Top 5 Tips For Better Blogging

I never thought that when I started my blog in 2013 that 4 years later it would be my main source of income. I started it as a fun project with Bianca, one of my best friends from college, as a way for us to keep connected and show what we thought was cool. However, we sat down one day and very seriously wrote out a plan, brainstormed ideas, and tried to come up with something that we thought was unique.

Thus Artisan & King was born. 

It took a while to find the perfect name, but one day while getting lost in a blackhole of the internet, I found myself taking a personality test, which classifies you into one of seven Roles: Server, Artisan, Warrior, Scholar, Sage, Priest, and King. Can guess what I ended up being? 

Yup, I was an Artisan and after making Bianca take the test and being proclaimed a King (or Queen), we knew we had found our name. This leads me to my first tip for better blogging.


1. HAVE A MEMORABLE NAME

There are thousands of blogs today, and if you want yours to be one that is remembered than you’re going to have to make yourself stand out in the sea of saturation. People often have no idea why my blog is called Artisan & King, and to be fair the mystery is part of the appeal for me. It’s a great conversation starter, and it reminds people that we all have an artisan (creative) and a king (leader) in all of us. 

Personally, I also think it sounds slightly more professional from a business stand point to have a blog name that differs from your actual name. Yes, my social media accounts are all my name, but that is also where I feel slightly more personal. My blog on the other hand is my home base for everything I want to talk about, not just one quick image from one specific day. When I think about my fellow bloggers who have made a real career out of blogging, they too have their blog name and their actual name as something different.


2. COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE

This is something that so many people shy away from because they’re either too afraid to reach out to someone they admire, or they simply think it’s better to do everything on their own. As someone who grew rather quickly in the blogging sphere, I can promise you that reaching out to people I admired was not only beneficial for me, but for them as well. We were able to build relationships, share each other’s content, and when it comes time to recommend other bloggers for jobs, we don’t think twice about who to suggest.

The other thing that I think scares a lot of people away from collaborating is that there’s an idea that you’ll be handing over jobs, or giving your competition something that should have been yours. Here’s the thing, whether you do or don’t work with someone, they’ll still be out there in the blogging sphere, and I can promise you they’ve been seen by the same clients. It’s not a win/lose relationship when it comes to collaborating, it’s a win/win, and you’ll only benefit by teaming up with other bloggers. 

Yes, not everyone will want to collaborate, but some will. Yes, following size will range between bloggers, but as long as the collaboration makes sense this shouldn’t matter too much. And yes, you should think strategically when it comes to your collaborations, after all this is a business, so get out there and collaborate with bloggers like you!

Plus it’s a great way to meet new people, and I’ve actually made quite a few friends by doing this.


3. BE AUTHENTIC

This is the most fundamental piece to blogging when looking to make a well rounded blog. I accredit my authenticity to what helped me grow quickly in the beginning, and what helped me find my voice.

When Artisan & King first launched it was meant to be a lifestyle blog with a guy/girl take on fashion; however, after going through my first real break up with my first real love, I couldn’t find any interest in fashion. I was writing, but about my feelings, and I just couldn’t force myself to write about something that didn’t feel relevant to me. Thus, the “Feelings” section in my blog was given life and I was able to post my first piece.

I would’ve never guessed that this section of my blog was where I’d originally find my audience from; what would be the tipping point for becoming a professional blogger; or what would give me the chance to be a contributor for The Huffington Post.

To this day the Feelings section in my blog is my personal favorite as it’s where I get to speak my truth, leave pieces of my heart, and write things that help others feel less alone. Ultimately this section is the voice for the blog as a whole.

I can’t stress it enough, but the more authentic you are, the more people will want to be a part of your journey because in so many ways it’s their journey too.


4. STAND FOR SOMETHING

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So many social media accounts today are endless vanity projects that do nothing, but give their owners a false sense of validation. I know that when I first started my modeling career, what I was looking for beyond money was validation. It’s something that we all want, and it makes sense as we all deal with silly insecurities; however, if all your posting about is stuff and your gorgeous face than people will get bored.

I often joke that you should use your powers for good, not evil, so if you find that images of yourself do the best, as they almost always do, then incorporate important messaging.

This specific tip is one that I find myself frustrated with when looking through things like Instagram because so many people have giant accounts and don’t use them to promote important occurrences, news, organizations, differing cultures, or a plethora of socially conscious things. I respect that not everyone is interested in world events, or that they think their opinion is relevant, but when we watch people like Donald Trump get elected to office, it’s clear that we need more and more people speaking up. Especially those who have the power to influence thousands, if not, millions of people. These things most likely won’t pay you in monetary value, but they will pay you in so many other ways, and at the end of the day I can promise you that when I have spoken out on controversial topics I haven’t lost followers, likes, engagement, or branded contacts, so don’t let those things hold you back from doing what you know is right.

