Get Messy Blog Hop

The Season of Love has come to an end! This season has been so inspiring and challenging and couldn’t have come at a better time. Since I am travelling I wasn’t able to get my recent pages ready for you, but I thought I would share a few of my favorite’s created this season.

Write a love letter to yourself art journal by lauren-likesI love by Lauren LikesFriends by Lauren LikesArt Journal Love by Lauren Likes Art Journal by Lauren LikesThe best part of the Get Messy program are the people. I am floored at what I learn from these ladies every day and I want you to see a little taste of it. So please click around to see these ladies’ pages and be as inspired as I am to go make something right away!

  1. Karyn http://karynscraftingobsession.blogspot.com.au/
  2. Rebecca http://daintydora.co.uk/
  3. Keshena http://prettypaperandcoffee.com
  4. Kimberlee  http://scrapsandsass.blogspot.com
  5. France http://bananafishstudio.com
  6. Nina www.meinlebeninscraps.blogspot.de
  7. TC Larson http://tclarson.com

Thoughts on Resourcefulness

Thoughts on Resourcefulness by Lauren LikesIf you want something, make it.

If you want something to happen, start it.

Quit waiting on others. Make it happen for yourself.

I’ve been dwelling on this idea of resourcefulness recently, but in a different than usual kind of way. Not in the I need money or physical stuff kind of way, but in the I want my life to be a certain way kind of way. We are very happy in Korea, but there are always things, people, places, events we miss from back home. And not in the irreplaceable way. We will obviously never be able to replace Christmas with our family, but we can create a fulfilling experience of having a big dinner with friends. But more of what I am talking about is the idea of “I like _______, but they don’t have it here. So I can’t have it at all.” Why?! That’s not true. I have found myself being a little unhappy and unfulfilled in a few areas recently and decided to do something about it.

There are resources all around us, people, things, ideas. We must harness them and be willing to do a bit of the work so we (and others) can reap the benefits.

Here are a few examples from my life recently (that you can also do):

Starting the workout class I want to take: I hate working out. I like taking workout classes though because they are a group event and you have someone telling you what to do, so I don’t have to decide to only half way lift weird weights that I don’t actually know what they do. Gyms here are really expensive, like $300 a month + I have to travel to get there, etc, etc, etc. I really love Zumba, its my favorite method of working out. I also don’t care to work out everyday, once a week is fine with me. There is a girl who works here who used to be a dance teacher. She tried to teach a dance class once a month last semester, but it didn’t get a lot of interest because of timing. So I approached her, ‘hey wanna start a weekly Zumba class? I’ll help you and I’ll force people to come.’ Another girl overheard and said ‘me too’. We sent out a mass email the next day and the next week the three of us are teaching a HUGE Zumba class to our staff in our school aerobics room. It’s been growing each week. More people are stepping up to teach dances each week. It’s so fun.

The work: Telling people what I wanted and asking them for help. The workload at first was reserving the room and learning three dances. Now it is sending out a reminder email each week and practicing my dances a few minutes before class starts and learning new ones when I get bored with them.

The benefit: I get to do my favorite workout each week, I get a say in how its run, I get to hang out with my work friends and I get to laugh a lot because, let’s be honest, nobody looks great doing Zumba. It’s free, for everyone.

Designing the Products I want to use: I wanted something to fill a void in my scrapbooking. Modern, simple, 1-2 color travel themed project life cards. I waited for years and no one designed them. So I did. Oh and I made travel stamps to go with them because I love using stamps and there weren’t any that I liked. I learned Photoshop (which I already had on my computer free from work), designed them and opened an Etsy Shop with them so others can use them too.

The work: I had to learn Photoshop, but I learned it as I went. I already had the designs in my head, so I just need to translate them onto the screen. Etsy shops are a lot of work, especially if you want them to be good and do well. That was a lot of prep work for each product, but now its done and you don’t have to do that part if you don’t want.

