Saying “Yes” to Saying “No”

The truth is that I don’t say no nearly enough.

I try to bend over backwards to say yes.

I keep a totally jam-packed schedule – I do my best to say yes to making plans with anyone and everyone. My fiance says he misses me sometimes, and I LIVE with him.

I’m so utterly embarrassed by this habit that I have struggled so hard to break.

I’ve even talked with my therapist about it, and more than one time at that. I’m hurting – no, suffocating badly enough to where I have a legitimate written plan to help myself stick to the change I want to make: saying “no” more often. I find that writing things down seems to be the best way I can hold myself accountable. Ideas just don’t stick with me; I have to make it tangible.

Here’s how I’m teaching myself to say “no”. I’m limiting the number of times I can say “yes” in a month. Any other request, by default, can and must be answered with “no”.

I can say yes to:

  • 2 plans on weeknights during any given week (dinner, drinks, a meeting, whatever. Only two nights out away from home).
  • 2 plans on weekends during a given month (whether it is a day trip, weekend trip that isn’t with Sean, or a brunch. Only two weekends can have pre-determined plans.)

I can say no to:

  • Everything after I have booked up my usable “yes” slots
  • Things I do not want to do
  • Things that do not make me happy
  • Things that put me around people I don’t want to spend my time with

I hope that these hard, fast, no-nonsense rules get me to a place where I can feel the peace of mind, body, and soul I’ve been seeking for a while but haven’t managed to find. It doesn’t matter if anyone understands my need to do this. I have to be the best me before I can be anything to anyone else anyway.

Sound off: How do you handle feeling overwhelmed and overbooked? What plan of action works best for you? Share your secrets for success in the comments!

How I Coped (And Didn’t Cope) With Anxiety Due To A Natural Disaster

Hi friends.

It has been a while again. I’m trying desperately to prioritize this blog because I think it can be a real outlet for me, but I keep allowing other life happenings to intervene. Freelance work, genera life stress, and travel have all kind of put my blog on the back burner. They say the third time’s the charm, right?

Right.

Anyway, as anyone who does not live under a rock knows, Florida had it’s world rocked by a big ass lady named Irma. Hurricane Irma, that is.

As a resident of the Tampa Bay Area, I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous. For a hot minute, the eye of a category 4 storm was supposed to pass right over us. By some stroke of luck, the path changed and the storm weakened, so the damage was way less than what it could have been. I feel so, so lucky and my heart has been shattered into a million pieces for the all of the Caribbean islands, the Florida Keys, and Naples, all of which got SLAMMED by the brunt of the storm. The damage left in Irma’s wake is nothing short of devastating. If you aren’t trying to recover from the storm yourself, please consider donating to relief efforts by picking a charity from here.

Now that the storm has passed and I am in recovery mode, I wanted to talk about what I did right and what I did wrong when it came to dealing with the anxiety surrounding this bighugegiant storm that I had NO control over. I personally struggle a great deal with things outside of my control, so I wanted to share my triumphs and my pitfalls in hope of improving in the future with personal accountability and hopefully helping someone else who struggles that same as I do.

What I did right

I prepared – Sean and I got supplies in the event that hunkering down was going to be our reality. The amount of Chef Boyardee in my pantry could feed a small army. You better believe that what’s left is going to be donated to a food kitchen next week.

I got materials to relax – I picked up books I placed on hold at the library, I charged up my kindle, and I bought a variety pack of potato chips. If I was going to be offline, I was going to enjoy my favorite treats: reading and crunchy, salty snacks.

I let my boss and my loved ones know my whereabouts – Sean and I ended up going to his parents on the other side of the state when the Saturday advisory had Tampa bearing the impact. Listening to my gut – which was saying, “GET OUT NOW AND BE SAFE!” – ensured that we were in a place with plenty of food, water, shutters up on the windows, and love.

What I did wrong

I panicked – I felt like Sean and I were under-prepared, and I had a few meltdowns with lots and lots of tears in the days leading up to the storm. The uncertainty had me so worried and my stomach got so, so sick. The headaches, the nausea, the upset stomach all just really didn’t help me do what I needed to be doing.

