Happy Not-Valentine’s Day

FYI, Last week I took a semi-planned hiatus from the blog because I’ve been feeling directionless and angry and trite. K and I were in Texas for business, too, so I just took the week off. (I still read posts when I could. )

On Tuesday I talked about books and skipped over the Valentine’s Day obligations, so today I want to backtrack. I don’t know how you feel about Valentine’s Day, but I’m OK with having a random day in February to remind me to show some love. (In 2015 I shared the love with all sorts of people.)

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This year K gets all my attention. I met Kyle almost twelve years ago.

❤︎ In all that time he has never made me feel like I couldn’t do something, ability-wise or permission-wise. He doesn’t doubt me.

❤︎ We will celebrate four years of marriage in April. Two years ago some stupid drama knocked me off my horse and made me breakdown mentally. K picked me back up and made sure I knew he was on my side no matter what. It sounds silly, but I didn’t realize his loyalty to me until that moment. He’d pick me first for dodgeball. He’s the co-captain of my Quidditch team. I’d be his “one choice” as far as deserted island companions go.

❤︎ I have always said that I don’t need K and he doesn’t need me. But I will openly admit that my life would suck so much without him. He’s my favorite human. I feel my best when I stand next to him.

❤︎ My husband loves dogs as much as I do. That’s not a learned characteristic. He is a bleeding-heart dog lover and that is my favorite quality in a person. (A direct quote from him on Tuesday: “Dogs aren’t a hobby. They’re a lifestyle.” Lol.)

❤︎ I have been angry and feisty and prayerful these last few weeks. I am an unapologetic feminist and sometimes that means angry rants at the dinner table and frustrated fact-sharing in the car wash queue. And K has endured it all with an occasional mumbled, “Yep” or head nod. I’m politically vocal and he’s reserved, but we’re both unapologetic.

And just for fun…

Who’s older? Kyle.
Who was interested first? My guess is me…
More sarcastic? Neither one of us are sarcastic.
Who makes the biggest mess? K.
What are your middle names? Louise & Geoffrey
Do you have any children together? Ly & Enzo. One was even adopted out of wedlock! *gasp*
Did you go to the same school? Yes, at different times.
Who is the most sensitive? Me.
Where do you eat out most as a couple? JNG. Hands down.
Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple? Jamaica, I think.
Who does the cooking? Me.
Who is more social? K.
Who is the neat freak? I’m not necessarily a neat freak, but I like things to be where they’re supposed to be.
Who is the most stubborn? He says me. I disagree.
Who wakes up earlier? K.
Who drives when you are together? Mostly him, but I do on occasion.
Who eats more sweets? K.

I got through all of that without saying I love Kyle, but I do. We’ve been busy this month with the business and dogs and travel, but I’m never too busy to say I love my husband, even and especially on an average day like February 16th.

Happy Late Valentine’s Day ❤︎

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What I Read… vol. 2

Happy Valentine’s Day ❤︎ What better way to celebrate than loving on the books in my life?

Last time I mentioned that I’d be linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books this year and, therefore, labeling these posts a little differently than 2016’s monthly round-up.

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The way I rate the books and how I summarize them is still the same.

Book Rating

Below I’ll include a brief summary, why I picked up the book, and what I thought. Then I give my oh-so-valuable opinion on whether or not you should read it and why. Images link to their GoodReads page (let’s be friends!). Let’s begin.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis || ★★★★/5 the-magicians-nephew
Summary: The first book in The Chronicles of Narnia, this classic follows Digory and Polly as they discover new and old worlds, as well as the creatures that live there. | Why I Read It: I read this story a long time ago, but I’m working my way through TCofN and this book is the first. Plus it met a requirement for Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: I read another book in this series last year and found this one to be equally enjoyable. I love that this book is the “Genesis” of Narnia. I know not everyone likes it or cares about it, but I enjoy the religious undertones in these books. These books are short and full of storytelling, and I’ll be tackling the remaining five in the series, even though I know I’ve read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe before. It’s a smart, entertaining set of books to revisit.
You Should Read It Because… you enjoy children’s lit. or you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis or you’re in need of a quick yet meaningful fantasy series.

