Introducing: No Stress November

funny-no-shave-november-no-job-decemberHey readers! Can you believe it’s practically November? In the past month, we’ve experienced a major hurricane, countless Halloween parties, and the devastating aftermath of the Brangelina split — and yet somehow, it feels like October went by in a flash.

November tends to be one of my busiest months of the year at work and in school, with my calendar filling up with events and deadlines well before the month even begins. This year, to stay sane at an admittedly crazy time, I’m implementing No Stress November, a 30-day wellness challenge designed to decompress for a few minutes each day. I invite you to join me!

Below is my list of 30 items to complete throughout the 30 days of November. The rule is to do at least one of these things per day (with repeats allowed!), and you are welcome to customize the list to meet your own needs. Planning to tag along? Use the hashtag #NoStressNovember on social media and share what you’re up to! 🙂

Below is my list for the No Stress November challenge. Feel free to use all of these or switch them up based on your personal preferences. I’ll check in throughout the month with my own progress and reflections. Enjoy!

  1. Go for a 30-minute walk outside.
  2. Cook a meal you’ve never made before.
  3. Color in an adult coloring book.
  4. Donate your time to community service.
  5. Get your hair professionally done.
  6. Spend 30 minutes meditating.
  7. Take a full day away from social media.
  8. Lay out by the pool.
  9. Buy yourself fresh flowers.
  10. Test out a new makeup tutorial.
  11. Practice 30 minutes of yoga.
  12. Visit a place you have never been before.
  13. Go out for brunch.
  14. Perform a random act of kindness.
  15. Clean out your purse/briefcase.
  16. Lift weights.
  17. Write a love letter (or kind note) to yourself.
  18. Watch a documentary or TED Talk.
  19. Take extra time to pamper yourself.
  20. Write down 50 things you are thankful for.
  21. Connect with an old friend.
  22. De-clutter an area of your home.
  23. Make a list of places to visit in the next five years.
  24. Dedicate 30 minutes to writing.
  25. Create a fun playlist.
  26. Revamp your monthly budget.
  27. Build something with LEGOs.
  28. Watch stand-up comedy.
  29. Use essential oils.
  30. Spend the day with family.

Participating with me? Let me know in the comments section below, and share your progress on social media with the hashtag #NoStressNovember!

All Or Nothing Day: Creating A Life You Love

doallthingswithlove

Timing is a fickle thing. It is rarely convenient, and yet it controls so many of the decisions we make in life. We talk about timing when we tell our friends why we’re going to have to put off travel plans for another year. We blame timing when we think about why things didn’t work out with our exes. The trouble is this: No matter what path we choose, no matter how stressful life may be, time continues to move forward — regardless of how we choose to spend it.

I’m thinking about timing a lot today because it happens to be All Or Nothing Day, a day that is dedicated to giving your all and celebrating your passion for life. I first learned about this day from Heather Von St. James, a truly inspirational woman who survived a harrowing cancer diagnosis and has dedicated her life to raising mesothelioma awareness and educating others on the dangers of asbestos. Heather received her diagnosis soon after giving birth to her daughter, and after a difficult battle with the disease, has survived cancer-free for ten years. (You can read more of her story here!) I was so inspired by Heather’s journey and the meaning that All Or Nothing Day holds for her, and her story helped to shape my own perspective.

all or nothing dayWhen we turn down an opportunity that challenges us, it is so tempting for us to blame timing and other external factors. Deep down, we tell ourselves we have all the time in the world to do the things we hope to accomplish someday, without realizing that we could lose everything in the blink of an eye. We take a lot of things for granted, including the fact that we can always pursue our dreams next year.

In Jen Sincero’s book, You Are A Badass, she writes:

“When it comes to the creatures you love and the things you love and the life you love, what on earth could possibly be more important than soaking them up right now while you still have the opportunity?”

This line rings especially true for me, having recently experienced a loss in my family, and as someone who also got out of an unhealthy relationship not too long ago, I know how important it is to make time for the things and people that do bring you happiness and love.

As Sincero says, “If it’s something you want to do, don’t wait until you’re less busy or richer or ‘ready’ or twenty pounds lighter. Start right now. You’ll never be this young again.”

