How to Take a Vacation (Without Feeling Guilty About It)

Happy African American Woman Dancing on Beach One thing I hear a lot from the hard-working women in our community is how difficult it is to take a vacation. Many of us already work long hours at work or in our business, yet for some reason have trouble taking a break! If it’s been years since you’ve given yourself the gift of a proper vacation, read on for some tips to help you step away from the laptop or plot your much-needed escape from the cubicle.

Schedule Time Off from Work Far in Advance

The best way to ensure you take your vacation time is to sit down at the beginning of the year and map out the times you already know you want off. It might be useful to think in terms of seasons. Plan to take some time off during the spring, summer, winter, etc. For instance, no matter where I worked, I always took off from my job for a few days every spring so that I could attend the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville. And for the last 3 years in my business, I’ve taken off at least one full month for vacation at some point during the year for travel!

Most people want to spend extended time with their families during various holidays, so you can plan around those as well. If you’re taking time off from your business, block off time in your calendar for the dates you want to get your R&R. If you’re taking time off from your job, make sure you submit your leave request as FAR in advance as possible so your supervisor can approve it in a timely manner. That way, you can work together to make arrangements for other staff or an assistant to cover your responsibilities and take care of clients during your time away, if necessary.

Continue Reading

Travel Diary: 4 Ways to Enjoy Honolulu on a Budget

Sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park

Sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park!

I’ve been in Hawaii (on the island of Oahu) for about a month now, and I wanted to share a quick video I made a few weeks ago as I was starting my morning here in Honolulu! This is a little of what my day looks like right now, from where I’m living to where I go to get work done.

While it’s relatively expensive to live here, I’ve learned a lot about how to enjoy this tropical paradise without spending a ton of money all the time. Some of the best ways to enjoy Honolulu on a budget are to secure affordable accommodations, fill up on cheap local eats, use low-cost transportation and enjoy inexpensive entertainment. Here is my short list of options for each!

Continue Reading

10 Things That Happen When You Decide to Get Rid Of All Your Stuff and Move to Hawaii

Car Before and After

On the left is when I bought my car 6 years ago. On the right is me last weekend, on the day I sold it!

In just a few days, I’ll finally be making the big move I’ve been talking about for months. This weekend, I’ll be getting on a plane to Honolulu, Hawaii (on the island of Oahu) with nothing but a backpack, a carry-on suitcase and a whole lot of trust in the universe that now is the right time. In many ways, relocating to Hawaii feels like the final stage of my journey to become location-independent. After two years of downsizing, traveling, building my business and experimenting with different living situations, I’ve achieved the possibility of being able to live and work from anywhere in the world. Something tells me that this move is only the beginning of another year of personal and professional adventure!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But I’m feeling the fear and moving anyway. Here are a few other things that have happened ever since I made the choice to move to my ideal location. If you decide to embark on your own big move, you might experience some of them, too.

Continue Reading

How to Become a Minimalist: 4 Tips for Downsizing and Living with Less (VIDEO)

In today’s video post, I share some of my best tips from my journey to become a minimalist. I outline four specific action steps you can take to start living with less. By putting the concept of minimalism to work in your life, you can save money and enjoy more experiences (like travel!) instead of spending all your income on stuff.

In the video, I share four tips to help you utilize minimalism in your life:

Continue Reading

How to Break Free: My Nitty-Gritty Advice for Living the Life You Really Want (AUDIO)

break-free-1000-x-1000-01
Last month, I was interviewed by Jessica, co-founder of GlobetrotterGirls about how I quit my job and started my business, minimalism, travel and my journey to location independence. She asked some great questions and got some VERY passionate answers out of me. I’m honored to share the full 50-minute audio recording of our conversation with you! (Just press the play button below.)

Here’s what Jessica had to say about our podcast interview:

Continue Reading

The Art of Minimalism: 5 Things Germany Taught Me About Living With Less

Pilar Piece Berlin Wall 2011

Photo courtesy Pilar Harris

This is a guest post by Pilar Harris, a healthy lifestyle blogger in Los Angeles. Please welcome Pilar to the HBW Community!

