Reasons to Forgive.

We have all been there. We all have our on scenario’s played out in our minds of things that have happened in the past and hurt us. Let’s be honest for a minute, those situations are really hard to let go sometimes, right?

I’m going to go over a few reasons why I think forgiveness should be a top priority even if you got an empty apology or even worse..no apology at all.

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You will never move forward.

You will forever be stuck in the past if you cannot let go what happened to you. Negativity can eat you alive if you allow it. Life will happen regardless and we can’t control the things that happen but we can control how we react to it. This applies to the things people say and do to you too. Let it go and grow through it. Move on, your future awaits you.

Learn from your experience.

Something powerful to remember is that you have the ability to grasp just the kind of person you don’t want to be or behavior you don’t want to posses. The pain and heartache that others put you through can be a staple in your journey towards being a better person. If you are anything like me, I sometimes replay situations over and over in my head sometimes trying to figure out how I might have been able to do something differently to produce a different outcome. Hello, anxiety! Am I right? I exhaust myself and I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s such a fruitless behavior. Instead, concentrate on what you learned and let that carry you.

God forgives us..

We are all forgiven daily, why can’t we offer the same to others? In fact, God commands that we forgive and let go of resentment. Matthew 6:15 says,” If you refuse to forgive others, you’ll be robbing yourself of your heavenly father’s forgiveness.” Depending on where you stand with your relationship with God, maybe this speaks life to you. If not, carry on to the next paragraph.

Do it for yourself.

I’ve learned over the years that despite the pain people have knowingly or unknowingly put on my shoulders, I have to let it go. Forgiveness is a choice, simply put. If your hurt were rocks and you carried those rocks around in a bag over your shoulder, how much weight would you be toting around? Is your bag heavy or are you even carrying a bag? If it’s too heavy, put it down and don’t pick it back up. If you genuinely want that weight lifted, you have to do it for yourself. You deserve peace.

Forgive them anyway.

Not everyone will apologize and you shouldn’t wait around to hear those two little words either. When someone is not sorry for what they have done to you, it’s their problem not yours..unless you choose for it to be. You have to love yourself enough to let it go and move on. You aren’t responsible for carrying their burdens on your shoulders. I like to remind myself that hurt people often hurt people. They have their own inner demons to work with and sometimes it’s important to give them grace where they need it. Respectfully and with new boundaries.

Shed new light.

In such times, you can learn and experience things in new ways. You can establish boundaries for what kind of relationships you expect from people you associate yourself with. Current, old and new. People are ever evolving, perhaps if someones time card in your life has expired…then it’s time to move forward. The same applies the other way around. We are all on a journey, sometimes we travel together and other times we all branch off at the T and go in different directions. And it’s okay as long as you’re okay with it. Only you can answer to that, not me and not anyone else.

Forgiving and forgetting is easier said than done. I get it. I have lived it. We have all experienced it in some way, shape or form. The kicker is how we respond to these situations when they happen. I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay to be angry first. It’s only human. But just remember, that anger might just warrant an apology from your end if you aren’t careful. And it’s okay to take the time you need to heal. There is no such thing as crunch time when it comes to healing.

 

Confessions of a Firefighter’s Wife

I didn’t know it at the time, but I met my husband 14 years ago. He and I were both young and fresh out of high school. I was in college three hours away in North Louisiana. He was hustling away working with his dad to earn the dollars and in his free time, he was a volunteer fireman in his hometown in South Louisiana. His dad’s girlfriend just so happened to work for my mother and she had a photo of me on her desk. One day when my husband stopped by for a visit..he was incredibly interested by the boss’s daughters photo.

I got wind of this little twitterpated fella and asked for a photo in return. We spoke on the phone..we met and all in a few short months, I packed up and moved down to the south to move back in with my parents and be closer to him. The first time we met was truly one of the most comical situations in my life. He was so shy and timid. We rode around and talked and laughed about everything and nothing at the same time. Something about him was different..a good kind of different.

He already had a tattoo of a maltese cross on his shoulder to give you an idea of his commitment to being a first responder. The longer we dated and the more serious it got, the more my parents pushed him to seek out a more stable and promising job. One that could support us both if we continued to be serious. And he did..after about a year of us dating, he joined the fire academy and began his training to start doing what he loved professionally. Time flew and we fell more and more in love. After about a year and a half of dating, we got engaged and then a year layer, we said our vows and promised each other forever.

I knew when I married him what his line of work entailed. I knew that he would encounter things and see things that were disturbing. I told him I would support him but I didn’t want to know the gruesome details. On the flip side of that coin, he would also save lives and be the reason someone is still living and breathing today.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What I didn’t know:

Being a fire fighter wife is like constantly living on hold. When he is gone…he’s just gone. It’s not the same as going to a 9-5 and if something comes up in between, he can sneak away really quick to help with this or that. His shift time is fully dedicated to his job. Not to himself, myself or our children. This has proven to be both positive and negative. Positive because it’s challenged me to become heavily independent. Negative because that challenge alone is really hard by itself and life gets really overwhelming at times and there is honestly nothing I can do to change those circumstances, except deal with it on my own.

Being a fire fighter wife is about taking the trash out yourself. Okay, so this isn’t the most awful thing in the world but ladies, hear me out..isn’t it wonderful when your husband does it? The overflowing list of to do’s is always so long and tasky. Having your husband around to do just one of those simple things truly makes my life so much easier.

Being a fire fighter wife is about saying the words,” I love you, be careful” in a more meaningful way. Of course, anything can happen to anyone during their day. None of us know what God’s plan is for our lives but in this line of work, these fireman are running straight into danger on purpose. It’s the most selfless thing any of them could sign up for and for me, it’s the most terrifying thing in the world. Despite him being trained on what to do in any kind of scenario, anything can go wrong in an instant. Knowing when I say those words, I could be saying them for the last time.. I am in a constant state of worry hoping that whatever call he is on day or night, he is safe and he will come home to me.

