Claire Marie Carter

It’s okay to not know what you want

An object in motion stays in motion.  That’s one of the few things I retained from my high school physics class.  I’m fairly certain I was too busy flirting with the guy next to me to learn the rest of Newton’s laws, but at least I learned something.

Newton’s first law can be stated as:

An object in at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Couch potatoes tend to stay couch potatoes unless an unbalanced force comes around and shakes things up.  We’re creatures of habit and we like to coast, but it’s when we stretch ourselves that we start creating a life we enjoy.

You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going or what you want to do with the rest of your life.  With the exception of my cousin who has wanted to be a pediatric doctor since she was at least 9, very few of us have that kind of clarity.  (She recently graduated medical school and is absolutely incredible!)

For the rest of us lay people, it’s totally okay and normal to feel a little unsure about our general life path.  Just start moving in a certain direction, it doesn’t matter which one!  The important thing is to begin something, anything.  Put one metaphorical foot in front of the other and get going.

At the very least you’ll learn what you don’t want – a valuable lesson in itself.  Alternatively, you may stumble upon something wonderful you never knew existed, but only if you get off your couch and put yourself out there.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about being devoted to inquisitiveness.

“Curiosity is accessible to everyone.  Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times – a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses and to those who are specially touched by God.  But curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity.”

So ask yourself: What am I interested in?  It doesn’t have to be profound or the solution to world hunger, it just has to peak your interest.  

Go on a scavenger hunt and follow what makes you curious.  Take that dance class, plant a garden, start learning another language.  You do you.

What makes you curious?

2 steps to the life you want

We like to complicate everything, overthink situations and generally make matters more difficult for ourselves.  Clarity of vision can go a long way towards streamlining your success.

1. Decide what kind of person you want to be & the type of life you aspire to lead.

It’s easy to see glamorous photos of famous people or read success stories of the uber wealthy and think “If only my life were like that…”  It’s another matter entirely to visualize and decide who you want to be.  Get out a pen and paper and describe your ideal life in excruciatingly minute details.

What do you look like?  Are you happy?  Who do you spend your time with?  Where do you live?  How do you feel?  What does your day-to-day look like?  

Get clear, get focused, figure it out.

2. Live as though you already are that person.

What does an extremely successful business person do?  They’re up by 5am to get a few hours of work in before anyone else is awake.

Want to be fit and healthy with boundless energy?  Make exercise and eating well non-negotiable.

Want to be a writer?  You have to actually write. 

Whatever you chose in the first step as your ideal life, start living it.  Determine how those who already have what you seek behave and adopt their mindset.

Become who you want to be by acting as if you already are.  You won’t be pretending for long.

5 Biggest Culture Shocks When Traveling To Spain

Bienvenidos – Welcome to Spain!  Get ready for major culture shock.  Nothing seems normal, but at least the tapas are free, right?

1. Mealtimes Are Completely Wrong.

Breakfast here isn’t even worthy of the name breakfast.  Half a croissant and coffee with milk leave me with daydreams of scrambled eggs.  I have to keep this particular yearning to myself because in Spain eggs are meant for any meal except breakfast.  The Spanish tortilla – basically a potato and egg omelette – is delicious and by some illogical fallacy is considered appropriate for all times of day excluding the morning.  SMH.


Lunch won’t happen until at least 2:30pm when you’ll enjoy a large meal that will likely include wine or beer.  This will inevitably make you sleepy.  Thank God for siestas!  Though you’ll have trouble keeping your eyes open at the table, everyone will continue to sit around long after the food has been eaten to talk and spend time together.  Try your best to contribute to the converstaion and look engaged.

10pm is a bit on the early side for dinner so you may need to go for tapas before.  (I mean, if I have to…. ) Considering you gorged yourself at lunch after starving from breakfast, the third meal of the day is very light.  Eating this way feels a bit like a forced introduction to intermittent fasting.


2. Siestas Are A Necessity, Not A Luxury.

After your large midday meal, the siesta is completely necessary and culturally expected.  As such, businesses all close in the middle of the day so the owners can go home to eat and rest.  Can you imagine if it was normal to take over TWO HOURS in the middle of a WORK DAY to lunch and nap?!  I don’t even want to know what would happen if I pulled that kind of stunt at my job in NYC.


But you’re now in a parallel universe where this is, in fact, normal.  Good luck finding anything open between the hours of 2 and 5 in the afternoon!  You’ll probably be asleep though.


