The 5 Most Important Things I Learned by 25

In case any of you didn’t know, I turned 25 just this morning (8:30 a.m. to be exact) and wow, what a whirlwind it has been so far.

I have been dreading this birthday for a while now to be quite honest. I had this notion that it was going to symbolize the end of something; my youth, my innocence, my hopes and dreams. Or that it was going to trigger an existential crisis (LOL).

But it has turned out to feel like quite the opposite

I’ve been doing some reflecting on the most important things I have learned and felt like maybe this was a good time to share them. So here we go, the 5 most important things I learned by 25.

1. It’s ok to fail

And you will, numerous times. But trust me, they will all be lessons.

I spent so long looking back on my mistakes and failures and feeling like they were going to define who I was. I thought that they made me a failure, made me less lovable, less successful. When in reality, all they did was teach me things. They taught me what it feels like to fail and how to pick myself back up when that happens. They made me stronger. And they will make you stronger.

So get out there and fail, my darling, because one day you will look back and be grateful that you did.

2. Never stop dreaming

I thought big dreams were only for little kids or highschoolers going off to seek out their place in the world. But you know what? Everyone can have dreams. And its never too late to have new ones.

Maybe that dream you had when you were 18 didn’t work out so well *points to self*. And that’s totally ok. Dream up a new dream and find a way to chase it.

Life is more fun when you have something to look forward to.

3. Take care of your body and mind

We only get one body in this life, so take good care of it. Feed it well, exercise it, take it to the doctor when it gets sick.

And most importantly, TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.

Thankfully, this has become so much less stigmatized and it’s ok to talk about our mental health. Just remember that your brain is part of that body of yours and it needs to be nourished all the same.

And always remember that if you are struggling with any kind of mental health illness, please reach out and ask for help, it is always waiting for you. If we are close friends or family, don’t hesitate to talk to me personally. I am always here to talk if you need it.

4. Say what you feel when you feel it

*Deep breath*

This has probably been one of the toughest lessons for me to learn, and I am still not perfect at it. I work on it everyday and I will keep working on it for the rest of my life.

It is so important to say what we feel. And not only to say it, but to say it when we feel it. Life is way too short in some instances and I will be the first to admit that I don’t want to live with any regrets. Its going to be hard sometimes, or maybe uncomfortable, or awkward. But find the words as best you can. And just say them.

We are not always going to be lucky enough to get a second chance to say what we feel. And remember, as we are getting older so are our parents and our siblings and our cousins. Tell them you love them as often as you can. ❤

5. “Stay close to people that feel like sunshine”

I found this quote a while back and it makes me think of certain people in my life.

If you have people in your life that feel like sunshine, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

To me, these people are mostly my family and a few other special individuals that just make me feel whole. And they make me feel like the best version of myself when I am with them. Most importantly, they feel like the sun; warm and loving and bright.

Keep these people close to you. They will keep away the evil in the world, or they will fight it alongside you.


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I have no doubt that I have so much more to learn from the world,

So here’s to the 25 wonderful years I’ve had so far, and to many many more.

Thank you to anyone and everyone that has played even a small role in my life up until this point. You are amazing and I love you all.

Xoxo, Haley

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Holiday Travel Tips

As I’ve gotten older I have had to accept that I’m not just gonna wake up Christmas morning and be surrounded by my family. I have to actually travel home for the holidays now because I don’t live in my parents’ house or even in my hometown anymore.

Going home for the holidays can be stressful, but here are my top travel tips for making it home for Thanksgiving dinner and any other holidays you celebrate with your family this time of year.

  • If you need to take public transportation, book your tickets WAY IN ADVANCE

I have extreme anxiety when it comes to taking public transportation so I go a little crazy and book my tickets probably toofar in advance. But hey, I’m just being super prepared. Don’t @ me.

I would recommend buying tickets at least 2 or 3 weeks out if you know the dates you want to travel home. Airlines tend to book up the fastest, just because they are usually the most comfortable/quickest types of transportation during the holiday season. My personal favorite is trains, like Amtrak, if that’s available to you. They are still pretty quick and more reasonable in price.

