2018 is Going to be Good, but Only If I am Good to It

I started 2017 as I have 2018; about to go abroad and anxiously awaiting for the future to just happen. The only difference now is that I am going abroad for a full semester and I have grown oh so much in the last year.

What Happened in 2017?

2017 brought me to not one but two new continents. It brought me new relationships. I never would’ve seen some of the opportunities I had coming until they were happening. I was truly lucky without always realizing that in the moment.

The end of the year brought some struggles that are hard to admit. My anxiety went from the most manageable it had been to something I had never experienced before. I had some sad, rough days that I cannot explain to this day. Also, I fell in love. I gained some opinions that I was seriously lacking. I learned a lot. I met some amazing new people. All the while I would constantly return to fight with my own thoughts and actions that did not align with what I wanted to be.

2017 may not go down in the history books as a good year, but in my own personal life it was a whole lot of good with just a few sour glimpses here and there.

Onto the Next

That brings me to 2018. I am excited to approach it with simple expectations, but I cannot forget what I learned last year. I cannot get caught up in my head. If my health is of concern, then I need to listen to my body. I can’t let any, dare I say, bad vibes get in my way or knock me down.

2018 had potential to bring me all that I have wanted lately; a peace-of-mind and a path to follow. I just have to give it a chance in the first place so that I am aware enough to see any opportunities in front of me. I cannot be drowning in self pity, no matter how rough things could genuinely get, because I wouldn’t want to regret missing out on everything this year has to offer. I believe that 2017 could have been better if I started that year off with the same idea.

2018 will be in no way perfect, but just the fact that I am finally going abroad at all is a big deal. It feels good to be doing something new and different. I just can’t get caught up in my head.

To be continued.

Casey

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I’m Going to London! Setting Intentions for my Spring Abroad

2018 is about to be quite a year for me. Last year I set specific goals, but now I am just going into 2018 as mindfull, eager to learn, and adventurous as possible! I am excited to have some people reading along, so plan to hear more from me as we go!

In what I can only imagine will be a quick 2 and a half weeks, I will be in London. Years of yes, no, and maybe so’s about studying abroad will be exchanged for a whole new set of thoughts as I navigate a new city and try to make it my home in just four months.

Everyone keeps asking me what I plan on doing when I am abroad. Have I got an extensive London bucket list? What am I most excited about? As I get closer, I definitely find myself thinking more specifically about my trip. Even the trips within the trip, considering I have all of Europe at my finger tips. For me, it all boils down to having an overall open mind set without being set on exactly what I will do and how it will go. I know there are some certainties that come with my trip, but the rest is waiting for me once I get there.

What I Know

I will visit five European countries besides England this Spring, but I am open to what countries those are. I have been saving to make sure that I can see the views that until recently seemed so unattainable to see. Greece beaches and Swiss mountains are what I envision, but I don’t want to get set on places that I may not find a companion to go with. I have my base number and I will be grateful to see whatever beautiful destinations I make it to.

There is a whole lot of food in Europe, and I plan to eat as much of it as I can. I will get self conscious about my body here and there, but every food baby should come down to being a sign that I am doing something right. It’s time to eat everything comforting, indulgent, sweet, spicy, and new. The food can be all or one of those things.

I know that my camera will be my best friend because just as it is important to live in the moment, it’s important to follow my passions and remember the entire experience.

What I Intend to Find Out

I may be in an English speaking country but that doesn’t save me from culture shock. I’ll see how they live across the pond, creating an adjustment period that is sure to leave me missing my friends and boyfriend back home. A long distance relationship is something I never imagined myself having to deal with, but on top of that I have to adjust to my life there and focus on myself. It’ll be a bit of a balancing act and a whole lot of learning on my part.

Going abroad for a month in Spain brought me a new sense of independence and confidence that has been dwindling since my return. I can only hope to learn about myself as I am forced to live for myself and make all of my own decision as I adjust and move forward.

Intentions and unknowns aside, I could not be more excited for what is to come. There is no denying that there are going to be tough times, but I know all of the tough times will be met with equally as amazing times. I plan on capturing as much of my trip as possible and sharing it with whatever readers stumble this way.

