“When you do something beautiful and nobody noticed, don’t be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle, yet most of the audience still sleeps.”
– John Lennon, The Beatles
Greetings to all of my dear friends, family, loyal followers & loving fans. I am sure that I can speak for many when I say that I am feeling disjointed in the wake of this global crisis. I am in complete disbelief that a twenty-first century pandemic has brought the remainder of my college experience to an abrupt halt. This past week was filled with an enormous amount of disappointment and sorrow for many. My heart especially goes out to all of my fellow graduating seniors – high school and college – who were already hanging on to every moment that they had left in this journey. In many ways, it feels like the universe took a hammer to our hour glass. With that being said, I am especially thinking of all the students who had their study abroad experiences pulled out right from under them in a matter of hours. To them I say; the opportunity to experience cultural enrichment and enlightenment will find you once again. This is not the end of the road for you. You will be presented with the opportunity in a new way and it will be a gift because the recurrence will fill you with an extraordinary level of peace and gratitude. Also, to all of the athletes and scholars who worked tremendously hard over the past four years, I feel your pain and I empathize with you. Please know that you will eventually be recognized for your hard work, dedication, and tenacity. You are all so deserving. For now, we all have to cheer ourselves on knowing that we poured ourselves into this chapter of our lives and we will be rewarded tenfold. Many of you may be feeling displaced since our schedules have completely changed, I will not have any classes for two weeks and then will transition to online classes for another to weeks. It’s times like this when I’m thankful that I am able to fall back on my hobbies for a sense of normalcy and stability. Most recently I’ve been avoiding the gym and exercising outside in nature, got back into painting, and caught up on some books and documentaries. If you’re looking for some wholesome activities to fill up the time that you spend inside, I highly recommend the authors and works listed below. P.s. sometimes I feel like I am traveling when I read a good book with a glass of wine in hand.
Let’s find our new peace and happiness together.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Waves by Virginia Wolf
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Derr
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Freakonamics by Steven Levitt & Steven Dubner
How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Robert Fisher and William Ury
Inconspicuous Consumption by Tatiana Schlossberg
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck M.D.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Deweck Ph.D.
The Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer
The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology by Juliana McCarthy
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison
The Truth Will Set You Free But First It Will Piss You Off by Gloria Steinem
Greetings loved ones, happy February! I am so fortunate that the new decade is already off to a tremendous start. I feel energized and ready to work toward my goals! I spent a significant amount of time this past month catching up on podcasts, documentaries, and books that had been patiently waiting for me to press the pause button so that I could return to a slower pace of living. I’ve realized over the years that it’s incredibly important to relish when you get to set your priorities aside to enjoy the things that you love. It’s hard to believe that this past week marked the beginning of the end of this chapter of my life, pretty surreal that I just completed my last first week of college classes after being a student for nearly sixteen years! Most recently, I decided that I will not be pursuing a graduate degree so that I can actively create the space that I need in my head and heart to succeed in my career path. I’ve been trying to work through my mixed emotions by working out and going to the gym…but when that fails I can always fall back on another form of self-care! Since I’ve had plenty of time over the past four years to experiment with different products for my morning and night time routines, I wanted to share my winter routine with you all to inspire you to rediscover what you love about yourself and your products! I’ve seen so much success with this routine that I practice it religiously. I’ve turned into the type of person that does their entire skin care routine after a night of going out and I wake up feeling like a brand new person…totally worth the investment and dedication.
Juice Beauty Products | Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation $40 | Lasts 8-12 Months
I am not a morning person which means that I am usually dragging myself out of bed and have to operate under major time constraints. After brushing my teeth, I wake myself up by washing my face with a soothing cleansing cream by Acure. When I hop in the shower before work or after the gym, I immediately go for the shampoo and conditioner bottles by Puracy. This brands works really well with my thick curly hair (shocking) and the body wash and body lotion are great for dry sensitive skin.
After I get out of the shower I replenish my skin with a sheer coat of moisturizer by Avalon Organics. I think it’s important to note that you can mix spf into any moisturizer depending on the consistency for additional sun protection, but I am usually most concerned sun care during the summer months. As my moisturizer seeps into my pores, I prepare to even my skin tone by applying a fruit-pigmented foundation by juice beauty. It’s more expensive than most drug-store make-up brands, but this product doesn’t make my skin break out because it is made with natural ingredients and the coverage that it provides is far superior than cheaper brands that I have tried in the past! After my morning routine is completed I grab some coffee and am ready to conquer my day!
Jason Products | Vitamin E Oil $6 | Lasts 12+ Months
If you’re like me, you want to make your beauty routine as healthy for the planet as it is for your skin This past year I made the commitment to practice a zero-waste lifestyle to the best of my ability and I have been able to reduce a significant amount of waste by swapping out traditional make-up wipes for micro-fiber cleansing pads by Croon.
