Top 5 Things to Do in Grand Cayman

1.  Stingray City-  It’s name suggests that it’s a commercial, unauthentic, man-made experience but don’t be fooled; this unique spot offers the only opportunity to swim with more than two dozen wild Atlantic Southern Stingrays in the world.  Stingray City is, in fact, a sand bar located just a couple miles off of the coast.  Here, wild stingrays (barbs and all) gather around the sandbar in hopes of being hand fed by the thousands of visitors that stop by each year.  Although the animals are wild, you are under the guidance of trained guides.  I got so comfortable that I kissed a stingray and even got a stingray massage!

2.  Cayman Turtle Farm- The turtle farm offers a hands on, educational experience for young and old alike. The farm rescues injured sea turtles and helps nurse them back to health.  All tours are self-guided and you can see the turtle farm in less than 40 minutes.  Hours of operations are 8:30 am to 5 pm. The farm is well worth your time.  I fell in love the with creatures instantly.

3.  Seven Mile Beach-  Looking to spend a bit of quality time with the sun gods during your visit?  Look no further!  Seven Mile Beach is a haven for sun bathers.  This 5.5 mile stretch of public beach offers cabanas, bars, shops, and restaurants.

4.  Blow Holes- If you find yourself on the east side of the island, make sure you stop at the Blow Holes.  The water pressure in underwater caverns causes a large geyser to spray high out of the water through the petrified reefs.  Spend some time examining the incredible reef formations and cool off in the sea spray.

5.  Fishin’-  There are several companies in the area that can organize fishing trips for you.  A private vessel starts off at around $300 per day.

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501 Must Visit Cities (#’s 6 – 10)

Last Christmas my mom bought me a book called “501 Must-Visit Cities” which has served as great inspiration for my list.  In fact, after looking through this book, I decided that I wanted to visit as many of these cities as I can.  Here are 5 of the cities that I have already crossed off the list. (See #’s 1 – 5)

Reykjavik, Iceland

When I was a little Elle, my family moved to a cold, lonely little island in the Atlantic known as Iceland.  We lived in Keflavik for 3 years.  While we were there, my parents took us kids to all of the highlights of the island.  Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital city, is great for shopping, bustling coffee shops and pulsating nightlife.

Toronto, Canada

My father is the king of what I like to call, “In and Outs”.  When we lived in Chicago, he drove us kids to Iowa, got off at the first exit and turned us right back around… just so we could say we’ve been to Iowa.  Yes.  That really happened.  The same damn thing happened after my grandfather passed away.  The family drove from Florida to Upstate New York to attend his funeral.  Afterwards, we drove to Niagara Falls.  After seeing the horseshoe shaped waterfalls, we drove across the border into Canada.  We drove around a couple of the streets in Toronto and less than an hour later we were on our way back to America.  True story.  Clearly I need to go back and revisit Toronto (and Iowa for that matter) so that I can experience it properly.

Atlanta, Georgia

I’m told Atlanta is a dangerous place.  I have yet to see it.  In fact, I have once spent the night sleeping on the streets of Downtown Atlanta (I failed to mention that in “Hey, could you hit the lights?“) and didn’t have a single incident.  The amount of police presence in the city is incredible.  There are cops everywhere.  Unfortunately, my Atlanta visits have been limited to concert experiences (Hanson, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, etc) and my hilarious trip to the Georgia Aquarium.  I’d love to go back and visit the historical sites and the High Museum of Art.

Bucket List Items Completed Here: Visit the Georgia Aquarium 

Chicago, Illinois

Las Vegas, Nevada

Surfs Up, Bottoms Down

Florida and water go hand-in-hand.  No matter where you are in the Sunshine State, you’re never more than 60 miles from the beach.  It’s a tough gig but someone has to do it.  Snorkeling, paddle boarding,  boating, swimming with sharks or dolphins, jet skiing… this is Florida.  This is the Salt Life.

Strangely, most outsiders assume that all Floridiots surf.  That’s like saying all Yankees know how to ski.  False.  In fact, I didn’t have my first lesson until a couple of summers ago.  My friend K and I went to the beach with The Oceanways.  Mr. Oceanway brought his surfboard along so he could teach his son Turtle how to ride the waves.  I watched the 9 year old boy paddle out to sea with his dad, wait patiently for the perfect crest and ride the wave like a pro.

