Fitness

Fall Into Fitness

Fall, Fall, Fall the best season of the year! If you’re anything like me then you live for fall, especially the month of October. This year, instead of eating popcorn, hot chocolate and candy all month, I decided to challenge myself and make it all about fitness so I don’t feel bad indulging every once in a while. But mostly the pumpkin pie 🙂ACS_0139.jpg

What prompted me to do this was my lack of motivation and exercise in the past 2 months. I stopped practicing yoga, stopped going to the gym and because of my busy work schedule, it was just way on the bottom of my list of priorities.

BUT, luckily all this has changed thanks to a few people in my life who have encouraged me to get back on track.

Here’s how Fall fitness can be more convenient than a hassle:

The Whole Life Challenge deffeat.jpg

This challenge, introduced by my workplace, is a 6-week program that has 3 levels: Kickstart, Lifestyle and Performance. Each day for the 6-week period, you are permitted to follow certain rules that include exercising, nutrition, mobilizing, sleeping, hydration, well-being & reflecting. You earn 5 points for each category that you complete fully for each day. The best part about it is being able to log your progress right on your phone through the Whole Life Challenge app and seeing your team-mates (in this case my co-workers) progress for extra motivation. Total accountability for your day-to-day health & fitness log!

I’m in the Lifestyle category which is considered the moderate level. However, I’m not allowed to eat bread, cheese, pasta or beer…all my favorite things. But, I know it’s only 6 weeks and am looking forward to the great things it’ll do for my body, my health and my mind.

Territory Food

At this point in my life, cooking is just not something I make time for. I value other things Image result for territory foodslike working, spending time with my boyfriend, exercising, reading and sleeping. When you only have a few hours to do all that when you get home from work, there isn’t room for much else.

Which is why I’ve invested in Territory Foods. Territory Foods is a healthy, pre-made delivery food service that sends you breakfast, lunch and dinner (depending on the package you choose) and will deliver it twice a week! This is perfect for those on the go who want to eat healthy but don’t necessarily have time to cook a healthy meal.

I’ve ordered the 5 lunches & 5 dinners plan for my boyfriend & I, just to help us out a little on the days we feel most tired. I have a feeling these meals will be life savers.

If you’re interested in ordering these pre-made healthy meals, use this link to get $25 off your first 2 orders! https://www.territoryfoods.com/yum/YMTZ 

Imperfect Produce

9650C7B9-99E6-466E-9754-CA9B8072FB86.JPGIs anyone else obsessed with fruits & vegetables? I feel like I spend most of my money here so once I found out about Imperfect Produce, I was so excited. This delivery service is amazing because they send you all the produce that get’s rejected my grocery stores for 30-50% off. But that doesn’t mean they are’t edible. The first box I received was actually perfect, despite the irony of the company’s name. I got carrots, kale, apples, grapes, pears, cucumber, squash, sweet potatoes lemons and quinoa chips all for $17!!! Yes, this company is amazing and I can’t wait to eat all the fruits and veggies I want, knowing it’s absolutely affordable.

Use this link to get $10 off your own Imperfect Produce Box: http://imprfct.us/krvUL 

Tone It Up’s 31 Day Fall Challenge

While the Whole Life Challenge and my delivery services are great for reminders and keeping me on track with my diet, I really needed a fitness program to get back into working out again.

This challenge has all the classes I need on the Tone it Up fitness app. Here are the rules of the challenge:

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Pretty simple right? What I like most about this challenge is of course the ease of access on my phone, but also that it works within my busy schedule to make it happen on my own time. The classes are right there for me when I need them! No stress about intense workouts that take hours out of the day. Just a little at a time, but effective in the long-run. They lay out the entire month’s schedule for you with classes for alternating exercise routines to allow your body to recover properly and get into shape the right way. Karena & Kat (Owners of TIU) make it super easy for you, so all you have to do is grab your mat, some weights and press play. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Well there you have it. Awesome and convenient ways to stay healthy while enjoying your favorite time of the year! I look forward to seeing how I look and feel next month. I know it’ll all be worth it. Happy October!

XOXO

Travel

How I Booked a Trip to Vegas for FREE

Hey travelers and adventure-seekers!

I finally made it to Vegas as an adult. I stayed at the MGM Grand Hotel when I was 7, attending my own parents wedding. I was the best surprise they ever got! But I was so lucky to have been their flower girl at a cute Vegas-chapel wedding, a milestone most kid’s don’t get to experience with their parents. However, it was about time I experienced this city the right way and not in a flower girl dress.

00F006ED-535D-436B-AF88-E576434EA8AC.JPGMy boyfriend Jamie and I love to travel. We’re constantly navigating around our work schedules to see what weeks are best to go away and constantly keep a list of places we’re interested in seeing. We scan flights, check out hotel and Airbnb reviews, figure out travel time and realistic scenarios of us going places whether it’s a short weekend getaway or a week long.

We knew months ago that we wanted to be able to book a trip for free, just like all these other travel bloggers and influencers – we just weren’t sure how. After some research, we realized it was actually quite easy. It’s all based on the credit card you have and the points system associated with it. 

That’s why, after some extensive research, we both signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Card. Because of this card, we were able to book a fully-paid weekend-getaway to Las Vegas, both flights and hotel included, over LABOR DAY WEEKEND! One of the most commonly-known expensive weekends to travel. We stayed at The Venetian on The Las Vegas Strip, soaking up the sun by the pools (since it was hot af), doing some light gambling and attending an amazing Cirque du Soleil show. It was an incredible weekend to say the least.

And the best part is that you can do this too.

Here’s a breakdown of what you get when you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Card (content from Chase.com):

NEW CARDMEMBER OFFER

50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards

AT A GLANCE

Premium travel & dining rewards Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants.

APR

17.74%–24.74% variable APR.

ANNUAL FEE

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, after that $95.

Earn up to 50K bonus points per year

Get 10,000 bonus points for each friend who gets the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card.

______________________________________

That’s all there is to it. Use this credit card to make your everyday purchases, get rewarded. It’s one of the best cards out there! You’ll be booking a trip of your own for FREE in no time.

Chase only allows you to refer 5 friends a year, so hurry up and sign up with my link below:

Chase Sapphire Card Sign Up

Please comment or reach out to me directly if you need help or have questions! I hope you all make an effort to do what makes you happy. And if you aren’t actively doing that now, today is a great time to start.

Happy Travels xx

Fashion, Fitness

Delivered to Your Doorstep

If you’ve fully implemented yourself in the world we currently live in, then you know how big delivery services have become. The luxury of being able to order WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want, has become the norm for most companies. Your inbox is probably filled with email blasts, coupons, sale reminders and those awfully-tempting marketing email subjects that just say “You need this,” resulting in..”hmm, yeah maybe I do need that.” *insert chin scratch emoji*

BUT NOW, they’ve taken it a step further and have created delivery memberships. These memberships allow you to receive packages weekly, monthly or seasonally, depending on the service. Let me tell you, it has been such a great and positive experience, that I’m currently signed up for 6 memberships! *insert monkey covering it’s mouth emoji*

Here are the 6 memberships you need to get your hands on and why:

*note that all these memberships have the ability to be skipped any week or month*

Blue ApronImage result for blue apron

  • What: Meal Delivery
  • When: Weekly
  • How Much: $60
  • Included: 3 meals for 2 people
  • Discount: I have 5 free boxes to give away ($72 value for each) If you’re interested, send me a message so I can send you your free meals 🙂

This has been one of the most beneficial and healthiest (depending on the meal) services I’ve received. Working 8 hours, commuting, going to the gym and relaxing takes up the whole day and there usually isn’t much energy left to cook a meal. This has prevented the hassle of feeling like I need to buy ingredients, look up recipes and cook every night. Blue Apron provides all the ingredients you need for each meal and with templates for how to prep, cook and enjoy the food. It’s not only convenient and cuts the time in half, it’s actually fresh and real ingredients being used.

