Thursday, September 24, 2015

Marathon Training - It's Still Happening

So the funny thing about all of this running is that I spend so much time thinking about blog posts and things I'd love to share. However, as y'all have picked up on...this has been the longest blogging break I think I've ever taken. These days I do actually do a lot of blogging, just not here. This summer was a big one, bigger than anticipated and there's quite a bit of catch up I have to do but have decided to start here.

So many running pics to catch up on to, lots of gorgeous sunrises!
Marathon training has started to feel like planning a wedding all over again. "How's marathon training going?" is starting to come as frequently from everyone in my life just as "How's the wedding planning going?" once infiltrated my life. I so appreciate all of the support, but just as with wedding planning I don't feel like I'm where I should be with marathon training and it certainly makes me anxious. It also lights a fire under my butt to keep moving so that's a good thing.

This past week I finally got into double digits and while I made it through I didn't feel as strong as I wish I did at this point. So far the farthest I've run in life is 13.1 for my half-marathon, and when I trained for that race 10 miles was the farthest that I got. That 10 mile run was 15 minutes faster than what I did this past weekend, but I just have to remember that it's the same distance.

Ice baths for the win
At this point I think I'm going to get to 15 miles before the actual race and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. That is 11.2 miles less than a marathon. That's a lot. An extra 3.1 on top of the 10 miles I had gotten to with half-marathon training felt so much longer than I had anticipated so I can only imagine how another 11.2 miles will be.

I've been doing a lot of Googling of "how to train a marathon without really training"and "how many miles do you really need to run before a marathon". I know that I can do this, but I definitely know that it's going to be tough. Like, really tough.

Love/hate relationship with this guy right here #hurtsogood
Obviously my mind has now shifted to prepping the ultimate playlist for that day because something is going to have to keep me going. 5.5 hours is a long playlist to make so comment with some upbeat or fun throwback songs you think I should include.

More updates to come on life in general and the rest of training - I've missed y'all!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Final [for now] Move

We have officially moved into our house. Ours. Surreal.

And a definite after-move Monday it is. Seems like the only clothes I brought to the house were pajamas, socks, bathing suits, and then just a few things from the far back of my closet. One of which I had to wear today. Fluffy hair since my straightener is still at the old house and a necklace found in my gym bag that luckily matched the one dress I had to wear.

I didn't think we'd never buy a house, but I really didn't think we'd be able to do it this soon. Does this mean I'm an adult? Shockingly this entire process was so much easier and quicker than I thought, but I don't want to jinx myself for the next time it happens. A bit later I have some quick tips to share on prepping for the house hunt.

But we'll still miss this house, it is the place that has really been home in Richmond. Where we've finally felt settled, where we've found great neighbors, where we planned our wedding, and brought our sweet Georgia kitty home. 

This was where I came home after running my first half-marathon, and the neighborhood where a majority of my training runs took place. It's where I actually kinda sorta started to like running hills, just a teensy bit. 

It's where we could walk to the cute old school pharmacy for breakfast and hear Friday night football games in the fall at the high school just down the street. 

first glimpse of the new house
Since I moved out of my parent's house for college in 2005 I have moved 15 times. In a decade. Maybe that's why I'm always so tired?

I moved into my residence hall freshman year, then back to my parent's for the summer. Back into an on campus apartment sophomore year, then to an off campus apartment with my friend Whitney that summer. Then back to campus I went for junior year in the sorority suite, and in May 2008 to my first big girl apartment. After graduation I headed to Raleigh for a month where I moved back in with Whitney and another sorority sister.

The next year could be counted as one continuous move. Left Raleigh to head to Woodstock, VA for the summer before heading off to travel the US for the year in my first job. Then moved back in with my parents for the summer before grad school. Went down to Columbia for school and into the only place I'd ever life by myself (and I urge everyone to do it at least once in life) that was full of pink and green girly goodness.

That summer I moved most of my belongings into storage and headed out to Texas for an internship and then back to Columbia where I moved into a friend's apartment for two weeks before I could then move into my new place. After grad school we made the move to Richmond, where we are now, and into an apartment together before finding a rental house where we've been for the past two years. The only place I've consistently lived in since 2005 for more than 12 months.


Well anyways, we made it yet again with lots of caffeine and so much incredible help from my parents. Without my dad we would have no blinds, bathroom fixtures or curtains. Really need to get him to start teaching Mr. Young...

A house tour to come as we get settled, stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I can't stop drooling over this week's What I'm Loving Wednesday round up. Like, I might seriously just want to live inside of this picture collage once I saw them all together. Lately I have tried to be a bit more picky about what I choose to pin while I'm browsing but just saw too many things I loved this week. I need to do a major overhaul of my boards sometime soon, I just keep creating new ones so that I can actually find things.

