5 Tips For Your First Year in a Long Distance Relationship

5 Tips For Your First Year in a Long Distance Relationship

Being apart from your sweetheart can be lonely and frustrating. Whether it's for a few days, a week, a month, or a long distance relationship - any time is too long! I know how it feels to be separated from your spouse and I want to help all of our long distance couples stay strong, happy, and healthy. If you’re considering entering a long distance relationship, or find yourself in one, here are 5 tips for getting through the first year.

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Ask Olivia: My Mother is The Reason I Have a Food Addiction

Hello lovley,

I haven’t done an Ask Olivia session in forever and I’m so sorry about that. I love when you guys send in your questions and seek advice. Lately I’ve responded on a one-on-one basis, but when I got this request, I had to share:

Hey Olivia,

My mum and I have never gotten along. She would get mad at me for nothing and always told me she hates me. She never says thank you, doesn't appreciate anything I do and won’t even give me keys to the house. She breathes down my neck all day and says hurtful things like I'm stupid and fat. She insists I’ve gained 20 lbs. when I’ve actually lost 20 lbs. and still continue to exercise. The worst part is, she now has dementia. Despite all of this, I still have respect for her, and do everything she asks of me. But when she gets on me about my weight, I start to stress eat and pick up unhealthy food to eat. Food has become a source of comfort, but I can’t let it or her destroy me. What should I do?

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Dear Reader,

I'm really sorry your mother treats you like this, but I’m also very proud of the way you manage to maintain respect for her. That is not an easy thing to do and says a lot about your character. I know its hard to be polite in the face of such disrespect, but given that she is your mother, whom you live with, limiting your interactions with her doesn’t sound like much of an option. However, I would suggest if moving out isn’t an option right now, arrange your daily schedule in such a way that you create boundaries between the two of you (ex: Getting up at a time you wouldn’t have to talk to her, finding activities that keep you away from the house etc.)If your interactions with her are the reason, you’re overeating, then your interactions with her and food have to change. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that eating too much in one sitting or taking in too many calories throughout the day are common habits that can be hard to break. There may even be moments you enjoy being around her, that draw you into communication, but it turns south and then you’re turning to food.

From a psychological point of view, the reason food feels like a source of comfort is because many highly processed foods trigger the reward centres in the brain. People begin eating these foods because they release endorphins and “feel good” neurotransmitters, which can temporarily relieve emotional distress. But no amount of temporary relief can compensate for the life long damage you're causing.

Meal planning is optimal to help you gain control of your overall food intake. Meal planning also involves keeping healthy snacks around for those binge moments. Too much of even a good thing is bad, but it’s still better to keep healthy options around that won't set you back too far.

Lastly try emphasising stress management techniques such as meditation, walking, or talking to a friend or therapist to help you deal with the underlying issues promoting stress. As 'long as you allow your mother's words to hurt you, that will constantly play in the back of your mind (subconscious) and drive you to seek comfort in the unhealthy behavior. You can’t change the person, only how you react to them. This is where its important to build new healthy habits, or strengthen those you already do.

I hope this advice has been helpful. If you or anyone else you know is struggling with an addiction , do not hesitate to get help. Check out some resources below:

Food Addiction | Signs, Symptoms, Depression & Statistics

Do I Have A Food Addiction? | Psychology Today

11 Grown-Ass Strategies For Handling Your Mom If She's Toxic - Bustle

Surviving the Toxic Parent | Psychology Today

If you would like to ask a question, shoot me a message in the form below. Just put Ask Olivia in the subject:

Name *
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What You Should Know Before Taking a Cruise

Hello Lovely,

I just got back from my summer vacation and I’ve got to say, IT…WAS…A…BLAST!!! I took my second cruise on Carnival (my first cruise was 2001, and also on Carnival). While it wasn’t my original plan to spend my summer trapped on a boat with my family, the fact that my dad was getting married kind of made it a priority, regardless. We boarded the Carnival Glory on Saturday 7th July, 2018. The first part of the trip was a little stressful because we were supposed to do an online check in, but no one told me that we were supposed to do an online check in until the night before. But the moment I walked up and saw the Carnival Glory (in all its glory) I was overwhelmed in awe. Luckily it wasn’t too much of a hassle for me to get checked in at the ship. When I realised how many things were limited, prohibited or simply not included, I just knew that I had to write this guide to help anyone considering a cruise vacation. Keep in mind, ships may have different regulations or the small stuff, but in general, they all follow the same guidelines.

