Changes are a-coming!

giphy (10).gifI’ve had a lot of changes in the past few months, which may begin to explain my absence on this blog. I’ve accepted a full-time job, I’m graduating with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I’m moving to a new city and I’m getting married! So with all of these new changes, I’d like to make a change to my blog. A lot of my posts have been lessons learned or hopefully a little advice from someone who has made those mistakes. But now that I’m taking on several new roles, I want my blog to have distinct purposes.

giphy (12).gifI want to be able to update my friends and family about all of the little details and lessons happening in my life as a soon-to-be YoPro, Fiance-status to wife-status (with wedding planning in between), and of course everything that comes to living in a new city. I’d also like to have a little fun with some hobbies too. I’m about to be living alone which means re-learning how to cook for one, learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while working a desk job and learning how to take care of myself – laundry, bills, sickness and all! They won’t be how-tos but more of a Julie -and-Julia story of failures and hopefully successes. Lastly, I’d like to have a book-club section. I love reading, and now that I won’t be reading text books (and a few of my friends in college have decided a book club is the best way to keep in contact), I’m hoping to document my favorite books, quotes and even those that I hate and why.

So here’s to an honest blog that’s going to keep you up-to-date on a young 20-something lady that’s doing everything at once (and trying to blog about it at the same time!).

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Learning to Lead Selflessly

As a senior student in leadership positions in different organizations, characteristics of a true leader have been on my mind. Am I being the leader I need to be? Am I instilling in my “followers” what they need? Am I providing what education I can? Am I giving them good advice? Am I doing everything I can to be the best leader I can be?

Forbes will tell you that leadership requires honesty, delegation, communication, confidence, commitment, creativity, intuition, positive attitudes and the ability to inspire. The Huffington Post‘s list will repeat some of the same characteristics, with an added few: ability to listen, integrity, humility, empathy, inspiration and the ability to lead by example.

I’ve been both a leader and a follower. I’ve been led by both great and not-so-great leaders, and I’ve no-doubt been both a great and not-so-great leader. Leadership is absolutely a learned skill. Many times, leaders want to lead by example, but by leading by example, they do all the work. Other times, leaders want to delegate work then sit back and watch everyone else.

Leadership requires a keen balance: walking a thin line between leader, dictator and sole member. But I think all of these issues can be solved through one characteristic: selflessness.

Too many take the title of “leader” to build their resume or brown-nose their way to the top. Too many times their objective as a leader is not to help or serve their organization as a whole, but to help themselves as a part. I am absolutely at fault for this myself. I have taken a position thinking, “Wow, this is going to look great on my resume.” Leaders like to be easy to spot. These leaders are inauthentic. They often push out other members who are willing and wishing to get involved. They take glamorous positions: the ones that mean their name will be posted for all to see. They don’t work behind-the-scenes.

So how do we learn to be a selfless leader when we, as human beings, are inherently selfish? I think the Huffington Post hit the nail on the head. Humility.

Anyone who achieves success, big or small, should be celebrated. I am a believer in being proud of your accomplishments and letting others know, however being proud and being arrogant are two different things. Remember you, too, were once someone working your way from the ground up.

We all started at the bottom in one way or another. Other people taught us, mentored us and made us into the people we are today. We cannot by any circumstance say that we made it to a leadership position all by ourselves. We did not “pull ourselves up from our bootstraps” without any help. And that’s important to remember.

I’ve had three different opportunities in the past few months to go to events or be in leadership positions that I have turned down. One reason? I’ve been there before. Not that I couldn’t learn more by attending again, but I knew that if I went, I took a spot at a table that someone inexperienced would’ve valued more. I made contacts and loved the experience previously and was disappointed not to go again, but I didn’t want to take that opportunity from someone else.

I’ve also given up leadership positions. I already had a lot on my plate, so I didn’t want to commit to another position that wouldn’t have received an adequate amount of my time. I knew two other members that had less experience than me, but had expressed sincere excitement for the position. My resume is not full, but as a leader, we have to know when to step back and let someone else take on a new role. As some point in time, we have to know when to stop being the leader and just mentor (or perhaps become a follower again).

I’ve learned a lot from my leadership positions, but I know I learn a lot more from my followers than I do from myself. I also know that I learn a lot when I let someone else do the teaching every once in a while. It’s great to have a full resume, and it’s great to be in every organization and actively participating… but it’s also great when you give someone else the opportunities that you’ve been extended.

Some people are born with leadership abilities, but not every natural-born leader is instilled with humility and selflessness. In fact, I’d say those are learned skills that take a lifetime to perfect.


*Thank you Katie Gatti for the edits and support on this topic. Check out her blog “Blonde with a Blog“!


Sweet Home… Alabama.

New York has given me a run for my money on my last full day here. Between the bottoms of my feet being literally bruised to my debit card no longer working, I’d say Alabama is surely calling my name.

It’s been such a blessing to live out a dream and to be able to explore completely alone. For the first time, I took off to a place that I didn’t know without a single person to fall back on. I knew of people in the city, but there was no family, no close friends, and no one I was truly comfortable calling at 1 a.m. when something was wrong. It was me and the streets of New York.

So me and my Kate Spade personality hit the streets and discovered a lot. But I think I discovered more about myself than I did about this city. I know the streets. I can get pretty much anywhere without a map (with the exception of below Houston street because those are a bit tricky). I can even navigate Brooklyn pretty easily, and the subway is just another car.

