Monday, June 19, 2017

8 Ways to Challenge Yourself In Summer 2017

Here's to Summer 2017: Your Unofficial List of Challenges

When I left my job at the beginning of May to prepare for my next adventure, I made a promise to myself.

What I wanted was a few months to relax, travel, and think of how I wanted the next step of my journey to look, but what I didn't want was to sleep my summer away, stay in my pajamas every day, and eat my weight in junk food. Because all of those things, honestly, are just too easy.

I promised myself I'd live in balance: Be productive, yet relaxed; travel, but also enjoy time at home; write, without allowing it to feel like "work"; et cetera.

Of course, though, some of these "rules" I made are easier than others. Rainy weather often makes me want to stay in my pjs and binge-watch Netflix all day & increased humidity does not make me any more motivated to get moving.

So, just as people often write down yearly resolutions, I decided to create a list to hold me accountable AND I'd love for you to join me.

Together, let's kick butt this summer. Here are my challenges to... us (but mostly me):

1. Maintain a steady schedule.

I am so used to waking up around 8am to get to work Monday-Friday, but without a 9-5, life can become a blur. What day is it again? KIDDING... But, seriously - I never want to forget what day it is, because that's when you know you're not on any sort of schedule. Waking up at the same time, setting daily priorities (especially on the weekends), and going to bed at a normal hour (something I need to fix), are all a part of a healthy and steady schedule.

2. Stay healthy.

Getting sick happens and since my immune system is fairly nonexistent (at least in the winter), I'm bracing myself to beat the heat and the colds. By taking daily vitamins, eating a balanced diet (or almost balanced + a little extra room for my sweet tooth... but cut me some slack), and staying active every day, I think I've got this in the bag.

3. Wake up early every day.

This will definitely be easier once I stop going to bed at 3am, but summer technically hasn't started yet, so just you wait. My goal is to wake up every day around the same time (time TBD) and just a little bit later on the weekends. I will keep you updated on how this goes as this is definitely one of the biggest challenges for me on the list.

4. Get a good amount of R&R.

Key words here are "good amount." Rest and relaxation is important in moderation each day, but these are by no means the only things I will be doing each day. This R&R is a commitment to investing time in myself, but knowing when enough's enough. See above & below for important tasks if you're ever wondering "Well, what else should I be doing?"


Here's to Summer 2017: Your Unofficial List of Challenges

5. Collaborate with someone new.

Collaboration will look different for everyone, but whether it's working with a coworker to get a job done better, faster, and stronger or teaming up with a fellow blogger/creative to work on a new project, now's the chance! This summer, I hope to collaborate with other bloggers or brands to create something I haven't tried before.

6. Make a new friend.

This one is tough because making friends after college is well hard. But between attending conferences and traveling, I hope to meet new and interesting people along the way, some of whom I might be able to call my new pals.

7. Do something that frightens you.

You know the classic quote about "nothing good coming from comfort zones?" (or whatever it is, you know the one) Well, I'm going to step out of mine and do something that frightens me. What will you do that frightens you?

8. Travel somewhere new.

I will be traveling to a few different destinations this summer, but one place for sure I have never been: Nashville, Tennessee. Here's to hoping there will be other spots checked off my travel bucket list.

WILL YOU TAKE THE CHALLENGE?

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Here's to Summer 2017: Your Unofficial List of Challenges

What else would you add to this list? Is there one promise you made to yourself this summer that you hope to achieve?


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Here Are 7 Simple Ways To Invest In Yourself Every Day (+ Checklist)

The following post contains SHOPSTYLE affiliate links. More information is located at the bottom of this post.
Here Are 7 Simple Ways To Invest In Yourself Every Day (+ Checklist)
Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California — The 2017 MAKERS Conference

If there's one thing for sure, it's that investing in yourself — whether it's time, energy, and/or money — is always worth it.


I know, some of you are probably thinking "ALWAYS?!" And my answer to that is simple: yes!

I use the word "invest" because you are not a short-term commitment. Devoting yourself to making "you" happy, enriching your future, and nurturing your relationships is so so important. But, as I've said time and time again, happiness looks different for everyone, so what you choose to invest in will likely look different as well.

For me, I've made it my commitment to use my next few months of "down time" to grow both personally and professionally. I've made it my goal to attend several leadership conferences throughout the summer, travel, stay active every day (which involves a lot of bike rides on the beach), and write every week.

Because... isn't one of the most important investments we can make (if not the most important investment) in ourselves? Whether that means finally buying yourself that domain name you've been wanting for your website/blog for the last year or taking a "lunch break" to go get that massage, I say DO IT. As long as it's within reason, that is...

