2017 - The Life You Love

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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Eating is a Habit and a Mindset

As a little bit of background, I've struggled to take care of my physical health for years.  I didn't drink enough water, eat enough fruits and veggies, exercise, eat on a schedule, or eat enough calories.  Instead, I chugged a lot of coffee and soda, snacked on candy and potato chips, told myself I didn't need to exercise because I was skinny, never ate breakfast, rarely ate lunch, and tended to binge on snacks after dinner.

I convinced myself that I could do anything I wanted to when it came to food and exercise because I was skinny.  And skinny somehow equaled healthy in my mind.  I would literally go days without drinking water or even looking at a vegetable, but it was fine because I liked the number on the scale and I liked how I looked in the mirror.


Recently, I asked my therapist about my eating habits because I was actually feeling pretty concerned with my habits.  That's when she reminded me that eating, just like anything else, really is a habit.  Not only that, but it's totally connected to how you feel and what you think.  We talked about the basics of what we know about habits, such as:

  • It's easier to replace a habit than to completely stop a habit.
  • It takes time to change your habits (a lot of people will tell you 21 days, but there's research that says it can take up to 200ish days!).
  • You will feel uncomfortable while changing your habits because it's abnormal for your body.

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What Holistic Living Means to Me


The holistic movement that you find when you Google "holistic living" or "holistic health" seems to suggest that you have to be a paleo vegan and you can't use any manufactured cleaning products.  That kind of shit.  If that's what you're into, you go girl.

I'm not into it.

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Benefits of Drinking Tea + My Daily Tea Schedule

Every time I see my psychiatrist or my primary care provider, they tell me to stop drinking so much caffeine.  I'm a little sensitive to it and I probably drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day, but it was negatively affecting my sleep, my anxiety, and even my concentration.  Having jittery energy is not better than having low energy.  I finally gave in and now I'm drinking maybe 4-5 cups of coffee a week and 2-4 teas per day.  I will still chug Starbucks on particularly exhausting days, though!  These aren't the only benefits of drinking tea and they aren't benefits that are only experienced by me.  There has been plenty of research and studies done about the health benefits of tea.  You're bound to find the right tea for you.  I've linked the teas that I mention in my post.  It's part of an affiliate ad for Amazon, which means I do receive a small profit if you purchase through my Amazon affiliate link, at no additional cost to you!  Affiliates help support this blog and my infatuation with tea.


BENEFITS OF DRINKING TEA
  • Drinking 4 cups of tea help keep your stress hormones in check, which means your skin and bloating also stay in check.
  • Green tea prevents high cholesterol.  They recommend 5 cups a day!
  • Oh, those antioxidants!  They're present in almost all teas and they prevent things like blindness.
  • Tea is an anti-inflammatory drink.  Inflammation is linked to SO many illnesses and diseases, from arthritis to depression to the common cold.
  • It's good for your heart and brain!  It's been linked to reduced risk of stroke, dementia, and cardiovascular disease.  It's also been linked to higher levels of focus, attention, and concentration.
  • It also helps protect against diseases commonly associated with aging, like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
  • Less caffeine means less jitteriness and possibility of sleep problems.
  • It's hydrating and if you don't add anything to it, it's usually calorie free!
  • Drinking tea may help prevent a variety of cancers.
  • Green tea can actually act as protection against UV rays!
  • There are a wide variety of teas and flavors, which means there are also a wide variety of benefits.

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How to Get Shit Done (When You Really Don't Want To)

Here's the thing: not all of us have endless amounts of energy or motivation or productivity.  And there are days when we can't even bring ourselves to fake it until we make it.  There are people like me who, honestly, have problems with energy, motivation, productivity, procrastination, and following through.  We would much rather relax and stay reserved, but that doesn't mean we don't still want the results that we believe we deserve.  We've got the ideas and we've got the intentions, but nothing ever comes out of them.


Okay, but how do we make that lifestyle work for us?

First, I want you to take a few minutes and answer these questions.  Write this down.  Pen and paper.
  1. On an average day, how much energy do you have?  Use a scale of 1-10 and explain why you chose that number.
  2. Of that energy, how much energy can you devote to things you desire or want to do versus things you have to do?  Use percentages.
  3. On an average day, how much time do you use for things you have to do, things you want to do, and rest?  Use percentages.
  4. How can you best use your energy and time to see results without draining your energy and time?  Write whatever comes to mind, without judgment.

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Free Printable Wall Art + Making Graphics on Your Phone

Sweet Kristine, at My Little Box of Tricks, commented on one of my quote posts on Instagram and said that she would love that quote as a printable.  I loved the idea of making some wall art for y'all and jumped right in.  If you'd like to print any of the quotes, just click here and download them from my Google Drive.  I've posted them all below for you to preview, but first I wanted to share the app that I use to create ALL of my graphics for my blog and social media.

