Ted Talk Friday: The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live

I am a big David Brooks fan and hearing his vulnerable ted talk made me an even bigger fan. He is down to earth, honest, and shares his darkest times during this talk. His description of loneliness and disconnection is something that resonated with me very deeply. Listen closely to the part of the talk focused on how freedom is a double-edged sword. His beautifully described conception of what connects us and what matters gave me a bit more hope and gave me a larger perspective on how we exist in the world.

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Are you a David Brooks fan? Do you agree with his assessment of freedom?

A Short Trip to the Grand Canyon: Part II

This is the second post in my two post series on my trip to the Grand Canyon this April! It was a short trip, but we did quite a bit in a few short days. Read on to hear about our adventures in Sedona and Phoenix!

Day 3: Sunday

Since we woke up early and had a busy day on Saturday, we treated ourselves to a lazy morning. We did not sleep in since our Airbnb was filled with natural light when the sun came up, but we did relax in bed reading (and watching YouTube videos) while enjoying cups of tea. After our leisurely morning, we packed up our stuff, said goodbye to our beautiful Airbnb, and hit the road to explore Sedona.

We did not have a solid game plan for what we wanted to do, but I stumbled on a great guide book in our Airbnb that gave us a few good ideas. We wanted to check out Red Rock State Park; there are a few popular, tourist-filled spots that we initially planned to check out. Luckily our guide book provided a few other, and arguably more interesting, ideas.

We decided to explore Soldier Pass Trail. Parking at the trailhead was a pain, but that was the only negative aspect of this trail! The area was quite quiet and we ran into a few different groups, but it was not crowded at all. I loved that there were so many interesting stop-offs on the trail. Within just a few minutes of hiking you stumble on to Devil’s Sinkhole:

The sinkhole initially formed in the 1880s due to a cave collapsing. The hole grew even larger in 1989 after an earthquake.

After we checked out the sinkhole, we kept on walking and we quickly arrived at the Seven Sacred Pools:

The Seven Sacred Pools are a series of natural pools within the rock. Supposedly, there is always water in the pools, even during drought.

We had a great time exploring and climbing around in this area. We even spent some time rock balancing, which is how I learned that I am even less patient than I thought.

We had gorgeous weather all day–hot, dry, and sunny. After our adventures, we made our way back to the car and grabbed lunch at a local Sedona restaurant Pisa Lisa. We both ordered large salads, which was a perfect choice when you’re feeling hot and sweaty after a hike.

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After eating a late lunch, we swung through a Farmer’s Market then started our drive back to Phoenix. Luckily my boyfriend and I travel well together so even after hours in the car together we were still laughing and singing “On the Road Again” in harmony with Willie Nelson (I’ve left the video out to save your ears from my singing).

We arrived in Phoenix at our Airbnb, and we were exhausted! We got cleaned up, lazed around for a bit, then made our way to TopGolf! We ate dinner there and one of my boyfriend’s friends joined us there for a few games. The food was surprisingly good! I was on a goat cheese kick so I ordered the cinnamon goat cheese and candied pecan salad with grilled chicken and it was delicious (despite the poor photo quality). Also, check out the hilarious margarita glasses–you even get to keep the cups!

Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures while we played TopGolf, but I can assure you that it is a ton of fun! Even with the advantage of being sober while playing, I was still pretty bad at it, but it was a blast nonetheless!

Day 4: Monday

We stayed out pretty late at TopGolf, but we both had to work on Monday. Luckily we rallied and were working from our Airbnb for most of the day. Our Airbnb host was gracious enough to let us stay late since no one else was checking in that evening (thanks, Ginger!). We took a quick break over lunch and went to Taco Guild since we had to get some good Mexican food while in Phoenix. The restaurant caught my eye because it was actually a converted Catholic church! The atmosphere was really neat and the food was great, even if the service was a bit slow. I loved the fun selection of different salsas that came at the start of the meal.

My boyfriend ordered a smothered chicken burrito:

I ordered three Mahi-Mahi tacos in lettuce cups and when you order three tacos you get a free side so I ordered a salad (getting in fresh foods while traveling can be tough).

These tacos were so good! Marinated Mahi-Mahi with a mango lime slaw–perfection. After lunch, we worked for a few more hours, packed up, and headed to the airport to return back to reality (aka San Francisco).

We had such a great trip! In an ideal world, it would’ve been a few days longer, but we made the most of our time and enjoyed every minute.

For a full recap of the trip, check out this amazing video my boyfriend made:

 

I feel so lucky that we both love to document our trips, which means we have both videos and blog posts to remember all the fun we’ve had!

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Have you been to the Grand Canyon? Have you been to Phoenix?

