With a Tiara and a Little Confidence


With a tiara and a little confidence... artofabeautifullife.com

With a tiara and a little confidence, we could change our world. -Topaz

There is a little girl in all of us whose heart still skips a beat at the fairy tale story of a princess. We were captivated by Princess Diana, and we are enamored with Princess Kate. Who does not want to be that girl?

Even now, no matter how old we are, there is still a little something in us all, who wants to be the princess in the story, who wants to be the princess in our own story. When we watch a movie like Princess Diaries or The Prince and Me, there is still a little girl inside imagining for a second what that would feel like.

We get older and realize it is not even all about a prince charming.   Princess Diana definitely did not have a fairy tale marriage, but we were enamored with her, not her Prince.  And in the first Princess Diaries, there really is no significant love interest. It is about her. It is about being that girl…the way she walks, the way she talks, the way she acts. She is a leading lady.

What we are really wanting to be is a leading lady.

In these stories, while there is a title, is it the title that really matters? Even when Princess Diana was no longer a princess, she was still a princess in our hearts.  And that is my point. When we want to be the princess in our own story or the leading lady in our own story, it is about how walk, talk, act, and how we carry ourselves.

It begins with a decision, a decision to let our inner princess out, our leading lady.

Then there must be action. We must be intentional about the way we live and the choices we make.

  1. Build your confidence. 
  2. Read an etiquette book.
  3. Be intentional with your style.
  4. Be a kind person.
  5. Set aside some of your time for others, for causes, for something bigger than yourself.

One of our local news anchors, Octavia Mitchell, recently was the Mistress of Ceremony at a winter gala. She looked like a princes complete with her coach. I remember looking at these pictures and thinking to myself that every woman should have that moment, the moment where she is dressed like a princess, complete with the dress and a tiara, and the coach was a nice touch, too. Or she should know what it feels like to walk the red carpet. Or to have paparazzi following her taking her picture. I remember watching  The Talk once, and Melissa Peterman who played Barbara Jean on Reba was sharing a story of when Reba invited her out on stage at a concert of hers and how everyone applauded and cheered and how fantastic it was. She said everyone woman should know what that feels like. There should be a place where any woman could walk up on stage and be cheered and applauded. I loved her for saying that. Whether we do any of these things (which I absolutely think we should) or not, know that you are still just as amazing as every princess, and you are the leading lady of your own life.

Shine on, my beautiful friend. Shine on.


There Is Light on the Other Side of Darkness: A Path to Healing


lightWe all live lives that at some point will lead us down a dark path. We lose our joy and our hope. We seem unable to take our eyes off the problem and are lost in despair. I have been there and am here to say that there is light on the other side of darkness.

This is to all those who are lost and hurting.

7 Steps Out of the Darkness

  • Start where you are. If it’s just remembering to just breathe and to remind yourself to take one day at a time and do not worry about down the road. Just focus on today. This moment.  I was so low a few years ago that this is where I had to start. Start where you are.
  • Write. Write your thoughts. Write to God. This is healing and good for the soul. God meets us in the sacred places of our deepest thoughts.
  • Create. Do something that stirs the creator in you. It could be photography, painting, art journaling, crafts, cooking or whatever you enjoy doing, but take time to create. Take nothing and make it something. It puts our soul at peace.
  • Be grateful…even for little things. Each day write three different things for which you are grateful to have in your life. It could be something as small as being thankful for a warm pair of socks on a cold day, lotion to soothe dry hands, etc. No matter what is going on in our lives, there is always something good. Remember those things every day.
  • Read. Read something good for the soul – the Bible, quotes, or an inspirational book. It is important to feed yourself from the good and the inspirational, a little chicken soup for the soul. 
  • Laughter is good medicine. Read or watch something funny. Sometimes we forget how healing laughter can be in our lives.
  • Distract yourself. Many times we are so focused on the problem that we forget that there is anything else out there. In the movie, What About Bob, he was given the advice to take a vacation from his problems.  This is actually a good idea. It can be a much needed reprieve, and sometimes just the thing to break the cycle and to remind us there is still life to be lived. Distract yourself with a great novel, a hobby, a passion, or a new adventure. Just focus on something other than where you are right now. It will help to clear your head. Many times we are stuck simply because we  have not moved forward. 

You will have good days and bad days on your journey out of the darkness. A bad day is not a setback. It is simply part of the process. Just keep taking the actions above as you continue walking out of the darkness.

Our situation may or may not change, but we will. Blooming is still possible even when our world has been turned upside down.


Create the Life You Want to Live


So much more is in our grasp than we ever dreamed possible. We are capable of more than we think. The worst thing we can do is accept the status quo. If it’s always been that way, then that is the way it will always be…for me.

If there is something that you want, or a life you want to have, why are you just wishing for it? What if you see someone well-dressed, and think you would love to do dress well like that, but say to yourself that you don’t know how? Then learn how. What if you don’t have the money? Shop consignment stores and good will stores, or shop sales. Save money in other areas and start a clothing fund. Yes, maybe you won’t be able to go out and get an outfit every time you want, but in time you will have put together a nice wardrobe. The biggest thing is just to learn how.

What if you want a nice house? Yes, maybe that is a much bigger issue than the clothes, but until then, work with what you have, meaning make what you have nice. I have seen amazing rooms put together on a budget when you know what you are doing. Again, the biggest step comes down to learning how. A little cleaning, decluttering goes a long way. Add a coat of fresh paint to that, and you have a great foundation. Many of us are content to say, “I just don’t know how to do that.” Were you born knowing how to read or write? No. You learned how. And you can learn anything else, too. The only thing that is stopping you is you.

And let me offer you a word of caution about the naysayers. Some will say that you need to be happy with who you are, and they will proudly boast how they are. Well, for one, how do we know the way you WANT to be isn’t the real you? Maybe the person you are now isn’t the real you. Maybe right now, you are a product of negative things in your life that got you stuck. And two, these people that tell you to be happy with the way you are, like they are, are rarely as happy with themselves as they say they are. Many times it’s just bravado, and is a learned response. And who’s to say that they wouldn’t benefit from a little change themselves? Ignore them.

What if we want to grow and be a better person, letting go of the things that have held us back for far too many years? Anything is possible. The changes in my life over the last couple of years have been amazing. The things that I have written about on the Be a Leading Lady website are the things I have done or have learned, and it’s been an amazing journey, a journey that anyone can take. My life is far from perfect, but it’s what I am choosing to make out of myself and the life I am creating that makes it a life worth living, a life that makes me happy. We must live life on purpose if we want to be happy. Create the life you want to live.

