2017 - The Life You Love

Year Ahead Tarot Spread: My 2018 Reading

It's almost 2018, which is f*cking unreal. I mean, who even has time for that?! Okay, but really, I actually love beginnings even if they overwhelm the shit out of me. I sat down and laid out my year ahead spread using the Inner Hue Lumina Tarot deck. It looks like it's going to be a pretty positive, pretty exciting, and even challenging year.

OVERALL ☾ INSTINCTS

Like my cards have been telling me A LOT lately, my instincts and my intuition are going to be super important for me. They've always been important, but they're being brought to the forefront now. It's probably for the best. Trusting myself and listening to my inner voice is something that I've always valued and something that will help me connect with my divine feminine. I'm feeling it.

JANUARY ☾ EXPECTATION

This card is actually a warning that expectations can actually restrict what I experience and how I connect with myself and others. I find it really interesting that this card is in the "January" spot. January is when people tend to make goals for the year and honestly, they usually go nowhere. But this year I'm trying to be more focused.

FEBRUARY ☾ CROWN CHAKRA

Ooooh, looks like February will be a month for connecting with the divine and my higher Self. I love that this card was pulled pretty early in the year because I think it will really help with a lot of the later cards that I drew. When working with this energy, I want to remind myself that I am a spiritual being who is divinely protected and supported by the Universe. I am codependent with the Universe and everything and everyone in it. How freaking cool is it to have a month that will have that kind of energy?!

MARCH ☾ STRENGTH

After such a focus on connection and codependence, March will ask me to remember my strengths and my desires. I'll be asked to remember that I'm still in charge of my life and I still need to take action in order to manifest my desires. I think there will be more to uncover as the year and this month goes on.

APRIL ☾ FAMILY

Well, damn. The first third of the year is pretty heavy on connections. This card's description says it all: I have both a physical and a Universal family. To expand on that, I also have my Spiritual sisters (aka the spiritual boss bitches that I've connected with on my spiritual journey). I think this month will be an important one for listening to my guides and mentors on earth and in the Universe.

MAY ☾ RESPONSIBILITY

When you take responsibility for your life and your current situations, you are able to change them. This month will be all about taking responsibility for what's happening in my life and how I can use this responsibility to achieve what I want. Some part of this process will be painful and uncomfortable, but it'll be incredibly rewarding if I can stick to it.

JUNE ☾ RECEIVING FREQUENCY

One of the basic tenets of vibrations and frequencies is that your vibes must be high in order to attract your desires and wants. By living with high vibes each day, I'll attract even higher vibrations and even more positive events in my life. What a freaking awesome card with such high energy! Of course, this will be a challenge. Staying positive and high vibe is sometimes difficult, but it is so worth it.

JULY ☾ SLOW DOWN

I love the placement of this card. The middle-ish of the year is the perfect time to focus on Slowing Down and replenishing my energy. At this point, there will have been some very high energy and very exciting months that will leave me feeling drained if I don't take time to take care of myself. Of course, this is something I hope to do throughout the year, but I love that there is a month dedicated to this.

AUGUST ☾ BE YOU

Why yes, I did get the Be You card as my theme for the month of my birth. Authenticity is one of the most important - and sometimes the most difficult - parts of life. By being the person who I truly am and feeling comfortable with it, I'll be able to thrive in my life. It's exhausting and unfulfilling to be anything but yourself, but sometimes we do lose sight of who we are. This is my time to realign with myself.

SEPTEMBER ☾ MENTOR

This is an exciting card! Is it suggesting that I will be a mentor or that I will seek mentoring? Honestly, I think both. This card has some strong connections to the first third of the year that asks me to connect with my Family, both physical and spiritual. It's a symbiotic relationship full of give and take.

OCTOBER ☾ PLEASURE & PAIN

Time to take a look at what I've been hiding or running from. Another potentially uncomfortable theme, kind of like May and Responsibility. October is a time for introspection and self-awareness of what has been holding me back or causing me pain. By first acknowledging what is going wrong, I can finally take steps towards what is right and what I want.

NOVEMBER ☾ OPPORTUNITY

This is basically the moment I've been waiting for. This is when my hard work and my efforts will finally culminate in an opportunity that will align with my desires. Oh hell yes, this is card of manifestation thanks to action and effort. This is kind of like the roof of the house after I've been laying each brick with hard work and persistence.

DECEMBER ☾ STORYTELLING

I am the author of my story. That is such a powerful message of reflection and of responsibility. Of course, December is usually the time when we reflect on what's been going on and when we figure out what was or wasn't working. By reflecting on these important details, I'm able to write my next steps and rewrite what is no longer serving me.


