San Clemente & Phoenix

When I booked my plane ticket to Hawaii, it was a little cheaper to buy a ticket from San Diego to Hawaii and then back again, and separately book flights from Colorado to San Diego and the reverse through Spirit (because I know how to work their sales and avoid any extra fees). Since Colin lives about an hour north of San Diego, in San Clemente, and we are good friends, I figured I would visit him for 2 nights before Hawaii.

Luckily my friend Chantelle that lives near Denver was kind enough to let me stay over Wednesday night for my very early flight out of Denver, and drop me off and pick me up on my return from the airport. That also allowed me to leave my car at her house, instead of paying for airport parking for 2 weeks while I was away. I arrived at her house around 8:30 pm on Wednesday night and we went out to dinner, which was great. It was nice catching up.

Thursday morning, early, we headed to the airport. I arrived in San Diego around 8:30 am and took an Uber to a coffee shop where I was meeting up with Lauren and Colin again. From the Uber driver, I found out that Uber passengers get rated and drivers can choose to accept your ride or not based on your rating. Mine is 5/5, but I have only taken like 6 rides. After that, Colin and I headed to Poway to hike to Potato Chip Rock, with a brief stop for In n Out burgers (sooo good!). The Potato Chip Rock hike was more difficult than either of us anticipated, due to the heat, lack of sufficient amount of water (although we did have some), and the incline. We made it to the top after much complaining, and we took some epic pictures at the top, after waiting in line with other hikers! Afterwards we chugged some refrigerated gatorades and they were sooo good! We also got slurpees on the way back- yum! We stopped at the grocery store to pick up groceries to cook dinner for his family, which was my favorite lettuce wrapped fish tacos with mango avocado salsa. I accidentally grabbed cat fish instead of white fish, but it was still delicious! Apparently his family is not normally big fish fans, but they loved dinner, so that was great news. Amanda came over and we had drinks and watched the sunset on the beach before dinner. It was great to see her.


Colin, me and Amanda

Friday morning we had a pretty relaxed morning. Colin and I made breakfast with potatoes, eggs, bacon, leftover fish, and some other tasty ingredients. I did a little work on my laptop, then we went down to the beach in wetsuits to try stand up paddle boarding in the Pacific Ocean (my first time!). It was pretty difficult with the big waves, but I managed to stand up a few times. Mostly I paddled and floated around on my knees for balance practice. We took the SUP board back to the house and swapped out for body boards. We went back out and tried to catch a few waves, but the waves were just not cooperating, so we headed back and I took a 2 hour nap. It was fabulous. Then we had drinks and watched the sunset at the beach again, which was awesome. We went and picked up dinner for everyone, and afterwards we talked with his brother and his girlfriend. Colin and I stayed up pretty late talking. Some of my favorite memories are having deep conversations with friends, which often happens late at night. It was great getting to know him better.

Saturday morning we walked down the beach to a cafe and shared some pastries which was delicious. Then I showered and packed up my things and Colin was kind enough to drive me to the airport where I flew out to Phoenix.
One of these is a maple bacon cronut

For some reason, when flying with American Airlines from San Diego to Kona, Hawaii, there was a stopover in Phoenix from 7 pm to 10:30 am the next day. I have no idea why. Luckily, my friend Connie was kind enough to put me up for the night. We went out to dinner at a Chicken and Waffles restaurant and I got red velvet pancakes with a side of bacon and fried chicken. It was delicious. Connie and I had a girls night in, as I knew I would be tired from traveling, and she had been doing a lot of traveling lately, too. We got to hang out with her sweet kitties and we painted our nails, did facial masks, and watched a chick flick. Fun.
Connie & I

Delicious dinner- not pictured, cream cheese spread for pancakes!

The next morning, I made breakfast and we headed to the airport so I could fly to Hawaii!

Conundrum Hot Springs

My friend Mike from Nerd Fitness, who lives in Dallas Fort Worth, was in town for a little over a week in June. He and I have always been pretty good friends, so when he told me he was coming to town and he wanted to go camping or hiking together, I knew we had to make it happen. His family lives outside of Denver, which is just over an hour away from Fort Collins. I planned this awesome trip to Conundrum Hot Springs, but unfortunately none of our other friends could join us (probably because it was a Thursday to Saturday).