Here’s to an adventurous Spring 2018!

Casey

 

Less Talk, More Action: Part 2[017]

My 2016 motto was “less talk, more action”. As simple as it sounds, I was only relatively successful with it as far as joining my sorority, my summer working next to the beach, and booking a flight to Spain. 2017 is the year where I kick it up a notch.

I couldn’t go as far into the future as the lovely Paxton Mittleman did, my professional mentor who inspired me to write this up, but this list leaves me full of excitement for the coming year.

My 2017 Goals

The Measurable (in no particular order) 

  1.  Write everyday: It’ll help me in the long run, even if it’s just a quick jot.
  2. Get my nose pierced: Oddly enough my mom convinced me.dsc_1251
  3. Join a committee on my sorority: Saying “get more involved” was too vague.
  4. Get a great job in Delaware if I don’t get an internship: Gotta be realistic.
  5. Go to the beach once a month this summer: I miss it.
  6. Get a tattoo: Something dainty.
  7. Perfect the process of the french press: The Keurig isn’t cutting it, no matter how convenient.
  8. Apply for CEAStudyAbroad: Spring 2018 here I come.
  9. Get 500 followers on penneformythoughts: And enjoy the journey.screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-3-24-12-pm
  10. Try a new recipe once every 2 weeks a month: Can’t get too ambitious there, but different variations of the same thing don’t count.
  11. Visit a new [American] town or city: Road trip?
  12. Have a 30-photo nikon portfolio: Or have 30, high-quality photos I am completely and utterly proud of. Food photos don’t count.
  13. Parasail (again): I’d give zip lining a shot too.
  14. Learn [at least] one song on my guitar: I’m thinking James Arthur, Lauryn Hill, or the Lumineers-if not all three.
  15. Read 3 books on my own time: I’m not going to share how many books I didn’t read this year.

The Vague (to remind me how endless the possibilities of the future are)

  • Laugh until I cry: As much as possible
  • Stay Healthy: mentally and physically
  • Think More: Ask more questions and seek more answers
  • Stay positive: Constantly keeping that glass half full
  • Self love: Enough said

I am not making any promises to myself with this blog in particular because I can only hope my goals will fuel my passions and ideas.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Casey

You Can Call Me The Girl Who Ate the World

It was my creative writing class this semester that gave me the final push to return to my abandoned child of a blog. It reminded me that it’s not about what exactly I write but that fact that I am writing at all. The following personal narrative, and my final for the class, brings me nothing but pride and hunger for both food and adventure

Of all the posts to return to CC with, I think this is a curveball for all of us but enjoy!

The Girl Who Ate the World

By Casey Irwin

I plan on eating the world. Our planet we love and live for, I plan on devouring—and I don’t just mean I’m going to eat at the “Top Ten Restaurants in Rome”.

I am going to eat Rome.

Devour Moscow.

Consume Toronto.

Throw in some Hong Kong and even Vienna for dessert. I am going to eat the world until nothing remains.

I left Chicago because there was nothing left of it. I was eating away at it as I grew up, really learning the best mindsets when setting out to explore my city, person, or plate before me. My family nurtured me with putting experiences over everything, which showed me the best approaches to satisfying my hunger. I started off slow, not completely taking it in until the picky eater in me faded away and a big appetite took its place.  Even as I visit, returning only after it has had a chance to rebuild itself in my absence, I eat all that I missed and more of the surrounding areas. Eat one city and it is as if two grows back in its place. There is always something new to try while too much of the same also remains.

Next I will be on to Spain. I go. I try the Paella. The Jamón. The Tapas. But I don’t stop there. I consume the smiles that join me for every meal. I am given energy by the flowing conversation around the table. I snack on the satisfaction of a meal out, with a buzz from a coffee and a life-high hangover. Every element of Spain fuels me for my next trip, repaying the meals that my host family feed me with the filling feelings of appreciation and love. I leave without a regret; not a corner unturned.

