The night before life goes on…

There are ups, there are downs…but life continues like a roller coaster, a thrill, a scare, a great adventure. The more we ride along, the more we learn to enjoy, let loose and raise our hands in the air without a care. Nothing will ever go as we expected. Sometimes, just sometimes, it might go a little better. And those sometimes are as sweet as biting into a fresh summer strawberry.

Life. Breathe in, breathe out. Smile and go to work. Get home and enjoy the company of loved ones. Life is beautiful, life is sweet. Life is continuous…until it isn’t. But until that end, life goes on. We have to grab hold of our lives and love all the flaws that come with it.

This is how define life.

Some may say that I see life through rose colored glasses, that I’m a hopeless romantic and find beauty and meaning in everything.  And I do. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. When one thing knocks me down, I don’t cry about it. Instead, I see it as a sign that something better will come along. And usually it does.

Recently, I’ve graduated from college. I now hold a Bachelors of Science degree. Do I feel any smarter than a week ago? Probably. I had along side me, my boyfriend of now almost five years. When we moved in together to share an apartment after three years of dating, I thought that life didn’t get better than that. I had the love of my life, a bright future ahead of me, and my own space. But now that graduation is over, I’ve written a book, and I’m weeks away from moving into a bigger loft apartment with my love, I know that life just keeps getting better if you let it.

Boxes upon boxes lay sprawled out in my small downtown apartment, blocks away from the University. It’s the night before life goes on. Remember how I said life continues and how life has ups and downs? Well, tomorrow my boyfriend and I go back to our hometown and start work. We both must wait two weeks before our new apartment is ready for us. This is the point in time where I’m down near the bottom of that roller coaster, waiting and waiting to see the top. I want to be at the top and see that sweet summer horizon.

Until then, for two weeks, I stay with my Dad. Ironically, my second book is all about the summer my main character, Emma, spends with her Dad. Coincidence? Maybe. Life is full of surprises. And..there’s so much to be grateful for. The night before life goes on, I ponder on this poem I wrote years ago and found just today while rummaging through my old boxes…ironically it’s titled “Life.”

Someday. This day. Our day.

Life

Someday my heart won’t be beating anymore.

Someday I won’t have the courage to scream.

Someday I will grow old, as all of these people do.

Someday my life will be gone.

Someday we can all look on.

It is some day that makes us grateful for this day.

This day we shall never look back and regret.

This day we should carry on.

This day we should follow our hearts.

This day we should follow and lead and grow.

This day is our day.

Our day is our life.

Here, I stand. I’ve reached the break in the woods and see the other forests, the other challenges I can journey to and try. Life is continuous. Life must be carried on. What I’ve learned thus far is that life is the following, leading, and the growth in all of us. Whether we are following our loved ones, or just following our hearts. We all have a steady beating we call life. It’s the beating in our hearts. The night before life goes on, I remember this. I remember those four years of college, and all the wonderful memories. I carry on, following, leading, and most importantly, growing, because life is continuous. Life is a roller coaster, and I’m enjoying the ride.

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Women: Be your own kind of beautiful

Nowadays, the pressures young women feel to be “someone” and figure out who they are can be overwhelming. Women feel pressures to be a perfect soccer mom, or a perfect wife or girlfriend. We’re really just looking for acceptance in everything we do and everywhere we go. Think about it, the first thing we do in a conversation is discover similarities with someone. We love having things in common with others, especially other women. Women relate to other women for so many reasons, and we love to talk.. So, why do some women feel the pressures of their society? Maybe it’s acceptance. Maybe we should just accept ourselves already and be our own kind of beautiful.

I’m talking to the women who try to be perfect and don’t even realize it, me included. Nearly no one today wants to be perfect, unless you’re Kim Kardashian, but even she accepts herself for who she is. It can be exhausting to excel in perfection. So why do we do it? Is it because we want people to think positively about us? Or is it that we don’t hear enough positive comments that we thrive to be perfect, or do we just want to please everyone? What is it? I think it has to do with acceptance, and not just others’ acceptance either, because most of us accept everyone for who they are. Those who try to be perfect haven’t fully accepted themselves the way they are, flaws and all. This is why they continue the attempt of being perfect and/or improving when they don’t need to.

