Not to be Desperate, but…

I’m a terrible sales person. I generally do not agree to host “parties” (you know what I mean) and I’m not a huge fan of attending them. However, I’m currently hosting, until Friday the 27th, a virtual Thirty-One Gifts party.

After moving to South Carolina I was first introduced to Thirty-One gifts. I noticed wristlet wallets my students were carrying around in a variety of patterns– all from Thirty-One. I also started seeing organizers for your car and bags with a variety of patterns, embroidery and loads of pockets. All again from Thirty-One. Then my friend Nicole started selling it and I bought a couple of things from her VIP group. I’m not even kidding that the travel bag I bought has been life changing.

As a type A/very organized/J on the Myers-Briggs sort of person, I was hooked. So right now I’m hosting a virtual Thirty-One Gifts party. Why? Because they have this tote bag I’m in love with:

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Meet the Fashion Editor tote bag. It has all the organizational bells and whistles (hello outside pocket for cell phone & hidden padded laptop pocket) along with being stylish and classic (its purple!) It also comes with a $118 price tag, which is a bit lot outside my budget.

HOWEVER, by hosting a party in the month of March, I can earn this bag for free. I just need to have $200 worth of sales in my party. Which is only 10 friends buying $20 worth of products. That’s not bad! So, let me help you see some of the great things you can get for just around $20!

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.57.20 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.40.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.57.20 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.38.52 PMoh-snap-binsThis adorable lunch box is perfect for bringing your lunch to work, or taking snacks or drinks on a road trip. It’s only $18 and is customizable.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.37.07 PMThis isn’t just an ordinary pocket. It can clip onto your car’s sun visor to add extra organization and reach in your car. But the best part- it snaps onto the grommets on any Thirty One bags to add extra organization. I had no idea about this feature until this week and plan to pick up a couple to add some extra flexibility to a couple of my items.

 

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 9.02.37 PMThis is one of my favorite finds– a Flat Iron Case. There’s nothing more annoying on a trip than fixing your hair right before you leave and having to carry around the hot flat iron (or curling iron) while you wait for it to cool. This case is thermal lined and provides easy storage and care for the cord. It also should fit will any any of their travel beauty bags.

 

 

monogram-necklacemonogram-necklacemonogram-necklaceMothers day is just around the corner and nothing is more “in” right now than monograms. Check out their line of new jewelry for a woman you love!

They also have this new line of “Oh Snap” bins and pockets. These attach to just about anything and are perfect for school or craft supplies, items on a car ride or children’s toys.

I love how easily life can stay organized with products from Thirty-One. Sometimes items can be on the pricer side, but I have always thought the product was worth the money. I’d encourage you to check out their products. If the information on the Thirty-One site isn’t enough for you, there are loads of videos on YouTube showing the products and offering ideas of how to make the most of them. Heather’s Bag is one of my favorites.

monogram-necklaceWhen you’re ready to place an order, go to my friend Nicole’s site and be sure that you select my party from her list! For me to get credit for your purchase you must click “view my parties” at the top of her page and then select to shop within mine! :)

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The Fringe Hours

 

Friday I mentioned a book that I recently read called The Fringe Hours: Making Time for you. This book written by Jessica Turner comes out tomorrow, February 17th. I had the opportunity to read the Fringe Hours as a part of the launch team and was surprised by just how much this book influenced me.

The Fringe Hours, at the heart of it, is a simple idea. Use the hidden pockets of wasted time for the things you love and self-care. While the concept is simple, Jessica writes about these hours and encourages the reader to find the pockets in ways I hadn’t thought about before. Jessica is a master at using her time well- keeping note cards and books in her car for times spent there and reading while drying her hair (something I’ve started doing too).

Before reading The Fringe Hours I always thought the only way to find extra time for the personal things I love was to wake up at the crack of dawn. Reading this book turned that idea upside down to really think more holistically and strategically about my schedule both at home and work. I’ve started thinking more creatively about how I use my time and begun prioritizing what activities I allow to fill my fringe hours. It’s caused me to rearrange my house to literally make space for what I love doing while also rethinking my lunch breaks to make time for me in the middle of the day.

