Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How to Make Better Decisions

Decisions, Decisions...we are bombarded with them daily from the monumental to the inconsequential. When you really stop and think about it, our life is shaped by (and ultimately a series of) choices that we have made to get to where we are today- from the city we choose to live in, the school we attended, the career path we've pursued, how much we allocate to our hobbies or working out in a month, the person we call our significant other, the friends we have decided to associate with and in many cases the timing in which we wish to incorporate the more significant events of life such as: when to get married, plan to start trying for a family, the timing of finally turning that hobby or passion project into a full-blown business and everything else in between.

One thing is for sure, in this lifetime we will all experience the feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, stress or fear at times along with the opposite feelings of possibility that surround it like excitement and anticipation, all of which are components of decision making. My goal for today's post is to get you thinking about how to make better decisions for your own life. I hope your eyes will be opened up to new ideas and tactics that will assist you as you make your most important life decisions so that you're armed with the confidence and conviction to decide without wavering or second guessing yourself, nor experiencing feelings of regret long after your choices have been made.

I vividly remember making one of the hardest decisions that I've ever been faced with...the decision to leave my marriage of nearly 10 years, something I did not take lightly especially with a two-year-old to consider. It was something that I contemplated on a few different occasions due to certain patterns observed over the years, behaviors, and the loneliness that I often felt as we lived apart many times while he traveled overseas along with lack of partnership. I could also see its impact on my sweet little girl and if I wanted her to experience a different and better life, I knew it was up to me to make the bold move so she we could both experience the joy and fullness that life has to offer. If I'm really honest with myself, my gut told me something wasn't quite right the first month following our wedding. I initially disregarded my gut instincts and instead forged ahead making the best of not only a less than ideal situation and relationship, but also dishonored myself and tolerated so many things that I never would have nor did while dating anyone. If I had experienced such things earlier in time, I would never have made such a serious commitment. However, because of that promise and feeling a certain level of shame in not being able to 'make it work', I stayed. I'm grateful to have my beautiful daughter as a result, so not all was lost, there was a purpose for that season of my life.

If you've followed along here for a while, you may have wondered why family posts and life shares came to a grinding halt a few years ago in 2016 both here as well as on social media, it was the year I was faced with reliving my own childhood as I contemplated life as not only a single woman after a decade or being married but also become *gasp* a single mom, following in the footsteps of my own mother. I have sooo much respect for every single mama out there (and I developed a new found admiration for mine), ladies it is hard! After our many conversations I considered her life lessons, regrets and advice. I was also very grateful to have her full support no matter what I decided. Although her and my father's situation, experiences and reasons were entirely different from my own in parting ways, I gained insight from the many conversations she and I had. While I have a wonderful relationship with my mom, I also have an amazingly close relationship with my father and I am eternally grateful for his love and support as he was instrumental in our move to the west coast, I'm thankful to now be living just minutes away from him here in the Bay Area! While I listened to the advice of loved ones along, spent time in prayer and quiet reflection, considered both sides of my decision, read relevant books and sought out wise counsel, what I finally realized I needed the most was to listen to my heart and my gut instinct, to stop drowning out the feelings I felt for so long and truly embrace what I knew I needed to do.

I want to break down the methods I personally use while making decisions because nearly 3 years after taking that big step which included moving across the country, what I know for sure is that although difficult, I felt complete confidence in myself and my decisions which allowed me to squash any fear and instead focus all of my energy and time on the positive: my next steps, the bright future for my daughter and I which I'm currently living out today. And in case you're wondering....in the process of learning the art of better decision making and staying true to myself, at the right time I ended up meeting the most incredible man- my sweetie Byron who is such an awesome, ever-present and loving daddy to our sweet princess, they have built such a beautiful relationship together and it's so precious to see the way she adores him (you can see some of our family adventures on instagram).


7 Tips for Making Better Decisions

1. Go with Your Gut-There is research proving that our first inclination is typically accurate, after all nobody knows us better than we know ourselves. Often times we intuitively already know the answer even before contemplating our best course of action. We were all given a sense of intuition for a reason, we need only trust it instead of looking outside of ourselves. This may feel different for each person, for me it feels like a sense of peace and in warning scenarios it's a tightening feeling and a sense of uneasiness in my diaphragm, something to pay attention to. You may not be as able to detect such a feeling while you're searching for an answer but I can assure that if you think back to a decision that has gone wrong, you may recall having felt that nagging sense of 'I knew I should have done such and such but didn't listen to my inner wisdom", use this feeling as a guide for making better future decisions. My gut warned me a few months into my marriage that there were red flags, I chose to ignore my gut and instead convinced myself that maybe my expectations were too high and these were just the adjustments to living together under one roof, when in reality I was in an unhealthy relationship. I'm thankful that I ultimately listened to my inner voice, allowing it serve as my guide.

