Travel Guide: Puerto Rico & Wedding Recap….

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I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places like Punta Cana, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, St. Marteen, St. Kitts, and all over the Florida Keys. I’ve seen countless sunsets and played in the sand of many beaches, but nothing was as beautiful as Isabel, Puerto Rico. My mom got married this past weekend there and the photos don’t even do it justice.  

The happiness and care free vibes of the locals were contagious, and it was a blissful time. We stayed at Villa Montaña Beach Resort and had an amazing trip. Instead of staying in a single house or at a hotel/condo style, we had our own individual villas. We were all next to one another, but still had our space to recoup and relax.

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Trip Advisor Review of VMBR

We were only there for a weekend and my 22nd, but we spent the two days laying out by the water, swimming in the pools, walking the beach, and devouring delicious food at the restaurant, The Eclipse. It had the cutest boho vibe, and amazing service. They even hooked us up with a bonfire to end my 22nd with s’mores.

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Now to get to the good stuff….

THE WEDDING!

All I have to say, with the ease of the wedding and the guidance of Ashley Wright for putting on the most beautiful ceremony at sunset, a destination wedding is the way to go. So I’ve put together a few of my favorite photos from the day because a picture says a thousand words and I love all the love in these shots….

 

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From drinking Carlos’s coconut water to splashing in the water at the end, everything was perfect. We are all over the moon happy for Mom and Mark!

#destinationwedding #weddinginspiration

 

 

A Wedding Unfolds in Puerto Rico

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There is love in the air— flowing all around us, captivating our long weekend with appreciation and joy. The beauty of Puerto Rico, especially at where we are staying (blog post to come) illuminates the kindness and admiration in the hearts of my mom and soon to be husband. With wedding festivities on the cusp of the day, we are reminded that love is gentle and it’s kind, but you can’t deny it’s also trying and moving. It pushes you to be a better you, and along the way the true depth of love shines above all else and moves mountains to be.

And that’s the thing about love, it’s about just being. 

Being you.

Being enough.

Being loved for all that you are. 

I talk about this all the time— there are billions of people in this world and somehow these two souls found each other to adore, to build a forever with, and to love unconditionally. They found the one their soul needed and wanted, even if they were unaware of it at the time. Flaws and all, there is love to be shared. After five years, it was inevitable that they were hooked on one another for the long haul. The way Mark looks at my mom is as though she was the one who put the stars in the sky and could walk on water. He looks at her the way Nicholas Sparks writes in his romance novels, the way we all dream of being loved.

My mom and Mark taught me the importance of valuing myself and trusting that someone, someday will love my entire essence as they love one another, but my worth is not defined by someone else’s ability or inability to see all I have to offer the world.

You can’t settle in this life, there are billions of people awaiting your presence. It’s okay to love big because one day, it won’t go to the waste side. 

Love is at the center of all my interactions and my friends and family cant attest to how often I tell them ‘I love you SO much’. It’s a powerful lesson to love unconditionally without expectations or demands or reservations— let it flow openly and be enough to keep you afloat. 

As I sit here on my villa’s porch and write while watching the waves crash, I reminisce on my mom’s love story. I’ve watched hers and Mark’s love blossom over the years, an undeniable pull to one another, one that couldn’t be avoided if they tried. They are a force to be reckoned with, spit fires with adventurous souls. They bring out the best in one another, even if mom can’t navigate. It’s about having fun and enjoying this life together, and that’s what they are doing. 

This life is precious and short, and watching my mom and my soon to be stepdad love one another through trials and twists and turns, I’ve learned that you shouldn’t waste another minute with space between you and the one you love.

If you love someone, be vulnerable, give your love freely and accept them for who they are and who they will be. Nothing stays the same— this world is not stagnant, so grow together and make the conscious decision to be present and love into the depth of your core. 

So thank you Mom and Mark for showing me what a beautiful love looks like and I cheers to you a lifetime of happiness and loving adventures. 

With Love: The Reflection You Asked For

With Love: The Reflection You Asked For

I am human.

I am flawed, imperfect, and ultimately vulnerable.

The other day, you commented on my blog hurtful and mean accusations and considerations about your perception of me. You labeled me a bad person, but you did so anonymously without a way to answer back thoughtfully. 

