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Vetting your academic sources is essential. Your academic research depends on you picking sound articles and books to critique and draw upon. If you choose the wrong sources, you run the risk of your entire article being distrusted and thrown out. Using structurally sound articles is even more critical when you are writing for an audience that's wider than your classroom like at a conference or in a small journal. You want to make sure that your research reflects the time and energy you spent writing your paper.

Today we are going to look at seven things you can look at when you are vetting your academic sources.

As a note: Use your best judgment. Whenever I looked for sources in college and graduate school, I never had to look super hard. Some of these you should look at by default, but you may not have to go so deep. If something doesn't seem quite right, go through more of these steps until you are satisfied that you are using a good source.

1. How Old Is Your Source?

Most disciplines have evolved a lot over the years. The things that people published even 50 years ago could be a disgrace to your discipline today. Old sources aren't automatically bad, but there could be much better sources out there for you to use.

When I wrote my thesis in college, I started with newer sources for my topic: the education of tolerance (where I talked about how people with more education tend to be more tolerant of those with lifestyles that differed from theirs.) Through my research on this topic, I eventually came across a pivotal book on this topic by Samuel A. Stouffer called Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties. This book was initially published in 1955, and it was where a lot of the initial sociological research on tolerance and education started.

Instead of starting with an old source, I let my research guide me. Eventually, if a source is important enough, I will notice it while I am conducting my research and look for it.

2. Who Wrote Your Source?

Your author's integrity is so important, and so is their educational background. If possible, find someone who is writing with a PhD. Don't use someone's Master's thesis as the basis for your research project! Chances are it's not peer-reviewed or published in any important journals.

Most sites have access to theses, but you can usually filter them out using the site's settings. Filter out all thesis projects so you can make sure that your author is reputable.

You may want to see if you can find other work your author has published. See what else their name is on and what journals they have been published in.

3. Who Paid For Your Source?

Research is not cheap. Often authors team up with think tanks and nonprofit organizations to fund their research. You shouldn't automatically suspect that a source is biased just because it is funded! I have personally worked on funded research before and the act of being funded doesn't make it bias automatically.

On the other hand, if you see a study that says the stock market is going to crash in 2020 and it's funded by the Make The Stock Market Crash In 2020 Foundation, you should probably be wary of what they say.

If research is funded, it has to be disclosed in your source's article or book. There is a catchphrase from the movie All The President's Men, that tells you to "follow the money." This is such a true statement when it comes to seemingly biased research.

Remember, not all "research" is as scientific as it seems. Make sure that you aren't falling for those kinds of scams and schemes by citing research that is subpar in your paper.

4. Is The Publisher Trusted?

Where are you getting your information from? Journals and publishing companies matter in the academic world. Some journals and book companies will publish almost anything with minimal vetting. You may want to consider a journal's impact factor when decided which journals to trust. Your professor may be able to point you in the direction of some trustworthy journals in your discipline if you don't know them already.

Not all book publishing companies operate the same way either. Some will require much more editing and review before pushing an academic book. Make sure the publisher does their due diligence.

When you are looking at online sources, where is the information coming from? As far as websites are concerned Wikipedia is not a source, and .gov websites are more trustworthy than .com websites.

5. Is The Source Peer-Reviewed?

The peer review process is crucial. During this process, people in the author's field read through the article and give their best guidance as to updates that need to happen in the draft. This process is not perfect, but it's great for weeding out weak research. Once your research is in the hands of random people in your field, they will tell you if it's a legit piece or not.

Make sure that you check the box in your research database to make the post peer-reviewed. It only takes a few seconds, and it will considerably shrink your search results in the best way possible.

6. Does The Source Seem Well-Researched?

The length of a works cited page doesn't always tell the complete picture, but you also shouldn't trust a 20-page paper with five sources by default. Check out the author's works cited page, what sources are they using? Do their sources seem reliable?

How are they blending sources? Do you see any chunks where they are citing multiple authors for one point? This is good because it means that they were able to pull themes from numerous texts. You want your author to be able to reach across various articles to pull out a summary of the most important points.

What types of sources are they using? Are they using sources from quality journals in their discipline? Are they using quality books and websites? Check this information, because if their research is sound, your research will be sound.

7. Is The Source Well Cited?

Last, but not least, are other people citing their article? Now, if the article or book you are using is recently published, you won't be able to use this method to vet your source. If it's an older source, do this: go to Google Scholar, find your article (or potential articles), and see how many articles cited it. You can also look up books in this system.

As you can see by the picture below, these higher education articles were cited by a lot of people. This is good because if other people trusted the articles, you should be able to trust them too.

Conclusion

Gathering great sources is key to having an excellent research paper. You should never skimp on collecting the best sources for your paper. When you do this, your papers can take you further than you ever imagined! Professors love to see that you put in the work necessary for a stellar paper so your good sources could lead to publications, conferences, and so much more!

Extra Resources

How To Find Good Scholarly Sources by The Cafe Scholar
Your Ultimate Guide To Using Research Databases by The Happy Arkansan

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Hey Y’all,

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s Amanda here! I was at a loss for what I should write on Valentine’s Day, but after wracking my brain it struck me: I want to write a love letter to my readers. Y’all have seriously changed my life for the better. I have been writing and growing this space on the internet since 2011 and it’s so insane to think about how far we have come together. Some of you have been around longer than others, but each time I get a new reader my heart grows two sizes (which is probably very unhealthy.)

Today is going to be my day to be mushy and gushy and I am loving it. Thank you for reading this letter and I hope that you get something valuable from the words that I am about to say to you today.

There are five things I want to tell you.

Listen to my love letter:

A Love Letter To My Readers - SoundCloud
(413 secs long, 5 plays)Play in SoundCloud
1. You are the most amazing thing that ever happened to me.

I could never write a love letter to you without recognizing how amazing your presence in my life is. I am just a girl from a small town in Arkansas and I have grown this site that has become bigger than me. I appreciate each and every one of you and the things that you have done are not lost on me.

You have been my shoulder to cry on and the thing that I turn to so that I can unwind in stressful situations. While it can be so easy to fall into the desperate trap of blog comparison, I know that the audience I have created is the most amazing group of people in the world. Thank you so much for following this girl who likes sparkly things and says y’all and like every five seconds.

You mean the world to me, you are brilliant and beautiful!





2. You deserve everything you ever wanted and more.

I am a tiny part of your day. Your day consists of creating things, going to college, going to you jobs, hanging out with your friends and family, dreaming of the things that you want to create or do in the future. I am here to tell you this: you deserve your dreams, wants, and needs. You deserve it all, babe! I am certain of it.

