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Hey all! Before I begin, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jill Vianco. I teach third grade at Winding Springs with Lindsay! When Lindsay asked me to be a guest blogger I was thrilled! This girl is a great person and writes strong motivational posts that leave you inspired and ready to jump into life headfirst! If you do not follow her already, make sure you subscribe to her blog at the bottom of the page!

This past week was spring break for Lindsay and I. As Lindsay traveled out west, I took a mini road trip to a few of the souths infamous cities and quaint towns with a lifelong friend of mine, Kelly! I am here to share some of our favorite stops along the way!

In 5 days, Kelly and I traveled to 4 cities/towns in 3 different states. We traveled first to Charleston, SC, we then headed to Savannah, GA, and lastly we changed up our scenery from the coast to the mountains, and headed to Blowing Rock/Boone, NC.

The Battery – Charleston, South Carolina:

The Battery is a long wall that separates Charleston from the Atlantic Ocean. It sits above East Battery Street.  It allows for a lovely stroll with views of the Charleston Harbor on one side and the historic mansions from the mid 1800’s on the other. Kelly and I were lucky enough to be walking along The Battery while a couple of dolphins were playing around in the harbor; very cool to stop and watch on a beautiful sunny day!

White Point Garden Park – Charleston, South Carolina

White Point Garden Park is located along side East Battery Street. This park memorializes Fort Sumter and exhibits many canons used during the Civil War, as well as a monuments! However, I was more focused on the extraordinary Angel Oaks that sat throughout the park. These trees are among some of the most fascinating ones I have ever seen! The way their massively long limbs grow wildly in all directions is fascinating. Don’t forget your blanket, sandwiches, favorite beverage, and of course your camera to capture natures beauty here!  Absolutely “tree-mendous”! 😉

Tynes Ave – Charleston, South Carolina:

Throughout our trip, Kelly and I decided to stay at Airbnb’s. I would recommend this to anyone anytime you travel. You can find affordable rooms/homes to rent for all family sizes for just about any location in the world! What I love most about them are how authentic your stay is. Instead of staying in a hotel, you can “live as the Romans do” for however long you visit for.

While staying in this unusual home, we explored the neighborhood a bit. It was surrounded by more Angel Oaks that shaded the streets from the southern sun. Although our house was not on the water, other parts of the neighborhood were located along the Stono River. Kelly and I were able to watch the sun come down in between houses on our late evening walk before ending our first night in Charleston.

Savannah, Georgia:

Savannah was next on our mini road trip south! Kelly and I enjoyed eating and listening to live music in the center of the city market at the Cafe. We explored the historic part of the city and of course, the well known, River Street! On one side of the cobblestone street are historic buildings with shops and restaurants. Along the other side is the Savannah River. Kelly and I checked out some of the shops along the street, but only two stood out. River Street Sweets and Savannah’s Candy Kitchen were our favorite spots. For anyone that knows me, this should not be a shock, for I love my sweet treats!  If you love salt water taffy River Street Sweets is the place to be. It was the best taffy I have ever had! If you love pralines, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen has an amazing homemade recipe.

Tybee Island, Georgia:

Tybee Island and beach was relaxing after walking around the artsy city of Savannah. It was very crowded the day we went, but we were able to find a more secluded part to lay and catch some rays. After site seeing the past few days in two different cities, the beach was calling for us and was well deserved!

Canyons Historic Restaurant & Bar – Blowing Rock, North Carolina:

Our first stop when heading on our mountainous adventure was Blowing Rock! A cute, little town sitting in between the Blue Ridge! After stopping at our airbnb and hiking down a waterfall, Glen Burney, we were starving! We decided to stop at Canyons Historic Restaurant & Bar. Although we most likely would have eaten anything after that 2.5 mile hike, the food was delicious and you cannot beat the view! This restaurant was said to be southwestern style, the menu had anything from burgers to buffalo chicken fingers.  I ordered the Chicken Maui. This dish had a marinated chicken breast covered in melted pepper-jack cheese, Hawaiian BBQ sauce, a grilled pineapple ring, and bacon all served on a Kaiser bun. The fries were fresh cut and yummy! What I loved most was the stellar view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We sat outside on the upper deck and we were able to relax and eat our meal with the Blue Ridge Range over our shoulder!

Boone Fork Trail – Boone, North Carolina:

So, apparently Kelly and I have a little bit of trouble reading maps. I will say we were a tad disappointed at this point in the trip.  We had planned three hikes for our last day, but could only find 1 and half of them. Let me explain. The first trail we did was the Boone Fork Trail. I loved how the Carolina Rhododendrons acted as a canopy while hiking. We were able to eat lunch on a bolder overlooking   the trickling falls. This trail was 4.9 miles long, but we got lost and only did .5 miles of it ( we still don’t know where the other 4.4 miles of the trail is). 

