Learning What Self-Care Actually Is…

Learning What Self-Care Actually Is…

Have you seen it? That post circulating through social media that tells women this truth: Self-care isn’t about manicures, pedicures, or shopping. What are your initial thoughts? Heck no. That’s how I relax! or… I see the truth in that?

Well, I was somewhere in the middle for awhile…until I found a true example of self-care that extended beyond a blissful hour of peace that a pedicure provides. I started reading again.

Nerd alert…I get it. But as an English teacher, I am so focused on reading for my job that I don’t read for my pleasure or betterment. I made it a goal of mine this year (as I have outlined in my #bestlifeby35 blog posts earlier this year…I have been trying to better myself in a myriad of ways as I prepare to turn 35 in July…EEEEEKKK) to read two books a month. And to some of you, that’s laughable because you read two books in like a week. But two books a month is doable in my current season.

I have focused on the personal development genre for most of my reading this year. At the end of 2017, I felt an overwhelming sense of my rhythms being off. The best way to describe it? I was constantly trying to walk in someone else’s cadence, and the more I tried to catch up and get into step, the more off kilter I became. And that (of course) is being very general, but let’s just say that a great number of aspects in my life needed reconfiguring. So therein lies the choice of reading books in the personal development genre.

So why is reading self-care? I have choice. I can pick to read any book I choose, any book that speaks to me. And let me tell you…teachers don’t always get choice in reading on the job, so it’s actually quite freeing! #englishteacherlife


Late to the party on this one…but a good book, coffee, and peace is my new love language!

Reading is mine, my rhythm, my speed, my timing. The book is something that is always there for the taking when I am ready (and sometimes there may be a few days in between reads) that will better me when I pick it up.

Reading books written by authentic writers also grounds me in a sense of normalcy, that the feelings I’m feeling and the struggles I just can’t quite seem to overcome are not mine alone.

Lastly, I LOVE WORDS. I LOVE CONSTRUCTIONS AND COMPOSITIONS AND STYLE AND AUTHENTICITY. OK, yes, a little heavy on the caps there, but I crave the written word. I don’t always have the time to blog (though I would love to carve out more time to do so…something I’m working on), but it’s fairly simple to pick up a book and start reading while my kids are actually playing together and getting along or when my family falls asleep before I do.

So here are the books I have read thus far this year, along with a quick synopsis of my actual takeaway…not a summary per se but a “when I think of this book, this is what resonated” type of commentary.

January Reads: 



Stronger than the Struggle by Havilah Cunnington — very real and practical description of how the enemy works in our lives; Havilah also outlines the necessity of spiritual warfare. It sounds really “gloom and doom,” but Havilah is so amazing and refreshing that it totally doesn’t read that way. It’s actually very empowering. Growing up in a traditional church, we never really talked about the enemy, so this book was a great way for me to learn more about this difficult topic.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis — definitely a favorite of mine. We women believe so many lies about ourselves. Rachel confronts hers head-on at the start of each chapter and explains how that particular lie no longer has power over her. And I would venture to say most of you have believed almost all of the lies she outlines. This book (in my opinion) caters so well to the young-younger mom group.

February Reads:


Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – probably the most artistically driven in terms of the writing, Shauna explains how it took slowing down for her to find her peace. At times, the artistry of her writing (if I’m being honest) did not quite click or connect with me, but nevertheless, I appreciate her beautifully written message of centering and reprioritizing.

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown – How has someone I’ve never even met taught me so much? Brene Brown is my teacher, and she doesn’t even know it. One thing I learned from this book is how to stand confidently in my values, morals, and basically how I’m wired and how I was created. She gave me courage to boldly stand alone when no one around me is doing life quite like me. A quick example I would like to touch upon further in a later blog post: I feel strong professional pull toward teaching and styling. I have often lamented that I wish God would point me in a direction toward one over the other. But what if the two pulls are part of how I was created? What if what I need is more courage instead of more clarity and a definitive answer?


Grace, Not Perfection by Emily Ley

As a working mom, I find so much value in Emily’s authentic and inspirational tone. She outlines how she has learned how damaging and soul sucking perfectionism actually is, and she strives for a life of grace instead of perfection (as the title suggests…ha). Now I want a Simplified planner….

March Reads (well, currently reading):

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley

*Emily’s newest book offers practical tips for simplifying all aspects of life. One tip I especially loved is her tip on makeup (have a five- to ten-minute routine perfected for those crazy mornings) and hair, that she only fixes her hair a few times a week and has a few updos that she rotates through every week…GIRL, YES. I’ve been doing that for years, and I am a much happier person when I don’t put pressure on myself to fix my hair (for me, that’s straightening my lion’s mane) on the daily. Obviously, there are tips for simplifying other aspects of family life that are also very helpful and practical.

