Simple at home teeth whitening

Simple at home teeth whitening

I haven’t always been confident in my smile.

I used to have a large gap between my front two teeth which led to braces and a minor procedure on my gums. I’m sure a lot more work went into my smile, but I was so young that I don’t remember much about that time. All I knew was that I craved a smile I could be proud of.

You are beautiful. If your smile needs a boost like mine did, be sure to read until the very end. Trust me ❤

Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.

Connie Stevens

I’m not new to teeth whitening, but I’ve had a hard time finding something that actually works and that I’ll stick with.

Of course, I’ve tried whitening strips. Quick and convenient, yes, but they felt uncomfortable and just didn’t seem to do the job.

I’ve tried personalized teeth whitening trays that I got from my dentist at the time. I had the molds made while I was in her office and then had to pick them up later. This was much better that the strips, but the process wasn’t convenient and I stopped using it once the gel ran out because I didn’t want to bother with ordering (or paying…) for more.

Most recently I tried generic trays from my current dentist. Maybe dramatic, but I literally gagged when I took the tray out. There was so much gel left on my teeth and I was grossed out. The trays felt like a mouth guard and they weren’t personalized for my teeth. Plus I had no control over the amount of gel used. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I tried that route.

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.

Mother Teresa

Smile Brilliant stepped in and solved my teeth whitening woes. Affordable. Personalized trays with a quick and convenient process. Noticeable results even after my first session. No gagging. Insert praise hands here.

To be honest, I was overwhelmed at the thought of the process, but Smile Brilliant made it so simple. Everything you need is in the box, so all you have to do is open it up and get started towards a whiter, brighter smile.

This is the T3 Sensitive System kit for light stains. It includes 3 whitening syringes, 3 desensitizing syringes, and everything you need to make the molds that Smile Brilliant uses to create your custom teeth whitening trays. It also includes instructions for every step of the process, so don’t stress!

The molds are created in the comfort of your own home by mixing one base paste and one catalyst paste, then spreading evenly on the mold tray. Press the tray gently up to your upper teeth and let it harden for two and a half minutes. Remove and then repeat for your lower teeth.

I’m so glad Smile Brilliant gives you an extra pair of pastes because I had a harder time with my bottom teeth. Second time was a charm.

After both molds are created, you let them sit for thirty minutes, rinse and dry completely, and then pack em up to ship back. In about two weeks you’ll have your custom teeth whitening trays. You’ll get email updates along the way once they’ve been received and again when they’ve shipped. I really appreciated this aspect of their customer service so I wasn’t left wondering. Communication is key!

Now for the part we’ve all been waiting for: whitening! Unlike the strips you’re used to, custom trays allow for your entire smile to be whitened.

To get started, brush your teeth with water only. Apply a thin layer of the whitening gel to the front portion of your trays and then gently press the tray to your appropriate teeth. Be careful not to use too much gel. You certainly don’t want to waste it, but you also don’t want it oozing out of the trays. I’ve been getting at least three full whitening sessions with each syringe, so they go far.

Smile Brilliant recommends whitening for 45 minutes to three hours. I started with the minimum and worked my way up to make sure my teeth and gums weren’t sensitive. I did not experience much sensitivity at all, even when doing sessions on back-to-back days.

Something I haven’t seen before with teeth whitening is a desensitizing gel. This is used immediately after your whitening session and applied in the same method as the whitening gel for 15-20 minutes. It helps to reduce sensitivity and prevent future staining. Yes and yes!

It’s best to whiten before bed so that you’re not consuming other food or drinks that could restain your teeth. I’m a rule follower and I wanted the very best results, so that’s what I did. This helped prevent snacking after dinner, which was an unintentional (yet positive) side effect.

My usual whitening routine would look like applying my trays as per the instructions and then moving on with my evening. Sometimes that looked like writing a blog post, watching a show, taking a bath, reading. The trays didn’t interfere at all, so it was easy to add to my routine.

7 whitening sessions — less yellowing + staining

I have nothing but good things to say about my experience with Smile Brilliant. Not only is the kit affordable and convenient to use, but the process actually works!

I can whiten with confidence because the kits are 100% vegan and cruelty free – the gels are vegetable-based instead of animal based. Fun fact: the company was recently Leaping Bunny Approved. It’s important that I use and support companies that are in alignment with my own values — doing business well and being kind others.

