Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a pineapple under the sea? Now, you might be able to get a little taste of what it's like. 

Karisma Hotels presents the Pineapple Villa in Punta Cana: 

Beyond these gorgeous Spongebob-inspired rooms, "private butlers take care of your family's every need." You read that right: private butlers, people. 

You can learn more and book your stay here. The villa can accommodate 4 adults and 2 children or 2 adults and 4 children (sounds perfect, right Dad? Mom? Wealthy family in search of a new 21-year-old daughter?) with 2 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. 

If you need me, I'll be out by the infinity pool. 

P.S. Dad, if you're reading this, is it ever too late to help your 21-year-old daughter live out her childhood dreams? I don't think so...

Monday, September 26, 2016


In high school my friend Grace introduced me to the show One Tree Hill. It seemed okay at first, but once I sat down and really got into it, I was hooked. It has been one of my favorite shows ever since. The Scott brothers are my favorite, and many of my friends share the same sentiments. My roommate, Alex, started the series earlier in the summer, and a bunch of us have been re-watching the series with her when ever she has it on.

Lucas Scott and Nathan Scott are played by Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty...aka our long-time crushes. The premise is that they are half-brothers who are enemies when the series begins, but....well, I won't spoil for you. It's on Netflix, and I highly recommend it.
Chad Michael Murray (left), James Lafferty (right)
I mean, look at these two.

So, flashback to parents weekend of my freshman year when I see this:

A photo posted by James Lafferty (@thisisjameslafferty) on

That's right, folks. James Lafferty went to a badgers game. A BADGERS GAME THAT I WAS ALSO ATTENDING.

A photo posted by James Lafferty (@thisisjameslafferty) on

Here's James casually sitting outside of State Street Brats, a few measly blocks from my freshman dorm.  Photos of girls snapping pictures with him began surfacing, and my friends and I burned with envy. James Lafferty was at our school, and we had no idea how to find him.

Now, flash forward to my senior year, when James posts this video:

My friends and I were now determined to find him. All we wanted was one photo with our favorite Scott brother.

A photo posted by James Lafferty (@thisisjameslafferty) on

After seeing this, my roommate Kenzie and I got ready and decided to scope out the terrace--you know, just in case he might still be there. When we got there we did a quick lap, and we were immediately disappointed, but we still had hope. We waited for our friends, Amanda and Kat, and when they arrived we set out on the adventure of finding James Lafferty.

Amanda admitted she had been trying to find him for years, and now that we are old enough to get into bars, it finally seemed possible. We left the terrace and decided that even if we didn't find him, it would still be a fun scavenger hunt.

We thought this would be what we were doing all night. And then, it happened. He was at the SECOND bar we checked. We only had to check two bars, and there he was sitting watching a video off of some other guy's phone in State Street Brats. Who knew James would be so into Brats.

Since he wasn't surrounded by a giant posse or a line of girls, Amanda was skeptical at first and had to get a second look. But once we determined it was really him, we knew that we had to be those annoying fans or we would regret it forever. So sure enough, we went over to be those annoying fans, and we got the photo that all of us dreamed about--even though all of us wish it it was a more flattering picture of all of us.

And that's the story of the time we met James Lafferty. We stayed for a little bit and laughed a little at all the girls hanging around him once they realized he was here, too. And after we continued our night, knowing we had just peaked. How does it get much better than this, we thought. It was a night than none of us will forget (especially now that we have actual proof it happened).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Ted Mosby once said, "But that's the funny thing about destiny: it happens whether you plan it or not. It turns out I was just too close to the puzzle to see the picture that was forming."

I've spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not I believe in destiny. Do we have a set path that we will end up following no matter what we choose? If so, does it really matter what we choose? Because if that was true, wouldn't everything just happen like it was supposed to anyway?

But if we are in charge of our own destiny, then we are also to blame when things don't turn out how we want them to.

I have spent my entire life wondering what my life will eventually be. I spend so much time trying to figure out what comes next that sometimes I forget that life is happening right now. Sometimes I actually have to take time to remind myself to live in the moment.