To me, that’s what the spirit of All Or Nothing Day is all about: taking charge of your life and creating a world that you love with the people (and animals!) that you love. If any of you who are reading this are looking for a sign that it’s time to move forward — in whatever way makes sense to you — please consider this your sign. Tell someone that you love them. Apply for that internship in London. Take that improv class that you’ve always been curious about. End the relationship that is making you unhappy. Do something, because life is too short not to.

 

Reigniting The Spark: How To Get Your Health Goals Back On Track

Reigniting The Spark: How To Get Your Health Goals Back on TrackFor many of us, the beginning of a diet program can often feel like the beginning of a relationship. We’re excited to embark on something new, enthusiastic about the changes in our lives, and looking forward to the possibilities ahead. Of course, after that honeymoon period runs its course, sometimes it can be difficult to maintain that same level of enthusiasm toward the program, as we become complacent or begin to recognize the uncomfortable moments more often than we used to.

I began experimenting with a paleo lifestyle back in 2014 by completing my first Whole30, and since then, the program has played a significant role in my health and wellness. However, I sometimes struggle with motivation and consistency, and find my health journey to be a work in progress. The more that I talk to others in the Whole30 community, the more that I learn that a second, third, or fourth Whole30 can often be much harder than the first, because many of us do have difficulty staying on track even after we’ve experienced positive results.

Sounds a little counter-intuitive, right? Luckily, I’ve dedicated the better part of 2016 thus far to really focusing on ways to re-motivate ourselves once the magic wears off. Read below for my tips on keeping up with your program and remaining empowered even after the honeymoon period is over! 🙂

Reigniting The Spark: How To Get Your Health Goals On Track

How To Get Your Health Goals Back On Track1. Dedicate time for meal prep.
Let’s face it — eating healthy can be time-consuming! You’re preparing most of your own meals from scratch, avoiding a lot of the quick but nutrient-deficient shortcuts a lot of us fall victim to. Because of this, it can be so easy to give up after a long day of work and other responsibilities, and order takeout instead. An easy way to save time and take out a lot of the guesswork is to create a meal plan ahead of time and do a lot of the prep work early. For me, Sundays are the perfect day to decide what I’m going to eat each day (and yes, I do incorporate my social outings into that plan), buy the appropriate foods at the grocery store, and begin prepping those foods.

So what does “meal prep” mean to me? Typically, I’ll put on some vintage Keeping Up With The Kardashians (or another show that entertains me but doesn’t require too much concentration), and set aside an hour or two to chop up veggies for dishes I’ll eat throughout the week, wash fruit for easy grab-and-go access, and hard-boil some eggs to have a convenient protein source available at any time. Your meal prep can be as elaborate as you choose — some like to prepare all of their meals to reheat, and that works too! For me, having my veggies pre-washed and pre-chopped makes it easy to just throw them on the stove or in the oven later in the week, and saves me a ton of time!

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2. Make things exciting in the kitchen.
Browse Pinterest for cool recipes you can try (check mine out here for inspiration!), or invest in a new kitchen gadget you look forward to using. Find ways to spice things up in the kitchen — literally! When I started to grow sick of scrambled eggs, I started adding cumin and turmeric for a bold new flavor profile. When I’ve enjoyed a new ethnic dish and wanted to make a healthier version of it at home, I’ve often searched “lightened up __” or “paleo ___” to expand my culinary horizons. Figure out those routine favorites that you can make quickly and regularly, but continue to branch out so that things don’t become too stale. Why not aim to try one new recipe each week?

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How To Get Your Health Goals Back On Track3. Incorporate positive mantras into your program.
I’ve struggled with body image issues for as long as I can remember.  Since I was in middle school, I always associated health and weight loss goals as something negative, something to be ashamed of, instead of as a way to improve your overall well-being. A few months ago, I decided to flip the switch on that mindset by giving myself motivational notes to wake up to each morning. These quotes and messages give me a positive affirmation to focus on throughout the day, and remind me of how far I’ve come. The notes were so successful for me that they even went viral on the Whole30 Instagram page! 🙂 I try to create new words of encouragement for myself each and every month.

