Self-Doubt

I think all girls struggle with this: the self doubting. It’s when we look in the mirror and see the girl we are on the outside rather than the girl we are on the inside. We see all the fat rolls or the pimples. Or we see that our clothes might not be the best. 

I’ve struggled with self-doubt since I was a young teenager. I was always bigger than my other friends who might have tipped the scales at just over 100 pounds. (I think I weighed 100 by the time I was 12!) Not only was I bigger than the other girls, but I was also “blessed” with a face full of acne. (My only saving grace was that I had straight teeth and didn’t have to deal with braces!) 

Looking back, I wasn't even that big!

Looking back, I wasn’t even that big!

I have a bunch of friends that are very into fitness and being healthy. And that’s great! I’m super proud of them for being in a place where they WANT to do that. I was in that place when I went from being a size 16 down to being a size 2 in less than a sixteen month period of time.

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In the picture above, I was at my smallest. I weighed about 111 pounds and was a size 2. My sister and I probably could have shared clothes. I felt like crap and was rarely ever in a good mood. I was more worried about what I was going to eat for my next meal (and whether or not it would fit into my calorie count), and when I was going to get my next workout in – to work off the food that I was going to eat at my next meal.

It was a VICIOUS cycle. Eat a little, exercise a lot. Eat a little, exercise a lot. Day in, day out. Every single day. I would get up early in the morning and run on the treadmill before work. Or I would do a 5-mile Leslie Sansone video while I was babysitting the kids I watched at the time. 

Breathe in and out, barely any time for anything but worrying about my weight, my size, whether or not I was going to gain all my weight back, etc, etc, etc. 

I was UNHAPPY.

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Here it is: 100% honesty time.

I’m a LOT happier at a size 22 than I ever was at a size 2! I wear cute clothes (thanks to LulaRoe and Honey & Lace), and I have found a place where I can look in the mirror and be happy with how I look. I no longer feel bad walking into a store and having to go to the “fat section”. I have embraced this about myself. 

It doesn’t matter, listen to me: IT DOESN’T matter what you look like on the outside. It doesn’t matter if you can shop in the junior’s section are Target or if you have to go to the Plus size section. It doesn’t matter if the pant size is two numbers. It doesn’t matter if you have to get an XL shirt or a 2X or a 3X. 

What matters IS: being a good person. Showing love to all those around you. Wearing your heart on your sleeve and showing compassion. Being NICE. 

I’m not saying don’t be healthy. I’m not saying not to workout. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be into fitness. I’m saying: Be happy in your skin. No matter if that skin has stretch marks or if that skin is flat. It doesn’t MATTER. 

You matter. Your heart matters. Your mind matters.

And don’t forget to smile. 

You are worth more than gold. 

The end of 2015..the beginning of 2016

As I look back on the last year, I am amazed with all that happened to me. Every year, there’s so many good things that happen, that I can’t even put them all into words. Yet, I feel like I need to try.

So, starting with January, I’m going to do a recap of my year. 

Good luck reading 😉 

January 

In early January, I was blessed to be able to meet a long-time blogging friend. She and her husband came into the area and came to our house for brunch! We had a great time visiting. You can check out Ashley’s blog at Be Still Waiting Heart.  \
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February 

In February, it was mostly working. Then, in the end of February-beginning of March, my family went to our home away from home – Kissimmee-area, Florida. Here’s a picture of us traveling down!

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March

Obviously, the most exciting thing that happened in March was that we were in Florida. We spent some time at Busch Gardens, Sea World: Orlando, and Gracie and I went to Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It was a great family vacation, and I’m ready to go back whenever the family is! 🙂 But here’s a picture from the first day of spring in beautiful Pennsylvania. 

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April

In April, my best friend of 8 years came down to spend Easter with my family! We had a great time catching up. Seeing each other is always such a great joy, and I love being around my partner in crime.

