post

Hygge vs. Minimalism – What is best for me?

There’s so much buzz around Hygge and Minimalism. They both have beautiful qualities and benefits but which is best for me? What’s the difference between them?

Hygge

Hygge is a danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or a moment as cozy, charming and special. It’s the art of creating joy and comfort in one’s life. Embracing hygge is about creating a warm and cozy lifestyle. It promotes appreciation, a certain simplicity and about not only recognizing the present moment but also enjoying it. Think the quote, “Relish in the moment,” but up a few notches.

Minimalism

Minimalism is about living with less, living with the essentials, only the things that bring you joy. It teaches you to remove distractions from your life so that you can live your life with full intentions. Quoted from Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist “minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.” Through minimalism you can discover clarity and freedom.

So which is best for me? I see value in both lifestyles. I see a sense of simplicity in both. I’ve been trying to work towards minimalism for a little over a year now and have really been struggling with it. Although I am able to embrace some of the thought patterns of minimalism I find that I struggle with limiting the amount of items that bring me joy. I find joy in so many things and in so many areas of my life. As an eclectic individual I have several hobbies and many interests creating a bit of a stock up sometimes. I do believe in removing the clutter and the chaos and I believe in utmost organization because I find I function better in a clearer, cleaner environment but as much as I respect the minimalistic lifestyle I’m not sure it fits who I am purely. I find myself at home looking toward hygge. Cozy is one of my top five favorite words. I am finding that I am falling in love with all things hygge. I don’t want to abandon all the values of minimalism but I think a more honest path to my true self is to build my home and my life with a hygge mindset. Looking back, I’m glad I took an attempt at minimalism and I grew as a person and learned a lot about how I work in the world during my journey but as we grow we also shift so here’s to 2018 learning all about hygge. <3 

post

Looking Back at the Blog in 2017

As crazy as 2017 was it rounded up to be a huge year for me for growth and discovery. I learned a lot about blogging such as better promotions of my posts and my blog, ways to grow my followers and some ways to work towards monetize my blog. I went from having a blog for a hobby to focusing on starting to build a business from it.

Overall Stats from 2017

28,935 blog views

17,848 blog visitors

509 comments on blog posts

Referral Traffic

This was a lesson for me. When you decide you want to get serious about blogging, you’ll find yourself learning how to read your data. I learned a good a bit about where my blog traffic comes from and also several ways to help grow traffic from social channels.

28.5% of my blog traffic came from Pinterest. It did help that I had a pin go viral (Setting Healthy Boundaries:Simple Tips for a Happy Life) but there were other tips and tricks I picked up along the way to help increase traffic from Pinterest. My followers base grew from 192 followers to 901 followers in 2017.

1.) Join Group Boards – this is an awesome place to share your content with like-minded bloggers

2.) Learn how to create Pinnable images. Canva made this pretty easy using templates they had and I learned to create my own over time.

3.) Participate in Pinterest. Don’t just share your content only. Create boards of interest to you and your goals and mix your content posts in with others. This not only creates a better experience for your followers but it also motivates the folks of the pins that your sharing to return the favor.

StumbleUpon brought 14% of the traffic. This was a completely new channel to me. I had heard of it but had never used StumbleUpon until I came across a mention of it in a Blogging Facebook Group. This is an easy to use yet great driver for traffic.

Facebook brought 11% of the traffic to my blog. This I have seen grow over the year and I predict it will continue to grow in 2018. I have developed plans for more activity on my blog Facebook Page – which grew from 174 page likes to 1,701 during the year. My goal for this coming year is to double that and to drive more traffic to my blog from this page.

In October of 2017, I launched my blog Instagram account. This is a unique platform compared to the others lacking the opportunity for clickable links making it not a huge traffic driver however I believe this is a great opportunity to build followers, engagement and loyalty. I was at 146 followers at the end of the year and am looking to triple that in 2018 through engagement challenges such as my monthly art challenges and more behind the scenes posts.