But I learned a lot about myself. I truly “dated myself” for an entire summer. When I wanted Italian, I had Italian. When I wanted to see a movie, I went to the movies. Pedicures, food, wine, dinner, more food, dessert, shows, walks, runs, and even just laying in the park. I did what I wanted to without worrying about anyone else. It wasn’t selfish… it was truly a learning experience!

I learned my way through my fellowship, finding out all the right and wrong ways to do everything. Delivering mailers still proved to be the most difficult task because 7 a.m. on a Thursday morning and a giant box is difficult to stomp around NYC.

As much as I missed my friends and family, I didn’t yearn to see them. I set out to spend 3 months mostly by myself, and that’s what I did. I didn’t worry about making friends, although I did come out with some great ones. I didn’t set out to meet anyone famous, although I did see Usher and Kathie Lee Gifford and Penn and Teller. I didn’t set out to do so many things, but along the way, I found them. I am grateful for those that visited, mostly because I really missed human contact… especially hugs. 

But on my last full day despite all the chaos that ensued, I visited the 9/11 memorial fountains again at sunset. I was reminded once again how blessed I am to be alive and to be free. How blessed I am to be able to spend a summer wherever I please. How blessed I am to live in a country where I get to choose a career I love. How blessed I am to live somewhere I get to change my dreams, find my dreams and live my dreams. How blessed I am to have people supporting my every step, no matter how sketchy, unclear or hazardous that road may be. And how blessed I am to have so many people waiting on my return.

It’s a bittersweet goodbye. It’s like dark chocolate with sea salt really. Just enough bitter bite to cancel out the sweetness, with a surprise a salt to top it all off. (I love dark chocolate with sea salt… hint, hint). Ultimately, this summer has been everything and then some. And I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned. But first, I need to find my way back home where I will hopefully let my feet rest a bit before hitting the books for one more year!

Thanks for reading and for following my journey in the city. Who knows where I’m heading off to next!


11 Reasons Why Girls Weekends Are The Best Weekends

My friend Kelsey made the 2 hour plane ride from Atlanta to NYC to see me for, get this, approximately 42 hours. Yes, you read the correctly. Less than 2 full days. But man, did we make the most of it! After a perfect girls weekend, you’ll realize exactly how comforting being reunited with your person after 9 weeks apart, and quickly vow that you are never, ever going to do that again.

So to capitalize and reinforce on exactly how perfect this weekend was, I want to tell you 11 reasons why girls weekends are the best weekends.

1. She’ll get in at midnight, change into going-out clothes, and find the closest decent bar to talk over the latest and greatest from since the last time you saw each other. And, she’ll order the same drink as you because you’re basically the same person living in two different cities.

2. After a couple drinks, you’ll both realize that it’s 2:30 a.m. and you’ve worked 45 hour weeks and are exhausted. Then you’ll proceed to the closest open pizza shop, order two unreasonably large slices of pizza, walk home and indulge. You’ll finally fall asleep around 3:30 after laughing about the fact that at 3 a.m. you were both pigging out on bacon-covered pizza in bed. No. Regrets.

3. She’ll wake up the next morning feeling just as sleep-deprived and dehydrated as you, and while you’re sipping on Strawberry Lemonade Sparking Ice water, you’ll look over as she’ll is sipping on whatever she finds in your fridge… including a cranberita. No, it’s not 9 a.m. (yes, it was).

4. Once you feel refreshed and showered, you’ll realize not only do you have identical black Kate Spade bags, but you also have matching Zara dresses. Not to mention you each have multiples of the same dress in different colors. Twinsies isn’t even the word.

5. While putting on the makeup you’re going to sweat off in the summer heat, you’ll spend an hour trying to find the perfect brunch place. You’ll make a reservation only to have to push back said reservation because you needed an extra 15 minutes of beauty sleep after your hair is fixed… which means you had to fix it again.

6. You’ll finally head to brunch and you’ll pass the place 4 times before realizing they don’t have a sign. When you sit down and the waiter approaches the table, you’ll both realize at approximately the exact same time that it is now noon and neither of you have had a cup of coffee. Then you’ll be equally as annoyed when the waiter brings your scones and cocktail before the cup of coffee. You’ll laugh about it once you down the first cup and ask for more, but before then there was nothing to be laughed about.

7. After spending 2.5 hours at brunch, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and spend the next 2.5 hours doing exactly what you both know how to do best: retail therapy. You’ll also stop in the middle of retail therapy being equally as frustrated, thirsty and downright hot, and you’ll go to the closest McDonald”s (even if that is on the edge of Chinatown). While walking the streets, your dresses will be caught in the wind/from the subway vents in some not-glamorous Marilyn Monroe way and she’ll yell, “Well, I just showed the world my butt.” Only for it to happen again and she’ll yell “Oh there it is again!” Subsequently, you’ll almost drop your Sbarro pasta laughing so hard.

8. While eating your Sbarro pasta and getting ready, you’ll drink Sparkling Peach Moscoto out of Tervis Tumblrs while laughing about lyrics. Like why is he talking about cheating on his girlfriend? No, it’s okay because at the end of the night he’s gonna stay true. Ooo I’m gonna stay true…. You know we’re talking bodies, you gotta perfect one…Cause baby now we’ve got bad blood. I hate this song next. 