So, it got me thinking: what if I only had one more day? How would I spend it? Who would I spend it with?

If today was my last day, I would spend it with my best friends and my family. I would play hide-and-go-seek with my little sister as many times as she wanted. I would let everyone in my life know how much they really mean to me and how much they affect who I am every day.

If today was my last day, I wouldn't spend so much time on my phone, because nothing on Facebook is really ever that interesting. And yet, I find myself glued to my phone more than I care to admit.

If today was my last day, I would get better at texting people back and call my grandma. I'm sorry, Grandma. I really do mean to call more.

If today was my last day, I would eat the ice cream, because sometimes happiness is about more than your waistline.

If today was my last day, I would stop taking everything so seriously. Life is a funny thing, and I think we all need to relax a little and just enjoy it.

If today was my last day, I would spend time in my favorite place: the ocean. If I could live anywhere in the world it would be right off the beach.

If today was my last day, maybe I could stop being so afraid of the future.

I don't know if I believe in destiny. I like to believe life is more "choose your own adventure" than it is a set path. But maybe it is time we stop thinking in terms of what our lives will become in the future. I love Ted Mosby. How I Met Your Mother is and always will be one of my favorite shows. But while Ted spent his entire life waiting for his life to start, he sometimes lost sight of what was right in front of him.

The worries of the future can consume you. They can eat you apart. But don't let them. Happiness seems to be this elusive goal that we all search for, but it doesn't have to be something we strive to attain in the future. You don't have to wait. Whatever your "destiny" is (if you believe you have one), it is important to try to find happiness in the present, because you can never be certain of what the future holds.

And that's okay.

What would you do if today was your last day?

Friday, June 24, 2016


A few months ago, while visiting Nashville, we stumbled across one of the world's most glorious inventions: the cupcake ATM.
At one point in time, someone must have decided that cutting cake was too much. I am not sure how this came about. I like to imagine that they were frustrated with not being able to cut equal slices for everyone. The kids complained, and they thought, what if everyone just had their own individual-sized cakes? Then, no one would have to fight over the larger slice of cake. 

Whatever the thought process, this delight of a dessert got even better when someone decided to put them in a vending machine. The only thing better than getting fresh cash out of an ATM is getting cupcakes out of one.

We all peeked inside the store, which was just as cute inside as it was from the outside.
But ultimately, we decided why buy a cupcake inside a store when you could get one from a fancy ATM machine?

Of course, we had to document our excitement as we received our little bites of heaven. And they were so good! If you ever make it down to Nashville, I highly recommend stopping by Sprinkles for a cupcake.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


It's gloomy in Madison today. The sun is hiding. It's much cooler than the last few 90 degree days we have experienced. But I find it fitting for the news I woke up to this morning. In March of my freshman year I found out that my Grandma Barb was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Ever since then, I was positive that she would recover. She had to. She was the strongest, kindest person I knew. She taught me to believe in God, so I had faith that she would make a full recovery. Some time my sophomore year she entered remission, and I was confident that she had beat it. A few short months later, the cancer came back with a vengeance. And it was here to stay. 

This morning I woke up to a notification from her Caring Bridge page saying that she had transitioned to her final stages of life. I knew last week when I came home that it was probably the last time I would see her, and it was one of the hardest days of my life. But she wouldn't want me to focus on the negativity. 

Right before we left I started crying, and she told me to find the humor in everything. She never stopped cracking jokes. So, instead of focusing on her illness, I'm writing this, because I want to share the impact that she had on my life. 

She played a big part in who I am today. Whatever I wanted to do, she made me feel like it was possible. When I told her freshman year that I was still considering pre-med, she urged me to follow my passions, because she knew that I wanted to be a writer more than anything else. She wanted me to be happy. 

She took care of us when my mom was working. I loved coming home from school and getting to talk with my grandma. It was the highlight of my day. She was always telling me about books she was reading and giving me books. I was always so impressed by how many books she could go through so quickly. And I wanted to be just like her. 

