6 Crunchy Snacks You Could Eat Instead of Potato Chips

Lately, I’ve been clearing my cabinets of junk food, choosing fresh produce and simple ingredients over the saturated, processed food that I’m used to.

This lifestyle choice has helped me resolve issues with my skincare, mental health, and physical health. I dare say I’m in the best shape of my life and have never felt more energized, clear-headed, and light on my feet.

One of the first junk foods I switched out happened to be a guilty a pleasure of mine, something you would always catch me asking HusBae to pick me up during his nightly runs at our local bodega: chips.

These delightful, crispy, salty bites of happiness, however delicious, were causing me problems, especially when it came to skincare–the unhealthy combo of white starch deep fried in vegetable oil and dressed in salt has been aggravating my acne since I was a teen, a problem I never addressed.

With this in mind, I went on a quest to find snacks that could satisfy my cravings for crunch without jeopardizing my skin care or overall health.

Here’s a list of my favorites.

1. Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Cheddar Cheese Popcorn

Photocred: Amazon.com

Popcorn, in general, is a great alternative to potato chips. When prepared consciously, it’s a light, airy snack with a satisfying crunch that doesn’t have to be deep-fried or covered in oil to be enjoyed. I’ve had several popcorn variations since switching out potato chips, including an addictive sour cream and onion flavor by Smartfood. Still, my favorite by far is Boom Chicka Pop’s cheddar cheese popcorn by Angie’s.

First of all, whenever you combine the creamy, saltiness of cheese with the crunchy, airiness of popcorn, it’s a match made in heaven. We knew this the first time we all tried white cheddar popcorn, also made famous by Smartfood. However, Boom Chicka Pop sets itself apart by opting to coat its popcorn in yellow cheddar cheese, which provides a sharp, cheesy flavor that’s dangerously addictive. I appreciate Angie’s choice of whole-grain popcorn, sunflower oil, and simple ingredients that don’t run a mile long and are easily defined and recognizable. Search for these bad boys at your local Target. You won’t regret it.

2. Blue Diamond Almonds Bold

Photocred: Target.com

Almonds are not only a healthy, crunchy alternative to potato chips, but they also have many health benefits. These bite-sized nuts are high in protein, making them the perfect on-the-go snack. Blue Diamond is a brand that’s famous for its almond snacks, the best of which is their Almonds Bold line.

Blue Diamond Almonds Bold is a line of almonds that are coated in savory flavor profiles like sriracha, sweet Thai chili, and wasabi and soy sauce. The best of the bunch is the Bold Habanero Bbq, a spicy, smoky snack whose dismal 6oz size goes quick. Although the Almonds Bold line seems to be available everywhere from Walgreens, CVS, to Key Food, when you see this flavor snatch them up while you can. I bought them a few months ago and haven’t been able to find them since!

3. Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps

Photocred: Giant Food

Snack Factory pretzel crisps are a lifesaver. They’re available almost anywhere and have filled my void of chips for a while regularly, thanks to how well they pair with dips (like Kite Hill’s delicious plant-based french onion dip, for example). Unlike the thick salty pretzels that we’re used to, these light, crunchy snacks are thin and crispy and are only lightly coated in salt.

Snack Factory’s pretzel crisps come in various savory flavors, including buffalo wing, everything, and honey mustard and onion. My favorites are the original flavor and the garlic parmesan, which can be eaten with a dip or stand-alone. If I’m in the mood for a sweet and salty combo, I’ll pick up their dark chocolate Drizzlers, which coat the original pretzel crips in semi-sweet dark chocolate. Mmm, soooo good!

4. Planters Salted Caramel Peanuts

Photocred: Walmart

You won’t find these salty-sweet snacks in your local stores, I’ve only ever been able to buy them on Amazon, and even that’s been a crapshoot. It makes sense–these crunchy snacks are so deliciously addictive they’d sell out in minutes.

Planters salted caramel peanuts have a delightful flavor profile of sweet, buttery caramel with a light salt dressing that is unlike any planter’s snack I’ve ever tasted. I used to go out of my way to seek their coated honey roasted peanuts, but ever since I tried these during an Amazon shopping trip, I’ve never gone back. The only downside about this snack is that it’s rare and weirdly expensive for its 6 oz size, costing nearly $10 for a pack of 2. Whenever I buy this snack, the only thing on my mind is, “WHY AREN’T THESE AVAILABLE IN A BIGGER SIZE!?

5. Good and Gather Sweet Cajun Trail Mix

Photocred: Target.com

Trail mix is a great alternative to potato chips thanks to its variety of options and limitless flavor combinations, traditionally combining granola, dried fruit, nuts, and candy. Target’s market brand Good and Gather offers lots of options for trail mix, including tex mex, cashew cranberry almond, and blueberry nut. However, the sweet cajun trail mix is the best one on the shelf.

