Appreciation

Each year, I come up with a word that I’m going to focus on for the year. Patience was one of my harder words because I’m a very impatient person (admitting it is the first step!). This year, I chose ‘Appreciation.’ I once read that telling people “you’re welcome” when they say “thank you” has a totally different impact than if you were to say “no problem”, “sure thing” or “anytime.” So I want people to feel that. I want people to know how much I appreciate what they do – big or small. I want my husband to know how much I appreciate him. I want my co-workers to feel that. My goal to this point as been to tell people every chance I get how much I appreciate what they’re doing, and to definitely say it at least once a day. So far, so good. Only 352 days to go!
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I also decided to try this savings plan this year. I don’t have something specific in mind for it, but maybe I’ll put it towards a new car in a few years or towards a spontaneous trip (the hubs is not big on my spontaneous trip ideas, but if there’s random cash available, who can argue with that?). We’ve always talked about going to Red Rocks to see one of our favorite bands play.

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It will be a nice addition to my other savings accounts which will one day go towards things like college tuition for our kids (future children). We actually just had this conversation the other day about how much we would need to save to make sure our kids are stuck with student loans. Student loans are the worst. Speaking of kids, I got to see the most adorable ones (my neice and nephew!) this weekend and this girl was all smiles!

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I’m also continuing my goal this year to use more eco-friendly and non-animal tested products. I got some great suggestions from you guys last time, and I’d love to hear more. As I try new products, I’ll be sure to share my reviews! Have a great 2nd week of January!

 

PS – last day to enter the monogrammed guest book giveaway!

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Be kind, choose joy, find your love compass

The Pretty in Pink Bucket list giveaway is still happening! By donating, you’re helping someone mark something off of their bucket list and bringing a smile to the face of someone battling breast cancer. Donate – and then share it with your friends!

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There are some awesome prizes available for those who donate, including: Stationary products, Aprons and Dish towels, art prints, and these items for your home that I am swooning over!

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Fiber and Water

Fiber and Water donated one of their Love Compass pillows (valued at $35). I love the burlap and this classy design. Such a wonderful piece to have in your home, or to gift to a friend, or newlywed couple! They also have some adorable burlap prints in their shop too, you should definitely check it out!

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Simply Said Stitches

Simply Said Stitches donated this pillow (valued at $35), which I think sends a great message. Everyday we wake up and we can make a choice on how we’re going to tackle the day. By choosing joy, happiness or a positive attitude, you set yourself up for a great day. I think it also speaks to the holiday season which is always full of joy.

ShanC Studio
ShanC Studio

A new addition to the giveaway are these ornaments from ShanC Studio (valued at $28). Since everyone is decorating mode, what better thing to win than a set of these cute doves to hang on your tree?

One year anniversary!

Yesterday marked one year of wedded bliss for me and my handsome husband. We’ve had a crazy busy year (new job + travel, buying a house, becoming landlords, personal travel, etc.) and it’s been pretty amazing.

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However, we discuss quite often that marriage is not all cotton candy and candy apples (not even in the first year). But marriage, as a committment you made in front of family and friends and most importantly, to each other, is a job. And it should be the job where you focus most of your energy. Not saying that it should be your toughest job, because if you’re with the right person, a lot of it comes easily and naturally. But it’s work to not snap at your sig-o when you’re hungry (or hangry, as I sometimes get), it’s work to step away from what you’re doing sometimes and focus on what your other half wants to do, sometimes we forget to put the phone/iPad down and listen to the other, sometimes we are preoccupied with our own thoughts, or sometimes we just want to be alone. But it’s important to remember that your other half is your partner, not your enemy. They’re on your side. They want to spend time with you, talk to you, and listen to you.

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My husband and I met as co-workers and I’m glad he’s still my co-worker in marriage. Working together is incredibly important. I know how much it bothers him when I slip my shoes off at the door instead of putting them in the closet, and while it seems like a REALLY LITTLE thing, it’s easy to get caught up in really little things that annoy you. It’s a really little extra step for me to walk over to the closet and something that I should do because I KNOW it bothers him. It’s important not to get caught up in the little things and to focus on the big picture.

