About Me.

Find Your Way Back.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term ‘African American’, I typically identify as Black. I don’t have family in Africa, nor do I know where my family tree even began in Africa. Somewhere in West Africa, in the 18th century, my ancestors were abducted, sold & shipped to the U.S, right? But what does this mean? Do I have cultural ties to Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, or maybe Sierra Leone? This has sparked my curiosity for years.

I think I was exposed to ethnicity at a very young age. I grew up in a very diverse area, surrounded by Pacific Islanders, West Indians, & Latinx people. Many of these people looked like me, but they were often bilingual. I’m like, damn, you speak TWO languages?!

Here’s a funny, & slightly embarrassing story. When I was in the 4th grade, we did a project on our culture. I’ll be honest, I had no clue what that meant. Our assignment revolved around crafting our country’s flag. I knew what states my parents came from, but I was unsure of the country. Now, I had a friend who had dark skin, hair, & eyes just like me! However, she was Dominican….. well, that day, I was too! I had temporarily convinced myself that I was Dominican lol I didn’t know any better!

Since then, I’ve always desired a culture to embrace and connect with. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love Black American culture, I really do. I just despise the fact that our history always revolves around slavery, & segregation. It’s a very important part of Black history, but Black people are far more than slavery & lynching. Unfortunately, slavery has stripped away many cultural ties to Africa. Thankfully, modern technology has given us access to products that allow us reconnect with what we’ve missed out on. Black isn’t limited to African American. I wanted to learn more about my ancestral background & history. I mean, all Black people DO somehow come from Africa. My ancestors just so happen to have somehow migrate to the United States, West Virginia to be specific.

I had no clue where to start; there are SO many options when it comes to ancestral DNA testing. I did lots of research that involved comparing databases, cost, & user reviews. Ultimately, it was my brother who recommended African Ancestry to me. Although it was the most expensive option, they assured me that they had the largest African database. This means you’re more likely to get detailed results. Other companies will often guide you to a general region in Africa, while African Ancestry connects you to a particular tribe in a specific country.

On October 18, I ordered my ‘MatriClan Test Kit’, this test is for both men & women. The test uses your mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited by your mother) from your saliva to determine your ancestral roots. These results are beneficial for ANY blood relative on your mothers side of the family. The test ended up being a little over $300 with taxes. My package ended up arriving to my mailbox within a few days via USPS Priority Mail.

Inside the envelope; there were 6 swabs, 2 envelopes, competitor information, detailed directions, & a prepaid shipping envelope. They also emailed me a YouTube video that provides additional tips while clarifying the sampling instructions. After collecting the data, I shipped it back out on Friday, November 8. 10 days later on November 18th I got an email confirming African Ancestry received my swabs. Based off my calculations, the expected delivery date for my results is January 27! Let the waiting process begin……

Now, this is where things got a little complicated & annoying. The results were expected to come between January 13 & the 27th. I moved from Texas on February 1st. I expected to have my results by then, but they never came. I also never received any emails from African Ancestry notifying me that they were shipped. I was patient, very patient. I waited nearly 2 weeks before contacting the company via email. I reached out to explain I hadn’t received my results yet. They immediately responded saying they would reship them via 2 day delivery from FedEx to my new address. 1 week later, on Feb 21, still nothing. However, African Ancestry reached out to me asking if I had gotten anything yet. Which I appreciated them going out of their way to do so. This time they overnighted the results. Finally, I received them! Took about 14 weeks from the day they accepted my swabs. I assume this isn’t normal, most people get their results much sooner than this. Although I was eager & annoyed, their customer service was exquisite and it made up for the unfortunate delay.

Now to the fun part! This is a secret I kept from my entire family & it has been miserable! Me & my mom talk almost every 2 hours, so it wasn’t easy hiding this from her. I figured it would be a fun surprise for the entire family. I get to call my grandma, & my brother to join us while me, my mom & sister read the results together.

I opened the envelope, & I had received my certificate saying the company was 100% certain my ancestry ties back to the Tikar tribe currently living in Cameroon. This tribe migrated from Sudan. I’m unsure of what I expected, but I was excited to find out for sure!

Wanna know what’s the first thing I did after reading my results? I went on Pinterest to find Cameroonian recipes, of course! As a family, we all did our research to understand more about our new culture. I was excited to learn that French is widely spoken in modern day Cameroon. I took a semester of French in high school, so I’m already one step ahead of my family… I can introduce myself, and count to 10 in French!

