Best Friend Care Package

Author: Samantha Thuesen

It’s important to remind our loved ones how much they mean to us, especially when we don’t see them every day. After saying “I love you,” it’s nice to do something a little extra, whether it be surprising them with flowers, bringing them to dinner, or sending them a care package.

One of my closest friends is away at school completing a summer course, and I won’t be able to see her for two months. She’s on a pre-med track, so you can imagine how stressful her classes are. I thought she could use a little reminder of how much I appreciate her, and what better way than with a care package? A best friend care package.

Putting a good care package together is no simple task; you need to plan. How big should the box be? Should I decorate it? Will there be a theme? These are all important questions that I didn’t ask myself ahead of time. In my defense, I’ve never put a care package together before, but I did learn a few things throughout the process. First, find a box. This will help you determine how many items you can fit inside. I ended up buying all the items first, then scavenging the house to find the right-sized box. If you want to choose a theme, go ahead! I’ve seen people decorate boxes with a certain color, then fill it with items of that same color. For instance, Happy Go Lucky created a “Box of Sunshine.” I chose a simpler route: pink paper and butterfly stickers.


Next, make a list before you go shopping. I didn’t make a list, but I knew I wanted to fulfill three categories: food, health and beauty, and love. Food is a college student’s best friend, especially snack food, but it’s important to stay healthy. I chose veggie chips, yogurt covered raisins, and of course some dark chocolate. Studies show that dark chocolate helps with studying, and that sounds like enough reason for me.


Health and beauty comes next. College students need to remember to take care of themselves in between classes and studying. What better way to relax with your snacks than with a nice face mask? Or three.


Finally, most importantly, comes love. Food will be eaten and masks will be washed away, but love always stays. Originally, I had planned to get a cute stuffed animal, but while walking through the store I came across something even better: Disney pillows. My friend loves Disney, and I had the choice between Genie, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Cinderella, and Ariel. I’m not very good at being sneaky, so I just texted her the characters and asked which one she preferred. She answered Genie, but thankfully assumed I was just taking a Buzzfeed quiz, so no questions were asked. The best part about her picking Genie was that I could attach a little note to him.


I was walking out of the store, ready to make my purchases, when I came across something I knew I had to get. I was in the book isle, and sitting on a lone shelf was a Golden Girls coloring book. If there’s something my friend loves more than Disney, it’s The Golden Girls.


Now, not only can she put on a face mask, enjoy some veggie chips, and lean back on her plush Genie pillow, but now she can do it all while coloring some Golden Girls. Perfect. Mission success.

After packing everything into the box at home, I topped it off with a card. And what better than a kitten card? Write whatever you want in your card, if you choose to include one. I wrote a funny poem and a personal note.


And here’s the final product. Add some wrapping and decorations if you’d like. I wrapped the pillow and coloring book in tissue paper and tossed some pieces of curled ribbon in there.


All that’s left to do now is send it on its way and hope the chocolate doesn’t melt. Obviously, this care package won’t be for everyone, but I hope it can give you some ideas! Food, health and beauty, and love work for everyone, not just college students. Amy Allender has a great list of care package ideas if you need inspiration! As long as you show your love, in any form, you’re doing it right.

Real Talk


Find Success: Reverse Poetry

Find Success

By Samantha Thuesen

You will fail.

And I cannot imagine that

you will amount to something.

We all believe

Everything happens for a reason.

But that’s not true.

Failure is inevitable.

You will find that


is better than


Life will teach you that

You are alone.

You should never think that

You have a purpose.

Everyone is against you.

It’s silly to think that

You have a future.

Now read it backwards.

Reverse poetry can be read forward and backward, both ways having a different meaning. Here’s another reverse poem called “Lost Generation,” which inspired the above poem I wrote.

Lost Generation

By Jonathan Reed

I am part of a lost generation

and I refuse to believe that

I can change the world

I realize this may be a shock but

“Happiness comes from within.”

is a lie, and

“Money will make me happy.”

