Before you board...
Short disclaimer: I am no cruise guru. However, I have a hand full or so cruise vacations in the books! Therefore, here I'll share just a few tidbits. At this point, you have booked your cruise and ready to get to the port.
Travel: If you reside in the city where you will port from, you can possibly skip away from this portion. All others, my suggestion to you... if flying, fly in a day before. Yet, if you happen to be flying in that day... many cruise lines will offer shuttle services (at a fee) from major airports to the port. Nonetheless, just to give yourself time to arrive in the City and not feel rushed with airport traffic, delays and that sort. Try to land lodging (hotel or airbnb) close the cruise line to minimize the distance of travel before boarding.
Parking: If you are driving to the cruise line, they offer daily parking at the port. It's fenced in. As always, never leave items visible in the vehicle. Check your cruise line official website for parking fees.
Cash vs. Card: In my opinion, travel with both! Once you pay for your cruise... truly there is nothing more you HAVE TO SPEND. However, it is highly suggested that you tip the staff. Trust, the staff puts in work... just so you can live the life of the rich and famous even if it's for just a few days! Also, when you port (meaning: get off the ship to visit the island) having cash is more ideal for your shopping. Though, make sure either means of money is in a safe place on your personal. Like in the states, paying with a card can come with extra fees. PLUS: In the event you are mistakenly charged for something... issuing a claim via your bank can be a racket. On the same token, most cruise lines offer a seapass (see your cruise line official website for further). With this pass, it covers your additional cruise expenses such as fine dining, stores, the "Bahama Mamas", casino, internet use and the sort while on the boat. The seapass in most cases have to be linked to a debit or credit. Therefore, you have the leisure to leave your suite without carrying your wallet. If you desire to track your spending on the boat, visit the customer service desk. At that time, you are free to dispute a charge, add money, get change, pay your balance from another form of payment or the like. Oh, before I forget... it's a ATM on the cruise ship. Personally, using that one beats using one at the porting location.
PSA: Prior to your trip, contact your financial provider to let them know you are traveling out of the country. Therefore, they won't think it's suspicious charges and decline a purchase.
Tipping the Staff: Many cruise lines suggest that you tip what they recommend and via your seapass. Follow at your discretion. The final night on the ship if not before they will disclose their suggested tip amount. You will only understand this when you witness how hard they work for you. As for me, I tip to my liking and via cash.
What to Pack: Comfortable but cute! Nightly, it's a option to enjoy formal dinning (this is included in your cruise price). Therefore, change into something nice for dinner. Think about it, you have been beach or poolside, walking the island or just simply lounging all day. For any occasion, think summer! Yet, for at night a jacket or cute scarf will do. Shoes: It's your choice... I have seen and packed tennis shoes, heels, flats and flip flops. Don't forget to pack your swim attire!! Most cruise lines, it's a laundry option at a fee.
Cell (and internet): Prior to your trip, contact your cellphone provider to advise your travel. Perhaps, they can share any international rate savings. At the very least, before going to bed that first night on the ship place your cell on airport mode OR turn your roaming option off. This is a way to ensure you don't get roaming fees while at sea and still be able to use your cell for pictures and video. Then share or post once off the ship (and back home). Once in the Bahamas, my husband and I were able to use our cell via Wi-Fi OFF the boat. However, get this first cruise under your belt before you get too tech savvy. In the meantime, pack a camera or simply airport mode your cell. On the ship, you have computers at your finger tips... to use at a fee. I would suggest, once or twice communicate with family and/or friends via email and be done with it. Work emails... you are on vacation, leave work emails to your commute back home.
Suite Mate: Traveling with a spouse or family member... you know if they're a morning person or not. If traveling in groups, be mindful of both of your privacy. Their need to turn the light on while they sleep. Or their cleanliness or lack there of. Trust, this is not a big deal. The rooms are quaint but doable.
Documents: Be sure to pack your unexpired government issued state ID or drivers license, a original copy of your birth certificate and/or passport. Store them in a safe place while on the cruise. Go an extra mile, email a copy of both to yourself and a close family/friend for emergency. If on meds, same suggestion... have that information handy. Most importantly, make your way back to the RIGHT ship at least an hour before suggested!!