Overall, I’ll say I’m happy with my results. Part of me wants to say it was expensive for what I received. The other part of me understands African Ancestry is a much smaller company than 23 & me, and ancestry . com. I also feel like the security of my DNA samples makes this process well worth it. The company ensured me that my information will never be distributed, because it is destroyed after my results are determined. I don’t know how this works for other companies, so I won’t speak on all that.

All I’ll say is, do your research. Decide which DNA testing company works best for you. Keep in mind, these results only reflect my maternal DNA, it’s quite specific. My great grandma’s, grandma’s, grandma’s, grandma’s, grandma was a part of the Tikar tribe. These results mean so much to me.

Best believe I’m about to show up & show out for my Cameroonian folk! Maybe I’ll be blessed enough to take a trip to the Motherland some day.

Would you consider DNA testing? What would you hope to find? For those of you who have done DNA testing, have you taken a trip to your country of origin?

I highly recommend finding out information that connects you to your cultural roots. Most Black Americans were stripped of that opportunity to know their ancestral origin. Find out where your bloodline began! We deserve to have that relationship!

What I Learned in Beauty School is…

Let me start by saying, this post is very LONG overdue.

A little over 2 years ago, I decided to enroll in beauty school. Let me tell you, this is something that is WAY out of my comfort zone. But I needed the challenge for myself. I needed to get out of the house, and build something for myself. I made the spontaneous choice to become a Licensed Esthetician.

I remember having acne when I was younger. Throughout middle and high school. My acne made me very self conscious & insecure. I would blur all of my photos to conceal my bumps and dark marks. I spent so much time and money buying products that would dry out my skin & make things far worse. I even used products that made my skin bleed! It was awful. Eventually my dermatologist prescribed me antibiotics, & steroid creams. They did help eliminate my acne & hyper-pigmentation, but at a cost. These products made my skin raw, & sensitive. Unfortunately, this was only a temporary fix. After years of suffering, I still couldn’t figure out how to maintain my problematic skin. Because this played a huge role in my lack of confidence, I knew I had to learn everything there is to know about skin.

I became a full time student at The Salon Professional Academy. Tuesday through Saturday, 9-5. Our dress code required us to wear all black attire, hair & makeup was mandatory. For those who know me, know I RARELY wear makeup & I prefer to spend most of my time in yoga pants. This wasn’t easy for me, however, I knew it would be good for my mental health. I needed something to look forward to. My mama always said ‘an idle mind is the devils workshop’.

We were a small class of  ladies. All with very very completely different, and strong personalities. We spent 35+ hours a week together for 6 whole months. We had an ongoing joke that our cycles would sync. It didn’t take long for us to become friends. It was pretty much necessary if we wanted to enjoy ourselves. We all had different goals, & skills. One was known for her bomb ass facials. She basically had clients lined up to get one! Another, was the notorious wax queen. Any free time she had, she used it to brush up on her technique! One more, the makeup artist of the group. Whether a bold lip, or an eccentric eye, she always changed it up! These ladies had obvious talents and ambitions. This somehow led me to feel like an outcast. I didn’t enroll in beauty school because I had dreams of owning a spa, or becoming a professional makeup artist. I just really wanted to learn about skin. I somehow began to question my decision to enroll. I was discouraged because I wasn’t sure where I fit in.26195939_1489540904492190_8156613144688109025_n.jpg

Our curriculum involved waxing, skincare, and makeup. The most common service we performed was the 60 minute facial. Double cleanse, exfoliation, massage, moisturize. My specialty was chemical peels, I absolutely loved doing them! Had I not gotten pregnant while I was in school, I would have become a Medical Esthetician. When it comes to skincare, I personally value health over vanity.

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I’ve learned from my instructors and my peers. I’ve learned how to push and challenge myself. I’ve learned time management. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be different. I’ve learned how to believe in myself even when nobody else does. I’ve learned to stop doubting my abilities. I’ve learned to quit comparing myself to everyone else. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do with yourself. I’ve learned that the beauty industry is a massive one, and there are infinite opportunities for us all. I’ve learned that this field is quickly growing, changing, and evolving. I’ve also learned that self care is far more than just a bubble bath & cheap wine.

