Apr 13, 2018

A Life to Impress Me

Fully embracing the career I have created for myself has been a real struggle for many, many years.
I have been recognizing it more and more these days, as I dig my way out of the trenches of grief and expectation.

I have often times felt ashamed and silly when people ask me what I do.
I don't even know why I do it.
To me, it's just...a job. Nothing exciting. Nothing to see here, folks.
I tend to brush over the question and change the subject.

Who cares what I have to do?

I'm not doing anything extraordinary. Just your typical, boring corporate job. No fancy title or description. Nothing to promote or market. Nothing unusual or cool. I'm not changing the world.

Just lil' ole me....over here doing my thing and bringing home a paycheck. Just like everyone else in the world.

I think a lot of times I fall into this trap of trying to create something more amazing than I am capable of, because I somehow think I am falling short of "living my best life."

We are told we can and should do anything we want.
To pursue our passions. To not settle. To not listen to the corporate nay-sayers.

Our job should exude passion, and if it doesn't...then it's not worth our time or effort.


I think the main issue with this statement is the confusion of what the word passion means.
To most, I would fare to say that people assume passion means whatever you love to do the most.

So for me, what that means is I need to try to figure out how to make a career out of by petting bulldogs, sipping wine, perusing Homegoods and hanging with friends in my pool.

That sounds magical, but not attainable. I'm not exactly a trust fund baby nor a celebrity.

But yet, that is literally what is being choked down our throats these days. That we should bash the corporate structure and be our own boss. Follow our own path. Carve out anything other than having to set an alarm clock before dawn, right?

I have often times been torn between two obvious differences in my life: what I have actually accomplished vs. what I think I should be doing instead.

Like, no one cares that I have fine-tuned my REAL career because it's not flashy or fun, in the traditional sense.

A career in Human Resources and Finance and the back-bone Life Coach and House Mother of an expanding company isn't really....sexy.

I don't travel often or have perfectly staged photographs or fancy clothes, or spend my days in hipster coffee shops or working from home in my pj's...so I MUST be failing at this whole...REAL LIVING thing right?

But you know what I have realized I am truly passionate about?


I have said it a million times before and I will say it until my last working day.

My goal is to make the most money in the most efficient way I know how without burning out and losing whatever marbles I have left in the ole' noggin.

So. Hot. Right?

Yes, I have an abundant creative side. I love taking photos and renovating spaces and growing plants and painting and fashioning a good cocktail and finding new uses for old things and DIYing the ever-living shit out of my life.

I also have a very structured side. That side loves lists and to-do's and budgets and organization and bottom lines and curfews and deadlines and alarm clocks.

I also like adventure. I'm outdoors-y and like to try new things, even if they scare me sometimes.
I don't often say no to new people or places.

I'm outgoing yet introverted and love my home and my dog and my husband and our life to death.


But the reality is....I cannot really make a dime off of any of these things.

My needs and my passions change with the seasons.

I love home renovation but couldn't fathom doing it every single week.
I love budgeting and structure, but not always. Sometimes I'm more go-with-the-flow.
I could stare at my dog forever but sometimes I get really skeeved out that he drools on everything.
I am happy to share my life and my wisdom, but I also like to talk to no one for long periods of time.
I love cocktails and parties, but also quiet, sober days alone.

Having a corporate job is the constant in my world that keeps me on track and provides all the monetary benefits and vacation days I need to pursue all my other passions and hobbies and feel secure at the end of the day.

So why then, am I constantly believing the lies that my corporate 9-5 job isn't enough?

I was able to take my college degree and completely flip it on it's axis.

After working in the corporate world in various fields for the past 15-ish years, I fine-tuned what I am actually awesome at, walked into a company, and literally created a position for myself when the option wasn't even available.

I found an opportunity and jumped on it.
That is literally what I'm awesome at.

My paycheck is what has created every other opportunity in my life.
It's a guarantee even if it's not glamorous.

It gives me purpose, if only I would just open my eyes more often.
I help people every day, and help a company grow and profit.

I get promoted and get raises and have insurance and a retirement plan...all things that so many others wish they had, and yet...sometimes I actually have the balls to view it as not enough.

People come to me on a daily basis for advice and support.
Isn't that exactly what I'm preaching on social media all the time?

So yes, I guess I have a lot of personal work to do.

My life should be impressive to me.

I fucking created it out of thin air, after all.
I broke that glass ceiling and demanded things most women are boycotting on the streets for.
I have a ton of respect and leverage in a job that is 99% men.
And I own it like the fucking boss-lady I am.

I really need to pat myself on my back more.

In the quest to change my mindset about my career, I am diligently re-prioritizing other facets as well.
Social media will always be in my life...this isn't the 90's, but maybe it gets put on the back-burner a bit more often so I can focus more on my own shit.

I still like sharing things with everyone. I still like being the open-book that I am.
But maybe it will look a bit different moving forward.

I know Mark and I lead incredible lives.
When we really start talking about all the stuff we have done, been through, will do and are capable of, we shock ourselves sometimes.

But that doesn't mean that it's any better or worse than anyone else.
Everyone is capable of incredible things, you just have to stop comparing apples to oranges with everyone else's highlight reels. Right?

So I'm off to continue to live the life I keep dreaming of, because it's already happening, my dear.
Apr 6, 2018

Filling Up My Cup

Let's check in with ourselves and each other, ok?
How are you doing? Like....really....How are you feeling these days? Okay? Could you do better? Feel better? What do you honestly need if you feel like you're barely staying afloat, or worse....drowning?

For me, I am...strained.

I feel off.
I can identify exactly what is going on and what I need, and I'm hoping to share some honest information to deeper connect with this audience.

If some honesty is not your cup of tea today, that's totally cool. Just exit out and come back when things are a bit lighter around here. No shame in your game.

Here goes.
(This is likely long-winded and more of a stream of consciousness rather than a well-edited post. Bear with me.)

