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!

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!

Your Health in Action: 5 Self-Care Practices for Introverts

Whenever I tell people that I’m an introvert, they are often a little taken aback. “But you aren’t awkward in social situations!” they protest. Others think that I’m calling myself an introvert in self-deprecation, and respond with a concerned “Awwww, I don’t think you’re an introvert at all,” as if trying to comfort me.

The thing is, I don’t consider introversion to be a flaw by any means, nor do I equate being an introvert with lacking communication or social skills. Being an introvert simply means that I draw my energy from within, rather than from other people, and that in order to recharge, I need time alone.

I work in business development, where my job is to cultivate relationships, spread brand awareness, and — on some days — talk to literally hundreds of people in the course of a few hours. I absolutely love what I do, and am so happy to have a job that introduces me to so many interesting people. But when the weekend rolls around, I can’t wait to take a little time to myself.

Your Health in Action: 5 Self-Care Practices for Introverts

For all of my fellow introverts living in an extroverted world, it’s important to take care of yourself and your overall health. This week, we’ll delve into five self-care practices that all introverts should implement into their lives!

  1. Prioritize time to yourself at home.
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re a chronic over-committer like me, it might be easier said than done. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say no sometimes and stay in! When you know you need the time to yourself, take it. Whether you use that time to curl up with a book, listen to your favorite podcast, or plunge into a mindless Netflix binge is completely up to you. If you get through the entire second season of Master of None in one weekend, I promise I won’t judge!
  2. Go out in public by yourself.
    Go for a walk. Visit an art museum. Go to the movies! It can feel socially unacceptable to do these things alone, but incredibly energizing once you finally do. Get used to doing some things by yourself. One of my favorite memories from last year was when I visited Leu Gardens, which I did on my own. I loved spending time among nature and taking in all of the beauty that the botanical gardens had to offer, and doing so by myself added an almost meditative element to the experience.
  3. Find your creative outlet.
    For me, that’s writing — and yes, I am the cliché girl in the coffee shop putting pen to paper. What can I say? It makes me happy! I also love coloring and attempting to play keyboard when I need to unwind.
  4. Turn off electronics.
    This is an area where I truly struggle, but it can make a world of difference. Thanks to smartphones and social media, we are constantly connected to something. I challenge you to disconnect. Switch your phone to do not disturb after a certain time at night, or better yet, turn off your devices and soak in the time to yourself.
  5. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
    Make sure you are getting enough sleep, and eat the foods that truly nourish you. Maybe your body is craving physical activity to de-stress, or perhaps diffusing essential oils will do the trick. Make your health a priority — without that, how can you do all of the amazing things you do? 🙂

Any of my fellow introverts in the house? Share your favorite self-care practices in the comments section below!

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When “No” is a Complete Sentence

Around my 25th birthday, I embarked on my year of yes. Inspired by Shonda Rhimes (and probably Jim Carrey in Yes Man), I took on new adventures, made travel a priority, and stopped waiting to do the things I always hoped to do someday. For the first time in years, I was finally creating the life I wanted.

If I’ve gained nothing else from the past two years, I do know this: I believe in the power of yes.

However, as I approach my 27th birthday, I’m also becoming a firm believer in the power of no.

The Power of Saying No

A chronic people pleaser, I’ve always hated the idea of saying no. Most of the time, I genuinely want to get involved in new things and spend time with others, but I also have the tendency to overcommit. I’ve said yes to social plans I’m not keen on. I’ve continued relationships past their expiration date simply because of my fear of hurting others. I’ve allowed people to talk down to me and treat me in ways I didn’t deserve in order to avoid confrontation and not upset anyone.

Ultimately, I’ve put myself last.

A lot of people fall into the same camp, hoping to make others happy and disappoint as few people as possible. But by saying yes to activities we honestly don’t enjoy or to negative behaviors from others, we are diminishing the value of our own time and self-worth. By putting energy toward the things that don’t nourish your soul, you are taking energy away from other areas of your life, and are less able to put forth the best version of yourself. It isn’t healthy for the relationships you do value or for your overall wellness.

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Saying “no” can come in many forms, from a simple “I can’t go tonight,” to telling someone that you’re uncomfortable being spoken to in a certain way. It’s okay to take a night to yourself (fellow introverts, I’m looking at you!). It’s okay to block dramatic people from your newsfeed, ignore passive-aggressive comments from frenemies, and unmatch with rude people on dating apps. The world is yours to enjoy just as much as anyone else, and saying no doesn’t make you any less of a kind person.

In recent months, I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no, walking away from negative situations, and not backtracking to explain every last decision I make. I’m not sure where this newfound ability came from, but a psychic I visited in Cassadaga a few months back did tell me that I would find my voice around my birthday. Whether or not my new knack for “no” came from the psychic’s predictions, it has helped me lead a happier and even more fulfilling life, allowing me to become a better friend who has committed to her own self-care.

In short, let go of the optional things in life that make you unhappy. Be open to new people and experiences, but don’t be afraid to say no when you need to. Life is short — shouldn’t we get to choose how we spend it? 🙂

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.