But Polly added, “But we are not quite as bad as that world, are we, Aslan?”
“Not yet, Daughter of Eve,” he said. “not yet. But you are growing more like it. It is not certain that some wicked one of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things. And soon, very soon, before you are an old man and an old woman, great nations in your world will be ruled by tyrants which care no more for joy and justice and mercy than the Empress Jadis. Let your world beware. That is the warning…” -The Magician’s Nephew

Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber || ★★/5 dashing-through-the-snow
Summary: After missing their opportunity to fly to Seattle for the holidays, strangers Ashley and Dash end up sharing a rental car and making the trek north from San Francisco just before Christmas. Things prove to be a little difficult when the unlikely duo face a non-negotiable deadline, a surprise furry companion, and a mix-up with the law. | Why I Read It: I wanted a fun, festive read to kick off Erin’s Challenge. (below) | What I Thought: Holy cheeseball, Batman. This book annoyed me. Ashley annoyed me. Dash annoyed me. The law enforcement annoyed me. BLEH. I felt like the flirty conversation wasn’t realistic. I didn’t like the cat and mouse crap with the law. I just wanted there to be some action and it fell flat. *shrug*
You Should Read It Because… you’re in the mood for holiday fluff. Or you like this author? I don’t know. I won’t be picking this one up again. I don’t think this is my genre…

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin || ★★★★/5 the-westing-game
Summary: 16 “heirs and heiresses” are brought together to solve the mystery that is Sam Westing. The players include a bookie, a birdwatcher, and a bomber… but could one be a murderer, too?? | Why I Read It: I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. I popped into the bookstore before our trip to San Antonio (as I always do before a trip ) and saw it on sale… so I bought it and tossed it in my carry-on. | What I Thought: Whew… I’m glad I tackled this book in a single day because there were SO many characters. I’ve tried to start this book a few times in my youth and I always ended up putting it down and forgetting about it. Not this time! I started figuring out the clues and mystery around page 100, but there were still enough twists to keep me entertained. I loved how the stories weaved together and the friendships developed. To be honest, there were 4 or 5 holes or unanswered questions. I wanted connects to happen where there weren’t any. I gave it four stars because of that untapped potential.
You Should Read It Because… you like the movie Clue. This is a good book for Nancy-Drew-loving pre-teens and teens (and adults)!

. . .

An update on Erin’s 6.0 Challenge:

| 5 points | Freebie: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
| 10 points | Starts with the letter “W”: Winter by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Six words in the title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
| 15 points | Has a (mostly) green cover: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | A homonym in the title: The One by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | By your favorite author: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
| 25 points | Set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
| 30 points | A “Rory Gilmore” book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
| 30 points | From a genre that you’ve never read/rarely read (*thriller*): The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
| 35 points | With time travel: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Ending this post at a total of 40 points out of 200. I have about 250 pages left of Winter. I thought I’d have it done by now, but I needed a break so I picked up The Westing Game. Oh well. It’ll be done by the next one of these 😉

What did you read last month? Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia?

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Friday er, Thursday Favorites

One of the worst parts of this Tu/Th schedule is the loss of Friday alliteration with “favorites” posts. *sigh* I’ll get over it.

Actually, I’m going to start tying this into the ‘Add It To My List’ link-up that happened on Tuesday. I’m late to the party this month, but that’s ok.

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Before I move on to other bloggers’ posts, here are some things across the internet that struck my fancy.

Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Flavored Coffee
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K brought this to my attention and my mouth hasn’t stopped watering. I don’t typically crave whiskey in the morning, but sign me up for this! The description sounds so good! (*It’s non-alcoholic, Mom. Calm down. )

The National Parks Going Rogue

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I made a Facebook status about not believe every headline you read, but I am consciously choosing to believe this. And I love it.

If you haven’t heard, our fearful leader put a temporary gag order on a few agencies. Maybe you hate his “reasoning” (*raises hand*), maybe you agree with it. Either way, this was the response.

And other departments/agencies have followed suit. 😏

Think Dirty – an app

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All credit must be given to Stephanie for this one. She mentioned it in last week’s Three on Thursday. Guys… I’m obsessed with this (free) app. I have searched/scanned all my make-up products as well as my Ulta wishlist. I’ve made a new goal to own products that rank 5 and below on the “dangerous” list. If you’re concerned about what goes into your food and cleaning supplies and make-up then you need this app for make-up/face care.

. . .

Check out some posts from sweet friends (& a celebrity) across the internet who have spoken directly to my heart and soul these last few weeks.

And there you have it. TBH, there were a ton of fantastic posts in January in Blogland. If you have any favorites (or maybe you wrote one that I missed!) feel free to leave the link in a comment!

Linking up with Lauren and Bre for Add It To My List.

