5.25.2017

Annnnnnd scene.


It's been a long time coming, but today, I made the final decision and preparations to close my blog "Let It Be & Celebrate." I've had a lump in my throat for most of the day as I've been preparing to print it to a book because there is so so much pain written between the lines, but also hope for a brighter future. In the dedication for my printed book I wrote, "For the brave and beyoutiful who needed to know someone else felt the way they did and wasn't afraid to say it." This blog kept me afloat when I had nothing else inside to hold on to. It was my outlet for sharing my innermost feelings and moving forward after organized therapy and a long list of residual side effects that came with it as well as some of the HARDEST trials I've ever faced. The blog will remain public, but I won't be adding new content. I always want it to be there for someone who needs that hope when they are searching online. I will also continue to write for @hermagazine.co but have decided to take the summer off from all writing. My brain needs a vacation and this summer is my time to drink it all in and let my biggest worry be where I'm camping next. Cheers to the many amazing people who have supported my blog. Thank you. The party will continue on Instagram and we will continue to break the stigma of mental health and work towards more women's empowerment. We are frickin amazing and there is no stopping us from showing the world our ultra classy bad assy selves!

The end.....which is actually a new beginning.  xoxo

-R

1.28.2017

To My 16 Year-Old Self.

This past week I took on a new role in my church as a leader with the teen girls in our congregation.  This particular role is one that I haven't had since I was 19 and I've been grateful that they asked me to do other things.  For the majority of my adult life, I didn't want to talk to the younger generation about being a single female in our religion or how to face life and prepare to be an adult.  It's hard.  It's totally stupid at times.  Hell, being a woman is hard.  So much pressure; so much ridicule. The sleepless nights over stupid shit that didn't actually matter. The list goes on and on. However, when the time came for me to take on this role, I felt like it was going to be OK, in spite of my utter fear and feelings of inadequacy.  So far, I've only wanted to crawl in a hole maybe once or twice so that's good.  The reality is this; being a teenage girl is tough in 2017.  Social media distraction and drama; drugs; alcohol; figuring out what the hell is up with boys; finding your faith and relationship with God; learning to juggle homework, chores and hormones is hard.  

As I sat across the room from fifteen of these beautiful girls, I thought to myself, "I don't ever want to be 16 again." But, I've also thought, "what would I tell my 16 year-old self about being an adult?" So, without further adieu, here are a few of my musings from the 30+ year-old version to the 16 year-old (wishing she was older) version.  

1. Boys will always be weird; don't let it define your self-worth.  I'm pretty positive that I still have to remind myself of this on a regular basis.  The male world is a totally different breed than girl world and if we let it get to us, it's just a mess.  I read the book "Men are From Mars, Women from Venus"a few years ago and it was a good reality check.  Men are hardwired for such different things than women and they don't get it that we notice every little thing and wish they'd compliment our cute shoes and new hair, but really, they just want to eat a double cheeseburger, lift weights or make out.  Eventually they will refine their tactics a bit and you'll find one who you can live with forever, but in the meantime, don't let their weird define your self-worth.  You be you and he will be whatever it is he is and someday you'll find that guy who thinks you're the funniest, prettiest, kindest lady who says shit way too much and drinks Diet Coke more than water. 

2. The sun will rise and set on a lot of bad days; hold tight and don't give up. I had no idea how hard my life was actually going to be in the near future when I was griping about having to share a car with my brother and spend time with my family.  I didn't know that 2 years later I'd be in this dark abyss of scary as I hit an emotional low and was buried in depression.  I didn't know that I was already experiencing things that were going to set the stage for the rest of my life, in good and bad ways.  My version of "hard" was getting up at 6 am to go learn about Jesus and have pancakes for breakfast 3 out of the 5 weekdays.  Actual difficult days rolled in after I graduated and I was really glad that I had gone to those 6 am classes about Jesus because it helped me hold on real tight when I wasn't sleeping at night and was afraid of what my brain was telling me.  

3. Who you go to senior prom with will NOT matter when you're 35 so don't stress if you don't get asked. High school dances suck for everyone, but the popular kids.  They just do.  It's so much hype, stress and money and really it just does NOT matter in the grand scheme of life.  I had one dance in high school that I was 100% happy and prepared to attend with my best guy friend.  But guess what?  I don't talk to him anymore, the dress is long gone, my hair looks way better, and I don't remember what I had for dinner that night.  Dances aren't the defining moment of your life map so don't worry if that one guy in 3rd period doesn't ask you to the dance. He's probably just as wigged out as you are that he has to get dressed up, shower and buy you a flower.   

