standard July 20, 2016 3 responses

Adventurer - 1Lately, I’ve been quite the adventurer! I love being on summer break because I get to explore the outdoors more and really appreciate nature. Last week I went to Starved Rock State Park with my sister and brother-in-law and we had so much fun on a hike. We couldn’t believe how beautiful the park was and how we felt like we were in a completely different place other than Illinois! I highly recommend going there if you need a little escape from the city.

Earlier this summer, I went on an amazing volunteering trip to the Dominican Republic. I did have some time though to explore the natural beauty of the country as well. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Dominican Republic, I HIGHLY recommend going to the Damajaqua Cascades (27 Waterfalls)! It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I went with my friend Sapna and some other friends we met on the cruise and had the most fun day ever. Waterfalls are my favorite natural element and I couldn’t help myself from smiling and laughing the whole time because I really was having the time of my life (I may have swallowed some water due to this, but it didn’t matter)!!! Also, definitely stop by Las Cuevas De Cabarate for some cave jumping and swimming.

What both of these adventures had in common was my Jambu Oklahoma shoes! They are seriously the most comfortable exploring shoes ever and without them, I don’t believe my adventures could have been as fun as they were. They were able to keep my feet safe and cute while trekking through waterfalls and trails. Get yourself outside adventuring too and order a pair of the exclusive for Nordstrom Oklahoma’s now during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! You’ll thank me later 😉

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Jambu c/o: Shoes // Old Navy: Shirt (option) // Nike: Leggings // Ray-Ban: Sunglasses

Photography: Eleni of Limani Designs

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27 Waterfalls

Jambu c/o: Shoes // Old Navy: Shorts

*Thank you Jambu for collaborating with me. All opinions are my own.

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standard June 28, 2016 Leave a response

UnFATHOMable - 28UnFATHOMable. That’s the perfect word to describe my trip with Sapna to the Dominican Republic with Fathom. I still don’t know where to begin, but I will try my best to describe this amazing experience. On our way to the DR, there were plenty of workshops on the Adonia (ship) to prepare us for the impact activities we would be participating in during the week. I took a Spanish class to refresh some conversational skills, brushed up on some English language skills to teach in a community home and attended a Humans of New York style workshop where I shared a story about myself that I never could talk about with a stranger and it turned out to be one of the greatest things I have ever done. Thank you Lucee for poking for more information.

There were many activities on the ship every day including exercise classes, painting, pool time, wellness classes, music from the house band and locals and many many other activities. We also met with our small group several times throughout the trip and this was a nice way to get to know other passengers and to learn about the impact activities and get an in depth look at how we were making a difference. Our group leader, Francisco, was a great source of information and during one of his presentations, there was a quote that stuck with me. He said, “Our ripple makes a wave a change.” That is Fathom’s goal: travel with purpose and to transform lives. Impact travel is fairly a new concept that brings people together to be immersed in another culture and to create lasting impressions on the people and land.

I chose to participate in three impact activities: teaching community English in a home, helping lay concrete in a home and planting seeds at a nursery to help reforestation. I chose these activities because I felt they would leave a long lasting impression on the DR. There were other activities to participate in, but these were just what I wanted to help with. Since I have never volunteered on this level before, I felt that all the activities were fulfilling and the people involved were all amazing and patient with us.

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The Adonia’s deck was the place to be at and our Fathom guides were all amazing!!!
UnFATHOMable - 2The first views of the Dominican Republic were just so stunning.UnFATHOMable - 6Arriving at Amber Cove.UnFATHOMable - 2Aboard the Adonia about to step off onto the island.UnFATHOMable - 2 (1)

My first impact activity was teaching English in a community home. We got off the shuttle and met members of Puerto Plata at a church. We were greeted with songs and everybody was just so friendly and welcoming. Never did I think we would receive such a warm welcome. We met our family members and were led to their homes. The objective was to teach them the parts of the body in English, but they taught me more than I taught them. As a teacher for the past ten years, this was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences I have ever had. I was so moved by how the ladies were really determined and not afraid to make mistakes. They were the best students! During our time together, there were neighbors popping in to see us, which was quite cute and really moving. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to experience such an impactful cultural immersion experience.

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My wonderful students!UnFATHOMable - 1 (1)On our way to our home.
UnFATHOMable - 4Locals and my favorite photograph from the trip.
UnFATHOMable - 3 (1)Local find 🙂

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My second impact activity was laying concrete in a home. In the DR, having a concrete floor in your home is a luxury. You would never think that people don’t have a floor in their home, but it’s really expensive to have one. This was the most rewarding activity I participated in because we literally helped change a family’s life forever. The family we helped built their home out of palettes and you would have never known what condition they lived in because they were so nice and friendly and so grateful for what they had. Their little boy was playing amongst us as we worked and he was so cute. His parents thanked us so many times because now their little boy can play inside their home and not catch diseases because of the dirt. They were all so happy even though they didn’t have the best living conditions. It really made me appreciate life and to remember that happiness comes first and not stuff. All the community members came together to help this family and I loved that. I could just feel the love and support amongst everybody. Even though it was a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of sweating, it was worth every smile on the family’s faces.

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Sapna & I in the midst of passing cement buckets.UnFATHOMable - 16The crew.UnFATHOMable - 17And more of the crew. We worked along Fathom guides and IDDI members (a group in the DR that works alongside Fathom to better communities).UnFATHOMable - 18A neighbor’s home.UnFATHOMable - 19Some new friends.

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My last impact activity was reforestation. I planted seedlings at a local nursery that would later be planted by other groups. My green thumb isn’t really the best, but I never knew that I would have so much fun planting. My first two activities directly impacted people right away, but I wanted to do something that would have a longer impact and just because I didn’t see immediate results, I know that in the long run, growing seedlings will help a lot in many aspects of the community. Asides, planting and digging up small plants to be planted somewhere more fertile, we took a little hike on a mountain and ate fresh mangos right off a tree; quite possibly the best mango I have ever eaten in my life.   UnFATHOMable - 25 UnFATHOMable - 26 UnFATHOMable - 23 UnFATHOMable - 27UnFATHOMable - 22 UnFATHOMable - 20

Fresh mangos.UnFATHOMable - 21

I’m truly grateful for this opportunity that I had to travel with Fathom. I never guessed in a million years, that starting my blog about what I wear almost four years ago that it would take me to the Dominican Republic, meet so many new people and to make a difference in people’s lives. I will forever cherish all my memories and hope to continue impact travel.

UnFATHOMable - 8If you’re interested in traveling with Fathom click here and use code Insider1560 for a great rate!

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“Our ripple makes a wave a change.”

* Thank you Fathom for an amazing trip of a lifetime. All opinions are my own.