Crystals 101: Gems Can Be Powerful, Not Just Pretty

(Image Credit: trinetuzun)

(Image Credit: trinetuzun)

Curious about crystals? Maybe you’ve seen some lovely selenite towers in the window of the local New Age store or a lovely picture of crystals on Pinterest. (There are plenty.)  Precious stones have been a source of mystery and belief for eons, appearing in the healing and worship rituals in cultures from the Americas to Asia. Here’s your step-by-step guide to entering the world of crystals.

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5 Reasons to Add Gymnastics to Your Olympics Must-See List

(Image Credit: Instagram @alyraisman)

(Image Credit: Instagram @alyraisman)

The opening ceremony for this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio are tonight, and the ceremony kicks off some very busy weeks of athletic competition in sports that don’t get a whole lot of attention outside of the Olympic year. One of those sports is gymnastics, which takes the spotlight every four years as casual fans and Olympic-watchers take the opportunity to check out this unique sport. Maybe gymnastics is already on your can’t-miss Olympic viewing list, but if it’s not, it should be, and here’s why:

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How to Deal With an Unwanted Office Flirtation

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Everyone deals with unwanted flirtation here and there. Some guy cat calls you in the street, and you yell something (probably mildly profane) back at him. Obviously not pleasant, but also not the end of the world. But when it happens in a work environment, it’s a totally different story. You’re probably seeing this person every day, and you don’t want to risk creating an even more uncomfortable environment for yourself. There’s no doubt that it’s a delicate situation.

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Confessions of a High Maintenance Person

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I went to college at a school that had the most low-maintenance people. Like very low-maintenance. Like showing up to class required nothing more than a pair of sweats and a headband for most, and weekend going out attire consisted of flannels and maybe one coat of mascara. Sure, I could roll with the low-key vibes and pretend I didn’t miss spending a full hour playing with makeup on a Friday night, but I did. So, please enjoy the confessions of a high-maintenance person coming from yours truly.

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How to Stop Thinking About an Off-Limits Crush

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Just like how I was born to write about why I love being single, I am the exact person to write this article about different ways to stop thinking about the crush you can’t date. Why? Because news flash! We live in an imperfect world where not every girl/guy gets the girl/guy at the end of the movie. Otherwise known as… My life.

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How to Slow Down a Relationship That’s Moving Too Fast

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When you meet someone that seems to be everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more, it can be hard not to fall head over heels. Hold off on your “future wedding” board on Pinterest, though. The phrase “good things come to those who wait” is especially true in a relationship; if you feel like things are moving too fast, they probably are. Take these steps to slow things down and avoid ruining a relationship that could have great potential. Continue reading

10 Summer Beach Bag Essentials

10 Summer Beach Bag Essentials

10 Summer Beach Bag Essentials

Summer is officially here and you know what that means – time to hit the beach, enjoy some fun in the sun, and travel on a vacation or two. There are few things quite as glorious as a day soaking up the sun with the waves crashing nearby, and the summer season is the perfect time to enjoy it. If you’re looking to make a full-day trip to the sand, it’s essential that you pack your beach bag accordingly. Forgetting sunblock or water can quickly turn your day from fab to drab. Check out our list of 10 summer bag essentials. Continue reading

How to Look Your Best in Pictures!

How to look your best in pictures!

There unfortunately is no step-by-step manual on how to be photogenic, but being “unphotogenic” does not mean that you are not physically attractive. The most gorgeous person in the world could look like an absolute toad in pictures. There is a certain art to taking a good picture. Sometimes it is random, someone just catches you at the right time in the right place. But there are some tricks of the trade that can help you to make every picture a good one. Continue reading

Your First Time: Buying a House

Your First Time: Buying a House

When my husband and I started looking for a house, it was an exciting venture. It was going to be a place for us to just make a life together, but we had no idea how to even start that process. Other than stalking Trulia and making a wish list, we weren’t really sure where to go first. Beyond it being a fun time in your life, it can be stressful if you’re doing it alone or never had to handle a transaction as large as this.

So, here’s what I learned after going through the process, and what I wish someone had told me when we started looking to buy a house:

Know what you need in a house.

This is important and something that I think might be overlooked. What you need is different than what you want. You might want lots of land, a pool and an in-home movie theater, but you don’t necessarily need that, especially in a first home. Think of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need to be comfortable, the style of house, the location, what kind of amenities you want near by. These are the things that you need to keep in mind, and if you decide you want a pool you can always add that later.

Know your financial limits.

Just because you can afford a $1200 mortgage payment doesn’t mean you should. Many websites will have calculators that will max you out or tell you that you can afford half of what you make towards a mortgage payment. But I think we all know that’s crazy, and you need to remember that life happens. If you max out your budget or give half of it to the mortgage, you’ll be in a pinch when you need some extra funds. Lay out a budget and see how much money you could comfortably handle without feeling paycheck to paycheck. So to sum it up, if the calculators say you can afford $1400, look for something at the $900-$1100 range to ensure you have enough of a financial buffer for “life happens” moments.

