Hotel Hopping: Back To School and Staycation September Specials at The Diplomat Beach Resort

Culture, Editor's Journal, Lifestyle

Image courtesy of Diplomat Resort

By: Aurora Dominguez

 

Summer is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. In fact, you deserve to enjoy what’s left of it.

 

Image courtesy of Aurora Dominguez

Recently, this teacher and journalist had a chance to experience The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida. And, I must admit, it was one of the highlights of my summer.

 

Image courtesy of the Diplomat Resort

From fresh-prepared cocktails at the Hotel Bar, to perfectly prepared sushi rolls at Monkital, breakfast at Point Royal and even a poolside day by a cabana and signature facial at the resort’s Spa, all of these experiences can be your right in time for back-to-school or even for a quick weekend Staycation.

 

Image courtesy of Diplomat Resort

Conveniently located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood Florida is a safe haven of relaxation. Once inside, you’ll be enveloped by a soothing environment, exceptional service and huge rooms full of enough space for you to chill and enjoy the sounds and views of the ocean from your very own balcony. I actually did some back-to-school prep from the balcony and sent some e-mails while enjoying the gorgeous view, so if you are a couple looking for a unique getaway or a teacher needing that last hurrah before summer ends, this hotel has it all.

 

In September 2019, the “Style Saves Back to School Splash Sale” & “Weekend Staycations include $149 a night stays at the resort. Yes, you read that right. What are you waiting for? It’s time to treat yourself. You can thank us over here at Worthy Magazine later for encouraging you to relax, rest and rejuvenate in one of the best resorts that South Florida has to offer where you can dine, lay-back and play!

 

 

The Diplomat Beach Resort is located at 3555 Ocean Drive, Hollywood, FL. For more information, visit www.diplomatresort.com. 

 

Are you a Maverick? A Dreamer? Find your financial personality

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When it comes to managing your finances, are you more likely to be spontaneous and optimistic or stick to a formal plan? Understanding your financial personality can be important on the journey to reaching your financial goals, whether it’s something short-term like buying a home or longer term like your dream retirement. For some of us it’s simply about finding a better balance between spending and saving.

According to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Quiz, designed to help people get a better grasp on their saving, spending and investing habits, about 43 percent of Americans are “Dreamers” when it comes to their finances — they tend to live in the moment but can also feel unprepared for certain life events.

Only 10 percent are considered financial “Architects” — they not only imagine the future but take pen to paper and map out a plan to make it a reality. Other personality types, according to the quiz, are Improvisers (18 percent), Organizers (11 percent), Mavericks (10 percent) and Philosophers (8 percent).

Here are some key themes the quiz explores to determine your money personality and provide tips to help you achieve your goals:

1) Is juggling your monthly bills a breeze or a tornado?

Half of Americans say they’re able to pay their monthly bills on time and even put money into savings regularly, according to Schwab’s 2019 Modern Wealth Survey, but a third of Americans say they typically don’t have any extra cash to put into savings after their basic expenses. The remainder say they even struggle to pay those expected monthly bills and often end up with unpaid balances.

Terri Kallsen, CFP®, head of Schwab Investor Services, said that automatically depositing part of your income into a savings account each month can help make it a habit.

“Our survey shows about 40 percent of Americans set up an automatic transfer into their savings or investment accounts each month,” she said. “That way, they don’t have to make a decision to ‘spend or save’ each month — they’ve already made it.”

2) Do you set goals or go with the flow?

While most Americans say they’ve thought about their financial goals, only 28 percent have taken the time to put their goals in writing, the survey shows. Another 25 percent say they don’t have any plan at all.

“Planning can be a key indicator of your money personality, because how much you engage with your finances is often closely tied to how confident you feel about reaching your goals,” Kallsen said.

3) Are you an engaged investor or a sideline saver?

Most Americans have a traditional checking and savings account, according to the survey, but only about half have some kind of investing account.

“Savings accounts are often seen as a safe place to put your money, but to keep up with inflation and the rising cost of living, it’s also critical to invest,” Kallsen said. “The sooner you start investing, the longer your money has time to gain from rises in the market and the power of compounding and to recover from any downturns.”