One of the best parts of The Fringe Hours is that Jessica shares survey responses from more than 2000 women. This survey information really helped me understand that I’m not alone in the struggle to make time for what I enjoy. Jessica also formats the book to allow for journaling space which I loved because it allowed me to process information as I went. I really think that journal space allowed me to interact with the content and internalize the information in the context of my life more easily.

I cannot encourage women enough to pick up a copy of The Fringe Hours. Regardless of your life’s format (single, married, mom or not, working or not) I think it will really help you feel more balanced as you make more time for yourself!

 

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I received a free advance reader copy of the book for my participation in the Launch Team. This did not require me to enjoy or benefit from the book. That’ geniune! This post also contains affiliate links. If you purchase the book with one of these links I’ll get a few extra pennies!

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Fringe Friday

I recently finished a great new book called Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner. Fringe Hours helps women to learn how to manage their time so they are able to do the things they enjoy and care for themselves. It was in many ways truly life changing to me. I will be posting soon about the book, but you should go ahead and pre-order yourself a copy!

In honor of the upcoming release of Fringe Hours, Jessica is hosting Fringe Friday- a link up over at her site, Mom Creative, highlighting the ways women are taking back their Fringe Hours. The idea is simple- share something you have done using your Fringe Hours.

Valentine's Day

One of the ways I used my Fringe Hours this week was to create a valentine for my nephew to mail home and surprise him. I could have just bought a card at home, but I chose to make him one instead. I like making better than buying and it was another chance for me to use my fancy new Silhouette Cameo. So with a UK basketball playing in the background, I created this valentine to send to my favorite freckle nosed kid. Capturing just a few otherwise wasted minutes of my day gave me the chance to make something special.

Want more information about Fringe Hours? Pre-order Jessica’s book and check back next week for a review of Fringe Hours.

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Lessons from my best friend leaving

The Mudroom
My friend, Tammy, recently launched the Mudroom which is a contributor blog that allows a space for writers and artists to share the meaning in the mess. I’m privileged to be posting over there today. I shared about the lessons I’ve been learning while walking with my best friend here in Anderson as she prepared to leave on a big, brave adventure. Here’s a glimpse into the story.

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Today my best friend left. She loaded her things into her SUV and began a 25-hour journey away to join her soon to be husband in Colorado. We’ve been close friends for about three years, feeling like the only grown single women in our small town. Together we’ve weathered the storms of shared tears and laughter about the day-to-day stories of life. We’ve laughed about boys, walked through break ups and edited each other’s online dating profiles. We’ve dreamed of this day, when the life she’s been waiting for will start.

To read more head over to the Mudroom.

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One Kept Resolution

IMG_4324At the beginning of 2014, I made some goals for my year. They were inspired by Lara Casey’s goal setting process and were not so much resolutions as areas I’d like to focus on throughout the year. Despite the best of intentions, 2014 brought it’s own set of challenges and before I really felt that they year had begun, we were ringing in 2015. While I completely forgot about most of the goals I set, I did manage to keep one– the one most resolution like ironically enough.

I set the goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks. Not only did I complete this resolution, but I exceeded it by finishing 53.

This goal was stretching- it required me to be intentional about finding time to read in even the busiest of seasons. I had to be creative and intentional about completing the goal. I started bringing my Kindle to the gym and checking audiobooks out for trips to Kentucky.

It was also refreshing. Even in the busiest of times, I was reminded of what a great encouragement a good book is. As I think back over the books that I read last year, I began to see a theme emerge of to which books I am most drawn.

It was also enlightening. While I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember, I never could nail down a specific type or types of books that I preferred. Having focused on this reading goal I realize how much I love history, something I never would have considered. However, some of the best books I read are historical fiction, true stories and memoirs. I enjoy the realistic impact of those stories and find that books which could be real or are, suck me in.

I’d love to share with you over the next week or so, some of the best books I read in 2014. I will continue to read with the goal of 52 in 52 this year, although since this has become so much a part of my life over the last 12 months, I’m sure it is a habit now, not so much a resolution.

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Fight Back With Joy

This post is part of Margaret Feinberg’s party mob for her brand-new book and Bible study, Fight Back With Joy. To join the celebration (and learn more), click here. To grab a copy of this book, click here.