4.  Look for the good in all people; you never know who will remember what you said to them in the hall, how you made them feel, and how it might affect you later in life.  Now that I'm living in my hometown as an adult, I'm quickly being reminded of the good, the bad and the ugly that went on in my high school years.  I remember who was the total ass hat and the mean girl, but I also remember who was the popular kid with a good heart.  On the flip side, I'm discovering the impact I had on people and albeit a little overwhelming at times, I'm grateful that I had parents who taught us to be good, kind, sans drama and non-judgmental.  It's a tough gig being the token Mormon kid in a Catholic town, but I'm so beyond grateful that I had the diverse upbringing that I did.  I love people for our similarities and our differences.  

5.  God DOES have a purpose for you and He is guiding your footsteps.  Listen to your heart and soul and take risks to chase your dreams.  There is one element of my teen years and early adulthood that I still have to consciously work through to get over. Some extra pressure and control that I'm convinced triggered the depression.  I can't change it, but I have to wonder if I had been a little more confident in myself and better educated on Vitamin D levels and some other things that it could have gone better.  But, the faith-based side of me also recognizes that everything happens for a reason and everything worked out and the pieces fell together.  So, to 16 year-old me, don't forget that God is there, he knows and loves you. He is guiding your life, even when you want to poke your mother's eyes out.  

6. Set boundaries. Know where you stand so that the peer pressure can't break you. I am grateful to report that I didn't have issues with peer pressure while I was a teen.  I can count on one hand the number of times I was remotely approached to step out of my moral compass.  This is incredible because there was a LOT of shit going down during my teen years in this town and I feel like a flock of guardian angels were watching out for me.  I've had to instill more boundaries and anti-peer pressure antics in adulthood than I ever imagined.  

7. Laugh as loud as you want and sing at the top of your lungs if you feel like it. One of the most hurtful bits of criticism I ever received as a youth was that I laughed too loud.  If I told you who said it you'd be super pissed and disappointed so we won't go there.  But, I wish that I would've been a duck and let that hurtful comment roll off my back.  The person who said it was more insecure than I knew at the time and had I known what I know now, I could have said to myself, "Screw that!  I will laugh as loud as I want because it is my expression of happiness and I'm having fun and want to laugh." But, I didn't and here I am and I still remember how it made me feel and it was 20+ years ago.  Laugh. Laugh. Laugh.  Life is really sucky at times and you should always find those reasons to laugh because it builds your core muscles, strengthens your vocal chords and boosts those endorphins.  

As for singing....I grew up in a very musical family.  We're all trained singers, but we are all our own person with differing talents and imperfections.  I have insane performance anxiety when I sing solo and a lot of it stems from feeling inadequate in the eyes of peers and family members as a teen.  It's getting better, but I still get embarrassed when people notice my voice in group settings and say something.  Generally their words are kind and complimentary, but I have this subconscious 16 year-old lingering that still wonders if she's good enough.  Sing your heart out and dance in the car.  It's the best therapy and vocal practice you could ever give yourself.  I've learned more about my voice and its abilities by singing to the opera station on Pandora and it's helped me build confidence to sing in "full voice" whenever I feel like it.  

8.  Let yourself cry when you are sad or stressed. I've talked about this in previous blog posts so I won't dwell on it a lot.  I would tell my 16 year-old self that crying is actually your stress release so when it happens, let it happen because it's your body trying to get all the toxins out after a tough situation or hard day.  

9. Don't rush growing up.  Let someone else cook your meals, wash your clothes and pay the bills for as long as you can.   This advice is the one I find myself saying out loud and in my head the most when I have the chance to visit with teens and young adults in college.  I see myself in the girls I work with at church because they are super excited to graduate and have 'freedom' and run away from 'methy Montana" to far-off places.  I could not get the hell out of dodge fast enough when I graduated from junior college and I spent 13 years missing my home, family and friends terribly.  While living in Utah, I missed three funerals of very, very dear friends who died suddenly and traumatically.  Each of the days that I was told that they were killed are forever burnt in my brain because it rocked my world that I could not come home to properly say good bye and mourn their loss.  That was the result of choosing to run away and now that I'm here in my hometown, I feel a certain sense of peace that I have the chance to correct some of that mental trauma because I can visit graves and see family members who remind me that all is well and life has moved forward.  That's just one example of the things I experienced because of my running far away from home so quickly.  Be still and enjoy the moment because they will dissolve no matter what and you don't want to regret if the last conversation was a good one.  