Speaking of which, being a fire fighter wife, you channel some strange telepathic magical powers. No, seriously. I can’t count how many times I woke up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night when my husband is at the station and I can’t go back to sleep. I find out the next day that my husband woke up at the same time to go on a call.

Being a fire fighter wife is about learning how to spend holidays and celebrations alone. Every now and then, his schedule aligns perfectly so he doesn’t miss much but then there’s years like this one where he misses mine and the kids birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, etc. It gets really lonely sometimes. Learning how to enjoy the times when you’re supposed to be with your loved ones is hard being that the one you love the most is away at the station.

Being a fire fighter wife is about learning how to not make your partner feel guilty for doing something they truly love. When they miss all of the most special things because they were on duty, it’s difficult not to hold it against them. We all know they can’t help it. It’s just hard doing everything alone all the time.

Being a fire fighter wife is about learning boundaries when your husband walks in the door. Did he sleep last night? Did he have to give CPR to an infant? Did he fearlessly run into a burning house to save someone? Did he have to cut someone out of a car to save their life? I think the hardest thing we have had to work through is the tragic plane crash he worked in Lafayette recently. When my husband walks through the door, I pay close attention to his mood. I gauge it so that I’m not throwing the kids on him or spitting out orders immediately when he walks in. For all I know, that might have been what his last shift was all about. I have to remind myself that it’s not fair to bombard him. I don’t know what he’s been through in the last 24 hours or if he can even handle the smallest of requests. We all need a minute sometimes and he deserves his minute too.

With that said, it’s all about being open arms when he’s had some rough calls to work through. Unfortunately, they have a hard time grasping the things they’ve seen and heard a lot of so it’s just important to be present and let them know that you are here for them.

Being a firefighter wife is about learning to listen to your children ask on repeat when their daddy is coming home. Thank God for FaceTime these days..sometimes just being able to see their daddy’s face and hear his voice is all they need to calm their little hearts.

Being a firefighter wife often means dinner for one. Sometimes it means driving to the fire house to visit or have dinner with the rest of the guys just so you and your kids can spend some time with him. And sometimes, as soon as you take your first bite, the fire alarm chimes and off he goes.

Being a firefighter wife can often leave you feeling empty and though I know I am not a single mom, sometimes the other wives and I joke that we are. The firefighter wives I have gotten close to over the years hold such a sweet spot in my heart. They say being a fireman is like a brotherhood and the same holds true with the women. We form a sisterhood and where our husbands cannot be, we come together and pick up each others pieces and fill in the gaps. Our bond cannot be broken just like theirs.

When I married my husband, I didn’t know how hard it would be to see him go in the mornings and wonder if he would come back home in one piece. I didn’t know how hard it would be to do so much life without him. There’s so many things I didn’t think about or truly understand until I started living it. But I also didn’t know how special it would be to hear our daughters call their daddy a hero either.

 

SUPER-cali-FACIAL-isticexpialidocious

Now that I have permanently put this song in your head for the rest of the day, let me tell you about the best facial I have ever gotten in my entire life. Yes, I have gotten many in my lifetime..way more than I can count but this is undoubtedly my favorite.

This facial is called the OxyGeneo. Also known as a Super Facial, hence my silly title. It will literally improve the tone and texture of your skin within one treatment and the best part is, there is zero downtime! This procedure takes all of about 30 minutes and is suitable for all skin tones and types. I actually had a hormonal break out on my chin when I did this facial. Don’t you just love when your body wants to remind you that the time of the month is upon you? Like, gee thanks lady parts, I’ve only been doing for 18 years but thanks for the reminder! Insert eye roll..

Anyways..my pizza chin had no match for the GeneO+. You’ll see for yourself before the end of this post.

What happens during a Super Facial:

1: Exfoliation

The type of exfoliation you can expect will be similar to a microdermabrasion.  A hydrating gel is applied to the skin and a tool will be used to remove the uppermost layer of dead skin cells, smooth and renew a fresh canvas of skin to prepare it  for receiving active nutrients. If you’ve ever been licked by a cat, the sensation of this exfoliation tool is pretty similar to that..and it kind of sounds like a cat purring too.

2. Oxygenate

For this step, a second  layer of hydrating mask is applied and the GeneO+ tool is used again but this time it is used to massage in a ton of moisture in the skin. It will increase blood flow and the skins metabolism of nutrients to the skin.

3. Infuse (Ultrasound)

This last step really seals the deal. The final layer of hydrating mask will be applied to the face and the GeneO+ tool is used again. A chemical reaction happens between the mask and the tool used and little oxygen bubbles will begin gently bursting on the skin sending oxygen rich blood to the area being worked on. This isn’t painful at all, pinky swear.

In a nut shell, this is incredibly nutritious to not only the surface of the skin but deeply below the surface as well.  I am so not a science person and I know this all sounds super crazy but if you have ever had an ultrasound done, the sensation is similar. It just feels like a cool sensation gliding along the skin. This step actually stimulates collagen so it helps plump the skin up.

Take a look at the before and after photo. I am completely blown away at just how much it changed my entire complexion in such a short amount of time. I cannot wait to schedule my next one, I hope to start getting these regularly! Speaking of, you can actually receive these facials about every 4-6 weeks. This treatment is your new best friend if you are looking for a quick, painless but highly effective facial. It will completely smooth out your skin texture, your fine lines and wrinkles will quickly be softened, your skin will be tight and firm in all the right places and undoubtedly the most hydrated and healthy its ever been! I can see how this facial would be crazy beneficial before any kind of event, photos of any kind or hey, even a Mardi Gras Ball!

You can easily visit  Laser Skin Care of Louisiana’s website to learn more about this treatment as well as all the other services they offer or give them a call at 337-237-1116 to schedule your appointment.  Click here for new patient inquiries.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. Kevin J. Duplechain.