So in 30 years I will tell my children

they are not the most important thing in my life

My employer will know that

I have my priorities straight because


is more important than


I tell you this

Once upon a time

Families stayed together

but this will not be true in my era

This is a quick fix society

Experts tell me

30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce

I do not concede that

I will live in a country of my own making

In the future

Environmental destruction will be the norm

No longer can it be said that

My peers and I care about this earth

It will be evident that

My generation is apathetic and lethargic

It is foolish to presume that

There is hope.

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it.

When I was introduced to this kind of poetry, I was immediately captivated. Not only does it encompass two meanings, but it also requires very specific language; the words need to work together to be both positive and negative. This only enhances the beauty of reverse poetry: you need to take the good with the bad.

“Lost Generation” taken from:

Real Talk

10 Ways to Be Happier

Author: Samantha Thuesen

Happiness is our ultimate goal. We strive to land a dream career, start a family, or make a change in the world. These things don’t happen immediately, and therefore it can be challenging at times to maintain a confident, hopeful attitude. Although we’re not going to be happy all the time, there’s still simple ways to make positivity present every day. So, while you’re out there working to achieve your dreams, keep these ten things in mind to help make the journey a happier one.

1. Write down good memories. Whether it’s a funny conversation you had with a friend or something a stranger did that made you smile, write it down in a journal so you can remember it later; it’s therapeutic to reflect on your past, and it can be really funny. When I worked in retail, I wrote down multiple conversations between myself and customers; they range from very pleasant to not so pleasant. Nevertheless, I love going back and reading them because they never fail to make me laugh, and they make for great stories. Things that make you smile in the present will make you smile in the future.

2. Fill your house with plants. Bring life into your home; it will make a noticeable difference in the atmosphere. It’s also good to have a routine or chore to look forward to every day. You may find it relaxing to start your day with watering plants. Buy a watering can that expresses your personality, whether it’s yellow and vintage or pink and shaped like an elephant. Choose your favorite plants. Maybe you want a bouquet of flowers to sit on your kitchen counter, or a cactus garden to sit on your windowsill.

3. Go on solo adventures. It can be very peaceful to spend time with yourself; it gives you an opportunity to explore your thoughts. A solo adventure can be anything from sitting on your porch with a cup of tea to taking a trip to the city. Being alone doesn’t make you lonely, rather it gives you the chance to pay attention to things you put aside when spending time with others; you can figure out what really makes you happy. While spending time with friends, you may enjoy their company over the activity. For instance, I often go mini golfing with friends. I hate mini golfing, but I love the company. While alone, you can hone in on your interests.

4. Read. Books allow you to escape your everyday life for a little while. Find a genre you really like and lose yourself. Books are great conversation starters. You can bond with friends or strangers over your favorite books. Not only are they enjoyable, but they also expand your vocabulary and provide you with life lessons. Sometimes it’s easier for us to deal with situations if we can compare it to someone else, even if that someone else is fictional.

5. Have meaningful conversations with friends and family. Human connection is strengthening. Sharing thoughts and feelings with another person is healthy for both you and the relationship. It’s dangerous to keep feelings locked away; you don’t have all the answers to your problems, and you need to confide in other people. You don’t even have to talk exclusively about personal problems. Talk about the meaning of life or why the sky is blue. Knowing another person on a deeper intellectual level is a great thing.

6. Wake up early. Giving yourself enough time to complete your daily tasks will greatly reduce your stress. Start your day with a nice cup of coffee or tea and watch the sunrise, read a few chapters of a book, or even go for a morning run. Getting into a daily morning routine will stabilize your life. You’re not going to be happy if you wake up late and have to rush every morning, so try going to bed at a reasonable time and you will start each day feeling refreshed. If it’s difficult to go to bed at a reasonable time, trying ending your day with relaxing activities, but stay away from technology.

7. Perform a random act of kindness. Being selfless is a good form of being selfish because it makes everybody feel good. Knowing that you made a stranger’s day better will automatically make your day better. I once volunteered for a Midnight Run, which consists of a group of people driving to New York City at night to give food, supplies, and clothing to the homeless. It was so rewarding to have conversations with strangers and learn more about their lives. If there are any charities near you, go check them out. Play your part in making the world a better place.

