25 reasons to thank your best friend right this second

Recently, life hasn’t always been falling into place. Lucky for me, I have the worlds best, best friend. She never fails to make me smile. She always makes me feel special. She has basically reset my standards for all men. I definitely don’t thank her enough.

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So here’s why you need to thank your best friend right at this very second.

  1. They’re ALWAYS only a text or call away.
  2. They tag you in the funniest memes on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. When you’re having a bad day they’re always there to give you a pep talk.
  4. You don’t even have to tell them when you’re having a bad day, they just know by the look you give them.
  5. When you have something important coming up, they’re always your biggest fan.
  6. They love to surprise you with your favorite food or drink.
  7. If you need a movie night, they are always up for it.
  8. When you pick the same movie you watched last night, they are still ecstatic about watching it.
  9. Their favorite songs are your favorite songs.
  10. You have the best car dances.
  11. There’s always a hug waiting for you.
  12. They are the ultimate wing person.
  13. They are only concerned with your best interest.
  14. They say things like “I’m excited to FaceTime from our apartment bathrooms when we are both pooping!”
  15. They push you to be better in every single way.
  16. They keep you in check.
  17. They stand up for you in any situation.
  18. They are your best and favorite drinking buddy.
  19. You both come up with the best stupidest ideas.
  20. You have a whole picture album dedicated to those ideas.
  21. They throw you congratulations parties.
  22. They are your shoulder to cry on.
  23. They give you the best advice they know how to give.
  24. They’re always up for a selfie.
  25. Most importantly, they love and support you no matter what.

I know there are plenty more reasons, but for now this list will suffice. Thank you, best friend, for everything you do. I love you with my whole heart.

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New Year, New Me? 13 Reasons to Love Yourself

Hello, 2016! You came around very quickly. If we’re being honest, I wasn’t quite ready for you, but I guess since you’re here, I won’t complain. If you’re anything like 2015, I think I can let you stay. 2015 was a great year for me. I learned a lot of things about myself. I found my true friends, I discovered what I believe and what my values are, I declared myself as a feminist after learning more and more about what it is, I expanded my knowledge an incredible amount, I pushed myself to be better, and I learned to love myself for who I am and what I am. Why would I want a new me, 2016? Why are you trying to change me? I think instead of finding a new me, I should just love me instead. Here’s why you should too.

  1. YOU’RE PERFECT.
  2. You’re incredibly beautiful/handsome. Whatever you prefer, really.
  3. You look damn good with your hair like that.
  4. You’re so smart. I don’t care what anyone else has told you. You know that thing you obsess about and no one could ever know more about it than you? That just proves my point.
  5. Your body looks great the way it is. If you want to lose or gain some weight, that’s fine too. Just please do it in a healthy way.
  6. You have such a big heart full of love. We all have at least one or two people we can love. It doesn’t have to be a significant other. Love your parents, your friends, and yourself.
  7. You have the best smile. LOOK AT THOSE PEARLY WHITES! AMAZING!
  8. Your inner super star shows all the time and it’s marvelous. Don’t put it away! Let your inner super star SHINE!
  9. Your taste in music is wonderful.
  10. Your dance moves are ON POINT!
  11. Your presence is so unique and anyone would be lucky to even be around you.
  12. Your peculiar habits. You know, the ones that you usually want to say as a random fact about you, but your not sure how people will take it. Just say it anyway. People will love you for it just as you love it.
  13. You’re simply amazing. That’s that.

If you need more convincing, let me know. I can help you with that. In all seriousness, this year, 2016, please don’t forget to love yourself. This time of year everyone is trying to be different, and for what? You’re already the best you. No one can be a better you than you.

Have a very happy year, everyone!

Number 34–Tan-tan

Monday, May 25, 2015

I apologize in advance, this will be a short journal.

Today was so much fun. Today was the tan-tan tour! We rode in jeeps all around the island and got to see some of the most beautiful spots in St. Croix. We went to the third highest point, a beautiful resort, the domino club to see pigs drinking beer (that was funny), and to some tidal pools! Those were absolutely gorgeous. I was in a jeep with Cassidy, Mackenzie, and Andrea and Shomba was our driver. She made it quite the adventure. We made up the tan-tan dance with an acacia block. It was one of the most fun things we’ve done so far. If you ever come to St. Croix I would really recommend it. Shomba was talking to us about how they are in search of more female drivers because they only had 2 compared to the 4 or 5 boys they have driving. I thought that was so cool because you wouldn’t really think of girls doing that sort of thing, but it’s so much fun. Why wouldn’t you want to? It reminds me of when I was younger and I would go to my neighbors house when they were playing video games and they never let me have a turn. It’s just the little things, you know? It just makes me really happy that they are specifically looking for female drivers. That’s so awesome. Go tan-tan people 🙂

Other than tan-tan we really didn’t do much. We ate dinner at Rowdy Joe’s and I had some really good and spicy mac-and-cheese. After dinner we came back and everyone was exhausted because the tan-tan tour lasted 8 hours! Worth it though.

