Ten Ways to Practice Gratitude this November

November is always a reflective month for me. Everyone seems to practice gratitude and share what they’re thankful for throughout the month – it’s just that season.

Happify Daily states “People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.”

When things are really tough, sometimes it’s good to really stop and be grateful for what you have and the blessings in your life and to give back. The one thing I’m struggling with is teaching little man to practice gratitude when, clearly, he’s still learning his peas and thank yous regularly without prompting.

 

Here are the ten ways I’m practicing gratitude this month (and every month because really gratitude should be a year-round thing not just a November thing) and how I’m encouraging little man to practice gratitude as a little person ūüôā

  1. Journal.
    I’ve been following the gratitude prompts on The Mighty this month and it’s really helped me refocus on all the blessings in my life. I’m a day or two behind but it’s really helpful to me to write things down and reflect.
  2. Smile more often.
    Seriously, just smile. Forget a reason for it. Just try to smile and smile at others. It may seem creepy but I promise, it’ll change your mood and brighten up at least one person’s day.
  3. Practice random acts of kindness.
    A couple Christmas’s ago, my former company gave us all $50 to give back. We were traveling on Christmas, but on Christmas Eve, I paid for a random person’s lunch behind me in line at the drive-thru while Little Man and I ran errands, and then we paid for lunch for some pilots at the airport who were away from their families on Christmas Day and thanked them for their work as we traveled to CT. I still like to pay for people behind me every so often in drive-thru¬†lines, and people have done it to me, it’s just a nice way to brighten someone’s day unexpectedly.
  4. Volunteer.
    We’ve started looking for ways to get Little Man into volunteering – hubs and I are both active in our community, me through Junior League and Hubs through the Knights of Columbus, and really value giving back. Whether it’s serving meals at a soup kitchen, or donating toys to kids at Christmas, little man is starting to learn that we give back to those who need a little more help.
  5. Commit to one day per week of not complaining.
    I complain a lot sometimes, it’s just those wahhhhh-mbulance ruts that we all get into. Whether it’s about my commute, how tired I am, how little money we have, whatever it is – but there are always people that have it worse. There are people without cars who commute to Baltimore via bus for upwards of Two hours just to put food on their family’s table. People who don’t have jobs, and people without warm beds to sleep in. Perspective people.
  6. Meditate.
    Take your gratitude list, and meditate on it. Stop for five minutes and just slow your mind down. Think about the things in your life that are going well, all the blessings you have. I like the Calm app to meditate, but there are lots of other options out there too if you need a little meditation guidance.
  7. Call a friend or family member to say you love them.
    I’m terrible at staying in touch with family, with friends. But call someone just because and thank them for being in your life.
  8. Share your gratitude.
    Share on social media, join a gratitude challenge (I’m sure there are many) and share every day something that you’re thankful for. ‘Tis the season but seriously, these can be done at any time.
  9. Thank your public servants.
    I’m pretty sure police officers, fire department members and EMT’s don’t get enough thanks for their hard work. Thank your child’s teachers for their work, teachers work long hours – long past the 8-3 that they’re in the classrooms, saying a simple thank you for everything they do, goes a long ways.
  10. Stay away from negative media and replace it with inspiring media.
    Hubs and I watch the NBC Nightly News every night – it’s our thing. But one thing I love about it is the inspiring stories they have as the last segment “Inspiring America.” There is so much negativity and Facebook is a vacuum of news – positive and negative. Try for a week to turn the negativity off and each day watch one video or read a story of something positive and inspiring. It goes a long way to remind you of everything we have to be grateful for.

I’ll share some of my journal entries throughout the month over on my Facebook Page.

I want to know what are YOUR favorite ways to practice gratitude??

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What I wore; Gingham Top Two Ways

There is nothing that I love to wear more in the fall than a gingham top. It’s just one of those versatile, any season top. It can be dressed up for office wear and dressed down with leggings and boots for the weekend. So many pieces in my wardrobe are dual purpose – tops that can be dressed up for work and dressed down with leggings for the weekend.

My weekend outfit this past weekend channeled my inner Audrey¬† with navy and yellow – it’s a damn shame I wasn’t hitting up a Navy football game but nope. It also reminded me that I desperately need new knee-high boots (Christmas maybe?) because these ones that I picked up (…2014?) are ancient and look like garbage. But that’s another post for another time.