If Turtle could do it, I could do it.

When the guys came back up to the sand I asked Mr. Oceanway if he would show me how to surf.  Now my track record in the water isn’t the greatest– capsizing boats (3 of them) and getting rescued by lifeguards aren’t unfamiliar to me.  Knowing this I was convinced that I would fail at this but I was determined to at least try it.

Mr. Oceanway and I waded out into the chilly Atlantic and he helped me mount the board.

Related Articles:  Poseidon, Look at Me, Boating and Things of That Nature, The Dolphins Make Me Cry, Swimming with Sharks

I’m a wanderer, I have no place or time

I’ve got to admit, I look pretty good with a backpack strapped to my back.  Wandering suits me.

As you may have deduced, I am a dreamer.  I have big plans.  I have spoken openly about my plans to move abroad when I finish up with my Bachelor’s Degree at Flagler college.  My plan is to teach English somewhere in Asia.  This idea hasn’t settled well with everyone that I know but overall, people have been supportive.  I’ve already completed my TEFL Certification and I’ll be graduating this time next year.

The ball is rolling.  But what happens when a wanderer starts settling down?  What happens when plans start to unravel?  When I first started down this path, I was gung-ho.  I photographed a ton of my belongings and even started to sell some of my artwork.  But after that, things started to come to a halt.

What has happened?

  1. I moved.  I went from being rent free to suddenly having more bills to pay.  This meant all of the money that I intended on setting aside for this journey was now going towards rent and utilities.  After spending a year at the condo, I’ve moved again.  And in 6 months time, I’ll be unpacking boxes once more.  In a sense, I already have become a nomad.
  2. Love happened.  The idea of packing up and leaving  is a lot more feasible when you’re going at it alone.  It’s hard enough summoning up the courage to leave everyone you know behind, but it’s even more difficult to ask the same of someone else.  We’ve spoken about my intentions and Wires has told me I should still go but I can’t imagine going alone.  Being apart for just a week was hard enough, I can’t imagine a full year.
  3. Health issues.  This isn’t something that I talk about openly.  I have an anxiety disorder.  After my explosion, I suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  I have been a hot mess since.  I wasn’t able to go into my backyard (where the accident happened) for more than half a year.  It would take about 14 months before I was able to be around fire again.  To this day, any time someone catches me off guard, or I hear an unexpected noise, I become paralyzed with fear.  Anxiety has become part of my every day life.  I have been prescribed medicine but there are times when it simply isn’t enough.  There are times where it becomes so strong that it makes me physically ill and causes abdominal pain.Situations that wouldn’t have phased me in the past now cause me to panic.  I can’t deal with large crowds of people, or even having a group of people standing around me when I’m sitting down.

    I don’t deal well with the unknown.  Even things such as travelling can set me off.  You should see me go through security.  Until I get this under control, a feat like going abroad is not feasible right now.

    Even worse, the anxiety has taken a toll on my health.  I don’t sleep as well as I used to.  I toss and turn, have nightmares or have problems falling asleep because I’m worried about something so minute that it wouldn’t bother the average person.  The anxiety has caused me physical pain even.

  4. Puppy breath.  I got a puppy!  Her name is Lady Belle and she is the cutest thing in the world.  Having her will make travelling around a bit harder.

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None of this means that my TEFL adventure is over.  There’s no telling what will happen in the future.  I still hope to go overseas to teach for a bit… it’s just a matter of when and where at this point.  The only thing that has really been ruled out, at this point, is my RTW trip.  Which, as much as that sucks, it isn’t the end of the world.  You better believe that I will still be getting out there and seeing the world… just in a different manner than I intended to.

Florida Breweries

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Since kicking off my Drink Around the World Challenge my palette has changed quite a bit.  I’ve sampled some incredible tasting beers… and some not so great ones as well. I have expanded my drinking horizons and I can proudly say that I no longer drink crap beer!

I have decided to add another beer oriented goal to my list so my palette can get exposed to even more ales.  Fellow bucket lister Jessica is on a quest to visit all of the breweries in North Carolina. I’m borrowing this idea for my newest goal: Visit all of the breweries in Florida.  After a bit of research, I have found 64 different breweries that are open to the public here in the Sunshine State.  Sadly, I’ve been to only 4 of them.