Good and Gather’s sweet cajun trail mix is so good thanks to its spicy crunchy bites of sesame sticks and peanuts, combined with the sweetness of butter toffee peanuts, corn, and honey roasted sesame sticks. With a profile as advanced as that, who needs chips and dip!?

6. Good Health Chips

Photocred: Amazon.com

Good Health’s chips are the only actual potato chips on this list, but with good reason. This health-conscious branch of UTZ offers potato chips prepared in better quality oils, which promote heart health and are rich in monounsaturated fats, unlike the standard vegetable oil option.

Good Health’s potato chips are prepared in avocado and olive oil, making me feel a lot less guilty when I’m scarfing them down. They come in a variety of flavors, my favorite being the spicy jalapeno, and are another crunchy snack that pairs well with dips, thanks to its lightly salted taste.

That rounds off my list! I hope you find these options helpful and give them some thought the next time you hit the store for a snack run.

*What are some of your favorite snacks?

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6 Vegan Products You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s hard to believe it’s not dairy

Over the course of my new lifestyle (once vegetarian, now, basically, a pescatarian) I’ve tried some incredible food.

From restaurants to supermarket finds, I’ve had my fair share of vegan and vegetarian cuisine.

Although there were a few (dozen) misses, the things that were good were impressive. So much so that they’ve gone from foods I was just curious to try to food I can’t stop talking about. I thought to myself, why not make a list!

Allow me to put you on to some of my favorite vegan finds I’ve come across in my local shopping adventures.

1. Earth Balance Coconut Spread

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this pop up in my story.

IG @happinessovereverythingblog

This coconut butter is DELICIOUS.

I tried it once at my local Whole Foods out of curiosity and fell. in. love. I was devastated when it didn’t come back to the shelves.

Since then, I’ve looked for it everywhere and virtually gave up until it popped up at a local Food Bazaar. Now it’s my go-to vegan butter.

I use this spread for EVERYTHING! OK!

From breakfast to baking–it’s great on toast, spectacular in oatmeal, and cooks eggs and pancakes perfectly. I once used it to bake chocolate chip cookies, and it added this nice extra layer of rich sweetness to the recipe.

The spread is light and flaky, just like coconut. It melts almost instantly when heated. If you’re looking for rich, tasty non-dairy butter, I recommend you seek this out. It’s worth the scavenge and the $6 price tag.

2. Just Egg Patty

Whoever was the brilliant mastermind behind this invention, give that guy a raise!

The Just Egg patty has been my go-to for eggs since I stopped eating them this past Winter, thanks to an episode of DC’s Titans. (lol, no, really. It was disturbing. I couldn’t get the image of that cracked egg out of my mind o.O).

This was my 3rd attempt at trying an egg alternative, and it’s the only one that left a (good) lasting impression.

When trying new vegan food, the decision usually comes down to two things: flavor and texture.

The other two vegan eggs were either too mushy or completely bland.

These bad boys mimic the texture of eggs perfectly.

The four patties come pre-cooked and frozen, so all you have to do is warm them up.

It’s topped with its own seasoning but feel free to add your own.

I usually fry them in a pan with some butter and the leftover juices from my plant-based sausage for extra flavor.

Cook on both sides for a little under 5 minutes, and VOILA! It’s like a miniature omelet.

I found these at a local Whole Foods, but they can be found at Food Bazaar and Target, too!

3. Sweet Earth Mindful Chik’n

Just like with eggs, I had a hard time replacing chicken once again due to failed attempts at replicating texture and flavor.

My first time trying the Sweet Earth Chik’n was in one of the brands’ frozen dinner meals. (HusBae swears by them.)

When I found out that they sold the Chik’n separately, I knew I had to try it. I was amazed by the results.

Although the Sweet Earth Chik’n is bland, it wins because of its texture and diversity.

I’ve experimented with this and was able to fry it, bbq it, and use it in a curry.

It comes in a “raw” form, so it has to be cooked thoroughly before eating. Just be sure to season it generously or cook it in a sauce.

It’s a great transition from the real thing. Take it from me; my family called me the “chicken hawk” as a kid.

4. Milkadamia Latte Da Barista Macadamia Milk

I recently learned about Macadamia milk thanks to my cousin, Kevin (shoutout to cuz).

While he was still living in NYC, he worked in a coffee shop (who hasn’t?!) which offered Milkadamia Latte Da Barista Macadamia milk on their menu.

He was so enthused about how good it was, he bought me a box during his last visit, and my taste buds couldn’t be happier.

Up until then, I was only buying almond and oat milk.

I like oat milk thanks to its creaminess and almond milk because of its light vanilla flavor.

I’m not a fan of coconut or soy milk because the flavor is too overpowering for me. This is where macadamia milk reigns supreme.

This macadamia milk is light! It has a semi-sweetness that won’t overpower a bowl of cereal and a creaminess that is great in coffee!

