Friday Favorites: Le Volume

Yesterday was a rough day! I woke up with a bad migraine and just couldn’t get over it.  I did sit down and try to post, but the fog in my brain just wasn’t allowing it.  Thankfully, that migraine is gone, and I am refreshed and ready to bring you another one of my favorite things today.  This one is actually a new favorite. I have been eyeing those round brush hairdryers for years because they really intrigued me. I already used a round brush with my regular hair dryer so I thought a brush and dryer all-in-one would make my life easier.   Revlon has had one for years that I have looked at, but I got scared when I heard that many of them had been known to catch on fire.  That alone kept me from ever purchasing one of theirs.  Then L’ange came out with one a year or two ago, and I was again fascinated.  My drawback to pulling the trigger on it was that everyone kept talking about how much volume they got with it.  It is even called the Le Volume, a 2-in-1 volumizing brush.  If you have been following me for a while, you know that volume is just about the last thing my hair needs.  I have insanely thick hair, and it has more than enough volume on its own. I certainly don’t need anything that is going to add to that, but I still really wanted one.  Another thing that was holding me back from buying that one was that it seemed to be a very large brush. The original design was a 75 mm brush.  I was worried that it was too big for my shorter hair.  I just couldn’t make myself order it.

Then L’ange came out with a smaller version last year that is a 60 MM brush.  When it when on major sale for Black Friday, I finally pulled the trigger and ordered one.  I figured it was better to get it heavily discounted than to spend full price and end up hating it.  Best. Decision. Ever. I am obsessed! I may never use a regular hairdryer again! It is so easy to use, cuts down on my drying time, and gives me a smooth look.  I easily figured out how to use it and not increase the volume in my hair.  Now, if you want volume, you certain can get it but lifting your hair upward from the root.  I, on the other hand, just pull down from the root, and it doesn’t add any extra volume.  I still do use my flat iron afterwards to flatten down the natural volume that I have because I personally like my hair better that way, but the Le Volume does not make the volume any worse than it naturally is. In fact, it is probably a little better if I am being honest.  I also think that the brush helps cut down on some of the frizz that I get from a regular hair dryer because the air flow is more easily controlled and is concentrated just on the hair in the brush as the time.  It doesn’t blow your hair every which way like a regular hair dryer.  The brush easily glides through my hair and never gets stuck or tangled.  It is seriously the best thing ever.  I am mad at myself for waiting so long to get one.  It is seriously like getting a salon blowout in your own home. 

The one warning I would give you about the brush is that the air gets pretty hot as it blows out.  It has gotten pretty hot on my neck as it blows when I am drying the short hairs in the back of my head at the base of my neck.  My fix for that is to turn it to low when I am doing that part of my hair because it isn’t as hot when it is on low.   The bristles do not get hot, and I have no problem touching them to guide my hair through or with the bristles touching my head.  The titanium plate does get hot, though, so make sure you don’t accidently touch it.   I do think that my personal body temperature doesn’t get as hot when I am using this versus a regular hair dryer either.  I think that part of that is because it doesn’t take me as long to dry my hair with this as it used to before.  Normally, I am sweating buckets after I dry my hair, and I don’t feel like I am as hot using this. 

I also recommend that you don’t use it when your hair is soaking wet.  I feel like it works better when my hair has dried just a little bit naturally. I usually put my makeup on before I dry my hair, so it has a chance to dry a little first.  I think this is better all-around for the health of your hair when using a hair dryer and brush and when using the Le Volume.  I don’t think it is good for your hair to brush it a lot when it is soaking wet.  I could totally be making that up, but I feel like I have heard that a few times before. 

I highly recommend the Le Volume.  It is one of the best purchases I have ever made.  It saves time and energy, and it works great! I really love all of L’ange’s tools and brushes.  I am not an affiliate for them.  I simply love their products.  If you have been thinking about a round brush hairdryer, look for a sale and get one. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Anchored,

The Only Voice That Matters

Necklace/Earrings/Lipstick (Lead the Way)

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you just can’t do anything right? I recently had something practically handed to me on a silver platter, TWICE.  All I had to do was accept it and make it work, but I failed both times. I couldn’t bring it to fruition, and I don’t know why.   I don’t think that it is possible for things to get much easier than it being handed to you, so why couldn’t I make it work?  Why did I let it slip through my fingers, not once but twice?  Is there something wrong with me? Why am I failing? Maybe I am not cut out for this like I thought.  These are all the things that were running through my brain this morning when I learned that the second opportunity didn’t pan out.  That was Satan talking.  It was him trying to get in my head and make me doubt myself and God’s plan for my life.  I know this in my heart, but it still didn’t stop the thoughts from coming.  It didn’t stop me from beating myself up and second guessing every decision I have made.  It didn’t stop the “what if’s” from coming.  