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1.      Wi-Fi is not included

I was pissed to find out that for the S1100 I had invested, it did not include Wi-Fi. To make it worse, there were different internet packages for different services just to force you to spend more money. The most basic was the social media package (access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram etc.) for $4 per day. That came out to $28 for me for the entire trip. If you wait until you're onboard, it's $5 per day. The Value Wi-Fi plan adds access to email, airline sites as well as news, entertainment (not including streaming sites), sports, weather, banking and finance. Pre-Cruise price: $10.25 USD per day | Onboard price: $12.00 USD per day | Onboard price for 24 hour plan: $16.00 USD.
Then there's the Premium Wi-Fi plan which truthfully provides nothing worth paying for as you still can't stream Netflix, Hulu or, well anything. This plan just boasts having the fastest internet speed. Pre-Cruise price: $14.88 USD per day | Onboard price: $17.70 USD per day | Onboard price for 24 hour plan: $25.00 USD.
 

2.      Online check in is preferred

U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires Carnival Cruise Line to submit a final departure manifest with specific guest information at least 60 minutes prior to departure. This allows you to print out your boarding pass and luggage tags in advance. Don't feel bad if you don't get a chance to do it, as the site wouldn't allow me to complete my online check in the day before. I was still able to check it on the ship, it'll just take a little longer (like 10 minutes).

3.      No plastic bottled beverages are allowed

Carnival’s  Liquor and Beverage Policy states that guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles. This also includes juices. But if it's in a can, you can bring it on board. You'll meet two litre-sized bottles of water in your room on embarkation day but they costs $4 each. A complimentary bottle of water will be delivered to your stateroom on embarkation day. Bottled water may also be purchased onboard by contacting Room Service (gratuity fees apply).

4.      That means you can’t bring your own alcohol

The ship has bars all over so it makes sense they wouldn't want you bringing on your own alcohol, which would cut into your profits. But there are ways you can sneak them on, like in travel sized clear bottles (you know the stuff you put your shampoo and what not in), or even in the Listerine bottle. Shh! Don't tell anyone I told you that.

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5.      If you’re not a US citizen, you need a US Visa

Because I'm Bahamian to go anywhere in the US, I need a US Visa. And because a lot of the ports were US territories, my US Visa was definitely a necessity. I'll never forget travelling to London last summer and thinking everything was fine, until I got stopped at the airport check in because I needed a Canadian ETA just to connect through Canada. Guests should check with their travel agent and/or government authority to determine the travel documents necessary for each port of call.

6.      Luggage restrictions

This one isn't so bad and it's pretty much just like flying. Each checked suit case and carry-on suit case should not weigh more than 50 pounds, and when lying flat, bags must not exceed 16 inches high by 24 inches wide (the length of the bag is not a factor). For security screening purposes, all luggage should be unlocked. Oversized luggage and locked luggage may cause delivery delays. The common sense thing here is to pack sensibly, so limit your luggage to a maximum of one bag per person, if traveling on cruises of 3-5 days duration, and no more than two bags per person, for cruises of 6 days or longer.

7.      The rooms are really small

You know how hotel rooms are usually tiny? Well subtract about 20 square feet and that’s the cabins on a cruise. It’s not small enough to trigger claustrophobia (unless you have it bad) but don’t expect a grand space. The bathrooms are tiny and there are only five drawers, only two of which can actually hold clothing. There are three closets, but the hangers aren’t the best if you have the type of clothing that easily slides off the hanger.

8.      Bring a drop cord, not a surge protector

I am not kidding, there is literally one outlet in the entire cabin. ONE!!! And the way it's set up, it's at the desk so an outlet won't fit in the socket, only a drop cord. So if you have a cabin of three, it's going to be hell for the three of you to charge all of your electronic devices. However, we were told that surge protectors are not prohibited so make sure your drop cord is not a surge protector.