I’ve probably cooked over 20 Blue Apron meals and have only had 1 or 2 I didn’t enjoy. The best part is that you have an array of meals to choose from ahead of time, so you always have control over what you’ll be receiving. You can filter what you don’t like, what dietary restrictions you may have and can skip any week you please.

This service has transformed the way I think about food and dinner time in general, while expanding my knowledge of how to cook and enjoy home-cooked meals.

Tip: Set yourself a reminder to either pick out your meals or skip, as this is the most frequent delivery service, making it easier to forget about. A handful of times I’ve forgotten to choose or skip and opened my door to a Blue Apron box. *oh shoot.*

Set a reminder 🙂

Book of The MonthImage result for book of the month

  • What: Book Delivery
  • When: Monthly
  • How Much: $14.99 – $16.99
  • Included: 1 book
  • Discount: Send me a message with your email address if you’d like to sign up & we will both get a free credit for 1 book!

Probably my favorite membership. This service is PERFECT for anyone who loves to read OR wants to start reading more. You have complete control over which book you want, as there are usually 5 books to choose from a month. You can see the cover and description of the book when selecting which one you’d like. They announce the new books of the month on the first of every month which gives you something exciting to look forward to!

If you’re wondering about the quality of these books, I can tell you they are top notch. Very famous authors are within this service and top-sellers are surfacing every month. They’re the same new books that come out at Barnes and Noble for half the price. I absolutely love the experience and branding with BOTM and am obsessed with their Instagram and fans. It’s a club you want to be a part of! I’ve now read 5 BOTM and they just keep getting better.

Tip: Share this membership with your friends! I’ve received 4 free books from simply sharing the link with friends. If I read 5 books and got 4 free…well you do the math 🙂

Layered With Lace Image result for layered with lace bralettes

  • What: Bralette Delivery
  • When: Monthly
  • How Much: $16.00
  • Included: 1 bralette
  • Discount: Currently no discount in place

O M G. I am OBSESSED with this brand. Layered with Lace has also become one of my favorite deliveries because I’ve finally found a bralette that I love, every time! They’re affordable, adorable and sexy. A new deign & color is featured every month which you can get a sneak peak of on their Instagram. Follow for sneak peaks! This is an up and coming brand so they have surprises and fun stuff all the time, including giveaways.

Stop wasting your time at Aerie for basic bralettes when you can have authentic, unique bralettes that compliments your style.

Tip: The website isn’t the most user friendly, as I’m pretty sure Bri, the owner, runs mostly everything herself, but her customer service is off the charts and she will help you with whatever you need 🙂 Email or Instagram message her if you’re having any issues.

Fabletics Image result for fabletics

  • What: Workout Clothes Delivery
  • When: Monthly
  • How Much: $49.99
  • Included: 1 workout outfit
  • Discount: Currently no discount in place

I’m sure you’ve heard of this one already. Fabletics is a high-end workout fashion brand that provides the latest trends and designs every month. This membership is a little more on the expensive side but totally worth it if you value quality clothes for working out. They have so many designs from floral, to neon, to darker shades. They have styles for everyone, so you’ll always find what you’re looking for.

So far, I haven’t received a single item that I didn’t like or didn’t fit. All their clothes are true to size and are always great quality. I would compare them to Lululemon with regard to quality and durability.

Tip: Remember to skip this one or you will be charged the full amount and receive nothing in return. May be helpful to also set a reminder for this one 🙂

BirchBox Image result for birchbox

The BirchBox love is real. So many great high-quality products are sent each month and I’ve always found a use for them. It’s so fun to try out these products and incorporate them into your daily hygiene/makeup routine and to see the difference it makes! Their website is super engaging and user-friendly. Any product that you really like, you can buy full size and will get points toward rewards for every product you do buy.

I received this as a Christmas gift so I’ve been receiving 1 box a month and I look forward every single one. Each box is designed to reflect the current season and includes products to also compliment those seasons. You really can’t go wrong with this membership if you love trying new samples and products.

Tip: Save the sample bottles you liked the best so you can remember what to buy in the future!

FabFitFun Image result for fabfitfun

  • What: Beauty, Wellness, Fashion & Fitness Delivery
  • When: Seasonally  
  • How Much: $49.99
  • Included: Box with high-end products ranging from all different categories.
  • Discount: Sign up using this link: http://xo.fff.me/jJxak

This delivery service is also a very popular one, especially for bloggers like myself. They have all the great products & trends in full product size and are packaged and presented so professionally. These boxes are worth $300-$400 depending on what is sent! I’ve been sent 2 boxes so far for each season and have received favorites like a new mug, a pineapple beach towel, a hair refresher spray, a contour kit, lip gloss, workout bands and more. The value is so high from both a financial & beneficial standpoint.

If you’re looking for a box that covers all the different types of self-care in one, this is it! Each box is themed to the season, so you’ll always be able to use them right away. I’m looking forward to my Fall box as that is my favorite season!

That’s a wrap for my favorite at-home delivery services. I hope I’ve inspired you to jump on at least one of these to improve your shopping experience and overall quality of life! Please comment or reach out directly if you have any questions or need help signing up for anything.

Happy Shopping xoxo

 

Travel

How to Get The Most Out of Cruising

By popular demand via Instagram, I’ve chosen to share some tips & tricks when booking & venturing off on a cruise. Let me start off by saying that I just went on my first cruise and I absolutely loved it. I boarded the Enchantment of the Seas by Royal Caribbean Cruises and royalty is exactly what it felt like. The ship boarded and left from Miami and made it’s way through the Bahamas to Nassau, CocoCay Island and Key West. The entire experience was amazing and I highly recommend cruising if you want to see many places at once!

During the planning process, when gathering opinions from friends & co-workers, it was about 50/50. Cruises are not for everyone and all experiences are not like mine. It’s important to do your research and select the trip & cruise that works best for you, as any other trip you would book. Research is key.

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Here’s what you need to remember before booking a cruise:

If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, a cruise will limit that.

Cruises, as ironic as it is that you’re just “cruising,” are not very relaxing because it’s a lot of up and go. Depending on the length of the cruise, mostly all the site-seeing & activities are packed tightly in each day. There’s only certain hours to grab breakfast which means you will probably be waking up between 7:30-8:30am to catch it. Since only about 4-5 hours are designated for the off-shore activities, you pretty much wake up, eat breakfast and are headed off the boat to get as much time as possible on-shore. The destinations are beautiful, full of culture & are very unique, and before you know it, you’re back on the boat and sailing off to the next destination.

This vacation is very fast-paced, so you have to be okay with the constant change of scenery. Jamie & I understood and embraced this, which made our trip fun & energetic.

IMG_8753.JPGThe Best Deals Will Show Closer to the Cruise Dates.

