Second Anniversary — 7 Lessons

July 9, 2016.

Thinking about this day still brings happy tears to my eyes. I don’t think that will ever stop. At least I pray it never does. It was a stressful, nerve-wracking, beautiful day spent with our family and friends. It was everything I’ve dreamed of and more.

You prepare a great deal for the wedding. You spend hours upon hours researching, planning, preparing, and celebrating. All that time and attention for one big day. A special day, of course, but no matter how you shake it, it’s still only one day of your life. Marriage- that’s the real journey. That’s where we spend our time and attention now. It’s crazy to think another year has come and gone. A year ago I reflected on the lessons learned during our first year of marriage with this post.

I thought it would be fun to reflect again and share more lessons learned. When I was thinking about this post I thought I might have a lot of similar lessons, but that actually wasn’t the case. We are learning and growing each day as husband and wife. Another year brought new lessons ❤

#1: Prayer is powerful

This is a forever truth.

Pray for each other. Pray together. Pray for my ability to grow in my role as a wife. Ask trusted friends to pray when we’re struggling with a situation or decision. Walk individually with the Lord. I’ve noticed that as we both grow closer to the Lord, we grow closer together. We are more patient, more loving, and more generous.

I’ve witnessed and experienced the power of prayer in the most specific, beautiful ways. God is powerful. He’s bigger than any challenge or fear. He knows what we need before we ask. Let Him always remain at the center of our relationship. Ecclesiastes 4:12 was a part of our wedding ceremony. I just love the image of the 3 strands. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

#2: We can accomplish anything if we’re in agreement

We work best as a team. When we come together in agreement, we can accomplish big things. Last year we agreed to eliminate our debt and we did it faster than I even thought possible! We are living with a lot less stress and better communication skills because of this accomplished goal. It seemed overwhelming when we got started, but once we agreed this was something we were fighting for, there was hope.

It didn’t suddenly become easier, but it did give us strength and perseverance because it was something we both wanted and were working towards together. I now know that we can do anything we set our minds to. Cheesy, but it’s the truth!

#3: It’s not worth it to “win” the argument

Usually if I’m focused on “winning” an argument, then that means I’ve lost sight of our relationship. I’m too consumed with being right that I forget for a moment what’s really important: our marriage.

I think he will admit that I am right a lot of the time (okay probably not ha!), but it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Keep in mind, I’m still working on this. I do feel a lot better when I let go of trying to be right and shift my focus to how to work together. How can we come to an agreement? How can we resolve this and move forward? How can we do this better next time?

This has helped me actually be grateful when we disagree and argue because it was productive. It brought an issue to the surface and allowed us to work through it. We don’t usually fight about the same things over and over (how exhausting is that!?) and I think it’s largely because of this mindset. 

#4: Laugh together… Often

Have fun! I know a lot of adult things come up in marriage like paying bills, errands, responsibilities, etc but it doesn’t always have to be serious. I married him because he’s the person I wanted to enjoy life with for as long as I’m able.

“I think one reason for a successful marriage is laughter. I think laughter gets you through the rough moments in marriage.” -Bob Newhart

Life really is better with laughter. Laugh off the little things. Plan a fun date. Be silly! Small things that used to offend or annoy me, now I try to laugh. I’m not always good at this. I still get serious and upset at times, but if I take the moment to laugh and not immediately react, it’s a better outcome.

#5: Sacrifice is required from both of us

When I was preparing this post I asked Eric what lessons he learned this year. The first one that came to mind: sacrifice. So it’s obviously a big lesson learned by both of us! We knew going into marriage sacrifice would be a big part. Merging two lives, two dreams, two backgrounds, two ways of seeing the world. This can only mean sacrifice and compromise.

But I’m not sure we truly understood what sacrifice would look like. In our second year its meant many different things. Supporting each other as we both have gone after different career paths. Getting home to take care of our pup, Stella, while the other does something after work. Handling most of the chores and errands while the other works hard. Saving money instead of going out to eat or going out with friends. Sacrificing time together to make dreams and success happen!

It’s been a challenging season as Eric has opened up Vida Dulce and I’ve been busy with work. Sacrifice has been a theme that we continue to improve on. I’m learning each day how to put his needs above my own.

#6: I can serve and love him well even when we’re apart

As I touched on in #5, we spend a lot of time apart because of our schedules. I was struggling with how I could still serve him and make him feel loved. I was used to doing this face to face, but then those opportunities became limited.

I had to get creative sometimes, but I learned less time together is no excuse to not feel loved or connected. Serving him while apart can look like a “thinking of you” text, buying the extra things from the grocery store I know he loves, or taking care of the chores so he can do other things on his one day off.

At first when we were trying to navigate this new normal, I felt disconnected. But with some time and practice, I actually feel more connected now than I did when we had more time together. Intentionality makes a difference. This schedule forces us to be intentional if we want to make progress in our marriage — the silver lining.

