Marriage, Wine and a Good Book


Brandon and I have both been reading a lot more lately. I’ve personally devoured three books in the last two weeks and am working on book number four as I learn more about SEO, networking online, productivity and blogging. I guess it’s only natural that reading has rolled into our time spent together. We started our own evening tradition of sitting together on the couch, sipping wine and reading a chapter from a book. Currently, we’re on chapter six of ‘Boundaries in Marriage’ by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I highly recommend it!

Elleword: Some of the most wonderful moments are the simplest. Looking over and seeing my husband reading by the glow of string lights in our cozy apartment.
He’s not sleeping, lol.

If you’re interested in self help books, I also recommend reading or listening to ‘The Productivity Project‘ by Chris Bailey. I’ve been listening to it on my own and have already picked up some great pointers on what I’ve been doing wrong when it comes to getting work done. For one, I’m spending too much time working! When I work in short spans of time, two hours usually, I get so much more done! I’m also working on fighting the urge to put on a video, look at social media or check my phone while I’m working. Today I not to actively use my phone until 9am. At first it was a little hard.

Waking up around 6:15am, I opened the windows, turned off the lights and let the apartment slowly fill with sunlight naturally. I imagined that I was in staying in a cabin deep in the mountains. I told myself that it wasn’t morning traffic that I was hearing but the gentle sounds of a nearby stream. Not wanting to disrupt my fantasy, I decided against playing music or any other types of media. Instead, I went about my morning routine in quiet serenity. Whenever I heard an alarm chime from my cell, I’d switch from one morning task to another one. Outside of that, I did my best to put all of my focus on the tasks ahead without searching for the nearest clock to see how much time had passed. I failed a few times but as time slowly went by, I began to realize just how much time I really had at my disposal to do each activity.

Brandon reads to me as we relax on the couch after a long day of working. Don't mind my oversized sweat pants! Elleword Blog
Marriage, wine and a good book are all we needed for a great evening.

The more I focused on reading, straightening up the apartment and my yoga positions, the sooner I finished ahead of time. So I guess my key to success lies in cutting out as many electronic distractions as possible (unless the work involves a computer). I’m going to give this a go again tomorrow and see how well it works out. In the meantime, since I’m still feeling lively, I’m going to put in a few more retouches in on a recent project. Have a great night guys! Thanks for reading. If you have solutions or struggles with time management, leave your thoughts in the comments.

Have courage,
Elle

Thirsty Thursday


In case you were wondering, I’m thirsty for more out of life haha. My phone died midday so I hardly captured any moments from the day, sorry. But I did manage to get a few before the battery bit the dust. First, here’s my OOTD.

Elleword - My gifted sweater from New York & Company paired with a thrifted vintage denim skirt and Bean Pole bag. I love these gold coach shoes!
This skirt is so comfy!

 

To get the day started, I hit the library and the library in search of some language books to help me study up on my Japanese and French. Yea, I’m learning a few languages all at once, trying to jump start my brain, hahah. I feel it’s working. I’ve linked up with some language exchange partners who will help me practice what I’ve learned on Skype and FaceTime. Until I get a decent grasp on the languages, I’m mostly helping them with English right now hahah.

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I also scored an intern recently! Her name is Sakura. She’s a friend of mine and talented makeup artist trying to find out what direction she wants to take with her career. I’m hoping that spending time with me will help her learn a few things and find the inspiration she needs. We went out and captured a mixed use space to help the owners start a photography residency program. It’s so open and bright and empty. Perfect for a photographer or videographer who needs a simple spot to work a few hours a week without paying an arm and a leg in studio fees. Once we finished working, we grabbed some food. These sandwiches were delicious!

The pulled chicken sandwiches we had for lunch at XO Coffee in Plano, TX

That’s all for today,

Have courage,
Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

Five Years After I Do


Brandon and I have seen our share of great times and hard times. One thing that I’m most grateful for is that we’ve been able to maintain our friendship and grow closer over time. A lot happens in the first five years of marriage. You move in together, argue a lot about money, learn about each other’s not so great habits, and truly start to learn more about each other on a new level. Here are five lessons that my marriage has taught me. May they be a blessing in your romantic endeavors as well.

