“25 x 25”: THE FINAL POST

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Hellooooooo, 25! I’m already thinking big thoughts with you. It’s been about two weeks since my big quarter-of-a-century day and things have been great so far! Lots of positive vibes and fun nights spent with family and friends. But I need to wrap up my 25 x 25 list! To recap, this is a bucket list of 25 things I wanted to do before I turned 25. It was definitely a tough year on me, but there were so many good things too. Besides, I’d like to think that the tough times have made me stronger.

Here’s a final look at the list that accompanied me through life as a 24-year-old:

1 –  Get my Chicago tattoo and/or writing-related tattoo
No tats yet, as I’ve had some second-guessing. But I finally got my ears double-pierced. Tiny accomplishment! 

2 – Get into a yoga/running routine (and stick to it for at least 3 months)
I stuck to a running routine from September through November (then it got too cold and I’m not a treadmill kind of girl). From March through June, I stuck to a sort-of yoga routine. I found a class that left me feeling both strong and balanced and I’m excited to re-enroll after the chaos of summer subsides so I can get back into it!

3 – No longer be in debt
This is a huge accomplishment for me. I officially paid off my debt as of May. Now it’s time to master the art of “saving up.”

4 – Visit Lauren & Kaitlyn at SLU, IWU at least twice, see Jess once
I went to Lauren and Kaitlyn’s Theta Family Weekend and a Blackhawks game in STL (check). I visited IWU for Lauren’s 21st birthday and for Homecoming Weekend, where I participated in Brad’s proposal (huge check). I didn’t get to see Jess once. I GOT TO SEE HER TWICE AND I’M STILL OVERWHELMED AND EXCITED ABOUT THIS. Jess, Lukasz, and Kayla drove 14 hours to spend a long weekend in Chicago this past December. We spent New Years together and explored the city in negative temps. This past May, I used points to fly myself out to Jersey, where I got to hang out with Jess and the NJ crew for a long weekend (which included surprising Eric at his BBQ).

5 – Give vlogging a chance
Within the last year, this is something I’ve changed my mind about. It’s something I’m less interested in. Maybe I’ll give it a shot if/when the time feels right, but it’s not where I’m at right now.

6 – Keep up with my current 365 project
I kept up with taking photos, but did not keep up with posting. Oops. This is something to continue working on. It’s a project that has been near and dear to me for the last five years. I have no intention of abandoning it any time soon.

7 – Learn to be less critical of myself/compare myself less to other girls/friends/bloggers etc.
This is an ongoing thing, but I’ve definitely made progress. I have been actively making a point to stop myself from being so critical. I mean, I’ve always prided myself on doing my own thing and following my own path. Why would I not do my own thing when it comes to myself and my confidence? Yes, I have days where I wonder why I’m “not like her” and why “I don’t have my life together like she does.” But no progress comes from thinking that way.

8 – Make it to 5 concerts (at least three bands I haven’t seen before)
Easy! Out of the following, eleven bands I hadn’t seen before: Monumentour (Paramore & Fall Out Boy), Gavin DeGraw & Matt Nathanson & Andrew McMahon, KONGOS & Young Rising Sons, You Me At Six, Grizfolk & Bastille, The Night We Stole Xmas (Meg Myers, Vancy Joy, KONGOS, & Walk The Moon), Joe Renardo, The Wind and The Wave, and Bobby Long. It was a really good year for me and live music.

9 – Start writing poetry again
This is another thing that has not been syncing with me. My head has not been in the right space for it. New goal: start reading poetry again. Then start writing again. 

