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Don’t you wish everything in the world was simple?

Well, thanks to Simple Bank, it can be! Okay, almost. At least the banking portion of your life can be simplified.

Recently, I decided to switch banks. When I did, I decided to stay clear of those large banks! Haven’t you heard the word on the street about Wells Fargo? I thought honesty was always the best policy? Someone should tell the CEO that one. While they are at it, they should communicate to the big banks that we no longer want to help contribute to their wealth by being just another number.

Eight accounts per household? Serriously, Wells Fargo? Tell my grandparents about that one. You would have been lucky enough to get what they were hiding in their beds for just one account.

Big banks make me mad. Can you tell?

With Simple, I am free and clear to manage my own money how I want, and without any strings attatched and, oh my goodness, no fees!

You see, Simple works like this; you have money in the account and then you start creating these little things called goals. Now, goals could be monthly bills, paying down debt, or helping to finance an Italian wedding in the heart of the Italian wine country!

Oh. Wait. That’s my dream. Sorry.

Carrying on.

Simple works by budgeting for what you need. You set the goals up, and Simple does the calculations for you. Let’s say, you need to save $40 and you need it in 20 days. Well, Simple will begin deducting about $2 a day from your account and place it into that goal for you. On the 20th day, you can now deduct what was saved up for you.


Simple, isn’t it? You saved without even knowing you saved. Nice!

Don’t worry. If you are in a pinch though and you need that money that you saved back, you can deduct the money from your goal and it will be instantly available. Honestly though, why would you do that? Just live within your means and enjoy life without spending blindly.

At least, I hope you haven’t been spending blindly. I’m watching you.

So, there you have it. It’s Simple, well simply put. The best little bank that I’m happy to call my new friend, and speaking of, you’ll really love their customer service. You could instant message your new banking friends and get a quick response.

Finally, gone are those dreaded calls to the bank asking me to press “1” for English.

To learn more, or to join, visit: https://www.simple.com/friends/FKRKNKB

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With visions of Autumn just around the bend, I’d like to introduce a few of my favorite autumn locations across New England.

New England is home to the four seasons of true beauty, and no season is brighter or more festive than fall. Color explosions splash a long hillsides and rocky shorelines. Pumpkin spice is all the rage, but don’t forget about grandmas homemade pumpkin pies that are sold at a nearby general store. You also can’t forget about all of the country fairs that help introduce this great season to us as we stroll along drinking mulled apple cider from local orchards.

Autumn in New England. There’s really nothing else quite like it.

Kent, Connecticut


Kent is a charming place. Tucked in the midst of Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills region lies this quiet gem of a countryside town just waiting to be explored. While you’re out taking in the views from Kent Falls State Park, why not take a drive down to Kent’s downtown that is a mecca for mom and pop shops, including some honest to goodness cafes to fuel your appetite after a long day of hiking the town.

Killington, Vermont


My personal favorite. My second home. Killington is known for its fantastic skiing during the winter, but did you know it’s just as splendid during the fall? Hit some balls on the golf course while taking in the natural beauty of the Green Mountain National Forest that surrounds you. Killington knows how to put on a good show, and autumn is a great time to get out and explore the scenery.

The Berkshires

 

Americas cultural resort. It’s no wonder Norman Rockwell loved this place so much. Nestled in western Massachusetts, the Berkshires is a land that time may have forgotten about. Still holding on to small town life are the quaint towns that dot the landscape. Backcountry roads leave you breathless after every turn. Autumn is no exception with the rolling hills taking center stage.

There you have it. My top three Autumn destinations for 2016. There’s something to be said about the land we live in. It’s our home, and we have to continue to explore it in order to remember why we love living here in the first place. There’s no such thing as seeing the same scenery twice in New England.

Where will your travels take you this fall?


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What in our lives makes us all tick?

That was a question positioned to me recently. I didn’t exactly know how to explain it. Would you?

Let me first begin by saying, there is something in each of us that gets us up and out of bed in the morning. No, it’s not your boss yelling at you to get to work.