Beacon Heights Trail – Boone, North Carolina:

Beacon Heights was the other trail we were able to find. This trail took less than ten minutes to get to the viewpoint. It was a breathtaking view of the mountain range, if I do say so myself. Kelly would say the hike was easy, I would say it was moderate because of the large rocks and tree roots protruding through the trail. Overall, we saw some great views and ate some tasty food. After this trail, it was time to get off the Blue Ridge Parkway before either Kelly or I lost our minds! HA!

Well, there you have it. 5 days, 4 cities, 3 states, and a couple of good friends on a road trip! Thanks so much for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe to Lindsay’s blog!

April 20, 2017 1 comment
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Happy GratiTuesday loves!

Oh my goodness, it has been a solid month since I have blogged and y’all, I am so terribly sorry!! Things have been beyond hectic lately – but I do have some big things in the works. I promise to update y’all soon on what has been keeping me so busy 🙂

This GratiTuesday, I want to talk about how thankful I am for self-meditation.

Meditation builds my self-confidence and helps in growing my self-love with much more ease than anything else. It keeps me anchored to what truly matters by bringing much-needed peace to my life. It is imperative for me to take a step back when things get crazy. For some unknown reason, it is so instinctual for me to get wrapped up whatever chaos is surrounding me at the moment, even if it might not involve me. Isn’t that so silly? I spend so much of my energy and precious time on the smallest things – and sometimes, things that should not even be a blip on my radar. 

When I am spending too much time in my head space, taking a few minutes to myself, recognizing my breaths and really paying attention to where my mind goes when it wanders so I am able to reign it back in – is truly all it takes to avoid a full-fledged meltdown. (Trust me y’all, they aren’t pretty!) The world spins without my help. People are going to do what they are going to do and my life will run its course one way or the other. Sometimes the plans I have do not work out. Sometimes things do not go my way. Sometimes no matter how dang bad I want something to be, it just won’t. But, with the help of meditation, I can decide not to get upset or anxious about things over which I have no control or power over. I can choose to live my life with compassion, integrity, love and empathy.

All it takes is a few minutes of separating myself from whatever it is that is making me spin. This allows me the ability to focus on my breathing and realize that whatever it is taking up so much of my time and energy, simply does not have to be. When you first start, it may not feel like you are gaining much when you meditation – but I promise if you keep at it, overwhelming feelings such as anger, insecurity, anxiety, and/or depression, will slip further and further away.

I challenge you today to find somewhere quiet to sit and take 2-3 minutes to focus on your breathing.

The goal of meditation is not to control your thoughts – it is to stop letting them control you.

April 4, 2017 1 comment
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It’s that time again y’all! Here on Rambles from Red, I celebrate Tuesdays by talking about what I am most thankful for that week. This forces me to take a good look at everything in my life and focus on something that might need a little bit more of my attention, love and gratitude.

This week I am thankful for all of my struggles – every single trial and hardship that I have been through in my life – big and small. I am a better and stronger person because of them. I am sure someday I will get deep with y’all about some of the battles I have fought, but today is just not that day.

To reflect after a time that was full of hurting and to be able to admit that you are glad that it happened can be an extremely hard thought to swallow. Reminding myself that each trial was a lesson that God carried me through and it was all to strengthen my heart, helps tremendously. It is important to remember, even through our storms, there is always an end to the pain and the suffering. It is also crucial to remember that we are not the only ones that are struggling. We all have our own baggage and our own “stuff”. No body comes baggage free. 

A few years ago someone very dear to me once explained the act of going through hard times to me in a way that I had never thought of before. Imagine that you are sitting around the table with all of your closest friends. Suddenly, you are all told to put all of your “stuff” out on the table. The baggage that you carry day in and day out. The constant struggles or hardships that you are going through. Exposing your deepest cuts, bringing old scars that still won’t heal to light, unmasking all of your battle wounds. I can vividly image this. I picture myself looking around, seeing all of the people I hold closest to my heart and then seeing all of their stuff. The stuff I never knew about, the stuff that never crossed my mind. Without even thinking, I would reach for my baggage, my problems and take them right back in an instant. I believe seeing everything that other people are hiding from the world, would be an extremely humbling experience. It truly would put your problems in perspective. The things that seemed earth-shattering, may not even be close to that when compared to something a loved one is going through that they choose not to share with anyone quite yet. The grass is always greener – right? 