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May

In May, after many, many weeks and months of searching, I got A NEW JOB! I have been so blessed to work at CPRS Physical Therapy, getting to know my coworkers and the patients, and being able to work in a job that I LOVE. 

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June

In June, after 11 months of not getting my hair cut, and trying to let it grow, I decided to chop it all off. There’s something about having short hair that makes me feel like myself. Plus, it only took 4 minutes for me to style my hair instead of the 20 some minutes I had spent straightening it. 

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July 

In July, we took a girls and Jonathan trip to Ocean City, New Jersey, which is also my home away from home. I can’t imagine going to another beach and enjoying it as much as OCNJ. It’s my home. I know where I’m going and where everything is, and it’s so family friendly. Give me OCNJ, or give me death! 

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August 

In August, I bought my first bottle of wine for myself. My sister and her friend played their violin/cello at a local winery, and mom and I went. We tasted some of the wine, and I bought 2 of the bottles. Since then, I have gone to a bunch of different wineries and tried many more. I whine for wine. 😉 

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September

In September, I had a couple of firsts. Including: first ride on a train, and first time seeing a Broadway musical. Mom, Gracie and I went to see Amazing Grace on Broadway, and it was incredible! I can’t wait to back to NYC to see another one! 

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October 

In October, there were more firsts: first time in both Nevada AND California! It was so exciting to check 2 more states off my list (the list of…get to all the states before you die! 21 out of 50 now!!) and get to see a different part of the country! I loved California, and I hope to go back soon! 

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November

In November, I was officially accepted into the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Central Penn College. I didn’t realize that it would all happen so fast: getting accepted, starting school in less than 2 months. It was amazing, and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me! 

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December

December has kind-of been a whirlwind. I bought all my college books, went to New Student Orientation, worked a full-time job at CPRS, and bought all my Christmas gifts for the family and a couple of friends. It was a wonderful month. Spending time with family is always the best.

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So as 2016 begins, I am excited to see what it holds.

School, work, family, maybe a vacation. Who knows? 

Let it begin. 

A Day at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Welcome to the first stop on Magical Blogorail Peach. Today we are discussing aquariums that your family needs to visit.


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My family has been wanting to check out Clearwater Marine Aquarium since we first saw Dolphin Tale. And then when Dolphin Tale 2 came out, it’s like the “itch” to go got even bigger. So when we decided to not to Disney on our most recent Florida trip, Clearwater got added to the list of things to do.  We arrived at Clearwater Marine Aquarium at 10am, so it was already open. Before you get to the ticket counter, you see the boat that Hazel and her dad lived on in the movies. I love movie artifacts, so this was really cool for me. (I used to love walking through the part of the Backlot Tour in Hollywood Studios where you could see all the props!) 

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When you first get to the ticket counter, it seems kind-of low class.They sell tickets out of what appears to be two or three trailers. We bought our tickets and I quickly moved along because my grandma had the brilliant idea to ask one of the guys that worked there if they were single. (Talk about embarrassment to the highest degree!)  We went inside to check out all there was to see. When you first enter the building, you are in the gift shop. I, personally, spent a bunch of time here because I kept looking for a shirt to buy and couldn’t find one that I absolutely loved until right before we left!  We continued through the gift shop up the stairs to the main level where Winter, Hope, Rufus and Harold and Mavis are. We watched Winter for a long time, and enjoyed seeing the sea turtles, as well!

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This level was extremely busy, obviously, so we continued on our way outside to watch a presentation. The presentation we saw was called Dolphin Stranding. This is when they go out and rescue dolphins that are in need of help. It was pretty interesting and I really enjoyed learning about how they rescued Winter and Hope.  After this, we walked back downstairs to the Sting Ray exhibit. My grandparents and sister each took the time to “pet” a sting ray, but I thought they looked gross, and plus, I was holding a camera.Can’t get that wet, right? (later in the week, when we went to Sea World, Orlando, I got up the courage to touch a sting ray.) We boarded a trolley a little while later, to head across town to a large warehouse where they have all sorts of movie props from both movies. They also had a simulation-type walk-through where you could see what it felt like to be in a hurricane. 

