Archive | Inspirational RSS feed for this section

Hello, 31

Once you’ve hit your 30s, you’re not a day over 29, right?!

birthday31

When I think about this past year, I’m overwhelmed by how much our little family has grown! Olivia is running these days and talking up a storm. I feel so fortunate to have James by my side as we’ve learned new lessons in parenthood {ahem, new levels of patience!}.  When I think about this year, these thoughts come to mind:

…growing as a family… meeting an insane amount of work deadlines… striving to find balance… developing new skills in dealing with toddler tantrums… learning lessons on taking care of my health… attempting to juggle it all and feeling like I’m always short… laughing with family and friends… working with a talented team managing store products at The Dating Divas blog… being fascinated by the current scope of research on essential oils…

I came across this article recently: Tips to Help Millennials Find Meaningful Work. I agree with so many points of this article, especially their focus on how our generation wants/needs to make an impact. Have you found your purpose-driven career? For me, teaching essential oil classes has become a passion area! When I help connect families to tools that will help them on their health journey, I feel like I’m giving back. I’ve gone from being completely skeptical to actively teaching about these natural health solutions because I’ve seen firsthand the difference that they can make in my own family, as well as countless others.

The company that I’m working with offers so much more than just a set of products to enhance your health- their sourcing practices, commitment to education, focus on philanthropy, and generous compensation plan are all visible pieces of their integrity and heart. I’m really excited to see where this journey takes me throughout the rest of the year.

birthday31-2

So what’s next? I’m still chipping away at my 30 During 30 List… So many of these items relate to a lifestyle I’m trying to create– savoring the present moment {however beautiful, chaotic, and messy it might be!}, being a good mama, carving out time with family & friends, and focusing on my own health goals.

I saw this video and thought it was a powerful reminder of the impact our words have in creating our self image.

I’m going to work on being kinder to myself this year. We are all works in progress.

…and that’s ok.

Comments { 1 }

A Special Valentine Arrival

It seems as though an entire season of laughter, tears, and gratitude has elapsed between February 1 and today. It’s hard to believe that it’s already the middle of March. Last month, our dear friends welcomed a precious little boy into their lives. He was born at 33 weeks exactly. This type of news is always a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, you are thrilled for the new parents and their growing family. At the same time, your heart sinks because you are all too familiar with some of the challenges that come with prematurity… the uncertainty, the waiting, the back-steps, and so much more. Life is just so darn fragile!

Despite feeling overwhelmed and scared, I remember being in awe of Olivia’s tenacity to get better each day she was in the hospital. Her courage gave me strength- the human body and spirit are incredibly resilient, strong, and brave. As we celebrated each tiny milestone along Olivia’s journey, moments of heartache were slowly replaced with joy and gratitude.

Olivia made this Valentine card for her fellow 33-Week buddy, Owen:

Valentines-Card

I’m sure that Owen will continue teaching his parents life lessons as they all grow together. Right now, he is snuggled safely in his mama’s arms and thriving at home!

To all the mama’s of sweet preemies, I think YOU are amazing. You have been asked to find new depths of strength inside yourself and to search for the thread of love in even the most impossible situations. This Valentine’s Day, I am celebrating the fierce and unfailing love that we {as mama’s} have for our precious children.

Comments { 1 }

Hello 2015: Welcoming Grace

Brave-2015

It’s been a little quiet around here with the whirlwind of celebrations and chaos commonly known as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Olivia’s Second Birthday. More to come on each of these topics, but for now, I’m savoring the sunshine. It was nearly 60 degrees today- in January!

Did you pick a new One Little Word for 2015? I’m keeping my word from last year, Light. I’m going to continue creating “Light” in my daily life by pursuing my passions, removing unwanted stress, staying in the present moment, and building healthy routines. BUT, I’m also adding another word: Grace. The pairing of Light + Grace together just feels right. 2014 was quite frankly a doozy- an incredible avalanche of deadlines, commitments, and uncertainties. By adding “Grace” to my yearly mantra, I’m going to give myself permission to embrace imperfection in the pursuit of Light.

OLW-2015-Grace

Emily Ley couldn’t have said it better: “I will hold myself to a standard of Grace not perfection.” This beautiful saying is now on my home screen as a daily reminder- it’s #16 on her collection of gorgeous FREE phone wallpapers.

I’m dreaming big for 2015- here are a few glimpses of my vision board for this year:

2015-Vision-Board

I couldn’t resist adding a few aqua and gold paper butterflies. Cheers to a happy and healthy New Year!

