What I’ve Learned About My Skin in My 30s

skincare 3

I’m a creature of habit. I like schedules, routines, and I don’t like change – unless the change is my idea, and it’s executed with exceptional planning and my own control. Control freak, anyone? I just like things my way, all the time, without anyone or anything changing my plans. Is that too much to ask?

Change happens in my life all the time. I never rarely handle it well, but I always see how God’s plan works out in my favor in the end. Everything in my life has always worked out in a beautiful way that I never imagined possible, and that’s why I have such a love/hate relationship with change. I hate it until I love it.

I promise there is a point to this.

My skin.

I didn’t have great skin as a teenager, but that was a sheer lack of knowledge. I didn’t know how to properly wash my face, that I shouldn’t sleep in my makeup, or that I needed to care for my skin better. Um, Google didn’t exist when I was a teen. When I entered my 20s, I began buying better makeup, getting regular facials, eating well, and taking better care of myself as a whole. But, I never changed my skincare routine. I began using Clean & Clear (morning burst) in the shower at night and in the mornings, and my skin was so clear, so pretty, and I loved it. I never thought to change.

I was afraid using too many products (yet I use about 27351849194 makeup products) would damage my skin. So, it was Clean & Clear (and oh-so totally under control) for the past 15-ish years. Not that I’m complaining about it – it was an amazing product for me, and I loved it and my great skin.

But then I turned 33.

skincare

Thirty-three.

It’s been 9 months since my 33rd birthday…and you guys, I swear my entire life has changed. Cruising through life with good genes and a fast metabolism suddenly became a challenge. You guys, I actually had to start working out to maintain my weight. Drinking all day on vacation and waking up to feel super good the next morning following some water and a few ibuprofen became a thing of the past – if I drink all day on vacation, I feel like certain death for days.

And guys, my skin changed. My pores turned into the Grand Canyon. I began breaking out when my monthly visitor was only a few days away, and my skin began to dry out.

33 and I swear I’m falling apart.

Thankfully, I eat well and always enjoyed exercise so no life changes were necessary when my metabolism changed at 33. I just work a little harder, but I feel a lot better. I just toned down my drinking – a lot – and I’m happier as a whole. All the negative changes have turned into serious positives. I have more energy, I sleep better, and I’m happier. That’s all translated into more productivity when I work, which has brought me even greater success. No complaints here.

But my skin. What a different story. The same routine and skincare schedule I’ve had for 15 years suddenly needed an overhaul, and I was scared. I took my time trying new products to help with my newly unwanted skin. I drank more water, wore more sunscreen, and even changed up my makeup with the seasons for the first time in my life.

Skin Changes in Your 30s

It turns out your skin changes with your age – which we know, but we don’t really pay much attention to. For me, it happened at 33. For you, it might happen at 30 or 37 or some other time in your 30s. But it does change; and knowing what to expect helps you change with your skin.

  • Estrogen levels drop dramatically in your 30s, and this means your collagen, elastic, and hyaluronic acid levels fall, and your skin becomes thinner and less beautiful
  • Cells turnover slower
  • Skin doesn’t bounce back as quickly from imperfect days
  • Dryness is more likely to occur in your 30s
  • Acne makes a devastating reappearance in your 30s

 

Finally, I found the perfect skincare routine.

skincare 1

 

Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser followed by the Clinique Pep-Start HydroBlur Moisturizer (and this one when I’m having an outdoor day) to start my day. I use the same cleanser at night, but I follow it with Belif The Truth Cream Aqua Bomb at night. Twice weekly I use the Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask – usually halfway through the week and on Sundays to refresh my skin after a long weekend of fun in the sun. The best thing – aside from how amazing my skin looks – is each of these products is super affordable under $40!

I’ve learned my skin needs the exfoliating cleanser every day, but I also need additional moisturizing cream to keep it from drying out. In the three months since I began this particular skincare routine, my pores are back to their normal size, my skin is tighter and brighter, and it’s far less dry. It’s helped dramatically.

Handling Skin Changes In Your 30s

What’s helped me is not just my skincare routine, but also the other positive changes in my life.

  • Drinking less means sleeping better and better sleep means prettier skin
  • Drinking more water is good
  • Exercise is good
  • Don’t sleep in makeup
  • Wash your face immediately if you work out in your makeup after a long day at work or being out
  • Wear sunscreen Every. Single. Day.
  • Don’t burn
  • Wear a hat
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Care for your skin at night when it’s most likely to rest and regenerate while you sleep

Your skin is going to change, and this means changing with it. It’s been a big adjustment for me, and it’s been one that really caught me off guard. Perhaps it caught me so off-guard because I don’t feel like I’m in my 30s (until about 8 pm…then I feel it). Either way, prepare for the change, expect it, and challenge it.

Do you notice any changes in your skin? What have you done to combat these changes, and at what age did you begin to notice them?

Advertisements

Friday Favorites: 5 Things in My Cart at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale

It’s (one of) my favorite times of the year! No, not summer vacation. Sure, I’m off enjoying a very long weekend in the sun, having fun, not connecting to my inbox or doing anything even remotely related to work for another five days…but I’m not talking about summer.

My kids are out of school. I work from home. Summer is not my most favorite time of the year.

But the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale is most definitely one of my favorite times of the year!

Nordstrom and I have a lovely agreement. They keep offering free shipping (and it’s so fast!) and I’ll keep spending money on their gorgeous products. And since today is another of my favorite days – Friday Favorites – I thought I might share with you a few of my favorite new purchases from the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale.

  1. Lush Cross Front Maxi Dress

I have to share a secret; I’m not a very trendy person. I prefer my style to remain classic and timeless, but when I do fall in love with a trend, it’s Lush I look to. It’s inexpensive, the quality is really good for the price, and they always have fun colors. This dress falls into the “too lazy to choose more than one piece of clothing” category this summer. The cross detail on the front is just an added bonus. You can’t go wrong with a basic maxi – especially in this fun color!

  1. One-Shoulder Top

Again, I’m not one for trendy looks, but I feel good about this one-shoulder top. It’s the off-the-shoulder and cold-shoulder looks that I don’t find flattering on my frame. This shirt, though. The blue and white. The one shoulder. It’s perfect for summer, and I can already see myself wearing it with a pair of white skinny jeans and my favorite wedges on a casual date night with my favorite guy.

  1. Treasure & Bond Wide Sleeve Sweatshirt

Basic black is basically my best friend – that’s a lot of alliteration for the weekend. It’s my jam, but can how it not be? Basic black is always so chic and elegant, and it’s the fun sleeves on this one that do it for me. Basic, but with a twist.

  1. 7 For All Mankind Slim Illusion Luxe Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans in Rich Blue

Two things you should know about me. The first is I do not wear jeans unless they are a dark wash. The second is that 7FAM is my favorite jean-maker, and with the exception of some Rag & Bone and a few Citizens of Humanity jeans, they’re the only brand I’ll buy. These beauties are simple, chic, and perfect. Dress them up, dress them down, but you’ll always look sophisticated in them. Oh – and 7FAM stretches super easily, so always order a size down!

