Sleepless in Seattle.

Seattle is one of those places in the world that I fell in love with without even stepping foot in. Honestly, it’s probably because a few of my favorite movies & shows are set in this city. (I’m looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy.) But also, one of my dream jobs is based in Seattle. I’ve stalked this city madly in hopes of moving there in the near future. I’ve gone as far as looking at real estate and rental apartments. It’s pretty embarrassing, but I have been known to move my whole life in a brand new place without thinking of consequences or repercussions. It has been pretty okay so far, but that mindset has sort of prepared me into understanding how nothing stays the same forever. I could just now easily let go of places, material things, or even people. But before delving deeper into my psyche and how it works, lets go back to the topic at hand: Seattle.

Oh Seattle; the skyscrapers, the sea, the markets and the art. Everything about this city, just had a way of drawing me in. I went there to meet up with three of my favorite people in the world; Ryan, Anna & Pierre (my Vegas siblings) because we haven’t seen each other in a long time, and we’ve always wanted to travel together, but it’s never panned out. I’m so glad it finally did, and in this hip city of all places!

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AirBnB with #staywithvioure IG: @coffeecityglam for inquiries.

I didn’t quite get enough of Seattle as I’d hoped, but the few short days we were there was enough to convince me that it’s definitely a place I’d consider a future in. Granted, we were there on probably three out of the only few days of the year that it didn’t rain. We got pretty lucky that it was all sunny days during our trip, which somehow kind of tells me something, because I have this memory of an old lady telling me about this belief that if it rains the first time you visit a certain place, it means you are coming back.

Traditional customs aside, I definitely feel like I will be coming back to this colorful city!

In the first stop of our “Top Places to Visit in Seattle” tour. We went to a breakfast place highly recommended by locals. We had to wait in line a little bit before the place opened, but it was definitely worth the wait! Pike Place Chowder deserved all their “#1 Awards” plastered all over their restaurant. Their Seafood Bisque & Seared Scallop Chowder we’re both really top notch. There’s a reason why they’re the #1 Chowder in the US. I really can’t describe it any better! Also, I could probably only count the times I’ve had chowder in my life in my two hands, so I don’t really have a lot to compare it with, but out of those few times, I’d agree that this was the best!

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One of my favorite places we went to was the Pike Place Market. We had a conversation about how much the fish stink was very nostalgic. It felt like home somehow, because you could smell the ocean, and it just reminded me so much of the wet markets in the Philippines that I remember I never really enjoyed going to. It was funny, I never appreciated the fishy smell back home, but being away from it for such a long time and experiencing it again in the US is definitely something that felt almost bizarrely exciting. Aside from the fish that gets thrown around and caught by fishermen/vendors, Pike Place also sold a variety of fresh things around the wet market, like flowers, vegetables, and organic jams. 

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Underground was where they had the dry area where all these really eccentric, amazing shops were located. It was very colorful and fun just going in and out of shops, boutiques, pharmacies and libraries. Each place had it’s own personality, and it was just very amusing to see everything.

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We spent a lot of time in the stores just wandering aimlessly feeling like there was no concept of time whatsoever, and that we were almost in a different world. As we went up and out, that’s when we realized that we were back in gloomy old Seattle, back in the real world, and our adventure resumes.

The next stop, in an alley just outside the market, was where we discovered the Seattle Gum Wall. Not as exciting as everyone makes it out to be, but it was very entertaining to be there.

It was literally the most disgusting yet colorful display I’ve ever seen in my life. Imagine being around thousands of people’s combined spit, and you’re standing a feet away from it. It does feel as gross as it sounds, but it was such an awkwardly hilarious experience. I will not go further into the depths of  what we each did to get a great picture, so I’ll have you just enjoy them.

Most of the day we spent just walking around, eating and shopping and just generally enjoying each other’s company. We decided to rest up a little bit so we could meet Ryan’s friend for dinner, and see the city at night.

As beautiful as Seattle was in the day, nothing compares to what it looks like at night. We went to a place called Kerry Park where we had a full view of the city lights and the iconic Space Needle in between all of it.