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Instead of taking the trolley back to the main building, we decided to take the boat ride back. We had to wait for a while for the boat to get there, but we had a nice ride, and a great captain who knew a lot of facts about the city of Clearwater.

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Our day at Clearwater was pretty awesome, and we enjoyed it greatly. I would recommend this place to anyone who has seen the Dolphin Tale movies. You might not enjoy it as much if you haven’t seen them because you wouldn’t know the story behind why they do what they do.  Have you ever been to Clearwater Marine Aquarium? If so, what was your favorite part? For more information, or ticket prices, click here


Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure : Aquariums

How Being Obsessed With Something Changed My Life

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Ashley and she was 13 in 2007. Also in 2007, there came about a little band of brother named the Jonas Brothers. Ashley discovered the Jonas Brothers and then the rest of that you can probably figure out on your own.

I am Ashley, and this is my story of obsession and what I learned from it.

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The boys above came into the Disney scene in 2007 and somehow I decided they were going to be my favorite band. Not only were they singers, but they weren’t half bad to look at. They were “funny” AND not to mention the fact that their dad was a pastor and they grew up in a Christian home. BONUS! 

My problems grew when I decided that The Jonas Brothers were the best thing to ever come into my life. They became the center of everything I did. I wrote stories about them, I listened to their music constantly, I had a ton of pictures of them saved on my computer, and my best friend and I had hours of conversation about them on the phone. 

Kevin Jonas, Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas

The thought process I was having was, “these guys are Christians, so it’s okay for me to like them this much”, but this was incredibly flawed.

As I look back, I realized that despite the fact that I was listening to so-called “Christians”, I was walking away from the one person in my life that was important: God. 

I idolized these guys. I get that now. I understand that loving people so much that I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW was just stupid. There was nothing good that could come out of that. 

God made this clear to me about 3 years later. I was reading through the Bible in a year, and all these verses kept popping out of me and tugging at my heart. 

In Exodus it says:

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 

I think we often think these verses mean ACTUAL idols. Like, statues. But what this means is anything or anyone that takes the place of God in our lives. This could be a band, an actor, a movie, a tv show, the internet. Anything that draws us to it instead of opening the Bible when we KNOW That we should be doing devotions. Anything that draws us to it instead of taking us to church.

As I grow older, and the Jonas Brothers take themselves further away from the Lord, I find myself hurting for them. I find myself SORRY for them. They walked away from the ONE THING in their lives that was FIRM. That makes me sad, and I pray that they go back to the faith that they grew up with. They may have all the money in the world, all the girls they want. Everything they want, but not the One thing they need.

The moral of the story is: God is the only God. God is the only one who will save you. He’s the only One that loved you enough to die on the cross for you. 

So anything else that we make “gods” in our lives are not worth it. Sure, they may be cute. Or funny. Or nice. But they are not God. They won’t do anything for you once you are dead. Only God will. 

So today, my challenge to you is to turn from that band (or whatever it is) and go back to the only firm thing in your life. 

Growing Out a Pixie – 9 months Later

Today is exactly 9 months since I got my last pixie. 

In June of 2014 I decided to cut my hair short once again. I adore my hair cut into a pixie, and in fact, I’ve had my pixie cut for about 8-9 years. I was never able to get my hair grown out much longer than a pixie because my hair is so thick and everyone loves my hair in a pixie, so why not?

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I decided in July that it might be fun to try to grow out my hair into a bob. Because, why not? The only problem with this is…I’ve decided to do that a million times before, so no one takes me seriously.

Only this time…I was serious. I wanted to know what I would look like with shoulder-length hair again. 

So I started my journey. 

3 months later, in October, I got a trim on my hair because it was getting longer and straggly looking. It had grown a good bit already, and was starting to show some length.