  1. Lush Perfect Roll Tab Sleeve Tunic

You want to size down here. I won’t even lie – I have this shirt in probably 15 colors. Lush changes out the colors with the season and I buy it in every color when a new one is introduced. It’s flattering, it’s fun, and it’s perfect with skinny jeans, wide-leg jeans, leggings, and everything in between. I love it, because I always feel good in it. You’ll want it in every color, too, since it never fades, always looks brand-new, and it always elicits at least a half-dozen compliments!

I hope you all have the most fab weekend imaginable. I know I am – since I’ve already bid adieu to real life and moved on to vacay-mode. Happy Friday, Happy Memorial Day, and Cheers to the Freakin’ Weekend!

Florida’s Paradise Coast Trip Review: Rest, Relaxation, and Waterfront Perfection

pc 2

Rest.

It’s what we all need from time to time. Life is hectic, and it’s not always easy to stop. At home it’s easy to get caught up with all the things on the to-do list, even on days we not only want but need to rest and recharge. My husband and I are guilty of this all the time, especially since we both work from home. We are also the parents of four small kids, and that makes it absolutely impossible a little more difficult for us to recharge.

When Florida’s Paradise Coast reached out to offer me a chance to escape, I couldn’t say no. As a born and raised Florida girl, I summered every year during my childhood in Florida’s Paradise Coast. Memories of white sand beaches, beautiful weather, and a laid-back lifestyle flooded my mind, and I knew my husband and I needed not only a chance to recharge and rest but also a chance to share this overshadowed Florida area with all of you.

pc 17

Naples, the Everglades, and all the gorgeous areas that make up Florida’s Paradise Coast invite you to relax, but many people forget to consider them when making vacation plans. Thoughts of mice with big ears, princesses and their castles, and the incredibly popular beaches in areas such as Miami and the Florida Keys often come to mind first. It’s what makes Naples the perfect destination when you want to relax.

A Touch of the Keys

pc 12

When we first arrived in Naples for our long weekend of fun in the sun and relaxation, we were greeted warmly by the staff at the Lemon Tree Inn. A quaint boutique hotel hidden beautifully out of sight by it gorgeous landscaping, we were provided a lovely gift bag from Paradise Coast – and it even had sweet gifts in it perfect for our little ones after we forgot to stop and pick up gifts for them – welcoming us to the Paradise Coast.

pc 19

We immediately fell in love with this sweet little hotel the moment we were handed a real key. Not a key card, but a real key (no making trips to and from the lobby to have our keys re-keyed a dozen times!). The walk to our room was sweet. A darling little bridge surrounded by lush landscaping, a lovely pool, and guests sitting on the colorful Adirondack chairs outside each room made us feel as if we were back in the Keys.

pc 20

Our room had a private terrace with a screened porch so we could sit out front each morning with our coffee while we people-watched, chatted with our neighbors, and just enjoyed the beautiful lemon trees and wildlife that spent so much time hanging out.

Family-Friendly Naples Zoo

pc 0

The last time we were at a zoo, we had all four of our kids and don’t remember seeing anything but the potential hazards that might mean band-aids, tears, or bickering for the kids. Part of our weekend in Naples included a visit to the Naples Zoo, and it was spectacular.

We strolled hand-in-hand through the zoo’s naturally covered walkways, took in all the cool animals lazing their way through naptime, and we really got to see the zoo. It was perfect – and we even thought about how much fun our kids would have if they’d been with us. The trees and natural walkways kept us perfectly shaded, and it was the most enjoyable afternoon. There was so much to learn – even for us native Floridians – and a darling little gift shop on the way out.

pc 00

We are often so busy with our everyday life we haven’t the time to stroll anywhere, which made our time at the zoo even more enjoyable. We spent a few hours meandering the walkways, speaking to zoo employees about the animals and the gorgeous landscaping – and we learned that all the giraffes here are male – and finally found our way back to where we began. It was a slow, perfect afternoon – and I recommend you do it yourself or with the kids.

Dinner Date

pc 32

Following our sweet afternoon date at the lovely Naples Zoo, we spent some time driving around the city to check out the sites before it was time to get ready for our dinner reservations. We loved the Waterside Shops. All of my favorite shops in one place is hard to ignore, and I decided a quick stop in Lilly Pulitzer for a new dinner ensemble was not an option.

Armed with a Venti Blonde Roast from Starbucks and a new dress for dinner, we headed back to our quaint hotel located only two blocks from the infamous Fifth Avenue South in Naples. We dressed for dinner and arrived at Ocean Prime on Fifth Avenue in time to make our 6:30 reservation. The staff greeted us warmly, took us to a lovely table with a perfect view of Fifth Avenue complements of the floor the ceiling windows – it’s helpful to know Complimentary valet is located behind the restaurant off 6th Avenue – and quickly offered us a wine list.

pc 15

Extensive and perfect, the wine list featured all of our favorites. Each armed with a glass of our favorite red Malbec, we ordered. It was our first time visiting the Ocean Prime in Naples, but certainly not our first time to visit Ocean Prime. We ordered all of our favorites, including the shrimp cocktail, the filet Mignon – 6 oz. for me and 8 oz. for my husband – with the always perfect loaded baked potato and black truffle mac and cheese.

pc 16

My husband loves mac and cheese, and he makes it his mission to find the best mac and cheese anywhere we go. His vote for this mac and cheese beat out others he’s had in Vegas, New York, Hawaii, and LA. It was his favorite moment.

Dessert included the most spectacular carrot cake – perfect for breakfast the next day if you can’t finish it all – and a decadent Berries and Bubbles cocktail. If you’ve never ordered this cocktail, run – don’t walk – to Ocean Prime and order it. You’re welcome.

pc 18

Our dinner date was perfect. The location spectacular, the staff friendly and helpful without being intruding, and the atmosphere superb. We hated to say goodbye, but we didn’t have any kids to go home to – so we wanted to make the most of our evening.

Our date night ended with an Uber ride to the Ritz-Carlton where we spent a few hours sitting in the lobby bar with yet another glass of wine. The view was spectacular, and the company even better. It wasn’t quite 11 when we remembered we’re parent to four little kids, and it was way past our bedtime.

Saturday Funday

pc 6

Let me tell you about our darling room at the Lemon Tree Inn. With our amazing enclosed porch in front of our windows combined with our plantation shutters, we were able to sleep until well past 9 because our room never turned light. We always rise with the morning light on the weekends – always – and never need an alarm. We slept so late with so much perfect darkness that we almost missed our chance to grab breakfast by the pool. Thankfully, my husband had time to run out and grab a few cups of coffee and some pastries for us to enjoy while we dressed.

