Book Series Review: Harry Potter

Let’s be honest: this is one of 2 DEFINING book series of my childhood for me, in terms of length, and more of the “advanced reads” for us 2nd-5th graders. The other series in my mind? Limony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, of course!

I’m all of a sudden thinking that this should be my next book series. I accidentally did a book series in both the first and second quarter of this year, so why not make it a whole 2019 vibe?

I’ve changed a handful of my minor goals already, due to my recent move, so why not add some flare to my reading?

I’m on a 25-30 book a quarter reading thing, I’ve noticed, through my own 2 book allowance from my Audible subscription, plus the originals that I get as well, plus the audio book versions of ebooks available on Kindle Unlimited. I do also use the 30% off that I get from having an Audiable subscription, or if it’s cheaper, buying credits at sets of 3.

With my job, and wanting to get away from podcasts (I still get into my odd topic ones, about once a month), and as much as I love music, I have truly fallen for audio books! I work graveyard shift, and retail no less.

Policy wise, we’re not supposed to have anything audio on, either through headphones, or phone speaker, to help customers, but I have yet to have a complaint from a customer. They’re usually very sympathetic, and ask if I’m listening to a podcast or book, since it’s clearly not music.

Anyway, to this *everyone who is 20-35 has already reviewed this series* book review, let’s get on it.


So if you’re heavily prejudiced or totally under a rock on this series, it’s deep, but not that deep. There’s things that every person can take lessons from, just like any other book, fiction or non-fiction.

It’s not a demonic series, it really is a classic struggling main character, fighting evil, while learning about himself, and going through the typical middle school to high school level issues, like the school dance, sports, and education. So for those who want to hop on that battle, read on for my review, and if I don’t convince you, just read the series or watch the movie adaptation. I promise you won’t be converted to World-ism (Satanism isn’t what you think it is either…I’ve gone down that rabbit hole. Is anyone interested in that? Let me know!)


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This is the book that started it all. The book where you learn some of Harry’s past, and learn to hate the Dursley’s and Voldemort.

Harry, of course, finds out that he’s a wizard. He doesn’t look anything like his aunt, uncle, and cousin, as they don’t care for him, and the cousin is already half a bully already, at 12. I say half, because the kid gets worse with his chubby a** entitlement from here on out.

Harry of course enjoys the firsts of going to Hogwarts, from going to get his things in Diagon Alley, to figuring out how to get on platform 9 3/4, to meeting Ron and Hermione (who will become his closest friends, and Ron’s family will basically adopt him as their own son….like they don’t have enough kids of their own!), as well as Draco Malfoy and his clan of idiots.

During his first year at Hogwarts, Harry, and his newly-found friends discover the stone in the school. What the stone is called, is different if you have the British version or the American version of the book, but it’s the same darn thing. The stone is meant for eternal life, and is what Lord Voldemort was spoiler alert originally after, in his quest of power.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This is where we see some development of Ginny Weasley and Harry’s relationship. It’ll take until the end of the series to actually see them properly pan out, and it’s the most frustrating thing.

We learn how to play human wizard chess, and that a diary is more than just a diary. Never trust a diary that will write back to you!

Personally, this is the most forgettable/toss away book of the series. It’s important to the series, for hind sight, and understanding the horcruxes that need killed, to conquer Lord Voldemort, but to me, it’s just a “meh” feeling book, more so as a filler book, to bridge some gaps.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This is the book where things get interesting, for the series. We meet Sirius Black, Harry’s God-father. Harry leaves Pivot Drive, and essentially this starts the “I’m pretty much a Weasly, as far as Mrs Weasley is concerned”, but he’s not a flaming ginger (#gingerpride here…love me some Mrs Weasley!).

Yes, this is the part where the notorious car-in-tree scene happens. Can’t forget that! Foreshadowing here, but it plays nothing to the war at Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows, but it does make for a comical Ron-like luck scene. We’re bot all made out of luck, ya know!

