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In Lifestyle on
August 31, 2017

Inspirational Quotes To Keep You Hopeful


I love writing inspirational posts.  I feel like they really come from the heart and I get to share a little bit of myself with all of you.   Sometimes there are words that stay with you and you reflect back on them in times of need.  These are quotes are just a few of my very favorite that always remind me of my purpose and keep me moving forward.


“A ship in harbor is safe but that’s not what ships are built for.”

I put this quote first because it has been a top player in my life since my sophomore year of college.  It always reminds me to take chances and not be afraid.  It reminds me to walk in my purpose and to not fear that which is what I was built for.  I can play it safe and be safe in that or I can go out and do all of the things that I was meant to do.


“It’s never too late to become who you might have been.”

I have had a lot of set backs in my life.  Most of them are my own fault for being afraid and for not being aggressive in the who I wanted to become, for floating and not paddling, but this quote reminds me that it’s not too late. That as long as I have a new day, I have new opportunity to do all of the things I have dreamed of.


“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”

This bible verse is a favorite of mine.  It is a comfort to me when I’m feeling lost and afraid.  It tells me that there is no reason to be afraid because I have been redeemed.


“‘What if I fall?’ ‘…but oh my darling, what if you fly?'”

I know it’s probably an overdone quote but man, how I love it.  I reminds me of an old classic tale full of hope and promise.  Every time I think of failing, I whisper to myself “what if you fly?” and then I make sure to work hard enough to do just that!


“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

Of course one Doctor Who quote was obligatory.  I am a hardcore Whovian and there is so much truth in this statement.  Once we’re long gone, all that’s left us is the stories that are passed down.  Let’s leave a legacy. Let’s hand down remnants of greatness!


What are some your most favorite inspirational quotes?  How have they helped you to get through a tough time?




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In Lifestyle, Travel on
August 21, 2017

The Best Methods for Learning French (or any new language)

learning french

I have been learning French for like 100 years.  I started learning French when I was 13 and studied it for like 6 years straight but when you’re that young sometimes you don’t take things as seriously as you should and I don’t think I realized just how much my love for the language would stay with me.  So I stopped studying it after college and when you don’t submerge yourself in a language, you start to lose it.  So last year I went to Paris and it was the most beautiful life-changing experience …and I never wished more that my French was better than it was.  I got by.  I can read it really pretty well but to speak it is still quite rough.  I have the memory of a goldfish so vocabulary goes in one ear and out the other.  Since returning I have vowed that I will speak this language fluently and emerge myself in it in every way I can.



Podcasts are awesome for learning French.  Hearing a language is a really big part of being able to speak it and so hearing native speakers speak and having them teach non-school versions of French is super helpful!  My favorite French podcasts are:

French Your Way Podcast: Learn French with Jessica –  Jessica is so cute!  She’s funny and informative and I love listening to her not only speak French but speak English in her accent.  Jessica’s French lessons are really relatable and she’s really awesome at helping with all those little things we get stuck on as English speakers. She has a really informative website too.

Coffee Break French –  I usually have no idea what’s going on in this podcast, lol, but its very helpful in hearing French and pulling out words and training your ear.  They go through news stories and other stuff I can’t fully understand 🙂

Real Deal French – I like this podcast because it gives lessons at all different levels. They bring in real life scenarios to help you to relate and it’s awesome for the very beginner all the way to the more advanced French speaker.



Duolingo – Duolingo is set up like a series of games that you play and your basically being taught French and then tested on it.  As you pass levels you move up in difficulty.  I love this app because it really touches on all different parts of speech and French grammar which is really important to get down so you don’t sound crazy with wrong verb tenses and adjectives that don’t agree.  They also have a whole bunch of languages so if French isn’t your thing, pick your fav!

Learn French in 24 Hours –  This isn’t a very comprehensive app but I like to put it on just to hear vocabulary works repeated again and again to help drill them into my memory (because Mom brain!).

Rosetta Stone – You can’t talk apps and leave out the big guns. I don’t currently have this app activated on my phone but I do have the older downloadable version on my computer.  I haven’t delved into it as deeply as I should because it is repetitive and I get distracted easily but now they have a new app that you can listen to on the go which is pretty awesome.  It is mildly expensive though but the good thing is they now offer monthly subscriptions and you don’t have to pay all at once!