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Engine 15, in Jax Beach, and Ragtime, in Atlantic Beach, are just minutes from my house.  In fact, it’s within biking distance and would make for a great ride on sunny days.  A1A Ale Works is just a couple of blocks from my campus at Flagler and the Budweiser Brewery is just five minutes from my parents house.   Naturally, these are the 3 that I’ve visited first.  But there are many more that aren’t too far away.  I look forward to branching out and checking out these breweries.

City

Brewery

Visited

Atlantic Beach

Ragtime Tavern, Seafood & Grill

Yes

Boca Raton

Brewzzi Brewing

The Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery

Boynton Beach

Due South Brewing Company

Bradenton

Little Giant Brewery

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Brewing

Coral Gables

Titanic Brewery and Restaurant

Coral Springs

Big Bear Brewing

Crystal River

Copp Brewery

Destin

McGuire’s Irish Pub and Brewery

Dunedin

Dunedin Brewery & Public House

Seventh Sun Brewing

Fernandina Beach

Karibrew Brew, Pub and Grill

Fort Walton Beach

Props Brewery and Grill

Gainesville

Alligator Brewing

Swamp Head Brewery

Gulfport

Peg’s Cantina and Brew Pub

Hollywood

Organic Brewery

Homestead

Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Brewery

Jacksonville

Anheuser-Bush InBev

Yes

Bold City Brewery

Intuition Ale Works

River City Brewing

Seven Bridges Grille and Brewery

Jacksonville Beach

Engine 15 Brewing Company

 Yes

Green Room Brewing, LLC

Key West

Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill

Lake Buena Vista

Big River Grille and Brewing Works

Largo

Barley Mow Brewing

Longwood

The Hourglass Brewery

Marco Island

Marco Island Brewery

Melbourne

Charlie and Jake’s Brewery and BBQ

Florida Beer Company

Miami

Gordon Biersch Brewing

Miami Beach

Abbey Brewing Company

Minneola

Lagniappe Brewing Co.

Mount Dora

Mount Dora Brewing

Naples

Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant

Odessa

Big Storm Brewery

Orange Park

Brewer’s Pizza, Inc

Orlando

Orlando Brewing Partners

Palm Harbor

Lagerhaus Brewery & Grill

Pensacola

McGuire’s Irish Pub and Brewery

Pensacola Bay Brewing

Ponte Vedra

Aardwolf Pub & Brewery

St Augustine

A1A Ale Works

Yes

Mile Marker Brewing

Sarasota

Urban Street Food & Brewery

Sarasota Brewing

Seminole

Rapp Brewing Company

Spring Hill

Brooksville Brewing

Duke’s American Grill & Sports Brewery

Tallahassee

Momo’s Market Street Brew Pub

Proof Brewing Company

Tampa

Cigar City Brewing

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Three Palms Brewing

Yuengling Brewing Company

Tarpon Springs

Saint Somewhere Brewing Company

Tequesta

Corner Café & Brewery

Tequesta Brewing Company

West Palm Beach

Brewzzi Brewing

Winter Park

Cask & Larder

Shipyard Emporium Market, Bakery & Brew Pub

4/64

Bottoms up!

I’d Like to Thank The Academy

It’s not every day that you get nominated for an award.  It’s even cooler when you’re nominated for the same award by two different people in the same week. Melissa & Lilian (hey ya’ll!) both recently put me up for the Liebster award.

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The rules go a little something like this:

  1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
  2.  Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
  3.  Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
  4.  Go to their page and tell them.
  5.  No tag backs!

Seems easy enough.

Here are my answers to Melissa’s questions:

1. Why did you start blogging, and more importantly why have you chosen to continue it over the years?

I started my first blog when I was in high school.  It was crap.  I would talk about my day to day experiences and use it in lieu of writing in a journal.  Over the years my writing evolved into a bucket list blog and Veni Vidi Vici was born.  I continue to blog because it holds me accountable for completing my bucket list goals.

2. What was the ONE most important moment of 2012 for you, and why?

I suppose the single most important moment for me in 2012 is the moment I fell in love.  I know: gag, right?  But seriously.  I’ll share more about it with you on Sunday but this strange tingling in my heart has changed the path in which I plan to embark on.  