Why attempt to look for something that is already there? We were born beautiful and unique, every single one of us. We all have flaws, curves, and tempers, but together, it creates us, a vintage kind of beautiful. The thing that we need to discover in ourselves is what we like and who we are, not how others will perceive us. By doing so we will accept ourselves. It may seem selfish, but it’s not. When we learn what we love, such as loving kindness because we love seeing smiles on friends and family, we end up learning about each other, too.

We all need to stop mastering the art of perfection in everything, and start learning our flaws and imperfections. They make us who we are-our own kind of beautiful. Embrace these flaws and learn to love who you are. Whether that’s someone who hates to cook and clean or whatever one might dislike or not be so good at. It’s a flaw you should embrace. Accept yourself because others already have-and even if they haven’t, your own acceptance for yourself is more powerful than what anyone else has to think of you. Be your own kind of beautiful.

The First Sign of Spring

Lightly on my feet, I walk back from class

careful not to slide on the ice mother nature

so precisely mixed together when she warmed

the air early this morning. The bright sun beats down

on the roof tops, melting away the heavy snow almost

instantly. Drip, drip, drip goes the snow into water, crashing

into the ground. One by one, windows crack open, some jammed

at first, then swiftly comes in the early but fresh spring air.

Softly, a mourning dove perches on a telephone wire above.

I look up, stopping my pace just long enough for several breaths

to take in the graceful tune of this peaceful bird in nature.

It’s small head leans down as it may or may not be staring at me,

but still, it balances on that wire. And I continue on, staying

on the trail that was made by so many other footsteps, including mine.

Drip, drip, drip. The ice melts away and the snow inches closer and closer

to the edge of the roof. Soon the Robins will fly back, just in time to see

our colorful Easter eggs delicately decorated in pastels of purple, pink,

and baby blue. A fresh start. A new beginning.

A rebirth of our earth. Spring! It is a beautiful thing.

Bright Star: Falling into Purple Flowers

“I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days–three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain” John Keats

Last night while sitting in my night class, I stumbled upon my fascination with vintage and John Keats when my professor showed us the film Bright Star. The vintage pink clothes, letters, poetry, and romance…I was in heaven! Truly amazing. I took romantic literature last semester, studying the famous John Keats and his love for Nature, or rather Fanny. If only he could have lived longer than just his twenties! I’ve tried and tried to pinpoint exactly what it is about a love like Keats and Fanny, where it only goes as far as a kiss and a private walk together on a wooded trail with each step sounding like a heart beat.

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Where falling in love with the girl next door is knocking on the wall to see if the other will reply. Placing your desk in front of the wall as if seeing her while working on his poetry. I have come to realize that, like poetry, you cannot pinpoint one thing, or try to make a meaning out of it. It just is! Keats tries to explain poetry to Fanny, then realizes he cannot. This is because he doesn’t understand women because of his fascination with them, or rather just her, much like my fascination with vintage and love. Don’t over think what is. It is beautiful because you are in it, not making meaning of it.

This love in Bright Star is the collection of letters that shows the hope one holds onto when they are in love. So in love, you fall back into a field filled with purple flowers after reading a letter from your love, and the scent of Jasmine reminds you of the bloom. The bloom when he was here. When Fanny lays down into those purple flowers and holds onto her little sister, it reminds me how much love really does exist, and it’s simple. As simple as Nature! That’s the secret to it all, quoting Keats, “If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” Poetry is as simple as Nature. Therefore, love is as simple as Nature, falling into a field filled with purple flowers.

One Raindrop

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Inside one raindrop the world changes.

Beginning as droplets on chipped windowsills

bringing their forgiveness, happiness, or sadness.

