Princesses Who Shaped the Roles of Modern Day Royals

Modern day female royals are extremely influential, but this path had to first be paved by the princesses who came before them. From Princess Caroline to Princess Charlotte, these are a few of the princesses that had a huge impact on society in the 18th century, providing a blueprint for future generations of female royalty to follow.

Princess with teacup and umbrella

Princess Caroline
Also known as Caroline of Amsbach, Princess Caroline was a highly sought after bride, and ended up marrying the future King George II. Caroline was extremely intelligent and had a curious mind, outshining her husband in so many different aspects of life. While Caroline contributed to society in numerous ways, she is most remembered for being an incredible pioneer of medicine. Caroline carried out experiments with the smallpox vaccine, first on prisoners and then on her own children, all to favorable results. She was also an avid jewellery collector, and spent a large amount of time curating portraits and other pieces of art, emphasizing the importance of art to society.

Princess in pink

Princess Augusta
Princess Augusta was married to Princess Caroline’s eldest son, Frederick Prince of Wales, but, unfortunately for her, never became queen as her husband died quite young. However, her son, George III, was next in line to be king, and Augusta was absolutely crucial in shaping his reign. George III rightfully trusted his mother and her advice, and bestowed huge amounts of political influence upon him, guiding him to a position from which he could take control of the country on his own.

Woman in castle

Princess Charlotte
After Princess Augusta’s husband died, her son, King George III, took the throne and needed to find a wife. A Colonel was sent to Germany to seek out a suitable match, and Princess Charlotte was discovered. Rather than being picked for beauty, she was chosen for her high level of intelligence, as well as her sense of humor. As she settled in to life in England, Charlotte became a huge advocate of the arts, including those by masters such as Bach and Mozart, the latter of whom dedicated six sonatas to the Queen. In addition to also significantly expanding the collection at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Charlotte was also known for being the very first person in the country to have a Christmas tree, thus introducing this tradition to the United Kingdom.

The Enlightened Princesses Exhibition
Each of these three German princesses married into the British royal family in the 18th century, and had a huge effect when it came to shaping the role of the princess in the modern world. In order to bring attention to this, the Yale Center for British Art is hosting an exhibition titled The Enlightened Princesses, which features over 300 pieces that celebrate the influence that these women had. From extravagant court costumes to botanical illustrations and garden designs, to artwork created by royal children, this exhibition highlights how each princess was a huge advocate for the arts, sciences and trade industries, while showcasing the importance that they placed on the health of women and the welfare of children.

Princess Caroline, Augusta and Charlotte were each known for being passionate and innovative, contributing to just about every aspect of society and influencing an international audience. Today’s princesses are known for doing the same thing, but this would most likely not be the case if these earlier princesses had not paved the way for them.

You Should Give Improv a Go

Short for improvisation, improv focuses on the spontaneous creation of action without any pre-planning, and while it may tend to be taught as a comedic art form, there is so much more to it than this. Taking an improv class has so many different benefits, from boosting confidence to training the brain, so even if improv may feel like something that is so far removed from your comfort zone, it is still most definitely worth giving it a go.

Dancing class

A Confidence Booster
There is no getting around the fact that you will feel silly performing some of the improvisation tasks you will be asked to do in a class, but this is exactly what helps to build confidence. Rather than worrying about what you look like and what others are thinking of you, improv teaches you to let go and live in the moment, which will give you a whole new air of confidence. This is the reason why improv is often recommended to those that suffer from anxiety and shyness, as it can really help to change your perspective on life.

Public Speaking Skills
Research has shown that performing and speaking in public is, on average, the biggest fear in the USA, even coming in front of the fear of dying. Rather than allowing social anxiety to hold you back, take an improv class to help improve your public speaking skills.

Public speaking

A Brain Trainer
Improvisation classes are a great way to train your brain to act faster, which is helpful in so many different situations. The fact that improvisation does away with all pre-planning and preparation means that your brain needs to organize ideas, emotions and sentences straight away, which is a fantastic form of brain training.