But in other news, can you believe that it's June? That means this year is almost halfway over. How is that even humanly possible?

Take a second to forget that it's already June (and that it's only Wednesday) and enjoy these fun finds!

1 // This incredible colorful bouquet by The Dainty Lion found on Wedding Chicks
How do you get all of those colors in there together so perfectly? Why can't I get married again? It it's perfectly loose but put together all the same time, and look at those fun succulents peeking out! My love for color just cannot be contained.

2 // This natural lemon counter cleaner from Style Within Reach.
First, I hate spending tons of money on cleaning products and always think about how I'm spraying chemicals all over surfaces that I'm preparing food. Why even ever bother to buy natural or organic foods if you have a kitchen dripping in chemicals? Haven't tried this yet but looking forward to making a batch when we move into the new house. Will report back.

3 // This DIY Gold Foil Brush Stroke Pillow from Design Love Fest.
Because I love pinning DIY projects and crafts that I'll never actually make but look really cool...

4 // This Gold Foil Calligraphy Invitation Suite by Margot Madison on Etsy.
Round two of why can't I get married again? My eye for design was immediately caught on this invitation suite and I just can't get enough. I love how it's so classic yet with fun modern twists and that perfectly loopy style of calligraphy. Be still my heart.

5 // This loosely travel themed nursery by Taylor Sterling on Glitter Guide.
No, there is no bun in the oven and won't be anytime soon. But it doesn't mean that I can't pin this on my "To File Away for Later" board. I love the calming and muted palette that has perfect pops of color. This is the second travel themed nursery I've seen and just can't get enough. I hope to someday surround my little ones in a place that grows their hopes and dreams and love the idea so much.


Happy Hump Day y'all, hope this brings a bit of inspiration to your day!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday Motivation

I so need to get back into this Monday habit. So let's start today, ok? With a busy week ahead and our first wedding for Dogwood Brides this weekend, I'm needing some extra inspiration. 

This little quote right here is reminding me to keep dreaming big and to keep pushing through. You can live whatever life you want, but you don't get it by sitting on your bottom watching Mad Men all night. Whoops... It's certainly important to understand the balance of giving yourself time to breathe and staying on top of work, and sometimes the balance weighs much heavier in one direction. 

I've already pushed through the hard part of finding something that is going to make life incredibly interesting and it's going to grow and morph in ways I couldn't have imagined. Life's going to be a little crazy as I continue to pour my energy and soul into DB but I don't think I'd have it any other way.

So what is it that you want to be doing? Do you know, are you still searching? You have to do something active to get there whether that be some individual soul searching or conversations with those who know you best. But please, don't just sit around wishing.

What are you going to do to get movin' on your something interesting this week?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekend Deals Roundup

I do know that Memorial Day Weekend is not a celebration of shopping, that it is a time of remembrance for the brave men and women who have fallen serving our great country.  I fully respect and honor this holiday just as much as I respect our armed forces everyday that risk their lives and spend time away from their families and friends to protect us and our freedom. They are absolutely incredible and I feel so thankful for the sacrifices that they make on behalf of America, and this weekend will have the families and friends of those who have fallen in my thoughts.


Because we're currently buying a house, I've had my eyes on my inbox and around the internet for any big deals going on as we're going to have a bit more space than in our current house. After doing so much searching around on my own I thought I'd share some of the deals I've had my eyes on for you if there's anything in particular that you're in need of or have been looking for.

Since we're not yet in the house I think we're probably going to hold off and wait for July 4th sales, although if you follow me on Twitter you may have seen I did make our first new purchase for the house. We are going to have a screened in porch and I'm so excited for outdoor living and looking forward to building a room around this rug. Score!

In addition to what I sought out and found in my inbox below, check out this awesome list from Business Insider that is an even more complete round up.

West Elm // thisisbig for 25% off everything! (ends Memorial Day)

Tiny Prints // MEMORIAL30 for 30% off sitewide (ends Memorial Day)

Bauble Bar // MEMORIAL 20 for 20% off sitewide, MEMORIAL25 for 25% off when buying 3, and MEMORIAL30 for 30% off when buying 4+!

Macy's // HOORAY for 20% off

Lilly Pulitzer // Splash Into Summer, gifts with purchase. An adorable Starfish Bangle with any purchase and some extra special gifts starting at $200 spend!

Michaels // 520ENTIRE for 20% off your entire purchase, or head to their website for the in store coupon. Stock up on some crafting supplies!

My Publisher // TIME2DESIGN for 50% off album design service

Amazon // FUN20SUN for 20% off

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I have been trolling Pinterest, wayyyy too much lately and falling in love with so many great ideas, recipes, etc. and while it's been ages since I've done a What I'm Loving Wednesday post, I'm bringing it back! Since I've been going so pin crazy lately I'm thinking I'll be switching up WILW to be mostly focused on my favorite pins of the week. I'll try to limit myself, but who ever can limit themselves when it comes to Pinterest?

