Spring Break for Millennial Parents: Kid-Friendly Vacation in Destin, Florida!

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So as a young college student and mommy spring break is a little different for me than it is for many of my peers. I decided to share my family-friendly spring break trip with you guys!

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My family and I spent our Spring Break in Destin, Florida! It’s absolutely gorgeous with bright white sand beaches and gorgeous blue water. It’s also a good combination of college spring breakers and family so for me it was perfect to experience a little bit of both!

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We spent a lot of time at the beach but we also stayed in a gorgeous resort, Destin West beach and bay in Okaloosa Island between Fort Walton and Destin Florida.

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The resort has two sides, the bay side (pictured above) or the gulf side (a view of the beach). It had a bridge over the overpass that allowed guest to walk from one side to the other. I actually preferred the bay side (it was more affordable) because it has several pools, a hot tub and a lazy river. Many of the college students chose to stay on this side so it was buzzing with people. It’s also pretty easy to get to the bridge and walk across to the gulf side to visit the beach.

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Destin was really easy to get around and had lots of areas for walking and activities that both children and adults could enjoy. We visited Harbourwalk village near the Emerald Grande hotel while we were there. destin13

The village has tons of shops, drinks (for both adults and children), Ice cream (even alcoholic ice-cream because apparently thats a thing), Henna tattoo, water sports rentals, you name it! It’s a really nice space to walk with children because it’s separated away from the main roads but also not too close to the water so my little man was free to roam around. I actually stopped to get dippin dots and a henna tattoo here. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and there were people from all over! I’d definitely suggest visiting.

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My husband actually ended up renting a kayak for an hour to take our little man out into the bay (the gulf had a strong current but in the summer you can venture out there as well). Our little boy was much too active so they didn’t stay too long for fear of flipping over, but you can also rent boats which may be a better option for those of you with young children. You can even take them out to Crab Island, a cool restaurant in the middle of the bay!

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If you like sweets you may want to stop by some local grocery stores for fresh fruits (like we did) but one of my favorite places was Destination Little Donuts in Destin. They made all sorts of specialty donuts with various toppings, all very aesthetically pleasing and delicious!

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We actually stopped by twice because I couldn’t get enough of the Oreo Cheesecake and Cookie Dough (pictured above). They were also really informative and friendly so I’d suggest stopping by if you have a sweet tooth like I do! There were also a lot of great restaurants along the beach. Most of them served seafood, which I actually dislike, but there were a wide variety of options within Destin. We ate at Floyds on our first day and had gorgeous view of the beach while we ate.

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We also visited Fudpuckers, a really interesting restaurant that serves pretty good seafood but also hosts a number of live alligators. You can purchase bait to feed them and even get a picture with a baby gator (their mouths are taped for the photo). My little man was much too excited so we had to take him away for a minute, he kept pulling the alligators feet (not a good idea). We also got the chance to see a rare albino alligator. Pretty cool!

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Of course much of our vacation was spent on the beach. We just couldn’t get over how stunning they were!

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We even got shot by a photographer for a local newspaper!

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All in all it was a pretty fun and relaxing spring break and I’d definitely suggest visiting, whether you’re a student, single, or mother of two! We are already planning our next trip back!

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Five Signs You May Need Some Alone Time!

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Lately I’ve been feeling irritable, cranky and tired constantly. I dread every time my alarm clock goes off in the morning, and Monday’s, oh Monday’s are the absolute worst!

If this resonates with you at all you may need some “YOU” time.

Now I’ve heard it all before, but it really clicked for me once I took the time to consciously consider my behavior and what it meant. Maybe that lightbulb will go off for you as well, and after reading the list below you’ll actually make time to do something for yourself.

Every little thing starts to irritate you

Now I’m a naturally impatient person and you may be too but this is different. You find every little thing starts to annoy you REALLY fast! I mean I even had a moment where I wanted to scream at my tv because Netflix paused for too long… yea definitely NOT normal person behavior right there. If you find yourself screaming at your tv, laptop or other inanimate object or maybe just snapping at the people you love… maybe just maybe you need a little break.

You’ve lost a great deal of motivation

Sometimes we all get a little worn out. Have you had those moments where you just don’t want to get out of bed. Maybe you have a huge to do list that you keep pushing off or maybe you’re just not feeling your daily routine anymore. Hey, I’ve been there! In fact I’m there right now so I feel you. Maybe it’s time to take a mental health day (can we make these mandatory please) and go for a walk or run alone, see a movie, visit a spa or pool or just bathe at home with a bath bomb and some candles. If you can’t afford to take a day off plan an evening just for you! You will thank yourself for it later.