8. Keep music playing in your house. Music defines the mood you want your house to set. For instance, classical music is calming. Look for upbeat music to make the atmosphere lively. Singing along to your favorite song while you’re cooking or doing chores is bound to put you in a good mood. It also makes your home more welcoming. If a friend comes over to chat and hang out have music play in the background at a low volume, and it will make for a relaxing environment, like a coffee shop.

9. Reward yourself. It’s alright to splurge on yourself occasionally. You deserve it! If you completed a task for the month, go buy a pair of shoes you liked in the store or a painting you thought would brighten your hallway. If you got a raise at work, go celebrate with some friends or family. We should celebrate our successes because it will make us all more confident and motivated to keep going farther and farther in life.

10. Start a hobby. Hobbies allow you to explore your interests and find pleasure in your free time. It’s good to have something to look forward to after work that isn’t just sitting on the couch. Your hobby can be anything: gardening, coloring, painting, crocheting, scrapbooking, or cooking. Doing these activities in your free time will also make you feel more productive; we often feel that we’ve wasted our time if we sit around doing nothing. Invest your time in pure enjoyment, and you will be happier.

Real Talk

Blogging the Smart Way: An Interview with Greta

Greta Lamfel is the founder of Healthy Living. She completed a Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree with majors in Accounting and Internal Audit. She loves to inspire others and help them to live their best life. Her book titled “When Life Falls Apart” is one way she reaches people who need motivation. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, writing and researching. Greta is a content creator and professional in the ever-changing blogging world. Although she is constantly faced with struggles, Greta has compiled helpful tips to ensure success in educating her readers.  Read our interview with her below:

What do you find most challenging about blogging or running your business?

I actually wrote a blog about the challenges I have faced as a blogger. You may find that blog here 5 Things they Don’t Tell You About Starting a Blog & Why I Wanted to Quit Blogging

However, the challenges I have faced and am still facing from a business perspective are the following:

Finding clients: Most of my clients email me directly or fill in my booking form requesting my writing services. I only receive about 10% of my business from my own efforts, which is something that I am trying to work on. Perhaps I need to improve my advertising efforts? But these efforts require funding which is something I am holding off on for the moment.

Monitoring performance: Google Analytics is a great tool to measure your blog performance, but it takes a lot of time and knowledge to read the results and interpret them.

Editing: I like to edit my blogs myself because I have found that each time I hire an editor to do it, they completely change my writing style. Of course, this takes time and means that I cannot write more blogs than I used to, but my users have become accustomed to my style and I feel that I want to keep it that way.

Although blogging can be stressful, Greta uses tips she’s developed over the years to further her accomplishments!

Describe your experiences with some of the people you’ve met while blogging or doing business?

For the most part, I have met a bunch of lovely bloggers, all wanting to find their little space on the internet. What I’ve noticed, though, is that beauty bloggers seem to reach popularity much faster than say a motivational blogger. Perhaps this is because most women want to be beautiful and if they can get these tips online for free, why not?

In business, I have met all sorts of clients, from the nice ones to the cray-cray ones that call you five times a day. In the end, it’s all about pleasing every client. When I write, I do it to fulfill their desire. They want content and I provide it!

Greta is a blog professional with amazing style!

What networking do you do that helps your blogging or business?

As mentioned above, networking isn’t my strongest trait. I have however met people via Facebook groups, Twitter groups, and Instagram pods.

How do you come up with material/content for your business or blog and keep ideas fresh? 

Most times I get inspiration from everything and anything around me. Sometimes I read other articles to come up with a unique title for a blog. It depends really. I think every blogger will tell you that blog content is sporadic.

I keep ideas fresh by making sure that the content is written differently to what you’ll find on the first page of Google results. People are tired of reading the same content over and over and so I try to write differently than other blogs.

Happiness and motivation are her goals, blogging is the game.

What’s your strategy for your blog or business in general?

My strategy is to motivate and help people with my content.To bring happiness to their life.

What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers or a business can give its customers?

Education. A blog is pointless if it doesn’t educate the reader and leave them with something to think about. A business is pointless if it doesn’t educate its customers on how their product can change their lives.

No blog is ever too small. Greta loves to educate her readers constantly.

