2016: A Year In Review

Being that I'm in my mid twenties, many of my recent end of year feelings are that of amazement to how much has changed in my life. Two years ago I was amazed college was finally over and I had moved across the country, last year I was questioning a lot of my decisions and where they had led my life to be, and finally this year, the one everyone has decided is one we will collectively pretend like it never happened.



As much as I have to bash 2016, and there is a lot, not all of it was terrible. Sure there were moments where I found myself crying on the floor, wishing I had my best friends, and wondering where exactly I had messed up. But there were also handfuls of moments where I literally paused to take everything in, because I knew that it was those moments that would keep me going as things got tough. 

Because social media is such a part of our lives now, I started using Instagram this year to document my life. Big moments like birthdays and ordinary days spent running errands have all been photographed and cataloged in a way that tells the story of my year from the best possible angle. So what better way to review my year than to pull my favorite Instagram photographs and remind myself why I found the moment worth photographing. 

January

Oh January, the month we all go into with all these goals and dreams, not realizing the shit storm that hits once the new year motivation is over. In my case, an actual storm hit my city, we called it Snowmageddon. My month was spent surviving the weather and travelling home for the first time since I move to the city. 

Highlights: my DC women's group, all my friends who always answered my calls

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

February

February I really caught my stride, with my women's group getting larger every day and my resolution to see at least one concert a month finally kicking off. I threw both a Super Bowl and Valentines Day party, plus finally started feeling a little like myself again. 

Highlights: those awesome seats I snagged for the Muse concert, eating heart shaped pizzas with a bunch of single girls

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on


March

This month was spectacular! One of my best friends visited the city and right in time for the cherry blossoms to bloom. I spent my time working long hours at the firm to save for my birthday trip and was committing more time to my blog. 

Highlights: who knew I would enjoy Coheed and Cambria, cherry blossom season

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on


April

Everything changed this month. A coworker found some of my old articles and managed to make me feel super uncomfortable about sharing my life online, which led to me dropping writing due to fear of her judgments being right. I also started dating a guy who was all wrong for me at the time, but it also led to something that wouldn't really start up until the early summer. 

Highlights: traveling back to the early 2000s and seeing Good Charlotte live, that first date which lasted 11 hours 

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on


May

I visited my sister in her new Texas home, while things back home were getting more serious with the guy I mentioned previously. This month was mostly going to a lot of events, working more late hours and managing the start of a new semester. All in all, I was busy as hell, too busy to notice I wasn't being taken seriously in my almost relationship. 

Highlights: breathing the same air as Beyonce, then flying back to DC and being front row at X Ambassadors

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on


A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

June

The stress of balancing everything led me to kind of unplug from social media, plus I was ashamed that I had quit on my blog yet again. Once I dumped the guy I quickly had more time for the things I cared about, like booking that birthday trip I spent all those hours at the office for. In the process of all of this I grew close to my now boyfriend, who agreed to take care of Max (my cat) while I took a much needed vacation.

Highlights: the night I spent painting and watching Shark Tank for hours, not needing to wear five layers anymore


July

I can't say enough good things about this month! First off, I spent my birthday on the beach with my best friend who was a total rock to me throughout my breakup. Then I came back from vacation to quickly fall for my now boyfriend, who I realized was basically me in a man's body. July was spent getting to know him while exploring all the city has to offer during the summer. 

Highlights: snorkeling in Cabo, ending up at the ER with my date

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

August

I wouldn't call myself spontaneous, but for some reason August was a big month for making decisions I didn't completely think through. First, I decided to go on a road trip to Maine and Canada with my very new boyfriend. But a few days after booking the trip I also told my boss I would be quitting. so yeah, I booked a vacation days before putting in my notice. Call me crazy, but I don't regret a single thing. 

Highlights: celebrating two years in DC, finally getting a high score in my favorite pinball machine

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

September

I've travelled pretty extensively in my life, but no trip has left me with a bigger desire to go back than my road trip to Maine. I spent a week on the road taking photos of the most gorgeous sites next to a guy who let me control the radio 90% of the time. New semester or not, September was a blast. 

Highlights: pulling over on the way to Canada only to find a hidden waterfall, spending two hours climbing down a mountain while ugly crying

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

October

Halloween is my favorite holiday, which is why this month was marked by a lot of pumpkin decorations and taking photos of my boots and fallen leaves. I also took a course on Instagram with a local DC blogger, which motivated me even more to reach out to local brands in the city when it comes to my blogging. 

Highlights: finding a ticket to Philadelphia for $1, the leaves, all the leaves


November

With the results of the election starting the month off on a rough note, I focused more on my women's group to plan events to get everyone together in the days following the results. I also attended one of my favorite concerts of the year, Elle King, where I was no more than five feet away from her. Now that I wasn't working I had all the time in the world to focus on school, and maybe a little extra to take a trip to Texas for the holiday. 