4 Ways We Are Surviving Pre-K

I thought I felt my heart actually breaking the weeks and days that led up to my oldest starting Pre-K. I felt sick to my stomach. I was losing sleep. I was having anxiety about following such a strict routine because, let’s face it, I have been a stay at home mom with no real schedule for years. I was crying at the drop of a hat. I was making myself miserable..and I was making my child miserable too. I know all the regulars who have been doing this for years are literally laughing at this right now saying,” Come on Mom, get it together!!” Don’t worry ladies, after about six weeks into this, I have the swing of things down and I want to share some of the things that have made this a fun transition for us.

For starters, let me just say that the first day of school was actual trauma. Seriously, if you go to a dictionary and look up the word ‘trauma’, our first day of school story will be written there in big bold letters. Going back to the part where I said I was making my daughter miserable, I realized that I really hadn’t said much about how much fun she would have or how many friends she would make. I spent our days cuddling her, playing with her and telling her how much I would miss her. Don’t get me wrong, I did tell her should would have fun and she would make friends but there was far more emphasis on how much I loved her and how much I would miss her while she was at school. Looking back now, I realize I should have swallowed my sorrows and built her up more to prepare her for her first day. The truth is, she was only as excited as I was to send her to school, which wasn’t very much.

The Heart.

The second day of school, I knew I had to do better and I had to be better for her. If she was going to go to school and have any kind of fun, I was going to have to instill some form of hope in her. I prayed and prayed the night before for her and for myself so I could be better for her. While I was making her breakfast that morning, suddenly it just hit me. I grabbed a marker out of my craft room and I drew a heart on the inside of her wrist and mine. I told her to look at it every time she missed me and I would look at mine too. A friend of mine on Instagram had mentioned a particular book I needed to order on Amazon to read to her about going to school so I think that might have been what sparked the idea. I, unfortunately, still have not ordered the book. Ally and I still have a matching doodle on the inside of our wrists every day and it is special to us. I know the book is probably the best thing since sliced cheese but to me, this is ours. It’s one of the ways we have survived this transition. Now my youngest likes to have something drawn on the inside of her wrist and occasionally when my husband is home in the morning, he gets a matching drawing on his wrist too.

The Blanket.

Also starting on the second day of school, I did something I remembered my mom doing for me when I was little. The house I grew up in was at least 100 years old and high off the ground. The least bit of a chill in the air would make the house freezing. My mom would put a blanket in the drier or draped in front of our lit fire place to wrap me in to keep me toasty while I ate my breakfast. Typically this was a Winter thing only but considering my house thermostat is set on arctic temperatures at all times, it kind of applies every single morning. My daughter looks forward to her warm blanket in the mornings. And the little girl in me smiles inside because I remember the safe and loved feeling it gave me when my mom would snuggle me up in a fresh warm blanket.

The Cinnamon Rolls.

Several of my mom friends who have children in school already warned me that my kids would be exhausted by Friday afternoon, for us so far, that happens to be by Thursday. When they come home from school, they are whipped. So much that they hit the hay early and have a hard time getting up the next morning for their last day of the week. So, I started getting up even earlier on Friday mornings to pre-heat the oven and bake some fresh cinnamon rolls. Usually the kids hear me stirring around in the kitchen and wake up just before it’s time. But they’re immediately excited because the smell of sugary cinnamon fills the house and they typically stand at the oven watching them back until they’re done cooking and ready to eat. It’s crazy how changing up the breakfast to something a little more exciting gets them a little bit more eager for the day. It’s like a sweet little incentive for making it to Friday!

The Sunday Snack Ritual.

I had been buying tons of snacks at the grocery store every week and before the second or third day, my stash was nearly gone because the kids were going through them so fast between school snacks and after school snacks, then before bed snacks. I mean, this snack issue was a real issue! Coincidentally, I had a box of cake mix that was going out of date if I didn’t bake it soon and clearly, my kids love to watch things bake in the oven so one Sunday evening, we baked mini cupcakes with no icing and it turned into their snack for the week. Making messes seem to be one of the main things that feeds into their joy, so this was actually a really fun little thing for us to do together. And my snack stash didn’t disappear within five seconds that week! I was like..okay…so maybe this could be a thing! So now, we bake on Sundays. Even if its just a tube of nestle cookies, we do it together. It doesn’t matter how messy it is or how un-chef like they look. It’s the gesture itself of simply making them with the girls that makes it fun and the girls just “know” that they’re making their snacks for the week.

I know that I am probably setting my expectations high for the kids and maybe things won’t always be this way. I guess the way I see it is, they’re only little once and soon enough, these things will only be a distant memory and they won’t want their warm blankets, hearts on their wrist or to bake with mama anymore. It does make for a little extra planning and sometimes it makes for a bigger mess than I really feel like dealing with but the laughs and their smiles are so worth it.

I’d also like to add in that sometimes reading things exactly like this make me feel very less than. As if I don’t measure up and I’m not doing enough with my kids. If you’re that mama, please hear me, we are all doing the absolute best we can. Even if it means you could barely roll out of bed in the morning because the baby didn’t sleep last night or all the snacks for the week are store bought. No one is judging you and if they are, they aren’t your friend. You do what’s best for you and your family. There are no rules or guidelines to follow when you’re doing what makes your role in motherhood easier or flow for that matter. Keep your chin up and smiles on those littles faces. You’re doing a great job!

Boltfarm Tree House

If you need a place to completely disconnect from everything and re-center yourself, reconnect with your spouse and get some rest..this read will be such a treat for you! My husband and I visited Boltfarm Tree Houses near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s tucked about 30 minutes away from the city in a secluded area just off of the water. There are so many beautiful oak trees towering over the grounds that you lose count. You truly get lost in how serene it is, which is exactly what my husband and I needed.

