PLOT TWIST!

Sometimes you just have to yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on.

I hate it when the plans in my head don’t happen in real life. It’s depressing and I spend too much time dwelling on it.

IMG-1064 (1)

I had a plot twist moment last month that made me finally realize I can’t manipulate my future into what I think it should be like. I’m exactly where I need to be and I need to make the best of it.

So here are a few things I’m working on to do that…

Get A Vision For My Future Self

I’m not talking about the question, “where do you see yourself in five years.”  I more like the question, “what type of person do you want to be in five years.”  YESSSS!  That’s a question I can answer 🙂

What kind of person do you want to be?  What are the small steps you can take today to make that a reality?   For me, I want to be a well respected public relations professional.  I can learn new skills and brush up on the old ones (SEO, social media advertising, website development, etc.).  I’m going to make a list of what I want to accomplish and then check them off one at a time.

I also made it my goal this week to complete the Career Contessa worksheet focused on career vision  I’ll let you know how that goes…

Slow The &%$# Down!

Obviously this is a skill that I’m really, really, really bad at.  I’m committing myself to slow down and enjoy the season I’m in.  I’ve been so focused on getting to the next goal that I’m not slowing down and seeing the great things happening right now.

IMG-1066

Here’s how I’m doing that…

  • Stop mindlessly scrolling through my phone at night.  What else could I be doing that makes me better?  I’m getting better at putting my phone down and designing.  That makes me happier than wasting my time scrolling social media.  It’s also more productive for my Esty shop 🙂
  • Stop and look at my surroundings.  I look at our beautiful house I thought we would never have and appreciate the great family we’ve created.
  • Take a good look at my husband and children.  They’re growing up so fast.  I want them to know I love them and I’m always here.  That means slowing down and investing in my husband and children.

Thank you God for giving me a big reality check.  Your ways are better than my ways.  I just wish I knew exactly what they were.  In the meantime, I’m going to yell “PLOT TWIST!” and settle down to enjoy this season of my life 🙂

IMG-1068

xo,

thumbnail

Advertisements

How We Survived the Georgia Aquarium With Three Kids

Justin and I realized that we have not taken a family outing in a while and looked for family friendly destinations in Georgia.  Having three children can certainly get expensive so we wanted something that was an easy drive for our three-year-old but still entertaining to our preteens.

We looked to Atlanta since it is around two hours away and has many entertainment options.  We settled on taking them to the Georgia Aquarium.  Ryder, our three-year-old has never been and our other two have been a few times before.

The Georgia Aquarium is a non-profit, accredited aquarium that houses over 10 million gallons of water and focuses on aquatic research and conservation.  You can learn more about their efforts on their website.

IMG_6678

IMG-6677.JPG
Justin and I have been to the aquarium by ourselves before but this was the first time taking all three children.  We learned quite a bit from our little adventure.

Money
If you’re like me the first thing you want to know is how much you’re looking at spending on this whole thing.  Prepare to spend A LOT.  My heart hurt when I figured out so much we spent on the entire trip.  I’ll explain my opinion about it later in the post.

Tickets and Day of the Week
Buy your tickets online.  The ticket kiosk and booths are insane when we arrived.  Granted, it was a Saturday so you would expect it to be crowded but wow.  I was so happy I purchased the tickets ahead of time on their website.  We could move right through the line and straight into security without waiting in another line to buy tickets.  This was a lifesaver with a three-year-old that does not wait in lines very well.

You have a few choices on their website as far as ticket pricing goes.  You can purchase the “Early Bird” which saves you a few dollars if you go before 11 a.m., the “General Admission” which is regular price and allows you flexibility to enter between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and then they have the “Imagination Night” for those coming after 4 p.m. which are the cheapest tickets they offer.

I didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to get ready so we went with the flexible option.  I purchased two adult and three kid tickets.  Ryder is considered old enough for a child ticket.

The website also gives you the option to purchase your pass ($15) to park in the “official” aquarium parking deck.  I wanted to be efficient so I went ahead and purchased it.

Ticket Total:  $189.00 (stings just a little)

The car ride to the aquarium was very uneventful (read: thankful).  We managed to get through without any traffic jams until we got into downtown Atlanta.  There was construction happening right in front of the aquarium’s main entrance.  The atmosphere was friendly as people cut off other people trying to figure out where in the heck they were going.  Siri was her usual accurate self and navigated us all the way around the block to the parking deck when all we had to do is turn right about three miles back.  It was glorious.