Have a Happy Friday / weekend!! ❤︎

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Confessions Plus Some…

Of course now that I’m not posting on Wednesdays I decide to link-up with Kathy & Nadine for Confessions. Oh well…

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I confess that I thought about apologizing for all the political-heavy content or references made this past week or so. But I’m not sorry. And I won’t stop talking politics or sharing what I believe is right. I do NOT support a useless wall. I do NOT support barring/banning people from our country. I will NOT use the term “alien.” People are people. I do NOT support racism or sexism or xenophobia or homophobia. They’re not liberal buzzwords- they’re dangerous ideologies that divide us. I do NOT support thrown together, half-ass, ego-boosting executive orders that hurt and endanger far more people than they help. Jesus taught me to love others as I am loved. So I will. The very best part about this country is that I am allowed to disagree and voice that disagreement. And if / when that right is stripped from me I will still voice my resistance. I do not have to agree with anyone. #RESIST

If you need to stop following my blog that’s ok. But I’m not going to change my tune here in this space.

Moving on…

. . .

I am a terrible hugger. My nearly-life-long friend Aubrey is engaged to a wonderful woman named Alyssa. Last time I saw them we all hugged goodbye and I realized just how terrible I am. Mainly because Alyssa is the best hugger I’ve ever come across. It’s like a warm, strong wrap of friendship. It’s like when someone makes eye contact with you in a conversation and you feel like they’re really listening… except it’s a hug. I’m terrible. I’m the girl that won’t make eye contact and hangs out on the floor with the cat in the corner. My hugs are floppy and short and meaningless. I’m sorry to all my hug-receivers…

. . .

One night I was lying awake in bed, waiting for sleep to come, and I started panicking because for a split second I thought the world was in black and white… The TV was off and I was facing the wall with only the dark wood trim, white blinds, and light colored wall in my line of sight. And I was super tired. Ha… So the lack of color made me panic. I actually thought the world was in black and white.

. . .

I went Christmas shopping for the mutts and told myself they needed nothing, only something small each- maybe spend $20 total. Yeah… right… I spent +$50 on two new nylabones, a toy, and ample treats. In my defense, I thought everything was on sale. (Turns out it wasn’t…. so instead of walking away I just bought it all anyway. UGH.) And then all our family members gifted them Christmas presents so our house is overrun with toys and treats twofold. (I love that we have family who spoil our babies!! )

. . .

I changed jobs and my paydays got all switched around and my system (for paying bills/the mortgage) is totally wrecked. I’m a creature of habit and I’ve been doing the same thing for three and a half years. I am so, so thrown off.

. . .

I can’t wake up in the mornings. It was a 2017 resolution & it’s something I want to do, but I just sleep through alarms until K bumps me and says, “You should probably get up.” And then my morning is rushed and terrible.

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. . .

At times my mouth would make a sailor blush (sorry, family ), but my new job is making it worse. I work with five dudes in a warehouse environment. Filters don’t exist here.

. . .

Somewhat contrary to my previous confession, I think I’m too nice sometimes. Like when I’m calling about overdue invoices (at work) or lost packages (at home). I’m always like, “No problem. It’s ok. Thanks so much for fixing that.” Like, I’m legit pissed before I make the call but then I don’t have it in me to scold someone. Even when they probably deserve it, lol.

. . .

And there ya have it… Some fresh confessions, hot off the press.

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Why Do I Keep Going to Myrtle Beach in the Fall…?

Remember all those eons ago when I talked about our side trip to Charlotte, NC? Yeah… it’s tough for me to recall, too. Anyway… Charlotte was just a pit stop on the way to our main destination: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. **This is a long post 😉

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Just a refresher… in October K and I packed up the car after work and headed to Circleville, OH. We did some Pumpkin Festival fest-ing with my brother and Christina, stayed the night in stormy Lancaster, OH, then took a lap around the NASCAR museum in Charlotte. After dinner at Carolina Ale House we forced ourselves back into the car for the three hour trek to Myrtle Beach. Now you’re all caught up.

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I am a Grade-A, award-winning, hall of fame plan-a-holic. I take relaxing vacations and plan them down to the millisecond, squashing any and all spontinuity out of the experience. But this time I didn’t. I didn’t plan one. single. thing. I made note of fun things we could do, but I put no pen to paper, made no reservations, and formed no expectations. All per K’s request.

F R I D A Y

We got in pretty late on Thursday so the adventuring began the following morning.