Once you’re invested, it’s important to stay engaged to stay on track. Keep an eye on your investment fees and make sure to rebalance about once a year, added Kallsen.

Take Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Quiz and learn more about your money personality and tips and tricks to help reach your financial goals.

Noteworthy Sound: Hoy Polloy

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The Hoy Polloy Band Photo

With a name that literally translates to “the masses” Hoy Polloy’s desire to truly reach all kinds of people seems to be the easiest way to describe the group’s core identity. As a group that infuses rock, hip hop and soul, they have fine-tuned the science of making sure every performance is different from the last making it difficult to possibly ever get bored with the group’s sound. In a recent Q&A with Worthy Magazine, The group’s lead singer  K SOS discussed the group’s latest upcoming album and the signature sound. 

I know the group is passionate about a well-rounded performance. How would you describe the standard Hoy Polloy performance?

First off, every Hoy Polloy show is different. We have never repeated a setlist in over 200 shows, and if you don’t believe us, each show is logged on our website so that people can go back and see what songs they heard the night they saw us. When we open for a more genre-specific artist we curtail our set to be more in the genre that particular artist performs in, however when we are booked to do shows on our own we do a cross between Rock and Hip Hop with sprinkles of Jazz, Dance, and other musical tones. Before you know it, you may even be lost in a 7-minute cover of Van Morrison’s “Madame George.”

 

What is the group dynamic like? What do you love about being in a group? What is the hardest part?

A band is like a relationship without the sexual component. Everyone brings a unique personality to the table. Some personalities are loud; some are quiet. Some are pushy, while some are submissive. Too much of any can tip the scales of balance either way. Like a relationship, it’s something you always got to work at to make sure you and your bandmates are on the same page. It is amazing what you can create on your own, but it is even more amazing when individuals come together and make something collectively. The chemistry between players is so important, and sometimes a bandmate is right for a certain era, but you all grow apart overtime on ideas of sound and vision, and that is ok too. This band has had 11 members, with only Francisco Padilla, the bands talented and humble keys player carrying the dream with frontman, K Sos, the whole way. Most of all, understanding your brand is a living organism is essential to succeeding and keeping the music at the forefront of what’s important is vital to evolving and staying engaged in what you are doing.

 

What are some of the greatest obstacles that you have had to overcome either personally or professionally?

Personally, is another conversation, although I will say what you go through in your personal life does shape the music you make it so many ways. I have dealt with a lot of loss, personal changes, and heartbreak, and it surely presents itself in the music in different ways. Professionally you have to acknowledge at the end of it all you’re selling a product, sometimes you get to play for 1,000 people, and sometimes it seems like you’re playing to a wall. It is the tough moments where you have to keep your vision clear and persevere to the next gig, and the next opportunity to share what you do. That is why loving what you do is especially important in the arts. There is a lot more let down than moments of success, but if you can internalize the hardships and move through them then the success become much sweeter, and you can share them with the people that helped get you there which is the best part of all.

 

What details can you share about Valkyrie? What can your listeners expect?  Do you already have a favorite song from the album why or why not?

Valkyrie is our latest hip hop effort due out this fall with awesome collaborations from Jadakiss, AZ, Les Nubians, Scotty ATL, as well as a slew of amazing local talent, some of which we have worked with for years. The awesome thing about making an album is a favorite doesn’t always appear early; sometimes the track that moves you the most comes alive towards the end. There are also a lot of different moods on this album, so once again depending on how your feeling you may want to listen to different songs. It’s an exciting record, one that I hope people will take the time to explore all the way through.

Feeling overwhelmed? 5 tips to make time for self-care

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Ever feel like the days just get away from you, and you don’t have time to do the things you need to do, much less want to do? Often wish you could just spend your evenings or weekends on your personal goals, practicing self-care or just relaxing? There are many ways you can take control of your time and take better care of yourself. Sometimes it’s a question of prioritizing what you want to do — and outsourcing the rest.