I start my nightly routine by removing my makeup with moistened micro-fiber pads. After the top layer of make-up is removed, I rinse the micro-fiber pads and proceed to thoroughly wash my face with a moisturizing cleanser by Nourish Organic. Since my skin is especially dry during the winter months, I try to use products the are sensitive on my skin so that they restore moisture even while washing. I substituted a traditional exfoliating face wash that usually contains micro beads for a silicon cleansing brush. This simple swap turned out to work so much better for my skin type and the environment! This type of brush is super easy to clean and rarely needs to be charged, it’s also the perfect size to travel with and compact enough to keep in a small bathroom.
I finish off my nightly routine by pouring witch hazel onto a re-usable cotton round to remove any leftover dirt or makeup that I may have missed while using the micro-fiber pads and washing with a cleanser. At this stage, I usually target the edges of my hairline and underneath the chin where remnants tend to hide. Once I’ve completed this step, I hydrate my cheeks and forehead with the bamboo charcoal moisturizer by Shea Moisture. Lastly, I apply small amounts of vitamin e oil to any dark marks or scars that need to heal. After these products set into my pores, I’m ready for bed!
My four years of college have definitely not gone the way that I expected. I faced a lot of disappointment along the way. I struggled with accepting the outcome of certain situations because I could not find the true meaning no matter how hard I searched. Now that I’m six months away from graduating, I realize that every experience serves it’s purpose in a unique way. If you know me, you know that I traveled along an unconventional path that encompassed a ton of unanticipated twists and turns. I had no idea that there would be a new challenge around almost every corner, I was overwhelmed by instability but I learned to embrace it.
Most of the time, I felt ill-equipped to handle a lot of the situations that life threw my way. In three years I changed my school, major, minor, and my career path. If this sounds like a lot of upheaval to you, it was. I had difficulty adjusting to change and I became frustrated with the fact that I could never get too comfortable because, in the back of my mind, I knew that something was bound to go awry. I thought that I had found my dream school, but after a few months there I learned that I did not know myself nor my dreams well at all. For a long time I was confident in my decision to study government and law, but I grappled with an emptiness that eventually drove me to declare a major in communication studies with a minor in history. Overtime, my aspirations of becoming a brilliant attorney disintegrated, but the idea to pursue a career in financial services rose from the ashes almost fortuitously. Looking back, it all seems pretty serendipitous to me now.
So when I take time to reflect on my college experiences, I smile knowing that I created so many wonderfully rewarding moments for myself that I will take pride in for years to come. I remember how I enjoyed the casual lifestyle of the Florida coast and immersed myself in the bustling atmosphere of Washington D.C. I think of how I made it a point to tap into the knowledge and wisdom of people from different generations. I fell in love with learning. I proved to myself that I am beyond capable of “adulting”. I am confident in my ability to listen to my own needs and to advocate for myself. I feel prepared for the next journey that lies ahead.
“Yeah, the bad nights last forever.
And the good nights don’t ever seem to last.”
‘The Best of Everything’ – Tom Petty
I have lived with more than eighteen different roommates and have moved eight separate times over the past four years. That in itself will show a person where their true values lie and what their core pillars are. I pledged a social sorority (shoutout to my Delta Zeta sisters), joined a professional law fraternity, competed on a Mock Trial team, became involved in three business organizations, lived abroad in the United Kingdom for six weeks to study digital media and film making, interned at two law firms in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metro area, received several awards for academic excellence, and became more self-assured with every passing day. After all of this, I know wholeheartedly that all of these experiences were imperative because they were accompanied by unfamiliarity which in turn led to self-discovery.
May we all graduate knowing how to navigate through hard times, how to start over if necessary, how to create closure for ourselves, and how to prioritize our health and happiness. Cheers to the next decade, let’s turn these lessons into tools that we can use to build the futures that we desire. It amazes me how the days move slowly but the years go by faster and faster.
Let’s try our hardest to receive the bad with humility and to soak up the good with gratitude.
My Advice on How to Prepare for College Graduation…Let’s Go Class of 2020!
Decide Who & What Deserves Your Time & Energy
The older I get the more I realize that time is an nonrenewable resource, you never get it back. Take a hard look at your life over the next several months, I can guarantee that you will have to make some tough decisions about who & what you are going to bring into the next phase of your life. We are all about to enter a major period of transition and it’s going to be an event that demands our attention. Fill your time with the people that help you to recharge and keep busy with activities that spark joy and excitement. Don’t forget to simultaneously distance yourself from the people who bring you down and drain your energy. If you find yourself surrounded by people who try to make their drama your drama, remember not to pick up things that do not belong to you. If you feel guilty about letting go and moving on, remember that what you’re doing is not an act of selfishness but rather an act of self-preservation.