Twitter only accounted for .3% of the traffic to my blog, which surprised me a little so I’ll be diving more into learning about the way Twitter works this year however I did obtain some great relationships through Twitter including sponsored posts opportunities and my Twitter followers grew from 394 to 861 in 2017.

Engaging with My Readers

My email subscribers grew from 19 at the beginning of the year to 181 subscribers. I didn’t put as much focus into this growth in 2017 as I hope to this coming year but I did find that promoting some giveaways was a great way to build your email list. Giveaways are pretty easy and quick and I was able to use Rafflecopter to set up the forms and manage the entries.

I also launched my Facebook Group ‘Journey to a Life You Love‘ which I have to be honest I fell off track a bit with during the year and it didn’t quite grow like I planned but I held on to who I had mostly and have big plans for it this year!

What’s to Come in 2018?

I’m really excited for this year. I spent some time thinking of what worked and what didn’t work in 2017 and how I wanted to proceed. This year I’ll be focusing a lot more on engaging with my followers and build my social media channels. You can look forward to healthy living posts, challenges and just some random thoughts about what’s happening in life. Let’s get happy and healthy and have fun doing it this year!

post

“Bust Out the Bubbly” – My 2018 Goals & Intentions

I decided that this year I’m leaving 2017 in 2017. Don’t come knocking past because I’m looking forward. I’m using the lessons I learned from my challenges and set backs to help me grow and to propel me forward. This coming year is the year I’m going to let go and flourish. I’m going to open up and bloom for the world to see. I’m going to learn to love myself so fiercely that rays of light bust out of me like a feverish disco ball. I’m going to own 2018. I’m going to stop thinking about it and I’m going to do it. 2016 was about realization, 2017 was for planning, 2018 will be my debut – the beginning of a masterpiece. I’m leaving the mess behind and walking into a world of possibilities this year and I’m going to do it my way.

 Areas of Focus –

19 Things Before 2019

Level 10 Life

Commit30

By products of my goals: stronger and deeper relationships with my family and friends, better self-esteem, money and financial security, style and grace, a simpler and more comforting lifestyle, a more positive story to tell, a stronger body and mind, more artwork, and a better understanding of myself and the world around me.

 Now down to the meat and potatoes of my business goals for 2018…which is a huge part of who I am and what I want out of life.

Business in 2018 –

Blog & Coaching

Boutique

Young Living Essential Oils

I spent a lot of time the end of this year planning out what I wanted 2018 to look for me and set a loose timeline of how it will play out. This gave me the opportunity to see things in a manageable way and to envision my goals realistically playing out. The first half of the year I will be focusing on launching and starting the steps to build my dreams. The second half of the year will be focused on defining and growth.

Jan-Mar – Quarter 1 – Organization of blog, social media promotion schedules and routine, launch boutique, start Young Living Essential Oils business.

Apr-Jun – Quarter 2 – Launch Coaching, defining and developing boutique and essential oils business.

Jul-Sep – Quarter 3 – Focus on business growth across all areas.

Oct-Dec – Quarter 4 – Continue to focus on business growth, evaluate year and start building plan for 2019.

I am a super planner type but what I learned in 2017 is that I can get myself stuck in the planning and dreaming and become a bit overwhelmed in all that I set out in front of me to accomplish. There is no perfect time to start but if you never get started then you’ll never give yourself the chance to finish. This coming year, my focus is on starting – wherever and however that may be. I am going to focus on my year one quarter at a time and learn as I go…and I’m going to allow my beliefs, my values, and my intuition guide me in all that I do.

Cheers to a New Year!

post

My List for the Year

19  Things To Do Before 2019

1.) Read 12 books.

2.) Run 5 races.

3.) Save $1,000, put it in my savings account and leave it there.

4.) Get my own place.

5.) Cross off 10 things off my bucket list.

6.) Create one new painting per month.

7.) Finish writing my novel.

8.) Try something new every month.

9.) Enroll 10 people with Young Living Essential Oils.

10.) Submit artwork to twenty shows.

11.) Pay off half of my debt.

12.) Lose 5-10 lbs. – lose fat, gain muscle.

