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What is PCOS?

给个网站你们懂的One of my biggest goals over the last 9 months has been trying to understand my body. I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 14. In the past I have gone YEARS without a period. It seems despite my best efforts, no matter what I do I cannot lose weight. For a long time the only thing doctors told me would help was weightloss, but how do we lose weight when our bodies want to pack on the pounds??

给个网站你们懂的What is PCOS anyway? PCOS is a hormonal disorder in women leading to facial hair, acne, weight gain, hair loss or thinning (on scalp), infertility, painful and irregular periods, abdominal pains and so much more. It also has been linked to anxiety & depression.

Living with PCOS (or Piece of Shit as my husband likes to call it) is a struggle. Waking up everyday you never know if you will have energy or not. How many chin hairs do you need to pluck? wax? shave? Our self-esteem seems to always be at an all time low. Not only do many women suffering from this disease have to struggle with self confidence but infertility is a big hurtle that many times is barely even touched on. Add in that depression and anxiety that comes with PCOS and you have a perfect storm.

I have struggled with the symptoms for many years, ever since my diagnosis I have slowly packed on the pounds over the years. With a few nutrition classes from college under my belt, a certification in medical assisting, and a bachelors degree in biological sciences I want to test some of my own theories and see for myself what works for us and what doesn’t.

If you type PCOS into google search millions of pages will pop up, some of these are scientifically based studies, others are blogs from women who preach diet and weightless strategies with PCOS. I’ve tried many different strategies throughout the years, but I have never really stuck to anything. Do these diets/workouts/old wives tales really have any merit to them??

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Over the next 12 months I am going to give myself one challenge per month and see for myself if any of these theories have actual science and truth backing them. I’ll be discussing the controls and variables to each experiment and sharing my documentation in real time through this blog.

We will explore the Keto diet, Low Carb diets, & the Mediterranean diet as well as different combinations of strength, cardio, and low impact workouts to see what balance works for me. I may also explore essential oil combinations, acupuncture, tongue scraping, meditations and natural supplements. If you have PCOS I encourage you to try the experiments along with me and share your results in the comments.

I will keep a diary of the food I ate, how I feel, and what exercises I did that day.

At the end of every month I will be answering the following 10 questions regarding my experience:

  1. did I get my period? / am I pregnant?
  2. how many breakouts do I have? what zones are they in?
  3. weight
  4. measurements
  5. is the hair on my chin course or fine?
  6. Am I losing chunks of hair or experiencing minimal hair loss?
  7. do I have energy or am I lethargic?
  8. What diet did I follow?
  9. What was my weekly exercise routine?
  10. what new supplements and natural remedies did I try?

The Controls:
I will be consistently using Slim & Sassy EO from DOTERRA used topically.
Daily Medications: Metformin 850mg BID | 4,000 IU Vitamin D3 | 1 prenatal vitamin
Drink at least half my body weight in water everyday.

My Hypothesis: PCOS can be cured through a specific combination of diet, exercise, and eastern & western medicine when following a regimen tailored to your body.

My 10 questions answered prior to starting the experiment:

  1. I did not get my period & I am not pregnant
  2. Minimal breakouts, mainly in the T-zone
  3. 215 lbs
  4. High waist: 34in
    R Bicep 15.75in
    R Thigh: 25.5 in
    Hips: 47.5 in
  5. chin hair: course and thick
  6. losing medium amount of hair off scalp daily.
  7. I am energized
  8. balanced diet per HHS.gov & 2000 calories per day
  9. yoga 3-5 times per week, cardio 2 times per week, strength 1 times per week
  10. None

Do these diets really work? Will I feel better in one year or will I learn that my disease cannot be beaten? Let’s fucking beat this.

Cheers to a healthier future, PCOS babes!?xo

-Gabby

Living with Infertility in a World that Doesn’t Understand.

With social media we are bombarded with pregnancy announcements & baby photos and our lives are constantly being compared to others. I’m going to give you one piece of advice that you will probably roll your eyes at right now, but I hope by the end of this post you might find a new perspective.

You are exactly where you need to be.

Ever since my infertility journey began, I have felt pulled away from my faith. I couldn’t put my trust in God, someone/something I couldn’t see. As a trained scientist I have always struggled with my faith but praying for years to a God that never answered was my breaking point. I was at my lowest. I struggled with suicidal ideations, I cried constantly, and I had never felt so cynical, angry, hurt, and frustrated at the world. I needed to find some type of hope, but I was grasping at straws. This tormented me. After 2 years of trying, I finally met a wall.

I knew infertility treatments weren’t for me instantly. We gave it a good college try, but it didn’t fit with our schedules in a world that does not and cannot comprehend what it is like to want to be a mother and know it may never happen. I gained weight, I struggled with my emotions and it was draining my husband and I of our dignity and our savings. Infertility treatment was wrong for us and I am here to let you know, it may be wrong for you too and there is NO shame in that. If you are comfortable with the infertility treatment process and the way the world treats you, you can skip this lengthy blog post, but for some of us there is nothing wrong with letting go and learning to cope with the cards life has dealt you.