Taken by Sarah Photography
Taken by Sarah Photography

Ever since we started dating we’ve talked about goals for our life and our future and we continue to fous on those. We love to travel and continue planning out trips to places domestic and international. We made a list of our Top 5 destinations for each and cross matched (3/5 on both lists were the same). We’re managing owning two houses, although it’s not ideal, and I never wanted to be a landlord, it’s working. The plus is that we’re building equity in our other home and when we DO sell, we’ll be better off. We’re working on making our new house very homey and enjoying spending time in our yard, our rocking chairs and screened-in porch. We’re both very career focused right now and fortunate to be with a good company and doing what we love, or at least what our degrees are in. And we get to spend plenty of time with friends and family (including our new baby niece!). And yes, kids are in the future just not right now.

Taken by Sarah Photography
Taken by Sarah Photography

We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a darn good one. We’re still falling in love with each other day over day, laughing until our bellies hurt and there for each other when there are tears. I try to focus on the good, be happy and cherish all the little moments. I saw a quote this morning that said:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

How true, and how very bad of us. What people post on social media is not them at their worst, it’s laughing, smiling, happiness. Try not to compare yourself, or your relationship to that of others. Try to focus on how to continue, every day, making your relationship the best it can be. Your marriage is yours and your husband’s and you’re the only ones responsible for making it work. Social media has us questioning things that don’t need to be questioned. Spend time in reality, loving the most, focusing on what matters and sticking to your vows. Spend time cultivating a marriage that other people desire. You have your own highlight reel that is by far the most important one in the world.

Let it go

Sorry for all you Frozen fans, this post will not be about the beloved movie, but I do have it on my list of films to watch. Letting things go can make you a happier person. It seems pretty simple, but we all tend to harbor a little resentment about something, maybe hold a grudge over something that happened years ago, or can’t shake that angry feeling after being cut off in traffic. Unfortunately, even though you may be right in your feelings at the time, it doesn’t impact the other person the way it does you.

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My husband says I will die on my principles. He also says that sometimes I spend too much energy trying to prove a point. Anyone else do this? When I know I’m right, I want to make sure that others do, too. In fact, I rarely shout out answers unless I am 150% sure that I’m correct. But when I’m not listened to, not given credit, or someone argues (when I KNOW I am right), I tend to get ready for battle on the subject and continue trying to prove the point. I am also a sharer. Over the weekend, I shared a terrible experience with a local Charlotte Photographer. This photographer asked me to model some poses for her so she could practice them, and in exchange she would give me free headshots. Felt like a good trade-off at the time. I spent almost two hours in her home studio on February 23, 2014. I waited until March 3rd to ask her when I might get the photos and she responded that I would have them by the weekend (3/7). Without going through all the details and multiple times I attempted to contact her after that without response, I decided to share the story on social media. Upon doing so, I found others who had similar experiences with this photographer and also found reviews online of her poor communication and terrible customer service. The social media got her attention (as it often does). Within an hour, I had 9 shares of one tweet to almost 2500 followers. How’s that for a PR nightmare for a small business? My goal was not to cause the nightmare for her, it was to bring attention to how she was treating me (and other customers), and to get her attention on the subject. She responded (threatening legal action for my libelous truthful comments) and told me that she had lost my images and wouldn’t be able to provide them. She did offer a new session and that I could sit there while she edited the photos and get them then and there. A) I don’t have time for that B) I don’t care to work with her and C) I don’t think her work could be that good based on the rest of her business practices. The point is not about the photographer here, the point is about how much time and energy I wasted on this person. Time, reviews and word of mouth will sink her business, and I didn’t need to spend part of my weekend putting forth the effort I did. My husband told me to let it go and if I still wanted headshots, go to someone who is a little more professional and just pay fo them (great idea!).

