2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Well hello! Yes, I’m still here! It’s been an overwhelming fall season (and early winter…) to say the least but I’ve got quite a few blog-post ideas up my sleeve so keep an eye out! However, since we’re so close to Christmas (and I missed Hanukkah completely), I wanted to dive into holiday gift ideas for all the beautiful women in your life or just for yourself. And yes, I get myself Christmas gifts. :) Because why not?

Honestly, one of my favorite things to do is give gifts to people. I’ve said this so many times to people but if I had all the money in the world, I would love, love, love to spend it giving people gifts or experiences.

Although I’m a bit late on this post, I know many of you still have plenty of holiday shopping to do! Below are all of my gift ideas, either things that I own and love or things that I know would make great gifts this year (*cough*mightbeonmylist*cough*).

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Holiday Gift Guide 2018

1. Modestly M Kansas Candle

I love candles, I love Kansas City, and I love anything with a bee on it so when I saw this candle I absolutely had to get it for myself. Modestly M Candle Co is a local Kansas City small-batch soy candle company and I love supporting small businesses. I found my candle in a Hallmark store but you can also order them online.

2. Hydroflask Water Bottle.

I don’t actually own this one yet (on my Christmas list!) but I have heard nothing but good things about them. After asking several people (okay, really just my cousin) I’m going with the 32oz. I also want the straw lid because I’m the type of person who spills all over themselves when trying to drink out of a regular water bottle… As an FYI, you can find these a little cheaper at other stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods!

3. Athleta Elation Tight in Powervita.

Omgyouguys. These tights feel like BUTTER. I used to think that was just a saying until I tried these tights on! If I didn’t’ have to dress for like “work” every day, I would wear these constantly.

4. Beautycounter Mini Lip Gloss Vault.

While this is a lot of lip gloss for one person, it’s the perfect thing to use for stocking stuffers or add-on’s with other gifts that you’re getting friends and family. There are so many colors so you can give the perfect one to each of your friends. I’m dying to try the Peony color!

5. Cuyana Classic Leather Zipper Tote.

This gift is definitely on the pricier end, but I’ve had this bag for a few months now and I am completely obsessed. I’d been using the large Longchamp tote for over 10 years and I decided to replace it with something else. I love this bag because it has a zipper on top (easy for airports or clumsy people like me, plus one of the two inside pockets also has a zipper. That was my biggest issue with the Longchamp bag - if my bag tipped at all, EVERYTHING would come flying out. I did, however, add a base inside the bag so it’s flat at the bottom instead of “droopy” but that was super easy to do. And obviously got it monogrammed ;)

6. Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag, Sandwich Bag.

I've been slowly but surely trying to use less plastic and these reusable bags have been so amazing! I felt like I was using SO MANY plastic baggies and with this bag, you can rinse it out, hand wash it or throw it in the dishwasher and use it over and over again for years. It comes in several sizes as well. I have the sandwich bag size and the snack bag size. 

7. Audible Membership.

I tend to take a lot of long road trips but whether someone you know enjoys books on long walks, on their commute or just when they’re doing things around the house, Audible is a great resource for getting new books. I also use the library but you have to wait a long while for newer, popular books! With Audible you can start them off with a one, three, six or twelve month membership as a gift.

8. JCrew Tortoise Hoop Earrings.

Another wishlist item! I saw someone wearing them and can't stop thinking about getting these earrings. I actually want to plug ALL JCrew Factory earrings because they're really not expensive (especially when on sale!) and they have cute options for all different styles - fun and funky to classic and simple. Edited to add: I received THESE earrings in multicolor as a gift yesterday and am in love! A more “fun” version of tortoise!

9. A Book!

I’m a pretty big fan of books and I always think they’re a great gift. Some suggestions for this holiday season are Becoming by Michelle Obama (on my list!) or The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (one of the best books I read all year!).

10. Best of Beautycounter Set.

This set is the perfect gift for a friend who loves skincare or someone who is interested in removing toxins from their life. This set includes four of the most popular items that Beautycounter offers: the cleansing balm, Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion, No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil, and No. 3 Balancing Facial Mask. The lotion is what I’ve been using for over a year and the No. 1 oil is my favorite because it’s so refreshing on my skin in the morning - like orange juice for your face!

Every Day You Have A Choice

At the end of October, an amazing person, friend, mother, wife and aunt left this world. I would have said her light went out but her light hasn’t gone anywhere and that is exactly why I decided to write this post.

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When I stop to think about the kind of person I want to be and the impression I want to leave on those who I encounter in life, I have a handful of women I look to as role models. Each of them have certain attributes I would love to have within myself. Don’t worry, I do realize that I cannot just combine the best traits of my role models and become some kind of super woman. No one is perfect and I am certainly not. I can, however, learn things from each of them and try to apply those lessons to my own life.

The biggest lesson I have learned from my Aunt Julie, and was so eloquently shared by my cousins at her memorial service, was that each day you have a choice: you can choose to have a good day or a bad day.

