30/365 Making Plans


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30/365 Making Plans

Sometimes I find myself standing in random places around my apartment, thinking about my plans, goals and how they affect my overall mental health. I’m still learning a lot about myself and what habits and environments make me feel happy, productive or calm. Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious, it’s because I haven’t moved my body around much in a few hours. The quickest way to cure that is to go downstairs to sweat on the elliptical or try some free weights in the gym. I rarely stay in there long, but even a few minutes can really help my mood. It’s easier to focus too.

 

I Almost Gave Up


Sitting on the floor in my cluttered living room, challenges swirling around my mind like fallen leaves, I almost threw in the towel. What was I thinking trying to manage two photography brands? I was barely making a living from the first one! What made me think I could manage two Facebook pages, two Instagram profiles, two Twitter profiles, and two business blogs (plus this one!!)? I almost gave up. I was overwhelmed. I sucked at juggling all this stuff. Maybe I was in over my head.

Or maybe I had the wrong mindset.

After taking a long walk, stoping all attempts to do anything work related for a day and a prayer said aloud (my husband Brandon was cracking up at my candor), I got an epiphany. The fog didn’t clear in my mind, but that didn’t negate the fact that my dreams and goals were still there waiting to be activated. I heard God telling me that I had been much busier than this in the past. During those times, I was thriving on all sides. The problem wasn’t that I had too much to do. The problem was that I wasn’t holding up my side of the deal.

Whenever you want to do something you’ve never done, you gotta do what you’ve never done to get there. My mind was blown!

I chatted with my brother on FaceTime as he commuted from the airport to his hotel in New Zealand and thought ‘how can I do what he’s doing?’. He’s traveling the world, creating art (music) and making a living from it. I started thinking about his journey and how he was always, always, always posting about his work or shows. Then I was reminded that he’d been doing these things for years. It wasn’t an overnight miracle.

I started scrolling on Youtube and watching those ‘back then life sucked but look at me now’ type videos and discovered similar results. These people worked their butts off, took chances and believed in themselves enough to bet their time, money and reputation to make their dreams known to others. That’s when I started to get pumped.

Is the photography industry heavily saturated? Yup, but so is just about every single industry out there. There are literally millions of people picking up cameras and taking photos of stuff or people or places and trying to make a living from it. But you know what? None of those people are me.

Now, instead of freaking out and focusing on what I don’t have, I’m looking at what’s at my fingertips. I’ve got two cameras, Adobe CC, free modes of promotion on social media, a phone and a voice. I’m a member of a bunch of communities online full of people who love giving help to those who are humble enough to ask for it. I’ve got a library card which grants me access to thousands of resources that will help me learn the skills needed to be successful for FREE!! And best of all, I serve the Lord of all creation.

Seems like Jesus eased up beside me and said ‘My word says that we’ve been given the power to get wealth. Time to plug into that power and watch as I light up your life.’

After storming the library catalogs for inspiration, (there a 10 or more books on my desk!) I’ve began reading daily. While I read, I write down the parts that I can apply to my life and start implementing whatever I can the same day. I don’t get down on myself when I miss a day or make a mistake. I just keep going, keep reading, keep learning and keep applying what I learned.

Today, my domain mapping for this blog was set to expire and I contemplated letting it go. I thought I was too busy to continue some passion project that I started in college (I originally blogged about life after undergrad!). Instead of giving up, I renewed the mapping so elleword.com would still take people to my blog, despite the fact that it hadn’t been updated in months. Then I finished reading one of my library books about blogging and made a list of the kinds I want to blog (and vlog about) in 2018. Then I waited until I couldn’t stand not expressing myself in writing, opened my laptop and let the words flow from my mind through my fingertips to this post.

I’m not going to give up. I hope you don’t either.

