Saint Valentine or St. Augustine?

As a Floridian, I grew up hearing all about St. Augustine and the fort. In 5th grade I went on a field trip to visit; however appreciating the history of the town didn’t happen until now, in my 24th year of life.

For this Valentine’s day, I was lucky enough to have a partner that planned a little getaway to the historic and haunted town of St. Augustine. Upon arriving in the town, I felt like I had been transported through a time capsule to an earlier Florida that truly resembled Spain.
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We arrived at our Air bnb, a 1930’s cottage around 2 pm.
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Our first downtown experience included visiting the Cathedral Basilica and the Oldest Wooden School House. Live music lived at each pub and restaurant. Street performing violinists, guitarists and bucket drummers were at home in the alleyways and on every corner.

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We dined out at The Columbia; this location opened in 1983 and the original opened in 1905. We sipped on their famous red sangria and munched on crab and shrimp dip. My main course of cannelloni pasta filled with lobster and scallops was dressed with a sherry reduction cream sauce. The recipe was created in Barcelona in 1836.

After dinner we attended a historic walking ghost tour. The story teller brought us to locations including Flagler college, the local churches, the town square and alleyways, all where people had been killed. Ranging from public executions of pirates to romantically fueled murders, this town was drenched in death. The story teller literally said “If you take anything away from this tour I hope it’s this, you’re walking on a layer cake of dead bodies.”
After our ghost tour, we had a small bonfire and decided to turn in for the night.
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The next morning we were checked out by 11 am and were on our way to try a new restaurant in the historic Casa Blanca. The new restaurant “Brunch” was attached to the Casa Blanca and presented a beautiful oceanside view of sailboats and cloudless crisp skies.
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Did I mention we walked through the haunted gates?
Supposedly a childlike ghost is ever present among them.
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The gates themselves are over 200 years old.

 

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We stopped by the Shell Shop Trading Store to give the souvenirs a once over and also peeked into the wax museum that had once been a drug store. Personally, I’m not a fan of non-moving figurine like people, but I can appreciated a big medicine cabinet. The front room of the museum is worth checking out. There were shelves upon shelves stacked with old-timey medicines and remedies. There was something morbidly intriguing about the old drug store.
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After perusing the many popular prescriptions (and deciding that they all looked like death in a bottle) we stepped into a small garden area that housed The Love Tree. Legend has it that if you kiss under the tree, you are guaranteed eternal love with this person. Not pictured: the kiss. We decided to keep that picture just for us.
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We also found another hidden garden attached to a local shop, decorated with colorful prisms and sun-catchers.

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Our last stop was the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the states. The walls were all made of coquina, a shell found only in the Caribbean and Florida. The tall rounded ceilings housed prisoners, soldiers and Native Americans that were once held captive.

Experiencing so much history in one place was almost overwhelming; it was like you could feel the energy of war and legend throughout the 500+ year old town. My goal for my next visit is to explore the famous lighthouse. If you’re native to Florida or even from elsewhere, I highly recommend taking the trip to St. Augustine to fully submerse yourself in the history and hauntings.
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As always, thanks for reading and much love to you from me.

Fresh Squeezed Friday

Part One.

Laundromat soap and stale cigarette smoke both flushed my nostrils as I peddled past the plaza. The buildings were old and you could tell because the wall stucco was cracking in a fashion that didn’t look like it was meant to have a rustic feel; it just looked shitty. I paused at the crosswalk until a pickup halted and honked for me to pass. I pressed onwards to the trail ahead of me. It was like being a kid, like I was flying. This bicycle below me wasn’t just a vehicle forward but one of time travel. At least that was what the flea market vendor sold me. Maybe it was a metaphor and I fell for it. Regardless, I had the wind on my face and I felt like a humming bird buzzing past the tree stumps below me-until I really went flying. Face first, elbows grinding the pavement, hips over my head, flying.

What kind of time travel bullshit was this? I could hear the chain still spinning and the tires rotating at maximum speed. I saw my phone was 20 feet away as I inch-wormed up to a sitting position. Blood trickled to my wrists and my knee caps mirrored the red ribbons. I felt flushed and light headed; and so so angry. That kind of anger that bubbles beneath the surface for days, the kind of anger that steams your throat and worms up to your eyes through tears that weren’t supposed to be there. My face was wet; I started laughing. Uncontrollable and inconsolable laughter spewed from my lips. A bike gang of ten year olds sped past me yelling out misused curse words; clearly they didn’t know dyke wasn’t offensive anymore.

It was in that moment that I got it- nobody ever grows up. There is no real adulthood. I got up and hauled my bicycle off the trail to lay sunny side up in the grass. Cloud watching was my favorite pastime as a kid. I had this giant bouncy trampoline growing up. Half the time I’d bounce, and the other half I’d lay. I’d lay and look and ponder. I found myself drifting off into the blue haze above me. I blinked and blinked and felt something was off. I wasn’t in the grass anymore. I wasn’t in my body, not my adult body. I wasn’t bleeding either. My limbs were stumpy and short extending from my chubby midsection. I slinked upwards. A woven black canvas stretched beneath me. My giant trampoline. My childhood trampoline.

I began to panic. I could feel the sweat beads forming like little pearls rolling down my spine. Why was I here? Where was my bike? How would I get home? Something else was off. I could hear explosions. Far off in the distance there were sharp flashes and a thick layer of smoke. I was pressed to find out who’s backyard my trampoline was in. I stumbled down, feeling significantly shorter. I heard a woman screaming and figured that was my cue to run. I launched myself up a rusted chainlink fence and my denim rhinestone shorts caught at the top. How old was I that I thought it was okay to wear rhinestones? I fell forward, flat on my knees, pushed up and continued running. The woman slammed the wooden door to the back of her olive shack of a house; I barely caught a glimpse of her. I kept running into the thickening smoke. The booming grew deeper but I felt like I was being pulled by a magnet. I  slowed my pace to get a good look around.
To be continued.