2. Get Clear on Your Values- When we become crystal clear on what our goals and values are, we will be far less likely to operate out of a place of fear. For example, deciding to remain in a romantic relationship with someone that you know is not right for you because it's comfortable and you're not sure if anyone will ever love you again or because you don't want to be single and faced with the dating world again is making a choice for all the wrong reasons and stems from a fear-based mindset. Instead, when we know what we need within a relationship (as well as what we have to offer), the characteristics we would most like our partner to possess as well as what how we wish to feel as a couple, it's far easier to use that as a guide to choose well. 

When it comes to what we desire for a career, we can consider aspects as deeply as how we wish to be able to dress for our job everyday, how often we're willing to travel and possibly be away from loved ones or how much time we are willing to invest for the experience, education, salary offered, potential career advancement opportunities down the road, even the type of relationship we'd like to have with our boss or coworkers. Maybe a job offer involves a move out of state to a location that has a completely different climate, is located away from close friends and family, etc. What you decide at 25 will likely be different than what you decide at 40 because as time progresses our goals, dreams and what's important to us will change. It's vital to continually check in and make sure we're making the best decisions for the current lifestyle we lead.

3. Sleep on It- I have slept on every single big decision I have ever made in life and have never regretted it. While the answer won't necessarily be revealed to us in a dream (although I have had that experience a few times!) when we feel tired, stressed and overwhelmed with a variety of emotions and the demands of life is precisely when we need to take a break and give our body and brain some rest. If you can't sleep on it, at the very least commit to spending some quiet time alone in prayer or meditation.

4. Spend Time in Meditation / Prayer- When I face my most difficult challenges in life, I take them to God. Sometimes that means quickly praying in my car before a meeting that I make the best decision for my family or the one that will reveal the highest good for all. I often find tranquility and can clear my mind by sitting in a quiet, dark room or one with relaxing meditation music and sense an answer to a question just come to me. In this noisy world, solitude is greatly beneficial as we struggle to be present in the moment, it allows our brain a reprieve from the many demands upon us and allows us to return to self. Taking a walk in nature is one of my favorite activities, the sounds of ocean waves crashing, birds chirping or leaves crunching under my feet have such a calming effect.

5. Gather Facts- Most decisions are multi-dimensional and affect multiple facets of our life. For example going back to school may impact your entire household's schedule. This in turn may alter our personal life such as how we spend weekends, our significant other and possibly our relationship with them and our children. Due to cost, it can also impact the amount of disposable income available which in turn affects the entire family's happiness in the short term even though the long term goals of great earning power may be a reality. It's important to consider all angles, do some research, speak with others who have had to make similar decisions. Sometimes you'll need to collect far more information than you initially considered (as with contemplating a move overseas) vs. deciding something less involved such as which elementary school your child should attend for example. In my case moving across the country involved moving costs, logistics, a change of career (working for someone else vs. myself), a higher cost of living, closer proximity to my own immediate family, educating myself on preschool and daycare options in a new state along with realizing a better overall quality of life in terms of connecting with nature, climate, outdoor enjoyment, living in a more progressive state-we love having so much at our fingertips here.

6. Create a Deadline- When my dad suffered a massive heart attack a year and a half ago, as his daughter and immediate family who was present, I needed to make quick health decisions on his behalf while he was in the ICU so I didn't have the luxury of pondering options for days endlessly. However, I did have a short defined period to do so. Typically we do have more time on our side, and in such cases I think it's valuable to create an end point whether it's 24 hours, 3 days or a week, I don't think dwelling on something for long stretches of time actually benefit us, most times within about a weeks' time we already know the answer but are just afraid to make the wrong move.

7. Decide, Commit, and Move On- One of the best approaches to decision making is to fully embrace and commit to a choice. There should be no wavering afterward. Don't analyze it later, trust yourself and the decision you've made and just move forward. If you overthink every decision that you make, you will literally drive yourself crazy, and possibly those around you! Living in constant regret is no way to live at all. Be confident that you have made the best possible decision for your life and if you need to pivot at some point in the future, by all means do it, but know that each decision we make will ultimately lead to others, the lessons gathered along the way can only help propel us forward in an even more positive way.

Let's Socialize!

I'd love to know what strategies you use while facing difficult decisions. What was one of the most challenging ones you've had to make?


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

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Every Valentine's Day I look forward to showering my loved ones with sweet treats and special gifts. I also feel it's a great reminder to pamper ourselves too! Sometimes as women we can get so caught up with the day-to-day necessities that it's nice to splurge a little on a favorite new lipstick shade, a playful pair of sunglasses or a lacy robe that will make us feel ultra feminine and sexy just to switch things up a bit.