I’ve found this milk at my local Food Bazaar and Whole Foods. Check with your local supermarket to see if it’s available.

5. Kite Hill French Onion Dip

I stumbled on this gem as I was wrapping up a shopping trip at a local Whole Foods. Now, I’m a chip and dip kinda chick. I’m a sucker for good tortilla chips and salsa or the classic combo of Ruffles and french onion dip.

The problem here is

  • 1. Tortilla chips aren’t exactly healthy. They’re loaded with sodium and contain a lot of oil which is bad for my skin.
  • 2. Most dips are made with dairy.

I’ve been cooling it with the chips for some time, reaching for pretzel crisps instead.

And now, thanks to one of my favorite vegan brands, Kite Hill, I have a replacement for French onion dip 🙂

Kite Hill is a vegan brand that I trust. They have almond milk-based yogurts and creamed cheese that I swear by!

All of these things considered, I still wasn’t ready for how good this french onion dip was.

Kite hill did not skimp out on flavor here. This savory dip is a flavor bomb! It also manages to be perfectly creamy with no added graininess (it happens sometimes with almond based foods).

It complements chips and pretzels amazingly.

Pick it up at your next Whole Foods or Food Bazaar shopping trip.

6. Field Roast Frankfurters

Field Roast always knows what the people want.

Field Roast has been offering plant-based meats and sausages for some time. One of my closest friends (hiii Kendel!) recommended their spicy chipotle sausage to me.

Those are great and all but these ballpark franks, though!? Game changers.

It’s everything you want in a hot dog, minus the guilt of having one. (C’mon. You can’t pretend you don’t know what it’s made of at this point!)

These franks are meaty, plump, and delicious.

They’re spiced amazingly and are the perfect size for a hot dog bun. (yes, that’s a thing).

Now, thanks to Field Roast, even if you don’t eat meat, you can enjoy a good ol’ fashion stadium hot dog.

Fruitarians, make sure to bring these with you to your next cookout.

Inevitably, all they’ll have to offer you is rice and potato salad.

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A Life Outside Of Your Comfort Zone: The Benefits Of Conquering Your Fears

Conquer all the fears.

A few years ago, when the trend of big butts was steadily on the rise, I was on a mission to snatch my waist and increase my muscle mass, so I sought the help of a close friend and personal trainer(sup Necye!?).

One day we met up at a local Planet Fitness to start the endurance-building regimen he created for me.

He gave me a simple task: jump over a bench. He demonstrated a few times to show how effortlessly easy the exercise was, but for some reason, when it came time for me to do it, I froze in place.

The task wasn’t necessarily difficult, but I was intimidated by the idea of failure.

I kept thinking of all the things that would go wrong:

  • “What if I trip?”
  • “What if I fall? Omg I would be so embarrassed…”
  • “The bench may be higher than it looks, what if I can’t jump that high!?”

No matter how many methods of encouragement my friend used (affirming words, demonstration, being assertive), my legs would not move. There I stood, frozen in place by my own fear and self-doubt, trying to figure out a way to psych myself into it.

I even got my feet to move a couple of times, but they refused to jump. I was shocked and bewildered at how little courage I had to do something so minute and knew I must’ve looked so stupid.

Suddenly, with minutes left of our hour session, I felt my defenses come down, and without warning, I ran and jumped over the bench, relieved when I felt my feet plant perfectly on the other side.

As silly as it may have seemed, that literal leap took courage, and afterward, I was grateful that I shook my fear and overcame my comfort.

When’s the last time you lived life outside of your comfort zone?

Taking Steps to Overcome

By literal definition, your comfort zone is

the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity


You know that voice that’s constantly making you cancel plans and bail out whenever you’re asked to try something new? That’s your comfort zone.

I know it’s comfortable to settle in a space where everything is easy and you’re in control, but this fear of the unknown is holding you back from your life’s potential.

Although fears can stem from evolutionary instinct and have roots in past experiences, nine times out of ten, our fears are illusions, creations of self-doubt, and lack of understanding.

Conquering your fears and stepping outside of your comfort zone makes you realize how much bigger life is than what exists inside your bubble. I know every time I step outside of mine, I come out relieved.

For example, one of my biggest fears is social interaction. You wouldn’t think so with my cheerfulness and sunny personality, but speaking to strangers is really intimidating. This is based on my traumas from bullying, lack of acceptance, and the scarring of toxic relationships. My social anxieties caused me to be over apologetic and disconnected. I was definitely the type to come up with excuses to avoid hanging out with people. (YES! I’ve got a fever! Now I HAVE to stay home!)

However, these behaviors are counterproductive to my career as a freelance writer. Networking and relationship building are CRUCIAL in the freelance world, so I had to figure out a way to be more social. It was scary as hell at first; my first couple of attempts were jumbled messes of me speaking loud, fast, and fumbling over my words, but I learned to talk calmly with confidence and self-control with practice.