Simplify meal prep and cooking. Unless cooking is enjoyable and relaxing for you, chances are you get home from work stressed and hungry — and tired of takeout. Fortunately, there are dozens of options for letting yourself off the hook when it comes to cooking from scratch without sacrificing good, healthy meals. Today many plans exist for ordering pre-packaged ingredients and recipes in a manageable form for you to prepare at home, with minimum fuss. Not only are they delicious, but you can find services that cater to particular health plans or your specific dietary needs.

Get help with pet care. Unless you have kids old enough to take care of Fido, or you enjoy taking him for his walks, it’s easy to find pet care services, or even a reliable neighborhood teenager, to help walk the dog or check on the cat, particularly if you work long hours or travel for work. Doggy day care services, boarding and grooming experts also help lift some of the burden of caring for your furry friends.

Outsource house cleaning. While we all wish we had beautifully organized, clean homes, it’s almost impossible to do everything we’d like to keep our houses in great shape. Merry Maids offers a variety of cleaning services that allow you to choose which tasks or rooms you most need help with. Merry Maids home cleaning services are available weekly, every other week, monthly or one-time, so you can pick the service that best suits your lifestyle. On every visit, the team from your local Merry Maids franchise dusts, vacuums, washes and sanitizes each room. Imagine the hours of reclaimed time and peace of mind you’ll have, knowing you’re coming home to a beautifully clean home every night.

Prioritize health and exercise. You try your best to exercise, so why not give yourself the most help you can to meet your wellness goals, and a reward when you achieve them? Hiring a personal trainer or signing up for a class that will inspire you to keep up your fitness level is an investment in yourself that will pay dividends in your future, and make you feel great right now. Whether it’s Zumba, spin class, yoga or Pilates, any activity that helps you build strength, flexibility and fitness is worth the cost. Then be sure to treat yourself with an occasional massage, sauna or spa visit — whatever helps you relax and feel good.

Take a time-out. When you are able, plan your next vacation for a location that will be fun and relaxing. If a long vacation is not in the cards, plan a mini-break, even just for a weekend, to get away from the daily routine and let you focus on yourself, your significant other or your family. Something as simple as spending a night in a local hotel — with as many amenities as you can enjoy — will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. You’ve earned it.

The next time you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, choose to outsource those tasks that can take over your life, and give yourself the best gift — the gift of time.

Big taste in half the space: Tips to garden great in small areas

Culture, Editor's Journal, Featured

When it comes to cooking and eating the freshest vegetables and herbs, we recommend growing your own. Make the most of your harvest this year by selecting plants that will thrive in your space. Container gardening is a great option, perfect for those who want to plant on patio or deck spaces. You can use containers to grow favorite herbs and vegetables, so you can harvest fresh flavors right outside your door.

Whether you have a condo patio, a high-rise rooftop, a quaint sunny corner of your yard or even a window box, the experts at Burpee Plants know anyone can be a successful gardener no matter their level of experience or space available. Here are top suggestions for plants perfect for small spaces that bring the performance and flavor:

Confetti Pepper: Petite peppers pack a lot of punch in a little 2-ounce size that can be eaten fresh at any stage, from green to ruby red. The eye-catching leaves are beautiful, too. Kids especially enjoy watching the fruit change colors over time and snacking on the bountiful harvest.

Atlas Tomato: If you want a big slicing tomato for sandwiches or a stacked caprese salad, the Atlas Tomato is for you. This container-friendly beefsteak tomato is disease resistant, which means healthy plants all season, and features impressive, extra-large tomatoes that are as fun to grow as they are to eat.

Jungle Parrot Pepper: Named for its adorable, beak-like shape, this pepper is perfect for patio containers. It ripens to a beautiful, rich red that adds a pop of color to your space. Enjoy this sweet and delicious pepper fresh from the vine, displayed as a table centerpiece, sliced for a sauté or as stuffed appetizers.