The benefit: I have the perfect cards now. I know how to use Photoshop. I am making a small amount of income off of my efforts. Others are using my products and that is soooo cool.

Invite people into the relationships I want to have: I am incredibly social. I love having friends and hanging out. I make friends easily, but making couple friends is really hard. It’s hard to find people who you both mesh with and couples are really busy so its hard to plan times to hang out. Back home we had an amazing group of couple friends we met through our church small group. Our church here doesn’t have really any couples and, besides, we spend sooooo much time with work people because our work schedule is crazy. So I realized I needed to stop fighting it and create the friend group that I wanted. All friendships start because someone says ‘hey lets hang out’ and I thought why can’t that person be me?! So I got intentional about inviting other couples out to dinner. Then I thought ‘let’s just all be friends!’. We invited all the married couples without kids, who work with us, over for a game night. Most of them came. We had a great time. At the end everyone agreed to do it once a month. We already know each other (ish) because we all know the same people, teach the same kids, work at the same place. It’s just easy and makes sense. Everyone wants a friend, someone just has to initiate.

The work: getting up the nerve to ask people to hang out. Arranging a date. Providing a snack food.

The benefit: friends, laughter, fun. Relationships with people who are in our same life stage and get what our life is like. Friends make the world go round.

Learn to cook the foods I want: I love food. So much. The US has some really great, simple foods. Like biscuits in cans. Icing to go with your soft pretzels. Bakeries full of fresh breads. I miss those things. But they don’t do those kinds of things here. So for a while, I did without. But I missed those things and realized if I just quit being lazy and did some googling, searched out ingredients and tried I could make all those things.

The work: finding ingredients, recipes and taking the time to try new recipes.

The benefit: having the most delicious foods from home + a new cooking skill!

All of these problems were solved when I looked around at who and what were around me and how those things could help get me to where I wanted to be. None of them involved me quitting my job or giving up all my free time. It didn’t involve tons of money or investment or a degree. It just took me being brave, stepping up and figuring it out. I made it happen. I didn’t rely on anyone else to make the first move or do it for me. Being resourceful looks different in everyone’s life, but everyone has that skill and ability. Use it. Use your resources. Work with people. With the things you have. Who knows what relationships will grow out of it, what skills you will learn. I promise you will only gain from these experiences.

What areas of your life do you need to be more resourceful in? Make a plan today and act on it and/or ask for help. Don’t wait.

Want to be in a book club with books YOU actually like? Pick a book, send out an email with a meeting place, google some questions to start your discussion. Want a support group for people like you? Ask people like you to be in it and share what your vision is and just keep showing up every week. It really can be that simple. You don’t have to be an expert or know how to do it. Just start.

Share in the comments what you are going to do or what you have done so we can learn from you! 

New cards in the shop

Hi friends, I just wanted to drop in really quickly and tell you that I have put a new set of the adventure cards in the shop in green! I got the color from the most perfect palm tree as requested by the winner of my giveaway last week.

Adventure Project Life Cards by Lauren Likes

We are leaving for Hawaii on Saturday and I have visions of palm trees and beaches dancing in my head! Im so excited to be able to document our trip with these cards. Pop over to the shop and pick up a set!

What I have learned living in Korea Vol 4

Things I have learned living in  Korea by Lauren-LikesThis is a list of musings, of observations, of hard and fast facts, of opinions, of completely made up fairy tales. These are things I have learned since I have moved to Korea. Things about myself, things about Korea and things about things. Believe them or not, I believe them to be true.