Thanks for reading!
Much love~

Trending on a Tuesday

What’s causing blips on my Tuesday radar?

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If you go on Twitter, #TuesdayThoughts is trending. Tweeters different and alike all share their positive and occasionally negative current thoughts, pertaining to Tuesday. Most tweets were positive inspiration to focus on oneself-which I totally dig. Some tweets reverted back to the ongoing political climate. My favorite tweets were those that steered clear of anything too controversial; not because I don’t love a good controversy but because seeing twitter users spread a little love was pleasant. Why spread extra love today?

It’s Bob Marley’s birthday!
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He would’ve been 73 years old today. Born on February 6, 1945, the Aquarius that spoke to and continues to reach many of us, passed away in 1981. His messages of love and harmony still feel like a relevant overarching theme in today’s ever changing world. My personal favorite songs of his are “Redemption Song” and the ever classic “Could You Be Loved.” The real question is- could you be loved? Are you loving yourself and others today? Turn up some good ole Marley and spread the love today.

In other news- read that with your best imaginary anchor voice- NPR published an article posing the question “Can computers learn like humans?” And I am totally perplexed.
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The article goes over artificial intelligence and the exponential growth in recent years. The main idea is to get computers to be self sufficient in learning new programs but the biggest obstacle is granting them that ability and being able to create the experience. How creepy would it be to have your laptop converse with you and your spouse about the weather?
But how dope would it be to have your microwave tell you that your leftovers smell absolutely delicious? Here’s the link if you’d like to explore the article more, because as much as I love to share my fleeting thoughts, the facts are much more intriguing.

https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2018/02/05/583321707/can-computers-learn-like-humans

Now you’ve got an entire day ahead of you! Tweet something sweet or political with the hashtag #TuesdayThoughts, turn up Bob Marley and salute him with your choice of burning flame; candle or otherwise. Maybe even go chat up your microwave.
Don’t worry, (I won’t tell anyone) and be happy.

Thanks for for reading, much love.

Feat. image from Rolling Stone originally.

4 Stellar Beings in Black History

After a few polls on instagram, it became apparent that astronomy was the topic that most people were interested in. With the beginning of February comes the start of black history month; so I decided to merge the two stellar topics.

One light year is equal to roughly 5.87 miles. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 100,000 light years in diameter. At around 5.9 billion kilometers away from the sun, we have Pluto. However, our solar system doesn’t just end at the planets in orbit; the speculation continues but we don’t really know the precise area that our solar system ends. To make you feel even smaller, there are an estimated 200 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. That’s 200 billion possibilities for other solar systems, whether they be in the past, present or future; because remember, stars are ever growing, changing and exploding. 

Astronomy is the study of these planetary objects, space and stars and all galaxies. The stars and planets beyond Earth may feel far away, but in the current scheme of universal life, we are the closest we will ever get to be. Since we are all byproducts of celestial explosions and star formations, we’re all inevitably connected. That’s a lot to take in.

Despite that connection, African American astronauts and astronomers are unfairly far and few in between; and with that limit, these remarkable humans are still under-acknowledged. Without further ado, here are 4 astronomical African Americans.

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Mae Carol Jemison-

The Stanford and Cornell graduate was the first African American woman sent to space.
She’s also been in an episode of Star Trek and has nine- count them- NINE doctorates. She’s spent over 190 hours in space. I’ve spent 190 minutes on NASA’s website. She’s pretty amazing.

 

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Charles F. Bolden-

As the first African American man sent to space, he clocked over 680 hours in space.
He also served in the Marines and was also acknowledged by Barrack Obama before retiring. Also, check out that mustache; can you say suave?

 

Edward-Banneker-1Benjamin Banneker-

The self-taught clock maker and mathematician began his work with astronomy in 1773. He was able to precisely calculate solar and lunar eclipses.
He created charts and tables of celestial and planetary positions that grew into published almanacs. Also, I particularly love this illustration because he looks very sultry, but still means business.

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Beth Brown-

She was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Michigan. She worked primarily in NASA’s X-ray Astrophysics department. Beth passed away in 2008.

I know this article is coming off sort of like a book report, however I wanted to acknowledge these incredible humans. Next time you look at the stars, I hope you think of these folks that were able to sacrifice and work for us all. The study of astronomy is a service to us; to bring together people and maybe even other types of life one day. The intergalactic possibilities are endless in the future. However, all we have is now. The galaxy exists not only above and around us, but within each of us. Right now we can practice gratitude for the people that made understanding our astronomy possible.

Links

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/solar-system-0/
https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-space/solar-systems-in-galaxy.html
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbytype/African_American_Astronauts.html
https://www.thoughtco.com/benjamin-banneker-3072227
https://www.biography.com/people/benjamin-banneker-9198038
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_A._Brown

 

What the hell is DACA and does it matter?

I’m glad you asked.
DACA is like gluten; everyone is talking about it, but does anybody really know what it is?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. According to FactCheck, the Obama administration created the act for children that were brought here by their families illegally. I don’t know about your parents, but when my parents took me somewhere, I couldn’t just..not go.
These children and other recipients, mostly younger adults, are commonly referred to as “the dreamers.” Oh, and it’s not free to be a “dreamer.”
The application fee stays around $495 and that’s if you get accepted and processed within the 120 days it typically takes to get through paperwork. The fee can reach up to $575 if you are priority. Did I mention the dreamers have to renew and pay the fee again as well? This isn’t a one time deal.

