PLAYING TOURIST

Soooooo......Hi. How fitting that I'm naming this post "Playing Tourist" when on the other end of the Ithaca trip sandwich is named "I Am Not a Tourist". No one else find that amusing? Just me? Okay.

Justin and I have been in full blown wedding mode. I've had so much material I could blog about, but I didn't have the time to sit down and write them. Since things are winding down (I am totally lying...there is so much to do), I figured I should stop on in for a little check in.

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take in the views

minnewaska state park

The thing about having your wedding in the Catskills...is that it gives you any excuse to go visit. This weekend in particular was two-fold. We had our tasting and my aunt is visiting from the Philippines. Sadly she won't be staying until the big day, but it was so fun having a little ladies trip and having them see the Catskills through my eyes (in a very quick 24 hour trip).

So as I was putting together, I was thinking, "Haven't they seen this place before??" So I scroll through a year's worth of writing and found out I never posted our engagement pictures here! There's a little snippet over here if you want to see. (Engagement photo shoot thanks to Josh Darpino.) Go on..take a few minutes, I'll be right here.

Okay? You're back? Great!

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After having a quick breakfast in Beacon, my mom, aunt and I drove the back roads of Ulster County to a breathtaking park. So this wonderful little place is Minnewaska State Park. It's a little drive out from New Paltz and is a MUST for a little taste of what the Catskills has to offer. It's great in any season, but in Autumn is where it's at!! You get to see the change of leaves that the Philadelphia area just isn't seeing enough of these days. Also, for those on a time constraint, but really want to see some killer views, it's not much work for a great reward. A short walk from the lower lot is Awosting Falls. And a short walk from the upper lot is the scenic vista of Lake Minnewakasa. But I wholeheartedly recommend taking a full day in the park. The trails aren't crazy difficult, and it is just so dang beautiful.

YES. I AM THAT GIRL WHO WEARS VELVET IN THE WOODS.

ROOLEE VELVET TOP (SIMILAR) = THRIFTED ANTHROPOLOGIE DRESS
CITIZENS OF HUMANITY SKINNIES - COUGAR ANKLE RAIN BOOTS

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AND A SELFIE FOR GOOD MEASURE

YOU ARE GORGES | PT.2

The theme of this particular two days of hiking can be summarized in four words.

Bad News.

 

There's Stairs.

I truly believe stairs are the devil's masterpiece. Tell me. Who do you know loves that Stairmaster machine at the gym? Do you know anyone that sees a steep set of never ending steps and thinks that it is ever a good idea? I am neither the latter or the former of those two questions. I'm the one that stares from the base and wishes I could apparate to the top. But we sadly live in a muggle world.

Remember how a few posts ago / few months ago I was saying you need endurance to climb a mountain? The same goes for exploring gorges. The waterfalls, the views, the little chasms and caves...these are all the things that make it worth it.

After we hiked Watkins Glen on our way to Ithaca, we met up with The Craigs at the cutest Airbnb in town. When we settled in, we wandered around the gorge trail that was literally right outside the back door.

Day Two, we headed to Taughannock Falls State Park. It was a Saturday, so pretty busy, but we were able to snag a free spot in the parking lot along the North Rim Trail. Let me tell you, I lost track of all the stairs and inclines we had to do. Pro-tip: Bring Water. Lots and lots of water. But the birdseye view of the gorge is well..gorgeous. My favorite views were actually along the South Rim Trail upstream from the falls. But hey, I'm never going to turn down a TLC reference. And this waterfall, was pretty magnificent.

YOU ARE GORGES | PT.1

This trip was like a mini-bachelor/ette weekend with my matron of honor and her husband. While it was sad we couldn't have the whole crew there, it was super nice to keep it small. This day in particular was a big travel day. We drove from outside of Philadelphia to Ithaca, while making pit stops at Canteen900 in northern PA for brunch and at Watkins Glen State Park for an afternoon hike.

If you know me, I am not one to love many pictures of me. Whenever you do, it's probably only a handful in a set of 100+ images. The photo is either somewhat candid or posed in a not-so-casual-faux-style-blogger way. I can always pick myself apart. A wonky eyebrow. A weird shadow my clothes are doing. An awkward broken ankle look. That bit of love cushions and thick thighs and oddly shaped calves. Why do I always keep talking during a photo? I know the way I see myself is overly critical, and not at all what others see. Body image has always been something that I am aware of. If questioned about it, or even if the topic arises, I shrug it off casually and turn the conversation around because I don't want to get into that rabbit hole about talking about the issues I have with myself.

