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San Diego 2022

Back in 2019 Aaron and I went to San Diego for my 25th birthday and it was one of the best vacations of my life! Since Aaron lived there for 8 years during his time in the Navy, he spent much time in the beautiful city and now it truly is our dream city to call home one day. This year we planned a vacation to San Diego to truly unwind and relax from work (I had some classwork to complete, but nonetheless it was an extremely amazing experience, we both got to unplug from work!) With beautiful weather, friendly people, poppin’ night life and stunning beaches, there’s something for everyone in San Diego. Here’s a few of the things we did on our trip that I would highly recommend if you’re ever in the San Diego area!

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo is a fun, family friendly place where you can spend a good chuck of your day! With tons of places to eat or grab a coffee, and the skyfari to get to one side of the park to the other, Aaron and I had a blast! We have a great appreciation for education and conservation of animals that are endangered, and San Diego Zoo is doing fabulous work in assuring hundreds of species continue to thrive in its home. With tons of educational opportunities and getting close to many animals, this would be a great option for a family day or a quick day date with your partner. Also, the gift shops are so cute and I always save shopping for the end!

Balboa Park

If you’ve never been to Balboa Park in San Diego, it is my #1 recommended spot for SO many fun activities as well as museums if you’re a nerd or history buff like me! The Museum of Us was one of our first stops and it was previously named Museum of Man, but after years of listening to members of the San Diego community, they renamed their historical museum to better reflect their missions and values, which I love so so much. I appreciated their transparency of how they obtained artifacts as well as their acknowledgment of Native peoples, specifically Mayans that many regard to as people of the past, but indeed, they are still here. The museum shares in their plaques and signs throughout the exhibits that they are working with Native peoples to accurately and appropriately obtain historical information and artifacts and hope to continue to collaborate with them in a manner that brings us all together. Their exhibits on race, human civilization, and how we see the world were deeply touching and thought-provoking. One of the exhibits that led me to tears was the “The Things We Carry” exhibit, in which it displayed information on migrant deaths and shared objects that many tried to carry over the Border to the United States but did not make it. Part of this exhibit shared hundreds of tags, with each tag having a name of a real person who passed from trying to cross the border. Many died from hypothermia and other painful deaths, and I walked away only imagining the pain of trying to come to the United States with a dream, a dream of a better future for oneself or family. Although it may be considered controversial, the topics this museum brings to the surface ignite a fire that we all deserve to be treated human.

Another museum I loved was the San Diego Natural History Museum, which if you love natural science and have a love for animals and nature, this would be a great stop for you. With 5 floors of breathtaking exhibits, scenery and interactive displays and films for museum visitors, this can easily be half a day to a full day of entertainment! Aaron and I only made it through two floors with the almost 3 hours we had, so we will definitely be returning! I hate rushing through museums and love to soak in every bit of information and scenery I can take in, and with beautiful paintings, murals, fossils and educational exhibits to go through, I was stimulated from beginning to end. We had time for the Fleet Science Center which was also amazing and if you have time for it, don’t miss the San Diego Air and Space Museum!

Flagship Dinner Cruise

I give Flagship Cruise 11/10 for such an amazing experience! This was my first dinner cruise ever and I wanted a romantic night out with Aaron. I booked this a few weeks in advance and the week of we called to ensure which meals we wanted. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and the amazing customer service we received, along with complimentary champagne and a 3 full course meal. The cruise had 3 floors, the first for dinner, the second a dance floor with music and the third the top of the boat with a full view of San Diego Harbor. This 2 1/2 hour cruise was exactly the vibe I was going for; calm, peaceful and romantic, with music not being too loud to interrupt conversation. Highly recommend this cruise for any special celebration or event!

Places to Eat

Antique Row Cafe – AMAZING breakfast/brunch option, they had the best biscuits and gravy ever!

Ballast Point in Little Italy – Great for wings, tacos and beer tasting! Yum! Aaron is a huge fan of Ballast Point beer, so it was so fun having this for Friday night romantic dinner.

El Indio Restaurant – Authentic Mexican food with real cheese and flavorful sauce.

Mona Lisa Italian Foods – One of the highlights of this trip was trying this hidden jewel! They seem to be well known for their wines, however, we stuck with our diet coke and iced tea haha, but their pasta is *chef’s kiss*!

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs, close to Point Loma and Ocean Beach, is a beautiful spot to watch a sunset! Although it was really chilly by 5pm, many people were out on the rocks also soaking in this beautiful scenery and view. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me, soaking in this beautiful moment as the sun set and my love right next to me.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Marriot in Mission Valley, which was very close to Balboa Park and many other places we visited! At usually $650 a night, we got a bomb deal of only paying $150 a night, it was an overall clean and satisfying room, however, there was a salsa dancing competition the weekend of our trip so there were a LOT more people than we expected. The first night Aaron and I were in a joint room in which we could hear the people in the room next to us really loudly (we had some party people next door next to the older couple lol), so the next day we requested a room with no jointed room and we slept great the next 3 nights. The hotel had a 24 hour gift shop open with snacks and travel items, came in handy for ice cream and Tylenol! The gym and pool were open and although we didn’t have time to try the restaurant and bar downstairs, it looked nice! Overall 4/5 for the hotel experience.

This is just scratching the surface of how much San Diego has to offer; a weekend isn’t enough time to explore everything! Soak it all in and enjoy the beautiful weather year round!

