Increased Self Care

Who doesn’t love getting a mani/pedi? How about a salon trip? It feels amazing to pamper yourself or just continue your up keep. As much as these activities are awesome and can be forms of self-care, do not limit that to your only self-care. Increase self-care to those things that bring joy into your heart and life.  What about that hobby that brings the type of smile that can’t be wiped away?  What about making time with friends a priority? What about going back to school to accomplish a goal you left sitting? What about making time for rest and unplugging? We all need to dip deeper into self care now more than ever.

brown couch near pillows and mats

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When I hear older folks make complaints such as “what is this self-care business, we didn’t have that growing up,” it irks me. Those be the same women that have the most insecurities, the most hard battles in their spirit that have gone unchecked. When you know better you do better. Why aren’t you practicing it yourself or encouraging the younger generation to focus on their mental health just because no one encouraged you? You remember them lonely battles you fought? Remember that feeling of being overwhelmed? Why would you want another woman or man to go through that?  Even it made someone 5 seconds better, it’s worth it. Encourage and then practice it yourself. 2019 is about accountability and that is even in how we treat ourselves. We can’t expect anyone to treat us well when we treat ourselves badly. Think about it from head to toe. What are you doing to make you whole? If you are still eating, drinking, not working out, have a thousand bad habits that contribute to your body and mind’s demise, these things need to be worked out.

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Self care is about self-preservation.  It pulls you out of darkness and makes you alert. When you don’t practice self-care often times you are numb to things and people around you. It doesn’t stop bad things from coming but it can help you deal with it that much more. Think about the times you let yourself go mentally. You weren’t even ready for hits that life was about to throw. Self care is super important. I don’t care what you call it.  You can call it self-care, self-love, me time, whatever it is find it, be consistent, and then add some more. There is no such thing as too much self-care. That is impossible. Having joy in this world is what keeps people from feeling hopeless. That hopeless feeling leads people into paths that don’t bring about positive results. People need hope. Joy isn’t about walking around with a smile 24/7.  It means that you have things in your life that bring you real happiness no matter what. Self care is about preserving peace in a world full of chaos. Self care is about loving yourself even when the world wants to make you feel unlovable. Self care doesn’t care what your status is in life. Self care is important. Please invest in yourself. Practice some more self-care!

two woman doing exercise

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Christmas Village Experience 2018

So as many of you know I came across the Christmas Village last year doing a Google search for free family fun. I then convinced my family to give the authentic outdoor German Market a try. We were impressed and excited to attend again this year. This year I was invited to take an intimate look at what the Christmas Village really has to offer behind the scenes. This year thanks to the renovations of the Love Park sign, it was even more special!

I was able to attend the opening ceremony to light “The Present.” Thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney who hit it home with his opening speech about giving towards others. This is the season to not just think about ourselves and our families but how we can best serve the people of Philadelphia. The Present is 27 feet in height, well-lit holiday present. It is in the middle of the Christmas Village.  Not only is it visually stunning, its set as a reminder to give to others.  If you are in the area you can give by texting and you will receive a gift tag that can be displayed on “The Present” that is a symbol of what the holiday is all about. You can actively give by doing the following:

  • TEXT PARKS to 501501 to donate to Fairmount Park Conservancy will go towards helping Philadelphia Parks
  • TEXT BOOKS  to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Parks and Recreation. Every $5 raised will purchase a total of 4 books. 
  • TEXT 80100 to donate to Project Home to help end poverty and homelessness

Inside “The Present”

“The Present is open starting today to the public all the way through December 24th. It’s free to enter and as you can see from the above photos it’s a beauty to see, take photos and walk inside!  I felt like the biggest kid. The colors and lights had me mesmerized. 

So I knew after watching “The Present” light up that I was off to a good start. The first stop on the tour was the German Grill. The open grill had all the best of the German deliciousness. From Bratwurst to Schnitzel, I was in pure Heaven. The open grill is such a delight and the smells pulled me in. I was completely satisfied.  As soon as I got home, I was upset as to why I didn’t take a Bratwurst to go. 