In desperate need of another cup of coffee, we decided to take a stroll down Fifth Avenue to enjoy the gorgeous morning. We grabbed coffee at The Brick Coffee & Bar and sat down al fresco to people watch and talk about how we might never go home. With our coffee finished, we decided it was time to visit the Naples Botanical Gardens.

pc 7

What an experience. We could begin every morning with a coffee and a walk through the gardens. They are simply breathtaking. We watched a Tai Chi class in the shaded grassy by a lovely lake. We strolled through the gardens taking in the gorgeous smells, the beautiful sights, and discussing how unfair it is we ended up with permanently brown thumbs unable to keep even faux plants alive.

pc 11

We never wanted to leave this gorgeous garden, but lunch reservations had other plans for us. We made the short drive down to Tin City with enough time to explore the adorable indoor shops filled with artisans and homemade gifts before being seated at Riverwalk Restaurant at Tin City. The hostess sat us by the water where we were delighted to see a dolphin playing a game of peek-a-boo with passing boats and paddleboarders.

pc 10

We see dolphins every single time we are on the water in Florida, yet it never gets old. As we watched the dolphin play, we enjoyed ice cold beers and a cool breeze – and the most insane shrimp nachos you’ve ever had. Blackened fish tacos and peel and eat shrimp rounded out lunch, and it was perfect. There’s nothing more enjoyable than a meal on the water except a meal on the water you want to go home and recreate every day.

pc 13

pc 14

pc 000

With the rest of the afternoon to ourselves, we made the decision to explore more of downtown Naples. Fifth Avenue is famous for a spectacular reason, but it’s the side streets and other avenues with so much ambiance. We took a stroll down to the beach to see the pier. We walked through neighborhoods with gorgeous homes and more jasmine than you can imagine, and we realize that nowhere in the world smells as good as Naples.

pc 4

We did a little shopping – because how can you not with so many spectacular little shops to choose from – and sightseeing before stopping at a few darling locations to try a glass of wine…or two.

Dinner With a View

pc 31

We were able to choose our own location for dinner Saturday evening, and we struggled. There were so many amazing options, and we were in firm agreement we could live in Naples and never eat at the same place twice inside of six months. Ultimately, we decided to take the advice of most everyone we spoke to while we were there – Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar. The recommendation came with the same comment over and over again, “You must try the Crispy Mahi-Mahi,” so that’s what we did.

pc 00000

pc 0000

Since it was a few miles away, we Ubered right over to the Village Shops on Venetian Bay where Bayside is located. We were not disappointed when we were seated on the second floor at a romantic table for two up against a half wall made entirely of glass with the bay immediately beneath us. The sun was setting on the other side of the bay, and it was spectacular.

pc 30

And the crispy Mahi? It was everything fresh seafood dreams were made of. Dinner consisted of glasses of Sancerre, gorgeous salads, the crispy Mahi and blackened Mahi with a piccata sauce followed by another glass of wine seated on the plush couches while we listened to live music and enjoyed the company of one another.

Sunday Funday and a Reluctant Goodbye

pc 29

Have I mentioned yet how well we slept on our bed at the Lemon Tree Inn? We never sleep well in hotel beds – they just don’t compare to home – but this was a different story. Sunday morning was another late sleep for us, followed by a minor temper tantrum when my husband told me I have to pack, we have to go home, and we can’t stay in Naples forever (what can I say…Naples really spoke to me!).

We once again meandered out to grab a coffee by the pool, stopping to chat with some of our neighbors as we passed. Many of them have been guests of the Lemon Tree as long as they can remember, coming back every year to get that little taste of old-world Florida Keys in the heart of downtown Naples.

pc 28

We – reluctantly – loaded our car, but we got over it fast. We decided we wanted to spend the morning on the beach one more time, so we stopped for a Venti Blonde Roast at Starbucks and walked to the beach. It was a cool, quiet morning. We walked along the edge of the surf for a while before turning around. The cool white sand was perfect, and the sound of the soft waves crashing as we spent time walking on the nearly empty beach was the perfect start to a Sunday morning.

pc 1

But, nothing compared to the end of our stay. Our final stop was at Riverwalk’s sister restaurant, The Dock. With the most spectacular Bloody Mary Bar you’ve ever seen, we knew we were in for a good time. Of course, I can’t pass up a mimosa with Sunday brunch, so that happened. Our table was right on the water and came equipped with its own perfect morning breeze.

pc 3

pc 26

My husband knew right away he wanted Chicken and Waffles – and he also knew as soon as he took his first bite he’ll never order it anywhere else for fear it just won’t make the cut. It was the perfectly cooked piece of chicken. I ordered the eggs benedict made of crab cake. It’s a perfect twist on a Sunday classic – and it perfectly complemented our seat on the edge of the water.

pc 22

pc 24

The Bloody Mary bar did not disappoint. You get to choose your vodka, make your own drink, and you get to do it your way. Allow me to recommend you use this time to make it as many ways as you can until you find the perfect combination. The staff at The Dock was so much fun, and we had the best time with our waitress. We couldn’t have asked for a better send-off. In fact, we may have meandered a bit more than usual before heading home.

Florida’s Paradise Coast knows how to make you feel right at home in Naples, and it’s so much more than you could ever imagine. Couples, singles, friends, and families alike will enjoy all that Naples has to offer. The simple beauty of such an elegant city makes it the perfect vacation destination. You can’t go wrong, and we’ve already made it our mission to spend a long weekend in Naples to rest, recharge, and live our best lives by the water when we feel life is getting too hectic at home.

Thank you, Florida’s Paradise Coast, for the perfect weekend of rest, relaxation, and the ability to recharge.

Beauty Must-Have: Hard Candy Pro Palette

hc 4

Florida weather is no joke for anyone, but it’s especially brutal on those of us who don’t leave the house without makeup. There’s a fine line between achieving that dewy, fresh look and looking as if my face is melting off. I try for the former, but often feel more like the latter.

The moment I open my garage door, the heat and humidity attack. I can feel my sunglasses begin to slide down my nose and if I’m not in my SUV in under 10 seconds flat, I feel the urge to take another shower. It’s hot, sticky, and not at all sweet. It’s also why I’ve spent the better part of my 33 years searching for the best makeup products imaginable. I have just a *few* requirements when it comes to my makeup.

  • It must be long-lasting
  • It can’t feel as though it’s sliding down my face when I walk to my mailbox
  • It can’t be cakey, gross, or feel heavy
  • It has to make me look exactly like Kate Middleton

That’s not too much to ask, right?

hc 1

Since three out of four isn’t bad, I sometimes let one of my requirements slide when my makeup meets the rest of my minor demands. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which one I tend to let go the most. My husband likes to make jokes about how many Sephora boxes show up on our doorstep every week, and I like to tell him I liked it better when he worked outside the home and didn’t see all the boxes that arrive regularly (all lies…I love that we work from home together, but I could do without his raised eyebrow when my friends UPS man and Mr. Fedex show up to chat and leave me boxes). We call it even since makeup makes me happy, and he gets to be married to a woman who at least looks like she’s got her stuff together (I so absolutely do not).

hc 2

When Hard Candy sent over the Look Pro Palette for me to try after it was newly launched this spring, I was excited to try it out and see how it worked for me and my active lifestyle. I was a little skeptical considering I struggle most with finding eyeshadow that doesn’t fade throughout the day, and I was certain an entire palette for only $10 would never work. After all, most of the palettes I have that cost five times that don’t last all day long as hard as I go.

