3 Reasons Why “13 Reasons Why” Is a Must See for Older Teens and Parents

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There has been a lot of controversy around the new hot Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Many critics claim that it is too graphic and was essentially a “how-to” for committing suicide (Totallythebomb.com). I agree that it is very graphic, but it is also raw and very real. This show is definitely not to be shown to younger audiences, those who suffer from certain mental illnesses (in which case this show could be a trigger), or those who are recovering from sexual assault. The warnings before certain episodes clearly depict that there is a suicidal scene and a rape scene that are difficult to watch. Other critics claim that this show contorts and simplifies the concept of suicide (Literallydarling.com). I completely disagree with this claim as well. Why? Here are the 3 reasons why 13 Reasons Why is a must see for older teens.

 

1. Unfortunately, this show puts real high school life on display

I wish that I could say that this “drama filled series” is a big huge lie. I wish that I could say that no girl could relate to this series. And I wish I could say we can keep the secrets of American high schools hidden forever, but we can’t. Everyday there are girls in high school that suffer in silence from sexual harassment on school campuses. It is important for parents to understand this. We can’t protect our kids forever from the evil in this world, but it makes it worse to pretend it never happens. 13 Reasons Why acknowledges those girls who are afraid to tell their story. It starts conversations with parents and friends that girls may have been too scared to start before watching this series.

2. It makes girls feel they aren’t alone

When someone is being targeted by others, it is so lonely. That individual usually feels that they are the only one going through bullying. It can be so reassuring just to be made aware that you aren’t the only one suffering. In my opinion, one of the main reasons why Hannah chose to take her life was because she thought she was the only one around her who was experiencing harassment and bullying. If she had been told that there are others around her that have experienced bullying in high school and that they made it through it, she may have turned to others for help instead of taking her own life.

I want to add though that just because a lot of people are experiencing bullying or sexual harassment, doesn’t make it OK or any easier on the victims. However, it can help them to heal if they have a community that understands.

As a society, we need to stop allowing bullying to happen right in front of us in our school systems. 13 Reasons Why brings forward the unfortunate fact that often the victim ends up being blamed. Even as a viewer (I hate to admit), I found myself wondering why Hannah didn’t speak up or why she didn’t try harder to get out of certain situations. This mindset is wrong, but not uncommon. When girls (or boys) are crying out as victims of bullying or sexual harassment, they deserve to be listened to and given priority.

3. It doesn’t support or ignore sexual harassment 

There are enough shows in Hollywood that embrace the motto “boys are boys”. According to most TV shows, boys will say whatever or act however they want, but it ultimately means nothing because they are young and stupid. Dusting the issue of sexual harassment of teens under the rug is a huge mistake. It affects girls. I appreciated the fact that 13 Reasons Why did not support or allow for this type of treatment towards women. *SPOILER ALERT* There was no one that high-fived Bryce after they found out he raped Hannah and Jessica. No one was proud of Zach for his moves on Hannah during their first date. Not only were the characters disappointed in the boys’ choices, Clay was furious and all of the other characters were disgusted with Bryce’s actions.

Although this series was very heavy, it is very impactful. If you haven’t yet seen 13 Reasons Why, I encourage you to watch it. It shares a lot of messages that are needed to be shared and heard. I am looking forward to the second season and watching the impact that this show has on our society.

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Pursuing Your Dreams vs. Stalking Your Dreams

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Lately, I have gotten more into fitness and health. I can go onto Instagram or Youtube and watch TONS of videos on workouts/meal prep and look at social media accounts of fitness models. Two hours later…I haven’t worked out or done any meal prep myself! I feel productive, but yet I haven’t done anything to further myself and my goals.

It is important that when you have a dream, you chase it and pursue it instead of stalking it. This rule doesn’t apply to just fitness either, it can apply to any area of your life. There is a point when you have watched enough videos and seen enough pictures. Now it is time to just jump in! It is so easy to hide behind a computer screen and keep watching other people achieve your dream, but don’t do it!

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have motivation. Sometimes, I watch workout videos or research healthy food recipes to get inspired when my motivation tank runs empty. There is nothing wrong with pumping yourself up! Just make sure that at the end of the day, you can confidently say that you are a step closer to accomplishing your goals.

