Wednesday, May 17, 2017

5 Inexpensive & Natural Beauty Products You Have to Try ASAP

The following post contains SHOPSTYLE affiliate links and reviews for products I have received complimentary from Influenster*. More information is located at the bottom of this post.



If I could give myself a title for my beauty habits, it would be something along the lines of "Loyal Product Buyer/User" because I have the tendency to find a product I like and never use another (even long after it probably isn't working for me anymore).

While I will likely be saying "goodbye" to my old products thanks to the new, inexpensive, and natural ones I have recently discovered, I will most certainly be that same "Loyal Product Buyer/User"... just for new brands.

After receiving my first complimentary VoxBox (thank you so much, Influenster!) not long ago, featuring Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Recover Shampoo & Conditioner, I could not help but wonder which other fairly cheap and natural beauty products would work wonders as well.

Here are the 5 products I have since found (aside from the Aveeno moisturizer, which I have been a "Loyal Buyer/User" of for years), which I have absolutely loved and will undoubtedly stay loyal to in the foreseeable future:

1. Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Recover Shampoo*

Before even trying the Biolage R.A.W. (Real, Authentic, Wholesome) Recover Shampoo, I fell in love with its delicious, fresh scent of yucca & goji berry. Of 70% natural origin, with no artificial colorants, silicones, sulfates, or paragons, the shampoo truly surprised me. As someone who has curly hair, I always find it tough to choose shampoo and conditioner that tames the frizz and keeps my hair shiny without having to use a million + one other products after each wash. The Biology R.A.W. Recover Shampoo + Conditioner combination managed to do both.

2. Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Recover Conditioner*

The Biolage R.A.W. Recover Conditioner had the same effect. When combined with the shampoo, I could not get enough. Even after just a few washes I have seen an incredible difference in my hair — less frizz, more shine... something I can definitely get used to. Additionally, one thing I absolutely hate when it comes to using heat on my hair is that often times the heat kills the scent of the wash. Thankfully, the smell of this shampoo + conditioner combo lasted not only after using a blowdryer and flatiron, but also after several days.

3. St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub

I tend to have softer skin, but never has my skin ever felt this smooth or looked so clear. The 100% natural exfoliants in the St. Ives Apricot Scrub scrape away the dirt and dead skin, leaving my skin soft as can be. Plus, it smells heavenly.

4. St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub

Within just one use of the St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub I was able to see a difference. My nose is typically where I see blackheads on my face, so I scrubbed the green tea solution over my nose (as applying to the whole face would likely dry it out), then rinsed away the problem spots. Literally. With just one quick scrub and rinse, I could see a huge difference. AND, like the apricot scrub, it has 100% natural exfoliants.

5. Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer

While the first four products listed here are recent discoveries, the Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer has long been an absolute must for my skin. After every wash in the morning and before bed each night, I apply the cream to my entire face and neck and it leaves me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. If there is one product I could not live without, it's this one for sure.


Interested in shopping any of these products? Click the links above or scroll through the shop widget below:

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As previously stated, this post contains affiliate links. While I may be compensated for any purchases made through this post, I only publish and/or endorse pieces I truly believe in and love, which is why I am thrilled to be able to share these natural beauty products with you. For more information about Sponsors, please visit the The Sprinkle Blog's Disclaimer page.

What natural beauty products do you recommend? Do you have any DIY natural beauty techniques and/or remedies I should try? Comment below with some of your favs!

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Setting Priorities and Being Open to Change


Here's the thing: no matter how "according to plan" some people's lives may seem to be going, they too had or will have to be open to change somewhere along the way (even if only for a minute).

I recently received a letter I wrote to myself at a Senior Retreat about a year ago. We were told to write to ourselves a piece outlining anything we would want to say to our future selves, which would be sent a year later.

Here is part of what I wrote in my letter:

"Hopefully, if you are reading this a year from now, you have sort of figured it out... When I consider my future, my dream is to live in New York City and be writing for a magazine (print or digital). Though this is my dream now, I know the places I go will not necessarily lead me directly there. Or, who knows, maybe I will find a different destination. But no matter where life leads me, I know I will end up where I am supposed to be."


Ah, "But no matter where life leads me, I know I will end up where I am supposed to be." My favorite line. Because it's true, I wrote down a dream that made sense to me at the time (one that has slightly changed), but I still definitely don't have it all figured out.