Also, I'm not looking for solutions. I know that it's normal for humans to find solutions to other people's problems. But really, just read this and if you identify with something, that's super.
I'd love to hear about it.
I actually have a little plan in place and I promise to get to that at some point in these ramblings.

My sleep has been incredibly broken. Our cat is literally in the last few days of having his cast on his leg and I am just trying to survive him. I know that sounds silly, but he is literally screeching loudly all. night. long. because he is frustrated that his space to roam is limited while he heals. I "think" this would be similar to an infant, but I can't be sure, obviously. His cries are every couple of hours, sometimes every couple of minutes from sun down to sun rise (and probably all day long when I'm at work.) I sympathize with him but at the same time, I just want like one full night of sleep and daydream about locking him in our garage at night just so I can get some honest rest.

Me without proper sleep wreaks havoc on a lot of other aspects of my life. I feel like a zombie, trying to survive each day. The wash, rinse and repeat of daily, mundane life, mixed with the fact that work is nuts right now and the weather is doing nothing for my well-being is making me feel gross.

I keep missing my alarm clocks because I have two ear plugs shoved deeply in my ears, which eats into the carefully allotted time to wake up with intention, instead of leaping straight into the shower and attempting to cram 30 minutes of morning routine into mere seconds.

I am tired of wearing the same "winter uniform" to work. This winter has literally been seven months in Chicago and I am just. over it. Granted, we were blessed with the opportunity to take a little vacation escape this insanity, and I strive to not wish time away, but I keep checking the weather, hoping to see temps consistently in the 50's and 60's. Rumor has it that is coming next week.

I have been diligently making myself more available as I expand my tribe and demeanor to those I don't, or wouldn't normally connect with.
And it's been great.
But also exhausting.
I have put a lot of my OG friends on the back-burner because of this, and crave the steadiness that comes with old friends who just get you. Therefore, I have blocked out most of my time in the near future to welcome them back into my home. I can't believe people haven't really stepped foot in our home in like...four months.
Winter does that to us. Our home is currently geared for summer days, but I need to force myself to connect with friends and family indoors as well.

When my sleep is minimal, and my nerves are high, sometimes I start getting really shitty thoughts about other people and circumstances that are simply not true. Your mind does weird shit sometimes, and it takes a lot more mental muscle to combat these untrue lies you keep wanting to tell yourself.  For me, recently, I have succumbed to the whole grass is greener issue that so many people fall victim to. There are things I crave in my life and I just want the instant gratification of them happening.
But for Mark and I, that is not reality a lot of times. There are environmental and financial restrictions that leave us with long pauses between activities and upgrades because there are simply not enough dollars or time each week to do everything.
I do realize this is very much a first-world luxury...to know we will eventually have all the time and income needed to make our dreams come true.
And so what if it doesn't happen all at once. I know I get to simmer with the good stuff longer and dream about the future more, because of it. And for that I'm lucky.
But that doesn't mean that the shitty thoughts don't infiltrate and win out sometimes.
We are human just like everyone else.

So, where does that leave me?
Well, for one, I am turning my sights back to me and my home.
This dreary weather is the perfect opportunity to continue a little self-care.
For me that means working on my home, and making space for a few more naps.
I find the most happiness and inspiration when I creating beautiful things, even if those beautiful things are simply shampooed carpets and a little paint on the walls.
I am planning to deep clean, purge, and find better organization for the upper portion of our house, just in time to host a few smaller get-together's.

Our rental is in the final weeks or repair and with that comes the chance to make the final pass to eliminate the bulk of our credit card debt and start chipping away at a few loans we have in place. A serious, and very honest, bonus to not having kids is there is actually an end in sight with this type of debt that makes my skin crawl.

I am declaring April the month to fill up my cup with all the good things I love so deeply.
To regain my sense of self and to uncover the inspiration and overall happiness I am missing most days.

Thanks for reading. XO
Apr 4, 2018

I Changed My Mind

Hello, lovelies.
Thank you so much for the feedback and alliances and love thrown my way as I sloshed through March in a haze of grief.

I feel lighter this week, and I believe I'm coming out the other side of what could easily have been a month of depression and grief.

I can tell I am on the up and up, because daily tasks aren't weighing so heavily on me.
The simple tasks of getting up without hitting snooze seven times, or dressing myself, or drying my hair in the mornings aren't met with annoyance and struggle.

So, I wrapped up the bathroom facelift in the first couple months of 2018.
And last year at this time, I gave our bedroom a little facelift as well.

...and I sort of hate it now.

Which is completely normal. Sometimes I hate the way things end up in our home, but I have the capabilities of changing things up as the mood strikes.

Speaking of moods...I have been loving the idea of moodier walls in our bedroom.
Like this:

The gray ombre look is soft, yet dramatic at the same time.

It would be a chance to flex my painting skills again and create an overall lighter landscape in our bedroom, in lieu of the hard stops between light and dark that are currently between walls.

Plus, Mark keeps smashing his face into the wall sconce at night, and as amusing as that is, I actually think these lights would be better suited over the piano in our lobby.

So, nothing is set to go yet...I actually promised myself I wouldn't start anymore interior renovation projects this year, but with the cat's cast coming off in less than a week, I am dying to deep clean the upstairs and get everything freshened up, and what better time to do a little painting than when all the furniture is already out of the space?

And, since spring is clearly nowhere in sight, I anticipate another month of indoor activities before we are officially cleaning up and landscaping the outside of our home.

PS - I finally got my act together and permanently switched over my domain name so you can type in Forever Orchard in any manner and it doesn't land to the old "shehasgoodgenes" website any longer.
Hooray for figuring our this junk on my own!!

So tell me, do you have an spring cleaning or decorating projects on the horizon?
Mar 30, 2018

Grief is a fickle bitch

Yea, I said it.
Grief is a fickle, conniving, manipulative, little bitch.
It strolls in all....hey girl, how YOU doin'..I promise I won't be psycho like last time.
And me, trying to extend kindness to all parties involved, sheepishly accept it back into my life.

But dudes, once it's here...it has only one job.
And that job is to throw your entire life into a tail spin.

