The Best Beaches in Barbados

The beautiful island of Barbados has over 70 miles of beaches, each of which are unique and different. Beaches located on the Caribbean (West side) of the island are suitable for water activities like snorkeling, paddle boarding, jet skiing and sunbathing due to their calm nature while beaches on the Atlantic (East side) are more rocky and good for surfing or sunbathing. It was incredible to see so many different types of beaches on such a small island which added to the charm and beauty of Barbados! Here are my top 5 favorite beaches you must visit during your travels to this magical island.

1. Bottom Bay
Bottom Bay was the most scenic of all the beaches I visited in Barbados. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by a magnificent cliff over looking the prettiest turquoise water I’ve ever seen! The tall palm trees on the beach down below made for the perfect backdrop. There’s plenty of beach here to sunbath and have a picnic or you can do the same from above and enjoy the view on the rocky cliff.
If coconut water if your thing, you can buy a fresh coconut at the top of stairs that descend down to the beach from some of the local Bajans who actually climb the tall palm trees on the beach and shake down the coconuts! I would highly recommend this beach for sunbathing, swimming and picture taking.
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2. Bathsheba Beach
Bathsheba Beach was one of the most unique beach I’ve ever visited! Located on the East side, Bathsheba was extremely windy and the waves looks like a surfers dream come true. Dangerous rip curls and undertows do not make Bathsheba an ideal spot to swim, however, you can enjoy the water in many of the shallow natural reef pools located just a few feet from the shore. During the winter, layers of seaweed wash up on shore so I appreciated the view from far away because it made for some cool photos. The giant rock formations are what make this beach a stunning sight to see! I would highly recommend Bathsheba for sunbathing during the Summer and picture taking and surfing during the Winter. Experienced surfers only!
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3. Alleynes Bay
Alleynes Bay has crystal clear water which makes it the best beach in Barbados to snorkel and swim with sea turtles. I entered the beach from The Lonestar, a really popular restaurant and hotel in the bay which I would highly recommend for breakfast or lunch before your swim. Bring plenty of snorkel gear and an underwater camera if you have one!
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4. Paynes Bay & Sandy Lane Beach
These two beaches are home to some of the island’s most luxurious resorts. Located on the West side of the island, the soft white sand and calm waves make these two beaches the best for water sports, sun bathing and swimming. I stayed at a private villa in Paynes Bay during my stay and enjoyed watching the boats dock out in the water, the jet skis go by and taking strolls to nearby Sandy Lane Beach.
Sandy Lane, an exclusive high end luxury resort, is located here. You can admire the signature pink umbrellas and walk the beach, but don’t be expected to be allowed into the resort for a cocktail unless you’re a guest at the hotel or have a meal reservation!
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5. Brandon’s Beach

Brandon’s Beach was a little off the beaten path and more secluded than the other beaches, but I loved how private it was and the fact that you could relax and watch the locals surf here. I would recommend making a pit stop here after you take a tour at the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery!
Barbados 2018-1128Barbados 2018-1081If you’re looking for additional thing to do during your stay, check out my blog post on the the top activities to do during your trip to Barbados!

Top 5 Activities to do in Barbados

I’m an explorer at heart and am always up for an adventure! My favorite thing about traveling is when I find opportunities to experience the natural beauty of our world and time to marvel at the beauty of animals in their natural habitat. During my 10 day trip to Barbados, I got to see so much of the island and planned some fun activities that completely beat my expectations and blew me away.

If you’re planning a trip to Barbados, here is my list of the top 5 activities I would highly recommend you do to satisfy your craving for adventure!

1. Feed the monkeys at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve
This was the highlight of my trip! I didn’t expect the monkeys to be so friendly and agile, but when it comes to food they love humans and don’t mind getting up close and personal. I totally didn’t expect them to eat right out of my hand but they did and it was incredible! You can read more in depth about my wildlife reserve experience here and see all the photos I took of the animals in the reserve. Admission costs $30 BDS ($15 USD) for adults and $15 BDS ($7.50 USD) for children. Hours are from 10am to 5pm and it is recommended that you are there around 2pm as this is the animal feeding time so you are more likely to see many of the animals at this time.
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2. Swim with sea turtles
If you love being in the water as much as I do and you enjoy water activities like snorkeling or scuba diving, Barbados is a great place to experience swimming with sea turtles! The best part about this activity is that you don’t even need to pay to go out on a catamaran because the turtles can be found many places right off the beach. You can even feed and pet the turtles when you swim with them!
Head out early in the morning when the turtles are likely to be scouting for food. We snorkeled and swam with the turtles in Alleyne’s Bay (located behind the Lonestar hotel and restaurant) where many of the glass bottom boats and catamarans stick around. Other good areas to swim with turtles include Freights Bay, Carlise Bay & Paynes Bay.
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3. Visit Hunte’s Gardens
This beautiful outdoor garden was stunning from the moment we pulling up to the entrance to the moment we left. I’ve never seen such lush, colorful plants or palm trees so tall in my life! This walkable garden holds different surprises around each corner and I could have literally spent an entire day taking pictures of all the exotic scenery, birds and animals among the soft classical music playing throughout the garden. Admission costs $30 BDS ($15 USD) per person and hours are from 9am to 4pm daily. It truly is a magical place unlike any other!
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4. Explore the natural beauty of Animal Flower Cave
Discovered in 1750, this naturally formed cave is the only accessible cave on the island and was formed by natural limestone similar to cenotes found in Mexico. Build in 1912, coral steps lead down to the cave floor which is estimated to be 400,000 to 500,000 years old! Be sure to wear sneakers or take your shoes off while in the cave because it’s pretty slippery and easy to fall if you don’t have good balance. There is also a separate swimming chamber in the cave if you’re up for it! Make sure to visit when the waves aren’t too big because it will close due to the strength and size of the waves on occasion. Admission costs $20 BDS ($10 USD) per person and hours are from 9am to 4:30pm daily. In addition to a guided cave visit, there is also a restaurant where you can grab a quick bite to eat and drinks on top of the cave with an incredible ocean view, open from 11am to 3:30pm daily.
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5. Enjoy a Rum Punch at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery
Honestly, I was mostly excited for rum cocktails upon showing up to the distillery, but the best part ended up being the incredible history lesson behind Mount Gay Rum! I highly suggest taking the Signtaure Rum Tour through the distillery where you will learn the history of the brand and enjoy a tasting of 3 different rums. You receive a delicious rum punch at the beginning of the tour and it ends at the bar where you can also enjoy specialty rum cocktails. The tour costs $40 BDS ($20 USD) per person and hours are from 9am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday and 10:30am-2:30pm on Saturday and Sunday. Cheers!
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Other activities I would highly recommend depending on how much time you have on the island include:
Oistnis Friday night fish fry
Sunset sail with Cool Runnings
Paddle boarding
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Barbados Animal Wildlife Reserve