There are many things people do not tell you before you leave college. What they do tell you is that the priorities we are "supposed" to set and dreams we are "supposed" to chase all involve the same plan or path: graduate from high school, go to the best college possible, and get hired right after graduation.

This plan, however, is problematic. Not because it isn't a great plan to follow — I personally loved my years in school and am so grateful for every moment — but because it is not what everyone wants and for those who do want it, they are rushed to put a time frame on it.

As some of you may know, immediately after graduation I had the privilege of moving to New York City to pursue an editorial job on a dream team from which I learned more than I ever thought possible.

But after a year, the end of my fellowship came and I decided I wanted to take the summer off to relax and do some freelancing before jumping in to my next adventure.

In a previous post, I mentioned how I had made the decision to move out of NYC and back home to Connecticut to begin this new chapter of my life and, while I am excited to be taking this next step for myself, I can't help but feel a mix of emotions — very similar to the ones I felt while writing that letter to myself a little over a year ago.


Somewhere in the middle of my excitement to have my first "summer vacation" since high school and my hesitation to redirect my life, I have realized that I am ready for change. For the first time ever, I am accepting that I'm only in control of certain parts of my life and the things I am in control of are the ones I will prioritize.


For this reason, here are the priorities I will focus on... always.

1. Health
"Health is not just about what you're eating. It's also about what you're thinking and saying."

2. Relationships
"I've learned... that it's not what I have in my life, but who I have in my life that counts."

3. Writing
"No one can tell your story, so tell it yourself. No one can write your story, so write it yourself."

4. Hobbies
"Find three hobbies you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to be creative."

5. Career
"Passion is the difference between having a job and having a career."

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Here's my question for you: have you recently made a change that you've had to be open to? What was the hardest part about it?


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Monday, May 1, 2017

The Ultimate New York City Bucket List: 26 Spring & Summer Activities in the Big Apple

I officially have just about a month left in New York City before I move back home to Connecticut, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be back and forth quite a bit for some of my favorite spring and summer pastimes.

In fact, aside from Christmastime, the warm months are the absolute best time to be out and about in New York as there is always something to do (both inside and outside) and the city is buzzing with excitement.

For that reason, I've compiled your ultimate NYC bucket list of places to go and activities to enjoy, some I have already done (and have to do again) and many that I hope to do, to make your upcoming city visits special.

Don't have a trip planned? Well, for what are you waiting?

☐ Visit the New York Botanical Gardens

☐ Ride bikes through Central Park
☐ Rent a paddleboat at Loeb Boathouse in Central Park
☐ Buy tickets to see a New York Yankees or Mets game (Yankees are better)
☐ Sip on a Loopy Pop cocktail at the Conrad Hotel's Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar
☐ Eat all you can at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn
☐ Walk the High Line
☐ Cross the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back (or vice versa)
☐ Go bar hopping in each of the five boroughs
☐ Shop 'til you drop at the Brooklyn Flea Market
☐ Rush a Broadway show
☐ Take a ferry to Governor's Island
☐ Picnic in Central Park (or Prospect Park, or any of the parks)
☐ Visit the Bronx, Central Park, or Prospect Park Zoo
☐ Spend the day at Coney Island
☐ Enjoy a dinner cruise out of Chelsea Piers
☐ Get moving at an outdoor fitness class
☐ Experience the joy of Wowfulls
☐ Mini-golf at the pier
Rollerblade in Central Park

Go kayaking in the Hudson River

Watch a movie outdoors
Spend the day at Rockaway Beach

Buy your produce at a local farmers market
Ride in a hot air balloon
Take in the scenery at The Met Cloisters

Have other suggestions? Comment below with your favorite warm-weather activity to do in NYC.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Settling For Anything Short of Happiness


Whether it's your career, a relationship, a place to live, or anything else, there is no reason to settle. For anything. Ever. So, fuhgeddaboudit.

All too often, especially as women, we believe settling is the only option. Buy, why? In my experiences I have found that some women settle because being "picky" may make us seem ungrateful or "bitchy" (excuse my language). Because asking for that raise, for more, for anything that is not given to us is rude, right?... Wrong.

In reality, doing those things just means you're self-assured — as you damn well should be, girl. I don't care who you are: you have every right to be confident in yourself and all you are capable of accomplishing.

Of course, though, there are things and times in life where you have no other choice but to settle and that's okay. Right now in my life, for example, I could paint you a picture of my dream apartment in New York City with flower pots on the front stoop, a balcony, high ceilings, spacious rooms, a brand new kitchen, overlooking Central Park (I could keep going...), but no matter how hard I imagine it, it's just not feasible right now.