Set a goal, and work through every single block that you or someone else puts up. Work tirelessly for what you want. Of course, there will be times when it just doesn’t happen, but it won’t be because you didn’t try and it won’t be because there isn’t something better brewing and waiting for you. When one door closes, a window opens. The window may not be as convenient as the door, but it still works for getting what you want!

I am telling you this because it can be hard, y’all, this is something I am personally dealing with. I have been job searching on and off when I lose my faith that this is what I am supposed to be doing. Each time I apply I get that icky email telling me no. It sucks, but I know each closing door is motivation for me to do something bigger and better with my life. I am pushing myself hardcore into being an online creator and freelancer right now and I am so excited about our future together.





3. I Am Here For You Whenever You Need Me.

Some of my favorite moments are when I get an email or a direct message from y’all wanting to talk further and get some advice. I love this stuff, y’all. I check my email like 3,000 times a day (not seriously, but close) so I am always here for you if you need me. Seriously, go to my contact page and drop me a line. I want to be there to support you and all your endeavors.

If you need advice, a cheerleader, or you just want to write your feelings and get someone to say I understand, I am here for you.

Now, I can’t always promise I will have the best advice and I may only be able to point you to a few potential resources, but I will always try my hardest to provide great feedback for you!





4. Don’t Let Anyone’s Negativity Ever Get You Down

I am sure you have heard the saying, “let your smile change the world but never let the world change your smile.” This phrase rings so true! Some people are negative and you shouldn’t let their draining energy impact you.

Some people are seemingly born to be negative, but don’t let that impact your positive and happy spirit. If someone you love ever tells you to be less happy, you shouldn’t follow their words either. Happiness and radiating joy to rival the sun is never anything to be ashamed of. Even if you don’t radiate joy like the sun, don’t let anyone quash the amount of happiness you do possess.

Your happiness is yours and you get to choose what you want to do with it. You may be asking “Amanda, how on earth do I not let others affect my happiness?” I know that it really is hard sometimes. How do you smile knowing some of the crazy, insane things happening in your life and around the world? Well, here are a couple of things:

  • Block out bullshit: Yep, there are a lot of people just spreading BS around, and you gotta avoid that BS like the plague. So, when you see some BS call it out or avoid it in general. Either one works!
  • Change your world: Yes, it’s easy to say “I’m going to change the world!” but very few people actually do it. Instead, change your world. Change the world for those closest to you. If we all change our world then we can make this world as a whole a better place.

You don’t have to listen to anyone’s BS, take anyone’s BS, or be personally affected by anyone’s BS. Believe that, and you will be on your way to being positive even though the world is throwing negativity your way.





5. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

I couldn’t end this love letter without saying two simple words: thank you! You have done so much for me and I am so proud of what we have built together.

Thank you for being a friend.

Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on.

Thank you for coming back again and again.

Thank you for supporting the brands and things that keep this blog running.

Thank you for allowing me to live my dreams and write stuff on the internet as more than just a hobby.

Thank you for being such a huge part of my young adult life.

Thank you for adding some flavor to my life.

Thank you for being you.

I could go on and on, but I think the thank yous are running a little dry now.

thank you.





I seriously love you and I couldn’t imagine these last years without you in my life. I wanted to write this love letter to you for two reasons.

  1. Everyone loves a love letter, and not everyone gets them.
  2. I truly wanted to put into words how much I love and appreciate you.

I hope that you got some love, encouragement, etc. from this love letter.

Once again, thank you!

~Bloopers~

Basically all my bloopers involve balloons blowing in front of my face while I am trying to take a cute picture--so enjoy!




Sweater: Maurices {Sold Out} | Lipstick: L'Oreal's Colour Riche 707 Matte-Jestic | Balloons: Dollar General

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Disclaimer: This shop/post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #BreakFromOrdinary #DietCoke #CollectiveBias

Living your creative dreams is far from ordinary. Most people go their entire lives within the confines of the status quo, afraid to chase after the things that make them happiest. Today with the help of Diet Coke® we are going to break from the ordinary, and find out how to chase our creative dreams when we are going through college or living the 9-5 life.

1. Start Now

I love freelance writing, but one thing I wish I did was start sooner. I didn’t give myself a running start like I should have, and now I am trying to play catch up! So, instead of waiting until the moment is perfect, start now.

If you want to break from the ordinary, you have to be ready to make big moves. Now, this doesn’t mean being irrational and quitting your stable 9-5 job, but it does mean taking time to start the projects that you want to start now. Do it on the side until the side can become your full-time gig.

Diet Coke is the perfect companion to following your creative dreams. Your best decisions come when you are relaxed, drinking your fave beverage, and thinking about the tough decisions you need to make to create focus.



2. Create Some Focus

There is a huge misconception that creative people are unfocused, that they bounce from project to project, or that they live by the seat of their pants. This is simply not true. You can’t do everything in the world, and this is just something that you will have to grapple with.

Be honest with yourself. Create some focus in your life by drilling down to what’s most important to you. Sometimes that means that you will have to prioritize creative work over taking a second nap or watching your favorite show on television.

Think About What You Focus On Daily

Go through your day and notice what you focus on. Write down on a sheet of paper all the things you focused on today. Do you find yourself focusing or bringing importance to things that aren’t all that important to you? Create a list of things you actually want to focus on. Compare the list of what you want to focus on and what you focused on. Adjust your life accordingly to make sure that you are focusing on the important things in your life.

Say No

Saying no is hard. It’s especially hard when you have to say no to yourself. When I talk about saying no, I’m not just talking about saying no to your friends and family. Often we lose focus and try to do a million different things, but at the end of the day we have to hunker down and do what really matters. Think back to what your focus was from earlier, if you want to do something that’s not within that focus, you will probably have to say no.

I have been having to do this a lot lately. This weekend I even made a big move while sipping all the Diet Coke to make The Happy Arkansan my primary blog and to stop creating content as Amanda Cross Blog. This was a big move for me, because at first I thought combining my blogs would be the best bet, and upon further creative inspection, I realized that abandoning Amanda Cross Blog content altogether was the best move.

I recently got sent the entire collection of Diet Coke flavors in their sleek 12 oz can design. It was so fun to unbox the original Diet Coke along with four new flavors: Fiesty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange, Ginger Lime, and Twisted Mango. Each flavor is distinct and I can’t wait to share my favorite flavors with you later in the post.




3. Create A Creative Routine

Creativity blossoms when you create a specific routine for it to do so. If you have random spurts of creativity, you can’t expect to invite creativity in. Create some time in your schedule daily, weekly, or monthly where you are shining creatively. I encourage at least weekly, because it’s hard to start a monthly habit.

