Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


How to Travel By Yourself

How to Travel By YourselfAs you read this, I’m actually galavanting around the UK and Ireland with my friend, Rachel, for the next two weeks. This trip is a #bucketlist item, and since we didn’t merit an invite from Harry and Meghan for the wedding, we planned our own jaunt across the pond. (Follow the adventure on Instagram!)

However, if you’ve read this blog for a while, you may already know that most of my travel is on my own. And I answered the question of how to travel by yourself a few days ago for someone, so thought I’d also share my tips here as well.

Sometimes I forget that not everyone travels solo because so many people in my circles do. As I’ve said before on this blog (many times!), I LOVE to travel. Whether I’m going an hour away from home, or to the other side of the world, it just fills me up the way few, other things do.

Different foods, different culture, different sites and sounds. It’s always a beautiful experience, and shows you that while the little space you occupy in the world is important, it’s not everything. Travel is a big source of inspiration for me, and I know that many others feel the same.

I’ve traveled to many states here in the U.S. by myself, either for a personal vacation or work purposes. And for my 40th birthday, I checked off one of my top bucket list items when I traveled to Spain. And, yes, I went by myself. That trip was sort of planned spur of the moment because I saw a great deal on a flight. I didn’t even take the time to ask anyone to go with me because I booked the ticket within 10 minutes of seeing the deal! I just knew I wanted to wake up in Barcelona for my 40th birthday, and this was my opportunity.

By now, most of my friends are married with kids, and I am single. So, understandably, it’s much more difficult for them to travel with a friend and not with their family. But my philosophy is that I want to see as much of the world as possible, and if I have to do it on my own to make that dream come true, so be it!

Over the last couple of years, I’ve also become an amateur travel hacker, which has allowed me to travel cheaply. Putting the time into learning these tricks has been well worth it to be able to do something I love…with as little money as possible. 🙂

So, if you’re thinking about setting out on a solo adventure, here are my best tips for how to travel by yourself:

  • I love attending conferences, and this really kicked off my solo travel experiences. I think it’s a great place to get started because you’ll already be in a room with people who have similar jobs, interests, or passions. That makes it easier to strike up a conversation, especially for us introverts. And I realize people have limited vacation time or budgets for professional development at work, but I wouldn’t let that stop you. For example, I’m involved in the anti-trafficking and social justice community, so a number of those conferences were taken on vacation time and self-funded. But I made friends at those events that I look forward to seeing every year at the next event, or even making a special trip to see them in their hometown.
  • If you’re on a solo vacation, book tours. I really love Viator and TravelZoo, as well as free walking tours. As I mentioned, I’m an introvert, so I made sure I had these kinds of things scheduled on my solo trip to Barcelona to ensure I’d be around people and having conversations with others. On one day trip, I met some lovely women from Australia, who were also traveling solo, and we had dinner together after the excursion had finished. You can, of course, do the same kinds of things in your home country.
  • I’m “directionally challenged” to say the least, so if you want to see a number of things, but aren’t sure how to get around and don’t have a rental car, buy a hop on hop off pass for at least the first day. Do this on your first, full day to help you get your bearings while someone else does the driving. Honestly, I kinda cringed at doing this in Barcelona because I didn’t want to put a big “tourist” label across my forehead, but it worked out wonderfully. I sat on the whole two-hour ride to see the city at a glimpse and figure out where things are, and how close they were to each other, and then I hopped off to see my top priorities. I only did this for one day out of the five I was there, but of course, it’s an easy method of transportation should you want to continue for a couple of days. And depending on the city, public transportation or ride sharing are other great options.
  • In Barcelona, I also booked a “tapas tour” on the first night. This was not only an effort to meet people and not eat alone, but it gave me a crash course on the local fare so I knew how and what to order going forward.
  • I’m sure no one likes to eat out alone, and I only do it when traveling solo, but it honestly just takes practice. I still don’t like to do it, and feel like everyone is staring at me, but I have to just remind myself that I’m in this wonderful place and this is part of the experience. Bring a book or something to occupy yourself, and you’ll get through it.
  • I love staying in hotels by myself, and I love room service! Just for your own protection, lock your doors, of course, and keep your eyes open, especially if you’re coming back late. 