If you’re serious about making blogging a profession than you have to understand that at the end of the day, you’re agreeing to letting the public into your life. It may not seem that way in the beginning, but the more you start to share, the more you realize this is part of the job, and for better or worse, it’s not going to change.


5. BE USEFUL

Being useful perfectly puts the cherry on top of the sundae when it comes to sharing my top 5 tips for blogging. 

By being useful you are giving a potential follower a reason to hit follow, not just like your pics and disappear. Whether it’s style tips, workout tricks, or inspiring others to pursue their dreams, you need to make sure that you serve a purpose. Too many people get caught up in just creating beautiful content, which I’m not including in this list because beautiful content is a must, not a tip. However if your blog, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever is just beautiful to look at, eventually people will get bored of it, so make sure that you have a target mission that sits at the heart of your blog.

Additionally, remember that you should try and find a focus that fits what you’re good at. If you can’t cook, don’t be a food blogger, but maybe be a “learning to cook” food blogger. There’s a way to spin anything into an interesting and engaging blog, but remember you have to find a way to make yourself standout.

Today blogging is a lucrative profession that thousands of people are looking to break into everyday. It’s a major offered at universities, and something that is only growing. I often accredit timing, my eduction, and dedication as being the 3 key things for how I found my place in this highly saturated world of blogging. While blogging looks easy and glamorous from the outside, it’s actually a very time consuming profession that often doesn’t pay off until years later, or if ever. 

While you may think you can just jump on the blogging bandwagon, quit your job, and do whatever you want, it just doesn’t work that way. So make sure you are ready to spend hours each day alone writing, your own money on things that you hope one day become free, and people thinking your nuts because you’re following your wanderlust. 

Blogging isn’t for everyone, but if you think you have an original idea, what it takes, and the drive and dedication to make it big then implement these 5 tips and get going because every second you waste someone else is out there living the life you dream of.

Posted on November 14, 2017 .

Booting It Up For Fall With Zappos X Steve Madden

Sponsored by Zappos!

Fall is definitely here!

After being in South East Asia for 3 months and gone from from my beloved NYC, I found myself in the middle of fall with nothing but summer clothes. My experience was beyond amazing, but there’s nothing like returning home, especially to New York when the leaves are changing, sweaters are necessary, and a stylish pair of boots becomes a wardrobe staple.

I knew I wanted new boots, but I wasn’t exactly sure what brand or style I wanted, so I turned to Zappos to help me narrow my search. With just a few clicks I found myself searching through Steve Madden’s wide range of boots and styles. After finding Steve Madden’s Paterson Boots, I knew I had found a winner. They’re cool, edgy, and clean. Beyond all of that, the Paterson Boots are the perfect addition to step up anyone’s style game.

With just a few more clicks I had managed to use Zappos world class customer service to figure out exactly what size I needed as I had never ordered a pair of Steve Madden shoes before, and we all know sizes vary depending on the brand. My Zappos customer service rep was amazing, and made sure that everything was all set before reminding me that there’s a free return policy, which I luckily didn’t need.

I used Zappos next day shipping service to get my Steve Madden shoes quick. The next day I was wandering around NYC perfectly suited for fall. Whether you’re looking for a wardrobe must have, or just looking to add another pair of fresh kicks to your closet Zappos is the perfect place to check off all your shoe dreams.

Head over to zappos.com now to browse through their endless styles and options!

Posted on November 10, 2017 .

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day that doesn't get enough recognition here in the US.

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Now that I'm back in NY, my mission is to work with more and more people, groups, and companies to help bring awareness to the importance of mental health.

As a Behavioral Change Expert and Life Coach, I've worked with many individuals and groups around the world, and watched incredible change: in overall happiness, feelings of peace, and stress management evolve by implementing small but impactful habits.

If you, someone you know, or your company is looking to simply be happier, deal with stress better, or create meaningful change in a personal and/or professional manner then please reach out to me. I've made the changes myself, I've watched others make the changes, and I can promise life doesn't have to feel so hard.

So my final question is: What are you waiting for?

Please feel free to email me at artisanandking@gmail.com or fill out the form below to inquire about personal one-on-one sessions or my 6-8 week course. I'm happy to provide any answers to questions you may have, and know this can be an intimidating dialogue to start.

You deserve to have it all!

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Posted on October 10, 2017 .

A Fall Escape: Storm King Art Center

A journey through time in more ways than one.

Since coming back from my South East Asian adventure, I've made it a point to be more social, explore my own backyard, and do fun stuff. So when a friend suggested heading 2 hours outside of NYC to visit Storm King Art Center I was down for an adventure.