Overall, I had to reevaluate what actually led me down this path to begin with; my personal struggles with my skin. I’m now on a journey to find effective and affordable beauty products that work for me.  This is something I want to share, in hopes of potentially helping someone else learn to love their skin. I’m convinced that beautiful, well-nourished skin doesn’t have to be expensive! While sampling and reviewing products, I want to educate people on ingredients, products, services, and techniques that will ensure beautifully healthy, glowing skin. Join me on my new Instagram — @esthi.ash

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Also, feel free to follow my esthi sisters on Instagram! @BombshellBrowsAndBodySA & @Jaxx_FairySkinMother

No Land in Sight

(Trigger Warning: Mental Illness)

Very rare that I post back to back, because I’m just super inconsistent and flaky. I just needed to write, it is so helpful when it comes to my mental health. Some of you may know that I struggle with mild depression. You could read more about that here. BUT because we are in the process of PCSing (moving from Japan to Texas), I’m now dealing with anxiety, which is triggering my depression and it is freaking awful. I have never had to deal with anxiety, except the occasional flare up while driving. This anxiety though, is disgusting and I feel terrible.

I’m just constantly worrying about everything you could imagine. The packers come tomorrow, and it’s unreal. It’s pretty difficult to decide which items we could live without for 6 weeks, what items we want to donate, and which items we need for our day to day life. It’s just so stressful to get everything organized. I’ve always had this strange obsession with things. I guess I have some mild hoarding tendencies (no I don’t collect dead mice or feces). I find sentiment in some things that most people will look past. I collect birthday cards, attraction tickets, I even have my very first paystub. I guess I’m kinda attached to my house. This is the first house I’ve ever lived in on my own, it was brand new, and it’s my home. Such an odd feeling to pack up all my things to relocate somewhere completely new. For some reason, writing takes my mind off of the tough part. It feels pretty good to write about it, instead of holding all the worry in. Honestly, I just don’t have many people who I can talk to, people who actually understand what I’m going through. So many people are uncomfortable talking about their mental health, possibly out of denial? I don’t know, I’m not a psychiatrist. Anyway, it is pretty sad that I’m so overwhelmed, I can’t even find time to be excited about moving. I want to be excited about moving.

Anxiety to me is: thinking of the worst possible outcome. It sounds crazy, and it kinda is. It’s like my brain is overthinking and causing me to doubt everything that I do. I’m thinking about things that could happen, but are completely unrealistic and they probably won’t ever happen.  Of course I’m well aware that my thoughts are very unreasonable, but it’s just the way my brain is choosing to process things right now. I read something that said, “Anxiety is like swimming in the ocean with no land in sight”. Now try to visualize yourself in that ocean………….. It’s extremely scary. You know the feeling when you’re unsure if you left the stove on when you leave the house? The feeling you get when you’re about to take a major exam in your worst subject. Imagine feeling that way for days on end. I feel like I’m constantly forgetting to do important things. Envision yourself in a maze, you’re walking around for hours trying to escape. The hours of walking turn into days, weeks, and you just can’t find an exit. I know there is an exit, I just haven’t found it yet.

I’m struggling pretty badly with my sleep schedule right now. Normally I go to bed at 10 pm, now I’m heading to bed around 4 am. The thing that sucks about that? I have a hard time sleeping when the sun comes up, so “sleeping in” for me, is sleeping until 9 maybe 10 if I’m hungover. Everyone is different, but my body functions much best when I get a full 9 hours of sleep. But this, it’s awful, I’m so exhausted I could cry. I’m so stressed I grind my teeth while I’m awake, the worst! I’ve also been eating horribly. I don’t feel like cooking, so I’ve been eating so much fast food, which obviously doesn’t make me feel great physically. Unfortunately I’m not making the best decisions when it comes to how I’m treating my body, but my mind just isn’t right right now. I’m just patiently waiting for this whole move to be over, so I can hopefully relax and get back on track with my life.