We entered the parking deck and began having serious doubts that the top of our truck was not going to clear the extremely low ceiling.  I said a quick prayer every time we passed a beam overhead because I knew we were not going to make it.  We eventually did and parked five stories up.  The elevator down to the entrance of the aquarium was as long as a Disney World line so we opted to take the stairs.

We were corralled like cows through the lines of those who had and those who had not (read: tickets or need to get tickets).  Luckily, we were the good cows with tickets and were escorted through the security line and then they scanned our tickets.

IMG_6756

IMG-6719

The actual aquarium is impressive when you walk in.  The sections are joined by a main lobby area and labeled with big signage.  We went straight into the area with the huge fish tanks and enjoyed how much the kids loved to watch the animals.  Each section was beautiful.  You can tell how much they love animals and their passion for conservation and education.

IMG_6674

IMG_6734

IMG_6739

The massive wall where you can view the most aquatic life is breathtaking.  There is a huge variety of animals swimming around in the tank.  In case you didn’t know…this is where baby shark and grandpa shark live (according to Ryder).

IMG-6700 (2).JPG

IMG_6675

IMG_6695

IMG-6691

Lunch
Here is where the amazing feeling ended…lunch was crazy expensive!  Our bill came out to $68.51 for two cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, a jumbo hotdog, and drinks.  Ryder was too excited to eat so he grazed on our plates.  I can tell you the food was definitely not worth $68.  All of it was cold and the portions were not very big.  I understand it’s a tourist attraction but wow.

IMG_6707

IMG-6716

But wait!  There’s good news about our lunch!  They do keep in mind the parents with the restless children!  They serve a small selection of beer and wine.  Granted…you’re going to pay for the luxury but it is what it is.  My lovely husband informed me there was gin and tonic AFTER I had passed the drink stand and was explaining to Ryder why we had to actually stop and eat lunch and not go straight to the penguins.  I had to calmly explain that the penguins were eating their lunch too and we couldn’t go see them yet.  Apparently, I’m a horrible liar and he didn’t believe that for one second.  Justin’s 16oz IPA was a whopping $7.  Parental sanity comes at a high price these days.

Total:  $68.61 (ouchhhhhhh)

The penguins FINALLY finished lunch and off we went.  Justin was tasked with crawling through the itty bitty tunnel with the children to have an up close and personal (as personal as you can get with several feet of plexiglass) with the penguins.  I gave him the Hunger Games salute as Ryder began freaking out towards the middle of the tunnel and wanted to get out.  I was the supportive wife on the outside looking in by telling him to push him through to the end.  He’ll love it once he gets there.  Bless my husband’s heart.  Turns out he did and it was worth the experience.  Ryder still talks about seeing the penguins in their “living room.”

IMG_6722
IMG-6723
IMG_6727

Since the children were extremely well behaved during the trip we allowed them to pick one time from the gift shop with a spending limit.  The two big kids picked out stuffed animals that will get lost into the abyss known as their rooms and the little one picked out a sea life play set.  I have not seen the poor stuffed animals but the play set creatures have a permanent home in my bathtub.  So magical.

Souvenir Total:  $66.00 (Hey, aquarium people…you need to check your heart)

TRIP TOTAL:  $323.61

Was it worth it?
The facility is absolutely amazing and seeing animals you never would otherwise was a great experience for our kids.  I would recommend going on a Sunday for lower crowd sizes.  Our three-year-old liked all the exhibits but was ready to move onto the next one after a few minutes.  I think our older ones had a good time but we had to tell them no to a few other things that cost extra money (virtual reality ride was a big one).  In my opinion, it will be a while before we visit again.  I think other attractions would be worth the money we spent on the aquarium.

IMG_6786

IMG_6697

Overall, it was great to get out with our kids and we made some great memories.

cropped-img_6373-1-1.png

 

 

 

My Favorite Things About Historic Downtown Perry, GA

Perry, Georgia is a magical place.

It is 90 miles south of Atlanta and is home to around 16,000 people. The city is right in the middle of state and federal highways labeling Perry as “Where Georgia comes together.”

I’ve worked in Perry for almost five years and have grown fond of the small town feel that I didn’t have in Warner Robins. The other great thing is that Perry is a progressive city. They have big plans for the future but still remember what makes them a special place to be – the atmosphere of being tucked away in a small corner of the world enjoying the simple things in life.

My absolutely favorite spot is historic downtown Perry. It’s everything you dream a downtown would be like. Small business shops ranging from monogrammed merchandise to elegant home decor. Beautiful potted plants perfectly line the street and add an elegant atmosphere as you browse shops and sit on the comfortable benches dedicated to someone’s memory.

