Thailand is one of only three countries which I have visited more than once, and I will always carry a fondness for its culture, its food, and its incredibly gracious people. I visited Thailand a second time in September of 2022, and ended up staying in the same regions as I had in 2018: Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and Bangkok. While on Koh Samui, I had a strong desire to go to the beach, but my cousin and I had only three days to fully explore the island, so I wasn’t sure if we could squeeze in a beach day. In addition, there was a bit of rain which, pun intended, put a damper on our beach plans for the first two days.
Then on our third and final full day on Samui, the weather cleared up, and we decided to spend the day at Chaweng Noi Beach, the beach which was a stone’s throw from the resort at which we were staying. We ended up ordering lunch right on the beach, and also managed to polish off a couple of bottles of wine over the course of several hours. When we felt ourselves overheating, we decided to go into the Gulf of Thailand’s waters, and were rewarded with crystal clear water which was the temperature of a perfect bath. We had also discovered that some previous hotel patrons had left two pool floats there for other patrons to use, so we grabbed them and went back into the water, atop which we floated for a good hour or more.
Whenever I return to Thailand, and specifically find myself on Koh Samui, I plan to visit Chaweng Noi Beach to experience the same perfect beach day that I had been so fortunate to have experienced in 2022.
A nice sunset shot from my final evening in Porto, Portugal
During the spring of 2022, I traveled to Spain and Portugal on a bold solo trip which had its share of frustrations and glitches, but I was very proud of myself for enduring all the problems. Since I speak a decent amount of Spanish, Spain presented no language issues for me, but it was an entirely different story when I was in Portugal, because I only know a few Portuguese words. Nevertheless, I was bound and determined to enjoy my stay in Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto.
I stayed at a lovely AirBnB in Vila Nova de Gaia which had a beautiful view of the Douro River and the town of Porto across the river. For four days straight, I would explore the wine caves on Vila Nova de Gaia (VNdG) side, walk all over VNdG and Porto, visit the grocery store to get authentic Portuguese food items, and dine in various restaurants in VNdG. I was completely free to do whatever struck my fancy, and I loved the entire experience so much that it was hard to leave and move on to Lisbon, which I didn’t enjoy nearly as much.
On my final night in VNdG, I decided to stay out as late as possible so that I could absorb as much of the sensory stimuli as I could. That final night turned out to be extraordinary, punctuated by a fantastic meal at a riverside restaurant, some lovely vinho verde, and fun conversations with other travelers. The sun began to set around 8:20, which was incredibly late for that time of the year. Even after the sun had completely set around 8:50 pm, the sky was a very vivid cobalt blue.
Another beautiful image from that magical night…
Live music was playing at a couple of restaurants, the river water was glistening, the crisp air was refreshing, and my heart felt so full while taking it all in. That night, I honestly fell in love with VNdG and Porto, and resolved to visit again. At some point, I will definitely return to VNdG and Porto, hopefully with a romantic interest in tow, because the area is so replete with romantic energy.
One more image from one of my favorite evenings of my life…
If you are looking for an absolutely gorgeous place to visit which has plenty of fresh seafood, great wines, and interesting culture, consider visiting VNdG and Porto.
By Camille Johnson of bereaver.com
Image by Pexels
With huge growth across health and fitness markets, now is the ideal time to take advantage and enter the field with a venture of your own. Social media and e-commerce have made it cheap and easy to get your best ideas out there, so it’s wise to take stock of your skillset and find the niche in the health sector that suits you best.
- Personal Training: With an uptick in the use of virtual meeting platforms, you don’t need to have a gym membership to successfully run a personal training business. Start by creating a website that allows clients to view your availability and schedule appointments with you. You can also offer nutrition plans and personalized workouts that will show them the value you bring to their efforts toward a healthy lifestyle.
- Health Products Store: Suppliers like Amazon have made it easy to start an online store without manufacturing any products yourself. With some research into which products are most in-demand, you can create a website that makes the purchasing process simple for health enthusiasts.