So here is my response:

When I post on social media and connect through social channels, I choose bits and pieces to highlight, but my blog is something I hold near and dear to my heart. I pour my spirit into my words. I am aware that I have hurt people in the past and I have been hurt in return, but the reality is, love and appreciation for life are at the center of my decisions. I value myself, I value my soul and practice self-love. This life is very short filled with uncertainty and it’s fair share of goodbyes and quite frankly, there is no room for hatred in my life and I do not owe anyone an explanation for what I deem right. 

My heart radiates with love and because of that, I have such beautiful connections in my life. I have friends and family who know my essence, my heart, my love and they understand me in ways you did not. I apologize that not everyone can see the true me, that sometimes the surface is all you get, but I get to choose and that does not make me a bad person. It’s all about your perception.   

I am allowed to make decisions that value my wishes and needs and I do have considerations for others, but I refuse to tear off pieces of myself to appease anyone else.

It’s not that I voice my actions or feelings to justify my doings. I do so to let others know they are not alone— sometimes we need to cut toxic people out, sometimes we need to escape, sometimes we need to be alone, sometimes words are not needed and that’s OKAY.

I have always struggled with goodbyes and sometimes I feel as though saying nothing at all is easier— that doesn’t mean it’s right. I’m flawed, but conscious of my desire to change to be more transparent. 

You have absolutely no idea what is going on in someone else’s head. You have no idea the internal struggles someone has, and I’m sure you are fighting your own demons, gracefully I hope. I don’t write for self-justification– I write to feel, share, connect, understand, learn, grow. I am a work in progress, who is learning and evolving from experiences and new connections. This is a life blog! I am living and LEARNING. I take responsibility for the lessons I’ve learned the hard way  as I do not consider them mistakes. I am exactly where I’m meant to be. Some things aren’t that deep and others are, and sometimes people aren’t on the same page. 

If I’ve hurt you, tell me. If I’ve offended you, tell me. If I’ve left you wondering, tell me. I am not a mind reader, and have a million and ten things on my plate and on my mind that sometimes things slip through the cracks. I am sorry that our connect may have slipped through the cracks. 

So here’s what I suggest— 

  • if you have a problem with someone or don’t like/agree with what they are saying, unfriend, block, delete them. It’s okay to move on. 
  • if you have a problem with someone or don’t like/agree with what they are saying, message them…… VOICE your concerns, voice your perception. Be human— nobody’s perfect. 

We were created to communicate, to connect, but that’s impossible when it’s through an anonymous outlet. My messages are always open. 

With love, 

Ash 

No Thank You, I’ll Buy My Own Drink

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Another night out with my girlfriends and I find myself analyzing every social interaction, despite how impaired I may be do to a few too many Rum Runners. The music blares and our laughter radiates throughout the bar, our current scene— I am having the time of my life, dancing away in the blur the flashing lights. New faces and old ones surround me, and some are getting closer than others, wanting to know my name they’ll forget by morning and where I’m from, so they may have a slim chance to make a hometown connection.

Maybe it could be chalked up to liquid courage, but they so freely touch my waist or push my hair behind my ear, as if I am a doll to be played with.

Some are hitting it off, some are barely conscious, and then there is me, and I’m sure many of you— overwhelmed. I love meeting new people, and sparking new conversations and listening to their stories, making new connections with faces I may never see again. The moments are fleeting, but freeing.

Then all a sudden, as the night goes on, I am hitting it off with someone, who then starts moving in too close, getting way too comfortable tracing over my curves, wanting to buy me drinks, wanting to bound me up in obligation.

As I know the ins and outs of going to bars, clubs, interesting scenes, there is no such thing as a free drink(s); there is always something tied to it— it may be simple like entertaining their company long after it becomes appealing, but some like to think that buying you drinks entails them to a right of passage.

So with that in mind, I say, “no thank you, I’ve got it” because I can’t accept a nice gesture without feeling as though they think I owe them, and it saddens me that too many women know this to be true all too well.

I know not all men think like this, I know there are exceptions, I know there are some genuine guys just doing something nice.

Yet, I want to reiterate to women everywhere—

You don’t owe anyone anything.

You are not obligated to anyone or anything.

You can go out and have fun with your friends without getting yourself into a question situation, out of fear of obligation.

So for the meantime, until this entitlement phase passes, I’ll be saying, “No thank you, I can buy my own drinks” and end up cuddled up with my girlfriends after a fun-filled night out.

Enjoy your time, and be safe ladies.

