Traveling Alone

pexels-photo-490411.jpegWhat are your comfort zones alone?  I can do anything alone….except travel!

Personally I love to be alone.  After a while though I want to be an extrovert again which is a fear of traveling alone.  It is one of my 2018 goals…..I thought I could do anything alone since I thrive doing things alone such as movies, dinners, even a drink or two at a local bar!  I absolutely love shopping alone I mean I despise it with other people actually lol.  But I was recently faced with the opportunity to travel to Cuba alone and I froze.  There is no way I can go to Cuba alone with all of their rules right?  But it’s one of the safest places for an American to travel abroad, yet I just couldn’t.  I can literally travel to Los Angeles for a weekend alone and have the time of my life though!  My comfort zone was not having it.

I believe the paranoia came from my US Navy port visits and the unlimited trafficking/customs training we received.  Our number one priority was to remain in a group of at least two.  Sometimes you would pair up with someone you didn’t even know just for the sake of getting off of the ship.  I’ll start a checklist for traveling solo:

  1. Research the place!  You can “fly by the wind”, but have a plan!  At least a loose one that includes where to go in an emergency, lists of things you want to do, and “touristy” places.
  2. Let someone know where you are! Self explanatory.  Close friends/family should have a copy of your itinerary.
  3. Know the customs before you go!  That way if you are in a situation like my Cuba one, you will know that it is best to at least meet up with an online travel buddy than to go alone.  Some customs are as simple as women covering up.  For me, I would rather go with a group to a country with strict women rules to ensure I don’t overstep with my Western first world entitlement.
  4. Meeting new people.  Specifically love interests, let someone know what and where you will be doing whatever it is you plan on doing.  Judgment aside, sex trafficking is real.  It is good to meet up with travel partners from travel groups you are apart of that have similar interests.  I’ve read a lot of success from those and some even turn into lifelong friendships you would not have made otherwise because of distance.
  5. Popularity.  Ensure when booking your lodging that it has multiple high reviews!  Air b-n-b will provide you with ratings of the hosts along with honest travelers reviews, even detailing the location, amenities and availability of the host.  Hotels websites obviously sell a dream but their stars don’t lie!  And neither do the travel agent sites such as hotels.com/Priceline/Orbitz etc.  They allow the actual paid customers to review honestly.  RESEARCH!  Also, some lodging is a shared residency/room (Air-bnb or cruises)  Read the fine print and call ahead to request single occupancy, or book a different air b-n-b.
  6. Free Wi-fi.  Self explanatory, especially overseas.  Or at least plan on overage and data roaming added to your phone bill.
  7. Plan to set your alarm early.  Yes you are on vacation but you can sleep in on your day off at home!  Enjoy every second of your hard earned vacation.
  8. Plan some tours.  A lot of them are on Groupon and affordable, just don’t overload yourself because some tours are draining!  Research the tour because they will tell you what’s involved such as hiking or swimming and what you will need.
  9. Plan some “Me time”.  Blog, beach, Snapchat, spa.  Whatever floats your boat but make sure its what you needed.
  10. Do something different.  When traveling with others it is hard to do the things you want to do because of the compromise so when traveling alone, fit that thing you wanted to do last trip in.
  11. Take pictures.  You ever hear the phrase “If it’s not on FB then it didn’t happen”?  Well you don’t have to post every picture but I will tell you from experience you WILL regret not taking any pictures at all, especially if it is out of pride because “that’s what everyone else does” or “I don’t want to miss the moment”.  My first couple of years in the Navy I went to some bomb places, particularly Rio and I only have my memories, one of my only regrets.  Don’t be like young me lol take plenty of pictures!  Old you will thank you later!
  12. Keep it short and sweet. Now this one is my preference.  Take as long as you need but keep in mind that vacations can turn into the twilight zone after a while, and you can run out of money and it can turn upside down.  I like to keep some trips short to keep the memory fresh and fun!
  13. Stay safe! Remain positive and as long as your trip is researched and planned you will have the time of your life!

