Where the hell is my “passion”?

Photo by Louis Blythe on Unsplash

It is impossible to avoid. It stalks your every move. It haunts your dreams, daydreams, and nightmares.

And what is this demon you may ask? The dreaded question. The question that begins to gnaw at the back of your mind beginning in high school.

“What is your passion?” — which inherently translates to: “What were you put on this earth to do?” “What will make you feel fulfilled?” “What will be you contribution to the human race?”

Has anyone in the history of forever actually discovered the answer to this question? (Not posthumously!) Does a One True Passion even exist? It is easy to look back on influential people’s lives and say: “Yes! That was their passion! That was their calling! They were so lucky to know what they wanted to do with their life.”

But do these people just wake up one day and know what they’re meant to do with their lives? No, I don’t think so. We put so much pressure on ourselves to hone in on that One True Passion that we miss so much along the way. The people who appear to live the most passionate lives are not constantly worrying about finding their “passion” or missing out on their one true calling. They are just living and striving to be their most authentic selves.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

So, what does that mean for you? For me, it means changing the way I think about life and the future. If I am constantly living ten years from now instead of the present, I am not truly living. I choose to live in the here and now, embracing each day and the unique opportunities it brings. Join me?


Name One Thing

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Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

What to write? What can I write that will change the world, touch someone’s soul, save their life, give them a reason to keep on going. It would be so easy to give up. Just open social media; turn on the TV — the world is exploding. Annihilating our insignificant lives one by one.

One person commits an act of kindness? Ten more commit murder. How do we keep on? Why do we keep on?

Because to stop is to surrender. To give up is accepting the worst of humanity. We are more than this. We are more than our worst mistakes and faults. We need to find our souls again. We need to seek what binds us together, not what tears us apart.

We need to be kind. We need to love. We need to accept.

I alone cannot change the world, but perhaps together, we can begin to heal. We can take steps forward instead of ten steps back.

I ask you: What makes us the same, not different? Name one thing; it can be anything, that unites, not separates. And then name another, then another, and another. Never stop. Maybe then, the world will change.

Feel free to comment your own thoughts on how we are all more alike than we are different. It could be one word, or a paragraph, whatever you feel is right. Let’s change the narrative.


Ghostbusters: Debunking Gender Stereotypes


So what can I say about the new Ghostbusters movie???

If I could sum it up in one word: refreshing. The movie featured four women as the main characters. Yep, you heard that right: four women. The only main male character was a ditzy, but sexy, receptionist. Sound familiar? The ditzy, sexy (almost always female) receptionist is all too common in the film industry, but Ghostbusters turned the stereotypes of Hollywood on its head. The four female characters are allowed to have brains, be passionate about their careers, pursue their desires, and not once feature a love interest (besides commenting on the attractiveness of said ditzy receptionist which doesn’t really count.) And for once, the women rescue the man! Because, yes, sometimes men need rescuing too.

Also, the women were hilarious! The old sexist stereotype of having too many women in one room definitely does not apply to this highly entertaining film. The four women got along splendidly! And Ghostbusters finally proved that yes, women can be funny too!

As a woman watching this movie, I found it so incredibly refreshing. On the screen were women pursuing their passions, not letting anything stop them, doing what they wanted, being brave, and doing it all without the help of a man. Now, I’m not saying anything against men; I love my husband! But it is wonderful to finally see a big movie portraying women how most women actually see themselves (or hope for themselves), not how the media traditionally frames them.

So if you haven’t gone to see Ghostbusters yet, GO NOW! It definitely will not disappoint.

I am downloading PokemonGo




I am downloading PokemonGo. But not to catch Pokemon. The app has been live for a week now and already become a worldwide phenomenon. I’m seeing even more people than usual hunched over their phones, running across streets, going on long walks, and taking the long way home to try to catch them all. And don’t even get me started on the endless Facebook posts about that one rare Pokemon they found. Frankly, I think you’re all nerds and it’s very annoying. (It’s okay, though, I’m a nerd too; just nerdy about different things.)