Merry Mint Fresh Flavors Herbs: Add healthy flavor to all types of cooking by planting your own herbs. Merry Mint and other favorite flavors can be snipped as needed for salads, marinades, garnishing and more. From parsley and basil to sage and thyme, herbs are easy to care for — both indoors and outdoors — and easily expand your recipe possibilities.

Discover more garden inspiration, DIY projects and new recipes, like this Fauxjito, by visiting burpeehomegardens.com:

The Fauxjito

Ingredients: Merry Mint from your herb garden, Still water, Sparkling water, Glass carafe

Directions: Chop and muddle a few sprigs of Merry Mint and add to the carafe. Next, fill carafe full with one-third still water and then two-thirds sparkling water. Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Simple ways to curb carbs when eating on the go

Culture, Featured

Whether you are trying to reduce carbs or eat more protein, eating well on the go can be a challenge.

Quality carbohydrates like whole-grain breads, milk, yogurt, fruits and legumes are an important part of a balanced diet, especially for children and teens. For adults, reducing the amount of empty carbs you eat can be a great way to meet your personal wellness goals. It’s important to replace those carbs with lean meats, healthy fats and nutrient-dense vegetables.

Here are a few simple suggestions to eat on the go while still following your current diet.

Keto-style

A ketogenic diet, also known as keto, is a popular diet that balances protein, fat and carbs roughly in the following breakdown:

* 10 percent or less of their calories from carbs

* 70 to 80 percent of their calories from fat

* 10 to 20 percent of their calories from protein

One good way to follow a ketogenic diet is with a salad starting with a lean meat such as rotisserie-style chicken, turkey breast, steak or roast beef. Add in some veggies like lettuce, spinach and onions. Then top it all off with a dressing that has less than 2 grams of carbs like ranch, savory Caesar, oil and vinegar or Chipotle Southwest.

Carb-conscious

If keto sounds too ambitious for you, there are other simple ways to reduce carbs in your diet, like asking for a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich. You can make any Subway sandwich into a nutritious salad with five servings of veggies.

Visit subway.com and use the nutrition chart to see how your favorite salad stacks up, or try these favorites:

* “Spicy” Steak Salad: Order a steak salad with your favorite veggies plus jalapenos, shredded Monterey Cheddar and Chipotle Southwest sauce. This has 380 calories, 17 grams of carbs and 21 grams of protein.

* “Cobb-style” Oven Roasted Chicken Salad: Try a salad with oven roasted chicken, guacamole, your favorite veggies and top it off with ranch dressing. This has 420 calories, 20 grams of carbs and 21 grams of protein. You could also add a strip of bacon for an additional 35 calories.

If you’re in the mood for a sub but would like to cut down on carbs, you can always ask to have your bread scooped out.

Quality carbs

Trying to improve the overall nutrition quality in your diet, but don’t want to cut carbs? Try these easy swaps:

* Swap white bread for wheat. Select whole grain-certified 9-Grain Wheat

* Swap sweet sauce for savory. Try mustard, oil and vinegar or mayo

* Swap sweet drinks for water. Choose bottled water or unsweetened fountain drinks

Worthy Approved High Porosity Curly Hair Favorites

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I am a high porosity colored girl who watches YouTube hair videos of other colored girls who are ALL low porosity. I recently stumbled upon two YouTubers who are not low porosity. So there is hope for me yet. So I felt like it would be cool to create some content for the few and still proud. 

 Just for the sake of clarity, high porosity is a term used to describe porous hair. Just think of open pores that never close. So we accept moisture easily but we typically don’t keep our moisture. There are a lot of spells that allow you to check your hair’s porosity. The one that worked for me was just taking a strand of my hair when it was clean and dry and cupping that one strand between my fingers and sliding my fingers up the shaft of my hair. If you try this approach, and you feel little bumps on your hair strand, you have high porosity hair. My hair felt like brail when I did this test. 

I wanted to share my favorite products for a while but I also wanted to make sure I spent enough time using them before recommending anything. So it’s been almost about six months to a year of using most of what made it onto my short list with the exception of two products which I have been using for a few months. I am ok with them being on the list because I am getting more familiar with my hair and knowing what it responds to well enough to know that I will keep using them. 