I would recommend all of these reads if you are looking to break the chains of perfectionism in your life. Even if you’re not a perfectionist per se, you may have perfectionist tendencies or feel a compelling need to reflect a semblance of perfection on social media. I know I for sure fall into that trap from time to time. But there is so much freedom in imperfection. I will keep updating you as my reading list grows! I would love to know your recommendations, too! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re reading!

One final thought…self care should recharge us, make us better equipped to fill the roles we have been called to fill. Is your self-care routine actually doing that?

The Dangers in Worshipping the Lack

When you hear or read the word worship, an experience or an image comes to mind. You’re singing in a church, you’re listening to praise music in your car on your drive to work, you’re fulfilling your God-directed calling with a happy heart, or you’re thanking God in prayer.

Can a person worship God and something else? God would say no: “No other gods, only me” (Exodus 20:3, MSG version). Most of us think we are in God’s good graces if we attend church on Sundays, pray for others, check off every box on our Christian to-do list. But is it possible to follow Jesus and worship something else?

Because I have. God revealed to me very clearly late last year that I worship my lack and have been doing so my entire life.

Here’s a quick run-down of what this worship has looked and sounded like:

Age 17: Why did you miss 2 points on this assignment? Why did you only score 15 points tonight?

Age 22: Why are you only earning this much of an income working this hard?

Age 27: Why can’t you get pregnant? What’s wrong with you?

Age 29: This house is way too small and is starting to get embarrassing. Better move to a wealthier neighborhood.

Age 34: You only made this much selling LuLaRoe this month? Maybe it’s time you give it up.

These are just a few of the lies I told myself. The irony in this post, though, is that I actually “bettered” myself and “fixed” all of those problems by striving, striving, striving. I kept telling myself that once this goal had been met, once I was no longer “without” in that specific area of life, that I would appreciate all that I had.

Not true.

It’s a really sad state to find yourself in, to always be wanting more. Oddly enough, though, I feel like our social system teaches us early on to go for more, go for broke, reach for the stars, insert any other goal-setting cliche. What can we teach our children, then, when they don’t achieve this or obtain that? I think that’s just as equally important of a lesson as goal setting is: gratitude and a shift in perspective. It’s certainly not wrong to strive for seemingly unachievable goals, but the crash and burn that results in expectations not being met is really destructive. We must teach (and implement) a quick rebound method (once a basketball player, always using basketball terminology).

I just recently finished Havilah Cunnington’s new book Stronger than the Struggle. (Stop what you’re doing right now and snag this book. A more comprehensive review coming later.) How glaring were her words on page 192: “We can spend our days focusing on our lack [emphasis added], the places that turned up empty. Or we can focus our full attention on celebrating our hard work and all God has done, coming to a place of celebration.”


Once this obsession with my lack became so clear to me, I have started to see everything with a different lens. Instead of focusing on that one wall in our house that is still bare over a year later, I have started to appreciate the little corner I worked so hard on decorating and styling in our foyer. Instead of groaning about having to get up early every single day (wait…I still kinda do that…), I focus on how much I love my job. I truly do. When I’m feeling exasperated with my kids arguing over some snack or toy, I separate them, and it is in that moment where I can choose to look into their eyes and become so joyful that they’re happy and healthy. Well…maybe not happy in the moment, but you get what I mean. I literally cried the other night giving my kids a bath and then again when Daddy found their baby videos. Gosh, I’m so lucky to be their mom. And I’m certainly not perfect (though there were many years of my life where I wished that you would think I was), so this mindset shift isn’t always foolproof. But even if I’m thinking from a space of gratitude and positivity more often than not, I’m a heck of a lot happier than I was in years past.


For too long, comparison has been my standard and my motivator. If comparison is your standard, you’re always going to be lacking. And if you’re always in the lacking mindset, you really and truly are hurting yourself and your relationships with the people who love you. Take it from me, the recovering perfectionist.

Updating Your Accessories Wardrobe for Back to School: My Favorite Jewelry Line

So if you follow me on Instagram, you know I just turned 34! And every year after my birthday, I get into full-on school mode. It’s like my kickstart to preparing for the upcoming school year. I first prepare my wardrobe (clothes, shoes, accessories) so I’m not getting upset that I don’t have anything to wear (#priorities).