Comments { 0 }

Clearing Skies

We spent the past week at my parent’s beautiful lake home. The first part of the week was fairly gloomy as waves of rain swept across the state. The past few days, however, were spectacular. We enjoyed gorgeous, crisp Autumn mornings with brilliant sunshine.  I was able to catch this series of images one morning as the fog receded across the lake:

A dense blanket of fog…

Fog

Fog2

Fog3

…slowly grows thinner…

Fog4

…a beautiful vista emerges.

Fog5

Watching this transition unfold over the course of about 20 minutes was mesmerizing. I was struck how this process parallels so many life situations. When you’re in the middle of it (you name “it”– navigating motherhood, feeling stuck in your career path, starting over, etc…), it’s so difficult to see your path unfolding clearly. You might even feel desperately alone, as if time is standing still and you are running out of options while the world literally closes in around you.

… and then, with a little trust, patience, and persistence… clarity returns… sometimes briefly… and then more and more…

What would start to shift for you if you knew the beauty, abundance, and clarity that awaited you after the fog cleared? How would you think differently? Act differently?

Wishing you a “clear skies” mindset, even when the fog rolls in…

Comments { 0 }

Around Here: July and August 2014

July flew by and August is almost a distant memory.  Lately, I’ve been:

…coordinating evaluations and therapy sessions for Olivia.  I’ll write more about this personal adventure in the future.  I’m still digesting all the lessons I’ve learned about advocating for your child and some of the new insights we’ve gained into fostering speech development for toddlers.  Olivia has a huge gap right now between her receptive and expressive language abilities.  Naturally, this reality fuels daily frustrations for her and escalates tantrums quickly.  I am amazed at Olivia’s intelligence, curiosity, and independence- she experiences life so fully!  I am so grateful that we have some services in place now to help facilitate her journey.

Olivia-19-Months

… reflecting on some awesome blog posts focused on motherhood, life, and finding your own voice:

  • Baseball, Mom, and Staying the Course: This article was written by my friend, Tammy, who is also on the Design Team for the Snap Click Supply Company.  I just love her beautiful perspective on motherhood… some days are so tough and everything seems to go wrong at once.  Simply continuing to meet each challenge with an open heart and love is enough.
  • Redefining What I Want: Love this list about crafting a life you love.  How do you want your life to feel?
  • Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt: Awesome post challenging our constant need to upgrade and “fix” our life.  Love her focus on gratitude and staying in the present moment.  I hope Olivia remembers our kitchen as the site of many impromptu dance parties.
  • A Code for Living: This thoughtful quote from Tara Mohr is a true gem: “Do not give anyone an experience that you are not eager to receive, tenfold, at the end of your journey.”

… working on projects for The Dating Divas.  I posted this photo to Instagram in July with the caption: “Real life… What our kitchen table has looked like for the past week and half.  A growing and increasingly random assortment of materials for taking staged photos of upcoming blogging projects.  Yes, those would be balloons, Skittles, ping pong balls, and sprinkles on the table! #wannabephotographer”

Photo-table-July-2014

I am so excited about the products our team is creating and feel so blessed to be in charge of leading the process.  Our graphic designer, Courtney of All Things Bright and Beautiful, is AMAZING!  She consistently transforms our design requests into a gorgeous, visual reality.  To top it off, her designs are  modern and fun!  If you are hosting a group date night, you will want to check out our Couples Win It in a Minute Party Pack.  It has EVERYTHING you need for a successful and FUN night with your favorite people.

Couples Game Night

We also recently launched our DIY Birthday Card Pack for Him.  These gorgeous cards are print ready and perfect for telling your hubby how much he is adored.  Wait until you see the embellishments on these cards- Hallmark has nothing on these!  This pack is a STEAL!  10 birthday cards and coordinating embellishments for less than 1 typical store-bought card!

Birthday Card Pack

… finishing this book: Dying to Be Me.  Additional thoughts and review COMING SOON!

… participating in Big Picture Classes Phone Photography Project 2 on Instagram.  Click to see all my summer photos related to this challenge!

Summer-Light

…writing a little bit about essential oils.  I’ve been using them for the past year and loving our experiences.  They are definitely part of our daily routine and a first line of defense for anything that life throws our way.  For instance, on our last trip down to the lake, James was working in my parent’s yard and got into what we think was Stinging Nettle.  Almost immediately, he felt intense stinging and little white bumps appeared on his finger.  I immediately applied Lavender, Melaleuca, and Purify.  Within about 10 minutes, his pain subsided and the bumps were gone!  If you are curious about essential oils and what they can do for your family, check out The Essential Oils Archives.