- Content Creation: Gaining an online following can open the door to sponsorships and paid partnerships. You can become a health influencer by posting satisfying content about meal preps, posting your workouts, and offering advice to your subscribers. It may also be helpful to live stream some of your content so you can engage with your audience in real time and gain a more comprehensive understanding of what they are looking for.
Starting Your Business
Structure is a crucial part of any business, so it’s imperative to begin your efforts with a well-thought-out business plan. Be sure to include pertinent details such as your intention for day-to-day operations and the relevant staffing requirements.
You’ll also need to ensure that you register your business with an appropriate structure according to your plans for growth, tax preferences, and hopes for attracting investors. A limited liability company, or LLC, is a great option for most first-time entrepreneurs, as it protects your personal assets from being liable in your business’s finances and offers tax advantages. You can learn how to start an LLC by reading up online, but it’s helpful to work with a service that ensures your paperwork is filed correctly so you’re legally compliant with the state.
Avoid taking on unnecessary costs while you’re getting started, as this will only make it more difficult to turn a profit and may leave you with unnecessary debt. Be sure to keep thorough records of business activity and a budget for expenditure. It may be helpful to contract the services of a professional lawyer or accountant who will help ensure that your business remains fully compliant with legislation.
Growing Your Business
Marketing is one of the most important aspects of growing a business, so it’s vital to monitor your marketing efforts and keep track of which strategies are bringing in the most revenue. Thankfully, there are a number of free online tools you can take advantage of to get started.
Starting a blog is also a great way to make sales as you gain the interest of readers. You could review specific products that are currently high in demand and compare them to similar offerings on the market. This will make it easier for customers to trust the quality of the brand and feel more confident in finalizing a purchase.
You likely want to highlight achievements in your background on your blog, and offering a curriculum vitae is a great way to do that. You can use a template for a CV to customize your own online. You can put together an eye-catching and informative document for your potential customers.
Don’t be afraid to partner with other businesses and run social media campaigns and competitions that will increase your following and make potential customers aware of your offerings.
As you expand your business, it’s important to develop situational ePHI awareness to guard against potential data compromises. This is a necessity if your business interacts with protected medical data. Traditional cybersecurity may not be enough, so seek out solutions designed for healthcare.
There is an abundance of opportunities to start a successful health-based business without putting up too much money upfront. You simply need to find a solution that best fits your skills and interests, highlight your qualifications, and be ready to take operations online.
For nutrition and fitness products, figure contest prep, and personal training, visit StaceyNaito.com today!
Anyone who loves gorgeous beach destinations should put the Maldives on their list of must-visit island paradises, because it will not disappoint. A beach lover myself, I had spent decades fantasizing about traveling to the Maldives before making that dream come to fruition in 2018. I was fortunate to have found an excellent package deal for travel to Nalaguraidoo, also known as Sun Island, and ended up spending 6 days and 5 nights surrounded by some of the most captivating azure waters and white coral sand beaches I had ever seen in my life.
Before I dive into the morning experiences I had on Nalaguraidoo, I will mention two negative aspects regarding the Maldives, the first being that making the trek to that part of the world is abysmally lengthy. Between the three planes, the bus, and the speedboat we were transported on, the total travel time (mind you, this does NOT include the time spent on layovers, which added another 14 hours) was almost 24 hours. By the time we were on that final speedboat ride which took us to Nalaguraidoo, we couldn’t remember what day it was, and the fact that it was almost pitch black while on that boat didn’t help with our awareness of time.
The other negative feature of the Maldives was that there was absolutely no local culture to be found. The island was teeming with tourists, mostly from England, Germany, and Australia. The workers on the island were from neighboring India and Sri Lanka, and they were all lovely people, but none were Maldivian.
