I can still feel the salty breeze on my face and warm sunshine in my eyes as I rode down the infamous CA- 1 in a beautiful (rented) white BMW convertible. I remember landing in San Francisco and feeling so happy to finally be taking the trip of my dreams to celebrate 30 years on this earth. Who else was obsessed with the TV shows the O.C. and Laguna Beach growing up?? I have always wanted to visit California and ride all along the coastline in a convertible since as far back as I can remember, and boy oh boy it was everything I imagined and more. I had this trip planned out months before we arrived and the one thing I knew I wanted was to rent a convertible. This is the ONE piece of my trip I am so glad I did not skimp on. God must have been smiling down on us the day we arrived, because we were surprised with a free upgrade to a brand new BMW instead of the cheaper version we originally rented. Ya’ll I felt like I had finally made it in life when they handed me the keys lol. I had just lost my corporate job a few days before I left for my California birthday trip, and Lord knew I needed to feel His presence more than ever on this journey. This post has been a little hard for me to write as I am no longer with the person I went on this trip with, but at the time I was completely in love. This was one of the best trips I have ever taken and it’s just too good not to share with the world.
The very first stop we made was obviously to the GOAT fast food joint, In-N-Out Burger. I looked up all of the secret menu items on the plane and already knew I was going to order the animal style fries and burger and it was literally heaven in my mouth after a long day of traveling. Southwest actually hooked us up with non-stop flights into San Francisco from Nashville for less than $300 a person round trip. WINNING! Then we settled into the cutest boutique hotel close to the airport and hit the hay as we had a jam packed week of fun ahead of us.
The next morning we hopped in the convertible and did a little San Francisco Bay exploring before hitting the road to Big Sur. Instead of opting for Starbucks where you can get anywhere, I stumbled upon the most adorable coffee shop called Never Too Latte. I had the most delicious red velvet cake latte and breakfast croissant sandwich.
I wrapped a scarf around my head so my hair wouldn’t blow in my face, started jamming to my California spotify playlist and hit the road to find a little greenery for our trip. Ya’ll, I was that girl in High School who hardly ever drank and definitely didn’t come anywhere close to doing drugs. However, as a recently new 30 year old woman and in a state where Marijuana is legal, I thought what the heck why not? #YOLO. Sorry Mimi if you’re reading this haha! I walked into a brick and mortar store called The Green Cross and was immediately surprised by all of the sick people lined up to get their dose of medicine. It made me so sad seeing these people in pain, and people with no hair who had obviously been through chemo treatment. It definitely opened my eyes to the medicinal benefits of marijuana and decided to try it out for myself. Lets just say it made the memory of losing my job disappear fairly quickly and made me a lot more relaxed driving over scary cliffs by the waters edge lol. I think it is worth mentioning that I absolutely do not condone getting high in states where it is not legal, but hey it made the trip a lot more interesting, lets just be real ya’ll.
After we got happy, we set off for the beautiful Big Sur area. We made several stops on the way and took pictures at the famous Bixby Creek Bridge and Pacific Coast’s Edge. We also stopped at Caramel By the Sea. I highly recommend going here for at least a day because it is the cutest town with so much character and the foodie in me was so impressed.
I have never been camping in my entire life and it has always been something I have wanted to do. I knew if I was going to be surrounded by the beautiful Red Woods in Big Sur, I wanted to actually experience the nature around me. So instead of opting for a boujee hotel, I found the most romantic resort offering #glamping at Ventana Big Sur. Now I am from the south and can rough it with the best of them, but having an electrical outlet and running water to brush my teeth was really nice.
