Monday, December 30, 2013

Bring It On!

December 30, 2012 via Facebook
This New Year's Eve marks 6 years of being smoke free for D and I. We've been smoke free for so long now it seems like another life. It's been another great year, one of the best in awhile.. We moved, AGAIN, but this time into the home I'm confident we'll be in until retirement. The last half of the year has been great for me personally. I've grown so much and in ways I never thought possible- never say never . I'm looking forward to growing new and old friendships, our trip to Maui, and continuing to take care of myself mentally and physically in the upcoming year. Thanks to all my friends and family for the wonderful times in 2012. Bring on 2013!!!

I'm looking forward to pretty much the same things in 2014 (minus the trip to Maui damn it).  Personal Growth, Growing Friendships and Learning To Take Care Of Myself are at the forefront of my mind and have been for some time now.  This year has been full of ups and downs, good times and bad, and lots of life's little lessons.  I've had a good run, but I'm ready for a new beginning.  Before I say goodbye to 2013 though I wanted to share a few of my favorite memories from the year.

April marked 8 fabulous years of marriage for D and I , and we celebrated big time by spending 10 nights at the Four Seasons in Maui.  Don't be too envious folks, we hadn't taken a "real" vacation since our honeymoon.

In June we spent one of the best days ever having lunch at our favorite summer spot and then attending the La Jolla Festival of the Arts.  When we woke up, we had not plans.  We just went wherever the wind took us and it was a great day.

In July we randomly booked a flight two hours before departure and went to Las Vegas for the trip of a lifetime.  We've never been so lucky and it was just what we needed at the time.  Two nights at the Wynn, dinner at our favorite restaurant, Sinatra, a cabana by the pool and spa treatments to boot.  I still think about our little getaway on a regular basis. 

In September my little brother and I took our first trip together as adults, it will forever be one of my favorite memories of he and I.
 I started Brass Honey, we went to Padre games, Charger games, we had more date nights, we found "our" breakfast place, we put new windows in at the house, we laughed, we screamed, we cried.  It was another good year.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and nothing but health and happiness in 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Night Away, Alone

The above is an excerpt from my journal dated August 6, 2012.  There are many like it, little reminders to myself to slow down, to take time out, and to work to find inner peace.  Unfortunately for now, 8 days out of 10, my mind runs at the speed of a freight train.  Slowing it down is a struggle and takes a great deal of work.  I've seen glimpses of the calm beautiful woman that lives at my core though.  I treasure her.  She's a better wife, a better person in general, so I continue to do the work it takes to bring her out.  

If I'm honest, it's a lot of work.  I'm human, I get caught up in work, life, and in little dramas.  When things are at their worst, I feel like a pit bull trying to jump or dig out from behind a chain link fence.  It's not pretty and it's exhausting.  Last weekend before our Christmas vacation, and in an attempt to find peace, I went away alone for the first time ever.

This was a planned getaway, agreed upon by D and I, but in the days leading up to my night away, I felt guilty.  Guilty for spending the money on myself, guilty for wanting to leave my family.  "Normal" people don't go away alone do they?  There was a lesson to be learned though, and I knew it, so when Saturday arrived, I kissed D goodbye and I made the drive to the The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe.

Within three hours of checking in, I had walked the grounds of the Inn, walked the town of Rancho Santa Fe, had dinner at the Inn's restaurant and had started watching My Best Friends Wedding.  Not exactly a calm quiet afternoon right.  I poured myself a second glass of wine and walked out onto my deck to enjoy the sunset. 

Why was I drinking?  Not to relax, but to stimulate myself.  I poured the wine out and went back inside.

Later that evening the guests in the room above me started making noise and at that very moment I realized that going away to this beautiful Inn and leaving my home full of all of it's lovely distractions (tv's, ipads, D etc.) wasn't going to make the noise stop.  I went to bed early and woke before dawn.

The moon was still out.  Breakfast wasn't served until 7:00 so I walked the grounds again, only this time with a quiet mind.  In the light of day, I knew why I was there, at the Inn.  My night away was just another attempt to lure the beautiful woman I know is there out.  I've said it a million times.  While I've made mistakes in my life, I have no regrets and in the end, when it's all said and done, the only thing that will cause me any distress is if I don't find a way to be at peace. 

The day before hadn't been a success because peace doesn't come because you're in a peaceful place.  A quiet calm mind is a way of being.  It doesn't go away because you're had a stressful day at work, because you're having issues with your mom, or because you're working on a big project.  It takes work, hard work, and lots of gentle reminders.