Still would love to see a full blown fight between Hermione and Draco, and would love to also see Hagrid pull some stunts, but the story wouldn’t pan out like it had, if my dreams came true.

Your heart really starts to feel, if it hasn’t already, in this book. If you don’t start to feel, WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU?! (kidding….but am I?!)


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Spoiler: People die here.

This is the book where Quidditch happens but doesn’t happen.

Harry gets to attend the world Quiddtich cup (like a soccer cup or Olympics to us muggles) with the Weasley’s. The dark mark comes out to play after the game, which causes a mild headache for Harry, as he had dropped his wand, and his wand’s last spell was the same curse that casted the dark mark into the sky.

The minister of magic’s elf gets let go because of this stuff. She lands up working alongside Dobby in Hogwarts, but is ashamed by not being assigned to her family, as her mom and grandma worked as house elves for the Fudge family.

From there, a century’s old occurrence that was dead, came back to the school age academic traditions, called the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Names from each school are picked from the Goblet of Fire. There’s so many stigmas and assumptions, including the reason on why it’s been so long since the last tournament.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix

Spoiler: People die here.

This is my favorite book of the series. It’s right after a pivotal year for Harry. He finds his strength in GoF and he acknowledges it in this book.

You get less annoyed with the Dursley’s at the beginning of the book, because Harry fights off 2 dementors in early August, just weeks before school starts.

With that, he nearly gets expelled and his wand broken, but he is saved by Headmaster Dumbledore, because who else?

He continues to have detailed dreams that are in essence déjà vu, but more immediate, instead of a little more delayed like before. He manages to save Mr Weasley’s life due to his dream.


Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry dives into the history of Voldemort, via the memories of Headmaster Dumbledore. He’s also given Sirius’ property, belongings, and house elf, Kreacher. Harry releases Kreacher to serve in Hogwarts, as that’s where house elves feel best: serving (well, if you disregard Dobby and his oddness as an elf).

Side note: Kreacher isn’t in this movie randition?!?!?! MUST REWATCH MOVIES AND KEEPING THIS IN MIND

Harry’s potions textbook has been in the hands of the half blood prince, but no one knows who it is. Harry makes a forecast of it might have been his father, about mid-year, but is it?

Snape is bound by an unbreakable vow to help Draco Malfoy, bounded to Draco’s mom. There’s some foreshadowing with this, in my mind. And the task? Well, let’s just say 3 words: Dumbledore, tissues needed.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This book is where EVERYONE DIES so be ready with a box of tissues. This book is where you finally see why Snape is the way he is towards Harry, from the dislike of his father James (really for taking Lily, in his mind), to how much he actually felt for Lily, to how much he truly cares for Harry.

You’ll also find a love for Professor McGonagall. Oh how Maggie Smith played her so well!

You thought you were sad when Cedric died, and Dumbledore died? Well, prepare to be sadder!

Past spoiling the WHOLE DANG BOOK for ya, people die, including Harry, our favorite trio doesn’t do school, but embarks on the crusade of the horcruxes, and we get all of the final insight and backstory that we can get from a book, from the characters we love, love to hate, and actually just hate.

Let us cry now.


There’s a few books past the actual series, and a movie that has a “behind the scenes” audio book to it, and I recommend to listen/read those books as well. It’ll help with backstory, and keep the wizarding world alive for you, until you decide to read/listen/watch the series again.

Yes, I don’t like the added political commentary of authors, directors, and even musicians. Entertainers are meant to entertain. They can have their own personal cause, but this era of the “don’t buy my shit if you don’t stand for x/every ounce I stand for” is truly uncalled for. And this is coming from someone who is truly more libertarian on things. I’ll like a series for the series, but I don’t have to stand by the creator entirely, to like said series. This goes for someone like Rowling, who is more outspoken lately, versus any other author that I find, and like their work. End of my little Ted Talk.

If you haven’t at least read or watched the series once, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HONEY?! Get on it!