Often we think that we can’t afford to be creative, but often we are wasting time in other aspects of our life. Walk through your day, where are your time sucks? Are you spending too much time on homework because you are procrastinating? Are you wasting too much time on chores because you are thinking about doing chores instead of just doing them? Think through your day because chances are you are wasting at least a little bit of time that you could put towards creativity if you just switched your perspective a little.

Diet Coke and its four new flavors fit perfectly in your creative lifestyle. The sleek cans make creating and drinking your new favorite flavor a breeze. I love that they are available in packs or singles so that I can take my Diet Coke anywhere that my creative lifestyle takes me. You can pick which flavor looks best to you or you can try them all. The packs are perfect for sharing the bold and refreshing taste of Diet Coke with all your creative friends!

The Diet Coke can has a new look, but it’s still the same Diet Coke you have come to know and love! I love this new slim can because it takes up less space on my desk than the original 12 oz can. It makes burning the midnight creative oil so much easier.

Diet Coke Fiesty Cherry is my favorite of all the new flavors. It packs a cherry punch and I feel it’s the best gateway into trying all the new flavors from Diet Coke.

Diet Coke Ginger Lime was my second favorite flavor. It puts a unique spin on lime centered sodas, and it was so refreshing!

Diet Coke Twisted Mango is the most tropical of the new flavors from Diet Coke. It was fun to try this quirky, twisted mango flavor.

Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange was probably my parents favorite one to try. I am a huge fan of orange in soda, so It was fun to try Diet Coke’s twist on this flavor.

4. Take Up Space For Creativity In Your Home

One huge way to be more creative is to make a space for creativity in your home. If you hide away your creative pursuits in a box in the corner, it’s going to be hard to convince yourself to whip out the box and set up for your creative endeavors. Instead of hiding your creativity, give it space to flourish and prosper. If you are an artist, set up an easel and a space for all your painting material; if you are a musician, set up a space for all your instruments; etc.

Once you have a space for your creative endeavors, all you have to do is go to that space and start creating. You don’t have to make a big scene of pulling out all your gear and losing interest in the process of doing so.

When I am getting ready to start blogging for the day, I like to sit down with my beverage of choice (which as of late has been Diet Coke Fiesty Cherry) and I pull out my computer. I like to keep my computer on consistently (only putting it in sleep mode) so that it boots up quickly and doesn’t hassle me. This helps me get right into blogging instead of waiting and losing interest.

All of these fun Diet Coke flavors are available at your local Walmart so you can try any of the cool new flavors by heading to your nearest store. I am obsessed with all the new flavors and my parents love them too. The new flavors have the same taste you would expect from any Diet Coke product, but with a twist of bold, fruity flavor.



Conclusion

If you are a creative, you should never lose your creative spirit. Do something every day that keeps up your creativity and helps you break from the ordinary routine of everyday life.

I want to thank The Coca-Cola Company one more time for sponsoring today’s blog post. Don’t forget to check out Diet Coke’s new slim 12 oz. cans and flavors at your nearest Walmart. I really do love these new flavors and I can’t wait for you to try them so we can talk about them.

What’s your best advice for living your creative dreams? What Diet Coke flavor are you looking forward to trying?
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I have talked at length on this blog about the act of skimming. When I was in graduate school I began to realize that I needed to get much better at reading because I thought that I was the only one who couldn’t read fast enough. What I soon realized was that my classmates weren’t reading either, they were skimming. When I realized this I had to get better at it and then I felt the need to share that with y’all in my posts Reading With Purpose: Article Skimming 101 and How To Effectively Skim An Academic Book.

This week I wanted to focus on fiction and even nonfiction regular books. These books are way different to skim than an academic book so I wanted to cover that today.

Get An Audiobook If You Have The Time

Skimming is helpful, but there is nothing better than reading the actual book itself. If you have the time I would encourage you to check out a site like Audible to see if they have an audio version of the book you are looking for. Depending on the length of the book that you are trying to read, an audiobook isn't very long and if you are listening intently during the listening process, it will be just as effective as reading the actual book.

I do love skimming, otherwise I wouldn't have written so many posts about it, but I do think that you should read or listen to the book if you can!

How To Skim A Fiction Book

Now that we have talked about audiobooks, it's time to chat about what you came here for--skimming fiction books! 

1. Start With Your Purpose

When I am getting ready to skim any book or article, the first thing I think about is my purpose. This may seem cheesy, but it is massively important to begin with your purpose. Why are you doing this? Why do you need to read or skim this book?

Certain tasks will require different levels of skimming.

For example, if you are skimming the book to write a paper on the book, your skimming doesn't have to be as thorough. It's nice to give the book a quick skim, but you will always have the book to look back on during the paper writing process.

What is your writing prompt? This will heavily guide your skimming process because instead of focusing on everything under the sun, you can guide your skimming to match your writing prompt.

On the other hand, if you are skimming the book for an in-class discussion or a test, you will have to have a drastically different grasp on the subject. You can flip through your book a bit during an in-class discussion, but professors seem to catch on if you are avoiding eye contact and looking into the book pretending to find the answer they are looking for. On a test, you won't have access to the book at all.

Think about your purpose when you begin to skim read the book.

2. Read Through The Synopsis & Table Of Contents

The first reading that you should do is to look through the simplistic parts of the book--the table of contents and synopsis. Get a feel for the lay of the land of the book. This shouldn't take too much time to do and it will help you get a feel for what to expect from the book. Take a few minutes to get familiar with the book and then move on to the next step.

3. Seek A Little Outside Help

When it comes to books you want to read a few outside synopses or watch a couple of spoiler YouTube reviews. You don't want this to be your last stop, though, which is what sets my method apart from just using SparkNotes.

Check out a couple or reviews of your book to get those main points. Once you have that under your belt you can start skimming. 

Kindle X-Ray & Popular Highlights

The Kindle and the Kindle app allow you to have access to two important features that help with skimming: X-Ray and Popular Highlights. I am going to show you how you can use both of these features to help you skim.

X-Ray essentially creates an index of sorts for you that helps you figure out where you need to focus your attention most. It does this by showcasing all the words or phrases in a book that are referenced the most. For example, here is an X-Ray from Mindy Kaling's book "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)"

With this information I can skim the story and now a little more about what to expect from my reading. I can skim easier once I know these main concepts and people that will need to be seen in my talks about the book. For example, it would probably be hard to review or write about this book without at least a bit of talk about Mindy Kaling's time on The Office.

When a reader loves a quote in a book on Kindle, they highlight the passage from that book so they can return to it later. On many books, Amazon collects those popular highlights across books and you can see what other Kindle users are loving too. Here is an example of this technology with "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell (one of my favorite books, and my favorite Rainbow Rowell book.)

Popular Highlights is just looking through what other people find interesting or funny, but it can lead you to some great discoveries in the book.

