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Monday, July 30, 2018

Books I Read in July (And Whether or Not You Should Read Them)

The High Season by Judy Blundell

Plot: "The Hamptons hath no fury like a woman scorned. 

No matter what the world throws her way, at least Ruthie Beamish has the house. Lovingly renovated, located by the sea in a quiet Long Island village, the house is her nest egg - the retirement account shared with her ex-husband, Mike, and the college fund for their teenage daughter, Jem. The catch? To afford the house, Ruthie must let it go during the best part of the year.
It's Memorial Day weekend, and Ruthie has packed up their belongings for what Jem calls "the summer bummer": the family's annual exodus to make way for renters. This year, the Hamptons set has arrived. The widow of a blue-chip artist, Adeline Clay is elegant, connected, and accompanied by a "gorgeous satellite" stepson. But soon Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie's life - her house, her friends, even her husband (okay, ex-husband, but still). And after her job as the director of a local museum is threatened, Ruthie finally decides to fight back.
Meanwhile, away from the watchful eyes of her parents, Jem is tasting independence at her first summer job but soon finds herself growing up too fast. One of Ruthie's employees, a master of self-invention named Doe, infiltrates the inner circle of an eccentric billionaire and his wayward daughter. With a coterie of social climbers and Ruthie's old flame thrown into the mix, the entire town finds itself on the verge of tumultuous change. By the end of one unhinged, unforgettable summer, nothing will be the same.
In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons - a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings."

Favorite quote: “Maybe all relationships, friendship, partner, parent and child, were held together by the things you did not say as much as the things you did. The unsaid was the keystone in the arch. Once you kicked it free, you had nothing that held you up.”

My thoughts: I liked the writing. I liked the characters. I liked the plotlines. But there was WAAAAAY too much happening. Way too many characters and side plots. Because there was so much happening it felt like we only get a small taste of every little thing, and then oh, the book is over. So no real closure on anything, you know?

Should you read it? Meh.

You Are a Bad** at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

Plot: "You Are a Bada** at Making Money will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation—over just a few years—from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, Jen Sincero channels the inimitable sass and practicality that made You Are a Bada** an indomitable bestseller. She combines hilarious personal essays with bite-size, aha concepts that unlock earning potential and get real results."

Favorite quote: “You can have excuses or you can have success; you can't have both.”

My thoughts: I loved her first book, so of course I was excited to read this one. No surprise, I loved it. She really dives into changing your mindset, and I liked that. Like, why are we embarrassed to talk about money? We shouldn't be! Why are we embarrassed to want more money, like it's a bad thing? We shouldn't be! It's a quick read and the audible version is only 7 hours long. It's a great book to listen to on your commute.

Should you read it? Yes! 

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing The Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

Plot:"Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don't have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: That's a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the 20 lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we've told ourselves so often we don't even hear them anymore.
With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.
With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle - and how to give yourself grace without giving up."

Favorite quote: “Your dream is worth fighting for, and while you’re not in control of what life throws at you, you are in control of the fight.” 

My thoughts: If you follow me on here or on instagram, you've seen me raving about this book. My feelings about it are too much to fit in a post shared with other books, so I've got a full post dedicated to why you should read it coming up soon. In the meantime, I'll say this: I can, without a hint of exaggeration, say this book changed my life. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I want everyone in my life to read it. 

Should you read it? YES. NOW. IMMEDIATELY. 

What did you read this month?

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Friday, July 27, 2018

What July Taught Me.

To slow the heck down || More specifically, that it's possible to slow down even when life is hectic. I tend to equate "slowing down" with "doing nothing" and I'm learning that doesn't have to be the case. Even on the busiest of days, doing simple things like taking care of my face can slow things down. 

For me, slowing down is more about attitude than it is about action. I can still have a day of working hard and tackling my to-do list without having an anxious and urgent attitude about it. Does that make sense?

