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Friday, December 29, 2017

Dear 2017.

Dear 2017, 
I'm gonna level with you here. You sucked in a LOT of ways. It's almost as if you heard me saying good riddance to 2016, calling it the worst year, and you were hovering right there and thought, "What's that? A challenge?"
So yeah, you sucked in a lot of ways. But you were also really good in a lot of ways. The whole year has reminded me of a quote from a favorite book: "So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and still trying to figure out how that can be." How can things feel so good, so joyful, so amazing, and so bad, so hopeless, so dark at the same time? 
You were the very definition of bittersweet. 

You were full of adventures and new places. 
You were full of heartache and confusion. 
You gave me the sweetest summer. 
You made it nearly impossible to even turn the news on and still be able to breathe.
You brought me new people, good people, the best people. 
You hurt some of the people closest to me. 
You broke me. You grew me. 
You gave me 365 days of making memories with my sweetest little love.
You made me question almost everything I've ever believed in. 
You made me strong. So, so strong. 

I could say a lot about you, (honestly, a few expletives come to mind), but at the end of you, I'm still here, I'm full of good memories and good experiences, and I can confidently say that I'm more myself than I've ever been. 
So, I'll just say thank you. 
But also, you can go now. BYEEEEE. 
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What December Taught Me.

That I need to slow down more. The Friday before Christmas, I spent the day at the beach with my family. No big special occasion, no plan, just beach chairs and publix subs (THE best) and watching Jack eat sand by the shovel-fulls. It was so relaxing and refreshing, especially in the middle of the go-go-go holiday season. I want more days like that in 2018.

That it's important to look back every now and then. I believe you learn the most about yourself from yourself, especially from past versions of yourself. I go back and forth on New Year's goals...sometimes I set them, sometimes I don't, sometimes they're very specific, sometimes they're vague. What I've decided to do for 2018 is to look back on this year and see where I was the happiest and where I wasn't, and take things from there. What of 2017 do I want more of, and what do I want less of?

That I shouldn't wait for a holiday just to spend time with my people, or give gifts.  It doesn't have to be Christmas for me to go spend a day at the beach with my family. For New Years this year, my best friend and I are staying at a family friend's beach house. That house is there all year long, and we could stay there just about any given weekend. The dollar spot at Target (where, let's be honest, lots of my gifts for friends came from) is there all year long. The $10 I spent on a gift, I could spare just about any month. See what I'm saying here? I want more celebrations, special occasion or not. 

What did this month teach you?
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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

That's a Wrap, Folks.

And just like that, the Christmas season comes to a close. I just couldn't let the season officially end without sharing this picture that will probably have me laughing for the rest of my life. For the second year in a row, Jack hated Santa...but the real winner here is Santa's face. I cry. 

A few things I always want to remember about this Christmas: 
  • How Jack started opening doors just a few days before Christmas, so on Christmas morning, I found that little stinker in the pitch black, playing with his new toys from Santa that were set out in the den. I laughed so hard.
  • At both my parents' house and my house, we would all excitedly try to get Jack to open his next present, but was always so happy and content with whatever he had just opened that he ignored us (we all could probably learn a lesson here).
  • How, after a super hot week, Florida cooled down just in time for Christmas day. It was no snow day, but it was in the low 50's, which is basically the same here. I drank my peppermint mocha outside and didn't even sweat, which is borderline miraculous. 

I hope your Christmas was every bit as magical as you wanted it to be. And I hope the last few days of 2017 are nothing but good to you!

Tell me something you always want to remember about this Christmas! 

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Dear You: A Christmas Letter.

Dear You,
I hope your Christmas season has been absolutely beautiful in every way. I hope it's been full of all of your favorite things, full of the magical chaos of holiday hustle and bustle, and the magical stillness of peace and quiet. I hope that if it hasn't been the best season, you start today and make this the merriest week of all. 

I hope this week, you get to be surrounded by those who love you the most, in the ways no one else can. If that's not an option, I wish you lots of phone dates, group texts, and facetimes with hot cocoa. 

I hope that no matter where life has you celebrating this year, it is magical. 

I hope that this week, you do what you want to do. That you say "no thank you" to the pressures of others' expectations. That you say" boy, bye" to feeling guilty for your Christmas looking different than someone else's. Your cookies don't look pinterest-perfect? Bet they're still delicious. Your kids getting lots of gifts instead of the minimalist list of four floating around the internet? Girl, bring it. I hope you find the magical space of what works for you, and you celebrate in the ways that make you the happiest. 