I can tell you that Satan is good at his job.  He knows what he is doing. If we aren’t careful, he can take over.  He can overwhelm us with all this negativity and make us give up.  I have seen it over and over in myself and in those around me.  When you put your heart and soul into something and are constantly getting slapped in the face, it is hard to keep going.  Who likes having the door slammed in your face over and over again? Satan can use it to wear you down.  He will make you believe the lies if you aren’t careful.  It is easy to call it quits when you convince yourself that you aren’t good enough, but that is when Satan wins.  That is when he gets his way.  Trust me, there have been numerous times in my life when I have let that happen.  For years I believed the lies that he was feeding me.  I lived my life never feeling confident, never believing in myself, never feeling worthy.  I was miserable.  It wasn’t until I realized that I had to simply be still that I came to see myself in a different light.  I had to push out Satan’s voice and zoom in on God’s voice. I can only do that by being still and truly listening.  It was when I started doing this regularly that I was able to distinguish between the lies and the truth.  

I am not telling you that I tune out Satan’s voice all the time.  If I did, I wouldn’t have had that brief conversation with myself this morning about what a failure I am for missing out on two incredible opportunities.  What is different about me now from all those years before is that I don’t let those lies sink in and take root.  I don’t let them affect my decisions and actions going forward.  When I catch myself letting them creep in, I stop completely and tune out everything around me.  I consciously push that voice aside and listen to the only one that matters.  That is when I start to hear that I am worthy.  It is when I start to see the path laid out before me may not be an easy one, but it is the one I was called to follow.  That is when I start to see those failures as lessons and opportunities for growth.  It’s not easy, and I don’t expect that it ever will be because Satan will always be there putting those negative thoughts in my head. Just this morning I had to keep shutting those voices down. I will admit that it took me a few minutes to truly be all in this morning and tune out the negativity. I am human. Once I did, though, all the thoughts of failure faded away. Only one voice matters.  It isn’t your voice, it isn’t mine, it isn’t Satan’s.  It is pure and simple.  The only voice that matters is God’s.  I think we all have to learn that the hard way, and it is a lesson that we need reminding over and over, but it is one of the most important lessons of our lives.  

Don’t let yourself be overrun by those negative thoughts. Don’t let them take root inside you and allow you to feel less than you are. Don’t give them power over you or the authority to rule your choices. Don’t allow them to give you permission to quit. Be still and let the only voice that matters wash over you. Allow it the space to come in and change you. Only then will you know the truth about yourself. You are worthy! You aren’t a failure! You are on the right path.

Anchored and Still,

Fashion Finds: Elegantees

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and #wearblueday.  Today I am wearing blue to bring awareness to this horrific crime.  Many think this is a “foreign country” problem and often picture women crammed together into a shipping container in some far-off land.  Yes, it is a global issue, but it is also a “backyard” issue.  Human trafficking happens right here in the US every single day.  It happens way more than you think.  It is happening in your cities and your towns.  You just aren’t aware of it.  Most people turn a blind eye to it not recognizing the signs because they choose to believe that it isn’t possible.  To learn more about human trafficking, the DHS Blue Campaign, #WearBlueDay, and what you can do to help end it, visit dhs.gov/blue-campaign/wearblueday.

In honor of this day, I am bringing you some fair trade pieces that are helping to fight against human trafficking in Nepal.  One of my favorite fair trade companies is Elegantees.  They provide women in Nepal with job opportunities to help prevent them from being trafficked and provide a place of refuge for those who have been rescued.  Poverty is the number one factor in trafficking especially in countries like Nepal where the poverty rate is extremely high. This company was created as a way to make a difference.  Keep in mind that fair trade pieces are often considered expensive, and they should be.  This is different from many factories who can offer cheap clothing because they operate sweatshops.  Fair trade companies do not use sweatshops and give their employees a safe environment to work in and offer them a fair and living wage.  That means they are paid enough not just for basic needs but also enough for things like education, healthcare, and more. Wouldn’t you rather pay a little more knowing that the person who created your clothes was given all that and more? I know I would!

