Don't Date An Aries Woman Unless You Can Do These 18 Things

1. Accept her boldness.
Be it the way she talks or just her self-confidence, Aries are known for being the most courageous sign in the zodiac.  They will emit their bravery throughout all areas of life, including relationships.  She'll do anything to make you two work, including agreeing to reasonable compromises.  It doesn't matter how dark or bumpy the road is, she'll brave a storm to reach you.  This also goes for how she views herself in society.  She doesn't go with the flow.  If someone tries to put her in a box, she will break out of it and show that she's nothing like what you pinned her down as.  She has her own identity, her own story, and she is shameless of it.  Don't try to make her fit your idea of perfection.  Accept her for who she is, sit back and enjoy the unapologetic magic.

2. Accept her honesty and bluntness.
Because she will say whatever is on her mind.  She can be inconsiderate of others' feelings sometimes, but always apologizes if she knows she's offended someone.  It's rare for her to meet someone who can handle her opinionated self and not take it personally.  Or patiently call her out on her unintended rudeness.

3. Let go of her past and look beyond her imperfections.
Because she already has.  And when it comes to anything negative that happens in her life, she processes them quickly and efficiently, and then lets them go.  She doesn't hold onto guilt from the bad choices she's made, and she doesn't think about them all the time.  She recognizes that every human has faults and flaws - including you - but she won't focus on the bad.  She thrives on loving the good in herself and in others.

4. Be adventurous with her.
Not only is she down for adventures, but she's down for spontaneous, impulsive adventures.  She'll either look for them, they'll find her, or she'll make random activities and outings into adventures.  She's all about creating memories.  She's the one with the crazy ideas, the unintentional life of the party, the discoverer of the unknown.  Be willing to experience life with her, or at least give her the space she needs to experience it.  You can encourage her passion from a distance, but don't ever try to hold her back from living her daily life to the fullest.  The Aries hates being bored - or better yet, the word "bored" doesn't exist in her vocabulary.  She is always wanting to change and grow and mature.  And it's all an adventure to her.

5. Accept her independence.
She doesn't need you; she's accepting you as part of her life.  She's independent.  If you can't respect that, then you won't last long.  You may not hear from her for a couple hours, but it doesn't mean she doesn't want to talk to you.  You may not always see her at any and every chance you want, but that doesn't mean she isn't interested in you.  Don't be afraid to be honest with her and let her know that you need some time in her presence.  She appreciates when you're direct with your needs and want to be near her.  And she will always make time for you.  Aries know who and how to prioritize.

6. Handle lots of questions.
She wants to get to know you, what you like, why you like it, what you want to do, why you want to do it, etc.

7. Accept her big heart.
Not only do Aries love to love, but they are also incredible forgivers.  She doesn't hold things against you.  She is good at making amends.  She doesn't let things fester.  She wants to talk about it and fix whatever the issue is right away.  She gives you plenty of chances (sometimes too many - don't take advantage of this!).  She may not always bounce right back into being touchy-feely after you've said something hurtful, but she processes quickly and won't let her anger last long.  She already let you into her mind and heart, and that's where you'll always stay.
She notices and loves the little and imperfect things in life.  She cares for what others may find unappealing.  She'll be fascinated with small wonders and make you stop to enjoy them with her.

8. Be pretty cheesy (or at least love when she is).
She's all about creating and capturing memories, so say hello to taking cute couple photos, holding hands, lots of PDA, random kisses, thigh squeezes, and smiles from across the room.  She's proud to be with you and she won't care if people know it and see it through her actions.

9. Be very patient.
Because she isn't. #balance

10. Appreciate her deep thinking.
Aries are far from shallow.  She may always seem to live in the moment, but it doesn't mean her brain is at rest while her body is living.  She is always thinking, always analyzing, always wondering, always dreaming.  She is not only a great conversationalist, but you may be surprised at her way with words.  She brings a new perspective on life.  Don't be surprised if the way you start to see things changes after spending some time with her.

11. Handle sassiness.
Because Aries are the prime sassy-pants-wearer.

12. Brave the fire.
Because she is fiery.  Not just because fire is her element, but because her personality is all flames and excitement.  She is fearless.  And she'll always leave you feeling more, becoming more, and wanting more.

13. Be willing to give her attention.
She's confident in her own skin, in her own thoughts, in who she is as a person, but don't let that fool you.  She needs your eyes on her and she needs your words of affirmation.  She doesn't want to be the center of everyone's attention.  She just needs to know that she's the center of your attention.

14. Appreciate her protectiveness.
No, Aries are far from being the jealous type, but they are protective - of themselves and what they consider to be theirs.  She looks after the people she cares about.  She's careful with people's hearts, and attempts to handle everything with care - whether that be words, songs, writings, or her lover's hand.

15. Love the delicate and appreciate the tough.
Aries are hopeful romantics.  She not only wants a one-of-a-kind love story, but she also knows that her vulnerability to find love can backfire and burn her.  This doesn't phase her though because what doesn't kill makes her stronger.  She can handle a lot - both physically and emotionally - and this will be something you will admire most about her.  She's the type of person who will carry others, even if she has her own issues going on in life.  And even when she seems the most tough, there will be rare moments where her walls completely come down.  You'll see her vulnerable and she'll call it weakness.  You'll see her break down and she'll call it a flaw.  But when you see this side of her that very few - if any - people get to see, you'll realize that there isn't anyone more beautiful.

