10 Practical Steps For Vacation Planning

If you haven’t noticed yet, I love celebrating unofficial holidays. Like National Handwriting Day or National Vision Board day.

Today is probably my favorite: National Plan Your Vacation Day. It is a day to commit to scheduling time off. Why is this even important? As I planned this post, I thought it might be too superficial.

But taking time off, to recharge is so important for our health. Essentially, taking vacation time should be a time to find rest, see the world from a different perspective, and learn about different cultures. Even if it’s in your own backyard.

I’m not one to over-spiritualize things, but vacation time can be a time to connect with God and hear from Him in a new way. And it can bring deeper connections with your family and friends.

I asked my husband to help me with this post, so shoutout to him! He is the planner and budgeter in our family. I learned a few things myself as I asked him how he plans for vacation.

Here are 10 Practical Steps For Vacation Planning:

1. Plan your vacation at the beginning of the year
At the beginning of the year take inventory of how many days you can take off of work. Literally, count the days and look over your calendar to see where vacation fits best. I found this really cool online tool that helps you plan for each day you have off.

2. Think of who will be going on vacation with you
I’ve never really vacationed alone. I’ve traveled for work alone which can be really nice because I can choose what to do and where to go once I’m off of work. In those cases, I really don’t have to consult with anyone. But when you vacation with others, it’s good to keep in mind other people’s schedules. If it’s really a vacation you want to include others in, coordinate when to take time off together.

3. Write a bucket list
Where do you want to go this year? List all the places. We usually pick 2 small vacations that we can do locally and 1 big vacation. Big to us has meant going on a cruise, taking an extended vacation with family at Disney World, and most recently, going to Hawaii. Not all years look the same. The year we moved to Orlando, we were closing on a house and could not afford to go on a big trip but we did weekend road trips and staycations.

4. Research, research, research
The moment you get an idea of a destination or when you have created your bucket list, start researching hotels, flights (example: when is the best time to book flights for that destination), transportation needs, and things to do in that city. This gives you an idea of the cost and the type of activities you’ll be doing. And if it’s not within your budget or it’s not your ideal destination, at least you already have done some research and can use that for future vacation planning.

5. Envision yourself there
This may seem kinda new age-y. No worries, this is not to help you “escape” from reality. This is meant to gauge what you desire to experience on vacation. Maybe this year you want to feel like you’re going on a retreat so a place where you can relax, sleep in, and take it slow works best. Maybe you want to be more active this year, so you envision yourself hiking or skiing or walking around a big city. I think you get what I mean.

6. Use Google maps
Start looking for specific things to do in the destination of your vacation. Use Google maps to search for what’s around the area: museums, aquariums, theatres, restaurants, parks, historical sites. And if you see something you really want to do, find out the cost. You’ll get a really good idea of what you can do and what fits in the budget.

7. Think of what kind of transportation you’ll need
It’s important to think of what kind of transportation you’ll need and how that will go into the budget. Things to keep in mind: will it be worth renting a car, is Ubering cost-friendly in that city, is public transportation accessible, can a family member lend you their car for a couple days?

8. Make an inventory of all the money and resources you will have for the upcoming year
Write down how much money you can use for the year on vacation. And where that money is coming from. Is it from your paycheck, from your side hustle, from investments, birthday money, additional paychecks or bonuses, weekend jobs? And make note of the dollar amount that it all adds up to.

9. Go back to your research
Look back at your research and bucket list. With all the information you gathered and the inventory of money you created, think of how far your money will take you. Which vacation can you realistically go on? Think about how you’ll allocate each vacation day and what you can do on those days. Will you take a few staycations and 1 big trip or 2 big trips? Last year, we knew we could only afford Hawaii if we reserved most of our resources and time for that trip. We only took road trips for family get-togethers and hosted a family reunion in our home.

10. Make it happen
One of the best parts about vacationing is feeling a sense of accomplishment so really go for it! Truly commit to making it happen. Be disciplined with your savings and reduce everyday costs where you see fit. Something that can help you save monthly is to look at the services you use and ask about deals or discounts. Something that has helped us commit to taking our trips is to look for opportunities to reserve lodging with hotels or rentals that don’t require full payment or a deposit. Cruises, for example, can be paid on a monthly basis, which can help you save and budget easily. Finally, download alllll the apps and look for deals weekly. You’ll be sure to find something that meets your needs and you’ll probably notice trends for future trips.