Button Down: J.Crew Factory
Tank: lululemon
Leggings: LOFT
Boots: Macy’s (Similar)
Vest: Old Navy
Scarf: Amazon

For work, I mixed gingham with leopard print heels and a leopard print belt (what’s up pattern mixing!) and a light tan cardigan. I love these navy¬†pants from JCrew factory that are really the perfect length for me (i’m 5’1″ for record)

Button down: J.Crew Factory
Pants: J.Crew Factory
Shoes: Thirfted – J.Crew, Similar
Sweater: J.Crew Factory
Belt: J.Crew Factory

What piece in your wardrobe is your favorite for business and play?

 

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What I wore: Casual Friday in All Navy

I’ve never met a mono-color outfit I didn’t like. Granted, I haven’t been brave enough to try the white on white outfit and really the only other ones I’ve tried have been all navy or all black. This casual Friday all navy outfit with accents in leopard print shoes and the striped pleats didn’t disappoint either. All navy ftw!¬†

I picked up this adorable french terry top during the big Nordstrom Anniversary sale in August and lo, it’s been too flipping warm to wear it. But it is quite perfectly, a fantastic casual Friday¬†outfit or good for kicking around on the weekends when you want to look…slightly more put together than just leggings (as most of my weekends are spent).¬†

The top itself, I was worried about because the cut to the pleats is a little funky and I think it’s probably not the MOST flattering of tops but man, is it comfy as all heck. The pleats are kind of a pain – unlike most of my other peplum/pleated tops that are more of a crepe type material, these are more of a stiff cotton so they get wrinkled super easily and don’t like to lay flat and look pretty like they should. Silly pleats.

[jeans | Sweatshirt (similar) | shoes (similar) | Necklace (similar)]

 

 

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Currently | November

How, how, how is it ALREADY November? Time apparently flies when you’re having fun. Although not going to lie, October was a doozy so I’m glad we’re moving on. Moving on to the first Wednesday¬†of the month means it’s time for the Currently Linkup with Anne and her co-host! Time to share what’s currently going on in our lives ūüôā

currently

Realizing | The holidays are SNEAKING UP wayyyy too soon. Time to start planning our holiday shopping list so I’m not frantic in the last two weeks before Christmas as I often am. Seriously, where does the time go! Before you know it, I’ll be registering Little Man for kindergarten (cue all the tears!).

Stirring | My SToK Coffee with Almond Milk Caramel Creamer. This has become my FAVORITE caffeinated¬†beverage and I LOVE that this caramel creamer is made of almond milk and not cream. It’s helped me cut back from my Dunkins Habit and is…pretty likely that’s much lower in sugar than the Dunkin’s Caramel swirl… Likely.

Appreciating | My village. October was a rough month, especially on the tail end. My Body Back mama pals and coaches were fantastic at lifting me up during my workouts when I just, quite honestly, wasn’t feeling it. You never, ever regret a workout, but you do regret the one you didn’t do. Also hubs. Because he’s my rock and I wouldn’t have made it through the past two weeks without him.

Investigating | Sensory Processing Disorder. Little man just started Occupational Therapy while we wait on the list for Kennedy Kreiger for an ASD evaluation. The OT – though still working on a thorough assessment of motor skills, etc.., mentioned vestibular sensory processing disorder as well as low muscle tone. So…we’re currently researching all the implications of that on little man and prepping him for kindergarten.

Following |¬†Lemon Lime Adventures and Inspired Tree House – they both have amazing resources re: SPD that I’ve really enjoyed reading. Them and I’ve found a bunch of fantastic mama bloggers in my search for influencers for a campaign at work – I adore finding fellow working mom lifestyle bloggers ūüôā

What are you currently up to??

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What I Wore: Twist Front Sweater

So when I buy something, I tend to buy it in multiple colors. I have no fewer than FOUR of my favorite JCrew Factory Daybreak dresses (three get worn consistently, one shrunk terribly and one I bought second hand off poshmark…so five). The same was true when I saw this beautiful twist front sweater on Pinterest. I fell in serious love with this sweater and it’s been a fantastic addition to my closet for fall…in two different colors.

 

 

gibson knotted sweater

[Sweater | Pants | Shoes | Necklace ]

The sweater itself is available in multiple colors and is soft and almost fleece-y like. It runs big so I did size down, and it comes in petite sizes as well.  I picked up the dark grey and Olive Green Рboth fit into my wardrobe seamlessly.

There are so many fun ways to wear this sweater for fall – with jeans and boots, with leggings and casual sneakers while running errands on a weekend, or dressed up for work like I did with nice pants (in my case these are my favorite Ponte pants) and a pair of flats.

Now that there’s finally fall-like weather here, well, you might see this one again if you’re following me on instagram.

