January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box

The post below is part of my experience as a P3Runner – an ambassador for P3REvents. I’ve received the January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box in exchange for sharing the details with you. All opinions are 100% my own.  This post also contains affiliate links – meaning if you decide to make a purchase based on this post, I might receive a small compensation in exchange for telling you about the product. 

Do you remember when I first announced my excitement over the Ready.Set.MOVE. Box last January? Well, my subscription is BACK and this time I’ll be getting all four boxes in 2020 and sharing the details with you…starting with the fresh off the USPS van January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box!

January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE Box

January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box | The Goods

What I love about the Ready. Set. MOVE. subscription box is that it is affordable, gets me a sampling of some of that awesome expo gear, and surprises me four times a year. At $49.99 a quarter, you get gear from the P3R Gear store and a sampling of some of the products offered by official Pittsburgh Marathon race partners. I cannot guarantee that you won’t get even further addicted to the fun gear and not buy more, but isn’t this a great option?!?! 

SAVE $10 off your first subscription when you use code WILLIS10 at checkout!

Included in the January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box:

  • Brooks Lunch Tote – to store your healthy foods – key if you’re working outside the home while training!
  • Run Fast. Eat Slow. A Runner’s Meal Planner. Written by Elyse Kopecky + Shalene Flanagan, this food journal gives recipe ideas and a place to track food for 52 weeks (starting when you’re ready, not when the calendar says it is time).
  • KT Tape – a whole variety pack with samples to support muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • NuGo’s Perfect Cookie – as a Keto Runner I’m so excited to try this protein cookie with <1-2g of sugar!
  • Nuun Hydration Rest for Recovery – this is a new to me flavor with lemon chamomile and will help the body relax after those long training days. I have yet to find one of their hydration tabs that I don’t like!
  • 4Run2 Exclusive Beanie
  • Honey Stinger Protein & Gel – I’m not a big carb fan these days but I can’t deny the power I get from Honey Stinger Gel on long run days.
  • NATHAN LightBender LED Armband – excited to try this out on my next early morning or late evening run!
  • Ready.Set.MOVE. Resistance Bands
  • Vaseline – I’ll be fighting my kids to keep this cute little tub of our favorite way to moisturize lips in winter.
  • Goal Card – I’m still trying to figure out what I’m putting on mine!
  • $$ off the P3RStore – I’ve had my eyes on some of the cute 2020 shirts like “Run All the Miles. Eat all the Pierogies” – even if I rarely eat those amazing ‘Burgh bites.

What am I most excited about in the January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box? “Run Fast. Eat Slow.”, NuGo’s keto cookie, and the 4Run2 Beanie!

If you’re ready to buy, head on over to the P3R Gear store and start subscribing…and make sure you use code WILLIS10 to save $10 off your first box! Note – you’ll be getting the April 2020 box, arriving around April 25, 2020.

How will this help my training?

Speaking of “Run Fast. Eat Slow.”, I’m working on figuring out my nutrition this training round. Keto (low carb, I have to lower my cheese intake) running has helped the past few years, but I’m not sure it is 100% what my body needs this year. Writing my food intake and pairing it with my training might just help with figuring out the right things to eat to fuel my body.

Did you pick up the January 2020 Ready.Set.MOVE. Box and are ready to start using your planner but don’t know what to cook? Pick up the cookbook that the planner is a companion to here with free shipping.

As an arthritic runner, I rely on tape to hold my knee in a place it feels just right. The sample pack of KT Tape is going to come in handy! The resistance bands will be so easy to use to help stretch and strengthen in my home or anywhere that my training months take me.

Everything in this box has me excited – what do you think your favorite item is/would be?

Ready. Set. MOVE. Box – the Details

You can find the following information about the Ready. Set. MOVE. Subscription Box on the P3R Gear website, too:

Ready.Set.MOVE. is a quarterly subscription box filled with health and fitness goodies that you can use throughout the year as you workout and train. Boxes are distributed on the 30th of January, April, July and October and are charged automatically on the 25th of each of these months.

