#BlogtemberChallenge Day 23: My City

A guide to your city! Share some of the hot-spots and hidden gems of where you live.

If you’ve read even a single post on this blog, you know that I love my city. It’s my favorite city in the world. I went through hell and high water to get here, and frankly, I go through it every day just to keep living here. It’s worth it.

My city is New York City.

The view from Hudson River Park

The view from Hudson River Park

I’ve only lived here for six months, though (almost to the day!) so I’m still learning myself. I think I could live here forever and still be learning. I sat next to a family on a flight Monday that was going to visit NYC for the very first time. Every time they told me something they were planning to do (Phantom of the Opera, a helicopter ride over Times Square, the Statue of Liberty…) my response was, “Oh, I’ve heard that’s so fun! I haven’t done it yet, though…”

So, what have I done? These are some of my very favorite ways to spend time in NYC:

  • Sit in a park with a book. My favorites are the High Line, Hudson River Park, Central Park (of course!), Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
  • Smorgasburg. Every weekend local restaurants set up at a riverfront park in Brooklyn (East River State Park on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays) so you can stuff your face and stare at the city’s skyline.
  • Eat. Nearly all of the food here is phenomenal, whether you’re getting a fancy dinner at DBGB or a slice of dollar pizza at a corner shop.
  • Drink coffee. Visit local coffee shops instead of one of the 8 trillion Starbucks. Trust me – you get not only fantastic coffee, but the owners are always great fun to chat with. My favorites are Happy Bones and Two Hands.
  • Sit on rooftops. As much as I love admiring the skyline from across the East River, sometimes it’s fun to be in the middle of Manhattan and rise above the madness. I love the Empire Hotel for drinks (bonus: It’s Chuck Bass’ hotel on Gossip Girl) and Rockefeller Center for views.
  • Wander aimlessly. If I want to explore but don’t want to plan, I take the subway to a random station and explore that neighborhood. There is so much to see and do here, and that can be a really low-key way to do it.
The view from the Empire Hotel

The view from the Empire Hotel

Brave Love Blog

What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC? I’m always looking for ideas!

#BlogtemberChallenge Day 21: Fall!

Fall Favorites. What do you love most about this season?

Wow, it’s officially fall! After an insanely hot and humid week following Labor Day (the “unofficial” start of fall, I’m told), we’ve actually been having fall weather in New York for a couple weeks now. I think.

View this post on Instagram

And just like that…it's fall. #nyc 🍂

A post shared by Leigh Anne Zinsmeister (@leighannezin) on

You see, I don’t really know fall. For the past six years, I’ve spent the months from August to December (and often other months as well) in Phoenix, Arizona. Fall didn’t really exist there. We’d be sipping our pumpkin spice lattes in 100-degree weather. Double-digit temperatures and the end of the summer monsoon were reasons to celebrate. The leaves didn’t change, the temperatures didn’t dip low enough for sweaters and boots. We’d drive up to Prescott on day trips to experience “fall,” but it still wasn’t the same.

With that in mind, I do know that I love…

  • Boots and sweaters. I’m excited to wear each of my sweaters more than once this season!
  • Pumpkin pie. It’s the only dessert I’ll pick over my true love, cheesecake.
  • My goofy Thanksgiving tradition.
  • The colors! Orange is my favorite color so I’m ready to see the leaves change.

Help me out! What defines fall for you? I’m truly at a loss here!
Brave Love Blog

#BlogtemberChallenge Day 20: A Day in the Life

Share a day in the life. Pictures, timelines, stats, however you like.

I don’t have a “typical” day. Usually I work 8-5, but one week a month I work overnight (don’t bother feeling sorry for me – I love it). Sometimes I work on the weekends and sometimes I have weekdays off. Sometimes I go out after work and sometimes I don’t. But today I’m going to try to outline a standard workday, if such a thing exists, because today I’m actually on vacation and not blogging at all 😉

6 a.m.: Alarm goes off for the first time. I hit snooze 0-3 times, depending on how much I need to do in the morning (namely, if I need to straighten my hair) and how rested I am.

6ish-7:15 a.m.: I get ready for my day, make my lunch, and eat breakfast while perusing a magazine.

7:15 a.m.: I’m out the door. It’s 6 blocks to the train station, and if I do it right I’m on the 7:24 A train into Manhattan.

8 a.m.: I usually get to the office a few minutes early, so by 8 I’m settled in with coffee.

1 p.m.ish, depending on my co-workers’ plans: I take a lunch break. I’ve mentioned before how important it is to me to have this break in my day, so I spend an hour in a park with a book if it’s nice, and in a cafe with a book if it’s not.