What to Expect at an Improv Class
Not knowing what to expect can often be the most frightening part of taking an improv class for many, but, no matter what your class may consist of, you can be sure that you will have plenty of fun. Improv takes place in a group setting, and most of the learning will be done via games and exercises, with the whole group involved. There is very rarely individual work to do, meaning that nervous beginners will find safety and comfort in numbers. Many people that take an improv class for the first time feel as though they have to try extremely hard to be funny, but this is not the case. Let go of any expectations that you may have, and just enjoy being in the moment. Taking this extra pressure off of yourself will enable you to really be free and make the most of the class.

Woman acting

Even if you are not looking to be an actor or performer, an improv class can still be extremely useful, as it will provide you with skills that you can apply to just about every area of your life. From boosting your confidence and aiding with social anxiety, to training your brain to work faster, improv classes will help to improve your whole outlook on life, and will be plenty of fun too.

Learn How to Be a Good Listener

Listening skills are hugely important in just about every aspect of life, and while many people may think that they already are a good listener, there are still likely to be some areas in which you could improve. From understanding the importance of eye contact to ignoring all distractions, following these tips will help you to really improve on your listening skills.

Friends chatting

Ignore All Distractions
One of the key aspects to being a good listener is knowing how to ignore all distractions around you, focussing solely on the person who is speaking. While this may seem easy, it does take a certain level of mental effort to really eliminate all distractions, but this will show the speaker just how much you care about what they are saying.

Eye Contact
Eye contact is vital when someone is speaking, as it shows that you are engaged in the conversation, and are paying full attention. This is another area that can often require quite a bit of mental effort, but is easy to practice each time you have a conversation with someone.

Friends chatting

Positive Body Language
While listening means that you should not be talking, your body language can still speak for you. Rather than fidgeting around, crossing your arms, or gazing across the room, lean forward towards the speaker, in an enthusiastic, but relaxed nature.

Ask the Right Questions
A good listener does not just sit there silently and be spoken at, but rather knows how to further the conversation, opening up new paths, by asking the right questions. This is a skill that can take some time to master, as you need to learn how to be able to shape the conversation with the questions that you choose.

Listening attentively

Show Some Empathy
Empathy is so important, even if you do not completely relate to what is being said. By taking a moment to put yourself in the speaker’s shoes, trying to understand exactly how they are feeling, you will be much better equipped to display a genuine form of compassion that will be greatly appreciated. Even if you make a mistake and fail to fully understand the situation, the speaker will still be able to see that you are trying to have empathy, and this will make a huge difference.

Don’t Change the Subject
Changing the subject prematurely is quite common in business settings, as well as social group encounters, but this only shows that you do not have an interest in the subject being discussed, and think that what you have to say is more important. The only time in which you should change the subject of a conversation is when that particular discussion is well and truly over.

Listening skills will aid you in just about every part of your life, from dealing with colleagues at the office to personal relationships at home. Even if you feel that you already are a great listener, listening skills can always be improved, and it really does not take too much effort to do so.

Five Reasons to Try Vegetarian

While the popularity of vegetarianism is rapidly on the rise, there are some who still feel as though giving up meat would be too big of a sacrifice to make. However, there are so many benefits that come with a vegetarian diet, so here are five reasons to persuade you to give vegetarianism a try.

Vegetarian

Slow Down the Aging Process
A study recently published in the British Medical Journal discovered that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by up to six years, which is hardly surprising considering all of the nutrients that come with a plant-based diet. Not only are these rich in fiber, but they are alo high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, all of which play individual roles in slowing down the aging process. In addition to this, a plant-based diet can also prevent, as well as reverse, certain chronic diseases, giving vegetarians a longer, and healthier, life.