This took me to the second stop on the tour and that was to the open beer garden, The Alm. It’s always a good idea for beer. There are a lot of new items on the menu. Let me also point out for families with young children. This is a great spot to combine adulting and kids. It’s closed in. So this means a lot of play for the kids and drinks for the adults. This year they have a new beer mug. It’s a beauty to behold and you know that the bigger the cup, the bigger the gulp!

As if the beer wasn’t enough, I made my way to one if that’s right one of the wine offerings, German Gluhwein.  It’s a mulled wine. They offer a white and a red wine and both were amazing.

Next up was Käthe Wohlfahrt. This indoor gem blew my mind. This unique shop was full of mostly hand-made treasures. From one of a kind pieces to ornaments and decorations, it was a delight. Note there is no videography or photos for the public. However I was able to get you that inside look. What I will say is this is a must on your stops through the open village. Be careful as some of the pieces are pricey. So if you have little ones just hold their hands. I do believe once they see how well-lit and how beautiful the pieces are, they will spend more time asking questions than running through the store.

Next stop was the The Bacon Jams. I’ve never had bacon jam but today I wanted to buy all of them. These easy to spread jams taste super authentic to real bacon. The flavors were amazing. I tried every last one. From the maple bacon to the honey bourbon! All of them were a treat!

I believe I was turning into a foodie by the end of the night. The next stop was to Sweets where we tried some toasted chestnuts. I’ve never had any before but I was a believer tonight. Be sure if you attend that you make your way. There are other sweet treats as well.

Keeping in line with sweets we make our way to John and Kira’s. This was like chocolate Heaven! I tried for her first time honey bee chocolate made from local honey bee. First of all this gooey treat should be eaten in one bite. It’s honey flavor mixed with chocolate had to be the best that I have had in a long time. We also had some amazing sea salt caramel.

If you ever been to the Christmas Village you are full aware of the Raclette. It’s basically the best cheese I’ve ever eaten, that is melted under a special heated lamp and the cheese oozes onto some of the freshest bread Philadelphia has to offer. I was in cheese coma. Let me say that yes I took one for the team of non dairy, but I ain’t feel not ounce of shame.

For those who love unique cards you must stop at Love Pop. You can get pop up 3D cards. I enjoyed the tour and I plan to grab a few to give to special friends.

Our next stop was Mike’s Hot Honey. We were told that when you taste it, it would be sweet and then bitter and it was true. Mike’s Hot Honey is a spread that can be put on almost anything from bagels to chicken. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I am getting a cold but if I was when I left I definitely felt like my palette was cleared. 

mike hot

girl

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Of course we needed something a little sweet so we headed over to Helmuts Original Austrian Strudel. They had your classics like cherry but they also had some that were a definite go back and true such as the meat and pulled pork puffs. They even have a mac and cheese one!  

helmut

cherry

One of the final stops before ending with hot chocolate was Truffleist. This is what the name says, Truffle. So between some amazing cheeses and salami, the truffle butter was everything. I mean everyone enjoyed it. They have an amazing selection and to be honest I could eat that truffle butter by the spoonfuls. It was that good. 

truffle

One more goodie before I end, I love hand blown glass. The colors are amazing. So I had to take a picture of the Mouth Blown Ornaments. 

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So the tour was everything and more. You and your family or friends will have an amazing time. I tried to give you a snippet of what it would be like. The only thing that I didn’t see was Santa but you can catch Santa in the Santa Hut for pics starting on the weekends and then close to the season being over he will be there everyday. I would make sure you go and see him if you’re trying to get on the Nice List. 

Special thanks to Philadelphia Christmas Village, the sponsors: Bank of America, Acme, Käthe Wohlfahrt, and Hernnhuter and all of the partners who helped to make this day. Also shout out to all of the amazing vendors who bring the Christmas Village to Life rain or shine. Remember its free to enter and you only pay for the food, drinks, and treasures you find. 

Special shout out to Kory Aversa and the Aversa PR and Events for having me. 

So head on over and grab your kids, your friends, your girls, or your boys and  have an experience to remember!

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Christmas Eve: 11:00am – 5:00pm

Location:
LOVE Park, 1500 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Keep your Thanksgiving Wits

So this is the last weekend before Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that the grocery stores will be super crowded. So take your patience with you as you travel out. Between stores and traffic it will be a testing time.

