Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Far Have We Come?

A year ago, around this time, I made a blog post about 23 things to do while I am 23 which can be seen here

This list meant a lot to me at the time and it still does and I wanted to reflect on it tonight...some highlights of this list include...

    • Continuing to live a wholehearted and authentic life- This I have done and continued to do. This is my number one value in life and so important to me.
    • Continuing to strive for a life filled with healthy living, including losing weight and reaching fitness goals-Currently I am at my lowest weight in over 2 years and continue to become healthier in a healthy manner, go me and thank you to the wonderful ladies at Weight Watchers South Tampa.
    • Running longer distances and being able to register for a marathon by my next birthday- Check! Chicago Marathon here I come alongside my good friend and cohort member Emily!
    • Running my dad's first half marathon by his side -Despite how it ended for me....we had a lot of fun at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in November.

    But other parts on the list mean more to me and there are things that I am still working towards even though I am about to be 24...
    • Having new professional experiences! (ex. Boston, UCLA, etc.)- Holy cow did these have such an impact on me this year. If it wasn't for Boston, I wouldn't have met the wonderful people at Brandeis. If it wasn't for UCLA I would not have been so fortunate to gain the great friendships I have with Branden and Vanessa. If it wasn't for my experience on AFA Grad Staff I never would have been so lucky to create such a great group of friends and colleagues who are currently going through what I am. Not only did these experiences bring me great professional development, but great friendship, and that is something that is so important to me and something I value so much.
    • Appreciating people in my life more & Living it up and being grateful for everyday of my life This one has never been more important to me than at this moment. The past 4 months have, for lack of a better term been a rollercoaster. A perpetual up and down. Some days are fantastic, other days the complete opposite. When faced with a huge transition, especially one where there is so much uncertainty, and external things in life happen, that is hard. Especially for me. It is during these past 4 months that there are some people I have appreciated more than ever before. The people that will answer a text late at night, my parents who have picked up every one of my phone calls, the best friend from far away who will call just to say hi, the funny Snapchat from a friend to make me laugh, the CSA member who will listen to you, or the sorority sister who goes out of their way to meet up with you--you do not know how much you all mean to me. I have never been more thankful and appreciative in my entire life. You know who you are and I hope that I can continue to express my gratitude and repay you in some way someday. With that being said...I have been so grateful for my life and what I have made of it so far. While some days are bad, I am grateful for what I have, my health, the roof above my head and being able to put it all into perspective. Now more than ever is the time for me to embrace life and live it to the fullest...I think 24 will have more of that, starting with a trip to Europe in 11 days and then a big move to...?? :)
    • Lastly, something that I am still working towards is: Loving myself- I vowed that I would do this more at 23. Don't get me wrong, I totally did, but more than ever I need to do this more. Never has my patience, confidence and internal self been more challenged and tried than this past year. I have worn my heart on my sleeve, been vulnerable, been honest all in an attempt to feel and be my wholehearted true self. This works. Brene is right. However, truly loving and embracing yourself is a process. It's not overnight where I can suddenly feel completely validated and valued and appreciated all at once. It is a process and I know that within this next transition, living completely on my own, I will learn so much more about myself than I ever have before. I am so excited to visit this blog in a year and just see the progress I have made!

    So how far have we come? 

    I'd say some way. While this was a crazy, trying, interesting year, some amazing people came into my life this year. I had some transformative experiences. It can only get even better. 

    Cheers to 24!

    Credits to Captured in His Image Photography 

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Power Playlist

    Good morning friends!

    I don't know about you, but nothing get's me hyped up and excited like a good playlist. This week for many student affairs graduate students is a big job placement exchange called "The Placement Exchange". While I while be attending the conference part following the exchange, many of my friends will be interviewing for jobs here and just throughout the next few months. One of my rituals to get me excited about these types of experiences is to listen to some good tunes, which I've deemed on Spotify as "Gabbie's Power Songs".

    Now, a power playlist can mean something different to every individual, but what it must have is something that gets you motivated, makes you feel like you can take on the world and just overall feel good about yourself! While my playlist may not completely do that for you, you can't tell me some of the songs do not resonate with you.

    Today I wanted to share these songs with you all, as we can all use a little motivation, pep and excitement. Go get 'em friends and let me know what you think!

    My personal favorites..."Brave", "Such Great Heights", "So Much Better" and right now..."Let it Go".


    Thursday, February 27, 2014

    The Weekend I Earned My Glass Slipper

    This past weekend I had one of the most transformative and amazing experiences of my life. Last year I ran my first half marathon ever at the Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World, recap found here.

    This year, I ran the same race in addition to the Enchanted 10k the day before the half to round out the Glass Slipper Challenge! This was over 19 miles in two days!