Nick and I did the math while sitting on the deck at the treehouse..so between my husband being a Lafayette Firefighter and owning and operating his own Dirt Contracting business, he works roughly 102 hours per week. Guys..there’s 168 hours in a full week! That’s insane right? And as for me..well, I’m a full time mama, blogger, influencer and beauty guide. So if there’s only 168 hours in a week, that basically means I work at least 1,714 hours a week. However, I have the ability to juggle all of my responsibilities but I can always count on there being zero breaks when it comes to the girls. Even when they should be sleeping, they don’t. Long story short, my oldest barely believes in naps anymore and my youngest is the most nocturnal little being I’ve ever known. Not the good kind of non-sleeper either. Moms, you know what I’m talking about. It gets rough sometimes but I manage to find the beauty in between. I like to think she’s the one who will teach me patience. I guess we can call this a “blesson.”

The ability to view a lesson as a blessing..

Needless to say, my husband and I desperately needed a break. We didn’t want the kind of vacation where we were on the go constantly with an itinerary. We wanted to be able to sleep in, relax and essentially do nothing since we are always doing something! I don’t know how the treehouse could have been anymore perfect. Tori and Seth Bolt poured their heart and souls into these treehouses. Every detail was so well thought out and didn’t go unnoticed on our part.

As soon as we arrived, we drove up on the most beautiful iron gate in the shape of all of the oak trees you see covering the entire treehouse farm. We drove up to The Honeymoon Treehouse and were greeted by Jared who is the General Manager of Boltfarm Treehouses. He gave us a quick tour of the treehouse we were staying in, explained all there was to do and encouraged us to unplug and enjoy each other and our time there. Afterwards, we swung on the hanging chairs on the balcony of our treehouse and just marveled the beautiful grounds and all that the treehouse had to offer.

The Honeymoon Treehouse featured a copper bathtub on a platform in the main room. The back wall in front of the bed was covered top to bottom with charming antique mirrors. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept on. When it comes time for us to replace our own mattress, we will probably be ordering the same Sleepy mattress with a pillow top like they used. On the side was the kitchen area. It was finished with an above counter copper sink, a miniature retro style refrigerator hidden behind the stained wood cabinetry and a dining area for two complete with an antique China set. Let’s not forget the old style record player complete with a basket full of old records to play, adult coloring books, pillows to sit for meditation and prayer, a legit picnic basket filled with everything an outside picnic would ever need and a little fireplace. Sounds like a dream right? That’s just inside the treehouse, that’s not counting the amenities outdoors!

Outside there was a gorgeous view of the water with oak trees giving the perfect amount of shade. Double bicycles, outside grill, pizza oven, jacuzzi, fire pit fit for snuggles and s’mores, outdoor shower and screened in room with a swinging bed complete with a screen and projector to play movies. Don’t all of these things just sound like heaven?

Every single thing I named made the Treehouse every bit of the experience we were promised. But every ounce of alone time, relaxation, peace and quiet with my husband was the best part of all. It was exactly what we needed in our 10th season of marriage. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:18,

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

I felt this verse fit perfectly for everything I wanted to end with. Everything was serene and absolutely perfect at the tree house and we are literally chomping at the bit to plan our next stay. But it wasn’t just beautiful scenery that we enjoyed, it wasn’t just the quiet time we needed and it wasn’t just the opportunity to be the big kids we know we are at heart; it was the unseen that sparked magic because of the seen. Does that resonate? I think we can all agree that life happens every single day and we all fall short in allowing it to get in the way of the things that mean the most to us. Making time for your partner and the things that matter most to you will be one of the greatest investments you can make in your relationship. God and each other. I think the best love story is to be able to fall in love with the same person over and over again.

Being able to be with my husband where he was only my husband for a few days was bliss. I’m sure he would agree the opposite for me. We could just be our true selves for a few days with zero responsibilities except pouring ourselves into each other and reconnecting on a level that we haven’t been able to in years. It’s truly amazing how doing nothing is absolutely everything you could possibly need. We swung outside and enjoyed the views, took naps on the swinging bed outside, we showered outside during the daytime and nighttime under the moon and starts, we listened to Calming Guitar Playlist on Pandora; I highly recommend that soothing playlist by the way. I have listened to it every day since we have returned. It almost as if I was able to bring the tree house experience home with me. Not to mention, growing up as a musicians daughter, my father was always playing his acoustic guitar at random times throughout the day. It was an enjoyable part of my childhood. This kind of music is medicine for the soul. We also made our own pizza, we roasted s’mores, rode the double bicycles, drank wine, walked down the lane full of oak trees and got to see lightening bugs for the first time since each of us were children. That may seem like nothing but it was truly a magical moment for me, at least. We took the time to visit Charleston one afternoon and had lunch at a tavern that was downtown. Which was incredible by the way.

Writing all of these things and telling you how insanely mind blowing it all was just brings me back. Even though it was just a few short weeks ago, the thought of being there and what it did for my heart and soul has stuck with me. Like the unseen I mentioned before, it wasn’t just an experience, it was purifying and healing. I will never forget what that trip did for me and I cannot wait till we go back. Matter of fact, if you’d like to mention that I recommended BoltFarm Treehouses to you when you book your stay, you will be upgraded to a complimentary VIP experience..and We will be too upon our next stay!

http://www.boltfarmtreehouse.com

This content is not sponsored by BoltFarm Treehouse or by Seth & Tori Bolt.

The Barn.

My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. Holy macaroni, you read right, TEN WHOLE YEARS. How time passed so quickly, I don’t think I will ever know but as our anniversary date approached we started planning and trying to figure out what the best trip would be. We knew we didn’t want anything in a big city..or city at all really. We knew we didn’t want to be busy the whole time. We knew we didn’t want there to be a lot of people or really any people for that matter. We wanted simple, we wanted to be secluded, we wanted total peace and quiet. Which is what led us to our first stop on our vacation. The Barn.

