When Life Gets in the Way…

Wow! It is absolutely amazing how quickly time can fly when you’re in a caught up in the Summer haze. Looking back, I guess I could pin point when the madness started and that would be after I returned from Hawaii. Truly, that’s when I started getting sick. I thought I was on the fast track – my exciting new job in North Carolina, my boyfriend finally getting his release date and my health on the up swing! Think again…

I don’t think I will ever be able to forget that phone call. After having a MRI on my spine, my doctor informed my that my transverse myelitis had returned. This villain of a disease had taken so much from me before – my hair {thanks to treatment} and my ability to walk. After being admitted into the hospital with so many unanswered questions, all we could think to say was “at least they caught it early.” Comforting, right? Moments like this will make your fast track come to halt and you’re left feeling helpless, angry, and lost. I have always tried to be a positive person – the girl who views the world as her oyster, a believer in everything happening for a reason, always sipping from the glass half full – while finding hope in any obstacle.

Staying in tune with my insane medical history – transverse myelitis {TM} is a rare disease. Frankly, there isn’t much research out there and course of treatment is a fine line. Living this life is enough to make someone lose their self. Having your legs tingle with too much physical activity and the most recent side effect – my hands are tingling too. This feeling of not having any control of your body is mind numbing and indescribable. I would never wish this feeling or sickness upon my worse enemy.

My life is currently run my a treatment of prednisone and chemotherapy, in “hope” to reverse the damage done to my body. Just this week my hair has started falling out. I know that means I need to start looking to wigs to hide what TM has taken from me, but “at least they caught it early” {right?}. I returned to work pretty soon after getting discharged from the hospital and luckily, my life seems fairly normal from that outside. One thing that has been steady throughout this process is my faith and my family. Without these two things, I wouldn’t be able to put a smile on my face everyday and find hope in any situation when life gets in the way.

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Fab Find: Stacy Brown Designs

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I can’t point my finger on the moment that I discovered Stacy Brown Designs on Instagram, but I have been swooning over her lovely work ever since! Bold colors, gorgeous script and details to die for – Stacy Brown certainly has a gift when it comes to creating custom designs for her customers. From hand painted bangles to keepsake picture frames, there are so many reasons why Stacy Brown Designs is today’s fab find! Here are a few of my absolute favorites from her shop…I see the Sparkle Party Tray in my future!!

Like the true Southern lady that she is, Stacy believes that monogramming is a way of life, not simply a hobby. {I’ll just add that to the list of reasons that I adore her!} Foremost, I am a huge supporter of small businesses and purchasing products made in our great nation. I strongly encourage you to show your own support of American made products and check out Stacy’s shop! Prepare to burn your plastic, because trust me, you’re going to love it all!

Happy Shopping!

Fab Find: Five Beach Must Haves

I am fit to be tied with all of this beautiful warm weather we’ve been blessed with in Virginia! Without a doubt, my mind has been consumed with Summertime and beach adventures. Today’s Fab Find is inspired by just that and hosts some of my absolute favorite must-haves of a day at the beach!

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  1. Cotton Snaps. A modern version of your standard croakies, this must-have is magnetic and won’t mess up those adorable beach waves you worked so hard to create! I first purchased a pair last year and after getting sun soaked, I couldn’t wait to purchase another this season. From Presidential to Seersucker, Cotton Snaps need to be in your beach bag this Summer!
  2. Monogram Floppy Hats. Because who doesn’t love a fashionable way to protect your scalp and hair from the damaging sun?! Marley Lilly has by far the best selection of monogram floppy hats in any color that you could possible imagine. My personal favorite has to be the Derby Hat – Floppy Light Aqua Outline. Aqua goes with just about any monogram thread color and will look super swanky poolside.
  3. Maui Babe. First off, I can’t believe that I am sharing one of my biggest tanning secrets; secondly, it really isn’t a secret, but this product is heaven! Oddly enough, my boyfriend introduced me to Maui Babe last Summer when I went to visit him in Hawaii. I was a bronzed goddess after day one and as you can image, completely hooked! Now, this product has become my go-to tanning lotion and I couldn’t imagine laying out without it. {Please stay protected against skin cancer and  remember to Practice Safe Tanning!}
  4. Beach Spiker. Imagine that you just made an icy cocktail on the beach and you set your cup down in the sand for just one moment. When you crave your beverage and pick up your glass, your hands (and basically everything around you) become smothered in sand. Best way to prevent this? Purchase a beach spiker from Etsy or your local boutique to save your self and your cocktail from being consumed with a sandy coat.
  5. Moroccan Oil. I try not to complain about how hot my full head of thick hair makes me on a day at the beach. However, once I dive into the salty sea or cloudy river my hair becomes one big knot! I have learn to combat this tangled mess with lathering my mane with Moroccan Oil before taking part in water activities. This product has saved my hair so many times it is unreal and I couldn’t imagine a day at the beach without it.

