Friday5 {Stars & Stripes Edition}

Oh how I love me some Independence Day – – no, not the corny ’96 Will Smith sci-fi flick — the 4th of July!

download (1)For as long as I can remember, I have had an internal struggle between whether 4th of July or Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is great… but I LOVE America.  BBQ, lemonade, bald eagles, apple pies, picket fences, and American flags make me nostalgic.  The holiday reminds me of golf cart parades on Bald Head Island and long nights at Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet.  Firework displays at Memorial Stadium in uptown Charlotte, watermelon and picnics under the southern summer sky.  The 4th of July truly marks the start of summer for me, and today I’m here to share some tips for successfully pulling off your patriotic pride:

1. America Playlist: Lucky for me, I fell in love with a guy who loves the U.S. of A. as much as I do. Along with his cute self and beaming personality, he also came with an ever evolving “America Playlist” that has been growing and accumulating over the years. Don’t let Uncle Eddie’s cassette’s ruin the cook-out, create your own playlist with a few of my favorites:

  • Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
  • American Girl – Tom Petty
  • Young Americans – David Bowie
  • American Pie – Don McLean
  • America the Beautiful – Ray Charles
  • My Country ‘Tis of Thee – Aretha Franklin
  • Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
  • American Baby – Dave Matthews Band
  • On the Fourth of July – James Taylor
  • Independence Day – Martina McBride
  • Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue – Toby Keith
  • Proud to be an American – Lee Greenwood
  • America Saturday Night – Brad Paisley
  • My President is Black – Young Jeezy
  • Made in America – Jay-Z & Kanye West

2. Charlotte Events: Charlotte has a whole host of different events ranging from a night at Carowinds for the kids, to fireworks at the speedway for NASCAR fans (Go, Junior!); Pops in the Park for the symphony-lovers, and for the outdoorsy types, the National Whitewater Center has free music and amazing fireworks on the 3rd and 4th of July. For a complete list of activities, click here.

Side note: For those of you who want to torture yourself, feel free to participate in the 4th of July 4 miler...can hang your head in embarrassment when your boyfriend's mother laps you during the race :-)

Side note: For those of you who want to torture yourself, feel free to participate in the 4th of July 4 miler…can hang your head in embarrassment when your boyfriend’s mother laps you during the race 🙂

 3. Budweiser AmeriCAN:  Beer is not my alcoholic beverage of choice, but I will drink the shiz out of of some Budweiser IF and ONLY IF it’s pouring onto my lips from a can donned in stars and stripes.  Clever marketing scheme Anheuser-Busch, real clever.

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4. American Apps: Since it’s 2013 and not 1776, of course there are many apps for the holiday. A few favorites of mine include:

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Declaration: read the Declaration of Independence and don’t forget what we’re commemorating and admire the original document

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Grill-It: Host a cook out for your friends and family and use this app to grill up the perfect menu

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If the pyro in your life doesn’t get enough thrill from the real thing, this app is a realistic simulator, including sound and all

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Create a scrapbook with all of your favorite Independence Day photos

5. Give Back: We are all so blessed to live in the amazing country, so don’t forget the people who fight for our freedom. Make cookies for the firefighters, EMT, police in your neighborhood – they don’t have the luxury of enjoying this day off.  Send a card or care package to someone serving overseas. Fly a recycled American flag, instead of buying a new one. RecycledUSFlags.com is a great green option – they’re made of recycled water/soda bottles! Thank your favorite teacher. Volunteer at the local parade or invite a needy family over for corn hole and hot dogs.

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Lake Norman Staycation (Red, Red, Wine)

On Saturday Matt and I were at Mac’s enjoying a delicious sausage sampler (my mom is cringing right now) when Matt received a text from his co-workers wife asking what we were doing.  We didn’t have much planned for the afternoon/evening, so they told us to come up to their lake house, and to bring our overnight bag.

Allow me to give a little background about Dave and Beanie. They are amazing. They are in their 40’s and never had children. Beanie is a big shot executive at a bank, but you would never know it. She is the most down-to-earth, hilarious person you’ll meet. She and Dave have been married for 20+ years and have been together since they were 16. They truly live life to the fullest. Beanie works in New England every Monday-Thursday, so they relish in the time they get to spend together. They truly are a couple we look up to because after all these years they are still so in love with each other.