  • There is a very distinct difference in desserts here. Cakes are much more dry and are not rich and sweet. But GiGi’s opened a Cupcake shop close to us and they are the real deal. Moist, thick, rich, huge American cake + frosting.
  • For an average meal here we pay $25-$40. In the USA that would be the nicest meal we ate all week month. Here that two sandwiches, one coke and a plate of fries to share.
  • Koreans do NOT write their names in red pen.
  • Due to Asian laws/regulations, to protect privacy, all camera shutters must make the clicking sound. It’s very loud, annoying and totally harshes my ability to take secret shots of people doing embarrassing things. There is no way to turn it off. And no one here cares. During concerts or events people will snap a picture, their phones make an incredibly loud noise and no one thinks twice about it.
  • The Starbucks here have a seasonal flavor: Cherry Blossom. Sounds so weird, tastes so delicious. Vanilla Cherry Blossom Latte. Yes Please. Cherry Blossom Frappuccino. Yum.
  • People here are incredibly helpful. I was in the grocery store looking for vanilla extract. I was doing a terrible job explaining to the worker in my terrible Korean, so a nice lady came over and translated for me. Then helped me search. The determined they didn’t have it. So I gave up. A while later she ran up to me with a bottle of vanilla syrup that she thought would work. She was more committed to my search than I was. So very kind.
  • I make everything from scratch. I get crazy food cravings because I really like food. The other day I needed biscuits, but they don’t sell biscuits in a can here like they do back home. So I made them from scratch, like I even had to make the ingredients from scratch before I could follow the from scratch recipe. I am really impressed actually with how much I have learned and really like cooking this way, but it is so time intensive. But I’m really grateful to still be able to enjoy the foods we like.
  • Musicians here start young and are so talented.
  • Famous conductors are really funny and like to interact with the audience here.
  • It’s hard to be 16.
  • Taking the subway is the best/easiest/cheapest/fastest way to get to the airport.
  • Kids here don’t like to get out of class, even for fun things! They are so committed to their studies. But will still slack off just like the best of us, it’s more about the appearance of being in the classroom not necessarily about doing the work, sometimes.
  • Koreans are so serious about everything they do. They do everything 500%.
  • I like going for walks anywhere and everywhere in this world.
  • The college areas here are the coolest.
  • It goes from frigid to really great weather in a day here.
  • No one cares what the weather is, everyone is still out and about on the streets.
  • It’s amazing how much you can figure out just using charades. Not knowing Korean has not hampered our lifestyle at all here. We are so grateful.
  • The time difference between here and back home is still so strange and hard to get used to.
  • Korea (and most of the world) doesn’t observe day lights savings and I love that.
  • I will never be able to fully explore Korea or even Seoul. Even if I tried to just master one small area, by the time I got 3/4 of the way through it half of the businesses would have changed.
  • You truly can get any kind of food here. We tried one of the multiple Russian places and it was ohhhhh soooooo goood.
  • Koreans and Americans have very different definitions of fried chicken. Some places it is amazing. Some places it is gray and soggy. What even is that?!
  • We found a place that sells waffle fries and the most delicious Philly Cheesesteaks. We are set for life.

Want more Korea tidbits?! Check out Vol 1, Vol 2 , Vol 3

 

Phuket, Thailand

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I don’t know if you can believe it, but I am FINALLY at the end of my Thailand pictures. It only took us three months to make it all the way through our three weeks worth of photos and I spared you guys, truly. This was the last 36 hours of our trip. We had no plans when we arrived and were pretty exhausted. This is where we were ready to just go home. But we made the most of it! We spent the afternoon wandering around Old Phuket City and the next day at Patong Beach because it’s the main tourist area and the most famous so we figured we might as well experience it. The city was pretty cool to wander through, lots of markets and shopping. The beach was incredibly packed and so touristy, but really entertaining, there was a lot to wander around and see/do/eat here.

So long Thailand photos! Next, I’ll share our travel stories, itinerary and tips with you!

