Snowbird Life Update

The past couple of weeks have been crazy. I worked a ton during July and had a conference from the 23rd until the 29th in Snowbird, Utah. I went down a day early to hang out with my high school friend who was visiting from Denver. We stayed at the Sheraton in downtown Salt Lake so that we could be close to everything and it has an outdoor pool. We had a great time just laying out by the pool, reading, chatting and relaxing. I needed that day so much! We ate at a delicious vegan restaurant called Zest which had amazing gluten-free, vegan pizza and other yummy appetizers. For dessert we headed to Capo Gelateria Italiana for gelato.

I headed up to Snowbird for the conference the next day. It is so beautiful up there! Seriously though I highly recommending either going up during ski season or hiking during the summer. It is just the resort and the mountains and although I didn’t really expect it to be that isolated, I really liked it. I did not have a ton of time to explore since I was at sessions most of the time but I did go to many of the restaurants up there and I managed to squeeze in a trip of the tram to the top of the mountain. The views were so beautiful and I loved just having some time to myself to walk around. Also I saw a moose!

The conference in general was amazing and I met some really incredible people. The best part of attending conferences is definitely the opportunity to network and find interesting people. My experience was dampened by some news from home which I won’t go to into in this post but it did effect my ability to be present and really take advantage of every opportunity available.

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Erin

On Being Happy

I won’t go into all the details, but I have been struggling on a personal level a lot this year. I realized recently that I haven’t been entirely happy and that has really made me not want to do things that I usually love to do.

The important part of this is that I also realized that my happiness is 100% in my control. I have had some great opportunities and I have amazing, supportive people in my life. I have an amazing job that I really love and I live in a very beautiful place. I thought to myself, how am I unhappy with all these incredible and positive things? What is it that is making me unhappy? The problem is right there. I am way to focused on the outside factors. Happiness is something that can be influenced by outside factors but is ultimately a thing I can control. I can control my own attitudes about my situation and about life in general. This might sound intuitive to some but for me this has been a big realization. I need to take the necessary steps for myself to be happier and have a better outlook on life.

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I want to make a quick note that generally I am a very positive person and don’t usually have a problem making friends and being happy. I have gone through some big changes in the past year and I think I struggled a lot with that. It put me in a state of mind that was not as positive and I started blaming things on other people or outside factors.

A few things I have been doing to change my mindset:

  1. Lots of yoga. This is one that is probably different for everyone but moving your body is a really great way to focus on something else (not thinking too much) while moving your body and getting in touch with your physical self. I overthink things a lot and letting myself let go for an hour or two each day is such a beautiful gift. I want to be clear about this one, it is not at all about losing weight or even being physically fit, its about getting to know myself better and focusing my mind on that.
  2. The 5 minute journal. I only started this about five days ago but I spent a lot of time thinking about it and debating whether or not I should give it a try. I wanted something that puts me in a more positive mindset from the get go every morning. This journal seemed like a great way to influence my initial attitudes about the day while still being true to myself. The journal is just a daily journal with more directed prompts. The prompts are short and quick to make it a very easily attainable habit.
  3. Everyday joys. Incorporation of the things I love and am passionate about into my every day life has been a fun way to remind myself of what I do and who I am, everyday. This sounds vague so I will be more specific about what I am doing. I first made a list of things I love and care about and am trying to dedicate at least 5 minutes a day to thinking about each thing. I am trying to incorporate this into my Instagram stories because it gives me a sense of accountability to those things and it lets me shares those things that I love. One example of this is finding a cool nature video on YouTube or taking the time to explain an interesting biological concept (I think about biology all day but this gives me dedicated time to remind myself of why I love biology). It could also be sharing a trend I am into or a book I am loving. I will say that of all the things on this list, this one is the least developed, meaning I have not made it a habit yet so it might change a little over time.
  4. Intentionality with food. This absolutely does not mean that I am only eating super healthy food, it also does not mean that I previously was not eating healthily. It just means that I am focusing more on what I eat and how it makes me feel. Balance is such an important part of life and it is something I am trying to intentionally bring into my diet. A green smoothie every day has really improved my stomach problems and it has increased my vegetable intake significantly.
  5. Saying yes. In the past I have been that person that always says yes, is always overcommitted and takes every opportunity. This definitely made my life crazy busy but I like being busy, I feel like I work harder, am more productive and am happier when I have lots to do. I realized that I have been making excuses a lot lately which is very unlike me. So, I am trying to say yes to more social things and volunteer for different opportunities at school.