Here are 7 simple ways you can invest in yourself today and every day (and the things on my wish list for each):

1. Pamper yourself

Okay, so I know I am certainly not the only one who enjoys a good pampering. Whether you have the money to splurge at a salon or not, this is not an impossible task. Trust me, there are options! I know because I have a Pinterest board of hair/beauty inspirations and DIYs. Because no matter what your situation may be, you can pamper yourself. Can't go to the nail salon? Buy a bottle of nail polish! Don't have the money to buy a bath bomb? Make one from the stuff you already have at home! No matter what, you deserve that time to be pampered, even if it means just soaking in a hot bath.

If you do have some extra cash to spend, here are a few options for your spa day (ones I am DYING to try soon):


2. Jot everything down

One thing I find extremely helpful and cathartic is journaling. Though I admit, I normally write down most of my thoughts, questions, and ideas in the Notes app on my iPhone, I have always hoped to one day be organized enough to put everything that's ever crossed my mind in an adorable journal. But, whether it's in a notebook or on your phone, writing down or typing out your daily feelings is really beneficial.

I mean, common, look at all of these options. I've got to kick the iPhone habit:

3. Get up and move

If you're anything like me, the word "exercise" doesn't really get you motivated. But, even though I'm not a gym rat (except for maybe a week here and there every 2-3 months), I do love getting my body up and moving. My personal preferences? Anything active that doesn't feel like "exercise." Paddle ball on the beach, bike riding, roller blading, ice skating, jumping on a trampoline, hula hooping, dancing, walking — you get the picture. No matter what your personal preference is for getting your blood pumping, do it, even if it's for 20 minutes per day.

4. Practice yoga and/or meditate


5. Do something for which your future self will thank you

Yes, I know, this one is very vague, but that's because everyone's future looks so different. If you could do something today that would make your life easier or better tomorrow, a week, a month, or a year from now, what would it be?

6. Make a decision on something about which you have been indecisive

I feel like most of us have those things we have kind of forgotten about or we keep pushing aside because we don't really have to make a decision about it just yet, but it's getting to the point where it looks like it just may not ever get solved. Try to remember one thing you never made a decision about in the past and make that decision. Don't have something you've ever left undecided? That makes one of us! Collect $200.

7. Take 30 minutes to do something you love

In the grand scheme of things, 30 minutes is really not a lot of time in the day, so setting aside half an hour to focus on your hobby is not an unreasonable thing to do. No more, "I don't have time to read." By making it a priority each day, it will become part of your daily routine and feel like less of a luxury and more of a priority.

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Here Are 7 Simple Ways To Invest In Yourself Every Day (+ Checklist)

As previously stated, this post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated for any purchases made through this post. For more information, please visit the The Sprinkle Blog's Disclaimer page.

How do you invest in yourself? What activities do you find make you the happiest?
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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

13 Badass Articles You Must Read To Help You Thrive In All Aspects of Life

13 Badass Articles You Must Read To Help You Thrive In All Aspects of Life

There are moments in life when we have questions.

The good and the bad in life is that we will likely never know the answers to everything — no matter how much the Internet tells us. Many times the answers to our questions are not simply just fact vs. fiction because some questions can only be answered through experience.

No, Google can't send us to Dictionary.com for a straight-forward answer to "Am I doing the right thing in this situation?" but it can bring you to sites where writers have gone through similar things. Who have already experienced it.

It seems kind of like cheating your way through The Game of Life, but the beauty in it is knowing that, while we are still on our own to experience the world, we are never alone.

Think about it: often millions of others have gone through the very things that worry us, cause us fear, leave us uncertain, or even make us excited, so why not see how they can help? After all, we're all in this together.

That's where reading others' personal testimonies matter most to me and why I am constantly pinning content to save for later and to circulate the very things that help me, so in turn, they help others.

Below are 13 pretty badass articles that will help you thrive in all aspects of life, from women who know sh!+.


LIFE

1. "You Know Saying 'No' Is Important For A Healthy Life. Here's How To Actually Do It" by Alena Gerst, mindbodygreen
2. "How to Cultivate Purpose During Difficult Times" by Aleah Eileen Milliner, Darling Magazine

HEALTH & WELLNESS

3. "The Only Thing You Need To Know About Stress" by Penny Carroll, Collective Hub
4. "Why You Need to Slow Down (and How to Actually Do It)" by Chelsea Becker, The Everygirl

LOVE

6. "The Best Love Advice I’ve Ever Received" by Dr. Shannon Kolakowski, HuffPost

13 Badass Articles You Must Read To Help You Thrive In All Aspects of Life

CAREER

7. "6 Ways To Use Body Language Like a Boss (Literally)" by Meredith Lepore, Levo
8. "How To Write An Email (No, Seriously)" by Molly Erman, Girlboss
9. "5 Effective Ways to Curb Your Work Anxiety" by Fairygodboss, SheKnows
10. "9 Ways To Negotiate The Raise You Deserve - And Get It" by Moira Forbes, ForbesWoman

MONEY

11. "Five Things You Need To Know About Investing" by Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest
12. "These Apps Will Find All the Money You Forgot You Were Spending" by Deena Drewis, Girlboss
13. "50 Easy Ways To Save Money" by Kayla Buell, Gen Y Girl

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13 Badass Articles You Must Read To Help You Thrive In All Aspects of Life

Which one of the articles above was most helpful for you? Are there other articles or books that have helped you thrive?