PINCHING myself because I was featured on Kara’s Party Ideas!  I’m beyond thrilled that Kara decided to feature my dear friend Ashley’s Coco Chanel Inspired Baby Shower.  HERE’S THE FEATURE!  I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone in terms of submitting this party to a major blog… and checked off one more item on my 30 During My 30th Year!

…noticing that the seasons are beginning to shift.  This hydrangea’s beautiful white flowers always turn a gorgeous shade of blush announcing Fall’s arrival.

Hydrangea-August-2014

… dumping a cold bucket of water/ice on my head.  Yes, my good friend Kim nominated me to take the ALS ice bucket challenge.  It was COLD!  Brrr…. Read how this challenge started HERE.  It truly just takes a few people with open hearts, an idea, and a desire to make a difference.

Ice-Bucket-Challenge-August

… and, just this past week, catching some unexpected inspiration from the radio.  I was driving over to my mom’s house and happened to tune into Oprah’s channel on Sirius where she was interviewing Pastor Rick.  This quote really resonated with me:

“You can waste your life. You can spend your life. Or you can invest your life. The best use of your life is to invest it in that which will outlast it. Invest it in serving others. And that’s what it means to live a purpose-driven life.”- Pastor Rick

Looking forward to all that September will bring!

Comments { 2 }

Thoughts on Motherhood and Traveling: Part 2

To read Part 1, click HERE!

Aerial View

During a recent flight, I had the chance to sit next to the window and gaze out at some incredible cloud formations.  Perhaps I was just focused on missing Olivia, but the clouds (and really the whole process of flying) made me think about motherhood.

Some similarities that I was struck by:

… on both types of journeys, you alternate between periods of clarity and complete overwhelm.  As a new mother, you might feel like you are permanently stuck in a never-ending haze of confusion, panic, and stress… Similarly, to get to your cruising altitude, a plane must ascend through a dense and often murky layer of clouds.  I think I involuntary hold my breath for these moments- you can’t see anything and it feels like you’re traveling through a giant marshmallow!  Both scenarios require patience and trust that you are slowly getting closer to your destination.

Navigating Motherhood

… and then you emerge on the other side and it’s just grand.  This higher perspective fuels both gratitude and reflection.  These moments make the journey worthwhile and truly inspiring!

Clouds from the Plane

I’m still trying to navigate and find my footing on this precious journey of motherhood.  The highs and lows just seem so darn extreme!  Moods cycle so easily between clarity and overwhelm.  These days we are focusing on the good.

… precious baby smiles and laughter… watching new learning take place before our eyes….sweet baby snuggles and embraces… her joy in discovering something new… her delight in new independence and skills….

Flying

… all the steps and stages of learning to fly.

Comments { 0 }

Thoughts on Traveling and Motherhood: Part 1

Over the past two months, I’ve spent two weekends away from my sweet baby girl.  I’m happy to report that she did great!  I, on the other hand, was largely a hot mess.  Part of me was so excited to escape my current reality for just a few precious days.  The other part was overwhelmed with anxiety- about a million questions raced through my mind… is James feeding her something other than puffs?  Is she sleeping at my parent’s house?  Does she miss me?  Does she know we are coming back?  Does she feel like I abandoned her?  Are her teeth hurting her?  Am I missing any milestones?

Totally stereotypically.  Totally normal.  And, yet, I’ve never experienced this push-pull range of emotions so completely.  Traveling solo during my first weekend away also brought up another set of questions that I wasn’t necessarily prepared to answer.  All those pesky “what if” scenarios… What if something were to happen?  What if there was an accident?  I was quickly reminded how fragile life can be.  I also immediately thought of a post I had seen on Instagram by Holly from Decor8.  In one of her captions about her beautiful little boy on April 25th, she wrote “I’ve never valued my own life more than I do now…”

Decor8 inspirational words

Ah… I can completely relate.  Don’t you just love Holly’s inspirational words?  Being Olivia’s mama has definitely challenged me in a completely new way to be the best version of myself.  Taking exquisite care of my health, both physically and emotionally, is also a gift to my daughter.  Not only do I just want to be around for the next several decades, I want to make the most of it!  So many things to teach to her and so much love to give!