The Barn was a lucky find on Airbnb. I say lucky because I searched for what felt like weeks for a good hideaway and it was hard finding a place that could accommodate us on such short notice. I wanted something that wouldn’t be too far off of our main route to the Boltfarm Treehouse, which I will be blogging about next. My first few searches were in some small towns in Alabama. There was a really cute Caboose…yes, a train car, an actual caboose that was completely converted into an adorable tiny living space. Then there was this house thirty plus miles from the nearest anything but the views were gorgeous. Lastly, there was a Yurt we found on a campground overlooking a lake. All of them were beautiful and different, just like we wanted but none of them seemed like the perfect fit so, I continued to look. I found myself looking just south of Atlanta along our route, which led me to The Barn.

As soon as I saw it, I knew this was it. I immediately showed pictures to Nick and he was like YES!! It’s basically everything that Pinterest, Rae Dunn and Farmhouse dreams are made of. The owners put every little detail into thought when they created this space. From the beautifully landscaped grounds, the outdoor grill area, to the screened in game room, the pool and hot tub to all the homey details of the inside of the barn. I was definitely taking notes for our new home in Breaux Bridge! As we told friends one of our stays was at a Barn, the looks we got were hilarious. They were like,” …..you’re staying in a what?” It made me laugh, they just didn’t know how good this was going to be.

The whole space is incredibly dreamy. The Barn is actually situated in the owners backyard but it’s off set and there’s a lot of privacy. It’s not in a big town but it is about 40 minutes south of Atlanta. I say it’s not a big town, it’s much bigger than what I’m used to over here. The Chick-Fila and Burger King look like five star restaurants (seriously) compared to how they’re constructed down here in Louisiana! The town has a lot of places to shop, restaurants and antique stores. To be honest, even though the town has all of those amenities, it has a lot of country to it too which is what we were mostly interested in. With a short drive, you can easily get to a lot of beautiful hiking trails that have lovely sights and waterfalls. We went to Chochran Mill Park which was about 20 minutes away from The Barn and it was amazing! We only hiked one of the trails but one of the first sights was a gorgeous waterfall.

Back to barn though, when we arrived, we were greeted by a deer in the driveway. Which totally reminds me of going home. Back where I grew up, it was nothing to drive up and see them in the driveway or in the yard somewhere. Sounds cliché but this was definitely a home away from home experience. What made the experience even more personal was a little letter board in the hall welcoming us to their Barn and the owners wishing us a happy anniversary. This is the part where you say ” aweee!”

Even though we did go hiking and out to dinner one night at a local Sushi restaurant, we spent all of our time soaking up the barn and each other. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and are both always incredibly busy. He is also a Firefighter meaning, even when he is sleeping, he is working. I am a stay at home mom, raising our two sweet girls ages 4 and 2. While that is a lot in general, I am also a Director and Certified Mentor for LimeLife by Alcone and I blog. All of it makes us super happy but just like anything else, sometimes you need a break. The Barn was perfect for this. I like to think we are simple people and simple things make us very happy and that’s what The Barn delivered for us. An opportunity to slow down, get some rest, reconnect with each other and enjoy each other which is something I think every modern day couple can definitely appreciate these days.

We sat in the hot tub, we played pool, we laughed, we played the large sized Jenga, we napped on the outdoor swing, we laughed some more, we caught up on some of our favorite Netflix shows, we hiked and it was the most fun My husband and I been able to have in a while together. I think my husband would agree. We basically got to be the big kids we are and have fun! Having kids and hustling to have thriving businesses are definitely some of the best blessings life can offer but it was so nice to disconnect for a minute and just be. Just enjoy time and each other. Jesus says in the book of Mark 6:31,

Come away with me to a quiet place and rest awhile.

And that’s exactly what we did. We both loved our stay and highly recommend The Barn in Newnan, GA. It’s such a fantastic getaway! I’m just glad I gave AirBNB a try before booking a hotel room somewhere along the way because there is absolutely no way any hotel, five star or not, could ever top our experience here. I don’t know when our next trip would be but if I can help it, The Barn will definitely be a part of our stay any time we travel on that side of the country. This AirBNB is perfect for a one night stay, a weekend stay or even a week long stay for any occasion. Thanks again to Mona and Brent for allowing us to come and experience your little piece of heaven!! We will be back!

Check out the link to The Barn here: https://abnb.me/6WHs3w3T5W

 

Aging Gracefully

They say diamonds are a girls best friend..and then Botox and Juvederm happened.

I can finally say that I am the proud owner of a smoother forehead and some full, even lips. If you know me personally and you’re like everyone else who already knows..yes, I got injections. Yes, I know I didn’t need it but I wanted it. I’ll dissect that a little bit by telling you that in High School, I was the back spot on the cheer leading squad. One day when the flyer was doing a liberty, she lost balance, fell and I got kicked in the lip..since then, I have had a lot of scar tissue on the left side of my bottom lip. With that said, my lip appeared much plumper on the bottom left while the rest of my lips were thin, uneven and less full. My forehead and crow’s feet..that’s just the result of sun exposure, age, collagen breakdown and more than likely, hormones.  Here are a couple of before photos so you can see what I was working with.

It really isn’t that bad but let’s be honest, we are all our own worst critics and it was definitely something that bothered me! So, I went in for a consultation at  Dr. Duplechain’s office next to Laser Skin Care of Louisiana. We talked about my skin and my concerns. I will not lie to you for one minute, I was so nervous. He will more than likely remember me as the lady who has sweaty palms because I was literally sweating bullets when I first arrived. There is no one in the world more afraid of needles than I am. He and his staff made me feel incredibly comfortable and confident about the procedure.  We began by taking a few different photos of my face in different positions. I scrunched my forehead, opened my eyes and lifted my eyebrows as high as I could, smiled and frowned. Ultimately, the idea behind doing this was to monitor the changes in my skin and to see where majority of my existing expression lines and wrinkles were. We decided that we would do a few units of Botox in my forehead and a some of a syringe of Juvederm into my lips to even them out. So the next step after that was to numb my face in preparation for those needles..que the sweaty palms again.

