Two Homes

When people ask me how Guatemala was, my go-to reply is: “It was really good.” Then they say something to the equivalent of ‘im glad you had a good time’ and then we move on to another topic completely.

Good. It was really good. Sometimes that’s all people want to hear. Sometimes it’s the easiest response. Sometimes it’s the only way you can sum up and put into words the most substantially profound experience of your life.

In truth though, this time in my life deserves so much more than being classified as a ‘good’ time. Even so, I can’t seem to find words to express myself in this instance. Great? Amazing? Life changing? Magical? Time stoppingly awesome? Nope. These words don’t come close to any sort of explanation I’m seeking.

And with that, I’m stumped. The love I feel inside for this country and my time in it, will never be able to be truly communicated. While this frustrates me, I guess it’s also what makes the experience so special.

But where there’s a lack of words, there’s an abundance of photos, and these are the closest things I have to communicating everything I have felt and am feeling.

So, pictures.

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Walking through the market in Santiago- had to snap these delicious looking fruits.

 

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A stunning view from the top of Cerro de Oro- a hike that almost killed me.

 

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Without nature, there’s no life.

 

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My roomie, Josie, getting a confetti egg cracked on top of her head during Semana Santa.

 

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One of the highlights- day trip to the pools of Quixaya. 

 

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Crazy intricate and beautiful ‘carpets’ for Semana Santa.

 

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My absolute favorite Semana Santa carpet. Photo creds to Gato!

 

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View from the top of our sunrise hike.

 

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The 3 amigas! Alex and Heather, I love you two. 🙂

 

 

 

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What did we do to deserve sunrises?

 

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Minor, Heather, Alex, Josie- the gangs all here!

 

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First leg of our Semuc Champey trip- getting up at 5:30, riding in the back of a pick up truck to receive our 10 hour long shuttle ride!

 

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By far the coolest part of Semuc Champey- the cave tour. The whole thing is a candle lit tour.

 

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Before or after I skinned my knee on an underwater rock?? Idk.

 

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THE VIEW. Pretty pretty waterfalls.

 

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Ignore the fact that I look like a 5 year old boy in this picture and just look at how much fun we are having swimming under the waterfalls.

 

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River floating with the beer salesmen, ft Alex’s feet.

 

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Literally the only picture I took inside of a tuk tuk. Aka: Guatemalan uber.

 

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Thank you Dylan, for the bed-full of confetti. Happy Semana Santa! 

 

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The amount of Quetzales I spent on bottles of pop is probably sky high and I have no regrets. Not a single one.

 

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One of our favorite taco shops in San Lucas, with the central park in the background.

 

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I originally posted this picture on instagram with the caption ‘my love for ice cream knows no borders’ and then my mom instantly texted me to express her concern about my fingernails. Just a little side note about doing construction for 3 months in Guatemala- your fingernails along with the rest of your body never seem to be clean. Sorry mom!!!

 

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St. Patty’s Day beers with the ladies at Casa Vieja.

 

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We had to scavenge for green food dye for this, but worth it.

 

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The infamous chicken bus ride to Chichicastenango. Nothing says Guatemala like overstuffing transportation systems!

 

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Semuc Champey!!! Such a magical place that I will never forget. Featuring lady picking her wedgie right smack in the middle.

 

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This is my buddy Renee. And my other buddy, dog that I never learned the name of. Renee and I would do yoga together down by the lake in the mornings and this dog would always want to join in. Maybe her name should be Yogi.

 

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The last picture I took in Guatemala: the view from our roof, clotheslines and all. I already miss seeing this on a daily basis.

 

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My view every morning at yoga. It honestly can’t get any more beautiful than this.

 

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Just because I love artsy yoga pictures. (This was a floating dock and was very hard to pose on.)

 

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Just one more 🙂

 

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This picture was taken on the day we learned how to cook Chili Rellenos at the women’s center. The aesthetic these chilis have deserved to be photographed.

 

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La jefa, doing what she does best: working it in her fedora!!!

 

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Kayaking in San Pedro!

 

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Josie’s birthday cake- definitely as good as it looked. Felicidades!

 

 

 

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One of my favorite pictures EVER. The serenity is unreal.