Here are the steps that I take when facing a scary situation. Maybe they can be helpful to you:

  • I breathe it out– My experience with yoga taught me how significant the breath is. It can help you, not only through the most difficult yoga poses but also by calming your mind in the most stressful of situations. If deep breathing can help you through anger, stress, and pain, why not through fear? Give it a try the next time you’re tackling something scary.
  • I build up the courage– Whether it’s pacing back and forth in my living room burning sage, journaling, or talking to myself in the mirror, I build up my mental strength before doing something courageous. Although having encouragement can be helpful, no one can convince YOU like YOU can. Try talking yourself up before stepping outside of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised by how far a few “You can do it!”‘s will get you.
  • I take baby steps– I can’t say that I always go 0 – 100 in scary situations, especially if the fear is tied to a traumatic experience. In cases like this, I micro-dose and build my way up. If you fear open water, for example, try exposing yourself to small bodies of water first and then build on top of that until one day you’re comfortable enough to step into the ocean.

Remember: Although your fear may seem trivial or juvenile to someone else, it’s not ok for anyone to make you feel belittled or invalid. A lot of people take the tough love approach, which can make your fears worse. What you need is patience, understanding, and support in overcoming things at your own pace.

I base a lot of my life goals around stepping outside of my comfort zone, not just for my career but for the sake of personal growth.

Benefits of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Living a life outside of your comfort zone comes with psychological benefits like feelings of empowerment and personal growth.

Let’s dive deeper into these concepts.


Stepping outside of your comfort makes you feel powerful. The boost in bravery comes from the liberation of staring fear in the face and living to tell the tale.

You realize how you are in control of your life, and that type of mental strength can move mountains. Silentmindsingingbowls.com has a quote about this on their blog post “The Amazing Benefits of Facing Your Fears”

“When we come to personally understand that we can change our own brains, it’s incredibly empowering. We can make ourselves calmer, more creative, anything we want.”

Once you’ve hardwired your brain to be less afraid, you feel like you can do anything.

Personal Growth

Challenging your fear builds character.

I know a lot of people who suffer from low self-esteem due in large part to self-doubt. It doesn’t help when you’re surrounded by people who are feeding into that.

Beware: People who have been limited by fear their entire lives will often try to project those feelings onto you. They’ll convince you that you’re incapable of stepping outside of your comfort zone and that what you’re trying to achieve is impossible because this is their reality.

But once you start tip-toeing on your boundaries of comfort, you’ll be able to blur the lines of your capabilities.

Before you know it, fear won’t even be a contender, and you’ll be achieving new heights of personal growth.

With your new and improved fierce skin, gone are the days when fear is holding you back, allowing you to open doors you swore were closed off to you.

Look, I know the idea of facing your fears and challenging your comfort can seem scary and maybe even a long shot. But I’m living, breathing proof that not only is it possible, but there are enormous payouts.

Ask yourself are you limiting your personal life, growth, and dreams because of your fears?

How much longer will you allow your imaginary boundaries to keep you from living?

Stop getting in the way of yourself. Try something brave today.

Conquer all the fears.

*Don’t forget to like, share, and leave a comment ^_^

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5 Ways To Protect Your Peace

Your peace is sacred, protect it at all costs. Read on for the 5 building blocks you need to barricade your peace.

I inspire people with my sunny disposition. I often receive compliments on my high energy and people ask what keeps me walking on sunshine.

“Is it coffee? Money? Did you just go on vacation?”

I’ll let you in on my little secret: I protect my peace at all costs. I received this sound advice from a licensed professional (shoutout to Jenny!) and it has resonated with me ever since.

When I say peace, I’m referring to peace of mind–the source of your energy and happiness. Need some help protecting your peace? Here are my recommended tips:

5 ways to protect your peace

There are five behaviors I swear by in order to protect my peace:

  1. Having a “This too shall pass” outlook on life.
  2. Establishing boundaries.
  3. Ridding my life of toxicity.
  4. Keeping happiness on tap.
  5. Letting go of things that no longer serve me.

Let me break it down for you.

This Too Shall Pass

It is scientifically proven that bad memories are easier to recall than good memories are. I learned about this first-hand during one of my therapy sessions–at one point, I was really unhappy, and the topic of how tough my life was became a recurring theme.

One day, Jenny explained to me that negativity has a stronger impact on our minds and our lives simply because we give way more attention to it.

Basically, when bad things happen to us, our “woe is me” attitude comes from amplifying trauma and traumatic events, making them stick out like sore thumbs in our memory.

However, it’s important to know the difference between having a bad life and a bad experience.

“There’s a difference between having a bad life and a bad experience.”

When something bad happens, it’s natural to attach yourself to it, identify with it, and allow it to define you. Still, I want you to know that it’s not your life that sucks, it’s the problem.

