Monday, January 30, 2017

New Blog Series: The Single Series

Since last fall I've had this nagging at my heart to be more open about being single. I've ignored the little voice because I kept making excuses like "I don't have all the answers", "who would even listen?", or my personal favorite, "what if this means I'm going to be single forever?" That last one can paralyze me if I give it too much thought. If I start talking about being single and sharing my story with other women, does that mean I'm accepting my fate as an eternally single girl?

But I finally decided that it doesn't matter. Whether I'm single for a few more months or a few more decades, if I can share my story and help one girl then it's worth it. I've done lots of praying about being single (haha I totally prayed about it this morning sooo more like I DO lots of praying), and God is so great at offering me peace about it.

Really quick I want to give you the spark notes version of my story: I'm 26, in grad school, and I'm single. I've always wanted to get married and have kids. Once I got to college being single became a big struggle for me. I had faced my issues with it my senior year and felt "cured." But of course that's not how struggles work. I've struggled with it even more in grad school because the last time I seriously dated a guy was in 2013 and many of my friends are married and having babies. While I know the Lord has always been trying to help me understand my singleness, it wasn't until fall 2016 that it all kind of "clicked." I had been meeting with a woman from my church and our conversation shifted from anxiety to men (because God knows what I need more than I do). Walking through that has been rough. Good but rough. Then I got asked to give a talk on single life at a Christian girl's retreat. After lots of prayer and going back and forth I accepted and that talk has been the basis for this blog series.

So I'm here to introduce to you my new blog series: The Single Series. This will be a place where I hope to encourage you if you're single or if you have friends that are single. I hope to provide answers to questions like "What do I do if I'm the only single girl in my friend group?" "Is there any encouragement for a single lady like me?" "Uhhh dating??" I've asked all of these questions and many more. But I've also spent lots of time in prayer and conversation with God and other people to seek answers. Now I will go ahead and tell you right now: I do not have all of the answers. But I promise to make sure my answers are always aligned with God and the Bible before I give them. I promise to not brush any question off because someone thinks it's silly to ask. There are no silly questions here y'all! And I will never treat a question as such. Singleness can be a very touchy subject for some women so I promise to keep my answers and thoughts drenched in grace while still speaking truth.

How are we feeling about this? I'm personally a mix of excited and nervous. Excited because sharing my story of being single and what God has done through that is something I'm passionate about. I'm an open book when it comes to this stuff! But I'm also nervous because I'm opening myself up and being vulnerable with strangers and that's kinda scary. 

I do know that I'm confident in this series because I truly believe God has been calling me to this for a while now. Throughout this whole series I want your input. If you ever have a question, ask me! I promise to answer whether it's directly replying to you or incorporating it into a blog post. But please reach out and let me know what you're thinking. And don't ever hesitate to share this with your girlfriends. 

This was just an introduction to the series, but I hope to have the first actual post up next week! I'm still ironing out the details and junk so I haven't quite decided what's going to come first. But feel free to start shooting me questions or comments! I'm always open to listen and I'm always flexible with my schedule!

in His hands,

Friday, January 20, 2017

Choose Joy

This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a small commission if you shop through them.

Let me be very honest with you: grad school will suck the life right out of you. You'll feel guilty every time you spend a weekend not in the lab. You'll second guess your choice to continue in school. You'll start to doubt your ability to finish. You'll find yourself thinking you're not smart/good/creative enough. It's rough. And it can very easily destroy your joy. 

Each year gets harder and harder. I mean I know they don't just hand out PhDs but still! I wasn't prepared. Going into my fourth and Lord willing final year, I knew I needed to make a change. Even though I won't always be happy, I can choose to pursue a joyful attitude every day. 

Now this shift in attitude hasn't been easy. I struggle with anxiety so it's very easy to me to slip into the familiar state of thinking I'm not good enough to be getting a PhD. But by consciously and actively choosing joy each day, it's definitely made a difference! Don't get me wrong - I still have meltdowns when an experiment doesn't work. I nearly cry thinking that one experiment that isn't working could keep me from graduating when I planned. But, joy doesn't let me stay in that space. It points me back to the One I find my identity and true joy and happiness in. 

When I saw this shirt from Cents of Style, I knew I needed to have it! They have lots of options, but this one I knew would remind that even on the crappy days, I can choose joy. I can choose to remember that God has a plan for my life and that he loves me more than I could ever comprehend. That right there is enough to snap me out of a place of doubt and fear about my ability as a chemist. 