My favorite site to check tickets is wanderu.com They are great for comparing types of travel and prices! Check them out with the link.

https://www.wanderu.com

https://www.wanderu.com

 

No matter what you choose though, don’t wait too long to book, especially if you are traveling with another person or a group. Multiple tickets are going to be harder to find the closer it gets to the date.

*A side note: Have a backup plan in case everything ends up being booked up no matter how far in advance you looked. Maybe try to take a different form of transportation or take it to a different stop and just have a relative pick you up and drive the rest of the way. Have a plan B (And maybe C, if you’re super prepared like me)

  • Be mindful of the weather this time of year

If you are foregoing public transportation and have chosen to drive some distance back home for the holidays, please be cautious of the weather conditions. If you live in Florida or some shit, then I guess disregard this tip (unless of course hurricanes or tornadoes are relevant to you).

I have to travel north up the state of New York and we have some pretty harsh winters here. So snow is always a problem for me as I’m sure it is for anyone else in the Northeast United States.

Check your weather as far in advance as you can and plan accordingly. Give yourself a few extra hours in case travel speeds are slow or you need to stop for a night in the case of a storm or something. And even if you aren’t driving, still be wary of the weather because it could delay your flights or trains or buses.

  • Choose your travel days wisely

When it comes to traveling home for the holidays, everyone else is gonna want to travel the same days as you to get the most out of their trip. So maybe try to plan it on an off peak day, or just an off peak time. Earlier isn’t always better, especially when it comes to trips that are longer. People love to just sleep on the trip so they don’t mind getting up super early. Try planning a trip for midday or evening so that tickets may be cheaper and the train/plane/bus won’t be as crowded.

As for days of the week, I’ve found that Sunday mornings are a great time to travel. On a more obvious note, if you can travel on a weekday that’s one of your best options. Unfortunately that’s not always possible for people that work weekdays but it may be worth it if you can spare a sick day/vacation day for it. It will just make your travel experience a little easier in the end.

  • Request your days off work well in advance as well

It depends on your workplace but most places I’ve ever worked, days off are given on a combination of seniority and a first-come, first-served basis. If this is the case for your workplace, make sure you know well in advance the days you’ll need off to travel and request them sooner rather than later.

Similar to choosing the days you want to travel, try to choose days that most of your coworkers wont request off to ensure you’ll get the days you want off. Especially if you are new to a company, you may be the bottom of the list for getting days approved.

Also, it can’t hurt to talk to your fellow coworkers and get a feel for what days they plan to take off so you can work around them accordingly.

  • Make the trip fun

You are going home for a holiday celebration and you get to see your family and friends. Be happy! Have fun! Make the trip something enjoyable and don’t look at it as an inconvenience to see people that you love.

Bring fun things to do, jam to some holiday tunes if that’s your thing, or maybe chat to the people you’re going home to see and create some plans for the time you have together.

Happy Holidays!

 

If you guys have any good travel tips, share them in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!

How to Survive Long Trips

The only shitty part about living so far away from where I grew up is that the trip home is a real journey.It usually involves a subway ride (or two), a train ride and sometimes a few hours in the passenger seat of a car. Most times it rounds out at about 6 hours, sometimes more or less depending on how much time I spend waiting or being delayed. But I’ve become somewhat of a “professional traveler” based on the amount of times I’ve taken this trip.

So, I figured I would share my tips for surviving long (and boring) trips back home or to wherever you want to go.

Tip #1: Luggage

Carrying heavy bags through the subway and up and down stairs in any station while you’re traveling can be absolute misery. So do your best to pack light, especially when you’re only spending a few days somewhere and not attending any special events. I get it; once in a while we need to pack extra because we have a wedding or a party to attend. And that’s perfectly fine. I find that picking out an outfit for the event in advance (shoes, accessories and all) and trying it on helps ensure you’re not over packing.

I recommend a backpack or some sort of large tote bag as a “carry-on”. Something you can jam your smaller handbag in but still have room for things you’ll want for the trip. It’s much easier to have one bag while trying to maneuver through isles of a train car or bus. Also be sure to check the limits for your specific type of transportation. Some have weight limits or bag limits for luggage depending on what you choose.