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4. Hide the scale.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve let that little number either make or break your whole day. One of the rules of the Whole30 program is to not weigh yourself for the entire 30 days, but over the years, this was the rule I always broke. I found that if I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, then even if I felt other positive changes from my diet (better skin, more energy, etc.), I often gave up halfway through the month. This January, I finally stowed the scale away in my guest room (out of sight, out of mind) and fully avoided it for the entire month. Taking a break from weighing myself multiple times per day was extremely helpful for me and showed me just how unhealthy my relationship with the scale truly was. If you consider yourself overly dependent on the scale, I challenge you to hide it for a month!

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5. Find accountability partners.
Use social media or find people in your real life with whom you can be accountable! I belong to a few private groups on Facebook, some dedicated to Whole30 and some more focused on clean eating as it differs by individual, and having a strong support system makes it that much easier to stay on track. Whether you join one of those private groups or simply find a gym buddy to keep you on your toes, find others who are just as health-focused and turn to each other!

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What are your tips for staying motivated? Share yours in the comments section below!

Be My Valentine: A Letter to My Younger Self

Strange and Unintentionally Funny Vintage Valentine's Day Cards  (1)February 14th lingers just around the corner, but for the first time in five years, I will be single on Valentine’s Day. For some, the thought of not being in a relationship at this time of the year can be downright depressing — and for a long time, this held true for me as well. After all, for melodramatic teenage Val, every year that a boy didn’t send a carnation to me in English class practically felt like a year wasted! It’s interesting to see how much our perspectives can change over the years. This post is a love letter to myself and to everyone else out there who is still searching. 🙂

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Dear Younger Me,

I know that not having a boyfriend feels like the end of the world, especially at this time of the year. I also know that you won’t believe me when I tell you it’s not. You have a lot of exciting opportunities in your life already (and I wish I could tell you about all the adventures you are going to embark on in the not-so-distant future!), but you still base a large chunk of your self-worth on your relationship status. For that, I’m truly sorry.

Because of that, you aren’t particularly picky right now. In fact, you would likely allow someone to treat you poorly 80% of the time if you had their love and positive attention for 20% of the time. I know that sounds harsh, but over the next few years, you will ignore a lot of red flags and accept some pretty harmful behavior in order to avoid being alone. You will receive flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but the person who gave them to you won’t necessarily be that best friend and support system you need and deserve.

By getting into a relationship mainly for the sake of being in a relationship, you stop trusting your inner voice and start accepting things that you should know in your heart are not okay. By muddling through something that doesn’t make you happy, you end up breaking your own heart and putting a strain on other close relationships in your life.

I wish I could shield you from some of the bad decisions I know you’ll make over the next few years, but I truly believe that what you’ll learn from them will only make you stronger and more resilient. Still, that knowledge doesn’t make a toxic relationship any less toxic, and knowing what I know now doesn’t mean I can just turn back time.

I’m writing to you at 25 now, and (spoiler alert!) we’re single again. Valentine’s Day is in just four days, and the beautiful flowers in my kitchen are not from a secret admirer; they were just a gift I bought myself a few days ago. I wouldn’t mind being in a relationship again, but now that I have a clearer picture of what I want, I’m not willing to settle for less than I deserve. I’m not spending Valentine’s Day alone — I’m spending the long weekend with loved ones, and I couldn’t be more excited. I do things because I want to do them, not to earn someone else’s approval. I spend more time creating fun memories with old friends and cultivating relationships with new ones.

I am technically alone on Valentine’s Day, but I’m not lonely. I know in my heart that another relationship will come along in the future, and in my quest for true happiness, that relationship is just one part of the equation. Besides, who knows what our future self will be writing to us in a few years? 🙂

For now, please be kind to yourself and remember that no situation is permanent. Enjoy your single time, learn from the rocky relationships, and appreciate the good times. Don’t let your friendships fall to the wayside. Remember that you deserve a lot better than you often allow yourself, and never allow fear to strand you in a harmful situation with no way out.

All my love,

Valerie

Link Love Wednesday: Pineapple Edition

GarlandI don’t know about you, but this Wednesday really felt like a Wednesday. Did anyone else feel the drag of Hump Day today? Life has been rather busy lately — mostly good things — and despite my sleep deprivation and sudden aversion to exercise, I’m looking forward to the opportunities to come. What have you been up to in the last week?

