WHAT ARE BLUE LIGHT BLOCKING GLASSES, AND SHOULD YOU BE WEARING THEM?

You’ve probably seen or heard something about blue light blocking glasses in the last year or two, and if you’ve never really looked into them before, or don’t even know what the heck blue light is, let me shed some light…pun unintended. If you (like me) are constantly staring at a screen for work, then class, then to catch up on your favorite Netflix binge, you’ve probably noticed some super annoying headaches, dry eyes, the occasional hallucination, and even excessive exhaustion and loss of focus. Enter blue light. Now, blue light isn’t all bad. It’s actually necessary for our REM cycles and other natural hormonal resources, like breaking up our melatonin during the day. Blue light is in natural light forms, and that’s the stuff that tells you when it’s time to wake up and be alert, whereas white light tells your brain to relax and go to sleep.

Blue light becomes harmful when it is used in excessive amounts, which in this day and age is pretty common. The brightness of our phones, laptops, TVs etc. all play into our tolerance to blue light, or lack thereof. In other words: blue light could be the reason you haven’t slept in the last 10 years, just saying. Interesting, right? So here’s the deal. Blue light-blocking glasses are designed to do just what their name suggests: block blue light. Wearing them while you look at an artificial source of blue light is supposed to help reduce headaches, dry eyes and all the other bad stuff that we’ve been getting too much of, while promoting better sleep and focus! Now, it sounds kind of like a futuristic gimmick, right? I was pretty skeptical about this at first too. So, instead of sitting around and wondering about it, I tested three of the biggest names in blue light blocking technology to see just what they can do, and if they’re really all they crack themselves up to be. Curious? Keep reading.

PIXEL

This is the first pair that I tried so, I had no idea what to expect, especially being someone who has never needed glasses and therefore has never worn them. After a few days of wearing them, I noticed my tolerance to my laptop gradually increasing. Normally I find myself having to turn down the screen brightness as it starts to really bother my eyes, but with Pixel, I was much more relaxed.

The glasses didn’t stay on my face very well, and I found myself flexing my facial and earlobe muscles a lot to keep them up, which obviously became uncomfortable after subconsciously doing this while wearing them so often. However, I’ve never worn glasses, so this could just be attributed to me getting used to the feeling. I mean, I also had to get used to my eyesight suddenly being fogging after doing the dishes, and remembering not to adjust the lenses while eating greasy food. Woops.

Verdict? I’ve found a higher tolerance to my computer screen and can do work for a longer period of time without feeling tired or not being able to focus on the screen because it gets blurred/my eyes burn.

Style: I tested the Meru Matte Navy, which I would deem the cute version of nerdy. This is my practical pair that goes with everything but still looks trendy. I like the big frames and the sleek matte finish. 8/10.

Comfort: not bad but not great. Again, it could just be because the size of my head is kind of small compared to other average human heads. They slip down and cause me to strain my facial muscles, so I’m gonna say 7/10.

Affordability: The price range for these is between $80-$100 which, for the product you’re buying and the quality, is not outrageous in the least. 9/10.

Effectiveness in blue light blocking: my tolerance is up and my headaches are down so, A+!

BAXTER BLUE

This is the second pair I got so I had something to compare them to at this point, and I was super curious to see how they measured up. My first impression was not bad, I feel the same way about how they don’t stay on my face so I guess that’s probably just the feeling of glasses. My head is small after all.

Just like with Pixel, my eyes do feel less strained and worn out already, but I don’t think it’s about short-term effects or the way you feel while you’re wearing them, it’s more about the long-term effects and how they make you feel in the long run/what they prevent and the long-term benefits. So if you don’t feel that different while wearing them, try to pay more attention to how you feel in a month, or even 2 weeks after wearing them.

A little perk about this website: You can upload a photo and virtually try on any pair of glasses! This makes shopping super easy, and helps narrow down your choices, just like an in-store shopping experience.

Style: Lane/Crystal. Definitely upscale chic. These are very modern and current in terms of style. I love the look, it’s very minimalist and literally matches everything considering they’re transparent. The rounded frames are elegant and don’t make me look or feel like a kid playing dress up. 10/10.

Comfort: they have a feeling of “barely there” other than the fact that I’m flexing to keep them up. But other than that they’re light and the arms  are a great size, they rest neatly behind my ears. 8/10.

Affordability: BB ranges from $89-$100 so they are on the higher end, but even so, still an insanely good price for the product! 9/10 ONLY because there are technically cheaper pairs.

Effectiveness: eye strain is definitely down, and so are my after-work headaches!

Bonus: They give a pair of reading glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased!

ZENNI

This is the last pair I got, so I really had some experience with glasses under my belt at this point, and the first thing I noticed was that these were the first pair that actually stayed put on my head and didn’t make me strain my facial muscles. Not that the others are unbearable, but these ones are like, light as air. I honestly forgot I was wearing them after an hour or two. So whether the thing that makes me strain is the size of my head/lack of experience wearing glasses, or weight of the glasses themselves is still up for debate.

As far as effectiveness goes for actually curing the eye strain, they feel exactly the same as the other two. So I’m thinking any company is as good as the next, as long as they’re using the appropriate blue blocking technology. It just depends on your price range and style preference.

This site also has the option to virtually try on glasses like BB: a huge perk!