Here's to continuous process improvement.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Vacation

Merry Christmas friends!  D are I are headed east to New Jersey bright and early tomorrow morning to spend Christmas with family.  Before I go, I wanted to say thank you for all of the support you've shown me over the last few months.  It means so much to me to have each and everyone of you here.  Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.  I'll see you back here on Sunday the 29th, just in time for the New Year! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Favorite Friday v. 9

Hello friends!  I've missed you all.  I hope you've had a great week and that you're getting ready to enjoy some time away from work in celebration of Christmas.  Between a busy work schedule, hosting a holiday party for 200 (the day job), a girls night out and a meltdown, this week's gotten away from me.  Alas, I'm here with this weeks favorite and my Christmas blouse.
I immediately fell in love with the wine color and the buttons down the back.  This top is so feminine and flowy, and I just couldn't resist.  I initially wanted to wear a dress on Christmas but the east coast temps had me rethinking my wardrobe choice.  I'll pair this blouse with a pair of black denim and these earrings.  Do you guys have a special something picked out for your Christmas outfit.  I'd love to see what you'll be wearing.

Talk soon and happy Friday!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Surviving The Holidays When Your Family Is Not Who You Want Them To Be

There's a reason Ellen was smoking "again", it's the same reason so many of us love and relate to the movie Christmas Vacation.  The holidays are about family and togetherness and for a large majority of us, our families are not who we'd like them to be.

I'm not gonna get into all the gory details about my family, and it's not because I'm afraid to share that part of my life with you.  There will be a time and a place for that, I promise.  It's just that I don't think this is it.  My personal story won't help you learn to accept or deal any better with the disappointment that may be your family.  Chances are your disappointment looks completely different than mine, and even if it didn't and it helped you to feel like you weren't alone, wouldn't you want to take it a step further and learn how to deal, rather than just finding someone to commiserate with?

Before I start you should know that I'm in no way an expert, unless spending years in therapy AS A PATIENT makes you a pro.  I didn't think so.  I've struggled for years trying to find contentment at the holidays, almost always feeling let down.  With that said, I have learned a few very important things, lowering my expectations is critical.  Setting boundaries for myself and then never EVER crossing them, equally as critical.

These two things will make the holidays a lot less painful, even dare I say it, enjoyable.  Some advice now.

1. Go in with no expectations.  Hard to do right, almost impossible.  I mean we all want our mothers to be in our childhood home baking cookies and cooking up a storm.  Dad's outside hanging Christmas lights, the house is decorated to the nines.  Christmas music plays lightly in the background while grandma and grandpa who have been married for 50 years sit by the fire holding hands.  You and your siblings with all of your families fly home for the holiday, a packed house.  All is cozy and warm etc. etc. etc.  If your family life looks like that, I am truly happy for you, but that's not the norm.

When you have high expectations (like Clark and I did) it's hard not to be disappointed, no matter how wonderful Christmas might be.  Now add in real life.  Maybe you have a mother-in-law that brings out feelings of inferiority because she makes comments about your homemaking skills, or you have a sister that you haven't talked to in years, your father passed away, you lost a baby, you lost your job.  High expectations and reality look totally different don't they?  No family can ever live up to the family that you've dreamed up in your mind so all your doing is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Ditch your expectations.

2.  Get away and take breaks.  D and I have a very quiet and peaceful home so heading into a house full of aunts, cousins, nieces and in-laws is going to be overwhelming and overstimulating.  Poor Margo and Todd weren't the assholes they were made out to be, they were just normal people who had their peaceful existence completely disrupted when the Griswold's extended family literally rolled into town.  I mean how would you feel if you looked out your window and saw this.

When your family gets to be too much or your feeling overwhelmed, take a break.  Head out for a walk, or to lunch and a cocktail (my personal favorite).  When you get back you'll have relaxed and you'll be ready for round two.  Besides there's no reason you need to spend every waking minute of your family visit with your family. 

3.   Don't be afraid to spend Christmas alone.  That might sound sad to some of you, but if you've managed to ditch your expectations, it really can be quite nice.  When we're not on the east coast with D's family, more often than not, we spend the holiday here in our home, just the two of us.  Full disclosure, ditching expectations is HARD and I went years feeling incredibly lonely over the holidays because I was away from my make believe family.  It took me a really long time to get to where I am today, but now that I'm here, I actually prefer the holiday at home, just D and me.

Nothing says you need a house full of people to celebrate Christmas.  We always make a huge meal.  The table is set beautifully, our china is out, the ice bucket is full of chilled champagne, Christmas music plays softly in the background.  The tree is lit and the house is decorated.  Sometimes we'll stay in our pajamas all day watching Christmas movies.  It's peaceful and calm and it's absolutely perfect.

I know the holidays can be tough.  If you'll be spending Christmas with your not so perfect family, take my advice and ditch the expectations, take time out for yourself and if all else fails it's not too late to stay home.

