8 Misconceptions People Have About Traveling

Traveling is something I really love. The ignorant comments that come along with it are something I really hate. Before you verbalize any of the eight ideas on this list, don’t. A girl has got to set some of you straight!

1. “You have to be rich or be a trust fund kid to travel.”

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Well you see, my last trip was about $500. I’d say that’s still cheaper than your premium annual pass to Disneyland.

2. “Must be nice to have money to travel.”

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It also must be nice to be a passive-agressive jerk.

3. “It’s too expensive to go to Europe.”

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Europe can be really expensive, but that’s why you do your research, fly budget airlines and stay in hostels.

4. “Big cities are dangerous!”

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I’ve been to six majorly large cities, and I came back alive and not mugged from all of them.

5. “Places in Asia, Africa and South America aren’t good for a vacation. Those are third-world countries!”

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Well, that was a racist and uninformed comment. I would gladly take a trip to South Africa, Thailand or Chile any day.

6. “I just don’t have the time to travel.”

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Okay, this might be a valid excuse, but not really; I had two jobs this summer and 16 units coming up this fall. And I’m probably still going to find a way to go on a trip.

7. “Don’t you wish the money you spent on traveling was spent on something else?”

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Do I wish I had spent my money on a purse or iPad instead of a life changing experience? I can’t say I do.

8. “Aren’t you scared to travel as a woman? Haven’t you seen ‘Taken?’

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So as a woman I shouldn’t travel because I’m going to end up in the plot of a fictional movie where a girl gets kidnapped into the sex-trade and Liam Neeson has to kick a whole lot of ass? Don’t talk to me.

(All GIFs from giphy)

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“Amy,” and the Exploited Female Artist

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Sitting in a stuffy Brooklyn movie theatre, my boyfriend and I were ready to see “Amy.” It was our last night in New York City. I was filled with pizza topped with aged mozzarella, and exhausted from a week of not exactly sleeping. Director Asif Kapadia’s telling documentary was not my first choice. Not because I don’t adore Amy Winehouse, but because I wasn’t sure how emotionally prepared I would be to handle a raw and honest telling of her tragedy—and especially on my vacation. I wanted to end our trip on a happy note. In fact, we had intended to watch “Minions” (sorry, Sarah). Don’t even ask how these polar opposites were our choices for the night.

By the end of the 2-hour film, my face was stained with tears. In fact, I was the only person exiting the theatre in tears. I was affected, and I was upset. I also couldn’t understand why more people weren’t crying. We walked down the street to a bar. I was still crying. I really needed a drink. The irony of this fact after watching Winehouse’s life torn apart by drug and alcohol addiction was apparent; I even felt guilty about it. I ordered a glass of rosé.

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I became a Winehouse fan during my sophomore year of high school. This was a time when I was unlived and dumb. I was dealing with low self-esteem and uncomfortable with my hermit crab ways. I was insecure, extremely shy and lacking all of the confidence. I wanted boys to like me, but they didn’t. I wanted friends, but I didn’t understand how basic conversation worked around new humans. I had a few people I could laugh with and talk to. I had my 10-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. I had my MySpace page. That was about it.

During this awfully awkward time, I became obsessed with Winehouse’s second release, “Back to Black.” The album, about heartbreak and negative views about one’s self, really connected with a lot of the gross, 15-year-old things I was feeling. At the time, Winehouse was in her early 20s when she wrote such a poignant, raw and deeply personal work. She had only recently escaped her teens.

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By the time I was wrapped up in all thing’s Amy, the world around me was busy making her the butt of all their jokes. Her talent was disregarded, she was bullied for her addictions and stalked by paparazzi for the perfect shot of engagement in her least redeeming behaviors. When Winehouse came up in conversation, as she often did from 2007 through 2010, it was usually to call her a drug addict and a train-wreck; it was not to talk about how powerful an artist she was. I was definitely in the minority during this period. I didn’t care what people had to say about her, my young and idealistic self was sure she would be able to clean up her act, beat her addictions and release more unbelievable music.

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A few years later, the morning of July 23, 2011 hit. I woke up. I read the news. I was devastated. My now 19-year-old self cried for most of the day. When I told people I was upset by Winehouse’s death, I got snarky responses like “You aren’t surprised?” and “We all saw this one coming.” Then came the awful memes. And then the posts knocking her death because “People die everyday, and she was just a crackhead!” And probably worst of all, then came the people who were suddenly sad that she was dead. These were mostly the same people who had ridiculed her at her weakest. Back at the bar, I was unable to articulate exactly how I was feeling. My fingers ran around the base of my wine glass. The mood was somber. The night’s atmosphere had changed. The next day we were getting on a plane back to southern California.