No, but in all seriousness, NYC is a fabulous place with equally (sometimes) fabulous people. It's genuinely a world of its own and I am so grateful to be able to work in a place with such life — it literally never sleeps.

But, since graduating in May 2016, I have slowly wondered whether or not that "dream apartment" I just described is actually my dream. I know it once was, but after actually living here, I don't love it as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, I love Manhattan, but I don't love living in it.

At least for the last year it hasn't quite felt like "home" to me. While "home" in college was found in the friends by whom I was constantly surrounded, I did not have that constant community afterward, so I realized "home," when I am not constantly surrounded by those people who I grew to know and love, is the sound of crickets at night, a lawn of grass, a deck to sit on and read, dogs to cuddle, and bubbles in which to bathe. [[At least for now, until I eventually decide I want the city again. Because if I'm honest I'll probably want to hop back and forth until I'm ready to settle down somewhere]].

So in the last week, as my lease nears its end, I made a big decision: I am moving back to Connecticut after my lease is up on June 1 and eventually commuting to work in Manhattan from there.

How did I come to this decision? Well, it certainly wasn't easy. Here are the questions I asked myself before deciding, the same ones you should ask yourself before settling for anything short of happiness:


1. Does this choice make me happy?

If the answer to this one is no, you can stop here, because chances are if you choose the option that makes you unhappy, you're settling.

2. Can I do better?

This question is important because if you think you can do better, chances are you can. Decide what makes you happy and whether or not your choice is it. Will you be happier at home than in New York City? Will you be excited to go to work every day? Make a list of pros and cons for each, then decide!

3. What is my end goal or dream?

Figure out your end goal (woah, this is a huge ask, I know). Note: there likely won't be a straight and narrow path to this destination, so don't be too set on painting a roadmap for your journey. You'll likely go off-roading.

4. Is this bringing me closer to that destination?

Ask yourself, will this person/place/thing be part of that destination? If not, will it be a stepping stone to help me get there one day? If the answer is yes to one of these, you are most likely making the right choice for you right now. If the answer is no to both, it may be a waste of your time and/or a distraction. *That being said, taking detours in life is part of the fun, so if the answer is "maybe" to one of these, defer to question 1— if it will make you happy, go for it. Life's short!

5. Am I making this choice for me or for someone else?

As difficult as this one may be, never make a decision based off of how others may feel or view it. Unless, of course, it goes against the Golden Rule — like, please don't use this as your pass to punch someone in the face and then be like, "well The Sprinkle said to not make a choice based on how others will feel." No. What I mean is simply make the choices that help you move forward in your life.

6. Am I doing this because it's easy or because it's what I want?

The easy route always seems more appealing, yes, but never take the easy route unless it's genuinely the one that will make you happy (and not just because it's easy). Trust me, good things come to those who 1) are patient, 2) hustle, and 3) never give up.

What are some questions you ask yourself before making a difficult decision? Is there one thing on which you will never settle?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Want to Be a Writer? 9 Young Journalists Get Real & Share Their Best Advice

I did not always know I wanted to be a writer. Don't get me wrong, I always knew I enjoyed writing but determining what exactly you want to do for the rest of your life... literally every day... is not as simple as "I think I want to be a writer."

Honestly, it wasn't even until I had a few internships that I fully realized writing was something out of which I could build a career.

Today, with more than 430 writing samples and counting, it's safe to say I am a writer — how strange does that sound? Truth be told though, I would not be where I am today without the internships I had, the outlets which graciously published my pieces when I was just beginning, and the incredible people I met along the way.

My best advice? Accept every opportunity that comes your way and when opportunities don't present themselves, make your own with the help of the people you meet throughout the journey.

I was lucky enough to meet incredible mentors and peers each place I went, seven of whom got real about their advice for both aspiring and current writers.