ERRAND Tee Shirt Dress (available in Teal, Dark Olive, and Black)/MARKET Tie-Dye Jumpsuit (available in Indigo and Olive)/GETAWAY Dress (available in Charcoal and Heather Grey)

SUBURB Sweatshirt (available in Heather Grey and Charcoal)/SELA Rib Knit Top (available in Dark Wine, Black, and Hunter Green)/CARRIE Cheetah Print Pencil Skirt (available in Black/Grey and Brown/Tan)

V-NECK Long Sleeve Tee (available in Heather Grey and Olive)/LENOX Dolman Top (available in Army Green and Marsala)/COMFORT Cowl Top (available in Rose Pink, Light Heather, and Black)/WEEKEND Hoodie (available in Speckled White and Dark Grey)

Shop to make a difference! Buy better and help stop trafficking! See something, say something!

Anchored,

Book Club: White Ivy

Since I took my unplanned break from blogging for the holidays, I never got around to giving my review of my December Book Club pick, White Ivy by Susie Yang.  I have to start by saying that I had a hard time staying interested in this book.  If fact I just had to go back and read some parts of it again to even remind myself what it was even about.  It clearly did not stick with me. I’m not sure how good this review is going to be since my memory of the story has faded.  I do recall having to reread multiple pages at a time because I found myself daydreaming or completely not really paying attention to what I was reading at all.  I would read and then realize I had no idea what I just read.  In all fairness to the author, this could have been simply because it was December and there was a lot going on and a lot on my mind during the time I was reading it.  I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn’t do it for me.  It was really slow to start, and I felt like there were side stories that really weren’t necessary or that didn’t really go anywhere. Some would likely say that it was good character development but I kind of felt like a lot of it wasn’t needed.   I will say that the second half of the book was a little more interesting and presented some turns that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.  I do think there were some interesting concepts, but I didn’t feel like it was all that it could be.  I would probably give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

The story is about a Chinese immigrant, Ivy, who was brought up learning to steal and cheat by her grandmother at a young age.   She always dreamed of the finer things in life and wanted what she couldn’t have.  She had a determination to get what she wanted to matter what it took or how she had to compromise herself to get it.  Her biggest obsession was a boy named Gideon that she met at a young age. Gideon was the son of a prominent and very wealthy politician, and Ivy set her sights on him right away.  After lying to her parents about her whereabouts, she was caught at Gideon’s house the morning after a sleepover for his birthday.  Her mother, whom she had a tumultuous relationship with, immediately sent Ivy back to China to live with her relatives for the summer in order get her away from Gideon and what her mother thought were bad influences.  While Ivy was away her parents moved to a new home in a new state as a way to keep Ivy from Gideon and those bad influences upon her return.  It wasn’t until after college that Gideon and Ivy’s paths crossed once again. Ivy quickly set her sights on him again and was soon living a life wining and dining in Boston and in the Cape with Gideon and his family.  It looked like she had finally gotten what she had always wanted until a certain someone from her past reappeared in the most unexpected way and threatened to take it all away.  Ivy was determined do whatever it took to keep the wealthy life and to hold on the Gideon including lying, deceit, debt, and even murder.  With a surprising end, you learn that money, wealth, and prestige were far more important to Ivy than actual love.

Despite my feelings on the book as a whole, there were good parts to it.  The ending was definitely better than the beginning.  There were all the things you want in a book like some suspense and a few unexpected twists, but I wouldn’t call it a thriller necessarily.  It was more of a coming of age story with a bit of suspense thrown in.  Some of the characters like Ivy were very complicated.  She was the villain that you wanted to dislike but at times rooted for.  I think that the story just got started so slow for me that I lost interest before it got to the good parts.  Maybe if I had read it at a different time in the year when I wasn’t so busy as well, I may have liked it better.  I would be interested to see what any of you thought about it if you read along with me. 

Looking back at all the books I chose for the Anchored Book Club in 2020, I am really hoping that I choose better books for 2021.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some that I really enjoyed like Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi, and My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabet Russell.  There were just also a few that I really didn’t like.  I had high hopes for some that just didn’t really live up to my expectations.  I would say that my least favorite of the 12 books was The New Wilderness by Diane Cook.  That one really disappointed me the most because I felt like it had so much potential.  It is incredibly hard to choose a book unless they are widely known as exceptional. I try to choose books that you may not necessarily read otherwise. Sometimes I choose well and sometimes I don’t. It is just the nature of the beast.

I am going out on a limb for my first pick of 2021 despite what I said above.  This could end badly or be an unexpected treasure.  I totally just happened upon this book when it came up as a suggestion under another book I was looking at.  I was really captivated by the synopsis, and hope that I am choosing wisely this time.  Some reviewers described it as heart wrenching, realistic, and captivating.  Some even said they were left speechless.  For January, I have chosen a historical fiction novel entitled The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri.  This is a story about beekeepers, Nuri and Afra, and their plight as they lived through and escaped Syria during the Syrian War. Here is what Publishers Weekly had to say about this novel.

