First and foremost, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all having a great day with friends and family. I’m cozied up with mine in North Carolina this year, and it’s been so nice to lounge on the couch in our pajamas and just relax! We live in a world where busyness and productivity is glorified and it’s so evident how it wears on us over time. I have been in pajamas since I got here on Friday night and I wouldn’t have it any other way! What are y’all up to? How are you spending today?
In honor of it being Christmas, and because I think it’s important to practice gratitude, I thought I’d share the five gifts I received this year that I’m especially thankful for. As you get older, and as you realize what this season is truly about, you are more aware of the fact that none of the best gifts can be found under the tree.
• For me, this year, I received an affirmation of my health. I shared a little bit on Snapchat about this. My mom passed away in 2013 from a brain aneurysm rupture, which can be hereditary, with women having a higher chance of having one than men. I started having some frequent headaches over the summer that alarmed me because they weren’t relieved with medication. My mom suffered from really bad headaches her whole life – and while her headaches were, likely, not due to her aneurysm when she was my age, I saw a bit of a parallel in her & I, so I wanted to get some primitive testing done … just in case. Aneurysms develop in young adults and grow over time. They likely cause no symptoms at all until they are big enough to rupture, but they can be detected in imaging when they are small. After seeing a neurologist, and because of my family history and recent history of headaches, I was given a prescription for a CT Angiogram of my head, which looks at the vasculature of my brain to detect any potential abnormalities. I have never been the patient before, and it was a little nerve-wrecking, even though it was a very short procedure. Thankfully, everything came back normal and there were no aneurysms to be seen. It was determined that my headaches were likely due to a combination of dehydration, stress and a lack of caffeine on the days I had them. I also have really, really terrible vision and on my last annual exam, my optometrist told me that I had some markers that were positive for glaucoma and that he wanted me to see a specialist. I’m 30-years-old, mind you, and all of these things were happening at the same time so I was freaking out a little. After a long afternoon of multiple tests, it seems everything came back completely normal. I’m really near-sighted but my peripheral vision is still very much intact. Working as a nurse for many years and having to experience the shocking loss of my Mom has afforded me so much gratitude for my family & I’s health, and this year my heart is especially full over it.
• I received the gift of a relationship and the ability to let it go gracefully. I am that friend of yours who is really, REALLY picky when it comes to who they will even consider dating. I feel like the right one doesn’t come along every day so, while I think it’s important to give people a chance, I also think it’s important to be really honest. If there doesn’t seem to be anything remarkable about your connection, then you should do yourself and the other person a favor and let it go. It had been about 5 years since I had dated someone when I met Ben in January while I was in London. We immediately hit it off and got along so well, and y’all already know how it progressed. It took me to London in August to explore it all further. I haven’t stated it outright here on the blog yet but, it didn’t quite work out the way we both had hoped, and not because of anything the other person did. We simply knew it wasn’t ‘it’ for either of us. And, it was heartbreaking because we adore the crap out of each other, and wanted it to be ‘it’. Despite the outcome, though, I am so thankful that God wanted him to be a part of my story because he’s an amazing individual. It was so nice to have him to laugh with, explore with, and go to for support, advice and encouragement this past year. And, really, because I haven’t had this in so long, it was nice to be reminded of how nice it is to have someone I care about [and vice versa!] give me a hug when I get upset about something, say good job when I accomplish a goal, or always have a good morning text to wake up to. It was also nice to have a teammate to plan things with and experience things with, and that I could spoil. It has been sad to let him go. I miss him a lot but I’ve been dealing with that, facing it head on for awhile now, and realize that you can’t dwell on the negative. You have to hold on to hope and remember it was the right thing. He and I respect each other so much, never did wrong to each other, and, thus, have been able to let each other go in such a graceful way. For that, I am extremely grateful.