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Winehouse was 23-years-old when she tried crack cocaine for the first time. I turned 23-years-old this year. She was 18-years-old when she began working on her debut “Frank,” which was released in 2003. “Back to Black” dropped 3 years later in 2006. In just a short span of time, the big haired, big voiced beauty began a downward spiral. At the peak of the album’s success, Winehouse needed help most, but she never received it. “Rehab” was written about her almost stint in rehab planned for 2006. The documentary notes that this may have been her most crucial missed opportunity. Her father Mitch Winehouse cancelled the planned rehabilitation in favor of furthering her career opportunities. “I ain’t got the time/and if my daddy thinks I’m fine.” 

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“Amy” highlights a sweetly sensitive and caring young woman—one the media failed to show while she was here with us. Instead, her life was treated as a circus. She had no privacy. Images of her worst behavior and rumors of her drug use ran rampant. She never completed treatment because of the negative influence of her then husband Blake Civil-Fielder. When Winehouse finally entered rehab, Civil-Fielder insisted he go to rehab with her, against the advice of medical professionals. Days after exiting, he got her high again and the binges returned. “Amy” shows us a woman in her 20s suffering from bulimia, depression and addiction who fell apart in front of our very eyes. At the time, the world loved it; they ate it up. And the two men she loved most dearly in her whole world continued to push her and exploit her for their own gains.

“Amy” so subtly hints at a tortured, female artist emotionally shattered by a reliance on broken relationships At her lowest point, at the time she needed help the most, the control these men had over her career and happiness dominated her life. They prevented her from the recovery she truly needed. I don’t care if I’m placing blame. While Winehouse was responsible for her own behaviors, she was a fragile and mentally ill woman who was in no position to take that responsibility. Screw you Mitch. Screw you Blake. Even screw you Raye, her then manager at the time who went along with anything Mitch suggested in order to keep pushing Winehouse’s career forward.

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When she lost her battle to addiction, the media quickly changed their tune. People were actually, really fans of hers the whole time! We’ve seen this before countless times, and it’s nothing new. Anyone heard of Michael Jackson? The people who wore Winehouse costumes as a joke at Halloween parties, the comedians who quipped about her and the tabloids that plastered her drunken nights on their covers were suddenly Really Sad™. As with many musicians and actors who die young, Winehouse was suddenly martyred. All of her “wrongdoings” were forgiven and forgotten: they didn’t matter anymore because there was no one like her! That voice! It’s just so tragic that so many people failed to appreciate her when we still had her.

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Miss Winehouse has been gone for four years. “Back to Black” will turn 10-years-old next year. In her death, Winehouse became an icon, a legend and a tragedy. Her music is timeless. It transcends many trends and styles of current pop music. Kapadia’s masterful film brings awareness to the tragedy of Winehouse’s 20s as it intimately portrays a side to her most people were unaware of. Will the public learn from it? Will our western culture continue to shred people apart in the media? Do we regret how we treated her? Was Amy on this earth only to give us the gift of music through her own pain? I guess we’ll never know the answer to the last question, but we probably already know the answer to those preceeding.

Rest in peace Amy, and thank you; I’m sorry for everything.

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(all Images and GIFs from Tumblr)

15 Reasons Why New York City is Awesome

As some of you may know, I’ve just returned from New York City. I can describe my trip with the four E’s: exciting, enthralling, exhilarating and exhausting. While the Big Apple isn’t perfect, it’s pretty close to being the perfect big city. I’m totally lucky to have enjoyed such a wonderful experience (and at a pretty low price tag too!) Here are 15 contributing factors that make NYC uniquely amazing!

1. It reminded me a lot of London

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(i2.cdn.turner.com)

London is a place near and dear to my heart. Being in this world-class city reminded me of being back in Central London. The parks, the transit, the fashionable people, the museums, etc., were all similar to each other. Having the chance to visit New York brought back all the nostalgic feelings of traveling to the Gem by The Thames. (Yes, I just made this up, and it’s cute and catchy. Can I trademark this?)