16. Be prepared for commitment.
Yes there's the dating stage, but an Aries woman knows what she wants and if she looks for it and finds it in you, then she'll want to have an intentional relationship from then on.  If you get cold feet or make up stupid excuses (and yes, "We haven't known each other for very long" counts), then you'll lose her.

17. Be okay with passion.
Because she will pursue you, love you, kiss you, be angry with you, hug you, speak to you, write about you... all with an immense load of passion.  To some, it can be stifling.  To others, it can be just what they need to truly feel cared for.  Figure out which type of person you are beforehand.

18.  Be prepared to fall in love with her. 
Because I promise it can happen easily, and when it does, you won't regret it.

But be aware that if you let her go, you'll never forget her.


Originally published on Thought Catalog.


6 Ways To Know If You Are Compatible With Someone [Or If You're Really Not]

Like I've said many times before, relationships are something you choose to be in, not something you do for entertainment, to pass the time, or to look cool.  Yes, they are fun, but the commitment level that's required will either make or break you as a couple.

Being compatible with your significant other isn't something you can force, though.  People talk about "the spark" or "the click", and while sometimes, this can just be a fantasy wish, most of the time, it's 100% true.  It's either there or it's not.  You two are either going to work out or not.  There's only so much distance you can cover before "choosing" to continue dating someone may just not be the healthiest decision for you.

So how do you know if you're compatible or not?  What will it take to make this work?  How can this be a good match even if your zodiac compatibility summary is below 50%?  How do you know if you're forcing this relationship to happen or not?

1.  You don't try to change each other.
You don't start dating someone because you like a, b, and c about them, but plan on changing d, e, and f later on down the road.  You aren't dating them to change them.  You're dating them because you love who they already are and who they will ever be.  This doesn't mean that some things won't eventually change, or need to change, but both of your mentalities should never be "How can I make this person better fit for me?", rather  -"How can I better myself for this person?"

2.  You're able to reach compromises together and look out for each other's best interest.
Regardless of how frustrating a situation may be, your love for one another should always be at the core of how you want something to be resolved.  Your goal is to see your partner win - at their job, at their dreams, at life itself.  Whether that means you giving up a habit, or making a conscious effort to say/do something, or coming to a fair agreement regarding a situation - you will do just that.  You will do whatever it takes.  At all times.  And know your significant other thinks the same.

3.  You both know how to fight.
Arguments are inevitable.  Two people won't always agree.  Two spirits won't always have harmony.  Two humans won't always be selfless.  But when these issues arise, how do you handle it as a couple?  Is there name-calling?  Are sarcastic comments dropped often?  Do you tear each other down?  Is it you against your partner?  Or you both against the problem?   Are you a team or both flying solo, hoping the other will reach your level at some point?

4.  You ask, study and know each other's insecurities; and work to overcome them.
Insecurities can seem silly when you're the one dealing with them, but having a boyfriend/girlfriend who wants to know them regardless of how foolish they may be to you is a healthy sign that they care and want to crush your fears.  Even a strong relationship isn't perfect, but it's the weaknesses that are brought to life that can be worked through and conquered to continue building a solid foundation for the future.  And you should feel secure enough in your relationship to be able to tell your partner of any chipping in your armor.

5.  You feel safe with them.
I'm not just referring to physical safety, but emotional and mental safety as well.  You trust them, you know they are and always will be honest with you, you don't question their love, or doubt their level of commitment to the relationship, you can be at your most vulnerable and exposed moment and know, without a doubt, that they won't leave, that they'll stay even when things get ugly and rough, that they'll fight for not only you, but you both as a couple, and that they'll be there to help you pick up any broken pieces when it's been a tough day.

6.  You bring balance to each other's lives.
Whether you knew you needed that balance or not, having them in your lives has made you realize what a blessing they are and how stabilizing their presence is.  This can be in anything from personality differences, weaknesses and strengths, how they teach you things you never knew, the way they communicate, etc.  It's as complex and as simple as that.

Compatibility isn't about having a picture-perfect romance and relationship.  Nothing is perfect in this world.  But two imperfect people can make a very perfect right.  And when not only the compatibility, but the desire and effort to work through things as a couple is there, I can guarantee you this:

You two have a shot.


Originally published on Thought Catalog.


50 Short But Meaningful Text Messages You Can Send To Your Significant Other

I'm sure we can all attest that "texting" is a convenience, but sometimes a very annoying form of communication.  Using it to send encouraging little reminders to your boyfriend/girlfriend and to build up one's relationship makes it not such a bad thing, though.  Especially if your work schedules clash, you can't see each other often, or you don't have time for a phone call.

It's fine to be a person of few words, but it doesn't hurt to make those few words count.  And if your partner's love language is "words of affirmation", chances are high that the following text message examples will gain you brownie points.  I do ask that you use only the ones you truly mean.  And have fun!