Prevent the Three Biggest Killers
Heart disease is the number one killer out there, with cancer and strokes being the second and third, but a healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet is able to protect the body from all three of these. In fact, doctors have even had success in unclogging arteries and reversing heart disease purely by prescribing a vegan diet.

Woman with ferret

Support the Environment
Countless studies have shown, and the United Nations has also confirmed, that eating meat is the reason behind some of the most serious environmental problems that we face today. For example, the meat industry is responsible for 40% more greenhouse gases than all of the cars, trucks and planes in the world combined, and are also linked to everything from land degradation to water pollution to climate change to loss of biodiversity.

Animal Welfare
While you may like to think that your meat has been raised on lush green pastures and happy farmyard homes, the reality is far from this, and if the general public really knew what happened in factory farms today, there would be many more vegetarians in the world. Animals that are commonly eaten, such as chickens and pigs, are actually known to be smarter than animals that are usually kept as pets, such as dogs and cats, so rather than supporting the abhorrent conditions that these creatures are kept in, give vegetarianism a try. It is believed that an individual who gives up meat is able to save around 100 animal lives each year, which is a good enough reason in itself for any true animal lover.

Woman standing on weighing scale

Weight Loss
More than two thirds of the general public are obese, but vegetarians on average tend to have a lower BMI, which is the measure of body fat, than meat eaters. Vegetarians are much less likely to be obese, and are significantly lighter than meat eaters, making vegetarianism the healthiest of weight loss diets.

As you can see, a vegetarian diet brings with it so many incredible benefits. Not only would you be making huge improvements to your own health, but you would also be supporting the world around you, so make 2017 the year in which you give vegetarianism a try.

Planning a Volunteer Vacation

A volunteer vacation, also known as voluntourism, is an extremely meaningful and worthwhile way to spend your time, but, in order for your trip to really be productive and fulfilling, there are a number of aspects that you need to consider beforehand. From narrowing down a destination to picking a cause, here are some tips on how to plan a volunteer vacation.

Volunteers
Picking a Cause
Whether you plan on volunteering for a few days or a few months, picking a cause to help out with is the very first step. Since you will be working hard under most likely challenging conditions, you would be best off supporting a cause that is close to your heart, and means something to you personally, as this will provide you with endless motivation during your trip. There are so many possibilities out there, from wildlife conservation to education to economic development, so take the time to explore all of your options. You should also think about specific skills that you have to offer, and try to match these with volunteering opportunities. For example, if you are trained in first aid, you may be best off helping out at an underprivileged health clinic, whereas those that have craft-related talents may be most appreciated at a local school.

Choosing a Destination
Once you have chosen your cause, this will already narrow down your choice of destinations quite a bit, but you are still likely to have multiple options. Your volunteer vacation is likely to be so much more satisfying if you are able to visit one of your bucket list destinations at the same time, and you should have enough free time to be able to explore your surroundings on your days off.

Woman volunteering
Working With a Credible Charity
The high price tag that often comes along with volunteer vacation packages is enough to put many people off, but, the lower the cost, the less services and amenities are provided to the volunteer. If you are unsure about the price, ask the organization for a breakdown of how your money would be spent, so that you can make sure that it is being used in the right way. Alternatively, you could also team up with a credible charity that helps to arrange volunteer vacations, as they will be able to set up trips for you all over the world.

Ask the Right Questions
Before booking a volunteer vacation, it is important to first find out as much as you can about it. Asking plenty of questions is the best way to do so, from the amount of hours you will be expected to work each day to the meals that will be provided. You should also enquire about the sleeping arrangements, as well as the exact type of work that you will be expected to do. The more that you know about your trip beforehand, the better you will be able to prepare for it, and you will also end up making a much larger contribution in the end.

There is no denying the fulfilment that comes from a volunteer vacation, but you need to ensure that the work that you are doing is really benefiting the community that you are working for. Planning a credible volunteer vacation takes quite a bit of time and effort, so be sure to look into all aspects of this thoroughly before booking anything.