Not because the translucent angel tears

seep emotions out with the rain,

but because it is the rain.

Sunny days are beautiful, but the rain…

the rain reveals true feelings

while rainbows are proof of promise.

Such a beautiful thing in this world is

raindrops on soft and fragrant flower petals

the kind that only bloom for a week or two all year.

It’s a dream.

A dream that replays like a favorite black and white movie.

Maybe it’s a memory? And finally waking up is inevitable

while the sun of a new day beams down its glory.

It’s that one little raindrop filled with life…

that just disappears.

It evaporates into the air

or soaks its way into the stem of that flower.

Here it will forever live on and come back in memory.

Only on another rainy day

will I see that one raindrop,

and be chasing the lilac dream.

Happiness Blooms From Within

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Last night, before the sun went down, I watched as six robins flew freely about, singing and flocking their feathers in stray water puddles. I always love to experience the sight of robins after winter. There’s something magical about a change of the season. Spring is nearly here, and soon a mamma robin will be nesting right under my balcony from the same nest left year after year.

Today is my day off, and as I wait to see those robins again, I sip my coffee slower, not gulping it down to the last drop and jumping for the second cup. It wasn’t too long ago that I had stopped drinking coffee all together (a whole twelve days). Now I limit myself two to four ounces daily. It’s just enough to satisfy my craving, but not so much as to cause acid reflux or anxiety. It kinda sucks to get older and have to deal with acid reflux. After the new year something clicked in me and I decided to start making changes. A ton of changes. Call it my new years resolutions times two!

For awhile now I’ve been a mostly all organic grocery consumer, and very particular about what goes in my household as far as toxins go. But I guess this new year has challenged me more so. It became so that I was changing everything. I mean EVERYTHING! I got rid of our microwave and bought a new toaster oven. It’s actually amazing! I used my 40% off at Kohls to purchase a KitchenAid brand. I got rid of the last of our aluminum pots and pans and bought a really nice pair of All-Clad D5 Set of 2 French Skillets 9 Inch & 11 Inch which I bought at Williams-Sonoma, but amazon has them on sale often as well. Now my kitchen is stocked with Le Creuset and All-Clad cookware, and I completely love it! If you want to know more about this cookware checkout “A lesson on cookware” to see why I love these brands.

My changes didn’t stop there…

After my mom went through breast cancer treatment, I learned about wire-free bras so of course I changed out all my bras, too. Even all my candles are now only beeswax, though I’m craving to get some really good smelling soy candles. I found myself doing so much research about what’s healthy and what’s not. It was almost overwhelming. Henry said it’s just a phase I was going through after seeing my mom go through what she had and I believe that. It was hard, and maybe this is a way I cope. But, of course, my changes didn’t stop there…

I decided to make a dreadful doctor appointment to remove a mole on my back. No one wants to do this, ever. But it was here when I realized something. Right here, when I was cooking my oatmeal on the stove instead of the microwave, having Henry change my bandage on my back from where the mole was, and trying hard to overcome the sluggish feeling I was having after quitting coffee. I had realized that it was too much and I was frustrated because I couldn’t recognize my lifestyle anymore. I was trying hard, yet again, to be and do everything perfect. And that is a scary thing.

A huge part of me is glad that I made those changes though, because I learned a lot. I learned that I can overcome it. I learned that I can set limits on my coffee consumption. I learned that it’s okay to not be perfect. I learned that it’s a good thing to do things we are afraid to do, like make those doctor appointments and just go through with it. Because now I can be excited for our vacation to Florida and Door County to wear any bikini I want and not have to hide the mole on my back. Now, I can cook real food and reheat it without a microwave.

My decision to embrace these changes led me to a little spring inspiration. I took a shopping trip to the Jo-Ann store and picked up a copy of The Magnolia Journal (the only magazine where I’ve actually read all of it). I went with Henry’s mom and found a magnificent spider plant. My favorite houseplant for many reasons-one being a great air purifier. But while I was shopping I found a beautiful quote, “Happiness blooms from within.” Yes, it sure does. Happiness can be found by changing things in life, sure. But, don’t change too much, because we are who we are. Try changing things that would make your life better. And just remember, not all change is bad. Sometimes that change can bring new happiness into your life.