Subscribe to Ready.Set.MOVE for just $49.99 a quarter! You will be charged on the 25th of each month the box is distributed (January, April, July, October), and it will be shipped out on the 25th of that month.

Each box will contain various products and merchandise from P3R gear and our official race partners valued at $100. Plus, select boxes will feature a golden ticket and include a premium surprise item.

Exciting, right? There is still time to get registered for the April box (arriving in time for the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend!), so what are you waiting for? Did you get the January box? What did you think?

+

Thinking about signing up for any of the 2020 Pittsburgh Marathon events? Make sure you do and let them know I sent you by using WILLIS15 as your code when you sign up. You’ll save 15% when you do! Register now here!

VISTA earbuds from Jaybird Sport – Vista is Jaybird’s first true wireless headphone that meets IPX7 and MIL-STD 810G standards. In other words, Vista is waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, sweatproof—#EARTHPROOF.

In Memory of Emily & Uncle Jim

Join Me in Supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and in remembering the life of my cousin, Emily, and Uncle Jim. This year I’m participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon Race Series Run for a Reason to fight suicide and support AFSP.
Ready Set Move

Ready.Set.MOVE Box

Save $10 off your first subscription box with Ready.Set.MOVE when you use code WILLIS10 at checkout. This is a quarterly subscription box for those who love fitness + Pittsburgh. Boxes ship every January, April, July, and October.

Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend Races

Save 15% when you use code WILLIS15 to register for ANY Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon event in 2020!

one-eight

one-eight. 18. eighteen. Today, January 23, is my cousin Emily’s 18th birthday. She should be here, but she is not and our world is missing her.

My heart breaks for her parents (my cousins) and her siblings and her grandparents and all of our family. It has broken every day since we lost her on June 7, but oh does it hurt today.

I’d give so much to take you to Glen’s again with my girls!

No matter how many times I look back at the photos or watch videos of her singing, no matter how many times I remember saying goodbye at the funeral home, I just can’t fathom this is reality.

Today, on what is her 18th birthday, I refuse to forget her laugh, her songs, her eye rolls, her sass.

Today, I’m struggling with words so I went for a run and wore yellow – the color of the Suicide Prevention program which aims to “reduce stigma and help save lives”.

Today I want to remember the love she brought to our lives. Tonight we will be taking the kids to breakfast for dinner, wearing pajamas, in her memory. If you knew Emily or want to support her family, please consider doing the same. If we’re Facebook friends, please let me know and I’ll add you to a group where you can share photos and stories of the way you remembered her today. If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll be sure to share it with her family, too.

let’s break stigmas together

Today I am going to share another 2020 goal with you – a goal to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention of Western PA. As part of my goal to run the 2020 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I’m also running in memory of Emily (+ my Uncle Jim) with this team to raise funds to help fight their goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

If you are able, please consider donating to help provide funding for research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide. Click this link here: DONATE.

2020 P3Runner

The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events. I will be serving as a 2020 P3Runner in 2020 and bringing you exclusive information and discounts about 2020 P3R races. All opinions are 100% my own.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and P3R Events have introduced a new program to their “official blogger” ambassador role and I am so excited to announce that I will be serving as a 2020 P3Runner! That means I’ll be an ambassador here on the blog + social media + at P3R runs all of 2020. What’s in it for you, readers? Follow along with my stories of training and “racing” and use my exclusive cannot get this deal anywhere else 15% off race registrations all year long.

I’ll get right to the point – save 15% on your race registrations for ANY P3R Pittsburgh running event – Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events, FlyBy5k, GAP Relay, Liberty Mile, Great Race, EQT 10-Miler…you race it, you save it…just use WILLIS15 when you check out. Registration for the Pet Walk, Toddler Trot, 5K, Relay, Half, and Full Marathon is open now here.

