Solo Reflections


I found this reflection in my phone. Ironically its almost a year old and yet, today I leave for my second solo trip – headed to Nicaragua. My heart melts at the lessons I learned in my 5 days of travel throughout Italy. These things take some people a lifetime to realize. A wink of faith and a touch of courage carried me through my first solo trip abroad. Nica, be good to me.

I knew I needed this. I sometimes know what I need but talk myself out of needing it because I’m scared of what it takes to go through it. But this trip and this time with myself was necessary.

Four years ago, while volunteering I had a conversation about travel with a young woman who was young like me, vibrant and had just finished traveling throughout Africa. 20+ countries – ALONE!! That conversation shook me! I was stunned, impressed, and wow’d by her journey. In less than 24 hours we became Facebook friends and I peeled through her albums detailing her travels throughout Africa. At the time I was also recently laid off and unemployed. So her experience got under my skin and even had me reconsidering entering the workforce.

Nonetheless, four years later here I’m am finally creating my own journey of opportunity, openness, and humility.

My takeaways:
1. I don’t know it all. Its okay to not know it all. Ask for help.
2. Stop assuming. Stop predicting the outcome. You don’t know until you give every chance, every opportunity, every person and every possibility a try.
3. Look people in the eye and engage them.
4. There are people who do want to help. They want to be apart of the journey. There’s good in them.
5. Smile. Even though I still haven’t seemed to master this in a way that doesn’t make me look crazy. I realize people are curious beings, their smile and stares aren’t necessarily insulting. Sometimes they’re intrigued or admiring. Stare and smile back.
6. Expect the best, expect to be wow’d. Expect something great to happen.
7. Never let weather stop you. Weather is like time >> it passes.

Italy, you wet my palette. This is just the beginning – for us and me. #dueseason #tobecontinued



#Stunt[ed] Season


I’ve been holding onto this post for a while. It’s personal and sits close to the heart. Today was a snow day which means I stayed home all day and worked from home. While sitting here today, working away, I realized a mood coming over me. Similar to the way I felt when I wrote this post. This was my day – today, a month ago, and many days over the last year. 

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I need my thoughts to settle so I can air things out. Right now, the layers and levels of thought occurring in my head – well, they continue to stunt this writing process I’ve been trying to get going for the last year. Over the last couple of months, I have found it very hard to relax. Simply sitting down to watch a 30-minute sitcom like Blackish on ABC has come to feel like time wasted. A nervousness comes over me. I start to fidget. I’ll look at my phone, open up a web tab, scroll through social media, bake a cake, send an email, write a to-do list just so I can feel like I’ve made progress in life during a segment of life that should have been spent relaxing.

But I can’t relax.

I am constantly thinking, always doing, forever going, continually moving, perpetually leaving and incessantly arriving to a place that I always feel is just shy of the target. How could it be that in the midst of all this busyness, I have yet to feel like I have arrived at the goal?

A part of me feels like the constant flow of tasks, masks an insecure feeling on inadequacy. Just do, do, do – so I can feel accomplished, productive as I create this feeling that I am progressing through life. But there’s no gold star to be had in adulthood. There’s no award for conquering a busy life. And no incentive for a sore body, birthed out of stress and exhaustion. I think the tasks – the coming, the going, the doing and thinking  – mask the loneliness. The sheer reality is that in the midst of this lively life, I am right where I started and nowhere near where I need/want to be. The reality is that life sometimes is lonely. It has been that way for quite some time now. The treatment has been to exhaust myself with goals and tasks in order to validate myself. I’m realizing that no matter how many boxes I check, how many goals I accomplish that when it’s all said and done – none of these things provide me with the comfort that I truly desire. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the work. However, “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night” – Marilyn Monroe. I’ve had one too many cold nights.

#Stunt[ed]Season



Overdue Season


I hate that my first blog post of 2014 comes at 35,000 feet in the air. Shame on me for neglecting this tab that I built into this website as a way to update, connect and simply vent. As I type, I am finally en route to conquer my first solo journey abroad. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for the longest. I previously imagined it would’ve been to some small island, where I would lay out on the beach all day and make up stories about people as I watched them from my cabana. Juan or Winston would bring me drinks with a floral print bow tie around his neck with shorts to match, and a chest glistening with baby oil. I’d end my nights late and start my mornings early because the sun would be waking me up from my beachfront balcony. Yet, here I am, window seat of aisle 25 flying across the Atlantic Ocean to Milan, Italy. Ciao Bella!!!

EWR to Milano!

EWR to Milano!

It’s true, humans plan and God laughs. I never had any imminent desires to go to Italy. I think I always knew I’d end up here some day – maybe with a boyfriend or husband in tow. However, the good folks over at theflightdeal.com featured a steal of a deal and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go.