10 – Go out more often. Do things. (Kick the anxiety.)
Any time (okay, maybe more like 75% of the time) I’ve been invited out somewhere, I’ve gone. This is a long list, so bear with me: I finally made it to Summer House Santa Monica with Susan. I went to lots of concerts (some even by myself). I went out for tapas in the city with Amanda and Mary. I did my annual Sprinkles & Skyline night out with Gabby. I went to Brookfield Zoo with Mary and Sarah. I went up to Lake Geneva for a day with Lauren and Kaitlyn. I went to Mary’s going away party downtown. I went out for Lauren’s 21st in Bloomington. I went up to Milwaukee to do fall things with Adam. I met GRACE HELBIG HERSELF IN REAL LIFE. I went out on a whim with Gabby and John. I spent Halloween in Milwaukee (dressed as THE cool cats, Britt and Jeff, from Community). I went tailgating in Naperville with Amanda. I went out for Gabby’s birthday. I went out in Lincoln Park for Susan’s birthday. I did an overnighter in The Dells with the sibs. I had four jam packed days of Chicago adventures in Chicago with my NJ fam. I finally met Joe and saw him play a show. I saw and met The Wind And The Wave (bonus: joined their street team shortly after!), I made it downtown for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I had a really fun time socializing and meeting new people at Brad’s St. Patrick’s party. I spontaneously visited STL to hang out with Theresa. I saw and met Bobby Long at SPACE again. I drove up to Wisconsin to visit Amanda. I saw the Blackhawks dressing room. I met my writing heroine, Sarah Dessen. I flew to New Jersey for 5 days and had the most amazing time ever with the best people ever. I did the Color Run (and a handful of other 5Ks). I’ve been planning a million wedding-related things too. The anxiety is still present, but I’m kicking it whenever I can.

11 – Drink more tea/water
Such a simple thing, but I did accomplish it! I’m finally drinking more water and making a point to do it on a daily basis. I can tell how much better I feel when I do.

12- Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)
I think I fell a little bit in love with my NJ fam while in South Jersey. I just kept sitting back and realizing what an incredible group of people they are. I feel like I belong when I’m around them. South Jersey is one of the first places I’ve traveled to in the States that still feels like home, despite how far away it is.

13 – Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way
I officially met Lukasz in December, Joe in January, and Madia in May. I’ve known them all online before getting to meet them in person. But each one has impacted my life in a way.

14 – Take a drive to Nashville for a weekend
The weather hasn’t cooperated with these plans, but it’s not leaving the list until I make it there! 

15 – Get a full-time job
I started full-time at my job in April! Plus I started writing part-time for Literally, Darling. 

16 – Make a stranger laugh
I actually pulled this one off recently. I told the guy at my local pizza place that my mom made me bring her coupon even though I knew I didn’t need to. I got a laugh out of him. Check!

17 – Do/try something new. Anything. (i.e. wake boarding)
Admittedly, I don’t think I tried many new things in the last year. I did give wake boarding a few attempts at the end of last summer. It didn’t go well, but it was something I was terrified of. My chicken arms just weren’t feelin’ it. Oh! I started two new daily projects– on my birthday last year, I started answering my “Q&A A Day” book, the other is something I started on January 1st– it’s called “1 Page At A Time” by Adam JK. Every day, I fill out a page. So far, it’s been a fun way to document this year. 

18 – Run a 5k (with few stops… maybe under 40 minutes?)
Big Dawg Dare, Hot Chocolate 5K, Turkey Trot, Color Run. I didn’t finish any in under 40 minutes though. I’m not giving up on that goal yet!

19 – Learn to cook/bake more
I taught myself how to make soft pretzels (watch out, Auntie Anne’s), fudge brownies from scratch, and elephant ears. I’ve also mastered the art of making Grandpa’s pancakes. I think he’d be proud.

20 – Do something for myself
I took a trip to New Jersey for a weekend to surprise Eric and his BBQ after I jokingly told him I’d be there. It was a much needed, much enjoyed trip.

21 – Go to the planetarium, aquarium, and a Blackhawks game in Chicago
I went to Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo, a Blackhawks game in Chicago and Saint Louis. I didn’t make it to the planetarium or aquarium, but I still would love to visit both. Maybe in the next year!

22 – Watch the sunset and the sunrise over the city
This is a big item on my list that I’m bummed about missing out on. I will absolutely make it happen in the next year. 

23 – Move out (esp. with Amanda)
Amanda pulled it off! She moved out to take her dream job. I’ve decided I’m going to take some time to save up so I can afford to move somewhere cool (ie Lincoln Park, Evanston, New Jersey, Australia… WHO KNOWS!)

24 – Learn something new
I’m cheating a little bit on this one: I’ve learned a lot about myself and my anxiety in the last year. I’ve learned even more about what I want in a relationship. Since working full time, I’ve learned a lot of new stuff in my position. So no, nothing like calligraphy (like last year), but I’m learning. I’m always learning. I never want to stop learning.