Thursday I head out to pick up Mike by Denver, and got to meet his family. They live in a part of Colorado where I had never been, in the country with farms. It was gorgeous. Once Mike was acquired, we headed out to Aspen! We got stuck in some construction on the way, but the drive didn't take as long as I anticipated (probably about 6 ish hours). We arrived and hiked in probably about a mile to set up camp. It was really hot during the day, so we were not prepared for the cold temperatures that night! I brought a hammock and he had a tent and we both did not anticipate the cold!

The next morning we got up, ate a light breakfast, and headed towards the hot springs. We probably hiked about 7.5 miles that day and it was HARD. Between the elevation change, terrain, and heat from the sun, neither of us was doing that great. We were so happy to finally arrive at the hot springs and grab a campsite. We set up camp, even though it was only mid-afternoon, and we promptly both fell asleep in our own sleeping arrangements. A couple hours later Mike woke me up and we ate dinner and went down to the hot springs where we chatted with people. Later that evening, we went back. It was really neat- like a small pond naturally heated. Due to the hike in, it wasn't overly crowded. By around 7 pm I was pretty exhausted from the physical stress of the hike, so I went to the hammock and went to bed, while Mike stayed out in the hot springs talking and staying warm. Since we knew what the situation would be for camping that night in terms of temperature, we were much better prepared and didn't freeze that night.
One of the stream crossings where the water was deep and the current was strong

An overpass for one stream

Gorgeous wildflowers everywhere

Sunday morning we woke up and ate a hearty breakfast (finally, I thought ahead) and got in the hot springs one last time. They were pretty dirty- as in lots of dirt particles got all in your bathing suit and everywhere, but the views from the springs were phenomenal. We started the hike back and I was much better prepared this time, but it was still hot and difficult, even though it was mostly down hill. We were very relieved to get to the car.
Awesome panorama that Mike took from the hot springs

Me in the hot springs (I have a bikini on)

On the way back, our friend Colin was in town from California, so we met up for dinner with him and our Denver based friend Andrea for dinner at IHOP. I ate so much food and it was sooooo delicious and satisfying. It was really nice to catch up with all of them, but I wished I wasn't so dirty and smelly. The two of them went out for drinks, but Mike and I were both too tired and too stinky to go out, so I dropped him back off and headed home. It was a super fun trip and I was glad we got to share that while he was in town. That was a difficult hike, but it was the most beautiful backpacking trip I have ever done. There were wildflowers everywhere. The views were amazing. We saw lots of wildlife. Very awesome trip.

Camping at the Sand Dunes with the Adventurists!

I love being part of the Colorado 20's and 30's Adventurists group on facebook. I've made a lot of great friends through that group, and had a lot of fun adventures. There's so much to do outdoors here in CO and it's been great meeting people to share those experiences with!

In early June, Chantelle organized a trip to the Sand Dunes! It is several hours away, and I got a very late start on Friday. I had some important work to take care of before I left. I ended up arriving near the Sand Dunes around 12:30 pm. I thought it was too late to call my friends to see where everyone was, so I ended up parking my car where I thought was near the Sand Dunes and sleeping in my car with the dogs. It was so beautiful that night- I could see so many stars out every window of my car. The next morning, I saw that I had an amazing view from the car- parked next to a lake near mountains! I took the dogs for a walk and then we headed to the actual park (since I think we accidentally parked on someone's private property).

Where I car camped!

Saturday morning I met up with my friends at the Sand Dunes and we headed over to the Sand Dunes park early. The sand gets really hot and I had the dogs with me, so we wanted to go early. The Sand Dunes were pretty cool since it's unusual for Colorado. It was just like being in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, except smaller and isolated. I climbed up a few dunes and then hung out while my friends continued. It is very difficult physically to climb the dunes! At the beginning of the dunes there is a small stream that runs through. Once my friends headed back, the dogs and I made a beeline for the water. The booties I had for Maximus didn't fit him very well and kept coming off. The sand can get up to 110 degrees and I didn't want his paws to burn, so we hung out in the stream for a while so the dogs could cool off and get some water.

