mental health · relationships · Wellness

The Simple Magic of DOING Something

My nephew, Logan, is ten years old, and in his own words…he’s “AWESOME.”

I have four nieces and two nephews, each uniquely gifted. Veronica is an amazing actor and singer. Bryce is extremely tech-savvy. Aislynn is athletic. Kali is an incredible artist. Dayla is not quite three, so we are still learning what gift she possesses. For now it is the gift of a large, commanding personality and amazing style.

Logan was blessed with the gift of humor. Collectively as a family, we have been blessed with the gift of experiencing Logan’s humor. He is goofy and has the best facial expressions, one-liners, and quick-witted remarks. He can also be quite the charmer.

The other week, Logan was upset because Veronica and Kali were invited to see the new Spiderman movie with friends, and the invitation was not extended to Aislynn and him. He and Aislynn were beside themselves. My sister decided that perhaps a walk to my house would cheer them up and distract them from the tragedy of not getting to go to the movies with the teenagers.

I see Logan bouncing up my driveway and run out to greet him. The first thing he says is not “Hi, Aunt Loni!” Nor is it, “Hello!” Or, “Good evening!” Or any other common greetings.

He says: “Veronica and Kali decided to go to the movies instead of coming to see you. Not me and Aisy though, we CHOSE YOU, Loni. We chose to come see you instead of going to see a movie.”

Sure, I knew the real deal because my sister had called me half an hour prior from her backyard whispering, “ I think they are about to conspire against me over this stupid movie!”

But with his icy blue eyes and toothy grin, I couldn’t help but have my socks knocked off by Logan’s charm.

Recently, my little comedian charmed me in a different, humbling way.


It was a Friday night. My sister, Steph, had surgery for a herniated disc that day, and my mom had her three up at the hospital to visit her. Kali was at a slumber party. I had Logan and Dayla while my sis, Bri, and her hubby were out for dinner.

When my sis and bro-in-law first left for the evening, Dayla was finishing up dinner, and Logan was watching a cartoon. Eventually, Dayla migrated over, and the two were entranced by some obscure show. I figured I’d let them watch a few episodes because Bri is typically pretty strict with TV time, so I thought a Friday night novelty was called for.

Besides, I wasn’t feeling very “there.” As in, life has recently been throwing all sorts of unexpected craziness in my direction, and how could I possibly be actively engaged with my niece and nephew’s company when there was so much unproductive worrying I could be doing instead? So I sat on the couch beside them, and I stewed and daydreamed of worst possible scenarios. I was in the same room as them, on the same couch even, yet I was nowhere near them.

At some point, I mentally checked-in to think that we were nearing the threshold of enough TV viewing for one sitting and decided that after this episode, we’d come up with a new activity. Well, new for them. I’d still stew and worry.

Mid anxious thought, Logan loudly asks, “Hey Loni, do you want to DO something??”

“Sure, Bud,” I reply. “What would you like to DO?”

He opts for coloring a neat hardbound mythical monsters coloring book Steph gave him. He gets all set up at the kitchen table, excitedly coloring the next monster on the page after reading about its magical powers.

I get Dayla going with some colored pencils and her new sticker book. Then I take my seat and resume my worrying. I was in the same room as them, at the same table even, yet I was nowhere near them.

“Hey Loni….” Logan calls out to me while still coloring. “You could come sit beside me and color some of the monsters I haven’t started on yet,” he sweetly offers.

I sit by him. Anxiety floods me as I try and figure out what colors to use on this serpent snake whose mystical powers “aren’t that impressive” according to Logan. I settle on a navy and a gold. I’m coloring and fretting over how small some of the details are, and I pretty much deem the snake a failure when Logan exclaims, “Whoah, Loni! How did you learn to color so lightly like that? It looks awesome!”

Truth be told, his compliment made me feel better.

We move on to a new page. This one has a huge spider with a sugar skull design on its back. Logan decides we need to conquer this bad boy together. We decide to go with bright colors on the eyes, nose, and mouth of the sugar skull, as well as on the legs. We color the body black to make the colors pop.