I decided to take a look at the 7 page application process on the USCIS.gov. To be honest, it gave me a headache looking through the pages. If you’d like to try to navigate it yourself, here’s the link:
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca

Oh and here’s the instructions for the files.
https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-821dinstr.pdf

Oh and here’s the link for the changes.
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-january-2018-preliminary-injunction

Oh and here’s the actual process to apply.
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca#filing%20process

Oh, and here’s more updates.
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca#previousdacaupdates

If it wasn’t enough to make this process comically difficult, our government is now going to take away the option entirely in March.

Also, this isn’t going towards or applying for citizenship. This is only to defer being deported while you’re applying for a green card; which includes much more paperwork, more expensive fees and longer wait times. I’m not saying it should be easy. I’m saying, the process is plenty difficult and expensive; you’d think that’d be the kind of process our president would prefer.

Imagine this scenario:
Your parents bring you to a country where you don’t know the language or culture. You only know there’s supposed to be better opportunities and it might be safer than where you were. You’re working while in high school just to give the government a big chunk of your money. You want to finish school and maybe go to college while you’re still on the waiting list to pay more money to be processed for citizenship; which can take years. All the while, you’re in a country with a president that says he wants to do away with the one program allowing you access to a better future. People accuse you of being here for free, but do they know about the fees, forms, wait times, guidelines and hard work surrounded by insults and rejection?

This is why DACA matters. I have no idea what it feels like to live this struggle, but after my very basic research I can say it looks really difficult to apply for DACA. I’m tired of hearing people say immigrants are coming here for free or that they’re lazy or not trying to gain citizenship. Nearly 800,000 people rely on DACA. Not for free assistance. Not for a free ride. Not for a free stay. It’s not free at all. It’s not easy to attain. They rely on it, simply for a chance.
The fact is that our government is taking away that chance. Even with making our immigrants jump through all those hoops, it’s still not enough.

My great grandmother came here from Italy, on a boat without much money. If she hadn’t immigrated here, I wouldn’t exist in this life that I live.

Although our president didn’t abruptly end the program, it does expire in March. This means, no more new applicants. Maybe you’re thinking, “that just means more people won’t be coming into the country.”
What about the people that haven’t been processed in time? What about the people finally gaining the courage or gaining access to the money to apply now? What about the kids brought here who didn’t even know about it? What about the young adults who finally have the time and understanding to apply?
There are so many grey areas.
I’m not sure what will be proposed by congress for incoming immigrants. Ending the act doesn’t mean people will stop entering America. It means more people will be here without properly deferring their deportation, which would prevent them the opportunity to gain citizenship.
Ending the program essentially means we will have more illegal immigrants, not less.

I challenge you to wonder- what will happen to all those kids?
DACA isn’t a perfect solution, but ending it entirely doesn’t solve really, anything.

Links I used for information for this article:
https://www.factcheck.org/2018/01/the-facts-on-daca/
https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-january-2018-preliminary-injunction

So you’re a broke b*tch, and you’re tired of it.

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The best way to have more money, is to spend less of it. Then you can save more. The modern “American Dream” isn’t anything more than to one day be debt free. And if you’re not in debt, you’re probably living week to week, wondering how in the world you’ll be able to retire one day.

If you have time to read this, you have the time and half the mind to make some changes and implement some new ways to improve you monetary well being. I believe in you. (And I’m not going to tell you to sell your clothes or fill out surveys for an extra $5). Old or young, here are 19 ways that can help you prevent blowing money and start saving on your monthly fortunes.

Student Loans should be avoided at all costs.
If that means you can’t go to school right away, then so be it. The world will keep turning and the job market is ever changing. Maybe work for a year and set aside some cash. Take this time to really figure out what you want to study. This will prevent you from changing your major and spending extra money on excess classes in the future. Check out things like Bright Futures for Florida residents and other scholarships based on your state.

Kill your ego, swallow your pride and be okay with taking time to get your education. College is to help you get ahead in the “real” world. So why would you want to set yourself back with debt and interest that you can’t afford? If that means taking a break from school, then so be it! College doesn’t guarantee a job anymore. Be wary of signing up for a lifetime of loans.
Take. Your. Time. Before. You. Sign.

Have an emergency fund.
The first way to stop being broke, is by being prepared.

Whether that be a fund of $100 or $1000, you should have money that you leave untouched. Yes, it is hard to leave that money alone. Yes, it is hard to put money aside for literally nothing; until you need it for something unannounced.

Bug infestation? Red light ticket? You got robbed? That’s what it’s there for; and trust me, those things happen. Start by setting aside $10 a week. You can have you bank set up a separate savings account or go old school and hide it under your mattress. Although, I don’t encourage the latter, the choice is yours. Get to it, thank me later.

Shop Discount Supermarket Stores.
Forget Walmart’s grocery section. They aren’t as cheap as you think. I will shop there for certain items but never grocery shop there. And Whole Foods is a dream, but they’ll also take your whole paycheck.

I choose to shop at Aldi, where there is everything from fresh organic food options to household items to a section dedicated just to gourmet cheese..at half the price. I mean quality filets wrapped in bacon..at $5? I’m not lying.

