Archives for category: Tips

Wow, has it been a minute or what. Once upon a time I started this little personal hobby blog about spas I was visiting just to talk about that simply. I loved speaking about each interior, dissecting it, analyzing the service and services, you name it. Now, after 7 years, I have definitely visited quite a few spas. Yet, I haven’t felt inspired to write about an experience since almost exactly one year ago. I’ve written about spas so many times, and am also a design consultant that critiques spaces on the daily, so I just don’t feel that inspired to dissect them anymore because, well, I simply feel I’m at a point where I know what makes for a good spa and what doesn’t. & To top it all off, I ironically found myself in a relationship with a man who is a CEO of an international spa company. How’s that for serendipity?

As of late though, I have been itching to talk. About what? Things. Random things. Things that come to me, and I say to myself, “Oh I could really dive into that!” Then the thought goes, and I don’t get around to doing it. Time is money. So now, right here, I am going to officially denounce this “spa blog” as a spa blog and change it over to just simply, my blog. If a topic comes to me, I’m going to write about it, vent, get it out and just say I did.

I think the feeling of wanting to talk stems from a few things. Number one, and most obvious, if you know even the slightest about my last two years, I’ve become an expat. I live far far away from all my loved ones, friends, colleagues and a world I knew like the back of my hand (hence why I needed newness). So it goes without saying that at times I find myself feeling quite isolated – and yes, I know, that was done by choice. Another reason I feel chatty is because I am experiencing so many new and different things, ways of life, cultures, career changes, relationship challenges / successes, because I am living abroad. Not always does a caption to a photo suffice, for me, as space-enough for what I really want to say.

I’ve thought about doing the whole YouTube vlogging thing, a lot, because I have always been quite a social person, and so many people have suggested I do…however as I have gotten older I really tend to like my privacy. I could never get up the gumption to post that one video I recorded talking about my first 9 months abroad. Who am I to talk about this topic? Yea, I’m living it – or more like figuring it out as I go. Did I go into it naively? Sure did. Up until a certain point I was merely surviving every day life. At the end of the 20 minute video my only advice is a cheesy: just do it – go – have faith. Perhaps I could post it just to see initial reactions? Who knows.

Also, why open myself to people’s criticisms? No thanks. It all just feels so invasive. They say what goes on the internet is forever on the internet. Are you comfortable with that? I’m not. & I’m not so sure I want my person forever being there, long after I’m gone. Although, paradoxically I am already participating in another form of it all by posting photos on instagram and Facebook.

Le sigh…

What’s to lose though? If you’re a standup honest person, and you mean well, and you can see yourself being good at it? Why not? Although, there are those people from your past who love to come around and be internet bullies when you start to have a following,…so I have come to understand from people who post their lives on the internet.

I love when I hear advice about how to become an “influencer” or fashion blogger or what-have-you… it’s always: just start! Then, be consistent! It’s so simple, and so true. Kind of like my advice to just go abroad. The consistency thing is where I know I might fail for producing content because I don’t have friends here (or not a handful at least) to help me produce content I would need. Who wants to see a bunch of selfie productions? I’m also someone who likes to approach things with a bit of a strategy, or game plan, or mission and without that kind of structure I tend to think things become a bit of a waste of energy…like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Plus I wouldn’t initially be getting paid to do it. Again – need. structure.

So that’s where I have to narrow in on my “passions” and “talents” they say. What value can you provide the people with? And that, that question I cannot answer. I’m pretty self-aware and know myself. I know I’m passionate about health, design, travel, career, wealth, and family. The whole talent thing though? That’s where I struggle. I’ve always been a Jill of all Trades. Good at a lot of things but not fabulous at one. What can I do or say or provide that will attract the people’s attention? The views are what count!

Aside from the whole idea of vlogging floating around in my head I have more astute ideas like itching to go back to school for my Masters in Business. My brain has been so educated (or trained) for the arts that I am dying to activate the entrepreneur inside of me…rather than fallback on the trend of vlogging. Or even get a certificate of some kind whether it’s a nutrition degree, writing degree, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) degree or personal training certification.

With all that said, currently, career-wise, I’m happily (if not a little anxiously, obviously) focusing on my career(s) at hand. One is being a Home Critic for Plum Guide, a company based out of London, here in Barcelona, by consulting the design and amenities of homes to be added to the luxury vacation rental website’s collection. The other job being a remote Consult Designer for the online Interior Design company based out of America called Havenly. Both jobs are really appealing to me, especially considering that I’m consulting…something I’ve always wanted to move toward as an Interior Designer, plus both jobs keep my creative thirsts satiated fully. Not to mention, one job is fully remote which is extremely ideal considering I love to travel and love the idea of being able to make money while moving around the globe.