Set Financial Goals & Keep a Money Diary
Money Diaries by Lindsey Stanberry was one of the first books that I read when I started exploring the personal finance section of libraries and book stores. The concepts are simple and very eye-opening which is why I have recommended this book to my peers time and again. Let’s take a moment to think about how we track almost everything in our daily lives with metrics from calories to exercise to sleep to water intake…so why are we neglecting our spending habits and financial goals?
This past summer, I made a flow chart that organized my anticipated expenses for a typical year with the information that I learned from Money Diaries. This exercise was especially helpful because my financial situation became crystal clear. Keeping a money diary puts me at ease and helps me to commit to an action plan, I feel completely in control of my finances and my future which is an incredibly empowering feeling.
Some important calculations to make are loan payments, rent payments, car payments, grocery bills, memberships (i.e. Gyms, Netflix, Spotify, ect.), beauty expenses (hair cuts, nail appointments, waxing, massages, ect.) and any prospective travel plans that you would like to schedule for vacations in a given year. Keep in mind this is all individualistic, so everyone’s flow-chart and money diary will start out the same but end up looking very different. For example, I’ve been thinking about adopting a pet after I graduate, so I would have to go back and factor those expenses into my chart to see how it would affect my finances. Some people may decide to live at home for a few years to pay off loans or save for the future, its choices like these that will ultimately determine your financial freedom. So after you calculate your financial flow-chart and start your money diary, the next step is to look into jobs with salaries that will allow you to maintain your current lifestyle in addition to expanding your horizons.
Jobs! Jobs?! Jobs? Jobs…
LinkedIn, Indeed, Ziprecruiter, SnagAJob, Jobs2Careers & so many more have mobile apps that you can download onto your mobile device to help you network with professionals and find upcoming application opportunities. For every hour you spend on social media…spend an hour searching for jobs. It can be overwhelming in the beginning but pretty soon you will have a good grasp on the companies and positions that suit your interests and skill set. Not sure where to start? Most universities have career centers that can help students transition from school to work life. This past fall I scheduled three separate appointments with staff members at the career center to revise my resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. I applied to more than fifty full-time job opportunities and interviewed with nearly fifteen different companies. Luckily all of this preparation paid off because I am beyond confidant that I found the right fit for me.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments in Any & Every Capacity Possible
Let’s face it, you only graduate from college once. It’s a major accomplishment that deserves to be relished for far longer than the length of a graduation ceremony. We have all earned the right to do a little dance, make a little love, & get down tonight. So make plans to celebrate in a way that is most important to you, apply the extra effort to make this time especially memorable. A good friend once opened up to me about how badly she regrets only taking the weekend to celebrate her accomplishments; she graduated on a Friday and started working on Monday. Some people can jump from one moment to the other with no problem while others prefer to take periods of transition more slowly. This is an opportune time to uncover the type of person that you are…I’ve made a commitment to give myself the summer since it is going to be my last. Sometimes it’s hard to advocate for your needs in the moment but I can assure you that you will thank yourself years later.
Trust the Process & Take Time to Realign
I recently watched a stand-up comedy performance on Netflix by Tiffany Haddish titled ‘Black Mitzvah’. Let me tell you, this woman came to teach AND SHE TAUGHT! The two most important things that young people can do is (1) own our failures (2) learn how to control our thoughts. In this comedy special Haddish warns that we all have parasites inside of us, but if we are in control of our minds then we can run our lives the way we want. Anything is possible. The catch is that “if you’re not in control of your mind, then the parasites run you”. Let that sink in. Don’t get down on yourself if things do not go the way you want at first after graduating. Remember that what is meant for you will make its way to you in due time. Just do your best to trust the process and take some time to reevaluate the situation, make sure you are in alignment.
If you’ve gotten the chance to get to know me in childhood, college, the workplace or even in a public setting at any given point in time…you may be surprised to learn that I am actually ~shhh~ an introvert. It makes complete sense to me when I think back to my early childhood years. I remember yearning desperately for some solitude and alone time after a very hectic day of engaging in Socratic seminars or debates at school, playing team sports, and attending meetings for several clubs and organizations. Time to decompress has always been a basic need and source of contentment for me. However, I did not realize how integral that time was to my overall health until I became immersed in an environment that was entirely communal. Thank you, college. Nevertheless, in the past four years I have worked to accept, own, and embrace this part of myself. I am perfectly fine with declining an invitation to someone else’s plans because solitude, not socialization, is what I actually need more of.
I will also be the first to admit that my personality has two completely different sides. I have never had a problem with introducing myself to strangers and I am completely comfortable with striking up interesting conversations with another person that I have just met. I’m that person who loves to engage the people that randomly sit next to me to learn about their life experiences. Call me Forrest Gump, if you will. I also get excited to present to an audience regardless of the size and I really enjoy networking at different types of events. In essence, most people probably know me for my friendly and outgoing nature. So, when I admit to them that I am actually an introvert, most of these people find it comical, ludicrous, or somewhere in between. But, it is completely true! Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabelle Briggs Myers told me so. Plus, my own intuition.
