DRESSING THE BUMP: SPRING EDITION

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I can not believe that I am at the end of my pregnancy journey! I was told that it was going to go fast, but at the time 40 weeks sounded so far away. Well, here we are! I’m still feeling good, staying active, and eating clean. Everything is ready for our little man’s arrival!

I have been debating back and forth on a newborn photoshoot. They are absolutely adorable, however, I don’t see it as a must have for us. I am sure we will be taking several pictures on our Canon Rebel.

My husband has been such a trooper throughout this entire experience. Never missed an appointment, always encouraging me, he is so supportive. I can not thank him enough for being so present and attentive as we embark on this journey called parenthood

I still haven’t purchased any maternity clothes. I pretty much live in leggings and now that it’s warming up I will be wearing more dresses. This vintage mint green dress was originally my grandma’s (who I named my website after). I found it in my closet while hopelessly searching for something comfortable to wear. The material is a loose, slinky fit which was exactly what I was searching for. I complimented this look with my icey white Nike shoes. I considered pairing this dress with sandals, but later opted for a more edgy look. 

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MY BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY

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Pregnancy is very intimate and personal to each individual woman. The experiences are different, the symptoms are different, emotional are different etc. There are so many women who provide pregnancy advice and tell you all about their awful pregnancy experience (just take it with a grain of salt). It is also okay, to kindly decline hearing any negative pregnancy experiences.

I know women are trying to be open and honest about what I could possibly experience, however, when I want to discuss a specific situation about pregnancy I will ask for advice. I want to put myself in a different mind frame. I do not want to go into labor and delivery scared or intimidated because all that does is interferes with the production of oxytocin. I have full confidence that my body knows what to do, after all we were created for this.

I found myself anticipating a negative experience early on because that is what I was ‘conditioned’ to believe. When I release all that negativity and decided to embrace my own pregnancy journey and just block out everything I had been told, my experience has been amazing! I am almost 9 months pregnant and still very active.

I believe staying active through this journey has been beneficial. They say staying active helps with labor, so anything to help with that process. I also work out daily because self-care is very important. I focus on Yoga, kickboxing, and pilates.


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MY GLAM MATERNITY SESSION

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My maternity photo shoot was definitely one of the highlights of my pregnancy! With so much going on both mentally and physically it was nice to get back into my element. My photos were shot by Stephanie Richer of Stephanie Richer Photography. When Stephanie told me her vision for the shoot, I knew we were on the same page. We both envisioned a more high-end editorial shoot. The pictures were everything I anticipated and more. 

Stephanie did an amazing job capturing each image. She has a special way of creating a fun and energetic atmosphere. She understands the concept of light and used cool techniques to capture the perfect image. She also shot our breathtaking engagement pictures.

My make up was done by Kristen ‘KC’ Coleman. She provides both hair and make-up services, however we just did make-up. She did an awesome job! We didn’t even have a consultation. She went in really soft and natural which I really appreciated because I don’t wear make-up on a regular basis. I absolutely love a subtle beat!

The dress I chose to wear is a black form fitting Betsey & Adam gown with embellishment around the neck and arms. It’s not a maternity dress, however, it fits comfortably on my bump.  I wore my black Christian Louboutins to compliment such a regal gown.

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PREGNANCY DIARY: SECOND TRIMESTER

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Second trimester was a breeze! I felt like myself again. Of course, there were occasional days where I felt lethargic, but that just comes with the territory. Overall, my energy was up, my appetite came back and I was able to work out daily. I went to the gym three to four days a week and did prenatal yoga and pilates on the other days. When I wanted a more intense workout, I did prenatal kickboxing.

I did not have any strange food cravings. I continued to eat clean to make sure my son gets all the nutrients needed for him to grow strong and healthy. I noticed I got full pretty fast and I was hungry more often. I transitioned from eating three meals to four meals a day with small snacks in between. I really listened to my body and ate when I felt hungry.

The only purchase I made for myself that related to pregnancy was a pair of maternity leggings, a pair of maternity jeggings and two maternity tops. I made purchases that would be beneficial for me during and after my pregnancy. We purchased the most amazing house shoes that I have EVER owned. The brand is Vionic and it is an understatement to call these slippers amazing. They really deserve their own post (coming soon). I really wanted to keep cost down and just make purchases that were necessary.

