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Beach Confidence: Nobody’s Looking

By July 24, 2017 Life, Travel

Hey there!  It’s me, Heidi.

This week I went to the beach with two of the best ladies I know; and, as always, when I’m surrounded by inspiring people and an inspiring view, I tend to have some inspiring thoughts.  I’d like to share what came to mind this week on my trip.

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she will walk out onto the beach and think, “eff it, nobody’s looking.” She will take the swimsuit cover off, throw her towel down, and strut her lumpy butt down to the water and have the time of her life. She will splash, she will swim, she will smile, and she won’t care who sees her. But it takes a while to get to that point. Trust me… I’m 29 and I’ve just now gotten there.  When she does, she realizes that there’s no need to be self-conscious because nobody’s looking at her anyway. Those other people are having fun with their own friends and family. And heck, even if they are looking, what they’re thinking isn’t, “Wow, look at that loser.”  No.  They’re thinking, “Damn.  I wish I had her confidence.”

Guess what… you can!

But how?

Well, I’ll tell you.

1.  Buy a bathing suit you are COMFORTABLE in!

This is obviously easier said than done, I know.  But, seriously, the second you stop worrying about finding a bathing suit that is super fashionable or in style that season and instead find one that actually fits your body, it will make all the difference in the world.  What can be more uncomfortable and make you more self conscious than a bathing suit that doesn’t fit you well?  I don’t know about you, but when I’m in the water I don’t want to worry about a sick wave knocking my top off.  Amiright?

I’ve also found that, when it comes to swimsuit comfort, less isn’t always more.  I recently bought a one-piece romper style swimsuit from Target that actually has more fabric than any other swimsuit I’ve had, but it holds everything in place and I don’t have to worry about showing parts of my body that I don’t want to be seen.  I can move around freely, and it feels great!  If you feel good, you will look good.  Don’t worry about what “they” think.

2.  Stop comparing yourself to other people.

It’s so easy to look at everyone around you at the beach and to start comparing yourself to the two or three super skinny, super fit, super tan, super blonde, teeny bikini wearing women who everyone seems to be noticing.  DON’T DO IT.  DON’T PLAY THAT GAME.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Sure, go ahead and look around.  After all, there’s lots of beauty to behold at the beach.  But, instead of seeing all of the things you are not, focus on all of the things that you are.  You are an amazing person made in God’s image and likeness, and you are blessed to be spending a glorious day in the sun.  You may not look like a super model, but who does?  Even super models don’t look like super models in real life.  You are who  you are, and you are PERFECT.

“Take a break from worrying about what you can’t control.  Live a little.” -Passengers

You cannot control what you look like.  You cannot control what other people may or may not think of you.  So stop worrying about those things and LIVE.  Live boldly.

3.  Focus on what’s really important and RELAX.

Nothing gives you more confidence than beaching it with the right group of friends or family who are all about building you up.  Stay OFF of social media and be present with your loved ones surrounding you.  Bring a book, clear your head, listen to some music or let the sound of the waves soothe you.  Grab some coconut oil, a handful of sand, and give yourself a beach pedi.  Meditate, have a daiquiri, rent a kayak for a few hours and explore the deeper waters.  Bring a notebook and write down any inspiring thoughts that come to you as you observe your surroundings.  Get out of your head and LIVE IN THE MOMENT.  Focus on all of the good things you have going on in your life, and the worry and anxiety will fall away.

In summary, know that you are awesome!  Let loose, relax, take the cover up off, dive in, HAVE FUN!

There is no one on Earth as fabulous as you.

“You are enough.  You are so enough.  It’s unbelievable how enough you are.” -Sierra Boggess

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

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Airbnb in Asheville, NC – Adorable Cottage

By June 27, 2017 Travel

Hey there!  It’s me, Heidi.

Last time we talked about my trip to Asheville, NC it was all about hiking.  This time, I want to talk to you about where to stay when (not if) you make the journey to the mountains, too.  Seriously though, make it a when you go, not an if you go.  So, part of the goal of my trip to Asheville was to have a relaxing and fun girls weekend with a great friend and awesome experiences without breaking the bank.  Which, let’s be honest, can be difficult to do.  I researched different hotels and even some bed and breakfast options, but ultimately we decided that we wanted to stay in a place where we could bring our own food and cook to save money insead of eating out for every meal.  That meant we needed a kitchen and a refrigerator.  Now, if you’re looking for a hotel with a kitchen and a refrigerator it can be quite expensive, which is completely opposite of what we were trying to accomplish.  Instead, we decided to check out Airbnb.