21 Things I’ve Learned By 21

21 Things I’ve Learned By 21

Some of us 21 year olds are getting engaged and starting families, some of us are in college or finishing cosmetology school, some of us are working away and joining unions, but there are three things we have in common: we are three years into adulthood, we are legal to consume alcoholic beverages, and we don’t really have it all figured out yet. However, I’ve journaled down thoughts that I’ve learned over the years and I think they may serve as nice reminders for you all. So here are the 21 things I’ve learned by 21:

  1. You’re young— know the difference between being selfish and valuing yourself. It’s okay to put yourself first, your future depends on it.

  2. When you’re upset, mad, or frustrated with someone, don’t start texting them a million things that you’ll later regret. Take a breather, and call them and meet up with them later. Texting solves absolutely nothing.

  3. Forgiving yourself and forgiving others is not an easy task, but it’ll set you free and allow you to move forward with your life.

  4. Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to friends; valuing close, genuine friends is so much more important than being surrounded by the masses.

  5. Your greatest power is being you, embrace that with everything you have.

  6. No matter how old you get, you have to follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated because being kind and loving doesn’t cost you a thing.

  7. Make decisions that excite you, don’t make decisions based on what someone else wants you to do. You’ll end up, going in circles.

  8. When you put in the extra mile, it always pays off. The effort will serve as guidance for what the next move should be for you.

  9. There are spiteful people in this world, that are venomous with their words, but those people don’t deserve a place in your universe.

  10. Although there are hurtful people out there, there are also absolutely incredible ones who bring so much light and love into your life.

  11. With that being said, you never regret telling people you love them, value them, and appreciate their existence. Whenever you get the chance to engulf others in your admiration, do it.

  12. Enjoying your own company better be on your to-do list because people come and go, but you’re a constant and when the day turns into night, your mind must be kind to you.

  13. You don’t have to be who you’ve always been; there is room for change and growth and realizations to become who you are meant to be.

  14. You aren’t going to be liked by everyone, you’ll be too much for some and not enough for others. That discernment has nothing to do with you, and entirely to do with the person making those judgements.

  15. You DO NOT need a significant other to be whole. You DO NOT need a boyfriend. You DO NOT need someone to tell you you’re pretty, valued, and worthy; you should know you’re all those things without relying on those words of truths from someone else. You are complete, whole, and enough on your own.

  16. Taking the opportunity that fuels your curiosity and excitement is one well taken. Whether that’s moving, taking an internship, exploring a new country, you will find out new things about yourself along the way.

  17. Holding onto rage and anger hurts you more than anyone else; let that baggage go and know you don’t have to be bitter.

  18. Your circumstances do not and will not define you; you are not a statistic, you are a person and you can beat the odds.

  19. Sex can wait, but it doesn’t have to; whatever you prefer is right. Whether you’re in love or looking for a fun time, you must remember to be kind to your body and soul and make sure to value yourself and your sexuality. You don’t have to give yourself away to anyone who asks.

  20. Let life take you where it wants you to go, you’ll end up exactly where you’re meant to be.

  21. As cliche as it sounds, really don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. You are an important and have a valuable mind that is unique, so know you have the ability to stand out and achieve all your wildest dreams. You will fail, oh you will fail plenty, but you just have to keep getting back up and try again.

So if you take anything away from my lengthy list, it’s that you are important, loved, and valued, and you should live your life with your urgency and drive.

Some Inspiration When Applying for Internships and Jobs

Some Inspiration When Applying for Internships and Jobs

Is there a science to getting your dream job or internship? The answer is sadly NO, and life would be too easy if that were the case. I read articles on Linedkin and blogs from business professionals, who do the hiring and what they look for, (one of my favorites is: Intern Queen )which is extremely helpful, but sometimes, all I can think is, ‘I’m applying online, with a resume I have spent two years revising, updating, and altering and get to answer a few mediocre questions about different things I’ve accomplished or done in my collegiate years, but my accomplishments and job history don’t exactly signify who I am, my level of dedication, or others qualities that may pull me ahead of all the competition.’

Well, I am here to say, don’t get discouraged and aim small.

You are going to get a lot of NO’s,

I’ve had my fair share of emails that say, “Thank you for your interest, but unfortunately……” Plenty, and I continuously do, but here’s the thing: I am shooting my shot, and applying for things that interest me, and I could see myself benefiting from, and as cliche as it sounds, every no is one step closer to that YES.

When applying for jobs and internships, you can’t forget that you want a position that is a good fit for you, too.