I am definitely a personality test enthusiast – I find the results fascinating! So for those of you who may want to know, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) identified my personality type as ‘INTJ’ which stands for ‘Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Judgement’ and is known as ‘The Architect’. This personality type is actually among the rarest in the world, ‘The Architect’ only makes up 2% of the total population and 0.8% of women (Congratulations to me, I guess?). If you’re interested in knowing more, this distinct personality type is typically self-confident, goal oriented, dedicated to their work, and excellent at living independently. Most could be characterized as open-minded and imaginative bookworms with perfectionist tendencies. Sounds about right to me!
Some of the most historically notable leaders and orators have been classified as ‘INTJ’ personality types; Augustus Caesar (Statesman & Military Leader of Rome), Thomas Jefferson (Lawyer, Diplomat, & Founding Father), Susan B. Anthony (Women’s Rights Activist), Dwight Eisenhower (Army General & President of the United States), Katie Couric (Anchor of CBS Evening news), Mark Zuckerburg (Chief Executive Officer), Elon Musk (Billionaire Entrepreneur).
With all that being said, I want to address a stigma that is widely circulated throughout our society: not all introverts are soft-spoken and shy. A person’s conversation and presentation skills are not directly linked to their personality type. There are extroverts that loathe having to give presentations and avoid attending networking events. While, there are introverts that excel in leadership and public speaking roles. In essence, if you can identify your weaknesses but take pride in your strengths, you already have the most valuable personality trait that exists: humility.
So, ignore societal expectations and live your life in a way that allows you to be unapologetically you. I’m about to ‘INTJ’ the hell out of my life and hope you will ___ it too.
Warm greetings to all of my casual readers and loyal subscribers, it’s hard to believe that the last few weeks of summer are already coming to a close! I hope that this season has been as kind and restorative to your spirit as it has been to mine. I’ll be finishing off the rest of my break by fulfilling my childhood dream of attending a Jonas Brothers concert. Then, I’ll be stepping in for my parents by moving my younger brother into college at West Virginia University. Crazy how those two experiences are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ll also be desperately trying to finish as many books, shows, and podcasts as possible before school starts at the end of August. This month’s post is actually inspired by the writings of the clinical psychologist Meg Jay, PhD who wrote The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now. The book outlines how a significant portion (approx. 40%) of our happiness is determined by our intentional behavior. Intentionality is a life skill that I have been refining for quite some time. Today, I try to be as deliberate with my decisions and as purposeful with my energy as possible. In recent years, I’ve found that my behavior becomes more intentional when I increase the amount of time that I spend alone. For example, I used to spend every waking moment surrounded by people. My life was flooded by social interaction which completely interfered with my stream of consciousness; my psyche was clouded to the point that I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts. Socializing is an undoubtedly important part of life, however, we also need to remind ourselves to turn our attention inwards so that we can reconnect with ourselves. This post aims to serve as a guide for people who are afraid of the prolonged period of silence that typically comes with a solitary life. To those of you, I will say; you don’t have to feel lonely when you are alone. Time spent unaccompanied is good for the soul. What’s more is that changing your mindset in this way can change your life.
Make Self-Care a Habit
Before we get into the complexities of solitude, we need to start with the basics of self-care. How often do you stop to ask yourself; Is this how I really want to spend my day? It may be time to shift your focus if you feel like you’re frequently neglecting the bullet points of your own personal agenda. We also have to remember that self-care is specific to every individual because everyone has a different definition of this term. So, it’s important to be understanding of other people’s needs especially when they don’t match your own. For instance, some people may only require a couple of hours of downtime after socializing. Whereas, other people may need a few days to recharge. Comparatively, some people feel most relaxed when they are alone in the comfort of their own home. While, others thrive when they spend the entire day exploring a new place by themselves on their own terms. The point that I’m trying to make is; we should never feel as though we can’t say ‘no’ to someone else’s plans and we should also never be offended when someone passes on an invitation to our own. DO WHAT YOU LOVE. The rest will quickly fall into place.
I never thought that going to the gym by myself was a big deal until I met someone who told me that they actually refuse to workout unless they can do it with a partner. Working out is a great way to clear your mental space and I have found that it is done best while you are alone. If you are looking to increase your independence in this way you can (A) create workouts to do at home (B) attend group exercise classes (C) join a gym that offers personal training. Remember that you can always take small steps to build up your confidence so that one day you’ll be prime and ready to hit the gym solo.