Want to have your cards read for 2018?  I'm offering a 13-card spread - one card for each month and one overall card - for just $20.18 (see what I did there?!).  I'll offer an interpretation of each month and your overall year.  This offer will only be available for a limited time, so get it while you can!  Available through my Etsy shop.
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Your Holiday Survival Kit

My Christmas tree has been up since before Thanksgiving.  I love the holiday season because I think it can bring out the best in people and in the self.  I also think it can bring up some shitty feelings, like stress and loneliness.  Before I keep going with my holiday survival tips, I want to be super clear about how blessed I am.  Thankfully, I'm a pretty fortunate person with little to worry about in comparison to others.  Of course, there are many many many people who are less fortunate than I am and have much bigger problems to worry about.  If you're interested in giving to others this season, here are a couple ways to give:

  • Donate to the Salvation Army.  Growing up, my mom always made sure we had a couple dollars that we could slip into the red kettle on our way out of the store.  It doesn't seem like much, but every little bit adds up.  If you never have cash on you, don't worry!  They accept online donations.
  • I can't write much about this one because it hits too close too home and I'll cry.  Donate to a soldier or military family in need through Operation Christmas Spirit.  My dad was in the Army for 20 years.
  • Okay, apparently all of these are just going to make me cry.  With One Simple Wish, you can help grant a child's wish.  A child who is currently in foster care.  They range from gifts like Lego sets to laptops to help study in high school to plane tickets to be able to see their parents and siblings.
  • Another classic way to give!  Drop off toys at a local Toys for Tots dropoff location.  With all of the sales that happen around this time of the year and gift guides on every corner, you'll certainly be able to find a great toy for a child.
  • If you'd prefer to give locally, I encourage you to find local organizations that are accepting donations for food, money, clothes, toys, etc.  You can even find a local animal shelter and see what they need.


And now that I'm experiencing all the feels, let's talk about how to survive the holidays.  If you're asking, "But Samantha, the holidays are glorious!  Why would I need to survive them if they're fucking amazing?!"  So glad that you asked so I didn't have to force some unsolicited advice onto ya. Don't worry, everything in my survival kit can fit into your favorite bag.

The holidays are expensive.  Follow a budget and use cashback apps.

Personally, I use ebates for almost every purchase.  Even if it's just 1% back.  Money is money is money and it sure as hell adds up.  If you don't believe me, think about all of those "just a quick coffee" stops that you made and ask your wallet how it feels.  Shit adds up.  And guess what.  You probably need a budget.  For life in general, but especially for the holidays because again SHIT ADDS UP.

People ask a lot of questions.  Prepare yourself to answer.

That whole joke about your aunt always asking if you're in a relationship yet is not a joke.  Aunt Carol is going to ask the same goddamn questions every year.  Even after you're married.  Then they just change into awkward questions about when you're going to get knocked up.  Y'all, just prepare yourself to answer.  I'm not saying you need to have a script, but you have to have at least a general idea of what you'll say so you don't scream at Aunt goddamn Carol.

People also say dumb shit.  Get yourself a coping method.

I highly recommend using an app like What's Up to deal with your emotions and get out of the situation for a moment.  They have different techniques like paced breathing, getting grounded through the senses, affirmations, and more.  If you're interested in seeing more about mental health apps, be sure to keep checking my blog because I will eventually post something about them.

Carry around a notebook.  Or you'll forget everything.

Between gift ideas, holidays parties, and thank yous, you need to keep track of a lot of shit.  And really, we all know that you aren't going to remember it without writing it down somewhere.  Keep your notebook with you at all times.  If you can't be trusted with a paper notebook, just use an app.  I prefer to use OneNote for everything because it syncs between my iPhone app and my computer app.

And keep an actual kit in your purse. 

Either buy one or use one of your 1358 ipsy bags that you have lying around the house.  Just me?  Throw in some basics like gum, a mini hair brush, some hair ties, an extra set of stud earrings, cleansing wipes, dry shampoo... basically anything that you may need while you're out.  Pinch Provisions has some cute kits and if you want to make your own, you can also order refills of things like deodorant wipes and stain removing towelettes from their website.
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How and Why You Should Express Gratitude Daily

Thanksgiving has come and gone and although I don't necessarily love the holiday, I'm all for gratitude.  Being grateful for your life and the people and things in it is a great daily practice that can improve your relationships, sleep, physical health, mental health self-esteem, resilience, and more.  Plus, it just feels great to recognize all of the good in your life and truly appreciate it.  Read more about the benefits of gratitude here.
Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

I choose to think that people are naturally grateful and just don't always outwardly or explicitly express their gratitude.  For example, I am incredibly thankful that my boyfriend pays for most of our bills because it means I have to take out fewer student loans.  I don't always express that, though.  And sometimes, the thought doesn't even enter my mind even when he tells me that he just paid a bill.  It's not that I'm not grateful or that I don't want to give him thanks, it's just that I don't always think to do so.  And if I'm "forgetting" about a pretty big and obvious reason to express gratitude, imagine what else I'm forgetting about.

Gratitude isn't always about the obvious or the positive, though.  Using my above example, I can choose to show appreciation and thanks towards my bills because they represent something more than just money being spent.  Bills show that we are able to afford what we want and need.  It shows that we are capable of paying for the clean water, electricity, shelter, and even waste collection that we have access to.  You can go even further and recognize how blessed you are to even have access to these resources and services.

Of course, gratitude doesn't have to go so deep, either.  You can be thankful because someone paid-it-forward while you were getting coffee.  You can express gratitude when you find a nickel on the ground.  You can emphatically tell someone thank you for holding the door open for you.  There is gratitude in every day.  Some days, you may feel as if there is more to be thankful for.  And other days, you may feel as if you're just writing down the same things over and over.  That's okay.  You can write that you're thankful that you're alive every. damn. day.  It doesn't make it any less true and it doesn't mean you don't have anything else to be thankful for.  After days of this, you may all of a sudden remember 30 other things that deserve your gratitude.