The catch? Bring a quarter to get a cart and your own reusable bags. You can also buy bags there. I feel good about not adding to the problem of plastic waste and everyone actually returns their carts to get their quarter back. And you’ll never have to worry about a cart running astray and hitting your lovely BMW that you bought with all the money you saved. Unfortunately Aldi sin’t everywhere, so here’s a link to a site with a list of discount supermarkets all over the U.S.!

http://time.com/money/4032059/aldi-winco-sprouts-fresh-thyme-grocery-prices/

Do online shopping while you’re sober.
Nuff said.

Be a responsible car owner, even if you aren’t a great driver.
Pay your tickets on time. Late fees are literally you saying “here, I messed up and I messed up again, so please take more of my money.” Seriously, set an alarm on your phone or write it on your calendar.

We live in a wonderful world, where you can compare car insurance and also buy insurance in bulk. If you aren’t buying your car insurance for 6 months, I don’t know what you’re doing. Buying every 6 months, gives you all that time to set aside money every month and you save hundreds of dollars. When you buy for 6 months, the company discounts the overall price. You don’t have to worry about paying every month. Instead, set up another savings account and have money automatically deposited to that account. Write down the date that the insurance is due, and pay it when the time comes.You can also adjust your coverage each time you renew, as long as it is within your states requirements. You’ve got options people!

Save for a new car before you jump into payments. Put as much down as you possibly can; and avoid getting a loan at all costs. If that means you can’t afford the newest, nicest and fastest car then again, so be it.

You will feel much freer driving a functioning vehicle that isn’t crushing your mental and monetary status. Also, get a sunpass/E-pass/whatever-pass for tolls. You can only avoid toll roads so much. You may as well avoid getting fees in the mail for unpaid tolls.

Insure gadget items.
You’ll eventually set your phone on the back of your car and drive off. Your cat will inevitably knock your coffee cup onto your laptop. And yes, you will bring home a one night stand that has actually been eyeing your new apple watch the entire time. Most times, insurance isn’t that much more, whether it be $10 extra a month on your phone plan or paying $100 extra when you buy that new MacBook.

It’s cheaper than replacing the whole thing. Can you tell I’ve been there, done that? Insurance is worth it. Here’s some math, just to show how easy it is. If you reduce going out to eat by just twice a week, you could save $10-$20 a week. Let’s stay on the low end. For $10 a week at 4 times per month, you’ll save at least $40 per month. If you set that aside for 2 months and 2 weeks, you’ll have that money for that insurance. That’s just a loose example; it’s doable!

You should be going out and having fun.
Just do it with a cost effective edge in mind. Wanna go see a movie? Go to a matinee show for $5 rather than $13. Or most theaters offer a monthly package if you like to go a lot. For instance, the movies near me offer a movie club for $10 a month and you can go as much as you want. If you go once, you’ve gained what it’s worth. Also, utilize apps that suggest drink specials and happy hours. Or simply google bars near you with specials. And don’t forget to uber! An uber is cheaper than a DUI every time.

Plan affordable dates.
It’s so easy to pack some snacks and bring a blanket to the park or visit your local botanical gardens. The botanical gardens near me offers free entry every Monday. Trader Joe’s offers bouquets of flowers ranging from $2.99-$10. Not into flowers or being outdoors?

Check local museums for discounted days of the week or or check out local coffee shops around some interesting eclectic areas. Live music is always a plus; some restaurants and bars offer live music for free on specific nights. Some of the best dates that I have ever been on, were the simplest.

Prioritize your health.
Buy prescriptions online or in bigger sums. You can save money on prescriptions by asking your pharmacist about buying in larger quantities. For example, I buy my asthma medications in 3 month supplies. Sometimes I can get the 3rd month for free or an overall discount on my inhalers.

When it comes to medications, make sure you have them but still see if there are ways to make them more affordable. It also helps to buy generic meds; they preform the same function at a much more affordable price. Also, make time to go to the doctor once a year and the dentist as well. It’s important to get your gynecological check ups as a female too.

It’s easier to pay for check up fees, than it is if a major issue goes undetected. Then you’ve got hospital bills and that’s what were really trying to avoid here by prioritizing health.

Budget realistically.
Start by identifying what you’re willing to actually reduce in cost. If you use your cell phone as a mini-computer for your work, then maybe you should be splurging on unlimited data. But if you aren’t, then maybe you could lessen your phone bill by reducing the data or minutes you buy. I know I text way more than I chat on the phone, so unlimited talk isn’t totally necessary for me.

This is applicable to food costs, electric/gas and water too. Can you dine out less? Buy less drive-thru coffee? Turn off your A/C when you leave the house? Take shorter showers? It’s up to you, but be real with yourself. You don’t have to sit in your hot apartment while starving to death in the dark to cut corners. Also that sounds very uncomfortable.

Another tip is to put bills on auto pay. If you’re following your budget plan, the money will be there. I’m such a stickler about paying late fees. Stop giving away your money and set up auto pay!

Don’t gamble.
Do I need to explain this? Just don’t. You look like a fool and unless you can count cards like Zach Galifianakis in “The Hangover” I don’t want to hear it.

Shop around on big ticket items.
You don’t have to wait for black Friday to buy that bicycle you’ve been eyeing or that laptop either. Most websites run weekly specials or offer coupons. I recently bought my own bicycle. In the cycle dealership stores, the one I wanted easily went for $600+ but then I found something similar through Dick’s sporting goods.

I then kept looking on Amazon and found an even better deal with a bicycle that better fit my needs. Craigslist also has a plethora of bikes that people are getting rid of that were hardly ridden. Apps like Decluttr, Letgo and OfferUp are all great alternatives as well to buy lightly used items. Decide to set aside that money weekly. Then when you have the lump sum for the item you desire, and have done your homework, go for it!