Despite those negatives, the time I spent on Nalaguraidoo was absolutely magical. I stayed in a villa which was right near the water, and upon exiting my villa, I would be rewarded with the following view:
The climate was almost egregiously humid and hot, but I could always very easily submerge myself in the clean water of the Indian Ocean, which was replete with nurse sharks and a dazzling assortment of different species of fish. The temperature of the water was about the same as our body temperature, incredibly inviting and relaxing. The fact that I could spend five mornings of my life waking up to such conditions was absolutely wonderful.
I traveled to Budapest, Hungary in September 2014 and spent a week taking in the sights, struggling with the Hungarian language, and consuming Hungarian cuisine. I was very fortunate to have connected with two photographers in Budapest shortly before I left the U.S., and I was able to schedule photo shoots with both. The first photographer was extremely hospitable and took me for a city tour of Budapest the day before our planned shoot. The next day, I got even more of a tour of the city since the photographer and his girlfriend were so enthusiastic about showing me certain parts of the city.
About midway through my stay in Budapest, I shot for an entire day with the second photographer, and though I became a bit fatigued after traveling and shooting all over Pest side, I looked forward to shooting on Buda side as well. We didn’t reach Buda side until early evening, and since the temperature was starting to drop, I quickly changed into my final look for the last set of the day, a black minidress with black heels. The photographer set up in such a way that Hungarian Parliament would be in the background of each image in the set. If you haven’t seen the Hungarian Parliament building, it is an architectural marvel, and it is especially dazzling at night because the entire building is illuminated.
The photographer asked me to stand near the Danube River so that he could check exposure and framing, so I walked over to the designated spot. As soon as I did so, a very fine rain mist started falling, and though I was in a sleeveless minidress, the drizzle and the air felt refreshing. We began shooting, and the church which the photographer was standing in front of chimed 7 times, marking the 7 o’clock hour. I will never forget the church chimes, the light rain, the crisp air, and the glow of the illuminated Hungarian Parliament building. It was a beautiful, magical moment.
The first weekend in July of 2013 was one of the most meaningful and thrilling weekends I have ever experienced, and strangely, I had a gut feeling that the events of that weekend would turn out that way. I was returning to an NPC (National Physique Committee) Pro-Qualifying event at which I had competed for three consecutive prior years, and I was bound and determined to bring my best physique ever to that show for my fourth run. It was no easy task, since I was spending 4 to 5 hours daily at the gym, enduring double training sessions, double cardio, and struggling to fit in TEN mini-meals throughout each day to fuel my body. To top it off, I had been dumped by my boyfriend three months prior, and he was still living in my house with me, which added more strain on my contest prep.
Nevertheless, when I arrived at the host hotel in Teaneck, NJ, I just felt different, as if I had already won an IFBB Pro Card, and I was oddly relaxed. Even my friends noticed that I seemed different, and they became excited at the prospect of me most likely going Pro at the NPC Team Universe event that weekend. I also made a last minute change with my posing suit, simply because the tangerine hue of a new suit which had been custom made for me resonated more than the pale blue suit I had originally planned to wear. As soon as I tried on the orange suit, I could see that it fit me better, and somehow imparted a glow which popped against my competition spray tan.
Normally I would feel a bit jittery right before stepping onstage at any show, but on Friday, July 5th, 2013, I felt completely calm as I glided onto the stage. It was as if I was dancing onstage, rather than hitting mandatory poses for the judges. When I got first callout, was placed in the center of the lineup and remained there, I just knew that I would indeed earn my Pro Card at this event. The first time I stepped on that stage, I was in the 40+ age group, height class B, and I nailed that class. Then I returned to the stage moments later for the 35+ age group, height class B, and once again got first callout and remained in the center of that lineup. By the time I walked onstage for Open Bikini height class D, I was already floating with joy, but I got yet another treat by making first callout.