Here are a few of my favorite downtown spots on Carroll Street…

img_6480

The landscaping around downtown is absolutely beautiful.  The lush greenery and the potted plants are always well manicured and vibrant with colors.  I am always impressed that the flowers have never appeared to be withered or dead.  Appearance is a huge part of what makes the atmosphere inviting.  You can tell the people taking care of downtown truly care about preserving it.

img_6470

img_6490

This area of downtown has always struck me as a perfect place to have lunch outside. It is covered and has several tables.  This cove is also used to host the Perry Farmer’s Market.  Vendors display their goods and the place is usually bustling with customers.  Having lunch out there is on my to do list.

img_6478

Carroll Street is picture perfect with trees lining the one way street and shop fronts that are perfect for window shopping.

img_6481

There are so many amazing stores on Carroll Street.  My favorite is Mossy Creek Natural.  It is a “bohemian bath and body gift shop” full of handmade soaps, bath bombs, body butters, and super cute merchandise.  The ladies that run the store are incredibly friendly.  I am alway greeted with a smile.  One year I bought gift baskets full of soaps, charming coffee cups, and body butters as Christmas presents for the women in my family.  The lovely ladies gift wrapped each basket with beautiful trimmings.  The price was very fair for such a unique gift.

img_6486-2

During my recent excursion I had to stop by and pick up a new bath bomb.  The honeysuckle one is my favorite.  Their products are the most luxurious bath bombs I have ever bought.  I was told they use a variety of natural ingredients to include avocado oil.  My skin always feels so smooth and smells great.

I also found a really cute ID holder for the back of my cell phone for.  The item is well made and I get compliments on it.

It is important is shop local.  Many of the shops in downtown Perry are locally owned and operated.  Each year they have “Small Business Saturday” the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday.  I make an effort to get at least a few presents on my shopping list from stores downtown.  I’m still an Amazon addict but there’s something special to me about purchasing at a local store knowing I’m helping them and the economy I live in.  Plus, they have some really unique items!

If you’re ever in the Perry area I encourage you to drop by for a few hours to browse, shop, and eat.  It is truly a prime example of southern hospitality.  Be sure to stop by the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce while you’re there.  They are friendly people who are happy to show you all that Perry has to offer.

cc

Find more amazing downtown shops and restaurants on the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce website.

img_6373-1

Fearless in 2019

Hello 2019! I’ve been waiting on you. 2016 was the year that broke me. 2017 was the rebuilding year. 2018 was the year of changes. 2019 is the year I’m throwing my fear aside and taking on new challenges that I’ve talked myself out of for the past several years.

My word for 2019 is fearless. I will make a deliberate choice to not worry about what other people think of me. I have abandoned so many projects because I was worried about what other people would think about it.

I have all the other typical resolutions for the new year…drinking more water, being healthier, etc. But that’s not enough. I want to go deeper into strengthening my character and living my best life. I intend to do that in 2019.

I’m heading into my mid-30s and way overdue to take care of myself both personally and professionally. A big goal I have this year is to obtain my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). This scares me a lot but I’m ready to tackle it. I have put this task off since 2016! It’s incredibly sad when I think about how much time I have wasted.

So here’s to a new year of infinite possibilities and great things to come 🙂

Cheers!

The Killer At My Table

 

I like to describe myself as a realist.  I try to see things as they really are without sugar coating it or thinking the absolute worst.  The thing is…the people who know me the best would laugh at my “realist” label.  They would tell you I lean more toward the pessimist side of life.  I really don’t want to be like that but I do catch myself with more negative thoughts than I would like to admit.

I watch a lot of Steven Furtick’s sermons at Elevation Church.  I really like how practical and real he preaches.  It’s more than helpful sermons.  I find he preaches about the root causes of problems instead of fixing it on the surface.

While browsing on YouTube I found Elevation Church’s Code Orange Revival series from 2016.  I normally hate listening to guest preachers but I gave the playlist a shot.  The entire playlist was amazing.  There was one in particular that stuck with me.  Pastor Louie Giglio spoke about the Psalm 23.  It’s one of the most famous passages in the Bible.  “The Lord is my Shepard.  I shall not want…”  Yes, I’ve heard it a million times but it never really penetrates my soul like it should.  That is until I heard Louie speak about it.  One section of the Psalm in particular, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  He uses the illustration of an actual table set up with delicious fruits and vegetables and a pitcher of water.  He goes on to say how many of us actually allow our enemies to sit at our table.  What an interesting concept…

How many times have I entertained negative thoughts?  You’ve made a horrible mistake.  You’ve really screwed up now.  Your best days are behind you.  Turns out I’ve entertained them for years.  I’ve allowed the enemy of negative thoughts at the table that God intended for me.  Such a powerful image.  As Louie put it…I’ve invited a killer to my table.  The killer of joy.  The killer of peace.  The killer of happiness and contentment.  The killer of purpose.