I’m so happy to have found at home whitening that fits so well into my life. It certainly beats anything I’ve used in the past and can’t wait to continue using it for whitening maintenance in the future!

Are you ready for a GIVEAWAY!? 

Huge thank you to Smile Brilliant for collaborating with me on this post! We are hosting a giveaway and one lucky winner will receive their very own T3 Sensitive kit!

All you have to do to enter is fill out the entry form here! But if you’re too excited and want your teeth whitening kit ASAP, you can always use the coupon code “flourishwithrach15” for 15% off any Smile Brilliant purchase.

Be sure to follow both Smile Brilliant (@smilebrilliant) and me (@racharrington) on Instagram and tag/share with your friends who would love a chance to win too! Giveaway ends Feb 6, 2019. Good luck, friends!

Do you whiten your teeth? Would you ever try Smile Brilliant? 
Let me know in the comments below!

Professional Teeth Whitening //

2019 Goals

2019 Goals

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

The dust is settling and we’re a few weeks into the new year. Can we still call it the “new” year? When does it stop being new??

Anyways, by now you might be getting back into somewhat normal routines. Everyone is back to school or work. Hopefully all the delicious desserts are gone. The holiday alcohol consumption has slowed down. We’re back.

For me, the year starts off with equal parts of excitement and overwhelm. It’s a lot to ask of ourselves to up and change everything at once. But it’s helpful to know what you want to adjust and have an idea for starting steps.

In December I like to set yearly goals with my PowerSheets. This incredible goal planning tool walks me through prep work and helps me identify common themes to set my goals. It helps me get honest with myself in what really matters. Simply, I want to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

If you’ve been around FWR for a bit, you’ve seen my monthly progress + goals updates. These tending lists tie back to my core set of goals for the year. They are made up of smaller action items that move me closer to progress on the big picture. Here’s the big picture for 2019.

Goal 1: Know God deeply

Affirmation: I feel close to my Creator and know I am His beloved child. Through the Holy Spirit, I am full of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Action Step Ideas
Prayer — alone, with Eric, with others
Attend church regularly
Small Group
Read Bible
Read devotional
Play worship music

Goal 2: Be an exceptional wife

Affirmation: I am fully committed to my marriage. I strive every day to become a more loving and serving wife. I choose my words wisely, speaking life over and to my husband. I love Eric and love the life we’re building together.

Action Step Ideas
Unplugged, intentional date nights
Pray together
Connect — be present with each other
Set couple goals
Determine what memories we want to make this year
Practice patience
Cultivate communication
Seek out ways to help him

Goal 3: Enjoy + create wellness

Affirmation: I care for my body well and am proud of all it does for me. My body is healthy, strong, and the exact weight it was created to be. I am mindful and careful of my mental health. I am energized, joyful, and well from the inside out!

Action Step Ideas
Eat to nourish my body
Reduce sugar consumption
Unprocess my diet
Drink lots of water
Move my body daily
Commit to 3 Orange Theory classes each week
Stretch/foam roll
Stay up to date with appointments
Rest — sit down on the inside
Work with a therapist — find one and visit
See a chiropractor — find one and visit

Goal 4: Blog growth

Affirmation: I am a talented writer and am blessed to be able to share my gift. My subscribers and readers are increasing daily which means I am positively impacting more people through my words. My blog is opening the door to many amazing opportunities.

Action Step Ideas
Plan content
Brand collaborations
Guest post opportunities
Learn more about Pinterest for growth
Join NC Blogger Network
Create freebies
Increase following on blog and Instagram
Brainstorm new post ideas
Become Amazon Influencer

Goal 5: Be a good steward of our finances

Affirmation: There are virtually no limits to how much money I can earn and save. Money flows easily to me and I use it well. I live like no one else today so later I can live and give like no one else.

Action Step Ideas
Continue through baby steps
Learn from Dave Ramsey
Work with our financial advisor
Set up our wills
Continue saving monthly for home down payment
Pay cash for car at end of lease
Budget meeting monthly with Eric

Goal 6: Simplify

Affirmation: My space is peaceful and life-giving. My schedule accurately reflects my priorities because I’m mindful about what I say yes to. I have cultivated productive and fulfilling routines.

