Unique Ways To Kick Start Your New Year

New year, new me… that’s how the expression goes, right? But, who wants to go through the effort of crafting a whole new you – sounds exhausting. Rather, start your year by making exciting tweaks to an otherwise already fantastic life. How you start your year has the potential to set the tone for the rest of your year to follow. So, logically, a strong start can only mean an amazing year.

Go on an epic hike
Crushing a goal at the start of the year is huge. Look into a local hike that might be a little out of your league, prep yourself and just do it. Don’t wait until you think you need to be in better shape, it’s easy to find reasons not to do something why not take the leap and do the hike now?

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See the sunrise
Making an effort to see the sunrise isn’t as difficult as you might think. You don’t need to view it from a mountain top or from the tallest building in your town. Scout out an easy location and make a plan to watch the sun come up. Accompany it with your morning coffee or tea to enrich the experience. On the flip side, pull an all-nighter and end it with seeing the sun come up – now that’s an end to a night.

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Tell that special someone how you feel
Whether it be a close friend or a romantic interest you have extra special feelings for, tell them how you feel! Everyone loves to feel loved, start your year with confidence by spreading some love around.

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Go social media free
Hear me out! Remember what the days were like before social media? Yeah me neither. But take some time to find out. Take a social detox for a bit; a day, a week, a month, whatever. Get connected to the world in a new way and then return to social media rejuvenated.

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Do a 30 day challenge
Think of something in your life that you could really do without, something that isn’t providing anything positive to your life. Now eliminate it from your world for 30 days. This of course will take effort but could deem beneficial in the long run.

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Write a letter
Buy the 10 cent stamp, find an envelope, sit down and write a letter. It can be to anyone – as long as it’s a positive letter. Think of the friends you have living in a different part of the country, or the family out of town, or the person you have feelings for down the road. Sitting down to write to someone is special and a guaranteed way to make their day. Plus its fun getting surprise mail.

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Start a new hobby
Is there something you have always wanted to try, but just kept finding reasons not to? Do it! There is no time like the present. Maybe it’s kick boxing, or dance classes, or pottery or making your own wine, whatever the interest now is the time to take the steps into making it happen. New year, new skills for you.

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Do something that scares you
Something that is easier said than done, but I strongly believe in scaring yourself. If you are shy, take a theatre class. If you are afraid of heights, go bungee jumping or ride a roller-coaster. By challenging yourself in a way that terrifies you only helps you grow as a person. By starting off your year by dominating your fears, by diving outside of your comfort zone, well, it can only go up from there.

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Plan a solo trip
You might be in a long term relationship, or a happy singleton, whatever the case think of somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and make it happen. You are in charge of your year, might as well make it the best one. This is a great way to meet new people, claim your independence, see the world and feel great while doing it.

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Do the polar bear swim
Talk about a rush! And the best part, the hot chocolate you should definitely be treating yourself to right after.

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Most Romantic Things You Can Do For Your SO

There has got to be nearly a million different ways to romance your significant other or person you are desperately trying to woo. And while grand, dramatic gestures do tend to get the job done, sometimes (most times), romance doesn’t have to result in a dwindling bank account. Often it’s the simpler actions that are not only more memorable but show your extra special person that you care all the time, even amidst the mundane.  As a regular human girl I love to romance and be romanced just as much as the next person. When all your Notebook learned tactics have subsided, these are some sure fire hits in my “look at how much I care about you!!!” list to add to yours.

Write them a letter
This is first on the list for a reason. What is more romantic than sitting down penning how wonderful you think a person is? Nothing, that’s what. Your letter doesn’t even have to be pure mush, it can be chock full of inside jokes or just telling your SO or person you’re vying for about your day – doodles are welcome. Or on the flip side, make it steamy. A sexy mid day letter is definitely more exciting than anything else you had on the agenda.Whichever kind of letter, the point is, you have taken the time to do something sweet. Bonus points for actually mailing it. 

Plan an evening with all their favourite things
Favourite wine? Check! Favourite snacks? Check! Pizza from favourite pizza place? CHECK! This is the easiest way to show someone you cherish them. An evening featuring all their fave things, you cannot fail.

Epic kiss goodbye
Throw all your PDA apprehension to the wind and go for that epic, over the top war time kiss! It’s a little excessive to do this all the time, but here and there a dramatic smooch is the perfect amount of romance. Just gauge the situation. Talk about leaving them wanting more!

Write them a Song
Yes, this does sound daunting. But if you’ve got the knack, go for it! We can’t all be Paul writing songs for Linda, but channel your inner John, there’s an “Oh Yoko!” inside all of us. 

Just Because Texts
It’s hard not to smile ear to ear when you get an unexpected text from that person saying they’re thinking of you, want to see you later or maybe they’ve just looked across the room and just needed to tell you how great you look. Yep, swoon.