Your February Healthy Lifestyle Reboot

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions out there is making the commitment to living a healthier life, but when February rolls around and people realize that they have not made any changes, it can be all-too-easy to simply give up, accepting yet another failed resolution. However, it is never too late to begin making adjustments, so make February the month that you do so.

Whole grain food
Changes to Your Diet
Just about everybody knows that they could be eating healthier, but giving up indulgent treats in favor of healthier alternatives never sounds appealing. The key here is to begin by making really small changes and gradually adding to these, as this will mean that you are far more likely to stick to your goals. A variety of foods is important, as each food has its own unique nutrients, so aim to incorporate a new ingredient into your diet each week. Whole grains are also much better for you than refined, so slowly work on swapping your white rice and white bread for brown versions. Sugar is an ingredient that you should really try to cut out, and this is another area where you are likely to be much more successful if you do this slowly, beginning by setting a limit on how many sugar-filled treats you can eat per week.

Exercise Motivation
Physical activity is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but motivating yourself to do some exercise can often be quite difficult, especially in cold winter climates. There are a few ways in which you can motivate yourself, and you are likely to need to try them all before finding which works best for you. Picking rewards for yourself after you have reached certain exercise goals is always a good idea, with the reward depending on how difficult the goal was. You could also set a few goals with some friends, so that you have their support when you are feeling uninspired. Alternatively, try to come up with a few ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable, so that you look forward to it rather than dread it. Learning a new sport could be exactly what you need to engage your mind as well as your body, or signing up for group dance classes will allow you to workout in a fun and laid-back environment.

Woman exercising
Deal With One Bad Habit at a Time
Just about everybody has a bad lifestyle habit that they would want to change, but trying to tackle all of these at once is only setting yourself up for failure. Whether you want to quit smoking and exercise more, or cut back on drinking alcohol, as well as caffeine, prioritize each one and pick the most important to deal with first. This will enable you to focus all of your attention on improving that particular habit, and once you have fully mastered this, you can then move on to the next.

There are always ways in which you can make your lifestyle healthier, but if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with this, then chances are that you are simply trying to do too much too soon. When working on improving your lifestyle, a chain of gradual, small adjustments are always easier to deal with than quick, major changes, so try to set yourself mini goals that you know you will be able to achieve.

What to Tuck in Your Weekend Travel Bag

Packing for a weekend trip can be tricky, because while you do want to travel as light as possible, there are also likely to be many items that you want to bring along. No matter where you may be headed to for your weekend getaway, here are a few tips on what to tuck into your weekend travel bag.

Weekend bag
A Selection of Accessories
While the clothing that you pack does depend on the destination that you are going to be visiting, it is probable that you will still need to stick to the basics, bringing along only outfits that you know for a fact that you will wear. However, in order to jazz up what may have otherwise been a slightly lackluster outfit, you need to have a selection of accessories to choose from. These do not take up much space in a travel bag, and can quickly add a pop of color, or some sparkle, to any outfit.

Dry Shampoo
Instead of having to squeeze in a shampoo, conditioner and other hair styling products, a small dry shampoo can easily replace these. This will also mean that you will not need to wash your hair during your weekend away, saving yourself some extra time to make the most of your destination.

Foldable Flats
You are likely to be able to manage with just one pair of shoes over the weekend, but if you feel the need for a spare pair, some foldable flats are perfect. These will not only take up a minimum amount of space, but can also be worn with just about any outfit, making them extremely versatile.

An All-In-One Charger
If you are someone that tends to bring along a number of electronics when travelling, from your cellphone to your tablet to your digital camera, then investing in an all-in-one charger can really help to save space, as well as plenty of hassle. These are easily available and enable you to charge all of your electronics with a single device, meaning that you do not have to worry about packing cables for each one.

