LESSONS FROM THE LAST YEAR - THINGS I'VE LEARNED SINCE TURNING 30

There is a birthday tradition of looking back over the last year to highlight some lesson learned.  Thirty-two was an interesting year.  I felt like I was on cruise control the entire year. No significant highs or lows; just a steady pace and it made me very uncomfortable waiting for the next major thing (which did not happen). I embraced the steady pace and picked up some wisdom along the way. 

LIVE UNAPOLOGETICALLY. There is something the thirties age bracket that sets you free from caring about the irrelevant opinions. This year, I fully embraced the idea of living apologetically and not needing to justify myself. Part of that came with a realization that as long as I apologize for or continuously justify my life and/or travels (as though it were something to be ashamed of), I devalue it and cannot expect anyone else to give value to it. I had a mental shift this year to focus on seeking justice, loving mercy and serving God with humility. As long as I am striving for and living that daily, I choose to live unapologetically.

SETTING BOUNDARIES. "Don't let their lack of planning, become your emergency." Those words started me down the part of setting boundaries.  Saying no to people in my life was unthinkable even when fulfilling their (mostly last minute) request put me under immense stress and pressure. The last year has been about standing up for my time; setting boundaries; keeping and communicating those boundaries. Whether I am making myself inaccessible at certain times of day or saying no (especially to last minute requests) within reason, my stress levels have been at an all time low. 

IMPORTANCE OF BEING HEALTHY. I spent the better part of a year in and out of doctor and specialist offices. Just when I thought it was over, I had about six months of high blood pressure stemming in part from not setting boundaries and a few unhealthy habits. As soon as I started feeling better it was time for major changes in diet and lifestyle. The goal was no longer weight loss; it was cultivating a healthy lifestyle. With that mindset shift, I find going to the gym less of a chore and learning to make healthy food choices (most of the time) is much easier.

IMPORTANCE OF MEANINGFUL COMMUNITY. Lately, I have been thinking of that old country song - "You find out who your friends are Somebody's gonna drop everything Run out and crank up their car Hit the gas get their fast Never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far.' They just show on up with their big old heart You find out who your friends are." One thing that creeps up on you in this stage of lie - the transitions (both good and bad). From starting a family; dealing with loss; divorce; becoming first time parents; caring for ailing parents/children and significant others. The quality (not the quantity) our relationships becomes what matters most. The right tribe is what sees us through the (difficult) transitions. A connection much deeper than the social media likes and follows. A tribe that celebrates the wins and sits with you in the losses. A tribe that shows up in the moments of transitions with no expectation of recognition. I am incredibly humbled by the kindness and love of the tribe I have found this past year.

IMPORTANCE OF SPENDING WISELY. After years of trying and loads of (failed) financial planning efforts, I decided this was the year to get my finances in order; get out of debt and save more.  I took practical steps to make it happen. No insane spreadsheets or weird financial planning; just good ole fashioned discipline; avoiding swiping the credit card unless the funds were available to pay off (immediately); and focusing on the needs, not the want. Those practical steps have gotten me a lot closer to my financial goals than anything else. 

MUDSMITH - [THE PORTLAND | GRACE GUIDE] // DALLAS

Mudsmith ! 

I love this place. Before I visited, I read up reviews on google and one, in particular, caught my attention. I credit it for the reason I set foot in Mudsmith. The review read "If Wes Anderson owned a coffee shop, it would look like this." That was all the prompting I needed to visit this coffee/bar hybrid (those seem to be popping up everywhere). It did not disappoint with its quirky interior decor and walls lined with world maps and stuffed antlers

If you want a place to get work done or meet up with friends; have a fab meal and excellent beverage, then might I recommend Mudsmith as it delivers on all those points. The atmosphere is quirky, comfortable and inviting. I find myself spending hours here hunched over my laptop, flanked by a cortado and the avocado smash and egg toast. I am a huge fan of their specialty coffee menu especially the Iced mint mocha and mudslinger. If you want something stronger than coffee they have got you covered.

Mudsmith

Location: 2114 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

Hours: 6am to 11pm

This is NOT a sponsored post.; just a foodie's opinion.

THE CATHEDRAL OF GRANADA // ANDALUSIA , SPAIN

The only thing I knew about Granada was the Alhambra. When we started planning our trip - I insisted, if we did nothing else - we had to go to Granada to tour the Alhambra. We arrived in Granada on Tuesday morning just after 9 a.m. Our tickets to get into the Royal Palace at the Alhambra was not until 3 p.m. - we had six hours to kill. The Granada cathedal was recommended by one of the ladies at the tourism office and we grudgingly agreed on that for our morning. Little did we know the cathedral will lasting impression  - making our time in Granada one of the most rewarding of our south of spain excursion. 

Having had the good fortune to see a few cathedrals in Italy and France, the cathedral of Granada still ranks amongest my top three cathedrals in the world. Located in the heart of the city, this cathedral has been around since the late 16th century and was one of the ones completed after the kingdom of Granada left the hands of muslim leaders. From the outside, it seems unassuming; we walked in with some caution because the simple outside facade is no indication of the breathtaking interior and details paying hommage to the Spanish renaissance style and baroque architecture. From the wall lined with beautiful stained glass to the high ceilings and Corthian columns. The grand altar and the massive gold organ pipes that flank the interior columns make this a must for your Granada itinerary. Just take a look

Entrance fee is about 5 euro (includes an audio guide). Entry is restricted during mass. From the Granada train station, cab to the cathedral costs about five euros.