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BUMPING AROUND IN STYLE

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Throughout my pregnancy I have worn clothes that are not only comfortable, but also breathable. I prefer longer tops with more of a loose fit. I wear leggings 99.9% of the time and the other very small percentage I wear my maternity jeggings or joggers. Since my belly is getting bigger it is harder to get my shoes on and off. I have been searching for a pair of comfortable mule shoes with no avail. I told my husband starting in March, I will officially be done with closed toe shoes other than working out and also inclement weather. I am so ready for some Spring weather!

I ordered this layered dress almost two years ago. Initially, I wasn’t particularly crazy about the fit and considered returning it. I am so happy I didn’t because this dress makes a super cute maternity outfit. I paired the dress with leggings and thigh high boots.

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BREAKFAST FOR A CHAMP

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My husband and I make a conscious effort to eat healthy. Not saying we don’t enjoy our fair share of snacks and treats, but that is few and far between. These days I am eating for my son. I want to provide him with all of the beneficial nutrients to grow big and strong.

I was on FaceTime with my mom while I was eating my breakfast one day. She asked what I was eating and I told her everything on my bagel and the benefits. She said you should post a blog about healthy foods to eat while pregnant (thanks for the idea mom).

I am actually not a bagel eater, however my husband made this one morning and I have been eating it every since. Let me just preference by saying I do not like eggs or avocados individually, however, together with the other toppings this is the best bagel I have ever had. On this bagel, I made scrambled eggs, added avocado, cheese, and turkey bacon. On the side I have fresh blueberries and to wash everything down, I had ice cold Almond Milk. Check out the benefits below.

Organic Bagel- The Epic Everything brand has a high protein and omega-3 content. Omega-3 has a positive effect on visual and cognitive development of my son.

Organic Eggs- Eggs are a good source of protein and good for my little mans brain development. *Superfood

Avocado- Avocados are strongly recommended during pregnancy because of the various vitamins and minerals. This unassuming fruit contains essential nutrients such as folate and potassium. *Superfood

Cheese- Mild Cheddar for added texture and taste.

Turkey bacon- I prefer turkey bacon over pork bacon because it is leaner and it tastes better.

Blueberries- Blueberries are considered brain food also assist with immune development during pregnancy. They are high in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and antioxidants. *Superfood

Almond Milk- I prefer almond milk over cows milk because I am able to digest it better. This milk is rich in protein: This helps in the healthy development of my son’s muscle mass.

*Superfoods provide greater health benefits then most other foods.

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FIRST TRIMESTER MUST HAVES

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I felt so many different emotions during my First Trimester. I was not prepared for the morning sickness, the food aversions, my hormones wouldn’t let me be great, I felt weak and tired, I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. During week seven, I actually had flu like symptoms. It is rare that I get sick. During that week I was hot and cold, nothing satisfied my tastes buds, I could only eat chicken noodle soup and drink orange juice. I love water and I try drinking a gallon a day, however, during week seven it took everything in me to drink a sip of water. My husband and I do not speak of week seven. Around week thirteen I finally started to feel okay… not great, but a lot better. 

  1. As soon as I found out I was expecting I purchased natural prenatal vitamins. I later switched to a different brand to include DHA (per my doctor).

  2. It was important for me to have a pregnancy journal to document my experiences on this journey. There is so much that goes on both mentally and physically, I thought it would be a great idea to keep track of each stage of my pregnancy.

  3. A cushioned toilet seat was a necessity for me! My husband found a great seat on Amazon and it is so comfy.

  4. I never left the house without my GinGin’s. They helped so much with nausea. GinGin’s are ginger candies that really help to settle the stomach.

  5. My belly constantly itched towards the end of my first trimester. I bought Aloe Vera Gel from Whole Foods to help soothe my skin.

  6. I also ordered Mother’s Special Blend from Amazon. I love this oil because it can be used before, during, and after pregnancy and it is all natural.

  7. I carried my water bottle with me everywhere. It was important for me to stay hydrated during my early stages of pregnancy. I liked the water bottles with the measurements on the sides to keep track of my water intake.

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MATERNITY CHIC

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I found the perfect dress to celebrate month six of my pregnancy journey! The brand is Pinkblush. What I love most about their line is the clothes are created to be worn before, during, and after pregnancy. This beautiful deep burgundy color is perfect for winter. The ruffle sleeves really adds detail and character.

I have more of a slender, athletic build. I was debating between a size medium which is my pre pregnancy size and a size large. I went with a size medium since my physique has not changed too much besides my little belly. This dress hugs my curves and it is still very comfortable to walk and sit in with ample room around my midsection for my little man to breath.