It makes you do things and think things that are just crazy.
It makes you believe things you don't want to believe.
It starts giving you false hope, then snatches it away.
It starts to make you feel like you aren't good enough, fulfilled enough, worthy enough.

Well meaning words uttered from friends and loved ones, are met with vile, seething, hurtful responses.

Grief isn't you. It's your shitty alter-ego.

It isn't the kind, optimistic, let-the-little-stuff-slide-off-your-back, go-with-the-flow, practice gratitude person you normally are.

I can't even recall how many times I have apologized for ugly-crying around Mark recently.
I keep thinking how psycho and unsteady I look. Turning into a psychotic puddle of tears is no way to honor my half of this marriage.

Granted, I'm not lashing out on him.
I just constantly feel defeated.
Less than.
Over it.

So, I started jumping to rash conclusions.
This is why some of you may have seen me start posting about donor eggs, and why the fertility clinic now wants to set-up a consultation.
Because in my frantic, fragile state...I ignored my heart and assumed what I needed to feel better was my child. Any child. From ANY donor that even remotely resembles me.

These feelings make me start feeling frantic and out-of-control, incredibly similar to where I was just after my miscarriage. At the time, I felt so crazy I could have been easily persuaded to steal a baby from a hospital just to have one.

Grief makes me think crazy thoughts.
The difference between then and now, is I know and recognize they are insane thoughts.
They are not me.
And I can reign them in and basically just cry through them.
I know what I'm saying is not what I actually want and need in my life.
I really still am gun-ho about our baby being our DNA.

The part I need to work on, is truly accepting my life as whole if a baby never comes.
Right now, I think what I'm doing is slapping a bandage on that part.
I kept myself really, really busy with my bathroom renovation for a couple months.
And now that it's over, my brain wanders a lot, and starts mixing up reality with wishful thinking and it can get toxic, quick.

It's actually more exhausting going through 10 emotions in one day than renovating a bathroom or surviving an Orangetheory class.

So, what I can offer is...well...not a whole lot.
Grief DOES come back in waves, at weird times, and can take over your life.
People are GOING TO THINK YOU ARE CRAZY, because you are actually acting crazy, and if they love you and know what's going on, they will pet your hair and not offer advice.
And if they don't know what's going on, firmly tell them advice is not the answer.
Answers are not the answer, if that makes sense.
It's just a pile of emotions the grief-stricken person has to work through.
It does get better. Time makes it better.

You do hurt less. And you probably don't even realize it is less until someone else that has watched you wreak havoc on yourself can attest that...yes...this time was slightly less crazy than last time.

Outside of half-heartedly reaching out about donor options, and ignoring my heart on this one, I didn't drag us back to the fertility clinic.
I didn't ignore our ever-present debt to pile on more debt.
I didn't lock myself in a closet and scream-cry for hours.
I didn't hit my husband.
I didn't break a bunch of household items.
I didn't pop a vein in my eyeball.
And I didn't let it take over my life.

So, yes...grief is less these days. But it's still there. Lurking.
That fickle bitch will be back again, and I just have to hope I have more strength than yesterday.
Mar 28, 2018

In the end, it's him and I

You guys have heard that song, right?
I admit, I'm not too into a lot of newer music these days, but every now and then a good beat or catchy lyrics stick with me.

In the end, It's Him and I

Apparently the singer is G-Easy (LOL), and the grammar makes me cringe, but it's damn catchy, that's for sure.

Moving on.

So, if you have been following, you know that I have been in a bit of a funk recently.
My mental state has been off and I am more sensitive and cry a lot easier.

I kept using different excuses, be it the weather, the gray skies, lack of motivation, etc.
But the reality is, I have been slipping back into a wave of grief.

Sometimes I can push aside the tough feelings, the thoughts of loss and despair.
Now is not that time, unfortunately.

It's funny how time really does wash away those open wounds.
This time last year I was still deeply battling the overwhelming emotions of grief and loss from my miscarriage, while shoving both of us back to the fertility clinic to start round four.
That hazy time seems so far away these days.

As easy as it is for me to speak openly about my struggles, I should clarify that these sad thoughts and waves of grief most certainly don't take over the majority of my day. It's actually rather shocking how many emotions one person can  have in the span of 24 hours. I have noticed I encompass most of them in constant rotation.

Frustration, despair, hurt, sadness, joy, gratitude, content.
These ALL happen every day.

I still long, wish, and hope for my baby.
I still deeply desire to become a mom and I wish every single day that I actually see a miracle happen, since I no longer have the desire or drive to pursue fertility treatments.
I am still very much set on a biological child from our DNA.
I still turn a blind eye to all the hurdles that stand in our way to actually conceiving, thinking that a miracle would need to happen to overcome everything.
I still hold out hope every single month.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't fully aware of exactly where I am with every cycle.
You most certainly don't just stop tracking every twinge and pain and hormone that shows up just because you aren't going through IVF anymore.
If you commit to tracking something that is literally within you, every month, for five or more years, it sort of becomes second nature.

Mark knows what is going on.
He knows when I'm sad and when I'm hurting.
He knows to snuggle up behind me and pet my hair.
He knows not to intervene with the massive amount of emotions that build up within me.

I am forever grateful that we went through such struggle.
What seemed like a sort of sticking point in our relationship, where I felt like I literally needed to spell out what he needed to do in my times of despair, now come second nature to both of us.

I don't know how long these sad moments each month will last.
Sometimes I get worried this is the new normal for me.
That each month that passes will be left with me wiping the crust out of my eyes because I cried just before I fell asleep, because the world just got too damn heavy for me again.

And yet, I still have so many happy moments each day that I can't help but pause and reflect on all the good in my life.
My husband is my soul mate.
I am sometimes baffled that I actually found THE PERSON and knew from the VERY beginning that we were the perfect match.

As much as we razz each other and poke fun and rough house, we are so very deeply connected on a level that most can only dream of.