As we work, we discuss which colors need to go where. We talk about how we wouldn’t want to run into this spider in the nighttime. We are coloring. We are talking. And I am not stewing. I am not worrying. We are sitting beside each other, DOING an activity together. Logan’s excitement grows as we complete the spider.

My sister calls to let me know she is on her way home and in the background Logan yells towards the phone, “We are having SO much fun!” Dayla mimics her brother, “SO much fun!”

When Bri walks in the door, Logan immediately takes her by the arm over to the table to admire the spider. “Didn’t Logan do an awesome job?” I ask.

“No, WE did an awesome job,” he corrects me.

Before I leave, Logan gives me the biggest hug and whispers to me that he had the best night with me. A few weeks later, he is still showing off the spider to his cousins.

Logan is my goofy, comedian nephew, yet that night he taught me a valuable lesson about life.


The time I spent at that table coloring with Logan, I felt alive. I was present. I showed up for that moment. You know what is really crazy?

My life quality did not diminish from abandoning my worries and concerns. If anything, it improved.

My stress levels did not increase because I neglected my worries and concerns. If anything, they fell.

Life is not meant to be spent inside one’s head. Life is meant to be lived. Living shouldn’t be overthought. To begin living, just DO something. Anything. Take action, and do. When you simply DO something and dedicate your entire focus to this action, the magic of living begins.

Being present and in the moment

xx-Lona

diy · entertaining · Food & Drink · Living · Uncategorized

Relaxed Summer Luau and Advice to a Fourteen Year Old

Hi, loves.

I had every intention of posting on Tuesday, but by the time I made it home from a CRAZY work day (you may have seen my hometown on the news) , I could not focus.

Better late than never, I suppose.

Last Sunday was my eldest niece’s birthday. She turned 14, and I feel OLD! My sister has been down with a herniated disk, so my other sister and I last minute took on throwing a little shindig.

We didn’t have the luxury of time or a large budget, so we kept it a relaxed, glam luau. I thought I’d share the sweet details.

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party


Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

See? A little bit can go a long way. I recycled some of the pom streamers from my engagement party, and I ordered the cute foil balloons and metallic tattoos for fun details. And aren’t the spray-painted pineapples darling?

All in all, it turned out to be a lovely gathering for a lovely young lady! I cannot believe my niece will be a freshman in high school this fall! Her birthday got me thinking about advice I’d give my fourteen year old self….and oddly it is the same advice I am working on internalizing these days as well.

I think it is most eloquently put by Scott Stabile:

Truth bombs. Mantra. Bullies.

This is what I hope to convey to my niece as she enters some exciting and difficult years. This is what I hope to convey through my lifestyle.

 

Shop my party looks here:

Gold Foil ‘Happy Birthday’ Balloon Set

Metallic Birthday Tattoos 

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

 

 

My dear, sweet [W]IT GIRLS, keep on shining like you do.

xx-Lona

 

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Culture · Events · mental health · music · relationships · Travel · Wellness

Life Lately, Bonnaroo 2017, and a Summer Vibes Playlist

 

 

What a sight for sore eyes this screen is. I have missed my blog. I have missed you, dear friends. All of it.

Yet every time I have sat down to post, I have been overwhelmed with anxiety, which is not a feeling I typically associate with this blog. I planned to take a week off for Bonnaroo, only to hop directly back on the blog train to tell you all about my wild adventures and hear about some of yours from while I was away from my little blog community.

Then last week happened.

Last week was just a continuous stream of weird, unfavorable events for my family. Some of these events are laughable, and some are quite serious. There are some major health problems plaguing a couple of family members, which means I’ve been “ON” more constantly, and really trying to help out with my nieces and nephews, since it is summer break for them.

In light of some of the bad things going on, I have enjoyed being around my family so much over the past week and a half. Last night, I spent an awesome few hours with my youngest niece, who is almost three years old. We ate strawberries, tried on sparkly jewelry, and played hide and seek until sundown!

