Making (sm)All Things New

Howdy, friends!

As I have been reflecting on the adventures I have had in Ocala so far, I love seeing the new things I have done when I intentionally decided to explore my city rather than writing it off as “Slow-cala”! I am excited to continue seeking out BIG adventures, but I am also learning how instilling newness in small things can bring new life and excitement, as well! So here’s how I’ve been making some small things new…

New Study Spot

My full time job right now is to study for the CPA exam and I have been doing most of my studying at home. We have a beautiful dining room table with big comfy chairs next to a bright window, so it is a very nice place to work, but it has gotten a little boring after a few weeks of only sitting at this table! So, I decided to try out a new study spot two weeks ago and have been back another time since then. Per the suggestion of my coffee-shop-owning Aunt and Uncle, I checked out Caravan Coffee and Tea in Ocala– it’s awesome! They have 24 different types of loose tea (the cranberry harvest is wooonderful for the fall) and they brew Intelligentsia Coffee which is what my aunt and uncle brew! I do not drink coffee often, but when I do, I love it smooth, black, and flavorful. This cup…was unbelievable.


                                     Study materials and a hot cup o’ joe!

Caravan brews their coffee using the pour over method– it’s more like science than anything! Scales, funnels, evaporation…I have no idea how it works but it creates an incredible cup of coffee! The change of scenery for studying was much needed and really rejuvenated my study efforts! If you’re reading this in Ocala– check out Caravan Coffee on Pine St. next to OPD!

New Study Jams

I have been a big fan of listening to Explosions in the Sky whilst studying for a few years, but a new-to-me album was just what I needed to pump up my study motivation! Explosions in the Sky is instrumental/ electronic/ intense/ your-life-is-a-movie music. It makes my study sessions feel EPIC. Currently in love with their album “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone,” and particularly the song “The Birth and Death of a Day.” The song is completely instrumental, but I found a lot of meaning in the words of the title. Each day begins with a new birth and ends with a death as it transitions into the next day’s birth. How beautiful to think of the new life that comes with EACH new day. 

ImageNew Fall Temps!

Florida is the Sunshine state, known for sweaty summers and going to the beach on Christmas. We really don’t get “seasons” here, but we’ll get spurts of cooler temps in the mornings that will warm up as the day goes on. It has been SO beautiful this week as the morning temps dip!

Image46 degrees!!! …Don’t worry– it was 80 by noon. 😉 This cool morning gave me a chance to break out my arm warmers for the first time this fall! I don’t know what it is, but I LOVE wearing arm warmers when I run, and being able to just pull them down when the temps get (inevitably) warmer! Fall temps are really putting me in the autumn mood!

ImageNew Technology!

I have had a “dumb phone” for the past forever that couldn’t even get picture texts or group texts! I really actually loved my dumb phone– I was never glued to my phone and I could drop it all the time and it never bothered me. BUT, as I get ready to travel for interviews and get ready to transition into the big-girl-working-world, I felt it was time to get a big-girl-phone, too.

So, I have entered the 21st century! It’s been fun getting used to an iPhone and slowly learning all the fun stuff it can do (like read blogs on the WordPress app! Woo!).

New Friends

This evening I decided to hit the road for a run (with my phone so I could use a GPS for the first time!). I have wanted to go over to the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association in Ocala where they keep horses to use in occupational therapy and love on some horses, so I decided to run there this evening! I ran with a carrot in the waistband of my capris– gotta come with a treat for the horses! I wish I could have carried more than one, but I can only imagine what I would have looked like running with a bag of carrots, haha!



Since I ran with my phone, I could also take pics of the horses! SO MANY NEW THINGS!

Growing up in the ‘Horse Capital of the World,’ I have always loved these animals. It was so special to get to rub on their necks mid-run and get to run home smelling like horse!


                            Just look at that face!!

New Beginnings

I’ve started a new plan to read through the Old Testament of the Bible! I’ve read the New Testament, and spend most of my time there. I’ve read some of the books of the Old Testament, but haven’t worked all the way through it! I’m excited to read about the wisdom and weaknesses of the kings, the prophecies that point to Jesus, and the strength and power of the Lord. Let’s hope I can make it through the genealogies! Look out for some reflections on my readings here. 🙂


                                                  In the beginning…

So there are some NEW, albeit small, things!

Have you done any new, small things recently? Or new, BIG things? 🙂

Do you listen to music when you study? Any suggestions for me??

Have a beautiful day!






Adventure 003// A Day in Downtown Ocala!

‘Ello, there!

Saturday I spent almost the entire day in downtown Ocala, and it was an absolute blast! If you are not familiar with my quaint hometown, it is a mid-sized central-Florida city known for retirement communities and thoroughbred horses. It is the self-proclaimed ‘Horse Capital of the World’ and the horse industry is actually a 2 BILLION dollar industry here– crazy, huh?!


