Adentures in Europe

Hi all!

Just a short note to say that I returned from my twelve day trip to Europe last night and have not dropped off the face of the Earth.

I hope you all are doing well and having a nice summer :) More updates on my travels to come!

- Christine

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Foods that Increase Health and Happiness

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Although I am a bucket list blogger, I am also obsessed with happiness — or its more fancy term subjective well-being (SWB) — studies. Two other favorites of mine are summer and food. What better season than summer to look into what types of food have been proven to increase happiness? Here is what I found:

An article on ABC News finds there are 19 foods that boost health and happiness: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/19-foods-boost-health-happiness/story?id=19184264

1). Legumes (AKA peas, beans, and peanuts)

2). Spinach

3). Quinoa (“a complex carb that can give you a steady stream of energy”)

4). Tomatoes

5). Vitamin D-Fortified Milk (evidence suggests it has a positive effect against asthma symptoms and allergy sensitivities)

6). Apples

7). Walnuts

8). Salmon

9). Enriched cereal

10). Berries

11). Eggs

12). Clams

13). Oranges

14). Cayenne pepper

15). Parsley

16). Turmeric (found in curry powder)

17). Green tea

18). Red Wine (Wohoo!)

19). Coffee (Yay!)

An article in Women’s Health Magazine lists some additional foods that “will help you stay healthy, maintain a sharp mind, and keep those pesky blues at bay.” Some overlap with those listed above:

1). Wild salmon and shrimp

2). Cherry tomatoes

3). Watermelon

4). Chile peppers

5). Beets

6). Garlic

7). Apples

8). Butter

9). Cod

10). Lentils

11). Lamb

12). Milk

13). Onions

14). Sardines

15). Sprouts

16). Yogurt

Time to start feasting!

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10 Ways to Maintain Sanity in Your 20-Somethings and Beyond

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Now that I’ve reached 22, I would like to think I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I’m sure that by the time I reach 82, I’ll have had many more lessons, but for now, these are all I’ve got. Some of these were learned through experience, while I learned others through some excellent interpersonal communication classes I took this semester. Here are ten tips that should help you maintain sanity through your 20-somethings and beyond:

1). Quality over quantity (activities): You just won Super Bowl Tickets and your home team is playing their biggest rival. You know that you would much rather count the tiles on your bathroom floor than watch a football game, but you feel that you have to go because it is what you are supposed to do.

DON’T GO. You will have a much better time doing something you know you would enjoy more that day, whether it be counting tiles or spending the day shopping at the mall with a friend. Sell the tickets and use the money for something you would have a more enjoyable time doing.

The same applies to visiting fancy monuments in foreign countries while studying abroad, etc. If you would rather spend the day café hopping than touring monuments you think you are supposed to see, go café hopping; you won’t regret it!

2). Quality over quantity (making plans): You already know that you want to spend the day with your boyfriend or your best friend or your mom, or whomever it may be. Yet, Bobby, Susie, and Tanya also asked you to hangout. Although you were looking forward to your plans with the initial person, you do not want to let the latter group down. You think, “Maybe I can fit everything in. I’ll hangout with [Insert name here] all afternoon and then meet up with Bobby, Susie, and Tanya” or “What if I invite [insert name here] along with Bobby, Susie, and Tanya? That way everyone is happy.

DON’T DO IT. Sometimes these methods work, but typically, people end up more aggravated. You will either show up to one of your plans late or someone in the later group will wind up upset that you always have to invite so-and-so along. While this outcome is not always the case, it is likely that you will be happier if you stick to your initial plan, tell the other group you are unable to make it that day, and make plans with them sometime later in the week, when you can have an equally enjoyable time with them and feel less stressed.

3). Do not try to block out “negative” emotions, but instead, accept and observe them: Dr. Caplan and Dr. Mortenson, my interpersonal communication professors, introduced us to the work of psychotherapist David Richo. He suggests that the best way to deal with negative emotions that come with heartache, loss, etc, such as anger or sadness, is not through distraction. The healthiest approach is simply to accept the emotions. Do not say, “I am not sad,” “I am not angry,” but instead, “Yes, I feel sad right now, but I know this emotion won’t last forever.” Dr. Caplan reminded us we should not view ourselves as our emotions, but instead, see them as outside of ourselves and view them as if we are weathermen observing the weather. He added that if we think of the saddest or happiest we have ever been, we probably do not feel that way right now, so if we are feeling down, we should accept our sadness and think, “Hmm, this is interesting. I feel so down right now, but like the weather, eventually, this will go away.”

I read somewhere that a study asked one group to think about a blue elephant and another group to try hard not to think about a blue elephant. The study found that the group asked not to think about the elephant, thought about the blue elephant ten times more (I am not sure of the exact statistic, but the number was significantly larger) than the group that was asked to think about it.