BUT my husband and I went on a walk last night, and I begrudgingly admit that the app can be useful in fulfilling a certain passion of mine: travel! The app has made all important tourist locations, historic buildings, monuments, museums, etc. a “Pokestop” where trainers can stock up on Pokeballs and other apparently essential items. (I really have no idea what the Pokemon world entails.) Also, for those of us who are directionally challenged, the app features a map that is quite helpful in planning your route. PokemonGo has literally forced players to wake up to the world around them and explore. And I am all for that! We discovered a quaint museum on our walk last night we didn’t even know existed in our small town, and we plan on going back sometime when it’s open.


So, yes, I have finally caved. I will download PokemonGo. But not to only catch Pokemon, but rather to discover new and exciting places to explore. Bon Voyage Pokemon trainers! May the odds be ever in your favor…or I guess may you catch them all? I don’t even know…but I guess I am soon to find out!


3 Weeks Later

This blog is primarily about travel: both the physical and inner journey. I believe the journeys and adventures we embark on while stationary are just as important. I mentioned in my last post that I have just recently gotten married. Yesterday marked three whole weeks of marriage for Quinton and I! (Hey, we’ve made it farther than some couples!) While I readily admit we know little of marriage as of yet (and this post may seem naive to some), I thought I would just share a few of my thoughts on marriage so far.

Being wedding season, I have seen many posts outlining the difficulties and hardships of marriage, but how it is so worth it in the end, etc… While I admit that some days have been harder than others, our marriage has been quite easy and enjoyable so far. (Maybe because it’s what they call “the honeymoon phase”? I’m not sure yet…) Either way, I think it is important to brag about just how awesome marriage can be too. This is the time to build up and cherish all the ooey-gooey romantic moments. Then when bad days do come along, which I know they will, you will have a solid foundation. Keeping in mind that the good days far outnumber the bad days will help keep life in perspective.

Marriage is like a long sleepover. With some added perks, of course. Wink, wink 😉 Just like with the girls back in middle school, you spend evenings watching movies, making and consuming food together, picking out each other’s outfits, then get up and go to school the next day (or in our case, work). Sometimes you fight, give each other the silent treatment, vent to other friends, but you eventually make up and go eat some more food and repeat.

Quinton summed up one of the most important lessons we’ve learned so far (one that we actually learned even before we got married):

“We’ve learned how to dislike each other.”

Yup, you read that right. Sometimes I really, really, really don’t like my husband! And I know sometimes he really doesn’t like me. And that is totally okay. Why? Because if we liked each other all the time then we’re not pushing one another. We’re not learning and growing and moving forward as individuals and as a couple. We would be static and complacent, which frankly is quite boring and the complete polar opposite of traveling. I do enjoy a good healthy argument sometimes; keeps us on our toes and always moving forward!

So yes, marriage is difficult sometimes, but most of the time it is easy and wonderful! I get to see my best friend every day and share this journey with him. What could be better than that?

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The Post-Event Slump

In the span of only two months, I have graduated college, moved into a new home, started working full-time, and got married. Only three days back from our honeymoon, and I am definitely starting to experience what I term the “post-event slump.”

Parents, teachers, friends, and society-at-large all drilled into my head the importance of college. While my college experience was less than desirable, I stuck it out to the end. I have a degree! I can now check that off my life to-do list.

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Next up, my fiance and I put a deposit down on our first home together. A town home, mind you, but still an investment. We moved into our new place the weekend after my college graduation. Find a place to live: check!

home pic

About two weeks after moving, I was bumped up to full-time at my previously part-time job. (All this while planning my wedding, of course.)

Then two weeks after that, we got married and drove to Florida for our honeymoon on the beach and Disney World. It was an absolutely magical time!