Make a Mixtape
A personal favourite. When your own words just aren’t adequate enough it’s nice to know it’s all been said before – and to music. If the capacity to create an actual mixtape or CD isn’t there, a carefully curated playlist made special for someone is more than ok. An exclusive score to how you feel about someone is just about as dreamy as it gets.

Grab a warm drink and take a midnight stroll
Go out in the middle of the night when your city is quietest and walk around getting to know each other. Simple, easy…and it works.

Breakfast in Bed
It’s a classic for a reason. Waking up to food is basically the dream. Everyone loves to be treated like a King or Queen once in awhile, do it with a side of bacon. 

Plan a spontaneous road trip and/or make travel plans to see them
Spontaneity in and of itself has so many levels of romantic opportunity, accompany that with a quick trip to somewhere you’ve never visited together. Make it even more memorable with stops along the way. Alternatively, if you can’t be in the same city as your person, surprise them!

Go to the Local Amusement Park
While it may not always be in season, the amusement park date is time-honoured. Win prizes for each other at the standard carnival games, share cotton candy on the Ferris Wheel, take in the sights and sounds while holding hands. The innocence that comes with going to an amusement park is tender in itself, you can only be happy at the fair.

Give them a massage
Please. Need I say more?

5 Things You Shouldn’t Rush in a New Relationship

You know the feeling when you’ve just started dating someone, things are going extraordinarily well, and you feel as though you are living out your own musical? We’ve all been there. You somehow work their name into every conversation, your thoughts are on them all the time; grocery shopping, in the shower, girls night, meetings at work, no locale is safe. Basically your world has developed a dream-like haze giving you the impression that this is what life in love was meant to be like. During this time – this amazing, sparkly time – it’s easy to make a slew of blunders that would, in turn, ruin your new romantic glow. Rushing into things when starting out with a new love can happen without a thought, and end having made a big mistake. There is an art to taking it slow; here are some things that should avoid being rushed in a new relationship.

1. Moving in together

If it’s meant to be, it will be. If it’s meant to last, you will have all the time in the world to nag him about putting the toilet seat down, and cleaning up after himself. He will have a lifetime to complain about how you do the dishes and leave your hair in the shower drain. Of course, deciding to live with your significant other is a wonderful and exciting time. But why rush it? Enjoy this time of longing! And go on pretending like your apartment “always looks like this”.

2. Sharing financial information

What is sexier than the sharing of financial information? Uh, pretty much everything!.Money talk is serious talk. Let’s save these kinds of serious convos for when they absolutely need to be shared. You don’t need to know how he separates his bank accounts, and he doesn’t need to know about your crippling debt. Not yet at least.

3. Talk of your future together (weddings, babies, etc…)

While it’s not uncommon for this topic to come up fairly early on, it’s best to control how often and to what extent. Sure you want to know how he feels about marriage, or if he wants kids in the future. Especially if these things are deal breakers for you. But it’s certainly best not to dwell on them. This is an exciting time in your relationship that should be spent learning about each other and living in the present, rather getting lost in the future. Don’t waste it!

4. Saying I love you

As cheesy as it may be, saying I love you and hearing it back is without a doubt one of the best feelings in the world. In a new relationship it may be hard not to bust out an “I love you” every time he says something mildly sweet, or picks up your favorite chocolate bar. But, hold your horses girl! Get to know each other, when you say it after really connecting it will mean so much more and be much more meaningful. Wait until you’re both so in love that you think you might explode if you don’t say it, he’s probably feeling the same.

5. Talking about exes

Oh yes, that uncomfortable taboo subject, the ex. There are some things you probably want to know about your partners past significant others. But, you know what, you are just going to have to trust that the person you think is so great, actually is that great. Just like talking about your future, it’s normal to get a few things out of the way – how have things ended in the past, was cheating involved, what was the level of respect – which is fine. But beyond that, knowing about the intricate details of past relationships doesn’t contribute to the success in your current one. The more you get to know each other the more it’s fair game to share about past relationships. Why dwell on the past, when your present is pretty darn swell?”

Backpacking With Your Partner – The Things No One Tells You

I am probably not the first person nor the last to reveal this not so ground breaking information: backpacking with your significant other can make or break you. Regular travel with your partner has its own onslaught of complications, but take away luxury, insert a backpack, throw in some hostels and overnight buses and you’ve got yourself a disaster disguised as the anti-romcom. Don’t worry though; I am not focused on the business of breaking relationships, but rather making them.