Body positivity has been a great topic lately. I love the idea of celebrating every shape, size, and color. I love this conversation that's been happening in society. Learning what is healthy for you doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy for another. That the number on the scale doesn't define you. That beauty norms aren't a blanket statement. That no matter what you look like on the outside, it's your heart and soul that matters most. We're all just bones underneath it all. We're all the same. Let's be honest, after this weekend in Charlottesville, the world needs a little bit more honest raw love out there. Eat the doughnut. Go on that afternoon bike ride. Drink the coffee. Hug your besties. You do you. 

Many of my friends keep putting themselves down because they aren't happy with the way they look and feel. And I constantly tell them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. Because that's Truth. That they are beautiful, inside and out. But how many times do I dish out those reassuring words, but not believe it myself? Almost constantly. I have to remind myself to fully experience these moments. Stop fussing with every single detail. Just exist in it and breathe it in. Because a photograph captures the memory. No one will know (or even care) that you felt like a complete doofus standing the mist of a waterfall. Sometimes you have to accept the moments where you're super tired and your makeup is sweating off and just smile.

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ITHACA IS GORGES

It's a saying around these parts.

 

 

I AM NOT A TOURIST

Sometimes you just know someone has a beautiful soul just because of the beauty that flows through them. Rupi Kaur is one of those people. Her book Milk & Honey is a heart wrecking collection of prose that screams of refreshing honesty. I can write pages and pages of reflection on each poem, but this particular one...it met me and said "stay awhile".

 

 

DID YOU THINK I WAS A CITY
BIG ENOUGH FOR A WEEKEND GETAWAY
I AM THE TOWN SURROUNDING IT
THE ONE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
BUT AWAYS PASS THROUGH
THERE ARE NO NEON LIGHTS HERE
NO SKYSCRAPERS OR STATUES
BUT THERE IS THUNDER
FOR I MAKE BRIDGES TREMBLE
I AM NOT STREET MEAT I AM HOMEMADE JAM
THICK ENOUGH TO CUT THE SWEETEST
THING YOUR LIPS WILL TOUCH
I AM NOT POLICE SIRENS
I AM THE CRACKLE OF A FIREPLACE
I'D BURN YOU AND YOU STILL
COULDN'T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF ME
CAUSE I'D LOOK SO BEAUTIFUL DOING IT
YOU'D BLUSH
I AM NOT A HOTEL ROOM I AM HOME
I AM NOT THE WHISKEY YOU WANT
I AM THE WATER YOU NEED
DON'T COME HERE WITH EXPECTATIONS
AND TRY TO MAKE A VACATION OUT OF ME

 

 

I have that wanderlust spirit and that vagabond heart. I'm always looking for the "next big adventure". Staying still only long enough to feel the breeze but never to form relationships. Partially that's probably commitment and trust issues. The other side of that coin was never really having that feeling of "home".

So let's get vulnerable. This post wasn't written in a day. From the time that I started this post to the evening that I decided to finish it up, I've struggled with how I downloaded this poem. When I said this poem said "Stay awhile", I wasn't being quippy. It really wanted me to swim through the waves and past the undertows. It wanted me to climb mountains and gaze at waterfalls. I needed to experience it fully to really understand what it meant for my life right now.

We never thought we'd stay. We thought we were called to head west in that moment and at that time. And we were crushed when we realized we needed to stay put for a season. Even though we know the call is still there. But even before that, we never planted roots. We are explorers at heart. Traveling outside the bubble and had our hearts and bellies filled with everything the the world had to offer.

After leaving the church we met at, we church hopped. A LOT. Until we found a "home church". But we felt like outsiders. We couldn't commit to serving. We used the west coast as an excuse and soon after, we left. Fast forward almost a year. Now we're at this new church with old (and new) friends. And it's refreshing.

But I wonder, if throughout all those years of church hopping to even now, if God has been yelling this poem at me from the top of the mountains. As if He was using a thunderous roar to get my attention until I finally listened. I had to stop for a second, surrender, and make room for a church body to become a resident in my life. While I know this poem is about fleeting relationships, and I can interpret this with false friendships and relationships in the past, I think it's telling me that "home" was always with Him. Not a place. Not a building. Nothing flashy. Not a show. It is honest and raw. It says "Come as you are. Welcome Home."

How could I be a tourist when I have found a home in Him? The longitude and latitude may change in the future. But for now, for this season, I'm here.

NO APOLOGIES AND A HUDSON RETREAT

Do you ever get tired of me apologizing for the lack of posts? I do. Life, real life goes by way too fast that sometimes its takes a little bit longer for me to document it for friends/families/readers to hear about it from a "blogger" perspective. So I'm done saying "sorry".

 

 

SOMETIMES LIVING LIFE IN THE REAL WORLD
IS THE ONLY WAY TO REALLY LIVE

 

 

But that doesn't mean I won't stop sharing my stories/outfits/random-rambling-rants with you. It's just me letting you know there is a whole slew of adventures I have lined up in my writing queue that I will try not to bombard you with all at once. 