 

 

I’ve been home for a little over a week now, and while the transition back was a bit strange, I seem to be falling right back into the swing of things. It’s nice to be back in the land of air conditioning, flushable toilets, english speakers, and most importantly….free refills!!!

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me and kept in touch during my travels- it means more than you know. Until next time!

 

Mattie

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What It’s Like Being a Homebody and Adventurer

I have two great loves in my life.

One is sweet, loving, welcoming. Has the warmest hugs. Comforting, a shoulder to cry on, supportive no matter what. An embrace so familiar, a love so captivating that it fills me up and almost swallows me whole. Such vivid happiness.

The other also brings happiness, but in a different form. Daring, spontaneous. Irresistibly intriguing. Always pushing my limits and encouraging me to grow tall but to also dig deep. Never boring. Only passionate, freefalling love. The kind of love people write books about.

These two loves are a part of myself. One is called Homebody and the other is Adventurer. The two couldn’t be more opposite, and at times, it’s difficult for them to both co-exist within me.

If anyone knows me, they know that I hold traveling very near and dear to my heart. The first time I knew I loved being abroad was my very first trip to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala- my freshman year of high school. Oddly enough that’s exactly where I’m sitting at writing this entry from; back where it all started. Traveling is compelling to a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but if I had to pin it down I think it would be this:

TRAVELING IS A FRESH START. I’m not sure if other people will understand this idea but to me, it makes perfect sense. A lot of people have things at home that bring them down, stress them out, and ultimately steal their happiness. But personally speaking, when I’m in a new place, none of that stuff matters. Sure, it might be a physical break but it’s just as much a mental break too. A new start can bring new friendships, experiences, and new perspective upon return.

TRAVELING IS KNOWLEDGE. Not the institutionalized mandated knowledge that I love SO much but the kind of knowledge that can only come from first hand experiences. Honestly, learning on my own terms is something I get really pumped about and especially in a new culture, learning is endless. In a good way. A word I learned as an Anthropology student is “ethnocentric,” which means “comparing another culture to your own” and basically thinking your way of doing things is the RIGHT way. It’s kind of amazing how much we can learn from opening up our minds and learning from other cultures.

TRAVELING IS A RUSH. Obviously I’m not the only one who gets excited for a trip or vacation. Most people I know also love seeing new places like me, so I think this sensation is pretty well known. Nothing really makes me as happy and excited as making travel plans.

So like I said- if anyone knows me, they know I live for this stuff. But the people that know me will also say that I hold something else just as near and dear as traveling: home.

Home is, of course, where my heart is. And as much as I love all of the excitement and newness of traveling, I seem to love being home for the almost opposite reasons…

HOME IS WHERE IM KNOWN. I mean this literally and figuratively. Literally, because everyone knows each other in Weston. But figuratively because my life that I have in my home town is a part of me. I don’t have to try to be someone I’m not. I don’t have to worry so much about “finding myself” because I’m already known for who I am as a person.

HOME STAYS THE SAME. Sometimes life can be so fast paced, especially in college, and it can be exhausting. Things are constantly changing, whether it’s friendships, relationships, jobs; but home always seems to stay the same. Sometimes it’s nice to know that some things will never change.

HOME IS COMFORTABLE. As much as I love new experiences and trying different things, coming back into my comfort zone is always something I look forward to. Home is a routine and I know how to follow that routine like the back of my hand, falling right into place as if I never left.

No matter where I am, whether it’s at college or in Guatemala, I’ll be thinking about home. My family, my pets, my friends, my room, my town…all of it. Maybe not at all times, but these thoughts are definitely in the back of my mind. And no matter how awesome and life changing my time away is, there’s always a little part of me that longs to be home.

So where does this leave me? How can I love 2 things for completely opposite reasons? These are the questions I end up asking myself. And while the answer is still a little unclear, I feel like I’ve found a good enough answer for the moment.