To remember to dream big ||  I mentioned last month that I’ve started making a little money on Poshmark. I’ve also been making money from my blog (praise!). I’ve got this list on my phone of things I need money for, and every time I make a sale on Poshmark, or when my Amazon affiliate payments come in, I subtract that amount from the list. Right now, it’s mostly boring things: Credit card payments, library fines (oops). And a few fun things, too: Swim lessons for Jack, new, prettier bedding.

I’m reading Girl, Wash Your Face (CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH) and - I say this without a hint of exaggeration - it’s changing my life by the chapter. Truly. But one of the ways it’s wrecked my mindset this month is the reminder to dream big. To write down the big things you want so you remember why you’re working so hard. 

Do I want new bedding? Yes! Would paying my credit cards down to zero be amazing? Heck yeah. Are they my biggest, wildest dreams? No. They’re not. 

So this month was a reminder to dream big and out loud and in color. To write them down, to put them where I can see them, to work hard with those dreams in mind. Tell me - what are your dreams? The big ones? The scary ones? The ones that might seem silly to someone else, but are important to you. Hear me: They’re important. They’re reachable. Get at it! 

What did this month teach you?

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

An Ode to Friendships.

To the friends you thought would be in your life forever, but aren't. These suck, I know they do. I had the honor of graduating with one of the closest friends I'd ever had in my life. I'd met her because of a group project and become so close with her, that I asked her to be in my wedding mere months after meeting her (side note: I have zero regrets about that). It's been years since we've spoken. Does that make me sad? Of course. Do I wish she was still in my life and that Jack knew her? Duh. But when I look back on the years she was in my, what a gift she was. I can truly attribute lots of things about myself today to the fact that I met her, and she changed my life. Not everything is meant to be forever, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a giant gift.

To the friends that are there for you, even as you grow apart. These are solid gold. Friendships that have fizzled a bit due to time and distance and growing apart, but would pick up the phone no matter what time you called. Who would hop on a plane for you, no matter how long it's been since you last talked. These are rare and special. 

To the long-distance friends. Lucky for us, we live in a time where it's incredibly easy to stay in touch, no matter where you're both located. FaceTime dates, funny memes sent, snail mail cards from the dollar spot...these friendships are special because they take effort. You spend your time and energy on these friends, because they're worth it. 

To the friendships that ended poorly. Over something stupid, or maybe not. Maybe it was your fault, maybe theirs. Either way, what a bummer, right? But I bet it taught you something about yourself, even if it was hard to learn. And learning about yourself? Always a gift. 

To the online friends. Oh, what a tribe. I wouldn't have a blog if it weren't for this group! And let me tell you, they are real friends. When I met Sam for tacos for the first time, it didn't carry the awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time, it felt like, "Oh my gosh, I've missed you!" When I FaceTimed with Lindsay and Kerri for the first time, it didn't feel weird, it felt like "we have SO much to catch up on!" The first time I vented to, got real and raw and a little scream-y...I didn't get a response from a stranger, I got soothing words from a dear friend. 

Does the internet complicate things? Yes. Does it have a lot of evil in it? Sure does. Does it cause harm? You betcha. But it is also good. It provides a platform to share, a place to meet and grow community, and place to say "no way, you too?!" I was having a horrid parenting day one time when Michelle messaged me about how freaking hard it was to parent toddlers. The relief I felt in that moment, simply hearing "me too!" was a gift. Internet friends? Yeah, those are a gift. 

To the _____ friends. You know, the "we're friends because we have _____ in common" friends. Mom friends, work friends, neighbor friends, the "we definitely wouldn't be friends if it weren't for _____" friends. Maybe they make drop-off and pick-up at your kid's school easier. Maybe they make the work day not seem so bad. Whatever it is, it's worth being thankful for.

To the friendships you didn't see coming. I think these are the friends that get sent to you because you need them the most. The most precious friendships in my life are the ones I didn't see coming, and couldn't have searched out on my own if I tried. Random roommates, neighbors, family members of friends. Like Jesus Himself looked down and thought, "Hang on, girl, I know who you need" and sent them right to me. I could cry over these (I do cry over these, haha). The biggest, biggest gift. 