See all the Thailand posts here:Chaing Mai, Bangkok, Kanchaniburi, Professional shots, Krabi2015-01-06 16.10.32 2015-01-06 16.12.50 2015-01-06 16.17.08 2015-01-06 16.18.19 2015-01-06 16.19.55 2015-01-06 16.22.08 2015-01-06 16.33.45 2015-01-06 21.02.01-1 2015-01-07 14.16.09 2015-01-07 15.05.41 2015-01-07 16.22.55 2015-01-07 16.34.49 2015-01-07 16.36.54 2015-01-07 16.38.55-2 2015-01-08 14.46.01

Lauren Likes Designs Digital Stamps + Freebies!

Digital Stamps by Lauren Likes DesignsTHANK YOU SO MUCH FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR YOUR WONDERFUL RESPONSE TO THE LAUNCH OF LAUREN LIKES DESIGNS! 

I am so over the moon excited about these products and I cannot wait to see what you are going to make with them. Yesterday I shared about my Project Life cards and today I want to share with you about my Digital Stamps. These are my internet crusade!

I want everyone to know that you don’t need Photoshop to use Digital Elements!! 

I designed these with phone users in mind. When you purchase a stamp set you will receive the abr, png and jpg files. These can be used in Photoshop and the jpgs can be used in any program.

Digital Stamps by Lauren Likes Designs

And I’m going to show you exactly how! I made a video tutorial that walks you through, step by step, how I use digital stamps on my phone. (Video tutorial is at the bottom of the post.)

I did a photo tutorial here if that is easier for you to follow. 

Adventure Script Stamps by Lauren Likes Designs

I am so excited about these stamps. The Adventure Script set I hand-lettered using watercolors. Some have a solid appearance and some look like you literally painted right onto your photo. (Side note: we should totally do that! Remind me to do that soon) They are SO fun.

Lets Get Lost

Digital Stamps by Lauren Likes Designs

Then there is my favorite set: The Modern Adventure Stamps. These are a really cool, hipster/modern mix of texts + hand drawn elements. What I love most about digital stamps is how versatile they are! You can do so much with them and all on your phone!Modern Adventure stamps by Lauren Likes Designs

Lets Go Everywhere Free Digital Stamp from Lauren Likes + Tutorial on how to use digital stamps on your phone

If you just aren’t sure if digital stamps are for you, I want to give you one for you to try and see.

So download the Let’s Go Everywhere stamp for free and follow the video tutorial to see how fun they can be!

Download Let’s Go jpg Here or right-click save the image below. Lets Go Everywhere

Once your stamp is saved as a jpg on your phone, you will need to choose an app to use. The easiest and the cheapest app is Mystic. It is 99cent in the app store. This is the app I use in the video.

Also, note that in the mystic app you can change the opacity and color of the stamp also.

So. Much. Fun.

If you are sold on your new technique of using digital products on your phone, I would be so honored if you chose to use my stamps to help you document your adventures. Here is a combo set of the scripted and modern set discounted. Make sure you use the #laurenlikesdesigns hashtag and share your projects on instagram so I can see.

Thank you so much for sharing in my excitement and for your support for this new endeavour. You guys are amazing.

Introducing Lauren Likes Designs!

Lauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsI have no words to truly explain what I feel right now. I have been working on this idea for a year now. And it’s here, just like that. With the simple push of the publish button. My designs, my hopes, my dreams are out in the open for the world to see. Thanks to the push from my best creative friends, I am officially launching Lauren-Likes Designs into the world! This is my metaphorical toe in the water. Just to see how it feels.  I want to jump in head first, but I’m being smart and brave at the same time. So here are my first few designs for you world. There are so many more coming….

The first thing I designed were these blue Project Life cards because, well, I wanted them! I have been waiting on this exact kit to be created for years….but no one ever did it. So I got tired of waiting. As you know, travel, crafting and storytelling are my thing. I needed Project Life cards that would help me document our adventures in the way that I loved: modern, simple designs that accentuated my photos. The blue color kept popping up in every photo I took, the ocean, the sky, and I knew it had to be my first color for these cards. I also created them in the yellow color that matched the Midnight edition, because I use it most frequently and in black and white because, well duh.