I mean how adorable are these #glamping tents? For those of you who don’t know what glamping is, its glamorous camping for divas like me. I was genuinely in awe when we pulled up to our camp site. Our camp site was very private and right next to the bathrooms—score! It came equipped with a fire pit, sink and mirror, basket with wine and smores’ and the sweetest note welcoming me for my birthday trip. Ventana even had a personal concierge service where you could text a number and someone would bring you anything you need in a golf cart…..like cheese fries when you have the munchies at 9 PM lol. This is luxury camping at its finest ya’ll and I did thorough research before choosing to stay here. They even offered complimentary coffee and breakfast at the Sur Stream Cafe that you could walk to and outdoor yoga every morning.
The Sur Stream turned into a bar and spot for live music and BBQ during the evenings. It was such a blast and we had fun meeting the fellow campers. I cant even describe the beauty that surrounded me. I was in awe driving through the enormous redwood trees. These are some of the oldest trees in the US and the energy there was unlike anything I had ever felt. I slept like a baby every single night and felt an inner peace that my heart really needed at that time.
The next morning we ate breakfast at The Sur House and got ready for our hike. We scheduled a photography class with a local expert which was very unique. We had a blast learning about the culture of Big Sur and how the locals are like one big family. Big Sur is a fairly small town with a population of less than 5,000 but full of exquisite beauty. Its the best of both worlds because you get the beautiful turquoise waters and huge waves crashing against the mountainside. Just a few miles inland and you are among some of the best hiking trails in the US. Its no wonder everyone wants to live in California. Not to mention the weather is perfect and there is absolutely no need for air conditioning at night sleeping outside below the trees.
We were able to witness several California condors, an endangered species which is very rare to see. We filled up a canteen of fresh mineral water and found the “local’s shower” where hikers and travelers can bathe in a natural spring water. I was captivated by the infinite beauty and quickly learned how to keep my succulents alive at home. The wildflowers and succulents grew everywhere even on rocks. I think God spent a little extra time on this piece of the earth and its something everyone should witness before they die.
Big Sur is hands down one of my favorite places on earth that I have traveled. I left a piece of my heart in there and cant wait to go back! If I could plan my trip again I would have definitely allotted more time there. After our hike we went back to the camp site, freshened up, and headed off to our first dinner reservation at the resort. We ordered six courses and ate until our bellies were going to explode but damn it was worth it. The pictures don’t even do it justice…our meal and service was that good. Even if you’re not staying at Ventana I highly recommend eating at the Sur House.
I mean if heaven existed on a plate this was it. The flavor combinations and presentation are what dreams are made of. I personally love it when I go to a restaurant and have to look up what half of the menu items are, because that’s how you step out of your comfort zone. I always make it a goal on every trip to try a local dish that I have never ever tried before. I am a huge seafood lover and knowing that I was eating fresh sea to table made me feel like what I was putting into my body was gold.
We came back to our tent extremely relaxed after our meal, built a fire at our campsite and gazed at the beautiful stars in the sky trying to figure out which constellations we were witnessing. It was a truly romantic evening that ended with a skinny dip in the Japanese bath houses at 2 AM. I bet you didn’t see that coming did you? Ventana offers an experience to bathe in a heated pool with no roof and all you can see are the beautiful stars above you. It is very private but also completely exhilarating because you never know if someone is going to walk in! I look back and wonder if I was in a dream or the middle of a romance novel. We woke up in the middle of the night and knew we had to take advantage of the bath houses when nobody was awake. We stole a golf cart because we couldn’t get there fast enough, giggling and holding hands the entire way, and finally found the exclusive bath houses in the dark tucked away from the rest of the world. We stripped down, kissed each other like we meant it, dipped our toes in the warm pool and made love under the stars with God as our witness. It was a magical night I will never forget.
Okay, sorry not sorry for going all Taylor Swift intimate and personal on yall, but if you’re looking for a romantic vacation this is THE place to go! We woke up the next morning with hearts so full but sad knowing we had to leave that day. I wanted to stay longer but knew we had more of beautiful California state to see, and we all know I didn’t plan a trip to California without going to Wine Country…..Napa here we come baby! We stopped at the most pleasant and (packed) local breakfast joint called Big Sur Bakery on the way out, and ordered enough gluten and sugar filled pastries to feed an army. But what kind of crazy people actually diet on vacation?? Not this woman- so bring on the glutton baby!
