First Class Comfort for Economy Pricing FTW!

Dublin circa 2013

It has been nearly 4 years since I’ve set foot back onto Ireland. I just can’t believe how much time has flown by. The minute I stepped off the plane, I felt an instant wave of nostalgia brush over me. Flashbacks of drinking wine on the rooftop in Dublin, meeting up with friends at a bar in London, or wandering around the wrong side of the neighborhood in Brussels because I was trying to figure out where my hotel was. All of those memories represented a different time in my life…a time where I was jet-setting off every other month in hopes of trying to figure out who I was again. My own sense of independence and identity.

So coming back to Dublin was a bit bitter sweet for me. It reminded me of a different chapter in my life…one where I’ve closed without realizing that I’ve closed it nearly 2 years ago. It also made me realize how far I’ve come to be where I am today…where everything that has happened lead up to this exact moment. The moment where someone unexpected comes into your life and completely turns it upside down…in a different but oh so good kind of way.

*I’m looking at you, HB.

Now back to Dublin! To be fair, this trip is really for work, but I’ll take it nonetheless. To top off the start of my trip …

Helloooo empty row!

Hellooo empty row! I mean this is as good as it gets without having to pay first class airfare. I’m convinced that my friend Jimmy is the curse for finding good seats on the plane. Every time I’m traveling with him, we always end up sitting next to a crying baby.  Literally, THIS.

See? Crying baby.

It’s currently raining in Dublin and I’m completely jet-lagged so I’m hiding out in our corporate apartment with a bit of downtime. So blogging I shall do! It has been forever since I’ve blogged about anything really. I guess that is what happens when life happens. So, big news…I got engaged at the end of 2016. Yay!

Bling ring

I am so excited and so overwhelmed at the same time. We’re house hunting, I’m doing a bit of career soul searching, and now we’re planning a wedding/family. I know…is this what being an adult looks like?

Hey HB, why so grumpy?

This trip couldn’t have come at a better time. Tomorrow, J and I are taking one day off to drive out to the countryside about 3 hours outside of Dublin. I’m super excited! It’ll be nice to have a bit of time to explore before my hectic work schedule starts next week. I’ll be sure to take some pictures and post them in the next few days…stay tuned!

Road trip!

Ya’ll come back now you hear

Virginia Farmhouse

Virginia Farmhouse

8:30am and my alarm goes off. I hear people downstairs talking and the smell of bacon and biscuits slowly creep up the stairs and into my bedroom.

Shoot, am I the last one up? I quickly hop out of bed and throw on some clothes and new pair of warm fuzzy socks that my mom got me last year for Christmas.

I quickly go down the stairs to join the rest of the family for breakfast. About halfway down, my right foot slips.

Crap, I see it happening, but I don’t know what to do to stop it. So then my other foot slips and the next thing you know, I’m lying flat on my back and sliding down the stairs.

The socks didn’t stand a chance against the wooden stairs.

Everyone comes running towards me and asks if I’m ok. I’m bright red, disoriented, and all I can think of is I want to die from complete embarrassment.

Well…I thought to myself, that’s one way to make a grand entrance my first morning at the farm.

A real winter!

A real winter!

So I finally just got home from my first ever visit to the South! Well…that is if you don’t count New Orleans, but that is a different kind of South. I was really nervous making my first trip out there because it was my first time meeting all of HB’s family. We spent a few days at their farmhouse out in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It was a beautiful home set in the middle of a natural reserve park.

Historical home where Robert E. Lee's grandfather once lived.

Historical home where Robert E. Lee’s grandfather once lived.

The coolest thing was the history behind the farm. Across from their main house was another house that they owned where Robert E. Lee’s grandfather lived. We took a tour of the house and I immediately fell in love with the old colonial style of the home.

While renovating the house, they found a lot of old pictures between the walls, letters written by a woman to her lover during the civil war, and old tools buried in the ground. It was haunting, full of history, and beautiful all at the same time. They mentioned that they didn’t want to register the home because it will bring tourists to the property and they wanted it to remain private. I loved the idea of us getting an exclusive tour of the home.

Riding around the farm in the Mule

Riding around the farm in the Mule

We spent two nights on the farm and rode around on the Mule. Don’t be fooled by the golf cart look to it. That vehicle is full of power and climb on just about anything.

HB around the same time last year

HB around the same time last year

Bear at the gate of the farm

Bear at the gate of the farm

When HB and I first started dating last year, he sent me a picture of this bear while he was home for Christmas. I’m so happy to be able to see the bear in person!

