Adventure

Two Weeks Out West

 

IMG_9006.JPG 2If you spend two weeks with someone couch hopping, camping in trees, sleeping in the car, abandoning your car for 7 hours because they may or may not have gotten it stuck in sand at the beach AND you only wanted to kill each other twice during the whole thing, then you 100% found the perfect traveling partner in crime (take breath here). Thanks Joey for not only being a cool individual, but for taking an eye opening and life changing trip with me.
My best friend, Joey, and I have been talking for months about taking a trip out west. When I returned from my four week trip from Germany, I caught the case of the travel bug and knew we had to do this trip. We picked a date and said no matter what, we are five thousand percent doing this. As I mentioned in my past blog post, Making Decisions I mentioned how I made the decision that I wanted to take a break from school. I couldn’t be more happy about this decision because if I went back, I would have never had this wonderful experience.

Our trip consisted of four states: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Each state filled with beauty, so different from one another. Traveling is so important, especially exploring the beauties of your very own country. It’s unfortunate that not everyone has the means or opportunity to go out there and explore. If you’re able to, don’t take it for granted!!

Here are some sights to see/stay when out west: 

Chautauqua. Boulder, CO

 

 

White Sands, New Mexico

 

Absolutely amazing. We had no idea what to expect when we decided to take a trip down to the historic White Sands, but we are so glad we did. We both thought we would just stop by to take a look, and ended up staying for a good couple hours.

 

Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley Arizona

 

 

CAMPING IN MONUMENT VALLEY IS A MUST

 

Joey and I agree that this is the best campsite that we will ever go to. It cost $20 to enter the native land and another $20 to camp, but is completely worth it. You get to choose where on the site you want to set up, and then you are in for a night of beautiful views. While setting up, we met two absolutely inspiring people. One was a gentlemen from Quebec, Canada and the other was a young lady from Japan. Both decided to drive alone and travel the country!! Definitely an amazing way to meet people from all around the word!

 

Lone Rock Beach Campground Lake Powell, Utah

Another fantastic camping spot IF YOU DON’T GET STUCK IN THE SAND. Do not drive a FWD car on the beach… just don’t do it.. We had to leave my car by itself for 7 hours while we slept and then had someone tow my poor car out. But other than that, the views were absolutely amazing and so much fun camping on the beach! Only $14 for the night!

 

Middle Mountain Campground, San Juan National Forest in the Lower Rockies, CO

 

On our way from Monument Valley, we found a hidden gem in the San Juan National Forest. This was such a perfect spot along the lake. It had great reviews as well as a welcoming atmosphere from the owner. Only $24 to camp for the night! I wish we could have stayed longer, but we were running low on days and needed to make our way back up the rockies to Boulder, once again.

This 13 day trip out west was an opportunity not many people have, and I am truly grateful I was able to have such a fulfilling and successful trip with one of my closest friends. Let’s see where this adventure bug has me going next!!

Nina

 

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Appreciation

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As I sat amongst my cohorts during graduation, I sat in silence while nearly 900 individuals where called up to receive their token of hard work. It almost seemed unreal. Sometimes it still seems unreal. Through laughter, tears, struggle, love, SHINGLES, I was seconds away from hearing my name and walking across a stage to end one of the most impactful and life changing chapters in my life. While each name of the 2017 graduating class was announced, I continued to sit in silence. My peers wondered why I didn’t seem excited or why I was so quiet. I would gently give a smirk, look down at my lap, and continued to read the blue booklet that included the names of the class graduates. I read every single name. Calming my mind and appreciating those who went through their own obstacles to get to where we all were that day. Graduation.

I wish I could say how I felt when my name was read. Relief, excitement, nervous? I honestly don’t remember what I was thinking. The adrenalin and the anticipation to get off the stage while repeating to myself “don’t trip” was overwhelming. Walking across the stage and shaking hands with the president of the University is one fat blur. If I didn’t have a picture to prove it, I would almost not believe it happened. As soon as I sat back in my seat, it all hit me. Holy shit. I just walked across the stage to end my undergrad career. And every single person who did deserves it. I always joke with myself “who is letting me graduate?” or saying I am a hot mess. In all honestly, I am a badass who just graduated with my bachelors in social work! I did it. And I knew it would happen. Yes, I had doubts, but in my heart I always knew that in order to achieve my dreams, I have to accomplish an obstacle. I decided to stop saying it is unbelievable because it is believable! I have learned so much about myself and have pushed myself to abundant amounts of limitations and graduated. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

My heart is full. Beautifully, overwhelmingly full. Through challenging months, I have experienced and witnessed unconditional love from family and friends, but most importantly, I have received this love from myself. An appreciation for my sense of adventure, persistence, and optimistic mindset has evolved, grown, and lightened throughout the years. Most importantly, this has occurred the day I ended my chapter as an undergrad.

