Live Your Best Holiday Life Finale

As I mentioned earlier this month, Alexandra and Shea hosted this mindful month-long challenge and I decided to participate. Their LYBHolidayL challenge was a relaxing and healing way to take on November and the holidays 🙂 Now that it’s over, here’s how I finished the month out! (Check out the first half here!)

To kick us off, here’s the second half of the gratitude log:

November 16 – Set a bedtime alarm to prioritize sleep.
We dropped the ball on the 16th because we were catching up on the last few episodes of The Mindy Project, but we’ve been going to bed around 10pm every night which has been good for us!

November 17 – Share a gratitude quote on Instagram that speaks to you, inspire others!

November 18 – Take a load of items you no longer use to Goodwill/another thrift store!
After the move I made a pile of donation items. Of course I haven’t done anything with them. Until today 🙂

November 19 – Go for a fall walk
This day was m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e. I definitely didn’t go on a hike. I went shopping. Ha. But next month I’m doing a girls’ weekend at a cabin with my friends & I’ll take my fall/winter walk then!

November 20 – Allow yourself a small indulgence this week (a sweet treat, a long bath, an item from your wish list)
I might have grabbed a Three Musketeers while checking out at the grocery store.

November 21 – Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
My nails are partially gelled (because I picked some of it off), but my toes were holding on to polish from… September? I didn’t repaint them, but I did strip the polish off my feet and give my toenails and cuticles some love.

November 22 – Unexpected color combo: pumpkin & blush
I had no blush items in my closet. K and I tried to take a mirror selfie just to record my outfit for the day, but we obviously need some practice. Lylee looks straight up lost.

November 23 – Put your phone away and just be present today… Facebook and Instagram can wait
Sooo… I kept my phone away as far as texting, IG, and FB were concerned… but Animal Crossing just released their Pocket Camp app and I’d be lying if I said I avoided that all day 😉 In my defense, I bonded with my cousins and K’s siblings and cousins over the app!

November 24 – Take a few minutes to look at old photos and reminisce
I’m in the process of setting up my office at home and every time I open a box or folder I find senior pictures of friends or prom pics of K and me. So sweet 🙂

November 25 – Have a hot cocoa date with your significant other, best friend, or other loved one
K and I woke up early to hit a hardware store. We swung by Starbucks for some cocoa (for him) and a latte (for me) before we made the trek!

The gel on my thumb is still intact so it makes for good pics 😉

November 26 – Call, text, FaceTime, etc. a friend or family member that you are not able to see this holiday. They’ll be glad to know that you are thinking of them!
As strange as it sounds, almost all my family lives near me. My uncle lives in St. Louis but he was home and we had a Thanksgiving lunch with him this day! Coincidence? I think not!

November 27 – Hand write a letter or note telling someone how grateful you are for them & why
Done!

November 28 – Discuss with family existing ideas for new holiday traditions, planning ahead will make pulling it off next month easier!
My brother & his wife live two hours away but come home for Christmas Eve and morning. This month we discussed his plan and now I know when he’ll be around and what dates we’ll have him in town for celebrating! (They head to her family for Xmas night and the days that follow.)

November 29 – Schedule 15 minutes to de-stress, break out that grown up coloring book
These are my favorite kind of puzzles to do. I can sit and fill these in for hours. De-stressing with a fill-in puzzle is the perfect 15 minute break!

November 30 – Try a new coffee, tea, or coffee creamer
I bought a new amaretto creamer! I don’t usually put anything but milk or half&half in my coffee, but it’s been a nice treat!


Thank you so much, Alexandra and Shea, for hosting this challenge! I definitely fudged some stuff in the second half, but the daily challenges were a reminder in self care and preservation. I definitely needed that this month.

Next month they’re keeping the fun going with these prompts!

I’m excited to join in when I can 🙂

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To My Friends & Family

I am head-over-heels in love with this season. I enjoy dreary weather, I like the cold, and I live for the last three months of every year. I know there are plenty of people like me out there, but I also know there are not.

In addition to the daily chaos and hardships of life, the holidays add stress for people. Moms and dads feel pressure to make their homes magical for their kids. Bloggers see pictures of other bloggers’ decorated trees and hearths and homes. Instagram is filled with tightly wrapped presents and perfectly decorate cookies. I saw Bad Moms Christmas in theaters a few weeks ago and the premise- people (moms) are under a ton of stress to make the holidays perfect- is so true. Hell, people are under stress 365 days a year to make their lives (seem) perfect!

Right now I feel like a lot of my friends- real life and in the blog world- are fighting their way through tough ass seasons. Unfortunate health diagnoses or slow healing-injuries, parents pulling their hair out over rebellious toddlers or cranky babies, sick pets and struggling friendships or relationships and turmoil within the family… Everyone is going through something and it hurts my heart to see my loved ones plagued with these struggles.

