How to rediscover your backyard

As the summer winds down, some of us still have not been able to take a vacation. While for some, it might be a question of schedule; for most of us, it is usually due to financial reasons. Usually, when planning a vacation, the biggest expenses go to the transportation (plane ticket or car rental) and the lodging. We are so focused on leaving town for vacation that some of us probably have no clue about the many touristic places located right in our own backyard! So, if you have been putting off a vacation due to financial reasons, consider the following options:
Center for performing arts – how many people visit New York and have a Broadway play on their list? While your local performing arts center may not feature some of the A list names you may see on Broadway, you will still be able to catch some of the most famous acts playing there as many of these shows are always on tour. While you might not catch Hollywood’s heartthrob, you also will be saving lots of money!
Tour your city/town – depending on where you live, your tourist destinations will vary but one thing is certain: you will find some amazing facts about any city! So whether you live near the water or the mountains, schedule a city/town tour. Start with your local tourist information center for a list of your city/town’s most iconic locations and choose those that appeal to you. If you live in a larger city, contact one of the many companies specialized in city tours and join them.
Enjoy the natural sites – if you live in a coastal city, take a trip to the beach. If you live near mountains, go on a hike. Whichever one applies to you, just be sure to really take the time and enjoy being in nature: listen to the waves, bask in the sun (with proper sun protection!), take a deep breath at the top of a mountain and take in the beautiful view. You will find these sites to be quite relaxing, no matter which one you do, nature is a very effective source of peace.
Participate in events – if you have not done so, create an account with one of many websites promoting various deals throughout your area. They usually list all types of specials in your area ranging from concerts, shows, spa deals, or any special events that may be happening in your area. These are great money savers as they have events that are sometimes as low as $8!
There are still a few weeks left to enjoy summer, so I hope you will be able to take some time to yourself to ensure that you relax and take a break from your daily responsibilities. While you may not leave town as you were probably hoping to do, I guarantee you that you will definitely discover a lot of new places that you did not know existed in your city! Remember, it is imperative to your health (both mental and physical) that you take some time to recharge. Weekends and/or a day off are not enough, you need to take time to remove yourself from your daily activities and give yourself time to appreciate the simple things in life for a little while.


Saying no does not make you a bad person!

Do you continually find yourself in situations that you really should have avoided but felt compelled to say yes? Then you are just like me! So many of us are always afraid of saying no because we feel some kind of obligation to always want to please others even if that means that it will be to our detriment. We always want to be available and sometimes it does not always turn out for the best. While there are many reasons why saying no does not make you a bad person, I’ve selected the following three instances as reasons why sometimes it is good to say no:

  1. You’re spreading yourself thin – if you already have a busy schedule, saying yes when you should be saying no would cause for you to spread yourself thin and ultimately every aspect in your life will suffer including this task that you felt obligated to take on! In a work environment, this can be very serious and may even cause for your leadership team to view you in a negative light. In a personal setting, you risk to create tension between you and your loved ones if said task is not completed to the level expected.
  2. You are in over your head – whether professional or personal, you should never take on a task that you know that you are clearly not qualified to complete. There could be so many repercussions and professionally this can even lead to negative reviews and in some cases, your termination. Be true to yourself and know your limits, no one has the answer to everything and can do all things; so if you are really interested in helping, maybe you can volunteer to help find someone best suited to complete the task and offer your assistance to that person.
  3. You are taking time out of your personal time – yes, you read it right! Everyone deserves to have some type out of the week (preferably out of the day) slated just for you. Whether you decide to rest and catch on your sleep, or simply indulge in your favorite activity such as cooking, reading, or Netflix binge watching: it’s your time! Depriving yourself of this special time is cutting out some relaxation time for your mind and body to reset. While others may not understand it, don’t allow yourself to be guilted into doing something when you already had planned to spend that time on you.

No matter the reason, most of the time when we say no, it is not out of contempt. There is usually a reason and you are not obligated to state your reason, as that usually gives the other person an opening to try to convince you and thus make the situation increasingly uncomfortable. Keep in mind that you reserve the right to decline to participate in any activity/event at any time, provided it is an option. Life is about choices, and you should not let others make you feel bad for exercising that right. While it is your right to decline, be sure that you are doing so in a polite and respectful manner because ultimately, it is usually the delivery of your response that earns you the negative labels.



Make your pantry practical for your on the go lifestyle!