 

 

Baby Barnyard Themed Baby Shower

img_8672My sister called me one day asking me how I felt about being a Godmother. At first I was confused, but then it hit me. You’re Pregnant?! I was over the moon when she told me. Before she hung up, eager to tell our Dad, I asked her who was going to do the baby shower because I was so willing. When she told me she wanted me to plan it, along with the daddy-to-be’s mom, I became even more excited and honored. I’m going to be an Auntie and a Godmother!

In no time I was buying a box of Pampers Swaddlers Newborn Diapers Size 1, 148 Count (mom-to-be’s choice) and burp cloths and washcloths to make a diaper cake that so many are raving about on Pinterest. I bought small bottles of Johnson+Johnson bath time essentials, also mom’s choice, although now she likes Burts Bees Baby Bee Getting Started Gift Set, 5 Products in Giftable Box (Packaging May Vary). If you are making a diaper cake, it’s important to know the brand the mother wants, otherwise she may not use it.

There were so many resources online but none were as simple as Jessica Bailey’s “How to Make a Diaper Cake” tutorial. I followed along and had a nice looking (but bare) diaper cake. So here’s what I did to make this cute diaper cake.20150611_170012

I decided to go on my own journey from there by adding little things to make it extra special. I added a book that goes along with her theme, Tabbed Board Books: My First Farm: Let’s Get Working! (Tab Board Books). I also added little baby finger puppets; a cow, pig, and chick from Carter’s. What I used to hold them up are actually spoons from her registry Munchkin White Hot Infant Safety Spoons, 4 Count. If you’re planning a baby shower and making a diaper cake, add little things from her registry. It’s a two-in-one kind of deal. It then serves as a decoration and as a gift.

One thing I loved to do for my sister was help pick out an outfit for her to wear the day of her shower. This way she had nothing to worry about. Eventually I ran into a problem. Yes, I had a million gifts from her registry and needed either a huge gift bag or a large bucket to present to her. Instead of those options I decided to just get the stroller from her registry while my mom got the matching car seat.

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If you’re wondering how I was able to get so many gifts from her registry, the answer is simple! Amazing deals at Kohls! When I was seventeen, I applied for a Kohls charge card after seeing all the benefits of being a cardholder. I was denied because, of course, I was seventeen with no credit history. I was so jealous because my boyfriend Henry had a Discover card. So I didn’t give up. At eighteen I applied for the same card as him, the Discover credit card, and learned quickly that paying it off in full every month benefited my credit score. Not long after, I re-applied for a Kohls Charge Card, and I literally danced at the register when I was approved! I then was receiving 30-40% off items I bought anyways in cash that were already reduced up to 80%. I was saving a lot of money where I was spending it anyways. Here’s the BIG SECRET of all. Kohls MVC cardholders get mystery offers online every once in awhile. Wait for it….!!!! Yes, I received 40% off online while also being able to add an additional 20% off baby and toddler items. So yes I received 60% off baby items that were already reduced. That’s my savvy shopping advice for the day. Now, back to the baby shower…

I struggled putting the stroller gift together and was so relieved when it was done. Then, I had fun filling it with light gifts, you don’t want anything real heavy in a stroller. Luckily, the majority of the gifts I purchased were bedding and clothes. Now all that’s left is one giant sized bow to place on top of the stroller. Here’s some great barnyard gifts for baby…

Trend Lab 5 Piece Bib Set, Baby Barnyard
Trend Lab Musical Mobile, Baby Barnyard
Trend Lab Set of 5 Wash Cloth, Baby Barnyard
Trend Lab Changing Pad Cover, Baby Barnyard


The daddy-to-be’s mom had done most of the yummy food and balloons, while I added in chips and salsa placed in a toy dump-truck, serving two purposes, decor and a gift for baby. I got country themed table cloths and hanging decorations from Party city during a sale event. My mom and I picked out the cake. Many of my sister’s friends and family also brought a dessert as well. We decided to have it at a newly renovated bowling alley where the mom and dad first met. It was a perfect place. I ordered pitchers of soda from the bar which made it easy on the initial car load.