I was restless the eve of my departure. What I had been wanting to do was less than 24hrs away and the “what if’s” started cycling through my mind. What if I get lost? What if I get robbed? Will I be discriminated against? Then doubt and discouragement crept in. I don’t know the language. How will I haggle prices and I can’t even count to ten in Italian? Who will take pictures of me? I don’t have a single thing planned. I’m so unprepared.

I booked this flight 2.5 months ago. I had more than enough time to jot down some things to do and places to see. I’d often sit down at the computer, start googling “Italian Tours” and just get overwhelmed. So I’d exit out of the window and hop on Facebook to read over some status updates. I just couldn’t commit to putting myself on a schedule. A part of me liked that. In life, I’m always so planned and over think every move and every thing I say. Then I’ll have these random moments of spontaneity where I’ll just say eff it and do what I want. Well, I’m neither of those things right now. I’m not planned, I can’t think straight and I don’t have a clue as to what I’ll be doing.

Yet, more than anything, I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity. I just feel so blessed in this moment. I can’t even process how I got here. I absolutely love to travel and in my post collegiate life I’ve always regretted not taking a year off to travel the world. Much like many professionals in America, it’s hard to fit in cross-continental adventures in any given year. So my dreams of traveling to far and distant lands continued to be a dream deferred because it was just too hard to fit it in or too costly to plan.

However, I spoke to myself in 2013 (yes, I speak to myself often) that I would travel to 5 countries in 2014. I turn ‘coughs coughs‘ this year and my goal has been to fill up my passport before it expires in 2015. So Milan marks the beginning of my travels and a continuation of foreign experiences that have shaped and molded me for the better. For myself and this year I want to be fearless. I want to push myself to do things that are uncomfortable and stretch me. Some would say I’ve already been living fearlessly given some of the previous stunts and disappearing acts I’ve pulled. But nah, there’s more in me. I just know it. This year and forever on, I want to test me out a little. Push me a little more. Shoot, I may just jump off that cliff if I have to and take that leap that I’ve been toying with. This season has been long overdue.

 



Spring Recap


Spring was such a busy season for me!!! And it doesn’t seem like the summer is going to provide any relief. But it’s all good. I look back at Spring with a warm smile of all the milestones and achievements that took place in my life and the lives of those connected to me. There is surely a movement of greatness occurring around me and im blessed to be moving with it.

A moment to remember from the Spring was my participation in the Fabulously Focused Prom Dress Drive down in Philadelphia. I served as the dessert sponsor for an awesome event that provided prom dresses to scholarly high school students who are participants in Temple University’s Upward Bound program. Melanie Yvette, founder of Fabulously Focused and organizer behind the event hosted 10-20 eager, prom-bound teenagers. Makeup artists and stylist were on site and Seasons Baked Goods sealed the day with a display of sweets.

This was my first time doing a dessert table. I reigned in my close friend and creative perfectionist Geronda Montalvo to assist in organizing the decor. She is AMAZING!!! I gave Geronda a small budget and complete creative control. This was the result:

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

 Fabulously Focused Founder, Melanie Yvette and blogger Sincerely Syreeta indulged in the day’s sweets!

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

DanieG Photography

 

I am way too excited to do more events with Geronda. We’ve always been a great team pulling together our talents and interests. The prom dress drive was a pivotal movement in my development as a baker and expansion in my business offering . I enjoyed every moment of creating treats that were fitting for such an occasion – crown and gown sugar cookies, yogurt covered pretzels, and bedazzled cake pops, cupcakes, and cake.

Dessert tables are an excellent option when hosting large parties. There was literally something for everyone! Additionally, you can also pull through a theme or color scheme of an event. Or even the personality of the host, when you a dessert table is done. And what’s even more pleasing – everyone is HAPPY!!



Winter: New Beginnings…


Winter.

By far, my least favorite season.

The cold. Short days. Snow and biting air make for unnecessary time spent indoors. Which is quite conflicting with who I am – I’m not meant to be housebound. *wink*

However, winter may be one of my most productive times of the year. As a season, it rests between the end of one year and the beginning of new one. It’s a time of reflection, planning, and goal setting. Personally, the restless days spent inside breeds’ creativity within me. I often spend this time testing out recipes, creating new ones, and brushing up on my decorating skills. Snows days are the best. While everyone is in the supermarket stocking up on food, I’m cleaning the shelves of butter, flour, and sugar for my next creation.

Winter is always the birth of a new journey for me. Right now, Seasons is my baby. It’s bigger than baking! It’s embracing change, taking risks, and healing from past seasons. It’s growth and optimism. It’s also fear. During the winter, the foundation is laid for a new journey to come. Doubt creeps in at times. I’d like to think that the short days and limited hours of sunlight are partly responsible. Yet, I’m lead to believe it’s simply human response.

Join me on this journey. I’m gonna pull out the sweetness of each season.