[Sharing on Hello Monday]

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Five Tips to Practice Self Care

It’s been an insanely stressful week this week. Life has felt like it’s moving too fast, work has been chaotic, to say the least, and well, there are other things going on with Little Man that we recently learned about that is just adding to my emotionally overwhelmed state.

It was funny, last weekend a friend of mine and I were chatting while running about Body Back and she commented about the hippy-dippy meditations and how sometimes people get really emotional. I chuckled with her, thinking that I love the meditations and stretch routine we go through at the end of workouts because it’s 5 minutes for me where I can turn my mind off.

During stressful weeks especially, I keep reminding myself of the importance of self-care. Taking time to take care of oneself so that you can take care of your little one(s).

Here are five ways that I practice self-care to maintain my sanity during stressful weeks.

Meditate or Practice Mindfulness

I don’t often meditate, but when I do, it’s always a refreshing way to slow down for 5 minutes, clear your mind, relax and re-center yourself. There are dozens of apps out there to guide you, or if you’re really needing some more guidance, check out your local yoga studio for a meditation or mindfulness class – which I always enjoy because the music just makes the mood. I use the Calm app but Greatist has a great list of meditation apps for every personality.

Work-out

My workouts – whether running, body back, yoga or taking 30 minutes to do an at-home workout – are imperative for my sanity. It’s a chance for me to release aggression and recenter myself and I generally just feel better and refreshed after my workouts. Even going for a 20-minute walk in the middle of the day after lunch has an amazing effect on my mood and motivation for afternoons. This week has been tough to fit them in, but I’m realizing just how important they really are.

Get to bed early

Sleep is so important. I mean, we all know this, but it’s even more important when you’re stressed out. Nothing makes me feel refreshed like a good nights¬†sleep. Not is it good practice in self-care but the experts say sleep helps balance everything else out. If you’re not sleeping well, chances are your stress levels will only be heightened so make sure you get your zzz’s.

Read a book

It’s a novel (see what I did there??) concept but turning off your mind from all the stresses of every day life to escape into a good novel is such a fantastic way to turn off and take time for you. Take 30 – 60 minutes, turn your phone off, get a cup of tea or your favorite beverage and curl up to read for a bit. I love reading before bed because it’s a way to reset, and clear you mind of any stresses

Treat yourself

Schedule a massage, get a pedicure, go shopping solo. Whatever you do to treat yourself, take the time to do. It’s not easy to manage stress, but it’s so important to take time to take care of yourself during stressful seasons in life. Take an afternoon to yourself – even if you, like I did the other day, leave early to go home and take a nap in peace and quiet. It’s amazing how even an hour will make you feel better. Just make sure whatever makes you feel good about yourself and happy, is something that you make time for once in a while.

It’s tough as moms – we’re juggling so many things, whether it be school aged kids with after school appointments, a kiddo (or kiddos) with special needs and multiple therapy appointments or even just multiple kids with a husband or partner who travels a lot. But taking care of ourselves makes us better moms and better partners.

practice self care

What is YOUR favorite way to practice self care? 

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Currently | October

Happy October friends! After a whirlwind week at the Inbound Marketing Conference, I’m back and ready to share some fun things ūüôā But first, it’s time for the October Currently linkup with Anne and her cohost, this month Dana from Something Good! Join us the first Wednesday of every month to see what we’re currently up to!

Styling | Mule shoes. Seriously. I saw these at Nordstrom, but they’re a touch out of my budget right now, so I got a more¬†budget-friendly pair from Target recently and they’re friggin’ amazing. Seriously, these shoes are on trend, and if you don’t have a pair yet? Get some.

Saving | Money. Our budget has been super tight thanks to a tuition increase at daycare last month, so I’ve been cutting back on all the shopping and selling all the things on poshmark. We have a few necessities we need to pick up this month such as new sneakers for the little man, but other than that, we’ve been trying to cut back on all spending.

Searching |¬†For ways to get vegetables into little man’s diet. Zucchini banana bread, smoothies, egg muffins, chocolate banana muffins… you name it, we’re going to try it. Seriously, if anyone has any suggestions how to get a kid who lives off yogurt, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and apple sauce… you know.. the things that most 4 year olds¬†enjoy but shouldn’t live solely off of.

Picking | pumpkins this weekend! We go to Y Worry Farm in Davidsonville and this weekend is the Anne Arundel County Agricultural Day with a petting zoo, a corn maze, games and they have a really great pumpkin patch, we’ve been going the past few years so it’s a fun tradition for us.

Making | All the recipes from my Body Back meal plan. I just started round 2 of transformation session last week – this weekend, I’m making a turkey chili, I also made some delicious sausage, broccoli egg cups for breakfasts this week. Also, I’ll be making some zucchini bread in hopes of sneaking veggies into little man’s diet.

