The Goal Shebang

I have never really been one to set a New Year Resolution for myself. I mean, yeah, I typically will go with the generic “Oh, I am going to start working out and get really fit!” But then January turns in to February which turns in to March, then April, then May and guess what? I still haven’t done much, if anything, in the realm of eating healthier or exercising.  Despite my previous motivations (or lack thereof), I do intend to start working out and eating better this year. I just turned 30 and I became sober, so I feel like now is a great time to start working on being healthier. If I was able to give up alcohol, it should be easy to start hitting the gym a bit, right?

Aside from that, I do have other goals that I hope to accomplish in 2020. I am going to call them goals rather than resolutions because it seems like resolutions get dropped way faster. I think most of the time people (including myself) treat their resolutions like a sprint when it should be more like a marathon. We have that “I want it all and I want it NOW” mentality and that just tends to hurt us more than help us. We have all heard the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” This applies to most resolutions and goals, as well! Small changes are easier to accomplish because they aren’t as intimidating as remodeling your entire life overnight. I also believe that a big issue with resolutions is that we know what we want but not WHY we want it. You want to get fit, lose weight, be healthier, stop smoking, stop drinking… but WHY is that goal important to you? The more specific you can make your goal the better because it causes it to be more vivid in your mind. This then leads to you being more encouraged and more likely to succeed. Also, framing your goal more positively can help. For example: instead of saying “don’t eat junk food,” we should be wording this more positively, like “eat vegetables and fruit as a healthy snack.”

Other ways to be successful with resolutions/goal setting:

Set realistic goals for yourself; ones that CAN be accomplished. It is much better to succeed at a smaller, manageable resolution than to fail at a larger, unrealistic one.

Be honest with yourself; don’t waste time setting goals just because you think you should. If it isn’t something you sincerely want to achieve, forget about it. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

Believe in yourself! Congratulate yourself when you make progress. There is a grey area when it comes to tackling goals. Most people view everything in black and white; either you achieved your goal, or you have failed. If you have gotten half-way, then you have made progress and should feel good about that!

Kill yourself with kindness. We always support our friends by offering kindness, praise, and positivity, but we don’t tend to speak to ourselves that way. Commit to offering that same compassion to yourself!

 Recruit someone else to join you. If you tend to have better success when you have outside support, then have someone join you on your journey. This creates accountability and inspiration. Just make sure your buddy is a positive force in your life and not a negative one.

With all of that in mind, I plan on trying to better myself in a few ways this coming year. Below is my list of the goals I hope to accomplish in 2020.

My 2020 Goals:

Work out and eat better.
I already mentioned it, so I will just go ahead and start off with this one. To be more successful than in the past with this one, I plan to go slowly and realize that progress doesn’t happen overnight. It’s too hard for me to change all of my habits with the snap of a finger, so I plan on setting a small goal and then once I complete that, I will set another one, and then another, until I am where I want to be. Then my goal will be to maintain!

 Read more.
I have already started this one, but plan on continuing through 2020. I have recently been into psychological thriller/horror books and have read 3 over the past month and have started a 4th (House of Leaves by MZD, which is pretty crazy and once I am finished I will most likely write a review for it). I have been seeing posts on Reddit from others around the world who are setting goals to read a certain number of books in a year. Some people have been ambitious enough to state that they want to read 100 books in 2020! As cool as that would be, I know that isn’t a realistic goal for me. I will commit to reading AT LEAST 20 books in 2020. This will give me around 2 and a half weeks per book. Realistically, I should be able to complete more than 20 in a year, but by setting a smaller goal, I should be able to accomplish it. And reading 20 in a year is much more than I have read in that period of time since I was in middle school!

Be more grateful and practice mindfulness.
Some studies show that gratefulness can improve your happiness by 25%! It can also help improve your sleep, romantic relationships, and friendships. Here is a link to some gratitude exercises that I plan to try regularly.
 Mindfulness, according to dictionary.com, is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It refers to a state that is achieved by focusing on one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations (used as a therapeutic technique). It has been proven that by practicing mindfulness, one can improve well-being, physical health, and mental health. Melissa Heisler states in an article on HuffPost “When we are not mindful, we speak without thinking. We allow our emotions to get out of control. We are worrying about the future or regretting the past. We feel the victim of circumstances, events, and others. Without mindfulness, we are a two-year-old child. We cry when our needs are not met. We don’t understand cause and effect. We expect others to take care of us. We can’t see past obstacles. We are powerless and overly emotional. When you are mindful each action, word, and thought are conscious. Being mindful means taking responsibility for what we are thinking, saying, and doing – and if it is not the experience we want, we change it.” Here are some mindfulness techniques that I am going to incorporate into my life.