This is actually new for me.  I know the only way I’ll learn is to immerse myself in the language.  When I was in college I was a communicative disorders minor for awhile so I took a year of ASL and had to go to many silent dinners.  I learned SO MUCH just having to use the language constantly and not having the option to speak.  The same applies to French so I recently joined a meetup group for people who get together for the purpose of using the language and learning it better.  I haven’t been to my first meetup yet and I’m scared!! Lol.  But I know it will be an amazing experience!



Have you learned a second (or third) language?  Comment down below and tell me what some of your favorite techniques were to becoming multi-lingual!!

À bientôt!

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In Lifestyle on
August 14, 2017

Weight, Let’s Talk about This: Getting Healthy


Since my teens, I have had a back and forth battle with my weight. I lose, I gain. I gain, I lose. It’s always been my story. I’m also short. Short stature, short torso, short arms and legs.  I guess I’d be a liar if I wasn’t honest enough with you to say that there are days that it shakes my confidence a bit but now that I am in my 30s …like really in my 30s… I have really been taking a stance of learning to love and embrace so much about who I am as a person.  I’ve discovered myself and work each day on self-exploration and deeper self-love and if I can start to enjoy the inside of me so much then the outside needs to be part of that package!

In really delving into this self love, I have also had to realize that a lot of my habits are unhealthy.  Some that have led to the weight gain and some that have just led to issues with my health.  So with 35 around the corner,  I decided that it was time to take my health a lot more seriously.  I have started working with a wonderful health coach/personal trainer, Vanessa from VFitBoston and she has been amazing helping me to really get my eating habits in track the last couple of weeks.  EVERY SINGLE DAY is a struggle but it gets a little easier as time goes on.  I am a hardcore foodie.  Went to culinary school and everything.  So limiting the foods I eat is very hard for me.  Working with Vanessa has made it much easier for me to stay focused.

If I had to give some tips and tricks that have helped me to stay on track this is what I would say:

Positive self-talk

It sounds crazy but it really makes a difference.  Praise your self for the good choices you have made instead of putting yourself down for the bad ones.  Yes try to stick to good habits but don’t beat yourself up for little slip ups.  I lost quite a bit of weight a few years back and so I beat myself up over falling off the wagon when I could be at my goal but instead of focusing on that I try to focus on the fact that I’m making changes now and I’m on the right track NOW

Know your weaknesses and ask for help

I finally came to the realization that weight loss and healthy eating was just not something I could do on my own or even with online help.  I need an accountability partner. So it helped to have a coach that I could see in person and who is a real person to me who is on my side.  As much as we may like to everything on our own, we can’t always and knowing when to seek out help makes you stronger in your endeavors

Track your Actions

Write down the things you’ve done, the food you ate, the workouts you’ve completed.  Keep track of your accomplishments.  Not only will it help keep you accountable, it will be a journal of successes for you to look back on when you are having a day when it just gets too hard or you fail like you’re not succeeding in the way you would like.

Are you on a mission to get healthy?  What are some of your ways to stay on track?



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In Business & Blogging, Lifestyle on
August 4, 2017

Mid-Thirty Mediocrity: Struggling with Purpose


I think about my life’s purpose pretty regularly and how it correlates to who I am as a person.  The 10th anniversary of my 25th birthday is this month and if I’m being honest, I love being in my thirties.  I have a better sense of self,  I understand more of what is important to me and I take a lot less shit.  Don’t get me wrong, I still take a lot of shit. I have a tendency to be very passive but I am getting better at it.  I have really started to understand myself better, my flaws, my strengths, my creative ability.  In this self discovery, I have found that I have a real problem with mediocrity.  I have also found that I tend to dwell in mediocrity far too much.

Mediocrity means something totally different to every single person.  We all thrive for different things, have different goals, and different definitions of winning.  I have always been a free spirit.  Very interested in seeing and learning all of the things the world has to offer.  I’ve always believed God made a beautiful world and I have short time here to take in as much of it as possible and give as much back to it as possible …but right as I was entering my twenties, I stumbled.  Fear found me and I started diminishing my abilities to not have to face fear head on.  Fear of not being good enough, fear of being alone, fear of failure.  I let that fear hold me back for way too long.  It wasn’t until the end of 2016, almost 15 years later, that I stepped outside of it and saw the beauty in not being afraid.  I took a beautiful trip to Paris, I left my toxic job, I cut off all of my hair.  I started businesses that made me feel like me.


