Spring Break is fast- approaching: A perfect time to sit back, relax, and most importantly, to dive into some  good reads.  In order to save you the trouble of searching for the right book, I’ve composed a list of the ones every empowered lady should have on her reading list for a week of leisure!

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#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

This book is written by Nasty Gal founder and feminist advocate Sophia Amoruso.  She shares the struggles she experienced on her path to success, as well as other advice she has to offer for both surviving and thriving in the business world.  Her main focus is providing women with a vision for their career by sharing her own story and encouraging them to work their asses off without complaint.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur is an extremely talented feminist writer and artist from Canada.  Her book of poetry is beautiful and it is a quick, easy read for an on-the-go reader.  Kaur’s poems are about both the suffering and beauty associated with being in love, as well as the societal expectations imposed on women and how it impacts them from childhood to adulthood.  

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

If you haven’t heard of Amy Schumer, seen Trainwreck, or watched any of her standup performances, you definitely need to do so as soon as possible!  She will provide you with lots of laughs in her new autobiography, which tells the story of her rise to comedic fame.  Schumer’s life has been  filled with lots of heart breaking experiences, but fortunately, she knows how to to find the humor in almost any subject matter.

You Don’t Have to Like Me by Alida Nugent

In her latest book of essays, Nugent tells readers about discovering the gift of feminism, and how she learned to call herself a feminist after years of rejecting the term.  Nugent is witty and her essays are incredibly relatable, especially for millennial women.  She also provides convincing arguments on the importance of bodily choice, eating happily, and of course, a good lipstick.  This book is a fast read, but you won’t finish without both laughing and crying at the stories she tells.

Now that you have some recommendations, I hope you take a trip to the bookstore before break.  These are all great works by strong, female writers and will surely give you empowerment vibes to feed off of as you get back to work the following week!

 


Madeline is a student-athlete at New York University studying English and American Literature. Given her school’s location in Manhattan, Madeline loves to explore the city and document her various adventures on her blog, CrookedViewpoint.com.  You can also find her wandering around  bookstores searching for her next read and sipping an iced coffee. For a more holistic view of her creative and professional style, check out her portfolio website, MadelineHoward.com.

 

 

Let’s face it, it happens to the best of us: New Year's rolls around and we make that infamous commitment to go to the gym more or stop watching so much Netflix.  For the first few days, or maybe even the first few weeks, we keep up with it.  Then, we start to fall off the wagon.  We get too busy, or decide that the resolution just isn’t for us.  But the longer we fail at our resolution, the guiltier we feel.  Why didn’t we have the willpower to keep up with our goals?  I think it’s time to put the resolution failures behind us and find a way to meet our goals once and for all.  With just a few simple guidelines, I’ve unlocked a few ways to help you keep up with those pesky resolutions and stay proud of yourself.

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Pick Something Reasonable

This may seem obvious, but can be a difficult guideline to navigate.  The last thing you want to do when choosing your New Year’s resolution is set yourself up to fail.  If you are a major chocolate lover and decide that you’re going to try to quit chocolate cold turkey, you may find that you’re unable to keep that promise.  Instead of saying you’re going to cut something out completely, why not say that you’ll eat half the amount of chocolate that you normally do, or save it only for the weekends?  That way you’ll find yourself more likely to be successful with your resolution.

Pick Something You Can Measure

Beware of choosing something immeasurable for your resolution, because then you’ll struggle to know if you’re really succeeding at it.  If you decide that your resolution is to hang out with friends more often, perhaps you can phrase it in a different way so that you have a tangible goal to achieve.  For example, you might say that you’ll host a girls’ night once a month or always invite a new friend to go with you to Friday night happy hour.  The more measurable your goal, the more successful you’ll be in meeting it. 

Share Your Resolution

Once you’ve chosen your resolution, tell your friends!  Come up with a creative Instagram photo that expresses your goal in a creative way, or share a witty tweet or Facebook status describing what you’ll be trying to achieve for the next few months.  Once other people know, you’ll feel you’re held more accountable to your goals.  If you tell someone you’re going to go to the gym twice a week, you’re much more likely to go than if you debate with yourself about going.  You can even include your friends in your resolution if you’d like.  If you’re trying to shoot for healthier food choices, ask a friend to check out that new smoothie place down the street, or to come grocery shopping with you to help you pick out ingredients for a new recipe you’d both like to try.  They’ll be more than happy to help you, and may want you to help them, too! 

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The more measurable your goal, the more successful you’ll be in meeting it. 