Wind down from a long week with this week’s fabulous link love, and as always, share your own favorite recent finds in the comments section below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • The show Quantico on ABC. It’s addictive! Who else is watching?
  • Devonta Freeman, running back for the Atlanta Falcons. I picked him up on a waiver for Fantasy Football and played him for the first time last week. He surpassed 30 Fantasy points that week and I was not disappointed!
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. It’s a great take on dating patterns in today’s generation and incredibly eye opening.
  • This incredibly cool tank top I bought for Halloween. I’ve been secretly living in this shirt. (Shhhh.)
  • Colbie Caillat’s cover of The Script’s song, Breakeven. I think I like it better than the original!
  • Scream Queens on FOX. It’s the perfect dark comedy and filled with familiar faces.

What are you loving this week? Share in the comments section below!

From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know For a Successful Freshman Year

From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearIt’s hard to believe that just six years ago, I was packing up my childhood bedroom and moving to Orlando for college. At times, I still picture myself as that awkward 18-year-old girl who was so excited to take those first few steps toward adulthood. In many ways, mine was the traditional college experience: four years of changing majors, making friends, hosting theme parties, interning around town, cramming for finals, dating the wrong guys and joining more clubs than a sane person should. My undergraduate years still hold some of my favorite memories, and taught me more about myself than I ever cared to know.

For many of you, those first few days of freshman year are just around the corner, and you’re probably having a lot of mixed feelings. Whether you’re nervous, enthusiastic or somewhere in between, this blog will guide you through some of the most important aspects of your college experience, from A to Z.

A – Appearance
As superficial as it may sound, it’s important to put an effort into your appearance! Your university’s dress code may technically allow you to roll into your lecture hall in pajamas… but that doesn’t mean you should. The way you dress plays a big role in the first impression you give off in class, among new friends and in front of professors and potential employers.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearB – Books
Unless your professor requires some special edition that isn’t offered elsewhere, don’t buy your books at the school bookstore. Rent them through third-party vendors, visit local used bookstores or buy your books online. It will save you a ton of money in the long run!

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C – Choosing a Major
Don’t worry if you don’t have it figured out right now. Take some time to enjoy your general education classes and to take an introductory course that interests you. For more tips on how to choose the right major for you, click here.

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D – Dorm Life
This may be your first time sharing a bedroom or bathroom with someone, so make sure you talk to your new roommate(s) about your expectations and responsibilities. A new dorm room is also the perfect excuse to decorate, so have fun personalizing your new home!

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E – Extra Credit
If your professor offers extra credit, always do it. You might not think you need it, but when your grade is dangling at an 89 at the end of the semester and you need that extra point, you’ll thank yourself.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearF – Friends
Open yourself up to the possibility, and you might meet your best friend in college. Get involved, talk to people in your classes and in the dorms, say yes to social outings and don’t be afraid to step out of your bubble.

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G – Greek Life
Rushing a fraternity or a sorority can be a great way to make an overwhelmingly big university a whole lot smaller. If the idea of Greek sounds interesting, talk to older friends who have gone through the process and decide if it’s right for you!

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H – Health
Above all, you must prioritize your health. Avoid the typical Freshman 15 weight gain with these helpful pointers, and remember to take care of yourself when illness strikes. Utilize the gym, health center, counseling facilities and other campus resources to maintain your physical and mental health. Because college can be a stressful time for many, staying healthy and happy is often at the bottom of our lists.

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I – Independence
If you are living in a dorm room or away from home, college is a great opportunity to test out your newfound independence. It will be fun to make more of your own decisions and to not have a curfew, but it will also teach you the importance of finding a balance.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearJ – Joining Clubs
Joining clubs on campus will allow you to meet likeminded people, have a good time and possibly even develop yourself professionally. It’s a great way to connect with your university and find leadership opportunities early on. Find organizations that interest you and attend the info sessions – you have nothing to lose!

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K – Kindness
This should go without saying, but remember to treat others with kindness. You’ll meet people whose lifestyles, beliefs and upbringings are radically different from yours, so it is important to be openminded and still respect others regardless of your differences.

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L – Learning For Learning’s Sake
You’ll get so wrapped up in prerequisites and major classes that you might forget that college is, among other things, a place to learn. Take a few elective classes in areas that interest you regardless of what requirements they fulfill. Enjoy the act of learning.

