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While I believe it is important to remain in a grateful state all year long, there is no denying that November is definitely the month of gratitude. It is the time of year when we are reminded to count our blessings.  I always tend to get a little more sentimental during the holiday season and Thanksgiving is all about, well…giving thanks of course. But the reality is that the holiday season can be very stressful too. So, I want to give you a few tips to help you remain in gratitude amidst the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season.

If you picked up a copy of this month’s O, The Oprah Magazine you may have read my overdue thank you titled Dear Mom. I revisited my biggest personal struggle and thanked my mom, who I didn’t see as a support at all during my teenage years. Our strained relationship (which my teenage self also played a huge role in) felt more adversarial back then. But the reality is that sometimes we really can’t see the forest for the trees. When you are in the thick of things everything can look different but when the clouds (or trees) clear you can see everything a little more clearly and with a little more grace.

So, while we all know that it is easy to say how grateful we are for things or people in our lives when things are going well, it can be harder when things aren’t coming up roses.

Here are three simple steps you can do throughout the day to foster an attitude of gratitude- even during your most challenging days.

Start each morning with gratitude journaling-Even on my toughest days I always start my day by listing a few things I am grateful for. Some people actually journal about their grateful thoughts, but for me I commit to simply writing down a few things I am grateful for in that very moment on that very day. Sometimes its a few sentences if I want to focus on an event happening but many times it just a name or a word or two. I do this in my planner because it is part of my ritual. Even if your planner doesn’t have a space specifically for gratitude it probably has some white space next to a to do list area. I simply title it Gratitude and jot down a few things that bring me a feeling of warmth or joy right then. This shifts me to a grateful state before even starting in on my to do list. If you aren’t planner obsessed that’s okay too. Simply take a moment and acknowledge a few things you are grateful for before you start your day.

During the day send an email, text or simply phone a friend or family member with a compliment or a simple I am thinking of you or I love you-thinking about a positive trait that a friend or a loved one has makes you feel a sense of gratitude for having loving, encouraging, inspiring or positive people in your life. When we focus on the shortcomings of our friends and family members (and trust me we all have shortcomings) it doesn’t really do much for our overall state of joy or happiness. When we shift that focus to the positive it helps to move us into a more grateful state. Taking the time to send a quick message about those thoughts not only uplifts the recipient but it does the same for you. It also creates a space where you become accustomed to communicating that way and it won’t be long before you are reminded that you’re being thought of warmly by a friend or family member too.

End your day by thanking yourself (your body, your mind, your creativity…) –This one can be a little tougher than the others. We have been taught to thank others since childhood but it is a little harder to learn to extend that same courtesy to ourselves. Come up with an affirmation or challenge yourself to thank yourself for something new each day.  It is often said that the voice in our head is the one we hear most often. How true! Make sure you hear a daily thanks from you to you!

Those are my three little steps to remaining in gratitude. The headline of the November O Mag says that Gratitude Shifts your Attitude! I couldn’t agree more and I think that doing what you can to remain in a grateful state all the time, and not just when you’re winning, is the real way to live in harmony!

I would love to hear your thoughts and let me know if you read the article in O Mag too!

Until next post,

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I’ve always done things before I was truly ready. Actually, I’ve almost always done things that other people didn’t quite think I was ready for. I went back to school and eventually got my Master’s degree when I was a divorced mom of two. My father who actually was my biggest supporter (but was also a very practical guy) was quick to let me know that there was no way I could do that with two kids. I bought my first house under 30 (again as a young, single mom) and quit my steady job that I’d held for over a decade to take a substitute counseling position instead of waiting for a full time position to become available. Now, granted… I can understand why everyone was concerned about that last one. I wasn’t just going for something new. I was also giving up something pretty important. I was quitting a pretty good paying job with health benefits and a retirement plan to take a chance on a substitute position working out. Everyone thought I was crazy but you know what? It worked out. I was hired full-time within a month.

The funny thing about me rattling off this short list of life changing accomplishments is that there are probably 100 more times that I took a chance on something that didn’t work out. But the reality is I really don’t remember those times. The chances I took that didn’t lead me to great destinations are merely blips in the road that aren’t even worthy of a rearview mirror glance. I’m always looking forward and you can to. Here’s how to Stop Waiting and Do it Now.