Our new house (more details coming soon, I totally promise!) only has one bathroom. As much as it pained me it really was perfect besides that fact and there's already some plans to add a half bath. We barely use our two full baths as it is now so whatevs. Anyways, with one bathroom for the morning I'm already scheming about adding a vanity to our bedroom. Right now I get ready in front of a small dresser in our bedroom and it's time for something legit. How awesome is this set up? 

My design ideas for my home office is based off a white and black rug with a lot of pops of bright, bold colors. When I came across this pin I could not stop staring it and added it to my Home Office board immediately! My office chairs are painted just about the same shade of pink as that little pot and I'm totally digging that teal. How cute are those little succulent pots too? 

I actually found this through my all time favorite food blogger/spirit animal Jessica from How Sweet It Is and then immediately pinned it for safe keeping. I mean c'mon, a Rice Krispy Treat crust? How do people come up with these incredible ideas?!

This swoon-worthy engagement featured on Dogwood Brides this week.
Ok, shameless plug I know--but y'all this session by Allison Kuhn Creative makes me weak in the knees! Not only it is absolutely stunning, but it's shot around some of the most incredible places in Richmond. When I think of a "Richmondy" engagement, this is that and more.

This Grilled Buffalo Chicken Caesar Salad from How Sweet It Is.
Everything this girl makes I immediately want to devour. And as awesome as her food it, her blog posts are even better. She cracks me up and makes me incredibly hungry at the same time. Since it's been nice we've been living outside at our grill and I can't wait to get everything together to make this salad soon. And if you haven't yet had grilled romaine, you're in for a treat!

This print from Pretty Chic on Etsy.
Again, with the home office! Loving not only this quote but that rich color. Most of my prints and other wall decor tend to have a mainly white background and I'm in need of some pieces with more color. Little known fact I took French for five years (and couldn't even put together a sentence of it now...) so a fun ode to that as well!

What are y'all digging this week? Share some links to your fave discoveries, pins, blog posts, etc. Would love to see what you're loving!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Welcome to Rocksbox!

You may have seen my sneak peek on Instagram last week about Rocksbox! This is an awesome new service where you can rent designer jewelry to wear as much as you want and when you're ready for something new, simply mail it back in and get more. With Rocksbox you can rent three pieces of jewelry at one time, giving you a few different options to try out. 

Each stylist who puts together your box will use info from a style survey that you take along with taking a look at your wish list. You can go through most of the jewelry they offer and add items to your wish list for them to know exactly what to send you. All three of my first pieces came from my wishlist and I have loved each of them!

I have loved my subscription to Rocksbox so far! First, it came super fast. Super fast y'all! I think I submitted everything to get my first box on a Thursday and it was here the next Tuesday. It comes in the cutest simple packaging that's personalized to you with a note from the stylist who put your box together. The package is small enough that it can fit in your mailbox and comes with a packing slip to conveniently put it back into the same package and pop it in the mail back to Rocksbox when you're ready for some new pieces. Easy as pie!

And today is your lucky day, I have a treat for you to try out Rocksbox! Use the code chasingyoungxoxo when checking out to get one month of Rocksbox for free. Hopefully you'll love it and continue, but if not, it's no strings attached and you get to play around with three pieces of new jewelry in your wardrobe. If you use it, tag me @msannayoung on Instagram so I can see what you picked and how you style it. 

See what I got in my first Rocksbox and two different outfits that I wore the jewelry with. Props to my husband for the photos!

Kaylee Necklace, Perry Street (Rocksbox exclusive brand) | Teardrop Bangle in Fuschia, Margaret Elizabeth | Pave Ball Studs in Gold, Sophie Harper (Rocksbox exclusive)

Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!
Review on Rocksbox, a fabulous service for renting designer jewelry! Get your first month free with code "chasingyoungxoxo"!

First Outfit: Top Target | Skirt J.Crew | Sunglasses Ray Ban | Watch Charming Charlies
Second Outfit: Dress Target | Sunglasses Ray Ban | Watch Charming Charlies

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Five Pieces of Wisdom for College Grads

The end of another academic year always makes me stop and reflect on what I've learned since I graduated from college. Maybe I'll have some more coming your way in May with my upcoming 10 year high school reunion... #OLD, but I digress. I surely wish that someone would have shared more advice with me, and really I just needed someone to tell me me to stop worrying and that everything would truly work itself out.

As someone who talks to college seniors on a daily basis, I stopped to think about the main things I wish I had known when I was in their place. I supervise a group of students at work and after sharing these top five pieces of advice with them, I figured they should be shared more widely.