Once prejudging was over, I knew I had to remain on task with my food intake and also get lots of rest, because although I believed I had locked in a first place finish, I wouldn’t know until the next day, when we would all return onstage for finals. I spent part of the late afternoon and evening hanging out with my good friends, and made sure to avoid contact with anyone (particularly my ex-boyfriend) who might distract or upset me. My performance onstage that day was the culmination of five years in the competitive bodybuilding world, defined by extreme sacrifices and hard work. I wasn’t about to mess this up!
The next day, July 6th, the 40+ bikini competitors hit their individual routines, and when height class B was up, I heard the MC announce the 5th place winner (not me), then the 4th place winner (not me), the 3rd place winner (not me), and then quickly announce the 2nd place winner, followed by my name as the 1st place finisher. I had FINALLY WON MY PRO CARD!
All I needed was one first place finish in any of the three classes in which I was competing in order to become an IFBB Pro, so when I won first place in 40+ B, my heart burst with gratitude, because I had officially attained IFBB Pro status. When I was called back out for the Overall title for 40+, I didn’t know whether I would win that title as well, so when I did in fact win the Overall title, it was icing on the cake. I also ended up winning First Place in 35+ class B, and because I was already awarded Pro Status when I swept the 40+ Bikini Class, IFBB Pro Status was awarded to the 2nd place finisher in our lineup. Finally, I won 4th place in Open Bikini height class D, which was an incredible feat for me at 3 days shy of my 47th birthday.
That weekend remains one of my proudest snippets of time.
Even though I consider Hawaii my second home, I have always been most familiar with Oahu, since my grandparents had settled there from Japan and raised a large family. Some of my relatives migrated to the Big Island, Kauai, and Molokai, so I ended up visiting those islands as well. The one island which I was extremely curious about was Maui, but since none of my relatives had moved to that island, I never had a reason to visit.
Then in June of 2007, the guy I had been seeing for close to a year and I vacationed on Maui for a little over a week, and in that small period of time, I fell in love with the island. The ocean was clean and warm, the local restaurants served incredible food, the scenery was beautiful, and we enjoyed daily rainbows over the rental property we booked. Every day on Maui was magical and held new discoveries, such as the afternoon when we decided to buy some pineapple from a roadside vendor and were rewarded with the sweetest, most delicious pineapple I had ever tasted.
On one particular day we jumped into our rental car and decided to explore the south border of the island. We found ourselves in Kihei, a casual, laid-back beachfront town with many turnoff points which gave us access to the beach. We settled on a small cove and set up our towels and snack foods for a nice afternoon, and because it was a small, hidden area, there was no one else on that stretch of beach with us. After we had been there for a couple of hours, my boyfriend remarked, “Hey! I saw a dorsal fin out there! I wonder if that’s a shark or a dolphin?” I told him I wasn’t about to swim out to the spot where he spotted the fin, and the next moment, he was rushing into the water so that he could determine what sea creature he had seen,
As soon as Dameon swam out to the area where he saw the fin, he dove underwater and I didn’t see him for close to a minute. He then popped his head up and yelled, “Get your ass in here, and bring the underwater camera! There’s a bunch of dolphins out here!” I grabbed the underwater camera, making sure the strap was secure around my wrist, and jumped into the water. Once I reached Dameon, he told me to go underwater and check out our new buddies. We were in the midst of a pod of dolphins, about 14 or 15 of them, including a couple of youngsters. Two of the large adult males kept bumping up against me and pushing me around in the water.
We ended up swimming with the dolphins for close to 10 minutes, alternately bobbing on the surface and diving down so that we could swim along these playful creatures. Dameon made sure to take numerous shots of the dolphins, which we developed that same day. We began to get tired of swimming, since we were relatively far out and in deep water, so we swam back to shore. Within a few minutes, the dolphins headed southeast, but not before jumping out of the water numerous times as if to say, thanks guys, we had fun!
Image via Pexels
As a woman creator, it’s easy to get bogged down by the daily grind. We’re constantly juggling work, family, and social obligations, and it can be tough to find time for ourselves. However, it’s essential to remember that our health should always be a priority. Today, Dr. Stacey Naito shares some tips on how to overcome the hustle and bustle and boost your overall wellness!