It’s not the life you’re given that matters as much as what you do with it. If you took any of the people that you admire and placed them in your life, playing your part, they would begin creating a different life. Likewise, if you were placed in their life, it would begin to look just like the life you have now. It’s us that we must change if we want a different life.

What we need is not someone else’s life but a paradigm shift for our own life. And when you begin to change your thinking, you begin to see new possibilities and then start to take action to make it happen. It’s time to change our thinking and begin creating the life we want to live.

What do you want to change in your life today? What do you want to be better tomorrow, and what steps today can you start taking to make that happen?

Best Gift Ideas – Christmas, Birthdays, Wedding, Inspirational


It can be so difficult finding that wonderful and inspirational gift that is off the beaten path, that gift that you just might not think of normally when you are shopping. I know. I just went through it myself. I know that not every gift I give will be inspirational, but I do love to find a great inspirational gift when I can. I think they do more than fill up our valuable space, they give the gift of inspiration throughout the year. So I decided to share with you the gold gift nuggets that I found on my journey and will keep adding more as I go.

These are also great ideas for the difficult person to buy for!

  1. Inspirational Leather Cuff – The PERFECT Handcrafted Gift Idea! Give the gift that will inspire and encourage them all year long!
  2. Flameless Wax Candle – This just makes me feel good, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it off. Many flameless wax candles come with a remote and timer. How cool is that!
  3. The Things That Matter by Nate Berkus – A different kind of home design book
  4. Wireless Keyboard and Mouse – This is great for the person with a desktop, or a person with a laptop who works a lot on it and wants to get the keyboard and the screen placed more ergonomically. This one may not seem inspiring or comforting, but when you are a writer with carpal tunnel, or wanting to prevent wrist injury, trust me, getting your wrists and hands at the correct level while keeping your head and neck straight is a beautiful thing.
  5. Comfy throw – I purchased one last year or the year before from Target, that I’m pretty sure they do not sell anymore, and I love it so much! I have never loved a throw this much in my life.Stay tuned….as I find more ideas, I will be posting them. Please feel free to post your ideas in the comments! They might even make it to the list!
  6. A Special Box – I have loved special boxes since I was a little girl. It was like going treasure hunting, and to this day I am a huge fan of them. I have some the boys made for me when they were little, and some I have bought. I love them and use them all.

Also, take a peak at our recommended reading list for great book ideas.

Leap! Great Things Are Ahead


What we do when we are at crossroads in our life or during difficult times tells people a lot about who we are. But it is even more telling about where we are going. Rough times are not the time to give up. They are the time to leap, because great things lie ahead. Our life is a series of ebb and flow, ups and downs, and many of the best things come after a difficult time or life-changing experience. But as we all know, these times are difficult while we are going through them.

At these times in our life, we get to decide who we are going to be. When we have lost something in our life it can place us us at these crossroads. It could be a lost relationship, job or something else that meant a lot to us or something that we felt defined us or something that we never thought we could live without. But we usually find that we can. And not only that, there is most likely a better job, or better relationship, or better life experiences waiting for us. Sometimes the growth alone by the choice of how we decide to walk through it is a big part of the amazing new life that awaits us. And sometimes these experiences are the catalyst to bring about a good change in our lives that we might not have been brave enough to bring about ourselves.

I was watching the new show Malibu Country with Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin last week. It’s about a woman whose husband cheated on her, and she left him, so she left Nashville and moved to Malibu with her two children and mother to start her life over and to reignite her own singing career. At one point, everything seemed to be going wrong, and she was ready to pack up and move back to Nashville. And her mother offered her these words of wisdom:

“Oh baby, you gave up your voice once and here you have a chance to find it again. Don’t you go back just because it’s hard right now.” -Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin) Malibu Country – Reba McEntire’s new show

So when we find ourselves at these crossroads, remember to leap, because great things are ahead. Stop resisting and use this opportunity for growth and change.

This is where I am at in life right now. Things aren’t easy and haven’t been for a few years. Things were so bad two years ago that I left myself two sticky notes, one reminding me to breathe, and the other reminding me to take one day at a time. Thinking too far ahead was, let’s just say, a hyperventilating experience. I didn’t have to think about any of that that very second, just today, and to just breathe.

It’s three years later now, and I have survived, even learned to be happy and found my joy, even though my circumstances haven’t changed. I also like to think that I have grown. A lot. I like who I am a lot more now. I guess in these moments, we only have two options, to go up or to go down. Staying the same usually isn’t one of the choices anymore. Now my daily reminder is on my bracelet, and it says….Leap.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve learned in life that the tough times are going to come, and I’ve also learned they are great opportunities to take us to new and better levels. Past experience has taught me that this is always true.

So right now…I’m choosing to be brave and to leap, to leap into being who I was destined to be, to leap onto the stepping stone that God has provided to something even greater.

What will you choose when at the crossroads of life? What will you choose today?

Showing Up and Daring Greatly


It’s a wonderful thing that we are continually learning and able to experience growth. And you begin to pull all the little signs and messages together that been leading you there.

This has been my aha moment this week:

  • Be real. Be present.
  • Be in the moment.
  • Be comfortable in your own skin by embracing who you are with no shame and with a sense of humor.

I have a friend who embraces being real. We have been friends since we were 12 years old, and I absolutely adore this about her. No matter how embarrassing the story is, and believe me we have accumulated plenty of them, she laughs hysterically about it. She came into town last weekend and we met for dinner and drinks and had a great discussion about embracing all of ourselves. She inspires me. It’s not my strong point. I tend to get embarrassed or ashamed. Yeah, I’m fun like that. She is my safe place. I can let my guard down and be real with her.

This is what this opens up in your life when you embrace it…real connections and real relationships. Sure some people may use this to feel superior to you and those relationships will not move forward but those are their issues and not ours. We showed up. It reminds me of this quote: “An enlightened woman will not seek to be understood, she just enjoys the company of likeminded people. –Casey Leasure

It makes no sense, but we do it all the time. We seek to explain ourselves and seek validation from others.

I love when you have one of those moments like I did with my friend where your eyes are open to something you know you need in your life, and then you begin to see it everywhere. I was watching the Katie Couric Show this week, and one of her guests was Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly.

I love the daring greatly philosophy because it’s about showing up. It’s about going big or going home. If we are not showing up for our life, we have truly already lost. I love what Brene said daring greatly.

Brene says to dare greatly that we need to be willing to be vulnerable and defines vulnerability as: unceertainty, risk, emotional exposure. Vulnerability is being all in. It’s showing up.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Aristotle

If we want to avoid criticism in our life, we are not even going to be showing up. We also must learn to ignore the critic sitting on the sideline. We are the one in the arena of our own life.