Share. Comment. Like if you find this piece helpful. Don't think too hard about it! When you are greeted with a Bahama Mama or the like as you board the ship.. take it and keep moving. Be watchful, which is always. And have fun. Here's to making memories!
airbnb: Sign up for Airbnb and get $40 off your first adventure. Here’s my invitation link: https://abnb.me/e/DGsBxPPsiS
Before I share my experience, please note.. this is for the mature audience ONLY.
Years before yoni steaming being a big thing... my mother (in conversation) touched on me visiting a Asia or holistic doctor because of my reproductive troubles. She shared the exact information with me that is shared today on yoni (or vaginal) steam. And that cultures such as African, Asian, Mayan and Native Americans have been practicing this since forever. Nonetheless, I did not act on it... til now!
My experience, I arrived at the holistic space, filled out a quick questionnaire. Then the practitioner briefed me on the process. It's suggested that one only keep their socks on under the robe provided. Which is very ideal, you will sweat!! Oh and be sure to use the restroom before taking a seat.
About the steam, it's formed from a bouquet of herbs which to me mirrored loose leaf tea brewing... YUMMY. The goal is to set your intentions for the steam prior to the process and perhaps throughout the process. While steaming, the lights were dim and I began a audio read, Becoming by Michelle Obama and just simply sat back and relaxed. Meanwhile, the steam factor was totally rejuvenating. It's up to you to the decide your purpose... health or just simply self-care. During this 60 min session, it's a lot of "wetness" which is welcoming.
Throughout the session, the steam had gotten a bit more intense. I just rearranged the way I was sitting and it balanced out.
Once the session was over, I was presented with a glass of cold water, which was totally right on time. Also, items to freshen up.
Would I steam again? Yep. I could see me doing this at least once a month. Would I invite my sisters or close friends to steam with me? It's a intimate moment. Being as though I am a self-care influencer.... let's round up the ladies seems ideal! However, I can see this being more of a thing on my me day.
I can venture off into the sexual benefits and/or feminine gain after the steam. But I will leave that up to you to experience. To the fellas, gift your lady a yoni steam for the holidays, special occasions or no occasion at all!
In a nutshell, after my steam... I felt refreshed and light!
About last night, I really should have stopped by my neighborhood Harris Teeter after work. However, after one of those days... on my "9 to 5" I opted to head directly home to sit on my patio and prop my feet while enjoying the vitamin d.
After relaxing and gathering my thoughts, I made a mental note on the items needed for dinner. During that time, I decided to separate my loose change (which was stored in my Travel Fund bank, see past blog) so that I can purchase a gas gift card towards my upcoming trip. Side story: I have a great friend that suggested to me years ago... save all loose change and when you're vacation planning use said change for gift cards and such towards the trip. Needless to say, three or fours years later... that has been a success!
Moving back the story, finally at Harris Teeter I approached the gift card area so that I can get that purchase out of the way. However, each line was long so I decided to collect the items listed on my mental note. Then gave it a go, approaching the checkout area. Luckily, a cashier was standing there waiting to service the next customer. I immediately shared with him: I have a gift card that I will be paying for with mostly change but it has been separated. Also shared with him: I'd like to pay for my groceries separately. That is simply so that I can have a receipt reflecting the gift card payment for my records. The service worker understood and began the first transaction.
Meanwhile, a female walked up.. he stopped counting. She asked him, did I leave my cellphone here? His response: it's been taken to the service counter. The lady thanked him and walked off to retrieve her cell. He restarted his count while I waited and apologized for the change. Soon after, the same customer returns but this time with her cellphone in hand. She greets me, I greet her... she says to the service worker and I: I would like to pay for "that". The service worker and I both had the face of confusion. I rephrased her comment saying: You would like to pay for my gas card? Her response: YES, whatever it is. The service worker and I both were surprised. The lady insisted on completing the transaction, I thanked her... still in amazement and she walked away.
Folks, when I tell you.. I was so grateful. Never in a million years would I think something of this caliber would happened to me. I am a giver so to be on the receiving end of paying it forward AT THE STORE.... I was blown away! In that moment, that the lady offered.. I was thankful but internally I wanted to hug her.