It is one thing to find someone on the Internet that inspires you, but it is entirely more beneficial to find someone in your own life that inspires you. Someone who you can call when you need a motivation boost. Whether it is a friend, family member, or someone in your community you can reach out to, it is easier to achieve dreams with the advice and support of someone who has been in your situation.

Don’t waste time! I regularly hear people say “Someday…” or “Soon…”. Well guess what?! Today is someday and today is soon! Just go for it. If your goal is to lose 5 lbs or 20 lbs or even 100 lbs, I promise everyone who has done this before you, had to start. Did they feel ready? Probably not. Was it the perfect day? Most likely it wasn’t. But they took a leap of faith and believed in themselves enough to begin the journey.

The last piece of advice I have for you is a quote that I have found to be very true in my life: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” (Jon Acuff) It is so easy to be discouraged by the success of others. But don’t be! Just know that everyone at some point compares him/herself to someone who appears to be further in their journey. It is completely normal! But, to be happy with where you are right now, you have to stop playing the comparing game. Focus on yourself and someday there will be people looking towards you as inspiration.

Good luck!

Key Points:

1) Find motivation (specifically in someone you have a relationship with)

2) Don’t waste time waiting for “someday”

3) Don’t compare yourself to others you deem “more successful”

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Dos and Don’ts with Kitchen Sponges

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It’s so easy ladies! Just buy a sponge from your local grocery store, apply soap, and make your dishes sparkling clean every time! But wait. Just stop and think about the dirt and germs collecting on your kitchen sponge. Using that sponge over and over again on plates caked with mac and cheese or smeared with mashed potatoes, and then simply setting it out to dry and use tomorrow can be problematic long-term. According to Eat Right, here are the Dos and Don’ts with kitchen sponges.

Do

1) Replace kitchen sponges often

Depending on how tough you are on your sponge, it may need to be replaced more often than you think. If you smell a foul odor and realize it is your sponge, get rid of it immediately! The porous texture of kitchen sponges make it easy for germs and other nasties to hide inside. Replacing your sponge regularly will ensure that your dishes are actually clean and don’t just have a “clean” appearance.

2) Clean kitchen sponges after doing the dishes

Your plates aren’t the only things that need to be cleaned! Your kitchen sponge deserves a bath after all its hard work. According to Good Housekeeping, there are a few effective ways to sanitize your kitchen sponge. Here is the list from the best methods to the worst:

  • Bleach– Soak the sponge for about five minutes in a mixture of 3/4 cup of bleach and one gallon of water
  • Dishwasher– Simply throw the sponge in the dishwasher along with the other dishes. Easy and simply.
  • Microwave– Put the sponge in the microwave for one minute on high after soaking it with water.
  • Washing Machine– Although this option is better than nothing, tossing the sponge in the washing machine proved least effect for killing germs.

3) Wring out the sponge and keep it somewhere dry

Allowing a wet sponge to sit in a small puddle of water on the counter promotes a perfect breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Instead, ensure that the sponge is wrung out completely and place it somewhere that isn’t wet. Sponges shouldn’t be kept in the sink or on the sink ledge where it can get repeatedly wet. If you choose to store it in a sponge holder or container, ensure to wash the holder occasionally.

 

Don’t

1) Use sponges to wipe down and clean countertops

The paper towel commercials are correct on this one. There are a lot of germs and bacteria that end up on our countertops that we aren’t aware of (especially if you have kids!) Wiping off the counter with a sponge and then proceeding to scrub your dishes can spread bacteria. Instead, use paper towels to wipe of counters, or use a wash cloth that you plan to wash.

2) Mix sponges and meat juices

Everyone panics when they spill the disgusting meat juice all over their shiny countertops. But don’t be tempted to grab the kitchen sponge! Using sponges to wipe up uncooked meat juice is an easy way to harbor bacteria on your sponge and transfer it to your dishes.

Using a sponge in your home is a personal choice. Personally, I don’t use a sponge in my kitchen (honestly I don’t trust myself to remember all these rules!) However, don’t let all of these rules discourage you if you are a sponge lover. Honestly, there are so many ways to spread germs and bacteria, all we can do is try our best to prevent it when we can.

Keep on scrubbing and cleaning!