Cheers to friendships! Life would be a heck of a lot harder without them.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

My Favorite Things I've Discovered in July.

My July discoveries were majorly cheap (or even FREE) and majorly about daily pampering. There two things don't tend to go hand in hand (Am I the only one who sometimes reads a blog post of how to treat yourself and ends up feeling like I need roughly $200 of products?) so I am thrilled. Let's get to it. 

PS: These are affiliate links. I'll make (literally) a few pennies if you click on them. Carry on!

1) This gel eye mask. My favorite thing this month (and honestly, maybe the entire year or like, MY WHOLE LIFE) was $7.99. Please do yourself a favor and buy it. You can make it warm or cold, and it's magical. I keep it in my freezer and use it every day, but especially when I have a headache. Puffy eyes, headache, feel tired, feel just blah? This works some magic. You need it. I loved it so much I immediately bought my mom and best friend one. Everybody in my life will be getting these as gifts. I love them that much. 

2) Lymphatic drainage massage. My new favorite way to treat myself FOR FREE.  I was listening to The Morning Toast (my favorite podcast!) And Lauren from The Skinny Confidential was on as a guest. She talked about this and a few google searches later, I was hooked. I've been doing this every day for a few weeks, and it works. My face is less puffy when I do it, I look more awake, and honestly, my skin just looks better. There are tons of tutorials on youtube, but I like this one, this one, and this one. 

3) Microneedling. Lindsay did a post on this awhile back, and it intrigued me, but also scared me. But having ventured into the world of facial massage and feeling like where has this been all my life?! I wondered if microneedling was something like that. Plus, Lindsay could tell me to rub diet coke on my face before bed every night and I'd probably do it. She's trustworthy like that. I've only been doing this for about a week and a half, but honestly, aside from travel breakouts (ugh, airplanes) my skin has been looking pretty amazing. I'm excited to see what longterm results I see from doing it! 

4) Ice roller. While yes, this technically helps with inflammation and overall puffiness, it also just feels REALLY freaking good. Like, amazing. It lives in my freezer and I use it every single morning. It's supposed to tighten pores and wrinkles, de-puff your face and eyes, increase blood flow, and a bunch of other good stuff. And while I totally believe it does those things, it also wakes me up and makes me feel really refreshed, so it's a winner. 

5) Sheet masks. ONE DOLLAR for a pampering sesh. Seriously? If you've got Amazon Prime, here's a 16 pack for $9. I don't know why I've never used sheet masks before now, but I'm obsessed. 

6) Under-eye masks.  At $3.41 for TWO packs of 15, add this to your cart for the next time you buy anything on Amazon (it's an add-on item). Puffy under-eye? Be gone. Dark circles? Bye, girl. I love me some collagen, so slap these on your eye wrinkles and let that goodness sink in. PRO-TIP: Put them in the fridge before you use them. Heavenly. 

Have you used any of these things? Tell me your favorite thing you've discovered this month! 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Favorite Things About Being a Mom This Week.

The last few times I've mentioned Jack, it's been in reference to his stomach virus week. In keeping with the focusing on the good (even though it's all good when it comes to him), I wanted to talk about the happier parts. My favorite things about being a mom right now. 

He currently waves goodbye to literally everyone and screams BYEEEE whether they acknowledge him or not. We were at a rest stop the other day and he waved and said bye to every single car that drove by. 

Chris opened the door the other day, and Jack walked up to him and say, "Hello, Chris!" and just walked away. I guess he's just heard other people say Chris? Either way, it was so funny in the moment. He seemed so grown up, it killed me. 

He's talking a ton. I may have no idea what he's saying, but he certainly does. He'll say a bunch of jibberish and then pause and wait for you to say something back, and then nod like he agrees. I swoon. 

