16 Lessons from 2016

As the year [finally] comes to a close this weekend, I thought I’d share 16 lessons I learned from 2016:

  1. Adversity comes in many forms.
  2. You can’t please everyone, so follow your own path.
  3. Success is subjective, but not relative.
  4. Support those who support you.
  5. Give without expecting to receive.
  6. Communication is still key even in confrontation.
  7. Show your friends and family you appreciate them.
  8. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
  9. Embrace vulnerability.
  10. Continue to be kind, but don’t let others take advantage of your kindness.
  11. Life hardly goes according to plan and that’s okay.
  12. Letting go, in every way, is healthy and necessary.
  13. Relationships change because people change, but change is good.
  14. Personal growth is a cycle, so soak in the sunshine and weather the storms.
  15. Say yes more.
  16. The longest relationship you’ll ever be in is with yourself–cater to it.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday and please be safe this New Year’s Eve.


xx, AE

What’s in My Carry-on?

First, I think it’s important to point out that WE ARE ONE WEEK FROM CHRISTMAS!

Anyway, seeing that it is peak travel time as said holiday is coming up, I thought I would share some of the things I usually pack in my carry-on. I have done a lot of traveling this year, especially on short weekend trips, so I feel that I have mastered the necessities of the carry-on.
My most recent trip was last month to L.A. for a weekend and as a personal challenge, I managed to achieve minimal packing. It was one of the most difficult things I have tried because I do not pack light. If you’re interested in a post about minimal packing, I can certainly do that, but for now, I will stick to how I pack my carry-on when I have a checked bag. Let’s get into it!

1. Shoes

If you know me well, you know that shoes are my priority. I use my shoes as my base so my clothes don’t get bent out of shape. Aside from the pair of shoes that I wear to the airport, I always pack a pair of heels and a pair of transitional shoes, or shoes that can be worn casually and formally in the event you don’t get time to change before going somewhere. To kill two birds with one stone, one of those pairs usually doubles as my heaviest pair of shoes so I can save weight in my checked bag.

2. Bottoms

So from my minimal packing challenge, I learned that more often than not, you don’t need more than two pairs of pants for a trip that is less than a week. Regardless of what climate I’m traveling to, I always pack a pair of black jeans without rips for the same reason I carry transitional shoes. Besides not wanting to be the person who prevents the group from getting into a nice place because I’m dressed too casually, black jeans also just go with everything.

3. Tops/Jackets

This one is a bit of a curve ball. If you’re like me, you usually wear the same shirts and jackets over and over, but convince yourself that while you’re on vacation you will need options for each day “just in case.” Even though I have yet to break out of this strange mindset, I always make sure that at least the top I pack in my carry-on is one I know I will wear. This allows me to have at least one complete outfit that I know I will be comfortable in. And if I happen to bring multiple jackets, like my shoes I pack the heaviest one in my carry-on, or I likely just wear it in the airport since I’m always cold anyway.

4. Personal care products

I don’t need to get into general toiletries considering that should be second-nature to most people. When it comes to things like makeup, nail polish, etc., however, I always pack these in my carry-on. Why? Well, otherwise you’re at risk of having your stuff broken because checked luggage literally gets tossed around. I of course do a process of elimination from my collection because I don’t want to have to go through all of my liquids at security. In the last year and a half, I have yet to have my bag inspected. I also recently started carrying those single-pack face masks to rejuvenate my skin after a flight–re-circulated air is not cute!

5. Tech

Okay, I usually carry my laptop and chargers in my tote-sized purse or backpack so technically it’s not my carry-on, but I thought I would throw this one in here. I like to keep my  various cords and my laptop in separate pockets if possible. If I do have to put things in the same pocket as my laptop, I make sure it’s something flat and skinny like a notebook so it won’t affect how my laptop fits in my bag. Even though there’s obviously no time limit on how quickly you need to repack your belongings post-security, the atmosphere and other potential factors make me feel rushed and I just like to be able to slide my laptop back where it was without having to readjust everything else in my bag.

This concludes what’s in my carry on! I left out certain things (e.g. underwear, toiletries, small personal items) because they’re just those things that are generally understood and handled. I hope that y’all gained a tip or two about packing efficiently even if it’s not light packing. And for anyone who is traveling this holiday season, I hope that you have a safe journey!! ❤

xx, AE


M-Town Turnaround

M-Town Turnaround

We may as well give a name to these short visits in Memphis.

As of today, I have been back in the states for a week. It feels like more time has passed, but I also feel like that stills gives me an acceptable window of time to relax and recuperate. It was all of four days before I had to pack another bag for this short weekend trip. It’s amazing really how these trips keep getting shorter, but the drive keeps getting longer. There’s not much to report since I spent the entire time visiting with family–especially, my grandma–but I managed to get a couple of shots from when we were out and about.