All three sets are available in my Etsy shop for you right now! When you purchase them you get the PDFs + JPG files to print them at home and re-use them as often as you would like!

PS There is a fun giveaway at the bottom of the post. 

PPS. If you sign up for the newsletter in the next 24 hours you will receive a fun freebie + a coupon code for the shop! Lauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsAdventure Project Life Cards by  Lauren Likes DesignsAdventure Project Life cards by Lauren Likes DesignsAdventure Project Life Cards by Lauren Likes Designs

These are some fun pages I put together using the cards to use an example for you. But I can’t wait for our Hawaii trip in two weeks to really put these to good use!

Lauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsLauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsLauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsLauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsLauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsAnd! because I love my blog readers a ton I am going to giveaway a set of these cards! Just leave a comment with what color YOU would like to see them in and I will make them for you + my shop and send them along to you for free. Giveaway winner will be announced on Friday March 13th on this post, so be sure to check back then. Lauren Likes Designs Adventure Project Life CardsPPPS if you notice in the shop there are some REALLY FUN digital stamps! Ill share all about those tomorrow!

****GIVEAWAY CLOSED 3/14/15. Winner is Tracy. Email me and I will get you your cards! Green cards will be up in the shop mid week next week!

Krabi, Thailand

2015-01-03 09.44.20

Warning: This post is extremely photo heavy. 

Spoiler: This was the best part of trip.

Words here, photos below and remember I’m sharing photo heavy posts, then I’ll share an itinerary, tips, stories etc later so all the info is easier to digest.

We left Bangkok (missed our flight, but found another easily) and arrived at the Banana’s Bungalow which is right outside of Krabi. I will just sum up to say I wish we had stayed here our whole time and it may be one of the best places we have ever stayed during any of our travels. Ever. (photos of the ‘resort’ are near the bottom) Resort is used lightly, but is a great way to describe it. We stayed in bamboo bungalows (so cheap) right by the water/kind of swampy bay area. There was a full service kitchen and the most helpful staff. They arranged trips for us, helped us rent scooters, bikes, etc. You could literally not leave the resort for weeks and it would be magical. But within walking distance there were Secret, hidden beaches. Deserted beaches.  Magic Beaches. Everything turned around for us on this leg of the trip. It was blissful. We went to Secret Beach, Coconut Beach, Railey Island and three other islands only reachable by boat. This is also where I learned my new life philosophy: Always travel by boat. This area was the perfect combination of relaxing + adventuring for us. We cant wait to go back!

Ps it just looks like a magazine everywhere you look here. All photos are unedited. I wish I could convey the beauty and hugeness of the cliffs. These waters are just breathtaking. You can only understand if you experience it in person. 2015-01-03 10.24.09-1 2015-01-03 10.27.23 HDR 2015-01-03 10.28.47 HDR 2015-01-03 10.40.55-1 2015-01-03 11.18.48Photos taken with my iPhone 5s using a LifeProof Case.2015-01-03 11.19.14 2015-01-03 11.19.18 2015-01-03 11.19.19 2015-01-03 11.20.34 2015-01-03 11.25.18 2015-01-03 13.34.55 2015-01-03 13.36.36 2015-01-03 15.01.29 2015-01-03 15.29.17 Secret Beach2015-01-03 15.37.05 2015-01-03 15.38.00 2015-01-03 16.10.13 2015-01-03 16.17.30 2015-01-03 16.25.30 2015-01-04 12.33.58 2015-01-04 15.14.47 2015-01-04 16.42.12 2015-01-04 16.46.26 HDR-2 Railey Beaches2015-01-04 16.49.20 2015-01-04 16.53.22 2015-01-04 16.53.34-2 2015-01-04 16.54.59 2015-01-04 16.57.01-1 Bananas Bungalows! 2015-01-05 13.12.08 2015-01-05 13.13.21 2015-01-05 13.13.37 2015-01-05 13.16.41 2015-01-05 15.29.48 HDR-2 2015-01-05 15.46.14 HDR 2015-01-05 15.53.28 2015-01-05 15.53.32 2015-01-05 16.13.52 2015-01-05 18.28.09 2015-01-06 10.02.52 2015-01-06 10.03.54 PS take the ferry from Krabi to Phuket. ALWAYS TRAVEL BY BOAT! 2015-01-06 10.33.52 HDR-2 2015-01-06 10.34.34IMG_9126 IMG_9130 IMG_9142 IMG_9146 IMG_9149IMG_9164 IMG_9170 IMG_9177 IMG_9179 IMG_9182 IMG_9183 IMG_9197 More Railey beachesIMG_9202 IMG_9206 IMG_9212 Coconut Beach IMG_9214 IMG_9218 IMG_9222More photos from this trip: Chaing Mai, Bangkok, Kanchaniburi, Professional shots

