Things I’ve Accomplished In My Twenties (so far)

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To speak like an elementary school kid, I am 24 and a half. It’s easy to look back on this decade in my life and feel like I’ve gotten literally NOTHING done. I’m “between” jobs, I’m single, don’t have my own apartment, and I don’t drive. It’s easy to feel like I’m not getting anything I want done, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t accomplished anything in the last four and half years, right? Of course not! Here are ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far):

I Graduated From College: This is probably the first big thing that comes to mind. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English just a few days before my 22nd birthday. I completed it in four years, which not everyone does, so I guess that’s pretty awesome?? I graduated with honors, cum laude, and all that fancy stuff. And I made friends I still chat with today!

I Made Friends: Ya know, I spent a huge, and I mean huge chunk of my life believing that I was bad at making friends. Starting in elementary school I had bullies, in fifth grade I moved to a different school district (you know what THAT does for a kid’s social life), and it wasn’t until middle school that I started having “best friends.” In high school I had a few best friends, and then in college I had even more.

I have one or two friends I’ve kept in touch with from high school. And about four or five I still keep in touch with from college, so you can see how things improved! And it only took like a quarter of a century! Seriously, I hadn’t thought about making friends as an accomplishment until this moment, but it is one, isn’t it? You’re lucky if you can find good, kind friends. But it’s also something that requires effort and good habits to keep in touch.

I Embraced My Sexuality: This is a multi-faceted, complex one, the main part being that I embraced being bi/pansexual with a preference for women. I still have some anxiety here and there, but ultimately I feel really good about who I am, and I couldn’t be prouder to be queer. Learning and connecting more with the LGBTQ community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

But there’s more to sexuality than my orientation, so it’s kind of like I’m working on phase two of my sexuality confidence. For me, this means learning to feel more comfortable in my body, and feeling sexy, beautiful and confident by own standards, not by society’s. It means conforming sometimes to my culture’s standard of beauty for women (i.e- shaving my legs), while also needing to love my body for everything it is in its natural state.

This is a big thing to work on, and honestly, it’s a no wonder it feels so daunting. The U.S has to be one of the most sex negative countries in the world. Especially if you’re a women, it can be hard to unlearn all of the toxic things we internalize. Like needing to be “pure,” waiting until marriage, slut shaming, etc.

Sooo this is a work in progress for me. Maybe I need to watch more French films. The French are cool with sex, right?

I Wrote Things: One thing I’ve definitely focused on since I graduated from college is writing. I self published six poetry books and a book of short stories, and gave a book to one of my favorite bands. I wrote articles for a magazine in Manhattan, did freelance work for a marketing agency (short-lived and under paid, but it still happened!), I started (and maintained) this blog, submitted poems, articles, and stories while facing rejection, persevering with my work like a BOSS, and I worked on bunch of other projects that only my eyes have seen.

I’ve also seen how my words have been able to move, comfort, and inspire people, whether it’s in my poetry books, or something I post on the internet. It’s confirmed that words have power, and that this is one of my gifts in this life. I’ve learned that it’s hard, I mean really hard to make money as a writer, but I’ve also learned how satisfying it is for me to take a DIY approach to this craft, and other artsy things as well. It’s a huge part of my life, and it’s one of the best things to come out of my twenties.

I Went To Vegas: It was rad. First time on the West Coast ❤

I Voted For A Woman For President: Okay, we all know how this one turned out. But still, I got to vote for a woman! How cool is that?!

I Applied To Grad School: Applying to grad school is something I considered doing for a long time. I thought about applying for something related to my current degree, like English or creative writing, but it didn’t create more job opportunities like I wanted, and needed. Eventually I decided to apply for a master’s degree in social work, and if I get accepted, I’ll be starting school next fall. Fingers crossed!

I Went To Concerts: I’ve gotten to see a few awesome artists in concert. Demi Lovato (got a photo with her, too! Thanks to my cousin), Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, Kesha, DNCE, Kristen Chenoweth, Christina Perri, Kiesza, and Little Mix. Here’s to many more!