After that transaction, I proceeded to pay for my groceries (while still in awe) and headed to the car. I even looked about to see if this lady happened to have been in the parking lot.
I am sharing this to say... it's good people in the world. First I wanted to question WHY ME. Then I had to check myself.. it is not for me to question, or her interest to know IF I had the funds or not. But for whatever reason... she chose ME!! That said, I owe it to her to pay it forward this week or in the very near future.
I hope this inspires you to 1)believe in others and 2) pay it forward.
Look at you, all grown up!! Ready to take on college life. Seeing all the post via social media of the parents, seeing their young adults off to college took me back!
Picture this, by my senior year of high school I received acceptance letters to: Wright State University (Ohio), Tri-C (Ohio), Cleveland State University (Ohio) Mountain State University (WVa) and Bethune Cookman (FL). After looking at the tuition cost and the grants received, I truly felt Bethune Cookman was the school for ME!! However, my mother was not in favor. Of course, she knew it would have been a great choice. Yet, her concern was her babygirl being so far away. At the time, I could not understand why she would allow me to apply if she had concern. In my day, you don't ask questions on your parents decision(s)… you adjust. That said, Mountain State University became my home Fall 1999.
Going away to college was so much more than JUST attending college. It was a life experience. It taught me how to balance my educational and social desires. My classes, for the most part were Monday through Thursday and done by 2:15 pm at the latest. While in college, I made the Dean's List 3 times. I failed (and had to repeat) 1 course. My least favorite courses were Public Speaking and Math. The matters on public speaking, not because I did not like the course... I was afraid to speak infront of the class. I will never forget, I did a presentation on my 1st love. Throughout the presentation, I had tears running down my eyes. Not because our relationship ended just months before college started. But because I was so darn nervous. LOL, I laugh at this now but it's still a battle that I am trying to overcome. Then there was Math.... YIKES. Luckily, I did not fail. I requested "one on one" help from the professor to gain a better understanding. Strange enough, it was a Torts class (if I recall correctly) that I failed. Attended daily. However, the professor graded based on the mid-term and final exam grade. Yours Truly had test anxiety so... yeah.
My first two years, I interned in the student admissions office. YES, I knew when the refund checks were ready before the student body... lol. Also, held a catering position during special events on campus. Later, I had a few odd n' in jobs off campus: at the mall, fast food restaurants and a known clothing store. It's funny, the joys of share riding TODAY. While I was in college, we had no one's Lyft, Uber or the like. NO city bus... barely had a taxi service. Yet, I made it through.
Fortunately, by my second year of college I had my own car. A forest green Neon with the personalized tag: WANT LOTZ or was it WANTZ LOTS... corny. Yet it was all mine. At this point, I was living in an apartment, off college campus but not too far. Still maintaining my studies, a social life, now a "sorority girl", attending church and traveling. Boy, those were the days!
Fast forward to my senior year, I opt'd to transfer all my studies online and relocate to the city I was raise, Cleveland, Ohio to serve as an intern at a law office which housed 7 attorney's. After completion of my intern, final paper and final exam I returned to Mountain State University to walk with my graduating class, earning my Associate of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies and Bachelor of Science Degree in Legal Studies.
Did I face adversities? YES! A couple shared above. Then there's...
Financial: Early on... between the meal plan that was REQUIRED if you stayed on campus and the tuition, my mother was strapped.
Attending a Private School: When I became interested in becoming an Alpha Kappa Alpha Woman like my mom... there were no (fraternities or) sororities on the yard. Let's just say, West Virginia State saw a lot of me.
Car Accident: Yep, I traveled a lot as a young adult via train, bus, plane and/or road trips. One time, I was traveling back to school from a visit home and fell asleep on I-77. I give it ALL to God that I walked away with only a aching body and broke glasses. The car on the other hand, DONE. The contents inside the car... finished. Till this day, I refuse to start a distant travel late in the day or without the proper amount of rest. Even still, I can't pass Parkersburg without reliving the moment in my mind.
Debt: After totaling my car, my credit went downhill because of all the charge cards that I PRAY you say no to... I had. I did not have reliable transportation to work, due to the reasons shared. And, vehicle totaled and all.. I was still expected to make the payments. You're smart, you know how that ended.
