What Living in a Van Taught Me About My Relationship

This month my boyfriend and I flew across the country to San Francisco, rented a camper van and set out to explore the area for 10 days from Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Big Sur and Yosemite National Park. By camper van I don’t mean a camper. I mean a van… that you live in. It’s funny how friends of mine had such different reactions to the idea. Some were like “OMG I could never!”, the concept of the van or even camping for that long was incomprehensible. Other friends reacted completely opposite and thought it was such a fun, economical and cool idea. I’m glad I happen to be in the group whose up for an adventure. I grew up taking camping trips across the country with my family in our pop up camper, so when Stephen threw the idea out there I was in.

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Now let’s get into the relationship part. Traveling is a great way to learn a lot about the person you’re dating- you’re both in an unfamiliar place and at some point are bound to be faced with unexpected situations. This brings out the good, the bad and all the in between sides of your partner, and I find it actually to be very helpful in seeing if the relationship is a strong one. What better way to test your relationship than living in a van, just the two of you, for 10 days. Not that I went into this testing ours! We had traveled many times before this in the US and out of the country. But the van aspect definitely added an extra quirky twist to this trip, and along the way some observations and thoughts crossed my mind.

#HIGHFIVE FOR PROBLEM SOLVING

The first night of our trip we were rearranging the inside of the van to make our bed after dark. The camper van is set up so the main seat bench and table reconfigure to make a surprisingly comfortable queen size bed. We had left Atlanta at 5:30am to catch our flight so needless to say after a long day of traveling we were exhausted. During the bed making process we were both outside and shut the doors… and were locked out. Somehow we locked the van with the keys… and our phones… inside.

We both just looked at each other for a second- damnit. We were in the woods with no keys, no phones and no way to get to any of our things. Immediately we both went into problem solving mode. I walked over to the campers next to us who were hanging out at their site, asked to borrow one of their phones, and began looking up the roadside assistance number I remember the camper van rental company mentioning. Stephen right away asked one of them for a tent stake to try to basically break into the van. Less than 5 minutes later I hear “we’re in!”. Somehow they managed to get into the van with the tent stake and save the night.

What was important to me about this was neither of us blamed the other, was mad or upset… by nature we both immediately thought of the best ways to fix the problem, stress-free. #Highfive for problem solving.

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WE DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY, AND THAT’S OKAY

Everyone has their own way of going about their day and everyday tasks. The first day we stopped at the grocery store to stock up before going to our first campsite. After loading up the cart we got to the van to unload the bags. Seems like a completely normal thing, what could go wrong right? Well… we had an issue. Stephen wanted to completely unload and organize all the groceries where they belonged in the van, right there in the parking lot. His very efficient stance on the situation was “why do things twice, let’s put it all where it goes the first time”.  My view was “why spend any more time in the grocery store parking lot than we have to? Let’s throw the bags in, get to the campsite and take our time organizing there”. There was a small, *calm* disagreement that afternoon in the parking lot of the SaveWay in Aptos, California.

Was one of us right? No… we simply just go about certain things differently. It doesn’t make sense trying to argue who is right and who is wrong when in the end it doesn’t even matter. We compromised, put away the cold things in the fridge, and organized the rest later at the campsite.

PATIENCE NEVER FAILS

If you’re spending 10 days straight together there are times you are bound to annoy the other person. We had the most amazing time and are extremely compatible, but our trip wasn’t without its moments on both sides. I remember Stephen trying to park the van on this very particular angle I wanted so it would be the most ideal setup with one of our campsites. Since the backside of the van opens up with the whole cooking area its important it’s placed so it flows with the site layout (at least to me that stuff is important!). I know I can be very picky, so there was a lot of moving the van this way, then that way, and then back this way. I could tell I was getting on his nerves, but he really remained patient with me and we got it set up perfect. I was happy with our space, and he was happy it was over so he could build a fire and relax with a beer.