Runners gonna Run

Even though I’m what most would consider a “back of the packer”, I have a history with running and a huge love for running in Pittsburgh. After six months off (see my post about 2019 taking C O U R A G E to get through), I have been back to the trail and dreadmill running for four weeks. In that time, I’ve already shaved 2 minutes / mile off my time and I’m quite happy with progress. Runners gonna run!

All runners of all body types have a place in Pittsburgh’s running events and I’m here not only to tell you about the options in 2020 but to cheer you on and encourage you that if this girl can do it, you can too.

2019 UPMC Health Plan Half Marathon + FedEx Relay + 5k = Steel Challenge

That was me in 2019. I ran that half marathon with a knee so full of arthritis and on a rainy day. I crossed that finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face even though my fifth half marathon was my slowest yet.

What you probably don’t know from that photo:

  • 2019 was only my 8th year running and I didn’t run all eight of those years. I took time off to have babies and to get back to a healthier weight.
  • I used to weigh about 90 pounds more than I weighed that day. Thanks to running + a healthy relationship with food I lost that weight (plus some) while being a mom of two and working full time. After hitting 130 pounds lost, I had twins + went through two job changes. This mom of four had to work hard to get back to the girl you see there.

As a 2020 P3Runner, I’m looking forward to sharing more of my story with all of you. Be following my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and especially Instagram to keep up with my training and more news about the 2020 P3Runner Ambassador Program and running events in Pittsburgh.

And remember, save 15% with code WILLIS15 for ANY Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon 2020 weekend of events races!

20 New Things to Do This Year

This list of 20 New Things to Do This Year will hopefully give you some ideas to bring a bit of health and happiness to your 2020 and beyond.

Hello, 2020! This is not just a new year but also a new decade. What better time than now to add a few things to your life instead of the typcial resolutions to remove things! Such a positive way to look at your goals, isn’t it? This list of 20 New Things to Do This Year will hopefully give you some ideas to bring a bit of health and happiness to your 2020 and beyond.

Blog posts on this site may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

New Things to Do This Year

New Things to do This Year

1 – Take an art class.

In 2019, I rediscovered my love for crafting (of course after I basically got rid of all my supplies at a yard sale). But with art classes popping up all over there is definitely something in your area to attend, not need a ton of supplies and a place to store them, and you don’t have to come up with the idea. Canvas painting parties are big (I happened to have one for my thirtieth birthday, a few years ahead of trend). Pinterest isn’t going anywhere but up. And new concepts like “board and brush”, planting parties, and more are all over your Facebook feed. Give one of them a try!

2 – Travel somewhere you’ve never been.

Google Maps just emailed me my annual summary of my travel and I went to 22 new cities last year. Among those were Raleigh, Nashville, and Waikoloa Village. But when I look at my 2020 calendar, the only place I am scheduled to go is my go-to Myrtle Beach. There are so many more places to discover and I’m thinking Minneapolis just might need to be added this year.

3 – Sit by a campfire.

There is something soothing about sitting outside on a cool evening with friends and family around a campfire. I grew up camping and would spend hours around a fire telling stories, starting silently at the stars, and just enjoying life.

S’mores shown are optional but oh so good for a treat! The s’mores makers are a great gift for the campers in your life!

4 – Enjoy Nature

Similar to sitting around a campfire, just being in nature has a great calming effect. Even though I seem to attract all the mosquitoes, I won’t deny the fact that a sunny afternoon in the forest is actually pretty relaxing. Better yet if you combine 2 + 3 + 4 and enjoy a day in nature somewhere you’ve never been then end the night by a campfire.

5 – Check out a live production

Where I was emotionally in September might have had something to do with it, but when Greg and I got to attend The Lion King in Pittsburgh last fall, I was all the tears. The production was that good and is something I want to be sure all of my kids get to experience some day. Any live production will do – if you’re in Pittsburgh, Cultural Trust always has amazing offerings that will pull you away from your cell phones and into real life through a play, musical, or comedy act.

6 – Tour Your Hometown Like a Tourist

There are so many things to do in my hometown of Pittsburgh that I always feel like I am taking it in like a tourist. Last May, we actually stayed downtown for a weekend. I ubered places, we took the T. We slowed down and enjoyed the architecture around us and tried a few new places to eat. It was really enjoyable to appreciate what the city had to offer even though I was working right in the heart of it every day.

