Wednesday, January 14, 2015

If You Are A Parent: You Need To Read This.

Shiloh took pictures of me at the park after school today.
"Mom, what would you do if I drop your new camera?"
"Shiloh, don't even ask me those questions. That's not an option."
Today our schedule looked a lot like most days do.

Mike gets up and takes the kids to school (Bless him. He knows I can't wake up early.)
We work at our offices until about 5:30.
I pick up kids from school or my mom's house depending on the day.
We come home and do homework, eat, get ready for bed.

Sometimes it seems so routine and mundane I feel like the small things I do like laundry and tucking in at night and making dinner are just a drop in the bucket that just have to be done but don't affect anything. Sometimes actions as a parent seem unnoticed. I didn't realize all that went into being a mom until I became one… and even now, I don't ever fully know what I'm doing.

I know that you guys aren't fully aware of the affects you have in  your homes, because I hear you.
I read your emails, literally every comment you make on my social media accounts, and I know that you have hard days. I know that you get tired, and frustrated, and feel like your days have gone to crap sometimes and that no one notices the valiant efforts you have made.

I have news for you.
And it comes from my kid. The very people we are trying to live our lives for.
Here's the news:


Right on my table this morning, I saw this.

The things that Zoe chose to write about her dad were these things,

"He helps us get to school on time."
"He taught me to play soccer."
"When I read to him, he is impressed."
"My dad is extra special because he tucks me in at night."

YOU GUYS! My dad us extra special because he TUCKS ME IN AT NIGHT.
Not because of all the wordly things, not because of all the big magnificent things we spend our time trying to become… but he's special because he tucks me in at night.

All of the things that we never think matter, or are a checklist of just to-do's…
are the things that are most important.

You're daily routines are noticed. They are needed by your sweet kids who's lives have been entrusted with you. And with everything you could be doing in the world, what impacts them most are the little moments you choose to spend with them, teach them, and let them know that they are most important.

Our lives are beautiful. And simple. You make an impact.
So when you are driving to school early tomorrow morning, and picking out smashed gold fish from your car seats, and tackling kids to get into baths and cooking another burnt meal,
You are creating a beautiful life for your children, and they feel it.
And you are extra special.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

4 Ways to Improve Your Relationship in 2015

At midnight you ran over to your honey, smooched him good, and rang in the new year.
Some of you smooched him better than the others, while the rest gave an obligatory kiss.
When you're in a relationship for a while, sometimes things to get in the same  routine, and unknowingly we put less effort into our relationship that matters the most.

Here are 4 Ways to Improve Your Relationship in 2015:

1- Go to bed at the same time: Just this morning, Mike rolled over in bed and said, "You know what my favorite thing is? Going to bed at the same time together." For us, going to bed at the same time has led to better nightly prayer together, late night conversations, and the unity of ending your day with each other. This is something we were counciled to do before we tied the knot, and is something that we have tried hard to see through.

2- Have nightly activities you do together: Our kids go to bed at seven. Which means that unless we want a babysitter every night, we are house bound for the rest of the night. Sometimes I get stir crazy because I can never sit still. Instead of turning on the tv, surfing pinterest or checking Instagram for hours, do something meaningful together. My husband bought a bunch of two person games we play together. You guys, it's actually embarrassing how many hours a week we play Scrabble. But it is so fun, and has become our thing. Put wagers on the games you play, it makes them more interesting :)
I also bought myself a book for Christmas and gave it to Mike to give to me. Ha. Its called You, me, us. You fill it out every night together and its really fun and cute. Having something to do together when the kids are in bed creates important bonding time that helps you remember just how fun your spouse or significant other is.

3- Go on dates: Get ready. Put on your little black dress. Go to a nice restaurant, or make a picnic, and get out of the house and DATE EACH OTHER. Just like you did in the beginning stages of your relationship, the wooing needs to continue.

4- Text each other cute messages through out the day- This is sappy, it's fine. The other week Mike sent me the sweetest message while I was at work and I literally caught myself grinning from ear to ear. Let your love know why you love them. What did they do that day that you appreciate? Tell them. Remind them why they are so dang awesome. 

Love is a great thing. Sometimes we forget and it feels like a chore.
Keep it fresh and alive by not allowing it to become something mundane. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This Is My Year.

photos by Tell The Birds
use code "myyear" for 10% off through the weekend!!!

I'm sitting in my yoga pants on the rainiest day Phoenix has had all season. 
For some reason, almost every year it's warm except for on New Year's Eve and everyone gets stressed out because we're not used to it being below 60 degrees and we're definitely not used to moisture.
It's not anticipated, and it's not expected and the city is on the phone with each other asking 
"NOW what are we going to do tonight?!"
I think that's why everyone likes the idea of a New Year so much. We get to look back on the times it has stormed on our parade throughout the year, get a good laugh because enough time has passed from the initial sting of things, and realize what a blessing all of our trials were because of where we are now.