(Post written by Julia Merrill of Befriendyourdoc.org
One of the best ways to improve your overall wellness is to focus on healthy eating. Medical News Today points out that eating nutritious foods will give you more energy and help you keep your mental focus sharp. You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet overnight; just try to make small changes, like substituting fruits and vegetables for processed snacks. You’ll be surprised at how much difference it can make in your overall health.
Move Your Body
Exercise is also crucial for maintaining your health, and it’s essential to get at least 30 minutes of movement every day. If you’re short on time, try breaking up your exercise into shorter 10-minute increments throughout the day. Healthline notes that taking a brisk walk or going for a light jog are excellent options to help relieve stress and improve your overall fitness level.
Sometimes, the best way to improve our wellness is to simplify our lives by eliminating things that cause us stress. If your job is causing you more anxiety than enjoyment, it may be time to start looking for something new.
Fortunately, plenty of online resources can help you create a stellar resume and find the perfect career opportunity. For example, you can use a free resume template and customize it to showcase your science fiction/fantasy work in a professional light. You can also use a free or low-cost website builder to create a stellar portfolio.
If you feel like you could use an educational upgrade before you reenter the business world, you could always go back to school and earn a bachelor’s degree in business. That will definitely open doors and give you a massive advantage over the competition. Also, thanks to the flexibility of online learning platforms, you can proceed at your own pace, from the comfort of your home, without having to take too much time off.
Start a Company
Starting a business can also be a great way to improve your overall health and well-being. When you’re your own boss, you have the flexibility to design a work schedule that works for you. You can also take advantage of tax breaks and other benefits of owning your own business. Here are a few tips for launching a company out of your creative passion:
- Find a niche: When starting a business, it’s essential to find a niche market. This will help you focus your marketing efforts and connect with potential customers who are interested in what you have to offer.
- Do your research: Before starting any business, it’s important to do your research and make sure you have a solid plan in place. This includes everything from your business model to your target market.
- Select a legal structure: One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when starting a business is selecting a legal structure. This will determine things like how you file your taxes and how much liability protection you have. Many entrepreneurs form an LLC because of the liability protection and tax flexibility. Keep in mind that you can establish an LLC through an online service, but you’ll want to research which formation service is the best fit for you.
- Get insured: Insurance is another important consideration when starting a business. Make sure you have the proper coverage in place to protect yourself and your business from potential.
- Create a marketing plan: Once you have your niche and business plan in place, it’s time to start marketing your company. There are many ways to market your business, including online advertising, social media, and traditional methods like print or television ads.
Making small changes in your daily routine can have a big impact on your overall health and well-being. Remember to focus on healthy eating, exercise, and reducing stressors in your life. If you’re not happy with your current career situation, don’t be afraid to make a change. And if you’ve ever thought about starting your own business, now may be the perfect time to take the plunge!
Dr. Stacey Naito is an artist, as well as a board-certified family practice physician. Scroll down to leave a reply!
Despite the fact that I had wanted to become a doctor from the time I was eight years old, the idea of going through grueling training intimidated me, so I kept putting off that goal. It was actually quite rewarding and fulfilling for me to zigzag through a number of different jobs (the most prominent were personal trainer, personal assistant to a famous stand-up comic, and optometric technician) after I graduated from college. Because I allowed myself some wiggle room, I finally came full circle and realized that the most fulfilling career choice for me would be in medicine. After prepping, taking the MCAT, and applying to medical school, I was accepted and spent the next four years studying the discipline which had attracted me so much as a child.
The day of my graduation from medical school was quite special, partly because my mother was beaming from ear to ear, my then-husband was excited for me, and my father actually made a point of attending the event. I will never forget my mom placing the Kelly green and white graduation hood (the color combo for medicine) over my head and across my back, signifying my graduation from medical school, It was indeed one of the most meaningful and special moments in my entire life.