Interview your real estate agent.

There are hundreds of agents out in the world looking to help you find your house, but not all of them are going to have your best interests at heart. Don’t be afraid to go in and interview your agent. If you don’t like them, try someone else. The right agent will make the process seem stress free and fun, instead of a stressful nightmare. Our agent was wonderful, and always said what she would do if she was in our place, rather than giving us the typical jargon.

Shop around for loans.

There are so many types of loans, and many banks will offer them. Every bank will have different interest rates, some better than others, so make sure you don’t just choose a rate because you don’t want to research. There are loans made specifically for people in the military, people looking to buy in rural communities, and even no-money-down loans. One word of caution though: any loan that says you don’t have to put down money for a house sounds great but the reality is you’ll be paying no-money-down mortgages.

Have a solid down payment.

This might seem like a “duh” moment, but it’s very important. Most places will recommend that you have about 20%, and that’s a very smart thing to do. Not only will that help reduce your mortgage payment, but it also avoids having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is basically insurance that the loan office takes out to ensure you don’t skip out on payments and leave them with a huge debt. This happens when you pay anything under 20% of a down payment. My husband and I put down a little under 15%, but we were fortunate to have our PMI paid off at closing. The more you can save, the better you’ll be when you go to buy a house.
But the biggest tip is just to have fun. You only buy your first house once – duh – so make these moments the best you can. Do your research, understand what you need for a house, and enjoy your new home.

Is Your Sunburn Cause for Concern?

SCFCThe sun’s effects on our skin can range from some seemingly innocent freckles and a healthy glow to blisters and pain. It can be difficult to know when to let it go and when to freak out. Although all exposure to the sun is damaging and can cause skin cancer later in life, there are some warning signs to look out for when you get sunburn. Continue reading

No Boyfriend. No Girlfriend. No Problem!

No Boyfriend. No Girlfriend. No Problem!

No Boyfriend. No Girlfriend. No Problem!

Let’s cut to the chase. I’ve been single for a fairly long time now and I’m okay with that. Of course there have been those moments at 2 A.M. where I can’t sleep and think too much and have cried for no reason at all, but 99% of the time, I haven’t been bothered by it. I haven’t lived these past several years thinking “Oh no! I’m single!”. Instead I’ve been focused on a thousand other things. Being single didn’t define me, it was only one of several hundred words that could be used to vaguely describe me.

However, 24 was a turning point for everyone having something to say about my singledom. Apparently, 23 had been the last year I could be single without it being an area of concern. When I turned 24, that age brought with it a heightened interest in my love life. Too many friends and family members had something to say. “You’re too picky!” “There’s someone, don’t worry.” “Aren’t you lonely?” “Don’t settle, my niece didn’t meet someone until she was 45.” “Let me go through all of my friends to see if there’s someone who might be interested!” What the hell? Each new and uninvited comment from some friend or stranger about me being single led to a type of thought process I had never had before.

Everyone’s opinions started swaying the way I viewed my own love life. For a few months, I was in panic mode. I downloaded a dating app. I tried to work out why I was single with whoever was willing to listen. Maybe I had been single for too long, maybe I was too picky. Worst of all, I was starting to feel bad for myself. However, I wasn’t actively working on trying to change my relationship status. There was still that little inner voice screaming at me that I really did like being single and that I wasn’t looking for a relationship right now. When I started to write this article, it was supposed to be about the important benefits of dating yourself. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t sitting right with me. This piece would have come out as yet another article trying to provide validation as to why it is ok to be single. Being single is a choice, not something forced upon you. That right there is the catch to society’s view of singleness. It’s treated like a disease that needs to be cured. I’m writing this for all my fellow single people in the hopes that you will realize this is not the case, and you shouldn’t have to justify why you’re single to other people.

Like I’ve already said, being single is an active choice. If I really wanted to be in a relationship, chances are pretty high that I could be. But I don’t want to be. People write that off as me being picky. I call it going with my instinct. I don’t decide to hang out with someone based on some list of factors I’m trying to check off, I go with what my gut is telling me. If something doesn’t feel right to me, I say no. And I’m sure this is the way for many other single people who are being told they’re too picky. You’re not being picky, and you don’t have to defend why you are being picky. You know you better than anyone else, and you know what is best for you better than anyone else.

There’s also the slight chance that people just aren’t actively seeking out a partner. On my current list of priorities, finding a guy is not near the top, and I’m even less interested in trying to make something happen by force. People are all about organic these days. Eat organic, use organic soap, wear organic clothing, take organic medicine, blah, blah, blah. We’re a society that is so focused on organic products, yet when it comes to relationships, we’re so quick to turn to apps and asking for set ups in order to find some type of relationship instant gratification. What happened to the organic relationship? One that occurs naturally without the assistance of a distance locator and the option to swipe right or left? A better question, why should you have to tell people that’s what you’d prefer to happen? An even better question, why is everyone so focused on other people’s lives and relationships?