There are so many ways to express gratitude.  One way to not only express gratitude but to also hold yourself accountable and be able to revisit your thankfulness is to keep a daily gratitude journal.  You can do this with a pen and paper or with your phone.  There are tons of gratitude apps and journal apps.  I'm still trying to find a favorite, so let me know if you have one that you love!  Of course, you can always just go over your daily thankfulness in your mind, through meditation, through prayer, etc.  You can do this at any time of the day or when you first wake up or you're about to go to sleep.

No matter what you're thankful for or how you decide to express your gratitude, make an effort to recognize all of the abudance in your life.  If this is something that you want to start doing more frequently or routinely, make it a New Year's goal.  Hell, get started on it right now.
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How Do I Host Thanksgiving?

Instead of coming up with a creative title, I figured I could just use my frantic Google searches.  This year, Paul and I are hosting Thanksgiving.  This is our first time hosting a holiday EVER.  I've always pictured myself as the kind of person who would have an impeccably decorated house and gatherings for every holiday on the calendar.  Then I remembered that I'm lazy and introverted AF.


Yet I still volunteered to host Thanksgiving and I'm actually freaking stoked (and terrified)!  I thought I would give you some of the best (and worst) advice that I could.

Don't wait until the last minute.  Or do.
That's what I did.  I wandered through TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods for hours to try to find just a few basic Thanksgiving items.  Decorations, serving trays, disposable dinnerware, that sort of stuff.  Of course, there was only a few Thanksgiving and fall items available because I went shopping two weeks before Thanksgiving.  The good news is that the very few items that were available were on clearance.  The bad news is that I gave up and decided to just decorate for Christmas.

Make a menu. And a cooking timeline.
If you think that you just have to throw a turkey in the oven and open up a can of green beans, you're wrong.  I was wrong.  I didn't realize that every recipe had so many ingredients, especially the ones that were completely homemade.  Nor did I realize that not every recipe goes in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  That's the importance of that cooking timeline.  You need to know when you need to put each dish in and how long it will take to cook.  And if you want to look like you have your shit together, make a printed menu for each place at the table.

Be realistic and true to yourself.
If you don't make pies, don't volunteer to make a fucking pie.  And if you do, but you hate cooking from scratch, just do what you can.  For some reason, we always feel like we need to put on a certain air when we host people.  As if they don't know that we survive solely off of pizza delivery and frozen Trader Joe's entrees.

Figure out who is coming and what they're bringing.
This seems obvious, but I totally forgot to ask if people were bringing anything.  Mostly because I just got wrapped up in my own panic.  But knowing who is coming can be pretty important in planning your menu.  You'll know if you need to cook more or less food and if you need to be aware of any dietary restrictions.  Plus, then you know how much wine you need to buy. 🍷


Plan your outfit.
I know it sounds pretty unimportant in comparison to everything else, but you don't need to worry about anything else.  Just get this shit out of the way so you have it all under control.  I don't care if you decide that you just want to wear leggings and a t-shirt.  At least you know and you don't have to keep thinking about it.

Don't worry about the small, extra details.
I know I just said that you can print menus for each place at the table, but that's not something you HAVE to do or something you even need to worry about.  As long as you have the food and your house is clean, no one is going to care if all of your silverware matches or if you remembered to put out the holiday salt and pepper shakers.  I promise.

There ya have it.  Some of my best advice for hosting Thanksgiving.  Clearly, it's just the beginning.  I'll be sure to add to it as I get some experience under my belt.  Oh, and in case you're curious, here's what's on the menu for my first ever Thanksgiving: turkey breast, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and mini pecan pies.  Paul's parents will be bringing lamb and lasagna and his brother and sister-in-law are bringing stuffing and desserts!  In case you were wondering, I'm most excited about the macaroni and cheese.


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My Latest Obsessions: Everyday Magic and Bakara Wintner

This weekend, I finally made it to Everyday Magic in Durham, NC.  I actually used to live in Durham, but it was pre-woo.  Everyday Magic is an absolutely stunning, badass, creative, inviting metaphysical store that has everything a modern day witch or a part-time spiritualist could possibly need.  Healing crystals, yoni eggs, home decor, beauty care, books, tarot and oracle decks, candles, are spread across the perfectly curated open floor plan.


Y'all, I literally squealed when I walked into the store and I couldn't stop the word vomit.  I kept telling my friend, Rochelle (one of the badass witches of Everyday Magic), and Philip Young, PhD, how happy I was to be there and how in-my-element I truly felt.  I immediately strolled over to the tarot and oracle decks to grab The Lumina Tarot Deck and the Connected and Free Oracle Deck, both by Inner Hue.  I carried them around for about 10 minutes before I reluctantly put them on the counter to start a pile.  I got distracted by all of the shiny crystals and connected to a stunning labradorite palm stone before wandering around to look at the rest of the merchandise.  Of course, I also bought Bakara Wintner's book.

It took everything in me to not open up a new credit card and just buy one of everything.

Between touching every stone and falling in love with quartz singing bowls, I also had my cards read (for the first time!) by Philip Young, PhD, owner of Black Unykorn.  This reading was SO beyond spot-on and actually pretty emotional for me.  I was excited, scared, confused, and thankful.  Philip went above and beyond in my reading.  He even offered some helpful tips for my tarot journey and clarified some confusion I'd had with stalker cards!  I can't wait to share my reading with you.  I also can't thank him enough for such a fantastic reading.