9.  Beware of hidden charges

On the last day, we were all shocked to find out that our accounts had been charged $90.65 for “Gratuity”. I was grateful that I didn’t attach any of my cards to my account so technically my account was in the red, and I had to pay it back. Other hidden fees include having to buy soda and juice from the bar as it’s not available from the free beverage dispensaries, having to pay for photos that are taken of you from the photo gallery, and a few restaurants and coffee shop that are not free.

10. Pre-booked shore excursions sometimes cost more

How many of you like to pre-book your activities before you get to your destination to save time and money? I know I preached this with my trip to London, but guys, after this recent experience, I have learned that does not apply to everything. When we got to Amber Cove, DR we were surprised to see the ziplining that was advertised as $75 per person, was only $20 per person at port and came with unlimited use. Had we actually booked it, I would've immediately demanded a refund! Then a guy for the waterfall excursion told me it was $110 to go to the waterfall. There was no way I was paying that much! When we got a taxi for $20 per person and the driver said he would take us to the waterfall, imagine our disbelief to see it only costs $10 per person. That is a HUUUUUUUUUGE difference! So please be careful when book shore excursions in advance. In fact, you're probably better off just doing a tour.

11. There is ALWAYS something to do

I looked forward to reading the itinerary every night for the next day so that I could know what to expect. On the last night we had a Mardi Gras party, which was full of energy and live music that simply brought the ship alive! The waiters would put on a show at dinner time that was really adorable. We had a Motown show, 80s and 90s music trivia, trivia games, raffles every day for art work and jewellery and even free fitness classes in the gym. There are several opportunities to score free booze with free rum tastings, and free champagne at the raffle events.

12. The pools suck

I've never seen people go to a pool to literally just stand in it! There are two actual pools and everything else is a whirlpool so that was disappointing. Then the pools deepest part is only 4'7". But let's be realistic, it's a giant floating hotel so naturally you can't have massive pools; and the way lawsuits go, the pools couldn't be too deep. Lastly, the pools are almost never free so don't expect to go swimming. Just stand up in your swimmy with your drink and take a few photos.

What To Do When You Miss Your Ex

Hello Lovely,

Summer is coming and with that a lot of flings, break ups and regret. If you're like me, you're heading into summer single. But don't be bitter about it. And for the love of God, put down the phone, do not call them! It's over! I know it's not easy to just walk away from a relationship especially if it last several years and there were talks of marriage. You're going to miss them, you will. It may not be now, but there will come a time when you ask yourself, "What if?" You can't allow yourself to stay in the pits about it. Here are 5 tips to help you get through those moments when you miss your ex.  

Disable Your Social Media Accounts

You could delete your social media accounts, but this is a bit extreme. Instead, it’s better to unfriend them and unfollow them on all social media accounts. When you miss your ex, it’s really tempting to pop onto Facebook and see how they're doing. But this just makes everything so much worse. You see that he’s doing just fine without you, and it makes you feel bad. (Or maybe you see that you were right to leave because nothing has changed and they're still the same jack wad you got tired of dealing with). Either way, it’s a much better idea to spend some time away from social media for a while. Give yourself some breathing space. I'm sure you're tired of answering people's questions about why your status changed from "In a Relationship" to "Single".

Get Outside

Staying in bed all day waiting for her to reply to your “I miss you” text might sound like a great idea right now. After all, you can’t even summon the motivation needed to get out of bed, let alone leave your house. But this is unhealthy and will only make you feel a lot worse. And while I understand that you want to be left alone right now, you’re reading this article for a reason. And I think it’s a fab idea that you head outdoors.

Getting out and about among people will help you to forget about him or her for a while. Your mind will be excited by new experiences, sensations, smells, sights and so on. You could take a walk, travel to a new city or just hang out with friends in a coffee shop.

Soaking up fresh air and exposing yourself to the sunshine will remind you that there is life beyond the boy/girl. They were good, but they weren’t everything.

Channel Demi Lovato's "Sorry Not Sorry"

I LOOOOOOOOVE this song! And it's not just the ultimate break up song. Every time I hear this, I just want to sing it to everyone who ever doubted me, put me down or tried to hurt me. It's a reminder that at the end of the day, you've got to always be your best self and prove the haters wrong. You don't need to be sorry for being awesome or for having high standards. Make them sorry for not seeing and appreciating that beauty within you.