After trying the look a few times, my feelings changed. I’m a fan. The shadow is so light I barely feel it on my eyes. It goes on easily without caking my brushes with powder for very little result. And the best part – it lasts. I deliberately chose a hardcore day to try it out the first time  – because if it can last through the most dedicated of my days, it can last through anything. After applying my makeup at 6 am, imagine my surprise when it was still amazing at 8 pm after a 90-minute workout, an al fresco lunch date, and all the things I do as a mother of four all day. All those kisses and cuddles from my 3-year-old twins, and my makeup still looked fresh 14 hours later.

hc 3

 

The best part is the Hard Candy Look Pro Palette absolutely lives up to its name. I felt good all day in it, and I love how long it lasted without creasing, caking, or running. And for only $10, you bet I’ll be adding this to my list of stocking-stuffers and gift bags throughout the year. With 15 different colors in one palette, you can mix, match, and take your look from daytime professional to nighttime glam. The palette comes with four pro brushes for easy application, and the hard outer casing makes it easy to pack. So far my palette has been with me on three trips, and it’s ready to go on a fourth to kick off the beginning of summer vacation.

The Hard Candy Look Pro Palette is available exclusively at Walmart as well as Walmart.com and hardcandy.com.

*All opinions expressed are my own

Friday Favorites: 5 Things I Always Have At Home

friday 1

Happy Friday, friends!

I love Fridays. It’s amazing how that’s changed over the years, though. Before kids, we loved Fridays because it usually meant we were boarding a flight to one of our favorite cities for a weekend away, or it meant date night, or it meant we got to sleep in like crazy the following morning.

Fridays changed a big with kids. It became spur-of-the-moment Disney evenings. It became long weekend getaways without so much wine-drinking because it was more hanging with the kids in the pool or a lazy river somewhere. These days, my idea of a dream Friday is the one we have planned tonight.

Not. A. Damn. Thing.

Seriously. I’m tying up my loose ends, finishing my weekly deadlines, picking the kids up, and we are coming home. We are going to play outside. We are not going to rush the kids to bed. We are going to stay up later than usual with them. We will grill dinner on the deck, sit down and watch the kids run rampant, and we are going to be in the moment doing nothing more than enjoying our sweet life.

We don’t get many moments like that because we are so busy all the time, but I’m so far off topic right now I’m sure I’ve lost you. It’s FRIDAY! I love Fridays, and I love alliteration, and I love so many millions of things, so I’m starting a new series to share with you all; my Friday Favorites. Whether it’s recipes, cocktails, trips, tips, advice, tricks, photos, books, or stuff, I’ve got so many favorites – and who am I to withhold the best things ever from you all?

Today’s Friday Favorites is all about my house. Five of my Favorite things we always have in our house. Seriously…you won’t find a day in which we don’t have all of these at all times. You’ll note coffee is not on the list, but it’s a given. It’s like a toilet. You won’t find any of our bathrooms without one, and you’ll never find a lack of coffee.

These five items are things I can’t live without. I use them every day – or at least want them on hand every day in case the desire strikes.

friday 2

Fresh Blooms

You probably see a lot of photos of flowers on my Instagram feed, and it’s because I adore them. I once read that having live plants in the house makes it feel more like home, it makes it more personal, and it increases the quality of the air (I have no actual idea if that’s true or not). Since I don’t like “stuff” I choose to decorate with fresh flowers.

  • They make me happy
  • They’re so pretty
  • They’re so elegant
  • They smell nice

You’ll find fresh flowers on my master bedroom nightstand (not my husbands, though), in the master bath, on the entryway table, on the island in the kitchen, on the formal dining room table, and on the family room fireplace mantel – at all times. I’m obsessed. I know.

friday 4

Wine – Red and White

Every day is a reason to celebrate.

And we have four kids.

So we keep lots of wine. We love red and white, so you’ll always find some Sangiovese, Chianti, Malbec, or a Pinot Gris in our house.

friday 7

Cherry Tomatoes

I might be a little obsessed with cherry tomatoes. We might have had a moment a few months ago in which I had some that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, we parted ways, and they weren’t in my house for a few months. We’ve since rekindled our relationship, so you’ll find about 4 packages of cherry tomatoes in my house at any given time. Why? Because they are delicious on everything.

friday 3

Lemons

Lemons – a kitchen staple. I use them to minimize my pores (with a cotton ball, a little freshly squeezed lemon juice works wonders for my sad pores). We use them to cook. We use them in our sparkling water. I don’t know where my lemon obsession came from, but I love fresh items with which to cook (though I kind of suck at cooking), so it’s just one of those things we always have, we always use, and we get a little freaked out when we don’t have a few on hand.

friday 6

Clinique’s Pore Refining Solutions Charcoal Mask

I cannot live without this. Between this and the occasional use of lemons on my face, my pores have never looked better. And since they’re honestly a lot like crop circles on my face, I cannot even begin to put into words what this miracle mask has done to my pores (I pair it with Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer for flawless results). A lot of the charcoal masks I’ve tried are difficult to remove, not entirely comfortable, and many irritate my skin. Clinique’s charcoal mask is silky smooth, washes right off, and it leaves my skin looking and feeling vibrant.

What can’t you live without at home? Which items make you feel all out-of-sorts and crazy when you run out or low? I’d love to hear!

To-Do List Disaster: Handling Life When the To-Do List is Too Long for Comfort

office-one

I love a checklist of things to do. I crush the art of crossing things out and checking them off. I feel a little like superwoman every time I do it. In all honesty, if I’m feeling unmotivated, behind, or even as if my list is too short on any given day, I’ll start throwing extras on there just so I can check them off and feel a little bit more like a badass.

  • Brush my teeth – CHECK
  • Put on pants – CHECK
  • Kiss my husband good morning – CHECK
  • Drive the kids to school – DONE

I have issues, I know.

My to-list is my favorite thing on my desk. It keeps me organized. It keeps me sane. It allows me to sort out the millions of things going on in my brain that my body cannot seem to keep up with otherwise. I need my check list, my agenda, my calendars, and my schedule. The make me happy. Probably happier than things like this should make me, but there’s no shame in my game, friends.

My favorite part of my day comes at 3 pm when I shut down for the day (most days). I turn off my computer and iPad, I close up shop in my home office, and I take out my agenda, calendar, and to-do list. I create my plan for the following day so when I get started at 5 am, my A-game is strong.

Now that I see this in writing, I know I have issues; and I’m probably a bit of a nerd. Oh, well.

stress 1

Sometimes, though, my to-do list and calendar get a little bit too crazy. May is one of those months. It’s been crazy. Four weekends in a row out of town living in hotels meant three weekends of packing and unpacking and being off-schedule. The last week of school means too many activities to handle, another trip out-of-state and one weekend at home this month has made me feel a little overwhelmed. My client list is longer than ever – and it’s long in general – and my deadlines are tighter than ever.

The other day I sat down on the floor in my master bedroom and cried my eyes out. Not because I’m upset or unhappy, but because I’m overwhelmed. It’s a good overwhelmed. Health, well, and happiness are abundant in my house, so I’m not complaining. But sometimes I do this thing where I overextend myself and a good cry is what I need.

