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.

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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?

Trying to Be Nice

Let’s get real today. There are women in this world who we’d all “love to hate.” Of course, in all actuality, we have no reason to dislike these women- they’re kind, beautiful, honest, friendly, and- in some cases- God-loving. On top of that they’re usually ridiculously creative and they always have the perfect messy bun. Their coffee is always warm and abundant and in a cute little mug that reads, “Stressed, Blessed, and Coffee Obsessed.” Their children are adorable and polite. Their rescue dogs are the perfect blend of Australian shepherd and husky, and their husbands bring them gorgeous white flowers on a random Tuesday to display on their Pottery Barn desk.

You have someone in mind right now, don’t you… Maybe it’s Joanna Gaines. Maybe it’s another blogger. Maybe it’s someone you know in real life. Regardless, it’s a woman who always seems to have it totally put together. And even when she doesn’t, there’s a beautiful smile on her face and she’s asking you what’s going on in your life and how can she help.

So often I wish I was that woman. I wish that I could look at my mantel and just know that a copper bucket with an old wooden spoon and two small succulents would fit perfectly. I wish that I could apply my make-up at 5am and still look like a put-together adult by 3pm. I wish that I was quick to offer grace and mercy to others, instead of the sarcasm and judgement that tend to fly from my lips.

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I’m not trying to get down on myself today… I have quite a few qualities that I’m proud of. They could all use some perfecting, but I like to think that goes for everyone. It just seems like these “perfect” women never slip.

I know that’s not true, but when they do slip they don’t bring anyone down with them. They’re not vengeful. They’re not nasty. They’re not hurtful. Those are three things that I know I can be and have been in the past. Those are the traits I’d like to weed out. As of late, I’m consciously trying to delete the words “jealous” and “hate” from my vocabulary. Do I wish I was participating in the trip/experience/etc. that you are? Yes. But more than that I am genuinely happy that you are getting to have that vacation. Instead of saying, “I’m so jealous of you” I’m trying to say, “I’m so happy for you!” And I’m really meaning it.

Personally, my faith plays a role in this change, too. In the past I’ve never uttered or typed the words, “I’ll pray for you.” But I’ve said it a lot lately- and then I really have prayed for those people. I told K a few weeks ago that I often pray for him. You don’t have to be religious to be nice; it just tends to go hand-in-hand for me.

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I don’t believe that I will ever master effortless beach waves. My dogs are a weird mix of under-bite boxer and scrawny whippet. (Which I wouldn’t change for the world.) I hope that my future kids will be polite, but I don’t think they’ll ever sport a top knot or keep a cardigan on for more than a minute. (It’s too hard to climb trees in a sweater.) I’ve been drinking coffee for +3 years and I still can’t figure out how to keep it warm.

But that’s ok. These things don’t bother me; I don’t feel a need to change them.

I’d like to be nicer, though. I’d like to extend understanding and grace to those who deserve it- and more importantly, those I would have formerly felt don’t deserve it. People won’t stop being rude and nasty, but I can change my reaction. I can stop that cycle of anger and judgement. I can say “thank you” to the waitress who made us wait 20 minutes to order our drinks. I can smile politely at the scowling woman in Wal-Mart who’s shooting daggers from her eyes at me for no reason. I can refrain from gossip. I bet Joanna Gaines doesn’t gossip.

I’m not in the business of comparing myself to others- really, I’m not. But when I see traits in other people that make them shine brighter (inside and out), I tend to gravitate toward that behavior or outlook or lifestyle. It’s my path to self-improvement.

Then again, if anyone has the secret to perfect hair and well-behaved dogs I’m open to that, too… Just saying.

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