This was roughly 30 seconds before that dark cloud came our way and started a complete downpour!

Much like Dallas, I haven’t really explored Memphis because I’m always with family. As I’ve gotten older and had some traveling experience, I was interested to see what attracts people to Memphis. Obviously Beale Street is the place to go, but you can also explore many historic museums such as: the National Civil Rights Museum, the Stax Museum, Graceland, Rock ‘n Soul Museum, and, of course, the Blues Hall of Fame. There is also the new Bass Pro shop/lodge in the infamous pyramid by the Hernando de Soto bridge. It sounds weird, but it’s actually really cool inside and they have an observation deck where you can view downtown or the bridges on the Mississippi. Memphis is a pretty cool place to visit if you’re looking for a short weekend trip in the south!

xx, AE

Week of Wonders

Week of Wonders

The main question among my program-mates (?) this week has been, “Why did you decide to come to London?”

While we all had various reasons, we all agreed that we mainly wanted to travel and experience something new. This became a segue into a conversation about the significance and impact of traveling. We agreed that, beyond the financial component and other circumstances that may prevent people from traveling, we couldn’t imagine a life without traveling now that we have done it. Yes, London itself is not new for me, but I am constantly discovering new things in this grand city.
My roommate, Colleen, and I visited an exhibit this week by Yayoi Kusama titled “sculptures, paintings & mirror rooms.” It’s amazing how tiny rooms of mirrors can not only draw crowds, but also create such beautiful imagery. This exhibition is on a random street near Angel which only makes it feel that much cooler and somewhat exclusive. That’s one of the things that I love most about this city–there’s always something to do or see. Something is always ‘on’. Continue reading “Week of Wonders”

Adventure Awaits

Adventure Awaits

First, I’d like to apologize for staying MIA when I said that I wouldn’t…twice. The time off from blogging and posting has exceeded the 21-day limit which means it feels like more of a habit now than a choice. But now that I am no longer living out of a suitcase or dealing with paperwork, I can stop, breathe and share.

As expected, I spent my first week here doing touristy thing with my brother: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Leicester Square, pubs, Hyde Park, markets, you name it. The sun sets by 10 p.m. and rises right before 5 a.m. so it feels like the days can go on forever while the nights are so short. It really put us in a bind with staying on time for our plans, but I love the feeling of long days, no matter how exhausting.
Tower of LondonIMG_3876
Trafalgar SquareIMG_3904
Tower BridgeIMG_3906
Madam Butterfly at London Coliseum
Big BenIMG_3870IMG_3871
This second week, I started my internship while my brother headed over to Barcelona. My internship hasn’t consisted of much to report, but I have been taking advantage of said late sunsets. Staying out after work makes my time here feel more concrete rather than waiting for the weekend to enjoy myself. I feel like a real Londoner (not to mention, my work day doesn’t start until 9:30 a.m. so I have the luxury of staying out later).
The week flew by with Cameron not being around. We saw each other once more for his last night in London yesterday. We ended the weekend by revisiting Oxford Street, stopping by the MI6 building, and taking in an aerial view of the city from Sky Garden. I am so glad to have been able to create these memories with my brother that will last a lifetime. Next time we will be even more prepared and I look forward to traveling together again.
MI6 Building
IMG_3894Returning to London was equally everything I imagined and nothing I imagined. I thought once I boarded the tube from Heathrow, I would feel this sense of nostalgia and that I would be even more overwhelmed with emotion once I rose above ground. However, I didn’t feel anything at all. Aside from the stress I inflict upon myself to make sure all the T’s are crossed and all the I’s are dotted, I see now that I didn’t feel nostalgia because it still feels so familiar. Even as I type this, it doesn’t really feel like I’m here. It’s a recognizably different feeling than any other because I feel like I’m somewhere between fantasy and reality. The amount of memories I made here last year in a short span of four months makes me feel both attached and detached because it’s not my home, but it feels like it is. Granted, I’ve been preoccupied with many, many other things to really stop and smell the roses, but in the quiet moments of walking through the streets, it feels like I belong. I’m so glad to be back 🙂

xx, AE

LA For a Day

LA For a Day

First, I switched fonts again! Moving on:

I was so excited to return to my second home this weekend, but my plans came to a complete halt when I had to be rolled over onto a later flight with a longer flight time. Of course the one place I needed to fly to made me experience the woes of standby, right? Upon arrival to LA, unfortunately there was a car accident at LAX which, combined with post-5pm traffic, kept me at the airport for nearly an hour.
Now I know I always talked about how much I didn’t want to live in LA, and, after Friday night, that is still true. I really missed my friends though, so I can’t say I wasn’t bummed to find out I literally had 24 hours in the city. However, I was able to salvage some of my time and spend time with a few amazing friends! Continue reading “LA For a Day”