Action Step Ideas
Reread A Simplified Life by Emily Ley
Leave white space in planner
Cultivate AM/PM routines
Follow Clean Mama cleaning schedule
Time block tasks
Maintain organization — physically and digitally
Make sure everything has a “home”
Simplicity challenge
Participate in neighborhood yard sale in spring

Goal 7: Love my people well

Affirmation: I have incredible, supportive relationships. I focus on adding as much value as I can to enrich the lives of everyone I come in contact with. I encourage others and make their lives better simply because I’m a part of it.

Action Step Ideas
Check in with friends/family
Birthday celebrations
Acknowledge special moments
Get together face to face
Put important dates in calendar (birthdays, anniversaries, etc)

Goal 8: Success at work

Affirmation: I become better every day and serve my customers well. I successfully sell multiple homes each month because of my knowledge, skill, and nurturing relationships with realtor partners and customers.

Action Step Ideas
Create and follow daily checklist
Follow system for check in with buyers
Educate myself — books, podcasts, colleagues
Identify areas to improve
Show up!
Get to community early
Organize digital files
Get more involved with industry
Meet and exceed sales goal

Goal 9: Cultivate confidence

Affirmation: I am worthy, deserving, and capable of achieving everything I want. I commit now to schedule and follow through TODAY with the necessary actions that will ensure that I create the extraordinary life I deserve. I give up being perfect for being authentic. I love who I am and I am proud of the woman I am becoming.

Action Step Ideas
Find confidence coach (book, podcast?)
Plug into Rachel Hollis’ resources
Put effort into appearance daily
Speak up
Create a confidence playlist
Emphasize my strengths
Do more of what makes me feel powerful!

“You, and only you, are ultimately responsible for who you become and how happy you are.”

Rachel Hollis

Some of these goals will never leave my list like growing in my faith and pouring into my marriage. Some goals are similar to last year, but have evolved. Some are new.

The wonderful thing about goals? They’re yours and you have the power to delete them, switch them up, or continue them to the next year. You may feel like you should set certain goals because of what others may think or say, but you don’t. Truthfully, those people probably aren’t thinking much about you because they’re too busy thinking about themselves. So relax and go after what set your soul on fire.

If you stick around, you’ll see more of the nitty gritty in my monthly tending lists. This is where I break down my big goals into daily, weekly, and monthly action items. Little by little I’m making progress on my big, important goals ❤

There is nothing magical about January 1st. If you’ve set your 2019 goals, I’m so proud of you! If you haven’t yet, I’m still so proud of you! There’s still plenty of time to set them if you want to. I do encourage goals because, in the wise words of Zig Ziglar, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Lets aim for huge, incredible, scary (yet exciting) things!

One more affirmation to leave you with — I’m believing this: I am grateful for all that I have, accepting of all that I don’t, and I actively create all that I want. I strive to make everyday the best day of my life, because there is simply no good reason not to. Good things are coming and I am excited for what’s ahead!

How can I better encourage you this year? I’m cheering you on, friend.

2019 Word of the Year

2019 Word of the Year

Hello, friend. Welcome to the new year.

Or if you’re reading this after January 2019, welcome to the new moment.

First lesson: you don’t need to wait for a fresh year to have a fresh start. Although it does feel like a good time, doesn’t it? Lets use it.

At this point in the year, I’ve chosen my Word of the Year (which is why we’re here) and my main focuses for 2019 aka my goals. I stopped making resolutions years ago because we all know how those tend to go. I give up on resolutions. But goals, on the other hand, I make progress on little by little.

My word felt pretty obvious last year. Before I really dug in too far, it was there. This year didn’t feel that way and I felt panicked. It’s totally not the end of the world to experience a year without a specific word. I had gone through 24 years without a word. But I wanted one.

What is a Word of the Year (WOY)?

Simply put, this is a word (or even multiple words or a phrase) that you want to carry with you for the year.

It might be an overarching idea of what you want to develop (strength, patience, community, contentment, grace, etc). It might be a description of what you want for your year (adventure, fun, abundance, joy, etc). The beauty (and the challenge) is there are no rules. Choose a word (or multiple words) that speak to you.

How do you choose your WOY?

Choosing a WOY is different for every person. The process may vary year to year. Some people know it immediately. Some people have to talk about it, pray about it, wait and listen on it. There’s no right or wrong way here.

Start brainstorming.

