Anything Can Happen, and Being Prepared is a Good Thing

Happy Thursday, loves!

 

A digital detox is sometimes what the doctor ordered, and the Raiford family has spent ample time with our fair share of doctors in the past two or three months! Since our son’s unprovoked grand mal seizure on Valentine’s weekend, it’s been necessary. We are already so busy with our kids and their schedules, our travel schedules, date nights, volunteer schedules, my business, our home, our marriage, and so much more that I needed the detox. I took a break from the blog. I turned down all the campaigns that came my way during this time, and we just focused on living our best life, which is just so easy to do when you appreciate how much good fortune and how much abundance our lives are filled with.

 

When I was offered a chance to work with the legal professionals at Trust & Will to create our trust, will, and appoint guardians, I couldn’t pass it up. Life is short, and you never know what can happen. We had no idea when we woke up the morning of our son’s seizure that a day of pool parties and fun with our favorites would turn into a three-day hospital stay and newfound fear that will last a lifetime. We had no idea our lives would change forever that day, and that’s the point of a trust, will, and guardianship. Life happens, and it’s rarely going to happen as planned.

 

We certainly don’t like to think of our mortality, but it’s inevitable. We need to make sure our sweet babies are cared for. We need to know that they will be taken care of, that our homes are taken care of, my business is managed, and that our bank accounts and life insurance policies and investments are cared for. We need to know these things, and our kids need us to be prepared in case of the worst.

 

Thanks to the amazing legal pros at Trust & Will, we have our newly updated will, our estate, and plan signed, sealed, and delivered right to our door. It took no time at all to complete the process. Our questions were quickly answered by legal professionals with valuable experience, and it was the most enjoyable experience (well, as enjoyable as thinking of your own mortality can be, anyway). And because I want you all to take the time to do some adulting (I know, I know…who wants to adult when the weekend is so close?), Trust & Will is offering all of my followers and readers a chance to save a little money (you can leave it to someone you love in your will) creating your own will. Just visit the site, create an account, and use promo code “ADULTING2019” at checkout for $10 off the cost of your will.

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{ Dress by Lilly Pulitzer } {Necklace and Bracelet by Tiffany & Co.} {Bracelet by David Yurman }

The past few months of detoxing from certain aspects of life have been so invigorating. It’s been so much fun to focus on the kids, on our health, on our travel schedules, and we’ve learned so much in this season of fear and uncertainty. It makes me feel so grateful to know that seasons like this are short-lived, and that they are few and far between. I’m also so grateful for the lessons I learn in trials, how much my faith grows, how much my marriage grows, and how much our kids grow. It’s not always pleasant, but looking back it’s obvious that we sometimes need to slow down, shut down, and learn a few life lessons. And we did.

Our Kids Really Are Best Friends

Carter’s seizure was hard on all of us. Combined with every little thing going wrong at home in the midst of all his appointments and our hectic travel schedule this year, we were prepared to have meltdowns. We were prepared to see the kids unravel. But what happened was the exact opposite. We saw them become closer than ever. They give more hugs. They extend more “I love you’s” to one another. They spend more time together. They watch out for one another. At no point since his seizure has Carter been alone anywhere. They want to be with him. They want to watch out for him, and they realized just how important they are to one another. They bicker less. They get along more. It’s been amazing for us to see them grow so much closer.

 

Everyone has an opinion, and it’s best to nod, smile, and move on

Trust me. Every single person has an opinion. Some of them are valid and welcome. Some are hurtful and unkind. Some are snarky and clearly come from a place of discontent and unhappiness. Don’t worry about it. Say thanks, smile, move on. It’s simple. Anyone who wants to tell you that what terrifies you and changes your life is not that big of a deal is dealing with their own life issues. Lacking sympathy and compassion for people is an ugly trait, but you don’t need to be ugly in return. Simply extend your sincerest wishes to them and feel thankful that they’ve never held their lifeless child in their arms and wondered if they would die. Their ignorance is bliss, and they are so fortunate to have that.

 

I need my husband, and he needs me

 

This is certainly not something we’ve questioned or doubted in the past, but it’s something we are so much more aware of at this point. One thing my husband said to me when we first got engaged was that we would never be the people who sat on separate couches when we watch television or relax at night; we’d sit together. He did not want the same kind of marriage his parents had – they ultimately divorced the year before we wed – after his dad was gone most of his childhood for work, and he did not want to miss out on our future children’s childhoods (he was so sure he’d talk me into having kids…but he probably didn’t think four was our number!). That’s one of the values I love most, but I love it even more knowing that we don’t go through hard things alone. We are right there for one another, and we have one another to hold onto. It’s everything to me.

 

I have to let go

 

I have learned so much lately, and this is such a good thing. If it’s not serving you, let it go. If something isn’t bring you joy or happiness, let it go. Don’t dwell on things. Let them go. Those who live in the past are so unhappy, and they are living such small lives. I can’t sit here and think “What if we’d done XYZ, would it have stopped this from happening?” Or “Why our sweet boy?” Or the many other things that aren’t helpful that are in the past, out of our control, etc. Let it go and let God. If you don’t learn to let it go, you’re going never going to live your best life…which leads me to the following.