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M – Mentors
Find an older student, a community member or a professor who inspires you, and turn to that person as a mentor. This is a great way to start building your network, and you’ll also have someone to ask for advice on classes, internships and more. If you don’t know where to start, see if your school offers any organized mentorship programs to pair you with someone!

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearN – Networking
I cannot stress the importance of networking enough! It may sound terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be. Get to know people every chance you get. You never know who will be able to help you out in the future — or whom you’ll be able to help. Networking helped me land a job right out of college! Read more about my experience here.

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O – Office Hours
Your professors are required to hold office hours, so attend them. They can be a great resource when the class material just isn’t clicking, and it’s always an added bonus for the professor to put a face to your name.

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P – Partying
Enjoy having a social life, but learn to do so responsibly. Remember why you came to college in the first place.

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Q – Quiet Space
Find your quiet space on campus for when you need to study or simply get away. Whether it’s the top floor of the library or a secluded corner of a campus garden, find that quiet space and use it when you need it.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearR – Romance
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who meets your soulmate on the quad that first week of school, you’ll probably have your share of good and bad relationships in college, and that’s okayFrom every “failed” relationship, you’ll learn something – or at the very least, you’ll have a good story to tell. (My exes had better beware of my memoir! 🙂 ) Enjoy the ride.

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S – School Spirit
Soak it up! Wear your university colors, attend sporting events and be proud of the institution you attend. Don’t pretend you’re “too cool” for it. The time will eventually pass and you’ll wish you’d enjoyed yourself more.

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T – Time Management
Find an organizational style that fits you, and use it. Having strong time management skills will allow you to balance classwork, extracurriculars, work and a social life. The more you hone these skills now, the better prepared you will be for the future!

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U – Unique Opportunities
In college, the world is your oyster. If an opportunity sounds too good to pass up, take it! Study abroad for a semester. Volunteer in another city for an alternative spring break. Run for student government. Take advantage of these opportunities while you’re still in school, as they might never come back around once you graduate.

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V – Values
Be true to yourself. Know what is important to you, and keep that close to your heart as you make decisions in college. Don’t let others push you into something that makes you uncomfortable or puts you in danger.

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From A to Z: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Freshman YearW – Wallet
Learn how to budget and take care of your finances. Learn to live within your means. Your money habits now will shape the way you spend and save long after you graduate.

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X – eXams
The dreaded exams will pop up every semester at least once, so it’s important to prepare for them. For more on how to survive your final exams, check out my article on Career Camel.

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Y – You Time
Take time for yourself. College can be a very social environment, and I encourage you to take advantage of that, but it’s always good to spend some time alone without worrying about others. “Treat yo self” to a night in every now and then, or focus on putting together that DIY Pinterest project you’ve had your eye on. Making time for yourself will help you maintain your sanity when life gets stressful.

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Z – Zero Tolerance
Love yourself enough not to tolerate negative treatment. Have zero tolerance for the people or situations that make you feel lesser than. If a friendship or relationship is making you miserable, leave. If you dread being part of a certain organization, quit. Life is too short to waste on people who treat you like crap.

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Best of luck to all of those starting college this fall! Readers, what are your tips for incoming freshmen?

The Problem with “Body Positivity” in Today’s Culture

d16388d8a9f6aee3e184b4ebe926e62cIn an age when anything on social media can and will go viral, celebrities and non-celebrities alike are turning to the Internet to share their messages of body positivity and acceptance. With all of the cyber-bullying out there, it’s great to see people using this platform for something good! However, the messages we see online (and in our media) about beauty and body image can be a little conflicting and sometimes more exclusionary than we think.

2015 has been a big year for the the makeup-free selfie craze — and truth be told, I’m not a fan. Let me clarify: I believe we should all have the right to take as many selfies as we want, with or without makeup (until, of course, our friends stop following us on social media for our liberal use of the hashtag #SelfieQueen… sorry, guys!). 🙂 Additionally, we all have the right to choose whether or not to wear makeup when we are in class, out for dinner, or even at the gym. However, we should do it because we feel like it… not because we are trying to make a particular statement about our media’s standards on beauty.