10. Say, "I love you" freely and without embarrassment.  I was terrified to show love as a budding 16 year-old.  I let everyone around me call the shots on how I behaved in relationships.  I regret it so much. I think about those who should have known that I really really loved them as well as those who I acted like I loved, but really I was going with the crowd. The lingering reminders are still there and I wish I would have fought for the love just a little bit harder. Don't be afraid to share your feelings and have your vulnerable side come out.

I think we can all agree that being 16 had its pros and cons and that it's a damn miracle that we survived.  However, we still have the chance to learn, grow and influence those who are living it now.  I'm really honored to work with these gems because they also remind me how lucky I was to have women full of integrity who held my hand and reassured me that it would be ok on the tough days. I'm grateful for the women who woke up at 5 am so that I could learn about Jesus at 6 am and I'm especially grateful for my parents who paid the bills, cooked the food and taught me to be kind to everyone.  

The moral of the story: Be you. Laugh at you. Love you.  

Until next time, my lovelies!
-R

Be sure to read last week's post: "Let's Talk Mental Health."

1.20.2017

Ethel Wrote a Book...Take 2.

It's seems like yesterday that my wickedly hilarious and talented friend, Sarah Boucher published her first book entitled "Becoming Beauty."  She is the Ethel to my crazy brand of Lucy and I'm excited to be here again as the final installment of the blog tour for her second book, "Midnight Sisters: A Retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses."

I have to admit that this time around has been a bittersweet experience for me because I'm no longer the next door neighbor/redheaded bestie who lives all the excitement in real-time.  I'm the living-two-states-away friend and so my perspective has been different.  In my last blog tour post, I gave you a behind-the-scenes perspective of the incredibly hard work it is to be traditionally published. With "Becoming Beauty", I became Sarah's unofficial marketing director and worked for cookies...no joke.  This time around, I've been on the other end of texts, emails and Facebook instant messages as Sarah forged new trails in her author career.  The trail of a self-publishing author is completely different than being picked up by a publisher.  As is customary for the sassy redheaded friend, I am going to give you the bits and pieces of info that show you how much work Sarah has put in to making this book happen.  And......I'm giving you the magic bribery cookie recipe because let's be honest; it's January which is the month in which carbs, chocolate and Diet Coke solve most issues.

My professional background includes marketing, small business branding, social media management and impromptu business owner therapy sessions.  I've seen a lot of business owners start from the ground up and create a brand and product that is epic.  Sarah's brand is no exception.  You may not know this, but by day Sarah is an educator of 5 year-olds.  That alone deserves an award of two (or ten), but being a self-published author on top of it deserves some platinum pretties from Tiffany's.  My brain is always crunching numbers about which option provides less overhead, but also less stress, and self-publishing is probably not the answer.  However, Sarah had a lot more control over elements that mattered to her and I think that has been good for her.  First and foremost, the stunning cover art is by her talented cousin, Cindy and Sarah called ALL the shots and attended the photo shoot that inspired this art.  I mean, let's just collectively sigh at this one:
When a business owner, no matter their trade, can have control of the look and feel of their product from day one, it makes a HUGE difference.  Sarah wrote the words and she wanted to make sure the cover matched the voice and emotion that resides inside that cover.  I think you'll find that it absolutely matches.  It's magical and so wonderful.

I asked Sarah what she's loved and loathed about self-publishing.  Here are her musings about the aspects she loved, "I loved having control over the when and the what of publishing. I set up my own schedule and didn't have to wait until I fit into a publishing schedule because someone's a cooler author and they got a primo spot, so I'm scheduled for further and further out. I also loved controlling what was in my novel. My book was in review with a publisher for a long time and in the end they suggested turning in into LDS Fiction. While that may have been advantageous from a marketing standpoint, I didn't feel that it did justice to my novel or my writing style. Instead, I worked hand-in-hand with a professional editor and I had the last say about everything from story arc to chapter headings. I really enjoyed that collaborative process." 

The loathing sounded like this, "The aspect of self-publishing I found most challenging was the formatting. Last time I handed them a Word document and they did the rest. This time I had to turn it into what you read. And that wasn't easy. Luckily, I had tech gurus on my side who would work for dinner. So there's that. A lot of self-publishing is like shooting into the dark. You're not quite sure where the target is or how to hit it, but you try and try again until you figure it out."

