25 Life Lessons for My 25th Birthday

Well, I’ve officially hit the quarter-century mark of my lifetime. That’s right, I’m now 25 years old. Happy Birthday to me!

For the last few years, I’ve written some kind of reflective post around my birthday. I like to look back and see how much I’ve changed, what I’ve learned and how I’m going to remember that going into my next year. I say every year is important, but this last year was especially impactful in my growth, both professionally and personally. From figuring out life on my own in my new city to navigating through the first year at my first “big girl” job (even though I hate the term “big girl job”), and everything in between, this past year was absolutely full of new opportunities, life lessons and eye-opening experiences.

If you’re curious, you can check out my posts from my 23rd birthday and 24th birthday.

25 life lessons for my 25th birthday

The end of 2015 was not easy; a lot of things changed and for a while I wasn’t sure how to deal with those changes. The weeks, months and year that followed showed me how strong I truly am and that being my own person is a heck of a lot of fun. Life works in funny ways sometimes.

Here are 25 life lessons I’ve learned in the last year.

Well, some of these I knew before this last year. But they were definitely reinforced this year.

  1. Take care of yourself first. Listen to your mind and body.
  2. Your first job out of school is hard. There’s always a learning curve. Be patient with yourself.
  3. Soccer fans are actually kind of cool. Actually, really cool. Actually, they’re the best people you’ll ever meet. And tailgating isn’t just for football.
  4. It’s not easy to put yourself out there. Taking the first step out of your comfort zone takes guts. It gets easier every time.
  5. Online dating is the worst. The absolute worst. It’s fun for a few days and then it’s the same old stuff over and over again.
  6. Related: I am not cut out for online dating.
  7. Also related: there is an art to meeting men at bars. I have not figured that “art” out yet.
  8. Never be afraid to ask for help, for anything, for any reason.
  9. Don’t let negativity get you down. If there’s negativity in your life, get some scissors and cut that sh%t out (sorry, Mom). You don’t need that.
  10. Saving money is also hard. One of my goals for this next year is to improve my budgeting habits and save a certain amount of money each month. If you have any tips, tricks or good resources, please send them my way!
  11. Brunch is the best part of the day. Or week.
  12. Being single is fun. It is also not fun. Life is full of paradoxes.
  13. Life does not end when long-term relationships end. It just means that life opened up for something better to come along.
  14. Be good at being diplomatic. That’s a skill that will come in very handy, very often.
  15. Positivity is contagious. So is negativity. People will always appreciate positivity. Don’t let the negativity take over. See #9.
  16. Be with someone who knows what he/she has when he/she has you. Be with someone who makes effort to spend time with you. Be with someone who makes you as much of a priority as you make him/her.
  17. Some people just are not good communicators. And nothing will ever change that. Nothing. 
  18. Quarter-life crises are very real and you will have one.
  19. Whenever you have a chance to try something completely new, take it. You never know how much you might love it (or hate it). It’s one of the best learning experiences life has to offer.
  20. Related: music festivals are a blast.
  21. Surround yourself with people who love you, appreciate you, and value your companionship.
  22. But don’t forget to take time for yourself, to be by yourself. Everyone needs that space at some point. It’s good time to reflect and recharge and just breathe.
  23. Yoga is magical. It’s made a huge difference in my anxiety management and encourages deep breathing. Find your best methods of de-stressing and do your best to make time for that each week.
  24. Good things come to those who wait. Good things also come to those who work their a**es off and make stuff happen.
  25. Be proud of who you are and who you’ve become. Life in your 20s wasn’t meant to be easy. Everything happens for a reason. God has a plan. Let it happen how it may.

Cheers to my 25th year and to the hundreds more new experiences and life lessons that lie ahead. I’m coming at this next year with wide open arms and a determination to become an even better version of myself.

What are some of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned? 

FEED Co. Hosts Benefit Dinner for Epilepsy Foundation

Last week, the FEED Co. Table & Tavern–a farm-to-table style tavern and family dining restaurant in Chattanooga’s Southside–hosted a chef’s wine-pairing dinner to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee. Diners enjoyed four courses of delicious, farm-fresh comfort food prepared by executive chef Charlie Loomis and his team.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee is a nonprofit agency that provides education, outreach, advocacy, referrals, case management and other services to people with epilepsy and other seizure disorders, their families, friends and communities.  Epilepsy is a seizure disorder in which patients experience more than one unprovoked seizure at a time. It’s more common than Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy combined. No medical condition is easy to cope with, and support from others is crucial to helping patients and their families.