I had heard a lot about Airbnb, but I didn’t really know anyone who had used it, and to be honest I was pretty skeptical of staying in some stranger’s home.  I did a lot a lot a lot of reading up on Airbnb… both the good and the bad.  I found that more people than not had good experiences using Airbnb, and the ones who had not so great experiences really hadn’t done a whole lot of research on the precise location of their Airbnb and wound up in some pretty sketchy places.  If you’re going to use Airbnb that is the first thing that I would suggest… research the hell out of where you are going and where the nicer surrounding areas are.  We wanted a family-friendly environment, a quiet neighborhood, grocery stores and such nearby, easy access to the interstate, a less than 15 minute drive to downtown Asheville, and ultimately just a nice and clean place to stay for a few nights.

We wound up choosing a place called Adorable Cottage, and adorable it was (they have lots of pictures on their Airbnb listing that you should def check out)!  Robin and Corey are the owners, and were incredibly gracious hosts.  Adorable Cottage is a separate little unit on their property with incredibly private access.  It has it’s own driveway around the corner from the front of their home, and the entrance to the cottage faced away from their house with a nice little deck and outdoor bathtub (we didn’t use the outdoor bathtub as it was very cold there in November, but I can see where it would be very nice during warmer months).  There was a keypad instead of having to carry a key around, which was actually very nice.  Robin and Corey texted us the code just before our arrival, so we had it on our phones in case we had trouble remembering it.  Slippers and robes were provided as was a complimentary bottle of wine.  Such a sweet touch, and a great way to feel welcomed and “at home” away from our actual home.

Adorable Cottage was about a 10 minute drive to downtown Asheville, and was in a quiet neighborhood.  Actually, it was so quiet that when I would go sit out on the deck in the morning you could hear the wind, birds, and nature, and NOT cars.  It was quite lovely.  The inside of the cottage was great.  There was a master bedroom with a queen sized bed, a full kitchen, decent sized bathroom with stand up shower and access to outside tub, and a small living room/office that had a sleeper sofa.  My friend wound up sleeping in the bedroom and I slept on the sleeper sofa on opposite sides of the cottage, which wound up being a blessing.  We love being together, but she needs all of the heat in the winter, and I absolutely cannot stand having a heater on… BRING ON THE COLD!  Plus, we’re both introverts so even on a girls weekend vacation it was nice for both of us to get the alone time that we need.  My favorite part of the cottage was the room I was staying in, which you can see pictures of above… the sleeper couch was under a little book nook, which for any book lovers out there like me was the icing on the cake!  Just being around books makes me feel better and more relaxed.  To sleep underneath them was a dream!  Having the full kitchen was also awesome.  We were able to make breakfast, pack a lunch, and make dinner when we got home.  We only ate out a handful of times, but for the most part we were able to make our own food.  HUGE money saver.

The only thing I didn’t like about Adorable Cottage is that it’s “shotgun” style… sort of… and you have to walk through the bathroom to get to the little living room area.  So, for example, if I was getting ready in the morning and my friend needed to use the restroom or shower, I was stuck in that one room until she was finished and I could walk through the bathroom to get to the kitchen or bedroom.  Also, the rooms are separated by curtains, not doors, but that actually wasn’t a big deal for us.  I’ll say this… Adorable Cottage is a wonderful place to stay if you know your travel buddy very well.  If you don’t, you may want to either find somewhere else to stay or prepare to get to know him or her better than you did before!

As far as pricing goes, we paid approximately $480 for a 4 night stay.  Split between the two of us that would be $240 for each person.  I think we hit the jackpot.  $240 for our own places to sleep, a full kitchen, great location, wonderful hosts, complimentary wine, and the lady bugs that were all over the gardens outside (yes, there were so many)… WINNING.

Although there are a plethora of places to stay around Asheville, and I’m sure there are other Airbnb locations around, I would without hesitation book Adorable Cottage again, and I would encourage all of you to check it out.  I’m also much less hesitant about using Airbnb in general, and think it’s a great alternative to traditional hotel arrangements if you’re looking for a little more out of the place you’re staying than just a bed.  But, again, make sure you do SO.  MUCH.  RESEARCH.  Do not ever stay in an Airbnb without reading all of the reviews, being semi-familiar with the area, and choosing hosts that you trust.