The caveat to this refreshing time spent with family is that when I finally have a few quiet moments to myself at night…I am exhausted and a little disoriented because my routine has been let go with abandon. I’ve not just been absent from [W]IT GIRL, but from social media in general. I’ll sometimes go nine hours without touching my phone because I’ve been so engaged in everything from handling a damaged AC unit (4 days, no AC, 90 degree weather), to prepping for my nephew’s birthday party, to helping care for my sister’s ill pup. In a way, unplugging has been rejuvenating. But also, it has interfered with a blog routine that has been manageable, successful, and fulfilling.

Cue anxiety—you see, normally I pour myself into each post, and it is planned, edited, and ready to go days prior to when it is to be posted. Bonnaroo obviously got in the way of my usual weekend workflow; however, when I would sit down to catch up, I’d find myself exhausted, concerned about giving you less than my best.

[W]IT GIRL started over two years ago as a way to play with concepts I was picking up from my Technical Writing courses during undergrad. Over time I’d held onto it hoping to one day turn it into something valuable. 2017 has been my year to create quality, authentic content, and the notion that perhaps creating content while exhausted would take away from the progress I’ve made over the past half of a year opened the flood gates for waves of anxiety.

After much internal deliberation, I decided that while I should not let exhaustion rob my blog of quality content, exhaustion does not make my writing any less authentic. If anything, it makes it more authentic.

So here I am. I’m not as caffeinated as I’d prefer, but I am showing up, and sometimes that’s the beginning and end of everything.

 

Let’s talk Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

As I mentioned in my previous post, I first attended Bonnaroo in 2011 and then again in 2012. Those were two of the most magical experiences of my life, and I truly believe seeing Radio Head live and witnessing Thom York’s sweet moves up close impacted who I am today. These glorious memories had me pretty pumped to return to the farm!

Five years later, Bonnaroo is a different crowd. A little younger than I recall. Yes, I am a good bit older than when I first attended; however, I did not see any of the older hippies who hop festivals as a lifestyle. I have vivid memories of such individuals from my first trips to Bonnaroo. This time around, it definitely gave off a more trendy Coachella vibe, but Benny had nothing to compare it to, and I wasn’t about to let the difference throw a wrench my good time, so we just went with it.

We arrived early Thursday afternoon and set up our campsite. Each morning we’d chill at the campsite for a few hours before trekking into Centeroo for the music and activities.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

img_6151Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

There were only a couple of acts Thursday that I recognized, so we really set out to explore and discover awesome artists. We got mighty close for The Orwells. I was so pumped to get Benny in such a good spot for our first set, only to immediately regret this moments into their first song. I failed to realize that The Orwells have a rather rowdy following who “dance” in an aggressive matter with little attention to their surroundings. We immediately backtracked our way to higher ground, safe from the mosh pit.

My sunglasses were the only casualty. We are thankful for their sacrifice. Could have been a limb or a phalange or a face instead. Jesus took the wheel on that one.

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Throughout the course of the weekend, Benny and I had a blast being moved by the incredible talent that swept Bonnaroo stages. A few of my favorite acts were Glass Animals, Tove Lo, Tegan and Sara, Chance the Rapper, and Lorde. And that’s the condensed list.

My freckles came out to play. We gained Chaco tan lines. We walked until our feet were numb. We came back sun-kissed, sleepy, and free-spirited. ‘Twas a good time, most definitely.

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Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

I’m not sure when I’ll next return to the farm, but I urge you, [W]IT GIRLS, go see some live music this summer. Make it a priority. And when you do, don’t film it all on your phone. Be there. Be enchanted. Be present.

You can shop my adorable off-the-shoulder swimsuit here. I received so many compliments on it!

Last, but certainly not least…..I’m gifting you a Summer Vibes playlist that is Bonnaroo 2017 inspired, since it is OFFICALLY SUMMER!!

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalxx-Lona

beauty · Fashion & Beauty

Top Skin Care Picks for a Healthy, Bright Complexion

Sometimes, I am a ridiculous human being.