A big reason why I don’t buy into the makeup-free selfie craze is because it can be just as superficial as anything else, and a lot of the time, our online reactions to a celebrity’s photo are very different from our in-person reactions to a makeup-free friend or coworker. When Tyra Banks recently posted a photo of herself without makeup, people applauded her for showing the world her “real” self and demonstrating true body positivity. Meanwhile, when I forget to put on eyeliner, people tell me I look exhausted. 😦

b65f127c604ae9d71f6c6c03f5747923e09b934e84aa9625869487b28a215167Makeup or no makeup, the amount of cosmetics you invest in does not determine how real you are or what your value to society truly is. As women, we are often told to wear makeup, but not too much, and don’t let the guys know you’re wearing it! We should go for that natural look that 9 out of 10 men surveyed by Cosmo claim to like, and forgo the red lipstick even if we personally prefer it. Wearing “too much” makeup (as determined by your audience) means you’re only focused on the surface level and you aren’t true to yourself. It probably also means that you have little to no self esteem and that you are too worried about societal beauty standards. And God forbid you wear any makeup when you work out!

It is important to defend a woman’s decision not to wear makeup, and to instead value her for the light she brings into the world. However, it is just as important to defend a woman’s right to wear makeup, get her hair done or have cosmetic surgery without immediately dismissing her as superficial and sad. As women, we can make body positive statements by standing up for one another, treating each other with kindness, and  recognizing that our value is not determined by our looks.

Wear makeup because you want to wear makeup. Skip the makeup if it’s not your thing. Realize that everyone’s preferences on what is aesthetically pleasing can differ dramatically, so don’t hold others to your own.

What I Really Mean When I Say “I’m Fine”

I-Want-Someone-To-Look-Me-In-The-Eyes-300x270We’ve all seen those Tumblr images about the girl who says she’s “fine.” You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that say things like “When I say ‘I’m fine,’ I want someone to hold me close and tell me, ‘No you’re not.’” The ones that confess that any time we tell others we are okay, we are clearly lying, because how can we ever truly be okay?

I’ve never been a fan of these quotes because they’ve really popularized a culture of not saying what we mean. In the past, when I have told others I am “fine” after a stressful event, it genuinely meant “I’m fine” – or, at the very worst, “I’d rather not talk about it, so let’s leave it alone.” It has never meant “I am hanging on by a single thread and I am dying for you to probe for more information.” And yet, it seems that whenever I say something is “fine” or “okay,” people interpret it as a walking Tumblr meme, with the faceless girl crying into her eclectic sweater.

This extends into those viral dating articles about “what she really means when she says ____.” In today’s culture, I would expect these sweeping generalizations from a men’s magazine (no offense, guys!), but women’s magazines and lifestyle websites are just as guilty of these articles. Whenever I’ve made the mistake of using the word “fine,” guys I’ve dated have even said, “I know you’re not fine, because no girl ever actually says that and means it.” How depressing is that? Forget all of the other overanalyzing that both sexes do when it comes to decoding the other one’s text messages. (Having said that, if anyone ever types “K.” in a text message, you know that person is pissed off.)

tumblr_m954r2KFeZ1qfqg3uo1_500It’s true that all of us have a lot going on underneath the surface. There are plenty of things we don’t know about other people and their struggles, insecurities and relationships. Because of this, we should treat everyone with the kindness and understanding we would wish to receive from others. If we suspect that a friend is going through something difficult (even though she claims to be fine), we can say, “If you need to talk about anything, I’m here,” but we shouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that everyone who doesn’t say “I FEEL AWESOME!” is crying on the inside.

Tone is an important thing to consider when conversing with friends. Obviously, there are instances where the person sounds sarcastic or truly dejected, but please take those instances on a case-by-case basis and don’t automatically assume that everyone is feeling completely awful or that everyone wants to talk about their emotions. For once, let’s take what others say at face value, and assume they are not lying to us about their innermost feelings. Many times, they are not.

Link Love Wednesday: Dark Lord Funk

maxresdefaultHi everyone! As always,  I hope you are having a wonderful week. 🙂 Unfortunately for me, since last week’s Link Love, I have been a little under the weather with pharyngitis and laryngitis. When I do talk, I sound like a 13-year-old boy whose voice is finally starting to change! Thankfully, between cups of tea and bowls of hot soup, I have been relatively productive, going through some spring cleaning, publishing a few guest articles, and (of course) collecting our latest batch of Link Love. The Internet sure is a wonderful place to go when you’re not feeling well enough to do much else!