Here’s the thing, backpacking with your partner has the potential to be awesome. But, not in the way you imagine it in your mind. You will not be walking hand in hand down beaches barefoot with floral crowns, looking like the sun kissed Coachella inspired hippie you long to be. You will, however, be carting a heavy back pack, doing your best to cover up burnt skin and sporting a matted top knot that you are too afraid to take down. In this time – where you can easily be described as “Crustifarian” – you will learn so much about yourself and your partner, bringing you closer than any other kind of adventure. I’m here to tell you the things no one reveals when you are about to embark on this journey with your significant other and how to prepare for them.

Don’t fill your backpack and for pete’s sake do not share a backpack

Yes, your backpack is not that big and sure you think you are “probably not going to buy much” so you go ahead and stuff your sack. This is a huge mistake. As your journey progresses you will start to resent the extra pair of shoes and the excess of books you decided you “needed” to have with you. Extra stuff means extra weight. If one person is forced to move significantly slower because of the weight of their pack, the other may will start to get frustrated. Plus, when you’re strolling through your tenth market in South East Asia and see yet another pair of elephant pants that you are “totally going to wear all the time back home” you need somewhere to store them. Don’t worry too much about having cute outfits for every day of the week, but aim for functionality. When you finish a book, leave it behind at a hostel; your back will thank you.

Create a budget, together

I am a firm believer in not over planning, except when it comes to money. Speak in great length with your partner about how much money you are each bringing, and where it will be allocated. This will avoid awkward situations where one of you just can’t afford an activity…or lunch. Be honest with yourself and with your partner. If you know you’re the type that shops or needs at least one night sleep at a reputable hotel, don’t be afraid to give yourself a little extra where it’s needed.

Think about the “type” of traveler you both are

There are so many different kinds of travelers. A quick and sure fire way to destroy your trip is to find out that your travel styles don’t mesh. Maybe you are all about adventure and your partner just wants to spend each day chilling on a beach. Talk about it before hand so there are no surprises. The easiest way to get the best of both worlds is compromise.

“Hangry” is a real thing; grumpiness is an inevitable part of the journey

You will not always be fully rested, fed and functioning on all cylinders. Grumpiness is very much a part of the ride. Not every moment of your trip will be filled with life changing inspiration. Sometimes you’ll feel crappy and that’s OK. Always carry a bottle of water and some snacks on you, even if you don’t think you will need it. These are small steps to take for huge relief.

You are going to stink

This may be contingent to the type of backpackers you become together, but it is probable that at some point you are going to smell, bad. Not all hostels have nice showers, working showers… or any showers at all. There will be times when the struggle is so real, Charlie Brown’s Pigpen will be the equivalent to Mr. Clean to you. If you are traveling somewhere hot, and need cheap transportation, you better believe the AC will not be great. It’s all part of the grand journey. Pro tip: baby wipes are your best friend.

You are always going to be around each other

You are each other’s travel companion, essentially the other person’s sanctuary away from home. And while the idea of spending every waking moment with the love of your life sounds ideal, it’s not always. In an attempt to keep the magic alive all through your trip, take time for you! Whether it be zoning out with your headphones on listening to your iPod, or taking a walk alone, absence – even if only for an hour – makes the heart grow fonder. Plan a dinner out, or an activity after your alone time so you have a new and exciting way to spend your renewed time together.

You will experience limited privacy; bathroom time included

Depending on the type of backpacker you are, how adventurous you are and where you are traveling you might be faced with a seemingly awkward bathroom situation. If food poisoning in Cuba has got you down and out, the least of your worries should be paranoia that your partner is in the next room “experiencing” it all with you. You’d be surprised at the amount of “quality” hostels that do not have bathrooms with doors that fully close. Pro tip: always carry matches and an extra roll of toilet paper!

All that being said, backpacking with your significant other doesn’t have to only be arduous but an exhilarating experience for your relationship. The things you will experience together on your journey cannot compare to any other adventure. I highly recommend it!

What To Watch When You Actually Want To Netflix & Chill

Dating can be exhausting, tricky business and you’ve managed to get through it like a pro; you met someone on PlentyOfFish, charmed them with your wit, asked them out, kept the charm train rolling all through your first date, and just like that you are modern day Lucy and Ricky.

One of the best parts about living in this digital day and age is that we can constitute watching TV as a date. There is no time like the present and the present commands you Netflix and Chill! Chances are, you have already experienced the ole “Netflix and Chill” combo with your new partner, but when the time feels right and you actually want to chill out – clothes on – reliable Netflix has your back.

Here are some programs worth checking out when you actually want to Netflix and Chill.

Master of None (TV show)

Aziz Ansari – the leading brain behind Master of None – plays Dev, a likeable, struggling actor navigating his way through the dating world in New York City. Master of None is a contemporary take on the sitcom. Its humor and writing are steadfast, it offers an excellent female perspective, and it portrays the highs and lows of dating with relatable effortlessness. What’s not to love? It’s a top notch program to snuggle up next to your partner with. Throw on an episode – or ten – and get ready to not only bust a gut laughing at Dev’s rapid fire wordplay but “awwwww” when he does something sweet for the girl he’s vying for.