I come from a very creative, woman-centric tribe of stylish black women who love to thrift shop and collect. Growing up, garage sales and flea markets were frequent happenings. I can recall my grandmother and aunties having several closets filled with clothes, much of it never worn, and knick-knacks, many unused.

The very day I arrived for my year-long stay in Germany, I knew I’d be forced to confront and reconsider my own habits of consumption. I quickly learned that minimalism isn’t just about living with less. It’s about making room for more of what really matters. I’m pleased to share some of the lessons learned from this experience of downsizing. I’ve been able to find more time and space for what matters most – the things I’m passionate about and the experiences that bring me closer to an understanding of my divine purpose.

So, here goes.

Lesson 1: Buy Only What You Can Carry Home

I lived in a 6th floor apartment in a beautiful pre-war building. You know, the kind with lots of windows (for letting in natural light) and no elevator. I developed the habit of only buying what I could comfortably carry home, up five flights of stairs. This meant buying less and making multiple trips to the grocery store in a week. Now that I’m back in the States, I try to maintain this mentality because it prevents impulsive buying. It really comes in handy when I’m at those big-box, super-saver stores that stock everything under one roof!

Lesson 2: Carpool

It’s not uncommon for Europeans to carpool with complete strangers. They even have websites, similar to Craigslist, that allow folks to post their trips and the number of open seats they have available for the ride. Coming from California, where it seems everyone has at least one car, the idea of this totally blew me. But I learned that it makes perfect sense, once you put your pride aside. Why not ride with someone and split the costs, especially for long distance trips? I can’t say how many times my girlfriends and I have gone someplace, the four or five of us arriving in separate vehicles! For safety’s sake, I still wouldn’t carpool with strangers. Yet, I have learned to be a lot less shy about the whole “can I get a ride” thing.

Lesson 3: Modesty is Sexy

This is not only a lesson learned in minimalism. It also relates to cold weather living and mindful dressing. I watched chic German women maintain their sexy through the long winter season while covered from head to toe. I discovered this culture of understated femininity where form-flattering turtlenecks, eye-opening mascara and waist-high trousers reign supreme. No punchy eyeshadow, trendy handbags, or statement accessories needed. It’s all about mixing conservatism with classics and basics for a wonderfully becoming wardrobe, instead of doing an overhaul in favor of the season’s biggest trends.

Lesson 4: More Experiences. Fewer Things.

Each of the friends I made in Europe had a rich past experience of travel that, in the States, is typically reserved for the well-to-do. The secret, I found, is not in having more money. Rather, it’s about leading a simple lifestyle and splurging on the experiences that enrich our understanding of the world. I watched a young couple lock up their humble one bedroom flat, headed for a one month winter holiday retreat in Denmark. My sweet university-aged friend, who lived at home with her parents and did not own a car, returned from spring break refreshed, after having spent a week in the Mediterranean (Mallorca) with her brother and cousins. It’s a tradition they’ve kept since the youngest of them turned sixteen.

Having seen this for myself, I feel I have an important choice to make when the latest gadget, perfume or platform shoe is released: to buy? Or to save for that South American expedition I’ve been dreaming of?

Lesson 5: Live Small

Small is the name of the game in most European urbanscapes. If you’ve ever shopped at Ikea, you probably have an idea of what I’m alluding to. Small are the cars and the kitchen cabinets. Small is every home appliance, shower and stairway. I practiced being more selective of the things I purchased and the junk I hung on to simply because there was no space for excess. It’s kind of like switching to a smaller purse. Inevitably, some of the things you’d normally carry around just have to go.

Now, whenever I find myself feeling “too big” for my surroundings, I immediately look for things I can get rid of. As I work on healing the packrat within, I am really enjoying this clutter-free way of living. It’s a one-way street toward the freedom of having more brain space and energy to dedicate to my work, relationships, and dreams.

***

pilarinmotion lifestyle bloggerPilar Harris is a healthy lifestyle blogger who is passionate about vegetarianism, travel, books and black womanhood. She is a twenty-something healthy lifestyle advocate in the making who loves hip hop music as much as she loves steamed cauliflower and independent bookstores. Stop by her humble web home, Pilar in Motion and say hi on Twitter @pilarinmotion.