Did I mention that Dave and Beanie LOVE to have a good time? Hence why they suggested we bring an overnight bag with us, even though we live only thirty minutes away. We packed a few things, and got up to the lake around 5pm. We packed a cooler, jumped in the boat and hit the lake. It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon and the water was perfect. They have all kinds of water toys, and I quickly found out that I’m apparently dating a water sport professional.  Matt skied, surfed, and wake boarded and was SO good – definitely impressed. I attempted to ski but realized I was only embarrassing  myself and quickly got back into the boat. There’s only so many times that you can face plant into the water and keep your dignity. We watched the sun set over the lake and then headed back to the house (mainly because we  had drank all of the alcohol that we had brought along).

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Beanie Bird!

Love her!

Love her!

Beanie and Dave had an amazing dinner prepared for us that we threw on the grill and ate on their back porch. Midway through dinner a song came on the iPad that we all loved, so we all four got up from the table and started dancing. This is the carefree relationship I’m talking about that is so amazing. They also LOVE wine. So much that they have a wine cellar in their basement. After drinking two bottles during dinner, we headed down to the cellar for an impromptu wine tasting. Matt and I love wine also, but don’t know much about it. It helps having a guide to walk you through it. They have bottles in their cellar that have been aging down there for decades;  a concept very foreign to me.  The dancing continued in the cellar until our vision was hazy and our teeth were purple. We grabbed another bottle and headed out to enjoy it in front of the outdoor fire place. The laughing, music, and drinking lasted until Matt and I couldn’t handle anymore, and had to go to bed. Beanie and Dave however, stayed up until 3am dancing around the kitchen, I love them!

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Dancing the night away

Things got a little weird...

Things got a little weird…

Wonderful hosts!

Wonderful hosts!

Dancing machines

Dancing machines

We woke up with a lovely red, red, wine hangover and headed home to Charlotte to sleep for pretty much the remainder of Sunday. I love spontaneous days that turn into hilarious nights. Matt is so lucky to work with such awesome people, and I am so glad that they are now becoming my friends too. Dave and Beanie are the most generous people, and both have the biggest hearts. It was so nice to get away from town and go “off-the-grid” for the evening.

DIY South End Bar Crawl

Friday night we had diner plans with our friends, Stefanie and Deeds.  We are always guaranteed a night of fun when we go out with them. No matter how calm the original plan might be, the night always ends up with a bad round of karaoke at Jeff’s Bucket Shop followed by pancakes, bacon, waffles AND ham at Midnight Diner.

Friday night proved to be no different. Our original plan was to have dinner at Copper on East Blvd.  We had given S & D a gift certificate to Copper for Christmas that they still hadn’t used, so we invited them to come along with us. Dinner lasted almost three hours, and after wine and bottles of Taj Mahal – we decided we weren’t ready to go home yet. Lucky for us, we all live in the South End/Dilworth area and we had walked to dinner. We decided on the walk home, we would create our own version of a South End Bar Crawl.

First stop was the bar at 300 East where we of course were obligated to order a pitcher of The Matilda Wong.  For those of you who are unaware, The Wong is 300 East’s signature drink – so potent the bartender will only serve you two.  We wrapped up our stop there and headed to The Liberty on South Blvd. Liberty was pretty dead at this point, so we ordered a class of champagne at the bar and took it outside to the patio where we  dreamed up a quick get rich scheme. I’m sure at the time it all made sense. The Wong and bubbles must have tricked us all into believing that we actually had some secret capital lying around to become investors. From there we tried to stop by Luciano’s and Sullivan’s but it was past 11pm at this point, and both were looking like they were closing. Tyber Creek is not my favorite, but hey, when in Rome…Tyber Creek was actually a lot more fun than I had remembered. The music was great, and the place was packed.  I accidentally got myself  involved in an impromptu Clemson/Carolina debate that didn’t end so well, so we left, and crossed the street to Big Ben’s. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn my lesson; but it’s hard to keep your mouth shut when you feel so passionately about the Gamecocks. Big Ben’s was closing up shop when we left, so we had a pint there and called it a night.

