When We Make Plans, God Laughs!

God_LaughsToday, I have it on my heart to share with all of you an amazing story of love and blessings. One of my younger sisters has always wanted children since we were very young. It was something she always spoke of and could hardly wait for. Her huge heart was ready to love lots and lots of babies, but unfortunately, soon after she was married, she found that her dream family was going to be a lot more difficult than the average family.

After going through all sorts of medical treatments, her and her husband decided on Invitro Insemination as the method to start their family. I wont go into too much detail, but her twin boys were born happy and healthy. A bit later, they decided to have another child through this same method. Another son was born and they now have three beautiful and healthy children.

They felt so blessed and overjoyed to have all those little feet running around. They felt that their family was complete, and they were so blessed. However, just when we decide that our life is exactly how we want it to be and everything is planned out, God tends to laugh, and remind us that really, our lives are in his hands.

Recently my sister called to share some news with me. She was feeling very sick, gaining wait, and decided to take a pregnancy test. The miracle in all of this was that, without any help, any medical care, and certainly without their usual method of invitro insemination and lots of prayers, they had become pregnant! Fast-forward to today when she was finally able to get an appointment with her doctor to check everything out. Today, she found that she has a healthy little baby growing inside her! What a fantastic little miracle.

This little story serves as a reminder that in our darkest hours, we are still loved. When we least expect it, miracles happen. When we make plans, God laughs! And most importantly, love is all around us.

Don’t forget to head over to With Love Paper Goods for Sara’s post today as part of our 28 Days of Adding Happiness series. Much love!

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Monday’s Are Magical

Mondays are MagicalIt’s been a few weeks since I posted up a Monday’s are Magical post. I really had intended to put one out soon, but sometimes when life is good, you just have to spend your time soaking it up!

The last couple weeks have been pretty magical in general. I’ve found new sources for canvas tote bags, and the new bags are even stronger and more durable than the last bags, plus they are white, and the straps are longer. They hang so nicely! They are really taking the glitter well, and they look so sharp! Here is a sample tote I created out of pure excitement:

Love Tote With the new glitter and foil coming in, I was inspired to create some t-shirts. At first I started with a prototype using a t-shirt I had in my closet. Unfortunately, I don’t think Old Navy would appreciate me selling their shirts, so when I discovered how many people loved the prototype, I ended up sourcing t-shirts for the shop. The initial response was so overwhelming, that I was able to offer a discount for the entire group! That’s pretty fantastic! The shirts will be in this week so that I can begin working on the orders, but in the meantime, here I am in the prototype:

Trophy Wife T-shirtThings just keep getting better and better. I’ve had a ton of inquiries in the Etsy shop, and just last night, I got a really big surprise. I’m not an INTERNATIONAL seller having made my first sale to a sweet lady in Australia last night. Apparently, I’m kind of a big deal! I could not be more excited about that! I practically had to pinch myself because some days it’s hard to believe that this is real life and that I left my 9-5 for this amazing life!

As you may have read yesterday, I just announced a new project collaboration with a Sweet lady named Sarah who lives in the Nashville area. Her adorable shop, With Love Paper Goods, is so much fun! The two of us will be teaming up to bring you 28 Days of Adding Happiness, because everyone knows we can always choose to be even happier than we are. It’s a project that is so dear to my heart, and I can’t wait to start sharing the series with you next week!

28 Days of Adding HappinessOf course, I am still working with Josephine over at Courage & Dash as a guest blogger. The latest DIY will be up really soon. It’s a fun one, so you will have to head over to her blog because you won’t want to miss it!

