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On Work & Travel

  Paper & Glam - Work & Travel

This week I flew to Miami for two Operational Reviews, worked like crazy, and hopped on a plane back home. This two day trip of exhaustive hustle left me grateful for the blissful feeling of leaving and coming home.

Traveling is about enjoying all the delightful things another city offers, taking in as much of it's culture as you can, and then coming home to see your own home and way of life with fresh eyes.

When I got back from Miami, my apartment looked more beautiful than when I left, Sunday's fur felt softer, and work felt a little more fulfilling. I looked forward to my morning trip to the gym and reading with the sound of laundry buzzing while spring candles flicker. This is the great gift of traveling: the way it makes the most basic and elemental pieces of our lives feel new, spurring silent thank-yous for warm, familiar beds and routines.

While I didn't enjoy spending Easter Sunday slamming out slide decks and averaging four hours of sleep three nights in a row, I'm grateful for the opportunity to travel professionally.

Paper & Glam - Cibo Wine Barphoto credit

While in Coral Gables with my clients, I ate one of the best meals of my life at Cibo Wine Bar: their lamb pappardelle (complemented with a very luxe bottle of red wine) is the best pasta I've had, worth every carb and bead of sweat it will require to atone for it.

Paper & Glam - Marriott Coral Gablesphoto credit

This week, I found that I love traveling for work. It's the furthest thing from a paid vacation, but it's got that bump and grind, hope and hustle I live for. It's challenging and changing. From finishing slide decks from 10 PM to 1 AM in this lounger on the pool deck to walking in for breakfast to reherse my presentations over orange juice and powerpoint, I loved traveling professionally, and that this is my job.

Two client meet-and-greets, two presentations, and I was back on the plane. Now I'm home sitting at my dining room table, watching and writing as the pool is swept clean of blossoms. I could swear when I left there were blossoms on the trees and two days later I'm back, and they are leaves.

It's interesting how the moments in our lives that give us the most anxiety and cause to ask those Can I Do This? questions, are usually also the moments that change us profoundly and allow us to start asking new questions, while looking back to say, this is who I am and I can do this.

The pace I've kept the past few months makes me realize I need to ensure my life isn't the definition of "going nowhere fast." I've sure been going fast, but where am I going? Is it somewhere I want to go? Is it making me who I want to be? Is there more love than hustle?


Yes and no, change is afoot, I can feel it. But for now, it's good to be back where I need to be, fingers on the  keyboard, living and writing...

        Praying for the courage to first live these experiences and then write them down.

I'm a writer, it's my thing. Writing heals me, pushes me, and keeps me in shape on the inside. I like what it brings out in me.

I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have tried lots of things and reorganized the math and found the way of living and working that feels right for me in this season. And some of why I’m telling you this is because I think we’re all trying to figure out what we we're made for, and how that calling works in our lives, and how to shift the math season to season. 

There are a million ways to be a writer...and a million ways to make a difference, and it’s worth taking the time to listen to your life and listen to your calling and listen to your family and community.

I’ve been terrible at that in some seasons. I’ve struggled under work that wasn’t right for me but I kept going because it was "the plan." Feel free to change the plan. I’ve stayed with things that I didn’t love because it seemed like I should have loved them. Pay attention to what you love, not to what you should love.

Because this is what I know: each one of us was created on purpose and for a purpose, and it’s worth taking the time to ask a million questions: how can I use what God’s given me to make the world better, brighter, more beautiful in this season? And now in this one? And now in this one? - Shauna Niequist

Here's to reworking the math of our lives, month by month, season by season, and continuing to work out how our lives and our careers intersect with what God is doing in our world. 

P.S. Shauna Niequist announced (here) she'll be writing another collections of essays AND a devotional due out next year!! 2016's devotional is picked! Yes, I tenatively plan reading years in advance because I want to read EVERYTHING. Next year's devotional is likely Joyce Meyer's Hearing From God Each Morning.

Portland: Coffee, Combat Boots & Creative Culture

Paper & Glam - Portland City Guide

Ready for a weekend getaway to Portland, Oregon?

Paper & Glam - DEN - SEA - PDX

The trip started out shaky as Denver freeways turned to ice rinks overnight and the Denver airport canceled my flight due to the inclement weather. After sprinting through the airport to snag a flight to Seattle and a connection to Portland, my glossy travel companions and I, Vanity Fair and Vogue settled in for quiet flight to Portlandia.

Paper & Glam - Vogue Vanity Fair Travel Companions And touchdown...

Paper & Glam - Welcome to America's Bicyle Capital

After arriving in America's bicycle capital, I was greeted by this color-blocked library in my hotel's lobby at the Marriott City Center. We know I love color-blocked bookshelves!

Paper & Glam - Marriot City Center

The first stop on my Portland adventure was Stumptown Coffee, where I experienced the uncontested best skinny vanilla latte of my life. Stumptown's coffee is incredible and it's quality cannot be overstated. I'd also recommend picking up some of the Guatemalan beans to duplicate the experience in the comfort of your own home.

Paper & Glam - Stumptown Coffeephoto credit

Next on the agenda was a stop next door at the infamous VooDoo Doughnut. VooDoo's maple bacon bar will change your life and there is a line around the block at all hours to prove it! I'm thanking my lucky stars a VooDoo opened in Denver in December. Let me confess I made myself sick indulging in maple bacon delights on that fine day.