4. Skim Through Some Of The Most Important Chapters

Based on what you have learned through the table of contents and by seeking some outside help, skim through some of the most important chapters that you have found in the book.

  • Read the introduction and closing paragraphs of those chapters.
  • Look at any pictures (if there are any.)
  • Skim through any of the italicized or bolded text.
  • Try to learn as much about the characters in the book as you can.
  • Be able to understand and locate some of the main scenes, locations, and moods of the book.
5. Take Notes On The Process

When it comes to skimming a fiction book, I think that taking notes is key. Write down notes on all the major plot points so that you bring up things in your own words while you are discussing the book or writing the paper.

For important points, get down page numbers and get down quotes from the book as well. You may need some important quotes to back up your arguments so getting particular quotes and page numbers down is key.

Type out or handwrite your notes and study those before your next class or before you sit down to write your paper so they are fresh in your memory!

Take Down A Few Examples Of The Most Important Concepts

For example, if murder plays a huge role in your book--don't just get down an example of one murder, take note of a few different instances of that in the book. If something plays a huge role in the book you may have to share a few examples of that, or prove that you know of a few examples of that.

You would never have to know every single example, because not even the most diligent student would be able to pick out every single example, but chances are you will have to know more than one of those examples.

Sharing multiple examples in your notes will help you stay ahead of the curve. Why is your professor making you read this book? What is the theme of the book in their opinion? That may give you some clues on things to look for multiple times in that book. You may be looking for the times the main character defied authority, or the times the author used alliteration, or even the times the main character's mom went to jail, whatever those concepts are--take note!

Conclusion

There you have it folks, my guide to skimming fiction books. Skimming can help you out a ton in college classes when you have a huge amount of work to do. I hope that this guide has helped you figure out how to skim for your college courses. Don't forget to check out my other blog posts about skimming in case you need to skim academic books or articles Reading With Purpose: Article Skimming 101 and How To Effectively Skim An Academic Book.

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I recently finished reading the excellent book, "The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson. I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from the book with y'all. Hopefully, after you read these quotes and see my explanations for why they impacted me, you would want to read this book too. I think it needs to be on your reading list this year if it's not already. 

10 Awesome Quotes From The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck 1. "You can't be an important and life-changing presence for some people without also being a joke and an embarrassment to others."-p. 17

This was the first of many quotes that hit me while I was reading this book. I think that when you are first starting off as a creative, you want your work to be liked by everyone because that feels like the only way to make a living doing what you are doing. You sacrifice being yourself and creating a crowd of people who love you because you are stuck wanting to be liked by as many people as possible. Instead of focusing on everyone, focus on finding your people. Focus on finding the people who love what you have to say, everything you have to say!

2. "We suffer for the simple reason that suffering is biologically useful. It's nature's preferred agent for inspiring change."-p. 27

We always want to avoid suffering. We want to live a life of rainbows and butterflies where we always get our way. While some people think that would be an awesome world to live in, I don't think it is always the best world to live in. You need to have a balance. Life needs to take you down a few pegs every once and a while. Most people who get everything they want all the time just end up being entitled a**holes who are the absolute worst to be around. It's okay to suffer, to not get everything you desire, to have to work for things a bit. It keeps you humble!

3. "The truth is I thought I wanted something but it turns out I didn't. End of story."-p. 40

I just love the way he phrases this part of the book. In this section, he is talking about how for a significant portion of his early life he thought he wanted to be a rockstar, but at the end of the day, he just wanted to be up on a stage seeing people chant his name. He didn't want to put in the work necessary to be a rockstar; he just wanted the end result. He realized that to be a rockstar, though, you have to love the things that make you a rockstar. You have to love the practice, the shows, the late night recording sessions, finding a label, etc. You can't just show up at the end of it all like a cheat code on a video game. So Mark Manson found something that he liked suffering for--writing.

When you realize that you don't want something anymore, it doesn't have to be this huge ordeal. You don't have to go into a million explanations for why you don't want something. Just say "I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn't."

4. "The true measurement of self-worth is not how a person feels about her positive experiences, but rather how she feels about her negative experiences."-p. 46

Let's face it: positive experiences are easy.

It's easy to be delighted with yourself when everything is going swimmingly. When you have all the cash your heart desires. When you are working hard and excelling at your dream. When you wake up feeling oh so happy with your life. Self-love and self-worth are easy then.

It's not so easy when you are down. When you are struggling to put food on the table. When you don't have the money you need to pay your bills. When you are just flat out failing.

That's when you need self-worth and love the most though. If you can love yourself despite all the craziness going on around you, that's the best thing in the world!

5. "If suffering is inevitable, if our problems in life are unavoidable, then the question we should be asking is not 'How do I stop suffering?' but 'Why am I suffering--for what purpose?'"-p. 69

I love this idea that Mark Manson posits here. We are always going to suffer some in the world, but why are we suffering? Are we suffering for something that is important, that matters to us? That suffering is unavoidable, so we may as well be suffering for something that's great.

6. "A lot of people hesitate to take responsibility for their problems because they believe to be responsible for your problems is to also be at fault for your problems."-p. 97

I loved this way of thinking about responsibility. I had never thought about the power of taking responsibility for something, even if it wasn't my fault. It was an interesting concept to think about, and one that I plan to implement throughout the year. I do associate responsibility with fault, but it is so intriguing to think of those concepts as two separate things. It's also rather liberating!

7. "Certainty is the enemy of growth. Nothing is for certain until it has already happened--and even then, it's still debatable."-p. 119

This is another concept that I never pondered in this way. Before I read this book, I used to value certainty more. I used to think that you wanted to have things locked in place in your brain, but then I began to see how certainty was holding me back in various avenues of my life. When you are certain that a situation won't happen, you sabotage yourself before it even has a chance to happen. You don't try as hard to get a job; you don't work as hard on the writing you are working on; you stop working out, etc. Certainty is the enemy of growth, and I encourage you to take a look at the things you seem certain about.

8. "Action isn't just the effect of motivation, it's the cause of it."-p. 160

This year I decided to leave behind the thought of needing motivation to get things done. Motivation is awesome, but it doesn't always just come to you. Inspiration isn't always easy to get so just do something, anything, to get the ball rolling. I think that we can all recall Newton's First Law which is:

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Once you start the ball rolling by moving, your motivation will come. Start acting, instead of waiting for motivation to strike you.

9. "It's not about giving a f*ck about everything your partner gives a f*ck about; it's about giving a f*ck about your partner regardless of the f*cks he or she gives. That's unconditional love, baby."-p. 181

Set boundaries in your relationships. You don't have to like everything that your partner likes or do everything that your partner does. Instead, love them and give a f*ck about them, but don't chase them around and be their twin. The old saying is that "opposites attract" and you don't have to be your partner's twin to love and care about them.