 

 

HUDSON, NY

A short little train ride north of New York and a nice little getaway from the South Jersey routine lies the sweet idyllic town of Hudson, New York. Situated along a river of the same name, it has the makings of a perfect weekend getaway...especially to escape this awful awful heat spell we've been going through earlier this week. Justin and I had a walk thru at our venue in the Catskills one weekend, so we decided to make a mini adventure of an overnight trip in this sweet escape. I'm just gonna leave a list of links here of all the places we went to, but if any of our friends are up to taking a little trip for a change of scenery, my car is packed and ready to go.

DINNER : HUDSON FOOD STUDIO     COCKTAILS : OR & BACK BAR
BRUNCH : AEBLE | COFFEE : MOTO

BLUSHING

Lately, I've been having an identity crisis.

A few weeks ago, I had my bridal shower. So I thought it was an opportune time to "get my nails done" to practice for the wedding. I'm a far cry from being a girly girl. I barely get a regular manicure and pedicure. Let's be honest, I BARELY wear any make up during the week. And I have no idea what to do with a curling iron. So getting my nails done is so out of the box from the super relaxed tomboy beauty aesthetic I rock most days. Sissy at Danger Studio was a total darling about it. I went into it a total n00b, and in the end... I kinda liked it.

I might be falling in love with florals.

When it comes to personal style lately, it's been pretty normcore. Tee shirt. Jeans. Throw on the all-weather army jacket and I'm out the door. This is probably due to the deep purge I did last year and only kept my basics. But lately, I've been missing the fashion statements I used to throw together. Cue this floral button down that Husby wishes he could steal from me (the tables have turned). Like previously stated, I hardly go shopping anymore. I only buy pieces when I know I can wear it at least 60 times. TBH, this shirt kept it's tag on for a good month before I even touched it. I actually wanted to return it because I didn't think it was "me". But after this understated tomboy-esque look, I think you may be seeing more of this shirt in future outfits.

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In other news (but not TOTALLY off topic / see floral shirt). Have you listened to Harry Styles album yet? If not, do yourself a favor: crank your windows down and put it on blast. I've been listening to it ever since it came out. Sweet Creature is probably my favorite.

MOUNTAINS

I've been thinking about mountains a lot lately.

Maybe it's that PNW weather that came through the past week. Or maybe it's my inherent need to not be stuck behind a desk because I would rather be exploring. But, I'm thinking it's just the season that many people around me are going through. Many people in my life have been dealing with some sort of change. Husby just left a pretty stable job for a pretty awesome one that will help him grow. Others are just going through a season of unsteadiness, in their jobs, relationships, and the all too common "adulting" struggles.

 

 
 
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SO WHAT DO MOUNTAINS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?

 

 

Valleys are usually used to represent struggles in our life. But without those valleys, we wouldn't have mountains and I think the ascent is so much harder. And while I haven't climbed a mountain like Everest, I have experience my fair share of switchbacks and steep scrambles to honestly tell you: it's hard. But it doesn't have to be.

You can learn a lot from hiking mountains. You realize, with practice, you can build endurance for the climb. You know how to be better equipped (water / snacks / shoes). And with every ascent, you learn a new way to approach the trail.

Lately, my mountain has been "boldness". This mountain has two peaks. Two struggles that I've been facing in both hands.

I do not like being the center attention. I would rather be behind the scenes. So of course, anxiety struck me when it came to the days before my bridal shower. This was the first peak. I kept busy with prep and work. And found comfort in husby hugs. The day went as smoothly as it could (albeit: rain and an interesting wait staff). It was a beautiful day with friends and family that I'm thankful for.

The second peak was a boldness in faith. Funny enough, it coincided with a devotional about the Psalms of Ascent and my church's new sermon series: Summer Soul. This climb has been a lot evaluating and focusing on what kind of Christian I am to be. I have never lied about my faith to those who have asked, but I never shout it off the mountain tops either. I am not one of those Evangelizers on the corner flaunting their faith down a passerby's throat. I am private about my beliefs because I understand that love and grace is a better language. I hoped that my life and my actions are representation enough of being a Christian. But digging deeper, I know I was blessed with the talent of words that I can't be silent.

"Quiet Boldness" has been a phrase that has been sticking with me over the past few days. Quiet is not silent. It's gentle, calm, and ensuring. It's building up those around you so can climb their mountains with them. It's being a vessel to let something bigger to move and work through you. It's being strong and steady in knowing who and whose you are. 

 

 

ENDURANCE : Strong Faith // EQUIPMENT : The Word

 

 

What are the mountains you are facing? Do not be afraid of the climb. It will be difficult, but you are not alone. Push onward. Make your mark. The views from the top are definitely worth it.