This brings me to my next point- save for splurges.
You’ll feel even more satisfied; you’ve literally earned it. Have savings goals. If you want a tattoo, say okay I need X amount of dollars. Then do it. You can, and you will if you really want it. Sitting through that session will be much more exciting, knowing that you own the ink you wear- fully.

Buy secondhand/used clothes.
I personally love going to second hand stores for clothing items. I know the items won’t shrink and that essentially, nobody else will have the same outfit as me. It feels good reusing something that brought someone else value and can now serve purpose in my wardrobe.

Utilize credit cards in a better way.
Get a credit card with cash back and low apr. The Capital One card is great for earning cash back on all purchases. The citi chase credit card is another great option with low interest. If you have a lot of debt, one way to deal with it is by consolidating debt onto cards with lowest apr. Then transfer balances when interest rises so that you can continue paying on the actual balance, not interest.

Shop like a crazy couponer – without being too crazy.
If you have pets, you know you’re going to buy pet food. If you wear make up, you know you’re going to buy make up. There are price matching apps and simply downloading apps for the stores you shop at will allow you access to weekly deals and coupons for free. Before you rush into the store, pull up the information and give it a quick scan.

I personally choose to buy mostly Elf make up because it’s affordable, quality and the products aren’t tested on animals. Besides, who’s to say a rabbit’s skin will react like mine will anyways?

Have a side hustle.
Whether it’s driving with Uber or waitressing to earn some extra money or volunteering to get your foot in the door for a job, a side hustle helps. It doesn’t have to be entirely draining or time consuming, unless that’s what you’re wanting, just something to bring in some extra cash or opportunities.

Utilize student discounts or state resident discounts.
Spotify, Hulu, gym memberships, yoga classes and libraries are just a few places to mention that offer student discounts. For a while, even Joanne’s fabrics store offered student discounts. Don’t be afraid to ask while at the register, the worst they can say is no and the best they can say is yes; and you save a few bucks!

When heading to theme parks, check for state resident discounts. Disney offers passes on close to 75% of their days, that are discounted nearly $20 for Florida residents. That’s $20 extra that you could put towards gas or food!

Be patient.
Any article, website or video that says you can rid yourself of debt, save money or make cash fast, is lying. This is a process. This is a breaking and making of old and new habits. There is no quick fix- unless you’re willing to enter the black market or sell your body and that’s an entirely new set of skills to learn; and also a different article to read.

These are small changes with big effects; which take time. It may be a month or two before you notice the extra money. It may be a year or two before you notice a decrease in your debts. Be patient.

The results will come when you put in the work. It’s all achievable, but patience is key. Only you can make the decision to lead a more responsible monetary life. Only you can make that happen on your own timeline. Hopefully these apps and links can help facilitate your journey. I hope I’ve been able to enlighten you to some of things that I implement into my own life and have found successful.

Thanks for reading! If you have any tips, feel free to share them with me 🙂

4 New Age Podcasts for the New Year

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You are what you consume.
Whatever you let into your orbit of mind-space, exists within that rule. I don’t know about you, but that can be a little overwhelming for me. I started listening to podcasts because I was tired of the Top Charted music lists and the radio. I was tired of hearing and consuming the same entertainment that failed to challenge my thinking. Podcasts offer another way to ingest knowledge while itching that forgotten bite of enterprise and conception. They are a way to shut out the noise of mundane politics or create a mental variety among daily routines. Maybe you’re looking to broaden your horizons or question the unknown. Maybe you just want something to laugh at. Here’s 4 unconventional podcasts I highly recommend tuning into this 2018.

1.The Minimalists
Let’s start with a podcast about the simple life. If I’ve learned anything from this podcast, it’s that simplifying is anything but easy. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus talk about their personal reasons for leading a minimalistic lifestyle and share how to focus in on the important things. They went from six figure, top-of-the-food-chain corporate jobs to minimalistic baristas. They’re happier than ever and the best part is how hilariously honest they are.

For example, they don’t give you a laundry list of how to declutter, but rather packing parties while making fun of each other in the process. They talk about how letting go through their longer stories and through tweet able phrases as well. These are called their “minimal maxims.” Their documentary has been featured on Netflix and their website allows access to all the their blog-style essays, for free. Even better, their podcast has NO advertisements, because advertisements would go against their message of emphasizing quality over quantity. They really practice what they preach, and they LOVE coffee. They even have their own coffee shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m yet to make the visit, but as a fellow coffee enthusiast, it’s definitely on my agenda.

The guys interact with people on their tour and through the net to answer real life questions and offer advice with achievable solutions. They never suggest trying to change or convert others to a life of minimalism; they emphasize loving people exactly as they are. Their message is simply about loving one another, rather than loving things. In a world full of marketing and materialism, I’ve found their podcast to be honest and enlightening.

Website- https://www.theminimalists.com

2. And That’s Why We Drink
Calling all ghost hunters and true crime enthusiasts: this one is for you. This is a podcast about haunting paranormal and murder/serial killer stories. Hosts Em and Christine typically start the L.A. based show by talking about the laughable reasons why they drink that week, then phase into the show’s content. Em covers the paranormal stories and Christine the true crime stories.

The two detail the history for their stories and keep it morbidly comical. The hilarious commentary compliments the typically gruesome content. The duo shows nothing but respect for the events discussed by incorporating the most clever sarcasm. They often say “The world is a scary place and that’s why we drink” and in today’s world I couldn’t think of a better way to keep the darkest topics intriguingly  light.