I felt good when I got it all out, washed my face, and reapplied my makeup (that’ll happen when you catch a glimpse of yourself and your makeup after a good cry). Now I’m back on my A-game, crushing things left and right, and feeling as though I don’t celebrate my successes nearly enough (more on that another day, though). It reminded me that sometimes we all get a little overwhelmed, a little out-of-sorts, and sometimes we just need a gentle reminder from someone who knows all too well how that feels how to get back on track.

mornings

Take A Break

You aren’t getting anything done when you’re all aflutter with stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, so take a break. My go-to is either a trip to the gym, a lunch date with the handsome man I married, or a half hour sitting on my back deck in the hot sun pretending to get a tan and reading a book. I cannot tell you how much more relaxed I feel after I spend a little time doing something for me.

Cry It Out

Y’all, crying is a good thing. What’s that Pinterest saying? Something about how crying helps you see things more clearly or something to that effect. Anyway, it’s true. When I am overwhelmed, I sit down on the floor (because it’s more dramatic and Oscar-worthy) and cry it out. When I’m done, I feel much better. Word of advice – bypass the mirror when you’re done.

stress 5

Break Down Your To-Do List

Mine gets crazy sometimes, so I’ll break it down into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish. The more I check off, the more badass I feel. The more badass I feel, the more I get done. The less time I have to do things when I set a goal, the more I actually get done.

Don’t Stop

I like my schedule. I love it, honestly. I love working for me and only me, creating my own schedule, and really just not answering to anyone else. It’s my jam. I always dreamed of being my own boss so I’d never miss a school performance, a holiday, a moment with the kids, or anything else important in their lives or even my own. But sometimes, I have to make myself work a little harder a little longer.

I might like to end my day at 3 pm so I can get my kids from school and spend the rest of the day doing the mom/wife thing, but it’s not always possible. A few days a month, I find myself back in the office when they’re home and in bed handling a few more things. Sometimes a longer day is necessary, and not stopping is what it takes. I have to remind myself that if I make today long and arduous, tomorrow I’ll thank myself for it – because if there is one sacrifice I am not ever willing to make, it’s spending time on the weekends working in my office. Weekends are for my family, and that’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice.

friday3

Laugh it Out

Truth be told, sometimes I don’t get over it when I cry. Sometimes I don’t get it all done. I know my limits, and I know that I have some amazing people in my life. I make sure there’s always a fun friends event or date night on the calendar every week so I know I have an evening of serious laughter and good times ahead. Even when I’m not in the mood, it’s exactly what I always need to inspire me and motivate me to get back to badass.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or like your to-do list is too long? Do you let it get to you, or do you handle it like a boss?

12 Fun Facts About My Marriage on Our 12th Wedding Anniversary

us

May 15, 2005 is the day my husband and I exchanged vows in front of God and 130 of our closest friends and family members. May 15, 2005 was 12 years ago. Twelve. I can’t even believe it’s been that long. In all honesty, I feel as though it was just yesterday. Cliché. I know, but it’s true. I can’t believe we’ve gone from newlyweds to long-time married people with four kids who’ve been together almost half our lives at this point. It’s amazing, but time flies when you’re having fun.

I know I talk a lot about my husband, but there are just so many amazing things to say about him. Everyone who knows Craig will tell you he is the kindest, most selfless, most beautiful person on the inside and the out. He is the kind of person who makes everyone around him just a little better. He’s a gentleman to the core. I am so proud to call him my husband, and I am so proud our little boy gets to grow up with such a lovely example of what a real man looks like. I am just as proud our three girls get to grow up with such a shining example of what to look for and expect in the men they’ll one day marry and begin their own families with.

I could talk about Craig all day. He truly inspires me to be a better person, and he inspires everyone around him to be better. He’s just a gentle soul with a beautiful heart. So kind and thoughtful, always looking out for us first, and he’s always thinking of others long before he ever thinks of himself.

travel 4

Let me share an example with you. Last year, he left the bank he’d been with for more than 15 years to make a major, exciting, and wonderful career move. When he left, several weeks of his vacation was still unused. The bank cashes out unused vacation time and pays the employee the cash value of it, but my husband made a request that they not do that. Rather than taking thousands of dollars in cash, he wanted to know if there was a way he could gift his remaining vacation time to a woman he’d worked with many years. Her husband had been recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and he thought giving her his paid vacation time to use so she could spend more time with her husband was a far more valuable use of that money.

When her husband passed recently, she sent my husband a lovely note thanking him for that thoughtful gift; she said that because of him, she was able to spend the last several weeks of his life by his side without worrying about work or money. What he did was selfless, kind, and beautiful; and it’s just Craig.

All the sweet mushy stuff aside, today is our twelfth wedding anniversary, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share with you all 12 things about our marriage you didn’t know…which I know seems impossible given how much of our life I share on social media.

us 5

  1. We are kind-of high school sweethearts

I say kind-of, because I’m not his! We met on a blind date on November 2, 2001. He was a freshman in college, and I was a senior in high school. We met that night, and we’ve been together ever since. I consider us high school sweethearts, because we were both 18 and he was mine.

  1. We both knew right away

The night I met Craig, I knew I’d marry him. He said the same thing, but that he was terrified I didn’t feel the same…and it’s all my pesky little brother’s fault. This was back in the day of cell phones being relatively new, and my parents weren’t on board with that yet. I was probably the only high school student without one at the time! Craig called me the morning after we met and my brother answered the phone. He’s 3 years younger than me, has a mission in life to make me miserable, and he’s nowhere near as funny as he thinks (love you, jerk-face!). Anyway, he told Craig he’d tell me he called, and he didn’t. So he called again the next day, and my brother told him he told me he called – he did not – and made Craig think I wasn’t interested. Fortunately, when he didn’t call after a few days, I decided to call him and ask him what was up with that. We exchanged stories, I confronted my brother (who thought it was hilarious) and that was that.

  1. We got engaged at 19

Actually, I believe Craig was 20 when he proposed. He asked me to marry him on May 25, 2003. We were on a date weekend in Jacksonville, and we had dinner at the Chart House. I was 19, he was 20, and we’d been together about a year and-a-half. After dinner, we decided to walk along the river when we saw a fountain and thought it would make a great photo background. I handed another couple my camera and asked them to take a photo. They said yes, and I posed. I just remember thinking, “What is Craig doing tying his shoe right now? He can’t wait until we are done with our photo since these people are just standing here waiting to take one?!” It never even occurred to me he was wearing dress shoes that don’t tie, and I didn’t realize what was happening until the woman holding my camera started to scream.

That’s when I realized he was down on one knee with a diamond ring asking me to marry him. I have no idea what he said, but I do have a photo of the exact moment it happened.

us 4

  1. We waited to get married

We decided to wait two years after we got engaged to get married. We wanted to get life in order, which meant school and our first house. We began building our first house in 2004, and we wanted to be able to furnish every room with brand new furniture, and make it our own. We decided to use those two years to do a lot of saving for all those expensive things…and a super honeymoon!