7 – Play in a Sprinkler

Yes, you. Adult you. There is something fun about running through a sprinkler and remembering the carefree childhood that really wasn’t all that long ago. Bonus points if your love or bestie join you.

8 – Start the Day with Gratitude

When you start the day with even three things you are grateful for, it makes the tough moments just a little easier. There are plenty of gratitude journals set up and ready for your thoughts, but any notebook would do.

I find that I am more apt to journal if I have some fun pens to do it with! These are my favorites because you can erase and start over if you don’t like the way you wrote something!

9 – Have a “no spend” day or weekend or month

My blogging pal Skye recently took on a “no spend month” and had some positive impacts to her family’s financial life. I wish I could have that patience and determination, but with four kids and work that sometimes needs me to travel and all the other excuses, I just just haven’t tried it. Maybe a day or a weekend could help just by cutting back for a few days.

10 – Make an Emergency Kit

My aunt and uncle gift a car emergency kit like the one shown here for weddings and let me tell you it is something you’ll wish you had when you didn’t. It is super simple to grab at a big-box store or on Amazon, but you can also add to it with things like heated blankets, snacks, and a gallon of water. Throw it all in a large utility tote and tuck it away in your trunk. You never know!

11 – Turn Your Phone Off for a Day

Do I need to say more?

12 – Volunteer for a NEW Charity

I get in the “mode” where I just keep giving my time and talents to the same places and then it starts to feel like work. If you don’t volunteer already, find a place to serve. If you do volunteer, find a new one to give your time to. Your eyes will be opened to new challenges, you’ll meet new people, and you’ll step away from your comfort zone. These are good things!

13 – Go Bowling

It’s probably been awhile, but there are still some really amazing bowling alleys around. Pittsburgh, we’ve got Zone28 which is the top of my list! \

14 – Cook Dinner for a Friend

Ok, so this was a dinner I bought at Party Fowl in Nashville, but it is dinner nonetheless!

When I was recovering from surgery, two friends made sure that we had dinner. Another time, I was alone on a holiday and a friend ran a plate over from her family gathering. Each of these times were super special and meant a lot. It was great to taste another cook’s creations and to get a little spoiled. But your friend doesn’t have to be going through something for you to do something nice. Just a random “hey, I’ve got your dinner tonight” will definitely make their day.

15 – Buy a Plant or Bring Fresh Flowers Inside

Don’t they just brighten your mood?

16 – Try a New Workout

If you’re new to working out, anything new is going to be easy. If you’re already on a path of wellness, then try something new. When I started crossfit in 2016, I was scared scared scared. But it turned out I really liked it! I’ve also given spinning and yoga a try, both are on my list to get certified to teach when I’m back to my healthy-selfie.

17 – Play a Board Game

Again, I’m sure you’ve played a board game before, but try a new one. I have a few that we got for Christmas that need to be played. We’re even thinking about having some game nights because we miss nights spent as kids playing Phase 10 a whole bunch (no sarcasm)!

18 – Have Ice Cream for Dinner

Even if you’re like me and have an eating plan, you probably have some space or alternative to ice cream. Have it for dinner…or even breakfast!

19 – Go Somewhere Dressed Up

Even if it’s to a local coffeeshop or fast food place. Mama just recently got herself some heels that aren’t being worn sitting around working from home, so you best believe I’m going to just get dressed up fancy one day and go out wearing them!

20 – Start a new gig

Maybe completely starting a new job is out of the question (it would be for me unless I got news like I did in 2018), but consider starting something new on the side that will bring you joy and a little extra money this year. Blogging is obviously a suggestion from me, but I also can’t tell you enough good about having a Thirty-One business. Greg has done Uber and most recently will be giving Instacart a try. There are so many things you can do that bring in a little extra that you’re probably already doing.

What Will YOU Do This Year?