I'm sharing this "college bound" piece to perhaps save someone from self-doubt of any sort. Trust, you will face some hard times. But give it your best, ask for help when needed. Seek space when and if a situation becomes toxic. And those who know me personally will tell you, I will be quick to say college is not for everyone and that's okay. Be okay with your decision, after you have given all you've got... GIVE MORE!! Don't just give up!
Anywho, years later... I obtained my Master's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration. Am I done with college, can't say for sure. Yet, I can say w/out a doubt.. I am not done learning.
I hope this piece gets your through your first semester and on to the next. You got this, I am rooting for you.
Ha, by the way... I did make it to Bethune Cookman's campus one year during Spring Break. My friends and I went to Daytona Beach. And then came trips to New Jersey, Philly, Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, local get-aways… yeah, I enjoyed my college years. And not to mention, friends for a lifetime!
Ha, there is so much about this fiction that I enjoyed. For starters, I legit pulled out my hot pink pen to check the things off "The Never List" that I have already done. This was before even cracking into chapter one.
I think we all have or SHOULD have a couple girlfriends like Chanel, Jack and/or Vannie. The way that they would come together to celebrate the most important milestone of each other was a nice touch. I laughed so hard when Vannie (aka Bannie) pulled out her gift from Jack. It took me back to a "special delivery" I received once. Anywho, out of the 3 fellas... hands down I am rooting for Shadow. Yeah, he lacks in a VERY VERY important department. Yet, he is about pampering and he sees her worth. I guess we can not have it all. Although, he may have competition. And I am not speaking on the starter or the "long lost" that let his true self come to light.
Marking off # 36... the Bonus Never, the cruise was everything. The reading literally brought a smile to my face. Chanel was pleased... I am sure. That said, this read was great. Add it to your collection by clicking on the cover. I'm here thinking, what awaits in this authors next book, The Marriage List. P.S. To the author, Jack's Monday is my Thursday... lol.
I've been Sunkissed! How to describe Aubrey, one of the main characters without giving the story away?! Here's how: an EXPLORER that's INQUISITIVE and all around has a kindred spirit.
The circle of life is so real. Through Sunkisses, the author Larsee Mac created a vision for her readers (young and seasoned) that proves how important teamwork is when it comes to growth.
I truly enjoyed this children's book. Not to mention, the interactive activity at the end for the reader to perform at a later time, great touch. What are you waiting for? Click on the cover and go get Sunkissed!!
I have been up and down about writing this review. Reason being, I've had a membership with Bluebird Studios since just months after it opened. In the beginning, it was located still in Charlotte, NC but off Providence Rd. At that time, the only massage therapist was the owner, Madeline R. Burroughs. As the clientele grew, she needed more space and hired more practitioners which was totally understandable and awesome! That said, I followed her and remained a upstanding client for YEARS. Not to mention, I would always pre-schedule my services 3 months in advance with her (and I tipped).
Late 2017, on a few occasions my draft would come out on different dates than what was arranged. Luckily, that never put me in a bad situation with other transactions. Then also, the lead practitioner, Madeline would call (gave a weeks notice tho) asking could my appointment be changed. I never tripped just appreciated the courtesy of her phoning in advance. Yet, on a occasion... I was in need of the same revision... that was not honored. In the meantime, I had purchased gift cards off GroupOn for others, I'd also treat my mom to a massage from time to time. Strange enough, I referred someone to this business... that person expressed how rude Madeline got with her when she requested.. not once but twice not to have Jazzy (the dog greeter) in the space during her massage. This info was disclosed to me from this friend (whom began a membership later cancelled due to unprofessionalism from the owner). Although, I never let that change my view of the service. However, as time went on I pondered ending my membership. I inquired to the owner and agreed to end my membership in Nov/Dec which is suggested a 30 day notice. Therefore, I left on good stands... on my end. The final payment came out in Dec 2017. During that time, the owner which was my therapist was leaving for medic leave. Therefore, she and I spoke... I signed the "ending the membership clause" and I told her, I would love for her to do my final massage. Without hesitation, she disclosed that she would be back in Feb 2018... so it will not be til then. Mind you, this was Nov 2017. No problem, I understood and made a appointment via the website after it was announced that she has or will be returning. I instantly sent her a card, to the business congratulating her on her bundle of joy.