#7: He doesn’t complete me

I know this sounds very unromantic, but stick with me. I am already whole. I am a whole person on my own with Jesus’ help. My husband complements me. He adds to my life. He helps fill in the gaps. He’s patient while I’m impulsive. He researches everything while I’d rather choose the first best thing I find. He’s able to fix anything while I’m a bit lost when it comes to most repairs.

We share many similar traits and values which shine all the brighter together. We believe in serving the Lord, the need for hard work, and the importance of family. We absolutely love traveling, adore yummy food (and dessert of course!), and taking family walks at the lake.

He is a large, wonderful part of my world, but my world does not revolve around him. And thank goodness because that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. When we rely on someone else to complete us or make us happy, we will always be disappointed. We are both happy and healthy within ourselves. I certainly seek out ways to serve him and bring him joy and he does the same for me, but it’s not the end all be all. I pray that we continue to grow separately so we can grow together.


Thank you for walking this journey with us! My hope is that our marriage can be a light to others. May this will be an encouragement to you and your current/future love. It’s not promised to be easy, but it is worth it!

What have you learned along the way in your marriage journey!? I’d love to read your wisdom!

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15 simple wellness habits to start today

15 simple wellness habits to start today

This post contains an affiliate link. See affiliate disclaimer here.

I have been on a health journey for about 3 years now. It all started after I graduated from college and realized I put on the “freshman 15” (or so…) a bit later than most. What started as a weight-loss goal has become a complete wellness goal.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to lose any weight, but what really matters to me now is the big picture. I’ve broken up with the scale because how I feel, how I look, and how I live are more important to me than a number. That number alone does not measure my value, worth, or health. It simply provides a numerical value of my gravitational pull.

Wellness is the focus. I’ve tried different tips and tricks and I’ve learned some things along the way that I’m sharing with you. Wellness is more than just the physical body, it’s also mind and soul. Treat your whole self well with these habits.