So now that you’ve read through my list of new things to do this year, which ones will make your list? What would you add to it? What goals do you have for 2020 that these support?

If you’ve found this list helpful, please share it on your favorite social media using the buttons on this post. If you’d like to keep up with this blog, be sure to like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Finding My Identity: The Road Back to You

This post, a review of The Road Back to You, contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

As laid back as I was the last six months, you’d think that I’d have a whole pile of books to share thoughts about. I truthfully just sunk back, watched way too much TV, played way too much “Township”, and spent time in the comparison trap reading other blogs and wishing mine could be at that level. Instead, I should have been reading and growing and not worrying about what others are doing and being the person God intended me to be.

I was stuck trying to find my identity! I know that sounds totally crazy, I should know at 36 years old who I am, especially as a Christian woman. Bottom line, I am a child of God, but I forgot that being that is enough. Instead, I was trying to figure out what I can bring readers of my websites, what tactics I could use in my Thirty-One business to grow it, and what God had in store for me with life in general…and I was doing it by just scrolling through pages and pages of what others had been blessed with.

Taking the Test

Not long after my life sort of came to a crashing halt physically and mentally, a friend suggested I take the Enneagram test. I searched online and found a free one (which if you haven’t done, I’ll let you do for yourself – I’m no expert and am not sure which site to suggest + you can pay for some if you want more detailed info). My results are pretty much right in line with who I *think* I am and weren’t really surprising.

…but I’m also not letting a number on the scale (whether it is a personality test or my weight) tell me who I am. John 1:12 and Jeremiah 1:5 tell me that. So the number tells me things I know, how I work with people, what stresses me, etc. And that is okay! Understanding yourself if perfectly fine (we’re actually charged to in I Corinthians 11:28-31). Changing yourself to align with a “number” you’d rather be? Not so much.

A Number…Now What?

Once I had my Enneagram number, I took my friend’s advice a little further and read a book she reccommended. There are a ton out there, but I opted to go with her reco because one of the authors is a pastor. In reading The Road Back to You, I dove into chapters on each of the nine personality types. As I read the words of each type, people close to me came to mind. Each chapter gave me gems on how to work alongside them and a little better understanding of how they’re “wired”.

Road Back to You

Did you know I have my degree in Psychology? Yup. So you’d think that I’d probably read this book and just be like “yeah, yeah, we know this”. The thing was, The Road Back to You brought me a fresh perspective with each word.

Interested in having a read yourself? Pick up a copy here and get it by the weekend.

And the hardest chapter to read? The chapter about me. I had been reading this book while on vacation in October (and even shared it in my “what I’m reading” post), but I just couldn’t get past the words about me. I didn’t feel convicted or lost or angry. I just didn’t feel and that didn’t sit well with me. It might have been my sign that it was time to get up and own the life that people with my number strive for because I simply wasn’t being that person and I knew it.

Crazy? Maybe a little, but so true. The words in “The Road Back to You” resonated with me from start to finish and helped me pull myself up off the couch away from the “at my worst” side and back into the “at my best” side of my number.

So What is Next?

I’m planning on checking out the associated Study Guide and possibly the companion book about relationships, “The Path Between Us”. And, as others in my personality type do, I’ve got goals set for the year (I’ve met some already) and will be working toward that more normal version of me. God’s loved me through the good days and the bad, but I wasn’t living up to what he designed me to be for the past few months. With a new year and a new decade just days old, I’m excited to dive headfirst into His plan (and share it with you, of course).

Have you read this book or taken the Enneagram? What are your thoughts?

2020 Word of the Year: Strength

This year, my word of the year is going to be STRENGTH. Did you hear about the year I had in 2019? It is time to get spiritually, physically, and mentally strong. I thirst for it, and God has it for me. I’m open and ready for what He has in store for this year!

My 2020 Word of the Year

Strength. I’ve used this word for a few years now in my Instagram posts – #strongnotskinny especially. I want to be have strength in so many ways though, not just when it comes to the endurance of my running (cause that’s making a comeback), but in who I am as a whole. And when I don’t hit those running goals or have setbacks like in 2019, I want to remember who is my strength, God.

