Planning the Perfect Vacation (Mini Series)

VACAY

This will be another mini-series and I will share my experience and tips that I found useful when planning my upcoming vacation. Everyone in life can benefit from travelling and relaxing. Although it takes some time and research; it is well worth it!

So you’ve decided that it’s time to take a break from the old 9 to 5 grind. To you, I say good for you! It’s definitely important to take care of yourself while striving towards a work-life balance and allowing yourself to live a little.

There are a few steps that are key to the vacation planning process.

Choose Your Destination

It’s good to choose 3 to 4 places you would like to travel to. The world is such a beautiful place so geographically it depends on what you want to get out your trip. My husband and I wanted to go somewhere hot and sandy so we narrowed it down to Mexico, Cuba and Dominican Republic. Choosing your perfect vacation spot comes down to recommendations from friends and family,

Set a Budget (and Stick to It)

Generally sites and travel companies offer packages that include the flight, meals, drinks and transfers. It is very important to set a budget and not go overboard. You should have a general idea of how much you want to spend per person. The most popular package is the all-inclusive which includes flights, transfers, meals and drinks; the best bang for your buck. It helps to choose up to a maximum of 4 different websites or sources to make your comparisons, anything more than that becomes overwhelming.

Decide Travel Time

So you have a few destinations in mind and a budget. Next, decide when you would like to take the trip. Obviously there are months where travel rates are cheaper than others but it is up to you. Generally for hot countries, peak travel times are from Mid December to Mid-March when most children will be on their break. It is a good idea to start looking for tickets a few months in advance as prices fluctuate daily. It was somewhat stressful watching the great differences in prices only to feel a constant need to check other sites. 

How many days would you like to travel for? How much time off can you take from work? .Will you be travelling with/without children? Are you travelling in a large group or just as a couple?These are all helpful when determining the realistic length of your vacation.

Do Your Research

My husband and I decided to go to Cuba for 7 days. At first I was extremely against travelling to any hot, sunny destinations because of the zika virus especially since I had an early miscarriage a few months ago. However, after much thought and the likelihood of infection I decided that it’s now or never. So with that we are taking precautions to protect ourselves from the bugs and critters we may encounter.

In my next post, I will cover topics such as: Ratings, Extras and Reviews.

I would love to read about your experiences with vacations and all inclusive resorts! Comment below! 

Stay strong and beautiful!

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Gratitude Challenge

The best attitude to have towards anything in life is gratitude…

When you are grateful, you are in a blessed state of mind. So to start the new year, I committed to having an attitude of gratitude each day of the month. Whether it be to thank God or the Universe, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for.

January 1, 2017: I am thankful that I am alive. It is such an amazing time to be alive. I vow to live more and take life more seriously.

January 2, 2017: I am grateful for friends and family. Without my friends and family I would not be where I am today. The constant push that I get from them is incredibly motivating.

January 3, 2017: I am grateful that I have a roof over my head. I am currently living with my in-laws with my husband. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful that I have such a great relationship with each person in our household.

January 4, 2017: I am so thankful today for a speedy recovery after my miscarriage; my body is healing and it shows.

January 5, 2017: I am honoured to be able to enjoy the comfort of being able to take charge of my life and to learn from my mistakes.

January 6, 2017: Today I am just so happy and blessed that I am close with my family and cousins; what a great time we had tonight.

January 7, 2017: Thank you for my family’s health; I know that health is never to be taken for granted.

January 8, 2017: Thank you for opening up my eyes, I truly felt your grace today. Your message at church was so relevant to my life, I felt as if you were speaking to me directly.

January 9, 2017: Thank you for my older sister; there are so many lessons that I have learned from her.

January 10, 2017: Thank you for allowing my husband and I to celebrate today; I can’t believe it’s already been 4 months.

January 11, 2017: Thank you for the magnificent man I get to call my husband. I am so lucky to have met him and to be married to him. He truly pushes me to be a better person and I am so appreciative of his honesty (as harsh as it may be at times).

January 12, 2017: Thank you for all the dogs in my life, Each one of you bring me so much joy and always put a smile on my face with your weird behaviours.