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By December of 2014 (6 months after getting my last “real” haircut), my hair was growing well over my ears, and I had to start pinning my bangs back because agh! I couldn’t stand them in my eyes anymore! I hate having hair in my face, and it was just driving me crazy! I was just hoping, hoping, hoping that I would be able to make it through growing out bangs. 

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December

In mid-January, I went back for another hair-trimming. This time, I got my bangs cut. My hairdresser said my next step would be a short bob, and she thought I should keep the bangs – at least for a little while. Since they were driving me crazy anyway, I figured that it’d be silly to argue with her, and let her trim them up.

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End of January – exactly 7 months into my hair growth journey, it was finally starting to get some – at least what I consider – actual length on it.

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By mid-February, I was finally able to pull the sides up in a barrette (the only kind I use are Flexi8s) and I was so excited by this new “thing” that I did it for almost a week straight just to have my hair out of my face. 

11001870_10205924298296313_6284098610660930340_n And, last but not least, we’ve made it to end of March and it’s been 9 months since I’ve gotten my last pixie. Here is a picture from June and beside it is a picture from mid-March/

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Tips for Growing Out Your Hair and Not Feeling Discouraged ‘Cuz We All Do

  • Don’t let a bad hair day – or a bad hair week – stop you from growing it out. There are going to be bad days – I can guarantee that. There will be days where you’re going to look in the mirror and wish that you could just chop all that ugly stuff off your head. But don’t let it stop you from the journey you’re on – take a step back and remember why you’re growing your hair out in the first place. 
  • If you’re growing out your bangs – buy bobby pins in bulk. Think I’m kidding? Try buying a pack of 100 and see how long those suckers last. If you still have some in a few months, you win at life. Seriously. 
  • Get your hair shaped up every 6-12 weeks. This will keep your hair from getting scraggly and ugly looking, and also prevent having a mullet. (‘Cuz none of us want those.) As someone with incredibly thick hair, I mostly just needed my hair thinned out to keep it staying in place on my head.
  • On that same topic… getting it trimmed actually HELPS it to grow. Getting the dead part of the hair trimmed off gives it more oomph to grow and it keeps it healthier. 
  • Try not to wash your hair every.single.day. By December, I learned this tip and realized that it was really helping. 
  • Accessorize. Add headbands, bobby pins, flexi 8’s (like I’m wearing above!). These will really help on bad hair days, or days you’re feeling like getting all your hair chopped off.

Why I LOVE republicwireless

I didn’t have a cell phone until I was almost 17. And even then, I only got a cell-phone because I was flying by myself to Colorado to visit my friend, Kylie from over at Further Up and Further In

I started off with a flip phone from Tracfone. I was all for saving money, and since I was having to pay my own cell phone bill (because my parents taught me the lesson in being accountable for things that are mine – I’ve paid my car insurance since the day I got my license!), I wanted to save as much money as possible.

I paid a whopping $6.50 a month to tracfone for my cell service. It was everything I needed.

Until a few months ago, I learned about republicwireless.

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At first I was a bit skeptical. I could have a phone – a SMARTPHONE – for less than $15 a month? There was no way. There was a catch. 

I read reviews, I talked to their customer service, and I learned all that I could about it before finally taking the plunge and deciding I would order myself a phone.

I decided on the 16gb Moto G phone. I LOVE it. I have always had Apple iPods, so I was used to apple products, but when I got my android phone, it didn’t take me long to figure it out and realize just how much I loved it! 

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Not only do I LOVE my phone, but I also love the service that I get from republic wireless. They have great customer service and are always there to help you! The only way to get in touch with them in through a chat window or Facebook, but they’re quick to reply, and always help you without any problems! (I don’t miss calling tracfone and talking to their customer service only to get put through to someone that I couldn’t understand!)

