8 Things I’m Looking Forward to this Season

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

The Nyquil fog has been heavy with us this week.

I don’t know if it was the 6 day weekend I had last week or the cold I’ve had since last Tuesday, but I feel like I cannot get myself together this week. The entire week has passed by in a blur, and I’m feeling a little blue as the things I set out to accomplish in November did. not. happen.

But I’m learning to be gracious with myself in realizing I can’t do it all, especially when I’m already stretched thin everywhere (except for my pants. Girlfriend needs some new pants.) I was looking forward to publishing the last installment of the Creating Space series on Wednesday, but since my last interview was with Mr. M himself, and we were both feeling under the weather, I just let it slide. So this week is just going to be a throw away week. We’ll start afresh on Monday.

Being December 1st, I’m v excited about the prospects of Christmas. And yet I was telling Mr. M it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all. Last year I don’t feel like I got to truly celebrate Christmas, as we were in wedding mode until December 10th, and honeymoon mode until December 18th. So I only truly got 6 days of Christmas cheer in there. I’m told this is what adulthood is. The Christmas magic is gone until we’ve got little babes of our own.

And speaking of babies, we’re not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon. Although I’ve made it my seasonal joke of the year that the holidays make me want kids, but I want to give them back on January.

I am looking forward to December, though. And I have a few fun things planned for the blog this month, too.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

Things I’m Looking Forward to in the Blog World

Next week you can look forward to all marriage posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday because it is anniversary week!

The following week I am collaborating with Tiffany from Endless Bliss, and I’m looking forward to that because she is doing #Blogmas this year. You go, Glenn Coco.

And really, we can all expect *mostly* Christmas related posts for the rest of the month. I also decided today on a whim that I was going to join Kate from A Thought & a Half’s Instagram challenge, because I love a good Insta challenge.

 

My very favorite blog I love to read this time of year is Brennan’s 25 Days of Ugly Christmas Apparel. I featured him on Hugs & Lattes several years ago, and I am psyched that he’s back for year 7.

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

What I’m Looking Forward to in Real Life

I mentioned this in the previous section, but y’all – our first anniversary is upon us! I cannot believe Mr. M and I have been married for a year already. This has been the most joyful year of my life, and I can’t wait for many more. You guys know that we love to get away, but with the holidays and our work schedules, we are going to wait unitl January or February for our little anniversary getaway. Instead Mr. M has planned for us to spend some intentional time next weekend here at home. I’m excited to see what he has planned!

8 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Christmas Season

And like the extrovert I am, I planned a Christmas party for, of course, our anniversary weekend. Woops. We have approximately 1 billion tacky Christmas mugs leftover from the big day, so we are pulling together a few friends to give them away to while we stuff our faces with delicious holiday food.

Every year when the Advent rolls around, I love to center myself on what Christmas is truly about. Besides the joy of the festivities with family and friends – and the presents of course – Christmas is a time to celebrate and reflect on my faith and the coming of Jesus Christ. I love following along with She Reads Truth’s Advent series. I believe their plan starts on December 3rd on the app or online.

This year we are spending Christmas in both North Carolina and Tennessee, so I’m excited to hole ourselves in a cabin for a night, and then see my family for a night. We’re still figuring out what it looks like to spend Christmas with both of our very large extended families; and I know it will be a matter of compromise and grace as we navigate making our own traditions and still incorporating family into the holidays. Maybe in a couple years when we have it all together (haha) I’ll be more inclined to write about it.

Last month I wrote down something I was thankful for each day, as a way to intentionally celebrate Thanksgiving. I decided to continue the tradition with December. It’s a great reflective practice to look back at the end of each day and find a moment of joy and gratitude.

What are you looking forward to this month? 

 

Take Your Time

take your time

I was always one who wanted to grow up too fast. When I was 9, I would play pretend like I was 16 in high school toting around my MUDD satchel. When I was 16, I dreamt of life in college where I could have authentic friendships and study my passions. During college I hoped to meet the man of my dreams and marry him before graduation day. Why? Maybe because this was what my parents did.