1. Don't worry too much about the future, but be intentional with your life.
If I could shout one thing from the rooftops on this campus, it would be this first statement. It is so easy to be worried and anxious about the future (I was too at this point in life), but I promise that things really will come together. There is no reason to spend the end of college stressed out about the future. Start thinking about what is next, not what is forever. I promise that more than 50% of "real adults" you know don't even know what their forever plan is.

However, you must be intentional with your life. I'm not telling you go walk around life oblivious to the future. Keep the future swimming around in your head, give thought to the next moves you want to make, take note of your interests and skills, and engage yourself in things that excite you.

2. If you get the chance to do something wild or cool--do it!
The things I would go back and do if I could be 21 again. I did spend my first year out of college living out of a suitcase traveling around the United States, and while I was a bit worried about it at first--I am so glad that I pursued that opportunity. My only regret here is I wish I made as many bold moves. I wish I had pursued an experience to live and work abroad for an extended period of time, or thought about programs like AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. Could I still go live abroad now, yes. But I'm also married, house hunting, have a great stable job that I love, etc. Not so easy to pick it all up and move it overseas!

3. There is life outside of work. Be sure to pursue other opportunities and hobbies. 
I have so many conversations with students that can't get over the fact that there's no one job that will let them pursue their 982354 different interests. Work can certainly be, and I personally think should be (but that's a post for another day), fulfilling. But it shouldn't be your everything. Find ways to pursue other interests or even learn something new. Not only will it help to keep you well-rounded but you might make some great new friends along the way. While 40 hours, or however long your week might be, is certainly a lot of time it's not all of your time. Arianna Huffington wrote an awesome piece Are You Living Your Eulogy or Your Resume? that I feel is necessary to read along with this point.

4. You'll probably be pretty tired on Friday nights after working all week and it's not lame to just stay in.
This was a hard one for me to learn. After starting my first full-time job I was surprised at just how exhausted I was on Friday evenings, and that was in the summer before things even got busy at work with classes back in session. Getting home on Fridays I always wanted to do something exciting, go out, see friends, live it up, but I was also incredibly tired. At the beginning I felt so lame not leaving the house on Friday nights, but now I think my favorite thing is coming home at the end of the week to catch up with our DVR over wine and dinner on the couch. And I don't even care if that makes me old. You have to take care of yourself too, and resting up on Friday nights means I can live a bit larger on Saturday nights.

5. As you learn about life, pass it on to younger friends, colleagues, family, etc. They'll appreciate it (even if they pretend not to).
My life philosophy is really passing down wisdom and advice. It's a part of everything I do from my job to Dogwood Brides and advising a chapter of my sorority. Sometimes it's easy to look at others and think that they have found this perfect path in life, that they didn't struggle through times of change, etc. But I bet you they did, they were just never vocal about it. Getting advice from someone during times of transition can be priceless just to know that you're not the only one who has felt the same way.

Writing this post was one of my favorites in a while, and I think because it's great to share some of my work as a career advisor. I'm toying with the idea of starting up a career specific series. Would you be interested in career posts for young professionals? What topics would you like to see or questions you have that I can help answer? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why House Hunting is Actually like Dating

If you follow on Instagram you may have seen that Mr. Young and I are currently house hunting! It's such an interesting experience. We actually looked at houses this time two years ago, but after less than a year in Richmond we didn't feel like we had gotten to know neighborhoods enough to know where we would like to settle. Ahhh, settle, I hate that word and I can't believe it's actually happening to me, but I digress.

The more we've gotten into the search (and hopefully we'll have some very exciting updates very soon) the more I feel like house hunting pretty much follows many of the similar rules of dating.

The Emotional Rollercoaster
House Hunt: You walk in and immediately fall in love. It's everything you've dreamed of, and it's in the perfect area, and's in your price range! You know it's a bit too good to be true, so you rush and put that offer in. But, there is someone else in the picture. They aren't fully committed yet, so there is a chance. You wait and anxiously text your realtor for their thoughts on what might happen. In the end, they don't choose you and it's a travesty because in your mind you've already decorated every inch of that perfect house. Onto the next one.

Dating: You lock eyes and immediately fall in love with him. He's everything you've dreamed of, attractive and he can make you laugh. And somehow...he likes you too! You know it's a bit too good to be true but you go for it. You're already planning your future wedding and family together in your mind (because girls are crazy). It's great for a while until he gets a bit standoffish. You agonizingly analyze every date and conversation with your best friend to get their thoughts on the situation. In the end, it fizzles and after a few pints of Ben & Jerry's and bottles of red wine you're ready to get back out on the dating scene.

Create "The List" (then throw it out the window)
House Hunt: This started as a fun project, and then we realized that we're really needy human beings. Our massive list quickly dwindled down to three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen that doesn't need to be renovated, and off-street parking. Ok, there was a bit more like central air, a decent yard, and a dishwasher but we certainly loosened up a bit. I don't think we could ever find a house that fit everything in our list, in our desired neighborhood, and that also falls within our price range.