I hope you keep a fire burning in your heart that remembers what all of this is about. I hope you slow down and savor it. I hope you meditate on it. I hope you read the Christmas story as if it is the first time you've ever read it. I hope you go above and beyond in throwing love all over your people. 
I hope you allow yourself some wonder this Christmas. That, as this crazy year comes to a close, you allow yourself to believe there is still good in this world. That you allow yourself to believe there is still magic in the world. If there is any magic left to be found, it exists at Christmastime.

I hope you choose to be happy instead of stressed. I hope you remember that your people love you, and they are not worried about gifts. They understand that this year has been a little tough, and that your bank account isn't looking the best it's ever looked. That $5 gift you picked out for them is going to bring them so much joy, because it's from you. 

I hope that if Christmas is hard for you this year, you tell someone. That you pick up the phone and let someone into the darkness with you. I hope you give joy the effort. That you say no to isolation. 
I hope every single hour brings small, unexpected joys. I hope you delight in the Christmas lights, in peppermint mocha coffee, in the laughter of little kids waiting to meet Santa. 

I hope your days are merry and bright, full of love and light and magic and cheesy movies and Christmas songs and eggnog and gingerbread. I hope you laugh at Will Ferrell parading around Central Park in yellow tights, that your heart swells when Linus reads the Christmas story, and that you plants seeds of wonder and magic that will bloom well into 2018.

I hope this Christmas is not a penny short of magical. That, years from now, when you look back on this year, you'll remember it as the very best. I hope you feel the happiest you've felt all year long. 

Merry Christmas, beautiful friends. 

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas: I Have a Toddler Edition.

On the first day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...A picture with Santa where there was so much screaming, even Santa isn't smiling. (I'll frame it anyway).
On the second day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Two epic meltdowns before 10:00AM, because Christmas errands are not for the faint of heart, and they are also not for toddlers. 

On the third day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Three Christmas cookies used as bribes, that will most definitely result in a skipped nap. 

On the fourth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Four showings of Curious George Christmas (in a row) (on the same day) (send wine). 

On the fifth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Five strangers staring in the grocery store as he stood up in the cart and declared his true feelings about grocery shopping the week of Christmas. 

On the sixth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Six hours I spent googling "toddler Christmas gifts" knowing full well he'll be happiest with the wrapping paper. 

On the seventh day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Seven awkward FaceTime dates with out of town family who wants to wish the toddler a merry Christmas, but the toddler only wants to make a brief appearance, leaving you to handle the rest of the conversation.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Eight extra miles of driving because he finally passed out and there is no earthly way I'm going home and waking him up. 

On the ninth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Nine pizzas ordered (so far) this month because this. mama. ain't. cooking. 

On the tenth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Ten different attempts at staged candid Christmas pictures before giving up and promising I'll get professional pictures taken this year (I won't). 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...Eleven "last minute" Target runs for things I convince myself he needs for Christmas. 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my toddler gave to me...twelve broken ornaments from tackling the Christmas tree. 

Twelve broken ornaments, 
Eleven Target runs, 
Ten failed photoshoots, 
Nine pizzas delivered, 
Eight miles of driving, 
Seven awkward FaceTimes, 
Six hours googling, 
Five strangers staring, 
Four Curious George shows, 
Three Christmas cookies,
Two epic meltdowns, 
And a picture of Santa that borders on creepy
(but I'm framing it anyway)
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Here's Your Reminder to Stop and Savor.

Hi, you. 

You, thriving in the holiday hustle and bustle. Or you, overwhelmed by the chaos. You, so excited that Christmas is in two weeks. You, feeling behind and like you haven't even started the season yet. 
Wherever you are, here's your reminder to slow down, stop, and savor. 

Whether this season is everything you hoped it would be or looks nothing like you wanted it to, it's still your holiday season. And it's worth savoring, even just for a minute. 

While you're buying gifts (cheerfully, or frantically), savor the fact that you have relationships in your life that are Christmas present-worthy. When you're driving home from a night full of errands (always chaotic this time of year), savor the coziness of pulling into your neighborhood to see houses lit up with lights. 

Savor the feeling of plugging in the Christmas tree before you turn any other lights on. Savor how your favorite Christmas song makes you feel. Savor the feeling of laughing at Elf, or Home Alone, or The Grinch. Curl up with a blanket and some hot chocolate and take a second to just be happy that it's Christmas. 

Every moment won't be perfect. You'll still have moments of being tired, or overwhelmed, or disappointed, or fill-in-the-blank. But this season, this cozy, beautiful, bright, wonderful season, will be over before you know it. So before that happens, take a second to slow down. Look around and savor it while it's still here. 

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Just Today.

"All we have is today. Just today." 

That was my best friend's response to a situation I was frustratedly telling her about. And while it wasn't advice, and it didn't help me understand how things were going to play out, it was comforting. 