1.  You are my favorite person.

2.  You make me happy.

3.  I'm proud to be with you.

4.  Thank you for loving me.

5.  Thank you for letting me be the one to love you.

6.  I will always do my best with you.

7.  Our relationship matters to me.

8.  I love your smile.

9.  You fascinate me.

10.  I admire you.

11.  How can I pray for you today?

12.  I'm kind of crazy about you.

13.  I'm thinking about you.

14.  Hey hot stuff

15.  I can't wait to hug you

16.  Hey guess what?..  I really like you.

17.  Your eyes are my favorite.

18.  Date night soon?

19.  Hey don't make plans tonight.  I'm coming over.

20.  Can we take more cute pictures together?

21.  I will always be intentional with us.

22.  I hope you have a good day at work.

23.  Please be safe.

24.  You're always on my mind.

25.  You're my favorite notification.

26.  Thank you for being patient with me.

27.  You are an amazing partner.

28.  I'm so blessed to have you in my life.

29.  I am so attracted to you.

30.  You're the first person I think of when I wake up.

31.  I'm your biggest fan.

32.  You're the only one who can make me smile when I'm in a bad mood.

33.  You're not only my lover, but you're also my best friend.

34.  What should we do this weekend?

35.  We're cute.

36.  Loving you was the second best thing I ever did.  The first was finding you.

37.  You're a game changer.

38.  You're the first person I want to share news with.

39.  I don't know why you put up with me, but wow, I'm glad you do.

40.  I choose you.  And I'm going to keep choosing you.

41.  I know you're busy, but I just wanted to remind you that I'm thinking about you.

42.  I care about you.

43.  You look beautiful today.  I haven't seen you yet, but I don't have to.

44.  You add color to my world.

45.  Talking to you makes my day.

46.  I will always want you.

47.  You're worth it.

48.  It's crazy how much you add to my life.

49.  I don't think you'll ever realize how much you mean to me.

50.  Hey, I love you.


It's Just [My Skin Care Routine]

no makeup, no filter
I posted this picture on my Instagram story a few days ago and have gotten an overwhelming amount of comments and messages asking me what products I use in my skin care routine.

Well, wonder no more!:)



Cleansing -
The first thing I do when I get out of bed is turn music on, wash my face and brush my teeth.  I make sure my hands are freshly washed and clean before splashing hot water onto my face.  While my face is still damp, I take my cleansing balm from Botanics and scoop about a dime-sized portion out, rub it between my fingers and apply it gently.  I then let it sit for a couple minutes (usually, I brush my teeth during this time).
When you purchase this balm, Botanics provides a linen cloth to use in your face wash routine, and when removing the balm from my face, I soak the cloth in hot water and then gently press it against my skin.  I don't rub the ointment off.  The hot cloth naturally draws it off of my skin, yet leaves it feeling soft and smooth.

This cleansing balm has a variety of delicious and natural oils such as olive, jojoba, bergamot, lemon, and rosehip (which is rich in Vitamin A, as well as Omegas 3 and 6); & organic ingredients like beeswax and shea butter.

P.S.  It smells heavenly.

| I purchased this product at Target. |

Moisturizing -
The directions on the cleansing balm jar say to seal your pores with a cold water compress after rinsing, but instead, while my pores are still open from the hot water cleanse, I apply a drop of Young Living 100% therapeutic grade essential oil directly on to any blemishes and yes, even scars.  I have experienced firsthand how it has helped my scars be less prominent.
Young Living oils are 100% pure and can be a bit intense to your skin if you aren't use to their potency.  To dilute it, use a fatty oil (olive, coconut, jojoba, almond) when applying it to your skin.  This is actually all I use to moisturize: 100% pure organic coconut oil and a drop of YL's lemon oil.

Young Living Lemon essential oil, $15.13
*as a Young Living Distributor, I can get you this bottle at a 24% discount.  Contact me if you're interested!*



Cleansing -
My nightly cleansing routine consists of shower + hand-crocheted cotton washcloth + my evening cleanser: Alba Botanica's Acnedote scrub.  It is made from 100% vegetarian ingredients, not animal tested, no paragons, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances.  It is oil-free, contains ground walnut shell, and 2% salicylic acid acne medication formulated from willow bark.  This stuff is tough on acne, but at the same time, super gentle for facial skin.  It has a very cooling effect as well, and I've noticed that after rinsing it off, my face feels like it just spent a few minutes in front of a fan.  It's magical.

Once I'm out of the shower, I use the same moisturizing technique that I use in my morning routine: coconut oil and a drop of Young Living lemon oil.

| I purchased this product at Target. |


...a little extra - 

I don't know if any of you struggle with those lovely little bags under your eyes every morning, but if you do, I got something that will change your life.
Yes, I already talked about a Botanics product that I use for cleansing, but this stuff is amazing when it comes to getting rid of that annoying saggy skin.  This is an eye roll-on ointment made with hibiscus flower extract.  It works wonders.
I apply it after both, my morning and evening, skin care routine.

| I purchased this product at Target. |


Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Botanics or Alba Botanica.  My reviews are based purely on my own experience with these products.
I am a member & distributor of Young Living Essential Oils.  When purchasing through our site, please use my member #1333654.  Or contact me personally with any questions you may have about our company or how you can get $300 worth of product and a 24% discount for life!


This Is Why I'm Not A Model [Christian]

I've never been one to fit the stereotypes.

My Mama always told me that I was the most difficult child.  I was the stubborn one, overly-confident, very honest, and a go-getter.  I didn't let mere things or circumstances stand in the way of what I wanted.  I would tell you whatever was on my mind.  And yes, I was good at sneaking around the rules and lying to cover up the disobedience.  Quite the handful, as you can imagine.

