Rhodes and Symi, Greece

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Greece is an artist’s playground. From colorful houses to pool-blue waters, the sun seems to reflect on the whole country with a little more principle, as if its only purpose of creation is to make Greece glow. Despite financial turmoil, the country seems to hold its ground, or at least hold it together for the tourists, who bring a very necessary cash inflow from mainland Europe and beyond. Greece is undeniably beautiful, alive in ways larger than the size of its economy. It was a true blessing to spend part of my summer vacation there, and offered a much needed escape from the craziness of everyday life.

We spent our eight blessed days amongst the Greek isles, on the island of Symi and Rhodes. From a far, Symi is a quiet, quaint island, with one nameless (at least to the average tourist) town welcoming all to its rocky soil. From inside its narrow cobblestone streets and storefront corners, quiet and quaint quickly becomes an insult to its vibrant culture.

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Obviously build up to please the eye of tourist (and succeeded at that goal tremendously) the houses are painted vibrant colors, the people are spirited, and the food, most importantly, is nothing sort of impressive. From a two euro pita gyros lunch, morning date and banana smoothies, to an extravagant last supper of fish, Tzatziki, hummus, Greek salad, lamb Greek food is good at it’s worst and heavenly at its best. Can you tell Greek food is my favorite?

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Everyday was a new adventure with a form of transportation. Day one was a ferry ride to the island of Symi. Day two offered a private chartered speedboat which took us around the island to all the secret coves and insider hotspots. We picked figs from a tree surrounded by local goats and swam in crystal clear waters through a sea cave. Day three was a break from the sun with a hike around town and to Pedi beach, a thirty-minute walk from our apartment. Day four proved we couldn’t stay from the ocean for long as we rented a small “dingy” and attempted to do our own private tour of the island.

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Although strong winds and a maximum speed no greater than 25 km per hour kept us in Symi’s main port vicinity the independence and warm waters made it well worth the sunburns and dehydration. Day five was back on land, renting scooters to see the island from above.

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We climbed hundreds of meters for a spectacular view of the port city and zoomed down the other side of the mountainous island to visit secluded beaches accessed by land. Day six? A ferry ride back to the island hub Rhodes. Day seven offered a bike ride around the old city and a walk back in time with cobblestone streets, castles, and the souls of the knights of Templar. Day eight evoked another item on my bucketlist – “learn to sail”. We chartered a sailboat and got splashed on the deck as we hit wave after wave with the front sail at full mass.

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Greece is truly an artist’s paradise, but obviously also is anyone’s paradise.

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The Gift of Travel

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“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.” – Mohammed

 Traveling is such a privilege. However if you have the means to travel and do not take advantage of the amazing opportunity you have been given, I believe you are denying yourself and others the chance at a more open-minded, kinder, and gentler world. Traveling may not be able to teach you the same things a classroom can, but it teaches you so much more. It teaches acceptance, love, and kindness. Traveling opens your mind to new perspectives and fosters creativity. It makes you curious and brave. Travel takes you outside of your small box, inspiring innovation. It makes the world more complex, but makes what is important in life so much simpler. It makes you modest as you see your way in life is not the only way OF life. I am thankful everyday for the opportunity my family has given me to travel because it has provided me with the best kind of experience and education. In the words of an unknown adventurer, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. More pictures to come from Greece and life, so stay tuned! 


Driving Your Life: Writing A Personal Mission Statement

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Over the summer, I took some time to try and “work on myself”. I went to the bookstore and bought, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and got down to reading. I think that my family probably got sick of hearing me talk about all of Stephen Covey’s theories of personal development, leadership, and positive living. The truth is, spending time to write a mission statement out was probably one of my greatest investments of time this summer. This mission statement is a guiding set of morals, values, and beliefs that I hold, no matter the situation, no matter the ups and downs, no matter my role, and no matter what life throws my way. I know I can base all my reactions, to the good and to the bad, on this mission statement.

I spent all summer and up to this point in my college career to finally come up with something I believe to be a worthy mission statement. I know my mission statement will change as I grow older, and I learn more, love more, and discover more about what life is really all about. It could change in five years or it could change in a week. The important thing, is it will change with me.

But for now, here it is. And now tell me, what’s yours?

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Dear Mom: Thank You for the Gift of A Positive Body Image

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Mom,

There are so many things that I could thank you for. Over the last twenty years, the list of selfless acts I could write about is endless, and the truth is, I could probably never write them down and express my gratitude in the way you deserve.

There is one thing I would like to thank you for that I would like to share with others as well. Something that rather you did intentionally or just happened to stumble into, I do not know. However it has probably been one of the most important lessons of my twenty years thus far, and I cannot thank you enough for what it has done for me and continues to do for me each and every day.

Thank you Mom, from the bottom of my heart, for the gift of a positive body image.

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25 Things I Wish I had Known About When Navigating the Hook-Up Culture in College

You can drive for miles and miles and not pass through a town.

“The hook-up culture”. If you google those words you’ll come up with a bunch of headlines about how the culture is ruining my generation’s ability to find love and be loved. Some say that the hook-up culture is a myth, that studies prove that it doesn’t exist. Others say that the culture is still very prevalent and that it is “killed the possibility of dating in college” and how the hook-up culture is “getting 20-somethings no where”. Whether studies believe it or not, the hookup culture is not a myth. In my experience, it is very, very real.

As a junior in college, I have had time to reflect on this culture. I wrote these 25 points for a Theology and Sexuality class last year, yet I still feel as if they hold so much truth. My friends and I have collectively experienced many of the repercussions of this way of relationships. The hook-up culture is far from new, casual relationships have been happening for a very long time. But I hope that my bit of insight gives you a perspective on what is really going on in universities across the nation and world and how you can navigate it yourselves. Here are my 25 things that I wish someone had shared with me before college and the hook-up culture:

1. You almost never wake up the next day feeling great about a hook-up. There is a reason there is such thing as “Hook-Up Depression”.

2. Looking for love at a house party, club, or bar is asking for either a screwed up, messed up, complicated, stressful relationship. Or heartbreak. Neither sounds all that good. And chances are, you’ll end up with heartbreak in both.

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The Art of Growing Up

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I’ve learned a lot about the art of growing up in the past couple months. It’s exactly 2:50 in the morning and I sit on my bedroom floor admidst pillows and candlelight. Slighlty melodramatic? Of course, I am fully aware. But somehow at the same time, completely necessary. You see, you can’t always choose when inspiration comes to you. — when needed meditation (literally) wakes you from slumber and calls you to pick up a pen and write. When it’s in the early hours of the morning and although you will still have to fufill the day’s tasks ahead, personal reflection takes precedence over slumber.

And what are you to do when inspiration calls?

Answer, of course.

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I’m Back (And As Patriotic As Ever)

 

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First and foremost, I would like to apologize for being off the grid for so long. So much has happened in the last month (has it been a month, that’s crazy!) – so many good, life changing milestones and adventures!

 

 

To start, as you may know already, I spent three weeks hot Alabaman and Mississippian sun completing the ROTC version of boot camp, called field training. The encampment was challenging, stressful, and exhausting, I’d be lying to say I wasn’t counting down every day until it was over. However, it was also a great learning experience full of moments to push yourself to your very limits, learn about leadership and followership, and dig deep inside yourself to find out what you are really made of.

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