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I recently had the opportunity to read a portion of Margaret Feinberg’s new book Fight Back With Joy as a part of a blog tour she is hosting to celebrate it’s launch. Margaret shares with the reader about how she began to consider and study the theme of joy in scripture and it’s providential timing as she learned she had cancer and would literally fight for her life.

As I read, engrossed in Margaret’s story, I found myself struck by one quote in the book. It reads:

Fight back with joy

This literally means that my very existence is because of joy. That thought stopped me in my tracks, because I think of joy as something I have not as something I am. I have always defined joy as a response to circumstances or something that comes and goes, but Joy is innate. It’s a reflection of my Creator in who I am.

This means regardless of circumstances or whether I’ve had a good or a bad day, I can have joy. While this may not be a complex revelation and was a freeing one to me. As a Christian I want my life to be marked by the image of Jesus which means I’d like for people to think of me as joyful. This is really hard for me when I just don’t feel joyful. In those times, when I’m tired, stressed or annoyed, being joyful is just one more task I don’t want to deal with. It’s one more thing to pressure me to be better, to resolve to be something, to highlight my inadequacies.

When I think about joy as something I am, that pressure disappears. Joy is no longer about what I am not or cannot do, but about who I am and Whose I am. That’s a freeing revelation. Joy is not about me. Joy is about Jesus.

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Invest

I’m about a week into 2015 and as a writer that’s supposed to mean I’ve written some poignant post about the significance of 2014 and a second post looking forward to 2015. I am not one for resolutions, but I am one for reflection. However, every time I sit with the intention of reflecting on the calendar year transition, all I see is a blank page and blinking curser.

 

This year has felt like a rushing river but something seems to be stopping the words from coming out. As I think about 2014 I’m grateful for so much and I know I am blessed. More than anything, I am even more grateful for it to be in my rearview mirror.

 

Thinking forward to 2015 I am hopeful. I feel God whisper the word “invest” to my heart as the theme for the year. Invest in Him, invest in friendships, in future and present. I know that 2014 was a year full of just trying to survive on so many levels and I do not want this year to be a repeat.  Investing means focusing on the things that have long term value while forgetting about the things that do not.

“In these bodies we will live, in these

photo credit (flower): Crow 911 via photopin cc

Coming up for air

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It occurred to me tonight that I have not posted here since July. July seems so long ago but also I still cannot grasp that it’s already the middle of October. My students are on fall break which means the semester is half over. So much has happened in the last two months that some things have had to fall by the wayside and much to my chagrin posting here has been one such thing. My lack of posting here is a symptom of a greater lack of time to reflect on life and process each day to day. It’s a sign that it’s time to come up for air. To reset, rest, find margin. Here’s a glimpse into the last two months.

  • I, along with the rest of my colleagues at work, welcomed our largest class of new students in University’s history.
  • I built, planned and executed a training schedule for five different groups of students during the same 5 day period right before that massive class moved in.
  • Made a lot of BLTs and Caprese salad’s with tomatoes from my garden.
  • My two week long trips to Kentucky, one for the expected passing of my grandmother and the second for her funeral
  • My Rav4 stumped the mechanics at the Toyota Dealership and was declared a safety hazard until they could fix it. This of course happened the same day my mom called and said I needed to come home.
  • Because my car issue was a warranty/recall problem with my car, I got to drive a sweet, 2015 Rav4 rental for free while I made my first trip to Kentucky. I might have teared up when I had to give it back.
  • I spent a lot of time ‘baby-sitting’ my nephew. Which he sometimes enjoyed and other times I made him cry. Crying usually involved chores or homework.
  • I canceled my cable account. A decision I didn’t regret at first.
  • UK beat South Carolina in football! This is when I regretted canceling cable. I also may have teared up a bit at the end of the game.
  • Learned that I had a ‘relapse’ of mono I had in high school.
  • Killed my first brown recluse spider in my house.
  • Did lots of crafts over labor day.
  • Learned how to make burlap wreaths, finally!
  • Re-watched all the seasons of the Office. Still cried at the end and when Michael and Andy both left.
  • Decided to finally take the GRE again and gave myself less than 14 days to study before taking it.
  • Took my nephew to his first collegiate volleyball game when Anderson was playing in an invitational at Bellarmine while I was in Kentucky. He loved it.
  • Started working as a contract wedding coordinator for Upstate I Do which has been really fun.