After that, Johnnie and Kelsey and I shared some delicious berries. That afternoon, I caught up with some of my friends, and mostly I just napped and hung out in the hammock that I had set up in the shade. It was fabulous. Then we broke open 2 pinatas- one with candy for the kids, and one with candy and condoms for the adults. My friends are funny! We took some group sunset photos. That night, the group (there were probably 30 or so of us) made a fire and sat around and talked. A little later, some of the group headed down to the dunes park. I was pretty tired, so I went to bed.

Unfortunately, I had not set up the tent up with sand stakes, and during the night, one of the stakes came out and the tent collapsed. I set it back up, but apparently I didn't zip the tent fully closed and Jubi escaped during the night. When I noticed, I walked around the campground with my headlamp calling for her, with no luck. I let Maximus out because they love each other and I hoped he would find her and bring her back. No luck. I was pretty tired and didn't want to wake everyone up by driving around looking for her, so I just slept in the back of my car. I decided to wake up when the sun came up to look for them. Once the sun rose, I opened the door of the car and they were both there waiting for me, and they hopped in. I was so relieved they were ok!

Sunday morning after taking a shower at the campgrounds and walking the dogs, several of us decided to go over and hike to the waterfall. The hike in was not bad, but to actually get to the waterfall we had to wade through water with a decent current that was ice cold! It was an adventure!

After that, I headed home. It was a fun trip!

Never Settle

Have you ever felt like you were just coasting, settling, or just keeping your life the same because it was easier that way, even if you weren't truly happy? Have you ever had that slight tug on your heart or Soul indicating that maybe you're not on the right path? Maybe something is calling to you, but you are afraid to take that scary leap. Sometimes it's just this slight thought or feeling that something new and crazy is calling to you. You might not even know what that feeling is leading you towards. Maybe it's just a change from the path you are on now.

The more you listen to that feeling, the easier it gets to know when your Soul is guiding you on a certain path. You can call it Soul, intuition, God, or whatever you want.

I remember the first time I experienced this feeling. I was in fifth grade. One day, the chorus teacher from Leonardtown Middle School came to our school for the day for chorus try outs. I had never before thought about doing chorus. I hadn't considered what the art/music requirements might be for middle school. For whatever reason, I felt pulled to spontaneously go to tryouts. I didn't used to be a spontaneous person. I can be spontaneous now as an adult, but for 10 year old me, that was very different! I still love singing, even though I don't consider myself particularly gifted in that area. Chorus was a very interesting experience for me, and I'm glad I decided to go to try outs that day and made it.

Recently, I experienced this feeling in  a big way. It was precipitated by conversations with friends and family that helped me realize that I wasn't as happy as I thought I was. I realized that I was settling for less than true happiness. Of course, I may not be 100% thrilled with every single moment of my life. There will be some bumps along the way. But I realized that I wasn't listening to my Soul by continuing on that path, and that it wasn't true to what I really wanted.

Making that decision was a very trying one. It meant a lot of big things in my life had to change. Changing those things was very difficult, both emotionally and logistically. Once I made that decision, I stuck to it. There were lots of unknowns and lots of factors at play. Despite other voices urging my to go back to my old ways, I stuck with my decision. I knew there was an important part of me that urged me to that decision. I've had to explain my decision to many people I care about. Not everyone agrees with my decision. That's ok- it's not their decision to live with. Not everyone would have made the same decision I did. That's ok, too. In the end, only you know what is right for you.

I've had to change a lot of my plans, make new plans, brainstorm, and be open to out of the box possibilities as a result of my decision. But I have also experienced some of the most unexpected and true happiness as a result. Things have fallen into my life that I never could have seen coming, and wasn't even looking for. The more time that passes, the more clear it is to me that I made the right decision.