25 – Read 24 books
I only read 11 books. Not going to lie, Netflix has been hogging a bit of my free evenings (at least I finally finished Gossip Girl…) xoxo

Total: 16 out of 25

But wait, there’s more!

Twenty-four. I really love that number. And I think I really loved being that age. It was a good year, for the most part (as you can see above). I made a lot of great memories, went to so many incredible concerts, met Patty (from TW+TW) and Sarah Dessen, etc. I mean, you can’t really beat that.

Twenty-four made me realize I need to be my own priority. But I should note that a lot of my good moments were balanced out by plenty of down moments. More accurately, I had about six months that were very down. I fell into a slump that left me feeling extremely anxious and depressed. I can’t remember ever feeling the way I did in that span of time. I didn’t want to leave my bedroom. My family, despite their efforts to motivate me, became enemies. I didn’t want to take care of myself. I was letting them down. I was letting myself down.

At the same time, I remember constantly comparing my present-day self to my 23-year-old self. I was happier at 23, I made it to Australia at 23, I grew so much while I was 23. Why am I not happy at 24? It wasn’t healthy. I know that now and I knew it then. I don’t want to use those months as an excuse for why I didn’t accomplish as much of my list as I wanted to, but the reality is, I didn’t feel motivated. I felt mentally and physically strapped down. This list was not a priority. My goals were not important to me. The whole reason I write a yearly list is to push myself to accomplish more things while in my twenties. For six months, I was being pushed and I had no energy to push back.

I don’t know when I started to rise out of that slump, but I think it had a lot to do with starting yoga and beginning to work full-time. My energy was slowly shifted to more positive things. My parents were no longer on my case about getting a job. I was feeling motivated to make it to yoga. I was actively wanting to take care of myself. I made plans to travel to New Jersey to see Jess & her friends. It took a lot of little things to balance out the few heavy things weighing me down, but I did make it out.

This is not to say I don’t still struggle to this day. This is me acknowledging that 24 was hard and 25 will likely bring some dark days as well. But I think I’m less afraid now. At this point, I’m excited for what 25 will bring, whatever that may be. I’m ready to put myself first. I’m ready to celebrate my sister getting married. I’m ready to explore Chicago more than I ever have before. I’m ready to get into new hobbies and learn new things. I’m ready to grow as a writer. I’m beyond ready to see Twenty One Pilots live in a few weeks.

So, thank you, 24. You made me stronger, you made me less afraid. Hello, 25. It’s time to think bigger and brighter.

Now Playing: December 2014 Edition

We made it to the end of the year. And just think about how much great music we’ve been able to listen to all year. So this month is kind of a mish mash of things I’ve been really into. My favorite artist at the moment is Walk The Moon. I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to get into their music, but WOW am I glad I finally am. Their new album Talking Is Hard is incredible. Between their pop anthem, “Shut Up And Dance,” and their slower jams, like “Aquaman,” you’ll find something you love. If you’re not convinced, go see them live. I guarantee that’ll change your mind.

The best radio station in Chicago put on their second ever Christmas concert and the lineup this year was beyond even my wildest dream: Meg Myers, Vance Joy, KONGOS, and Walk The Moon. I mean. Really? You expect me to have a pulse at the end of that show? So you’ll find some of my favorite tracks by those artists scattered throughout this playlist too. Other than that, I’ve been jamming to “Uptown Funk” and “Moneygrabber” like its nobody’s business. And when I’m not listening to Walk The Moon, I’m listening to the few Christmas songs that don’t drive me crazy (you’ll find those in this list too).

I really can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us, music-wise. I mean, new Fall Out Boy, new All Time Low, new Marianas Trench, new Imagine Dragons??? The list goes on. And I’m just sitting here waiting as patiently as I can. I suggest you stay tuned.

Til then, Happy Christmas and Happy New Year!

Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance
Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk
Fitz and The Tantrums – MoneyGrabber
Walk the Moon – Jenny
Nick Jonas – Avalanche
Walk the Moon – Avalanche
Meg Myers – Heart Heart Head
Vance Joy – From Afar
Chris Cornell – Scream
Josh Ramsay – Baby Please Come Home
The Raveonettes – The Christmas Song
Andrew Belle – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
All Time Low – Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass
Honeyhoney – Punk Kid
Weezer – Da Vinci
Nick Jonas – Jealous – Remix
Vance Joy – Georgia
Walk the Moon – Aquaman
Miley Cyrus – Drive
Taylor Swift – I Know Places
Ella Henderson – Ghost

 

Now Playing: November 2014 Edition

It’s that time of year where I begin daydreaming about summer nights. And that means this playlist is almost entirely country (oops?). The country station has been a frequent friend of mine while stuck in traffic lately, so it’s been great timing for so many artists to be hitting the airwaves. Between Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, and Brad Paisley, I think I’ve got that genre covered for a while.

Now, this is groundbreaking news coming from me: I had a bit of a revelation that Taylor Swift is a pretty good songwriter. She even earned herself two spots below! (You’re welcome, TSwift) … so 1989 is a great album. I gotta give her that. I gave her a chance and I think she finally delivered with an album that everybody will get hooked on. Speaking of pop music, I sprinkled in some Kat Dahlia, Sara Bareilles, and Imagine Dragons, plus two awesome indie tracks (“Trainwreck 1979” and “Hymnals”). Recipe for a perfect pre-winter playlist.

Now, bring on the turkey so we can get back to sunshine and summer….

Eric Church – Talladega
Taylor Swift – Bad Blood
Death From Above 1979 – Trainwreck 1979
Florida Georgia Line – Dirt
HAERTS – Wings
Parmalee – Close Your Eyes
Kat Dahlia – Crazy
Brad Paisley – Perfect Storm
Bebe Rexha – I Can’t Stop Drinking About You
Lee Brice – Love Like Crazy
Sara Bareilles – Gonna Get over You
Thomas Rhett – Make Me Wanna
Imagine Dragons – I Bet My Life
Lorde – Yellow Flicker Beat
Taylor Swift – Style
Grizfolk – Hymnals

 

 

Now Playing: October 2014 Edition

I don’t know if there are many feelings I enjoy quite as much as the wet, golden chill of October. You know the one. It could be 1 in the afternoon, but the sky looks angry, the wind whips around you, and you can almost feel the green liveliness of the leaves slipping away. This is my favorite month to build a soundtrack to.

This playlist is full of swooping melodies, strings, and haunting voices. My favorite. But I also had to include a hefty amount of Yellowcard, since they released their album Lift A Sail on October 7th. These guys have been at it for a long time, but I’m convinced they can do no wrong. Between the Yellowcard, you’ll find a little indie pop (Bleachers’ “Rollercoaster”), a dash of eerie Meg Myers, a pinch of Andrew McMahon (“High Dive,” one of the most noteworthy tracks off his newly released album), a little Hozier and Neulore, and of course Bastille. I saw them play at Aragon Ballroom this month and they absolutely blew me away. Their songs, “Oblivion” and “Laughter Lines” have always been my favorite, but after hearing them played live, I love them even more. And they sound like October.

Happy Halloween and happy listening!

Yellowcard – Convocation
Bleachers – Rollercoaster
Meg Myers – The Morning After
Neulore – In The Orchard
Yellowcard – Transmission Home
Lily & Madeleine – Things I’ll Later Lose
Steve Aoki – Back to Earth
Yellowcard – Make Me So
Neulore – Shadow of a Man
Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods (yes, I know. I can’t believe I’m listening to her either.)
Yellowcard – Lift a Sail
Bastille – Oblivion
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – High Dive
Yellowcard – MSK
Maddie & Tae – Girl In A Country Song
Hozier – Like Real People Do
Nevertheless – When I’m Alone
Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were
Clean Bandit – Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne)
Bastille – Laughter Lines

 

 

25 x 25 (The Bucket List)

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This is my bucket list of 25 things to do before I turn 25. I wrote this in the months leading up to my birthday (this past July), but only just managed to finalize the list. Some are repeats from my “23” list, some are general goals, but all are things that will make me feel a little more accomplished by next year. As I complete things, I’ll probably post little blurbs/Instagram pictures as evidence!