9. The night will take you to some random bar that you’ll enjoy the drinks, but the crowd won’t be your style. You’ll try another but decide it’s late and you’re both really looking forward to tomorrow’s brunch. So you resign and leave, only to get home and eat left over Sbarro and eggs-over-easy while discussing tomorrow’s brunch plans. One of you will fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, and then you’ll both be out like a light soon after.

10. The alarm will sound at 9:30. Snooze. 9:45. Snooze. 10:00. Snooze. 10:15. Snooze. 10:30. UGHH the brunch line is going to be sooooo long. You’ll throw on your dresses, pull your hair up and head out the door. Brunch will be everything and more. You’ll spend 2 hours talking about how great the past 24 hours have been and how much you desperately want to be in the same city like old times. A.k.a. 2 months ago.

11. After a day of relaxation, manicures and straight-up girl talk — including deciding that when one of you gets married, you’ll have to buy a house with spare bedrooms because the other is definitely moving in—you’ll return to your apartment where you’ll lay in bed sulking because she has to pack her bags. You’ll proceed to order delivery and only leave your apartment to call her a cab. You’ll hug goodbye and quickly remember, you’ve already made plans for the day after you return home (Oops, sorry mom and dad.)

In the end, you know that technically you can live without each other… But that life would include a substantial amount of money because you can’t afford a therapist as good as her. You’re willing to go through great lengths to see each other, if only for 2 days, and no matter how long, it will never be long enough for all the laughs to be had. There’s nothing quite like that semester you spent together becoming the closest friends in a small amount of time, but that’s what makes this friendship unique. This isn’t the high school best friend you promised nothing would ever change. This is a realistic friendship that you openly admit everything is changing. You just now know that it’s worth blowing a two-week’s paycheck in 42 hours just so you can see your person. The only thing that would have made this weekend better is if that third girlfriend could have made the trip. (Missed you Brittany!)


12 Things I’ve Learned About Life From Living Alone in the City

So I’m halfway through my second week at my internship, and I’m telling you right now… it is flying by. Just so everyone knows: I’m absolutely loving it. The people I work with are truly amazing, and I’m learning so much. But I do miss all my friends and family back home. This blog post was inspired by multiple conversations I had today with friends about “how it’s going.” And well, I just want to be really honest here.

1. I love the freedom of walking anywhere I please. Eating anywhere I please. I love doing things solely because I want to and because I can. Being alone but not lonely is a strange feeling, and I really like it. I’m not only exploring a city, but I’m learning about myself. What I do and do not like – free from any bias, persuasion or persecution. And that, I’ve got to say, feels so good. There’s a joy that comes from allowing yourself to eat a bowl of gelato before dinner or buying fresh flowers for yourself. How beautiful are a bunch of hydrangeas on my desk! Small bits of joy can really change your whole perspective.

2. I am not responsible for the joy of others. This is one I’ve always, always, always struggled with, and I did not realize the impact until I moved here. Do you ever stop to wonder how much joy we lose because we spend it worrying about things out of our control? Like trying to constantly please picky eaters when there is a delicious smelling Thai place around the corner. Or when you have your friends from two friend groups going out on the same night so you bring them all together…and you’re constantly going back and forth to be sure both friend groups are pleased. Some people have a mission to not be pleased or show joy in life… and it’s not my job to fight that.

3. These shoes are not made for walking. If you are visiting me this summer or planning a trip to the big city, take this one tip from me. Purchase a pair of Chacos (preferably a pair with single straps as the double or triple straps tend to wear blisters) and get them fitted properly to your foot. Then wear them your entire trip. If you absolutely must bring that pair of Michael Kors heels (as I did), put them in your bag and wear your Chacos until you arrive at work, the play, dinner or wherever. Your feet will thank me.

4. There is a infinite amount of wonder lost in the word no. And I get to make the choice to discover that wonder or lose it. I’ll write more on this one later.

5. No amount of phone calls, texts or facetime calls can make up for my family and friends. I miss hugs so much. You do not realize how many hugs you get on a daily basis in the south until you haven’t had a hug in 2 weeks…

6. The 3 years I’ve spent in college prepared me for what to expect at work. My internship has taught me that you cannot expect anything because there truly is not something I do on a daily basis – with the exception of media lists. That’s everyday.

7. Half of the people in my life want me to live in Alabama. The other half don’t care enough to care. But everyone wants to know my decision. And I haven’t made that decision yet. I love Alabama. I love New York. I love above 10 cities across the U.S., and I don’t know where I will be this time next year. And that’s the only answer I can give you. But when I do make that decision, I will make it based on what I feel is best for me based on what I need at that point in my life (aka job and life).

8. Photos are meant to capture moments you’re afraid of losing. Photos are not meant to capture every moment of every day. Selfie sticks are everywhere here. There’s probably one selfie stick to every three people, and that’s not an exaggeration. Coming from a photographer, please listen to this one lesson if you don’t listen to anything else. You miss so much when you sit behind the lens (or try to be in front of it – selfie) For instance, think of the last concert you went to… how many people spent the entire concert recording the concert (not exactly legal, btw)? Now imagine how many people missed little cues from the artists (for instance, John Mayer changed the lyrics to one of his songs to include the city where he was playing “It’s been a long night in New York City, It’s been a long night in Nashville too” —the lyric is actually “Baton Rouge, too”). Imagine how much you actually miss when you’re too focused on focusing the camera. But also imagine how much you actually experience when you stop focusing on trying to remember that moment forever and you just focus on remembering that moment right then and there? Keep calm and put the selfie stick away. Enjoy the moment.