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I have a very special place in my heart for animals! When I researched top activities in Barbados, I found that there is an Animal Wildlife Reserve on the island where animals roam free and you can see wild green monkeys. I had to check it out for myself! Upon pulling up to the parking lot, we were greeted by incredible banana leaf fields, countless rows of stunning palm trees and beautiful lush, tropical plants.
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There were three green monkeys near the ticket counter when we arrived and after paying the entrance fee, we were given chopped up sweet potatoes to feed them. Six more monkeys joined us shortly after they realized food was present, including a couple baby ones.
I was absolutely amazed at how gentle and sweet the monkeys were that I wanted to take one home with me! They each had their own personality and many times they would hold my hand (or a finger) while eating directly out of my hand.
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We entered the grounds and started our journey walking small brick pathways throughout the reserve. There were tons of large tortoise which were easy to spot and although they’re known for being slow, they actually move pretty fast. While I was taking photos, one almost walked directly over my foot! Walking a little deeper, we discovered a mother deer feeding her baby!
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If you love animals as much as I do or want to see green monkeys up close and personal, I would highly suggest coming to visit the reserve during your stay in Barbados! Admission costs $30 BDS ($15 USD) for adults and $15 BDS ($7.50 USD) for children. Hours are from 10am to 5pm and it is recommended that you are there around 2pm as this is the animal feeding time so you are more likely to see many of the animals at this time. It was truly a magical experience and feeding the monkeys was definitely an experience to remember. It was so much better than viewing animals behind bars at the zoo!
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Moonlight Gypsy Shop Earrings $14
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Forever 21 Selfie Leslie Smocked Top $35
One Teaspoon Denim Cut Off Shorts $98

10 Ways to Increase Self Love & Happiness

Photo Feb 23, 8 10 37 AMIf there’s one thing I take to heart, it’s the fact that we should always be working towards being the best version of ourselves we can possibly be. Life isn’t easy. I have days when I wonder what I’m doing with my life and days where I don’t feel like getting out of bed. Other days I feel extremely accomplished, empowered and ready to take on the day!

It’s hard living in a world where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us we’re not good enough, we aren’t pretty enough and that we need to buy things in order to be something we’re not. Our comparison of ourselves to photoshopped magazine covers, supermodels and celebrities over time can lead to insecurity, self doubt and ultimately self sabotage which is extremely unhealthy. It’s hard to be happy with yourself and the world around you if you’re not comfortable with who you and what you look like. I promise YOU ARE PERFECT JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

So how can you increase self love & happiness on a daily basis? Grab a journal and a pen!

#1 Ask yourself “What are 3 things I’m grateful for?” and write them down.

Gratitude is so important to be thankful with what you have in your life right NOW. It’s easy to get caught up with what we want for our future but those thoughts lead us away from the present moment.

It could be as simple as the gift of sight or the fact that the sun is shining today. Whether you’re grateful for a friend, a family member or a pet, we are so fortunate to have access to fresh water, nutritious food and have a roof over our head. There are many people in the world struggling each day to attain these three basic necessities.
In order to achieve daily happiness, we need to train ourselves to be happy with what we have in our life NOW because focusing on things we don’t have ultimately leads to unhappiness.
#2 Ask yourself “How do I want to feel today?” and write it down.
The first thing many of us do when we wake up is check our social media, open our email or turn on the news.
Make it a best practice to explore how you’re feeling instead, then decide how you actually WANT to feel. Setting intentions on how you want to feel first thing in the morning allows us to think positively about the day ahead. Any time you start feeling differently throughout the day, think back to the intentions you’ve set and align your mind to stay on track.
#3 Ask yourself “What are 3 things I love about myself?” and write them down.
This is my favorite exercise because it’s the most challenging one for me. It’s 100% ok to struggle with answering this question because we don’t take enough time to really appreciate our gifts, talents and beauty on a regular basis.
Really dig deep. What DO you love about yourself??
This can be physical attributes including the color of your eyes, your perfect manicure or the fact that your hair looks killer today.
It could also be your optimistic attitude, the fact that you’re an awesome cook or that you love your ability to save $100 each week. Whatever it is, it’s important to love the little things about yourself!
#4 Ask yourself “What do I want to accomplish today?” and write it down.
Did you know you are 80% more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down? Goal setting is something I’m very passionate about. More about that HERE!
Life is short and we tend to stop chasing our dreams that older we get. We let other things take priority and forget to put ourselves first. It’s so important to create goals and stick to them! I keep a weekly planner that I update regularly and create daily tasks of what I want to accomplish or learn in order to help hold myself accountable.
We should accomplish at least ONE thing each day to help us feel like we’re moving forward in life. It could be booking a cycling class you’ve always wanted to try, attending a photography class to finally learn how to use your camera or booking a trip you’ve been wanting to take. The smallest of tasks can help you feel like you’re working towards something and constantly learning or growing. The more you do it, the better you’ll feel about your life purpose and direction, ultimately leading to increased happiness and self love.
#5 Choose a ‘Quote of the day’ & write it down.
The quote I choose largely depends on how I answer the above questions. You’ll tend to notice a theme in how you answer them based on how you’re feeling. I typically go to Google or Pinterest to search for a quote that speaks to me. When I find one I love, I simply jot it down and take 2 minutes to reflect on what it means to me before starting my day. Doing this provides feelings of empowerment, confidence and optimism.
#6 Write down the following & repeat them out loud to yourself in the mirror:
I am Beautiful.
I am Confident.
I am Unique.
I am Fearless.
I am Loved.
I am Amazing.
I am Perfect just the way I am.
We become our thoughts and what we tell ourselves each day. Writing down and repeating affirmations while looking in the mirror help us to see and speak to ourselves in a positive light. You’ll be surprised how much you actually start believing what you tell yourself every day if you do it consistently. We should ALWAYS be feeding our minds positive thoughts! The moment you consciously recognize a negative thought, dismiss it immediately and replace it with a positive one.
#7 Spoil yourself once a week!
Buy yourself a bouquet of fresh flowers, indulge in a cupcake at your favorite bakery or treat yourself to that pair of shoes you can’t stop thinking about. It’s important to treat yourself even when you’re on a tight budget. Something as small as a $3 cupcake a week can’t hurt and is a great way to treat yourself because you deserve it!
#8 Meditate
Meditation is SO good for the body and mind. Not only does it allow you to relax and remove yourself from a state of anxiety or stress, but it can help you look inwardly to reflect on your emotions and feelings. Sometimes it also uncovers issues or problems you didn’t even realize were there! Other times it can help heal your spirit and rejuvenate your soul. The more you meditate, the more you work on yourself. The more you work on yourself, the happier you will be! My favorite app is the CALM meditation app. It helps you reduce anxiety, sleep better and feel happier. I love it because it offers 10 minute meditations focused on different attributes including happiness, gratitude, calmness, stress, self-esteem and more. Give it a try! It’s honestly life changing.
#9 Take a break from social media
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “reality” of our peers or celebrities. Try to remember that MOSTLY everything you see on TV or on social media is NOT REAL LIFE. My instagram may be filled with beach photos and exotic vacations but I actually live in NYC and have a full time job just like most people! Yes, I get exhausted & have days where I don’t want to go to the gym or cook dinner but I’m a normal person and don’t go around jet setting the world.
Its easy to compare our lives to other people but truthfully we should only be comparing ourselves to where we were yesterday!
#10 Complete 1 small act of kindness a day
Buy a co-worker a coffee, give a homeless person your left overs, compliment a complete stranger. If you can consciously seek opportunities to complete a small act of kindness each day, you will begin to feel more humble and giving, thus opening yourself up for more self love and happiness.
I hope this helps you babes as much as it’s helped me. Let me know in the comments what you do to increase self love and happiness!
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Isla Mujeres, Mexico: An Authentic Island Experience

Isla Mujeres, Mexico | Travel Guide | Moonlight Gypsy Blog | Bohemian Fashion Style & Travel Blog

Mexico is one of my absolute favorite international destinations. It’s extremely affordable, the food is incredible and the margaritas are tasty!  I’ve visited some of the most popular destinations in Mexico including Cabo, Cozumel, Acapulco, Tulum, and most recently Cancun. When I began researching day trips from Cancun, I had never heard of Isla Mujeres but was inspired to visit because of the colorful marketplaces, cliff side ocean views and gorgeous beaches. One of my favorite things about traveling in general is discovering lesser known places to explore because they tend to feel more authentic, untouched and less touristy.