10. "Confronting the reality of our own mortality is important because it obliterates all the crappy, fragile, superficial values in life."-p. 205

I was kind of afraid to read the last chapter of this book. A chapter titled, "...And Then You Die" just didn't seem like a chapter that I wanted to finish this book. I ended up being very glad that I read the chapter though. I am still coming to grips with the mortality of this earth; I am not certain how I feel about the fact that eventually I will die or the people I love will die. It's so so so scary to me, so much so that if I think about it enough, I will start crying. This chapter was a step, though, to thinking about mortality in a new way. I am still scared sh*tless of death, and I am not sure I will ever be fully prepared for it, but it is an interesting concept to think about.

Conclusion

You need to pick up this book by Mark Manson! The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck is such an excellent self-development read. It stands out from so many of the other self-help books I have read, and I felt so encouraged after reading this book. Pick this up from Amazon or a local bookstore if you have the chance!

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Have you ever tried Naturebox before? I have been trying the site off and on for a few years now, so I wanted to take some time today to review the snacks that I received in my latest box and share some of my favorite snacks from the website with y'all. So, buckle up and get ready for a Naturebox review!

Naturebox Review: What You Need To Know About The Site

First, let's chat about the Naturebox site and what you need to know.

Naturebox is a website that offers TONS of different snacking options. All of the snack options are moderately healthy (with some being very healthy.) They don't contain things like artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils.

To access the Naturebox catalog, you pay a small fee of $5 per month. That is put on your site as a credit to shop at the store. I usually purchase a bunch of items every few months once I have enough credits to get a significant box.

If you want to purchase some goodies from Naturebox, check out my referral code. When you sign up with my link you get a free $20 worth of Naturebox snacks and so do I.

Naturebox Review: The Snacks I Got In My Latest Box

Let's chat quickly about the snacks that I got in my latest box with Naturebox.

1. Naturebox Peanut Butter, $4.49 per jar

The first thing I pulled out of my box was this beautiful jar of peanut butter from Naturebox. I have always wanted to try their pantry staple items. They have both peanut butter and almond butter on their website. These jars are not cheap! I got this jar of peanut butter for $4.49 (and it can sell for up to $7.79!) which is far more than what a peanut butter jar would be at Walmart, but this is peanut butter in it's purest form. The ingredient list says peanuts and sea salt. That's it.

Now, I wasn't a huge fan of this stuff. I got it mostly for my dad because he loves peanut butter. We both tasted it; my dad commented that it was a bit wet on the top for some reason, and we both noticed that it left a bit of a peanut-y aftertaste. It's not awful peanut butter, but it's just peanut butter. Peanut butter. It's very natural, and probably pretty good for you, but sometimes I like the more processed stuff.

2. Naturebox White Cheddar Caramel Popcorn, $5.99 for 2 bags

I am currently snacking away at a bag of these while I am writing this blog post because they taste just as magical as I thought they would. Whenever I get those big popcorn tins around Christmas time with butter, white cheddar, and caramel popcorn, I usually end up mixing all the flavors together before I get to the bottom of the tin. I love that mixture of all the popcorn flavors! When I saw that Naturebox had a White Cheddar Caramel Popcorn snack on the website I knew I had to purchase it.

This snack DID NOT let me down. It's probably going to be one of my all-time favorite Naturebox snacks from here on out.

3. Naturebox Whole Wheat Strawberry Figgy Bars, $6.99 for 2 bags

Naturebox has a couple of figgy bars on their website. I had previously tried the Raspberry figgy bars, so this time around I wanted to see how I would like the strawberry ones. I love these because they are all cute and individually packaged. These are very similar to the Newtons cookies from Nabisco, only a million times better for you and made with more love.

I do love these way more than I loved it the first time around with the raspberry flavor. It's a perfect little better-for-you treat.

4. Naturebox Lemon Tea Biscuits, $6.49 for 2 bags

These are weird. They give me all sorts of feelings. At first, when I bit into them they were chalky, then I was hit with a lemon flavor, then a butter cookie flavor? It's not my favorite thing in this box, that's for sure. Ultimately I will probably eat them, or give them to a family member for them to eat.

5. Naturebox Big Island Pineapple, $7.99 for 2 bags

THESE ARE MY ALL TIME FAVORITE NATUREBOX SNACK. I cannot get a single Naturebox without putting a few of these lovelies in the cart, too. Seriously, all my orders have at least one bag of big island pineapple. This snack is my JAM.

I don't even know how to describe this. It's just dried pineapple; I am not sure why I am so in love with it. If you get any Naturebox, always grab some Big Island Pinneaple.

Naturebox Review: My All-Time Favorite Snacks

I have been getting Naturebox snacks for a while now, and I have tried a TON of snacks from there. I wanted to take some time to list my all-time favorite snacks from the website, so you have some things to add to your cart when you check out Naturebox using my referral link right after this.

  • Naturebox Big Island Pineapple: As you know from just a bit ago, Big Island Pineapple is my jam.
  • Naturebox White Cheddar Caramel Popcorn: This was my first time getting this, but I want more bags of this, please!
  • Naturebox Small Batch Pineapple Ancho Chile Pork Rinds: These pork rinds were terrific. I am not usually a fan of pork rinds, but these were delish. They are a good mix of sweet and heat, though, so if you don't like hot stuff, this isn't for you.
  • Naturebox Almond Pecan Granola: I love all their granola, but this was the last granola I got from them, and I literally couldn't stop eating the granola whatsoever even though I had oatmeal to put it in.
  • Naturebox Strawberry Lemonade Fruit Stars: These are just too sweet and yummy to not put on the list.
  • Naturebox Apple & Cinnamon Oatmeal: Naturebox oatmeal is just such a great breakfast food. It's easy to add water to heat it up, and it's good for you!
Naturebox Review: My Final Thoughts

Before I left this blog post, I wanted to share my final thoughts about Naturebox. I have been using Naturebox for a long time now, and it's one of my favorite places to get snacks online. It is kind of expensive, and not all snacks are a total hit, but they are all made with quality and yummy ingredients.

I would suggest that you try it out once or twice. After you make your first order, you will be added to the Naturebox membership, and you will be charged $5 a month (which turns into a credit on your account) until you cancel your account with them.

Check out Naturebox with my referral code.

Thank you so much for checking out my Naturebox review!

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Galentine's Day is right around the corner and I wanted to give y'all some adorable cards that you could share with your favorite friends!

Valentine's Day is fun, but you should do more than just celebrate your bae, you can also celebrate the amazing women who make your life better! Today's blog brings you 10 cards that you can give to all your besties whether you are asking them the simple "Will you be my Galentine?" question or you want to be a little more forward and ask them to watch The Mindy Project with you.