With this dinner, the FEED Co. participated in the fight to raise money and awareness for epilepsy and seizure disorders — all proceeds from the dinner went straight to the Epilepsy Foundation and its programs to support local patients and their families.

The dinner started with a warm artichoke and Brussels sprouts dip and baked pita wedges, paired with a light Chardonnay. I’m a huge fan of spinach artichoke dip, but I’d never heard of making it with Brussels sprouts, too. This dip was creamy, cheesy and a perfect way to start the meal. I also could have made an entire appetizer off those pita wedges.

artichoke brussels sprouts dip feed co

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21 Signs the Holidays are Coming

It’s that time of year again… the holidays are coming! Cue Game of Thrones joke here.

It doesn’t take long for the holiday spirit to strike. And once it strikes, it’s contagious. I might have already started playing some Christmas music around my apartment, even though there’s still another week until Thanksgiving. Last week I bought a little 4-foot, light-up tree from Michael’s for a nice touch of holiday cheer; here’s to hoping Maggie Kitty doesn’t tear it up!

21 signs the holidays are coming

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The Joy of Brunch

This post is brought to you by my dear friend Nicole, aka Madras and Pearls. Follow her on Twitter and check out her other writing on Medium!

With all of the madness currently happening, brunch  is one thing upon which we can all agree. One simply cannot deny delighting in artfully drizzled hollandaise, juice bars that have been wiped of last night’s debauchery, or the opportunity to regale the tales of others’ bad behavior behind mirrored sunnies in between sips.

This is the joy of brunch.

mimosas brunch

Libations

“Too much of anything is bad. But too much champagne is just right.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

MIMOSA

We couldn’t agree more. If you find yourself ordering this drink, you likely appreciate the classics. Looking for a twist or splash? Add pineapple or grapefruit juice instead, or splash a little cranberry on top of your orange. Don’t worry – those mimosas are often bottomless, so you’ll have your chance to experiment with lots of different variations (though we absolutely adore the original). Mimosas are best paired with sweater vests and pearls.

BLOODY MARY

We are guessing you had a bit of a long evening, and we can’t wait to hear all about it. You’ve earned this beverage, so go ahead and order the Brunch in a Glass. This way, you won’t have to stretch your dexterity and try to handle too much silverware – though we do expect you to exercise your memories of last night. Now, spill! (Just not on those new loafers that pair so well with a good Bloody.)   

BELLINI

Mimosas aren’t quite enough for you — you like to be in the know at all times, and you know that bellinis are a great choice to kick start your Sunday. Originating in Italy, and named for Italian renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini, you bring a little downtown cool to the table. Pair this with a new label that nobody has yet heard of – bottoms up!

AMERICANO

Yes, this is a bit out of the ordinary — but that’s a good thing. This was not only the first drink ever ordered by James Bond but also led to the Negroni, so ordering one is a safe bet. As a bonus, the combination of ingredients is said to reduce that painful hangover you’re likely nursing, somewhat unsuccessfully. You’re a man’s man, and are likely sporting a well-put together blazer and pocket square combo. Some may say it’s too much for brunch, but we know better, and fully support you. Now go ahead and order another, because you could likely use one.  

Provisions

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf

joy of brunch food

EGGS BENNY

If you started your day with a mimosa, you’re likely to order Eggs Benedict as well. Like our beverage, we have many options here: order the original or branch out a bit by substituting salmon or adding asparagus. Little touches that subtly enhance the classics are a yes in our book. Eggs Benedict complements almost any outfit – a hacking jacket and riding boots for girls in the fall is always a classic, while if guys venture to order this, we’d suggest a blazer with a casual shirt and jeans.   

FRENCH TOAST AND FRUIT

You’re likely the Instagrammer of your crowd. Your carbs show that you don’t take yourself too seriously, but your fruit hints at responsibility and adds just the right amount of color to that photo we see you not-too-subtly snapping. We’re guessing your outfit has enough arm candy to make an appearance in that photo, too. We’ve got your number — or at least your Instagram handle. Go ahead and ‘gram that Lilly shift dress you’re wearing too — we’re giving you the silent nod of approval behind these sunnies.

AVOCADO OMELETTE

The responsible one in the group, you’re likely an athlete and have quite the competitive nature. You may be pairing this with water, coffee, or “just one” of the above beverages, but we suspect you’ll be back for “just one more.” This healthful option is best paired with boat shoes and a simple collared shirt, along with a golden retriever by your feet; after all, you need to be able to quickly change into your workout attire for a game on the courts or run down the greenway.