I start by purging what I don’t wear anymore. But I have noticed that the pieces in my accessories wardrobe that have true staying power in my closet are Stella and Dot pieces. Now some argue that Stella and Dot pieces are pricey, but when I think about it, those are the pieces I’m still wearing years later. You get what you pay for in this case.

Many of you know I used to be a Stella and Dot stylist, but I decided last year that I wanted to focus solely on LuLaRoe. I still truly believe in the product and wear it all the time!

So in the spirit of accessory wardrobe updating, I thought I’d show you some of tried and true favorites!

My Staples


A quick browsing of my Instagram shows you that this is my go-to staple necklace. I have both gold and silver. I have worn this necklace for literally five years. It is so slimming and flattering and looks great with dresses, tops, anything really! I would totally pay this price for something I knew I’d wear for years! And I have!

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I reach for this gold fringe necklace all the time! It is my go-to gold statement necklace. I love it because it creates a statement but also looks very classy and sophisticated. I also like to layer a colorful necklace on top of it. This pink one is actually also a Stella and Dot piece that is not longer available, but that just shows you I’m still getting a ton of wear out of my older pieces!


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One of my favorite ways to add interest and edge to my look is through bracelet stacks. I absolutely LOVE the various options Stella and Dot has to vary shine, hue, and texture for a one-of-a-kind look in your arm party.

Here are some of my favorite bracelets to layer. These are ones I actually currently own:

Renegade Cluster Bracelet

Arrison Stretch Bracelet

Gilded Path Wrap Bracelet – Hematite

Illuminate Cuff

Addison Cuff


I don’t travel often anymore, but when I would stay in Illinois for the weekend when I was living in Iowa, this was my go-to bag! It unzips for even more room for more shoes or whatever your thing is that you overpack! I am planning on taking this bag to Vegas early next month. The print got me. It’s absolutely beautiful, not to mention well-made. I don’t buy travel bags very often, and I know this one will serve me well for years to come.

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I love this tote so much. The perforated detailing is on point, and I love the subtle touches of gold. This is a perfect size for a mom and would be a great option for work as well, depending on your job! When I go back to work, I will be carrying this one for sure!



I don’t have the need for too many clutches in my wardrobe, but when I need a clutch for date night or a wedding, this one has served me well. And I wear black all day, every day, so it’s the perfect color for me. But you already knew that!

And here are some pieces I’m hoping to add to my wardrobe!

My Wishlist

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Daytripper Bag – Black/Cream Stripe

I love this bag for teaching! Since I’m an English teacher, I will need a bag that zips so my papers aren’t constantly falling out. Most budget-friendly work totes do not hold up for me, and this one has definitely caught my eye!

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Signature Engravable Delicate Necklace – gold

I have wanted this one for at least a year. I am still trying to decide what I want engraved on it, but one idea I had is a meaningful Bible verse. Another idea is my kids’ initials (because they both have the same initials).

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Pave Triangle Path Ear Climber in Hematite

How fun are these? I typically gravitate toward studs, but I love the detail (and of course that they’re black…)

So many more things have caught my eye, and I am carefully making my wishlist! Will keep you updated!

Order Your Own

I have an online trunk show open right now if one or a few of these pieces have caught your eye. I would very much appreciate you shopping with me if you’ve found my tips helpful! Shop my link HERE. It will be open until August 3!

Tell me what you think! What Stella and Dot pieces are you loving right now?



Why Living (and Dressing) Intentionally Works for Me

In this season of life I’m currently in, I find myself having to weed unnecessary tasks out of my day. I simply don’t have time to do it all, and I don’t know about you…but my daily to-do list gets about 20 percent done on a good day. The unfortunate part of reaching this epiphany is that since I’m not working this summer, I think about my limitations and those things I’ve weeded out all day, every day…

I’m a thinker, and I really excel at overanalyzing. Not cool most of the time. When I’m teaching, this aspect of my personality serves me well, as I am able to reflect on what went right that day and how to fix what wasn’t super successful. But when my mind can’t use my overanalyzing tendencies to focus on something productive, this aspect of my personality isn’t as desirable. I have spent many of my summer days struggling with that simple fact: I can’t do it all. I think back to the days after I graduated high school (more often than I’d like to admit, actually), at a time when I had little to no experience adulting, when I thought that I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, at any given point in time because I was finally FREE. That is like SOOOOO funny, right? I had this idyllic view of life, and not to sound all Debbie Downer, but life just isn’t really that way. Like at all. But I am learning as I go not to be bitter about that reality but rather thankful and grateful for the people and experiences that make my life what it is.