Leave any questions you have about Asheville, Adorable Cottage, or my Airbnb experience in the comments and I’ll get back to you!  Also, check out this article by Caroline and Erin of Local Adventurer about some of their favorite places to stay in Asheville.  They have a great blog, and some great information!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian.

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Frose, y’all! (and other reasons to eat at Willa Jean)

By June 18, 2017 Life, Travel

Hey there!  It’s me, Heidi.

Back again today with another exhilarating blog post, only this time I’m writing from Florida!  That’s right, be jealous.  I’m at the beach!  For anyone looking for inspiration, the beach is a great location for writing.  The warm weather, the sound of the waves, a salty breeze, and maybe a rum punch in hand make for a nearly perfect writing location/scenario.  Anyway… while I’m here in Florida taking a break from every day life, I thought I would use the opportunity to write, write, write, write, write.  So, get ready for several posts a day for the next five days!

First up, I’m going to talk about the restaurant where that delicious loaf up in the feature photo came from!  If you love food as much as me, this post is dedicated to you – and Denise (bff/eating buddy).

I have been friends with Denise (or as I lovingly call her, Goose… or Bernice… or Heifer depending on the day) since 6th grade.  SIXTH GRADE.  That’s like… well, it’s a lot of years that add up to well over half of our lives.  I don’t have any friends who I have been friends with as long as Goose, and as long as we’ve known each other we’ve had three loves in common – shopping, travel, and FOOD.  Food, glorious food!  We have even travelled together several times, and the number one question we always ask every single days is, “Ok, where are we eating?”  It’s our thing.  So, naturally, on Friday night when we were both sitting around bored we decided we were going to find somewhere to eat.  Our only requirements?  That it is edible and delicious.

Since Denise lives in New Orleans proper, we decided we were going to make it a night out in the city, Uber and all.  We chose Willa Jean.  The bakery/cafe is part of the Besh Restaurant Group with Chef Kelly Fields at the helm.  It features southern style meals and baked goods, and all of the coffee and adorable alcoholic beverages you could ever want.  Before I get into how our experience and meal was, let’s talk money.

I’m actually surprised and how inexpensive Willa Jean can be.  Sure, you can go nuts like Denise and I did with alcohol, appetizer, main dish, AND dessert, but even so, we didn’t spend as much as we expected to.  Our drinks were $11 each, which is pretty typical.  Appetizers (or “snacks” as they’re labelled on the menu) run anywhere between $9 and $12.  Your main dish (could be a tartine, sandwich, salad + soup, or a hot plate) can go for between $12 and $25.  Hot plates are a bit more expensive than tartines, sandwiches, salad + soup, but still relatively reasonable.  And, all desserts are $9 – which you can totally split even though Denise and I are pigs and had to have our own… I’m not even sorry.

So, really, you can make it as expensive or inexpensive as you want.  We decided to go all out since we were considering this a night out on the town and weren’t going anywhere else.  Between our Uber to and from the restaurant, and alcohol, appetizer, main dishes, and two desserts, we spent about $120 total for the whole night.  $60 for each of us, which I thought was pretty good for all of that.  Not to mention it’s a really hip atmosphere in a good part of the city (look at me using the word hip… I’m not even hip enough to use the word hip much less pretend that I fit in at a hip restaurant).

And now for our food.  IT.  WAS.  SO.  GOOD.  We both got a glass of frose (frozen rose), which was adorable and pink and girly and made us feel like the hipster princesses that we’re totally not.  Then we ordered our appetizer… corn bread (the feature photo above).  But, oh no… this wasn’t normal corn bread.  It was an entire freaking loaf of the sweetest corn bread I’ve ever eaten, with a side of whipped butter and Poirier’s cane syrup.  DELISH.  We at the whole thing.  THE WHOLE THING.  For our main dishes, we went for completely opposite types of meals, but both were so amazing.  Goose got a hot plate – braised lamb over bowtie pasta with a mint pesto, tomatoes, english peas, and feta cheese.  I had a tartine – avocado toast topped with two poached eggs, olive oil, tomatoes, and sea salt.  There was also a lot of arugula on it.  Both of our meals had flower petals sprinkled over the top giving them a beautiful, summery, colorful appearance.  When our waitress came to pick up our plates (which again, we ate ALL of), she asked us how we were doing.  “Full.  We are SO FULL.”  Do you have room for dessert?  “Absolutely yes we do!”