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Find Positive Rewards

Don’t be afraid to congratulate yourself for succeeding at your resolution.  You don’t have to wait until you’ve ‘completed’ it to give yourself a pat on the back, either.  If you’re succeeding at your resolution, give yourself little rewards along the way!  A reward can mean anything—a new dress from your favorite store, seeing a movie with a friend, or even buying yourself a gift to help you continue your resolution.  If you decide that you’re going to stop buying that latte every morning before work and find that you’re doing a great job drinking coffee at home, maybe go out and treat yourself to a brand new French press so you can spruce up your morning brews. 

Believe In Yourself

This one’s important: the only person who can really make your resolution happen is you!  So have confidence that you can be successful.  With a positive mindset and a focus on your goal, your resolution won’t seem like a chore.


Just remember: You are strong.  You are powerful.  You can do this.

 

Madison Kitchen is an actor, singer-songwriter, lipstick enthusiast, and blogger at madkitchensink.blogspot.com.  You can find her searching for new cookie recipes, frolicking through New York City, or staring at chandeliers for extended periods of time.

 

Although traveling has changed drastically since his time, Thomas Jefferson was spot-on when he said, ‘One travels more usefully when alone, because [they] reflect more.’  Reflection is one of the main reasons I make an effort to travel solo and explore new places on my own.

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Since moving to Utah—a state with five national parks and thus endless exploration possibilities—I have traveled on my own a significant amount.  Traveling solo around the state of Utah has allowed me get more acquainted with my new home, has helped me become more confident in my ability to navigate unfamiliar land, and has given me a greater appreciation for what a privilege it is to be able to see and experience new places, cultures, people, and authentic food.

If you're itching to start traveling on your own, or if you already have and wish you'd done it differently, hopefully my suggestions on how to make the most of your solo traveling experience will help you out!

Limit your phone / technology use for taking photos only.

Don’t get me wrong, my #1 favorite app is Instagram, and one of the main reasons I use it regularly is because I don’t have time to scrapbook or print out my photographs to put in an album.  For me, Instagram is just that—a way to keep my memories in photograph form and share those experiences with others.  If you’re using your phone while traveling alone for picture-taking purposes, I definitely recommend and support that.  In fact, sharing your photographs on apps like Instagram can also be a way for you to connect with other travelers or find inspiration for your next trip!

Aside from using your phone to preserve and share your traveling experiences and memories, though, I would recommend limiting your use of technology to emergency cases, or as a way to keep in touch with friends or family when necessary.  Technology use when you’re traveling can be a distraction to your experience.  Part of the excitement and purpose of traveling is to live in the present moment, appreciate your surroundings, discover something new, and soak in an experience you may not be able to repeat.  Try to limit your texting, social media, and email responding.  Believe me, the more time you spend away from your phone and computer screen and stay present in your adventure, the more you will be able to appreciate and enjoy it.

Keep a journal and write in it as much as you can, even if it’s just a few words a day. 

In 2010, I had my first solo travel experience when I volunteered for a non-profit program in Ghana, Africa.  I was a senior in high school and extremely nervous about traveling abroad on my own.  Luckily, I kept a journal, and not only did it help calm my nerves about my first solo traveling experience, but it also has helped me keep memories that I may have forgotten years later if it weren't for my honest, excited, and unfiltered thoughts. 

I recently stumbled across my journal, and there are thoughts and memories I wrote down that a photo would not be able to convey.  Each journal page holds so much meaning and authentic emotion, and re-reading my entries years later made me thankful that I kept a journal in the first place.  Some of my entries are just a few words on how I was feeling that day or reactions to sites I saw, while others are more elaborate and include conversations I had with local Ghanaians.  One entry is a list of things I was grateful for from my experience in Ghana.

In addition to taking photos to preserve the visual memory of a trip, I highly recommend keeping a journal to preserve your authentic thoughts and insights.  Don’t feel pressured to write in it every day or every moment.  Maybe there’s a hike you did and you just want to write down how long or challenging  it was, or about the unique land formation you passed.  Maybe you want to write down the name of a local that you met and what the conversation was like.  Maybe you want to record a lesson you have learned while traveling alone.  Whatever the entry, don’t try to write to impress anyone.  Write for yourself.  You’re not sharing it with the world; it’s just for yourself, so keep it authentic and special.

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Don’t journal to impress anyone.  Write for yourself.  Keep it authentic and special.

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Meet new people, befriend locals, and learn as much as you can.

One of the best ways to learn about the place you are visiting is to immerse yourself in its local culture as much as possible—even if you’re just traveling to a new state in your own country!  I’ve visited 34 out of our 50 states, and I've found that each state has its own unique culture.  One of the first things I did when spending time in a new state was to initiate conversations with locals, ask for recommendations for places to visit within their state, and inquire about what they like most about where they live.  You can learn so much about a new place through the eyes of its residents.  It also helps you feel less like a tourist when you get to know members of the community and ask for help and recommendations.  Instead of using Google or Yelp, try asking someone who lives in the place you are visiting and have them help design your trip. 