Highlights: voting for the first female presidential nominee, visiting a real life Christmas tree farm

I took this photo yesterday before the polls closed. Before I knew I'd wake up in a country where my position as a young woman of color would feel like a disadvantage. I wrote a caption thinking I'd wake up honored to have voted, but instead I've spent the day crying with my mom and sister, angry that so much of our country turned its back on us. I'm going to keep the caption I wrote, because one day I will wake up knowing that my future daughter will have someone to look up to, and not just the idea that something like that is possible. 〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰 Eight years ago I was a normal 16yr old completely obsessed with Hillary Clinton. I wanted her to win the nomination to help me believe I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. She lost, but unlike so many of us she faced the possibility of rejection again. Eight years later and I still have the sticker I bought with the little money I had at her San Francisco rally, but from now on when I look at it I'll be happy knowing history has been made, again ๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿป๐Ÿ“ฎ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿผ #imwithher #survivingour20s
A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on

December

This month is always a little tough for me due to my being so far from friends and family. Now that the feeling of freedom had faded, not having a job to go to left me with a lot of free time to fill. I rediscovered my love for libraries, and worked extra hard to make my home feel well, like home. Somewhere in between I managed to get multiple job offers for my first counseling position, which I will start this January!

Highlights: reading for pleasure again, spending Christmas with someone who otherwise might be alone on the holiday


A photo posted by 20 Something Lifestyle Blogger (@whenlifegivesyourubi) on



I hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year's weekend. If you shared a year in review post share it below, otherwise comment below one of your favorite moments!

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20 Holiday Date Ideas Your Boyfriend Will Love

The holidays can be the most exciting time of the year, with everyone getting together to celebrate and almost everything around us being worthy of an Instagram shot. Even though the temperature is getting colder, there's no reason why date night needs to turn into sweatpants and Netflix, at least not every weekend.

Whether you wanna go enjoy the new season or stay inside and out of the cold, there's plenty of things to do with your significant other than won't empty what's left in your bank account after the holidays. With ideas to get you to celebrate Christmas together and the weeks after, you're bound to find one idea the both of you can agree on.

Or if you're like me and spend way too much time trying to make a decision, have one of you choose a random number out of twenty and commit to that date idea.



1. Watch winter sports

I feel really dumb for saying this but I had no idea so many teams were active in the winter. If you have the money, and desire, try attending a football or hockey game in person. Otherwise you can go my route and find the sports bar with the best food in your city.

2. Go ice skating

Definitely not the best first date idea, unless you're an amazing skater, but long term couples will definitely have fun watching each other fall on the ice. 

3. Throw a holiday party

Holiday parties don't have to be all about family and home cooked food. Invite over all your closest friends and have everyone bring with them food from their favorite take out restaurant. 

4. Build a snowman

Sure this could be done in fifteen minutes, but I was thinking of a more intricate snowman building competition. Or at least who could make their snowman the largest until their hands freeze over. 

5. Attend a winter festival

Not sure why all the winter festivals seem to end when Christmas does, but take advantage of the holiday market season while you can!

6. Visit a museum

If you rather stay out of the cold, I recommend visiting a nearby museum. With so many having cafes inside them, you can turn it into lunch as well. 

7. Attend a play

As much as I love watching people act with a bowl of popcorn on my lap, how often do you get the chance to dress up and see people do it live? Find an option in your city and make a night of it. 

8. Check out the Christmas lights

If your city doesn't have a holiday light festival you can opt to drive around and spot the best decorated homes in your city. Grab some coffee and snacks, turn up the music and enjoy driving around like a creep staring at people's homes. 

9. Host a game night

The holidays don't have to be all about family, but it can be hard to get everyone together around this time of year. Invite over a few other couples or friends for a night in.

Related Post: How to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Best Friends

10. Build a gingerbread house

This technically doesn't have to be a competition, but wouldn't it be so much more fun if it was? Stores sell kits ready to build, but if you wanna go the extra mile you can attempt baking the gingerbread house walls yourself. 

11. Watch all Oscar nominated movies

If your significant other is anything into films like mine, spending a night (or weekend) watching all the Oscar nominated films is a fun way to pass the time and have a few arguments over who deserves each award most. 

12. Take a holiday photo

Who says holiday photos are only for families? Grab your significant other and whatever pets you have and take the cheesiest photo you can. Since you probably won't be mailing it out, you can at least post it on Instagram for all your friends.

13. Decorate for the holidays together

Not sure about you, but I live for holiday decorating. My closet was stuffed with decor before Thanksgiving had passed this year, which is why I needed a little extra help to put it all together. If you have a patient boyfriend, enlist him to help you with the promise of drinks/food at the end of it all.

14. Christmas movie marathon

Everyone out there has a favorite Christmas movie, so if you're in a new relationship, spend a night watching each other's favorites. It's a cheap and easy date to keep you out of the cold and help you get to know one another better. 

15. Cheesy Christmas movie marathon

If you want a real challenge for your night in, try finding the most cringe worthy holiday movie on Netflix to watch. With so many made for TV movies on Netflix, you're guaranteed to find something to make you laugh all the way through. 

16. Bake together

Now that summer is over you're free to eat all the dessert you like. Find a recipe you both love on Pinterest and attempt to make it together. You can take your baked treats with you Christmas lights hunting or to eat while you watch your movie marathon. 

17. Attend a holiday bar crawl

To get you out of the house, try searching Groupon or Facebook events for local bar crawls in your city. It's an easy way to not spend too much yet visit a bunch of new places. 

18. Paint and sip night

Believe it or not, boys are kind of into paint nights. Every date I've ever taken painting has become totally engrossed in the activity, so while getting them there may be a struggle, chances are they'll love it once they get started.