Have courage!
Elle

Fasting and Furniture


Whenever a new year starts, Brandon (the hubster) and I tend to participate in a spiritual activity to help us reboot and re-focus. This year, it’s the 21 day Daniel fast. Aside from avoiding certain foods, we are writing in journals daily, praying and getting in some personal worship time with God. This is day two and I am feeling very positive about it so far. At first, avoiding sugar, fried food, meat and dairy seemed difficult but we’ve found some good solutions. I didn’t realize how many products contained added sugars, bleached wheat or chemicals (like tortillas, salad dressing and even some canned fruits). It’s no wonder people have so many health issues these days. There are so many junk foods out there disguised as healthy choices that it’s ridiculous. Continue reading “Fasting and Furniture”

My New Hair Moisture Routine


This post is for anyone who is trying to figure out a good routine for keep their hair moisturized. Not interested in hair care? Run away, before you get caught up in the parade of natural hair jargon and products! I’ve come up with a new way for my hair, and so far it seems to be yielding good results. Keep in mind, not all natural hair types are the same, so what works for me, may not work for you. Below, I’ve shared what products I use for my co-washing / moisturizing and daily moisturizing routines.

Co-Wash and Moisturize

Because it is a lengthy process, I only do this once or twice a week. First I co-wash (use conditioner instead of shampoo) my hair twice in the shower. The first time around, I use Fructis Triple Nutrition  or Africa’s Best Hair Mayonnaise.

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I like these products because they do a great job of cleansing my hair without drying it out. I start out with a generous amount in my palm and dab it throughout my hair before using my fingertips to lift any dirt or buildup from my scalp. I usually finger detangle when needed. For the second co-wash, I use Hollywood Beauty Olive Cholesterol Deep Conditioning Creme or v05 Strawberries and Cream Conditioner. I love using both of these products because they soften my hair and because they have a  lot of slick (they make your hair feel slick so its easy to manipulate), it so much easier to detangle my hair before rinsing. I rarely rinse all of the conditioner out. When it comes to natural hair, moisture is your friend, dryness your biggest foe.

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After that, I just section my hair into small ponytails to keep it from bunching together. Then, one at a time mind you, I add shea moisture curl enhancing smoothie and smooth it (use my fingertips to rub the product in my hair from root to tip) into my hair. Then I add a little  Jam Conditioning Hair Gel before putting it into a 2 strand twist, smoothing as I go. By the end of the process, I usually have 25 big twists in my hair. All that’s left to do is slip on a scarf and go to bed.

jam mega hold      JAM Extra Hold

Daily Moisturizing

To keep my hair soft and manageable between co-washes, I spritz it with a mixture of water and v05 conditioner. Then I just seal (trap the water and conditioner so that it doesn’t dry out) with canola oil or Africa’s Best Kids Organics Growth Oil Remedy. Using oil helps keep moisture from escaping and provides a deeper level of hydration for each strand of hair.

growth oil canola oil

Positive Perspective and Preparation


Good morning guys,

I had to take a short hiatus from posting wardrobe capsule entries because of all of the work that goes into moving. We are almost done getting everything organized and put away. It will probably take a few more days to get situated so sorry for the delay in advance, lol. Ok, now on to today’s subject. We ran into some unexpected problems during our move, but thanks to preparation and positivity, we were able to get through it without the day being ruined. I wanted to share the experience with you guys while counting our blessings (labeled as B#) and optimistic moments (listed as O#).

Yesterday our car had to be towed to the mechanic after suddenly shutting down on us the night before. We’d already spent almost $800 on getting some repairs recently so, needless to say, this was not the best news ever. Thankfully, because we’ve been paying extra on our bills lately, we were able to use those funds, plus the cash we put away monthly for car maintenance/replacement to cover the repairs the first go round (B1). The tow guy’s customer service skills over the phone sucked, but our mechanic covered the fee so Brandon ignored his attitude and kept going (B2, O1). We scheduled movers to come by and transport all of our heavy containers and bedroom furniture into our new place but without our car, we weren’t going to be able to get the rest of our things out. This kind of got us down but Brandon and I were so excited about moving that we were able to stay positive (O2). Before the movers came, we placed everything we could into the living room and tucked Justice into the nearest empty bedroom with the door closed so he wouldn’t be stressed or confused by the sight of strangers taking things from our apartment. last year, he was so alarmed that he began barking and howling as to say ‘what’s going on here?!’.