I find myself wondering what it’d be like if that perfect Snapchat filter could permanently make my face look smooth, golden, and flawless. You know exactly which filter I’m talking about, so don’t deny it.

top picks fo

This is admittedly one of the most vain, petty thoughts I’ve had recently. Instead I should be thinking:

“What nutritious, and presumably leafy green foods, should I incorporate into my diet to promote healthy skin?”

 “Have I drank enough water today? Put the wine down.” 

“Better thoroughly wash off my makeup before I ‘rest my eyes’ one second longer during this action movie Benny picked.” 

If you read my post last week, you recall me mentioning having developed a skin care regime. Today I wanted to share with you the products I find beneficial in keeping my skin clear and bright.

Over the past year, I’ve worked to fill my beauty cabinet with more natural, organic, or food-grade items where possible. These changes have cut out a lot of parabens, toxic chemicals, and other members of the “dirty dozen” so often seen in beauty products. Interestingly enough, these changes have also brought about the clearest skin I’ve had in my adult life. Breakouts still happen occasionally, but it is a very rare instance that I find a straight up nasty zit on my face (last week is only instance I can recall since last summer).

Before I share my favorite products with you, I want to make an extremely important preface: while I believe these products have had a great impact on my overall skin health, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do for healthy skin is make sure you are eating a balanced diet. Drink water. Drink water. Drink water.

One more time for the people in the back:

DRINK WATER.

Also, it is 2017. You can make any nasty vegetable you hate taste good in a smoothie. I listened to a podcast the other day where this healthcare professional was discussing her recipe for a killer cilantro smoothie.

Cilantro. Smoothie. What a time to be alive.

Eat some green stuff.

Now, without further ado, I bring you:


My Top Picks in Skin Care Products for a Healthy, Bright Complexion:

Top picks for skin care products to promote a healthy bright complexion

1. Elemis Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser & Balancing Lavender Toner

Top picks for skin care products promoting health and bright complexion

Benny and I discovered Elemis at the spa on our honeymoon cruise. We both purchased Elemis products, and we are both still using Elemis. The Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser is my daily gentle cleanser. It is creamy, smells amazing, and is not harsh. The Balancing Lavender Toner is one of two toners I use. I normally use it in the mornings to refresh my skin. It is super light and gentle, and it gives a nice dewey quality to the skin.

These Elemis products are pillars in my daily skin care regime.

2. Lush Ocean Salt

Top picks in skin care products promoting healthy and bright complexion

Lush Ocean Salt is my single favorite beauty product of all time. When my aunt and cousins flew in for our wedding, they treated me with a huge gift basket of Lush brand goodies. Since then, Lush has become one of my favorite brands and I feel so confident in the quality of their products. Ocean Salt was truly a game changer for me. It is all natural, made from sea salt and vodka-infused lime, and I use is biweekly to exfoliate my face, and sometimes my back.

3. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream & Intense Hydration Eye Cream

Top picks in skin care products promoting healthy and bright complexion

When I started researching the components of a good skincare regime, I realized that a moisturizer is crucial. Sometimes when dealing with breakouts, or a nice shiny mid-day T-zone, moisturizing seems a bit counter-intuitive, but what I have found is that it is actually quite important and can help contribute to preventing and smoothing wrinkles. You should pick your moisturizer based on your skin type, so I will let you [W]IT GIRLS do your own research there, but these two Burt’s Bees products have been great for my skin, which tends to be oily in the T-zone and dry everywhere else.

The Intense Hydration Night Cream is a thick butter consistency, and I work it into my forehead, my cheeks, and my neck. A little goes a long way. The Intense Hydration Eye Cream has a slightly thinner consistency, and I work it into my eyelids, under the eyes, and temples. I sometimes use it to blend in concealer under my eyes as well.

4. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Top picks for skin care products promoting healthy bright complexion

This is the second of the two toners I use. This toner is a little more potent than the Elemis, so I typically use it at night before I use the night cream in order to prevent irritation or dry skin. I really use this in my problem areas: the nose, chin, and forehead. I also apply it to breakouts right away, and I’ve noticed that it acts fast.