It is remarkably easy to be sucked into a self-centered place when we are going through something tough. But, it is so important to remember that everyone has their stuff. It may seem like what you are dealing with at the moment, is much harder than the person next to you – but you are not in their moment. You are not walking through their life – just as they have not walked a mile in your shoes. Your stuff, is your stuff. It is important, it is valid and it is hard. Each struggle will make you stronger. Whether these challenges be momentary or lifelong – they are our own personal opportunities to grow and learn. 

March 7, 2017 1 comment
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When I am sick, I am the worst. I mean, the utter worst. Needy. Whiny. Dramatic. And more. I know all of this about myself; and when I am not ill, I like to think of myself as a pretty independent and self-sufficient woman. But for some reason, whenever the inevitable comes and sickness strikes, all of that goes flying right out of the window. Since I’ve never had the flu before, imagine me being all of those really fun things, but amp it up a good seven notches. The flu is terrible – I can’t really think of another word I would use to describe it. I always heard people talk about the aches and pain but never really understood. Boy, I do now! It hurt to breathe y’all. I seriously thought I was dying. (See? I’m not quite myself yet, so the dramatics are still seeping out a bit.)

I thought I would fill y’all in on a few of my go-to things to do when I am feeling rotten:

1. Stay in bed. Hopefully you’ve already called out of work, I didn’t think I had to put that on the list – no one, and I mean no one, likes the person that came to work sick. If you are coughing to no end or have a fever, it’s a good bet that you are probably contagious. It is best for all involved if you just bite the bullet and cash in a sick day. When you are ill, the most important thing to do is to listen to your body. It is exhausted and it needs to fight off whatever it is that you have caught. It is much easier for your body to repair itself while you sleep – so it is best to just stay put.

2. Read. It is no secret that I love to read a good book. It relaxes my mind and when I am feeling crappy, it seems to take my mind off of it. Most of the time whenever I am sick, a headache is right alongside with whatever it is that I have caught. While, I am all for laying in bed scrolling through Pinterest or binge watching a new show on Netflix, for the sake of trying to relax, screens tend to make these headaches much worse. Laying in bed, snuggled up with a book is a surefire way to make sure I am relaxed. Sometimes so relaxed, it puts me right to sleep, which is perfectly okay too (see step 1).

3. Drink all of the tea. And I mean, ALL of the tea. It truly makes no difference what’s got you down – flu, cough, cold or stomach bug. A big, warm cup of tea is guaranteed to make you feel even the slightest bit better. It is also no secret that I love a good cup of tea. Any kind really. Chamomile, orange, lavender, peppermint – they all make my insides happy. Herbal tea is soothing and helps relax your mind and body. It is also really, really good for you, so that is a major plus. It is important to make sure you are drinking the right kind of tea. We know I am all for caffeine, but caffeinated tea is likely to dehydrate your body – although it will help make you feel more awake and alert for the moment, the crash will be one SOB. A hot mug with chamomile tea and honey is my favorite when I am sick.

4. Take a bath. Baths are really helpful when you are sick with a fever and cannot seem get warm – no matter how many blankets you are wrapped in or how many big cups of herbal tea you have downed. I am aware that most people stopped taking baths when they were little but this girl really loves a good soak, (sick or not). When I am not feeling well, I like to put Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt – Soothe and Sleep soaking solution in each of my baths. My favorite is the soothe and sleep because it has a very lovely and calming lavender scent. I pair the salts with Dr. Teal’s bubble bath in the same wonderful scent, just incase you wanted to make your bath a double-whammy. Like Momma always said, the more bubbles, the better the bath. After your nice hot bath, you will be all warmed-up and ready to go right back and lay your sick little butt back in your comfy bed.

Be well this nasty flu season y’all and take it easy.

February 23, 2017 0 comment
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First, let me start off by saying that I am happy to be alive this Tuesday and apologize for going MIA last week! I had the flu y’all – you know, the one where it hurts to talk, move, swallow, breathe and even think?! It was terrible!!!  I have NEVER in my twenty-something years felt so awful. It started last Monday afternoon at school, from then until about Sunday morning I was glued to my bed and let me just say, it was not a pretty sight. 

This GratiTuesday, I am grateful for my health.

It is something that I take for granted every single day. It is a beautiful thing to have lungs that allow me to breathe fresh, clean air. It is marvelous to have eyes that allow me to see the breathtaking views of God’s greatest work. It is wonderful to have legs that allow me to climb mountains. And, It is an amazing privilege to have an inclined heart set in the direction of heaven. It is a shame that sometimes I don’t realize that that’s enough. 