Dating: I can remember talking about our lists for the perfect guy with friends in college. "Has a job, similar values, dark hair, must have a sense of humor but not be a complete goofball, etc." But then as you jump into the dating game, that list starts to morph. Not that you're settling (again with the settling!) but more that you're realizing your wants are probably unrealistic and you'll never find all of them perfectly packaged together. The list is trimmed, and finally you have a boyfriend.

The Ability to See Potential
House Hunt: "Ugh why is this kitchen orange?" "This carpet is foul!" "Why is the yard only moss?" There are so many easy cosmetic fixes you can make to a house and even many not quite as easy but not awful adjustments that you can make to fit what you need. But, you really have to get past it. Luckily, I think we have a pretty good eye for potential and our realtors are even better dreamers than we are. People who can't see potential in homes...anyone ever on an episode of House Hunters.

Dating: Don't judge a book by the cover! Maybe he's not everything on your list that you ever dreamed of in the "perfect" guy (that definitely doesn't exist). But, if you can see him getting along with your parents, becoming friends with your friends, actually fitting into your life, that's where the potential is.

I could go on, but I won't. Every step of the way it's just been hilarious to step back and see that we are pretty much trying to court our favorite houses. It's been quite the journey and hopefully I'll some more advice tos hare after the fact. To be honest, Mr. Young has been awesome in this process with figuring everything out while I share my opinions and offer up my John Hancock when needed. Can't wait to share another update soon on the results of our search!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The One with Fancier Photos than Normal

One thing I love about my job (besides my actual job!) is that we have some incredible benefits to take advantage of. I am so grateful to work in education and for an employer that values continued learning. With a variety of different opportunities, this year I'm focusing on taking advantage of some different creative classes and decided to start with photography. 

Photo courtesy of my friend Tory during class!
I've always been interested in, and also intimidated by, photography. It is such an essential skill to have in life because you can have incredible crafts and talent, but being able to capture it well takes it to a different level. While I am no pro, I must say that I love knowing how to use the "fancy" functions of my camera and haven't shot it auto once in 2015. 

The class has really pulled me outside of my comfort zone as well. I tend to pick up creative skills easily and the two things I've been focusing on this year, photography and calligraphy, are crafts that haven't come to me too quickly. There has been a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of blurry photos with terrible light. But, it's getting better.

Here are some of my favorites so far! The first few are from my friend Erin's baby shower which I still need to share more about, the details were incredible. Of course there's some volleyball, which has been a really easy place for me to work on my skills although shooting indoors is tricky. Lastly, a few snow shots from around campus as a part of my class homework. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2015 Goals Update

While I did set up one goal for intentional reflection and checking in on my 2015 goals, I haven't quite done that yet this year. I mean I have spent a lot of time thinking about all that has happened so far, but have yet to really pull the list back up and think about what I've done towards each goal. There are plenty of things that I haven't started or really gotten into, but it's March so I'm going to go easy on myself.

So let's take a look at what I've been up to so far...

1. Read at least 20 books. Definitely not progressing at all towards this one! Any free time has been spent working on Dogwood Brides, but that really is no good excuse. Instead of finding new things on Netflix to watch before bed I could certainly be reading, and honestly I'd probably get to bed a bit earlier! I did start Make It Happen, but then I spent so much time making it happen that I have yet to finish...

2. Run three races. Well I've ran twice in 2015--HA! Was actually just talking about this today with a friend and really need to sign up for something soon. 

3. Get back to meal planning. Not quite back in full-swing with planning but I've definitely been much more intentional.

4. Institute meatless Mondays. Nope.

5. Intentional reflection. I haven't really done this by the standards I set for myself with this goal (sitting down, writing out mini goals, etc.) but have definitely been doing a lot of reflection.

6. Establish a regular activity oriented date night. We've definitely been getting better but still have a ways to go. Next up is fort building in the living room and a movie marathon!

7. Launch Dogwood BridesAnd this would be why every other goal has not been started on yet, but this one is a big 'ol CHECK! :)

8. Learn and develop a new creative skill. I have been taking a photography class and now know how to actually use the fancy functions and not shoot on auto! Definitely haven't picked it up as well as I'd hoped by now but I know it will come with more time and practice. Also starting to break out my calligraphy a bit more.

9. Save mo money. When did I become an adult and how do I make it stop? AKA nope...

10. Move more. YES! Something I actually have been doing. Going down two flights of stairs to use a different restroom at work, parking farther away, etc. I've been trying to do as many little things as possible to move.

11. Organize memories. Not quite yet, but I have organized some pictures and am starting to make a list of all of the albums and photo books I'd like to work on. 