 

It’s okay to live your best life

 

I’m a big fan of living my best life, but I found myself saying I wasn’t living my best life following our son’s seizure. I just wasn’t. That’s not who I am. Life wasn’t perfect for me, and I was suddenly not living my best life. Something terrible happened, and suddenly my best life was not easy to see even though I was still living it. When your son is totally fine and his tests are perfect and the doctors tell you he’s a perfectly healthy little love, what about that is not my best life? What about having a healthy son is not best life stuff?

 

My best life is my reality, and I love that about it. My best life is being with my family. My best life is date night. My best life occurs when one of my busy little ones wants to sit down and cuddle with me for even one minute. My best life is lived drinking coffee in my favorite room of my house while my husband sits next to me drinking his and the kids are way too loud. My best life is lived in a five-star resort with a beautiful view and people we love. My best life is lived on Wednesday nights when we get to enjoy our long-standing tradition with our besties. My best life is spending weekends surrounded by the people we love the most laughing and having fun with one another and our kids. My best life is lived being present with my kids. My best life is what makes me happy. It’s not an indication of perfect. It’s my definition of my best life – and I never know where my best life takes me.

 

It’s okay for me to live my best life even when things aren’t perfect. The truth is that no one has a perfect life. My husband irritates me sometimes. He breathes loud when he sleeps sometimes, and it drives me nuts. I have excessive road rage. I am just not a people person. I’m impatient. I’m expensive. I worry, and I have fears, and I have nightmares, and things scare me. I take my 6-year-old nephew to school and pick him up most days, and he drives me beyond crazy because he’s never in a hurry and he’s always in his own world, and I’m annoyed with him more often than no. But that’s me living my best life because I am so fortunate I can do that for my aunt so that her son can go to the school she’s chosen and she can teach at the school where she’s been for decades. Everything that’s imperfect has a good side, and that’s my best life.

 

Life is only as good as you make it, which is why I like to make mine a good one. So, go, create your will. Make a plan. Fix your life. Get rid of things that don’t serve you. Wear big dark glasses and get botox so people can’t see your thoughts on your face. Pray for those who seem sad and lost in their own lives. If you can’t do that, send a prayer of thanks you’re not those people. Focus on the good. Be present. Take a break and spend time doing what you love. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the things that happen to you and around you. Learn. Apply. Move on. Be a good person, always.

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34 Life Lessons to Live By For My 34th Birthday

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s true – but it’s really inside your personality. If you’re ugly on the inside, it won’t take people long to determine you’re ugly on the outside. Basically, you control your beauty and it starts from the inside (remember – sarcastic people who love to laugh and genuinely kind people are the best…and we could all strive to be a little most of all of the above) but that doesn’t mean you get to forget about the outside. I mean, you can be Mother Theresa’s personality twin but girl, if you’re not taking care of the outside, you’re going to look more like the kid from the Exorcist. Just saying.

Beauty tips and lifestyle tips are really a dime a dozen. The internet is filled with them (and the internet doesn’t lie, y’all) but it’s really the simplest, most basic habits that really help you put your best face forward both literally and figuratively.

As I age, I’m learning that basics are my best friend. I’m turning 34 on Saturday – Happy Birthday to ME! – and I thought I’d share 34 of my favorite beauty and life tips. Use one, use 34, use 7, ignore them all – it’s your face, ladies – but hopefully one of these tips that have changed my life more than once over the past 34 years can do the same for you.

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Basic Health Makes You Gorgeous

  1. It keeps you young, helps you sleep better, and gives you energy. Now you don’t have dark circles, your stressful attitude is gone, and your smile is more sincere. Instant gorgeous.
  2. Drink the water. Drink all the water. I might have a small three cup of coffee obsession in the mornings, but it’s water, water, water, water, all the time. I keep my Yeti filled all day long so I always have cold water – your skin cannot thank you enough for all the water you should give it.
  3. Seriously. Get some sleep. I have four kids, a husband I like to spend a little personal time with each night, a house to maintain, an active social life, and a business to run – and you better believe nothing stops me from sleeping 8 hours every night (also, you’re all welcome. I’m a monster with less than 8). There’s nothing so pressing in your life you can’t get a solid 8 hours (unless you’re new parents).
  4. Eat well – and often. I loooooove good food. I don’t tell people to diet. I don’t. I love donuts and ice cream and other things that aren’t so good for me. And I never say no. But I also never go overboard. I love those things, but I’d much rather have a bowl of yogurt and blueberries or some roasted broccoli. I’ve found healthy food can be made into something magical, and your body will crave it.
  5. If you’re not laughing to a point you feel it’s probably inappropriate each day, you’re not doing life right. Sorry. Laugh more. Forget everything else.
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Care for Your Skin Every Day 

  1. Don’t forget to moisturize. It’s the best thing you can do for your skin, and not just your face, ladies.
  2. Wear sunscreen. All. The. Time.
  3. Wash your face. I don’t care what you wash it with, just wash it at the end of the day.
  4. Keep your hands off your face – they’re really gross.
  5. Keep your phone off your face – it’s even nastier than your hands (at least those are washed!).