As I've been working on this post Sarah and I have been instant messaging on Facebook and she further reiterated that control over the design of the cover has meant a ton to her as well as the beautiful formatting inside the book.  There is an added element of involvement and investment that has accompanied this book because it was self-published.

In spite of my flee from the 'hood and next door to Chez Boucher, I am still so proud of Sarah and her accomplishment to have book number two on the grid.  Buy this book TODAY.  Buy it for your daughter, buy it for your book club.  Sarah doesn't miss a detail and "Midnight Sisters: A Retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses." will steal a piece of your heart.

Last, but not least, and as promised, I happily share Ethel's delicious bribery chocolate chip cookies with you.  They say the magic ingredient is a pudding mix, but I'm pretty sure it's LLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVE. Break out your best vintage apron and expensive chocolate and make these stat.  They are my favorite!! Click on the graphic below and hit the print button!


The moral of the story: Hard work pays off.  Don't ever give up on your dreams and make cookies on the days when you feel like your dreams are being smothered.  Cookies make everything better.

Until next time, my lovelies!
-R

1.18.2017

Let's Talk Mental Health.

2016 came to a miraculous and tornado-esque end as I found my life path completely shifted and the Knox and I were on our way back to Big Sky Country and my hometown in Eastern Montana to accept a position doing what I love and live for; nonprofit and development work.  To say the situation was miraculous is an understatement.  It has not been carefree and rainbows adjusting to a life sans Target, a multi-screen movie theater or winters with temps above -20.  It's been crazy challenging at times, but it's also been unbelievably happy and rewarding.  In the midst of it all, I've promised myself to look for my purpose in the Wild West and attempt to stay positive. Over and over and over and over I've seen a theme come through that I didn't expect, but I'm completely ok with it because it's time.  It's time to be the voice that I wish I had when I was a teen and young adult living in this community.  That voice is one of mental health advocacy.

Before we get to the staggering statistics that Montana brings to the table in mental health issues, I want to share a story with you.  The other night I had dinner with my friend and she shared an experience with me about her child being severely bullied while sitting in class and how hard it was to concentrate on the teacher because they were trying so hard not to cry on the outside while crying on the inside.  I haven't forgot this description of their emotions and I've thought about it on so many levels.  For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know my story.  You know how hard I've fought to counter depression and overcome some really tough relationships in my life in order to live an actual, normal (ish) life.  This young person's description of their feelings is how I have felt so many times when I had people standing in front of me who didn't believe that my insides were full of barb and sadness that I couldn't make go away. I am truly touched that she was comfortable sharing something so intimate because those are the moments that a mom wishes she never had to have. Her child is an incredible human, but different.  They're not like the other kids.  Suddenly this kiddo's differences make them the enemy and that is ridiculous.  Kids who are different; adults who are different; they become statistics because they feel absolutely no hope and love from those around them and thus take matters in to their own hands or mask their issues with addiction in all its forms.

And so I come to the point tonight.  My 2017 personal mantra is quickly becoming mental health advocacy.  Some of you might say....uh, hello, Raylynn....that's already your mantra.  You are correct, but it has become something that I have to REALLY advocate and speak the hell up because I am surrounded by a LOT of people who are either too scared of what people will think to get help or just plain don't give a shit and will drink their sorrows away or whatever numbs their reality.  

In an article written by the Bismarck Tribune, they shared the following statistics about suicide in Montana, "According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Study, nearly 9 percent of Montana high school students attempted suicide in the 12 months before taking the survey.  Even more concerning, the survey data indicates that students who attempted suicide have many other life problems, such as bullying, drinking and drug abuse.  Although youth suicide gets more attention, the highest rate of suicide in Montana is actually for adults age 45-64.  In 2014, Montana recorded 251 suicides, and a rate of 24.5 per 100,000 population.  That was nearly double the national average of 13.4.  The 2015 statistics are worse: 267 suicides."  The article also stated that health care facilities are being bombarded by suicidal patients and it's causing the need for additional training.  Ya think?

So here's my voice, people.  What are we doing to change this?  Who cares? I'll tell you who.  The mom who has to tell her son that she doesn't have all the answers as to why his dad took his own life. The principal who just attended yet another funeral for a student who gave up after getting a C- instead of an A in Calculus.  The shift supervisor who had to tell his entire team that their coworker was found dead due to an intentional drug overdose.  Those people care because it has directly affected them.  But what about those of you who deem yourself lucky because you live in a bubble and these issues don't exist in your world?  Guess what?  They exist.  They are real and they need to be addressed.