Ask yourself questions and write down your answers — you may notice themes in your responses. What worked last year? What didn’t work last year? What do I want for 2019? What do I want more/less of? Where do I want to be when I’m 80 years old?

Read and/or listen to music.

Jot down any word that sparks something.

Take a look at your list — does any word speak to you? If there are a few, look up the definitions and see if one stands out. If not, don’t stress. There’s no deadline. This is your word, so it’s whatever you want it to be! You even have the flexibility to change if the chosen word falls out of alignment. The purpose is to set your intention as it works best for you in this season.

2017 was the year to Become.
2018 was the year to Flourish.
2019 is the year to…

Rest: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.

When I was working through my questions, I noticed a theme of rest.

Rest worked well in 2018.

I crave refreshment, rejuvenation, and recovery.

I’m not just talking about physical rest, although that’s extremely important to me (even though it’s an area I struggle in). I mean soul rest too. Giving myself the space to breathe, think, and just be.

I heard a phrase on Emily P. Freeman’s podcast and it stuck with me. To sit down on the inside. She was talking about peace. That soul rest we can feel when we take the time to slow down. I want that even when our schedules, days, and lives are hectic.

Rest means being purposeful. It means knowing, setting, and sticking to my priorities. It means saying no to things that aren’t my best yes. It means letting some things go. It means pouring into myself so I can be, feel, and do my best. Yes, that all sounds lovely.

So this year I’ll practice rest. Honestly, rest doesn’t feel natural to me. It feels scary because it requires trust. I’m trusting that everything will be okay without me. If I’m taking the time to rest (my body, my mind, my soul), that means I’m not doing.

WOY Ideas

abide / able / adventure
balance / be / beloved / bloom / brave / bold / breathe
change / cherish / confidence / consistent / courage / contentment / cultivate
deeper / delight / devoted / diligence / discover
embrace / enrich
faithful / fearless/ finish / flourish / focus / freedom
grace / grateful / gratitude / grow / grounded
happy / healing / heart / hope
implement / intentional
join / joy
kind / knowledge
learn / less / light / listen / love
manifest / meaningful / mighty / mindful
natural / nourish / nurture
obedient / open / organized
peace / play / powerful / prepare / present / progress / purpose
question / quiet
ready / redefine / renew / rest / rise / rooted
savor / self-discipline / shine / simplify / steady / still / strength / surrender
thankful / thrive / trust / transform
unshakeable / unstoppable / understanding
value / vibrant / vitality
wellness / worthy

This is YOUR year! I’m so excited to see how you will use 2019.

Have you chosen a WOY?? Let me know in the comments below what yours is ❤

Dec 2018 Progress | Jan 2019 Goals

Dec 2018 Progress | Jan 2019 Goals

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been so excited for January. Don’t get me wrong — I love the holidays! But I’ve been craving the newness of a fresh start. I’ve been eager to get started on the goals I set. Although I could have started at any time, there’s just something exciting and motivating about a new year.

It probably feeds my excitement that my birthday is January 1st. But regardless, I’ve been looking forward to 2019. 2018 ended well and I’m proud of the progress that I made on my goals. I didn’t perfectly wrap up every single one or even finish the way I had initially expected, but tons of progress was made.

That’s cause for celebration!

I surprised myself with my PowerSheets prep work. I allowed myself to be honest. I share these monthly updates with you for two reasons: to inspire you and to hold me accountable. But I don’t have to share everything. I allowed myself get into the dirt of my prep work and dig into what’s really in my heart. It ain’t pretty, but it’s life giving if you allow it to speak up.

I feel good about December’s progress. I’ll be sharing my overarching 2019 goals in a post coming up — based on January’s tending list you’ll notice some have continued into the new year, some have been refreshed, and some are totally new. Lets get into it!