What are you currently up to?

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August/September Stitch Fix Reveal

A couple weeks ago (this is belated but whatever), I got my August/September Stitch Fix box in the mail. I wasn’t quite sure what to ask for – I’ve kind of been loving the cold shoulder trend and wanted to be a little, dare I say, adventurous in what I asked for?

Alas, this fix? Did not pass go. This is the second or third 0/5 I’ve gotten. I usually get a 1/5 (even if I love most things, usually if I love the style but the fit is off, I’ll consider it a win) so a 0/5 is a BFD for me. There were a couple of pieces that I did LIKE but already had something too similar in my closet for me to spend the money on them. So i guess not a TOTAL loss but….I was underwhelmed, to say the least.

I typically ask for business casual wear, pieces that can translate for office or weekend. This? Not quite it.

Kaileigh Rosella Cold Shoulder top $46

stitch fix cold shoulder top

I did NOT love this. This was a total miss. Tie sleeves don’t do anything for me, nor are they… a big win for the office in my book.

Verdict: Return

August Mist Shyann Cold Shoulder Top Р $46

This was an even bigger miss. The roll tab sleeves were awkward, the look that they styled it with was just… terrible (window pane top with window pane pants?! Whuuutt???). I just… nope.

Verdict: Return.

TK Angiana Woven Back Sleeveless Pullover – $58

Okay, so I really liked this one. I did. BUT, the fit wasn’t quite right and it was really pricey for what it was and I have at LEAST one near-identical top so I couldn’t justify it. Womp womp. So close.

Verdict: Return

Colette Chavez Pop Color Cuff Knit Top – $48

Ufff. I wanted to love this. I did. The pink was super cute and a nice pop to an otherwise basic top. Buuutttt, I’m not going to pay nearly $50 for a top that looks like one I already have that I paid $15 for from Target that’s going on it’s 2nd or 3rd season (unusual for Target basics!).

Verdict: Return 

MIA Casey Leather Peep Toe Booties – $99

Okay, so I did ask for a peep-toe bootie. These were REALLY cute. BUT. I didn’t LOVE them which for $100? It better be real shoe love. Also, these were more brown, I was looking for cognac/tan or black instead of a dark brown. M’eh.

Verdict: Return (wamp wamp)

So there you have it. 0/5.

I do love getting Stitch Fix boxes. I do. I think I need to check out my Pinterest¬†boards, and really think about what I want to ask for. If you’re interested in trying out Stitch Fix, I do recommend trying it once. At the very least, I love getting the style cards and I always get new ideas on how to style pieces in my wardrobe in ways I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

 

FTC Disclosure: All opinions are always 200% my own. Links may be referral links for credit or compensation. Thanks for supporting my blog! 

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10 Beauty Products I Can’t Live without

In the recent years, largely since I went back to work after baby, I started to care a little more about my looks. Not so much in comparison to many others, but more in a how can I make myself put together without spending a lot of time on it care. Not to mention, I’m in my mid-thirties now and surely I won’t look like I’m in my mid-20’s forever (or so I’ve been told) so I gotta keep myself looking pretty.

So I’ve found – over a lot of trial and error, my can’t-live-without’s. As little man has grown, my time to make myself pretty has diminished. Greatly. So I’ve simplified my get ready for work routine. I’m not alone though, I bet every working mom – any mom really – would say the same. There’s never any time. There’s beauty in a simplified routine (pun mostly intended) and I’m so glad I’ve found a routine that works for me.

I typically have 45 minutes to an hour to get dressed, get little man dressed, get myself dressed and made up and get out the door (hopefully with a packed lunch and breakfast). There is rarely a day when I don’t at least have mascara on – even on weekends.

I should also add, that I don’t spend tons on my appearance – as I’ve discovered through trial and error and reading reviews – you really don’t have to. ¬†Most of my favorites are purchased at Ulta or Target because that’s where I can afford and I’m not about to drop $50 on mascara or $60 on overpriced lipstick.

So here are my ten products that I use/can’t live without.

Skincare: Moisturizer | Night Mask | Cleanser

I don’t have a huge routine when it comes to skincare – I use moisturizer every day (Boots Botanical Moisturizer¬† (with SPF 15) ) once or twice a week I use this ¬†Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Night Mask at night which leaves my skin with a healthy glow when I wake up. Of course I have my cleanser and once in a blue moon (aka when I remember) toner. I love the Yes to Grapefruit cleanser which I use every day.