Day 12 was an amazingly bumpy ride. There’s only 6 days left so let’s do this.

Number 33–Reef Jam

Sunday, May 24, 2015

This morning we woke up and there was a cruise ship docked on the pier!

I'm holding the cruise ship! ;)

I’m holding the cruise ship! 😉

We went down to go and see the shops and everything. It was really fun to see Frederiksted so alive and full of people. The cruise ship tourists were surprisingly crabby. They didn’t seem very happy to be here which was very surprising. They just seemed like they were here to quick stop and shop and maybe try to experience something else. It really is a shame because St. Croix has so much to offer if they would just open their eyes and be happy. They’re on a beautiful island for goodness sake. Maybe they’re just taking advantage of what they have. Kind of a white privilege thing. They already knew they were coming here, they’ve already been so many places, why would they need to be excited? Maybe somewhere else is cooler. Maybe they just needed to get off of the ship. I don’t know, but it was a little bit upsetting!

After I spent enough money there, we headed over to Reef Jam which was so much fun. (As you can see in the featured photo) Joelle, Blaire, and I all were helping sell hotdogs! We got to talk to a really cool man named Duffy.

Joelle, Duffy, and me!

Joelle, Duffy, and me!

He is from Philadelphia and moved here a few years ago with his family, but has been vacationing here since 2000. He was a really nice man who made it so much fun to work in the hot sun. Reef Jam is basically a big party that raises money for the reef and to educate youth about the youth. It is such a good cause because St. Croix needs the reef for tourism to make money for itself.  Reef Jam was really fun and I’m so happy that a lot of money was raised for such a great cause.

Day 11 was a really relaxing day. It was fun to participate in Reef Jam and it was fun to see the cruise ship. Day 12 will be quite the adventure.

Number 32–Scuba!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Today we went scuba diving. It was seriously so much fun. I loved it so much. I loved it because it was a lot different than snorkeling. With snorkeling, you’re on top of the water so you feel all of the waves. When you scuba, you’re at or near the bottom feeling no waves. Plus you have the opportunity to see more things. We got to see some cute fish and even a seahorse. I would definitely go scuba diving again. I really did enjoy myself. The only thing I didn’t like about scuba diving was our instructor. He thought it would be funny to talk about taking the bikini tops off and having snorkelers flash him and everything. That was not funny at all. It was so rude. I was actually very surprised that he even said that. What would make him think that’s okay? I just don’t get it.

After scuba diving it was time to go to the Coconut Cup Paddle Board Competition. I did actually compete and I was terrible. But it’s okay! I had a lot of fun with it! When I wasn’t competing, I was actually at a booth with a fantastic woman. I didn’t actually get her name, but she was such a nice and friendly lady. She was making fish out of coconuts and it was such a cute art thing. I made one with her and she was so helpful to me. This woman goes snorkeling every day because it’s therapeutic to her back. (She was in a car accident a while ago.) These fish that she makes are a very accurate representation of the actual fish. She was very particular when I was making it. She used to be an art teacher but had to give it up. She was just a very nice woman and I’m really glad I got the experience of meeting her. She even sent a picture of me to her daughter because she was so excited. For real, how cute is that? She really helped me realize the little things in life and the most fun and make you the happiest. She was so excited that I was under her tent making these fish with her. She helped me understand that we’re not here to help the island, the island is going to help us. I am so thankful for meeting her.

Once we were done paddle boarding we had dinner on the patio which was delicious as always. We also got to see Kyler spin fire again which was so much fun. Kyler is so cute when she spins because she always has a smile on her face. Other than seeing Kyler spin, we just got to relax for a while which was a nice change of pace. I love everything we’re doing and I love being here, but relaxing is needed every once in a while.

Good bye day 10, hello day 11.