At first, all of this advice sounds like psychological mumbo-jumbo, but try it and you’ll be amazed at the results. If you accept sadness or anger, it goes away sooner. If you block it out, the emotions linger and come back to haunt you!

4). Do not try to block out negative emotions by distracting yourself: Richo also reminds us to avoid unproductive activities, such as watching television, drinking, binge eating, going on Facebook, etc, when we are feeling sad, anxious, or angry. He advises doing something productive as a way to establish “adult trust” in yourself. Adult trust consists of the knowledge that you are able to be independent without relying on other sources or people to deal with your emotions. If you are feeling down, go for a long walk or run, clean your room to near perfection, or have a healthy meal.

It sounds silly, but showing yourself you have the ability to do something constructive while feeling sad boosts your mood by helping you see what you are able to accomplish on your own, and how, in the future, if you are feeling this way, you can pursue similar activities to deal with your emotions.

5). If you are on a diet, allow yourself at least one day a week to splurge a little: If you are like me and have difficulty not eating everything in sight when food comes your way, you will feel proud of yourself once you lose weight. However, I notice that when I am too strict with a diet for long periods of time (and by diet, I simply mean eating healthier and exercising), I typically tell myself, “You have been dieting to near perfection for a month. You deserve two weeks to go crazy!” then revert back to my old habits. Of course, many people have much more self-discipline than I do. But I notice that the times that I eat healthy, yet allow myself a few glasses of wine each Saturday and one not-so-healthy dinner, I wind up doing even better, since I do not feel so deprived or as if I deserve some giant award to overeat again!

6). This one may not be accurate in every case, but as a general rule of thumb, remember that the most genuine guys do not immediately call you “cutie,” “beautiful,” etc: Wait for the guy, who either waits to give you such compliments, or, even better, who waits to give you more realistic, non-cliché compliments that specifically apply to you. I’m sure there is an equivalent to this advice for guys too. Perhaps, wait for the girl who doesn’t call you “hottie” right away?

7). Forgive, but do not try to forget: Thomas S. Szasz says, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naïve forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” Another useful lesson we learned in our class with Dr. Caplan is that harboring resentment or holding a grudge against someone only affects you. Think about it: If you continue to stress over something someone has done to you in the past, you only cause yourself more stress, not the other person.

However, it’s also unhealthy to try and block out a negative incident. The healthiest thing to do is to accept the situation, say, “This happened” and then forgive the person. You will feel ten times better.

8). To feel happier, tackle a nagging task: Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, suggests we will feel much happier if we tackle a nagging task rather than putting it off. For example, you have to call the doctors office to request forms you need for a new job, but have been putting off the call. If you are in this situation, the best thing you can do is to MAKE THE CALL. It seems tedious, but I agree with Rubin that getting similar tasks over with really does lead to boosts in happiness.

9). Start a gratitude journal and a nice things jar to boost your happiness: Rubin suggests starting a gratitude journal, which is a journal in which you list multiple items you are grateful for each day. For my gratitude journal, I typically write down seven items every day that are as simple as having a great cup of coffee. As a generation that is constantly looking toward the future, you’ll be amazed at how good focusing on what is valuable about the present moment will make you feel.

Starting a nice things jar, an idea I took from Pinterest a few years ago, has a similar effect. Buy a mason jar, and, if you want, decorate it. I put sunshine stickers on mine. I then bought colored paper to make it more fun. Each day, write one nice thing that happened to you and put it in the jar. Don’t read the slips until all at once at the end of the year. Like the gratitude journal, focusing on “nice things” is beneficial in that it helps you focus on the positive versus stuff that might stress you out.

10). Have fun: While sometimes it’s easy to focus on the petty stuff, don’t forget to enjoy yourself too!

I hope some these tips prove useful. Because, as Bill Bryson, one of my new favorite travel writers suggests, “That’s the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it’s gone, it’s too late to get it back.” Hopefully, this post will provide you with enough sanity and happiness through your 20-somethings and beyond!

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Go to a Dinner Theater

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“An all new haunted restaurant, bar and social club where guests eat, drink and socialize among the unusual and the bizarre.”

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I am a sucker for theme restaurants. While I know there are some people that detest even the idea of places like The Rainforest Café, Ninja Restaurant in New York City, or Dick’s Last Resort — a chain restaurant where the staff are deliberately mean to you — tell me you’re going to any of those places and I’ll be there. While going down my “Activities & Adventures” bucket list the other night, I came across “Go to a dinner theater” and realized I had crossed that item off over half a year ago, back in December. If you ever find yourself in Times Square, New York City, and like me, take a not-so-secret delight in theme restaurants, check out the Jekyll & Hyde Club Restaurant & Bar.