PDA is good for happy and tough times

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Yes, we are one of those hopelessly in love, always smiling couples. We hold hands because we like to. I kiss him, hug him and lean on him anywhere, yes, even in church. I believe that God wants others to see that kind of love between people in His house. But we have our tough days too. Sometimes we don’t get along or say things that unknowingly hurt the other person. But something as simple as reaching for his hand says ‘I’m mad at you but I still love you.’ When he reaches back, its like hearing ‘I love you too’. An embrace is a powerful thing. We’ve both had times when one of us has hugged the other after a heated moment and looks up to find one or both of us has begun to cry tears of relief.

What God has brought together will stay together if you keep him at the center

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I knew Christ since childhood but had fallen out of pace with His plan for my life. I knew Brandon was the man for me, the one, when I realized that he cared about my soul. He invited me to church, an FCA retreat and plenty of bible studies early on in our relationship. His love for Jesus inspired me deeply. During our wedding ceremony, we had a three strand cord ceremony to remind ourselves to keep God intertwined in everything we do together as husband and wife. Sometimes that means being a spiritual rock when he is feeling overwhelmed. Praying together is a powerful thing, it’s hard to stay mad at someone who stands in agreement on your heart’s deepest desires.

When you don’t feel like lovers, you can always lean on your friendship

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One of the most valuable things that we have is a strong friendship. When we first got married, Brandon had a good job and a large social network. He was often invited places, going out on his own and planting himself on the couch after work. I, on the other hand, struggled to find a job. All of my friends had graduated and left the state and I felt lonely many days of the week. One night, while joking around with Brandon about our living situation, I suddenly burst into tears. Even though we were married, I felt as if we were living different lives and that he was oblivious to my pain. That night, he and I talked and he started to take purposed steps towards being more available emotionally. Once we moved to Texas, just a few months after our 2nd anniversary, our friendship blossomed. We didn’t know anyone in Texas so we leaned on each other for love, support and good times. Brandon now makes an effort to spend time with me each day because he knows that quality time is my strongest love language. I’ve built my own social circle and projects so he can have some alone time to recharge.

We don’t have to compromise all the time

elleword-five-years-of-marriage7Many people think that marriage is all about compromise, give and take, win some, lose some. For us, we try to make as many decisions as possible that allows us both to get what we want. Brandon doesn’t like to cook but I don’t mind, so I cook. One of my least favorite chores is laundry so he takes care of that for us. He takes out the trash, I keep an eye on Justice (our dog). Sure, there are times when one of us doesn’t get everything we want but not compromising on the everyday life stuff makes up for those times. Part of our success is thanks to us not asking each other to sign up for things we don’t want to do whenever possible.

Loving each other for who we are and blazing our own path together just might be the secret to marital bliss

We’ve been married for five years and have received lots of expectations from others who feel we should be doing things differently. The two biggest things we hear about is the fact that we don’t have kids or live in a house. Here’s the thing, we are happy without those things. No kids means a lifestyle of dating within marriage. Clothing is optional around the house and if we want to just lay around together during our down time, we can do that. Living in a resident community means never having to fix what’s broken around the apartment, never having to mow the lawn, free coffee and sweets in the lobby and a host of happy hours where we can hang out with our neighbors. While others feel like marriage isn’t complete without a house and kids, we are living proof that marriage is complete as long as there’s two people in love and God at the center of it all.

So cheers to five years of marriage and a lifetime of more stories to tell. Brandon, you are a blessing from God, irreplaceable. Forever’s a mighty long time and I really want to spend it with you. I shine when you shine, there’s really no substitute. Forever more my love, forever more.

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Have courage,
Elle | Elleword  | Tweets  |  InstaElle

We Can Rebuild


I’ve tried to learn web languages starting with HTML time and time again but it never stuck. I would only get more confused and frustrated every time I attempted to learn something. But recently things have been clicking. My supervisor connected me with some learning resources online a few weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been learning like crazy and taking on new tasks at work because of it. I’m so excited! The web industry is not going anywhere but up so I’ve decided to learn how to navigate through basic code to improve my design skils.

The goal is to make $50,000 + the next time I land a new job. My husband is always excelling at work, so I told him that I’d land my higher paying gig before his next promotion. Given that he usually soars upward every two or three years, that gives me two years to make it happen. Not that we don’t share everything, but making it a competition is adding to my motivation to learn as much as I can and creating a body of work that encompasses all of my visual art skills. I’m so grateful for my current job. It has helped me get my foot in the door and use some of the skills that I went to school for. But even though I’ve escaped the world of retail, I still have a ways to go if I want to truly call myself a creative professional.