The bottom line of mental health issues is the inability to cope.  If we would actually address the root of the issue and reason for not being able to cope, we would get so much further.  Take a minute and think about it.  Today, I couldn't deal with the stress of my job so I did this..... or today I had a really brutal fight with my spouse so I did this..... Today I totally failed as a parent and human being and now I just want to do this .... and give up..... Today my spouse told me he was cheating on me so I did this.......Today I told my brother I never wanted to speak to him again because he stole money from my business and now I want to do this........... All of these scenarios can and will happen.  But, we can actually face the root.  We really can.

For me, a lot of my depression over the years has stemmed from genetic markers that I can't change, as well as low Vitamin D thanks to being a redhead and living the sunscreen life for the majority of my existence.  However, there are some factors that definitely make it way worse if I let it.  I'm my toughest critic and I let myself be a terribly mean judge if I don't nip it.  Before I know it, I've shamed myself and it's a slippery slope towards sadness and self-pity.  The tools I have to help me work through this weakness did not come without a price.  I spent some really quality, yet challenging, time in organized therapy while living in Utah and my coping skills were directly impacted by the tips I learned from Jennifer.  I can't sing enough praise for organized therapy.  It saved me.  I was such a hopped up, angry mess and Jennifer helped me love again and have the ability to cope.

The reality of mental health issues on a grand scale as I described above is this: we have to break the cycle by making changes ourselves and then leading the way for the younger generation.  How can they learn how to face life's challenges if the adults around them face it with numbing activities and addictions?  If you are a parent or adult who needs help; GET IT.  Quit caring about what the neighbors might think and just get the damn therapy.  You will feel better.  You will walk in there thinking you're addressing one issue and quickly find that it will spread to all aspects of your life.  Priceless.  Absolutely priceless.

I'm nervous excited to share more of my story in this community  It took me 15 years to finally come to terms with my imperfection.  I'm not afraid to talk about it, but I also know that it tends to trigger my sadness that this is my reality.  A vicious cycle, but I have figured out a way to share just enough to make an impact, but not trip myself up.  Please have the bravery to get help.  For those of you who are reading this and we are neighbors or coworkers, please don't hesitate to ask me questions.  Email me: raylynn@beyoudesignsut.co.  I will share what I can share to help you feel empowered to change.  For those of you who aren't right here and still need the encouragement, email me!  If you're in Utah, I know a lady and she will change your world.  Together we can achieve more and I will do what I can.  I won't be your security blanket, but I can sure tell you where to purchase one.

The moral of the story: take care of your heart and your brain; they're all you've got.  Love the one you're with.  Like for reals.  

Until next time, my lovelies!
-R

11.28.2016

makeup feature: You & Me: Let's Be Younique!

I'm happy to be back on the blog train after some big life changes and a whirlwind of miracles.  There's no better way to do that than a makeup feature of my absolute favorite makeup products.  And it doesn't hurt that the company name is the best marketing play on words ever.  I'm so happy to introduce you to Younique, a fantastic makeup company based in Utah (yay local to my former home!) My darling friend and client, Natalee Fox, asked that I share with all of you my thoughts and some trade secrets with some of Younique's newest products.  All I can say is this....you will LOVE their stuff, new or old, so read on for more details.  And there's a chance for you to purchase your own!  Winning! 
My starter face plus brow pencil.
Before we get too far in this sharing of "top secret" make-up musings, I have to confess a few of things.  1. I wear about 1/4 of the make-up that I did in my 20's.  Make-up was a cover-up for my insecurity and I have slowly let that go over time.  However, I still LOVE getting dolled up and I especially love classic red lips, which is what I feature today.  Feeling pretty brings power and if we use it the right way it can change the world in so many ways.  2. I am a simple woman who doesn't spend hours putting on makeup in the morning because I value sleep way too much.  Thus, my methods are really simple and streamline.  I'm no expert, but I do what works for me and that's what you should do as well.  If the mall makeup counter expert tells you to wear it this way and it looks stupid to you, figure out what you like and do it.  Life is too short to have us knocked around by everyone else's opinion.  3. I have extremely finicky eyeballs.  They water at the most inopportune times and they also sweat.  It's a genetic gift that I would gladly send back, but that's not how it works.  I also managed to leave my 3D fibers Younique mascara at my other home in Idaho so the mascara I'm wearing today is NOT Younique, but it's the base that I have to wear, otherwise I sweat it all off.  It's super sexy when that happens, trust me.....and don't ask for photos.  It's a wet-dog-in-the-rain kind of chic that no one needs to witness.    