Work on Your Revenge Body

This is probably the hardest one on the list. You probably gained a lot of that comfortable "relationship weight" (similar to the freshman 15), because you thought you'd never have to look for another lover again. And comfort food is so real right now, because no one heals you better than a pint of your favourite ice cream (or a pan of macaroni, not judging). But if you focus too much on eating your feelings, you're taking away from the outside beauty that can lead to finding the one. Sure "the one" should love you regardless, but let's be real, we all have our limits and preferences when it comes to love. So whether it's cutting back, going back to school, hitting the gym or meditating, do what you need to do to create a better version of yourself.

Don’t Think About “What If …”

We’ve all been there. We’ve all dwelt on ‘what if’s …’ and imagined what life would be like if only we’d have done this or that differently. But the ‘what if …’ game is the cruelest game of all, and we always lose. We like to create these stories and imagine false illusions and fantasies of a better life. We like to roll the dice for a second time in our heads and smile at better results. But reality is not like that and never will be. Had you the chance to go back in time and do everything again, you would make the same decisions. Nothing would change. Everything happens for a reason, and the reason you did the things you did is because it felt right at the time. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Forget about the past and live in the present. It is what it is.

You had a great time with your ex and you miss them. And maybe you’re thinking about what could have been had things not ended.

But things ended for a reason. So why not take some time to analyse what went wrong in your relationship? In this way, you can learn from your mistakes so that you don’t repeat them in your next relationship.

Stay happy!

5 Ways To Stop Letting Your Personal Issues Impact Your Work

5 Ways To Stop Letting Your Personal Issues Impact Your Work

The boundaries between our personal lives and professionally lives continue to get blurred – and it’s easier than ever to let one impact that other. Especially since millennials are the “most stressed out generation” according to an American Psychology Association survey. (Hmm, I wonder why.....?) It’s impossible to flip a switch and leave all the personal happenings behind when you step into the office, but it’s essential you try to prevent your personal issues from impacting your work.

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How Travel Can Support Your Addiction Recovery

Today's guest post comes from Henry Moore of FitWellTraveler.

Travelling during your addiction recovery can be challenging but rewarding, giving you a wider perspective than you experienced during your addiction, and many rehabilitation centres encourage travel during the early stages of recovery from substance abuse. According to one Goalcast author who healed through travel, “I went from being the only important person in my life during my days of addiction to someone who realised that I was just a tiny, virtually minuscule part of this world. Talk about taking the pressure off.”

If you think a getaway could help you heal, consider these tips on staying sober away from home and getting the most from your travels.

Get Some Perspective

While visiting other areas and cultures can broaden your perspective on life - and its challenges - be mindful about when and where you plan to vacation while maintaining your sobriety. Obviously you’ll want to avoid Napa Valley wine tours, Germany in October, Daytona Beach during spring break, and possibly even countries where wine is served without prompting, the way restaurants set out water glasses for customers here. Instead, focus on planning activities and outings and set up some night-life fun that doesn’t involve getting hammered.

Travelling For Self-Discovery

Take some time during your travels to reflect on where you’ve been, where you are, and where you see yourself in the future. Many of those who overcome addiction feel that they’ve been given the opportunity to rebuild their life for the better. Ask yourself what you’d like to change, what you want to continue, and how you eventually want to spend your days.

You may also choose to keep a travel journal during your journey. While you might mention any particularly hard won triumphs over temptation, your journal needn’t focus on your sobriety. Record your thoughts, insights, and interesting cultural facts you learn. You may also choose to note exceptional meals, interesting people, and favorite places. To add some visual flair, pick up inexpensive postcards during your trip to tape into your journal’s pages.

The Freedom To Travel

You probably spent months (possibly years) putting off your travel plans or planning around your substance abuse. Places you’d liked to visit were bypassed if they didn’t serve alcohol or fit into your lifestyle. And while substance abuse may have severely limited your travel options in the past, it is now easier than ever to plan a sober getaway with the help of a number of substance-free travel organizations. If you’re planning to use a travel agent, consider contacting Sober Vacations International, Clean Getaway Travel, or Travel Sober to see what packages they have available.