Write and create more.
I started this blog because I have wanted to for such a long time. I finally did it and have committed myself to writing at least once or twice a month. I figured that I would probably start out slow but eventually, I want to post more regularly. I don’t want to set myself up for failure by pushing myself too hard, so I plan on leaving this goal slightly vague. I just plan to write MORE. Writing for me is very therapeutic. I love creative writing. Poetry, short stories, descriptive narratives, songs… I definitely plan on working on some more creative writing this year! I also love other forms of art, as well. I want to start making more crafts, painting, doing DIY projects, and hopefully even learn how to build things (with Chad’s help most likely). I also want to start using my video camera to take and create more videos!

This is actually a picture I created with spray paint!

Save more.
Yes, I am referring to money. This one is a tough one for me. I used to be a saver, back in the day. Not so much anymore. The thing is, I LOVE to travel. And the only way I can travel is if I have some money saved up. I haven’t quite worked out what kind of plan I want to use to tackle this goal, but I know that by not consuming alcohol, I should easily be able to save more money than I used to. So that’s a good start! I am still doing some research on good plans to save money because I want to set the goal of going to Iceland for 2021, so if you have any good ideas that have worked for you or someone you know, please let me know!

Continue to stay sober.
Our goals don’t have to be something completely new! Becoming sober has been a newer decision for me (two months down) but struggling with addiction is a lifelong hurdle to jump. I vow to stay clean for all of 2020. This is a realistic goal for me because I have already seen the positive effects that just two months of being sober has had on my mental health, productivity levels, and personal relationships. I didn’t even mention how awesome my internal organs are probably feeling! I have decided that I would rather go through life sober and knowing that I am an alcoholic than in a drunken stupor, denying that I have a problem. One day at a time.

 What kinds of resolutions or goals do you have for 2020? These can be goals that you plan to accomplish sometime during the year or by the end of the year, or they can be things you just plan on starting on in the upcoming year. Comment below and let me know what you plan on working on! Also, if you have a plan to accomplish these intentions, talk about that, too!

My Top 5 Travel Bucket List

I have had serious wanderlust since I can remember. It has always been my dream to travel the world. Growing up, I was fascinated with far away places. Pictures from history books, descriptions from fiction books that I was reading, and posts online about these extraordinary places in this beautiful world had me longing to see it all in person.

I didn’t do much travelling while I was still in high school. I have family in Ohio, so most of our “vacations” were taken there. My family did go to Disney World once, but I was sick the entire time. I also used to go to Ocean City, MD with my boyfriend’s (at the time) family in the summers.

It wasn’t until college that I really got my first taste of travelling. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the honor’s program at my university. This group of students got the benefit of going on a trip each semester that was completely paid for! Our first trip was to New York City. It was a blast! We ate at some really amazing restaurants, stayed in a really nice hotel, and saw some of the main attractions while there. We stopped at the memorial for the twin towers. I have actually been there 2 more times since and it is still a very surreal experience. One of my favorite parts was the New York Public Library, where we got to see ORIGINAL works from Thackeray, Blake, Dickinson, and many more. We checked out the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the top of the Empire State building, and rode a ferry out to Ellis Island where we got some close up views of the Statue of Liberty. As I have said, I have been to NYC two additional times (once as a gift from an employer and once for my sister’s birthday) and have loved it every time!

Here you can see the view from the top of the Empire State building, the actual hand drawn illustration for Vanity Fair by Thackeray, the Statue of Liberty, and a random night shot of a street in NYC.

My second trip through the school’s honor program was to Chicago. I was especially excited about this because my dad was stationed at the Navy Pier there when he was in the Navy and I thought it would be super neat to see it. We also ate amazing food in Chicago. We checked out the Science Museum, a really fun play called “Superior Donuts,” the Frederick C. Robie house (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), the Navy Pier, and the Bean! I have also been to Chicago one other time and saw most of the same sights but added the top of the John Hancock Center to my list. Oh, and I even got to see Rick Bayless at his restaurant the Frontera Grill!