Number 31–Whim Plantation

Friday, May 22, 2015

Today at the worksites we had another instant gratification day. We were clearing trees to create more sunlight for better trees. We spent a good two hours clearing this area for more light and at the end it actually looked pretty good. The nature conservancy is going to be planting mahogany trees so they can eventually sell them so they need more light. The difference between trees with light and without is actually quite drastic. There were trees that were planted at the same time and one has sun, and the other doesn’t, and the tree without light hadn’t grown at all, but the other one had grown a lot. So we really did make a difference today and that made me really happy. I believe we are doing the same thing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well so that will be exciting to see the end results!

Also at our worksites today we got to see a presentation by Kemmit about the Coral nursery! It was a really cool thing to see because I really didn’t know much about coral restoration and what all goes into it. It was a very informative presentation and I’m glad that I got to see it! Once that presentation was done, the nature group got together and interviewed Richard. He is such an interesting guy and it was a fun interview.

After our work day we headed to the Whim Plantation.

Pictures from the plantation!

Pictures from the plantation!

More pictures :)

More pictures 🙂

It was really cool to see the house. It was a one room house, with one bedroom, a living room, and a great room. It was a small house but at the same time it seemed huge. We also got to see a woman making delicious candy and we also to meet Junie the conch guy. He finds these conch shells and cuts them and sells them for a living!

A shell

He is really nice and a very generous guy. He even gave Nicole a free shell which was very nice!

Nicole and her shell!

Nicole and her shell!

The Whim Plantation was really awesome and I’m very glad I got to experience it.

Tonight we got to eat dinner in Christiansted. We had Mexican food at a nice little place that had disgusting house margaritas. All of us that decided to head into Christiansted ate at the same place for Cheryl’s birthday.Then we went out and had fun in the town.

Alana and me!

Alana and me!

We had a lot of fun during one of our last nights at Christiansted!

Day 9, over and out.

Number 30–Maroon Ridge

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Today at the worksites we had the pleasure of cutting down some acacia plants. Acacia plants are not a fun plant to work with. They are an invasive plant that has thorns that vary in size, but can be big enough to stab through your shoe and into your foot

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It was not pleasant, but it was instant gratification. You could see all of the work that you had done right there. The plants were done and there were no more thorns sticking out on the trail. It was pretty hard work and it hurt, but nothing is better than being about to see your results right away. And on the plus side it wasn’t as hot on this trail as it was on the previous one. Our workday ended up being a short one so that was a very nice perk of today. The work day was super satisfying and I’m glad it’s done!

When we got back from working, our next planned trip was the hike to Maroon Ridge. I had learned a little bit of the history before we left, and I know it was a pretty sacred place, but I didn’t know too much. On the way up, Olasse Davis, our tour guide, was telling us about the plants up there and the trees and everything, but when we got up there, we got to the real history that no one ever heard about. Maroon Ridge is a place where maroon slaves (slaves who escaped) ran to. St. Croix is a small island. They had nowhere to run besides the other side of the island or hiding in cliffs, and that’s what they did. Once they made it to the top, they lived up there until they knew someone was coming after them.

This is a lighthouse at the top.

This is a lighthouse at the top.

And once they knew that, they had to make the decision of, do I let myself be caught and suffer the brutal consequences, or do I jump off of the ridge sending my spirit back to Africa and killing myself. A lot of Maroons decided to jump. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

They weren’t about to get their hands or feet or even necks cut off for running away for their freedom. Olasse was telling us that if they were caught and their necks were cut off, the necks would be hung around town as a warning sign as to not run away. This place has so much history that it overwhelmed me and I almost started crying. It was just so appalling to me that people could treat people so poorly that they would rather jump than be caught. I mean I was literally standing at the edge where people could have jumped. Standing up there just gave me the feels. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It was such a beautiful place, but the history just made it a place where I did not feel like I should be there very long. I would like to go up there to think and to learn more about the history, but I could not go up there again just for an enjoyable hike. Maroon Ridge deserves a lot of respect and I just don’t think I was giving it all that it deserved.

After the overwhelming Maroon Ridge trip, we all went out to Lost Dog for dinner! They have really good pizza and it was nice to spend time all together in a relaxed setting. We even got to put our names on the wall with chalk! It was a fun night for sure. I love this group of girls and guy. We all are so nice and welcoming to anyone. I feel like I really fit in here and they are all making this experience a million times better.

Day 8 down, 10 to go.

Number 29–Fire

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

At the worksites today we planted trees! It was fun, but it was very, very hot. Like….extremely hot. A really not fun hot. A very dry and hot, hot. It was a gratifying experience because I know that the trees are there and they will grow to be large trees and it will help. I believe the reason they want the trees are because it will help with rain. A long time ago that conserved area was trying to be turned into an airport. They had terminals and everything. Obviously, they had to cut down tons of trees in order to do that. Keep in mind that this area was completely forested. So they cut down these trees and then the rain began to stop and now they get less and less rain. Now that they are planting new trees, they hope for the rain to continue!