                                         Ocala paints horses on statues of horses! Inception horses…?

Because of its abundance of elderly snow-birds and agriculture, Ocala has not always been the most hoppin’ town. In fact, growing up, we usually called it “Slow-cala.” So another goal of my next few months here and what I hope to reflect upon in this blog, is to seek out adventure in Ocala! I may have lived here for 18 of my 22 years, but that doesn’t mean I have done it all! Here are some of my highlights from almost an entire Saturday spent downtown!

6:30 AM — Run with Old and New Friends

A friend from high school, Emily, is training for a half marathon that is a week after the one I am training for! This is a awesome opportunity to get to run with her and catch up after not seeing each other for FOUR years (that feels like so long when you’ve only been alive for 22!). Emily and some of her friends do a run on Saturday starting at the Starbucks that is located on our downtown square. I joined them for a 6.2 mile run this morning and it was a ton of fun!


Pre-run pic! It was actually a pretty cold morning for Florida–     46 degrees!

We ran on roads I have run before numerous times, but it is a wonder how running with new people can help make old routes feel brand new! We chatted for the first mile before we all realized our lungs were feeling the cold air and we should probably focus on breathing, haha! We finished the run strong and enjoyed post-race Refresher drinks at Starbucks! Emily took an artsy pic of our drinks, then we proceeded to chat, laugh, and catch up for about an hour– it was a glorious morning!!


10 AM — Art Fest with the very best!

After the run I went home and got cleaned up, then met up with my best friend Kelsey to go downtown to the Fine Art for Ocala (FAFO) Art Festival. It is a yearly festival that draws artists from all over to showcase and sell their work! I used to LOVE going to FAFO as a kid, but have been unable to go for the last 4 years because of being away at Florida State University. Needless to say, I was SO stoked to go again! We saw so many different mediums of art– photographs printed on metal, pencil drawings that looked way too real, vibrant portraits of jazz/blues/iconic artists painted on salvaged wood, etc! Here are a few things that caught my eye:




                                                 Ocalans love our horses!



                                                             Kelsey bought a cool fish for her mom!

I really enjoy looking at art, but it is often WAY too expensive to buy. I was hoping one of my favorite artists would be at the show and planned to splurge on something of hers if the opportunity arose (this might be the last time I can attend FAFO after all!). Unfortunately, that artist was not present so I started looking for something else to catch my eye…then we stumbled upon a booth of freshwater pearl jewelry and I was caught! I RARELY wear jewelry, and if I do, it is pearl earrings because pearl is my birthstone (June!) I fell in love with this bracelet, that was an INCREDIBLE price, and decided I would love to have a piece of art, a piece of home, that I can WEAR. So here it is:

Image1:00 PM — Cuban sandwiches at Cafe Havana

After we left the festival, Kels and I were in the mood for some new, local food. We asked Siri to help us out and she suggested Cafe Havana, a perfect pick because Kelsey and I have a tradition of eating Cuban food together! It is an awesome, family owned restaurant on Magnolia Ave. in Ocala and it was a delicious lunch! I was able to save half my sandwich and eat it for dinner– which always makes me an even bigger fan of a restaurant! 🙂 I definitely recommend Cafe Havana!

Image3:30-7:00 PM — Nothing new here– just watched the Seminoles dominate some football on TV. Love those ‘Noles!

8:00-9:30 PM — Downtown Historic GHOST Tour!

Something on my bucket list to do in Ocala before I leave was to take a tour of historic downtown Ocala and all of its Victorian homes. When I was Googling for tours the other day, the only thing I could find was ghost tours! I asked Kelsey if she would be up for it and the two of us and her boyfriend, Chip, decided to give it a go! We left from a tattoo parlor (suitable) at 8 PM to hear about the spooky secrets of downtown Ocala.


                                       Kels and I pre-ghost tour. Not scared yet!

What I really enjoyed about the tour was hearing some of the history of the homes and buildings. For example, one home was owned by two brothers who effectively eradicated yellow fever from Ocala in the 1800s! Another home was owned by the first mayor of Ocala, Mayor Dunn. They also told us creepy stuff about public hangings and executioners, but we won’t get in to that. 😉

ImageThe home above was Mayor Dunn’s and now serves as a restaurant and shop. There is talk of a female ghost who hangs out here, and different “occurrences” of stuff falling over without anyone around. All the talk of ghosts and spirits definitely put us in the Halloween mood!