Website-http://andthatswhywedrink.com/

3. The Hilarious World of Depression
Depression: often considered a feeling but still a diagnosis not taken seriously often enough. If you can get on board with that definition, you can agree that an equation of humor plus this clinical condition could sum up to some pretty relatable conversations.

John Moe hosts the podcasts with guests that tell stories from their most profound “a-ha” moments to some of their funniest “ha-ha” moments, amidst experiencing depression. By challenging the stigma of mental health, the show opens up conversations too many of us are uncomfortable with. Like, what is being medicated really like? What are the signs of depression that we see but clearly overlook? And my favorite, why is depression so damn funny sometimes?

I think it’s the satirical cynic in us all that enjoys this show’s clever and charming approach to something that affects all of us; whether it be around us or inside of us.

Website- https://makeitok.org/the-hilarious-world-of-depression-podcast

4. The Heart
Episode titles are essentially what grabbed my attention.
“I like me”
“Poo”
“Movies in Your Head”
“The Spark”
“The Real Squishy”
The range of topics touch all corners and crevices of eclectic interests, issues and politics. The episodes feature callers, soundbites and stories all extending to positively influence listeners.
By magnifying humanity and intimacy, the podcast promotes body positivity and feminism. The show branches from the host Kaitlin Press and her predominantly female producing team. Since radio is dominated by male hosts, I found it to be quite a treat to come across a podcast that amplifies the female experience in such an artistic fashion, while still keeping it hella real.

website-http://www.theheartradio.org/

These podcasts are available through a multitude of mediums, however my preferred source is Spotify. The channels are available for free and also through the membership. I’m not sponsored or influenced to write about any of these. I simply enjoyed them and felt the urge to share my enjoyment.
Feel free to reach out and recommend your favorite podcasts to me as well 🙂

Meditation 

Recently I attended a music festival in Live Oak, Florida. The town is right on the Suwannee river near the Florida/Georgia border. I was encompassed by interactive art displays, booming music sets, a crisp fall air and some of the most creative minds I’ve ever encountered.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a workshop happening that resembled a meditation. My girlfriend and I sat down to listen in. The speaker told us about how we could achieve anything we wanted, if we were able to visualize it.

The workshop was free; the speaker humbly sat on the ground. She said, this could be as simple as drawing a stick figure on a piece of paper and saying “this is me and I’m happy.” And then you could go through your day, continuing to visualize this, and succeed in it.

Or it could be as complicated as planning out your next career or travel moves. The choices were not limited. Anyone could do anything. As long as you could visualize yourself achieving whatever it was, you would attract the possibilities and opportunities.

What I really took away from this workshop was also the ability to let go, and to embrace detachment. Its important to look inward and say, “okay I recognize that I’m feeling this right now, I acknowledge that. And now I’m choosing to feel a different way.” There is so much power in gaining control over one’s emotions. 

Recently meditations have helped me greatly. Taking 5 minutes a day to scan over how my body is feeling, what my mind is thinking and how my emotions are affecting me is beneficial. I’m able to ground myself and return to the simple idea, that I can achieve whatever I want, as long as I can visualize it. Sometimes I don’t always know where to picture myself in the future or what exactly I’ll be doing. However, when I emit those positive vibrations and mentally picture myself successful and happy, I’m able to open my eyes and be even more grateful for all that I already have.

 I highly recommend trying out short mediations and tracking the way it affects your daily life. It’s as easy as looking up 5 minute guided meditations on youtube. If you have 5 minutes to read this then you’ve got the time! Just sit, and breathe. Let your thoughts come and go without judgment of self. See if you feel like you can think more clearly. See if you attract more good in your life. Good attracts good. Even when we experience bad, if we choose to stay positive, we can come out a winner. Attract the vibrations you desire, by sharing them first.

11 Twists of 37 Dreads

I’ve had dreads for nearly a year now. Over the past year, my life has changed dramatically, and a big reason is due to my hair. The way others perceive me and treat me overall is unlike ever before. Some experiences are positive and some aren’t so much. I’ve had to get used to complete strangers coming up to me to comment on my hair. Sometimes they touch it unannounced. I’ve been turned down from jobs because of my locks. However, I’ve been granted more fitting and positive situations by people who accepted me and my 37 locks. Here’s 11 of the most common questions, comments and myths I encounter on a daily basis.

1.  “Do you even wash your hair? And how?”

With soap. It’s crazy. I put it on my scalp, massage my roots and work up a small lather and rinse it out by working it through my ends. Sound familiar? Thats because the process is! The main difference is that I use shampoos that don’t leave behind a residue. My shampoo revolves around a base of essential oils. I also wash my hair pretty regularly, every 3-4 days. Every dread head has their own unique wash schedule and it’s a personal process that depends on how often you work up a sweat, how oily your scalp is and what environments you’re in. It’s truly amazing how when you wash your hair less, your scalp regulates the amount of oil it produces. My hair is actually less oily with dreads than without. We focus on getting our roots very clean and rinsing them thoroughly. I like to ring out my dreads in sections while the water runs over them. I wash my hair every 3-4 days because I’m outside a lot and I work nearly everyday so I like make sure my scalp is feeling fresh and light. More often than that and my scalp would be irritated. I notice that my dreads locked up extremely fast and that because I keep mine very clean. The cleaner the dreads are, the easier it is is for them to tighten up.

2.“Can I touch your hair?” *Touches hair without waiting*

Never just touch someone’s dreads. Don’t pull on them. Don’t play with them. We get enough people that do that without warning. Unless you are told specifically that a person is okay with you touching their hair, don’t assume it’s fine. Sometimes it will be okay and other times, maybe not. Always ask. Besides, when was the last time you washed your hands anyway?