What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

I wrote a couple of blogs in this regard, here they are:

What has been your strategy for creating visibility for yourself and/or your blog?

Social media! I use social media regularly by maintaining a posting schedule and joining relevant groups.

If someone was interested in blogging or starting a new business, what would be a few things you would suggest?

I would suggest reading other experiences first before your start. Their experiences can help you to avoid their mistakes. I would also suggest bulking up your social media following. It helps to be popular as these people will often become lifetime readers of your blog.




Instagram blog:


Rappin’ History Teacher

Rapping the Do Now to the Class
As an educator, it is important to engage the learner. What better way to do this than to use original lyrics, music, and humor in the classroom.
Do Now Rap Version: 
As you enter Ms. G’s zone, put away any phones. I’m not here to shout, just take your homework. Take a seat and rock to this funky, funky beat.
Ms G’s on the mic, rocking for her classes. Yeah that’s right. A site. Now check out the board. I’m not here to be ignore. The mic is my sword.
Kicking knowledge in your ear, like a Q-tip but on the smooth tip. My beat won’t sleep. You hear.
Opening your minds to history and law. Don’t drop your jaws, let learning be your saw, tools you’ll never lose unless you choose. Be easy, Jeezy. Yeah, read the board, copy the SWBAT. Don’t be a brat.
Take off any hats. Remember follow the directions. I hope you get the connection. Copy the board, write down the SWBAT.
Let learning be your sword. Everything you need is right there on the board. Do the do do the do do the do do now. You hear me now.
Real Talk


The Power of Spoken Words

#drgarcia #inspirationalblog #blackgirlblogger #chronicillness
Words and beliefs have the meaning you give them. We have the power to control our words, frame our narratives, and create our lives. We can invoke or destroy our dreams by controlling our thoughts and actions. Therefore, we MUST tell the universe what we want and not just think about our desires. We need to speak our thoughts into existence and say them as if they were real. Any thought repeated over and over in the subconscious mind will begin to attract the people and circumstances that match the images within because the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality and fiction. Everything in the universe is made up of energy and our thoughts are the most dynamic and fluid. Like the Great Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind of one can conceive and believe, one can achieve.” The mind is the most powerful tool a human possesses and it is essential to exercise it daily. We must have high expectations for ourselves. The power of spoken word requires that we speak our desires into existence.
Speak it into existence. Say it ALOUD. One way to do this is to look at yourself in the mirror and say whatever goal it is that you desire. For instance, you cannot simply say, “I want to be rich” for that is a general goal. You need to be specific. What do you want to do that will get you the financial freedom that you desire? Do you want to be an entrepreneur, a top-notch surgeon? Be specific. If it isn’t money you desire, what is it? Say it to yourself daily. It could be as simple as wanting to lose five pounds. Whatever it is, you have to believe it. Write sticky notes or notecards. Place them in key places where you will see them daily.
I’ve struggled with YEARS of ailments, an autoimmune illness, misdiagnoses, depression, and anxiety but instead of succumbing to the odds, I’ve made it my mission to turn adversity into triumph and live my best life now. I’ve always wanted to see the world and as a teenager made a promise to myself to do just that. I’ve been on a ROLL and the journey is nowhere near complete, GOD willing. I’ve also said since I was a young child that I would be a doctor when I grew up. I wanted to be a doctor just like Dr. Goldman, my pediatrician, but as I grew older realized I didn’t fancy blood. The desire never faded and I pursued a degree in criminology. In 2009, I received my doctorate. I put that positive energy into the universe and it became real.
#drgarcia #blackgirlblogger #inspirationalblog #bsrealtalk
The big day. I successfully defended my dissertation at John Jay College, CUNY.
A WILD EXAMPLE: Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug czar, hailed as an angel by some but a demon by most once told his cousin that he was the most important person in the world after the pope with a straight face. His cousin, Gustavo, who was his road dog looked at him as if he were crazy, but Pablo was serious. He believed it and used that mantra to become one of the richest men in the world. Clearly he used his energy in a negative manner but imagine if he channeled that energy towards fruitful goals. After watching his story, I was impressed by his confidence not his actions and will continue to apply this mantra to my life goals. I’ve always believed in myself and applied the principles of desire, determination, and dedication to my life, but watching his story took it to another level. I even recorded what he said to his cousin in Spanish in a playful manner:
I know the mind is powerful and convey to this to the students whom I teach: If you believe it, you can do it. The mind can be limiting and fulfilling: you choose. Every day I am in some type of pain, whether it be my head, my back as I suffer from two herniated discs L4, L5, my feet from the two foot surgeries I had, but I have to survive. The thing is I will do more than survive. I will to thrive.
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time-” Albert Einstein.
On March 25th, I along with two others will be hosting the area’s first Mind, Body, Soul Connection and the power of spoken word will be one of the topics. Get your tickets today on Eventbrite: She’s With Me or on my welcome page.