Fast forward til about 2 weeks ago. I received a call from Madeline, I immediately began to give her praise on her bundle. After that, she says to me... I am calling to let you know that I have returned as a manger for a awhile. Therefore your upcoming appointment will be with another practitioner. At that moment, it was a brief silence. Then I restated her comment JUST to make sure I understood correctly. I soon shared with her, basically I waited to schedule my final service to accommodate her leave. And if I was interested in another massage therapist (which I am sure was a great practitioner) that I would not have allowed this closing to carry on for months. She then became really unprofessional! Stating that she called me out of respect and did not have too! She mentioned how shocked she was at my response. I responded saying, you are completely entitled to you thoughts. Yet on a professional level and dealing with my funds that already were applied back in Dec 17... that is not accommodating. More importantly, her tone is what was alarming. She quickly, said... I will refund your money and then disconnected. Needless to say, I was very blown back. I even phoned back and got voicemail but was seeking the turn around date of my refund. Soon after, that info was provided via email. Yes, that refund was rec'd within that time amount stated. However, I hate that a business relationship ended so sour due to being a person of principal. Nonetheless, I hope that very best for this business. I am going to HOPE the owner was just having a bad day!
One would think, after a couple published books in... I'm use to this feeling. WRONG! In my personal and professional life, I appreciate order. That said, I knew weeks ago the day I planned to submit my manuscript for print. Yet, I still get nervous. Clearly, I know most things done allows a redo. But sometimes at a monetary value. Not to mention, timing is everything.
So, let me paint the picture for you. Prior to submitting Wednesday Just Got Better, the day Leland dialed 9-1-1 I proofread via print (and in color) and over the laptop more times that I could count. Like any other author, I felt the desire to change the content here and there. One day, my husband was like "Rayn, the more you read it... the more you will want to revise." I think that is human nature. Yet, I would still print, view, revise and REPEAT. Then finally submission came. I followed my "Before You Submit" notes, did a little meditation, hit submit and then walked the dog. That is the short painting. The true canvas was very detailed.
Being a self-published author comes with upfront cost, long nights and research. Meaning, this method of publishing you not only serve as the author or the visionary. You are the creator for marketing and develop. In my opinion, the success of your book is depending upon the bounds you've set. Will I ever opt to publish traditionally? Good question, I am not certain. The method I have followed thus far works, it's just very hands on. Then I ask myself, Would You Want It Any Other Way?
Please note: It's ideal and suggested to hire an editor for your work if you are publishing traditional or non-traditional.
After you submit, treat yourself to a No.1 Author On Board car sign by clicking on the sign below. Speak greatness over your work. Happy Submitting!
During CIAA, I attended a Meet the Authors brunch. The joys of rubbing shoulders with fellow bloggers, aspiring authors, and published authors. This was such an inspirational crowd. Each of us represented a unique stage in this world of writing. Hence, one wrote their story but has yet to turn it into a book. Another was inspired by the efforts of the matriarch in their family now just seeking the perfect editor. Then there is the author turned youtuber which I have already subscribed to her show! Of course, the author that has graced many college campuses with the passion to educate females on knowing their worth. The author that just wants to give back! And have you met a person that has written and published their book in 30 DAYS?! So, this is to just name a few of the talents from Saturday.
Being surrounded by like-minded individuals on this journey was amazing. The joy of bouncing experiences and ideas around the table had no choice but to get our creative juices flowing. Not to mention, the menu and cocktails at the venue, Brio Coastal Bar & Kitchen were delightful.
I must say, this is surely a different season for me. In the past, my CIAA functions never consisted of networking events. It was more of a day party here, step-show there and the greek party on Thursday night was a MUST. Not to mention, I'd start the first day of the tournament waking up at 5 AM to attend the live Steve Harvey Morning Show. I'm sharing that to say, my focus is changing... I can see it. I feel it. I've always been geared towards networking. Yet, turning my hobby into a business or better yet just becoming more passionate about this journey has me ready for this shift.
(*) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) is a collegiate athletic conference, mostly consisting of historically black colleges and universities. CIAA institutions are affiliated at the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
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