3. If you were on a deserted island and could have any three things, what would they be?

A life raft… because eventually I’ll have the urge to get up and go to another island. Johnny Depp because clearly the man knows what he’s doing in a scenario like this and he’ll come equipped with rum.  (In the event that Mr. Depp is unavailable, I’ll substitute Robin Williams instead).  Thirdly, I would bring my favorite travel accessory: a sarong.  I can think of countless uses for it on a deserted island.

4. What is your current favorite song that I should be listening to?

“Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert

5. What is one favorite blog post you have written? (post a link!)

Check out my Best Dozen Posts of 2012

6. Name one of your guilty pleasures.

Here are two of them.  Coffee and these guys.

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7. If you could give a piece of advice to yourself when you were 15, what would it be?

The trip that you’re about to embark on is going to change your life.  Learn from you mistakes.  Savor every minute of it. 

8. What book are you looking forward to reading in the near future?

I’m looking forward to starting the second book in the Percy Jackson series.

9. Tell your readers something they may not know about you!

Despite the fact that I’m participating in the Drink Around the World Challenge and I plan on visiting all of the breweries in the state of Florida (more on this topic coming Saturday!)… I’m actually allergic to alcohol.  It causes me to sneeze and liquors tend to give me a fever, especially tequila.  

10. You’re told that you have to drop one of your social media accounts- which one, and why?

I don’t think I could ever give up Facebook, I use it to connect with many of my followers.  I’d have to pick Twitter, but only because of the character limit.  

11. What is one thing that you truly could not live without?

Music.

Here are my answers to Lilian’s questions:

1. What’s your favourite place in the whole world?

It’s hard for me to narrow it down to just once destination but the island of St. John has always been one of my favorites.

2. What has been your worst travel mishap or misadventure?

Where do I begin?  Check out my post, “How I Dealt With the 5 Worst Things That Have Happened to Me While Travelling” post.  I’ve had some pretty crazy mishaps.  

3. What is the best dish you have had while while travelling?

Ooh, good question! I love checking out mom and pop places while I’m traveling.  One of my favorite has been Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in San Diego.

4. Show us your favourite travel photograph!

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5. What do you look for most in a destination? Is it nice weather, night-life, culture, luxury, adventure or something else?

Beaches and adventure!  Give me the sun, sand, and salt!

6. What would you look for in a travel companion? Or do you prefer to travel solo?

I actually enjoy travelling alone.  I hate travelling in big groups.  If I’m going to travel with a friend or two… we all must be understanding that I’m in charge of the itinerary ;)

7. What’s you favourite colour?

blue

8. What item could you not travel without?

My camera.

9. What type of accommodation do you prefer while travelling?

All I need is a comfortable bed to rest my head at night.  I typically don’t spend much time in my room when I’m travelling.

10. Do you prefer to travel fast or slow?

I prefer slow travel, but my article Cruising: Speed Dating for Travelers explains why I cruise.

11. What’s your favourite thing about travelling?

Stepping out of my comfort zone.  Learning about new cultures.  Experiencing new things.  

Here are 11 things about me:

  1. I am a dreamer and a planner.  This is a dangerous combination.  I have so many huge goals for myself but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I probably won’t be able to achieve them all.
  2. I just got a brand new puppy!  Her name is Lady Belle.  She’s absolutely perfect.  But with her comes the realization that I’ve started settling down.483120_10151387524488614_295374191_n
  3. I have a horrible case of anxiety and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  These conditions make traveling a little more difficult for me.  You should see how nervous I get going into Customs. I’ll go more in depth about this next week.
  4. The picture above?  Yea.  That’s my girlfriend.
  5. Despite me being an outgoing person, I’m actually quite shy.  My anxiety makes me very nervous about meeting new people and striking up conversations.
  6. Speaking of anxiety, it also makes trying new activities difficult for me.  I try to overcompensate my nervousness by making jokes.
  7. I love spending time in museums and art galleries.  I’m a huge nerd.
  8. I don’t watch much TV… in fact, we don’t even have cable anymore.  However, I love Dexter and Big Bang Theory (we own the box sets).
  9. I have ADD which sometimes makes blogging and finishing my degree difficult.  One of my professors has tried to help me deal with it by bringing me stress balls and a puppy to class.  Yes… he brings his puppy in for me to play with.  I’m not sure how this is supposed to help me pay attention though… 533858_10151352521543614_1138168946_n
  10. I’m a lover, not a fighter.  When I get pissed off, I cry.
  11. I’m ready to pack my bags and head out on my next trip.  I’ve got the itch.  I’ve been pricing out flights and trying to narrow down my next destination!