After the worksites, we went out to Christiansted to do some shopping! Christiansted has some really great shopping, especially for jewelry. They have these hook bracelets that actually have a cool significance. It is a bracelet that has a horseshoe and it also has something that symbolizes a love bracelet from Africa. So the whole bracelet symbolizes good luck with love. It’s so nice and it has a great meaning! I also got a few other random things besides jewelry, but that was the big purchase.

I love walking around here because of all of the local people. I think they are so much fun and they really make the experience a billion times better. Everyone is always so nice and willing to talk to you and help you. It’s just such a friendly environment and it makes everything that much better.

Once our Christiansted adventure was done, we headed to dinner at Rose’s Dream Cuisine. Rose is a woman that actually used to be a house keeper at cottages and had always had the dream of owning her own restaurant. Once she turned 60 she learned how to drive and she decided it was time to open her restaurant. The food was delicious and it’s always a good time eating with everyone. Rose is such a cute little woman. I really love her aspiration for her dreams and she got everything accomplished that she wanted too. She is a true inspiration.

After Rose’s, we all sat outside and watched Kyler spin fire with Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies! That was so cool mainly because Kyler was so happy. She was in her zone and she was so enthusiastic. You can really tell that it’s her passion and it’s just so incredible. We are all really happy that Kiki and her crew were able to make it out to perform for us. That was so nice of them to just perform for us! You know that it’s a passion when people will just come out and do it for you with nothing in return.

Day 7 was so much fun and I can’t wait for the 11 more to come.

Number 28–Huge Sea Turtles

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Today I helped save the turtles. Specifically the Leatherback turtles. And it wasn’t just the turtles, it was lots of different species. Today at our worksites we helped clear Sandy Point, which is a beach that lots of turtles nest on, of Tan-Tan trees and daughter, which is an invasive species of weed/plants. It’s actually considered a parasite. The reason we clear off the Tan-Tan and the daughter is because baby turtles can actually get stuck in them when they hatch and they don’t know how to reverse. So they get into all of these weeds (which look like spaghetti) and they get all tangled up and they can’t make it to the water. I was mostly clearing the daughter off of the beach. I was clearing it off of a bush and actually right away a hummingbird came up to check out the bush. I was so happy to see instant results like that. I made a difference on that beach and that’s the best feeling above all on this trip. Seeing what you’ve been able to accomplish.

After our worksites we got some ocean time in. Cottages by the Sea has amazing views and a great beach. It’s so nice to wake up and smell the beach every day. Smelling the beach at any time of the day is just amazing.

For dinner we went to a really cute little place in the rain forest. When we were driving there I started to notice more of the town. It feels like there are people everywhere. You are never on a street that doesn’t have someone. I love that here. I love always being able to see someone. And everyone waves and says good morning, or afternoon, or night. Everyone is so friendly and willing to talk to you and share their story.

Right after dinner we left for turtle watch! It was so cool. We got to the beach (the same one we were working at that day) and met up with our tour guide person. It wasn’t really a tour, but for lack of better words, that’s what I’ll call her. I believe her name was Christina! She took us to a spot on the beach where we would sit and wait until someone radioed us about a turtle. We talked a lot about turtles and what they do and just really random questions and everything. I did get to learn a lot about turtles which was really cool. It was probably about an hour before there was a turtle. We traveled down the beach to see her and she was huge! She was 153cm long and 108cm wide. She was incredible. When we got there she was digging her nest. Unfortunately, she ended up digging too close to the water so her nest got water in it, so the researchers had to help move her eggs. I got to touch her and everything and that was so cool. I was pretty nervous to touch her because leatherbacks are extremely delicate. If you run your fingernail over their back, they will start to bleed. And it was also cool to see her eggs. They are about the size of a cue ball in pool. She lays roughly 80 of those eggs in every sitting, and then she lays 20 yolkless eggs. I’m guessing to protect her babies from predators, but no one really knows the real reason. Leatherbacks are quite a mysterious animal. No one really knows a lot about them because they can dive so deep. I think Christina told us that they can dive 3000ft+ down. One thing that really bothered me, and a bunch of others, is that they were going to drill a camera into her shell so that they could try to track her movements. This has never really been done before. The reason I have a problem with it is because we don’t really need to know where they go. I don’t really think it matters. Would it be cool? Probably. But what’s the point. There really isn’t one. And they were claiming that it wouldn’t hurt her. The turtle is in a trance when it is laying eggs, that’s how we got to touch her. The researchers were saying that it wouldn’t hurt because she doesn’t flinch when she’s in this trance, but if they bleed with one fingernail on their back, it will definitely hurt them. It’s basically humans feeling the need to know anything and everything. That is just going too far. I appreciate them moving the nest to save it and them doing what they can to actually save the turtles, but we don’t need to invade their space with a camera.

