Organized Chaos: Tips for Staying Motivated When You’re Just Not Feeling It

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Motivation isn’t easy to keep, y’all. This is a tough week, too. Thanksgiving is two days away, we all have things to do, people to see, activities to enjoy –  kids home from school. But then there are people like me who take on a new client and a new contract at the beginning of holiday week, and only then remember there are only so many hours in the day this time of year.

But it’s all good. I’m nothing if not motivated. To be honest, I’m not always motivated. But I’ve come to learn a few tricks that help me find my motivation when it’s just not here. As the week progresses and we all get a little bit more frantic trying to find time to do it all (and it’s totally okay if we can’t always do it all, ladies), I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways to stay motivated and get shit things done.

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Get Organized

Organized Chaos is my middle name. I have four kids, a business to run, and I work out of my home office (that I’ve been sharing with my husband since he began working from home a year and-a-half ago). The only way to make it work is to be organized. If things in my life aren’t organized, I can’t concentrate. If you’re feeling the pressure, organize not only your physical space but also your thoughts. It’s amazing how much motivation you find when you’re organized.

Create a Schedule (And Stick To It)

The best way to find the motivation you need everyday is to have a schedule. Create one that works for you. For me, it’s working early. I’m highly motivated in the morning, but not so much as the day progresses. I wake up at 5 am and I’m sitting at my desk no later than 6. I get in two solid hours of work before I have to get up and take my kids to school, and that helps motivate me for the rest of the day. Create a schedule that works for you, and you’ll feel how well it motivates you.

Create a To-Do List

I need a tangible reminder of all I have to do in a given day, so I write it down. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated, I add to the list. Well, that sounds counterproductive, you say. No, no; I add little things I’ve already done to the list so I can cross them off. Believe me, when I add things like “Pee, brush teeth, shower, drive kids to school, drink coffee, eat, drink water, breathe,” and cross them off, it tricks my mind into thinking I’ve been a lot more productive – and it motivates me to get more things crossed off. Tricky, right?

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Work Out

If you want motivation, push yourself. What’s that saying? Great things never came from comfort zones? It’s true. I find myself motivated after a quick trip to the gym, a yoga class, or even a walk around my neighborhood. My blood is pumping, my mind is running, and I’m motivated. Work out. It helps you – in more ways than one.

Take A Break

I’m not always motivated, and sometimes I just need a break. When I start to feel restless or like I’m taking too much time to do any one thing, I walk away. I get up, take a walk, read for a bit, take a cup of coffee onto the deck, take a quick shower to relax, or I just do stuff around the house. Sometimes your body just needs a break from what you’re doing. It’ll tell you. Just listen to it.

Set Some Goals

What do I do, precisely? I get that a lot. People don’t really understand (or care to understand since it’s not a “traditional” career, perhaps) what I do for a living. To sum it up; I write. To break it down, I write for other people for hire. Clients contact me if they want a blog post written for their blog. I work with companies across the country writing their landing pages, their service pages, their company blog posts, their website content.

For example, do you have a dentist? Go to their website and look up their services pages. It’ll tell you what kind of work they do, what it means, how it works, what you should do, etc. That’s the kind of stuff I write for law offices, dental offices, medical facilities, insurance companies, landscape design companies, you name it, I write it.

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So I set goals each day. I have deadlines every day of the week, and I break them down to make them manageable. I create a list of what needs to be done, how many words I need to write each day (typically 10,000 to 15,000 words each day) and I break them down into chunks. These are smaller goals. I have a small goal I like to meet before taking the kids to school. Another before yoga class, another before lunch. And I like to finish before I pick the kids up from school – because I’m not usually home from dance, gymnastics, and all that fun stuff until it’s time for dinner, baths, and bed; and then I’m wiped out.

Organized chaos is a thing. It’s my thing; and it’s how I stay motivated during the day to get things done. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize it’s much easier to stay motivated when you implement a few simple rules into your own life. Trust me when I say working from home is not for everyone; you must be a naturally highly-motivated person who wants to succeed and has no problem working hard to make that happen – but it’s all right to have days when your motivation is less than stellar. You can fix it.

{Photos Credit: Her Creative Studio}

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Thank You: Giving Thanks to the Men Who Helped Our Daughter When Our Worst Fear Came True

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It’s Thanksgiving week, and that means it’s going to be a week filled with very grateful, thankful people – and there is nothing wrong with that. I do wish more people would focus more regularly on being thankful for all they don’t have rather than being upset by all they don’t; but that’s not really my problem. Today, my plan was to share a post about holiday hosting. Tips, tricks, and a few of my favorites.