I Learned How To Navigate The NYC Subway: For reasons I can’t explain, I had this weird thing where I associated being an adult with being able to navigate the NYC subway system. I guess I felt like, if I can learn my way around Manhattan, I can learn my way around anywhere. Hit me up if you need directions to the Financial District.

I Celebrated Samhain: I didn’t do much, just made some art and had my own little dinner. I’ve been learning more about witchcraft, paganism, and other forms of spirituality. I’ve been meditating with crystals, and following different thought leaders like Mastin Kipp, Gabby Bernstein, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the Dalai Lama.

This is a super important path for me, because I’m pursuing my spirituality on my own terms without worrying about anyone else’s dogma or approval. I’m finding my own path, and I’d say that’s important for any twenty-something.

So there it is, ten things I’ve accomplished in my twenties (so far). I’m four and half years into this decade, and I truly hope more good things are to come. I may not have everything I want, but I’m on my own journey and moving forward at my own pace. Your accomplishments are treasures. I hope you collect many on your own travels.

-Ashley

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Liberal Arts, STEM, and the best degrees for jobs

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Figuring out your career path can be tough. After all, who can possibly choose what they want to do for the rest of their life? It’s a lot of pressure to put on someone, especially an 18 year old. Heck, I’m 24, and it’s still a lot of pressure! I like writing about career paths because there’s soooo much I didn’t know when I was an undergrad.

While I don’t think there should be this huge divide between Liberal Arts and STEM degrees, I do feel that most people end up choosing one path over the other, and that these preferences reflect the kinds of careers one would be happiest in. Below, you’ll find a list of the best degrees for employment in each of these paths. This list is more general, and it is by no means all-inclusive.

Let’s start with Liberal Arts. 

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Now, this isn’t exactly a list of the best liberal arts degrees. Instead, it’s the best paths of study for people who gravitate toward broad science and humanities subjects. One thing you’ll find is that people who want to study more general subjects, like math, biology, English, or History, will find more opportunities if they pursue masters degrees or PhD’s. Specifically, if they pursue advanced degrees that will increase their chances of finding a job.

Here are some degrees to consider:

Education – I know, there’s nothing more cliche than asking a liberal arts major/degree holder if she wants to be a teacher. We’ve all been asked this at some point! But education is still a great career path for the right person, and a masters degree in this subject will give you an edge. The job outlook is especially good for preschool and elementary school teachers. Elementary school pays more, and so there’s more competition. The jobs are there, though, especially if you are willing to relocate.

Law – I include law school on this list because it’s hard not to. Everyone knows lawyers have some serious earning potential. Unfortunately, many people get law degrees these days, and so competition is fierce, especially if you want to work for a major firm. More jobs are opening up in corporate settings, but it’s not a guaranteed paycheck the way it used to be. Law school is a lot of work, and it’s expensive. Pursue your dreams, but be informed of the reality of the job market.

Social Work – You’ll have the most opportunities in the field with a masters degree in Social Work (MSW). There are many specialties in this field, including: family and children, schools, mental health, and healthcare. There are also many opportunities in nonprofits, the government, universities, politics, and business.

Salaries vary based on specialty, the type of organization you work for, and years of experience. Social Service managers have the highest earning potential. Many positions in this field can lead to burnout, so you have to take good care of yourself. But if you want to help people, and do your research on the realities of your specialty, this can be a worthwhile degree to pursue. The job outlook for a MSW is very good.

Mental Health – Like social work, the job outlook in mental health is good. A bachelor’s degree in psychology may make the job search a bit of a challenge. But a masters degree in mental health counseling, social work, (and maybe psychology or sociology) can often help you find jobs in counseling and therapy. If you have a degree in psych, a PhD can help you start a career as a psychologist, researcher, or professor.

Business – Like law, I add business to this list with a grain of salt. It can provide excellent opportunities as a career path, but as a degree? It depends. Many people get MBAs, have experience, and still struggle to find work. I think part of this is because many jobs in business don’t require a degree in the subject. One can also argue that this degree fits under the STEM umbrella. I include it in this Liberal Arts list because I feel that many creative, lib arts people are drawn to business as well.