As the week progressed and my brain got less and less foggy – I feel like I did some really great reflecting. If I cannot feel grateful with what I am already given and blessed with, why do I think I could possibly be happy with more? Whether that be more money, more things, more this or more that.. I have to stop letting the things that I want, make me forget the things that I have. Peace with life is found from within, and I’m not really sure why I have been looking elsewhere.



February 21, 2017 4 comments
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Last week I started the GratiTuesday Challenge! I strongly encourage all of you to join me! Here it is y’all: Take a good look around. What are you blessed with? What do you have to be thankful for this week? No matter how big or how small – if you can find something to be grateful for in any situation, your world will become a bit brighter.

This week I am grateful for tacos, (and a multitude of other things) but in all seriousness – this weekend I had some of the absolute best tacos and I have not been able to stop thinking about them since. If you know me at all, it is no secret that tacos are probably my favorite thing in this entire world. So, when my good friend Jenna mentioned that we should go to Bakersfield, a trendy spot in Charlotte that specializes in tacos – I am sure it is no stretch for you to imagine my excitement.

Our afternoon was full of great conversation, loud belly laughs and of course, incredible tacos. My favorite was the Pollo Rojo – braised chicken, smoky guajillio chili salsa, queso fresco, white onion, chipotle lime crema and cilantro. Sounds delicious, right?! That chipotle lime crema was, to. die. for. Bakersfield’s fish taco was a very close second. It has crispy mahi, tabasco lime sauce, citrus slaw and cilantro. The word mouthwatering, doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The atmosphere at Bakersfield did not disappoint either. From the moment you walk in, the vibe is comfortable and authentic. Surrounded by reclaimed wood, a concrete bar top, tables made from barrels and good ol’ black and white Westerns playing on all of the televisions – all allowing customers to feel at ease and as though they are transplanted into another time in Southern California. And I don’t even think I need to mention that their small menu packs a mighty big punch. 

It might seem quite silly to dedicate my second GratiTuesday blog post tacos, but there is just something about enjoying good food with the best of friends – it truly does nourish the soul. The strongest friendships don’t need constant conversations or daily interactions, just time spent together that is full of love, laughter and fantastic food. A good friend makes your problems their problems, so you don’t have to go through them alone. They accept the person that you are, but they also help you in becoming the person you should be. (Just like tacos, am I right?) 🙂 

February 7, 2017 1 comment
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I am starting a new series for my blog called GratiTuesday! I know that I have referenced thankfulness and being grateful in majority of my previous blog posts thus far – but, as stated here.. I am really trying to change the inevitable fact that I am one of “those” people. The kind that fails to remember the importance to recognize even the littlest blessings that I am given everyday. I believe this challenge will help with that!

Here is the challenge: Take a good look around. How much love can you bring into the situation you are in? When you adopt living wholeheartedly as a daily practice, you’re life becomes abundant. Your life will become rich in all positive and wise qualities of the heart – connection, consideration, compassion, appreciation and affection.

As I look around today, I am grateful for my career. I found purpose in my job. I found myself in my passion. And believe it or not, I found peace in a classroom surrounded by 20 six year olds. My dedication and devotion to education softens my heart and sparks a fire in my soul. The love I have for these children is important and it truly matters.

What makes your heart sing? What are you grateful for this Tuesday?

January 31, 2017 0 comment
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I wanted to share something very special with you guys – my favorite uplifting song. 

To me, this song symbolizes all relationships – no matter our age, color, gender, religion, location, socio-economic status or anything in-between. We have to love, respect and try to understand each other in order for the world to become the place we all so desperately want it to be. We have to go through hard times and learn how to solve our problems together so we can rise up and come out on the other end, better for it. We have to learn to live in the same world – no matter how different we look or how diverse our beliefs are. We have to be living, breathing examples of love and kindness. We have to be big enough to help the people who need it and vulnerable enough to ask for assistance when we are the ones struggling.

This song inspires me to be a better, happier, stronger and more hopeful person. Do you have a song like that? If so, I would love to hear it!

 

January 25, 2017 1 comment
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One of the promises to myself I made for this 2017 New Year was to start a gratitude journal. Every night before I lay down to go to sleep, I must to write down three things I am grateful for. At first, this seemed like a piece of cake – but honestly, it has become a pretty disciplining task. Unfortunately showing gratitude is not as much in my natural make-up as I would like for it to be. It is quite simple to feel happy and at ease when things are going in my favor. However, I have found it is just as critical (if not more critical), to find something to be thankful for when things have gone awry. This daily activity has really shown me the importance of finding something good while in the middle of a mess. I am deeply trying to not be the kind that gets too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the busiest days – forgetting what is truly important. I’m aware I have not been doing this long, but this exercise has been well worth the uneasiness.

