Six Lessons My 20s Taught Me

Photo credit: Ashley Allison
Photo credit: Ashley Allison

It’s exactly two months and nine days until I turn 26. In most of my college classes, I’m considered the old one. I’m officially closer to 30 than 20 and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot from my 20s so far, which brings me to the point of this blog: I’m going to impart some pieces of wisdom now, or what I think is wisdom. So here it goes, six lessons my 20s taught me, one for every year so far.

1. Stop caring what everyone thinks of you.

You’re not going to please everyone and there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like you, so why bother? It’s exhausting.

What really matters is what you think of yourself. If there are things you want to change, change them, but don’t do it to make someone else happy.

While changing may temporarily please the other person, it probably is going to leave you feeling like crap because you can’t be yourself.

This brings me to my next point.

2. Let your freak flag fly.

Take it from me, learning who you are and exactly where you fit in the grand scheme of things is a rough road. I get it. I’m a 5-foot-2-inch ginger with skin so white it could blind you.

I could easily be classified as a leprechaun. I enjoy dressing up and going to the grocery store in outfits so ugly the word “out” shouldn’t be connected to the word “fit” in any way, shape or form.

I say inappropriate things for laughs, and I dance in public places where dancing generally isn’t accepted. I’m weird, and that’s okay.

Show people the real you and you’ll be surprised how receptive others will be.

3. Be firm in your wants and needs.

Don’t be afraid to be vocal about the things you truly want in life. More importantly, don’t let others make you feel stupid for wanting those things.

Make sure to surround yourself with people who have similar goals and can help encourage you to achieve what you want most in life, not hold you back.

4. You better work, bitch.

As cliche and corny as it sounds, nothing good comes easy. If you want that Bugatti Britney keeps singing about, you have to work hard.

While wanting something is the first step to realizing a dream, simply wanting doesn’t get you any results and neither does doing the bare minimum. If you really want something, you have to focus all your energy toward achieving it.

5. There is power in positive thinking.

It may not be true for everyone, but for me, positive, focused thinking brings positive results.

If you really want something, focus on it every day, harnessing all your energy to attaining the goal. You’ll be surprised how the universe makes a way to help you achieve your innermost desires.

6. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.

Friends and lovers come and go. Sometimes, for some reason, you grow apart from those you love most, and the general tendency is to hold on for dear life and try our damnedest not to let the person go.

This, however, is futile. Think of people as teachers, helping you along your life’s journey.

You can’t stay in the same classroom forever, at some point you have to graduate.

What Your Nail Color Says About You

Photo credit: Andrea Nibler
Photo credit: Andrea Nibler

First impressions are key. When preparing for a job interview most of us plan out our entire outfit down to our shoes, but we rarely consider the impression other subtle details of our appearance leave.

When painting your nails a shiny new shade, choose your color wisely.

Your go-to nail look can say a few things about your personality. Are you a confident red? A dazzling glitter? Or maybe a chic gray?

Whether you gravitate towards a bold hue or something more relaxed, the fact is that nail color makes a statement.

Nude = You’re a Natural

Pretty and polished, nudes are always feminine and clean-cut.  You are not afraid to show your true self to the world. These feminine shades are appropriate for any situation.

Red = You’re Passionate

Red nails are the ultimate bold statement. Shades of red emanate passion, fire and confidence. Wear this daring color and employers will know that you are someone who won’t shy away from the spotlight.

Purple = You’re Creative

Purple is the color of imagination. Purple people are ambitious and deep thinkers who enjoy standing out in their own way.

Green = You’re Adventurous

Green is a strong and powerful color. Those who make green their top choice have a strong sense of adventure and don’t get intimidated by risk.

 Blue = You’re Loyal

Is blue calling your name? You are calm and peaceful is stressful situations. This color exhibits reliability and inner confidence; both great qualities employers look for.

 Darks = You’re Chic

Those who often choose dark shades are rather chic. The dark polish wearer is usually fashion forward, creative and edgy with a sprinkle of rebellion.

 Neon = You’re Bold

You are hip and energetic. Neon enthusiasts are fun loving, passionate and have the ability to strike up a conversation with almost anyone.

For more information, look at these articles on the meaning of colors and what nail polish color can tell about your character.