All in all, day 6 was a great day! Let’s get day 7 rolling.

Number 27–Devil Bees

Monday, May 18, 2015

Today we started our worksites bright and early. My worksite is the Nature Conservancy so we left the cottages around 7:30 and got to Estate Little Princess at 8. Estate Little Princess is the headquarters for the Nature Conservancy here. It is a really cool area. When you drive up you come to this huge house. The house is where all of the interns live. It really is a huge house. It’s super cool because the windows are just open. You open them and you get a big breeze. The kitchen is actually very similar to when it was built (which was in 1749). The Great Room is definitely great. It is a huge room that is just open with windows. It has a lot of the history on the walls that we got to talking about a little. The Shoemaker’s owned the house before donating it to the conservancy. Here’s a great article of the history! At the Little Princess there was a huge sugar plantation. That’s actually mostly what it was known for. Richard (the person in charge of us at the conservancy) was giving us a tour and showed us one of the sugar factories. In this particular one, he said that before electricity became a thing, there was a huge hamster wheel that 2 men went in to get everything going. They just walked around in the wheel. I thought that was crazy! Just thinking about it…you own so many slaves that you say “you two get to go in the wheel today.” I wonder if it was ever used as punishment. I’m sure it probably was. I just cannot imagine. The rest of the tour was great, but nothing stuck out to me as much as that wheel did.

In St. Croix they have these little devil bees called Jack Spaniards. They’re wasps and evil. Richard said “they go for the eyes and ears.” If that’s not the spawn of the devil, I don’t know what is. They are all over where we’re supposed to be working so keep updated to see if I get stung.

For the most part we just had a little orientation at our worksite today. Nothing extremely special or anything. It was really interesting to learn some of the history or the sugar plantations. I’m excited to start doing work for the conservancy so I can try and accomplish something good while I’m here.

After we finished at our worksites we headed over to the animal shelter. Some of us were thinking about adopting dogs so we went, but it was closed. Then we were trying to go get ice cream, but that was closed too! Oh well. Maybe we’ll try again tomorrow. Once we got back from our hour long adventure, I took a much needed nap. This island is wearing me out.

Thankfully I woke up just in time for class! We had some special guests at our class today. Paul, the owner of the cottages, came to talk to us about safety and his past on the island. It was interesting because I believe he said it was his grandfather that helped bring baseball to the island! I thought that was so interesting. You don’t really think of where stuff like that comes from. You kind of just assume it was there. But it wasn’t, and Paul’s family helped bring it in. How cool. We also had another special guest named Marsha! She is a woman that lives in the community. She came to talk to us about herself and about something that happened in a community meeting. The community meeting was the first day when I was still traveling due to the flight delay. What was happening was the meeting was about the sunken ships and divers and stuff like that. I didn’t really catch the full drift of it. Marsha was upset because she didn’t see anyone that really represented her on the panel of divers. One thing that she got to talking about was slaves. Slaves had it rough on this island. It was horrible. It was the stuff that was left out of our history books. In the United States, slaves could run and go to the Underground Railroad and stuff like that to at least try to get out. Here, in St. Croix, they had nowhere to run. This island is 28 miles long and 6 miles wide. They literally just had to stay where they were and deal with what they had. It was honestly just horrible. Another thing Marsha was talking about was an ocean burial site that one of her friends was buried at. The thing is, no one really knows where it is. They have all of these rules saying you can’t ride your boat over it and everything, but it’s not really roped off or anything. They just take these bodies in bags and put a heavy block between their legs. It just sounds really sketchy to me. It was a really eventful class and I was really glad that I got to be a part of the discussion.

After class we went out to a hotel that has firedancers at night! It was so much fun and it was really, really cool to see people spinning fire and what not. One of our students actually spins fire as well so she’s going to see if they can come and spin for us at cottages! The party was so much fun! We got to dance and just take in the culture. They were playing beach music and we got to play with kids and it was just an incredible time.

Day 5 was a lot of fun and I’m so excited for the rest of the days!