Instead, I’m pushing it back to later in the week, and I’m going to share some thanks. Not your typical thanks. But I’m going to give thanks to two men whom I’ve never met before, whose names I don’t know. Two men who protected my baby. Two men who kept her safe, calm, and helped her when she needed help more than ever.

This weekend was like any other. We decided it was the perfect weekend to spend in Orlando hanging out at Disney with the kids. We’ve got four – kids, that is. And we’ve been annual passholders for about 8 years, since our oldest child was almost 1. We don’t live far from the parks, it’s easy for us to spend a couple of hours on a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon, or even a weekend having fun.

The kids are familiar with the park. They know their way around like the back of their hands. They know where everything is, how fast passes work, where to go for the best this or that, and the best places to go when it’s raining, when it’s hot, when it’s cold, or to see the parades or shows. They’ve only been a couple million times, that’s all.

But this weekend was not like any other weekend. This weekend was our worst nightmare come true. We had all four kids (Addison is 9, Ava is 6, and Carter and Charlotte are 3) Saturday at the park. It was meant to be a weekend of fun in the sun, relaxation, and some great meals at a few of our favorite places. We slept in on Saturday morning, relaxed over some delicious Starbucks, and ended up at Disney before noon.

We had fast passes, we did our favorite rides, we bought new toys and new hats, and we stopped for massive ice cream cones, bowls, cookies, and dishes at the Ice Cream Shoppe on Mainstreet for a break. Just before we were leaving Magic Kingdom to go to dinner, Addison decided she finally knew which toy she wanted, so I took her into the shop on Main Street and the restroom while Craig took the twins in the double stroller and Ava to the Christmas tree to wait for us.

We weren’t separated 3 minutes when my watch began vibrating on my wrist and I saw it was Craig calling. He wouldn’t call me from the same street at Disney 3 minute after we separated and 3 minutes before we’d be back together unless it was urgent – a text is so much easier.

I knew. I knew the second I saw his name something was wrong, and I couldn’t find my phone in my bag fast enough. I answered, and the fear, panic, and terror in his voice made my heart stop.

“I can’t find Ava. She’s gone,” is all he said.

I grabbed Addison by the arm and ran out of the store without a word – I didn’t even know if she had anything in her hands or if I had all our belongings or what. I just needed to get out of the store. We ran down Mainstreet looking for her. Black leggings. Back and grey Minnie mouse shirt. Black and silver Michael Kors flip flops. Bright pink Hello Kitty fedora.

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Nothing. No sign of her. Mainstreet was packed. I had Addison by the arm, and we were running. I was pushing people, breaking up their groups, crying. Terrified. I spotted Craig by the tree running around with the double stroller calling Ava’s name.

He’d told her they were going to stop by the tree to wait for mommy when the twins started bickering, and he bent down to talk to them. Ava – we later learned – was so distracted by the tree that she said “Okay,” to Craig without hearing anything he said and she kept watching. Craig, taking her “Okay” for confirmation she knew the plan, didn’t even notice she kept walking when he was breaking up the fight between the babies.

She was gone. We were both hysterical.

We separated as he stayed by the tree to look in case she came back and I went to find a cast member. Find a cast member. Find a Disney cast member and tell them she’s missing. Describe her. Give her name. They have a system, they have protocol. They know what to do. They know how to handle this. Find a cast member.

As I’m running frantically trying to find a cast member, which is usually the easiest thing you can do at Disney, I realize that it was some sort of big club weekend in which thousands of people were all dressed in Disney ensembles similar to the dancers, the cast members, and other Disney employees. It was near impossible to find someone who actually worked there rather than someone who merely looked like a cast member.

That’s when I ran into a store to get a cast member from behind a counter. And that’s when my phone rang. My darling husband Craig Raiford on the screen. I answered. “I have her,” is all he said, and I took off running.

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By the tree, I saw my husband in his orange and blue Florida Gator polo shirt on the ground with Ava in his arms. They were both crying. I have never hugged a child that hard in my life. She said she was so scared. Based on how scared I was, I can’t even imagine how scared she was.

According to Ava, our sweet six-year-old, she just kept looking at the tree on Mainstreet and didn’t know daddy stopped. By the time she realized he wasn’t with her anymore, she said there were so many people and she’s so small she couldn’t see anything, so she stopped a man and told him she was lost.