“Lefteri tells a haunting and resonant story of Syrian war refugees undertaking a treacherous journey to possible safety. In 2015, Nuri Ibrahim and his wife, Afra, who was blinded in an incident during the Syrian civil war, cling to their home while everyone else flees the bombings and violence. They are emotionally devastated by the loss and destruction of their neighborhood but decided to seek asylum in the U.K. after soldiers attempt to forcefully recruit Nuri. They travel through harsh conditions in Turkey and Greece, waiting in camps for the proper paperwork and meeting more refugees along the way. Nuri is determined to find his cousin Mustafa in the U.K., where the two men can return to their beloved work as beekeepers. Afra recons with the reality that she will not be able to continue her life as an artist because of her blindness, and the couple recall painful memories as they are drawn into the agonizing experience of other refugees. Lefteri perceptively and powerfully documents the horrors of the Syrian civil war and the suffering of innocent civilians. Readers will find this deeply affecting for both its psychological intensity and emotional acuity.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

**This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Genetics or Not?

Both of my children were diagnosed with ADHD several years ago and are both a textbook case of it.  They have a serious inability to focus mixed in with hyperactivity (always fidgeting, can’t sit still, talking a mile a minute, and, as my husband describes it, are often “shot out of a canon”).  There were times when my youngest was doing gymnastics that I could literally see her bouncing up and down on the sidelines with a look like she was going to crawl out of her own skin if she was told to be still. She literally couldn’t control herself.  She used to get in a lot of trouble in school and at home in her early elementary days because she was just so impulsive.  My oldest has more of the inattention piece than her sister.  She zones out and totally tunes everyone and everything around her out.  This sometimes makes her appear clueless just because she isn’t able to follow along with a whole conversation, process it all, and tune out all the distractions around her at the same time.  Her infamous quote is “I’m so confused,” and that is simply because she missed half of what was said.  Both girls are super unorganized and a total mess.  My youngest is famous for loosing things, and both of their rooms look like an explosion went off in there most of the time.  Anyone around them can tell when they have taken their medicine and when they haven’t because there is such a night and day difference.  They can function so much better when they are on it.  My oldest has figured out ways to cope on her own in addition to her medication and will tell you that she has to chew gum to pay attention in class at school or have something to “play” with in her hands at home.  She always has a small ball that she is throwing up and catching or bouncing off the wall or ceiling while she is on the computer doing schoolwork.  Somehow those things help her focus.  While both of them have come along way from those younger years, they both still struggle with their ADHD.

For years I wondered how they both ended up having it.  Was it something I did or didn’t do when I was pregnant?  Was it a result of our parenting? Was it my fault? I couldn’t see where they got it from.  Some say it is hereditary, but neither my husband nor I have ever been diagnosed with it and neither has anyone else in our families.  If anything, we have always been the total opposite of hyperactive, inattentive, disorganized, impulsive, or any of their other tell-tell characteristics.  My husband will say that he could see that, had it been a bigger thing when we were younger, he might have been diagnosed with it.  I have never seen that side of him, though. He tells me that he was a troublemaker and that he struggled in school as a kid, but that is hard for me to envision knowing who he is now.  I on the other hand was always a good student and was never one to really ever get in trouble.  In fact, I have often been referred to as a “goody two shoes”.  Some would say that I am organized to the extreme and far from hyperactive.  I am actually more of an extreme introvert.  It has only been in the last 4 or 5 years that I have come to think maybe I do have ADHD minus the hyperactivity.  I see myself as more the inattentive type.  I am starting to believe that my over organization and compulsive habits are just my way of coping, much like the gum and balls are for my oldest. It has honestly been since I stopped teaching that I have come to this realization. For so many years, I was juggling a lot and was incredibly busy.  It was almost like that was masking the fact that I may have ADHD.  I was laser focused because I had no other choice but to be.  It is only now that I don’t have as much going on that I realize that I really do have a hard time focusing and that I do little things all the time subconsciously to cope.  I cannot sit and watch a television program without using a coloring app on my phone.  Otherwise, I am distracted by other things and have to constantly rewind the show because I missed whole sections.  It sometimes takes me hours to write one blog post because I catch myself totally spaced out or suddenly doing something completely different.  Sometimes I even have to walk away and come back to it because I have totally lost my train of thought and have no clue where I was going with a particular paragraph.  Just this week, I was on a zoom call for our monthly team meeting and found myself really struggling to pay attention. I was beyond distracted. That is kind of what got me thinking about this subject and making multiple realizations about myself. Maybe it is just a sign of aging or maybe I really do have ADHD.  Maybe I am just going crazy.  I don’t know.  It certainly makes me wonder a lot lately.  Could the girls have gotten it from me? If you would have asked me that a few years ago, I would have vehemently said, “No way!” Now I am not so sure. 

