Inspiration From a Former Navy Seal

Hi, everyone!

I wanted to share something that I found to be inspiring and thought some of you might take away a little inspiration as well.

I was perusing Amazon for a book (or two) to buy when I came across “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World” by Admiral William H. McRaven. The title itself was intriguing, plus I saw that it received 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 reviews. I decided to check it out.

McRaven’s book is based off his 2014 commencement speech he gave at the University of Texas at Austin. The customer reviews on Amazon praise how the life lessons McRaven walks through, things he took away from his Navy Seal training, are applicable to anybody. With more curiosity, I decided to look up his speech on YouTube.

The first thing that stood out to me was McRaven’s comment on how the struggles we face, the life lessons to overcome those struggles, and how we can help change the world are universal; it doesn’t matter your background, gender, etc. This was something I had never thought of before, but I liked this perspective. It’s reassurance that we all have the ability to rise above and make a difference in other people’s lives and in the world.

McRaven continued to list out his ten lessons toward making a change. His first one was where the title of the book will make sense: making your bed every morning. You might be thinking, “How is making my bed going to make an impact?” McRaven shed light on this question: Although a small task, making your bed every morning leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. It leads you to completing your second task of the day. Then your third, fourth, and so on.

There are times when we might do our absolute best at something, but the outcome still doesn’t turn out as we had hoped. When that happens, just keep going. That’s how life is sometimes, but we can’t let it hold us back (or as McRaven put it: get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward).

One of McRaven’s lessons that I’ve been learning more and more is that failure will happen, but don’t be afraid of it. Failure is a part of life and though many of us might put it at the top of our list of what we fear most, we shouldn’t be afraid that it’s going to happen. We can embrace it and let it motivate us forward.

Another lesson that stood out to me was to be your very best in the darkest moments. When you feel like you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to think straight, or you feel stuck, find your inner strength to let it help you through those times.

A powerful lesson that McRaven discussed was to never give up. This is so easy to do, especially when things are tough. That doesn’t mean you throw in the towel though. If you want to change the world or make an impact, giving up isn’t the way to do so.

These obviously aren’t all ten, but McRaven’s lessons are great for anyone at any stage of life. I enjoyed listening to his speech and I would still like to get the book because it probably goes a little more into each of his lessons.

Has anyone else read his book or listened to the speech? What are your thoughts? What are other inspirational speeches you’ve heard? Let me know in the comments!

Seashell Treasures

Hello, friends!

This year I spent Christmas in Florida visiting my in-laws! It was a really nice mini vacation, especially away from the cold.

One of the things on my to-do list while Robby and I were in Florida was to visit a few of the nearby beaches and look for shells. I love walking along the water searching for shells; they’re so beautiful and unique. I ended up bringing home two small plastic containers full of them!

I’m hoping to do some fun DIY projects with my shells, but first, I wanted to share some of them with you!

Sand dollar pieces – so cool!IMG_1910

I love these ones because they remind me of sunshine raysIMG_1914.JPG

Pieces of coralIMG_1915.JPG

Beautiful colorsIMG_1918.JPG

These are one of my favorite kinds!IMG_1919.JPG

Love the different sizesIMG_1922.JPG

How pretty are these??IMG_1925.JPG

These ones look like ice cream conesIMG_1926.JPG

Look how fun these are!IMG_1930.JPG

This isn’t even half of them! At one of the beaches, I stood in the water up to my ankles to scoop up handfuls and see what treasures were waiting! Have to do a little more searching to find the good stuff, even if it means getting your shorts completely soaked.

Does anyone else like to search for shells when they’re at the beach?

What Makes a Christmas Tree Unique?

Happy Friday, everyone!

One of my favorite Christmas activities is decorating your tree. It’s so fun bringing out the ornaments, lights, tinsel… Or whatever you please! Your tree can have a theme, or you can create your own masterpiece with different colors and shapes.

I believe that the ornaments hanging on the branches of a Christmas tree are what makes it unique. There are so many different ornaments out there, and they can have special meanings behind them, too. Your neighbor might have ornaments of a cat, ballerina slippers, a vintage car, a chef’s hat, and a wine glass on their tree, but do you know why?

I thought it would be fun to share some of my Christmas ornaments and the meaning behind each of them!