“Make no mistake it feels uncomfortable to put ourselves out there, and it feels dangerous, but I don’t think there is anything more uncomfortable or dangerous, I get teary-eyed when I talk about this, than standing on the outside of our lives wondering what it would be like had we shown up.” -Brene Brown

She gave the example of a character in a movie who shows up outside of a girl’s window with his boombox playing a love song to woo her. As movie-watchers, we are rooting for him. It feels quite differently when we think of being the ones to put ourselves out there, but in the end that is usually where great things happen. He was daring greatly, and at least he showed up.

For some strange reason, we think we are the only ones who get nervous or have social anxiety issues, or who are dealing with depression or post traumatic stress disorder. It is simply not true. We all experience these at one time or the other, even your favorite celebrities.

We are all just human. Ad it is human to feel these things, but what is truly heroic is to be real and be able to laugh at yourself.

Lauren Graham was on The Ellen Show today discussing her social anxiety at a recent party of Ellen’s. She was intimidated by Ellen and the others around her and blurted out ridiculous comments in an effort to make conversation. It was hysterical listening to her tell the story. But I love that she did. That makes it okay for me to be human and embrace it too. Even Ellen admitted to having social anxiety issues.

[Watch Lauren Graham on the Ellen Show]

No one is as together as you think they are. We are all just human.

It’s all about showing up. Whether we have an anxiety disorder, depression, or other overwhelming life situations, we have the power to stop where we are and say that I am going to show up and lead my own life. To say that we are going to be real and embrace ourselves.

It is about showing up and being true to yourself, taking chances, and going outside of your comfort zone to risk nothing for something great. We’re really not risking anything if we don’t already have what we we want. We have nothing to lose.

I love this part of the story. Famous blogger, and one of my favorites, Jenny Lawson, also know as The Bloggess, was also with Brene on the Katie Couric show. Jenny had struggled with depression and anxiety disorder and while already a very popular blogger, struggled some days to get out of bed. She felt the dissonant cord struck in her life knowing that her husband knew, so she was very brave and shared this with her readers. It gave them permission to be real too. Which is the first step to begin any healing process. She told the story of the “sisterhood of the traveling red dress”. In an effort to reclaim her life and say that she was in charge again, going totally out of her comfort zone, she had a friend make her a large red ball gown and did a photo shoot to capture her embracing and reclaiming her life. Then she blogged about the importance of going after the things we want, even if we think they are ridiculous, because we are worth it. That very dress has now made it’s way all over the world so that other women could embrace the same moment.

I’ve always said how important it is to have these images of ourselves. I wrote in an article, A Mirror Has Two Faces, that you need to have at least one picture of yourself where you shine, not just shine on the outside, but shine on the inside, too – you at the top of your game, confident and happy. Put these pictures where you can see them every day. And, remember, you do not have to find yourself. You just have to remember who you are.

So lighten up on yourself today. Be kind to yourself. Show yourself the same grace that you would your best friend. Be brave today. Be grateful for this moment, and dare greatly.

There Is Magic in Kindness


I’ve written about making a memory with the focus on our loved ones, but sometimes, briefly, our lives will cross paths with someone whom you will never forget. Your life is never quite the same, because for that brief connection, something happened. Time stood still and nothing else existed. It’s a remarkable experience. Two completely separate lives that intersect.

Always be aware and take those few extra moments for these encounters. They tend to happen when you least expect them.

While checking out at the grocery store, I noticed the woman behind the register. She was older, much older than I expected at the time of evening that I was shopping, especially since her makeup looked fresh and like she had just arrived. I just really felt like saying something nice to her, so I commented on how lovely she looked today. Through our conversation, I realized she had been there for quite a few hours and had been up early that morning. Well, at that point, I commented on her makeup looking so fresh like she had just arrived. She told me that she had put it on around 9 o’clock that morning. At this point, I HAD to know what she used. She told me and also mentioned her son in the conversation while she told me a little about her day. Mind you, we are having this whole conversation while I am checking out with a line forming behind us. As she began to open up a little more, she mentioned her son again. He obviously loves her very much. I commented on their wonderful relationship. It was here the story began to take an unexpected turn. She told me that she lost a daughter, and she felt like they were extra close after that had happened. I told her how sorry I was. She began to open up a little more and shared how her daughter died. She was young, only 28 years old, and had just moved into an apartment. She had talked to her daughter that night and told her that she loved her and would talk to her tomorrow. That was the last time she ever talked to her daughter. She died that night of carbon monoxide poisoning due to an issue with the heater in her apartment. She talked of the importance of telling your children that you love them. This offered her a small amount of comfort in knowing these were their last words. She talked of the importance of this as she finished checking out my groceries. I have always done this myself. I don’t know why, but I always have done this with those I cherish. The last words I ever said to my brother, just hours before he was rushed to the hospital and died later the next day, were the exact same as the ones she said to her daughter. As I was preparing to leave, I looked at her and said how glad I was to have met her and how much I had enjoyed talking with her. She said to look for her next time. I smiled and said I would. At this point, I looked at the line behind me and noticed the kindness in the eyes of the people waiting in line who were also obviously touched by this beautiful woman’s story.

There are several morals to this story.

  • Take time to be kind. You never know how much you might be the one who is blessed from it. Everyone has a story, a beautiful treasure hidden inside. Take time to find it.
  • Always be patient while waiting in line, you never know when you just might be a witness to one of these moments. You could be the one who needed to hear the message.
  • Along with your smoke detector, always have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. Tell everyone you know. It’s so important and could save a life.
  • Always tell those you cherish how much you love them.
Grocery shopping is probably one of my least favorite things to do, but I sure would not trade that particular trip. I will forever be touched by this woman. There was magic in that moment. I’m not sure who needed it or for whom it was meant, but there was magic in it. Take time to be kind to someone and have a blessed day!

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do


Since I created the Be a Leading Lady website and facebook page, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful, leading ladies. I’ve noticed some going through tough times. And I just want to say to you that this does not in any way, shape, or form diminish who you are as a leading lady. We all go through these times. I’ve been through them and am currently in a very difficult situation. We all go through these times.

What matters most is how we choose to go through it.

Sometimes we are overwhelmed with the problems in our lives. It may not feel like it will ever be different. It may be more than we even know how to handle at this present moment, but we will. We will figure it out.

Start where you are. If you need to write a sticky note and keep it in front of you, just reminding you to breathe, do it. I’ve done that. It helped. We can quickly begin to spiral when we focus on our problems or a difficult situation.

Another good reminder to write for yourself is to take one day at a time. We can easily start to feel overwhelmed by a future that feels over or out of control. This one moment is all you have to deal with this very second.

Remember, sometimes we just have to start where we are. The fog will begin to clear, and you will see the next step.

This is just one chapter in our life story. This is just simply where we start writing a new chapter. – Topaz

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. -Nido Qubein

And the most important thing to remember…

God’s got this.

Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay. The same God who parted the red sea, turned water into wine, and who walked on the water…He’s got this.

What would you tell your younger self?


I read  What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins and found myself reflecting on the question: What would I tell my younger self? It is definitely an interesting read, and oh, if we could only go back and give our  younger selves advice.  Many of us have learned a lot of things the hard way. We just do not have enough good leading lady role models telling the younger girls/women what they need to know.  Think of the life of regrets that we could save younger girls and women.  Some things cannot be undone.

Some things can affect our lives for a very long time, if not forever.

Here is my list of what I would tell my younger self.  I will probably come back from time to time and update it, but it’s a start.

  • Trust your instincts.
  • If you walk away from a relationship, and you are not really sad at all, that is a sign. Don’t second guess that.
  • Marry someone you respect.
  • Don’t decide to marry someone until you know how the two of you resolve conflict together. Is it give and take? Is it respectful?
  • Once you marry someone, whether they meet the above requirements or not, treat them like you would like your child’s spouse to treat your child. Chances are a daughter will marry someone like her father, and a son will marry someone like his mother.
  • Don’t ever let someone else talk you into marrying someone you don’t want to marry. Trust your instincts.
  • Likewise, never try to talk someone into a marriage they do not want. Let them trust their own instincts. They will be the one who has to live with it.
  • Do something creative on a regular basis.  It will make you a better person.
  • Practice daily the art of being grateful. It changes your perspective.
  • Make good friends and stay in touch with them (do life together on some level even if it is limited during various seasons but always be a constant in each other’s lives)
  • Take lots of pictures and print them.
  • Journal – write everything down, your thoughts, your dreams, everything about your experiences, being pregnant and your children growing up.

When you think about it, twenty years from now, we will be looking back at the very place we are now and thinking that we wish we could go back and give our present self advice.  Oh, the difference time, experience, and a little objectiveness can make.

I think twenty years from now, I would be telling my present self this:

Don’t waste today worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. The greatest tragedy of all is to waste today. -Simply Topaz

What would you tell your younger self?

Be Careful with Your Heart


I applaud the leading ladies making changes in their lives, whether it be at midlife or any age. There are many times in our life when we come to crossroads. It might be when we approach middle age, after a divorce, death, or other life changing event, but it is a significant point in our life that is an opportunity, an opportunity to change our lives and to write a new and even better ending to our story.

So many people buy into the philosophy of, “Well, this is just how I am,” and they don’t think they should change. Oh, that we should all be born so perfect. Rarely is that the case, though, no matter how much someone wishes to believe it. In fact, usually the ones making that statement need to change the most.

“Midlife is our second chance. If you want to spend the years you have left simply reenacting the dramas of your past, you can. The same script will indeed be coming around again for your review. It always does. But if you choose, you can tale the script and give it an awesome rewrite, totally get on top of your material, and take a bow at the end that blows everyone away.” -Marianne Williamson

Many times we come to crossroads at this stage of our life: Do we see middle age as the beginning of the end and live in the past (past mistakes, past issues, etc.) and just wallow in the misery of it all, or do we see it as an opportunity, an opportunity for change, and an opportunity to write a new chapter in our story that we can begin much wiser and more experienced?

This reminds me of a story that I want to share with you. It was an important lesson that I learned approximately 15 years ago. My sons and I volunteered at a nursing home for years, and the very first day I learned one of the most important lessons of my life. As I observed the different residents and their personalities (one of the hazards of being a continuous people watcher), I noticed some who were gentle and kind with a quiet joy, and I noticed some who were very difficult who seemed to be angry and just unhappy in general. Whatever attitude these people had chosen years ago, stuck. And stuck hard.

I thought of myself and the other people in my life and realized how important the attitude that we choose today is because it could be the one that we must live with for the rest of our lives. Remember when you would make a face as a child and a parent would say to stop it or your face would freeze like that? Well, this is what happens with our heart. Be careful with your heart and who you choose to be, or it will freeze like that. As leading ladies, we need to be ever so mindful of this. Be careful with your heart because the attitude that you choose today could be the one that you are stuck with for the rest of your life.

Be careful with your heart and who you choose to be, because it has a tendency to freeze like that. -Topaz

No matter what has brought you to the crossroads of life – a life changing event, an article or quote that you read, or an observation that you made – take this opportunity to honestly evaluate your life, your attitude, and your heart. Then change what needs to be changed to edit your story for the best possible ending. What leading lady wouldn’t want that for her life? And remember, even at intermission, the best is still yet to come. ~Topaz

Have you found yourself giving your life a rewrite?

Steps to Confidence and Growth – Your Future Awaits


Did you ever think that maybe the person that we want to be is the person that we are meant to be? Maybe the desire is our true self pulling us where we need to be. Go ahead and take the first step and just start owning it. If you want to be confident, then act confident. If you want to be adventurous, then go on an adventure. If you want to be brave, then do something that scares you. Go after the life you want. It just might be the life that you were destined to have.

We often think we must feel or be something first before we do it, but rarely does anything work like that. Many times we think someone is confident, adventerous, or brave but come to find out, they feel just like the rest of us. The only difference is they do it anyway. And that is how we learn these things. Once we have read enough, watch enough people do it, it will all come down to us practicing it. Sometimes we must do it before we feel like it.

Think about how we learn or do anything. Do people usually feel that they can swim before they learn how and practice it? No. They feel it after they have spent many hours learning it and then many more hours practicing it. The same goes for playing an instrument. We never feel like we can do it before we learn and practice. It’s after those many hours that we then FEEL it. Let’s suppose for one moment that this could apply to confidence. I don’t know anyone who wants to lack confidence but many of us do at different points in our lives. So what if we take this principle and use it for confidence. We will only feel it by practicing it. Actors and actresses do this all the time. When we are watching a movie we believe that the actors are feeling everything they are acting, but for all practical purposes, they are acting. The interesting thing about this is the more we practice something the more we feel it, and the more people respond to us as such, which then in turn makes us feel it even more.

Take, for instance, someone who wants to be more adventurous. But they are not in the habit of being adventurous. If this person started going on more adventures, they are going to start to feel excited, brave, and adventurous. And you know what? People are going to start looking at their lives and treating them like they are adventurous.

The main thing we have to do is just to decide what we want. More than likely, if it is something that we really want, it is who we are meant to be. Many people feel that we are naturally who we we are, but I do not believe this. I believe that because of many various factors that some of us rarely live up or reach our full potential. The reason I say this is many times who we are naturally is not who we really are. It’s who we are because of what we have gone through. It could even be an old wound that has stunted your growth. But just because this is who you are today, it does not mean it is who you were meant to be or who you will be tomorrow.