I hope today’s Fab Find has you ready to fill your beach bag with lots of Summer goodies! Together these must-haves will make the perfect beach day and will turn you into the mermaid we all secretly long to be. Enjoy!

Secrets of an Anonymous Tweeter

After yesterday’s post on 32 Things That Makes Me Happy, I found a little inspiration to share something most people do not know about me: I was an antonymous tweeter. I’m sure that many of you follow a parody account or another an anonymous user that’s relatable to your life, but do you really understand the grunt work behind running that type of account? Well, I can honestly say that I do and it was one of the most emotionally draining things I have ever done.

It began when my boyfriend joined the Army. None of my friends or family could possibly understand what I was going through when my love of five years was shipped out to boot camp. I searched and searched for a way to connect with other girls who I could share my experience with, and oddly enough I found it on Twitter. Using the hashtags #milso and #milsoproblems, I opened doors to a whole new world that many of you probably have no idea exists. After connecting and forming friendships with other military significant others (MilSOs), I decided it was high time I create my own anonymous Twitter account.

After months creating my account and gaining well-over 1,000 followers I became a support system for other girls new to the military lifestyle. Each morning I would design inspirational tweets. Throughout the day I’d share my own battles with finding strengthen in being away from my significant other. Each night I would end the day with hope that tomorrow is a new start and they were one day closer to seeing their love. All the while, I would constantly respond to messages that flooded my inbox to help other girls get through the worst part of a long distance relationship – the first few months.

Maybe it’s just me, but I loved every minute of knowing that I was helping another person overcome the trials and tribulations of military relationships. I had no idea how time consuming and draining it could be – it takes a truly special person to be an anonymous tweeter. Being a full time college student and working part time put ended up putting my Twitter account on the back burner. From tweeting all day to sporadically, I felt like I was doing a disservice to the MilSO world. And then one day during my final weeks of my Senior year of collage and after months of running my account, I just stopped. I found that my own emotions were running high each time I logged on and I couldn’t find the time to continue.

If you are thinking of or are currently running an anonymous Twitter account, please know what you are in for and how much your followers depend on you. Depending on the content of your account, you can mean so much to so many people even though they have no idea who you truly are. Sometimes, connecting with a stranger helps people reveal their real thoughts and feelings of their current situation.

 

32 Things That Make Me Happy

I thought that I would spice up my usual blog post with something a little personal! What better way to know someone than having a list of 32 things that make them happy? Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything either! Hopefully y’all will find this as interesting as my regular posts! Enjoy!

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  1. Living My Dreams
  2. Every Little Thing About My Boyfriend
  3. My Family
  4. Sitting on the Porch Drinking a Bud Light
  5. Summer Nights with Good Friends
  6. Red, Red Wine
  7. Weddings!
  8. My Planner! {Can’t live without it!}
  9. Puppies
  10. Nike Shorts – Otherwise Known as Norts
  11. Sushi
  12. Crisp Fall Weather
  13. Pinterest
  14. Nail Polish
  15. Graduation is in LESS Than a Month! Eek!
  16. Alabama Football
  17. Reading on the Beach
  18. True Friends
  19. Sunday Brunch
  20. Happy Hour
  21. Being Southern
  22. Date Nights with My Love
  23. Wine tours in Charlottesville, Virginia
  24. Shopping
  25. Lilly Pulitzer
  26. Freshly Made Guacamole
  27. Christmas!
  28. Cowboy Boots
  29. Adventures with My Sister
  30. Icing!
  31. Candles
  32. Party Planning