Pink NYC t-shirtnycornament.jpgI love the city and I used to go in 1-2 times a year. I’ve gone in to see Broadway shows, around Christmastime, or just because. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so I’m hoping to go soon!

Butterflybutterflyornament.jpgI had a cousin who passed away who was also an organ donor. The butterfly is a symbol of new life, and by being an organ donor, he was able to give other people a second chance.

Orlandoorlandoornament.jpgMy mom gave this to Robby and I because we love going to Disney World; it’s actually where we spent our first day together! Plus, it’s my favorite place 🙂

Clarinetclarinetornament.jpgI played the clarinet all through middle school and high school. I really enjoyed being in band because of the people and the fun that we had! Plus, in high school, I got to go on a trip to Disney World and Virginia Beach.

Penguinpenguinornament.jpgPenguins are my favorite animal and I have a handful of penguin ornaments, including this glittery dude! Christmas just gives me another excuse to buy all the penguins!

Ruby Red Slipperredslipperornament.jpgI’ve had this one for a long time. I guess there really isn’t any special meaning behind it other than I liked it when I bought it. Although, I do love The Wizard of Oz!

Passportpassportornament.jpgThis is another one from my mom. She bought this for Robby and I after we went to Atlantis, which is where we got engaged. This was my first time using a passport, the first time I needed one.

Do you have any Christmas ornaments with a special meaning? I’d love to hear about it!

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – The Only Pirate at the Party

Hello, everyone!

I wanted to start something called “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” Basically, it’s just me sharing a different book with you!

My first “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” post is going to be about Lindsey Stirling’s The Only Pirate at the Party, which I recently finished. If you don’t know who Lindsey Stirling is… You’re doing it wrong! Lindsey is an electronic violinist who earned her success through YouTube. She’s released three full-length albums along with a Christmas album that just came out in October. She was also on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars!

Lindsey co-wrote her book with one of her sisters, Brooke S. Passey, who is mentioned throughout. Lindsey takes you back through her childhood, growing up, and the many hurdles she’s faced since as she figured out life and chasing her dreams.

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What I loved most about this book was reading about the struggles that brought Lindsey to where she is today, as well as moments I related with (especially ones she shared from her childhood and growing up). It kind of felt like I was reading about a friend, or like I had a close friend right next to me. It also showed that Lindsey is human like anyone else. She has doubts, she faces the realities of life, and she works hard to make her dreams come true.

Another great element to The Only Pirate at the Party was the humor. You know how when you type ‘lol’ to someone, most of the time you’re not actually laughing? Heck, you’re probably not even smiling. Well, I genuinely laughed out loud while reading Lindsey’s book. Here’s why:

“I considered telling her about Naomi’s five dollars, but I was worried she might call the Tooth Fairy Office and complain, and what if my fairy got fired?”

“I saw the girls of Fifth Harmony backstage, so I introduced myself and congratulated them on their new single. They smiled and nodded politely. A few minutes later I passed the real Fifth Harmony in the halls and I realized I had been talking to Pitbull’s backup dancers about their “summer hit.””

“I was almost finished when the pick got stuck in between my teeth, and of course that was also the moment the elevator doors started to open. I frantically tried to loosen the pick, with no luck. When I looked up, Ashton Kutcher was exiting the elevator in front of me. He nodded with a closemouthed smile, and I just gaped back at him – partially because I was looking at Ashton Kutcher, and partially because a floss pick was preventing my mouth from fully closing.”

Along with some giggles, Lindsey gets into some of life’s valuable lessons, things she admits she has to relearn sometimes. She also admits that the last few years of her life have been one big learning experience, which just goes to show that we’re always learning and growing no matter how old we are or what we’ve already been through. Here are some of those lessons:

  • The chapter “Sticks and Stones” is introduced with this quote: “You can spend your whole life feeling small by looking up at everyone above you, or you can look down and see how far you’ve come.”
  • Loving yourself is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Oh, the struggle is so real with this one. It’s so easy for us to overlook self-love and self-care, especially when it’s something we’re very unfamiliar with. Lindsey offers a list of qualities and traits that she might feel self-conscious about or dislike and puts a positive spin on them by describing why she loves them.
  • Don’t depend on other people’s opinions. I feel like this is something all of us face at one point or another. Lindsey shares the disappointment she felt after not winning a Grammy Award, but realizes that her self-worth shouldn’t have been relying so heavily on winning or losing. Inevitably, there will be people who don’t like you or say things that hurt your feelings, but it shouldn’t dictate your self-worth. Be the best you can be and be proud of that.
  • No doesn’t have to mean no. If someone rejects you or tries to tell you that you’re not good enough, don’t listen to them. Keep being you and keep going.
  • It really is okay to be different. I think this is something a lot of people struggle with or get negative reactions to. But Lindsey is a great example of how sticking to your true self will take you far.