Yet still I feel stuck in mediocrity.  You see the problem is I became so weighed down by all the things that built up while I was being afraid.  The clear road I had at 20-something is not the clear road I have in my 30s.  It’s all very overwhelming to dig back out from underneath.  I watch women I love like Issa Rae and Yagazie Emezi and Zim Ugochukwu being great in their careers and their businesses. Creative entrepreneurs pushing forward and changing rules and views and I think, this is my tribe.  These women are everything I feel in my heart I should be in my own right.  So everyday I sit uncomfortable in my situation and come up with new ways to get out of it and move forward and travel upward.  I’m so late and so behind and it’s tough to work at becoming what you should have always been but there is a tugging in my soul to tell me to take the next step and move outside of fear.

Sometimes it’s lonely AF.

But I cannot imagine living with this personal feeling of mediocrity, not exploring the depths to which my soul and heart drive me.  It is such a weight on my being to wake up every morning and not be living who I am.  I’m not entirely sure where this feeling is supposed to bring me in God’s purpose for me but I am 100% sure it is taking me somewhere …somewhere amazing.  The Incredible Jessica James says, “I’m a unicorn.” and it’s how I feel in my heart like I’m supposed to be on a crazy magical adventure of getting everything the world has to offer and giving back everything I can.


Do you ever feel like there is something more you’re meant to do?  What are some things that make you feel powerful and purposeful?




In Business & Blogging, Lifestyle on
July 31, 2017

Things to do before 9am for a successful day

Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to take an intensive course with Heidi Hope of Heidi Hope Photography and besides all of the wonderful photography related information, I was given, I was also given a lot of wonderful advice.  One bit of advice that was given was from a book by —- called —-.  In the book, — speaks about the importance of your morning routine.  Did you know that 95% of people fail in anything 0_0.  Only 5% succeed and the people who are the most successful have some kind of morning routine.  Well I refuse to fail.  I tell myself every morning “5%” to keep me motivated.  To help in this,  I have adopted a morning routine of my own.  There are some specific things that you should incorporate into your morning routine to help your day flow.  So tomorrow morning, get up at least 30 minutes early and do the following:


Have a Healthy Breakfast

We have all heard it.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This is the meal that gives us the nutrients and energy we need to get us through the day.  It also helps us to focus. Nothing like working hungry all day and waiting until lunch.  Who can put their all into work when their mind is on food?  I can’t.  I get hangry very easily and no one wants to deal with that beast.

Quiet Time

This is my favorite part of the routine.  Grab your cup of coffee and read for a few minutes, take some time to meditate, or free write.  Just get your mood ready for the day.  No social media. Don’t overstimulate your brain.  Visualize what your day is going to be like. Plan for positivity.  If you’re a creative, this time will give your brain the chance to let go and make room for creativity.


My life struggle!! But working out in the morning really sets a tone for your day.  You will feel refreshed and accomplished and ready to take on what the day brings.

Make Your To Do List

This is the best time to fully plan out your day.  Put the hardest things at the top of your list and work your way done to the easiest. I know I love nothing better then to see things on my to do list crossed or checked off.  It’s really fulfilling and having a daily to do list is a great way to keep your day in order and productive.


Do you find that waking up early and getting a good start to your day makes a difference?  What are some of your morning practices?

successful day - david mao

In Business & Blogging, Lifestyle on
July 14, 2017

Starting a Blog: An Empathy Post

I started a blog.  Actually I started my fifth blog.  I have been giving this blogging thing a go many times throughout out the years.  My second blog was mildly successful but it was never on topic of the things that I wanted to blog about and always ended up being about what I thought people wanted to see and I wasted a lot of time and money doing it.  I keep coming back to blogging because I really love to write and share life through my own unique perspective.  I love the connections I make with people and the stories I get to read sharing with other bloggers and the overall community of bloggers BUT blogging is a lot of work!!