I am excited to start my new story. Sunday I leave for a four week adventure in Germany with family. I am grateful to have so many opportunities, and even more grateful to see family that I haven’t seen in awhile. As soon as I return, I begin another adventure with continuing my education in Yoga school. I may have graduated, but this Social Worker will never stand still.

Much love and appreciation.

Nina T. Catalano, BSW 😉

 

 

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Making Decisions

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For the small handful of people who read my rants, hello again and happy Friday! It has been quite some time since I’ve sat down and did something I personally enjoy doing. School is very challenging right now, especially it being my last semester until GRADUATION! Crazy to think I have made it this far and I couldn’t have done it without support from my wonderful family and friends.

Since I graduate in May (and for those I will be graduating with) naturally, the next step would be to continue my journey in Grad school. I have made the decision to not go right away, and to not even get a job with my social work degree. For some, this is hard to understand, but for me it makes complete sense and I am very confident in this decision. I am also thankful my family understands and are supporting me through this.

Social Work is my passion. I never once doubted my ability to be a successful social worker, nor have I ever had a brain fart in college where I had to change my major because I didn’t like my career decision. With that being said, I have been a full-time student since Freshman year, filling up my class schedule, and even dedicating my summers to school. I will be 21 when I graduate, and that is already a plus! I have discovered myself through this program, and I am completely grateful for it, but I also discovered that there is so much I want to do with myself before completing grad school. I want to be able go on trips, drive to my favorite place in the world in Wisconsin, continue my yoga practice, and so much more. I also discovered that right now, I need to focus on my health.

I never thought I would burn out, but let me tell you, BURN OUT IS SO REAL! I want to be able to go to school excited and ready to learn, not being scared for another health issue I will encounter. Throughout the past year, I have had countless sinus infections, stress hives, horrible acne, and my favorite… SHINGLES! After coming down with shingles a few weeks ago, I knew that this decision of taking time off was a logical one. I need to remember to take care of my own well-being because that is just as important. It is hard sometimes to remember I have to take care of myself if I want to take care of others.

I know I will hear more of “Be careful, it will be hard to go back to school” or “You won’t want to go back”.. Trust me, I WILL go back. It is something that I really want in life and when I am ready, I will go into it whole heartedly and ready to take on my year of graduate school. But until then, I am focussing on graduating in May along with taking care of myself.

So make decisions YOU will be proud of and that YOU are 100% certain about. There is nothing better than doing something  POSITIVE that will benefit you based off of your own decision, whatever that decision may be.

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Thank You, 2016

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As a new year approaches, many people begin to reflect on the year that is coming to an end. From observations based on social media sites and communicating with other people, these reflections usually consist of negative opinions or unfortunate events that leads them to believe the year was a horrible year and the next year will be better. From experiencing loss, heart ache, and struggle myself, I also experienced life, love, and determination.

“We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

2016 should not be defined as a “shitty year”, it should be rephrased as a year that may have had shitty events. But within this year, I have learned many things about myself, other people, and life itself. I don’t want to “leave” this year with negative frustration or poor judgement just because sad and negative things happened within the year, because in all honestly, it will carry on into 2017. The only difference between the old year and the upcoming year is a new number. YOU are in control of how you perceive it.

A popular term used every year by society is “New year, new me”. I think it is fantastic that people want to better themselves, HOWEVER, I think this should be done every day instead of every year! Try rephrasing it to “New day, improved me”. My challenge for everyone is to start their 2017 with not saying “New year, new me”, but living every single day in this new year through struggle, beauty, frustration, and love with “new year, improved me”. Every. Single. Day.

I wish everyone a safe, fulfilling, and peaceful new year. Remember to better  yourself every day and to challenge yourself through wonderful and difficult times.

Nina

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Be Merry, Be Bright, Be Mindful

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Many of us claim this season to be “The most wonderful time of the year“. I’ve had my Christmas decorations up in my room since the beginning of November…. I’m kind of a fan. My favorite part of it is knowing all my friends are coming home from their far away lives and being able to spend time with everyone I love. For this I am eternally grateful and I wish this could be the case for everyone.

I was always aware that holidays can be a touchy subject for some. Not all families are close, and some may not have families or friends to share this time with. Some families experience loss of loved ones or overwhelming memories of the past are regained. This is such a beautiful time of year, but it is important to remember that this is just an opinion and everyone has a different story and past. Keep spreading joy and love to the people around you, however, be mindful that not everyone’s holiday  is the same as yours.