Prepare for the holidays with more than what you will eat. Think about who you will invite and if you can find it in your heart to give towards others who may not be as fortunate. Think about ways you and your family can assist others either by donating food to food banks, volunteering to serve meals to others on Thanksgiving morning, or finding a family to sponsor. Either way let’s open our hearts to one another.

Another way to get ready for the holidays when going to the grocery store is to go with a list. I would attempt to get all that you need and treat it as if it was the day. This will help you to make those trips and you may find it may take more than one.  You will always need extra milk, eggs, and butter. So stack up early. I for one know that I need to get the list going so I don’t forget the key items. Thanksgiving eve is not the time to go to the store. All of the last-minute folks will be on super edge. Avoid them if you can.

chicken close up dish food

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Also think if you are doing a fancy seating chart, how you want things decorated and who will sit where. Also don’t forget about the kids. It’s best to have activities to keep the littles occupied.  This will save from the necessary meltdowns. If you are having dinner at a specific time and you know you are the late type person, have appetizers for others to enjoy while they wait. It’s super annoying to go to someone’s house, arrive on time, and they still making key dishes and they have ZERO snacks. Think about your guest and have good appetizers as well as great drinks.  Trust me you will be the hostess with the mostest if you have the necessary food in place.

If you can’t cook let me stress this isn’t the time to train. You should have been practicing all year-long but not today. Today is the day you stick to the things you do well. Maybe that means you should bring the wine.  Either way don’t be out here telling folks you got a speciality dish and your food ain’t hitting. I don’t know about you but the way my family is set up, you getting clowned. Stick to what you know and stick to the basics. If you have kids also bring them extra activities. Not all host will keep your children entertained although they should if they invited guests with kids. Even with our kids being a little older, we come prepared with extra outfits, entertainment, and we have a code word if we think things are getting out of hand. We have a code word between my husband and I for everywhere that we go. We use this word if one of us is ready to go or something is happening that is too much. This has been our saving grace.

If you go to someone’s home bring something. I always try to bring something. Like the times we go to my mom’s house. I bring a dessert, something. I have 5 folks in my home. There’s no way I am coming to someone’s home squad deep with nothing in my hand. Unless the person insists, bring a dish. Or even bring a bottle to share. That is always a gift. If the person of whom you are going doesn’t drink, make a non alcoholic drink that is festive to share. There are ways around no alcohol. Get on Pintrest, online, anything and make it special.

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Think about what you are going to wear. Some people wing it and that is fine, but if you want to be dressed up, make sure you have your outfit together. My uncle doesn’t require fancy attire so unless I get the kids Thanksgiving shirts, I just stick to being comfortable.  If your gathering is requiring more formal affair, be cute and comfy. Do not over do it and especially with kids. They are going to get dirty. They are going to play. They do not ever care about dressed and dress shoes. So go into the situation knowing that and always bring a back up outfit for them so when the pictures are done being taken you can move along and enjoy your day!

Above all be grateful for what you have. Think about the day and what it is all about. More than prepping food, it is about making sure that you spend it with those you love. It’s about being grateful for all advancements that we have. It’s about sitting around the table enjoying one another’s company. So enjoy as you prepare it doesn’t have to be filled with stress! Don’t forget to call your loved ones who couldn’t be with you on the day as well and tell them you love them!

Love Energy

If you ever worked out you know how it can feel. Sometimes you feel super motivated. Other times you have a love/hate relationship.  However if you are consistent in it you will notice how better you feel and eventually you will see results. When you are consistent and you see results it keeps you feeling amazing and keeps you going even when you have days when you slack off.

The energy behind that feeling of working out, eating better, or doing better is the same type of energy that needs to be put into your love relationship. You should feel loved on everyday. The days where arguments seem to be on a thousand, and you’re not getting along, should be way less than the days you and your partner spend loving on each other. One thing that I am realizing is the more energy into the relationship, the better the results. The times in your relationships where BOTH partners are attempting to meet in the middle is key to making it work.