Motherhood Memories

Photo Credit: Karen Hendrix Photography

And, as if the universe heard my concerns and longing to be a great mama/teacher/friend, I happened to run across a little treasure along the aisles of our local Hallmark store: a recordable version of my most favorite book: Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.  I’ve mentioned this beautiful story before HERE– I just adore it.  And, now, my sweet baby girl has a version to listen to in my voice.  Knowing Olivia could her me reading and feel all the love from this book’s message made leaving just a little more bearable.

Comments { 0 }

30 During My 30th Year

A simple Google search of “30 [Goals] Before [Turning] 30” generates an impressive array of hits.  With my venture into a new decade mere weeks away, I couldn’t resist creating a set of action steps that will hopefully help guide my year of feeling LIGHT.

Inspiring-Quote1.  Dress the Part.  I’ve definitely succumbed to “mommy-mode” attire this year and frequently wear black yoga pants and a comfortable top.  Kelly Rae’s post on her decision to switch up her wardrobe really resonated with me.  Check out her thoughtful Wear Your Joy project HERE.

2.  Schedule Date Night.  James and I have miserably at carving out time for our relationship during the prior year.  I think we went on maybe 3 date nights and 2 additional group events?!  This pitiful number needs to change asap…(this Dating Diva needs to take her own advice…)

3.  See the Ocean.  I love the feeling of infinite possibilities that arises when I stare out at an endless ocean horizon line.  I am craving the sounds, light, and vastness of the sea.

4.  Go on a Trip as a Couple.  We have at least one trip scheduled in June sans baby.  I’m sure it will be incredibly difficult to leave Olivia for a couple of days, but I am looking forward to having time to be just Candice and James– for a few days, we are ditching the titles of Mom, Dad, Financial Provider, and Blogger.

5.  Organize the Craft Room.  My Mom and I typically work on a postage stamp of space- it’s time to find practical solutions for storing a wide range of mixed media.

6.  Submit a Piece to a Major Blog.  Time to step out of my comfort zone.

7.  Finish Olivia’s Baby Book.

8.  See a Concert Live.

9.  Cultivate a Morning Ritual.  Eliminate the chaos and carve out some time for me before Olivia wakes up.

10.  Exercise.  Vague and simple: find a routine that works for me.

11.  Start Meatless Mondays.  I’m a big fan of Kris Carr and haven’t looked at dairy or meat in quite the same way since reading her book Crazy Sexy Diet.  James and I are committed to exploring more plant based meals this year.

12.  Make and Send 30 Cards. 

13.  Pay It Forward.  Try buying someone’s coffee behind me, etc…

14.  Complete a Photo a Day Challenge.  I participated in Heidi Swapp’s Holiday Foto Find in December on Instagram and loved how the prompts helped me observe and document more.

15.  Write Letters to My Daughter.  My brother-in-law and his wife gave me a lovely book for Christmas: My Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Daughter.  So far, I’ve glanced through the pages and started thinking about some of the prompts.  I can already see this collection becoming a treasured reference for both myself and Olivia.

16.  Complete a Healthy Juice Cleanse.

17.  Start a Dinner Club with Friends.  We’ve talked about this one for a long time.  As we’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that our circle of friends meets less regularly- everyone is simply trying to stay afloat with their own responsibilities!

18.  Invest in My Blog.  Craft regular content with a predictable schedule of postings.  I’m going to aim for a post each Monday and Thursday.

19.  Juice, Blend, Repeat.  I truly hope to incorporate more delicious green juices and smoothies into our daily diet.

20.  Cultivate a Sunday Ritual.  Establish a routine to take care of practical household matters and set clear intentions for the following week.

21.  Reorganize My Cookbooks.  Many of the recipes in my collection just don’t make sense given what I’m learning about eating a whole foods diets that is abundant with veggies and lean protein.  It’s time to clear the deck so the most flavorful and healthy ones are easy to find.

22.  Plant an Herb Garden.

23.  Restaurant Tour.

24.  Experiment with Vegan Recipes.  Buy, cook, and eat tofu and tempeh!  Learn how to use my food processor.

25.  Establish Boundaries with Social Media/Technology.  Facebook has evolved into a tool to keep connected to many blogging ventures though the use of private and educational groups.  It’s been increasing difficult to put my phone down and not “check-in” several times a day.

26.  Less Pinning, More Doing.  Simple attitude adjustment: choose action over perfection.

27.  Read a Book for Fun.  I don’t remember the last time I’ve carved out time to read something that wasn’t related to child care, parenting, blogging, etc… I’ve got my eye on Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things.