Lastly (is that a word?), I am really looking forward to Friday night. While the rest of you are sleeping in your beds, I’ll be flying above your heads on my way to Florida. The Mr and I are taking another trip to Walt Disney World. This year we have a lot to celebrate: 1) Our One Year Anniversary, 2)The success of Pretty Much as well as the new beginnings we have both started between school and work. and finally, 3) Over a year has gone by since my symptoms began, and now, although I still have a lot of trouble walking, driving, and generally doing everyday things, I’m on the mend and feel like life is finally getting back to normal, so we will be celebrating progress. His cousin, Krista, who was also one of my bridesmaids, is coming too. I cannot wait to celebrate with her over her first Disney trip. It’s always such a fun experience to be with somebody for their first time there!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week! All my love!

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28 Days of Adding Happiness

28 Days of Adding Happiness

Some days it seems as though people believe that happiness is a lofty goal. We rush through life chasing a dream of happiness saying things like, “I’ll be happy when I get that new car.” or “I’ll be happy when I take that vacation,” but as soon as we reach one goal or can afford a special treat, we barely stop to enjoy it before we are off running after the next thing that will be sure to bring us happiness.

About a month ago, Sarah, from With Love Paper Goods approached me about doing a blog series with her to promote happiness. I was on-board immediately, but as we talked about our ideas, I became even more excited. With all the amazing things going on in this world, we somehow forget to make time to be happy. Sadly anymore, it seems like we almost have to pull out our day planner and pencil it in: “5:30 PM be happy.” Well, we are hoping that with this blog series, we will be able to remind you that it’s the little things in life that make up the big happiness picture. You don’t have to pencil happiness into your date book, you simply have to realize what makes you happy.

28 Days of Adding Happiness will be a blog series with a little twist. Sarah and I will be taking turns each day posting up some really lovely things: DIYs, recipes, links, printables, and lots more. I really can’t wait! All of this fun will start a week from today on Sunday, august 17th over on Sarah’s blog. Each day after that, for 28 days, we will share some pretty wonderful things with you. I hope you’re on board because this is going to be so much fun!

Coming up: Meet Sarah this Thursday, when I interview her here on the blog!

A Huge Announcement: Guest Blogging!

Last week I told you all on the twitter and facebook feeds that I would be making a huge announcement this week. It has been killing me to keep this huge secret for nearly a month! Finally though, I can spill the beans. (Who came up with that saying, anyhow? I think it sounds kind of silly!) The lovely Josephine Mills from Courage & Dash got in touch and has asked me to be a regular guest DIY blogger for her beautiful London-based blog!!!! <———This deserves about a million exclamation points!  I know, I’m just as stunned and excited as all of you probably are. This is such a huge honor!

Yesterday, my first post went live. It was a super fun and super easy DIY. Do you remember those adorable totes I put up in the shop on Sunday night? Well, now if you feel up to it, you can make them yourself! I know, I know, Pretty Much amazing!

Market or Wedding Day Tote

I highly suggest that you head on over to the Courage & Dash blog, and check out, not only this easy little DIY, but also the rest of Josephine’s blog because I really think you are going to adore it! Going into the weekend, be safe and have fun!

If you wish to download the templates I have created, please click on them below:

Book Worm, Market Fresh, Mrs, Oh, so Pretty, The Best Day Ever

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Progress, Production, and Purpose (Getting Your email under control)

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What happens when I bring up the topic of your inbox? You know, your EMAIL inbox? Yeah, that’s what I thought! You get a little freaked out, claustrophobic, and uncomfortable! I totally hear you.

But, Why does it have to be that way? I promise you that it doesn’t! I totally just said that out loud, and you should too. Ready? Let’s say this together:

“My inbox doesn’t have to freak me out, make me claustrophobic, or cause discomfort!” (You should tweet that!)

Together we can make progress, reduce your stress level, increase your production, and give your email box a purpose!

Okay, so now you want to know how that is even remotely possible. Well, take a deep breath we are going to get through this together. First though, I need you to do something for yourself. I need you to make a commitment to this process. I need you to set aside some serious time and commit to cleaning out your inbox….and…keeping it clean! You can do it! I know you can! I know it because I have done it!