12. Create a space that inspires me. My office is looking better than 2014 with a new shelf and table, but still have a ways to go. I'd really like to get it finished in the next month, will have some updates when it's finished!

13. Social media purge. I do this a bit on and off. As I scroll through all of my social media sites I've taken a second to stop and think about the content I'm looking at and thinking about why I follow it. Does it inspire me? Is it just funny? Is it someone that I know? I've been clearing out much more than I thought I'd be able to.

14. Re-establish a morning routine. Still working on this too, Rome wasn't built in a day my friends!

15. Carve out happy time. Definitely getting better at this and can't wait to keep blocking off some time to let my creative mind wander.

BONUS! After writing this list I remembered that one of my 101 in 1001 items is Project 365, aka take a picture every day of the year. To follow along check out #project365ay on Instagram. ---> I've been the best about this and while I did have one day I didn't post,  I did take a picture that day and posted the next! It's so fun to scroll back through my hashtag and see so many fun things I've already done this year.

So after taking the time to look through, I must say I'm pretty proud of this year so far. Although there are some goals I haven't really got into, I have been giving thought to all of them and trying to work towards them in small chunks here or there. Most of all I think this year I have really given myself grace. I can't do everything, I am not perfect, and life is not just about goals--but it's about living and fun!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Follow That Dream

What a whirlwind. 2015 has already been the longest, and most definitely the best, year so far. And I didn't really think many years would ever top 2011 for me. I am absolutely exhausted, and absolutely delighted. The best metaphor I have been sharing with those who ask is I feel like all of the hard work on Dogwood Brides was like growing a baby, we gave birth to it last weekend, and now have to figure out how to raise it! DB really is my baby, and a labor of love, sweat, and tears. Yes, many tears. My poor husband!

I am almost in a bit of shock that it all happened so fast. Bonnie and I talked about it forever, but when we really put our heads together and started bringing DB to life in early January it still wasn't very real to me. We set a launch date of March 7, but it still felt unreal to me that we were actually going to share our work with the world. I have learned so much in the past two and a half months, but most of all I have been able to continue confirming why I have never been 100% jazzed about any job description I have read. Because I am someone meant to create. Because the perfect job does not exist. You must create it.

Natalie Jayne Photography
If we thought the late nights editing posts and navigating html and coding to get things set up was hard, now comes the really hard part. Continuing to work our day-jobs and balancing Dogwood Brides. Having the drive to pour every ounce of my energy and time into something that I can only work on early in the morning, late at night, and on my lunch break. Now comes the trickiness of finding my perfect job, but not getting to fully pursue it. Just yet, that is.

But even with all of that, I am so incredibly happy friends. All of these things that I've wanted to do--I started doing them! I took the leap of faith, I put myself out there, and now I have a ton of work to do to keep it going--but could not be more excited about it.

Hopefully you've had the chance to check it out, but if you haven't head over to Dogwood Brides and give yourself a tour! All of our social media is listed at the top if you'd like to follow along. I promise you'll find a whole lot of pretty, and helpful information from all of our feeds.

So here's to all of the other big dreamers out there. To every bright-eyed girl with a passion to create something new in this world. Roll up your sleeves and take the first step. Because crossing off "Pursue my entrepreneurial dreams" on my Life List is absolutely surreal, and I cannot wait to see where life will take me next!

And I owe you a few more updates soon, like how my 2015 goals are going (trust me, not like this in every area!) and the first two months from Project 365. I'll be back soon...

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Long Time Coming: Part Two

Sweet friends, thank you so much for all of your kind words, support, and encouragement on my last post where I recapped the Creative at Heart Conference! You have no idea how much it means to me that there are people out there who believe in me. When I'm late night coding attempting to learn code, and trying to figure out Wordpress for our new site (more to come on that!) I love knowing I have y'all out there to hold me accountable. To keep working hard, and to believe I can truly do this crazy thing called starting a business. 

One of the most impactful parts of the conference was not learning techniques and tips on running a business, but Kat's closing presentation Hardwork & Fairydust. I seriously felt like she was telling parts of my own life story as she was up there spilling out her dreams, fears, and how she got to where she is with her business. It made me want to work harder, to keep pushing, to really do this thing. Because you may not know it, but I have given up so many times.

Reflecting on my life and decisions recently, I have learned that I do not challenge myself as much as I should. Maybe I fill my plate with responsibilities to the point of exhaustion, but I do not truly challenge my skills and abilities or fully pursue my interests.

via Lara Casey Shop
When I was in high school I dove into all of my passions head first. I was dancing (which I had done since a young age), taking ceramics, and head over heels with journalism. Anything creative that I could get my hands on--I grabbed it! I filled my parent's house with ceramic pieces and completely collaged my room with every teen magazine I could get my hands on. 

My senior year I was selected as editor-in-chief for our high school yearbook and I literally was eating, breathing, and sleeping that publication. Like seriously. I got to school early, I stayed late, I spent my lunch in the yearbook room, I actually was enrolled in two class periods of the class, and I took proofs home to edit every chance I could get. It took time, but I learned how to use Macs. I fell in love with graphic design and teaching myself how to use every Adobe program in the book. It was the first year we were using digital images--which was an incredibly big deal in 2004!

And I don't know if I have ever felt as much pride as I did when copies of those yearbooks came in and I held my hard work in my hands. I flipped through the beautiful spreads, and smelled pages hot off the press. I was actually really good at something, something bigger than myself, something impactful. OK, well as impactful as a high school yearbook can be, but you get the point.

I looked at colleges with journalism programs and had daydreams of working for a magazine in New York. Maybe I wasn't the best writer, but I could learn, I could find other areas of a publication to thrive in. Then I ended up at a college with only a journalism minor which I began and then quit when I thought the first copy writing class was "too hard". I completely ate up my creative writing class, but didn't think I was good enough to continue. I was incredibly interested in marketing--but I did not have the guts to persevere through having to take calculus.

When I got to the end of those four years the I had a ridiculous amount of student involvement experience and a room full of sorority crafts. Funnily enough, I did have one small a full service bridal boutique. I was floored to have the opportunity, but I did not run with it. Instead I steamed dresses, picked up paper goods from the printer, and ran errands. And I did not speak up. I did not beg them to teach me all the things. I did however listen to Norah Jones' Come Away With Me album at least 100 times that spring. They literally owned NO other music.

It can be hard not to look back and regret some of these choices or wonder where I would be had majored in something different or continued to pursue those passions in college. Without life the way it happened I probably would not have gotten to spend a year on the road working for my sorority. I may have not originally started blogging back in July 2009. I would not have had an incredible graduate school experience at South Carolina. I definitely would not have met my selfless and amazing husband, Mr. Young. I would most likely not currently be in Richmond, Virginia. I would not have met Bonnie, my fabulous partner in crime with Dogwood Brides.

Right now I am currently reminding myself to be grateful. Grateful to have come to this realization at 27 and not 47. To be at a place in my life where I have the emotional and financial support to pursue these crazy dreams. To have so many decisions to look back on and say "why?", ensuring that I start to follow my heart. It makes me feel a bit cray cray and sometimes I get teary when I'm overwhelmed with the excitement of it all. I am so grateful to already know I will look back at 2015 as the year that things happened.

Ten years after I held that first beautiful publication in my hands, I will finally launch another. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Long Time Coming: Part One

I can't believe that this time one week ago I was at the Creative at Heart Conference listening to Katelyn James give a powerful opening session. OK so when this post goes live that's probably not exactly who was up on stage, but as I write the timing is perfect! I was making new friends and starting to realize why I've always had such a hard time putting my finger on what I've wanted for a career.

But let's get back to C@H, more on that last thought to come. Hence the "part one".

Y'all--it was an absolutely incredible experience and I owe so many big hugs and thanks to Kat and Taylor for taking this dream of theirs and making it a reality! For bringing together 80 some creatives whether already established or still in the stages of dreaming. For not just hosting a conference, but truly creating a community and starting a movement in the industry. A movement of sharing, listening, and supporting one another. Of having confidence in being a small business owner and knowing that your work matters and is a real job.

I'm going to be honest here for a second. I may be rather extroverted, I may have lived out of a suitcase and stayed with different people every week for a year, I may have made many solo moves to new places by myself, but I was actually pretty nervous about attending C@H. There were going to be so many incredibly successful creatives who have built businesses and followings, and then there would be me. A girl with big dreams and lofty plans.

Lettering by Letters of Grace Calligraphy, Cakes by Sorby Sweets, Linens by Classic Party Rentals of VA, Flowers by Dear Sweetheart Events
This didn't matter at all once I got to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, VA. I was not alone as I found so many other like-minded ladies with dreams of making 2015 the year they finally launch their business. I had meaningful conversations with them and found out we have the same worries and hesitations. That all of us are scared out of our mind to think about bookkeeping and taxes as a small business owner!

I've done a lot of soul searching over the past few years really trying to put my finger on what type of work ignites me. While I do love my day job, some of my interests are missing and my entrepreneurial heart needs a blank slate to grow. I'm lucky that I get to create and have ownership over some new programs this year but am lacking the creative aspect that makes me feel so energized.

As a career advisor by trade, I've finally decided to take my own advice. Pursue a passion as a side hustle, see where it goes, and shoot for the stars. Find mentors, follow those who have been successful, and begin to learn new skills that will help me reach my goals. It took me 27 years and this conference to also learn that I think I knew this is what I wanted all along, but more on that next time!