I allowed my stress to make me mean – Normally I’m the happy friend, the friend you go to when YOU need a pick-me-up, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, etc. That was absolutely not the case when I was feeling so anxious around this storm. For example, I got really mean when communicating with Sean. I let my emotions and feelings of being scared get to me, and I projected them as anger toward my partner. That was a huge mistake and I apologized for my behavior. Lucky for me, Sean is incredibly gracious and understood why my behavior was happening. I also got mean with some of my friends. In being so wrapped up in my own emotions, I did a terrible job of being a friend to them with THEIR issues. I got snippy, I ignored text messages – I was basically the opposite of my loving, supportive self.

I am struggling to bounce back – The storm passed and…I’m still super anxious. The idea of cleaning up and going back to reality feels totally overwhelming and daunting, and I am really struggling to get back into some kind of routine or normal-ness. I know I’ll get there eventually, but my brain is on gloom-and-doom overdrive.

What I learned

Sometimes we win our battles with anxiety, other times we lose. This time I would say that anxiety has gotten the better of me, but I have at least identified it and can learn from it.

I hope that those of you who weathered the storm are faring well,  and I send all my best wishes (and my donations) to those who are still in need of help surviving, rebuilding, and healing.

Bri’s Top 5 Go-To Basic Drinks

This is my favorite margarita! I get this beauty at Casa Tina in Dunedin, Florida. You know you want one.

I really enjoy fancy cocktails. I do! They have fun names and they let you try new flavors and liquors. However, I do have a few go-to drinks I know I can always fall back on and be happy with while out and about on the town. No menu-reading required!

1. Vodka with Club Soda and Lime

This drink is the one drink that cannot be messed up. It’s refreshing and not at all sweet. It’s my go-to when I want (or need) to be okay the next day.

2. Moscow Mule

You’re going to notice a trend with me and clear liquor drinks. They are my poison of choice for sure. Moscow Mules are honestly just delicious. Ginger beer is lightly carbonated, sweet, and has a biting flavor that mixes perfectly with vodka. Add in the lime and now we have a party!

3. Margarita

I love margaritas. They’re sweet, tequila makes me feel good, and the salt rim balances the sweet drink perfectly. Ole!

4. Hefeweizen

When it comes to beer, I’ve identified a few types of brews that agree with my palette. Hefeweizen is light, often has a citrus-y flavor, and most importantly – not bitter. When it comes to drinkability, this type of beer is at the top of the list.

5. Dirty Shirley

This is my pick for weddings/fancy events. It brings me right back to a childhood favorite, but my friend vodka comes in clutch to make it “adult”. Who doesn’t love Sprite and grenadine? Like really.

What are your favorite “adult beverages”? Let me know in the comments below!

The Importance of a Girls’ Night In

Sometimes for a Girls’ Night In, my bestie Stephany and I do healthy girl dates! We pack a picnic and head out to a park to walk! Not a GNI in its true sense, but still an awesome alternative to a GNO. Love these moments!

I am a huge supporter of the girl’s night out. It is so refreshing to have a night out having dinner and drinks or perhaps catching a movie with a group of girlfriends. Having a social life separate from my male partner has really helped us keep a happy relationship, so I make sure I regularly make plans with the women in my life. But today I’m going to speak some personal truths about another type of ladies night that I value deeply: The girls’ night in.

The girls’ night in, whether with one friend or many, serves me well in so many ways, and it is for these reasons I strongly encourage other women out there to do the same.

It gives you much needed girl-time

There’s something about watching a romantic comedy with other females that makes it so much better. I think it’s the ability to laugh at like-mindedness and the fact that we may (or may not) identify with the movie’s characters. That, and my fiance really does not like the gushy stuff. So it goes, am I right?

Getting together with other women in an intimate setting does allow for more intimate conversation. Many of us are going through or will go through similar social, romantic, personal, financial, and career situations where we can find consolation and seek consultation from our peers. Women experience life differently than men do, and it’s really nice to be able to discuss life’s happenings with people who can relate and may have some pretty sound advice from a place of experience.