Regardless of where it came from, genetics or environmental or whatever, I no longer see it as a bad thing or something terrible that I may have caused like I did when they were younger. Without it, neither girl would be the unique and totally cool kid that they are now. Yes, it was a struggle at times and sometimes I still want to pull my hair our when they are going 90 miles a minute, but I wouldn’t change a single piece of it. If I have it or not, really doesn’t matter. I have learned to cope with whatever it is without even realizing it. It has caused us all to grow and learn about ourselves and each other and has made us all into the people that we are today, and I just happen to think that we are all pretty awesome (most of the time <wink, wink>). None of us are defined by the label. It is simply a small piece of our story.

Anchored,

INTENTIONAL

I have never really been one to make new year resolutions.  There is no real reason why other than I am not good at keeping them long term.  I think most people would agree that we always start the new year with good intentions, but then life gets in the way and those resolutions fizzle out.  Instead of new year resolutions, I create small goals for myself all throughout the year that help me to achieve the long-term goals I have for my life.  I have found that to be a much better way for me to stay focused on what I want to accomplish all year long.  At the start of each month, I sit down and think about the things that I want to accomplish that month and I write them down in my calendar and my phone as a constant reminder.  Narrowing down my focus each month, seems to make my goals more manageable and more likely to be accomplished.  This has been a very effective practice for me and is something that I will continue to do. 

Two years ago, I started coming up with a single word that I wanted to focus on throughout the year in addition to my monthly goals.  I saw this idea somewhere, and I really loved it.  I wanted to choose a word that would represent my year as a whole. It was to be a word that I posted around my house and would impact every decision and thought that I had throughout the year.  I wanted to choose a word that would be impactful on my life.  It sort of became my mantra for the year.  My word of the year in 2019 was JOY.  It was something that was really lacking in my life at that time and desperately needed.   I wanted JOY to be my focus for that year as a way to change my mindset and the way that I looked at day to day things going on in my life.  I wanted it to be a constant reminder for me to choose JOY in all circumstances.  It allowed me to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, and by the end of that year, it had become a habit. It was completely freeing.  I feel like it truly made a difference in my life that year and really helped to change the way I looked at everything.  My word for 2020 was RELENTLESS.  My goal was to be RELENTLESS in the pursuit of my goals. That word was placed on my heart after hearing a song that I love.  It was like God turned on that song at the exact moment I was praying about my new word. It turned out to be the perfect word for this past year.   I wanted to focus on being RELENTLESS in multiple areas…relentless in love (for my family and friends), relentless in faith (growing in my relationship with God), relentless in work (making a global impact with my Trades of Hope business), relentless in pursuing my dreams (not giving up on reaching them), relentless in personal growth (becoming a better version of myself), and relentless in joy (continuing to choose joy every day).  While 2020 did not turn out like any of us had planned, I stayed true to my word of the year.  I never gave up and keep pushing forward in all of those areas.  I really was RELENTLESS.  I am proud of myself for continuing to choose joy in the midst of everything that went wrong in 2020.  I chose to see the good that came from it as much as I could, and it brought me so much joy this year.  I also spent more time with my family (thank you COVID) and was really focused in on cultivating my relationships.  My biggest accomplishment of the year, though, was remaining relentless in my work.  I was able to grow my Trades of Hope business in ways I never imagined I could, especially in the middle of a pandemic.  I am very proud of myself for that.  It just proved to me that hard work and persistence are important and can really make a difference.  We should all be relentless in pursuing our goals.

We are already 5 days into a new year, and I have been struggling to find my word of the year for 2021.  The last two came to me so easily and were the perfect fit, but this year’s word has taken a lot of reflection and prayer to find it.  I’ve been toiling around with several words for weeks now.  I’ve had a running list of possible words in my phone since the beginning of December when I started reflecting on the past year and began looking forward to this year.  None of them seemed to be calling to me, though.  If I am being perfectly honest, I still didn’t have the word when I sat down and began writing this post this morning.  It’s true.  I was just kind of hoping that it would come to me as I wrote, and that didn’t happen.  I actually had to stop writing after that last paragraph thinking that I was going to have to postpone this post to another day. I decided to close my computer, close my eyes, and begin praying for the word to come.  I finished my prayer and just sat here with my eyes closed for a few minutes.  I wanted to be still and present.  I wanted to take the time to push out everything around me and just listen to what God had to tell me.  It was in that moment that my word for 2021 appeared in my head.  As I sat here letting the word sink in, it became clear to me that this word was placed on my heart at this very moment because it is exactly the word I need.  It even kind of goes along with my word from last year.  