Okay, maybe right now it is. You shouldn’t ignore them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could become your own boss? You could yell at yourself for waking up too damn early!

I’ve recently been working on a number of things to help me realize just what I’m passionate about. What drives me? Surprisingly, it’s not just my car on that commute to work in the morning. The people behind me that honk and flip me off occasionally certain don’t drive me to do anything I’d like to do.

Rude.

I’ve outlined my happiest of moments in life. A lot of them were outdoor based. Skiing in the snow covered mountains, hiking for hours just hoping to get somewhat lost but not lost enough so I couldn’t eat a pasta and some cannolis for dinner, and most importantly, writing to tell all about my journeys in hopes that someone would read it.

Judging by my following and statistics, I’m pretty sure you’re all reading them. Thank goodness I’m not boring.

I’ve been revising my five year plan in my portfolio to keep up with my passions. Your five year plan, your goals and dreams in life, should not be what makes society happy. It should be what makes you happy, deep down inside.

The things that make you tick. Discover them now before you get caught in the trap that I like to call; The Fishbowl of Life. Where everyone watches what everyone else is doing just so they can keep up with one another.

Don’t be part of the the school of fish. Go discover your own path.

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Ah, mornings.

You either love them, or you hate them. As you become a little older, you realize that, well, you just have to love them. You’re not in high school or college anymore and it’s time to adapt to a routine to wake up and get your ass to work so you could afford to have that next martini at happy hour.

As I’ve turned thirty, I have begun to realize those facts. However, I still hate mornings, and you still can’t talk to me before my first sip of espresso. (Why does coffee cost so much money? Oh my goodness, yet another reason I have to love mornings so I could go collect a pay check!)

Lately, I’ve been putting together a plan of attack to love mornings. In bed by ten each night, up by seven in the morning. Grab a coffee, hit the walking trail to get that heart beat going for the day, and back to my bungalow to unwind for a bit before getting ready for the day.

Sounds like a nice plan, right?

Then you factor in the additional fifteen minutes of anti-aging treatments, cooking a beneficial meal to start the day which is something that does not taste like a pop-tart, and to top it off some meditation before you head out the door to work with the public.

Boy, mornings sound exhausting, don’t they? Can’t I just work from my bed with a mimosa?

Oh yeah, that’s right. A mimosa cost money to make. Never mind.

I’m slowly getting into this new routine of mine. It’s been a process, but something you didn’t read in there was screen time. Less than a year ago, I would have said my routine involved coffee and Facebook. Now, I’ve killed screen time in the morning.

Why? Well, I have come to realize in my path to less technology use that making time for yourself is important, and the mornings are especially a good time to be with just yourself. There’s so much crazy in the world, it can wait until I’m done with my bacon, eggs, and yoga.

Not necessarily in that order. Ever.

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There’s something to be said about a vacation that helps put your life in perspective.

As I stated in my last column, I took a week off from social media during my week long hiatus to the mountains of New England. It just felt different. I wasn’t reaching for my phone urging to post every second of the day, instead I insisted on capturing the moments through photography and living in the moment.

It just felt right.

Back in the days before social media, we actually lived. We talked face to face. We took in the moments of life, and relished in them. These days, we are so caught up in who’s going to like what on our pages, that we just let life fly by without giving much thought about the impact it has on our everyday lives.

While away, I embraced every moment offline. I lived to hike new terrain and shared laughter with friends on the trails. I sat and enjoyed dinner while watching breathtaking mountain sunsets unfold before my very eyes. I embarked on mountain expeditions on a train and made it to New England’s highest peak without hashtagging the heck out of an Instagram photo and not living in the moment.

The small town charm of mountain towns, the raging waterfalls of mountain gorges, the calm of mountain lakes, to the wait staff at a small town restaurant that remembered my name. You can’t find this life on a screen. You have to explore your world.

This vacation has taught me a lot, and it taught me how to be more in tune with the world around me. Technology is great, but only when you need it, and we don’t need it every minute of the day. In fact, I was much more satisfied being offline.

Imagine the things I’d miss?

