Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? As the temperatures creep into the 40s and 50s here in the Orlando area, I’m starting to feel it more than ever. My sleeves have been getting longer and longer over the past few weeks, and my morning caffeine fix has transitioned from iced to hot. When the cold fronts are here, that means the holidays are almost here, and that means it’s time to hit the stores.

Earlier this week, I shared a few of my favorite Central Florida stores and boutiques for holiday shopping. However, for those of you who prefer shopping online or don’t happen to live in the region, I wanted to pull together a quick guide for gifts you can purchase no matter where you live. (For a few of my popular guides from previous years, click here and here.) Get ready to start shopping!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Holiday Gift Guide | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • For your organized friend: Bloom Daily Planners Vintage Floral print.
    I’m a sucker for a beautiful planner, and I just invested in one of these for myself for 2019. These datebooks go by calendar year and are the perfect size — large enough to include everything you’d ever need to write down, but small enough to fit in a medium-sized handbag. The Vintage Floral is beautiful, but if your gift recipient is less flowery, check out Bloom’s other prints with marble, flamingos, inspirational quotes, or other cover designs.
  • For the fashionista: These fun cat eye sunglasses by Sunice.
    Sunice Glasses has a variety of men’s and women’s sunglasses to choose from — you can’t go wrong! My favorite styles are the Classy (pictured) and the Aero, but take a look for yourself to choose a unique style. Use my promo code WANDERLUST25 to get 25% off your purchase!
  • For the one who always knows when Mercury is in retrograde: The Mixology of Astrology: Cosmic Cocktails for Every Sign by Aliza Kelly.
    I recently listened to Aliza Kelly’s episode on the Almost Famous podcast (check out more on my favorite podcasts here), and was fascinated about the idea of cocktails designed for specific astrological signs! Whether your friend is really into astrology or just likes to entertain, this book would be a fun addition to any party, bar cart, or coffee table.
  • For the class clown: A personalized potato via Potato Parcel.
    No holiday season is complete without at least one gag gift, and Potato Parcel does not disappoint! Featured on Shark Tank, Potato Parcel allows you to send a personalized potato in the mail with a message or printed photo of your choosing. They are now even selling potato ornaments! Check out their offerings and bundles here (and yes, I have used their services before).
  • For the accessories junkie: The Moon necklace by Civion.
    Civion is a European accessories company with a fun array of necklaces, earrings, rings (I love The Feline!), and bracelets. My readers receive 25% off their Civion purchases with discount code VALERIE25, so be sure to check them out online!
  • For the pet lover: Pop Your Pup apparel and more.
    I’ve written about Pop Your Pup before, but they just keep getting better! Pop Your Pup creates custom clothing and accessories by designing pop art versions of your favorite pet. Since the last time I wrote about them, they have expanded to now sell blankets and throw pillows, phone covers, and even puzzles.
  • For your favorite introvert: Quiet by Susan Cain.
    As an introvert myself, I can appreciate a book that helps me cope with living in “a world that can’t stop talking.” This book is a fun and interesting read that your introvert friends may find helpful (or may be a great gift to give yourself). I am a huge fan of this book!
  • For the bubbly one: These champagne toppers from World Market.
    From mango bellinis to mandarin mimosas, you can spruce up your drinks with these yummy champagne toppers! I recently purchased a 5-pack for a friend’s bridal shower and the gift did not disappoint. These fruity mixers will sweeten your drink and have sassy names like “Trust Me, You Can Dance” that will make you smile.

What stocking stuffers are on your list this year? Sound off in the comments!

Link Love September: Salvador Dalí, Trader Joe’s, and Environmental Consciousness

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Happy October! To me, there’s always something poetic about the first of the month taking place on a Monday. It feels more than ever like the time to begin anew, and I’m excited to see where the month takes us. September was a great month — I spent time with family, celebrated my birthday, checked a few items off my 28 at 28 bucket list, took a mini vacation, made an on-field appearance at a UCF football game, practiced yoga with baby goats, and much more — so here’s hoping the adventures continue in October.

What have you been reading lately? Check out some of my favorite links from September and share your own favorites in the comments section.

What links are you loving this month? Sound off in the comments below!

The Weekend Five: Networking Tips for Introverts

246Six years ago, if you came up to me and said that networking would be one of the keys to my success after college, I would have slapped you across the face.

Okay, I definitely wouldn’t have slapped you across the face (that would be pretty awful, wouldn’t it?), but the idea of networking was terrifying to a shy college freshman like me. The word “networking” evoked images of ill-fitting professional attire and awkward encounters with high-level executives who would never give a college student the time of day. To me, “networking” required an overly assertive, almost aggressive demeanor. How could an introvert like me ever compete with those big personalities?

What I didn’t know at eighteen years old, however, was that networking was not limited to professional development events and a formal exchange of business cards. By joining clubs on campus, making friends in my classes, participating in internships and getting to know my professors and advisors, I was actually building my network without even realizing it.

Networking ultimately led to my first job out of college and continues to play a huge role in my career today. I may be an introvert, but I have found ways to network that have worked well for me. To all of my shy or otherwise introverted readers out there, this article is for you!

The Weekend Five: Networking Tips for Introverts

awkward-small-talk1. Don’t think of it as “networking.”
Think of it as relationship building. By genuinely getting to know people, you not only create a stronger network, but you also improve your own quality of life! Your conversations don’t have to revolve entirely around a business pitch. As I mentioned before, networking doesn’t always take place at a formal networking event — a lot of times, it can happen in a classroom, an elevator, a club meeting or your dorm building. Talk to people and get to know them one-on-one. Start with people you may already cross paths with or with whom you may share a few mutual contacts. A lot of times, this is far less intimidating than walking right up to a complete stranger from the get-go.