As we journeyed through classic North Eastern fall foliage with Alanis Morissette blasting in the car, I couldn't help but be reminded of my childhood. Growing up on Long Island, it was a signal that time was changing when you saw the leaves graduate from green to orange, red, and yellow; something I took for granted, but as an adult am so aware of. 

Add some Alanis to the mix and a wave of memories came flooding back into my consciousness. Sense memory triggers fully at work, a moment of gratitude, and before I knew it we were at the iconic open-aired museum located in Mountanville, New York.

Named after its proximity to Storm King Mountain, and containing perhaps the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States, Storm King was founded by Ralph E. Ogden in 1960 as a museum for Hudson River School paintings. Now it acts as a getaway for not just New Yorkers, but people visiting from far and wide looking to find some nature, art, and intrigue while on the east coast. 

Welcome to Storm King

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XOXO

Never stop exploring, spending time outdoors, and going on adventures with good people.

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

Let’s Talk About Sex

Safe sex.

You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, and I know majority of us are doing what they do on the discovery channel, so let’s be mature adults and talk about condoms.

Standard condoms only properly fit 12% of condom users, and if we’re doing the deed, we want it to be as pleasurable and safe as possible. Condoms that fit too tight or too loose make it harder to orgasm, keep an erection, and enjoy sex overall. The idea of one-size-fits-all never made sense for anything, so why would we expect it to work for condoms?

MyONE Perfect Fit condoms is the perfect solution to this problem. Ranging in sizes from 4.9 - 9.4 inches long and 3.5-5 inches in circumference these perfect fit condoms are a game changer when it comes to sex. MyONE believes that consumers no longer need to sacrifice comfort for safety and with over 60 different sizes available, they solve the condom fitting problem.

Whether you’re a banana, zucchini, carrott, stick of celery, or a piece of chorizo, there is a perfect fitting condom for you with MyONE.

Figuring out your size is beyond simple with MyONE’s FitKit available online at myonecondoms.com, and to make sure you get the right size, MyONE offers a free sampling program. 

And if all this talk about condoms, penis size, and sex makes you a little nervous and uncomfortable, you have nothing to worry about: shipping and size labels are completely discreet. There are a range of subscriptions you can sign up for, the best value being the 24-pack subscription, which makes each condom cost 66 cents. Not too shabby at all!

Look, I get it, who wants to talk about condoms? The thing is, it would be way more irresponsible to act like any of us weren’t having sex, and to avoid the topic all together. So let’s be grown ups, protect our own body, and our partner's bodies. 

Sex is fun, and it should be enjoyable in every sense, so check out MyONE Perfect Fit condoms, and let the good times roll.

Posted on October 5, 2017 .

The 4 Big Pro Gun Arguments Obliterated 

Guns. Firearms. Death Weapons.

Protection. Stimulant to the Economy. Food Gatherer. 

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As we continue to be desensitized by another mass shooting, I found myself having discussions with people I love about why they believe they should have the right to own a gun. In doing so arguments that I often think about, but roll my eyes to came up. Looking to fully understand how anyone could still think that guns should be not just accessible, but in existence, I challenged myself to think critically about the arguments that politicians, pro-gun lobbyist, and countless Americans employ. 

This is what I found:

The Economy Argument

As the world’s largest dealer of fire arms it makes sense that the United States has the most firearms per capita. Right now there are more than 300 million firearms in the US, and that represents just the ones reported.

There seems to be this argument that if we ban guns, we will be taking away people’s jobs, a money making venture for the US, and a general wealth. 

As it sits right now, the wealth of the US is dominated by 1% of extremely wealthy individuals, and the lack of distribution to the lower classes, a large group of people who adamantly fight for their right to bear arms, don’t see this or any social benefits that come with being a “super power.” What is the point of being a “super power” and a wealthy country if all of our citizens don’t have healthcare, clean water, and shelter?

Secondly, it is time that our citizens started learning new skills, or translated their skill set into something that doesn’t create a deadly weapon because that is what firearms are, deadly weapons. Yes, many people will have to step out of their comfort zone to learn a new skill, talk to new coworkers, or be a part of the liberals that want to help all classes have the basic human rights. However, when we step out of our comfort zone we find that our lives change for the better, and many other opportunities present themselves.

Additionally, if we no longer produce firearms than our country will no longer be providing firearms to other countries, terrorist groups, or any other consumer of these deadly weapons.

What the economy argument truly boils down to are larger problems that surround greed and power by the 1% of America’s elite. The NRA funds government officials to vote in their favor, so that these few individuals don’t have to face the country’s growing problems, which is that we will become very irrelevant globally if we stop producing firearms. 

To really drive this idea home, it’s important to note that with less guns we’d have less gun related injuries, which would mean our medical field in the US would also have to have a discussion based on preventive medicine rather then medicine that deals with a problem once it’s proliferated. 