I also wanted to give a huge huge huge shout-out to Rochelle for being so amazing!  Rochelle was at the front desk of the store and helped me locate some of the items I was looking for, like Bakara's book.  She laughed, talked, and shared stories with me while I wandered around the store.  She made me feel so welcomed and comfortable, even though I could not stop talking about how excited I was to be there. I was being such a fangirl and she could have easily ignored me or rolled her eyes.  Instead, she welcomed me into the store with such kindness and understanding.

The phrase that I kept using while walking around the store with my huge smile and glowing warmth was "in my element."  When you walk into Everyday Magic, you can absolutely feel the magic that Bakara Wintner put into this magical retail space.  The excitement that I felt at Everyday Magic was more than just geeking out: it was the feeling that you get when you come home after a long time.  It was an excitement and longing for something that I never knew I was missing.  I haven't read Bakara's book yet, but I have a feeling that WTF is Tarot is going to be just as brilliant.  While I was there, I heard that there may also be a deck in the works.  I just about died.


Basically, I had an absolutely wonderful time at Everyday Magic and I felt so welcomed by the wonderful people who were there.  I was absolutely in my element and I had one of those "I know what I want to be when I grow up" moments.  It was the kind of store that I could spend every afternoon in and never get tired of being there.  If you ever get the chance to visit Durham, go to Everyday Magic.  And then move there so you can go there all of the time.  That's what I plan to do (mostly jk).
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The Best iPhone Apps for Spirituality

spiritual apps for iphone

insight timer

thousands of meditations and mindfulness practices

I think this app will always be my go-to for guided meditation practices.  It's hard to come by a free meditation app, let alone a GOOD free meditation app.  You can choose a guided practice from dozens of topics and interests such as anxiety, sleep, mindful eating, forgiveness, and so much more.  You can also save, rate, and journal about your meditations all in the same app.  If you prefer to practice meditation without guidance, there is also a timer that you can use as a gentle alarm to bring you back to awareness when you're finished.  Download here.

mystic mondays tarot

a virtual, portable tarot deck

Not everyone can carry around their tarot deck.  My bag is so heavy and full that I don't know if I could even fit one in there!  Having a virtual tarot deck with beautiful designs and thorough explanations in the palm of your hand is an easy way to get guidance at any time, regardless of whether or not you even know how to read tarot!  Download here.

moon phase

a simple moon cycle calendar

Moon phases are important to people for a variety of reasons.  Some people track the moon phases in relation to energy levels, gardening, emotions, their menstrual cycle, and so much more.  Some people just think the moon is pretty damn cool.  Regardless, this app is super simple and sleek.  Download here.

spiritual apps for iphone

stone

a modern guide to healing crystals and their properties

Healing crystals were my introduction to the world of woo.  I've always loved gems and stones and I've always been blown away by the fact that the earth can make such beautiful specimens.  This healing crystal app is really simple and beautiful.  You can read about each crystal individually, search for a crystal by name, or sort them by their property.  Download here.

manifestation

a law of attraction app for attracting wishes

To use this app, just set up a few groups of affirmations that match what your intentions are.  When you log onto your app, you have the option to swipe over to focus on your affirmations for 20 seconds at a time.  Do this as often as you'd like to keep yourself reminded of what your affirmations and intentions are.  Download here.

spiritual apps for iphone

vision board

a subconscious vision board for self-programming

I'm not entirely sure how subconscious self-programming works, but I'm into it.  Write up an awesome affirmation and add pictures of what you want to manifest.  Then you simply hit the play button whenever you want to view your subconscious vision board.  Download here.

i am

positive affirmation reminders throughout the day

This is one of the simplest, most uplifting affirmation apps.  Simply check which affirmations you want to see during the day, set up how often you want to see affirmations, and set the start time and end time of when you'll see your affirmations throughout the day.  Random affirmations will show up as a notification throughout the day.  Download here.
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How Smiling Affects Your Mind, Body, and Spirit + A SmileBrilliant Review

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening At Home Review

I've partnered with SmileBrilliant to talk about my teeth whitening experience and to share a GIVEAWAY with you!  They sent me a free whitening kit in exchange for an honest review.  As always, all opinions are my own.  Enter this GIVEAWAY for the chance to win a $139 Smile Brilliant credit.  Just enter your first name and email address to enter the giveaway.  And you can follow them on Instagram and enter your Instagram account name to receive one additional entry!  Good luck!  Before I reviewed my experience with Smile Brilliant, I wanted to talk about the benefits that teeth whitening has on your mind, body, and spirit.  And remember, this is just the surface of all of the amazing benefits!

mind

We actually talk about smiling and how it affects your wellness in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (read more about DBT).  The skill we use is called half-smile.  To practice half-smiling, relax your face from your forehead to eyebrows to mouth to jaw.  Then, turn the corners of your mouth up, just slightly and gently.  When I do this, I feel like I'm kind of smiling with my eyes and the corners of my mouth, but no one can really tell.  Why is this important?  This skill can actually help you deal with intense, negative emotions by signaling your brain to calm down.

body

Now, let's talk about that big beautiful smile you have and how it affects your brain!  And your appearance.  When you smile, your brain releases stress-fighting chemicals.  Not only does it make you feel better, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure!  And when you smile, you also appear more attractive, genuine, and trustworthy to other people.  Why?  Because when people see a smile, the part of their brain that lights up when they receive a reward lights up, which makes them feel great! Learn more about the psychology of smiling HERE.

spirit

When we talk about spiritual health, we aren't just talking about our personal wellness.  We're also talking about connecting with others and the world around us.  I'm sure you've heard that smiling is contagious and it totally is!  Because of an unconscious response that happens in our brains, we automatically smile when we see other people smile.  That helps us feel more connected to the people around us.  Learn more about the psychology of smiling HERE.