  1. Take baby steps- When I say I went back to school and eventually got my Master’s degree, I didn’t just say “Hey, i’m going to grad school by any means necessary!”(although hats off to you if you are that bold). I started out by taking a class or two and figuring out how that would work for my family logistically and financially. I took baby steps until I felt confident enough and secure enough with my family plan to go all in. Most likely taking one small step towards your goal isn’t going to lead to a major set back. You will have time to assess and decide how to continue that forward motion. Essentially you will be building a little baby CAN DO Muscle.
  2. Expand on what you’re already good at- A lot of the time we don’t do the next thing because we lack the confidence. We come up with tons of reasons and make excuses for why we can’t do this or that, but most often we are simply afraid. We’re afraid that we CAN’T do the thing so it’s easier to make up reasons why we could have, but chose not to. A great way to build your CAN DO confidence is by expanding on something that you are already pretty good at. If you are a confident dancer like my younger daughter then taking up Zumba and even getting certified to teach might come easy to you. It did for my youngest daughter. If you are a talented writer and you were an English major in college, then why not start your own blog? That also worked out for my oldest daughter.  Or maybe you take great pictures so why not learn more about the photography business? Chances are you are going to be in a class of your own. You’ll have an advantage over all the people like me who just try anything. Having that level of confidence in your  basic ability will help you strengthen your CAN DO muscle.
  3. Learn something new- Once you’ve begun to strengthen your CAN DO Muscle it’s time to flex it a little. Try something completely new. The good thing about learning something that you have no prior knowledge in, is that there is nowhere to go but up. Failure isn’t even really failure because you still walk away knowing more than when you started even if that knowledge is simply this is not for me. I took a cake decorating class once with a friend and it was so much fun. Now granted, I was horrible at it, but I learned about how hard it is to do something that looks easy. I also learned about what goes into cake decorating and most importantly I learned that I like purchasing beautiful cakes, not making them. Was I embarrassed or saddened by my failure? Not at all. A room full of people failed right along with me… but at least we tried. There were a few decorating stars in the room that day, but they were most likely those who were expanding on what they already knew. I was flexing my try something new muscle and had no skin in the game, meaning my failure didn’t feel like failure at all.
  4. Throw your hat in the ring for big things-Okay, now that you’ve learned to flex its time to jump in the ring. You’re ready now to do the thing that YOU may not even think you can do. Forget the naysayers or the fear of looking like a failure. These are the things that even you realize are a long shot. But the reality is you still have a shot. If they’re asking for applications or submissions and you meet even the most minimum requirement then apply! When I applied to be an O Mag Insider I didn’t think for one minute that I would really make the cut but lo and behold I did, and I am still loving the program two years later. If I hadn’t been selected I probably wouldn’t even be thinking about that now. I would still read my Oprah Magazines each month with no level of disappointment because I knew it was a long shot, but applied anyway. There is freedom in that. There’s very little disappointment when there’s no expectation and then, if and when it does work out there’s a whole lot of room for celebration!

So, these are my tips for building up your ability to do it now.  I’d love to hear what you think. And, remember that most people are doing things that they never thought they were truly qualified for. We are all a work in progress. The only difference between them and you is that they chose to DO!

Until Next Post,

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I wrote a post a while back on How to Be Graceful. It is one of my most popular posts. It was more of an ode to my beautiful late grandmother, which really highlighted her interactions with friends and strangers alike. I want to expand on that and talk about elegance. While I believe grace has more to do with your external interactions, I think that elegance is more internal. It’s more about how you see yourself in the world and then how you project that self-image outwardly.

Here are 5 Things That Elegant Women Know

That beauty is as beauty does– There are lots of beautiful women in the world but we don’t always classify them as elegant. Elegance and beauty are not synonymous. You can turn on your television to a reality show of your choice or the latest music video and you are bound to see striking women looking back at you on your screen, but more often than not the way they view themselves doesn’t project elegance. Elegant women know that beauty begins on the inside. They know how to foster self-confidence and self-esteem which allows them to vibrate higher. You won’t see an elegant woman engaging in petty squabbles but you will see her fighting, advocating, and doing work to help those who are disenfranchised. I haven’t met an elegant woman yet who isn’t doing some sort of philanthropy or advocacy around a passion that she has. Elegant women are fiery on the inside and use that fire to make a difference in the world.