I love these cards and I hope that you love them too. In order to make these cards I used a few resources from Creative Market. Here are two of the most prominent resources that I used. I probably also used some fonts from Creative Market too but I can't point to the exact listings I used because I used so many fonts for these cards.

Hearts were made with this pack from Creative Market.

Drinks and fruit were made with this pack from Creative Market.

To grab the high quality .PDF version of these cards, click the card you want and a .PDF will pop up in a new window.

12 Awesome Cards To Help You Celebrate Galentine's Day | Do you want to show your best gal pal that you love them this Galentine's Day season? Check out these twelve cards that will help you show your love through Beyonce, The Mindy Project, Mean Girls, and more. #GalentinesDay #ValentinesDay

As a note, I would say the best way to utilize these cards would be to print them on to thick card stock! Card stock is way better than normal printer paper and it will make giving these cards out so much nicer. 

This set of envelopes and 5x7 card stock from Amazon would be perfect for these cards and they have a fairly good rating. You could easily print them out and stick them in the provided envelopes to give to your friends.

Galentine's Day is such a fun holiday to celebrate. It's so nice to remind your gal pals that you love and appreciate them. I hope that you can do that easily with these 12 cards, which ever you choose to print out and give to your friends.

Let me know if you end up using any of these cards! I would love to know how your friends reacted!

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Note taking is so important in college, but it can be difficult to grasp. Today's blog will walk you through 10 questions about note taking in college and I will give you my best answers to each of these pressing questions so that you can be the best note taker possible!

Here are just a few of the questions we are answering today:

  • Should I handwrite or type my notes?
  • Which note taking method is right for me?
  • How should I organize my notes?
  • ...and more!
1. Should I Handwrite Or Type My Notes?

This is a huge debate for the college community. Most of my classes in college weren't as laptop friendly and I personally hated lugging around my laptop (especially when I lived off campus.) I would often handwrite my notes even though I am probably a much faster typer than I am writer.

In the end, it's about preference in my opinion. Don't rule out either. Try them both out in your different classes. I hypothesize that what you might find is typing works best for some classes while handwriting your notes works for others.

For example, typing might be annoying in a math class with a bunch of difficult equations. Keyboards have come along way, but they are still not meant to type numbers and math out. For those classes handwriting your notes would probably be easier. In a class with a bunch of technical jargon or just words, typing might be better because you can spell check as you go.

Be open to both and don't be afraid to use a mixture depending on what you need at the time.

2. If I Type My Notes Which App Should I Use?

If you choose to type your notes there are a variety of methods you can use.

You may want to be simple and use a Word or Pages document.

You may want to be more complex and use a note taking platform like EverNote or Microsoft OneNote.

You want to choose an app that works for you!

Why do you choose to type your notes? Getting that answer may help you decide the kind of note taking app you want to use. You want a note taking app that lives up to your expectations and needs. So, create a list of what you need from your note taking app and choose the app that checks most if not all of those boxes.

3. Is Color Coding My Notes Necessary?

Some people get really in depth when it comes to notes and they color code everything. Blue is a date, pink is an important person, green is something that may be on a test one day, etc. At the end of the day, this is time consuming af.

Color coding your notes makes them pretty, but it doesn't necessarily make them practical.

My advice, skip the color coding during lecture and do it in a different way. Or, create a more condensed version of color coding.

For example:

  • You may write all your notes in black but then underline certain words with colorful pens. Underlining may help you reduce the amount of time you are spending color coding while giving you the same effect of color coding.
  • You might also use things like asterisks, underlines, brackets, etc. to denote certain important things in your notes.
  • Lastly, you may create content with two different colors, one for your main writing, and one to emphasize certain points in your writing.

At the end of the day you should strive to simplify the note taking process, not make it harder.

4. Which Note Taking Method Is Right For Me?

Many students default to the outlining method of note taking, but that method may or may not work best for you. It's important for you to experiment with other forms of note taking so you can find the method that is truly the best fit for you.

I have always used the outlining method because it does work for me, but if you find that you feel you could be taking notes in a more effective way--branch out! Find a style that works best for you and stick with it until it doesn't.

Below I am linking this awesome article by Chloe Burroughs. I love this article because she really breaks down these note taking methods so that they are easy to understand and visualize.

Related Reading: How To Choose The Best Note Taking Method by Chloe Burroughs 

5. How Can I Create A Balance Between Listening And Note Taking In College?

In my honest opinion, the best way to create the balance between active listening and note taking is to put down your pen. I know, crazy!

When I was in college I saw so many people who were writing so fast in class that their hands were cramping up. They were seriously cramping my vibes in class because I was never one of those people. You see, in this particular class about poetry, we both made As, but I made As without cramping up every five seconds.

I realized long ago that the teachers words wouldn't truly mean much if I didn't grasp them and put them in my own words. So, instead of being a transcriber I became a summarizer. I would put my pen down, listen for a slide or two, then I would pick up my pen and write down the important things. 

Transcribing is not note taking my friends!

6. How Should I Take Advantage Of PowerPoints & Lecture Outlines When Note Taking?

If you want to take advantage of the PowerPoints or lecture outlines your teacher provides--print them out and bring them to class with you! Alternatively, put them on your tablet or laptop so you can have them open during class. This is the first step to being able to utilize them.

If you have access to these before class, give them a quick read through. This will help you orient yourself to what you will be discussing in class. Write down any preliminary questions you have in the margins or on a separate sheet of paper.

When you are in class, follow along. If it's in the lecture outline or PowerPoints you don't need to re-write it down.  Add on to the notes your teacher gave you, don't copy them! Your professor will likely go into further detail in class. Use the PowerPoint or Lecture Outline as a basis for your note taking. Let it guide your note taking.

7. What Is The Best Method For Taking Notes From A Textbook?

When taking notes from a textbook I think the most important advice is don't reinvent the wheel. Don't try to be fancy or come up with your own headings--the textbook company has already done that for you! Follow their headers and subheaders as you are taking notes.

It's easy to think a task is too easy. You don't want to just copy their outline because that would mean that you aren't doing as much work as you should be, but sometimes you just need to relax. Go with their flow because ultimately that will be the best way to take notes and be able to compare notes with the book when you are studying later. 

8. How Should I Organize My Notes?

Here are a few note organization methods:

For Handwritten Notes

The best method for organizing notes that I have found is using a binder with separate tabs for each class. Some people use notebooks but I find that:

  1. They can be wasteful if I don't happen to use all the pages provided.
  2. They can't be re-arranged or made smaller in case I want to study on the go.

I like that binders are flexible. If I find that I am taking fewer notes in one class I can move some of that classes paper to another class where I am constantly taking notes. I can also take the most important pages out of my binder so I can study on the go in case I don't want to carry my binder around.