Escape Temptation

Being away from home will help you avoid the people and places that can trigger temptation but travelling alone can create the feeling of being cut off from your support system in times of crisis. To keep your temptation in check while you’re away, Psychology Today suggests using technology to stay connected. “It’s unnerving to be suddenly un-tethered from your usual support networks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take support with you,” writes psychiatrist David Mack on Psychology Today. “Apps, many of them free, can be downloaded that offer inspirational messages of encouragement, daily reflections, and tips for staying sober.”

Healing On The Go

There are a number of other steps you can take to ensure a healthy vacation, whether you go alone or with friends or family. Call ahead to your hotel and request that the mini-bar be cleared of any alcoholic beverages. Research high-crime areas that may translate into the availability of drugs and avoid them during your trip. Make any wait staff that serves you aware of your alcohol-free preferences. Refrain from wandering the city at night without a clear destination and avoid areas known for its ‘nightlife’.

While temptation is bound to follow you no matter where you travel, experiencing new places, people, and cultures can broaden your mind and put your addiction in perspective. Traveling solo can also build your confidence, something that is paramount to abstaining in the future and will serve you well in building a new substance-free life.

 

Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He enjoys travel, running, cooking, baking and reading. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.

Why Millennials are Swearing off Dating

Hello Lovely,

Have you ever hung out with a guy or gal and everything seems to be going swell until they say, "I'm not looking for a relationship right now." That line has easily been decoded to mean, "I don't want a relationship I just want to mess around." I've met some interesting people since ending my last relationship and learned a lot about the current dating scene. I even met a guy who had the opportunity to get back together with his ex-girlfriend but chose not to because he wanted to sleep around some more. Dating as a millennial can make people as replaceable as the latest iPhone. So why aren't millennials dating or getting serious about who they date?

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1. We realised the Disney fairy tale is a lie

Our parents fed us a huge lie and we fell for it; until now. With the spike in divorce rates there's been a new level of awareness for what you don't have to tolerate in a relationship. We believed in happily ever afters because of Disney, however, Disney is based on morbid fiction, but got sprinkled with magic pixie dust to make us see the beauty in the world. The problem is, no one is that charming in real life. Most of us are actually the villain. It's hard to hold onto that fairy tale when all around you are single parent homes and moms and dads who hate each other.

2. The rules of dating have changed drastically. 

Remember when you had to send a note to your crush looking like this? 

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Then there was the awkward movie date and a whole bunch of rules and bases you had to pass before that person even became your significant other. We took dating more seriously back then. We planned weddings in primary school and swore to be together forever.

Now you don't really need to know anything significant about the person before jumping into bed with them. Dating can now literally be defined by Netflix and Chill. No one holds the door open any more, goes to restaurants or even calls. Courting has become a series of texts and dick pics. Have you noticed guys don't even try to dance with girls in the club any more? While there's been a lot more emphasis on being relaxed and letting things happen organically, it can be a little confusing to navigate. Does putting out early push him away or keep his interest? And no matter how many guides they write on this stuff, there's really no one-size-fits-all. Dating is about trial and error making it way too complicated for people who have "more important" things to do.

3. We're too career driven

Thanks to baby boomers, it's a lot harder for us to be taken seriously in the workforce. We were constantly told as kids to stop focusing on boys/girls and get an education. My mom always taught me that two people shouldn't be "unequally yoked" and I need to be so successful that no man can ever say, "If it weren't for me you wouldn't ______________". So that's been my approach to dating ever since. I pushed myself to get a Master's Degree and now I'm focused on fixing up my resume. I've even begun looking for new supplemental courses to take to increase my market value. Why? Because life isn't cheap. Housing is expensive and the average cost of living is ridiculous. It's worse when we're trying to travel so that we can "see the world" like everyone is telling us to. So we have to be educated, well travelled, and fiscally responsible before we can even begin to think about settling down. With this kind of focus, it makes it really hard to pick a mate.

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4. Seriously, these are our choices? 

The microwave generation has done a lot of amazing things, the least of which is the invention of reality TV and social media. When you're able to see what everyone is thinking with a single swipe, it makes it easier to eliminate people from your dating pool. Typically, our generation has two types of people: the career driven person who understands that it takes hard work and dedication to sustain a family, and the instant gratification person who sees nothing wrong with earning a living from their living room. The career driven person is usually too busy to date and can sometimes seem out of touch, while the socially driven person seems too lackadaisical and not serious about life.