Because she's right. All we have right now is the day we're living in. We can hope to make tomorrow good, too. We can hope to learn from yesterday. But right now, today is the only thing you can control right this second. So might as well make it a good one. 

There's something really freeing about realizing that. The circumstance that has you stumped, that you don't know what to do next? Well, do your best today. The Christmas season (that can make the best of us feel inadequate) making you feel like you should have already done more? Get your festive on today. Having a crappy week, or month, or year with no real end in sight? Make today good. Make it really good. 

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe it won't. But right now, you have today. 

Just today. 
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

10 Under $10: Things You (Maybe, Might) Need

I love seeing people's favorite things. Honestly, a lot of my favorite things, or things I use on a daily basis, came from seeing people recommend them online. So many things I never would have known about if it wasn't for people sharing their favorites!

I am also a sucker for a good deal, so it should not come as a surprise that the majority of my favorite things are under $10. Here are ten of them...treat yo'self. 

Daisy sunglasses. HOW FUN ARE THESE?! I need them. 

Fuzzy socks. There is truly nothing more cozy this time of year than warm feet. There's just not. 

Hey Sugar mug. This mug is $4 and was practically made for instagram pictures. Look a those colors! 

Lip lingerie. This is my go-to lip color right now. They have over twenty shades so you can find a nude that looks good on you. Your lips naked, but better. 

If you can read this, bring me hot chocolate socks. These are adorable and pretty much begging to be worn on Christmas morning. 

Christmas tree candle. We got a tiny real tree this year, and it smells amazing, but not enough to make my whole house smell like Christmas. This baby takes care of that. 
Yoga mat spray. This smells incredible and really does help you stay focused. It adds a whole extra element to Yoga. I love it. 

Sushi stud earrings. I cannot explain to you why I need these so bad, but I do. I really do. 

Mug warmer. If you're anything like me, after gulping down that first cup of coffee, it's a miracle if you can finish a mug before it gets cold. This guy keeps it warm until things calm down enough for you to remember that you did have a cup of coffee somewhere around here...

No bad days shirt. Because there are no bad days in December, that's the rule. 
What are you loving that's under $10?
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Friday, December 1, 2017

Spending Your December: A To-Do List For Adventuring Through The Most Magical Month of The Year.

The most magical month of the entire year is here! We get 31 beautiful days this month and we get to choose how to spend them. Of course, I have some suggestions. 

1. Start an Advent calendar. 

2. Decorate your space for Christmas. 

3. Get your pet a Christmas sweater. This one lights up. You're welcome. 

4. Make hot chocolate. Not just from a packet, either. Get fancy with it.

5. Bake Christmas cookies. 

6. Watch Elf. 

7. Leave a secret Santa gift. 

8. Donate to a family in need. It doesn't have to be extravagant to help. Most of us probably have things in our pantry we could spare that a food bank would happily take.

9. Go through ____ in preparation of incoming gifts. Asking for clothes for Christmas? Get rid of the ones you don't wear anymore. Know your kid will get a bunch of toys? Throw out the broken ones, donate the ones she doesn't play with anymore. 

10. Watch a Christmas movie you've never seen. I will happily give you allll my recommendations.
11. Look up Christmas-y things in your town.

12. Listen to Christmas music by a fire. My personal definition of cozy.

13. Make a fun day out of Christmas shopping. Grab lunch somewhere fun, listen to Christmas music on the way, grab a peppermint mocha...'tis the season.

14. Decorate gingerbread houses.

15. Go look at Christmas lights.

16. Play Dirty Santa. Even if you have to throw a party of your own to make this happen. . .worth it.

17. Give someone a Christmas card that wouldn't expect it. A maintenance worker, your mail lady, the cashier at Publix. . .the possibilities are pretty endless with this one. 

18. Go see Santa. Borrow a child if you must.

19. Get Christmas PJs. 

20. Have a Christmas dinner party. Whether this means you invite all your friends over or just cook some festive things for yourself, do whatever you'll enjoy the most! 

21. Clean your house. Either you'll be happy to spend Christmas in a clean home, or you'll be happy to return to a clean home from wherever you spent Christmas.

22. Read the Christmas story.

23. Go to a Christmas service. No matter what your faith, there is something magical about attending a Christmas service.

24. Celebrate Christmas Eve. The best day! 

25. Celebrate Christmas! 

26. Be the laziest. Look, no one gets anything done the day after Christmas. Embrace it. 

27. Do something to avoid the post-holiday blues. Whether this means go to the gym or go to your favorite restaurant, do something that makes you happy! 

28. Exchange any gifts you need to. It's not fun, just get it over with.

29. Think about your goals for 2018.

30. Write 2017 a letter. A love letter, some hate mail, whatever you need to do.

31. Celebrate New Year's Eve!

How will you be spending your December?
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