The good news is that we have a choice.  We have the choice to tell the enemy to leave our table.  We can choose not to entertain him at our table…our mind.  Lately, I’ve made a commitment to myself to recognize when the enemy has taken up a seat in my mind.  When I begin to have negative thoughts I simply think stop.  This is my table not yours.  You do not belong here.

I encourage you to listen to Louie below.  It’s an amazing illustration that really brings that part of Psalm 23 to life.  I really hope it helps you as much as it is helping me.

  

Gaining Confidence

I love strong women.  There is something empowering about a woman who knows what she wants and sets out to get it fearlessly.

But I do know one thing…there is nothing fearless about confidence for me.  A lot of outwardly confident women have a darker side that many people do not see.  A side of self-consciousness and panic feelings that she isn’t accomplishing everything she wants to in life.  That drive to be the best she can be is both motivating and extremely scary at the same time.

The key, however, is to strike some sort of balance between looking confident and loving yourself enough to embrace it.

I believe that outward confidence is the key to success.  First impressions always count.  Confidence is important in your job, with your family, and yourself!

Here are my steps to embracing confidence when I need a little extra boost…

Embrace your talents & love yourself. We’re all really good at something. I imagine you thinking your “something” is small or insignificant.  It isn’t!  There’s someone struggling right now with your “something.”  It can be as simple as creating budget friendly family meals, being an encouragement to others with a letter or kind word, or planning a great trip!  These things are important and often essential on a daily basis.  Embrace it!  You have to love yourself before you can appear to be confident.

Body language, eye contact, and smile! The language your body speaks is everything! Having the right body language takes some practice but is the easiest way to show confidence and show kindness to others.  How do you stand when someone is speaking to you?  Do you cross your arms?  Do you look down at the ground?  These gestures are defensive.  You may not mean to but sometimes you can appear to be closing your body and mind to the other person.  Try this – next time you are speaking with someone – stand up straight, clasp your hands lightly in front of your waist, look the person in the eye, and SMILE while you listen to them speak.  These four steps will drastically improve your appearance and show confidence.

Follow strong women who inspire you.  I need inspiration all the time especially when I am feeling down about myself.  I gain inspiration from seeing other women go after their goals in a fearless way.  If they can, why can’t I?  A little inspiration may be the one thing to kick start your confidence in a positive direction.


Ann Shoket
Instagram | @annshoket
Twitter | @annshoket

Former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine and author of The Big Life is my go to woman.  She loves to encourage her #badassbabes to embrace life and go for their goals.  Her Instagram focuses on empowering millennial women to break the standard and live fearlessly.  Plus, she tweeted me back on Twitter and made me geek out just a bit.

Maria Taylor
Instagram | @MariaTaylor7
Twitter | @MariaTaylor7

Maria is an ESPN and SEC Network analyst and show host I discovered through watching Georgia football this past season.  I love her!  She is fun, quirky, and making a huge impact on the sports industry as a female.  She has an amazing view on life and I’m inspired to see her spread kindness and empower other women to be ambitious.

Confidence isn’t something that comes naturally to many people…me included.  It’s a choice we must make every single day.  We can make a positive choice by loving ourselves and allowing others to inspire us.

hoirzontal Tab

Showing Appreciation

 

 

 

 

 

 
I absolutely love getting an encouraging note from someone telling me they appreciate me or my work.

My number one love language is Words of Affirmation.  Words drive me.  I constantly struggle with self-doubt and always wonder if I’m ever making an impact on the world around me.

For International Women’s Day in 2018 I decided that I need to show appreciation to the women I look up to as positive role models every day.  I messaged several of them on Facebook with a simple note saying I appreciate what they do and to thank them for being a great role model.  The responses I received warmed my heart.  They showed appreciation for my message and even offered encouraging words for me.  It was exactly what I needed to hear on a day when I felt a little down.

Have you told your role models thank you recently?  It may seem weird at first but a simple message of thanks can mean a lot to that person.  You may even get a very nice note back!

It’s very simple to do…

Think of the people who you look up to in your life.  Are there colleagues that you admire?  Does a family member need a “you’re appreciated” note?  Has a person you only met a few times inspired you in the past?

Tell them!

It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out letter.  Just a simple, “Hey!  I wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you for being such a positive role model!  I’m thankful for your friendship!”

I promise it will make the day of whoever you send it to and make you feel great in the process.