Why Music Makes Us Feel: Emotionally, Neurologically and Historically

Music is pretty much all encompassing in the digital age.

It’s universal and can be heard in all types of advertisements, commercials and TV shows – most of which aren’t about the music itself.

Familiar tunes are constantly playing in grocery and department stores; the style of music normally based on the type of experience they want you to have.

Of course, we also have our personal favorites streaming through our headphones, computers, AUX cords and cars.

True, we all have varying preferences and differences in our frequency of listening to music. Characteristically though, most humans tend to enjoy it.

Photo credit: Lunamom58, Creative Commons, Original photo
Photo credit: Lunamom58, Creative Commons, Original photo

I have met only one person in my whole life that told me he didn’t really like listening to music. He must have been dropped one too many times on his head as a child, I guess.

Music just makes us feel good, even if it’s a sad melody. But why does music make us feel so good?

National Geographic conducted a study that shows that when we anticipate music to be played it arouses our brains from the get-go. Once it flows through our ears, our neurons react and it triggers a response, showing distinct brain activity.

This is where we either like, or dislike the music – a distinction that is not clear yet scientifically. I may never know why country doesn’t soothe me, but rock music does.

Neurologically speaking, we are rewarded with happiness through the form of dopamine when we listen to music.

Our reward circuit of dopamine within the brain that is responsible for processing those tangible activities needed for sustaining life (such as eating, drinking, sleeping and sex) is also is used for processing our experience of music.

Seems simple enough, but the interesting part is that the act of listening to music is an abstract activity – and such things are typically processed on a cognitive level, creating happiness through a slightly different process.

Does this mean that music is necessary in order to survive?

Maybe not, but perhaps it has helped us progress as human beings. Our ancient ancestors may have used it as a tool to connect socially and emotionally in their day-to-day lives, on a level that wasn’t just about survival.

Many would agree that harmonies of voices and a combining of instruments often sounds more appealing than a simple beat on a bongo. This thought may have occurred to early humans, stimulating a social construct within our brains to create and enjoy these sounds together.

All in all, music might just be what made the human race more than a species that merely survives for survival’s sake.

World Cinema: Not Just in English

As American moviegoers, we often like to stay in our comfort zone of what is familiar to us as far as our cinema experience goes.

Whether you enjoy action, comedy, or romance, you probably are watching American movies with American slants and messages that are in accordant to mainstream American culture.

So naturally, we have a bias when it comes to viewing something that was made in Hollywood over a movie that was made in Bollywood (India).

Language barriers can also be a turn off because honestly who wants to read during an entire movie?

But sitting down and getting past the subtitles of a foreign film can be beneficial in seeing the world from a different perspective.

It also gives another country a chance to tell their side of the story artistically and world events that you may not have heard in their historical context.

Watching a foreign flick could also give you an appreciation for aesthetics and different filming and editing techniques, as in the chaotic camera movements that symbolize Cuban frustration and struggle in the events leading up to Castro’s revolution in I am Cuba (Soy Cuba), which was ironically shot by Russian Director Mikhail Kalatozov.

Yet, melodramatic films like these can also serve as evidence for propaganda under the guise of “national cinema,” leaving the viewer to question where truth is consistent and where it is stretched in not only foreign films, but those made in the U.S. as well.

But if you’re not in a world cinema class like I am and do not have time to delve into great imported cinema here are a few recommendations:

Photo credit: Anthony Estrada 3 Iron, (Empty House)
Photo credit: Anthony Estrada 3 Iron, (Empty House)

1. 3 Iron (Empty House) (2004), is a Korean romance film about a young man who tapes menus to door knobs and lives in unoccupied dwellings while the owners are gone or are on vacation. American audiences will be glad to know that this is a heavily visual film (Not a lot of subtitles in this one).

2. Stalker (1979) is a Russian science-fiction/quest that follows a “Stalker” (guide) as he leads a writer and a scientist into the “Zone” where a man’s most inner desires can come true.

3.  Rome, Open City (1945), is an Italian war drama that gives insight of Rome during Nazi occupation in 1944.

4.      Red Tent (1969), an Italian/Russian co-production that demonstrates the national pride and attention that surrounded the fatal 1928 Italian expedition to the North Pole. This film was made in Russian, Italian and English and even features Sean Connery (James Bond himself) to entice American moviegoers, though possibly due to Cold War tensions was overlooked.