This is what thirty and thriving and living my best life looks like ya’ll. Was it 10 AM in the morning with a fine glass of red wine? Well yes, because if you have ever been to Wine Country you would know that there is very little time to bounce around to your favorites and get wine drunk. It is called wine COUNTRY for a reason as there are over 300 vineyards within this glorious region. We visited two of my favorite vineyards of all time Duckhorn and Ridge. I would definitively plan ahead and reserve a guided tour if you’re a #wino like me and curious to learn the history of how these magicians actually make their wine. I was surprised to see that the grapes used in my favorites were dark and almost smaller than blueberries. This is how you know the grapes you are buying in the grocery store have been showered with lots of chemicals to make them bigger than they really should be. We tasted some of the new collections, and I was fortunate our trip fell during Cabernet season (my favorite of all time). The Ridge tour was unique because we actually got to ride out and see the vineyard where the grapes are hand picked and learned about the wine making process more in depth. I really appreciated the wine and cheese pairings at Duckhorn because what woman doesn’t love cheese with their wine for breakfast? I wish I could have taken a barrel home with me and bathed in it, because that’s how much I love this wine, but of course they wouldn’t let me haha. Next time I am bringing my best girl friends and fellow wine snobs and we are getting a limo to ride around to different tastings!
Napa Valley is only an hour and a half drive to San Francisco so we decided to spend our last few days in California really exploring the city. We spent the day at Pier 39 playing with the sea lions….just kidding I wish. They were so cute and looked like they just loved snuggling up on each other. We had some beignets that were definitely not a good as New Orleans style beignets, but the whole soft shell crab and shrimp as big as my hand were unforgettable. I wish I could postmates that to me right now. Then we got dressed up and a little fancy for our last dinner reservation at the Water Bar. Regarded as San Francisco’s foremost seafood restaurant, WaterBar continues to set new standards of sustainability, variety, and excellence in the sourcing, preparation and presentation of food from the sea. Waterbar is situated in a prime location on the waterfront of San Francisco’s Embarcadero, just south of the “Cupid’s Span” sculpture, featuring panoramic views of the bay, Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the San Francisco skyline. Pat Kuleto’s unique design for Waterbar features an extravagant, cascading oyster bar and dramatic floor-to-ceiling aquariums, which serve as the restaurant’s focal point.
We ate enough seafood that night that I literally thought my stomach was going to explode, but my weakness are oysters and seafood so give it to me i’m worth it. The view was stunning and I felt like a princess that night all glammed up and feasting like a queen. We went to bed fat and happy and arose the next morning with tears in our eyes because we had truly found the #goodplace. If only Kristen Bell could have been there to drink wine and make me laugh and torture my ex boyfriend now lol. Well for those of you who don’t know me well, I am not always the most punctual person. I completely underestimate the time that it actually takes to complete a task, such as driving to the airport in San Francisco traffic. Well….we returned our beautiful convertible rental in time and scurried off to check our bags all to have the nice southwest lady tell us that we were going to miss our flight. Well what on earth were we going to do now? We didn’t have a traditional 9-5 job to get back to, so we were able to change our flight for the next day on the red eye flight home. Guess what that meant? An amazing curve ball was thrown our way and we had the most beautiful detour to LAKE TAHOE! It was only three hours away and this was the only day I was truly glad to miss a flight.