Retail Talk: Survive Inventory

Inventory depends on the store, and the company you’re working for. I can only speak from my experiences, at the store (let alone company) I work for. I hope my sharing will help those of you who are new to the retail world, regardless of how you get introduced into the retail world (after HS, during HS, as a higher up in the industry somehow…).

I work for the (or one of the…depending on how you calculate things, but it’s one of the top Fortune 10 companies, if I’m being polite) top retailers in the USA, let alone the world.

I’ve also made it 5 years there. I know that was half of a plug…but retail…I guess I’m alive and not on welfare, while doing alright overall, means something. Retail may make you feel dead or apathetic inside, over the years. I’ve been trying over the last two years to not let retail get to me like that.

For my company at least, with talking with others from various stores, Inventory is not all at the same time, company wide. It makes sense, in a way. If you have a regional, or even state/area specific company you’re dealing with on inventory, it makes sense to break things up, for transparency on their end.

Personally, inventory is more annoying and tedious than the regular holiday season. It’s a lot of “prim and proper” where as holiday season is more of “get it on the shelf so it can be sold”.

I have a lot of my own ideas of when inventory should happen, and how everyone should handle it, from management staff, to stocking staff, to maintenance staff.

My store has always done inventory during fall, which IMO, is the worst time to do it. It’s varied on date, but it’s during this whole “BTS to Halloween” time of year. Read my last Retail Talk to get some deets on that (It’ll open in a new tab so you can easily come back here).

It generally doesn’t matter when your store does inventory, it’s usually a headache. Yet the holiday stress doesn’t help any, is what makes it worse. Bless your heart if you’re in a store like mine, where it’s anywhere from right after Back to School, to Halloween or into even Thanksgiving themed stuff.

My store also does Lay-a-way pretty early on, somewhere starting late August to early September, through early to mid December. I believe we count the lay-a-ways as inventory, as they’re not exactly paid for. Don’t quote me on that for the company, let alone your store/company.

I’m not sure about other companies, but my store (and assuming for other stores corporate wide), makes us make it easier for the outside company that comes in, to count. That’s where it’s a patience-testing thing. Trust me, even with a butt load of patience, you may get irritated or bored from the night or two prior, let alone the week or month prior to inventory.

This is my first “I’m off for night shift’s prep” of inventory in all the years I’ve been there. This is/what would be my 6th inventory.

I hope your store allows you to team up with one other person, and allow you to execute the area you’re designated to, so you’re not bored out of your mind. Working with at least one other person makes it more manageable let alone less agonizing.

If you can’t do that, I advise a music playlist, YouTube playlist, audio book, or something to educate yourself, that you can sidetrack yourself in the dull hours of prepping for inventory. I know it’ll be difficult on your shift, management team, and where you work. Attempt to reason with them if you can.

Try to make a fun little game out of the zoning/facing when you’re stuck doing that for your shift. If it’s called something else, let me know, but zoning or facing is what I’ve heard it called. It’s where you make the merchandise look decent, straighten it up, and it may be different for your store’s every day look, compared to inventory.

My store used to do it two ways, but sometime last year (2017), my store went to always zoning how we zone for inventory (or a little not so nice, because ya know, time…). I recall last year I was teamed up with 2 other girls for about half the night.

Once the department was about half way done, I was pulled away for another smaller department that was lighter to deal with, but needed to be done. I think…haha. Night brain and working brain is going good right now…it’s all blurring together.

Learn what you can and can’t get away with it, and work with it as much as you can. It’ll make it more bearable and fun, if you can.

Have you worked retail? Do you work retail now? What’s your experience with inventory where you were/are at? I’d love to know some other experiences, from other stores and chains, big or small stores and chains (ma and pa to national/regional/global).

Birthday 2018: Life Update

There’s so many things I want to share in this post, so be prepared. Also, this is a start to finish in a day post, quite literally on my birthday, so also be prepared!

This post contains affilliate links. You get some, I get some! Treat Yo’ Self!

As you read this, or think of me today (when you’re reading this, even if it’s not when this goes live), listen to: this, this, and this. Yes, I will always reference my band, and yes, this blog will take me so much longer to write, because I had to stop and appreciate the videos. Watch the behind the scene’s of High Hopes here, because it’ll show you how obnoxious Brendon really is!