Grandma Barb and her father
She wanted us to be happy. She walked down the aisle to Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" when she married her current husband when I was a kid. I keep listening to it on repeat, because I can feel her energy just listening to it. Even in her dying days she was more concerned about everyone else than herself. She wanted everyone else to be happy. She apologized to my mom for the inconvenience she caused by falling and breaking her hip one day when they came over. Who does that?! She broke her hip! And she was more concerned with the distress it caused my mom and siblings. 

She impacted everyone she met. From her random acts of kindness to constantly making people smile, she touched everyone around her. She was someone you could never forget. My grandma is filled with a type of energy that is contagious. I liked to say she was spunky. Her style was amazing: She always had the most colorful clothing and beautiful earrings. How could you not be happy around her? She taught me to be kind to everyone that I met and to try to make someone else's day, because you never know what they are going through. 

She called me "Honey Girl." This is one of the things that I will miss the most. I will miss her hugs. I will miss her pep talks. And I will miss her calling me "Honey Girl." I don't know what it is about it, but it always made me feel comforted. Whenever I was upset, I was embraced with a "Honey Girl, it's going to be okay." And I really believed her. 

There is so much more that I am thinking and feeling, but I couldn't possibly express it all in one post. What I hope that you can take away from this is to always remember how much the people around you are impacting your life. Don't be regretful for lost time, but be thankful for the time you had with them. I am so grateful that I got to be her granddaughter, and while all I want is more time with her, I know that she will always be with me. 

Whether it's a smile to someone at Target or calling a loved one you haven't spoken to in a while, please pass along some joy today for Barbara Jean.

Though you will probably not get to see this, I am going to miss you more than you will ever know. I love you so much, Grandma. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Summer has begun. This is my last summer as a college student! While I'll still be busy working two jobs, this is my last summer break. So, I have plenty of ideas about what I want to do to make this the best summer yet.

1. The Summer of Healthy. 
My biggest goal for this summer to is to be healthy. In college, it can be difficult to stay healthy. You're busy, you're going out with friends, and your number one priority is often doing well in school. That means that sometimes you put your health on the back burner. I don't want that this summer. I want to focus on putting healthy foods in my body. I want to exercise more. And I want more sleep!

2. Learn new skills. 
I've had a book about learning Java Script on my bookshelf for two years. TWO YEARS. This summer I am going to learn Java Script already.

3. See more good live music outdoors. 
For the past few years I have gone to Basilica Block Party with my best friends back home. It is two nights of live music on three stages in Minneapolis hosted by Cities97, and it is one of my favorite events each summer. This year the lineup for the night I want to go includes, Death Cab for Cutie, American Authors, X Ambassadors, Matt Hires and more. I need to get to this concert.

4. Spend as much time as possible on the Terrace. 
The Memorial Union Terrace at UW-Madison is my favorite part of campus. Although, there is still a little construction going on there, everyone is thrilled that it is back open for the summer. And it is looking better than ever. I can't wait to have some more great summer nights hanging out in our terrace chairs.

5. Get outside. 
Living in between three lakes makes getting outside easy. Being near those lakes never gets old. There are so many beautiful spots in Madison and I want to spend more time exploring new places around here.

A photo posted by Taylor Shiff (@tay_shiff) on

6. Make time for friends. 
This is the last summer that all of the amazing friends I have made these last four years will be together. Some of my friends are studying abroad in the fall and some of us are graduating in December. It's hard to believe that this is the last time we will all truly be together before people start moving away and getting full time jobs.

Last summer in Madison was great, but I know that this one will be even better. I have a feeling it's about to be a summer I'll never forget.

What are your summer goals?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


When we are little, we are often confronted with the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" We are encouraged to be creative. We are encouraged to be imaginative. We are encouraged to be daydreamers

But at some point, that all changes. Society wants you to be creative but in a scientific and analytical way. 

So, you've probably heard the saying "Don't quit your day job," right? It suggests that you should give up on what your dreams, because you'll never make it anyway.

In Tori Kelly's song "Daydream" she says, "Don't quit your daydream." It is such a beautiful lyric, and I wish that more people felt this way.

