Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thoughts...or a Vent...Maybe Both...

I consider myself a calm, thoughtful person. I always think before I speak, sometimes to a fault. Sometimes I'll have entire conversations in my head before even having the actual conversation to think about how some one will take what I say. I'm always so careful not to say or type something that could be interpreted as upsetting.* I make a habit of never actually posting any of my personal, deep opinions on Facebook or any other social media avenue for fear that some one won't respect my right to my opinion and will lash out at me. I'm not a bitch even though sometimes I wish I could be. Let me tell you something though, sometimes being the better person just sucks!

I've had a really rough year. I'm not going to go into details because it's my personal, personal life and I just am not comfortable blogging about all that at this point. But, this year was rough. Could things have been worse, yes! Did my world end, no. But guess what, to me, in my little world, it was hard...really, really hard. I've struggled. I've cried more than I'd like to admit. I've questioned myself and wondered so often if there was something wrong with me. I've struggled with my faith. I've struggled with friendships. I've tried so hard to stay strong and hold on while the storms blew around me. I'm human though. I hurt. I feel. Sometimes too deeply...often to a fault. But guess what, that's ME. Bad and good but it's me. I have to accept that and pray that those in my life can accept it too. 

I've expressed opinions and had them misunderstood. I've even lost friends who I've loved deeply over misunderstandings. I've tried to talk to them and explain my 'side of the story' but I guess it just doesn't matter. I'm not sure why this keeps happening to me. It's made me question so many things (see above). I just don't get it. I'm not a hurtful person. I love my friends deeply and would do anything for them. I often care too much I guess. I never speak up when I'm hurt...even if my feelings are justified. I've found that the few times I do I'm just thrown away like yesterday's trash. It breaks my heart a million times over. I don't understand. I know I'm not perfect. Relationships are rough. Not just marriages but friendships. True friendship is supposed to be about hearing each other out. Being there when some one needs you. Being in tune with what your friend is going through. Listening when they are hurting or confused. Understanding when they screw up. Forgiving when they screw up. Not just willing to toss you aside. Like I said, I just don't understand. 

My goal this year is to walk away from the negative...cut out all those toxic relationships. Sometimes it's so hard to see them too and let me tell you it's heartbreaking to walk away. I hate losing people. Hate it. Maybe it's because I come from a divorced family. Maybe it's because I lost a lifetime of 'friends' when we left our church 11 years ago. (That's a whole different post.) Who knows why it hurts so much. I just know it does. 

You're probably wondering why on earth I'm writing this or sharing it on my blog. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure. Maybe it's in hopes that those friends I lost will see and understand that I still love them. Hoping maybe they care enough to see I'm not a horrible person. Maybe I just need to vent/rant. Sometimes that alone is therapeutic. Maybe I want those others who are like me to know that they aren't alone. Maybe it's my closure...maybe I can finally start healing and move forward. Whatever the reason this is truth from my heart. It might ruffle some feathers, who knows. Honestly at this point I've seemed to ruffle so many that I don't have many others left to ruffle. 

This is me, take it or leave it. I am honest, I am kind, I am compassionate, I am true, I am ME. 

Now I will leave you with some quotes that I found on Pinterest that have spoken to me...who doesn't love Pinterest?! 

*(I've read and re-read this post so many times deleting and rewriting it because I don't want to upset someone. See, I told you! lol) 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Excuse me, I mustache you a question...

Are you part of the facial hair movement? I mean, I'm sure you've seen it...facial hair is all the rage now! Mustaches everywhere! Just take a peek at Pinterest and you'll see what I mean: 

Just a snapshot of the many pins that pop up when you search "mustache." 
To some this facial hair movement is more than just a trend...it's a way of life. Some have even turned it into a business...like Aaron and Jared who founded an awesome company called AJ's Elixirs

Here's what Aaron had to say when I asked him to tell me a little bit about how AJ's Elixirs got started.