19. DIY some ornaments

If your significant other isn't anti-crafts, you can take a trip to the craft store to find some supplies to make ornaments with. 

20. Go to breakfast

When you think of a date what comes to mind? Usually dinner, right? Go the opposite route and get together for breakfast, it's much less expensive and a fun twist on your usual date plans.



What's your favorite date idea to go on during the holiday season? Comment below along with any terrible Christmas movies I should add to my list!
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Gift Guide for Pet Lovers

The holidays may be the happiest time of year, but for some the beginning of December symbolizes stressing over trying to find everyone on your list the perfect gift.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that our pets mean everything to us, which makes them the perfect cheat sheet for when you're not sure what to buy someone for the holidays. Whether you got paired with someone you don't know well for Secret Santa or just aren't sure where to start, picking up something for their pet is an easy way to get it right every single time.

No matter if you're doing your shopping at the mall or your local pet store, there's bound to be something to appeal to any animal lover wherever you go. Read on to see the gift giving ideas for pet lovers, plus a few extra gift guides for the other people in your live.





Cat dome

For cats who enjoy to nap comfortably and privately, covered cat beds are an inexpensive gift that won't get lost under the bed within a few hours.

Leashes

You can never have too many leashes, plus this is a guaranteed pet gift they'll use.

Dog lover tshirt

The Daily Tay has the best tshirts for animal lovers, and best of all, 20% of her proceeds directly benefit animal shelters. Her shop features tops for both dog and cat lovers.

Dog bed

Sure I love sharing my bed with my furry friends, but sometimes they can be a real bed hog. Places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls always have a plethora of inexpensive and stylish dog beds.

Food & drink bowls

You can never have too many feeding bowls, especially if the pet is feed wet food often. Picking up some new bowls along with some food is a simple yet thoughtful gift.

Cat scratcher

With so many hilarious cat scratchers out there now, there's no reason to have a standard boring cat scratcher nowadays. If you're looking for something more simple than this DJ turntable, Target always has seasonal ones for not too much.

Basket of toys

Pets can never have enough toys, okay maybe they can, but who can resist spoiling them? I'm especially obsessed with having holiday toys, plus they make great stocking stuffers.

Outerwear

Maybe cats don't need outerwear, but dogs definitely need a sweater during the cold months of the year. Sure it's a little embarrassing for them, but better to be bundled up than sorry.

Pet treats

If all else fails and you cant think of anything, stock up on a bunch of different treat options! With bags costing around two dollars each, you can grab a variety of snacks and know that your gift will be the pets favorite.


If you're looking for ideas for the guy in your life or your boyfriend's parents, click the link for full proof ideas no matter the person!
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How to Prepare Yourself to Go Home for the Holidays

Going home for the holidays is always strange, whether you just finished your first semester of college or you've been out of the house for years. Spending weeks in your childhood bedroom while your mom keeps an eye on you is hard to get used to, especially when you've grown accustomed to coming home when you like and eating popcorn for dinner.

To help with having the best holiday possible, it's important to prepare yourself to go back home, or even be around family again. Below are a list of things you can do before your trip to make sure you're as prepared as possible, plus a bunch of resources on what to do with your time besides Netflix binges.


What to take with you

Books you wont be using

Save space in your dorm room by taking back the books you won't be using once the semester is over. If you don't think you'll be using them ever again, you can try selling them online, otherwise I recommend taking them home to clear space for next semester's books.

Clothes that isn't season appropriate anymore

Winter is coming, meaning there's no need for you to hold onto all your summer clothes until next season. Bring home with you anything you won't be wearing for the next few months, but be sure to store it somewhere memorable so you can pick it all back up during spring break.

Items you packed but never used

Everyone packs items for college that they never actually use. In my case, I packed way too many novels and desk accessories. Anything you haven't used all semester should be taken home to free up space in your room.

Related Post: 10 Things You Don't Need to Pack for Your Freshmen Year of College

What to do once back home

Plan with friends ahead of time

Dividing your time between friends and family can be difficult, which is why it's better to plan ahead of time so you don't miss out on the chance to see either. Talk to friends ahead of time to pick a day you can all hang out, this way you can all make sure to leave that day and time free of any plans.

Make time to see family

Even though hanging out with friends may sometimes feel like more fun, chances are you make more of an effort to keep in touch with them year round. Make sure to spend a some time with just family, doing so with give them the opportunity to catch up with you and vice versa.

Give yourself some time to do nothing

Maybe this is just me, but I need at least one day a week to do absolutely nothing. Choose a day, or a couple, to spend some time at home doing nothing more than lounging or catching up on your favorite TV shows. Giving yourself the time to relax is important after a long semester of reading assignments and exams.

Things to do once you're home

Celebrate the holidays with your best friends

The holiday season doesn't have to be limited to just your family. If you're looking for ways to celebrate with your friends, click here for ideas of things to do at every budget.

Related Post: How to Celebrate the Holidays With Your Best Friends

Dates to go on with your boyfriend

In certain parts of the country fall is still in full swing. Fall date ideas are an easy way to figure out what to do on your night out without the hassle of arguing whose turn it is to choose.



So tell me, when's the last time you went home for Christmas? For me it was four years ago, and I'm pretty sure my mom still had me on a curfew. 