While things in life don’t seem to be about to slow down, I need to make some shifts in management to leave some time for reflection and rest in the midst of the craziness.

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Mixers & Marriages

A few Christmases ago, in leu of a “big” gift my parents gave me some cash. That chilly Christmas morning Mom said “I know you’ve been wanting a stand mixer and a new camera lens but I couldn’t decide which to get. So use it for one of those.” I took my parent’s gift, combined it with the rest of the cash I received that year, some Kohl’s cash and price matching skills to purchase a beautiful KitchenAid Artisan Stand mixer in Empire Red. The only thing I thought twice about was the color. I use it often and every time I think to myself say to myself “I love this mixer”!

I recently attended a friend’s bridal shower. I love bridal showers because it’s a good excuse to get dressed up, eat girlie foods and celebrate a joyful occasion in the life of a friend. My friend was opening her gifts and after boxes of place settings, towels and kitchen utensils she opened the last gift- a beautiful green KitchenAid mixer. Everyone oohed and ahhed over it and rightly so, its the Lexus of Kitchen Appliances and absolutely worth the money! The soon to be bride remarked that she has been looking forward to getting married for a long time partially because of  the chance to get a KitchenAid which got some good laughs from the crowd.

drop me in the water

After the gifts were all opened my group of friends stood around and talked for a bit. The mixer was the talk of the mostly single group of women. One of my friends echoed the bride’s sentiment that marriage = mixer when she said “I cannot wait to get married so I can get a Kitchenaid. I’ve wanted one since college!” All the other girls nodded their heads at the statement. (Except for me- I have the mixer and told them how great it is and that it is worth purchasing yourself. I was jealous of the fancy cheese grater my friend received.)

As I listened to the conversation I couldn’t help but reflect on the irony of it. I was surrounded by accomplished women with full time jobs, several who own their own homes. Here we were as full grown adults with lives, homes and paychecks laminating the lack of marriage because we don’t have nice kitchen things. And I, while I own the mixer, was right there with them. As I would bet all my other single women friends feel similarly.

I was reminded of the chapter in Little Women when Meg is getting married and the whole family pitches in to prepare her home and marry her off. Until she walks out of the March home at the end of her wedding day Meg lives with her parents. She leaves the March home to walk to her new home with her new husband knowing that the beds were made, tables set and linen closet full of all the linens she would need. She was showered with all that she needed to keep her own house with her new husband and her family even helped her set it up and decorate before the wedding.

The idea of bridal showers originated in a world like the March sisters knew. Where women left their familial homes to go to build a house with their husband. They needed all the the house things- kitchen gadgets, pans, etc. because they were just starting out in the world on their own. The women in each younger woman’s life helped prepare her and get her started.

While the culture in America has changed, our traditions and ideas of “rites of passages” haven’t. We still view marriage as that pivotal rite where the man and woman pass from childhood to adulthood. We still mark it with buying people linens and kitchen gadgets even though the average age for men and women to marry is inching very close to 30 (which I am doing a good job, apparently, of helping raise. You are welcome younger singles.)

While I’m so glad to buy a gift that a friend needs as he or she makes that leap to marriage, very rarely does marriage mark their transition to adulthood. The friend who’s shower I just attended is a homeowner in her late 20s. No one would dispute her adulthood. My friends are in similar places- most in their late 20s, some of us in our 30s. There is this sense among singles (not just that shower attending group of friends) that you can’t have nice things until you get married and can register for them.

I wonder if this old way of helping support young adults as they transition to a new phase of life is creating a chasm between the “haves and have nots” of marrieds and singles. The American culture is not known for having solid rites of passage like some other cultures and that sad fact is why I think we hold so tightly to the ones we do have like marriage. But how do we as a culture, a church, as friends or families do to support and encourage all people transitioning to adulthood?