I am so grateful knowing that, no matter what, baby or not, we still get each other, for as many days as we have left on this earth together.

It's the one thing in this world that I can count on.
During all the trying days in our 20's while we hustled to get ahead, losing the battle to infertility, watching our marriage teeter during the miscarriage, and picking up the pieces and connecting more deeply.
All the struggle and all the triumphs have been with each other.
We made it out the other side.

He is who I will choose, over and over, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
He is the one I have the most fun with.
He gets me.
He is my person.

In the end, it's him and I.
Mar 23, 2018

Bumps in the Road

The last couple of weeks have been bumpy to say the least.
A part of me feels as though we went back a bunch of weeks to the dead of winter. Getting up before dawn and feeling generally lethargic most days seems to be the new normal again.
Granted, I don't believe we've had as much snowfall as in the past, but it is only March.

Sometimes cultivating happiness is really hard.
Like when grief creeps back in and nearly chokes me out with it's power.
Sometimes I need to allow the grief to walk in so I can let it sit with me.
Last Friday was that day. And boy was it a loud one.
How many people can say they have ugly-cried in a hot tub, outside, sitting next to their husband?
I can.
And I have no shame for it.
As ugly as I'm sure it was...it needed to happen.

I do fall back into the trap of "what-if's" and "how come's" and "if only's" a little too often these days.
It's not really fair to myself, though.
But it's really, really hard to walk away from something that you only briefly held onto for a moment in time. It's hard to utter the true words, I will never be a mom, and not pause to stifle a sigh.

It's a weird predicament to be in, indeed.
For 28 years I wanted nothing to do with motherhood.
There were so many women around me that did nothing but dream of becoming a mom one day.
And I would assume they may have been the same people that also planned their wedding since childhood.
I was never one of those, either.

Sure, I figured I would be married. I loved having a monogomous relationship that didn't collapse under pressure. One I could really lean on.

But babies?
That was always met with hesitation.
There was even a point where, as a naive early 20-something, vowed I would have an abortion if ever some monstrosity occurred and I got pregnant too early.
And then I had an abnormal pap smear and feared I may never be able to have kids because I was convinced I had cancer and my life would be over sooner than later.

Can you tell I have a flair for the dramatic?

But getting back to babies; although I never completely said no, I most certainly never said yes.
The closest I got to a real motherhood conversation was when I was dating Mark, way back during my first job out of college. We were getting rather serious in our relationship and I needed to have one of those serious conversations about whether or not we were both on board with big-ticket items.
Such as babies.

But what if one of us changes their mind? I asked, tearing up, because I knew I had a knack for doing that kind of thing.

We finished the conversation on the same page.
If it happened, we would embrace it.

And then age 28 rolled around and lit a fire so bright I couldn't deny it.
Now, at age 34...where am I? How does that fire look?

It's blinding.

I'm at a loss about what to do about it, though.
I have no fight left in me to pursue fertility treatments.
I can't fathom going through another miscarriage after all the time and money and emotions that come with IVF.
We aren't the type of people to adopt.

But yet, I get nervous sometimes.
About regrets.
Regrets that I'm not using the good years of my life to get the thing I thought I wanted most.

Other times I wonder if it's even what I want anymore.
If maybe I just became to hard-wired with fertility treatments and failure and the THOUGHT of becoming pregnant, that anything after that doesn't actually appeal to me anymore.

I don't have an answer.
And I think that's okay.
This is grief spilling onto these pages.
It's a season of my life that I recognize as not the most pleasant, but definitely necessary.

I know everything I have been through has been shaping me for whatever the next day, weeks, and years hold. I know this is just a blinding bump in the road of my life. I know this isn't my whole story.

But, I will continue to share it with you. All of it.

Episode 9 of my YouTube Channel also touches on this topic of what grief felt like last week.

I know this post isn't the uplifting joyful Friday post I am accustomed to, but it's not like I can schedule grief, so you get what you get. :)
I promise to not dwell in this mundane state too long. I know it's not permanent.
This too shall pass, right?

Just another bump in the road.

And to think, my emotions can only get better from here. Now THAT'S something to look forward to.

Finally, on a lighter note, I am hosting a Magnolia Homes Gift Card giveaway on Instagram today.
Be sure to check it out and enter, and thank you, as always, for following my journey. XO
Mar 21, 2018

Our Bathroom Facelift: The Reveal

Yay guys! It's reveal day!!
The bathroom facelift is ready for viewing! It's been a labor of love and I'm so happy with the result I was able to create working with the existing foot-print.

The entire upgrade was completed for $450 in 12 twelve days (spread out over a couple months).
I took on this project solo (as I do with most home renovations).
It's my combat and therapy for the winter blues.

If you want a quick walk down memory lane, you can catch up on prior bathroom blog posts starting with THE INITIAL PLANS, WEEK 1 PROGRESS, and the last WEEK OF RENOVATIONS.

And then I sort of left you high and dry while the rest of my life unfolded.
I have been finished with the renovation portion of the bathroom for over a month.

But, I have a small confession.

I struggle with the details.

You see...I HATE tchotchkes (pronounce choch-kees...you know...all the knick-knacky crap that people vomit all over their homes?)

Any accessories that go on the vertical and horizontal surfaces in my home typically need to have a purpose or some sort of sentimental value to them, or Hell...are just THAT pretty....otherwise I just can't.

I volleyed with exactly WHAT to put WHERE in this little bathroom for literally an entire month. We got back from vacation, and I knew I wanted some of my photos printed and manipulated for the space, and after 5+ trips to Walgreens, Hobby Lobby, and everywhere in between.....I'm finally thrilled with the space.

Burn could care less
Without further ado...Here are some comparison photos!









...and some detail photos

So whatta ya think?
I love how light and airy it feels in here, even though I didn't modify anything besides surfaces and accessories.

Let's do a quick run-down of items and their costs (all available sources linked)

Wall Paint - $0. I re-used existing paint from the rest of the first floor. The color is called Tahitian Vanilla by Valspar.
Tile Paint - $52. I used this tile paint and needed two boxes to complete four coats for all the tile on the walls.