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How to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Best Friends

The holidays can be stressful enough, but not having anyone to celebrate with can make them all the more anxiety inducing. If you're a student who is far from home during the holiday season or just someone who no longer lives close to home, celebrating doesn't have to be limited to the traditions you once did with your family.

To avoid spending the holidays alone, or just do something before you all split ways, pick a few friends in the area to do all your holiday activities with. Whether you have a full weekend to fill or just a night of festivities, choose any of the activities below to celebrate Christmas with your best friends.

Related Post: The 12 Best Things That Happen in the Month of December



1. Organize a classic movie marathon

Have each one of you choose your favorite holiday movie from your childhood and host a classic movie marathon. You can provide snacks or have everyone bring their favorite candy/food to share.

2. Then watch some terrible made for TV movies

The holidays are known for their terrible made for TV movies, which is why you have to watch at least one this holiday season. Lifetime and ABC Family are great networks to find the perfect movie to make you cringe till you laugh.

3. Bake together

Sure you can buy dessert ready to eat at your bakery, but what's the fun in that? Pick up a box of mix, or better yet, try doing it from scratch.

4. Visit the ice rink

Most cities have ice rinks during the winter months, even though that never see real snow. Find one in your area and be sure to wear plenty of layers if you don't know how to ice skate. It helps to soften the landing for when you eventually fall on your butt.

5. Host a gift swap

If you're a little low on cash this season but still wanna swap gifts, opt to do a gift swap. Instead of buying everyone a gift, draw names out of a hat and put all your effort into the person you chose.

Related Post: 12 Important Lessons from 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' for Twenty Somethings

6. Take a holiday picture

Who says holiday cards are just for families? Maybe you don't have to get the photo professional printed, but it could at least have a place on your fridge.

7. Have a gingerbread house competition

Stores like Target sell ready to make gingerbread houses for less than the price of a movie ticket. Plus, you can do this activity while having your movie marathon.

8. Go ugly sweater hunting

Big box stores have really taken the fun out of ugly Christmas sweaters. Spend an afternoon visiting your local thrift stores and find an ugly Christmas sweater that would make your grandma proud.

9. Attend a nearby festival

Here in the city different neighborhoods host free to attend holiday festivals throughout the month of December. Go on your city's website and see what is happening in your area.

10. Take a day trip somewhere

If your city isn't hosting anything or it's just nothing you're interested in, consider taking a day trip somewhere nearby. Ideas could range from going to a Christmas tree farm, renting out a cabin or visiting the nearest place that gets snow in the winter.


How do you like to celebrate the holidays with your friends? Drop any ideas in the comment section below!
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December Goals + Ending the Year Strong

What I'm about to say is going to sound completely ridiculous but it's the truth, I swear. I bought one of those Happy Planners over Thanksgiving weekend and I have never been so motivated. It's basically already the new year in my apartment, or at least that's the level of motivation I'm feeling.

Something about having an excuse to use stickers and color code the shit I usually like to ignore has me pumped for the month of December, so I'm going to hold onto this feeling for as long as I can.


During the month of November I set goals, both blog related and personal, to keep me accountable for the things I wanted to get done. Being that I'm writing this post on November 28th, I technically still have three more days to wrap up anything I left unfinished. Below is a quick recap on how I did on my November goals, plus my realistic goals for the month of December.

November Goals: So how did I do?

Increase page view by 2,000 > Success
Not only did I increase my page views by over 2,000, I actually met my yearly page view goal! This one I want to scream from the rooftops because I would have never predicted this could happen after a five month hiatus. 

Write more about me > Fail
So I didn't technically publish any personal posts, life got in the way a bit, but I did write some pieces that I'm excited to publish in the new year.

Update my popular posts page > Success
When I started drafting this post I realized this had fallen to the back of my mind, but thankfully I created a new one just in time. Click here to see the updated popular posts page.

Go on a hike > Success
Mission accomplished. After the election that left the country in shock, a few girls and I unplugged for a few hours and hiked through Rock Creek Park.

Sort through my closet > Success
This took days but I'm so glad I took the time to do it. My next project will be to sell anything of value and donate the rest to a local charity.

Plan at least one meet up per week > Success
Even though I wasn't able to see the girls every week, I made sure to plan enough meet ups for the month of November. December is currently packed with events to help with the feelings of not being around friends and family during the holidays .

December Goals: Ending the Year Strong

Blog Related Goals

Increase page views by 15%

December has always been a great month for my stats, with my gift guides for every type of guy and boyfriend's parents pulling in views with no effort. With a few more similar posts coming out soon, I'm hoping to make this my most successful month this quarter.

Publish one personal post

Last month was a fail, so I'm setting a more realistic goal of one personal post. Gonna pencil this is all over my new planner to make sure I don't forget or avoid it.

Promote my top performing posts

Gotta get those page views somehow, so I'm thinking of ramping up my pins and possibly creating a Facebook ad for my gift guide on what to buy your boyfriend's parents.

Everyday Life Goals

Use Happy Planner entire month

Research shows it takes 21 days to learn a new habit, so what better month to train myself to be more organized than December? I spent a good chunk of money on my Happy Planner, so I'm going to pray to all the deities that I don't toss it in my junk drawer by February.

Start thinking about resolutions for 2017

Resolutions have been a big deal to me since 2012. It was that year that I believe I truly set up my life to be what it is today. Because I care so much about yearly goals, I like to plan them early, which is why I wanna have my resolutions written down before New Years Eve.