But life didn’t turn out like that. I met the man of my dreams, and we both responsibly waited until we graduated (he from graduate school, me from undergraduate) and got married. I’m thankful that my husband led us in waiting until he had a job because if we had gotten married on my timeline, we would have had the ramen noodle newlywed experience. And I can’t eat ramen – it messes with my digestive tract.

We have several friends who are parents of at least one if not 2+ kids. For many of them, their life and conversation revolves around their family. It used to make me feel self conscious and wonder if Mr. M is impatiently waiting until I’m ready to be a mom. You have to understand that in the South – especially in Christian circles – a lot of the women my age are either married or have babies.

Now that Mr. M and I have been married almost a year, the question is more persistent: “So when are the kids coming along?”

I understand that it’s a conversation starter. When we were engaged, people would ask us about the wedding. Now that there’s no wedding, they want to ask about babies. (And yet not many people ask whether I want to go back to grad school or jump into my career. . . ) I used to get so angry.¬†Let us be married! I would want to say. But instead I would just smile and say “Oh in a couple of years!”

Sometimes all of this makes me feel as if we were on a timeline. Mr. M and I would come home from being around babies all night and I would ask him if he wanted to have kids. Recently, he spent 3 nights in a row working in the church nursery where he got peed on, his shirt ripped, and a 2 year old never let go of him the entire night. So he happily says, “Let’s wait a few years.”

Take Your Time

Waiting a few years is not a lot, but it may be enough for us.

It’s important that we take our time – whether it is consideration of children, job changes, or any major life event. Mr. M is calculated in everything he does; I think about it for a hot second, decide that my gut says go and then go. Being in a partnership with him has taught me that it’s OK to be present. It’s OK to focus on today. I can take my time in deciding what I want to be when I grow up. We can take our time in deciding when we want to bless the world with our cute little kids.

It’s OK to take your time.

I recently read somewhere that 30 is the new 18. Millennials are usually 30 by the time they get married, buy a house, and get started in their career. We are living with our parents longer, becoming more educated, and waiting until we do all the “grown up” things the baby boomers did in the 1960s. And that’s OK. The economy is different nowadays. So if it takes a while to land your dream career, do your due diligence in your current job. If it takes a while to decide to get married, embrace what life is offering you right now. And if you take some time to decide when you want to have kids, enjoy your uninterruptible night of sleep and celebrate the time you take with your spouse.

If you spend it watching 7 hours of Netflix, you’re an adult – you get to do that. If you spend your time hustling and chasing your dreams – you get to do that. But let’s all recognize that sometimes hustlers need a Netflix binge.

You get to decide how you spend your life. So if you need some time to reflect before you jump, take your time.

Finding Your Place of Rest

Finding Your Place of Rest

Hello! Got some Monday motivation comin’ at you on a Tuesday because after a Labor Day Weekend, Tuesdays are Mondays. Mr. M and I spent 18 hours in a car this weekend which meant we got in some major quality time. I only snapped once towards the end when I was tired, grumpy, and craving some flamin’ hot cheetos. It was great, though, because I got to listen to the entire album of Hamitlon, Wicked, and Something Rotten and he only complained once. . . about Hamilton because it’s 48,000 tracks long. We also got to ask each other some roadtrip questions¬†and learned some new things about each other! My personal favorite question was “What song could you listen to on repeat for 8 hours straight?”

After spending an amazing weekend with Erica and her husband Jamie, exploring Philly and eating the best food, I’m gearing up for a full week. Even 3 day weekends still require some recovery time, so I’m pushing for a 4 day weekend. Who’s with me?

Finding Your Place of Rest

When I get really stressed out and overwhelmed, I find myself saying anytime I break down, “I’m just so tired. I’m so exhausted.”