Being happy is a big part of creating the life I want to live. Realizing and recognizing that I have been unhappy has been a big step for me. I definitely hid my feelings and tried to convince myself over and over that everything is okay I am entirely happy with my life right now. It is okay to not be great and happy all the time. Life ebbs and flows and that is just a part of being human. I can’t always control what goes on around me but I can control how I choose to react to things. I may have a gut feeling about something uncontrollable but ultimately I can control how I feel about it in the long run. I choose to be happy with the person I am and to do more of what makes me happy.

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I hope you had a nice, relaxing February. Its already almost March, so crazy!

Erin

2019 Goals

I am a little later than I had hoped to be for this but I still really wanted to do a 2019 goals post. I find these kinds of posts so helpful for me, personally, in sticking to my goals for the year.

Before I get into 2019 I want to do a quick recap of last year’s goals. My major categories were fitness, jobs, travel and friendships. I did okay with my fitness goal for the first half of the year but it definitely fell of the map once I started grad school and because of that I am including it in my goals for this year as well. I think I made some big moves in the jobs category and feel great about where I am right now as a PhD student. I really love this job and love taking classes still so I do have specific goals for my job but I am not making a category since I feel really good about it. I think I also very much fulfilled my travel goal for 2018 and while I will definitely continue to travel this year I did not make it a 2019 goal. Finally, friendships which is a little difficult to gauge but I feel like I did okay at this one. I could do better though and my relationships with people are too important not to include as a goal in 2019 (they will probably be something I always include because they are such a priority for me).

And now on to 2019…

Relationships: I looked back at my section on friendships from my 2018 goals and this is going to be very similar. So many of my good friends live all across the country (and the world) so the situation is still pretty similar. I need to make a conscious effort to keep in touch with people and that can be difficult and time consuming so I do feel like I need to think about some more specific ways I can do that. One thing that would be fun is sending letters. I want to send all of my friends one piece of snail mail throughout the year. I also want to try to visit one or two friends who don’t live close in 2019. This definitely includes my family since I am now in a full time job and living away from all of them. I also need to make friends and work on friendships where I am living now more. That has been really hard with graduate school and being in a new environment but making friends has never been a problem for me before so I feel like I really just need to put the time in and make a conscious effort. I am also including my boyfriend in this category and it is going to be similar for the first several months as we are still living apart but he will be moving here in June so my goals there will definitely change. I think the biggest thing for that relationship is just being very conscious of both myself and him and what we both need in our relationship.

Personal: I am not going to go into this a ton but I am in need of some serious personal ‘discovery’. This sounds a little ridiculous but I feel like I have lost myself a little bit over the past year and a half (basically since graduating college) and part of that is probably due to the fact that I have not had a place to really settle down and parts of me have been spread out across the country. I am really hoping to focus on my self a little this year and prioritize figuring out who I want to be, while taking into account who I am right now and where I come from. This sounds like a really vague goal but in all honesty I don’t have a game plan for this goal yet. It just been something I have thought about a ton and am realizing that I have the power to do something about it.

Fitness: This is definitely the epitome of a new years resolution. Even so, it is important for me to set fitness goals every year. It makes it easier for me to hold myself accountable. This year I am really trying to push this one by setting specific goals and rewards for myself. There are two parts for this. First is walking at least 30 minutes every single day. The second part is doing some sort of workout (whether that is yoga, running or strength training) at least five days per week. I am actually starting with six days a week just to help myself get into it. I am pretty good at working out a lot when I am in a grove but if I stop it is so hard to get back into for me so I am trying to minimize breaks.

Nutrition: In general I eat pretty healthy but I think putting this as a goal is important since both my health in the present and my long term health can be affected. I also specifically have been wanting to get into making healthy smoothies and this is definitely the year. So far I have made at least one smoothie almost every day since I have been home this year. Also in this category is eating less meat. I might talk about this later but for now I just want to do my best to not buy much meat and only eat it once or twice a week.