  1. We don’t do time apart

We moved in together six months into our relationship when I graduated high school, and we’ve spent a grand total of 4 nights apart in our almost 16 years. Three of those were in the past year when Craig had a work trip in Phoenix and I had Fashion Week events in NYC (and I took his mom and my aunt with me!). To quote Craig, “At the end of the day, I just want to get into bed with my wife. If you aren’t with me, I don’t want to be there,” which should tell you how we felt about those nights apart.

  1. We are total opposites

I’m an irrational, anxious, perfectionist. Craig is a calm, wise, thoughtful soul. I need him. A lot. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d be in prison for something entirely ridiculous, like road rage or running someone over with my cart for not answering my 739359 excuse me’s in the supermarket when they park in the middle of the aisle and walk away from their cart.

us 3

  1. Craig is a much better parent than I

He has more patience. He’s the primary diaper changer, the get up at night when someone needs something (which is maybe five or six times a year, so don’t feel too sorry for him). He is the boo-boo fixer, the bath giver (I have a thing about grout and bathtubs that freaks me out and makes me gag), and the lunchbox-packer. I’m the reading teacher, the game school clothes picker-outer and their personal chauffeur when it’s time for school in the morning.

  1. We are super competitive

Like, super competitive. We compete with one another about everything from who has the longest golf drive (me) to who can come up with the most facts about our marriage to who can get undressed and into the shower fastest. We compete to see who can throw a baseball faster, who drives better, who is funnier. We’ve been known to race through the house to get to the bathroom faster than the other so we don’t have to use the girls’ bathroom downstairs or the twin’s bathroom upstairs(have I mentioned our 6-year-old is a huge fan of “Shaking it off” when she goes potty, and then sliding across the seat to stand and wipe? Yeah…no one wants to use her bathroom). We are competitive…and we love it.

  1. We are food snobs (and wine snobs)

Big time. Like super snobby snobs. And we are totally okay with that. Unless we are with other people, it’s highly unusual for us to have a dinner bill that’s less than $300. We love good food and good bottles of wine.

vday3

  1. We never go to bed separately

In almost 16 years, we have never once gone to bed at different times. We get into bed at the same time every night. After we fall asleep on the couch for about an hour, and finally drag ourselves to bed – because we are never more comfortable than we are at that moment in time.

  1. We really do have the most fun together

I love hearing other people tell us we look like we are on our honeymoon. That makes me feel so good, and I’m convinced it’s because we spend so much time laughing and talking when we are out. Our conversation flows so nicely, and let’s face it – we are both hilarious. I’m sure we are the only people who think so, but we’re pretty amused by us.

  1. We ignore one another pretty much all day

Seriously. He sits 3 feet away from me in our shared home office, and he has for almost a year now. We spend every minute (save for when we pick the kids up and take them to school or practice) together of every day, every week, every month, but we don’t really speak to one another all day. He’s working. I’m working. Other than a kiss when we walk by or a coffee refill and the once or twice a week we find time to tear away from our desks to have lunch together, we don’t really speak until after 5 pm. We might be workaholics.

We aren’t perfect. We have our moments, but we’ve learned a lot in our 12 years of marriage. We’ve learned that our problems are so first world. We’ve learned that we have it good, and we have no real legit complaints. We’ve learned that the honeymoon feeling doesn’t go away as your relationship gets longer. We’ve learned to grow together. We’ve learned to appreciate one another, to cheer one another on, and to be each other’s biggest supporter and best friend. We’ve learned a lot and we aren’t done yet.

6 Surprising Things I Love About Being A Mom: The Mother’s Day Edition

mom 1

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas!

If you’d told me 9 years ago when I was celebrating my first Mother’s Day as an expectant mommy-to-be that Mother’s Day would become a day that’s so bittersweet, I never would have believed it. I was high on life, on the baby we were expecting, and on everything else. Life was just so good. It is so good. I have no complaints; we have our minor issues, but our problems are the epitome of first world problems, and I’m constantly reminded how spoiled and ungrateful I sound when I complain about them. I try hard not to, but some days get to me.

I never would have believed Mother’s Day was going to be a day I’d celebrate with tears of sadness mixed with tears of joy, but God has other plans for me than the ones I create for myself. My plans are laughable, and they’re nothing in comparison to what my God has in store for me. That’s why when 7 years ago I woke up on Mother’s Day to celebrate my second as a mother, I had tears in my eyes, a puffy face, and a broken heart.

mom 5

You see, the day before was just another day. Until it wasn’t another day. I was almost two months pregnant with our second baby – except that second baby wasn’t meant to be. Our second baby wouldn’t make it another day to Mother’s Day. I miscarried that night. My heart hurt in a way that I can’t put into words. It still hurts each time I think of that beautiful baby I will one day get to meet in Heaven. I didn’t know it then, but I’d experience the same pain a few months later as I quickly became pregnant again and lost our third baby, as well. It all began on Mother’s Day – and it hurt. Two babies we’ll one day meet – but haven’t yet gotten to know.

It’s true we were blessed again about 6 weeks later with yet another pregnancy, and that pregnancy resulted in the birth of our feisty, silly, intelligent, sweet, kind Ava Cathryn. And we ended up pregnant only two years after that with a set of twins. Coincidence after losing two babies? I think not.

Like I said; I have no complaints about life. We learned very quickly that Mother’s Day 7 years ago that our problems aren’t real problems when faced with actual, real life problems. We learned very quickly to appreciate the little things. To be very grateful for the little moments. To embrace the imperfection of ourselves and our kids, and to laugh as many of the parent-problems we have off. We appreciate so much more since then, and we practice (and sometimes fail) to really take pleasure in the smallest things.

mom 8

I didn’t know then that Mother’s Day would be a bittersweet day for me. I always find a moment in which I wonder what life would be like if that baby had been born. I wouldn’t have had a second miscarriage, but I also wouldn’t have Ava Cathryn. And we might not have the twins. I couldn’t see then why something so tragic could happen to us, but God’s plan is often much clearer when it’s been revealed. He had a greater plan for us, and that leads me to my actual point today.

mom 2

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s a lovely day in which we will entertain our extended families, spend time with the kids, and open many cards, smell many flowers, enjoy a lovely church service, and probably have a few too many glasses of Sancerre. It’s a good day.

A really good day. I mean, it could be a great day if it involved Sancerre on a beach or at the spa without the kids or the extended family over, a good book, and room service – but that’s not what made us moms, so a day with the kids it is.

