Top Sights Along the Camino Portuguese

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Hellooooo, ladies and lads! It’s been awhile, and mostly due to the fact that I went to SPAIN! (and Portugal obviously since this blog post is about the Camino Portugues…)

But before I share my lovely experiences about Spain, the Camino, and Santiago, I wanted to get something out of the way first. I landed in Spain 1 hour before the terrorist attack happened. When all was said and done, I ended up less than a mile away from La Rambla when it happened. I know, I know, I know, the terrorist attack in Barcelona was absolutely horrific. My heart goes out to all of those immediately affected. But the bright side is the lovely Catalans, and the rest of the world for that matter, stayed strong through it all. I am so relieved that everyone is continuing on in their life; it is truly heartwarming and just goes to show this world is also full of love and resilience.

Ok, now the fun stuff! So we spent a couple of days in Barcelona doing the touristy things like La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, El Born, you know, the places that all of the travel sites say you have to go to. Then we took a flight over to the wonderful Portugal!

Porto was an absolute dream. I would definitely put this gorgeous lake town on your to-do list of visiting the world. Before this trip, I had no desire to travel to Portugal, but I am glad I decided to go. The Portuguese are the sweetest, the views are incredible, and the port is perfect!

Unfortunately, we only had half a day in Porto before we were on our next adventure. There are plenty of sites talking about all the things to do here, but if you only have an afternoon, definitely visit the places I went to! Aside from just walking around town, it is worth it to see the Porto train station, the Douro, and walk across the infamous Dom Luis bridge. The bridge is up HIGH, but it was absolutely worth it to cross.

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Another great thing to do in Porto is to taste the wine! We only had a bit of port, but we also had some great sangria alongside the river. The restaurants here are chock full of great seafood and drinks. They also offer great views of the river!

After our lovely evening in Porto, it was off to the camino! I think we did a total of 60 miles on our trip, starting with the Camino Portugues. Our first leg was from just outside of Porto to Ponte de Lima, Portugual.

Even though we had all day to walk 10 miles, we needed it! The weather chose to be around 95°F when we were walking, so it was pretty exhausting. If I could do this trip over, I would definitely recommend hiking the camino in a month other than August. The heat made it unbearable at times.

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Once we finally made it to Ponte de Lima, we were tired and overheated. I wish we had more time to explore this cute river town. From what we did explore, I can tell you right now that the seafood is amazing! In fact, this whole trip had amazing seafood. Another thing about Ponte de Lima was the history along with it. There were so many old buildings to explore. We were also there during their market day and it took up almost two whole streets! The giant market would have been fun to explore, but we were on a schedule. My takeaway from the first day was to enjoy the walk, but also do this hike at a different time of the summer and to leave more time to explore bigger towns like Porto and Ponte de Lima. This was a common thing for me, as I wish we had more time to explore Santiago, but more on that later.

IMG_3727Before we moved from Portugal to Spain, we gained some elevation to this gorgeous mountain. At the top, we overlooked this valley full of trees and it was well worth the climb. Labruja mountain is on the way of St. James, so it isn’t hard to find if you follow the camino Portugues.

After Ponte de Lima, can you guess what we did? If you thought, more walking, then you are right! We walked, and walked, and walked until we were in Spain!

If you do the Camino, even though this kind of goes without saying, but definitely bring nice shoes to walk and hike in. If I didn’t have my trail runners on this trip, I would have been in serious pain on the last couple of days.

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But on the bright side, the what we saw along the way of our trip was breathtaking! When hiking the Camino, its easy to get in the groove of just walking to get your miles in, but it’s also important to take time and appreciate the view. For me, walking around the little towns in Portugal and Spain was truly amazing. California, and most of the US for that matter, doesn’t really have anything like Portugal. There are no cobblestone streets or trellised vineyards. These two countries had so much to offer and I’m so thankful to travel them.

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Our next stop, after Portugal, was Galicia in Spain. We stayed in castle that was converted to a hotel. It was so fun to explore the ins and outs of the castle. During our stay, which was only a day, we also explored the surrounding islands. Taking a break from walking the camino to explore nearby beaches and other attractions was worth it to me because we got to see more of Spain! I know that the camino asks a lot of each person completing it, but I would recommend taking time to explore other areas along the way. Sometimes you see great things!