 

A Kentucky Derby Celebration

All Southern ladies know the best part of Spring (besides the warmer weather!) is heading to the horse races! Whether it’s the Carolina Cup, Kentucky Derby or the Foxfield Races – who doesn’t love an excuse to purchase a new Lilly dress and show-stopping hat??

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If you’re like me this year, the only race you’ll see is the Derby on television, but why let that stop you from partaking in the festivities. Hosting a Derby party is a great way to bring your best gals together, put on your Sunday best and  indulge in one to many Mint Juleps!

Here’s a few simple ways to celebrate the Derby:

  • Send the Invites. The best way to set the tone for your Derby party is through the invitations. Whether your theme is a “Run for the Roses” or “Down and Derby,” you’ll want to set the stage for your guests from atmosphere to attire. Honestly – it’s better to be upfront with your guests so they know if they should put their drinking cap on or remain poised to perfection. {Remember the Kentucky Derby is May 3!}
  • Set the Dress Code. Okay, let me be frank – if you aren’t prepared for your backyard or home to be full of seersucker and pastels, then don’t throw a party themed around a horse race. It’s all about the bow ties, dress blazers, Lilly dresses, and big hats! Be sure to include this fine print on your invites to bypass any confusion.
  • Crafting the Perfect Mint Julep. If bar-tending isn’t your forte, find a friend who can craft the perfect mint julep! Southern Living has the perfect recipe (in my opinion) to making this must-have cocktail. To view this recipe, browse here!
  • Taking Bets. Because who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? Create a pool and have your guests bet on their favorite horse – even if it’s chosen because of the horse’s unique name! Remember, it doesn’t have to be pricey but if it does, oh well 🙂
  • Quick Bites. I was brought up with the hostess mentality that no Southern gathering is complete without pimento cheese or cheese straws! Make (or order!) both or only one – you can’t go wrong either way. Some of my other favorite quick bits are single servings of Shrimp and Grits, Petite Fried Chicken and Waffles, and Mini Kentucky Hot Browns! {Click on the quick bits to be linked to the recipe!}
  • Décor. Whatever your theme maybe let the décor do the talking. Keep it simple with red roses and mini trophys or go all out with DIY crafts to personalize your decorations. Don’t forget – taking the party outside for lawn games is always a fun option, horseshoes anyone?

Happy Planning!

Must Read Monday: Fifty Shades Trilogy

For starters, yes I did read “them.” In fact, I read each book front to back; and honestly, I would read it again! Before you jump to conclusions, please listen to what I have to say about the Fifty Shades Trilogy. I love these books as a whole. Sure, as a Southern Baptist, the first book was painful (pun intended) to get through. However, as I kept reading a storyline developed and the plot thickened throughout each book. The  more I read, the more I became invested.

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If you’re a follower of my Must Read Mondays then you know I am a sucker for books that become movies. The Fifty Shades Trilogy is set to begin its debut February 2015 and I cannot wait! The romance, mystery, darkness and suspension drives this series to the successful story it is today. If you haven’t started reading these novels yet I highly suggest you do so. Enjoy 🙂

The Quarter Life Crisis

I am 24-years-old, in my “prime” as some would say. In less than three months, I will be graduating with my master’s degree and the world is my oyster. I could take a job hundreds of miles away, I could start my own company, I could travel the world…the options are limitless. Many people, around my age, are consumed with the hustle and bustle of life, trying to aspire to be the best person they can ultimately be. But, when do we become so consumed to “what could be” that feel overwhelmed and gravitate toward things that will bring us the most security and comfort? This is the idea of having a quarter life crisis.