Short and sweet blog to start of December! Although I am very optimistic, I want to stay aware and help everyone be aware of the lives around them.

I do wish everyone a very happy holiday, and my thoughts are with everyone who is or may be encountering difficult times this season.

Nina

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It’s. Okay.

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October went from my favorite month, to my least favorite faster than I can even blink. With that being said, I have found myself in a rut, my homeostatic life style interrupted, and although my passion for social work still being alive, it has been hanging on a thread. Or basically myself hanging off a cliff. Still maintaining my routines as best as I could, I noticed they were not as consistent as I hoped they would be. I believed school, interning, and work had corrupted my life and took away the time I had for myself. For someone who is comfortable with expression and acknowledging my own feelings, I slowly slipped away from it because I always think to myself “Someone else would love to be in my position” or “This isn’t struggling. I’ve seen real struggle throughout my internship”. These thoughts are unhealthy to have. Who says what you are going through isn’t a struggle? Truth is, it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel happy. It’s okay to sometimes not feel anything at all. It is just okay.

It’s okay to cry

Crying is not a sign of weakness. And if it is, it’s okay to feel weak. We are only humans who carry on many obstacles the universe throws at us. We all wish for super powers, so one you can give to yourself is internal strength. With that, being intact with your emotions and acknowledging that you feel like you need to cry in order to release any access stress that is consuming your life, DO IT. Cry it out. Give yourself that super power.

It’s okay to be happy

Sometimes I feel guilty for having a good day and feeling happy or content with where I am in life. I constantly think about the hardships many people my age encounter and their good day might look like only being hit once, or having one meal that day, or so on. My mind is a pool of situations other people are living in that I forget to think about my own life. Where I am and where I want to be. I am a happy person. I am grateful for so many things and would not change my life for anything. I just have to learn how to be okay with this and learn that IT’S OKAY to be happy.

It’s okay to have imperfections

My life is filled with imperfections. As much as I sometimes hate it, I love it. This is what molds you to who you are. It shows the world how you deal with your imperfections in order to continue living a productive, full life. My fuel to prove myself to my own negativity are my imperfections. You are not your imperfections. You are how you choose to live with them.

Remember that it is okay to feel how you are feeling, no matter what the emotion may be. It is okay to love yourself, to love others, and to love the good days and bad. Life can get hard, and that is okay, too.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll try to be okay if you all do the same! 🙂

Nina

 

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September Recap

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‘Tis the season for change and new beginnings. Luckily for us, fall is here since it is, after all, the best season for just that! In my opinion of course. We are looking forward to pumpkin farms, Hocus Pocus, and our oversized sweaters! I know I am. But as September is coming to an end, I think it is important to take the time to look back at what impacted my life in September and things that I enjoyed during this special month.

LOVE –  During this month, I had so much love present in my life. Love from my family, friends, and most importantly myself. 2016 has been a very interesting year, and the past couple months I have been focusing on bettering myself as well as grounding my thoughts to improve my perception of who I am. I have been practicing yoga for two years now, and this year I feel as though it had a greater impact on my life than it did when I first began this practice. Holding a challenging pose for thirty seconds and focusing on your breathing may not seem ideal to most, but that is the time you truly are focusing on YOU and challenging yourself instead of the people and world around you. Love is powerful and even if you cannot find it around you, find it within you. Love yourself.

YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE– As a people pleaser myself, it is very easy for me to try to make everyone happy. I always felt that if I make everyone else happy, I will be happy. However, that is not the case at all. It may be relative happiness based off of how everyone else is feeling, but this feeling will be temporary because it isn’t absolute. Your feelings matter as much as everyone else’s does. Therefore, you need to do what is best for yourself at times even if it is looked at as being “selfish”. Why should taking care of your own well-being be looked at this way? It is important to acknowledge others’ feelings and take them into consideration, but also remember that you are human too and to truly be happy, you need to take care of yourself as well.

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ADULT-ING IS HARD– Shout out to my parents and all the adults out there. I am blessed to still live at home and to have someone cook dinner for me, but being in this internship, going to school full-time, working 20 hour weeks, and managing a social life is rough! But I know I’ll get through it. This past month I realized that I am not the only one. I am going through this with many other people AND many of those people are parents!! I like to think they are super parents because it is absolutely amazing what they are motivated to do and all they are able to get done with having such a busy school and work load. Amazing.

Goodbye September, hello October!! Graduation, where U at??