Now before you start thinking that I probably didn’t have nearly the mess that you do in my email, I want to assure you that I had a crazy, wild, tangled up, serious mess! I’m talking about emails from 2014. Hello! 2004! I had folders that I haven’t touched in YEARS! oh, and don’t get me started on my duplicates! I had folders that were labeled “Important things to keep” & “Stuff worth keeping.” What the heck is the difference? I have no idea. All I know is that when I have to scroll endlessly to find a folder to put something in, I have WAY TOO MANY folders!

Alright, now that we are in agreement that I truly had a mess just like you probably do now, let’s move on to figuring out what to do about it.

Step One!

delete delete delete! I’m serious here folks. Start with the inbox itself. Remember how I asked you to set aside some time to do this? Yeah, well, you’re going to need that time right now. Begin at the top and just keep on going. If you have to take a break, then take a break, but DON”T FORGET TO COME BACK! Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to ever read this specific email? Does it actually have anything good in it? Is it a boring email that you signed up for and never even open because you are waiting for that day when you have time? Do you even know why you received the email to begin with?

As you go through each email, I want you to think about it. If you never open the emails to begin with, scroll to the bottom of the email, and click unsubscribe. I know it’s painful! But do it. It will feel so great when you are all done. Unsubscribe is your friend! Now delete the email. Believe me when I say that this will save you so much time and energy every single day. If it’s an email that you honestly know you are going to read, leave it alone or save a PDF copy of it in a desktop folder labeled “Things to Print.” We will come back to it when we start working through your folders. If you have glanced through it, and nothing sticks out as important, then go ahead and delete it. You’ll feel better. If you have looked at the email, and you know that you are going to use the info in it, you can either hold onto the email until we work through your folders or you can save a PDF copy of it to your desktop folder labeled “Things to Print.”

Continue going through your ENTIRE inbox until you have made a conscience choice for each individual email. Delete the ones you don’t need. Unsubscribe to the ones you never read, make PDFs out of the ones you need to print for reference, records, or other purposes, and only keep the ones that you absolutely must. These could include electronic receipts for items you have not yet received, correspondence with your wedding/event vendors, & anything that you might need to use later as proof of a conversation, permission, or consent.  (When I worked in corporate America, I would often forward email chains from my work email address to my personal email address because people were often pretty shady and I needed to cover my ass.)

I actually had emails in my inbox from my first husband while we were on-again/off-again & through our long and difficult divorce. Some were from one of my best friends/boyfriend, Ryan, who was killed when we were in Iraq together in 2007. I even had emails that I wrote to him after his death as a way to deal with the pain. I cried as I read some of them. It was literally a painful experience to go through all of that, but it was also pretty therapeutic.

Step Two!

First, congratulations for making it through step one. I know that was hard, but you did it! Good for you. Doesn’t that feel awesome!?! Let’s say this together:

“I cleaned out my email inbox, and I feel better already!” (You should tweet that too!)

okay, okay, step two… time to go through all the rest of your folders. this won’t be quite as difficult or painful as step one. The hard part is over. Now, I want you to do the exact same thing for all the rest of your folders. The catch here is that once you empty a folder completely, you are going to delete it. Yup, delete it! Just trust me, it’s for the best and for the greater good of your soul. If you can’t completely empty a folder, then, and only then, I give you permission to keep the folder. At least for now. Remember though, you are trying to make your life easier. You are going through these in order to reduce your stress level, increase your production, and give your email a purpose other than just collecting digital trash. Think of it as reducing your cyber footprint! I believe in you.

Step Three!

See? I told you the hardest part was over and that step two would be a lot easier. Good for you! You are almost done. How are you feeling? Do you feel like a superhero yet? Because you certainly should! Say it with me now:

I took control of my email because I am a superhero! (You know the drill, tweet about your progress – you deserve to brag!)