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You’re feeling sluggish and fatigued

Your body will be the first to let you know that you need a break. We live in a noisy culture, between Iphones ringing and bosses or schoolwork we never get true rest. I’ll add that just because you may physically be alone doesn’t mean you’re necessarily getting the alone time you need. If you’re at a computer or on the phone the majority of the day you will still feel worn down. Our bodies react to stress and it has a great impact on us. Sometimes a little quiet time is important. If you’re like me and you have a child then quiet time is necessary to stay sane trust me. If you have a spouse or family to babysit schedule time during the day that you can use to have a little rest and this doesn’t necessarily have to be sleep. Just be sure to unplug for a bit and have a little quiet time.

You’re not enjoying your company

Do you find yourself forcing conversations lately? Do you cringe when your phone lights up or someone shows up at your door. If you’re not enjoying hanging out with the people in your life it may be that you’re just not getting enough time for yourself. It shouldn’t feel like a burden to be around your friends and family (unless they are insane). It is okay to say no sometimes and explain that you need a little rest. If they really care they will understand. If not, you’re better off anyway.

You’ve been extremely busy

Sometimes it’s just that simple; you’ve been working way too hard. Remember, we are humans and NOT robots. It’s okay to be proactive but when you start to experience the things above it becomes unhealthy. Sometimes staying busy is a coping mechanism. Take time to rest and consider what’s really going on. Maybe it’s nothing and you really just need rest or maybe it’s something deeper and you’re distracting yourself from it by working day and night. Taking time for yourself allows you to reflect and dig deep, without having time to do this we lose touch with ourselves. So take time to stop and rest!

I hope after reading this you decide to take a little time just for you. It is not selfish to think of your needs from time to time. Your body and mind will thank you for it later!

Comment below with some of the things you do to relax when you’re feeling worn out!

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Understanding SEO; Basic Tips and Tricks

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So for my PR-Tactics class we had a brilliant speaker named Haley Burkhead, owner of marketbeautifully.com, who came to speak with us about SEO and I thought I’d share what I learned.

The term SEO is short for search engine optimization which means optimizing your website, or business so that it can be easily found through search engines. This is allows you to maximize the number of visitors you receive.

A few key-points that she mentioned were:

  • Site Speed: Site speed is how fast your website loads. She mentioned that it’s important that your site loads quickly. According to her a great tool to monitor this is Google analytics site speed tool. It monitors page-load time, how quickly images load, and how quickly the browser analyzes documents and allows for interaction.
  • Keyword Optimization: These are the words you use that make finding your content through search engines easier. She mentioned Google’s keyword planner which helps you find these keywords and even predicts the amount of clicks you may receive using these words.
  • Quality: She stressed the importance of quality content and I couldn’t agree more. I definitely believe gaining visitors has a lot to do with what you’re bringing to the table. One thing she said that stuck out was “work on solving problems.” If you offer a solution people will come.
  • Permalinks: This is the URL on the site for particular content. For example if you’re a blogger you can click on a post and see a unique URL in the search bar. She say’s you should edit these to be short and searchable.
  • Image File Name: The images on your pages should be uploaded with keywords included in the file to make it more searchable. So instead of just uploading images as 001.jpg for example, use keywords.
  • Mobile Responsiveness: Make sure your website works just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop computers. We live in a world where many consumers and potential clients use their cell phones to make a search and if they are to come across your site you want to make sure it’s user friendly regardless of which device they used to get there.

So those are some of the basics she mentioned and I’m sure glad she did. I’m excited to continue to grow my knowledge of SEO and put these tips to good use.

 

Why detachment can sometimes be a good thing

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I wanted to write this post because I am hoping someone else out there can relate to it. I’ll start by saying we all know that there is so much negative energy in the world right now. The political issues, global disputes, social issues and so on. Many of us can’t go a day without hearing something controversial. It is exhausting to say the least.

There comes a time when it’s no longer possible to find a balance between staying informed with what’s happening in the world and in our communities and also remaining sane.

If you’re anything like me you stress A LOT. There is enough to deal with in day to day life without the added stresses of national and global issues. So you may get to a point where you avoid them. You cut off the news, take a break from social media and just pretend all is well.

I consider myself an empath so hearing and seeing the news literally feels like a thousand needles being jammed into my chest, that on top of the daily stresses of my own life can become overwhelming. As much as I believe we should stay informed sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is to pull yourself away.

For me that looks like days or weeks without acknowledging what’s happening in the world. I pretend racism, sexism, fascism and all the other “isms” don’t exist. You could say I push it to the side and live in la la land for a bit, and I find this to be healthy.

However, I find myself feeling defensive… like I’m waiting for someone to tell me I need to be paying attention to what’s happening, that I’m not allowed to forget (as if that were actually possible). What I’m saying is, it’s necessary to detach yourself for a while when it becomes such a burden that you begin to live in a constant state of worry.