This is one field where your bachelor’s degree in art history or philosophy can still pay off. You can find careers in management, marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, and human resources. Some, like marketing, are especially competitive, but these careers can be worth the effort for those who don’t wish to pursue an advanced degree. (Tip: Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up.)

Economics – Another degree that can fit under the STEM umbrella, economics is probably the highest paying liberal arts subject. Your challenge: advanced classes in math and statistics, and a love of research and data. Are you up for it?? If so, great! A bachelor’s degree in this subject could be the start of a lucrative career with a fair job outlook. You’ll need to get a masters or a PhD for the best opportunities.

Okay, those are a few advanced degree options for my liberal arts loves 🙂 ❤

Let’s move on to STEM. 

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In the U.S, everyone is told to get a STEM degree. But even people who eat, sleep, and breathe math and science can choose a less than lucrative degree path. Unlike people who prefer to study the liberal arts, people who study STEM have more options to make money with an associates or bachelor’s degree alone (how fancy!!).

Still, people who major in math, biology, chemistry, or even computer science may still struggle to know what to do after graduation. Here is a broad, if not a bit self-explanatory, list of the best degree paths to choose:

Medicine – As far as years of education go, the medical field is by far the most versatile. You can get an associates degree to be a rad tech or ultra sound tech, a bachelor’s degree to be a nurse, a masters to be an advanced nursing practitioner, healthcare administrator, or physician assistant, and of course you can go to medical school. If you enjoy helping people and are comfortable in hospitals and medical offices, a degree in the healthcare field can help you get an in demand job.

While associates degrees or even certificates can be a great way to start your career, keep in mind that they are less versatile than a bachelor’s, making a career change later on a bit more of a challenge. Medical careers also often require you to pass an exam to be certified in your state. Some jobs require you to be on your feet all day, and to sometimes lift and move patients. If you go to medical school, do your research. Specialties with a poor job outlook do exist!

Computer Science – We all know technology is a booming industry. Programmers, web developers, web designers, software engineers, and junior developers are all in demand, and make a good paycheck. Most jobs will want you to have a bachelor’s degree in CS, but some people in the field are self taught, or have a degree in another science, like physics.

This field can be challenging because your degree program won’t teach you many things you need to know for the job, like programming languages. As someone who’s dabbled in learning HTML, CSS, Python, Java, and Ruby, I can say it can be a bit exhausting. It’s an ever changing field, so you need to always learn and stay up to date. Jobs with startups and agencies can lead some people to feel burned out. But if you can dedicate yourself to learning code and staying current, this field can definitely be worth it.

Engineering – Ah, engineering, arguably the coolest STEM career path. It’s one of those areas where many people in the U.S say we’re “falling behind.” Despite these claims, most specialties in engineering have a slower than average job outlook according to the BLS. The job outlook isn’t great for: mechanical, environmental, electrical, and chemical engineers.

I’m not saying you can’t find a job in these subjects. I don’t have an engineering degree, so I can’t say fully. But based on what I’ve read, Civil Engineering offers the most job growth, and you’ll have the best opportunities with a masters degree in the subject. Petroleum engineering also has a good outlook (10% job growth), but I know this specialty depends on the economy and the industry as a whole. Be prepared to study math and physics!

Accounting – Good old, stable accounting. Of course the job outlook here is good. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another subject, but still want to be an accountant, fear not. There are a select few masters programs that are designed for people with BA’s in unrelated subjects. It’s also possible to take core classes at community college, and to apply for a masters after. The best opportunities are found if you sit for the CPA (certified public accountant) exam.

If you pursue this path, you should love numbers, because you’ll be looking at financial records all day! A few months out of the year, such as during tax season, work hours can be long and stressful, but after that, things settle down. Competition is tough to work for a major accounting firm, and those first few years may be stressful, but stick with it! Things get better, especially if you can branch out to work for smaller firms. Many people find having a specialty, like helping small businesses or families with their taxes, to be very rewarding.