Photo creds to Framed Photography by Katie. https://www.facebook.com/FramedPhotographyByKatie/

honeymoon pic

We have been home for three days, and today was my first day back at work. While I am extremely happy to be married and very much in love with my husband, I still find myself feeling glum. Why is this? Shouldn’t I be jumping with joy? I have achieved all my life goals! Or so society seems to tell me. But all these life goals: college, marriage, a nice home, etc. happened in only four years! Now what do I do with the rest of my life? How am I supposed to find out what I want to do? What comes next? What do I want to come next?

When big events like these happen in our lives, it’s hard to return to the everyday grind of life. We find ourselves feeling dissatisfied and bored. When did we lose the ability to just exist and live our lives not worrying about what happens next? (Or have we EVER had that ability?) Because no matter our best efforts, our lives will likely not go as planned. I know mine sure hasn’t, but I am very happy with where I ended up so far. So why am I experiencing so much anxiety for the future?

As I embark on my first few weeks of married life (which if I’m honest, does not feel that much different from before besides maybe more awesome sex), I am attempting to live each day to the fullest, even the ones I spend at work, cleaning, grocery shopping, paying bills…

I have a feeling my life will be wonderful no matter how much or how little time I put into pinpointing my plans for the future. I am just going to (try!) to sit back and enjoy the ride!


Photo creds to Framed Photography by Katie. https://www.facebook.com/FramedPhotographyByKatie/




Roads Go Ever Ever On

The last post of the class snuck up on me quickly! I have enough material for countless more posts, but I wanted to write about a few of my favorite memories from the last days of my trip. Switzerland was by far my favorite place we visited. It’s hard for me to say exactly what made it so special for me. Maybe it was the lush greenness surrounding me, the clear lakes, the fresh mountain air, the crisp mountain water, the majesty of the Alps…All I know is that I never wanted to leave, and the day we left Switzerland was the most reluctant I had ever been to climb aboard that bus. Ever since then, I have been longing to return to Switzerland. While every other place we visited was amazing, I left a part of myself in Switzerland. I have to admit, I have never felt more at home or more at peace with who I am and the world around me than when I was in Switzerland.


This was our view during our first dinner in Switzerland.


Our first night in Switzerland was draped in fog, creating an aura of mysteriousness and dreaminess.


One of my fondest memories is walking a trail through the woods with my dad and discovering beautiful waterfalls.


The Matterhorn!


I could have walked and climbed the Alps forever! (If not for the oxygen deprivation)


The view outside our hotel room window.


Our Switzerland concert featured the brass section during “Stars and Stripes Forever.” I’m the short one…



I also got to tour my first castle in Switzerland: Chillon Castle.

I have lived in Illinois my entire life, but I feel as if I was meant to live in Europe. During the entirety of my trip, I never once felt afraid, homesick, or nervous. Even though I was surrounded by different languages and cultures, I felt more at home walking the streets of London and Paris and climbing the Alps than I have ever felt here. My dream is to one day return and live in Switzerland for a time. That dream seems unreachable to me now as I struggle to pay rent and buy groceries each month, but I know that whatever I set my mind to I can accomplish through hard work and dedication.

I plan on continuing my blog even after this class has ended and I am an official SIUE graduate. I want to continue sharing my adventures and observations with whoever cares to read. I hope that through my travels, others will be inspired as well!

I wanted to end this segment of my blog with a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien that he features in his book The Hobbit. I believe it perfectly captures the feeling of wanderlust.

Roads Go Ever On

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still ’round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

Au Revoir

Our last sightseeing adventures in Paris consisted of spending two hours in the Louvre art museum. Two hours was not nearly enough time to see even a third of the amazing art the museum holds. Of course, I HAD to see the Mona Lisa.


The Mona Lisa is much smaller in real life than I had expected and rather less impressive. But it is still fun to brag that I got to see it in person!


The Louvre


Another gruesome and confusing painting I found interesting.  