1. "It's always better to have done the interview, gone to the event, or pitched the story than to have not. I try to remind myself of this when there's an event I don't feel like attending or an interview I can't immediately use. Always better to have at least tried/experienced something than to be left wondering... [And] if you're having trouble getting something out, pretend you're writing an email to a friend. It's get it down/out. You can polish later." - Maggie McGrath, "Forbes"

2. "Don't be afraid to let the little quirks of your voice shine through in your writing. Especially with digital writing, it's so easy to be a cookie-cutter copy of anything that's out there, but it's more important to stay true to your own unique voice." - Mara Santilli, "Shape"

3. "Say yes to everything that comes your way and don't be afraid to ask to contribute or be involved in something. The worst that could happen is they say 'no,' but the goal is to get as much experience as you can. Even the smallest tasks can lead to new responsibilities or networking opportunities. Also, you will probably mess up at some point — literally everyone will — but it's all about taking it in stride, learning from your mistakes, and not letting it deter you." - Jinnie Chua, In Public Safety

4. "Never hesitate to put pen to paper when you're feeling inspired. It doesn't matter if your idea isn't fully formed, just give yourself the space to write. Rewriting will come later, but letting the creative energy flow is the best part of the process." - Kristin Magaldi, MTV

5. "Don't take anything too personally. Writing is a creative outlet and by nature personal, but that doesn't mean criticism or edits should be." Michelle Guerrere, Freelance Writer

6. "Critique is crucial for growth. So don't be aggressive, be receptive." - Laurise McMillan, Refinery29

7. "I've always been told to 'write what you know,' and I've found this to be incredibly obvious yet valuable. Most simply, it means to write with intention, purpose, and conviction. You can't force great writing, and if you don't buy it, no one else will. Write with heart." - Rebecca Fenton, MAKERS

8. "We are experiencing a fantastic moment in time where everyone has the opportunity to be a published writer. That being said, it doesn't mean all writing is created equal. While there is a great deal of quality content, there is much more noise. In order to create something of value, you must create something unique. Start with discovering your voice. I had a teacher in grade school who told me to write without thinking too much about the words. Let your thoughts come across the paper, she'd say. It is in that creative process that you'll find your voice, which will probably sound similar to your speaking voice. You can edit from there. Don't try to be something you're not. It's okay if you're not funny. It's okay if you prefer more simplistic vocabulary. And it's okay if you don't follow the rules you were taught in school. The best creatives never follow rules anyway." - Emily Raleigh, Spire & Co.

9. "Make sure to create your own opportunities and follow your own path. Don't worry about someone else's journey because how it worked out for them may not work the same for you. Just stay focused and keep pushing!" - Brittaney Trent, Yahoo Style & Beauty

Do you have advice for aspiring writers? Comment below with your words of wisdom.



Monday, March 27, 2017

Apartment Hunting? I Made These Mistakes So You Won't Have To (+ Downloadable)


Apartment hunting is seemingly easy enough, right? You just do a little searching, sign some papers, wait to get approved, and then move into your new home.

Well... no, not quite. And sadly, my roommate and I learned this the hard way when trying to find our first apartment in New York City about a year ago. In fact, we learned that there are a ton of things you should and should not do before and during your search.

Here are some of the steps that will be most helpful for you to follow so you can avoid what I did (and didn't) do to help save you 1) time, 2) money, and 3) your sanity:
FIRST, BEFORE APARTMENT VIEWING:
☐ Decide whether or not you want a roommate or roommates
☐ Set a budget
☐ Have all your paperwork together
— Different apartments sometimes require different paperwork, but you should keep a folder of the following essentials: 1) Employment letter on company head, 2) Recent pay stubs, 3) Bank statements from the last 2-3 months, 4) Recent W2 tax form, and 5) Copy of photo ID.
☐ Find a guarantor or co-signer if necessary
— If you are unemployed or do not make X amount times your rent, the building or property manager will likely require you to have a co-signer or guarantor. If this may be the case for you, make sure you have someone in mind to sign onto your lease and submit the above paperwork for said person.
☐ Make a list of wants and needs
☐ Do a thorough search on your own
— The best way to find out about open apartments is through your network. Your friends or family members may know someone who is leaving his/her apartment or another who needs a subletter or new roommate. So ask! See if your friends know of anyone moving out soon or if their building managers have other buildings available where you can look. The easiest thing is to hear from a friend (or friend of a friend, or friend of a friend of a friend, et cetera) that they have an option for you. If after asking around absolutely no one knows of anything open or anyone who needs a roommate, get on Google. Need help online? Try one of these sites as recommended by BuzzFeed, just don't get roped into letting people you contact help you out, they'll likely charge high fees. If all else fails, pay a company to help you out.
To break this down:
Step 1: Ask your network
Step 2: Search online
Step 3: Turn to professionals

THEN, DOWNLOAD THIS AS A GUIDE FOR APARTMENT VIEWING:

NEVER:
☐ Settle on the first apartment you see
— View at least a few options before applying to any apartments. You can always go back and apply to the first one if that ends up being the one you want.
☐ Use a broker without learning about him/her, his/her company, or his/her/its costs
— Brokers can be very pricey, especially in New York City and some buildings even have their own brokers, so if you don't do your research, you can really end up spending a lot more than you originally planned. Brokers fees can be anywhere from 6-17% of the year's rent while some apartments have no fees at all. Either way, determine what you are willing to pay before you even look at an apartment and research what each place will charge so you are not dreaming too big. Keep it in your budget so moving in doesn't have the burden of extra expenses.
☐ Leave without asking questions
— Ask all of your questions and then some. Important questions to ask: How safe is the surrounding area? Where is the nearest grocery store/pharmacy/doctor's office/etc? What's the best mode of transportation? Remember: certain building managers cannot and/or will not answer some questions so doing extensive research afterwards is extremely important.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

6 Ways To Stay Inspired When You Are In A Slump


It's only natural to get in a slump sometimes. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a musician, or have just had those days/weeks where things did not feel like they were coming as naturally, it's normal.

It is only human to make mistakes, have flaws, and experience moments of uncertainty and if I am being entirely honest, this moment of uncertainty happened for me... last week.

For one whole week I was completely unable to think of a blog post concept and even yesterday when I sat down to write this post on staying inspired, I couldn't find the words.

While I can't quite put my finger on why, I just didn't feel myself, my creative juices were pretty much stagnant, and I felt extra exhausted every day despite getting 7+ hours of sleep a night.

But, when you do something every day and put pressure on yourself to always give it your all and make it the best you can, it makes sense to have "those days" or those "weeks." So I kept telling myself that, because it really is okay.

Here are a few of the things I have learned to do when I have one of those moments:

1. Give myself a day or few days off.

Sometimes I will sit down to write a blog post and it just won't happen. Either I have the idea, but the words won't come or the idea flops. In this situation there are sadly only two options: 1. Write a bogus post that will not be helpful, exciting, or fun or 2. Take a day off... or as much time as you need. When the pressure is off, often my ideas start flowing again. Last week, I was pretty much out of solid ideas and now, Tuesday of the following week, it is finally coming to fruition. Time off often is the only answer. No, I am not suggesting you take a week off from your job or school because you are in a slump. I am simply saying that if you need a day or two to slow yourself down, you can do so without forgetting your priorities.

2. Take a break and come back to it.

Sometimes I don't need a full day to get back at it, I just need a few minutes or hours. If I am midway through a post and I start to slow down or I get tired, I'll take a break and leave it for later in the day. Breaks, whether short or long, make the world of a difference.

3. Think outside the box.

This actually seems so obvious and sort of ridiculous because if you can't find inspiration, "thinking outside the box" is not really possible. But hear me out! Sometimes if I am completely lost, I think about all of the things I would want to read that I have not read online or can write about in a different way. In this case, thinking outside the box means thinking outside of what everyone else is writing. One of the only ways to do that is to make personal posts. Yikes! Sometimes this idea can be daunting, but the truth is, only you can tell YOUR story. Frequently people get their inspiration from others, but some of the best ideas come from your own lived experiences. I always consider my personal struggles and/or successes from the week before, things I have recently done, or things I look forward to doing in the future to create posts that can be unique to me. (This blog post, for example, is entirely based off of something I went through last week).

4. Quality over quantity.

For me, ensuring that I get a weekly post published is not as important as making sure they are posts of which I can be proud. I think recently I have come to the realization that taking off the pressure to post every week and instead focusing on what I want to post when I can is entirely acceptable.

5. Brainstorm with others.

Do you ever have those moments throughout the day when you are like "someone should make a movie about this" or "someone should totally write something about this"? My answer: frequently. And, believe it or not, people do all the time. Ask those around you if there is something they have thought about recently — is there something new that interests them? Do they have any struggles they are going through that you could write about for your followers to relate? Successes? Do they want to contribute any of their ideas as a guest blogger? Friends and family may actually be your best inspiration for new ideas.

6. Find an alternate motivator

Having more than one hobby and/or outlet is key to finding inspiration, even if it's simply going to the gym to get your endorphins flowing when you are feeling uninspired. Does something outside of your main passion motivate you and help you relax? I like to try focusing on my other hobbies when I can't think of things to write so as to not get frustrated.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

March Motivation: The One Simple Thing You Should Do For Women's History Month

Since I started working at an outlet like MAKERS where women's stories are uncovered and celebrated in abundance, I have become increasingly interested in learning the stories of those around me on a daily basis.