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Yes, I’m being so “basic” and making a mood board for 24. I’m all about setting goals and making sure I’m happy and setting myself up to be happy in the future, by pushing myself now. Of course in a healthy manner!

I have lyrics from one of the songs I suggested to listen to (Hey Look Ma, I Made It!), a planner, to keep planning for the future, and make amazing memories, as well as build myself in all aspects I can, and the film picture for Farmlands, which is from Lauren Southern. This film really inspired me back into my journey of investigative journalism.

A little known fact about me, is that I wanted to go to college for journalism, and investigative journalism was (and is) something I wanted to more focus on. I never went because I know my talents are decent, but the field is so overpopulated, and I didn’t want to waste my time, money (or really credit to pull out student loans) for a degree that would hinder me more than help me.

With things like Skillshare (2 free months if you sign up!), and freelance work, I want to make it happen. I have some ideas in the works, that I am going to start on this year, since the fire has been kindled underneath me. I’ll see where it takes me!

To continue onto some of my vision board for 24, I have cooking, savings, and photography goals and aspirations. All are overlapping as well as different.

Now let’s get into a tarot reading, because why not?! Here’s the spread I chose for today:
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Now, here’s my drawing, which by the way, was spot on, and I am glad I drew it!
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Yes, this is a hot mess, but it spoke to me! I won’t go into great detail here, but this spread called out that I should forgive and allow my past to be my past, be and create my confidence and leader self, and go after the goals that I wish to set up for myself, in aspects of betterment and what my soul longs for. This is going to be a good year for me (until I turn 25, and I can assess how 25 will treat me!).

For reference, my cards were:
1- Ace of Swords
2- Ten of Swords
3- Five of Swords
4- Seven of Cups (Reversed)
5- The Emperor IV
6- Judgement XX (Reversed)
7- Queen of Coins

So, with all of that in mind, that is the general gist of me turning another year older. I have some basic things planned in honor of my birthday, with those that are close and love.

What do you like to do for your birthday? Do you have any specific rituals you do each year, or do you try to do something different? Do you do anything at all? I’d love to know! Share in the comments what you do, or have done!

Blog 2 Bank Review: 5 Day Facebook Challange

Yes, I’m still on Facebook. My personal page has turned into a recipe diary, animal videos, and a diary of when I do finally get to/decide to do things. I’m mostly involved in dog groups (living vicariously right now…one day babe and I will get a house to get ALL OF THE PUPPERS), cooking groups, among other groups. I’ve gotten into lifestyle groups lately, as well as a few blog groups, to see what that’s like.

Last week, in one of those groups. I think, someone shared that they were doing the Blog to bank 5 day challenge. So what did I do? Joined it. I looked at the daily emails, which had the general gist for each day, plus a few questions for self reflection on your own blog, relating to the topic of the day.

Each day had a little bit of a different theme, and sort of built on each other, but were good stand alone topics. It spanned from focusing on your niche to an email list, to where you wanted your end goal in mind, so you could work backwards, and make money on it.

The creator was Rachel Ngom (yea, try pronouncing that one guys!) from She’s Making an Impact. No I’m not sponsored to make this review (but I would be down for future ones, no lie!), but I just did it, to see what I could get out of it. One of my favorite little things from at least the email part, is her cute little titles for each day.

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Here’s what I got out of this free 5 day challenge, that was more a reflection series and learning series than anything:

-There’s always room to be more specific for your audience.
-Don’t be afraid to share parts of your story! Even if it may be a little off from your content, you can always make your story relateable!
-Have both a why and an end goal/ideal end in mind. It’ll help you through your unmotivated days, and when the haters want to hate.
-I got 4 ideas for blogs just from the questions, plus some other inspiration for future posts! (Expect them starting in November!)
-Ideas for upgrade-able content/sell-able content (free or paid worksheets, for here and on Etsy, easy access meal ideas, and the like)
-The most profitable way to earn money on a blog, is by offering a course/program. I’m thinking about a podcast/audio only version for cooking/recipes.