My word for 2021 is INTENTIONAL.  The Oxford dictionary says that intentional means “done on purpose; deliberate.” I think for me that it ultimately means choosing to make all of my decisions and actions about things that are important to me.  It means taking an active role in my life and with my time versus living my life just reacting to what is happening around me or waiting for the storm to end.  That reminds me of that saying, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning how to dance in the rain.” I want to dance in the rain.  I want to truly live.  Prior to COVID, my life was crazy.  Most days were spent just going through the motions, trying to make it through.  The pandemic brought with it a much needed break from all that insanity.  It allowed me time to do things that I wanted to do instead of simply doing all the things I thought I had to do.  That is how I was able to grow my Trades of Hope business.  I became more intentional with my time.  I really want to keep that going this year.  I don’t want life to go back to the way it was before this extended break.   I no longer want to live my life reacting and simply surviving as I weather the next storm.  I want to continue to be intentional in my decisions, actions, emotions, and time.  I want to be INTENTIONAL with my quiet time with God—not just asking and repenting but choosing to listen and be still, INTENTIONAL with my work—continuing to be relentless in my pursuit of my goals and using my time wisely, INTENTIONAL with my time—choosing time with family and friends over things that are much less important and keeping my focus on the things that matter, INTENTIONAL with my pursuit of becoming a better version of myself—actively working to become the person I want to be instead of just waiting for it to happen. It is time to take control of my life and start living it the way I want to. It is time to stop merely surviving and start truly living. The more this word is swimming around in my brain, the more excited I am becoming about the future.  This is definitely the right word for me for this time in my life. It came to me when I got INTENTIONAL with my time of prayer. How ironic is that? All I can say is that it is all God! I can’t wait to see how living out my word this year is going to change my life. I just know it is going to be great!

Anchored,

A Look in my Closet: OOTD

Happy New Year! I have been MIA for a while now.  It was not my intention to go this long without posting, but it just kind of happened. I sort of decided last minute that I wanted to take a break from the blog to be present in the little moments of the holidays.  I wanted my focus to be on my family and my self-renewal and rest as a way to end this crazy year.  I must say that it was a great decision, and I really enjoyed simply being present in the midst of it all. However, I did miss sharing my life with all of you. I am easing back into my regular posting schedule today with a simple post today to show you some of the new clothes that I have recently acquired either through my own holiday shopping or gifts that I received for Christmas.  I am loving all the cozy sweaters and a few new pairs of boots. Here is a peek inside my closet at what I’ve been wearing over the past couple of weeks.

Sweater/Jeans (similar)/Boots (similar)/Necklace/Earrings

Sweater/Jeans/Boots (similar)/Necklace

Sweater/Jeans/Boots (similar)/Earrings

Sweater/Jeans (similar)/Sneakers

Sweater/Jeans/Boots (similar)/Necklace

Shirt (similar)/Vest/Jeans (similar)/Boots/Earrings

Sweater/Jeans (similar)/Boots/Earrings

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Fashion Finds: HOliday Sales WEek 5

There are still more deals to be had and more shopping days to go before Christmas.  Today I am bringing you week 5 of holiday deals and steals.  Whether you are shopping for yourself or as a gift, stores are still having some incredible sales.  I am pretty much done with all of my shopping.  I just have a few gift cards to get, and then I am ready to get wrapping. That is probably my least favorite task.  Give me all the shopping, but can someone else please do the wrapping? I dislike it so much that I try my best to put as many things as I can in a gift bag so that I don’t have to wrap it.  I usually don’t even put bows on the gifts I wrap for family.  It’s too much work to just have it ripped to shreds.  Anyone else with me on that? Anyway, go get your shop on before it is too late.  Be sure to check shipping times as some places may be past or approaching the deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery. 

NORDSTROM

Fam Jam Thermal Pajama Set/Double Breasted Pea Coat/Free People Cowl Neck Cocoon Pullover/Wubby Fleece Pullover/Lattice V-Back Waffle Weave Sweater/Vince Camuto Button Shoulder Sweater

AMERICAN EAGLE

Oversized Dreamspun Turtleneck Sweater/Cozy Sherpa Quarter Zip Sweatshirt/Oversized Dreamspun Crewneck Sweater/Dream High Waisted Jegging/High Waisted Artist Flare Jeans/Super High Waisted Soft Plush Legging

EXPRESS (50% off entire store)

Cozy Sherpa Flyaway Jacket/Cozy Puff Sleeve Sweatshirt/Textured Dolman Sleeve Smocked Waist Top/Capped Sleeve Crew Neck Sweater/Metallic Ribbed Cowl Neck Sweater/Cozy Belted Puff Sleeve Jumpsuit

GAP (50% off outerwear, sweaters, + more–extra 20% off with code SMILE)

High Rise Skinny Jeans with Secret Smoothing Pockets/Feather T-Shirt/Softspun Cowl-Neck Top/Cable Knit Crewneck Sweater/Sherpa Crewneck Sweatshirt

Happy shopping!

