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7.24.2017

7 SURE WAYS TO GET YOUR LIFE BACK


Get off the hamster wheel in life and get your life back_Prioritize your life

For a good while now, there seems to be one common thread woven through conversations with my girlfriends and it's this: 'they feel burdened down by their exhaustive daily schedules.' And I know they’re not alone, as I'm sure the majority of us ordinary people are all busy trying to squeeze in too many tasks on our way too-long to-do lists, only to be left feeling frazzled, and frustrated at everything left undone. In an attempt to help myself and hopefully someone else who might be feeling the same way, I thought it would be a great idea to make a breakdown of seven sure ways that can help get your life back. And since the older I get, the more precious my time and energy are to me, I no longer want to simply go through the rest of my years constantly feeling burned out, stuck or stagnated. Hence, it's time to get back to the basics by reworking priorities, and reassessing basic habits in order to stop being on the hamster wheel of life and turn it to feeling energized, purposeful, rested, healthy, and excited about life again. Who’s with me!? Instead of feeling perpetually overwhelmed and exhausted, how about implementing the following seven life-changing ways to get your life back: 

1. Streamline your life and cut clutter. Rather than suffocating yourself with unnecessary responsibilities trying to do too many things in one day, or spending precious hours on time wasting pursuits, focus the energy and time on the things that matter most. Think: enjoying real quality time with your family/spouses, and good friends, taking time to nurture your mind and body by getting out and walking through nature, getting good sleep, concentrating on doing what you love (like reading a good book in a park, taking a bubble bath while enjoying your favorite decompressing tunes), and most importantly, building a strong relationship with God, which at the end of the day, is the only thing that is everlasting.

2. Live with intention. It's one of those phrases that’s been circling around a lot, but yet, so true! If you do not want to waste your precious time on frivolous things and miss out on the most important things in life (see #1), ruthless decluttering from the unfulfilling, non-essential things that aren't important to us or feeding our souls, is a must. Of course, that varies from person to person. You'd have to figure out what those important things are to you. For me, it means no longer saying yes to an invite to spending time/associating with people who will leave me feeling deflated just for the sake of being kind or spending too much time online. 

3. Create a Personal Priorities List. At the beginning of every new year, I always make a list of a minimum of six most important personal priorities depending on the season of life I'm in that I use as a foundation to build my schedule around the course of the year. Granted, I sometimes get distracted and get off track a bit, but as soon as I start feeling drained, unfocused and unsatisfied with my days/life, I revisit that list to get refocused on the goals I'm working on. But if you're not sure how to draw up that list, asking yourself questions like: 'What is most important to me? Work? Family? Health? Traveling? Community? Others? At the end of my life, what do I want to look back on with satisfaction? What is going to matter most to me?', can give you a great starting point to figuring out what to put on your list. 

4. Clear the Schedule Clutter. A good way to do this, is by asking yourself: are my priorities reflected in the "busyness"? In a world of "hustlers" today, many times busyness is mistakenly equated with productivity. It's a deluded way of feeling important. But realistically rushing through our days from one commitment to the next without having even a moment to meditate on the most important things in life, doesn't necessarily mean that we're doing anything worthwhile. Therefore, it's a must we take time to regularly clear out the non-essential commitments. Routinely examining one's schedule not only helps to keep control of it, but that's how you determine whether the commitments on our schedules rejuvenate and energize, or drain and exhaust us. 