Style: Pink Round Eyeglasses 782419. The pair I chose have a marble effect and are very trendy and in style. They do seem like they may be less durable, however, than the other brands, but it doesn’t seem like that plays into the appearance of them. The case is not as sleek or efficient as it could be, considering these come in a rather bulky plastic case. 8/10.

Comfort: Suuuuuper comfy, could barely even tell I was wearing them most of the time. BUT one of the eyeglasses is closer to my eye which makes it a little uncomfortable rubbing against my eyelashes, so I have to situate them just right. 8/10.

Affordability: This is definitely, definitely going to be your more affordable brand. But there are honestly SO many choices, you can pretty much pay as much or as little as you want. The prices are all over the board, from about $7-$50 approx, so there’s a little something for everyone! 10/10.

Effectiveness: definitely helping my eyes relax after staring at a screen, and also combatting those annoying blue light overload headaches.


Overall, I really love all three brands and think that all of them are a good option if you’re looking into blue light blocking glasses. My tolerance to screen brightness is way up when I’m wearing any one of them; I feel like I can work on my laptop for a longer period of time, and they all look super adorbs on my face! So, win-win! And remember, these can be bought with or without a prescription. So if you don’t need glasses, don’t take yourself out of the game! I have the ones with no prescription and they are fab. Whether you’re slaving away in front of the screen all day, or just using your phone for texting and the occasional Insta post, I would seriously suggest looking into a pair of these bad boys!

Protect your eyes while you swipe on the Hey! VINA app!

ALL THE BEST THANKSGIVING EPISODES TO GET YOU IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

The best way to prepare for the holidays is to curl up with your vinas and hit play on the TV theme that brought us the most drama, laughs, and heartbreaks: Thanksgiving! Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of the most iconic moments in holiday TV history.

And for any shows not listed, here’s a tip: the Thanksgiving episodes generally tend to fall on the 8th-11th episode of a season (mid-season, give or take), so if you’re wondering if your favorite show has any holiday spirit, now you know where to look first!

F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Friends is kind of the king of Thanksgiving episodes. With the exception of season 2 (which technically mentions Thanksgiving in episode 9, but barely) each season has a dedicated episode centering around what it’s like to celebrate a holiday with the 6 best friends that anyone could have.

Season 1 Episode 9: The one where underdog gets away

Season 3 Episode 9: The one with the football (return of the Geller cup)

Season 4 Episode 8: The one with Chandler in a box

Season 5 Episode 8: The one with all the Thanksgivings

Season 6 Episode 9: The one where Ross got high (the infamous half trifle half shepherds pie is created)

Season 7 Episode 8: The one where Chandler doesn’t like dogs (and Ross hates ice cream)

Season 8 Episode 9: The one with the rumor

Season 9 Episode 8: The one with Rachel’s other sister (crazy plate lady is born)

Season 10 Episode 8: The one with the late Thanksgiving

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

Coming in at a close second to Friends in the Thanksgiving department, HIMYM gave us some pretty incredible holiday memorabilia. They feature a dedicated TG episode in 5 of the 9 seasons and none of them disappoint us even a little. Here are the top moments:

Season 1 Episode 9: Belly Full of Turkey

Season 3 Episode 9: Slapsgiving (the episode that gave us “You Just Got Slapped,” lyrical moment of the century)

Season 5 Episode 9: Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the slaps

Season 6 Episode 10: Blitzgiving (the turturkeykey is invented)

Season 9 Episode 14: Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra

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Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

GOSSIP GIRL

Nobody serves up just desserts better than GG, especially if it’s Thanksgiving and someones checking into the Ostroff Center. Whether it’s a Van Der Woodsen inviting a “bump in,” or a Humphrey screwing everyone over, secrets will come out. Check out our top picks:

Season 1 Episode 9: Blair Waldorf must pie!

Season 2 Episode 11: The Magnificent Archibalds

Season 3 Episode 11: The Treasure of Serena Madre (the episode that gave us the greatest dinner scene in television history, and the most memorable 4 minutes: 19:34-23:11)

Season 6 Episode 8: It’s Really Complicated (the one where Nate punches Dan in the face…FINALLY)

NEW GIRL

Vinas, New Girl kind of came out of nowhere and unexpectedly gave us one of the most heartwarming and hilarious shows in television history. When it aired in 2011, I don’t think anybody had any idea that this show was going to produce 5 TG episodes that give Friends a run for its money. Ok, nobody can outdo Friends, we know, but this is a pretty good attempt.

Season 1 Episode 6: Thanksgiving (the one that gave us a play within a show, “Big Time”)

Season 2 Episode 8: Parents

Season 3 Episode 10: Thanksgiving III

Season 4 Episode 9: Thanksgiving IV (or otherwise known as “bangsgiving”)

Season 6 Episode 7: Last Thanksgiving

THE OC

It’s been 12 years and I think we’re all still crying about the ending of The OC. But in the haze of Chrismukkah, some of the most eventful TG moments got swept away. Yep, that’s right! The OC actually does have holiday episodes that don’t revolve around Seth Cohen’s made up (none the less iconic) celebration.

Season 1 Episode 11: The Homecoming

Season 4 Episode 3: The Cold Turkey

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

While these shows don’t have a laundry list of Thanksgiving gold like the aforementioned, we think their holiday moments are still totally worth the watch.