You can do it!  Please email/tag me in any of your solo vacations I would love to feature them.  Include a short description or journal entry.

 

Finding the perfect swimsuit

I live for a great swimsuit selfie!  For me it showcases the hard work you invest into yourself, all while enjoying not working hard!

20180304_165447 copy This time in Miami I decided to opt out of the beach and chill by the pool since it was an impromptu last minute trip.  I got a lot of girl talk in with my cousin Ayanna and we laughed a lot about personal issues because hey if you can’t laugh at yourself then what’s the point?  Communicating is important because it is a relief of stress, even if only temporary, and it helps relationships.

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This swimsuit is from Icon Boutique.  It is their “Overboard bikini-wine” and it was only $22!  (I also live for affordable swimwear) If you shop for frequent swimwear then you know $22 is an awesome price!  It arrived fast and I couldn’t wait to wear it!  I have a couple more from that company I will wear next vacay and upload this post.

For me finding the perfect swimsuit is according to my mood.  Each vacation has a different mood since they are different times of the year in different lifestyle changes.  Some seasons call for bright colors while others call for dark.  For me when I need a pick me up I urge brighter colors and red is one of my favorites! Well, maybe yellow.  They are tied lol.  Then when I need a quick suit that covers bulges well, black is the move always.  I have at least 100 black swimsuits of all styles!  Purple is my favorite tho, yet hard to find.  Either way, find your to go suits that you can just grab-n-go, then get your extra cute ones like these for those flawless photo shoot!

 

The Blame Game

Stop blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong in life!  I have learned that it is NOT ok to accept being the bad guy in a situation, all the time!  It came full circle for me to learn that people needed someone else to be that “bad guy” to make themselves feel better and that is not ok!  It will wear and tear on you mentally.

pexels-photo-45718.jpegAccepting and owning up to your mistakes is a major maturity event.  Both sides of an argument have to do that!  Sometimes mediation from a “voice of reason” can help alleviate the need for a “bad guy”.

Once you own up to your part, then let it go!  From that point forward if the other person does not do the same, just move on and forward.  You did your part and your conscious is clear.

 

The American Dream

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Lets be real, its a dog chasing its tail

What is the American Dream anyway?  Be a homeowner, drive nice cars, have a girl AND a boy, marriage, six figure career, successful business owner?  Is all of that attainable?  Is there a timeline?  Are you currently trying to achieve it?

I have had a conversation with a friend, whose entire family immigrated here.  His version of the American dream is exactly what his mother accomplished; she came over, worked extremely hard, and opened a successful business.  She did jobs that no one else wanted to do and worked extremely long hours to save for her business.  She lived meagerly and humbly.  Her making it to America was a dream turned reality; it was something her family and families like hers always talk about because of the living conditions and unfair wages in their country. For their family they achieved the dream; Hard work equals success in America.  She came over, worked hard and provided a legacy for her children to uphold.

For my family, the American Dream was always a steady paycheck.  Living on government assistance my entire life, tax time was everything, like winning the lottery!  Taco Bell dinner was SOOO freaking exciting lol it was like an elegant dinner we could not afford.  No one had fathers as far as my eye could see and some didn’t even have mothers.  Jail was normal.  Candles due to lack of electricity was common.  I was accustom to sharing bath water. Bombing for roaches was normal.  When I got my first real paycheck at McDonald’s at 15 I was like a kid at the candy store!  I had never seen $171 my entire life and it was what I had worked for!  All I wanted was some clothes and Jordans, but I had to pay the rent.  I had never been to a sit down restaurant and we snuck into movies.  My first dentist trip was at 17.