Detachment has always been used negatively but I’m saying that sometimes detaching yourself is necessary for your own mental wellbeing. When you allow yourself to do so it also gives you the opportunity to see things more clearly when you feel comfortable enough to step back into the “real world.”

Now do not confuse this with ignorance, it IS important to know and understand what’s happening in our society but this post is focusing on when knowing becomes overwhelming and thus influences how you feel in your everyday activities. That is the case for me as of lately and I wanted to share that me separating myself from all the bad in the world doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. I don’t want anyone to feel guilty for avoiding hearing bad things, nor do I want others judging those of us who may take time just forget it all.

It may look like we are pretending these things aren’t happening and that the bad in the world doesn’t exist and while that may be true for some, it is not the case for all of us. For some, it may be that they feel everything so deeply that they need to pull themselves away for their own health. Remember your mental well-being influences how your body reacts. Detachment is just another form of self-care for some.

Don’t be ashamed to pull away and find some clarity and peace. The stresses of life can have a lot of power over you and if it takes pulling away for sometime then that is absolutely okay! Not all of us are blessed with great coping skills. Do what works for you, whatever it takes to keep your mental health in check.

Thanks for reading!

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How to Stay Motivated for Midterms!

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If you’re anything like me you’re probably already exhausted with your spring classes and are struggling to get by. Spring break is just around the corner and you want to keep good grades but would rather be watching Netflix than studying.

If this sounds anything like you, hopefully a few of the tips below will help.

Find your perfect study place

In order to have a successful study session you need to make sure you’re in the right space to do so. If you have loud neighbors, live in a crowded dorm or are easily distracted by tv screens get out and find a quiet place.

Some libraries offer meeting rooms and cubicles you can use to study. You may even try a quiet lobby if you live on campus or a coffee shop. Note: If you try a coffee shop make sure it’s not during peak hours when it’s super busy. Sometimes studying outside with a blanket and a snack is great too! Fresh air can sometimes be all you need to help you focus.

Reward Yourself

There are times when I’d really rather be watching Netflix than studying, in moments like these I’ve set up a system where I study in intervals and reward myself when I have a break.

Try telling yourself if you study for 30 minutes to an hour you can then go get a treat, watch an episode of your favorite show or visit a friend. It may not seem like much but if you do it several times a day you’ll be surprised how much you end up studying.

Find a Study Buddy

If you’re the type that has trouble retaining the information you study or find yourself reading and then going completely blank right after then you may need a little help. Find someone who you know will actually help you study and set up several times a week to meet for a study date. Note: Do NOT ask that friend that you know will not help. You know the one… you’ll end up laughing and looking at memes on Twitter.

Find someone you know will actually help you study and quiz each other. You’d be surprised how much faster you retain information when you not only read it but hear it. Oh and it never hurts to reach out to that friend that always creates a Quizlet for everyone. Bless!

Keep Your Eye on The Prize

When you’re really low on motivation I suggest using a countdown app or widget. Whether you’re graduating soon or just counting the days until spring break, it always helps to have something to look forward to, to keep you motivated.

For me personally I’m motivating myself to get through my exams by reminding myself that spring break is the week after and I’ll hopefully be on the beach in my bikini with my family relaxing!

So go find a quiet place, grab a friend and set those countdown widgets! Hopefully these tips will help. Good luck!

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How to reach your mental health goals in 2017

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When we tend to focus on our physical fitness goals for the new year but overall wellness requires more. If you’re like me and struggle with poor mental health this post is for you.

I’ve struggled with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and intrusive thoughts for numerous years. While things have improved a bit I’d be lying if I said they were completely better.

A huge goal of mind is to truly heal and grow this year and here is how:

Connect with others

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This won’t be easy. If you’re like me and tend to distance yourself from others this will be your biggest challenge. Find support from others. I’ve learned nothing is more healing than having someone you can really talk to about the things you struggle with.

A key factor in this is finding someone who understands which I’ve found to be hard.

For example I can’t talk to others about the struggles I feel about being a black woman if they have no experience with that. They may be able to sympathize but not show true empathy because they don’t fully understand. Same goes for whatever you struggle with. If you struggle with depression or body image issues it’s helpful to talk to someone who has also dealt with that because they are more likely to understand.

It always helps to open up and to let what your feeling be known and have a safe space to do so.

You can seek people out in a group setting, therapy, church or other spiritual gatherings.

Find the root of your struggles

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Sometimes but not always poor mental health is caused by underlying pain that hasn’t been fully addressed. I understand this isn’t the case for everyone and in some cases it can simply be genetic or caused by chemical imbalances in the brain but for some it’s caused by trauma.

Being unsure of the cause of your pain is very conflicting and can make things more difficult. If you believe the source of your struggles is trauma, dig deep figure out exactly where these thoughts and feelings stem from and go from there.