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2. Get involved in an organization.
Whether you enjoy professional student organizations or community service projects, join a group (or two) that introduces you to new people. By working toward a common goal or sharing a similar interest, you have an easy way to break the ice while doing something you enjoy. I still keep in touch with many of my fellow officers from the organizations I was involved with in college, and today I am getting to know new people in my college’s alumni association by attending their events and meetings as well!

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49d6977a63d509aaed85f0147d44ba793. Find commonalities.
Networking doesn’t have to mean diving headfirst into a conversation about your company’s products and services. Sometimes, a great way to build your network is to start by finding things you have in common. At one networking event, I found myself talking with a guy about our recent travels, and by the end of our conversation, I was invited to be a guest speaker in one of the classes he taught. At another event, I bonded with the lady behind me at the buffet over our shared interest in some of the food. It turned out she was a very important person on the board of an organization that I worked with, and now she knew who I was! Pro tip: If you’re feeling really lost at a formal networking event, head over to the food table and strike up a conversation with one of the people nearby. People love talking about food (and trying to guess what some of the interesting looking appetizers are!).

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4. Attend events.
Leave the house. It’s not easy to meet people and form lasting connections from the comfort of your couch. (If it were, Tinder would have a much higher success rate!) Attend events that interest you – not just networking events, but professional development workshops, guest speakers, social events, etc. Find a friend to attend with you if it will bring you out of your shell a bit more, but if your friends aren’t interested in the types of events you like, go by yourself. Because most of my friends did not have my major in college, I attended a lot of club meetings and agency tours on my own, and I don’t regret it for a minute. I made new friends that way, and learned a lot about my major and the industry that I wanted to go into!

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Comfort Zone5. Get out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes you will need to do the things that scare you, and that’s okay. I say “yes” to opportunities constantly, even when they seem intimidating, because I know they will help me to grow. That’s why I take on so many public speaking engagements and try to break out of my shell at events — I never want my nerves to keep me from meeting people or from growing personally and professionally. I draw my energy from within and require that time to myself to recharge and refocus, but that shouldn’t limit me from getting to know others and setting goals for myself outside of my comfort zone. You don’t need to do anything that conflicts with your personal values, but I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone the next time you attend an event and get to know someone new.

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What are your networking tips for introverts? Share yours in the comments section below!

Link Love THURSDAY: Terrible Real Estate, Frozen and Social Media Pre-Nups

6097da4d58773b2814cef7fea44965eeGood evening, readers, and happy June! How have you decided to start your month? I kicked off June with my third Whole 30 (because I am clearly insane!) and by participating in the 100 Happy Days challenge. For the next 100 days, I will photograph something that makes me happy – and I encourage you to do the same! If you’d like to see my progress (I’m on Day 4 so far), feel free to follow my Instagram!

Plenty of interesting/strange news has also come with the new month, so allow me to share this week’s batch of link love with you!

What links have you come across this week?

Link Love Wednesday: Remembering Maya Angelou

maya angelou“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” – Maya Angelou

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This morning, I was devastated to learn about the passing of great American author and activist Maya Angelou. I first fell in love with her powerful writing during my sophomore year of college, when we read her poetry in a women’s literature class, and that love soon extended to her other noted work. Maya Angelou was truly an inspiration to so many of us, and I firmly believe that her work will continue to empower women and men alike for years to come.

The Perks of Being a Participant

“Sometimes people use thought not to participate in life.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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All too often, we let our thoughts get the best of us. Instead of engaging in a lively discussion in our classes, we fade into the background, focusing mostly on some fixed point across the room and the words we would be contributing if we decided to speak up. Instead of adding our own expertise to the conversations surrounding us, we sometimes bottle it up, leaving ourselves feeling unfulfilled and the conversations somehow incomplete. We worry about our inadequacy, even though others often see us as experts in our fields, and what does this accomplish?

When you want to learn about other people and gain insights, it’s often important to shut your mouth and really listen to what they have to say… it’s also a great way to make new friends (see #5). And when you’re in class and everyone is discussing a particular topic, sometimes it’s healthy to just sit back and soak it all in. But there comes the time when you can’t just rely on quietly observing, a time when you need to just dive in.

For the more outgoing readers, this might not sound like such a big deal, but for some of us it can be difficult to step out of our shells and share our thoughts and opinions. After all, what will others think? What if the things we say aren’t important or interesting enough? The words are at the tip of our tongues but we keep quiet for fear of failure or imperfection, or simply because we’re afraid of revealing a more vulnerable aspect of ourselves.

As someone who has bounced back and forth between being extroverted and painfully shy at different points in my life, I have definitely struggled to find the balance between speaking up and stepping back. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has always resonated with me (even though I was barely a toddler at the time the events of the book took place), but Chbosky’s words that I quoted at the beginning ring especially true. I’ve found that the more I speak up in certain classes, the better my grades usually are and the easier it is for me to stay focused and interested in the subject matter. The more involved I am at club meetings, the more I feel like a part of something bigger. Obviously it’s not a good idea to let your ideas dominate — you want to be open to others, and you don’t want to be known as the one who won’t let anyone get a word in — but a lot of times when I don’t say something important that’s on my mind, I only regret it later.

Anyway, it’s important to be engaged in what you do because it allows you to accomplish more than you would otherwise. It fosters new relationships and connections, allows for self-expression, and helps you to grow as a person.

You don’t have to go out and join every club on campus or speak up in class every time a somewhat relevant thought pops into your head, but I do encourage and challenge each of my more introverted readers to get out of your comfort zones today. Keep observing everything you can around you, but raise your hand at least once in class, or tell a club officer what’s on your mind. Baby steps each day will help us all to grow and change for the better. 🙂