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After Galicia and Baiona, we were on our way to Santiago! We hopped over to the Camino Frances (the most popular camino), and we continued walking. The theme of this trip is walking! Walking on dirt, walking on roads, hiking up a mountain, walking on gorgeous cobblestone…we definitely did our fair share of walking!

Even though we were walking a ton, we had some beautiful views of the coast and trails along the way. We also rarely had to worry about getting lost because the whole camino is guided by yellow arrows!

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While our trail was on the coast for a portion, we also were in the countryside and surrounded by trees. The camino gave us an opportunity to explore the country while being away from tourists and exploring the authentic culture of Portugal and Spain. Plus, the camino also has other pilgrims and you get a chance to meet other great people!

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After we made it to Santiago, we were able to spend about half a day in this historic town. The cathedral was breathtaking, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. All in all, this camino was great! I loved that we were able to jump around different caminos and really soak in all of the history.

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Before I end this post, I wanted to share a couple of things I learned along the way. Even though I already mentioned the weather and shoes, I want to reiterate the importance of hiking when its cooler outside and wearing sturdy shoes! Seriously.

I also wanted to say that we hiked the camino with a tour group. At first I was a bit worried about having a guide through this experience, since it somewhat sounded fabricated, but I was pleasantly surprised. Having a tour guide was helpful and fun because they were able to help us if we got lost (which thankfully never happened) and we could use their vans to jump between caminos. I know this was a different take on this pilgrimage, but it was well worth it.

So please keep your mind open to this camino! The Portugues way can be a bit harder to complete because resources (like cafes and hostels) can be scarce at times. If you are able to do it, though, you will not be disappointed! Even being able to hike a bit of it will give you an opportunity to see gorgeous views. If you want to hear more about the camino, be sure to comment below. And if you’re worried that you can’t hike this much, just remember to take it one stride at a time!

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Staying Cool When It’s God Awful Outside

It’s averaging about 107°F in my town right now and we’re expecting a major heat wave this weekend. There are no words to describe this type of heat, except for unbearably crazy. The are a couple good things about the weather, though.

  1. It gave me inspiration for this post, and
  2. I have a new appreciation for air conditioning

But for those days that you can’t spend 12 hours inside an air controlled building, I thought it would be a good idea to bring up some ways to beat the final days of drastic heat before it is fall and then we have to worry about how we will ride in 29°F weather!

First things first, invest in a huge, durable water bottle. I have a Nalgene and a Hydroflask, but my Hydroflask is smaller and I have to refill it about 5 times a day. If you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, the bigger the water bottle, the better. I’ve noticed that after awhile, water will taste good when you’re hot and sweaty no matter the temperature. If you want to spend $50 on a water bottle, get a 40 oz. Yeti or Hydroflask. If you want to spend $12, get a Nalgene. The most important thing about riding in the heat is to stay hydrated!

Another thing that helps with the heat are the long sleeve, UV protecting, sun shirts that you can buy at almost any horse supply store. Ariat, Kerrits, Noble Outfitters, Goode Rider, Kastel, Tuff Rider, and the list goes on, all make these shirts so there is no trouble finding what you need. It seems counterintuitive to wear a long sleeve shirt outside when its triple-digit heat, but these shirts are life savers. They’re made with cooling fabric and have a couple vents in them, so it feels like you’re riding with a tank top on. They also eliminate the need for sunscreen on your arms! I personally love riding in these shirts no matter the temperature.

On the subject of clothing, investing in some riding tights or breeches made of cooling fabric is never a bad choice. Actually, just buy everything in technical fabric. The magic moisture-wicking ways of these garments are by far the most amazing thing of the 21st century. You can buy socks, underwear, breeches, boots, bandanas, almost anything under the sun containing this awesome fabric.

There are also cooling vests, bandanas, headbands, and neck coolers that you can buy if you’re riding for long periods of time in crazy heat. You can soak these in cold water for a little bit and they will stay cool for hours! These are great investments if you’ll be spending the whole day riding outside.

Aside from cool clothing, there are a couple other things I swear by when I’m riding in the heat. First, never, ever, ever, take the heat as an excuse to not wear your helmet. The heat can bring on exhaustion faster than anything else, so you don’t want to be fainting on your horse with no head protection. Also, if you don’t feel well, don’t ride. Simple as that. Your horse is probably warm as well and can handle another day off.