This step is even easier. I promise! Are you ready? Alright, now is that time for creating. At this point, you are no longer destroying the countless number of digital files like a destructive giant crushing your inbox. It’s time to create something you can be proud of. I am giving you permission to create some folders. You may also re-name any of the ones you kept during step two. You can even combine folders when it makes sense to do so. Here is a list of the folders that I have in my personal email:

  • School – for emails related to school that I have not yet been able to turn into PDFs or print and file.
  • Digital Receipts – for receipts that I either need to print and file or receipts for products that I have not yet received in the mail.
  • Disney 2014 – yes I have a folder for saving everything about our upcoming trip to Disney World so it is all in one place and can be accessed from anywhere in case I loose any of the information and as proof of payments and purchases.
  • Life is Messy Bootcamp – Mayi Carles has an amazing e-course, but after my surgery I got way behind in the course. I have all the emails in one folder so that I can catch up with all of her awesome activities and drills as I have time. The emails contain links that I need.
  • PDF – If I know that I need to turn an email into a PDF and print it, but I don’t have time right that second, I put it here. Having an empty inbox feel so much better than having a bunch of To-Do tasks staring back at me.

So, now that you know what I have going on, you can decide for yourself what the best way to handle your folders will be. Although you don’t have to have only a couple folders, I don’t recommend having too many. When you have too many, that’s when you tend to make even more because you can’t find the one you thought you had. For example, I had a folder labeled “From Me” and another one labeled “Emails to Myself” and both contained emails from my corporate America work email accounts that I sent to my personal account in order to save my ass in case of emergency situations that came about because of shady coworkers, shady bosses, and shady business practices. I probably didn’t need two folders for that same purpose, but since I had about 50 folders, sometimes it just became easier to make even more folders and even more email clutter. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap!

Step Four!

Once again, you did it! Hooray for you! I hope you are currently standing with your hands on your hips in front of a fan so that your superhero cape can blow in the breeze. I bet you look like a bad ass, because that’s exactly what you are! You are awesome!

That step wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was kind of like a half-step. I don’t have any cool ideas for a tweet about that one, but if you come up with one leave me a comment and I’ll add it in. You should really think of one anyways so that you can tweet about your awesome progress. Yu totally deserve all of these bragging rights because man are you working hard! I’m proud of you!

Step four could be the easiest step of all, but it could also be the hardest. Step four is all about maintenance. You just did all of this hard work. I would hate for all of that time you spent to go to waste. It’s time to keep your inbox clean. Don’t worry. I know you can do it. Each day, take 5 minutes to go through your inbox. Delete and unsubscribe to any emails that you don’t read. Remember, Unsubscribe is your friend! Print any emails that you need to keep for reference or file into your records. If you have a folder called receipts like I do, make sure that you go through it about once a week or once every-other week to clean it out once you receive your products and are happy with them. If you think you might need that proof of purchase later, print it out or create a PDF. If you have a folder labeled Disney 2014, (that would be pretty awesome) delete it when you get home from your Walt Disney World trip. And, at least once a week, empty your trash can.

You did it! I told you that you could do it! Doesn’t it feel good to make progress, reduce your stress level, increase your production, and give your email box a purpose?Let’s say it together:

“Today I made Progress, reduced my stress, increased production, & gave my inbox a purpose!”(You should tweet this last one for sure!)

Go Fly a Kite

Do you have any more tips for cleaning out your inbox? If you do, you should leave me a comment. Tell me how this has changed your life. I love to hear from my readers. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends on Facebook, twitter, or any other social network.

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From Entry-Level to CEO in a Day

Yesterday I woke up expecting to return to my “day job” for the first time since September. I’ve been recovering from a pretty crazy surgery in which the doctor repaired a hole that had formed in my inner ear. It’s been a roller-coaster ride – almost literally. Half the time I feel as though I’m on a roller-coaster while I simply sit on the couch in my living room. Let’s rewind…

My “day job” or the job that I have in order to afford the mortgage payment is a pretty interesting one. If I were to break down my job description into one sentence, I train soldiers to maintain and repair unmanned aircraft (drones if you are into Call of Duty). I used to fly them myself, but now I just do the dirty work! As most people in my field attain their training from the military, my position is considered Entry Level despite over 6 years in the field, nearly 3,000 flight hours, Instructor certification for flight and maintenance, etc, etc. I was the low man on the totem pole.