Booking way in advance is not always best, especially when it comes to cruises. The prices will typically drop $300-$400 when it’s about 3 months away. That’s a huge difference! I believe it’s because they want to get the ship filled as it gets closer, which makes sense. So don’t get too excited and book your cruise a year from now. keep checking and you’ll see the prices will gradually get lower.

Make sure you know what IS included in your cruise package and what is NOT.

Assuming that all cruise packages are all-inclusive is where you’ll find trouble when arriving on the ship. Make sure to throughly read what the package includes on the website and reach out to customer reps to answer any questions you may have, as they’ll be sure to cover anything you aren’t sure of on the website.

For our cruise, the off-shore excursions and the alcohol were NOT included. That’s the two most important aspects of the trip if you ask me. Since we knew this going in, we booked our cruise & then selected and booked our excursions about a month later, along with the unlimited beverage package they offered. We waited, because we were able to split up our expenses while also seeing price differences in all the excursions they offered and what we were most interested in.IMG_9029

Here’s my recommendations for these purchases in short:

  • Buy the drink package for each day, it’s 100% worth it. Especially if you love to drink on vacation. Know the price limit, as not all drink price points will be covered.
  • Don’t do an excursion everyday. Pick 1-2. Seriously, this trip is so fast-paced that you’ll be thankful doing nothing and just exploring on your own. We had 4 days total on the boat and did 2 excursions. One being an exclusive island called The Blue Lagoon and one being the Key Lime Bike Tour around Key West. It was the perfect dynamic of relaxing and adventure.
  • Take advantage of the food on-board since it’s included. It will limit your food spending off the boat. Eat at one of the fancy restaurants on the boat once during your cruise, even though it does cost more. It really is a nice experience and you’ll be happy to decided to go a little fancier one evening.

Just be mindful and decide what you will value on this trip! That’s how you’ll make smart decisions and save money. You don’t need to do everything.

Food is not the focus.

Oftentimes, we go on vacation expecting to drool & rave over the food we eat when we’re there. A cruise just doesn’t provide that for obvious reasons. This trip requires feeding thousands of people, constantly, all day everyday…on a boat. So expect buffet galore. We enjoyed our meals and were satisfied, and is literally the only reason we rated our cruise a 4 instead of a 5. If you’re okay with average food, with hidden gems here and there, then you’ll be all set. The experience itself of traveling and venturing on and off the boat should outweigh that element.

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Here’s what you should do when you’re onboard:

Take advantage of the ship.

The great thing about being on a cruise is that there are endless things to do. On the Enchantment of The Seas, they had a digital screen on every deck that was navigated by a touch screen that showed what activities were going on throughout the day and into the night. There were game shows, live bands, DJs, dance parties, a casino, karaoke, theatre shows, games, shopping discounts, pool parties & a lot more. Don’t just stay in the cabin or lay in the same sunny spot out on the exposed deck. Explore the ship, you paid for it.

IMG_8715.JPGGo Easy on the Drinking.

So yeah, you may have the unlimited beverage package, but this relates back to how cruises are fast-paced which usually involve lots of sun and of course…the moving part! You will feel the boat move regardless of how big it is. It’s been 2 days and I still have sea legs. The night entertainment promotes heavy drinking but just be smart about how much you do consume, because you really don’t want to ruin your experience and your excursions the next day.

Book your dinner reservations for later.

You might think that 6:00-6:30pm is a good time for dinner but usually you’re just getting back from the off-shore activities around 4:00-5:00pm which means you have limited time to shower, get ready and take a much needed nap after being out all day. I’d suggest a 7:30-8:00pm dinner timeframe as this allows you to sleep multiple hours beforehand and then you’ll be ready to go for the fun entertainment during the night!

Don’t tip the staff too heavily. 

This is a price that can really add up by the end. Make sure to find out if gratuity is included in your cruise deal, because even if it is, there are still plenty of opportunities to tip extra. Not that the staff doesn’t deserve extra tips, but tipping every single time is not necessary considering the amount of food and drinks you’re ordering which ARE included. It just makes it harder that you have to sign a receipt every single time.

So tip every so often, especially when the staff has went above and beyond to make your experience better, otherwise you’ll end up with an unexpected huge bill at the end. Thankfully, we kept this in mind while still showing thanks to the wonderful staff that supported us!

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That’s all I have for now. Overall, a cruise is an excellent and convenient way to see a lot of places at once. If you like to stay busy, enjoy a lot of entertainment & the flexibility of choosing what excursions you want to do, then this is the vacation for you.

We loved ours so much we’re already planning our 2019 cruise to…Alaska! Image result for Alaska cruise

What cruise would you all like to embark on?

Fitness

The Jess Litras 30 Day Challenge #ItsLITras

If you’re reading this because you’re curious about living a healthier lifestyle, then I’m happy to say I have a legit answer on how to do it. There’s so many ways to create healthier habits in your life, but not all of them work for everyone. Some try intense diets and just can’t stick to them. Some hate the thought of exercising, especially anything cardio related. Some just make poor health decisions and don’t realize the harm they’re doing. Or, some just fall off the health track and want to get back on it. All valid reasons why some don’t live up to their healthiest potential. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to push forward!

Almost exactly a year ago, I created a personal “30 Day Challenge” for myself. I didn’t subscribe to a program, I didn’t order pre-made meals and I didn’t seek out a personal trainer. I evaluated what’s important to me, how I can achieve my goals within one month and exactly what I need to do to be a healthier individual overall (this varies for everyone- my biggest advice here is to just be real with yourself, you know what your bad habits are.) But all it takes is one month. One month of total commitment and dedication to your health. Last time I started my 30 Day Challenge, I pre-gamed with an entire pizza to myself because I knew it was going to be a long time until I had a slice again. I cut out all the cravings that I indulged in too much, I wrote workout plans to target specific muscles to follow day-by-day in my planner and saved workout videos to watch. That worked for me last year, but this year is different.

IMG_7967The beauty of the Jess Litras 30 Day Challenge is that it can be tailored to whatever YOUR needs are. Not everyone else’s and not even based on what you did last time. So really, you just replace my name with yours and continue it with “30 Day Challenge.” The key here is to create a plan that works for you. I make sure that whenever I’m tackling a 30 Day Challenge, I’m making it realistically achievable and not something that will just set me up for failure.

Here’s what my 30 Day Challenge will consist of this month:

  • Workout 4-5 times a week
  • Weight train 2-3 of those days
  • Make barre class every Saturday and yoga class every Sunday at Equinox
  • Follow along with the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living Guide – I’m becoming an Independent Consultant soon, stay tuned for awesome promotions & products sold by yours truly 😉
  • Only consume 2 alcoholic drinks a week
  • Make smarter food decisions at the office

Now, although this is vague, there’s a lot that goes into each item here. The important thing when making a list of bullet points to identify your problem areas + anything you want to do more of/get better at.

You don’t have to ONLY eat lettuce. You don’t HAVE to workout every single day. You don’t NEED to cut out any and all alcohol. Make a plan that works for YOU.

I’d much rather work hard to keep my body as healthy as I can, but also honor it if I’m just dead tired from a long day at work and can’t make it to the gym and would frankly, just like a glass of wine before bed. Life happens and it’s okay to make adjustments as needed, as long as you balance them out. If you don’t make the gym one day, just eat healthier for dinner. Make it to the gym tomorrow.