I know that I could go to mental health and see a therapist, everyone who knows me should know that I’m a huge advocate for therapy and counseling. I just don’t really think the timing is right. I’ve sold my car, and I only have a few weeks left here on island. Anyone who knows anything about military doctors in Okinawa, would know that it’s nearly impossible to get an appointment within 2 weeks. So I figured I would just ride this one out, and find other ways to cope. However, because I have never dealt with long-term anxiety, I need some help. Aside from the breathing exercises, how do y’all manage anxiety? Does anyone meditate? I don’t have much experience with meditation, but I really want to learn. Anyone study mindfulness and chakras? Again, I’m learning, but I still don’t know much about how all that stuff works. I would prefer to medicate myself in the most natural ways possible. Before anyone asks, I do not have access to smoke MJ. All I’m gonna say is that if I could, I would. *winks*

Writing is definitely good for my mental health, but I don’t always have any inspiration to do it, so I often hit dead ends. I guess I am just looking for help from people who successfully deal with anxiety and depression. For some of us, mental health takes a “village” to get through. Nobody should ever have to go through this alone, and I’m always here if anyone needs to vent. Trust me, I’ve supported plenty of strangers online who were on the verge of a breakdown. Don’t ever be afraid to talk about mental health, because it is just as important as physical health. I promise, you are not alone.

Summertime Follow-Up

I’m so excited to write this post, because it’s been so long since I’ve written anything, and I really do miss it. I just really don’t have much to talk about these days. I’m pretty boring to be honest. In my head, I live a fancy lifestyle in LA and I hang out with my celeb best friends all the time; Cierra Ramirez, and Maia Mitchell, hey besties! But in reality, I’m a housewife. I cook, clean, buy groceries, check the mailbox, & repeat. I also play Overwatch every second I get (it’s such a good game, plz buy it for xbox guys).

I’m also pretty close to getting a promotion with Scentsy! (Let me know if you would like to help support!) Click here!!!

I’m planning to start ASL classes online, which is gonna be super tough because I don’t have anyone to practice with. But in case I ever run into Nyle DiMarco, I wanna make sure I know how to tell him how much of a sexy coyote he is.

Another exciting thing happening is my husband’s reenlistment, and we have to choose where we want to relocate. Honestly, I can’t even be picky. I just want to be closer to my family! There are just so many places to choose from! I’ll just be excited to leave Japan, this place is NOT for me. Some people love it here, but I’m not one of those people. Although I do love my house, and all this extra space. We got lucky, we have a brand new 2 story house here, and not everyone gets that.

I’m hoping to start building my photography portfolio now. I just did an engagement shoot, and I forgot how fun it was to take photos. I still need plenty of practice with editing, but I’m excited to learn. If anyone has any tips or suggestions for software, feel free to share! I’m aiming to do mostly family photos, and [wedding, engagement, birth] announcement photos for now.

I’m almost done with my event planning certificate, and I’m so happy that I’ll soon be a Certified Event Planning Specialist! I’m going to be planning a huge celebration for my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Isn’t that crazy?! 50 years. 5 children. 12 grandchildren. 4 great-grandchildren. It’ll be my first big event to plan, and I’m so thankful for my committee—hey momma & Yana!

Oh and another thing, PALEO. Guys let me tell you. If you want to lose weight quickly, try it. No added sugar, no grains, no beans, no alcohol. I’ve lost so much weight by doing it. Eat as much as you want, but you can only eat meat, fruit and vegetables. You’re welcome *Sadie Saxton voice*.

Ultimately, I’m writing this post to let the world know that I’m doing just fine! I will try my best to write more. Thanks for reading!

Dealing With Depression.

In honor of Depression Awareness Week, I want to blog about something different. Unlike my other posts, this one may make people feel slightly uncomfortable and possibly a bit confused. I just really want to clear up some of the common misconceptions of depression, because not everyone understands it. Depression is a part of my life, and I want to share with you all how this affects me. I’ve had mild depression for about 5 years maybe. Depression is one of those terms that people often use lightly. I’ve seen plenty of people talk about depression as if it’s a mood, similar to sadness, but it’s not. Depression is a mental illness. People with depression think differently than those without it. Everyone experiences depression differently; because I have mild depression, I never experience suicidal or homicidal thoughts and I don’t self-harm. Another common misconception; IT DOES NOT TAKE A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE TO DEVELOP DEPRESSION. Nothing specific happened 5 years ago that I will link to my depression.

Depression makes me feel certain things, sometimes there are feelings that I can’t put a name on. Feeling angry for no exact reason. Feeling alone in a room full of people. Feeling exhausted after sleeping all day. Feeling discouraged when things don’t go the way I hoped it would. Feeling frustrated because the people around me just don’t understand. Feeling overwhelmed and tired. When my depression hits me, I honestly feel careless. My depression usually flares up for about 3 days, yeah, THREE DAYS at a time.