So even though I’m fairly isolated, don’t have a whole ton of friends around me (yet), and am toying with the idea of vlogging, I’ve found the positive in my solitude and “free time”: writing here again now, and up’ing my career game by working two jobs and pursuing education and entrepreneurial endeavors (as well as some fitness goals!). Because recall that, “6 months of hardcore focus and alignment can put you 5 years ahead in life – you can’t underestimate the power of consistency and desire. You have what it takes to become the best that you can be. You can’t doubt yourself. Harness your power, exceed your expectations.”

And I will leave you on that note. Tell me though, what are your thoughts on vlogging? Do you think it is a worthwhile pursuit? Do you watch vloggers? Or do you prefer reading? Do you think I should give it a shot?

I’m all about that fresh freshness. Whether it’s scent, feel, or taste. And as you may know, I’m all about interior design and spas. Welcome to my blog. So, because I am educated in the design of interior spaces… and consider myself an aficionado of spas (you bet I deemed myself) … I think it’s interesting to talk about an important topic I have yet to touch on: maintenance (and service) upkeep in a spa business.

I bring this up because 3 years ago I visited the most adorable spa in Amsterdam called The City Street Spa. It was a dream. Literally. From the city itself, to the experience of getting there by bicycle, to the atmosphere, ambiance, quality of treatment and visual aesthetics of the spa, it was amazing. My girlfriend Shaina and I have talked many times about how we would love to own something this very size. It was bright, sunny, airy, had its private spaces, a good range of services and the treatment(s) I had were incredibly carried out. Zen.

Flash forward 3 years and I’m back in Amsterdam, wanting to have a couple hours of spa relaxation with my fiancé while visiting the city so I suggested we check out this place…as he is also a spa aficionado 😉

Well, to my chagrin, the spa was not still operating as it once had. Allow me to list the problem areas, then I will speak of solutions, and lastly about why you need to maintain and advance a spa concept (if it’s not obvious).

PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS:

1. We were not greeted in a timely manner. I honestly don’t care if you’re in the middle of speaking to someone on the phone – you have to acknowledge your customers who walk in your door.

When you show people (even the one you’re on the phone with) that you can multi-task, and are busy, people begin to respect your time – and the person who entered your door feels like a priority. Which they are. They pay your bills.

2. The lockers still don’t have locks. It’s not even a locker. It’s an armoire. As an expat and world traveler, sorry, but I don’t trust people. I don’t care how safe the country is. At a spa I should be able to leave my worries, and possessions behind…not bring them with me to my treatment.

3. The lounge. Two key things happened here.

A. The fur throws on the lounge chairs were the same ones from 3 years ago. Now, they’re ragged, discolored, and just look old. Yikes. & dare I say, “ew”. Replacing the 30€ throws is a simple way to keep things looking fresh.

B. I am also a tea aficionado. And call me crazy but of all places, one that is about your health and well-being, a spa should have the absolute best selection of tea. Especially!, when you’re asked to sit and wait for 20 minutes before your service. Two things would have made, and started, this part of our experience off much better.

1. A menu to choose our tea – or better yet – a selection of beverages. Options. A snack maybe even? Who wants to be hungry and parched while trying to enjoy a relaxing treatment? Not me. We were served a Lipton variety. Lipton?! Of all places Amsterdam, a city known for its trade of goods, should be supporting a local tea business.

2. Knowledgeable staff. I asked the person serving us tea what options we had for tea and she did not know. She had to go check. Come to find out we had one. These types of things perplex you as to why this happened. A well run spa has these things under control.

4. My eyes were not covered during my body scrub. Any type of service that doesn’t include a facial, your eyes should be covered. Of course, that permits the service provider to ask what you prefer. Creating darkness allows you to relax…not pop an eye open to peak at the process…or have flickering eyes etc.

That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to bash the place. I would still recommend it because the prices are reasonable and the staff is overall polite. It be things I’ve mentioned are easy fixes.

WHY UPKEEP IS IMPORTANT:

I think it goes without saying, now that I’ve listed my grievances, why it is important to address the aforementioned things. No matter the space, keeping things fresh makes a space last, keeps things interesting and shows you care.

The take-away points are:

  • Never forget what good customer service entails.
  • Invest in privacy for your clients.
  • Train your staff.
  • Provide beverage/snack options for your clients.
  • Collaborate with local businesses for drink/food options. Maybe even skincare products etc.
  • Always strive to create a relaxed ambiance for your client. Put yourself in their position and think of how you would want the service to play out.