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Change Your Attitude and Watch Your Glow

  1. Choose to be happy. Sure, some days suck. It’s true, but focusing on the all the negatives gets you nowhere. Focus on the good in life, and be thankful for your problems. My grandmother always said that if I threw all my problems into a pile with everyone else’s, I’d want mine back FAST.
  2. Be nice. Seriously, it’s not that hard.
  3. When you decide to be a giver, you decide to be a happier version of you. Just remember that giving is only pretty when it’s private. Once you post it on social media, you take away from the giving and become a taker.
  4. Don’t compare yourself. Girl, you are amazing and you don’t have to try and be like or better than or whatever than anyone else. Everyone has a different life, different wants, different tastes, and differently dreams. Live yours, love yours, and be happy for everyone else doing the same. It’s very, very simple.
  5. Be you. It’s much easier. And it’s much better than trying to be someone else.

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Know Yourself and Be Yourself

  1. Know what looks good on you, and stick with it. For example, high necklines and sleeveless tops and off-the-shoulder tops are not flattering on me. I don’t wear them. They’re amazing on others, and I really love them, but I know they’re not spectacular on my broad shoulders – so I avoid them.
  2. Know your colors. It might sound silly, but it’s not. You might have yellow or blue undertones. Figure out it, and pick colors that flatter you. Want to know why I wear so much Lilly? Because bright, very bold colors look good on me. Muted colors do not. That once made me sad, but I’m growing to appreciate it.
  3. Don’t wear it if you’re not comfortable in it. Darling, if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t look confident. If you don’t look confident, you don’t look good. I don’t care if you’re wearing a $7,500 Versace gown or a $7 H&M dress. If you’re not comfortable, it doesn’t flatter.
  4. Wear the heels. They make your legs look amazing. I’ve never met a woman in heels who doesn’t look like a bombshell.
  5. Don’t worry about anyone else. If you like it, rock it. Who cares what anyone else thinks?

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Pick Good People and Be Good People

  1. All right, so sometimes you can’t really choose the people in your life (I mean, you can’t pick your family, right?!) but you don’t have to spend too much time with great auntie Sue and her secondhand smoke, so that’s a plus. The people you do get to pick, pick them well. They should complement you (both literally and figuratively).
  2. Get rid of toxic people or minimize your time with them. We all have them in our lives, and sometimes you just have to minimize your time with them. If they don’t fill your tank or make you feel good, you don’t need ‘em.
  3. Be a good person. Treat your people well. Be good to them. Make an effort. Remember they are on your side and you are on theirs. Check in, find time, make time, and have fun.
  4. Be kind. If you’re not a kind person, you’re not anyone’s kind of person.

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Be Deliberate With Your Time

  1. Say no. It’s okay to say no to people and things that don’t add value to your life, that you’re simply not in the mood for, or that you simply don’t have time for.
  2. Forget busy. It’s overrated. We’re all busy, but I never really realize how much “busy” we have in our lives until we had the twins and became the parents of four. Our busy now is much different. The kind of busy we have with four kids is not like the kind of busy we had before. A lot of our ‘busy’ is not by choice. Before, it was. Get rid of it and take back your life.
  3. Go on dates. With yourself, with your friends, with your spouse. I went on my first date with my husband 16 years ago, and I enjoy our date nights more now than I did then – and that never fails to amaze me! I love that time alone. I feel so energized and refreshed when it’s just the two of us having a good time. Probably because he makes me laugh. I like to laugh. Also, he’s cute. And I like kissing him. But that’s not any of your business.
  4. Keep it simple. I won’t lie – I’m a very fancy girl at heart, and I want the high heels and the fancy date nights and the champagne. But it’s the simplest things that make the most of our time. It’s cookie baking with the kids. It’s Gator football parties with our people. It’s our weekly Wednesday night dinner date with some of our favorite friends in the world that we’ve been having for – wait for this – almost 10 years. From one baby and a weekly dinner at our favorite restaurant on Wednesday nights to 7 sweet (mostly) babies and Wednesday dinner at alternate houses every week. It’s a really simple thing, but it never fails to make my heart happy.
  5. Make time to rest. The best thing we ever did for ourselves was take our Sundays and turn them into our own personal Sunday Funday. We don’t make many plans on Sundays unless it’s something really important. We church. We eat. We sleep in. We shop. We play outside. We basically say no to everyone but our kids – and Mondays are so much easier because of it.

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And a Few Others

  1. Do what makes your heart happy. Trust me when I say it makes all the difference in the world.
  2. Spend some money on your shoes and handbags. Who cares about anything else?
  3. Wear lipstick. It’s pretty.
  4. It’s prettier.
  5. Love your kids. They are the coolest people you’ll ever know. Love them hard – but don’t forget to be a parent first, to strive to be the worst parent ever from time to time (it means you’re doing it right), and don’t forget to be realistic. They’re not perfect. They’re actually probably pretty annoying sometimes, but they’re also funny, sweet, and they love hard. So try to ignore the annoying, embarrass them as often as possible, and have all the dance parties in the family room. They’re the best things.