Every now and then, I get so frustrated I cry. At times I just want to stay in bed, in the dark, alone. I cancel plans a lot, sometimes I just don’t feel like socializing. A lot of the time, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I struggle to find peace. Sometimes I like to go on a drive, and take the scenic route. I may take a 45 minute shower just to escape from reality. I often grind my teeth when I’m sleeping, and I get nightmares. At times I don’t want to eat, like I wish I didn’t have an appetite. Of course I end up eating because I find comfort in food. I then get frustrated and feel guilty because I’ve overeaten and now I feel worse. CRYING OVER SPILLED MILK IS A REAL THING!!!!

Depression to me is; pain, exhaustion, anger, irritation, annoyance, and frustration all at once. I don’t always think logically when my depression hits. I ignore the people around me, and I often snap on those who are closest to me. Instead of talking about my feelings, I write about them because I don’t have a ton of people in my life who understand my depression. Obviously everyone has their own way of surviving depression, writing is how I do it. Depression is a real thing, there are 350 million people in the world who suffer from it! Take some time to learn about it! Some of your closest friends may suffer from it, and they may feel like they have nobody who they can vent to. Understand that depression is not sadness, its numbness.

If I ever need time to myself, I need the people in my life to understand why. It’s not me being standoff-ish, it’s because I have depression and sometimes I need a break.

 

Disclaimer: this is specifically a post about how I am affected by depression, everyone experiences it and handles it differently.

Not Your Average Housewife.

This isn’t a post about feminism, it’s about the self-confidence of a bossy woman.

People love to tell you to “be yourself”, unless you’re a woman who likes to regulate. Newsflash; it’s 2016 and times have changed! Women can be leaders too! Crazy, right? People have this theory of how women are expected to be, and I don’t fit into that stereotypical mold (and I don’t want to). Don’t even get me started on the “Wife Roles” people think are so important. People probably didn’t expect me to ever get married, like “who would want to put up with her?” LOL I’m a lot to handle. Takes a brave man to deal with such an assertive woman.

I have a strong personality. I’m dominant, sarcastic, I’m aggressive at times. I’m bossy, I love to be in control. I’m outspoken, and stubborn. I sometimes curse like a sailor and drink like a frat boy. I have a dry sense of humor. I love wearing revealing clothes. I enjoy watching professional basketball. I have a slight obsession with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I hate reading books. I think salad is disgusting. I’ve had 4 piercings, and I can’t wait to get more. I make my own decisions. I say, do, and wear whatever I want. I’m sort of a diva.

Not your average housewife huh?

Well, I’m not.

I got married at 18. I had no clue how to be a wife. I tried for MONTHS to be soft-spoken and submissive, but it didn’t work for me. I was lying to myself, and to David by being a phony Stepford Wife. Society says you’re supposed to let your husband make all the decisions for the house. L O L. I’m the boss in my house, not by choice, but by default. I’m a strong, powerful woman who can’t be chained LOL. I’m a temporary stay-at-home cat mom/housewife by choice.

It has taken such a long time for me to understand the fact that you can’t change your personality. No matter who you decide to surround yourself with, YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. Embrace your personality, DOMINATE. For the record; just because I have a strong personality doesn’t mean I’m cruel, bitter and unkind! I’m respectful and polite to those who deserve it. I’m fairly outgoing, and I’m far from anti-social. I’m cool as [bleep], and I don’t need validation from anyone! I won’t bite my tongue for anyone. I’m not an Instagram photo, I don’t need a filter LOL I may be a [bleep] most of the time, but I’m funny as [bleep] and that’s something I’m proud of. Aren’t care free black girls the best?!

 

Here’s a message to the people with bold personalities:

STOP GIVING A [bleep] WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF YOU.

SERIOUSLY!!!

STOP SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH PUNKS.

NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO BE A BOSS, AND WEAK PEOPLE MAKE THE WORST BOSSES ANYWAY.

DON’T EVER SOFTEN YOURSELF FOR ANYONE.

STOP SUGAR COATING YOURSELF.

YOU AREN’T FOR EVERYONE.

DON’T LET ANYONE SHACKLE YOU.

[bleeps] GET MARRIED TOO, DON’T WORRY!

DO YOU BOO!

 

Moral: I’m not bitter, I’m semi-sweet and guilt free.

Why Natural Hair Isn’t Natural For Me.