Finding a balance between following your passion and paying your bills can be tough. But educating yourself on the best options, and the not so great options, can be a big help. If your heart isn’t in pursuing a new degree, or if you’re no longer in love with your field, don’t worry. Just be persistent. Believe in yourself and find support ❤

Whether choosing a new degree path or exploring career options, knowledge is your key. Learn all you can, be wiser than you were yesterday, and always try your best. You’ve got this ❤

-ATL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing: Which is Better?

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Most writers have one goal–to get their work out into the world. Okay, maybe some writers have a few more fancy goals: like getting published by a “Big 5” publishing house, getting rich by writing a best selling novel, or seeing their books on shelves alongside the works of JK Rowling, John Green, Stephen King, and Nora Roberts. Or maybe the indie authors out there hope to sell millions of books like E.L. James.

Regardless of what your ambitions are as a writer, many people probably ask themselves at one point or another, which is better? Traditional publishing or self publishing? I think the answer is…it depends.

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The pros of traditional publishing:

When people think of traditional publishing, they probably imagine a novel being published by Penguin Random House, or a memoir being published by Simon and Schuster. They imagine authors getting a three book deal, complete with a side of New York City glamour. But traditional publishing can also mean getting published in a literary, consumer, or trade magazine, getting a chapbook published by a small press, or getting an article published in a reputable blog. Some benefits of traditional publishing include:

Money – This doesn’t just include money you might make from your work, like $150 for a magazine article, or a $5,000 advance you might get from a book deal. This also includes the money the company has to invest in your book, which they can use to hire editors, designers, marketing managers, accountants, lawyers, etc… Alone, you might have little or no money to invest in turning your book into a great product. Publishing companies can help you get additional resources through their budget.

Connections – Publishing companies, especially the larger, more successful ones, will have connections to all kinds of people in the industry. This means they can get your book into stores. They can reach out to well known authors to see if they’d read your book, and share their thoughts so you have a nice quote on your book jacket. I believe Nora Roberts has a book where there’s a quote from exactly one person–Stephen King. On it, it says, “Nora Roberts is cool.” Who wouldn’t want that?

An Established Brand – If a company has an established brand, it means consumers are familiar with them, and they trust the books to be good. If a book is published by Simon and Schuster, I expect to like it. A well known company will also have an established social media presence, so even if you don’t write a bestseller, you at least know your book is reaching some people.

Books as a Business – Publishing companies have one main goal– to make books that sell. Many writers may only want to think about the creative side of their art. They want to do what they love, while not necessarily thinking about business or money. Most writers today can’t avoid the responsibility of doing at least a little marketing, but they’re doing it with the guidance of their publisher. Publishing companies see your book as a product, and they’ll know how to make decisions that will sell it.

As you can see, there are many benefits to traditional publishing, but are there some cons? Maybe. Here are a few:

Time – Whether you’re submitting book proposals, articles, poems, or short stories, it can take months to here back from a publisher. Trying to get published takes an enormous amount of patience. If all you want to do is share you work with others, you may find there are faster ways to do it yourself.

Rejection – Every writer has rejection letters. Even Stephen King. Even JK Rowling. It’s unavoidable in this business that you will face rejection, often months after you have submitted something.

Books as a Business –  I mentioned this earlier as a pro, but it can also be a serious con. There’s a reason celebrities and famous YouTubers can get book deals fairly easily. It’s not necessarily because these people are amazing writers (though several of them are, i.e- Hannah Hart, Allison Raskin & Gaby Dunn).

It also doesn’t mean these book deals are the greatest offers. Some publishers will give the author a ridiculously short time to write the book, and they mention it will be “heavily edited.” All of this is because publishers want to make books that will sell. This can be discouraging to writers who have spent years honing their craft. Writers who eat, sleep, and breathe words. Is it fair? Nope. But it is business.

Those are some pros and cons of traditional publishing.

How about self publishing? Self publishing can mean many things. It can mean publishing your own ebooks on Kindle or iBooks, publishing print books through CreateSpace or Lulu, starting a blog, creating a chapbook or zine, or printing your stories or poems in a booklet and handing them out to people. Are there pros and cons? Let’s examine them below.