9. There are very few things in this world that I can control. This one will never be easy for me. I am high-strung. I can’t change it. People are going to either love or hate my high strung nature. I can’t change that either. People are either going to love or hate my choices. I can’t change that. People are either going to love or hate my hair, the way I dress, the way I talk, the way I live my life, what job I have, who I choose to date or marry, where I choose to live, what house (or apartment!) I choose to live in, what car I drive (or subway I take to work). I have to pick my battles, and I’m choosing to love the choices that I can make and the things I can (and even cannot!) control.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past two weeks it’s that I’ve let a whole lot keep me from enjoying life to its fullest extent. Expectations, worry, doubt, fear, stereotypes, whatever it may be. And that’s not fair to me because even though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my college years, I haven’t really felt the weight of it all until now because it’s been lifted. There’s an energy here that’s different than any feeling I’ve had before. It’s like the high you get from achievement except different because it’s not a high. It’s an energy. It’s like the first time you realized your parents expect you to make mistakes, and somehow all of a sudden, everything seems a lot less scary.

Whether I chose to return to the city or choose somewhere else in the continental U.S. or abroad or wherever, I will be forever grateful of the time I spent learning about myself. There’s something about losing the comfort of being surrounded by people you know that makes you learn a lot about yourself. And that is quite invigorating.


Internships, Timing and the Big City!

Tomorrow is moving day. Yes, that’s right. This southern girl has her belongings (included my Keurig) packed into 4 suitcases that will be heading to New York City tomorrow morning. Wow. It’s a dream coming true for me. Living in the city I fell in love with several summers ago. But, before I can start telling you about this incredible journey I’m about to embark on, I think it’s best to start with how I got there. No, I’m not about to tell you my resume. I’m about to tell you the journey of internship applications and interviews… and more so about perfect timing. Because trust me, everything is all about timing. 

Courtesy of Josh Liba (Flickr)

Courtesy of Josh Liba (Flickr)

Internship Season:

82 Applications.

82 Cover letters.

82 Resumes.

26 Interviews

17 companies.

1 Offer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 2:20 p.m. I got the call. I was in class, and I couldn’t focus on anything. They had emailed me saying I’d get a call any minute. I was sick at my stomach. My phone rang, and I literally ran out of class. I got the internship at the company that started my journey in public relations… and I got it at their headquarter location —  New York City. I cried. I laughed. I smiled so hard my head hurt.

Multiple times I wanted to give up. I wanted to say I had already had an internship last year. That I didn’t really necessarily need one. But I didn’t. I stuck to it. And I prayed. The week I received my offer I was MIA from everything except my classes. I didn’t sleep in past 5 a.m., and was never in bed before 1 a.m. After I received my offer, I told my mom, my advisor, my friends that were located in our office (AKA The Tank) and my grandfather. Then, I went home and slept until dinner time.

I don’t know about you, but that was the first time I ever really pleaded with God. I prayed to the point that I may be able to somewhat grasp the idea of how hard Jesus prayed before He was crucified. But I know I am nowhere close. Note: I am not saying my prayer for an internship is anywhere near the same realm as praying not to die for the entire world’s sins. At all. I literally pleaded and cried in prayer.  I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted a prayer to be answered that bad.

I was frustrated. I was mad. I was upset. I was tired. I had done everything right, but everything was going wrong. I had applied to 82 locations, and I had not received a single offer. I almost started applying again. But it didn’t feel right. You can ask my friends. I was a zombie that week. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And if I did, I was close to tears. How could all of my hard work not result in an internship at all?

But, things worked out exactly how they were supposed to and when they were supposed to. I didn’t get any of those other internships because I would have had to accept the internship before I had my last interview for NYC. I had prayed that if I was supposed to get this one that I wouldn’t get the others. That prayer was answered, but that was harder to live with than I thought it would be. A lot of things had to fall perfectly in place for this internship, and they did. I hadn’t accepted any other internships (which would have meant I would have had to turn down my dream internship— imagine that heartbreaker). I had people willing to speak on my behalf of what ever I do know about my industry. My parents were willing to move me to NYC (and pay for me to live there!) for the summer. My schedule fell perfectly to where I would get back exactly 5 days before classes started. My grandfather allowed me to move in with him for my last year so I didn’t have to worry about moving into an apartment when I got back (and saved a good amount of cha-ching there, too).  I have no question about how everything fell perfectly into place. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to live out a dream so early in my career. So, see ya Alabama! I’m heading to the City!

Side Note: For the next two and a half months, this blog will cover my adventures in the city, the entertaining family vacation that will start it off tomorrow (Oh yes, Ray-man is heading to the city for the first time…), the lessons learned, and any misconceptions about living in NYC. I’m hoping to post once a week, but I only have 2.5 months, and I’ll be working full time so some lessons will be put on the back-burner until August. Thanks for reading! 

P.S. Good luck to all my friends on their upcoming first days! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures as well! 


