30,000 Miles

From a young age, travelling has been an integral part of my life. I am fortunate to have parents who found value in exposing my sister and me to new places and different cultures as we were growing up. I have carried this passion for exploration into my adult years, culminating an endless list of locations I hope to visit someday.

When I found myself an intern at an airline, where we had the privilege of flying on standby for no cost, you could say I was excited. In fifteen weeks, I traveled to nine different locations, and over 30,000 miles. Though each of these cities brought new experiences, delicious local cuisines, and beautiful sights, the most important thing they held were friendships I cherish.

Traveling gave me the opportunity to stay connected to those I love most, my tribe of friends who stretch from coast to coast. Each of the fabulous women I visited over my internship have truly influenced my life in a remarkable way. Some I met in middle school and we have grown into our adult selves together, staying connected through college and post-grad life in different states. Others were college friends who I shared the four most formative years of my life with, and we have freshly parted as we start our careers in different cities.

Cheers to the lovely conversations had over a warm cup of coffee or a refreshing glass of wine in the cities my dear friends now call home. San Jose, Houston, Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City, Omaha, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Minneapolis – you each hold a piece of my heart.

A Greater Plan

I pride myself on being a planner, list maker, and organizer extraordinaire. My roommates have often shared a laugh over Anna’s weekly routine, whether it be my Sunday evening meal-prep and laundry ritual or the minute by minute agenda I follow on a daily basis. Some may say I am a bit over the top when it comes to my schedules, but to me they are my sanity.

I think in a lot of ways these plans I create are my defense against failure. I have always thought to myself, if I just have a plan, I will have control over the outcome. For any planners out there, you are probably laughing reading this, because you too have realized we never truly have control in life. My famous last words tend to be, “I’m on solid ground right now, and everything is going according to my plan.”

So when my plans get derailed, at first I am left feeling frustrated and questioning why things didn’t work out the way I intended them to. Then, I often realize, rather than things turning out how I wanted them to, they turned out the way they were supposed to. I promise, there is a big difference.

I am fortunate to have a support system full of some of the most incredible people you will ever meet. From my lovely parents and beautiful sister who are my encouragers and biggest fans, to my village of friends spread across the country, these are my people whom I lean on in these moments. Find those people who you trust to willingly listen and actively give honest advice (though disclaimer it may sometimes be hard to hear) over a cup of coffee or a much needed phone call.

Some of my favorite seasons of growth stemmed from conversations had on the opposite side of my biggest disappointments. There is often beauty in embracing the unknown and allowing yourself release from the confines of schedules and structures. In the end, life will take you exactly where you are supposed to be, with trust in the truly greater plan God has paved for each of us.

Pretty Words

As I’ve shared before, I am a lover of words. Whether it be reading or writing, I have always found immense beauty in the crafting of words. But often, when I’m having trouble describing a feeling or emotion, I turn to those much wiser than I.

So, today I thought I would share my top five quotes to live by. I have carried many of these words with me through seasons of life full of joy, change, and sometimes disappointment. Some of them physically hang on canvases in my home, others are engraved on pieces of jewelry I cherish, while most are simply written on my heart.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
–Maya Angelou

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
–Proverbs 31:25

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.”
–A.A. Milne

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
–John Wooden

“The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well that’s just fabulous.”
–Carrie Bradshaw

A Warm Cup of Coffee

You know those places that bring you peace? We all have them, whether it be your hometown, being by the water, a religious space, or simply a place that makes you feel grounded. For me, this sacred space is my favorite coffee shop in Fort Worth, the city I called home for four years. Avoca Coffee has been home to many late-night study sessions and caffeine fueled days, but more importantly it has cultivated conversations and friendships I hold close to my heart.

As a person who is fulfilled by personal relationships and meaningful conversations, I love a good “coffee date.” So, last year when my New Year’s resolution was to become a regular customer somewhere, Avoca quickly became my favorite hang-out. Whenever a friend wanted to get together that I hadn’t seen in a while, my immediate response was, “Let’s meet for coffee at Avoca!”

Some of my favorite memories were created sitting outside on a spring day, laughing over an iced vanilla latte, or finding comfort snuggled in a back booth sipping a warm mocha. As I struggled through a season of life full of questions and unknowns, the coffee and the conversations slowly healed me.

When I moved away from Fort Worth and in turn, my happy place, what I quickly learned was you are your own sanctuary. I brought the peacefulness and courage I had found in this safe space, into a new chapter of my life, always carrying in my heart the formative conversations had over a warm cup of coffee.

Meant to Be

If it’s meant to be, it will be. This phrase has become a running joke among my roommates, as it tends to be my response to nearly everything these days. My use of this trite phrase has become almost predictable as the three of us learn to navigate this transitional phase of life, finishing school and beginning our careers.

I have found immense beauty in its simplicity though, as it has morphed into my life’s mantra. As someone who lives her life by a well thought out plan, the liberation this mentality provides is cathartic.

I can point to numerous instances in my life where things didn’t exactly go as I had planned. And in the moment there was disappointment, failure, or heartbreak. But then, I rerouted. And as my path changed new dreams, goals, and opportunities presented themselves. As I charted a new course, friendships and relationships were formed, many of these people touching and healing my heart.

If you really think about it, there is more truth in this phrase then nearly any other.  There is a beautifully crafted plan for each of us, and when we learn to look at life as open windows, instead of closed doors, we find freedom on the other side.

Learn to embrace the unknown and value the journey, having faith that what is meant to be in your life, truly will be.

You are Worthy

Think about how many times we use the word “perfect” daily.  We desire the perfect job, the perfect apartment, the perfect family, the perfect body, to be perfect. In my life, perfection has always been the standard I am striving far, a bar set so high that it is truly impossible to meet. So, what is the impending result? Failure.

As someone who is competitive by nature and plays the comparison game better than anyone, this is the viscous cycle I am constantly trapped in. All that happens though is I hurt both my mind and my heart in the process.

Well, today is the day that stops. I consider myself extremely lucky because I am blessed with a support system full of family, friends, and mentors that encourage and love me daily. I recently had a friend remind me of a few things that seem simple, but have been monumentally transformative in my life.

You are enough.

You are worthy.

And most of all, you are worth it.

Our conversation quickly became the catalyst for a journey towards self-love and it just happened to be exactly what I needed, when I didn’t even know I needed it. Funny how life works some times.

The best part about this journey is there is no end to it, no goal waiting at the end or perfection that can be attained. It is a culmination of conversations, inspirations, quotes, journal entries, and prayers that are all leading me on a winding path to a more fulfilling life.

So, here’s to a new season of life with more grace and faithfulness than ever before. Because guess what? I am worth it.