The views, the laughters, the tears, and the moments that really get you unwound. That’s the kind of world we should all be living in. Not one that is surrounded by screen life. We need to interact with each other again, and discover our passions. Life just doesn’t have time to sit and wait for us to figure it out.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share more on how I’m overcoming my own screen addiction and what I’m doing to ignite the fire toward reaching successes with my own passions. And don’t worry, you’ll also get more of a glimpse of some of the amazing trips I took along the way in New Hampshire.

In a life of constant connectivity, we need to unplug and recharge our batteries, for time just isn’t going to stand still.

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Raise your hand if you’ve become fixated on social media.

I’m going to guess that many of you have raised your hand. Our lives have become a social media frenzy. Who’s doing what? Why is she posting pictures of him eating his Cobb salad? What did Donald Trump say now?

Time for a break.

For the next week, I’ll be away in the mountains of New England enjoying peace and tranquility without the constant connectivity. For once, I will actually be putting my phone on airplane mode and focusing on the world around me. It’s a beautiful world, and we all need to pay more attention to it and less to the screens that drive anxiety and depression and have us thinking that the world is a cruel place.

It’s actually the complete opposite.

Have you taken the time out to enjoy the views? I mean truly, not just view it for five minutes while snapping away to your friends on Snapchat or hashtagging the heck out of the view via Instagram. Have you taken a deep breath and truly enjoyed that moment?

Odds are, probably not.

Taking a social media detox is also a tech detox. In an age where technology drives our lives, it’s important to tune it out. Instead, I’m packing a couple of good books, a journal and pen, and a yoga mat  to help bring myself back to center.

The idea came to me about a few weeks ago when I found myself complaining about how I felt after being on my phone all day long. Have you ever noticed how tired it makes you? Think about the impacts it’s having on your brain at the same time. Not much of it is positive seeing as there is an abundance of negativity being posted daily.

When it comes to living your life, social media can wait. It will still be there after you get back from your journey, but it’s important to take it in as much as you can for you never know what the next second can bring.

Have a great week. Time to sign off.

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You know, at some point in our lives we have to ask ourselves a question. We have to keep considering, what exactly are we doing with our lives?

This past summer, I have been reflecting on much of that. As I approach thirty in nearly one week, I ask myself if what I have been doing over the past five years is really what I want to be doing for the next five years.

Short answer? No.

The extended answer is much more complicated. You see, while I am satisfied with how I have progressed in my professional life, I’m not so satisfied with how I have progressed in my personal life. It may come as a shock to many since I am the perpetually happy person that wants to make sure everyone is living their lives to the fullest capacities.

It all started around the age of twenty-four, right around the time of my coming out as a gay man. I thought I knew everything there was to know. I would go on with my life and just continue being a gay man.

Wrong.

Becoming a gay man, for me, meant many things. Most importantly of which, was to broaden my circle of friends with those who identity as LGBTQ. It would later help foster lasting relationships and help to ease the burden of being a gay man.

Bet you didn’t think being gay was hard, did you? Oh, contraire!

As I evolved in the gay community, so too did my lifestyle. I started steering away from the very things that made me happy. Instead of mountain biking, backpacking, and traveling to new places as I had been doing prior to my coming out, I was now fully engulfed in the scene of being at gay clubs, brunches, and the gay hook up culture thanks to apps such as Grindr.

In fact, I had become so embedded in the culture that I had forgotten what I once loved; real life.

The real life I speak of is not that of spending time on Grindr telling myself I have to catch them all. Nor is it attending every gay social event that I can, or spending countless of hours on a weekly basis at gay clubs.

Surprise! Not me!

The real me loves the outdoors. The real me loves to travel and explore the world without being glued to hook up apps. When did I become that guy?

It’s easy to do, especially in our community. The yearning to be constantly youthful is mighty. The pressure of trying to find the right guy in bed. It all becomes such a sensation. One day, you’ll wake up and realize, you have to start drawing the line somewhere.

As I turn thirty, I realize it’s time to change direction. Off go the apps, dwindle will time be spent at clubs, and lastly, hello world, I’m back.