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Realizing Your True Identity

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Begin by making a list…

Start this list with “I am a” followed by the nouns you use to describe yourself. For example, my list would be:

I am a…

1) Student

2) Girlfriend

3) Daughter

4) Nanny

5) Runner

Look back at this list as you read this devotion.

You were born with a name. You might have an occupation now or be a student. You might be a Mrs. A mom, a sister, an aunt, or a grandma. You may have a hobby that is important to who you are. Each of these names are what you consider to be your identity. When meeting someone for the first time, you probably describe yourself using these identities. However, you have another identity that is the most important, but it is also often forgotten.

You Are a Child of God!

On Earth, we choose to define ourselves by the things we have accomplished. You take pride in your occupation because it is what you do everyday. You refer to yourself as Mrs or as a Mom because its proof that you have gotten married or had children. However, being a Child of God requires no accomplishment. There is nothing that we can do to earn that title or get it taken away. Many don’t take pride in this title because they didn’t earn it. However, even though it doesn’t represent one of our accomplishments, it represents God’s accomplishment. He created man and woman in his image and sent his Son to take our place. It’s a title that reminds us of His unconditional love for us.

When our earthly identities change…

The problem with using an earthly title to define yourself is that those titles can change. If you have always defined yourself as a nurse, what is your identity if you lose your job? If your main identity is being a mother, what will your life look like when your kids leave home? You will feel as though you have lost your identity. Your identity in Christ will never change over time or completely be lost. As a student, I struggle with making my primary identity be a “student”. Particularly, a “straight A student”. When I receive bad grades, my self-esteem goes down and I feel insufficient because I have failed to uphold my title. These feelings are completely unnecessary! If you just view yourself as first and foremost, a Child of God, you will never feel like a failure!

1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

In a world that wants us to constantly prove our worth, it should feel good to be chosen. Next time you look in the mirror, start thinking of yourself as chosen instead of immediately thinking of your flaws or shortcomings.

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Must Follow Bully and Frenchie Instagram Accounts

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As an English Bulldog owner and lover, I know all the must follow Bully and Frenchie Instagram accounts. I love to follow these cute little furry friends to make me smile and brighten up my day. Here are the star Bullies and Frenchies of Instagram:

1. Bluenjy

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Don’t let the picture fool you, this is a Frenchie, not a real baby! However, this cute little guy loves to eat treats with his front paws, lay on his back, and wear clothes. He is a model for @Frenchiestore, so he loves the camera!

2. Pardonthyfrench

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This pup is a true inspiration. She battled cancer and although she lost her leg, she didn’t lose her spirit. As a rescue dog, she is the perfect example of how a dog can respond so well to a loving new family and a second chance. Princess Bethanee Hamilton has many different expressions and a fun personality.  She is often seen on her three feet scampering around in clothes from her high-fashion wardrobe.

3. Belvis.the.talking.bulldog

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This bulky guy has some serious attitude (narrated by his owner). Belvis is rude, both through his flatulence and his demands. He loves cheese, but basically any foods that aren’t healthy as well. Most days he can be found sticking his tongue out or with a scowl on his face.

4. Worldofbanks

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This Frenchie from L.A. has a beautiful coat and loves to be the center of attention. He is not as well known as other Frenchies on Instagram, but he deserves a shout out because he is absolutely adorable. Somehow, he seems to always know how to charm the camera with his big eyes.

5. Little_millicent

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This Frenchie from Austin, Texas is spunky and loves to be pampered. She loves life, but definitely enjoys her naps. Milly has lots of fans, and seems aware that she is as cute as can be. On her Instagram, her entire life is documented from puppyhood.

6. Gerald_bulldog

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Mr. Gerald… This chubby guy has been on a diet for a long time, but he just loves food too much! He has been caught multiple times digging around in the fridge for snacks. Yes he may be lazy, but he has a big heart. His funny videos and wrinkles will brighten up your day!

7. Bulldogholly

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Holly and Harper are two English bulldogs that enjoy a crazy life together. They are best friends that love to dress alike and snuggle up with each other. You can follow their crazy adventures on their Instagram account. Just be ready for the unexpected!

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Are Your Friendships Healthy?

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Friendship can be very complicated. Feelings are involved and emotions run high when issues present themselves. It is important to have healthy relationships with friends that will encourage you to grow as an individual as you support them. Are all of your friendships actually healthy? Take a look at this cute acronym to decide whether your friendships are everlasting or toxic.