FLOWER CHILD RESTAURANT // DALLAS - [#SHAREDALLAS]

Lovers of healthy; yummy; guilt-free meals - REJOICE!  Flower child is the place we have been waiting for.

There is a place that serves up the most delicious healthy food I have ever hadIf all healthy food tasted and looked like what they serve up at flower child, I will never have a problem with my diet. The menu has organic; gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.

The first time I stopped by flower child was at lunch time on a weekday and the lines were out the door (granted it was Good Friday), but for a place that has been opened for over a month, I was surprised to see the long lines. I  had an after lunch appointment so I gave up waiting after fifteen minutes in the queue with plans to return another day.

Thankfully, I did not have to wait long. The next day, I found myself in the neighborhood around the same time I was beginning to feel peckish. I ordered the early riser bowl and one of the seasonal lemonade offering and it was yummy. Now that we have established they have great food, let's talk about the ambiance and I have one word that captures it all Instagram-worthy.

Every corner of Flower Child is Instagram-worthy. From the lettering on the outside window that captures the essence of this restaurant to the "howdy" welcome mat and brightly colored "radiate from within sign marking the back wall, you will be hard pressed not to whip out your phone to capture a few snapshots. They have a kids menu for your little and a patio area that is perfect for nice weather days.

My favorite menu items: The early riser bowl and the crushed avocado toast

Flower Child

Location: Inwood Village - 5450 W. Lovers Lane, Dallas, Texas 75209

Hours: Open from 11 am to 9 pm everyday

GUIDE TO 36 HOURS IN LOS ANGELES // CALIFORNIA

Urban Lights - LACMA

My first trip to LA went wrong in every way. For five years I avoided the city until a recent conference led me back to the city and an incredible weekend which completely changed my view of Los Angeles.  I arrived Friday morning and left Sunday evening. Saturday was booked up with meetings and a conference so I had to pack my sightseeing into thirty-six hours (and it rained for most of that time).

DAY 1

8:35 a.m. Arrive at LAX. Pick up rental car and head to the first stop on the trip. Grand Central Market. Due to the rain, I did not get to explore the downtown area as much as I wanted, but I saw enough to be satisfied.

9:45 a.m.  Grand central station. Get in line for Egg Slut. It is usually a long line, so plan about an hour and a half to two hour. The food is worth the long lines. I ordered the Fairfax and fresh orange juice.

11:30 a.m. Have a walk around Grand central market. Grab a coffee to go from G & B-coffee (if you are up for dessert McConnell's fine ice cream is a good one.

11:50 a.m. Head across the street from the market to the Bradbury building. You might recognize the interior from the movies Bladerunner; Gangs of New York and 500 days of summer. 

12:15 p.m. Due to the rain, I decided to skip the walk to the Broad museum and Walt Disney concert hall and drove out to LACMA. 

1:00 p.m. Arrive at LACMA to see the Urban Light exhibit outside the museum. 

1:30 p.m. Time to do a bit of shopping at the Grove. I did not plan for the rain or the drop in temps when I was packing for LA. I picked up some warm clothing for the rest of my time in LA. 

2:30 p.m Shopping done and time for nourishment at Unami Burger. I am very particular about my burgers and Unami delivered to my tastes. As a cherry on top, the burger is served with sweet potato fries and house made ketchup that I was tempted to bring back with me.

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4:30 p.m. One more attempt to find the pink wall and the angel wings on Melrose. An hour of driving around before giving up. 

6:00 p.m. Time to get my mind in conference mode. I found the perfect spot to wind down at Verve coffee roasters. 

DAY 2

It poured all day Saturday. It would have been impossible to explore the city even if I did not have conference commitment. Thankfully, the sun came out on Sunday and I had to pack a ton onto my itinerary before my evening flight.

8:30 a.m. A very early start to the day to get as much done before my 5 p.m. flight to DFW. I started the day in Venice on Abbott Kinney boulevard with breakfast at Gjelina. I highly recommend the Moroccan egg bake.

9:30 a.m. A leisure stroll down Abbot Kinney. It was still early so a  lot of the shops were not open. However, intelligentsia was open and ready to satisfy my coffee fix.

10:45 a.m. Getty Villa. It was a toss up between spending the morning hiking to the Griffith observatory to see the Hollywood sign and exploring Getty villa. I chose the villa and spent an incredible morning exploring every nook and corner of the villa. Due to the drought the CA at the time, the water was shut off in the villa and all the fountains were off. I think that took away from the experience a bit, but it was still a worthwhile time.

1:15 p.m. Venice Beach for a stroll along the boardwalk; street performances and people watching (the.best.people.watching), ever!

2:30 p.m. Head to the airport. L.A you have been wonderful. Until next time.

Add-ons: A lot of my itinerary for Friday was cut off because of rain. Some things I wanted to get through - explore Olvera street in downtown LA and Griffith observatory for the Hollywood sign

For more travel inspiration and stories - visit the wandeful wednesday link up.