Make up

Primer | Bronzer | Eye Liner | Eye Shadow | Mascara | Mascara Primer

My makeup routine can be done in less than ten minutes. I prime with this ELF primer (the price point is so right), use Benefit Dallas bronzer¬†for a nice glow, (Benefit pressed foundation with a little blush in the winter months), Sophie Kashuk eye liner, eye shadow and then mascara primer and mascara. I love the Falsies mascara by Maybelline¬†which took me a while to find (trial and error folks) but now it’s my go to. I never used mascara primer before I got a sample of it in a Target Beauty box a few months ago now I can’t live without it.

favorite make up

Hair

Heat Protectant | Dry Shampoo

I recently got my hair highlighted for the first time in over five years. Thanks to my stylist, I use this purple shampoo (how did I never know of this?!) and I started (shame on me) using the amazing CHI Heat Protectant – if you use a straightener or curling iron and aren’t using this, shame on you.

Finally, since I don’t wash my hair every day, I couldn’t live without dry shampoo – I used to use Not My Mother’s brand which was good… but then I read something about Batiste and gave it a try and it is so much better. I use this on days typically when I don’t workout (otherwise I will give my hair a good wash) but if I showered and then went to spin class, I won’t still shampoo again, so I’ll shower cap it up and use this.

best hair products

 

Voila! My must have products Рthat I love and use every day. 

What are your must haves? What’s worth the money and what’s not?

beauty products

This post may contain affiliate links. 

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Race Recap: Annapolis 10 Miler

A while ago, a friend of mine in my MRTT group convinced a bunch of us to run the Annapolis 10 miler. I had previously boycotted this race because I was pissed about it being canceled a few years ago (thanks, Hurricane Irene).

Thankfully, unlike previous years it was a. not a monsoon, and b. not a million degrees.

Expo

I hit up the expo first thing – we got fun MRTT tank tops that I had to pick up. The expo was a decent sized – all outdoors at the Naval Academy Stadium. The “swag” was a pretty bad ass bottle opener and a hat. On point Annapolis Striders!

We enjoyed an afternoon at a brewery (carbo-loading!) in Dundalk with hubs and little man – we played some cornhole and sipped on a sampler. On our way home, we picked up my favorite pre-race dinner of sushi and laid low for most of the night.

Of course, right before bed, I realized I hadn’t found my hand held water bottle and had a rage blackout since I bought it specifically for the A10. Needless to say, I did not find it and went to bed angry. Whoops.

Race day

Alarm went off at 5:25, snoozed, got out of bed at 5:35, rushed to get ready, grab a mini bagel and run out the door. Made it to Annapolis, hit traffic right before the stadium (damn you Rowe Blvd!!!) but still made it to the Blue Angel jet with less than 5 minutes before the scheduled MRTT photo. That’s what I call winning.

MRTT AACOMD

The weather was really, really perfect. We started opposite way of Zooma which was different BUT convenient given we had prime spots to hit up the quickly shortening lines for the port-a-pots as the start time got closer.

A group of us started the race together but got split up less than a mile in when one of our group members sprained an ankle on a pothole. Stupid Annapolis roads ūüôĀ

Alas, three of us kept going running 4 – 1 intervals. I’m going to reiterate that the weather was beyond perfect for August in Annapolis. The hills, didn’t seem as bad as everyone made them out to be, and despite the run through some¬†quieter neighborhoods on the Severn/Arnold side of the Severn River, the crowds were friendly and encouraging.

My knees, which have been acting up lately and that I’ve been getting some PT on, weren’t terrible until Mile 8 and that horrible downhill on 450 approaching the Naval Academy bridge.

I kept the attitude positive – the Naval Academy bridge at mile 8.5 is rough. But I kept us motivated with my countdown. The last half mile is around the stadium and up the final hill past the Blue Angel at the Naval Academy stadium – for anyone who has run Marine Corps marathon before, the uphill at the end of EVERY race is like a toned down version of the last .2 miles running up to Iwo Jima.

Annapolis 10 mile run

I finished strong – please excuse the incredibly awkward fuel belt/race belt. Note to self – one or the other. My time was 2 minutes slower than the CB10 miler back in April BUT, this was hillier, and I trained slightly better. I felt stronger at the very least whereas with Cherry Blossom I hit a big ole wall around mile 7. The intervals certainly helped me keep my knees and feet in decent shape. Though there were a couple of times I definitely walked when I didn’t need to necessarily (that picture I took on main street… ūüėČ ) but I had fun and really, unless you’re running for the big bucks…having fun and not getting hurt is all that matters.

Chip Time: 2:03:22
AG: 148/165 (solid BOTP!!! No shame!!!)

In 2018, I’m gunning for that sub 2 hour time!

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