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We stayed at The Horizon at 77th – it was one property off the beach and down a side road from N Kings Highway. Our rooms were in that center section. The hotel was in Myrtle Beach, but on the north side which meant we could venture to North Myrtle without any trouble.

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We picked a chilly weekend to visit the beach so we tried to take advantage of the warmest day on the trip. We started off browsing the Tanger Outlets at Hwy 17 and picked up a few Christmas gifts for folks. We also nommed on lunch in the food court and treated ourselves to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

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It was a breezy 80 degrees by 3pm so we packed up the towels, blanket, and umbrella, and walked to the beach.

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. . .

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After a few chapters, a stroll along the coast, and a near-fatal wind+umbrella incident we decided to call it a day. I think we spent an hour and a half on the sand. (That’s the risk you take in October, I guess. )

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We decided to be a little adventurous and try out some new restaurants on our trip. We made a reservation at Aspen Grille for 6:15pm and got spiffy.

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High risk, high reward. Dinner was delicious. It was a slightly expensive meal, but we were 110% satisfied. We ended the night on the couch watching a NatGeo special on Teddy Roosevelt. #excitingtimes

S A T U R D A Y

In hindsight we’ve both decided I should’ve planned something during the trip. Anything, really. We spent the morning at the local Cracker Barrel and then Bass Pro, Books-A-Million (where K bought me two books as a late b-day gift), and a smaller local mall. We also stopped into the Harley shop for K before deciding to visit Boardwalk on the Beach.

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Lunch was at American Tap House where the first conversation in this post happened. K got a burger and I ordered a Thai Chicken Salad.

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Lunch was late in the day and after we finished we decided to just lounge around the hotel room.

For dinner K discovered a restaurant called Boom Boom Wine Room. Um. It was the coolest place.

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Upon arrival they loaded a debit card with any amount you wanted for use in the wine bottle machines. You could then select different wines in different quantities from the machines. (1, 3, and 5 ounce I think). It awesome!

The food was snack-like and we ordered plates of the short-rib nachos, bruschetta, and “buttered scotch” pudding. Delicious.

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S U N D A Y

I am married to an early-rising homebody so by 7:10am we were on the road. We got home without incident before dusk 🙂

. . .

To be totally honest, it was a “meh” trip for us. I’m glad we had the opportunity for downtime together, but we got a little bored. I failed to plan anything fun, we’ve been to Myrtle Beach a handful of times, and there wasn’t much beach-ing. The food was incredible, though!

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Do you enjoy traveling in the fall? Have you been to Myrtle Beach? Have you ever taken a trip that didn’t live up to the hype?

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The Revised 30 by 30

When I turned 25 I made a 30 (things to do) by (the time I turn) 30 list. I threw it together haphazardly and felt a little meh about it, so after a while I removed the page from my blog.

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After some revision and soul searching, I’ve republished the list (^ up there ^) and figured I’d share it here. There are 10 or so things are from the original list- including the few that have been crossed off- but these 30 things are activities or experiences that I’d really like to accomplish before the big 3-0. (Deadline: Oct. 17, 2020)

  1. Read 100 books (26/100)
  2. Visit 5 new cities (2/5; Boston, Charlotte)
  3. Work for K and Pageantry Innovations
  4. Finish writing my novel
  5. Finish Yearly Scrapbooks (2/7)
  6. Take K to Disney World
  7. Take K to Europe
  8. Re-read the Harry Potter series (0/7)
  9. Pay off any and all credit card debt
  10. See the West Coast
  11. Learn the art of making (my grandma’s) pies
  12. Take another cruise
  13. Go horseback riding
  14. Attend a professional sporting event [November 23, 2015]
  15. See Panic! at the Disco live
  16. Attend at least 5 different NASCAR tracks (3/5)
  17. Make something on my sewing machine
  18. Complete Erin’s book challenge
  19. Complete a TBD film challenge
  20. Finish OUAT series & The West Wing & Mad Men & Miss Fisher’s…
  21. Clean junk out: spare room / utility room / basement
  22. Go on a girls’ trip
  23. See Trumpet in the Land (a local outdoor production)
  24. Tryout for a part at the local theater- even if I don’t get it
  25. Start a real, physical, local book club
  26. Find the perfect pair of booties
  27. Ride on a train (again)
  28. Visit the Rock & Roll HOF
  29. Take the dog(s) hiking each fall (Starting 2015… 2/6)
  30. Visit a unique Ohio location not already listed (suggestions )

I feel like I’ve got a pretty terrible start, ha. I’m nearly a year and a half in and I’ve got two-ish crossed off… Oof. That said, I’m working on the books, television shows, cities, races, and hiking. Also, we’re planning a Disney trip for this year (and hopefully Europe in 2018)! So, you know, that’s a start…

I looked at some other 30×30 lists while I was creating mine, but I’d love to know what’s on your bucket list! Do you want to skydive (not me ) or scuba dive or travel the world?