When we were in Colorado last year, my mom made up a song about Colorado that they sing together. He'll randomly bust out with "Whoa whoa whoa, Colorado." The other day he was in the kitchen, crying and saying "Colorado" and pointing at the counter, where there was a bowl of avocados. I can't blame him, they're big words and sound similar. So now he asks for "Colorados" when he's hungry. RIP my heart. 

I've been doing lots of yoga, and anytime I get my mat out, he runs to the closet and rolls a second mat out next to me. He mimics all the poses (and is actually pretty dang good). 

Tell me your favorite thing about a role you play right now: Best friend, mom, neighbor, dog mom, co-worker, sister? Let's hear it. 
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Monday, July 16, 2018

Coming in Live on a Monday.

Gooood morning + happy Monday!

I had every intention of scheduling blogs to go live during my trip to D.C., but Jack was sick all week. I don't know if you've ever been around a toddler with a stomach virus, but it's very, very time consuming (and also very messy, but we don't have to talk about that). Anyway, life happens. Here we are. 

I'm feeling really good today. I mean, I'm so tired, and my to-do list is approximately a mile long, and good GRACIOUS how is there so much laundry?! But I'm also feeling like, "Hey, it's a Monday! A fresh start and a new week and lots of potential!" Maybe it's the coffee I'm chugging, but I'm rolling with it. 

One thing I noticed on my trip was that I was excited about everything. And while you might think, okay, duh, everyone's excited on vacation, I mean I was excited about everything. I'd wake up in the morning (I'm cursed and cannot sleep in, even on vacation) and drink my coffee on the couch and think about the day and it would feel so exciting. Deciding what we were going to eat for breakfast felt exciting. We bought $1 face masks from Forever 21 and it felt exciting. We sat on a bench in a park and drank diet cokes and it felt like the best day ever. We felt so lucky to be there. Because we were!

I really want more of that in my normal life. And while yes, vacation is always going to feel more exciting than waking up on a Monday morning and working and doing laundry, I can at least try to take some of that excitement and bring it with me into my daily life. I mean, you never know what a day is going to hold, but I can almost promise you'll enjoy that day more if you feel lucky to be living it. 

So that's my goal this week. It's a Monday, so it's a perfect time to roll out something new. This week, my something new will be trying to be excited about everything, even the mundane things. Trying to have the attitude that, "of course this is going to be a good day!" An attitude of feeling lucky to be alive and living this life. Because I really, really am. 

Who wants to join me?
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Monday, July 9, 2018

Keep Doing What You Love.

A few months ago (I believe Steph shared it) I read a blog post that said, "The majority of people will not work a job that sets their soul on fire, and that is okay." At first, it made me really sad. Then, it was kind of a relief. 

We tend to act as if our jobs are the most important part of life. Maybe not consciously, but with our actions. Example: Maybe you love painting. You're an amazing (or just okay) painter. It makes you happy like nothing else. It soothes you. It makes you come alive. But. You can't get a job as a painter. So you stop painting. 

WHAT?! No!

I have been incredibly blessed with my job, and I love it for many, many reasons. However, my job is not writing. And that's okay.

It's okay that writing doesn't pay my bills. It's okay that my job doesn't solely consist of doing the thing that sets my soul on fire more than anything else. What would not be okay would be stopping doing that one thing just because it doesn't pay my bills. Because my soul deserves to be excited and alive and on fire. So does yours. 

Tomorrow, my best friend and I are headed to D.C. for a concert. I love trips. I love going new places, seeing new things, eating at new places. I love concerts. I love dancing and singing outside. 

Is dancing and singing at a concert going to pay my bills? Nope. Quite the opposite, actually. But is it going to fill me up with happiness? You bet. 

In a world getting increasingly darker, do the things you love. Do them often. You are hopefully pouring your cup out to make the world a better place in whatever way you can, so do the things you love and fill that cup back up. 

I love watching the sunset, going swimming, eating dinner on patios outside. I love blogging, painting my nails fun colors, going thrifting. I love beach days, listening to the music with the windows down, candles that smell like summer. 

Are any of those things going to fix the world? No. 

Are they important? Yes. 