    While this seemed like such a hard task, the fact that I was doing it for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital made the miles seem easier. What these children and families experience while at the hospital is harder than any race I will ever run, both physically and emotionally.

    Because of the collective efforts and support from my family, friends, colleagues, teachers, sorority sisters, high school classmates, the Greek community, strangers, my parents friends, businesses and more, I was able to raise a total of....


    This has been something beyond my dreams. I was able to surpass my goal of 2,000 dollars and what an incredible feeling that is. I never thought I was capable of fundraising this much money, but knowing that I was able to do it and do it for one of my favorite causes and knowing that the money will go directly to St. Jude is more than any medal or certificate I can ask for.
    Every girl loves a little bling!
    Because of the support received, we can continue to ensure families never pay a dime to enter St. Jude. 

    This donation can cover:

    • Airfare for TWO families to get to the hospital
    • Meals for the families
    • Infant Care Supplies for babies and more!

    While I reached my physical goals (something I never thought I could do), I realized that this race was not about me getting a personal record or receiving my best times, but about doing this for St. Jude. By remembering that, I was able to have a magical race and enjoy every single mile. 
    These guys gave me a Glass Slipper!
    I showed enthusiasm as I ran, high fiving other runners who needed encouragement, cheering for other's on the other side of the road, making friends on my route and even stopping for photo opportunities. I connected with so many amazing and strong people this weekend through St. Jude Heroes and by just being a race participant. By doing all of this, I was able to have the BEST race weekend of all time. Not to mention some of my closest friends were by my side!

    What Princesses we are!
    The last mile of the half marathon and the weekend the following three songs came on in sequential, totally random (I promise!) order:
    • "Brave"-Sara Bareilles
    • "I Can Go the Distance"-Hercules Soundtrack
    • "Roar"-Katy Perry
    Needless to say that was the most empowering mile of my race and so appropriate. It summed up my training, my fundraising and my own personal strength. That whole last mile I teared up and could not stop smiling! I could not stop thinking about the amazing dinner we had the night before with St. Jude family members, the amount of support I had and all of the positive things in my life. 

    This was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. While Cinderella gets her Glass Slipper from Prince Charming, I feel that mine came from the support of you all. Without that support I would not be here today! THANK YOU!

    Team St. Jude Heroes! 

    Saturday, February 15, 2014


    So as many of you know the last few months have been extremely stressful, trying and long. This past weekend I was supposed to be at my undergraduate institution as a trip to see my friends, reunite and more. However, due to crazy weather, maintenance issues and every other issue -- I was not able to get out on my original flight, or any flight for that matter.

    Needless to say I was devastated and extremely upset -- and still am somewhat.

    However, as with any thing in my life, I started to reflect. I put this situation into perspective.

    If this is the "worst" thing that's happened to me in the past few months, then I do not have it too bad. If spilling coffee on myself on a Tuesday morning, my alarm not going off on a Friday, having a bad run during the week, etc. etc. makes my week "bad", then I need to change my lens. Many I think can relate to my sentiments.

    While I do not think we should dismiss these frustrating feelings, I do believe it is important to really put everything into perspective in order to achieve full and total happiness. Me being able to even have the means to book a plane ticket to go somewhere is a privilege that I have and something that some people will never be able to do. Being able to get up and use my physical self to get exercise is another privilege that some people are not able to have.  Being able to have an iPhone that has an alarm clock is something I should be thankful for.

    When I called my mother from the airport on the verge of tears from frustration yesterday, she said to me "No one is sick, no one has died, everything is okay." And that resonated with me. With a theatrical background and being a product of the millennial generation (as much to my advantage or disadvantage that is), it is easy to make things seem terrible, when they really are not.

    So where do I go from here?

    It is time to put thing into perspective. This afternoon I started watching a documentary on Netflix called "Happy". It opened up with a man in a part of India where there was much poverty. He operates a rickshaw everyday of his life to support his family and does it with no shoes on and little protection from the sun, monsoons, and other weather conditions. The documentary said this man has the same level of happiness as your average American. Wow. It was as if I had started watching something at the most appropriate time.

    Now I hope to take a step back, breathe more, observe more and reflect more. While it is still okay to have feelings and to be upset, I need to look at the strategy of using perspective and seeing the bigger picture. It is easy to get caught up in moments and times with high emotion. I need to challenge myself and even challenge others when I observe these moments.

    Hold me accountable friends, it is important to me as I strive to live a more empathetic, caring, gratitude filled life this next year.