Imagine. When you have dreams, you have to continually think of new ways to achieve your goals. No matter what your dreams are, it's likely that you spend time thinking about what it will be like when you achieve them. Dedicate time to actively imagining where you want to be and what you can do to get there.

[Related: How to Actively Pursue Your Passions]

Believe. You have to be your own biggest fan. Believe in yourself first, because people can tell whether or not you believe in yourself and that can make all the difference.

Determination. Sometimes your dreams will seem to big--even impossible. Don't let fear get in the way of the rest of your life. You shouldn't abandon your dreams because anyone tells you they are "unrealistic." But don't do something to prove anyone else wrong; do it to prove yourself right.

Love. At the end of the day, it comes down to finding something that you are passionate about. I have been told not to follow my passions. I have been told to do what will get me a job and what will make the most money. I have been told that I will never be financially secure in my industry. And to that I say, that scares me. It is terrifying every day questioning whether or not I will succeed. But then I go back to imaging what it would be like if it worked out. I go back to believing in myself and my abilities. I go back to being determined to making it happen, because I know it is what I want more than anything in this world. What I really want is to really mean it when I say, "I love what I do."

In school, we're told to pay attention. Stop daydreaming. Maybe there is a time and a place. But don't ever let anyone to tell you to give up on your daydream. You have the power to imagine what you want to do with your life, and you have the ability to make it happen.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


My mom taught me manners. Sorry, Dad. The credit goes to Mom on this one. She raised me to write thank you notes for everything. She made sure I never forgot to say please and thank you. She is the reason growing up my friends' parents used to tell me that I was the politest one of their kid's friends. So, when I encounter people who don't have the same level of respect and politeness engrained in them, it throws me off.

My aunt always tells the story of when she took me to see The Wizard of Oz, and that day someone had been mean to me at pre-school. Apparently, she told told me that whoever was mean to me probably did it because they had low self-esteem. After seeing the play, I told her The Wicked Witch probably had low self-esteem, too. So what if someone is "mean" to you as an adult?

We all encounter people that test our patience. The demeaning coworker. The not-so-friendly friend. The customer that is rude for no reason. Growing up, my brother and I often did not see eye-to-eye. My parent's main advice was always: kill him with kindness. The theory is that it's pretty difficult to me rude to someone who is always nice to you. In practice, it isn't always easy. So, you need to be equipped for responding positively.

1. Breathe before you respond. 
Take a moment before you say anything. Your first instinct is to go on the defense, but that might make the matter worse. Inhale. Exhale. Use this time to think about what you want to say, so that you don't say something you could regret.

2. Lead by example. 
We all know the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. This is involves more than being nice. It means be inclusive, it means demonstrating your expectations and it means holding to your standards. Remember when in elementary school you felt bad after not getting invited to someone's birthday party? That never goes away. Sometimes you are going to feel left out. But that doesn't mean you should you do the same to the people who make you feel that way. When you're the bigger person, you do what others don't and you do it sincerely.

3. Do not act out of spite. 
Revenge is not the answer. Let's say you're frustrated because your roommate always leaves dishes in the sink. Leaving your own dishes in the sink won't "teach them a lesson." It will just make more dishes in the sink. And you will inevitably feel worse.

4. Learn to let it go. 
Acceptance is key. Life isn't always going to go your way. And if you spend all of your time being angry about that, you're only hurting yourself. You can't expect anybody to change just because you want them to. So, learning to let go what you cannot change about them will ultimately make you happier.

5. Laugh more. 
Don't take life so seriously. It's way too short, and you have to enjoy it. Unfortunately, we aren't going to like everyone we meet and not everyone we meet is going to like us. But that's okay! Next time someone makes you really mad, make a conscious effort to laugh about it. First of all, if they are trying to get under your skin, it will show them that it didn't work. Secondly, positive energy is contagious (and so is negative energy!). When you hold in your anger, you usually end up letting it out on the people you care about--who don't deserve it. Spread positivity instead.

People are going to try to get you down sometimes in life. Don't let them! You deserve happiness, and don't let anyone make you think otherwise.

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