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Another time he wanted to stop and take pictures at this well known surf spot in Santa Cruz called Steamer Lane. That day is was extra chilly and windy, and I didn’t have a warm jacket on. I wasn’t in the mood to walk up and down cliff’s edge taking pictures of waves and surfers, and more waves and surfers… and waiting for the next set of waves hoping a surfer would catch an epic one. But I sucked it up, put on a happy face and paced along the water’s edge with him as he snapped away. He was excited about it, it made him happy, so I remained patient until he was ready to go.

Being patient with the other person is extremely important to a happy relationship. You won’t always want to do the same things, and you will get frustrated with each other at times. Don’t let those emotions boil over and ruin the moment.

No relationship is flawless. There will always be things you don’t agree and everything won’t always be picture perfect- even if you do end up with some pretty perfect pictures. I would do our whole 10 days in a van all over again anytime, Stephen jokes with me that it was just a warm up for a MUCH longer trip in the future. We will see if that ever comes to fruition, but I am confident we will be able to tackle whatever comes our way.

Have you ever experienced similar situations while traveling with your partner? Share your stories in the comments below!

 

 

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Going Solo for New Years

Let’s face it… New Years Eve when you’re single is always a gamble. When you’re with someone it’s always exciting to figure out your plans for the big night. It doesn’t matter if you end up with a group of friends at a party or just cozying up on the couch because all that really matters is you’ll be sharing that midnight kiss and starting a new year together. Since I was 16 I spent almost every NYE that way (long term relationship kinda girl right here!), and it’s my favorite way to spend the holiday.

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Fast forward to this year and I found myself in a little dilemma. Not going to lie, I enjoy being single! The total freedom to do what I want when I want is great, and at times I feel almost too busy to handle a relationship lately. BUT unless you have a group of single friends, NYE can sometimes leave you feeling like the 3rd, 5th, 7th or even 11th wheel. So this year I found myself trying to figure out how I really wanted to spend the new year.

After debating between a few different options around town I somehow ended up browsing some rental units on Airbnb (best travel lodging website ever!). I came across this cute little oceanfront condo in Florida, not too far of a drive from ATL. AND for being oceanfront it was a great deal, so 30 minutes later I booked it. My NYE went from potential party time to packing my suitcase and cleaning my apartment but it was ALL worth it! Not to mention I totally dodged the post NYE hangover. I was going to be spending the first few days of 2016 relaxing, reflecting, cooking delicious food, and enjoying a few glasses of wine all with a full view of the ocean. Not too bad aye?

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Now as far as New Year resolutions I am not a big stickler. I enjoy writing some down, goals are ALWAYS a good thing to have in life! But I am also very aware life doesn’t stick to a year timetable… you have to go with the flow of know when to make things really happen and when to be patient. After arriving in Florida this afternoon I sat on my balcony overlooking the endless blue water and reflected on the happenings of 2015 and my visions for 2016. Check back for the next blog post of last year’s lows/highs and future goals!

2015 Favorite 9

Everyone’s been sharing their top 9 from 2015 on social so I figured I’d do the same! Instead of going with top 9 “liked” photos I went with my top 9 favorite moments or experiences from 2015.  It was been a year of ups and downs as every year is, and I am very grateful and proud to be where I am beginning 2016 🙂

#1- Colorado Lovin’

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#2- New York State of Mind

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#3- RAW Natural Born Artist Show

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#4- St. Augustine Mother-Daughter Trip

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#5- BELLA Magazine White Party in the Hamptons

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#6- Home Makeovers and Blog Progress

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#7- California Dreamin’

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#8- Hola Costa Rica

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#9- View of the Year

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Weekly 5 Favorites

#1- Paradise Memories

The dreary weather left me exhausted as this week began. It’s amazing how much weather can affect your entire day and I was ready for a break from the cloudy skies and rain. I took a mental escape back to my time in Laguna Beach last year… the beautiful rocky coast and bright blue waters. Although my current physical location might not be ideal, I am so grateful to have those memories to look back on and to be excited for what the future may bring.
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#2-This Striped Shirt