Putting it into practice:

In your journal, describe the person you want to be. What type of traits does she have? Place these traits on a chart or in columns. List under each trait behaviors that a person with that trait would exhibit. Choose from this list each day or each week. Keep it by your bed and add or change it as you grow. The most important thing is to remember that in order to change, you must change what you are doing. Read more on how to be confident and take a 30 day challenge by The Art of a Beautiful Life.

Find a time and place of solitude. Look into the distance, and into the future. Visualize the tomorrow you are going to build – and begin to build that tomorrow, today. -Jonathan Lockwood Huie

I Am Making a Memory


I had the most wonderful dream. I dreamed that my mom and I took a camper and set out for a few days, just the two of us. I knew when we got there that this was going to be a special time for us. It was just the two of us, everything else left behind. I just sat for a moment and soaked it all in. So in my dream, I wrote a status update on facebook…yes, I apparently post status updates even in my dreams, which is funny because I do so little of that in real life. But this is what I posted on facebook in my dream.

I am making a memory.

Wow. It was so powerful. It gave me chills as I wrote it.

Read more on this life-changing dream and realization…. I Am Making a Memory by The Art of a Beautiful Life

The Real Difference Between Thinking and Believing


We all have dreams, a life we want to live, a job we want to do, a mark we want to leave, but what separates those of us who only dream from those of us whose dreams come true?

Is it money? Is it education? Is it the right connections? Could be. It could be some of all of those, but that doesn’t explain the people who live their dreams and accomplish great things without any of those. It must be something else.

One thing most people have in common whose dreams come true is that they believed it, sacrificed for it, and made their daily choices as if it were possible.

If we truly believe, we make different choices. If we’re not believing, we really aren’t actively moving toward our dream at all. We’re just thinking positively about it and wishing for it. One is active and doing, and the other isn’t because more than likely we’re not truly believing it is possible. We’re accepting the defeat that keeps us from moving forward and making the daily decisions that propels us in the direction of our dreams.

What leading lady wants to live a life of defeat? That is most certainly not the dream. Be brave. You can do this.

I believe in the power of writing things down. Sit down and write your dream. What do you need to do to be moving in that direction? Make your decisions for the day like you believe your dreams are possible. If you believed your dreams were completely possible, what would you be doing differently today to move toward them? That is what you need to be doing. That is what will make dreams come true.

The Mirror Has Two Faces


Who is this sassy, fun thing?

When I saw this picture for the first time in many years, I held it and studied it as if seeing it for the first time. I could not believe it was me. I felt much like Barbara Streisand’s character in the movie, The Mirror Has Two Faces, when she saw a picture she had never seen of herself when she was a little girl. I thought, “This is me? I was cute, fun, happy, loved and confident?”

As I looked at this picture, I couldn’t believe this was me.  You see, like Barbara Streisand’s character, I had lost my way, too.  I had forgotten who I was.  It seemed everything I had been doing in my life for so many years was part of a journey to take me right back here – to being who I always was, this fun, happy, loved and confident person, much like what happened with Barbara Streisand’s character.

Quote from The Mirror Has Two Faces:
Mother:  Do you know what I thought when you were a baby?  That you looked just like your dad, and that Claire looked like me.
Rose:  (looking at an old picture of little girl) What’s that? She was so pretty, even then. Look at those eyes. Those lips.
Mother:  That’s not Claire, that’s you.
Rose:  Me? I never saw this picture.
Mother: I found it when I was cleaning up.
Rose:  This was me?  I was pretty?
Mother:  Your father adored you. But you know that.  He never felt that way about Claire. Only you.  I don’t think he ever held a baby until you came.  He never wanted to let you go.
Rose:  I’m glad you found this.
Mother:  So am I.
Rose:  She was very pretty.
Mother:  You were very pretty. Remember that.

So, as I look at this picture of this fun, happy, loved and confident little girl, I am telling myself, “That’s me. Remember that. That’s the real me. The me before the ugliness of the world. The me before I lost my way. If ever I need to find myself, I need not look any further than this picture.”

We all need one of these pictures. It does not matter the age you are in the picture. Just find at least one picture of yourself where you shine, not just shine on the outside, but shine on the inside, too – you at the top of your game, confident and happy. Put these pictures where you can see them every day. And, remember, you do not have to find yourself. You just have to remember who you are.

P.S. Please note the pose. This is why I cannot wear dresses to this day.

Do you have a picture of you shining? 

(originally written July 31, 2009)

Finding Your Joy


5 Steps to a Joy Filled Life

1. Start with a gratitude journal. Write in your journal every day. Choose one to three things that you are grateful for, things that bring you joy. They don’t have to be big things. I had wanted to start a gratitude journal for years. And probably did many times, but I doubt it got farther than that…just having the journal. I thought I needed major things to write down every day and was overwhelmed at the sheer pressure of it all. If today, you are happy for straws because you can drink without messing up your lipstick too badly, then be thankful for that. If you are thankful for cappuccinos this particular day at this particular moment, then be thankful for those. There are so many little things that we take for granted. Joy begins with appreciating the little things, too.

2. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy and peace. I love art. I love photographs. I love warm colors. I love music. I love candles. I love warm lighting. I love books. Surround yourself with things that move you. This is a great habit for two reasons. It feels really good, plus it helps you to know what doesn’t mean so much to you. Find out what is important and simplify your life. It makes decluttering a lot easier.

3.  Have a vision. For the same reason that exercise number two is good, so is this one. It is simply taking #2 to the next level. What moves you and inspires you for your life, not just your home. Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years, your ideal life? It can be a place or even a lifestyle or the type of person you want to be. Think about it in detail and write it all out and then create a vision board.  Look through a magazine and find images that move you. Tear those out and use them. Like exercise #2, it will not only help us know what we want, it will help us know what to eliminate.

4. Stop, think, and refocus. When you feel a situation stealing your joy, you and only you have the power to turn that around, but you must have a battle plan, so here it is: Stop, think, and refocus. Joy will always come from within, but you have to do things differently, though, if you want change. So the first step is to stop what you are doing. You must catch yourself and stop yourself from doing what you have always done. The next step is to think. Think to yourself, “Am I going to let this steal my joy?” That’s right…you have the power. At this point you are at a crossroad, and you are consciously present in the moment of choice. This is a good place. This is a place where change can happen. Make good choices. And lastly, refocus. Is there any good at all that you can see in this situation. Even something small. In a big picture, there are many small pictures. Don’t be committed to being right. Be open to seeing situations from different perspectives. Your joy depends on it. Find something good on which you can refocus your thinking and energy. You may still not be happy about the situation, but it may no longer have the power to still your joy.

