Changing Directions: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

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When I was younger I always thought I wanted to be a jockey.  I was convinced that I was going to professionally ride horses and win the Triple Crown.  Don’t even think about telling me that’s not where I would be right after high school.  Now that I’m 26 I have started re-evaluating what I want to be doing in the next year, in the next five years.  Needless to say, I am not professionally riding horses, I barely even be in a barn due to extreme allergies to, well, horses themselves.  Here I am, an AmeriCorps volunteer working for less than minimum wage trying to gain the skills it takes to be professionally successful in this day and age.

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I think that I have finally figured out what I want to do.  Now, I have been going back and forth between ideas about possible jobs for over a year now, trying in vain to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I finally have decided that I want to go back to school and learn how to do website and graphic design to start my own firm.  I always knew I wanted to work for myself and start my own business, even when I was younger I always envisioned myself being my own boss.  So, I started brainstorming ways that I could do something I loved while actually making money.

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Since I am currently on the tightest budget ever (less than $800/month), I can’t afford the program or a new computer.  Naturally, I started trying to come up with ways that I could raise the money without having to take out a loan on something I probably won’t be able to pay back for a couple of years.  What better option than crowdfunding?  I set up my account and quickly raised $70, mostly from friends.  My goal is to raise $5,000 to buy a new computer and pay for $3,500 in classes for the next year.  Check out my site here to read more details about what I’m doing and where I want to go, now that I finally have some direction.

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Do you have a crowdfunding account?  If so, how have you been successful?  What are some strategies you have employed that worked for you (other than blasting your Facebook and Twitter fans)?  Any other suggestions?

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Las Aguas Termales, Mérida, Venezuela

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Hiking up to Las Aguas Termales is not the easiest hike.  But, you will be rewarded with great views and a natural hot spring that’s been turned into a large hot tub.  If you decide to camp up in the mountains, be prepared because it gets very cold at night and the altitude can cause you to feel sick (as it did with me).

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We hiked up to Las Aguas Termales and during the early afternoon it was hot and sunny, you could see forever past all the mountains and through the valleys.  As the afternoon wore on, the clouds came in and it became chilly and extremely foggy.  We sat in the hot spring for the majority of the afternoon and then set up our tents on the side of a mountain away from all the other campers.  We weren’t very prepared and therefore the night was long, cold, and I ended up getting altitude sickness.  We tried to make a fire, but as we were above 10,000 feet almost all the trees were small, spruce like trees that don’t burn.  After the fog had cleared away everything was damp and we had no lighter fluid.  In addition, we had no sleeping bags, no blankets, and no pillows.  So, as you can imagine, it was a long night.  I will never forget how we tried to stay warm and tried in vain to keep the fire going.

The best part of the night was that we all sat outside for hours laughing, making jokes, and drinking rum to warm our stomachs.  Even though the night was pretty much a complete disaster and one of the worst nights ever, I puked from altitude sickness and had the worst case of the spins since being in high school.  One of the things I won’t ever forget though is how many stars you could see in the night sky.  With our fire being the only air pollution for miles, we were able to see stars that you can only see when you get close to the heavens.  We searched for shapes and outlined galaxies in our minds as we laid on our backs and peered into the night sky.

Rediscover Your City With Photography And Food

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Looking at a blank page and trying to come up with a great blog post is anything but easy.  Sometimes I feel like everyone else has it all figured out and I wonder how they get all these creative ideas.  So, what I decided I needed to do was go around my city (Austin, TX) and rediscover what made me fall in love with it.  When we are used to seeing the same thing over and over again it can be hard to see it in a new light.  I suppose that is what photography is all about, looking at things through a different lens.  On my journey I followed the throngs of people on South Congress Ave and walked through the side streets speckled with local businesses and a variety of different homes.  I was able to remember how diverse Austin is and how lucky I am to be living in not only an economically booming city, but a city where people are down to earth and aren’t afraid to show their southern hospitality.