Nine years a mama, four kids, two angel babies, and a lot of love, laughter, and tears later, I’m still shedding a few tears on Mother’s Day, but they’re not all sad tears. It’s a day for me to really just honor the little people who call me mom (entirely too many times, if we’re being honest here) by sharing 6 surprising things I love most about being a mom. I chose 6 because of Addison, Ava, Charlotte, and Carter, and for the two babies we so sadly lost before we ever got to know them.

mom 4

  1. Early Morning Wake-Ups

It’s a 5 am alarm on weekdays for a few hours of work and coffee and vanity before the tiny humans wake up, and it’s 7-8ish on the weekends. It’s not the leisurely 10-11 it once was, but I love waking up early. I love that time. It turns out, I’m a morning person; but I really just love those weekend wake-ups with the kids come running into our room all kinds of excited to see us, jumping into our bed, and cuddling with us for a few moments before we begrudgingly drag ourselves out from the warmth of our duvet to the hard-knock life of breaking up fights and arguing over whose pancake is bigger.

mom 14

  1. The Mess

Anyoen who knows me is dying right now. I hate messes. I don’t allow them, I make sure they’re cleaned up in about a half a second. But…the mess I’m cleaning up after the kids means I have a full, happy home of little people who enjoy life. That’s something pretty spectacular.

mom 9

  1. The Noise

I don’t even know what quiet sounds like, and I don’t really want to. Our house is L.O.U.D. at all times. It’s six people all trying to be heard, and it’s a lot of screaming, laughing, and fun. That noise might bother some people, but I really love it. I love it because that noise means family. It means love, and it means happiness. I love that.

mom 12

  1. Big Grocery Bills

I remember the day we’d spend all of $50 at the supermarket in a week before we had kids. Okay, so half that was wine and the other half was maybe a package of chicken and some veggies – because we never ate at home. Now we spend $500+ every week at Publix (at least) and I don’t hate it. It means my house is full, our bellies are full, and we will never have a lonely dinner table, breakfast nook, or meal. It means I’ll always have a house filled with people I love an awful lot on holidays, Sunday evenings, and random nights even when they’re all grown up and on their own.

mom 11

  1. Sticky Kisses

When a messy, snotty, sticky baby puts his or her hands on your cheeks and turns your face directly to theirs and plants a loud, mushy kiss right on my lips – it is every single thing ever in life. You learn as a mom not to complain about kisses you might consider nasty and gag-worthy from anyone else. Those kisses might be the best thing that ever happened in life.

mom 7

  1. No Free Hands With Which to Do Anything

I never have a free hand. Handbags, diaper bags, kids hands, or even the twins in both arms is my go-to, and I love it. I love that I can’t answer my phone when it rings while the kids are with me. I love that I can barely get the keys out of my bag to unlock the car when they’re with me. I will always have my husband’s hand to hold when the kids are grown and gone off on their own, but I’ll always have a free hand. Right now, my full hands (and my fuller heart) mean I have four little people who love me so much, all the time, forever, and they want nothing more than to be close to me.

I’m a mommy, and it’s kind of the most awesome thing ever. I love the love I see between my kids and their siblings, my kids and my husband, and my kids and everyone else in their lives. They love hard and when I see how much and how hard they love, it makes me smile. Because their ability to love that hard and that much comes from us. They can give that kind of love because that’s the kind of love we give to them. And that makes me feel like a total badass.

Vacation Recovery: Looking and Feeling Good After Too Much Indulgence

health 2

We have too much fun, and sometimes I make poor decisions when we’re having fun. Relax, friends; my decisions aren’t that poor. I’m talking about purchasing shots for a group of 12 knowing how I feel after a shot, or ordering a quesadilla for lunch alongside a couple of bloody Mary’s and a bucket of beer. Those types of poor decisions. I know y’all won’t just because you’ve made the same poor decision a time or two.

I’m typically a healthy eater. I like good food, because it makes me feel good. Don’t get me wrong; you hand me cookie dough, and you will never see it again. My sweet tooth isn’t insane, but I do crave something sweet every so often. I never worry about indulging when I do, because I don’t do it often enough to matter in the overall scheme of things.

But sometimes life hands us situations in which I fail to stop myself from indulging a bit too much. While a weekend away usually does nothing to me in terms of bloat or weight gain that a day of good health can’t cure, three weekends away in a row has a different effect. It’s every meal at a restaurant, and I don’t do fast food. While that might sound healthy, it’s probably not. I will eat a hotel room service burger all day long if I can, or bacon, and I always order dessert. And the drinks. Bottles of wine. Mimosas. Bloody Mary’s. Mich Ultra by the pool on a hot day just hits the spot.

health 1

Three weekends now we’ve been traveling, and having the best time; but I’m not feeling or looking so good this week. I over-indulged too much, and it’s hitting me hard this week more so than the few before. It happens. Am I guilty of not being very good the past few weekends? Yes. Am I feeling guilty? No. Why? Because all I need is two or three days of good health to get me back on track looking and feeling good again.

I know many people who swear by juice cleanses, or detox drinks, or whatever. I don’t know what they’re like, because I’m just not doing them. I’m a big fan of just being healthy overall and not caving into those fad diets, so I’ve never tried them. I have no desire, but I don’t care if you do. If you’re like me, you might want to figure out a way to get good and healthy again in a few days – even if you still look good. Sometimes it’s just a matter of no longer feeling very good – and I know that feeling.

health 5

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

True story. When we leave for a weekend away, I take my Yeti cup filled with ice water in the car with me. I mean, I take it like that everywhere I go all the time, but I leave it in the car with valet and never look at it again when we travel. I ‘get my water on’ on the way to a hotel or airport, and then I forget to drink water again the rest of the trip (unless I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I might die if I don’t get some water, stat).

It’s bad, bad bad. I know this. I do. But when I get home, the first thing I do is wash the Yeti, fill it up, and drink like I just left the desert after four waterless days. And I drink so much water. When I’m not longer thirsty, I keep drinking. By day two, I feel hydrated again. You can see an improvement in my skin, my body, and I feel much better.

health 3

Bye Bye Booze

I love a glass of white wine while cooking or a glass of red after the kids go to bed, but not when we get home from a trip. I usually drank my fill of alcohol on a trip – beginning with mimosas at breakfast – and I no longer want any wine. It might take me a week or two to pour a glass of wine when we come home. I know I overdid it, and my body is done with it. If you still want booze when you get home, I’d recommend you not drink it. I know it’s hard when you want a glass of wine at the end of the day because of the crazies you call your kids, and all that life has to offer, but just skip it. Your body needs to heal, and alcohol isn’t helping. I feel so refreshed after a full day of not drinking anything but water and coffee, and it’s amazing how fast the alcohol bloat disappears.

health 4

Double Up on the Sides

Confession: We rarely do a starch side in our house. I don’t know why, especially since I grew up with a very meat and potatoes kind of family. We always had a meat, a starch, a vegetable, and a dinner roll. In our house, we always have meat and two vegetables. That’s it. And we like to keep our meat light. We love steak, but we limit ourselves to picking something like Filet Friday or Monday or whatever so we don’t eat too much red meat. It’s chicken and fish up in the Raiford household – and none of that prepacked, frozen stuff.

When we get home, I cannot function without vegetables. I want more than ever, because I probably didn’t get much over the weekend. I’ve found that veggie-heavy meals for the first few days make me feel better, look better, and want to eat better once again. My body knows what it needs, and I listen to it.

health 6

You don’t have to do what I do, and it might not even work for you. I just know that I don’t need to come home from a trip and go crazy on a cleanse. I just need two or three days of healthy eating to get back to normal. In fact, I usually feel much better than any other day when I’m two days into heavy water and veggie consumption. I’m more rested, I’m less cranky, and I like what I see in the mirror.