  1. Move
    Get steps in whenever you can! I love walking while doing other activities like listening to a podcast or scrolling social media — I’m not ashamed to say I will walk circles in my house to do this. You do what you gotta do! Every Sunday I schedule my Pure Barre workouts for the week and treat them like an important meeting I cannot miss.Exercise is good for your body, mind, and soul! It helps relieve stress, helps with creativity, releases endorphins, and many other benefits that we probably all know. Find something you enjoy and be consistent. Even a 5 minute walk is better than nothing if that’s where you’re starting from. Challenge yourself as you get stronger to add time or explore other areas of fitness.
  2. Drink lots of water
    You are mostly made of water, so you can imagine your body desperately needs it! It’s been recommended for people to drink at least half their body weight in oz of water a day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75oz of water. I used to be terrible at remembering to drink water, but once I started keeping a water bottle with me at all times, that got easier. I also love adding flavor to my water with lemon, fruit, or safe essential oils (be sure to use a glass or stainless steel cup with citrus or oils since they can erode plastic).Like exercise, water has so many benefits! Water can help you feel energized, is great for your skin and insides, and it reduces the empty calories you’re consuming from other drinks like juices and sodas. Track your water consumption — what’s measured is improved.
  3. Use your lunch break wisely
    I don’t get a lunch break in my current job (real estate life), but this was a great hack I used at my old desk job. Instead of using my lunch break to eat, I would bring my food, eat at my desk, and then use my lunch break however I needed to.Sometimes this was a walk around the parking lot, a grocery run (we had a community refrigerator I could put my food in until it was time to go home), call my mom, or run errands. Life can be so hectic and doing this gave back 5 hours in my week! That’s huge! Go out to lunch once in a while, but be more intentional about it.
  4. Make most of your meals homemade
    I touched on this in #3, but I highly recommend making most of your meals at home instead of eating out. This will save you time, money, and be good for your body. Every week I meal plan based on what food we have on hand, make my grocery list, go shopping, and then meal prep. I might meal prep whole meals or just ingredients depending on what the plan is for the week.This cuts down greatly on our spending. It also cuts down on wasted time because I’m time blocking this important activity instead of using extra time each day. You have complete control over the food your choosing, so be empowered to choose what’s going to make you feel your best!
  5. Nourish your body
    While you’re making those food choices, try to choose whole foods over processed foods. I learned a lot about this when I did my first round of Whole 30 (you can read about that here).Your body was created to consume whole foods, so that’s going to feel a lot better in your diet than the packaged and processed stuff you find in the grocery aisles. I’m not saying you need to cut it out completely (that would be ideal, but probably isn’t realistic), but you can make smarter choices. Choose foods with short ingredient lists and with ingredients you recognize. Sneak in as many greens as you can — my favorite way to do this is with a smoothie or protein shake! I also may add sautéed spinach with my eggs or opt for a hefty salad instead of a sandwich.
  6. Go to bed earlier
    Going to bed earlier leads to waking up earlier which leads to having more productive time! We train our bodies to go to sleep and wake up at certain times, so make it work for you. I had gotten into a bad habit of waking up 30 minutes before I had to leave for work, which made me feel frazzled and already behind for my day.Lately I’ve been doing some 6am Pure Barre classes — it’s hard to wake up that early, but I absolutely love the extra time it gives me! I can make a yummy, hot breakfast, journal, do my devotion, walk our dog, and get ready. It’s glorious! This will be challenging, especially the first few days, but if you stick with it your body will adjust. Your head space will be greatly improved knowing you’ve already accomplished something important right away!
  7. Shut down devices at least 1 hour before bed
    I’m still working on this, but when I do it, I sleep so much better! The blue light your screens emit negatively affect your sleep because it stimulates your brain. You’re probably scrolling social media which is stimulating all other sorts of thoughts.An active mind is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to fall asleep. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve laid in bed restless because I couldn’t get my mind to be quiet. The next two tips help, but shutting down the devices is huge!
  8. Meditate
    Having a mindfulness practice can help calm an active mind. Meditation also helps reduce stress and makes you more aware of your internal and external world. I enjoy guided mediation — I’ve been using and loving the app Simple Habit. Many of the meditations are 5 minutes which is great for busy people who think they’re “too busy” to take a moment and breathe, myself included.The beautiful thing: there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Many people use guided meditations, especially as they’re getting started.  Maybe you just want to sit in nature and be still, that works too!
  9. Write
    I am a big fan of journaling and to-do lists. Both activities help me get what’s in my mind down on paper so I can let it go. I’ve been using a Write the Word journal as a part of my quiet time to reflect on scripture and write about what’s on my heart. For to-do lists, pen and paper is always good or you can utilize the tools on your phone.I encourage you to brain dump regularly, especially if you’re in a crazy busy season of life. A “brain dump” is where you write down anything on your mind. It’s essentially a stream of consciousness writing. Write down anything from to-do list items, appointments, ideas — anything that’s floating around your head. You will feel immediately lighter because you no longer have to carry these things around.
  10. Stick to a good skin care routine
    Your skin tells a lot about your health and it’s often what makes a first impression. When we meet someone, we see their face — their eyes, their smile, their skin. I’m insecure about my skin at times because I’ve struggled with acne and redness, but my skin care routine helps me overcome that. When I’m consistent with it, my skin usually behaves.This includes sunscreen! Practice safe skin care by protecting your skin from the sun. The sun isn’t necessarily the enemy, but prolonged exposure does have negative effects on the health of our skin. I desperately wanted tan skin as I was growing up (lets be real, I still do…), but I want healthy skin more. There are great sunless tan options out there, so I’ll go that route instead. I highly recommend an annual visit to the dermatologist to make sure all is well. Take care of your body’s largest organ: your skin.
  11. Unplug from social media
    You’ve probably heard this one a million times — have you done it? We’re all addicted to our phones (thanks, notifications, for that hit of dopamine), but it’s wonderful to put them down.Phone down, eyes up. Take a break from your phone and actually enjoy what’s going on around you. I promise you, the world will keep spinning and you really won’t miss that much!
  12. Do/plan something you enjoy
    Have you ever found yourself stuck in the rut of work, sleep, repeat? We get so busy with things that have to do that we miss the things we enjoy. We may not be able to fill our entire day with fun things because obviously things still need to get done, but we should make it a point to plan fun things here and there. Date night with your significant other, coffee with your sister, beach trip with your family, massage for yourself.It doesn’t have to involve spending money, so don’t let that be an excuse. It could be a cup of tea and a good book, a walk around the lake, or simply enjoying your dinner in your backyard on a nice evening. It’s always exciting to have fun plans to look forward to and it makes the hard work worth it. This will energize your spirit and break up the rut routine.
  13. Serve others
    We were created to live in community and a part of community is serving the other members. There are many different ways to serve and whether it’s big or small, it’ll make an impact on the person you’re serving and on yourself. Take a meal over to your neighbor whose child is sick, sign up to serve with a local organization, get plugged in with your church. Where are you gifted and how can you use those gifts to make a difference?It’s easy to make the excuse about how you’re too busy or don’t know where to start, so don’t be afraid to start small right where you are. Serve your family. Serve your coworkers. Serve your neighbors. We can be a blessing to the people in our lives — that is such a gift.

     

  14. Smile
    I told you these were simple habits, right? Smile at others and even smile when you’re alone. It’s been shown that smiling actually makes us happier and it’s contagious. Happiness is certainly something that should be spread! Plus it’s free and it takes no extra time.You never know how you could turn someone’s day around! It’s a quick way to positively impact your wellness and the wellness of someone else ❤
  15. Declutter regularly
    Decluttering helps us learn how to live and be happy with less. It also shows us how much extra stuff we need that we could do without. Every item you own adds more to your to-do list because these are things you need to clean, maintain, and find a spot for. Every item becomes a decision and those decisions add up to time and mental energy. In the words of Emily Ley, only keep the items that are Best, Favorite, Necessary. You really don’t need 5 cutting boards and 4 of the same black t-shirt. When it comes down to it, you reach for your favorite and maybe you want a backup, so why hold on to the others?There are different ways to get this done, but I like to go room by room emptying out everything and then putting it back one by one IF it meets the mentioned BFN Rule. Create keep, sell, donate, trash piles so you can sort your items. Be ruthless. Another bonus of decluttering: you know exactly what you have. This will keep you from buying duplicate or similar items. You may even choose to introduce the “one in, one out” rule. Nothing new will come in without letting go of something else. Decluttering is a beautiful thing!