Do what you love, friends. It's important.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Coffee Date: Rainy Summer Days Edition.

If we were having coffee...

...I'd tell you that Jack & I had a photo session with my sweet friend Kristen. I was so excited about it and for her to capture Jack at the stage he's at now, but we got there and he was NOT having it. He wouldn't smile, laugh, talk, dance, nothing. It was so unlike him and I was so bummed! BUT, she sent me over the pictures, and holy moly, I don't know how she did it, but she got some beautiful ones. I mean, LOOK at that. I'm in love. 

...I'd tell you that this summer has been full of rainy days (mostly rainy afternoons). And while I hate getting rained out of a pool day, I love how green and vibrant everything is. I also love the smell of summer rainstorms. Something about it just makes me happy. 

...I'd tell you I'm becoming more and more obsessed with Poshmark. It's really so much fun!! A hobby that pays me to thrift? Sign me up. You can see my closet here. 

...I'd tell you that next week, Sam and I are taking our annual summer bff trip. This year, we're going to D.C. to see Taylor Swift. I could cry, I'm so excited. Two bucket list things! Tell me your must-do thing in D.C. 

...I'd tell you I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude lately. Things have not necessarily been very gratitude-inducing (it's been the week of the stomach virus), but I'm feeling it nonetheless. I attribute it to keeping my perspective in check, like I blogged about earlier this week. It's wonderful to feel like this. 

Your turn! Tell me what's going on with you!

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

On Falling in Love With Your Life.

As I'm writing this, Jack has his first ever stomach virus. It's awful and seriously so, so sad. It's been a rough 24 hours (I'll spare you details, but I've gone through three bottles of carpet cleaner). 

But the weekend before he got sick was so much fun. We took Jack to Universal, ate the best food, watched him splash around the Curious George park. I mean, look at this picture. Pure joy. 

The day before Jack got sick, I had the best day with my best friend. We laid by the pool, went to Goodwill, ate Taco Bell (let me live). It was great. 

And today I'm cleaning up puke. 

In short, it's been the best week and the worst week. 

But that's life, you know? Ups and downs. Good and bad. 

If you were to give me a snapshot of life right now, it may look something like this: 

Chels, you're riddled with anxiety, have entirely too much on your plate, spend most of your time with a two-year-old that you are often completely clueless about, haven't accomplished a lot of your goals, overdrew your bank account last week, and girl, your face is breaking out like whoa. 

Well doesn't that make me want to run for the hills? 

It may also look something like this: 

Chels, you're fighting anxiety like a freakin' champ. You have such good friends, near and far. You are proud of yourself. You're steadily working on your goals every day. You live in the sunshine state, you have pool days often. Your days are filled with the sweetest, tiny human, good books, work that pays for a wonderful home, and lots of laughter. 

Okay, now that I can get on board with. 

Both of those are true. Both of those are facts. But one sure looks better than the other, doesn't it? 

It's all about perspective, friends. 

Want to fall in love with your life? Check your perspective. 

For me, the last two years have been full of the very best moments and the very most gut-wrenching things. When I look back at the terrible stuff, there is not one single thing in the whole bunch I could've changed. Every one of them was out of my control.

My perspective is always in my control. Yours is always in your control. 

So try it. It's free. It takes very little effort. And it could be life-changing. What do you have to lose? 

I know you're overwhelmed. I know you're tired. I know things aren't panning out the way you had hoped. And sure, you can focus on that. You can replay your bad luck on a loop in your mind. You can fill your days with looking at all the ways life has been unfair to you. All the ways you're not good enough. The places you've really dropped the ball. 


You can look at the greatness around you. You can replay that wonderful weekend with friends on a loop, because wow, aren't you lucky to have them? You can focus on how amazing you are, how strong you are, how hard you're trying. How it's pretty amazing that you've made it this far. How lovely it is to live in a world with good books and chocolate and sunshine and your favorite song. 

Both are true. Both are facts. 

But one sure sounds a lot better than the other, doesn't it?

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