This Is Where You Belong (At Christmas)

One of my favorite aspects of the holiday season, amid all of the flurry, is the fact that getting the mail becomes a treat again. Each day you wonder what surprises will await you in the mailbox. You remember the stories and triumphs of each family as you gaze at their cards. You relive the cherished memories you've experienced together as you open the envelope. You get excited about the possibilities of the new adventures to come with these special loved ones in your life. It always brings a smile to my face when we display the treasured greetings from our friends and family in a special spot. Holiday cards are such a central part of the season for me.

It is no secret we adore Minted around here. Since today is Black Friday (what, you didn't know? ;)
I thought it would be a wonderful day to share some of my favorites from them. Today they are offering a special of 20% off holiday card and photo art gift orders of $150 or more, and 15% off $100 or more. We have used Minted for our Christmas cards for the last few years and they keep us coming back for more! The designs are simply fabulous! And the quality is impeccable.

Here are a few of my favorites! :)

I love the idea of ornament cards for a fun way to change things up a bit! If you've never done this type of card before it could be something new to try this year!


This swanky snowflake design is one of my favorites! I love the shape and the combination of black and white and gold.


Minted also offers a variety of real foil pressed cards for some added glam to your greetings!


I love the simplicity of the gold Merry on this one. Anything metallic is fine by me!


Another creative idea for your holiday card is to create a mini book and include a little summary of your year.


This wintry mix holiday mini book instantly makes me feel warm and cozy. How darling is the mix of the creatures with the snowflakes and trees? Love it.

A few years ago when our Christmas time was so chaotic (I was so sick with my gallbladder issues and we were looking for a new house!) we went with a New Years card. We were also able to send them out with our new address. Deciding ahead of time that we would send out a New Years card for a change that year was a huge stress off my shoulders during a crazy time in our lives. I think this option is a wonderful one to have!


The lettering on this design is perfect for bringing in a fresh new start!


I still haven't quite decided on the design of our cards this year. Tell me some of your favorites from Minted? I would love to see them! :)

Happy Black Friday!

The Day You Drop The Knife







I believe that sometimes the most difficult thing about being a human is we are so often taught to deny our own power. To cast aside our role in our story. Our divine nature to manifest magic. When you first feel a glimpse into how all encompassing it is, it can be terrifying. That dizzying realization of your own colossal power. After all it is so easy to take a back seat and ride along with the waves, without fighting the current and refusing to live an ordinary life.

This quote hit me hard. It made an audible gasp escape from my lips when I first saw Elizabeth Gilbert's post on her Facebook page. She ended it with "peace, my dears." I actually made the above graphic way back in March. Tonight, as various things have started to come together for me, I knew it was time to write this post. I knew I finally could. Funny how that works.

You know that panic you feel when things you've been dreaming of and scheming for, start to come to fruition? That satisfaction can be terrifying and motivating. The key is to find that balance, right on that peak between oh my gosh what if this all comes crashing down around me and oh my darling but what if you create everything you've ever wanted?

I'm done being in my own way. How about you?




A Few Of My Favorite Things





The above mantra. Seriously folks, I need to repeat it to myself more often these days. Perhaps we all should. Not my circus, not my monkeys. Chin up. Moving forward.

I think this would be such a sweet gift to give or receive this Christmas.

The mystery gLocket! This is my favorite gLocket special sale we've ever done. It's a good one friends!  Super price and who doesn't love a surprise?!

Olive Lane gives back and they have a new tee! This week $5 from every sale goes toward helping empower and educate battered women. I adore her designs and she's paying it forward. Double win!

This song that was in St. Vincent with Bill Murray. Bronze Radio Return; Further On. Turn it up. Twirl in your sweatpants. Shimmy. Shake. Conquer the world. Then listen to Aretha Franklin's version of Let It Be and do simply that with all the stuff you can't make sense or logic of.

These Kindness Elves make me smile really really really big.

Lil Blue Boo, aka Ashley Hackshaw. I'm quite certain she's an angel. I'm lucky enough to call her a friend too. Every visit to her space on the internet leaves me inspired, motivated, humbled, and ready to be better and bigger tomorrow.

These delicious leggings from Three Bird Nest make me want to release my inner Carrie Bradshaw and frolic around Manhattan.