3. “You got dreads because you stopped brushing your hair.”

Although I don’t have to brush my hair anymore, that isn’t how I got dreadlocks . I went to a salon and had my hair professionally sectioned. Each section was then backcombed and then a very small crochet hook (similar to the size of a needle) was used to crochet the dread. The point is not to pull hair into the dread and rip it out on the other side but rather to crochet the hair into the dread nice and tightly and then maneuver the hook out safely. Not every dread head uses this method, it all depends on the texture of the hair and the desired look. For skinnier dreads, you would get smaller sections and vice versa. Some dread heads don’t section their hair at all; these are called freeform locks. Either way, we all palm roll our sections and retwist the roots.

4. “I bet your hair has a lot of wax/product in it to make it look that way.”

I personally prefer not to use product in my hair. Like I said before, I wash my hair regularly and then I’ll blow dry my roots to get out the dampness. Thats it. There’s a lot of wax products and oil based sprays out there for dreads. However, I found that when I put a lot of product in my dreads, it weighed them down and made them feel like that had excess oil and gunk in them. The products would temporarily tame flyaway hairs but then after a wash, they would be back. I decided to put down the products after having my dreads for about a month and my locks tightened right up naturally. As said earlier, clean dreads lock up fast on their own.

5. “How long do you plan on having your hair that way?”

This question always kind of irks me because when I see someone with a new haircut or color, I compliment them. The last thing I would do is ask them “Well how long is it gonna be like that?” So the answer is, as long as I’d like.

6. “You’ll have to shave your head when you want to get rid of your dreads.”

That’s not true! Some salons offer dread removal as a service. It’s a very meticulous process. It includes soaking the dreadlocks and then using a needle-like pick to slowly comb the dread out. Or you can always do it on your own. Anything done in a salon for dreads can be done at home. I’ve seen people who had a full head of dreads go back to not having dreads anymore and they never once took out the clippers.

7. “What happens if you get lice?”

Although this has never happened to my while having my locks, I would assume it would be a horrendous thing to deal with. Isn’t lice always the worst? You can always remove the dreadlocks and treat treat the scalp. Now with that being said, lice need hair that they can move freely in. Lice can’t thrive in dense hairstyles. So it’s actually much more likely for someone without dreadlocks or braids to get lice than someone with them.

8. “White people that have dreads are appropriating a culture that isn’t theirs.”

This is always a tough one for me. Hair is something so special and unique. The politics that relate to textured hair and dreadlocks go back to what is seen as acceptable by a superficial society that places so much value on having straight hair.  There are still plenty of work places that won’t allow dreadlocks. I’ve been turned down from waitressing jobs because of my hair. It’s an unacceptable rule that excludes people that could be just as capable if not more talented depending on the job. Dreadlocks shouldn’t be a reason to deny anyone anything.Fortunately, many generations of dreadlocks have been worn and they are accepted more now than in the past.
With that being said, I’ve always loved dreadlocks. I’ve loved them so much that I dreaded my own hair. I can only speak for myself; I did it out of my love for the hairstyle. I’ve always had long knotty hair and I would cry after every hair cut. I hated brushing my tangled hair. I hated styling it. I didn’t like the process of maintaining my hair to look a certain way everyday. With dreads, I am able to live a more carefree and flexible lifestyle. Although I do not come from a long line of people that wear dreadlocks, I appreciate those that do.
By definition, cultural appropriation is borrowing something from a culture to exploit the culture itself and bring harm to the culture. I feel that each dread head should be considered individually, since we are all individuals. Because of freedom of expression, cultural appropriation is inevitable on some level. I’m not saying that it is right or wrong; I’m simply saying that it is. However, I’d like to note that cultural appropriation is only a relevant accusation when a cultural aspect is fetishized and stereotyped.
There is such a thing as benign borrowing and cultural appreciation. These are a more positive approach to the sharing of cultural aspects and for example, dreads. The world we live in is kind of like a melting pot, that’s what makes us all so beautiful. By wearing dreads, I am never claiming to be anything other than my authentic creative self. Again, I can’t say that I speak for anyone other than myself when it comes to dreadlocks. I love my dreadlocks, and that is why I have them. I have them for me and nobody else. They are not to impress anyone or to be liked by others. But if others like them, then that’s great! Maintaining my locks and growing them has been a journey unlike any other. I understand why at first glance, it can seem like I am taking something from someone else. But I think that’s a way of separating people. Many cultures ranging from the Celtics to the Ancient Greek to Indigenous Australians to Tibetan Buddhists to Rastafarians have had dreadlocks. Dreadlocks are even discussed in the Bible for Christ’s sake; and yes, pun intended! Dreads have been around forever and they’ll continue to have a presence among all walks of life.

9. “You probably save so much money by having dreads.”

This is kind of funny. I feel like I do save money because I don’t have to buy products and straighteners or get hair cuts and color treatments. Although most dread heads don’t, there are dread heads out there that enjoy trimming their locks when they get too heavy or coloring them for fun. I don’t really do any of that so I can only speak on my experience. I will say that my shampoo isn’t cheap. One bottle runs around $20 but it lasts me about 6 months. Again, I really don’t encourage using products in dreadlocks, even if they claim to be water soluble but some people like to use them. Products can be pricey as well. Getting maintenance on dreadlocks is another expense in itself, and it’s painful. Luckily, I go to an awesome chick who only charges $70 an hour and typically takes about 60-90 minutes. However, I know there are salons out there that charge upwards of $150-$200 an hour. I get maintenance done about every 3-4 months. Some dread heads go longer, some get maintenance done more often. It’s all about personal preference but it can cost a pretty penny.