There you have my top skin care product picks for promoting a healthy and bright complexion. I typically wash my face with the Elemis Lime Blossom Cleanser every night.  Twice a week I will exfoliate with the Lush Ocean Salt at night. After cleansing (and sometimes exfoliating), I will apply the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner. Once the toner dries, I moisturize with Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream and Eye Cream. When I wake up, typically my skin is soft and smooth, so I just spritz with the Elemis Balancing Lavender Toner before applying makeup.

Shop my skin care regime:

Elemis Lime Blossom Cleanser

Elemis Balancing Lavender Toner

Lush Ocean Salt

Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream

Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream

Mario Badescu Glycol Acid Toner

I hope this helps you in your journey to a healthy, bright complexion, [W]IT GIRLS!

xx-Lona

Fashion · Fashion & Beauty

4 Ethical Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Happy Memorial Day!

May we gravely remember and honor those who offered the greatest sacrifice to protect our freedoms.

I hope your weekend has been restful and spent in good company. I started the weekend feeling a bit feverish and under the weather. It’s been a tough allergy season for me.

We had our first guests over to the new house for pizza and beers, and it was so fun to host and entertain in this space! We also partook in our share of housework–I finally painted our guest bedroom.

On Saturday we attended a beautiful wedding. We had a steamy, humid weekend, so I opted to don this cold shoulder dress from Pac Sun.

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

cold shoulder dress for wedding

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

The cold shoulder style seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. I loved that this dress was in one of the main colors of my capsule wardrobe–blush. Also, I loved the sort of handkerchief print on it. While this could be worn in a more casual setting, I dressed it up for the barnyard wedding with classic strappy black heels and an envelope clutch.

I typically don’t wear a full face of makeup to work or for daily activities. Since we’ve been so wrapped up in the house for the last month, I can only think of one other occasion on which I went all out on the makeup front.

I went for a dewey natural look to compliment the blush dress, and I used mostly natural and cruelty free products to get this look (namely Tarte, Bella Mari, and Fresh).

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40


Since we are entering summer, I thought I’d share some ethical cold shoulder dresses, all under $40!

1.

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

My blush cold shoulder handkerchief dress–shop here 

2.

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Shop for this dress here

3.

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Shop for this dress here

4.

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Shop for this dress here


 

I hope you find this guide helpful for any weddings or events you may have coming up!

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

 

xx-Lona

mental health · relationships · Wellness

5 Mantras for Confidence

Within me is the strengthto handle theobstacles I face-4.png

Do you want to know what I find to be one of the most beautiful things?

A lady with confidence.

There is something so powerful about a woman who is comfortable in her skin and able to communicate with poise and dignity.

Y’all, it give me chills! That’s one of the whole reasons I started [W]IT GIRL: I wanted to create a platform through which young women could grow into well-rounded, confident ladies who take the world head on.

Some people are innately born with confidence. Others gain it with age and maturity. And still others struggle to find this enigmatic characteristic. I fall into the last category, although I will say age has helped. I strive to make my fellow [W]IT GIRLS feel confident in themselves and the work they do; I find community is huge in boosting one’s confidence.

One of my favorite ways to manifest confidence is mantras.

One million years ago during a yoga class, my teacher introduced me to the concept of a mantra. At the time I found the notion a little strange and voodoo-y. Joke was on me.

A mantra is a word or phrase you repeat to yourself or aloud (often in a meditation practice). Typically mantras are positive and uplifting; the idea is that as you vocalize these pure thoughts and ideas repeatedly, you realize them. Mantras manifest your dreams. Think of it as a pep talk.

I often write mantras repeatedly, or I’ve even made mantra cards and kept them in my purse for easy access. When I need a boost of confidence or feel overwhelmed, I choose a mantra and give myself one minute to repeat it as many times as I can while doing some deep breathing. Mantras can be great mechanisms for coping with stress or frustration, as well.


Today I’m sharing with you 5 mantras to manifest confidence.

1.

5Oh, sweet [W]IT GIRL, you are enough. You have enough. Everything you need is within. Don’t let anyone steal your self-worth.

2.

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God places you exactly where you are meant. Any obstacle you face or pain you experience is temporary and preparing you for bigger, for better.

3.

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You are the light. You are the positivity. Inhale and expand. Exhale and let go of that which no longer serves you.

4.

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Acceptance is crucial to finding inner peace. Fight for the things you can change. Accept the things you cannot.

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[W]IT GIRLS, you attract what you radiate.

 

So go forth, radiate confidence.

 

xx-Lona

Food & Drink · Living · relationships · Wellness

No More Juggling Dog Bones, There’s a Subscription for That

I’m just going to come right out and say it:

Being a young, career-oriented woman who also wants to be a dutiful homeowner, wife, fur baby mama, and blogger is HARD.

I might as well write professional juggler on my resume because that’s this [W]IT GIRL’s magic act. And while I am being candid, there is nothing I hate more than dropped balls.

Wait.

Strike that.

Not what I meant.

Prime example, though–it is so difficult to give 100% of me to every aspect of my life, and I know this must be how a lot of strong women feel, especially you mamas out there. That’s one more ball to juggle, and one that you can’t afford to drop. After awhile of the go, go, go mentality to get to everything, it makes me a little twitchy.

Okay, I am done with my horrible metaphors.

On the fur baby front, I want to share my latest discovery that helps me ensure I won’t spend anymore late nights scrambling eggs for them and cutting up sweet potato because I forgot to run to the pet store for food.

Readers, meet Chewy. Chewy is magical.

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Don’t take it from them; they are always a little suspect of strange smells and new objects.

Chewy is an online superstore for pet owners. They offer competitive prices for everything from food to toys to beds, and they have super quick shipping as well!

My first purchase from Chewy was two lifted dog beds to put in our mudroom for the puppers. I found the prices to be extremely reasonable. The only issue I ran into was that one piece on one of the two beds was defective.

I called Chewy and was received by such a pleasant worker who was conversational as she processed updates regarding my order. Rather than just sending me a new part, she sent me an entire new bed and told me to donate the defective one to a shelter.

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They each have their own bed, but they have a zero tolerance policy for personal space.

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Cheap shot on Piper’s part.

After having a great experience with the beds, I decided to go ahead and sign up for a subscription to two things I hate buying in store, and therefore forget (funny how that works) to buy: dog food and cat litter.

What do these two things have in common? They’re HEAVY.

So every four weeks, I’m subscribed to purchase and receive two bags of dog food and one box of cat litter. For the first 3 subscription orders you make, Chewy gives you a 20% discount, which is pretty sweet. Eventually I will also subscribe to cat food, but Basie seems to make a bag of food last much, much longer than the doggos.

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In addition to food and beds, I have also purchased Kong brand toys (the only toys that can prolong the destruction my rowdy pups ultimately achieve) for a hugely discounted price for the pups! As you can see, Chewy is a huge help in managing supplies and food for my furry loves.

I wanted to share with you today this sweet discovery of mine in hopes that maybe this will eliminate one thing from those that you are juggling!

Keep on, keeping on, [W]IT GIRLS, because you are so much stronger than you think! Work smart though, and look for vehicles such as Chewy that can help reduce your load.

Check out the magic here

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xx-Lona

Fashion · Fashion & Beauty

Breezy Cotton Wrap Dress

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend, friends? Ours was simple, relaxing, chill. We mainly focused on cleaning up the house, bringing more over to the house from the apartment, enjoying the weather, and receiving our new couch. The couch was probably the highlight of sweet Benny’s weekend. He picked it out and has been anxiously awaiting  its arrival. We did our fair share of lounging.

I loved the sunny, breezy weather. It officially feels like my favorite time of year. Warm spring–everything is green, and there is just a touch of humidity hanging in the air…truly Southern, that aspect. An essential piece for this weather is a classic light cotton day dress. Coincidentally, this is also a great staple piece for those pursuing an ethical capsule wardrobe.

I love this organic cotton twilight grey wrap dress!

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In addition to this dress being perfect for this Southern weather, I love a great wrap dress. Wrap dresses are so feminine and dreamy. This dress is so soft, it’s to die for. It’s made by one of my favorite brands contributing to sustainability.

Get my dress here

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How was your weekend? How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?

[W]IT GIRL

relationships · Wellness

Celebrating the Most Important Woman in my Life–her Name is Mom

Hi, friends!

As we discussed last Thursday, Sunday is Mother’s Day! Last week I shared my gift giving guide to help you find the perfect, ethical Mother’s Day present for the moms in your life. Today, I thought I’d celebrate my own mom and tell you about why she is so special to me, aside from the fact that she’s MOM.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I don’t share much about my family on the blog. I’m actually very close to my family, and love our little tightly knit corner of the world! My family as a whole is not a fan of social media, and it’s understandable. They are not keen on putting their information out there on the web for others to see, and privacy has always been a big deal in our household. Out of respect for them, I don’t share them much on my blog, but I love the heck out of them. One of my goals for this blog from the start (over two years ago, say whaaaat?!) has been to create a space for building confidence in women, so I feel compelled to write a bit about the woman who has built me up over the past twenty some years, and continues to do so daily.

I think my mother is the best person on this planet, and the older I get, the more honored I feel that I–of all people–get to be her daughter. This realization alone is often times enough to make me strive to be better. I view my mom as the embodiment of that quote about not letting the world change you or bring you down, but rather going forth and lifting up the world.

mom quote
Attribute: Jelly Wong

My mom’s suffered adversity at nearly every stage in her life, and it breaks my heart just thinking about some of the situations she has endured. Even though I think she has been dealt more pain than ten people put together should experience in a lifetime, she is somehow the queen of positive thinking and making the best out of less than ideal situations….you could say she makes some mean lemonade!

Not only is my mom the most resilient person I know, she is extremely self-sacrificing. Throughout my whole childhood, she made decisions that were right for me, even if they meant she had to give up something in her life, or go the extra mile to make mine better. While this seems to be a common trait in mothers, my mom still acts so selflessly in my life now, even though I’m grown. She’s spent so much time helping us on our new house. She took days off from work to help me get the house move-in ready, one of those which she spent the entirety of on a tall ladder, nine feet in the air painting my trim despite the fact that she has vertigo. We’d be living amid a huge construction/painting warzone if it hadn’t been for her help.

While my mother is selfless and giving, I should also put it out there that she definitely holds me accountable. She is not afraid to call me on my crap, or let me know when I can do better. I remember in high school wishing she could be more like other kids’ moms who maintained a “my child can do no wrong” mindset….hindsight no longer has me wishing that. The realist that my mom is always keeps me in check, and as a young adult, I value this aspect of our relationship so much.

Whenever I ask my mom about how she is so realistic and can predict how situations will pan out with (somewhat scary) precision accuracy, she always tells me it’s because she’s old, and she has seen it all. While I contest the old part, she truly has seen a lot of what life is about, and she guides me accordingly. I remember being a senior in high school telling her that there was so much I continue to learn about her and how it’s weird that while she’s been around my entire life, I’ve been around for less than half of hers. I’ll never forget her response—she said, “Well maybe I wasn’t really me until I had you.”

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I love my mom, and I can’t wait to celebrate her this weekend! Go out and hug the important mamas in your life this weekend—they have the toughest job.

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?

 

[W]IT GIRL

mental health · relationships · Wellness

From the Heart: Success is a Choice

Howdy, friends!

I’m currently sitting on my patio, enjoying the refreshing breeze and winding down from a long day….and a rather long weekend, as strange as that is to say.

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Today I am going to be a bit vulnerable and share something from the heart with you all. We did a lot of learning this weekend at the Benitez household, and while it might not have been fun in the moment, I’m so thankful that we were able to grow from our experience.