2. The subway is efficient and cheap 

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Would your rather pay $2 and some change to ride a subway that can take you literally anywhere you’d want to go? Or would you rather pay a taxi fare each time you need to get somewhere? Take your pick, but here’s a professional tip: the latter is going cost you way more money. And that’s money you could be spending on something better, like pizza.

3. The food is amazing

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(opendining.net)

Almost everything I munched on in NYC was delicious—especially the pizza (Check out Sottocasa in Brooklyn if you ever have the chance.) I ate Italian food, mac and cheese and so much Pizza; it was glorious. We were also staying down the street from a Trader Joes, so I got my share of fruits, veggies and healthy snacks, too! Life always rules when you’re surrounded by yummy food.

4. Classy French and Italian wines are available at every bar and restaurant

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“Why yes, I’ll have the house Italian Chardonnay, please.” Here in California we are blessed with an abundance of, you named it, California wines, but it can be a little difficult (and pricey) to get our hands on European wines, particularly at restaurants. I definitely realized how lucky I was to order a good French Rosé for just $7.

5. New Yorkers are proud of their city

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It’s a cool feeling to be somewhere that people actually like living. New York is a really cool place and New Yorkers want to see it stay that way. I admire that.

6. The city has cleaned up since the grittiness of the 1970s and 1980s

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(gizmodo.com)

We’ve all seen Martin Scorcese’s “Taxi Driver.” And if you haven’t, shame on you, but back in the day, the city definitely had it’s dirt, crime and grime. Times Square was practically the red light district and the subways were a war zone full of violent crime. These days, that New York is a thing of the past.

7. In fact, NYC is actually considered one of the safest big cities

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(safetourist.org)

New York City has seen dropping crime rates since the 1990s and throughout the 2000s. Currently, NYC boasts all-time violent crime lows, especially in regards to murders and assaults. Taking the subway isn’t much of a risk anymore, and you can easily walk up and down most streets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island with no issue.

8. People don’t vape in NYC

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This may not be on your list of what makes a city awesome, but it’s on mine. While vaping is maybe? healthier than cigarettes, and it smells better, It’s still pretty obnoxious. I saw one person vaping the whole time I was there. Yup, one. In SoCal I can’t go anywhere without a cloud of cherry smoke assaulting my face and leaving me wondering what chemicals I just ingested.

9. It’s easy to stretch your money on a visit

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I’m a big proponent of not getting suckered into tourist traps during my travels. And you should be too. Why spend money to head to the top of of XYZ building, when you can catch a great, free view somewhere else? You also don’t need to go to a big fancy restaurant every time you need to eat. Also, like I listed earlier, use the subway instead of taxis. And try to fly into NYC on a Monday or Tuesday when flights are cheaper.

10. It has some of the most awesome museums in the world

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New York City is home to the 9/11 museum, the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, the Natural History Museum, the American Indian Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image. Arts, culture and history are important to me: They’re practically at the top of my interest list. In addition, most of these museums have awesome exhibits dedicated to women, people of color and the LGBTQ community.

11. The Lower Manhattan skyline will take your breath away

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(www.flickr.com)

I remember the first time I saw Big Ben. I remember the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower. Manhattan’s skyline, it’s urban jungle, is another homage to the engineering triumphs of humans. While we are really good at messing things up, you know, like the environment and basic human rights, we are pretty stellar at building stuff. I was definitely preparing myself for the moment I saw the skyline, in fact it was what I was most excited for, and it did not disappoint.

12. There’s a ton of really cool parks

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While Central Park is a dead give away, there are also plenty of other patches of greenery worth your time. Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and Prospect Park in Brooklyn are must sees. You can walk your dog, sunbathe, enjoy the street artists or catch a concert. Seriously, we saw Interpol in a park.

13. There are concerts, so many concerts.

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(Yes, I know Wayne’s World takes place in Chicago and not New York)

Proceeding my last point, the amount of concerts going on in New York is almost insane. It even kind of puts Los Angeles to shame. In our 6 days in the city, we had the chance to see anyone from U2 to Neil Young, to Modest Mouse to Blues Traveler (But you, why you wanna give me a run-around? seriously, why?) In fact, this September Pearl Jam and Beyonce are playing a free concert in Central Park. Pearl Jam. Beyonce. Free. Could New York be any cooler?