I’ll email the people I nominate their questions :)

13 Quotes That Will Make You Want to Get Up and Go

Recently, I asked some of my favorite travel writers what their favorite quotes are.  Here’s what they came up with:

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Annette of Bucket List Journey: “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” – Mohammed

Beverly of Pack Your Passport: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you’ve imagined!” – Henry David Theroux.

Fidel of Scene With a Hart: “In the world, there are so many women with which you can sleep and so few women with which you can speak.” – Ernest Hemingway

Hayley of Hayley on Holiday: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Unknown

suitcases

Helen of Travel With Laughter: “Laughter is an instant vacation.” – Milton Berle

Jacqueline of 6 Months of Live: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Justin of Justin Was Here: “Some people chase dreams. Other people are meant to LIVE them.” - Justin Jones

Kate of Adventurous Kate: “Drink heavily with locals whenever possible.” - Anthony Bourdain

road

Matthew of Matthew Hirtes: “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” - Don Williams, Jr.

Melissa of Press Play: “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux

Pamela of Spunkgirl Monologues: “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” - Maya Angelou

Here’s one of my favorites: “I can’t see this world unless I go outside my Southern Comfort Zone.” – Brad Paisley

Do you have a favorite travel related quote?

Be sure to check out my Thought of the Day series on Facebook for more wonderful quotes.   I also share quotes via Twitter and Pinterest.

Best Dozen Posts of 2012

Erik from On My Feet or On My Mind recently suggested that I take part of a little game floating around the travel blogging world.  Bloggers reflect on 2012 through a series of twelve posts.

-1- Most Popular Post: Project 365

I love that this was my most popular post from 2012.  I am excited to say that I did complete this bucket list item.  I took one photo every day of the year and shared them via Facebook.  I enjoyed the project so much that I started the project over again on January 1 to document 2013.  See my 2013 photos here.

-2- Most Helpful Travel Tip: 4 NEW Ways for You to Smuggle Booze Onboard a Cruise

This one goes without saying, am I right or am I right? As part of my tips and tricks for cruisers I tested out these sneaky new methods on my fall cruise and they proved to be incredibly successful.  I still have a few tricks up my sleeve for my next cruise.   Wait ’til you see what I’ve come up with next!

-3- A Post That Was Surprisingly Successful: Letting Go: I REPEAT This is NOT Sabotage

I think the reason that this post was so successful was because in it, I shed some light on my personal life, which is something I rarely do.  Sure, I share personal stories with you all on a regular basis but it’s not often that I sit down and get intimate with you all.  In this post, I discuss my decision to jump back in the dating game.  6 months later, I’m in a perfectly happy relationships with one of the people I mentioned in the post.

-4- A Post I Felt Was Underrated: Is Costa Rica Really Dangerous?

Hello people!  Drugs, intruders in our bungalow, charging bulls and streets with no names… I can’t make this stuff up!

-5- Most Controversial Post: An Unopened Letter

It was difficult for me to come up with a controversial post.  I do my best to try to not piss the universe off by typing up something that’ll set people off.  This post was addressed to no one in particular and although it didn’t get many comments on my site, it sparked up some discussions among my circle of “friends”.

-6- Most Amusing Post: How I Dealt With The 5 Worst Things That Have Happened to Me While Traveling

In this post I talk about topics such as being mugged and being stung in the girly parts by jellyfish in a matter that only I can.

-7- The Post I’m Most Proud Of: Sifting Through My Belongings

One of the most difficult steps in planning a long-term trip is purging some of your belongings.  In this post I question whether it’s really  necessary for me to hang on to items such as a penis straw from my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, new paper clippings from a train wreck I was in and my family’s kilts.