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It’s not just with the photographer that I do this. If I have a bad day, I tend to think (and over think) what happened, who was involved and who should be responsible. I think we’re all a little guilty of this on some level. In order to be happy, we have to let go of those moments that steal our happiness. Let go of bad days, angry phone calls with your cable company, that driver who swerved in front of you, the TSA agent who slowed you down, and be more forgiving overall. Try to understand where others are coming from before you get worked up or upset. A lot of times we interpret things differently than the person speaking to us meant them. Maybe that text that said “fine” actually meant “that’s a good plan. I’m fine with it!” and not that they hated the idea. Trying not to jump to conclusions can help with our attitude and level of happiness. Try to assume that people always have the best intentions (without being completely naive), and see how that effects your outlook. Try to let go of any grudges you may be holding onto. Forgive people, especially for those things that really no longer matter. The longer you hold onto something, the more important it seems, but in reality, it’s just a tiny blip on your map of life. Just has happiness trumps money, happiness wins in the attitude arena. Take a deep breath, stop proving points until you’re short of breath, forgive, spend your energy doing something you love instead, and let it go.

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Choosing Happiness

I’ve been reading a lot of books on marriage, happiness, change and if anything has resonated with me it’s that you can CHOOSE to be HAPPY. When something doesn’t go your way, you have the option to huff and puff, tell everyone you know about it and be worked up for the rest of the day, or you can choose to not let it bring you down. In reality, that person who uploaded something incorrectly for you on the form that you created, probably just did it wrong and wasn’t actually trying to sabotage your work. Maybe the person who cut you off on your drive to work wasn’t trying to cause an accident but was running late because their kid forgot their lunch box and they had to go home and get it. Trying to focus on the big picture can help you determine if that one incident really matters and if it should send your day in a downward spiral. I’m guessing 95% of the time, it won’t matter in a week and your heart would be better off if you hadn’t spend that time griping about it.

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I’m working on doing what makes me happy. We all have a lot of things that have to get done, but we don’t have to spend all of our time doing those and none doing what will brighten our lives until we’re done with the “have-to” list. It should be a compromise on how we spend our time. For me, there’s nothing better than a good run. If I had to make a list of other ways to get instant happiness in my life, I’d say:

  1. A dinner/movie date with my husband (or a cuddle session with one of the dogs if hubs is out of town)
  2. A spontaneous weekend escape to the beach
  3. A pedicure and/or massage
  4. Hot yoga (even better after a run)
  5. A catch-up session with a friend

Spending time working on your own happiness is imperative to achieving it. Obviously, there will be moments where you won’t be happy (and shouldn’t be) but in the times where it’s a choice to either let something slide or think on it all day, choosing to let it slide will get you to happiness 100 times faster. I’m making a deal with my husband to only talk about the good things that happened in a day for a week, and not complaining about the bad. Sometimes sharing feels good, but you’re not only letting other people thing you’re miserable, you tend to bring them down too.

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If you’re up for reading some excellent books on happiness, I recommend:

  1. The Happiness Project (Gretchin Rubin)  *follow up with Happier at Home if you need more!
  2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Richard Carlson)
  3. Happy Wives Club (Fawn Weaver)

And my next book is “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie (thanks, Lo).

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Removing things from your life that make you unhappy is okay. You can’t make someone else want to be happy (although, I am still working on trying to find a way to do this). Spending time around negative energy doesn’t do anything positive for your own mental state. Happiness is a choice we make every day. When you wake up, tell yourself it is going to be a good day – and mean it. Do things that will make you happy throughout the day. Start with a breakfast that will give you energy (and is healthy!), take a walk if you need a break at work, have lunch with your other half or a friend (getting out of the office for lunch is a MUST – even if you’re eating what you packed at a picnic table – just don’t set at your desk!), plan time to workout or walk in the evening, do some stretching or reading to relax at night. Do whatever makes YOU happy. Life’s too short to not be happy.

 

Happy tails!

I had a different post planned for today but my heart is being pulled in a different direction. I’ve said it before but dogs are my passion; they have been ever since I was little and I had a gazillion stuffed animals, wanted to adopt all of the puppies at the pound and had long lists of names for my future dogs. My husband somewhat understands this, although is also somewhat annoyed by the number of dogs (and frequency of which) I share on Facebook that need to be rescued.

In more recent times, I’ve been able to volunteer with various rescue groups and foster, help at adoption events or handle social media platforms for them. All of this helps, but my heart still wants to do more. I recently made a new friend who had her heart strings pulled on one night by this guy who was stuck at Gaston County Animal Control. His owner left him locked in an apartment after moving out and the landlord found him (no idea on how long he was there).

roo 1In the shelter, he was frightened and bothered by all of the barking. He cowered when she went to pet him. No rescues were stepping up for this guy, but a rescue without their 501 (c) said they could help if she would get him and foster him for a few weeks. This was his first day out of the shelter.