Not only do you want to be an asset for a company, but you also want to be in a spot to obtain new knowledge, grow, and benefit from your time there. It needs to be mutually beneficial, so don’t sell yourself short and take a job that doesn’t feel right for you.

Although my intentions are to work for myself when I graduate, I don’t have all the information necessary, just from my marketing 101, intermediate price theory class, etc.

I need to have real life experience— where I can figure out what my strengths and weaknesses are, so I can become well-rounded, and a generalist, with some wonderful specializations to be competitive and insightful.

I look at myself as a brand, and I continuously ask myself, “What do I bring to the table?” You find that out at internships, it’s great.

About a year ago, I took an internship with the Boston Red Sox and 47’ Brand, and I was honest, genuine, and real throughout the interview process, and luckily, it was one of my favorite YESes to date. My boss took me under her wing, and in the process of being a merchandising intern, I learned everything from buying, processing, inventory, accountability, time management, handling money, and visuals. I lived in the moment with this internship, taking it all in and aware that I did not know it all, and wanted to learn all there was. One internship turned into the next and I spent the summer in Boston, seeing the large scaled operations, and loved it. I added to my resume and skillset, and again this spring, I will be working for them.

With that little short account of my internships, I want to say it’s important to trust your gut and do what you think will add value to your life and skillset. I had never expected to do something in merchandising, but things work out exactly the way it’s meant to. So you too will have a company take a chance on you, and that’s where you need to shine.

So in the process of finding who you are and what you want, keep advising that resume, taking leadership roles on campus, raising that GPA, and applying for things that seem to be out of your league because it will all pay off soon enough.

You’ve got this, and you will get there soon!

xo,

Thoughtful Blonde

5 Ways To De-stress From Your Chaotic Life

5 Ways To De-stress From Your Chaotic Life

 

Creating a balance isn’t always ideal— especially when work or school or family life is overwhelming and prominent. We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control our stress levels with some life hacks to put some ease back into our normal, filled day. Being a college student, who works and has a full class load with extracurriculars, I don’t have an overabundance of time for some R&R, so here are some of the tricks I use to destress whenever I’m about to lose my marbles.

 

  1. About a year ago, I started to try something new whenever I had a rough day or needed a pick-me-up and that was Meditation, eventually it just became part of my everyday routine. It leaves me feeling at peace and uplifted, no matter my situation. To get a great meditation app, download the Deepak and Oprah 21-Day Meditation Experience or if you are in Fort Myers/Naples area, there are Drop-In Meditation classes  but once you make this part of your everyday, the “big” stressers don’t seem so big and bad.
  2.  Yoga. Hear me out, yoga is by no means easy, but you don’t have to be good, flexible, or athletic to enjoy it. I started going to yoga on Fort Myers Beach, and loved the environment and relaxation I got from it. So even though I can’t make to the beach every Saturday morning for yoga, I find time to do it at home with my yoga mat from T.J.Maxx.  Some great apps I use are– Yoga Studio and Daily Yoga and also if you want more information on the best Yoga apps, Healthline is a great resource.
  3. Making time to focus on your health and being active is so important. When I work out, everything else is put on hold and I get to focus on me and where I’m at. If you don’t have time for a gym, download The Handstand App for fitness plans and workouts. If you can join a gym, I go to LA Fitness and really enjoy the equipment and classes, and I’m also a fan of Crunch Gym. However, I do want to start going to my University’s gym FGCU more to workout, so see if your school has one so you can swing by after studying or class!
  4. Cooking isn’t always my speciality, but it’s something I’m working on. I’m always finding recipes I want to make and I get most inspired from foodie blogs. Anyways, as basic as it sounds, I google yummy food that is also healthy and started making some of those: Healthy Yummy Food and one of my favorite Food Blogger’s site called Daily Dose of Pepper   or you can be like me, and like to bake. In that case, I love Baking with Blondie  and anything chocolate, so of course, here’s some delicious recipes to take your mind off of anything else: Chocolate Heaven
  5. Lastly, when I’m stressed or having a less than fabulous day, I try to find some distraction. Something that isn’t work or tedious or overwhelming, so what’s better than online shopping….. not much. I like to keep a budget, so I don’t recommend doing this everyday, but here are some of my favorites to bring you a little bit of happiness. For jewelry: Gem and Company For clothing: Thirty One Boutique and Henri Girl.

Let’s continue to be GirlBosses, who find peace in the midsts of all the chaos. You’ve got this and you are capable!

xo, Ash