Have you been waffling on a decision? Feeling stuck in unhappiness? Not sure where to go with your life? I urge you to check in with yourself. Some ways that I can connect with my true self- Soul, Intuition, whatever you like to call it- include long drives by myself (have a notebook handy to jot down thoughts when you stop), walks or hikes in nature alone, or meditations (if you have never meditated before, search youtube for a guided 5 minute meditation).

If you still are seeking guidance, especially on an unusual situation or perhaps you are feeling called to an unconventional decision, let me know! Add me on facebook or schedule a free video chat call with me. We can talk about anything- friendships, romance, moving, starting a business, travel, fitness, nutrition, whatever!

The Story of Matt & I

Some of you may be wondering what the deal is with Matt and I. We started dating mid-June and our first date was 10 days together with friends in Hawaii mid-July. I shared lots of photos of us on facebook while we were in Hawaii, and for many of my friends and family, that was the first they knew of us being together. I'll rewind to the beginning.

Matt and I met at Camp Nerd Fitness (the first ever of what has now become an annual event) in 2014 in Georgia. On the very last day of camp, I sat at the same breakfast table with him at the cafeteria. Eventually, everyone else at the table went their separate ways, but I was on the last airport shuttle and he was driving back to Alabama, so we stayed and talked a little. We had both come to camp on our own, not knowing another person there, out of the 170 or so attendees. Matt had been part of the Nerd Fitness community for several years, having attended a talk that Steve gave early on for Nerd Fitness. I had joined within a year or so of camp being announced and I had been looking for my first solo adventure trip. I figured what better than going to Georgia to learn about fitness (at that time I didn't exercise) with 170 strangers for my first ever solo trip? Click here to see the first ever picture of us together shortly after we met!

Fast forward a few months and we connected on facebook.  I don't really remember interacting much if at all in facebook the first few months. Then one night I had a dream about Matt. My dreams often have some significance. In this dream, he lived about 15 minutes from where I lived at that time and he had 2 sons and was a great father. I thought it was an interesting dream, although I didn't know what it meant, but I messaged him to tell him about the dream.

Coincidentally, at that time he was in New Jersey working (and I still lived in MD then), so we messaged back and forth a few times. A little while later he shared his epic quest list with me which is a list of all the dreams and goals he has for his life. I remember messaging him to tell him that his list of goals really showed what a kind hearted person he is, and that I could see us checking off some of the adventures on his epic quest list off together, as many of our goals overlap. Right around that time (spring 2015) I was thinking about starting what has now become my business teaching Spanish conversation over video chat. I knew I wanted to do something that would give me flexibility to travel and I wanted to do something with Spanish and something that would allow me to facilitate communication between English speakers and Spanish speakers. One of the things on Matt's list was to become conversationally fluent in Spanish. I wanted to test out my business on a couple of friends before I started charging for lessons, so I could work out any issues in advance. Matt was one of my first students (in addition to my friend Ginny). With their feedback, and by testing out lesson plans and themes on them individually, I was able to turn my business into the successful venture it is today! Since we video chatted for an hour every week for several months, we became even better friends. Occasionally we would talk on the phone too and catch up. We were always just friends, though. I never thought of Matt as anything more than a good friend.

During summer 2015 when we were doing Spanish lessons together, one day I messaged him to schedule our next lesson. He was in Virginia visiting his best friend. He suggested he come to where I lived in MD and stay over for a night and we could do the lesson then. I checked with my roommates and they were cool with it, so he came. Nothing romantic happened since I was in a relationship- we just hung out and did our lesson together. It was his first time in MD, which was cool to share together.
When Matt came to visit me in 2015 in MD
We saw each other at Camp Nerd Fitness 2015 in the fall in Georgia. We didn't take many if any of the same classes, but we sat together regularly at meal times in the cafeteria. Matt is a quiet guy and I'm very outgoing and talkative, so I introduced him to lots of my friends and made sure he was included during meal times. After camp, we decided that I was going to come visit him for a week this fall after CNF16, since I had never been to Alabama (still haven't.)
Us at Camp Nerd Fitness 2015 in September
Fast forward to this spring, when I Andrew and I broke up. Due to various reasons, we decided to continue to live together as roommates until we were able to terminate our lease early (thank you, Tracee, for letting us terminate early!!!!). Rather than blast it all over social media, I messaged friends and family individually to let them know. When I let Matt know, I remember feeling this weird sensation, like letting him know is going to be a big deal. I didn't understand the feeling at the time, so I didn't really think too much about it. He asked if I wanted him to call me that night, so I said sure. We ended up talking for an hour or two that night (our usual, although it was probably every couple months that we would actually talk on the phone). Mostly, we talked about the breakup, and what was next. I really wasn't sure what I was going to do- whether I would stay here and try to get a roommate, move somewhere else here, move to another state, move in with a friend, or what!