10. “You’ve ruined your natural hair by getting it dreaded.”

This one is so silly to me. Again, I’ve seen the hair of those that have removed their dreads and it’s actually softer than ever. That’s because when the hair is dreaded, it isn’t being damaged by chemicals and heated hair tools. And if you’re a dread head that chooses not to color their hair or uses a particularly natural dye then the hair will be affected accordingly. When the dreadlocks are removed, the hair may be of varying lengths but the texture isn’t damaged. The hair will be strong and healthy!

11. “You’ll never get a job with that hairstyle.”

Maybe I won’t get certain jobs because of my hair, but I don’t believe that all places will turn me down. Despite all the hate out there for millenials, I’m lucky to be one in a pretty progressive world. Unfortunately we live with stereotypes and biases everywhere, but we have to work past those stagnant opinions. Any place that doesn’t want me because of my hair, isn’t a place I’d like to work anyways. Hair is hair and all styles are beautiful.

I hope this was an enlightening glimpse into the world of dreadlocks. The knowledge is endless and I’m still learning as I go. I can’t speak for anyone other than myself and my own experience with my dreadlocks. In no way am I assuming that any one experience is the same as another. However, I wanted to offer a insight for anyone who has ever asked these questions, said these things or wondered about them. Sometimes it can be tough to understand something different, but all it takes is a little tolerance and education.

The Domino Effect

I recently watched a video that was shared on Facebook. It was about 8 minutes of dominos falling; that’s it. The theme of the dominos was games; so sports, board games, video games, basically all types of games. Each section was dedicated to a different game than the last. The sequence started with sports, then the old school games and then moved on to the newer generations of each. After each area fell, there would be a constructed contraption that would move a designated object to the next area of a game.

For example, one ball would hit another ball that would roll to land in a basket that swung to hit the next domino. It was much more elaborate than that; I’m not any kind of expert on games or dominos. But watching these tiny plastic colored rectangles fall onto each other, triggered my thinking to shift.

This was just like life.

Not the board game life, but really- real life.

Each person is born into this world with a chance to get the basic skills down for survival. This beginning is like the old school area of the dominos. As you learn and perform each skill, you become able to learn and perform the next. You become involved in making your own decisions like when to eat or when to sleep. You move on to decide when to defy someone in charge or when to do your homework. As you grow older you choose a career path, whether to be in a relationship and where you’d like to live.

These actions are like the dominos. Like the dominos, they are continuous and coexist all in one life; in every life. And you keep performing these actions with free will.

You make more decisions, push more balls in baskets and make it to the next area.

Each area has a theme in your life, based off of your decision making skills. Will this be a good phase? Will this phase be beyond your control and contain some bad circumstances? Will your theme continue to be consistent and resilient or will it be chaotic and combative?

Each phase moves at the same speed but may feel more chaotic, because there is more going on. There were a few parts in the video where dominos were stacked in these huge cubes. When they fell, they fell at the same rate but more fell at the same time; it was much louder and more dominos were collapsing at once. Sometimes life will be louder too.

Still, they kept falling. Watching the designs crumble was fascinating. It was the way each piece affected the next to keep going. There was no good or bad; just a transfer of energy. Life can be like that too. The he sun will still set and rise whether your decisions have created good or bad.

Relationships are both alike and unlike this. They can cease at one bad argument. Or they can continue. Both situations create an effect for what will happen next, like the dominos. Did you choose to fight with that person? Do they look at you differently now? Were you vulnerable with another person and do they look at you the same?

The way we treat others affects how others will treat us. One little push and the energy moves forward. Whatever it is that you say or do, to and for, another person will create a relationship or lack thereof that will continue to simply be.

I got creative (sarcasm) and googled the domino effect. I came across the butterfly effect. To be in effect is to currently be happening; thus a current verb form. To have happened already would be an affect; this would be the aftermath. Now the butterfly effect runs off of the idea that smaller movements create larger movements. The little butterfly twitches its wings up and down and then it can fly. These actions leading to a result are also like the domino effect but with a an emphasis on the result.

I found this to be interesting because life may be like dominos in that one phase leads into another, and one action brings the next. However, it’s even more like butterflies; great phenomenons created by millions of delicate movements.

Near the end of the video, you could hear a crowd counting down from 10. I could feel my pulse pick up; would all the dominos fall fast enough in time? After 7 minutes and 50 seconds of dominos, you become a little invested in the outcome.
Well, the timer ran out and there was still one last area of dominos to fall. And they fell. Everyone cheered. It counted as a part of the whole series of dominos falling even though the last section started right as the buzzer rang. This too is like life.

We’re on somewhat of a timer, but unfortunately, we can’t see it. We don’t get the luxury of a countdown. Our actions won’t occur faster or slower; they just will once we make our decisions. We don’t know if we’ll make sure that every domino falls but we’ll keep going. When our timer runs out, our dominos will keep falling until there are no more.  Will there be a bloodline to carry your name? Will you leave a legacy of charity or an infamous remanence behind? Will you treat the people you encounter daily with a little more gratitude or be quicker to apologize?

Our smallest most insignificant actions will affect someone, somewhere. They may leave small tracks or they may become monumental moments. Inevitably, life will go on and the energy we create will continue to stem from the decisions we make.  Everyday, the choice is ours to use that energy wisely before our timer too, eventually buzzes.