If you’re a Lindsey fan and haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it! If you aren’t, you should still read it.

Now I want to know about one of the books on your bookshelf! Or, what book are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments!

My Favorite Albums From 2017

I know I’m not the only one when I say that I love music. I love going to concerts, the excitement when your favorite band announces their new album, the community, and the emotional connection songs create.

2017 was a great year for music, and to celebrate that, I wanted to share my favorite albums that were released! This isn’t meant to be a review of any kind, just me sharing my favorite albums from this year. I’ve also included a few songs from each album for you to listen to so you can see what you’re in for!

Lovely Little Lonely
The Maine, Lovely Little Lonely – I listened to The Maine in high school, but never really kept up with them. They dropped their song “Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu” at the beginning of the year, so I gave it a listen. Clearly, I enjoyed it because it led me to check out the rest of their newest album. These are great songs to jam loudly to in your car.

Songs to check out: “Don’t Come Down,” “Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu,” and “The Sound of Reverie”

Eisley_I'm Only Dreaming
Eisley, I’m Only Dreaming – Sherri DuPree-Bemis has such a sweet, beautiful voice. The songs from this album are catchy and make you sometimes feel as if you’re in a dream or a different world (that’s how I feel at least). There’s always been something about Eisley that I’ve found to be whimsical and fairytale-like.

Songs to check out: “Always Wrong,” “Defeatist,” and “Sparking”

Something To Tell You.jpg
HAIM, Something To Tell You – The HAIM sisters’ sophomore album continues to showcase their talents as musicians. They have an 80s vibe (stylistically as well – love it!) that you can dance and sing along to. Plus, Danielle Haim’s voice is brilliant.

Songs to check out: “Little Of Your Love,” “You Never Knew,” and “Kept Me Crying”

Skin&Earth.jpg
Lights, Skin&Earth – This is my first album from Lights, and I really enjoy it! The songs are accompanied by a comic series she created/designed (I’m slowly collecting all of the issues), so it’s cool to see how they connect and feel like you’re a part of the story. I also like that the album consists of different sounds with each song.

Songs to check out: “Giants,” “Savage,” and “Almost Had Me”

Last Young Renegade.jpg
All Time Low, Last Young Renegade – I’ve followed these guys for most of their career. I’ve seen them through all of their album cycles and have watched them grow, both as individuals and as a band. Their latest album, Last Young Renegade, really shows that growth through lyrics and sound. It’s definitely darker than any of their other albums, but I think it just shows they can tackle anything!

Songs to check out: “Ground Control” (feat. Tegan and Sara), “Dirty Laundry,” and “Last Young Renegade”

After Laughter.jpg
Paramore, After Laughter – Like many Paramore fans worldwide, I was anxiously awaiting this album. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, though I don’t think I was expecting such an open, honest set of songs (not to say their other songs aren’t honest because they are). I’ve leaned on this album so much, and the lyrics express things I feel like I’m never able to fully get out. It’s therapeutic and relieving.

Songs to check out: “Rose-Colored Boy,” “26,” and “Hard Times”

Do you like any of albums I mentioned? What are some of your favorite albums from 2017? I’m always looking for new music, so let me know in the comments!

My First Trunk Club Experience

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wanted to share my first ever experience with Trunk Club. My husband, Robby, told me he wanted to try this service where you work with a stylist who sends you a box of different clothing items and you can keep whatever you like (and pay for, of course), then just send back the rest! As someone who loves clothes, I was definitely interested.

I signed up and was immediately asked questions regarding my size, stores I like to shop at, and what type of outfits/clothing I was looking for. The stylist I worked with, Kathleen, was super friendly and asked me additional questions to get a better understanding of what I wanted. I even sent her a couple of Pinterest links of outfits that represent the type of style I like/clothes I like to wear!