Tip #2: Getting the best seat

Ok, this is probably the most important tip I’m gonna give you. If you’re anything like me and like to have your choice of seat and are also mad awkward about asking complete strangers if you can sit with them, then listen up. Get there earlier than you think you need to be.I’m serious. If your ticket or reservation says “passengers should arrive 20 minutes prior to departure for boarding”, cool, so get there 30 or 45 minutes in advance. Trust me, you’ll beat everyone there and most likely be the front of the line, if not the first person (I have been first before lol it’s great). This is also important because most buses and trains do not have assigned seats. It’s a first come first serve basis.

*Pro-tip: If you wanna cop a seat alone, get there early, grab a window seat and jam all your shit in the seat next to you. Then pop in some headphones and look longingly out the window. Most people will be way too considerate to interrupt you to ask if they can sit there. (Only time this doesn’t work is when there’s a full train/bus and every seat hasto be used.)

Tip #3: What to bring for the journey

When it comes to packing things for a long trip, here are some essentials. These also come in handy when there are delays (yes, they are inevitable sometimes) and you need to pass some time while you wait.

  1. A good book- I love packing a book, whether I’ve read it 3 times already, just started it yesterday, or its been sitting on my shelf for months. There is no better time to get into a book than on a long, quiet train ride with nothing else to do.
  2. My laptop- It’s always with me for numerous reasons. One being the fact that I write this blog and I never know when inspiration may strike or if I need to get a post up while traveling. I also love being able to watch Netflix or YouTube or browsing online when the onboard Wi-Fi works.
  3. Headphones- These are essential for me anytime I set foot outside my house, but especially on a long trip because I find that listening to music passes the time just as much as reading a book does. It’s also the perfect time to find new music or explore different playlists.
  4. Snacks- Buying food on a train is soooo expensive, so don’t waste your money on that. And obviously on a bus there is no café car so I prefer to bring my own snacks and usually water (lately sparkling, or a seltzer because I’m obsessed with them). Bring easy things like nuts, chips, or fruit that doesn’t make a mess. Don’t go whipping out your moms homemade lasagna. Trains rides are usually smooth but not thatsmooth.

Tip #4: How to deal with people

We know it’s going to happen once in a while; that noisy kid that won’t stop screaming in the seat behind you or that guy that’s talking mad loud on his phone the entire ride. The thing I’ve learned while doing all this traveling is that you can’t control other people. You can just be a good human and hope that others will follow your lead. I try my best to help anyone who hasn’t traveled much and is confused or lost, and I always act respectful of others personal space and the public spaces I’m sharing. If someone is doing something super annoying, don’t be afraid to talk to the staff on the train or bus because you paid for your ticket just like they did and you deserve to enjoy your trip as well. Or if you’re gutsy enough, stand up to the person yourself and express your opinion about their rude actions. It just may save you and the other passengers some headache.

 

I hope these tips will help make your next trek a little easier. Comment below if you have any other useful tips to share, I’d love to hear them! Follow this blog for future travel posts.

Thanks for reading!

How Not To Die On The NYC Subway

Ok, ok. I know the title of this sounds a little dramatic, but let me explain.

The New York City subway can be a dangerous place, or as we New Yorkers prefer to call it, “the train”. In 2017 there were 181 incidents involving people coming in contact with trains, 44 were deaths. But I’m not just talking about this kind of death involving the subway, despite it being important. I’m mainly talking about the everyday hustle and bustle of riding the MTA. Whether you live in New York or you’re just visiting the city, here are some of the ways you can make your subway experience super fun more tolerable.

Since we already touched on the serious stuff, let’s just wrap it up here. Watch the damn gap, ok? The last you want to happen is to get jammed in that little area between the train and the platform. Did I create a horrific image there for you? Well sorry, but it’s no joke. I know too many people who know someone who has gotten injured from not paying attention to that gap. Or people who have witnessed someone fall in there. So just be careful ok. And do what the warning labels say. They’re there for a reason. Watch the gap, Stand clear of the platform edge, Do not hold doors, all that good stuff.

