One of Many.

Before you even think it, I will admit it…I didn’t stick to my one post per month goal. However, I did have this post typed out in the month of February, so we can go ahead and give me an “A for effort.”

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to travel. It’s one investment that betters you as a person, not only for your daily, routined sanity but more deeply for your soul, mental health, and gaining life experiences. I’ll be the first to throw it out there that money is a factor but that’s the perfect opportunity for us to start small. Explore your current state while saving spare change for a bigger trip. Incorporate long weekend trips as opposed to weeks at a time.

So with that being said, this past weekend Chris (aka the boyfriend, babe, etc.) and I took a weekend getaway to St. Augustine, Florida. As current Florida residents, we chose a place that gave us a feeling of being away but still commutable (3 hours) without losing “vacay” time and not too harsh on the wallet. Not that anyone needs a reason to travel, but this was a perfect spot for a Valentine weekend. Each state in the US of has a history of course, just like people do, but I’d rate Florida being one with an interesting story. Our main point of attraction was the Castillo de San Marcos fort. A remarkable structure that endured battle after battle, but continued to stand strong. Now this post isn’t going to be a history lesson, however I would certainly recommend visiting this historic landmark at least once in your life especially if you ever 1. live in Florida, 2. vacation in Florida, and 3. if you love learning. From there we explored the nearby town which is conveniently within walking distance of the fort. If you enjoy handmade gems, crafts, and such then this town would be a delight for you. Another hot spot we hit was the San Sebastian Winery which offered a free self-guided tour through the cellar and free wine tastings along the way. Who can say no to that? Not this wino.

Below you will find some of my favorite moments from our little visit to Saint Augustine. If it isn’t already, please add this town to your must-see list.

Time to Recap.

I know I know, I went missing after only posting a few blogs mid-year. You’ll have an understanding as to why as I explain my recap of how 2016 has been. Now I’m not exactly a business woman, but the experiences of this year for me literally happened in accordance to the four quarters. Whether you like to journal, blog, or even podcast, I think it’s really great to reflect on your experiences. So here we go…oh 2016, what a year you have been.

Quarter One: This year couldn’t have started any better with me experiencing genuine, true happiness. I was inspired, spontaneous, and felt feelings I never have before. It actually kind of started the day before the New Year. I was a support system to others. Explored new parts of town. My photography vision was at a peak. And I didn’t even mind going to work. It was a time where all the puzzle pieces completed the long awaited picture. Sounds like a dream, right? Those first few months were my reality.

Quarter Two: We all know when things are going well and we reach the top of the hill, what has to happen next…and it did. Down the hill I went. You know how I mentioned I had feelings I never felt before? Well, round two of that came into play. My heart was shattered. It was one of those moments where nothing made sense. How did everything feel so right, yet it couldn’t continue on. I wanted to go into my black hole of never dating again…which I did and the guard up went back up. So with that being said, all the other positives slowly diminished. I didn’t really go anywhere. I tried to savor any inspiration I could find but that faded as Spring turned into Summer months.  Thank the Lord for His comforting hands, my family, and best friends. Their effort to make me feel better is forever appreciated. To top off this Q2 sundae with a cherry, I started to feel overworked and underpaid (I know everyone does, but this is about me for once lol) and ended up on a new career search.

Quarter Three: Which leads to the disappearance from my blog. I spent countless amount of time searching for a new job, which if you’ve ever done, it becomes exhausting in addition to your current employment. After a couple solid months, I was able to land not one but two potential positions in two of the leading healthcare organizations in Florida. This is where the saying “follow your intuition” should’ve gone into effect and you’ll see why. I got better vibes from the first offer than the second one but ended up choosing the second position due to a more appealing schedule. I would work four 10-hour days and be off for three, which would mean a three day weekend every weekend. Who would say no to that? Not this gal. In the midst of the job transition, I decided that since it’s been over a few months of staying out of the dating world, I would get online (cause you know meeting people in real life is non-existent anymore and yes even at church) and see what’s going on out there. I signed up and within an hour I wanted to delete my account, but that’s not allowed to happen without being active on it for 24 hours. So I said fine, I’ll give it 3 days, max! The following day I started a conversation with a handsome fellow which transpired to who I now call my boyfriend. July wasn’t too shabby or so it seemed up until I began my new job. In the beginning, it was alright. We all know we have to have patience when adjusting to new places. I was thankful and enjoying the three days off from working those longer days. I was even able to go to Boston with my best friend for a wedding in late August for a weekend. Another week went by and I began to feel like I was in a jail cell (not that I know what that’s like, but we all have an idea). I didn’t ‘click’ with anyone, nor did I really get a chance to interact with co-workers, who were all at least 20 years older. The atmosphere was hostile and was just not meant for me. My depression gene started to seep into my soul and after experiencing it late 2014/early 2015, I refuse to let it fully take over again. I gave myself almost 2 months to adjust and then it was time. I never went back. From the moment I made that decision, a weight instantly was lifted. I was prepared for a temporary unemployment period and really wanted to give myself a chance to breathe. I had been working since I was 16 and only took a couple vacations the past 12 years. Now was my time. After about 3 weeks and a handful of interviews under my belt, I again had two opportunities before me.

