Happy Birthday, America!

Happy 4th of July to all of you Americans out there! Today is definitely a great day for our country and one that should be celebrated to the fullest. So in the spirit of celebration, I am going to keep this blog post very short so that you can get back to your festivities.

Just food for thought…

The Fourth of July represents our nation’s Independence among many other things. One of those things that I want to touch today on is freedom. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognized more flaws in America’s government. This is not to say these flaws weren’t there before, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to question things simply because that is how we all learn, grow, and develop our own opinions.

I know everyone has an opinion about the current state of our government, among other things happening in America. I do too! But before you or anyone else decides not to wholeheartedly celebrate being apart of such a wonderful country, I just want to remind you that having an opinion, and being able to openly vocalize concerns about our government is a privilege. Here in America, it is our right, but in many places around the world, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I know America has a lot to fix. Many people who need to gain the equality that our Constitution speaks of (as a minority in more than one way, I am one of those people). But don’t think for one second you are not blessed to be a citizen of the USA, because, everyday people fight to get to America to make a better future for themselves and their families. Though sometimes, this land of opportunity only seems to be opportune for some and not as opportune for others, you could always be living in another country where opportunity isn’t even something to be discussed.

So with that said, I hope you have a great 4th! BBQ, wear red, white, and blue, go to the pool or lake, and light a few sparklers. But most importantly, remember how blessed you are to be in a country that, while it has a long way to go, is farther ahead than most.

Stationary For Any Occasion: Manis Paper Co.

Every once in a while you reach a place in life where your interests intersect with your passion. As a young creator, one of my passions is to promote other creators simply because collaboration and promoting others especially entrepreneurs, are two things I enjoy.

It’s hard to create. You literally start with nothing and makes something. It’s even harder to get people to buy into what you’re doing, let alone make a profit from it. But when I first saw Anneliese Manis’ work on Instagram I was sold!

Everyone swears that print is a dying art, and as someone who has studied journalism, I agree. But one thing that isn’t dying is the need for quality stationary. Are you confused yet? Let me explain.

A couple posts back I introduced my love for all things stationary (you can read about it here), and not much has changed since then. There is nothing like having a witty card to give on someone’s birthday, when they’re feeling down, or when spoken words just aren’t enough.

In my opinion, cards and stationary are little pieces of you that people get to keep. From the colors you choose, to the font, and more importantly the saying, a card says a lot about who you are and how you feel.

So as I scrolled through the Manis Paper Co. page on Instagram one night, I felt like I was seeing a little bit of Anneliese Manis and in some ways seeing a reflection of myself.


Manis Paper Co.

As a broke college student with a love for illustration, Anneliese Manis began the Manis Paper Co. in 2016. She said, “I made my first illustration and I developed such a love for it that I decided that was what I wanted to do.”

But wanting to start a business and actually doing so are two different things. As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurship, especially in the creative field, is no easy feat. But Anneliese definitely did her homework.

She said, “I really just started watching the other makers I really loved and really inspired me and kind of watched. A lot of them had a lot of behind the scenes. They’re very open about how they do their inventory; all the things that you need to know starting a business that’s really hard. I just wanted to do as much research as I could.”

Clearly that research and hard work has paid off because a year later the Manis Paper Co. is up, running and still growing.

As Manis continues to grow her side gig, her biggest goal for the future is to build up her product so that she can start selling whole sale.


The Designs

What is not to love? Bright, colorful, and a little corky, Manis’ greeting cards are sure to be well received by anyone you send them to. In particular I love her line of “Hello Gorgeous,” and “Hello Beautiful” cards. I think, they’re perfect for those days when your girlfriends need a pick-me-up.

 

 

 

I also couldn’t go without mentioning the, “You Slay Me,” card. Again, quite creative and corky. When I asked Manis what inspires her work she said, “I have a really crazy imagination. I love vintage photographs, classic children’s books, fantasy, all of that, and of course I’m inspired by the other makers around me that create on Etsy and Instagram.”

Mockup Practice2

Well, I can definitely see the things that inspire her in her work, and if you’re a fan of it as well,  I highly encourage you to check out her Etsy shop. Tell her I sent you! She can do custom prints, stationary, greeting cards, the list goes on.