Life as a Graduate Student and Mental Health Provider ~ The Learning Never Ends

April 18, 2020

Since moving to the Bay Area in February 2018 and moving in with my boyfriend, life has changed a LOT. Ever gone through a period in your life where it was an actual big transition? Yup, that was the time period in which I found it to be the most stressful. From getting my first big girl job at a small ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) agency to work with autistic children after just graduating with my bachelors, adjusting to living with my boyfriend and managing how to “adult,” it was all super new to me. Did I mention at this time I was adjusting to traffic? Coming from a small town in the Central Valley to San Jose, California, that was a HUGE transition! I got into two car crashes with my first two years of learning how to drive in the Bay Area lol (yes I know, its horrible, trust me, I’ve learned a lot since then!) I had the WORST time learning how to adult, and I am not exaggerating. Work/life balance was difficult, learning how to live with your partner is different, and learning how to do things you’ve never done before is a challenge. At 23, there was still a lot for me to learn. I never truly lived on my own before, let alone living with a partner. I have to say friends, I lived a very sheltered and privileged life, I was blessed to have a lot of financial support from my family and they did many things for me. Of course, I knew how to wash dishes and do my own laundry, but my cleaning and cooking was not up to par when I first started living with my boyfriend and since then we have learned how to work together. Just a few years ago my boyfriend was helping me with taxes, how to apply for jobs, how to do a lot of things in which my family or college did not necessarily teach me. My boyfriend Aaron has been so patient with me, and for that I am so grateful. Because my boyfriend is 7 years older than me, he is more mature and at times made me feel like I needed to hurry up and “grow up.” In the beginning of our relationship I worried what family and friends would think, given our age difference, but I am happy to say that my family and friends love and adore him as much as I do. (Future blog post to come on A and how we met). It’s weird how life completely changes when you drastically change your environment, but also amazing once you physically and mentally adjust to a new place and phase in your life. Fast forward to today, April 2020, I work for a non profit mental health agency that works with at-risk youth and I am a graduate student at Santa Clara University, where I am in training to become a licensed therapist (on track for my Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist licenses). Now, at 25, I feel thankful for this time period in which I felt lost. Gone were my sorority days and fun times at the castle (our sorority house at Fresno State). I am now having 10-12 kids on my caseload, I’m learning everyday how to be the best future clinician I can be and loving the best man that loves me back. I honestly couldn’t be more thankful for how things ended up. There of course have been challenging and stressful seasons in my life, but whose life doesn’t have ups and downs? I have tried my best to trust God through the process and acknowledge that His plan for my life is greater than my own.

Life at the moment is stressful, given this COVID-19 crisis that has affected all of us in one way or another. Aaron has been laid off my one of his jobs, an ambulance company, however he has two other jobs that are secure for now. My work is secure given we are an essential service, however we are moving to tele-health services given the current situation with social distancing. Working from home has been yet again another transition that has been difficult, but in the way that it requires a lot of self-discipline. Ya’ll, I don’t know about you, but COVID-19 and this period of quarantine has made me look at life from a new perspective. Despite things changing at work, I still have a job. I still have consistent income and health insurance. I never take these things for granted, and given that living in the Bay Area is not the cheapest place to live, I am grateful everyday for these opportunities. If your life has been greatly impacted by this crisis, please know that I am praying for you and I hope that things get easier. We will get through this together.

I am doing my classes virtually online through Zoom, and although it is not the same as in person classes, I am happy my university is following precautions and still offering classes. Everyday during this “quarantine” period, I am thankful, grateful and blessed that I still get to provide mental health services, even if it is virtual calls or over the phone and I still get to help make a difference. I am thankful for my education that is not put on hold. This period we are going through has taught me the importance of time management, planning your days out and even more organization skills. It has taught me to value in person sessions more, once we are able to do so, and to truly value the time you have with the people you love. Now, managing school work on top of regular work has been tough, not gonna lie! My master’s program is not necessarily difficult, but it is a lot of reading that is time consuming, so balancing work, school work, plus my relationship is hard. But scheduling everything ahead of time, making time to work out, getting a bible study in and doing things I enjoy throughout the week help me keep sane! 

I feel like I am living in a dream, working at an amazing agency that has great benefits and going to one of the best private universities in the Silicon Valley. I am BLESSED, and I do not take it for granted everyday. In July, A and I will have been together 3 years, and as I look back on the biggest transition in my life, moving to the Bay Area, I am really proud of how much I have grown as a person and I am even more excited where we are going from here. If you are personally juggling school and work, or multiple jobs like my boyfriend, first of all, I know the struggle. It is hard work that requires self-discipline, hard work and commitment. Oftentimes, it is overwhelming, exhausting and mentally and physically draining. Know that your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, and if you feel that way, know that you are doing God’s work and He is humble of how far you have come. Practice self-care, do fun things throughout the week for pure enjoyment, and know that your hard work, in whatever field you are pursuing, will be worth it in the end! What I’ve been learning along my journey is to not need validation from anyone else. This is still something I am learning and struggling with, but do things for yourself and not for validation from others!

I encourage you to think about your life and think; am I reaching my fullest potential right now? Am I fully enjoying and living my life, or am I settling for “okay?” If you chose the settling option, know that there is SO much more to life than just an “okay” life. Take a risk. Apply for that job, apply for a university, master’s or PhD program, save up for that dream car or home. Start a dream or side hustle or business you’ve been putting to the side for fear of others’ opinions. Do not put your life on hold for others or out of fear. Take that risk, take that chance. I know for myself, moving to the Bay Area was one of the scariest changes in my life, but also one of the best things to happen in my life. I hope today you think about where you are in life and truly think about your level of happiness. We can all take a leap of faith and do something for ourselves because at the end of this life, we shouldn’t have ANY regrets. Let’s live life to the fullest everyday! 

XOXO, 

Madeleine