The day one 

Shea Moisture Curling Gel Soufflé– This product is hit or miss for most people. Most people complain that it leaves a sticky residue. And that it just doesn’t make sense to them and their wash and go. I don’t know how they are incorporating it but for me, this is honestly the only gel that allows my hair to stay moisturized. It’s the first product I used in my first wash and go attempt and it’s the only product that I have kept in rotation and repurchased many times. I have tried a good amount of gels and in the end when I leave this product out of my routine I end up having to add it in the very next day because my hair has dried out. My high porosity hair means that my porous hair accepts moisture easily and loses it even easier. So I can use this gel after a leave in for a two product wash and go which will last 4 -5 days or if I’m going for a longer lasting combo (7 days plus) I can add the gel sparingly as the final step over another gel (I always start with a leave in) My main advice is that this product should be used on soaking wet hair. 

For a longer lasting wash and go, I use Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink gel after my leave in. Then I go over the gel with my curling gel souffle from Shea Moisture. I would say it’s my favorite combo. I don’t do it as often only because I am exercising daily and the Pure Barre studio don’t deserve my best wash and go combo. 

Eden Body Works Marshmallow Hydration Serum

In the world of YouTube I would’ve never thought a serum should be in a wash and go routine. Most hair gurus swear by a cream leave-in which honestly don’t do much for my hair. Gotta thank one of my YouTube faves Lydia Tefera for her video testing out this serum because it was a game changer for my wash and go routine and I have been using it for close to year now. I use the hydration serum as my first step in my wash and go (leave in). I also use it to refresh my hair if day 4 creeps up on me and I’m not ready for wash day. It really provides lasting hydration. It smells great and like curling soufflé it has a watery consistency but it’s not as sticky. I would still say use on soaking wet hair. 


Pantene Rescue Shots

Admittedly good marketing made me try this product and an anxiety about not learning how to trim my ends made me feel like 5 bucks for three small treatments was a fair trade. I would say you can get about three uses out of each tiny tube. The treatment is applied from the middle of your hair strands to the tips. So I have been using this treatment for over a month now and each time I get comments on how my hair looks darker and healthier. I really love it especially on my shampoo days. I have been trying a few different approaches to shampooing in an attempt to retain moisture while getting a decent cleanse. Even if I use a shampoo that feels like it has taken too much of my moisture these shots feel like they bring the moisture right back. And they smell so luxurious. I already repurchased. 

Mane Choice Prickly Pear Over Night Mask and Foam Shampoo

These two products are my current routine. I have washed my hair four times with this routine which is just a little close to a month for me. I love these products because it feels like they support my laziness. I put the mask in overnight. I shampoo the next day and I follow up with my rescue shot and my hair looks like someone cares about it. 

When I am not being lazy my absolute favorite deep conditioner is by Obia Naturals it’s their Babassu Deep Conditioner. It is so moisturizing. My hair drinks it up every time. My curls look curlier just from applying. Sometimes I don’t even want to wash it out. It’s said to have super clean ingredients and is PH balanced. 

For the even lazier days, I swear by Garnier’s One Minute Mask. It has about three different uses. It can be a leave in, conditioner or a hair mask. I have used the masks all three ways. I enjoy it the most as a leave in detangler and a hair mask. I purchase the sample sizes. They are great for travel and priced well depending on where you go. 

Grow it girl Growth Spray  

Imagine me in Urban Outfitters…….. I can’t lie that pricy “Hipsters R Us” has got me. One product that they carry I actually purchased online from the product site first. I have since repurchased at Urban Outfitters because me waiting on a delivery is comparable to a child waiting for Santa the night before Christmas. I check my emails in one hour intervals. I reach at phantom objects in my mail box. It’s just not emotionally healthy. I lack patience. 

About the product  

I love this product for the way it feels on my scalp. It feels like it means to help. Admittedly anything with Peppermint will feel that way. This spray has peppermint, rosemary and aloe in it as well. I spray it on while my hair is wet and clean and I feel like I smell like I have just been to a spa that means business and uses local natural products. Has my hair grown? I feel like it has. But I also am learning washing it pretty often really helps with moisture retention which also helps with retaining hair length. 