The recent culture shift has also put a huge strain on traditional values. Do we honour a traditional relationship or is it okay to "go Dutch"? Women have been forced to step up and provide for themselves at the expense of being labelled, bitches, control freaks and insubordinate. Yet our men get away with being dead beat dads, unemployed and still living at home with their mom. But don't forget, men are supposed to be the "head of the household". So it's back to that "unequally yoked" theory.

5. "Don't catch feelings, catch flights"

I've heard this cliche more times than I can count! Somehow, it's become the cool thing to just not show any kind of emotion. God forbid you see someone you like and actually pursue them. Even if it was just a random hookup, it's assumed you "caught feelings" just because you text them the next day. No, it's called being a decent human being. There's a post-modern trend to simply forgo labels and live in the moment. One of my best friends actually chastised me for calling myself a "hopeless romantic". I was angry about that because I never said it was a bad thing. I have no problem being a hopeless romantic and someday I know I'll find someone who's a hopeless romantic like me.

I met a guy who said he doesn't kiss. What are you afraid of? She'll suddenly think you're totally in love with her and want to get married just because you romanced her a little before getting her into bed? People, it's okay to show emotions and and it's okay to form attachments (as long as that's what both parties want). We weren't meant to do life alone so stop acting like you don't need anybody.

These are only 5 reasons why Millennials don't "date" any more. If you have your own reason share it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you!

Many people have found love and even got married using free dating websites, so keep at it! 

We Love Dates is a dating website that caters to many different niches. We Love Dates is free and gives people the opportunity to find likeminded people in their age range and location.

If you're an adult looking for an adult dating website, try this one: http://www.nostringsdating.net/uk

Looking for lesbian dating? Try this one: http://www.dateLesbianSingles.co.uk

Over 50 and looking to date? Try this one: http://www.older-dating.co.uk

And if you're looking for gay dating try this one: http://www.dategaysingles.co.uk/

Why Getting to Know Your Neighbours is More Important Than You Realise

Hello Lovely,

While I was in London, I got a phone call from my mum telling me that our neighbours house had burned down. She said everything happened so quickly there was nothing they could do to help. Panicking, I asked her whose house had burned down and immediately began my process of elimination with the only neighbours I knew. The name my mother gave was so foreign to me. I had never interacted with them. I couldn't point them out in a line up. I couldn't even tell you what colour their house was. I genuinely knew nothing about these people. And that's what made me feel bad. Yes it was terrible that they had just lost their home and all of their belongings, but when I had no idea who they were, that made me realise how important it is to know my neighbours. If your house were on fire, wouldn't you want your neighbours to stop what they're doing and help you? I was reminded of how helpful my neighbours were after Hurricane Matthew. Natural disasters aside, there are many benefits to to getting to know your neighbours.

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1. You get access to information and resources.

Your neighbours can sometimes be the best people to go to when you need something. I'm not talking about the stereotypical cup of sugar. Maybe you need a contractor and your neighbour is a contractor. Looking for restaurant recommendations? Your neighbour may know the best spots. Neighbours hold a wealth of knowledge on where to go and supplies. From extension cords to feminine care items. 

2. Your neighbourhood becomes safer.

Neighbours look out for neighbours. If your neighbour has a phone contact for you, they can call you if they see someone suspicious hanging around your house. Many people rely on their neighbours to “keep an eye out” when they’re travelling or at work for any suspicious people or activity on their street. You don’t need be technologically savvy to do this; all it takes is a simple hello once in a while to foster a small connection, which can form a later sense of being part of a bigger “family.” And in case of emergency, it is much easier to go to someone you know rather than a complete stranger. And if you really trust your neighbour, you can leave a spare key with them in case you ever lose yours.

3. You receive support and help.

While I was living in Miami, I hit a fence. My neighbour noticed my bumper hanging one day and fixed it for me. When I came outside and saw it was fixed, he told me he had fixed it. He was close to my aunt whom I was staying with so by extension, he took care of me as well. I was even able to ask him son to wash my car for me for only $5,

And if that’s not enough reason to meet your neighbours, consider this: When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher met a guy on an online dating site and called him up one day. While on the phone, a plane flew over and they were surprised that they both heard it so vividly. When they stepped outside, they learned that they lived on the same street for years and never knew each other existed. They even had the same last name (no relation). They’re now married. So it just goes to show, you never know where your next “hello” will take you.