While we cannot control our circumstances, as she could not control her cancer, we can control our attitude and she fought with a smile on her face and kindness to those around her. I heard countless stories of how she befriended the nurses in the hospital, went to spinning class within a day after chemotherapy and was a loving human being to everyone around her. The nearly one-thousand people who attended her service are a testimony to the lives that she touched with her incredibly bright light.

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As someone who has battled anxiety and depression for most of my life, choosing to have a good day is hard. If I’m having a bad day, I want to have my bad day. I want to wallow in it and show my pain to others. The past year or so I’ve been trying so hard to be positive instead of negative. To choose my attitude.

However, I have not tried more than I have these past few days back at work. I wallowed last week in my grief and how heartbroken I felt for her husband and children. But on Monday, I decided that I would have a good day no matter how bad I felt when I woke up. I chose to be positive, joyful and kind to others. To say I’m a work in progress is an understatement but trying is certainly better than nothing.

Julie said something to me once I will never forget and will always make me laugh: “Life is too short for uncomfortable underwear.” While sound advice in and of itself, I think it’s metaphorical as well. If something was wrong, Julie didn’t complain - she did what she could to fix it and moved forward with a smile on her face. She knew that life is too precious to let things keep you down.

Every day we all have a choice to have a good day or a bad day. What are you going to choose today? Because I’m going to choose to look at every positive aspect of my day instead of complaining. I’m going to choose to be happy and kind to others no matter what. Lastly, I’m going to choose to be grateful because gratitude leads to happiness, not the other way around.


On a separate note - two of Julie’s daughters ran the NYC Marathon to raise money for Cholangiocarcinoma, which is a rare, and unfortunately fairly underfunded, form of liver & bile duct cancer that my Aunt Julie fought for over two years. To donate to their fundraising efforts, click here. Every gift makes a difference to both their fundraising and the support that they feel from our community.

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Catching Up On Life

Remember that one time? When I said I was going to start blogging again?

Whoops.

However, I can’t be too hard on myself for that one as these past two months have been quite a doozy. I kept thinking of the blog and wanting to write but I just didn’t know what I wanted to say! I figure, instead of coming up with a specific topic, I’d share with you what’s been going on in my life over the past month or so.

1. Let’s start off with the biggest news:

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I only have one kidney now!

That’s right! You probably already know this if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, but I donated my kidney to someone very special to me. Surgery took place just over four weeks ago on Tuesday, September 25th and we are both doing well.

I went into the process knowing that it would be painful physically but I had no idea what a rollercoaster it would be emotionally.

I’d never had any kind of surgery or stayed in a hospital so, while our transplant center was amazing, it was still a completely new and somewhat overwhelming experience. And then just a few days later, they sent me on my way! I have to admit, it was scary to leave the safety of the hospital.

I also tended to cry at the drop of a hat. Any kind of semi-emotional conversation turned me into a fountain and I couldn’t figure out quite why I was down so much but I soon discovered that post-transplant depression is fairly common (thank you Living Donor Facebook groups!).

A friend of mine described the feeling very eloquently in her comment on one of my Instagram posts:

We learn, in its own way, being a donor can be just as, if not more difficult than a recipient. To lose something, to go in completely healthy and come out less than whole, to undergo more difficult surgery, to be dealing with the pressure of chronic illness without the time to process. You’re not alone. You’re a hero, even when it seems over time everyone forgot what you went through, you are still and will always be a hero.”

BUT I’m doing so much better now and I’m back in Denver and semi-back to work. I think I’m going to have to create a whole blog post about my experience.

2. I spent a month in Kansas City.

Because of surgery recovery, I spent a month living with my parents in Kansas City. Honestly, I thought I’d get tired of it after a couple weeks but that was not the case. I absolutely loved being home and spending all that time with my family and the many amazing friends and family members who came by to visit us. Plus, two of my friends flew in from San Francisco and Santa Fe (both SF?!?) to visit me, which was so much fun.

The best part? I got to watch FOUR CHIEFS GAMES with my mom! We’re pretty big fans…

I know that Colorado is where I’m meant to be right now, but I sure do love KC.

3. I’ll be thirty-one next week!

It’s kind of hard to follow those last two… But I guess my birthday is cool? Honestly, these past few weeks have been so overwhelming that I can’t imagine even more fanfare over my birthday. Can I push it back and celebrate in like January? :)

So many different emotions about moving past the age of thirty and where I am in life right now… Not sure how to even begin with that one. If you have advice on moving into your thirties, especially not being where you thought you’d be by now in life, please share!

4. I’m going to D A L L A S!

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I’ve been to this conference twice before and I almost didn’t go this year. However, I knew two of my amazing friends from Chicago (and coaching) were going to be there. They are the kind of people I can be real with, who get me and who can LIFT ME UP! So I had to sign up to go.

Bonus? I GET TO SEE JULIE!!!! Remember the best wedding I’ve ever been to? That was Julie. She and her husband and their two adorable little boys live in Dallas now and I’m going to see her as well!

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5. I promise I’ll blog more…

What do you want to hear about? Drop it in the comments or send me an email :)