My 5 Simple Rules for the Best Morning Ever

It’s the first Monday of 2016. How’s it going so far? Did you start off on the right foot or get up on the wrong side of the bed? Don’t worry if you’re still adjusting to your after-holidays-back-to-reality routine. It’s still a new year and you still have plenty of time to take charge of your morning.

Right now, I’m working on my 2016 early to bed, early to rise goal but last year, I locked down a routine that, when followed, makes for my best mornings. It’s nothing special or new but it’s simple and it works. As you settle into this brand new year, make sure you’ve got your morning routine locked down. It may take some practice to make it habitual but it’s totally worth the work! Need a place to start? I got you. Ready? Here are My 5 Simple Rules for the Best Morning Ever.     

the mornings hours are so important and worth the extra investment. Kick your day into gear with these 5 simple rules and have the best mornings ever!

1. Don’t Hit Snooze

This is my WORST morning vice–I ALWAYS hit the snooze button! It’s the most difficult habit to kick! When your alarm goes off in the morning, don’t think–just get out of bed. On a good morning, my alarm sounds, I get out of bed and make a beeline for the bathroom before I can think about how comfy and warm it is under the covers and I need just 5 more minutes of sleep! Don’t Hit Snooze people. Go to bed early, and get up and get going when the alarm goes off.  

2. Water Your Mind and Body

Once I’m up and sweeping up the cobwebs in my head, I grab a bottle of water and start hydrating my body. Water is purifying, renewing, and invigorating. If weight loss is a goal for you, water first thing in the A.M. will help aid that process. Don’t shock your system with cold water, stick with room temp or even better, warm water with lemon 🙂 The vitamin C in the added citrus will give an immune system boost and promote healthy glowing skin too!

3. Pray & Read

Now you’re up, your mind and body have been hydrated and refreshed and now it’s time to fuel up spiritually. Sitting at the feet of Jesus for some time in prayer and in the Word is THE best thing you can do for your morning. Now, it’s important to note that reading the Bible and studying the Bible are two different things. You may only have time for some prayer and reading in the morning and then Bible study later on in the day. Spiritual growth and maturity doesn’t happen just by reading some passages of scripture or a few pages of a devotional book. Maturity in Christ happens when we study His word. But that’s another post. Whatever you choose to do for your morning routine, do set aside some time for prayer and the Word. Just as water refreshes your mind and body, the Words of God will refresh your heart and soul. 

4. Get Moving

I love working out in the morning! Working out in the evening is a great way to decompress and destress but morning exercise is the best way for me to fully wake up and get going. If you think fitness isn’t your, then experiment. Just because your friends are into something doesn’t mean you have to be too. Try new things and find something that you enjoy. The more you like your work out, the more you’ll engage consistently.  

I actually find it easier on myself to exercise before my quiet time. I’m less likely to fall asleep while reading and praying cause my mind is fully awake after working out. However, it is also easier to get distracted. I make sure that if I work out before I read my Bible, I don’t check my email, I stay off most social media (unless I’m posting), and I keep my music or audiobooks spiritual and inspirational. That way, by the time I sit down with Jesus, my brain’s not already cluttered with worldly things. 

5. Feed Your Mind and Body

Okay, by this time I’m super hungry. I haven’t eaten yet cause I want to give the water I’ve been drinking time do it’s work in my body. I find that when I follow this kind of schedule, by the time I’m ready to eat, I’m less likely to eat junk. Your body needs a good, solid breakfast to continue the day on the right track you started on. Your mind and body will function only as good as you feed it. Make sure your giving yourself proper nutrients to help your body recover from your exercise as well as aid your mind in tackling the challenges of the day. 


Morning routines are challenging because life is unpredictable often gets in the way. But even so, A.M. routines are essential to keeping life simple & highly productive. Without a routine, you are more likely to get distracted and derailed and the less productive. It may take some painful, sleepy practice. It may mean altering your evening schedule so you can get some extra sleep. It may mean sacrifice. But the mornings hours are so important and worth the extra investment. Kick your day into gear with these 5 simple rules and have the best mornings ever!

Happy Monday!

10 Ways to Slow Down Your Busy Life

Life can get really busy, really fast. And it comes in seasons–some seasons are busier than others (i.e. new school year, new job, Christmas, project deadlines, etc.).

Whatever the reason, busyness requires some balance. We can’t go at a constant 110mph without burnout. Rest assured, if you don’t establish balanced habits, there will be casualties. That’s why there needs to be some in-between times tucked here and there where we can slow down, recharge, regroup and collect our sanity. Here are 10 ways simple you can slow down your busy life.  

1. Read a Book

This would be my number one, book nerd that I am! But seriously, research shows that reading is a great way to relax. And I’m not talking about something highly analytical. Read something for fun! Or maybe you read highly analytical stuff for fun…Well, whatever you consider enjoyable and relaxing, read that! 

2. Play a Game

I’m not anti-video games but, truth be told, I wouldn’t much miss them if I never saw another one as long as I live (except maybe Mario Kart cause I’m kind of a sucker for Mario Kart :P). So when I say game, I’m talking good ol’ fashioned boards, cards, dice, spinners and instructions that take 20 minutes to figure out. Taboo, Monopoly, Risk, Boggle (my fam’s current fave), Pictionary, Scategories, Dutch Blitz (our all-time fave card game) you name it! Get your favorite people together, take a load off and have some fun!

3. Write a Letter

The art and habit of letter writing isn’t as common as it used to be. But it’s not dead and just like physical books, I don’t think it’s in danger of dying. There are plenty of people who still write letters. You can even join the Letter Writers Alliance, an online society that is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive!
Writing a letter doesn’t cost much, just a stamp and some time to put your thoughts on paper. Ah, yes–time! Take a few minutes to indulge in some real text messaging. 

4. Take a Nap

Take 15 minutes and just shut down. The car, the couch, your bed, if you’re lucky. Steal away and take a snooze and then pick up where you left off! 

5. Crank Up the Classics

Make your morning or afternoon mellow with classical tunes. Classical music is soothing and will brighten your mood or ease your tension. If you’re feeling frazzled and like you can’t catch up with the craziness around you, keep calm and listen to Beethoven.

6. Take up a Hobby

I’m a firm believer in hobbies. Everyone needs something they can go to exercise their creativity and give dreams a place to play. Some people play instruments. Some cook. Some go fishing. Some paint pictures. Some scrapbook. Some have a combination of several things. Whatever your creative outlet is, give it a space in your busy schedule and don’t miss out on the things that put a smile on your face and keep your brain happy.  

7. Cook a Meal

We live in a microwaved society. These days you don’t have to know how to cook much because food can be put in the microwave, poured out of a bag, shoved in the oven, called in, or picked up at a window. But if you find yourself too busy to cook every so often, you might need to slow it down and take out your pan or casserole dish. Taking time to cook a meal is not only the healthier choice, it can also be a good way to interact with your family, reflect on the day, think through problems, or just escape the craziness.

8. Take a Walk

If the weather permits, get some fresh air and go for a stroll. Walking outdoors is a great way to clear your mind and get your thoughts in order. Not to mention the added health benefits and the inevitable need for a tall, refreshing glass of water afterwards!

9. Say No

You don’t need to say yes to everything. One of the best ways to slow down is to be mindful of what you can realistically fit on your calendar without sacrificing the health and sanity of yourself and your family. That means sometimes saying no to good things. Not all good things are beneficial or necessary right now or in this season. In the words of the apostle Paul, “all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient,” (1 Corinthians 10:23). It’s okay to say no. Sometimes, it’s the best choice you can make.

10. Be Present

I will be the first one to say this to myself: Put Your Phone Down. I know I’m just as guilty of this as the next person but do you notice how many face-to-face conversations we have with our phone in our hands or, worse still, with our faces in our phones? Most of us can remember the days when phones were hung up in cradles on the wall or side table. We did function without smartphones once upon a time so I know it’s possible to do so now for at least an afternoon or evening. Instagram can wait. Nobody’s going to get mad at you if you don’t check your FB feed again (and if they do, you need to find some new friends). YouTube will still be there when you get back. Vine will still be funny, tweets don’t expire, you can replay the scope on katch, and your email and texts will be ready for you to open at a later time.

We’re all busy and we’re all connected and that’s great but at some point, you gotta put it down for awhile and interact with what’s going on right in front of you, in the flesh, face to face. One day your kiddo won’t want to play catch with you. One day your friend might move away to pursue another chapter in life. One day your significant other may decide that someone else has more time for them. You don’t want to look up one day and find that you missed it all.


What are some of the ways you take it slow? Do you need to make commitments to be more intentional about slowing down your busyness? Why do you think it’s so hard to stop sometimes?

10 Ways to NOT Be a Lousy Customer

If there’s one thing that I learned when working my office jobs, it’s to respect customer service reps. After spending hours and hours on the phone all different kinds of people, I understood what it’s like on the other side of a service call. I’ve always been a pretty chill, friendly person but my work experience gave me the desire to step it up when speaking with people on the phone and in person.

When you pick up the phone to pay a bill, reschedule a doctor’s appointment or troubleshoot a computer issue, you’re the one in need. When you’re paying for your groceries, getting your car washed or eating at a restaurant, you asking something of someone else. And yes, you’re paying for those services but you also have a responsibility in that exchange–the responsibility to be conscientious and respectful.  While I tried to give my best to everyone I interacted with at my job, I definitely had my favorite people who I loved to help and often went out of my way to assist. These were people who were polite, friendly, honest, and understanding.

We often complain about lousy customer service and it is definitely out there, but have you ever considered whether or not you’re a lousy customer? We don’t often think about it but customer service is a two-way street. You can’t control how other people treat you but you can certainly make an effort to do your part.

I’m going to go over 10 Ways to NOT Be a Lousy Customer on the phone or in person.

Lousy Customer

 

  1. Speak clearly. 

    When giving information over the phone, like an address or ID number, speak clearly and slowly. Give them time to correctly input or write down the info your giving them. I couldn’t stand it when people rattled off their phone numbers like I was supposed to be able to hear, process, and write it down in a split second. And if you’re the one taking down information, make sure and repeat it back to them to make your you got it right. And if you have an accent, be it from another American region or the other side of the globe, be aware that the other person may have trouble initially understanding you so be patient with them and don’t get angry if you’re asked to repeat yourself more than once.

  2. Don’t get frustrated when your call gets transferred.

    Unless you’re getting tossed around like a hot potato from person to person, don’t get frazzled when you get transferred. They’re just trying to get you to the person who will best help you. And when they transfer you to the new person, don’t assume they know what’s going on. Sometimes they have no clue and you have to tell your story again. Be cool, answer their questions, and let them do their job.

  3. Say please and thank you. 

    Remember the magic words you learned as a child? Yeah, they still apply. Say ‘yes, please’ and ‘no, thank you’ when asked questions. It’s like the difference between walking in wearing jeans and a t-shirt and walking in dressed in a well-tailored suit. The jeans and t-shirt may look alright but the suit, well, that’s just snazzy. People notice snazzy.

  4. Make eye contact.

    When speaking with people face to face, make eye contact. If you’re speaking to your waiter, take your nose out of your menu and actually look up and talk to him like he’s a person, not just an order-taking machine. Conversation is about making connection and one of the ways we do that is through eye contact. It helps build trust and tells the other person that you are taking them seriously and care about what they’re saying.

  5. Put your grocery cart away. 

    One of my biggest grocery store peeves is seeing shopping carts hanging out in the parking lot. Unless you need to jet off to some dire emergency, take the extra minute and put your grocery cart where it belongs. And don’t just leave it there haphazardly, nest it in with the others. My OCD self has actually straightened out crooked carts because I couldn’t get mine in. It takes a couple of minutes, your groceries will be fine. Be a dear and save the employees the headache.

  6. Put items back where you found them. 

    We teach our children this when they’re young but have you noticed how messy we grownups can be sometimes? If you’re in a waiting room, put the magazine back on the rack or table where you found it. If you’re at Walmart and you change your mind about an item, put it back on the shelf where you found it, not in another department on the other side of the store. There are times when you just have to leave something in the next convenient place but don’t make it a habit of leaving things where they’re not supposed to.

  7. Don’t be a cheap tipper. 

    Be prepared to tip well when you go out. Don’t just give the minimum across the board. If you truly weren’t satisfied with the service then just give the minimum, I think that’s our duty as customers. But if you really appreciated the service, be as generous as you can reasonably afford. And if you’re a regular at an establishment, definitely be generous with the staff because you don’t want to be the one that causes eyes to roll cause you’re known for being the cheap one.

  8. Always ask how they’re doing.

    When someone asks you how you’re going, always return the favor and ask how they’re doing. I’ve heard genuine surprise and appreciation in voices over the phone when I’ve done that which means I can only imagine how many customers never take the time to ask. Remember, you’re making a connection. That connection may only last a few minutes but go ahead and make the most of that time by being genuinely friendly. You might just make their day!

  9. Show your appreciation.

    At the end of a conversation or transaction, always, always, show your appreciation for their time. For me, it’s generally something simple like, Thanks so much for you time, I really appreciate it, have a good day! Sometimes, if someone just really did a fantastic job, I’ll lay it on thick, Thank you sooooo much, you’re a lifesaver! I really appreciate you taking the time to help me figure this out! And be appreciative even if your problem wasn’t solved. Thank them for trying and be gracious when they apologize.

  10. Don’t act entitled.

    I said earlier that people notice snazzy. Well people notice jerks too. Don’t be the jerk who acts like she’s entitled the best of everything. People who got on the phone and spoke to me like I owed them something shut me down in seconds flat. You know the kind I’m talking about. They’re the ones who go around like they own the place and when they say “jump” they expect you to ask “how high?”. Yes, you may be paying for a service but it’s the people on the other side who get to determine how well your experience is going to be. Conscientious people like doing things for conscientious people. Don’t be a jerk. Be gracious, humble, and conscientious.

There is a lot of lousy customer service out there to be sure. But don’t add to the mess and act lousy. We’re all customers, we might as well be go at it!

What are some ways you try to be a good customer/patron/patient? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

7. The Next Step | 31 Days

This is post 7/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I’ve just committed to NaNoWriMo. Again.

I mean, I’ve got a working title and everything. 

Two attempts in past years and I’ve never finished NaNoWriMo. And my Inner Idiot is poking furiously at me cause he’s totally indignant.

What do you think you’re doing? You have no business trying to write a novel in a month!! You think you’re going to write 50,000 words? Really? When are you going to have time for that!?! You’re kidding me right now!

Yeah, I know, I have no business writing a novel in a month but you know what? It’s a next step. 

Writing for 31 days in a row is a step in the direction of really owning this thing called being a writer. I know that when I get up in the morning, a blog post needs to be written and published before I go to bed that night. Intellectually, it sounds so basic and it is but in reality, it’s so hard. But it’s day 7 and I haven’t skipped a day yet. And I’m committed to the next 24. Who says I can’t crank out 50,000 words in 30 days?

Oh yeah, my Inner Idiot. But who’s listening to him anyway? Moving on.  

I’m a write… Oh, it’s so hard to write or say those words, like I haven’t earned the certification or something but *clears throat* let’s try again.

I’m a writer. But practice isn’t included. I want to be a good writer. I want to treat it like it’s a real thing not just something I do here and there. I’m not trying to write the next American classic, I’m just taking on the challenge of honing in my craft. 

Because writing’s my art. 

I’m kind of on this kick of doing hard things whether or not it’s your passion or are particularly good at it. And that’s just a function of what I’m personally going through. First steps are hard because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Next steps are hard too but now you’re gaining some momentum and that’s got a freak factor all it’s own. But you have to take that first step. And then you have to take the next step. And for me, NaNoWriMo is the next step. 

In college, I had a rhythm to my work. One test after another after another. One set of classes this term and another set the next term. The work was hard but I pretty much knew what the next step was.

But that’s so not how the real world works. More often than not, you take the next step not knowing what you’ll find or how it’ll turn out. You just pray you’ve done your research, asked the right questions and prepared as best you could beforehand.

But you can only prepare so much. At some point you just have to do. Yeah, it’s scary as all get out and yeah, maybe you have ‘no business’ doing it but if you feel that pull, that calling, that’s a real thing and it deserves your notice. And when you get to a point when you feel like God’s placed something in your heart to do, and you can’t think about anything else, then take that first step. 

And then take the next. 

#write31days

5. You’re Not Good at Everything | 31 Days

This is post 5/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

One point. One measly, stinkin’ point. How in the world did I fail by one point?!?!

This wasn’t my first CLEP exam but it was my first fail.  Standing there with my score in hand, my fried brain feeling so utterly at sea, I had no idea what to do next. The worst part about the whole thing was I had to wait six months to retake the test. Stupid test.

It was my first attempt at the College Algebra CLEP exam. Math. The one subject that always been my arch nemesis in school. I don’t have a natural liking or ability for it so any good grades I managed to receive came from long hard hours of working at it. And I generally did not enjoy it. Math. The only subject I’ve ever been tutored in while in high school. And now, after all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into prepping for that exam, I failed. By one point.

Ugh.

I have a confession to make. I wasn’t going to share this but…I snoozed again this morning. Yeah, I know, Monday morning and I already fell off the wagon. Now I’m behind in my routine. Again. 

We all have a list of things we’re not particularly good at. Those things we can’t seem to conquer, master, or get over. Sometimes they’re such simple things and we don’t know why it’s so tough to just do it

I should be able to do this! My friends can do it, why is it so hard to get it done?!

We compare, we calculate, we reason, we make excuses. 

Stop it. Let me tell you something. 

You’re not good at everything.

You’re just not. And that’s okay, you don’t have to be. I think we all know this intellectually but then we face a task or situation that requires us to perform and we kick ourselves for not being able to deliver. It happens in school, on the job, in our families, with our friends. 

So I want you to say it. Go ahead and say it. 

I’m not good at everything and I don’t have to be.

Now the pressure is off and you can focus on two things: 1. cultivating and capitalizing on the things you’re naturally good at, 2. searching out the help you need to work on the things you’re not good at but still need to get done or delegating the task to someone else who is actually good at it.   

Obviously, that College Algebra exam wasn’t something I could delegate, so I got a tutor to help me work through the material and prep for a re-take. I passed the second time around and washed my hands of math classes forever.

Until my final term at TESC when I had no choice but to fulfill a three-credit slot with a math class. Are you serious!?

Sometimes you don’t win. You have to grin and bare it.

I’m still not great at math. I still snooze in the morning and struggle with my routines despite my best intentions. I’m not good at everything and I don’t have to be. I do know what I want to be good at and I have to work hard at it until I am. However, I won’t kick myself when I fail at the things that don’t come naturally to me. I tried and I’m going to try again. I tried and I’m going to figure out what needs to change in order to get it right the next time around.

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The BF and I have this saying about knowing enough to figure out what we don’t know. And that’s education. You know that there are things that need to be done and knowledge and expertise that are required to accomplish them. So you figure out how to get it done, you don’t just leave it or do it halfway cause you’re not good at it.

You know you need those credits for school so figure out how to get it done. You may not like the subject and that class may not apply to anything in your real life but you have the satisfaction of figuring out a problem and doing your best.

You know that project needs to be done at work or in your home so you figure out how to get it done yourself or delegate it to someone who will do it for you. Now you have the satisfaction of a job well done and the added experience tucked in your pocket for next time.

You’re not good at everything. That doesn’t me you can’t or shouldn’t get it done, you just have to put in extra effort to make it happen.

I’m through with CLEP exams and I’ll never take another math class (fingers crossed) but that just leaves room for the million and one other things that I’m not good at but need to figure out a way to get done. So I’ll keep learning and growing so I can master and conquer.

I’m not good at everything but I’ll do my best to do my best at everything.

#write31days

4. Snapshots | 31 Days

This is post 4/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

Last year and the year before, I had no time to really enjoy the seasons. It was the worst during the holidays. I’d bring homework to family parties and was always thinking about my next deadline. I was constantly running at breakneck speed in order to get everything done and done well.

I understand that there are times for that. When you just have to get it done.

But I hate it. I hate missing out on the present in pursuit of a future outcome. While I think that God expects us to do good, hard work, I believe He also expects us to enjoy the beauty around us.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

Psalm 34:8

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

Yesterday, we took communion in church and at that end of the service, we sang Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. That’s the whole point of communion–remembering the sacrifice, the great and terrible sacrifice He made for us. That’s the point of church–to recognize Him as the Creator and Ruler of all. The whole point of our existence is bring glory, honor, and praise to our Heavenly Father and we can only do so when we break from the rat race and fix our eyes on Him.

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Did my God create a beautiful world or what?

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The birds are calling out to one another overhead, the sun is shining on my back, the wind in is rustling through the trees. Food cooks on a smokey morning fire and I stopped caring what my hair looks like. No one care what your hair looks like when you’re camping.

God’s in His heaven. He’s working wonders in my life. I’m in a slower season now but whenever it does pick up again, as I’m sure it will, I want to still take time to take snapshots of the present. To be still. To know that God has and always will be in control. To remember that His mercy never fails and His love is big enough to cast out all my fears. To listen to my family and friends. To care about the happenings around me.

To put my life in perspective.

Our work is important. But the everyday moments deserve our notice. They’re wonderful in their simplicity. God gives them to us as a gift. Don’t miss out on the beautiful present in pursuit of a future, as good as it may be. Life is too short, too precious, to ignore the life we live now.

#write31days

10 Things Women Should Never Buy Cheap

I am not a big spender.  

I can safely label myself as a thrifty shopper.  I head for sale and clearance racks when I walk into a store.  Some of the best pieces in my closet are second hand and I rarely buy books new.  I’m not all that concerned about brand name clothing and I have no problem with choosing the generic over brand when buying groceries.  In fact, sometimes I’ll just go without cause I can’t justify the price even if I can afford it.  However, as I get older, I realize that there are some things that are worth forking over a little extra for when you can.

Before I get into it, however, let me just clarify that there is a difference between inexpensive and cheap.  You can get good quality stuff inexpensively and you can also get cheap stuff at a premium.  I’m all about quality without breaking the bank.  Aren’t we all?

Everyone has a different definition of ‘inexpensive’.  A friend may say something like, “I got such a great deal on that dress!” And then I hear the price and think, “Goodness, that’s expensive!”  With that in mind, I’m going to speak in mostly general terms and you can decide on the price points.      

Okay, let’s hit the list.

10 Things a Woman Should Never Buy Cheap (1)

1. Razors

Okay, I have a confession to make: I’ve been using cheap razors since…forever. And I knew better too. But there is something in me that has a hard time justifying expensive razors. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. So I went through this ridiculous dance of nicks and less-than-close shaves. Drove me nuts. Until…ahem…last week. 

I was picking up a few things at the store and I saw some of the higher end razors on sale. Before I could talk myself out of if, I snatched them up. Best decision I made all that week. I will have to get over the fact that next time, I’ll be paying the regular price but, whatever.  When you know you could raise the bar and get something better, go ahead and pay the extra bucks. It’s worth every penny. I have no idea why it took me this long to just do it.  

2. Feminine Products

Every girl has her preferred brand of feminine products. Just rest assured that as long as you can afford it, you deserve to treat yourself to the good stuff. Tampon users – cardboard or plastic apps? Yeah, no brainer here. And if you’re not wearing Depends, then there is no reason to feel like you are. Get the quality stuff, you’ll feel great (well, as good as you can during that time of the month) and you’ll never look back.

3. Sheets

On average, we spend about one third of our lives sleeping. That’s a lot of time between the sheets – you might as well be comfortable. Again, this is another thing that I have a hard time forking over the money for. But I love the feeling of nice soft sheets after a long hard day. Don’t break the bank with some ridiculously priced bed linens but get the best you can afford and really enjoy those 8 hours of shut eye.

4. Shoes

Girl, I grew up wearing Payless shoes and there ain’t nothing wrong with it. I even still have a couple pairs that are at least six years old, if not older. However, I must say there is a difference between Payless and the higher end brands you can get elsewhere.  Be kind to your pocketbook and look out for sales and clearances. When shopping for footwear that’ll get lots of wear, go for quality. They’ll last you much longer and pay for themselves more than a couple times over.

5. Undergarments

How often do we just put up with cheap cause “It’s okay, I can handle it.”  Yes, I’ve purchased the ‘two for $9’ bras and yeah they do the job.  But there’s no denying that higher end undergarments do the job much better and are much more comfortable! Besides, a good outfit needs the proper, um, foundation. Splurge a little on the front end and you won’t be replacing cheap bras and panties so often.

6. Pantyhose.

Ever buy the pantyhose that come, like, 5 in a package for about five or six bucks? Yeah, I always thought that was great cause they were inexpensive and they’d last longer than getting just one pair. But, in the words of Gershwin, it ain’t necessarily so.  Like razors and sheets, I don’t like paying out for pantyhose but I can definitely say that you get what you pay for.  If you take good care of them, one pricier pair can last longer than a few cheap ones.  They look and feel much, much nicer too!

7. Little Black Dress.

Every woman ought to have at least one LBD. The perfect dress is one that you can dress up or down, flatters your figure, and is simple to wear. Remember, you’re going for quality and inexpensive, not cheap.  I have a few of these fashion staples in my closet–one I bought at a thrift store, one on a Target clearance rack, one in the Philippines, and one was a gift.  Keep your eyes open and find pieces that fit your body well, are versatile, and don’t brake the bank.   

8. Perfume

Okay, I have to confess that this isn’t something I do personally.  I buy body spray from Bath & Body Works or VS, not perfume from a counter.  Why?  Cause it’s less expensive.  However, I think that’s better than buying the cheap knock off’s at Walmart.  You know, the perfume that’s supposed to be the expensive brand but has that funny after-smell? If you’re like me and you need or want to stick with the lesser expensive option in body spray, then that’s great, but IMO, if you’re going to wear perfume, wait until you can buy the real thing.  

9. Purse

I mentioned before that I’m not into brand names so I don’t care about whether something is Coach, Madden, or…whatever else, take your pick.  Seriously, I really don’t care.  But I do care about quality and higher end pieces do tend to last longer.  Every woman should have a good, quality go-to bag that they can carry around pretty much anywhere.  You may have to pay a few extra dollars but let me tell you, my maternal grandmother carried the same bag for years when I was a kid and I think it’s still the same one she carries today (I’m not completely sure).  Pay for the best you can and it’ll serve you well.

10. Groceries

In order to look and feel your best, you have to take care of your body.  That means buying the best foods you can to keep yourself as healthy as possible.  Unfortunately, sometimes it seems cheaper to eat junk than the good stuff but a healthy diet can be maintained if you’re purposeful about it.  Don’t go cheap when it comes to your health.  Buy the best quality foods you can afford and treat yourself with care.


There you have it.  Ten things women should never buy cheap.  What do you think I should add to the list?  I know we all have those special things we like to splurge on.  Let me know what you think! 🙂

– Elyssa

25 Things You Should Know Before You Turn 25

I turned 25 last week.  Still not sure if I feel different yet, lol.  I’m so blessed to have reached the beginning of a brand new year of life and I’m thankful but I can’t begin to tell you how different my life is from the way I envisioned it when I was 15.  Twenty-five was so old 10 years ago.  Now I’m here and I realize I was wrong…and right.  A quarter of a century is still young but it’s old enough to know a thing or two about life.  Here is a list of 25 things I’m glad I’ve learned so far or am still..ahem..trying to learn now.

25 Things

1. Life isn’t going to go the way you planned.

This is number one on my list for a reason.  Realize that you may not end up where you thought you’d be by the time you hit 25.  If you end up somewhere better, great!  If not, it’s totally okay.  Learn from any mistakes, do the best with what you’ve got and keep moving forward!!

2. Get your financial act together.

Know how to budget, do simple taxes, and be serious about your savings account.  You don’t want to set yourself up to live paycheck to paycheck.  Always have some kind of financial safety net.  It doesn’t have to be big; even something small is better than nothing.  We live in a crazy, uncertain world.  Anything can happen and we don’t have control over much but take control of what you can and minimize the risk of unpleasant surprises.

3. You don’t need to ‘hang out’ all the time.

Even the most social of social butterflies need alone time to chill, re-focus, and hear herself think.  Enjoy your friends but schedule time for a little solidarity.  People who are constantly around people and can’t stand to be by themselves are the ones who need some quiet time the most.  Light some candles, take a hot bath, read a book, do a crossword puzzle…be creative.  Your brain will thank you. Believe me.

4. Know your way around a kitchen.

You don’t have to be a culinary artist but know the basics of cooking and baking.  If you’re just starting out, pick a few recipes to master.  These are the dishes you can bring to a friend’s house or whip up when you’ve got last minute guests.  Get some cookbooks or actually read the food articles on your Pinterest boards.  If your single and don’t wish to remain so, then cooking is definitely something you’re going to need to learn if you want to raise a healthy, happy family. Plus, eating in on a regular basis is always cheaper and healthier than constantly eating out.

5. Get your wardrobe together.

Every adult should have a wardrobe that represents either the lifestyle that she leads or the one she wants to lead.  Know what wardrobe basics are.  Know the difference between fashion and trend.  The older you get, the more you want to steer clear of dressing too trendy.  Build your wardrobe with pieces that are stylish, long-lasting, and still reflect your unique personality.  Your tastes will probably change as the years pass but do take some time to really figure out what you want to say with your clothing.  How you present yourself to the world is important.  As much as we shouldn’t judge people from their appearance, first impressions make a difference.  Use that to your advantage and dress yourself with purpose and class.

6. Know when to shut up.

Plato is quoted to have said, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”  Mature adults know when to speak and when words are unnecessary.  Don’t speak every thought that pops into your head.  Don’t gossip or spread rumors.  Think before you open your mouth and really practice listening to other people.  You’ll develop better relationships, succeed professionally and get yourself in less trouble.

7. Be a student.

You may think that when you finish your formal education you get to call it quits on the pencils and books.  Not so my friend.  Graduation doesn’t mean the learning stops.  The most important thing you should learn from formal education really doesn’t have anything to do with your degree or certification.  Formal education should teach you how to be a student for life.  Think about all the things you’ve always wanted to learn and figure out how to learn them.  It may mean a free course online or a class at your local recreation center.  Whatever it is, make time to immerse yourself in what you’re passionate about.

8. Have friends that are older than you.

I was one of the first children born in my parents’ circle of friends so I spent my early years around mostly adults.  I’ve since learned that having older adult friends is one of the smartest things a young person can do.  They’ve lived more of life than you and can speak wisdom into your life.  Having friends outside your age demographic challenges your brain and gives you broader perspective in life.  Develop some relationships with adults who are older than you–it’ll be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

9. Listen to your parents.

Yes, you’re an adult.  Yes, you need the freedom to make your own decisions.  But listen up.  Your parents have done this adult thing for a bit longer than you have–pay attention to what they have to say.  That doesn’t mean they’re always right or that you have to agree with everything they say.  But give them a chance, they’ve got experience and that counts for a lot.

10. Keep house.

Whether you’re in a dorm room, an apartment, or living with your folks, learn basic home ec skills.  Remember, if you’re single and you don’t want to remain so, you’re going to need to know how to run a household.  Period.  Can you iron, do dishes, dust, vacuum and clean a bathroom?  Great.  How about change a lightbulb, put a piece of furniture together, hook up the entertainment system, talk to the cable guy or get the dry cleaning done?  There is more to adulthood than keeping a job.  The household you decide to set up will need your attention in every aspect from the houseplants to the rent check.  Learn all you can about running a household during whatever season you’re in now so you’ll be as ready as possible when the time comes.

11. Unplug every once in a while.

It wasn’t so long ago that cell phones did little more than make and receive calls.  You used to have to pay-per-text.  Remember T9?  And apps  What’s an app?  There was life before smart phones.  There is an up and coming generation that won’t ever believe that but it is true.  Put your phone down, step away from your computer, and turn off the TV.  Log out, sign out, exit, shut down, and unplug.  You won’t die.  It’ll be there when you get back.  I get it, there’s stuff going on and you need to be apart of it.  But I promise, email can be checked later, the latest Vine craze can wait, and FB statuses don’t always need updating.  Go and check out life beyond the screen.  Some of you remember what that’s like, yeah?  It still has it’s charm too.

 12. Leave the drama in high school.

If I had a nickel for every time my parents called me a drama queen…well, I’d have a lot of nickels.  Some people are born dramatic, some learn the art, and some have drama thrust upon them, to borrow from Shakespeare.  I think I’m a little of all three, if that’s even possible. It’s not an endearing quality and I’m sloooowly learning to keep it in check. There are times when drama can’t be avoided, it just happens.  When it does, keep your reaction and involvement at a minimum.  Don’t be remembered as the one who made the biggest fuss.  Remember all the junk that went on in high school?  Yeah, don’t repeat all that nonsense.  Leave high school drama at high school, grow up and act like an adult.

13. Kids are awesome.

I love kiddos and we’ve got lots of them in my extended and church families.  If you’re single and or childless, you’ve got the opportunity to be the ‘cool’ auntie or uncle.  You may be paying school loans or rent but you’re not paying for diapers, school tuition, or pediatrician bills.  Spoil the kiddos in your life a little.  Even in this tech-crazed world, a box of crayons and paper will still occupy the modern child.  And when your budget won’t allow even the simplest gifts, your time and attention means a lot. Kids remember more than we give them credit for.  Make friends with them and their parents now and you may be the trusted adult they go to when they need someone to talk to later in life.

14. Go to sleep.

You learned how to pull all-nighters in school and a parent-enforced bedtime is a thing of the past.  Just because you know how to sleep late and function during the day doesn’t mean you should.  This is one that I really struggle with.  I love the solitude of the night and I’ve done some great work during late hours.  However, the truth of the matter is the best work is done when the mind is rested.  So go to sleep at a decent hour, rise early and hit the ground running.  Sleeping late is a bad habit that’s worth breaking and your 30-year old, 40-year old, 50-year old self will thank you profusely.

15. Take care of your body.

Just like it needs sleep, your body needs good nutrition, hydration, and exercise to function best.  Eat lots of fruits and veggies and drink lots of water.  Find an exercise you enjoy and do it at least a few times a week.  Limit your sugar and fat intake and don’t eat late at night.  You will age more gracefully when you take care of your body when you’re young.

16. Know what you believe.

You should be able to have an intelligent conversation about what you’re beliefs are.  Don’t subscribe to beliefs simply because your parents or friends believe them.  Own your what you believe.  Form opinions on purpose and be able to back them up.  It’s okay if you’re not sure what you believe about something but don’t stop there.  Ask questions, study the subject and come to a conclusion.  The world is noisy with sound of a million different philosophies, ideas, and opinions.  Start with God and His word and you’ll have the best framework with which to build your worldview.

17. Know your limitations.

Youth is a great time to try new things, have adventures and step outside of your comfort zone.  But know your limitations.  It’s okay to say ‘no’.  Don’t do things just cause your friends are.  Maybe now isn’t the best time for that.  Check in with your instincts.  If you don’t feel ready, capable, or comfortable, pay attention.  Be smart about your choices and don’t stretch yourself too far.

18. Sleeping around isn’t cool.

I know this is so not PC but sleeping around isn’t cool.  You’re only stealing from your future by shacking up with people you’re not committed to.  Treat yourself with more respect and dignity than that.  It may feel grown up and mature but you don’t have to sleep with someone to have a great relationship.  And if your partner doesn’t think so, then they’re not worth your time.  Believe me, there are so many other aspects of a great relationship than sex.  Work on those things and have fun without jumping into bed.  Your future spouse will thank you.

19. If you want to get married someday, act like it.

Having said that, think about whether or not you really want to get married.  If you do, then act like it.  Don’t give too much of yourself away to too many people.  Focus on being friends first before deciding to date exclusively.  And friends don’t get benefits if you know what I mean.  Move slowly so you can decide if the other person is worth moving forward with.  Anything worth having is worth waiting and working for.  Relationships need time to develop and mature, give them that time.  Ever after is a looooooong time and real love is too sweet to settle for cheap imitations.  No need to rush.  Your future husband or wife is a real, living, breathing person somewhere out there.  Are you living a life you’d be proud to share with him or her?  If not, it’s about time you did something about it.

20. Singleness is a gift.

There is nothing wrong with being single.  In fact, it’s a necessary season in life to figure yourself out.  When you don’t have the distraction of a significant other, you can get to know yourself, your passions, and your goals.  So what you have to play third or fifth wheel again.  I can almost guarantee you that even the happiest couples miss bits and pieces of their singleness every once in a while.  When we enter a new life season, there is often a trading something for something else.  Enjoy and make the most of your singleness before you have to trade it in for being apart of a team.

21. Life isn’t fair and it doesn’t owe you a thing.

I’m sorry if this is news to you but life don’t owe you a thing.  It’s your responsibility to make something of yourself and you’ll only get as much as you put into it–and sometimes, you won’t even get that much.  Entitlement isn’t a luxury you can afford.  You are going to get used, betrayed and stabbed in the back, I’m sorry.  Sometimes the mess and hurt will be your fault and other times your best efforts will only earn you disappointment and heartache.  But God is gracious and life will always be worth living no matter how hard things get.  Take responsibility for your actions, work hard, take the bad with the good and learn how to get back up when you get knocked down.

22. Give a care.

I’ve met people who truly do not give a care about other people’s situations.  They may care about the things that relate to themselves but that’s it.  These people don’t go very far.  Oh, they may succeed professionally but they miss out on so many other things that matter more.  Take genuine interest in the people around you.  Ask real questions not just the polite, small talk niceties.  Don’t be nosy or get into people’s business but show that you care about and value them.  Smile.  Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  Give up your seat.  Offer to help when it’s needed.  Go out of your way.  Relationships are about what you can give not what you can get.  Care enough to give your best to others–your co workers, your family and friends, the elderly couple in the grocery store, the teller at the bank, they all deserve your care.  Give it freely and without condition.  You’ll be a much happier person when you do!

23. There is a difference embracing your inner-child and acting childish.

There are some things that shouldn’t change when we grow up like enjoying an afternoon at the park, a favorite childhood story, or a game of Candyland with your nieces and nephews.  There is a part of childhood that every adult should hold onto or else we run the risk of over-working ourselves and taking the wrong things too seriously.  Children value the simple things, they’re not complicated and will tell it like it is.  Take the best of childhood and pair it with the wisdom that should come with age.

That’s not the same as acting childish. Don’t run around doing stupid things, not thinking of how it’ll effect other people.  Don’t throw tantrums, toss around people’s feelings, or be careless with other people’s things.  That’s childish behavior and you should know better than that.  Be responsible, say what you mean, and don’t sulk when things don’t go your way.

 24. Stick to your commitments.

You said you’d have lunch with a friend.  Don’t ditch just cause something else came up and it sounded like more fun.  You said you’d participate in a group project.  Don’t flake cause you decide you don’t feel like doing it anymore.  It’s one thing to forget, get sidetracked or over-booked.  It’s an entirely different thing to choose to skip out on something because you don’t feel it’s worth your time.  Don’t be wishy-washy, flaky, or unreliable.  It’s childish and rude and you’ll only frustrate people.

25. Know how to give a good handshake.

One of my biggest pet peeves is a fishy handshake.  It’s weak, limp and you have to hold on to the other person’s hand or it will just slide past your fingers.  This is especially annoying with guys.  Know how to give a good, firm handshake, complete with a friendly look in the eye. No need for a death grip but don’t shy away either.  Good handshakes will vary depending on the setting and the person but don’t miss out on mastering this piece of social intercourse.  People will believe you when you say, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”


If you’re going to turn 25, then take the opportunity to learn as much as you can before you hit the quarter-life mark.  If you’re past 25, then take the opportunity to look at what you know and what you probably should know by now.  Life is a cumulative journey and there’s always more to learn and more ways to improve.  Embrace the best and live life to the fullest!

March Report Card

It’s April, yo!  And that means it’s time for my report card for March.  In case you didn’t know, I write a to do list at the beginning of every month and then grade myself at the end of the month to see how many things I actually got done.  You can check out my to do lists and report cards on the sidebar.  For now, let’s take a look at how I did in March!

March Report Card (1)

  1. Plant the Garden F.  This isn’t really my fault (yes, with the excuses).  We had some landscape issues, and weather funkiness, and…okay so maaaaybe I could have tried harder. *SIGH* I’ve got plans to get some stuff later this week or early next week.  Because of the lateness of the season, I’m going to stick to mostly flowers and herbs.  As for my goal, yep, March was a fail.
  2. Read 3 Books – A.  I did manage to finish several titles last month.  I finished a print book I started in January (Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman), one audiobook that I started two years ago but dropped and never finished (A Time to Kill by John Grisham), a whole book on my Kindle (Rich Mom Home Business Startup Bible by Renae Christine, one of my all-time favorite YouTubers), and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby 8-book series on audiobook (it was a lovely trip to my childhood).  Thank God for audiobooks!
  3. Learn 1 Song on the Piano – F. This didn’t happen in any shape or form.
  4. Start a Recipe Binder – C. I’ve started intentionally collecting recipes and planning the binder organizer but haven’t put it together yet.
  5. Spring Cleaning Challenge – F.  It really has just been downhill, y’all, oh man.  This didn’t happen either.