Once I started to live this “dream” I realized how much bullshit it was!  Man most people have student loan debt that if they are lucky enough to find a career in their field that the debt paid for, they will be paying off these loans the first 6-8 years of the said careers!  Even longer if they don’t get that “high” paying salaried job.  Mind you I put “high” in quotation because Uncle Sam takes much more than his fair cut from the middle class.  I try not to complain about that because I was raised off government assistance, which apparently the taxes help pay, but ironically, the government assistance we used as a child was designed to keep us on it!  Yes you read that right.  A lot of individuals that use public assistance to get ahead have to work 4 times as hard to get off of the assistance.  Example: When you receive food stamps you are “encouraged” to get a job.  Once you get a job, say at a department store making minimum wage, once you work over 20-24 hours your benefits severely decrease, if not come to a halt.  However, you can not afford groceries off of minimum wage job that barely wants to give you 40 hours a week.  So that is why most people do not work.  There are not many programs out there that are helping individuals find better skills for better employment.  I could get deeper, especially since I had a hell of an experience with section 8 (free rent) as a child, but I believe you get the point; its set up to keep people dependent on it.  Because of this flawed system I find it hard to support the amount of taxes my colleges have to pay, but its a part of the American dream right?

When I got older I realized that the things I looked forward to were normal….at least to the average American.  I began to learn that the average Americans dream was to be a homeowner, get married and have children with a career, in somewhat that order.  Maybe marriage first with the career but you get the point.  My outlook was all jacked up!  If it weren’t for me being an avid reader as a child man I would probably still be in the hood!  My imagination took me way past James P Brawley, the street I grew up on in a neighborhood just west of Atlanta.

The more diversity I was exposed to I learned that theres even a different dream out there for other Americans.  Suburban middle class children have sort of a…privilege for lack of a better term?  They go to college, period.  They have parents who provide them with tutors and the necessary skills to succeed.  They have options, but they can “fall back” on a career if they need to.  A lot of them knew exactly what credit is and start off with decent credit (meaning no overdue Georgia power bills from their childhood).  Some kids even stay with their parents for a few years, get to stay on their parents health/car insurance premiums and are sent out into the world with support.  Their dreams are the marriage, career, house, kids.

My dream was to be alive.  My dream was to not get addicted to drugs.  My dream was to not have 5 baby daddies.  My dream, from reading books, was to be rich by the time I was 40 (lol I still say that one).  But I had NO clue how I was going to achieve all of that.

The first dream was about hard work equals success.  The second dream was finding hard work and surviving is a success.  The third dream is just waiting on guaranteed success with minimum work.  The idea of this article is to spark conversation obviously, but to ask a few questions: Why are there 3 different dreams in America depending on race and economical status? Why do all of these dreams include debt? (maybe thats the real dream that they are selling us) And lastly, Can we provide to every kid in our reach, the information needed to be successful BEFORE they head out to tackle life?  Let us all ensure no one is doing their “dream” alone!

 

Balancing; Part 1

 

How do you balance your friends?  Women are notorious for talking about one friend behind their back with another friend then not disclosing that information to the talked about friend.  A friend of my family once told me when I was a kid that “You know someone talks about you when you are not around when they talk about others when they are not around to you” and somehow that shaped my friendship style and followed me for the rest of my life!  Like literally I am afraid of breaking a bond if I talk negatively about another friend when they are not around. Now I joke don’t mistake me what-so-ever, but I will be able to disclose what I said because it had NO ill intent.  I like to ask the question “Would they be offended by this?” and if the answer is yes, I shut up!  I’ve noticed in this social media age that a lot of people just don’t know when to be quiet!pexels-photo-356148.jpeg

By balancing though, I mean do you balance your most amazing thoughtful friends with the friends who are secretly jealous and don’t have your best interests?  Because that is definitely not fair and another thing I think we do as friends that we just don’t realize until we lose a great friend.  I know there may be some confusion on this topic so Ill try to clear it up.