Here you can see some shots of the Navy pier, the bean, and a random night shot of a bridge.

My most exciting trip while with the honor’s program in college actually wasn’t either of these. I had the opportunity to go to Italy and Greece for two weeks and have two-thirds of the cost paid for. When I say I worked my ass off the summer before in order to save money for this trip, I really mean it! I saved every dollar I could and eventually I was able to make my portion of the payment and secure my spot on this trip overseas. I had never flown on a plane before so my nerves were a little shot but I sucked it up and made the trek. We landed in Rome and explored for a bit. We saw the Pantheon, Campo de Fiori, and Piazza Navona (I was super excited to see the obelisk there because I was obsessed with the book Angels & Demons). I was so exhausted by the end of the day because of the time change that I passed right out. We spent two more days in Rome where we visited the Coliseum, the Roman Forum (where Julius Caesar was killed), Castel Sant’Angelo and the Tiber river, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum (where I actually took pictures inside the Sistine Chapel even though we weren’t supposed to), and the Trevi fountain.

The Pantheon, the obelisk in Piazza Navona, The Coliseum, the Roman Forum, and part of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

We also explored Pompeii and climbed to the top of Mt. Vesuvius – the volcano that erupted and wiped out the city below. We stayed in Sorrento, which was one of the most beautiful cliff side towns I had ever seen and then we took an overnight ferry to Greece!

Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.

While in Greece, we climbed to the top of the Temple of Delphi, saw Olympic Stadium, and experienced Athens and the Parthenon. Before my trip, I was most excited for Italy, probably because it seems to be more talked about and popular than Greece. During and after my trip, though, I fell in LOVE with Greece. The gorgeous landscapes, lovely beaches, and extremely friendly people made it a very likable place.

Delphi, Olympic Stadium, the Parthenon in Athens, and our Honors Group!

After we were done in Greece, we took a 3 day cruise to a few different islands in the area. Stops included Mykonos, Kusadasi (which is actually in Turkey), Crete, Patmos, and Santorini. I rode a dag-gone donkey up the side of the mountain in Santorini! That was an experience that I am glad I lived through to tell! I was so scared (haha everyone on the trip made fun of me after but I swear my donkey tried to kill me)! This trip gave me a two week taste of just a small part of the world and that’s when the wanderlust bug REALLY decided to bite me.

Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi, Santorini and the possessed donkeys!

I have been to a few other places which I will detail in their own posts and will continue to write about any place that I do get the chance to visit. But right now, I want to talk about the top 5 places that I NEED to visit! Like, ASAP. Check out my list and then leave some comments for other suggestions or tell me about some of your favorite trips! By the way, when I finally decided to try to make this list I went into panic mode a bit. How can I pick only 5 destinations when I really want to see the entire world?

5. Macchu Picchu, Peru
I remember seeing some very stunning pictures of Macchu Picchu way back in the day and I have been rather fascinated with it ever since. If you would like some super detailed information from someone that has gone to Macchu Picchu, check out this blog. Macchu Picchu was designed and built by 15th century Inca rulers. It is surrounded by towering Andean peaks which I am sure will definitely cause me to have to catch my breath when I finally do lay my eyes upon the spectacle in person.

Just look how gorgeous! Macchu Picchu, Peru. Photo Credit – Trace Hudson

4. Seattle, Washington & Denver, Colorado
I chose both of these for number 4 because I really couldn’t choose which one I wanted to visit more. I have no clue why but I have always felt that I would absolutely love it in Seattle. I don’t mind the rain and the mood of the city just seems like it would be right up my alley. There are also plenty of hiking trails and mountains in the area, too. Same with Denver! My main reason for wanting to go to Denver is for the hiking, but I have seen so many breathtaking pictures and have heard so many amazing stories about the city that I really just want to explore ALL that it has to offer.

Seattle, Washington. Photo Credit – Chait Goli
Somewhere in Colorado. Amazing mountains and colors! Photo credit – Pixabay

3. Yosemite, California
I know, it seems kind of silly that I am picking quite a few places that are in my own country. But hey! I haven’t seen any of these locations and they are probably a more realistic destination for me as far as affordability goes. I have actually been to a very beautiful part of California (Monterey, which I will detail in another post eventually) and was rather upset with myself for not finding the time to be able to explore around the Yosemite area while I was out there. As you can tell by my previous destination picks, I love to hike. I love mountains and waters and the splendor of nature. Seeing pictures of Yosemite is awe-inspiring enough. I can’t imagine getting to experience it in person. Here is a good blog that gives great examples of plenty of things to check out while in the area.