This can be done in multiple ways. Depending on your mood, you can either (A) listen to your favorite tunes while checking out a new grocery store in your area (B) spend the entire day trying on clothes at a crowded mall (C) put the television on in the background and spend the entire evening online shopping from the comfort of your home. Bonus: you can kick back and relax by making yourself a cocktail because you won’t have to drive anywhere…isn’t online shopping the best?
Over the past two years, I have dedicated a significant portion of my time to learning about the ins and outs of the food industry. My goal was to cook healthy meals as much as possible and I think I have succeeded – I got home and made a sauteed kale salad after going out with my girlfriends for happy hour on Friday. YEAH. The first thing that I cut out was gluten and it made THE WORLD of a difference for my digestive system. Then, I cut out a large amount of dairy products and noticed that my skin improved drastically. Most recently, I adopted a plant based diet to support the environment and my personal health. Now, I have been a vegetarian for five months and I honestly cannot imagine being any other way. I absolutely love the positive effects that these changes have had on my body and I encourage everyone to find what works best for them! The goal should always be to FEEL GOOD after every meal! Keep a food log over the next few months to track how you are feeling after eating certain foods, then make a list of three-five new recipes that you would like to try and GO FOR IT! Pretty soon you’ll be causally showing off your cooking skills to your close circle of family and friends.
Spend the afternoon sitting on the floor of a bookstore while reading the back of any book that grabs your interest. Purchase the one that you like the best. Bonus: you can take as long as you want to because you won’t have to leave when the other person is ready to go. Don’t you hate being rushed? I know I do!
Netflix marathon after a long week on a Friday night? HELLO! Grab some of your favorite snacks and start scrolling through your watch list. Bonus: you don’t have to share your treats with anyone. That’s pretty sweet.
“True love ain’t something you can buy yourself. True love finally happens when you by yourself. So if you by yourself, then go and buy yourself another round from the bottle on the higher shelf. ‘Cause I’m my own soulmate, I know how to loveme. I know that I’m always gonna hold me down.”
Soulmate | Lizzo
Prioritize Your Interests
Look guys, life is short, so spend as much time as possible doing what you love and don’t feel like you have to wait for other people to join you. The best feeling ever is looking back and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I experienced that.” So take the time to imagine what that feeling looks like and find a way to feel it as often as possible. I realized a long time ago that you can’t wait for other people to be on the same page as you in terms of your priorities and interests. So when I wanted to see that thing or be in that place, I went! Not only that, but I was fully conscious while the experience was happening. How do I know this? If my memory isn’t cloudy and there aren’t pieces missing from an experience then I know that I was fully present in those moments. So wherever you decide to go, be ALL there. No distractions.
Enjoy a meal at a restaurant that you have always wanted to try and order anything you want because you wont have to worry about feeling self-conscious in front of others. Bonus: you also won’t have to worry about making conversation with the person sitting across from you. Of course, eavesdropping on other people’s conversations can be really fun too…
Going to the movie theater by yourself is actually an incredibly enjoyable experience. You save so much time because you don’t have to coordinate with other people on times and locations. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend going to see a late night cinema in a sketchy neighborhood…I’m talking about spending a rainy Sunday afternoon at a theater that you are already familiar with. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing all of the childhood remakes that are coming out this year.
I love to use the metro-rail system to take trips to downtown Washington D.C…a.b.s.o.l.u.t.e.l.y l.o.v.e.
Whether you’re yearning for a trip to a large nationally recognized museum or to a small intimate gallery, it is always incredibly inspiring to look at different types of artwork. I am always amazed by the amount of creativity that a single room can hold. I usually try to pop into local art galleries whenever I have some spare time. It’s a great way to learn about the best tourist spots in the area and to support local artists. Overtime, I have actually been able to curate my own little collection of artwork by purchasing different pieces from artists across the country. Each piece has proven to be a great conversation starter and I especially love how no one else will ever have another one like it! I mean seriously, who wants to buy cheap artwork from places like Target or Marshall’s? No thanks.
I really stepped outside of my comfort zone when I attended events at DC Comedy Improv & Capital One Arena by myself this past summer. It’s amazing how much more aware you become of your surroundings when you are forced to rely on yourself. I made new friends along the way and that was definitely the most rewarding part of the entire experience. Looking back, I probably would have never met those amazing people if I had been with a familiar group of friends. Getting outside of our bubble reminds us that there is an entire world of people out there that we have yet to interact with, you never know who you’ll meet along the way.
“Because I realized I got Me, Myself, and I, that’s all I got in the end, that’s what I found out. And it ain’t no need to cry, I took a vow that from now on I’m gon’ my own best friend.”
Me, Myself, & I | Beyonce
Find Peace In New Places
Personally, I begin to go a little stir-crazy if I stay in one place for too long. It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve moved seven times within the last four years…I’ve become slightly addicted to fresh starts. However, you don’t have to uproot yourself entirely to feel a sense of renewal. Sometimes all it takes is a weekend getaway to restart your engine. If you’re in the mood to change things up, pick two places that you have always wanted to visit and flip a coin to decide between the two! The decision process becomes a tad more exciting when you have to rely on the universe.