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Pros of self publishing:

Freedom – Self publishing allows you to make all creative and business decisions yourself. You get to choose your own cover design, price, book layout, and you get to make all final editing decisions. You don’t necessarily have to think about “what will sell” if you don’t want to. You can do things your own way.

Running a Business – It can be very satisfying to create your own product and to run your own small business. Even if you only make a few bucks or a few hundred dollars, it can be a nice confidence boost and it gives you a side hustle.

Time – You don’t have to wait months to here back from a publisher. You can publish your book whenever you want, and if you have a blog, sharing your work with the world is just a click away.

Those are a few pros. Here are some cons:

Money and Resources – Without the help of a publisher, it may be more difficult to have outside help in editing, designing and promoting your book. It may also be more difficult to get your book into stores.

Running a Business – For some people, running a business is fun and empowering. However, other people might not enjoy this part because all they want to do is write. They don’t want to think about creating a product, they just want to follow their passion. Some people don’t want to do it all themselves, and that’s completely fine.

Finding Readers – All writers, especially these days, have to work to promote their books. But this is especially true for self published authors. You have to be creative and find ways to connect with people and share your work, whether it’s online or in person.

So, which is better?

Like I said earlier, it depends. I think if you’re trying to publish books that traditionally “don’t sell,” like poetry books or short stories, self publishing can be a great option because you get to share your work, run a business, and have fun. If you’re trying to publish a novel or nonfiction book, I think it’s up to you. If you want to self publish, awesome! If you want to submit your query to publishers, it could be worth the effort.

You spent months or years writing the manuscript, so waiting a few months for a rejection (or acceptance!) letter isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. If you want to publish articles, poems, or short stories, you can always try submitting to magazines, and if that doesn’t work, you can always share it on your blog and grow your brand.

Self publishing and traditional publishing offer different paths. Both require hard work and dedication. At the end of the day, I think it’s all about sharing your work with the world and connecting with others.

Which publishing method will you choose?

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Thanks for reading! ❤ I hope you enjoyed this article and found a few useful tips 🙂 I recently self published a book of short stories titled Impossible Things. It’s a book of magical realism stories that includes magic, werewolves, and mermaids! There’s also some LGBT and Black girl representation.

It’s available on Amazon for $20, and it’s available on Kindle and the Kindle App for half price. If you like short stories, check it out here:

https://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Things-Ashley-Tiara-Lilly/dp/1547077476/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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English and Communications Degree: Careers, Grad School, and Finding Your Path

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Figuring out your career path when you have a degree that doesn’t lead to a specific job can be tough. People who study subjects like English, history, philosophy, or general maths and sciences like biology or chemistry are often assumed by others to have limited jobs available to them.

It’s certainly not as straightforward as studying engineering, nursing, education, medicine, law, social work, mental health, or accounting. Degrees that lead to a specific career path take out the guesswork of having to choose a career after graduation. Having a more broad degree still has it’s advantages, however, because you don’t have to feel stuck in one career path.

For creative types, this can be a good thing, because we can get restless, curious, and bored if we feel restricted to one path. I know, this all sounds fine and dandy until you’re left with an empty wallet, no sense of direction, a “useless” degree, and an overwhelming pile of debt. But the truth is, the old mantra they used to tell us in elementary school is true, knowledge really IS power.

All degrees open up doors to more careers and more opportunities. The challenge of carving out a career path when your degree doesn’t lead to a specific job is exactly that, a challenge. Are you up for it? I think you are! Even people who have degrees in accounting or engineering should know that their degree opens MANY doors, not just the one path. Anyone can want a career change in their life at any time, so the truth is, what you study, in many cases, doesn’t matter. Many people end up pursuing careers not related to what they studied.

If you have a degree in English, Communications, or any other liberal arts subject, don’t believe there are no careers out there for you. There are several. Does that mean it will be easy to get started? Not at all. You have to choose a path that’s right for you, and then you have to build your resume up with relevant experience if you don’t already have it. Volunteering for a local nonprofit is probably the best way to do it.