“Perspective gives us the ability to accurately contrast the large with the small, and the important with the less important. Without it we are lost in a world where all ideas, news, and information look the same. We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize, and we cannot make good choices.”
– John Sununu


 

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It’s interesting… to summarize it generically: this whole traveling / world-away-from-home life. Like the quote above says, this perspective, this paradigm I have introduced myself into…this “discomfort” as some might choose to think of it, has made me become, quite ironically, zenful and sickeningly happy – which puts me in a place where I am enjoying the ability to internally and rationally assess the good and the bad in my life, the good and the bad that tries to come into my life, and the good and the bad that I want to either keep or let go of immediately. As well as the things that require my immediate attention in order to continue improving my life and experiences.

What’s interesting also, is how being in this season of my life, this place in the world (Prague, Czech Republic), I am able to really narrow in on the tiniest of moments that bring me happiness in a way that I never have before. It’s as if reality becomes a slow-mo and as the beautiful moment happens it’s like a glowing orb lights up within me and glows around me the size of a willow tree and just burns with pure brightness. It’s incredible. And as hippy-dippy as it sounds, it’s beautiful. On the daily, I am understanding attitude and happiness is a choice more than ever. It’s transcendental. It’s love. It’s eternity.

Materialistically I’ve also been able to narrow in on the most “basics” of my human needs…i.e. hygienic necessities, work attire, healthy food options, utilitarian clothes for a winter season, amount of space I need to live in this world and my interests. Coming from a self-proclaimed “fashionista”…it’s an experience I am appreciating very much. Having a minor in Environment & Society and approaching the time in my life I will buy a home…it’s a valuable, humbling lesson.

I’m dealing with friends unfollowing me at a rate I don’t understand. This happened last time I was traveling abroad. What am I doing to deserve that? What am I doing wrong? Not staying in touch? Doesn’t the phone/internet go both ways? Do you not like what I am posting? Some say it’s envy. I challenge that and say people need to learn to be happy for others – and figure out why they are uncomfortable sharing in others joys and change their life. After all, happiness is a choice – an inside job – a job YOU are the captain of!

So after all I said above, I can’t be bothered. Because there are people in my life who do continue to care, and who equally stay in touch and are supportive of allowing my personal/career life to live out it’s own course with no judgements or preconceived convictions. People with good vibes. And truthfully, if they bow out of the friendship that is their choice. I just have to remember their decision when and if they want to come back into my life. I’m all about loyalty. & I also believe friendships have their own course and sometimes chapter in life. What I do know is that when I have fete’s in my life that I want to celebrate, I only want people there who have never bowed out. It’s called boundaries. Just as in any relationship there are things you will tolerate and things you won’t.

Quality over quantity. Perspective above contentment.

So below are some quotes that really struck a chord within me when searching for words that I could relate to during this time in my life. And I felt like sharing!

 

Perspective Quotes:

“I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.”
– Stephen Hawking
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
– Ernest Hemingway
“Winners have the ability to step back from the canvas of their lives like an artist gaining perspective. They make their lives a work of art / an individual masterpiece.”
– Denis Waitley

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”
-Horace Walpole
“The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it. “
-Chris Pine
“Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals.”
– David A. Bednar
“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.”
– Joni Eareckson Tada
“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective”
– Ernest Hemingway
“There are seasons in life. Don’t ever let anyone try to deny you the joy of one season because they believe you should stay in another season… Listen to yourself. Trust your instincts. Keep your perspective. “
-Jane Clayson
“Faith gives you an inner strength and a sense of balance and perspective in life.”
-Gregory Peck
“Everybody that listens to something hears it differently from their own perspective. And you can’t please everyone. Don’t even try. Please yourself first and then try to please those people around you that you feel know what you’re doing.”
-Buddy DeFranco
“Traveling gives you some perspective of what the rest of the world is like. I think that having the courage to step out of the norm is the most important thing.”
-Meghan Markle

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI’m “traveling” right now and one of the surest ways for me to feel “at home” is to eat the things my stomach agrees with. I’m 30 so I’m pretty much at the point where I have figured out my bodies internal temperaments and I understand what keeps me lean, not bloated, and nourished. Luckily, getting lost in translation with a Slovak foreign-to-me-entirely-language, doesn’t mean food looks different – and(!) there are grocery stores here in the Czech Republic too! Who woulda thunk? 😉

I receive a lot of recipe emails because well, I love throwing my favorite things together in a new form so I’ve signed up for too many websites to send me recipes to try. And occasionally one looks so good that I have to try it and then the recipe will usually stick in my brain forever once I try it (rare. bad memory) . Hence, I love finding a reason to try new things in the kitchen. #happyplace #braincookbook

@HealthGuide sent me a recipe for Chickpea Roasted Sweet Potato and it was love at first read and sight. It became my next recipe mission.

