Travel Journal: New Orleans

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This is a guide for all you homebody introverts who love a good adventure and want to see the world, but don’t love being drained beyond reason by the time you get home. In this series, I share my city tips on how to conserve your introverted energy and have the best time ever all at once. YOU. CAN. DO. IT. Some people like to call this traveling, but I like to call all trips a vacation. Welcome to a vacationer’s guide to easy travel. You’ll see me uses (+) to denote added energy and (-) to denote lost energy. 

5 Things to Do:

Ferry Boat Ride ($2 each way) 
Energy Level: +5

Practical, relaxing and scenic all at once. If you decide to stay across the river from the French Quarter, this provides views, seats, and a very short “cruise” across the Mississippi. Bonus points for a sunset ride and enjoying the water.

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City Park + Sculpture Garden all at once!
Energy Level: -5

This is just a park, but it’s a pretty park with great trees, interesting sculptures, and a playground. It was fun to walk around this area, appreciate the art, and take a break on a bench every once in awhile.

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Bourbon Street
Energy Level: -10000000

We simply just walked down the street and looked around. Josh bought a drink at one of the stands along the street, just to have the rebellious feeling of carrying a drink in the streets. New Orleans is the only city that allows it, so it’s basically a cultural experience, right? This is loud, dirty, entertaining, fun, and mostly draining if you hate crowds, but love a good scene. Walk through it anyway.

Jazz Bars
Energy Level: +5

After walking along Bourbon street, listen with your ears for the sound of live jazz. I’m sure you’ll find it – just walk towards it until you’re inside and sitting. Ahhhh, jazz music and sitting and drinking. The best. Once you’re inside and find a seat, it’s very relaxing and chill. It’s just getting there that’s the hard part! We went to Fritzel’s and Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. We looked up other places, but ended up here using our mere instincts and grit (ears). Let your ears guide you, people!

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Harrah’s
Energy Level: +2

Casino. So, this only works if you’re with someone who likes to play cards or throw away money into machines. Josh likes to play cards, or that’s what I call it. 😉 This is inside, which was great on a rainy day. It was a surprisingly calming to be in a clean space that felt organized and maintained. (Contrast: Bourbon) This is also called #compromise. I don’t play cards, but had a leisure stroll around the casino and thought about taking a small nap in the bar area. (I didn’t. But I could have. It’s all about having that option, you know?) I ended up watching Josh play cards which was actually entertaining.

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Book Shops: Mid-City Book Shop & Garden District Book Shop
Energy Level: +5

I love a good local book shop. It’s hard for me to justify dishing out $20 for the latest book, so I rarely every buy brand new books. But, I love looking at the locally featured authors and the selection that each shop has. It’s quaint, quiet, and cute – and that for sure refills my energy for a bit. Bonus points for sitting and reading part of a book for a bit, too.

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5 Things to Eat:

Cafe Du Monde (+5)

The line goes by super fast, especially at 11pm at night. Or, it did when we were there. It’s worth the wait to get a table and sit down, don’t be deceived by the “to-go” line that looks shorter. In my opinion, it’s probably not. This gets a +5 energy rating because SUGAR COFFEE DOUGHNUTS, ya hear?

Hansen’s Snow-Bliz Shop (+8)

Refreshing, snowy, and yum. This is a shaved ice place, but with ice that is super smooth and flavors that basically make it taste like ice cream. Thus, it’s the perfect blend between shaved ice and ice cream. Aka the best things ever invented.

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Canjun Seafood (-5)

Crawfish is hard work, so there’s that. There’s no pictures of this because who can pick up a camera when your hands have absorbed all of the juices involved in crawfish. So very tasty, but so much work.

Restaurant Rebirth (+100000000)

An introverts dream! Small, quiet, not crowded, comfy, great bathrooms, and the best and most fancy seafood we’ll ever eat. This is a fancy pants place where you have to be prepared to spend a lot of money, but it’s totally worth it. If anything, you can save all your money eating just this meal and beignets the whole time. It’s worth it. Best and most fresh seafood we’ve ever had. Reservations only. Do it.

Mojo Coffee (+2)

Low key coffee shop that is spacious, has good bathrooms, and good coffee. We had to sit outside in the cold, but that was a small price to pay for the laid back atmosphere and break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bonus points for reading a book for just a couple of minutes. It’s always worth it.

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Summary:

New Orleans is known for being a crazy party city, but with the right stops throughout the day and a little bit of research in picking out a cozy, yet lively jazz bar for the night, it’s totally doable. I didn’t feel drained at all throughout this trip and my husband Josh and I were quite proud of our ability to stay out #alldaylong. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below! Happy vacationing!

 

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You Have Nothing to Prove

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard
Jennie Allen

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“The constant feeling that no matter how hard I try, I cannot be enough.”

You know a book has the potential to really wreck you, when you are looking at the cover already questioning the idea that is possible to NOT try so hard. This idea is so contrary to what I so often think and believe. I’m always trying to figure out ways that I can try harder. It’s in my nature. It’s who I am. Simultaneously, it plagues who I am and keeps who I am from actually living.

“I am not ________ enough.”

I remember uncovering this at my college ministry’s winter conference, Epic Anthology, my freshman year of college. The more I reflected on my life long walk with God, I realized how so much of my story was written with these words.

I remember sharing this visual as a youth leader, literally unpeeling the sticky notes of all of the traits I so easily grasped for and eventually revealing that I am actually not enough. In sending this message to teenagers who probably held some sort of idea that I had it all together, and to a group that I was constantly trying to prove my enough-ness to, I experienced the power in being transparent in my journey of letting Jesus be my “enough.”