Grout  - I used this grout dye ($14) and this grout brush ($4)
Sealant - $0. I re-used existing gloss sealer from Home Depot from a previous project.

Medicine Cabinet - Renaissance Chalk Paint tinted to match walls. Final coat is same Tahitian Vanilla wall paint
Vanity - Wood Primer then finished with two coats of Benjamin Moore's Desert Twilight

Shower Curtain ($29, on sale now for $20)
Shower Rod ($12, on sale for $9)
Shower Liner ($3, on sale now for $2)
Bamboo Waste Basket ($20, on sale now for $14)
Rug ($30)
Hand Towels ($14 for 2)

All other accessories were purchased at either Homegoods (duh), Hobby Lobby, or Tuesday Morning.

The rest of the renovation items including things like paint brushes, plastic, rollers, trays, painter's tape, Comet, and caulk all came from Home Depot.

So that's a wrap! If you haven't subscribed to my YouTube Channel, you can do so HERE.
I will be posting a video walk-through of the space on soon! You won't want to miss it!

Please let me know your thoughts and if you have completed similar renovations or facelifts! 
I love connecting with fellow DIYers!! 
Thank you for reading and continuing to support the blog! XO
Mar 19, 2018

Appreciate Affirmation Monday

Everyone still recovering from St. Patrick's Day? ME TOO.

Monday's are tough. I don't care who you are or what you're doing.
There is something disorienting about the transition from the chaos of the weekend to the chaos of work-week, the lack of structure to total structure, fun vs. chores...and everything in between.

I came to the realization that...perhaps...with a bit of tweaking to my thinking, I could change my perspective and feel better overall.

And so started what I am calling Appreciative Affirmation Monday.

The goal is to affirm one simple phrase that shows a little appreciation, or gratitude, to yourself.

I am a firm believer that giving ourselves a little more grace during the less than stellar Monday hustle can help exude more happiness in our day and set the tone for a better week.
Or at the very least, give ourselves a tiny pep talk for more confidence.

However you want to interpret it, it can't be bad.

It's so very simple, and I hope if you spend the few moments to read this post, or follow my stories on Instagram, then you will take another few seconds to reach out, comment below, or email me to interact.

My appreciative affirmation for this post, is this:

I appreciate that I have created a "uniform" of work-clothes so getting ready in the morning is a bit less stressful.

See? So simple and yet, so reassuring that the little things in life can make a big difference.

So tell me, what's yours? Comment below, email me directly if it's too personal, or direct message me on Instagram. I wanna know what you appreciate about yourself!!

Spread the self love, my dears, and have a great rest of the day! XO
Mar 16, 2018

Punched in the Mouth and Other Happenings

Hi guys. Happy Friday!!

How was everyone's week?
I had a non-stop five day headache that I tried to suffer through as much as I could without needing to pop Tylenol constantly, but medication won out most of the time. I'm hoping it's weather-related and not some weird stress I'm holding onto. I don't believe I have had too much to worry about this week, besides adjusting to Daylight Savings...anyone else?

Here's what happened this week.

My beloved friend Courtney is taking her blog to the next level. I'm excited to see what is in store for her! She, after all, is the one who got me into the whole blogging world many, many years ago.

Another good blogger friend, Biz, shared a drool-worthy pie photo this week that she made a while back, that brought many sentiments of her late-husband. Not only does she need to post the peach pie recipe, but I think we should all gather in her corner and send her to Italy! Read up on her post for exactly what I'm talking about.

Erin, from Our Journey to Three, has been on QUITE the extensive road to parenthood. After many, many failed transfers, they elected surrogacy as their final answer and have been blessed this year with a pregnancy. They just revealed the gender last night if you want to revel in this amazing event and cheer them on like I did!!

On the home-front:
The final shipment of goodies arrived this week for our bathroom and I. AM. IN. LOVE.

images via CB2

And you know what that means?! It's REVEAL TIME!!

If you haven't already CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL so you can partake in the video portion of the bathroom facelift next week!

Speaking of YouTube, Episode 8 went live this week.
Mike Tyson's quote is what inspired this video, and I can assure you, getting punched in the mouth is the EXACT metaphor for what life throws at you sometimes, don't you think?

Sharing is caring, folks! If you love it, tell your friends?

I had been seeing so many fans of The Best Laundry Detergent Ever, and I always hesitated for two reasons. 
1. It's pricey, and 
2. I have a sensitive nose, and if I hated the scent, then I was out a bunch of money for nothing.

So I finally settled on these cute little dryer sachets.
My verdict?
I like the smell, but am not in love. Luckily, the dryer sheets don't really infuse my bedding with an overwhelming scent of it, so I think it'll work for now.

I'm cool with going through what I bought, but tend to get pulled in a more "clean aroma" direction when it comes to house fragrances.

The next thing I am planning to try are these cute dryer balls and some fragrance oils. I'm still deciding between this set or this set. So many fun choices!!

I'll report back with my findings soon!!

Finally, I have taken two initiatives this week.

The first, as you saw earlier, is Appreciate Affirmation Monday.
Whether you follow me here or Instagram (or both!) you will have a couple options to partake in the fun. 

The goal is to AFFIRM something about ourselves that not only lifts our spirits, but sets a positive, encouraging tone for the week based on something we APPRECIATE about ourselves.
Because, dudes....Monday's are hard enough, right?

The second...and this is solely for Instagram...is getting to know all of you lovelies followers by the use of Template Tuesdays. Each Tuesday, you will get a bunch of fun insta-story templates to fill our for the week and share with your friends. It helps everyone get to know everyone else a bit more and create a deeper connection in the community. Be sure to follow along!

And with that, I'm out! Hope you have a brilliant weekend and drink a lot of green beer!! XO
Mar 12, 2018

Appreciative Affirmation Monday

That is quite the mouth-full, don't you think? :)

But, I was thinking a bit this morning while I was struggling to get out the door on time.
Monday's are tough. I don't care who you are or what you're doing.
There is something disorienting about the transition from the chaos of the weekend to the chaos of work-week, the lack of structure to total structure, fun vs. chores...and everything in between.