The Nurse then applied topical anesthetic to my forehead, between my hairline and my eyes and my lips for about 10 minutes. It was a really interesting sensation! Dr. Duplechain returned and he further explained the structure of the face, what muscles did what and what he recommended for the characteristics of my face, which were to ultimately smooth my forehead, smooth out my crows feet and even out my lips. My main fear that I expressed that I didn’t want to end up on Botched or look too plastic. Dr. Duplechain was incredible at calming my nerves and assuring me that he would address my concerns without over doing it. One of the things he prides himself in, is his work. One of the things he said to me was that he would never allow me or any of his clients to leave the office looking unnatural, that’s not his goal.

The first injections were done on my forehead and on the temple area with Botox. To be honest, I could tell he was poking me but I felt zero pain. Which is crazy because I am a total pansy when it comes to pain. Not to mention, the needle is super small but he worked quickly, efficiently and even gave me a few breaks in between to breathe. The concept behind Botox is actually quite intriguing. It works by temporarily relaxing the muscles that contribute to fine lines and wrinkles. By keeping those muscles relaxed, wrinkles do not form. This was important to me because my fine lines were beginning to bother me in general, not to mention, it doesn’t matter what brand of makeup I wear or what steps I take to eliminate the problem..it always settles into the creases.

Next up was lips. Now, before I dive into this..anyone else a cheek biter? No..just me? It’s a horrible habit I have had..honestly for as long as I can remember. So, with that said, I have smile lines leading from my nose to the outside corners of my mouth, the left side being a little more superficial than the right. The goal wasn’t to eliminate the line but to just smooth it out some.  This was definitely the most painful part of the entire procedure. I wouldn’t call it downright pain but I did have to take more breaks and breathe through it. What’s great about Juvederm is that it actually has a numbing agent in it. So not only are your lips numb from the outside, but the product being injected numbs as it goes inside. I only had one injection site that I thought I might actually levitate from the chair but I braved it out. Juvederm is perfect for filling lines and wrinkles on the face, adding volume to the cheeks, chin and under-eye area, adding fullness or shape to the lips or correcting your nasolabial folds( laugh lines or in my case, those “cheek chewing” lines.)

I felt so rejuvenated after my appointment. I’ve never had injections before so this was something completely foreign to me. Just looking in the mirror after we finished to see my lips even literally choked me up. The Botox would take up to five days to relax the muscles in my forehead, by day four, I was already starting to see it! Just compare the top collage to this one, it’s insane just how much change I have seen in my face in just a week!

Dr. Duplechain’s office is located by Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana. He is one hundred percent committed to his patients satisfaction. Not only does he have decades of experience but he is also a part of the National Education Faculty for Allergan injectables, including Botox and Juvederm, and he frequently lectures nationally and internationally. If you’ve had injections on the brain, you should definitely give Laser Skincare a call at (337) 456-3282.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. J. Kevin Duplechain

 

Why You Need A Girls Night

Raise your hand if you are a wife, mother or a full on career woman who often finds herself just needing a break? Heck, what if you are all three! Charting patients, changing diapers, washing the mounds of laundry and dishes, kid’s practices, grocery shopping, meeting deadlines and everything else on that never ending to-do list. Life, while it’s amazing and fulfilling has tendencies to take a ghastly toll and while we may not realize it, a girls night is just the ticket to refuel your soul. Where you can go and simply have fun, spend time with other women you adore, have a glass of wine, laugh until you cry..or pee your pants and flat out, enjoy yourself or refill that cup that we always pour so freely from.

Who can honestly say that they make time for themselves now a days? I can honestly say that I did not make time for that until this year. I always talked about it but I never actually followed through with a plan. My excuse was pretty much always related to Mom Guilt, which by definition is the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they worry they’re failing or falling short of expectations in some way. My mom guilt was always a version surrounding the concept of letting someone else, even my husband..yes..my own husband, my children’s father take care of them. Not that he couldn’t take care of them, I just couldn’t let go of full responsibility. Even hiring a sitter was out of the question for the longest time. In my mind, my children were my responsibility, day and night. While they are, what I didn’t quite see was that I was beginning to slowly drown myself in motherhood.

My brother and sister-in-law probably don’t realize but they were honestly the ones who inspired me the most to make this a priority in my life. They take turns every few weeks and have a guys night/girls night. I always just looked at this rewarding night as if it was a major goal but something definitely out of my reach. Not that it wasn’t deserved or much needed but I saw it as something that I would just be able to enjoy some day.

So what was the paradigm shift? What made me decide that it was time to start treating myself? I can proudly say that the motivation came from listening to a lot of personal development, Jesus, podcasts, blogs and books. When I started grasping that life is in session..a light bulb went off and I started thinking to myself that I truly deserved some down time. My cup is always pouring into everyone and everything and yet I am the one riding on the back row of the struggle bus. I needed a time where I could relax and re-charge with a few friends, eat a dinner that I didn’t prepare, where I could eat with both of my hands( if you’re a mom, you totally feel this..) and not have to constantly argue with a tiny army that I created to sit down, be quiet, eat their food and wipe ketchup off their face. I do have a few adult friends who get a little messy but on nights like this, you are on your own, sister! I kid, I kid…maybe.

What’s even better about committing to this girls night? Your husband will have a new found respect and appreciation for you. He will see, ten fold, what you do on the daily. This speaks heights for all of my stay at home mama’s out there. He will see first hand all of the things that you put up with, all of the things that you do, are and how gracefully swift you rock this motherhood gig. Even though on even the best of days, it probably doesn’t feel like that. Let’s be real for a sec, motherhood, while it is so undeniably fulfilling in every facet of itself, it can be so overwhelming and exhausting.

So now, I prioritize this night. Sometimes it’s super last minute and other times, I plan days or weeks in advance. The first month, we decided to go eat boiled crawfish because, well..I’m a swamp queen and that’s what us swamp queens do. The next month, we decided about two hours in advance to meet at a bar and have a few drinks to unwind. And this month, I decided to host a movie night featuring the one and only, Rachel Hollis with her new movie, Made for More. Because, let’s face it ladies, WE WERE MADE FOR MORE!!!