I'm reading The Night Circus. I am head over heels. I'm about 35% of the way through. The whole notion and story of the twins? I'm obsessed. It is like a cross between Alice Hoffman and Harry Potter. Basically, two of my favorite things in the universe.


What are a few of your favorite things these days?


10 Things To Remember On A Bad Day




We all have them for various reasons that range from car problems, to bigger hurdles like major life changes. A bad day can get the best of you, or you can arm yourself with tools and do your best to turn it around with these quick and easy tips! :)


1. Perspective: Somewhere someone is having a worse day than you are. My go to perspective game changer is always: Do I have a working kidney? Yes! Am I on the waiting list for a life saving organ? No. Okay, I have nothing to complain about. I can conquer whatever it is I'm facing today.

2. Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Write down a quick 5 to 10 item gratitude list. Guaranteed to instantly lift your spirits and turn your day around!

3. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a blank slate. If you simply can't seem to turn your day around, relish in the fact the mornings brings a fresh start to tackle the world again.

4. You're exactly where you are supposed to be in the grand story of it all. Even if this current day is not all you hoped.

5. Find the good no matter how hard you have to look for it.

6. Do you have one or more of the following? Clean water, a roof over your head, people who love you? You're extremely blessed. All three? You're golden.

7. Books offer an instant vacation, even for 10 minutes. Pick one up, start reading, and think about another reality for awhile.

8. A quick walk is also a wonderful way to turn a bad day around. Often, a fast 15 minute journey around the neighborhood is enough to reenergize my body and offer other ways to look at the things that are bothering me.

9. Focus on the beauty of every little thing. The clouds in the sky, the melody of your favorite song, the softness of a sweater. The more you find beauty, the more it will find you.

10. Spend some time with a child. Engage in imaginary play with them, which will enrich their day as well as yours.

The Today Is A Miracle Shop




The today is a miracle shop is now open! I've teamed up with my favorite graphic designers, Olive Lane and Danielle Burkleo of Take Heart to bring you two beautiful designs available in white and gray options. As of right now there is also a kids tee (in purple! my favorite!) and a darling tote bag for the library or a quick grocery store trip. These tees are a multi-faceted mission of mine! One reason is to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my kidney transplant that occurred last month, on October 18th. Another reason is to fundraise and give back to the community that has given me so much over the years. $5 from every tee purchased will go to the Cystinosis Research Network.

I've been dreaming up this project since May! I'm ecstatic about it's launch! I've been obsessed with the phrase today is a miracle ever since I wrote THIS blog post in April. I adore the notion, the reminder this day is a gift and it is quite a miracle we are all here, no matter what we have had to fight against to arrive right at this spot in our story. I think so often we can get caught up in the idea of a cure (whether it be for cystinosis, cancer, MS, etc.) that we can forget to embrace the power of today. 

An excerpt from that post in April:

I've been thinking a lot about different perspectives when it comes to living your story when a rare disease is a piece of it. Your normal is your normal...and no one else's. My health is only but a tiny facet of the entire scope of my being. I know that 10 years into one journey can, and will, look extremely different than 30 years into it all. And still? And still we are all so unique, even under the realm umbrella of living with cystinosis. I've never felt like I would be me without it. I don't loathe it. Yes, sometimes things are difficult...but that is existing on this earth. Every single human has their mountain. The funny thing is, it isn't even a mountain to me any longer. I think I'm more hopeful about the future than I have ever been. My life isn't horrible because of a lovely little flaw in my DNA; it makes me who I am.  It doesn't have to dictate anything I do (it truly doesn't.) Looking back on where I've been over the years and what I've experienced, I wouldn't change anything; health wise or otherwise. There is a tremendous peace with the current place I'm in.

If I could say one thing to anyone out there waiting for a cure...for anything, whether it is cystinosis, or cancer, or cystic fibrosis, or MS, it would be this:

It is a beautiful thing to have hope. It is a fabulous notion to believe in the future. However, I don't ever want to cling so tightly to tomorrow that I forget to cherish and embrace this exact minute. Today is a miracle, for everything it is right now.

