,  although I do feel like vlogging fits into that space. So, that is something I am exploring at the moment.  However, this week I needed to just write SOMETHING because as content creators, we don’t always have to wait for the perfect post or the perfect time to create and release new content. I also haven’t written anything in a while because I have been fully immersed in teaching 4th grade which has been an interesting and welcome change for me.

Anyways, vlogging is something I’m very interested in. Many people who read and love the blog have asked me to create a YouTube channel because some people just don’t enjoy reading. I totally get it.  However, I am a perfectionist and don’t want to start making videos that aren’t quality as far as aesthetics, content, and just garnering people’s interest. It is the fear of failure sometimes that stops me from going full steam ahead with something. However, I’m taking my time to make an informed decision about whether vlogging is something I want to do and something I have time for realistically.

Where I’m at right now…

Next, I wanted to talk about relocating. I have relocated numerous times, depending on what you consider relocating. I went to college in Pennsylvania, close to Buffalo, NY. Then I moved to Washington, DC after I graduated to experience big city life and be closer to my hometown, Baltimore. I loved DC but it was a bit pretentious and expensive for my taste. However, I find myself missing DC now along with my dc friends and considering it a second home. After 2 years in DC, I decided to move south to Houston, TX for the warmer weather and the lower cost of living. I LOVED Houston and started to meet people and establish a life. Then, I fell in love with a guy who I am currently with (shout out to him and to love and all that stuff) and found myself in San Marcos, TX between Austin and San Antonio.

I must say I have managed to form a love affair with every place I have lived EXCEPT this one. I’m not sure what it is about the Austin area that just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it is the fact that I haven’t made any friends here or I don’t get out much or that I live in a small college town and the big city is 30 miles away. Not sure, but I know that I am ready to move to a location that is ideal for buying a home and living long term. I have lived many places because I have chosen for my life to be that way, being a single 20 something. Now, I am growing and longing for stability and I think one more relocation is in my near future. Not sure where that will be, but closer to family on the east coast or in the southeast would be ideal. Any suggestions? I totally also want to write a post about my relocations and my experiences living in each of these areas. I believe that the place you live can have a major effect on your overall happiness and your life and plan to discuss that more in detail in a later post. Relocations are something that most 20 somethings either go through with or think about at some point.

My next post will be more structured perhaps, or maybe not but the Diary of a 20 Something will be a series of posts you can find under categories where I will chit chat about life, struggles, thoughts, ideas, plans, and the things that we face every day as we are in the words of SZA, stuck in those 20 somethings.