Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Favorite Products- Hair & Skin

I love getting product recommendations from people. It's how I find some of the best products. With that said, I get asked all the time about what products I use.
So I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorites!
I will do another favorites post on makeup coming soon.

*affiliate links are included in this post. I use Amazon a lot, because, Prime.

Let's start with hair products.

↓BRIGHTENING SHAMPOO↓
My favorite shampoo for keeping my blonde, well, BLONDE, and not brassy, is Blonde Ale from Dry Bar. I wash my hair about once a week with this purple shampoo. For all you brunettes tryna be blonde... this stuff is AMAZING!

↓LEAVE IN CONDITIONER↓
I have been using this leave in conditioner for YEARS. I spray it on my hair after I get out of the shower and my brush just slides though. No tangles.
↓DRY SHAMPOO↓
I have tried ALL THE DRY SHAMPOOS. All of them. This one, is my fave. It smells amazing and I use it pretty much every day. Since, yannow, I don't wash my hair but about once every 4-5 days.
PRO TIP: if you are one of the people that thinks that dry shampoo isn't for you, or you've tried it and it hasn't worked.. you are most likely trying to use it too late, i.e., after your hair is already oily and dirty. Use it as a preventative measure- I even use dry shampoo on my clean hair for added texture. 
My 2nd favorite dry shampoo is Amika. It also smells awesome and is cruelty free. 
↓HAIR SPRAY↓
I have been using this hairspray for years. It is my favorite for great hold, but not stiffness!
↓HAIR MASK↓
This is how I use it as a hair mask.. The night before washing my hair the next day, I will soak the ends of my hair in coconut oil, like lather it up from about mid shaft to the ends. Then I braid it and sleep in it. Make sure you put a towel on your pillow because oil will get on your pillowcases. 
Then I wake up the next morning and wash it out in the shower with shampoo (Blonde Ale) and conditioner.
My hair is SOOOOO soft and doesn't feel dry at all. 
If your hair is brittle, dry, or color treated A) don't wash it every day and B) try this!
As far as my hair color goes, here is where I will plug my amazing hairstylist. 
Viviana Dean at Peachy Keen Studio in Dallas does my color and she is AMAZING!
Go see her and tell her I sent you!
Moving on to skincare. 
I am BIG on taking care of my skin. I used to not be like that, but I've been focusing on correcting sun damage for the past 2 years and have really upped my skincare game.
I will do a full post on my mini fraxel laser treatments I've done on my face, which has helped my skin TREMENDOUSLY. Laura Harris at Regional Skin and Laser did my treatments and I highly recommend them.
Until then, let's talk about the products I use to maintain my skin routine.
I get most of my products from Laura at Regional Skin and Laser.
ZO Medical Foamacleanse
This is the facial cleanser I use every night before bed. 
via
EraClea Pure Hydration Serum/Zinc
I put this serum on after I wash my face at night.

via
ZO Medical BrightAlive
This is the "moisturizer" I use after I apply my serum. It helps break up hyperpigmentation and brightens my skin.
via
Rodan + Fields Microdermabrasion Paste
I use the microdermabrasion paste about 3 times a week in the morning when I wake up. It makes my skin super smooth and helps get rid of blackheads. 
via
Rodan + Fields Lash Boost
I have been using Lash Boost for 4 months now. I took off my lash extensions because I was having allergic reactions every time I got them filled. 
When I took off my extensions, my real lashes were short and stubby. So I started using Lash Boost and I am SOLD. 
It has grown my lashes and made them full again. 
I also get a lash tint and lash lift from my girl, Anya
No more extensions for me!
via
Below is a before and during or my results with Lash Boost. I have no mascara on in either picture!
The bottom is after a lash lift and tint. The top is after taking off my lash extensions. 
Pictures are 3 1/2 months apart. 

Last but not least is the product that I have started implementing EVERY DAY, RAIN OR SHINE!
SUNSCREEN!
If I could tell you one thing it would be to PROTECT YOUR SKIN!
I have had to do a lot of damage control to correct my mistakes of not using sunscreen over the years.
My favorite facial sunscreen is Elta MD SPF 40.
It doesn't smell bad and goes on great and not greasy. I simply put it on after washing my face and before putting on any makeup. 