I won’t devalue your feelings by telling you to get over what’s troubling you–I’ve had traumas that have taken me YEARS to overcome. With that being said, I bet for every negative moment you’ve experienced there are positive ones, too!

When you’re faced with a problem, try to disassociate yourself from it. It will take practice and a lot of conscious effort but, I’m living proof that it’s worth it! Here are some things I did to help me look on the bright side of life

  1. I distracted myself with a hobby– doing something fun and productive is a healthy way to distract your mind so that your troubles are not your main focus. For me, it was getting lost in fantasy novels and self-help books, watching anime, listening to music, and going on nature walks. Maybe you prefer biking, boxing or crocheting. Hey, whatever floats your boat, but getting lost in a hobby will serve you better than your negative thoughts.
  2. I immersed myself in positivity– surrounding yourself with positivity is a great way to boost your spirits. I’m a sucker for words of affirmation, so I engulfed myself with as many affirming words as possible- I downloaded the Mantra app on my iPhone which gives you affirming quotes at random and allows you to save them and use them as wallpaper (something I do to this day), I created a board on Pinterest dedicated to positive quotes (some of which I printed and taped to my wall and Mac), and when I needed to crank it up a notch I would burn sage and say a daily mantra. However positivity may present itself to you, I say do it and do it often.
  3. I went through my ‘motions– I tried to make my feelings go away by numbing them or pretending I didn’t feel them, but they would always find a way to rise to the surface. Ironically, I always felt much better after I went through them. Masking or numbing your feelings will not help you get over them, it just prolongs your process of healing. If you have to cry, cry. If you’re feeling angry, be angry. Find a safe space and go through your ‘motions where you can be free from worry or judgment. It’s way more beneficial than trying to will your feelings out of existence.
  4. I opened up about it– When the weight of life became too much to bear, I sought therapy and O.M.G it was the best decision I ever made for my emotional health. I’m a huge advocate for therapy and recommend it to anyone who is going through a tough time or surviving a traumatic event but I’m sensitive to the fact that it may not be an option for everyone. Whether you’re speaking to a friend, a spouse, or a therapist, I recommend opening up about your problems. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and seek emotional support, it can go a long way.
  5. I used a journal– Writing has been a form of therapy for me since I was a teen. My journal is my number 1 safe space because it’s so personal and I know no one else will read it but me. When I journal, I don’t have the fear of being misunderstood or judged about my feelings and I’m free to write about what I want in the style I want. This level of intimacy allows me to get to the core of my feelings in a way that no other medium does because I know no one else is listening or watching. If you’re fearful of opening up to people, I recommend a journal or diary. You’re still able to air out what’s on your mind without having to worry about it reaching anyone else’s eyes or ears. It will take some practice if you’re not used to putting your feelings into words, but if you keep up the habit you’ll see improvement over time (practice makes perfect!)
  6. I released it– This was the most difficult part for me–getting to a point of acceptance. To move past my trauma, I had to accept that this bad thing happened and that it was beyond my control. This unfortunate unforeseen event, however devastating, can not be removed or changed from my past. And since it was beyond my control, I had to let it go. Unfortunately, there are no magic words or exercises that can do this for you. You have to do this last part on your own. The good news is, acceptance is a sign of growth and progress. Once you’ve defeated this final boss, you’ll notice that your problem will be easier to cope with. You’ll hurt a little less, think about it a little less, talk about it virtually never and life will suddenly seem a little brighter every day.

This disruption of peace that you’re holding on to doesn’t define your life. Your life exists outside of your problems and, if you make a conscious effort to put your best foot forward, you’ll find that life is good, and it’s ok. “This too shall pass.”

“Don’t let a disruption of peace define your life.”

Establish Boundaries

Establishing boundaries for yourself is absolutely necessary in order to protect your peace. I wish someone gave me this advice sooner.

Since I was a kid, I never set boundaries for myself and at one point was a selfless pushover who would accept people and their toxic ways without any push back out of fear that I would offend them or that it would end the relationship.

This left an enormously heavy weight on my mind and spirit, a weight that wore me down emotionally and affected my self-esteem.

Once I got in tune with my feelings and got the courage to speak up for myself, I started walking around with my head held high, light as a feather, just a beaming ray of confidence.

When you set ground rules for what you’re willing and unwilling to put up with, it prevents people from stepping into a sacred space where your peace can be jeopardized.

This violation can leave you with lingering feelings like anger or sadness, which can snowball into something worse if left unaddressed aka anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem.

Unsure of where to start? To put this into practice, here are a few tips that helped me:

  1. Pay close attention to when you feel emotionally provoked by someone’s actions or words.
  2. Dissect it with the “What, Why, & How”: Why did it upset you? Was it what the person said (or did)? Perhaps how it was presented to you?
  3. Communicate your feelings.

Emphasis. on. communication.

It does not matter how small the violation may seem, if it provoked you emotionally that means it matters to you, and your feelings matter.