Have you met your neighbours? Is it important for you to know who lives next door?

5 Tricks I Use to Save Money at The Food Store

Hello Lovely,

While I was in London something that really impressed me was the cost of groceries. It was probably why I didn't eat out as much. Lidl was within walking distance of my flat. It reminded me Aldi's, which I was happy to see is also in London. You have to bring your own bags, otherwise bags can cost 5P and up. But everything was cheap. I got desserts for 60-90P and enough groceries to cook for nearly 2 weeks for under £30. But when I got back home and had to restock my fridge, I was outraged to see my groceries come to over $30 for items I could check out in the express lane. I knew immediately that I was doing something wrong. Especially because I had to go back twice afterwards over the span of two weeks. So after giving it some thought, I realised I needed a better strategy for saving money at the food store. I put my strategy to the test and it worked! So here are the 5 tricks I use to save money at the food store.

1. Make a list based on meal plans

It may seem cheesy but I save more money when I make a list based on meals I plan on preparing. I look at recipes, look at which ingredients I already own, then write down the ones I need to buy. You can use pen and paper or your cellphone. I get extra organised by writing the name of the recipe and then the necessary ingredients underneath. How does this save money: Choose recipes that use the same ingredients so you won't have to buy too many different ingredients. Also choose recipes you would realistically make during that week. And once you have a plan it's easier to stay on target.

2. Use a Reusable Tote

While it may take some of the local packing boys some getting used it, there are many benefits to using a reusable tote bag. Not only is it better for the environment, but it helps to keep you on task because you can't buy what you can't tote home. Lately I made a vow to use my tote bags instead of plastic so I always carry two tote bags with me to the store (they're not that big) but I can fit $60 worth of groceries in those bags.

3. Wait for the price to drop

Just because something is in season doesn't mean the price will always be low. One week the price of strawberries were $5.99, I went back the next week and the price dropped to $3.99 (which let's face it is the cheapest it's going to get here). They're always changing the price of fresh produce so keep an eye out.

4. Don't do all of your shopping in one place.

I recently started shopping at Solomon's Fresh Market again because of the wider variety and comparable prices, but there are still some items that are considerably cheaper elsewhere like SuperValu and Meat Max. However, I would never buy fresh produce from Meat Max or any Chinese food store and I would never get berries from SuperValu because I can buy mixed berries at Fresh Market, much cheaper. So learn which store sells what at the best price and plan your best gas route.

5. Use your stamps

In the Bahamas, we don't really have coupons or rewards cards. But SuperValu stamps are a godsend. I enjoy collecting them and saving them until I have about $20 worth of stamps. There's something exhilirating about watching your total be cut in half. Some people are more extreme than I am and save $60 or more in stamps. I always keep an eye out for stamps on the ground in public and once found almost 12 stamps just lying on the ground. Also if you go to SuperValu on Sundays, you get double stamps!

BONUS TIP: Buy in Season: Have you ever noticed that strawberries are cheaper in the summer? When you buy what's in season, you buy food that's at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store. It may seem like common sense, but it's one of those things many of us ignore when we're shopping.

I hope my tips have helped! What kinds of tricks do you use to save money at the food store? Share your expertise in the comment section below!

Currently: Dating

Hello Lovely,

I'm not ashamed to admit that after a little over two years I made the decision to end my relationship. It wasn't so much the distance as the differences I could no longer overlook. After a very heated argument that we've had more times than I can count, it's like a light switch went off in my head. I just couldn't do it anymore. It had nothing to do with whether or not I loved him. I loved him dearly, but it just wasn't working. We weren't working. And we weren't going to work either. In that moment, I knew for sure that had we gotten married, I would've divorced him. So I did what I had to do.

I was fine with my choice. I know I made the right decision. All I had to do was move on. So I did. And I'm proud to say that next month, I'll be making my final presentation for my master's degree. I can't believe this moment has finally come! It took a lot of sacrifice but I did it!