Something I have always seemed to struggle with internally is my inability to be decisive. I had the hardest time trying to decide what college to go to. And if I should break up with my boyfriend. And if I was ordering the right ice cream flavor..(or should I have just gotten the chocolate?) Every decision, big or small, seems to be difficult for me to make. I always want the best of both worlds, and when I’m forced to make a decision, I often second guess myself. I’ve always considered this to be a weakness…

…but in this case, is it? I’m so hard on myself because I don’t want to be a “the grass is greener” type of person, but in this scenario it actually works out. I don’t have to choose between being a homebody and an adventurer because I’m both. I love being away because of the fresh start, knowledge, and the rush. I love being home because I’m known, it stays the same, and it’s comfortable. All of these reasons are opposites, which is why they balance each other out. They aren’t comparable because I love them in different ways. I don’t have to compete with these different parts of myself because they can both coexist peacefully in my life. They fill all my gaps, lighten all my dark spaces, pick up each other’s slack, and make me capable of happiness at all times in my life.

In this way, I think it’s possible to be a homebody and an adventurer. I think if you have enough love and passion for both, then it works perfectly.

Side note: I made this realization this past weekend while writing in my daily journal. I was feeling really home sick after skyping with my family, and really started to struggle with this inner battle of “what am I doing” and “how can I miss home so much but also not want to leave here” It literally eased my mind to address these thoughts and come to the conclusion that I don’t have to be one thing or the other and that I could start using these excuses to be sad as excuses to be genuinely happy. I hope this helps anyone else who is feeling the same way sort through your own thoughts!

Peace & Love

Mattie

Mi Vida Guatemalteca

I’ve been living in Guatemala for almost a month now. My mom has been asking a lot of questions about my when my next blog post will be and when I’m going to post my pictures, so I figured it’s about time I do both. These are for you, mom!

 

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My neighborhood in Xela, where I attended Spanish immersion school. Miss it!!

 

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The view from my 2 hour hike to the tip top of Volcano Chicabal.

 

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I’m a sucker for some pretty flowers.

 

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1 million stairs. Or at least it felt like it.

 

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The view from the hike. The flowers were left over from a Mayan ceremony- obviously a kodak moment.

 

 

 

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One of my first outings in Xela- the cemetery. Almost everyone is buried above ground in these colorful graves.

 

 

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A very fancy grave sight.

 

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This was the view on the walk to the Fuentes Georginas. Just the right amount of spooky.

 

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This picture doesn’t show for it, but these waves were gnarly.

 

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Beach side view from a stunning black sand beach.

 

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I stole this coconut from a friend just to get this picture…worth it.

 

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This dog might have been mangy, but friendly nonetheless. I named him Arthur.

 

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A night out of karaoke and shots with my Celas Maya friends. I miss you people dearly!!!

 

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A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. Captured this pic while in the bathroom at a bar in Xela- loved it.

 

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Spanish scrabble on my last day of class with my dear teacher Carlos.

 

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Countless women with countless stories from Trama in Xela.

 

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First sighting of Lake Atitlan. It’s good to be back!

 

 

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The swinging bridge to Nueva Providencia. Beautiful but a little scary…I’m lying, a lotta scary.

 

 

 

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Sweet sweet Jennifer snacking on some tasty watermelon. Love this little one!

 

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A couple of awesome kiddos from one of the stove sights. Adorable!

 

Ok- sorry it’s not more but that’s all I have to show for this month. I have been really busy doing construction work with the mission and taking pictures often slips my mind. Next month I will try to post again with more photos. Anyway, for those who are wondering, I am absolutely loving my time in Guatemala. I have been truly touched by the people, culture, and work I have been involved with in my short time here so far. (to make a long story short) 🙂

Thanks for reading once again. I hope everyone is well at home. Until next time!

Mattie

The Need To Feel Alive

Everyone has different fears. For some people, it’s spiders. For others, it’s heights. For many, the dark. In a world full of many things to be fearful of, my main fear would have to be coasting.

TOO MANY times I catch myself doing this thing I hate, over and over and over again. Coasting is scary because it’s so easy. It’s too easy to fall into a rut of doing the same thing day after day, going through the motions, feeling more or less emotionless. Coasting means not really caring about the fact that life is passing you by while you are going about your days in a comfortable zombie-like rhythm.

Yes, don’t get me wrong. I am fearful of creepy crawlers, heights, dying, etc etc etc. But what I am the absolute most fearful of is life passing me by. Some days I feel like I live life to the absolute fullest, but then there are other days when I end the day wishing I would have spoken up, made a new friend, done something adventurous, learned something new, told my family I love them, or just wish I did something differently. When I am old and nearing the end of my life on earth, to have these regretful thoughts about my entire life is what I fear the most. And fear, as I’m learning (especially from the latest election) is a very powerful thing.