One Tree Hill Season 8 Episode 9: Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace

90210 Season 4 Episode 10: Smoked Turkey

Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 12: Taking This One to the Grave

The Office Season 7 Episode 9: WUPHF.com

Full House Season 1 Episode 9: The Miracle of Thanksgiving

The Vampire Diaries Season 6 Episode 8: Fade Into You

Download Hey! VINA to find a binge-watch vina for all your holiday hibernating!

ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST: TRAVELING FOR THE HOLIDAYS EDITION

WARNING: This is not a list of Christmas carols and Mariah Carey throwbacks.

Every good trip needs a bag of jerky, a shotgun rider, and the soundtrack of the season.  And traveling for the holidays can be one of the most stressful, anxiety-inducing, exciting, or peaceful trips of them all! Whether it’s a plane to San Francisco or a pickup truck to Providence, these are the top 18 perfect additions to your mile long or mile high trip.

“American Pie” BY DON MCLEAN

The perfect place to start your trip: a little pie! Starting with dessert is always better, right? Don McLean has given us so many words to live by, and this song is 8 minutes of pure food for thought…and lyrics to scream your heart out to.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “Oh, and there we were all in one place, a generation lost in space.” Oh Donny, it’s like you could see our future all the from 1971.

“Punches” BY NOAH CYRUS

Of course baby Cyrus has killer pipes and the writing chops to match. She’s a Cyrus, duh! If this song doesn’t make you feel like you should own a car where the top comes off, then I don’t know what will.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “Like a map faded in time, like an old forgotten tomb. I know love has been unkind for the two of us.”

“11 Blocks” BY WRABEL

If you’re thinking about a casual drop in at your ex’s this holiday season, you’re not alone. Wrabel is a pop artist who was recently featured on “One’s to Watch” so, put this on the aux so you can say you liked him before it was cool.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “My mind won’t stop it’s just eleven blocks, I know that you’re home.”

“When The Stars Go Blue” COVER BY TYLER HILTON AND BETHANY JOY LENZ 

So this song is originally done by Ryan Adams, but being from the era of One Tree Hill, I’m a sucker for this cover by the stars of the show. This song is the perfect mix of romance and heartbreak to fuel your trip.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “Where do you go when you’re lonely? Where do you go when you’re blue? Where do you go when you’re lonely, I’ll follow you when the stars go blue.”

“How” BY LISA LOEB

This bad boy just so happens to be featured on the greatest holiday film ever made, that’s right, Jack Frost with Michael Keaton himself. So if the road trip vibe doesn’t quite hit you, let the holidays get your soul on this one.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “I didn’t come this far for you to make this hard for me.” (could also apply to that one aunt who wont stop asking you about your nonexistent S/O, plans after college, and recent weight gain.)

“Landslide” BY FLEETWOOD MAC

Do I even have to explain myself on this one?

Iconic holiday road trip line: “Time makes you bolder even children get older, and I’m gettin’ older too.”

“Never Had” BY OSCAR ISAAC

Sometimes all we need is a little glimpse of the past to remind us what we want out of the future. And almost every time, that involves a person. Oscar Isaac is out here bringing us to our knees with this 2012 classic that totally deserves a hand out the window.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “I’ve been gone for so long now chasing everything that’s new. I’ve forgotten how I got here but I have not forgotten you.”

“Charli” BY EZRA SALMINE

This one is a brand new baby song by an up and comer and guys, click play. This Nashville artist is in the process of releasing his FIRST album and this single just dropped late September. It’s a serious windows down/heat up jam.

Iconic holiday road trip lines: “I wasn’t made for this town, I was made to drive” and “Every time I go back home I want a ghost that I can use.”

“All Too Well” BY TAYLOR SWIFT

I think we all know by now that there is a Taylor Swift song for every moment of life, and the song All Too Well pretty much covers all the emotions. Here’s a tune for the moment you find the one you wanna bring home to meet the family, and then when you get back into town and see your high school boyfriend at the local quick stop.

Iconic holiday road trip lines: “We’re singin’ in the car gettin’ lost upstate, autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place” and “There we are again on that little town street, you almost ran the red cause you were lookin’ over at me.”

“Never on the Day You Leave” BY JOHN MAYER

Mr. Mayer is also guilty of having a song lyric for life’s biggest moments, he and Swift even wrote a few about each other. But this sentimental tribute to a love lost will have you all in your feels before you even start the engine.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “No it’s never on the day you leave that you remember Christmas eve, and all the things you miss about her crazy family.”

“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” BY THE PROCLAIMERS 

Ok, it’s not a road trip unless you’re screaming “BA DA DA DA, BA DA DA DA” all the way to your destination like its 1988 and Ted Mosby is in your front seat. This is a must have no matter the weather, occasion, or means of transportation.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “When I come home, yes I know I’m gonna be I’m gonna be the man who comes back home with you, I’m gonna be the man who’s coming home with you.”

“She Used To Be Mine” BY SARA BAREILLES 

As if Sara Bareilles wasn’t already a triple threat, she wrote a musical you guys! And the songs are obviously hits, both on and off broadway. This charming, empowering track is my personal favorite from the playwright’s collection. Oh, and she slips in a line about pie which is fitting being that the play is “Waitress,” but even better for our holiday playlist!

Iconic holiday road trip line: “It’s not what I asked for, sometimes life just slips in through a back door and carves out a person, and makes you believe it’s all true.”

“Planez” BY KATELYN TARVER 

You may know Tarver better for her recurring role in the hit Nickelodeon series “Big Time Rush,” but that is all about to change. Her lyrics are fun, flirty, and totally worthy of a road trip singalong with 6 vinas piled into a 5 seater.