January 13, 2017: Thank you for guiding me to some new apps to keep my health and fitness in check….also thank you for technology.

January 14, 2017: Thank you for showing me a glimpse into my passion. It’s days like this I love.

January 15, 2017: Thank you for allowing me to receive ample blessings from the Evangelist today. I look forward to what you have in store for me.

January 16, 2017: Today I feel blessed that I am able to trust those around me and truly value each of their opinions.

January 17, 2017: Thank you for the boost of confidence I received today; every bit is helpful in regaining my confidence.

January 18, 2017: Thank you for putting the right people in my life. I really appreciate the path you have set up for me.

January 19, 2017: Thank you for allowing me to help others; it gives me such joy when I can make a difference in someone’s life.

January 20, 2017: Thank you for reshaping me and never giving up on me. I strive for consistent and meaningful improvements in my life.

January 21, 2017: Thank you for lessening my fears today. I am so grateful for all the lessons you have taught me. I am slowly beginning to have faith in myself again.

January 22, 2017: Thank you for giving me the strength to improve and for showing me that failure is part of success.

January 23, 2017: Today I walked a lot and though my feet hurt I am so blessed for my body and the ability to walk and run.

January 24, 2017: Today I share the joy and happiness of my newly engaged BFF! Thank you for sending her someone who is truly meant for her and makes her so happy.

January 25, 2017: Today I slept in and it felt great. Thank you for letting me rest today.

January 26, 2017: Today I  went to dinner with two of my girlfriends. Thank you for sending me such dear friends to share this journey of life with me.

January 27, 2017: Thank you for allowing me to be so productive today. I feel motivated when I make progress.

January 28, 2017: Thank you for the extra me time today. I was able to read my book in peace and it was very relaxing.

January 29, 2017: I am so grateful for the health of my family and friends. Thank you for taking such good care of my loved ones.

January 30, 2017: Thank you for the gift to learn. I know what I need to do and will begin to apply self-discipline and ultimately master it.

January 31, 2017: Thank you so much for allowing our closing to go smoothly. We move into our new place very soon and are very excited!

Thank you God for all of these sweet and unbelievably precious blessings.

What are you thankful for today? Would you be able to come up with at least one thing to be grateful for each day?

Stay strong and beautiful!

 

 

 

Our New Place

A couple weeks ago my husband and I met with an amazing realtor. We discussed that we would like to purchase a condo and move out of our in laws place.

We couldn’t believe how competitive the condo market was. Units sold within 5 DOM (days on market) and we went to check out a few in different areas. Our checklist was pretty simple, we required:

1. A place that was close to a bus stop or a subway station;

2. At least one bedroom anything more was a bonus;

3. One parking space and a locker;

4. Something that would be easily rented down the line;

5. An area that would hold its value;

6. A good area with a safe neighbourhood;

7. A unit with functionality; namely the kitchen;

8. Well lit, clean and spacious;

9. Within our budget; and

10. Close to the highway for commuting to work.

We were reluctant to purchase a condo since there are monthly maintenance fees. We thought about it long and hard. After several discussions, we decided that we could stay at our in-laws for another year or two and save up for a townhouse or we could just bite the bullet and go for it. After I found out we were pregnant I was extremely stressed about raising our child at our in-laws. I didn’t want that to be the case. After my miscarriage, my eyes were opened and I began to see all the preparation that goes into raising a child. I saw this as the first step to starting our future family.

We are so excited that we found a unit so fast….3 days to be exact. The condo met all of our requirements and bonus it has a small den as well. It all happened so fast in the past we have gone house shopping but it was for investment and a house so there were no emotions attached.

I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got the unit and I’m even more thrilled about how soon we will be moving in.

We will be moving the first week of February. I’m eager to move in and have already started to purge what we don’t need and packing what we do.

In a future post, I’ll share tips for choosing a condo that’s right for you and how to: packing and moving from a house into a condo.

How has 2017 been for you so far?

Stay strong and beautiful!