 

Are You Making These Excuses for Why You Can’t Travel?

photo (3)

Photo courtesy Toya Nicole

This is a guest post by Toya Nicole, a travel blogger and marketing consultant. Please welcome Toya to the HBW Community!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

I travel more than the average person. Between business travel, personal vacations and weekend getaways, I should have a reserved parking spot at the Chicago O’Hare Airport. I’m always thinking about what my next destination will be and am often called upon by others to help them plan trips. It goes without saying that I’m passionate about travel.

Perhaps it’s ingrained in my DNA. My mother was a woman who traveled across the world with ease! Whether she was exploring France on a European vacation, hanging with the locals in Guadalajara, Mexico, cruising through the Caribbean or sneaking off to Vegas, she lived it up! I still have the postcard she sent me from her Hawaiian vacation when I was a kid. Even as a divorced, single mother she still set aside time and money to travel. Sometimes she had kids in tow or her girlfriends, but often times she rolled solo. So I guess you can say I get it from my momma!

While it’s second nature for me to bounce across the globe, I’m very aware that most women don’t take advantage of opportunities to travel.

Last fall, I returned from a weeklong Italy vacation with friends. While conversing with an associate, she commented:

“When I’m blessed to be wealthy and I get a husband I want to travel, too!”

Wait.

Say what, now? I don’t have a husband myself and am definitely not cashing Oprah-sized checks at the bank!

This was a working woman in her 30s who still had not been outside her southern state line boundaries. Why she felt she needed to “get a man” or “hit the lotto” to take a well-earned vacation was beyond me.

Sadly, she wasn’t the first woman I’d encountered who felt this way. I think it’s unfortunate to see women who fantasize about dream vacations actually talk themselves out of it because of perceived “roadblocks” in their life:

  • No friends
  • No husband
  • Too busy
  • Not enough money

I’ve heard all the excuses.

But the truth is, we can’t wait on the right time or right person to come into our life before we get about the business of living! Instead of making excuses, you can find an affordable vacation package, the kids can be left with a babysitter and that all-consuming job (which you hate anyway) will still be there when you return.

I started my blog last summer not to brag about my experiences or show off my bargain-finding skills, but because it’s my heart’s desire to inspire and motivate others to travel. I truly believe its part of my life purpose.

The time to explore, dream and discover is NOW. Are you ready?

***

425830_10102450159762074_1586521495_nToya Nicole is a savvy marketing consultant, Six Brown Chicks correspondent, storyteller and jetsetter from Chicago who loves Jesus, chocolate,  music and handbags! Stay in touch with her as she blogs about life lessons and all things travel on her blog, Ms. Travel Chic.

Is It Time for You to Move? (My Hawaii Announcement)

Moving house

“It’s time for you to move, realizing that the thing you are seeking is also seeking you.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Ever since I got rid of my apartment back in 2011, you could say I’ve been a bit of a nomad, wandering from place to place, home to home. From DC to northern Virginia to Honolulu to Baltimore to Charlottesville to Europe to Richmond, back to northern Virginia with a recent trip to Thailand, this HBW has gotten around over the past two years! Underlying the urge to explore different cities and budget living arrangements was also a big question I had yet to answer.

Did I still want to call the DMV area home?

I went to college in Richmond and have built the majority of my personal and professional relationships here. But I’d been here since 2000. Now pushing 13 years, was my wanderlust a sign that it was time for me to go live somewhere else?

In  my Life Mapping Workbook (which you can get for free here), one of the areas I ask you to explore is your lifestyle – where you want to live location-wise, your ideal living situation, etc. Those of you who are on the HBW newsletter (and actually READ it LOL), already know the decision I’ve made for myself in re-doing my own Life Map.

Today, I wanted to share the official announcement with everyone else who hasn’t yet seen the news via my emails or my personal blog…

When I left my job in 2010, I simultaneously started Happy Black Woman as a personal blog to document my journey of going natural and becoming self-employed. Today, it has grown into a supportive online community that encourages women to live their ideal lives. Here, we have positive, affirming conversations about personal development, self-care, relationships, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, travel and what it means to be free. I’ve been surprised and delighted to see how our HBW community has evolved from a teeny tiny blog to a large readership, then expanding to live events and training for women all over the country who are on the same path.