If you do ride in the heat, try to choose the coolest hours of the day. Aka, the early morning or late evening. It’s also a good idea to properly cool yourself and your horse down. Obviously hosing them off is a good choice, but take extra care to walk them out as well. When it’s really hot outside, administering electrolytes to your horse (and you!) will help them combat any heat stress they have.

These are just a couple of thoughts for combatting the heat and still riding! If you want some more thoughts, let me know! Remember to just take your exercise one stride at a time, and stop if you or your horse doesn’t feel normal!

Discovering Other Disciplines

I am beginning another segment on my blog because I feel like it and it’s fun so here we go yay! It’s called latte horse talk. My attempt is to make it similar to coffee talk, where you just discuss interesting topics and see what happens. Today, I want to talk about different disciplines.

I started out my riding career as an event rider. I swore I thought I was so good at riding. When I started competing, I was 10 and I knew that I had a long way to go and a lot to learn before I was riding some serious fences, but I figured that staying with event trainers would land me there quickly. Boy, I REALLY had a long way to go, but it seemed completely doable. Honestly, it would have worked out. Staying in one discipline usually works just fine, but I had a bit of a different path.

Instead, I tried different things. Most of this happened when I went away to college. Not only did I experiment with jumpers, hunters, and dressage, but I also took classes about conformation, judging, and beginning western riding! I also took a halter breaking class (which I talk about in this blog post) and I learned a lot about horse behavior. Each class/experience I had gave me a bit to take into my own riding. I’d like to think I became a better rider because of it.

Even if you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone and do another discipline, try taking a lesson with another trainer! Sometimes they give you a solution to a problem you’ve been having forever. One of the first times I rode with a different trainer, I asked why my horse kept doing running after the fence over and over again and I felt like I was falling forward whenever I would try to half halt. I swear it seems like the simplest solution now, but she casually said try keeping your leg on. I know, I know, it’s like the easiest thing to do and for years I didn’t have it in my head to do it. But now, I will never forget that and my half halts are so darn good it’s insane!

If you’re looking to get better at your riding, or looking for a fun adventure, try other disciplines. Compete in a jumper class if you’re a dressage person. Sit on a reiner and try a spin or two. Heck, just take a lesson from a different trainer. Trust me.

Because you learn amazing things along the way!

Okay cool, well I hope it works out then. Just take your learning experience one stride at a time and it will all work out!

 

 

Jump Into…Clarity

I was 5 years old when I decided that I wanted to be a vet. I spent my whole life being passive about it, worrying about other things like what movies were out or when I could ride. I never once took an internship at a vet’s office or asked my equine vet to ride around in his car. But I still kept this dream all through elementary, middle, and high school.

I was 19 years old when I decided I didn’t want to be a vet. I decided so after riding around with the previously mentioned vet and being thrown into thermodynamics (which I absolutely hated for many reasons). I decided that my career would have to be something different.

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So here I am, 19 years old, at a college that specialized in agriculture, engineering, and architecture, in a major that specialized in pre-vet, and I literally have no idea why I’m there. Instead of running away, I decided to take every single interesting animal science class I could to expose myself to different things. I learned that I love horses, anatomy is amazing, and I still have no idea what I want to be.

A couple years later, I graduate college. I enroll in the MBA program because a well-rounded education sounded nice. I’ve worked in businesses before and people seem okay, right? Okay, well then I graduate. I still have no idea what I am doing.

Then, people start asking me what I want to do. As if I need more pressure, right? But it was actually useful because these people were a bit older and wiser and actually gave me sound advice.

So, after years and years of feeling lost, I am slowly puling myself out of confusion. There’s a couple of things that helped me with this and I want to share them so everyone can embark on a journey of confusion to clarity.

