Local Adventures: A Night at the Drive-In

drive inNestled between Georgia mountains and resting under the big starry sky is a beautiful place: The Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater.

Marshall and I went there at the beginning of this summer, and it was perfect. For $7 a piece we could park under the stars and cozy in for two feature films still in theaters.

Not only was it romantic, but talk about a cheap date! We left after the first film (The Amazing Spider Man 2) because of the long drive back to Tennessee, but we both felt like we got more than our money’s worth.

Whether or not you’re with a significant other, going to a drive-in movie is an awesome experience. There’s nothing like laying in a truck bed or on the hood of your car, being surrounded by beautiful scenery and feeling like you’ve stepped back into the 1950s. It’s perfect for summer.

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Wherever you are, I highly recommend that you find the closest drive-in theater and make the trip.

Outdoor theater’s are typically only open during warmer months, so grab some friends and take advantage of thisf local adventure this summer! I promise it’ll be an evening for the photo albums.

Have you ever been to a drive-in? Tell me about it in the comments!
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What Does it Mean to Feel Alive?

Warning: I’m a wee bit more spiritual with this piece that usual. Whatever your background, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post with an open mind.

Last month on a plane taking me from Texas to Tennessee, I read an article in Marie Claire about actress Shailene Woodley, and at the end of the article she told journalist Gaby Wood:

“I feel very alive right now. More alive than I’ve ever felt.”

And I wonder, what does it mean to feel alive? And how do we feel more alive in some seasons of life than others?

Were we dead before? Or not living fully?

For Shailene, feeling alive came after she took a break from working. Do we feel more alive when we are striving less?

From a Christian perspective, this is my conclusion:

I think it has to do with joy.

When we feel joy.
When we have joy.
When we know joy.
That’s when we feel alive.

For some context, you can read about my take on joy and why I’m so passionate about finding adventure in everyday life here.

Joy, when we let it, can be like a loyal friend that we travel through life with. The friendship isn’t based on circumstances, success or even “having it all together.” Joy, once we learn to value it, will always stick around.

And when we have joy, we come alive. We come alive not because our work, social or spiritual life is flourishing. We come alive because in whatever we do, we have joy.

Having joy looks different for different people, and in different situations. Sometimes it’s simple: you love where you are and who you are, so you are naturally joyful.

Other times it isn’t so easy. You are less than passionate about your current situation, so instead of it coming naturally, you have to find joy. You have to pursue it.

If this is you, I challenge you to do one thing: pursue joy. Choose to find it and keep it.

For a Christian, pursuing joy means pursuing the Lord, the giver of our hope and joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

There was a time in my life that happiness wasn’t present. I was lost and didn’t know who I was, but because the Lord was still with me, holding onto me even in my desperation, there was joy.

Happiness is fleeting and dependent on circumstances. Joy is an eternal journey.

Keeping joy, once you’ve found it, is easier than you’d think. It’s like maintaining a relationship with your closest friend: it’s natural and almost second nature. You must simply choose it.

Wherever you are, find joy. You may love your current city, job, friend group and self right now, or you may not. Pursue joy anyway, and you will feel alive.

You will be thankful, passionate and loving with joy by your side.

With joy, you can rest. You can strive less and let go of perfectionism. And I think that’s what Shailene Woodley found. Her spiritual life is different from mine, and I don’t know if she pursued the Lord to find her rest, but it was still rest that made her feel more alive than she’s ever felt.

For Christians, finding rest happens when we let the down our walls, let go of the need to perform and let the Lord love us fully. That’s where true joy lies. That’s where we are completely alive.
Photo credit: Fashion Scans Remastered. 
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Travel Adventures: Italy in Photos

Hi friends!

I can’t believe I’m already in my fourth week here in Europe, yet at the same time my first week back in Italy feels like months ago. I’ve struggled to find time to write on this trip, but it’s somewhat of a happy struggle because I’ve had such wonderful, full days soaking up every bit of Europe I can.

So for now I thought I’d go way back to my first week in Italy and share some of my favorite photos. Check out snaps from my time in Rome and Florence below and stay tuned for similar photo stories from Greece, Paris, England and Ireland!
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Photo Credit: Haylee Robinson and my trusty iPhone.
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You’re Never Too Old for an Adventure with Your Dad

Father’s Day just passed, but unfortunately I couldn’t be with my dad to celebrate because I’m in Europe (being in Europe is not unfortunate, but I still miss my dad).