Every time I take it on, I think I’m prepared.  I’m not.  This time I have done so much research and learned TONS of new information to take on this task and now that I have launched the blog I still feel completely unprepared!  Between making sure my SEO is on point, and networking, and sharing my posts, and monetizing …AHHHHH… and that’s without even including writing the content which is the most important part.  Not to mention I am running a creative portrait business full-time, I am a mom, and I am trying my hardest to stop being the disorganized mess I have become.  WHAT WAS I THINKING STARTING A BLOG?? Lol

….but I refuse to be overwhelmed or quit and this time I am going to succeed harder than I have ever succeeded at blogging before.  I know there have to be bloggers out there who are struggling with just getting everything off the ground like me, so this post is in solidarity with all my fellow starter bloggers!  Raise your hand if you’ve thought on occasion, what am I doing?? *raises both hands* We’re all in the same boat and I’m sure there is something that has helped you along the way to stay on track and stay motivated.  For me there are two things.  The first is a content calendar.  Mine is pretty wonky still and I am still working out parts of it but it really helps to keep me on track and make sure I always have something to post.  My second is my community.  Talking and sharing with other bloggers is paramount for the future success of this blog!  I learn so much from others and I find lots of great inspiration and I am motivated to keep going by watching all of the success others have had.  So this journey continues and it is truly a struggle some days but one I am happy for!!

Are you a new blogger?  Have you been blogging for ages?  Please share some of your tips for what keeps you motivated or what you found was the most helpful thing when starting out!  If you’re not a blogger what are somethings you do in your area of expertise to keep you motivated?



In Lifestyle, Uncategorized on
July 6, 2017

3 Notebooks for the Swamped Creative

I don’t know about you guys but as a creative, I am always overwhelmed by how much I have going on and how many thoughts are running through my head.  It always helps me to be able to to organize those thoughts/tasks and release them to help with focus and relaxation.

In finding a way to do that I found a purpose for my notebook obsession as well!  I love notebooks.  Anytime I see a cute notebook, I have to but it with no real plan of what it will ever be used for.  Organizing my plans, thought, and ideas into these notebooks has helped a ton both creatively and organizationally.


The Notes Notebook

This is the notebook I like to call “my brain”.  This is where I do all of my brain dumps.  If I have a new idea, I write it down.  If I need to make a list of anything, it goes in here.  Sometimes I need a complete free write and this is the place.  There’s no organization to it or right way to do it.  The Notes Notebook just takes all of those thoughts out of your head and saves them in a place for you to come back to later.


The Journal

This is a place for more organized thought.  Jot down what has happened in your day, how you’re feeling in the moment, keep track of your memories.  The Journal is a daily/weekly log og the goings on of your life, where you can come back to and see where you once were and how far you’ve come. Journaling is a wonderful way to keep a log of your life.


The Sketchbook

I am totally not the best drawer in the world but you definitely don’t have to be!  You can sketch and doodle and just explore yourself artistically.  It’s a great way to decompress and let your mind relax.  Sometimes we just need a time to be free of out thoughts and let our creative minds take over.  Sketching and scribbling and coloring just gives me some quiet  escape time and can really help to inspire me before my next project.

sketchbook for creative

Bonus Notebook: The Prayer Journal

For those of you who are spiritual, The Prayer Journal can be the most important in your notebook arsenal.  I know for me sometimes it’s hard to focus in prayer being inundated by my many thoughts.  My prayer journal helps me focus through writing.  It’s my time to communicate my thanks and my worries and my needs for my family, my friends, and myself.  Once done writing in my prayer journal and casting my cares, I feel free and confident to take on my day.


Notebooks are more than pretty little pages.  They are a blank space for you to fill up with you!  Getting everything out of your head and having some quiet time can help the creative mind to be open to developing magnificent new ideas and projects and I encourage you to indulge yourself in this wonderful practice.


notebooks for creative

In Lifestyle on
July 3, 2017

Summer Side Dishes Perfect for the 4th of July

potato salad

Since the 4th is tomorrow of course I must have an obligatory food post, it’s only right.  With the many cookouts taking place, I was thinking of what I wanted to eat or make for the holiday this year so I turned to social media to get ideas from friends!! I wanted to know what their favorite summer side dish was and then find a fun recipe to share with all of you!