How does a high school cheerleading captain, color-guard captain, pep club member, founder of the Spirit squad, student counsel treasurer, honor-roll student, art club member end up training soldiers to fly drones in Iraq and Afghanistan? Yeah, I have no idea! I often wonder that myself. I especially wonder how all that happened while I simultaneously studied/ taught photography, studied Interior Design, studied Graphic design, and visual communications. Somehow despite my right-brained creative self, I managed to also be a complete science/math nerd and get ahead in a male-dominated world.

All this time I have been sitting at home recovering from the craziness of my inner ear problems, I’ve been contemplating this all more and more. I’ve been thinking about the things that truly make me happy and the things that I really love to do. I started to spend my free time creating decorations for weddings, designing logos for small businesses, and trying to figure out how I could possibly do this type of thing all the time.

Fast-forward to last week, when I finally got the okay to start working from home at my “day job” again. I was finally in the later stages of recovery where I would be able to sit in front of a computer and re-establish all of my certifications through reading technical manual after technical manual. As much as that sounded like pure torture compared to making pretty things every day, I knew it was going to pay the bills and I was prepared to jump right back into that life again, but then the phone rang.

In a matter of minutes I went from that entry-level position studying manuals and technical language, to being unemployed. They no longer needed me. I wanted to cry…and then I realized the reason that I wanted to cry wasn’t because I had lost my day job, but it was because I was finally free from my day job. I was finally free to pursue my dreams of owning a business; free to work from home, to create pretty things, and to love what I do for a living! In that moment I realized that I wasn’t an unemployed mechanic. I was the CEO of an incredible Design business called Pretty Much, and my dreams were coming true!

 

New Beginnings, Starting a Business, and Setting Goals

A blank screen and a blinking cursor – Yikes! I started my business back in December, but I’ve put off the obligatory first post for the blog simply because it overwhelmed me. Starting a business is easy, but blogging your thoughts is really scary! I fought with myself over what exactly the perfect content was for an initial post. I have so much to share with the world that I just could not decide where to start. I want to introduce myself, explain the roller-coaster year that ultimately led to me becoming a small business owner, and of course talk about all my goals of last year while listing my excuses for not completing more than few of them! The cursor kept blinking and the blank page stared back at me!

Forward to this morning. I woke up, showered, decided there was no time like the present to begin a new practice of oil pulling, threw on some clean pajamas, and sat down at my computer. All current projects could wait; I just had to write that first blog post. I had to begin today or I would continue to put it off everyday until the point of having a blog was completely lost and my enthusiasm for new beginnings went out the door with it! I sat down, took a deep breath, and then took several more. My mind was blank. I took another deep breath and placed my fingers on the keyboard. Nothing came to me. I decided that eating a cookie (a home-baked snickerdoodle of course!) was the missing piece to the puzzle that once complete would picture me, a complete success, jumping up and down as glitter fell around me. The outcome wasn’t quite that dramatic, but while eating that hard-as-a-rock-because-I-got-distracted-and-left-it-in-the-oven-for-a-half-hour cookie, it occurred to me in the most cliche fashion that perfection was over rated, and if the story of my morning was good enough to make me chuckle, it was good enough for my first blog post.

