Back to Basics: Coloring Books

Mandala Coloring PageA couple of weeks ago, I was in a bookstore and I happened upon a whole section of coloring books… for adults. At first, I was merely intrigued, but curiosity got the best of me and I bought one. This one to be exact.

It’s amazing. There is something so satisfying about staying in the lines and coloring something perfectly.  I absolutely love it. As an added bonus, mine has tear out pages so I always a few torn out and tucked away in my planner in case I have a spare 10 minutes. In case you don’t believe me, the BBC recently did a whole segment on the growth of coloring books for adults.

After coloring, I definitely feel calmer and ready to tackle the next problem and after moving back to the states after a year abroad, I can tell you I totally have been stressing out trying to coordinate apartments, movers, and German bureaucracy. Plus, I still keep waking at 4am. Ugh. Jet lag.

Maybe you feel like coloring book is too small, in which case, I would recommend this whole map you can color! How cool! Or one promising to relieve stress? Or a Kate Middleton inspired ones (I might have gotten this as the best birthday present!). Or just browse this whole Amazon section on them!

Travel Rules

Shea FamilyTravel Rules

Growing up with a teacher as a mother, you get used to rules reallll fast. We had rules for everything,  and while I was young, I certainly scoffed at them. Now that I am older, I really appreciate the rules that my parents put in place. In fact, I still use a lot of them today. My favorite rules are our travel rules. We traveled quite a bit when I was young, partially because of my father’s work, partially because we just really enjoyed it. Our rules are pretty simple but they definitely make trips more fun!

  1. No chain restaurants, especially ones we have at home No Chili’s, Cheesecake Factory, or TGIFs. Exception: Diet Coke from McDonalds for my mother. (She’s addicted)
  2. Try one new thing a day. Can be food, activity, or something else. But need to try at least one new food a trip. (This one has made me the most adventurous from ostrich to smorrebrod to pearl onions) Fun fact: Turns out I hate Pearl Onions.
  3. Do at least one educational activity per trip. This can be a museum, a historical place, or some other culturally significant thing.

So there are the Shea Family Travel rules! Does your family have any good travel tips/rules?

26 Goals for 26

26 Goals For 26

Yesterday was my 26th birthday. I am definitely starting to feel older, I fell asleep last Friday at 10pm and  it was glorious. I spent the past few months learning some new skills, and I want to continue that. 26 will be a big year for me, I will graduate from Grad School in the Spring and then look out world, here I come! (hopefully). I decided to try to write down my goals for this year because if you write them down, you are more likely to try to work to them.

Self

  1. Stop being so negative on myself. We all do it, and I feel like I just tend to talk myself into a downward spiral of negative thoughts. Just like last week. 
  2. Eat healthier. Always a good goal to have, I grew into some bad eating habits in Berlin (hello 2am döner). I care a lot about what I put on the outside of my body, I need to start caring more about what I put into my body.
  3. Do something outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I feel like I get stuck in a rut and I burrow into my own safety net. This year, I want to try things that scare me. Nothing too scary, just outside of my normal zone.
  4. Do more with my hair. I swear I wear the same three hairstyles: all down, half up in a clip or in a bun. I need to expand my repertoire .
  5. Be happy. I have a great life, and really, I might complain about things but really, I need to be better at being happy in the moment. Remember, you eat an elephant one bite at a time.
  6. Exercise more. In Berlin, I walked more but because of that, I stopped really exercising and that isn’t good. Hopefully, having a gym in my apartment complex will help, especially during those cold winter months.
  7. Express more gratitude. Like negativity, I sometimes feel like I don’t express enough gratitude. I am incredibly luckily to live in DC, go to my dream school for graduate school. And sure money may be tight sometimes but I have to remember that I am still better off than a lot of the world, which is sad.
  8. Be okay being alone. I am living alone this year, so first step is already there but I think I need to become more okay just being alone. Too often, I feel the pressure to go out and do something. Perhaps, I need to “say no” a bit more to these things.

Life

9. Volunteer. I used to volunteer in college and before grad school but I haven’t really the past two years and I miss it.

10. Explore outside DC. Sometimes, I feel so trapped in the district, and there are a lot of cool places within a few hours of DC. This year, I want to explore those areas. Recommendations welcome.

11. Go to a new country. Every  year, I try to get out of the good ole’ US of A at least once, because it’s important to explore the world around you. Hint hint graduate gift…

12. Get my finances in order. Spending this past year aboard, I realized I have money squirrelled away all over the place and its not a good system plus, I might have gone over budget on a few things. Hello credit checks and budgets.

13. Grow my etsy shop. It has grown a lot over the past two years on its own but I could be doing more to help it.

14. Make a 5 year, 10 year and 15 year plan. Even if it involves things like become a princess, it would be good to put it to paper and hang it up somewhere so I am reminded of what I am struggling working towards.

15. Use more accessories. Okay, here me out on this one. I am a pretty good dresser, or so I like to think, but I realized that I often lack that extra pop of a statement necklace or cool shoes. I stick to the tried and true classic pieces but seeing so many great pictures on pinterest, has made me want to explore more.

16. Up my skin care regime. I am pretty good at doing certain steps, hello moisturizing at night. But I think there is more I could be doing. Need to figure these steps out.

17. Take control of my clutter. Sometimes I am quite the messy person. Not dirty just messy. Living with a bunch of Germans this year and their need for organization has made me itching to try it out on my own.

18. Become a better cocktail maker. Too often, I stick with my tried and true recipes, but I think at 26, my skills need to be more than just a rum and coke (I do make a great one though!)

Learning

19. Do a better job of connecting with professors. I am so bad at this. I never go to office hours and this will stop this year. I am really good at my connections with my own peers but for some reason, professors tend to scare me. This year I will get better, I have to. Sigh, le job hunt.