What are some of your favorite links and articles from the week? Bloggers, did you post anything you’re particularly proud of this week Share in the comments section below! 🙂

The Weekend Five: Ways to “Treat Yo Self”

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be TrueHappy Valentine’s Day, readers! ‘Tis the season for beautiful flower arrangements, complaints about the commercialization of the holiday, and more trips to Godiva than usual. Whether you’ve decked out your home in reds and pinks or you have your doubts about a flying baby with a magical arrow, Valentine’s Day can serve a greater purpose than merely sending us into a panic over dinner reservations. Instead, Valentine’s Day can remind us of the most important relationship we have: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Let’s face it – while this relationship is incredibly vital to all aspects of our lives, we don’t always give it the love and attention it deserves. We speak negatively to ourselves and place undue blame for things that happened years ago. We sacrifice the quality of the relationship – sleep, nutrition, personal relaxation – in order to fulfill our obligations to others. We put less time into ourselves than necessary because we don’t believe that time to be important.

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be TrueNot long ago, I recognized a need for improvement in this area of my life, so as one of my New Year’s Resolutions, I promised to do at least one nice thing for myself (or, as my friends on Parks and Recreation might say, “treat yo self”) every week. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but it requires me to make myself a priority from time to time and to think about what I want.

Moving forward, how do you plan to make yourself a priority? Check out five ideas for ways to “treat yo self,” and sound off in the comments section below with your own personal favorites!

The Weekend Five: Ways to “Treat Yo Self”

1. Take a night to yourself.
Turn off your phone, log off of social media, and relax. From time to time, we all need a night away from the craziness of our daily lives. Instead of fishing for the latest friend drama on Facebook, stay at home and do something you enjoy. Binge-watch your favorite series on Netflix. Read that book you were dying to read that has been gathering dust on your shelf. Take a bath. Do something non-stressful and appreciate the time you have alone. For introverts like myself who have very social careers, it is extremely important to do this in order to feel refreshed and fully functional after a week of networking.

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Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be True2. Buy yourself a fun non-essential.
By this, I don’t mean “max out all your credit cards while buying things you don’t really need in the first place.” (Somehow, I feel that Blu Cantrell’s song Hit Em Up Style is applicable here.) I do mean that occasionally it can be nice to get yourself something within your means for no reason other than the fact that it will bring you joy. Recently, I stumbled into an antiques store with the intention of buying a gift for a friend, but I ended up walking out with a cute necklace for myself as well. Stay within the confines of your budget, of course, but allow yourself to splurge (within reason) and treat yourself to that product or service you really want: an accessory, a manicure, a video game, flowers, etc. (Keep in mind that if your happiness is too closely tied to the things you purchase, you may have a shopping problem.)

3. Go outside.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of soaking up the sun… even for just a few minutes. I love eating lunch outdoors when the weather permits, going for walks on my local nature trail (maybe not as often after encountering my first bear back in November), and bringing a book to the pool while I attempt to become slightly less pale. 🙂 Even when it is raining, I have been known to read outside on the porch behind my screen enclosure. Of course, I am fortunate to live in Florida, where winter is usually pleasant and most of the above activities are possible year-round. However, when the weather is tolerable for you in whichever state you live, I urge you to get outside and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Five Ways to "Treat Yo Self" | So It Must Be True4. Visit a local landmark or free community event.
While I live just north of a very touristy city, run by a certain Mouse, I love to travel slightly off the beaten path to those nearby hidden gems. From historic towns to art museums to local festivals, I enjoy looking for (cheap) adventures that don’t require a boarding pass or precious vacation time. Visit your city’s convention and visitor bureau website for ideas on upcoming events or exhibits, or simply google “free/cheap things to do in ____.” You will be amazed at the cool things you find without breaking the bank.

5. Take on a new project.
Try out one of those DIY creations you have been eyeing on Pinterest. Attempt a recipe for something you’ve never made before. Teach yourself a new song on your instrument of choice. Start a blog! Whatever it is that you want to do, make time for it and have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously – just enjoy yourself!

What are some ways you like to treat yourself? Share your favorites in the comments!