Fuller House (TV show)

This 90’s spin off is the cheesiest, most loveable thing on Netflix. The show centers on DJ Tanner, her younger sister Stephanie and best friend Kimmy. Fuller House is filled with cringe worthy catch phrases like “Holy chaluppas!” and “oh my lanta!” but nails it with nostalgia. Complete with appearances from the original Full House cast, when you hear that “What ever happened to predictability…” get ready for the warm and fuzzies. You and your partner can yearn for 1993 while making fun of – but secretly loving- Fuller House.

Daredevil (TV show)

Who doesn’t love a good superhero story? This one involves protagonist Matt Murdoch, a blind lawyer developing a penchant for sticking up for the underdog and consequently becoming the hero of Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Like all superheroes, his good deeds are not initially met with full acceptance. Daredevil is the kind of engaging show that tugs on your heart strings paired with gore that’ll make you want to vomit.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Movie)

Anything Judd Apatow touches turns to gold; partner him with Jason Segel and you’ve got yourself a worthwhile evening. The movie is about a guy named Peter (Jason Segel), who gets ruthlessly dumped by his girlfriend and finds himself in Hawaii trying to get over her while coincidentally staying at the same hotel as his ex and her new Rockstar boyfriend. All of Apatows’ movies will have you cry-laughing; the comedic writing in Forgetting Sarah Marshall is certainly no exception, making it the perfect ingredient for a great date.

The Breakfast Club (Movie)

A John Hughes world – one that is riddled with angst filled teens exploring their heart depths – is worth revisiting over and over again. We’ve all seen The Breakfast Club and subsequently probably feel akin to one of the Saturday morning miscreants. It’s the perfect date movie to watch if nostalgia and heartwarming story lines are your cup of tea.

Midnight in Paris (Movie)

With a French Cabernet Sauvignon and charcuterie for two; Midnight in Paris is the quick n’ dirty answer to a romantic night in. Swoon worthy, Midnight in Paris, directed by the legendary Woody Allen, is one of those instant modern classics. It’s the kind of dream like story which follows a novelist as he vacations with his fiancé in Paris. Lead by Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris takes you through the jazz age while gallivanting with literary greats in the cobblestone streets that make up the city of love. Owen Wilsons’ character, Gil, falls in and out of love with life and its facets while you fall into a French comma brimmed with charming Parisian haze.
So, what are you waiting for? Netflix is your oyster, get inside and chill!

Can You Be Friends With An Ex?

The answer is yes! – But it’s complicated.

There is something that drew you to this person; something more than their winning smile. It is natural for a person to desire a level of friendship after the romance has ended. Whether you are craving a best friend or an acquaintance, when it comes to answering the age old question, there are more than a few things to consider.

Are there any lingering emotional feelings?

You cannot be friends with your ex if one or both of you still harbors a romantic hard on for the other person. You just can’t. In a lot of ways being friends with your ex means you get a lot of the good parts of that person. The headaches associated with dating are left behind, leaving room for the uncomplicated stuff. If you are still attracted to your ex romantically, it will confuse your brain into thinking there may be something more than just friendship. It becomes easy to forget the initial reasons as to why you ended things in the first place.

Were you friends before?

Sure, it may be difficult to remember a time when your ex wasn’t part of your life. But think hard and be honest. Not only were you friends before but what level of friendship did you have?
If you and your closest pal gave dating a go and managed to end things like all stars – amiably – don’t punish yourselves. If you can handle being friends, be friends! It’s difficult to turn the part of your brain off that cares deeply for the other person. You’ve handled things like a boss, gained a life experience and now you get your pal back. Avoid interfering in your ex’s impending love life and your friendship should be golden.

This doesn’t quite work as well if there was never an initial friendship. Perhaps you grew to be great friends overtime, as you were dating. But, keep in mind this friendship evolved amidst feelings of infatuation and lust. It’s not impossible, but tread lightly. Most importantly, let the dust settle on your romantic relationship before forcing something that wasn’t even there before.

Will this friendship interfere with future relationships?

Friends who were once exes should never make future significant others feel threatened. If you remain friends with an ex and start dating someone new, there are many feelings to keep in check. If at any point your current other half feels the friendship with your ex is more than a “friendship,” it’s time to reassess. While you and your ex may think nothing of the friendship your new partner may be intimidated by the meaningful bond you once shared.

Once the relationship has ended and you’re no longer swimming in an ice cream tub of self-scrutiny it is not unfounded to consider a friendship with your ex. If you are able to have a great friendship with your ex – where there is mutual respect with all parties involved – than, go you! You’re killing it at being a mature, affable adult!