Once your stylist puts together your trunk, you’re able to preview it before it’s shipped. You’ll see a photo of each item, the price, and the brand. There were two items in my trunk that were very similar to things I already own, so I was was able to give feedback and my stylist exchanged them!

There’s a $25 deposit fee that gets charged to your credit card. Your stylist will ask you to enter that information before your trunk gets shipped out. That $25 will go towards your final purchase total.

You’ll also be notified when your trunk ships. Mine came a day earlier than it said, so I was very excited! This is what my trunk looked like, it was a decent sized box:IMG_6545My trunk consisted of 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of pants, a jacket, 2 sweaters, and 3 tops. I put on a mini fashion show for Robby and tried on everything. Also, the trunks vary depending on the person. For instance, Robby’s didn’t have a jacket and he only had 1 pair of shoes. But it’s also nice because as I explained before, if there are things you either have, dislike, or the price is too high, you can let your stylist know and they’ll do a swap.

I only ended up going with two of the items in my trunk. I figured I wouldn’t LOVE everything in there and/or there would be things I didn’t like (size, fit, etc). Also, Trunk Club is a Nordstrom company and has high quality clothes, so if I were to purchase everything, I would have spent a pretty penny! (Robby also kept two items from his trunk – a sweater and a button-up shirt)

Here’s what I kept:IMG_6546IMG_6547I’m excited to wear this as an outfit!

You can schedule to receive trunks on a recurring basis, but I didn’t opt for that. I definitely plan on doing it again because it was a fun experience and I found some great clothes, I just don’t think regularly will work for me right now. And that’s okay 🙂

They provide you with a return shipping label so you can just drop off your trunk at UPS. Nice and easy! You also get to provide feedback on your trunk by checking off what you kept, what you returned, and why.

If anyone else has tried Trunk Club, let me know what you thought of it!

Hot Cocoa on the Porch: The Glories of Cold Weather

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had a nice weekend.

As a New England resident, I love the changing of seasons. Summer, fall, winter, and spring each have their own beauty and I’m lucky that I get to experience all of it every year!

I’ve already mentioned that fall is my favorite season. However, I have to admit that winter is my least favorite because I’m not a fan of the cold weather. I get cold very easily; plus, the sun doesn’t shine as long during the day!

Now that it’s November and we’re heading towards the winter season, I thought I would put a positive spin on my dislike for cold weather and list some of the good things it brings! 

Christmas time – Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday!  I love the Christmas spirit, the decorations, putting ornaments on your tree, candy canes, Christmas music… Everything! I definitely don’t mind enduring the cold if it means I get to experience Christmas!

The first snow fall of the season – I think this event, whenever it happens, is so exciting. And I’m not talking about a dusting or flakes that instantly melt when they hit the ground. I mean actual snow that sticks to the roads, covers cars, and leaves a few inches on the ground so the world is under a blanket of white. It looks so pretty, too.

Blankets – Cold weather means breaking out those blankets and snuggling up on the couch! We have a bunch of blankets in the apartment, even a heated blanket that was given to us as a gift. Heated or not, blankets are perfect on a cold night or when you’re snowed in there’s no other choice but to have a movie marathon 🙂

Comfy sweaters – Oh man, I love sweaters! Even though you typically have to bundle up in the winter, your bundle can include your favorite comfy sweater. Add a nice scarf, a hat, and some warm boots and you’re ready to brave the cold!

Hot beverages like cocoa and apple cider – Who doesn’t love sipping hot cocoa or hot apple cider from their favorite mug? This is a nice treat to have at the end of a long day while you’re relaxing on the couch. You could even enjoy it outside on your porch or deck wrapped in one of those blankets if you’re up for it!

Sledding and ice skating – I’m not the best at ice skating, but it’s still fun to try! And sledding is always a fun time, especially when you find the perfect hill to ride down! Our apartment complex is on a hill, so I’m hoping we’ll have the chance to do a little sledding this winter!Lovely-53Lovely-164.jpgLovely-88 (1).jpgIs there anything you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

**All photos on this blog post were taken by Courtney Murray, Live Lovely Photography, our wedding photographer. We did a winter engagement photo shoot with her at the beginning of the year!