Iconic holiday road trip: “I could put you in the mile high club, what’s up let’s take a trip. Have you ever read the world is yours on a blimp?”

“Somewhere In My Car” BY KEITH URBAN

Oh, Keith. You had us at car. While I have often referred to this as “the song of the summer,” don’t be mistaken, this one will make you believe you’re a Grammy nominated rock star somewhere in your car, winter, spring, summer, or fall.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “In my mind we’re somewhere in my car and it’s rainin’ hard on the streetlight glow.”

“Nashville” BY DAVID MEAD

Whether you’re goin’ back to Nashville for a plate of turkey, or heading north for some holiday snow, this will bring all the scenery from your childhood to life as you pass those old road signs and traffic lights.

Iconic holiday road trip lines: “On a childhood highway through a night alone, I was barely breathing, I was crawling home” and “You’re a distant memory, you’re an exit sign, I was talking crazy on the driver’s side.”

“Hard Feelings/Loveless” BY LORDE

One of the hardest things to do is let go, especially of summer and all the memories you made during the most iconic season. But, there’s no better way to grieve than to crank up some Lorde and let your heart be free as it’s whisked away into the magic of Autumn.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “It’s time to let go of this endless summer afternoon.”

“Mistake Of My Life” BY CAEDMON’S CALL 

We’ve all made a mistake or two in our lives, and sometimes those mistakes make us wanna turn around and crawl right back into our childhood beds and call it a day. This song will make you feel a little less alone in the biggest of your life’s mistakes, even the nostalgic meltdowns and not-quite-mid-life crises.

Iconic holiday road trip line: “I’ll leave the car running and I’ll leave half the boxes packed, for the slim chance I’ll go right back.”

“Always Remember Us This Way” BY LADY GAGA

Last, but MOST certainly not least, one of the many hits heard on the latest version of the film “A Star Is Born.” If you have yet to hear this song on the big screen, do yourself a favor and get to the theater. Lady G and Bradley Cooper have broken the cinema with the most gut wrenching, revolutionary performances. A must see, and a must hear.

Iconic holiday road trip lines: “So when I’m all choked up but I can’t find the words, every time we say goodbye baby it hurts” and “All I really know, you’re where I wanna go. The part of me that’s you will never die.”

Try adding some of these songs to your playlist to have new music to listen to, and download Hey! VINA to find new friends to share it with! 

5 THINGS TO BRING TO THANKSGIVING THIS YEAR

Thanksgiving: it’s the one day a year you can put on your fat pants and let them live up to their name. For those of us who prefer to be the Joey Tribbiani of the group eating all the food, and not the Monica Geller slaving away in the kitchen, it’s probably not the best idea to show up empty-handed. And no, a bottle of wine doesn’t count. I mean, it totally does…as long as it comes with a side dish. So if you wanna step up your game from opening a can of cranberries, check out this list of classics and newbies to try out this holiday season!

THE “I HAVE 42 KIDS AND A CROCK POT”

Whether you’re an exhausted mommy vina, or a busy boss babe, the crock pot is the hero you need. Throw it together the night before and grab it on your way out the door! Check out these no-nonsense recipes and let the crock pot do the rest: Crock Pot Cornbread, Crock Pot Potatoes Au Gratin.

THE “I’M FEELING BOLD THIS YEAR”

Brussels sprouts have gotten a pretty bad rap over the decades, but they’re totally making a comeback this year. With a little roasting and a sprinkle of honey your friends and family won’t believe you when you tell them they’re eating mini balls of cabbage. Try one of these recipes for a new spin on getting your greens: Roasted Fall Brussels Mix, or Honey Roasted Balsamic Brussels.

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THE “IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT”

Unless you’re hosting, or were specifically asked to bring the turkey, potatoes, or stuffing, you should probably steer clear of the staples to avoid duplicates. But fear not! There are plenty of side dishes that will totally steal the show at your gathering this year. Like the underappreciated yet totally deserving Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows, or this Creamy Green Bean Casserole…wait for it…from scratch! That’s right, no cans + all fresh ingredients = the only way to go.

THE “TWIST ON A CLASSIC”

Everybody loves pumpkin and apple pie, but why wait for dessert when you can have it as an appetizer that goes great with a little football and some cider? Pumpkin Fluff Dip and Fruit Salsa (or Apple Pie Dip) are two delicious dishes that work great as a pre-gamer, or an after dinner refresher. Pair with graham crackers, gingerbread cookies, cinnamon sugar tortilla chips, or any of your favorite snacks!

THE “PASTA GOES WITH EVERYTHING”

Everybody loves pasta, don’t question me on this. Whether it’s classic Kraft mac and cheese, or a sun-dried tomato bisque over rotini and spinach. Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to try your hand at a Crisp Autumn Pasta Salad, or a creamy Butternut Squash Lasagna. Bonus: you get to keep the leftovers!

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Top any of these recipes off with your favorite bottle of wine, a jug of apple cider, or a pot of pumpkin spice! And don’t forget to bring your vinas!

Looking for a baking buddy this holiday season? Download Hey! VINA and connect with fellow foodies to try out all your new recipes with!