Additionally, let me bring up one other thing that’s been super helpful for me over the past year or so: Facebook groups and social media.

I’ll soon be traveling to San Diego for a work conference by myself. Outside of hoping to meet people there, we have a Facebook group for everyone in the coaching program that is hosting the event. So, people have been in there making connections, setting up appointments, and even finding people to split hotels with.

I will also have several days on the back end to hang out in the area. I’ve been to San Diego a couple of times before, so I want to use this extra time for networking. So, I jumped into several of the Facebook groups I’m a part of, and asked them who might already be in that area or who I should meet while there. Because I work with nonprofits and social enterprises, these are potential clients. But, of course, it never hurts to just expand my network regardless. I’ve already had several responses from people who had recommendations or would like to meet up, so that’ll be another great way to fill my time—and get a tax deduction. 😉 

Obviously, we women should be careful when traveling solo, so I’m cautious not to include specific locations or dates in public spaces. But posting on personal or business social media accounts, or in Facebook groups can be a very easy way to find new friends or clients.

Pretty much of this just takes some time, practice, planning, and patience. But if you love to travel, don’t let anything stop you. Empower yourself, and go for it!

And if you have other tips, or want to tell me how these worked out for you, I’d love to hear!

Happy travels!

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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My Word for 2018

jungwoo-hong-100345So, how is it possible that it’s mid-February already! I really can’t believe how fast this year is flying by. And I think there are a few reasons for that, in my case.

The first is that I’ve been a busy, little bee. I had already started setting up for 2018 back in November, and then hard-core in December, so January rolled in like a freight train because it was heavily on my mind. The second is because I’ve been working a lot of hours. This is an intense season for a few reasons, but I also know I can’t keep it up forever, and am already starting to slow down due to the normal wear and tear of life.

But all of the above is due to my word for the year. While last year was momentous because it revolved all around building the foundation of my budding business, this year is the direct result. I mean, Signify wasn’t my word for the year for nothing! (That’s the name of my business, FYI.)

I usually start thinking about my word for the year in November. I think that’s a natural point when we start looking toward the future and how to finish our year well. At that point, I kinda knew the feelings I wanted my word to represent, but didn’t have a name for it yet. That came when I started to really pray about those feelings. And during a prayer, I used this one word, and I stopped in my tracks. THAT was my word! It was a beautiful, little revelation.

So, what was this word?


If you’ve read any of my previous posts about my word for the year, you know I like to use verbs. I like the action-oriented words because they symbolize intentionality for me. And so, while MOMENTUM is actually a noun, it implies action. And I kinda dig that.

February marks my 20th month in business. I consider those first six months, which were actually the last six months of 2016, to be my training wheels. Though I by no means have it all figured out (far from it!), that start gave me a chance to just get used to life as an entrepreneur. It was a good start, but difficult—ask any entrepreneur!

So, last year was all about trying to build a foundation. There was still plenty of “new” last year, but I was (slightly) more comfortable with it. The biggest challenge of last year was when I launched my digital presence, including my website, social media, and weekly blog. That took a lot of getting used to because, while important, none of that paid the bills. It was a lot of extra effort outside client work. But it slowly became a little more manageable.

For the first year of my business, I worked almost exclusively with friends. This was an absolute blessing, and the best way to start! I created Signify to support my friends professionally. After all, I was already supporting them personally, so this was a natural extension. But, of course, I needed to grow.

In the latter half of last year, I started getting more word-of-mouth attention, referrals, and more notice online. It started some new trends in my business, and it was exciting.

And now, I’m just a little further down the road, and I want to keep growing. I need to keep getting my name out there, so that more business keeps coming in. This is especially important because I differ from a lot of other people in my industry for two, main reasons: I like working with small businesses and I like working on projects. Most people are busy searching out big companies and getting retainer clients. Now, I’m not fundamentally opposed to either of those things, but it’s just not my absolute preference. But this means I have to do a lot of hustling to make sure work is coming in the door.

So, this year is all about MOMENTUM. I’ve put some good things in place, but need to extend my reach. And I think this word will help me do that.

However, though Signify is obviously a huge part of my life, it’s not the only reason I chose MOMENTUM. There are some personal habits I’d like to encourage as well.