“We strive to be seen, to be known, to matter.”

This could hold no more relevance to what I continue to struggle with. In my real life career, in my writing endeavors and passions, and in my relationships/friendships – I want to be seen, to be known, and to be matter. And, when I feel like any of these tenants are withering their way out of my hands, I feel a low grade anxiety that fizzles into panic the longer that I let it fester.

“Jesus is better than happy stories that work out perfectly.”

From my lengthiest memories dating back to childhood, I always felt like the stories that played out in my life fell short of a happy story that worked out perfectly. Although I got by, this falling short of perfection that my life seemed to have continued to nag at me. Why didn’t I have that picture perfect best friend that I could confide my adolescent years in? Why didn’t I have that picture perfect ugly duckling turning into beautiful swan story by the end of my high school years?

What I continue to see time and time again, is that I don’t need to have that picture perfect story. I don’t need to have a happy story where everything works out perfectly, because Jesus is better than all of that.

This is a truth that I am speaking to myself in depth today, as I battle what the future holds in these next months for Josh and I. This is a truth relevant to me each day as I wake up and wonder what the day will hold as a teacher – it certainly hasn’t been a perfect story working out perfectly like I had imagined. And you know what? That’s okay.

But, that’s so so so so so hard to believe.

This book spoke to me in ways that I am constantly trying to speak to myself.

Jennie’s words are the words of truth that myself and countless other people throughout the course of my life have been trying to tell me.

It was incredibly life-giving to have a book speak to me in a way of prose that my heart needed, and in a style that my literary brain is drawn to and appeals to.

The idea that I am not enough is indeed crushing at first, but freeing in my exploration of it. Jennie repeats the message of Jesus’ enough-ness on every page of the book, poignantly pointing to the cross with every word she speaks. Jesus is enough, so we don’t have to be.

This book is for the girl sitting on the sidelines, feeling invisible. It’s for the girl striving to be her best, but never actually being THE best at anything. It’s for the girl constantly trying to do better and be better, but never getting noticed. It’s for the man who feels like he doesn’t have enough ______ to support his family and be the leader, strength, and head that he is called to be. It’s for all of us who are clamoring to be heard, seen, recognized, significant, known — to matter.

I know this because I am this person. And if you’re being honest, you are probably this person too. 


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Q is for Quiet

My clarinet teacher used to tell me, “You’re so talented, but nobody would ever know that.” Or, some variation on that message.

I think this was a compliment, but also a comment at my lack of confidence in myself. Josh and I recently had a conversation about this, too. He mentioned that the reason that I don’t receive as much recognition as my colleagues is probably because I don’t draw attention to the things that I do. And, it’s true. I don’t draw attention to what I’m doing, I mostly hide. And, I mostly hide because maybe I fear criticism more than I long for praise.

Josh mentioned this again when I was sharing an idea that I had. He encouraged me to tell the other people involved, but I told him I didn’t want to. I told him that I’d rather him just suggest it. And, he brought back to my mind the words of my clarinet teacher. He told me that nobody will ever know of the good ideas that I have unless I’m the one sharing them.

But, I mostly want to hide. It’s safer to hide.

Growing up, my family thought that I was the loud, outgoing one. But, I always remember being the quiet girl at school. I was quiet because I was scared of other people and what they might think of me. I was quiet because I was scared to be wrong. I was quiet because it took so much energy and nerve to speak out.

I’m not always quiet, but it is a comfy, security blanket that I often pull over me when I get scared or tired. When I get scared, I get quiet.

I don’t think being quiet is a bad thing. I think there is strength in being quiet.  Susan Cain delivered a powerful TED talk about this idea of the power of introverts. She has also written a book about this concept. She gives way to affirming the style of thinking, processing, and connecting that an introvert has juxtaposed to a world that is made for extroverts.

I don’t think that being quiet is bad thing, and I don’t know that my talents remaining hidden or out of the spotlight is necessarily a bad thing. I don’t want to share my ideas, talents, or gifts for the sake of recognition. I also don’t want to hide them for the fear of criticism. And, I certainly don’t want to be in a state of hiding that the ideas, talents, and gifts that I have are not maximized to their full potential.

I think that there is a way to use my quietness as a strength, but I’m just not sure what that looks like yet. What do you think?

N is for No

I either say No too much or not enough. It never seems like I have a balance of saying No in the right times or right places. Is there a book called The Art of NoI would tell you I’m going to be the one to write it, but I think I’ll say no to that after all. 

The following guidelines are for non life threatening or harmful situations. It’s for the trivial, but also the more serious. It’s written mostly from the perspective of an introvert guarding your social calendar. It’s for the pushover trying to forge boundaries around your preferences. It’s for the passive aggressive to be less passive and more assertive.

Top 10 (Optional) Guidelines of the The Art of No:

  1. You cannot abuse the answer NO.
  2. You can’t just say NO for no good reason, to avoid things that are good for you, or to hide from things that are scary.
  3. Use your NO’s wisely, but please do use it and stop overthinking it.
  4. Based on the top 3 reasons, you are allowed to say NO whenever you see fit.
  5. You are allowed to say YES than change it to a NO. You have the freedom to change your mind at any point in time.
  6. If you don’t want to do it, say NO. But, if it’s good for you in any shape or form, think first.
  7. You are allowed to say NO even when everyone else says YES.
  8. You are allowed to say NO even if everyone else expects you to say YES.
  9. You are allowed to say NO even if it might be a mistake, because there is always that risk no matter answer you end up picking.
  10. And, for crying out loud, let your NO be a NO.

What do you need to say no to?