It’s always been my personal goal to achieve big dreams and not settle for less. Now, the opportunity to do those things is knocking on my door and I am at a cross road. Everyday I wonder if I should take a big job in the city or move back to my hometown and wait for my significant other to return from the military. There are so many positivities and negatives to each that it has driven me to insanity! I just want someone  to say this is what you need to do and you will achieve goal A, B, and C. In reality, I know it isn’t that easy and will never be, but boy do I wish it was!

A quarter life crisis is not the end all – be all existance to our very being. It’s a fact that no one wants to make a wrong decision or take the wrong opportunity and simply settle for a life of “what ifs’.” Overcoming the quarter life crisis is a leap of faith; like turning in that final exam or getting over a bad breakup or even dealing with grief. We all go through it and I believe there are two things you can do to take this crisis by the horns: encourage and inspire.

To encourage others you’re helping others to take the plunge and accept that big job in Atlanta or  start up their own consulting firm. In essence, you are encouraging them to not be scared to take a chance and that settling for status quo just isn’t acceptable. Knowing that being a hypocrite simply isn’t suitable, this has encouraged me to do the same. Be encouraged, be vulnerable and know that it’s okay to not have it all together.

To inspire we can drive a sense of motivational success in ourselves and others. Whether you choose to be a leader or follower, inspiration comes from so many angles that we just have to open our eyes to all that life has to offer. By not letting the idea of a quarter life crisis consume you, you’ll be able to make decisions based on what you want and be the inspiration for others as well. Take a step back from the big picture mentality and look at each puzzle piece in front of you.

Life is full of twists, turns, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and dreams. There’s no such thing as perfect timing and you’ll never know if something if worth it unless you do it. We hold the ability to encourage and inspire ourselves by being living testimonies.

A Hawaiian Escape

Smitten, overjoyed, ecstatic, head-over-heels, thrilled – are just some of the words that come to mind, when I think about my upcoming trip to Hawaii!

One of the perks of my love being in the military is that he is stationed in one of the most beautiful islands on Earth! Now that the very last detail of my trip is booked, my mind is completely consumed about being there with him and enjoying everything that Hawaii has to offer. I am lucky that this will be my second trip and I am counting down the days (105 days left!). I couldn’t help but share a few of my favorite moments from last year’s trip and I know you’ll be swooning over them as much as I do! Enjoy!!

125 Years in the Making

This time four years ago my body became inflicted with pain and my legs grew so weak that I had to crawl up the stairs to get to my bedroom. Being in college in Alabama, I remember being so scared not knowing what could possible be wrong with me. Little did I know, during those painful moments what would be in store for the upcoming months. Upon flying home to Virginia I was immediately sent to this hospital were my life became consumed with tests, misdiagnosis and doctors who’s faces offered a sympathetic look that meant one thing: I wouldn’t walk again.

After weeks of simply laying in a bed, motionless from the waist down, a doctor came in with the answer I had been waiting for. The last option to try to cure the autoimmune disease attacking my spine would require an aggressive form of chemotherapy and a move to Sheltering Arms Hospital. By the grace of God, my Mom never told me I was going to Sheltering Arms to learn how to live my life in a wheelchair and there wasn’t hope that my legs would move again. From day one of physical therapy I was determined to walk again and willing to push as hard as I could, because I was not willing to give up the promising future I believed I could have. And then one night, my leg moved.

From that night forward, I worked even harder to gain my strength back and learn how to walk again. Less than six weeks later I walked out of Sheltering Arms. While my story has been aired in local television commercials and even a documentary, I cannot say that it is completely my story. Without the hard work of my physical therapist, my amazing doctors, motivation from the Sheltering Arms team, the nurses who became my best friends and my faithful family, I would not have a story. I owe so much of who I am today to all of those people who motivated me to learn how to walk again to kept me sane during times when I wanted to give up.

Tomorrow evening I will be attending Sheltering Arm’s 125th Anniversary Celebration with fellow former patients, doctors, physical therapists, and other members of the Richmond community. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that I was small part of this wonderful hospital’s history and I look so forward to celebrating finding the Power to Overcome.