I'm sharing some of my favorite Valentine's Day gift giving ideas for the ladies in your life that can also double as wonderful indulgences for yourself. I received this over-sized Jo Malone candle in peony & blush suede scent over a year ago as a gift from my sweetie (it's also the signature perfume scent I wear daily!) and can't get enough-it really is the perfect gift. Pearl stud earrings are a staple in my jewelry box as well, I probably wear them every other day. This red lace dress is so pretty that I couldn't resist gifting it to myself (I ordered it in black as well), I'm a huge lover of lace and the cut of this dress is oh-so-classy covering in all of the right places. I can't wait for it to arrive so I can wear it on an upcoming date night with my love.


Let's Socialize!

What are your favorite Valentine's Day gifts to give and receive? What ways do you show yourself some extra love on this special day?


Sunday, February 3, 2019

My Favorite Stylish Workout Leggings

I can still remember a time when yoga pants and workout leggings offered fairly limited options- basic plain black in a full or capri length only, with one particular brand leading the way which also happened to be the most expensive! Thankfully the term athleisure was coined and those days are long behind us now as we have a variety of brands, colors and patterns to choose from now when it comes to activewear. While I do love a perfect-fitting pair of simple black leggings, over the past few years I've 'upped my game' so to speak in the workout department and have opted for more interesting options such as cutouts or textures and incorporating a pop of color with my sneakers or a cute tank or zip up, making getting sweaty much more fun. I snagged this blue Nike zip-up top on sale while we were loading up on hiking gear before heading to New Zealand at Christmas and it has become one of my favorites, I'm already planning to buy it in a few more colors as it's become a layering wardrobe staple lately.

I recently purchased these Alo High Waist Moto Leggings that I've been seeing all over instagram, which are equal parts fashion and function. I love how they are stylish enough to wear with a cute sweater layered over a tank top to provide an edgy vibe but can take you straight to the gym afterwards and there is zero compromise when it comes to comfort, as they offer full stretch and they don't ride up or slide down nor are they see-through at all as some leggings can be-especially important when bending over! I'm excited that they have 7 other color choices because the white version is so pretty and perfect with spring just around the corner!


LEGGINGS:  Alo   //   TOP: Nike  // 
 SNEAKERS: Nike (color sold out-same style here, similar color here)  
SPORTS BRA: LuLulemon    //  WATER BOTTLE:  Life Factory


When it comes to workouts, while I do wear shorts at times; whether I'm hiking, running, doing a boot camp workout or flexing my ballet muscles in barre class, I'm almost always in a high-waisted yoga pant because they are just so comfortable and cover all the right places properly. They also come in handy when chasing little ones at the park. Lily likes it when I we take a mommy-daughter approach to climbing gyms so they come in handy for playground days too and the design looks like I put in just a little bit more effort into my overall look.


I hope you're having a great weekend so far and are able to squeeze in a workout however you can! Sometimes all I have time for is a few sets of simple kettlebell exercises in my living room, a quick 15 minute run on the treadmill or a few multi-targeting ab moves such as planking or mountain climbers. Every little bit counts and keeps our momentum going even on the days we aren't able to get in a 'proper' workout. I don't know about you but when I take more than 2 days off to rest in between sweat sessions I personally find it to be SOOO much harder to get back at it again, it's also when I feel my muscles start to stiffen up or become less toned and firm which makes it even more challenging to find the motivation to get moving. For that reason, it's important to do something active for a minimum of 15-20 minutes every single day, even if it's as simple as a brisk walk through your neighborhood.

Let's Socialize!

I'm always on the hunt for great active wear, so I'd love to hear what your favorite leggings are! Do you have a favorite pair you can't live without? Please share with us in the comments below.


Friday, December 14, 2018

How to Inspire Chivalry in Men

One of the biggest complaints I hear from single women navigating our modern day dating world is that they feel there are no quality men left, all the good ones are taken and they have resigned to the fact that chivalry is dead.  In some ways, I feel as though this lack of gallantry we so desire is because over time women have, without realizing it, settled for less. Perhaps they haven't received the love, attention and gentlemanly actions or mindfulness from men that they so desire, and as a result they've just bought into the lie that those kinds of men don't exist, and if they do, are very hard to find. While there is no blame here, it's important for both men and women to take responsibility of their own contributions.

As a woman who was raised to be self-sufficient, independent and capable, I have to remind myself daily to lean back into my feminine energy and allow it to shine though. It almost feels like an undoing of what many of us have been taught especially female business professionals who are expected to negotiate, take charge and be a leader. What is feminine energy exactly? It is an allowing, receiving, gentleness and relaxed sense of being  vs. the more control-oriented role of masculine energy which is focused on doing, planning, protecting, solving and power. It doesn't mean that women are or should be passive. However, a masculine man by nature will want to please the woman of his affection, he has an innate drive to do so. You can imagine then that if what he offers is rejected, he'll feel as if he cannot make her happy or she doesn't want, need or value his desire to be a gentleman. The more we behave in a loving, gentle and feminine way, the more it will encourage a man to act in his own loving, protective and masculine ways which we women crave. This does not diminish our level of competence, intelligence or strength to essentially be the capable ladies we are, it simply gives him space to be the man he needs to be who desires to love, protect, appreciate, respect and take care of his lady.