One of those is my health. I’ve talked extensively on this blog about my chronic health issues, and I made a lot of progress last year. Even though being a solopreneur isn’t exactly stress-free, it’s allowed me to work from home full-time, get more rest, and allow my body to heal. So, I think 2018 will be another huge chapter for improving my health, and of course, that spills into all areas of my life.

Another personal reason that comes to mind is that I’ve been working on my morning routine since December. I have always been a night owl. It’s very hard for me to fall asleep before midnight most nights. But, of course, I also need to be productive in the day. And while it’s true that I can now set my own schedule, most of the world operates during certain hours, and it’s to my advantage to follow that. So, even though I don’t set an alarm now unless I have a morning meeting, I also don’t want to sleep too late. That means going to bed at a decent hour and waking up at a decent hour. In an ideal world, this would be 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. for me. (I require a lot of sleep, and always have.)

So, I’ve been building a more structured morning routine. Currently, it includes four things that take 20 minutes or so: The 5 Minute Journal, reading Jesus Calling, 10 minutes of meditation via my Calm App, and five minutes of yoga (I YouTube several.). I’ve also just started drinking hot, lemon water to start my day, and am enjoying that too. These are all habits I want to continue improving this year as they set the tone for my days.

There are some other personal and professional reasons as well, but in the interest of keeping this blog post a reasonable length, I’ll leave it at those since they are three, primary reasons.

And here’s my verse for the year:

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20

MOMENTUM. That’s my word for the year. And it’s got me pretty excited.

Have a word for the year? Tell me! I love hearing how people are being more intentional in their lives. 🙂


Interested in picking your own word for the year, but need some help? Here are some resources that might help:


My previous words for the year:

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My Third Annual New Year’s Retreat


The beautiful view from my room in Hiawassee, Georgia.

So sorry for the delay on this post. I literally hit the ground running on January 1st, and haven’t stopped. I’ve been working late nights and weekends trying to get on top of my goals for the year. But now that I’m slowing down a little, more because I’m tired than anything else, I wanted to update you on my third annual New Year’s retreat.

You can read more about my first and second New Year’s retreats here, but even as I’ve had some practice at this, I still made some key mistakes that you can learn from.

First of all, if you’ve never planned a personal or business retreat before, let’s start with my basic tips. (By the way, I use the terms business and personal kind of interchangeably since I’m self-employed and all areas of my life tend to overlap. 😉

  • The schedule and format are up to you! You can read, reflect, journal, hammer out notes on your computer, or however you’d like to spend your time. Retreats are a time to reflect and focus on specific goals, so do whatever supports those. But, you need to know what you’re going to do before you leave, so plan ahead. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out how best to use your time.
  • The location is up to you! I’ve taken retreats several hours away, and also just down the road. For me, it usually depends on where I have travel points to use. But you can camp, fly, or drive. You can rent a room, rent a house, or just borrow some space that someone isn’t using. The point, however, is to be away from home. You’ll get distracted at home, and that’s not what you want for your retreat.
  • The budget is up to you! It doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve eaten out, bought groceries, and stayed inside 99% of the time rather than spending money on activities. But there is always a way to fit it in your budget. On this year’s retreat, I actually paid for the hotel (thought I got a great Cyber Monday deal), so it was my most expensive retreat yet at $250.
  • Who you go with is up to you! You can take a retreat solo, or go with a spouse or business partner.
  • The length is up to you! If you’ve never done this, and aren’t sure how it’ll work for you, start small. Take a few hours and go to a co-working space, coffee shop, or park. Work up to a day trip, overnight trip, or even a couple of days. And then do it again!
  • Make sure you rid yourself of distractions! Turn your phone, email, and social media off. Tell people that you’ll be unavailable. Again, resist the urge to waste time. Make the most of your retreat, which is a total gift.
  • Know what happens when you get home. You likely need to act on what you accomplished at your retreat. Have a plan for when life gets back to normal.
  • Final tip: Create time for fun! I do this at the end to celebrate the retreat, and get my head of task mode.

Are you catching a theme here? Yep, it’s up to you! It’s called a personal retreat for a reason.

For my January retreats, I usually like to stick close-ish to home because I’ve just returned from holiday travel. This year, I drove about two hours north of Atlanta, which was a good distance, and also gave me enough time to finish an audiobook on the drive.