1 –  Get my Chicago tattoo and/or writing-related tattoo
2 – Get into a yoga/running routine (and stick to it for at least 3 months)
3 – No longer be in debt
4 – Visit Lauren & Kaitlyn at SLU, Jaclynn in Ohio, IWU at least twice, see Jess once
5 – Give vlogging a chance
6 – Keep up with my current 365 project
7 – Learn to be less critical of myself/compare myself less to other girls/friends/bloggers etc.
8 – Make it to 5 concerts (at least three bands I haven’t seen before)
9 – Start writing poetry again
10 – Go out more often. Do things. (Kick the anxiety.)
11 – Drink more tea/water
12- Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)
13 – Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way
14 – Take a drive to Nashville for a weekend
15 – Get a full-time job
16 – Make a stranger laugh
17 – Do/try something new. Anything. (i.e. wake boarding)
18 – Run a 5k (with few stops… maybe under 40 minutes?)
19 – Learn to cook/bake more
20 – Do something for myself
21 – Go to the planetarium, aquarium, and a Blackhawks game in Chicago
22 – Watch the sunset and the sunrise over the city
23 – Move out (esp. with Amanda)
24 – Learn something new
25 – Read 24 books

Now Playing: September 2014 Edition

September! How did it arrive and slip by so quickly? This month, I’ve been listening to Vance Joy’s new album, Dream Your Life Away, non-stop. Can you blame me? He is so much more than just “Riptide.” It seems like my mind was on Australia, because I found myself drawn to a band I’d never heard of before: Sheppard. This six-piece indie pop group is from Brisbane and they’ve got a sound that everybody needs to hear. Be sure to check out their single, “Geronimo.” And once you’re sold, check out the rest of their EP.

A few other notable discoveries include Scotland’s very own Twin Atlantic (is there anything better than a vocalist whose accent shines through?), Meg Myers (“Desire” is dark, sexy, and sure to get your heart racing), Hozier (“Take Me To Church” is going to haunt the radiowaves soon), and Ella Henderson (“Ghost” is a pop anthem with a chorus bound to get stuck in your head). Plus an honorable mention to Fall Out Boy for releasing their new single, “Centuries.” I’m positive FOB can do no wrong!

Enjoy this month’s playlist and let me know what you’re listening to!

Twin Atlantic – Hold On
Cobra Starship – Never Been In Love (feat. Icona Pop)
Fitz and The Tantrums – Fools Gold
Two Door Cinema Club – What You Know
Echosmith – Cool Kids
Lewis Watson – stay
Fall Out Boy – Centuries
Meg Myers – Desire
Meg Myers – Go
Vance Joy – From Afar
Vance Joy – Mess Is Mine
Hozier – Take Me To Church
Sheppard – Geronimo
Sheppard – Something’s Missing
Ella Henderson – Ghost
Ben Howard – End Of The Affair
Turin Brakes – Feeling Oblivion
Whitley – The Life I Keep

 

 

Now Playing: August 2014 Edition

Sweet August. Bittersweet August. The month of last-chances for the summer. The month that always manages to fly by, even when you try to savor every minute. This month was a slow one for music, but one of my favorite discoveries from 2014 released their album on the 5th– and thank goodness for that. The Wind And The Wave is a folky, alternative, gritty, country duo. In short: the perfect August band.

You’ll see quite a few of their tracks scattered throughout this playlist. Also keep an eye out for some classic summer jams (“Summer Hair = Forever Young” and “In This Diary”), some mellow tunes (“Live In The Bedroom” and “Welcome Home”), and the only country song I discovered this month (“American Kids”). And no playlist would be complete without a terribly catchy top 40 hit (“Bang Bang” is fun, that’s all there is to it).

Sit back, grab a beer (or, you know, your summer drink-of-choice), and listen to what the last month of summer sounds like. I know I’m not the only one clinging onto it!