So, here are some words of wisdom to all the women struggling with fertility who can’t conceive and are looking for a little bit of comfort:

You are not alone. There are many of us out there and unfortunately the way our society treats infertility as taboo is painful and isolating. Many of us don’t have a good support system. Know you are not alone and millions of men and women around the world are suffering in silence beside you. I believe regardless of the way people will react, it is extremely important to be open and honest about what you are going through. We need to stop the stigma and start being vocal about the emotional pain we go through or the way people deal with it will never change. Be open with as many people as you can. Even though it is a difficult topic and no one wants to hear about it, it is very real. You might even help someone else struggling in silence along the way. Being vocal about my problems was an unspoken invitation to women who were suffering in silence to step forward and privately message their support. I found a strong support system of people who actually understood. A support system will help you heal and feel less alone, but you’ll need more than just women who understand around you. I also strongly suggest seeing a licensed therapist if you haven’t already and finding someone who specializes in Infertility is even better.

Ignore the ignorant. It’s true that unless someone has struggled with infertility they cannot begin to understand where you are coming from. You are going to get words of encouragement from women who tried for a year and got pregnant on their own and you are going to hear a variation of the following phrases:

-adoption is a great option!

-just get drunk that worked for me!

-It’ll happen when you stop trying, that’s life!

-why don’t you foster?

-just go to fertility treatments! My friend did one round of IUI and got pregnant right away.

-just get your doctor to prescribe Clomid.

-my one friend got pregnant after 2 years of trying.

-Have you ever tried manifesting it?

-Have you tried standing on your head/laying upside down for 10 minutes/putting a pillow under your butt/drinking fertility tea/(etc.)?

-JUST RELAX!

-Can you just get over it?

-You should get a grant or start a gofundme for treatments

Need I continue? Or do you get the jist?

Ignore it. They are ignorant and they don’t know what they are talking about. None of those methods are proven to be true for everyone and everyone’s body is different. If you are searching for help talk to a specialist and ignore the peanut gallery. This is the main reason I recommend seeing a licensed therapist. Other people are stupid, let them act a fool and laugh at them behind their backs, it’s kind of an inside joke between all us “infertiles” anyway.

Be the right amount of selfish. It is extremely important to take care of yourself and that means by any means necessary. Skip your family member’s baby shower. If it’s going to be painful for you to be around all the baby fever, then don’t go. Yes. I know it’s selfish, but if you cannot physically deal with the torment don’t go. Protect your mental health, send a gift, and go get a massage that day instead. Living with infertility is hard enough, you don’t need to have it shoved in your face. It’s not worth it and don’t do it to yourself.

Find your happiness. I can promise you; your happiness is out there. When you are struggling with infertility it can consume your life. It tends to suck the soul out of you and makes you a shell of who you were before. It might take a while but force yourself to find another passion in life. Once I had broken free of the chains, I kept in place for myself, I realized the potential of my life with or without children. As painful as it still is to consider what my life would have been like had I been able to conceive I was able to turn my shattered world into something bigger than me. The important thing to remember is that you are here to make a difference in this world, and you may have a bigger purpose or something you need to accomplish before a family is a possibility for you. The universe puts things in your path to strengthen you and so you can help others along the way. One of my favorite quotes is by Stephanie Sparkles, “I love when people who have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.”

After searching for a new dream to focus on, I realized I had a great responsibility to help other women who are just like me. Some women are comforted by the success stories of infertility treatments and natural conception after years of miscarriages or not conceiving, I was not. I know there are women like me who feel the same way.

I am in no way shaming women who decide to continue infertility treatments, continue fighting their disease, or want to continue trying to have a child. If adoption, infertility treatments, or faith in God is for you then you should continue your path and there are tons of books on infertility that have happy endings out there.

For some of us though, that happy ending isn’t the same. Contrast to what many of you reading this may believe, my choice to stop pursuing fertility treatment and children in general is still a happy ending for me. I have never been in such a good place mentally and physically in my life. I’ve chosen to pursue a path where I can spread awareness and help others in the same situation. I did not let infertility define who I am. I did not give up and roll over, I gave in and found peace. I am happy with my choice and where I am in life regardless of what other people think or tell me and you should find that happiness too. No matter what it looks like.

I promise you too can find peace. Don’t let the weight of infertility consume your life. There is so much more to live for.

 

Why the Guinness Storehouse is the #1 Tourist Attraction in Dublin

If you have ever visited Dublin one of the things every cab driver and tour guide will ask is if you plan on touring the Guinness Storehouse. If you have an upcoming trip to Dublin and you have not booked your tickets, you absolutely should. I have visited Dublin twice in the last 10 years and one of the coolest things to see and do in the city is the Guinness Tour.

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St. James’s Gate

Guinness is arguably one of the most well known beers in the world. The dark ruby red stout is rich and unique in taste. I won’t get into details (because that would ruin the tour!) but even if you aren’t a fan of Guinness you need to see this place. The storehouse is any stories high with bars throughout the 4-6th floor, but you should save your free drink tickets for the Gravity Bar and I will explain why.

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Ringing the bell at the Tasting Experience!

The tour starts out on the ground floor and explains the process of making beer from the beginning. As you climb your way up the steps (or if you take the escalator or elevator) you will see the process from start to finish, you will be able to watch how the barrels are made, and watch how shipping changed over the years. You should also take advantage of the free Tasting Experience which instructs you on how to taste the beer properly (plus you get a free sample). You do not need to use your free drink at this location and you can still get your free Guinness after this. Brandon was excited because he was chosen to ring the bell at the end of the tasting since it was his birthday.