File_000


Take Away

Ultimately, the Manis Paper Co. came to be through talent, passion and a vision. Creative entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but in many cases, it’s worth it. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a creative that hasn’t taken the leap yet, Manis says, “Just do it! Take that leap. Definitely be smart about it. Research. Watch the people that inspire you and that can help train you starting out. Don’t let money or equipment hold you back. It’s definitely possibly, you just have to work.”

So, there you have it folks. From one entrepreneur to another, you just have to take the leap. It’s scary, but worth it, and you’ll be inspiring others along the way.

For more information about Anneliese Manis and the Manis Paper Co., click here. Also, you can find her on Instagram at Manis Paper Co.

Screen shot 2017-06-24 at 11.27.59 PM

If you know of any other creatives or entrepreneurs that inspire you, have a great story to tell or you think I and others would enjoy hearing about, leave a comment below!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

App Appreciation: Mercari

Whether you just graduated and are figuring it out or have a full-time job with benefits, sometimes we all can use a little extra money. While the idea of minimalism sounds great, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will always have a handful, of things that I don’t need/use.

For example, I’ll clear out my closet just to buy new clothes. But during the process, a few of the pieces I decided to keep when clearing house become obsolete because my new items are just that great. Or in some cases, they are the same, newer, shinier versions of my old things. Oops!

Currently, I’m trying limit how often this happens, but until then, the one thing I’ll continue to do is get rid of the items that “do not bring me joy,” as Marie Kondo, author of, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, would say.

There are plenty of apps to use to get rid of your stuff and trust me, I’ve used almost all of them. But the app I’ve found to be the best and easiest way to sell my items is Mercari.

I know, I had trouble pronouncing it too, but seriously, using this app will change your life. You can declutter your space and make a decent amount of cash while doing so.

Mercari

 

Just for reference, this is the icon for Mercari that you can find in both the App Store and Google Play. Once you log on to the app, you are greeted with a banner, as well as items that are up for sale. Since I’ve used the app for quite some time now, a few of the things I’ve searched and liked appear under “my likes”.

If you look at the bottom of the screen, there is a dashboard. When you click on “sell” with the camera icon above it or “make money,” this is the screen that pops up.

IMG_1406

All you have to do is take a photo of your item (you can take up to four), name the item, and choose your shipping options.

When it comes to shipping you can choose to use USPS, FedEx or ship it yourself. They give you 3-4 priced (bases on size and weight) shipping options, as well as the option to pay for shipping yourself or to make the buyer pay.

Then that’s it!

It literally has never been so simple. No long descriptions are necessary, only four pictures are allowed, and in well under 12 clicks, you could be selling your stuff in no time.

IMG_1405

Once you have a few things listed, you’ll want to be able to control your account and respond to buyers. You can respond to buys using the “chat” button at the bottom of the screen and can view your account by clicking, “my page.”

From “my page,” you can see all aspect of your account, and more importantly get to the money you’ve made through selling. Just click “balance,” and from there you can request a direct deposit.


So it really that simple folks. As I said before, I’ve tried so many apps and websites to sell items I no longer use, and Mercari is my top choice. You can sell anything, not just clothes, and they only take a 10% sales fee, which is better than most apps.

So I hope that I’ve convinced you to at least check out the app and begin to embrace, or in my case, kind of embrace minimalism.

If you plan on downloading the app at all use the code, SZHUNY. It’s my invite code and you’ll automatically get $2 and I will too! Winking Face on Apple iOS 10.3

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

I didn’t post last week for two reasons. 

The first being that my blog post last Thursday, “A Word On Relationships…,”, left me feeling emotionally drained, but in the best way. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I blog because I love it and because it can be helpful to others. But also, much of what I write about is relatable because I’m either going through it or have recently.

Usually, I choose to write about situations that I have recently gone through because they leave me feeling less emotionally drained, but my last post on relationships was a situation I was currently going through and was probably the most candid I’ve ever been on this blog. In my opinion, that post is my best and most genuine work so far.

With that said, writing about losing friends after college was very real for me, and that post was as close to a personal diary or journal entry as it gets. So, to say the least, I was emotionally drained and couldn’t think of any other topics to follow-up with for the next week. I needed a break to gather myself.