 

HOW EUROPE MADE ME APPRECIATE AMERICA

OK guys, so I’ve been to Europe several times, but the last time was 5 years ago making me a 16 year old brat that wouldn’t let anyone take her picture in front of a 300 year old palace. That was the last time…until last month. Now that I’m a slightly less bratty 21 year old gal, I obviously took advantage of all the Instagram opportunities, but more than that, I tested myself to find out which parts of the European culture were truly as shocking as I remembered, and which parts were actually just the result of a teenager not having wifi or a snack in 2 hours.

Coffee is truly as tiny as I remember it being, lets start there. If you go anywhere besides Starbucks or McDonalds, like a typical restaurant, they bring you a teacup of coffee smaller than an espresso shot that looks like it came with my easy bake oven. What’s up with coffee across the Atlantic y’all? I think I ordered one decent cup of coffee during my two weeks in Vienna this year, but it was half milk so I don’t think that counts.

What struck me more than the coffee though, was the people. In general? Rude. The kind of rude where they see you coming and press the “close door” button instead of holding the elevator. I mean it metaphorically, but I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if it were to actually happen. No one held the door for me in the course of the 15 days of my trip, and if they couldn’t understand what I was saying, I was as good as invisible. Now again, let me stress that I’m not speaking for the entire continent of Europe, but the personal experience and encounters I had in Austria in comparison with the general experiences I’ve had in the United States my entire life.

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Now, the most uncomfortable thing for me was going from spending half of my life in a smoke free zone, to being thrust into a society that considers a cigarette dessert. That’s right, A CIGARETTE. Not some trendy millennial marijuana smoke, but good old- fashioned nicotine. For those of you who haven’t been outside the protection of the non smoking zone (a.k.a America) in the last decade and a half, consider this your warning. Apparently Europe hasn’t gotten the memo: smoking kills. And you can do it just about anywhere. It was kind of chic for a second like a 1970’s film, but it got old real quick when my closet started to scream “chimney sweep” instead of chic. Seriously though, it is kind of surreal to be sitting at a restaurant in 2018 and see the table next to you light up. Or to relive the laughable “Non Smoking Section” which is actually just 6 booths on the other side of the room.

The atmosphere itself started to feel kind of cold and lonely after awhile. Partly because all my social interactions were limited to a handful of English speakers, but also because I was away from my daily ins and outs, and I was yet again reminded of the harshness of the world. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like everyone was mean and nasty, but it was definitely not a hippie, west coast music festival promoting world peace and neighborly love.

So in conclusion, I guess my experience wasn’t all that different. I wondered if age and wisdom (lol– five years of both) would somehow change my perspective on all of the things that shocked me about European society, but instead I learned that the truth is always going to be true, no amount of age or wisdom will change that. What did change, was my tolerance, and my ability to find more beauty than ugliness. So I guess I can technically attribute that to maturity (age, wisdom, etc.). I chugged my 1 ounce coffees, held the door for all the people that didn’t hold it for me, embraced a little nicotine in my clean air, and truly stopped to smell the roses. Truly, guys. There were so many incredible florists out on the streets.

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I found myself sticking my head out the Uber window and gazing at the city lights around me, pretending I was in Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” music video. I ate everything, I drank everything, I got the bartender laughing when we couldn’t understand each other, I even had a cold for 3 days but still rocked a hotel room photo shoot and smashed some darn good pizza.

All in all, there is no perfect world. I think I love mine so much because it’s home and it feels like Christmas pajamas on Christmas eve. Warm and fuzzy, familiar, like nothing bad could ever happen; like I know the ending to every story that’s told in that place, and that this is exactly where I want to be. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel extremely fortunate to be able to experience life outside of my own, it just means that every time I set foot outside of my American soil I will be reminded not to take my freedom, my customs, my culture, my upbringing, or my life for granted. God bless America! And God bless the world!

Do you also have that Europe trip forever on your bucket list? Download the Hey! VINA app now and join the Jetsetter community to start planning it with some amazing vinas!

TAYLOR SWIFT: THE REPUTATION TOUR EXPERIENCE

I consider myself to be in the top .5% of Taylor’s biggest fans, so it may come as a shock that I’ve never been able to attend one of her shows. Until now. And let me tell you, I’ve never felt more justified in a purchase than I did about this one.

Let me set the stage, pun intended. Sitting about 20 feet from the secondary stage, the stadium is booming with people chatting about Camilla Cabello and Charlie XCX as they just finished their sets, when suddenly the lights go out, and 60,000 people’s wrists light up like sparkling stars in the night sky and the room is filled with a recording of all the reporters who’ve slammed Swift’s name followed by the word “REPUTATION” chanted by Swift herself. Pictures of T flash across the screen, paparazzi invading her personal space, childhood memories, the whole 9 yards. And then, the iconic boom of her hit single “Ready For It?” blasts in between screams. Taylor has arrived.

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Every time this girl drops a new album I never think to myself “there’s no way this one will be better than the last” because I know “this one will be just as iconic as the rest.” But somehow, I’m still blown away in shock like I didn’t see it coming EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I think this one means so much though because it’s like her own personal revolution. She has truly broken the systematic idea of fame and taken back the power. She’s not making apologetic public statements or involving the ever-so-quick-to-judge world in all of her mistakes.

Instead she’s pushing back like anyone else would. The difference is, she has a spotlight and a microscope on top of her at every turn. A lot of public figures seem to succumb to the pressure of what everyone else is telling them is socially acceptable, or what they should look like, or how to keep their image intact and be a role model. They buckle, and bend, and eventually break. But Taylor took all of the insane things that people tried to make a big deal out of and shame her for, and turned them into the ultimate eulogy for her reputation.