I was overjoyed to find maternity clothing at a reasonable price point, styles that were super chic and trendy, and a brand created with versatility in mind. There are a wide variety of fashionable maternity dresses in this collection. I would encourage ladies who appreciate stylish and well made clothing to check out Pinkblush!

***Thank you to PinkBlush for sponsoring this post.

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FAMILY AFFAIR

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Happy New Year!! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, I sure did! My family and I were all in Raleigh at the Rooks’ estate. We ate good, played games, exchanged gifts and enjoyed each other’s company. My mom bought us these super cute shirts for Christmas. I knew they would be perfect to for an impromptu photoshoot. It’s so funny how it somehow turned into a family shoot.

I know it’s been a while since my last post. But, so much has been going on lately. Both my sister and I are expecting boys this Spring!! She is due two weeks ahead of me. It’s so special to have my best friend on this incredible journey with me. I must say, I am going to miss her being in the delivery room with me.

Feeling my son kick and squirm and seeing him grow at each doctors visit has been the highlight of my pregnancy. I can slowly see his personality shining through which is amazing to me. My husband and I have been going back and forth on names. But, we do have initials... AJ!

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OUTGOING INTROVERT

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When I was younger, I was extremely shy. As I progressed through my secondary education I became a social butterfly. That's what my teachers told my parents at conferences. My dad would tell me, "you are in school to learn, not to socialize!" But, talking to people got me through that long day of learning the algebraic method, and the periodic table. Socializing was very necessary for me. I considered myself more extroverted, but still reserved around newcomers or in a group setting.

As I've gotten older, I appreciate conversations with substance and more meaningful relationships. This made me question my extrovertedness (yep, made that word up).  After reading Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, I identified with outgoing introverts, also known as ambiverts. Many people identify with this personality type. A common misconception about introverts is that they are anti-social or socially awkward, when in fact we just prefer to socialize on our own accord. 

How do you identify your personality?

I found this top at an online t-shirt store by the name of iloveapparel. When I saw this shirt I immediately thought, "that shirt is so me!" The price point was reasonable and the quality was good. I also ordered my husband a super cute shirt and a pair of socks. My skort (skirt/shorts) is BCBG and my shoes are Nike.

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ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY!

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Wow! I can’t believe it’s been ONE year since I launched V41! They say time flies when you’re having fun. Creating my blog this past year has been so exciting and self-fulfilling. I’m not sure what the future holds as far as my blogging is concerned, but I only hope for continued success. I enjoy blogging as a creative outlet. I use this platform to spread positive energy, clear my head and of course connect with other like minded individuals. I also wanted to create a space for individuals who appreciate designer and fashionable clothing on a budget.

If you’re a V41 newbie here’s a quick update about me. Last year, I quit my corporate job to start a career in the beauty industry. I took a leap of faith and followed what I felt was my purpose in life. So many doors and opportunities have opened up for me, which confirms I am heading in the right direction. I am letting God use me as a vessel to motivate, inspire and encourage people do what makes them happy and live their best life! 

This next year I plan to be more consistent with my content. Blogging is definitely a full-time job. There is so much planning that goes into each post. There's hair, make-up, location, outfit, weather plays a factor, time of day to get the best sunlight, uploading photos etc. In a perfect world, I would like to carve out a few hours a day to work solely on my blog.

There are just some colors that just make our melanin POP! And Chartreuse is one of them. This color is so vivid and electric. Chartreuse is a bold statement color. When I wear statement colors, I mute my accessories. This romper is MSGM from Neiman Marcus, my shoes are Jessica Simpson and my pewter clutch is BCBG.

I want to thank my husband for all of his assistance and support with V41. I would also like to thank all of my loyal readers who get inspired, motivated and fashion influence from my posts. I hope that you all will continue to grow with me on this amazing journey.

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SUN-KISSED

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My husband could not get over how tan I got while in Punta Cana! He says, I have the perfect tan! I went from golden brown to a deep mahogany brown. I enjoyed every minute of our vacation! We were only in our room to sleep. I wish we would have spent more time in our room because we had an amazing two-story suite!

We were out and about enjoying the resort, weather and our family. My honey and I jogged on the beach, we played beach volleyball almost every night hence, the beautiful chocalatey tan. We played pool at the sports pub, enjoyed the live entertainment each night, had a family swim competition, we played ping pong, swam in the ocean. We participated in Dominican Night, where we ate Dominican food and enjoyed Dominican entertainment. We also shot archery. My mom and sister hit a bullseye! I didn't pull the bow back hard enough because I was too worried about the string popping my inner arm. The only thing we didn't do, that I wanted to do was go on an excursion. I will definitely go on one next time!