So, without further adieu, let's talk Younique make-up.  

Concealer & Foundation
I'm a top-to-bottom girl when I apply makeup.  Or bottom layer to top layer, however you look at it.  So, first up is concealer and liquid mineral foundation.  
Younique's concealer goes a LONG with a small amount.  I dab it under my eyes and then let it set for a minute and then rub it in.  I also do the same thing with the foundation.  I'm a comical war painted princess for a few split seconds and then the transformation happens.  I also put foundation on my lips as a bit of a primer (but mostly because I'm stream-lining...ahem....lazy.)
Younique's Skin Perfection concealer and Mineral Touch foundation are liquid gold.  They are worth every single penny you will spend on them.  The application is so so smooth and you don't feel like you're wearing putty on your face.  This is the only make-up that I haven't had a single issue with break-outs on my skin.  Love just doesn't seem to cover how much I heart these two products.  
The other truly magical perk of Younique's liquid foundation is they sell a special application brush that has a groove in the middle to hold the liquid.  MIND. BLOWN. LIFE. CHANGED.  Not only do you have a better idea of how much liquid is actually being applied to your skin, but it's so much smoother and not as messy.  I won this brush with my first purchase of foundation and I am a lifetime lover of this fantastic tool.  

Cream Eye Shadow

Cream eye shadow has been around for a lot of years, but Younique just released their line this fall.  It is spectacular.  I decided to go with a neutral pallet for this feature so I could really make sure I loved the product itself before I went crazy with bold colors.  These are the colors I chose: a nice matte nude color, a deep copper (yummy) and a metallic taupe.  They rock.  I have worn them often since I received the make-up.  


I layered my shadows with the matte color (top left) as the base color, metallic taupe (bottom) as the lid and then the deep copper (top right) as the crease.  It's a really light, neutral look and I love it.  
An insider trick that I learned years ago for best use of cream eye shadows is to use the lid as your mix pallet. Depending on the brand, it can get a little messy if you try to get a good application amount just by dipping your brush in the cream itself.  I usually like to mix while layering so the lid becomes my mixer plate.  Here's what it looks like with the metallic taupe color.
Lips
I can't tell you how many times I've put on a face of make-up and thought, "what the hell?" and then I put on the lip color I chose and it finished the look perfectly.  I've also taken more risks with lip colors over the years which is how I even decided that I could sport red lips, even as a redhead.  That's a long story that involves a guy I once knew who loved red lips.  Bless his heart for kicking me out of my comfort zone because it's my go-to for fancy events now.....and the grocery store on occasion.  

Younique just released Splash Liquid Lipstick.  They are a matte finish and are deep, richly-colored lipsticks.  They say you can wear them without a lip liner, but I'm a lover of liner so that's what I went for today.  I have a red lip liner from Younique that worked great with the red lipstick.  Below is a picture of the three colors I have right now.  A deep red (smokin hot), a deep purple (still deciding if I'm brave enough for that one, even though it's fantastic) and a dark brown (my go-to color in the fall and winter).  Click on the photo for a better look.  My lighting was a little wonky today so it's hard to see the colors against my red background.  
Lip care goes well beyond good lipstick and I love the lip exfoliator product that Younique sells.

I apply it after foundation and rub my lips together so the exfoliation can occur and then wipe it off with a damp cloth, as shown below.  Really easy and really important.  
Like I said above, I am a lover of lip liner and would definitely recommend it as much as possible.  It just helps give cleaner lines.  Plus, I have that weird genetic sweat gig and on hot days, my lipstick has been known to run and then I look like a crazy cat lady who escaped and didn't bother to look in a mirror to apply lipstick.  You think I'm kidding........so wish I was........


The final look is simple, but elegant.  Like I said before, I didn't include the 3D fiber lashes mascara because it's in another state, but I can't say enough about how great it is!  My lashes look a-mazing when I have the mascara on over my mascara tubes.  Look up the 3D fiber lashes here and give them a try.  You will not be disappointed.  


I hope my make-up musings have given you some new ideas for the dolling up that is such a great part of being a woman!  Younique is high-quality and definitely worth the cost.  Plus, you're supporting small business and there isn't a better make-up company to support.  Be you, be Younique and look smashingly gorgeous while you're at it.  

To purchase your own wonderful products, please visit my virtual party HERE.  