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Wall of Guinness Bottles over the years

There is an entire floor dedicated to advertisements through the years. Different mascots they have had and their marketing campaigns. There are life size sculptures you can take photographs with and a large surround sound movie theater you can watch a continuous loop of their commercials on. I recommend taking a few minutes to sit here on the floor or stand and watch a few of the commercials as some of them are moving and worth the time.

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Barrel Building

 

At the end of the tour you can use your tickets for a free pint of Guinness. I recommend taking the stairs if you are able as the elevators take quite a while and there is a long line. There are about 4 flights of stairs to the Gravity Bar just a few steps from the elevator shafts. The Gravity Bar is a small room at the top of the Storehouse with a round bar in the middle and windows all the way around the outside, on a clear day you can see all of Dublin. On the windows are information about famous structures and places you can see through that window. Most days are cloudy and rainy, but if you can swing it so that you are there on a clear day the views are amazing.

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Brandon enjoying his 30th birthday at the Guinness Gravity Bar

Here are a few of my recommendations for this location:

  1. Try to arrive early. The view at night with all of the lights is really cool, but it can be very busy around dinner time and lunch times.
  2. Visit during the week if possible. You will fight less crowds and you will not feel like. you are in a cattle car moving from one place to another.
  3. Keep your free drink tickets for the Gravity Bar.
  4. Check out the smaller hidden bars in the front of the building on the way down. They are more or less empty and most people do not even know they are there. If you take the stairs you can find them near the bathrooms and stairwell exits on the top few floors.
  5. If you plan to eat at the Guinness Brewery, eat on the way back down. There is a large cafe on one of the top floors that has decent options. Keep in mind these can be over priced.
  6. Buy your tickets online so that when you get to the front desk you have everything in order, plus you can take the express line. You can buy tickets on the?Guinness?website.
  7. When you purchase tickets you can do a self guided tour, a tour with headphones, or you can take a guided tour. If you are really interested in how the beer is made, then I recommend the headsets. If you are just there for the Guinness and to enjoy the experience I don’t think the headsets are needed.
  8. Spend some time in the gift shop. It is HUGE and there are a lot of really cool things. My husband is a huge bicycle enthusiast, so he was able to get a Guinness biking jersey and pants so he can show off to his buddies and coworkers.
  9. Take your time, there are a lot of really cool things to see and do. There are a lot of interactive screens and you paid for the experience so you should make the most of it.
  10. Make sure you bring your FEXCO card with you if you are from outside the country. This will save you money and Guinness uses the card, if you do not have one yet, they will also set you up with one and explain how to use it. You just need to set up an account and log all of your receipts and you can claim everything at the airport before you leave. They will send you a check for your tax dollars spent.

If you are going to stop in Dublin for the day or even longer, you will need to make this one of your primary stops. Guinness has an amazing history of the city and you should definitely take the time to ask the employees about the history because there is SO much history there.

If you want to read more about our Ireland trips you can read an over view of it here, and I will have a more in-depth article on Carrick-A-Rede and Trinity College coming up, so stay tuned and subscribe so you get a notification when I post them. If you have visited Guinness and have any recommendations leave a comment below.

“They lived, they laughed, they loved, and left” -Finnegans Wake, 1938

I am a huge fan of Ireland and I have many reasons as to why. I’ve been there twice now, and have seen almost the entire island. We are planning to return in the next few years to explore Cork, Wexford, and Waterford and we will have seen every county. Before I knew how much Irish ancestry I had I was always enamored with the culture. The first time I visited Ireland I had no idea just how much history was in my DNA. Who’s to say this isn’t why I felt such a connection?

Ireland is made up of two countries, the north (Northern Ireland) consists of 6 counties and the south (the republic of Ireland) makes up the rest. Northern Ireland is still under British rule and so you will find a very big difference if you cross the border. The Northern currency is Sterling while the southern currency is Euros. The northern people have a distinct accent that is much more harsh and has somewhat of a Scottish influence. ?There is a lot of English influence in the food, cars, and just about everything else.

The Antrim coast and the Wild Atlantic Way are the most breathtakingly beautiful coastal drives you can take. If you plan on doing anything on your trip I absolutely recommend doing both. As of now, there is no firm border so you do not need to show your passport, but this could change at any moment with Brexit looming over head.

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

The countryside on the Antrim Coast is gorgeous, and I highly recommend going during the late March or early April to see all the lambs. They definitely stole the show on our most recent trip. Giant’s Causeway and BushMills distillery are also located on the Antrim Coast. They are relatively close to one another although not walking distance. If you are comfortable driving abroad then renting a car and hitting both places at once make the most sense. There are also a ton of tours offered from larger cities that will give you enough time at both. Along the Antrim Coast, Dunluce castle is also visible. While you may not be able to get to walk the grounds, there are some stunning shots you can get from the street. If you want more information on Giant’s Causeway you can check my blog post about it here.

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Cappuccino at Grove Road

The coffee and chocolate in Ireland (and the rest of Europe) is 100% better than the U.S. The coffee isn’t watered down, it is strong, and they do not use half and half or cream. They do have sweetener but you will need to pick it up from a grocery store because most restaurants do not carry it. You may get lucky and have a waiter who is carrying a dispenser in their pocket and will share with you. The chocolate is richer with much more taste. The food that we picked up for breakfast from the grocery store in Dublin was delicious and had way less sugar than it would have in the states. Speaking of food, Irish soda bread is the best thing I’ve ever had. I might just move to Ireland for the soda bread, chocolate, and coffee. ?If you know anything about me, you know that I am a avid coffee drinker, chocolate eater, and as long as I have those 2 things and bread, I am happy. So, take me to Ireland and leave me there forever, please.