We’re 21 and 22, and We Still Don’t Know What We’re Doing

Last week, I talked to my brother on the phone for an hour. Most of you won’t find this particular fact interesting at all… unless you know me and my brother. We’ve always had this odd relationship. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s not the typically brother and sister relationship. We’re 22 months apart, meaning all of his prospective girlfriends where my best friends, and all of my prospective boyfriends were his. Kind of created a bit of a jumbled mess in high school… but we’re past that now.

I’m Type A, he’s not. But we’re both extremely competitive, which is sort of a problem when you’re so close in age. My competition was him, and his—me. We have completely different plans for our lives. Other than parents, competition and our love of talking about absolutely nothing, we don’t have a ton in common. We’ve never really been the type to just hang together all the time. We hang out whenever we are buying the ‘rent’s birthday/Christmas presents and whenever we’re stuck at holiday parties together. I was thrilled when he decided to go to Alabama (except for the fact that he did, in fact, copy my decision), but when he came home that first weekend I bawled like a baby—and everyone at the football game that night can tell you that. He and his friends would rather do weird guy stuff while me and my friends watch Friends. He cheats at card games, while I’d rather play fair (you know you do).

He’s weirdly identical to dad, except I am too. But we’re not identical to each other. I look like mom and he acts like mom. I do too, but not as much as him. He can talk forever about stocks and all that fun stuff, while I’d much rather tell you about my newest plans. He knows that when I get stressed out, I’m likely to stop eating, stop sleeping, work like a maniac, call mom in tears and still manage to online shop. He on the other hand will find every way in the world to procrastinate and then somehow finish on time. He likes Alabama, and he loves Ardmore. I, on the other hand, am seeking to start my career elsewhere, particularly a large city on the opposite side of the country, but I digress… He wants a house and a car, but I’d rather have a cute apartment garden and call it a day. I don’t care for yard work but he jams on the lawnmower.

Now, we’re both single, beginning our careers/just finishing school, and we have no freaking clue who we are. I know that I am Kaitlin, and he is Kyler and that we are co-existing on this earth at the same time for some reason. So the other night, I called home to talk to my mom, and she wasn’t there. Normally, I’d settle for dad (if you knew my dad, you would understand why talking on the phone with him is settling. He doesn’t quite understand how to, you know, hold a conversation). But dad was with mom on one of their “dates.”

So, I talked to Kyler. (Which isn’t settling but he’s normally busy and probably isn’t interested in my complaints of the day) Kyler and I don’t talk about normal brother-sistery things. We never have, and I don’t think we ever will. But when I called the other day and he was the one of the other line, we talked about life. Particularly, my life because I was the one who called and if I call, I usually have something on my mind. So I spilled my guts, and he listened. Then we hung up and he went to the gym. Two days later, he calls me and he spills his guts. I listened and then I went to bed.

But his exchange was a little different than mine because he thanked me for being an example for him. Yeah, that threw me for a curve ball too. He’s my older brother. So, my response was number one to thank him for thanking me because let’s be honest, it’s nice when you hear something like that. Then my other response was, “I don’t have it all together.” Then, we had an hour conversation (if not longer) about how all our lives, we’ve thought we were expected to have it all together by 22. To have the job, not relying on mom and dad for money, have a long-term relationship (if not engaged or married already) and etc.

No, our parents did not lay the ground work for this. I’m pretty positive mom and dad have told us you will not have it all together, so stop freaking out when you realize you’re wrong (or in the words equivalent to that). With the evolution of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we see the best of everyone. I don’t put a picture on Instagram without first thinking, I really love today’s outfit or look how artsy my cup of coffee looks. When I post on Facebook, it’s to share the next big thing that’s happening in my life. When I post on Twitter, it’s the day’s thoughts (the good or funny ones of course). But we don’t publicize the struggles. I don’t post on Instagram when my hair is looking especially bad or I’m feeling a sweatpants day because those skinny jeans are just too difficult to deal with. I don’t post on Facebook when my paper ended up getting a grade lower than I wanted or when mom is right again when I really, really don’t want her to be. Twitter is about as honest as it gets on social media, but even there you’ll only see “I’m having a really bad day” or “#KaitlinProbs.”

So basically, my brother and I came to the conclusion that at 21/22, we thought we’d have a lot of this stuff figured out. And we don’t. And that’s kind of disappointing. We thought we’d already be through all this “struggling to survive” and we’d be hitting the good part where you know stuff and aren’t just guessing. But really, we’re just at the beginning of the trial and error stage and that’s an exhausting thought. I’m 21 and he’s 22, and we don’t have it all together.

We still don’t know how to budget, and I don’t know how to file my own taxes. My keys still fall behind the counter. The gym is still too far away from my bed, and I still don’t know how to drive (honestly). And if I had any clue how to fill out medical forms properly, I wouldn’t be the girl in the doctor’s office calling my mom. I don’t understand why somedays my body can work on just 4 hours of sleep, but when I get a full-night’s rest I’m groggy all day. I don’t know how to cook bacon without getting popped by hot grease, and I don’t understand apartment leases or why some don’t come with washers and dryers. I have hundreds of photos I keep meaning to get printed that are 5 years old. Why do my fruit smoothies contain 400 calories and a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin only has 250? I don’t know where Mr. Right is, but I hope he stays away long enough for me to put pictures of my friends and family in these frames instead of the creepy photos that come in them and long enough for me to learn how to get important work done without my carpet being combed in the same direction (weird, I know. Don’t judge me).