December Progress

Monthly Goals

  • Last 90 Days Challenge: We did it! I’ve talked about this goal in past updates. In short, this was Rachel & Dave Hollis’ 3 month challenge where you strive to finish well. There were 5 piece to it for each day and it was really helpful to have something to work towards, especially during the holidays.
  • Add $3,000 to savings: Check! We were even able to go above and beyond here, which is such a blessing!
  • 3 sales: We got 1/3. Snow storm in NC + holiday season does not an easy sales month make. But it’s okay because we can keep moving forward.
  • Holiday get together: I waited too long to plan this and then the date I chose didn’t work out. Note to self for next year — plan earlier and pick a date farther from Christmas.
  • Set up 2019 PowerSheets: Done! You’re seeing the fruit of that here in my January tending list and goals. It was a challenging process, but as always, so worth it!
  • Set up 2019 Simplified Planner: Also done! I’m a sucker for a new planner. I’m trying out some new systems in it like color coding, so we’ll see how that goes.
  • Love my people wellI’m still learning how to improve at this, but I’d say it was a win for December. Loving my people well this month looked like spending time together, exchanging gifts, reaching out with a call and/or text, and praying for them.  
  • Savor the season: Similar to the last, I’m still learning how this looks. I think I get a little better at it every year. Next year I want to do an even better job of enjoying every step of the season. If I wait until Christmas Day to soak it up, most of the season has already past. There is joy even in the process.
  • Pure Barre 250 Club: I can do hard things! This goal was tough to accomplish because it really pushed me. I started Pure Barre back in February 2018, hit 100 club in June 2018, and then hit 250 club in December 2018. Phew!
  • Blog rebranding: This is done! If you’ve been around here for a bit, you’ll notice the change. If not, welcome anyways! What do you think??

Weekly Goals

  • Speak life to/over Eric — Achieved 3/4 weeks
  • Blog post published + shared — Achieved 4/4 weeks
  • Rest + care — Achieved 4/4 weeks
  • Create margin — Achieved 4/4 weeks
  • Date Eric intentionally — Achieved 3/4 weeks

An area I really want to grow in is our marriage. We go on “dates” every week, but they haven’t been feeling intentional or as connected as I’d like. We love eating good food, so it’s usually dinner out, but that gets into a rut. It may just be the season (cold and rainy, ick!), but going forward I want us to put more thought and effort in here. We don’t get a ton of time together, but we can use what we have more wisely ❤

Daily Goals

  • Pray with E — Achieved 27/31 days
  • Finish devo — Achieved 31/31 days
  • Luke Bible reading — Achieved 24/24 days

I loved our reading plan for Christmas! Leading up to December I saw an idea floating around about reading the book of Luke in December. Starting on December 1st, you read one chapter of Luke — short, sweet, and so special. This book of the Bible details Jesus’ life, so it gave us a fresh and more in depth perspective of what Christmas really means. If you’re a Christian, I’d highly encourage reading through this book. You don’t have to wait until Christmas.

January Goals


  • Launch new small group season well
  • Set 2019 couple goals
  • Research therapist
  • Research chiropractor
  • Plan blog content for quarter
  • Add $4,000 to savings
  • Budget meeting – review/set goals
  • Add important dates to planner
  • 3 sales
  • Create daily action items for work

Weekly Goals

  • Speak life to/over Eric
  • Date E intentionally
  • Mindfully rest
  • Unprocess my diet
  • Blog post published + shared
  • Cultivate flourishing AM routine
  • Cultivate flourishing PM routine

Daily Goals

  • Time in the Word
  • Pray with Eric
  • Show up with effort

January is here, friends! I know the first few days can feel out of whack. It’s like a holiday hangover and then we’re expected to jump right into achieving our goals. More power to ya if you can do that, but I know I’ve been moving a bit slower. Slower is totally okay. Just don’t stop!

Even if you haven’t had a stellar beginning to your new year, we’re only three days in. That’s a tiny fraction of the whole year. I believe the way we use each day matters, but your year isn’t fully dependent on what you do with one or even three days. Give yourself grace and carry on.

Do you have any goals set for 2019? If so, I’ve love to read them in the comments below! If not, but you want it, it’s not too late.

December 2018 Round Up

December 2018 Round Up

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

Hi, friend!

We officially have 5 days left in 2018. Five. Holy guacamole!

It’s the time of the year where it’s like what day is it? What year is it? Where do I need to be? That black hole of life between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

3 things I’m excited about

  1. Rebranding of Flourish With Rach: I mentioned this in the November Round Up — the makeover is complete! I’m so dang excited! My previous branding was done by a dear, talented friend and I loved it. The blog has evolved since then and I knew a new look was needed. So here it is! What do you think?
  2. Turning 27: My birthday is January 1st. I feel sad that Christmas is over, but also so excited for NYE and New Year’s Day aka my birthday. Each year I think to myself “ok now that sounds old,” but there’s something much older sounding to “twenty-seven.” I think it’s that 7. I’m so grateful to be blessed with another year and I plan to make it the best yet!
  3. Refreshing my goals: As you probably know by now, I am a big fan of the PowerSheets. My 2019 goals are set and I’m looking forward to the progress that’ll be made. Some are a continuation of goals I’ve been working on this year and some are brand new.