5. Don’t Put Things Off. At times, there’s something we need to do, but we put it off because we find it unpleasant. The more we procrastinate, the more cluttered our minds get and greater the burden we feel for not accomplishing that task. Conversely, instead of floundering aimlessly, live life with purpose. Give priority to the most important things first, before adding other tasks to your schedule. This way, if you don’t get to everything on your list, there’ll be a sense of accomplishing what matters most – getting you closer to a more purposefully fulfilling life. Are you putting off an unpleasant assignment? Well, take care of it now, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

6. Be Realistic. It can be tempting to try to change everything in your life immediately. Don’t! You may find there are moments where we suddenly get this emotional surge and tell ourselves, ‘This week I’m going to clean out my closet, organize the garage, pantry, linen closet, start exercising, start eating better.’ Then at the end of the week we find ourselves even in a worse rut than before, because now we’ve got this sense of defeat, due to the fact that we bit off more than we could chew, leaving us completely unmotivated. When one tries to reach a bunch of goals all at once - it sure is a way to reach none of them! So rather than trying to do everything at once, being realistic helps one to tackle each goal gradually in increments.

7. Start Small. Do all you can today and add on to that every day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t ever take the first step. The guaranteed formula to transforming oneself into a disciplined person, is time, consistence, persistence and not giving up. Also, remembering that failure isn’t fatal. Setbacks are to be expected, but can be beat with determination and perseverance as you work toward the goal of getting your life back.

I understand these suggestions might not work for everyone, since each of us is unique with different life circumstances. However, I hope this post inspires action to achieving slow and steady changes that will result in a positive transformation over time.


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Happy Monday!


7.19.2017

SUMMER 2017 FOURTEEN DAY ALASKAN CRUISE


summer2017-14day-hollandamerica-cruiseline-alaskan-cruise-alaska-glaciers


Happy hump day everyone! Hope everyone is having a nice week so far. To be honest, I’ve been on such a post-travel slump, it’s making catching up on work I’ve fallen behind on pretty difficult around here. On top of it, the heatwave isn’t helping this not-so-hot-sun-loving gal at all, as it’s sapping my energy! You know how people get winter blues? I get summer blues. That’s precisely why we embarked on a two week cruise to Alaska, instead of going on your typical summer Caribbean destination this time of year.

As perpetual travelers, Alaska was one of the last vacation destinations on our bucket list, but as we were planning on places to go that’s much cooler in the summer, Alaska was suggested to us. We quickly considered the option and got intrigued by Holland America ms Amsterdam’s Alaskan itinerary, embarking out of Seattle, Washington. As I’ve said before, the hubby and I think cruising really is the best way to vacation. It’s like a tapas experience - you get to taste a little bit of so many different places, giving you the opportunity to discover and explore cities/countries that capture your heart the most and would definitely be worth going back to spend more time exploring.

Cruise vacations for us these days are really to decompress and chill out, meaning that unlike previous years where we would run ourselves ragged at every port, we are now much more selective in our excursion choices. And today for this post, I’m sharing the highlights of the ports we checked out each day, including the two that were my/our favorites.

Tracy Arm Fjords
The beauty of being on a much smaller ship as HAL ms Amsterdam, not only meant higher quality of service, but it also gave it the leverage to go through glacier inlets that much bigger ships cannot. As in the case of this moment, experiencing the captain’s skilled expertise, slowly gliding the ship through the icy waters of one of its first glacier inlets: Tracy Arm – home to Sawyer Glacier, cascading waterfalls, and cobalt-blue icebergs with adorable seals chilling on pieces of icebergs. We were completely awestruck.

Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line

Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line
Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line
Tracy Arm Fjords Glacier with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line
Juneau
We took Mount Roberts Tramway that takes you up 1,800 feet to the most scenic birds-eye views of the area. Once you reach the Mountain House at the top, there are trails that begin in a sub-alpine where you can climb another 300 feet into the true alpine surrounded by snow-capped mountains. A length of one-half mile and an elevation gain of just 150ft, the main trail will take you to open vistas, mountain valleys, snow gullies, rocky ridges, sighting of white mountain goats and stunning views of mountains in Glacier Bay, British Columbia.

Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska

Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska_birdseye views
Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska_birdseye views

Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway_Juneau, Alaska_birdseye views

Hubbard Glacier
Is for sure a gigantic beauty off the coast of Yakutat, 200 miles NW of Juneau. It is more than six miles wide where it meets the ocean and most of that ice is below water. Floating through the icy water channel, the ship inching towards this impregnably blueish iceberg of what appears to be an island of ice at the foot of snow-capped mountains in the foreground, is just awe-inspiring. One of the highlights was watching pieces of the glacier crashing down into the water. The sound of that can best be described as a mixture of canon balls and roaring thunder together. This is a must see in person experience for sure.

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Holland America ms Amsterdam Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Icy Strait Point
If you’re into nature, walking through the vast spectacular forest (which isn’t very long) is a must. For me, walking through the wilderness on that cloudy, misty morning enhanced its beauty and made the scenery even more peaceful.

Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line


Icy Strait Point_with Holland America ms Amsterdam Cruise Line

Anchorage
We rode the nine hour round trip glacier discovery train through scenic stretches of Alaska, winding along the alpine meadows of Grandview and Placer River as it slowly traveled through impressive mountain tunnels. On this train ride, you get to appreciate the great views of Spencer Glacier, Spencer Lake, and the wilderness of the Chugach National Forest while making brief stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers at the resort town of Girdwood, Portage and Whittier.

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Anchorage-Grandview Glacier Discovery_Holland America Line Cruise

Tip: If you’re set on seeing wildlife, I’d highly suggest getting off in Portage to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center or do a different excursion altogether, as you will NOT see any wildlife while riding the train as promised.

Homer/Kodiak
Given that it was a gloomy, drizzly day at these ports, we opted to chill out on the ship instead. I even took one of their many workshops and of course, enjoyed classic afternoon tea, watched movies and relished in happy hour in our favorite lounges.

Sitka
Formerly ‘New Archangel’ under Russian rule, is one of the most charming towns to walk around. Though it was yet again another drizzly day, we took a bus ride into town and strolled this quaint little town in light jackets, casually making our way up to Castle Hill – a former site of Baranof’s Castle that offers beautiful views of Sitka from the top. Spotted some eagles atop the trees out in the distance. Such a lovely day this was.
Sitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise LineSitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise Line_Castle HillSitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise Line_Castle HillSitka Alaska_Holland America Cruise Line_Castle Hill
Unfortunately, when the ship docked at Ketchikan, Homer and Kodiak, it was rainy, foggy, damp and cold. On those days, we took in the sights from the various decks of the ship, caught up on reading at one of the lounges, enjoyed playing some scrabble in the ship’s library and got to have spa time. The serenity of plain relaxing was also our best pastimes.

I know I said I was going to share the two cities that were my/our favorites, but it’s really three: Juneau, Sitka, and stay peeled for the recap of my third favorite city. For the hubby Juneau made his favorite list, for he especially enjoyed the scenic hike through the wilderness and snow-capped mountains. 


To see more travel posts, click here.



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7.12.2017

THE FEEL GOOD DRESS BY VINCE CAMUTO


Vince Camuto Scuba Dress_Aldo Clutch_AnnTaylor_Loft_Sunglasses

Before we left for our recent vacation, the hubby and I spent a week in Long Beach where we snapped these photos and the temps were more my speed - 60s to low 70s. Just could not resist the mural that matched so perfectly with my bag and shoes. I've had this scuba dress several years now and it's truly one of the most feel good dresses by Vince Camuto in my closet hands down. The scuba material with its fitted bodice, the beautiful A-line silhouette giving it a wonderful drape, makes this dress incredibly comfortable, and an altogether super flattering outfit for date night! Also, not to be overlooked are the hidden pockets in the pleats which had me at hello. Plus, it holds its shape without wrinkling no matter how you crumple it - ranking it the perfect travel dress in my book. It's surely the ideal wardrobe item for day-to-night dressing. Since this exact dress is sold out, I've scoured similar available options that are currently on major sale right now, which I've linked to here under the shop tab and below the post.