All of my faves (except the one minute mask and growth spray.)  are on my list in my Amazon Store Front 

 

-Ju’lia Samuels

Easy DIY projects to refresh your home decor

Featured, News

When you look at your favorite interior spaces, are you craving a refresh? If your home decor is dated, drab or you’re just bored with it, an update is in order.

Fortunately, you don’t need to hire an expensive interior designer or completely redo rooms. With a few key DIY projects, you can easily give each room a facelift without spending a lot of money. Better yet, this gives you the opportunity to personalize your decor so it’s one of a kind and truly reflects who you are.

Whether you’re a savvy DIYer or just have always wanted to personalize your own projects, consider these simple home decor ideas i to update your home and bring new life to your favorite spaces:

Adorable umbrella wreath

Add cheer to your front door or anywhere in your house with a homemade wreath that can be constructed in minutes. Use an umbrella as the base of the wreath. Purchase a new one in a bright hue or use one from around your home. You’ll want one with a hooked handle, as that will be how you hang this special wreath. Turn upside-down and open slightly. Then tuck into the top opening silk flowers of your choice that you can find at your local dollar or craft store. Tie the middle of the umbrella with a bow to secure flowers in place and allow the umbrella to be hung securely. Then, simply use the handle to hang on your front door’s wreath hook or anywhere else in your home where you desire to add seasonal color.

Pineapple paper vases

Think outside the box when deciding on materials to use for your project. While vases are often made out of glass or porcelain, how fun would it be to update your space with paper vases? Opportunities are limitless with the Cricut Maker(TM) that allows you to cut hundreds of materials quickly and accurately, from the most delicate paper and fabric to chipboard and leather. Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality and are an ideal design for warm-weather months. You can use the Cricut Scoring Wheel to create stunning geometric Paper Pineapple Vases (pictured) in a variety of sizes from 3- to 10-inches tall. Add silk flowers (or make your own!) to these vases for a splash of color in any room, from the vanity in the bathroom to the kitchen table.

Personalized accent pillows

Decorative pillows add pops of color to couches, chairs and other furniture. New pillows can be costly, so consider updating the ones you have with iron-on appliques that you create yourself. Use the Cricut Maker to cut words, silhouettes and other fun designs with Cricut’s Everyday Iron-on(TM), which comes with a StrongBond guarantee so you can enjoy it wash after wash. After cutting your designs, weed the iron-on and apply using the Cricut EasyPress(TM), which provides professional results in 60 seconds or less without the guesswork of timing or temperature settings. What designs are trending this year? Mandala designs are great for a variety of home aesthetics, and words and phrases are always popular and can be completely personalized.

Heartfelt wooden signs

Rustic chic is a top design style, and wooden signs are a perfect example of this trend. Wooden boards personalized with meaningful sayings, monograms and other custom elements are popular, but you won’t have to pay an artist to create one for you. Instead, go to your local craft store and buy an affordable board in the shape of your choice. To save money, go through scrap lumber you might have and sand a piece to prepare it for paint. Start by creating an outline of what you want to paint using a pencil, so it can easily be painted over or erased. If you’re not good at freehand designs, use a stencil to create your preferred design. A popular design is to write out your last name and then under it put an establish date. For example: “Nelson” followed by “est. 2005”.

These simple home decor projects will get the creative juices flowing and help you refresh your home and personalize your spaces. With fresh color, fun designs and personalized elements, you’ll enjoy these one-of-a-kind decorations for many years to come.