My business partner, Jared, and I have been friends for about a decade. We've both always had entrepreneurial minds and have thrown a variety of business ideas around for several years. I'm a childhood cancer survivor and Make-A-Wish recipient, and Jared is the parent of two autistic children who have had some amazing foundations they've been able to work with. As a result, we have always wanted to incorporate a philanthropic approach to whatever venture we started. Enter the world of beards and mustaches!

I've had some form of facial hair for the last 20 years. My go to for several years was a large horseshoe mustache. From there I played with beards, circle beards, goatees, and back to beards. I've always had an interest in high end men's products, from shaving to skin care, and have been fascinated with the rich history of wet shaving, straight razors, mustaches, and beards. Jared has pretty much been the same, and will cycle through products on the hunt for just the right one. He has always been intrigued with various skin-care products, colognes, and shave lines. I had been making my own mustache wax for several years when Jared brought up the idea of a men's grooming company. At this stage I had worn a Verdi style beard (well groomed beard with a distinct styled mustache) for the majority of 5 years. I eagerly said yes, as it was not only a personal interest and hobby, but we knew the men's segment of personal care products was a rapidly growing industry, and there was a need for eco-friendly, organic, and all-natural products. We also knew through experience that the bearding community did so much good, and generated a lot of support for charitable organizations. It was the perfect fit.

Our base recipes themselves set us apart from others. There's a lot of pride in that for us! We did a lot of research and consulted with industry professionals over the course of hundreds of batches to perfect the end products. We've also been using our own product for several years, so of course, we're biased! As wearers of mustaches and beards for over 20 years, we're a picky about product quality and feel. We didn't want oil that would just sit on the hair, but rather, soak in and hydrate while strengthening. It also had to be light, dry, and non-greasy. Our waxes needed to condition, and hold, without the funky scent or properties of petroleum and lanolin Victorian Era formulas. All of our ingredients are non-synthetic natural, and organic. Everything has been made to stack and blend. The perfect beard cocktail, if you will! Our Pre-Shave Oil is top-shelf, and unexpectedly taking off with women. As a result, we will soon be launching an entire women’s line as well.

Being part of the facial hair community is amazing. It is a large, yet tightly knit group - a brotherhood. Competitors are passionate about competing, and clubs are passionate about raising funds for their favorite charities. We have been able to create vast networks and friendships from across the globe. Competitions are a fun way for everyone to get together, catch up, and let loose with those they have met throughout the years. Being a part of that is special, and it means we get to give back in more ways than just the part of the proceeds from every sale that we donate to our charities. There's things that men just don't typically talk about - quality personal care products, and personal men's health issues being two of them. Men try the products and end up opening up pretty fast. It's amazing how most men truly care about what goes on their skin and hair, yet they just don't want to bring it up or discuss it. In our role we get to be educators and philanthropists, in addition to bringing healthy and effective grooming options to men. Mustaches, beards, clubs, competitions and products all with a cause. That's pretty cool, if you ask us! Plus, it's just flat out fun, and we get to have a blast letting loose with the guys while doing it!

Take a look at some of their awesome products! Also, rumor has it that a lot of female customers who love their Pre-Shave Oil. So, it’s not just for men! It absorbs fast, provides a fantastic shave, and leaves your skin silky-soft! The women who use it swear by it! A few of the ingredients in it are Aloe Vera Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and extracts of Chamomile, Calendula, Buckthorn, and Mallow. These provide the oil with soothing anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  


One of the things that sets this business apart is that they regularly donate a portion of their sales to Make-a-Wish and Autism speaks. They have even graciously offered to donate a portion of the sales this month to the Juvenile Arthritis Association. (As most of you know this non-profit is near and dear to my heart since my Monkey has JA. You can read more about our JA journey here.) Not only that but they are offering some amazing incentives for my readers. JAA10 Coupon Code provides 10% Off – Exclusive offer for your subscribers and triggers the donation to your Foundation and Free Shipping on orders over $25.