Fun

Make sure that your friendships are enjoyable. When you are with someone, you should feel able to be vulnerable and be yourself. If you are using this individual for personal gain or you think your friend is using you, this is a toxic friendship. Friendships should be rooted in love and genuine care for one another. If you have to force yourself to spend time with a friend of yours, you may want to rethink your relationships to find out why you have these feelings. For the sake of you and your friend, be sure that you are friends for the right reasons.

Reliable

It is crucial to know that you can depend on your friends! You should know without a doubt that if you called your friends in a time of uncertainty, that they would be there for you and willing to help. However, reliability needs to flow from both people in a relationship. If you feel as though you are constantly reaching out to aid your friend, but they never reciprocate this type of support, you need to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation. If you consider someone a close friend, ensure that you are asking for help if you need it. It is not shameful to need an extra boost or a little bit of advice.

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Independence

This important relationship quality may seem strange, but if you have ever had a relationship that lacks independence, it is obvious why it is a problem. Friends are amazing to have in your life, but not all the time. It is important that your friends are not overwhelming to the point that they become a burden to your other relationships or to your daily life. Clingy friend can cause marital problems or distract you from personal achievements.

Empathy

When I was younger, I had a friend that wasn’t very empathetic. During the time that I was on crutches or the times that I was sick, she would belittle my feelings and make them seem irrelevant. Friends should always be concerned with the problems you are facing and not try to down play your emotions or perspectives. Your feelings are important, and a true friend will be able to discern when you are feeling upset and be compelled to comfort you.

Natural

It is difficult to spot “fakeness”, especially in your friends. However, if you start to see your friend acting differently in front of others while with you, talk to them about it. There is no need to be fake friendly or snobby to certain people. And chances are, if they change personalities with each person they come across, they aren’t being their true self around you either. Since life isn’t a reality TV show, you need real friends, not fake ones. Don’t just stand by if your friends are icky sweet to someone and then have a different opinion of them behind their backs.

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Devoted

It is important to have a friend that is devoted to you, but it is also important that they are devoted to their morals and obligations. For example, if you are married and have a best friend who is less than faithful to her significant other, this is not a good relationship to invest in. It is important that you surround yourself with a few very close friends that share your same morals so they can hold you accountable. Although everyone has those “crazy friends”, make sure that they aren’t willing to sacrifice your priorities for a fun time.

Selflessness

Me. Me. Me. Some people only have one word in their vocabulary, and it is me. If you have a friend like this, your conversations probably begin with you bringing up a problem you are having, and end with talking about your friend. Again. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! Sometimes, it is important to talk out issues with friends. This task is nearly impossible if your friend doesn’t want to talk about you, but instead wants to talk about when they had a problem similar to yours. If you are in a friendship with a selfish friend, it is a very toxic relationship.

If your friends have all of these qualities, then they passed! They are true friends and you should keep reminding them how special they are to you. If a characteristic stood out on this list because one of your friends doesn’t possess it, talk to them. I can’t stress this enough! People can never improve or change if they don’t know what they are doing wrong.

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Safe Tips to Buying a Dog Online

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My Experience…

For a long time, I wanted an English Bulldog. They are cute, wrinkly, and have such fun personalities! However, they are very expensive and not very easy to find. I checked multiple websites and many classified ads. I finally found an owner selling his bulldog for only $300 (red flag #1). This was an amazing price because most breeders sell their bulldogs for at least $1200. The owner told me that he had to move (red flag #2) so he couldn’t keep the dog. He informed me that there was a flight leaving that night, and that he could get the dog on a plane so I would have him the next morning. All I had left to do was pay him. The owner refused to take any videos of the dog or additional pictures because he was too “busy” with work (red flag #3). He also wouldn’t talk with me over the phone, all our conversations were over text (red flag #4). He asked me to go to the store to purchase a uShip® giftcard. Once I had purchased the giftcard, I got a convincing email that looked to be from uShip®, asking me to verify the information on the giftcard to finalize my purchase of a one way ticket for the dog to my house (red flag #5). It provided all of the accommodations he would receive in fine print. Once I verified the giftcard payment, I received an email that my payment had gone through. I wasn’t aware that the email address didn’t match the authentic uShip® email address. I was overjoyed and went to bed dreaming of my puppy that would arrive at 10 a.m. approximately the next morning. When I woke up, I waited anxiously. I waited, and waited, and waited some more. No dog. The “owner” sent me a cruel message telling me to “send pictures of our happy family together”. He knew that no dog would ever arrive on my doorstep and he knew the disappointment he was bringing me all for a few hundred dollars. I called the police, but there was nothing I could do at that point because the money from the giftcard had already been transferred into the criminal’s account. Through this depressing situation, I learned a few valuable lessons about buying animals online.