Working While Feeling Broken

Culture, Editor's Journal, Featured

I have decided to keep a simple promise to myself. To sit down at my computer and reclaim my love for writing. My love for it started out of such a simple belief that I liked it and that I had something to say. That was all it took to pledge my allegiance to a craft that has since become a fixture in my constant battle with “imposter syndrome.”
The more I liked it, the more I wanted to be great at it. The louder you declare yourself a writer, I quickly learned, the more people will come out of nowhere to critique it. I think the most annoying thing I have observed strictly speaking from my own experience is the readiness people have to accept that someone is a writer when they are not a person of color. 
But when a person of color says that they do anything in a professional capacity there is an instant request for their credentials and a readiness to critique their work. That has mainly been my experience. I am not speaking for the entire community. I am speaking of my experiences and my observations. I have been reciting my resume since high school. 
I have been critiqued since high school. And I learned pretty early on that it is an insanely subjective trade. My means of survival through college was to write to the interests of whoever was critiquing my work. It worked for a little while. But eventually my desire to grow as a writer became difficult to ignore. I mean I am going into debt here. I might as well try to experiment and learn while there is no obligation to taking care of a family or (student loans). I wanted to do more than parrot revisions of established opinions that were being taught to me. I did want to be able to tell the stories of others.
But I wanted to expand my voice as well. I can honestly say that my skin was not thick enough for the critiques that I knew would follow committing to such a venture. Nevertheless, I tried it anyway. I graduated by the skin of my teeth. Ego bruised, confidence non-existent and in the kind debt that inspires panic attacks that feel eerily similar to my asthma attacks. My final lab professor (reporting class) looked at me one evening during her office hours and said words that I am just accepting now (to quote the Queen of the North, “I’m a slow learner. But I learn”).

“Ju’lia, it feels like you are defeated. It even shows in your body language. You shrink up when we discuss your writing.”

In that moment, I became cripplingly loyal to being defeated. I would eventually believe that I was broken. 

You hear so many stories about people who lost so much of their lives building up a dream that never happened. That at some point they had to walk away and painfully start over. Most of the times it enables them to accept the very things that they use to passionately reject. I spent years wondering if that was my intended journey. Why couldn’t I go with a practical major? Why didn’t I have the mind for engineering or science? 
If you actually read all of this, I respect you. And I am guessing you are wondering how I worked with this energy while creating Worthy Magazine. My answer is cheesy. I hate typing sentences like this. I always question the authenticity of these words whenever I see them or read them. But my discomfort and distrust of these next few statements can’t make them less true. These are cheesy facts.
Every issue of Worthy was just as much for me as it was for my desired readers. I needed those messages. I needed to write some of those words. But I still found myself trying to create content that I thought people would read. I was still trying to tell the stories of others while not even believing in my ability to do so. It took me years to realize that I stopped writing for me even in the most intimate sense.
What I liked about writing all those years ago was the freedom to get out what I needed to say. I lost it in the pursuit of being a “gatekeeper of history,” which is a popular journalist mantra. And then I let the critiques on my ability to do that corrupt and convert my passion into fear. I became voiceless, by CHOICE. I think it is important to say that it was a choice because I still had critiques that spoke favorably of my ability to write. I realize now that there were honestly just as many positive critiques as negative critiques. But I have no problem admitting that my mind has always had a unique ability to absorb the negative much easier than anything positive. 
I hate that my intro to starting something new has to be buried so close to the end of a growing text but to sum everything up that I am trying to say, I am now creating as a release and a way to reclaim my voice. I can’t say that I will be doing this with confidence. I am still insecure. I still see myself as broken. I can still quote verbatim some college critiques that surpassed reviewing my work at the time and tried to predict my professional future. So I can’t say that everything will be flawlessly executed. I do hope I get to see that day though. What I am certain of is that there is a place for my voice. And if the things I create never mean anything to anyone else, they will mean something to me much like this piece that I am writing and sharing. 

I am currently working while feeling broken and while my anxiety originally flourished in such a space, and after years of being afraid to move and too sick to create, I have realized what most people who break and don’t die realize, which is that my obstacles forced me to adjust just to endure them, which forced me to evolve. 