Isla Mujeres is a tiny island that serves as the southern most top of Mexico. It’s 5 miles long and only 400 yards wide. This tiny gem is only a short 45 minute ferry ride from Cancun. Although small, the island depicts Mexico’s historic and rich culture of things to see, fun activities, friendly people, delicious food & some of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen!

During my 4 day stay in Cancun, I took a day trip to explore Isla Mujeres. There are plenty of hotels on the island if you wish to spend more time there, but you can easily see the entire island in a day or two depending on your activities. I started my day adventure early in the morning from the JW Marriott Cancun by taxi to Playa Tortugus, one of the 3 marinas that take you over to Isla Mujeres. Accompanied by live musical entertainment, I enjoyed the sunshine at the top of the boat and the wind blowing in my hair.

The easiest way to get around the island is by a golf cart or scooter and you can easily save time by renting one on the ferry for pick up upon island arrival. If you decide visit during peak Summer months (May to August) be sure to either book a golf cart in advance or head to the island on the earliest ferry over in order to guarantee you’ll get one. There are only a select number of golf carts on the island given that it’s so small.

Upon arrival to the island, I was greeted by a bustling strip of restaurants, colorful markets and friendly island people. The energy surrounding the island was unlike anything I have experienced elsewhere and I was so excited to explore! Conveniently, I secured a golf cart on the ferry ride over and was able to take in all the culture and scenery without feeling rushed.
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By the time I picked up my golf cart, I had worked up quite an appetite! I jumped in the golf cart and drove about 10 minutes from the main ferry port until I arrived at a cute little brunch spot called Barlito’s. Located at Marina Paraiso Hotel, Barlito’s is well known for their famous raison cinnamon rolls and fresh squeezed fruit juices. Since I couldn’t choose between watermelon and orange juice, I ordered both! The restaurant had a bunch of fresh fruit and you could actually watch the wait staff pick out your fruit and make your juice right there. It tasted so refreshing! The food was delicious and I would highly recommend coming here if you make the trek to the island. One thing to be aware of however, is that the iguana’s here love to join you on the patio while you eat. Although entertaining, a couple times they got a little too close for my personal comfort! The quaint and quiet hotel grounds were really fun to explore and it was nice to enjoy a meal among the palm trees and pool.
Photo Nov 17, 11 12 35 AMPhoto Nov 17, 11 13 19 AMPhoto Nov 17, 11 26 19 AMPhoto Nov 17, 11 43 35 AMPhoto Nov 17, 11 53 57 AMPhoto Nov 17, 12 17 58 PMPhoto Nov 17, 12 26 14 PMPhoto Nov 17, 12 21 50 PMAfter enjoying a beautiful breakfast, I jumped back into my golf cart to began my ride around the island. One thing I didn’t expect to see in Isla Mujeres were the number of charming, colorful walls and buildings along the drive which I couldn’t resist pulling over to take photos! Hot pink, bright yellow, sunset orange…these colorful walls and homes were so unique to the island and one of my favorite things about the visit. It was also really cool that the main road has some of the most stunning views of the Caribbean which made the trip that much more enjoyable. I would highly suggest spending time roaming around different streets and taking in all of the diverse architecture on the island.
Photo Nov 17, 12 55 07 PMPhoto Dec 16, 12 02 51 AMBecause Isla Mujeres is so small, every restaurant and bar on the island has a stunning view of the ocean. I ran into a unique spot place called Madera Food & Art which is an art gallery and restaurant. I enjoyed a tasty margarita while appreciating some of their on site art sculptures and prestine ocean views.
Photo Feb 23, 8 21 59 AMPhoto Feb 23, 8 25 32 AMPhoto Nov 17, 2 11 10 PMPhoto Feb 23, 8 10 37 AMPhoto Feb 23, 8 33 32 AMVWNot far from Madera, I ran across a local family who had set up a coconut stand on the side of the road. I ordered a fresh “coco frio” (cold coconut) to enjoy with a beautiful view much closer to the water. One of my absolute favorite things about visiting any tropical destination is picking up a fresh coconut to enjoy on the beach!
There’s truly nothing better than a stunning ocean view and cold coconut water straight out of a coconut. I took some time to really appreciate Mother Nature in this moment and felt so connected to the culture and energy of the island.
Photo Nov 17, 1 45 24 PMPhoto Feb 23, 8 01 37 AMPhoto Feb 23, 7 46 18 AMYou will know you’re half way around the island when you reach the ruins of Ixchel. Located at the southern most tip of the island, the Ixchel temple is one of the main Isla Mujeres destinations for tourists that comes with incredible Caribbean Ocean views. Although small, this portion of the island is very sacred to the Mayan culture and history of Isla Mujeres. You do have to pay to enter the ruins and to use the bathroom so make sure you bring enough cash to the island with you if you wish to see them up close!

If you crave adventure, your best bet is to book snorkeling or zip lining on Isla Mujeres at Garrafon Park. Because the island is far off the coast, Garrafon Park has some of the best snorkeling. If I would’ve had an extra day in Cancun I would’ve definitely come back to spend an entire day here! I would plan to spend at least 2 hours for snorkeling and 1 additional hour for zip lining. Other activities they offer include kayaking, bicycle tours, swimming with dolphins, relaxing in their outdoor swimming pool, lounging in hammocks and more.
Photo Feb 23, 7 15 29 AMAfter continuing along the road, I stopped at a colorful adults-only hotel called La Bella Villa. They had the cutest bar and patio area with a pool and a gorgeous view of the sea. I enjoyed another margarita and relaxed in one of the beach chairs out by the water enjoying the warm sun on my shoulders and listening to the waves crash on the beach below. How cute is this place?! It has awesome reviews on trip advisor so if you’re looking to book a night or two on the island, this is a great option.
Photo Feb 23, 9 04 14 AMPhoto Feb 23, 9 09 47 AMPhoto Nov 17, 3 26 12 PMPhoto Feb 23, 9 21 44 AMAfter several hours of exploring, I had worked up quite an appetite and all I could think about were tacos! (Can you blame me?!) I drove the golf cart back to the main area of the island and dropped it off to spend time exploring the marketplace and beach. I grabbed a table at La Cueva de la Cherna and ordered some of the most delicious nachos and tacos. This place is off the beach but is noted as one of the best taco places on the island. I would highly suggest eating here! Afterwards, I walked to the beach to watch one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever witnessed from the beach! The perfect end to a perfect day.
Photo Nov 17, 5 40 25 PM (1)Photo Nov 17, 5 45 57 PMPhoto Nov 17, 6 18 40 PMIf you do plan to spend a day exploring Isla Mujeres, be sure to check the ferry schedule and plan accordingly. I showed up to the marina 5 minutes AFTER the ferry left because I didn’t check beforehand and had to wait another hour before being able to head back to Cancun! Luckily I’m patience and easy going so I didn’t mind, but it’s always better to plan ahead!

#OOTD: The casual romper + the SECRET to living the life of your dreams

CHEERS TO 2108 BABES! I hope everyone is sticking to their New Year resolutions and looking forward to an incredible journey ahead. 2018 is going to be THE BEST YEAR YET! One of my absolute favorite quotes that radiates positive vibes in regards to new beginnings and moving forward that I want to share with you is “The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.”
If I could sum up my 2017 in one photo, the photo below would be the one. A moment of stillness. A moment of reflection. A moment in time of manifesting how I want my life to look moving forward while appreciating my life behind me. This snapshot represents my realization of what I am capable of accomplishing and who I am destined to be. How powerful and insanely beautiful is that??