I struggle with that fact that some people just aren’t happy. We only get one life to live and the idea of mucking our way through in a state of constant unhappiness makes me so upset. No one can be sunshine and rainbows all the time, but in general I want people to be joyful. I’m one of those people who feels like the weight of everyone’s happiness falls on my shoulders and, while I know that’s untrue and unhealthy, it affects me deeply when my friends are down and out.

I can’t control you or your life or the things that happen to you, but I do know that what you’re going through is a season and seasons pass. The Christmas season is a wonderful one for me, but it won’t stick around forever. The next season will be better or worse and have it’s own arsenal of curveballs, but it will arrive and I will deal with it and, eventually, it will pass. And with every season we learn something new.

So, my friends, don’t fret. This season will pass. Whether you wait it out or turn the page yourself, you will come out on the other side and things will be different. Perfect? No. But it’ll be different and you can look back (or not look back), and be grateful for where you are now. Love yourself and give yourself grace along the way. Practice kindness and accept help from others. I guarantee you are loved by someone (possibly me!) and that person is rooting for you- whether you know it or not.

If you’re reading this and you’re a close friend and you feel like you’re struggling, I hope you’ll reach out. I know the holidays can get dark and overwhelming but I promise I’m always free for a phone call or text exchange or mailed Christmas greeting. There’s always room around our holiday table and I definitely don’t mind a dinner date with a friend ❤︎

Try not to spend the holidays (or your life) faking a smile- find a way to crack a genuine one. You don’t have to have a perfect tree or a perfect home or a perfect Instagram. You’re loved just the way you are and you’re doing a great job. Life is difficult and you’re doing it- be proud of yourself.

Live Your Best Holiday Life Update

(or LYBHolidayL from here on out.)

Alexandra and Shea are hosting this wonderful, mindful, month-long challenge and I’m doing my best to slow down and participate. October was a hectic & rough month for me. I had fun, but it was at the expense of my patience and sanity. I’m determined to finish out the year in a better state mentally. Alex and Shea’s LYBHolidayL challenge has helped so much with that. Since we’re halfway through, I wanted to share an update!

November 1 – Make an effort to write down one thing you are grateful for every day or week

November 2 – Read this article about raising Thankful kids

November 3 – Do something to welcome the Thanksgiving season
I packed up the Halloween decor and brought out the fall and winter stuff (but nothing too Christmasy yet). We have some Thanksgiving-themed decorations so I’m letting those hog the spotlight for a while. 🙂

(also includes day 1 & 2 of gratitude!)

November 4 – Make pumpkin waffles for breakfast/brunch/breakfast for dinner
Kyle doesn’t like pumpkin flavor so he got french toast.

November 5 – Shop your closet and try to come up with a couple of new outfits from old pieces
I’ve seen other bloggers try this. It was fun to take the time to put these together!

November 6 – Give back this month: decide as a family how to “give back” to your community
It’s not much, but this year when Christmas shopping I will say “yes” any time a cashier asks if I want to round up my change or donate a dollar to xyz organization. Also, our holiday cards came from paper culture and they plant a tree for every order 🙂

November 7 – Schedule in 30 minutes to curl up with a good book
This was great timing. We left on the 8th for a business trip so I needed the reminder to just STOP and relax for a bit with a book.

November 8 – Take a Break: Get your Hygge on
I bought both the Hygge book AND this activity book a while ago. I worked on some puzzles during our drive to Indy since I couldn’t do anything in our home while on the road.

November 9 – Let go of one thing you feel obligated to do, attend, or complete this month.
There’s a Christmas tree festival in my town that happens every year during this week. I try to go every year and I feel like I missed a crucial party of preparing for Xmas when I forget about it or don’t have time to go. This year I’m just saying the heck with it 🙂 I don’t want to go so I’m not gonna.

November 10 – Treat yourself to a new, yummy-smelling candle
I had to postpone this one until we were home, but I finally lit my new Spiced Apple Toddy candle from B&BW!

November 11 – Clean out your fridge & get it holiday food influx ready!
I actually did this one early! Before we left I cleaned out the fridge for the house/dog sitter!

November 12 – Give someone an unexpected gift
We came home from Indy with extra stickers and lanyards so I took them to my grandma’s house and gave my cousins some of our new merchandise.

November 13 – For today, clear your to-do list of all the non-fun things unless they are absolutely essential!
Since we spent 5 days on the road with customers and clients we decided to nix the alarm clocks this morning. I consider waking up to an alarm to be very un-fun.

November 14 – Start making a holiday gift list
Already started the list AND the shopping 🙂

November 15 – Get started on an Advent calendar, or a similar project for another holiday celebration!
Stephanie shared some AWESOME advent calendars… so I think I might need one of those. I’m also brainstorming some other cute Advent or Christmas countdown activities!