Why do I have emails about life insurance and 401k plans when I can barely afford to feed myself and put gas in my car? Why is the healthy stuff so expensive and the unhealthy stuff so tasty? Why can’t my dog live with me in my apartment and why can’t he be a normal dog that doesn’t eat doors and household furnishings? And oh my gosh, does the list go on!

Some days I really think my 10 year old cousin knows more about life than I do. But the good news is, we both know a lot now that we didn’t know 5 years ago or even just a month ago. We’re learning, and the really good news is: we’re learning at a rapid pace! I think that’s where we all get confused. We see these people that have everything together, but really they’re just putting pieces to the puzzle together and we can only see that one piece. If I had a clue why we had to wonder around this world trying to figure out life instead of having an owner’s manual, I’d be a millionaire and could pay someone to cook my bacon. But what fun would that be? To know it all? Let me tell you some of the fondest memories I have with friends are when things went wrong.

So the point of this blog is to A.) say thank you to my brother for helping me realize life isn’t about having it all together. B.) point out that he is, in fact, the best oldest brother and all of you should be jealous—hehe. And finally, C.) note that one day I will in fact know how to do the previous things listed (except maybe for the chocolate chocolate chip muffin thing…I’d rather keep thinking it’s healthier). So have fun not having your life together (and maybe post about it) because isn’t life really fun when you aren’t perfect?


Mirror Mirror on the Wall…

Not gonna lie…2014 was not my year. I had a great year, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like I was constantly fighting an uphill battle…

About midway through 2014, I realized I didn’t really like the person I saw in the mirror. I really struggled to find exactly who I was and who I wanted to be. I struggled with expectations and stereotypes. I struggled with anxiety and control. I had to re-dream my dreams. I struggled with my past and struggled with planning my future.

It’s kind of ironic, you know. When things turn in your direction and your dreams start coming true…all of a sudden there is a fear that will nearly paralyze you. I’m not really sure how to explain it, but as soon as I realized some of my dreams were within my grasp, I started questioning my judgement. Do I really want this? What if this really happens?

I dream of a life outside of my comfort zone. I dream of a big city big enough to handle my personality where I can see so many different faces and cultures on a daily basis. I dream of a career that is ever changing.

When the groundwork for this dream started being laid and everything started moving really fast, I thought about backing out. There are a lot of reasons that I started thinking maybe I would be happy staying here, living in Alabama, working here. That has never been my dream. I’ve never dreamt of living in a big house with the white-picket fence and two kids and a lot of money in the bank. That’s a great dream, it’s the American dream. But it’s not my dream.

It sounds crazy, I know, that I would dream of living in an apartment with no car. It sounds crazy, I know, that I don’t want kids until after I accomplish most of my career goals. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s my dream.

While its OK and even great to want those things, it’s just not what I want. It’s difficult to want different things because honestly a lot of people don’t understand. Most of the time, I don’t know if my parents understand. I know it hurts people to think that I want to leave. Trust me, my dad has told me the crime rates, how expensive it is, how much I really wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. I am daddy’s little girl, after all.

But those are the thoughts I started having when I realized my dreams were coming true. I started thinking maybe I do want the ring, the husband, the white-picket fence with 2 kids right out of college. Maybe I do want those things.

But that’s when I really started becoming unhappy and when I really started getting anxious about everything. When I started changing my dreams to accompany those things. Well instead of New York, I can go to Nashville. I can have the house, the car, the southern culture, and the city. I started playing these mind games with myself. In my mind, I was going to have my cake and eat it too. But in reality, I was settling. I was settling for an easier path. A path without uncertainty. A path that I would have complete control over and would be very comfortable.

2014 taught me a lot of things. It taught me people are not always who they say they are. It taught me that it is, in fact, possible to go 3 weeks on less than 5 hours of sleep each night. It taught me how important sleep truly is to our health. It taught me that going to the doctor when you first get sick is better than waiting it out. It taught me that being alone is ok and that it is possible to be happy and alone. It is actually possible to be happier when you are alone. It taught me that a pair of shoes can in fact change your life. It taught me that saving money is important, but what’s the point in having money if you don’t enjoy a little bit of it. It taught me that losing someone is difficult and that death is really, really hard. It taught me that liquid and electronics do not mix. (It actually taught me that in 2012 too). It taught me that if you’re brave enough to ask, you’ll find a lot more opportunities presented to you. It taught me that it’s ok to brag on yourself sometimes. It taught me that I am my harshest critic. It taught me flowers can in fact turn your day around. It taught me that no matter how many people you have pushing against you, you always have at least double that pulling for you. It taught me vacations are nice but there’s no bed as comfortable as the one in my apartment. It taught me I spend an unreasonable amount of money on coffee, and that’s ok. It taught me how much I truly miss running. It taught me that sometimes you have to take a blind leap of faith to get the rewards. It taught me that there is a time to say goodbye. It taught me some of the best friends are made over cheap margaritas and Mexican food. It taught me that if you ask the Lord for it, he will grant your request according to His will. It taught me that Christmas trees are in fact meant to stay up year round. It taught me that my health is one of the greatest blessings in life. It taught me that losing your voice for football before a presentation is in fact worth it. It taught me that it is ok to be selfish, especially when it comes to your dreams.