Maybe India is next. India might be a bit harder to swallow, but I will take on any challenge if it means a full stomach. To some people it isn’t as pleasant as other places, but throwing enough spices on anything will make it tasty. I will be bloated by the rivers, and I’ll need to run off those festivals and traditions later. Social media will capture it all before there is nothing left to capture. Consuming India is a more intimidating idea, more than just the different table manners that come with a different place. It can take a lot of energy to step into a place without letting expectations and other people’s judgments take over, but what you get out of it is so much more. I won’t let the over crowded streets clog my arteries when there is something so satisfying about sharing a meal or traditional chai tea with someone that expects nothing from you except a smile.

Again I will be forced to question myself as I make my way to Egypt. History is like the bran muffin of subjects to some people, while to me the thousands of years of being marinated in conflict and culture have left Egypt ready to be cooked and consumed like a fine steak. My tongue may grow tired from trying to speak the native language, only to have my appetite grow with the humorous conversation around my mispronunciations. The tourist filled pyramids won’t stick with me, like how carbs never manage to keep me full for long. It’ll be the authentic restaurants and people that will carry me from one adventure to the next.

It’s then that I am ready for Melbourne, Australia. One of my high school best friends was from here, but I would like to think she would be encouraging and even helpful as I nibble away at it. The artistic support that has been created by the beautiful city, whether it be through the discussion around cafés or street art, will make it go down so smoothly. The intriguing thoughts brought up enrich my body more than any vitamin could.

Can’t leave out South America. I’ll make my way through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela by way of the Andes Mountains. The rough terrain has nothing on my chompers, making my way through small villages and vast cities. You would think that I would get tired of it after so many countries, but people tend to forget just how different the Latin American countries are. Only once I take a sip of satisfaction where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet will I move on.

To Baklava in Athens.

Korean Barbeque in Seoul.

Matriarchy in Mosuo, China.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Equality in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Only the penguins of Antarctica are safe. One sided conversations leave a bad aftertaste.

I will travel them all, picking my teeth clean of them one by one, until I have licked my plate clean and eaten it too.

~          ~         ~

 I would eat the world if I could; for I think it would taste pretty damn good.

That is the thing though. Food isn’t just food. We don’t just consume and grow from what we put in our mouths. Food is the conversation around the table. Food is the energy of whoever you care to share a meal with and the culture that surrounds its roots. Meals are remembered by the place they are eaten and who they are with. Food is an experience that can be done alone, but is so much better with people by your side to complete the experience.

The Five Ingredients to My Perfect Summer

I love summer. My allergies have finally adjusted to the beautiful flowers, my birthday is plopped right in the middle of Labor Day and Memorial Day, and everything is just more relaxing. What makes this summer special is that I am living on my own for a good part of it, and I am prepared to make it as great as I can. It’s one thing to be off of school, but it’s another to make the most of your time.

I was going to write up my five goals for summer, but I realized I didn’t want to pressure myself or hold myself to a to-do list like I do during the school year. This list is more of a reminder to myself, and others, for what summer is all about.

1.  Time to be CreativeIMG_7743.jpg

School does not leave a lot of time for writing for fun. It only really left time for my Spoon Articles, but summer gives me time to tackle both SpoonUD and my blog. More than that summer means summer cooking, baking, and photographing.

2. Beach Bumming it

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Ten years ago, I never would’ve imagined how much I love the beach after I used to leave it burnt, dirty, and tired. Now I hope to spend as much skin-healthy time at the beach as I can. Game are fun, but the real beauty is in just lying there. Just me and the waves–The savage seagulls I could do without.

3. Work Work Work

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Now I can’t actually spend every day at the beach. A lot of my time is going to be spent at working at a coffee/ice cream shop, and I am extremely excited about it. The lessons learned will last a lifetime while the money I earn in the summer buys me more fun for the rest of the year. I find working empowering, especially when it’s better than doing nothing compared to having an internship.

4. Keeping it Simple

A Simple Summer is a summer I like, and not just for the alliteration. Things seem to move slower, giving me time to sort through all of my things and thoughts in order to get rid of what I don’t need. I’ve realized how much I hate clutter, so summer is the perfect time to get rid of annoyances like that.