Living in New York City, I am surrounded by people from all walks of life. On the subway, on the street, in the office, everywhere. Where are they from? Where are they going? Who do they love? What are their hobbies? Will their stories — no matter how unimportant they may seem — be passed along?

This constant curiosity made me realize just how easy it is for stories to get lost in time. Particularly for women. And though the award winning "Hidden Figures" film did an incredible job of uncovering the stories of NASA's "human computers" Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, just imagine all of the other women's stories that were lost in history... Especially those women who did not have an extravagant life with outstanding achievements.

So, since March is officially Women's History Month, I am hoping to hear the stories of even the seemingly average women and girls. Because every story deserves to be told.

Background Image From A Prettier Web

1. Find an outlet where you can submit personal content.
Many outlets accept personal testimonies or editorials through "contributor submissions." Sometimes, you may even get paid for these contributions! Three places that may be particularly useful for you:
  • The Huffington Post: "We're always looking for posts that are succinct, shareable and satisfying. Have something to say that nobody else is saying, or a personal story everyone will relate to? Send it to us"
  • Narratively: "Devoted to original and untold human stories, delivered in the most appropriate format for each piece, from writing to short documentary films, photo essays, audio stories and comics journalism. We are always interested in adding new, diverse voices to the mix and we pay for stories."
  • MAKERS Stories App: "The MAKERS Stories app aims to empower women to be their own storytellers and to change the world one story at a time."

2. Create and share a personal YouTube video.
While I am by no means a filmmaker, videos are one of the best ways to tell a story in a unique and eye-catching way. Whether you have a YouTube channel or just want to upload one video of you or a friend, this platform is definitely a promising option.

3. Write a blog post.
Celebrate 'you' with a special piece about yourself. Share your story with your followers so they get to know you on a personal level. Don't have a blog? Try posting your story or short personal essay on your social accounts. Facebook? Tumblr? Who knows, maybe even you can do it in 140 character parts on Twitter — no matter what you choose, you can get creative!

4. Jot it all down in your diary/journal.
If you don't feel comfortable making your story public or promoting it across social media, simply write it in your private diary or journal. Your story may not seem like much now, but over time you can add to it, update it, and watch your personal story unfold. Plus, even if your story may not seem "noteworthy" to strangers, your current/future children and grandchildren might enjoy reading it later in life... and you might, too.

5. Comment below and I will promote my favorites across social.
Tell me a small piece about what makes your story special in the comments section below! Throughout the month I will promote pieces of my favorite comments with the hashtag #ASprinkleOfHerstory. Be sure to leave your Twitter handle/Facebook link so I can tag you if you are chosen! Don't want to leave a comment? Share your story using this hashtag and I will happily retweet!


Who?
As some of you already know (hopefully most), my name is Taylor, I am 23-years-old, and to be honest, aside from my college entrance essay, I've never really written about myself, so bear with me as I am new to this.

The thing is, I have always loved to write. Whether it's about things that inspire me, the successes of empowering women, or a topic I feel will be helpful for readers, writing gives me an outlet to share my voice and connect with others in a powerful way.

What?
From the time I could walk, I was always taking dance classes. I never competed seriously and though I was far from the best (probably actually closer to the worst), it was a creative outlet that I held onto.

By the time high school came to an end, I decided I was going to move onto different things. High school was filled with ups and downs — ones that, in my young mind, felt like the happiest and worst times I would ever go through. But by the time graduation rolled around, I was ready to move on.


Where?
Eventually, I began my first classes as a full time student at Fordham University in New York. Here, I got my first internship and quickly realized I wanted to end up in a field in which whatever I created impacted those around me.

For me, these creations came in the form of writing. Through my college years, I applied to any and every open position, leading to internships at television shows, including "Inside Edition" and the "Rachael Ray Show" and magazines, including "Marie Claire" and "ELLE."

I wrote for my hometown's local newspaper, blogged for a startup, contributed to "I AM THAT GIRL" and "Spire & Co," became president of a campus club, and eventually ended up where I am today.


When?
Now, in the months following my college graduation, I have found myself increasingly curious about the stories of women. These stories are some of the very ones we tell at MAKERS, which is the very inspiration for my blog. I wanted to tell my own story in a series of posts that others could relate to, so that I could one day look back and see just how far I have come both professionally and personally.