It’s a healthier environment

Someone’s home is likely going to be more comfortable and quiet than, say, a restaurant or bar. And even if you stock up on junk food (bring on the wine, cookies, and popcorn please!), it’s easier to make better, more healthful food choices where you know exactly what it is your eating. In fact, one of my best friends and I had a girls’ night in where we cooked a few Skinnytaste recipes. It was tasty, satisfying, and didn’t kill my diet.

It’s cheaper

Alcohol is expensive. Restaurants are expensive. Movie tickets are expensive. Professional manicures and pedicures are expensive. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

A rented movie, a DIY spa night, and splitting a grocery bill make the girls’ night in activity look way nicer on your credit card statement.

It’s good for the soul

At the end of the day, I am a big believer in the girls’ night in because it enriches my life in a way that no other activity really can. I can kick back, relax (something I do entirely too little of), and enjoy the company of the people around me without distraction. The ability to tune out the rather cruel and unusual world we live in for a few short hours has this detoxifying effect on my health that I can barely even scratch the surface of describing. When life is rough, or even when life is grand, it’s nice to spend time with my girlfriends and find joy in those moments.

When was your last girls’ night in? What did you do? Sound off in the comments!

3 Years of “Adulting”

Flashback to my college graduation photoshoot! So much has happened in my life since walking across that commencement stage. Oh, the feelings!

In May 2014, I graduated from the University of Florida. I didn’t have a job. But 3 weeks later, I was hired by the company that I worked for up until recently. In fact, June was my 3 year anniversary with my first employer, and this past month (July) I started with my new job!

I have grown so, so much in the last 3 years, both professionally and personally.

At work, I:

  • Got promoted to a new department (PPC, from being a writer)
  • Transitioned to a dual role, working as a social media specialist in addition to my role as a PPC Analyst
  • Made a lot of new friends, gained a lot of new skills, and developed valuable professional relationships
  • Got a new job as a Search Engine Marketing/ Digital Marketing Specialist

In my personal life, I:

  • Lived on my own
  • Lived with a roommate
  • Moved in with a significant other
  • Traveled to countless new states and cities, and even a new country
  • Tried new hobbies (such as running)
  • Met Sean
  • Got my anxiety disorder to a manageable place

It’s funny – on the day-to-day, I feel like I’ve gone nowhere in my personal journey. But when I really reflect and look back, I’ve done so much and I’m honestly impressed with myself.

I really made my life my own. I worked hard and in doing so I gained new skills that have allowed me to grow my career in marketing. In three years I had three different job functions, and then I recently took a giant leap and accepted a position now where my skill-set is only going to grow more. It’s exciting. But the best part? It was my own hard work that got me here. I have been presented opportunities, for sure, but I made them what they are. I earned it every step of the way. And that’s an empowering feeling.

The result of working hard – making money – let me do the thing I really wanted to do: travel. In the last three years I’ve gone to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, and New York. I also went on a cruise to Mexico and took a dreamy trip to France. Holy mileage, Batman!

And I did other things. I made a bunch of new friends that I couldn’t imagine my life without now. I ran 4 half marathons. I met the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. I found a therapist who really helped me find my happy place. You know, casual things that end up being the big things when you look back.

It’s been a good three years. I’m ready for the next three.

What are some of your accomplishments in the last 3 years? Did any positive life events happen for you, too? Sound off in the comments to spread some positivity!

 

St. Pete Eat – The Avenue

Living in the Tampa Bay Area, I have seriously sweeeeeeet access to delicious food.

I recently had the pleasure of going to a St. Pete must-try, The Avenue. This place has a funky, casual, and modern vibe. And the food – oh, the food. Honestly you could just stop reading this and go there right now. Just go. Now.

Here’s a photo of what I got:

Cal-Berkeley - The Avenue | St. Petersburg FL
This is the Cal-Berkeley burger. Try not to drool.

This is the Cal-Berkeley burger. It’s a beef burger topped with Swiss cheese, thick cut bacon, avocado and chipotle mayonnaise. It was tasty, and I ate every last bite. But let’s talk about the french fries! They were perfectly crispy, salty, and addictive – their salt-laden golden exterior does not deceive. I was in HEAVEN.