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DENIM JUMPSUIT

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Great shot mi amiga!

Great shot mi amiga!

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I received so many compliments and questions on where I purchased my denim jumpsuit!! My Mom and I found super cute pieces at New York and Company. This jumpsuit fits great. I'm 5'6" and length wise, it's a bit long, but small heels will definitely correct that. I chose to wear a flat sandal because I didn't mind my pants dusting the ground. I like the versatility of this jumper. It can be dressed up or down. I dressed a bit more casual for a cookout at my In-Loves.

I wore this piece to my second bridal shower here in Knoxville. My Mother-in-Love wanted to have a intimate celebration with close friends and family. My sister and brother traveled down from Raleigh to support us. Unbeknownst to me, my parents came down from Wisconsin to be apart of the festivities and the water works were in full effect. I am beyond grateful to have family and friends who love and support us!

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CARRIBEAN PARADISE

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This was my grandma's swimsuit! It's definitely over 30 years old and fits me like a glove.

This was my grandma's swimsuit! It's definitely over 30 years old and fits me like a glove.

We had an amazing time in Punta Cana! The staff was friendly, generous, helpful and extremely pleasant. Hearing stories from the native Dominican people were so heart felt and in some instances very relatable. My husband I had a conversation about the hospitality and how everyone was so attentive and catering to us. Staff and locals greeted us by saying “welcome home family" or "good morning family."

Unfortunately, I did not take a lot of pictures. I wanted to enjoy my time and Punta Cana with out the interference of recording and taking pictures every second. My brother gifted my sister with a Nikon camera as an early birthday gift. She captured every moment! I planned an all white party the night before my wedding. I wanted to get everyone together to meet one another before the big day! We ate dinner at the Lobster Bar. After dinner, we watched live entertainment. There were activities every hour and live shows every night. 

During my time in Punta Cana I ate some of the best food I have ever had in my life! I am all about presentation and this resort prepared some of the most beautiful dishes. There was a variety of cuisine and beverages available to us because we booked an Excellence Club suite. This gave us special seating at the beach, exclusive restaurant reservations... we basically ran the joint (lol, kidding). 

Traveling definitely put things into perspective for us. This was a very humbling experience and it made us even more grateful for our opportunities. This was our first time traveling out of the country together, however, we plan to incorporate travel into our family vacations. It’s important to get out of your little box to see and experience everything life has to offer.

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FOREVER MOORE

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My husband and I decided to have a destination wedding in Punta Cana. I worked with a travel agent who handled the logistics of our travel arrangements. I told her what I was looking for and she found the perfect location for our ceremony. In Punta Cana, warmth radiates from the tropical sun and the Caribbean Sea. Excellence El Carmen is an Adults Only Resort. This resort was secluded and romantic, with charming rooms and suites.

My wedding was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It was off to a rocky start, but it quickly turned around and ended perfectly. The day my parents were scheduled to fly out my mom had  flight issues and was not able to fly out as planned. It started to look like she wouldn’t be able to make it to our wedding... but, God! He got my mom to Punta Cana the day of my wedding! 

Getting married on the beach was a dream come true. One thing I did not take into consideration was the wind whipping off of the ocean. I felt my hair blowing uncontrollably, my veil comb loosening up from my neatly pinned bun. But, there was something so beautiful about the wind blowing and the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the sand. It almost felt as though a powerful presences was there with me... Hey Gram! I tied a charm around my bouquet so I could have my grandma with me every step of the way. I know the movement of the elements was her way of showing me she was already there.

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BRIDAL SHOWER BLISS

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Bow chicka wow wow!

Bow chicka wow wow!

But, First let me take a selfie.

But, First let me take a selfie.

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Okay, ladies... Now, Let's get in formation!

Okay, ladies... Now, Let's get in formation!

I traveled back home to Wisconsin over the weekend for my bridal shower. My sister, who also happens to be my Matron of Honor planned an absolutely beautiful event. She personalized and detailed every aspect of my shower. Her and my mom worked closely together to make this special occasion a success. 

My dad escorted me to the shower, where I was greeted by amazing people who played a special role in each stage of my life. It was so good to see all of my family and friends! Ladies traveled from all over Southern Wisconsin to support me as I enter the next chapter of my life. I definitely felt the love!