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The LUAS

If you have never been to Europe before, it is very easy to get around if you stay in a city. The public transportation in Dublin is really great. With so many universities in the city there are many options for you to use so you don’t need to rent a car. The dart train will take you out of the city, the Luas will take you north to south, or east to west of Dublin, and the buses are EVERYWHERE. Download “Journey Plan” or “LUAS” apps on your phone to take full advantage of the public transportation. A 7 day pass for the Luas is €24, for students it is even cheaper. Be sure to carry this with you as well as a photo school ID if you are a student as operators can ask you to show your pass at any time. Both times that I have stayed in Dublin I was able to easily use the Luas to get almost anywhere. So I highly recommend buying a week pass, if you use it more than 3 times it pays for itself. Journey plan is great too because it will tell you the best routes to take, the departure times, arrival times, bus stops, Luas stops, and walking distance so you make it to your destination on time. Also, locals told us to try Henry Street for shopping, it is MUCH cheaper. Grafton street is the famous shopping district for tourists and it is adorable, but if you need to pick up a lot of things Henry Street will give you a much better deal.

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Kilmacduagh Monastery

If you do not feel comfortable driving, but you want to explore outside of the city you should take a look at travel websites like Viator (my personal favorite!) and Trip Advisor. We use Viator for all of our vacations because it is reliable and we haven’t had a single bad tour. All of the information is displayed for you, they will send you confirmation notifications via text, and are very easy to work with. There are day trips from Dublin City to almost anywhere touristy in Ireland. While some of them are excruciatingly long (14+ hours) they are worth it, the buses are comfortable, and the tour guides are animated, funny, and informative (most of the time). ?Be sure to read all of the reviews before booking a tour and do your research on the tour companies. You should also contact the company for more information on the tour before booking. I have found that in some cases they do not list everything on the travel site for the tour. Ask about food, the general itinerary, length of time on the bus, and length of time at each stop. Ask if you can bring food onto the bus and ask how frequent stops are where you can use a restroom. Some of the tours have very early pick ups and this means you may need to hit up a grocery store to grab food to eat before you get on the bus or while you are driving. I also keep dramamine in my bag incase I or my fellow travel buddies get motion sick.

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Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are absolutely stunning, but driving the Wild Atlantic Way is equally stunning. We started on our first day with seeing the cliffs and I did not think much could top them with the breathtaking views. The good thing about Ireland is that there are so many beautiful views that I don’t think any one spot can overshadow the others, but instead each place has a unique beauty you can’t see in anywhere else in the world. Stunning is an understatement and overwhelmingly beautiful does not do the vistas justice. The Antrim Coast and the Wild Atlantic Way both blew us away.

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The Burren

The Burren is a National Park in the Republic of Ireland where you can hike. The area is hard, rocky, and looks like dried mud, but it provides some beautiful areas. We made a quick stop along the coast and did not explore much, but the small area that we did see was gorgeous and we were able to get a few photographs before moving on. The area reminded me a lot of some of the hiking trails we came across while traveling in Maui and Kauai. It was equally as hard to walk on! Definitely bring comfortable shoes, already broken in, and lots of band-aids incase of blisters.

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Galway, River Corrib

We also visited Galway in our most recent trip and the town on the bay was beautiful. The Corrib River, Spanish Arch, and Galway Bay were some of our favorite things we saw. The street performers are great and the locals, piss drunk, and yelling “WHAT THE FECK ARE YOU LOOKING AT” and “FECK OFF” were a great way to start our day in Galway, hehe. Did I mention you will need a sense of humor? ?We loved Galway and will 100% be staying here the next time we travel to Ireland. There was so much character, beauty, and simplicity in the city that you just can’t ignore it. I’m already planning our next trip back.

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The Brazen Head

The oldest pub in Ireland, The Brazen Head is one of my favorite places to eat. The Irish stew is by far my favorite dish. It is located in Dublin and is definitely worth the wait if you can’t find a place to sit. On nice days you can enjoy yourself at the bar in the courtyard or sitting in the courtyard at a table. You can also find a seat inside one of the many rooms inside this tiny pub. Don’t let is fool you though, the food is amazing, the staff is great, and food comes out quite quickly. You won’t be disappointed.

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Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

Of all of the places we stopped Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge was my absolute favorite with the Titanic Museum coming in to a close second (I have always been weirdly obsessed with everything Titanic related since I was 6 years old). After about a mile walk of mildly difficult terrain you come to a rope bridge that dangles over the cliff side. It is a very windy, thrilling adventure to cross (by the way, you need to cross twice if you want to get home). We had so much fun and the scenery surrounding it is absolutely gorgeous. If you time it right you will not have to wait in a very long line, but if you do have to wait in line the views will keep you occupied so you do not get bored. I am saving our rope bridge story for another post so stayed tuned and subscribe for that story.

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Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge

There are tons of places to visit, distilleries and breweries to explore, and tiny pubs hidden all over the country of Ireland. ?Wherever you visit, whether it is Galway, Dublin, Kilkenny, Belfast or anywhere in between try to talk to locals. More often then not, they will give you advice, tell you a great story, or lend a helping hand (or maybe all three!). If you have a favorite place to visit in Ireland comment below so we can add it to our list for the next adventure.