Here’s the thing, the people who are focused on you being single are solely focused on what you might be lacking as a single person. Please, dear concerned friends and family members, ease up on the concern. We singles do not want your pity, or sympathy. In fact, it’s almost insulting. You may see your intentions as helpful. You may think that finding me the perfect setup could be a top notch good deed to add to your list. But here’s the thing, unless we’re asking for your help, do not assume we need your help. Stop focusing on the empty space next to us when we walk into a room. Again, that’s an elected empty space. It doesn’t mean we are sad or lonely. It just means we’re doing our own thing.

And that’s a good thing! Being single means really getting to discover who we are. It may sound cliche, but it’s true. In my case, I see my twenties as a precious and valuable time of life. They’re a time to begin a career, nurture your hobbies, discover what types of people excite you, find out who you are and aren’t compatible with. Yes, you can do this with a partner, but you can also do it on your own. The friends I seek out and enjoy spending time with definitely have the qualities that I’ll probably hope to find in someone someday. Because I’m single, I have the time to invest in all of these areas. But again, I’m not here to provide validation for someone else, we’re only validating it for ourselves.

I’ve come back to a point where the only person I listen to when the topic of me being single comes up is myself. I appreciate the people who want to find someone special for me, but if I’m not worried about it, they shouldn’t be either. I’m embracing this time for what it is: a time to explore, to create, to dream, and to do whatever the heck it is thatI want to do. I’m selfish, but I’m ok with that! There will come a day when I’m ready to stop flying the single flag and I’ll readily give up my time for the sake of someone else, but  for right now, I’m enjoying it for all it’s worth. I hope all my fellow singles are as well. Don’t worry about what others say or think- they were all single at one point too, and as I’ve said, that was anything but a bad thing.

Your First Time: Ordering Sushi

Your First Time: Ordering Sushi

One of the most intimidating things I have ever done was order sushi for the first time. I remember sitting at the table at my favorite Chinese restaurant and internally debating if I really wanted to attempt it or not. What if I didn’t order it correctly? What if I didn’t like it? What if I accidentally ordered some with raw fish (I know a lot of sushi is raw, but not all of it and I prefer my fish cooked)??! Continue reading

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I learned from… ‘Clueless’

CLUELESS (Image Credit: Paramount)

CLUELESS (Image Credit: Paramount)

All my ‘90s girls out there know that, before the Mean Girls wave crashed in, there came Clueless, brought to you by the most loveable fictional character of all time, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), duh. Continue reading

Summer Is Not My Season – And That’s Okay

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I lived in California for two years, and the number one thing I complained about was the weather. Always sunny and a constant 80-90 degrees; no one understood why I disliked it so much, and they weren’t afraid to tell me so. The same thing happens whenever I talk about why I don’t like summer.

People are always agog and aghast if I mention I’m not a summer person. They’ll ask things like “do you not like going outside?” or “why do you hate the sun?” First of all, neither of those things is true, and even if they were, so what? Why is it okay to hate winter and the cold but the minute anyone says anything remotely negative about summer, everyone is up in arms?

Well, I’m here to say that I am not a summer person. Summer is not my season. It just isn’t for me. And you know what? That’s okay.

Summer is not the constant rollicking party that movies and television make it out to be. Real summer is hot and sweaty and like most things, sometimes gross. Not everyone can – or wants to – handle that heat for long periods of time, particularly when it’s accompanied by all kinds of humidity. People who like summer will not believe that you don’t want to be hot, but if you can’t handle the heat for whatever reason, you don’t have to endure it.

Summer also means spending more time outside. That’s not always a bad thing, but unlike in other months, it requires paying attention to bugs and as mentioned above, the constant heat. For me, going outside during the summer can be an exhausting experience. I have to decide what to wear, if I need sunscreen or not, and how much water I should drink before leaving. In non-summer seasons, I might need a jacket, but it’s much easier to just leave. Unfortunately, most people will force you to go outside often during the summer and won’t understand if you don’t want to, but stand your ground. You’re not required to go outside.

But summer is also not built for staying inside. If you do avoid the heat and stay inside in the summer, you don’t really have much to do. There’s no good TV, after all, and most activities are held outside. It also costs money and time to travel, something that not all people have. After a summer of doing nothing, even summer people are desperate to go back to school after two months. Wanting summer to end even earlier than that so you don’t get bored is totally okay.

Summer is all about showing skin, and consequently, it’s not a kind time for fat people. As someone who’s overweight, I know that finding the right summer clothes is incredibly hard. If you wear something that shows too much of your body, people might shame you, but if you cover up, it’s going to be too hot. There’s not one way to “win” in this scenario, so you just have to pick what you feel most comfortable in and hope it’s not the wrong choice. If this kind of thing ruins summer for you, I completely get it, and it’s okay.

Whatever your reason for not liking summer, I stand by you. Enjoy your fall, winter or spring weather, even if the people around you don’t understand why you like it. It’s enough that you don’t like the summer. You don’t have to justify your likes and dislikes to anyone else. Like me, summer may just not be your season, and if it isn’t, that’s perfectly 100% okay.