Blog:  In creating a goal around this blog it is important for me to revisit why I started this blog. I created this and continue to do it for me. It is an outlet that lets me get out of the science world for a little bit and express a side of myself that I don’t usually get to (don’t get me wrong I love science and am basically thinking about biology all day every day). Creativity is an important part of who I am and its something that I don’t feel like I get to really do on a daily basis. I am busy but do want to keep up and try to keep a schedule. I am not going to give exact days but in the next few months I want to get to three times a week. Hopefully I can find the time to give a little more to this project and come into myself on this blog. It has been hard for me to find a good balance between really making this mine and doing what I want vs. what everyone else is doing.

Reading: Kind of along the lines of blogging, I love reading and want to do my best to read a book a week. It is so tough because I have to read so much for grad school so I end up not reading nearly as much as I would like to for fun. I set my Goodreads goal for 30 books, like last year, but I am still trying for a book a week. We shall see how that goes. So far I am almost done with my third book so I am on track, however the two books I finished were both audiobooks (way easier with school).

In comparing my 2019 goals to 2018’s I think its really interesting that a lot of them are very different. I actually really like that because it really feels like I am reflecting on what I need in 2019 and what I did not do as well in 2018.

I hope you are having a great 2019 so far and have set some good goals for yourself!

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Erin

Favorite Closet Additions of 2018

I am trying to spend money as little as possible right now because I am in graduate school and on a very tight budget, however I have made a few purchases this year that I am very excited about and have been wearing on repeat. Here are my favorite items of clothing that I purchased in 2018. I am not including any accessories but am including one pair of shoes that I absolutely love.

Patagonia hoodie: This is hands down my favorite item from 2018. I wear it everywhere! It is so comfortable and the quality is amazing. I also love supporting Patagonia because they have an amazing mission and story!

Leather hooded jacket: This is probably my second favorite purchase from the whole year. It is so comfortable and easy to pair with just about anything (I wore it in my Living in Utah post for an outfit idea). I have never owned a leather jacket and was not sure how I felt about them but this one is absolutely perfect. The gold hardware and hood really drew me in!

Houndstooth skirt: This has been a very popular item with a lot of bloggers and I could not resist those perfect fall colors. I love how people had been styling it and was so pleasantly surprised by how comfortable and flattering it is!

Leopard booties: This were more of a fall thing since it is pretty snowy in Utah right not so I have been sticking to snow boots. But these from Sezane were they perfect way to bring that leopard trend to a classic I wear all the time (heeled booties).

Wunder leggings: I actually ended up getting two pairs one black and one grey and they are so amazing for everyday wear. My black ones are also great for yoga and lighter work outs.

Zella joggers: I got some grey Zella joggers at the Nordstrom sale this year and they have become my go to for loungewear/sweatpants. I will also go ahead and give a shout out to Zella leggings because they are just as good as some Lululemon pairs and way cheaper.

Cashmere white pearl sweater: White sweaters are great because they can be worn pretty much year round. This one is so soft and was definitely a splurge but worth it. I am also a big fan of this Free People sweater, I wore it basically all August and September!

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Erin

Living in Utah

The past four months have been an intense introduction to graduate school, not to mention the fact that I moved to an entirely new state. I chose my graduate program for my lab/advisor (I might talk about this more in a later post) however the location is definitely a bonus! I am a mountain girl through and through and am thrilled to be back in the rockies. Talk about 360 mountain views!

Here are my five favorite things about living in Utah:

Mountains galore. I can’t even explain how beautiful it is! The valley I live in is surrounded my mountains and I love it. There are such amazing hiking trails and plenty of rock climbing.

Salt Lake City. I don’t actually live in Salt Lake but I have gone a couple times and I really like it. There is so much good music, food and drink! I am actually going down there tomorrow with some friends to go to the German Christmas Market.

The location. This sounds kind of strange but I really love being back in the west. I was born and raised in Colorado and I am so psyched to be back in the area. It is way closer to family which is nice as well. There are also so many great national parks and ski areas!