I pieced together a super cute outfit for my bridal shower. I wore a beautiful cape overlay with floral appliqués and paired it with an opal colored Calvin Klein dress. The color was perfect, the fit was just right, the material was super comfortable and to top it all off I found shoes that brought the whole outfit together. Not bad for a last minute wardrobe change. 

Special Thank you's to Kaleia (sister), Deann (Mom), Kenny (Dad), Brandon (Brother) and Alivia (little sister) they all contributed to the success of my bridal shower. Also, thank you to all the ladies who took time out of their day to celebrate us. 

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PUPPY LOVE

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For my twentieth birthday, I decided I needed a dog. As if going to college full-time and working two jobs wasn't enough. I called around looking for a white and strawberry blonde female Shih Tzu. I finally found the little puppy I was looking for in a small town about 45 minutes away. She was the only girl left in her litter. This adorable little girl wrestled around with her brothers. I got her the day before my birthday. She was only 7 weeks old. 

I still can't believe that such a little package can hold so much personality! Korbi is feisty, but sweet. Cute, but sassy. Friendly, but not to other dogs. She likes to be carried on the hip like a baby. She has been with my parents since she was 3 months old. It was only suppose to be until after I graduated from college, but the terms of the conditions changed after I graduated because my parents were attached to her and she to them. 

Korbi stayed in Knoxville with us for a month. It was a sad day taking her back to Wisconsin, but I know that is home for her now. 

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BLACK. NO SUGAR. NO CREAM.

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Hey there! I know it's been a minute since my last post, but I've had a lot going on. I started a new job managing an Aveda Salon. I am super excited and I feel right at home especially coming from an Aveda school. Speaking of my school, I had the opportunity to style hair at our Catwalk For Water Fashion Show. I love the fact that I am able to use my God given abilities to give back! 

I digress. Since our dress code is all black, my closet is slowing getting consumed with black blouses, pants, jeans, shoes, scarves, should I continue...? Even when I am not shopping for work, I find myself buying all black. Wearing black makes me feel powerful, stylish and sophisticated. I like the fact that black is easy to layer, it matches effortlessly, and flatters my figure. 

The title of this post is a double entendra. I want to take a moment to appreciate my melanin. The other day at work, I helped two beautiful black queens who were around 60+ years young. They were buying skincare products and neither of them had a wrinkle in sight. The young lady at the counter complimented their skin and asked what their secret was. She confidently and unapologetically replied, "Being Black!" We all laughed! That really resonated with me because too often we are expected to downplay what makes our culture unique and beautiful. This was a reminder that we are striking, complex, and extraordinary beings that were wonderfully created.

By the way, my chic hat is vintage! I remember my grandma wearing this hat with style and grace.

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ROOKS ESTATE

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My honey and I went to visit my sister and brother (I don't say brother-in-law) over the weekend in Raleigh, NC. They are legit the best hosts' ever! They always have fun things planed for us to do and takes us to the best eateries. Not to mention, our money is no bueno, unless we find a sneaky way to pick up the tab.

There is a bakery that I always go to when I am in town called Rise Biscuits Donuts. Their chicken biscuits are delish! We also dinned in at a new restaurant. It was a Peruvian spot. There Yucca was so tasty and hands down the best I've ever had! I put on a few extra pounds this weekend, but it was definitely worth it! 

We had the opportunity to snap a few shots on Friday. The weather was absolutely beautiful! I grabbed my nephew so he could enjoy some beautiful weather and he stole the show! He was definitely the star of our shoot!

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HELLO CHAPTER 32

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Today I am celebrating me... It's my birthday!! I am beyond blessed to enter another chapter in my life. I feel like this day snuck up on me. I am typically eager to celebrate my birthday and just bask in the ambiance of celebrating me. This year felt a bit different. It took me a little longer to get into the birthday spirit. I've been so wrapped up in wedding planning that everything else has been put on the back burner. 

I don't have big plans for my birthday this year. I will be working today because I am grateful to be doing what I love most! As most of you know, I am now in the beauty industry. I am so happy to have made this transition because I am doing what I love daily. So often we get wrapped up in what makes up the most money that we don't stop to figure out what exactly it is we love doing and pursue that. 

I am holding five balloons. 3  in one hand 2 in the other, for my 32 years of life! It means so much to have your support throughout my career transition. It is such a blessing to receive support from coast to coast.

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