The second reason is that I was overwhelmed, in yet again the best but most anxiety provoking way possible. My daily to-do lists were long, but let’s be honest, after being a varsity college athlete and graduating a year early I’ve definitely had longer ones.

I felt like I could barely stay above water, and after taking some time to evaluate why last week was so overwhelming, I realized that it was because I pushed myself out of comfort zone.

The saying goes “Nothing good happens inside your comfort zone.”

I definitely believe that growth begins when you step outside of what you know; therefore, some of the better things in life happen outside of your comfort zone. But that is so much easier said than done. I mean who doesn’t want to be comfortable?

As a creature of habit, pushing myself outside of my norm is something I avoid at all costs. If I’m honest, I try to limit “getting out of my comfort zone” to a once a week ordeal, if that.

I do that because I literally become exhausted and fatigued from the high levels of anxiety I endure when I do take that leap. Yup, you heard it correctly, going outside of my comfort zone is the equivocate of a tough (mental) workout for me. 

So since that’s how I feel towards discomfort, it is no surprise why last week took everything out of me. It felt as though every day I was either out of my comfort zone or preparing to be.

Much of what I was working on was video and photography related. In due time, the final product of last week will be shown on this blog, but to give you some perspective, I was producing a short documentary/interest piece. The stressful thing was, I was the producer, camera (wo)man, in charge of lighting and audio, and am currently in the midst of post-production. To put it simply, I was and still am a one (wo)man show.

Creating quality video content for this blog has been a dream of mine since the beginning and it’s good to know that this dream is weeks away from being realized. But the process of actually turning dreams into reality is uncomfortable and overwhelming.

At some point, you have to stop talking about it and actually start doing something. This last week and weekend I did exactly that, and I sure am glad I did. Despite the discomfort, uneasiness, anxiety, etc., I was able to finally put what I have been thinking about since December 2016 into action, and it was a great feeling.

If you’re sitting on your dreams, I highly encourage you to get up and act upon them. It’s not comfortable, it’s definitely overwhelming and you might second guess yourself along the way, but that small act of doing, whether it turns out like you envisioned it or not, teaches you so much, gives you confidence and gets you one step closer to your ultimate goal.

Sometimes you have to be overwhelmed and out of your comfort zone to be your best self and create your best work. I encourage you to push yourself to do so.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

A Word on Relationships…

Learning how to maintain friendships after undergrad has allowed me to discover what it takes to feed all of the relationships in my life. But before I get to that, let me take it way back.

The History

Do you remember when you were younger, and everyone was your “friend”? Well, maybe not everyone because some people had cooties, but everyone else. You literally referred to all of your peers as your “friend.” Interesting, right?

Somewhere down the line, and many years later, you became more than capable at differentiating what kinds of friendships are in your life. You have acquaintances, friends, and then your best friend(s). Note the difference.

Your acquaintances, well, you just know them. If you saw them on the street you’d, give them a wave, a head nod, and maybe even have a quick conversation.

Your friends are the people you see on what seems to be a regular basis, and you have a good amount in common.

But your best friend(s), you guys are inseparable. You talk to them about almost everything, and in some cases, they know you better than you know yourself.

At this point, you’re “grown,” whatever that means, and you understand that all of these relationships take a different level of effort to maintain. You spend more time and energy on your best friends than your friends, and the same can be said for acquaintances.

But then you graduate. As exciting as that is, it causes you to reevaluate the relationships in your life without even knowing it. You move off to wherever, to do whatever, and all of a sudden you don’t see your acquaintances, friends, and most importantly your best friends every day anymore.

The Lesson

This is where the friendship learning curve begins. Think of it as a pop quiz you didn’t prepare for. For the longest time, your friends were within arms distance of you.

If you needed to talk, well, you’d see them tomorrow. If there was a point of conflict, you could always go over and work things out. If you wanted to celebrate, you called an Uber and hit the nearest bar. But now, it’s not so simple.

Discussing your day or your week is phone call that has to be scheduled on the calendars of two extremely busy people. You’re not around each other anymore, so the go to conversation about mutual events doesn’t really apply, and you both have changed a lot since the last time you saw one another in person. Maybe what they find entertaining doesn’t pique your interest anymore. Or maybe where you see yourselves in the future doesn’t align. Now what?