1. Avoid buying from a breeder or owner you haven’t met in person

The easiest way to avoid being scammed is to buy from an owner or breeder in your area. It is perfectly understandable to want to browse the computer instead of a newspaper for dog ads, but try, if possible, to arrange a time to meet the owner in person. You can even request to meet them in a public place if you feel uncomfortable going to their home.

2. If it sounds too good to be true…it is

Don’t try to purchase the cheapest pup available. If a breed is generally more expensive, it should be a red flag if you find it online for an extremely low price. If the owner of the puppy is conveniently moving and needs to get rid of the dog quickly (this is a commonly used scam tactic), then make sure you understand the entire situation. Spend as much time communicating with the owners as possible through phone calls, Skype, and text.

3. Don’t allow the owner to rush your purchase

In my situation, the scammer tried to rush the money transaction because he didn’t want me to have any time to think. If I would have thought about his sketchy instructions, I would have realized that there were a lot of steps that didn’t make logical sense. Scammers often will try to rush payment so that you won’t have time to second guess your decisions. Don’t let them pressure you into a large purchase. Make the payment when you feel comfortable!

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4. Ensure the pictures are original

As technology increases, scammers and criminals adapt and grow smarter. When you come across a picture of a really cute puppy, ask for additional pictures. If the owner isn’t able to take pictures that are very clear, or the posted picture seems too “perfect”, search the dog breed on Google images. Sometimes, scammers steal pictures from the Internet and claim it is a picture of the dog they are selling. Always be sure that none of the Google images match the puppy that you are looking to buy. Also, if the owner refuses to take any additional pictures or videos of the puppy, it is a red flag

5. Check the phone number

Although there are individuals who move to a new state and choose not to change their phone number, be cautious if the dog owner has an area code that differs from the state they claim to live in. There may be a completely harmless reason why the area code and residing state don’t match, but keep a look out for other warning signs. You may not have the luxury of communicating with the owner over the phone, but if you do have their phone number, request to talk to them instead of texting them. If they continue to have poor excuses as to why they can’t talk, this may be a red flag.

When a person violates you personally by stealing from you, it effects you greatly. It hurts your confidence in people and your sense of safety. It is easy to believe that you will always be able to recognize scammers or that you are immune to this type of crime. However, scammers are all over the Internet. It is unfortunate that not everyone can earn money through hard work and treat others with respect and kindness, but not every person has those values. I don’t want to discourage you from purchasing a puppy, but these tips are designed to keep you and your money protected. If you find a dog that will work well for you and your family, I promise it will be the biggest blessing!

Happy Ending….

The day after I was scammed, I was honestly a little depressed. I pictured myself holding my own puppy, but instead I was a couple hundred dollars in debt to my parents. Seeing that I was so upset about the situation, my boyfriend wanted to fix it (as usual). He drove to a breeder he found online and spent all of his graduation money on buying me a puppy. I was unaware of his intentions, but when there was a knock at my door, I was shocked. He was swaddling a baby English Bulldog. Words could not describe how special this moment and his gift was to me. Ever since then, Walter is my best little furry friend. I can’t imagine my family without him!

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Need Help? Tips on Moving

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I recently moved from my home city to a neighboring one, so moving is fresh in my mind. I forgot how hard this whole process truly is! It very difficult to pack up your entire life, and I won’t even mention selling your house or trying to thoroughly clean it. Through my experience, what I did and didn’t do, I have plenty of tricks and tips on moving.

7 Tips On Moving…

1. Label boxes very specifically

Most already have the helpful idea of labeling boxes to make them easier to unpack. However, simply slapping a label on a box is not always as beneficial as you may think. I made the mistake of marking boxes with names such as “bedroom misc” or just “master bedroom”. No, No, No!! Designate each box to a specific location in the room, such as “master bedroom nightstand” or “bathroom closet”. The next step is to make sure that only items from that location make it into the box. I know it’s tempting to throw in a few extra things that were unpacked and forgotten in another room, but don’t do it! It will make your life much easier if you create a specific label and stick to it.