Jen says she loves bruschetta as a summer side and her choice was much agreed upon by others. She says, “It’s the side dish that serves as a meal.” So I scoured Pinterest for a great summer version of this dish.  Ciao Florentina did not disappoint.  She adds some cheese to this dish which makes it look like it’s to die for and the grilled garlic bread is excellent for seasonal dining!


Praise says she loves watermelon and feta salad because it’s “refreshing”! Watermelon is super refreshing on hot days and who doesn’t love feta (I mean, besides my own mother! Betrayal.). Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice has a great take on this favorite with added cucumbers for a little veggy crunch and red onions which is just perfection in a salad to me.

Justina’s favorite is Broccoli Cole Slaw because “It’s healthy and delicious.” We all need that dish that makes us feel good about ourselves as we consume overflowing plates and alcohol and this is the one! Cole slaw is another refreshing favorite and the addition of broccoli just take it over the top.  Check out this recipe from Add a Pinch for a quick 10 minute recipe your guests (and you) are sure to love.


Some other favorites I got were classics! Baked beans, macaroni salad, and the ever popular (and my personal favorite) Potato Salad!  Now don’t just go diving into any potato salad recipe you see.  Potato Salad is an art and the test of a true cook. Lol. I mean ok, maybe not all that, but damn it, potato salad needs to be good and my mother makes amazing potato salad.  I’m feeling generous so I’m about to tell you how she makes hers but for real, you guys can’t go telling everybody about this now.


Jan’s Potato Salad


6-8 Red Potatoes

2 Eggs

1-1 1/2 Cups of Mayo

1/4 cup of Mustard

1/4 cup of Relish

Salt, Pepper, and Celery Salt to taste

Paprika for Color (optional)


Boil your potatoes until they are fork tender. Skin off or skin on is up to you. We do either.

Hard boil your eggs.

When potatoes are fork tender. Remove from water and heat and cool.  We like to boil our potatoes the night before so their nice and cold the next day.

Chop your potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl.

Add the mayo to the potatoes and gently turn the potatoes so that they don’t fall apart. You want the mayo to fully coat the potatoes with a little to spare so add a little more mayo if potatoes seem dry.

Add the mustard and relish and do the same.

Season to taste with celery salt (a little goes a long way) then salt and pepper.

Sprinkle paprika on top for color (optional)


That’s my mama’s delicious potato salad!!!


Add some of these summer favorites to your cookouts this year and comment below and tell me how they were!!

In Business & Blogging, Lifestyle on
July 1, 2017

Why I left my job with nothing but hope to pay the bills

I had a tiny bit of savings and a whole lot of hope when I walked out of the door from the job I had been at for the last six years.  It was a good job in that it was very secure and it paid relatively well with increases annually (sometimes three times a year).  Being in that office, I probably would have been set for the life.  There were people retiring who had been there 30+ years and retired with great pensions that would leave them in a good position for the rest of their lives. But I walked out of the door with just enough hope to push me over the threshold and this is why.

A steady paycheck is nice.  IT REALLY IS. But you know what else is nice?  Being healthy. Having peace of mind. Being happy.  My job paid bills and was unhealthy, toxic, and soul-killing.  The anxiety that it caused made me a miserable and barely healthy person.  As I struggle with anxiety as is, working in an atmosphere where you are yelled at daily, over-looked, and over-worked only exacerbates that and once I started being forced to take on work that was not part of my original job description and being punished if I didn’t, I knew it was something I couldn’t do anymore.

Well God knew it too and my job offered layoffs.  The day it happened, my coworkers started emailing me saying, “This is it!” and I knew they were right.

I knew that I had always wanted to work for myself and generate an income off of something that I loved and controlled myself.  So I left with very little money saved and I set out on my adventure.  The adventure of entrepreneurship.

Do I know how I am going to pay my bills from month to month?  Nope!  Is my savings starting to dwindle?  Yep! Am I working harder everyday to get everything in place to be able to sustain a livable income?  Sure am!  …and I am the happiest I have been in a long time and I work everyday to get back on track to being healthy as well.

I jumped …and right now I’m still gliding but one day soon, I will fly and if you stay here with me, you will watch me on my journey to soaring heights.


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