IMG_7979Here’s a list of the foods I stick to on my 30 Day Challenge:

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Hummus
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Water

There’s of course many more, but those are my staples. I suggest to make a list of all the healthy foods you enjoy the most and keep that list handy when shopping throughout the month. Skip the processed foods, ditch the chips (my biggest weakness – you can still see I grabbed some Kale chips in my cart), and cut out the bad carbs. Basically, just shop on the outside of the grocery store, not in the aisles.

When you tailor your workout plan to your needs, you’ll find the most success and happiness. As long as it’s challenging, motivating and doable, you’ll see results. You just have to limit your bad habits, improve on your good ones and know that your inner peace is the most important aspect in all of this. The healthier you eat and the more you keep your body moving, the better you will feel. Each healthy decision you make will just make the next decision easier because you’ll realize how amazing it feels to be doing right by your body.

Create your workout plan, find workout videos to watch on YouTube, write down your exercises for the gym, take a challenging class and try to keep up with it all month, make healthier eating decisions, drink all the water and I promise I’ll have you saying “damn, it’s LITras.”

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What does your 30 Day Challenge look like? If I’ve inspired you to start this month in a healthier direction, be sure to like, comment on the blog and tag me in your progress! Using the hashtag #itsLITras will give you extra points 😉

Lifestyle

Need Some Last Minute New Year’s Resolutions?

“New Year’s Eve is overrated.” A common phrase I hear every year. That may be true in a social & entertainment aspect. But there comes a time when you realize that New Year’s Eve isn’t about the perfect sequined dress, the best party to go to and the curiosity of who you’ll kiss at midnight. When you realize New year’s Eve is about the opportunity to start over, that’s when it’ll soon become one of your favorite nights of the year, not one to dread.

If you’re still wondering what your 2018 goals should be, I have a couple up my sleeve that may be worth borrowing. Nothing cliche like going to the gym more often or being better at public speaking (although those are great too!) These are a little more creative, and not always easily achievable. Here you go:

Stop being a baby and just do what you want to do.

Expecto-Patronum-Tattoo.jpgFor me, it’s finally getting the tattoos I want. Tattoos are something I never saw myself getting until I found things meaningful enough to imprint on my body. I just never thought it was worth it. For the past year and a half however, I’ve debated getting tattoos by discussing exactly what I’d get, where I’d get it, what size it would be, etc. Well, this year I’m going to stop imagining and start doing. And you should to! Can you think of anything permanent you’ve been meaning to do or get? Maybe getting a new piercing? Planning a quick getaway to an extravegant destination? Buying a new car? A house?

If the want is stronger than the fear, that’s how you know you need to just suck it up and do it. As long as you have the resources to do so!

Learn a new skill.piano-header

If you think an old dog can’t learn new tricks, then I suggest you change your way of thinking. I’ve never read a music note in my life and I guarantee you, I will learn to play the piano this year. It’s the one instrument I always wished I could play, but never got around to trying. It’s something that takes a lot of practice and dedication. But I’m going to stop making excuses and just take it one step at a time. The amount of happiness and feeling of accomplishment I’ll feel afterward is far greater than my laziness to start.

Is there a skill you’ve always wanted to master? Cooking? Surfing? Singing? It’s never too late to start.

Take the health & fitness goal a step further. 

yoga.jpgInstead of just making a goal to hit the gym more, make something more substantial out of it. Like training for a half or full marathon. Training with more weights to gain muscle if you typically resort to cardio. Running and exercising outside more often if you tend to just stay inside and workout. As a yogi who just joined the yoga club a year and a half ago, I vow to dominate hard yoga poses I’ve been too scared to try before. My goal is to train my body & muscles to handle these poses so I can feel better about my body physically and mentally.

How can you up your health and fitness game?

Make a career goal.

career-opportunities.jpgThis is vague, but that’s only because it can mean many different things for people. Depending on your field of work, you may have different expectations in your position. The most important thing is to set an achievable goal that will have you saying a year from now “I can’t believe I’ve made it this far.” Whether that be new ideas brought by you, creativity, a better work atmosphere, strong work relationships, a promotion or a raise. Make it something valuable to you and the company you work for.

My goal as an Office Services Assistant and Event Planner is to take on more responsibilities so that I can produce, affect change and be reliable to those I work with. I just want to help make a difference to an already amazing place.

How can you make a difference at work?

Get a furry friend.

PupOr not, maybe you’re not into fur. One of my goals is to adopt a pet of some sort. As much as I LOVE dogs, because of mine and my boyfriend’s work schedules, we just can’t properly take care of one. So, I’m going to find an alternative and love them anyway. I’ve never been a huge fan of cats but maybe I should give them a chance. I just love the idea of caring for an animal, especially because of how far away I am from having kids. Not a bad alternative right?

Is there a pet you’d like to start 2018 with?

Enhance your Education. 

learnIf you’ve already graduated college like me, then you might be thinking “no thanks, been there, done that.” But if you ask me, education is never done. And I always say I wish I had the brain in college that I have now. I just think way differently about things and find more interest in the subjects I once thought were boring. There are so many programs, certifications and courses that are offered both in-person and online for graduate students who work full time. It might make a tight schedule-crunch, but how awesome would it be to learn more about your field and continue to develop skills?

What classes can you realistically take in order to help you perform better?

Do more of what makes you happy.

You can only go so far without being cliche. But it’s true. Whatever makes you happy, do more of that. There’s no excuse for not being able to do what you want because the only limit you have is the one you put on yourself.

I love to write and because of my busy schedule and other obligations I didn’t write as often in 2017. But this year, I will write as much as I want to because it make me way too happy not to.

I can’t suggest or tell you what will make you happier. But if you close your eyes and really think about it, it’ll come to you. Once you make your happiness a priority, the rest will be easy. Let 2018 be your year and don’t let anyone else tell you any different.

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Travel

Moving Away with Bae

After making the best decision of my life, I felt obligated to share that experience, while also receiving insight from others. Although many of us are very different from one another, we all have one thing in common. We made a big decision to move away from home with our significant other.

All of us had our current lives to consider, friends and family to leave, fears to consolidate and realistic scenarios to work out. Moving in itself is a scary thing to do, let alone with someone who you may be with for a very long time. I can assure you that whatever decision you do end up making will be the right one, even if it takes a couple times. Because what’s meant to be, will always be, as cliche as that sounds.

You may not know if you should go through with it, but we all hope this inspires you to.

Jamie & Mike

“Mike and I started dating in July of 2014 and always talked about how great it’d be to move in together because being functioning adults, (having a job and other responsibilities creating a full schedule all the time) and living at home with parents wasn’t a FUN time for either of us. We really only ever got to see each other on the weekends because during the week we were both just too tired to function after all of the events of the day. Mike is a comedian so he is always busy going to open mics, doing shows and writing. I’m a high school science teacher…everyone knows teachers bring home more work than they should so I’ll let that speak for itself.

In October of 2016 I got a job about 45 minutes away from home (North Babylon, NY) in Great Neck, NY. Mikes day job is close to NB, but he always wanted to live close to NYC to be “where its at” for his career in comedy. In order for both of us to grow as individuals (and for me to drastically cut my commute time down), we decided to move to Queens. This would mean that both of us would be closer to where we needed to be. SO, after weeks of going and looking at apartments and dealing with crazy real estate brokers (some that we still laugh about to this day) we found the perfect apartment for us. Moving in was crazy, moving heavy hand-me-down furniture through the snow in Queens is enough to make the nicest person snap. But we made it through and naturally got pizza to aid our woes once everything was all in one place.