As a teenager, I graduated two years before my peers, ignored the stares whenever all 7 of me and my siblings would walk into a church or store, and I got used to seeing the shocked faces of people when I told them that I had been homeschooled - because apparently I "didn't act like a homeschooler".  (This must've come from their unfortunate encounter with socially awkward Bill Gothard cult followers.  Poor things.)

What I'm getting at here is - like I said, I don't fit stereotypes.  Never have.  And this, dear readers, is why I'm publicly announcing that I am choosing not to be a Christian prototype anymore.

And yes, I use the word "anymore" because for the longest time, I had this assumption (whether planted there or simply thought to be true based on what I observed in the environment I lived in/church I attended) that, as a self-proclaiming Christian, I had to have a distinctive appearance, give a certain kind of impression, fit into a specific mold: the definition of what today's Christian is and looks like.  And believe it or not, I actually tried to.  Crazy, right?  After me just telling you that I don't go with the flow of things, I'm admitting that I attempted to mimic the crowd calling themselves "Christians".

No, I'm not going to tell you a sob story about how imperfect I am.  Or how one day, I realized that I could never reach the standard of a "good Christian".  And no, it's not because I had some crazy revelation that I didn't have to try anymore.  I simply chose not to.

And here is why...

I remember once talking to someone I had recently met.  He candidly asked me if I was a Christian.
"Yes," I replied.  "Why do you ask?"
"You act like one," he said.  "But you don't talk like one."
When I asked him to elaborate on what drew him to this conclusion, he said that my tattoos and piercings threw him off, and the fact that I had spiritual reasons behind each of them.  My "casual yet edgy" fashion statement was also similar to how I expressed myself with words.  "But the way you mention Jesus or church - it's like those are natural parts of your life.  You're not forcing yourself to look spiritual."

I guess I could understand his intrigue.  The most common feedback I've heard from non-Christians is how fake claiming Christians seem to appear.  "It's as if they have their life all together and they don't have any relatable issues."  I've had non-believing friends tell me that I am approachable about my faith because I don't try to force it down anyone's throat.  I guess I'm unlike many Christians because I don't have a goal of how many people I must lead to Christ every year.  If you do, more power to you, but in my eyes, reaching the lost and hurting shouldn't be a race to see how many eggs we can get in a basket.  It should be a loving connection-based and nurtured relationship viewpoint because, honestly, how many of us jump feet first into a life-changing decision unless we've weighed the pros and cons, feel comfortable and connected to whatever we're choosing to allow be a part of our lives forever?  I believe that I am simply called to live like Christ.  He will open doors of opportunity for me.  He will lead me to the people He wants me to influence and talk to and befriend.  And then He will do the rest.

The fact is, I'm not that great.
Yes, I lead worship at my church.  Yes, I love to lead prayers.  Yes, I have a very intimate spiritual relationship with my Jesus.  I know I am called to be like Him, but ultimately, you shouldn't be looking at how I'm living.  You should strive to look more like Christ in your own life.  We are all convicted differently.  You may not feel His blessing to get a tattoo or piercing, whereas I have 8 piercings and 20 tattoos.  (And those very things have opened doors of opportunity to share His good news with people who also have tattoos and piercings!)  You may not feel His blessing to wear any type of pants, but I wear jeans, shorts, capris and leggings.  We're all unique in our personalities and characters and yes, our relationships with Him.  Each person's spiritual life is theirs and His, not theirs, His and yours too.  It shouldn't be about looking like the person in your life who fills you with inspiration and wonder.  It should be rather - "What about my role model imitates Christ and how can I look more like Him through following their example?"

All I know, though, is that the Jesus of the Bible wasn't some holier-than-thou guy with a standoffish attitude who spoke with a deep monotone voice talking all about how God is going to punish everyone who goes against His commands.  But He didn't beat around the bush either.  He said the truth and the truth wasn't always pretty, but wow was He real.  He loved.  He forgave.  He healed because He could and wanted to.  He hung out with the people no one else wanted to be seen or associated with - thieves, beggars, whores, loud children, single mothers.  He Himself was homeless, He wasn't super educated (according to some), came from a humble and hard-working family, and I bet you anything, He smelled like fish most of the time. He called people out on their crap, flipped tables, called religious leaders poisonous snakes, washed dirty feet like a mere slave.  He knew the very definition of the word "suffer" like no one else has or ever will.  Some guy, huh?  Not the typical model person you would mold a leader after and decide to follow with your whole heart.  But oh, He's my biggest role model.  I hope I look like Him, at least in some areas.  I wish in all.  I want to be known for rocking the boat, speaking out for the lost and broken, taking that extra second to speak life into someone's world of hurt, to hang out with people the Christians of today's mold wouldn't want to be associated with.

You see, molds are manmade.  Molds can be broken.  Molds aren't eternal.
I think today's culture is so fixated on titles and cliques that even Christians get caught up in the labels and create subcultures of perfectionism when in reality, it's not about who is doctrinally sound, who worships the "right way", which pastor speaks better, who prays the most eloquently, which church building is the biggest.  If you took all that away from the average church-goer, what do you think you would have left?  I know that for me, if you took away the complexity of it all, you'd be left with a twenty-something year old woman who struggles day to day to silence the enemy's lies, who is always fighting private battles, who has a battered and bruised heart, a powerful story of redemption, sixteen tattoos, seven piercings, who practices meditation, douses herself in essential oils, uses crystals and nature as a way to recharge, who cusses sometimes, who has some songs labeled "explicit" in her iTunes, who strives every day to touch just one person with words of life and love and hope, who tries to become a better human, in any and every day attempting to mimic the life and walk of a Man who lived on this earth 2,000 years ago but Who is eternal and reaches through time just to touch my soul and remind me that I am wholly, fully, and completely loved.