Quote I’ve been meditating on

Worship fully. Spend less. Give more. Love all.

Advent Conspiracy

This felt right for the Christmas season. It helped me to remember what’s important. It’s not just about the gifts or the parties or the food and drinks. It’s about the love. It’s about the light. It’s about the baby that was born in a manger to save and set us free.

I learn more about the spirit of Christmas each year and it becomes even more magical and special. I don’t want to let it go just because Christmas Day is over. I think this is something I can definitely carry on no matter the season.

Who or what I’m adoring

I almost saying this because it’s going to sound way too adult and boring. But yall are my people and I think you’ll appreciate it.

I have been loving Clean Mama‘s cleaning routine. I discovered her on Instagram a while ago, but it wasn’t until recently that we put her routine into practice. It’s been making such a difference! Each day has a predetermined task and there are tasks to do daily. I’m probably making it sound complicated, but it really takes the mental work out.

Eric and I split up the weekly tasks and I’ll usually handle the daily tasks. It’s so much easier and more manageable for us to have just a few minor things to do daily rather than a huge cleaning day whenever we think about it.

Creating systems around our home and lives makes me feel on top of things and reduces my mental clutter. This one may not work for you, but don’t be afraid to tweak it or find something else that works better.

Favorite memory from December

Of course, I loved Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was so fun and special to celebrate surrounded by loved ones. My family happens to be in Key West currently (we’ll join them next year), but we lots of family to spend the days with. I’m thrilled that my parents and siblings were able to get away, but they sure were missed.

Aside from Christmas, my favorite memory was the Christmas Party Eric and I attended. For some crazy reason we decided to go to the mall that day (the Saturday before Christmas), so by the time we headed home to get ready, I wasn’t in the party mood. I would have much rather stayed home and ordered Chinese food. But that’s also how I feel most nights.

I’m so glad that we decided to go. We had a blast catching up with friends and getting to know new ones. It helped put us in the Christmas spirit — the home was beautifully decorated, the drinks were flowing, and the food was delicious.

A good lesson I learned

The best things happen outside of my comfort zone.

I think we all know this, but it’s much different when we actually live it out. I love to feel comfortable. Especially in the winter. It’s dark and cold, so I’m not feeling my best. I prefer to remain comfy.

Whether it’s choosing to go to a party or something bigger like stepping into a new career, awesome things happen outside of a comfort zone. Stepping out of a comfort zone takes faith and moves you towards what your heart desires. That’s good stuff. Just because it’s uncomfortable and maybe even a little scary doesn’t mean it’s the wrong thing. It may be that next right step. Go for it!

In January…

I’m saying no to: doing all the things.

I’m saying yes to: rest.

Since I’m feeling a bit out of sorts, I thought you might be feeling the same. You’re not alone. And even though the days are limited, there is still enough time to make some things happen and prepare for an incredible 2019.

Take some time over these next 5 days to reflect on this year and dream about what’s to come.

What do you want your life to look and feel like?
What’s the next right step you can take to move towards a life like that?

I’m excited for a fresh start and all the new content I’ll be sharing here. What do you want to see on Flourish With Rach in 2019?

18 lessons 2018 taught me

18 lessons 2018 taught me

This post contains affiliate links. See affiliate disclaimer here.

I’m a big fan of reflecting at the end of a year.

What worked?
What didn’t work?
What did I learn?

A year can feel long and short at the same time. A lot happens in 365 days. If I don’t dedicate some time to look back, I won’t be moving forward as strong as I could. My goal setting planner, PowerSheets, actually builds this practice into the prep work. Perfect!

*PS- it’s not too late to grab your own set of PowerSheets, but do it soon because they sell out! I want 2019 to be your best, most intentional year YETUse code FREESHIP18 for free domestic shipping on orders over $50 — offer ends today at midnight ET. It’s also the LAST DAY to place your order for guaranteed domestic delivery by New Year’s. Lets make progress on our goals together, yall!