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Do you take time for yourself to reflect? Do you take time to think about what you want? Do you take time to ASK the universe for what you want? Do you take time to map out the direction you want to move while taking into consideration your deepest hopes, desires and dreams? Life is about being the greatest version of yourself you can possibly be. It’s about creating who you WANT to be, NOT “discovering” who you are supposed to be. We’re only a week into the new year…it’s not too late to take time for yourself RIGHT NOW. So go grab a journal and a pen so you can start taking notes on how to life the best life imaginable!

The funny thing about life is that sometimes the people around you wont understand your journey or what the hell you’re doing. The beautiful thing about that though, is they simply don’t need to because it’s not THEIR journey. You and ONLY YOU are responsible for what you do with your life and there is absolutely no need to answer to anyone else. How else will you gain fulfillment if you don’t go after what YOU want?
I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. Each chapter serves a purpose. So if any of you babes are struggling to get where you want to be or have absolutely no idea what direction you should be moving, JUST KEEP GOING. I know it’s easier said than done but the truth is, no one has ALL the answers even if it looks like they do. And you don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward…you just have to take the next small step!

ruins 3I’ve never really opened up about my personal life on my blog before, so for the sake of it being 2018, there’s a first time for everything! It was a really interesting year for me. I left sunny, warm Los Angeles after 14 months to move back to freezing cold New York City in the dead of winter for the sake of making my romantic relationship work and to support the person I love most in his career. That same person encouraged me to chase my dreams by launching my own online store, Moonlight Gypsy, which is something I had always wanted. I started blogging shortly after to support the launch of my store which quickly became the creative outlet in my life I had absolutely NO idea I had been missing all these years! It wasn’t until I traveled to BEAUTIFUL Turks & Caicos that I really began my journey of getting back into photography. I minored in photography in college but hadn’t picked up my DSLR in literally 8 years. It felt really damn good!
I started a new job at Victoria’s Secret.com and couldn’t be happier continuing to work in digital eCommerce fashion.

Throughout the Summer I partnered with Kristin @ThePetitePearProject to shoot content for our blogs together. We shot some awesome photos all around NYC and I quickly realized I needed direction on how to actually monetize my blog. I had run across @PangeaDreams blogger retreats on instagram which are led by successful instagram influencers who teach you how to grow your social media presence and make money through brand and hotel collaborations. When I signed up to join Pangea Dreams in Tulum, Mexico I honestly had no idea what to expect. Little did I know, the retreat helped me realize I was on the right path but the best part was connecting with other like minded blogger babes that have similar goals as me.
(My blog post about my entire experience can be found HERE along with a 10% off promo code!)

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…which brings me back to the lovely photo I mentioned above of me sitting alone on a giant cliff overlooking the Caribbean: the best representation of the most rewarding year of my life yet.
For me, 2017 was the first year in my 29 years where I feel like I finally figured out WHO I am and WHO I want to be moving forward. I realize now that anything is possible as long as you constantly remind yourself that nothing stands in your way unless you let it. You are your own cheerleader OR Debbie downer. It’s simply up to YOU to decide how you want your life to look and ultimately up to YOU to get there.
So what’s the SECRET to actually getting where you want to be?? You have to master the art of goal setting!

GOAL SETTING
Did you know if you write down your goals on paper you are 80% more likely to ACHIEVE those goals? How amazing is that??
Our biggest hopes and dreams in life are NOT accomplished overnight. It takes HARD work, dedication and staying motivated each and every day. Goal selling is the one thing you can do to get organized and focused so you’re making daily and weekly progress towards getting what you want. One baby step in the right direction is better than no steps at all and the key is to set small,  MEASURABLE and SPECIFIC tasks to achieve those goals EACH WEEK.
Do you realize that spending 2 hours a day working towards a goal = 730 hours a YEAR = 30 full days (aka an ENTIRE month)?!

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I’m choosing to share my personal goals for 2018 with you babes because I’m hoping it will help you brainstorm ideas of your own and inspire you to live the life you’ve always imagined. Hopefully it will encourage you to think about different ways to work towards toward achieving everything in your wildest dreams or at least spark some ideas!

MY 2018 PERSONAL GOALS
1. BE ORGANIZED.
Utilize a weekly planner! Every Monday I am dedicating time to create a “to-do” list for the week and hold myself accountable for what needs to get done starting with my biggest priorities. If I don’t get everything done, I re-add those “to-do” tasks to the following week.
2. STAY FOCUSED. 
Every day of the week I am choosing a specific category to spend 2 hours of my time focusing on after work. Remember that 2 hours a day = 730 hours A YEAR = an entire month! Tuesdays: Instagram strategy. Wednesday: Website updates. Thursday: Pinterest focus & inspiration.  Friday: Upcoming travel planning. Saturday: Blog focus. Sunday: Brand and hotel collaborations.
3. NETWORK. 
Research and attend blogger/influencer events in NYC to network with other travel babes! I am challenging myself to meet up with one NYC blogger babes OR while traveling once a month.
5. EXPAND CREATIVE THINKING.
Two specific goals in this realm for me include a photography class to become an expert with my DSLR camera, take a light room class to learn new editing skills and eventually learn how to shoot and edit video content! Skillshare.com anyone??
6. STICK TO A FITNESS A ROUTINE.
I struggle with staying in a consistent gym routine. (Which is ridiculous because my gym is only 32 floors below me so I have NO excuses!) After a long day at work and 2 hours of working on my website or blog each day I never really feel like going to the gym. I am holding myself accountable to do a 30 minute workout MINIMUM 4 days a week.
7. SET ASIDE TIME FOR YOURSELF.
I am challenging myself each morning to journal 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things I love about myself while setting positive intentions for the day. I’m not a morning person so I know I’ll never be able to wake up early enough before work to meditate. (Clearly needs to be a goal for 2019!) BUT I am setting a goal to meditate on the weekends at home so I can at least get it in twice a week.
8. STICK TO A HOLISTIC DIET.
After being diagnosed with Grave’s Disease (hyperthyroidism), Epstein barr (chronic mono) and lyme disease this Summer, I was put on a holistic diet plan to cut out all dairy, all refined sugar, corn, gluten (aka most carbs) and high sugar fruits (aka my FAVORITE ones). My doctor also recommended that I stick to organic fruits and veggies, organic lean meats, grass fed beef and no fish other than wild caught Alaskan salmon. Crazy right? Throughout the process I found that I have a gluten sensitivity and am also sensitive to acidic foods and coffee (YIKES…my fav!!) I have no problem sticking to eating healthy throughout the week due to intense weekly meal prepping but I am allowing myself ONE cheat meal a week!! (In all seriousness though, who would ever think of tortilla chips and tacos as a cheat meal?!)

My biggest and most challenging goal of 2018 is to be more present and appreciate the moment. “Life is a journey, not a destination.” My favorite quote of all time, probably because this is something that I personally struggle with more than anything else in life. I’m a dreamer at heart and some days I sit in my office chair at work blinding staring at my computer screen wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life or dreaming about my next vacation adventure. I guess you could call it WANDERLUST but I know I’m not the only one who does that…And no one should ever feel bad for feeling this way. It’s part of our human nature.
Ultimately life is also a journey of figuring out who you WANT to be and I accept that right now I am not quite where I want to be. It’s just important to define what that person looks like and actively pave a clear road of how to get yourself there. This year I will make it my mantra to be present and enjoy the moment. “Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination, It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.”