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Would you guys like an audio version of a cook book where there was an art gallery of the meals? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to know, truly.

Mental Health Monday: September Series Starter

September is not just my birth month, it’s also mental health awareness month. I will be sharing some tidbits each Monday this month, a little different each week. The conversation around mental health is still very touchy and vague, and the only time we still talk about mental health is when someone famous dies.

Not even when a family member dies from mental health, or had mental health issues, but when someone who we don’t really know dies, and how sad is that? I want to help change that. I know I’m only one person, but I believe in the butterfly effect, and if I connect with one person, one time, positively, I’ve done my job.

I was thinking, the best way to get into this mini-series about mental health was to share my personal struggles with mental health. Not to boast, or sound mopey, but to share that even I, someone you may only know through a screen (whether it’s your phone, tablet, or computer), deals with mental illness.

To get started, let’s take a journey into my childhood a bit. I am a statistic, a child of divorce. I was young enough when it happened, that I don’t really recall a life with both parents in the home. I was raised by my mom, and we moved from where I was born, PA, to California, near her side of the family, a few years after the formal divorce ended. This is where I feel some of who I am started.

2,600 miles does a lot to anyone, especially a child who is forming friendships and who they are. Looking back, moving is where I noticed I was more introverted, and didn’t handle meeting new people that well. I managed like any usual kid would, but felt outcasted, and would continue that way through my education. How much I let it bug me, is what would change.

Social anxiety and depression started their way into my life from there, up until recently. Regular anxiety didn’t really happen for me until about middle school, where I started having panic attacks and had some trouble getting to sleep.

At this time in my life, my dad was more in my life, and at 16 I moved back to PA, to live with him, and the step family that he had created a few years prior. This is where the depression became more of a thing in my life.

Since my father is a psychologist, he saw the signs and wanted me to seek counseling, and even see if medication would help. The first time that I took an anti-anxiety pill, I passed out for like 10 or 11 hours. That was the first time I had slept easy in years.

I couldn’t put it into words then, but now, I can see a slight tendency to addictive personality. Grant it, you’re never supposed to self-diagnose, but hey, young and stupid makes you old and wise, right?!

From there, I noticed that the anti-depressant medication wasn’t working for me, and so I at some point stopped taking it. I didn’t want to really be the one to rely on medication, and if the anti-anxiety was working but the anti-depressant wasn’t, that was a sign.

Now, I’ve been living “on my own” for roughly 5 years, and stopped the anti-anxiety medication around the same time. There are definitely days where I wish I had it, because it does help, when you’re jittery and anxious and no self-coping mechanism is working.

I will say that taking the medication mid full blown panic attack doesn’t exactly help, since you’re already in the midst of it, but it helps on the days where you feel it, and can’t get it to calm down.

I actually had one of those days last week, for a few days. It started while folding laundry, and it took everything I had in me to breathe through it and focus on folding my laundry and getting home (our apartment doesn’t have laundry services on site). That was the worst amount of anxiety I’ve had in good while.

For me, now, other than missing the medication for days like I had last week, my mental health has gotten better for the most part. I’m still fighting with being my own worst critic and nit-picking with my own flaws, but correcting myself, and even if it’s a true flaw that needs worked on, I try to make a comment to myself of something good I’ve done lately, or something overall that is good about me.

Yes, working on your thought patterns is a do-able thing. No it will not cure you. It will help you, and help you to be less hard on yourself in the midst of a breakdown of any size.

The spoon theory is also one of my older-time favorite things to remind myself of. The theory focuses on physical health and illness, but your mental state can cripple what you can do physically. Not only do you have physical spoons each day, but you also have mental spoons. You can only pick up so much with each one, and you can only have so many, until you have to set them down and wash them, to be able to use them again.

I’ve never really had too bad of mental illness, but it’s there, for sure.So yes, even a shrink’s kid suffers from mental illness.