The thing I was most afraid of was not having any family close by. I grew up with my mom and sister and my family was only ever 15-20 minutes away. Moving to Queens meant that I was 45 minutes away from anyone in any given direction. Being in the apartment was weird. It wasn’t what I was used to. There were tears, but I like to call them growing pains tears. I knew I definitely didn’t want to move back home, but I think part of me was sad I felt that way. Over time I’ve grown used to being in the apartment, even by myself (since Mike is gone so much for comedy shows, this happened pretty fast). We went from sleeping on Long Island every weekend to only going out to my moms to do laundry (I refuse to pay for laundry in the building). What I was afraid of most before moving in with Mike was if we would still get along as well as we did before. This was quickly overcame because I think we laugh more now than we did when we were living at home. We often say to each other “I love living with you” because its Gods honest truth. I never knew that food shopping together, making dinner for him, eating it together (and watching h

Jamie and Mike

im clean it all up) could be so much fun and mean so much to me. We’ve been in the apartment for 7 months and are 100% renewing the lease when it comes time to in February. We love our little abode!! We can’t wait to keep coming home to each other.

As sappy as that sounds, I’m happy to share it 🙂 I’d suggest to anyone who is thinking about moving in with their SO to go with their gut. If they are reluctant due to negative thoughts or ideas, trust your instincts. In my case, I couldn’t stand only seeing Mike on weekends. It just wasn’t enough. I still feel that way sometimes with our busy schedules, but at least now I know he’ll be in the same bed as me every night and waking up with me in the mornings.”

Shannon & Matt

“Matt and I have been friends since sophomore year of college and started dating during “our” Senior year. He graduated a year before I finished grad school and moved to Columbus for a job, where I was also able to find a job following my graduation in 2016. After about a year and a half of living in Columbus, we started talking about our future and where we wanted our next home to be. Over this past summer, we visited Chicago and talked pretty often about how much we loved the city and that we thought that could be our new home, and that started our hunt for our new home.

Overwhelmingly quickly, we started interviewing for jobs in the Windy City and the next thing we knew Matt received a job offer in Chicago! It was terrible timing, as Matt was in D.C. for work for two weeks and I had to take in all this news alone. As much as I was excited for him, the thoughts of student loans, paying the full rent and bills, and having no income or benefits scared me to death. He only had one day to respond to the offer, and panic set in. Embarrassingly, I didn’t handle the situation the best at first; I immediately started panicking and didn’t show him how happy I was for him. After talking to some amazing and understanding friends (shout out to you, Jess!) I was convinced that I should tell him to take the job. I knew he was my person and that we had to take leaps together, and this was it for us! I let him know that it may be a month or two while I looked for jobs before I finally moved there for good, but I was definitely coming with him. After deciding on this huge decision together, and still having no job in Chicago, I was feeling anxious about what I was going to do. A week after this life changing decision, I FINALLY received the call I had been waiting for. I got a new job in Chicago, too! Things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly and I am so relieved and happy that I said I would go from the start. It may not have seemed like the best timing originally, but we lucked out and we know this was a sign we made the best decision for us.

IMG_0783This weekend (9/17) we are making the big move to Chicago & we are so anxious for our future there. If I could tell anyone what to do in this situation it’s “Do it, and never look back”. I am so lucky I had a great support system to help me get through this and tell me I was making the best decision for us. We are so eager to get to Chicago & start our new big city life ♥”

Insta: Shan_Misk

 

Mike & Olivia 

“My name is Mike and I’m from Long Island, New York.  I began dating my girlfriend Olivia in April, 2014 while we were both seniors in college together on Long Island.  From the start Olivia was honest with me regarding her future plans to move to the west coast. That did not stop me from wanting to see her while on Long Island. We were in college and adulthood seemed too far away to worry about parting ways.

As time went on and our feelings grew stronger the west coast move for Olivia became more and more real.  In April 2015 Olivia and I visited her father (currently living in the Seattle area working for Boeing). This trip was my first journey to the west coast.  With an anticipated move date for the rest of Olivia’s family in late 2015, she used this trip to go to job interviews.  I also decided to take this opportunity to apply to police agencies in the WA area.

Needless to say I was captured by the beauty of WA state during this visit.  I was in awe of the towering mountains, rich fragrant forests, and overall beauty.  This was the first moment I realized I could see myself moving elsewhere with Olivia.

Olivia and her family relocated to the Seattle area in October 2015.  Olivia was moving onto her second “big girl” job while I was 2000 miles east struggling to find my first “big boy” job.  The first few months were difficult as we tried to stay positive through a time of uncertainty.

In December 2015 I received a job offer from a Seattle area police agency.  I was finally faced with my first “yes/no” decision so to speak.  My options were to decline the offer and hold out for a job closer to home, or take the plunge and move across the country with Olivia.

Many factors weighed into this decision.  After months of being apart from Olivia I wanted nothing more than to be with her.  Financially moving to WA made much more sense than continuing to live on overpriced, expensive Long Island.  At the same time I felt stifled by the Long Island way of life.  I yearned for this opportunity to break out of my NY shell.  On the flip side I did not want to leave my family, friends, and the small world that is Long Island, NY.

This crossroads was a particularly difficult time for Olivia and I.  Olivia struggled to play a neutral part in supporting whatever decision I decided to make.  Olivia wanted me to solely make this decision on my own with no bias coming from any outside sources.  I can not thank her enough for how she handled this situation.  I know she wanted nothing more than to be together in a new state taking the next big step in our relationship.

I decided the pros outweighed the cons of moving to WA.  I knew if things did not work out I would have my family and friends on Long Island to move back to and fall back on.  In January 2016, I moved to the Seattle area and rejoined Olivia.  This was by far the best decision I have made in my entire life.

Our relationship has flourished from the get-go.  We’ve gone through the typical growing pains most couples go through when moving in together. However, our relationship could not be better.

Olivia and I have been together for 3.5 years now.  We make a strong effort to return to Long Island to visit friends and family.  Although it is difficult at tim

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es being so far from the place I’ve called home, frequent communication and visits to and from family make it work.

I would advise anyone who considers moving for their significant other to ensure they can see a future with that person.  I would advise not moving SOLELY for your significant other.  I would make sure there is something in it for you individually as well (for me it was the job/willingness to explore).

Overall I love my day to day life with this woman.  I do not regret a single moment or decision I have made with Olivia. ”

Nicole & Jonathan

“I moved with my husband from Maryland where we grew up to Seattle in 2012 for my husband’s job. We’d been together for six years at that point and had just gotten married. We’ve now lived here and been married for 5 years now. It was hard when we first moved here because we knew only a few people. It was also tough because we my mom had some health issues so I was back and forth between the coasts quite frequently. In some ways, this kept me from really settling in our new place for a while because I was always going back and forth.

One of the hardest things was leaving friends and family behind. My siblings are all younger than me, and for those first few years, I feel like I missed out on so much of their lives by being away.

Quite frankly, Seattle seemed to always be in heart for some reason. Despite never having been here before moving, I felt drawn to the Pacific Northwest and was really glad we got to be here. Adjusting to city life was SO hard, though. It was very, very different from everything I had ever known. It took about 3 years for me to really feel comfortable in this environment.