So…Where do you see yourself this time next year? In 3 years? What about in 5?
Would you think more about it each day if you knew you only had 365 days left to live on this beautiful planet? How would you live your life differently than you do right now?

The time is NOW. What are you waiting for??

SHOP MY LOOK:
Shein Floral Romper $15
MoonlightGypsy Straw Bow Hat $28
Moonlight Gypsy Straw Basket Bag $120
Moonlight Gypsy Fringe Earrings $14
Converse High Tops Sneakers $55

#OOTD: Luxe Velvet & Flirty Florals

VWThere are moments when I’m shopping and I run across a GORGEOUS floral print I can’t pass up! Does this happen to anyone else???
This Summer I wrote a blog post on how to style two piece sets featuring my favorite floral Free People outfit I practically lived in ALL SUMMER. The skort bottoms (shorts that look like a skirt) were my go-to piece to mix and match the entire season. I paired these bottoms with all kinds of tops in my closet – graphic tees, my favorite chambray denim shirt, crop tops and bralettes. This skort was more than necessary for super hot days in NYC and is an absolute staple in my closet for vacation, just like my trip to Mexico in November. The best part about two piece sets is that they’re basically a two in one because you can wear the matching top with denim cut offs or jeans but you can also wear the entire look together.
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For those of you that don’t know, I work in site merchandising for Victoria’s Secret. This Fall we introduced a gorgeous luxe velvet bralette that I’ve been layering under sweaters because it’s the comfiest thing EVER and it’s also so beautifully designed with chantilly lace and a cut out back detail that’s to die for. It comes in 4 colors and it’s also a steal for only $34.50!!
Style details are at the bottom of this blog post!
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Bralettes are one of my go to staple closet pieces, not just for Summer but for Fall and Winter months as well. They’re so easy to wear out as outwear with denim cut off shorts when it’s hot as hell outside but during colder months they’re super easy to layer. I love pairing this velvet lace bralette under off shoulder sweaters for peek-a-boo lace and also under my favorite flannel tee on days I don’t feel like wearing a bra. (Which happens more often than not!)
Photo Feb 23, 9 21 44 AM_previewMARGThis was definitely one of my favorite Mexico vacay looks (with my favorite accessory being a margarita of course!)

Pangea Dreams Retreat Diary: Tulum 2017

Photo Dec 06, 12 16 05 AM_previewIt’s been almost three weeks since my Pangea Dreams adventure! Since then I’ve gotten a several DMs on Instagram from other bloggers who are curious what my experience was like and if I would recommend attending a future Pangea Dream retreat.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon the Pangea Dreams Instagram page, wondering what it was was about. Colorful photos in tropical destinations with girls in bikinis and cute yoga outfits grace the tiny squares of the Pangea Dreams Instagram page. With my curiosity and strong desire to expand my knowledge of the blogging world, I reached out to several girls who were tagged in past retreat photos to ask them about their experience. All of them had the same response: “YOU HAVE TO GO!!”
If you’re a part or full time blogger, or if you’re just starting out on your blogging journey, Pangea Dreams is for you! Attending work shops each day allows you to expand your knowledge on how to build a media kit to work with brands and hotels, how to create strong content, how to pose in and arrange objects in your photos, how to edit them and most importantly, how to utilize your social media platform to build your personal brand and following.

Lucky for you, I actively journaled each night after the retreat so that you can follow along on my actual journey from start to end in order to get an in depth understanding of what my daily experience was like! Read on for more and should you decide to attend a future Pangea Dreams retreat, mention my personalized code MELANIEM10 to save 10% on your booking!

A glimpse of what you’ll learn on the retreat:

1) How to build your brand
2) How to build a media kit
3) How to collaborate with brands and hotels
4) Photography tips, tricks and the best phone apps to use
5) How to use Lightroom and edit your photos
6) How to build your instagram community and build your following on social media
 And so much more!!
Ready?! Buckle your seatbelt…
Day 1
I finally made it to Tulum! I was so relieved to have another girl attending the retreat on my flight from NYC to Cancun who had come all the way from Italy. It was nice to connect with someone immediately after landing and getting to know each other while making it through the customs line. Once through, we headed outside where we were greeted by our driver and waiting for the other 6 girls to arrive. In the meantime, we grabbed a delicious frozen margarita right outside at the airport Margaritaville bar. Hola Mexico! It was just what I needed after 6 long hours of traveling. As the other girls started to arrive one by one, we began getting to know each other and eventually all jumped into the van with our driver to head to Tulum.
I wasn’t sure at first if I was more excited or nervous at first! Was everyone going to be friendly? Would people judge me based on my blog, Instagram or website? What if their skill set was more advanced than me? Naturally, I’m not a big social person but it was refreshing to know that we were all strangers and on the same journey together, taking a leap of faith to come somewhere none of us had ever been before.
After a 2 hour drive from Cancun airport to Tulum, we arrived at the beautiful Kasa Hotel Tulum. Lush green palm trees and plants adorned the lobby along with crochet hammocks and friendly staff. I was so excited to be in a new place and was overwhelmed with the adventurous and spontaneous mindset that typically hits me whenever I’m in a new place!
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Upon arriving at the resort, our main hosts Tracy Komlos (founder of Pangea Dreams) and Lisa Homsy (Travel/Lifestyle Creative & Influencer) greeted us. We were paired up with one other girl and headed to our rooms to check out our new “home” for the week. At first I did realize that I would be sharing a room with someone else (let alone a king size bed!!) I didn’t read on the Pangea Dreams website that the retreats are shared accommodation so that completely my miss, but I was quickly distracted from being greeted by so many cute branded goodies in our room that I quickly forgot! I honestly didn’t mind too much anyway. It’s just something to be aware of so you’re not caught off guard when you arrive.
We changed into yoga pants and joined our hosts in their hotel suite for our first mediation practice. I haven’t ever attended any kind of wellness retreat before so I was excited that Nicole, a reiki master who specialized in reiki healing and meditation practices was our wellness host on the retreat. If you’re not familiar with what reiki is, it’s a Japanese stress reduction and relaxation technique that promotes healing. I have participated in guide meditation before which was definitely what I needed after a long day of traveling to help me focus on settling into a new place and put me in a relaxed mindset for the next week. During the course of the week we would be focusing each day on each one of our chakras which are each connected to our overall health and to the evolution of our consciousness.
In our first meditation practice, we focused on our root chakra which is our foundation chakra. We went around in a circle to share what we were most grateful for. At first I was a little hesitant to share in front of a bunch of new strangers, but it got a little bit easier as we each went around in a circle and took turns. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that felt slightly uncomfortable at first! After our first meditation, we headed up to the beautiful dining patio overlooking the pool to enjoy a delicious dinner. We sat down to a beautiful candle lit dinner of delicious vegan salads, fresh veggies and steak plus the most delicious corn tortillas you’ve ever tasted!
One thing that I found incredibly amazing about Tulum that I didn’t realize before visiting is how passionate the community is about sustainability. Majority of the food served at Kasa Hotel Tulum is either from the local farmer market or provided by Woolis Green Solutions, a farm dedicated to organic waste collection from restaurants and resorts around Tulum. They turn this waste into compost, feed for their animals, top soil and fertilizer for their vegetable and herb gardens. What an incredible way to appreciate mother nature and to give back!
In addition, one thing I really enjoy about the resort is that they provide all natural travel essentials for every day use including organic, non-toxic soap, oil, body wash and hair products which included ingredients like coconut, honey and lavender. They smell AMAZiNG!
DAY 2
After a really great night of sleep, I woke up on day 2 feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. I still felt a little nervous given that I still didn’t know the girls all that well. We headed to the suite for our morning ritual which was definitely more intimate than I expected. We worked on our sacral chakra today and set our intentions for the day. A lot of this workshop was focused on self love which really helped me become more comfortable in my own skin, bringing me into the right mindset for the day.
Breakfast was absolutely DELICIOUS. Fresh fruit, yummy eggs and fresh tangy, watermelon juice! I can still taste it!! (And I already can’t wait to have more tomorrow morning!) 😉
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Workshop 1 was all about building our brand. What is the overall feeling of your brand? Who is your target audience? What brands or bloggers inspire you? What are your brand goals? All of these questions were things I had thought about but never really put on paper. It was so nice to carve out time to reflect on all the work I’ve done in the last 9 months for my blog and online store, Moonlight Gypsy Shop. What message do I want to convey to my audience? What stories did I want to tell them from each photograph I post on my social media? The open discussions were AMAZING. Each of us shared our opinions, passions, curiosities and who we are striving to be. We quickly began to learn more about each other and what type of authority we wanted to become in our instagram, blogging and/or brand space.
Our hosts gave us a run down of photo tips and tricks – what apps to use, what gear was necessary and additional online resources that would help us edit our photos effectively. It was a great open forum to ask questions and learn from successful women who are doing an amazing job at building their brand and social media presence!
After the workshop, we met with our hosts for some awesome one on one time. What do I want to accomplish during my time here? What do I struggle with? What do I want to learn more about? It was really nice to feel so supported and I loved that the girls took time to understand and ask questions about what kind of direction I was looking for.
After each of our one on one sessions and a beautiful vegan lunch, we started on workshop #2 which was a wellness workshop focused on exploring our life purpose and understanding our values and fears. This excersise was INCREDIBLE for me. Each of us reflected and shared what we are most afraid of and how to let go. I didn’t expect to feel so free and liberated afterwards. I almost felt like a completely new person, like anything is possible. Nicole really helped us shift our mindset and allow our minds to see that we could do and be anything we want. All we have to do is ASK. The law of attraction is real and all we have to do is ask tell the universe what we want.
After working on ourselves, it was time to start working on our photography skills. It was pouring down rain so we decided to practice shooting around the hotel. We started in the lobby where Tracy and Lisa began teaching us how to visually lay out a photo, what details to shoot with and how to elongate our legs so we actually look taller. How did I never notice how they pose in their photos until now?! We each practiced in different areas and look some really cute photos louning in hammocks as well as group shots around the hotel. It was a really great first practice with each of us feeling a bit awkward at first and our hosts telling us how to tweak our poses, facial expressions and getting us to feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera.
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After getting shots of each of us, we enjoyed a beautiful vegan dinner and had some fun hang out time with the hosts and special guests. It was really cool to bond with everyone and feel like we were all there just hanging out, sharing funny and interesting stories. It truly felt like the perfect end to a perfect day (despite a little bit of rain!)
DAY 3