Recurring Goals

  1. Work out daily, M-F – A. I have been working out faithfully, thank you very much!  I’ve skipped maybe a day or two but my sore muscles testify to that well-deserved A!
  2. Blog at least twice a week – B. I lost some time transitioning to this site.
  3. Practice piano for at least an hour daily – F. Yeah, didn’t happen.

I’m not even going to go through the motions of calculating my grade, I failed.

Not dwelling, moving forward!

I’ll be posting my April To Do List tomorrow!

Happy April, y’all!

Elyssa

How To Stay on Top of Your Game When You’ve Lost Motivation

With two and a half months away from the end of my degree, and I kid you not it’s a wonderful thing to be so close I can almost taste it but it’s also hard to keep myself motivated these last few miles.  You know how it is when you’re working out and you’ve only got a few more reps, a few more seconds, a few more steps to the finish line and if you can…just…keep…moving…just.a bit…..longer,…you’ll *panting, catching breath*…make it!  Yeah, that’s pretty much where I’m at at the moment.  Motivation to keep up the pace is slowly ebbing away and I do more daydreaming about being done than I do actually doing the work to ensure I finish well!

No matter if you’re nearing a particular finish line, you’re trying to stay afloat in a daily grind that doesn’t seem to have a definable game plan, or your gearing up for a new project or adventure, staying on top of your game can be super difficult sometimes.  Too often, motivation requires motivation.  That’s like a whole other brand of energy and where are you supposed to get that??  As I near my educational finish line and gear up for life after college, I’ve recently tucked a phrase into the pocket of my adulthood to keep me pressing forward –

Want it. Claim it. Do it.

I uttered these words during a conversation with the BF a while ago and liked the way they sounded.  I wrote them down and liked the way they looked too.  Motivation to get or stay motivated requires a starting point.  These words have since become a way to find that starting point and run with it.  Here’s how I break it down and apply them now.

How to Stay Motivated

WANT IT 

First, you’ve got to decide what exactly you want to do.  Are you trying to shift gears into a new wake up/work out routine?  Are you trying to find ways to boost productivity at work?  Maybe you’ve got ideas for a new start up or you’ve got a business plan to rework.  Are you trying to make time for a new hobby or take up an old one?  Are you trying to stick to a study schedule to ensure that you turn in your work on time and never have to race to meet a deadline? (Oh, me! Me! That’s meeeee!)  Write it down. Make a list.  Write down what you need to do in order to finish a project.  Think about what’s necessary and what may be extraneous or unneeded.

When I was planning my new blog and a couple of the other projects I’ve got simmering at the moment, I spent a lot of time sketching out my ideas on big white poster boards in different colored markers.  I scrapped poster after poster until it looked the way I wanted it to.  Physically writing things down and mapping them in bright colors is how I plan things out.  You may do just as well with a legal pad and a No. 2 pencil or a stylus on a smartphone app.  Do whatever works for you in order to get your thoughts out of your head and in front of your eyes.  But definitely WRITE IT DOWN. Want it in print.The more you see something, the more you’re apt to pay attention to it.

When it comes to plans for our lives, always pray and ask God if this is something you should pursue.  We may want something that He may not want for us.  Make sure that you’re following His lead and not just grasping at things that don’t have a place in your life. You may need to get someone else’s trusted opinion.  Depending on what ‘it’ is, you’re going to need varying degrees of counsel on the matter.  There’s an obvious difference between changing up your morning routine and choosing whether or not to accept a new job offer.  Whatever the case may be, take the matter up with God and seek His wisdom and leading.

CLAIM IT

Here’s where I usually fall off the wagon.  I want a lot of things in my life but I don’t claim them.  I don’t talk about my goals.  I don’t think through the action steps that are necessary to make ‘it’ happen.  I don’t plan, strategize, or make time.  Sometimes I don’t think enough of my wishes to make them come alive in my everyday.  After years of wanting and wishing, I finally decided that this kind of lax behavior wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

When I settled on Purple Ink Studios, I started talking about it like it already existed.  I treated it like it was already a part of my life.  I revved up my blogging research, wrote down my ideas, and made plans to make changes to my social media.  Purple Ink Studios existed to me way before the blog went live.  It was scary cause I didn’t know what I was doing some of the time, but I knew it’s what I wanted to do, so I claimed it.

Once you’ve decided you want something, treat it like it’s already  important even if you’re still at the drawing board.  You don’t have to know what you’re doing for it to be meaningful.  Do your research.  Create space to make ‘it’ happen.  It may require giving up something else or reprioritizing.  This is where you evaluate if this is something you really want to do.  We make time for things that are important to us.  If you want it badly enough, you’ll claim it as your project, goal, or lifestyle change.

DO IT

Now you just have to do it.  Easy peasy, right?  Nope.  This is the hard part.  Now you have to put everything into action.  It means changing up your schedule, acquiring a new skill, breaking a bad habit, taking on a new one.  Whatever ‘it’ is that you’re trying to do, if it’s something new, it’s going to take time to get a rhythm going.  You’re probably going to fail once or twice or ten times before you get where you need to be but don’t give up.  Just keep doing it.

One thing that’s so important to remember and it’s something I wrote about in my post, What 2015 Has Taught Me So Far, you have to allow yourself some grace for when you goof up.  Mistakes are a part of life.  We don’t have control over everything so we do the best we can with what we’ve got and when we fall, we pick ourselves up and keep going.  There’s no shame in failure or missteps, but there is shame in giving up simply because ‘it’ was too hard.  You’re better than that.  The path to success isn’t lined with daisies or *insert preferred flower here*, it’s lined with hard work, discipline, and experimentation until we find what works best.

Remember, if you want something badly enough, you’ll claim it and do whatever it takes to make it happen.

If you want something -CTT

So, have you got some goals floating around in your brain but you haven’t quite committed yet?  Or maybe you just need a push to keep going down the path you’re already on.  Start doodling to figure out what exactly what you want.  Do your research, ask around, talk about it, pray about it.  We all need change every once and again.  If something’s tugging at you and you want to make a move toward life improvement, go ahead and really want it.  Then claim it.

Then do it.

Happy Tuesday afternoon!!