The rating:

Service – A+, our waitress was quick and efficient!

Food – A+,  would recommend and go again. Excellent flavor combos and the menu has variety that caters to special dietary needs, including my veggie friends.

Health – D, There’s nothing health-conscious on this menu! If greasy comfort food isn’t your thing, steer clear. But if you plan to go to town on a burger or some fun apps, this is soooo the place to be. Plus, full bar!

Basically, I cannot wait to go back. Being just a few blocks from the Rowdies stadium, I think I can predict a date in my future…

Have you been to The Avenue? Do you have another burger joint you recommend I try? Let me know below!

Please, Pardon My Dust

Family Celebration
Pictured is Sean, my brother and my cousin. We had a lot to celebrate – both me and my cousin got new jobs!

My pal Steph was kind enough to remind me that it’s been a VERY long while since my last post. It’s time I change that.

A lot of life has happened, and I owe it to myself to forgive me for the silence, and move on with a fresh restart.

In May, my younger brother moved in with me and stayed through the first weekend of July. It was great, and I love him dearly, but it was a lot and required adjustment. In June, I traveled to New York for a large family event, and at the very end of the month a most crazy thing happened – I got a new job. I really wasn’t looking; recruiters reach out from time to time via LinkedIn, and I ended up following through with some job interviews – and the first week of July I got two job offers! I took an offer with PODS, the moving and storage company, and this week was my first week!

Suffice to say, I’ve had a lot of action going on, and I’ve neglected taking care of myself: mind, body, and soul. I’ve kept up Pure Barre, but my healthy eating, purposeful me-time, and my new blog project all fell waist-side. This should have never happened, but it did. This post is my fresh start.

I have a lot of post ideas in my brain. The task of putting them together is a really daunting idea, though, so it may take me some time to truly deliver (I’m referring mostly to finally sharing more about my trip to France!). However, I know I’ll get to it as my life starts to settle into its new routine. And I am promising myself that I’ll write and post more regularly!

So, thanks for bearing with me. Life can be crazy and unpredictable, but it can be grand at the same time.

 

Friends Do France, Part 1 – Paris

France is a foodie paradise. I recently went on a blissful 9-day trip there with one of my all-time best friends, Jackie. The reason for our trip? Celebrating our beautiful friendship and celebrating her success in completing medical school and matching with a surgery residency program. Go Jackie go!

Jackie at her med school graduation! I AM SO PROUD OF THIS WOMAN.

Since our trip was so long and filled with exorbitant amounts of food, wine, and fun, I’m going to break up our trip into multiple parts! Starting, of course, with Paris!

Day 1: Paris

We were tired, we were hungry, and we were DETERMINED. Our first mission: eat delicious food.

…Which obviously meant a detour for our first sighting of the Eiffel Tower, which is actually really stunning.

Our first sighting of the Eiffel Tower.

Okay, THEN food.

The first restaurant of our time in France was this adorable little place not far from the tower. The waiter didn’t speak much English, but between our elementary French and his English we ended up ordering Riesling to drink (YUM), a tasty starter of a salad with Dijon mustard dressing served with baguette and melted goat cheese, and an entree featuring sausage served in a delicious sauce with mashed potatoes. Needless to say, we went from famished to full in that hour and a half lunch.

The salad with goat cheese melted on the baguette.
Sausage and mashed potatoes. YUM!

Then began sightseeing! We went to Musee Rodin (Augustus Rodin made the famous “Thinker” sculpture), Tuileries Gardens, and The Louvre. We rounded out our day by buying a picnic dinner and dining in the park beside the Eiffel Tower. It was a picturesque day!

The Thinker at Musee Rodin
Jackie and I at the Louvre!
Us in the gardens!
Our picnic! Nothing like cheese, bread, charcuterie and wine!

Day 2: Paris

We jumped right into sightseeing this morning. We started at the Catacombes de Paris, which unlike the catacombes in Rome, were very orderly and structured. We really enjoyed this experience.