So what can you expect when reading the Pretty Much blog? Oh…pretty much anything! There will be posts about new beginnings, starting a business, and setting goals. There will be posts with pretty pictures, some creative ideas, and lots of glitter could be involved as well! Pretty Much is a design studio based in Utah, and I, Renay, am the Art Director. I create small business branding packages with logos, color schemes, stationary, etc. I create gorgeous party decorations, event themes, and wedding packages. Lastly, I am the creator of the Pretty Much Pretty Busy calendars, planners, and organization tools. You can find me on my personal Pinterest page, the Pretty Much website, the Pretty Much facebook page, the Pretty Much Pinterest page, the Pretty Much Etsy shop, and the Pretty Much Twitter page @HelloPrettyMuch.

Please do stop in to say hi! Comment as much as you can or want. I do my best to respond to all of my followers. Let’s have fun! Come back often for new blog posts. I’ll be starting a blog schedule soon to include featured posts. You will not want to miss all the great things in store for 2014. Oh, and don’t worry, glitter will be involved!

New Year’s Resolutions Are For Bullies

Each January, the majority of the country sets up some sort of New Year’s Resolution to strive for throughout the upcoming year. The tradition strikes me as strange seeing that a good amount of these resulotions end up being forgotten by mid-February. If they aren’t forgotten, then they become a burden hounting their creator from some small spot in the back of their brain. Every year it’s the same thing: devise the greatest resolution, swear that this year will be different, begin to fail a few weeks later, tell ourselves continuously that next week we really are going to make it happen, and then come to the end of the year disappointed in our lack of resolve. But why do we do that to ourselves? Do we honestly believe that we are such terribly awful people that the only way to feel better about ourselves is to make a completely drastic change in hopes of becoming a completely awesome person? Probably not! I think it’s more along the lines of a tradition set forth by generations that came before us and intended as a mockery, but through the years, the joke has been placed on us as they stare down from the heavens and laugh at the fact that despite our history of “failing,” we continue to beat ourselves up over such a silly thing as a resolution year after year!
Although I don’t typically participate in the tradition of beating myself up over my inability to become a perfect person every year, I do recognize that January is a new beginning and, with that, it is an opportunity for positive change. This kind of change isn’t the kind where I give up cookies for the whole year (honestly, who could ever do that?) but cave in on Valentine’s day by eating 30 to make up for lost time. No! This kind of change is the kind in which I continue to move in some direction – any direction – knowing that as long as I maintain even the smallest, nearly unseen, amount of movement, it is movement none-the-less, and that counts as positive progress. Instead of the foreboding resolution, I have opted for setting goals, choosing more self-love, committing to a positive attitude, and keeping one little word in the back of my brain as a reminder of what hopes, dreams, and expectations I have for myself throughout the next 365 days.
One Little Word? You may have heard of this growing trend. Initially it was begun by Ali Edwards, but it has blown up huge! The basic concept is that you choose One Little Word to be your guiding light through the next year. It becomes something you strive for or you contemplate or reflect on. Really, it becomes anything you want it to.  There are so many possibilities! Crazy, I know! In past years I have had a very hard time picking one word, and of course that it the case this year. I have even had years that I choose multiple words simply because I love the way they sound and the beauty of their definitions. I was completely prepared to do that this year…until I wrote the second paragraph of this post. It was then that I realize that more than anything I needed for my word to be MOVE. This word sums up all the ideas I had about the other words I was contemplating. It works perfectly for me and will certainly be a constant reminder of everything I hope this year will become!
With the decision to use MOVE as my one little word having been suddenly and abruptly made just moments ago, I am now having to modify my entire plan for this post. I had intended to discuss the different words I would be using this year, as well as their significance. Well, so much for that idea! Instead I can tell you about a few vague goals I have set while I reserve the right to discuss them in detail at a later time, in a future post as originally planned. Ok, here goes:
*Grow Pretty Much
*Nurture my Marriage
*Love Myself
*Study Well
What do you think? Are those vague enough for you? Don’t worry though, I promise to go more in depth very soon! In the meantime, do you have any goals for the New Year? What is your One Little Word? How do you intend to bring something positive into your life in 2014? Leave me a comment!

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