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Monday, May 29, 2017

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After Graduation: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After College: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

I will be the first to admit that I was extremely worried about life post-college.

Mid-second semester senior year (March 2016), I went on a retreat with a group of classmates and it was one of the most revealing and healing things I could have done. At the retreat, we were instructed to write a letter to our future selves, which we would read a year later — a letter I wrote about in a previous blog post.

In the letter I told myself about how badly I hoped to have a full-time job a year later in order to alleviate the anxieties I felt as a then soon-to-be graduate.

Between the personal and peer pressure of everything that was expected of a college grad, I did not think there was another option for me. I thought getting a job immediately, moving into my first apartment, and living the perfect adult life was how it had to be.

The questions from friends and family were always the same: "What are your plans after graduation?" "Do you have a job?" "What will your salary be?"

And while everyone had the same outward appearance of being put together, I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only one feeling the stress. The pressure was a lot and it was not really something anyone discussed. It was an "I got this" attitude mixed with an unspoken internal dialogue that constantly asked "Are you freaking out as much as I am?"

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong friends, but I think I came to find that almost everyone dreaded the uncertainty of graduation day for one reason or another.

So when I got the dream fellowship, relief seeped over me. It was one less thing for me to worry about having to find and one more thing checked off the list of things I was "supposed" to do after college.

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After College: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

But here's my question: Who really makes that checklist anyway? You know, that list of things we're supposed to do or the one with the "right" ways to do it?

My answer: Who knows? So unless that checklist will truly and genuinely make you happy, I say give it a toss. Instead of following that list, follow your heart.

Take the time to decide what you want to do, without rushing. Here are the things I wish someone had told me before, during, or shortly after graduation, realizations that have since helped me immensely:

1. Take the time you need.

If there is one thing I would scream at the top of a rooftop it's "take your time." Your dream does not have an expiration date. In fact, there is no rush to figure out what your dream may be — it could change like a million + one times anyway. If you do not know what you want, it is absolutely okay.

2. Settling doesn't always have to be an option.

The only time you should settle is if there is absolutely no other option for you. Otherwise, always make the choice that will make you happiest. Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before settling for anything.

3. It's ok to carve your own path.

Your priorities may be different than those of others, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. Decide what matters most to you and never stray from those priorities.

4. Keep your friends close, especially those you can't see every week.

When you're not constantly surrounded by your friends on campus, it can be tough to see them unless you actively set aside time to do so. My advice? Do it. Set aside time to see them and stay in touch. Even if you can't see them every week, even a quick text or call can go a long way.

5. You have all the tools you need to succeed, so you will find the path that works for you.

Bottom line: You have absolutely everything you need to succeed in life right at your fingertips. Take the tools and knowledge you have, use them to motivate yourself and follow your dreams, and everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

6. Maintain the connections you make.

Whether it's with your teachers, classmates, people you met during extracurricular activities, fellow interns, bosses, or others, make sure you keep those connections alive. Nurture the relationship as you would a friendship, because what comes around goes around and you never know when you can help one another.

7. The choices you make are not permanent.

It is not the end of the world if you realize any decision you made was not the right one for you. Very few things in life are permanent, so becoming comfortable with and open to change and taking each moment as it comes is vital.

8. It's never too late.

Because nothing is permanent, I also strongly believe it is never too late. For anything. Take that and run with it — and let it be what comforts you whenever you are considering a new path.

9. Don't be afraid to tell people to mind their business.

No, this is not something I literally recommend... I was half kidding. But what I mean by this is that it is not necessarily important to let everyone know every little thing you are doing when they ask (if you don't want to). People will always be nosey and unless you feel comfortable discussing it, simply tell respond to their questions with honest, yet matter-of-fact statements like "I'm loving life" or "I'm figuring it out."

10. Remind yourself it's okay to feel the emotions that the next year or so will bring.

Senior year and the year after graduation will be a mix of emotions and they all are 117% normal. Let yourself be any and all of the emotions that come your way.


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If you are a senior or recent grad, what worries/questions (if any) do you have? If you've "been there, done that," what advice do you have for those going through it now?

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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

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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.


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