So I’m sweating my face off shouting “BIG REPUTATION BIG REPUTATION OOOOO YOU AND ME WE GOT BIG REPUTATIONS AHHHHH” and the set list is epic, obviously. All of the major moments from REP are played, the costumes are iconic, giant mechanical snakes are literally slithering out of the stages, when halfway through the show this gal climbs into a crystal ball of sorts, and flies across the stadium to take up residency on her first secondary stage. This was a moment that was so beautiful between Taylor and a single guitar that echoed throughout a dome of thousands of awestruck humans. This was a really unique experience for me because I’m so used to screaming lyrics at concerts and still not even being able to hear my own voice, but in that moment I could hear distinct voices three rows down as we all sang in harmony to the acoustic rendition of “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” and (only true Swifties will know) “Jump Then Fall.”

The old Taylor may have had to hit rock bottom to rise from the ashes, but she is most certainly not dead. Among other OG Swift tributes were “Love Story,” “You Belong With Me,” “Long Live” and many more. Long Live though, this one was emotional. Swift played it acoustic on piano mashed with “New Years Day” and confessed to fans that this song, would always be about them. Just the involvement, the inclusion, the feeling she gives you of being apart of something. She is the picture of selflessness and what it means to be humble in all that you do.

So, I had the pleasure of seeing this goddess rock the city of Detroit which happened just days after the great Aretha Franklin passed on from this earth. One of the most equally chilling and warming things I’ve ever experienced was a moment (seriously, 60 seconds) of silence in Aretha’s honor. The lights were cut, and suddenly all that could be heard was breath being drawn and Aretha Franklin’s soul passing on. Taylor prefaced the moment with a few words about Franklin’s legacy and all of the iconic music she brought to the city of Detroit, and the world, as well as all of the things she did for women’s rights, civil rights, and so many other acts of bettering our planet. I have so much respect for that moment, and the fact that I was able to experience it is something I won’t forget.

On top of paying homage to one of the great artists of our time that came before her, she managed to publicly thank EVERY member of her crew as well as EVERY member of the Ford Field Stadium crew. She literally thanked the people that sweep the floors and turn out the lights after the show ends. This is something you just don’t see at concerts, or in general. Her show was anything but all about her, it was a community of love, and laughter, and the joy of making music with people that support you and want to do the same.

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So fellow Swifties, and those of you new to the crew, if you’re still contemplating getting your tickets to the Reputation Stadium Tour, stop thinking and start ordering! Our girl has officially gone international so add a plane ticket and your fave vinas and you’ve got yourself a pre-holiday vacation! How much fun would this be as a vina date?! You won’t regret it, trust me.

Want to meet other vinas who are total Swifties? Get the Hey! VINA app and shake it off together!

FUN FALL GETAWAYS

VINAS! It’s officially pumpkin-spice-and-everything-nice season! Time to pull out your trendy flannels and wool sweaters and begin weaning yourself off of vacation mode and into full-blown fall mode. The best way to do that is a festive trip with all your fave vinas before the winter chills really set in! Consider these ideas with your gals over some hot apple cider!

SPA WEEKEND

Nothing is better than a good getaway to the spa for a day. . . or even a week! Gather your vinas and enjoy a day at the nearest spa. Feel refreshed by getting a hot stone massage or seaweed wrap! Going to a spa is the best way to revamp yourself and get ready for the new season upon us.

PUMPKIN FESTIVAL OR OKTOBERFEST CELEBRATION

There are plenty of great fall pumpkin festivals across the world, so don’t miss out! TBH, who doesn’t love a good pie eating contest or pumpkin carving event? Mock Oktoberfest celebrations are a fun fall event to attend, too! They have endless beer, German music, and more pretzels than you can imagine. Look for local Ocktoberfests in your area or if you are adventurous, book a flight to Munich between September 22nd and October 7th  to partake in the real fun!

MUSIC FESTIVAL 

That’s right, vinas. If you thought music festivals were over after Coachella and Lollapalooza, think again. There’s a huge market for fall music festivals, too! If you’re into good music (who isn’t?!), big scarves, and a new pair of Timberlands, this is the place for you. Get your tickets (even if you don’t know any of the bands on the lineup) because this is sure to be one of the best experiences of the whole season! Trust us.

CIDER MILL & WINE TASTING

Who doesn’t like cider? Who doesn’t like wine? Ok, in the rare event that you answered “me” to either one of those, don’t worry. They have coffee and beer too. Go on a wine, cider, and drink tasting day that includes food and fall festivities, or book a hotel and make a whole weekend out of it! Cheers!

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WARDROBE REVAMP TRIP

This is so critical. A mall trip is the dream vacation, in my personal opinion. With colder weather quickly approaching, you and your vinas need to stay up to date with the latest fall trends this season. Plus you can even snag some of the summer sale items and keep them for next year–what’s not to love?

DUDE RANCH

Horseback riding, hiking in the mountains, hot-tubbing after morning yoga, going on hay rides, and canoeing down a river, going to a dude ranch is the bread and butter to a perfect autumn getaway. There’s a little something for everyone here.

TRAIN TOUR

Forget cruises! Sit back and enjoy a journey that will take you through some of the most breathtaking views this world has to offer. Cozy up with a good book and watch the leaves change colors from wherever you may be going. Check out the hundreds of dates and locations these tours go on!