Over the next week or two, we talked more and more frequently over text and occasionally phone calls. After a little while, I realized that I had feelings for him as more than a friend. So I told him that. He had feelings for me too, but we decided it really wasn't fair to try to do a long distance relationship, so we decided to not hold each other back. That didn't last long, as we soon realized that neither of us was interested in anyone else. So we decided that we wanted to start a long distance relationship. Everything escalated really quickly, but in a very natural way. It's really difficult to explain in words. At the point when we started dating, we had already been planning on taking the 10 day trip to Hawaii together (which also originated from one of my dreams). The trip had been in the works for over a year and I was organizing it. About 25 of us from Nerd Fitness were renting condos in Hawaii for a week, and then 6 of us decided to stay an extra couple of days glamping in hammocks in the jungle to do some hiking and outdoorsy stuff, and he was one of those 6. So we knew we would have that to look forward to, and we were counting down the days to Hawaii.

Even before Hawaii, he asked me to move in with him in Alabama. He said I should bring the dogs and we would figure everything out together. Normally, I would not move in with someone who I had only met three times in real life and even in a normal in person relationship I wouldn't consider moving in with someone so soon (he asked me only a few days into dating). Things are different with Matt, though. When he asked me, I immediately knew that was what I wanted. Being apart from him was very difficult. I knew I couldn't handle being apart from him long term, even though we had not yet been together in person since we started dating.

Do you believe in Soulmates? I didn't, until I got feelings for Matt. It's really difficult to explain. Previously, I thought that almost anyone could make a relationship work if they cared enough, loved enough, and worked hard enough. The best way to explain Soulmates is that you just KNOW. You know beyond a doubt that this person is perfect for you. They aren't perfect, but they are perfect for you. You can't see a future without them in it, and you can see a future with them. I knew that he is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I didn't need time to figure that out- I just knew. You feel immediately comfortable with them, in a way that you never have felt with someone before. You feel safe and cared for and loved. It's not a feeling of being completed, because I firmly believe that each person should be complete and whole on their own, but it's the perfect pairing where you both compliment each other so well. Your values, beliefs, and lifestyle align. All the important things match up. I fell in love with Matt almost immediately after we started talking leading up to dating, which is so crazy to think. I just knew that I loved him. He felt the same. The whole relationship has been very emotionally intense, but just so right. It's like our Souls recognized each other from previous lives. Things I would normally never do or say, especially so early on, were just right. We also have an intense energetic connection. We often dream of each other. We often randomly wake up and text each other at exactly the same time. I can sense his mood all the way from Colorado. As an empath, this is something I have experienced before with people I am close to or around. However, I typically only sense it with negative emotions. Those are easy for my to distinguish from my own emotions, which are typically neutral or happy. With Matt, I can sense his happiness and excitement and it feeds my own. I've been even happier and more energized since we have started dating. I've needed less sleep as I've been more energized naturally. If you want to read more about Soulmates, this article encapsulates our relationship well:

Everything in my life has culminated in me being ready to accept him as my Soulmate and make our lives together. Literally everything. All the little things I always wanted in a partner, and never dreamed would be possible to find all of them together in one person- that's Matt. Down to the very last detail. Some of these things have shaped my personality and life since I was a child! Even when we first met two years ago, we wouldn't have been right for each other. Neither of us was in the right place to be ready to accept a Soulmate. We both had some growing to do on our own. I've grown a ton in the last 2 years and so much in my life has changed. Even a few months ago, I was in denial that I wanted to get married and have the possibility of having children one day. Once I became very clear on who I am and what I want in life and a partner, when I least expected it, everything manifested in Matt. The timing worked out perfectly. 