Smiled With The Rising Sun



Today was cozy and we indulged in Sunday morning family band practice in the basement. Sookie was on the drums, of course. Artists we covered included Bob Marley, Queen Elsa, Taylor Swift, and Meghan Trainor. I adore that Sookie's favorite songs right now include Elton's John's Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting, Counting Crows Scarecrow, and Willie Nelson's On The Road Again. Girlfriend is going to inherit her momma's freakishly diverse music tastes. I have to say, I'm quite proud of that.

I also wasted three hours of my life going to see Interstellar, but let's not get into that. At least there was a raspberry shake and salty popcorn to keep me awake. ;)

The other day after I picked Sookie up from preschool, she remarked "I'm grateful you and daddy are healthy." I stopped mid whatever it was I was doing and wanted to explain. Then, it hit me like a wall of bricks, square in the chest. I view myself as healthy, so she does too. I view myself as healthy, because I am. It is all relative.

And as Bob would say...

...every little thing is gonna be alright.

On My Heart, In My World




A few minutes ago, I was glancing over saved drafts in blogger, sifting through the thoughts and words wondering which to tackle today. It has been a good week, a big week. There is so much I want to make sense of and write about. There is always something quiet deep within, pushing you forward, beyond your comfort zone. For some reason, that something in me has been extra powerful lately and I'm learning to trust it and go with it. I've had important phone calls. I've been planting seeds of hope everywhere I can. I turned around some mommy guilt on Monday when Sookie so desperately wanted to stop at the library before preschool and there simply wasn't time. Instead, we played a game of tag at the park. We were bundled up in the cold, laughing and constantly moving to keep warm. It was, by far, the best 15 minutes of my day. My reminder that you don't need to do grand things to make memories, that sometimes the most simple things are what childhood is made of.

I soaked up the music of The Black Keys a few nights ago with Rory and his brothers. We laughed at the bold dance moves of the couple a few feet away from us in the general admission area. I secretly wished I had the guts to move that freely and unabashedly in public. I'm forever grateful to be wowed by the sheer power of live music. How it can bring people together for a few hours, united in melody.

Speaking of music, Sookie sings all day lately. Most often with her doggy guitar. I love it. My ears delight in it. The other day she was singing a song: the moon is shining bright, it's a day of light. She said she just made it up and it made my heart burst with pride.

We launched fresh products this week too! Brand new gLockets are up on the website! Our vintage heart in gold and rose gold. I'm obsessed with these and love the way they compliment a cozy sweater! Use code HAPPYGIRL at checkout for 20% off. Grab some for gifts!




And with that, I will say happy weekend, make a cup of coffee, and work on my new project! :)

5 Tips For Coping With A High Risk Pregnancy





There is no doubt that pregnancy is a great adventure from the very beginning. However, when you are  facing a high risk pregnancy, that uncertainty can come with a thousand more twists and turns along the way. The normal roller coaster of a pregnancy is added to tenfold when you have extra obstacles thrown your way. Personally, during my pregnancy with Sookie my emotions were all over the map. On one hand, we were both ecstatic, as neither of us ever thought we would get to be parents. On the other hand, only knowing of about nine other women in the world who have cystinosis and have had biological children, we really had no idea what would happen. And yet, we were armed with an abundance of hope and faith.

Here are my 5 tips for coping with a high risk pregnancy. Please add your own in the comments! I would love to hear them!

*******

1. Be Open
When you are facing a high risk pregnancy, being optimistic and yet realistic at the same time can be an extremely tricky balance. I found it was best to be honest with our family and friends about our obstacles, possible outcomes, and complications. The look of glee on our faces was incredibly obvious to anyone who saw us. However, our concerns were heavy and very real too. Being upfront with loved ones is key in keeping your sanity.

2. Accept Support
Don't be afraid to accept support in any way, shape, or form. People love to help, especially if they don't know what to say. Accept what people offer and don't feel guilty about it one bit. It takes a tremendous support system to conquer a high risk pregnancy. The more people you have rooting you on, the better.

3. Stay Positive
Stay upbeat! Sometimes you might have to fake it. Surround yourself with positive people. Create your own optimistic mantras to repeat every day. Read success stories. Engage with others who will cheer you on and assist you in always finding that silver lining. Believe in miracles. (Cheesy, but true!)