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Food and dessert on the left. The drinks on the right. A sign in book in the very center of the room when guests arrive. All the games and gifts in the back. I kept everything simple, wanting most of the decor and work to be towards items the mom can take home after the shower. 

For baby shower games, I decided on a few just for fun. The late night diapers activity is where friends write advice on a diaper and the parents get to read them when they change the diaper. I like this because the storage caddy holding the diapers was on her registry, so again it’s a game but also a gift. Here’s where you can find that cute storage caddy Trend Lab Baby Barnyard Storage CaddyA fun game to play is the baby food game. I like this game as well because the mom can also use the food later for baby (if you guess the flavor without opening). And lastly, the string around baby belly is fun because it gets the guests to come up and chat with mom, and of course feel the baby belly. Now, I know a lot of moms don’t want to be touched by a million googling-eyed guests at their shower, so be sure to ask the mom-to-be what she wants to do.

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Baby barnyard tattoos are a fun themed item that moms can take home for their kids, and also for any children at the event as well.img_8617

Make sure to have Thank You bags near the exit when your guests leave. I added little themed candies inside, aka The Cow Pie from where we live. img_8619

Take lots of pictures so you can always remember the event. After all, it is a once in a lifetime event.img_8674

The latest artwork by my little nephew…

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Forgiveness and Letting Go…

Forgiveness. The final fork-in-the-road decision where one must choose between love and hate. It’s when we can’t go forward, backwards, or up, until we choose left or right. Do we choose to forgive and let go of the hurt and sadness that’s consumed us? Or, do we choose to hold onto it, and never forgive? It is ultimately one of the biggest decisions we have in life, and if we choose wrong, it could haunt in the shadows and burden daily.

I was always one that held onto things for a while, until eventually the emotion came out with tears and I forgave. My mom thought it weird that I’d be crying over something from months before, rather than crying that very day the hurt first hit my chest. Call it strength, or call it weakness. Either way, I was able to let go of it, to truly deal with a life situation.

I truly feel my life is blessed, and that God has only given me challenges He knows I can take. That being said, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies growing up. With my parents at a constant disagreement, or rather a lack of understanding for each other, inevitably it led to their divorce. If I could say one thing about divorce if in any way to help educate others, it is this- divorce scars more than just the two that sign the parting papers. It hurts the children involved as well- they are losing half of their lives too.

It’s a very weird reality to live in. All of a sudden, Christmas is no longer the same white Christmas tree dressed in garland of red. Instead, it’s driving here and driving there. It’s a constant back and forth and I’ve felt like a yo-yo being played at the hand of divorce. I have moved on from my parents’ divorce. Both my parents have as well and are in new marriages. But, divorce really doesn’t go away, ever. I feel it’s a long battle on that road to forgiveness. No, I don’t want to start a “parent trap,” but I do miss that white Christmas tree.

Forgiveness is letting go so that we can move on with our own lives and not be pushed around by that word lurking in the shadows. For me, my word is divorce. To forgive my parents so that I can move on with my own life, trusting that someday I will have a successful marriage.

I can only hope that everyone else is able to move on faster towards forgiveness, sooner than later and choose love over hate every time. If forgiveness is something you just can’t do, then at least think about it. Come up with all sides of the situation and truly understand it. Work daily on trying to let go. You may not forget whatever the hurt is, but you will find a way to forgive so that you can live on. Find something important to you like for me it is writing, and find a healthy way to exercise forgiveness. Because one day, it will all blow away with the wind, leaving the shadows, and taking the heavy weight with. Forgiveness is freedom. And we have to work on it every day.