"When someone asks me about tattoos, cussing and parties, I'm more bothered that we're not bothered by greed, poverty, dichotomies, and self-idolatry.  Jesus navigates the caves in our hearts before the cracks in our behavior.  Love saves us into truth, not the other way around." 
- J.S. Park

No, I don't have all the answers.  I'm not claiming to "know the way to draw people to Christ".  I do believe that living out our faith by example is the greatest show of vulnerability and the way to be the most relatable and appealing.  We have enough things in this world forcing us to be better, be more perfect, be sexier, be more in shape, be more attractive.  What about the people - like myself - who feel like they fall short of that?  Where can they look for realism and encouragement?

All of my faith is based on a deep knowledge in my soul that what I choose to believe is the truth.  And I believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  The same God who made this universe, who knit me together in my Mama's womb, who knew all the mistakes I would make, all the days I would screw up, all the times I would knowingly go against Him, and yet He chose to sacrifice Himself for me in spite of it all.  And because I have been shown the greatest example of love, only through this can I say that I will love people no matter who they are or their background or what they believe.  I don't talk to people for the sole purpose of converting them.  I talk to people to grow connections and to show them - through my example, through my life, through how I live - that I serve this awesome Spiritual Being who made them and desires to have a personal relationship with them.  Our souls are what we have in common with God.  They're eternal and made in the very image of their Creator.  This is why I can say that I see His art in and through everything.

I'm not saying that I've rejected Christianity and I despise churches and everyone who attends them. Or that people who claim to be Christians are fake, or that the door-to-door evangelist is doing it all wrong.  What I am saying is that God won't be found in anything that tries to put on a show - whether that be your life or a church sanctuary.  We aren't here to bring attention to ourselves.  We're here to live out this wonderful one time thing called "life", to live it fully, and for His glory.  If someone asks where we get this living water from, then by all means, we should share this crazy amazing story of forgiveness and hope that we all have planted in us.  But lets not go up to someone and try to drown them with it through labels and pointing fingers and judgement.  Because that's not how Jesus won any souls.  Throughout the whole Bible, there is story after story of God using super messed up people to accomplish some of His greatest displays of love, hope, redemption, and grace.  He used someone who got blacked out drunk partying one night to repopulate the entire world.  He used an adulterer and murderer to restore justice to His chosen people.  He used a man who had 700 wives and 300 concubines to design and build His holy temple.  He used a hooker to be part of the lineage of that would bring His Son into the world.  He chose people who made mistakes, caused pain, tore families apart, doubted, disobeyed, questioned who He was.  He can use anybody.

And this is why I can look at myself and know that if He can use those people, He can use me somewhere in this mere breath of eternity.

"I have learned that I will not change the world.  Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person.  So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian."
- Katie Davis

Also published on Thought Catalog


5 Tips On Becoming a Creative Artist

1.  Find what you love to do.
Not everyone is good at what they love, but this is a good place to start and figure out what you love and are passionate about.  Chances are the desire to do good in one of these areas is because it's your calling to become an artist in it.  Find what makes you feel.  Find what makes you love life.  Find what fascinates you.

2.  Date whatever you are creating.
We are relational creatures.  We bond, we interact, we build connections.  No, not just with people.  We do this with other things too.  Animals, a book, a song, nature, and yes, creativity.  If you're passionate about something and want to exceed in it and want to create something in it, then you need to spend time doing just that.  Don't make creativity work for you, though.  Work with it.  Choose to not watch Netflix tonight and instead, use those two or so hours to pour yourself into whatever project you currently have on hand.  Write a few chapters for your book.  Finish that song you were writing.  Practice the instrument you're learning.  Whatever it may be, make time for it.  Just like you do/would with your significant other.  You hang out with them, right?  You go on dates, you write each other notes, you take each other places, you don't take for granted even just a few minutes you can spend in each other's presence, you stay up till 3am with them... Do all this with whatever you are creating and see what happens.

3.  Seek inspiration in all aspects of your muse.
Familiarize yourself with the world of whatever you're creating.  If it's music, explore different genres, go to concerts, learn an instrument, keep up to date with song releases.  If it's art, go to museums and art galleries, take an art class, sell your artwork.  If it's writing, read, read and read some more, find out who your favorite writers are and what style you connect most with.  And wherever you decide to seek your inspiration from, take notes on what you find.  I swear these will come in handy.

4.  Seek inspiration from fellow creators.
Sometimes, inspiration won't come to you in the creative world but rather in the ones who have helped create it.  Ask questions.  Seek advice.  Obtain constructive criticism.  And no, this doesn't mean keep writing letters to your role models and commenting obnoxiously on their Instagram photos.  Try to contact them, sure, but "professionals" aren't always the best coaches.  Meet people in your area, convene with like-minded artists, build each other up, keep each other accountable, learn from each other's mistakes and wins.

5.  You already are.
Everyone is born with a creative mind.  It's part of being a human.  Finding which creative outlet you are most gifted in, which one you are called to, now that's the task at hand.  Go find it.


Also published on Thought Catalog, "5 Tips For Becoming The Most Creative Artist You Can Be"


6 Notes of Encouragement For the Blossoming Writer

Happy #NationalEncourageAYoungWriterDay!