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And it’s only gotten better from there. He walks well on a leash, stays in his crate and is working on house training. She sent me this picture today of him cuddling with her 1-year old rescue dog.

RooThis boy just needed a second chance. He needed to know that he wasn’t going to be locked away alone, or shoved in a kennel with 50 other scared dogs. He needed to know love, and that he would be fed and would have a warm bed. He needed a friend to play with (and cuddle with).
roo3He looks like a totally different dog than the one who was hours away from dying at the shelter. There are MILLIONS others like him. If you’re in the market for a new dog, adopt. There are puppies, there are “teenage” dogs (those between 1-4 years old), and there are seniors. There are house-trained, crate-trained dogs. There are purebred dogs (over 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred). And if you don’t want to go to the shelter, look at local rescues.
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If you’re interested in adopting “Roo,” you can email takenbysarah@gmail.com for more info or to meet this sweet pup.

Love what you do

Finding happiness in your work may not always be possible, but it is definitely what we all want in our careers. From a young age, we desire success. We plan to be doctors, teachers, lawyers… or a veterinarian in my case. We talk about families, travel and our jobs, even as children. I remember playing “house” as a kid and pretending I had a job that I was coming home from. Most people work because they have to, but it’s nice if you can find a job that you love if you’re going to have to do it anyway. 

unnamed-3I watched the movie “Bounce” when I was younger. Yes, back when Ben Affleck was still a respectable movie star (before Gigli). I decided then that I wanted to be in Advertising when I grew up. I focused my undergrad on Advertising and my grad school on Communications. Luckily, I’ve been successful in my career and in finding jobs that align with my degrees. But it didn’t come without work. Growing up we weren’t rich, we weren’t poor either, but we certainly weren’t considered “well off.” I think that created a drive in me (and in my brother) that has helped our careers, shaped our personalities and made us who we are today. Having not been handed everything in life, I understand the value of hard work. I respect the power of networking and make every attempt to make valuable connections. Being ambitious (or aggressive in my career, as some have said), I am not afraid to ask to join meetings, groups, events, or set up time to chat about what a department or person does. It may seem bold, but it has only benefited me to this point in my career. I also believe in taking every opportunity I can to develop myself personally and professionally (i.e.: grad school, CCMP, trainings, reading influential books, etc.). 
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While I was in grad school, I was in a communication role and doing work that I wanted to do. However, I also fell in love with the power of social media and wanted to pursue that passion. Along with falling in love, I also fell into a position as a social media consultant. Having been in that role, I learned a lot about social media, how businesses use social media, how little some people know about social media and a lot about myself. I grew a lot from that experience and realized I needed to become more of a teacher than a do-er. I never wanted to manage social media for anyone but myself, but I do want people to understand the value of certain platforms and how it can help their company. I was incredibly busy at the point in my life, with grad school, planning a wedding, a full time job and consulting – but I was happy. I was doing what I loved. 

I’m always a proponent of doing what you love. I constantly send friends job posting that I think align with their career goals or skills. I review and edit resumes and cover letters for friends and family regularly. I try to help people make connections, do mock interviews or seek out opportunities to become qualified for their dream job. We all deserve to be happy. Being comfortable in a job can make it hard to leave. Being unsure of the future or fearful of a pay decrease can, too. I think happiness wins. Happiness trumps money. 

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It’s really easy for us to settle in life and stop making attempts to move forward. I’m sure I’ll get to that point in my career but I’m not there yet. Right now, I’m enjoying a corporate role in communications and my side gig of being a social media consultant within the community. Today, I urge you to look at what you’re doing and ask yourself if it’s what you love. If it’s not, take an hour this evening to search for your “dream job” and see what the qualifications are – and if you are missing more than 40% of them, set goals to get qualified. If you meet them and you have just been scared to jump, I say DO IT. It can’t hurt to update your resume, interview and see what’s out there. If you’re happier at work, you’ll be happier when you get home. It’s a win-win. Go out and aim for happiness!