Energy never lies. I don’t care what a person says, if the energy that a person is giving or lack thereof, is the key to how things hold up. You can never go on record with your spouse naming the things that you do in response to responsibilities alone if the energy in how you love isn’t being shown. I learned that in counseling on my own. I went to counseling about my life in general and if I am honest my marriage came up. My counselor was a man and he said to me that I know the energy in which my marriage is giving and if that energy is slacking, it won’t hold up. I either had to do my part, wait to see if my husband’s part would match, and if it don’t match, I knew what I had to do. This doesn’t mean my counselor was encouraging to divorce, etc, but he was making me aware of things that love blinds you to.

man wearing suit jacket sitting on chair in front of woman wearing eyeglasses

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Love is amazing. If you are being loved right, it shows. A woman glows better when she’s loving herself and her partner is loving her correctly. There is no denying that. Energy is all about what you give to your partner. If all you do is harp on what your partner does that is negative than don’t get mad when that person goes looking for someone to encourage them. Let me say it for the folks in the back, this is not a oh well if they cheat clause. I am saying if you’re honest and you know you aren’t speaking good into your relationship and over the person you claim to love and all you do is tearing that individual them, gaslighting them, and downing their every move, eventually that ugly side of you becomes less and less attractive. No ONE wants to be put down. You can’t come with a smile, ever? You don’t have not one nice thing to say, ever? There is something wrong, always? Don’t nobody got time for that. If you have an issue with something, speak up but it don’t have to be drawn into a picture with a neon sign everyday! Speak love. Speak encouragement. Put into the relationship what you want out of it.

One last nugget my counselor told me that we tend to say, if I was with “this” person whatever the “this” represents, we would….. If you don’t work out in yourself whatever negative issues you feel from what you get out of your mate, you can leave them and run right back into that same type of person later. Check your loves of the past, do they all share common traits? If so than maybe there’s something in you that needs to be worked out. Energy never lies. If you feel miserable and you’re working on yourself and find that the person you are with is not and its dragging you down, speak up. After awhile things will naturally take its course. Don’t ignore the warning signs cause you love this person!

Checking in on Your Loved Ones

There is something to be said when you check in on your loved ones. Whether it’s a quick check in or a full on call and listen session we need to be proactive in doing more for each other. We are connected and we need to keep that connection as strong as it possibly can be. We need to do a better job on spreading love to everyone and even the ones we know well. We tend to give better compliments to strangers at times than we do to those we are around. Be the type of person that is nurturing to one another and attempt to find the good in your circle of loved ones.

So for that I am challenging all of my followers to do a quick check in. I know that often times we use text messages and we don’t talk on the actual phone, but it may be time to do a full on call. You can use text messages as a lead way but overall it would be good to hear a voice and be sure that your friends and family are truly okay. Its getting colder out and seasonal depression is real. Even the ones who you think is totally fine and there are no issues present could be fighting a silent fight.

three women sitting on grass

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You would do yourself a disservice to ignore your loved ones in this season. So spend a little time and make it your business to reach out to a few folks over the next couple of weeks. Be sure that if you do that you ask open-ended questions too. Sometimes people will hit you with the yes and no and true interaction is engaging. Also keep in mind some people are private. Make sure the conversation and space is safe for them to open up and speak. Don’t judge what they have to say. Just be sure that you are truly inviting and be there. Some people don’t want a fix they just need to vent. I want to be able to look back and know that I attempted to be there for my friends and loved ones and I encourage you to do the same!!

Sunday Message: Being Aware

One of the biggest things that we don’t always do is make ourselves aware of ourselves. This week I was super agitated. It wasn’t anything that anyone had done. I had to find a balance between the news and all of the events surrounding myself.  It was hard to balance. I found myself semi-triggered at times. Thinking to myself how hard it was to not be upset because whatever was going on around me was triggered.

I had to remove myself from conversations with certain people this week. I had to walk away and say I can’t do anymore than I am doing. As someone who is an ultimate care giver, I find myself in that mode all the time.  My kids can be at school all day and I am still over thinking about what has to be done as soon as I get home. It’s a part of my personality honestly to be on top of it all.  With wanting to stay up to date with current events especially with the elections around the corner, researching candidates so I can make an informed decision, self-care, eating right, working out, and training for this half marathon has been mentally draining. I swear my wrist got tired just typing all of that. Nonetheless taking a moment when I took a step back to see when I was breathing heavier trying to prevent myself from reacting, or watching my kids laugh instead of just walking around like a stress bomb made me take more account of myself.

close up photo of a woman listening to music

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What do I need? It’s always okay to step out and grab what you need in the moments but we pretend that we have to have it altogether and we don’t. Being aware of my husband and the things he is processing is a learned skill. To know when he needs me to just let him talk so he can vent and I just listen has been a task this week.  It is hard because we all have stuff pulling on us.  Being aware when my kids just want more hugs instead of me so excited for their bedtime so I can decompress.  It was a challenge this week. It wasn’t this natural happy flow. I had to work at it. I had to step back and make myself be in the moments.

What are you needing to be aware?  What can being aware help you accomplish?  You will be surprised of the inspiration that comes from it. You will be more zen to handle your life instead of your life handling you. Take a moment and be in the moments of life. Don’t let time slip by and you don’t even know how you got there!

My Go To’s of Social Media

So you know that social media can be a blessing and a curse. If you are on it to compare your life you will immediately fall into a state of depression and that is something you do not want to do.  You really need to find your daily passions and inspiration. Since making dramatic changes in my life I find that I attract myself to those who are like-minded.  It is also allowing me to naturally cut off those who don’t fit that lifestyle.
Inspiration is all around us. It could be with a conversation as you are passing by. It could be in nature.  I don’t know how many times I have seen something go down and got completely inspired by a bird.  It’s true. You can be inspired by social media and a post. The post I love is anything where flaws are exposed but hope abounds. People are looking for hope because all around them they might be surrounded by hopeless people or even hopeless thoughts. This world is super shiny and pretty all the time but it can shed a little light to add some light to a dark soul. In reality that is what we are supposed to be.  When people see you, they should see light. It doesn’t mean they need to see perfection.  They need to see your try. They need to know they can quit a job that wasn’t serving them and go on to bigger and better. They need to see someone leaving a raggedy marriage and not settle and even if another relationship isn’t around the corner they still know they will be fine. They need to see that parenting is super hard and trying, but with grace they can make it.

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As a blogger I of course love social media because it allows me to put my blogs out, connect with others, and really see people doing their thing as they see me doing the same. You can have people or things that you like or that inspire you.   I have a little small listing of the things that inspire me.  From home improvements, to celebrations for my kids, anything self-care, and of course people who are doing their thing, failing I said that correctly, dusting themselves off and pushing through. Everything we see on social media has a back story to it.  With that being said I will give you 4 women I find inspiring and tell you why!

Amanda Seales

One because she “be knowing.” If you follow her I don’t even have to explain it.  She is a champion for the culture and she is about as real as it gets.  She rarely sugar coats things and you know that’s how I live my life. I love her ability to be herself and she doesn’t appear to care if you or me like her or not.  She is a jewel.  I love her happiness.   I love her passions. I love that Amanda is always pushing for people to take accountability. I hope that accountability doesn’t become a lost art.  We really need it.  She makes me check myself on all levels but especially where politics and culture is concerned. Like a mirror that constantly asks that nagging why.  Although she is not nagging she will make you think and correct yourself quick.  Amanda is like my big sis or that bomb friend who serves it straight but also is someone who can relate to you without judging everything you do. And she plays Tiffany on HBO’s Insecure.  I love her character. That losing your friends with motherhood episode was real! Amanda been in the game a long time. Check her credentials.  She really is about this life and about the culture.  She is the culture! Check out her podcasts, Small Doses and then follow her on social media you won’t be disappointed. Also if you are on Instagram and you follow her, always and I mean always catch her Instastories daily, Amanda Seales

Randi Rossario

She is the owner of the internet radio show, “Oh So Radio.” She has alot of things on her plate you really should check her out! She is super dope and I found her one day at work on break with her “Good Day” inspirational moments. You might have seen her recently on the Shaderoom’s post about her helping a couple who’s wedding was semi ruined due to their child nearly drowning at a pool party.  Well above her ability to help those in need, her “Good Day” inspirations really moves me. Now let me warn a few stuffy folks, this ain’t your momma’s inspirational moment but when I say no lies are ever detected, I mean it. She is super straight. You might not even want to accept the way she speaks but you can’t deny the truth that is coming out.  She is the real deal.  I try not to hit the “Good Day” moments every morning because when I do hit she always has the exact word for what I am dealing with.  She speaks on owning your stuff and stop allowing others control over what you do.  So if you are someone who lacks the ability to move forward, hit her Instagram.  You will get the good kick in the ass that you didn’t even know you need it.  But TRUST me you needed it!

Heather Lindsey

So I had to take a little break from Heather for a few months. It wasn’t anything personal but I just take a break from social media folks quite often.  Not only do I attempt to take breaks from it altogether during moments of life, I do encourage others to do the same. Heather Lindsey is a Christian who is also the wife of Cornelius Lindsey pastor of The Gathering Oasis church in Atlanta GA and a mother of 3.  I was directed by a friend to follow her. I went scrolling along to hear what she had to say.  She seems like a genuinely down to earth person who for one will let you know she loves the Lord, she loves her family, and she loves life. I love the way she takes care of herself. That is what caught my eye.  Now I know it would be a thing to say why in the world would you be worried about what she is wearing. It was more than her outfit choices although let’s be clear they are super dope. I followed her at a time when I was struggling from looking like a whole mess calling myself a wife and mother.  Now there’s nothing wrong with struggling but apart of my struggle was saying how I wanted to get me together and yet I did nothing to achieve that goal.  She was so well put together that she challenged me to have balance.  I needed that. I still push for that.  Balance is more attractive than how much the pieces you have on cost.  So for that, she inspires me get it together. I am sure she like we all do have super stressful days.  But she travels by herself at times, travels with her husband, dates him often on date days and date nights, goes on girls trips, baecations, and runs a whole business with the Pinky Promise.  That’s the type of balance that is encouraging to women no matter your background.  Check out Heather Lindsey

I know a lot of folks that are in the church struggle with the ability of loving the Lord and still looking like the promises God said was for you.  I grew up in a church where most folks was looking wayward.  I know that can’t be the promise that God gave to the world.  How can we reach folks looking like “Le’ Struggle” everyday.  I mean everyday maybe, but not everyday.

Jenell B Stewart

She is like the all around mommy mogul.  I know we give credit to all of the other mommy moguls who seem to have like millions of followers but this queen is one to be on the look out for. First of all as an African-American woman it’s always to see chocolate loves that mirror me or my kids.  She is a lifestyle blogger, a mom, she has a podcasts, teaches lessons on things from growing social media, to balancing life.  I love and stay glued to her InstaStories.  She is just a mom who tries to have it all and do it all.  You know that is possible, right?  Yes.  I found her quite a little while ago and she had me hooked from the first video.  A few key reasons why I follow her, her page is eye-catching.  Please check out her website

It is like everything you need in one strong dose.  Her Instagram is relatable.  With me changing my lifestyle to be healthier a lot of the products that she uses or endorses I have tried and loved.  Andddddd I don’t know how much her whole family is into the healthier lifestyle but mine are taking way smaller doses than I would like.  I like that I can be encouraged that if I alone stick to this lifestyle I at least have someone who is doing it with me in my head!!

Now with these super beautiful women in their own right, I do not even have the slightest energy to be them.  For one like Heather always says, their portion is for them and mine is for me. I do not know what they did to acquire the lifestyle that they have.  However what I will say is that with my portion, I am finding that I am able to do what I need to do for me and be inspired to be the best version of myself because I am just as dope as these women.  However we all need a little nudge in a few departments.  So whether that’s in how you press on, how you take in the culture around you, to be being balanced or living healthy, choose wisely who you link your aspirations too.  They speak volumes of who you are in real life. Check out these beauties and I am sure you will snag a jewel or two from them.  My hope is since Heather has the Pinky Conference is to get to one if not this year, at least next year.  In my head, I am going to meet Amanda.  I hope to keep being inspired by Jenell and Randi and maybe one day meet them as well.