 

Ted Talk Friday: Why we ignore obvious problems–and how to act on them

Michele Wucker’s talk is a great way to start thinking about how we all ignore seemingly obvious problems in our own life. It is easier to understand this talk as Wucker talks about larger issues like economic downturns and climate change, but this same principle also applies to our personal lives.

As Wucker describes, “We pay attention to what we want to see…” and we typically avoid issues when they feel mysterious or too difficult to handle. She leaves us with the advice on how to make changes for both society and for ourselves, and acknowledges the role of vulnerability when taking on major problems.

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Do you agree with Wucker? Can you think of problems you’ve ignored in your own life?

A Short Trip to the Grand Canyon: Part I

A few months ago I was talking to my boyfriend late at night when I had the idea of going to the Grand Canyon. I suggested it, flights were booked, Airbnbs found, and a few months later, the trip was coming up fast! It was completely uncharacteristic of me, but I did not plan too much for our trip. During the two weeks before we left, I scrambled a bit to try and book tickets for a few different sites. Unsurprisingly,  most tours were completely booked; the tours of Antelope Canyon were full and we had little chance of going. In case you don’t know what Antelope Canyon is…you’ve likely seen it as a screensaver at some point:

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While I was disappointed we couldn’t score tickets, I would not change a thing. Antelope Canyon is about two hours North of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon so if you are short on time, this is one place to cross off your list. I like to think that everything happens for a reason–so I’m pretending we simply were not meant to go to Antelope Canyon. We were meant to have a great time with the little time we had so without further ado, I’ll share a play by play of our trip!

Day 1: Friday

We woke up in the middle of a night to a notification that our flight was delayed by 13 hours–perfect. Luckily, we both stayed upbeat, called our airline and rebooked for an afternoon flight so we would leave only 7 hours later than our original departure time. We spent the day lazing around, enjoying brunch, and, most importantly, not working.

Our flight landed in Phoenix around 5pm and we were on the road in our rental car by 6:30pm. It was a full flight and I was amused by the two (adorable) tiny companions by boyfriend ended up seated next to!

We enjoyed a quick dinner in the outskirts of Phoenix, stopped for snacks, then continued our drive to Flagstaff to our Airbnb.

Day 2: Saturday

We both crashed as soon as we walked in the door, but the next morning we woke up to this beauty.

The Airbnb had a skylight so we woke up to lots of natural light as well. We were a short 1.5 hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and we were easily out the door by 8AM. We chose to stay in Flagstaff so we could enjoy more of our day at the Grand Canyon and it was definitely the right choice for us! We beat the crowds (more or less), snagged a great parking spot, and hopped on the bus to go to our stop for our hike on the South Kaibib Trail. After getting off the bus, we took tons of photos before even beginning our hike…

Then we began our trek. I was shocked by how chilly and how windy it was during our hike. We made it to the Ooh-Aah point which is only about 1 mile into the canyon, but the insane winds, small rain showers, and sand in our faces made us to decide to turn around and ascend back to the rim.

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We decided to go straight to the top during our ascent, no stopping, and we made it to the top fairly quickly (even if we were huffing and puffing). After our short trail hike, we decided to walk around the rim (~2.5 miles) to get a better look at the Canyon. We strolled leisurely around the rim and I was struck by how empty it felt; we came at a great time and it was unreal to see such a beautiful site in complete silence. We made it back to the visitor center, where I was suckered into a National Parks membership, and then we decided to explore other areas of the park by car.

We started out driving towards the Desert Watchtower and we stopped at a number of different places along the way. We pulled over at Grandview Point and caught some amazing views, plus we saw two elk!

After Grandview, we continued on to Tusayan Museum and Ruins. There were only a few other people there, but it was a wonderful (free) museum to learn more about the communities that lived by the Grand Canyon in the past. The ruins were definitely worth checking out too!

Afterwards we headed to our original destination: Desert Watchtower. The Desert Watchtower was designed by a female architect, Mary Colter, and was erected in 1932. It is in the Ancestral Puebloan Style and it is absolutely stunning on the inside and it offers  some beautiful views of the Canyon and the Colorado River.

By this point it was around 4:30pm and we were both exhausted. We made the drive back to our Airbnb, got cleaned up, and headed out for dinner. We ended up eating BBQ in the basement of a shopping complex–it was definitely a novel experience!

After dinner, we drove back to the Airbnb and took a few minutes to admire the night sky. Arizona is known for its dark sky, and Flagstaff is actually the first certified “Dark Sky Place.” It was breathtaking; I had never seen so many stars in my life!