Get in your car and put on an amazing playlist to listen to while you take a drive through a neighborhood that you have never been to before but have always wanted to explore. Take it slow. Look at the houses that catch your eye. Imagine yourself living there and realize the goals that you have for yourself. Personally, I have found that this is one of the best ways to escape reality while still embracing the moment that your are currently in. These are the types of experiences that remind us of what we are working towards in life.
One of my favorite things about urban living is there is a plethora of different boroughs to explore within one close-knit area. I definitely haven’t been able to explore all of the communities that I would like but I am gradually working towards getting to know the city to its entirety. Wherever you live, reserve some time to check out a new part of the area. I can promise you that this new experience will leave you feeling refreshed. Sometimes our day-to-day routines can feel stale, but the weekend is the perfect time to change things up!
Some of my favorite places that I have visited within the state of Maryland are Downtown Ellicott City, Downtown Annapolis, Downtown Frederick, Sparks, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and the Eastern Shore. There is still so much more that I want to see…a blog post on my favorite spots is soon to come!
I recently traveled to Boston, Massachusetts while on the way to visit a friend who lived on Martha’s Vineyard Island for the summer. It was nerve wracking because I didn’t know where I was going and I had to figure out a lot of things along the way. I got lost a few times while trying to get back to the airport and I had to reach out to strangers for help. By the end of the day, I ended up taking seven different modes of transpiration prior to reaching my final destination. My bus was cancelled and my out-bound flight was delayed by the weather on the way back so that was frustrating, but the best moments from that trip all happened in between traveling. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.
So far, two of the most courageous things that I did this past year were traveling to London, United Kingdom and Amsterdam, Netherlands by myself. I would do it ten times over again if I could. I’ve been counting down the days till my next European adventure ever since I got back to the United States. Yeah, that’s how much fun it was.
“Because the greatest love of all is happening to me, I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all.”
Heartfelt greetings to you all! This month, I have been able to draw inspiration from so many people, places, & things. A special thank you goes out to all of the people who set out each day with the goal of leadership in mind. Whether you are conscious of your role or not, people like you are serving as tremendous examples for our generation and for so many others. It is evident that new beginnings are on the horizon for so many! A new wave of young people are currently in the process of realizing their dreams; witnessing the arrival of their self-actualization brings me joy beyond compare. Soon, we will be in the presence of new leaders, and they will be the ones to set the expectations for progress in the new decade. My hope is that this post will inspire future leaders to keep environmental protection at the top of their priority list. We have to set an example for them, so that they will be an example to us in the years to come. Cheers to future progress!
DIY Body Scrub Recipe: Coconut Oil, Fresh Organic Coffee Grounds, Organic Granulated Sugar, Organic Dark Brown Sugar
DIY Facial Scrub Recipe: Coconut Oil, Organic Granulated Sugar, Organic Light Brown Sugar, Green Tea Leaves, Ginger, Aloe Vera, Honey
DIY Facial Toner Recipe: Filtered Water, Green Tea & Green Tea Leaves, Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel, Vitamin E Oil
Reasons why you should make the switch…
Simply stated, there will be less plastic that needs to be recycled if consumers make more products at home! Recycling companies are actually overwhelmed with the amount of plastic that exists in the world today. As a result, only 9% of plastic is actually recycled properly! The rest is discarded as trash where it eventually ends up in the ocean.
News flash! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the ingredients that companies put into skin-care and make-up products. Over eighty years have passed since Congress voted on the original Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act in 1938. Nothing has changed since then! It is incredibly disconcerting to know that most consumers are completely in the dark in terms of the safety of their products. So, I turned my frustration into motivation and began to make my own products from scratch with wholesome household ingredients! Finally, products that support my health and the environment!
“The law doesnot require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market…”
U.S. Food & Drug Administration
Perhaps, what I love most about making my own products is knowing with absolute certainty that the ingredients are completely safe to wash down the drain. A significant amount of products, including skin exfoliates and toothpastes, contain tiny plastic beads known as microbeads. Most microbeads escape capture during the water treatment process due to their size. Consequently, these tiny beads wash straight into the ocean where they harm marine life. Consumers can protest the use of microbeads and help the watershed by making products with natural ingredients!
Last but not least, you can use these simple recipes to make gifts for your family and friends! It is so fun to sit comfortably at a table while decorating mason jars with glitter, flowers, or bows! Giving gifts mindfully is a beautiful way to express your love and appreciation for another person.