How to take a compliment– An elegant woman knows that there is only one way to respond to a compliment. She doesn’t launch into some self-deprecating monologue or over the top response meant to elicit more praise. She knows how to offer a genuine response and not to let flattery go to her head. In the same vein, an elegant woman knows how to take criticism and isn’t overly moved by either. She knows who she is in the world and doesn’t seek validation. She is however appreciative and sincere when she delivers the only acceptable response to a compliment, which of course is simply Thank you.

How to dress for an occasion-Elegant women know that dressing well is a form of good manners. An elegant woman dresses to match the occasion, not to overshadow a host or cause a stir. She checks the dress code and chooses her outfit accordingly. She knows her body and what looks good on her and she knows the rule I like to call- Two tights don’t make a right! Also simply known as  Balance is key. If her top is fitted her bottom is flowy and vice versa. Risk taking is okay but never at the cost of looking like she’s wearing a costume. Her clothes are always the highest quality she can afford and tasteful.

That Self Care is vital- An elegant woman knows that you can’t pour from an empty cup. A lot of what we think of when an elegant woman comes to mind might be her physical attributes-manicured nails, well-styled hair, flawless skin, but those things are a result of the time and effort she puts into taking care of her herself. An elegant woman knows that there are no shortcuts that produce the same results of putting in the work of truly caring for yourself. She also knows that running herself ragged is the opposite of elegant behavior. An elegant woman knows how to say no. She isn’t running around trying to be all things to all people! She knows her worth and that her time is valuable. While she is caring and nurturing to others, she remembers to extend that same loving care to herself.

That Evolving is key- Elegant women know that learning and growing is the key to staying that way. They realize that it’s important to be well read, up on current events and well versed in many activities. An elegant woman takes opportunities to learn new activities, new languages, new cultures, and new customs through travel and local explorations. She isn’t a relic, she keeps evolving.

The good thing about being elegant is that anyone can decide to bring a little more elegance into their lives. Remember that elegance, like class, isn’t about money. It is more about having a mindset of sophistication that starts on the inside and then shines out!

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on elegance. If you haven’t read my post on grace yet, you can read it here.

Until Next Post,

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This week was mostly spent inside praying that Hurricane Florence would not morph into the monster storm that the forecasters predicted it would be. Our area got very lucky. My heart goes out to my Carolina brothers and sisters. Even though the VA governor issued an evacuation order which caused our schools and many businesses to shut down for the week, it was mostly uneventful here. Just a little rain and wind. I am definitely a better safe than sorry kind of person, so I tried to make the most of my down time and practice some self-care which actually looked more like lounging around in my pj’s until at least noon. Here’s what else I did.

Where I went-the Mariners Museum Park and Noland Trail pretty much sits in my backyard. Okay, it’s about a mile down the road, but pretty much the same thing. I love visiting Museums in my area but what really drew me out the other day was the gorgeous Lions Bridge Dam. I stumbled upon it while house hunting last month and couldn’t wait to check it out up close. The Dam has a scenic view of the James River and gorgeous lion sculptures that were created in 1932 by the museum owner’s wife.

Now, if we’re connected on IG you may have seen my story where I shared that there was quite a bit of commotion at the bridge. If not, i’ll give you the readers digest version (aka the short story for my millennial readers).  A crowd had gathered and a park ranger was standing at the bank of the river with binoculars. Turns out a dog had gotten off his leash chasing ducks and jumped into the lake. He swam way out refusing to come when his owners called him. I had no idea what the big deal was until someone yelled “He’s giving up!” and I am not exaggerating when I say a hush fell over the crowd, just like in the movies. He’d swum to the other side and tried to come back but had gotten so tired that he was really struggling.The crowd was giving up too but the owner persisted. “Come on Boss!” she yelled and to make a long story short Boss made it ashore. According to the crowd he’d tried to swim back four times. So my takeaway from that was my mantra from for the second half of this year #KeepSwimming. You never know when your breakthrough is coming. Don’t give up friends! 

Now, back to the park… Here’s a list of the best parks in every State in case you want to check out a few for yourself.

Here what I watched-A Simple Favor-I enjoyed this plot twisty movie even though I am not a thriller kind of girl. I mostly wanted to see it because of Blake, Anna and the good looking guy from Crazy Rich Asians. While it is suspenseful it is also humorous and very intriguing. I would just warn that if you have young tweens who love Blake and Anna or even the heartthrob from CRA it might not be the film for them. If you have no idea what movie I’m even talking about here’s a trailer.