I got the plan that gives me unlimited talk and text, and I pay around $12.90 a month, depending on the taxes. How can Republic Wireless do this when so many of the other cell companies are charging so much more? 

Well, Republic runs off wi-fi when you are in range to it. So when I’m at my home, my cell phone calls and texts go through my wifi. But when I’m out of range of wifi, it runs off cell towers. 

I realize some of the other companies do this now, too, but not at these prices! 

Today, actually, I turned over from unlimited talk and text, to unlimited talk, text and data for the MONTH. I wanted to have it before I go to Florida for a week. I thought it’d be nice to try it out before I leave. 

At any rate, that took my bill up to just around $30 for all that. I don’t know about you guys, but I still think that’s pretty darned cheap considering what I’m getting with it. 

So, what’s stopping you?! Go check out Republic Wireless now! 

50 Shades of No Way in Heck

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No, it’s not Monday….but you forgive me right? This post has been on my heart for a while now, and I just feel like it has to be said. 

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A few years ago, the series above came out. They took the world by storm, and just about everyone I knew was reading them. Okay, not everyone! But the good majority of my Facebook news feed was about these books, and the greatness of them. I never really took the time to think much about it, because honestly, I like to boycott books that everyone reads. It usually means they’re incredibly overrated.

And these books are overrated. 

Now, what’s going through my News Feed on Facebook? Of course you know. It’s the trailer for the new movie coming out this year. The trailer doesn’t even try to leave a little to the imagination. No, instead, they just show you exactly what’s going to be in the movie.

As a woman that wants nothing more than to love my future husband with her whole heart, the trailer for this movie really hurt me. To think that married friends of mine, or even those engaged or in a relationship are going to watch this movie, or have read the book…it hurts me for their significant other.

Here’s a few things to think about?

  • These books – and the movie – are all about sex. 
    First off, do we want to fill our minds with this? We already have our sinful nature that makes us think about this enough. Do we need to add more of that by reading this, or watching it? The answer is so simple: no! 
  • Do you want your husband, boyfriend, or fiance to watch porn?
    Your answer is no, of course. At least, I hope it is. It better be. So, if you don’t want your man doing this, why would you do it?
  • Would you want someone in your daughter’s, sister’s or friend’s life to take advantage of them the way that the guy in this story took advantage of the girl? 
    (Yes, I am that naive that I don’t know either of their names, and guess what? I’m proud of that.) 
    From what I can gather from what I’m seeing, the girl character was a virgin before she met Mr. Grey? So, was he taking advantage of her naivety and innocence by taking a sexual interest in her? 

I try to think about it as being in the other person’s shoes. Would I want my significant other talking about how hot a girl was that was going to be in a movie that he was going to see? And in that movie, she was going to be naked most of the time? Would you want your other reading a book that was about lust and not “real love”? 

My whole thing is: don’t read or watch things that mess with your mind in this way. 

There are so many things wrong with it: the movie is full of lust, and lust is a huge sin that God warns about all the time. Last night when reading Romans, God had to let people go because of their depraved minds; they turned to their lustful desires.

As women who want our men to respect us, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same thing for them?

The moral of this post is:  

If you wouldn’t want your significant other doing it, why do you think it’s okay for you? 

And Cruiseeee

Riding the rails is a weekly meme hosted by the Magical Blogorail. Each week’s topic is different and always a bunch of fun to be a part of! Link up by clicking the image above and join in on the fun! 

This week’s topic: 

Disney Cruise Line

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When my family first heard about the Disney Cruise Line, I never even thought about it. It sounded like a way to be “Disney-ish” without actually going to Disney World, or Disneyland, and I really didn’t like that idea.

If I’m doing Disney, I’m going to do it right by going to one of the parks. 

But, as I get to know Disney a little more, and realize that Disney Cruise Line is more than any other cruise line, I have decided that I NEED to go on a Disney Cruise if I ever get the opportunity.