At the end of November I’ll share a final post 🙂 Until then, I invite you to join in (even just for a day or two) and slow down this holiday season!

A Daily Dose of Laughter

I would venture to say that the majority of my friends and family would not describe me as “jolly.” On the contrary, I tend to be an awkward mix of volatile and passionate. I’m not a fan of physical touch and I infuse sarcasm in 95% of my conversations. While I firmly believe I am (mostly) a good time to be around, I also know that I’m not the always-smiling, always-bubbly girl at the party unless there’s lots of alcohol. (I’m usually the quiet one on the floor in the corner with 8 dogs.)

All of that to say, if you’re like me and not in the habit of joking around and smiling on a daily basis (especially during these dark times), I believe we should be. We all deserve to have at least one big belly laugh a day. Not a polite smile or a forced chuckle- a genuine, outburst of laughter.

True to my introvert ways, I often find something hilarious to laugh at when I’m all alone. Jimmy Fallon videos, inappropriate Reddit threads, dog and cats videos… All of those are total winners for me. That said, laughing alongside my husband or best friends is my most preferred laughter outlet.

Some people laugh a lot (is it weird that I’m jealous of those folks?) and this is an unnecessary reminder, but for those of you who go a day or a week without fully utilizing every part of your lungs for a laugh, try to change it up. If you only have three minutes watch a Youtube video. If you’ve got a few hours pop in a comedy or meet your funniest friend for lunch. (Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, yet? I was gasping for air, crying & laughing.)

I don’t do it as often as I should, but laughter does the soul good. We could all benefit from a little more joy. Tears from laughter always trump tears of sadness or anger or fear. (Pun possibly intended…?)

*Suggestion: While SNL is killin’ it right now, avoid those clips during your daily dose of laughter. Personally, those clips make me smirk- not belly laugh. They’re awesome and hilarious and so on point, but they can stir up outrage, too, and that’s not the emotion we’re going for in these few moments of hilarity.

So if you’re like me and you forget to make laughing a priority in your day-to-day schedule, this is your gentle reminder to sit down for a second and enjoy something funny. The heavy stuff is always going to be there and sometimes we just need a break!

Everything is Great

The creativity bug has been on vacation these last few weeks… Most of my posts have been lists or recaps or link-ups. All those things are great, but I usually try to throw in an opinion piece or heartfelt rant here and there. I’ve just been so tired. We’re both healthy and safe and happy, so I feel terrible complaining, but I really am exhausted right now.

You know how some people get tired and sad during the last half of winter but suddenly perk up in the spring with all the sunshine and rain and blooming flowers? Yeah- I’m the opposite. I hate this season and it totally drains me. Plus, Thunderstorms + Lylee = Audrey on the couch all night with a trembling dog and maybe 3 or 4 interrupted hours of sleep.

It’s also our gateway into the “crazy season” with the business. And tax season. (Sweet Mother of Pearl, don’t get me started on the taxes we owe this year *sob*) Anyway… stress levels are HIGH and there’s very little separation of personal and professional and canine stress at the moment.

So that’s what’s going on with me right now. Ha.

But in other random news…

Lylee went to the doggie spa (read: groomers) for the first time and had her nails professionally dremeled. It was taxing on both of us, but she was happy at the end and her nails looked good. So that’s a win.

We host an Easter meal at our house for K’s side of the family so I’m gearing up for that. People are always eager to bring sides so it’s never too much stress on me 😉 This year I’m going to make a mashed potato casserole, carrot bread, and decorated eggs! We’re either going to have brisket or a pork shoulder… I hate ham so the perk of hosting Easter is eliminating it from the menu 😀

Our 4 year anniversary is on the 27th of this month. K planned last year’s outing so it’s my turn this year. (I don’t know when we started taking turns…?) Any ideas for me?

And with that I’m off to try meditation (or a bottle glass of wine) and hopefully enjoy the weekend with family and friends and church 🙂

What are your weekend/Easter plans?

I Can’t Think of Anything to Say But ‘Thank You’

I wasn’t planning on posting today, but the amount of feedback and love and advice I received on Monday was so overwhelming. Originally I had a little “thank you” sentence added to Wednesday’s post but I decided that just wasn’t enough.

I write in this space because it helps me collect my thoughts and express my opinions or imagination in a structured way. When I started Life as Louise (just over two years ago) I wasn’t sure it’d attract any traffic but I didn’t care- I just wanted a space to call my own and write creatively. The people that I’ve ‘met’ and now interactive with almost daily are such an unexpected bonus. You guys are the sweetest souls and I feel so happy when I get to connect with you, both here and on your blogs. I really, really appreciate your thoughts from Monday and I feel so lucky to have this community of supportive, intelligent women. You are all truly wonderful friends. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I feel so grateful for this blog and everyone that takes the time to visit and interact here 🙂

(Even if you’re not a comment-er, I’m glad you’ve stopped by!)