Finally being united with him in Hawaii was amazing. It was an epic 10 day first date. We decided not to post anything on social media until we were together in Hawaii. His flight arrived about 40 minutes after mine, which gave me a chance to freshen up before I met him at baggage claim. We flew into different terminals of the same airport, so I wasn't able to meet him at his gate. We had our first kiss at the airport and it was super romantic and perfect. It was so nice to  see him in person now that we were a couple. We did several video calls in the weeks leading up to Hawaii. One of my favorites was when he played guitar for me. He's very musically talented and has a lovely singing voice. We talked regularly too, often for many hours at a time. We had some great moments together in Hawaii, that I'll write more about in the Hawaii blog posts. Not only was it very romantic, but he was the perfect partner. He supported me, helped me with things, helped cook, we worked out together, he was a calming influence when I was stressed, he comforted me when I was in discomfort during my tattoo, we explored, joked and laughed, told stories, snuggled, and more. It was so perfect. Even after spending 10 days together almost constantly, neither of us was tired of each other or annoyed or anything! Our lifestyles are very similar and we are extremely compatible. Normally when I go to bed, I like my space to sleep, and he does too. In Hawaii, we slept snuggled up every night. Dropping him off at the airport for his flight back to the mainland was physically difficult for both of us. We are both counting days and so excited for me to move in with him in Alabama!
We hiked 10 miles to get a few feet away from flowing lava at a volcano!

The couple that does partner deadlifts together....

At Rainbow Falls near the Banyon trees

At Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii

About to lift more than 450 pounds together

Our first date- going to the fanciest restaurant either of us had ever eaten at right after working out together!

I scheduled this post to go out in advance, so when it posts on August 1 I will already be on my way to Alabama. I'll be arriving at his house on August 2 with the dogs!

Going Away Events

I always love celebrating, and in anticipation of moving to Alabama on August 1, I scheduled several going away events with my friends to give everyone one last opportunity to spend time together.

Moving to Alabama is bittersweet. There's nothing keeping me in CO, and all my work is online. So, why not move? I'm looking forward to seeing what Alabama is like, and most of all, to being with Matt.

I'm going to miss several things about Colorado: the weather, the mountains and outdoor adventures, my Crossfit home, and my awesome friends. In the last 10 months, I've made a lot of great memories. But it's time to start the next chapter of my life.

On Friday, I arranged a Goodbye Sushi event in the Boulder area with Amy. She introduced me to a tasty sushi place that will make unlimited fresh sushi for you for $11 during week day lunch time. I have gone there a few times before and really enjoyed it! It was really nice catching up with her, as I hadn't seen her in a few months.

Friday night, a group of my Fort Collins friends and I went out for dinner at Avogadro's Number in Old Town. I hadn't been there before but the food was tasty. The weather was very rainy and stormy, but it was nice to catch up with everyone on all the new developments in my life and theirs! Afterwards, we went over to Fusion night club. My gym friends Lauren and Joelle met us there. We had a couple of drinks and sat in the lounge area talking until more people went out on the dance floor. The DJ was playing some good tunes, and there were just enough people for it to be somewhat full without being overly crowded. My friends kept buying me drinks (don't worry, I didn't drive home) and we all had a blast dancing together.
Joelle, Jessie, me, Anselmo & Lauren

Jessie, Erin, Lisa, Lauren, me & Tracee

Crossfit friends! Joelle, Lauren & me

Sunday morning, Chris Kansas came up from Denver to hike to the A near CSU here in Fort Collins. We went to school together in Maryland and he moved out to CO about 6 months before I did. Due to various reasons we had not yet met up, so of course we had to before I move out of state! We had a fun hike to the A. It was the perfect length for a Sunday morning.
me & Chris

view from the top of the hike

Saying goodbye to my friends helps bring closure before the move. I'll still keep in touch of course, but it may be a few months before I am back in CO. Hopefully Matt and I can come out for a while summer 2017, if not before.