Through your story
Is My fingerprint
In the valley, there is confidence
In the shadow,
I will be your strength
One things for sure,
I am your Lord

Good and Loved – by Travis Greene (ft. Steffany Gretzinger)

2020 Strength Goals

So here is what Strength as a word of the year is going to look like for me:

  1. Be strong, happy + healthy. I know that not working out and eating junk leads me down a bad path. Showing up for myself in my workout plans and sticking to eating plans that work for my body will allow me to give back to my kids and husband in ways they deserve.
  2. Stop comparing. I didn’t really think I did this, but I recently put a 30-minute time limit to my Facebook use and I’d find I was hitting it pretty early in the day. I was too busy scrolling and comparing my life to others’ lives to enjoy my own. Right now I run a 16-minute mile. WHO CARES. If I am busy scrolling Facebook for thirty minutes and seeing what other people are running today, that’s time I could’ve been out at the trail running two miles. Humph.
  3. Be comfortable financially. I want to dream big and pay off our debt, get a Suburban and put in a new bathroom, but those are all things that can take time. I want to not be so driven by money that I can’t enjoy the amazing things we already have. Financially strong.
  4. Get over my fears. Okay, not every single fear like my fear of spiders and snakes but the fears that keep me awake at night. I’m going to surrender them to God and let him take care of them.
  5. Say NO more often. I am a YES person and I need to be brave about saying no to the things that I don’t really want me (or my family) to do.
  6. Love my body regardless of a number. I stopped weighing myself. The last time I did was my post-op appointment in August and I could care less what I weigh. I want to look at this body and see it as strong. It’s birthed four amazing kiddos, ran five half marathons, and is something worth loving.
  7. Make my brain stronger. Getting three new certs in 2019 was great for work, and I’d like to get two more in 2020. I’d also like to read a book a month (thanks, Alexa for that challenge) and learn some new things.
  8. Be in the Word. I have been a daily Bible reader for a few years now, but I want to really be in it. The past six months have been such a spiritual battle, I know there is more for me if I am just open to what God has planned but I can’t get there if I don’t listen to what He has to say.

So that’s what I have set out as my STRENGTH for 2020. What have you set as your word this year?

2019, You Took COURAGE

There may be some of you who could care less that we are now in a new year, a new decade, but I am celebrating. I was so happy, sick as I was, to watch 2019 turn to 2020 the other day. 2019, you took COURAGE, that is for sure.

My 2019 Word of the Year Lived Up

I’m one of those “set a word of the year” people and 2019’s word of the year was courage. What I didn’t know was how much courage it was going to take to get through the year.

Ava, my middle daugther, loves to run around singing “I’m still standing/yeah, yeah, yeah” and while I’m not sure if it was on some kids’ movie or if I was belting it out from my vocal chords between tears. What a year.

Looking at it in pictures, it was a pretty good year though, right?

The Positives of Courage

Let’s take a look at how POSITIVE ways 2019 took my courage, shall we?

  • I lived up a dream of mine, serving as an Official Blogger of the Pittsburgh Marathon. No offense to my family, but this was the highlight of my year and has really charged me with some blogging inspiration for 2020. I am so grateful to my fellow bloggers and the whole P3R Team for what 2019’s weekend of events was for me and my family and for you readers who signed up to race alongside me on the streets of Pittsburgh. THANK YOU!
  • At the start of the year I was about five weeks into my new job as a Salesforce Consultant and I was tbh scared to death. Turns out I love what I do and even when it had some not so fun moments (like a daily commute to Pittsburgh per the client), it was a truly awesome year. I had the flexibility I needed for the roughest six months of my life physically and emotionally. I gained three new certifications and learned about four new businesses. It truly changed me professionally and took courage to own my awesome admin self like I did.
  • With a new job for me (and a new one for Greg), we hired a caregiver for the kids. This was super big for us, our parents and the one daycare in Myrtle Beach that kicked Arianna out for staying home when she had RSV (truth) are the only ones who have ever had our kids for more than 2 hours straight. And our Mrs. Velma has been a true blessing to our babies.
  • I was nominated for and won a spot on our church board – the first woman to serve in this role. It is truly an honor to represent the NLC church body on our board.
  • I played keyboard when our worship leader was on maternity leave (goodness, did I shake the first few times). I led a song in November, too!