I’m sure you’ve learned many things in 2018. There is benefit to learning lessons from others without necessarily having to experience them yourself. Or sometimes we need the reminder of the lesson we’ve learned before. In no particular order, here’s the lessons I’ve learned this year.


  1. Removing my phone means better nights and mornings. I’ve gotten into a better rhythm of “putting my phone to bed.” I went into detail of phone boundaries in this post, but to keep it short and sweet: phone boundaries have definitely improved my morning and evening routines.
  2. Sometimes stepping back from a responsibility is the best thing I can do. I believe I’m a type 2 on the Enneagram. If that means nothing to you, I’m a helper. I want to say yes and often times I commit to way too many things. In the event I can step back from something I’ve already said “yes” to, it can be helpful. But more importantly, I’m trying to learn and demonstrate the use of my best yes.
  3. Things don’t always go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There is joy in the moment. Even when I didn’t plan it this way. Even when it’s not what I would have chosen. Much of life doesn’t happen the way I would expect, so it’s better to embrace it.
  4. It’s okay (even necessary at times) to say no in order to protect my energy. More Ennegram 2 coming out. More learning to do with how to use my most powerful words: yes and no. Maybe next year that’ll be a lesson learned. For now, I’m realizing the growth that is possible.
  5. Word of mouth can go far and do wonders! My husband’s ice cream shop, Vida Dulce, opened this year. We honestly relied on word of mouth and social media. Reviews and recommendations are so powerful! If there’s a place you love, share about it! It means the world.
  6. It’s important to take the time to celebrate others. If you want to be celebrated, you should celebrate others. Of course it’s fun to celebrate our achievements and milestones. But wow, it’s amazing to be a part of celebrating other people! This year, we celebrated weddings, graduations, new businesses, new homes, new jobs, and so much more. It helps build bonds with the people in your life and make your world so much sweeter.
  7. Just go to bed earlier… it can wait. I had gotten into a bad habit of going to bed too late because “one more thing” needed to get done or I lost track of time. No matter what, it can wait. The rest is worth it.
  8. I actually am stronger than I think. Mentally. Physically. I’m stronger than I thought and I realize that more and more each time I push myself to do a little bit more than I thought I could.
  9. All things are fixable — don’t stress. Stress only makes things worse. I can’t think of many things that can’t be fixed, so might as well not stress.
  10. Words are powerful. Proverbs says life and death are in the power of the tongue and I believe that fully. We have the power to build people up or tear them down with our words. The same is true of ourselves and our thoughts. I should be mindful with how I use my words and thoughts.
  11. If I don’t ask, the answer is always no. I can’t expect to get what I want and/or need unless I go for it. The answer may still be “no” or “not right now,” but at least I did my part.
  12. It may not feel like it in the moment, but it’s always worth it to be patient and kind. I can get super impatient. It can be very tempting to be rude right back to the person that obviously woke up on the wrong side of the bed. BUT it always feels better to be the person that was kind and patient.
  13. The good things won’t happen if I don’t take the next right step to move towards them. All I can do is take the next right step. I won’t know the entire staircase, but if I keep putting one foot in front of the other I’ll end up where I need to be. I used to get weighed down in knowing and doing the right thing, but it’s more about the next right thing.
  14. My days and life are better when I’m grateful. I believe in an attitude of gratitude, but in October I started a formal gratitude practice. Each night I write down ten things I’m grateful for and it has totally transformed my days. When we look for reasons to be grateful, we find them.
  15. It’s refreshing and needed to “sit down on the inside.” I first heard this phrase on Emily P. Freeman’s podcast and it stuck. I love the thought of this, letting my soul sit down take a rest. I came to the realization I’m not very good at that and I would like to improve.
  16. People want to support me, but I may need to ask for it so they know how. Sometimes it’s best to tell your people exactly how they can support you instead of hoping they read minds and then being disappointed.
  17. I’m infinitely more successful with a plan. I thrive on planning. As we discussed earlier, things don’t always go according to plan, but I feel all around more productive and successful when I have one even if it’s just to get me started. Know yourself and work with your strengths.
  18. The best is always yet to come because I keep learning and improving. I learned in 2018 that this will always be true. Amazing things have happened, but even better things are ahead. Amen!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

2019, lets do incredible things.

If you’re looking for additional wisdom and encouragement, check out my annual lesson posts from 2016 and 2017. Leave me a comment below sharing a lesson or two that you’ve learned this year

Flourishing Contentment: The Challenge Review

Flourishing Contentment: The Challenge Review

We introduced it in October and I completed it in November. 