Have you cultivated healthy habits in your life? I’d love to hear yours — leave them in the comments below. We can learn a lot from each other and I’m always looking for ways to up-level my routine and habits!

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Wisdom from the yard

Wisdom from the yard

It’s officially spring here in North Carolina!

Despite the chillier weather lately, we have blooms and our grass is slowly turning back to green from icky brown. This also means the pollen is here, but necessary evils, right?

It’s my favorite time of the year because it’s finally getting warm again (praise!), but more importantly we get to witness first hand seemingly dead things come back to life. It’s amazing and I appreciate it more and more every year.

For a homeowner, spring also means we can no longer ignore the mess that is our yard. Eric and I do decently well in the yard department, well at least enough to get by. We don’t get complaint letters from our HOA and we’re usually pretty proud of the overall state of our home. But with our increasingly busy schedules and the fact that we can no longer rely on the landscaping from the seller of our house (we bought our home almost 3 years ago, so that may have expired a while ago…) lets just say things have gotten a bit out of control.

As I was pulling weeds last week I couldn’t help but see a parallel between this dreaded activity and certain areas of my life. Areas I wish had grown more by now. Areas that I’ve been neglecting that are now feeling overgrown, out of control, and struggling. Can you relate?

“If you plant nothing, you know what happens in your backyard? Weeds. Know what happens in your life if you plant nothing intentionally? Weeds.” — Dave Ramsey

I wish I had proactively taken better care of it so I wouldn’t have to clean up. 

If we had done the necessary minor work up to this point, pulling weeds wouldn’t be such a big deal. If we treated the yard when we were supposed to, addressed any concerns immediately, and kept a watchful eye our yard would be in good shape now. But we didn’t and it isn’t. The weeds had taken over many areas of our yard, but the worst was in the spot that isn’t visible since it’s blocked from view by the deck.

Isn’t this so relevant to life?

Just like our yard, when we take our eyes off an area the weeds can grow freely. No area is immune: health, finances, relationships, career, etc. Not only are the weeds unsightly and a pain to get rid of, they can choke out the things that are meant to be there.

What weeds are growing in your life? Might as well check your yard too while you’re at it. Weeds can look like worries, distractions, toxic people, laziness, bad habits. They may not seem like a big deal at first, but left unchecked they become a problem.

A weed that’s been growing in my life lately has been snoozing and sleeping in too late. Sleep is important to me. It’s crucial to good health and I’m cranky when I consistently don’t get enough of it. But the bad habit of staying up too late and then sleeping until the very last moment is a weed that needs to be pulled. I can’t even remember when this habit started, but it’s stuck around for a while and the roots have gotten deeper.

This weed is choking out my mornings and impacting the rest of my day. I would say sleep is a pretty good use of time, but there are other more important things that deserve my time before the craziness of the day gets a hold of me. Time in the Word comes first for me. Morning sets the tone for the remainder of the day and honestly my days have felt overwhelming and out of whack because I’ve let this weed take hold.

I wish I had given more time and attention so it wouldn’t be dead or struggling. 

I love buying perennial plants because they’re meant to come back year after year. I don’t have the greenest thumb, so it isn’t unusual for my perennials to accidentally become annuals and die after the first year.

When I think about it, though, it doesn’t take too much to have a green thumb. We know plants require sunlight and water of varying amounts. I can’t control the sun, but I can control the water. I’ve forgotten to water and then try to redeem myself too late. We have two potted plants on either side of our back door that were thriving last year with beautiful yellow blooms and evergreen leaves. Now they’re just dried up brown sticks in the pots. I’ve tried, but Google search tells me it may be too late to save them.

What if I had been more intentional throughout the fall and winter to care for them? They would probably be flourishing right about now. Other things demanded my attention and I took my eyes and focus off of them.

I’ve noticed this same thing happen in my relationships. Some require more care than others, but for any relationship to continue to grow and withstand winter-like seasons, time and attention is needed. The sun and water.

Our marriage is strong, but like every other couple, we go through seasons where we struggle. I can feel when we’ve been distracted and taken our attention off each other. Unlike our plants out back, this is repairable when we can bring it back into focus, but it can take extra care to get it there.

Tending to our yard left me feeling overwhelm, anxiety, and general annoyance because we played a part in this by not tending to it over time. I didn’t know where to begin. And once I actually did start it didn’t feel like progress was being made because every time I looked around there was still so much more to do.

I just had to start. I had to identify the areas that I could impact and then get to it. Not everything got done in one afternoon. There’s still more weeds to pull and plants to replace, but I took steps in the right direction. Progress was made and I’m intentional about fixing it.

Where do we go from here?

Determine what needs to be done. Block out time in your schedule to tend to it. Ask a friend for help. Pray through it. Put in the work. Be patient. Celebrate the progress.

In life and in your yard, whatever you plant will grow. If you don’t plant anything you’re likely gonna end up with weeds. If you plant and don’t tend to it, weeds will grow. Plant good things and help them flourish.