 While this is a personal blog, I am very cautious of what I write and share. But whenever I experience something I feel is worth sharing, I want to share that wisdom with others. I've compiled them into mini chapters, so to speak, all based on my personal experience with dating. So this is what 2 years of a long distance relationship coming to an end, culminated with 3 months of dating availability has taught me about dating and myself:

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1.     Picky is not necessarily a bad thing.

Any time a guy asks me what I look for in a partner, I always lead with, “I’m picky.” I’m not ashamed of this. My pickiness is not unrealistic; and by leading with what I want it lets the “unqualified” know not to bother. Why waste time with someone who only wants to waste your time? Letting someone know you have standards that are non-negotiable creates an opportunity for respect and allows you to weed out the undesirables. Only weak people are intimidated by standards.

2.     Forgiveness is important

OMG! Who am I for even saying this? I am the master of holding grudges! I recently started dating someone who acted unforgivably. We stopped talking and it actually hurt me. But last week he reached out to me to apologise. I’ll be honest, I was ready to forgive him so I felt relief after we talked it out and now we’re friends again. That’s because I had to accept the advice two of my best friends gave me:

3.     Nobody is perfect; including yourself

People are going to mess up; it’s a part of life. There are no perfect boyfriends, just real ones. It’s still up to you to decide how much imperfection you’re willing to deal with, but remember that you yourself are also a work in progress and there are going to be things your partner doesn’t like about you.

4.     Always date your best friend

But none of that would matter if you date your best friend. That was my biggest regret in my last relationship. We got into a relationship after only two weeks of knowing each other. Take the time to really get to know the person you’re about to spend the rest of your life (or the next three months) with. Loving your best friend is much easier than loving someone you’re still getting to know. You won’t know everything about your partner, but it’s much more fun when this person has unconditional respect for you before romantic relationships become a topic.

5.     Listen to the warning signs

I can’t stress this enough. There were so many red flags in my last relationship; as early as one month in. even when I met him, I didn’t feel the butterflies I thought I would but chose to ignore that. There will be warning signs in any kind of relationship, some are minor but you know when it’s a biggie. Listen to your heart. If something feels off, it probably is. Address these issues head on so that everyone is clear moving forward.

6.     Pick your battles

Not everything is worth fighting for. Sometimes you just know that something will end in an argument or worse a fight. The warning signs are there and in that moment you have a choice. Fully commit to this sinking ship or walk away? If you’ve already made it clear where you stand on something minor, no need to keep nagging your partner if they don’t get it right. For example: your partner getting stuck in traffic and being late to a date, vs. your partner always ignoring your requests to do something that makes you happy.

7.     Be intentional

Someone can’t give you what you want if you’re not clear about what you want. Be upfront, honest and intentional. Go for what you want and don’t be apologetic. As long as you’re true to yourself, no matter the outcome, rest in knowing you made your needs and wants clear with no crazy mixed signals.

8.     Games are for kids

This ties in with the above note. No one likes the guy at the bar who takes your number then takes a week to call. And worse, he doesn’t call back for another 3 weeks and the only reason he did call was because you initiated a drop call to get his attention. While I already counted three strikes against him from the initial meeting (my friends though I was too harsh) it turns out I was right about him so it didn’t hurt me. No one has time for games so I simply didn’t make time for him.

9.     The ring didn't mean a thing

Last year when I went to St. Croix to meet his mother, I told him bluntly that I could spend over $600 on airfare to meet his mother and still leave him if I continued to be unhappy. When we did eventually break up, he threw in my face that I was throwing away two years of blah blah blah. While this may have been my longest relationship ever, no matter how long you’ve been with your partner, dissatisfaction in one area will lead to dissatisfaction in other areas of your life. You don’t have to stay if your needs aren’t being met intentionally. There’s only so much anyone can put up with.

10.  Change is good but don't change too much.

Everyone changes in some way during a relationship. Your partner can encourage you to be the best you possible but remember no matter what changes you make in life, don’t lose who you truly are. Don’t change so much to make someone happy that you can’t remember what makes you happy.

There are days when it really hits me that my long-distance relationship is over and for a few seconds, I get an empty feeling. I’ve never been a fan of the dating process because there are so many jerks out there. But with friends that are more like family, I feel more confident in getting back on the dating scene.

I hope my experiences help with whatever decision you’re facing or need to face. What is the best dating advice you’ve ever gotten? Share it in the comment section below.

XoX