I hope these steps helped you realize that you CAN and SHOULD take time off. Write that bucket list, stay committed by saving, and remember to coordinate with the people you love vacationing with.

So tell me… where are you planning to visit in 2019?

Choosing A 2019 Word Of The Year

This may seem kind of redundant year after year. But it’s an activity I really enjoy and sets the tone for my year.

If you’re choosing a word for 2019 as I am, I want to encourage you to let go of all the pressure to perform, be perfect, and meet every single goal.

It’s my mission through Styld by Grace to inspire you (and myself) to choose grace over perfection. We work our butts off to do our very best AND we let go of all guilt and shame when we fall short. Because guess what, we are human, we are are not perfect little robots. Remember that in our weakness, God shows off His power (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).

As I started to brainstorm how’d I pick my word of the year, my first step was to ask God to give me clarity and perspective for the coming year. At first, I thought of the word ‘Adventure’ but that just didn’t feel right.

So I decided to do two activities in my journal. The first was sort of like a retrospective of 2018 and a forecast for 2019. The second activity was a list of all the ways I will implement my word of the year.

I started thinking of the thoughts and behaviors that overwhelmed me in 2018. So many times I shied away from things, I became discouraged to pray big prayers, I fell into the mentality that what I’m doing is insignificant.

After thinking and doing these activities, I chose the word ‘BOLD’ as my 2019 word of the year. In 2019 I want to learn to live with boldness and conviction. Bold steps of faith, bold action plans, bold prayers.

Below I have listed tools you can use for these activities yourself. As well as the questions and prompts for both activities.

Tools:
1. A journal
2. Pen, pencils, markers
3. Washi Tape

Activity #1
One Word Questionnaire:
1. What worked for me in 2018?
2. What didn’t work for me in 2018?
3. What would success look like in 2019?
4. Word dump (write down any and all keywords that stand out)
5. One word (choose one word as your word of the year for 2019).

Activity #2
How can I ______ in 2019?:
(Example using my word ‘bold’: “How can I be bold in 2019”?)
1. Definition of the word chosen
2. Categories:
• Relationships
• Finances
• Faith
• Career / Business
• Dreams / Aspirations
• Health & Fitness
• Education
• Fun
Add or remove as many as you’d like.

Simple, right? I’d love to know your word for 2019. Let me know in the comments below and if these activities helped.

Retro – 15 Things You Should Know By 30

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I’M 30, GUYS! “I MADE, IT! I MADE IT, MOMMA!”

Yeah, not really. At least that’s what I thought I’d say by the time I hit 30. But I do feel like I learned A LOT in the last decade (geez, that makes me sound old)!

The other day I was talking to someone who said: “yeah, I wouldn’t talk to like, a 30-YEAR-OLD, about that kinda stuff”. OUCH!

Actually, it’s probably a good idea to talk to someone who’s “been there, done that”, because there’s some pretty good insight and wisdom that can be shared.

So here are my 15 Things You Should Know By 30:
(and if you’re 30+, let me know if you can relate and say “Amen” to any of these)

O N E : If he’s not that into you, doesn’t give you the time of day, if he blows you off, cheats, lies, or in your gut, you have an icky feeling about him, DUMP HIM ASAP. Be a little savage about this. Know you’re worth. God has so much better for you.

T W O : Don’t allow pettiness to create a wedge between you and your friends. Get over the offense. Forgive. Ask for forgiveness. Move forward.

T H R E E : If you’re engaged and planning a wedding, remember that it’s just ONE DAY. Yes, a very important day. But the real stuff starts right after. Prepare your heart, spirit, and mind for marriage, not a wedding. It’s all going to turn out amazing anyway.

F O U R : Open a savings account. Have automatic withdrawals go into it and don’t touch it! I wish I would’ve started saving money the minute I started working. Instead, I spent so much money on shoes. Shoes that don’t fit me anymore. My student loans, though? Those are still around.


Just take the first step. DO IT!


F I V E : Education is so important! I am a first generation college graduate and I’m so dang proud of that. Both of my parents are immigrants and only wanted the best for me. Going to college was not optional for me. Even if you don’t know what degree or with what money you’ll start, just take the first step. DO IT!

S I X : Yes, education is amazing. Having a degree is a great asset. But don’t feel boxed in or forced to use that degree FOREVER. You may want to do something else down the road. THAT’S OKAY. A degree, going to school, is a must. It teaches you so much. But it’s not meant to box you in. It’s meant to open your mind to new and wonderful opportunities. Even if that means not doing the same thing forever.