Paper & Glam - VooDoo Donut Shoppe

VooDoo has been featured on the Travel Channel's No Reservations as well as Bizarre Foods (you can watch the segments and drool here and here).

Paper & Glam - VooDoo Donuts Sign

Next stop on our tour is Blue Star Donuts for a bacon maple face-off. Blue Star makes their donuts from a classic French recipe yielding light, fluffy donuts.

Paper & Glam - Blue Star Donut Shop

If you want the pick of the litter, you'll need to head to the shop before 9 as they make their donuts daily, sell out, and close up shop. How did Blue Star stack up against VooDoo? Like apples and oranges. 

Paper & Glam - Blue Star Donuts Selection

I could eat a dozen of Blue Star's maple delicacies where VooDoo leaves me at the point of overdose after just one of its famed maple bacon bars. Blue Star's donuts don't leave you feeling heavy or headed to type two diabetics. However, the gold medal goes to VooDoo...I see VooDoo donuts in my dreams.

Paper & Glam - Blue Star Donut Maple Bacon

Next stop, Palio Coffee. I wanted to visit the coffee shop where Donald Miller wrote the author's note in Through Painted Desserts, which is one of my favorite passage of all time.

Paper & Glam - Palio Coffee

Palio was quaint and a writer's dream as Donald Miller describes it: 

I come here, to Palio coffee, for the big windows. If I sit outside, the sun gets on my computer screen, so I come inside, to this same table, and sit alongside the giant panes of glass. And it is like a movie out there, like a big screen of green...

Paper & Glam - Cupcake Jones

The best cupcakes I've encountered after Sprinkles (Sprinkles - The World's First Cupcake Bakery and "the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze" - Los Angeles Times) come from Cupcake Jones in the Pearl District. Cupcake Jones is full of fanciful flavors that change daily and seasonally. If you crave exotic cupcakes, this is your place.

Paper & Glam - Powell's Books

At last, we get to the reason I will always return to Portland as the book beacon beckons, Powell's...the world's largest independent bookstore.

Paper & Glam - Powell's City of Books

I spent a half-day rooming the rooms carefully color-coded ensuring bibliophiles safe passage and emerged with the holy grail of books, an early-edition hardcover of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast (and 15 other new used book friends).

Paper & Glam - Powell's Books Staircase

After all the intellectual stimulation I was ready for some comfort food from Boxer Ramen. We arrived at Boxer ten minutes before opening to find a line eagerly awaiting a crack in the hot pink door. 

Paper & Glam - Boxer Ramen

After a bowl of the Spicy Red Miso I understood why. Boxer Ramen is the best ramen I've experiences. Boxer is in a dead tie with Papa Haydn for my favorite meal of the trip

Paper & Glam - Ramen

After lunch at Boxer, we traipsed down an adjacent ally to Quin Candy for dessert. Quin is a modern and sophisticated candy shop boasting shelves of handmade gumdrops, marshmallows, chocolates and fruit chews. 

Paper & Glam - Quin Candy

After Quin, it was time for a little shopping down the street at the Doc Marten headquarters and flagship store...

Paper & Glam - Dr. Martens Headquarters

where I came away with the most adorable and edgy floral combat boots. One of the best things about Portland is its walk-ability. We walked almost everywhere we went which necessitates "air walk" comfort. These combat boots made me feel like a local while easily traversing the coffee and pastry-laden streets of Portland. While I ate my way through Portland, I also walked my way, which means I didn't board the plane back to Denver with extra caloric baggage. 

Paper and Glam - Floral Combat Boots

Portland has an honesty to it I've never felt in a city. It's truly a place you can let your hair down, and yet it's got this hipster, intellectual vibe running through it. Portland is the most literate city in the country, every barista and batender has a master's degree.

With Portland boasting the best coffee and the biggest bookstore, it's easy to see why. You can sit with a glass of wine and a fresh issue of Vogue at many cafes like Southpark unencumbered by the bustle you find in most major metropolitan cities. Portland it quietly chic with it's combat boot and coffee culture without taking on a trace of pretense. 

When I'm not hustling in IT to pay for the wicked expensive B.B.A. I earned which qualified me to sit behind a desk until five everyday and awaken stressed during the night, I just want to read books, drink coffee, and make stuff. Portland is a city full of current and ex-Intel/Oracle employees who understand you can have all you need with a cup of hot coffee, a pair of comfy combat boots, and a creative culture around you.

Dear Portland,

As I sit writing, staring out into grey skies, drinking Stumptown coffee from my Powell's Books mug, wearing macaron pajamas procured tax-free from Forever 21, reading a killer article about how American narcissim created a Hipster generation, I know you get me and I can't wait to return. 

Paper & Glam - Portland Writing

This city guide is by no means an exhaustive list of what to see in Portland, but it showcases the best parts of my trip, and in my humble opinion, what is not to be missed. On my next visit, I'll be sure to eat my way through some of "America's best street food" from Portland's 700 food trucks and make another stop at each of the above. 

And now I go check "Go Some Place New" off my list of 2014 resolutions!