Host event for members who cant go home for the holidays

I mentioned last month how a run a group for twenty somethings in the city, mainly girls new to the area who are looking to build a social support system. With so many people leaving the area for the holidays, I cant think of a better time to host a low key event to combat the lonely feelings that come with being in the city during the holidays.


So how about you, do you have any goals for the month of December? If so, leave a comment below with one of your goals or better yet, share you secrets on where to buy all those amazing planner stickers I've seen all over Instagram!

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A 10 Step Plan on How to Have Your Best Year Ever

I never Black Friday shop, partly because up until a few years ago I lacked the money to buy anything, but mostly because my mother was a firm believer in the idea that if you cant afford it, you must not need it all that much. So I don't really Black Friday shop, unless going the next day to fuss about the mess left behind counts.

This year my sister and I braved the crowds at the only store we knew would be empty, Michaels Arts and Crafts. We needed Christmas lights and figured why the hell not, we're young but also old ladies at heart, so we chose the most calm store imaginable. While there I realized I didn't do too well with my yearly resolution, not terrible, but not to my standard either. Knowing exactly why I had failed to meet my goal, I decided to do something about it now. I bought a planner,  one of those fancy ones that come with stickers and pocket folders.

As I flipped through my planner I figured there was a lot more stuff I could do to make 2017 more successful, cause let's face it, I think everyone gets a pass for 2016. Overall it was kind of a crap year, beginning to end.

If you're looking to make this new year your best year yet, or get a head start on your New Year's resolution, take these ten steps to set yourself up for success. You can substitute any step to better tailor it to your goals, or go the extra mile and just add on to what I've created. Skip whatever is gonna stress you out or isn't necessary for you, because this is about starting the year on the path to your best year ever. 


1. Declutter your closet

Decluttering my closet was a goal I set for the month of November, and while the task took hours, once I was done I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Minimizing your wardrobe not only leaves you with options that you love, it clears space for new pieces while giving you the opportunity to donate the clothes you no longer want to those in need. 

2. Change something big in your living space

My apartment layout has been the exact same since I first moved in. If you're not looking to change address but want a change of scenery, take an afternoon and reorganize your living space. Simply shifting your furniture or finally getting around to hanging up your gallery wall can make your home feel like new.

Related Post: 8 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home

3. Make one thing easier for yourself in the new year

I'm a firm believer in the idea that small annoyances can add up to a bad day, so when you have the same daily issues you're setting yourself up for failure. Do something now that will make your days in 2017 easier, such as auto reloading your commuter card, unsubscbing from that newsletter that fills up your inbox or setting up auto pay on a bill your always forgetting to pay. 

4. Choose a resolution/goal before others do

Choosing your new years resolutions, or better yet, goals for the new year ahead of time not only saves you the stress of having to think of one on the spot, but also allows you to prep for whatever you want to accomplish. For example, because one of my goals is to be better organized in the new year, I took the step to buying a planner in December to start practicing getting in the habit of writing things down. 

Related Post: 10 Important Resolutions Every Twenty Something Should Make

5. Remove something from your life

If you ask me I think we have a little too much of everything nowadays. Friends we don't really care for, clothes we never wear and photos on our phone we'll never post. Remove something from your life you no longer need, whether that be because it takes up space or brings no value to your life. 

6. Complete a challenge

Challenges are a great way to get yourself motivated, as long as you choose one that you can commit to and set a reasonable goal. Some of my favorite challenges are the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, quitting soda or candy for a week, or committing to seeing friends at least once a week. Choose a challenge that aligns with your goal for the new year, and try it out to see what areas you need help with most. 

7. Identify your one regret this year

Stop and think for a second, what do you wish you had accomplished by the end of this year? Can you still reach that goal, and if not, what can you do right now to get one step closer? If the goal is still important to you, add it to your list for the new year, and if not, don't get discouraged just because not everything went the way you planned. 

8. Find your squad

Friends are the best motivators, and by motivators, I mean they're pretty great at telling you to get off your butt and get to work. Find someone who will push you no matter how many excuses you list, plus one more with a similar goal as yours. Having a friend with a similar goal gives you an accountability partner, plus someone to bounce off success stories with year round. 

9. Be cheesy

I'm gonna tell you something I've never admitted to anyone else, the reason 2012 was my most successful and productive year was because of one big thing, I was cheesy AF. I spent the entire year surrounding myself with quotes I found on Pinterest, reciting my goals in the mirror and constantly encouraging myself to not give up. It was weird at first, but after a few weeks it's what kept me motivated when progress slowed. Be cheesy, write your dream with lipstick on the bathroom mirror and become your own biggest motivator.

10. Talk to your future self

When I wasn't busy talking to myself in the mirror or pinning quotes on how travel changes your life, I was taking the time to talk to my future self. How exactly? Well I wrote myself a couple letters. It's easy to give up on a goal when you forget just how important it once was to you, which is why I wrote a letter to myself four, eight and twelve months from New Years Day. Doing so gives you enough time to make progress between each letter, while also reminding yourself why you set this goal in the first place. 


I want to know what your biggest goal is for the upcoming year! On top of that, what's one thing you can do this week to help make your dream a reality?
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How to Get All As on Your Winter Finals

With two years out of college, I'm starting to forget the stress that comes with having four exams all in one week. Thankfully Facebook time hop likes to remind me of all the whiny posts I use to write back before I knew how much trickier adulthood would turn out to be.