I typically have a list of blogs saved to my “favorites” on my computer than I visit most days. When new people interact with me or I see interesting comments on other blogs I visit those writers and sometimes add them to my list. (Just FYI if you were curious about my following habits.) Even if you don’t get a notification, I always respond to blog comments here.  It might take me a week, but I try to address everyone that stops by and leaves a thought.

I’m happy to know what topics interest people most- thank you for taking the time to address that on Monday! I’d planned on continuing to “just be me” in this space, but it seriously warmed my heart to hear how many people look forward to coming here and reading because they see me as genuine or honest or real. You guys are the most wonderful humans ❤︎

I’m happy to be in the smaller pond of bloggers (not that I consider you guys small- I’m just defining myself here). I’m glad that I can write whatever comes to me and I feel so awestruck that people actually enjoy it. Thank you for your kindness and friendship. I never imagined this outcome when I started blogging.

So before I go, I’ve seen some other bloggers do this and I absolutely love it: I always send Christmas cards to friends and family! I’ve connected with so many amazing people here & this year I want to extend my mailing list to blog-friends, too! (Essentially it’s a holiday card with two of the cutest puppies ever on it… 😉 ) Don’t be shy- if you want a Christmas card this year shoot me an email with your address! audreylou09@gmail.com
*(I think it goes without saying, but obviously I’d keep your address 100% private!)

Ok, I’m off to hit up my third Thanksgiving dinner.
No comments today since I’m still warm and fuzzy from Monday❤︎

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How to Get Happy

Today I was going to post about how I’ve fallen into a mid-Fall slump. Don’t get me wrong- I love this time of year- but the recent election and my persistent acid reflux issues and the trivial pressures of the holiday have me somewhat deflated. I just feel so tired and drained by the end of the workday, and chores have gone by the wayside. I don’t know- I just feel very bleh right now.

Originally I was going to make a whole post out of it, but then I came up with a different idea. Instead of describing my mood, I’m going to share with you the ways I try to pull myself out of these ruts. Maybe these can help you, too!

Go get some coffee.
Right now my closest Starbucks is 35 minutes away, but sometimes I just need the road trip + coffee splurge to lift my mood. Sometimes just a quick trip to McDonald’s for an iced caramel coffee does the trick.

Wander around your favorite store(s).
After getting a warm holiday latte it never hurts to wander around Target or HomeGoods or World Market or Hobby Lobby.

Hang out at the library.
There are times I feel worse when I leave Target or Barnes & Noble with a $400 dent in my checkbook (let’s be real- we’ve all gone in to browse and walked out with enough to furnish a new apartment) so instead of shopping I go to the library.

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Clean the house.
Is that weird? Sometimes organizing and checking things off my to-do list is the only thing that makes me feel better. I love clean sheets and organized closets and an empty sink. When I get into ‘crazy clean mode’ K knows to leave the house and let me go nuts with some loud music and wine.

Get out of town & spend some time with your girls.
A few of my very best friends live +2 hours away so it’s easy for me to pack a bag and kiss K goodbye for the night. Whether we go out for drinks and dancing or hanging out on their couch with a movie, it’s the mini-getaway I need to rejuvenate my spirit.

Be alone.
I love my friends and I adore K, but I recharge in complete solitude. Reading a book, binge-ing on Netflix, or taking a nap is the only way to fix my super low moods.

Bath + Glass of Wine + Candles
I don’t think I need to explain this one.

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Listen to the Right Music For My Mood
Sometimes I need some heavy rock that keeps tempo with my boiling blood. Sometimes I need Disney tunes to belt out at the top of my lungs. Sometimes I want Frank Sinatra crooning at me through the speakers. It’s all a matter of picking the right playlist.

Buy Myself Something New
Nothing big or fancy: a snarky coffee mug, a new book, a half-priced purse from Marshalls. Something that I really want that makes me feel prettier or smarter or happier in that moment.

Go On A Walk or a Hike- Or Take the Dogs to the Dog Park
Seeing my dogs enjoying themselves in nature or playing chase with another large group of dogs always makes me smile. There’s something about watching another creature enjoy itself that makes me warm inside.

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I’ll snap out of my funk soon enough, but combining a few of these things always helps. This weekend I’m seeing my best friends and spending time at the wilderness rehab center, so I should definitely be in a happier mood for Turkey Day!

Tell me what you do to get happy!

My thoughts & love are with all my southeastern US blogger-friends right now. Stay safe, guys ❤︎
I’m praying they get the fires under control soon..

Also, Happy Birthday to my beautiful mother-in-law!

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