While I was on retreat in Thailand, what I realized is that I want to work with and for YOU on a bigger scale in service to my Personal Mission Statement (you can get this exercise in my full 31 Days to Reset Your Life program or the Kindle ebook version). In the space of just one month, I became present to the truth that I would have to step up once again to become the CEO of me – this time in a new capacity.

First, Decide Where You Really Want to Live

It took living on a tropical island in Asia 10,000 miles from home in a villa with 20 other entrepreneurs to realize that…

I love living on an island. I love being able to take my laptop to the beach. I love that I can write and connect and teach from anywhere in the world. 

After I’d been in Koh Tao just a few days, I had a very casual, but life-changing conversation with one of the guys in our Project Getaway group. The concept of the program was to bring together a group of location-independent, tech-savvy business owners to mastermind and learn from each other in a beautiful tropical setting. So we were talking about our travels and homebases and where we wanted to go next. I found myself repeating a familiar refrain:

I have a great life in DC, but I would really love to live in Hawaii. That’s my dream! I lived there as a military brat from 1994-2000 and it’s always been my favorite place in the world. 

That’s when it hit me. The little voice of adventure that got me on the plane from DC to Bangkok started asking: well, why the hell CAN’T you go live in Hawaii? Instead of clinging to all the excuses I usually give about it being so expensive (so is the entire DC area) and so far (that’s what airplanes are for), I just allowed myself to imagine the experience of doing something deliciously different with my life.

In that moment of brief conversation, I felt something shift inside me. My heart jumped a small jump of hope that one of my longtime dreams could actually come true this year. Suddenly, I had decided.

I will move to Oahu, Hawaii before the end of 2013. 

This year, I will spend my 31st birthday (New Year’s Eve!) on Waikiki Beach, embracing my new life with joy and excitement. My focus will now primarily be on building Happy Black Woman as a supportive online community and training company that empowers women around the world to create their ideal lives through personal development and entrepreneurship.

Then, Figure Out How to Get There

No matter where you might want to move to, you can only get there by taking action, one step at a time. I have a rough six-nine month relocation plan that involves completing my remaining client work here in DC, finding a place to live in Honolulu and securing more business under my desired areas of focus. It’s incredible how being around like-minded, adventurous people helped me open to the possibility of leaving the DC-MD-VA area I’ve called home for the last 13 years to start a new chapter in another part of the country.

I share this part of my plan even as it’s still being scratched out on the proverbial napkin, knowing that right now, you may also be struggling with fear and making the decision to try something new. Maybe what you really needed to hear today is that your dreams are NOT crazy and you deserve to see them come true. This is the year of choosing, after all. This is the year to say yes to your deepest desires.

I believe this is what it means to create your ideal life. To declare exactly what you want to do and figure out how to make it happen. As Seth Godin (one of my favorite writers) wrote recently, it’s easy to work for someone else’s agenda, but it’s much, much harder to prioritize your own.

The problem isn’t that it’s impossible to pick yourself. The problem is that it’s frightening to pick yourself. It’s far easier to put your future into someone else’s hands than it is to slog your way forward, owning the results as you go.

Perhaps it’s time for all of us to stop saying “I can’t because…” and start fully owning the results of the choices we make. For me, that journey begins now.

Have you ever made the decision to start over in a new city/state/country? How did you know it was time for you to take the leap and make the move? 

I’d love to hear your experience! Leave a comment below and join the conversation – our HBW Community is becoming a great place to connect with like-minded ladies, ask questions and get support :)

***

Rosetta Thurman is the Founder of Happy Black Woman. Follow Rosetta on Twitter.

Join thousands of women who have completed the only online course that gives you all the tools you need to get unstuck, set clear goals and rediscover who you truly are. Learn more about the 31 Days to Reset Your Life program here.