CAMPING TRIP

Whether it’s a cozy cottage at a lake or a tent in the middle of the woods, make a bonfire because where there’s a bonfire, there are s’mores. This is a super chill, budget-friendly option that basically pays for itself once each vina chips in. And if you’re aiming westward, stop to take a dip in one of the many hot springs at various locations across the country! All you need is a big blanket, marshmallows, and a couple scary stories to share around the fire and you are sure to have the time of your life!

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DISNEY TRIP

There is no age limit to the magic that Disney can provide, so head to Disneyland or Disney World for their fall events! This is like the ultimate haunted house, magic adventure, and theme park experience all in one place. Not to mention, this is a totally family-friendly option (for all you mommy vinas out there) and even a great girl’s trip or romantic getaway! Put on your Mickey Mouse ears and get outta here!

Looking for vinas to complete your fall checklist with? Download the Hey! VINA app now!

CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO A PLASTIC-FREE MONTH

Before you say, “no way, that’s too hard!” listen up: the planet may not need us, but we sure need it. Not to mention, the animals that are suffering from our lack of respect for the planet have no voice or way of stopping the millions of man-made chemicals from polluting and punishing our beautiful, damaged Earth. But, don’t get discouraged just yet, because we, the humans, do have a voice! And we have the power to stop polluting the world. What goes up, must come down–if you will. If we don’t bring down the plastic, the plastic will bring us down. And that’s the simplest way I can say it.

Now I know it’s hard to even think of where to begin or how you could possibly succeed at this kind of thing, and even though it’s overwhelming, we are right there with you! And that’s why I am going to take you through your own personal plan for a 31 day plastic domination. Vinas, we’re in this together! It only takes three weeks to create a habit, or break a bad one. Imagine what we can do with four! You will be unstoppable.

The first rule of a plastic-free life is as follows: don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning. This is not a quit cold-turkey process. This is a day by day journey. So first off, we want to eliminate the big offenders; the more obvious stuff.

WATER BOTTLES

Carry your own glass or stainless steel bottle! They are trendy and reusable! Refill your water by using a drinking fountain or sink. This will help to conserve water and save you some money!

STRAWS

These bad boys are causing quite the uprising in our world right now, but hey, at least they have our attention! When you order a drink at a restaurant, always ask for no straw. But, if straws are a must-have in your life, buy your own reusable glass, stainless steel, or bamboo set of straws. They are way cuter than plastic straws and bonus: most come with their own cleaning brush and carrying case!

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TOOTHBRUSHES

This one is admittedly pretty hard. You don’t want to risk a wooden toothbrush growing mold, and even if you did, they probably still have nylon bristles. Lucky for you, I have just about the best option you’re going to get: The Source Toothbrush made almost entirely of recycled wood, paper, and U.S. currency. Other than that, go electric! Another cost saving option and will still cut down on plastic use.

SILVERWARE

The healthiest and cheapest fix for this one is to pack your own food, but we know that sometimes that’s just not how the situation works out. So to remedy that, keep a set of silverware in your glove box for on-the-go meals, ask for paper cups or use your handy reusable water bottle, and opt for places like Panera Bread that use paper wraps and boxes rather than plastic.

SHOPPING BAGS

Bring your own canvas bags or paper bags when you go shopping. This saves a crazy amount of plastic bags and they have some really cute reusable bags!

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PLASTIC FOOD PACKAGING

Bacon, cheese, milk, bread, vegetables, chips, you name it. As you probably realize, a large percentage of our food is packaged and preserved by plastic. So how do you get around that?! Well, this one is more about time and energy than anything else, but after some shopping around you will find your favorite products are sold in more health and earth conscious environments. Shop local as much as you can. Farmers markets and privately owned shops for produce and meat, grow what you can, and everything else: look for the paper and cardboard packaging.

PLASTIC “EVERYTHING ELSE” PACKAGING

You know the stuff batteries come in? Or your new phone case? The stuff that is impossible to open. Or what about the plastic flap inside a Kleenex box? Or the packaging around toilet paper? Plastic is literally woven into the fabric of our lives. It’s kind of impossible to get away from it completely, but not impossible to reduce it drastically. For all of these products, your best bet is going to be online. I would suggest Amazon or eBay to do the bulk of it. You can always find alternative options to plastic packaging online. Think ahead and buy your toiletries online in bulk, and yep that’s right, another money saver! In some cases, you can even request to have your items shipped in the least amount of containers and packaging as possible. Sometimes, stores will even give you discounts for this. Other than the big corps, here are some eco-friendly shopping sites to get you started: Made By RadiusBambecoBuy Green. You can even use databases like Happy HippieGreener Spots, and Eco Friendly Emporium to search for stores within the exact category you’re looking to shop in.

THE LAST STRAW

The craziest part about all of this has always been and always will be that if enough people stop or start doing something, sooner or later, it will become the law. Not in a legal sense, but in more of a bandwagon sense. If everyone refuses straws, there is no market for straws, therefore restaurants stop ordering them, supermarkets stop carrying them, and eventually, the last straw is made and they no longer exist. This is the last straw you guys, it’s already happening.

Looking for some eco-friendly vinas? Look no further then Hey! VINA!