It’s not exactly that I need a nap, but I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. What I need is¬†rest.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not the best at rest. I’m the type of person who struggles to relax when there are things that need to be done. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sure this sounds a lot different from the girl who you grounded because I spent my time reading instead of doing my chores. Look! You raised me well!

The caveat to this “not being able to rest” thing is Netflix. I can Netflix binge surrounded by mountains of laundry, not because I’m resting but because I’m pacifying myself and avoiding my responsibilities.

The busier I get, the more I realize how vital rest is.

I’m entering into my busiest work season where I will be on the go and traveling quite a bit. At the end of October I usually crumble onto the couch in tears with a pint of ice cream. It’s during this season where I¬†most¬†need rest but I don’t always get the type of rest that I need. So I have to find rest on the go.

Resting on the go is a matter of finding the mental space to rest and reset. While ¬†I would much rather have time to actually rest, we don’t always get what we want, so we have to work with what we got.

Finding Your Place of Rest

Surround Yourself with Encouragement

On my desk at work I have a sticky note that I put up 2 years ago. It’s a Scripture note that says “My Presence will go with you and I will give you REST.” (Exodus 33:14) It’s the perfect reminder that first of all, I am not alone. Secondly, I don’t have to strive by myself. When I find myself dependent and resting on God, I find that I can carry rest with ¬†me throughout my day.

Finding  Your Place of Rest

Make the Most of Your Morning

Since I got back from our amazing mini vacation last month, I’ve made some lifestyle changes. I don’t wait until the last minute to get up anymore. On a good day, I wake up early, sit on the couch in my robe with my coffee and read my Bible and journal. On a late day, I wake up earlier than I used to and spend time getting ready for the day. I can’t believe it’s taken me 2 years in the working world to realize what a precious commodity slow mornings are.

Stay Blue

OK don’t actually¬†stay blue in your mood, but surround yourself with blue things. As an adult, my favorite color has switched from purple to blue. I love the blue walls in our house, my blue planner, my blue pens – you get the picture. I found out a couple months ago that blue is a relaxing color. It all makes sense. I used to keep a picture of Santorini, Greece that I found on Pinterest as my desktop background in college because it was so soothing. Go figure, it’s blue.

Take Care of Your Body

When we hear “take care of your body,” we often think, “eat right and work out.” We need to do both, but we also need to take care of our skin. As soon as I got home last night, I loaded the bathtub with bubbles, lit my candle, carried with me a bowl of watermelon, and enjoyed a nice soak with my good friend, Jane the Virgin. (You guys, the screenwriting for this show. . . but that’s a tale for another day.) After my bubble bath, I lit candles in our bedroom, put on a face mask, and proceeded to put away laundry. Even though I was doing a chore, I felt completely relaxed because I had taken care of my body for the evening. New rule for myself? Once a week bubble bath and face mask.

Take a Nap

I am SO bad at this one. If I take a nap, it’s usually accidental and it’s because I am truly exhausted. But you should do as I say and not as I do. There are studies that show napping is actually pretty good for you, as long as you stay within the 30-40 minute range. When I was in college I would take deep naps and wake up with a nap hangover, proving myself to be completely unproductive and useless the rest of the day.

Do Something for YOU

We women are so bad at doing things for ourselves, especially those of us who are married and those of you who have kids. Our minds are constantly running with to-do lists and errands and everyone else’s problems. At the end of the day, we realize we haven’t taken one moment for ourselves.

Things to Do for YOU:

Work out
Read a book
Go on a walk
Journal
Take a bubble bath
Sign up for a Zumba class

Do whatever it is that makes YOU happy – even for just 20-30 minutes a day. When you find that you’ve taken time to be still and rest even when your life is running in circles around you, you will find that you are a lot happier and nicer of a person. I know that I am.

What are some things you like to do to find rest on the go?