-8- Best Travel Story or Travel Perspective: Cruising Speed Dating for Travelers

I know that a lot of “serious” travelers aren’t huge fans of cruising or the idea of popping into a country for a matter of hours but here I discuss why cruising is actually the ideal way for travelers to become acquainted with a destination.

-9- Best Travel Adventure: Quintas la Pilas

What could be better than hiking through the middle of the Costa Rican countryside, trespassing on private property, dodging cow pies in search of hidden water falls? Add a storm into the mix and some bulls and you have the story of Quintas las Pilas.

-10- Best Cultural Perspective or Insights: Tulum vs. Cahal Pech

The Land of Ticks or The Walled City?  I’ll let you decide :)

-11- Most Beautiful: Color Me Rad 5k

Okay, so this post may not be a literary masterpiece and it may not be sentimental but dammit it’s vibrant and colorful.  While running in the Color Me Rad 5k I became a masterpiece in motion as handfuls of paint were thrown at me.  I became a work of art.  Art = beauty.

-12- Best Photo or Photo Gallery: 10 of my Favorite Pictures from the Cruise

Check out 10 of my favorite photos from this year trip to the Western Caribbean!

30 Things a Girl Should Know Before She Turns 30

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Want to know a secret?  I turn thirty this August.  I write the word out because seeing those two numbers together terrify me.  3.  0.  It seems unfathomable.  How is it that I have been in existence for so long?  What all have I accomplished?  How does my life compare to my peers?  These questions float plague me.  Is there something I could have done differently?  Or should have done differently?
I found this list of 30 things a girl should know before she turns 30.  How does my life measure up to this list?
30 Things a Girl Should Know Before She Turns 30 By Jo Ann Darby author of The Girlfriend Book & MGFL! Much Girlfriend Love
1) Live on your own, support yourself after leaving your parents home and before you get married. This will provide confidence that you CAN take care of yourself. This WILL be important to you as you get older.  I’m nearly thirty.  I’m unmarried and I have yet to live alone.  I left home at a later age than most and moved in with a couple of roommates.  Let’s just say that it was an interesting experience.  Can I take care of myself?  Physically, yes.  Financially, no, I could not support myself if I had to live on my own.
2) Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it.  This is definitely a lesson I need to learn.  This year I am attempting to do a much better job at budgeting and saving my money.  Hopefully by tracking all of my spending habits, I will be able to cut back on things… especially frivolous.  Note to self: Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean that I have to buy it.
rainbox
3) If the grass appears greener on the other side, try fertilizing YOUR side.  I have learned that the grass is greener where you water it.  Relationships aren’t always perfect and that’s okay.  What matters is that you take the time to tend your relationship so that it can continue to grow.

4) Take GOOD care of yourself NOW, it WILL show up later. ( Eat Clean, Exercise Regularly & Good Skin Care Regimen)  This is so true.  My body is not what it used to be although by changing my eating habits I have been able to trim down.  I went from wearing a size 12 to now wearing a size 6.  The fact that I can, once again, fit into my senior prom dress has sent my self esteem sky rocketing.  

As far as skin care goes, this is something that I’ve just started taking seriously.  Two years ago I got a free chemical peel as a result of a bonfire accident.  This left me, essentially, with a brand new face.  My fresh new skin needed to be maintained and protected from the sun to prevent scarring and to help with the healing process.  Now, Vitamin E Oil, Collagen Moisture Filler and SPF are all part of my daily regimen.  

5) Understand that exercise is a way of life…just go ahead and accept it’s forever. It’s a LIFESTYLE, not a phase. Make exercise a priority. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel HAPPY! THAT is why you feel so great afterwards! Even people with good genetics have to EARN muscle…work for it!  I was doing really well with this for awhile there but my health got in the way of my fitness routine (yet again).  This is something I could do better with.

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6) Let go of the “wrong one” to make room for the right one…don’t settle for less than you deserve and love yourself enough to know WHAT is acceptable treatment!  It took me quite awhile to learn this lesson.  There was a period of time where I was with someone who I honestly and truly full heartedly.  This person only took my feelings for granted and took advantage of me.  It took me the longest time to realize that this was not how love was supposed to work.  After we split up, I was devastated but it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me.  I am so much better off now.  Now I understand what happiness really is.