The Tough Parts of Courage

This year was also a very tough year for me. I know I keep saying it, but the truth is that if you look at this list you might think I am complaining, but goodness was it a year of tests and in the end I survived.

June was the worst month of my life.

  • I had been in pain for three weeks and had some horrific bleeding due to what was an ovarian cyst. I was in and out of the hospital and could barely function. Surgery (and relief) came in July, but between the first hospital visit and that day I went through the wringer.
  • Our cousin Emily died by suicide days after I started my physical struggle. She might have lived in Alabama, but that girl had a place in the hearts of the six people in this house and the hearts of my entire extended family. At seventeen, with so many more chapters to write, her story ended. Emily, I miss you and I don’t really know what more to say right now love.
  • And then when I thought nothing could get worse, it did. We were ten days away from celebrating our tenth anniversary when our marriage hit a very critical point. I’m still reeling over our reality, but I thank God every single morning that this family is still whole and that there are really good Christian counselors and friends out there to keep us supported. And for forgiveness. xoxo

Somewhere in my spare time, there is a book to be written about surviving that month and then the ways it impacted the next six. I couldn’t run – and running has been my emotional outlet for years. I still am not 100% back to running but have had glimpses of the possibilities and am so glad my physical health didn’t have to completely go to the wayside — no knee surgery! And when I couldn’t run, I’d sing. I’d sing about courage and God loving me as He finds me. I’d sing about being in a storm and about not coming off a wall. I’d find hope within those words and stand strong knowing there was more to the story of me.

2019 so that’s a wrap

Alright. Well, know that I’ve basically wrapped up the high level version of me that you’ve already gotten – it is time to move forward to 2020. My goal is 2020 is to give you bits of my life that inspire you and not make you wonder if I am okay – but to be transparent with you when I am not. Because in the end, the year 2019 was a horrible year for me, but it was a growing year that I survived and I am thankful for. And who knows who might need to hear it, but there is always more for you and your story if you just have the courage and faith to see it through.

God loves you and I love you. Remember that.

Gifts for VSCO Moms

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While many of the holiday shipping cut-offs are today or in the next few days, there is still time to get those last minute gifts thanks to our friends over at Amazon (especially with those PRIME Shipping perks). As a VSCO Mom (Child of the 90s raising a VSCO girl), I am okay with being one of the world’s okayest moms and doing this last minute shopping thing, so I thought some other VSCO Moms would appreciate a gift guide with options to send to your fellow mom friends, send to the kids for ideas, or even just gift yourself when you get a gift card to get whatever you want (jealous!).

This gift list will include items to make your life easier, VSCO Mom must-haves, and environmentally friendly ideas. In some cases, I received a product in exchange for including them in this guide and in other cases I just found them on Amazon myself and thought they’d be great to share.

Lotus Trolley Bag and Produce Bags

The Lotus Trolley Bag is a four-bag system that rolls up to the size of a yoga mat, contains an insulated cooler bag and pockets for eggs and wine bottles, and helps to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags. GET YOUR OWN SET HERE! The system spreads out across a standard-size grocery cart (I tried this at Aldi and while I hate to say it, the cart was too wide for the system) and helps you organize at check out and have a system for unpacking your bags at home. Add to it the food safe, durable and multipurpose Lotus Produce Bags (available here, in a 9-piece set) to be even more sustainable and eliminate those bags in the produce aisles. Both are available at Amazon and can shipped to you before Christmas.