When you plan a party that involves everyone splitting money and time, you see who really gives a sh** right?  Well on the other hand your really good friends are like “how in the world does this person I give my all for is friends with this selfish person?  Didn’t they cancel on me before to go hang out with them” etc. You will have friends that are willing to participate in your party 110% while watching your other friends barely put in any work.  And I’ve heard this story many times from bridesmaids ladies!  Beware who you ask to stand next to you because there is no way you have 18 true friends!  Just sayin…usually the true friends are the ones you know you can call in the middle of the night to come bail you out of the police station lol.  Thats who needs to be standing next to you, and that is who needs the most balance. pexels-photo-279470.jpeg

You just have to be mindful of things like that when balancing friends, and also vice versa.  You cannot be upset when a friend tells you no because they have to be there for someone else.  Maybe you aren’t the closest and that is ok we all have a place in life with different people.  Accepting that is maturity.

It’s My Birthday!

The significance of the Holiday known as birthdays.

We all have holidays where we are “trained” from birth to celebrate.  Well I’m not a big fan of them!  It feels too much like protocol…like a military muster lol.  I celebrate the silver linings…for example Christmas I love to see family and see on social media all the happy kids and happy parents, happy couples exchanging love I mean it all gives me joy (more-so the free time off).  But one holiday I love that WE control, that no one can take away from US, is the day that we were blessed with life.

I love how we all have a story to tell!  We all have some sort of family issues, personal drama, or a perfect life where nothing went wrong lol but its our life and our day to celebrate just that!  You get to decide how you want to celebrate it, you get to dictate what you want to do.  I like to reflect.  A little personal secret is it is when my new year starts! I get to decide to make changes on my terms! I like the entire Aquarius season to celebrate because…its the best season!  I’m a control freak I know but hey it’s our lives why not take control of them?

If you are having trouble taking control, you can start with your next birthday! Plan a dinner, shopping day, low key date, whatever fills that New Year in the world!  Celebrate your day the entire month!

Glamping! (Glamorous camping)

May 2017 Bear Lake Utah/Idaho

Dare to be different; dare to be YOU-nique!  The idea of “Glamping” was lame to family and not as enticing as a trip out of the country with friends, but it’s something that I wanted to experience while I was living out west.

 

 

 

It was like…The Oregon Trail (game I played in elementary school) but our version with Wi-Fi and Blue tooth speakers.  We slept outside by a campfire and roasted marshmallows like they do on TV lol, but most importantly we bonded.  Something completely out of the norm made us a lifetime of memories and I would love to do it again!

 

Who Are You in Competition With?

Are you constantly comparing yourself to your friends?  Do you constantly tell them how awesome your career is and how there is no way you can do theirs?  Unhealthy!  Did you realize it before I just posed the question?  When you do that you are implying their career choice is less than desirable, when in fact, we are not the same!  We all have likes and dislikes and we fit in different places and different scenarios.

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Do you tell others what you would never get married when they are planning a wedding?  Or you would never go to the club that people have plans to go to because their drinks are watered down, but then turn around and say “But have fun…”?  Or my favorite is when people tell me, without asking, how much money they have saved or their amazing credit score! (Personally I automatically distrust people who disclose such personal information without anyone asking) These are not so subliminal methods of creating competition through jealousy.

Sometimes we don’t notice the unhealthy competition because it is coming from someone we really care about deeply, until it’s too late.  The jealousy comes from a “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, or in rare cases, the light of content that shines from within an individual that money can’t buy and the other person can’t obtain.

I’m human and I’ve been a victim on both ends, more so from routine.  Being in the Navy definitely created a sense of competition for reasons of advancement.  Near the end of my tenure in the Navy I felt like I had made a couple of friends just for their personal advancement, and that I had befriended them for the same reason just in case I decided to re-enlist.  Once I got out of the Navy it was clear to me that it was definitely a light of content inside of me because I didn’t have much to monetarily compete with lol.  But Ive heard several people say “If I had been through half of what you endured, I wouldn’t have made it”. I think that is the light, the “nothing can phase me” or “it’ll work itself out”  mentality and it was a lot to accept because I had nothing monetarily that no one else could obtain with some hard work!  And in actuality if people used that same energy to talk to me they would know that I freak the hell out over everything!  I am in constant panic mode! But then I think of the times I played the same competitive cards and I realize it comes full circle.