S E V E N : Comparison will kill you. Stop trying to keep up with others. Just run your dang race. It’s not always greener on the other side. Your life is enough. YOU are enough.

E I G H T : Go to church. I spent the beginning of my 20s trying to get back to church after a few years of completely removing that from my life. I was hurt, disappointed, and felt no desire to go to a place “full of hypocrites”. Guess what, we can all be hypocrites sometimes. I’ve met my best friends and husband at church. Just give it a try.

N I N E : Romantic relationships are hard. Even when you find the best person. So make sure they love and serve Jesus.

T E N : Make sure you love and serve Jesus. Yes, there are so many responsibilities and distractions. But nothing matters more than your relationship with God.

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E L E V E N : Sex. It’s the most amazing thing. It’s a gift from God. But it’s meant for the safe and sacred boundaries that marriage provides. Yes, many will say this is an outdated way of thinking. But I’m alright with that. I believe and take to heart God’s word. AND I know what it feels like to experience heartache and baggage after compromising my beliefs. Take it from me, NOT WORTH IT.

T W E L V E : Don’t chase marriage. Be content and make the most of your single years. GO TRAVEL! When the time is right, if it’s God’s will for you to be wed, it’ll all happen so fast and you’ll realize the striving was so futile.

T H I R T E E N : Again, make the space in your life to travel. Whether that’s overseas, or a town nearby, or on a missions trip. There’s nothing like seeing life through someone else’s perspective.

F O U R T E E N : It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to be disappointed. It’s ok to not have it all together. Allow yourself to grieve your losses in life. Life is hard and contrary to years of misinterpreting God’s word, God never promised us perfect lives. Actually, He never promised to give us every single thing we want. He gave a MUCH better promise. That he would be our reward. That he would NEVER leave us or forsake us. Take heart! He is more than enough.

F I F T E E N : LOVE YOUR BODY. I’m still working on this one. There are so many days that I hate what I see in the mirror. But I’m getting sick of feeling this way. In the past year, I’ve really started to appreciate and love myself right where I’m at. Even if I’m not at the weight I ideally want to be at, I’m thankful that I’m healthy. I’m not going to conform to the standards this world puts on me. Healthy is better than skinny.

B O N U S : Make sure to go to the doctor when something feels off. Trust your gut. And if you have insurance and you’re not sure if a medical procedure is covered, JUST CALL THEM. You never know if you’ve overlooked a benefit.

Not Today, Offense!

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Picking up the phone, sending that text, inviting someone over, letting someone stay the night, listening, being honest, forgiving. Those are things that build relationships.

But offense… Offense is the one things that can destroy and unravel relationships. Offense is no respecter of relationship. Offense can affect our friendships, marriage, workplace, extended family, and even church.

It creates separation and causes us to think the worse of people. It leads us to notice the bad instead of the good. When offense starts to creep in, our thoughts get clouded and soon we feel lonely, isolated, left out, and at it’s worse, entitled.

How about we flip the switch on offense? Let’s stop to think of the last time we took the first step. Or expressed how we truly felt. Or the last time we showed up for others in ways we long for others to show up for us.

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You know, the cure to mend a broken relationship is to say no to offense. To do the opposite of what it’s whispering in our ear. To do the thing that feels least natural to our flesh and most freeing to our soul.

When I’m in the thick of it and my mind is out of control, God’s Spirit intervenes and reminds me to be the peacemaker, the hospitable friend, the listener, the gatherer, the one that’s quick to forgive.

Is there someone that comes to mind while reading this? Do you need to let them off the hook? Do you need to start noticing the good versus the bad? Do you need to let your pride down and make the call? Do you need to show up for them today?

Today I’m saying, “Not today, offense”. I’m saying, “Not today, devil”. Clear mind, open heart, willing spirit. God’s way, not mine.

Download the artwork below, Not Today, and feel free to share on your social media accounts. There are two sizes to choose from, square and vertical. Tag me if you use them, I’d love to see them on your feeds 🙂

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5 Honest Questions And Answers On How To Cultivate Our Friendships

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These are my sisters, Monica and Olga. To me, they’re Mimi and Tata. Not pictured is our crazy/fun big brother, Fernando. Or as we like to call him, Chico. I love the unique friendships I have with each one of them. This post goes out to my #1s: Mimi, Tata, and Chico ❤

Friendships are difficult to nurture and cultivate. In all honesty, the area in my life that I’m constantly thinking about, trying to make better, and evaluating is the area of friendship.