Metal Safety Razor
Glass Floss Container
Biodegradable Bamboo Toothbrushes
Organic Bamboo Wash Cloths
Reasons why you should make the switch…
I was shocked to learn that disposable razorscannot be recycled in the United States. What’s worse is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that two billion razorsare thrown away every year! Fortunately, I was was relieved to find out that metal razor blades are recyclable. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a metal safety razor for approximately $20 to reduce waste their waste. It’s a one time purchase that people can feel good about because it will last a lifetime!
Does the phrase “you need to floss more” elicit feelings of guilt? Well, you will no longer have to feel guilty about throwing away plastic floss containers if you switch to a refillable glass floss container! The bamboo charcoal floss in the picture above is wrapped around a cardboard spool which is 100% biodegradable. When this spool eventually runs out, I will simply purchase another spool to place in the glass container. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a glass floss container with a spool of floss for approximately $10.
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring (1962)
Did you know that it only takes bamboo products approximately 5-10 years to break down? That’s amazing! Especially considering the fact that plastic toothbrushes never break down. At the rate the world is currently going, marine biologists predict that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. You can make a difference by purchasing a pack of four plant-based bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon for approximately $7 which is about $1.75 per toothbrush. Not bad at all!
One day, I was cleaning out my bathroom vanity when I thought about the exorbitant amount of disposable make-up wipes that women use throughout their lifetime. As far as sustainability goes, I really experienced an “AHA!” moment as a consumer. Disposable make-up wipes had been a staple in my beauty routine since I started wearing make-up at the age of fourteen. So, I decided to make the bold switch to eco-friendly washable cloths and cotton rounds. Turns out, the cloth material takes off make-up more effectively than the disposable products ever did. As a college student, saving money on this monthly expense was definitely an added bonus. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a pack of washable cloths and cotton rounds for approximately $25.
Sustainable Produce Bags
Metal Loose Leaf Tea Infuser
Reasons why you should make the switch…
The metal straws shown above are probably one of my favorite purchases that I have made this past year. In addition to the super nifty straw holder, the package also came with a conveniently sized cleaning tool which has turned out to be incredibly useful and efficient. Plastic straws are a nonessential item that negatively impact the environment, research estimates that Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws per day. If you personally don’t like the taste of metal straws, then paper straws are another good option to switch to. However, it is pertinent that paper straw users are mindful that they are still creating waste by throwing away paper straws after one use. In essence, if you do choose buy paper straws, it would be most advantageous to use them in moderation. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a pack of metal straws at a local retailer for about $5, score!
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve struggled with digestive issues for more than half of my life. The pain and distress has progressed as I have gotten older, but my issues definitely peaked when I entered college nearly four years ago. Researching how certain foods affect the digestive track in terms of overall health and wellness has turned into a part of my lifestyle. Not by choice, but out of necessity. Two years ago, I started a food diary to track the types of foods that I was consuming so that I could evaluate how they made me feel. At the end of that initial tracking period, I determined that I needed to eliminate fried foods, refined sugars, gluten, and dairy products from my diet in order to function at my highest level. Almost four months ago, I made the decision to take things up a notch, so I completely cut out meat and adopted a vegetarian diet. It’s actually amazing how well my body has responded to all of these changes, I honestly can’t imagine living any other way. Nevertheless, I still found changes that needed to made in other areas of my life. For instance, I began to think about the number of plastic produce bags that would accumulate in my living space overtime. Something had to be done…eco-friendly produce bags were the solution! Environmentally conscious consumers can find theirs for $15.
“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.“
Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day (1970)
Tea has become such a significant part of my daily routine that I can say with confidence that I consume this beverage religiously. With that being said, I was not surprised to learn that, next to water, tea is the second most popular drink in the world! After visiting England this past winter, I made a conscious decision to refrain from purchasing boxes of single use tea bags. Instead, I switched to making herbal tea with loose tea leaves and a tea infuser! This simple switch has allowed me to decrease the amount of waste that I was producing as a consumer, now the tea leaves are the only item that need discarding. The process of making tea with an infuser is also really fun! I was able to find a pack of two tea infusers for $10, what a perfect pair!
Glass Microwave-Safe Tupperware
Glass Drinking Cups & Bottles
Ceramic Dinner Plates
Reasons why you should make the switch…
According to the Mayo Clinic, BPA stands for “Bisphenol A” which is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960’s. Most often, BPA’s are found in plastic containers that are used to store foods and beverages. In recent years, BPA’s have been a major cause for concern as research shows that chemicals in plastic containers can seep into our foods or beverages. One would think that switching to BPA-Free plastic would be a safe bet, however, some BPA-free products have replaced BPA with bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF). Therefore, switching your plastic kitchen Tupperware to glass Tupperware is the the best way to combat impending health problems such asinfertility and weakened immune systems that are linked to BPA’s . Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase glass Tupperware for around $5-8.