28.  Investigate Volunteer Opportunities.  I’ve been on the board of several organizations that have fizzled out over the course of several months due to a lack of staff support and organizational readiness.  I’d love to utilize my skill set to help a local nonprofit– I’m on the search for a match.

29.  Be Present with Olivia.  Sing, laugh, dance, practice sign language… So many adventures on the horizon to savor.

30.  Spend Time with My Grandparents.  Distance has always been a barrier to seeing them in the past.  With their recent move to an assisted living facility in our area, I’m hopeful that we can make Sunday night dinners a weekly tradition.  Love watching them light up around Olivia.

I really tried to compile a list that didn’t contain any fillers and wouldn’t add to my stress load.  I will admit- it’s a bit scary putting all of this “out there.”  Actually writing it out means that I’m more accountable and [hopefully] on the path to manifesting these goals.

What would be on your list, friends?

Comments { 0 }

Gratitude for 2013

As I welcome all the LIGHT of 2014, I decided to pause for just a moment and reflect on the prior year.  Last night, I went through my planner and intentionally looked for milestones, celebrations, and other memories filled with gratitude.

For all the fearful, uncertain, and darn right unpleasant days, 2013 brought us great joy.

Top 10 of 20131.  Watching Olivia grow.

Olivia Growing Collage webOlivia Year 1-2 webOlivia Year 1-web2.  Celebrating our baby girl!

Little Miss Sunshine Party

Winter ONEderland First Birthday

3.  Toasting Newlyweds throughout the Year.

Weddings-in-2013We attended five wonderful wedding celebrations this year and I planned one LUCKY in LOVE themed party.

4. Enjoying many trips to the lake with family and friends.

5. Discovering the world of essential oils.Essential-Oils-and-Burns

6. Increasing my own skills as a photographer and finding an awesome professional photographer to document Olivia’s milestones.

7. Traveling— DC x2: Washington DC and Door County with Olivia.

Travel-in-20138.  Attending music class and watching Olivia’s love of rhythm and song blossom.

Gratitude-189.  Finding outlets to share my creative talents.

In case you missed them, my favorite posts from last year at The Dating Divas included: The Grinch Date, Love You SNOW Much Date, Bewitching Cupcakes, All Star Love Date Extravaganza, and It’s a Love Match.  In the Fall, I also had the opportunity to join Jessica Sprague’s Create Inspiration Design Team.  So far, I’ve enjoyed making a “Keep Calm” Art Print, a DIY Gratitude List, and a collection of Santa Cheer Decor and Gifts.

10. Exploring new adventures: flying lessons and remodeling the kitchen.

Loved the process of reflecting back on these happy memories and adventures.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 has in store for our family!

Comments { 0 }

One Little Word 2014

On December 30th, I saw a Facebook status post from Kris Carr that stopped me in my tracks.  She eloquently wished her followers a year of ease.  Her words truly resonated with me.  She said:

“For me, ease at work and at home equals joy, health, creativity and contentment.  Ease connects me to my internal life.  The more ease I feel, the more grounded my decisions become.  I welcome those things into my life in 2014 and I invite you to join me.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

2013 was so h-e-a-v-y… ripe with a murky matrix of extreme emotions ranging from pure joy to sheer terror.  We welcomed our most precious gift into the world and were forced to entrust her care to strangers almost immediately.  Nothing about the first couple of months of 2013 was normal.  We waited.  We prayed.  We slowly figured it out and mourned the loss of traditional family bonding moments.

Each milestone was celebrated.  Life simultaneously moved at 500 mph and stood still as we practiced patience, grew confidence, and learned to be Olivia’s health advocates.  GROW was such a fitting word for 2013.  On some days, we stretched to our max and redefined our breaking point.

We are so blessed to come out of this year with a healthy baby girl, a stronger marriage, and deeper friendships.

In the spirit of ease and Kris Carr’s eloquent words, I hope to embrace all things LIGHT for 2014.  To me, the word light encompasses far more than just sunshine– it’s a mental attitude that combines a sense of ease and confidence that ultimately manifests in one’s physical body and spiritual faith.

OLW 2014 Light

What do my LIGHT GOALS for 2014 look like?

Lightness of Body:

  • losing the weight I don’t need any more
  • taking exquisite care of my health

Spiritual Light:

  • developing a self-care practice
  • being intentional with my time

Daily Life:

  • laughing more
  • not taking things too seriously
  • practicing gratitude
  • trusting more
  • staying in the present moment

What word is guiding your year?

 

Comments { 0 }