Cents of Style has amazing tees that will inspire you. Pick a shirt that when you see it hanging in your closet or when you put it on will inspire you. Whether you need a reminder to just be still or the encouragement that you can do hard things, pick one that speaks to you. Bonus: this weekend only they're taking 50% off! Plus you always get free shipping. Just use code INSPIRE17 at checkout. And don't forget this is only good through Sunday! Check out some of the other options below:


Thursday, January 12, 2017

LimeLight Makeup Review

Today's post is all about makeup. Specifically, LimeLight by Alcone. Now I hadn't heard of this brand until my friend Jen, a fellow chemistry grad student, told me about it. LimeLight began by providing makeup for the stage and film industry, but now they're selling makeup to the everyday woman. I was impressed by that, but I absolutely LOVE that they're cruelty free. You buy LimeLight like you would buy Mary Kay - you find a beauty guide (like a MK beauty consultant). Lucky for you all, my friend Jen sells it so if you find yourself interested in this by the end of the post, she was kind enough to share her website and Facebook page with all y'all!

Alright let's get into the review! Jen was kind enough to let me try some skincare products as well as makeup. Overall, I was super impressed! The cleansers made my skin feel really clean. More than just taking my makeup off, but actually a deep clean. Also, it took off all of my makeup including my mascara and eyeliner. This would save on products in the bathroom if you're looking to reduce clutter. I tried both the Dream Clean and Quench Cleanse and loved them both equally. I also tried the Calm Balm moisturizer. I will say the scent on this wasn't quite what I was expecting. I think it was the cucumber. It isn't bad, just a little shocking if you aren't expecting it. The last skincare product I tried was the Masque of Zen. This stuff made my face feel like it could finally breathe. My skin has been acting funny and this seemed to reset it. I absolutely loved this!

Now for makeup!
Foundation: I used shade Olive 1 and it was such a good match! Jen had warned me that a little goes a very long way. Which is perfect for building coverage! Some days you just don't need a ton of coverage and this foundation is not only perfect for those days but also the days where you need full coverage. It's definitely another product that pulls double-duty if you're decluttering in the new year!
Eyeshadow: I got two shades - Brownie Points and a dark grey that I actually have no clue what the name is. The back says Lullaby but I couldn't find it online. Honestly grey isn't a color that looks good on my skin so I passed on that one. But the Brownie Points shade is a dark brown and I used the crap out of brown eyeshadow! To really test its staying power, I used it with no eyelid primer. And y'all. It didn't crease! I could literally sit on my couch and not move all day and my eyeshadow will still crease without primer. The color was easily buildable so you could use just a little bit for a hint of color or go all out and use it in a smokey eye.
Eyeliner: I've been using a liquid eyeliner pen for a while now and I don't think I'll ever go back. My favorite thing about this pen was just how smooth it went on. The tip is ultra-fine (perfect for creating a cat-eye look!) and I was surprised at just how much color came out of the tip. I absolutely loved this eyeliner!
Mascara: I have to preface this by saying I did use disposable mascara wands. So I can't speak much to the ability of the brush itself. It has a ton of bristles though so I imagine it prevents clumping pretty well. As for the mascara itself, it went on super easily and again it was easy to put on a couple coats and build up the volume and length. Since I didn't use the actual wand, I can't say much more about it, but what I did get to try I was impressed with!
Signature Lip Gloss, Perfect Lipstick, and Enduring Lip Color: Ah lip stick. My favorite way to amp up any makeup look. Out of the three I tried, I'm obsessed with the Enduring Lip Color! It's like a matte lipstick but it goes on a little more like a gloss but moisturizes like a good lip balm. And the color! It's super pigmented. I tried Salted Caramel and it was a gorgeous caramel color that gave me major fall vibes. I totally loved how long it lasted, but more than that I loved that it didn't wear unevenly like a lot of matte lipsticks tend to do. The Perfect Lipstick in FemFire was super smooth and I liked that I got to try a sheer color. It's a little more like a tinted lip balm, but again it's buildable (noticing a theme here?). The Signature Lip Gloss in Hope is probably the perfect pink lipgloss. It gave enough color that you know it's pink, but glossy enough to be sheer and shiny. Seriously I can't get over how much I loved the pink color!

I snapped this picture before heading to Indy last weekend. It was a little more of a natural look (minus the eyeliner😂) but here you can see the Signature Lip Gloss in Hope. It's such a good pink!