Why?
Why this has all happened is quite the question, but regardless of the reason for it, I believe I have ended up here so I can use my words to influence others. Whether I have an impact on 5 million people or 7 over the course of my life, knowing that my words are out there and have been meaningful to at least one person — even myself — is enough to make it worth it.


Let's make sure we are a part of history! Tell me one thing about you or someone you know in the comment section below and/or share your story with #ASprinkleOfHerstory.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

11 Travel Hacks That Your Travel Agent Hasn't Told You


Wanderlust (n): A strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

Ever since I could even think about exploring the world and traveling to foreign places, I promised myself I was going to do so.

But of course, as things often do, priorities take over and the destinations on my bucket list took the backseat to my responsibilities.

For me, trying to get a degree while interning every semester/summer and working part time jobs took priority over traveling. It's tough (and pricey) to take off from school, work, or whatever else to travel for an extended period of time, isn't it?!

And often times, even if you don't have school/work or you can take the time off, chances are you have a child or children in school, a partner who is working and/or getting a degree, friends who have different days off than you do, and/or you don't really want to go alone.

Nevertheless, I'm done with making excuses on why I shouldn't travel and giving myself all of the reasons why I should. Because if not now, when?

So, since it's that time of year where travel is at its peak. I've gathered some of the best travel tips and tricks that your travel agent wouldn't tell you, to help you (and myself) get ready to jet set and go.

1. Choose the right destination.

While you can go almost anywhere with almost anyone, there are specific trips that are best for those specific someones in your life. Here are some suggestions of places to go with the different people in your life — and even where to go by yourself.

○ Flying solo?

According to Travel + Leisure, some of the best places for women to travel solo include:
          - Iceland
          - London, England
          - Kripalu Center in the Berkshires, Massachusetts
          - Washington, D.C.
          - Norway's Fjords
          - Okinawa, Japan
          - Stockholm, Sweden
          - Melbourne, Australia
          - Copenhagen, Denmark
          - Saba, Caribbean
          - Taipei, Taiwan
          - Salzburg, Austria
          - Austin, Texas
          - Dubrovnik, Croatia
          - Munich, Germany
          - Seattle, Washington

○ Traveling with friends?

Whether you're in college, recently graduated, or just looking for a fun trip with your girlfriends, the College Times listed 18 perfect places to travel with your best pals and they're definitely all on my list:

          - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
          - St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
          - Tuscany, Italy
          - Bermuda
          - The Bahamas
          - Nashville, Tennessee
          - Cinque Terre, Italy
          - Barcelona, Spain
          - Budapest, Hungary
          - Prague, Czech Republic
          - Stockholm, Sweden
          - Las Vegas, Nevada
          - Cappadocia, Turkey
          - Lisbon, Portugal
          - Vienna, Austria
          - New York, New York
          - Athens, Greece

○ Exploring with a lover?

Condé Nast Traveler concluded that the 16 most romantic places to stay in the world are located in the following places, check the original article for the exact hotel locations:

          - Venice, Italy
          - Maui, Hawaii
          - Barnard, Vermont
          - Ocho Rios, Jamaica
          - Paris, France
          - Ladera, St. Lucia
          - Riviera Maya, Mexico
          - Newport, Rhode Island
          - An Lam Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
          - Napa Valley, California
          - Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives
          - Udaipur, India
          - Franschhoek, South Africa
          - Little Torch Key, Florida
          - Wadigi Island, Fiji
          - Bali, Indonesia

○ Sightseeing with family?

The best family destinations around the world, according to National Geographic are:
          - Amalfi Coast, Italy
          - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
          - The Great Wall, China
          - Hong Kong
          - Iceland's Ring Road
          - Machu Picchu, Perú
          - New York, New York
          - Marrakech, Morocco
          - Havana, Cuba
          - Paris, France
          - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


2. Search for flights in private mode.

Once you choose your destination, the next step is, of course, to book the flights and place you will stay. But, before searching for any of it, make sure your Internet browser is in private or incognito mode.

To do so, go to "File" > "New Incognito Window" (in Chrome) or "File" > "New Private Window" (in Safari or Firefox). This will prevent airline or other travel sites from using your search history to determine where you have traveled and what you have previously paid, which could potentially help safe you money depending on when you are searching.


3. Subscribe to receive airline emails.

If you have a preferred airline, make sure you are subscribed to its email list. Whether it be Delta, Jet Blue, American Airlines, or another, most have email lists where you can receive fare alerts, special deals, and flash sales to make sure you're getting the absolute best deal.