This upcoming March will make 3 long years since my “Big Chop”. For those who don’t know, a big chop is when you cut off the relaxed ends of your hair, leaving the hair that has no straightening chemicals in it. In the past 3 years, I could honestly say that I’ve either worn braids, or sew-ins for more than 50% of the time. For me, it’s easier to wear weaves than to do my own hair.

I’ve had relaxed hair for as long as I can remember. Having straight hair was all I knew. After years of dealing with breakage, I got my last relaxer in May of 2012. Not getting relaxers didn’t really change anything for me because I was getting my hair done professionally twice a month. Even after getting my big chop, months later, I never really had experience dealing with my own hair. I’ve never had short hair, I didn’t know what to do with it, and so I pretty much wore sew-ins up until I moved to Japan.

When I first moved to Japan, I was about a year “Post Big Chop”. My hair was probably close to chin length. I had no clue what to do with my hair. The climate in Okinawa is completely different than what I’m used to, and it effected my hair a lot. My hair was always dry, and I still struggled with breakage still. When I finally found a regimen that worked for me, it didn’t last long before my hair grew to neck length and my texture changed. I could no longer get a successful twist out, which was my go-to style.

We all hear about the perks of being natural; hair growth, less breakage, a healthier scalp. I’ve heard that it’s easier, cheaper and more versatile to have natural hair. Then you start noticing all the beautiful naturals with long, defined curls, or the ladies with the perfect up-do. I started to wonder, “What am I doing wrong with my hair?” I consistently struggle with keeping my hair moisturized. If your hair isn’t moisturized, you can’t detangle it, and if it’s not detangled, good luck with getting it to look decent. It’s discouraging at times. Some people make it look so effortless. It’s not always so easy for everyone.

I want to clear things up; being natural isn’t natural to me. I have more bad hair days than I have good hair days. My hair grows very slowly. I have considered cutting my hair off more times than I can count. I wear my hair in a bun majority of the time. I get so frustrated whenever I have to deal with my hair. My hair is still a work in progress, and I haven’t given up. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of being natural. I’ve definitely started becoming more aware of the things I allow in my body.

The main reason I really wanted to write this, is because so many people glamorize having natural hair, but I never hear people talk about the struggles. I’ve always said “being natural isn’t for everyone”, which is crazy to me. Having natural hair isn’t always pretty. My advice for myself, as well as other struggling naturals; don’t let anyone discourage you. We all have completely different hair types. I don’t think I will ever relax my hair again, or at least I hope I won’t. As tough as it is, I’m prepared to put in the time and money to fall in love with my natural hair.

THIS IS NOT A NATURAL HAIR SHAMING POST. I’m open to any advice, tips, or encouraging words anyone may have!

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Goals, Not Resolutions: a letter to myself.

January already?! It’s the month of change and New Year’s Resolutions! It’s the month where people sometimes judge you for having resolutions. “You can start any day, why wait until the New Year?” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will tell you why I sometimes wait until the first of the month.

To me, the New Year is a fresh start, a new beginning. I understand that it’s just another day, because in reality, it is. I just love the idea of setting new goals for the New Year because it’s easier to track my progress.

This year was the first year that I actually made specific plans to accomplish. I made my plans in the form of a check list. One of my favorites on my list is to attend 36 yoga classes, and I’ve already done 4! My check list is on my fridge, in my bedroom, and my living room. I’m hoping that this will help keep me on track, and inspire me to do more.

2016 for me is about finding myself. Considering the fact that this is my last year before I go back stateside, these next 14 months are crucial. I’m doing what I can to prepare myself for the real world (I moved to Japan right after graduating high school). By this summer I will officially be a Certified Event Planning Specialist! Super exciting! I’m focusing on my physical and mental health, as well as building my savings account.

I try to set realistic AND specific goals. Planning to lose weight is vague. How much weight do you want to lose? What are you going to do to lose weight? Saving money is also vague. Plan to save a certain amount of money, and figure out a savings plan to do that. You want to travel? Where do you want to go? Write down your resolutions and make them a goal, hold yourself accountable.

Almost every day I wake up thinking about the house my husband and I will eventually buy. I think about what kind of cabinets I will have in my kitchen, the type of couches I will have in my living room. I have a vision, and it’s inspiring me to work harder.

You have to envision the lifestyle you want to live. Seek motivation in something. Create a dream board, scrapbook, or even a bucket list. Find someone with similar goals and hold each other accountable. Track your progress every few months. Never stop going after your dreams. Every year that you set and accomplish good goals, you set yourself up for greatness.