So while I was relatively annoyed with daylight savings and the fact that I am now waking up in the pitch dark again, I slowly came to the realization that...perhaps...with a bit of tweaking to my thinking, I could change my perspective and feel better overall.

And so started what I am calling Appreciative Affirmation Monday.

The goal is to affirm one simple phrase that shows a little appreciation, or gratitude, to yourself.

I am a firm believer that giving ourselves a little more grace during the less than stellar Monday hustle can help exude more happiness in our day and set the tone for a better week.
Or at the very least, give ourselves a tiny pep talk for more confidence.

However you want to interpret it, it can't be bad.

It's so very simple, and I hope if you spend the few moments to read this post, or follow my stories on Instagram, then you will take another few seconds to reach out, comment below, or email me to interact.

I mentioned on Instagram, that I was appreciative that I took the time to search out a really good concealer since I was overly exhausted this morning, and that concealer hides the dark circles so well.

My appreciative affirmation for this post, is this:

I appreciate that I found the motivation to make my lunches for the week, giving me one less thing to stress out about each day.

See? So simple and yet, so reassuring that the little things in life can make a big difference.

So tell me, what's yours? Comment below, email me directly if it's too personal, or direct message me on Instagram. I wanna know what you appreciate about yourself!!

Spread the self love, my dears, and have a great rest of the day! XO
Mar 9, 2018

It's Friday Y'all

Happy Friday Everyone!

How cute is this damn cat! He goes in for xrays on Monday and we have all our fingers crossed his cast comes off very soon!!

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that this week is wrapping up! Not that I am wishing time away, it was just so damn cold out and the days were jam-packed with hustling here and there.
Bring on the weekend and some down time!

I think the aspect of changing your thinking for a more positive, fulfilled life is a constant, ongoing practice, especially when it may not come naturally.

My husband is constantly a glass-half full, overly optimistic, let-the-little things slide off his back type of guy.  Whereas I am heavy on the emotions and sometimes get too wrapped up in my own thoughts.

I had a few moments where grief came back into my world.
As you know, grief never goes away completely. It showed its face a couple times in the last few weeks, and, having been down this road many, many times in the past, I knew that I needed to define it, realize it is grief, and sit and talk with it for a while.

I still carry my grief every day, but these days it's in a very manageable fanny pack as opposed to the oppressing wet blanket it used to be.

I am constantly practicing gratitude and alternative thinking to help make life that much sweeter.
Because it really is so, so good, right?
Even in the bad, there are lessons to be learned and progress to make to better ourselves.

I am reminded of this almost daily.

Like when I pulled my back out a bit from over-doing it with rowing at Orangetheory.
I used it as an opportunity to give myself a little more TLC in the stretching department and scaled back the intensity in my workouts. I won't be getting a gold metal any time soon, so I really do need to chill a bit.

Or when I invited my Dad over to spend some quality time with me this weekend...no strings attached. Unfortunately, he is in a bit of a mental slump right now and although my efforts were to try and help him be a bit more productive, when he said no, I immediately felt hurt because my gut reaction was he didn't want to see me.

But I know his mental state is off right now, and I am well-versed in anxiety and mental issues these days since I deal with it myself.

I then realized, okay...not this week. It's him, not me.
It's okay to fail, and him saying no isn't a reflection of him not loving me or not wanting to be around me. He has some mental issues to work through and isn't ready to tackle life in a normal-fashion yet.
Maybe next week.

What I can do in return is continue to love him and accept that he isn't being intentional.
Mental issues will do that to a person and it honestly takes another person with mental issues to understand that. Most people with normal chemical balances in their brains can't even comprehend some of the weird shit we do.

And that's okay too.

We're all trying our best here.

There will always be a super excited puppy that acts like every time I walk in the door is the first time we have ever met and that fills my heart with joy!

What HAS been consuming my brain recently is the fun little details of our bathroom. I know I keep hinting about it but not showing you anything. I am so far from one of those HGTV weekend over-haul renovations, it's insane.
I like to take my time with updates, get a feel for the space, decide if I like how it's arranged, and tweak things here and there until it's exactly how I like it.

I ordered a few more things and I promise, as soon as it's done I will do a whole blog post and a Youtube video about it! I love the breath of fresh air this room gives me now.

We have been using the bathroom again for nearly a week and it has been glorious!!

Speaking of Youtube, Episode 7 aired early this week. Here it is if you missed it!

If you haven't subscribed yet, I highly suggest you do.

How do you subscribe, you ask?

There are two ways. At the end of every episode, my face pops up, click my face and it'll let you subscribe that way!


Simply click the link HERE, and push the red SUBSCRIBE button.
This will give you the first look at new episodes as they appear, straight to you email inbox!

I always try to link new episode's, but there will be some fun ones that only subscribers will know about! So make sure you're on the list!!

And finally, in case you were wondering what was slathered all me and my dog's face in my last post, I made us face masks with bentonite clay and activated charcoal.

The combination of the two ingredients helps with bulldog face folds and skins issues related to their obsessive licking and drooling problems.

To make a batch, stir up the following: (ps - a little goes a LOOOONG way)

1/8 cup Bentonite Clay
3 tbsp Activated Charcoal 
water to make into a soupy paste
Plastic or Wood fork (no metal, per the clay instructions)

This is messy to work with, so I highly suggest adding water and mixing in a utility sink.

I applied to the dog's face and paws using a 1" paint brush and made him sit in the tub for 15 minutes. He was not thrilled and did jump out at one point and run around my newly renovated bathroom until I was able to pin him down and throw him back in the tub.

I would also suggest lining the entire room with towels if putting this on a dog, in case things get out of hand.

Don't say I didn't warn you. :)

I plan to apply this to Burn's face and paws twice a month until summer. I have noticed that when the season's change is when his skin acts up the most.