I am terrified of heights but I would give anything to be able to be atop these rock formations. Photo Credit – Mohamed Almari

2. Norway
And basically anywhere in Norway. I couldn’t tell you how many pictures and videos I have seen of Norway that have made me really desire to go there. The gorgeous green hills, the cute little fishing towns by the sea, the amazing wilderness, and the chance to see the Northern Lights? Sign me up! Here is a great post that details 23 different itineraries to get you started if you want to sight see in Norway.

Adorable! Vagan, Norway. Photo Credit – Tobias Bjorkli

And drumroll please!


1. Iceland
Words cannot express how much I desire to travel to Iceland. I am so obsessed that I’ve joined groups on Facebook and Instagram that are made for people wanting more information on traveling specifically to Iceland. This country is my ultimate destination and I plan on going as soon as I can save up the money for it. Ideally, I would want to take a fairly long vacation so that I could see as many sights as I can that Iceland has to offer. It would be awesome to rent a camper van and just drive around Ring Road, making stops at all of the amazing spots along the way. Ring Road goes all the way around the country of Iceland, so one could start in Reykjavik (which is most likely where the plane would touch down) and go either East or West and see the entire splendor of Iceland, then eventually end up back in Reykjavik to board a plane and go home. Iceland is known for its gorgeous waterfalls, Northern Lights most of the year, colorful beaches, and hot springs. It is also known to be one of the safest countries in the entire world. I cannot wait to go here! And I promise to make a post after I finally do! Here is a list of some things that you do not want to miss if you get the chance to go to Iceland!

Northern Lights in Iceland. Photo Credit – Simon Migaj
Cute town in Iceland. Photo Credit – Mark Neal
Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland. Photo Credit – Pixabay
Gorgeous greenery! Photo Credit – Rudolph Kirchner

It was extremely difficult for me to choose only 5 destinations, because I seriously am not joking when I say that I want to see the entire world! What’s your ultimate travel bucket list? Where do you REALLY long to go? Have you gone to any of the places that I have on my list? What are some tips and advice that you might have for someone travelling to these destinations? What has been your favorite trip that you have already taken? Thanks for reading and let’s chat in the comments below!

Getting to Know Me

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

I have always wanted to start a blog. I love to write. I also love to travel, cook, play video games, DIY, participate in and watch sports, sing, take photos and videos, and drink beer! I remember, ages ago, I tried starting a blog. I was a young kid with a passion for writing but no discipline for forcing myself to actually make posts regularly. I have recently been searching for some sort of life purpose. I am not entirely sure that writing about my experiences and passions on a blog will constitute as fulfilling a life purpose but I feel like it’s a decent start.

My name is Jade and thanks for coming to my blog! In general, I would say this blog would be categorized as a lifestyle blog. I mean, that’s probably the easiest category to throw yourself into in order to be able to post basically anything you want, right? I plan on focusing mostly on travel and food, as those are two things that I am extremely passionate about.

My wanderlust is out of this world. Seriously, I would go to Mars if given the opportunity! I want to see everything and anything. I have traveled a bit (both solo and in groups) and I plan on definitely detailing my trips here. There is still so much more out there to experience and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Cooking is easily another love of mine. I didn’t start cooking until I was about 22 or 23. My Mom was severely sick from cancer and I wanted to help out any way that I could. Prior to this, I HATED cooking. I was like “Okay, you’re hungry? I can make you some cereal or some Ramen. What are you feeling?” I started looking up recipes on Pinterest so I could help out by feeding my family (my Aunt had come to stay with us to help out, too). The first recipe that I ever tried was an Italian stuffed peppers dish and OH MY GOODNESS, let me tell you…. It was amazing. From then on, I became obsessed with making delicious food and eventually even began coming up with my own dishes! I would love to share some of my favorite recipes with you!

My main focus will be on Travel and Food, but that doesn’t define my life. I want to share all of my experiences with you, from playing video games, to taking care of my pet rats, to singing karaoke, to doing some DIY home decor, to even discussing some things in life that can be a little messy and sometimes hard to talk about. I am extremely excited about starting this adventure. I hope you will join me!