To help me build a new body of work, my big brother is teaming up with me. He’s an Art Director with years of experience, I’m glad he’s gonna mentor me on this. He has volunteered to send me materials to help get me started and check in with me from time to time as I work on everything. He advised that it would take lots of work and I’d need to be willing to stay up to work on projects. I’ve already started trying out instant coffees and teas since we spoke the other night. (I guess that means taking a nap after work so I’ll have the energy to keep moving forward.) I know this is going to be intense and will result in more nights in front of “Big Mac” (my 27 inch IMac) but getting that creative job and salary will be worth it.

Have courage,
Elle

Fall and All


Fall is here, fall is here. It’s a wonderful time of year, baby!

I would include some awesome image, but my camera is in the shop (cue the violins). I’ve been away for awhile, mostly working and being inspired to create a plan for my business. This is probably the biggest leap of faith that I’ve decided to pursue since picking up my camera and shooting my first wedding four years ago. I will share my plans with you soon, once I’ve started putting things into action. Right now, I have to finish creating my presentation and prepping information. In other words, I may have to take up working late for a few weeks at home. Meanwhile, I’ve been learning how to use my graphic design skills to assist my team at work. I mainly assist with customer requests but the better I get at editing websites, the more I get to focus on those tasks instead of talking on the phone. I have learned so much about people on this job like, how to stay calm when dealing with a pushy person, or what words to use when reassuring someone or how to steer people away from bad decisions. I feel like this is gold, priceless skill that I am improving and can apply to my passion, OHDP. 

Hair Update
It’s been a full year since I first cut my hair to 1.5 inches. I still haven’t figured out the perfect care routine but I think I’m getting closer. My hair seems to be doing pretty well, though I have done my share of accidental damage. At this point, my goal is low manipulation and keeping it moisturized. I’m working on my video for youtube to show you the progress I’ve made, if you like that sort of thing.

Focus
Speaking of youtube (and social media), I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about what I really want to write or talk about. There are so many trendy subjects that I’ve seen online, but most of them aren’t things that I’m passionate about enough to speak on all of the time. So I did some meditating on it and realized that the things that I’m most passionate about revolve around marriage, photography and business. So I’ve decided to shift the main focus of my blog and videos to focus primarily on those things. I hope that by reading about my journey to entrepreneurship will inspire others to take a leap of faith towards their dreams. So far, I’ve been researching local creative professionals in order to reach out to them later and maybe create a network of information and support. I hope to be able to teach people about the things that work for me in terms of technique, customer service, finances and organization.

“You don’t always have to know where you are going. You just have to have the courage to take the next step.”

Elle

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

Hair Goal: Longer Curly Locks


Hello creative peeps,

As promised, I’m writing about my new goals. The first one is centered around my hair. You may not know it but I’ve dealt with sudden hair loss since I was in the 10th or 11th grade (12 years or so). There are some hair styles that I just can’t wear because my hair doesn’t grow in certain places, even with added weave.

After struggling to hide it with extensions or my own hair, I decided to shave my head during the summer of 2009. That was the most freeing experience I’ve ever had. Now that I’ve got a hair goal of bra-strap length curly hair, it feels like everyone can see large portions of my scalp if I don’t wear my lace-front wig. But thankfully, I don’t rely on my hair for validation. I’ve already discovered that hair was never reason for my beauty. True beauty comes from within.

I have been natural since 2007, having cut my relaxed hair off when I turned 19. Over the next nine years, I have done a little of everything including flat ironing, kinky twisting, two strand twists, afro hawks, bantu knots and even shaving it all off. I even cut about four inches off of it three months ago after becoming frustrated with my overly dried ends. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I experimented with styles and products but never really understood how to handle my ‘locks’. So I did what any girl would do, I looked to books and youtube for advice and inspiration.

Man, there are so many resources out there and vlogs where women are tracking their hair growth, teaching others about the science behind hair and making tutorials. After watching hours of vids and reading three hair books, I think I have found the ideal way to work with my hair. The first step is to accept my hair the way it is, not the way it was or the way I saw someone else’s hair. The second step involves paying more attention to the way my hair reacts to things and putting more intentional care into keeping it moisturized and clean.

I plan to avoid heat tools, shampoo, and styles/products that dry my hair out. But I’ve decided to use more conditioner, hair lotions, oils and whatever else I think will help keep my hair from breaking. The plan is to do this until my hair reaches armpit length while it is still in its curly state (no pressed or blown out, etc.). I will do my best to put pics and a few vids about this in case anyone would like to see how I’m progressing. I will also be open and honest about the struggles that come with managing the thin areas of hair.

More goal explanations on the way!
Elle