Terrible picture of another house– the way the flash reflected off the door was funny because they kept talking about “orbs”

Over all it was just a fun, cheap, and unique experience! It was nice to take a walk on a cool, fall evening and get to hear some of the stories and history. Don’t worry– I’m not anymore afraid of ghosts tonight than I was before. 😉

9:30PM — Late Night Chocolate

As we were walking back to the car after the tour, we noticed a chocolate shop downtown none of us had been to before! We all said “we should go there sometime!” until we noticed they were open until 10pm! We stopped in and Chip got some ice cream while Kelsey got a MEGA chocolate peanut butter cup! I had a bite and it was AWESOME! Fun and SWEET way to end an incredible day!


I have to say, I had quite a day in downtown “Slowcala”! It’s so fun to see what new things I can do in this city that feels so old!

Any Ocalans have suggestions for other things to do?

Have you done any new things in your hometown or current city recently?

From my heart to yours,



Things I’ve Learned from Kiddos

Hey, world!

Since I have been back in my hometown this fall, my life has basically revolved around studying for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, which is a big, nasty exam so I can work in public accounting! I have been studying about 6-8 hours a day, which can be brutal at times, but those hours are also very flexible. I can wake up early, run and lift, study for a while, go do something else for an hour, study again, etc.

Because I am so flexible, I have been able to babysit for several families over the last few weeks! It has been so much fun hanging out with the kiddos, playing tag for hours, and getting my creative juices flowing! I babysat a few different times this week and am now reflecting on just how much I LEARN from these little guys. Here are some life lessons from the mouths of babes:

1. You can feed poison soup to bad dragons so they will fall asleep and you can capture the baby eggs. There is nothing more refreshing than playing make believe with a four-year-old. Sticks are not sticks, they are ingredients for a soup! Plastic balls are dragon eggs, and we’ve got to be the heroes!

2. Coloring pages are suggestions. So what if there are lines tracing out a bear? Draw whatever the heck you want!



3. Laugh like you mean it. Have you ever noticed that kids don’t “fake laugh”? You know, that little chuckle you give when you feel it’s courteous to laugh? Never. Kids laugh with their whole bodies, and they truly mean it.

4. Everybody can be “it” in a game of tag, and it is AWESOME! Forget the longstanding rules sometimes. Make up your own game!

5. Weeds are flowers. Today, I took a walk with a six-year-old and a two-year-old for about an hour. They were both in awe of the little yellow, white, and purple “flowers” that littered the grass! Without these kids, I would have never noticed these little splashes of color, nor would I have plucked enough of them to fill the storage bag on the back of the stroller. (Granted, kids are also much closer to the ground and walk slower, so they notice things…but all things aside…) 😉


                       All the leaves, flowers, and acorns we collected!

After we brought all the flowers home, we arranged them into a fall centerpiece for the dining room table! Mom was very excited when she came home to her surprise. Pretty awesome, huh??


                                        The leaves on the left smelled SO good!

6. As much as I love Greek yogurt and homemade granola, GoGurt and Quaker Fruit and Oatmeal bars are AWESOME. Snack time is a glorious thing.

7. Imagination — use it or LOSE it!

8. Bedtime stinks! Bedtime means the day is over and all the play has to come to an end. When is the last time I was bummed to go to bed?? I usually can’t WAIT to fall asleep at night and get some rest. Kids have a much different perspective.

9. Make up your own songs. They are 10x better than what’s on the radio these days anyways! My current fave: the “oodie doodie song” courtesy of a two-year-old.

10. Let your perfectionism go, pick up a marker, and draw. Or pick up a toy, and play. So often, I am too afraid to stink at art that I refuse to try. Live, act, do, and forget about what the world thinks.


My drawing from art time today– oh yeah, it’s on my fridge!

I hope you guys take some time to embrace your inner kiddo today!


— What was your favorite game as a child? Mine was hide-and-seek, FO SHO!

— What do you admire about kids that you wish to live out in your “adult” life?

Adventure 002// The Power of a Pint

Disclaimer: If the thought, mention, or even the sound of the word “blood,” makes you queasy, you might not want to read this! I’ve included pictures of baby animals to give ya something to look at in case this gets too real.


A few weeks ago, I gave blood for the first time! I have been curious about the donation process since I was in high school but had not gone through with it until this month. Blood drives were held at my high school once a year, but needing to attend sport practices restricted me from being able to give. I would think about it every so often in college when a blood bus would show up on campus, but always seemed to be on my way to a class when I saw it. Once I even stood in line for an hour, but needed to get to class before my turn in line! Needless to say, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I am so glad I finally had the opportunity to go through with it!


The process was incredibly, and surprisingly, painless! I walked into a blood center in Ocala on a Saturday afternoon, and was in and out in 30 minutes. I met with a nurse and did a “mini-physical” as they call it. She asked me screening questions (e.g. Have you ever received human pituitary derived growth hormone? Umm…no HGH here), took my blood pressure, and did a finger prick test to check my iron and blood type (A). Once I was screened and accepted, I hopped into a chair with a Gatorade and fresh baked cookies, and squeezed a rubber ball. Five minutes later, I had one less pint of blood and an honest feeling of surprise for how easy the process was (okay—I skipped details on the needle-entering-vein part but it really was no problem!).