(I'm publishing this at 10pm.  Whew.  I barely made it.)

1.  If writing is your passion, then don't stop pursuing it.  
- even when you feel like you're not improving, even when you feel like you've lost inspiration, even when you feel like "maybe you weren't supposed to be a writer".  And I say "when" (not "if") because you will have moments like these.  But it's in those moments that you must write.  Even if it's just one sentence.  Or write about how you're feeling.  There's always a reason to write, there's always something in your brain that needs to be said, to be shared, to be written.  Don't ever stop writing.

2.  Sometimes write for others, but remember to never stop writing for yourself.  
It's good to have the desire to write for others, to share experiences and be relatable.  But other days, when nothing seems to be spilling onto the paper the way you want it to, write for yourself.  On the day when you have gusts of inspiration and need to share your words, write for yourself.  This is never wrong.  It's not a bad thing.  And when you write something that you feel willing to share, do so.  Writing is meant to be relatable, even if the only one who can relate to it is you.

3.  While grammar and vocabulary are necessary to understand the written word, don't follow any sort of instructions on how you should write.  
Many times people pay too much attention to the intricate style of writing that they get too caught up in the way it's being written, not the way it's being conveyed.  If you want to write poetically, write poetically. If you want to write simplistically, write simplistically.  No one can tell you what to and how you should write.  Every writer has their own style.  The main thing is that whatever you choose to write will impact someone.  Don't always worry about editing.  The words will speak for themselves.  An uncrossed t or an undotted i won't hurt anyone.  Focus on getting the words onto paper, and then figure out how to fine tune everything.

“Be your own worst critic.  Don’t be lazy.  Write and rewrite until it’s the very best it can be.  If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know when the work is ready.”
- Sarah Crossan

4.  Haters will be one of your life supports.
Negativity is a very real thing.  And receiving negative feedback is something you won't be able to avoid.  It will happen.  It's part of being an artist.  But also, remember - if you aren't doing something noticeable, then you won't have haters.  So if something you're writing is causing someone to react cynically, then you're probably doing something right.  True artists give constructive criticism and only want to see you succeed.  Individuals who haven't found their creative flair are they who attempt to sabotage your work and discourage you to a degree where you won't be more successful than them.  Ignore these types of people.  If they have nothing better to do than to beat down humans who are actually trying to hone their gifts, then they aren't worth even noticing.  But if you do notice them, let their distaste fuel your passion.

5.  Read.  A lot.
Reading different genres, discovering other writers, figuring out what you like to read - all of this will help you figure out what style of writer you are.

6.  If anything you write causes someone to feel something - in one way or another - then you have done well.  
You have succeeded.  And that is the greatest sense of accomplishment you will ever know as a writer.  To paint a brilliant picture using only little black words on a white canvas called a page... now that is a gift.  Keep it up.


23 Things Every 20-Something Should Remember

1.  Looks aren't everything, but if you're attracted to someone's soul and spirit, they become more and more physically attractive.

2.  It's okay to not be okay.  And it's good to get help.

3.  Vulnerability isn't a weakness, it's a strength.

4.  Being there for others is such a fulfilling part of life, but learn to take time for yourself.

5.  Practice.  At anything you want to be good at.

6.  You can't respect something unless you see its value.  This includes yourself.

7.  Remember to give yourself grace.  Because He already has.

8.  Enjoy the little things in life.  Truly.

9.  Remember that a bad day doesn't mean it's a bad life.

10.  Money is stressful.  And everyone has bills to pay, just like you.

11.  There's no such thing as the "right" body.

12.  You don't have to socialize every weekend.

13.  Stand up for yourself.  Do what you believe to be right.

14.  No one has as perfect of a life as they display on social media.

15.  Set goals for yourself and have accountability.

16.  Family will always be those people whose status will never change in your life.  They will never not be related to you.  Love them.

17.  The truth will always set you free.

18.  There's a difference between forgiving and forgetting.

19.  Be genuinely happy and excited when others succeed.

20.  Memories are made without even realizing they're being made.  So live life fully.

21.  Start traditions.

22.  People won't remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

23.  Nothing will ruin your life more than thinking you should have your life together.

First selfie as a 23-year old


6 Simple & Easy Ways To Make Your Life [Healthier], part 2

Welcome to part two of my little series on creating a happier and healthier lifestyle for yourself!

[See part one here.]

1.  Eat breakfast.
I will be the first to admit that this meal is easy to skip.  I've been known for habitually not eating anything at the start of my day, but honestly, it was mostly because I was out of ideas on what to eat.
Breakfast doesn't have to be boring though.  Some people settle for a piece of toast with a slab of butter, or a bagel with cream cheese, and call it good.  But hey, get creative.  And a little goes a long way.  Make yourself a delicious omelette with some veggies and all the cheese.  Or a bowl of oatmeal with berries.
This morning, I poured myself a bowl of organic raisin bran (thanks, Trader Joe's), sliced up a banana and a couple strawberries into it, sprinkled some flax and chia seeds over it, and topped it off with coconut milk.  Let me tell you: it was delicious.  And healthy!  It's amazing what some simple additions can do to a meal.
I also made myself a cup of Jasmine green tea, sweetened with honey.
And I may or may not have had breakfast in bed, while enjoying my current read.