One thing I learned very early on while taking the subway was that if a car is suspiciously empty during a busy time of the day, you most likely want to follow your instincts and avoid it. If you make the same mistake I did, you’ll end up in a car that combines all the worst smells on earth in one; dirt, body odor, rotten food, feces maybe? Homeless people sleep on the subway all the time so do yourself a favor and try not to get stuck in a car they’ve made their home. And if you do, jump off at the next stop and switch cars. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Speaking of the homeless, (yes it’s sad to see all the time) some of them are straight up douchebags. Watch out for those ones. No one should ever be forcing you to cough up change if you don’t want to. If you feel compelled to give something, then be my guest. But remember that there’s tons of people turning them down everyday. Ignore the beggars and panhandlers who try to make everyone on the train feel like shit for not helping them. You can’t save the world with your coin purse. The only people I ever truly feel like donating to are the performers or ones that try to at least give you something in return. And let me tell you, there are some true talents out there. Violin players, singers, dancers, magicians, you name it and I’ve probably seen it on the subway.

Headphones are your lifeline in New York, if I haven’t made that clear already. If you wanna avoid being talked to by strangers, or worse, then pop those babies in. I wear mine all the time, whether I’m listening to music or not. It keeps the crazies away, ’cause you know we got plenty of those. Mostly I just do it for my own safety not because I think those people are nuts and not worthy of being listened to. I just don’t know what some of them are capable of and I avoid confrontation anyway so I’m not exactly inclined to get into a fight with someone on the train.

*Just a quick note: If you wear headphones, don’t forget to stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the people around you. Plus, you might need to listen to the train conductors announcements once in a while so be wary of that too.

There are oftentimes announcements that run across the screen on the train giving you warnings from the NYC police department just reminding everyone to keep their belongings with them at all times and watch for suspicious activity. The thing most tourists worry about with riding the subway is getting their shit stolen. Despite how rare that is, it is a reality. Be smart, keep your stuff close to you, and always in your sight, especially when it comes to carrying groceries or other shopping acquisitions home with you. Open bags are an easy target for pick-pocketers too, just as a general note. Don’t go all “clutching your bag for dear life” on people because that’s another way to direct attention to yourself. Act natural, but be mindful.

Most things about the subway, we just cannot control. The delays, the skipped stops, the smells and more importantly, the temperature. The train cars are all air conditioned, nice right? Yeah, sure. But the stations are hot as hell. Like unbearably hot sometimes. In the summer its terrible because you’ve already walked to the station in the heat and then once you get underground it just kicks up another 5 degrees. In the colder months it the opposite. You walk round on the street level with your fall jacket or your winter parka. But once again, you get down into that station and its a goddamn sauna. You really can’t win here, I’m just gonna be honest with you. So mentally prepare yourself for profuse sweating and uncomfortable stickiness.

Comment below if you have a good public transport story and share this post to save a life!

Thanks for reading!

How To Stay Fit in NYC

I’m a big fan of the gym. I’m also a big fan of running, so being able to find time to do either of those things has been a bit of a struggle when trying to balance a job, time with friends, schlepping back and forth from Brooklyn on the subway everyday and having some alone time as well.

Obviously it’s not hard to stay active when you live in a city that never sleeps. And when theres always something to do, you just kind of get a workout in without thinking about it. But when it boils down to it, some of us want to hit the gym or get a good run in anyway, so here’s some tips on how to do that.

1. Walk whenever you can, but not to an extreme.

Walking is great for burning calories and getting your heart rate up, especially if you’re dragging around groceries or your giant purse loaded with everything you need to survive in NYC. (See my post 5 Things to Never Leave Your Apartment Without) So walk when you can. Get off a stop early on the train when it’s only a few extra blocks to your destination. Walk to a store that’s a little farther from home instead of the one right around the corner. But remember not to over-do it. New York can get super hot in the summer, as I’ve learned. And with all the tall buildings and tons of people, there really isn’t much air flow here so be careful not to give yourself a heat stroke from too much walking. At the end of the day, cardio is the best way to burn fat, so walking is a great way to stay in shape.