I'm wearing my trays in this picture. You can't even tell!

review

Let's just start with the basics.  Smile Brilliant is a personalized at-home teeth whitening system.  There are several simple steps in the process.  First, you receive an impression kit to make molds of your teeth for your trays.  Be really careful and follow all the directions when you create your impressions!  Do NOT wiggle your trays out of your mouth.  I did that and it messed up my trays just a little bit.  Totally my fault.  Next, ship your impressions to the Smile Brilliant laboratory and a few days later, they send back your custom-fitted trays.  Finally, you're ready to whiten your teeth!  All of the instructions are included in your teeth whitening kit.

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening At Home Review

At first, I was a little skeptical of whitening my teeth for 45 minutes to 3 hours at a time, but I realized that I can do pretty much anything #whileiwhiten.  Here are some of the things that I've done #whileiwhiten: yoga, chores, spa night, night time routine, preparing for the next day, homework, blogging, playing with my dog, and more.  I barely noticed my teeth trays because they fit so well.  I whitened my teeth for 45 minutes the first day, 1 hour the next day, 1 hour and 15 minutes the next day, and so on so my teeth can adjust.

I saw results after just 4 sessions!  My teeth looked brighter and my surface stains were removed.  I've really noticed a difference in the corners of my teeth and gums.  Here's my before (top) and after (bottom).  I didn't have a super dramatic transformation, but my teeth look much brighter and I plan on continuing to whiten!  If you want to see some even more amazing results, check out their INSTAGRAM!  Some of the transformations made my jaw drop.

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening At Home Review

Here's a quick pros and cons list to let you know more about my personal experience.

PROS
CONS
Vegan and cruelty-free!   Some gum sensitivity, but that was my fault.
I can do basically anything #whileiwhiten.   The whitening sessions take quite a bit of time.
Affordable and professional quality.
Simple, clear instructions.
Custom trays.

The price of their WHITENING KITS ranges from $139 to $179 (versus $600 to $850 at the dentist), depending on how heavy your stains are and whether or not you get sensitivity gel.  Don't forget, this product has the same quality that you would receive at your dentist.  It was even created and approved by dentists!  The WHITENING KIT includes everything you need make your teeth trays and enough gel for between 9-27 whitening sessions, depending on which option you select.

Loving my bright smile, thanks to Smile Brilliant!

Now go enter the giveaway hosted by Smile Brilliant!  Just enter your name and your email address for the chance to win a $139 Smile Brilliant credit.  Don't forget to follow Smile Brilliant on Instagram for an extra entry!  The giveaway is open until November 13, 2017 and open to residents of the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia.  Good luck!





Tooth Whitening Gel

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Why I Disabled My Blog's Instagram Account 😰

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

You know that feeling that you get when you have so much to do that you don't know where to start? It's the feeling when you're so overwhelmed that you just stop giving a f*ck and decide to do nothing.  That's how I started to feel about blogging and my online presence in general.  And those feelings started to weigh heavy on my happiness and excitement for blogging, which was pretty upsetting when I think about how I started my blog to cope with depression and anxiety.

Between updating my personal accounts and my blog accounts, I started to lose my passion.  I spent so much time worrying about the fact that I wasn't interacting with people from my 3 Instagram accounts and the fact that I didn't know how to theme my Instagram accounts that I just stopped posting.  And yes, I had 3 Instagram accounts... 4 if you count the one that I started for Bodie when we first brought him home.  It was just too much for me.  Plus, Instagram engagement has been shitty for a while anyways.

When I decided to start blogging again and completely start over, I told myself that I would just focus on blogging about my life and my interests because that's what I feel called to talk about.  Then I got distracted by reading posts about all of the stuff that you NEED and all of the things that you HAVE to do and I totally lost focus of what I wanted.  I felt like I had no time or desire to actually blog or post on social media because while I read about the right way to do things, I started to feel like I was just doing the wrong thing.  I felt like I was never going to have "what it takes" to have a successful blog.

Yes, I want a successful blog.  Yes, I want to make money blogging.  Yes, I want to connect with brands.  Yes, I want a recognizable brand.  And I want to reach these goals in a way that feels authentic for myself and my readers.  I also want to form goals that are more concrete and focused than the generic ones that I wrote above.  I want to figure out what I want for myself, my blog, and my life.  Once I feel like I can do those things, I absolutely plan on growing my brand and expanding my social media presence.  Until then, I'm just going to do what I can from only one account on each social media platform.
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The Best True Crime Podcasts

If you enjoy true crime and podcasts, I've got the best post for you! Here are some of the best true crime podcasts that you can access right from your phone.

Oh, podcasts. I’ve been listening to podcasts since I was a junior in college. Back then, I listened to TED talks and Serial and super educational talks. And now I binge on true crime podcasts. From the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, I’m listening to podcasts. While I drive, while I shower, while I clean. Seriously. In honor of October and Halloween and other spooky shit, I thought I would a) confess that I’m fascinated by serial killers and true crime and b) share some of my favorite podcasts. Enjoy! 