We can exercise some healthy competition methods because it is human nature to compete!  When you put kids of the same age together you will see them arguing over who sits shotgun or race to get to the door the fastest (which is extremely annoying.  Shout out to all the patient teachers out there).  Maybe discussing whats going on in our lives in an open and honest platform while admitting situations that make us jealous and comparing what we have going on with the goal of leaving fulfilled will help.  I’ve always been confused when girls try to compete with me because of my family life.  It is mostly girls who came from an awesome mom and support system who become jealous of me, meanwhile all Ive ever wanted was just that!  So Ive created a life around that broken foundation, but for some reason that is all people choose to see where if we actually sat down and talked in that healthy environment we would eliminate that jealousy!

I have always tried to organize nights out or girls trips, because those are the most vulnerable scenarios I know for women.  Men too, because men are just as, if not more sensitive than women but refuse to admit it.  But sometimes to discuss healthy competition just having a drink in the house with kids running around and spouses/other people around does the opposite and leaves us right where we were.  Try having that night out with friends and facing that healthy competition and thank me later!

Anyway, let me in on some healthy competition stories, or unhealthy!  I would love to guest blog these cases!

Can I get (back) into business?

My first job was at 14 years old working at a hair salon (illegally) washing har for a few dollars each client.  It was not a lot of money to the average person, but for a young girl that had nothing living in the projects wearing hand-me-downs it was a LOT of money.  I wanted to work really hard, mainly because I admired the shop owner who was a small business owner running her own faithful clients, accounting, booking etc all while being courteous and professional.  My next job was for even more money, working for minimum wage at McDonald’s.  Man that was eye-opening because the average person, brutally speaking, does not want to work hard but for some reason I did!  The more I worked the more money I made!  But I always wondered whose signature that was at the bottom of my check I mean I literally thought Ronald McDonald owned it (don’t judge me because I’m pretty sure there are kids in the hood right now with no exposure that think the same).  Then one day it happened.  The owners walked in to check on the re-order of supplies, cut a check, and left.  It was an older couple, regular clothes with a hint of Chanel and finesse.  I knew at that moment I was going to be signing checks also but had no education to know where to start.

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I opened a business in 2013, a small online boutique in an over saturated market.  My name as my niche in addition to being photogenic I gained slight popularity with a few business opportunities I was not prepared for.  With the market being so over saturated it was still hard to stand out, and to be honest a couple of social media influencers were taking advantage of small businesses like mine.  I was afraid to take a break but I knew I couldn’t handle the customers coming in with the adjustments I needed so I decided to take a break.  Now my self-doubt has come over in an even more saturated clothing market.  Somehow I’ve convinced myself that is just fine!  With work ethic anything is possible!

We CAN get back into business!  With the lessons learned, of course!  To start a business there are a plethora of websites that offer advice! Books, YouTube you name it.  I will offer limited advice here because I believe advice and how to’s are on a case by case basis and is seriously relative.  Then I will plant advice here on my website in blogs on what worked for me and what I’ve seen work for others.

-You have to tailor advice on your business needs.  Do not think you are behind or lost because of another success.  Every business are different goals and most importantly, different budgets!  It’s ok to have a smaller budget because whats important is your niche.

-Organize.  Plan, write a business plan, then plan again!

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-Lastly, walk out on entrepreneurial faith!

Here is the planner organizer that I use to organize my life!  I write down all of my appointments, bill due dates, and work times in the calendar.  In the journal I jot down ideas, random thoughts and business plans ideas.  Click the photo to purchase or look for different options.

It sounds simple because it is.  Thanks for reading and of course Contact with Questions or Concerns!