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“Just be happy.”  My brain screams this at me on regular basis.  Last week, I felt like it was on repeat as I struggled to manage my stress.  I feel like I harped on this idea a lot this month… but as I said at the beginning of the year, my focus is to practice deliberate intention for 2017.  This month, I talked about how I wanted to find joy.  Focus on the little moments that make everything worth it.  To find some solace and optimism among the chaos.

To just be happy.

My work is very stressful.  At least once a day something hits my radar that could become a huge thing if I don’t deal with it.  Usually it’s more than once.  Often I feel like I’m herding kittens and I’m tired when I get home.  Side note: Cara wrote a great post on 6 Ways to De-Stress from your Work Day earlier this week.  But, at the end of the day – there are a lot of things to just be happy about.  Don’t believe me?  Try this exercise in gratitude each day.

journey of doing - just be happyP I N I T

  • Do you have friends that love you so much that they send you notes, agree to travel across the country to celebrate life events with you, or reach out to remind you that they appreciate you?  Just be happy that you do.
  • Are your parents/grandparents still here?  Still supporting you (emotionally, financially, spiritually) despite the differences you’ve had in the past?  Providing childcare?  Doing things to make your life a little bit easier?  Just be happy that they are still here.
  • Do you have coworkers that make you laugh?  Inspire you?  Get frustrated with you and then remind you to get back to work?  Maybe you’ve found a mentor at work?  Or outside of work?  Maybe you’ve found your own #girlboss #goals?  Just be happy that don’t have to figure everything out alone.


  • Are you in a mutually beneficial and supportive relationship?  Maybe you’ve found your soulmate.  Maybe you’ve found someone you like wasting time with.  Maybe you’ve found someone to encourage you to follow your dreams.  Just be happy that you have someone to share life with.
  • Do you have a roof over your head, food in your belly, clean water to drink, and aren’t worried what’s going to happen tomorrow with either of those things?  Be happy for that blessing.
  • Can you travel freely within the borders of the United States without being stopped for fear of persecution?  Can you travel freely beyond the borders of the U.S. without thinking twice about your paperwork?  Did you just receive these benefits by the privilege of being born within the confines of this nation?   Recognize this as a privilege that you didn’t earn, but rather one that you were freely given.
  • Do you wake up each day without feeling a sense of fear or insecurity at whether or not you will persecuted for your beliefs, ideals, your skin color, your religion, or some other key part of your being?  Just be happy and acknowledge the great privilege that exists in that existence.

Maybe you see this as a gross oversimplification of your existence, but there are so many things for us to be happy and grateful for.  There are so many things that we fail to appreciate – and I suppose – now that I look at how things are going – that we absolutely take for granted.  Life isn’t perfect, but for many of us, we need to just be happy.  To give the good things some brain space.


Then get up and go fight for the ones who don’t have the great luxury and privilege that we have.

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  • Biana - So many questions that you can ask yourself that puts thing in perspective when you think about how you can “just be happy” – no one said life is easy, but in many ways we have to remember how lucky we are.ReplyCancel

  • cara - Love this! I completely agree there’s always things to be thankful for and happy about. Thanks for including my de-stressing post! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Love this! Sometimes you have to be intentionally happy.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Love! I’ve been working so hard at finding the joy and blessings in the everyday type of things, too. I have been given so much more than I deserve and sometimes I just need to stop being a brat! Easier said than done 😉ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Lovely post! You are right that there are so many things in life to be grateful for and happy about! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kasie Chelanne - It really is so important to stop and focus on the good in our lives. Often times life gets so busy those beautiful things get overlooked more than they should.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I love this post <3ReplyCancel

  • chelsea jacobs - This is so true! There is always something to be thankful for!ReplyCancel

journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T
journey of doing - Budapest Night PhotosP I N I T

for more budapest night photos (and tips + tricks):

best tours in budapest, budapest travel photos

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I spent the entire week wondering what day it was… This one felt like a doozy. That being said, here’s a few things that I’m absolutely loving this week.

  • Steph’s post:  It’s not about being political, it’s about being human.  I feel like a broken record reminding people that we are talking about humans when I get hyped about social issues.  Steph’s post was a sobering reminder of the realities for our marginalized friends and neighbors.  Just think about the last time you had to defend or apologize for one of your core beliefs in a meaningful way.  If you haven’t had to do that, recognize your privilege.