Do you want to know how I cope when my head tries to get in the way? Let me know in the comments, please!

Plan With Me: September 2018

So this is my BIRTH MONTH!!! I’m playing it super chill this year, since summer was so packed full of events, and I did a lot last year for my birthday. I was planning on some events, but they’ve fallen through, sadly. Next year though. There’s next year, and next year will be a better year (hint: I’ll be worth a US quarter! I know I’m worth so much more than that, but it’s a cute joke!).

For this month, I have more content planned for you guys, and this will be more of a month for relaxing, taking long weekends, and enjoying alone time, and time with those I care about the most. Let’s get to planning, shall we?

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I usually start with my whiteboard, even though I should start with my Artist of Life Workbook review of the previous month. Wiping it clean allows me to have a clean slate of what will be in front of me, so I can just keep the past, well, the past. I set the month up numerically, then go into the review of the previous month, for what I didn’t finish.

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On the whiteboard, I note any plans, and for this month, it’s just my birthday and a live chat that I have in my Artist of Life Mastermind group, as you can see. Sometimes it’s as simple as that, and other times, it’s more complicated like June was.From there, I can easily see what is happening, and what days are where.

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Since it’s an easy glance, I go from there, into either my notebook, like this month, or into a digital note, usually on my phone, to plan out what blog posts I want to do that month. Then from the ideas, I set the date I want them to be posted on.

For this month, since I had things written out on paper, and I wrote down some notes, I took the themes of the blog posts, and put them on a sticky to-do note pad, and on the far side I write the tentative days I wanted to post them on.

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Past this, I don’t have much plans for the month, other than tentative plans of relaxing, and birthday dinner(s), depending if I feel like doing a solo date, and one with my dad, and if my guy and I go out.

I also planned out my meals for the month, since I’m doing a cleaning out of our cupboards this month. It’ll help me with some of the food days, plus clean out the stock we have, and I don’t feel bad for wasting it, or donating it.

I know there’s people who could use the help, and I’ve been there before (ironically, there’s a few canned goods that are left over from my dad’s raid of his pantry, since he’s doing a Keto meets low sodium diet).

I used to take a big monthly wall calendar to meal plan, but I noticed that I would forget what I was meal planning for the week, when I’d be shopping, and wonder why I would need one random ingredient, or something of the like, and dumb me would just not get it.

Now that I’ve gone digital, I can look at the meal plans on the go, and if I can’t recall why I need something, or if I need to tweak something, I can see what needs it, more on the fly. I love being frugal and prepared, and it’s so much easier. Plus, with trying to be more conscious of what I use, and why (really, the Konmari mentality, of if it truly brings me joy, and adds value to my life), I feel better by using what I already have.

What do you do to plan your month? Do you meal plan for the month, or by the week, if at all? I’d love to know your answers, truly!

Vacation Throwback: Summer of ’18 in CA

*Cue Roaring 20’s and Old Fashioned by Panic! at the Disco in the background, on repeat* (meaning at least listen to the songs once, PLZ, then just listen to the rest of the album…yes I may be too much of a fan)

DISCLAIMER: All photos are mine, even the header.

This was the vacation I needed, and in the same note of I wanted it, I didn’t know I NEEDED so badly. I truly grew so much, learned so much, and explored so much, I can only hope to get some of it across through some of my social media posts, my pictures, and through posts like this.

I had 2 weeks, with flights, that was fairly busy, out in CA. I shared right before, my planning of it, go check it out! This is my aftermath vomit post. Yes, it took too long, sorry guys. Mind my last post on some reasoning (I know, no excuses! I hate it…I just was still recovering and couldn’t deal for some reason(s)…but here I am, getting back on the vibe).

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The first major thing I got to do, which was the reasoning for the whole vacation out to California anyway, was Yosemite. I enjoyed the time up, with, and back down, with my mom and her parents. It was 4 total days, 2 full days in the park, the last day in the middle of the park, and down the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The travel through the park, and down the Sierra Nevada’s, I’m so grateful I had the intuition and confidence to say what I would think would create some great memories and photography shots, to my grandpa (who asked me personally about how we should make our way back down to where they live).