As you can see, both Aaron and Jared take their facial hair very seriously! They are so serious that they have offered up a $40 gift certificate to one lucky reader! Want to enter for a chance to win?! Just click on the link below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 2, 2015

Setting goals and chasing dreams...

I know that generally goal setting posts are done January 1, but hey, I'm a little behind. To be honest Winter always messes with me a little. I get slow, almost sloth like, not really wanting to do much. I think maybe I was a bear in a past life because honestly, hibernating for the Winter sounds REALLY good! Thankfully though, Spring is just around the corner! Daylight savings is next Sunday! NEXT SUNDAY people! I can see the light! Can you? 

Enough jibber jabber though...I came here to write about finally setting some goals for this year. I have dreams...dreams that I honestly didn't know if I'd see come to life until much later in my life. God knows my heart and graciously dropped one of those dreams right on my lap this past year. Now it's my turn to put in the hard work and be determined to work toward growing and building. So, with that said, here are just a few of my goals (personal and business) for 2015...

~ Drink more water. I'm pretty sure this was on my list last year and I totally sucked at drinking water in 2014. I'm happy to say so far in 2015 I'm doing better!

~ Get active again. There was a time a couple years back that I was exercising every day for at least 40-50 min and eating healthy. I felt SO good while I was doing that and want to get back there. Being a blogger and photographer it's easy to get stuck in the computer chair writing or editing and next thing you know the whole day is gone. I NEED to get up and get moving. One thing in particular I'd like to learn is yoga. Not just light yoga but deep yoga. I've met some amazing yogi via social media and their discipline amazes me. Not to mention they look amazing just from doing yoga. I think yoga would be a good mental exercise for me as well. Focus and balance. Every one needs a little more of both, right?

~ Get organized. I have to laugh a little when I type that out. Anyone who knows me well knows that I struggle with this. I'm a creative person and because of that organization is difficult for me. I often have multiple projects going at once which means glue guns, papers, envelopes, and other crafting paraphernalia all over the place. I want to get better. I know I will never be one of those extreme organized business people but even organized chaos is better than just chaos. 

~ Give back. I want to give back more this year. Whether it's donating funds or supplies to local non profits or even just blessing someone with a photo session who maybe wouldn't normally be able to afford it. I have been given an amazing gift and I want to share it with others. 

~ Write more. I've really slacked this year with my writing. One of my goals last year was to write a book. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not any closer to that goal than I was last year. I know thing change and maybe last year wasn't the right time but I'd still like to work toward that goal. For now I'm going to focus on blogging more. I need to get back to just writing. Writing what I feel and think. Not worrying about what I think others want to read but writing from my heart. 

~ Build more professional relationships. I've met some amazing bloggers and photographers this past year and I am so thankful for their friendship and guidance. I want to grow these relationships and cultivate even more this year. Networking is so important and I really want to reach out and broaden mine. 

~ Stop worrying about what other people think/grow a thicker skin. Yes, I admit it. I really care too much about what people think about me. I'm a people pleaser and I genuinely want everyone to like me. I know that won't happen though and I need to learn to have a thicker skin when I come across those who I'm just not meant to connect with. I invest so much into my relationships...almost to a fault...but it's who I am. I just need to remember that not everyone is like that and try not to take it personally. 

~ Attend some workshops for photography and blogging. I still have so much to learn about photography, running a business and blogging. I am already signed up for one photography workshop and hope to find more to attend this year. I also want to find online resources to learn from as well. 

~ Have my own studio. This is a HUGE goal of mine. While I'd love for this to happen before the end of 2015 I know that it may not. That said, it doesn't mean that I can't work toward this goal. 

~ Realize my worth. By nature I am not some one who is full of self confidence. I need to embrace the talents and gifts that God has given me and be proud. 

I hope that by putting this out into the universe that I will be more driven and motivated to buckle down and make these happen. I am working on a vision board as well to hang where I will see it daily. I know I can reach my goals but I know that in order to do so I have to be focused, determined, brave, undaunted, and intentional.