Oh, and by the way, Mark and I have been obsessed with Orange is the New Black on Netflix.
I know we are like....five years behind. But it is SO. GOOD.

That's it for my week! Have a good weekend! XO
Mar 6, 2018

Hello? Is it Me You're Looking For?

Oh hey there.
I took an unexpected hiatus in the last week between the blog, Youtube, and social media in general.

Why you ask?

Because I was busy conducting a tandem spa day for myself and my massive dog.

he was thrilled

No but seriously, we all know that post vaca, you tend to have a decent amount of catch-up to do at work, or around the house.

And I totally did.

But more importantly, you may remember I mentioned on Instagram that I believed I was having a drug eruption from upping my Lexapro, so I did the most logical thing I could think of and that was to lower it back down to 5mg.

I wanted to see if my irritated, peeling skin condition was due to the medication.
After a couple of weeks of the lowered dosage, I realized there is a reason why I am taking 7.5mg....because in the last week of so, my head started spinning again.

Nothing crazy like before, when I was completely un-medicated and had panic attacks while driving and double vision and all that fun stuff.

I just became extremely hyper like I used to be, and incredibly focused on one thing at a time. It started to become tough to make decisions and I had a hard time falling asleep because my mind was constantly racing.

Although it was nice to have a bit of my old (extreme) energy back, I realized that I really do enjoy a calmer mind. So I bit the bullet again and started back on my normal dosage.

We will see if my skin problems re-occur. They could have easily been a reaction to my face wash.
Perhaps the ingredients changed, or maybe the winter dryness wreaked havoc.

I was using Shea Moisture brand's Rose Oil Complex on the majority of my face, and the Grapeseed Oil Cream Cleanser around my eyes for many months. This was always followed by Shea Moisture Peace Rose face cream. It always did wonders for my skin, but perhaps my skin just became too dry during these winter months and I needed something different.

I ended up being gifted a bar of activated charcoal face soap and switched up my face cream to Seaweed Brand Night Therapy and that seemed to completely knock out my skin issues.

If I ever have a patch of drier skin, I still apply A&D cream to the area.

May not be the sexiest combo, but it sure as Hell works!

PS - I was visiting friends after my skin cleared up late last week, and everyone kept raving that it looked like I got a chemical peel because my face was so smooth!! Haha!! 
So basically my shitty allergic skin reaction that caused my entire face to peel for a month yielded baby smooth skin!! I guess that's the silver lining, right?

What else is new?

If you missed Episode 6 on my Youtube Channel, you can watch it here!!

Please comment and subscribe! I am just in love with the connections I am making through this new outlet. It makes my heart sing to hear about your lives as well!!

I am thisclose to being finished with the bathroom. My mom and I spent a good chunk of Sunday picking out accessories for the space. Who knew it was so difficult to make a decision about a cotton ball container?!

Here is a tiny sneak peek to keep you interested...

As soon as I get some prints mounted and some good lighting, I will be photographing the space and giving you all the details! Stay tuned for that post!

Our cat is doing so well with his broken leg recovery. He prefers to hop way up onto my bed and soak up the sun whenever he can. He is truly my little hero.
We are all eager to get him out of that splint!

I am currently recording a new Youtube video that will air later this week.
The topic will be hard moments vs. hard days and how changing our thinking as to how our days are shaped can help our overall positive perspective with life.

I had a shitty moment this week that could have easily swallowed me up and made me believe that meant I had an entirely shitty day, but by extending grace to myself, allowing the shameful emotion to live with me and then move forward, I was able to see all the other wonderful stuff that filled every other moment of that same day.

Stay tuned, friends! Hope you have a good one! XO
Feb 26, 2018

Key Largo

...5 days, 4 nights, free airfare, rental car, and hotel, 6 cities and 600 miles driven in between.

We had not been on an actual leave-the-state vacation since May 2013.
Every time we vacation, we go to South Beach, Miami.

Then we moved to our forever home in early Fall 2013, and infertility consumed our lives until the tail end of 2017

During those trying years, we vowed that if it wasn't in the cards to have a child after all our hard work, we would pack up and use all the points we racked up on that damned credit to take a vacation.

So that's what we did.

In the last five years, we charged every single thing we could (and then immediately paid it off), including all of our fertility treatments, to our credit card.
That's over $100,000 in bills....to get the amenities of our vacation for "free."  

I list how many points, aka, dollars we spent for all of the free stuff in case you're looking for a good deal.

So our vacation was the price tag of whatever we purchased while in Florida, which ended up totaling roughly $1,300, or $260 per day for 5 days.

Here is what we did!

Day 1: 
We flew into Ft. Myers (155 CC points) and picked up our rental car (188 CC points). I had reserved an intermediate sedan with unlimited mileage as I knew we would be driving a lot. When we got there, we immediately regretted our decision for such a small car and I ended up haggling with the guy at Alamo to give us something better. We ended up driving away in a no-frills, 4-banger, missing an antenna, Jeep Compass. 
Not our finest moment, but we made it work.

We drove an hour to Ft. Myers Beach where a good friend of ours lives. 

Mark was reunited with his bromance and we ate fish tacos at Junakoo right on the ocean. 

We drank far too much the first day, the second day...Hell all the days. That's what vacation is for right?

Day 2: 
The next morning we said our good-byes and drove 165 miles through the Everglades to Key Largo, where we saved a box turtle from the road.

But first, we stocked up on essentials at a local Publix in Homestead. 

The next 3 nights we stayed at a Dive Resort called Amy Slate's (626 CC points). The Keys are incredibly expensive, but rooms seemed a lot more sensible in Key Largo vs. Key West.

At check-in, they gave us an upgraded apartment with more space, but when I say this place is no-frills..I mean it. I had to keep reminding myself that it was just a place to sleep and shower. Keep your standards low if you stay here. The beauty is on the OUTSIDE of this place, not the interior.

We ended the night with a sunset boat cruise and some beers on the small shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico.