14. The sports fans aren’t fair-weathered

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While New York fans can be a little intense—I’m looking at you Yankee fans chanting DEREK JETER at the top of your lungs on the D train—I do admire their dedication. Plus, being at a Yankee game in the Bronx was pretty incredible, and the new stadium is gorgeous. Back home, LA and OC area sports fans aren’t particularly known for their loyalty. What’s that? You were a Lakers fan last season but now you like the Clippers? Huh? At least New York fans have it together.

15. It’s full of diversity

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(www.bloomberg.com)

New York is full of people from all over the world. Diversity is something that we all benefit from. Diversity promotes inclusion and equality. All ethnicity, races, religions and nationalities can be found in NYC; we still have a way to go, but that’s a beautiful thing.

(all still Images feature link below. All GIFs from giphy)

Why I Hate-Watch ‘The Bachelor’ TV Series

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(image www.etonline.com)

Next week, 30-year-old “Bachelorette” Kaitlyn Bristowe, a dancer from Toronto, will choose between a crazy, possessive man from Nashville whom looks like Ryan Gosling, and a disliked sales executive from Chicago whom looks like someone you’d swipe left on Tinder for describing himself as an entrepreneur. (Oh wait, that will actually be two weeks from now because we need to listen to all the men trash talk each other to host Chris Harrison in the “Men Tall All” snooze-fest this coming Monday.) countdown-to-nick-viall-shawn-booths-bachelorette-confrontation

“Hey girl, I know I look like Ryan Gosling, but I won’t let you see your friends or family because of my tiny self-esteem”
(image from cdn.blogs.sheknows.com)

“The Bachelorette,” in it’s 11th season, is part of a greater phenomenon known as the “The Bachelor.” The series has been on the air since 2002, and has led to two other spin-offs, “Bachelor Pad” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” As problematic and obnoxious as these shows may be—for the most part they only select pretty white, straight, cisnormative people as contestants—It’s like a train wreck I can’t turn away from. On the air for 13 years, the series has spawned a generation of 20 and 30-year-old’s who believe they will find their husband or wife on a TV show…a TV show that lasts about 6 weeks. Yikes.

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“Haha, women cry a lot.”
(gif from blog.chron.com)

While this last season of the Bachelorette may be the worst in the show’s history, (They faked a gay romance between JJ and Clint for ratings, edited the film to slut-shame Kaitlyn for sleeping with Nick and had men vote between two bachelorettes, sending one home feeling unwanted and defeated, AGAIN), It’s been my favorite to hate-watch because it’s just so bad. Yes, I believe in love. Yes, I think love is a wonderful thing. Yes, everyone deserves loves. But I don’t think it’s possible to have a clear enough head to objectively decide you’re in love when ABC is telling you how to behave and what to think, all the while in front of TV cameras. 628a49f0-0824-0133-5026-0ec273752cbd

Surprise Kaitlyn! The men are going to decide which one of you is MORE “wife material”
(gif from Bustle.com)

As this show becomes a hotter and hotter mess each season, I’m not any less likely to tune out. And while that probably should frighten me, It’s also two hours of escapism that allows me to turn off my brain once a week—and we all know I’m someone who does too much thinking. This show makes me laugh. This show probably makes me feel better about myself. This show makes me realize just how normal and healthy my current relationship is. While traveling the world and “falling in love” away from the troubles of life has been appealing to audiences for years, falling in love the old fashion way—not auditioning for a reality show and being humiliated in front of millions of people—is still the way to go.

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Who wouldn’t want to wake up next to this?
(from serahmarieh.files.wordpress.com)

So, while an endless amount of couples get engaged for middle America and end up broken up three months later, I can stuff my face with some Boom Chicka Pop White Cheddar Popcorn (this isn’t a plug, I swear, it’s just really good), have a couple glasses of Sauvignon Blanc while I make fun of all the drama and let my brain take a much needed break from the day. I actually, truly wish the best for every couple that hopes to walk down the aisle after this show is done, I just don’t have much hope. And I’ve accepted that.

9 Emojis That Sum Up My Life

Like every early 20-something, I love emojis. They are essential in expressing myself online and through text. What better way to show the world how clever and sassy I am? When I glance over my most used icons, these nine are the reoccurring players in the digital drama that is my life.

1. The Nail Emoji

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The quintessential icon of sass: the nail emoji. I freely admit this emoji is everything to me. Now excuse me while I paint my nails instead of listening to what you’re saying.