We’ve always told our kids – a million and one times – what to do if they are ever separated from us. Find an employee of wherever we are, find a person with a lot of kids who seem happy. Find a police officer, or a medic, or a fireman, or a security guard. Tell them you’re lost, and tell them what we look like, where we were, and our names.

And she did. She found a man in a Florida State Seminoles shirt – she recognized the logo from the games we watched – and she asked him for help. And then he told us the rest. He told us that Ava was so impressive and brave. She was crying, but she told him she couldn’t find her daddy, and then she told him that he’s wearing an orange and blue Gator shirt, and that he had her twin babies with him in their red stroller. And then he took her to find the nearest cast member for help.

We are so proud of our girl. Six-years-old, and aside from some tears, she was calm, stoic, and handled herself like a champ. She handled herself so well, in fact, two grown men were impressed and couldn’t resist telling us we should be proud of her.

The grace of God was with us on Saturday, because another man saw the entire thing unfold when Ava stopped FSU to ask for help. He, wearing a Bama shirt, decided to follow to find a cast member. He didn’t say it out loud, but my take is that he followed because a little girl was lost from her family and asked a strange man for help and he wanted to be sure that strange man would, in fact, help her. That’s when FSU spotted a cast member, explained the story, and left Ava with the cast member to go to Guest Services. It’s also the moment he decided to look around and spotted a man with an orange and blue Gator polo and twins in a red stroller looking a little worse for the wear. He approached Craig and asked him if he was missing his little girl and when Craig said he was, he pointed to the cast member and to Ava.

And that’s when FSU told Craig he had one smart, brave little girl. She told him exactly was Craig was wearing, what color the stroller was, what the babies were wearing; everything. And that’s when Bama came up and told Craig he witnessed the entire thing, and Ava did everything right. She did it all right.

She did everything right. And because of that, we had her back in under 7 minutes. It was the longest 7 minutes of our lives, and I cannot even begin to describe the kind of fear we felt in that moment. Terror doesn’t even begin to cover it.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare come to life.

But our girl remembered all the conversations we had with her about handling a situation just like this. Conversations I was certain she never listened to. Conversations I had to pry a response out of her following. Conversations she seemed to be more interested in her coloring, the scenery, the floor, the sky, being anywhere else but talking to us. She heard every word.

And that’s why I want to take a moment to tell you to talk to your kids. Talk to them about how to handle situations you never think you might experience. We are darn good parents. Our eyes are on our kids – and we would have put money on the fact we’d never lose a child in public. But we did. We did.

And I want to take another moment to thank the two men who helped our Ava. The two men who proved there are good people in the world even when the media wants us to believe otherwise. Two men in college football shirts who weren’t at home watching the game but at Disney with their families making memories and probably wishing there was a TV or two anywhere in the Magic Kingdom.

Thank you. I don’t know your names. I don’t know who you are. I never even saw your faces. You spoke to my husband while I was running around looking for our daughter, and you kept her safe. You are good people, and I am forever thankful to you both. Thank you for being at Disney. Thank you for helping our girl. Thank you for seeing a little girl with tears in her eyes and doing whatever it took to help her find her family.

Thank you. And thank God for putting those two men where they were that day so that our girl would be all right. Thank you. And talk to your kids. And by the witness who follows in a situation like this to be sure that help is really what’s being offered.

And Happy Thanksgiving week. Hug a little tighter this week. It’s good for your soul.

The Tunic You Must Have in Every Color

Listen, I can’t stop myself. When I find something I love, I must have them all. Why do y’all think I have four kids?

Maybe it’s a sickness. Maybe it’s genius. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s all of us. I don’t know. What I know is that when I find a piece of clothing I love-love (and even non-clothing items), I buy it in every color.

There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. 

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{I didn’t have my Instahusband/photog snap a photo of me when I wore my black tunic with faux leather leggings and OTK books to a PTA fundraiser our #dreamteam hosted at our kids’ elementary school – but I did get this cute photo of me and my mama and our artwork, and that counts-ish}

In reality, I do have four kids. By the time I’m done making three of them look adorable – I pick my battles with Ava, therefore, she rocks what we ‘lovingly’ refer to as homeless-chic – I don’t even want to think. So if you see me looking like I wore the same outfit in a different color every day of the week, it’s because I did.

I’ve got no shame in my game. 

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Which leads me to this gorgeous Lush tunic. Nordstrom has it on sale (continuously) for $27.90. They also have it in rotating colors depending on the season – and I’m not afraid to tell you I have it in all the colors.

