Where Were You?

Today is September 11th. 17 years ago today the world changed. 17 years ago today, as a freshman in high school, I learned how very real terrorism is. As a young, naive little 14-year-old girl, I never had to think about it. I never truly realized. I lived in my own little bubble.  Then I went to school on 9/11/01 and walked into 1st period.

I can’t remember the exact chain of events that happened during that period, but what I remember is this: our choir director that year was a man that expected nothing less than perfection from all of his choirs. Even the freshman girls who had only been in session for a few weeks. Rehearsals were not a time to mess around. They were a time for focused rehearsal and getting things done. Nothing was more important than rehearsing and getting ready for whatever performance was coming, even if it was weeks away. He was teaching us how to be good choir members and good performers. For those 48 minutes first thing in the morning, there was nothing more important in our little freshman world.

On 9/11, Mr. Swanson stopped rehearsal and turned on the tv to the newsfeed covering what was happening all over the country. I repeat: Our director stopped rehearsal and turned on the tv.  This simply did not happen! This is how I knew something was up. I didn’t really understand what it was, but I knew that it was important enough that Mr. Swanson stopped rehearsal and we watched whatever the current newsfeed was.  I don’t remember exactly what was on the screen and I don’t remember what time it was exactly, but this choir nerd (in high school there was nothing more important than choir and show choir to me. This didn’t change all 4 years) took Mr. Swanson’s reaction to mean it was a big deal. 

I honestly don’t remember what happened the rest of the day. I recall the tv being on in most of our classrooms, but that’s about it. I happened to be one of the people that didn’t lose someone close to me that day, and I know how lucky I am to have that be the case because so many others did. Having a husband that gets on an airplane every single week, I can’t begin to imagine the panic I’d be feeling if it was this year instead of 17 years ago.

That’s what I remember about September 11th. Where were you? What were you doing? 

 

5 Things I Do Every Single Night Before Bed

Just like I have 5 things I do every morning, I also have a set list of things I do every single evening before bed. Bedtime routines are ideal for helping set the tone for getting ready to go to bed and fall asleep easily, making sure you’re rested and ready for the day ahead. My evening routine, like my morning routine, is flexible based on what is actually happening, but there are several things I do every night, regardless of what is going on, what time it is, or what I’ve been up to this evening. 

1. Skincare

Beauty experts everywhere will emphasize the importance of “taking the day off “of your face at the end of the day. Makeup, dirt, grime, and everything else we encounter throughout the day needs to get washed off. This helps prevent clogged pores, acne, aging, and is overall just good common sense.  The older I get, the more I’m getting into skincare instead of makeup. A solid evening skincare routine is relaxing (warm water, rubbing in moisturizer and serums, etc feels very pampering and spa-like) and so beneficial. I’ve got several steps in my evening skincare, and I’m really loving the results I’m seeing as I prioritize this routine each and every night. 

  • Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser
  • Swipe micellar water over my face to make sure the makeup is all gone
  • Cleanse with a cream cleanser
  • My new favorite exfoliating peel pads
  • A moisturizing serum
  • Night Cream
  • Eye Cream
  • My all-time favorite nighttime lip moisturizer

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5 Things I Do Every Single Morning

I have a morning routine, as most people do, and while it’s sometimes a bit more flexible on some days than others, there are a few things I do every single day, regardless of how much time I have, what’s going on, or what might get in the way of my normal routine. 

1. Make the bed

I can not stand knowing my bed isn’t made. There is something that feels refreshing about a made bed. I feel like no matter what other messes are in the bedroom, if the bed is made it feels a lot cleaner and more organized. In the same way, even on days where my bedroom is perfectly tidy, if I see the comforter all piled up in disarray (something that typically only happens when my husband is in the bed), it completely takes away from the tidiness of the room and all I see is the chaos. The bed gets made every single morning. This is important enough where I’ve even managed to get my husband to see this is important and he will make the bed too. Epic wife win!

2. Drink Coffee

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What I’d Do With A Million Dollars

Imagine that you woke up this morning and discovered $1,000,000 in your bank account. Not a million dollars that the government has to take a large chunk of for taxes or anything like that. Just a strait million that you were gifted and was all yours to spend however you wanted.  Can you picture it?

What would you do with it?

I don’t mean what will you tell people you’ll do with it to make you look good or anything like that. What would you honestly do with a million dollars? 

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September 2018 Goals

A new month means a new set of goals! While I am pumped for September and everything it means (fall, cooler weather, pumpkin spice, and other fall flavors, etc), it also means that we’re entering the last third of the year. This time of year is always crunch time, as I tend to realize just how many of my goals for the year I have yet to achieve. This realization is always a depressing one, but rather than dwell on it, I’m going to move forward and use my focus to make these last 4 months of the year the most productive ones of 2018.

Looking Back at August

Before we talk about the month ahead, I always like to look back at the previous month and reflect on how I did achieving the goals I set for myself.

Vlogust: 31 videos in 31 days was a lofty goal, and while I didn’t actually succeed (people who upload daily are crazy!), I did upload a whopping 22 videos in 31 days. That’s still almost twice my normal amount.

Declutter: I did end up decluttering my makeup collection (with several videos for your viewing pleasure on my channel), my clothing, and I started on my office. 

2 blog posts per week: Yeah… I published 4 posts all month. Whoops…

Get back on track: In general, August was a great month for this. I went back to tracking Points Plus, rekindled my spark for working out, and have in general been feeling pretty good about all things health and weight loss related. Basically, I’m using August as the month that springboards me into September and hopefully a month full of success. 

September Goals

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August 2018 Favorites

Another month come and gone and it’s time for my monthly favorites. Every month I curate a list of things that I’ve been using and loving all month long from all different areas of life. This month we have some food and beauty favorites, as well as some media favorites that I was particularly impressed by. Without taking too much time, let’s jump right into my favorites for the month of August. 

Beauty

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Powder: I purchased this powder foundation a few months ago when I was trying to find face products formulated without talc, bismuth oxide, or silicones. This proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. When I went to replace my old favorite powder foundation (which had talc as the first ingredient…sad day), and this powder was one of only a few options I could find. Since I know and trust the It Cosmetics brand, I decided to give it a try. While it took me a few months to appreciate it, this powder is now one of the only products I use every day.

The coverage is sheer to full, and it does, in fact, build up to a full coverage foundation, which is something I look for to cover the acne issues I have along my jawline. I apply it with my favorite flat powder foundation brush, and in less than a minute, I am out the door. There is SPF 50 build right into the powder, so when I’m out and about I don’t necessarily have to take the extra step to apply a sunscreen. I find that the IT Cosmetics powder lasts a long time, and I don’t just mean in the compact. When I apply it in the morning, I notice there is still a significant amount of product to be removed at the end of the day, whereas with other products seem to melt into the skin and be barely there at the end of the day. While some of the coverage does fade ever so slightly (and reapplication is a breeze), my skin goes all day and into the evening with a coverage that leaves me feeling good about my face. On my more recent videos, people have been complimenting my skin and make up a ton. It’s all this powder, my friends. Quick, easy, and flawless! Read more

The Good Old (Labor) Days

It’s almost 10 pm on Labor Day and I’m just sitting down to write. In my bed, with the new season of The Great British Baking Show playing in the background. This is real life.

Today was a rainy and gloomy day, making me feel rather sad for people with any Labor Day plans that took place outside.  It was a pretty standard Monday for me with getting to the gym, uploading my monthly favorites video (full transparency, that was also the post that was supposed to go up today, but I ran out of time and the mental bandwidth to get it done today, so here we are), spent time with my husband before he left for his week’s travels, spent time talking final wedding plans for my baby sister’s big day next Sunday, and even saw a friend. It was a busy, productive day, but it wasn’t my typical Labor Day. Truth be told, I haven’t had a typical Labor day in several years.

You see, for me and for my family, Labor Day has only ever been about two things: a cookout and having our eyes glued to the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. 

Do you remember watching that? I certainly do.

As at least some of you probably know, the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon was a 21-hour telethon that contained hours of top-notch entertainment as they raised millions of dollars over the years for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fact: even though Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (aka what I have) is a nerve disease and not technically Muscular Dystrophy, the MDA supported CMT under the MDA’s umbrella. Throughout the course of my childhood, I was personally impacted by the work of the MDA in the form of years of visits to the MDA clinic downtown and several memorable summers spent at MDA camp, which is a free camp for MDA patients.

It’s an incredible experience that allows kids that have many various levels of disability (we’re talking from kids more mobile to me to others that are wheelchair bound and have machines that help them breathe) to have a week away from family, surrounded by others just like them and an amazing crew and staff that make every single camper feel special, loved, and NORMAL. Camp was always an incredible experience for me, and I was always so sad to leave.  Even now, years later, I have a few young teenagers that follow me on Instagram that also have CMT, and they messaged me telling me about how excited they were for camp, and also followed up when they got home saying it was an amazing time. It makes my heart so happy to know that this camp is still making such a huge impact on kids lives, even after the telethon got canceled. 

Yes, you read that right. They canceled the telethon. The MDA telethon started way back in 1966. Actually, Jerry Lewis started hosting telethons to benefit the MDA back in 1952, but it wasn’t until 1966 that the telethon I grew up loving and appreciating came into being. The 21-hour telethon began the night before Labor Day, ran all night long, and until 6 or 7 pm on Labor day, and it was such a joy to watch. Broadway shows, famous singers, and celebrities from all different genres graced the TV screen as they performed, entertained, and help bring in millions of dollars worth of donations. It was a joy to watch, not just because it was raising money for a good cause, but I was one of Jerry’s kids. My family was one of the families impacted by this show. Fun fact: one year I was actually on a local segment of the telethon, as I got interviewed on camera one of my summers at camp.

When Jerry Lewis was no longer a part of the telethon in 2011, it was so sad to me, as he spent most of his life supporting the MDA. The show began to change. They made it shorter, and it felt a lot less magical than in years past. 2014 was the last year of anything resembling the telethon, and my Labor Days have been boring and a little sad ever since. 

It’s funny how something as seemingly small as an annual television broadcast could make up so many of my Labor Day memories, but it does! As I was writing this, I actually asked my mom if they only started watching the telethon after our family was diagnosed with CMT or if they watched it before. It turns out my family always watched the show, even before I was in the picture, and it just got more meaningful once we learned we were linked to it. How cool is that?

Why such a long post about something that doesn’t even exist anymore? Well, for one, I promised to publish something every day this month, and this happened to be on my mind this evening, but more importantly, I want this blogging challenge to help you get to know me better. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, having CMT plays a big part in the woman I grew up to be and on Labor Day, we always focused on this show, this cause, and the amazing things it did for patients all over that were just like me and my family.  The show might not be on anymore, but the memories of watching it at my grandparent’s house in between rounds of swimming in the pool, at home, and even in my college dorm room, as Labor Day weekend was also move-in weekend, are all very strong in my mind and in my heart.

Do you have any Labor Day traditions or favorite Labor Day memories? I’m also dying to know: Did you ever watch the MDA telethon? Let me know!

30 Day Blogging Challenge?!

As of late, I’m often mentioning how my blog, the place where my Diva and the Divine brand all began, had taken a major backseat to my other methods of content creation (primarily my YouTube channel).  Since my channel often has easy reasons for me to create content, especially during vlogging months, it’s no surprise that my video content is more plentiful, but I truly want that to change.

Enter: the September 30 day blogging challenge!

There are plenty of month-long challenge out there, so I figured there had to be one for blogging as well. I popped it into the Pinterest search bar and a ton of results popped up with various prompts and writing challenges that last all month long, so I decided to jump on board! There are 30 days in September, and I want to publish a blog post of some kind for every single one of them.  Challenge ACCEPTED!

These posts will take on different forms. Listicles (articles that are written in list form), my normal content, fun things you didn’t know about me, and diary-type entries are just the tip of the iceberg. The possibilities are endless!

What I’m hoping to gain from this challenge is a little bit more motivation to really get cranking on my website. My hope is that I feel inspired to write, share more about myself and that I also figure out how to balance my time a bit better with a more emphasized focus on written content. I’m already getting better about waking up earlier, so the goal is to use the energy and time I gain from that to truly embrace the blogger lifestyle.  

That being said: 30 posts in 30 days! What would you like to hear about? Do you have any topics you’d like me to touch on? Do you have any questions about me that you would like me to answer? It’s an anything-goes kind of month. Come along for the ride! It will be a blast!

My Grace and Lace Sale Order


I know I am not typically the blogger that makes “hold the phone! There’s a big sale happening right now!!” posts, especially knowing that posts like that are usually just an excuse to pop some affiliate links on a post, but I’m making an exception today.  Grace and Lace is having a pretty significant Labor Day sale, and I just wanted to share my excitement because I personally took advantage of the sale.  Yes, there are affiliate links, but I’m not writing the post simply to post them, okay? 

Grace and Lace is a company that somehow made it onto my radar before their big break on Shark Tank, so I feel like I have an “I knew them when” relationship with them (they don’t know who I am at all). Over the years, I have watched the Grace and Lace inventory grow and change and now it’s a shop that makes me wish that almost every item was in my closet. Their style is very similar to mine, and if it wasn’t for the prices, I’d own a lot more from Grace and Lace, which is why this sale excited me greatly.

Pictured above and below are the 3 (yes only 3. I really restrained myself!) items I purchased from the sale. The denim jeggings are perhaps the most exciting piece, as I’ve been wanting them for a long time. Guys, these have an elastic waistband! Hello, looking cute and put together on days I just want to wear pajama bottoms around because I’m bloated and feeling blah! The excitement about these pants is very, very real.

The pocket T-shirt is final sale, which supposedly means there’s a flaw, but at the price for a still good quality shirt (in theory…I haven’t gotten to try these shirts yet), I decided to take my chances. Finally, the oversized cardigan is something I already have in my wardrobe and use all the time, so when I saw that it was half price, I jumped at the chance to buy another one in the beautiful blue shade because it’s so warm, so comfy, and just the perfect item for fall! 

Altogether, my order is one complete outfit, every item on sale, and all the pieces I will wear over and over again. I saw at least 4 or 5 other things I wanted to put in my cart, but by some miracle managed to control myself. I wanted to make sure I told you all about the Grace and Lace Labor Day Sale because it will be over before you know it.  Is there anything you have your eye on? If you’re interested in my choices, click the pictures!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mental Health Breaks (and Why It’s Okay to Need/Take One)

If you follow me on YouTube you might have seen that I posted about needing to take a mental health break even though I’m right in the middle of Vlogust and the goal of posting daily (which didn’t happen). I hesitated to publically announce that I needed a break, but once I did, the feedback was nothing but supportive. I’m not sure what I was worried about. Was it that I was going back on my word of posting something every day, or was I concerned that people would judge me for taking a mental health break? Whatever the reason was, my anxiety about it was clearly not necessary, and now, after a 4-day break of putting all of the work down, I feel ready to attack this again.

Why is there such a stigma around taking a break? It’s like if you’re not working yourself into oblivion then you’re doing something wrong. Granted, this judgment didn’t actually come at me from the outside (which I know it can), but I was the one judging myself for my “need” to take a break.  How crazy has this overworked society actually made us? 

Now, I do firmly believe that it is very easy to over-use “mental health break” as an excuse to be lazy, so let’s save them for when we really need them and not just when we don’t feel like putting in the work.  Read more