Today was the best day yet! We started with a beautiful morning meditation focused on our solar pixel chakra, sending away negative energy and bringing in positive energy both mentally and physically. Some of the exercises we did seemed silly at fist, like shaking our entire bodies in place, but I was amazed at how alive and energize I felt afterwards. If it works for Tony Robbins, it works for me!

After meditation, we had breakfast and started with our first workshop of the day: How to build your media kit. Lisa walked us through her very first media kit and helped us understand how to create our own using the same tools in order to collaborate with brands and hotels. It was really cool to see her first media kit when she had 6,000 followers vs. her current media kit with a 110k following! I appreciated that she took the time to show us her progression of media kits because it was a nice reminder that we all have to start somewhere. It helped me realize that we are each on our path to success and that every successful blogger or influencer has been excalty where I am at one point!

After our workshop, we enjoyed an amazing lunch and headed to the beach to shoot some photos. We worked on a brand collaboration with Maaji Swimwear which offers gorgeous reversible swimwear and mix and match bikinis. I was OBSESSED with the adorable printed bow headbands they gifted us! Their swimmer was so comfortable and soft. I can’t wait to check out what other patterns they offer!! Our time at the beach was a great opportunity to shoot photos of our own and practice taking photos of each other. Practice makes perfect!
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After shooting for 30 minutes or so, it started to downpour. We all rushed inside the hotel but shortly decided after 10 minutes that the storm wasn’t stopping so we should get in the ocean for a swim! After all, we were in Mexico!! I HATE getting my hair wet, but as an opportunity to bond with the other girls and push myself out of my comfort zone, I decided to worry less about running mascara and wet hair so I ran full blast into the ocean with my new best friends.
The water temperature was PERFECT. It felt so nice and was fun splashing around in the rain. Nicole had us all join hands and form a circle in the water. With the waves coming and going, each girl moved into the middle of the circle one by one and said out loud what they wanted the universe to bring them. Love, wealth, opportunity, friendship. It was definitely my favorite experience of the retreat so far! How cool is it to already feel so safe sharing my deepest desires with these awesome women and already feeling so close to them?!
After the storm died down a bit we took a few more photos and headed back to the hotel to enjoy dinner and ended the night with soft yoga poses and a nighttime meditation. It felt so good to listen to my body while stretching and clear my mind before bed. It was so relaxing that I almost fell asleep on my yoga mat!
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DAY 4
Today was SO MUCH FUN! We had a free morning to sleep in and enjoy breakfast while working on our media kits and hanging out before starting our day. It was nice to relax before such an adventurous day ahead.
We were exclusively invited by Woolis to check out their sustainable farm that provides most of the food for Kasa Hotel Tulum. The farm was located 45 minutes from the hotel, deep in the what felt like the Tulum jungle. When we pulled up, it was really cool to see all of the untouched plants and magestic trees and to observe what a sustainable lifestyle looks like. Talk about getting the inside scoop on what farm to table really means!
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The first thing we did after exploring the grounds was head to the private centote on the property which was so incredible! A cenote is a natural hole in the earth formed over time which creates a natural swimming cave underground.
It was so beautiful and the water felt absolutely amazing. I could literally have stayed there swimming for hours. After shooting some photos for the girls in the Pangea group, a couple of us stayed back to watch Tracy and Lisa shoot photos of each other in the cenote. It was really cool and super inspiring to watch them in action!Photo Dec 06, 12 13 20 AM_preview
After our cenote adventure, we got to check out the greenhouse where all of the beans, basil and tomatoes are grown. We explored different areas of the farm and sat down to a delicious lunch filled with cucumber salad, roasted sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, fresh tortilla chips and guac. What more do you need in life?!
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Being in nature is extremely refreshing for me, so the fact that we were in the middle of the jungle surrounded by gorgeous trees felt so cleansing. All I kept thinking about was how grateful in that moment I was for life to feel so simple, so unrushed and feeling at peace with my surroundings. Not long after our meal, Aliza, one of the girls on the trip who used to teach yoga hosted a yoga session just for us! The sun started going down during our yoga session and my favorite part about the entire thing was the singing of crickets that started and got louder and louder during the session as the sun was going down. It was almost as if they were singing just for us!
We hung out for a couple more hours and also  enjoyed a yummy vegan dinner and grilled pineapple with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Such a unique and authentic way to spend a day in Mexico with my Pangea babes!
DAY 5
We began our day with meditation focused on our heart and throat chakra. We focused on sharing our favorite words and setting our intentions for the day. My words for the day included create, love, adventure and fearless. I’ve struggled with being open and trusting others a lot as I’m a very guarded person so I was excited to have my one on one session with Nicole, our reiki master, after meditation and enjoying another amazing breakfast.
I shared a very personal and painful experience with her that had left a burden on my heart which I had been carrying around with me for the last 10 years. I cannot stress how amazing my time with her was! She was able to help heal me and allowed me to close a chapter that was long overdue while creating a new beginning. Happy birthday to me! I feel so lucky and grateful to have met such a beautiful soul and someone so passionate about helping others. I highly recommend using her services if you just need someone to talk to! Check out her Facebook page and contact her here.
After my time with Nicole, we moved right into our next group workshop which was about how to approach hotels and brands for collaborations. It was so interesting to hear about everyone’s experience and ask a lot of detailed questions about this subject. We also covered how to build your Instagram community through engagement and Instagram pods.