  1. Talk to different people about things like careers, their past, or and wisdom that they can pass down to you.
  2. Don’t be passive in your life. Sometimes I think back on my life and feel like I was dealt the wrong hand. I feel like I wasn’t given as many opportunities as some of my peers. But when I think more on that, it’s because I didn’t allow myself to open up. I didn’t allow myself to try new things or ask people for help.
  3. Do things that interest you. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks because in 5 years from now, those people won’t be living your life.
  4. Read self-help books. Whatever you want to believe about these things, they’re actually very helpful. Right now, I am reading about finding your career of your choice. I’ve also read books about empowerment and the like.
  5. Read memoirs. Watch documentaries. Learn. Expose yourself to things that might not be ‘you’ at the moment. This will all help you find yourself and your true passions. Plus, you might learn something really cool.
  6. Take time to self-reflect. I always loved the idea of keeping a journal. I’ve never been able to do it until I started this blog. For some reason, knowing that a couple of people read this keeps me accountable to write down my thoughts. It also drives me to think of new things to write about, some of which are from my inner thoughts. If blogging isn’t your thing, sometimes yoga helps. Doing something mindful for 20 minutes a day really helps.
  7. Don’t forget to have fun. I think I did this throughout my life, more than the other lessons that I’ve written down. While it’s not as productive, doing something fun helps you know what you want, what you like, and what you want to keep in your life.

There are so many more lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. But I think everything here is really important. No matter what stage you are in life, it is good to just allow yourself to have new experiences because that puts you one step closer to a life of happiness. And that’s what everyone on this planet should have.

 

Ok cool, so just take this thing called life one stride at a time and you’ll be good, yeah?

Jump Into…Life

Hi.

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So, its currently Friday morning and this week has been a whirlwind. I can officially say I’ve been out of school for one month and been inconsiderately shoved into the real world. And with this one month, it’s been really hard. But in so many ways, I can reflect on it and honestly I blow myself away with what I’ve accomplished.

This just goes to show that life doesn’t gives you what you make of it. It will be all up in your face, criticizing you and constantly telling you to do something different. But it also gives you unbelievable opportunities. Just from one month, I can’t believe that I have done all the things I did. The crazy thing is, it didn’t feel like a crap load at the beginning. In the middle of it all, yes, it was a lot to take on. But after, after it’s all been done, I can actually see the amount I’ve tackled. But I can never see the depth of my accomplishments until I reflect on it later.

I think this is a weakness, but there is also some beauty in it. This means that I need to take more time to reflect in my day, and hopefully this will lead to me understanding my actions and, hopefully, understanding life a bit more. Everything that I’m thinking and writing about write now ties back into patience and perseverance. (Maybe I should rename my blog patience and perseverance because I swear I keep talking about those two things.)

So if you’re riding a youngster and they, for the life of them, won’t give into your contact, or if you’re like me right now and struggling to find your passion and purpose in life, just remember to take it one stride at a time. Also, have patience and perseverance. There’s so many other things that I could say as advice right now, like always be yourself or always trust your instinct, but honestly, I don’t feel qualified to say those. Right now, I am unsure of who I am. I’ve always been an equestrian and a student. Now, I don’t have that student part. It makes me feel lost, but I can trust myself that I’ll figure it out. I also always know that being an equestrian will never leave. And that’s the part that I hold onto right now!

Life is hard. There’s so many forces always pressing down on us, but that’s just an excuse. With all of this rejection from unanswered job applications that’s destroying my self-esteem, it emphasizes that life gives you absolutely nothing. And in that moment, you find out who you are and what you are all about.

Okay, enough rambling. But seriously, take things one stride at a time. Every one of those strides is a small accomplishment. Every one of those strides shows the amount of strength you have. Every one of those strides gets you closer to your goal.

Jump Into…A Brand New Place

I totally thought that I would have time to blog throughout this move…but I was greatly mistaken. These past few weeks have been full of moving, starting a new internship, finding a full-time job, finding a barn for Rae, barely sleeping, and some part-time exploration of the town and the rest of NorCal! I can honestly say I am so happy to be back up here, but I can also say that I miss SLO more than I thought.

 

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It’s hard to change everything and move, but there is also a beauty in it. I feel like you learn who you are when everything else isn’t stable in your life. On top of that, it shows you that you’re stronger than you think. Trust me, I’ve had some hard moments in the past month between applying for jobs and devastatingly missing Raven. During those hard times, it’s best to just keep going. Because I’ve also had great ones! Not only did I find a place for Raven, but I also got to try backpacking for the first time and dare say I’m addicted!