Are you always on the go? If you are a working adult or even a college student, then your answer is most likely yes! While we try to balance our busy schedules, the first thing that we tend to cross out of our list is cooking. However, after about a week, not only will your wallet start to really take a hit but your waistline will soon follow. So over the past year, I’ve started to make changes to how I do my grocery shopping to incorporate quick ingredients that will make creating a meal faster. Today, we have to learn to make everything in our lives practical and the kitchen pantry is possibly one of the most important areas we can tailor to our lifestyles.  Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, having these ingredients will shorten your time in the kitchen and allow for you to focus on other tasks:

  • Eggs – this great source of protein pretty much is a must staple in any refrigerator! Whether boiled or fried, eggs do not take long to make and will help you stay full.
  • Pasta – whether it is spaghetti or macaroni, pasta does not take long to cook and is filling. If you are watching your weight, switch to whole wheat pasta or even a quinoa or brown rice pasta.
  • Cereal – a cereal that is high in fiber is not only rich in nutrients and filling but is probably the quickest meal you can get.
  • Potatoes – cut into cubes, sprinkle some salt and seasonings, place it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes and you have a great accompaniment for your protein for dinner. For a healthier version, use sweet potatoes.
  • Milk – a great source of calcium, milk will come in handy for eating cereal or making a quick smoothie. If you have lactose intolerance or prefer an alternative, rice, almond, or soy milk are also great to have in stock and last longer.
  • Salad – it will not require you to use the stove and if it is already in a bag, you will simply need a bowl to enjoy. Add in a protein to help make it a more hearty meal.
  • Seafood – shrimp and fish are my favorites! Not only are they great sources of protein but neither take a long time to cook or to season. Just be sure to take it out of the freezer in the morning so it may defrost and be ready to cook upon your return home.
  • Fruits – they will keep you healthier, are great as snacks and when frozen can be blended into a smoothie. Add some dry oats in the smoothie for more consistency.
  • Nut butters – peanut, cashew, or almond, any of these nut butters will not only provide you with a great source of protein (especially if you do not eat meat) but they are also filling and can be used as dipping for some of your fruits or vegetables.

There are tons of other ingredients that you can keep in your kitchen that will help you reduce your time preparing meals but the above are suggestions based on what I keep in my kitchen and I hope they will give you an idea of what to keep in your kitchen to help make planning your meals a little less stressful.

Stay healthy!


Let it Go!

If you own any entertainment devices, you know the song “let it go” was the unofficial theme song of 2014! While Elsa speaks of letting go in a different manner, I just wanted to share my thoughts on learning to let it go in regards to relationships that may be crippling your life. Whether it is personal or professional, romantic or platonic, many of us struggle with learning to let go. I’m referring to the relationships that have intoxicated your life and even when you know you want to stop feeling this way, you have yet to muster the courage to say enough and walk away from them. If you are like me, they affect every aspect of your life including your mood, your attitude, and completely fill you with negativity that ultimately take your joy away and prevent you from living your glam life! All the while, the culprit is living his/her life totally unaffected while you are working on giving yourself a coronary!
This is particularly hard in our personal relationships as they are usually marked by many memories and were formed many years ago. There is a sense of guilt that takes over our minds for even thinking of ending the relationship even when we know that removing it would mean peace of mind. Instead, we have conditioned our minds and bodies to deal with the stress rather than to take action. Women do this best as we are nurturers by nature and tend to always extend the courtesy of understanding others when they deserve to be cut out of our lives. Through many deep conversations with a few of my girlfriends, I’ve recently compiled the following tips to help me overcome my “fear” of letting go and I hope you will find them useful:
– Take some time to think about the problem, analyze and talk it out with a trusted friend if needed – don’t just give it a passing thought, really think it through. If it was an issue with a mere acquaintance, you would have quickly decided to either cut them loose or it simply would not have mattered. Therefore, out of respect for the length of the relationship, I advise you take sufficient time to reflect on the relationship and its issues. If you have someone close to you with whom you can share details, talk it out and listen to their feedback.
– Once you have thoroughly analyzed the issue, make a decision – analyzing an issue with no solution resolves nothing. So once you have considered all of the options, choose wisely the one that you feel best meets your needs and will have the most positive effect on your quality of life.
– Take action! – this will be the hardest part of this exercise however your life will change for the better once that decision is made! There is something liberating about making a conscientious decision and the way you feel once you’ve implemented it in your life! If you reflected long and hard prior to coming to your decision, once you take action, you will feel like you removed a major burden off of your shoulders.
Remember, these tips are to help you declutter your mental space as I strongly believe that your mental state will definitely affect your outlook on everything around you including how you take care of yourself physically. It will slow you down and prevent you from reaching your full potential. In no way should any of these decisions be made out of malice but rather in a hope to better your life. So, keep your eyes on your main goal and anything negative that is standing in your way of reaching that dream: LET IT GO! And if you need some help to motivate you, I suggest that you simply put on that catchy tune and sing along with Elsa, it will surely put a smile on your face and give you a start!