But most of all, 2014 taught me that if I’m brave enough to dream it, brave enough to ask for it, brave enough to pursue it and brave enough to fight for it, my dreams will come true.

I am grateful for the struggle that was 2014. Because now I can start 2015 with a clean slate, and I can look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

I am very, very blessed and this year, most of all, has reminded me of that over and over. So for 2015, I’m not making any big new year’s resolutions. I want to get back to running and to keep my life a bit more organized (and my room). I want to travel, a lot. I want to be spontaneous. I want to say yes to more opportunities. I want to spend more time building relationships with people who dream as big as I do. I want to spend less time worrying about minimal issues. And most of all, I want to spend more time learning who I am, what I want, and what I’m capable of.

Happy New Year!


A Very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It’s 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Usually, I would be in Tuscaloosa, napping on my grandparents’ couch after baking all morning. We’d be preparing for the entire Brewer/Hood family to pile in the home that my mom grew up in. The count would normally be from 25-30 people, 6 or more dogs, and one cat that wouldn’t show up until after everyone left. Normally, I would have already opened all of my gifts from Santa because he always came to our house a week early so that we could be with our grandparents on Christmas Day.

But this Christmas is different. It’s different because we’re all grown up. My dad and brother both had to work this morning and will go in Friday as well. I just returned from a work trip to south Florida, and I’ll be working from home Friday as well. The gifts are all wrapped under the tree still, and my grandmother has significantly fewer mouths to feed on Christmas Day.

It’s bittersweet. I am so thankful to be home for the holidays this year in my own bed. But I will miss the family meal and white elephant games in Tuscaloosa. I logged on to Facebook last night to find out my best friend from grade school got engaged, several of my friends are accepting full-time jobs and internships, and I’m talking with agencies hundreds of miles away from home. In all honesty, it’s been really hard to get in the Christmas spirit this year. I’ve had all my gifts purchased for a few weeks now. I’ve watched all the movies, drank hot chocolate, been to Christmas parties, and even hosted one myself. My tree has been decorated in my apartment since before Thanksgiving, but Christmas just isn’t the same this year.

I welcomed Christmas break with open arms this year after a trying semester and a schedule full for next. But work never stopped, school never stopped, and here I am, still working, on Christmas Eve. My family has done everything the same. I have done everything the same. But Christmas is just different this year.

I asked for a few things, most of which I picked out with mom in the store, but there’s really not anything I really need or even really want. All of the things I am getting are all “nice to have” gifts that I’m still thankful for, but I’m very aware that they are things this year.

The Brewer/Hood family isn’t the only Christmas celebration with empty chairs this year. The closer Christmas has come, the more aware I’ve been of a hole in my heart. My grandmother is still on my mind, especially with a family holiday being tomorrow.

Someone sent my grandfather an anonymous gift the week before last in the mail. It was an ornament with a poem. It reads:

I still hear the songs, I still see the lights, I still feel your love on cold wintery nights. I still share your hopes and all of your cares, I’ll still remind you to please say your prayers. I just want to tell you you still make me proud. You stand head and shoulders above all the crowd. Keep trying each moment to stay in His grace, I came here before you to help set your place. You don’t have to be perfect all of the time,’ He forgives you the slip if you continue the climb. To my family and friends, please be thankful today. I’m still close beside you In a new special way. I love you all dearly, now don’t shed a tear, Cause I’m spending my Christmas with Jesus this year. 

I’m thankful to that person who sent this gift. My grandfather has it sitting on the mantle and shows everyone that walks through the door. He actually got the tree out after he received it because he knows “she would have wanted it this way.” I’m thankful, too, because it reminds me that she’s not missing anything. Rather, she has a better view and is celebrating with the One who made this holiday.

This Christmas isn’t really different, every material thing is the same. I’m just very, very aware of hurting hearts this year. Perhaps because mine is still healing.

The Lord has been good to me this year. He extended my grandmother’s life 4 months more than the doctors expected, allowing me, my brother, my cousin, and my dad and his brother to spend more time with the little woman who brought us all together. He blessed me with an incredible internship that not only provided professional experience, but that provided the finances that will be used so I can experience an internship across the country this summer. He blessed me with love, but also with a reminder that He has a better plan. He blessed me with supportive friends that have made this year extra special, and new friends that I can’t imagine my life without now. He blessed me with an education at a top tier school for public relations and the opportunity to obtain two degrees in my four years. He afforded me the opportunity to write a thesis and conduct an independent study. He blessed me with a loving brother, an overprotective dad, and a mom who is my best friend. He has ended relationships, formed new ones, and made old ones bloom brighter and better. He has gifted me with professors, advisors and connections that I never knew were  possible and opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. He has connected me with my dream agency and continues to have perfect timing everyday. Through the trying times, He held my hand, dried my tears and is continuing to heal my heart. The Lord has been good to me this year.

My thoughts are with those celebrating the holidays with fewer people this year than last. I’m praying for healed hearts because it hard when your hurting during the holidays. I can only imagine the opportunities 2015 will bring. I’m thankful for the opportunities, the love, the heart ache, and even the pain of 2014 because I know I am a better person for it. I hope 2014 treated you well, and that 2015 treats you better.

So Merry Christmas from me and my family. We appreciate the prayers, love and support you have all shown this year. We hope you have a very, merry Christmas and a happy New Year!



Adventure May Hurt, But Monotony Will Kill You.