The walk home was lovely and I think it did our bodies good to walk off some of the alcohol. We are so lucky that we live in such an awesome part of town, and for the amazing friends we get to surround ourselves with! The night is best summed up by the below 7-second Vine. If Friday night was any indication on how the rest of the summer will play out, COUNT ME IN!

Daufuskie Debrief

We had the pleasure of spending a long weekend at Daufuskie Island with some great friends.  I have grown up going to Carolina beaches, but had never heard much about Daufuskie. The tiny island is located off of Hilton Head Island, SC and has no bridges that connect it with mainland South Carolina.  Ferries run throughout the day to transport you, and golf carts and bicycle’s are the only forms of transportation on the island. Our friend, Mark, has family friends with a house on Daufuskie, that were generous enough to let us use for the weekend. We had an amazing weekend, and can’t wait to go back again soon!

We left Charlotte Thursday after work and arrived at the embarkation center around 10pm – just in time to catch the last ferry of the day. Our luggage, food, golf clubs, etc. were loaded under the ferry, and we enjoyed a peaceful thirty minute ride to the island under the beautiful Carolina stars.

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Once we arrived on the island, we walked over to cart barn where everyone on the island parks their golf carts. Let me tell you, Daufuskie Island must be the most trusting place on Earth, because everyone leaves the keys to their carts INSIDE their carts in  a big open area. Our instructions to find the owners cart were “it’s parked in some pine needles, and has a red, white, and blue lei tied around the steering wheel”. By the time we found the cart and the house (the island is not easy to navigate in the pitch black dark at 11pm) the workers from the island were already inside of the house and unloading all of our luggage. Again, I’m telling you these people really trust this place. Who leaves their incredibly nice beach house sitting unlocked for anyone to enter?  I guess with a population of 250 people, and a handful of deer and other random creatures, there isn’t much crime to worry about. Thursday night ended with one too many Vines and a 3am dip in the pool.

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We took full advantage of the fact that we didn’t have to spend Friday in the office, and slept until early afternoon. The guys decided to hit the course and I’m pretty sure Matt was in golf heaven. He had been wanting to play the Haig Point golf course for a while now and was so thankful to be spending his day winning bets out there. The girls had planned to go to the beach while the guys were gone, but got sidetracked. We ended up laying in the master suite’s amazing king bed for about two hours catching up and having much needed girl talk. We finally decided to take the golf cart out and venture around the island. The trip was relaxing and sightseeing was fun, until we decided to stop at the Equestrian Center to pet the horses. After about twenty-minutes of that, we hopped back in the cart only to find it wouldn’t start. Our first reaction? Laugh our heads off. You see, things had not quite gone our way that day. Earlier that morning, the master bath shower leaked through the ceiling of the room below it. The hot tub? Yep, broke that too. So it’s only natural that a fully-charged, seemingly fine golf cart would die on us. Our first thought would be to just wait it out fifteen minutes and then try again. No luck. Our second thought? One of us would steer, and the other two would push. We made it all of 10 centimeters before that idea went up in smoke. Luckily, a guardian angel just happened to be passing by in his work truck and stopped to help three damsels in distress. His name was Don Hunter and he happened to be a house builder on the island. He opened up the golf cart to find that the cart’s largest wire had been completely fried through. Of course it had. Good ole Don happened to have some spare parts in his Jeep, rigged that wire up, and within twenty minutes we were on our merry way again. The best part? The guys didn’t have to cut their round short, and we met some of the islands finest people.