I have personally always been a fan of binders, although they can get a little bulky if you have a million articles and supplemental materials stuffed inside. I would encourage you to keep your binder as clean as possible. Some people have an expanding file or a few file folders at home that they use to keep old stuff during the semester that they may need at a later date (to study for a big test like midterms/finals and/or to write a big paper, etc.)

For typed Notes

If you don't want to print them out, hole punch them, and organize them in a binder you should:

  • Create a huge folder for each semester.
  • Inside that semester folder you should create subfolders for each class.
  • Inside that subfolder you should have at least one Word document for your notes as well as any supplemental class materials like your syllabi and articles assigned.

You may want to create separate Word Documents for each type of note taking: one for in class note taking and one for textbook note taking.

Organization is key for note taking on your computer because you likely use your computer for more than just course work.

9. What Should I Do If I Can't Keep Up With My Professor In Class?

There are a couple of options for people who can't seem to keep up with their professor in class and it depends on a few things:

If You Have A Learning Or Physical Disability

Go to Disability Support Services! They offer a wide array of services that can help you in all of your classes. They may even be able to get you a note taker for your classes (at my school this was a student who volunteered to take notes for a student in class then they got a special notebook to make copies of all the notes they took, now at my alma mater this process is digitized though so they don't need to get the special notebook.)

If you get a note taker you still need to pay attention in class, go to class, and try to write down the notes that you can. Your note taker is probably trying to be as meticulous as they can be, but they cannot write everything down! You need to be in class every day so you can get your information right from the professor's mouth instead of through a student.

If You Just Have A Hard Time Keeping Up

Maybe this is your first time having to take diligent notes or your professor has an accent that you can't quite grasp, here are some options for that:

Talk With Your Professor: They want to help you succeed! Ask them for their best advice on note taking and see what they have to say. You may even ask them if you could bring a recording device to class so you can get your notes completed. Let them know what you have been trying to do to keep up in class, so that you both can work together on a better solution!

Team Up With Another Classmate: If you are having difficulty keeping up, maybe a classmate is too. You guys can work together by trading notes after each class. You can scan your notes and send them to them and they can do the same. This way you both have two sets of notes to look off. You may have caught something they didn't and vice versa.

10. What Do I Do With My Notes Once The Semester Is Finished?

The end of the semester is the best, but what do you do with all the notes that you just took. Here are a couple of options:

Recycle Them

Don't just throw away your paper if you can help it, find a recycle bin and recycle all your old notes. If you have staples in your notes you may want to remove them. I know that some mills where paper gets recycled have the ability to remove staples, but you should remove them yourself just in case. You will feel a lot better if your recycle your notes versus burning them or throwing them away (although burning your notes after a crazy semester is fun sometimes.)

Keep Them

If you believe that you may re-use your notes at one point in your time as a college student, I'd keep them. For example, notes from the introduction to your major class may be useful later on when you get more involved in your major. Gather up all your notes, put them in a file folder, and keep them somewhere safe until you feel like you no longer need them--then recycle them.

Conclusion

Note taking is an important part of college life, but I hope that going through these answers helped you make better note taking decisions. Do you have any more questions about note taking in college? Leave them below so I can answer you in the comments!

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Valentine's Day is around the corner and I am all about showing people and yourself love. On the other hand, I feel like there is this growing trend of, "I'm not single, I'm dating myself," well personally I am just fucking single. I am okay with that. I would be a horrible date for myself! Today I am going to share how to be fearlessly single in your twenties because we could all use some advice on how to be happily single.

1. Acknowledge Your Singleness

I am single AF. When I acknowledge that I can begin to either make changes so I am not single or sit in that fact. When you use phrases like, "I'm dating myself," they sound nice but they really cushion the sting of being single. Recognizing exactly what you are means that you can be it or change it.

Acknowledge the fact that you are single and decide what you will do about that fact. You may be single, and your reaction to that is to put yourself out there and date OR you may decide that you are single and love it that way.

There is a sense of calmness in being able to say exactly what you are without sugarcoating it. The first step to being fearlessly single is to recognize that you are in fact single and that you aren't any of those phrases that people try to use to seem less single.

Be single, celebrate it, shout it out on the rooftops, be loud about it.






2. Stop Treating Yourself Bad Because Of It

If you are fearlessly single you are LOVIN' IT! There is no hatred or feeling bad about being single (at least not 99% of the time, I'll give you 1% of the time to feel bad about it, it's only fair!)

Don't let other people in your life make you feel bad because you are single. Don't envy relationships. The Green-Eyed Monster looks good on no one. Acknowledge that they are fearlessly in a relationship and get the frack over it.

You and your friends in relationships can simultaneously be happy.

When someone asks you why you are still single, tell them the truth, "Because I am happy single," or maybe "Because I want to be," or whatever your reason is. Don't make a million excuses, fearlessly single people tackle the question head on.

Be good to yourself during this time of singleness. You are a badass after all.






3. Relish The Tiny Things That Make Being Single Awesome

There are a million things about being single that are awesome. Relish those things, be happy about those things. Here are just a few:

  • You can read in the bed as late as you want.
  • You can watch whatever shows you want at the pace you want.
  • You can take up your entire bed with no fear, hell, you can even starfish across that thing.
  • You don't have to have to deal with other people's love or hatred of foods you hate or love.
  • You don't have to let your significant other know where you are going all the time.

These are just some of the many tiny things that make being single awesome. 

Instead of thinking about the things you may or may not be missing, lean into all the amazing stuff you have going on. We always think about negative things first, but if you want to come to terms with your singleness you need to learn the power of positive thinking.






4. Create A Life You Would Be Proud Of With Or Without A Date

At the end of the day this is your one shot at life. There are no second chances, no extra lives, no other way about this life. This is not a rehearsal! You need to create a life that you would be proud to live with or without a date by your side.

So, work hard on yourself, for yourself. Don't think about what you are doing now in relation to a boyfriend or husband in the future. Don't stifle yourself or grow yourself in a certain way because of a future person. A date may come but it shouldn't be your sole reason for getting better and making moves in your own life.

Evaluate yourself, why are you doing what you are doing? Are you making adjustments in your life for the wrong reasons? Are you learning something or doing something for a future boo or are you doing it for you?

Your goal every day should be living a life that you don't want to get away from. You have my permission (although you don't need it) to fearlessly go after your dreams.






5. Realize That You Are Not Alone

There is this thing that has been happening so much that it's been the butt of so many comedic jokes and romantic comedies: when you are single all you see is couples and when you are in a relationship all you see is single people.

It may seem that you are all alone in this singleness journey, but trust me you are not. You are not the only one who is riding solo and you will never be the only one who is doing so.