Quarter Four: So you’re probably thinking how I was, here we go again. Another chance at deciding which position to choose. Make the right decision, Samantha. Well, I took the position that felt home-like when I went in for my interview and honestly, I needed income to start flowing again. There is actually more in-depth details to this story but I’ll spare you, after two months the second position was still being considered (long on-boarding process) until the time came for me to make the final choice. After careful consideration and tons of support from my family, closest friends, boyfriend, and even both employers, I chose to stay where I had started. And that is when I took a look back a quarter 3 and finally understood why it happened the way it did. So I could end up right here. Happy in my work life again. I’m in a new & creative field, surrounded by a great team, wearing what I choose, and whole-heartedly being myself. To add to the positivity going on, this quarter consisted of two enjoyable trips. The first was in October to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with the best friend and her family. Note: I will forever be a mountain lover. And the second was going to Texas for the first time with my family for Christmas. And to confirm, a lot of things are bigger in Texas. Although I’m always desiring snow fall…I am grateful to have gotten out of Florida a few times this year.

So with all of that being said, to conclude 2016, I have experienced a wide range of emotions. From one of the happiest starts to a year, to heartbreak, a career roller coaster, and finally ending the year with a content heart. If you’ve come to know me, you’ve gathered that my life motto is “Nothing is Random.” What we go through, the things we experience, the places we see/end up leads us to exactly who we are and where we’re meant to be. This moment is what is important. Don’t think of the “what-ifs.” If it’s for you, it will come around. Embrace the chaos and remind yourself that it’s all temporary. Everything is temporary. Like I mentioned in the beginning, taking notes of what you go through is a great way to see how you have changed, gained wisdom, and ultimately grown. 2016 may have kicked my butt a good portion of the year, but I wouldn’t change it because that’s how God intended it to be and I trust him. I have no idea what is to come in 2017, but I know I can always find the light.

God bless, You are Loved, and Happy New Year, y’all!

It’s a choice.

All, or I should say most of us can clearly see that this world is massively corrupted and it seems to only be getting worse as time goes on; however I have some great news to tell you…there is still good out there. Good people, good deeds being done, and good things to come. I read a line by an inspiring fellow story teller by the name of Branden Harvey who said, “It was easy to remain optimistic when I was ignorant to the world’s injustices. Now that I’m aware, optimism has to be a daily choice,” and he couldn’t be more right. Optimism is a choice. If we are able to open our eyes in the morning, then we are given the privledge to choose to be happy. Choose to be positive. Choose to be a kind human. Trust me when I say I know it’s not always easy because death is real, sicknesses exist, and unfortunately not-so-nice people have a tendency to challenge the happy energy we produce. To top it all off, it’s very easy to dwell on all the wrongs, cants and wonts, but in the midst of all that, there are so many things that are right, that can, and that will. You must simply try to see those alternatives. After all, this life is all we get and why waste that energy on things that just aren’t worth giving up our goodness for? If today just doesn’t seem like it can turn around after numerous attempts, then try again tomorrow. Joy comes in the morning or at least a new attempt.

With that being said, I would like to challenge you to a few things for the month of July. I’ll start with something my sister taught me to do at a young age cause I was a brat (some would debate that I still am at times, but that’s just my sarcasm as an adult now), she taught me to think before I speak. And let me tell you, that was one of the greatest traits I accomplished and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. Honestly, it’s probably why I have a high tolerance of patience and haven’t been arrested or punched…lol for real though. Thinking before we speak allows us a moment to process what we hear and a second to make sure we say what we intend, with hopes of it not being hurtful. And if your goal is to be hurtful, then I hope you think twice.

Another one is to start freely complimenting. Being an introvert, I always found myself in my head saying “I like those shoes” or “he has a nice smile” until one day I read an article about compliments that changed my perspective. Perhaps that person you like something of doesn’t have a spouse, maybe they’re friendless, or battles low self-esteem? That one compliment of being noticed by you could change their whole day. It may even make their whole week! Think of how you feel when someone compliments you…now put that energy back out there. One compliment a day.

And lastly, I challenge you to consciously create your happiness. Maybe you’re going through one of life’s obstacle courses at the moment, have been let down, or just feeling bummed. I want you to spark what makes you happy so you can remind yourself that what you feel is temporary. What makes you smile? Put on your favorite music and mentally escape. Go to your favorite place and just be. Spend time with someone who lifts you up. When we are happy, we shine. Be the light this world needs. Choose to be kind. Make the effort to be a good human.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.