Y’all… we each got our own dessert and shared because WE ARE PIGS, but it was so worth it.  Goose had the red velvet cake, which was more like chunks of cake in a bowl topped with a cherry sauce, chocolate squares, creole cream cheese ice cream, and some sort of crunchy delicious unidentifiable something.  I got milk and cookies – chocolate chip cookies with salt on them, sweet vanilla milk, and they bring you a chunk of raw cookie dough with it.

To say we were stuffed by the end of the night is a gross understatement.  It was so much food.  So much yum.  So much fun.  So much hell yes.  We vowed to keep going back until we’ve tried everything on the menu.  It really is that good.  Would I eat there on a normal every day basis?  Probably not.  But on a vacation, stay-cation, or just a good ole girls night out like we had it is an excellent choice.

I’m going to post pictures below because honestly, the food descriptions just don’t do it justice.  You’ve gotta see it for yourself.  And, hopefully, you’ll try it for yourself someday soon!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

My gorgeous friend and date for the evening.

Frose, y’all!

Slice of cornbread = slice of heaven.

Braised lamb + bowtie pasta.

Avocado toast tartine.

Red velvet cake.

Milk and cookies.

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That time I went hiking… and LIKED it!

By June 10, 2017 Travel

Hey there!  It’s me, Heidi.

So sorry to have kept you in the dark for the past several days.  I just started a new job (clarification – a new temporary job until I find a permanent job), and my week has been a bit nuts.  I know, I know.  It’s no excuse.  It’s a reason, but certainly not an excuse.  To make up for it, you get to read this amazing post about the time I did something outdoors.  It may never happen again, so relish in this glorious story!

Let’s get to it then, shall we?

If you know me, you know I’m a city gal.  I don’t do outdoors.  I don’t do camping.  I don’t do fishing.  I don’t do hunting.  I don’t do the sportsball.  I don’t do sunburn.  I most certainly don’t do sweating.  I am a museum going, shopping, theatre viewing, restaurant dining, wine and whiskey tasting, concrete jungle sight-seeing kind of person.  That being said… this past November, out of an act of desperation for some “off the grid” relaxation, I decided I was going to go to Asheville, North Carolina, because that’s as far “off the grid” as I was willing to go (don’t you laugh).  I text my friend and tell her what I had decided and that she was coming with me.  Luckily she was 100% in, and we booked the trip that day.

A couple of firsts happened on this trip: The first time I used Airbnb, the first time I took a 10+ hour road trip with a friend, the first time I went to North Carolina, the first time I went hiking.

I could honestly write ten different blog posts about this one trip – and I might just do that – but, for today I’m going to focus on the hiking part because it was such a big deal.  Being in nature was such a big deal.  It was a big deal for a few reasons.  One, because it’s just so out of the ordinary for me.  Two, because I was (and still am) at a point in my life where I constantly feel like I need to escape, to relax, to just be.  I’m always busy.  ALWAYS BUSY.  And, while being busy – for the most part – eases my anxious mind, it is so exhausting.  I needed to get away.  I needed to clear my mind.  I needed to be with a friend who brings reason and sanity into my life.  I needed to breathe.  I needed to be.  To exist in the present moment and nowhere else… in one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my entire life.

I knew I couldn’t do that in a big city.  I knew I needed to be in nature.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” -Albert Einstein

“Nature is the art of God.” -Dante Alghieri

“If a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” -George Washington Carver

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” -William Shakespeare

“God is the friend of silence.  Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence.  See the star, moon, and sun, how they move in silence.” -Saint Teresa of Calcutta

At the recommendation of a friend, we decided that we were going to drive about an hour south of Asheville to DuPont State Forest for our hike (yep, this is where The Hunger Games was filmed!).  Aside from being a bit nervous to drive through the mountains – ok “a bit nervous is a gross understatement… the last time I drove in the mountains I had a massive panic attack and cried – I was also nervous about the forest fires that were surrounding the area at the time, I was nervous about encountering wildlife big enough to eat me and/or just freak me out, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t physically be able to handle hiking for several hours.  Some of those anxieties were merited, most were not, and all were immediately thwarted when we arrived to DuPont.