2The Wine Glass

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So, it’s no secret that I love wine; it’s no secret that I love the wine emoji. My only complaint (suggestion, really) would be an update that allows us to switch the liquid to pink or white. You know I love my whites and rosés! Stay sassy and classy, my friends.

3. The Tears

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As someone who both cries tears of sadness and tears of joy—and often—it makes sense this has a place in my commonly used list. I’m a sensitive person! This emoji gets me!

4. The Hairflip

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Do I even need to explain this one? One of the most perfect emojis of all time with her carefree smile and flick of the wrist. Now she is even better; celebrate diversity y’all!

5. The Puppy

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I love dogs with my whole heart. Naturally, I love this emoji with my whole heart. Dogs 4 Life.

6. The Hearts in Eyes

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The awestruck emoji of love, admiration and fascination. I use this for everything I love, and I send it to pretty much everyone I love. It’s perfect and cute, and it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy just looking at it!

7. The Waving Hand

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While I’m pretty sure this emoji was intended to represent politely waving goodbye, to me it represents waving goodbye to the garbage I don’t need in my life. I just love the sass of this hand. To negativity, stupidity and so on, BYEEEE!!!!

8. The Sunglasses

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This guy is the coolest dude in the emoji game. I love this guy. He’s an image of inspiration to put on your slick Ray-Ban® shades and face the day like a boss.

9. The Unimpressed

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Someone being a jerk? Send them this face. Someone being racist, sexist or homophobic? Send them this face. Someone trolling your social media comments because they *think* they’re funny? Send them this face. This face is pertinent in allowing me to show people I am thoroughly unamused.

Anxiety, Stress and Unwanted Weight Loss

Stress and anxiety can do tons of scary things to our body. Among tension headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, muscle tightness and heart palpitations (I suffered from all of these), it can also cause problems with unwanted weight loss or unwanted weight gain. For me, I experienced unwanted weight loss four years ago, and it took me what felt like forever to both look and feel healthy again.

At my lowest weight, not only did I look like death warmed over me, I also felt like it; I was exhausted, fatigued and suffered from daily stomach aches. Fast forward to Summer of 2015, I’ve gained close to 15 pounds back, closing in on the goal weight of what I used to be in high school. I look better, I feel better, my clothes fit again and I’ve built back muscle that had depleted. The best body weight for a woman is the body weight she feels best in, seriously.

So how did I finally start feeling like myself again? It took time, but it was pretty simple.

1.) I gave up meat

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Most vegetarian/vegan proteins have more protein than regular meats without the cholesterol and fat!

2.) I fixed my unhealthy sleeping pattern

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Who would have thought staying up all night and waking up at 2 p.m. was bad for a person?

3.) I get moderate exercise 

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I’m no bodybuilder, but I’m stronger than ever. Walking, bike riding, squats and lifting 40 pound boxes of wine at my job have definitely improved my appetite.

4.) I plan my meals and snack throughout the day

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I make sure I eat, I pay attention to my portion sizes and I don’t let myself go hungry for hours anymore.

5.) I started Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

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I’m not about stigma tied to mental health, and I’ll freely admit that therapy has done wonders for me and my emotional well-being.

So if stress and anxiety are doing weird things to your body weight that you don’t want happening, it’s not hopeless! Just a few lifestyle changes and the commitment to those changes can make a world of difference.

(all GIFs from Giphy)

23 Things to Enjoy at 23

So as most of you may know, the national holiday known as MY BIRTHDAY was on June 21st, and I am now at the ripe, young age of 23! Since this is my Michael Jordan year, I’ve made a list of all the fantastic things I’d like to start (or continue) surrounding myself with this year. Happy soon-to-be 23’s and to anyone who is currently 23, thriving and fabulous!

1. Traveling

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2. Dogs

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3. Blogging

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4. Hiking

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5. Cake

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6. Activism and Social Justice

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7. Craft Beer

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8. Wine

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9. Love

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10. Friendship

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11. MOM

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12. Interning

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(actual clip from Wolf of Wallstreet. Just kidding.)

13. Yoga

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14. Laughing at your Awkward Junior High Stage

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15. Vegan Food

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16. Sulfate-Free Haircare

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17. Kit Harrington

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18. Sunshine

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19. Powerful Female Influences

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20. Giving Back

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21. Showing Kindness

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22. Keeping Your Word

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23. Social Media

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