The Griswolds – Beware the Dog
Twin Atlantic – Heart and Soul
The Dirty Heads – My Sweet Summer
The Wind and The Wave – My Mama Said Be Careful Where You Lay Your Head
Marianas Trench – Pop 101
Tim Moxam – Live in the Bedroom
Young Guns – I Want Out
Birdy – Skinny Love
The Academy Is… – Summer Hair = Forever Young
The All-American Rejects – I Wanna
The Wind and The Wave – Every Other Sunday Morning
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Cecilia And The Satellite
Kenny Chesney – American Kids
Jessie J – Bang Bang
Colony House – Silhouettes
The Ataris – In This Diary
The Wind and The Wave – Raising Hands Raising Hell Raise ’em High
Radical Face – Welcome Home, Son

 

Now Playing: July 2014 Edition

You know those songs that are inexplicably more enjoyable when you’re wearing shades, the sun is out, and the wind is warm? They’re the songs that make you feel like the sun wants to linger a little longer, like you need to get up and dance around, like you’re in the opening credits of your own romcom/teen romance movie. That’s what I’ve captured in song for Now Playing: July Edition.

I was talking with my best friend-slash-music soulmate-slash favorite Sydney-dweller, Blake, about how we’re constantly moved by how music has such a strong impact on memories. Blake was on a wanderluster’s dream adventure traveling through Europe and like the wonderful musical soulmate he is, came home with loads of songs to tell me about (complete with story of where it was heard). What better way to encapsulate the summer or the adventure of a lifetime than to have a ton of tracks to remind you of it years later?

With that in mind, I threw some older songs and a few favorites from previous Now Playing posts just because they fit my criteria of “the perfect summer song.” The criteria? You just have to feel it when you hear it. I often found myself driving with the windows down and my stereo up with these exact songs. And since July is both the best month of the year and the most summery month of summer, I couldn’t resist. You’re about to hear a lot of happy, energetic, beat-fueled pop (with my signature slow jams sprinkled throughout). Keep an eye out for my absolute most exciting find, Misterwives’ “Reflections.” I still can’t put into words exactly what I love about this song. But maybe that alone says enough.

Without further ado, here’s what I had playing in July. Crank it up and let August rock!

 

Ed Sheeran – Don’t
Hellogoodbye – Finding Something To Do
The Harmaleighs – Sunflowers
NONONO – Pumpin Blood
Said The Whale – I Love You
The Unlikely Candidates – Follow My Feet
Jason Lancaster – You ‘N’ Me
OneRepublic – Love Runs Out
Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better
Magic! – Rude
Miley Cyrus – FU
Iggy Azalea – Black Widow
Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream
Kacey Musgraves – Keep It To Yourself
Hamilton Leithauser – Alexandra
Holley Maher – Perfect Day
MisterWives – Reflections
Sia – Chandelier
Andrew McMahon – Synesthesia
Matt Nathanson – Wedding Dress
The Wind and The Wave – It’s a Longer Road to California Than I Thought

 

“23”: THE FINAL POST

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That’s it! I’m officially 24 as of today *insert belated July 4th fireworks here* (well, technically I have until this evening, but let’s not get that technical for the sake of simplicity, which I’m becoming a fan of more and more these days). Here’s where my “23” bucket list stands on it’s last day:

1. Leave my job at IB

2. Get a new job (and love it) — I got a new job and I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love it. It’s not what I had in mind when I wrote this list, but it’s a new job nonetheless. And I’m using it as motivation to continue looking for the job that I’ll be proud to say I love.

3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation)I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!

4. Meet and hang out with BlakeThis might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.

5. Get my first tattoo — I’ve at least picked what I’d like my first one to be (officially)

6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again, without the anxiety this time

7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL)Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.

8. Get paid to write

9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!

10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most)I did the Color Run in Chicago on June 8th and even though we technically walked the entire thing (with a few bursts of running at most), it was the most fun I’ve had at a 5K and that’s an accomplishment itself.

11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything.I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.

12. Learn something newSo far: calligraphy and how to make guacamole. And guess what? I’ve had so much fun with both of these things that I was reminded of how great it feels to learn something new.

13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete)I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!

14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive wayI’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.

15. Impact someone’s life in a positive wayI talked to Amanda about this one back in March(ish) when she asked what I had left on my list. This was one of them. It took her maybe half a second to say, “Are you crazy? Of course you’ve impacted someone’s life in a positive way!” And because of that, I’m crossing this one off.

16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby)Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.

17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment

18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled

19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!)

20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in MelbourneThis item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which, let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.