Sunscreen
Sun Protection
Sun protection is absolutely essential throughout the year, and unless you intend on spending your weekend in a dark, underground location, you need to pack a few sun protection items in your weekend bag. Not only should you bring along a small, travel-sized sunscreen, but a pair of sunglasses, as well as a sun hat, may also come in handy.

Travel-Sized Toiletries
Rather than packing your standard toiletries in your weekend bag, swap these for travel-sized versions, as they will take up far less space. Whether this be your toothpaste, moisturizer, serum or shaving gel, travel-sized products are always useful for a weekend getaway.

It can be all-too-tempting to try to squeeze in as much as you can for a weekend trip away, but having to carry around a heavy and bulky bag is never enjoyable. Instead, try to downsize as much as possible, from your toiletries to your chargers, so that you only need to take the bare essentials with you.

Feminist Icons We Love

The concept of feminism has come a long way since it was first introduced to society, and while gender inequality may still be a significant issue, there has been a huge amount of progression in the last couple of centuries. From the women who were involved in the very first feminism movement, to the modern day women who are determined to continue fighting for the cause, here are some of the most influential feminist icons that the world has seen.

Cleopatra
Cleopatra
Cleopatra was around long before any official feminist movements, and is known for being a powerful Egyptian queen, as well as the last pharaoh of the nation. Not only was Cleopatra one of the first female state leaders in history, but she also spoke nine languages and defended her country against the Roman empire, making her quite the role model for women to come.

Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was the tireless leader of the British suffragette movement, and fought tooth and nail for women to have the right to vote. Although Pankhurst sadly died just 18 days before women were officially granted the same voting rights as men, she played a huge role in this radical decision, and her beliefs and activism will be remembered for generations to come.

Gloria Steinem
When people think of feminism, Gloria Steinem is often the first woman that comes to mind, and this is because she dedicated her entire life to advocating for women’s rights. Steinem has been at the forefront of the American feminist movement since the early 60s, and also founded Ms. Magazine, a publication aimed at furthering the feminism cause.

Malala Yousafzai
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog for the BBC when she was just 11 years old, exposing some of the many horrors that the Taliban were inflicting on her people. While the Taliban retaliated with an ambush shooting, Malala survived this, and went on to write a bestselling memoir. Since then, Malala has been focused on traveling the world, advocating for education rights for women and children.

Emma Watson

Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock, Inc.

Emma Watson
Emma Watson is another modern day feminist, bringing a massive amount of attention to the topic with a moving speech that she gave to the United Nations, bringing about a whole new initiative for gender equality. Unlike the many feminists that came before her, Watson placed a huge emphasis on the fact that feminism is not just a cause for women to become involved with, and that men also have an obligation to fight for this. Since then, Watson has launched a successful He for She feminist movement, while also forming a feminism book club and sparking several new conversations on this issue.

Feminism movements have come a long way in recent years, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. From the early foundations put into place by women such as Emmeline Pankhurst, to the modern day activism that continues to bring attention to the movement, these feminist icons are all fantastic role models for young women today.

Our Favorite Movies of 2016

2016 was a great year for the film industry, and saw many exceptional movies being released. From unnerving dramas to historic adaptations, here are some of our favorite movies from 2016.

Room
One of the most unnerving dramas released in 2016 was Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, featuring a young woman and her child who are being imprisoned against their will. Brie Larson was the star of the film, and her spot-on acting skills, coupled with the traumatic nature of the storyline, will definitely keep this one in your mind long after the credits roll up.

Couple watching a movie
Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe was released by Disney, and while this may instantly make you think that the movie features traditional values and a syrupy-sweet storyline, this film stands out from Disney’s more conventional offerings. The storyline focuses on a young girl in Uganda, whose world quickly changes when she becomes introduced to the game of chess. This is, without a doubt, a heart-warming movie, and the fact that it is a true story makes it even better.