My advice to others would be embrace the experience and be prepared to cope. There are a lot of cool things about moving to a new place with your significant other, but it’s also hard to leave all of your other relationships behind. Find new ways to stay in touch with your friends and family. Whether it’s letters, social media, FaceTime or phone calls, those methods of communication are really valuable in keeping those connections alive and strong.

14729293_10154634507822065_8966317259278971510_nI’d also like to say get out and meet new people as soon as possible. This is something I kind of put off for a while (and now actually most of my friendships started online and turned into IRL relationships which is pretty cool!). But the sooner you do it, the better you’ll feel. Make sure to establish yourself in your new place outside of your relationship. In other words, do things for YOU and do them ALONE. It’s really important to establish your own identity outside of your relationship.”

Nicole Booz
Twitter: @nicolebooz

Alena & Myles

“Where to even start…

So, as you know, Myles and I met at WVU. We talked on and off for about 6 months. I knew from the beginning that he wasn’t just another random guy in Mo-town. Neither of us were sure of what was going to happen when he graduated and moved back to Long Island, so we never actually made it official. I was scared, SO scared, to lose him.

The year passed quickly and we both realized that we didn’t want to be without each other.After basically preparing to say goodbye to him forever (dramatic, but I didn’t know what to expect), he finally asked me to move with him a few months before he graduated. Of course, I said yes, without hesitation. We were so unprepared for anything to come, so we started taking baby steps. Myles moved home after graduation in May of 2016. After my lease was up in July, I decided to move home to save money.

We did long distance for about a year. I looked and looked and LOOKED for an apartment and just kept striking out. I was slowly trying to prepare myself. I picked up hours at work, I started saving every penny, researching how to switch my insurance, how to get my NYS license, looking for jobs, etc. It was getting so exciting, but also overwhelming. Nothing was falling into place the right way. We decided to live with his family for a while to save up (horrible idea, but thankfully we weren’t there too long). Finally, we set a date for me to actually move to Huntington.

I never knew how much I was actually leaving behind though. It’s been about 5 months already, and I miss my family and friends more than ever. It’s definitely hard being away from everyone. Moving from rural West Virginia to Long Island, New York is definitely not what I expected to do, but I’m still glad I did. It’s expensive. It’s crowded. It’s FLAT (I love my mountains). But, it’s beautiful. I have a job. I’m paying my bills. I have an amazing place to live (thanks to this pretty cool girl I met on Facebook)! But more than anything, I have the love of my life here beside me, helping me th

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rough my worst days and celebrating the best.

My advice: DO IT. Life is WAY too short to worry about the small stuff. I’ve learned that taking risks is what life is about, especially with the right person. After a short 2 years with Myles, I know now more than ever, that I wouldn’t change a thing. The grass isn’t always greener, but if you don’t step into new pastures, you’ll never know what you might be missing.”

Contact Info:

Email: asbarra11@gmail.com

Social Media Handles:

Insta: alena_grace

Facebook: facebook.com/alena.sbarra

Nicole & Justin

“In June of 2017 I moved from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to Worcester, Massachusetts. Before anyone brings up Google maps, it was a nine-hour drive after stopping for gas and food and to stretch. In the few days leading up to my major move in my super old car, I felt very calm and was not nervous or anxious at all, which is why I knew it was the best decision to make.

Let’s go back to November 2009, when Justin asked me to be his girlfriend in our junior year of high school. We were 16, and no, we do not have some romantic Disney story of being together every minute of college, but we have an amazing story of tough times and unhappy times fighting for our relationship. College is hard for everyone and while we were not always in a Facebook-official situation, we still spent all of our time together and were each other’s best friend. Now its 2017 and we are 24, however anyone wants to add it up we’ve been doing this for a real long time. Moving in with Justin, also eight hours from our hometown, was not like playing house, because we know each other inside and out.

Justin moved to Worcester in August of 2016 to chase his dreams of doing sports play-by-play and it was hard to be so far apart but we made a really big effort to visit each other. This was essentially why I moved as well, to be with him but also improve my opportunities of working in sports, where the market was too saturated competition wise at home.

My biggest fear was that things would go south with our relationship by adding the stress of bills and financial things that we hadn’t had to worry about before, and I would be stuck in a town where I don’t know anyone or I would have to move back home. I’ve learned mostly that we are better off being in this together than apart, which is tough now that I’ve moved to New Hampshire for a big opportunity, but close enough that we get some weekends together.

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I am still having a hard time with his living situation because he has a roommate (that I also lived with) and while she is pretty cool I just want us to have our own space, and living with another person while you’re adjusting to living together is annoying enough which I don’t think I have to explain. If I was still in Worcester full time we would have moved out by now.

For those considering moving with, or to be with, their significant other, the best advice I can give you is this: other people’s opinions about what you do with your life are completely irrelevant. Yes, I want my friends to support me, but there are going to be people who think you are crazy, LET THEM. As long as you and your boo are happy, who cares what other people say.”

Twitter – @NicoleCurtin_

Insta – nicolercurtin

Karli & Greg

“FROM PA – OKLAHOMA 
 
Just a short two weeks after graduating from WVU, I packed up my Saturn Vue and traveled 18 hours cross country to our new home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greg had already been living there since August, so I all I had to do was move in my stuff and take over half of the closet. After a couple of months living together, we got into some fights which is bound to happen living in a tight space.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
 
Our last year of college is where we met, and of course it was at one of our favorite bars, SPAGE! If you went to WVU, you know how great the happy hours were—and yes, I’m specifically talking to the author of this blog. Anyways…it was Valentine’s day 2014 where we met at the bar due to mutual friends. We started talking (and drinking), and when we exchanged numbers we both realized our area codes were in the 717. And we never looked back!
Fast forward to 3.5 years this past August 2017, we’re currently exploring a new city. We moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota back in March, which is crazy to think that we’ve lived here for six months already!
Since living together for a little over three years, we’ve overcame the small annoyances such as not remembering to close the dresser drawer or having to watch The Voice 1/3 of the year. As a couple, we have learned that patience and

Karli.jpgcommunication is key. If there isn’t a strong communication foundation where you can talk it out, then that will certainly cause issues later on. The only thing I have a hard time with is being a plane ride away from friends and family. Although that sounds dramatic, it’d be much easier to hop in my car and be there in minutes.

If you’re thinking about living/ moving with your SO, my advice is plain and simple, make sure your gut reaction is that you love this person and wouldn’t want anything else for the both of you. Don’t just do it because it seems right. Do it for yourself and the growth of your relationship. It won’t always be easy, but that’s what will make you push yourselves in ways you never thought was possible.”
 
Social handles: Instagram + Facebook + Snapchat: @madambeautymark
Personal website: madambeautymark.com

Jess & Jamie 

“I met Jamie in 2012. We were juniors in college and attending a crazy, outgoing unfathomable university in the middle of nowhere. We spent a lot of our weekends together. It started out as a simple, fun and sometimes confusing relationship, but we just went with the flow to see where things would take us. It wasn’t until 2014 that we officially starting dating, after getting to know each other enough and experiencing some pretty great memories together.

Once our college lives were over, things changed tremendously. We would no longer live within a few miles in our fantasy college town, but rather a few states away. I’m from Long Island, New York and He’s from Boston, Massachusetts. Rivalries by definition, obviously distinguishable accents and opposite personalities. I have to admit, it was really hard at first. Jamie landed an amazing job opportunity in Sweden where he would live abroad for a year. Not even expecting it, he asked me to go with him. So I did. And I regretted it very much.