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I am very proud to be a gay man. I am very proud of our community.

After celebrating Boston pride yesterday and seeing the numerous faces from all walks of life celebrating with us, it is clear to me that regardless of what happened today, there is a great amount of love for our community and we thank you for your unconditional love and support.
With that said, let us keep those impacted in our thoughts and prayers and do whatever we can to help out. The world needs more compassion, not hate.

The celebration of Pride events is important. Today, we learned of just how important that is. We are not free. We are still surrounded by so many pockets of hate. It is important to stand together as a community and celebrate who we have become, and where we are as a community today.

I would urge you to not live in fear. Attend Pride events. Attend LGBT nightlife activities. Celebrate who you are. Our community is strong, and our supporters, even stronger.

As I stayed glued to the television today, I did so with tears in my eyes. I am just as hurt to see what unfolded. My heart raced as I saw the numbers escalate from 20 to 50.

How could anyone be so cruel? To take the life of innocent human beings who were just out enjoying their life under the Orlando moonlight.

Our tight knit community is committed to coming together to helping each other out during this terrible tradgedy. I will also be doing what I could in the days ahead.

Stay strong. Stay vigilant. Most importantly, stay true to yourselves. I love you all. Don’t back away from who you are because of hate.

Michael Valletta

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Summer is coming. What do you have on your summer 2016 bucketlist?

Many people dream of long days on the beach, weekend getaways with the family, or perhaps a few martini parties while hosting a summer BBQ. Burgers anyone? There goes that summer beach body!

This year, I’ve compiled a list of just what I want to accomplish. Being that it is my 30th birthday in August, this summer has got to go out with a bang. No questions asked. (Really, don’t ask questions. You’re better off not knowing some things.)

Plans range from taking part in Pride season parades all the way to vacationing in Provincetown during the infamous Carnival week festival.

Of course, there are things on that list a little more suttle. Vacationing on islands and drinking wine at numerous wineries would account for that, right?

Right. Just agree and humor me.

Past Summer’s for me have always been about connecting with friends who refuse to come out of their bungalos all winter. They sit home until rays of sunshine and men can be splashed all over thier bodies.

Well, I suppose that doesn’t sound too depressing.

This summer, I not only plan to make the most of it with friends, I also plan to take more time out for myself. As I enter the realm of my thirties, I have begun to realize that life isn’t about the constant social aspect, rather being at peace with yourself and your surroundings. However, my surroundings usually include a bottle of wine. That’s where the fun begins.

Carrying on.

Whatever you have planned for this summer, make it memorable. Most importantly, make sure you make it the best summer you can for you. If you want to do something, don’t wait for others. Go out and do it.

After all, summer doesn’t last forever. The memories will.

Love is a Battlefield

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Don’t let love go.

Why do we complicate the simple things in life? These simple things, are the ones we too often take for  granted. We are compelled to keep searching for something better in the world, but is that what we really need?

Recently, I did some research on the topic. To my surprise, I was appalled by the number of people that regret losing out on love that they let go, just so thy could have a chance to see what else could be better in the world. In most cases, their original love was sitting right under their nose the whole time, and they let walk away. They had someone who was dedicated to their needs, their desires, and their future as a couple together. Instead, they abandoned true love and became selfish and absorbed in thier own thoughts of the possibility of finding better. In the end, they regretted and were too ashamed to admit this to the person they walked away from.

As humans, we naturally complicate life. We test each other out. We try to make sense of every situation. When in reality, some situations don’t need explaining, rather just a feeling.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as of late.

If you love someone, why are we so afraid to tell them? If we have a strong desire to see what a relationship can blossom into, why not admit it? Our nerves certainly get the best of us, I’m sure. However, if we were more honest and upfront about our feelings, ideally we would live in that perfect world where we don’t complicate things.

Life is complicated enough. Don’t complicate the most important thing in your life; your love. If there is someone trying to show you the world, but you’re running away from the notion of it, think twice. Don’t lose out on what is possibly the best thing that has ever walked into your life.

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