Hope this gave you some great product tips or new things to try out!
Makeup post will be up soon. :)

xo

Friday, May 19, 2017

What I've Learned about Business and Marketing, and How You Can Work From Home

So now that you know a little backstory on what I do and how I make money, I'm going to talk to you about a few things.

I am ALL FOR vehicles that help others fill those financial gaps. I don't care if you see that vehicle in the form of a direct sales company, like AdvoCare or Herbalife, or if it's jewelry like Stella & Dot, or beauty companies like Younique or Rodan + Fields.... it doesn't matter!
Find something you BELIVE IN and run with it.
For me, it was AdvoCare. I love health and wellness and I love the results I get from products and how amazing they make me feel.
If you love something else, AWESOME! I will NEVER push AdvoCare on anyone, nor will I ever say a bad word about someone trying to better their life and family through a direct sales company.
These companies are designed to help ease the financial burden, provide extra "fun money", or help pay the bills every month.

With that said, there ARE wrong ways to do it.
      -Blowing up your newsfeed with XYZ  is one of them. A good rule of thumb is 1 out of every 5 or 6 posts can be about your company.
Don't do it more than that. That's the fastest way to lose your audience and the easiest way for people to get annoyed with not only YOU, but the product you're selling- EVEN IF THEY'VE NEVER EVEN TRIED IT!
     -Direct sales jumping is another way.
Like I said, pick something and stick with it. People need to see you are serious about the product, that you are a product of the product, and that you're not just hopping on the next bandwagon that comes along. This means don't jump ship on one thing and move to the next just a few weeks later.
Give it time and effort- IT IS A BUSINESS! If you're working it like a business, it WILL PAY you as a business!
     -Plug into your leaders and mentors. Learn from the people that have gone before you and have been successful. Most direct sales companies focus on self improvement, something that is ESSENTIAL for entrepreneurs!
READ ALL THE BOOKS YOU CAN!
I recommend starting with the following:

-How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
-Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class by Keith Cameron Smith
-Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
-#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
-The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller

The upside to direct sales is that the business plan is already laid out for you- all you have to do is GIVE IT 110%!

I am also ALL FOR other ways to earn additional income, like starting your own business, with your own product.
Find something you love, something you're good at, and find a way to monetize it.
Are you good at making bows? Awesome, make a bunch, market the crap out of them, and open an Etsy store.

Do you know how I started learning about marketing? When I had the old blog I reached out to people on Etsy asking if they would donate items so I could give them away when I hit certain follower milestones on the blog.
By doing this, I was automatically helping out the Etsy store owner, by giving them free advertising on their products, but I was also giving people an incentive to follow my blog.
One of the first people I reached out to was Vanessa at Ruffles With Love.
She was making workout tanks in her spare time, she also had a full time job. I asked her to donate a few tanks and she then began getting a lot of orders because I was promoting her products. She began offering me a discount code, so my readers could get a discount on her products, and by default she could track how many people were coming to her from me.
Fast forward to today, and that little side gig Vanessa had, has now turned into a full time job for her. She has also recently opened up her own online boutique, as well.
No, it's not because of me, she did that on her own, I'm simply sharing what can happen when you market correctly!

I did this with another company you may recognize as well, Kiki LaRue.
The owner, Becka, reached out to me several years ago. At the time, she was running her store out of her house and just starting out.
She has now grown to having an online store, a store front boutique and is opening several more in different locations.
She has EXPLODED over the years, because she marketed her brand like a mad woman.

These are a few of the things I began to pick up when I was writing my blog.
Like I've said, I didn't know people even got paid for blogging. I didn't ever expect that to happen or know it was possible.
But once I got laid off from my job in the corporate world, I began thinking "how can I monetize what I'm already doing?"

No, that's not greedy, IT'S BUSINESS.