Putting yourself into new situations may seems scary at first (or maybe even exhilarating), but it always ends up being a good thing. I’m thankful that I can be optimistic during this time period and understand that it will all work out.

But more about backpacking because I can understand why so many people go. The feeling of being in the woods with literally no one else around is beyond words. This was my  first time backpacking and before then, I always was hesitant to try. I’ve always loved hiking, but I didn’t know if I would like carrying upwards of 30 pounds on my back or going to the bathroom in the woods. Heck, I didn’t know how I was going to wash my hands for putting my contacts in! But I put that all aside and just dove in and did it. I’m glad that I put my fears away and explored the beautiful backcountry of Tahoe! I highly recommend going there, but also just ignoring your fears (or at least not embracing them). It will surprise you what you’re capable of!

 

Jump Into…Packing!

I’m kicking off this new series a couple of days early. I felt like it needed a to happen now and not later so here we are. Without further ado, welcome to the new series…Jumping Into! What better way to track the progress of moving than beginning with packing (yuck).

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I was laying on my floor last night, drinking a beer, and taking a break from packing up our apartment when I just got this crazy feeling. I’ve been so anxious about this move (for obvious reasons), but I felt oddly calm.Besides the time that I moved from home to college, I’ve never moved by myself to a new city.  In what is supposed to be such a hectic and disorderly moment, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was such a great feeling. It was one of those moments that you cherish forever because you can never forget that raw happiness and excitement.

And I think there’s an important thing to remember about this. Even though change is scary, it is absolutely necessary. Not to say that I was fighting all of the change that was in my life in the past couple months and now, but I certainly wasn’t welcoming it. That mindset, though, didn’t allow me to grow with this change. That mindset didn’t allow me to become better.

Change is in everything, not just the typical examples of moving towns or graduating from a school. It’s also true that basically every living thing resists change. Raven hates when I give a command a different way, when I’m late with her dinner (or even worse…her grain!), or just anything that deviates from normal routine. And while this all seems trivial, it makes a big difference in our lives.  Think of it this way: If I don’t do things slightly differently, or give her the change to experience new things that changes her routine, going to a show or learning something new will be over-dramatic and will probably lead to an uphill battle.

So, it’s better to just embrace change, because it’s inevitable. Another good way to think about change is that we are growing, learning, and striving to be something better than we once were. I’m trying to take this mindset over everything else, and I think that it’s working!

But then, all of my positive mindset went away when I remembered all of the packing I had to do and how I still need to clean everything before we leave. Uhhh my to-do list is so long….

 

Sayonara Cal Poly!

This week marks the end of my journey at Cal Poly. While it’s bittersweet to leave the place that made me who I am today, I can’t wait for what is in store for the future. Along with that, I’m going to start a new series on this blog. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’ll be one for the books!

The next few months are going to be hectic while I am packing up my life and relocating to an entirely new city. Not only that, but I have to transition from the sporadic college life to a grown-up career and balancing a horse with that. I have no idea what is in store, but I want to chronicle it on here in a series because I’m sure I’m going to learn a couple useful things along the way. And if not, it’s going to at least be an experience worth remembering.

I think it will teach me something, though. When I first came to college, I thought I knew a lot more than I did. By all means, I knew that I had room to grow and expand my knowledge, but I never thought I would have the experiences that I did. College taught me more than just technical knowledge, I also learned important life skills that I could never forget. From things like diagnosing a lame horse, to getting through foaling season with only 20 minute naps every so hours, to juggling horses and school and a social life, my college experience equipped me with vast amounts of knowledge for the horse industry.

My time at college taught me important life lessons. My dad died my sophomore year here, and I had to cope with the stresses of not only losing a loved one, but how to deal with the legal stuff after. I also met some of my favorite people here like my one of my best friends or my boyfriend. It’s hard to think of where my life would be if I never went to school. I’m so thankful for these times, but I can’t wait to never take a final ever again.

College was daunting at first, don’t get me wrong. I remember crying while I was leaving the barn after my last visit before I went to college. I didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to leave my horse. But, had I never gone, I would have missed out on so many opportunities. Change is hard and most people don’t want to do it, but that anxiety that everyone feels means that you’re pushing yourself. And that’s what I feel right now. So hopefully that means something amazing will happen with this move!