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#findgizel Anna version in Seattle

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#findgizel Pierre version in Seattle

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Also, the Escape Room virgin in me did my very first escape room experience and had so much fun. I was literally halfway out the door because I thought it was one of those interactive scary kidnapping experiences. I still don’t understand why people pay for stuff like that, but, that’s them. Anyway, we did a witch themed escape and managed to solve the puzzle just 3 minutes before the timer! Pretty proud for my first time. Thank you to The Escape Artist for such a great experience, and the free winner’s pin!

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We went to a carnival themed bar called Unicorn on Capitol Hill, and had this really fun drink. I already forgot what it was called, but that’s one way of saying that I definitely enjoyed it! The bar was very whimsical, and the people in Seattle were very interesting in a fun, eccentric way. This definitely explains why everything in this city is very colorful and almost magical. (at this point, I’m running out of adjectives to describe this city.) At the end of the night, there’s no one else I’d eat grimy sidewalk hotdogs with, other than these three.

On the last day of our trip, we squeezed in a couple of food places and a bunch of city walking and people watching before our collective flights in the airport. Every street or building has such a character that it was fun just walking around despite the cold.

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Myself and Anna sneaked a little donut date(breakfast) from Mighty-O Donuts, because the sign has been calling to us and we’ve been talking about it non-stop ever since we arrived, and we just never really got the chance to come in the first few days. They had really great organic donuts and coffee, and we had a great view of hot men falling from the sky (No, I will not explain this sentence.)

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Then, just before heading to the airport, we had a quick lunch at Pier 57 in a place called The Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar, where we had great fish & chips and even greater service.

The flight back home made me very sad because I was saying goodbye to a city that I really loved spending time in, and three people I really love spending time with.

See you again soon, Seattle! And to my three siblings: I wish we go on another trip soon!

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#findgizel in her future home, Seattle.

xx Gizzy

interesting finds in an interesting city

Once in a while you discover new things about a place that’s considered as somewhere that’s “always just been there.” You ignore it without realizing how beautiful and actually great it is. That’s my relationship with Denver. I’ve always seen Denver as a place to layover when I’m headed home, or when I’m leaving home. Despite the many different times I have been in this city, I’ve never actually gone past the airport. I almost somehow have it memorized better than any other airport in the world. Landing and taking off, I would often think how ugly and empty Denver seemed.  Turns out, the actual city proper is a half hour or more away, and I’ve just been viewing the almost secluded “ugly and empty” landing strip.

One of my best friends(ew) Ricardo, decided that he is turning himself into a “traveler” and will now be going to places he’s never been to; and because we’ve missed being assholes to each other in person, we’ve missed each other(ew, again) and none of us have ever really spent time in Denver, we decided to come “travel” the city together.

The city is such a fun and colorful place with a lot of hidden gems everywhere, even in the alleys! It’s one of those places that’s very artsy-funky, and historical but also kind of modern at the same time with a gorgeous mountain view surrounding it.

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We spent most of the time we were there just walking around Union Station and discovering something new around the area every single day.

 

 

 

We paid a visit to the Denver Art Museum and had so much fun watching the exhibits. Although, to be honest, I think we probably weren’t sophisticated enough for Rembrandt because we seemed like two fishes out of water compared to all the guests inside that gallery. The museum had so many interesting art displays that we must have spent hours literally just getting lost in there.

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When we left, the outside actually felt like an extension of the museum. Almost every building-wall was painted with cool murals; a lot of the alleys had interesting interactive installments; random areas in the streets and outside some of the buildings were a couple of weird-but-cool statues; and pretty much everywhere else was a random street performer a mile away from one another.

 

 

 

The food places we’ve been to eat were also nothing short of amazing. I have no complaints with every single place we went to. It might’ve possibly been the other way around though, since at one point, we went to an all-you-can-eat Korean restaurant and REALLY got our money’s worth. The waitress looked at my tiny frame and probably assumed I ordered more than I could handle. She was wrong. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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On the nights that we went out, we had such a great time because the Denver night life is actually pretty exciting. All the bars are walking distances from each other, and we pretty much went inside each one of them for one drink or just to warm up. They all had good local beer, funny-named drinks, and were just all-in-all really great places to chill in.

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My favorite must’ve  been the place called 1UP. It was this really cool bar that’s partly an arcade. The whole place was surrounded with a lot of different vintage pinball machines and arcade games with the full bar situated in the middle of the whole thing. People pretty much just casually took turns playing games while drinking and mingling. Not a lot of mingling from my part since I was mostly just playing and I was being a little competitive.