Overall, I was really impressed with LimeLight! Now I've tried Mary Kay makeup before, and while I like their skincare products, I've never been blown away by their makeup like I was LimeLight. It's about the same price point as Mary Kay, so it's not cheap stuff. Obviously you could find dupes for probably everything at the drugstore, but I do believe that you get what you pay for. I think because they started with stage and film makeup, they really know what goes into making a great, long-lasting, multi-purpose product. If you want more info, reach out to my friend Jen by visiting her LimeLight website or checking out her Facebook page.

Have you tried LimeLight? Are you interested? I want to know!


Friday, January 6, 2017

Cents of Style Boot Sale

This post contains affiliate, and I will earn a small commission if you shop through them.

Hey y'all! It is so cold in Ohio today! I drove into work and it was 6 degrees. Brrrr. But I had to let you all know about the amazing sale Cents of Style is having on their boots this weekend. Get this: every single pair of boots they sell is on sale. But only this weekend! Here in the midwest we're just getting into our winter season so I'll definitely be wearing boots for a while. Plus, they include booties in the sale which make great transition shoes for spring! I included some images of the options below. Click here to go to the sale and use the code BOOTSALE at checkout!

Use code BOOTSALE at checkout for this amazing sale, but only through this weekend!
These would make great transition booties in the spring!

Remember this sale only goes through this weekend so make sure you grab your pair (or two!) before it ends! Use code BOOTSALE at checkout.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Goals for 2017

How has your 2017 been? Hopefully since we're only on day 2 it's been going well! But if not, each day is a new day to start fresh so don't be discouraged! I thought I would share my goals for 2017 with y'all. It's partially a way for me to remember what I want to accomplish and partially a way for y'all to keep me accountable. Let's jump right in!

1. Graduate. I've been waiting for 2017 for a long time. This is finally the year that I get my PhD (Lord willing!). The goal is that by August I will be Dr. Ashley. How crazy?! It feels like just yesterday I was moving to Ohio and meeting people who would grow to be some of my best friends. To finally be in a place where I see the light at the end of the tunnel feels amazing!!

2. Take control of my weight. I've always struggled with my weight. I have PCOS (read a little more about it here) so it's hard for me to lose weight. In fact, last summer all of my blood work came back saying I'm incredibly healthy - imagine the frustration when I train for and run a half-marathon but I still fit my same clothes *eye roll*. But I'm starting this year nice and fresh by participating in Fit Girl's 28 Day Jumpstart. I love this program because it lays out exactly what you eat for every single meal. And every recipe is made for one person (#singlelife) so it's super easy to follow. Plus, I get pizza three times a week so I think it's a win! I also decided to try a 30 day free trial of Daily Burn since 1. it's too cold for me to run (I'm a wimp I know!) and 2. I just don't have the energy to drive to the gym every day. So we'll see how it goes! I may go to the gym a couple days a week because I love free weights, but at least I have a program at home that I can easily switch up if I'm getting bored.

3. Grow my blog. I was so surprised when I looked back at the growth of my blog in 2016! I tripled my pageviews in just one year! I have a couple plans for the blog in 2017 that I'm excited to share with y'all! I've gotten to the point where I want to start investing in my blog more because I think it needs it. Slash I love the excuse to do something creative with my time. One of the first things I plan on doing is starting a newsletter! I haven't quite figured out how I want it to look (hence no sign up just yet!) but as soon as I do I'll be sure to let y'all know!

4. Growing with the Lord. There's a lot that goes into this goal. First, I want to be more intentional about my quiet time. I'm terrible at having regular quiet time so this year I would like to find a time during the day where I can stick to it. I also want to grow in living in faith this year. I'm coming up on the biggest change in my life and it's looking like I'm being pulled away from Indiana which is a little frightening. But I don't want to go through this change in fear - I want to be a woman of faith who trusts where the Lord is taking her. My church actually had an amazing sermon about this yesterday which just affirmed that this is meant to be a goal of mine and the Lord is already preparing me to live a life of faith and not a life of fear. Click here to listen to the sermon called Faith and Fear in the New Year. Pastor Garrett really brought it today!

Those are my goals for 2017! Obviously I have lots of tiny goals but those are the big four that act as umbrella goals for pretty much everything else. I'm excited for 2017 and to bring y'all along on what is already shaping up to be a crazy year! Do you have any big goals for the year? I'd love to hear about them!


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