Walking in Memphis, Tennessee

“God bless the boys from Memphis, blue suede shoes, and Elvis Presley.” -George Jones

Now, let me preface. My time in Memphis last week wasn’t my first trip to the area, but I loved every minute all the same. It’s fun to have the opportunity to explore cities close enough to home that they already feel familiar, but you undoubtedly find something new each time you take a look around. This trip was no exception.

When you travel alone you get used to doing things by yourself–whether it be exploring a new area, trying a local restaurant, or even taking an Uber to a neighborhood you’ve been wanting to see (struggles of being in fun cities without a car of your own). During my Leadership Development visit with our Gamma Zeta chapter at the University of Memphis, I decided to take an afternoon off to head over to the Cooper Young District–a thriving area home to young professionals, delicious food, and hipster coffee shops, AKA my personal version of heaven on earth. The day wouldn’t have been complete without a nod to Mr. Elvis Presley himself, so of course I wore my favorite blue suede heels from J.Crew (they no longer sell the color but I’ve linked the style for reference).

Here’s a little rundown of my afternoon stroll:

  1. Muddy’s Bake Shop: This place is so comfy and fun and was the perfect nook for me to catch up on email and get some work done with a matcha latte in hand. It used to be a residential home so it has its own fireplace, porch, and a distinctly local feel. They even have a cake studio where chefs create custom designs for weddings and parties!
  2. Burke’s Book Store: I’m fairly certain I could spend the rest of my life in this bookstore. It’s one of those rare gems where I could sit for hours looking through history books and dreaming I lived back in the 1920s (totally a reasonable thing to wish, right?). Another fun fact: this bookstore is the place where I bought my first copy of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden two years ago, which has since become my all-time favorite novel.
  3. Java Cabana: This place reminded me of JJ’s Marketplace in Nashville so naturally I loved it immediately. I got the iced chai with almond milk (second coffee shop drink of the day, no shame) and enjoyed the eclectic little atmosphere and fair trade coffee samples. There was a book club gathering happening in the corner and it was tempting for me to join in, but alas, I wasn’t prepared with the proper reading material.

For more details on Cooper-Young happenings, visit their website here. They have a whole series of events throughout the year and I wish I had longer to stay! This tiny neighborhood is just a taste of what Memphis has to offer and I already can’t wait for my next trip. (Hint: Graceland and Beale Street will definitely be on the agenda!)

-S

 

At a Glance: Liberty, Missouri

Today I walked around what I’m convinced is the real life set of Gilmore Girls. Liberty, Missouri is a suburb located about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City and home to William Jewell College, a private liberal arts college of around 1,000 students. I’m here this weekend visiting our Epsilon Epsilon chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta, and I am quickly learning why they call this place a hidden gem (because it’s a “Jewell,” get it?).

Liberty has the most authentic small town feel, which is amazing considering its proximity to downtown Kansas City. I’ve visited the KC area before because my dad grew up there, but this is my first time in Liberty and I have to say I’m falling in love. One of my favorite parts of this job is getting the chance to explore places I might never see otherwise, and this afternoon I got to do just that. Here are some highlights from my stroll through the campus and town square!

How beautiful is this place? If you ever get the chance to stop here while you’re in the area I highly recommend it. The historic downtown square has a collection of antique shops, boutiques, and a lovely coffee shop called Hammerhand where I holed up for several hours to do some writing. The fall colors are especially vibrant this time of year and I am in awe of how peaceful and secluded the town feels. I’m an urban girl at heart so the fact that this serene little suburb exists so close to the city is the best of both worlds.

One more pro tip: Try the frozen custard at Sheridan’s! The Alpha Gams are taking me there tonight and I have heard it’s a local favorite. Stay tuned to see if it lives up to the hype.

-S

Rose-Colored Glasses + New Chapters

Hey there, folks! It’s October, it’s a Monday, and it’s been awhile. Today I want to share something that’s been on my heart more often than not the past several weeks–along with the world’s most exciting update about Alpha Gam’s brand new chapter in Chattanooga, Tennessee! It’s been a busy few months and I couldn’t be more grateful (or tired). Life is happening so fast and it’s unbelievable how much can take place in the span of just weeks.

First I’m going to be vulnerable with you all for a second. As my post-grad friends are settling into their adult lives and establishing routines, this nomad lifestyle I’m currently living can feel a little out of place and strange. I am finding it far too easy to wonder what it would be like to have a home somewhere and a city to call mine. Frustration creeps up as I wonder how other people seem to have it all together while I can barely find the blazers hiding in the bottom of my suitcase. Or grab lunch just in time to cram into my middle seat on the airplane. “Glamorous jet-setter? Me?” I think. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

But let’s be honest–who doesn’t fall victim to this kind of self-talk?  How often have you pulled up your Instagram feed on a Sunday afternoon and scrolled through dozens of brightly colored photos of friends (many of whom you barely know) having what looks like the time of their lives in the most beautiful places? Comparison is a trap that pulls us in unsuspectingly and entangles us before we have a chance to run the other way. I think we often see other people’s lives through rose-colored glasses without taking a step back to remember that things are not always as they seem. We present these glossy exteriors to the world while hiding our mess right along with the coffee stains on our sweaters.

I guess my point here is that I’m working to shift this paradigm that tells me I should be meeting everyone else’s expectations. The truth is that we’re all just trying to make it in this world, in whatever random or hectic or #glam (not at all) way that we can. And if you’re ever sitting around wondering when in the world you’re going to measure up, know that you are certainly not the only one, and that timing has a tendency to work wonders if we surrender our need to control every little detail. Hang in there.

But now for my other news! This is what you actually wanted to hear, right? After a busy month of extension at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Alpha Gamma Delta has a brand new chapter of over 70 women who are already proving to be leaders on their campus and in the Fraternity. Extension can be a strange experience because you work diligently for weeks to create something that doesn’t exist at all yet. It’s easy to wonder how on earth the whole thing is ever going to come together and then panic and retreat to Starbucks because it all just seems too overwhelming. (Speaking from personal experience? Absolutely.) But the best feeling in the world is seeing women whom you and your coworkers have met on campus take the leap and join an organization that will change their lives. They’re getting to create something brand new that will be around for decades or even centuries. How mind-blowing is that?

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Today’s reminder: I appreciate you always (yes, YOU!) and am thankful to get to share experiences and stories with the people who matter the most. Happy October–have a wonderful few weeks and give yourself some space to be imperfect! Goodness knows the world needs more of that.

-S