Today, on #NationalBestFriendDay, I’m just going to share questions I’ve had myself (and even googled lol) about friendship and what I believe God’s truth tells us about them. Alrighty, here it goes…

1. Should I “break up” with a toxic friend?

I guess it depends what we consider toxic. Personally, I believe someone is toxic when they steer you in the wrong direction. When you feel like you have to compromise who you are around them. I also believe toxic friends are people considered “frienemies”. Also known as people who act nice but behind closed doors hurt their friends (gossip, slander, rival, covet, envy, etc) or use them for selfish ambition (See James 3:16).

I’ve come to the conclusion, that YES, I should break up with these people. If they lead me away from Jesus, if I feel comfortable doing the wrong stuff around them, if there’s clear indication that they’re envious or deceitful, then it’s time to “break up”.

When I think of what Jesus came to earth to give us–freedom, abundance, life–none of the above things equal that.

Which leads perfectly to…

2. How do I deal with comparison, competition, and jealousy amongst my friends?

Keeping the last question in mind, sometimes they’re just going through their own struggles in life. We live in a world that tells us we need to keep up, we need to be better, we need to have it all.

I’ve come to terms with the reality that only God knows people’s true intentions. So if I’m on the receiving end of comparison or competition or jealousy and this person is a good friend and is simply going through a personal struggle, I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I will try to find out what’s going on in their life. I won’t make assumptions.

And if I’m the one feeling all these ugly emotions, I will work diligently to repent, give them up to God and ask Him to help me celebrate my friends. I will ask for His joy. I will ask Him to protect my heart and friendships. I learned this important lesson from our struggle with infertility and seeing loads of my friends become moms. Believing that God will work ALL things together for my good (see Romans 8:28), has helped me understand that who I am, what I have, and what I do, right at this moment, is enough.

3. Friends, best friends, close friends, what is the difference?! And why is it such a big deal?

I think we’re called to love everyone. No, we won’t have intimate relationships with everyone. And some relationships change with time. I truly want to avoid putting people in categories. I do it all the time and it’s just not healthy. If you’re my friend and I’m yours there’s no further validation needed. I will be there for you. I will love you. I will be there for the good and bad. We’re called to love our neighbor. Regardless of how close or not we are to them. (See John 13:34).

4. Why is this person pushing me away?

I’ve noticed that the people I push away or avoid are always the people that bring the most wisdom and value to my life. They are the ones that give me tough love. They are the people who give it to me how it is. They are the people who aren’t afraid to call me out and stretch me.

Why are we so weird? I heard this great line in a movie the other day. The lead character said, “when you see certain people, you just can’t pretend anymore. Because they know you. The real you. And maybe that’s why you avoided seeing them for so long”.

I’ve totally been there. And I’ve also been the neglected friend. Both sides suck. And can really damage a relationship. BUT, it’s never too late to make things right. As children of God, we are called to be reconcilers. Not grudge keepers. (See Ephesians 4:32. Also here’s a great passage to determine HOW to do reconcile the right way: Matthew 18: 15-17).

5. Why am I being rejected and left out?

When this thought pops into my head, I’ll be honest, I’ll let it linger and linger and linger. But every time I bring this to God he reminds me that those thoughts are lies. I am NOT rejected or left out. He has already picked me, made me worthy, accepted me, and I am loved by Him (See Ephesians 1:4-6).

In bringing this to God, I usually feel the Holy Spirit ask me why I so desperately need to be accepted and recognized by people? It’s good to feel loved and known by others. But it shouldn’t be something we depend on.

We won’t always be friends with the people we think we “should” be friends with. We won’t always be accepted by people. We won’t always “mesh” with the group of people we long to connect with. But we can rest assured that God knows who we need in our lives. And He is directing our steps towards the right people (See Proverbs 16:9).

Well, that’s all for now

That was a lot, actually. And if you got to this point, THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading all of it. And I hope you’re encouraged. And since today is #nationalbestfriendday, why don’t you send this to ALL your friends. Or simply let them know you care.

P.S. Go to my Instagram Story today and enjoy some free sharable templates I created. I’ll also add them to my highlights just in case you miss them. They’re meant for you and your friends to connect and have fun together. ENJOY 🙂