When someone asks you to take a leap like that it sounds great and exciting but also very scary in theory. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how we would be once living together or if I would find a job or even like the country I’m staying in. Sweden, as clean and beautiful as it is, was very dark and cold during the winter months. The sun sets at 3pm everyday which contributed to this constant dreary atmosphere. I didn’t feel at home, I was actually very sick for weeks and had no luck finding a job. Because although Sweden is the second largest english speaking country, you had to be able to speak Swedish too.

So what did I do? I left. I wanted out and I wanted to go back home to find a job in the city I always saw myself doing great things in. I went home knowing our relationship would be extremely tampered with and pretty much impossible to continue. And I was actually okay with it at the time.

A year goes by that Jamie & I are apart and although I found the perfect job experience for me in new York City, something was still missing. I missed him more than anything, even if I was reluctant to admit it. Once he came back to the states he was off again to a faraway place for work. California. He asked the question again. This time, I wasn’t so quick to say yes, because I knew I had a lot of things to consider. If it didn’t work out last time, why should it this time? What if I want to come back home again? Moving there meant quitting my job in NY and having to start over, again. The thought terrified me and I was also afraid of what my friends and family would think. “Is she crazy for trying to do this again?” Surprisingly, I received a lot of support and encouragement to do it.

So… after a year of time apart, reuniting and realizing we just can’t live without each other, I did it again. I quit my job as a manager of an off-site events venue, I packed up my things from my pretty-much-rent-free Long Island house, said bye to my best friends and caught a plane in the beginning of summer.

And I’m so glad I did. California, in my opinion, is the most beautiful state in the entire country. The weather is perfect, the people are kind, the sightseeing is never-ending and the opportunities are endless. With my luck and positive attitude, I found a job within the first month of my move, at one of the best consulting firms you can work for with the most amazing company culture I’ve witnessed.

My advice for anyone who is leaning toward doing this, would be to definitely know for sure that this person is worth the change. Changes, as great as they can be, are overwhelming and tough to adjust to. The person you’re making the change for should be willing to help you adjust in any way they can, while also receiving help from you. Because the move, wherever it will be, is going to take team work, commitment and understanding. Make sure you have enough money saved, a need and want to leave the life you have now and a game plan for if it doesn’t workout. Always protect yourself.

If you’re wondering how things are working out for us now, well all I can say is I pray to God every night that he didn’t let me give up just yet. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my entire life and I blame Jamie for that. He’s my best friend and I can’t even stand to be away from him for a couple hours.

Everyday is exciting, adventurous and full of laughter. He gets me and accepts me for all2B0B2C12-50D2-4482-9982-BB27C8826C3C I am, even my weird side. We make compromises, we love each other in every way we can and we stay strong. I’m at awe everyday with this life we’re living and can’t believe how far we’ve come. Life, as hard as it is as we get older, is just so much better and easier with him by my side.

If you aren’t sure about what to do still, I hope this at least gave you some insight on what it will be like. I personally think it’s always worth a try, as long as you truly love the person. You may be leaving a lot, but you could also be gaining so much more. I know I did.”

Travel

Three Pieces of Advice When Booking an All-Inclusive Resort

Vacation is the best time of the year, no matter how frequently you go. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been more interested in traveling, exploring and vacationing as much as I have the time (and money) for. If you ask me, traveling is just as important as having a steady job, if not more important. It allows you to challenge your mindset, learn about new cultures, surprise your taste buds, expand your knowledge on foreign languages and be in places that you may never see again. So, if you’re interested in vacationing, or as I like to call it working, more often, here’s a great way to start.

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Royal Hideaway Playacar

Nothing says vacation more than a tropical location, am I right? Spending your time in the hot sun, watching the waves crash, sipping that cool Pina Colada and reading your book under a palm tree. The ultimate relaxation.

Well, if this is enticing to you, then I suggest an all-inclusive resort be your go-to. I’ve just experienced my first all-inclusive resort and to be honest, it was one of the best vacations I’ve had.

Here’s 3 pieces of advice when booking an all-inclusive resort:

1. Do Your Research

Like visiting any location, it’s wise to research and compare. It can be overwhelming with all the different travel sites, pop-ups, suggestions and packages that are offered. It wouldn’t be a good idea to just choose a place after looking for 5 minutes, because there could be so many better deals you’re neglecting to see. First, start off by picking the country or city. You’ll find out pretty quickly, which locations are more expensive than others. Once you’ve narrowed down the exact place, you can look at resorts in that area alone. This could take a few days to efficiently work your way through each resort, but it’s also the most effective because you’re educating yourself on the good from the bad.

Here are some questions you’ll want to have answered in your search:

  • Is it a family resort or adults-only?
  • Is it for partying or relaxing?
  • Is it in close proximity to the ocean?
  • Are you able to swim in the ocean?
  • What restaurants are included/not-included in the package?
  • Is transportation included?
  • What activities are included? Jet-skiing, kayaking, sailing, hiking, etc.
  • Does it have good reviews?

These are all great questions to keep in mind when narrowing down your choices. Once you find a good candidate, contact customer service and ask as many questions as you want. Getting your money’s worth means being super persistent and getting the most accurate information. Also, be sure to check out Groupon for deals, you may find a good one! My boyfriend and I sure did 🙂

2. Tip Your Servers 

IMG_3541This is the key to success once you’re there. Even if when booking the amazing all-inclusive resort that you’ve selected says “TIPS ARE INCLUDED!”…tip anyway during your stay. It took us about 2 days to realize that once you tip your server, you’re set for the rest of your stay. Of course, the service was amazing to begin with. We happened to stay at a 5-star hotel with the most accommodating customer service I’ve witnessed, starting as soon as we stepped off the plane, but still, it goes a long way.

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Playa Del Carmen Beach

Waiters will most likely be walking around the resort, by the pool and near the beach chairs, taking orders and asking if you’re comfortable. Thanking them with a smile and a few bucks can assure advanced service. They’ll come around twice as often and will make sure you aren’t empty-handed whether that be with food, drinks or fresh pool towels.

3. Leave the Resort.

So if you go to Mexico, like we did, everyone will tell you “don’t leave the resort.” That’s not always accurate advice, however. Sure, it probably isn’t a good idea to go roaming in areas you’ve never heard of or aren’t educated about, but off-site is where you can experience a little more adventure. You probably won’t want to leave the resort, considering they probably have everything you need, but relaxing can get boring. Save aside one day of adventure and you’ll be glad you did.

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Zip-lining, cave swimming, ATV riding, repelling, bungee jumping, para-sailing, etc, are all activities that you can experience in adventure sites near, or even further away from the resort. Not only do you get to get a little dirty, a sense of fear and adrenaline and a sunburn, you’ll also experience the culture of the people who live there and who run the adventure parks as a living. You’ll find out what they talk about, what excites them, what they do everyday and what they like to eat. You’ll surely find out that they aren’t so different from us, and you probably will laugh the entire time. At them and at yourself.

 

Other tips:

  • Choose vacation dates wisely. Resorts and flights can vary drastically, depending on the days you choose.
  • Bring a first aid kit with band aids, aloe, Tums, Motrin, and cold medicine.
  • Bring your own suntan lotion in travel packs, as the resorts tend to hike up the prices.
  • Buy bottled waters for the room if the resort does not already provide.
  • Make sure to triple check if all food and drinks are included, you don’t want to get ripped off.
  • Find out what the policy is with dinner, sometimes you need a reservation.
  • Setup transportation ahead of time. We used USA Transfers in Cancun and the service was amazing and cheaper than going through the resort directly.
  • Be smart, be prepared and have fun!