If you're struggling to balance all your exams, or just have one that you're convinced you can't pass, take some time to set yourself up for success. Winter finals were always my least favorite, with the possibility of a bad grade hanging over my head until grades were finally released.

Since you're probably low on time and looking for a simple way to ensure you don't forget to review chapter, below are five tips to help you get an A on every single exam you take this winter semester. If you have a little more time to review or need help with studying in the last few days, read my post on the 10 most effective ways to help you study last minute.


1. Use the time in between class to study

To spare yourself those late night study sessions, use the time between your classes to study for your exams. A few thirty to sixty minute intervals throughout the week can add up to an entire night of studying, so take advantage of this time while you're on campus anyways.

Related Post: 11 Things to Do In Between Your College Classes

2. Schedule time to take breaks

The hardest part of studying for me was never knowing what it was gonna be over, which is why scheduling breaks was crucial for me. Setting a timer to notify you when to stop and step away from your notes will help you feel less tempted to just quit because you're bored. I recommend a timer on your computer, to lessen the need to grab your phone to check the remaining time.

3. Collaborate with students in class

Working with classmates not only gives you a network of people to ask for help, but also another set of notes and study guides to look at. Find a few people you know in class or send out an email letting people know you're looking to form a study group, you'd be surprised how many people are interested in working together around finals week.

Related Post: 10 Stupid Mistakes I Made My First Year of College

4. Have a reward to work towards


Nothing is more motivating that treating yourself to something at the end of it all, which is why gifting yourself something is a great way to keep your motivation up throughout finals. Choose an A grade and B grade gift, and stick to this! Once grades are released, you can both celebrate and purchase whatever you promised yourself.

5. Focus your energy on the hardest exams

Not everyone might agree with this, but not all finals are of equal importance. Figure out what classes you are doing well in and which are relying on a good final exam score to boost your overall grade. My advice is to spend more time studying for exams that are in class or cumulative, or worse, both.



If you need more help on finals or college overall, click here for all college related articles. Good luck on finals, and remember, GPAs do not define your college experience!
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The Best and Worst: Can We All Admit the Gilmore Girls Revival Sucked?

Three days. For three days I sat in front of my Macbook and relived the episodes that helped me navigate my early teens. Pop cultural references that suddenly made sense to me and judgments about characters that I had never made before. The Gilmore Girls Revival was set to be released Friday after Thanksgiving, and like a fool I had underestimated just how much I had to catch up on.



Near the end I started fast forwarding over scenes I remembered well enough, wanting to only relive the important stuff like graduations and breakups. Even though my love for the small town characters runs deep, it was only Lorelai's plot I found myself caring about by season 7. As for Rory, I had begun to dislike her the moment she started dating Dean again. Who knew her habit of being the other woman would stick with her into middle adulthood.

I watched the four new episodes in one sitting, waiting for the moment where I would spit out my popcorn or tear up like everyone else claimed to, but it never happened. Jokes sounded forced, or worse, offensive. Lorelai was still an overgrown teenage girl and Rory had grown up to be the privileged woman her mother fought so hard for her not to be. Plot lines of men being disrespected, from the forgettable Paul to our favorite diner owner being left in the dust yet again.

The entire thing seemed...staged. And not in a we haven't done this in a long time so let us get our groove back kind of way. More of a, this show should have been left in the past, where fans could imagine better lives for the characters who unfortunately came back to life to do all the things we never imagined they would go along with.

But instead of focusing on all the bad, which there was a lot of, I thought I'd highlight three good, and three not so great moments. I mean, it did take me a full three days to catch up on a show I used to love. Now, I'm not so sure either women are the best role models for young (and old) women today.

Bad: Realizing Rory has always been terrible.

It wasn't until I began rewatching the seasons that I realized that Rory is nothing special, and I know that sounds harsh, but she just isn't. Maybe it's because I wasn't raised being told I could be anything I wanted to be, or that a call would be made if it turned out I couldn't.

The revival episodes just demonstrated her biggest faults, including her issues with men as well as her belief that she should be offered any position she applies for. And don't get me started on her mocking the thirty something group, at least they would be appreciative of a woman taking the time to interview them, whether they wanted the job or not.

Worse: Everything surrounding Sookie's character.

Whether it was the reason she wasn't there or the fact that fans know the real reason why, but not having Sookie around felt like a big piece of the show was missing. Not only were fans deprived of Sookie and Michel banter, but we also had to deal with her being declared Lorelai's best friend in one scene only to be excluded from the wedding ceremony altogether. I'm sorry, but they could have freaking asked her! Too much Kirk, not near enough Sookie.

Worst: Rory and Lorelai's relationship with men.

I think we can all agree Rory grew up to be kind of a bitch in the relationship department. Dating a guy whose name she cant even remember, sleeping with an engaged man, then waking up after a one night stand shocked that it even happened. Let be honest, one night stands are more respectable than sleeping with another woman's fiancee.

As for Lorelai, I always knew she had man troubles, but I guess we all assumed once it happened with Luke things would snap into place. We thought wrong. How do ten years go by and no one mentions kids? Only to be swept under the rug because the both of you cant be bothered to talk things over like adults. Oh, and the whole running away to do Wild? Ridiculous. As we all saw the people out there were in their twenties, thirties at most.