3.  The Fiesta Never Ends.

There’s always, I repeat always, something going on here.  It could be a Monday and there would still be people out and about until the early morn.  The Spanish take full advantage of any excuse to party – not that they need one!


While casual drinking is acceptable all day, the true nightlife doesn’t really get started until around 2am.  I’ve left clubs and discotecas around 4am and I was one of the first to leave!  Not only was I heading home early, but people were arriving to the venue at that time.  I swear the Spanish body clock operates differently.  As for you, learn to love the siesta.


4. Families do everything together.

The tight knit nature of family life in Spain means that they are always together.  Even when children are very young, they join their parents and their friends out at the barres.  No one blinks an eye at babies seated on their parents lap at the table even when it’s after 10:30pm.  Maybe we’re overprotective of our children in the U.S. of A. but this seems like the opposite extreme.


Children or rather adult offspring often continue to live with their parents through university and beyond.  If they don’t marry right away, it’s not unheard of to have a 30-year-old still living at home.  Love you Mom & Dad, but no.  Just no.

5. Spaniards are sexier than you will ever be.

The people are beautiful and fashionable with killer confidence.  Red lipstick is more normal than not and shopping seems to be the sport of choice.  Don’t even get me started on the paradise that is Zara. Try not to feel like a wallflower next to these super humans.  Get yourself some trendy and tight-fitting clothes (yes men, you too!) and you’re a step in the right direction.


You’ll get stared at anyway, but take it in stride.  God bless you if you’re blonde though – you’ll get a lot of attention simply because you’re a novelty.  If shopping is the sport of choice, people watching is the national pastime.  The upside of the normalcy of blatant staring is that you won’t be creepy when checking out the Spanish people in all their glory.


What surprised you the most when you visited Spain?

Biggest Culture Shocks when you visit Spain for the first time -->

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Granada church festival of flowers

The Granada Diaries: Fin de Semana!

This weekend was the festival of Nuestra Señora de Las Angustias and all of the Catholic believers in Granada brought flowers to the Basilica.  They built a living wall of the offerings outside!  The lines to bring bouquets to the front were extremely long but determined grannies stubbornly held their place in the queue.

Saturday morning was spent writing my essay on the Alhambra and catching up on school work.  Then I took a walk and explored the city a bit before booking a trip to Portugal in the coming weeks!  Travel here is so easy and accessible.

We went out in a group at night to a few places before ending up at a club called Boom Boom Room.  I still can’t believe that’s the real name!  Apparently it was a special night, because around 3:30am a special stage appeared and a drag show with dancers began.  They shot confetti into the crowd and made it rain with fake dollar bills.  We weren’t expecting it at all but it ended up being a blast.  The dry ice mist they sprayed into the crowd made my skin sting a bit.  The struggles of being in the middle of the dance floor…

There was still confetti in my hair when I woke up Sunday morning.  It was a low key day since we had stayed out late the night before.  By the afternoon, my energy was back and I went to a cafe for a few hours with other students to go over homework.  We chatted more than we studies but I didn’t mind – especially once I was served my cappuccino!

Pink Granada flavor ice cream in cup

The Granada Diaries: Ice Cream and Amigos!

Friday was a bit of a rough day for a lot of the people in the program.  It was the end of our second full week here in Granada.  Some of the initial excitement has worn off and stress about school has started to set in!  As the people around me were panicking, I remained calm about the high expectations regarding our school work. (I think it helps that I have a job lined up for after graduation!)

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living  in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu

Once I shifted my mindset, the day was mine to enjoy!  I had granada (pomegranate) flavored gelato with a few girls after class.  We went to the science museum in the afternoon and finished up with tapas and sangria.  Spending some time with people in the program and chatting about things other than school made me feel so much more connected and comfortable.

Ended up going out to dinner with my host mom and roommate.  We had the best time laughing and chatting outside at a barre.  It’s so fun to sit out on the sidewalk on a weekend and watch the Spanish live their lives!  Now I have an essay to write about Washington Irving and the Alhambra.  Time to get on the grind.