In the Catacombes!
Yepp. Those are bones.

Then, we traveled to the Latin Quarter, which is famous for food. We went to the oldest cafe in the Latin Quarter, Le Procope, which has been functioning as a cafe since 1686. Holy smokes, was this place the jackpot of restaurants.

As one does, we began with wine. Then we proceeded with a 3 course meal: ravioli that just about melted in my mouth, a savory flank steak with baby potatoes, and creme brulee for dessert!

The ravioli I wish I could eat every day.
Flank steak with herb butter and baby potatoes.
My tasty creme brulee!

After food, sightseeing continued. Notre Dame (worth the wait to climb, by the way!) took me back a few hundred years. I got to see the bell towers, the STUNNING chapel, and I left wishing I could take a gargoyle back with me.

Notre Dame!
The view from the top of Notre Dame! (400 steps was the climb, in case you’re curious!)

After the Notre Dame, we had ice cream from Berthillon. So tasty and creamy!

Mmmmm… ice cream!

Post-sweet-treat, we trekked back to the Latin Quarter where we explored St. Etienne Du Mont (chapel that was stunning, located on the street where part of Midnight in Paris was filmed), found meringue cookies the size of our heads, the famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, and lots of stunning views of the Seine river. Our day was rounded out by a night viewing of the Eiffel Tower and crepes for dinner!

St Etienne Du Mont – not going to lie, I thought this inside of this chapel was prettier than Notre Dame.
I’d use the photo with Jackie’s head for scale reference, but she’d kill me.
I bought “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
It sparkles for five minutes every hour on the hour after sunset!

This rounds out part one of our France trip! Stay tuned for part two: Versailles and Disneyland Paris!

Have you been to Paris? What was your favorite sight? Do you want to go to Paris? Tell me why! Sound off in the comments!

Framing Failure

I’m going to lay it all out there – one of my greatest fears is the fear of failure. Words cannot express the gut-wrenching feeling I experience deep in my core when I perceive that I have disappointed someone or missed the mark on a task or made a mistake. It’s borderline soul-crushing for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Something I am working on internally is the way I view failure. Failure can either inhibit you or it can fuel a fire to do better, be better, next time. Failure can be negative, or it can be positive. For my whole life, I have seen failure as this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, thing. But I learned it doesn’t have to be.

Recently my boss was discussing the concepts of success and failure. What defines them, what makes them good or bad? In this conversation, I realized that it all has to do with frame of reference: where you are, where you’re coming from, and where you’re looking to go. There are no hard rules for what is a success and what is a failure. Then she said a magic word: opportunity. Something doesn’t have to be thought of as a failure. Instead, it can be an obstacle with an opportunity to overcome it. This was a major lightbulb-over-the-head moment for me. I don’t have to FAIL like I think of failing, a be-all-end-all. I can fail; I can hit an obstacle and look for the opportunity to overcome that obstacle.

This mini life lesson from the mouth of my boss is going to stick with me. When I feel like I‘ve failed, I plan on making a conscious effort to find the opportunity. To look forward, move on, let go. I currently struggle with that. But if I actively engage my mind and heart, maybe I can be better next time.

What are your biggest fears? What are you doing to overcome them? Sound off in the comments below!

Foodie Destination: Austin, TX

FRIENDS!

I know my hiatus was long, but your girl has been doing a SERIOUS amount of traveling (and eating, and drinking…). As a result, I have so many bar and foodie adventures to share with you! So let me get to business.

Sean and I are definitely a foodie couple. Our travels together thus far have centered around finding great breweries and unique eateries. Our trip to Austin, Texas, to celebrate his birthday in early April fell right in line with that.

Austin, the capital city of Texas, is this perfect little progressive and hip oasis in an otherwise conservative state. Located in Texas’s hill country, the scenery is beyond gorgeous. We visited Hamilton Pool, a natural pool that developed due to erosion and a collapsed underground river dome thousands of years ago, and that was breathtaking. We also spend some quality time walking the trails around Lady Bird Lake – there is no shortage of outdoorsy activities here. But the real reason Sean and I went to Austin? BARBECUE. And lots of it!