As a woman pushing fifty, she should be able to figure her shit out without abandoning her life. Nothing made me angrier than Luke having to fight for her again. At what point does this man have to stop fighting for her, can the man just have a relationship that doesn't require a routine crisis every few years?

Good: How well all of the Gilmore Girls' exes are doing.

I never imagined I would watch the Gilmore Girls Revival and end up rooting for all of their exes, but by the Spring episode I found myself caring more about them than the main characters. For a show that set up Rory and Lorelai as women who would always be remembered as the one who got away, it was great to see that most of their exes were living successful, stable and happy lives. Trust me, even if you were strongly on Team Dean or Jess, you'll end the episodes thankful that they both grew up to be responsible adults.

Better: Paris Gellar proving a woman really can have it all.

Her role in the show walked the line of villain and best friend, which made her character all the more enjoyable. Liza Weil perfectly fell back into her role, and even though her character had grown so much, all the typical Paris trademarks were still inside the now grown up version of the girl we grew to admire.

This the women we should all be striving to be like, unapologetic, strong, and hardworking. The girl who will call you out for having an affair with her husband all while telling him he's not welcomed to sit on her couch. No she's not without flaws, but she's damn near perfect.

Best: Emily's portrayal of moving on with your life.

During the seven seasons the show aired I never really cared for Emily's character, but trust me, she is the only thing that kept me watching through the painful Summer episode. Emily's journey of learning to live without her husband is something anyone whose ever lost someone they loved can relate to.

In the Gilmore Girls Revival she finds her own place in the world, finally tells her DAR friends how fake they all are, and does something we could all probably benefit from, declutters her life. Emily Gilmore is the charm that kept my eyes glued to the screen, and if you read any review of the new episodes, you'll see this is her best performance yet.

Honorable mentions

Terrible: All the stereotypes and misplaced jokes.

Even though episodes from the past got away with less than appropriate jokes, there's no reason why their revivals have to commit the same mistakes. Something felt...unnecessary about the whole Berta and her whole family moving in situation. As for the fat shaming and millennial jokes, I don't understand how the writers missed the memo on body positivity and the fact that millennials are basically the only ones with the time to binge watch a series.

Heartwarming: Luke's relationship with his daughter.

Even though I was never a big fan of this plot line, it was nice to see that April grew up to be such a successful young woman. Her panic about how to navigate her early twenties was relatable without feeling too forced or belittling those who also feel as if they have no idea what their next step is.

Adorable: The fact that Lane is so much like her mother.

Maybe it's the ten years of wisdom I've gained, but current me sees Ms.Kim as less of a controlling mother and more of a woman who just wants to protect her daughter. You know, from things like affairs and unplanned pregnancies. Lane stepping into her mothers shoes while still holding on to her rebellious nature is the best thing the show could have done for her plot line.


So tell me, did you love or hate the new episodes? If you hated it, which part was the most cringeworthy for you? And if you loved it, am I missing something or have I just become far too cynical?
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10 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

Lately I've been writing a lot of cover letters, like a lot a lot. I'm in the early stages of my clinical training, so basically I spend my days writing letters to employers begging them to trust me with their patients. In return I promise them months work of free work and to not get in the way.

Thankfully I'm not half bad at this stuff, with all credit going to the career advisers at my university who drilled into my brain how to write a cover letter that won't get tossed into the trash. My first job out of college was helping individuals apply to jobs and create resumes, which helped tremendously when it came to moving on to my next position.

If you're having trouble writing a cover letter that shows why they'd be wrong not to pick you, read on to see if you could be making any of these ten common cover letter mistakes. With employers receiving more applications than ever thanks to websites like Indeed and Monster, you want to do everything you can to pair your resume with a cover letter that will make you stand out from the others in the pile.


1. Beginning with your name

A cover limited has very limited space, which means none of it should be wasted in stating information the employer already has. Your name should be listed on your resume, application and will be signed at the bottom, so skip stating your name and start off with something stronger than "My name is xyz."

2. Repeating everything that's on your resume

It can be tempting to repeat your resume in the form of a cover letter, but it's a complete disservice to you and redundant to the person reading your cover letter. Instead of rewording your resume, try highlighting one of the skills or experiences mentioned on your resume, or discussing how your past experiences are applicable to the position you are currently applying to.

3. Writing more than one page

Just like resumes, employers prefer you keep your cover letter at a one page maximum. Be careful to not submit something less than half a page, with three quarters down the page being the happy medium. Typically I discuss the job I am applying for, how I meet the qualification, what I can offer, and my interest in discussing more during an interview.

4. Focusing on any negative aspects of your work experience

Employers understand people have gaps in their work history and don't always enter a position knowing everything they need to, so there's no need to focus on the negative. Skip talking about how you were out of work for a few months or lack training in a specific area, instead talk about your eagerness to learn and past abilities to adapt to new work environments. You can address any inconsistencies or obstacles once you are being interviewed, but until then stick to the positive aspects of your resume and experiences.

5. Sharing information not relevant to the job position

This one totally gets me every time. It can be so tempting to mention a skill or job you totally rock at, but unless it applies to the current position steer clear of talking about it. With space being limited, you want to highlight one experience and/or a few skills to focus on, all of which you should be able to tie back to the position you are applying for. 