In 2014 I almost gave up several times. Or, I felt like giving up, but in my heart of hearts knew that I actually wouldn't. 2014 was a tremendous trial and error. It was full of blessings of learning, loss, anxiety and triumph. 2014 set me up for this coming year. Because 2015 is my year. 
It's your year, too. Because we've been prepared for it and can handle trials and set backs better than we used to. It's our year because our path has led us here, and we're about to let ourselves loose.
But there were times where my course and path seemed up in the air.
Here are 5 times I almost gave up in 2014:

Near the beginning of the summer, literally every, single, thing that could fall into place in my life and my business did. My sister worked for me full time during it all, and I remember calling her one day crying saying, "I feel like I'm in a dream. This is all too good to be true, how could everything possibly be this perfect right now?! I hate to say it but I'm actually nervous that it's about to all crash down because this kind of stuff just doesn't happen all at once."
I soon learned that my nervousness was real. I was being prepared for one of the hardest next few months I have ever faced in my life. These months ended up teaching me how strong I am, what my potential is, and how aware God is of me.

1- There was a week this past year that my family and I were all on a work trip together, but also had a major family situation going on that was out of our control. It was a time that had been prayed about for months, counseled on by people who I needed for help, and was a very high anxiety time for all of us. 
Early one morning I woke up in my hotel bed and I couldn't breathe. I emotionally was so stressed, anxious, and upset that physically it was inflicting some of the most pain on me that I have ever felt. For the next few hours I struggled for breathes of air, while my heart burned in a way that it got to a point where I thought I was dying from a heart attack. I've never been consumed by so much fear, and physical and emotional pain as I was in that moment. It was literally destroying me.
The firefighters got to our hotel room, and after a series of tests told me that all my vitals were normal.
How could they be normal. I feel like I am going to die at any moment.
On the way out one of them looked at me and said, 
Have you been under extreme stress lately? I think you're having an anxiety attack.
And so it was. My body couldn't handle the emotional turmoil I was inflicting on myself and it was something that I couldn't control. After that I struggled with figuring out if I can be the type of mom I need to be, run a business, and have the type of crazy life that we do. 
The struggle lasted a very, very long time.
But here I am, and my fear didn't win.

2- We had been talking for several months about partnering with someone and were making plans to have outside help to make The Shine Project explode this coming year. We spent a lot of time on planning and getting things together for something we thought was a good fit at the time.
Long story short, it wasn't a good fit. At the end of the summer I was left to hurry and plan our holiday, try to scrounge up a new website, and figure out the beginning of what 2015 was going to look like for us. One night I got home late and told my husband that I don't think I could work this hard anymore, that I was tired and wondered if it was worth it. He reminded me of why I do this.
I decided to keep pushing through, and a couple months later we had the best holiday season we could have ever anticipated, providing us with what we need to make 2015 the best year yet.

3- For the first half of the year we put most of our time and resources in to a summer of doing custom sorority events and sales. I flew around the country during the summer selling at sorority events, and at one time was gone for 45 days with only a day or two at home during that time. It was tiring, and we were counting on a very high volume of sales. Well, we over projected. During one of the trips was when I had my anxiety attack and I couldn't even work the show, my husband had to. Because the product was custom for the sorority we were selling to, if things didn't sell, we were then left with a lot of product that we paid for. I invision taking a huge wad of cash and flushing it down the toilet crying as you say goodbye. That's what the sorority tour felt like. We did okay, but not good enough to have that be the major thing we focused and planned for all year. I was devastated, I was tired, and I was so frustrated that I didn't know what I was willing to keep sacrificing to keep The Shine Project going.

Since all of my major set backs last year happened in the same time frame, there were moments where I felt like I was going to be consumed by the hurricane of life and I didn't know how to climb out of it.
My little fight in my wouldn't quite. Every time I wanted to, I knew that I actually would never stop pursuing my dreams and goals of what type of company I want to own. 

This has led me to where I am right now.
In my yoga pants.
Excited for 2015.
Excited for the failures I saw last year and the major success that over powered it all.
For the times of learning and growth that made me realize life is just hard. It doesn't matter what you do, it's hard for everyone and sometimes when things are beyond your control you can really feel overpowered. You'll have your moment, and then all will be right with the world again. 
I've learned in 2014. I'm stronger, and I'm trying to be better.


Join our community on Instagram and tag #theshineproject #thisismyyear so we can see what you've overcome and what you're going to accomplish in these next 12 months. 
2015 has been waiting for you.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

AZ 529 College Savings Plan

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! For me, it's always been so special to see the expressions on the faces of the people who are opening gifts that I have put together for them. It's my favorite part of the holiday season. I love how people around the world are more focused on giving and and blessing others during this time of year. If we all were this concerned about those in need the entire year… WOW… Even more people would be helped.

Every holiday season, and in the fall, we focus on giving college scholarships to our inner city students who we employ. All year we work really hard to raise money for them, and the crowning moment of all the effort that goes into that is being able to present a check and allow our youth to attend another semester of college, creating a future for themselves.

During this time of year, as you are giving, and looking for tax deductions, there is a contribution that you can make called a 529 college savings plan. You can open it for your child, or donate to another childs plan. This is done through ACPE who works with Waddell & Reed, Fidelity, and College Savings Bank. You can enroll online here. Like donating to a charity, contributions to a 529 plan are tax deductible and over the past year there has been an increase to the allowable tax incentives, a new aspect recently being highlighted. 

I encourage you to go download a planner here! 
There is nothing better than a higher education. I see the effects that it has on people, and it's importance. Whether you start planning for your own childs education, or help someone else's, go see what the plan is all about! I want nothing more than to see my children have opportunities that only a college education can bring, and I know that education is the gift that never stops giving. I'm grateful to spend time with our youth that our non profit benefits, and to see the positive effects that working towards a higher goal, and learning has on them. Help the future of your children and learn more about #AZ529 plan.