Tomorrow is not promised, so enjoy today and make it your best!

Scheduling your time

It is easy to say you will keep a schedule, however, I’ve come to realize that action a lot of time does not follow that intention. For many of us, it is not due to a lack of interest but rather due to busyness! When you are running around and trying to keep up with your daily agenda, it usually slips out of your mind to write your schedule down, and by the end of the year, those planners are still empty.

I used to invest in planners every year! I’m a girly girl and would take my time to select my planners: retro style, beaches, flowers, you name it, I’ve probably had it! However, by the end of the year, I would look back and realize that more than half of the pages were still empty and that I would have been better off using that money otherwise. I was left with an out of date empty planner and still in need of a better way to organize my time. Since I became increasingly more reliant on my smartphone, I figured I’d put the apps in there to good use. It’s simple to say to use your phone as your planner but you must also know which app to use and when.  So these are the ones I used and how:

Calendar App  – This is my to go app where I schedule reoccurring events such as appointments, meals (yes if you tend to forget about eating when you’re busy like I do, you NEED to!), and major life events such as birthdays, anniversaries etc… Most phone calendars should be able to sync with your email calendars, so be sure to sync all calendars regularly so that you don’t miss an important event. The calendar app will give you the option of setting reminders which I strongly encourage. In addition to reminders, you are able to set a start and end date for these appointments on your calendar, invite others via email, include an address and notes related to the event.

Reminder App –  This app I use for quick reminders that are not part of your regular schedule such as a quick run to the post office, running a quick errand during lunch time… Anything that usually becomes part of your schedule at the last minute. These are always the ones that we forget about! The new iOS softwares come with this app built in and it allows you to set the priority level, an alarm, and even set a location where it can remind you of the task.

Shopping List – There are various apps out there available to help you make a quick shopping list for the house. They are user friendly and typically include preloaded items which makes the job much quicker for you. As you go through your day, it is a quick way to add anything to your list.

Remember, technology is always evolving, be sure to put it to good use and let it make your life a little easier. I hope these quick tips will help you manage your schedule a little easier. Feel free to leave some tips that you use in the comment section below.



Making the best out of a busy schedule!

We all have busy lives nowadays: work, house chores, and many other responsibilities! And if you live in a metropolitan area, traffic can add an extra 2 hours each day to your schedule! Therefore, by the time you reach home, all you feel that you have the energy for is a quick bite to eat, a glass of wine and your favorite shows! While it is the most appealing route, you can’t simply drink away the responsibilities as I so often wish I could!

As I have had to balance work, life, studies throughout my adulthood, I’ve found it very helpful to follow some of the following tips that I’d like to share with you below. Unfortunately they don’t make the chores disappear but they definitely make it possible to enjoy that glass of wine!

Tip #1 – Keep a schedule!

Yes, it might sound tedious however, keeping a schedule will help you divide and conquer. Assign specific tasks to specific days. For example, make Thursdays laundry day, Friday evenings grocery day or Sunday afternoon meal prep day.

Tip #2 – Keep healthy and quick meal options

Some of my favorite items to keep in the kitchen are crackers, tuna, salami, cheese, hummus, eggs, bagged salad, and pita bread. These items give me access to a quick healthy meal. On days that I don’t return home until the sun is setting, these become main ingredients on my dinner plate whether it is a tuna salad with crackers and cheese or a salad and some boiled eggs. Make sure that the options that you keep are as natural as possible and will enable you to have a sustainable meal within fifteen minutes or less.

Tip #3 – Put technology to good use!

My phone has become my personal assistant. With everything going on in the day, sometimes I forget to eat! Smartphones are now the norm and even though most of us have one now, very few of us are using them to their potential! With my phone, I not only stay in touch with my friends and family, I keep track of what I eat and my exercise routines, I access my financial reports and bills (be sure to always have a secure passcode and NEVER share your access), I create my grocery list, access my Starbucks card, and keep up with the news.

Tip #4 – Save some time for you!

I tend to have the tendency to put myself on the back burner in the midst of my every day hectic life and unfortunately, it took fallin ill a couple of times for me to finally register that if I am not healthy, I will not be able to carry on my responsibilities. So now I create down time for myself on a weekly basis. The actual day varies by week depending on what I have going on but I make sure to take that time. Whether it is to enjoy a movie or dinner with friends, or catch up on hours of DVR, I keep a few hours one day a week to totally take a step back and simply enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

I hope that you will take these tips into consideration, make them into your own and start making the best out of your busy schedule!

Life is short, so remember to keep the positivity and live it to the fullest!