The BFG
Anyone that read the iconic Roald Dahl book The BFG as a child will be captivated by this big-screen adaptation. While it may be slightly longer than many would prefer, this is quite a signature quality of Spielberg films, and is not noticeable once you start to get into the storyline. While Mark Rylance plays the BFG perfectly, the star of the show is Ruby Barnhill, who manages to portray little Sophie in a heart-tugging way.

Love and Friendship
Based on Jane Austen’s novel Lady Susan, Love and Friendship is a period piece that still manages to retain quite the timeless quality. While there is plenty of history within the film, this is an extremely witty movie, featuring drama, ornate costumes, and Kate Beckinsdale as the star.

Couple watching
Jackie
Jackie is a movie that focuses on the grief that Jackie Kennedy experienced after the tragic loss of JFK. Natalie Portman is the star of the show here, and while she may not be an obvious choice for the role of Jackie, she manages to portray this First Lady beautifully well, displaying a side of sincerity and humility that makes the movie even more likeable. The movie also touches on the topic of celebrity, and the way in which people are built up by the media and fame, which is a relevant subject in today’s world.

Victoria
While its storyline of a Spanish girl who meets four men in the street, and then helps them to pull off a robbery, may already be attention-grabbing, it is the way in which Victoria is made that really sets this movie apart from others. A single-take thriller, this is a movie that plays out in real time, with a continuous 138 minute camera shot, making it feel as though the audience is right in the heart of all the action.

If you have not yet seen any of these movies, they definitely deserve a spot on your queue list. From the heart-thumping thrills of Room to the feel-good qualities of Queen of Katwe, these were, without a doubt, some of the finest films produced in 2016.

Cleaning and Organizing Tips to Help You Achieve Your New Year’s Goals

Resolving to be tidier and more organized is extremely common at the start of the year, but the trouble begins when it comes time to begin putting this resolution into action. For those who want to ensure that they stick to their New Year’s goals this year, here are some top tips to help you out.

Woman looking in closet
Know How to De-Clutter
The first step to staying organized is knowing how to de-clutter, especially at the start of the year after your house has been filled with a mountain of new items over the festive season. Regular purging is an absolute must, meaning that you should go from room to room and pick out items to donate to charity, as well as items to bin. To make this slightly easier, come up with a few small rewards for yourself for each bag of items that you donate or throw out, whether this be a tasty treat or a pamper session at the spa.

A Weekly Cleaning Schedule
While a weekly cleaning schedule may seem boring, this is the only way to really ensure that you stay on top of keeping your home in order. Designate the cleaning of particular rooms to specific nights, and also allocate fifteen minutes or so every evening to just tidy up in general around the house.

Woman organizing closet
Be Realistic
Unless you are naturally an extremely organized person, trying to encourage organization within your home can often seem quite daunting, which is why it is important to be realistic so that you set yourself up for success as much as possible. Rather than setting yourself one huge organization goal, split this up into smaller goals, such as de-cluttering one room of your house each month, or cleaning out one drawer or shelf a day.

One Job at a Time
Even if your goal is to de-clutter your bedroom, while organizing your kitchen, in the month of January, these two tasks should not be carried out at the same time. It is easy to find yourself pulled in many directions, but this will only leave you with half-finished tasks and even more disorganization than when you began. To avoid this, stick to one job at a time, and only move on to the next once the first one has been fully completed.

Accountability
One of the problems that many have with sticking to New Year’s resolutions is that there is no one enforcing them and making sure that they are carried out. Since resolutions that you make to yourself are easy to ignore as the year progresses, find a friend, or even a group of friends, that share your organization goals, and hold each other accountable to this. This means that you not only have someone to support, encourage and help you, but celebrating your rewards together will also feel like even more of an accomplishment.

It can sometimes be too easy to give up on New Year’s resolutions, but these tips will help make staying organized feel slightly more doable. From setting yourself mini, easily-achievable goals, to leaning on your friends for support and encouragement, after a couple of months of committing yourself to be more organized, you will find that this slowly becomes much easier, and will soon turn into a natural habit.