2. Play the “Keep or Throw Away” Game

Before packing all of your belongings, play the “Keep or Throw Away” Game. Moving forces you to go through all of your belongings anyways, so take advantage of this time! It may require a little more effort, but throw away or give away the items you won’t be needing anymore. Also, don’t give yourself a long time to ponder over this decision. Quickly decide, do I need this? Is it sentimental? No? Throw it away or give it away. If your kids are teens, it may be time to give away most of their large stuffed animal collection or clothes that are a few sizes too small. If you know that you are tired of certain decorations in your house, don’t bring them! It is already very hectic and messy unpacking boxes, so make your life easier by not bringing junk.

3. Take the time to walk through your house one last time

This tip doesn’t make moving more efficient, but I think it makes it easier emotionally. Some people are more emotional than others, but I really struggle every time I have to move. I think about what it will be like to never come “home” again as I know it. I will never walk through those doors and feel relieved after a long day at work or school. I even fear that I will forget what my house even looks like as time passes. That is why it is so important to have a proper goodbye. Walk through the house and acknowledge all of the memories that reside there. Cherish them one last time while you’re still at home. For someone who has only lived in their house for a few months, it may be a lot easier than someone who has lived in a home their whole life. I lived in my house for about 9 years so this step was very difficult. It is OK and very normal to not be fully prepared for change when it comes. I honestly don’t think I could have prepared myself to leave my home, but I was so glad I spend a few minutes to appreciate it one last time.

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4. Plan in advance to have help

Moving is not a one person job and usually not even a two-person job. If you are moving yourself (without professional movers), it is very important to have both muscle and other people’s vehicles if needed. You will never have enough room to fit everything in your car and you won’t have enough time to move everything out before the deadline. There are always little things that you will forget until the last minute.

It can also be helpful to have someone walk through the house with you to make sure you didn’t forget anything. It can be easy to forget things that you are so accustomed to seeing daily. Have you taken down the shower curtain in the bathroom? Have you left behind the garage door opener for the new owners (definitely didn’t forget this one…)?

5. Take a tour of your new area

This step is possible for some, and not possible for others, but it is very valuable if you are aware of your new surroundings before moving in. Where is the grocery store? The back roads with the least amount of traffic? Knowing all of this before moving in will make the first few weeks after the move a lot easier. Although it will take time before you will be able to easily navigate without Google maps, it is never too early to start exploring. Nothing is more frustrating getting lost on the way to everywhere! Leisurely exploring your new town is both fun and productive.

6. Change your address on everything!

This step in the moving process requires the most thinking! It is hard to remember every magazine subscription, service company, and other businesses that requires your address. Looking back, I wish I would have started a few weeks before the move writing down every business and person I needed to inform of my change in address. A fun way to let your friends know that you have a new home is to have a house warming party. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but it allows friends and family to be aware of the housing change in a fun way. Plus, you get to show off the new house! (This one is definitely on my calendar, so I will post soon about its successes and failures!)

7. Enjoy the clean slate

Moving is rejuvenating because it is a fresh start. It feels good to start your life in a new town or even a new state. Enjoy it! Pick up a few new hobbies and work to drop the habits that you want to quit. Become the person you want to be because this is the time to do it! Change your perspective and create new memories. On this new journey, have fun experiencing new things and meeting new people. Just get outside of yourself and enjoy life!

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How to Stay Motivated to be Healthy

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I have to admit, after the New Year’s spirit has come and gone, it can be hard to stay motivated to eat healthy and work out. It is important for long term health to stay active and to fuel your body with proper nutrition. Even if you don’t care about the number on the scale (which you shouldn’t) or being the next Victoria’s Secret angel, you should still have a concern for your overall health. Staying healthy will give you more energy and boost your mood.

1. Refocus

Sometimes after a long week of back to back pizza nights and football games on the couch, you just need to refocus. I love to search for motivational quotes that help me to stay strong when I become discouraged.