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Towards the end of the night, we randomly walked into this bar called Ophelia’s and ended up staying there ’til closing time because we had so much fun people-watching and surprisingly enjoyed ourselves dancing to 80’s music.

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During our last day, the weather decided to match with our feelings, because it was suddenly too cold and gloomy. It was scheduled to snow the night we were both leaving, so the city was a little dark and empty. Not a lot of people were walking around the streets because the weather was around 20 degrees.

 

 

 

We also just bit the bullet and braved the freezing weather to do the full tourist experience and just walk from landmark to landmark in the city hall and the civic center.

 

 

 

 

 

Our uber driver suggested for us to visit Larimer St before we left, and we were not disappointed! Despite my frozen fingers and Ricardo’s swollen ears, we managed to still do our dumb photoshoots and enjoy ourselves. Larimer St was amazing! They had a great festive Christmas display(and if you know me, you know how much I love Christmas!) They had all the christmas lights turned on in the middle of the day because it was such a gloomy morning, but that just made it  even more interesting to look at.

 

 

 

The whole time I was there, I just felt happy and unfazed by my version of real-world stresses. It made me want to commit to making it a habit of visiting Denver as much as I possibly could. I know there will be a lot more to discover, and I can’t wait for more adventures.

Til next time!

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#findgizel in Denver, Colorado

xx Gizel

 

Heading Home.

This is the first time I’ve been home in three years, and despite having a lot of things change, there are also a couple of things that I’m glad has remained the same. 

My family, that is living in three different states, decided to all come home together to celebrate mine, my nephew’s and my mom’s birthday. In the two weeks that we are all back in the homeland, we’ve managed to spend every single day in the places we loved, with the people we loved. 

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Things that have changed: Cleo’s hair
Things that remained the same: Korean BBQ dates 🍱🍱
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Things that have changed: This girl is now a celebrity
Things that remained the same: She is still my langka Dani 😎💃🏻

 

Things that have changed: SM CITY BACOLOD
Things that remained the same: My love for this boy.
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Things that remained the same: My best friends.
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Things that have changed: This girl is now a dentist!
Things that remained the same: Our bond since we were 12 years old. 👯‍♀️💕

 

 

Things that remained the same: KARAOKE!!

 

 

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Things that have changed: We all have adult lives now.
Things that remained the same: Our friendship since 3rd grade.

 

Things that remained the same: Bacolod City Traffic
Things that have changed: This boy is now here to experience it. #babydriver

 

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Things that remained the same: The laughter and excitement of seeing each other.

 

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42335823_10155721490838639_1311388098269020160_nThings that have changed: These new coffee shops in my city.
Things that remained the same: Coffee dates with these people.

 

 

Things that remained the same: The fake laughter poses and the real laughter afterwards.

 

 

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Things that have changed: Possibly everyone’s waistlines.
Things that remained the same: Amazing Negros Occidental food.

 

42249253_10155722205893639_6503703405343539200_nThings that have changed: This girl.
Things that remained the same: This girl.

 

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Things that remained the same: Drinking buddies.
Things that have changed: We have better taste in alcohol now.

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Things that remained the same: Family & Food.

 

 

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Things that remained the same: my adorable grandmother.
PS. Please never change!!

 

Things that have changed: How we look.
Things that remained the same: How we feel about each other. ❤

 

42504783_10155730867038639_3231440845555105792_nThings that have changed: Braces
Things that remained the same: He is still guapo.🙄

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Things that have changed: Bea is very successful in her career choices.
Things that remained the same: Our height difference! hahaha😂😂
42611770_10155732515778639_8476204897384005632_nThings that have changed: We are not twins anymore. 😦
Things that remained the same: Émile’s size since high school. HAHAHA! 😂

 

Things that remained the same: Our lasting friendships. ❤

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Things that have changed: Our experiences.
Things that remained the same: The pain in our stomachs from laughing everytime we are together.

 

I am very grateful to have been given the chance to be back to see all these changes, and enjoy the nostalgia of what has remained the same, it made me realize how I should keep coming home as much as possible.

Until next time, Philippines.

xx Gizel

 

Have you heard, there’s a rumor in St. Petersburg?

This is not a review.