It’s important to communicate your feelings and not let them build-up, this can lead to bigger problems such as stress or anxiety.

Speaking up in defense of yourself is establishing a boundary and letting people know that it’s not ok to hurt you. It does not matter the person’s relationship to you, if they care about you then they’ll care about your feelings.

Beware: toxic people will try to convince you that establishing boundaries is wrong and selfish. Although it’s certainly selfish, there’s nothing wrong with protecting your feelings. If you don’t, who else will?

Toxic people will try to convince you that establishing boundaries is wrong

It will take a lot of guts to stick to your guns, especially when you’re sticking up to an authoritative figure, but you must commit to it if you want to maintain peace.

Rid Your Life of Toxicity

Sometimes we hold on to toxicity out of convenience or fear, but if you’re trying to maintain peace, you’re going to have to let it go.

Toxicity can appear in numerous vessels–a job, a relationship, a habit; if it causes you emotional or physical harm, it’s toxic.

Toxic vessels thrive on dependence.

It will try to convince you that you can’t do better because you don’t deserve better and that your life can’t exist without it. That is 100% not true.

You can and should move beyond toxicity because you are worthy of happiness 🙂

I have been the victim of toxic workplaces more times than I’d like to admit.

I kept convincing myself (and allowing other people to convince me) that it was ok to tolerate.

I would say things like “It’s not like I’m unhappy ALL the time.”, “All jobs are like this.”, “NO ONE is COMPLETELY happy at their job.” or the classic “At least my bills are paid.” Na, that’s not it.

I got to a point where I asked myself “What’s more important, money or happiness? This toxic vessel or my peace?”

Once I got to my threshold of mental anguish, I parted ways and low and behold, my happiness has been at an all-time high.

It may be hard to let go of some of these vessels, like a job for example, but the right thing isn’t always easy.

I think Dumbledore said it best:

If you value yourself, you’ll prioritize your happiness and do what you have to do to preserve and protect it.

It’s impossible to maintain peace when you’re constantly being exposed to physical or emotional harm. It may be hard and it may take some time, but you’ll need to rid your life of toxicity if you want to protect your peace.

Be advised that when you’re trying to move forward in your newfound lifestyle of peace, happiness, and light, the life you so truly deserve, toxic vessels may attempt to hold you back.

It will try to latch on to you and convince you it can be better, but remember why you got to the point of uprooting in the first place.

Keeping Happiness on Tap

The basis of peace is happiness so it’s helpful to have a multitude of sources for it.

Think about it, what truly makes you happy?

I’m a minimalist, so for me it’s pretty simple. Here’s my list:

  1. Spending quality time with loved ones.
  2. Watching or listening to my favorite kinds of media (tv, movies, music).
  3. Meeting like-minded people.
  4. Good food.
  5. Shopping.
  6. Reading.
  7. Writing.
  8. Sex.
  9. Animals.
  10. Learning.
  11. Being in nature.
  12. Aromatherapy.
  13. Bubble baths.
  14. Accomplishing something.

Try making a list of things that bring you joy and make it a point to indulge in these things as often as possible. Aim to be realistic, as much as traveling makes me happy, it’s not something I can do on a regular basis.

The goal is to have happiness on tap, so think of things you can do routinely and commit, commit, commit.

Letting Go Of Things That No Longer Serve You

I am an ever-growing person, as everyone should be.

I bet the standards you had for a spouse have changed since you first got introduced to dating and the dream job you swore you wanted as a kid morphed into something else (sorry, you can’t be a football-playing king in space).

Between life experiences and education, you’re destined to change throughout your life–you will go through phases and trends, likes and dislikes, hobbies, and even relationships.

Sometimes we hold on to old patterns and people for the sake of nostalgia. I know I’m certainly guilty of this.

After self-reflecting I realized that I was still holding on to ideas, habits, and relationships that no longer served me. At one point they may have been beneficial but they served no purpose for my present-day life.

Once I became conscious of the weight I was carrying from my old self, I was able to shed my skin to make way a new life of peace. I did this by:

  • Changing my phone number (this helped me control who’s able to contact me. bye bye old friends)
  • Cutting my hair (this helped me with insecurities I was having)
  • Establishing new habits (hiking and yoga in the park does the mind and body good)
  • Upgrading my mindset (goodbye excuses, hello discipline!)

These shifts and updates have allowed me to move forward peacefully in my new chapter and I’ve been on cloud 9 ever since.

It’s ok to change. As much as we’d love to keep everything the same (our habits, our friends, and our way of life) realistically, you can’t.

Holding on to past dead-weight will weigh your future down, you’ll constantly be torn between the past and your future. Don’t allow your past to stunt your future growth.

Take yourself on a journey of self-reflection and assess whether the things in your life are truly serving you: does it have a purpose? are there any benefits in it for you or are you just holding on to this because of how you used to feel about it?