5. Adventures

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Nothing says summer quiet like adventures. I am not very familiar with my new Jersey shore home, but I plan on getting comfortable with my surroundings. It might be tough to drag yourself out of bed, but getting up early is so worth a day of exploring a new place.

I could not be happier to be back in the blogging game now that it’s time for summer. Same drill as before–I’m still growing up and figuring out what I want to write about.

Hope you’re all still interested in joining me.

Still sharing my conscience,

Casey

5 Rules I’m Following for My Professional Instagram

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.39.04 PM.pngSocial media continues to be a big part of my life, so I have been juggling with the idea of starting a second Instagram for months. I was not sure if I should take on the small commitment, if it would get too complicated, or if I should focus it more to food. I finally took the leap when I realized I needed to better separate my personal and professional life. The thing was that I do not want to separate them too much. I had to decide what I wanted to post in order to make sure the account did not just become another thing with my name on. It has finally come down to these few rules that I stick by:

5. Follow (almost) EveryoneIMG_0421.jpg

I’m constantly following new people in order to get my name out there or to have a more exciting feed. Following back requires more caution, but I try to be good for a follow and like.

4. Connect to Other Platforms

Not that this has helped me so far, but connecting my photos to my twitter or even this very post keeps everything connected and simpler. It creates a big picture that allows my friends, family, and future co-workers get to know me better.

3. @CaseyIrwin97 is basically @conscienceofcasey

I didn’t make a strictly blog-related Instagram because I wanted to encompass more of myself as a brand and not just post there when I post here, but I will always incorporate the two. On top of everything, Instagram in another way to promote my blog and another creative outlet that ai try to post on as much as possible. 

2. Keep it ArtsyIMG_0724.jpg

One of my favorite things about Instagram is the creative part of it. While my personal
account is still creative and pretty, my professional platform will have no boundaries and I will let myself have more fun with it.

1. Be Professional First, Myself a Close Second

My personal Instagram could easily be a professional one, but as I network and develop my skills I don’t think my friends would find conference photos quiet as entertaining. My professional instagram will incorporate my personal life and professional life into an feed that highlights my skills and social media interests.

I would love it if you could check out this Instagram I just rambled on about!

Constantly Captioning,

Casey

Support Cancer, Dancing, or Both

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Photo Via http://www.nydmnyu.com

 

A more serious note on this Monday morning…

Part of the reason I joined a sorority was for the philanthropy. I could tell from day one my sorority is passionate about everything they do–especially philanthropy. Joining them has only heightened my interest in helping others, so when I was recently given the chance to sign up to dance for 12 hours straight as part of an effort to raise money to fight childhood cancer, I knew I had to give it my all.

UDance is my school’s year-long effort to raise awareness and money to fight childhood cancer with the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. It accumulates into a 12 hour dance marathon, highlighting that our 12 hours of dancing does not add up to the difficulties that patients and their families face. I have signed up to be a dancer, as I mentioned, which means I have to raise a minimum of $460. My personal goal is $1000, but every penny counts. The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation was started after a father lost his young son, Andrew, to Leukemia. Andrew’s father, Joe McDonough, is an incredibly kind, warm, and funny man.

The story behind the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation really struck a cord with me. Imagining my own brothers dying in my arms, as Andrew’s sister had to experience, absolutely terrifies me and I feel bad energy thinking about it as a type. Out of that came a positive message about staying positive, or “be positive”, that I find so inspiring.

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Photo Via UDanceDelaware.org

I hope no one sees this post as an easy way out for my Monday schedule or a sell out, because I really just see it as the best way I know how to get the word out. I am writing to ask all of you to consider donating, or even just spread the word to someone who might. I don’t know most of you, but chances are you know someone affected by childhood cancer.

I am excited for this experience and to see how much money my school can come together to raise. Please donate to my personal page here… every single penny counts!

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Photo Via udreview.com

Thank you and have a great day.

Be Positive!

Casey