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? 

Read more

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

Read more

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!

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

My 5 Favorite Self-Help Books (and How To Read Them For Free)

Today is Book Lover’s Day! To celebrate the day I want to share a few of my favorite self-help books with you. I am a huge lover of the self-help genre, as I firmly believe there is always something more that we can learn to grow, develop, or simply gain a different perspective on life.  I’m not just talking about diet and fitness books either. I love reading about everything from productivity and changing your habits to marriage and relationship development. Within the self-help genre, there is definitely something for everyone. 

My top 5 books cover all different genres and I believe each one is worth a read for one reason or another.  If you’re interested in getting your hands on these books for free, it turns out they’re all available on the Scribd app (this isn’t sponsored by them or anything. This just happens to be how I consume most of my books as of late). If you want two months of Scribd for free, use my referral link and your first two months are on them ($8.99 a month after that). Some of the books are audiobooks on Scribd, but there is access to all 5 in one form or another. Of course, you could just go on Amazon or even your local library to get your hands on these books too. Whatever works for you. Read more

My 2018 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

I know, I know. I’m not a fashion blogger. Far from it, actually.  When it comes to clothes I regularly live in 2 different camps: comfy loungewear/workout clothes or “I need to look put together” for when I go out. Both of these categories will have one trait in common if they’re in my wardrobe and that is comfort.  Even if I’m trying to look super done up and cute, I still want to feel comfortable and be able to move with ease, which is why most of my clothing choices are basics that I can easily dress up or down.

Every year I look at the Nordstrom anniversary sale primarily because so many bloggers that I follow keep dishing out their recommendations and I end up intrigued. This year, I decided to look on my own, without much influence from those I follow on Instagram, just to see if there was anything that jumped out at me as something that would end up on my personal wishlist, and much to my surprise there was a solid handful of items that I would love to add to my cart. 

In the images below you’ll see all of my choices. I managed to find several things that fit right into my typical wardrobe choices like leggings and inexpensive basic Ts, but I also found a few things that I don’t own that I want, like the hoodie with a wider neck. Does anyone else feel like regular hoodies are a little too constricting around your neck area?

I’m learning that I am very drawn to the colored moto jacket, as evidenced by my two choices below. There’s just something so perfect about being able to wear jeans and a T, and by adding this brilliantly colored jacket you’ve automatically dressed it up into something fabulous. I seriously wouldn’t be opposed to having a moto jacket in 5 or 6 different colors. 

Of course, I had to take a stroll through the beauty sales, and while there was a lot that didn’t interest me, there were several items that are 100% worth it. First, the Elemis cleanser that I use regularly is available in a jumbo size for a killer price. I’m still working my way through my first bottle that I started using in December, so a little goes a LONG way. Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of Makeup Eraser cloths, as they actually do what they’re supposed to, and you can get a 2 pack on a pretty deep discount. Lastly, there’s a great trio of Stila’s glitter and glow liquid eyeshadows that are basically all I want to wear on my eyes lately.  I own 4 of them and am truly anticipating a Christmas wishlist with at least 5 more shades on it. They’re wonderful, especially if you like sparkle as much as I do. 

All of my picks for the sale are down below, and there’s a little something for everyone.  Enjoy! 

July 2018 Goals

Well, just like that half of the year is behind us. Can you even believe it? I certainly can’t.  It’s usually this time of year when I look back at all of those goals I set in January and how little progress I’ve made thus far and the fear of failing another year’s worth of goals and resolutions sets in.  How are you doing with your 2018 goals? Are you okay with the year being half over? I’m certainly not.

Okay, maybe I’m being a tad overdramatic here, because I definitely know that I have already reached some of my 2018 goals, so I can’t complain, but others still seem so far away, Nevertheless, it’s a new month and it’s time to keep moving forward to make the second half of 2018 the most productive and goal achieving time of the whole year.  

 

July Goals

Count Calories

After thinking about it (and stressing about it), I decided that rather than go back to Points, I’m going to stick with counting calories for at least another month.  When the idea of changing back actually brought on anxiety and stress, I decided that it wasn’t worth stressing over and to stick with the current plan. Since I’m enjoying calorie counting, for the time being, I figure why not just stick to what makes me happy? I’ve been feeling really good about where my body is headed, and I just don’t feel like messing with that at this point in time.

Bring Back The Smoothie

I used to be really into making smoothies, and for one reason or another, I’ve gotten away from that. Recently I was listening to Rachel Hollis’s (author of the bestselling book Girl, Wash Your Face) podcast and she talked about her weight loss journey and how her nutritionist was a part of it. Well it turns out her nutritionist is Kelly LeVeque, author of Body Love. Kelly’s eating philosophy does not involve tracking calories, but focusing on the proper macro and nutrition intake. In a nutshell, the proper food intake can be obtained by making your meals consist of the Fab 4: Protein, Fat, Fiber, and Greens.

These ingredients are easily translated into a breakfast smoothie that many of her clients, including Rachel, consume on a daily basis. The goal is to have the right ingredients in your easy smoothie so your blood sugar stays balanced and you stay full straight until lunch.