While you’re traveling, learn as much as you can. If you're traveling abroad, be culturally respectful in your approach to learning, especially when asking questions about the culture(s) in the place you are visiting!  When I was in Ghana, after establishing close relationships with a few community members, I was able to engage in meaningful conversations where I learned about local Ghanaian culture.  Visiting local historic sites, museums, markets, and community events are also meaningful and personal ways to connect with and learn about the surrounding culture.  Learning about the culture, people, and community around you while traveling alone will deepen your connection to the place you are traveling and enhance your national or global perspective and worldview.  

Of course having an adventure buddy—a friend, family member, or significant other—can enhance your traveling experience, but there is something special about traveling on your own.  It’s a particularly reflective, personal, deep, and enriched experience that only you remember.  When I traveled to Alaska on my own after my freshman year of college, there was something euphoric and exciting about seeing a mountain through my eyes on my own and not needing to talk about it with a person next to me.  There was something unique about riding my bike down a deserted dirt road with a mountain range in front of me and knowing I was doing it all on my own.  And there was something reflective and emotionally rewarding about writing my thoughts down in a journal, processing my experiences on my own time, observing my self-growth and increased confidence, and seeing a new place with fresh eyes.

 

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A week from today, I’ll be headed back to California for my last semester of college.

Deep breaths.  I keep having to remind myself to do that.

Okay, and we’re back.  What’s helping me assuage my anxieties about graduating and entering ‘the real world’ (whatever that means) are my rituals.  I’m not really one for morning rituals or night rituals: I wake up only after snoozing my alarm multiple times and generally fall asleep with a book splayed across my chest or Netflix playing in the background.  However, I’ve been flying back and forth across the country on a regular basis for years now, and I find that the process goes much more smoothly if I follow my travel rituals, and ensure that everything is in place beforehand.  Here are mystrategies for avoiding stress and optimizing your travel time!

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What to Bring

1) Your I.D. (or passport if you’re flying internationally)

The only time I’ve come close to missing a flight was when my best friend (and flying buddy) forgot his I.D. before a flight to Los Angeles.  Don’t be that person.

2) Headphones

No matter how long your flight is, don’t get caught without a way to listen to music or watch movies.  Earbuds are easy to slip in your wallet or bag, but noise-cancelling headphones are the way to go if you want to zen-out.

3) Phone charger

Last time I flew back to New York, there was an outlet under my seat and I landed at JFK with a fully-charged phone.  There’s nothing worse than not being able to call an Uber when you land because your phone died somewhere over the Rockies!

4) Lip balm

Stale cabin air dries out my lips and makes them crack almost immediately.   Make sure you have something moisturizing and soothing (I use Smith’s Rosebud Salve) to keep your pout soft and pretty!

 

What to Wear

1) A backpack

Hands-free is the move, especially if you have carry-on luggage.  It’s also helpful to keep your stuff organized with lots of pockets and space!

2) A big scarf

I love scarves and wear them year-round because they’re the perfect addition to any outfit.  Having one on your trip makes it great to snuggle up with if you need some shut-eye — I once (foolishly!) wore shorts on a plane and ended up using the scarf I’d stuffed in my carry-on as a blanket.

3) Ankle boots

Sneakers may be comfortable, but ankle boots tie your look together better and are easier to slip-on and off at security.

4) Sunglasses

You’re probably sleep-deprived, and hopefully your destination is sunny.  They work as a makeshift sleeping mask too!

 

What to Do

1) Catch up on TV

My personal favorite way to pass time.  Make sure you have your movie or show on your computer or iPad beforehand to be prepared, but Netflix lets you download content off of their website now, allowing you to binge without wifi!

2) Make a to-do list

I always feel inclined to get my life together mid-flight.  Bring a notebook and some pens and highlighters in case you get the urge to Marie Kondo your brain.

3) Get cultured

Read the newspaper, or a cool magazine.  Bring Post-It flags to mark off things you want to research more or things you want to put on your mood board.

4) Sleep

Melatonin or sleepytime tea and some soothing music helps me relax enough to snooze for awhile.  This is particularly useful if you’re flying west, so you land adjusted to the right time zone!

 

If you’re one of those people who can wake up the morning before a trip somewhere far away and not manage to forget anything, all the more power to you (and also, I envy you).  If you’re like the rest of us however, you’ll probably sleep better knowing that you’re all set well in advance.  Happy travels!

 

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The holiday season is a magical time of year.  With gifts under trees, twinkling lights in neighborhood windows, and smiles on every face in bustling shopping malls, it’s hard to resist feeling joyful when December rolls around.  It seems that every day, something new is being celebrated.  And then suddenly, it happens: New Year’s Eve comes and goes, and all of the celebrations come to a halt.  Visiting family and friends go back home, and a sort of post-holiday depression sets in.  How can we keep positive when the universal joyful spirits and sparkling window displays go away?  