The cherry on top? We made it back in time to reserve the same convertible for an extra two days. There were definitely travel angels looking down on us this trip. I was able to find the most stunning AirBnb cabin and booked it instantly the same day. It was at the top of the mountain 6200 feet alove sea level, and I have never felt altitude sickness until that day. I ended up either getting a stomach bug or so nauseous from the altitude that I spent the entire night hovered over a toilet. Travel isn’t always fun and glamorous y’all. So word to the wise, get yourself some Dramamine if you are a southerner like me and used to flat lands lol. Needless to say, I pulled myself together so we could explore the beauty that Lake Tahoe had to offer. I want to go back and spend a week there. The water is completely stunning and so clear…or so I thought. Lake Tahoe actually does not get its iconic blue tint because the water is so clear. Instead, the lake’s blueness comes from the amount of algae in the water. If only I had enough money to buy a yacht and a second home in Tahoe I would in a heartbeat. You get the best of both worlds being able to ski in the winter seasons and play in the water during the summer. The more I write this post the more I am convincing myself I should move out west. As we wrapped up our 9 day California #roadtrip, I felt a joy my heart I have never felt before. I felt more cultured, knowledgeable and refreshed than I had in an entire year. It was an experience of a lifetime and I encourage each of you to try to make the road trip of your dreams to great state of California.
The best travel advice I can give you when traveling is to let yourself go. Let yourself experience the beauty of Gods masterpiece. Learn to appreciate your surroundings and gain local knowledge. Live in the moment and put your phone and camera down often to be present and make lasting memories. If something doesn’t go according to your planned out itinerary, that’s totally okay because you never know when you just might end up in Lake Tahoe throwing up your guts haha j/k. Sometimes your trip isn’t so perfect after all, but make it unforgettable and make it yours. You are the only one with your perspective so don’t be afraid to share that with the world.
“I believe that traveling to spectacular destinations should entice a heart shift to reevaluate if you are meant to live in one spot the rest of your life. On the contrary, travel can make you miss home more than ever and realize that maybe you’re exactly where you are meant to be after all. “
Life is freaking hard ya’ll. Sometimes ‘adulting’ is so overrated lets get real. I look and laugh at my dog, Dixie, and am often envious of her life sometimes—-oh to be able to play, eat sleep, and repeat every day and not have any stress LOL. Every single one of us is fighting a personal battle and trying to do the best we can. We hear of awful things happening in the news, trouble at home, at work, or with our friends and family. Our world is overcome with disease, death, hardship, job loss, relationship struggles, marriage struggles, loss of friendships, spiritual warfare, difficulties raising children, etc. I can speak from experience that these battles can be crippling at times if you don’t have the right mindset, tools and faith to overcome these obstacles.
I actually mentioned in my last post that “God wont give us anything we cant handle.” I have come to learn that is simply not true. God ABSOLUTELY will give us things we cannot handle, and that is because we cannot handle it on our own if we try. As hard as it may be at times, we have to let go and give it to God. We are called to cast our worries and fears and place them in God’s hands. If we try to handle things on our own and in our own way, then you will likely not get the result you want and end up feeling more lost and disappointed.
We are not in control of other people’s actions and hurtful behavior, BUT we are in control of how we react and respond. We are in control of our mindset and how we choose to overcome obstacles. Do you find yourself immediately going into panic mode and trying to “fix” a situation whenever you hit a little bump or even major pothole in the road? Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious and searching for answers of what to do next? That is human nature, but there is another solution. I encourage you to be still and pray. Instead of trying to find the answers for a solution on your own, try to TRUST that God is always on your side. Try giving your worries and stress over to God. Whenever you do not understand what is happening in your life, try to take a deep breath and pray something like this:
“God, I have no idea how to handle this situation and I need your help. I am giving this over to you. I trust that you will make my paths straight. I trust that whatever the outcome may be, even if its not the outcome that I WANT, you have a much bigger plan beyond my comprehension. I have faith in Your plan and realize I cannot control other people and every situation in my life. I give this burden to you and ask for your help, guidance and mercy. Lord if its not Your will, let it slip through my grasp and give me the peace not to worry about it.”
Its human nature to feel stubborn and think that we can do everything on our own. It’s human nature to be scared to ASK for help. I used to think asking for help was a sign of weakness and it showed I didn’t have it all figured out….and I don’t have it figured out! God has truly humbled me and showed me that I cannot walk through this life alone and without Him. I could do that but I would be missing out on so many rewards and blessings that he has for my life.