5.      I Am Cuba (1964), a Russian/Cuban co-production as mentioned above, is about the Cuban revolution against Batista, but also features highly noted long camera shots before cuts are made.  

Though, these movies are influenced by the magic of Hollywood, it is interesting to see how other countries express themselves with the medium. Which can be just as ambitious and entertaining as any American-made film.

Unoccupied and Unplugged

Imagine you are sitting in a room. It is a plain room; there is not much to look at. Your phone is dead, your computer is in the other room and you cannot seem to figure out what to do with your time. You could leave, but you really don’t feel like getting up and walking around the room.

Pacing is ill-advised.

But you get fidgety, you can’t seem to keep your leg still. Your knee bounces under your palm, and your pesky laundry list of to-do items starts to lean heavily against the back of your eyes.

Photo credit: Micky Aldridge, Creative Commons, Original Photo
Photo credit: Micky Aldridge, Creative Commons, Original Photo

 

The list only grows: grocery shopping, homework, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, going to the gym, etc. The list runs further down your throat until it nearly suffocates you.

The anxiety kicks in and you can’t help but wonder how many minutes have gone by. Three minutes. You groan in boredom before kicking to your feet and leaving the room.

No one is safe from the desire to avoid boredom. We are raised to believe that boredom is high up on the list when it comes to failure. Even learning how to lucid dream has become so popular, we are no longer allowed to merely sleep. We have to be doing things at all times.

Flappy Bird, Candy Crush and, well, any Facebook game, seem to only fuel our restlessness. Today, we can no longer sit in a room and merely be bored, wasting time.

Even simple tasks are being sung as wasteful. As if time itself is this finite resource that we must suck dry like all other pleasures this planet gives us.

We are wasting time walking from one college building to the next, we must be on our smartphones- Tweeting, texting or Vining.

We have been conditioned with the gut reaction to occupy ourselves. We cannot even watch television anymore without computers on our laps or iPhones with Instagram and Snapchat.

But what if we reject that idea? In the age of computers and flat screen televisions, I urge you to join me in an experiment.

Imagine and consider taking a single chunk of 10 minutes out of your day and simply be bored. Be brave with me, defiantly shut your computer and turn your phone on silent in the next room.

Face the intimidating silence of your mind.

A Well Deserved Vacation Abroad

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
-Saint Augustine

Whether it’s at the end of this semester or in the fall, graduation is quickly approaching for seniors. This can be an overwhelming thought that most students, including myself, are reminded of on a regular basis.

We’ve been in school for most of our lives and now after the long hours and perseverance this chapter is finally coming to an end.

One of the main purposes of college is to prepare for a (hopefully) well-paying satisfying job, but most jobs will be full-time and last for the majority of our lives.

Before jumping into a full-time career, one option is to take some time to travel abroad after graduating.

Traveling is a great way to experience different ideas, new people, create lasting memories and relax with friends and family after working hard to earn a degree.

As we’ve probably all heard before, the best time to travel is when we’re young.

People usually don’t have as many responsibilities as they would once they have a career, start a long-term relationship and possibly have children, which makes it easier to take some time to explore.

Even if you plan on attending graduate school or already have a job lined up after graduating, taking some time to visit another country is very doable and rewarding.

The expense of traveling can be intimidating, especially for recent graduates, but it is possible to find hotels within your budget on a country’s tourism website in locations that still offer an incredible experience.

While popular countries in Europe such as England, France and Italy are generally thought of for traveling abroad after college, there are other locations that are sometimes overlooked.

Whether you’re interested in relaxing by the beach or exploring the history and culture of a new place, here are some alternative  countries that offer beautiful views and memorable experiences:

Thailand

This Southeast Asian country has a tropical climate, fascinating culture and history, and offers a variety of hotels ranging in prices. Thailand’s capital is near the coast and many popular beaches, which is perfect for a relaxing trip with friends or family.

May through August is the tourist-friendly country’s off-peak season, which offers the cheapest prices.

http://www.tourismthailand.org/home

Greece

Whether you’d like to explore the history of the capital, Athens, or visit one of the 227 inhabited islands, Greece is a great place to visit.

Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson, Creative Commons
Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson, Creative Commons, Original Photo

Because of the country’s location and clear waters; water sports such as boating, wind surfing and water-skiing are very popular on the coast and the islands.

http://www.visitgreece.gr/#&slider1=2

Brazil

Brazil offers the chance to explore the Amazon, visit famous cities such as Rio de Janeiro and enjoy Brazilian cuisine and culture.

The country is well-known for its Carnival festival in February, which is a week-long celebration before Lent that includes parades, music and colorful costumes.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/04/travel/brazil-10-things/

Happy safe travels.

How Training to Fight Trains You for Life

I have always been active in sports. I started playing tee-ball at a very young age and continued playing baseball until high school. When it wasn’t baseball season, I was involved in football, soccer and basketball.

Although I loved my time playing all of these sports, it wasn’t until I started training in different athletic endeavors that I started learning about life.

I started watching mixed martial arts in high school as the UFC started to become popular. I was friends with a couple of wrestlers who introduced me to the promotion, and instantly I was hooked and always talked about training.

It wasn’t until I was 27 that I started training. I took a Judo class at my college and soon signed up for Muay Thai and Brazilian jujitsu at a gym.

When I signed up I was prepared to start a physical transformation. What I wasn’t ready for was a mental transformation. The following are three ways that training to fight has trained me for life.

Fighting
Photo credit: Anthony Peters

1. Always keep your balance.

This lesson comes from Muay Thai. Keeping your balance is essential for everything.

If you throw yourself off balance while punching, not only does it make it harder for you to continue your attack, it makes it hard for you to defend.

I apply this to my personal life every day.

By keeping my school life in balance with my home life, I am able to keep everything in perspective and not over extend myself in one area. This allows me to focus on one thing at a time.

2. Mat time, mat time, mat time.

This jujitsu saying is probably the lesson that I needed to learn most.It is said to students who try to find a shortcut for learning techniques.

In jujitsu, as in life, there are no shortcuts. The only way to truly become a master at something is to put in the time on the mats, or just continue working on it.

3. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

I learned this Japanese maxim from my Judo classes. In Judo, you are constantly being thrown to the mat.

Either in practice or in sparring, getting thrown to the mats can be very demoralizing. What separates those that don’t make it and those that do is who can pick themselves up and get back to it.

Life can throw you to the mat easier than the best judoka. What separates those who are successful and those that aren’t is who can rebound from hardship.

Why Everyone Should Work in a Restaurant at Some Point

From dish washing to waiting, the food service industry is one that often gets misunderstood and overlooked at. It is commonly seen as a service, where the customers are aiding businesses by bringing their hunger to them. Where no mistakes can be made, because it is a simple job, no matter the position.

On the contrary, it is not an easy job. There’s much more to working in a restaurant than most people think. It is like a machine, where it takes many components to work right, and being a part of that machine has taught me valuable things that can be incorporated into the real world.

forkdinner
Photo credit: Joserolando Bravo

1. Appreciation

Working in a restaurant lets you see the hard work it takes to make it run well. You learn to appreciate the host’s warm welcome, the bus person keeping your table clean, and the time a server takes to make sure your are enjoying your dinning experience. Lets not forget the food; the staff in the kitchen never stops working including the dishwasher that receives dirty dishes almost nonstop.

2. Patience

There will be difficult customers that will make it seem impossible to work with, regardless of age or gender. Lashing out or speaking your mind is not an option. Patience is a virtue, and one you’ll definitely gain working in the food industry.

3. Dynamics

Human interaction is inevitable, and working in a restaurant is a great way of building skills that will become beneficial. Courtesy, respect, and politeness are a necessity, and sometimes people tend to forget that. “Treat customers as if they were guests in your own home,” says Nate Johnson, Chef and owner of The Kitchen Table in Chico Calif.. Great food and great service will help build relationships, along with regular customers.

4. Communication

Probably one of the biggest gains in working in a restaurant is gaining the ability to properly communicate, not only with customers, but with coworkers as well.

5. Teamwork

Most jobs you will obtain will require the ability to work with a team. Leadership skills and being able to follow are both characteristics of teamwork, and a restaurant is a perfect place to learn that.

Working in a restaurant is something that everyone should do at some point in their lives. The things learned from it will benefit you greatly, and are something that will carry on to the rest of your life.