Read more about our Grand Canyon trip next week…

 

Ted Talk Friday: An honest look at the personal finance crisis

I found this talk to be a fascinating look into the challenges of personal finance. This talk shares the new experience of aging, retirement, and financial security–with a dose of humility. I was lucky enough to take a personal finance class in high school, but no amount of education can address the challenges so many individuals face today. I live in the Bay Area, which is one of the most expensive areas in the US, and it is incredibly difficult to save–even as a young, unmarried professional with no dependents. I have actively tried to save for about a decade now, but it’s not easy…and it’s far from linear. Luckily, the younger you are, the more time you have to start saving–even if it’s putting 1% of your paycheck away each month. White breaks down the challenges we all face and provides action steps for those who are closer to retirement.

 

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What do you think of White’s talk? Do you think about personal finance regularly?

Sincerely Silver: building strength through stories

I was so excited to partner with Sincerely Silver and try a few of their amazing products. This brand is unique in that it not only sells high quality products, but it also has a powerful brand mission: feminism. Their website includes tons of great historical information, followed by how they incorporate feminism into their mission as a company. Here is a short description from their site:

“The people of Sincerely Silver believe that feminism is and should be a form of equality for all sexes, in which a person is free to be whoever they want to be without economic, political or social limitation. We believe that feminism is still relevant today, but not in the way it was understood in its inception and not in the way it is understood by its modern definition (third and fourth wave). Feminism is still important today because, individually, women are still in need. We believe that feminism was an important historical movement since it addressed the disadvantages of women as a group in society. However, we believe that feminism today should focus on the individual stories of women, and not on the idea that women as a group are oppressed. As a company, we are focused on building each other up through encouraging one another: we believe there is strength in every woman’s story.”

I love partnering with brands like this; brands that focus on a larger goal rooted in social justice and advocacy. Like this brand, I also believe in the immense power of personal stories/narratives. Now, on to the fun stuff: the goodies! I opted for a rose gold name necklace and a “Be Kind” necklace.

I almost never buy any rose gold jewelry because I typically lean towards silver, but I went out on a limb and ordered my name in rose gold. I’m so glad I did!

 

The rose gold is beautiful in this delicate personalized name necklace. It is made of sterling silver plated with 18k rose gold so it is very high quality–and you can tell.

The “Be Kind” necklace is made of sterling silver and comes on an 18” chain. It is such a beautiful, simple piece that brings me joy every time I look at it. This would be a fantastic gift for a friend or for Mother’s Day, which is coming up soon! I love jewelry that has a positive message; it serves as a simple, constant reminder throughout the day. Sincerely Silver has a number of necklaces like this with positive messages; my other favorite is “Be still.”

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I will definitely buy more jewelry from Sincerely Silver; they have some really unique products. I love the idea of their custom sound wave necklace–you can have a custom sound wave (from a song, poetry reading, etc.) imprinted on a necklace! I’ve never seen a necklace like this anywhere else. One more detail I forgot to mention: all of their products are very reasonably priced and they arrive quickly (huge plus in my book).

Use code SINCERELY15 for a discount when you order from https://www.sincerelysilver.co!

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Disclaimer: I received this product from Sincerely Silver, but all opinions, thoughts, and photos are my own and represent my own experience.

 

Book Review: The Deepest Well

I bounce back and forth between reading non-fiction related to my academic interests and more fun novels (like Where’d You Go, Bernadette). I’ve been on a non-fiction kick recently so I can keep up with the research I’m most interested in, and I wanted to share one of my recent reads with you.

I am passionate about adverse childhood experiences, particularly experiences of trauma, and The Deepest Well is all about how adverse experiences influences our lives in ways we never could’ve imagined. Not only does it lead to increased risk of a number of different mental illnesses, but it also leads to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases. It is not an issue that only effects those of low socioeconomic status, but it can effect anyone. If you had a parent with a mental illness or had a family member go to prison, your risk goes up.

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A higher ACE score means higher risk the board; it’s a dose-response effect. ACE scores don’t dictate your health, but those scores provide insight and can indicate you might be at higher risk.

The author, Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris, describes her work on ACEs and her creation of a non-profit in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco. I live in San Francisco so Burke-Harris’ descriptions of the wealth disparities, and health disparities that accompany them, hit close to home. Two neighborhoods, defined by zip codes, in San Francisco can have an average life expectancy difference of 22 years. Twenty-two years.

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Facts like this blow me away and strengthen my dedication to research and making positive change. Change does not mean we can eliminate adverse experiences, but we can help build resilience, educate parents, and provide positive interventions to minimize the negative impact of those adverse experiences.

ACE scores do not tell the whole story, but it provides powerful evidence and a simple, tangible metric for us to understand how early experiences influence us for the rest of our lives–both mentally and physically. I highly recommend The Deepest Well if you’re interested in learning more about chronic stress, adverse experiences, and health outcomes.