What do you do when you over-indulge? I’m not a fan of deprivation, but I also know it’s easy to overdo it when you’re not home. What’s your secret to getting back to normal following a trip?

How Does Social Media Make You Feel?

  • First 5
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Online shopping

2

I mean, I shower first, pour my coffee second, and then start with my First 5. That’s a morning tradition I cannot live without. I like my me time in the mornings to get myself situated. I like to get up at 5. I like mornings. I’m a morning person – as much as anyone can be a morning person. I’m most productive in the morning, and I prefer the uninterrupted time to do my hair, makeup, and my quiet coffee date with my husband. It’s also when I peruse the world of social media.

So. Many. Thoughts.

It’s usually too early for me to do so much thinking when I go over what’s up on social media, but I have so many thoughts each day. I love to see certain things, other things make me sad, and some things make me shake my head. And not in the I’m just saying I shake my head kind of manner; I actually shake my head.

3

I love to see people post photos of their success. I love vacation photos. I love photos of people’s kids – as long as they’re not naked – and I love to see photos of couples who are out on dates, enjoying one another, and just being all kinds of happy.

I enjoy seeing other people, especially the people I actually know in real life, doing well. It makes me smile, because the world is a big place and we should all get to have our own little slice of success and happiness.

I don’t love when I see people announce they’ve lost someone close to them, or illness has made its way into their lives. I don’t like to see when someone is having a bad day and can’t seem to shake it. But what really gets to me is the competition and the hate. It’s rampant, and it’s sad. It’s a constant reminder that so many people struggle to find their happiness, and I wish I could change that for people.

4

I can’t. But, I can help remind the powerful, amazing, beautiful, intelligent women (and men) I know that social media isn’t everything it is in your mind. Not that you won’t see me on it every single day. You will. It’s how I market my business, brand my blog, and it’s how I work. But there are a few things every savvy social media user should keep in mind when using social media to keep them from falling into the trap of constant comparison and self-doubt.

Social Media is a Highlight Reel

And there is nothing wrong with this! It’s not easy to realize this; I recognize this. But think of it this way: Most of us aren’t posting about the argument we just had with our mothers or the horrible things a coworker said at lunch about us. We aren’t sharing photos of a failed tampon in the middle of a shopping trip (thank God), or the massive pimple that made itself at home overnight.

It’s a highlight reel. It’s the best of the best. We all try so hard in real life to present our best self. We put our best foot forward in the office each day so we build and maintain a good reputation at work, or at the school where our kids are students, or the office in which our spouse works. We always try to put our best self out there, and social media is no different. Just because someone posts frequent travel photos or happy comments or upbeat statuses doesn’t make their life any better their yours. It simply means they’re showing the best of them at the moment. It’s in no way a validation of their happiness and your misery.

5

It’s just that some of us prefer to put the good out there. Some people – myself included – have been through horrible things in life that make them focus heavily on the good. My husband and I suffered two pregnancy losses 7 years ago that changed our perspective on life forever. It doesn’t mean things don’t bother us, but we’ve really learned to see how minor life’s irritations are, and they seem so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

Many of us like to focus on the good in life, because magnifying what’s good is how you make life even better. Don’t fall into the trap of allowing other’s happiness to make you feel insecure or as though you’re not good enough. We’re all at different stages in our lives, and we should all enjoy where we are.

6

Social Media is a Marketing Tool

If you look at my Instagram feed (tiffanyraiford15) you’ll see a colorful variety of travel photos, BTS photos in my office, and fun family photos of our good times. Do I really spend my time photographing my agenda and my flowers because I want to? No; I do it because I need to create stellar images to promote my brand and grow my blog. It’s a marketing tool. Try to remember that the next time you scroll past someone’s photos and wonder why their life is so picture-perfect, or why they never have an ugly photo.

It’s also helpful to remember that it takes a lot of work, time, and effort to create those flawless photos just so we can hopefully get one or two of the thousands who see it to come to our blog and sign up to follow. It’s a lot of work, but it’s certainly not a way to tell you your life isn’t good enough.

Social Media Can Teach You About Yourself

When you scroll through social media, what do you notice most about your thoughts? When I scroll through, I admire the amazing photos other women take – and I notice that while I love everyone’s unique and individual style, I am just not a trendy person. I’m a classic kind of girl when it comes to style. I appreciate what others can pull off, but it’s just not me. I’ve also learned that I love to see success in the lives of others. I’m drawn to follow women who are successful and established, and who work hard.

I find that they mirror myself, and I enjoy surrounding myself with people I admire and look up to. In the interest of being entirely transparent, I’ve also noticed that I find certain things a large turn-off as I scroll through social media. I’m not a fan of people who constantly complain about their lives, and I find myself very turned-off by those who post hateful memes and quotes.

It’s your little corner of the web, so you do you – but I’ve learned that social media teaches you a lot about yourself if you pay attention to what you post and what you respond to. I love a good inspirational quote, a funny story, or a hilarious meme. I don’t like to see women bashing others, posting vague things desecrating others, and behaving without class. What you learn about yourself on social media is that you’re either happy with your life, or you’re unhappy. Use what you learn about you to improve you.

7

Social Media is Dangerous

To refer to the above; if you find yourself posting all the negative things or feeling insecure or insignificant or competitive with others, it’s time to reevaluate your own life. If social media makes you feel anything but good, you’re either following the wrong people or you need to check your own status. Is there a chance you’re simply not happy with your own life, and it’s time to make a change?

Social media is a powerful tool when it’s used correctly. You can take the time to see for yourself how it makes you feel, and work on that. Don’t waste your time being envious or bothered; figure out what you need to change about you to help improve your own life. I promise it makes social media a more enjoyable experience.

Social media is dangerous if you let it get to you. It’s not always easy to realize what’s in your own mind when you peruse social media and listen to your thoughts. If you’re the kind of person who scrolls through and thinks that everyone and everything is fake – perhaps that speaks more of how you feel when you post, and it’s time to make some life changes so you don’t have to feel that way about your own life anymore. Perhaps seeing happy couples makes you miserable because you’re in an unhappy relationship or just feeling lonely. Perhaps seeing happy kids makes you feel angry because your kids are going through the terrible 2s. Perhaps feeling that others are undeserving of their success is a sign you’re not living up to your own potential success. It’s time to fix what’s bringing you down.

We’re all going through things – but most people choose not to bring out the bad in their life. There’s nothing wrong with that; but you must remember that just because someone else chooses to focus on the positive aspects of their life doesn’t mean your life is any less than theirs.

1

Social media can help you or hinder you, but you can learn from it based on how you feel when you go through it each day. If you’re feeling anything less than happy for the success of others or uninspired by those you admire the most, it’s just time to make some changes. I’ve been there, and I can promise you that seeing social media through a positive lens is a life-changing experience that can only help you grow into a more amazing version of you. Get it, girl!