Every girls night is different and different women are there every time but that’s the beauty of it. No hard feelings, no strings attached..just an evening for everyone to unwind and refill their cup so we can continue to give so freely like we all always do. I think the hardest concept I’ve had to work through is that it’s okay for me to do this. It’s okay to refuel. It’s okay to refresh yourself and remember who you were before you became a mommy. But since I’ve started, I have had a much easier time doing all the things. I can wife better, mom better, work my business better, friend better and even sweep my dang floors with a little pep in my step.

We as moms deserve this time. Make an effort to make it a priority. You won’t regret it.

When I grow up…

The one huge question that probably resonates with everyone is the almighty ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I don’t really know if I had a solid answer for this growing up, I just knew I wanted to be happy and confident.

When I think about my childhood, I think about a lot of genuinely good times. Some of my favorites include my best friend and I playing in the woods until the sun was almost gone, making things in my dads wood shop with him, winning handstand competitions at Bela Karolyi’s gymnastic summer camps, talking on the air at my grandfathers radio station, riding around with my brother and his friends listening to “Gangsters Paradise” so loud my ear drums would vibrate long after we got out of the car and playing “chase” at church with my friends. Those are just a few of my favorites..I can continue writing this list for days.

Although I have an incredibly long list of amazingly happy memories..not all of my childhood was sunshine and rainbows. Just like any kid, I’m sure, we all start school and things change. Not all children are nice and all I can pray is that I instill a kind heart in my children so that they never inflict anyone with the kind of hurt that I had in school. Although, I know that at some point I will have to mend a broken heart or two.

I remember when I was in kindergarten, I used to take the bus to school. I was the first one on and the last one off. I would go back to sleep when I got on the bus and wake up when we got to school. One morning, I guess one of the older kids on the bus thought it would be funny to stick gum in my hair. I didn’t know until I got to school and I cried. The school ended up calling my mother to come try to get it out in the bathroom with toothpaste and peanut butter…and I still cried. That day, I earned the title as a cry baby and that name followed me until the day I graduated. I say I earned it because I cried…a lot.

Leading up to 3rd grade, I started wearing glasses and I spent the entire summer with my mom at my grandfathers house in South Louisiana and I basically ate REALLY GOOD the whole time I was there. Let’s just say that my glasses and my weight gain added to my really awesome cry baby resumé. Let’s not forget that the genes ran super strong for me to start a uni-brow very early in life. Que the facepalm.

I remember every year being incredibly trying but my 6th grade year really opened up my world for how awful kids can really be and also how school systems do not always do what they should do for their students. My mother picked me up at school that afternoon and immediately wanted to know what was wrong and what happened. This was the one time(besides the bubble gum incident) that I physically couldn’t hide what was wrong. I had scratches all over the sides of my face, some of them having broken the skin. I remember just wishing I could close my eyes and disappear because I just didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted it to go away. But, this wouldn’t go away and my persistent mother had to know what happened. And once again, I cried like a baby when I told her that several girls held me down in a bathroom while another used a toilet brush to scrub my face.

I would love to tell you that as a cheerleader, a top band student, a starter on the softball team, being a top student and having a popular football playing boyfriend that I had the perfect time and perfect life in High School. I will never tell you that my adolescence was perfect but I won’t tell you that it was absolutely horrible either. I tried really, really hard to deal with the hard times and I most definitely made the most of the good times. But..just as I did when I was five years old..I cried, a lot.

I didn’t tell you any of my stories so you would feel sorry for me or to get a rise out of you. I told you so that perhaps you could relate and understand that even though it appears like someone has it all or everything is so good..that’s sometimes very far from the truth. I want you to know where my heart sits with my life, my family and my children.

I wanted to be several things when I grew up but ultimately, I just knew I wanted to be happy. I wanted to overcome all of the things that I believed shaped me into who I was. I wanted more. I wanted better. What I didn’t know is that my mind is more powerful than I thought it was.

 “It hurts but that’s all it does. The most difficult part of the training is training your mind.  You build calluses on your feet to endure the road. You built calluses on your mind to endure the pain. There’s only one way to do that. You have to get out there and run.” -David Goggins

Take Action.

It wasn’t until very recently that I truly grasped that I was in charge and that no one was going to do this for me. I don’t know exactly what I had pictured but I guess I thought if I prayed enough that one day I would just wake up and I would just be happy. That’s NOT how it works. You don’t just wake up and everything is hunky dory. It requires a lot of daily effort and more than just praying. If you pray for something, you have to act on that prayer. God will open doors for you but unless you take a step towards entering that door then the door will just continue to be open and you’ll just be standing there..or maybe it will close before you decide to act.

Your life is on you. Just like my life is on me. I will not pretend like my life is perfect now, because that is so far from the truth, I am giggling as I type this. But I can tell you that my self discovery, self love and personal development journey has been the most invigorating and life altering experience I have ever had in my entire life. I know that a lot of the things that have happened in my life could absolutely break a person and I can’t count how many people have told me this. I know that a lot of my childhood and High School experiences were not all that great but they also helped shape me into who I am today. There’s something very powerful about being able to use what most people would use an excuse as fuel for your fire.

Stop making excuses. For yourself and for other people.

Learning to stop making excuses will empower you more than you could ever realize. A lot of the times we say,” Well, this happened so this is why I am the way I am” and that’s the end of it. We don’t move forward passed that point because we decide that there’s a period at the end of the sentence instead of a comma.. We decide that there is this permanent barrier there that we aren’t supposed to cross..but it’s so far from the truth. The comeback can be so powerful if you stop drowning yourself in the excuses you keep making. If it is important to you then you will find a way to make it happen, if it’s not, then you’ll make excuses. And don’t make excuses for the people in your life either, worry about yourself and how you want to be treated. Leave other people to deal with themselves. And if those people are in your way of your ambitions, do them and yourself a favor..boot them.