So without further ado, I share with you all the foodie adventures of Bri and Sean!

Day 1:

The first thing we did when we stepped off the plane was head to a brewery that Sean spotted OUT THE WINDOW of our plane while landing. That brewery turned out to be Live Oak Brewery, which has this outrageous outdoor area that’s perfect for enjoying a cold beer on a sunny day. Which is what we did. Best hefeweizen I have had to date.

Live Oak Brewery
This is me and my hefeweizen at Live Oak!

Then, based on the recommendation of Sean’s pal, we headed to Bangers, which was the funkiest restaurant and bar! Aptly named, the joint served gourmet sausage sandwiches with creative toppings. I had the banger of the day, which had asparagus, mushrooms, and a tasty aioli among other toppings. But the coolest part about this place was the bar itself. It boasted the largest tap in the state, with 96 taps of beer. And the waiters could not have been more funky and friendly. We had a blast here.

The tap at Bangers in Austin, TX!
My banger! This thing was tasty!

And then, we went to our hotel and passed out from our food coma.

Day 2:

We started our day nice and early to visit Round Rock Donuts, which was featured on Adam Richman’s show on the Travel Channel, Man VS. Food. THESE DONUTS YOU GUYS. They like, actually melted in our mouths. SO. RIDICULOUSLY. GOOD. Also, they are famous for their “Texas-sized” donuts and cinnamon roll. I snapped a picture. Regular size donuts for reference.

These are the donuts at Round Rock Donuts. Like…look at the size difference!

After a nature break to visit Hamilton Pool, we went to get ourselves on the wait list at Salt Lick Barbecue (the original location in Driftwood). This was also featured on Adam’s show, and for good reason. I had a rather euphoric experience whilst eating the burnt ends. No joke.

This plate got demolished by yours truly!
I could NOT believe how good this food was.

We also visited a few breweries today, the most notable being Jester King Brewery. I would describe this place as like a brewery mecca. The grounds were STUNNING, as it is located on these rolling farmlands. They’ve taken advantage of this by setting up a massive outdoor seating area complete with picturesque string lights and chandeliers hanging from trees. I had a blast, and a stranger let me hold their puppy.

Need I say more?
Me and my beer at Jester King Brewery!

We wrapped up our day by grabbing dinner at In N Out, my first experience at this famed California-based fast food joint! This chain and Whataburger (which is actually Texas-based) were all over the place, so we knew we had to eat there. I got my burger and my fries “animal style”, and I have no regrets.

Animal Style, Baby!

And then another early night passing out due to food coma. We are a really exciting young couple.

Day 3:

We did the thing, you guys. We got up nice and early, and got in line for the super famous Franklin Barbecue (If Anthony Bourdain says it’s good…it’s gotta be good). At 8:30 in the morning, the line was already to the back of their lot…they don’t open until 11! We made it into the restaurant and ordered our food at 12:45. We were eating by 12:50. Was it worth the 4+ hours of waiting? YES. YES IT WAS.

The brisket, though.
I get why Anthony Bourdain likes this place.

The rest of our day entailed more breweries. I snapped this gorgeous photo at our final brewery of the day, St. Elmo.

Sadly, no beer named “St. Elmo’s Fire”

Day 4:

Our last day. We had one more foodie stop, another Adam Richman find: Juan in a Million. Adam had an epic failure while attempting their eating challenge, which is basically eating as many of their famous Don Juan Grande breakfast tacos as you can. We had to meet this taco.

Guys. This taco was EPIC. It was one pound of eggs, bacon, potatoes, and cheese among other ingredients all on a tortilla. It was SO GOOD. SO SO GOOD.

This taco…I can’t. It was just too good.

The rest of our day was spent walking around downtown Austin to help digest this epic taco. We explored the State Capitol building, and took our time meandering around the University of Texas campus.

All in all, I SUPER recommend Austin as a long weekend trip. It was by far one of my favorite cities I have had the pleasure of visiting, and I can’t wait to go back!

What’s your favorite city that you’ve visited? Why do you travel? Sound off in the comments below!