Fun fact: There are NO beaches in the Keys. None. Zero. Zilch. What little beachfront there is doesn't have direct access to the ocean like the main state of Florida does. We had no idea!

The area has very little internet and phone access as well as they are still re-building from Hurricane Irma. It was a nice change of pace to not be glued to our phones. 

Day 3: 
We packed the essentials and drove 100 miles to Key West. The locals are mostly retired, so even though the speed limit was 55 at times, I don't ever believe we broke 45mph. Give yourself 2.5 hours to get to Key West from Key Largo if you are driving during the day.

Key West is a very walkable town with a lot of good bars, local music, and boat scenery.
We watched large pelicans swim over extra-large Tarpon fish by the charter boats, mingled with a cruise ship full of Ohio State people at Sloppy Joe's Bar, and watched an incredibly kick-ass NOLA band at Green Parrot.

The night ended with dinner at Salute and a rather quick driver home, as it was after 9pm.

You will save even more money if the bartender forgets to charge you for drinks. That happened to us at Green Parrot. We didn't even realize it until the next day!

Side note: My hair is always fabulous in the Southern heat. I didn't use any sort of hair tools while I was there and I will NEVER complain about that!!

The overall verdict about the Keys is that....we aren't really Keys people. It's still an incredibly beautiful area and we were happy to explore, but without a desire to dive or fish, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot more to do besides eat and drink. 

We are beachfront people with more of a Miami-flare...so that is exactly where we headed the next day.

Day 4:
We packed up after a quick breakfast in our apartment and headed to Key Biscayne to explore. We landed at our first beach in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. They have a beautiful light house and we got a chance to see some power boats, a blimp, and some beautiful scenery along the water.

Key Biscayne has a lot of local raccoons, and I ended up feeding them some chips on our way out.
They were surprisingly domestic which was hilarious to us!

We toured all the local real estate in Key Biscayne. There was a completely run-down property for sale for a measly $8.5M so we figured we should start saving now to be able to afford a tiny home by the year 3078.

We made our way back up to South Beach where we ended our day.
The beach, the scenery, the bars...all so familiar and fun!
Mark lost his debit card along the way so you know it was a good time.

Day 5:
Our last day of vacation! After driving over 550 miles at this point, we slowed way down and soaked in every second we had left.

Breakfast was at the famous Mrs. Mac's Kitchen in Key Largo. They did NOT disappoint! Snow crab, eggs, mimosa's and key lime pie, of course!  I highly recommend!

We headed back up to the top of Key Biscayne and landed at a public beach called Virginia Key.
The water was shallow and warm, with plenty of locals (and puppies!) along side of us.

We brought our speaker and jammed to tunes for the reminder of the day, tanning and drinking beers.

The last day was by far our favorite. 
We headed to the airport at MIA Saturday evening to drop off our rental and take our AA flight home (275 CC points). My backpack held us up for a bit of time while security dug through it because I accidentally jammed a bunch of water bottles in it without thinking (because of the booze).

All in all, we had a truly fabulous time. Escaping the Chicago cold in February may easily become a yearly tradition moving forward! We talked about Ft. Lauderdale and areas more north the next time!

Thank you for following along!! XO
Feb 16, 2018

The Good This Week

Hello and Happy Friday!

Life was rather chaotic at home this week but I am always striving to find the good in each day and share it with you!

Here is what went on this week:

1. My skin has always been sensitive to harsh chemicals, weather, allergies, you name it. This week it showed it's ugly side and my eyelids, under-eyes, and nose completely started to swell, become irritated, peel and flake.

It was really sexy.

I started my home-remedy by eliminating my old concealer and banishing the new mascara from my daily routine (I don't know if they were the culprit, but they were the only two glaringly obvious changes that were made in the last week or so). I stopped using make-up on my eyes as much as possible and layered on the face cream.

When that didn't stop me from looking like an old, peeling, lady, I bought two new, and maybe weird options, Gold Bond Eczema Hand Cream and A&D Ointment. Yes, the diaper rash stuff.

But I'll tell you what....they did the trick! My eyes are almost back to normal and will hopefully stay that way!

2. I dressed up my office computer background with this beautiful image. Feel free to do the same!

Image via DesignLoveFest

3. Need a little inspiration to make your days better? This post has 50 ways that give me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

One suggestion was to light a candle while getting ready in the morning. I don't know why I have never implemented this! (probably because I'm always racing at the speed of light to get out the door and this would be helpful to slow my ass down and enjoy the morning more)

4. I have been listening intently to the Life Coach School podcasts each day. This one in particular really resonated with me this week.

I highly suggest listening to her episodes from the beginning. They may not all be applicable to your life but there is definitely a lot of feel-good information to hear!

5. Our dog and cat got into a scuffle on Monday, and although that event was awful and the cat ended up with a broken leg (in two spots!), a couple beautiful moments happened afterward.
First, the cat had a splint exam at the vet on Valentine's Day, and the nurses cut out heart-shaped wrap pieces to give his splint a little flair. Second, Mark came up with the genius idea to lower his bed to just a mattress, that would allow the cat to hobble in and out so he can rest where he is most comfortable. Talk about cuteness overload!!

6. We filed our taxes and signed a new tenant to our rental!

A HUGE exciting sigh of relief in the financial-squeeze department. There is still much work to be done, but I have been waiting for these two thorns in my side to go away for nearly six months now!

7. I made a couple more Episodes on my YouTube Channel! (bear with my experimentation with editing and framing, I'm still learning a lot about what works and what doesn't!)

In case you missed them, I discuss the idea of changing your mindset in the face of uncertainty during IVF. These episodes can easily translate into nearly every obstacle you face outside of infertility as well!


If you love watching, I would be eternally grateful if you subscribed and/or shared my work with your friends and family. We need more good in the world and I am happy to lend a helping hand!

Oh, and please talk with me! Comment here, email me, dm me on Instagram, and comment on the YouTube channel. I want to hear from you and get your insights and feedback about these topics!!

So that's all for this week! Thank you for reading and following along! XO