So, here’s to my last week in college and a fresh start to the world! I’m definitely going to have to take things one stride a time with these next few months…

Moving Barns

In exactly 2 weeks I will have an MBA in general management. In exactly 2 weeks, I will leave the town I’ve called my home for 5 years and relocate to a city I’ve never lived in and be pushed entirely out of my comfort zone.

On top of that, Raven isn’t coming with me. Well, she’s going up to the new area eventually, but I just haven’t found a place for her yet. I’m hesitant to move her to a barn without seeing it first and talking to the people that board there for a very important reason. Most barns will grossly fall short of your expectations.

I wish this wasn’t the case, but unfortunately many establishments have major cracks in their business. Sometimes the footing isn’t right, the barns have old wood that look on the verge of falling apart, the hay is bad, there’s no pasture space, the list can go on. So, while I go on this journey, I thought it is important to remind myself (and whoever is on the same quest for a perfect barn) of what to look for in your new horse’s home.

  1. Price of board and services. This is a perfect time to dust off the ol’ computer and do some research of the area. When I lived in Sonoma County, it was unheard of to have board under $600, but SLO has board priced around $400. This drastic difference can severely limit your options, especially if you don’t want to pay more than a couple hundred. It’s important to get some number on cost of living and average board rates in the area.
  2. Types of horse housing. It’s also important to know the options you have to board your horse. For instance, some only include pasture boarding, but my mare would most likely kill every other horse if she had to be in a pasture. Knowing the housing situation will also help you determine what you can afford.
  3. Quality of feed. This is probably one of the most important things. Bad quality hay means an angry colon which leads to a colicky horse. No one wants a sick horse, so make sure the food is good. If you still want to board somewhere that has bad hay, be willing to haul in your own.
  4. Additional services. When I had my horse at the first barn I rode at, blanketing and turnouts were included. I moved, and everything changed. Most barns don’t include services like that in the normal rate. Figure this out in order to know what services you need and how much you’ll be paying.
  5. Training policy. Some barns don’t allow outside trainers to come work with you. That means you’ll have to trailer your horse to your coach’s facility.

This is a working list and is definitely not exhaustive. I try to be open to looking at barns, especially when I don’t know the area and if the website looks outdated. It’s important to remember to communicate with people, too. Talking to the barn manager, talking to the trainer onsite, and talking to the boarders will really help you get a feel for the barn. Also, remember that you can say no and if you make the mistake of barding somewhere that you end up not liking, you can leave at any time. While the horse business is more like a community, it can be difficult to leave. However, remember that these facilities are businesses and there will be no hard feelings. Just do what’s best for your horse!

 

Happy searching! Remember to take things one stride at a time!

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Update in My Life

Hi, guys…

 

So, the past couple of weeks have been a doozy for me. Every since April 1st my life has went from 0 to 60. I found out Raven was lame and has to be retired, I am graduating my MBA program soon, I am relocating to an area that I’ve never lived in, and soon I have to figure out the next career step to take in my life.

Needless to say, my life is a bit hectic right now. I’m in the middle of midterms and I have to take my MBA certification test next week. As much as I want to keep this blog up and running with a new post at least once a week, I am losing the time and motivation. I feel really bad because I love writing on this blog. It’s a bit of a passion for me and lately, I’ve been slacking.

As much as I don’t want to slack on something I love doing, sometimes life is incredibly unfair. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why everyone always said cherish the time you have as a teenager. Now, I get it. Being an adult means way too much responsibility all of the damn time. And it’s hard. I literally have no clue what kind of job to get, what I’m qualified for, what I like doing…honestly the list goes on. It’s really stressing me out and all I can think of is the easy lifestyle I had as a 16 year old.

But it’s also important to remember to take things one stride at a time (literally why I named the blog One Stride). I have such a hard time over-analyzing the little details that I forget about the big picture. I forget to live in the present and remember that life is great. It’s all in the positive mindset and focusing on one thing at a time. And I hope it’ll soon get easier like everyone talks about.

So I’m going to take things one stride at a time, and hopefully you will too!

(Side note: I went on pinterest to find one of my favorite quotes and I found this post that goes into more detail about what I’m talking about here. Funny how that happened!)