Once you pinpoint the weeds in your garden, rip them out. No questions asked and no explanations needed.

Letting go of things that no longer serve you is a great way to protect your peace because you’re able to move forward with your new life without the distraction of old habits and relationships.

We are more in control of our lives than we give ourselves credit for. If you want a drastic change in your life, that requires sacrifices.

If your aim is to protect your peace and maintain happiness, try putting these things into practice. It may be difficult, and it will take lots of conscious effort, but your peace is worth it. Happiness > Everything.

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Self Reflection? The Soul Searching Power Of A Checkers Game

How one match of checkers turned into a very valuable life lesson

One rainy Sunday morning, I stopped by my Uncle’s house for some coffee, breakfast, and a game of checkers with my Grandmother. Being the reigning checkers’ champ in my own home, I had no doubts whatsoever that I would walk away with the “W”.

Four games later, my Grandmother had four consecutive flawless victories.

No matter what strategies I tried I couldn’t beat her. I was making moves that I felt were clever, adept, and unsurpassable yet and still, my Grandmother was always 1 step ahead of me leaving me awestruck and dumbfounded. Throughout our games, she’d give me helpful tips: pay attention, look at the board before you make a move, and most importantly, concentrate. Seemed like easy enough advice to follow but, try as I might, I kept goofing up.

“You don’t concentrate,” my Grandmother told me, “there were times when you came close, and I was sure you had me beat, but you couldn’t see it because you weren’t paying attention”. Her feedback tripped me up because I was truly and genuinely oblivious to this fact. Of course, I was paying attention! Well, wasn’t I?

Valuable Life Lessons

This experience made me realize that I have a lot of growing to do. You see winning streaks have a tendency to stroke the ego and, for a long time, I was undefeated in the game of checkers. Then, my Grandmother came along and revealed all the chinks in my armor.

She showed me that:

  • I’m overly confident
  • Anxious
  • And quick to rush to judgment

These tips go beyond our checkers’ games. In life, one false move could make or break you. Taking your time and concentrating before executing your movements could be the difference between success and failure. I’m certainly guilty of moving too fast or not doing my best due to my anxiousness, but they say slow and steady win the race, something I should have taken into consideration during our checkers’ games.

The Bottom Line

Look, there’s always going to be someone bigger, better, faster, or stronger than you, but please don’t take it personally. Being beaten at your own game is not a testament to how much you suck, but instead of how much learning and growing you have to do. Therein lies the difference. Don’t cower away or let a bruised ego get the best of you. Instead, use these moments as opportunities for education. Internalize them and ask yourself,

  • Where are you going wrong?
  • How can you be better next time?

I’ve always been told that, in order to be the teacher, you have to be one hell of a student, to be a leader you have got to learn how to follow, and to beat your Grandmother at checkers, apparently you have to pay closer attention.

There are a lot of people running around with unchecked egos and, I personally think, nothing is more dangerous or damaging to your mental growth. Once you give up on learning and growing as a person, you stunt your own potential.

Remember that there is always room for improvement and life moments like this are a reminder of that. Do you feel that you can grow and improve as a person? If you answer no, I’d recommend doing some self-reflection. Pay closer attention to your errors and mistakes, notice any patterns?

Do you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over? Start there and see where it leads you.

As for me, my Grandmother and I have another match of checkers coming up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Find Your Spark: The Findings of a Lost Soul

Read on to find out how I went from being a “lost soul” to suddenly finding my spark

I was 31 years old when I got my spark. For those of you who have NOT yet seen the movie “Soul”, a spark is your life’s purpose, your inspiration and reason for living. It happened when I was watching HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”. This episode featured a young couple who were looking for their first home together. The coffee shop owners found a home for less than $100K and used the remainder of their budget to renovate their home and give it the personal touch they needed to make the home REALLY theirs. Your girl Joanna did her thing, like always! During the last shot of the couple in their home, they were welcoming friends over and telling the camera crew how delighted they were with their starter home, and that’s when I felt it, that twinge of “I want that“. The feeling of “this would make me happy” was shocking to me, you see because I always thought my life’s purpose was Writing.

By the time I was a teen, I knew I wanted 2 things out of life:

  1. To make enough money to live in one of the most expensive cities in the World
  2. To entertain people.

I have been on a quest of fulfillment ever since. That quest has caused me to start working at age 13. Since then, I’ve made my way through five industries and 12 jobs, all of which left me feeling unfulfilled. It didn’t matter whether they were reputable (some of them were) or if they helped me move out on my own (some of them did), none of them made me happy. That’s because I was making moves for all the wrong reasons. Your job isn’t supposed to be your happiness. Your happiness should exist outside of external instruments. Your life should make you happy and your life should not start and end with your work.