7) Once you are married, stay boyfriend and girlfriend….ALWAYS go on date nights!

8) Before you have children, discuss HOW you will raise them, who plays what role and what is expected of each other as parents. Decide how the discipline will be handled and that you will always back each other up, even if you think the other person is wrong …discuss in private..not in front of the children.

9) Do not get married just because you want to have a beautiful wedding. Take your TIME! Do not rush! you CAN fall in love more than once.  But… my wedding board on Pinterest is just so tempting… Kidding.  I won’t rush things.

10) Listen to the voice within, allow it to guide you.  If you ignore it…be willing to accept the consequences.  I find that I do quite a good job of following my gut instincts.  Check.

11) Learn the 5 Love Languages by Gary Smalley, it will help you relate to not only your spouse but your children, family, friends and co-workers more effectively.  I actually have reviewed this and learned what kind of person I am.  Maybe it’s time that I re-visit the book and look into how to relate to the people who are in my life presently… and maybe show them the parts that will help them understand me better.

12) Learn to live below your means and practice delayed gratification. This eliminates that sick feel when you can’t afford your life! NOTHING you can buy can make you feel better than knowing you could buy it if you wanted it, the opposite is a sick feel!

13) In a relationship…if they react LARGE to a small/minor situation…. move on!!!! If you don’t, you can’t say you weren’t warned, sister!

14) Make time with your girlfriends. It’s easy with careers and staring a family to let that time with them go…you NEED that female interaction. It is so easy to “lose yourself” when you have young children, this will help!

15) If you have to think if you can afford it, you cannot!

16) Learn to say NO to thing you really don’t want to do. You will become overwhelmed and unhappy trying to please everyone.

17) You do not need validation/approval from other people. Keep going if you are genuinely following the burn placed within your heart! Keep on your path!

18) Don’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to hear THE TRUTH.Wait until you are strong enough to accept whatever the answer may be.

19) Do your best to not care what people say about you. You will never please all of the people all of the time! Focus on the people that really know and love you.

20) Invest in you! When you look good you feel good and when you feel good…you can conquer the world!

21) Travel and experience what the world has to offer before settling down. Once you are married and have children it is MUCH harder. When you travel your perspectives broaden, give yourself that opportunity.

22) Earn a degree, learn another language or obtain a certification/designation in a field of your choice. Have something like this that no one can take away from you and that you can always fall back on.

happiness

23) You control the key to your happiness, that isn’t someone elses responsibility. However, do not allow someone to control the way you think about yourself. They can’t hurt your feelings unless you allow it.

24) Train yourself to sleep on your back. This prevents wrinkles!  Say what!! But I snore when I sleep on my back… Predicament.  

25) Remember what a man says he is thinking about…that is ALL he is thinking about! They say exactly what they mean….don’t read into it!

26) Be with someone who LIFTS YOU UP, who makes you feel good about yourself…not the opposite!!!  
I can’t even begin to describe how much happier I have been since I met someone who does just this.

27) Don’t be shy about saying how you really think and feel, but do it with CLASS! You can deliver your opinion with a sandwich message…say something positive…then say what you need to say that may not be pleasant (this is being true to you as well!) and then end it with something positive.  

28) Keep a journal…it is amazing to look back and read how you where feeling at the time, how many things your have be blessed with, how many things you are grateful DIDN’T happen that you originally wanted, to see how many of your prayers have been answered and see how far you have grown as a person.  Although I don’t keep a journal, per say, I do have this website where I document things and I often reflect on various experiences.

29) Do what you LOVE and figure out a way to make a living doing THAT…you will be happy all the time and it will never seem like “work”.  I do love my job.  I honestly and truly do.  I look forward to going to work each day and love the fact that I work with some of my closest friends.  When you spend so much time with like minded people, you can’t help but bond with them.  We’ve become a tight knit little “family”.

30) Have quiet time early each morning…your days will be MUCH better when you are consistently doing this!  I was doing really well with this for awhile.  I would wake up 15 minutes earlier than I needed to just so that I could listen to a morning meditation.  It helped start my day with a positive note.  But, life became hectic and I sacrificed those 15 minutes of peace for a few more winks of sleep.  Now, my quiet time is spent at work coloring…  it turns out coloring is very therapeutic.