You built such a strong foundation for your friendship, but time, space and growth are tearing it apart.

This is where the hard questions come in, but none as hard as this one.

Is this relationship worth investing your time in anymore?

While this question could be answered with one word, it’s usually not. There is so much that goes into giving a definitive answer. But it’s something you have to ask and answer for yourself.

I’ve had to ask myself this question many times in the past year, which is why the experience of maintaining relationships after college has helped me better understand what it takes to sustain all of the relationships in my life.

The Take-Away

It all comes down to effort. If you deem a relationship worth investing in and/or fighting for, then that’s what you’ll do, and hopefully, that person will do the same for you. It’s tough to keep friendships going once there is space between you. Sometimes it’s just as hard when you’re geographically close, but your schedules don’t align.

With that said, many times these inconveniences become our biggest excuses as to why either person does not want to put effort into the relationship anymore. Again, if you deem a relationship important enough to you, you’ll find a way to make time for it, and if the other person does too, they will do the same. People make time for what’s important to them.

This is why, if you feel like your efforts are not being reciprocated, it might be time to have a conversation or downgrade the status of the relationship all together. That just means you’ll give less effort to that relationship overall, because you’re not as close as you once were.

Whether it’s calling your parents every week, planning a FaceTime date with your best friend, or an actual date with your significant other, all relationships require effort. But as circumstances change, the effort you’re willing to put in to maintain the relationship weighed against what the relationship means to you must be evaluated.

What can I say, it’s part of being an adult and truly adulting.

So with that said, no matter where you are in your life, recent grad, full on adult, high school student, etc. this lesson is applicable. I hope through this blog post you are inspired to better define the relationships in your life and figure out which ones are and are not worth your time and effort.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

Mid-Year Review

Hello, Readers! It’s June, which is crazy! It’s really hard to believe that we are almost half way through 2017 already. This year is definitely flying by! Before you know it, it’ll be the holidays, and we’ll be celebrating the first days of 2018.

With all of this said, now is a great time to revisit the goals you set for yourself in January and see what progress you’ve made. It might even be an excellent opportunity to create an entirely new set of goals to finish off the year.

Now, this mid-year review could go one of three ways.

1. You could be steadily on your way to accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself in 2017.

2. You could not have accomplished any so far and really need this time to regroup, or you’re like me, and you’re somewhere in between.

3. You’re like me, and you’re somewhere in between.

If you’re steadily on your way to accomplishing everything you set out to do, congrats! That’s awesome, and I commend you for begin disciplined and putting in the work, but this blog post isn’t really for you.

This post is for everyone else who might be struggling to check things off because if I’m honest, most of us have faltered on our way to achieving our goals. I know I have.

At the beginning of the year, like many, I created a list of things that I wanted to accomplish. Some were written down, others were just a mental note, but of those 10 things, I have accomplished one of them.  Yup, you read it right, just one. That one thing is this blog.

If your track record is anything like mine, it would be easy to get discouraged and think, “It’s been six months, and I’ve only done one thing?” Instead, I encourage you to practice grace with yourself.

There are so many things that I have done this year that weren’t on my list of goals, but I’d known I’d have the opportunity to accomplish them, I would have written them down. Take some time to think of those things for yourself and don’t be afraid to give yourself a little credit.

But moving forward, break down the goals you have left. There are goals that I have started and realized that finishing them might not be in the cards for this year, but maybe in the coming years.

There are others goals that I’ve let go because they don’t suit who I am now. A lot can change in six months. I’m not the same person I was in January, and I hope you aren’t either.

Finally, there are the goals that I just haven’t accomplished yet for one reason or another. Maybe the timing hasn’t been right, or the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. Maybe I’ve been too scared to truly pursue the goal(s), and I’ve talked myself out of it.

If that scenario sounds anything like you, I highly recommend that you find what motivated you to make that a goal for 2017 in the first place.

It’s no secret that it’s hard to stay motivated, especially for 365 days. If it were easy everyone would do it. But within the word motivate is the word motive. That’s essentially your why. Now is a perfect time to reevaluate if your “why” is important enough for you to see this goal to fruition.