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Over the course of this trip, my four-year-old self would’ve probably been leaping for joy for having her dreams fulfilled. Growing up, I was obsessed with the cartoon Anastasia as well as the real one. I remembered always researching about Russian history even though I never really needed to learn it in school. I’d get giddy reading about the Romanovs in history books as well as fiction books. I loved learning about Anastasia’s life and family.

I used to have this CD of a collection of songs from the musical cartoons of “my time.”  My mom would play it in the car for me and my sisters and that’s how I was able to memorize the lyrics to even the most random songs such as “Poor Unfortunate Souls” by Ursula from The Little Mermaid or “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” by General Shang from Mulan. One of my favorite songs from that CD was Anastasia’s “Journey to the Past.” There was something about the way she was singing her story that captivated me. I think that started my passion for musicals and theatre.

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When I first found out that they were making a broadway version of one of my favorite cartoons, I just about flipped. I made it a goal to see it live. I never thought that it would’ve even been a slight possibility considering I also made it a goal to watch Britney Spears live and was never able to despite the fact that I lived in Vegas for two years during her residency. I think it began with what was just a random conversation between me and my friend Skippy about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child show that suddenly led us to rush ourselves into buying tickets to New York.

Fast forward to us finally being in the Broadhurst Theatre for their evening performance, watching and falling in love with Christy Altomare and pretty much everything about the show. The best part was me not realizing that my ultimate broadway crush, Ramin Karimloo was also performing. As excited as I was about everything, I did not do research beforehand, so I just enjoyed the pleasurable surprise.

Before it started, I practically had to drag Skippy in with me. He was mostly “Oh this is no big deal,” “These things don’t make sense,” and “I’m not that interested in musicals.” Imagine my surprise when after they ended the first act with “Journey to the Past” I looked at him and realized that both of us were huge emotional wrecks. He told me he’s been crying (in secret) because of how amazing the show was.

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Towards the finale, the crying wasn’t a secret anymore. I have converted my friend into a broadway geek, and finally ladies and gentlemen, my work here is done!

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If you’re ever in New York for a quick visit, I highly recommend watching Anastasia: The Broadway Musical.

 

xx Gizel

On Wines and Castles.

I am one of those people who’s slightly a little bit obsessed with old castles. It’s not the grandeur or the lifestyle, but more of the history and mystery of huge places that  served as a home for some people that’s just so attractive to me.

Castles are dark, outdated, dingy, sometimes scary, but for some reason, something about it draws me in. I am in love with them! I love watching old movies set in castles, or the new ones that feature them. I’ve always wanted to live in one (not as a royal, but just a regular person living in a really old, really big house.)

Because everybody in my family has a weird work schedule, we knew that spending the holidays together would be difficult. So we planned to see each other earlier to spend our very own “Christmas” and “New Year.”

The thought of traveling always puts me in a good mood.

This December, we flew to San Francisco and visited a little castle-slash-vineyard in Napa Valley.

The drive up to Castello di Amorosa was such a sight. I’ve never seen this much greenery in Vegas, where I currently live. It made me sad for a little bit, but I quickly moved on as soon as I saw the castle.

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I don’t understand what it is about a dark place that could make me so happy, but I just let myself bask in the joy it gave me. I was slightly disappointed the vineyard looked a little empty, I wasn’t sure if we arrived before harvest season or just after harvest time, so I just  went ahead and distracted myself with walking around inside.

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Also, wine tasting, because why not?

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Maybe it’s because I’m weak, or just because I’m Asian and get embarassingly tomato-red when I’m a little drunk, that I prefer getting buzzed as slow as possible. I may know my way around tequilas and gins, but for wines, the sweets will always be my go-to.

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The courtyard was pretty, the corridors were charming. I may have secretly pretended to be a princess prancing around the hallways the whole time we were there. I wish they had an AirBnb or bed-and-breakfast sort of setting because I would definitely book a week’s stay to just day drink and run away from work.

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Castles and Wines are the perfect combo!

Link to location for questions and reservations

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#FindGizel

xx Gizel

Yes and No

After graduating, (yes I already graduated, finally!) I had hoped to have at least a few months to unwind, relax and RECOVER from 17 years of education. But life apparently has other plans for me. Not more than four days later, I was offered a job at sales. I did not look for it, it came to find me, and as much as I understand how it is an actual opportunity to at least try, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m too afraid to.

The fear of the next chapter is too real for someone like me.