Friday marked two weeks since closing on our new home, and to give ourselves some credit, we’ve made a lot happen in two weeks! We went into the weekend with big plans for getting more done, and while we did accomplish our goals, we learned (or relearned) an important lesson along the way, best put by Alex Noble:

“Success is a process, a quality of mind and way of being, an outgoing affirmation of life.”

Our goals this weekend included purchasing a lawn mower, mowing our yard, pulling weeds from our front planter, and cleaning up our mudroom and patio a bit from much of the mud tracked in, on, and around the house by our furbabes.

Backtrack to Thursday evening, one of our commodes began leaking dirty water. The positive side to this incident was that I hated the commode and intended on replacing it eventually. The downside to this incident is that our weekend was already chock full with the aforementioned plans. There was no wiggle room in our schedules or our budget to deal with this problem over the weekend. We removed the toilet, covered the plumbing opening, and started the weekend with less than stellar attitudes.

Friday was extremely stormy. There are some patches along our backyard that have sparse to no grass coverage, so you can imagine precipitation brings lots of mud to these patches. Piper and Rooney are not known to let a little rain halt their antics, so they embraced the muddy patches and rolled every square inch of their doggo bodies in the mud. They encouraged the sweet foster puppy we were dog-sitting to do the same, and she was easily influenced. Seeing the white vinyl of our house covered in red clay-like mud from the pups hopping up to peer into the windows was a little stressful, as was the sight of our mudroom living up to its name.

Saturday came with some sunshine, which was great for all of the yard work we had planned. We got up early and felt the pinch of a new lawnmower on our bank account, which is still recovering from us becoming homeowners. Tense, yet anxious to be productive, we returned home, where our teamwork quickly fell to the wayside.

I am a planner by nature. I think of things in steps with small boxes to check along the way. Benny is a big picture viewer. He sees the desired result and reverse engineers his way through things.

We get home, and while I planned our course of action, Benny plowed ahead to trying to get our concrete patio spic and span. At first, I resisted his method before somewhat resentfully caving and trying to help him. He became slightly obsessive over getting mud off the patio, while all I could think about was how more rain was in the forecast, and how the mudroom was where we were supposed to start, according to my plan.

We reached a whopping fifteen minutes before I lost my patience and temper and we split directions in tasking. The silly part is that we were both so stuck in trying to reach our goal, which was to improve our home, that logic totally fled our thought processes.

You see, first, “Success is a process.” We were so engrossed in the outcome that we did not think that perhaps addressing the muddy patches in the lawn was the first step to solving the muddy patio. We can’t prevent rain, which creates mud. We could sow some grass into the barren patches to reduce mud though, ultimately eliminating the bulk of our frustration with the patio and mudroom. We failed to trust or appreciate the process.

Second, “Success is…a quality of mind and way of being.” We both approached this weekend with anything but successful mindsets. The leaky toilet threw a wrench (cheap pun) in our plans, and the downpour on Friday didn’t improve our mindsets. We woke up Saturday tense and cranky, and we acted according to our crappy attitudes. We totally let circumstances dictate our behavior. Success was nowhere to be seen.

Third, “Success is….an outgoing affirmation of life.” While I love to get caught up in the notion that life is comprised of all the enjoyable moments, truthfully half of life is not joy. At least not to start. I assert that a solid half of life is unpleasant, annoying, mundane, and/or painful. I believe these fractions can change based on mindset and a person’s self-grown aptitude to react and accept circumstances that are not automatically enjoyable. I think that the sooner we learn to accept and thrive in the parts of life that are not easy, pretty, clean….the sooner we will find success. Life is life—good, bad, ugly, messy, breathtaking, inspiring…all of it. We did not own the messiness of the weekend, and we didn’t stop to give it the consideration that perhaps, it was just one annoying moment in a lifetime of moments.

We left the weekend in better spirits, both acknowledging that we didn’t act in a way conducive to success as homeowners, spouses, or individuals. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this lesson came with our seven-month wedding anniversary (today).

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I’m glad we’ve recognized the lesson learned from last weekend, and I hope this little musing resides with you as well. Enjoy each form through which success grows and moves you, friends.

 

Happy Monday!

 

[W]IT GIRL