It should be every lady's goal to find and align herself with her equal counterpart- a gentleman. I believe there are 4 key ways we as women can encourage the men in our life to act more gentlemanly and I'm going to break them down for you today.


1. Be a Lady- There is no greater motivation for a man to be a gentleman than when he is in the company of a true lady. While many men go out of their way to impress women during the first few dates and in the beginning of a relationship only to see that diminish over time once he's comfortable, a true gentleman does it from the heart and will continue to do so such as opening the car door for his wife decades into their marriage. He feels a sense of pride in treating women in this way when they are soft, delicate and little-girl-like in moments, speak with a gentle tone, smile, put an effort into their appearance and use good manners.

2. Create Opportunities for Him to Be a Gentleman- Sometimes the best thing in life is to remain silent and quietly observe, step back and wait to see his next move. Allow him the opportunity to take your coat, help you zip up your dress, offer to pump gas at the gas station instead of leaping to do it on your own. We know we're capable of doing such things for ourselves, however there is a joy in experiencing our man doing these things for us, it feels good to be cared for.

3. Be an Encouragement- When we compliment him on what he does that makes us feel good, special or feminine or what is such a huge help ultimately making our life easier (such as cleaning your car or giving you a neck massage), he will naturally want to do more. Positive feedback is what lets your man know what is important to you and where he should spend his efforts. Also a word about comparing him to others (the opposite of sharing your gratitude), avoid ever making him feel that he has to live up to expectations of another. Citing all the wonderful things your best friend's husband does will not motivate him, it will irritate him. Nobody likes to be compared to someone else.

4. Raise Young Ladies & Gentleman-Just as important as it is to teach boys 'ladies first', to hold the door, open a car door or to take a coat from a girl, likewise we must also encourage and remind our little girls to be receptive and thankful to those boys who are little gentlemen in training. I'm not suggesting that we focus on male and female roles where boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls, but in how we treat one another, how we dress, how we receive gifts or someone's kind gestures.

There is a lot to be said about allowing a man to lead.  I love my sweetie to feel like a man because it's sexy and allowing him to take charge makes him feel good about himself also, whether it's choosing the restaurant or setting up plans for a date, offering up his seat in a crowded space (to me or another such a pregnant or elderly woman), and just trusting his judgement and expertise in certain areas such as leaning back and letting him negotiate with the sales people while purchasing a new car. Even though we know we're capable, when we go back in history, it's important to recall that men have always been hunter-gatherers, it is in their DNA. I don't know about you but I enjoy the differences and ways men and women can compliment one another.


In what ways do you inspire chivalry in men?  Have you found that your praise and gratitude towards his gentlemanly behavior has made your man want to own that role even more?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Rose Embroidered Top for Fall


TOP:  Romwe  c/o  //   JEANS: Express ( currently BOGO 75% OFF)
  SHOES: Vince Camuto (old -similar here and here | also in pretty olive suede)     
CLUTCH: Local Shop (similar here, here and here)
SUNGLASSES: Target old (similar hereTom Ford)   //  EARRINGS:  Majorca

There is something so cozy and nostalgic about the fall season, it has always been my favorite. Hearing a football game on in the background, sipping mulled apple cider, seeing all of the beautiful colors on the trees, curling up under a fluffy blanket or hearing the sounds of leaves rustle and crunch under my feet as I head out for an evening walk all just remind me how grateful I am to experience this beautiful time of year, a season I missed for nearly a decade while living in the southeast before moving to California 2 years ago.

While many of us gravitate towards lighter and brighter colors during summer, I have to say that as a lover of classic style, black is a staple that I just love wearing year round, and there is nothing better than great fitting black jeans paired with heels, flats or boots during fall! They're easy to dress up or make more casual-a staple in every lady's wardrobe! What I love about this pair is that they hold their shape due to having a bit of stretch and have retained their color really well compared with other black denim I've owned in the past. I recently purchased a second pair on sale and also own 2 pairs in the dark denim wash, both colors are essentials for my fall casual wardrobe. I wear a size 4 long for reference (the long size is awesome for all of us tall girls!) these also come in regular and short lengths.

This rose embroidered ruffle sleeve top has just enough pattern and a pop of color and the best part is it's just under $20! While I could have paired this outfit with a solid black clutch, I find the pattern play against my top along with a red mani adds a playful twist which is perfect for date night or casual Friday at the office.

What's your favorite thing about fall? What pieces are you most excited about wearing this season?

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Thanks for stopping by!


*This post is brought to you by Romwe. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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