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This is now a time for job hunting, embarrassing interviews, new kinds of stresses, failed relationships and an even more extreme dependency for coffee. But here I am looking for great places to get lost to in a short period of time .

And I know EXACTLY what people will say about it.

“That’s not practical.”

“What are you going to do with your life?”

“Do you even have goals?”

“How do you expect to feed yourself without money?”

“Find a job first, then travel all you want after.”

 And I also know EXACTLY how to answer those questions; I know it’s not practical but I still DON’T know what to do with my life and I’m hoping that this bit of soul-searching will lead me to my actual goals. I’m not too picky on food but I’m more specific on experiences that will feed my soul and my being, and I’d rather travel and call it a job, or find a career that revolves around that. You see I am a restless wanderer, and keeping me stuck in a routine will literally make me crazy.

But I know this answer is selfish, so usually to the people who judge my decisions I’d just shrug and say:

Yesterday was the second day for the Panaad Festival which featured a concert where Joey Ayala and Gary Granada will perform.

If you don’t know them, I have no right to ask you if you’ve been living under a rock because they seriously are not that popular, IN THIS GENERATION. But during their time, they were basically legends.

And how is this connected to my current post-grad-quarter-life-crisis? Well, I just happened to spend the whole day with them. (Sometimes my volunteer work in the culture and the arts industry has its perks!)

Yesterday was a fulfilling experience to my heart, mind and soul (and tummy!) The food and company was amazing in a place where nature was overwhelmingly welcomed.

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I was again in the presence of people who knew what their passion was and it resonated in everything they did. Sure they were a bit eccentric, talking openly about marijuana, depression, mental disorders and hippie life in the 80′s but being around them made you feel a sort of freedom. Their openness was welcoming and a bit, liberating.

We had this conversation about the educational system in the country; Sir Joey said something about the difference between training and education that “training was teaching you what exactly you’re supposed to do in an organized routine” and that “Education was actually learning by yourself how to handle the surprise attacks of life.” It was pretty deep, and I honestly can’t remember how our conversation led to that but it made me ponder and share my thoughts to the group as well.

“Then in school, we were not being educated, we were being trained.”

“Exactly.”

I felt cheated. 17 years of “education” which was actually training for employment.

And now, I don’t know what to do next.

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The talks about their experiences became sort of life advices for me who is just trying to start out in life. Whatever career I want to pursue, all actions of today will lead to that.

I will still be looking for my passion, and whatever feels like it’s not right for me, I won’t do it; and all the things I think I could maybe do, I will. Yesterday I was told that, I shouldn’t study deeper into the things I’m already good at. It’s there and will still be there for me to improve on and excel in. What I should try to learn will be things I haven’t tried yet, coz then, that’s how I will find my passion.

Learn to say no, and at the same time, don’t let your fears stop you from saying “Yes.”

 

xx Gizel

2013 in a tiny Box.

Who knew events of the year could fit in a tiny, old DKNY watch box?

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I got the concept from tumblr exactly a year ago. It was New Year’s Eve, and I saw this picture of a glass with what seemed like letters inside it. The idea was to write out things that made you happy in the course of the year in small pieces of paper, and store them in a jar, and then read everything you wrote by the end of the year.

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When I opened my tiny “Best of 2013” box, I felt excited. I haven’t opened any of these small pieces of paper ever since I started writing them. One by one I slowly opened, and read these happy moments that I wrote

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They made me remember the moments and made me feel all sorts of things: happiness, nostalgia, and sometimes, regret, for missed opportunities, plans that didn’t pull through, things that don’t happen, and people that I don’t see anymore.

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But here I am, on my first day of 2014, reading memories about life, love, friends, and family that made me happy throughout 2013. I giggled at some, and cried happy tears in the others.

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They made me realize that what makes me happy the most are simple things, like having random sleepovers with my friends, coffee dates, roadtrips, and the beach. I wrote about the most random and small things that made me appreciate my days, some as simple as “waking up to a good hair day” or something big like “seeing a falling star for the first time.”

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I’m pretty sure I wasn’t able to write about every happy memory that happened to me in the year, but it’s okay. I had a tiny box, that was filled with love letters to myself. It’s proof that, despite the lows that I’ve experienced, a lot of good things happened to me in 2013, and I’m thankful for that.

xx Gizel

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Photos by: Me