Save $$$ On Your Next Vacation: The Benefits Beyond Groceries At BJ’s Wholesale Club

mountain road travel

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of BJ’s Wholesale Club and all opinions are 100% my own.

I’ve been shopping at BJ’s for about three months now and I’ve quickly become a fan. I love that they have a wide selection of organic food and my kids had a ball with some of the summer toys we found in the center of the store. (My kids call it the “fun part.”)

The store continues to surprise me because I didn’t know what all your BJ’s membership offers (other than great prices on food and gas). Paying $40 for the year is already a great deal because I’m pretty sure I saved at least that amount in my first two trips. But with the additional savings, I’m inching closer and closer to saying good-bye to my other wholesale club memberships.

I’m in the midst of planning my 30th birthday celebration (I’m a Thanksgiving baby!) and I plan on heading to New Orleans! So I’m very excited to see that I can save a whole bunch of money (music to my ears) while putting my BJ’s membership to good use:


It always amazes me how many different ways you can save on a hotel room. For many travelers, this might be the most expensive part of your stay, particularly if you’re staying more than one night. BJ’s offers an easy to use hotel search to get the lowest prices PLUS an up to $200 rebate depending on how many nights you book. I’ve been looking all over at New Orleans hotel prices and yup, BJ’s Travel was right in line. Once the rebate is factored in, they actually have you coming out ahead.

Car Rentals

Look at all these deals. Free weekends, free upgrades, 25% off. It all sounds amazing to me! The beauty is you can get these offers with all the major rental companies — Enterprise, Alamo, Hertz, Avis, Budget, Dollar and National — and you’ll drive away happy.


I went on my first (and so far only *cries*) cruise last year and I had an amazing time. I know people teasingly say that only old people enjoy cruising but what’s not to love? Seeing different islands/ports, eating as much good food as you want, taking advantage of cool activities packed into one space. It’s worthwhile, trust me. BJ’s Travel also offers great discounts and deals for each of the major cruise lines — Carnival, Royal Carribean, Princess, Celebrity and Norwegian. Ready to sail?

What are some of the ways you can save money on your vacations?

Confession: I’m Scared Every Day


Last December, I was in the biggest funk of my life. If I wasn’t actively doing something with my kids, I was in the bed, attempting to sleep the day away.

It hit me that the “sadness” I was feeling was actually depression and it stemmed from a number of things and past traumas that I never quite worked through. After seeing a therapist and making strides to get better, I decided that I was going to make 2015 the best year ever.

And I have. I launched my Self-Care Retreat, published a new book, hit a professional milestone that I can’t wait to share with you in the upcoming weeks, and much more.

But I’d be lying if I said that I’m always confident. I’m not. Most days I have to give myself pep talks and breathe slowly through my fears. Because it can be terrifying when you are “living your life like it’s golden.”

So how do you make it through your doubts–those voices that tell you that you can’t have what you want? Here’s what I’d advise:

  • Remember your gifts. You have a very certain set of talents that you can tap into to achieve whatever goal you have. Are you creative? Use that. Are you talkative? Use that. Are you thoughtful? Yes, use it! Everything you need to realize your dreams is already within arms’ reach.
  • Breathe slowly. It’s easy to let those doubts overpower your confidence, to make you feel like maaaaybe you ain’t cut out for this after all. But just breathe deep and talk back to those voices. They don’t know you. You got this.
  • Take one action to shut up your inner critic. The longer you wait and listen to the doubts, the more power that inner critic is going to have. Action is the enemy of fear.

Trust me, there are lots of days when I don’t feel so confident and I go running to my husband and girlfriends for support. And in the meantime, I follow those three steps above and I go for it. The only thing you have to lose is your fear. And isn’t that the point?

#SmashYourGoals – 5 Steps To Successful Goal Setting (Part 5 – Reflect)

smash your goals series

You’re reading my five-part goal setting series to help you #SmashYourGoals. Read the other four tips here.

1) Determine what YOU want

2) Visualization

3) Break your goals into bite-sized chunks

4) Do the damn work

5) Assess + Celebrate

So you did some soul searching, you wrote down your goals, you made those goals manageable, then you rolled up your sleeves and went to work.

Now what?