It’s time we started investing in other ventures and looking to the future, which is going to come with or without us.

The “It’s My Right” Argument

There's a huge argument regarding the 2nd Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms. I understand that this is an amendment built into the United States Constitution, but when over 1.56 million people are homeless, 1 in 8 households are food insecure, and majority of Americans don’t have access to medical care something is fundamentally wrong.

Furthermore, this amendment was written into the constitution in 1791. The type of firearms that are employed today didn’t exist and I highly doubt could have even been imagined by our founding fathers. 

If guns were banned from the US than this idea of a right, which is greatly skewed, would no longer be necessary because we’d all have no need for guns.

The Hunting Argument

Another common argument that pro-gun citizens like to use is the fact that many families get their source of food from hunting, and if we were to ban guns many people wouldn’t have the same access to meat. 

While guns do provide an easy way to kill a harmless animal, there are other ways to do so. A bow and arrow was how people originally hunted their meat, and if we are going to continue to allow this argument to be employed than we need to discuss that fact that we’ve evolved as people that don’t need to hunt. Guns have evolved and not for this reason. We are no longer hunter-gatherers, we’ve become a culture of settlers.

There is no sport to hunting when you can shoot an animal from an extreme distance and use a firearm that shoots off multiple rounds in the matter of seconds. 

Furthermore, the FDA has even stated that majority of our diets should be plant-based with meat acting as a side, if at all. We no longer need the amount of meat that our ancestors needed, and if people want to live like them then they should have to hunt like them.

As a side note, meat is remarkably inexpensive to buy in the US because of factory farming, which is a whole other argument, but one that is important to touch on because this industry is closely linked to the NRA, the American Heart Association, and the same elected officials who vote against the majority of US citizens.   

The Protection Argument

One of the biggest arguments surrounding the right to bear arms is the idea of protection.

I’d like to ask those of you who are reading this that support this argument, who exactly are you protecting yourself from?

Terrorists, gang members, the crazy man down the street?

Well, if we were to ban guns, or at least look where and who we are selling them to, none of these people would be able to get firearms. We directly or indirectly supply firearms to all those who we are taught to fear. Yes, even terrorists abroad have acquired many firearms through our poor systems and laws.

We are literally in the middle of an argument to legalize silencers for the average American to own and use. What would the average American need a silencer for?

There’s a huge myth that the NRA likes to spread, which is that owning a gun will protect you. The truth of the matter is, it is far more likely to harm you or a loved one. 

Using data from 1981–2010 and the best firearm ownership proxy to date, the most recent study examining the relationship between firearms and homicide rates on a state level found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate.

Studies have been done looking at countries that allow guns with ease, and those that don’t have guns at all, and those that have banned firearms have found what one would expect, a significantly lower number of deaths by firearms.

Going one step further, suicide rates drop dramatically when firearms are not allowed to be owned. It literally is the easiest way to kill oneself, and unfortunately what majority of suicide victims employ for this heartbreaking occurrence. 

When there are 1.69 million American children living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms, and 73% of children aged nine and under report knowing the location of their parents’ firearm, can we be surprised that 89% of accidental shooting deaths among children occur in the home? 

Finally, when we look at other countries that don’t use firearms within their police forces, we see that there are less firearm related deaths. Countries like Australia, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Germany, France, Iceland, and Sweden train their law enforcement to be in good physical condition, think critically, and handle situations without the use of firearms. Why? Because if you don’t have a gun, you can’t act rash and just shoot someone, which unfortunately happens way too often in the US.

By properly training and vetting our law enforcement officers, and requiring them to be in top physical condition the need for guns is simply unnecessary.

To add to these sentiments, it’s incredibly important to look at a few statistics:

  • Since the American Revolution 1,396,733 Americans have died in wars. 
  • Since 1968 1,516,863 Americans have died by firearm-related deaths (not wars). 
  • In 2017 at least 59 people were killed and over 500 more have been hurt in some way in the Las Vegas shooting.
  • In 2016 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded in the Orlando shooting.
  • In 2012 20 six and seven year olds were shot and killed in Sandy Hook.
  • In 1999 13 people were killed in Columbine.
  • American has 4.4% of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world.
  • America has 6 times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 time as many as Germany.
  • There have been 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.
  • On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America. 
  • States with more guns have more gun deaths.
  • Other developed countries with more guns also have more gun deaths.
  • The states with the most guns report the most suicides.
  • Since the shooting of Michael Brown, police have killed at least 2,900 people in the US.
  • In states with more guns, more police officers are also killed on duty.

What all major mass shootings have in common is that they’ve been executed by men, and more often than not, white-Christian-middle-class men. It’s important to note this because it highlights the ways in which we are avoiding issues beyond gun control, mental health being at the top of that list.