The moral of the story: Resting bitch face might give us less wrinkles, but good make-up helps us feel pretty and that is better.....much better.  

Until next time, my lovelies!
-R

9.19.2016

fashion feature: LuLaRoe

Social media is so great and I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the lovely girls at LuLaRoe: Crystal Vaughn VIP  asking if I would feature their clothing on my bloggy blog.  It's been a long time since I've had a good reason to talk fashion, but let me tell you what, LuLaRoe is a FABULOUS reason!  And to top it all off, I get to offer you the sweetest giveaway for $40 in Lula cash so you can buy your own!  It's a Win/Win! Keep on reading and find out why I am the newest super fan of LuLaRoe.
For those of you who have been faithful readers from the beginning (bless you), you know that I love fashion, but I don't do trendy.  I love different, bold and comfortable.  Sometimes those three requirements are hard to accomplish in one piece of clothing.  However, I was able to achieve that with the maxi skirt and sassy leggings that Emily sent me.  First we will talk about this skirt and two of my favorite words: polka dots.
The maxi skirt is a great quality cotton.  It's also bright and turns heads.  I loved it from the moment I tried it on.  The skirt can also double as a tube dress, but I kept it in traditional form for this photo shoot and review.  Versatility and durability are a big deal for me and I can already tell that this cotton will stand the test of time....or in my case.....lots of days wearing it for more occasions than a couple of hours in church.  I live in maxi skirts during all seasons so I want it to last forever; especially if it's really cute!
Another really important element for me in a piece of clothing is its ability to be multi-seasonal.  This skirt definitely fits the bill with its deep navy and mustard polka dots.  A true crossover skirt that looked totally amazing with the fall foliage of East Idaho as its backdrop, but I know I will be able to rock it next spring and summer.
Final thoughts on the maxi skirt?  Two thumbs up and a bit of silly kissy face!  Sign up on their Facebook page to get your own maxi skirt in a pattern that fits your style as well as this did mine.


Next were these magnificent, hot pink leggings!  I am in love with them! I live for different and I also love pattern & pattern so we went full throttle with this outfit!  The top is a thrift store find and the shoes are Clarks wedges that I bought on clearance last month while on a weekend getaway in Driggs, Idaho.
When I agreed to feature LuLaRoe, I was very skeptical about the leggings.  I'm curvy and even curvier than I was last year and I generally opt for no leggings while out shopping because it's just depressing to try them on.  Who needs the reminder that there are a few extra curves and padding in all the wrong places?  Well, these leggings surprised me!  As soon as I put them on, I was in heaven.  My neighbor has a collection of LuLaRoe leggings and she swears by them for their comfort, quality of cotton (again) and their killer prints!  I too have fallen in love with these leggings and I have 3 more pair ordered and headed my way in the mail!  No sale is ever the same so you never know what is going to be available for purchase.  Depending on how adventurous you are, that can be a pro and a con.  I was grateful to find these pink beauties because they are SO much my style and personality.  I mean.....how can I not pose for a picture like this when wearing print and print?
I was so pleased with these leggings and can't wait to pair them with other fun tunics in my closet.  They are the kind of leggings that force people to stop and say, "where did you get those fabulous leggings?" I will gladly say that I got them from LulaRoe Crystal Vaughn VIP
What I love the most about LuLaRoe besides the obvious quality, is the selection of prints that scream "just be you and rock that look!" That is totally my jam and I will gladly keep these in my closet for years to come! And now that I've talked your face off with all the benefits of LuLaRoe, I think you better sign up for $40 in free LuLa cash from Emily and her team!  If you're anything like me you'll want it all!  

The moral of the story: sassy fashion is for all shapes and sizes and with a little effort, you too can find a clothing line that shows your true personality!  

Until next time, my lovelies!
-R

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9.12.2016

lemons to lemonade.

Once upon a time I made the leap of faith to leave a career that was sucking the life out of me. Little did I know that the next two years would be the BIGGEST lemons to lemonade object lesson of my life.  Wait, what?  I thought having straight-up clinical depression at 19 was that event in my life?  Or maybe fearing kitchen knives and necklaces because my anxiety was so high while in therapy?  Nope.  This.  Leaving a career and everything that followed has literally changed me, but for the better.  So, let's talk about that and how I've managed to turn my bushel of lemons to a grand pitcher of tasty lemonade.