If you followed along while I was at the conference on Instagram and want to know more, check out their website. A second conference will be offered in March with registration information coming out soon. I promise it's worth any penny, and am happy to share more detailed information with you personally if you're interested. And you might just make some new best friends!

While I've posted a lot on different social media if you're not yet following my new venture, Dogwood Brides, you can do so here: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

I'm so glad you're along for the ride!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

15 in 2015

Happy 2015 friends! It's hard to believe that 2014 is already over, she came in quickly and was gone in a blink of an eye. This year held so many big moments, but I am incredibly excited for 2015.

I love beginnings. 

I'm a morning person and feel that anything is possible before lunch time, when my energy starts to taper. When I feel defeated or a lack of creativity, heading to bed and rising early to reset is always the best remedy. I've realized recently this doesn't just apply to each day, but to hours, months, years, projects, etc. So much of my energy comes from strategizing, brainstorming, and big picture thinking that it only makes sense for me to love beginnings. 

Waking up to 2015 feels like an absolutely amazing brand new morning. After a bit of food, a lot of coffee, time on Pinterest, and devouring every second of Endless Love, which I had stashed on the DVR for me time, I'm feeling up to the challenge to pull all of my inspiration into 2015 planning.

15 in 2015

1. Read at least 20 books. I definitely fell short of my reading goal this past year and it made me sad to not spend much time with good books. The wedding can be to blame for this, but now it's time to get back on track! To follow along with what I choose to pick up check out Good Reads.

2. Run three races. Not picking them out because who knows what the year will hold. They can be any length and of any variety.

3. Get back to meal planning. When Mr. Young and I first moved in together I was the queen of meal planning. And that's when I wasn't eating meat! Life has happened and now that we have so many evening engagements we've gotten into a rut with our eating. Glad I still have my May Designs meal planner to put back to good use!

4. Institute meatless Mondays. I went an entire year and a half without eating meat (though I did still have seafood) and I truly noticed the difference that it made. I felt lighter, cleaner, and all around more healthy--I also ate a ton more veggies.

5. Intentional reflection. At the beginning of each month I vow to sit down and reflect. What did I accomplish? What can I continue to do better? Are there mini goals to make for the month ahead? I made the most progress when I break things into chunks and know that this will be crucial towards reaching all of my goals.

6. Establish a regular activity oriented date night. Yes, we're old. We're the people that I never knew we could be--a regular date night, really? But yes it's completely necessary. Living together isn't one big date and we've realized lately how much we miss going to do fun things (not just eating), just the two of us.

7. Launch Dogwood Brides! This one definitely gets an exclamation point. While there's no date in sight yet the wheels are moving towards getting our website up and running.

8. Learn and develop a new creative skill. I'm thinking either photography or basic design with Adobe programs. The latter of which I actually used to be good at. Or maybe calligraphy?

9. Save mo money. After listening hearing this classic last night I just can't say more. Mr. Young and I have some big goals of our own for this year and we really need to get some mo money in the bank. Sometimes I wish we both weren't in education, but then I remember all of the personal wealth that comes from teaching others. Can't put a price tag on that!

10. Move more. There you go, here's the typical exercise goal. The problem is that I love exercising...I really just have to get started and then not burn myself out. It's not realistic to do something intense every day of the week so even if I can only get out for a 10 minute walk somedays, I need to realize that's better than nothing.

11. Organize memories. I save so much stuff with the intention of doing something great with it, it's time that greatness happens. This specifically includes: make photobooks (wedding, honeymoon, 2013 & 2014), Holiday card/letter scrapbook, photo albums (random college & post grad photo mountains), and figure out what to do with wedding cards.

12. Create a space that inspires me. I've started working on my home office which you may have seen on Instagram, but I still have a ways to go. Getting everything organized and refreshed will definitely help motivate me to start making things happen with other goals!

13. Social media purge. There are tooooo many things completely saturating every bit of social media that I'm on. I want to sit down and do a total clean out on who I'm following and how I organize this information.

14. Re-establish a morning routine. Gah, I used to be such a boss at this. When we were back in our apartment I was up so early every morning. I would run, have breakfast, blog, and read all before getting to work early.

15. Carve out happy time. There are so many things that I love and that bring me so much joy: painting, crafting, writing, dreaming. The problem is that I never give myself the time to do it, I need this pin tattooed on my inner wrist. Whether I can get it in once a week or every other I hope to carve out a week night or chunk of the weekend to spend in my office doing something creative, and completely getting lost in it.

BONUS! After writing this list I remembered that one of my 101 in 1001 items is Project 365, aka take a picture every day of the year. To follow along check out #project365ay on Instagram.

There we go, so let's get out there and get to it. 365 days of greatness coming in 2015!