After our workshop, we headed to the Tulum Mayan Ruins which was absolutely breathtaking. Tracy and Lisa took turns taking photos of us in a couple different locations and a few different group shots throughout the ruins. Everything looked like it could been fake, right out of a movie! I genuinely felt like a couple of my photos look like I photoshopped myself right in!
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After leaving, we ran across a super cute coconut and fruit stand right outside the ruins and enjoyed delicious coconut water and fresh coconut meat. I wish I could enjoy something so simple every day!
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We headed back to the hotel for another meditiation session with Nicole who taught us how to take time to listen to our bodies given the office environment most of us work in every day. She went over essential oils and how they can naturally heal the body as opposed to using conventional drugs.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of lentil curry and rice noodles with veggies. Cant argue with a delicious meal and some #BossBabe time!
DAY 6
Today was the last day of the retreat and it was such an amazing day! We started our morning with a really cool meditation focused on on third eye/crown chakra which really allowed me to focus on connecting with my “creator”. I’ve practiced meditation occasionally, but today was the deepest meditation I’ve ever had and was truly magical. Whenever I meditate, I always find myself on a beach with lush green palm trees, bright pink Hawaiian flowers, birds chirping and the calm waves of the ocean crashing on a pristine white sandy beach. Today I was able to expand my consciousness to an even deeper place where I could feel the warm sun on my skin and smell salt water in the air. I was also able to visualize my creator which was pretty incredible. It’s amazing where mediation can take you and if you’ve never tried it before you totally should! It was the perfect start to a perfect day.

After meditation we enjoyed a quick breakfast and Tracy and Lisa both shot some fun breakfast photos of each of us individually around the pool. Check out the cute photos below! Coconut water anyone??

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After breakfast we headed to some of the cutest markets off the beaten path with gorgeous hand pained dishes, ceramic animals and Mexico inspired souvenirs. I picked out some really colorful Bohemian style Christmas ornaments with hand painted flowers, flamingos and tropical fish as well as some really fun pom pom garland. I just decorated my Christmas tree with them last week and they look so cute! Next we checked out a couple handmade dream catcher shops on the side of the road and I purchased a gorgeous cream crochet dream catcher to put on the wall above my bed. It was so beautiful and so unique to Mexico that I couldn’t pass it up!
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After a few hours of shopping, we had lunch at a resturant on the beach called The Real Coconut. They have a grain free, gluten free and dairy free menu, utilizing coconut flour for most of their dishes. They also have a ton of vegan options. We had delicious avocado toast, shrimp tostadas and for my entree, I ordered vegan tacos with veggies and plantain falafel wrapped in a coconut flour tortilla. I also needed a caffeine kick so I ordered a delicious frappachino with espresso, coconut milk, almond butter and dates. Totally copying this recipe at home by the way…It was insanely delicious!
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We spent the rest of the afternoon shooting photos for each other on the beach and walking through Tulum’s main hotel strip filled with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. There were so many cute places we stopped at with unique gifts, clothing and accessories…I was in Boho HEAVEN! We dropped by an incredible gelato place where we grabbed coconut popsicles and as I’m sitting in bed writing this journal I would give my left leg just to have another! I can’t even describe how yummy it was dipped in chocolate with shredded coconut sprinkled on the outside. YUM!
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We ended our day at Coco Tulum, a gorgeous hotel with fabulous beach views and a relaxing lounge space. The sun unfortunately had already gone down so we didn’t get to take any photos but it was a beautiful beach area. We are actually planning to wake up early tomorrow to go shoot there! After heading back to the hotel, we enjoyed our last dinner together and met to go over our assessments and give the Pangea team feedback on what we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the trip an she what we learned and how we progressed. I really appreciated this and it was incredible to hear from everyone about their progression and what they felt they had learned.
DAY 7
This morning was so weird waking up without my roomie! She had an early flight out so had to leave Tulum at 5am. I didn’t like it. =( It’s crazy that meeting a complete stranger and sharing a room and bed with them for a week can bring you to become so close in such a short period of time! Everyone met for our last breakfast together and said our goodbyes. It was a really amazing moment to reflect on the friendships we made, the confidence we built in ourselves and the motivation we gained to go out into the world and be our own #BossBabe! 

It was so fun to shoot more photos together and relax before heading to the airport. What a perfect day to end an incredible week!
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SHOULD YOU JOIN THE PANGEA TRIBE?
If you’re thinking about joining a future Pangea Dreams retreat I HIGHLY recommend it!! If you have a blog or are looking to start one, are a Digital Influencer looking to scale your following and opportunities, wondering how to collaborate with brands or hotels and are looking to bond with some really amazing women, this retreat is for you! I promise it’s worth every penny!!

The wellness aspect of the retreat was an incredible added bonus and allowed me to dig deep into who I am and where I want to go. Reflecting each day on what I’m grateful for and setting intentions for the day is something I plan to implement into my everyday life go forward.
I am so grateful and excited to share my experience with you and grow with so many amazing women. Together we can conquer this world!
Feel free to shoot me an email or DM on Instagram if you have specific or additional questions. And don’t forget to use my special 10% off code on your future Pangea retreat! MELANIEM10
View and book upcoming Pangea Dreams retreats here. Happy traveling babes!
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#OOTD: Seeing Stripes

I wrote a blog post back in Summer about one of my FAVORITE Summer trends: Two piece sets! So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw how warm it was going to be during my trip to Mexico in November and realized I could wear them again. (Despite the 40 degree weather in NYC…aka all of my shorts and sets shoved in a suitcase under my bed for the next 6 months).
I was ecstatic when I found this adorable two piece set from SheIn for only $13! The shorts are high waisted with a ruffle detail at the bottom and the top is breathable with a functional tie in the front. The fabric is so light weight and soft, PERFECT for the beach and for exploring the main hotel strip and market in Tulum, Mexico! I’m pretty sure I managed to get coconut gelato all over my #ootd via the second photo in front of this cute little turquoise tuk tuk. Regardless, it was SO WORTH IT!
Happy shopping babes!
kasa hammockSHOP MY STYLE:
SheIn Plunging Bow Tie Two Way Top & Ruffle Short Set $13
Moonlight Gypsy Flower Bomb Sunglasses $20
Moonlight Gypsy Straw Basket Tassel Circle Bag $105
Tkees ‘Foundations’ Flip Flop $50

tuk tukSHOP MY STYLE:
SheIn Plunging Bow Tie Two Way Top & Ruffle Short Set $13
Moonlight Gypsy Pom Pom Beach Tote $48
Moonlight Gypsy Fringe Earrings $14
Maaji Swimwear Headband
JustFab Juhlia Pom Pom Lace Up Sandals $19.95

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JW Marriott Cancun, Mexico

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HOLA CANCUN! After my 7 day blogger retreat in Tulum, Mexico with Pangea Dreams, I decided to stay in Cancun through the weekend because…why not?! I had visited Cancun a couple times with my family when I was younger and decided that staying in Mexico a few more days was secretly the best chance I had at avoiding NYC’s 40 degree weather. (If you already couldn’t tell, I belong on a beach and will do just about anything to avoid the cold!)