Now, you look at what you’ve done. What went well? What do you need to improve? If you set a fitness goal, for example, ask yourself:

  • How often did I actually work out versus how much did I anticipate working out?
  • Did I eat the things I was supposed to or did I cheat a little?
  • Would it have been easier to do with a workout buddy?
  • Was the weather a factor?

You have to be completely honest with yourself. And you have to be willing to admit that in some areas you failed. What’s really important is that you celebrate whatever you did accomplish. Say you wanted to lose 10 pounds but you lost 5. That’s still fantastic news.

Say you wanted to save $500 in your savings accounts, but only saved $475. That’s still progress. Say you wanted to go out for a run four times a week but you made it twice a week. That’s progress.

One thing we don’t do enough is celebrating ourselves. How hard you work and how dedicated and motivated you are in pursuit of your goals. So go on, raise a glass, because you earned it, my dear.

Missed a step in the series. Get the whole thing here.

#SmashYourGoals – 5 Steps To Successful Goal Setting (Part 4 – Do The Damn Work))

smash your goals series

You’re reading my five-part goal setting series to help you #SmashYourGoals. Read the other four tips here.

1) Determine what YOU want

2) Visualization

3) Break your goals into reasonable steps

4) Do the work!

This is the simplest and most basic step of all five. It’s time to stop fooling around, to stop procrastinating, and just DO THE $%@$@%# WORK.

Of course, this is where most people get stuck. Because they’ve thought about what they want to do, they’ve made plans for it, they’ve probably told their friends for accountability. But yet, the goal is unmet because they haven’t done the work.

So if this is the step that you usually get stuck on, let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you want it more than you are afraid of it?
  • Would you still be satisfied if this goal is never met? (If yes, sounds like someone needs to go back to step 1.)
  • If you are in the same place a year from now, will you be kicking yourself that you gave up?
  • What is your biggest obstacle in achieving this goal? Does any part of it depend on someone else’s actions? How will you navigate that?
  • Will this goal take longer than you originally anticipated? Are you okay with that?
  • How will reaching this goal benefit you personally, personally, spiritually, mentally? What is in it for YOU?

As I said in an earlier post, you have to learn how to be accountable to yourself. Accountability partners are great, but you can’t live a successful life if you are more concerned with letting down others than you are with disappointing yourself.

Next up: How’d you do?

#SmashYourGoals – 5 Steps To Successful Goal Setting (Part 3 – Baby Steps)

smash your goals series

You’re reading my five-part goal setting series to help you #SmashYourGoals. Read the other four tips here.

1) Determine what YOU want

2) Visualization

3) Break your goals into bite-sized chunks

Everyone gives this advice but don’t nobody listen.

We live in a “dream BIG” culture. Everyone wants to reach for the stars, to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone, to do things they never imagined.

But you can get paralyzed when you’re dreaming so big that you don’t know what comes first or when to make a move or how to even get started in the first place.

Take my upcoming retreat for example. How do you go from thinking about an event that draws women from all over the country to actually planning and executing that vision? I was stuck on how to go about it since I’ve never done anything on this scale before.

So I had to break it up into mini goals I could handle.

First? I got a project manager, someone who could guide me along the path.

Second, I surveyed potential attendees who I could make sure my goals for the event aligned with theirs.

Third, I researched locations and optimal times of year to hold the retreat.

Suddenly, by taking my big goal and creating smaller, more manageable goals, I was able to inch closer and closer to my final goal.

And that’s all this step is. Giving yourself smaller, completely doable goals that will add up to you doing the thing you always wanted.

For those of you in school, you might break your “I want to graduate” goal into semester-long goals:

  • Find a study partner for Chemistry
  • Go to the library twice a week to work on capstone project
  • Meet with my advisor once per semester

Planning small to dream big is how you avoid get paralyzed and continue to move forward toward your goals.

Next up: Roll up your sleeves

Self-care Retreat page ad

#SmashYourGoals – 5 Steps To Successful Goal Setting (Part 2 – Visualization)

smash your goals series

You’re reading my five-part goal setting series to help you #SmashYourGoals. Read the other four tips here.

1) Determine what YOU want

2) Visualization

The simplest method of visualization is to just Grab your Smash Your Goals worksheet and a pencil and get to work. You can also do a vision board or some other method that makes your goals clear and plain to you.