We’ll see you there — after one more, of course.

The Pop Up Restaurant Challenge

Each year in October, Chattanooga celebrates its innovation, startup and entrepreneurship communities with Startup Week. The week is packed full of awesome seminars, panels, socials and many more events that bring together people from all corners of the business community and beyond. It’s a week filled with networking, learning and just having a great time with the community.

Earlier this spring, an online community called Chattanooga Eats launched, and it has already made a great impact in the food scene. Chattanooga Eats is a comprehensive guide to Chattanooga’s food scene. It was started by two guys who wanted to explore the local cuisine and make it more accessible to Nooga residents, travelers and tourists. CHA Eats also records podcasts that feature local chefs, restaurant owners and foodies who tell their stories for other Chattanoogans to hear. It’s a foodie (or in my case, food blogger’s) dream website, and the community around it is growing fast.

And of course, we couldn’t have Startup Week without a great food event.

This year for Startup Week, Chattanooga Eats hosted the first-ever Pop Up Restaurant Challenge.

pop up restaurant challenge

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Handcrafted Wishes 2016: A Night of Food, Beer & Charity

Chattanooga’s social scene is packed full of charity and benefit events (see Taste 2016 and Southern Brewers Festival). One of the best that I’ve been to so far was Handcrafted Wishes, which happened this past Friday, Oct. 7, at the Hunter Museum of American Art up in the Bluff View art district.

The second annual Handcrafted Wishes event was put on by Hand Family Companies, a leading beverage distribution company based up in Clarksville, Tennessee (with a sizable presence in Chattanooga) and represents some of the most recognizable brands. The event brought some of the best food in Chattanooga and some of the best craft beer from around the region to the roof of the Hunter Museum for party-goers to enjoy all night. More than 20 breweries and 15 restaurants participated and shared their eats and drinks.

view of river from hunter art museum chattanooga

river-2

What a view, right?

As I mentioned, Handcrafted Wishes is about more than just the food and beer. The Hand Family Companies are devoted to making positive impacts in the communities they serve. All proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction benefitted the East Tennessee chapter of the famous Make A Wish Foundation, which does great work to help children with life-threatening illnesses make their truest wishes come true.

This year’s event was twice as big as last year’s inaugural Handcrafted Wishes, said Austin Sawyer of Hand Family Companies. This year brought twice as many people in attendance and even more food, drink and activities. Tickets sold out the morning of the event, and everyone who had one must have showed up, because the roof of the Hunter was jam packed with people ready for a good time. 600 people, to be exact.

handcrafted wishes 2016

The fun doesn’t end there; in addition to all the food and beer, there was live music from the Atlanta-based band Moontower, an interactive photo booth, a beer education table (presented by Chattanooga-based Heaven and Ale Brewery), retro arcade games from The Coin-Op Chattanooga and outdoor games from Southside Social. There was no way to not have a good time at this event.

hunter museum of art chattanooga

moontower band

souvenir

I’ll always say “yes” to souvenirs from events. Always.

Some of my favorite eats from the night included pretzel bits from Brewhaus, new chicken tacos from Flying Squirrel, gelato from Milk & Honey and ribs from Feed Co. Table & Tavern. I’m already a huge fan of Squirrel’s cuban tacos, so I knew the chicken tacos would be right up my alley.

chicken taco flying squirrel

For the brews, I was super excited to sample a couple sips from Creature Comforts Brewing Company, based in Athens, Ga. I have a few friends who rave about it, so I’m glad I finally had a chance to see what they were talking about. Their Athena berliner weisse was fantastic. I also highly recommend Bell’s specialty Oktoberfest brew.

bells-beer

But far and away, the best part of the night was enjoying the company of some of the best people in town and dancing the night away with live music. My Snapchat story was on fire that night. Just saying. Oh, and not to mention that the event raised more than $10,000 for the Make A Wish Foundation.

If you missed Handcrafted Wishes, have no worries — it will be back next year! Expect it to be even more awesome than it was this year with new features, food and brews. Stay tuned on the Hand Family Companies website and Facebook page for updates and news for next year!

In the meantime, there are plenty more awesome events coming up in Chattanooga this fall. Next up on my list: the Best Town (For)Ever celebration and the Chattajack paddle board race!

What’s next up on your calendar this fall?