• I received an extraordinary adventure. If someone told me a few years ago that I would one day live in London for almost 5 months, I would be wide-eyed! I really wouldn’t believe it. My relationship with Ben is what got me over there, and I will forever be thankful for that, but my love for London made the experience just a little lighter and made me stay longer. The city – as mentioned previously – is just magic. I’m absolutely obsessed with it. I’m used to palm trees, the ocean, sea gulls and thick, humid air. Being somewhere, like London, that is rich in culture and bathed in beauty everywhere you look made me feel alive. [It may sound cheesy, but it’s true! All of the visitors I had all said that they’ve never seen me so happy and … like, I was just ‘meant to be there’]. It allowed me to hop over to and explore stunning cities like Rome, Amsterdam, and Cologne. It opened my eyes to how much beauty there is in the world that I have never seen and experienced, and that the way people do life in other countries might be different but the people that live there are still people, just like me as an American. I’ve overheard conversations in English, but thick in Polish, Italian and Swiss accents, about how frustrated they were with their boss, or about what they did over the weekend with their friends from college [they call it university], or about the guy they went out on a date with. We all have more similarities than I think we realize. Although I am craving a little bit more stability and order this year, I am so thankful for this adventure! It has opened my eyes to how many amazing places there are to see in the world and inspired me to get out there and see them!
• I received and embraced a great life motto: “Work to live, don’t live to work.” You know, these blogs can be all-consuming for the women running them. Honestly, full-time bloggers put in 60-90+ hours a week creating content, brainstorming blog post ideas, negotiating partnerships, responding to emails, running errands to the post office or office supply store, creating style boards, writing copy for posts, editing photos, linking posts for Instagram, managing social media for their daily blog posts, etc. all the while trying to keep their home looking ‘insta-worthy’ and maintaining the relationships in their lives. I repeat: 60-90+ hours a week. Think about that – that’s a lot of time! That’s a lot of time being spent away from family, friends, boyfriends, husbands, kids, exercise, etc. and distracted by their to-do lists and iPhone. Hey … I’m just calling it like it is. I’m guilty, too. Women, these days, especially women entrepreneurs are now the ‘men’ in the family when we were growing up. I know it seems like blogging is an ‘easy’ job – if that’s you, please check out this post – but it’s really time consuming and you have to put those hours in to make it seem like you ‘have it all together’ and you’re running a ‘legit’ blog. And, I’ve been doing this single since I started. So, I’d be lying if I said running my blog while also being in a relationship – even a long-distance one – made it SO challenging. When I decided to go to London and give my relationship with Ben a real shot, I knew that it would throw a wrench into my blog – which is also my business and how I make a living – and work flow. However, after I really sat down and thought about it, I realized that, at the end of the day, I want to work hard, do a good job and run a successful blog but I also want to set realistic goals so that I can maintain a healthy work-life balance. If that means I don’t have a post up EVERY day, like I have in the past, then that’s okay because  it’s realistically not going to hurt business too much; the bills will still get paid AND  there really is so much life to be lived outside of work. That was very apparent to me when I was living in London. I’m really thankful for that realization because it allowed me to really take advantage of the opportunity that I had to be there for as long as I was. But, don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to be okay with it ALL THE TIME. I absolutely love what I do, and that’s why so many of us get so consumed with our blogs. We have so much fun doing it! So, sometimes, I get a little disappointed that I can’t get everything done that I have in my head for the blog because I decided to invest in other things. But, I know what it’s like to be a workaholic and feel completely drained and empty because that’s all I’ve been investing in. We all need breaks, so those decisions to do life outside of work are ones I never regret. **NOTE: that my thoughts are just thoughts & opinions gathered from real life but they don’t necessarily reflect reality for all bloggers. There are a lot of bloggers out there who have contracted staff, significant others or family members to help them manage their list of blog obligations, myself included.**
• I received a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration. Earlier this year, I had a really hard time feeling motivated and inspired, like I didn’t really have much to offer you that others weren’t offering you, which was frustrating. I was also really exhausted from going going going full-speed in 2015. I think it’s been a combination of the above realization [‘work to live, don’t live to work’], living in London, and also some new happenings in the new year that are coming soon that have given me this new sense of motivation and inspiration that I’m so excited to bring in this new year. I can’t share much more but it won’t be long before I can, so stay tuned. This next year is going to be an exciting one for Sequins & Things. I hope to bring you a lot of new content that you have been wanting from me 🙂
I hope you have all had a heartwarming day with friends and family. I’m currently watching Home Alone 2 with my step-sister and nephew. Dad and Francie are our master chef’s – they rarely let us in the kitchen hah! It’s been so nice to be up here in the mountains for the weekend. Of course I always prefer a white Christmas but, really just thankful to have a weekend where I literally just sit on the couch and watch movies all day while munching on sweets! Ha! That NEVER happens so I consider it the sixth gift I’m thankful for this year 😉 Anyway, Merry Christmas, friends!
What are the five best gifts you have received this year?