Top 5 Countries to Visit for U.S. Passport Holders

The United States currently sits #5 on the list for most powerful passport, with 110 countries available to visit without a visa (for the full list click here). Singapore is #1 with 162 countries available to their citizens. Today, a lot of young adults are taking time after school or during school to travel abroad. Visa’s can be extremely pricey, so I have compiled a list of Top 5 countries that U.S. citizens can either obtain a visa VERY easily and cheap or don’t need one at all.

morocco

Morocco

Well known for it’s brightly colored mosaic buildings, mosques and markets, and home to Casablanca Morocco is a must see travel destination. For women, you may not want to solo travel to the region, and if you do travel with a group be sure to cover yourself and always carry a scarf. Although many tourists will walk around wearing whatever they want, you will be subjected to less stares and groping if you are covered from head to toe and stay respectful to the culture.

From the Sahara desert, Majorelle Garden, and the Hassan II Mosque, among many other beautiful must see places in this country everything seems picturesque. You will want to explore the Medina (the market), stay in a Riad (small home made into a hotel) and take in all of the things going on around you.

Nepal

Nepal

You will need a visa for Nepal, but it is one of about 50 countries that U.S. citizens can obtain easily and cheaper than other visas. If you plan to go outside the tourist season (October – December) you can save 50% of your money you would spend in peak tourist ?season. Nepal is home to Kathmandu and has some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere in the world. Travel to the north and see the Himalayas and the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. Every year people attempt to climb to the top and many times not everyone will make it back. However, you can plan to hike only to the base camp which is where it tends to get more dangerous.

Nepal is a great place for hikers. There are many guided and self guided hikes available in the country. One of the most famous hikes is called the Annapurna Circuit. The hike lasts 21 days and has some of the most amazing views of the Himalayas. Most hikers plan to only hike part of the trail as Annapurna is almost as dangerous and almost as challenging as Mount Everest.

If you aren’t a hiker, the food and spirit of the locals around you will be enough culture to make you want to return for more year after year.

Iceland

Iceland

Whether you are looking to go in the dead of winter for a chance at seeing the northern lights, go in the summer to hike in Reykjavik, or you just want to swim in a natural hot springs with turquoise blue Instagramable water; Iceland is perfect. Iceland has become a hot spot of Instagram models in the last year, and for good reason.

Iceland offers some of the most jaw dropping frozen waterfalls and hikes anywhere you have ever been. Winter or summer there is something for everyone. Flights from the U.S. are pretty affordable too. Flights can be as low as $500 per person depending on the time of year and price drops. If you are itching to get out of the U.S. and within a budget, this might be one of the most affordable options out there.

Japan

Japan

Unlike Youtube celeb Logan Paul, avoid the Suicide Forest and instead explore Mt. Fuji, Tokyo see the Cherry Blossom Festival in Hirosaki. Japan has millions of things to do that are nothing like what you could experience in the U.S. Go to the Tokyo robot restaurant where you will watch a Cabaret run by robots, girls dancing in colorful outfits and fun upbeat music. Make friends with the birds at an owl cafe or visit Mickey in Disneyland.

If you are into history, visit Hiroshima and experience the devastation first hand left over from WWII. There are a lot of beautiful canyons to hike and visit for the perfect Instagram photo.

Namibia

Namibia

One of the newest up and coming places to visit in the world is Namibia. Known for its sand dunes Namibia is becoming known as “Africa for Beginners”. The welcoming spirit of it’s people and the exotic (and delicious) food make this a great place for first time travelers to Africa.

Visit Etosha National Park in a Safari, where you can experience the wildlife up-close. Travel to Fish River Canyon where you can hike the trails for breathtaking views, or strip down in a hot spring. Namibia has so much and more to offer. If you are a foodie or someone with exotic taste, Namibia has lots of local game dishes to offer. Things like antelope, giraffe, and zebra are served at their restaurants.

 

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Check out wanderlust for information on your next travel destination. Trying to plan the trip of your dreams? Check out these budget tips.

 

Need stock photos for your blog? try Pexel?stock photos for free. They give credit to all of their photographers and link their photos to their Instagram so you can follow and give them the support and love they deserve.

Five Types of Suitcases You Absolutely Must Have

Different trips call for different luggage. Here are a few suitcases I own that I adore and how I decide which I will use:

  1. Duffel bag. An overnight bag is like a little black dress for travelers. Everyone should have at least one. I like to use a duffel bag for this, I have three different ones. The key is to find one that has enough storage space as well as pockets on the inside and out to fit everything you need and keep it organized. In addition you can also use a large back pack or oversized purse.
  2. 15″ rolling?under the seat luggage.?For longer weekend trips, whether you are driving somewhere nearby, or flying out on business, a small rolling suitcase that can fit under an airplane seat is my favorite thing in the world. It is slightly smaller than carry on bags and fits under all airplane seats. Brandon and I both have one for short trips back to NJ to visit our families. The suitcase is roomy enough to fit everything we need yet compact enough to fit on smaller commercial airlines.
  3. Standard carry-on rolling bag.?If you are like me and need to bring 3 pairs of shoes on every trip longer than 24 hours, the standard sized rolling bag is a great addition to your luggage collection. One reason I love this is because a standard sized commercial aircraft has room above your seat to store these. Modern technology has made me so lazy. I only fly on airlines I can check in from my phone so I can skip the lines at the gate. Very rarely do I ever check a bag. I hate standing in lines with people who don’t know how to navigate an airport or hardly ever fly. I am inpatient and love being able to get out of my car and walk directly to security so I can grab my Starbucks and relax once I get to the gate. ?I hate standing in baggage claim waiting for airport employees to unload the plane and get me my luggage. I’ve also seen one too many suitcases lost or contents stolen in airports. If I can keep my possessions with me at all times I am a happy gal.
  4. Large sized luggage. Buy a nice large luggage bag with a good lock, and don’t skip out on the toiletry bag. When I am going on longer vacations like when we were in Hawaii for 2 weeks, I like to bring a large enough suitcase that I have everything I would need for one week including shoes. You’ll have to check your bag, unless you are lucky enough to live near an airport with curbside check in. In addition, you will need to stand around and wait for your luggage to get off the plane and you’ll run the risk of items being stolen. As long as you are careful, have a good lock on your bag, and pack smart you should be alright. Finger crossed and let’s hope that everything makes it home with you! Luggage sets are nice because they are usually roomy are made well, and come in a matching set which makes it easier to spot on the conveyer belt.
  5. Laptop bag.?If you’re like me you’ll want to bring your laptop on the flight with you. I have a laptop bag in the form of a backpack which I found on Amazon. There is a ton of cushion so your laptop doesn’t get damaged and they are really nice and well made. I own the HFSX Vintage Laptop Backpack.?You can buy ones with built in phone chargers and a place to store your phone, keys, wallet, and passport. Plus, it will fit under your seat.

Geniuspack.com is my favorite place to shop for luggage. They have great luggage that makes travel easy and organizing natural. Their hard side carryon is amazing. You can also find packing tips and lots of travel related gear other than luggage. You can all of the above INCLUDING universal travel adapters which work in 150 different countries. Another great thing to do if you can invest is to buy a luggage set that includes all of the pieces above. You will save money in the long run and everything will match (if you have OCD like me than that’s really important). Don’t forget to comment below with links to your favorite pieces of luggage and why.

 

Happy travels!

50 Quotes to Fill Your Wanderlust

  1. “This gypsy heart just needs to wander. Wander to undiscovered mountains and caves that guard the mysteries of this world. I will upturn every stone, I will drive through the darkest seas, just to discover the secrets that were only meant for me” -Chrissie Pinney
  2. “Jobs will fill your pocket, adventures will fill your soul”
  3. “I have an insane calling to be where I’m not”
  4. “Escape and breathe the air of new places”
  5. “There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this”
  6. “I travel because I need to… because my wild, adventurous spirit can’t live according to the “norm.” I travel to regroup, to reinvent myself, to be the best me I can be, to find joy in the ordinary and peace in exploring. I travel to be.”
  7. “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”
  8. “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” – Jane Austen
  9. “Once the travel bug bits there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happy infected until the end of my life.” -Michael Palin
  10. “A mind stretched by new experience can never go back to it’s old dimensions”
  11. “But the world is calling, and I must go hear what it has to say”.
  12. “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” -Anita Desai
  13. “Travel sparks our imagination, feeds our curiosity and reminds us how much we all have in common.” – Deborah Lloyd
  14. “Because in the end you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” -Jack Kerouac
  15. “A person susceptible to wanderlust is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.” -Pico Iyer
  16. “Travel brings power and love back into your life.” -Rumi
  17. “If we were meant to stay in one place we would have roots instead of feet”
  18. “Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
  19. “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” -Susan Sontag
  20. “One travels to run away from routine. That dreadful routine that kills all imagination and all our capacity for enthusiasm.” -Ella Maillart
  21. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” -Lin Yutang
  22. “Travel, not to find yourself but to remember who you have been all along”
  23. “‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. You live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen non percent of.” -Louis C.K. “
  24. “The best education you will ever get is traveling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences.”
  25. “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on. the other side of the world” -Mary Anne Radmacher
  26. “Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”
  27. “Traveling makes one modest, you see the tiny space you occupy in the world. -Gustave Flaubert
  28. “I would gladly live out of a suitcase if it meant I could see the world.”
  29. “The world is too big to stay in one place, and life is too short to do just one thing.”
  30. “If happiness is the goal, and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.” -Richard Branson
  31. “Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.” -Timothy Ferriss
  32. “The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.” -Agnes Repplier
  33. “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all, the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” -Randy Komisar
  34. “My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.” Diane Arbus
  35. “Travel. Because money returns, time doesn’t.”
  36. “I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.”
  37. “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying “I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.” -Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
  38. “Life is meant for spectacular adventures. Let your feet wander, your eyes marvel, and your soul ignite.”
  39. “When one door closes pack your bags and go where there are no doors.”
  40. “Traveling; it gives you home in a thousand strange places, then leaves you a stranger in your own land. -Ibn Batutta
  41. “Please understand, I have been waiting to leave ever since I figured out that there were roads willing to take me anywhere I wanted to go.”
  42. “Live your life by a compass, not a clock.”
  43. “I travel not to cross countries off a list, but to ignite passionate affairs with destinations.”
  44. “Don’t be the person who is ‘too busy’ when you’re young and ‘too tired’ when you’re old”
  45. “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money ever will be.”
  46. “Take only memories, leave only footprints.”
  47. “Travel opens your heart, broadens your mind, and fills your life with stories to tell.” -Paula Bendfeldt
  48. “Cover the earth before it covers you.” -Dagobert D. Runes
  49. “If you think adventure is dangerous try routine; it’s lethal.” -Paulo Coleho
  50. “If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet.” – Patrick Rothfuss
3 Instagram famous locations in Chicago

Where To Next??!