It took me up until now to realize a life of working isn’t living and it’s all I’ve been doing up to now. Investing all of my time and energy into my work and having no air around me. No time for fun, friends, or family just duties and then one day you look up and realize it’s all you have. I don’t want a life of completing tasks. I want to be able to conduct science experiments with my daughter, or to lay in bed with my Husband and talk about the theories of the Universe, or call my best friend and laugh and talk for hours, or visit my Grandmother on a Sunday morning and play checkers while we have our coffee. THIS is living folks. These moments are life.

I’m not telling you to quit your job, I’m encouraging you to make sure you exist outside of it.

Hey, we all have to make a living and frankly, I quite like being a Writer. I enjoy helping and entertaining people with my words but it’s not my life’s purpose because working isn’t living. Rapping JCOLE’s “Can’t Get Enough” with my Husband off of our terrace at 1 in the morning is an example of living (that’s a hook right thurr). Talking to my Mom about recipes I found on Pinterest is living. Reading books with your children, catching up with friends, and taking walks outside are all examples of living. Take the time to be alive. I hope you’ve found your spark. And if not, no worries! As the lovely George Eliot once said:

It’s never too late to be what you might have been

George Eliot

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Dear Weirdos: I Love You <3

I found this My Hero Academia hat in Midtown Comics

In a world full of sheep, be a Unicorn

In my 20+ years of living, I’ve searched the World and have yet to find another being like me. I reached out to Dr Strange, asked him to search the endless combinations of all the possibilities that ever were, and I can safely conclude: there’s no one else like me.

You’re looking at a real life Unicorn (actually, I’d like to think myself a Wizard. I’ve got a Hogwarts letter to prove it.)

Sure, there are similar humans. They may resemble me, share a fraction of my personality traits but I have yet to find another person made up of the same facets I have.

I used to think this made me crazy or a freak but then, I came to realize that this just means I am in an island all by myself.

For a while this made me sad.
I walked throughout my life feeling like a black sheep and, as I’ve mentioned, a lack of representation can really make you feel like there’s no space for you in the World.
As a result, it made me uncomfortable in social settings. After all, how do you socialize when you feel like you can relate to no one?
Because my interest in geeky things (i.e anime, video games, cartoons, etc) is always viewed as categorically “male”, I found myself relating to, well, mostly males. This has been a thing for me my entire life.
It’s very rare, and few and far between, that I meet other women with genuine similar interests. I mean honestly, 8/10 our similarities start and end with us being Moms. That’s not to say that I don’t LOVE to talk about my kid, I would just much rather talk about the PS5 launch titles… and the cool accessories Sony’s releasing…and this anime I watched last night…

This, I realize makes me a weirdo to most people.

Hey guys, I’m a weirdo. Nice to meet you!

Weird- a person whose dress or behavior seems strange or eccentric.

Yup, this describes me pretty much perfectly. (They might as well have finished with “whose hair is green and is named Kysheeta”.)

What used to cause discomfort so much so that I would hide aspects of myself from people, is now something I embrace. I love my weirdness. And you know what? You should, too. Your weirdness is not a disability, it’s a Superpower.
Don’t look at yourself as the odd one out, view yourself as the life of the party!
Us weirdos are the light in the room, the talk of the town, the breath of fresh air; I know that’s true for me and I appreciate being known and loved for being 100% me. I want you to feel loved for being you, too! If cosplaying, roleplaying or having rainbow hair brings you joy EMBRACE THAT SHIT! Life is too short to be anything but happy <3. If you need an extra boost of confidence and reassurance to feel comfortable enough to be yourself, look no further than this post. Below, you’ll find a love letter to you.

Until our next adventure…

Dear Weirdos: I Love You. A Love Letter

Hey you! Weirdo!
I’m talking to you!
You’re loved, appreciated, trendsetting, and tradition breaking. You’re innovative! Unorthodox! You shake up the town and while you’re at it, paint the town red. You’re a rebel marching to the beat of your own drum.
Do you realize how brave you are?
Look at you, fucking shit up despite it being taboo. Oh, so you’re just going to be out here living your life and minding your business? It’s “fuck-what-a-hater-say”? Ok, I see you!
Look at you, being brave enough to be yourself.
How do you do that?
Walk around with your head held high with not a care in the World?
It feels good, doesn’t it?
Don’t let anyone steal your light, sunshine!
You’re probably an Artist staying up late nights just to impress people with your expressions of existentialism,
or maybe you’re a Scientist picking things apart trying to figure out how things tick just because it fascinates you,
or maybe you’re still in hiding, dressing the part of someone else, walking the walk and talking the talk because you’re still too afraid to be yourself.
Either way, I want you to know that you, yes YOU, are my favorite kind of person.
Well, it’s because of you that people view the world differently.
You represent you like no one else can and because of your unrelenting willingness to be yourself,
you inspire thought and conversation
which inspires change…which inspires people….which inspires movements!
So keep that freak flag high! And make sure that head follows.

Dear Weirdos: I love you.

I told you I had a Hogwarts letter! Any other HP fans?

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