5 p.m.: I leave the office. From here I might meet up with friends, or head to Trader Joe’s (I go 2-3 times a week, since I need to be able to carry all of my purchases on the train), or head straight home.

Whenever I get home-10 p.m.ish: I make and eat dinner, chat with my roommate, watch TV/Netflix, read a book, draft blog posts – whatever I fancy. I try to have electronics off by 10, at which point I take a shower, do some devotionals (I’m loving She Reads Truth right now), and read until I fall asleep around 11 p.m.

Truthfully, only 2-3 days a week really look like this at all. Variation is the spice of life, right? Or something like that. For example, today I’m in Dallas and all next week I’m working overnight. But this is a little glimpse of the not-so-glamourous life of a Brooklyn girl!
Brave Love Blog

Please tell me I’m not the only one without consistency!

#BlogtemberChallenge Day 19: Wisdom

If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?

Don’t second-guess yourself.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, and you have a chance to do it, do it! Jump in head first and don’t look back.

That's the face of a terrified girl her first weekend in NYC.

That’s the face of a terrified girl her first weekend in NYC.

When I stopped second-guessing myself, good things started happening. When I moved across the country, I was in full-on crisis mode for weeks. But when that plane landed in New York City (well, New Jersey)? I knew I was doing the right thing.

I put off starting this blog for months before taking the leap to join Blogtember. I’ve made so many connections and learned so much in the last 3 weeks that now I can’t picture my life without it. All because I stopped second-guessing.

You should try it too. Whatever it is.

I mean, don’t be stupid. Use common sense. Maybe do a little planning (but not too much). But if your plan, your dream, isn’t something that will literally kill you, you should probably do it.

Do what makes your soul shine

And if it makes your spirit sing, you should definitely do it.
Brave Love Blog

What’s your advice for me?

P.S. I’m flying to Dallas today to spend some quality time with my parents. Please forgive me if I’m delayed in responding to comments! I’ll be back Monday.

#BlogtemberChallenge Day 18: Travel

Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you’ve been to or a favorite vacation.

My very first international stop was Dublin in 2010.

My very first international stop was Dublin in 2010.

I don’t even know where to start with this prompt. I love to travel. It practically defines me. My first memories are from a trip to Virginia with my mom when I was 2. I grew up on family road trips across the United States visiting old homes, family and friends. I spent college skipping off to Los Angeles whenever I could, and took what I consider my first “real” (read: self-funded) trip to Cleveland in 2011 to visit family. I get antsy if I go too long without getting on a plane or in a car for hours on end. And there’s no way I could pick just one experience to talk about.

I wasn't impressed with Rome, but I adored Florence.

I wasn’t impressed with Rome, but I adored Florence.

My first international trip was to Europe in 2010. I went to Dublin, Rome and London on a study-abroad trip. I drank too much (I wasn’t legal in the U.S. yet!) and put very little effort into the schoolwork aspect of the trip. I had a mental breakdown in Ireland and spent almost half a day in tears. I experienced culture shock in Rome. My laptop was stolen out of my flat in London. It was still one of the best experiences of my life.

I lived in Phoenix for six years and visited Disneyland five times - the only year I missed, I went to Disney World.

I lived in Phoenix for six years and visited Disneyland five times – the only year I missed, I went to Disney World.

This spring, I went on an epic road trip through Western Europe: Amsterdam, Paris, Lucerne, Nice, Barcelona. I drank too much (no excuse this time, but at least there wasn’t schoolwork), made dozens of friends and contracted bronchitis. Still amazing. Over Labor Day, seven of us who met on that trip gathered in Toronto to have a mini-reunion.

With my travel-loving buddies in Toronto

With my travel-loving buddies in Toronto

I think that’s my favorite thing about travel, if I had to pick just one – when I travel, I meet other people who love to travel, and then we travel together. That’s true with anything in life, I think – when you do what you love, you meet others who love the same. I marvel at this little life I’ve created, a life that I love but also love to escape from. I love to mix my travels up – travel for fun, travel for people, travel alone, travel with others. Toronto was a new city in a new country with relatively new friends. This weekend I’m off to a city I know like the back of my hand, Dallas, to visit my favorite travel-loving people – those who raised me.

A lifelong dream came true when I saw the Eiffel Tower.

A lifelong dream came true when I saw the Eiffel Tower.

The list of places I hope to visit in the future is truly infinite. I want to see and do everything. It may not be possible, but I’m going to do my best – I think I’ve got a pretty good start!

What is your favorite place in the world? Where do I absolutely NEED to go next?!
Brave Love Blog

Follow my travels on Instagram here.