I was already sharing products I was taking and loving with people via social media. Sure, I made some extra money through ads on my website and affiliate links, but I began to think bigger.
Companies were reaching out to me like crazy wanting me to promote their products. In the beginning, I did it for free. I thought, "cool, I'll link to your store for a free shirt", or whatever.
But once I began to put it in perspective, I was getting the crap end of the deal.
I was basically advertising for companies for free. They were getting thousands of dollars in product orders because people were buying from my recommendations, and I was getting, what, a free t-shirt/product?
I began sending out a media kit and charging for posts promoting products.
I'd only promote the products I loved, because I knew that's how I'd gained trust from my readers in the beginning. I didn't want to start shelling out some slim tea or whatever, just for a buck.

Don't sell yourself short.
Know your worth.

THAT'S BUSINESS.

Once you begin thinking like an entrepreneur, the possibilities are endless.

If you're looking to earn extra money from home and you already have a product, I recommend reaching out to people with followings. Ask to send them a product in exchange for them posting. What's the worst they can say, no?
When you do this, realize some of them may have caught on and will now send out a media kit, charging you for posting. It usually goes- people with a larger following can charge more.

Host giveaways, ask for product donations from people, telling them you will promote their product in your giveaway, which gives them free advertising. This will help grow your following as well.

Ask for a coupon code on their products for your readers/followers. That way the company can track how many people you are sending their way.

GAIN THE TRUST OF YOUR FOLLOWING.
Don't sell them crap you would't personally use or love.
It basically all boils down to this:
Take care of people, and they'll take care of you.

Anyone can earn income from home, we all have talents or things we're good at. You've just got to find a way to monetize it!

If anything, I hope this post helps you take that leap of faith and gives you the belief that YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!



xo











Thursday, May 11, 2017

Making It Work

When my ex and I split we decided no matter how hard it was going to be on US, that we'd never make it difficult for the kids.
We decided we were going to handle the divorce ourselves. No lawyers, no child support, no arguing.
I left the house and the life we'd built together for the past 12 years and I took my clothes and half the kids clothes to my parents house.
The boys and I lived there for a little over half a year. Mind you, I had recently been laid off from my job and now add a divorce on top of that.
It was stressful. There were days when the only thing that got me out of bed was my boys.

Now I know not everyone can do this, but I NEEDED to start my life over. I didn't know HOW I was going to do that, or what I was going to do for money, I just knew that if I didn't do it NOW, I never would have.
I was too proud to ask for money from anyone, so I made it work.
I began monetizing the thing I was already doing, sharing my life via social media. At some point I will get into all of that, and how I made money with that blog, which lead to many other business ventures.
At the time, I was making some extra money with AdvoCare, just by sharing the products I was taking, loving and getting great results with. So I decided to switch gears and focus on my AdvoCare business, which is what allows me to be a flexible work from home mom today.
You can watch my entire AdvoCare story HERE.

Back to the split... It was hard.
All the things you acquire together over the course of 12 years is a lot.
I wanted none of it. I wanted to grow and bloom into this person I was becoming. I wanted to buy things with my own money (that I had NONE of at that time). I wanted to be independent and know I could support not only myself, but the boys too.
I hadn't had to balance a checkbook since I was 18, my ex husband controlled all of the money, which left me feeling clueless and powerless. I had been taken care of for 12 years, so being on my own, now with two kids to support, terrified me.
This is where I was really tested. Where my mindset went from corporate employee to entrepreneur. I started thinking in terms of survival. How much money did I need to move out of my parents house and into my own house? How much money did I need to furnish the entire house and all of things I'd left behind?
I remember the very first thing I bought on my own was bunk beds for the boys. I was so proud of those bunk beds, because it symbolized hope for me. Hope that I could do this, that I could fully support them and give them everything they needed.

The hardest part was watching the boys through all of it. They were 4 and 2 at the time and all they knew was mommy and daddy together, in the same house.
It broke my heart into a million pieces the first time my 2 year old asked me "mommy, when are we going home?" while laying in bed one night at my parents house.
I had to force back the tears in my eyes.
I will never forget that moment and how ashamed and broken I felt.
I felt responsible, like I was letting them down, like we'd never be a family again, like I could have tried harder for them.
And I tried, for years I tried. There is only so much a person can take and although it was harder now that I had them to think about, I knew in my heart of hearts I was making the right decision.