Skiing. Speaking of ski areas! I haven’t skied yet but I have heard great things about the skiing here and am beyond excited.

The people. Everyone has been so nice and I am loving all the outdoor vibes. Moving is so tough especially when you don’t really know anyone so having good people around has been so helpful.

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I also quick wanted to mention that Utah is incredible and so is graduate school but it has been so busy so I am hoping to get on a more regular posting schedule soon!

Erin

 

 

 

Why I Love to Backpack

This is most definitely a very different post than any other I have done, however this part of me is so important that I decided I want to include more of it in my travel posts. Some may not take me for the type of person to pack up the essentials, throw it on my back and head into the great wilderness. The outdoorsy side of me is a major part of who I am and it is why I grew and changed in the ways I did. I think it is so important to have something that let’s you forget about our society for a brief period of time. Here I will share why I love to backpack so much:

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It allows me to clear my mind and free myself from consumerism for a bit: Don’t get me wrong I love to shop, the hunt for my favorite items of clothing and decor is way I do love to spend my time. However, I think it is important to find that place, activity etc… where everything else goes out the window and you can truly be yourself. No one judges and no one is watching. It is my way of unplugging from all of the noise for a bit in order to re-organize my thoughts and stay in touch with myself. So after my first backpacking trip 7 years ago I realized how free I feel when I am out there just with a few friends wandering the mountains. I have everything I need with me so all I have to worry about is slowly making my way to the final destination.

I gain lots of perspective: A part of what I gain on each and every backpacking trip is perspective on so many different aspects of life. Most of all though is perspective on myself relative to the rest of the world, how small I am in such a great world, how small humans are. There are so many other living things in the world and it does me lots of good to be reminded of how we as humans are not the only ones. It also reminds me to be grateful for everything I have. The wilderness can be a very humbling place as you can surround yourself with the sublimity of nature.

It is a relatively cheap way to travel: So there is a lot of gear involved in planning and implementing a large scale backpacking trip but there are lots of ways to do it on the cheap. Also, once you do have gear it is a very cheap way to travel. Over the years I have collected various pieces of backpacking equipment however there are ways to find things or rent for cheaper. Many colleges and universities have rental systems. Definitely not all places but those that have outdoor programs are sure to have a center which will rent to students and employees. Many also rent to community members. This is a great option if you have never been before and are not sure you will like it. Make sure, however, that you learn how to use equipment prior to going into the field. The Sierra Trading Post is a great place to find deals on gear as well as the REI garage sales. Clothing items (quick dry, fleece etc.) are things that can fairly easily be found in thrift stores. I may do a longer post on this in the future but in summary backpacking can be a great way to travel and see beautiful places without breaking the bank.

There is so much time to really get to know people: Backpacking trips have been the best way to truly get to know a person. There is so much time and space to talk and there is nothing to hide behind. I have made some of my best friends in having experiences like this, it really takes a friendship to an entirely new level. Going by yourself can be rewarding as well but I love backpacking with other people. It brings another aspect to the experiences and you can learn so much about the people you are with.

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Erin

Around the Web

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Wonder Woman has really hit it big with this movie! I am going to see it this week and I am absolutely ecstatic because all I have heard are good things. This review sums up the impact pretty well, highlighting just how incredible it is to have such a strong female super hero as a role model. Also, Wonder Woman’s theme song is such a powerful song that is sure to amp you up for any game, workout etc…

Jupiter fly by, this footage is beautiful. It is a compiled video of all the shots taken of Jupiter during spacecraft, Juno’s fly by of the planet. The footage is definitely out of this world. Although this is not really related at all this storm footage compilation is stunning and kind of mesmerizing.

The Antarctic Series is an amazing virtual reality created to show people a more personal look at what some of the harshest environments on the planet are like and to raise awareness of climate change. It is amazing! You can see penguins waddling around, what its like at the research station there, underwater ice caves and much more. I was so surprised at how incredible and interactive it is.

TerraCycle is a website/program that allows you to recycle almost anything. It is a great step in personally reducing your carbon footprint especially if your area does not have a recycling system or if you do not know where to take special items. Basically it allows you to recycle almost anything. It can be kind of expensive but the do partner with some brands to make those items free to recycle. I definitely recommend checking out their website.