5. Feel. Feel the joy. Feel the gratitude. Just as anger can be a powerful and palpable emotion, so can joy. Feel it. Let yourself go and be happy. Immerse yourself in it no matter what your situation. When you are grateful for something, feel that completely. Take a few minutes and feel that joy. When you are imagining the life you want, feel what it would feel like to have that, to be that. Feel it. This is where we begin to make it a reality in our lives.


Leading ladies have joy in their lives. I mean how can they not, they’re leading ladies. Wouldn’t you be happy if you were a leading lady? Of course! Well, my friend, you are!  You are a strong, beautiful, brave woman, so smile away!

Many people think we need a reason for joy. That doesn’t hurt, and many times we have more reasons that we realize. We are just not focused on them. Other times, our lives can be quite the train wreck. Either way it doesn’t matter. You can still choose joy. Beautiful, heart palpitating joy! We don’t realize how much of our power we give away when we make bad choices and take a victim mentality. Leading ladies choose to be survivors, thrivers but never victims.

I love to be happy. I love how it feels. I love how it looks on me. I love how other people look at me when my joy is just spontaneously spilling over!

I saw Goldie Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, on the Oprah Show a couple of years ago and could not get something she said out of my head. It became one of my goals to find out more.

Dancing isn’t the only passion Goldie passed along to her daughter. Kate says her mother also taught her to live joyfully. “That’s a big word in our family. My mom dedicates her life to understanding what that is,” she says. “To understand your happiness or what makes you happy in your life is something that we grew up around.”

Every time I see Goldie Hawn or her daughter, Kate Hudson, they have a smile on their faces. What a great thing to pass on to your child. Joy.

“When Kate Hudson was asked about her relationship with Alex Rodriguez, she was hush but stated that she was happy and full of joy….with a smile on her face.”

You know what? I believe she really is. You can practically feel it radiate from both Kate and her mom. They make me happy just to look at the expression of joy on their faces. I hope that others can see that on me, too. It wasn’t always that way, though.

Not that long ago I realized I was missing that from my life. I came to realize that I was the unhappiest, happy person that I knew. That is hard to wrap your head around. And I think it is even harder to explain. Imagine a really happy person trapped in a dark place. A place with a dark cloud. A place where it just makes you sad. It caused me to make some changes in my life or more accurately inside myself. I wanted to have joy in my life.

The most important lesson that I learned is that joy does not come externally. It is internal.

Life is not a perfect. Things will happen. Bad things happen, but it is how we view these that determine our joy level. We can give all of our attention and focus to the bad, and joy will slowly just get up and walk right out of the room. Or you can choose to acknowledge a situation, but perhaps look at it from a different point of view, essentially create a different story.  There is always more than one side to a story or one perspective.  In your mind, stand up and walk around the situation.  Seeing it in a different light can sometimes make all the difference.  When we put all of our focus on a the bad things and get wrapped up in them, then we are not seeing the good, we are not walking in peace, joy or love. It is all negative energy.  And it’s a cycle, a bad cycle. Think about it. Have you ever walked into a room all happy and in a great mood and encountered a really big grump? You can instantly feel it. Chances are that you can only take so much of that before you are grumpy, too, at least with that person. Whatever you are will attract more of the same. People will respond to you accordingly. And on and on it goes. Now, why is it that the grumpy people tend to influence the joyful people more, I have no idea. Maybe it depends on how well you have mastered making your joy an internal thing versus an external thing. Something to think about.

So how do we get that? By practicing joy.

Yep. When you are learning something new, you have to practice it. It is the same with joy. I’m not a joy expert like Goldie Hawn or her daughter,  Kate Hudson.  They have had years to practice being joyful, but I am more joyful than I was two years ago.  I found that by having a system in place, a joy plan, I made way more progress than just wanting to be more joyful.  Wanting it was a start, and it gave me the motivation to find out more and make a plan.  I do these regularly.  Some of these I do every day, sometimes twice a day.  I’ve always heard it said that you it takes 21 days to make something a habit.  That is why doing things here and there are not nearly as helpful.  It’s the daily doing of something that makes it a new habit, a new way of thinking.

Remember, this isn’t about changing the external as much as it is the internal. Nothing in my life has gotten better, except me. Choose joy. You will be so glad you did!

Finding Your Voice


Have you found yourself hearing the voice of others in your head? Have you found that you are editing who you are to make those voices happy or at least not to anger them so they won’t say more mean things to you? Are those voices louder than your own?

If so, you are not alone. There are countless others in therapy trying to silence these voices. Oh, what damage is done by people speaking their mind who are either mean-spirited or do not have a clue what they are doing, sometimes both.

The voices in my head tell me to be quiet and that whatever I say will be wrong. I tend to edit what I would say out of fear. Fear that the people I am talking to will agree with the voices. But now I find myself saying to hell with the voices (and the superficial editing that leaves me void and empty of all healthy and sincere emotion), and I am following my own voice, a voice that loves and appreciates art and beauty, and cares so very deeply, a voice that encourages and hugs and says I love you. I now go inside myself and speak my true heart, a heart that cares so much.

When I hear the voices in my head but choose to let the voice in my heart overrule, I touch people in ways that I never would have otherwise. While I do not always know what to say, I just say what I feel totally and completely from my heart. And I feel like for the first time in my life I am touching people. It’s like our hearts connect for that brief moment. Because what I am saying is real. People really can see your true heart when you let it show. And if they are of the very small part of the population can’t see a person’s true heart, then they are either not worth it anyway, or sadly they are probably listening to the voices in their head, but don’t let them silence the beautiful and caring you that is inside. Don’t let them silence who you are.

Why, oh why, have I let my voice be silenced over the years?

You will always know when you are speaking from your true heart. In that brief second when all is quiet and you are trusting your instinct only, the real you will flow out. When this happens, you are never worrying what others will think or about what you say. You are only speaking a sincere and caring truth that is utterly and completely real and transparent. It’s void of all selfishness and touches hearts in the deepest and most sincere way that you could ever imagine. Many times people are thinking about themselves and wanting to say the right thing, and that shows. Even if our conscious minds do not notice, our subconscious minds do. While it’s all well meaning, it’s not focused on the other person near as much as it is them. We have to let go of wanting to be perfect, wanting and needing to be a hero and be real. Really real.

Let people know you care. From your heart. For real. One of the many things I learned in real estate was that people do not care what you know until they know that you care. If they have said or done something that moves you, speak from your heart and tell them.

If someone is hurting, empathize, but don’t pretend to put yourself in shoes you’ve never worn. Just be honest even if it is saying I care so much that I don’t know what to say. Sometimes a good hug will even say what words cannot say. We want to make it better for them. That’s all they want, too. While you may never know what they are thinking and feeling, you can both agree that you want it to be better for them. And believe with them that it will.