I have never been more effective in knowing how to take care of myself and understanding the NEED to do so. I have never been more calm when telling someone, ‘No’. I have NEVER been more at peace with not taking a call. I have never been more kind to myself. So while some people would think it is a terrible thing to admit to, I would say the fear of speaking about it betrays a lack of understanding of what it means to be broken and how it can inspire change if you let it. I would accept that claiming brokenness while not trying to change could be bad thing. But transparency and vulnerability have taken on a powerful meaning to me. 
And I can assure you that this isn’t a selfish “creative” declaration about creating for myself exclusively. I know that I will still have to write pieces that are not strictly just for my own interests. This is a declaration about returning to a practice that I abandoned years ago. This is about working on my confidence. And getting back to loving something that means so much to me. And while my skin is getting a little itchy ( I scratch when I am nervous) as I write this long promise to myself, I have a small glimmer of hope about the success of this commitment. I have found that the things I did with a casual attitude and a sincere interest have always ended up getting more interaction from people who I wouldn’t even guess were paying attention.

So if you were looking for an unexpected but direct sign that your interests matter and that your efforts are seen, you can take this as your confirmation. We never know who is listening, watching or reading. You never know who references you as motivation. Keep going predominantly for your own sake. 

But get acquainted with the fact that there is real intention behind your existence and your creative contribution to the space that you occupy. 
– Ju’lia Samuels

Tips for eating healthier this summer

Editor's Journal, Editorial, Featured, News

Summer is possibly the easiest time to stick to a healthier lifestyle. It’s warm outside so we’re more likely to be active, plus there’s plenty of good, fresh produce available. With the recent focus on organic ingredients and the farm-to-table approach, home cooks and anyone interested in a healthier lifestyle are looking for ways to boost their health through better food choices.

Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to eat healthier.

Grow your own vegetables, fruits or herbs

Summer is a great time to get into gardening. Even if you don’t have much of a yard or a lot of time, you can grow just one vegetable, or even herbs like basil or oregano, in a planter, indoors or out. Some neighborhoods even have communal garden spaces available. Plenty of fruits and vegetables are not that difficult to grow, depending on where you live, from berries and melons to lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and beans. Whatever you decide to grow, you’ll feel good knowing exactly where your food came from.

Use farmer’s markets and community-supported agriculture

You can support your local, organic farmers by shopping at farmer’s markets or signing up for community-supported agriculture (CSA) in your area. The benefit to you is that the quality of the produce will be high, and you’ll have access to all kinds of fresh, organic ingredients for your cooking.

Shop organic

Buy your cooking ingredients from companies certified as organic by the leading third-party organic certifier, Quality Assurance International (QAI). For example, Simply Organic offers a wide variety of delicious organic spices, seasonings, sauces, cooking mixes and packets for making marinades and dips that are all certified organic products.

Cook healthier

When you’re preparing meals, using fresh, organic ingredients means that you’re providing the best quality, healthful food for yourself and your family. Cooking food with plenty of nutritional content, like high-quality proteins, fresh vegetables, fruit and legumes, along with organic spices and flavorings, will ensure that every meal you make contributes to the overall health of your family. Look for recipes that are not only delicious, but that use lots of nutrition-packed ingredients.

Try making these Spicy Guacamole Stuffed Potato Skins for your next party.

1/2 teaspoon Simply Organic Black Pepper Medium Grind
Simply Organic Spicy Guacamole Mix Sauce 4.0 fl. oz.
8 medium-sized yellow potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash potatoes to remove dirt from skins. Cut potatoes in half. Using a melon baller or small cookie scoop, remove center flesh from potatoes.
Place potato halves on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and rub oil over flesh and skin of each one. Sprinkle with salt, coating the flesh and skins. Sprinkle on pepper.
Bake, flesh-side down, for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
In a medium bowl, mash avocados. Add guacamole mix sauce and stir to combine.
Let potatoes cool for 5 minutes, then fill each skin with guacamole (about 1 teaspoon per potato). Top with tomatoes, sour cream, green onions and cilantro (if desired). Serve warm. Makes 16 servings.

Whether by growing some of your own food or becoming more selective about the sources of your food, everything you cook and eat will be more nutritious. By putting extra thought into the quality of ingredients you use in your cooking, you can ensure that you and your family will be eating healthier not just this summer, but throughout the year.