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Lazy was the name of the game on Friday, and we finally decided to get out of our jammies around 5pm that night. We showered and headed to dinner at an amazing little place on the island called Marshside Mama’s. This place was the epitome of a hole-in-the-wall. The actually building itself has a tiny little bar, stage, and dance floor. The “dining room” is out back and is eloquently decorated with plastic chairs and tables. The restaurant has only one menu. It’s changed and written daily on a big white board. The waiters set the board up somewhere near your table, you order, and then they take it around to the next table waiting. The seafood was amazing. We ordered the deviled crab, low country boil, AND peel-and-eat shrimp. As stuffed as  I was afterwards, I could have had another three orders, it was that amazing. This place was simple. I’m talking outhouse bathrooms, and paper towel rolls for napkins. After a few rounds of Fireball, we had all loosened up enough to hit the dance floor. The band was also incredible and we left that place a sweaty mess. It is so nice to just hop in the golf cart and head home. No need to worry about who would drive, or if we needed to call a cab.

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Saturday we headed to the beach. It was so beautiful and quiet. It was nice to relax. I think I took around three naps throughout the day. It has been a while since I’ve been able to kick back and not worry about anything; and what is there to worry about when you’re staring into the Atlantic Ocean? Later that night we hopped on a water taxi and rode over to Harbour Town in Hilton Head. We had a delicious dinner at a place called CQ’s, and after a few cocktails, the night took a hilarious turn. I believe all of the patrons were glad when we finally left the restaurant. After dinner we walked over to a bar that had live music – my favorite! The first song the band played was “Shout” – which happens to be my all time favorite. After that, we were all glued to the dance floor until the band played their last song.  The night ended with us starting a congo line around the entire restaurant. Well done friends, well done! We hopped back on the water taxi and headed back to Daufuskie, not knowing the adventure we were about to get ourselves into…

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On top of the lighthouse

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When we pulled up to the marina at Daufuskie, we saw there happened to be a wedding taking place. There was a huge white tent, a band playing Marvin Gay, and an open bar that was calling our names. Any normal adult would probably just take a look, smile, and continue on their way. However, I wouldn’t consider anyone on our trip normal. So what did we do? We decided to “crash” the wedding. Our thought process was that it was almost midnight, so everyone at the wedding was probably feeling good and we would go unnoticed. Wrong. After helping ourselves to a cocktail, some light finger foods, and a few dances, a cousin of the wedding politely asked us to leave. Oops? We laughed our heads off the entire way back to the house, and continued to laugh even more until we fell asleep.  Guess I can cross that one off my bucket list.

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Matt and me at the wedding

Sunday we had a difficult time accepting that reality was about to set in, so we delayed the inevitable and went to the beach again for the afternoon. We ended up leaving around 5, and got home and hit the hay after a hilariously fun weekend.

Sam + Kelly: y’all better get to working on our Richard Kuzzie prototype; I don’t know how much more of this office I can take! 

Always Be Your Baby

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“I’ll always be your baby
No matter how the years fly by
The way you love me made me
Who I am in this world
I’m a woman now, Not a little girl
Wherever this life takes me
I’ll always be your baby”

Dear Dad –

I remember in second grade we were given the assignment to write about our heroes. Without any hesitation, I jotted down two pages of notes about my own personal hero; YOU! I know I don’t tell you this often enough, but if given that assignment again today, nothing would change about my pick.

In my weird, over analyzing- everything brain, I always thought it was so neat that we both had “M” for our middle initials and that we both we born in years with the same digit (’55 and ’88). Maybe it’s just me, or maybe you see it too, but I’ve always thought that you and I share a very special bond. You were the Dad who always put his family before anything. You never let your job get so serious that you weren’t able to make it to every sporting event, school concert, or birthday. Some of my best childhood memories include you coaching my soccer teams (the “king of the circle” game was the best), you bringing lunch to the school and eating with me and my friends, and you reading books to me every night (Addie from American Girl is still my favorite).

Now that I’m older, I don’t need you to quiz me on my vocab words anymore, but you are still there for me in every other way possible. You are my career counselor when I’m having love/hate relationships with Human Resources (another thing we both share), my personal banker when I need a few dollars to prevent another overdraft fee, my lunch buddy, my proof reader, my spiritual advisor, my Carolina Football gameday compadre, blog reader and my shag dance partner.