2.  Eat healthy snacks
I was talking to a girl I picked up while driving for Lyft and she said how difficult it is for her to find healthy snack options.  I encouraged her to start out small.  Making big drastic changes in your life all at once rarely works for a long-term result.  My advice is to start with fruits and veggies.  These are easy to pack, healthy and delicious.  Add an apple or banana to your lunch bag.  Or if you have time, cut some up into a fruit salad.  Throw in some berries.  Kiwis and mandarin oranges are often forgotten about but have great nutritious value to them.  As far as veggies go, my favorites are carrots and snow peas.  But broccoli is yummy too.  Grab some hummus for dip and you're good to go.

3.  Honey
If there was just one huge food-wise ingredient I would tell you to change in your diet TODAY, it would be this.  A lot of people have difficulty finding a substitute for sugar.  But let me introduce you to honey.  It's your new best friend.
Not only can you get different tasting honey (orange blossom, clover, apple, cherry, blackberry, etc.), but it can go in anything (even dishes that sugar wouldn't work in) and adds so much more flavor than white or brown sugar ever can.
- natural energy source
- helps with relaxation and preparation for sleep
- a weight management alternative
- heals wounds and ulcers
as opposed to sugar, which:
- is a high intake of calories
- has high blood fat levels
- is a risk factor for heart disease
- is bad for your teeth and causes cavities
- is high in fructose and can overload your liver (which also causes break-outs, primarily on your cheeks)
- and causes massive amounts of dopamine to release in your brain, which can cause sugar addictions

4.  Ingredients are key
While shopping for groceries, always look at the ingredients a product has.  And 9 times out of 10, if you can't pronounce a word, it shouldn't be entering your body.  Also, stay way from anything that contains sugar, corn syrup, anything bleached, and doesn't say "no GMO" (Genetically Modified Organisms).  Also, flavors are everything.  Being half-Peruvian, I'm huge into spices and herbs and adding lots of flavorful pops to my dishes.  Young Living essential oils comes in handy for this as their 100% therapeutic grade oils are able to be taken internally.  Some favorites I use are thyme, oregano, peppermint, and lemon.

5.  Make lists
Grocery lists, favorite food lists, meal lists.  These will save your life.  Throughout the day, be thinking of foods you like and jot down any ingredients you would need to make a meal.  And before you go on your weekly shopping outing, look over these lists, consolidate them, budget them, and you're good to go.
A great meal-planning app that I discovered recently is called Mealime.

6.  Simple meal planning
Like I said in the point about snacks: start out small.  Don't overwhelm yourself with planning every meal perfectly and becoming 100% healthy right away.
What I like to do is: from the lists I make (see #5), I then choose which food I am craving.  Say it's ravioli, for example.  Trader Joe's (yes, people, that's where I shop) has some delicious and healthy ravioli options.
Next, think about what you want to eat with the ravioli.  Maybe some red sauce?  Find a yummy sounding one, look at the ingredients and price, then move on to... cheese?  Pre-shredded is always helpful.
I like adding a veggie dish (even if it's just a simple salad) to a plate of ravioli, so figure out what you're craving - maybe just avocados and tomatoes? - and voila!  You have a meal.
Or make a quick rice stir fry, as pictured above.

Regardless of where you are in life, if you can financially "afford" buying healthier options, or don't have a lot of meal prep time, making your life - and body - healthier is one of the keys to being a happy human.  Enjoy food, and learn to look for the delicious-healthy, instead of the quick-and-easy-unhealthy.

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Comment below some of your favorite yummy foods!


6 Simple & Easy Ways To Make Your Life [Happier], part 1

I have often heard people complain about how difficult it is to "be healthy".  And I also see a lot of individuals who aren't happy.  I feel that the two can oftentimes relate because, as a fellow writer stated,

"Improving our mental health is one of the most important investments we can make.  We're happy to spend time toning and shaping our bodies, so why not get our minds in shape, too?"  

We can make conscious efforts to do both, though, and in this two part series, I hope you will find some helpful tips on how to make your mind, your body, your space, and your day just a little better.

1.  Have a good morning routine.
Did you know that every morning you wake up, new baby nerve cells have been born while you were sleeping and they are crazy ready to go in whatever direction you send them?  It's true.  And the way you choose to use them is completely up to you.  Some people wake up and are grumpy and these nerve cells become grumpy and last throughout the day being grumpy little energies that emit through your persona.
Or you can wake up, open your eyes, smile, stretch, leap out of bed with the mentality that today, regardless of what it holds, will be a good day - a great day! - and you will make the most of it.
It's all a matter of perspective.  And the type of perspective you choose to have will impact your brain short-term and long-term.
A simple way to start this is to have a good morning routine.  What makes you feel best in the morning, when you first wake up?  (And no, "hitting my snooze button" or "sleeping more" won't work for me.)  Figure this out on your own and write down your preferred first-thing-in-the-morning action.
Personally, I like to wake up and get out of bed right away.  This prevents me from being lazy and choosing to just lounge in bed and get nothing done.  Once I'm up, I brush my teeth, tame my mane's bed head, and honestly, I will crawl back into bed but I'm too awake now to sleep, so I do one of two things - I either read or write.  Even if it's just for a few minutes.  There's something spectacularly peaceful about recording one's thoughts or reading someone else's just as the sun is starting to ebb through your curtains.  The world is waking up and so are you.