Happy travels 🙂

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Entertainment

3 Reasons to Watch 13 Reasons Why

Jay Asher, author of 13 Reasons Why, is truly brilliant. I read this book 2 years ago, having no idea that a Netflix series would be created in it’s honor. It’s hard for me to remember every detail of a book I read that long ago. And as if I wasn’t already scarred enough by the book, this series took that feeling to a whole other level.

If you haven’t heard all the hype about the show, then you’re probably disconnected from all forms of social media, because it’s been almost impossible to avoid the tweets, memes and articles written on 13 Reasons Why. In short, it’s about a girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide. But she isn’t just gone, not truly. She leaves behind these cassette tapes explaining exactly what went on in her life and who made her do it. I can vouch for the fact that this isn’t bogus or a waste of your time. It’s not in any way overrated and shouldn’t be something that you refuse to get sucked into.

That’s why I’m here. Jessica Litras. That’s right. It’s me, live and on paper. Anonymous reader, welcome to your tape…

3 Reasons to watch 13 Reasons Why:

1. It’s Unpredictable. Unknown

There’s really no telling where this story is going or when it’ll end. Even having read the book, I was very confused. There’s flashbacks of before Hannah’s death and after Hannah’s death which causes you to make connections, link clues and notice foreshadowing and just how different things are when she’s gone. You don’t realize how terrible some of the characters really are until you find out what they do. It’s a true high school nightmare filled with evil teenage punks who need a good slap in the face (which many of them get anyway.)

Usually with other shows, it’s easy to decipher characters you like and dislike, but the characters in this series remain questionable throughout. Who’s really behind it all? Who can we really trust? Did they actually do what Hannah said they did? Are they all as terrible as the seem? There’s unanswered questions during every episode and even after the series is over, that many people want answered. There’s debate over whether there should be another season, but if you ask me, it should be left as is. It’s not about the entertainment of the show, it’s about the message.

2. It’s Realimages

When both reading the book and watching the movie there’s an instinctual reaction to think that the Hannah is completely overreacting. That she’s too sensitive or overthinking interactions she has and the relationships she develops. And you’ll probably wonder why she can’t just “get over it.” This attitude changes rapidly when it’s obvious how shitty the people are at her high school. If you didn’t have a tough time in high school, then you’ll surely realize what it was like for the people who did. Because even though Hannah Baker was the victim, it’s clear that everyone involved is a victim of some sort. They all have their own issues to deal with and being high schoolers, it feels like everything is the end of the world.

Hannah, however, had a more intense, trapped and negative mindset once the damage was done. The only factor that wasn’t really touched upon in this series was mental illness. The impact this series had was big enough, but the reactions would just have been developed from a different perspective. One that’s just important as bullying. Despite the lack of mental health discussion in the series, it was still powerful. The acting, the characters, the conversations and the scenes were so real in the sense that you felt they were actually happening. I didn’t binge watch the entire thing in one sitting, however. I was more like Clay and needed time to think about what I heard and the things I saw.

3. It’s DarkUnknown-1

The series isn’t only intense and capturing, it’s very dark. It takes you on another level of feeling uneasy by the malicious intent and vulgar language used throughout. I found myself speechless, apalled and yelling at the screen almost every episode. I couldn’t stop thinking about the episodes after I watched them and thought about it all day, wondering what would happen the next episode. Unlike other shows, there were only a handful of comic relief here and there throughout the 13 episodes. So you felt this unavoidable sadness while watching, not really being able to bring yourself back out of it until it ended. Kind of like how Hannah felt.

You may now know what to expect when watching 13 Reasons Why after the tweets, memes and this blog post, but you don’t even know the half of what’s to come. You don’t really know how intense it’ll be, how much hurt you’ll feel for others and how much you wish you could help those who feel like they aren’t good enough. If you’re turned off to watching it because it sounds too depressing, that’s because it is. And sure, you also know how it ends, but sometimes already knowing the ending isn’t a bad thing. I knew how the story ended and I am forever scarred by what I saw. Trust me, you aren’t ready.

Lifestyle

Three Ways To Get Your Life Back On Track

Even the most successful people fall into a slump. I think it’s inevitable at some point in each of our busy lives because the reality of running on top speed 24/7, just isn’t natural. Even if we want to believe we can do it, there comes a time when we’re put into our place. Were humans and sometimes we slack a little. It doesn’t mean we’re lazy or worthless. Realizing that it’s acceptable every once in a while and making a goal to get back where we want to be is what’s most important.

If you’ve fallen off your track, here’s out to get back on it:

1. Make Lists

img_0138The key to organization is always keeping tabs on what actually needs to get accomplished.  There’s no way you can do that by simply storing it in your head. It needs to be written down. Lists have become a daily routine of mine. Every morning when I grab a cup of coffee, get to work and sit at my desk, the first thing I do is make a list. I write down everything I know I need to complete that day at work and cross them off as each gets done. It’s a visually organized and satisfying way to accomplish goals. There’s just something so riveting about crossing the items off your list one by one. I might sound like a total loser but don’t make fun until you try it. I have a feeling you’ll develop a similar reaction and obsession with making lists.

Not only do I constantly create lists for myself, but I’m an avid Google calendar user as well. This helps me place all my meetings and appointments on alerts so I can’t forget about them and have a panic attack when I’m totally unprepared. Preparation is the key to success, especially in the workplace.

Thanks to a couple of my fellow Twitter followers, I was given some pretty awesome suggestions for planners and organizers. If you want to make organizing fun, try purchasing some cute and festive stationary for inspiration. Rifle Paper Co, Bando and Erin Condren are all fabulous stationary stores to try.

2. Prioritize Realistically 

img_0469A big part of getting your life back on track involves creating realistic approaches. I’ve always been one to try and take on more than I can handle. In hindsight, I realized I needed to try and stop being Wonder Woman all the time and actually set goals I can successfully achieve. Going to work, meeting up with a friend for drinks, hitting the gym and writing 3 blogs is just ridiculous to consider doing all in one day. I learned to spread out my activities throughout the week so that it allows me to do them stress-free and more importantly, that I get enough sleep at night.

Prioritizing can be done so by using helpful tools like a whiteboard. I purchased one to place in my room and use it to organize all my short & long-term goals. Whether it be for just a weekend or something I plan to do months from now. I use different colors to separate what I plan do now and what will wait until later. Keeping realistic priorities  that you want to accomplish will be beneficial to your view on life and overall health. You just have to be okay with doing a little at a time.

3. Always Find Motivation 

img_0438In order to successfully get back on track and stay there, you must always have something to keep going for. Whether it’s a financial goal, a skill set, a new position or plans to travel, continuously find things that inspire you. Because the only reason we work our asses off everyday is to achieve some sort of goal that means more to us anyway.

I find my motivation by organizing, prioritizing and enjoying life as best I can. I read, travel, go to the movies, explore museums, talk to strangers on the streets of NY and put myself out there as much as possible. There may be hand-made manuals, lists and bullet points to help me get through the days, but there certainly isn’t a manual to life. Whatever is important to you, may not be so appealing to someone else but that’s why life is so great. You define what it is on your own and keep going no matter what. Anything goes.