The Last Podcast on The Left

I’ve listened to every episode at least 3 times. I’m not even kidding. Y’all, this podcast is a comedy horror podcast so it’s pretty raunchy. I’ve never been so amused and disgusted in my life. And those emotions usually happen in the same 30 seconds, thanks to Henry Zebrowski. Keep in mind that this isn’t just true crime - they also talk about shit like UFOs and magical creatures. Oh, and they hail Satan. A lot. Still, you get a LOT of awesome information on whatever topic they cover.

You’ll like this podcast if: you don’t mind swearing, crude humor, and tangents. And if you don’t get offended easily. Or at all. Ever.

My Favorite Murder

I want to be best friends with these women. They are funny and real and authentic and they don’t try to be anything they aren’t. They warn their listeners upfront that they don’t do extensive research and they don’t always know if their information is correct. They’re just doing what they love, which happens to be talking about gruesome AF murders. I’ve only listened to the first 20 or so episodes so far and they’re so damn quotable and funny. I even wore a badge that says, “Here’s the thing... fuck everybody” at my friend’s bachelorette party in honor of their podcast.

You’ll like this podcast if: you want to feel like you’re hanging out with your best girl friends. And talking about murders. Oh, and you don’t mind unscripted and kind of random podcasts.

If you enjoy true crime and podcasts, I've got the best post for you! Here are some of the best true crime podcasts that you can access right from your phone.

True Crime Garage

True Crime Garage is what it sounds like: two friends drinking beer and talking true crime. If you enjoy beer, you might enjoy listening just for their beer recommendations and ratings. This podcast definitely includes some humor and sarcasm, but it’s pretty tasteful. What I especially love is that they cover not only famous cases or past cases, but also current and often unheard of cases. It’s actually not a bad way to stay informed of crime that’s being investigated right now.

You’ll like this podcast if: you like learning about past and current true crime AND if you’re interested in more than just gory murders.

Generation Why

This podcast is one of my favorites because it’s very calm and informative. They cover very interesting topics, some that are pretty popular and some that I’d never heard of. They aren’t just murder cases, but they’re all mysterious. Like the name suggests, they’re trying to figure out the “why” about what happened. They also throw their opinions in and discuss what they think is going on.

You’ll like this podcast if: you prefer a podcast that seems more formal and scripted, but still conversational and informative!

Alright y'all, leave me some podcast suggestions! 
I'm open to any, but I especially love true crime.

If you enjoy true crime and podcasts, I've got the best post for you! Here are some of the best true crime podcasts that you can access right from your phone.
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Target Fall 2017 Clothing Picks: Everything Under $40!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see site footer for full disclosure.

Sweater from Target (old)

There are only two things that I love in the world more than coffee: Target and fall.  I spent an hour just looking through their women's clothing section.  Not even exaggerating.  As you can see, I have a pretty minimal and neutral style.  In fall, I love wearing plaid, gray, olive, sweaters, vests, and jackets.  Even when I do grab a couple trendy pieces, like off-shoulder or bell sleeves, I still go for neutral colors.  I just thought I would share a few of my top picks... mainly so I could feel like there was a reason for scrolling through their website for an hour when I probably should have been sleeping.  I also included a few outfit photos with some of my favorite pieces that I've worn in the past year.  Where do you enjoy shopping for fall clothes?  What are your favorite fall styles?

Sweater from Target (similar) | Shoes from Target (similar)


Shirt from Target (similar) | Cardigan from Target | Shoes from Target (similar)

Boots from Target

Shirt from Target | Boots from Target (similar)
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FabFitFun Fall Box Review + $10 Off!

This post may contain affiliate links. See full disclosure at the site footer.


The FALL FABFITFUN BOX was so practical in the best way. The name FABFITFUN isn't just clever - it really does describe all of the products that you receive! What I love about FABFITFUN is that the products that they send you are both seasonal and timeless, if that makes sense. For example, the Apple Cider Vinegar hair rinse that I received is trendy, seasonal, practical, and timeless. Apple is totally in season right now, apple cider vinegar has been getting a lot of attention for its uses, and it's something that I can use now and months from now.  Basically, I love FABFITFUN.  Bodie couldn't care less, if you couldn't tell from his expression.

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How to Easily Improve Your Holistic Wellness this Fall

This post contains affiliate links.


At this point, people are back in school and transitioning to their fall clothing. Most of us have already posed with several pumpkin spice lattes. Is there a better time to refocus your energy on your health than when you're already refocusing your energy and transitioning into a new season? I don't think so. Each season is not just its own timespan, but also a time of preparation and transition. Right now, we're layering cardigans on our short-sleeve tees and trading out our pineapple decor for our pumpkins. While we're focusing on our clothing and our home decor, we need to spend some time focusing on our physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. Here is a short list of ways that you can specifically think about your mind, body, and spirit and make improvements as needed. I'll probably add to these as I think of more tips and tricks, so be sure to save this post and check back!

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6 wonderful fall essential oil blends you need to try

This post contains referral links, which means I may receive a little compensation if you purchase an item through my links - at no extra cost to you! This post is not sponsored by Eden's Garden.