21. Do something for myselfI put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.

22. Read a total of 23 books (I read 13.5, which is a big deal for me tbh)

23. Find a new favorite spot in ChicagoI waited til the end of my bucket list time frame to give myself a chance to explore. I thought back to the months I spent interning for The Everygirl and thought of how much I loved Lincoln Park (especially seeing the building where my Grandpa grew up, because the universe does crazy things like that), but my favorite spot was standing on a Brown Line el headed toward the city. It’s not a skyline view you can get unless you’re elevated and I think it’s safe to say that’s my new favorite spot in Chicago.

Total: 18 out of 23

Now before you go, let’s chat.

Looking back at 23, I realize what a great year it was for me: I landed a dream internship, where I got the opportunity to write about music for a huge audience. I pushed my writing boundaries and learned how to write interview questions. I met some really awesome interns who became friends. I saved up enough money to fly myself back to my favorite place in the entire world. I got to visit friends I hadn’t seen in three years and show my sister around where I lived in Melbourne. I got to meet one of my best friends across the world. I met a ton of amazing, inspiring people. I did something that actually still scares the crap out of me and loved every terrifying second of it. I became closer with certain friends. I kept up traditions and made new ones. I went on a date with a guy and ended up dating him for six months. I tried new things, learned new things, ate new things. Generally speaking, I genuinely believe I have grown up a lot over the last 365 days.

Writing this list of things to accomplish in a year not only motivated me to try harder, but also to try new. I like familiar. I tend to stick to things I know, people I know, and places I know. As I go about navigating 24, I plan to do 25 things that will push me to grow even more. Of course, I’ll stick to some familiar things, but I can’t wait to meet more people, date new people, discover new writers and musicians, find a job that makes me feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and hopefully get to know myself better. I always roll my eyes when people say “you need to love yourself before you let someone love you.” And I was always impatient about finding someone to fall in love with. But I’m starting to accept that the universe has a way of doing things that bump you into place, despite the bruises and confusion along the way. I’m learning to love who I am and not roll my eyes when someone compliments me, because guess what? I am pretty awesome.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve already begun writing my “25 by 25” list. It’s in the works, as it likely will continue to be for a couple of months. Even if I don’t finish everything on that list either, I’m excited to see where 24 will take me– or more likely, where I decide to take 24. Despite all of the positivity up there, I had a lot of doubtful, lost moments as a 23-year-old, but I’m actually ready for 24. I’m prepared to have moments of doubt and fear. What I’m finding to be the most important is that I didn’t rush it. Which is why I don’t plan to rush 25 either. After all, I have 25 things I need to accomplish before then!

Now Playing: June 2014 Edition

JUNE WAS SUCH A GREAT MONTH FOR MUSIC THIS YEAR. From Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith to Passenger and Jason Lancaster, let’s call it a music gold mine. This doesn’t happen very often, so I hope you listen with open ears to what I’ve selected—there’s lots to like.

Breaking things down, we start off very mellow, thanks to the phenomenally sad The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack. From there, add a dash of country (Billy Currington), alternative (Young Rising Sons—this might be my song of the summer), and Aussie indie rock (The Cam Nacson band—thanks Blake!). I got a little friendly with top 40 hits this month, thanks to Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, but you can’t deny it’s catchy. Rounding things out, I picked two of my favorite tracks off Passenger’s new album, a couple other country favorites, and two of my (current) favorite Jason Lancaster songs. Toward the end of the month, I discovered a band from Chicago, Mighty Fox, who will hopefully do big things. Their new EP is worth checking out.

What are you all listening to this month?


Ed Sheeran All Of The Stars
Birdy – Tee Shirt
M83 – Wait
The Stationary Set – Close Enough
Billy Currington – We Are Tonight
Young Rising Sons – High
The Cam Nacson Band – No Other Plan
SomeKindaWonderful – Reverse
Ariana Grande – Problem
Ed Sheeran – Sing
MAGIC! – Don’t Kill the Magic
Big Data – Dangerous (feat. Joywave)
Passenger – Golden Leaves
Passenger – Riding To New York
Lady Antebellum – Bartender
Lee Brice – I Don’t Dance
Sam Smith Stay With Me
Rachel Taylor – Porcelain
Jason Lancaster – Change
Jason Lancaster – Hey Jude
Mighty Fox – Wild Ones