2. Find cool places to workout that isn’t the gym.

I never minded running on a treadmill in order to get a run in. And the gym can have other equipment that’s nice to use once in a while. But that can get boring. Or, in my case, your gym can get super over crowded and have tons of broken treadmills that make it almost impossible to even find one to use. So, what my sister and I love to do is find other fun places to go for a walk or a run that gets us out of our boring gym routine and into the New York air (despite how dirty it may be at times.)

My current top 3 recommendations for outdoor places to run/walk are:

  • Chelsea Piers: This is super beautiful to run/walk at when it’s closer to sunset. The views are amazing and it’s less crowed than it would be in the daytime (plus a little cooler cause you get a nice breeze off the water). It’s a great path that’s safe and has tons of space so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck behind slow pedestrians. Highly, highly recommend. I love it here.
  • Maria Hernandez Park: This park has recently become one of our favorite places to walk or run. It was actually recommended to us by a friend that lives in our neighborhood. The setup is much like an outdoor track and even has markers to let you know that 1 lap= 1/3 mile, so that’s pretty cool. The part I enjoy the most is that it’s always full of people hanging out, playing sports on the basketball and volleyball courts, kids playing on playgrounds and tons of other runners. Definitely worth checking out if you live or work nearby.
  • Central Park: I haven’t had a chance to go for a run in Central Park but it doesn’t take much convincing that this is, no doubt, a beautiful park. And based on the countless movies and shows where people go for a run here, it’s a hit among all New Yorkers. I for sure can’t wait to get some miles in here and give my official feedback on it.

3. Turn everyday tasks into a workout

Carrying your groceries home, lugging laundry to the laundromat or even just walking a little farther to the next subway station can turn a mundane task into some form of exercise. We so often just skip the gym or say we’ll go tomorrow and feel guilty about it when instead, we can use everyday tasks as a way of burning calories. Again, make this something you do consciously but not to an extreme. Don’t ever force yourself beyond your physical limits just because you feel bad about not making it to the gym on a very busy Wednesday. Celebrate the victory of walking a few extra blocks to the train stop or carrying a few heavy bags of groceries home. I know for me, sometimes the constant pressure to swipe that little membership card weighs on me and I feel bad for not putting in effort. But in different ways, I am putting in the effort. And sometimes nontraditional forms of exercise can be so much more fun than walking on a treadmill and staring at a cement wall. So don’t discount the simple ways you can get in a workout when you’re just too busy to make it to the gym. Any effort (no matter how small) is better than no effort at all.

I hope this post gave you some ideas on how you’ll stay fit in NYC or any other big city. Feel free to share this with a friend, or leave me a comment and let me know your tricks on how you stay in shape. I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!

5 Things to Never Leave Your Apartment Without

When you move from a small town in upstate New York to one of the biggest cities in the world, you have no choice but to learn fairly quickly,immediately, how to survive in such a place. It didn’t take me long to figure out what I absolutely could not leave my apartment without unless I was wishing ill will upon myself. So here’s the 5 things I never leave without, no matter how heavy my bag may get. Trust me, your shoulder may ache, but your little NY heart will thank you.

#1- Umbrella

I can’t tell you how many times (ok, I will tell you. Literally EVERY time) I’ve looked at the weather, saw that there was no rain in the forecast, and left my umbrella sitting on the shelf in my closet. New York does this funny thing where it just decides to be unpredictable and a day that is meant to be sunny and 89, can turn into a rainy mess within an hour. And that hour always happens to be the one where I need to walk home from the train station. In order to avoid taking an unwanted outdoor shower, I carry my umbrella with me everyday. I don’t care if there’s not a cloud in sight, that baby is going in my bag. Plus, here in New York we’re weird and we use our umbrellas not only when it rains, but when it’s too sunny, too windy, or even when it’s snowing. So toss it in there, it can’t hurt to be prepared.