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One of my favorite things about Austin is the food.  It’s almost impossible to come to Austin and not appreciate the array of food trucks and the casual atmosphere.  If you can bear the heat, walk up and down South Congress Ave and then over to South 1st St to see all the local businesses and food options.  Definitely arrive on an empty stomach because you will be trying several different types of food ranging from fried chicken to tacos to kebabs.  If you do happen to arrive on a full stomach don’t worry because there is plenty for you to do in this area that doesn’t include eating.  Check out some of the local bookstores or grab a coffee at Jo’s or Tom’s Roasting Co.  Then head over to Tesoros Trading Company to see some folk arts and crafts from around the world.

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So I challenge you to go rediscover your city.  You never know what you will find.  What city are you living in now?

Lake Bled, Slovenia

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Lake Bled, Slovenia

 Imagine yourself being rowed across a crystal clear blue lake, the sun shining, warming your back as you row out to the only island in Slovenia.  This church was built hundreds of years ago and the bell at the church is said to bring good luck to those who ring it.  You can rent your own boat or have one of the oarsmen row you across.  The oarsmen are highly respected, the profession has been passed down for generations by their fathers.  They are not seen as simply a person who rows a boat, they are professionals and use a special technique that is taught over many years.  If you find yourself in Slovenia you cannot afford to miss Lake Bled.

Vineyards, Wine, and Churches: Everything There Is To Love About Vienna, Austria

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I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last post!  There have been plenty of adventures to talk about but, my favorite was my very first trip to Europe.  My sister lives in Vienna, Austria right now while she studies for her PhD at the University of Vienna.  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go and stay with her for two full weeks.

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The first week I spent in Vienna it rained almost the whole time and was about 55 degrees every day!  This was less than ideal but, Vienna has a certain charm and beauty that can’t be over shadowed by rain and storms.  I spent my days wandering the grounds of large palaces like Schonbrunn and watching the Lippazaners perform their dances that date back hundreds of years ago.  Coming from the Midwest, Minnesota specifically, the history was incredible to me.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around how old everything was, and how much thought was put into every detail.

Vienna is a city of old grandeur and romance.  The Viennese are not exactly the most outgoing people but, they are friendly and luckily almost everyone speaks perfect English (since my German speaking abilities end at Dankeshein).  There is an infinite number of things to do in the city and if you’re a big museum goer it is well worth buying the museum package to save money.  It also must be mentioned that you should not go to Vienna expecting to eat super healthy, unless you don’t like chocolate, wine, or cheese.

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The Viennese woods are a great escape from the city and offer lush greenery surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful wineries.  We hiked up through the woods to the top of one of the highest peaks in Vienna and were rewarded with an amazing view of the entire city and a cute cafe that served wine, coffee, and ice cream.  Don’t be shocked when an entire tour bus of Japanese tourists overflow the area in their matching colorful wind suits and fancy Nikon cameras.  They only stay a few minutes so it’s worth it to wait a minute and you will be rewarded with a few moments alone.

 

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Everyone knows that Vienna is filled with amazing churches that include dramatic monasteries, wine cellars, and sometimes art galleries.  We arrived at one of the monasteries just outside of Vienna in the late afternoon and saw that a funeral was just ending.  It must have been for someone important because there were many high ranking officials and members of the church present.  The beauty of the grounds was mesmerizing.  I’m not religious by any means, yet somehow knowing that people had been coming to this spot for hundreds of years to pray was very humbling.  It’s one of those times where you can sit back and marvel in the world and that exact moment.

 

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In general Vienna is not extraordinarily cheap and if you do like museums and to eat out a lot, expect to spend money.  However, I felt that I was able to do it very cheaply by not visiting all museums, just seeing the ones I wanted, and not adding in all the little extras that cost a couple euro here and there.  I also held back and did not do any shopping (which is very difficult for me)!  Simply take a walk down the side streets and explore the heart of what Vienna is, you will be surprised by the architecture and little nooks and crannies that accompany all the unique doors and buildings.