When the movers arrived, they’d mistakenly listed both our new and old apartments as ground level dwellings, only to realize they’d have to take several heavy items down the stairs. One of the movers seemed a bit irritable but the other two were pleasant so we fed off of their energy (O3). My husband and I grabbed what we could and carried our belongings to the moving truck alongside the movers. It was hot, as usual for Texas, and we probably went up and down the stairs 20 times by the end.  Once we were finished, we decided to give them a big tip from our ‘moving fund’ as our way of saying thanks (B3). This left us with $600 or so left in moving funds (B4). We wanted to use the cash to buy furniture for our home office but that idea went out the window when the mechanic called. I’m kinda paranoid when it comes to mechanics, because it seems like no matter where we’ve gone over the years, a new problem is discovered after taking our car in for repairs and this was no exception. As Brandon chatted with him on the phone, I could tell what he was hearing wasn’t good. We needed $700. . .

We didn’t have that much money available in the bank to cover the fee; we’d already spent our monthly car savings on the first round of repairs. If we were going to move the rest of our things and entertain family this weekend, we needed our car fixed asap! At this point, I wanted to freak out, fuss and maybe threaten the car guy in case he was trying to get over on us for good measure but I could hear something (maybe the holy spirit) tell me to stay calm. Then we realized that we could use the remaining ‘moving fund’ cash along with a little from savings to take care of the car (B5). Yes, this would mean not being able to furnish our place as soon as we’d hoped but we wouldn’t have to worry about being short on any bills this month (B6, O4)! Today, I took the bus to work and Brandon carpooled with a co-worker, so neither of us had to take time off (B7) and by the time we get home, our car will be waiting for us in the parking lot (B8).

Prepare financially for days like this. It will save you from stress and conflict later.
For the last four months, we’ve applied the principles from Financial Peace University by saving as much as we can to move into a new apartment. To make sure we didn’t spend the money on something else, we took it out of the bank and placed the cash into an envelope. When the car broke down, we were able to use some of this money to cover repairs instead of having to stress over where the money would come from and potentially stir up trouble for other financial obligations. At the end of the day, we only needed to round up $40 from the bank.

Don’t let a bunch of minor inconveniences ruin your day.
This is something I’m learning to do as my life goes on. I used to complain and get upset quickly when things started to go awry. I’m not 100% cured of this habit but I’m getting better. Several things didn’t go as we’d hoped they would. Between car troubles, irritable service workers, the heat outside and suddenly having to spend $700, we easily could have gotten upset and deemed yesterday as a bad day. These are the kinds of things that can cause problems in a marriage! At the end of the day, we were able to move into our new apartment. Instead of stressing (and possibly fussing) over money, we spent quality time together putting things away and even had time for some romance before passing out for the night.

When less than positive things happen, you don’t have to fall into an emotional funk. Focus on what’s going right with your day and make the most of every moment. Life is too short to spend it in a bad mood. Be positive, stay happy as much as you can and drop any emotional baggage that can slow you down.

xoxo, Elle

New Start, New State


We are almost three years in since my Life After Undergrad journey began. There’s been many challenges since then, including having to put my laborador/boxer mix, Laila Ali, up for adoption. But in one week, everything is about to change. That’s right, Brandon and I are hitting the road for a new start in a new state.

We’ve been saving money for a new start since October while living the ‘grid life’ but originally, that new start was simply a new local apartment. But after several conversations, prayers and research, we realized that we had the chance to do something bigger than we thought. We both agreed that we needed to be in a place where the both of us would prosper in our careers. Entertainment options are very important to us, I mean, come on. We’re a childless couple in our 20’s for goodness sake.