Researchers have found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. There’s something about making that small commitment that leads to bigger commitments.

Here’s two reasons I recommend you get your goals out of your head and onto paper:

1) It serves as a reminder. I currently have my July goals hanging up on a clipboard next to my desk. If I turn to the left at any point during the day, boom, there it is. I can’t “forget” that oh, yeah, I was supposed to write three posts for this blog this week.

2) It keeps you accountable to you. One day I realized that I was not afraid of myself. I had no fear of disappointing myself. Say your boss came up to you on July 1st and said, “I need you to read three books this month.” Even if you forgot to do it all month, come July 28 or 29 you’d be nose-deep in a book, trying to hit the deadline. Even if the goal wasn’t important to you, you’d do it because you need your boss to see that you are reliable. But how often do we not hold ourselves to the same standard? Because we’re the ones making the goals, we’re also the ones who can lax our standards and that leaves us going nowhere. We have to learn to be accountable to ourselves before we can see any type of success.

Next up: Take a bite outta your goals.


#SmashYourGoals – 5 Steps To Successful Goal Setting (Part 1)

smash your goals series
You’re reading my five-part goal setting series to help you #SmashYourGoals. Read the other four tips here.

1) Determine what YOU want

Not what your parents want. Not what you think you should want because of what society tells you. Not what you’ve wanted since you were a child because maybe those interests have shifted.

Get clear on one thing. What do YOU want?

This was the hardest step for me because for so longer I operated according to everyone else’s desires. I went to college because that was what was expected of me. I took the first job offered to me because I needed money. I stayed at that job for too long because that was expected.

But once I got really clear on what I wanted my life to look like (lots of travel and good food and time with my kids), I could get started on making it so.

If you find that you usually set goals but rarely if ever reach them, it might be because you’re not 100% in love with them. You’re killing yourself trying to make it through this nursing program but secretly you hate it. You’re trying to get a promotion at work but you actually like your current job better than the job above you. You’re trying to lose 10 pounds so you can wear a bikini at the beach, but for whose benefit is that?

When you’re really living for yourself, your goals are urgent. You’re hungry. You want it so bad you can taste it.

So take a few moments to discover what YOU want:

  • What do you want your life to look like?
  • What puts a smile on your face?
  • What are some of those “should dos” that you can eliminate from your list so you can focus more on the things you want to do?
  • In five years, where do you want to be?

Next up: The power of visualizing.

When Childhood Memories Come Full Circle

This is a sponsored post by Tootsie Pops and these opinions are 100% my own.

It’s a widely accepted fact that old people in church always have “the candy”—usually the peppermint, the butterscotch and that weird strawberry hard candy that I rarely, if ever, see in the stores. (I think it just materializes in their pockets once they hit a certain age.)

As a child, I remember walking into church with my parents and instantly being surrounded by old people who wanted to share their affection for me with candy.

“Go on, you can have one,” my mother would say as I pondered which piece of candy I’d take from an old woman’s outstretched palm. I was a lollipop kid (Tootsie Pops were my favorite), but since most of the older members only carried around the Big Three, I would usually pick peppermint and I’d fiddle with the wrapper all through the church service.

Six-year-old me, ready for some candy

Six-year-old me, ready for some candy

Growing up in the AME church, the weekly church service could range from 90 minutes (ha!) or over two hours on an average week. And if you count Christmas or Easter service? The sun would rise and set before you were through.

Without that little bit of candy to help regulate your blood sugar, who knows how many folks would have been passed out in the pews? I wondered if maybe the older people weren’t just happy to see us, but they also knew that we were in for a long sermon and that moment when we were ready to move on to lunch.

On occasion, I could get a Tootsie Pop out of my mom’s purse and use the little bit of sugar as energy to get us home where we would have a proper late lunch/early dinner. It was always a special day when that happened, because usually my mom didn’t carry too much candy on her person. It felt like I had won the lottery!

The best part was licking the lollipop on and on, knowing I’d get my reward as soon as I made it to the center. Like anyone, there were a few times I couldn’t resist and had to bite through.

Now that I’ve got kids of my own, I appreciate those older members who (still!) offer my kids candy. They usually go for peppermint (just like mom!).