13.) Post 10 blog posts monthly.

14.) Get LLC. for my businesses.

15.) Apply to be a ProSource ambassador.

16.) Quit smoking the e-cigg.

17.) Complete therapy.

18.) Take my son to Norfolk, VA (the city I was born in).

19.) Finish tree and fairy paintings.

post

2017 Bucket List Recap & 2018 Bucket List Goals

Whew, what a year 2017 was. Lots of twists and turns came about this year but I’m still proud to say that I was able to get some items crossed off my bucket list!

  1. Visit New Orleans.
  2. Try absinthe (of course this happened in New Orleans in some super cool underground bar).
  3. Put Mentos in Diet Coke. Yes this was on my list, I never did this as a kid so I set out to knock this one off the list with my kiddo.
  4. Make a sun-melted candle.
  5. Go in a sensory deprivation tank.
  6. Bet on a horse race.
  7. Go on a Troeg’s Brewery Tour.
  8. Go to a St.Patrick’s Day Parade.
  9. Try Guinness.
  10. See a tornado. Okay the real bucket list item was to chase a tornado but having a front row (meaning standing at the door outside) seat to one in your office’s parking lot is pretty darn close!
  11. Grow a lemon tree. This one is still in the works, but hey I started it!
  12. Tour the Haines Shoe House in York.
  13. Run a 10 mile race.
  14. Go to a Wine and Paint Nite.
  15. See a broadway show in NYC.

Not too shabby for making some things happen this year! 

Bucket lists help us set a plan to add fulfillment and excitement into our lives. They give us a little structure and help us schedule in adventures that we dream of. I can’t wait to see what all 2018 will bring for me! Here’s some of the things on my list:

  • Ride a train to Philadelphia and NYC.
  • Try a spaghetti donut.
  • Finish my novel and publish it.
  • Go to a roller derby.
  • Go to a Murder-Mystery dinner.
  • Visit New Hope, PA.
  • Take my son to Dylan’s Candy Store in NYC. His name is Dylan so this one is a bit fun and sentimental.
  • Visit the Baltimore Zoo. Can you believe I live so close and have never been?!
  • Master my grandmother’s Sand Tart recipe.
  • Tell a story at Story Slam/Storytellers.
  • Allow myself to be flawed, embrace my flaws.
  • Sleep in a tree house.
  • Go fruit picking.
  • Learn to belly dance.
  • Go to the movies alone.
  • Make a time capsule.
  • Attend a Wanderlust.
  • Go to the Seawitch Festival in Rehoboth Beach, DE.
  • Try Ratatouille.
  • Stay at a bed and breakfast.

What’s on your bucket list for 2018?

post

Year in Review – My Favorite Photos

A photo is so much more than just a photo. It’s a moment captured. Within one photo, so many memories and thoughts are held. 2017 was a tough year and it had several downs and many lessons learned but it also had many wonderful times. Times of strength, times of when love was discovered and joy was born.

This week I took some time to reflect on the year, sifting through photos that were taken throughout the year and just taking some time to sit and be grateful. Grateful for the people that stuck by my side throughout the year, grateful for the adventures I was able to attend and for the challenges I conquered.

My Year in Review: Photo Style

Photo Shoots & Art

Artistically, this was a big year of growth for me. I painted in more color, pushed boundaries and expanded topics, explored with varied mediums, and was in more art shows this year than ever before. I even painted a “party llama” for my best gal’s birthday! Super fun!

The same goes for my photo shoots. New angles, new styles, and new sides of me. Thank you to my photographer Anthony Machcinski, I was able to capture some of my favorite shots and discover a little bit about myself along the way. A little shout out to him – his photos are definitely worth checking out more @PhotosbyChinski on Facebook. Here’s a little sneak of one of my favorite photos from his collection (which I must note, it is so amazing to be able to have artwork next to his in the local art shows – gives me kind of that “look at us, we’re kind of like rock stars” warm and fuzzy feeling).