2.  Love your space.
Rearranging your room is one thing, but there's nothing wrong with giving it a little extra love too.  So buy that pretty set of sheets you saw, spend a few bucks on that cozy pillow or blanket, add the tapestry to your Amazon cart, hang lights above your bed, write encouraging notes on your mirrors, buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, rearrange your bookshelf by genres...  There a many ways to make your space YOU.  And don't forget that it's your sanctuary - where you come home to after a long day of work, where you want to relax and enjoy yourself.  Make it your haven.

3.  Surround yourself with positive energy.
And no, I'm not gonna get all weird on you.  I know people get freaked out by the words "energy" and "aura" and "vibes" but it's not all just New Age-y-ness.  There really is a sense of spirituality that comes with these words and it's something to learn about, not fear.
I have educated myself, over the years, to cycle out anything that is bringing negativity to my life - whether it's a person, place, thing or feeling.  Doing this has brought me to a place of identity, self-confidence and positivity because I create and guard my space, my heart, my surroundings.  For example, I don't let just anyone into my room.  I try to keep any arguments, negative emotions I'm feeling, anything that triggers bad memories, books/movies I don't like, etc. out of my space.  If they do end up in there for some reason, I use essential oils and crystals to purify.

4.  Music.
Music is so powerful, and no matter what mood you're in, there is always a genre that will fit your emotions or be the means to change what you're feeling.  I keep music on 24/7.  If it's not playing, I'm singing to myself.  If I'm not singing, I'm humming.  If I'm not humming, I have a song playing in my head.  From the second I get out of bed, till I'm winding down with meditation and reading for the night, I have music going.  This is a way I keep myself focused, and happy.  I have found myself in situations where I start to feel anxious and then I realize - "I don't hear any music", so I'll immediately turn some on or start singing until I can play a song on my phone or computer or in my car.  This may sound like I'm relying a bit too much on it, but I believe music is something God has given us to utilize for many different reasons and next to spending time in His presence and talking to Him, music and writing are my other outlets for sanity.

5.  Keep natural elements around you
This can include essential oils, plants, crystals, a window that gets a lot of sunlight, whatever you decide works best for you and what your soul finds most attractive and invigorating.  I've grown up always having essential oils diffused around the house or wearing diffuser necklaces/bracelets.  I have a diffuser in my room that I turn on at the beginning and ends of my day.  I have an assortment of about thirty different oils that I can use, as well as a big window near my bed that I allow natural light to come through and shine onto myself and my plant babies.  If I can't be outside in nature, I try to bring as much nature to surround me.

6.  Yoga/Meditation
Before you start creating some crazy mental image of yoga poses and are freaked out by even attempting to try it out, remember that stretching and being in touch with your body, mind and heart is so very healthy for you.  Meditation centers your mind, too, after a fitful night's sleep or a long, hectic day.  Start out small and simple.  A couple breathing techniques here, a yoga stretch there.  Don't overwhelm yourself right from the get-go.  Ease into it, watch tutorials, listen to podcasts.  Learn about it and enjoy yourself along the way.

Recommended apps:
- 1 Giant Mind
- Headspace
- Yoga
- Simply Yoga
- Daily Yoga
- Oak

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Comment below ways that you make your day and life healthier, and stay tuned for part 2 of this series!


An Open Letter To the Role Model Women In My Life

Dear you,

There are so many fascinating little details about you that cause me to be struck in awe and inspired by your very existence.
Not many women my age can boast of having such incredible role models to look up to, and aspire to be like
And I promise I do not, I will not take you for granted
You have taught me many things
Steffany Gretzinger
Oftentimes without being aware that I was listening and learning
I pride myself in jotting down notes, tucking away words you say, and taking snapshots with my eyes of the way you live, move and touch the ones around you
You forgive the past,
Make memories in the present,
Laugh at the future
And you have taught me to do the same.
The way you forge ahead with a steady smile and a firm step
Willing whatever is ahead to dare try to stop you from taking hold of the dreams you so eagerly wish to reach
And some of those dreams you have already made a reality
And for that, I praise you
You are so much more than just a body with feminine parts
You're a force to be reckoned with
You have moved mountains, birthed tiny humans, and crushed discord
You are dauntless
You are brilliant
You are violent yet gentle
You are powerful yet kind
You show grace and mercy even if you have not been shown the same
You forgive without always being asked
You nourish, even when no one is sustaining you
You give of yourself until you are empty, and sometimes you're the only one who fills yourself back up
And you love
Oh you love relentlessly
Gal Gadot
I've heard it said that the strongest souls are the ones who have been the weakest at one point in their lives before
And if this is true, then there must have been a time when you were at your lowest, your worst, your loneliest moment
For the strength that emits from your spirit tells a story of how far you have come from that place
And you have changed the course of your life by pure strength
You are not the ship anymore, being tossed to and fro amidst the waves
You are the storm
You were once a defeated girl, but now have become a valiant women
And for that, I praise you
You have shown me what true courage is
You have taught me to not just sit back and accept whatever is thrown at me
But to embrace it, to learn from it

W O M A N 

Such a common word to describe one of the world's greatest wonders
A body that can grow a little human for nine months
A soul who can feel hurt, heal itself, and love in return
A spirit that can give freely of its energy and will others to do the same
You are so much more than any word could ever explain
More than any picture could illustrate
More than any poem could portray

Here's to you.


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Comment below the names of women who inspire you - ones well-known or who should be.