6. Submitting the same cover letter for every job

So many new job applicants make this mistake. Actually, scratch that, all types of job seekers make this mistake. And why? Literally every cover letter article tells people to not reuse cover letters, yet people still do it. Taking the time to write a cover letter specific to the job makes the difference when it comes to your application being reviewed, plus it's so obvious (and slightly annoying) to hiring managers who are taking the time to review your application.

7. Undermining yourself in any way

This is me officially telling you to not apologize for a damn thing in your cover letter, so now you have no excuse for making this mistake ever again. I don't care if they asked for you to have three years experience and you only have two, do not apologize! Focus on your strengths and explain any areas for improvement in your interview, anything before that is you reducing your chances of being hired before getting in the door. 

8. Using the wrong format

When you're a beginner, no one really tells you what employers are looking for in regards to format, so here it is. At the top should be your contact information, followed by theirs, a greeting, a paragraph on the positions your applying for, why you're qualified, and a conclusion that states your eagerness to be contacted for an interview. All of this should be within one page, Times New Roman, and size 12 font. 

9. Forgetting to proofread 

Just how resumes should be typo free, the same goes for your cover letter. Besides the occasional misspelled word, you don't want to accidentally submit a cover letter with the wrong company name or contact person. Doing so shows potential employers that you are recycling cover letters, which again you should not be doing even if the positions are similar. 

10. Stating your salary requirements (when not prompted to)

The hardest part for me when writing a cover letter is stating my salary requirements, which is why I'm always surprised people bring it up with no instruction from the employer. Unless you are specifically asked, leave the salary negotiation until you are being interviewed, or better yet, once you've been offered the position.


Tell me, what's the hardest part of cover letter writing for you? Or, what's the best advice you've received to write a cover letter that stands out?
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Why the 2016 Election Matters So Much to Me

The 2016 election is something that I have been waiting eight years for. Back when I was sixteen my sister and I took a trip to San Francisco to hear Hillary Clinton speak at a rally. On that same day I picked up the sticker that still sits on my laptop, the one that sported the name of a woman who was was brave enough to not give up on a dream I did a long time ago.



When I was growing up I didn't want to be a princess, or a teacher, or a dancer. I didn't dream of riding horses or being a pop star. Somewhere along the way I decided I was going to be the President of the United States, and my ambition led me to run for student council in the fifth grade, then again throughout middle school, until the day I lost. 

I lost to a girl with no experience in student government. She like me was thirteen, except she was friends with a girl everyone had decided was popular. I think it's because she had figured out how to pluck her eyebrows long before any of us. Anyways, this popular through association girl beat me, despite my years of experience, days I spent making posters and the speech I spent hours reciting until it was just right. 

The day they announced over the loudspeakers that she had won was the day I realized life was one big popularity contest, so I gave up. I gave up on my dream of being U.S. President and I stopped caring what girls in school thought about me. My life didn't fall to pieces, I mean cmon, I was thirteen. I went on to do great in school, with my own group of friends, and actually ended up being student body president every year of high school. But despite all those big wins, that seemed very small back then, I majored in psychology and continued to ignore the fact that growing up I always wanted to lead this country.

Related Post: What To Do If You Haven't Registered to Vote

Somewhere in that time Hillary Clinton ran for president, and she too lost, which pulled up all the feelings of losing to someone who you at the time feel like you're so much more qualified than. But then she did what I couldn't, she tried again. 

And this is why this election matters so much to me. I've moved on to a career I love, but no day goes by in this city when I forget the reason why I fell in love with Washington DC. You see, I visited Washington DC the year I lost that silly election, and on that trip I fell in love with this city. So I may never live in the White House, but I can cast my vote so that the woman who has continued to inspire me can once again call it her home and workplace. 

For those that say because we are voting for her because she's a woman or we're uniformed, you're wrong. I'm voting for her because she did what I couldn't, faced rejection from an entire country, then had the courage to get up and do it again. 

So I'm not just casting my vote for Hillary Clinton, I'm casting it for every girl in this country who once lost something that made them want to give up. For little girls who have no one to look up to, and for thirteen year old me, who hid behind her Series of Unfortunate Events book unable to understand why no one chose me. 

If you haven't registered to vote, regardless of who you're voting for, click here to learn if your state allows same day registration. 
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What to Do If You Haven't Registered to Vote Yet

So you haven't registered to vote yet and election day is just days away? Don't stress! If life got in the way, you're registered in the wrong area or you just freaking forgot, thirteen states allow same day registration either before or on Election Day.

The list below indicates states that will allow you to register as late as Election Day, and below that are the things you need to make sure you face no obstacles once at your polling place.


States that allow same day registration:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming


What to bring with you:

Proof of residency

To help with this, bringing with you a government ID and one other piece of information that shows your address will help. Examples are a utility bill, current lease, paycheck or cable/internet bill.

Identification

In order to verify you are who you are, it helps if you are able to bring two proofs of identity. Apart from a government ID, a passport, Social Security Card, or birth certificate can help with this. Not all states require your identification cards have a photo, but to be safe bring at least one that does.

If you're not sure if you're registered to vote, or to see if you're registered in an area you no longer live in, click this link to verify your registration status and receive more information on what to do in regards to your specific state.
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