Even though we weren’t together, throughout the day I thought about the adventures that my dad and I have been on, and I was once again thankful for the thrill-seeking, adventurous spirit that he passed on to me.

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Colorado, 2012

My dad loves discovering new things, going to new places and challenging himself. I like to think that most of my thirst for memory-making experiences comes from him.

Over the last few years we’ve travelled the country together from behind the steering wheel of my truck. We’ve explored Texas hill country together, road tripped to Colorado (where we almost died at the Black Canyon) and spent close to 100 hours on I-10 driving from Texas to Tennessee and back, talking about life and listening to Elvis Presley.

As I was thinking about my dad yesterday I realized that most of my solo adventures with him happened after I went to college.

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The family, missing two brothers, one sister-in-law, one dog and two cats.

Sure, we had tons of great times before then, but it wasn’t until I moved 900 miles away that I realized how much I appreciate these adventures with my dad. Each new experience lets me get to know him better and simply spend some much needed time with him.

You’re never too old for an adventure with your dad.

At least I never will be. The man rode my first roller coaster with me, taught me how to drive, instilled me with faith and sings “Sweet Caroline” to me every chance he gets. I will always seek out adventures with my dad, and I can bet that he’ll always be on board.

It may be the day after Father’s Day, but there’s no time like the present to go on an adventure with your good ole dad. How do you make memories with your dad? 
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Why I’m Passionate About Finding Adventure in Everyday Life

I wrote this piece in May at my writer’s weekend with Stephanie May of The Lipstick Gospel. 

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This weekend I’m at the Living Room Writer’s Weekend in Atlanta, hosted by The Lipstick Gospel. Stephanie invited women bloggers in all stages of blogging life to join her for a weekend of authenticity, fellowship and blog talk (and lots of starburst).

I’ve learned plenty of tips and tricks for blogging success, but most of all I’ve learned that my story matters, and it deserves to be shared. This blog typically focuses on guides for living adventurously, but today I want to tell you why I’m so passionate about finding adventure in everyday life in the first place.

Here goes:

For me, finding adventure in everyday life is all about joy.

There was a time in my life when everything sucked. I was 16, and like plenty of other dramatic 16-year-olds, I had no clue who I was. I abandoned all of my friends for my absolute-gonna-have-a-double-wedding-and-live-in-a-nursing-home-together best friend, and for many reasons, that friendship didn’t last.

When our friendship “broke up,” I was devastated and had no clue where or who to turn to.

The year before I gave up on my lifelong dream of becoming a professional ballerina and left the pre-professional dance company that I had given my life too.

circa 2009. Obviously I wasn’t the only one in the family going through an identity crisis.

So at 16, friendless and lacking all passion, I had no clue who I was.

There was no happiness in my life. Just bitter and pitiful loneliness.That’s when Joy (yes, with a capital J) stepped in. The Lord took me by surprise that year and gave me a boundless sense of joy that, even when everything in my life was going to hell, let me see the bright side of every situation.

Simply put: I started delighting in the Lord despite the crap in my life, and he filled me with joy.

I found myself smiling without reason, loving myself more and even dreaming about the future, something I had given up on. By the time I turned 17 nothing could stop me.

Having no friends just gave me an opportunity to make new ones, and having no passions meant I could try anything I wanted.

{I quickly found out that basketball isn’t for me, but I did find a new passion when I picked up the guitar!}

Even though pains from the past were still there, I had an insatiable sense of joy.

Now I honestly believe that joy can be found in any situation. What I went through is definitely not the most heartbreaking or desperate situation anyone has ever walked through, but the Lord still promised me joy, and He hasn’t let me down.

There is always joy in the Lord, and where there is joy, there is adventure.

I really do believe that when you’re looking through the lens of joy, adventure can be found anywhere. That’s what The College Cosmopolitan is about.

The College Cosmopolitan is not about trying to make your life more exciting or your Instagram pictures more envy-eliciting. It’s about joy.

Do you relate to my story? How do you find joy?

Photo Credit: Haylee Robinson and Opal Massey
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Local Adventures: Hometown Summer Bucket List

DSC_0022So you’re staying in town this summer. Maybe you’re working, in summer school or want to spend time with your family. Whatever your reason, this summer can still be a great adventure.

Remember, adventure is everywhere. Sometimes you just have to find it.