Essential oil blends are my sh*t. Seriously. I use essential oils in my diffuser all the time. Sometimes I just throw a bunch of citrus essential oils in my diffuser because they are the best smelling essential oils ever, but most of the time I actually follow essential oil blend recipes so I can get the most benefits possible.  I could go on and on about the benefits of essential oils, but I'm just going to direct you to HUFFPOST. And here's a list of 150 USES FOR ESSENTIAL OILS that EDEN'S GARDEN put together.  They also send THIS LIST in their packages when you purchase from them.
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3 Years with Nexplanon - An Honest Review

Nexplanon is a brand of implant birth control, meaning it's inserted into your arm.  It's a quick, simple procedure that can be done by your primary care provider or gynecologist, depending on whether or not they're trained to do so.  Once the Nexplanon implant is inserted, you're protected from pregnancy for up to 3-4 years.  After the 3-4 years, your doctor removes the insert by cutting a small slit in your arm and pulling it out.  I had a lot of questions about the implant birth control and thought other women might as well.  I recently had my first implant removed and my second inserted, so I feel that I can offer some information from the beginning to the end.

Have any questions about Nexplanon, the implant birth control? I'd love to share my experience with you!  On my blog, you'll find a few questions that I had before I got my Nexplanon (the first time - I'm on round 2!) and the answers that I've discovered over the past 3 years.  Check it out!

does Nexplanon hurt?

Yes and no.  I experienced no pain when the implant was inserted the first time.  When it was removed, I experienced quite a bit of discomfort and pain.  If I'm being honest, I strongly considered not getting it reinserted because I couldn't stand the idea of going through the process again.  Don't let that scare you off, though.  Even though it was uncomfortable and a bit painful, there were no complications, the entire procedure still only took a few minutes, and my removal was apparently pretty unusual.  My doctor said it's usually a pretty quick and relatively painless procedure.
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Today's Unsolicited Advice: How to Love Yourself

This post is sponsored and inspired by Tobi. I received the dresses below in exchange for a feature on my blog and my honest opinion.

dress c/o Tobi | boots from Target (similar here)

"I don't remember the last time that I had a truly negative thought about myself."  When those words fell out of my mouth - words that I didn't expect - my entire body and soul smiled.  And it's true.  Sure, I make the occasional comment about my thighs or feeling dumb, but I don't mean it and I correct it almost immediately.  I've worked really f*cking hard to love myself and it's not always easy.  We live in a society that would prefer that you engage in self-deprecation and downplay your successes, skills, and positive emotions.

But you deserve to shout from the rooftops how much you love yourself and how f*cking amazing you truly are.

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September 2017 Goals + Affirmations

Better late than never, am I right?  I mean, it's not my fault that September started before I was ready!  I always go back and forth about posting goals posts because whenever I'm writing it, a bunch of annoying thoughts run through my head...

"Does anyone even care?"
"Does anyone even read these posts?"
"Am I even going to come back to this post?"
"Shit, do I even have any goals?"
"What if I just post a picture of Bodie?"

Needless to say, I just went for the post this time and decided that if I forget about it or no one reads it, I just don't keep doing it.  Or I do.  We'll see if I even notice when October shows up. 😂


Since I'm a huge fan of holistic living, I decided that I would focus on one goal in each chosen area of my holistic health.  I've also decided that my goals will only be attainable during this month, realistic for me to reach, and positive.  That means I'm not going to say that I'll run a marathon for my physical health goal and I also won't tell myself that I need to "stop" or "get rid of" something.  They also won't start with "I need to" or "I should."  Instead, I'll use phrases like, "I get to" or "I want to."    I also decided that I would add affirmations to accompany each goal.  Now that I've laid the ground rules, here are my goals and affirmations for September 2017:
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5 Ways to Improve Your Mood Today

This is a sponsored post.  I received a free product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.  I did not receive any other form of compensation for this post.

I've openly talked about my personal mental health story on my blog.  I don't think I've been entirely clear about the fact that mood is always variable, even when you feel like you've got your emotions under control.  In the free newsletter I emailed yesterday, I shared a story that explains my most recent episode of feeling downhearted.  I was in low spirits.  I also knew that I wanted to feel better.  The problem is, you don't always know how to feel better.  And when you're upset, it's more difficult to think about or do things that will improve your mood.

tobi, t shirt dresses, day dresses, casual dresses, dresses for work, comfortable dresses, tobi reviews, tobi dresses
dress c/o tobi | utility vest (similar herehere, & here) | ankle boots (similar herehere, & here)

Today, I'm sharing my favorite ways to feel better even when I'm feeling down.  Remember, I'm not your therapist and I'm not offering you any professional guidance.  I'm simply sharing my experiences and the techniques that I use that work for me.  If you need professional mental health and you're experiencing negative emotions that feel like they're more than feeling "blue" or "down," I highly recommend seeking professional help!
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6 Free, Fun Ways to Learn About Your Personality

One thing I've always been drawn to is personality tests or information about your personality. There's something so fun about learning more about who you are and what your skills, likes, dislikes, and passions might be.  Of course, I think that any personality test - no matter if it's based on psychology or planets - is flawed.  These personality tests were created to explain billions of people.  So like I say with most things - take what you want, leave what you don't want.  Some of it isn't meant for you.  At the very least, these personality tests are great reflection tools.  It really helps you to say, "Oh, I'm totally comfortable in social situations," or "Actually, I hate being the center of attention."  I've put together a small list of free personality tests that will help you learn more about yourself.  The first three are based in psychology while the last three are more woo woo.  Still, they're all fun and I believe there's room for a little bit of both.