What am I talking about?? This challenge. You can get all the details in that post (I encourage you to check it out!), but the short of it is this: declutter every day and don’t bring anything new into your home. Simple enough. 

Through the course of the challenge, I decluttered 465+ things. Wow! That’s a lot of extra stuff that was just taking up space and energy. 

You may have followed along with this contentment challenge journey on my Instagram stories where I documented my decluttering every single day. In case you missed it, they’re saved to my highlights as inspiration and encouragement for you.

Throughout the process, a lot of you had questions about what I was doing. You may be thinking you could never do it. That certainly isn’t true, but continue reading to help overcome objections you may have. If you still have questions to hurdles to jump that I didn’t discuss, let me know in the comments and we’ll work through them together. 

How the challenge went

The challenge went really well! I honestly enjoyed it, especially once I implemented the tips I will share next. It wasn’t easy, hence the word “challenge,” but I believe it was well worth the effort.

I was 100% for the decluttering portion. The no spend aspect was harder for me. In this challenge I determined that “no spend” meant not buying new things, so dinner with a friend, gifts, or buying extra food for a gathering was totally okay.

As we all know based on the insane amount of emails and commercials, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in November. I did spend money, but I think they were super reasonable purchases and the sales definitely helped. We purchased a new vacuum (much needed since we were still using the one I had in college), and new cups and a blade for our Nutribullet that we use daily (the others were super old and weren’t working anymore). I’d say that’s a win! 

I feel more peace in my home and like my spaces better because there’s more room and less junk. Most of the things we have left are things that we actually like and use. It’s amazing what a difference a month can make.

Tips for your challenge

  • Make a list of all the areas to declutter in your home: I did this before the challenge began because I’ve been trying to declutter anyways. It was helpful for me to see a big picture and helped me formulate a game plan. It also made me feel better because it was all down on paper instead of being an abstract idea in my head 🙂 
  • Set aside a space out of the way for sale/donation items: For me, this was our guest room closet. It’s best that this space is not one you need to declutter (since you’ll be adding more things to it) and ideally out of sight. This is where your sale and donation items will live until the end when you can drop off or put together a yard sale. 
  • Go area by area: Start in one area of your home and declutter in that space each day until it’s totally decluttered. For example, your bathroom or your closet. Don’t forget about drawers and cabinets — get into all the nooks and crannies. 
  • Get ahead if needed: You may not have a lot of time each day to declutter or you may know you have a really busy day coming up. If I had free time, I would use it to get ahead of the game and declutter in advance. I still stayed on track for the challenge, but I didn’t stress myself out by adding more to my plate on an already busy day. 
  • Have accountability: Accountability can be internal like a tracker or external like a friend or social media. Being able to see your progress will help keep you motivated to continue. A tracker would be especially helpful if you don’t start on the first of the month. 

What I learned

We have way too much stuff. I have been decluttering little by little over the last few years, but I still had SO much stuff to get rid of. 

New things are always coming in our home via mail, gifts, purchases, etc. With this in mind, I can be more intentional about what I bring in. I have a much better idea of what we have and what we need, so I can purchase based on that.

I have found more contentment through this challenge. Buying things still make me excited, but that happiness is usually short lived. I can wait to buy things in order to make sure it’s worth bringing in. You have a choice about what you fill your space with. 

It was helpful to have the set number of items to get rid of each day because it helped me be more ruthless. There were things that were easy to part with, but there were also things that felt sentimental and it was harder. I can release emotional ties to things because they’re just things. Letting go of something doesn’t mean the sentiment goes away too. I can appreciate whatever that thing was and the purpose it served and then make space for more joy and peace. 

We are blessed to be able to have a lot of nice things, but some of these things don’t benefit us anymore. What has become clutter for me can be used to bless someone else. If it’s still in good condition and useful in general, it was important for me to set that aside to be used by someone else in the future. We are blessed to be a blessing. 

Now it’s your turn. 

I think it’s always a good time to reevaluate what is “living” in your home. This time of year is especially great as we’re bringing lots of new things in and thinking about a fresh start.

If you’re up for it, I challenge you to take on the Flourishing Contentment Challenge in January. Let me know if you accept. I’d love to cheer you on and be a resource to help you.