It washes well. It doesn’t wrinkle. The fit is perfect (I wear an XS, though my black one is a small and the fit is really just a little different in the chest – nothing a bralette can’t fix). The colors flawless. And the versatility in which it can be worn is amazing.

I think I love it because it’s easy. Throw it on with faux leather leggings, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, tuck it into some high-waist wide-leg pangs or a skirt, and you’re instantly chic. If you don’t have it, get it. Put it on your Christmas list. I promise it’s a stellar buy.

And for your viewing pleasure…imagine my surprise when I realized I had quite the photobomber in a recent OOTD photo on my front porch. Are you ready for this? Can you figure out which photo he’s in above? Also…OMG.

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IG Roundup: What I’ve Been Wearing Lately

Hello! It has been several weeks since I last posted OTB, and I apologize for taking such a long break…but it was much needed! I touched on it a bit on a recent #ootd post on IG, but we’ve been out of town four of the past five weekends. To sum it all up, we had two weekends in a row in Tampa, my birthday weekend was spent in New York City, and we’ve been home from a whirlwind four-day visit to Southern California for a little more than a week now.

To say we are tired is an understatement! California is a three-hour time difference for us, it was daylight savings time weekend, and we had a red-eye flight home Monday. 41 hours awake by the time we went to bed the day we got home, and then four nights out of the house following that was just too much for our poor aging souls to handle. Add four kids (and my business and Craig’s job) to the mix and we were the actual walking dead all last week.

We knew it would happen – you only live once, right? We preplanned a weekend at home this past weekend. We turned down several invitations to go out, but we made the right decision. The kids were tired, they missed us last weekend, and we all needed a break. We literally didn’t leave our house all weekend – and it was AMAZING.

We always try to keep our Sundays free of making plans so we have at least one day to rest, to prep for the week, and to do what we want to do versus what we’re obligated to do, but I’m thinking a full weekend of nothing every few weeks could become a part of our lives. I’m refreshed.

Anyway, I thought I might share a few things I’ve been wearing lately as a way of easing myself back into the blog. My business is busy this time of year. My clients want more work, different work, and they want everything yesterday during the holidays, so I’m writing more than ever (which is a lot on a slow day) and every free moment has been devoted to my web content creation. *whew*

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{Adelyn Rae Navy Kimono Jumpsuit (I wore size small, but it ran a bit large) | Manolo Blahnik heels (old) similar here | Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM | Ray-Ban Aviators | SugarFix by BaubleBar Earrings from Target}

I fell a little bit in love with this look when we were in the OC. I wore it to #StyleConOC, and the compliments I received were amazing! I also wore it to lunch on the Harbour at the A&O Kitchen at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach. Total win.

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{Sweater old similar here | Jeans 7 for All Mankind | Manolos old similar here | Ray-Ban Aviators | Scarf (gift from my amazing mother-in-law) similar here }

Anytime it gets a little cold here, I’m all about finding something winter-y to wear, and this sweater is everything. It’s my favorite kind of basic with a little excitement in the unexpected hemline. Fun fact: I wore this sweater all day without a clue it had a giant hole in the seam along my right side.

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{sweater is sold out similar here and here | Jeans Rag & Bone | OTK boots | YSL sunglasses old similar here }

I bought this sweater for NYC, and I’m in love! And so is everyone else, apparently, but it’s sold out at Nordstrom. Paired with OTK boots and skinny jeans, it’s simple, casual, and easy.

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{Shirt sold out similiar here | Rag & Bone jeans sold out similar here | Tory Burch Boots | YSL Sunglasses old similar here }

Would you even believe me if I told you that I wore this outfit to go coralling pigs? True story. It was for farm day at my twin’s school…and those pink balloon pigs stood no chance against me and my farm-wear. This top is amazing with it’s tunic-length in the back, but it’s sold out. I’m sorry!

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{ Top | Jeans | Shoes old similar here | Sunglasses }

Are you sensing a little bit of a trend here? I like casual looks that are easy and simple, and I like to throw on my favorite heels when it’s time for fall and they feel oh-so-appropriate (even though my husband feels it’s ridiculous I ignore all my other shoes for one pair because they “look like the holidays” but hey…he picked my crazy self to marry, so who’s crazy now?). Honestly, I have four kids and a business to run…and getting dressed needs to be effortless. There’s not on ounce of shame in my game.

Here’s to finally feeling refreshed after having too much fun…this week, anyway. Because the rest of the year is jam-packed with fun adventures!