On the other end of the spectrum, love is also a very powerful thing. The love of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The love of being present and alive is what drives a lot of my decisions and has a huge influence over how I live my life day to day.

I think a lot of people share this same fear and love, whether or not it’s acknowledged. Whether we are driven by fear, love, or a balanced combination of both, the outcome is the same. We want to live our lives to the absolute fullest. We have a need to feel alive. I have compiled a list of little things that I do personally to try to make the most out of every day, and I thought maybe it could be of use to someone, so here it is:

1. Make a mantra for each day. I just recently started doing this and it honestly works wonders. Although it can be a tad cheesy, personally, I love it. A mantra is any positive phrase that you want to embody and remember throughout the day. So if you’re religious, maybe it’s a scripture verse. If you’re not, maybe it’s something like “accept what is, instead of resenting what isn’t” or “make happiness a priority” or maybe something specific like “today I will talk to the cute guy at Starbucks.” Literally anything can be a mantra and it helps keep me centered.

2. Pay it forward. This is super important for me. Every day I TRY to do something for someone else. Whether it’s paying for someone’s coffee, helping someone in need, being a shoulder to cry on, or even literally smiling at someone or loaning out a pencil. Honestly, any small act of kindness makes the difference.

3. Make a to-do list. So this might sound like something that is living more in the future than in the present. And I will admit that I am always 2 steps ahead and sometimes am bad about keeping myself in the present. With that said, I think that I benefit from making a to-do list. I’m not talking about a day to day to-do list but more like a lifetime to-do list that you keep adding to every day. It reminds me of how much I have to live for and all the amazing things I want to accomplish. And for me, it works.

4. Talk to a stranger. Ok, obviously my mom taught me not to talk to strangers. But I feel like if you’re in a public place, not 5 years old, and have good judgment, then it’s ok, right? Talking to people I don’t know is out of my comfort zone, which is why it’s on this list. But talking to strangers can lead to new friends and new stories.

5. Inspire yourself. I do this via blog. Reading other people’s blogs, planning future trips to far off places, watching at makeup tutorials, or looking at recipes on Pinterest, all inspire me in one way or another. Getting inspired by things I love is an awesome way for me personally to be more goal oriented.

6. Laugh really hard. Casssh me oussside, how bow dah? I find a lot of things pretty comical, so this is an easy one for me. But sometimes, someone/something will make me laugh so hard that I will laugh about it days after it happens, and those are the best days. You can’t have a bad day when you’re laughing, right?

7. Tell your loved ones they are loved. I mentioned this in an earlier blog post, but it’s just really important to me. To have a family who loves for you, cares for you, supports you, is something special. Sometimes I’m bad about telling my family how I feel on the daily, but every chance I get I tell them I love them because you never know when the last time will be.

8. Chill out. If you know me, I’m pretty much always stressing out about something. As a natural born worry wart, sometimes it’s so hard to just chill. When I start to get stressed out I remind myself that what I’m stressing over usually doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and being carefree is a better way to spend my time. Life is too short to be stressed all the time. So take a chill pill and take…(see #9)

9. You time. In the wise words of Parks and Rec, treat yo’self. I think it’s absolutely necessary for anyone’s sanity to take a break and get some time to yourself. Doing something you love every day is essential. Even if it’s a couple minutes, I find that it makes me a tad less stressed, and a little more happy.

10. Learn something new. I’m a firm believer that to learn is to live. New languages, new hobbies, new foods, new places, new knowledge always makes me feel like I’m truly living. It’s hard to do this every day, but I will say it’s pretty easy while traveling. 🙂

Personally, this list helps me live every day to the fullest potential and avoid coasting. I think at least trying to make time for even a couple of these things per day is important.

 

To my friends and like 7 followers (lol) : Thank you for reading! I hope you are liking all my extremely personal, probably really cheesy, possibly wanna-be inspirational thoughts. Love ya’ll.

Mattie

Happy Insta, Happy Life?