Here’s what I read-The October Issue of Oprah Magazine-I get excited about every issue of O, The Oprah Magazine which is probably why I am a brand ambassador for them, but I loved the What’s Beautiful to You Issue. I am certainly a person who appreciates beauty in every form but I have to tell you that travel has revealed the most beautiful scenery for me. Alaska was probably the most breathtaking  place I have seen so far, but even last year while driving to my friend’s daughter’s wedding in Lexington, Virginia I had a beautiful encounter. I was actually feeling quite frustrated on my long drive through windy roads (thanks GPS) as I traveled the two hours by myself. I felt nervous and anxious on those back country roads (I’m more of a highway/city driver). And then…I stumbled upon a mountain view that made me literally stop my car and stare. There was a lookout point where people were doing just that. I didn’t get out and join them because I was pressed for time. “That right there is God’s work!” I said to myself. And,  I’ll say to you, that I believe that anything that makes you stop in your tracks to admire it and thank the creator is true beauty to me!

But speaking of O, The Oprah Magazine. They are launching a new digital Magazine this Fall. You can stay tuned here.

Here’s where I ate-I had a lunch date with my daughter at Thaijindesu, a Thai Fusion restaurant in our neighborhood. I absolutely love Thai food but my husband always says he hasn’t found “his dish” yet. He’s pretty open-minded about food and we love trying new things. I’m on a mission to have him love Thai as much as I do. So for him and for you (if you aren’t into Thai cuisine but want to give it a try) I found a list of popular must try Thai dishes. Though the article is about a visit to Thailand (sign me up for that trip!)You can find these in your local Thai restaurants so you don’t have to travel too far to enjoy them.

So that’s it for this week. I would love to hear about your week too!

Until Next Post,

Oh, and Keep Swimming…

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Hi Friends! Popping in for a quick recap. First I have to ask why do short weeks feel so long? If you read last week’s recap you know that I moved last week so my life has mostly consisted of unwrapping things and trying to figure out a place for them in our new home. I am still not done, but despite my unpacking woes I do have a quick and fun recap for you.

Here’s What I did– Shot my IG Pics for my So Slimming Juliet’s pant collaboration with Chico’s– Shooting content is always so much fun. I really need behind the scenes video to show the madness. For everyone who comments about how great my photos are, I’d love to show you my camera roll. There are tons of bloopers there. The key is to just keep shooting. My daughter takes my pics and we typically laugh (and sweat- come on fall temps) more than we shoot. Check out my IG @therealchiclife to see our final shot and learn about why I love those pants so much!

Here’s where I went– Date night with my husband. We do a pretty good job of keeping up with consistent date nights even when things are a little hairy in our worlds. It’s a great way to check in with each other and block out all the work/life stuff. We are selling our other house and that process is always oh so much fun (definite sarcasm here) so we decided that we wanted to do something a little more adventurous for dinner instead of our typical upscale spots. So, we headed to a local bar with great food. I highly recommend this from time to time. It was fun to try to talk over the loud music and keep up with all the happenings in such a youthful fun spot. So, if you’re looking to shake up your dinner routine, ditch the white tablecloth go-to, find the happening bar in your neighborhood and have dinner and drinks there instead. Here’s a list of the Most Fun Bars in Every State!

Here’s what I watched– So many IG stories highlighting New York Fashion Week. @sassyredlipstick, @Tanyafosterblog, @fashionshouldbefun,  and @Iamnikkifree all had great IG stories. It’s fun to watch your friends (and your friends in your head) enjoy fashion week up close and personal. I am definitely attending this spring for all the fall fashion for 2019! Here’s a great highlight of all the spring 2019  Trends debuting at NY Fashion Week Right Now.

Here’s what I read– So now that we are in a new city I’m looking into local farmers markets. I love grabbing fresh finds from local markets but I don’t do it quite enough. I’ve gotten several “word of mouth” recommendations for the best ones near me. If you’re looking to start shopping local this article by Bon Appetit gives you Tips To Shop Farmer’s Markets Like a Pro.

And for all of you that loved Crazy Rich Asians this real-life version of “Crazy Rich Asians” from Harper’s BAZAAR is very interesting!

So, that this week’s recap friends! I would love to hear about what you did or what you loved this week too!

Until Next Post,

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