10 Things I Learned by 30

  1. Start saving up for your future early. I wish someone had told me to save more and be smart with my money. Especially with the high costs of real estate today; it is important to start when you’re younger. This seems a bit challenging because attending post secondary often leaves you in a big, fat pile of student debt or loan. If you are fortunate enough to borrow money from the bank from your family/parent(s) then consider yourself lucky and already a few steps ahead.
  2. Never stop learning and improving. If I had one regret it’s that I stopped teaching myself new things. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve…think forward and don’t dwell on the past.
  3. Go to school to develop your social networking skills and to build relationships. I know far too many people who graduate with a degree and don’t even use it…(myself included). Even though school seems useless when you can’t find a job…it teaches you fundamental social skills that you will use throughout your life.
  4. Build good habits, bad habits are always harder to break and change.
  5. Listen to your parents, they mean well…even though at the time it seems that they are ruining your life.
  6. Learn to trust in yourself and have faith that things will work out….worrying achieves nothing and wastes time and energy. Put yourself out there and take chances on yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself…who will?
  7. Express yourself…don’t be afraid to stay true to who you are and speak up when you feel strongly about something that affects your values. You will never make everyone happy so focus on your own happiness.
  8. Be kind to others…acts of kindness never go unnoticed. Do things because you want to not because you want something in return.
  9. Never settle for less than you can be. In order to be successful there has to be a fire inside that drives you to push yourself and get you to the next level. Create that fire by practicing self discipline and there won’t be anything that you can’t do.
  10. Think before doing…speaking and acting. There’s no harm in taking your time to make a decision. Build up your mental strength so that you base your decisions on logic not emotion.

What wisdom can you share from your life experiences?

Stay strong and beautiful!

      Another Year Gone By

      I cannot believe that it is already 2017! Where did the year go?

      2016 has definitely been filled with lots of happiness and love as well as some sadness. All in all it was an amazing year and I pray that everyone has a 2017 full of life, lessons and love.

      I am so grateful for everyday that I am alive. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for my husband and I.

      Happy New Year everyone and have a lush life in 2017! Thank you for all your support in 2016, I am so thankful to all of you.

      What are your goals for 2017?

      Stay strong and beautiful!

       

       

      With Loss, Comes Lessons

      Life is so amazing; one minute you are so happy and in awe of its beauty and the next, it’s taken away from you and you are left to suffer, grieve, learn from it and eventually move on. This year has been a fast one to say the least.

      If you asked me how I thought 2016 would turn out; I wouldn’t know what to say. Now having lived through it I can say it has been one of the best years of my life; filled with so many joys, challenges, and lessons. Starting with getting engaged on New Years Eve 2015, to getting married in September 2016. A lot has happened in the span of a year and I am grateful and truly thankful that each one of these events happened.

      I was working an amazing job in Alberta and then got subsequently laid off. The lesson that I learned was the importance of family. I moved back to Ontario with my at the time fiance and was able to spend time with friends and family again. Shortly after, we bought an investment property and decided in June that we wanted to get married this year. A few short months of planning and running around to different vendors, we got married on our 8 year anniversary, September 10, 2016. A couple of weeks later, my husband and I learned that we were expecting. We were a bit overwhelmed but at the same time extremely happy and excited. I had no idea and meanwhile fell sick with the flu not once but twice, I felt so weak and tired all the time but didn’t know why. Then I took a test and everything made sense.

      From the second I found out I was pregnant, I took precaution with everything I did and ate. I was sick with the flu so I couldn’t take any medication for it and just sucked it up.

      As life often does, a curveball was thrown and that beautiful little blessing turned into a loss. At 7 weeks I got my first ultrasound and was told to come back in 2 weeks to see if things had progressed. Nothing happened and I was diagnosed with a  blighted ovum miscarriage and my life hasn’t been the same ever since. I was told that there was no fetal pole just an empty sac. I was prescribed Misoprostol to help move things along.

      It was the worst pain ever, I thought I was having contractions. It felt like TOM cramps but amplified by 100. I wasn’t prepared for this and was caught off guard when it happened. Leave it to the doctors with poor mannerisms to act like it wasn’t that big of a deal.