I get it. Maybe 2017 hasn’t been the year you thought it would be, but you’ve only lived through half of it.

If my time in athletics taught me anything, it is that a short term memory is everything. Being able to take the lesson out of any situation, suppress excess emotions towards the situation and then move forward is so important.

That is how you have to approach the second half of this year, especially if the first half has been a bit of a disappointment.

Truthfully, as cliche as it sounds, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” If reaching your goals means anything to you, I’m sure you’ll find the motive that pushes you to achieve whatever bar you set for yourself on January 1st.

So take a deep breath and start evaluating. You still have time to make 2017 everything you thought it would be and more.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

Travel Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but there is something about a full flight that really stresses me out. The stress and anxiety are in full effect on flights where I have both a carry-on and a personal item. If you know me, that’s is all the time! I rarely check a bag, and if you listen to the advice of many travel experts, they’ll tell you to avoid doing so as well.

By only bringing a carry-on you’ll eliminate the chances of your luggage getting lost and can hit the ground running when you land. But nobody ever talks about the stress of bringing a carry-on onto a full flight.


It all starts at the beginning of the boarding process for me. As the gate attendants are getting their premier, skymile, platinum, gold, and whatever else they call their most valued customers through the boarding gate they make an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this will be a full flight. If you would like to check your roller bag to your final destination, please come to the gate desk.”

This statement usually makes me cringe because with my luck I’m in one of the last boarding groups. That means no overhead space for me. Also, full flight make me so uncomfortable. Maybe I’m claustrophobic, and I don’t know it, or maybe I simply don’t like the boarding process.

Does it ever feel like everyone who’s already seated is staring at you? It literally gives me anxiety just writing about it. Plus you have the pressure to move quickly because you don’t want to be the person holding up the whole boarding process.

This brings me to my main point. It’s so stressful to move quickly during the boarding process when there is no overhead space. You have to get creative, and hopefully, there is some space before you reach your seat. But if there isn’t, you have to walk toward the back to find some. Usually by then, flight attendants are telling you that the overhead bins in the back are full, and you should take whatever space you see available.

So you’re stuck with a rolling carry-on that’s kinda heavy, well mine always are, and you have to do that awkward “Excuse me. Pardon me,” song-and-dance back to the front until you can find space or can shuffle other people’s bags around to create space.

Let’s pause there. Some people are really protective of their bags. Once they put them in the bin they don’t want anyone else to touch them. For some people, this stands true even if they put their bag in the wrong way or could just shift it over a tad to create a little more space for someone else’s bag. This scenario has definitely happened to me, but most of the time people are pretty nice.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “You could have just checked the bag for free before boarding.” In some cases, if I know I’ll have time on my hands when arriving at my final destination, I will. But most of the time I don’t have time and checking a bag would defeat the purpose of me fitting my whole life into a carry-on in the first place.

So instead I uses these three trips to deal with my full flight and carry-on anxiety.

1. Talk to your gate agents about possible upgrades, or changing your group number.

Sometimes you just have to turn on the charm. A big smile and bright eyes never hurt anybody. The worst they can say is no, but usually, they’re pretty accommodating. By upgrading your seat or changing your group number, you most likely will be able to board earlier without all of the hassle, and most importantly,when there is more overhead space.

2. Ask about courtesy/valet bag checking?

This is where you get a tag and leave your bags at the end of the boarding tunnel right before you get on. Then at the end of that specific flight, you line up to retrieve your bag just outside of the plane doors. This is way more convenient than check a bag because it’s generally quicker, free and saves you the anxiety of pacing the plane aisle looking for an overhead spot.

3. Board early anyway.

Now, I’m not super proud of this tip, but it gets the job done. I only recommend this if you notice your gate agent isn’t really looking at the tickets as they allow people to board. If they just scan them and let people go, then feel free to jump in with one of the earlier regular boarding groups. Flashing a smile to keep them from looking too heavily at your ticket is a good idea too.


While I know many of you are unbothered with boarding a full flight with carry-on luggage, I hope those of you who share my same travel anxiety and discomfort got a few ideas on how to navigate the situation. Feel free to leave tips on how you combat travel anxiety in the comments down below.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life!