You are worth so much more.

It all begins and ends in your mind. When you decide that you are worth so much more than the setbacks you have been given, the shift happens. You begin to take control of your life situations when you put your well being first. I think as a mom, this particular nugget was incredibly difficult for me to process. As a wife, mother and homemaker, my whole world revolves around being a caregiver for my husband, children and home. And while that is still my role as a stay at home mother, I’ve learned to create healthy boundaries with it along with my relationships outside of my home. It’s been trying at times but so empowering. When you realize just how in control you can be, a lot of things change and for the better. Life stops happening to you, it starts happening for you. And when curve balls get thrown in your way, your mind set is well equipped to handle the play. And not only that, when you start living with your best self present, everything else has a way of being easier to handle. The pressure is off by trying to please everyone all the time. You see, I live for my family, no doubt..however one of my main struggles has been pouring from an undeniably empty cup. When I decided I wanted more for myself, I began shifting things that filled my cup. Such as girls nights once a month, gym time or even trips every few weeks to get my nails done to give a few examples. Little things like that that help me refuel. I can better take care of my family and do all the things once I am taken care of.

The truth is, I never felt popular or like I fit in growing up even though I tried with ever fiber of my being. I had this idea in my head that if I fit in with the in crowd then my problems would stop. If my name had a space on the roster where all of the popular kids names were, I would suddenly just find peace and happiness. It never happened like that. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, sure, a few things that I loved came to mind and I pursued them..but none of them are as fulfilling as learning how to become who I am today. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have cared about fitting in or any of that. I would have focused on living my absolute best life.

I think about my girls and how I felt when I was in school. I’ve continued to see myself as the same timid little girl who’s anxiety level was through the roof. And ultimately, who thought that all of those things just broke her as a human being. I want my girls to know that they can be strong and do better than I did. And in order for them to learn it, they have to see it. They have to see a strong mama. I have to be strong for them..and myself. It’s a learned behavior and I want them to know from the beginning just how enough they are. I want them to know that experiences they have in their life, don’t have to define who they are. Unlike their mama, they don’t have to be a cry baby.

 

Laser SkinCare of Louisiana

It’s no secret that I am a thirty something year old mama. I’ve literally been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last five years, even though it feels like it’s been longer than that. Before that, my youth consisted of basically getting all of the sleep and sun-kissed skin that I am certainly missing out on now. Did you even live in the 2000’s if you didn’t pay monthly fees to live in the tanning beds? Were you even doing it right if you didn’t have the little kissy lips , heart or a playboy bunny tan line along your panty line? Let’s not forget about all of those tanning accelerators that made you feel like your skin was going to explode at any moment. I can’t count how many times I nearly baked myself to death in a tanning bed or laying pool side. Being tan was in and what can I say..I was with the times.

Being a mama to two little angels who have each nursed for almost two years each and also hate sleep, being 30 and only in the last few years taken up on a good skincare routine have all caught up with me. While I am happy with my skin and over all appearance, I sometimes find myself looking like I feel. Tired and worn out…kinda like the perfect baseball glove but not exactly the look I’m going for or at all really.

Some of you may know this but you are super limited to the things you are allowed to do while pregnant or breastfeeding. I’ve been restricted on what all I could do, use and take for forever..until a few weeks ago when I finally got my two year old to stop nursing. Que the hallelujah choir! To celebrate not breastfeeding anymore, I contacted an old friend of mine who works at Laser SkinCare of Louisiana. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do or what my skin really needed so I sent her a few pictures of my skin and let her decide what I could benefit from the most.

We landed on a procedure called an IPL which is Intense Pulsed Light or also known as a photo-facial. It’s a type of light therapy that’s used for treating and tightening wrinkles or fine lines, sun damage, skin pigmentation, freckles, birth marks, varicose veins and age spots. With each pulse, a bright light passes through the uppermost layer of skin called the epidermis. It draws out the pigment producing cells and disperses the uneven pigment. This procedure can be done anywhere on the body but is most popularly done on the face. It’s gentle yet effective and a long-lasting solution with zero down time.

I was SO excited to try this procedure. Like I said, I’ve developed a lot of freckling over the years from sun damage and least we forget that being pregnant can sometimes lead to developing hyper-pigmentation or “pregnancy mask.” And then Jessica introduced me to this little machine called a Visia. It captures multi-spectral photos of your face. It examines your complexion for enlarged pores, fine lines, wrinkles, rough texture, evidence of bacteria, UV spots from overexposure to the sun and pigment changes in the skin. This sorcery completely blew my mind!

I set my face inside of the Visia, it rotated around my face and began taking photos. When I looked at the screen on the side I was in complete awe at the amount of damage I have on my skin! But sadly, I believed it. Like I said, I knew I didn’t take the best care of my skin for the longest time.

From this point, we moved to the treatment room where I’d be doing the IPL. The treatment bed was super comfortable, I think they actually call it the “Cadillac.” Jessica began by cleansing my skin and prepping it with ultrasound gel for the procedure. I was actually pretty nervous that this was going to hurt but it honestly wasn’t bad at all. No worse than being lightly popped with a rubber band and even that’s over exaggerating.

We focused on my more prominent freckles for my first appointment. Sometimes it only takes 1-2 treatments and other times it needs more than that to eliminate all of the damage. It really just depends on your skin and the frequency used on the machine.

Over the past week I have watched a few places on my face develop into darker spots and begin to simply flake off. Some spots are still a little dark after seven days but I’m confident they’ll be following suit in the days to come. I’ve also noticed that my complexion is brighter and more even in general!

Photo on the left is the first morning after the procedure. Photo on the right is seven days after procedure.

Laser SkinCare of Louisiana offers a variety of procedures and treatments. Dr. Duplechain and his amazing staff are driven towards providing you with only the best of services and helping you fall in love with the skin you’re in. Call today(337-237-1116) to get started and ask about the special of the month that I received or upcoming specials!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. J. Kevin Duplechain