With the cold weather comes a whole different wardrobe… out with the tank tops and in with the comfy long sleeve shirts! I snatched this one up at Target the other day, only 2 for $20! Style and affordability is always a good combination 😉

CLICK HERE to shop the look

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#3-Seeing the Magic Happen at Work

We are just now launching our newest line of travel accessories at PurseN and I am SO excited about how well it’s been received. In addition to the more luxurious fabrics and finishes of the collection, we’ve introduced the latest in Jewelry Cases the Primas! This amazing travel jewelry case has revolutionary pouches to keep your necklaces in place and keep them tangle-free, it’s the best. This week we did a video shoot showcasing the Prima Jewelry Cases and I was so proud of all of our hard work. We have been developing this design for most of 2015, and seeing it all come together makes me grateful to work where I am an integral part of the journey.

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#4-Close Friendships

Nothing brings together the best of friends like a birthday dinner. I am so thankful to have these ladies in my life to be the sisters I never had. We have been through so many journeys together, lived in multiple places, helped each other through relationships, breakups and new beginnings. Remember to never take these people in your life for granted.

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#5-Margs & Guac

What better way to end the week than with the best margarita and guacamole in town! I am totally obsessed with Bartaco– the food, the atmosphere, the drinks… all of it is my thing.  I can never pass up an opportunity to introduce a friend to this spot for the first time.

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Bare Feet & Rosé in Venice

First of all… thats not Venice, Italy. It’s Venice Beach, CA. I wish though!

Earlier this month I packed up my bags and headed to SoCal for a long weekend away. I have this habit of periodically browsing plane ticket prices and came across a deal I just could resist. $178 for roundtrip/nonstop ATL to LAX, how could I NOT jump on that?! I am fortunate enough to have some amazing friends to see out on the west coast, so I figured why not take myself away to my favorite part of the country. I packed up my very organized bag (benefits of working for a organizational travel accessories brand!) and headed out to those beautiful blue ocean waves.

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I started my trip out by heading to Venice Beach for the afternoon. After walking the pier I spent the rest of my time  enjoying the views, grabbing a little rosé love, and exploring the scenery. A perfect way to begin the trip!

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S.B. Life & Things to Come

How do we balance it all? A full-time job, side projects, family, friends, dating/relationships, errands, cleaning, cooking, and heaven forbid…. sneaking in some lazy couch time. No matter what’s going on in your unique life, we all have trouble making it ALL happen, while still looking decent in public (I think I’m slowly mastering the “technically I’m almost in PJs but I can totally pull this off at work” move).

The past few months have been a total whirl wind for me, but I’m finally taking control of certain passions of mine that have been on the back burner…. this blog being one of them. There are lots of updates to come and endless stories for the future… but here is a little sneak peak on the S.B. life lately!

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May We Never Forget

DAY THREE and the final day of our quick NYC adventure and what better way to begin the day than with perfect eggs benny from a great little spot around the corner in Tribeca. After the last piece of bacon and final sip of mimosas, we headed down to the Financial District to take in some water views, admire the local architecture and make a stop at the 9/11 memorial. It was my first time visiting the memorial and it was truly a reflective and moving experience.

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Getting that Artsy Fix

There’s so much art at your fingertips in Manhattan that choosing where to go when you’re only in town for a weekend can be impossible. For me it’s hard to resist stopping by MoMA when I’m in New York, and this trip was no exception!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from my favorite art museum:

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No. 3/No. 13 (Magenta, Black, Green on Orange) by Mark Rothko, 1949
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Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol, 1962
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Girl with Ball by Roy Lichtenstein, 1961
Gold Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, 1962
Flag by Jasper Johns, 1954

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One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock, 1950

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The Olive Trees by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

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The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, 1889

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Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni, 1913

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Girl before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso, 1932

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Water Lilies by Claude Monet, 1914

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A New York State of Mind

DAY TWO of our girl’s weekend away in Manhattan. Unsurprisingly,  we just couldn’t resist and little stroll through Times Square on our way to the Rockefeller Center! From the Top of the Rock, to the gorgeous detailing of the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, check out these snap shots from our view filled afternoon.