    Monday, December 30, 2013

    A very "non" list for 2014

    As the New Year approaches lists and blogs and Buzzfeeds surface with titles like,

    "23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23"

    "Things to Let Go of in 2014"

    "How to be a Good Person in 2014"

    etcetera, etcetera, you get the drift.

    While I find these lists and blogs, extremely thought provoking, as reading through one I started thinking to myself how my generation is so caught up on these lists.

    These lists are very constraining, these authors do not know me as a person, and it just made me realize it is so important to understand ourselves.

    Some lists tell you to be healthy in 2014, awesome, I'm an advocate for this, however if I decide I want to eat a whole pizza to myself every night for a month straight, that's my decision (tempting, although I would never do that.)

    Other lists say go out and date multiple people and see how that plays out. What if someone does not want to date at all? Or the posts that essentially judge people for being married young, that's their choice, let them be.

    Here is my advice for 2014...

    Be you. 
    Know your voice.
    Do what you want.

    These are all merely just thoughts that came to my mind recently, but throughout life and something I personally have realized lately is the importance of knowing your own voice. It is so easy to lose ourselves to society and how we have to be or someone telling you things have to be done a certain way. If you lose yourself in that process, the authenticity is gone. So be you.

    Ironically enough, I saw this on the billboard outside my middle school today when I went for a run, (left there 2004, what?!)....

    "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

    So with that, happy New Year! I hope to see you all in 2014 and continue to share my thoughts in this space during that time!


    Monday, December 9, 2013


    Today on Facebook I had the opportunity to click on my "Year in Review" and some of the things that popped up included:

    • Getting a new Keurig (monumental moment people)
    • Meeting Lauren Conrad
    • A Wawa opening up in Tampa (it's a Jersey thing...)
    • Registering for my last semester of graduate school
    • Some status about coffee (shocker)
    Beyond these less significant things, other things popped up such as:

    • Being an on-site coordinator for the AFLV LeaderShape session at UCLA
    • Starting my last "first day" of school
    • Interning at Brandeis University
    • Running two half marathons
    • Receiving a scholarship
    The last thing on my "Year in Review" was one of the best experiences I've had all year and that was serving as a member of the 2013 Graduate Staff for the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Annual Meeting. 

    Essentially through this experience I realized a lot about myself, how I continue to work in a team and more about my future profession. It was an incredible experience.

    However, what I have learned this year and through a lot of these other experiences is what makes me happy. 

    • What makes me happy is people, being in the company of really good people and having meaningful relationships with people. These are people who are passionate about what they do, find ways to connect with one another, are generally positive and people I can laugh with. I found this with my grad staff team, my LeaderShape experience, my time in Boston, my cohort, my roommates and more! 
    • Being happy means taking care of myself. I found this through managing training for a half marathon and taking time outside of school and work to connect with friends and to do things on my own too!
    • Happiness is a cup of coffee in the morning, with a student, with a campus colleague or a new friend
    • Happiness is giving back to a cause and the community. I've been lucky enough to do this this year more, especially for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. 
    • Happiness is family.
    • Happiness is loving yourself and being your true self through that process.

    While this may be repetitive of my thankful post on Thanksgiving, I truly cannot show enough gratitude to all the people in my life who have, made this one of the happiest years and best years. 

    Dave Matthews Band said it best with his song "Best of What's Around":


    Monday, November 25, 2013


    A lot has changed since last Thanksgiving. It was last Thanksgiving that I ran my second 5k ever...

    Clearwater Turkey Trot 5k

    and celebrated the holiday at Walt Disney World, while ending the day eating chicken nuggets a McDonald's with my best friend Britta. Can't complain!

    And a lot has happened since then. But I have so much to be thankful for this year. This past year I have been fortunate to form new friendships, strengthen old ones, spend an awesome summer interning in Boston, travel to Cali for LeaderShape, have more professional development opportunities, do well in school and more. 

    But most importantly this past year, I was healthy, happier and more positive. While there are times where it is easy for me to complain and be frustrated, it is so important to remember that there is so much in life that I am so grateful to have. There are so many freedoms I am granted with that I am forever thankful for.

    A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a service learning trip with the class I am a TA for to a local Tampa Bay non profit, Metropolitan Ministries. Metropolitan Ministries serves the poor and homeless in the area. There I had an extremely eye opening and humbling experience. It further made me realize the importance of using what we have to give back to those who do not have as much.

    This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to do more than a Facebook status. Give back to the homeless, serve a local food bank, donate to a cause, use what you have and give back to those who do not. If you can wake up at 5am to stand in line outside of a Best Buy, why not wake up at 5am to help the community?

    Have a blessed, healthy and Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for each and every one of you. Spend time with your families, eat turkey and enjoy the company you have. We are so lucky!

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