At this point, you may be wondering how do you silence the voices that have lived inside your head for so long? These voices have become such a part of our lives that you may not even realize they are not your own voice anymore. And just so we are clear, I’m not talking about actual voices. I’m talking about the voices that represent your hurt and rejection. It might be the way someone has treated you over and over in your life, so much so that you expect it from everyone else. So how do we silence those voices? Baby steps. For that one moment, think what you would say if there were no other voices in your head and you were fully present in that moment. Say that. The more we do this, the more we begin to find our true, authentic selves.

Find your voice, live out loud. The world is out there just waiting on the real you to show up!

What have you found that helps to silence the old messages in your head?

Get a Life


If you want to attract amazing and interesting people into your life, then you need to be one. Ever notice how we seem to be attracted to people who always have something fun or interesting going on? We tend to think, “Oh, wow! How cool are they! They have such a fun life!” They have that life because of choices they make. We can all have that life, but it takes getting off the couch to have it. It may even require going out of your comfort zone. It will definitely require time. It will take making different choices.

I have a good friend who started working out, doing yoga and hiking. She was never taking this time for herself before and gave everything to her family. Every time we see her on facebook now, she is doing something fun and exciting and has so many people posting wanting to either join her, or asking how she lost weight. Uhm, did they not catch the part about working out, doing yoga, and hiking? She told me that there are a lot of people who want to join her, but many of them don’t. They want her life. They just don’t want to do all that it requires. But wow, how exciting is hers, huh? It is, and she’s loving it!

We have two choices in life. Either we get to be the people out there living life, or we can be the ones at home watching everyone else live their life. Some people think that they could never be the person with the fun and exciting life. But, see that is the thing, so many people might say they are just not that kind of person, but we all are on some level. Some of us are really happy with just a little bit of fun and excitement. Some of us need a lot more. But we all have some of that in us. It’s all about the daily choices we make. That is really the only difference between someone who is a leading lady and someone who is not. These are not choices that are only for certain personality types. Herein, lies the cool part, the more we make those choices, the more we find ourselves evolving into someone we did not even know was in there, but she is. She’s been there all along.

If we are not leading an exciting life, we have no one to blame but ourselves and the choices we make. It’s like when someone complains that they are bored. They are not bored. They are boring.

The possibilities are endless.

What have you always wanted to do? And what great things are you doing in your life?

Be the Kind of Woman…


lead-ing la-dy n. – A woman who takes care of herself, lives life to its fullest, goes after her dreams, smiles, laughs, loves herself, loves others, and is happy. She lives out loud, not afraid to be her true, authentic self.

Be the kind of woman that makes other women want to be you. -Topaz
We all want to be that woman. We look at her and admire her. She embraces life. She is so thankful for everything. She knows how to be silly and have fun, and she knows who she is and what she likes. She creates the live she wants to live. She takes every day and spends it completely.

“You know, I’ve really made something of myself. I have a career. People actually want to be me.”  -Sweet Home Alabama

Who doesn’t want to be someone who others want to be? It means we are living our life well.

I have realized a valuable secret to having the life you want and being the leading lady that you want to be.

People who know how to live and find joy in life, no matter what the circumstances, are total people magnets. People want to laugh. They want to be inspired. And they want to soar with the eagles. Leading ladies who practice laughter and joy and have a great attitude will always be the women who others want to be around and the women who they want to be like.

The opposite of this is someone who does nothing but unload their problems on other people and only see the worst in every situation. They not only bring themselves down but everyone around them.

I love this story that a friend shared with me. It illustrated it perfectly.

Two buddies are walking home together. As they get to the fork where they part ways, the one turns to the other and says “Man, life sure stinks!”  His pal grins and says “I think life is beautiful.” From a nearby park bench an old bum overhears them. With a shaky voice from years of experiences he looks up at them, “You’re both right,” he say’s as he turns to the 2nd fellow, “but I’d rather walk with you.”

Are you the leading lady who people would rather walk with?

This is something that most people in most situations have complete control over. It’s just a matter of deciding who you want to be and making positive, daily choices to make it happen. It’s a choice.

So next time, when you’re out with your friends, choose to discuss happy things, amazing things, or even things with chicken wings (does anyone else hear the Oscar Mayer song right now?), but whatever you do, don’t complain about what’s going on in your life. Everyone has problems. And there is a time for sharing, but we are taking this time to learn some new and better habits.

Think about the kind of person you are drawn to. Most of us are drawn to happy, fun, outgoing, interesting people with lives. They’re not waiting for someone to complete them. They are out there living life. And they are surely not telling everyone all of their woes and drama, unless of course they have made a funny story out of it. They are amazing people who we are drawn to, want to be around, and want to be more like.

You Are Creating Your Future

You are creating your future right now. Today.

I am not sure what the time frame for how long we can struggle with something…thinking on it, running it over and over in our minds when something reminds us of it, or maybe it is a negative attitude we have adopted, but I do know that if we are not careful and we stay on that path, it will change us.

What begins as a single thought today could be a way of life in 10 years.

You Are Creating Your FutureWhen my sons were young, I thought it was important that they learned to be givers, so we volunteered at a nursing home. On the very first day, we sat in on game time, and what I learned that day has stayed with me the rest of my life. Granted, learning to be a good student of it every day is a little more difficult, but it is always there, in the back of my mind, urging me toward a better path. As I watched the residents, I was struck at how, while they were all in the same place and dealing with similar problems, they varied tremendously in how they responded to their life. And I realize one can argue that people are just different. Yes, but we still have choices that we can make along the way. One might also argue that our environment molds us. Yes, but we still have choices. One resident in particular was the absolute sweetest woman. She always had a smile on her face and a gentle response with kindness in her voice. Another resident was outwardly angry. She was sharp-tongued and was not quiet about it. In one life changing moment, I saw my future. It had two paths. But I must choose this day. If I wanted to grow up to be the amazing older woman that I hoped to be one day, I must start living like her today. Because just as when our mothers used to tell us to stop making a face or it would freeze like that, we must be just as careful with our heart, lest it freeze like that.

I was going through a very situation at the time, but I realized, no matter what I was going through, I needed to guard my heart above all and to not become my circumstances. If I did not, my heart would freeze like that. And that would be my future. But I get to decide that today. Today. Today is the day.

The person I am today will be the person I am tomorrow and for the rest of my life if I do not make an intentional choice to change.

Be careful with the thoughts you have today. You are creating your future.