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Although there is a bit of a wait before walking into the restaurant, the doorman provided enough of a comedy act to leave the restaurant feeling satisfied, before even entering. After my mom, aunt, cousin, and I entered the restaurant, there was still a bit of a wait, but we killed time at the surprisingly classy bar, which housed a nice lounge area with comfortable couches.

Within the restaurant, there are several different rooms, each with their own skit. Even the waiters played along and made jokes throughout the meal. “Oh, you two are from New Jersey?” our waiter said to my mom and I. “Then the whole restaurant should be afraid of you.” When my mom added that she’s originally from Brooklyn, he said, “Then there must be something really wrong with you if you moved from New York to New Jersey.” The actual skit we watched during dinner was entertaining as well.

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When my mom first mentioned to a friend that she wanted to try Jekyll & Hyde, while they were in New York a few weeks beforehand, the friend mentioned, “I didn’t care for the food there.” I’m not very picky, but my family and I all thought the food was excellent. I think that as long as you’re not going in with the expectation of getting a gourmet meal, you’ll enjoy the food.

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After dinner, we decided to go through the haunted house. I had more of a panic attack before entering, however, when I realized I had left my purse behind on the table — a little panic attack I seem to give myself every other week, considering how often I leave things behind. I was relieved when the manager, after asking me to identify the bag, said someone had found it and handed me back my bag. Somehow, I wound up leading our group in the haunted house, which I would also give a high ranking when it comes to haunted houses.

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If you’re heading to dinner in NYC and looking for a fun place to go eat, head to Jekyll & Hyde in Times Square.

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My mom and I had to do something to keep busy on the train ride home.

Has anyone else tried Jekyll & Hyde or eaten at a dinner theater in his or her area? What are some of your favorite theme restaurants? I’d love to hear from you!

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Instagram and Pinterest!

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Hello lovely readers,

Exciting news! I finally connected my Instagram Account to my blog (along with this link, the Instagram button is now on the right hand side of the blog), so I would be thrilled if you guys take a minute to follow me on Instagram :) I love getting to know my readers better.

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In addition, I finally crawled out of my rock and got a Pinterest Account (the link to the account is also on the right hand side of the blog). It would also make my day if you guys could take a minute to follow me on Pinterest (I’m getting a bit lonely with my 0 followers) and I will be sure to follow everyone who does so back, repin your pins, etc.

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To recap, you guys will all make my day if you follow my Instagram and my new Pinterest account, where I will definitely follow you back :)

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Thanks everyone!

Missed yesterday’s post? Check out “25 Ways to Instantly Boost Your Happiness.”

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25 Ways to Instantly Boost Your Happiness

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1.) Watch an episode of the Ellen Degeneres show or one of her YouTube videos.

2). Watch the documentary Craiglist Joe, about a man who travels across the U.S. without money, relying on other peoples’ kindness for places to stay and eat. Faith in humanity instantly restored.

3). Buy the person behind you in the drive-thru line a cup of coffee. Various studies show that doing kind acts for others boost our own happiness.

4). Look at old childhood photos. No, not online ones if you can help it. The actual hard copies of photos that were not yet “extinct” in the 90s and early 2000s.

5). Start a nice things jar. Every day for a year, write down one nice thing that happens to you. Do not open the jar until the next year.

6). Start a gratitude journal. Each day, write down 5-7 things you are grateful for. It can be as simple as having a good cup of coffee.

7). Try going at least one whole day without using your phone, computer, or [insert other similar technology here]. Just take a day to be in the moment or to actually be with the people around you.

8). Start a bucket list. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing items off your list.

9). Read either Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project or Noelle Hancock’s My Year with Eleanor.

10). Go geocaching! Basically, it is one giant outdoor treasure hunt. You can get the free app on your phone to find local caches near you. There’s nothing better than the feeling of discovering your first cache.

11). Kiss someone at the top of a Ferris wheel or roller coaster. Cliche? Yes. But I’ll bet it will make you feel happy.

12). Look at the stars on the beach at night. No cell phones allowed!

13). Have an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.

14). Listen to classic songs from the 90′s.

15). Watch The Lion King or any Disney movie from your childhood for that matter. Old Mary Kate and Ashley movies work too.

16). Buy a bouquet of fake flowers (in case people are allergic and so the flowers last longer) and hand them out at a nursing home.

17). Get a penpal from a different country than your own.

18). Treat yourself to something: flowers, a mani/pedi, a massage, or an ice cream cone. Don’t forget to love yourself too.