IT.  IS.  GORGEOUS.

Like…. it’s absurdly gorgeous.  We went to the visitor center, got help mapping out our hike, and off we went!  Up mountains, down mountains, waterfall after waterfall after waterfall, perfectly cool weather, egg salad sandwiches, wind in the trees, whistling birds, incredible views, and best of all… SILENCE.

It was unlike any silence I’ve ever known.  Sure, we talked along the way and we even passed quite a number of other hikers, but the silence was blessed.  It was an internal silence.  I was calm.  The hike was easy at times, rough at times, exhausting at times, exhilarating at times.  But, no matter how the actual hike was going or how difficult it got, I was calm.  I was so calm, it was calming how calm I was.  I want to find that calm again.

On days where I am restless and can’t seem to find peace, I recall that sense of calm.  I go back to that place inside of me, and try to just be.  To just exist in the moment.  On days where I feel exhausted yet still so unaccomplished, I transport myself back to DuPont and remember that if this 4’9” ferociously un-athletic city-loving girly girl can finish a hike in the mountains with a smile on her face, then she can do just about freaking anything!

I think it goes without saying that there are two things I’m going to recommend: 1) Go hiking!  Nature can change your life, and 2) If you’re going hiking, check out DuPont State Forest and unleash your inner Katniss!

If you’ve got questions about this destination pop it in the comments section below and I’ll gladly answer!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

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Let’s Talk About Me!

By May 30, 2017 Life, Theatre, Travel

Hi again!  It’s me, Heidi.

So here we are, Day 3 of my challenge, and the challenge is to… wait for it… WRITE.  That’s right.  For the next several days the only challenge I have is to fill this blog up with content.  Which, for someone who likes to write, you’d think that would be easy.  But, oh my friend, how wrong you are!  Actually, it’s not so much the writing that’s the difficult part.  It’s the part where I have to decide what to write about.  Topics.  And for this girl, that is sooooooo difficult because I want to write about everything!  But I have to choose one.  So for today, you’re going to get to know me through some pictures and some things that I love most.  Lucky you 😉

In one of the pictures above you see three things that I love.  My cat, Fiyero.  A book by one of my favorite women – you must read it!  And my bed.  That is my happy place, especially on a rainy day!  It is the place where I feel the most creative.  It is the place I feel the most productive.  And it is the place where I feel the most relaxed.

Creative, productive, relaxed.

One of my most favorite ways to be creative, productive, and relaxed is through writing for BroadwayWorld.com, which I briefly mentioned in this article here.  I am a contributing editor for Broadway World in New Orleans, which means that I get to go see all of the theatre I want for (mostly) FREE and in return I write some killer reviews and I even get to interview some of the talent.  This upcoming 2017-2018 theatre season will be my 6th season with the site, and it has been a joy and an honor to get to write about the performing arts – something that I was introduced to as a child, continued on with through high school, and has been a life changer.  I’m such a theatre nerd, and that is why I have chosen to make it a huge part of this blog.  From my local theatre adventures to visiting Broadway to interviews with the coolest people to playbill collecting to Broadway Con to my forays with auditioning – I’m gonna talk about it all!

Another way that I feel creative, productive, and relaxed is through travel.  I L-O-V-E to travel!  My parents are of an adventurous nature, and were never afraid to take me and my siblings on trips even as young kids.  We were taught travel etiquette, how to navigate an airport on our own, how to get back to the hotel if we got separated, and how to “not look like tourists” (except for that one time mom made us wear fanny packs in NYC… *rolls eyes*).  There are two travel lessons I have kept with me that I think are invaluable.  Dad always said to “never pack more than you can carry yourself,” and mom always said to “count how many doors there are between your room and the nearest staircase in case of a fire – if it’s smoky and you can’t see, you can feel/count your way to an exit.”  Naturally, travel will also be a huge part of this blog.

And then, there’s life!  All of the random happenings, thoughts, gadgets, tips and tools, books, movies, friends, family that there are to write about!  I love life, I love finding the beauty in every aspect of life (although, if I’m honest, sometimes it’s really difficult), and I love writing about it!

So… cheers to you, my friends for sticking around for article #2.  Please come back for article #3!  I have so much more to say!

Until next time,

Wandering Thespian

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