I  have no idea what the answer is and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, jealous or petty. I am certainly not saying if you are married you should buy your single friends $300 mixers. I just think there has to be a way for us as a culture or individuals to support and encourage everyone around us, not just those going to college, getting married or having babies. Did a friend just start a new job? Meet him or her for lunch during their first week to hear about it and in the second month when the honeymoon phase wears off. Did a friend just get a house or a new rental? Show up to help pack, carry boxes or paint not just for a dinner party.

We should celebrate all life transitions with each other! Maybe that just starts with us showing that support to our friends.  I want to be a person who celebrates significant moments in the lives of those around me- no matter what it is.

Blog Tour!

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In January I joined a group called The Influence Network. I love the way that the Influence site describes what it is:

THE INFLUENCE NETWORK is for creatively minded women, who are looking for an uplifting community where they can be encouraged and also resourced to make their online lives MEAN SOMETHING.

Through Influence I’ve been able to join a community group of other writers who are Christian woman looking to grow our craft and use it for good in the world. One of my new online blog friends, Charity, invited us to participate in a blog tour. She sent some questions for us to answer and then we were to find a few other bloggers to invite to join! Here are my responses to her questions!

1. What am I working on? 

Most simply, I’m hoping to survive the month of August which is one of the craziest times for people in my line of full-time, pay-the-bills work. It is a great month because I love the start of the school year but it’s a very busy one.

I’m also in this weird process of figuring out what it means to consider myself a writer. I enjoy it and have done it haphazardly over the years, but I feel like it keeps bubbling over the surface of my heart begging for more attention than I can easily, haphazardly give. I’ve been playing with some pieces of what might someday be a book that feels more like taking my heart and putting it on a table than I’m comfortable with. I’ve been saying yes to opportunities to write (like writing devotionals here). I’ve been trying to cultivate community of other writers through Influence and some connections here in SC.

2. How does my work differ from others of my genre?

My gut, instinctual answer to this is that my story is different and unique. My view point, beliefs and path have been different than anyone else’s. This feels like a cheesy answer because I personally believe that’s true of everyone. I believe God made me with a gift for a reason. I’m still figuring out why and how it’s different.

3. Why do I write what I do? 

The story I tell is one for women and young people (anyone is welcome to read, they are just who I write to). It is an offer of freedom and grace to those who are where I have been. To tell the story of what I have seen and heard through Christ’s redemptive work in me and my life.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

Ideal World: I wake up early every morning and walk my dog with a cup of coffee. Maybe go for a run. Then I spend some time with my Bible and journal over breakfast and more coffee. Reading the Bible always leads to writing inspiration to me. So I would write a bit- either in my journal or elsewhere. Sometimes it gets posted, most of the time not.

Real World: I never wake up on time so I’m rushed to down a bite of gluten free toast on my way out the door. Hair still mostly wet because it takes all of at least 45 minutes to fully blow-dry (the HR department just added a clause in our employee handbook about coming to work with wet hair. I really, really, really hope that’s not about me. I still don’t dry it all the way, but I feel far more insecure about it! In fairness the part that is wet is in the middle/bottom so no one can tell!) Inspiration strikes haphazardly at 9-11 p.m. I stay up late writing. Go to bed late. Wake up late.

I gotta get off the real world cycle into the ideal world one if I ever want to be a serious writer.

Meet Some New Friends

Next Sunday two bloggers I invited will be continuing the tour on their own sites! These two are members of the Dreamers & Builders Writer Group (formerly the Start Experiment) which is another place I’ve found wisdom and encouragement in growing as a writer. I hope you’ll check out what they have to say next week!

Judith Heaney is a New England girl with a southern heart now living in North Carolina. She is a mama, wife, believer and writer who weaves together words and stories. Her story includes a transparency and faith on her blog as well as creative writing in the form of novels, many directed at young adults. She is currently working on a story, The Dream Quest, the story about a young man named Daniel who embarks on an incredible quest based on a series of dreams he has involving people he’s never met; she posts a new chapter on her blog each Wednesday.

Scott Friend describes himself like this: I’m extremely passionate about training up other leaders to be very intentional with the relationships that they build, regardless of what industry they are in.  I run a website called “The Business of Relationships” that is about promoting what really matters in business:  personal relationships.  He’s also a new dad of a little girl!

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