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I Get Knocked Down BUT I Get Up Again!

Typically, during this time of the year, I do a lot of vendor events with my Trades of Hope business.  It is a great way to introduce people to the mission of TOH and the stories of our artisans.  Many people are shopping for Christmas gifts, so I usually do really well at those types of events.  The minute I tell people who walk up to my tables that everything is handmade by women around the world rising out of poverty and human trafficking, they are instantly intrigued.  I can see their heartstrings being pulled as I continue to tell them the stories behind each piece they pick up.  Many of them are so moved that they are compelled to shop with me.  I love it when someone is so touched by the mission that they call others over to have a look at the beautiful work our artisans do. Each sell I make means that a woman is able to keep and feed her babies.  It is all about spreading HOPE and changing the world.  Sadly, though, COVID has thrown a wrench in that this year, and many of the events I normally do have been canceled.  I had all but given up on the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen this year, and I was pretty bummed.  When an opportunity to do a 3-week event arose, I jumped on it.  I applied and was almost instantly accepted to be a vendor.  It is actually a Farmer’s Market that they turn into sort of a Holiday Market for 3 Saturdays each December.  They have their typical food/produce vendors, but they add several other vendors to allow people to do holiday shopping while also getting their fresh produce and baked goods.  I had never done anything quite like it before and wasn’t really sure what to expect.  They made it very clear that they would be following strict social distancing guidelines, and everyone had to wear a mask.  Plus, the event is outside which helps to minimize exposure.  I felt pretty comfortable that it was safe to participate…at least on the COVID front. 

My husband and I arrived pretty early last Saturday for the first day of the event. We were told where to set up and began unloading our car.  We were told to unload everything and then move the car before beginning to set anything up.  Before my husband could park the car and get back over to me, I had to rush and move things so the person next to me could set her tent up.  It was insane! They expected us to be set up in like 2 minutes, which is near impossible.  Anyway, I had planned for it to be really cold, but I did not plan for the 30-50 mph wind gusts.  My husband usually gets me set up for these events and then leaves until it is time to take down and go home.  He couldn’t leave me this time because the wind was so bad.  Despite him really anchoring my tent down, we were terrified it was going to blow away any second.  The sides of my tent were blowing so hard that they were actually moving my tables and knocking stuff over left and right.  It was miserable.  We did have a few periods where the wind would die down, but for the most part, it was a constant battle.  We were not supposed to break down our displays until the event ended at 1:00, but at around 12:00 the wind picked up so bad that we just couldn’t maintain anymore.  Our tent was pretty much the only one still standing at that point because it was so well anchored, but we were barely keeping it down at that point.  After a few big gusts too many, we decided we better take it down before it snapped loose and broke.  I immediately started pulling down all my stuff and boxing it up because I knew once the tent was down, everything would go flying.  At that point I didn’t care that we were packing up early. I didn’t want to break or lose anything so I was just throwing stuff in boxes at fast as I could while another guy helped hold down our tent so my husband took down all the sides in preparation for bringing the whole thing down.  Necklaces were getting tangled, and there was no rhyme or reason to how I was boxing it up.  I just wanted it all down as soon as possible.  

As I was throwing things in boxes, my husband was rushing to get the tent down as fast as he could.  I really wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing since I was so focused on my task.  In my head, he had already pulled the tent down.  In reality, he had only taken down my sign and the sides of the tent.  I was bending down to put stuff in a box as he yelled that he was running to the car to grab the bag that the tent goes in.  Keep in mind, I thought it was already down.  The next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground with a table on top of me.  One of my tables had blown up, smacked me in the head, and ended up on top of me.  It all happened so fast, that I was kind of stunned for a few seconds.  I didn’t know what had really happened.  I crawled out from under the table to see my husband running towards me as he saw it all play out.  He immediately asked if I was ok.  I quickly said that I was and started grabbing things that were blowing away.  My money box with all the cash in it had blown up with the table somehow.  I don’t even think it was on the table to begin with, but who knows in all the chaos?  Anyway, somehow it got unlocked and opened and money was flying everywhere.  I was trying to grab it all as the people next to me helped.  I had no clue that my tent had still been up and was actually flying down the street as my husband and a few other men chased after it.  Apparently, the tent snapped loose from the stakes holding it down, and in its wake, it flipped the table onto me as it flew away. Then it slammed into the ribs of the guy in the space next to me before continuing down the street. Thankfully, he was very nice about it, but I felt so bad.  It was a complete nightmare!  I am so glad that my husband had decided to stay the whole time because I don’t know what I would have done if I had been there by myself.  