Travel Diary: My Crazy Full Moon Party Experience in Thailand (VIDEO)

IMG_1026

Body paint was the thing to do :)

I first heard about the Full Moon Party from Nomadic Matt’s travel blog when I was planning for my trip to Thailand. I’d already had it on my list of things I wanted to do, so when one of the guys here at Project Getaway suggested we go to the party as a group, I was all in! The Full Moon Party is a huge monthly beach party held on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand that happens on the night of every full moon. From sundown to sunrise, there are 10,000-30,000 people on the beach in the town of Haad Rin enjoying music, dancing, food, fire dancers and cheap alcohol by the bucket.

IMG_0988

What’s a Full Moon Party without a full moon???

IMG_0978

It costs 100 baht to enter the party grounds and you get a wristband to wear for the night

On April 25, 2013, I attended the famous Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand. We rented a speedboat to get from Koh Tao to the party location in Ko Pha Ngan, about an hour away.

Now I’m not really a big party girl when I’m at home in DC so I’m surprised I survived the experience of being in that environment for 12 hours straight. I had SO much fun on the beach with 10,000 half-naked drunk people from all over the world dancing nonstop to techno, house and reggae.As if the all-night party didn’t provide enough excitement to my life, I got another shot of adrenaline when my group got STRANDED in the middle of the ocean on our way home! I was sleeping when I felt a hard jolt. Our boat stopped suddenly and everything got quiet as the motor died out. Apparently, our speedboat had crashed into a rock and ran aground when we were about halfway back to our villa in Koh Tao. I’m NOT a good swimmer, so I was thisclose to having a panic attack when the boat hit the rock. I thought we were gonna drown! Thankfully we got help from a nearby ship.

I put together all my iPhone video snippets to share what the vibe was like at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. At the end, you’ll also see some footage from how we made it home after our little boating accident. What a crazy, crazy night! Definitely an experience to remember…

(If you’re reading this post via email or in a reader, click here to see the video.)

For a comprehensive guide to attending Thailand’s famous Full Moon Party, check out Nomadic Matt’s post here: The Ultimate Guide to the Full Moon Party

Read My Previous Travel Diaries from Thailand:

Travel Diary: One Week in Koh Tao, Thailand

IMG_1731

Excited to be in Koh Tao, Thailand for Project Getaway!

I’ve been in Koh Tao, Thailand for about a week now, having a great time with a group of about 20 entrepreneurs through Project Getaway. There’s been a lot going on as we explore the island and get settled into our own individual projects we came here to work on.

Here’s some photos of where I’m staying and a bit of we’ve been doing here so far.

Photo Gallery: Welcome to Koh Tao

IMG_1726

View from the boat coming into Koh Tao

IMG_1763

Our beautiful villa in the Mae Haad neighborhood of Koh Tao

IMG_1728

We have an amazing view from our porch!

IMG_1704

The main living area in our villa! I live in this one with two other women with cool businesses, one from Germany and one from the UK

IMG_1705

Our bathroom – water is scarce here and sometimes cuts off, so we conserve by taking short showers!

IMG_1706

Our kitchen – I’ve been able to cook a few meals here when I need a break from Thai food

IMG_1708

My bedroom is shared with one of the women, we sleep in a bunk but beds are pretty comfy

IMG_1710

We love sitting out on our porch!

This is the best “office” ever :)

IMG_1767

We have a local restaurant called Yang’s Kitchen that caters our meals daily. This was lunch one day: mango salad, rice, pad thai with shrimp and a pork stir fry.

photo (2)

The pool at our villa!

IMG_1740

Happy hour at Sunset View Restaurant! I had a Cuba Libre :)

IMG_1744

Watching the day fade out at Sunset View Restaurant – we had a nice group BBQ dinner here

IMG_1754

On Sairee Beach at night, music and fire dancers are out in full effect!

I’ve also been sharing more photos on Instagram and Facebook, so I hope you’ll follow along with my travel experience there as well. And…if you want to know more about the group I’m in Thailand with, check out the Project Getaway Facebook page, which has a TON of beautiful, professional photos from our media team! Let me know if you spot me or my afro in any of them :)

Read My Previous Travel Diaries from Thailand: