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Adoption: The Gift That Keeps Giving

As a self-proclaimed (and friend-agreed) crazy cat lady, I honestly didn’t think I’d adopt an animal until I was in the “adult” stage of life – aka. I’d own a home, be married and maybe have a kid or two.

Basically, I figured I needed to have my life in order and settled before I even thought about bringing in another living thing. I took the old cliche “You can’t love somebody else until you learn to love yourself” to heart. How could I provide the love and attention an animal needed when I couldn’t even figure out what I needed in life?

But if I’m being honest (and for better or for worse, I always am on Live Inspired) then I must admit that things didn’t work out that way – four years ago today, I adopted an abandoned cat named Twiggy through a rescue website.

When I adopted her, I was living and working in the tiniest little one-bedroom apartment, eating ramen noodles and working a job that I enjoyed but didn’t afford me many luxuries. I was happy but I wasn’t “settled” in any way, shape or form. In fact, I was lonely most of the time and I wasn’t sure where I’d end up a year or two down the road.

That’s why when I was performing my nightly post-work ritual of perusing adoption websites, I was only partially serious about finding a furever buddy. Well, I was only partially serious until I saw Twiggy’s page.

I’m still unsure as to why I inquired about her instead of the other hundreds of cats I looked at over the past 6-12 months but I did. I knew that I needed to have this “talkative” black cat in my life.

After three phone interviews, a visit to her foster home, a few panic attacks and some ugly-cries later, I fell in love with that little furball.

Being a kitty mom wasn’t easy, especially as I was scraping by on my bills. She has special dietary needs and her food cost about $40-70 per bag. She meowed so loud every night and she woke me up almost every morning. She kicks her litter everywhere and she throws up hairballs more often than I’d like.

But those little “negatives” don’t matter at all when I think about the joy she brings myself, my family and my friends. She always seems to find my lap when I’m stressed out or crying. She’s been by my side through breakups, lay offs and cross-state moves. She poses for numerous (… hundreds?) of photos and even looks cute as Snapchat Disney princesses.

Simply said – I’m not sure who saved who.

Adopting an animal in need has changed my life in the most incredible of ways. If you’re considering adding a pet to your life or to your household, please please pleaaaaaase consider adoption.

According to ASPCA:

  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
  • Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.
  • Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.
    If you can emotionally and financially afford to give a home to an animal in need, please do. There are so many animals in desperate need of love and if you can provide a caring home, they’ll change your life.
      For Twiggy’s 5th birthday, do us both a favor and start your research here:

The Humane Society
ASPCA

 

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2016 – The Year of Choices

Fact: I’ve never been one to identify and/or keep new year resolutions.

It’s not that I think they’re a bad idea. Not at all.
Honestly, I’ve tried numerous times to figure out the right resolution but it just doesn’t work out for me.

See, the thing is that, after 29 years of being on this Earth, I know myself and I know that I’m going to feel too much pressure to identify the ‘right’ goal, I’m going to stress about sticking to it and it’s going to consume my every thought.

That’s why this year, I didn’t really even go down the path of setting a resolution for myself; however, I found myself setting one. Yep, you read that correctly.

On my way into work about 3 weeks ago, I was letting my mind wander and I realized that this year, I wanted to accomplish a lot – I wanted to be happier, I wanted to be healthier, I wanted to rekindle the love I have for writing.

After figuring out those broad goals for the year, my brain naturally wanted to put numbers behind these goals – volunteer once a week, lose 20 lbs, write twice a week.

But minutes after identifying these numerical ways of tracking my “success or failure,” I stopped myself.

In those few moments, I realized that this idea of “success and failure” is what has stopped me from making (or keeping) resolutions in the past.

For the sake of this blog post, let’s discuss the typical “lose 20 lbs” goal – If I told myself that I wanted to lose 20 lbs then I’d let that idea dictate my every move. If I was craving a burger and fries, I’d pass on going out to lunch with coworkers because of the temptation. If I was out for date night with my boyfriend and he suggested dessert, I’d think to myself, “That’s going to add unnecessary calories.”

In my eyes, these little setbacks would be considered failures. but that’s not what new years resolutions are about.

I don’t want to feel bad about sharing a slice of cake with my boyfriend or pass on lunch because I feel like a burger instead of a salad.

That’s not how I want to spend my days. 

Aren’t resolutions about making conscious efforts to improve your life? If that’s the case (and I do believe it is) then I wasn’t going to let myself fail in these ways. I refuse to punish myself and get down on myself if I have a slice of cake, if I have a busy week and I can’t volunteer, or if I just have writers block.

I was setting myself up to fail before I really gave myself a chance to lose weight, be happier, whatever.

That’s why this year, I decided my resolution is simply to “make better choices.”

If I’m out at the bar but had a big lunch, I’ll have water (orrrrrr vodka with soda water) or if I’ve lost touch with a friend, I’ll make the choice to reach out. I won’t let what I do or don’t do reflect upon my overall goal of improving my way of life.

I’m going to focus on little acts every day to better myself in the long haul and not get down on myself or give up on the resolution if I slip up.

For me, it’s all about using little actions, every day, to better myself as a person and with this mentality, I can’t fail.

If you haven’t yet set a resolution, if you’re looking to add something new to your list, or if you find that the numeric goal isn’t working for you, don’t give up. Shift your way of thinking and try this yourself.

I’ve been actively making better decisions for the last 3 weeks and I’ve already noticed a difference❤

Permission – Not Needed.

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One of the biggest realizations I’ve had during my adult life is recognizing that if I want to do something… I can do it.

Of course, there are certain things that one cannot do based on laws, morals, and whatnot; however, I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of us are standup citizens therefore the things we want to accomplish don’t have these restrictions😉

But I digress.

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have noticed that I recently made the announcement to expand my blog to cover various lifestyle topics. If you don’t follow my Facebook page… rude… but just look above and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I really debated on this expansion for quite a while and you know why? It’s silly when I type it out but I debated merely because I didn’t have experience in writing about fashion, book reviews, whatever.

I told you it was silly – I debated on following a passion of mine simply because I didn’t have experience in it.

It reminds me of when I tried to find work as a server at a restaurant about 10 years ago and they told me they wouldn’t hire someone without restaurant experience.

How in the world did they expect you to get experience if every single place wanted experience before they hired you?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was tossing and turning over the idea of this expansion and I thought and I thought and I thought until the realization hit me like a ton of bricks – The realization that if I wanted to do it, I could just do it. 

It was as simple as that.

Nobody needed to give me permission to do something that I have the drive and passion to do. Nobody said I needed to have extensive experience in writing on certain topics before I could even think about blogging about them.

Nobody said that I couldn’t do something simply because that’s not the way it was done in the past.

It reminds me of this quote that’s used a lot in business, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way,” and how insanely true.

If we all lived our lives believing that new ideas are to be avoided and perhaps even feared, we would never have the pleasure of seeing anything innovative, breathtaking, or exciting happen.

Some of the best things in life were made by those who believed they could… and then they did it. They didn’t wait for someone else to make history. They didn’t ask permission or others what they thought of their kooky (yet brilliant) ideas. They just did it.

And that’s the crazy thing – You can too.

We don’t need to just read about these visionaries in biographies and documentaries. These visionaries can be us –  We just need to allow ourselves to break outside of the box and just go for it.

Stop waiting for someone else to come up with big ideas.
You don’t need to change the world, you just need to change your life.

I’m about to hit you with another cliche (cue the eye roll) but you’re the one who is in charge of your future.

Nobody else.

Take risks and make the changes that will make you happy.

If you want to start a blog, do it.
If you want to go to culinary school, do it.
If you want to write a book, do it.
If you want to do something (within reason, obvi) then do it.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs to give you permission.
Follow your heart and your happiness will follow.

Don’t Quiet That Little Voice

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Sooo… Remember about 6 months ago when I published my most popular post, “What Do You Do When Your Dream Job Doesn’t Turn Out to Be Your Dream?

You know the one – My entire life, I dreamed about being an Advertising Rockstar but once it happened, I realized it wasn’t for me. I felt lost, confused, stressed, and as if I was someone I didn’t like anymore. It was dumb. Okay, it was more than dumb. It was horrible.

Approximately 3 days after I published that post, I accepted a job at another advertising agency.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Once I left my old job, I took about a week off to decompress and then I began doing the unemployment dance. 7 applications to the left, shuffle, ball change, and 3 grad school applications to the right.

One, just one, of these applications was for an ad agency (my current place of employment) while all of the other applications were in different fields. I’m not sure why I applied but perhaps it was because advertising is what I know, it’s what i’m good at, and it’s how I’ve spent most of my adulthood. Regardless, I interviewed and ultimately, I accepted it.

To be totally honest with you, I was unsure of whether or not I should take it, considering I just made a big show of getting out of the industry. I thought about what others would think about my choices and my credibility.

I went back and forth with my decision until I decided to go for it. I can’t explain why other than the fact that it felt like something I wanted to explore further. This position was different than my previous one in the industry, it gave me more creative freedom, and it was intriguing. Plus, I knew that no decision is ever final.

Despite everything I felt merely days earlier, I followed this deep little feeling inside that said, “Try it” so you know what? I did.

And this decision turned out to be a powerful one.

It has been 6 months in this position now and I haven’t looked back.

That little voice inside of me, the very same one that many of us hush up, lead me to accept a job that has taught me so much. Because of that voice, I’ve met coworkers who have become wonderful friends and I’ve stretched my mind and my boundaries far beyond places they’ve been before.

I get such a thrill helping clients utilize “unimportant” social platforms in a way that shows them how these same platforms assist them in reaching their business objectives. I get to show them how to bring a social personality to their messages. How to find their strengths and showcase them in a way that their target audience understands. And that’s just the beginning.
(Don’t worry, I’m going to save you from more digital marketing jargon)

I followed a feeling that I had, despite all of the logic that I had grounded myself in, and I showed myself that the past doesn’t have to repeat itself. 

What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t shut up that little voice and it has made all the difference.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that sometimes, denying yourself opportunities based off of assumptions isn’t what’s best for you. Sometimes you need to go all in, just once more, to see what happens.

To my surprise, my happiness wasn’t found on a completely different path, like I thought it would’ve been. I followed my heart and I found that I just had to veer a bit from the path I was on.

Life isn’t always easy and sometimes things don’t go the way you expect but you have to rely on your instincts. If there’s one little piece of you that’s telling you to try, then you owe it to yourself to try. It doesn’t matter what others think, what you think could happen, etc.

If you want to try, then try. 

Fortune favors the brave so stop playing it safe, stop denying yourself opportunities because of what could happen, stop hushing that voice inside of your head that’s telling you to try once more.

Summer Fashion: The Headband

Vintage Scarf

Summertime is quickly approaching and with the impending heat and humidity, I need to make sure I’m prepared. Sundresses, flip flops, and… headbands?

Oh yeah.
Headbands.

Headbands are making a comeback and I, for one, wonder why it has taken so long? They’re perfect for keeping long/thick hair off of your neck and when done right, they can be a stylish accessory.

Believe it or not, even the big fashion names are jumping on the headband train
(Side note: I definitely wish that was an actual train…).

For example, Marie Claire and Vogue have rounded up some of the best looks straight off of the runway:

Marie Claire: Chanel Headband06-beauty-lessons-nyfw-rtw-fall-2015-proenza-schouler-headband“The look dominating the runways is mussed-up, tied back, and most importantly, topped off with a headband… and why not? It’s a no-fuss statement piece that’s sleek, polished, accentuates the face, and could potentially cut your getting-ready time in half.”

 

 

“The downtown headband is back. Wake up late, pull it low over your forehead à la Proenza Schouler, and consider yourself ready for the office, gallery hopping, or the beach.”

 

 

 

 

While this is the hot catwalk trend, I’m not sure it’s for me.  I know I need to believe in myself but I have a hard time believing that I could pull off the black, leather headband style; therefore, I won’t. Simple enough, eh?
If you’re like me, you may be looking for other ways to pull off a headband this summer:

You could go the delicate route, like Kerry Washington 
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You could channel your inner Bohemian Goddess and snag a floral headband

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Or even get a little quirky with a statement piece

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Want to try the vintage look that I’m rocking in the photo above? It’s easy!

Step 1: Section off, poof, and pin the front portion of your hair down with a few bobby pins
For my hair, I needed two bobby pins.

Step 2: Pull the rest of your hair into a high, tight pony tail.
Pin any loose pieces down with bobby pins.

Step 3: Place your scarf or your headband behind your poof (on top of the bobby pins) but in front of your ponytail.

Step 4Begin wrapping!
I wrapped my scarf around twice and when the ends met, I tied them together once and tucked them underneath the scarf, to create a unique look.

Step 5: Pin it down like nobody’s business.
I absolutely hate being out and feeling my headband/scarf begin to unravel; therefore, I use approximately 282,022 bobby pins to make sure it’s secure. When you think you’ve got it pinned in place, do a few jumps to see if it’s secure.

Step 6: Flaunt it! You look hot.

Thinking of rocking the headband look this summer? Show me a picture or tell me about it in the comments below!

Summer Fashion: Casual Flats

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In Michigan, we’ve been dealing with 60-70 degree weather these last few weeks and as the weather gets warmer, more skin starts showing.

And by that, I mean foot skin.
Hmmm… That didn’t come out quite right, did it?

*Cough cough*

Anyway, it’s the time of year where we’re between boots and flip flops and there truly is no better item to have than a pair (or seventeen) of casual flats.

I know this is cliche to say but I really do prefer shoes that can go from daytime to nighttime. The best pairs are those that are dressy enough to work in the office but trendy enough to wear to a Happy Hour.

The look I love for this summer can be summed up in one word – Metallic.

The shoes in the above photo are by Report and these have been my go-to due because of a few reasons:

1.) The boho chic woven style makes them unique
2.) I love the mix of silver and nude

By adding a pop of metallic into a nude shoe, you can mix and match your jewelry. I tend to wear this flat with both silver and rose gold jewelry.

Not quite your style? No problem!

Recently, Elle.com published “25 Summer Flats to Wear to Work,” which highlights a plethora of different looks, including –

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This gold slingback flat by Zara. Personally, I haven’t seen many slingback flat styles like this.

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This snazzy silver metallic flat from Tory Burch. The pointy toe + straps + cut outs make this flat super chic.

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If you’re not sure about the all over metallic look, try out a shoe with a metallic touch. This flat by Tom Ford has just a hint of sparkle to it.

Regardless of style or color, my tip would be to make sure you can wear whatever shoes you buy with multiple outfits. Your money goes a long way when you can mix and match!

I’m interested – What shoe will you be wearing this summer?
Comment below!

What Do You Do When Your Dream Job Doesn’t Turn Out To Be Your Dream?

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Back in Elementary school when I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I didn’t think about becoming a veterinarian or an astronaut like most of my friends.

No, my dreams weren’t very… hmmm… normal for a 10 year-old child.

So, what did I dream of? Well, I dreamed of being in advertising.

At my young age, I wasn’t sure exactly what that business entailed but I knew enough. I knew that I wanted to sell Barbie Dolls on billboards and when television commercials aired, I’d think of different ways to sell the products that were being marketed towards my family and I.

I distinctly remember the scene I’d loop on repeat in my head — I pictured myself in a burgundy pantsuit strolling down the streets of New York City, swinging a briefcase, and heading up to my cubicle in a sky rise office building.

As I grew up, the goal of becoming an Advertising Rockstar never changed.

I declared my major as soon as I entered college and I silently pitied those who were “undecided.”

There was never any doubt in my mind during those four years as an Undergraduate that I wasn’t on the right path.

I didn’t immediately find a job in the field post-graduation but rather, it was about a year after that I started meddling in social media professionally. I was working for a small clothing boutique in Nashville and the owner had asked if I could help them out with their social channels.

That experience was the first time that I was truly able to put my education to use in the “Real World” and needless to say, this experience hooked me. I loved being able to take what was going on at the stores and effectively communicate it out to the community using social platforms in a creative yet business savvy way.

I took the excitement I felt and I ran with it far beyond my time in Nashville.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself at one of the most prestigious advertising agencies in the world. It was everything that 10 year-old me dreamed of.

I worked long days that began with copious amounts of black coffee and ended late at night, on my couch with my work laptop. I dreamed about hashtags more times than I’d care to admit and during the morning commute, I’d wrack my brain trying to concoct the best way to achieve my client’s goals despite the Facebook algorithm.

I worked with some amazing clients, I went to some great agency shindigs, and my coworkers truly felt like family. Now, this may have been because we saw each other more than we saw our own family and friends but in that moment, I didn’t care. These people understood me and the challenges I faced day in and day out.

It was about one year into being in the fast paced, high-stress agency life that I began to fall apart.

I began having nightmares about missing important calls from my boss and I had permanent bags under my eyes. I would lose patience and snap at my friends and family over nothing. I didn’t care about the things that once made me happy, such as writing, but rather I found myself watching mindless tv during the free moments I had.

All of this was tolerable until a few weeks ago when I awoke at 3am from a vivid nightmare about a project I was working on. It was so intense and it shook me up so badly that I had sweat through my clothing.

I couldn’t get that night out of my mind and I began realizing that the prestige, the salary, and the experience wasn’t worth it to me anymore.

This left me feeling guilty and confused.

This career was everything I wanted and dreamed about my entire life. Most people in the business would do terrible things to have the opportunity to work where I did and on the accounts that I managed.

I spent days trying to discover why I was so miserable — The agency, the account, the brands, the coworkers, etc.

I looked for any and all reasons as to why I was unhappy because the realreason for how I felt seemed unfathomable: I just didn’t like advertising anymore.

I realized that I didn’t like what I was doing every day and I didn’t like what my boss was doing every day. For me, the endgame wasn’t something I felt passionate about and it’s hard to give a career your everything when you lack a yearning to move up in the business.

While this career choice seemed like a “dream” to me for over half of my life, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something better for me out there.

The problem is that, I didn’t know what that “something” was.
This is all I’ve ever wanted and there was never a Plan B, C, or D in my mind.

So, what do you do when your dream job doesn’t turn out to be your dream?

Well, I’ll tell you what I did and for a few very obvious reasons, this plan isn’t for everyone — I quit and I quit without another job lined up.

I knew that my happiness and my mental health were worth more than the paycheck I was receiving.

I knew I needed to get back to living a life I enjoyed, not one consumed with newsfeeds and hashtags.

Once I understood that leaving my “dream” would allow me to find my real dream, I took the giant, scary step towards living a life I could love, not one that was tolerable.

I don’t have all of the answers yet and to be honest with you, I’m terrifiedmore often than not when I think about the fact that I’m unemployed and mostly direction-less at 28 years old.

But at the end of the day, I truly believe that having the courage to say, “This isn’t the life I want to live” is more important than settling for an impressive job title and a big paycheck.

It’s up to us to fill our days with joy, happiness, and satisfaction. Sure, every day won’t be easy nor will it be enjoyable but it’s up to us to ensure we’re tipping the scale in favor of getting us to a life we love.

Walking down this foggy path towards happiness won’t be easy but I have to believe it’s worth it.

Read the follow up blog post