While I was there, the nurse educated me about blood donation and the benefits to both donor and recipient. Did you know donating blood is actually healthy for our bodies?? It can help reduce the amount of iron in your body, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Iron overload does not affect women as much as men, but in men who donated 3x per year, their risk of heart attack was reduced by 50%!


A single blood donation helps up to three people and someone needs blood every 3 seconds in America alone! When I was born almost 2 months premature, I had to have so much blood drawn for tests that the doctors needed my dad to donate blood to replenish my blood volume! 60% of the population will need blood at some time in their lives, yet less than 5% of the population donates. I didn’t mean this post as a PSA, but if you can donate, I would totally encourage you to!

Get this…after donating a pint of my blood, my body replaced the entire blood volume in 48 hours. Isn’t that crazy?! It will take four to six weeks for my body to completely replenish my red blood cell count, which is why I must wait two months to be able to give again. I seriously cannot wait until I can donate again! This is something I hope I continue to do every chance I get!

Love, dance, and explore,


Chattanooga Duathlon: Du’s and Don’ts

A recent weekend in Chattanooga was quite an adventure and included many “firsts”: first duathlon, first endurance race in Tennessee, first time hitting 40 mph on my bike (downhill of course!), and first time racing the course that made me dream of racing triathlons! The Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon was the first triathlon I witnessed live, and three years ago, it sparked my interest in the sport. It was incredible to finally race this course in particular!

ImageYou might notice that the title of this post is actually the Chattanooga Duathlon. While all of the entrants to this year’s race were hoping it would be an Olympic distance triathlon (roughly 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run), the rain storms that have pummeled the east over the summer months caused the Tennessee River to flood near our race venue and the swim was cancelled. This decision turned the race into a Duathlon: 2 mile run, 26.5 mile bike, 6.2 mile run. While I was a little bummed at first (I was actually looking forward to the downstream swim!), I got more excited as race day approached to race my first duathlon. It’s all about adventure, right?!

So, without further a-du, here is a weekend recap in a Duathlon Du’s and Don’ts list:

Du travel with wonderful people. It was so much fun to travel with friends who have similar quirky interests in eclectic music and are game for funky and slightly questionable restaurant choices that turn out to be awesome. There’s nothing better than a surprise jam session to Motion City Soundtrack because you all know the words. (Also, du go to Sluggo’s Vegetarian Cafe in Chattanooga).

Don’t get frustrated when traffic gets bad. You never know what you’ll see when you get off the interstate and take a scenic route…like a GIANT taco…in McDonough, GA.


Self explanatory. A giant taco!

Du spend a “night on the town” in Atlanta by going to Trader Joe’s and buying cookie butter. Think peanut butter consistency, made out of gingerbread cookies. As our hilarious and possibly drunk new best friend from Trader Joe’s said, “It’s the best $3.69 you’ll ever spend!!”

Don’t be anxious the night before the race. At that point, all of your training is done. You can’t retroactively change/improve/challenge yourself more on your workouts. Accept what you have done, prepare for the morning, and remember why you race.

Du train on the bike. A lot. It was a monster hilly course out and back on US 27. I was very thankful for the bike specific training my friend Annette hammered me with leading up to the race. It was very cool to race my fastest Olympic bike split on this challenging course!

Don't let the smile fool you...these workouts are PAINFUL!

Don’t let the smile fool you…these workouts are PAINFUL!

Don’t race the first two miles. Don’t race the first two miles. Don’t race the first two miles. Your legs are doing all the work in a duathlon. Go too hard here and you’ll regret it later.

Du SMILE! A lot! You love this!

Don’t underestimate a set of stairs during the last run leg of the race. Your legs will act like they’ve never used stairs before.

Du wear a Florida State University triathlon uniform. There’s nothing better than meeting alumni from the inaugural women’s soccer team and getting to do the tomahawk chop mid race when people yell, “Go Noles!”

Sarah and I at a more recent race, rocking our FSU kits!

Sarah and I at a more recent race, rocking our FSU kits!

Don’t take your body for granted! It is incredible what our bodies can endure, how far they can carry us, and how powerful they are. Not everyone is so blessed with an able body. I am thankful.

Du KEEP SMILING! Even when the race hurts. A lot.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t race as well as you hoped. Every race is different, as are race conditions from year to year. Thank your body for what it has done and learn from the experience.

Du eat post race watermelon and jump in the hotel pool in your race uniform. Best decisions of the day!

I am thankful for a challenging race, good friends, and a wonderful adventure in Chattanooga. Let me know if you ever decide to do a Du!

Keep smiling,