If we are being totally raw and real, I will confess that there was absolutely NO other option, but to leave my previous career.  It was pretty much awful towards the end.  I was working for a person who was dishonest and didn't respect women. Plus, there were a lot of politics that didn't bode well for me.  I was miserable and stressed out of my mind.  I was presented with an opportunity to do what I loved so I took the risk and did it while taking a pay cut and all that went with leaving 11 years in a single industry.  It put me in the path of some of the best business people I've ever worked with, but also some on the other side of the spectrum.  Lemons to lemonade meant focusing on the people I loved working with and trying to tune out the others.  Not easy.  Believe me.  I opened up a part of my heart and soul that was passionate about doing the best possible thing with what I was given and I did just that.  I taught myself how to do things "the hard way" and succeed.  What I didn't know was this path was leading me in a direction of far bigger and much harder things.

One of the biggest challenges in life is to see the sunshine in our storm.  It's even harder when you already have a tendency for depression.  My mental health struggles started out because of female-plumbing-gone-haywire mixed with pressure on the homefront, but as I've aged and learned how to deal with that part, I've gotten better at managing it.  When my depression LOVES to show up to the party is in stressful situations or seasonal times of the year when the days are shorter and colder. Those are my triggers.  So, when I was suddenly presented with situations due to "doing what would make me happier" that were ultra shitty, the big D waltzed his way in too.  Yes, he is male.  No, I'm not being a feminist man-hater bitch.  Just roll with it.  Overbearing depression and anxiety are the party crashers that no one wants to ever see, but they still manage to show up.  But we have to face them and treat them with kindness because that's what ultimately sends them away.  Let them eat some appetizers, have a couple drinks and then they will go away.  And suddenly I've made depression sound like a bad wedding reception.

I have learned that the BEST way to make lemons to lemonade is to really take the advice "mind over matter" to heart.  Vision boards are not all smoke and mirrors, my lovelies.  When we visualize the other side of the trial we can get through the here and now so much better.  Having the vision doesn't mean that it's going to just poof itself away, but it means that we have our eye on the positive and can focus on it for as long as we need to.  It still means we will have "ugly cry" days and "step-away-from-the-chocolate-and-Diet-Coke-before-I-kill-you" days, but we get through them.

This past weekend I went to a business conference that my friends put together.  It was seriously one of the best experiences for me, both personally and professionally.  When it was done, I was on cloud nine for a long list of reasons.  I felt empowered, loved and appreciated. It was my lemonade for the last 2 years of utter hell of leaving a stable, yet shitty career, and becoming who I am meant to be.  However, I could not have been sitting in that room enjoying that surreal moment unless I had been in my previous career.  My knowledge, experiences and connections put me in that path.  150%.  In fact, my dear friend who was one of the event organizers was one of the best business risks I took in my previous career path.  She and I met sight-unseen after emailing each other on LinkedIn.  We still call each other the best blind business date we've ever been on.  I adore her and she has put me in the path of so many incredible people who have brought opporutnity and happiness to my life.  Lemons to lemonade.  Completely.  One of the speakers at the event was Olympic bronze medalist, Allison Baver.  Allison was in a horrific speedskating accident before the Vancouver Winter Olympics and her will to heal led her back to full health and she went on to win a bronze medal.  She shared the following quote with us and it really resonated with me.
Our mind can change the course of life, good or bad.  How are we choosing to treat it and how are we choosing to interpret life and its challenges?  For every trial, there are five things we can be grateful for sitting right in front of our face.  Each and every time we recognize the blessings we are keeping our brain on course to determine our outcome for the better. I can't begin to tell you the number of nights I have prayed with gratitude for my bed, the safety of my home, a warm bath, grilled cheese sandwiches and that the day was over.  5 things to be grateful for to every crappy thing.  Try it!  It works wonders!

One of the best cards I received last year was from my dear friend Mel.  It went something like this, "well lemons to lemonade, even if it's a 6 pack of hard lemonade."  At that point I probably could have drank a few hard lemonades, but I didn't, and I pulled myself up and got through the challenge that warranted her card.

I have resolved to further continue my quest for lemons to lemonade in some ways that are SO exciting yet SO terrifying because they expose more vulnerability and make my stomach jump.  But, I'm going to do it and I'm going to succeed just like I already have.

The moral of the story: When life hands you lemons, break out the juicer, throw in some extra suga (or maybe vodka) and have a party in spite of the storm!  You can totally do it!

Until next time, my lovelies!
-R

Be sure to check out the biz side of "Let It Be & Celebrate" by visiting www.beyoudesignsut.co

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