Ultimately, this is a conversation that is too far gone, but one that isn’t dead for lack of a better word, and we need to create change. The right to bear arms shouldn’t be a basic human right when actual things to survive like healthcare, clean food and water, and shelter are denied to so many. We are literally giving access to creating more death than we are to sustaining life. When a school full of children looking to learn, a church full of people looking to spread light, and a festival where people are looking to listen to music are shot up, we need to stop claiming that the wars we are fighting are outside our borders because they are in fact right here at home.

In closing, I have to ask, What will it take for all of us to agree that money and power do not champion human life?

What other arguments do you constantly hear?

Sources:

  1.  http://smartgunlaws.org/guns-in-the-homesafe-storage-statistics/
  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/01/good_guy_with_a_gun_myth_guns_increase_the_risk_of_homicide_accidents_suicide.html
  3. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-ii
  4.  http://www.worldhunger.org/hunger-in-america-2016-united-states-hunger-poverty-facts/
  5. http://www.socialsolutions.com/blog/2016-homelessness-statistics/
  6.  http://www.gunpolicy.org/
  7.  http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/aug/27/nicholas-kristof/more-americans-killed-guns-1968-all-wars-says-colu/
  8.  https://www.nbcnews.com/
  9.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-chart
Posted on October 3, 2017 .

New York Isn’t for Lovers

It’s a city for workers.

As I found myself back in the hustle and bustle of New York City after three months traveling South East Asia, a rush of perspective came flooding into my consciousness.

New York City is a city where people go to make their dreams come true, their work dreams. Yes, many people move to NY and fall in love, but the reason that drives millions of people to migrate to NYC isn’t to find a partner, it’s to find a career, opportunity, and the chance to make it big. After all, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

It’s an incredible city where you can be anyone, do anything, but falling in love isn’t necessarily the easiest. New Yorkers can get anything at anytime, and the never ending ease and excess is no different when it comes to finding a potential mate. It’s an exciting thought, but one that doesn’t translate into real life quite as well.

I’m sure you could make this argument about many major cities, but there is something to be said about NYC as it’s a city that attracts people from all over the world looking to broaden their horizons and find something new. It’s a place that pushes you harder than you could imagine to be the best version of yourself in many ways, but one that doesn’t stop and ask, “Are you ok?” 

“Of course I’m ok, I live in fucking New York City.”

But the thing is most New Yorkers are tired, rent-poor, and neglecting many other areas of their lives to make their careers the thing they thought they wanted, but many times find isn’t fulfilling. Being that we are constantly evolving, it makes sense that our dreams evolve as well, but it’s an incredibly hard thing to come to terms with, and ultimately understand that this is not a failure.

Add to the fact that years have been devoted, relationships have been sacrificed, and we can’t imagine our lives any other way, and it’s no surprise that so many people just suck it up for whatever excuses they employ.

NYC is a city that doesn’t promote strong spiritual health and mindfulness the same way it promotes clothes, cars, and coffee. There’s billboards advertising the latest phones, trends, and stars, but nothing promotes love.

And not just romantic love, but self-love as well. NYC culture breeds its inhabitants to push our bodies at the gym, our minds at work, and our energy levels throughout all of this. We work hard and play even harder, but rarely is there a moment built into our lives to recharge, reset, and take stock in the things that are truly important.

What are those things?

Community, relationships with nature, and altruism are all things that have been understood to add increasingly high value to all human’s lives. As happiness becomes a scientific study, researchers are finding that human interaction, gratitude, and being in open outdoor spaces are the key to finding one’s own lasting happiness. 

Ultimately, what I’ve found since leaving New York and then coming back is that NYC changes us. Sometimes for the good, but also sometimes for the bad. I’ve adopted saying hello to strangers, smiling as I walk, and making eye contact even more than I already did, and people think I’m crazy. I’ve realized that NYC is beyond expensive, and that without even realizing it I’ve fallen into being fancier than I ever thought I’d be, paying more for rent than I could’ve ever imagined, and found it was normal to pay $30 for an ok meal. 

But more than anything I’ve realized that NYC isn’t for lovers. A city that makes it easy to fall for one person, and have them fall for you. A place where you get swept up in each other in a healthy way, and think long term. Yes, people find this here, and I still have hope, but NYC definitely isn’t for the lovers, the dreamers, and maybe me.

Posted on September 29, 2017 .

The Big Secret To A Healthy Life

A good night's rest can completely change your life. Seriously, it can.

Think about it.

How amazing do you feel after a solid night's rest? I don't know about you, but a good night's sleep can completely change my behavior, mood, and habits, which is why I think it's time we had a little talk about sleep.

When discussing health, mentally or physically, we often talk about diet, supplements, and exercise, but the one big thing that can change everything is sleep.