My Newest Tattoo!

I can't believe that a week ago I was in Kona, Hawaii, getting tattooed with friends and Matt. Time flies.

The whole idea to get tattoos together in Hawaii started probably about a year ago, shortly after the time when the idea for the Hawaii trip began. I think it might have been Ginny or Masaya that suggested it. Ginny originally was thinking about getting a sea turtle tattoo and I really liked that idea, especially since my thigh tattoo is animals representing the countries I have visited.

Matt reminded me of the idea to get tattoos a few weeks before the trip, so we were able to get everyone together and chat about when/where/what. Michelle and Rob ended up getting their tattoos on Friday, but the other four of us that wanted to get tattoos were not leaving until Tuesday (instead of Saturday, like Michelle and Rob), so we wanted to get ours a little closer to the end of our trip so that we could still enjoy the sun and beach before then. Jennifer, Ginny, Matt and I made our appointments for Monday. Matt and I ended up getting the same artist, that specializes in Polynesian style tattoos. We were very excited to find this out on the day of our appointment, because he chats a little with you about your family and the design, then he freehand draws it on your arm in sharpie, so your tattoo is totally unique and then he tattoos it on. Super cool.

Matt found a cool image on Google of a sea turtle tattoo that was very feminine but still Polynesian style, so I showed that image to the artist. However, instead of the peace sign on the turtle, I wanted to get a hibiscus flower. I also wanted to incorporate the Nerd Fitness symbol. The artist was able to do all of that, and it turned out amazing. He also incorporated 4 waves to represent the four members of my family. I was thrilled with the way the tattoo turned out. I was also very happy that Matt held my hand while I was getting tattooed. Either I forgot how much tattoos hurt, or this one hurt worse than my last (maybe due to placement). It was very comforting to have his calming energy there with me.

This tattoo means a lot to me. I first traveled to Hawaii when I was about 13. It was my favorite trip to that point, and unlike anything else I had ever seen. I always thought my first tattoo would be a hibiscus to remind me of my time in Hawaii.

Plus, when Matt and I were snorkeling, we saw a sea turtle and we followed it under water. It was the first one either of us had seen. It was so majestic and looked like a bird flying under water, the way it flapped its legs. It was a very special moment for both of us- we were both captivated, holding hands and snorkeling together following the sea turtle. Another day walking along the beach, we saw several sea turtles sunning themselves with our friends. We also saw some sea turtles that our friends didn't see as we walked along where the water meets the sand. We saw some swimming in the water, just a few feet away. It was really special to watch them and know that in that moment, we were probably the only ones seeing that. This tattoo also represents the beginning of all of the adventures Matt and I will have together.

Besides that, Hawaii is a big deal. I organized this trip for about 25 people from all over the US and one from Australia. The trip started with a dream I had about being on a group adventure trip with Masaya, and it turned into reality. I was able to organize everything up to the point of arrival, other than the extra activities that everyone signed up for. Certainly other people helped a lot, but it was so cool to see a dream become reality. I'd like to take small groups on trips to Spanish speaking countries with my Spanish business, so it was great seeing the trip work out so well. We had a few snags, but overall, no disasters.

 In addition to all of those things, this trip was significant to me because of my Nerd Fitness family. When I attended Camp Nerd Fitness in 2014, it literally changed the entire course of my life in ways I could not have seen coming. Since then, I have started 2 businesses, started powerlifting and Crossfitting (when I didn't exercise before), done a lot of solo female travel, taken trips on a whim, moved across the country once (about to do it again), changed careers, started dating someone from Nerd Fitness, and had so many other positive changes to my mindset, personality, confidence, and more. I have really become the person I always wanted to be, and discovered who that was along the way. Nerd Fitness has taught me that anything is possible, and that if I can dream it, I can achieve it.

This tattoo reminds me of all of these things.
Jennifer, Ginny, me & Matt about to get tattooed

It's on my left bicep