Alex Honnold making climbing history. This may not sound very important but what he did was an incredible feat. He free soloed El Capitan in Yosemite which is one of the most iconic but difficult climbs in the world. He scaled a 3,000 foot rock wall with no ropes or assistance in under four hours.

Erin

Summer Goals

Happy Memorial Day! It is definitely the holiday that marks the beginning of summer. It is a tradition in Boulder to go to the big Creek Festival during memorial day weekend and run the 10k through our city. This year I am not running due to an injury but I definitely will be hanging out with friends at the festival. For some reason this weekend has always marked the beginning of summer, probably because school has just ended and warm weather has finally set in. Barbecue season has begun and the reds, whites and blues are in true high style.

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Blouse American Eagle (on sale!), jeans Just Black, shoes Target

Here is my list of things to do this summer:

  1. Hit the beach: Yes I feel like I somewhat already accomplished this in the Bahamas but I do love going to the beach so much and I am hoping to go once more before the summer is over.
  2. Road trip: For some reason this has become a summer staple for me! Last year Aiden and I drove around Colorado, exploring my favorite places and parks and this year we are doing a girls trip to New Mexico to enjoy some pool side sun bathing and gorgeous views. There are an endless number of road trips all over the US and they are so great because you can truly tailor your trip to what you really want to be doing.
  3. See friends and family: Although I will be working for part of the summer, this is the first chunk of time I have had at home for several years and I am super excited to catch up with old friends and see family.
  4. Go sailing: Although Colorado is not the most nautical place I grew up sailing on the east coast and have a love for it even though I am very landlocked. This year the best chance I have will be on the Boulder Reservoir in a sunfish but that will have to suffice. We also have ample opportunity for paddle boarding and swimming.
  5. Hike a mountain: Getting outside always makes me feel better about myself. It is just incredibly freeing, no matter how high the mountain or how low the valley. It is also a great activity to do with friends because it gives so much time to really talk without the distractions of the outside world.

I am sure there are many more but these are my top goals for the summer! I am very excited for all this time in the sunshine after a grey Indiana winter.

Erin

Around the Web

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Baby hippo taking a shower: This video is so cute! A friend showed it to be the other day and I just can’t get enough. The way she wiggles her ears is just adorable.

The Boring Company: This is basically a video of the owner of Tesla’s vision on how to minimize LA traffic. It is pretty cool and kind of futuristic (who knows though how far in the future!).

The Faces of Paris Fashion Week: Damien Florébert Cuypers’ sketches of Paris Fashion week are an inspiration for me this week!

The Travel Hack: This blog has existed for a long time however I was reading some of their posts this week and it just really inspired me to write more about my own travel adventures. I highly recommend checking them out!

Echo Look: I actually found out about Echo Look on The College Prepster and my mind was blown. It really reminds me of Clueless. Its Amazon’s new styling tool and it is incredible! I am really curious to see how it works in practice.

 

Erin

Around the Web

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Here are my favorite finds from around the internet this week. They are pretty random but all of them really made me either smile, think or both. Enjoy!

A Tribute to Carrie Fisher: She seems like such a fun person. This video wonderfully captures her persona, highlighting her humorous side. It brought much joy to my day!

Instagram Dad (FOD): This dad and his kids are so cute! All of Instagram posts are hilarious pictures of him, his wife and four daughters. I really love how his portrayal of life feels so real with lots of joy and lots of struggle.

Edible Water Bottles: This is so cool! Basically it is water encased in a tasteless seaweed extract membrane to reduce plastic waste. I am not sure how I feel about eating one but I would definitely try it out! Also, supposedly they are even cheaper than producing plastic water bottles so it seems like it could be a really awesome way to reduce waste.

Woodpecker Hitches Ride Through Chicago: This is such a cute video of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hitching a ride through the city on some guys car. The driver’s commentary just makes it so much greater as well!

Cute Goats: Goats just make my day so much brighter. They are funny and adorable, so I hope this brings you as much joy as it did to me!

Erin