I am here to tell you, if you are going through something similar, cling to your babies. They need you and you need them in times like that.
I am also here to tell you, it gets better.
I don't know another way to say that, but I hope you truly believe that it DOES.
Sometimes we are just so caught up in the NOW, that we can't imagine it being any better.
We think we will always feel broken and the wounds will never heal.
They do.

My ex and I have a good relationship now. We are friends, we attend school functions together, take the boys places together, and keep the boys first.

I am the absolute happiest I have ever been and the boys are thriving. They don't see mommy and daddy's divorce as a bad thing. They know we are still a family, and if anything, they have seen their mommy AND daddy both grow immensely through it. We are both better people now.

I never want to be an advocate for divorce. I know many people can work through hard things together and grow together, and I have major respect for those people, we just weren't them.

It is not easy to coparent. You have to be selfless and forgiving.
But aren't you already that way with your children?
Why do our (ex)spouses not deserve the same?

If you are holding on to something, let it go. You deserve peace, and your children do too.
We all deserve forgiveness, even if that means forgiving yourself first.


xo

Monday, May 8, 2017

Like Riding a Bicycle.

Sitting down to create this blog has been easy.
Well, if by easy, I mean I had to relearn how to navigate my way through it, play with headers and texts, research logistics, and all of the stuff I've forgotten over the years.
But the actual act of sitting down to write the first entry has taken me all day to do.
This part always used to come so easy to me.
I'd just sit down and my thoughts and feelings would pour out onto the keyboard.
I often didn't think about what I was typing, or how it would come across.
I just wrote, truthfully and unapologetically.
Well, for the first several years I did...

So I'll just do a quick recap for you.

Back in 2008 I started blogging. I wrote about nothing and anything.
I was a newlywed and I had a lot of time on my hands (ahhh, pre-kiddo days).
I then started writing about my pregnancy. Before getting pregnant I was 185 lbs.
I gained about 35 lbs. with my pregnancy, bringing my 5'6 frame to 220 lbs.
It wore on me. It was hard to sleep, much less actually MOVE and be a functional member of society on a daily basis.
After I had my son, T, I started the weight loss process.
I'll go more into that later, but basically I ended up changing my entire life.
And if you have followed along for any amount of time, then you know that is a complete and utter understatement.
Those changes that I made would lead me to a path that I had NO INTENTION of following, nor knew I COULD.

You see, in my younger years, I was bold and lively. I was outgoing and ambitious.
Years of life had put me in this place where I didn't recognize myself.
I was quiet and reserved, always afraid to speak up, always in the wrong, and never good enough.
Not to relive the past, but I wasn't in a healthy marriage and over the years that just wore on me.
So when I started to lose weight, I started to gain confidence.
I started to speak my mind, and I started to feel more like myself again, something my then husband wasn't used to.
We tried to make it work, counseling, separating, more counseling, etc.
There's more to that story, but the details of our split are no one's business.  I respect my ex husband and would never bad mouth him. He remains a good friend of mine to this day and we coparent pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
I know people make it work every day, we just weren't those people.
We'd changed over the 12 years we'd been together.
Myself, A LOT.
If you don't change and evolve from the age of 18 to 30, something is not right my friend.

Before all of that, we had our second son, Mushy in 2011.
I had a much healthier pregnancy with him and was able to continue running, something I'd now grown accustomed to since living a healthier lifestyle, all throughout my pregnancy.
After having him, I, once again, started the weight loss process.

Here's where things started to grow.
See, I had no idea that blogging was even a "thing." I didn't know people got paid for it, I didn't know people would want to read my pointless rambling, any of that. But once I started posting my real and honest thoughts on weight loss, life and motherhood, it was like all of a sudden I had people from all over reading my blog.
The things I've been able to do and people I've been able to meet through the blog is amazing!
Two of my best friends are girls I met through my blog.
I started making money and finding my way because of the blog.
It opened up a lot of doors for me, things I didn't know were possible, things I'll tell you all about in time.

I could go on and on about everything, and I will, I promise.
But I'm not one for lengthy posts, and right now my 5 year old is peeking his head around the corner of my office trying to get one last snuggle in before bed, and no offense, but those snuggles are way more important at the moment.

For now, all you need to know is that I'm back, and I have SO MUCH to tell you.



Chat soon.

xo.