Since plastic takes 1,000 years to break down in the landfill, consumers should consider purchasing glassware because broken cups will eventually break down after they are tossed. In addition, the quality of plastic cups and water bottles degenerates over time but products made with glass are much more durable. If you choose to buy glassware, I can assure you that you will see a greater return on your investment in the long run. Glass products are truly are the optimal choice for your home and the environment. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a four piece set of glasses for an estimated $15-20 and a pack of drinking mason jars for about $10.
“The packaging for a microwavable “microwave” dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries.”
David Wann, Author of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (2001)
Although consumers are often tempted to buy a bunch of cheap plastic plates for their kitchen, it is better to spend more money on a quality product that will last. Ceramic plates are the superior choice because they are durable, micro-wave safe, and dishwasher safe. Ceramic cookware is also incredibly versatile and low maintenance, they can serve a dual purpose as cutting boards and are very easy to clean. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a four piece set of ceramic plates for approximately $25.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tools
Re-Washable Paper Towels
Reasons why you should make the switch…
Did you know that Americans on average throw away 350 million disposable lighters every year? One would think that most lighters are recyclable, however, properly recycling disposable lighters is nearly impossible because manufacturers rarely list the materials that they use to assemble this product. Consequently, disposable lighters endup wasting away in landfills with other commonly discarded household items where they are frequentlyingested by birds and other small animals. Although matches and lighters both contain chemicals, I feel as though matches are the lesser of the two evils given the fact that they are biodegradable because they are made of wood. According to this list, substituting a box of wooden matches for a single use plastic lighter is the cheapest and simplest switch that you can make this summer. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase a large box of matches at a range of $2-5 depending on nearby stores.
About three billion batteries are sold in the U.S. every year, you can replace single-use batteries with recyclable rechargeable batteries to bolster the environment and your wallet. Batteries seem to be in almost every device that we use in our households today; flashlights, television remotes, portable speakers, smoke detectors, security cameras ect. Environmentally conscious consumers can participate in the green movement by dropping off old batteries at electronic stores like Best Buy for proper recycling. When you get home, you can feel good about replacing the old batteries with rechargeable ones that will last for years to come. A set of rechargeable batteries costs approximately $15-20 and they are worth every cent!
“Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge; it’s common sense.”
President Ronald Reagan, State of the Union Address (1984)
Let’s face it, no one enjoys having to come home after a long day to do the dishes. When you’re tired it is so tempting to clean just a few dishes by running the dishwasher, but the average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle. At best, energy efficient dishwashers use four gallons of water per cycle. We all need good quality tools to help us get the job done, so why not buy sponges and scrubs that help the environment? The company Twist made the first plant-based sponges that are 100% biodegradable. Twist sponges have a plant-based scrubby side and a natural cellulose porous side that are hand sewn together. If you’re not a big fan of sponges, wooden scrubs are another excellent cleaning tool to have in your kitchen. Both tools can break down fairly easily, a pack of Twist sponges cost $4 and wooden scrubs typically cost $5.
This last point is for the math lovers…here is a simple cost break down for total money spent on paper towels! (A) If the average four person household uses 2 rolls of paper towels per week (B) a pack of 12 paper towel rolls costs about $15 (C) there are 52 weeks in a year…how much money will be spent on paper towels in a five year period? Well, 2 rolls x 52 weeks = 104 rolls per year. Then, 104 rolls / 12 rolls per pack = 8.5 packs of paper towels. Finally, 8.5 packs x $15 = $130 spent on paper towels per year. So, $130 x 5 years = $650 spent over a five year period. That is crazy! Wouldn’t you rather buy a plane ticket to the west coast than have to spend money on paper towels every month? I know what my answer would be! Last month I finally made the switch to re-washable paper towels…west coast here I come!!
Warm greetings to you all! As many of you continue to work hard towards your goals this summer, I hope that you will have some well-deserved downtime to rest and reflect. After transferring to the University of Maryland in Spring 2018, I went an entire year without taking a break from school. Last summer, I worked at a law firm during the day and took classes at the community college at night. This past winter, I traveled internationally and spent an entire month abroad to compile a documentary about consumerism in the United Kingdom. Although I am still working at a law firm and taking college classes online, I have gotten better about setting aside time for myself over the past year. Watching documentaries has become a passion of mine and I love to share the stories that they tell with other people. For those of you who struggle with picking a series to watch after a long day at the office, I thought that it would be helpful to assemble a list of the best documentaries that Netflix has to offer. There are three sensational documentaries to choose from per category; Lifestyle, Health, Political Activism, Environmental Activism, Celebrity Stories, Criminal, Historical, Cultural, and Inspirational. Depending on your schedule you can cover this entire list in a month, a season, or a year…Happy watching!
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
The C Word
What the Health?
13th: From Slave to Criminal with One Amendment
When They See Us
Grass is Greener
Before the Flood
The True Cost
John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky
Gaga: Five Foot Two
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story