      After the misprostol treatment I was told there was still remaining tissue stuck inside. I was then scheduled for a procedure called dilation and curettage (D&C). The procedure left me feeling crampy and a bit sore but the worst part was that it was so close to Christmas eve; the time when I had been planning to announce my pregnancy.

      I am still in the middle of processing and accepting it but I know in the end that everything happens for a reason and that God has a better plan for me.

      Instead of being bitter and emotional, I am trying to approach this from a logical point of view. I don’t see this as someone being taken away from me but as an opportunity to better prepare myself for the time when it will happen.

      As my heart heals, I am taking steps I need to take to get my health and mind back to a good place.

      This situation has taught me so much over the past few months. I think I felt like what it would be like to become a mother and be responsible for raising a small human and teaching them to be a good person.

      Of course, it still breaks my heart whenever I see a pregnant woman, baby, small child or pregnancy announcements and ultrasounds I have faith that my time to become a mother will come and I will appreciate it even more.

      I also know that things can always be worse and so I am grateful as well that it happened when it did and not later in the pregnancy. From the pregnancy, I learned that I have a large cyst on my ovary and would not have known otherwise so it forced me to address this issue and to handle it before it got out of hand.

      Miscarriage in any form, is a sad and unfortunate topic and situation to be in but it happens all too often and needs to be talked about more openly. When it happened to me I couldn’t help but think it was my fault and that I could have done something to prevent it; I felt like my body had failed me and I kept blaming myself.

      Over the past month or so I have convinced myself to believe that God allowed this to happen so that something even greater will come of it in the future.

      Have you ever experienced a loss that changed your life? Please share your story and comment.

      Stay strong and beautiful!

      Wake Up!

      Health is Everything

      Today I decided that I wanted to embark on a new journey filled with fitness and health. After some recent events, I have established that it’s now or never; because once you lose your health, it’s hard to get it back.

      I got a serious wake up call a few weeks ago, that well has changed my life forever. I learned the importance of health and that I need to take it seriously this time.

      Work it Off

      To start I am going to create and follow a 30 minutes daily fitness regimen that will include Foam Rolling and a combination of Pilates and Yoga. I bought my roller here. I’d never heard about rolling until my friend told me all about it and the benefits she’s experienced since she started.

      I think the key to sticking with exercising will be to not follow any one workout but to mix it up and make it up as I go and have fun while doing it. I’ve always gotten bored fast with workout videos because you get familiar with the people, the music and the moves.  To ensure that this time will be different I am reorganizing my life, eating habits and overall daily routine. 

      Mind Cleanse…Relax

      I am also going to start meditating everyday as well. This will help relax my mind and keep me focused on what’s important. I am done with negativity in my life and have continued to distance myself from those who constantly create drama and add no meaning to my life. An app that I have been using for meditation is Meditation Music. I love that it has a timer so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep or waking up just to turn it off.

      You Are What You Eat 

      My diet and food choices have not been optimal and so I will start to incorporate more veggies and fruits and whole foods into my meals. I will also increase the amount of water that I am drinking and eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout my day. I will not be using any calorie counting or weight loss apps as I usually get l obsessed with inputting all my meal details and end up constantly hungry. I also refuse to follow any type of ‘diet’ as doing so in the past has led me to gain even more weight and unhealthy choices.

      My Healthy Future

      I never want to feel or go through what I went through over the past couple weeks ever again. I understand that there is only so much that one can control but I can’t risk the chance of it happening again. So I will take the necessary measures and change my lifestyle for me and my future children.

      I used to think that I could get by in life eating whatever I wanted but after receiving the shock of my life I now understand that the way that I am currently living is unacceptable; changes MUST be made.

      My goal is to lose a total of 30 lbs. in order to reach my healthy weight. I know that it won’t happen overnight. However, I believe with focus, self-discipline and hard work I will get there. Currently, I am not satisfied with my weight or how it makes me feel. So, I vow to do whatever it takes to feel more confident, happy and never give up!

      Here’s to a new and healthier lifestyle!

      Have you ever received a wake up call regarding your health?

      If so, what did you do to address it?

      Stay strong and beautiful!