4. Search "airline name + promo code" on the Internet or look on the airline’s Facebook page for discount codes.

Whether or not you are subscribed to an email list, always be sure to do a simple Google search to see if you can save even more. Search "*insert airline name* promo code" to see if there are any discount codes that will work to give you an even better deal. Not seeing any through your search? Try checking out the airline's Facebook page for discount codes or try out my favorite site (for all kinds of discount codes), Retail Me Not.


5. Rent a house/condo.

If you're traveling for more than a few nights, it's important to make sure you're not only saving on your flight, but also saving on other accommodations. Unless you have credit card points or a timeshare, often times hotels are not the best bang for your buck. Searching for options on sites like Airbnb or VRBO and paying a flat weekly price can often save you a lot of money.


6. Save on car rentals through your memberships.

Should you choose to rent a car — whether it's for a road trip where you don't need a flight or for transportation around your destination — there are ways to save if you search. Check to see if any of your memberships will help save you money. Those like Costco (Costco Travel is also great for vacation packages, cruise deals, and amusement/theme park discounts) and AAA often offer great prices on rental cars.


7. Traveling with one partner? Reserve the aisle and window seats.

If you're traveling with one other person, try reserving the aisle and window seat. Most people don't want the middle seat, so you are more likely to get the whole row to yourself. Should the flight be fully booked and someone does end up sitting next to you, I'm 99.9% sure they'll be happy to switch with you for the window or aisle seat so you're next to your travel buddy.


8. Roll your clothes when packing.

Pack like a pro and roll your clothing instead of folding it all in order to save space. Also try: putting your socks inside your shoes and putting the heaviest items at the bottom toward the wheels to make it easier to roll.


9. Save Google Maps for offline viewing.

Especially if you are traveling abroad where you won't have access to cellphone service (cheaply) and often times wifi, it's important to make sure you have your destination's maps saved on your phone for offline access. To learn how to do so, click here.

10. Pre-order meals at the airport with the Grab app.

Download the Grab app, which is available at 40 different airports in the United States, to have food ready and delivered to you at your terminal and/or on the way to your gate.


11. Take advantage of airport wifi.

Now this is an absolute lifesaver. Anil Polat of foXnoMad blog, created this "always-up-to-date list of airport wireless passwords around the world."


Do you have any helpful travel tips or tricks? Comment below so I can add.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why You Should Love Yourself First


Before I begin, I'd like to point out the fact that I am by no means an expert on love or relationships. I do, however, believe that from the relationships I have been in, I learned a lot about myself. Particularly what I want in a relationship, what I don't want in a relationship, and also what I deserve in a relationship.

On a more personal note, I've had my fair share of relationship mishaps in the past — as many of us have. I've been heartbroken, I've been the heartbreaker, I've been given far less love than I deserve (and made the mistake of believing that's all I deserved), and I've been guilty of wondering if it was, in fact, me who was the problem.

But between having my first boyfriend at 14 to my current relationship at the ripe age of 23, I've thankfully grown and matured, made mistakes and learned from them, and recognized and nurtured the important relationships in my life.

Along the way, I found myself, accepted my flaws, and recognized my worth. And as soon as I did, as soon as I decided I would focus on myself, I ended up in a healthier and happier relationship than I could ever dream up.

I've learned, because of this, there is no love quite as powerful as the one you have with yourself. Self-love opens the door to a world of possibilities. Whether that's a romantic relationship, a friendship, a career opportunity, or anything else, you have the ability to make it happen.


"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world."
Lucille Ball

"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."
— Marilyn Monroe

"You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company."
Diane von Furstenberg

"You alone are enough, you have nothing to prove to anyone."
— Maya Angelou

"Believing in our hearts that who we are is enough is the key to a more satisfying and balanced life."
Ellen Sue Stern

"If you wouldn't say it to a friend, don't say it to yourself."
— Jane Travis

"Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness."
Deborah Day

"In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different."
— Coco Chanel

"Self-esteem comes from being able to define the world in your own terms and refusing to abide by the judgments of others."
Oprah Winfrey

"I am allowed to have healthy self-esteem."
Amy Poehler

"If you don't see your worth, you'll always choose people who don't see it either. When your self esteem rises, your life follows."
Mandy Hale


Have you started to love yourself? How did you learn to do so? What was the hardest part?

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