 

Hometown Grad

How going to college in my hometown changed the trajectory of my lifeOr this post could be titled: Look at all the ridiculous hair styles and colors I used to have. (ps didn’t even show you half of them because some things just don’t need to be on the internet…)

Photos in this post are from my college days, just look at those babies! college 1

First, my story of how I graduated high school a year early and how I chose the college in my hometown with 2 simple questions.

I grew up on the outskirts of a medium-sized town right under Charlotte, NC  (on the South Carolina side). It was perfect. We lived in a giant field surrounded by lots of other giant fields. Lots of room to run and play but there were three Walmarts within a 15-20 minute drive. In my hometown there was a small, but great technical college and a medium-sized, public university. But, we were kids who couldn’t wait to get out of there. Drop that hick town and head down the road to Clemson or USC or to live on the beautiful coast of Charleston. Seriously, I don’t think a single person in  my high school considered another school besides these three. I was on track to go to USC, join a sorority, attend football games and party all night long every weekend. Because, that’s just what you do, right?

Well, that’s what we all believed. college 2

A week before Junior year I went into the school to count textbooks as part of a club (I have no recollection as to why this was an activity we did as a service type club but we did) and, for some also unknown reason, I stopped in to see my guidance counselor. Note: this was not something I did, ever. She looks at my transcript and says ‘You have enough credit to graduate at the end of this year, pending you pass all your classes. Have your mom come sign the papers tomorrow‘. And she did. The next day.

The conversation went like this:

Me: Ms. Jackson said I can graduate early

My mom: Ok. Only if you stay home next year, live at home, go to the tech school and then you can go to whatever college you want.

Me: OK

These 2 incredibly, unfathomably simple conversations changed my life. Everything I knew changed right there. All my plans. At that time I thought my plans were still on track. I would go to the tech school, get my basic courses done and then the next year when my friends graduated we will all ride off to USC and start our college days. I had no idea how wrong those thoughts were. And I am so glad…. college 3I start York Technical College by walking in and literally signing up. I learned that day that you don’t apply to tech schools, you just go. Also, my mom and I were in college together that semester. She had gone back to school and it was weird and cool. She took early classes and would call me and say ‘come pull into my parking spot’ (there was limited parking at school) and I would say ‘I’m still in bed I’m going to be late for class’. As you can imagine she wasn’t thrilled with this answer…. So it wasn’t always fun to go to college with your mom…ByrnesAuditorium(1)Photo source 