“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37
The pain that you may be feeling, cannot compare to the joy that is coming. God is our refuge, strength and our ever-present help in trouble. God doesn’t give the hardest battles to His toughest soldiers. He CREATES the toughest soldiers through life’s hardest battles. Try not to forget that you are human though. It’s OKAY to have a melt down. Its OKAY to not have it all figured out all the time…just try not to unpack it all and live there forever. Its OKAY to cry it out and feel those emotions, but then once you are done try to refocus on your future and where you’re headed with God on your side.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. The Devil is constantly trying to win us over and put a roadblock in between our stairway to God. Whenever you hear those nasty little voices inside your head telling you cant, that you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, successful enough, talented enough, pretty enough, strong enough…REBUKE THOSE THOUGHTS immediately because its the biggest lie you could EVER believe about yourself, and that exactly where the Devil wants you! Don’t let him win!
You are beautiful! You are strong! You are capable! You are loved! You are inspiring! You are talented! You are blessed! You are a child of God! You are unstoppable! You are a great friend! You are a great son and daughter! You are a great parent! You are capable of crushing your goals! You are forgiven! You are redeemed! You are accepted! You are victorious! You are created in the image of God! You are strong and you are NEVER alone! You can be whoever YOU want to be if you believe in yourself enough and learn to see yourself the way that God sees you. Our true values do not lie in our abilities, but rather in our identity as a Child of God. Your identity is not your sin and your sin does not define you, but your identity is in your SAVIOR.
Who were you created to be? What are your dreams? What are your goals? Our identity drives our actions. Start to pay attention to the little voice inside your head. What is it saying to you? Is it making excuses and saying I cant do that or i’m not good enough? Or is that little voice saying HELL YES i can do anything I set my mind to? Is that little voice in your head positive or negative? Is it judgmental of others? Guess what honey, NOBODY on this earth is perfect and at the end of the day the only one who has the authority to judge you is God! So stop letting other people’s opinions of you control YOUR LIFE! Its human nature to judge people, I get it and am guilty of it too, but try to remember that its not your place to judge. Unless you are perfect, and I dang sure haven’t met a perfect person in my life, then its not OK to judge others and its not OK to let others opinions drive your destiny. Stop giving that control to other people and learn how to take the reigns of your life back and live your life according to His will and purpose.
“We are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:20
If you don’t know what your purpose is then that’s okay too. I would encourage you to dive into the word as much as you can. Pray often and pray hard. Give your worries and fears to God. Start surrounding yourself with POSITIVE people and people who speak truth to you. Start loving yourself a little more and taking care of your beautiful body. In time you will learn to love yourself the way God loves you. Your worth is not defined by your relationships, your bank account, your job, your looks, or your body. Your worth is in JESUS CHRIST alone! How amazing is it that we have such a forgiving, loving, and merciful Savior who offers hope that this world simply cannot give?
One thing I do every single morning is write down three things i am thankful for. It can be as minute as my cozy bed or as big as my friends and family. Staying grateful and having a heart full of gratitude will make it easier to rebuke those negative thoughts inside your head. Staying grateful and positive will help you see the best in yourself and the best in others. I encourage you to try this out for a month and let me know your results. It takes 33 days to form a habit. What’s stopping you? Are you the only one holding yourself back???
It has taken me two years to forgive you. I left my home in Mississippi and ran to Nashville, TN to start over after you tried to destroy my heart and my dignity. I know I will never receive the apology from you that I deserve. I know I was naive to ever believed you loved me. No means no. I should have never felt fearful of someone I loved. There is no fear in true love.