Spice Up Your Single’s Awareness Day

Valentine’s Day is truly the most hyped-up holiday by Hallmark. Whether you’re in a relationship, single or dating, Valentine’s Day is just another day of the year. As backward as it may be, single individuals are the ones who seem to put the most emphasis on this holiday.

 

Singles should remember on Valentine’s Day that love is not just for couples; it is for all of us and we should embrace it! Here are some ways to make this February 14 fabulous:

IMG_6268

1.) Spoil yourself or save some money

Since you aren’t spending a dollar on some dude, treat yourself to something really special. This goes for guys as well; being single on this Hallmark holiday means that you don’t have to max out your credit card on a ridiculously expensive gift for your girlfriend, so spend it on an item that you’ve been wanting.

Last year’s Consumer Reports said that the average American spent $130.97 on Valentine’s Day. This amount is said to increase this year. For college kids, that’s a chunk of cash many would much rather save or spend on themselves.

2.)     Share the love

Let your close friends and relatives know how much you care about them. This is a day to appreciate the ones around you and really let them know you care. Go to the dollar store and make your closest friends goodie bags of candy, teddy bears and other cheesy crap to let them know they are loved and appreciated! Send your grandparents Valentine’s cards and let them know that they are on your mind. Caring for others on this day will make you feel good about yourself.

3.)     Spend time with friends

Get a group of friends together and turn the night into a fun guys’ or girls’ night out. Start out with dinner at a local restaurant and splurge a little. Then, when the check comes, realize you’re only responsible for your portion, a benefit of being single. Plus, you don’t have to share your entree!

4.)     Don’t sulk, go scope out the single scene!

After dinner you can hangout with your close single friends who you really care about. But, don’t get too comfortable or plan on vegging out on the couch. No sulking around the house, romantic comedies or pity parties allowed today. Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, so why not go downtown with your friends and scope out the single scene? All the couples are bound to be cuddled up on a couch somewhere watching “The Notebook,” so there won’t be any PDA or obstacles for you to avoid.

You can turn this holiday of Single’s Awareness Day into Single’s Appreciation Day all by your perspective and how you choose to spend your time.

Birthday Freebies in February

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22! Well, not yet at least.

I won’t be the worthy number in Taylor Swift’s award winning single until February 19, 2014!

Even if your birthday isn’t this month I thought I’d share some freebies available only on your birthday.

Birthday_candles
Photo Credit: Ed g2s, Wikimedia Commons, Original

Everyone likes free things and it’s even better when its on the day you graced the earth. After all, a celebration is in order for every year survived so why not make it cheaper than expected?

This website has a list of freebies nationwide. I chose to highlight places you can find in town. Some items include:

Cold Stone Creamery: Join their club to receive a coupon for free ice cream on your birthday.
Denny’s – Grand Slam with photo identification proof.
Disney: Register for Disney Movie Rewards and you’ll receive a credit for a free Blu-ray movie on your birthday.
Dutch Bros. Coffee – Birthday drink.
IHOP – Pancakes or meal.
Krispy Kreme – Birthday doughnut.
Logan’s Roadhouse – Nutter Butter Fudgeslide dessert.
Old Navy: Sign up and you’ll receive a free surprise on your birthday.
Olive Garden – Birthday dessert or appetizer.
Outback Steakhouse – Free Aussie-tizer.
Redbox – DVD Movie Rental.
Red Lobster – Appetizer…
Sephora – Benefit Real Birthday Turn-ons set.
Smashbox – Gift Set: transparent bag, lip product, and make up compact.
Starbucks -Handcrafted beverage.
Tully’s Coffeeshop – Barista beverage.
Victoria’s Secret: Sign up and receive a coupon for $10.
World Market – $10 Birthday items.

It is wise to call a store or restaurant before heading out to receive a freebie. Only certain locations allow it.

Reading the fine print is also important.

Starbucks gives you a free birthday drink, but only if you’ve signed up as a card member at least one month before your actual birth date. I made that mistake last year.

When it’s not completely free, some things may still be worth the free membership sign up.

Spam may be a result but who really cares? A good deal is a good deal.

I would recommend the birthday freebie planning now so you don’t miss out when the golden time arrives! Happy future birthday freebie finding, friends!