Internships can be good, too, but sometimes you need experience for those, too. Choosing a nonprofit and volunteering with them for at least a year is a great way to gain experience. Try to volunteer doing something related to the career you want. If you don’t know what you want to do, try out a few things within the organization. If you can do this before you graduate, even better.

Building a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, try things, fail, and fail again. It means you’re one step closer to success. If you’re still trying to figure out your career, your not alone. I’m in the same boat, but I know we can do it 🙂 Here are some careers to consider if you have a degree in English or Communications:

Journalist for newspapers, magazines, or blogs

Editorial Assistant

Publicity Assistant

Junior Copywriter

Senior Copywriter

Proofreader/ Copy Editor

Fact Checker

Grant Writer

Fundraiser

Technical Writer

Accounting Clerk

Social Media Manager

Event Planner

Public Relations Specialist

Marketing Assistant

Marketing Manager

Account Executive

Assistant Manager

General Manager

Human Resources Assistant

Administrative Assistant

Medical Receptionist

Executive Assistant

English/Literacy Teacher

ESL/TESOL Instructor

Tour Guide

Art Gallery Associate

These are some of the careers you can consider if you have a degree in English or communications. For some, you may need to learn new skills or get a new certification, but if it’s something you really want to do, it’s more than worth it. You can also consider these subjects for grad school:

English

Creative Writing

Library Science

Media Studies

Education

Literacy and Language

Public Relations

Advertising

The truth is, you can study anything in grad school. Don’t have the prerequisites you need? Go back to community college and take them. That’s not to say that it’s easy, or that taking on more debt or spending more money is a casual decision. But it’s important to realize that you are not limited by your degree. There is nothing wrong with studying something you love. In my opinion, it’s what you should do every time. Follow your bliss.

Building a career is not easy. Having options is great, but you do need to choose a path and you do need to gain experience. The path to gaining experience, interning, or volunteering may seem long, but look at it this way. The time you spend volunteering and learning from experience, is not much different from the time someone else is spending in grad school, med school, or law school. Things take time, and that is okay.

Stay strong and believe in yourself. You have options, you have a future, and you have opportunities. Get out there and find them. I’ll be doing the same. ❤

 

 

Need some motivation for your New Year’s resolutions? Check out my article in Global Glam :)

Sometimes a little motivation goes a long way to get us back on track. The important thing is to remember that you’re never alone in pursuing your dreams.

Some things I’m focusing on are writing, keeping in touch with friends, and drinking water. How about you? I hope this year brings many good things your way ❤ Check out my article here:

http://www.globalglam.com/time-to-rethink-your-new-years-resolution-10-tips-to-keep-up-your-goals/

A couple of short stories I wrote are published on The Haunting of Sunshine Girl website :)

Check out the stories here:

http://thehauntingofsunshinegirl.com/scary-stories.php

And if you’re not familiar with The Haunting of Sunshine Girl YouTube channel or book series, be sure to check those out as well!! ❤ 🙂

I made a list of ten gorgeous destinations for a digital detox :)

Which one is your favorite? ❤

Here Are The 10 Best Destinations For A Digital Detox ~ Time To Unplug

When it comes to taking a break from technology, sometimes a change of scenery is just the thing you need. These locations are sure to give you time to relax and unplug. Here Are The 10 Best Destinations For A Digital Detox ~ Time To Unplug

By: Ashley Tiara Lilly

The internet can be an amazing thing. With one click, you can connect with people from all over the world, stay caught up on the latest news, or order that new pair of Jimmy Choo’s you’ve been wanting. It’s important to take a break from technology, too, but this can be a challenge when it’s so integrated into the way we work and keep in touch. Sometimes the perfect way to find balance is to find a relaxing getaway, and this list will help you to do just that. Here are ten of the best locations to visit for a digital detox:

Bled, Slovenia

Take a break from your laptop and travel to this gorgeous resort town in Central Europe. The breathtaking view of Lake Bled is sure to clear your mind and refresh your spirit. You’ll also want to explore Bled Castle and Adventure Park.

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Bled, Slovenia for a digital Detox

See the full article at GlobalGlam.com