In today's crazy rat race we often get sucked into our jobs, staying up late, and pushing our body's to the max, but we aren't allowing these precious machines the adequate time to relax, rejuvenate, and reset.

Honestly, you can eat the healthiest foods, workout 6 days a week, and do everything else perfect, but if you aren't getting enough or the right kind of sleep you won't find your body, mind, and soul feeling elevated, healthy, and fit.

Because of all of this, I knew I had to team up with Beautyrest Sleeptracker to share this amazing new standalone sleep monitoring device. The Sleeptracker will literally turn any bed into a smart bed by analyzing your entire sleep ecosystem, and provide highly accurate analytics revolving around your slumber.

There's no obnoxious wearable, set up is beyond easy, and you get all your data sent right to your phone through the Beautyrest Sleeptracker App. The patented system measures your respiration and heart rate with a 90% accuracy, and will truly provide you with information that will help you sleep deeper. 

This isn't just about giving you numbers, this is about coaching you to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling even more refreshed. 

You wouldn't keep using your phone after it's battery is dead, and you don't expect to feel great eating unhealthy food, so why would you allow yourself to have anything but the perfect night's sleep?

It's time to learn how to wind down, fall asleep more easily, and sleep soundly throughout the night. It's time to check out the Beautyrest Sleeptracker! You're only doing yourself a disservice by not sleeping like a baby every night, and both myself and the Beautyrest Sleeptracker want to help you get there.

Happy sleeping my gorgeous human beings! #ISleepTo maintain my health.

Posted on July 15, 2017 .

To Everyone Who Has Let Go Of A Toxic Father

As Father’s Day approaches it serves as a big reminder that not all of us will be celebrating. 

I have many friends that have had their dads pass away, and my heart goes out to all of them because they didn’t chose to not celebrate Father’s Day. However, my heart also goes out to those who have had to make the very hard decision to say good bye to their fathers, not because they’re no longer around, but because they were toxic to our lives.

I know that these two things are not the same, but I can speak from first hand experience and the heart that it doesn’t make this day any less painful, or act as a big reminder that many of us have had to say goodbye to someone who we once called Dad.

While I may not have physically lost my father, I have had to deal with the feelings of loss, and although I know he exists somewhere in the world, it doesn’t change the fact that he is no longer in my life.

Many of you will not understand why so many of us have had to let the men in our lives, who were supposed to be our father figures go, but for all of you who do, know that I get it.

I know what it feels like to wish you had a male role model in your life to show you how to be a man, or what it feels like to be a daddy’s girl. I know what it feels like to wish you had someone to go to when you just needed a big bear hug, or have conversations about life with. I know what it feels like to wish you could go to you dad and ask for advice on life, money, love, or any number of topics that you see your friends go to their dads for. I know what it feels like to wish you had your dad around to take care of your mom, who doesn’t know how to take care of herself. I know what it feels like to wish you had that built in support that comes from a dad. I know what it feels like to be reminded that you don’t have your dad around, and that he was never really that nice to you, but you tried so hard to make him like you.

It’s a hard thing to explain to anyone how you could cut someone out of your life, especially a parent, but when someone treats you badly, mentally and physically hurts your family, and manipulates all the relationships in their lives, you just learn that no title or amount of blood gives someone the right to be in your life. 

It truly is one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make, and it’s something we think about all the time because we know they are alive, but when we see how much brighter, lighter, and more peaceful our lives have become without this person, we can’t deny that we made the right decision. It doesn’t make it any less painful, and thinking about it still hurts, but knowing we’ve found peace makes us feel just that, peaceful. 

We tried and struggled to help our dads find their own peace, but as we learn, you can’t force someone to do anything, especially a parent. Even though we have let these men go, we don’t wish them ill will. We still hope that one day they find their own sense of peace, love, success, and joy because we know they’ve struggled to find those things their whole lives. 

So while Father’s Day is a day meant to celebrate dads, remember that it’s a day to also celebrate yourself, and the hard, but mature decisions you’ve made for yourself to have a better life. If you have a mom that stepped up and did the work of two parents than celebrate her today, and if you don’t have parents at all that you can celebrate today than celebrate your amazing friends, mentors, or family members who have become the fathers you deserve to have in your life.

While it’s just one day a year, it’s still a day that can make many of us feel sad, down, and a little bit lonelier, but what we all need to remember is that we can learn from our fathers regardless of if they are in our lives. We can either chose to be the victim and feel bad for ourselves, or learn from our father’s mistakes, and be the men and women they could never be. Father’s day will come and go, but who you decide to be, and how you decide to influence the world will last forever, so remember that there is a world of people out there that love you for all the reasons your father couldn’t, and we are proud of the men and women you have become.

Keep shining bright, keep being better than your father, and let love continue to guide you on your journey to be the ultimate version of yourself. 

Posted on June 18, 2017 .