4. Educate Yourself
Read stories of others who have been where you are, but at the same time remember everyone is on their own personal journey and no two cases will be the same. Connect with friends who might be able to offer some knowledge. Seek out support groups online. Absorb as much information as you can handle. Ask questions and then ask some more. Quiz your doctors constantly.


5. Be Your Own Advocate
Luckily I've had plenty of practice advocating for myself in the medical environment. It came in handy when working with my maternal fetal medicine specialist in doing our best to keep Sookie safe, and at the same time, keeping my health in check as well. There were many times I requested labs to be drawn to monitor my creatinine (kidney function). I'm not ashamed to admit this at all. Don't be afraid to make your voice heard. I was hyper aware of how high the stakes were and wanted to stay on top of everything as much as possible. If you feel something isn't right, don't downplay it or ignore it. Speak up.

How To Live Your Best Life



Rise up with gusto. Attack your destiny. Follow it through to its beautiful and outrageous conclusion. Stop for breaks occasionally and to breathe in this glorious life. You are not a robot, work is not your life. You are a human being, and that, being is all that is required of you. Accept this. You heart beats along with the thump of your big, outrageous, spectacular dreams.

Feed your soul, along with your belly. Choose love over fear, even when fear is disguised as love.  Pick your battles, but know the core of your fight.

Jump.

Carefully note the odds stacked against you. Remember them. Then kindly throw them out.

Recognize your story. Own your power. Do not be afraid of it. Use it to change the world.

Wake up. Again. Repeat.





Hope On A Friday

my new obsession


This morning I played I spy with our girl on the drive to the hospital to see my nephrologist. We sang Christmas songs at the top of our lungs. I soaked up this gorgeous November morning, reveling in the majestic mountains towering over the freeway. The waiting room at the kidney and liver clinic was packed full. Noticing this reminded me how blessed I am that I only have to go there twice a year now, knock on wood! Such a far cry from the three times weekly it was once upon a time two decades ago.

Sookie has been my sidekick to two blood draws this week before today and continued to be such a trooper at my appointment this morning. She is such an old soul and pushes me to be braver all the time.

The best news of the day is a .88 creatinine (anything below 1 is considered ideal) level 20 years post transplant with no immunosupressive medication! My nephrologist told me to go celebrate! 

It always feels incredible to remember what a miracle your body is, every single day.

You Can Dance In A Hurricane, But Only If You're Standing In The Eye



Pixie dust is all over the house. It is hiding in the cracks of our hardwood floors and sprinkled on top of the dog and cats. All in Sookie's (ahem) Tinkerbell's, attempt to get everyone in the family thinking happy thoughts and flying on Halloween. In the rare hours we've actually been home this past week or so, I've been lounging in my sweats and my new favorite She believed she could, so she did tee. The chaos of celebrating Halloween has kept us busy with activities and fantastic memory making. It has been perfect in oh so many ways. Watching our girl delight in holidays is one of my very favorite things in this life.

When we see friends we haven't seen in awhile, the conversation ends up at Rory's accident in August. That night, the way everything happened so quickly, the things I would have done differently looking back now, the post traumatic stress that has plagued all three of us since. It was such a bizarre accident. He was so calm. Such a rock. He was the rock when I should have been. I'm still seeking the lesson in all of it. Although I did learn I'm horrible at being on the other side of the hospital bed. Something I will add to my improvement list of how to be a better human.

Rory gifted me with tickets to Brandi Carlile in August for my birthday. A highlight for me was when she performed a new song with the twins. It is called The Eye and sums up this summer so perfectly. Hearing the lyrics now, I am instantly transported back to that night. The wind rustling through the trees, the haunting harmonies of people who simply belong together making music, the powerful and simple beauty of the statements in that song: You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you're standing in the eye. Goosebumps.

And that is how I feel about this summer, and this whole year in particular. Standing in the eye of a hurricane, attempting to dance my thriving heart out as I see all of this upheaval happening with those I love dearly. There are the most beautiful and heartbreaking stories out there. Not all of them are mine to tell here. Then there's the metaphorical storm of my own path and this tremendous fork I've been standing at, looking to my left to crazy new shit option and to my right of same old shit road.

I think it is okay to forgive yourself for going backward sometimes.

This fall season has been outrageously special. I've felt good most of the time, decent at the worst. As a result I've taken advantage of the glorious now and jumped headfirst into every fall related activity available.