Now I think I’m at the point where I want to start discovering what I need and what I want to make time for. And oddly enough, I have the same views on my closet. My summer days used to be spent shopping for every little jacket, accessory, pair of shoes, etc., I saw on Instagram and “needed.” Then my closet was full of pieces that I would never wear and that worked for others in terms of their personal style but not really mine. Now don’t get me wrong…I still love to shop, but I find myself being more intentional about it, I guess.

One of my requirements for clothes, as many of you who follow my blog know, is that if a top cannot be worn for multiple occasions, I probably don’t need it. One such top that is the ultimate multi-tasker for me is the LuLaRoe Perfect Tee.

Date night: I love styling a printed Perfect Tee with neutral and classic accessories (pendant necklace, skinny jeans, peep toe booties) for a nice blend of trendy and timeless.


Top: LuLaRoe Perfect Tee (size XS), Pendant Necklace: Francesca’s (a few months old), Jeans: American Eagle jeggings, Shoes: Groopdealz (Qupid brand)



And here is another date night look appropriate for early spring or fall. I just simply added a leather jacket and lace-up flats for the same effect that’s seasonally appropriate.

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School: I am a high school English teacher, and I love the same Perfect Tee for a day of teaching. I have paired the same Perfect Tees I wear out on a casual date night to school in a very similar way. I have also worn one over a Julia dress to work and loved the combo.

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Sizing and Fit: The Perfect Tee is fitted in the arms and features a scoopneck, which is flattering to many body types. It is fitted in the chest area and floats away from the body in an A-line shape. It also features slits on each side so the top floats effortlessly away from the hip area, a place where many women carry a good amount of their weight.

Perfect Tees run 1-2 sizes large. I am typically a small in LuLaRoe pieces that run true to size (Sarah cardigan, Julia dress, Randy tee, etc.), but in Perfect Tees, I typically wear an XS, which fits sizes 4-10.

If you need a Perfect Tee, I would love to be not only your favorite blogger but also your LuLaRoe Retailer (wink wink). Please join my Facebook VIP Shopping Group, where I talk about styling your LuLaRoe and hold weekly sales.

Thanks for reading, friends! Chat again soon!

Summertime for a Teacher

My summer has officially started as of today, and while there is an overwhelming feeling of YAY-ness, there is also some work that has to be done behind the scenes so the next three months run smoothly.

Today I’m writing the post I wanted to read about five years back when I was spending my first summer at home as a mother. You may or may not agree with everything I have to offer here, but I can tell you with certainty that what is written here is rooted in life experience, good and bad.

A lot of you know this about me already, but I quit teaching for one year to stay at home with my two kids. It was the 2014-2015 school year. Jackson was almost three, and Johanna was a few months old. I was tired of the hustle and bustle. I wanted a day or two (or 365) to look my babies in the face and really get to know them, learn their quirks, be there for them in this important developmental stage. Also, I was really burned out on the teaching profession at the time. Oh, did I mention that I was five and a half hours away from ANYONE I knew when I decided to make this drastic life change?

SUPER long story short, I quickly realized staying at home was not for me. I was very unhappy being in isolation, and although there was some good to come out of that short stint (I got Jackson potty trained in like two days – like a boss… or Johanna is now a Mommy’s girl – WOO HOO), I knew for the betterment of so many aspects of my life, I needed to go back to work. So I did, and I can say, though it doesn’t always run smoothly, we four are all happier now that Mommy went back to work.

Please, if you hear nothing else from this post, do not judge a mom because she finds fulfillment working outside of the home, just as you shouldn’t judge a mom for finding fulfillment for being at home. We are all wired differently and created to do different work. That brings me to summertime…

Part of what I love about choosing teaching for my career is that the crazy life stops for about three months. I get to soak up time with my family and be more present. However, each summer I have been home with my kids has looked a little different. I have been the over-the-top-annoying “follow a schedule on the hour, every hour” Mom, the “ehhh, let’s just hang” Mom, and everything in between. As a teacher, though, I have realized that because I thrive under some sort of routine, we need it in our summer lives, too. But part of what makes summer so flippin’ great is that the routine can be thrown out on any given day. It really is about finding your balance, and I am including some tips today that will help you navigate your summer so it’s enjoyable for you, too, not just for your kids.

1. Try to put yourself together every day.

At the risk of sounding like I’m writing for a women’s magazine published in the 1950s, I am totally serious, actually. When I was staying home, I would crave going places because that meant I could actually fix myself up (make-up, hair, a decently put-together outfit). It made me feel like me. Now I know “fix yourself up” holds a different meaning for each of you reading this post, but find whatever makes you feel like yourself and do that. For me, it was putting on make-up, fixing my hair, and wearing a styled outfit.