Also note the fashionable camo pants and jacket he’s wearing. Enough said.

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Just every kid’s dream!

A little way up the hill, they built this amazing treehouse for the kids. I mean…this is every kid’s dream! I can’t imagine what it’s like growing up on a farm like this as a kid. Sure beats my childhood memories of playing with sticks and mud from our small backyard.

For Thanksgiving we drove into Tennessee to stay at his dad’s house. On the day of Thanksgiving, I met probably around 40 of his family members. It was one hug after another lead by a ton of questions. Where are you from? What do you do? How many brothers and sisters do you have? How did you two meet? I’m not going to lie, it was a bit overwhelming (I’ve already forgotten almost half of their names), but everyone was so warm and welcoming that I immediately felt like I was part of the family within an hour.

I am and now home. In my PJs and will probably soak in a nice hot bath later. It’s nice to wind down after a long and hectic week. I’m definitely a city girl at heart, so nothing feels as good as being home in my little city apartment. But I will tell you one thing for sure…there’s nothing that compares to that Southern hospitality.

A Year in Review

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Favorite thing to do Saturday mornings: Brunch with HB

I can’t believe that 2015 is already coming to a close end. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze time so that I can stand still for a moment to just breathe.

Looking back at my 2012 self, I had no idea that life would lead me to where I am today. I stood at the starting line of that path filled with doubt, vulnerability, and uncertainty. I wasn’t sure where the road would lead me, but once I had my mind set on something, I don’t ever look back. With that, I took one slow step forward and I have been sprinting at full speed ever since.

This past year has been filled with lots of laughter, unforgettable adventures, and most importantly finding and understanding the meaning of real love.

With 2015 coming to a close, it’s only appropriate to reflect back on my highlights/learnings of this past year.

On living life for yourself…

At some point in your life, you stop caring about what others think about you and you just do what you makes you happy.

As I approach my mid 30s, I’ve come to the realization that time is really valuable and we only have a limited amount of it. It is important to surround myself with the people who matter the most, and for those who don’t matter, you won’t even realize that they are no longer there.

On traveling…

2015 travel log: Japan, So. Africa, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, and Hawaii.

On love…

Finding love when you stopped looking for it, stopped caring, and started living for yourself.

The irony of it all.

On slowing down…

I probably tell myself this every year, but I want to stand still for a brief moment to take in what I have and enjoy every single moment of my life here in San Francisco.

On San Francisco…

Ok, I get it San Francisco, you are super expensive. I still love the city though and cannot imagine myself moving back to the burbs. I’m on the hunt for a new apartment and hopefully by the end of 2016, you’ll find me settled into my new home.

On what’s next…

Film editing class.

Relationship milestones.

Iceland.

On the future…

I’m grateful for my past because it has made me who I am today and has brought me here to this moment in time. But let the past be the past and look forward to the future. I can’t wait to see how 2016 unravels, but I have no doubt in my mind that it’ll be the best one yet.

Smile!

smileToday was a great reminder as why I do what I do. The days spent in front of my computer glued to my desk was all put into perspective when we visited the Smile Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Smile everyone!

Smile everyone!

They are a Google Ad Grantee and have found much success with raising awareness through our program. The foundation works with young kids through reconstructive facial surgery.

We were fortunate enough to tour the hospital where we met the entire staff including the founder who established the program along with Nelson Mandela!

During the tour, we also met the precious little princess pictured below with her mom. She was born with a cleft lip and it was really interesting to hear how the mom describe the cultural thinking behinds kids who were born this way. For a long time, she blamed herself and thought that it was a punishment from God.

Luckily, she found the Smile Foundation and they were able to help her restore her daughter’s lip through surgery. She still has a few more surgeries to go, but as you can see the before and after picture shows a huge difference.

Princess before surgery.

Before

Princess and her mom after surgery.

Princess and her mom during our visit.

I’m just so impressed at the incredible work that they do with these kids and how they change their lives in such a big way.

The picture below is with the Operation Manager and the Founder of the organization. We met this sweet little girl who was unfortunately abandoned by her mom and is currently looking for a foster home.

This little girl is looking for someone to adopt her. She melts my heart.

She melts my heart.

My biggest takeaway for today is that I have to remember to remind myself to take a step back from time to time and think about how many lives we actually touch through the work that we do. That can all get lost when you’re just staring at a computer all day, everyday. I feel so very blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity with Google and I hope to get many more of these to come.