WARNING SIGNS OF A TOXIC PERSON

The thing about a toxic person is you’ll never see them coming. They pose as your friend, your confidant, and your trusted companion. The toxicity is not something that is on the surface level or easy to spot. It is something beneath the deepest layers of that person’s soul that targets the weakest and most trusting parts of yours. They might not show you their toxic nature right out of the gate or all at once. They can mask this side of themselves with clever lies and manipulation for years. Because of that, you might have a toxic person in your life, but you might not know it just yet.

WHAT IS A TOXIC PERSON?

  • A toxic person will make you believe that everything they have done to damage your relationship, or damage their own life, is your fault.
  • A toxic person will lie to you about the things they told you and when there’s nothing left to lie about, they’ll make something up.
  • A toxic person will come back to you every single time. It doesn’t matter how many times they leave, or how long they stay away, they will always come back for more.
  • A toxic person has nothing if there is no source to draw energy from. In order for them to convert your compassion or trust into toxicity, you have to allow them to plug into your power source.
  • A toxic person will talk poorly about everyone but you. . . to your face. Remember that.
  • A toxic person will never be wrong. Ever.
  • A toxic person has no backbone. They will please the person they are with to avoid exposure of their true colors.
  • A toxic person always has an agenda. You are mistaken if you think it’s not one that serves their own personal best interest.
  • A toxic person will make it their life’s mission to turn the whole world against you if you don’t play by their rules, so your best bet is to not play at all.

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It won’t happen like a high school movie where everything is petty and underhanded. It will happen gradually, deeply, and will go on for so long that you won’t notice it until this person is someone so important to you that you couldn’t possibly believe they would ever hurt you. A person like this is unaware of the world outside of their own needs. You need to know that it is OK to separate yourself from this kind of behavior. It is actually essential to separate yourself from this kind of behavior and set boundaries.

It’s hard to let go of people you’ve grown to love, whether it was a short relationship or someone you loved your whole life. However, what you have to realize is, it’s OK to take care of your own mental and emotional welfare. Letting people emotionally exhaust you is not taking the high road or being the bigger man. It’s an abuse of vulnerability, and it needs to be exposed. If this person is suddenly saying all the right things, apologizing, taking the blame, breaking down in tears or promising they’re going to change, promising they’re going to get help, and swearing they recognize their own toxicity, what they really recognize is that they’re losing their grip on you, and that is when you run. Letting go of the old will only make room for the new positive life you so deserve to live.

Looking to surround yourself with new, positive friends? Start swiping!

 

 

 

DEPRESSED OR JUST STRESSED?

The first thing you need to know about depression is this: it is so OK to be depressed and you are not abnormal or crazy if you are depressed. According to the ADAA, “in 2015 around 16.1 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year. That represents 6.7 percent of all American adults.”

So if you do find yourself thinking you might be showing signs of depression and may need to seek treatment, don’t put it off or convince yourself you don’t need it. So often, people are embarrassed or unwilling to admit that they have a mental disorder because they think that it automatically separates them from “normal” people or somehow changes the premise of their entire life. What happens then is that person sinks deeper and deeper into a state of depression trying to fight their own mind, all the while showing more and more signs of the original underlying depression. Trying to mask these initial feelings will likely end up in avoiding social situations, sleeping too much or calling in sick often or using alcohol or any substance abuse as a distraction. All of these are actually some of the most common signs of depression.

One of the most challenging factors about clinical depression is that it mimics the symptoms of other less concerning issues. In the same way that anxiety and panic attacks can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack or other cardiovascular complications, depression can have the same effects as a strenuous lifestyle.

Here’s how to tell the difference:

If you no longer have time in your daily schedule to enjoy hobbies, social activities, or just “me time” in general, it’s probably time to sit down and take a look at your schedule. It might be too full, causing you to be stressed. If you find yourself no longer having the desire to do anything fun or even anything at all, (i.e. eat, shower, talk on the phone, or even watching TV) then this is a sign that you could be depressed.

If you notice yourself being extra tired at night, not getting a good amount of uninterrupted sleep, or sleeping late, take a look at your daily life. Are you always on the go, running from here to there with your mind constantly racing? Stressed.

Are you spending more time on the couch, eating lots of empty carbs, sugar, and saturated fats? Are you regularly worrying about anything and everything and end up doing nothing because you don’t even know where to begin? Depressed.

Both stress and depression can cause you to become physically drained and interrupt your REM cycle, but the root problems should be addressed differently.

There is a definitive line between being overworked physically and overworked emotionally, but that line is just as easily blurred. The thing is, the solution is different for everyone. So don’t automatically assume that you’re going to be on a medication regime the second you reach out for help. In some cases just talking things out with a professional makes a world of difference and can also improve your mental health and wellness. However, stress should not be minimized. Putting a strain on your body both physically and mentally can have serious long-term effects.

Among other remedies are lifestyle changes such as improving your eating habits, increasing your amount of physical exercise, or taking up a new personal hobby. (Especially one that connects you to the earth, like gardening or adopting a pet/volunteering at a shelter, can change your mood and overall outlook on life.)

There are also many herbal treatments that have proven great success for individuals diagnosed with depression. Ask your doctor to look into homeopathic and other natural remedies, or make an appointment with a naturopathic specialist.

Whether you have taken on a little too much in your personal, educational, or professional life or have a deeper emotional issue that needs healing, there is a fix for you. That is why it is essential to make yourself, and your healing, a priority to find that unique fix. What works for one person might be totally different for the next. Be well, vinas!

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