Of course we realize that every city has its own pros and cons that are more ideal for some people rather than others. After all, Dallas is known for its traffic jams and high theft areas in certain parts of town. Like any city, there are places that you shouldn’t go at night or during the day for that matter. The weather, terrain and wildlife are more factors to consider when you are moving to a new place. Neither Brandon or I have lived in Texas, let alone Dallas so this is going to be quite the adventure. We are going to have to start from scratch as far as making friends and networking. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

When you move to a new place, you have the advantage of the unknown. Noone knows anything about your accomplishments, failures or embarrassing moments. With every encounter, you get to re-invent yourself into anything you want to be without preconceptions getting in your way. If you were overly involved in organizations or social groups before, moving allows you to push everything off of your obligation list and re-discover yourself. Take some time to remember what its like to be a face in the crowd instead of behind the curtain. The things you had to sacrifice before (time with your family, taking care of your health, re-modeling your personal style or simply being able to do nothing at all after work hours) become yours for the taking. And before you jump into a busy routine again, contemplate why you were a part of so many things; was it because you genuinely enjoyed it or something else?  Time is the most precious thing we have and it should be spent on things that take you in the direction you want to go. You are allowed to say no when it comes to your life.

Perhaps like me, you’ve developed the habit of putting out Grade A work but only getting Grade F compensation. Sure, you might have thought this strategy was a good way to get your name out but think again. Your name will be out there but all of your new and potential clients are going to expect to get the same thing; executive results for minimum wage. Yes, I said executive. You are the champion of your business and deserve to be compensated accordingly.In a new place you can re-evaluate your worth and rebrand your business. It’s ok if the bargain hunter crowd passes on hiring you, your product is NOT a bargain item. It’s valuable, you are valuable and can choose the type of person you want to work with, not for, WITH.  This is not a ‘I need you more than you need me’ setup. You have something they want and vice versa. Remember, diamonds aren’t cheap, yet, everybody wants one.

xoxo,

TheArtistic Chic

Self Evaluation: Am I who I think I am?


For the past few weeks, Brandon and I have been meditating on the word of God and really trying to hear from him. We have also been praying for certain things to fall into place and working on trusting God to take care of any problems we are facing. In the midst of this, I believe that HE has started to reveal things to us that we may not have realized or paid attention to in the past. And now that HE has, I think it’s time that I did a critical self evaluation. Everyone has this idea of what kind of person they are but does that idea truly reflect their true identities? I admit that person I thought up in my head is not the true me.

The ‘head me‘ is a hard worker who keeps her word and is optimistic. She has confidence. She loves God and loves to help people. She is original, creative and doesn’t let negativity get in her way. She is open minded about people and prides herself in being kind to everyone and forgiving. But the ‘true me’ just about forgets the needs of others if there is a hardship going on in her life. She loves God but is slacking in the area of serving HIM. She has plenty of goals but hardly works on the majority of them. She worries. She is strongly opinionated and defensive. She can be kinda bossy too.

When I re-read the two descriptions above, its clear that both of those identities are in my heart. Some might say Im being hard on myself but I think I am being honest with myself. Without honesty, one cannot expect to make true progress or change. You must first know the truth before you can be set free. Now that God has shown me who I am, what am I going to do about it? The obvious answer would be to change.

But change is not something most people do well. We’d rather assume our way of thinking/doing things is the best way and that other people need to change. We’d rather see our selfish priorities as more important than what anybody else including God needs us to do. We don’t want to change because that would mean giving up the worthless hobbies that we hold dear. We’d have to put pride aside and do what needs to be done, even when we don’t want/feel/care to do it. Because we would be forced to see the truth behind our ‘ideal selves’ and work on our character flaws. Heck, we’d have to agree with the notion that we have flaws! With all that in mind, who would ever want to change?

I do, because, In the end, not changing will keep me from progress. I don’t want to stop others from getting the blessings that God put in me to give. I don’t want pointless grudges to mess up my relationships. Lord knows I can’t risk becoming more egotistical than I am already. I refuse to relinquish the greatness God has for me because of laziness, pride, fear or greed. From this day forward, I am changing because my life, and the lives of others, depends on it. I dare you to do the same.

xoxo
The Artistic Chic