 

Food & Drink

Let’s just be honest here, food and drink is a pretty important category for every year. This year I really made a point to try new things though (which you’ll get to see a fun list in a later post “New Things I Tried in 2017). I tried new fish, fell in love with charcuterie boards, had champagne on my birthday, ate at a french restaurant, created amazing vegetarian pizzas for meatless Fridays during Lent, and had my first repin of a restaurant meal! It was kind of a fun foodie kind of year.

Adventures & Bucket List Items

I had one big grand adventure this year that I was able to cross off my bucket list – NOLA Trip!!! But I learned this year that it doesn’t have to be grand or far away to be an adventure. Adventures can happen anywhere, including right in your town or backyard! I crossed off touring the Haines Shoe House (yes it’s a house shaped like a shoe – an actual shoe – read more about it here: ‘What’s Up With That Huge Shoe by Route 30?’), I had a fun day being a big kid and eating lots of ice cream at the Turkey Hill Experience, I ran a 10 mile race in June (yeah, yeah, I know I talk about it all the time – but come on, this was a huge feat for me!), did squats by Inner Harbor in Baltimore for a fitness post, yoga in a bunny costume, bet on a horse race…no matter where you are, you can always find an adventure.

Little Moments & More Favorites

Coming home and seeing that your son made your mannequin dab, realizing that your dad’s old truck makes an awesome black and white photo, being rained out of a local charity race to find fun in grabbing grub at the local market, the beautiful flower in the garden you see in the morning that makes your day, Duck Donuts Mommy and Son Breakfast Dates, watching the pups always bantering on who has what, the cranky snapchat picture you send your BFF after a bad day……

 Finding out your dad has a brain tumor and that he’s going to need surgery but going out as a family and having a wonderful day anyways because you know that together you can make it through, the inspiration on your desk, the new puppy to the family, the moment you realize how much your son is like you, the funny things that happen at work, the beautiful sunrise you catch after an early morning gym appointment, the unconditional love from a pet……

The face you make when you know you have to go to the gym, you’re going to go to the gym, but you don’t want to go to the gym. The first time the puppy gets mail, the Subway lunch you’re having at 7:32 in the morning because you’re day started at 4am for Black Friday Shopping, and of course the SnapChat filters that make you feel pretty and laugh every darn time……

Life can have so many beautiful moments, big and small, sometimes silly, sometimes awakening. Celebrate them all, every day, every week, every month, every year. Celebrate you, your life, and everyone in it. <3 Onward to a new year ahead!

post

Inspiration from the Big Screen – Celebration of Star Wars

There has been so much excitement about the new Star Wars movie coming out tomorrow! I’ll be honest, I enjoy the movies for sure but my knowledge is no where comparable to some of the folks I know, but being in a marketing position at the office I’ve found myself caught up in the whirl of it and it’s been a fun ride! Me being me, of course, I found some inspiration from the sayings and quotes. With the idea of the dark side vs. the light side, there is much that can be pulled out of the context of these movies <3

My Favorite Quotes from the Star Wars Movies & What They Mean to Me

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” ~ Darth VaderYou have to have faith in yourself, in your abilities, in life, and in possibilities. Faith will guide your way. Without it, you can feel lost. Even on bad days, you have to hold onto the faith that things are going to get better. You have to have faith that you can achieve your goals to start working towards them. Faith is a driver. Don’t give up faith.

“The force will be with you always.” ~ Obi-Wan KenobiEverything you need to succeed and to be happy is within yourself. It is always with you.

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” ~ YodaIf you decide you want to make something happen then you have to will it to happen. You have to do what it takes to get it done. There is always a way if you stick to it.

“You can’t stop the change any more than you can stop the suns from setting.” ~ Shmi SkywalkerChange is inevitable. Everything is always changing, even the very cells in our body are constantly changing. We must learn to adapt to change and to grow with it.

“If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” ~ Obi-Wan KenobiLife gets hard and can break us many times but each time we fall we heal and we become stronger. So bring it world!

 “In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” ~ YodaDuring some of our darkest moments is when we can truly discover who we are. It is in our rawest moments that we see the truth. 

“Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. So you might say that we are encouraged to love.” ~ Anakin SkywalkerCompassion is an important trait to develop. We must learn to have compassion for the world, for others, and for ourselves. Compassion envelopes understanding and love and compassion leads us to positive change.

“Your focus determines your reality.” ~ Qui-Gon JinnWhere you place your focus is what will grow. Focus on the things you want in your life, focus on the positive.

“Let go of your hate.” ~ Luke SkywalkerDon’t live your life full of hate and anger, it will destroy you.

“Be careful not to choke on your aspirations.” ~ Darth VaderDon’t take on more than you handle at one time. You’ll burn out if you do.

“I should be mindful of the future…but not at the expense of the moment.” ~ Qui-Gon JinnBe aware and work towards your goals and build for your future but do not blind yourself of the present moment. You must learn to live in the moment while you work towards the future.

“Much to learn you still have.” ~ YodaWe will always have more to learn. Life has consistent opportunities for us to grow and develop.

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” ~ Obi-Wan KenobiWhat we perceive is what we believe. You have to teach yourself to see things with an open mind and believe in all possibilities.

“Be mindful of your thoughts. They will betray you.” ~ Obi-Wan KenobiTrain your mind to release negative thoughts.

“Now be brave and don’t look back. Don’t look back.” ~ Shmi SkywalkerLet go of your past, you don’t live there anymore. You can’t go back and change the past, you can only take the lessons learned and move forward.

Three Bonus Quotes to Inspire You to Keep Working Towards Your Goals

“If you want to be successful in a particular field, perseverance is one of the key qualities.” ~ George Lucas

“You have to find something that you love enough to jump over hurdles and break through the brick walls.” ~ George Lucas

“You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plough right ahead.” ~ George Lucas

post

2017 Ultimate Gift List

Anyone else spending hours online looking at websites to find the perfect gift? Well I took out the sting and saved you some time (hopefully)! I’ve created the Ultimate Gift List for 2018 so you can find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. From the beauty maven to the outdoorsy explorer on your list, I’ve rounded it up so you can shop it all in one place. Here are some of my favorites from each gift list:

Gift List for The Outdoors Adventurer


The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small by Kath Stathers – $35

Gentleman’s Hardware Enamel Tumbler – $16

Fifty Places to Camp Before You Die by Chris Santella – $26

 

Gift List for The Girl Boss

 

BP. Faux Leather Tote – $24.99

‘Hustlin’ Mug – $15.95

Believe and Achieve by Chris Naylor – $13

 

Gift List for The Beauty Maven

 

Urban Decay Little Liquid Vices Gift Set – $28

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual – $32

Unicorn Diamond Makeup Brush Set – $14.99

 

Gift List for The Fit Chick

 

VOORAY Burner Gym Bag – $49.99

Trainers Who Say “Last One” Tank Top – $23.99

Apana Cork Yoga Wheel – $19.99

 

Gift List for The Artfully Minded

 

Dinner with Georgia O’ Keefee: Recipes, Art & Landscape – $50

STATE Bags Brushstroke Slim Lorimer Water Resistant Canvas Backpack – $42.49

Bob Ross Bobblehead – $12.95

 

Gift List for Toddlers

 

Musical Tea Tin Set – $16.99

Fisher Price Lil’ Snoopy – $17.99

Shark Dog by Ged Adamson – $12.99

 

Gift List for The Organic Gal

 

The Urban Agriculture Co. Organic Cocktail Kit – $44.99

Niven Morgan Lavender Mint Hand Lotion – $20

The 8G Cookbook – $20

 

Check out the rest of my Gift Lists and more on my Profile.

 

 

All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payments for leads/sales. For more information please reference my disclosure page
post

My Thanksgiving

I sat at the table at the buffet looking around at my family. It was just my son, my parents and myself but it was perfect. The chatter stayed consistent even as we filled our mouths with food. It was wonderful, probably my favorite Thanksgiving. This year was a pretty tough year for me and my family. We were challenged with heartache, medical scares, and a lot of self-discovery this year. It was filled with many highs and many lows…but here we were all together, stronger and closer than we were when we entered the year. I felt proud and I felt loved, filled with a sense of comfort. I couldn’t think of one word to sum up everything I felt thankful for, not even a few words could capture all the gratefulness I felt in that moment.