20. Take a class for fun. Like underwater basket weaving or you know, a painting class. Whatever it is, I just want to try something new.

21. Learn Python. I have already started to learn this programming language, but I want to complete my codacademy course and maybe learn a new one.

22. Learn to photograph better. Like what is an FSO and the aperture settings.

23. Finish my thesis. Okay, this one a cheat, I have to do it, but I want to do it well and apply some of my new found design skills.

24. Do a better job of connecting with professors. I am so bad at this. I never go to office hours and this will stop this year. I am really good at my connections with my own peers but for some reason, professors tend to scare me. This year I will get better, I have to. Sigh, le job hunt.

25. Up my professional stuff. Resume. LinkedIn, website. Etc. Graduation comes around far too soon.

26. Try new recipes, much like #21, I am a good cook but I noticed I get stuck in a rut this my cooking. Black beans and rice, chicken marsala,, pesto anything and brussel sprouts. Surely there is more to life?

Add one more for luck: Get more active on social media. I have accounts (instagram, twitter, facebook, snapchat) but I could be doing more to understand how they work and how to use them effectively both for my own knowledge and to help me later.

Here’s to hoping this year is better than the next!

Wise Words: How was the play?

Other Than

Sometimes, you just have really bad days. Days were you just want to crawl into a hole and not come out. It’s days like these my mother reminds me “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play”.  Yes, it’s sad but its also a good reminder that all is not lost and then it could be worst. I had one of those days last week. I can’t believe I am admitting this online but I got really sick in public. On a bus. At 5:20PM. On a Tuesday. In a silk dress. After eating something red. I am sure you don’t need more of a description to imagine the horror that it was. Plus, after I ran out of the bus I had a 15 minute walk home through one of the biggest tourist sections in Berlin. I swear I ran into every tour group. I felt terrible, I looked worse, and then I had to try to avoid eye contact with everyone because the last thing I wanted was to answer peoples’ questioning glazes about what happened to my dress, face, and bag. But I survived it, and while it was awful, my mother reminded me of the phrase. Sometimes, it’s so true. My day could have been worse, the dress was able to be cleaned, my bag was also saved. Yeah, sure, I was super embarrassed for about 20 minutes, but I survived that and now can look back at laugh at it. Sometimes, you just have to be reminded that it could be worse.

Summer Learnin’

Summer Learnin'

This summer has been an interesting one for me. For the past 6 weeks, I haven’t had WiFi. It’s one of those things you don’t realize that you miss until it’s gone. I have a WiFI stick but with 5GB per month, you have to be tricky on how you use it.  Needless to say, I have been spending countless hours in Starbucks and other cafes hording the WiFi. I have had to get creative with how I consume the internet and how I spend my spare time. I have always been an avid reader (well since 4th grade) but I got bored of just plain reading after the few days. At the same point, I have realized I love learning and I miss it during my summer break. Not that I am not thankful for the time off from crazy grad school! Here is how I have been getting my summer learnin’ on:

Podcasts:

You can see my favorite ones here, but seriously, these are the best for commutes or running errands or in general just lazing about.

Coursera:

This summer, I decided I was interested in some subjects but wanted to start learning them now! Enter Coursera, they have tons of free courses (or you can pay for a certificate  to show completion). I am currently enrolled in three, one has a schedule but the other two are go-at-your-own-pace, which is a nice break. There are tons of courses out there!

Lynda:

So I get access to Lynda for free from my university , check and see if you do too! This is almost similar to Coursera but it has just tons of helpful videos on subjects from how to take a better photo (something I struggle with) to excel tips (no fun, but needed!)

Ted Talks:

This is my favorite TED talk of all time. I make all my friends/family/random strangers I meet at parties watch it. I always feel so inspired to go do something better for the world after watching it. Did you know you can download TED talks? Just use your normal podcast player (ie the podcast app for iphones/ipads). I play them while I get dressed in the morning, they definitely pump up my morning.

Codacademy:

I lied, Codacamedy requires the internet while in use, but its super interesting. I have decided in additional to the 1000x other things on my plate to learn Python because a programmer friend of mine recommended it to start. I am almost 25% through (they have a status bar – love it! easy goal tracking)!

Page 6: Berlin Instagram Updates

I made all these comments about how great my photo editing skills are but the photo I choose wasn’t the best. Sigh. I love going on Instagram and seeing beautiful photos with witty captions. I spend far too much time editing my photos. Can’t lie about that. I use Snapseed and then Whitegram to keep the photos in their original size. Berlin has been a treasure trove for beautiful scenes. Here are some of my favorites from the past year (it’s weird that it is almost over):

Summer Podcasts

A few weeks ago, I posted my favorite books of the summer. Today, I am sharing my favorite summer podcasts. Podcasts are great because you can listen to them while running errands, waiting for the bus, or when getting ready for bed. Personally, I tend to listen to them on my commute to work.


Serial – If you are new to podcasts, I recommend you start here. This is a gripping story about a cold case murder of a 17 year old girl. Right from the beginning, you will be hooked! My mother listened to the entire first season in less than three days. She couldn’t stop listening.

Stuff You Should Know – Ever wonder where Tupperware came from or how landfills work? Well worry no more, Josh and Chuck are here to explain to you how things work. Be the hit at your next party with fun facts like the  name Tupperware comes from the inventor Earl Tupper. But seriously, they are highly entertaining and I love learning!

What’s The Point – This is new podcast from fivethirtyeight and its fascinating. Each week, the hosts talk with a different professional to see how data influences their field. Okay, that sounds really boring but I swear it’s not! Start with this one.