 

3 Steps to Revamp Your About Me

3 Steps to Revamp Your About Me

At our staff retreat the other day, we played a game called Snowballs.

The objection of Snowballs is to figure out who wrote what. It’s like the Game of the Things, but more personal. Everyone writes down 1-3 things on separate pieces of paper and then crumples it up into a snowball. You then go around and guess who wrote what. Some things were obvious, and some obscure. The obscure ones are always my favorite because you are usually surprised and shocked about how much you don’t know about someone.

“About Me” sections are like Snowballs. Your “About Me” gives your reader a reason to continue to peruse your site after they make initial contact. It’s like an elongated Tinder profile. Your “About Me” gives your readers a first impression of who you are, and why you need to become best friends. And because I want to be best friends with everyone (my husband tells me this is impossible,) I finally took the plunge and updated my “About Me” section.

Updating your “About Me” can be a daunting task. On one hand, you want it to be authentic and show the real you. But you also want to be professional.

3 Steps to Revamp Your About MeAdd heading

Do Your Research

Before I updated my “About Me,” I looked at other blogs. I checked out bloggers who had the same niche and objective I had. I checked out bloggers who were killin’ it in the business and whose “About Me” sections meant business.

Tiffany from Endless Bliss has a killer about me section, but instead of saying “About Me,” her tab says “My Story.” The drop down menu then shows her 30×30 and where she’s published. Not only do you get to know about her through her 30×30, you get to know about her writing style and her work.

Summer from Coffee With Summer‘s “About Me” section draws you in because instead of saying “About Me,” it says “Start here!” Because let’s be real, as lifestyle bloggers, we do talk about ourselves a little. In a sense, our whole blog is an about me section. Summer tells her readers first what her blog is about, and then who she is.

In addition to reading bloggers’ “About Me” section, I also consulted Pinterest. Pinterest is my go-to resource for almost everything because it is essentially a wealth of knowledge from bloggers for bloggers.

I typed in “About Me” in the search bar then read and pinned what I found to be the most helpful guides. You can peruse those pins on my blogging board here:

 

 

Make Your Mission Statement

One of the many things my husband excels in is intentionality. He lives with intention, and every action step he takes is purposeful. Mr. M has a mission statement for his life, he had a purpose in dating, he knew what kind of woman he wanted to marry (somehow I made all the qualifications), and now we have a mission statement for our marriage.

I have not always been this type. I’m more the “Go with your Gut” kinda gal because I believe my conscience and gut know what to do. But sometimes your gut is wrong, which is why you need a mission statement. Yesterday I sat down and figured out my mission statement for my life – or purpose, if you will.

Once I knew my mission statement for my life, I knew in what direction I wanted Hugs & Lattes to go.

3 Steps to Revamp Your About Me

Hugs & Lattes’ Mission

My desire is to propel women into their identity by empowering them to be strong, and confident women. Hugs & Lattes is my way to reach beyond my small community.

As such, Hugs & Lattes is a lifestyle blog that seeks to empower women to become confident in their identity, their relationship with faith, and their relationship with others.

Knowing my mission statement allowed me to focus my writing. Thanks to my mission statement, I knew what I wanted to write about:

Faith and Relationships

When I knew what I wanted to write about, I was able to become more disciplined in my schedule. Readers may notice if they click on my page on a Monday, they will find a faith-related/inspirational post.

If you mosey on over to Hugs & Lattes on a Friday, you will mostly find posts on relationships. My original objective was to hone in on marriage and dating relationships, but I am finding the desire to expand into relationships with anybody. 

And because I cannot confine myself to a box completely, I left Wednesdays open for whatever it is on my heart I desire to write about. This gives me the freedom to just be me. If I want to write about coffee, I’ll write about coffee.

If you show up on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday and there are no posts to be found, then you can just assume I chose to snuggle with my husband instead of typing away one night.

