I’m All Over The Place - 2015 Life & Travels Roundup

 

This year has been a sensational whirlwind. I’m always astonished at how quickly the present moments and months disappear into mere memories. I’ve bounced around from here to there, hopping around from one city to the next, attempting to get my life along the way (resulting in the birth of new goal after new goal), often times moving too fast to even keep up with myself. Hence, why my beloved blog became increasingly vacant of new updates as the year shot by like a speeding bullet.

“I’m all over the place, I can’t sit in one place, I’m not ashamed at all.”  

For the majority of 2015, I’ve existed in this ubiquitous space mentally and geographically. There's a lot going on, but what's life if not a little chaotic?  I’m at a critical point where I feel my decisions and habits matter more than ever. No doubt, it’s a good space to be in, but I have my moments where I feel overwhelmed. I don’t have it all figured out -- I don’t know when I will, and I’m [mostly] okay with that.

I moved to the other side of the world, I’m in a completely foreign space, attempting to figure out my life. I have all these aspirations, all these things I want to do, paths I’d like to pursue, and the general life stuff that’s all vying for my attention. One day I know exactly what I want to do, the next I’m thinking “hmm well maybe I should do that first,” and the next I’m back to the original plan.

It’s been a struggle to zoom in and focus on one specific thing. I’m holding strong to the same overarching goal that brought me here, which I doubt will ever change, but the myriad ways I could potentially reach that ambition leave me with tons of ideas to entertain.

A lot of successful entrepreneurs will advise that drilling down on one thing at a time is key. On one hand, I do want to achieve a narrow focus on one specific goal, despite having 532 projects I want to work on at any given time. But, narrowing down and putting other interests to the side is intimidating. What if I end up going hard on one thing and end up realizing it's not where it's at for me? What if I really can make it work juggling a few things -- just until I figure out which one makes the most sense? 

I don’t believe I should stress over anything too much; I’m trying to get my mind in the right place without putting too much pressure on myself. It’s all about balance. My natural steelo is to go-with-the-flow and accomplish tasks as I think of them, but implementing better strategies and processes would probably do me good. For now, I'm going to just keep working, keep my options open, and let my journey lead the way -- until I arrive at which precise path I'm to be sticking to. 

Writing and travel, however, will always be imperative for me. What I hope I’m accomplishing with the blog goes hand in hand with what I want to accomplish with my life: To free myself of any constraints or fears that hold me back from trailblazing around the world, to connect with travel lovers and collaborate with creatives, and to memorialize my travels with the hopes that the tidbits shared here will continue to encourage any and everyone looking to discover somewhere new.

This year has been exactly that. I’ve traveled with friends, family, and now, on the great solo journey. I’ve said "yes" to going for it, and to taking spontaneous trips and miraculously carved out pennies to fund them. I can’t say that I’ve been exactly financially responsible this year, spending my savings on travel instead of budgeting towards buying a home or blahblahblah, but I can’t say I regret a single jaunt either. This year has been like no other…and even though many could say I’m used to always touching the road, the way the year has unfolded out is still surreal.

2015 has taken me on what feels like a magic carpet ride. A chapter of continued growth and self-discovery with lots of stops along the way. To recap:

DC

-- to kick the year off in my home city with a few of my nearest and dearest

San Francisco

-- a mini birthday getaway

Atlanta

-- a reunion with my two favorite girlfriends, and for a visit with my ATL-based family, where I got to see my little cousin Joi off to prom, celebrate my cousin April’s birthday, and finally hold her precious baby Jordyn for the first time(!)

Las Vegas

-- another rendition of rambunctious, unforgettable Sin City shenanigans during Mayweather’s “big” “retirement” match weekend against Pacquiao

 

Arizona

-- to visit my favorite Border Patrol agent/cousin Randy, his wife Lindsay, and my (their) baby girl Kai-Kai(!) in Douglas, Arizona. There's not much to boast in the Mexican-border town, so this trip was simple, all about quality time with the cuzzos. I enjoyed a relaxing weekend in the desert in the comfort of their cozy home. 

Maryland/DC

-- what was originally supposed to be a 3 week stopover turned into 6, which gave me nearly a whole summer of hometown fun back in the good ol’ PG County. A few of the highlights include celebrating 4th of July cracking jokes with my best friends on a rooftop in the city, while we watched fireworks explode from every direction; hanging out at my brothers’ shop, The Cove, on the vibrant H Street in NE, DC, which served as a summertime space for mini local concerts, art shows, a chill and collab spot for creatives, and a store for their brand M&&B -- always great vibes there; and going to the Goldlink + Soulection concert at U Street Music Hall.