#2- Your Metrocard

If you’re like me and you’re poor af, you don’t have money to drop on cabs or Uber everyday. So you take the subway, which requires that good ol’ Metrocard we know and love. That dumb, flimsy piece of yellow and blue laminated paper (or whatever it’s made of, I have no idea) is your lifeline. Nothing is more annoying than realizing halfway to the train that you forgot it, or even worse, getting all the way there and having to stand in a long ass line to get a single ride ticket or a new Metrocard. Not to mention the $1 fee for the new card and then whatever amount you need to add after that. Save yourself the trouble and choose a safe place to always keep it. After you swipe it through, make sure it goes right back to where it was (I keep mine in it’s own slot in my wallet. Don’t just throw it in your bag. That just increases your chances of losing it).

#3- GUM (or some kind of breath freshener)

You never know who you’ll meet on the streets of New York; a celebrity, your boss, a future partner, or maybe someone who’s skeptical of the dental hygiene of New Yorkers. Keeping gum or any kind of breath freshener with you assures that if by some chance you meet someone worthy of conversation, they won’t smell that Chipotle rice bowl you just had for lunch. ‘Nuff said on that subject.

*Pro-tip: One of the most long lasting flavors of gum is Trident. I learned this from a friend at work and after my own testing, found it to be pretty damn true.

#4- Your favorite pair of headphones

Mine happen to be the plain Apple headphones you get with a new IPhone. I’ve added some Earhoox to mine because it helps keep them in place while I run. For some reason my ears just don’t hold earbuds as well as other peoples’. Headphones can make or break it for you in the city because we do a lot of waiting around. Waiting in lines, waiting for trains, sitting/ standing on trains, trust me, it gets boring. Most of us listen to music or podcasts while we do this waiting. Plus it’s also helpful to talk on the phone to people with them, so grab a pair that has a microphone. When your hands are full, it’s much easier to talk hands free than with a phone shoved up to your face. Oh and the best part about headphones is that they’re the universal sign for “Don’t talk to me” or “I’m not hearing a word you’re saying”.

Buy the Earhoox here, I love mine: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MXMTELG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

#5- A positive attitude

Okay, okay, I know I’m getting a little cliché here, but this is just as important as the other four things. New York is a busy place and you can’t let little hang ups ruin your day. So always leave with a positive attitude in order to make it in the Big Apple. Sometimes things can get a little hectic or overwhelming, I admit to letting stress get to me once in a while. But we have to step back and look at the bigger picture sometimes. I’m living in an amazing city, one that I’ve dreamed of living in for so long. At the end of the day, I get to see things some people will only ever see in photographs. I get to walk these streets and call them home. So chill, just take in the sights and the experiences. They are what shape us as people, after all.

Oh Hey…

Oh hey,

Welcome to my blog.

I guess introductions are in order then, huh.

Well my name is Haley, and I’m the writer of this blog. Or what will be a blog at some point. Right now it’s a little rough around the edges, but stick with me. I’ve wanted to start a blog for a long time now for a few reasons.

Reason 1: I enjoy writing purely for fun. I always have. I was that weird kid in school that liked writing essays because it was an excuse to put pen to paper (yes, I’m a little old. We wrote our essays with pen and paper). Once I got into college, I took a few creative writing classes and explored more of my love for writing. And ever since, I’ve been searching for a reason to keep doing it.

When you say “I wanna start a blog”, you kind of have to have an idea of what you actually want to write about. You can’t start a blog without a theme or a topic in mind. And after lots of thinking and brainstorming, I found something that I would be passionate about writing, which brings us to another reason I wanted to start a blog.

Reason 2: There have been many things I have experienced in life that I have looked back on and thought, “wow, I really wish I had been able to read about other peoples exact experience with (insert life event here)”. So that’s exactly what I want to write about. I want to be able to offer others the kind of advice I wish was available to me when I was going through a rough time. And not just the fluffy, positive advice either. I want to be able to give the whole picture, the good and the bad. Being able to recount my experiences, in all their traumatic glory, might help someone out there who is struggling through something I have already gotten past.

So welcome to my blog. I hope you stick around and I hope the type of advice and stories I post will be of some help to you or someone else in your life.

That’s all for now.