3 Steps to Revamp Your About Me

Update Your Head Shots 

This one isn’t a¬†have to, but it sure is fun. I took head shots when I first transitioned The Grand Adventures of Me over to Hugs & Lattes two summers ago. Well, in 2 years I chopped my hair off and gained 15 pounds of post-grad/marriage weight, so I knew it was time for some updated head shots.

I read somewhere that whenever you drastically change your hair, you should update your head shots. Unfortunately I took my head shots a month ago, before I drastically changed my hair. I am not retaking head shots. I’ll just grow my hair back out. Ha!

3 Steps to Revamp Your About Me

Bonus Step

Always be on the lookout for revisions.

My mission statement for Hugs & Lattes is only a working mission statement. It’s a working mission statement from 2 years ago. As you grow and as your blog goes, your mission may morph, and that’s okay.

What is important is that you stay true to you.

PHEW. OK now that you read all that. . . tell me – what do you think?

How often do you change your “About Me?”

What is your favorite part about your “About Me” section?

Adventures in July

Adventures in July

Remember when I told you that July was the first month Mr. M and I have spent in over a year not traveling anywhere?

Well, I lied.

Or I forgot, rather.

It wasn’t until I was looking over the month of July in my planner that I realized we drove to 3 states¬†all in one weekend to celebrate love (a wedding) and family (a quick family getaway.)

To top that off, we had cousins come in town one weekend in July and we went to Asheville, NC for a day trip.

One day maybe we’ll spend an entire month located in one place. But this isn’t the day.

July felt like it was 10 miles long, so I’m quite excited to see August greeting us with cooler breezes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and notebooks. The schools in the area all start back this week, so I have the itch to go out and buy a new pack of pens just to join in the fun.

A Wedding in the Storm

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To start off July, we ventured over to Gatlinburg and drove all around windy roads to the tippy top of a mountain for a gorgeous wedding with gorgeous views. It was my first outside wedding during a thunderstorm, but thankfully it didn’t rain too hard and the thunder only rumbled ominously from afar. But hey, at least they got gorgeous ceremony pictures because everyone says the gray skies are better for photos than the sunshine. I loved getting to wear this gorgeous Zimbabwean print skirt that my MIL gifted me for my birthday last year.

3 States, 1 Weekend

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After we went to Gatlinburg, we ventured up another windy mountain to stay in a hostel with both of our families. This was the first time Mr. M’s family and my family has spent an extensive amount of time together. My dad found a hostel on air bnb that fit both of our big families for a fun weekend. It was so cool to see our families come together and love on each other, laugh with each other, and get to know each other better. We spent one of the days in Abingdon, VA riding 17 (of the 34!) miles of the Creeper Trail – a gorgeous bike trail with tree canopies lining your way. We’re lazy, so we only did half the trail. But boy, was my booty hurting by the end of those 17 miles. It was so relaxing to let go and enjoy nature. Also, trying to take the above picture was a tidbit dangerous.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

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Except we did go chasing waterfalls and it was a blast. Mr. M made us be adventurous one Monday evening – a Monday evening of all evenings! – and find a waterfall with friends. Thankfully, the waterfall required 0 hiking effort, so we quickly climbed down the trail and spent a frigid evening splashing and playing in the water.

Asheville

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When we had cousins come in town for a weekend of fun, we took them to my favorite fun place: Asheville. Here’s a picture of me standing next to a door. Because bloggers do weird ish.

We ate at a delicious creperie where I tried goat cheese, duck sausage crepe and I probably won’t try it again. We did our usual thing, eat, go to a bookstore, and get chocolate at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where I tried a new fav – an affogato. Because what doesn’t say YAY like putting ice cream in your espresso shot.

July was a great month to rest, relax, and still go on a couple of adventures. Like always, this is the highlight reel. If you want to know what happened on the pages in between, I’ll tell you. But it wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of laundry, a lot of Netflix, and a few emotional breakdowns because that’s just how I roll.

Tell me, what was your favorite thing about July?