Open-Faced Breakie Sandwich

Multigrain whole wheat bread, plump tomatoes, and tofu sausage topped with two over easy eggs. It's my high protein open-faced breakie sandwich. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Organic Free Range Eggs
  • 2 Pieces of Multigrain Whole Wheat Bread
  • 1 Tofu Sausage
  • 1/2 a Tomato
  • Avocado Mayonnaise 
  • Chili Flakes
  • Ground Pepper
  • Pink Himalayan Salt

Prepare:

  1. Slice your tomato.
  2. Cut your tofu sausage into 4 pieces.
  3. Heat your tofu sausage in skillet on stove top till lightly brown.
  4. Toast your 2 pieces of bread.
  5. Spread avocado mayonnaise onto toast.
  6. Add tomato slices to bread.
  7. Add 2 pieces of your tofu sausage to each slice of bread.
  8. On same skillet cook your two eggs to over easy.
  9. Add 1 egg to each slice of bread.
  10. Top with red chili flakes, pink Himalayan salt, and ground pepper. 

BAM!

And there you have a delicious and nutritious breakie sandwich. 

Posted on May 22, 2017 .

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Cherry Blossom Season

Every year in April the blossoming of cherry blossoms, or sakura as they are known in Japanese, become a spectacle across the Northern Hemisphere. In New York, we have our own cherry blossom season at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and for the first time ever I went to witness their incredible bloom.

Hanami is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming cherry blossom, and was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court; however, centuries later this relaxing practice has become one that people from all walks of life enjoy.

In conjunction with Buddhist influence and Japanese culture, cherry blossoms are thought to represent the ephemeral nature of life, and embody the concept of mono no aware or "the pathos of things.". I've always found these gifts from nature to be dazzling, but after learning about their symbolism I feel even more connected to these pink wonders.

If you have the chance I highly recommend going to take part in hanami for yourself, and dozing off underneath these Japanese symbols for clouds.

Posted on May 2, 2017 .

One & Only Hayman Island: My 'Treat-Yourself' Weekend

A truly one and only experience.

When I decided to come to Australia I had no set plans except that I was going to fly in and out of Sydney. Everything from there on out was up in the air.

After arriving in Sydney and narrowing down the few specifics of where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to see, I knew everything would just work out from there.

And for the record, it did.

As a child of nature, one thing I knew I had to do during my first trip to Australia was to go and swim at the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t know exactly where that was, how I was going to get there, and where I was going to stay, but after talking to a few friends and doing some research I found an incredible getaway that took care of all my questions.

One & Only Hayman Island Resort came up when asking one of my travel savvy friends where would be the best place to stay to visit the Great Barrier Reef. I had never heard of this gorgeous resort, but once I saw a few of pictures I knew I had to have a “treat-yourself” pre birthday weekend at this piece of paradise.

If I’m being honest, I very rarely treat myself to luxurious experiences because growing up my family struggled financially. Yes, I travel quite often, but I tend to do everything on a budget. However, as I head into my final year in my 20’s, I knew that this was something I had to do for myself, especially being that I was going to be able to fulfill one of my top bucket list items.

So I did.

A quick train ride from The Gold Coast to Brisbane, a flight from Brisbane to Hamilton Island, and BAM, I landed at the beginning of my One & Only experience. I knew that I had set something very special up for myself, but I had no idea how truly special One & Only would turn out to be.

As soon as I got off the plane I was greeted by one of the incredible staff members from One & Only Hayman Island Resort. Sarah helped collect my bags, and brought me to the yacht, yes yacht, that would take me the hour long ride from Hamilton Island to Hayman Island. I, along with the four couples aboard, was treated to champagne, snacks, and an interesting conversation with a younger couple from The Sunshine Coast celebrating their 4 year anniversary while riding this beautiful boat. 

As we approached the island, a team of One & Only staff members waved us in, and greeted each of us personally before being taken on a private tour of the truly incredible resort. 

Think the jungle meets island luxury, and that is where I found myself in awe.

After being escorted to my beyond gorgeous suite, I started my “treat-yourself” weekend with a delicious sashimi lunch at the resorts main pool, and then was off to a Swedish Deep-Tissue Massage that was insane. My masseuse, Dheeraj Shrestha from Nepal, and who has 10 years’ experience had the hands of an angel, and after being on a number of flights healed my achy body. I left feeling beyond relaxed, and decided to go for a sunset swim in one of the resorts salt watered pools.

A feeling of peace just kind of followed me from here on out while at One & Only Hayman Island.

My first day was concluded with a delicious dinner at the resorts Italian restaurant, Amici. A glass or two of Rose, lobster pasta, and the fish of the day left me feeling perfectly satisfied as I made my way back to my suite to quickly fall into one of the best sleeps I have ever had.