Here’s a hometown summer bucket list to get you started:

  1. Go to a drive-in movie
  2. Paddle board, kayak or canoe on your closet body of water
  3. Jump your heart out at a trampoline park
  4. Have a picnic at your favorite hometown park (and if there’s a swing set, you better be on it)
  5. Go on a sunrise hike
  6. Host a cook-out
  7. Initiate a family night
  8. Be a tourist – find something new in your hometown that you never knew existed
  9. Be a thrill seeker – spend a day at your closest amusement/water park
  10. Shop locally – farmers markets and locally owned boutiques and restaurants are a great source of hometown pride
  11. See a local band play/go to a house concert
  12. Have a bonfire (with s’mores!)
  13. Plan a reunion with high school friends
  14. Road trip to your college friend’s hometown
  15. Bike or walk through your hometown one day instead of driving
  16. Discover a new local nonprofit and volunteer
  17. Take an outdoor yoga class
  18. Sidewalk chalk. You’re not too old.
  19. Visit your grandparents
  20. Write down your adventures, and send them to me!

Use this list and find an unexpected adventure in your own hometown. What’s unique to your town? Take advantage of it this summer. And then tell me all about it! {seriously, I really want to know}
Photo by Haylee Robinson

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How to Stay Connected to Home When You Move Far Away

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I wrote this piece when I was home in Texas last month.

I’m currently sitting on my parents’ large, brown leather sofa while a small fluffy dog sleeps next to me. I’m home.

I love this place.

I love spending quality time with my family and reconnecting with the sweet hometown that raised me.

I moved 900 miles away from this place for college three years ago, and while I will never regret that decision, I often find myself longing for home.

I miss the people from home who made my life so full. I miss the smell of Carolina Jasmines in my backyard. I miss the tree-canopied streets that I first learned to drive on. I miss everything about home.

But I also love my new home. I love the community I’ve found in college. I love my little house and the independence it gives me. I love finding my way in this world and making a place that is completely mine.

It’s a strange line to walk: loving where you came from and where you are. How do you stay connected to your roots and still dive headfirst into your new life?

Here are my tips:

Daily reminders

The best reminder I have of home is my thirteen-year-old truck that belonged to my grandpa before he passed away. It was the first car that was ever completely mine – it took me to school, football games, church and eventually, Tennessee.

My truck reminds me both of Texas and the wonderful grandfather that I lost too early. It’s my favorite earthly possession.

Daily reminders could look different for everyone. Maybe it’s the coffee mug you drink from everyday, or the home state drivers license that still sits in your wallet. Whatever it is, use those daily reminders to produce remembrance and thankfulness.

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Work for the relationships you want to keep

When you move far away, some relationships will naturally fade like the traveled road in your rear view mirror. But it’s okay.

Some relationships are meant for certain seasons, and if they aren’t fitting into your new life, don’t try to make them. I’m not telling you to drop all of your childhood friends; however, forcing old relationships to fit into a new mold leaves them strained and disconnected.

There are also some relationships that transcend distance. No matter how far away you are from each other, you will always share a close bond. Instead of spreading yourself too thin trying to maintain every single relationship, identify the ones that transcend the distance, and work to maintain those.

Invest into those people at least weekly, and see them in person whenever you can.

You should also fearlessly pursue new relationships in college. By the end of your four years you will have a full community of lifelong connections.

Cherish every visit home

When you move far away from school, weekend visits home aren’t possible. Instead, we live for the weeklong school breaks and Christmas spent at home.

Cherish these visits.

Use them to rest and reconnect. Spend time with your family, see old friends and hit up your old favorite restaurants. Netflix bingeing and sleeping the day away has it’s place, but you also want to use this time to soak up as much home as you can before school starts again. When you head back, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to jump into college life.

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My sweet friend Deborah visited me in Tennessee. We’ve been friends since 4th grade!

Bring your two worlds together

Last week one of my best friends since fourth grade visited me at school, and it was almost a euphoric experience watching her meet my friends and see my new world for the first time.

I used to think that my two homes would always be separated, but in the past three years I’ve taken roommates and friends home to Texas with me, and had family visit in Tennessee.

When these opportunities present themselves, jump. There’s no experience like introducing the people from your childhood to the new world that you have made for yourself, or showing people from your new home the world that made you who you are.


Moving far from home for college isn’t always easy, but it’s also nothing to be scared of. When done with careful effort, it’s possible to stay connected to home and make a place for yourself in college at the same time.

How do you stay connected to home? Let me know in the comments. 
Photos by Haylee Robinson and my iPhone. 

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The Living Room Library Book Giveaway is Live! (WINNERS ANNOUNCED!)