Alhambra garden waterfall rocks

The Granada Diaries: 5 Things I’m Grateful For

Feeling a little overwhelmed by how much I have going for me!  So much gratitude for…

  1. My incredible family who I love talking to whether via Facetime, Snapchat, or text.  The dog even made an appearance on the video chat this morning!
  2. My friends in the U.S. who have been beyond supportive of this semester and have reached out to say hello.
  3. My host mom here in Granada.  She knows everything about the city and doesn’t mind catering to a vegetarian – despite the fact that much of Spanish cuisine is centered on ham.
  4. My health and wellbeing that allows me to explore this city and get lost on side streets without realizing how far I’ve walked.
  5. The program I’m a part of here.  True, it is a lot of work but the intense nature is improving my Spanish by leaps and bounds.
  6. The opportunity to reflect and do something different.  Putting myself in an entirely new situation gives a new perspective to say the least!
  7. The coffee here.  Follow my Instagram for lots of espresso pics :)
King Pigeon pose in soldier barrack in the Alhambra

The Granada Diaries: The Alhambra in Photos

The most visited monument in Spain is the palace and fortress The Alhambra.  Original construction began in AD 889 but over the centuries different rulers have left their mark.  The arabic nature and architecture is occasionally interrupted by additions from the catholic kings after they took back the region from the conquerers.

I had the pleasure of visiting this historic and beautiful place! Here are a few snapshots of the gardens and palaces.  I can’t wait to go back!

Garden Archways La Alhambra GranadaFountain in Alhambra Granada Spain Archways in Palace of Carlos V in AlhambraGranada cityscape from AlhambraAlhambra palace view Granada Spain
Reflection Pool and Palace

The Granada Diaries: Rain and Routines

It’s starting to feel normal, like I actually live here. Class in the morning, coffee in a historical plaza, and various afternoon activities. It rained this afternoon for the first time since I’ve been here! I ran 2.5 miles in it and felt wonderful. The temperature is dropping as well. Finally I will be able to walk the city without the sheen of sweat on on my face. Not cute. 

The most delicious peach was my dinner tonight with Greek yogurt and cinnamon. My host mom found the cinnamon request a little strange but it made me feel at home!

The Granada Diaries: I find a yoga studio

Class today was great except for the massive amount of homework we received. Don’t they know we have fun things in the city to do?! I will begrudgingly admit that it is helpful to my language skills. 

Realized not only does my birthday fall on a Monday, but we have a 3 hour exam that day. Let’s hope that equates to good performance on my part. Birthday luck is a thing right?

Found a yoga studio this afternoon with a fellow student who is herself certified. It was a totally strange class but I loved it. There were only four people so we each received quite a bit of attention. I made major progress with my handstand! The class was instructed in a mix of Spanish, English, Sanskrit, and gesturing. There was the occasion not too gentle tap as well….

I left feeling incredible! My body definitely needed some twisting and bending. The 10 minutes of ab work was no joke either! Can’t wait to go back. 

Claire doing king pigeon on paddleboard in Granada Spain

The Granada Diaries: Cheers to the Weekend!

The first weekend in Granada was a success!  I can’t believe it’s only been one week.  We’ve done so much already!  The days here are almost like getting two for one.  You have an entire day in the morning, then you siesta after lunch, and have another day until midnight or one.

Saturday morning we left early for the beach.  The name is Playa Del La Herradura which means Horseshoe Beach.  The cove is shaped in an arclike fashion, hence the name.

I had the best time kayaking and paddle boarding for hours.  I must have applied sunscreen at least four times but I didn’t burn!  I kept losing my paddle while attempting SUP yoga – thank goodness it floated.  Briefly was able to get a headstand, but sadly no pics.  I attempted to round up a crew for beach volleyball.  There was some good bonding and shared laughs, but it wasn’t a real game.

We returned from the beach around 5:30pm and promptly showered and passed out.  The sun was draining and we’d had quite a bit of activity!  After dinner, we went out to a discoteca.  It was so much fun!  There was a mix of American music and Spanish hits but the dancing was a blast.  We had a huge group of people but there were plenty of locals too.

Sunday I slept in until 10am but probably could have slept longer!  We had breakfast, did some homework, then went for a beautiful walk near the Alhambra.  A refreshing drink on the terrace at the Hotel Alhambra Palace was the perfect afternoon treat with spectacular views of the city.

I slept for a bit in the afternoon once we’d had lunch then went to Mass at a nearby church.  I didn’t understand a lot of it or know the responses, but it was nice to be there especially on September 11th.  It was emotional to not be in the U.S. on such a day.

Chatted briefly with the fam and longer with my brother which was wonderful.  We discussed the skinny nature of Spaniards and their need to lift weights and tone up.  Too funny!

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