  • This Linkin Park song.  Don’t judge me.  It gave me life yesterday when I felt like the world was falling apart.  I feel like that way a lot lately because… why is everything so heavy?
  • I took a big step with my NPO and brought in consultants to help us take the next steps to link up college and career.  They spent the week with us doing site visits, talking to students, teachers, principals, and staff members.  As crazy as everything has been lately, I feel wildly optimistic (in some ways) about the future.  Maybe it’s unfounded, but I want to believe in something right now.

journey of doing - side trip to PisaP I N I T

  • I booked the first connecting leg of our Italian adventure.  We’re officially flying into Pisa!  Cinque Terre, Tuscany… the possibilities are endless from here!
  • I am headed to Bloomington, Indiana for a QUICK trip to IU on Sunday!  Anyone been there or have any suggestions of things I shouldn’t miss?  I don’t know how much time I will have, but I love collect information.  Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend… and that you give yourself time off…. something I am desperately needing to do.

linking up with amanda, karli, and christina

journey of doing - Friday Favorites: Bloggers that Keep It RealP I N I T




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  • Olya @ The Siberian American - I’m so sorry for the rough week, friend! Hope this weekend makes up for it! Yay for flying into Pisa! Like you said, the possibilities are endless from there!ReplyCancel

  • Ballet Buddy - If you’re staying in the downtown Bloomington area, walk to the ethnic restaurants on E. 4th St. They’re all in former houses (some of which still have residents on the top floor) and there’s so many of them. Tibetan, Thai, Korean, Indian. Whatever you want, you’ll find.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I think the NPO stuff definitely sounds like something to be optimistic about! So exciting.ReplyCancel

Yesterday, I got asked if I wanted to be on a proposal for a national conference alongside someone I highly respect.  I, of course, said yes… and then I started thinking about how far I’ve come in the past few years.  For some reason, I don’t think I had taken the opportunity to give my last conference acceptance enough appropriate brain space.  You see, two weeks ago, I had not one but two proposals accepted into the AP National Conference in Washington, DC this summer.

And yesterday, for the first time, I realized that if my dad was here, I probably could have convinced him to go to the conference.  My dad was a much celebrated second career AP history teacher.  He spent his summers grading AP exams.  He loved to talk history.  He loved to teach.  He didn’t love (most) teachers though.

But, I like to think he would have gone to the AP conference to see me present.

And it made me really miss him.

It made me miss him in the same way that I missed him when my op-ed was published in the Washington Post.

Like there would forever be this unfinished feeling.


Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about.  I don’t rightly know either, but I do know that I miss my dad something fierce these days.

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  • Katie Elizabeth - Wish I could give you a BIG hug right now. He’s always with you and he’ll be there. He’s so proud!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Aww! *hugs* I’m so sorry you are missing your dad right now. I’m certain he would have been so proud of all you’ve accomplished and wouldn’t think twice about attending the conference to hear you speak. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Posts about your dad(s) always make me tear up. He’s with you.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I am 100% sure that your dad is still just as proud of you as he ever was! You are doing so many amazing things.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - I’m sure he is soooo proud of you!! I’m proud of you and all of your accomplishments. I try to appreciate my Father daily because I know one day he won’t be here and I worry about that everyday.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Congrats on your hard work paying off – I’m sure your Dad would be very proud. He sounds like he was a great guy.ReplyCancel

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Confession:  When we first flew into Hungary, I wondered what I had gotten us into.  By the end of that first night in Budapest, however, I had discovered the best tours in Budapest and I was obsessed.  By the end of our second day (and tour), I was hooked on this fantastic city.  When we went back in December, I immediately booked more tours and was delighted when our tour guides remembered us from our April trip!

This post contains affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you book one of these tours.

Best Tours in Budapest – Introductory Tours

Night Walking Tour and Danube Cruise

This was our first tour of Budapest, and it was a great introduction to the Pest side city.  (Buda is better but Pest is best!)  George  was our guide and he was fantastic!  George has a deep knowledge of his city and the events that have shaped the present-day Budapest.  He understands much of the history and how it has influenced politics, and he is eager to share his passion.  His energy was contagious, he encouraged questions (both of him and those he asked of the group), and he gave us a great overview of the city.  The tour started around twilight, and we watched the city come alive as we explored the main historical sites, which were extraordinarily beautiful as evening descended onto Budapest.  This tour helped us determine the places we wanted to revisit later on our trip.

We were definitely sad to leave George when we boarded the Danube cruise, but he encouraged us to stop by the shop if we had any questions about what to see. The Danube cruise was beautiful and the video wasn’t nearly as entertaining as George. I even found it distracting with the beautiful sites right outside the window.  This tour is a great overview of the city to begin any trip to Budapest and the cruise is a great way to rest your feet after a long day of walking.