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Yosemite couldn’t have been any more enjoyable on my end, especially as a first time visitor, with experienced visitors. When my grandma told me that my grandpa fell in love with waterfalls from their first visit at Yosemite, I can truly see why. Seeing it for myself, and seeing my grandpa, in his mid 80’s be in his element, I see it.

For some backstory: my grandpa and my dad are both photography nerds. Keep in mind, it’s my mom’s dad here, so it’s not a dad and son thing here. My late grandfather is very an “in the moment” guy, and I’ve appreciated that the more I’ve aged (which took a toll on me during this trip…the “in the moment” that Ekhart Tolle shares, especially in his book of “The Power of Now”, which has shaped me more than anything, since I read it).

I can see myself in all of them, and most so I felt that during this trip. This was my first “fun” trip since before my late grandfather passed. I had a memorable time when visiting him prior to his passing, but knowing that he was going to die is a different trip. If you’ve lost someone close, and had a weekend even with them, prior to their passing, I’m sure you know the similar feeling of what I experienced.

Since my grandfather’s passing, I’ve grown so much as a person, and even more so in the last 2 years, because I know that’s what he’d want (outside of getting over his passing). Going to Yosemite refreshed my love of nature, especially around water (lakes, waterfalls, rivers, storms), as well as photography, and being in the moment.

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Pretty much three weeks later, I’m still in shock of what I saw, and the fact that it’s now behind me. Let alone the fact that I still get mesmerized by my raw pictures that I got. I hated nearly all the pictures I was in, but the pictures I got were beyond anything.

They truly didn’t need editing. I went through about 400 pictures, and I didn’t want to edit the ones I kept. It took me forever to just “man up” and realize that I knew I didn’t have to (and didn’t want to) edit my pictures from Yosemite.

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Past Yosemite, it was some down time, a lunch with my mom, a family dinner, then to VidCon and Disneyland on my last day. This is where I grew the most. I noticed how far I had come at that point, as a person, as well as an adult. A lot can happen from 18 to 23.

Some unfortunate things happened on some plans for VidCon, and it turned into a long solo weekend. The universe knew better than I did. I broke down one night even, but I needed to experience a breakdown totally alone to become stronger.

I knew that even during the breakdown. I’m a better person from that, and because of the whole experience of the solo “weekend” if you want to call it that.

I was reminded of my strength as a person, of the fact that I’m capable of doing things on my own, and that nothing is ever as bad as what your mind tells you it is (via whatever chemical imbalances you may have, whether too much or too little of something). Something I was taught in mentor/leadership camp, I was reminded of recently: You and your body can endure so much more than you think. It’s convincing your mind of it that’s the issue.

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Vidcon was nice but isn’t worth the hype. I can’t speak for what it was (this was the first year under a new company), and although it was super interesting and neat to attend, the hype isn’t there. Which to me, makes sense. Social media and people in general hype things up so much it’s not even funny.

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VidCon made the *big* channels I tune into more personified, which is what I think is the original point of why VidCon was created. It’s sad that we need a conference to personify people that talk into a camera. But in the same way, YouTube creators are doing something the mainstream actors and news anchors aren’t: truly interacting with those who have made them who they are.

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My last big thing on this vacation was Disneyland. This was originally my only solo thing during this trip. The day there was what I needed to spark the kid in me again. I indulged in the fast pass system, and since I went alone, I only had to worry about what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and it was a great experience doing something like that alone. I talked with some pretty cool people while in the ride lines, and had a blast.

I went on about 12-15 rides, ate some dole whip to cool down, and even went up and down the Tarzan tree house, for nostalgic reasons. I had a perfect day there, and even got my first set of ears! I have them hanging on my wall now.

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This trip reminded me of who I am, and how strong I’ve become in myself, especially over the last handful of years. I am so grateful for this experience, and am so glad of the memories.