16PERSONALITIES
The Myers-Briggs personality test is one of the most popular personality tests that I know of. 16Personalities is a free version of this test that tells you plenty of information related to your type. Be as honest with yourself as you can when you answer these questions.

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How Home Organization + Cleanliness Affect Your Wellbeing


I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who always kept the house clean.  It was by no means minimalist, but it was tidy and we (almost) always knew where everything was.  When I went to college and no one told me to fold my laundry and put my dishes in the dishwasher, any bit of cleanliness went right out the dirty, streaked window.  And then my depression got the best of me and I was fatigued and apathetic.  I never cleaned and I couldn't have cared less.  Of course, it all just got worse.  The less I cleaned, the less I cared.  And the less I care, the less I cleaned.

Never once did it cross my mind that maybe - just freaking maybe - I could have improved everything else, like my mood and thoughts, by just picking up and cleaning.

Our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors all affect each other.  If we think that we're not good at something, we're not going to get any better at it and we're going to feel pretty lousy.  If we can change that thought, we can actually work to improve and to feel better.  Even if you don't all of a sudden master whatever you were trying to do, you'll still improve and it's a lot better than the alternative of pouting around the house.

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7 BEST FREE FITNESS + HEALTH APPS

This post contains affiliate links.

I did a thing.  I joined a gym.  Anyone who knows me in real life may be a little confused or surprised by this because I'm basically sedentary.  I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had neglected my physical health for years because I just assumed that being naturally skinny meant that I was healthy.  Obviously, I was completely wrong.


So I've changed my idea of healthy and I've decided that I need to make my physical health a priority.  But I don't just use the gym.  There are days when you don't want to drag your ass to the gym.  There are days when you have a little extra energy and want to continue your workout at home.  And of course, there are times when you can't get to the gym because you're swamped or you're out of town.  That's where fitness and health apps come in.  You can find an app for just about anything and you can usually find multiple apps.  Here are 7 of the best, free fitness and health apps that you can download and begin using today.
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BEDTIME ROUTINES & SLEEP HYGIENE

I've included an audio version of this blog post for your convenience!  Let me know if you prefer the audio or written versions and why.  Thanks!



Raise your hand if you've been told or read somewhere that having routines is super important for you.  Keep your hand up if you actually know why this is true.  Honestly, I would have put my hand down before I decided to actually look at the science behind habits.  Sounds like a snoozefest, am I right?  I hope so because I decided to really hone in on sleep habits and sleep hygiene.

sunrise alarm clock, bedtime routine, sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene includes all of the things that you do throughout the day that affect your sleep.  Exercise, sunlight, caffeine, room temperature, and routines can affect your sleep negatively or positively.  For example, going outside and basking in the sun between 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM can improve your sleep that night.  10 minutes of aerobic exercise per day can also improve your sleep.  Taking long naps or drinking caffeine later in the day can disrupt your sleep.
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4 THINGS TO DO ON YOUR BIRTHDAY FOR YOUR BEST YEAR YET

New Year's Eve is cool and all, but that isn't really the first day of everyone's new year.  It's a way we can collectively celebrate another year around the Sun, but your new year starts on your birthday.  Today is my 24th birthday and the beginning of another new year for me!  Apparently, that means that I want to make a shit ton of lists?  And eat cake, of course.  Everything that I'm suggesting is stuff that can be done anytime, but having one day a year that you remember to do these things can help you actually do them.

what works and what doesn't

You have a lot of things that are worth celebrating, but there's also the possibility that not everything in your life is perfect.  If you aren't happy with your job, promise yourself that you're going to look for and find a new job during the next 365 days.  If you want to practice more yoga each week, look up a studio or find an app that will keep you motivated.  Don't forget to remind yourself what's working, too.  If you stopped eating meat and you found positive changes, keep meat out of your diet.  If you found the secret to hacking the Instagram algorithm, keep hacking it!  What is working is just as important as what isn't working.
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WHAT'S A VISION BOARD + MY VISION BOARD REVEAL



Visualization has been popping up everywhere in self-care, manifestation, and goal-setting articles.  Generally, I picture visualization as using your mind to really picture what you want and how you'll feel when you reach your goals.  Sometimes, that's actually difficult to do because you have so much going on in your mind, you're tired or stressed, or maybe your third eye chakra needs some healing.
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These 5 Phrases Will Change Your Money Mindset

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a little compensation if you purchase an item through my links - at no extra cost to you! Don't worry, I only share products that I love or think you'll love.

Until very recently, I saw money as a very limiting, necessary evil in my life.  All I knew was that I didn't have enough and I could never keep it in my wallet.  My money was gone before it hit my bank account, but I couldn't tell you where it went.  When I read UNLEASH YOUR INNER MONEY BABE, and manifested $1,000 in just 3 days, I finally learned that money is energy.  Energy is attracted to you by the law of attraction and manifestation, which means you can manifest this energy through the simple principle that "like attracts like."  When you receive this energy by having positive thoughts that confirm your abundance, you have to be appreciative and purposeful.


Here are several simple phrases or keywords that you can change to help you improve your relationship with money:

BUDGET vs PURPOSE
I've always felt restricted by this word.  It was a piece of paper that told me what I can and cannot do with the money that I earned.  When I wrote "Money Purpose" instead of "Budget," I felt like I was in control with my money.  I wasn't limiting myself.  I was directing my money to the areas that needed it most.  When I gave my money purpose instead of limiting my money, it was a much more pleasant way of assigning uses for my money.

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