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Here are a few of the best ways I’ve found to help boost morale while adjusting to the transition of the new year:

Make Your Own Magic

It’s so easy to concede that because the magic of the holidays is over, there’s no place for magic in our lives until the next set of holidays comes.  I find that this is simply not true.  A teacher of mine once told me that if I wasn’t having any fun, I should make my own—how is magic any different?  I don’t mean getting out a wand and calling on the supernatural.  Instead, I’m suggesting that there’s magic in giving.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s more fun to give presents than to receive them, so why not make cookies on the weekend to surprise your coworkers on a dreary Monday morning, or buy the person behind you in line at the coffee shop a latte now and then?  If you're able to create this kind of magic in your world, you may start to feel the joy of the holiday spirit year-round.

Stick With Self Care

There is no braver or more powerful choice than to choose to take care of yourself.  This could mean lots of things: going for a run or to a yoga class, taking ten minutes out of your day to meditate, taking a nap or a bubble bath, or even simply getting enough sleep at night.  Yes, giving to others is magical, but there’s also a special kind of joy in focusing on the most important person in your life: you!  No matter what life throws at you, at the end of the day, you are the one that matters the most.  Whatever you can do to help yourself stay stable, strong, and undeniably you is key to keeping positive in the transition into the new year after the post-holiday blues.

Look for the Love in Your Life

When your family and friends from out of town return to home, the world can begin to feel a little loveless and lonely.  So in this time where you may be feeling down, or maybe even a little left out of the fun your friends look like they’re having from their Instagram photos, don’t be afraid to reach out to the friends, family, and coworkers that are close to you.  They’re likely feeling the same things that you are, and would love someone to talk to and hang out with, too (no matter how un-lonely they may look on social media)!  When you show love to others, you will likely get love in return, so really, don’t hesitate to make the first move.  It doesn’t have to be a romantic love; it can simply be the love of a friendship or even  love with a pet or a new favorite recipe!  Once you open your eyes to the love in your life, you’ll begin to notice that it’s all around you, and you won’t feel quite so  down—or left out—after all. 

Be Proud of What You’re Leaving Behind

Walking into the new year with your head held high takes a lot of strength and bravery, and it involves a huge amount of acceptance of the past year’s experiences.  You may have a lot of proud moments from 2016, and a couple of regrets, too, and all of that is not only okay: it’s normal!  But for 2017, it’s time to let all of the madness from the last year go and move forward into the present.  So no matter what you experienced in 2016 (and let’s be honest, it was a little rough for all of us), be proud of how far you’ve come in 365 days!  You left last year as an entirely different human being than you were walking into it, and that’s something to be proud of.  As you reflect, accept all of your successes, your failures, your highs, and your lows; take what you need, and use what you now know to grow in the next year.  When you can be proud of your recent past, you will be much happier moving into the future.

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 There is no braver or more powerful choice than to choose to take care of yourself.

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Embrace What’s Coming Next

Sometimes, the future can look even more daunting than the past, which can contribute to the stress and negativity of the post-holiday season.  I say to embrace what’s coming next and fearlessly look into the future, but this is clearly easier said than done.  The future can be scary, and that’s okay.  The nature of fearlessness is not having no fear; rather, it’s accepting your fear and still moving forward.  This is the kind of approach you want to have as you step forward into the unknown:accepting that you don’t know what’s going to happen next, yet  still being as open as you possibly can be towards what is coming.  The more brave and confident you can be looking forward, the more secure you’ll feel as you stay in the present. 

Don’t be Afraid (or Ashamed) to Let Go

Finally, don’t be afraid to let go of the things you don’t need!  Negative moments from the past year and even toxic relationships may be cluttering your brain—and your life—but remember, the most important person to care for in your life is you, so sometimes you need to simply let those things go.  Deciding you don’t need to hold onto things anymore, whether they be thoughts, memories, or possessions, isn’t a weak choice, it’s a strong one.  You don’t have to be afraid to shake some things off.  All of the negativity you may be holding onto after the holiday season may seem like baggage you need, but there is nothing wrong with making the choice to let it go.  You’ll be glad you did, and moving forward you’ll feel like a lighter, stronger, happier, healthier you.  Once you’re free of the excess, you’ll realize that the future—and the present—are looking pretty bright.


Madison Kitchen is an actor, singer-songwriter, lipstick enthusiast, and blogger at http://madkitchensink.blogspot.com.  
You can find her searching for new cookie recipes, frolicking through New York City, or staring at chandeliers for extended periods of time.

 

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