This is something that will take years and years of work. Therapy helps in many of these situations but also finding others who can relate (as mentioned above). Knowing where you were in your life when your mental health started to take a turn is important because it allows you to understand your triggers and understanding your triggers can bring growth which brings me to my next point.

Avoid Triggers

Easier said than done but once you understand what triggers you and why they trigger you it’s easier to avoid situations that will cause you harm. This is difficult because those around you are not aware of your triggers, they may not understand how your brain works and this is not the same for everyone.

We all struggle differently but something sets us off. Whether it be a comment, someones tone of voice, failure… any of those things can cause a breakdown.

However, it’s also important to note that some triggers can’t be avoided and we simply have to learn effective coping mechanisms to deal with them in a healthier way. This is one of my biggest goals as I tend to lash out either internally or externally when I’ve been triggered.

Being connected to those who understand is helpful but we also have to be able to cope with those who don’t or can’t understand and that’s where things get a little complex. In order to do this you’ll need to work on building healthy coping skills.

Learn to cope

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This is something that you’ll learn as you heal but how you react to triggers is vital and in some situations can be the difference between life or death especially if you’re one who struggles with intrusive or suicidal thoughts. This is a tough cookie to swallow for those who don’t struggle with poor mental health but have close relationships with those who do because for them everything is an “overreaction” or they simply don’t understand.

My suggestions (other than the ones listed above) are to meditate or pray (if you’re religious). For me this is my go to coping mechanism when I’m triggered. Though I personally believe quiet time is important in general whether you pray or not because it gives you a safe space to clear your head.

Working out is also helpful. It’s actually incredible what exercise can do for your mental well-being. Ever heard of runners high? Yea that is a real thing.

Focus your energy into something you love. This can be therapeutic. For me it’s writing and dancing. Simply writing this post is helpful for me as I’m able to express myself. Find things you enjoy doing and in times where you find yourself really struggling do those things.

I want to remind you I am not a doctor or therapist or psychiatrist at all so these tips are just based on my opinion and what helps me personally. Everyone is different. If you find yourself in serious need of help please talk to someone you trust and seek real help. In the meantime if there is something I can do to encourage others who are struggling I will, that is why I write.

Thanks for reading.

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How to reach your fitness goals in 2017

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If you’re like me you see the new year as a great opportunity to start fresh with your fitness goals. It’s so easy to get off track but if you start making steps now they soon become habits.

Here are a few tricks I’m trying and you should too!

Don’t Skip Breakfast

I realize not everyone struggles with this but I did for sometime. It’s so important to eat a healthy breakfast first thing in the morning, and can really help you not feel super hungry later in the day.

Some quick healthy breakfast ideas are:

Oatmeal with cinnamon, honey and fresh fruit (I like to add strawberries and bananas)

Toast with jam and cottage cheese

Egg white omelet with spinach and cheese

Drink Plenty of Water

This one is so important but is easy to forget. You should try to drink at least 2 liters a day. This may seem like a lot but once you get into the habit of it, it becomes a lot easier.

I’ll admit I’m still slacking on this and it’s not because I’m drinking other things but because I’m not drinking enough fluids in general. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger and end up eating when we really need water.

I’ve started using an app I used in the past to really help me with this.

*I promise this isn’t sponsored it’s just a really great app*

It’s called plant nanny and you track how much water you drink a day. If you do well your plant grows and if not your cute little plant withers away.

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Find exercise you enjoy and do it often

Okay so this one is crucial. If you find that you have to literally drag yourself to the gym it may not be for you and that’s okay. Find exercise you really enjoy because you will be more likely to stick with it.

I personally like to dance. I listen to a lot of k-pop (Korean pop music) and I get my exercise by dedicating an hour of my day to just practicing dances in my living room. I’ve also attended a few Zumba classes which are really fun and highly recommend if you like dance.

If not there are tons of other ways to get good exercise besides the gym.

You could try yoga, jogging, boxing, martial arts or even a self-defense or swim class.

Find what works for you and stick with it.

There are even great in home workouts on youtube for free that are easy to do at home with no equipment.

Replace tempting food with healthy treats

It’s hard to reach your fitness goals if you’re constantly being tempted. If you lack self-control like I do it’s best to just clean your kitchen out and only leave the good. Replace ice-cream with frozen yogurt or frozen fruit (you can actually blend it up after freezing so yummy).

Pinterest is a great place to look for healthy replacements. You would be surprised what healthy treats actually really curb your cravings.

My personal favorites are banana chips (or just plain bananas), yogurt and granola bars. Quick and healthy.

Walk when you can

As simple as it sounds this can really help burn those extra calories. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and walk to class or work when you can. It’s also great after a big meal. Taking an evening stroll is also really relaxing, I’ve found I always sleep better when I walk after dinner.

Well guys there you have it. I’ll be trying these tips all year and keep you updated with more. Hope this helps someone.

Thanks for reading.

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