A little tough love for you: nothing good will happen just because. Even a lottery winner needs to intentionally buy the ticket. Not everything is worthy of your attention and focus right now. Set your intentions on what matters most.

Soon that overwhelm will transform to empowerment. What will you grow? ❤

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The habit you should start now

The habit you should start now

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of scrolling your phone for way too long before bed. Or grabbing it immediately after your eyes open in the morning. That was me for sure!

Technology is a wonderful tool, but there’s a time and place. Right before and after sleep isn’t the best time to catch up on your feeds. Trust me, you didn’t miss much. And whatever you did miss was worth putting the phone down.

I was struggling with this bad habit for a while. I wouldn’t get enough sleep because I had to “check one more thing.” As we all know, one more thing turns into checking every app like 3 times just in case…

I started sleeping with my phone on airplane mode on my bedside table which helped, but it was still within reach. It was too close and my will power wasn’t that strong to avoid it. Something would pop into my head that I needed to check “real quick” or I’d remember a ‘to do’ item that I wanted to add to my list. One thing would lead to another and I’d slip back into my old scrolling ways.

Airplane mode was a step in the right direction, but how could I set myself up for success? Success = completely removing the distraction

I don’t know why it took me so long to actually do this, but at the beginning of the year I decided to leave my phone out of the bedroom. Scrolling problem solved! Plus I always have a charged phone to start my day!

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If you use your phone as an alarm, this does mean you’ll need to get an alarm clock. I know, what are those, right?? Luckily there are a ton of options out there. Easy fix!

Before bed I turn my phone on airplane mode or Do Not Disturb and leave it to charge in the hallway outside our bedroom. I usually grab it in the morning after I’m done getting ready, but sometimes I’ll get it before if I’m expecting something like a text or email that’ll affect my morning. Generally I try to stay off my phone and social media until I’m ready to move on with my day cause otherwise it’s a huge time suck. Unfortunately I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been late to something because I got sucked into the rabbit hole that is my phone. Not proud of it, but it’s the truth. I’m working on it!

There are better ways to use my time. I enjoy reading (a physical book, not an iPad or Kindle) and/or journaling before bed. It helps wind down my mind and prepare me for sleep. My mind is pretty active at night thinking back through the day or anticipating the next, so journaling has been helpful to get those thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto paper. This is also the perfect time to connect with my husband. Our schedules are funky, so many days this is the only time we’ll see each other. Strenghtening my marriage >>> people on the internet.

Instead of grabbing for my phone in the morning, I like to do my daily devotional and dedicate enough time to get ready for my day. I don’t know about you, but my mornings always seem to fly, so I need the distraction free time to make sure I’m taking care of whatever needs to get done and getting out the door.

I sleep better without my phone nearby. Blue light from screens negatively affect sleep patterns. Science says so! Yes, there’s the Night Shift setting on iPhone to help or even the glasses that filter the blue light, but you’re better to eliminate the blue light altogether. I fall asleep (and fall back asleep if I wake up) faster because I’m not tempted. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and if my phone is on the nightstand I would grab for it because I couldn’t fall back asleep. Then the blue light and mental stimulation mean I really can’t fall asleep. My mind has permission to calm down and just focus on sleep.

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I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Do you struggle in this area too? My challenge to you: incorporate this habit into your routine for a week. Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

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An open Valentine to my husband

An open Valentine to my husband

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I share this as an encouragement. Of course, as a big encouragement and “public” display of words of affirmation for my husband. But also as an encouragement to you. No matter what your relationship status is, you are worthy of great love. Share that appreciation and love with the people in your life. Spouse, parent, child, friend, coworker. It’s a day of love and we could all use some more of it ❤ So lets spread it! 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Eric, my love!

I know to you Valentine’s Day is one of those “Hallmark Holidays,” but lets pretend you’re into it. This is our second Valentine’s Day as a married couple and our fifth together. Wow how time flies.

I think back to the year you did the surprise scavenger hunt around the apartment of the reasons you love me. And the many times you gave me flowers and chocolate (basic, but what girl doesn’t love flowers and chocolate!?)

But what’s more special to me though are the everyday moments you show that you love me. Like when you scrape the ice off my car because you know I’m running late. Or when you wake up before me and you try to be as quiet as possible so you don’t wake me up (even after you alarm goes off multiple times… you try ;)). Or when you just let me talk after I’ve had a long or exciting day.

When I met you 13ish years ago, I had no idea you were going to be the man I marry. I always knew you were a good guy, but life always pulled us in different directions. Until my senior year of college when everything changed. We were unsure of it all at first, but a long-time friendship blossomed into a dating relationship and then into a marriage.

We have literally grown up together. We knew each other in our most awkward and uncomfortable middle school stage — we’ve seen it all. I wouldn’t want to be growing with anyone else. We have a firm foundation built on a friendship. One where we cared for, respected, and picked on each other. I guess I should have seen it coming…

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We are opposites in so many ways which drives me nuts sometimes! And I don’t do a good job of hiding it. But I need that opposite. Your patience calms my impulse. Your gentle calms my crazy. Your saving calms my spending. We balance each other out and that’s such a blessing. It wouldn’t work if we were both the same. I’m sorry for the times I didn’t appreciate our differences. I will mess up again in the future, but I’m working on it.