Air Fryer + Accessories

If you don’t have your hands on an air fryer yet, I suggest this Instant Pot version. If you have, or know it is on your “I’ve been a good VSCO Mom” list, grab yourself The “I Love My Air Fryer” Gluten-Free Recipe Book – Includes 175 gluten-free recipes for fast, delicious meals the whole family will love and comes in right around $10!

Stickers…and Scrunchies…

For your laptop, cell-phone (hint – I use this clear cell phone case and just slip the stickers with the backs still on between my phone and the case), or your Hydro Flaskthese stickers give you lots of options and you can even share with your VSCO Kids.

I’m also suggesting this multi-pack of scrunchies because I have three girls who always steal the hair-tie or scrunchie I have around my wrist. And these ones I’ve linked have the most adorable bows on them!

Other Ideas

There is STILL TIME to get your items added to this list! Let me know what you suggest and as long as shipping can be handled before Christmas 2019, I’ll add to this post. So, what would you add?

DIY Craft | Let’s Get Cozy

** This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.** It’s official. I am back in a mood to craft! This is a really good sign, considering how the last few months have been for me. Last weekend I did some crafting with my best friend and her family/friends and was inspired by a big box print that said “Let’s Get Cozy”, but I didn’t want to spend the $$ on it and decided to make one of my own from DOLLAR TREE items!

Let’s Get Cozy

Isn’t it just adorable? Bonus, it is THREE DIMENSIONAL! Here’s what you’ll need to grab from your local Dollar Tree (or use their free ship to store option) to make your own version.

The Supplies

  • 2 6×6 photo frames
  • 1 pack of Christmas trees
  • 1 wooden pain project – I love this little car, so on the “red truck” theme!
  • 1 roll of wrapping paper (you’ll have a TON left)
  • Modge Podge (YES, they sell mini bottles!)

I did use some craft supplies I had on hand that I don’t think you can get at Dollar Tree, so you might want to check out the best places to get them (though mine is Amazon if it isn’t at DT!):

The Steps

  1. Cut the wrapping paper to the size of the glass in your frames.
  2. Adhere wrapping paper to the glass using modge podge.
  3. While you’re waiting for that to dry, paint your wooden craft.
  4. When the paint dries, hot glue or E-6000 to adhere the tree to the top of the wooden craft and then adhere craft to one frame and tree to the other (you might need to do some squishing of the trees’ backs).
  5. Paint “Let’s Get Cozy” or another themed phrase on the other frame.

Are you inspired by this craft? Go ahead down the rabbit hole that I found last weekend and ask to join the Facebook Group “Dollar Tree DIY Projects” and share your favorite crafting from DT!

What I’m Reading: October 2

Disclaimer: I received a copy of one of the books in this post from HarperCollins Leadership. All other books shown here were bought or gifted by me. When you shop through links on this page, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you – thank you for shopping things I heart!

What I’m Reading: October 2

Maybe you found this “What I’m Reading” post on Instagram today – welcome to my blog! This will be a little repeat of what you read over on my profile, but this version includes links to add the books shown to your own library. Enjoy!

What I’m Reading…If you know me, you know I like words and that I have a goal to publish a book. But you also know I have A L O T on my plate, so inspiro thru reading is not easy to put into my day. I currently have all of these books in progress:

  1. The Bible – I LOVE this journaling Bible (currently only in LARGE PRINT on Amazon)
  2. If It Makes You Happy” – Claire Kann – This was my #bookishintheburgh Blind Date with a Book so I’m diving into it. Trying to keep up with what the kids will be reading!
  3. It Wasn’t Supposed to be This Way” – Lysa TerKeurst – She and I just might be connected, just sayin’ (have you read my post about finding therapists?!?) AND BY THE WAY — who would be interested in doing a STUDY of this with me?
  4. Praying Circles Around Your Marriage” @prayingmarriage (because see 3)
  5. Dare to Lead” – Brene Brown – yes.
  6. Stories That Stick” – Kindra Hall is AMAZING yinz. I’ve met her and am so inspired. She’s changing how I’m using my words here, on the blog, in work, and with the family.

So share! What are YOU reading this week?