If you’re not sure where to stay in Cancun, I would recommend doing some research using hotels.com, yelp and trip advisor. After looking into a couple all inclusive resorts, I personally felt they were a little too expensive with the cheapest being about $300/person per day compared to a normal resort . If you only plan to drink on the beach and hang by the pool without eating out or exploring other areas of Mexico, an all inclusive with food and beverages being included in the price may be worth it.

Remembering we had stayed at the JW Marriott Cancun once before when I was younger, I saw it was rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on hotels.com and read a few reviews before deciding it was the best choice at $190/night. I travel quite a bit to the Victoria’s Secret corporate office in Columbus, Ohio for work and always stay in Marriott or Starwood hotels; therefore, I’m a loyal hotel rewards member.
One awesome perk of being a Marriott rewards member is that I was eligible to receive a $50 daily resort credit at the JW which applied to any food and beverages, amounting to a total cost savings of $200 for 4 nights! When factoring that in, it brought the cost down to $140/night. What a deal! If you’re not a Starwood or Marriott rewards member, you can join here and start earning points now. They also allow you to merge your points from both hotel chains which is a double bonus!

Photo Nov 18, 4 16 22 PMIn addition to the daily $50 resort credit, the images of the gorgeous infinity edge pools and being in a prime location right in the main “hotel zone” and on the beach was enough to sell me on staying at the JW Marriott Cancun. It looks pretty in photos, but is absolutely breath taking in person!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff who immediately handled all of our bags and urged us not to worry about a thing. After all, we were on vacation! We checked in around 1:30pm and luckily the resort had a clean room for us already which was nice because typically rooms aren’t ready until 3pm or later. I didn’t realize November is slow season for Mexico so the resort was pretty quiet, especially for it being a Wednesday. I wasn’t mad about it!
Photo Nov 16, 6 00 30 PMWe headed up to our room to find a gorgeous ocean view with a private balcony overlooking the ‘adults only’ infinity edge pool which was located on one side of the resort. The other side of the resort has the larger, main infinity pool with two jacuzzis and smaller kids pool. Beautiful lagoons, palm trees and lounge chairs with umbrellas adorn the pool with steps down to the beach.
Photo Nov 16, 10 11 09 AMImmediately throwing on our swimsuits, we hit the beach for several hours while enjoying margaritas and fish tacos. Nothing beats listening to the waves crash on the pristine white sand and feeling the warmth of the sun, knowing it’s cold back home. I was so impressed with how gorgeous the turquoise water is in Mexico! The JW Marriott Cancun had a bunch of lounge chairs with umbrellas on the beach as well as a fabulous wait staff who took our drink and food orders. They also have private cabanas with day beds by the pool and on the beach which you can rent for the day. Talk about feeling like a princess!
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Photo Nov 19, 11 41 31 AM.jpgFor dinner, we wanted MORE tacos (Literally all we ate the entire trip!) The JW staff recommended a restaurant called La Parrilla which was located at La Isla mall, Cancun’s main outdoor mall with tons of shops and restaurants. Upon arrival, we walked by a plethora of souvenir shops filled with hand painted ceramic gifts, sombreros and other cute Mexico inspired trinkets. The mall also has a movie theater and normal shops including Zara, Express, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and more. The backside of the mall has a bunch of restaurants and bars to eat and hang out at on the water which was a perfect way to end the first night of our trip.
The JW Marriott was less than a 2 mile walk back from the mall so we decided to walk back, but you can easily grab a cab for $10 or less. We found the hotel snack bar and mini fridge to be quadruple price so we stopped at OXXO convenience store along the way to pick up bottled water and snacks for the week. I highly recommend doing this if you’re looking to save some extra $ during your trip!
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The next day was another beach bum and pool day. After a week of workshops and exploring Tulum, all I wanted was to sleep in and work on my tan! (Can you blame me??) We headed down to Sedona Grill which is the main restaurant at the JW Marriott Cancun. They have a regular menu to order from with entrees averaging about $12, a breakfast buffet which was $22/person and the most delicious Illy coffee and fresh pressed OJ. The whole week we opted into ordering off the menu to maximize our daily $50 resort credit. I’m also not a buffet person so I tried one of their three omelet options each morning as well as gluten free toast (something I always appreciate because every restaurant should offer gluten free options!)
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After breakfast, we spent our day lounging by the pool and beach. For dinner…MORE TACOS! The hotel staff recommended a more intimate, local spot for dinner called El Fish Fritanga which easily became our favorite restaurant during our visit. If you go to Cancun, this place is a must!
I was in the mood for Mexican seafood dishes so we ordered the bacon wrapped shrimp and shrimp tacos which were absolutely phenomenal. What more could a girl ask for?! Their homemade chips, guacamole and salsas were also delicioso!
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Photo Nov 18, 5 53 06 PMPhoto Nov 16, 9 19 32 PM copyPhoto Nov 16, 9 44 50 PMOur third day in Cancun was our adventure day! We took an early morning ferry over to Isla Mujeres, the most southern most tip of Mexico. The island is only 8 miles away from Cancun which was about a 40 minute ferry ride. The island is only 5 miles long and 400 yards wide with a population of about 13,000 people. It’s so small that the easiest way to get around the island is by golf cart or scooter.
We rented a golf a golf cart for the day and trekked it around the island, stopping at a multitude of beautiful look outs, restaurants and bars. If you’re looking to experience something more remote and authentic in Mexico, I would highly recommend a day trip here! I loved the island vibes and how friendly the people who live there are. Everyone spoke pretty good English and they were happy to have tourists visit daily.
The highlight of our day trip was watching the insane sunset on the beach. Stay tuned on my next blog post about our entire trip here in more detail! Since we spent all day on the island, we got back to the JW around 10pm and headed down to Sedona Grill for dinner. What did we have you ask? More tacos of course!
Photo Nov 17, 10 31 45 AMPhoto Nov 17, 6 18 40 PMOur last day in Cancun was another loungey beach day! I attempted to blow up a giant unicorn float from my Moonlight Gypsy Shop which took up our entire hotel bathroom. Nothing’s better than drinking coconut water out of a real coconut on a unicorn float with an infinity pool beach view! We enjoyed pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris on the beach before heading over to El Fish Fritanga for a late lunch and to watch the sunset one last time.
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After lunch, we spent a couple more hours by the hotel pool and took advantage of the jacuzzi before doing some shopping at La Isla mall and heading to a late dinner at Aqua Santa. With a menu of salads, flat breads, pasta and tacos, there are plenty of options to choose from with a view of the lagoon in a beautiful, remote location. The vibes and music of the restaurant made me feel like I was in Barcelona! Such a unique experience with incredible food. This is another must to add to your Cancun list as well as their ribeye tacos!
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I could’ve easily stayed another two nights the JW and was so sad to leave! It was nice feeling top of mind by all the staff from the moment we arrived until the moment we left for the airport. The JW is currently undergoing a renovation on some of their rooms so I can’t wait to come back and see what it looks like when it’s finished! It’s only been a week, but I’m already missing those stunning sunsets, listening to the waves crash on the beach and of course all of the amazing tacos we ate. Adios Mexico!
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