19). Treat yourself to a night at a hotel. Some places have surprisingly great deals and it will feel like a mini-vacation.

20). Visit freerice.com and help stop world hunger. Not only does the website allow you to improve your own vocabulary or learn new languages, but you feed others while playing on the site.

21). Go jet skiing, tubing, on a boat ride, or do some type of water sport.

22). Go for a long drive along a beautiful road.

23). Go to an indoor trampoline park.

24). Have chocolate strawberries.

25). Walk on the boardwalk and buy yourself a large lemonade.

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Bucket List Blogger Takes 14 Months off to Explore World

You just have to meet this bucket list blogger!

Jessica from Turquoise Compass is a teacher at heart, but her true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. She has been to 17 countries and she is ready to see more. She has completed hundreds of items on her bucket list and encourages others to live life to the fullest, while taking advantage of every opportunity that comes. As you can tell, this hyperactive traveler loves visiting beautiful turquoise destinations.

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Below is a guest post from Jessica:

 Making a List, Crossing it Off

 I’ve always been interested in the idea of bucket lists since my early twenties, but it wasn’t until I turned thirty that I actively pursued a life of creating yearly bucket lists and checking them off.  I took 14 months off from my job to travel the world in 2013; I have already completed my 2013 bucket list and I’m making headway into my 2014 list. A friend of mine, Bucket List Publications, inspired me through her yearly bucket lists to start making my own. I’ve always been in the process of completing things I’ve been passionate about, but never really put pen to paper until I transitioned my life from a full-time teacher and Master’s student to a full-time traveler.

 Before 2013, I completed countless items on my bucket list over the years including swimming with whale sharks, rappelling, riding in a helicopter, driving a mustang, and river-boarding among others, yet it wasn’t until 2013 when I made a list of 45 items and checked everything off  in one year. I started my sabbatical and 2013 bucket list off with a leap of faith by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. 2014’s list is even bigger and better with over 80 items on my list. I’ve already almost completed the list and I’m only halfway through the year. I need to start thinking about making my 2014 bucket list longer so that I have more to pursue this year. Do you have any ideas?

 Here is a highlight of some of my 2014 bucket accomplishments:

 Canada- As much as I want to stay in a turquoise paradise forever, I always make it back to Canada in between trips whether it be Atlantic Canada, central Canada, or northern Canada. There is no place like home. It’s easy to complete bucket list items home and away. As much as I love the sun and sand while being in a hot turquoise destination, I still want to experience everything Canada has to offer from snow shoeing, hiking, wildlife tours, kayaking, and beyond.

Canada

 Miami & Key West, U.S.A- I made it to another one of my dream beach destinations: Miami and Key West! Miami’s South Beach and Key West are two of the most turquoise USA beaches I have yet to see! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them for the first time. It was more turquoise than I expected and even better than I expected! Can you sense my excitement? Now that I got a taste of Miami and the Keys I want to return. The trip allowed me the opportunity to sample a little bit of what Miami, the Everglades, and the Keys have to offer and to figure out if it’s a place for me. Indeed it is, and I would like to return there again someday to explore more of what they have to offer.

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 Australia-Australia’s east coast is a place where I completed countless bucket list items and adventure sports. Visiting Australia’s east coast is a dream come true. Exploring the eastern region of Australia for 6 weeks allowed me to complete countless items on my bucket list. From hang-gliding to sand-boarding I tried to do it all. I like to think I am an adventurous person, although not fearless, I am open to experiencing anything unique and out of the ordinary.

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 New Zealand- My busy three week tour of New Zealand’s south island and north island with Stray Bus allowed me the opportunity to see all of the main sights in the little time I had without any compromises. I met new friends, saw unexpected turquoise destinations, and explored unprecedented national parks. New Zealand is a dream–exactly what I have seen in countless films, and the reason why I wanted to visit in the first place. It’s no wonder why people love New Zealand. I couldn’t help but look around at my magnificent surroundings and be left in awe of the world I roam, especially in Middle-earth.

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Cuba- After spending 6 weeks away from a turquoise beach, I started dreaming to be on a white sand turquoise beach again. It wasn’t long before dreaming turned into a reality and landed me on one of the most perfect turquoise beaches I have ever seen: Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba.

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 My year thus far had me seeing pristine turquoise water, one of a kind landscapes, unique and interesting animals, World Heritage Listed ecosystems, and one of the seven wonders of the world. Where will the rest of the year take me? Next up…Europe!

 Keep making your bucket lists and checking them off!

Connect with Jessica:

Turquoise Compass

https://www.facebook.com/TurquoiseCompass

https://twitter.com/turquoisecompas

http://www.pinterest.com/turquoisecompas/

http://instagram.com/turquoisecompass

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