Despite getting hit in the head with the table, I only had a minor headache.  I am so glad that I was bending down at the very second it all happened, or I could have been hurt really bad.  I am terrified of going back and doing it all again this Saturday and next but I am not going to let the wind stop me.  My husband and I have been keeping a very close watch on the forecast.  Right now, it is predicted to be significantly warmer this weekend with 10-15 mph winds.  While we would prefer little to no winds, that is much better than 30-50 mph gusts.  Even though the day was difficult, I was still able to spread HOPE to a ton of people and did pretty well considering the terrible weather.  I am hopeful that it will go even better this week as long as the winds stay down.  When I said earlier this week that the hits kept on coming, this was one of the hits I was talking about.  I literally got knocked down! Yep, that old song just went through my head too. “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down!” It may be a silly song, but it’s the truth! I got back up again and will continue to spread HOPE everywhere I go no matter what gets thrown at me!   That’s all we can do right? Whenever something or someone throws punches at us, we simply need to get back up again and keep going.  Don’t let anything hold you back or keep you from moving forward!

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It’s 2020, Ya’ll!

Wow! December 1 hit, and it was like someone hit fast forward on my life.  Things started piling up and life has gotten completely crazy.  It is almost like 2020 wants to go out with a bang here in the last month. Just in case the other 11 months weren’t insane enough, it had to throw a few more punches at us.  COVID cases are on the rise and people are trying to figure out what to do for the holidays.  Should we travel or not? Should we gather with family in small groups? What is Christmas even going to look like this year? I have no answers to these questions as they are things we are trying to figure out ourselves.  Our cheer competitions are being canceled, rescheduled, or going virtual left and right.  Yesterday, they even tried to throw an unexpected competition at us for this coming Saturday, which just about sent me over the edge after the last few days I’ve had.  I already had a commitment and was scrambling to figure out how to get my kids to the venue 3 hours away and find someone to do their hair and makeup.  I had a mini freak-out only to find out that it was all for nothing and the gym had decided we weren’t going because the venue required our kids to have a negative COVID test since we were coming from another state.  I am grateful that they didn’t want to put the girls through that, but, needless to say, my nerves were shot yesterday.  My kids are supposed to return to school at the end of January for 2 days a week, and now that is up in the air as well due to the rise in cases.  It is almost like we are back in March all over again.  The uncertainty is so stressful and causes so much anxiety.  

I have never seen so many pictures on social media of Christmas trees that have fallen down as I have in the last few days.  Many of them have fallen for no apparent reason other than “It’s 2020!”  People keep posting about lost packages too.  A few of my own packages seem to have been lost by FedEx, and I don’t know if or when they will arrive. I spent a long time on the phone with FedEx this morning trying to figure out where they are, and no one seems to be able to help me.  I have also seen an unusually large number of posts from friends who have lost family members in the last few days.  They weren’t a result of COVID either.  It is sad, especially knowing that COVID had kept them apart for months.  People keep saying that the hits just keep on coming this year, and I am starting to believe they are right after the last few days I’ve had.   I have really tried to remain positive through all of this, but some days are hard. I’m human.  Yesterday was one of those days that got to me. I know that I just said last week all the things I was grateful for that this year has brought about, but sometimes I lose sight of those things when one thing after another keeps pounding me. It was like I had taken so many hits (1 literal hit but that is a story for another day) over that past few days that it just got to me yesterday.  When the whole thing happened with the cheer competition, a flood of emotions came out that I had been holding in and caused me to explode.  It was like the last straw.  I don’t like myself when I let things get to me.  I beat myself up for losing control and letting things affect me in that way.  I don’t like spouting negativity, but I sure did that yesterday! (Sorry to those of you that felt the brunt of my frustration!)  The only thing I can do when I reach my limit of frustration like that is to try to step back and breathe.  Then I usually say a long prayer to get myself back together and on track. That is what I did yesterday, and I am doing totally fine today. I just needed to let it all out and pray my way to a better mindset.

I have a feeling that there are going to be more days like that for all of us before this year comes to a close in a few short weeks.  It’s 2020, ya’ll! Buckle up and hang on because it’s not over yet! 

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