The Louvre was formerly Napoleon’s palace; there is a whole section of the museum dedicated to him. We did not have time to visit that section, unfortunately. The Louvre was a very rushed stop, and I wish we would have had more time to explore. It is definitely on my list of places to visit again and explore as long as I want.

Our last stop was Notre Dame cathedral. The cathedral was closed to visitors, so we had to content ourselves with just the outside of the building. Even just the outside is amazing, though!



I absolutely love the gothic architecture!

After our last sightseeing day it was time to say Au Revoir to Paris. The city was definitely a magical place, and I cannot wait to return again someday! I feel like all I got was a snapshot of what the city has to offer; all it did was whet my appetite and leave me wanting more! The culture, architecture, history, and the people were all so fascinating. I cannot wait to return someday and just walk the streets, explore to my heart’s content, and feel as if I have truly experienced the city of love.

347 Steps

During our last day in Paris, we visited perhaps the most iconic monument of all time: the Eiffel Tower. A couple friends and I climbed the steps all the way to the first platform. We would have made it to the top, but the top tier was closed that morning. We weren’t about to take the easy way out or pay even MORE money just to take the elevator. My legs were screaming, and my lungs were burning by the end. The view and sense of accomplishment was more than worth it, though!


View from the first tier of the Eiffel Tower. Absolutely stunning!


This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. We all had so much fun that day, and I’ll never forget our experiences.


After our climb up the Eiffel Tower, we were set loose to visit the nearby market street of Rue Cler. We got lost multiple times and quickly discovered we had no idea how to read a street map of Pairs. But what is interesting to me now, however, is that I never once was scared of getting lost. Even to this day, I have this irrational fear of getting lost, not knowing where I am, not knowing how to get where I’m going, worried about being late. But while I was in Europe, and especially that day we spent at the Eiffel Tower, I never once worried about being lost. We made the most of our cluelessness and ordered crepes at a bakery we passed. I believe I got a Nutella banana crepe, and it was amazing. Finally, we did manage to make it to Rue Cler! My friend James and I purchased a bag of fresh cherries then strolled casually back to the Eiffel Tower while eating cherries and spitting out the pits. I remember feeling so totally at peace and happy with the world. During that day, Paris truly was a magical place. I have yet to recreate that feeling of utter happiness and peacefulness I felt while strolling back to the Eiffel Tower that bright and sunny morning.

In my next post, I will post pictures from our last sightseeing destinations in Paris. Then, it’s off to Switzerland!

On Tour

After our visit to Montmartre, we performed our Paris concert at Luxemburg Gardens. It was a very peaceful and beautiful area. The concert seemed really rushed, but the audience loved it. Once again, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” march by John Philip Sousa was a huge hit! The most striking aspect of our Paris concert was my father’s discovery of an older woman in the audience who was sketching our performance. I thought it was very neat, and it was a wonderful feeling to know that people oceans away cared so much about us and our music.


Luxemburg Gardens was so green, peaceful, and beautiful. We performed our concert underneath this amazing gazebo.


There’s me playing the trumpet! I’m to the left of the guy in the back row.

After our performance at Luxemburg Gardens, we traveled to another old cathedral where the choir and orchestra performed (I also played during select songs in the orchestra). This cathedral was also magnificent and inspiring. Something about ancient buildings just gets to me and makes me think about all the historical moments that building has housed and witnessed.


Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of this cathedral, but it was absolutely stunning!


The acoustics in this cathedral were astounding!

We ended our concert day with a boat trip on the Seine River which offered our first good views of the Eiffel Tower.



Some of the bridges we passed under were so beautiful!

What could have been more soothing, relaxing, and peaceful than a boat trip on the Seine River in Paris, France during sunset? It was a truly magical experience, and I cannot wait to relive it again someday.

In my next post, I will cover our trip to the Eiffel Tower and the famous Louvre art museum.