2. Experiment with your fashion and beauty looks.

You know how you are always running late for work, and though you really want to try that one thing you saw on Pinterest with your hair, you’re afraid of it looking like trash? Try it in the summer! Experiment with make-up. Experiment with fashion. Honestly, if you’re a teacher, it’s really freeing to know you can experiment and know you’re not going to be standing in front of children/teenagers all day. That’s how your style grows, when you extend yourself out beyond what makes you feel comfortable to really know inside what is uniquely your look. Make a list of styles or looks you have wanted to try, and make it a goal to try them all at least once this summer.

3. Find a hobby (or two), and spend some time investing in what makes your soul happy. 

Yes, the summer is about your kids and soaking up that quality time, but it’s also time for you to refresh your soul, which is probably needing some TLC after the stresses of the end of the school year. For me, I enjoy style and fashion (obviously…), so I will work more on my LuLaRoe business and blogging! I also love to run, and I will be training for a half-marathon in August. Don’t just THINK about these hobbies; put them on your calendar! I use Google Calendar myself (just started, and it’s awesome), and I treat these hobbies very seriously. My workload got so heavy in May that I barely had time to run, but I really want my summer to be as much about me recharging my own battery as it is about spending time with my kiddos. I know it takes a lot of charging for me to operate at full capacity, and I don’t feel guilty about making some time for myself.

4. Try to have a plan (even if it’s tentative) for the day.

We cannot deny our teacher DNA: we love a plan. Right?! For many summers, I wondered why I felt so down, so sad, so bleh…it was because I wasn’t respecting how God made me! God made me to thrive in some type of routine and to get excited about conquering a to-do list. And that doesn’t automatically turn off in the summer!

I try to wake up at least 30 minutes before everyone in my house so I can sketch out our daily plan and enjoy a cup of coffee while doing it. I used to laugh at moms who did this (yeah, right…who would do that willingly?), but now I seriously don’t function as well when I don’t have “brain dump” time. I take out a cute notebook that is just for me and write down what I need to do that day, that week, whatever the case may be. I write down goals and tasks and get great joy and satisfaction from crossing them off the list. Yeah, I’m also strange, so there’s that…

5. Hire child care. 

I felt like utter and total trash speaking it out loud when I was staying at home. But I was saying it over and over in my head. I need a break!!!!! I absolutely adore my children, but I am not going to act like I don’t need reinforcements.

Hire a baby-sitter. Ask family. Whatever works best for you. A break from Mommy is a wonderful thing for your kiddos as well. Then you are all excited to see each other when you return! I will be taking my kids two days a week to daycare so we can keep our spots, and we also (THANKFULLY!!!!) have family close by. But find someone you trust to care for your babies so you can do whatever…grocery shop, shoe shop, whatever.

Here’s how I followed my own tips today:

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I LOVE the leggings and tennis shoes combo, but for obvious reasons, it’s not work appropriate. I am going to experiment with my casual spring/summer look, and today I wore a LuLaRoe Randy top (size small) with the coveted black one size leggings. CLICK HERE to snag your own Randy top and leggings in my VIP Shopping Group!

I tied a chambray button down around my waist to highlight my waist and to give me the desired coverage while wearing said leggings. Chambray is such a good neutral that pairs so well with other neutrals. I am OBSESSED with THESE ADIDAS SNEAKERS from DSW. They will be perfect for Casual Friday going into the school year as well.

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I absolutely LOVE the half topknot, but I feel like it only works for casual wear, if you ask me. I would feel kinda weird wearing this style to work, but to each her own! I spent some time getting it right this morning, and thankfully, I ended up with something decent! About two months ago, I had the balayage treatment done to my hair, and I am loving how funky the dark roots look in this style.

I also tried false eyelashes today. You obviously can’t tell in the picture, but I bought some e.l.f ones from Target (3 sets and glue for $5) yesterday and put them on today. I AM IN LOVE AND MAY NEVER NOT WEAR LASHES. Ha ha. I have considered getting eyelash extensions, but when I figured out how long it takes and the cost, I’m going to pass for now…

And if you’re following me on Instagram, you have heard about my daughter Johanna and her budding fashionista personality. Today she chose a zip-up sweatshirt with a maxi skirt and hi-top Converse, which actually kinda worked. Here is a little behind-the-scenes look into my glamorous photo shoots. My five-year-old son is behind the camera…

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Have a great week! Chat with you soon!