Vince Camuto Scuba Dress_Aldo Clutch_AnnTaylor_Loft_Sunglasses

Vince Camuto Scuba Dress_Aldo Clutch_AnnTaylor_Loft_Sunglasses

Vince Camuto Scuba Dress_Aldo Clutch_AnnTaylor_Loft_Sunglasses

I honestly feel I should be an ambassador for Vince Camuto, as I love everything about the brand. It's one of the rare brands I know that I'm guaranteed whatever I buy will fit/feel well, and I'll be happy with.


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7.10.2017

SUMMER ON THE HIGH SEAS WITH HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE LINE


Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Alaska-Icy Strait Port

The hubby and I just got back from our Alaskan cruise, Victoria Island and Seattle vacation on Thursday at the crack of 4am. Despite our crazy flight back, this vacation was one of our all-time favorites and the most relaxing.

We have such crazy schedules where most of our waking hours always seem to inevitably be booked up. When we finally get to treat ourselves to any getaway, our goal is always just to chill out, make time for ourselves and slow down so that for the most part we won’t have to lift a finger to do much. For that reason, going on a cruise for us is one of the best vacations money can buy without spending too much time being riddled with frustration on actual travel getting to places while hauling luggage around. To us, it’s comparable to doing an all-inclusive vacation, except even better - for the simple fact you wake up each day in a new and exciting city to explore as your heart desires! Furthermore, the excitement of the anticipated itineraries received daily about different events going on aboard the ship while at sea make it that much more thrilling.

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Icy Strait Port

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam
Not to mention, we find sailing the high seas on a grand vessel leisurely taking you to these remarkably spectacular destinations to be one of the most romantic, and perfect ways to disconnect. But choosing the right cruise line, even more specifically, the right ship within the fleet, is key to assuring an unforgettable getaway experience of a lifetime. For us, that means excellent service, sunset views unmarred by crowds on a deck, quiet culinary chef wine pairing dinner experiences for two without the noise of whiny kids, cozy lounge spots free of an uncouth populace, great on board shows, and of course an unforgettable voyage itinerary. We thought what better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than on the ocean with Holland America Line ms Amsterdam this time around. Thus far, out of all the cruises we’ve taken, Holland America cruise line has hit the mark.
Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam
Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Welcome aboard Goodies

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam
Opportunities abound to indulge your every sense, from starting your day having a well-presented delicious breakfast served to you in the dining room surrounded by scenic ocean views (or in your room if that’s your preference), to catching up on reading at one of the elegantly decorated lounges and/or cozy nooks throughout the ship, to doing absolutely nothing besides sipping on a favorite bevvy at one of their moody bars as you enjoy the songs of the piano man. In the mood to watch a movie? Rent one from their list of over 1000 movies or catch one in the movie theater on board. Or delight in what became one of my favorite rituals: 'classic afternoon tea'! But if a moment of pampering at the spa is a more palatable option for you, then there’s a full list of services awaiting for you to indulge in. Honestly, you can do as little to doing everything you love - limited only by your personal desire and preference.

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Afternoon Tea

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_happy hour

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Pinnacle Grill Restaurant


Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam


Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Pinnacle Grill Restaurant

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Gala Night_Pinnacle Grill Restaurant

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam


Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam


Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Pinnacle Grill Restaurant_Cellar Master's Dinner

Whether you are looking to refresh body and mind, reflect, rekindle romance with your beloved, an adventure on the high seas, or a culture-enriching experience for your next vacation - a cruise with Holland America (if you haven’t sailed with them already) is a must. We especially loved and appreciated the friendliness of the staff. Their smiles and friendliness were real, not feigned like we’ve experienced on other ships. It’s a cruise line that offers something for everyone and the exceptional service by their attentive staff, is outstanding!  

Alaska Cruise_with_Holland America Line_ms_Amsterdam_Theater Night Show

P.S. Stay tuned for my upcoming Alaskan cruise highlights of each city, including the two that were my favorites.