My first week of school I sent a Facebook message to my high school young life leader (who’s in college at the university in town) just because I need to make friends and don’t know what to do because reality hit that first week that my friends were all in high school still and we had completely different lives now. First sign of change appears. My Young Life leader says, yeah lets hang out Wednesday, lets get coffee and go to this fun thing. So I show up at Young Life Leader Training. And have a freaking blast. These college kids are soooooo cool and so fun and totally invite me to hang out with them. Second sign of change appears. From this day forward there are no questions, these people are my friends and Im a Young Life Leader. But before my Young Life Director will allow me to become a leader officially he needs to know that I am invested and will stay in town and go to the local university. Can you guess what I said? OK.college 4This third, insanely simple conversation has officially cemented in the path of my life. You should know that this is spring semester and Ive spent the last 6 months hanging out on the university’s campus, making friends that would be in my daily life 10 years later and falling in love with it. So this choice was a no brainer. Just like graduating early was. Tillman1Photo source college 5From here I transfer to Winthrop University which is a liberal arts college, that is teeming with hippies, has no football team, has less than 10,000 students, is about a city block big and only has two ridiculous (and small) sororities. The opposite of what I had imagined my college experience looking like. I choose Social Work as my major, instead of Interior Design. I have classes with 12 girls, 4 professors in the department and we delve into every social issue imaginable. I become highly involved in the high school I am leading Young Life at. Im eating lunch there, coaching dance, planning events for high school students and taking them to camps. I move in with other Young Life leaders. We stay up late, build fires, eat junk food, play pranks, dress up in weird costumes at least once a week. I work tons of crappy jobs to pay rent, eat Chic-Fil-A and Japanese hibachi takeout weekly, oh and to pay for college. Its the most amazing four years of my life. I meet my husband, I travel, I make friends.

It’s the perfect college experience that I didn’t imagine. I wish it on everyone. college 6The past and the future come face to face.

As a child I did not go to summer camp where you learn to canoe and tie knots and climb things. I went to Writing Camp. And it was AWESOME. So snark away. I went to a writing camp that was put on at the aforementioned local university. Winthrop had a lake and this is a very loose use of the work ‘lake’. It’s a pond ok. There’s a big, gorgeous, historic building called The Shack at the lake and that’s where camp was. Here I learned that writing fiction was not my calling, but I loved writing (cough cough future blogger in the making). I remember sitting outside the shack digging deep into my elementary/middle school soul to write for this program.wu 3Photo Source

Growing up we also frequented the lake as a family and then with my friends in high school. The Shack side of the lake was the ‘family or townie side’. There was parking and shade and lots of community events over here. I remember looking out on that, then seemingly huge, lake and relishing my childhood, the things I was learning and the friends I had. We had adventures and picnics. It was magical.

I never in a million years dreamed I was staring straight into the face of my future. wu 4Photo Source 

wu 5Photo Source

Fast forward years later and I am sitting on the ‘college side’ of the lake. I am lying in the grass. I have a stack of books I’m pretending to study. My friends are throwing frisbees over me and lounging beside me. We are soaking up the sun, the endless amounts of freetime and the freedom of doing nothing but exactly what we want to. I sit up and stare across the lake at The Shack. I see my childhood staring back at me. But I don’t even realize it.

The threads of my life came be traced by walking a circle around that lake. college 7

The reflecting part: What I learned by going to college in my hometown. 

I was given this beautiful gift. I was able to live in two completely different towns that were one. Growing up I lived in the ‘this road takes me to my high school’ and ‘this road is the church road’ and ‘lets go to the grocery store side of town’. But in college I lived in the ‘campus area’ the ‘indie art and record shop road’ the ‘cool coffee shop’ area. I was introduced to my town through the eyes of outsiders. Most of my friends were  from out of town. And they LOVED my town. It was so new to them and had so many exciting things in it. The few city blocks surrounding the college had truly taken on a life and culture of its own, apart from what I knew of high school football friday nights and dance practice after school. I truly had moved to a brand new town, but I had the secret gift of not being able to get lost. I didn’t need directions to new places, I just needed to develop new eyes to see the places.

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I also learned that my family is amazing….when you live 20 minutes away from them and not with them…. Lets just say I (and they) were blessed by my ability to come home for dinner or to help with something without ever having to move back in or stay over. We all know, it’s a very hard transition for a college student/their parents to go back and forth between living independently and being back at home again. I didn’t have this issue, because my own house was close enough to not need that place to stay to be able to be home on holidays or for summer, etc.