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Can we just be honest about something? Like the fact that everyone makes their life seem as bomb as humanly possible on social media, regardless of whether or not it’s actually bomb? I’m guilty. Sometimes I will literally think to myself ‘What can I post on social media today?’ It’s sad to openly admit, but it’s ok because I’m bouncing back with an HONEST post about why everyone seems to do it and how I’ve learned to merge my virtual life with my real one.

So let me just start off by saying that the new year has treated me really well so far. I feel like I am finally bridging who I am and who I want to be. I say finally because it seems like for years now, through the process of “finding myself” and whatever comes with high school graduation and the beginning of college, I have seen who I am and who I want to be as two completely different people. For me, I think this led to a lot of low self esteem which I would make up for, of course, on social media. It’s easy to rely on social media to bring you that fulfillment you don’t get in real life. I did this for so long, feeling completely detached from myself but DANG my Instagram feed was looking A1.

This brings me to yesterday. Since I’ve been feeling so at peace with myself lately, I decided that I need a new look to go along with my newfound confidence, so I decided to cut my hair and dye it pink. Yolo, new year new me, and all the terrible cliches that I use on a daily basis had me ready to go. Long story short, my hair was accidentally dyed hot pink. A year ago today I would have hated it, but this year, I dig it. It’s kind of punk rock and that’s something I can get behind.

So that brings me to this morning. Bright pink hair and an attitude to match it, I arrived at the airport at 4:30 am to ship off to Central America. My parents were really emotional, and it was sad to leave my support system behind and conquer traveling to a third world country by myself. Buuuut, I was so stoked for this adventure that any sadness and nervousness I had took a back seat.img_0024

Flash forward to my arrival in Guatemala City. I somehow managed to find my driver in the huge sea of Guatemalan families waiting outside the airport, which personally I think was a miracle of its own. And then came the drive to Xela, the school where I am taking language classes at for the next two weeks. The drive was remarkable. It’s 70 degrees outside and sunny, I’m riding shotgun with Adrian, music blaring, the city bustling, mountains in the background, and all the while chit chatting in Spanish. How is it only the first day and I’m already this tranquil?

Currently, I am sitting in my room, in my host family’s house, thinking hard and blogging like a boss. I have never felt 100 percent sure about a life decision, I’ve never been completely at ease, I’ve never felt like I was exactly where I need to be, until today. I’ve been to this beautiful country before but there is something about traveling by yourself, on your own terms, that is so liberating.

Really the past couple months, but especially today, I have had such an overwhelming feeling of confidence and peacefulness and just every good feeling someone could have. Everything I have done in the past few months has been completely for myself and it’s really starting to take a positive toll on my life in general. I’m starting to rely less and less on social media for self appreciation.IMG_0029.JPG

So, moral of this long, rambling story: Creating an alternate life on social media is such an easy way to trick ourselves into thinking we are where we want to be. I struggle with it and I know a lot of others do as well. But I can guarantee that it feels ten times better to take the steps in real life to becoming that version of yourself you’re striving for. Social media should be a reflection of who we are, not someone else entirely. It’s something to work towards but I think being genuinely happy and doing things you love is a good starting point- that’s where I’m at.

This post might have been a little messy but I was really anxious to get all my thoughts down before I pass out from exhaustion. Thanks for reading! XOXOXOXO

Mattie

The Year of Self Betterment, 2017

I started the new year off with a new journal and new goals to fill the pages with. Although I don’t limit myself to only making goals when a new year rolls around, I do participate in new years resolutions because…why not?

These are my New Years resolutions for 2017:

Be less materialistic. As a young woman in my twenties, I find this to be something I struggle with on a daily basis. I have become a lot less materialistic since high school, but I seem to be constantly torn between the want to be minimalistic and the want to buy literally everything in Urban Outfitters.

Care less about what people think. Being in college has led to a lot of self reflection. I’ve met so many different kinds of people that come from different backgrounds who each have different stories. In a sea of every kind of person, I took note that the coolest kinds of people were the ones who were completely indifferent to what other people thought of them. And boom. A new years resolution was born.

Be present in your friendships. Having always been the kind of person who only has a few close friends, those are the friendships I am honestly invested in. I am constantly learning daily though how having more friends doesn’t mean having less genuine friends, but instead a larger group of people who care about your well-being. Love and be loved.