I know now that forgiveness comes in waves and it is the only way to truly move on. Choosing to forgive you was the bravest thing I have ever done. Learning to see you for who you really were was the most freeing moment of my life. You tortured me with your mind games and abused me emotionally, physically and sexually. I know now that it is a reflection of your heart and not mine. I have struggled with PTSD from the trauma you brought into my life but it has only made me stronger. PTSD is something I have never had to deal with before and it changed my life. I began to believe the awful things you said about me but I have learned that time, patience and prayer heals all wounds. I began to believe the devil whispering into my ear that dying would be easier than living through the hell you put me through. But the more I prayed, the more I realized that would be the most selfish thing I could ever do. So many friends and family love me in a way you never could, and most importantly my Savior loves me more than anyone on this earth and in that I find never ending hope and peace. Thank you for helping shape my story so I can now use my pain to help others see the light.
For me, writing has a way of setting your soul free and digging deeper into the depths of ones soul and trauma that is suppressed. So I am writing this post to say THANK YOU. Thank you for hurting me and forcing me to become a stronger woman. Thank you for helping me become more aware of evil and less naive. Thank you for showing me what red flags to look for in future partners. Thank you for breaking me so I could rely on God to fill my cup instead of relying on you. Thank you for closing a door so a new one could be opened. Thank you for setting me free so God can place a real man into my life who serves the Lord and helps keep God in the center of our relationship.
To anyone who is reading this- I hope you take away one main thing. I hope you know that you are beautiful and loved so deeply beyond comprehension by our Savior Jesus Christ! We are all imperfect and sin every single day. Its OKAY to walk away from toxicity in your life. It may be a boyfriend, friend, or even a family member. If someone belittles you, physically and/or emotionally abuses you, rapes you, abandons you, or makes you feel like you are hard to love, then its time to walk away and reevaluate if this person adds value to your life. God has a plan for your life and His plan does not include living in fear, judgement or pain.
I encourage you to pray hard even on your worst days when you feel like giving up. Pray for those who have hurt you. Keep praying for the ones who are too prideful to apologize. Keep praying for them because God is capable of MIRACLES. God is capable of transforming hearts and transforming your life! Forgiving someone DOES NOT mean that you have to allow someone to stay in your life and keep tormenting and hurting you. Forgiving someone means you can let them go, if necessary, which allows God to remove any anger and bitterness from your heart that may be holding you back from your true destiny.
I wrote my ex boyfriend this poem two years ago after he hurt my heart, mind and body for the very last time. This is the first time I am sharing it with anyone so please excuse any typos and grammar errors. I hope that this brings a little courage to anyone going through a tragedy similar to mine. I pray that my story can be a beacon of light for someone feeling trapped and scared for their life. I hope that you know that its OKAY and its necessary to walk away. Walking away and going no contact is the best thing you can do in order for your heart to heal. You will start to love your self a little more each day, breathe a little easier, laugh a little harder and pray more than you ever have before in your life. God does not give us any battle we cannot handle. God’s got your back and has been there all along. Don’t give up now because with God on your side anything truly is possible!
You were just the boy next door, making my heart fall to the floor
Your hands all over my skin drawing me in, damn loving you was my greatest sin
How could I have known I was staring into the Devil’s eyes? I was captivated by your roller coaster ride
Can you truly know a man who fools your soul? Where are all of the other hearts you stole?
Never knowing the truth, just blinded by an illusion of you
Now I am fearless and never looking back! I am ready to survive, yep I see right through your mask
Looking into the face of death, I have never felt more alive. Let’s let it all go now, let it all die
Oh honey, I’m not a pawn in your chess game anymore. I know now that monsters thrive on victims then grow bored
I’m slamming all my doors, so you cant throw me on the floor anymore
I’ll spread my wings through the shame and I’m looking up to the sky despite my pain
I underestimated your disguise behind the lies; leaving me with no other option but goodbye.
Loving you was a hell I never want to relive. If only God can help me forgive.
Who do you really think you are, tying to control my heart?
Laughing in the face of love, Are you really only after blood?
Oh baby, you think you did a number on me, but you lost your own battle and now I’m finally fucking free!