Waking up on day two to the sound of Cockatoos was truly magical. My alarm on my phone usually plays a gentle jungle bird symphony, so to wake up to the real life version was beyond special. 

Once I dragged myself out of bed, I had a beautiful breakfast at Pacific, and a casual paddle board session that left me reflecting on how truly grateful I was for what I’ve made my life to be. After watching giant Trevally Fish feed at the resort's Marina, I escaped to Blue Pearl Island by speedboat to snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef. 

I could try to explain how unbelievable this experience was, but words and pictures could never do justice to how magnificent seeing the Great Barrier Reef with your own two eyes truly is. It’s an experience of a lifetime, and I will forever forget the colors, patterns, and amazing creatures that roam around this natural wonder of the world.

A hike to the top of Whitsunday’s lookout point, and a session of meditation on the beach, left me feeling beyond grateful for the days exploration. 

As if things could get more eventful, I was treated to an indulging Chef’s Table experience that happens only once a week at the resort. This dinner, which I had the pleasure of experiencing with 13 other resort guests was a decadent immersion into fine dinning. This by far was one of my favorite activities during my stay at One & Only. I left this dinner having made new friends from around the world, and engaging my senses on multiple levels. 

The night concluded with some of us heading over to Aquazure for a night cap, which lead to some incredible conversation amongst this highly diverse group of people.

Before I knew it my third and final day had come. I wrapped up my stay with one final breakfast accompanied by two of the hotels amazing senior staff, who gave me some great insight into island living and things to do in Melbourne. An hour long ride back to Hamilton Island on the resort’s luxury yacht perfectly wrapped up one of the best weekends of my life, and just like that I was off to Melbourne.

I can honestly say that my final weekend of 28 was perfect, and that this was all because of One & Only Hayman Island.

I’ve always said it isn’t so much what you see, but who you meet along the way that makes travel so interesting, and my stay at One & Only solidified this thought for me. The resort sprinkled an indescribable magic with its welcoming and relaxing vibe that allowed me to interact with some truly inspiring and beautiful souls.

I met a gorgeous newlywed Indian couple, whose “small” wedding of 600 people in Bali sounded beyond incredible, and we made a promise to see each other again. I received an open invitation to dinner whenever I’m back in Sydney by a CEO and his stylish wife, who were beyond welcoming. I connected with a younger couple, who moved out of the city to a more rural part of Australia to breathe a little easier, and give their two adorable boys a better life. I met two of the most beautiful, friendly, and successful people I’ve ever met, who just happened to be this incredible couple. I got to dine, explore, and hike with a woman, who made my stay all the more amazing, and reminded me that I’ve got this weird sixth sense for understanding people.

Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better “treat-yourself” weekend, and I will forever remember all the adventures I went on, the people I met, and my overall stay at this piece of paradise.

28 you were truly great!

Posted on March 27, 2017 .

BarrettLust: An Australian Adventure

It's like wanderlust, but my own version.

Day 1. The beginning.

While I may have made it to my ultimate promise land, Australia, it definitely didn’t come stress free.

The journey started off with a full day in NYC, where the weather was beyond perfect, and I saw some of my favorite people. I had an unexpected and interesting send off from someone very important in my life, and found myself feeling lighter than I have in a while. I can’t completely explain why I feel like this day was the end of a really big chapter in my life, but something cosmic was shifting as I prepared to leave NYC for this epic adventure.

I think it may have been that a few of my worlds were colliding, and that this has been a trip I’ve wanted to take since I was really young. I haven’t traveled this far away ever, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m hoping that I fall in love with this country as much as I have dreamt, and relocate for a while.

Add to the fact that I know I won’t be returning to the same apartment that my life had found stability in, and it becomes all the more apparent that the most important chapter in my life thus far, really is over. 

NYC is incredible, but it starts to feel small, overwhelming, and excessive for no reason. The rat race is never ending, and I think I’m just ready for something new, something different, something unknown. I’ve been craving knowledge and the opportunity to learn for some time now, and think that traveling is one of the ultimate ways to learn about life.

If I’m being honest with myself, I know that if I do return home, I won’t be coming back as the same person I left. You never can after something like this, you just understand the world a little better, which helps you understand yourself better.

Even as I sit here writing this, I’m staring at the ocean, a city, and a beach, how could you not fall in love with this?

Anyways, only time will tell what is meant to be.

Getting back to the tale at hand, I found myself rushing to pack as the minutes flew by, and I realized I needed to leave my apartment asap. Lying to myself about how bad traffic would be, and against my better judgement, I called an Uber, and finally found myself embarking on the first leg of my long journey to get to Australia. Within 5 minutes it became apparent that my Uber driver was lying to me about how congested traffic really was, and after 25 minutes not going anywhere, I decided I had to “jump ship” and get on the subway.