We are opposite, but agree on the important things. We both love Jesus and have committed to keep our marriage anchored in Him. We love to travel and experience new places. We love to eat good food and unfortunately we both have a big sweet tooth (although you’re the sweets enabler). We love to make each other laugh. We agree on our big goals and work towards them together.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:12

Thank you for loving me even when I’m difficult to love. I know I don’t always make this marriage thing easy, but we are learning everyday how to be better for one another.

Thank you for being my partner in life. I can always count on you to have my back. I will never be alone because we’re in this together. #TeamTorres

Thank you for achieving goals with me. I’m so proud of how we’re setting and achieving goals together. We can accomplish anything we set our minds to — I know that because we chose to do hard things in our first few years of marriage like pay off debt and save an emergency fund to get our finances in a healthy place. We got this!

Thank you for supporting me no matter what. You are always my number 1 fan. You allow me the space to go after my dreams, but you’re never too far to cheer me on or speak the truth. I appreciate how you let me grow.

Thank you for listening to me.You ask about my day and you really listen. When it’s been a hard one you let me vent. When it’s been a great one you let me share all the awesome details. You make me feel heard and loved.

Thank you for being who you are. You are kind, silly, hardworking, loving, passionate, goal-driven, inspiring, intelligent, and strong. You make an amazing husband and I know you will be an amazing father to our children when that time comes. I’m so grateful to your family for raising you into the man you are today and for welcoming me with open arms.

I thank God everyday for allowing me to be your wife.

You are the love of my life. You are my best friend.

I love you. More than yesterday, less than tomorrow.

Our greatest days are ahead!

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Reality of NC Real Estate School

Reality of NC Real Estate School

Last year, with the amazing push and support of my husband and family, I decided to make a complete (and scary) career change into the world of real estate. At the time, I had no idea what that would look like. I was in a job with a great company that looked awesome on paper, but wasn’t for me. After much searching, praying, and conversations, we decided I should go for it!

I still remember sitting in the chair in our living room toggling between tabs: NC Real Estate Commission website and searching for people talking about their experience in RE school in North Carolina. I found a blog of a woman sharing how difficult school was and a list of accredited schools for pre licensing. Also stumbled upon a Groupon for one of the schools on that list, so the couponer in me was pretty much hooked. And terrified.

I went from zero to full Real Estate Broker in less than 7 months. This means I completed 75 hours of prelicensing, passed a class exam, passed a state and national exam. Then I also completed 90 hours of post licensing and passed 3 exams. It was a lot, but it was so worth it!

I’m sharing my experiences with you — the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is what I wish I could have read when I was considering and preparing for this major change. My hope is that this helps you with your decision if you’re making one or at the very least gives you a glimpse into my world from June to December 2017 {aka why I was MIA for most of those months}

Prelicensing Experience

I’ve heard from multiple sources that North Carolina is one of the hardest states to get your real estate license in. So if you’re a North Carolinian, be prepared for some really hard work, but also an amazing feeling once you pass! If you’re not in North Carolina, this may or may not be similar to what you’ll experience since it varies state to state.

I took my 75 hours of Prelicensing at the Go School of Real Estate in Cary. They had a Groupon running at the time which swayed my decision greatly, but their website also made me feel super comfortable as it looked like a good school for me (laid back, technology friendly, good location, snacks available, etc).

Bless their hearts, I changed my class registration 3 times. Originally I signed up for night classes since I was working a 9-5. I quickly realized working and night classes were going to burn me out, so we made the decision that I’d quit my job. I requested to be moved to day classes. Then an awesome job opportunity in the real estate field opened up, but this meant I would need days available. Go School had a weekend class coming up, so one last time I requested a switch. My weekends from June 3rd until July 16th were spent at Go School and any other available time was spent reading/studying 🙂

To be completely honest, I studied more and harder for this 6 week Prelicensing class than I did during my four years of college. I took this real estate class seriously. Our instructor shared that many people fail the class because they underestimate it and don’t take it seriously, so that wasn’t going to be me.

Our textbook was at least 3 inches thick and we covered so much material. It makes my brain want to explode thinking back to those days. We were behind from day 1 because apparently we should’ve picked up our books ahead of time and read the first 3 chapters, but nobody told us that was a thing.

This class was extremely fast paced, so I was committed to staying ahead. We had a syllabus and knew what chapters we’d cover on which day, so I always read ahead for that day and watched Travis Everette’s Youtube lecture on the subject. It helped me to have already been exposed to the material before getting to class. Through the school we had access to a site called Engrade that had virtual flashcards, quizzes, and practice tests — all extremely helpful! I enjoy learning, but I also put a lot of pressure on myself to do my absolute best so I could knock this all our the first go round (many people don’t).