I cannot wait to see how the next twenty-five years of our relationship grows and evolves. I can’t wait to walk down the aisle with you on my special day and to see you interact with my own children one day. Thank you for teaching me about patience and resilience, hard work, and showing me that integrity and good character will get you far in life. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I am so proud of you, Dad.

I love you to the moon and back! No matter what, I’ll always be your baby.

CMH

Best Of: Services

Hair Cut and Color

-Jaclyn Buckner @ T Reid & Co

Dilworth
429 East Blvd.Myers Park
704-377-1511

Blow Out

-Gorgeous GLO & BLo ouT

Myers Park
1518 E. 3rd Street
Suite #100
704-376-2009

Nail Salon

-Polished Nail Bar

South End
2041-F South Blvd.
Inside the Pavilion at South End
704.954.0004

Car Wash

– Dilworth Car Wash (Neighborhood Car Wash)

507 Park Road in Dilworth (Next to the Park Shell)

– Harold Miller (comes to you)

704-621-2638

Dry Cleaners

-Press Club Dry Cleaners

Sedgefield

3305 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28209

Hot Yoga

– Arrichion 

South End

125  Winona St.  Charlotte, NC 28203

Barre

-Pure Barre

Myers Park

603 Providence road

Charlotte, NC 28207

Weekend Wrap-Up

This weekend was absolutely perfect in so many ways. We have been thrilled to have a few consecutive weekends in Charlotte to relax before our Tour de Southeast picks up again this Thursday. Without further ado, our staycation went a little like this…

Friday: We have been feasting on Matt’s mahi and grouper loot that he racked up over the past few weeks fishing expeditions for pretty much every meal. Friday night was no different, but Matt and I were both feeling a little stir crazy with the week of downpours. We decided we needed to escape the four walls of our apartment for a little change of pace before our 100th fish filet in the past three weeks. We have been wanting to try Vin Master in South End for some time now, and Friday seemed like the perfect opportunity. The neat thing about Vin Master is that they arrange their wines by taste (spicy), not type (Pinot Grigio). They also offer a tasting process where you blindly try four different wines without knowing what they are. You rank the wines from 1-4, and from there the Vin Master will be able to get an idea of what your “wine profile” is, and can recommend wines with those tastes. After a few glasses, we couldn’t help ourselves and ended up purchasing a bottle to bring home to compliment our fish filet (what she order, fish filet). We opened the door to the patio and watched the lighting and storms come through whilst enjoying our bottle of Godello.  It was the perfect  ending to a stressful week.

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Saturday: To say I was on Cloud-9 all day would be an understatement. Ever have those days where you constantly keep thinking “life is SO good”? Well Saturday was one of these days for me. The day started at the Kings Drive Farmers Market (the best around) picking up fruits and veggies for the upcoming week. We also grabbed a few extra ingredients we would later use for our dinner. Following the farmers market, we headed to Trader Joe’s to stock up on some wine. Matt and I always act like kids in a candy shop when picking out the wines that will complete our case. We decided we would get four whites, four reds, and then four “others”. We left with a hefty supply that should hopefully last us through end of this week (kidding, kind of). On our way in to TJ’s,  I spotted the most amazingly beautiful hydrangea plant. My love for hydrangea’s is pretty serious. I have always been discouraged because I thought I had to have a yard to plant it in, until I spoke with the florist at the farmers market earlier in the day. She changed my life when she told me that a hydrangea could be planted in a large pot for a couple of years before needing a yard to grow in (start the stopwatch to purchase a house by 2015!!). I convinced Matt that the plant had to come home with us, and made him hold it in the passenger seat like a baby the whole ride home. The plant we ended up purchasing had pink blooms, and I have always loved the blue color plants. GOOD NEWS…pink and blue hydrangea blooms are interchangeable and the color of the blooms can change based on acid level of the soil. I quickly did some iPhone-based research in the car, and then we headed to Lowe’s to purchase a pot, soil, and a handy little product called “Blue Magic” that helps  make soil acidic enough to change the blooms to blue. Along with our herb garden that we’ve successfully kept alive for three weeks now, I’d consider my thumb pretty green by now. After the plantingpalooza, we went to work on preparing our grilled pizzas for dinner. We purchased pizza dough for one pizza, but wanted to try something different for the other crust. We decided on a zucchini crust recipe that had the potential to be really good. The recipe calls for 2 eggs, and we unfortunately only had egg whites to use. It turned out OK, but I think it was missing the egg yolk component to help the zucchini and cheese really stick together. As if the DIY crust wasn’t ambitious enough, we decided to push our domestic-limit for the day, and make our own pizza sauce as well. It turned out amazing! We did one Margarita pizza (using basil we grew ourselves #winning) and one with jalapenos, prosciutto and goat cheese.  Pop those bad boys on the grill for 15-20 minutes, and you have yourself one amazing masterpiece. We paired our pizzas with some wine from Mr. Charles Shaw, and called it a night.  All of the domesticity and excitement of actually being the owner of my own hydrangea plant really wore me out!