Don't you ever ever ever feel bad about the fact that you are single, not on Valentine's Day, and not any other day of the year.

There is so much more to this life than having a relationship. Work on your relationship with yourself, God, your family, your friends, etc. Work on being an awesome person each and everyday. Never feel that you are alone in this life, you have so many people who are there for you, even if it's just strangers on the internet.






Conclusion

Being single doesn't have to suck, y'all. Be fearlessly single with these tips and live your best life. Never feel that you have to change to fit this preconceived notion of what a 20-something is supposed to be. Don't shut out love, but don't change your whole routine for it either.

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Welcome back to another edition of #TheHappyArkYear, in case you are new here I am striving to share 365 positive tasks you can do throughout the year with you over the course of one year. At the end of each month I am going to share my tasks for the next month so that you can be happy and healthy all year this year! I released January's list in December, so now it's time to release February's list!

1. Read a book for fun

We don't often give ourselves enough time to just read for fun. Give yourself some time today to get out your tablet or a physical book and read something good.

2. Clean out Your Inbox

Your inbox needs a serious makeover! Take some time today to clean things up, delete things you don't need anymore, and create some folders for organizational purposes. We can't all have an assistant who reads and sorts all our emails, but we can take a bit of time to organize things ourselves.

3. Take the time to prepare a meal for yourself today

I am all about cooking in the kitchen when I can. Take some time to prepare a meal in the kitchen whether you are creating a dish in a crockpot or a dish on the stove top. Get in the kitchen for a little bit today!

4. Lock your phone away for a few hours

Sometimes it's hard to stop checking your email a million times or hopping on Twitter every few seconds. Give yourself a break! Lock your phone away in a drawer or in another room for a bit and work on a project you really need to get done

5. Look at pictures of your favorite animal on the internet

I am a sucker for a puppy. Check out some cute animals by looking up something like #DogsOfInstagram or even just searching for your favorite animal on Google. Look at all the cute pictures and calm down thinking of all the cute animals there are in the world to pet.

6. Make a vision board for yourself

Having a strong vision for who you are and what you want to accomplish is so helpful. Take some time to get on Pinterest and create a virtual vision board or get out some old magazines and create a physical vision board. Gather all the things that make you feel inspired and put them all in one location.

For a look at what a virtual vision board might look like check out my Pinterest board The Anatomy Of The Happy Arkansan which was the inspiration behind the design for this blog.

7. Text someone you haven't spoken to in a while

We often get this craziness in our own head that the people we used to talk to all the time hate us because we drifted apart. That isn't always true. Sometimes all you need to do is reach out and you will see that the people we used to be friends with are still close by. Text someone in your phone you haven't chatted with recently!

8. Laugh for no reason

Sometimes you just gotta laugh to laugh. No further explanations needed.

9. Watch the most watched video from your favorite YouTuber

Go to one of your favorite YouTube channels and sort their videos by their most popular or even their oldest videos if you really want a laugh. You will probably be shocked by how much they have changed over the years!

10. Try a new outfit combo

We get so stuck in our ways when it comes to what we wear but we shouldn't! Get some inspiration from Pinterest or Google and go try a completely new outfit combo that you wouldn't have tried on your own.

11. When you look at yourself in the mirror this morning give yourself a positivity pep talk

Pep talks are amaze! This morning when you look at yourself, take a few minutes to give yourself a pep talk while you are getting ready for the day. Remind yourself that you are beautiful, bright, and brilliant!

12. Meditate for five minutes

Taking just a few moments to meditate before you get your day started or after the day is done can really help you out. There are so many cool apps like Headspace and Calm that can help give you those five minute meditations. You may also just get a candle out, put it somewhere you can focus on it, play some meditation music, set a timer for five minutes, and meditate that way. Whichever way you decide to meditate, take some time to focus today!

13. Snack throughout the day

Snacking throughout the day is the best way to stop yourself from binging late at night. Instead of eating everything in the kitchen, eat a little bit all day so that way you can eat smaller meals!

14. Write a love letter to yourself

It's Valentine's Day today and one of the most important people you must love is yourself. So, take a few minutes today to write a love letter to yourself and write down all the things you love about yourself.

15. Read your favorite quote or bible verse today

Take a few seconds with your bible or just a quote that you love. Read that quote or verse and really sit and meditate on it today.

16. Revisit an artist or band you loved as a teenager

We all have that awesome band or artists that we used to listen to constantly as a teenager that we don't listen to as much today. Go back and listen to a CD or two from that artist.

17. Go Online Window Shopping

I love to go window shopping, and I especially love to go window shopping when I can do it in my pajamas. Go to a few of your favorite stores and see what they have for sale. Remember, the purpose of this is to go window shopping, not real shopping.

18. Stretch your body

A little bit of stretching does the body good! Stretch your legs, your arms, everything. Get a little blood flowing to all areas of your body today!

19. Share a positive story on social media today

The world needs more positivity. Look up some positive stories online and share those with your followers on social media. Seeing a positive story is sure to lift their spirits!

20. Remove can't/cannot from your language today

You can do so much more than you know. Every time you want to say the word can't or cannot today when it comes to something you think you can't do, say that you can instead of cannot. You are selling yourself short if you always say can't. Chances are, you are lying to yourself when you shut yourself down!

21. Record a video of your feelings

Taking the time to record a quick video or audio recording of how you feel can be a great way to check in with yourself. Take a few minutes today to record a small video and let out all your feelings on the video.

22. Do a word search

Sometimes a great act of self-care is just relaxing and doing a word search puzzle. Take some time today to get a $1 word search book from a store or just download a word search puzzle app on your phone.

23. Restrict your email usage today

I can't admit to how many times I checked my email while writing this blog post because it's hella embarrassing. It is so easy to keep refreshing and refreshing our emails so instead of doing that, we are going to restrict the amount of email we use today. Be simple, check it during the morning and at night and no times in between!

24. Create a budget

Now, I don't think you should create your entire year's budget today, but even creating a monthly budget or a budget for an upcoming trip you are going on will be great! If you want to go above and beyond and create a yearly budget, that's cool too!

25. Have a Sunday Staycation

You don't have to be out and about every Sunday. This Sunday have a little staycation. Binge watch all the television shows, read all the books, and just relax a bit!

26. Send a piece of snail mail

Snail mail is something we all love getting but we don't send enough of. Get out a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter to send to someone you love!

27. Text your parents and let them know you are thinking about them

We all love to know that someone is thinking of us. Take some time today to shoot your parents or someone you love a text to know that you love them and they are on your mind.

28. Do some pre-spring cleaning preparation

It's almost spring time! I can feel it! Do some spring-cleaning prep today, what do you need to think about adjusting in your apartment or house?

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