Say ‘yes’ more often. Ok, so I might have stolen this from Yes Man, but I just love this idea way too much. Especially under the stress of homework, tests, and work, sometimes after a stressful day it’s way too easy to deem it a Netflix night. But I have learned from personal experience that going to that party, hanging out with that old friend, going on that tinder date, or whatever other thing you’re ditching to hang in your room, almost always comes with a great story and a lighter mood. Be a yes man.

Make the absolute most of college. As a college student about half way through, not one day goes by that I don’t question the importance of college. It’s a constant battle between ‘if I have a college degree I will most likely make more money’ and ‘I’m wasting my time, money, and energy on getting a college education’. This year I want to power through, shut down the doubting voices inside my head, and just have a good time. No matter the doubts, college will always allow room to grow in education, friendships, connections, and inspiration.

Practice better self-love. I’d be lying if I said that I loved myself all of the time. I’ve come a long way from my freshman year of high school where I never left the house without makeup and my hair ironed, constantly went on leafy green eating sprees, and never liking what I saw in the mirror. I think a lot more of myself now, but I go on self love droughts that last for weeks sometimes. This year, I’m going to shower myself with love and I think everyone else should too!!

Volunteer more. Not for a resume, not to make myself feel good, not to post on social media, but real, true volunteer work for the right reasons. Too often I catch myself straying from what really matters when it comes to volunteering- the difference you are helping to make and those benefitting from the difference.

Read. I am a book worm in spurts. I start a good book and can’t put it down until I finish it. But college often makes reading seem like more of a chore than a leisure activity, so during the school semester, I tend to not have a desire to read my own books. There is really nothing like reading a book that you can’t put down. That special feeling can only be found between paper pages.

Get in that yoga and gym time. Want to relieve stress? Yoga. Want to feel more in touch? Yoga. Want to channel your thoughts? Yoga. Want to be more flexible? Yoga. Want to feel like a health goddess? YOGA. The same goes for hitting the gym. I have never felt more free and at ease than during meditation or exercising. Join the movement.

Journal more. Writing my thoughts out has never been a strong suit. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words for how I am feeling. Journaling is so important though because it’s an outlet for your mind. Looking back on journal entries can show how much you have grown as a person and as a writer. Self reflection is a vehicle for self betterment.

Make those long term goals. Short term goals? No problem. Long term goals, not so much. Staying dedicated to a goal over a long period of time is daunting and often leads to self doubt as I have experienced first hand. But these goals are the most fulfilling and prosperous goals at the end of the day. With long term goals, you aren’t fulfilling a simple task, but becoming the YOU that you aspire to be.

Get the motorcycle license. Just trying to be a biker babe, is it too much to ask?

Do more for the people you love. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it- my family means everything to me. Like most people, at times I tend to take them for granted and not express my love for them enough. Being active in this love expression makes the difference. Spread the love ya’ll!

Judge less. I realized a few months ago that I have actual relationships built on the foundation of gossiping about other people. There’s always plenty of judgment to go around and not enough positivity. Hoping for more positive energy in 2017.

Go on more adventures. Adventures are out there if you’re looking for them. I think I could actually write another blog post about all the local adventures in KC and the Midwest in general. Getting out of my house or even my hometown and exploring around is one of my favorite things to do, especially when it’s with close friends.

Try new things always. If you know me, I am always looking for new things to try. Doing the same thing day after day gets boring really quick. Whether it’s a new kind of food, hobby, traveling to a place you’ve never been, spending time with people you wouldn’t normally, or taking a cooking class, life is better lived when you live it with wonder.

Love deeply and whole heartedly. And the best is saved for last. The recent election brought a lot of hate to our country. It’s important in these times to remember that people should not be seen by their nationality, gender, religion, or party affiliation. As human beings, we need to look past these differences and instead have compassion, acceptance, and love for one another. No matter who is president, always remember to practice deep and whole hearted love.

Writing out your resolutions can help to motivate you and remind you of what your new year has to offer. I want to wish everyone good luck on their self betterment journeys in 2017- if you want to keep updated on my journey through the new year, I will be blogging off and on while I’m living in Central America for the next few months. Thanks for reading!

Peace and love.

Mattie