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Night Cruise of the Danube

When we returned to Budapest with my mom in December, I booked the Danube river cruise independent of the walking tour.  This particular cruise leaves from a dock that is quite a bit further down from the main part of the city.  It covers the same route, offers outdoor seating, and is generally a good value, though it is approximately a 20 minute walk from public transportation.  This boat moved quite a bit faster than the first one we took, so I found it a little difficult to take great shots from the boat, but it’s still a beautiful way to experience the skyline!  I would suggest the walking tour and cruise if you have time to better get a sense of the history of Budapest, but this is a great tour if you don’t have much time.

Best Tours in Budapest – Historical Perspective

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T
World War I, II, and Communist Tour

When we walked into the tour office on our second day, George was happy to introduce us to his colleague Tomas.  We were the only people on the tour and Tomas really took a lot of time to answer our questions frankly and candidly.  He was more than willing to tailor the tour to our specific interests.  The tour starts with a surprise and a step back to communist Budapest using primary sources and artifacts!  We learned about the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the beginning to the end, Hungary’s role in World War II, and the rise (and fall) of communism in Hungary.  Tomas’s passion for Budapest and history was palpable, and there was not a single question that stumped him.

When we finally emerged from communist Budapest, Tomas took us on a walking tour of the city (with different sites from the ones we experienced with George), and he shared more about current events and modern-day Budapest.  Our only regret when we finished the tour was that we didn’t have more time in Budapest.  I think a visit to the Terror Museum would further underline the concepts covered by Tomas and this tour.

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Best Tours in Budapest – Christmas Markets

Christmas Market Tour

Obviously, this was not one of the tours we took in April, but rather one that we booked when we returned in December.  I booked it specifically hoping that Tomas or George would be our guide.  Lucky for us, Tomas was waiting for our group and we greeted each other like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in six months.  Since we were in a much larger group, we weren’t able to monopolize his time the same way, but he was great.  We explored St. Stephen’s Basilica, tried wild boar sausage, warmed up at the delicious Strudel House (try the sour cherry!), enjoyed wine tasting and good conversation, and the headed out to several more markets before finishing up with mulled wine.  Tomas did a great job balancing history and culture with the holiday festiveness of the Christmas markets.  There was plenty of conversation, lots of laughs, and my mom enjoyed learning from Tomas as much as we did!

This is another great introduction to the city of Budapest if you’re looking for a great way to cover quite a bit of ground with a little bit of history mixed in.  I still think the night walking tour and cruise is the best way to familiarize yourself with Budapest, but if you’re looking for holiday cheer, this tour gets it done, too.

journey of doing - Best Tours in Budapest; best things to do in Budapest; what to do in Budapest; planning a trip to Budapest? Book these city tours!P I N I T

Best Tours in Budapest – Final Thoughts

If I were to return to Budapest for a third trip, I’d book a market tour (which did but it didn’t work out), head out to Monument Park with a guide, explore Castle Hill and the Buda side of the city, but these are some of the best tours in Budapest for an overall view of the city.  You really can’t go wrong.  Overall, I can’t tell you enough – don’t skip Budapest.  It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to and I really loved the people we met!  It’s worth every adventure.

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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  • Van - A Christmas Market Tour? I’d totally be up for that! And exploring cities by boat is always my favourite thing to do so I’d totally go on that tour too!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I want to go to there!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - Yay always so glad to read more about my adopted city! It IS beautiful 🙂 I haven’t even heard of some of these tours–I’ll be bookmarking these for when my family visits!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - My brother was just in Budapest, and it looked amazing! I will definitely keep these tours in mind when we decide to go!ReplyCancel

  • Upeksha - Such a great list – thank you for sharing it. Budapest is on my bucket list, so I’ll be pinning this for later. #wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Hopefully going here in the summer and very much like the sound of the Danube cruise!! Saving this 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - These look like some great tours! I was there during the Christmas markets and we did a walking tour, but unfortunately I didn’t do a Christmas Market Tour. I think I would have really enjoyed that! Also the night tour and cruise sound lovely! What great ways to get to know the city 😀ReplyCancel

  • Budapest Night Photos – 2016 » journey of doing - […] Best Tours in Budapest – book these! […]ReplyCancel

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid - Oh all of these look spectacular! We honeymooned in Budapest but we only got as far as the river cruise! I think we need to go back and explore further – there’s just so much to see and Budapest is such a spectacular city.ReplyCancel