There was an 80% attendance policy per the NC Real Estate Commission. I wouldn’t recommend missing any if you can help it, but it can be challenging to find a chunk of time where you have nothing going on, especially on weekends. I did miss one class as I was in one of my darling friend’s weddings, so I’d say that was a good excuse. I still stayed on top of reading and lectures. Make friends in the class! It’s a blessing to have people that can fill you in if you have to miss or help explain concepts that you’re iffy on.

We took our class exam on July 16th and I passed! The instructor graded our bubble sheets there on the spot, so we found out immediately. I couldn’t imagine having to wait to find out. It felt like such a weight lifted, but that was just the first battle. Next came the state/national exam.

This was taken at a testing center near North Hills. I had to wait a few days to be able to take this exam since the school had to report my pass and it had to be processed. I submitted my application and request for a background check weeks before we finished class, so that was all good to go. This must be done before you can sit for the state/national exam, so I do recommend getting it out of the way early. Some people wait a bit once they’re released to be able to sit for the state/national exam, but I signed up for mine as soon as possible. 

I was a ball of nerves leading up to the test, but I kept visualizing how awesome I would feel when it was all said and done. The computers were old and the room had an annoying buzzing sound, but I focused. The questions were more challenging than the class exam, but I went with my gut and did the best I could. On both exams I knew I could only miss a certain amount to pass, so I skipped questions I wasn’t certain on to revisit later. These tests are timed, so I didn’t want to get too hung up on any one question or lose my confidence. Sometimes you might even recall the answer to a question because of a later question!

When I was finished, I hit submit and instead of being shown my results, I was taken to a survey for the testing center. Seriously!? Ask my opinion once I know how I did! After the survey came the results, but they weren’t easily found. I scanned the page looking for a pass/fail and spent like 20 seconds staring at it to make sure I was seeing it correctly. PASS! Praise!!! I did a happy dance in my seat and then giddily glided into the lobby to get my belongings back and proof of my pass.

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Postlicensing Experience

Postlicensing was wayyyy less intense, thank goodness! A provisional broker becomes a full broker through postlicensing education and must take at least one 30 hour class a year for their first 3 years. I didn’t want to drag this out for 3 years, so I knocked my classes out back to back to back. 90 hours while working full time — I got this. I waited about 3 months to start — the break was nice, but I was ready to be done!

I took all 3 of my classes at HPW Real Estate School with Scott Greeson who was an awesome instructor (and provided a study guide for each exam! insert praise hands emoji here). These were night classes (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday) since I work during the day and needed my weekends available for work. Many schools only offer day classes, so I was thrilled HPW was offering night classes and that I could take all 3.

The exams in these classes weren’t easy (they’re made by the commission if that tells you anything…), but I certainly didn’t study nearly as hard. I paid attention, attended every class (again, there’s an attendance requirement — don’t miss if you can help it), and knew the material from the study guides. This was enough for me to do really well on each exam. Woohoo!

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What am I doing now?

Finishing all this up was one of the best Christmas presents — I’m so happy to have my life back! It was a lot of work, but I’m glad I did it this way. It was a huge accomplishment for me and I definitely proved to myself I’m capable of anything I set my mind to. Cliche, but true!

Now I’m working for a new home builder and I’m loving it! It was a big learning curve and I’m learning more things everyday, but it’s such a good fit for me. I’m able to work out of beautiful model homes and help people with one of the biggest purchases they’ll make in their life, something they’ve been dreaming about — their home.

The beauty (and curse) of real estate is that there’s so many different areas you can explore: new home construction, general brokerage, commercial, property management, and the list goes on. There’s so much flexibility and potential with an active real estate license. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. The risky jump was worth it!

Am I missing anything!? If you have any other questions, I’m more than happy to chat! Thank you so much for your support and for being on this journey with me! ❤

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17 lessons 2017 taught me

17 lessons 2017 taught me

2017.

It was challenging. It was eventful. It was confusing. It was hectic and crazy. It was wonderful. It was a blessing. It was quite a year! I’m grateful to have experienced it and for the wisdom shared along the way. In no particular order, here is just a handful of lessons that 2017 taught me.