Thankful for strength.

Thankful for the lesson of patience.

Thankful for my family coming together.

Thankful for my mother, my father, my son, and everyone that helped me survive this year.

Thankful for the friends that stuck by me on my messy days.

Thankful for the roof over my head.

Thankful for life.

My son and I continued the holiday with getting up early and hitting some Black Friday shopping. He wanted to experience a ‘Black Friday’. I think we may have started a little Mommy & Son tradition. I think we made it pretty well – hit the outlets and picked up some new clothes. He loved being able to do something something and I loved being able to make it into some quality time and part of his Christmas gift – with him becoming a teen this coming year, it gets harder to shop for him so…new tradition: Every year for part of his Christmas gift, I’ll take him Black Friday shopping for clothes. We had fun and to be honest the wee early morning shopping was kind of peaceful. I have to give kudos to the kiddo for giving me a new perspective on Black Friday shopping.

Thankful for the time I was able to spend with my son.

Thankful for money to spend.

Thankful for new experiences.

My son headed over to celebrate with Thanksgiving with his Dad, stepmom and his little sister so I took the weekend to catch up on some cleaning and to-dos. I’m feeling pretty accomplished – threw out two bags of trash, finished a few paintings, have floor and dresser space again and crossed quite a few tasks off my list. I have always looked forward to the beginning of a new year and this year even more so. I had been putting things off to include in my ‘New Year Prep’ but realized, why wait until then? This can be the beginning of my new year!

Thankful for my creativity.

Thankful for a roof over my head.

Thankful for the growth and self-realization I’ve had this year.

Thankful for my journey to a simpler life.

Thankful for the opportunity to continue to grow.

 

post

A Thoughtful & Grateful Week

Good Morning Beautiful Friday! It’s super cold here but the sun is coming up and I’m looking forward to a wonderful day!

I found myself in deeper thoughts this week, feeling a bit emotional and sensitive. It helped me see some important insight about myself and my life through it this week though. Some good, relaxing painting time last night and a great personal training appointment this morning is helping balance me out again and getting ready for a busy and fun weekend.

Tonight I’ll be heading to a Decked Out Art Show – a super cool local charity event. Local artists (including myself) painted and decorated skateboard decks which will be auctioned off tonight to benefit a local skate park. This show is always a great time and I’m very excited to have my family and friends join me at the event tonight!

What am I thankful for this week?

1.) I’m thankful for the immense growth and development I’ve had in my painting skills and style. I am naturally an eclectic person but I feel like I’ve really come into a nice style that fits me. I have pushed boundaries this year in painting different items and placements, started incorporating different methods, and have been learning to lose myself in the process by letting go and letting it flow.

2.) I’m thankful for my co-workers. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with some really talented, hard-working and caring people. I have built some strong friendships through my workplace and I wouldn’t give them away for anything. Thank you co-workers for being so supportive and helpful!

3.) I’m thankful for the patience I am learning to have with myself. I’m learning to enjoy my journey more, take my time to grow, and not feel like I need to rush to the end result. I’m learning to forgive myself more and to be more accepting of my mistakes and the lessons I’m learning as I go and be more proud and excited about progress not perfection.

4.) I’m thankful for my phone. Yeah, I know this is kind of a materialistic thankful thing but the reality is that my phone allows me to multi-task more and to be on the go more which fits my busy lifestyle. I’m thankful for all those folks out there that created the apps that help me stay on track and stay sane.

5.) I’m thankful for my ex-husband and his wife. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and that we can call each other family and that (to be honest, sometimes I boast) we have built a strong foundation to be the best parents and team that we can be for my son. We had our many struggles as we learned to work together and to let by-gones be by-gones but we did it and we did it together. I’m proud of that and I’m thankful that we have the relationship that we have.