My goal for the month is to bring back the smoothie at least 3x per week, but I am actually starting a 7-day challenge where I have a fab 4 smoothie every single day for a week just to see what happens.  Less hunger? Fewer sugar cravings? Weight loss or fat loss? I’ll be writing all about it. 

Limit Protein Bar intake

I’ve become too dependant on bars as a quick fix, and it’s really easy for me to add one to my day every single day. While this is great every once and awhile, it definitely does not need to be an every day occurance.  I need to continue to focus on clean, whole foods, which has been doing great things for my body. The goal is no more than 4 bars per week. 

Sidenote, I’ve been noticing that since they added erythritol to their bars, Quest bars and I haven’t been getting along, so that might make this a little easier. 

Change my focus on this weight loss journey

This is a big one and will be getting its own post soon. Basically, as I’ve noticed my body changing, getting leaner and stronger, but the scale isn’t moving. When people are still telling me that my face is thinning out, and my husband noticed that I felt skinnier despite the scale refusing to budge, I started thinking about my relationship with the scale. Ultimately I decided that if the scale doesn’t move another pound, but my body continues to transform by getting stronger and trimmer, then I no longer care. 

That being said, I am positive that there is still weight to be lost, but my focus is definitely on fitness with the goal of toning up, and nutrition with the goal of being healthy, energized and feeling the best I can feel.  If I focus on those things, I have no doubt more weight will continue to come off, but truthfully, it’s okay if the scale doesn’t move anymore as long as my measurements do. Changing that focus has the potential to open up a whole new perspective on this journey. 

Body Pump 3x/Week

One of the main reasons I’m noticing the positive changes in my body is that I’ve upped my Bodypump attendance from 2x/week to 3x/week. Having a disease that makes muscles weaker and no treatment for it means I need to do what I can to work ahead of the disease and get as strong as possible. I decided that adding an extra class is the better answer than adding more weight, although I’m actually starting to do that too. My goal is to keep up the 3 classes all month long and see how I feel. 

Buckle Down At Work

Let’s face it, I’ve been a pretty terrible blogger and Youtuber lately. There, I said it. 

I tend to get SO wrapped up in the other things happening in life (obsessing over keeping the house clean..which never goes as well as I want, obsessing over food, fitness, and every calorie consumed and burned, etc) and I also tend to be a master procrastinator. This is a deadly combo for Diva and the Divine, as it means I always manage to find something more important to do than my work.  Is it actually more important? Probably not, but I tend to stress, obsess, and make things feel like a bigger deal than they actually are. This month I really want to do what I can to make sure I make Diva and the Divine a priority.  I will be implementing a few strategies to make sure this happens, but in general, this month the goal is to crank out regular content both on the blog and on my Youtube channel.

Bonus Goal: Get A King Size Bed

This is a goal that is basically in the hands of my hardworking, never home to do home related things husband, but I will consider it a major win if we actually do it. For a few months now we’ve been toying with getting a king sized bed, as it will benefit both of us in many, many ways. He’s a heavy sleeper that likes to move, I’m a light sleeper that wakes up with every movement. I like to sleep with my weighted blanket, but he hates it because it’s not big enough for both of us, but still takes up 3/4 of the bed, etc etc. 

Bottom line: if we manage to get a bed ordered this month, I will consider it a big bonus goal getting accomplished. It’s the final step towards the several bedroom upgrades I’ve been working on to make it a more romantic and less “college student” feeling place to be. 

Those are my goals for the month. Did you set any goals this month? Let me know!

6 Ways To Make Your Living Space Feel More Luxurious

I love things that feel pretty, fancy, and a bit glam. As someone who works from home (therefore spending most of my time there), it’s important to me that my living space feels beautiful and luxurious. This is easier said than done for two reasons. 1) I’m on a budget which means high priced items to make my home prettier aren’t always the priority when it comes to spending money, and 2) I live with my husband, who doesn’t care about “pretty” nearly as much as I do. Neat, tidy, and clean, sure, but by no means is my husband a man that cares if the living space feels luxe and beautiful. Let’s be real: the only reason we have upgraded some of our furniture from the old busted leather couches is got as hand me downs after college is because of me and my desire to live like a married couple with a nice home rather than the hand me down bachelor pad my husband had not so carefully fully curated by the time I met him.

While buying new furniture or appliances always feels glamorous and makes home feel a bit fancier (at least that’s how I felt when we said goodbye to those beaten up leather couches and replaced them with what you see in the photos), it’s definitely not budget friendly to make such a purchase every time you want to feel like you’ve had an upgrade. The truth is you don’t need to spend a fortune or buy something large to up the luxe feel of your living space. In fact, I firmly believe that it’s the little details, the small afterthoughts are the things can make a huge impact on your space. I have a few tiny details you can add (or upgrade) to your space to help you feel a little more luxe, even if you’re just curled up on the couch watching some tv. Read more