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Truths I Live By…

Sometimes I see bloggers do a “get to know you” picture&post on Instagram for their new followers. While I don’t believe there are many new people revolving through the doors of Life as Louise, I thought I might start 2017 with a list of “truths.” Or just random things I abide by.

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First and foremost, a quick reintroduction.
Name is Audrey. Middle name Louise, hence the blog. I am in my mid-twenties and married to the same guy I took to prom. The loves of my (our) life are short and furry with cold-noses and four paws; we call them Lylee and Enzo. Four and a half years ago my husband started a company. Two and a half weeks ago I left my job and started working alongside him. (It’s still going well and we haven’t killed each other, thanks for asking. )

Other than those basics you should know that I love all dogs, red foxes, & Harry Potter. I love reading, but I’m not the bookworm I used to be. I drink coffee every morning, I eat my veggies, and I’m a huge fan of traveling, although I’m a little iffy around airplanes. (It’s fine. Hand me a boarding pass and I’ll get over it. ) I identify as Christian and human. That said, I prefer animals to Homo sapiens 98% of the time and I truly believe it takes all kinds of kinds.

So onto my truths…

  1. I will judge you by how you treat animals.
    I don’t like judging others, but I can’t help it. If you swerve to hit a groundhog (I’ve seen someone do this ) or you leave your dog out in subzero degrees, I will 100% judge you. And I won’t like you. And also I will steal your dog and re-home him.
    You don’t have to share every lost dog post on FB (although I do ) and you don’t have to be a vegetarian, but you need to respect animals. We were made to coincide with other living things- I don’t jive well with those who have a superiority complex.
  2. All of our stories end the same.
    That’s a nice way of saying we all die. And while I agree that death can be (and usually is) so, so heartbreaking, it’s something that’s 100% guaranteed. So keeping that in mind, life has to be full appreciated and lived. This is not a “Quit that awful job and travel the world” kind of PSA… I’m just saying that while we’re here we should get dessert, hold the door for a stranger, sign up for a random dance class, and love our friends and family fully. When I die- whether tomorrow or in 80 years- I don’t want people to be sad. I want people to feel like I contributed something to the world or their life. I want people to remember funny stories and laugh. I want people to bury my ashes under a tree and say, “See ya later, friend.”
  3. Bad things help us recognize the good.
    If we lived in a world where nothing bad happened I wouldn’t be upset, but that’s just not the case. Like most people, I lose and gain faith in humanity every day. The important part is gaining that faith back when all seems broken or lost; picking ourselves up and finding the motivation to fuel our next move.
    When I was younger I watched my cousin have a meltdown about leaving our grandparents’ house. I tried to explain to her that if she never leaves, she’ll never feel that joy of arriving again next time! My entire family looked at me like I had a second head, but I stand by that ideology. Bad things happen & we often have to do things we don’t like… but it makes the sweet moments sweeter.
  4. Respect & kindness are my religion.
    Well… technically I have a religion. But everything I personally believe is rooted in respect for all living creatures and the spreading of kindness / love / grace to those creatures.
  5. I am loyal to a fault.
    I will always pick on and tease those I love most, but deep down I would put everything on the line for them. And in a friendship or relationship, I naturally expect the same loyalty. I’m not lying when I say I would jump in front of a moving truck for K or Enzo or my best friend or my mom. I would. And when my brother’s heart was broken by girls throughout the years… Lord help those ladies when they crossed my path. I still glare at my best friend’s ex when I see him around town. They broke up +5 years ago and she’s waaaaay over it.

In addition to those, I always try to…

  • be kind to my restaurant server, bus driver, crossing guard, etc.
  • never ever ever litter.
  • remember that rude behavior and nasty gossip will get me absolutely nowhere.
  • always say please, thank you, you’re welcome, and excuse me.

Nothing earth shattering or mind blowing, but if you’ve ever wondered what makes me tick, those are the core things. We all have them. Tell me about your “truths”!

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*Fun fact: I hate the phrase, “Live your truth/Live your best life.” Maybe I should’ve called these mottos? Or values?