1. I am thankful for my relationship with ChristMy faith and trust in God will carry me through my darkest days.
2. I am thankful for my loved ones. You know who you are. I could write a book on each and every one of you – but for the sake of space, I could never thank you enough for loving me without conditions.
3. I am thankful for my wiener-dog, Frank. He is always there when I need him and he has the biggest personality that somehow fits in his tiny body. He definitely keeps me laughing.
4. I am thankful for my health. I know far too many people that are battling something much bigger than them and I know how lucky I am to able to use all of my limbs and senses every single day.
5. I am thankful for my job. The passion and adoration I have for education matters. I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, teaching is exactly what I was put on this earth to do.
6. I am thankful for my struggles. Each and every one – no matter how big, how small or how earth shattering I thought they were – without them, I would not have found my strength.
7. I am thankful for books. Reading is the thing that relaxes me the most. It helps me get outside of my head, even if it is for just a little while.
8. I am thankful for Haribo gummy bears. They are undoubtedly the most delicious snack of all time.
9. I am thankful for listening to vinyl on my new record player. It brings a brand-new life to my music and truly puts me in the best mood.
10. I am thankful for snow days and how life undeniably comes to a standstill.
11. I am thankful for progress, not perfection. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.
12. I am thankful for a good nights sleep. This one really speaks for itself.
13. I am thankful for FaceTime. Some of people I love the most in this world live over 2,500 miles away from me. Separation is not easy – but FaceTime makes it a little more bearable.
14. I am thankful for the ocean. The wind and the smell – looking at something so vast reminds me just how small my worries are. Plus, life just seems to run a little slower at the beach.
15. I am thankful for lazy Sundays. After an incredibly long work-week, a lazy Sunday spent on the couch is exactly what I need. Whether it be: reading a book, snackin’, dozing in and out of sleep, or watching some good ol’ trashy TV – it seems to prepare me for the week to come.
16. I am thankful for changeI have changed so much within the past couple of years, and though it was not always easy – it was always necessary. Looking back, I am extremely thankful for all of the discomfort that growing pains entail.
17. I am thankful for coffee. It legitimately fuels teachers.
18. I am thankful for local adventures. love getting the chance to be a tourist in my very own state. It really helps when my feet are begging to go somewhere new and exciting; but I don’t quite have the time accrued or the money saved for Ireland or Fiji just yet. I’ve learned there is always something to discover, no matter where you are.
19. I am thankful for healing. Growing through the healing process – wholeheartedly accepting the person I was meant to be.
20. I am thankful for today and being able start today with a sincere and grateful heart.



This
is the gratitude journal I am using and I absolutely adore it. Making it a point to reflect and write down “Today’s Three Moments of Joy” has become part of my nightly routine and it certainly has had an extensive impact on my life thus far.
I encourage you to start making your very own gratitude lists at the end of each day. I promise, you won’t regret it.



January 10, 2017 3 comments
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I’m not really sure why, but the New Year always seems to stress me out. I certainly hope I’m not alone in that. No matter how “ready” I think I am, there is something extremely intimidating about the blank slate staring at me. I think what’s hardest for me to swallow, is that I expect every year to have a “perfect ending” like a book, or a movie. But that’s not very realistic, is it? When that inevitably does not happen, for some reason I start each New Year with a bad taste already in my mouth. 

Not this year. This year I am forcing myself to see the other side. There is something immensely hopeful about a fresh start. That bare canvas begging to be filled can be a remarkably powerful sight to see. That limitless and luminous empty page glaring at me, is my life and it can be anything I want it to be.

This year…
A new skill I’d like to learn: rock-climbing and baking
A person I hope to be more like: Brené Brown
A book I’d like to read: Eat, Pray, Love (again)

A good deed I’m going to do: clean out my closet and donate the clothes
A place I’d like to visit: the coast of Oregon (again) 🙂
A new food I’d like to try: Indian
A bad habit I’m going to break: second guessing myself and what I am capable of

I’m going to be better at: saying “no” to things I really do not want to do without feeling bad about it
A risk I’m going to take: be honest about my intentions, no matter how difficult that may be

What promises or resolutions did you make this New Year? I would love to hear about them!

January 4, 2017 3 comments
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