#bsrealtalk #sheswithme #womenempowerment

Real Talk


Why I Travel So Much- Real Talk

#bsrealtalk #maui #drgarcia #whyitravelsomuch #dreamtrips
Why I Travel So Much – Real Talk
Those who know me, know I love to travel. Sometimes I hear people say, “You’re  so lucky. You’ve been everywhere. You’ve been to China, England, Spain, and everywhere.” But is it luck? I beg to differ more like the will to see the world and create happiness for myself. I remember when I didn’t travel anywhere besides the occasional road trip down south to see family. The first time I took a flight, I paid for it myself at 17.  It was the summer before college, and I flew alone to Charlotte to see family. I was so scared and to top things off on the way home the plane was low on fuel. The pilot had to make an emergency landing. People were praying and saying their Hail Marys. I just took it all in and hoped I made it safely. I knew there was much more of this world to be seen and I was just starting. Traveling is my medicine now. If I’m feeling down, it’s time to book a flight to somewhere warm. My favorite go-to is Miami. It’s affordable, warm and quick.
As a child, my go-to was work. My parents coming from very humble beginnings worked many hours to provide for my sisters and me. When I was able to work at the age of 14, I got a job. During my senior year in high school, I had three jobs. I interned at the local news times, worked in the after school program and at Carvel Ice Cream. I’ve always kept busy and loved having my own money. But soon the desire to see the world exploded. Each year in my Advance Placement class, the students would converse about upcoming trips.
These students were from a different social class and had the luxury of taking real vacations. I will never forget one day before spring break in eleventh grade, students were talking about their upcoming trips. One student said he was going to Hawaii with his parents, the others mentioned going to Madrid with the school. The list continued and included places such as England, France, and the Caribbean. When the question found me, I would simply state that I had to work. It was true, but inside I burned. I wanted to go to Spain and Hawaii. I never wanted to feel like that way again, so I made a vow to myself at 16 years old that when I got some real money, I would go wherever I wanted to go, whenever: PERIOD.
I think I caught up now, but am nowhere near completing my bucket list. My first trip abroad was to Cancun and I was super proud that as a 19 years old college student, I was able to save up enough money to go. I was in heaven with the ocean and meeting people from every where. The following year, I completed a language immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I studied conversational Spanish, met a Mexican guy named Pedro who taught me how to dance Salsa. Most people are surprised that I learned Salsa in Mexico and not Puerto Rico, the “Salsa” capital. The family I resided with were amazing; they practiced their English with me. Only the mother and the maid spoke Spanish which gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish. Staying there for a month opened up another world to me.
With gainful employment and an awesome travel club*, I’ve been to Mexico, Barcelona, Madrid, China, England, Holland, Czech Republic, Austria, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Belize (Our first official family trip in 2010, my father’s homeland), Barbados, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and numerous big cities in the east, midwest, south, and west coasts.
This list is not exhaustive; there’s so much more of the world I want to see and show my daughter. I would like her to see the world beyond her inner circle.  I don’t want her to be that student in the classroom, when they go around the room discussing upcoming trips, say she has no travel plans. I want her to return to school and provide first hand knowledge about the Forbidden City in China. And tell them about the pyramids that she visited in Egypt when the lesson calls. She will be well- versed in the world around her beyond the books she has to read.
Real Talk

*Click here to see where some of our members have been.

I never leave home without my travel pillow!



The featured image is at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii (2016)-a place I’ve been longing to visit since high school.