I had attended Goldlink's LA concert right before moving away, and had the time of my life. The collective energy throughout the show during every performer’s set was unlike any intimate concert I’ve experienced in a while. With Goldlink being from DC, I knew his hometown reunion show would be, for lack of better phrasing, LIT. Plus, the conglomerate of wavy-dance DJs that is Soulection is everything! It was a must to attend with the bros.

This was by far my favorite night of the summer, and might have been the most fun I've ever had at a live performance. Soulection had the hit bangers and their flowy uptempo mixes covered, while Goldlink and fellow DC-native rapper Chaz French blessed the crowd with their unique flows. They stormed the stage with a tidal wave of high spirits and an army of blow-up pool toys, and transformed the venue into one big indoor beach party; complete with crowd surfing on top of pool rafts. My favorite part, though, was probably when they took it back and had the whole place rocking to Gogo. From what I saw, not a single soul was standing still at any time.

3 weeks at home turned into 6...

My mom had suggested I stay home for an extra 3 weeks, so that I could join my cousins and aunts on an August family cruise.

It was a no-brainer. For one, 3 weeks to catch up with friends and collect my bearings before moving to Thailand just wouldn’t have been enough time -- I didn’t realize that at first when solidifying my move plans. Second, I knew the cruise and the experience of vacationing for the first time with this side of my family would be way too fun to miss out on. So, I happily tacked on the extra 3 weeks and pushed back my flight to Thailand -- the fee was definitely worth it.

I know anytime I speak on DC, I mention my love for the place. Being back home before and after being away for a long period of time, though, helped me appreciate the area and the people there even more. I spent nearly every day in the city, with friends or with family, soaking up unmatchable moments. There’s no place like home, eh?

And to end the beautiful summer with a bang, I had a going away party on my last full night in town, thanks to my friends Diamond & Derrick for providing their space. It was everything I needed. Friends I’ve shared most of my favorite memories with through high school and college came to celebrate, and all had such heartwarming words of encouragement for my big move. (Again, thank all of you SO SO much for coming -- my heart is swelling with appreciation & love...you guys are the best. #EndSceneMush).

 

New York City

--  for a Kid Fury hosted party I purchased a ticket for. However, due to piss-poor planning on behalf of my friend and I on the logistics of this trip, NYC didn’t pan out to actually include the party… whoops. My high school friend Brennan rescued my near-fail of a trip, and I’m so thankful for having him to host me on a whim.

Toronto

-- a trip I spontaneously decided to join 4 of my woes on for the Caribana (Caribbean Festival) experience.

Miami/Jamaica/Grand Cayman

-- for the fun filled family cruise on Carnival Conquest.

 

THAILAND!

--  of course, where I’ve relocated my life (for now) in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

And finally, to the South Pacific Islands of French Polynesia

-- a cruise through Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea (thanks to miraculously winning a prize at my old job), with a stop back in Honolulu, Hawaii for a few days, and a layover in Shanghai for a quick hello to China.

 

What a year. What A Time to Be Alive (...it was only right).

I’m in an extreme state of thankfulness... and hopefulness (just putting it out in the universe that it would be magical to come across a fortune to offset the damage done to my savings). If this is only the humble beginning of what it looks like to live out my dreams, I'm very much here for it. 

I have lots to share from my time spent traipsing through Toronto, the Caribbean, Thailand, and French Polynesia, all to come soon, so stick around!

Kristen Noelle

I consider myself a softly eccentric urbanista. I’m quiet by nature, and I’ve generally always had a mellow laid-back vibe. However, when it comes to my preferences for fun, my style, and my overall thought process, I get a bit more eccentric. I like stepping out of the box of normalcy -- but without forcing anything. I’m a thrill junkie and I live for things that get my adrenaline pumping, such as riding on top of party buses in New York City and hanging off of skyscrapers in Vegas. I spring for bold hues, colorful prints and patterns, and a relaxed look that gives effortless-chic. I like exploring new places and capturing exciting sites. I’m a creative, with a million different ideas running through my mind each day. Whether I’m designing waistbeads, imagining up new clothing concepts, envisioning my next business venture, or planning my next adventure abroad, I’m always thinking of how I can create something great. Being raised in the suburbs but not far from the city and constantly traveling, I developed a love for the best of worlds. The calm and the crazy. The easy-going and the always-buzzing. The soft and the eccentric.