  1. Change what needs to be changed. You are not a tree, if you don’t like something then move! Instead of continuing to complain about things I didn’t like, I decided to change them. One big one was my job aka a full on career switch. Real estate school, a great connection through a friend, and an interview made all the difference.
  2. I think about me way more than other people think about me. Go ahead and be bold. Speak your mind without fear of what people will think. Because if we’re honest, we’re thinking about ourselves too much to overthink others. Right?? That may sound a bit harsh, but it’s also freeing. When we’re not so worried about what everyone is thinking of us, we can move forward and stay true to who we are.
  3. If I want a community, I may need to build it myself. This was a big area for me this year. I craved community right where we are, both location and life stage. People to do life with on the day to day. We got plugged into an incredible community through our church towards the end of 2016 that continued to grow in 2017. That growth has encouraged us to develop more community through a small group for young married couples (just like us!) at the start of the new year. I never imagined that would be possible, but I’m so thrilled about the community we’re building.
  4. Family is such a gift. This is nothing new, but I appreciate it more and more as I get older. Everything around us may change, but family will always remain. Through losses and more time spent together, I’m realizing more and more what a gift family truly is. If we’re lucky, it’s a built in community of people that will support you, tell you the truth, and love you through it. I’m beyond lucky with my own family and a bonus family through marriage.
  5. I’m not missing anything. FOMO (fear of missing out) can certainly be real, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m where I’m supposed to be for whatever reason and I feel secure in that. This is especially hard with social media — we can see the moment by moment of what we’re “missing out” on. It may still sting to find out an invite wasn’t sent or I declined a spectacular opportunity, but everything happens for a reason.
  6. Short term sacrifice is worth it! This ties into #5. Maybe an invitation was declined due to financial reasons, to save money towards a larger goal. It sucks to have to say no to things we really want to do, but it feels so good once those larger goals are accomplished. People miss their big goals because they aren’t willing to give up the smaller things right now. Immediate gratification versus lasting fulfillment. Which would you rather have?
  7. Sometimes a day full of pajamas and Netflix are just what I need. It’s okay to not make progress sometimes. Working hard without rest leads to burnout. Sometimes a brain break is needed. If that’s the case, don’t feel guilty about it. You’ll be able to come back stronger and make even more progress after taking a brief break.
  8. Confidence is key. Act confident and no one will question you. That pretty much sums it up. Going into a new career means I was inexperienced and that made me feel inadequate at times. But I was eager to learn and not afraid to admit I was new or ask for help. People trust as confidence grows.
  9. Traditions are important and it’s fun to be creating our own. I love traditions! There’s something special about something year after year. It builds bonds and provides things to look forward to. Being married with our own home, it’s been fun to create our own traditions as well. It’s taking time for us to figure everything out, but traditions are being born and strengthened.
  10. Time spent appreciating and praising others is well worth it. I know that I could never hear “thank you” or genuine compliments too much. Words of affirmation are my love language. Even if that isn’t one of yours, I still think people love being appreciated! We’re busy and many times we may not notice, but it’s important to slow down and take the time to acknowledge the greatness in others, big or small. It really matters.
  11. Make appointments before I leave and don’t forget to write them down. It’s not a good idea to leave an appointment without making a future one. This goes for all ongoing appointments: dentist, eye doc, eyebrow wax, hair, etc. It’s so much easier to reschedule if an appointment doesn’t work instead of having to make a new one. I always underestimate the amount of time that’s gone by and then I end up scrambling to fit one in or having to book even more weeks out because they’re full. Book the future appointment before I leave, hold onto the appointment reminder card, put the time in my planner, and reschedule if something doesn’t work.
  12. Busyness is not a badge of honor. Being busy used to make me feel important. Like I was needed. I can still feel that way, but deep down I know that being “busy” probably just means I’ve overcommitted myself. I shouldn’t be too busy for the things that matter most. If I am, then I need to do some readjusting in my world.
  13. No is a complete sentence. Not everything deserves an explanation. Sometimes the answer is just “no” and that’s all. No need to feel guilty or feel responsible for getting into all the details.
  14. Contentment is crucial. As a recovering shopaholic, contentment wasn’t always in my vocabulary. I used to crave more and more things, I guess to fill a void. Or maybe it was the thrill of the purchase. Contentment (in hand with minimalism) has helped me shake that idea of needing more and allows me to be happy with the things I already have. We’re insanely blessed. Anything else is just extra. I’m focusing more on only having things that bring me joy and make our lives easier. Contentment is so good for our finances, our clutter (or lack thereof), and our lives.
  15. Time with God is everything. I made my relationship with God a focus this year and I experienced the positive change. This time — whether it’s a church service, sermon on a podcast, prayer, devotional — centers me and helps me to set my eyes on the most important thing. I’m left full of gratitude and joy. Jesus is at the middle of our marriage and as we draw closer to Him, we actually draw closer to each other as well. We are stronger, kinder, better humans because we know that we’re sinners, but we’ve been given the ultimate grace, strength and love from our Heavenly Father. God is good!
  16. Some of the best memories happen far away or right at home. We absolutely love traveling! We’ve caught the travel bug years ago and try to get away as much as we can. Experiencing new places, meeting new people, trying new foods. It’s the best! We traveled a lot for the first half of the year (Vegas, Punta Cana, Charlottesville, Charleston just to name a few!). So many stories — some of my favorite moments ever happened so far away! The travels slowed down the second half of 2017 due to classes and job changes, but we made wonderful memories here at home as well. Memories of decorating the house for Christmas, entertaining friends on our deck, many nights unwinding with Netflix on the iPad. Don’t discount the moments that seem ordinary.
  17. The best is (still) yet to come! I sincerely believe the best is yet to come. Sometimes it may seem like our “best” has already happened. The dream job, the wedding day, the birth of a child. But our greatest days are always ahead. Always.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What lessons did 2017 teach you? I’d love to read them in the comments below.

We can learn and lift each other up! I’m excited for the lessons that 2018 has in store! It’s going to be an amazing year. Thank you being with me ❤

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