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Have you heard of ACE scores? Does the correlation between ACE scores and heath outcomes surprise you?

 

 

Ted Talk Friday: What makes a superhero?

I have been learning more about superheroes and their general appeal in the past few months. I was never interested in superheroes growing up, but I’ve recently become more and more curious. I have never fully understood the dedication and love people have for these characters, but Lee’s talk drew me in and gave me a new perspective. I hope you enjoy!

 

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Does Stan Lee’s talk make you understand the mass appeal of superheroes?

Ted Talk Friday: America’s pursuit of happiness and why it’s gone wrong

This title caught my eye; Western culture is particularly obsessed with feeling happy and constant self-improvement so you can feel happier. Listening to this talk gave me a different perspective on how happiness is incorporated into our culture all the way down from the founding fathers, but not in the way we might think…watch the talk to learn how we’ve confused our country’s mission!

 

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Do you agree with Dr. Winterer?

 

Seeing My First Snow: South Lake Tahoe 2018

Since I’m from Nashville, seeing snow is a rare occurrence for me. Sure, every few years we would get a few inches on the ground for a few days, but nothing over six inches and nothing that would stick around for long. I moved to the Bay Area about a year and a half ago and have been dying to go to Lake Tahoe during the winter time. I don’t ski or snowboard, but I just wanted to see the beauty.

My boyfriend (J) and I decided to go for a nice weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe and we spent hours looking for the perfect Airbnb. We went in with few criteria, but quickly learned we were pickier than we thought! We ended up choosing a beautiful one-bedroom guest suite about ten minutes from downtown South Lake Tahoe (plus it had a hot tub!).

We left San Francisco on Friday evening around 5pm, with a quick Chik-Fil-A stop for dinner on the way. My favorite Chik-Fil-A pick: market salad–it’s full of flavorful grilled chicken, chopped fruit, nuts, and they have great dressing options.

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We spent about four and a half hours on the road, which is not bad considering the notorious Tahoe traffic we were told to expect. We arrived around 10:15pm and checked out the place before crashing into bed.

The next morning we both woke up around 6:30am just in time to make tea and coffee and watch the sun rise from our back porch.

We spent the morning relaxing and headed out to brunch around 10am. We ended up eating at A Cup of Cherries and the food was delicious; I might’ve eaten the best omelette I’ve ever had there (tomatoes, mushrooms, and basil). J ordered an egg plate with a side of French toast. We left feeling stuffed and ready to conquer the day.

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After buying gloves, which we both forgot, we headed off to go snow tubing. We arrived at Heavenly ski resort and learned that snow tubing was not available yet–they said it was too early in the season, which I found baffling given the amount of snow on the ground ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Even if we couldn’t go tubing, we decided to take the gondola up to the top of the mountain anyways to soak in the good views.

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Pretty unbelievable right? We thoroughly enjoyed the gondola right up to the top and explored the basecamp, saw skiers skate by, watched toddlers teeter on snowboards and then we headed back down. We walked around the shops in Heavenly village and went back to the Airbnb to recharge before dinner. I ended up napping, which is not something I normally do, but was much needed after our adventures.

South Lake Tahoe has dozens of BBQ restaurants so we picked one of the top rated places  (Sonney’s BBQ Shack Bar and Grill) and headed over at an astonishingly early hour–5:30! We enjoyed a great meal of pulled pork, ribs, and classic BBQ sides:

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I don’t eat pork very often, but this absolutely hit the spot and left us feeling exhausted (again)! After dinner, we made our way back to the Airbnb intending to use the hot tub, but we ended up watching “Chicken Run” and falling asleep early.

The next morning was low-key with a later wake up. We enjoyed our coffee and tea in the hot tub, which was a wonderful experience! I have never been in a hot tub in freezing weather, but it was a fascinating experience–getting in was the hardest part by far. We both read or worked on side projects for a few hours enjoying the cute mini fireplace and sipping hot cocoa. Around 11, we started packing up our bags to head home. We made a pit stop for lunch at Verde Mexican Rotisserie and the food was delicious:

Cauliflower Rice Bowl
Chicken Taco

 

Chicken Torta

My favorite was the cauliflower rice bowl I ordered–cauliflower sautéed with peppers, onions, greens, and tomatoes. Topped with organic spring mix, chimichuri, avocados, and grilled mahi-mahi. I could hardly finish the bowl!

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The ride home felt a little longer, but the four hours flew by with good music and conversation. We made it back to the Bay Area by 5pm with plenty of time to get organized for the work week ahead.

For the full video experience of our trip, click here.

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Have you ever been to South Lake Tahoe? Any tips on learning to ski?