Aside from the crazy depression I have been battling over the last 9 months, I have been giving away my time to everyone else around me as if it weren’t priceless. I actually think that a lot of my depression and anxiety comes from waring myself so thin. Writing is one of my favorite things to do. It helps me process my thoughts and feelings so they make sense and it relaxes me.

This year I devoted all of my PTO from work and my writing time (which I was scheduling weekly previously) to weddings and other people’s plans instead of my own. As much fun as all of that time I had with my friends and family was, I didn’t give myself any of that time. We all need a break once in a while. I started giving a lot of my time to my church, work, and buying/transforming our house into a home.

Now that life has settled down slightly I am happy to say that I am finally making time for my writing, and I feel inspired in a way that I wasn’t previously. I have new ideas, bigger plans, and a more calculated approach to my blog. We have a few trips in the works for the next 5 months and I can’t wait to share it with you all! Stay tuned!

I Deleted My Facebook For 7 Days

Ok, so I am definitely straying a bit from my brand with this, BUT I think it is somewhat connected to this suddenly popular travel/nomad lifestyle. Every single person with a social media account should be able to relate.

Welcome to the 21st century! It has become completely normal to have everything including your dirty laundry hung out to dry on the internet. What would be absolutely terrifying to someone in 1901, is now the social norm. In fact, people who aren’t using social media are laughed at, and seldom taken seriously.

I tried something. I deleted my Facebook for 7 days. That’s nothing, I know, but I realized how much of our lives depend on social media now. ?Here is what I discovered:

  1. The most common source of all news is Facebook.
  2. A HUGE amount of human interaction nowadays takes place on Facebook.
  3. I had less anxiety and depression and it actually cured a lot of my insecurities for the 7 days I disconnected.
  4. People are more likely to look at their phone than have a conversation with someone sitting across the table, or on the other side of the couch.
  5. Being without social media is lonely.

I was back on Facebook the second my week was over. I of course have some excuses as to why, BUT really none of that matters. One of the things I noticed more than anything was that I felt extremely lonely. I realized that I have isolated myself and my friendships are superficial, because it’s only through a screen. I realized Brandon and I spend more time on our phones looking at a newsfeed than we do talking to each other, doing things together, or just interacting at all.

It’s a catch-22 though. I feel less alone on my social media accounts, but the second all of that is taken away I realize how alone I really am. Everything revolves around taking the best photo to post on Instagram or Facebook. Downloading the newest apps like boomerang, or Tik-Tok to just keep up with everyone else, but is keeping up with everyone else really helping?

Travel blogs and other travel accounts are always so inspirational, and I get how hypocritical this is coming from someone who writes about travel themselves, but it’s also seriously depressing. A lot of people don’t know how to save money traveling and can’t afford to travel due to personal circumstances, and I think that is awful. Everyone should be able to travel. Don’t even get me started on the price of plane tickets, because it’s a rip off.

As a healthcare worker I have noticed 3 things in my short time working in a primary care clinic. Depression is an epidemic. Whether it is related to social media or not, the majority of the population feels inadequate and terrible about themselves and their lives. I can’t help but feel that addiction to social media plays at least a small part in this. Two years ago we were not screening for suicide unless a patient came in for depression or mentioned it during a visit. Today, more and more clinics are starting to screen at every single visit, and you know what? More and more people are being diagnosed with crippling depression and many people have SI (suicidal ideations).

Taking a break from my Facebook account even though it was only for a week, opened my eyes and showed me that there is so much more than just flexing about your life on social media or playing into everyone else doing the same. The truth is, what people post is a very small part of their lives and many people are hiding their sadness behind selfies of themselves and photos of them out partying with friends every night.

This experiment was very personal to me. I have been struggling with my own depression related to my self image as well as some other personal health struggles. I disassociate myself from my friends, my family and my husband frequently. Depression is very real for me and social media is a huge trigger. Seeing everyone else posting happy, perfect family photographs is hard to swallow. There are nights I don’t sleep and days I sleep for over 18 hours. There are days I go without eating and days I eat everything in sight. There are weeks I feel like I can take on the world and weeks I feel like a zombie just going through the motions with no feeling.

Deleting Facebook helped me regroup, rethink my future and look at things in a more positive light. Deleting Facebook for 7 days in no way cured my depression, but it made me feel like there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I want to urge everyone to deactivate your Facebook occasionally, even if only for a day here and there. If you don’t want to deactivate you can always delete it off your phone for a while and just spend time with the people around you. Go out on a date with your spouse, go on a cell phone free vacation, go out and see a national or state park, enjoy the outdoors, and find some light in your life that doesn’t come from your cell phone or computer screen. Whatever your insecurities are, whatever triggers your depression or anxiety, taking a break from social media can help you refocus your attention on what matters. Of course, there is also a lot of GOOD that social media has brought and I’m not saying it’s all bad, but there is also definitely nothing wrong with taking a break a few times a year to ensure your sanity. Especially if you are being constantly triggered by everything around you.