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Girls Weekend in NYC

Though I decided to stay in ATL instead of heading out west to Colorado the travel bug never left me. In the past 6 months I had escaped out to California and Denver twice each so I decided the big apple would be next getaway. A friend of mine agreed to go along for the ride if I could get the plane flight and place to stay for under $400 a piece… challenge accepted!

A few short weeks later we headed up to NYC for a long weekend!

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Who says denim vests are out of style?!

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After arriving at the airport 30 minutes before our flight take off, fighting with the cab driver and getting my suitcase stuck in a subway turnstile, we finally arrived at our home for the weekend, a beautiful apartment in Tribeca (thanks to airbnb of course).

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking the Brooklyn Bridge, enjoying the beautiful views and anticipating the snowfall headed our way.
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Just as expected, the snow came falling down a few hours later and it was beautiful. Okay fine… it was super wet and freezing and we almost busted our asses on the sidewalk but hey, still beautiful in the city. Lucky for us we had a drink date with my friends relatives at the the Renaissance Hotel lounge, with the perfect INDOOR view of Times Square. After catching up over a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc, the city exploration continued.

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Oceans Waves to Mountain Ranges

Hey there stranger, how have ya been?

I have been a little MIA blog wise over the past few months and we have so much to catch up on. Since coming back from California in my last loving life post, my life has changed in many ways. We’ll need to do a little fast tracking to get up to speed!

I returned to ATL last fall on a  “I’m moving to California” high.  Since then, I dreamt of packing up all my things in a uhaul and getting my ass across the country, but started to consider the possibility that Cali might not be the best next move just yet. One day absolutely, but not quite yet. I began thinking of other possibilities of where to take this new phase of my life.

Then very unexpectedly… 2 trips and 6 weeks later, I had decided Denver, CO could be my next home.

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Not something you’d expect from this beach bum is it?

I even surprised myself  with that decision. I found what Colorado lacked as far as ocean and water it certainly made up for with culture, creativity, delicious food, breweries, tacos, outdoor adventures and the gorgeous mountain landscapes so close by. Not to mention Cali was a much shorter/cheaper plane ride away compared to coming from the East Coast  ;-).

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I fully started picturing what  my life would be like there, where exactly I’d want to live and how to make the whole transition happen. But as usual, as much as you can plan your future out to a T, life usually has it’s own plans in store for you.

 

Hello Again Santa Barbara!

Shortly after returned home from California I couldn’t get beautiful Santa Barbara off my mind. I was in love with everything about the city and being there only 24 hours was obviously not nearly enough.  A few weeks later on a whim I booked a trip to return for a long weekend, another spontaneous solo trip for this girl. I was all set to arrive in SB late Thursday night and enjoy my own little paradise.

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I reserved this adorable little space on airbnb.com in the home of an older total hippie lady from the looks of her profile and description. It was located just into the foothills of Santa Barbara, a very quick drive or bus ride into downtown and the ocean. I definitely should have read the directions to the home before arriving around 10pm that night, because it turned into quite an interesting adventure. After following my GPS past the neighborhood streetlights onto an unpaved road, I started to question my phone’s accuracy. I opened her specific details about finding her place which read:

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So, I’m alone in the dark… driving down an unlit dirt road looking for a “light up Jesus sign and the gate with the white star”… perfect. I literally just had to laugh at myself. It didn’t take long to find exactly what she had described- a lit up Jesus sign with an arrow pointing to a very rustic gate with a white star. The pictures below were taken the next morning when I was heading out towards downtown, but just imagine finding this in the dark.

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After pushing open the gate with the white star I entered her property following my cell phone’s flashlight. Immediately I could see through the windows into a room on my right that looks exactly like the pictures online, thank God I was actually in the right place. I entered through her patio with prayer flags as instructed, opened the patio door and finally arrived at my room for the weekend.

