Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top 5 Happy Hours in Austin

Austin has the best happy hours. Best weather, best prices, and best atmospheres. I don't think they're missing anything.

I've been wanting to do a round-up of my favorite happy hours for awhile and figured I'd take it to my back-dated Instagrams for all the info. Here is what I found (and highly recommend)...

The Driskill. Largely because its iconic and a place to go when in town but also because their daily bar specials are pretty impressive.

For awhile Peche was my go-to with my best friend in Austin whenever we needed a weekday happy hour. If I still lived there I would want to go right now. The atmosphere here is top notch and they have a wide variety of 1/2 price cocktails and food menu items during happy hour.

Bar Lamar at Whole Foods, aka my happy place. I seriously feel at home in this Whole Foods. The fact that you can leisurely have wine or beer in the middle of it all makes it that much better.

Clive Bar is located on the all too popular Rainey Street. If I remember correctly (and their website isn't helping me) their prices aren't marked down too much during happy hour which can be a turn off considering other options but its a great place to start the night and be outside.

El Alma. Always my favorite. Best margaritas... ever. Incredible food. I can't recommend enough. The only downfall here is they stopped discounting my favorite drink (the chilanga margarita) during happy hour. However, its worth it. If you're there, go here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thoughts on Loneliness

I've recently been pushed often to think about and focus on loneliness. Why we feel lonely and how the effects make us feel, how we can utilize loneliness to better ourselves, and how there might be purpose in our lonelier periods of life.

I feel like I talk about my time in Austin often. It was the most pivotal point in my life to date. One thing I don't mention often is why, at the root of who I was during this time, this was all so important. It wasn't the career growth or the times I was doing great things with other people but rather during the first eight months that I lived there. I lived by myself, knew nobody except a few of my mom's friends, and, especially considering I had just come out of my senior year of college, had a great deal of time alone. There were more weekends than not that I didn't have concrete plans and more evenings than not that I spent by myself.

It was during this time that I learned how to truly appreciate loneliness. I was learning who I was more deeply and more rapidly than I ever had before. This is because I had time to reflect and really think about everything I was going through. Due to the uncertainties of my job at the time and the seemingly blind next steps I was always taking, I spent a lot of time praying.

This four month period taught me to appreciate loneliness. I was given that time so that I could grow closer to God and closer to myself.

I often think (and tell James) that things worked out so seamlessly between us because of the time he came into my life. This, I know, was part of God's plan, but I am still awestruck when I think about and realize it. I met James at a time I was more myself than I ever have been. I had such a tremendous amount of trust in God for what was to come that I was able to, as a result, trust James. I knew if things didn't work out that I would be fine... because I knew how to be alone and I knew who I was and was going to continue to be.

Our relationship grew, largely because of the person that he is to himself and to me, but also because I truly appreciated him more than I had ever appreciated someone I dated. He added a different sense of community to my life that I had been longing for and having that, while still having my alone time, created the most balanced relationship situation I had ever experienced. James and I also sometimes will wonder if things would've been so seamless and balanced had we lived in the same city and, contrary to what people might think, I don't think that they would have. We were young and still so new to being independent that we needed forced time alone to continue to grow on our own.

Now that James and I are together all the time, my work is a bit more demanding than it was back then, and I have family and friends around me, I have less alone time. And, it just goes to show, I'm less in-tune with myself and God when my life is so full of busy. This is another reason I'm so thankful for that seven month period... it taught me to find loneliness, even seek it out when I need it, and use it for good.

It is so easy to use nights that I'm alone to drink wine and catch up on TV. It is even easier to spend the hour before I fall asleep in bed on my phone or computer. It is immensely better though, when I spend this time in reflection. I see loneliness as a gift from God and I pray that I don't take it for granted.

"Make me lonely so I can be yours. Til I want no one more than you, Lord. Cause in the darkness I know you will hold me, make me lonely... til you are my one desire, til you are my one true love." 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

INBOUND 2014: Part I

This week I'm at INBOUND 2014 exposing myself to as much content marketing information that I possibly can.

For those that don't know, this conference consists of 10,000 fortunate marketers who are privileged enough to attend sessions and keynotes from headliners such as Martha Stewart, Simon Sinek, Guy Kawasaki, Malcolm Gladwell... and the list goes on.

Because my favorite way to consume, digest, and reflect on information is in bite-sized nuggets consisting of the least amount of words and containing the richest content, here's a look at my top takeaways so far....

"At the end of the day, innovation is about being curious and thinking about what is next and thinking about how we can improve upon what we are currently doing."

"We need to move away from stories and toward relationships. Instead of constant storytelling, shift to story making and make stories with the people that you care about."

"We need to spend time away from technology to recharge our systems."

"At the end of the day its not a device, its a human. We are communicating with people, not numbers on a spreadsheet."

"Leadership is not a rank but a responsibility."

"Business is about human beings looking for people to be around that make them feel safe."

"Leaders are responsible for the people. The people are responsible for the numbers."

"A performance driven company typically means an environment with no trust and safety."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

101 in 1001

While not a new concept, I was inspired by and decided to create a 101 in 1001 list back in May and recently picked it back up by completing the list of 101 things I hope to complete in 1001 days. I have until next November/December to check everything off my list and I have to say I'm excited by the challenge this presents. 

Like the next type-A, organized individual, I have an obsession with lists. Like the next growth-hungry 20-something, I like setting and completing goals and value the feeling of accomplishment and development, even more so in my personal life than in my professional list. 

Here's an excerpt of what I've accomplished since May and several of my favorite items that I have yet to cross off. 

Have you ever created one of these lists? Have you considered doing one? Comment and let me know how it went!

1. Visit my Austin friends (completed May 30)
2. Visit Napa with James (completed July 3)
3. Get engaged (completed July 3)
4. Take a father/daughter vacation
5. Run 2 more half marathons
6. Fully decorate our new apartment and make it "home"
7. Start a long-term volunteer project
8. Buy fresh flowers once a week for a month
9. Finish paying off my car
10. Give up complaining
11. One month with fresh juice shots every morning
12. Learn to make paella 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weddings: Reception Decor

The inspirations and ideas that come with being recently engaged, I've found, can sometimes teeter on the line of overwhelming. Thanks to Pinterest, my growing array of Google docs, and my daily work to-do list that now includes a 'personal' section, I'm doing my best to keep my head above water.

Today I'm finding myself particularly inspired and intrigued by centerpiece and table decor. Below is where my head is and what I'm able to find with my Pinterest searching abilities. Our venue has a very open feel, is indoors, and several of the walls in the room our reception will be held in are floor to ceiling glass. It is on the fourth floor in the middle of Charlotte's uptown neighborhood (meaning our view is more skyscraper, less green). Thoughts on how to capitalize on this?