“Wake up with determination. Go to bed with satisfaction.”- Unknown

This quote is one of my favorites to reflect on and use to get myself back into the right mindset for the next day. When you slip up on your diet or exercise routine, it is easy to feel like giving up. Instead, try to become re-motivated. Look up fitness Instagram accounts that you admire or look up yummy healthy food on Instagram (that always helps me!).

2. Remind yourself why you started

I encourage you to keep a journal and write in it every other day how you are feeling throughout the process of getting healthier. Don’t record your weight or keep a food diary, keep a journal about how being healthier is improving your well-being. As you become discouraged in your journey, you can always look back on this journal to remind yourself how far you have come. Also, I encourage you to record your reasons for beginning your journey to a healthy lifestyle. These very reasons will give you the drive to continue. Whether it is wanting to see your grandchildren grow up or decrease medications, any reason that you feel passionate about will be a good motivator.

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 3. Take Before and After Pictures

We have all seen them. The dramatic pictures that show off an individual’s weight loss displayed side by side. Although it took months and months to get from picture A to picture B, we view them in the same instant. Taking a picture every three weeks can help inspire you to keep going. On the back on the pictures, write the new milestones you have reached. Can you fit a towel around yourself now or see your feet? Record these important moments. When you are done with your journey to health, you will not only have a before and after picture, but also pictures along your journey. Maybe you can use these photos to help inspire friends and family who struggle with their health. Keep in mind however, not only does your body change, but also your skin will clear up and your hair will become healthier. Make sure to include these improved features in your photos and notes as well!

4. Love your body at each stage

If you decide today that you hate your body, your journey will be long and miserable. You will wake up every morning waiting for change that simply takes time. Don’t design a food or workout plan that is not realistic and that will be a quick crash diet. Buy clothes that are flattering to your figure, eat enough to be satisfied, and enjoy treats periodically with friends. Because this process should promote a lifestyle change, you don’t want to feel deprived or depressed. The most important step is to always love yourself. Although this is also the hardest rule, it is by far the most important to your success and happiness.

How to Benefit from Essential Oils

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For Christmas, I received an essential oils diffuser. I knew essential oils made your house smell amazing (which is great for a girl with three dogs!) and the diffuser can change colors so I was psyched. However, I discovered that which scent you choose actually matters. According to Huffington Post and Live in the Now, different scents can improve different areas in your life that could use a boost.

1. Peppermint

Besides reminding everyone of minty gum and candy canes, peppermint can actually aid in concentration. As a student and a blogger, this is the perfect scent to keep around the house. If you ever have one of those “I want to be productive but it is so not happening” days, put peppermint essential oil in your diffuser and sit down while the peppermint scent does its magic!

2. Lavender

After a stressful day at work or extra hype before bed, it can be difficult to calm down and just relax. Enter lavender! Lavender is perfect for making your body relax and it will make you very sleepy. So if you are surrounded by lavender throughout the day, cut it out and save it for nights only!

3. Orange

Similar to orange juice, orange scent is also a good pick me up in the mornings. Studies have shown that citrus scents like orange can improve your alertness. Instead of going straight for the coffee, try a whiff of orange to naturally wake yourself up. Or just use it occasionally for those extra groggy mornings.

4. Jasmine

To be honest, if you don’t know exactly what jasmine smells like, don’t feel bad because I don’t either. But maybe we should! Jasmine has been shown to serve as a natural antidepressant and relieve stress. Doesn’t everyone need that in their lives! During especially stressful days or times of the week, make sure to have jasmine essential oil on hand so that you can make sure to treat your body and mind right.

5. Thyme

Last, but definitely not least. Thyme acts similar to peppermint, by helping you concentrate. However, it does so by relaxing your nervous system. It also has an added bonus of improving your memory. Although thyme has always been thought of as a rarely used spice whose name everyone mispronounced as a child, it is time to give thyme some more credit!

After writing this article, I feel the need to express to you that I am not a hippie. I am not a treehugger or even close to being an environmentalist. I simply am trying new ways to treat my body how it deserves to be treated. When you are stressed, anxious, have difficulty concentrating, or have multiple sleepless nights, listen to your body. Our bodies send warning signals for a reason. The main message of this blog is to treat yourself better. Although it may seem that you are being pulled in hundreds of different directions, don’t forget to treat yourself with respect and take the time to spoil yourself.