If you do not feel safe, or are in a bad place and need help,
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Click here to donate and help end the fight for life: AFSP.org?
Click here to better understand depression: Helpguide.org

Sunny With a Chance of Tornado?

In June, one of my best friends had her bachelorette party in Nashville, TN during CMA Fest. Being that the drive to Nashville from my home in Wisconsin is only about 9 hours I thought it would be fun to road trip down to meet everyone at the airport. Our families are close, and most of the mothers of the girls invited also joined us. My mom insisted on driving with me. Since she lives in south jersey, she wanted to spend some quality-time, so we took the road trip together.

The 9 hour drive down to Nashville I did entirely myself. I love my mom but she isn’t the best copilot. By the time we made it to Nashville I was exhausted from working all day and then getting in a car and leaving for Music City.

I like to travel solo or with my husband because I feel that traveling brings a lot of reflection and I like my mind to be quiet to take in whatever is around me. Being in a car or plane can be boring, but I also find it peaceful and gives me a chance to reset and relax. My mom likes to talk. A lot.

For the first 3 hours I am convinced that my mom didn’t stop talking. I made the mistake of stopping at a McDonalds on the way down somewhere in Illinois and introduced my mom to a sugar free vanilla latte. 1. I’m not sure how my mom thought that this drink was so ground breaking and different from every other skinny vanilla latte she ever bought from Starbucks. 2. My mom literally did not know how to order it and I’m not really sure what she thought it was.

Side note: this made her talk even more. even faster. and even louder.

Either way it kept me awake, so after 6 hours of music and my mom talking about I don’t even know what she started to fall asleep and I finally got some quiet time.

The rest of the weekend is basically a blur. I was severely sleep deprived and inebriated at other times. This was definitely not a Tour of Nashville which I have done some in the past and will definitely write another post about it. However, I saw the insides of a lot of bars. Broadway is full of bars owned by country music stars like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, John Rich, and more. There’s a Honky Tonk bar that is 3 (or 4?) stories tall where we watched 2 dudes rip their shirts off, fist fight and then get thrown out by security. There’s a mechanical bull, a million rooftop bars, and during CMA Fest there are also a million people.

BUT, I am going to talk about all that another time. For the sake of this post, I want to focus on the road trip back from Nashville to Wisconsin.

On the morning of our drive home it was raining, I was hungover from day drinking for 7 hours the day before, and we had a severe thunderstorm warning. This didn’t phase me. Thunderstorms and severe weather are common in the midwest. We got in our car at 6am and started driving because I was hell bent on getting back to Wisconsin by dinner. We of course had to stop at McDonalds on the way out of town for my mom’s 697th* sugar free vanilla latte of the weekend. (*information was grossly exaggerated).

About 6 miles in we got a severe weather warning followed by a tornado watch. We continued our drive and finally got out of Tennessee and into Kentucky where we ended up stopping at a gas station and KFC to use the bathroom and fill up our tank. “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin came on the radio in the KFC bathroom as I was washing my hands and realized we were still in Kentucky in the Bible Belt. That place is a whole other world.

Exhausted, hungry but craving healthy food, and a little cranky we continued on. So naturally for the next 5 hours we argued about literally nothing in the car, because what else would you expect after a bachelorette 5 day weekend bender with your mom?

The following transpired very quickly and within 10 mins:

The skies opened up and it was a complete downpour. We started talking about how I wanted to be a storm chaser as a kid because I was always fascinated with tornados and I would write school reports on them constantly, but NJ has like 1 tornado per decade so it wasn’t really a good choice. I literally said, “it would be cool to see a tornado today”. Both our phones started to go off, it was a warning for severe thunderstorm which we could see (OBVIOUSLY ?Weather Channel, are you even predicting or are you just telling me what is already happening?).

Somehow we started arguing about me wanting her to drive or about how I thought she couldn’t drive well because she can’t see very good, I don’t even know. I do remember getting really worked up and pissed off and we were yelling.

Our phone alarms went off again. I asked my mom to look and see what the warning was. She looked up at me and said “Tornado.” I had her read me the information on where it was because I literally could not see 5 feet in front of me the wind and rain was so awful. She mentioned the highway we were on and the mile markers. We were smack dab in the middle of it’s path. I didn’t want to stay there because there was not shelter and we were in the middle nowhere in southern Illinois surrounded by corn fields. I saw an overpass up ahead and pulled over underneath of it so we could at least see. This rain wrapped fucker of a tornado passed right by us as we sat confused and a little scared under an overpass wondering what we should do.

We called Brandon, my sister, and father almost immediately and none of them seemed to care very much except Brandon who likes storms and tornados as much as I do.

This experience left me with three very important pieces of advice for everyone who takes road trips.

  1. Pay attention to warnings on your phone or the radio when you are road tripping.
  2. Life is short, and one minute you are sipping a sugar free vanilla latte with your mom arguing loudly with each other, and the next your heart is pounding and you are yards away from a tornado.
  3. NEVER say the words “It would be cool to see a tornado today”

This whole experience got me thinking, sometimes my iPhone doesn’t work well without WiFi, what if I hadn’t pulled over because I didn’t know there was a tornado warning? What if I had been listening to my iPod instead of the radio AND my phone notifications didn’t come through? A million scenarios have played in my mind, but luckily everything worked out.

I think it just goes to show, you can never expect a normal anything, including a normal drive home.