The only real downside to this year’s location is that we were going through a major cold snap here, and it was literally in the single digits while on my retreat. So, I just hunkered down rather than venturing out to coffee shops and other interesting places.

And as I said, even having planned my own retreats several times, I still made a few mistakes this year:

  • I didn’t think through the timing. I’d started my retreat on New Year’s Day the past two years, so that was the plan. BUT this year, I’d only been back in town for 48 hours before leaving for my retreat. And those 48 hours were fairly filled with activity. So, I was tired and slightly unmotivated when I woke up and had to drive two hours north to the retreat. However, this was important to me, so I sucked it up, and made the most of it! #entrepreneur
  • The other timing issue for me was the normal schedule I’d already developed for my business. The first of the month, and first of the week, is filled with things like writing my email newsletter, scheduling my social media, writing my business blog post, etc. So, the entire first day was spent on these items rather than digging into my retreat. That was frustrating.
  • I WAY underestimated what I could get done this time. My list was really long to try and accomplish in just a couple of days. I always tend to do this a little anyway, but I was way off this time because of an email series I wanted to watch that ended up taking most of day two.

The good news was, that the first of the year is typically a slow time for people, and I had some “buffer” time built in which allowed me to get few more things done when I got home.  So, if you can plan a little buffer time, that’s ideal. It’s hard to get out of retreat mode! It’s a beautiful place to be.

Regardless, this is why it’s important to know what exactly you’re going to be doing on your retreat, and also prioritize the most important items. That way, no matter what comes up, you get the essentials taken care of.

I really can’t stress taking a personal/business retreat enough. Here’s why:

  • They allow you to focus on very specific areas. This could be specific projects, long-term goals, or anything in-between.
  • They provide clarity. When you’re out of your own environment, you see things differently.
  • They provide renewal. If you love to travel, like me, you’ll get filled up with an experience like this one.

And I can’t state this enough times: retreats aren’t a luxury. This was a big lesson for me to learn, but they can be a vital way to re-examine your own business, goals, etc. There are so many ways to plan retreats to make them work for you.

As of last year, my goal is actually to take quarterly retreats, even if they’re short. This way I’m reflecting throughout the year, so I can make small adjustments along the way, rather than only doing that at the end of the year. It’s another way I strive to be intentional, and would recommend that approach for you as well.

Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to be a business owner to do this. They are a great tool for anyone to utilize. You just have to decide to make them a priority. We all put our time and money somewhere, so it’s up to you to decide.

Finally, if you think a retreat would be a great idea for your year, get it on your calendar now! If you wait, you’re more likely to keep putting it off. Again, it’s about prioritizing it.

If you decide to plan your own retreat, let me know any of your lessons or best practices. Or even just tell me how your retreat went. I’d love to hear!

(And if you have any questions about a retreat, just let me know!)


At the end of this year’s retreat, I stopped in nearby Helen, Georgia. It’s a strange, fun, and touristy place north of Atlanta that resembles a Bavarian village. But it was a good spot to stop, grab lunch, and walk around for a bit before returning home.

You can see more pictures here in Instagram.

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I posted this quote to my business’ Facebook Page today. It’s a quote I don’t think I’ve heard before, but I loved it the moment I heard it on my Calm meditation app this morning.

It may seem weird, but I always look forward to reading the MLK quotes on this anniversary. I am continually overwhelmed by how much wisdom, determination, and courage was wrapped up in one person. It’s almost unfathomable.

Hearing his words, no matter where they’re posted, humbles me and brings me to tears every year, and I am a better person for it.

I even wrote about it on this previous post, “Why I Fight,” which explains my admiration for him, Moses, and Abraham Lincoln, and how I am part of their legacy in the search for social justice. So are you, should you choose to be. There is a place for each of us.

I pray we do not post a quote on days like today and leave it at that, though. I pray we remember his legacy and sacrifice, and strive to be better people, and better citizens of this planet. Everything we do affects everyone else, to sum up another one of his quotes.

May we be people of peace and love, not of fear and division.

Happy MLK Day.


Happy New Year!


“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller

Wishing you a prosperous and joyous 2018!