Let me just say, I’m not completely crazy. I don’t regularly go around putting myself in these situations, and it may seem like the beginning to a murder story… where you’re constantly yelling at the screen “get out, what are you doing?!”. I did my homework, read all of her many reviews, and was fully confident this was a safe place. Just maybe a little unconventional? Honestly, there are  very few of my girlfriends who wouldn’t have turned right around at the Jesus sign and headed to the closest hotel. I love every bit of it though, and if were being honest, it makes for more interesting stories later 😉

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The next morning I woke up bright and early thanks to that 3 hour time difference with the East coast. Over the next few hours I walked around downtown, grabbed brunch with a delicious bloody mary,  of course, and walked all the way down the warf. The views there seriously took my breath away and I was perfectly happy wandering alone all day.

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It was wonderful to be back in this amazing place. I ended the afternoon with a refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc overlooking the marina… exactly how my first Santa Barbara experience began.

 

Laguna Lovin’ & Cali Goodbyes…. For Now

August 25, 2014– The last full day of my newly single lady trip out to the west coast and I wanted to make the most of it! I was spending the day with my aunt… okay technically she isn’t my aunt at all, but to keep it simple I’m going to go with that. Aunt, friend, whatever… she’s someone who’s known me since birth.

I had to also drop my rental car off that morning so she met me at the airport. I was so sad to give back my favorite travel companion for the past week. Our daily trips to In-N-Out, the drive up the coast through Long Beach to Santa Barbara, cruising along the California hills blasting music, and all the while pretending it was mine. It was the perfect ride for this trip, and I was sad to turn in the keys! I may or may not have done some research about purchasing one of these guys when I returned home, but that’s as far as that idea went… for now.

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After dropping off the car we headed to Laguna Beach for the day. Back in high school when the reality show Laguna Beach was on TV, I remember my mom commenting on who stupid all their annoying drama was (agreed), but she always liked watching the TV show intro. Apparently the beach clips reminded her of growing up and her regular trips with friends from Long Beach to Laguna. She would tell me how she recognized the location shots and how she loved going there all the time as a teenager. I was excited to visit this gorgeous place for the first time, but also to visit another city that is indirectly tied to my past.

We parked the car and decided to start the day by taking a long walk along the water, taking in the endless views along the way. I love the rocky coast of Laguna and all the surrounding foliage. It feels much more natural than other nearby beaches I’d been to over the past few days.

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SauvignonBlue-LagunaBeach-4After our oceanside stroll we stopped for some super fresh quac and cosmos, still with that beautiful beach view. Over the next hour we sipped cocktails and talked about life, relationships, and future goals. I love how the older you get the less age matters in personal relationships. There I was, sitting with someone who is the same age as my parents and whose son is also my age, relating to each other and sharing stories and feelings as friends more than anything else. There were lots of laughs, a few tears, but most of all we cherished that time spent together in such a beautiful place. Over the next few hours we moseyed around through the streets, stopped in art galleries and cute little crafty stores, and continued to enjoy the day.

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A few hours later we found ourselves at this beachfront restaurant right as the sun was setting. We decided to grab another drink and some dinner to watch the sun go down, making it the perfect ending to not only an incredible day, but I week I will never forget.

As I watched the sky and its reflection on the water change over time, I thought about the journey I went through that week and the time leading up to it. What began as kind an escape from the reality of a recent sudden break-up had turned into a little bit of self discovery, and got me so excited for all the new possibilities in front of me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the negative/sad feelings when life throws you curve balls and doesn’t take the direction you planned. I’ve heard stories from some of my girlfriends about just crying for weeks, even months after a breakup, not being about to see the bright side or move on for a long time. I am very thankful to know things always get better… and a lot of the time turn out better than you could have ever planned yourself.  With the bad comes something awesome around the corner, and sometimes you have to create that awesome for yourself instead of waiting around for it.

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