It is time today to choose the person you want to be today, and the person you wish to be when you grow old. Do you want to be that amazing person that your great-great-grandchildren will be talking about how amazing you were…how kind you were….how much you loved Jesus and the faith you had, how much you went after dreams at every age…how much you were fully alive and amazing? How much you are the person they want to grow up to be one day? We create this person, whoever she turns out to be, by our daily habits and thoughts, the thoughts and habits that we have today. Once we set a pattern in life, our heart begins to freeze like that.

We do not become those wonderful things in the future if we are not intentional about it today.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Psalm 4:23 (NLT)

I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become—as a woman thinks, so she is. –Oprah

Be careful lest your heart freeze like that.

What kind of person do you want to be? Are you being her today? Will your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren want to be like you one day?

Never Underestimate the Power of Taking Action


The best way to feel better when you are feeling down is to stay productive. Take action that gets you closer to the life you want to live. -Simply Topaz

Part of the reason we tend to feel lethargic and defeated is that deep inside we know that we are not doing what it takes to move forward/toward and into the life we were created to live…the hopes and dreams that call out to you in your sleep. Your compass. When I am taking action, I begin to feel different.

It is as if I am sending a message to myself that I am moving forward and through this all the way to the other side. That mountain is mine.

Stay productive. It makes you feel so much better. Even if you have to force yourself a little because you do not feel like it, just do it.

Even on the days you do not feel like it, take steps forward. If a baby step is all that you can do, then do that. Start where you are but do not plan on staying there.

Set goals for yourself. Write them down. Write a plan of action. What are you going to do to get yourself there? Then do that. 30 day challenges are a great way to challenge yourself to push forward. Or if you are not up to 30 days, start with a 1 day challenge or 7 day challenge. Once you realize that you can do it, you will be ready to keep doing it and maybe even push yourself a little more. Here are some free 30 Day Challenge and Goal Tracking Worksheets to get you started.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much it empowers you to accomplish something that you did not think you could do. -Simply Topaz

What action can you take today that will help to propel you into the future you want?

Never Explain Yourself…

Never explain yourself to those who simply do not matter.

-Simply Topaz

never explain yourself

Sometimes while we are in the middle of creating a beautiful life, we find ourselves in the middle of something ugly with someone. Most of the time this is someone who is more of a thorn in our side or someone for whom we have little respect or they for us, than a person seeking to be in a healthy relationship. Or maybe to some degree they even matter, but you know you are showing up to a ridiculous conversation due to the immaturity, or perhaps even craziness, of the person.

And sometimes, these people are really doing the best they know how to do. But they are stuck in healthy living patterns and are still going to bring you down if you show up.

This is not to say never explain yourself, but I am talking about those certain people who are going to believe and think what they want to believe. They are not interested in the relationship.

Do not feel the need to explain yourself to those people. It weakens who you are. And rarely do they listen anyway. Keep your power and walk away. In some situations, less is best. Life is too short to live it on someone’s terms when they do not even matter to you and only seek to steal your joy.  This is your one and only life.  Live this one glorious life on your terms and do not let others drag you into arguments where you do not need to be. Do not meet them where they are. Choose your own path.  The moment you begin to explain or defend yourself to someone who does not matter, you have appeared, in their eyes, to need their approval.

Drama can only happen if you show up. Yes, it will hurt you, but do not show up to the party, and do not let it dictate who you are.

Walk in love and wisdom, hand in hand. We do not need to show up to every party where we are invited.

Sometimes the right thing, the strong thing, the confident thing is to walk away. The person with the last word is not always the winner. Sometimes the real winner is the person who doesn’t show up to a ridiculous conversation.

Instead of spending valuable mental energy in meaningless and ugly conversations, do something positive with your time and energy. Focus forward. Give your time and resources. Help those who you can genuinely help. Create something beautiful, something important. Grow into the person you were created to be. That, my friend, is time well spent.

How are you dealing with the negative people in your life?

10 Ways to Make a Memorable Holiday

Make a Memorable HolidayWhether your tribe is big or small, there are steps we can take to make it special and memorable. it is important to plan a memorable holiday on purpose.

Sometimes it’s about making conditions right for the magic to happen.

Make the holidays what everyone looks forward to and talks about all year and what bonds everyone together. Even the planning can be fun and a great way to bond.

Our last holiday was beautifully memorable. We mixed the old and the new and made some fun memories.  I took this time while it was all fresh in my mind and wrote about my favorite part of the holiday, and I also wrote about what I would do differently on my personal blog, Where Art Meets Soul (creating a beautiful life}.

Here are some tips that I jotted down after I wrote about our holiday for my personal blog.

10 Ways to Make a Memorable Holiday

  1. Traditions – Traditions give us those special things to look forward to and make it feel familiar.  Traditions can be about all of the things in this list. It can be a traditional game of flag football, the special dishes we prepare, the aromas. And never underestimate the power of traditions to unite and make the holidays extra special.
  2. Pictures – Pictures are not only fun and important to us, but they become our memories. So many of our memories are attached to times and events where we have pictures. It keeps it fresh when we see it from time to time.  Ask a few people to be in charge of being sure to get it all captured. Setup an account on Google+, facebook, smugmug, zenfolio, or whatever account you prefer and upload for everyone to get a copy of the pictures they want. And if you really want to have some fun, setup an area for a photobooth. Oh, the fun you will have.
  3. Games – Games are just one of those things that setup the perfect environment for hilarious things to happen. If it is an ongoing game, it even gives everyone something to look forward to each year.
  4. Aromas – Have you ever noticed the way a scent can take you back in time? Whether it is a natural scent like cinnamon or apple, or a perfume/cologne, or food, it can transport us through time. I was cooking collards one day, not something that I do very often, and my son walked into the kitchen, smiled and said, “It smells like Granny’s house.” It took him back and brought up really special memories.
  5. Food – It seems like everyone has a special dish that people just love. Do those.
  6. Music – A little music in the background sets a tone, a beautiful tone. You will be surprised many years later when you hear a certain song, and it reminds you of a special family holiday.
  7. Drinks – It could be hot apple cider in the winter, a special flavored/spiced coffee, or a healthy fruit concoction. I still remember the first time I had hot, apple cider. The out of the ordinary drinks are just a little something to make the day/evening special.
  8. Reminisce – It’s a wonderful time to tell those old stories and look at those old pictures.
  9. Make a notebook or journal – Keep all of the little details and notes in it so that it doesn’t have to be planned from scratch each time.
  10. Take time to breathe. I know it is hard when we are so busy putting an event together, but delegate, plan ahead, and give yourself time to enjoy it all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a village. Even the planning can be fun if you get a group of you planning it. How fun would some nights out at Starbucks be while you laugh and plan your memorable holidays?

Mix the old with the new to keep it comforting and familiar while throwing in a little fresh and new.

With the holidays upon us, what are you doing to make your holiday family time memorable?