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PoshVoxBox Review of Over $200 of Free Products + How You Can Get Your VoxBox


I received all of these products from INFLUENSTER for free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any other way.  If you're not familiar with Influenster, it's a website for consumer reviews and product discovery.  They send out TONS of boxes with free products and they also offer a lot of virtual boxes that contain coupons.  They also hold a lot of contests so you can win even more free products!  I've been an INFLUENSTER member for years and about a year ago I started receiving luxury voxboxes with products from companies like  Estee Lauder, Bite Beauty, and Marc Jacobs.  Of course, I've also received boxes with products from companies like ecotools and L'Oreal, which have been just as amazing!  If you're on Influenster and you're not getting the "big" boxes, make sure you're on there writing reviews, filling out your snaps, and completing the tasks for your boxes.  If you want the products, you gotta put in the effort!  If you're not on INFLUENSTER, but you're interested in learning more and receiving free products for review, click THIS LINK to sign up!

Now, let me tell you about this amazing box that EVERYONE wanted!  Also, look for the bold and italicized text at the end of each review.  It has information about how you can get these products with discounts, rewards points, and even cash back!  I've linked every product and posted their retail cost.
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My Mental Health Story

Just a quick warning: Although my story does not have any specific trigger warnings that I can think of, it may bring up memories or feelings that are difficult to deal with.  If that happens, please stop reading and take care of yourself.  If you feel like you need professional help, please seek it.  I cannot and will not offer you professional services.


I'm sharing my story for several reasons.
  1. The stigma surrounding mental health disorders has to go.  It prevents people from getting help and it makes others feel ashamed for their experiences.
  2. The more that we talk about real mental health experiences, the more we can learn about how to help ourselves and others.
  3. Even though no two stories are the same, I hope that people who have stories that are similar to mine will feel inspired to seek help in their own ways and even reach out for support.
  4. For this blog to focus on mental health and holistic wellness, you have to understand where I'm coming from.
Before you read my experience, though, I want you to remember that it is just that... it's only one person's experience.  This post is not meant to be medical advice and should not be taken as such.

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How I Manifested $1,000 In 3 Days + How You Can, Too

Click here to buy the book on Amazon. 
Click here to join the Facebook group, and over 12,000 members, for free!

This post contains affiliate links.  I may receive compensation if you purchase products using my links.  Thank you for supporting The Life You Love!



Before you begin reading, I just wanted to let you know that I also created an audio recording/podcast for this blog post.  It has slightly different wording, but basically the same message.  I just wanted to offer an alternative way to get my message for people who connect better with voices and audio!  Let me know if you read my blog post or listening to the audio.  If you did listen to the audio, please let me know what you think of this new addition!
Manifestation: it seems like a popular buzzword lately! But it's more than just that.  It's a positive mindset that helps you achieve your goals and receive everything your heart desires.  Seriously, it works.  I actually manifested $1,000 in just three days using Unleash Your Inner Money Babe!  Check out my blog post to find the (affiliate) link to the book and find out how you can manifest everything you desire.

what is money manifestation?

The best way that I know to describe it is like praying and asking for help. When you pray, you ask God or your Higher Power for something, you promise that you're willing to work for it, you show how dedicated you are to receiving it, and then you tell God that it's in His hands.  That's how manifesting is, but I believe it comes from the Universe. I'm a spiritualist and I believe EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE in the Universe is connected to each other.  When you set your intentions to manifest something, you are showing the Universe that you truly want what you're manifesting and you truly trust the Universe to take care of you in the way that is best for you.
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7 Positive Affirmations for Bloggers

WHAT ARE AFFIRMATIONS?
Affirmations come in many forms, both internal and external.  Sometimes you have a positive interaction with someone and it reminds you that you are a friendly person and people like to be around you.  Sometimes you see something that you take as a sign that you're on the right path and the Universe is looking out for you.  Sometimes you simply tell yourself something that positively affirms what you're doing or thinking.  I would argue that positive self-affirmations are the BEST form of affirmation because they don't rely on anyone else, you have control over them, and you can use them at any time and in any situation.

WHY USE AFFIRMATIONS?
I would say that this quote pretty much covers why we should use affirmations:

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4 Reasons Your Beach Vaca is Good For You

As if you even needed another reason to go to the beach..

After a quick weekened trip to Ocean Isle Beach, NC, I was feeling inspired to share some benefits of the beach with y'all.  If you don't have access to the beach, don't stop reading because I have suggestions for you, too!  If you do, you'll just want to go ahead and pack your bags.  Besides the fact that the beach is simply gorgeous, it can be amazing for every area of your holistic health.

NEGATIVE IONS, POSITIVE RESULTS

Negative ions are freakin' awesome.  You can't sense them, but they're abundant when you're at the beach.  What makes negative ions so amazing is that they can elevate your mood and energy, and decrease your stress.  They can also be beneficial for people with depression with very few - if any - side effects.  Negative ions also increase oxygen levels in your brain, which means you'll feel more awake and aware when you're surrounded by them.  Read this article if you're interested in learning more.

Negative ions are often produced by running water.  That means being by a waterfall or even taking a shower can produce some similar effects! You can also get the benefits of negative ions from a Himalayan salt lamp.  I never turn mine off.
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