This giveaway is now over! Winners are: Sarah Calderwood, Selena Bradfors, Savannah Beck and Laura Hadden. Congrats to our winners, and thank you to everyone who participated!

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Enter to win one of these books HERE!

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Want to Win a Free Book?

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Remember when I wrote about the writer’s weekend with Stephanie May of The Lipstick Gospel? Well, over that weekend Stephanie challenged all of the bloggers there to come up with ways to support each other in our newfound blogger community.

I think you’ll like our first idea: a book giveaway! As we sat around the cozy living room and talked we realized that we all have a passion for life-changing books, and we want to share our favorites with you.

Here’s how it works: The giveaway goes live this Monday {June 2nd}. Each lovely lady is contributing a book that impacted them deeply, so there will be multiple winners. You can enter as many times as you want by subscribing to our blogs. These ladies have some great blogs, so you definitely won’t regret following them. 

The giveaway will run for a full week, so the winners will be announced on Tuesday, June 10th.

I’ll see you back here on June 2nd – good luck!
Photo by Lottie Brooke.

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How to Prepare for Your Next Great Adventure

Have you participated in #MySummerAdventure yet? Check it out here!

By the time you read this I’ll be jet-lagged somewhere in Rome, aimlessly snapping pictures of everything I see.

next adventureRight this minute, I’m on the greatest adventure of my life thus far: backpacking Europe. This week I’m in Italy. Next week I’ll be in Greece. The weeks following will see me in France, England and Ireland.

Not only is this the greatest adventure of my life so far, but it’s also one of the craziest, and it took a lot of preparation. I’m not just talking about getting a passport, calling my credit card provider or neatly fitting clothes for five weeks into one suitcase.

An adventure like this takes preparation on deeper levels. Here’s what I did to prepare myself mentally, physically, financially and spiritually.

Mentally:

I thought about this trip a lot. That sounds dumb, but in the last few months, Europe has weighed heavily on my mind. When I think about the places I will see, people I will meet and crazy backpacking experiences I will have, I still can’t grasp it all.

I’ve finally decided that thinking about it all the time won’t actually prepare be for being there, and in many aspects, I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Now I am mentally open and ready to embrace that whatever happens on this trip, despite my own plans, just happens.

Physically:

I did the Whole30 as a way to “reset” my body and gain healthy habits. I’ll definitely think of these habits while I’m in Europe, but I also know that I’ll need to be flexible and experience the culture (nice to meet you, gelato).

I also started doing Pilates, Yoga and Zumba to prepare my body for the physical demands of backpacking.

My roommate and I started doing Zumba videos in our living room, and make fun of us all you want, but it’s a killer workout! In February I did 28 Days of Pilates with Robin Long from The Balanced Life. I’ve kept up with her videos since then too, and I love them. Pilates is definitely my new favorite way to work out, and I love Robin’s balanced perspective on fitness.

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Financially:

I’ll be honest with you on this one, I didn’t do much in the way of saving money. But that’s mostly because I’m not a huge spender as it is. I rarely buy more than food and gas, with a splurge every once in a while. I worked an on campus job this semester, but yet, with my unpaid internship 30 miles away, rent and groceries, expenses got a little high.

Thankfully my trip to Europe is covered; however, my trip to Guatemala in July is not. If you’d like to support that trip financially, you can do so here. No pressure though – that’s definitely not my reason for sharing this with you! If anything, I learned to live on the most realistic budget I can, and trust that the rest will be provided for in time.

Spiritually:

I’ve heard so many stories from friends about going to Europe and coming home with new revelations, insights and closer relationships with the Lord. I’m praying that I’ll have a similar experience, but I also don’t want my experience to look like anyone else’s, so I’m praying for openness.

I want to have an open heart, eyes and mind to all the things the Lord wants to reveal to me on this trip.

Throughout the semester I also tried to maintain an attitude of thankfulness. I’ll be brutally honest and tell you that my spiritual life was a little rocky this past spring. There were times when I felt the Lord was closer than a brother, and other times when he felt more like a distant relative. But despite that struggle, I still know that I have so much to be thankful for.

He is making some of my wildest dreams come true this summer, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this incredible gift. I can’t wait to see how our relationship develops throughout this European adventure.


So now, after months of anticipation, I’m just ready to go. Who knows how prepared I can really be, but I’m ready to begin.

See you soon, Europe!

Are you embarking on a great adventure soon? I challenge you to think of ways to prepare yourself in these four categories. While you’re at it, share your thoughts and methods with me in the comments!
Photo by Haylee Robinson
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