So, I’ve been MIA from just about all social media for about a month now, with the exception of Twitter, for a number of reasons. I’ve received numerous texts, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, etc. from several people wondering why I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. I figure it is easier to write a blog, than try to explain in individual messages. But for the record, thank you so much for your messages and for checking in on me. I will of course send each of you messages just to catch up, but for the ultimate explanation… here you go:

September 15 started a spiral of events in my life. My Mimi passed away from a long fight with Parkinson’s Disease. I apologize for not letting anyone know really. It was probably inconsiderate of me not to let anyone know so they could support me at the funeral and etc. But everything happened very quickly because we had prepared for that day since her health started declining quickly in mid July. I didn’t even have time to inform my pastor in Tuscaloosa of the passing. I was surrounded by family, my best friend, and our closest family friends at her funeral. Thank you for your words of kindness and thoughts. Although her passing was expected, the loss is still difficult and weighs heavy, especially with so many significant events occurring that I know she would have LOVED hear about and experience.

After she passed, me and my boyfriend broke up, another loss that weighed heavy in such a trying time. After two such large events happening in the same week, I had a lot of loss to overcome and strength to regain. But as usual, life continued.

On my grandmother’s 73rd birthday, 8 days after her passing, God started working in my life. While I’m sure He was working on my heart in those 8 days, He really started moving on her birthday. I’ve started a new job in September working with a great lady literally living out one of my dreams. It’s been an amazing experience, and I cannot wait to see where else this opportunity is going to take me. Aside from working a job that I love, I also got a new calling at Capstone Agency, the student-run PR firm I intern for at UA. I was moved to account executive of a very large account. While taking over the account only two weeks before the pitch proved to be significantly difficult and time-consuming, I’m so excited to tell you that it went great. Thursday, I pitched to the director of integrated marketing communications for a multi-million dollar corporation. I have not had more than 6 hours of sleep in 3 weeks, I’ve drank at least 3 cups of coffee per day and I’ve been at the office more than I’ve been at my apartment. I’ve napped on the floors of Reese Phifer, I’ve survived my first ear-infection and hole in my ear drum, I’ve overcome obstacles, I’ve lead an amazing team of 9 people, and I’ve made some of the best memories of my life. It’s been spectacular. It’s been amazing. It’s been challenging. It’s been the best experience thus far in my life, and I’m only 20.

I’ve also become a certified Zumba instructor and made 4 great friends while dancing for 9 hours straight. I’ve met a number of international students, all of whom I introduced to the real southern accent (apparently my southern drawl is even more significantly southern than the rest of UA) and good coffee. I’m preparing for my first gala in Chicago on my 21st birthday. And I’ve got two huge clients I’m working for next semester, possibly three. The best is yet to come.

Life has thrown me a curve ball. It hit me in the gut and tried to knock me down. It hurt. It left a bruise that’s still healing. But I’m still standing.

God is within her. She will not fail. 

Sometimes you ignore God long enough because he is asking for change. He is begging and pleading for you to make that change. He gives you chance after chance, sign after sign that something is not right. But you don’t listen because you’re comfortable. Life is easy. While life may not be perfect, at least you know what to expect. Especially in college when life is so unpredictable, when you find something that is predictable and comfortable, it’s hard not to hold on.

So then God has to step in and make the change you refused to make yourself. Sometimes it takes people months to get over stuff like this, for them to see the positives, and to understand what the bigger picture is. But if we open our eyes and listen to some of the things happening around us, you get a glimpse of that overall picture.

For instance, relationships can alter dreams…big dreams. While I may still have been able to move to New York or Seattle while in a relationship, chances were slim to none that he could have followed. So at that point you have to pick between something comfortable and a dream that is out of your comfort zone in a city hundreds of miles away and alone. Too many dreams fall apart at this fork in the road.

Great things never happened in comfort zones.

Since that week, I have had so many opportunities presented to me that I have taken advantage of. Those opportunities will get me my dream job in my dream city someday. Not only that, but I’ve met people with those exact dreams in those exact cities. I’ve met people with my same personality, worked on the same project together and developed friendships that can only be made at 2 a.m. in the basement of a 80 year old building that was a bomb shelter in WWII. Friendships that can only be made running away from a drunk guy who was chasing you at 3 a.m. on your walk to the car.

Because I took those opportunities, I have met some of the people that I will see in NYC and Seattle. I will know people there, I will have friends, and it won’t be so uncomfortable chasing a dream.

You’ll turn out ordinary if you’re not careful. 

As far as my heart goes, it’s still healing. The little things remind me of my grandmother nearly all the time, and I really just want her to be here so I can see her smile when I tell her what’s happening in my life. She was my biggest cheerleader, especially when it came to my career. She wanted to hear all 850 comments from my letter to Cade Foster. “Another one, another one.” She would get so excited. I still haven’t watched an episode of Big Bang Theory. Sometimes it hits me all over again.  As far as a man, I’ve got my daddy, my brother and my poppy and papaw who are the only men I need because they support each and every one of my dreams. And right now I’m focused on guarding my dreams.

Success is not for the lazy. 

My warning is for all the college and high school girls out there with big dreams or those going through a breakup that just can’t understand why… Listen to God and let Him work in your life. Things will start to fall in place. It may take a month or six or maybe even a year, but He’s still there, He’s just working on something really big.