And if they happen to find a Tootsie Pop in my purse, it is a very, very special day indeed.

My two loves with a Tootsie Pop

What memories from your childhood do you see your children repeating?


Learning The Secret To Worrying Less [You Can Too!]


When I finally dragged myself to the therapist after a near-decade of feeling anxious and stressed with a few dips in depression, I was nervous.

I wasn’t nervous that she’d try to diagnose me with something—in fact, I welcomed a name for what I had been feeling, because at least then I’d be able to address it with the proper tools and knowledge.

No, I was nervous because I was scared that I would need to rely on someone, other than myself, to get through the difficult parts. I already knew my coping skills were shit, and I’d need someone to hold me by the hand and teach me how to breathe deep and go with the wave, instead of fighting against it.

But I didn’t want to that hand-holding to last forever. I wanted to become strong enough and resilient enough that the next time anxiety or depression came around, I would have options. I would understand what was happening. I could pull myself out of it.

Those three months I spent in therapy were life-changing. Because (so far) I’ve been able to do exactly what I hoped I would. I’m stronger.  And I’m resilient.

One of the greatest sessions we had revolved around the distinction between “worrying” and “having problems.”

When I’m in the midst of an anxiety attack, it becomes hard to focus. I can’t hear myself anymore. All I can hear is the sound of confusion and fear and overwhelmedness (is that a word? it should be).

But in one session, my therapist gave me tools to help me figure out “what’s next” when I feel like I can’t cope.

“Worrying,” she told me, “is inherently stressful. It’s thinking about all the whos and whats and hows that could go wrong and it robs you of energy.”

“Exactly,” I told her. “And I feel like I’m a worrier by nature. I’m the Queen of Worst Case Scenario.”

She chuckled a bit and nodded. “A lot of us are. But really, the best thing we can do is practice the difference between worry and problems.”

See, we think they are the same thing. That we are worried about our problems. But if we separate the two, we begin to get our power back. Worries are often irrational, but problems have solutions. Sometimes you don’t need to “destress.” Sometimes you just need to problem solve.

A simple example:

Worrying is drowning in two feet of water because you “can’t swim.”

Problem-solving is just standing up because, hello, you don’t need to swim. You can just stand.

Once I began to put that into practice, I began to feel lighter. But not only that, I felt more powerful. As it turns out, I’m the Queen of Worst Case Scenario but I am also a fantastic problem solver.

"Know the diff between worry + problems. Worries are often irrational, but problems have solutions." Read more at

This doesn’t mean that nothing stresses me out anymore or I don’t have anxiety attacks or everything is awesome. They still come and I still have to remember to put everything I’ve learned into practice. I’m still…learning.

But life is better on this side of the mountain. Even if there are more hills to climb, I made it over the biggest one.


Are You Ready To #SmashYourGoals With Me?

At the end of 2014, I was worn out. I was depressed, I was overwhelmed with anxiety and I spent most of December in bed.

As I prepared for the clock to strike midnight and usher in 2015, I decided that THIS YEAR would be different. No more waiting and wishing and hoping the things I didn’t like about my life would magically change.

Nope, this would be the year that I put in the work, got serious about my goals and worked at creating the life I knew I deserved. (Meaning: greater cashflow, more quality time with the family, more freedom and flexibility in my professional life and more opportunities to travel and grow in my hobbies.)

And wouldn’t you know it? I could not be happier with my progress. I’m smashing my income goals (look for details on that soon—I want to help you get financially free too!), I’ve taken three family vacations so far this year and I feel re-energized about my career.

How did I make all this “magic” happen?

Simple. I take a few minutes at the beginning of every month and I answer a few questions:

  • What do I want this month to look like? To feel like?
  • What do I need to improve?
  • What do I want to accomplish this month? How am I going to do that?

And every month that I do this exercise, it never fails that I end the month on a high from completing everything I set out to do.I usually write this on a page in my notebook, but I pulled together a quick + easy worksheet for you to use and #SmashYourGoals with me.

If you’re already on my mailing list, guess what? The worksheet is already in your inbox. But if you’re not connected with me, just drop your email in the box below and you’ll receive the worksheet in your inbox within the hour!

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