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I learned that connections and relationships make the world go round. Being in my hometown I never had to look far to get a job or find a free meal. I knew people. I had known them my whole life. Anytime myself or my friends needed something I always knew who/where they should go. Because this was MY town. I loved that. My friends loved that.

college 8I experienced healing in relationships. We all know that high school and the simple act of growing up doesn’t always leave the most pleasant tastes in ones mouth….But by sticking around I was able to meld the maturity I was experiencing in my formidable growing up years to the awkward grocery store interactions with high school awkwardness. It is so freeing.

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I was able to say good-bye to my town in the right way. Had I flown the coop right after high school, my hometown would always be that bitter place of high school drama and teenage angst and the desire to run far and fast. But because I fell in love with this place in a whole new way, leaving was very bittersweet. I was ready, I knew I needed to branch out and was ready to begin my life of moving, travelling and exploring. But I wasnt leaving out of hatred or running from things, I was leaving because it was time. It was a natural transition. I got married, we pursued our graduated degrees in a new town (that we also fell in love with) and then began our international career. Happy, but hard transitions.

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Which brings up the fact that all my friends and family are all in one place! For some reason, most of my besties stuck around in their new town after graduation. So when I go home, I go Home. I see family, friends, my past and my present. It’s such a gift.college 13

It saved me money. I lived at home and went to the technical school the first year. Best idea ever. I saved so much money not paying rent and not paying expensive tuition, got the same education and still had the same ‘fun’ experiences. My last semester I had a full time internship with the city solicitor as a victims advocate and I got engaged. This meant my 3 part time jobs were about to go down to 1. AKA no more money for rent, oh and I really wanted to get married and apparently you have to have money for that…So I was able to move in with my wonderful grandma (hey gram!) to save money. This was such a fun little time and Im so glad I got to share that with her. Oh and thanks again for the free rent gram! Oh and if you count all the meals at home and all the home supplies I ‘borrowed’ from my parents, I would never have been able to come out of college debt free had I lived far away and had to pay for all of things. college 14

Going to college in my hometown healed it. It changed me. It gave me and my town a second change. It cemented my relationships. It was a gift. I can revisit this town anytime I want. I can go back and stroll the campus. I can go back and eat grandma’s mac and cheese. Your hometown you grow up in and your college town are the two places, I believe, where you see the most growth, change, challenges and big events. I am so lucky I was able to braid the two together creating a woven life of childhood laughter and the antics of 20 year olds out at midnight eating Waffle House and looking for an adventure. 

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My college besties/roommates/life partners + mentors two days before I moved to Korea.   

Freebie + Newsletter

Big things are happening. Big. I’m really excited and I’m really nervous about them. I cant wait to show you/tell you everything. But for now, I would love it if you joined me and became an insider. Sign up to receive my newsletter and I’ll share all my secrets with you and send you really fun free stuff. You will hear from me once a month in your email inbox and it be chocked full of goodness. Lauren Likes Free Printable Adventure ListFor the first month, I’ll be sending you this super fun, free bucketlist printable + sending out my really exciting announcement.

You can use the printable for any kind of travel/adventure/plans. I’m using one on our refrigerator right now to keep a list of things we want to do in our city. We are always hearing of cool things to do but then forget. So when we have a free Saturday we just sit and stare at each other. This way I can write down those great ideas and when we have some free time I can consult our list for ideas!

You can use them to plan your trips, make a list of must eat foods, top tourist attractions, photos to take and more! Lauren Likes Free Printable 1I also am including these in Project Life 3×4 printable sizes to go in your album. That skyline is just too cute to not have in an album.Lauren Likes Free square 2I can’t see what you guys do with them! Make sure you tag me @laurenlikesblog (on instagram) and use the #laurenlikesdesigns so I can see.

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