The next time I went grocery shopping down the street (10 minute chilly walk) I picked up a few of my staples…given: I cannot tell what is organic or the most “honest”/transparent brand of food, (whatevs!…gotta pick my battles right now, and being fed at a decent level is acceptable by me for now) as well as picked up the ingredients for this super yummy recipe, aforementioned.

I was intrigued because it had roasted chickpeas – I looove anything the least bit crunchy (or burnt) and smushy like a bean. Yum! I eat sweet potatoes all week long. And can’t resist the punch a good hummus can bring. It might seem like theres a lot of “smush” going on with the potato and chickpeas but add in the soy (or almond) milk to the hummus with the minced garlic and onions, and this one gets it in the bag, literally.

Long story short, I made the recipe and it was bomb.com. Everything including the lemon pepper chicken breast that I stove top baked and the side salad I prepped took one hour. And here I am now posting the recipe to share because it. was. that. good. Trust.

Try it if you don’t believe me:

https://www.healthiguide.com/recipe/chickpea-roasted-sweet-potato/

 

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In life, as you age, you encounter people… and you learn how you, and others, conduct themselves and try (emphasis on try) to relate to others. You will figure out if you are one of those people who keep all the secrets of success to yourself – or – if you find joy in helping others. Personally, I am the latter. Although…there is something to say about those who seek the clues to success on their own.

Currently, I am two days out from starting a new chapter for my life in the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain. I visited two years ago and have wanted to move there ever since. Finally, the timeline has effortlessly presented itself for me to move abroad. The unknown of what will unfold because of this decision in the years to come is the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

All of this has made me think back to when I first decided to embark on that journey across the globe two years ago. I initially sought out my friends who had gone on similar travels in order to pick their brains about every question I could think of. My hope was that they would give forth some advice – or better yet, help paint the daunting / terrifying picture of traveling to a land I had never been to. And one I would be extremely far away from anyone or anything I knew, and where I didn’t know the native languages. However…that wasn’t the case exactly. My questions would get answered but not much was ever given forth. I guess for some all you can do is answer the questions people ask and the rest of their travels is for them to experience and learn from. I personally would find it immensely enjoying to sit down in front of a computer and notepad with someone and help them plan out their WHOLE trip. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for, ha!

To each their own I am learning as I “age”.

During my travels I kept a Note going in my phone about some things I felt would be convenient to know prior to or during my travels. So here they are:

  • Don’t bring a hat – and if you do, make sure it’s able to be packed into your luggage…not atop your head. Unless you’re like me and don’t mind looking like an oddball on the plane with 3-7 hats stacked on your head.
  • Pack on the lighter side because if elevators/lifts do not exist in the buildings you are visiting, than it will be quite the task to get those suitcases up to your flat.
  • Walk to the end of a train (not front) because there will be less people, which = less bodies, which = not as hot (if summer).
  • Bring a bluetooth speaker (boombox). #fun
  • Carry a wine opener. But pack it in your luggage not your carry on. (because of the knife that comes with most openers) In case you want to open a bottle on the Eiffel Towers lawn at midnight.
  • Have euros (or the country’s currency) on you at all times. As well as ensure you have a debit card that has an international chip on it, however be wary of the fees. Get an international credit card that doesn’t have international transaction fees. I recommend Chase’s Sapphire card.
  • Bring a swiss army knife – you never know when you will need a tool. Again, put in checked bag – not carry on.
  • Bring hand sanitizer.
  • & Wet wipes! that can be used for all body parts. You never know when a public bathroom won’t have toilet paper. #nightmare
  • “Lo siento” means I’m sorry in Spanish. You’ll need this to apologize for not knowing the language and if you run into people on accident so you don’t come across as a rude tourist.
  • Never book through Vueling airlines out of Spain. It is a nightmare to get checked in. Get to the airport EXTRA early (3 hours) if you do book with them.
  • Know how to ask where the bathroom is in the language of the country you are visiting
  • Keep your cross body bag (recommended) or purse in front of you, not behind you.
  • Just nod to the peddlers – there is an immense amount of people selling items to you in certain areas of Europe.

To be truthful, traveling to Europe was not nearly as daunting as I had originally imagined it to be. Their money is worth a few cents more than ours ($1.00 = €1.17) and lucky for us we have smart phones that can convert on the drop of a dime, literally – and translate for us in a matter of seconds. The metro systems in multiple countries are super easy to use, enjoyable really. #adventure – Adventure is just the mentality you have to go in with and know that if an emergency happens no one’s going to leave you high and dry…you just might have a large medical bill…which leaves me with my last tip! Purchase travel insurance. You’ll feel a whole lot better while traveling.

And that’s all I have for you guys for now! As I begin my life living abroad I will be sure to create another “Tips List” and post at a later time. Feel free to leave any advice you may have in the comments below.

Thanks for following and have a wonderful day!

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