While the Disney Cruises are more than a Carnival cruise or Royal Caribbean, they’re also way more. They’ve got the Disney magic and that makes a huge difference in someone like me. 

Photo Courtesy of Lori from Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere

Photo Courtesy of Lori from Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere

There are many destinations to choose from, but I’m pretty sure I would go to either the Bahamas, or the Caribbean. I don’t want a cruise to last more than a few days, and those are some of the shortest. They give you time to enjoy yourself on the boat, but they’re also short enough so that you can spend a few days at Disney World spending times in the parks as well. 

Photo Courtesy of Lori from Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere

Photo Courtesy of Lori from Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere

There are character encounters, deck parties and awesome food aboard all of the Disney Cruise Lines. Let me just say, if the food is anywhere near as good as it is as Walt Disney World, I’m going to be pleasantly surprised when I get there someday!

While I know VERY LITTLE about Disney Cruise Line, I hope to be able to research it more so I can be well prepared when I step aboard one of the 4 Disney ships! 

Have you ever been on a Disney Cruise? If so, what’s your favorite part? 

Three Things Thursday: 5.8.14

Three-Things-Thursday This month, I have THREE homeschool conventions, so I’m going to share about the three I’m going to for my Three Things Thursday this week!

  1. My first convention is starting today. Well, setup starts today, at least. It runs from the 9th-10th.  It’s CHAP, my home convention here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I’ve been attending this convention since I started high school (maybe even before?), and I have always loved going. This year, I’m working with Apologia. Being that it’s a big convention, I’m sure that there won’t be too many lulls, and that we’ll keep pretty busy! 🙂 
  2. My second convention is in Lansing, Michigan. I head out early on Thursday, the 15th to setup that day. Then the convention runs from the 16th-17th. I’ve only ever actually been to Michigan once – and I was maybe four? I don’t remember it at all. So it will be nice to – hopefully- see parts of it again. This is actually the first convention I’ll be doing without Mom – traveling alone – so it should be quite the adventure! We’ll see. I may have many-a-story when I get home. 
  3. Then, the last convention of May is FPEA – the Orlando-area Florida convention! YAY! I was so glad to hear when Mom and I got this one, because…it’s…well, Florida. The convention runs from the evening of the 22nd-24th. Mom and I are staying a few extra days in order to do the Keys to the Kingdom tour in the Magic Kingdom, and then we’ll be heading home. 

Once we’re through with May, Mom and I only have one more convention – and that’s in early June. After that, we’re “free”. Although, I really enjoy doing it. The travel is so much fun, and I love meeting and seeing all the people that come out to the conventions. 😉 

 

My Bucket List

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I finally made a bucket list! About time! Thought I’d post it here!

  • Visit the 31 states I haven’t been to! 
  • Sky Dive 
  • Bungee Jump
  • Visit Disneyland 
  • Move to Florida
  • Write and Publish a novel 
  • Visit England 
  • Get married
  • Have kids 
  • Adopt a child
  • Visit Vietnam
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Visit Italy 
  • Run a 5K 
  • Learn to horseback ride 
  • Swim with dolphins 
  • Go snorkeling 
  • Go on a cruise 
  • Fly 1st class 
  • own my own house
  • Ride in a gondola 
  • Get a pet 
  • Go on a mission’s trip 
  • Get front row seats for a concert 
  • Put a lock on the love bridge in Paris 
  • Go to Ireland 
  • Go to Universal Studios 
  • Have my own library 
  • Go paragliding 
  • Make a scrapbook (or many!0 
  • Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain 
  • Eat at cheesecake factory 
  • Be in 2 places at once 
  • Stay in the Polynesian at Disney 
  • Become a Disney princess
  • Set foot on all 7 continents (or at least the 6 that aren’t Antarctica!) 
  • Travel by train 
  • Get to my goal weight
  • Meet someone famous
  • Drive a Camaro 
  • See the Hollywood Sign 
  • Go to a live taping of The Voice