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Can’t take him anywhere

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Zucchini Crust Before

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Zucchini Crust After

Sunday: We started the day by “going” to Church…which sometimes consists of turning on the computer and watching Andy Stanley, from North Point church in Atlanta, preach.  We had hoped to actually go to our church here in Charlotte, but sometimes catching it online is the only option. After church, we headed to a high school graduation party for Matt’s bosses daughter. Brownie points? I think so. His boss is hilarious and we always have a great time when we hang out with him. There are times when I forgot that he’s actually Matt’s boss, and not just a friend. His family is also really great, and they have an awesome house with a great yard they just redesigned. The party was pretty large, but we ended up sticking around until most of the guests had left. After quite a few beers, we left right before things started to get weird. Since we were already in the south-side of town, we decided to head over to my parents house and surprise them with a quick little visit. It was nice catching up with them before winding down and preparing for another work week ahead.

Mr & Mrs Robert Lincoln Stanton III

On May 18, 2013,  my sister became Mrs. Stanton! I know I am partial, but her wedding was the single-most amazing event I’ve ever been to. Everything was perfect, it was a real life  fairy-tale!  The venue, food, and flowers were topnotch and the family, friends, and entertainment all brought special meaning to the weekend. The love and excitement between Whitney and Bob was contagious.  Three weeks later and I’m still smiling!  Excuse the quality (most of these are iPhone pictures) but here is a sneak peak of the newlyweds nuptials!

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Venue: The Duke Mansion, Charlotte, NC

Wedding Coordinator: Melanie McKelvey – TaDas Event Coordinator 704.564.3956

Hair: Tammy Folden 704.607.5819

Make-up: Jenny Le 704.458.4988

DJ: Split Second Sound, Steve Braedel

Cake: Got What It Cakes, Mandi Miller

 

Why 30 is not the new 20

Hi Blog Readers – Sorry I’ve been a ghost for the past few weeks. The Monday after the wedding extravaganza (pictures to come this week!)  – my boss left for a 6-8 week medical leave of absence. Since it is just she and I on our team, I am doing my job along with hers as well. Talk about overwhelming! I am trying to stay sane and view it as a tremendous learning opportunity, and also a way to prove that I am capable of taking on more responsibilities.

I recently stumbled upon this TED talk given by Meg Jay. Being in my mid 20’s, I receive a lot of mixed messages. Some people will tell you that your 20’s are for exploring and ignoring “adult” topics.  A time to enjoy your freedom and delay growing up. Meg’s TED talk will totally change your outlook on your 20’s. “Throwing away” your 20’s can have negative effects on your career, marriage, and development. A few points that really stood out to me…

  • There are 50 million 20-somethings in the US right now – makes up 15% of the population
  • 80% of life’s most defining moments happen by age 35.
  • 8/10 of the decisions and experiences that make your life what it is will happen by your mid 30’s
  • The first 10 years of your career makes exponential impact on how much money you’ll earn
  • 1/2 of Americans are dating, living with, or married to their life partner by age 30
  • The brain caps off it second and last growth spurt in your 20’s as it rewires itself for adulthood – whatever it is that you want to change about yourself, NOW is the time!
  • Personality changes more in your 20’s than in any other time in life
  • Female fertility peaks at age 28 and gets more complicated after age 35