Have a great week friends.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift Guide For Him, By Him

Lantern | Hoodie | Christmas Vacation Moose Mugs | ipad | Guitar | Lamp | Xbox 1 | Boots | Slippers

So D didn't actually put this post together, but he was kind enough to share his Christmas list with me.  My guess is that shopping for most guys probably isn't an easy feat, so I thought some inside scoop might be nice.  D has some unconventional interests (mainly his love of Slayer) but it would be easy to swap the Slayer guitar for memorabilia from your guys favorite band, or the Philadelphia Flyers hoodie for one from your dudes favorite sports team.  Let's face it ladies, while a v-neck sweater and box of cigars might work for some guys, gift giving isn't one size fits all.  These men are more complicated than we give them credit for.

I'd LOVE to hear what some of your best gift giving ideas for your guys have been.  What went over well?  Share your successes with us.  
And now a very special gift for one of you.  Let me first say I loved reading all of your "little blog" recommendations.  I added many of them to my reading list, so a big thank you!.  And now for our winner.  Congratulations first ever giveaway winner, ROBIN WILLIAMS.  Check your inbox Robin

See you all back here Friday with my Friday Favorite.

P.S for you new bloggers.  I wanted to share that I used for today's giveaway (I used the list randomizer) and it couldn't have been easier.  Bonus, it's free.  I looked into rafflecopter, but there's a fee associated and let's be real, this is a low budget operation :).  It also didn't seem very user friendly.  Anyways, if you plan on hosting any sort of giveaway, give a try.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tips For Traveling Over Christmas

Plain and simple, you're gonna wanna to lose your shit.  Just looking at the image above gives me anxiety.  But hey, there's no place like home for the holidays right, so we pack our bags, we prepare the best we can, and we hope in the end there are no casualties.  

Every other year D and I head to the east coast to spend Christmas with D's family.  With the crowds and the unpredictable weather (especially this year!) you never know what you're gonna get.  Over the years I've learned a few things that help make holiday travel a little less stressful, here goes.

1. Fly direct and first class if you can. I know this isn't always possible depending on your destination or your budget, but whenever it is, spend the extra money.  Travel horror stories always include tales of long layovers or missed connections.  D and I don't exchange Christmas presents, instead we treat ourselves to a direct flight.  Unfortunately first class was out of the question this year, but there's always hope.  Did you guys know that if first class isn't sold out at the time of check in, you can generally upgrade for around $150 a person?  That's money well spent on long flights.

 2. Stock up on your drugs.  If you take any meds, call in your refills now.  I can't tell you how many times I've gone to pack and realized I was almost out of a medication.  The last thing you want to do the night before a big trip is wait in a long line at your local drug store (there will be plenty of time for long lines at the airport). 

 3. Make sure you phone is charged.  Part of keeping you sanity means keeping yourself entertained.  You don't want is to be stranded at the airport for hours without end with a dead phone do you?

 4. Get there extra early.  I know you're probably thinking that the last thing you want to do is to get to the airport extra early, but I promise it's not.  The last thing you want to do is miss your flight!  It happened to D and I a few trips back.  We ended up stuck in Baltimore because the lines to get through security were so long, arriving an hour before our flight just didn't cut it.  Besides, remember if you want a chance to upgrade to first class, you've got to get there before someone beats you to the punch. 

5. Know the rules.  Don't be one of those people holding up the lines to get through security.  Even worse, don't have your favorite perfume or lotion in your handbag because chances are, you'll have to toss them.  I learned the hard way and lost my $50 face moisturizer on a trip up to Northern California.  If you haven't flown in awhile, be sure to check out TSA's website
6. Have a drink.  Yep, I said it.  Once you get through security go have a cocktail (I don't care if it's 7a.m. think mimosa).  It will help take the edge off and will keep you from flipping out on the child kicking the back of your seat.  If you're really feeling crazy, have another once you board the plane, maybe you'll get lucky and will fall asleep.

7. Buy your favorite magazine.  Keeping yourself entertained, remember.

8. Bring a snack.  Airport food is gross, not to mention expensive.  Bring some pretzels and a bag of your favorite candy.  I don't know about you guys, but things go downhill real fast when I get hungry.

9. Dress in layers.   Did you know that most airlines don't provide pillows or blankets anymore (budget cuts).  If you get cold, you're on your own so dress in layers so that you have options.  Comfort is key.

10. Stand out from the crowd.  I've had a cobalt Samsonite hard shell suitcase for at least 8 years now.  The thing is indestructible and so easy to spot rolling down the conveyor belt.  If you don't have bold blue luggage that's ok, just be sure to do something to help your bag stand out from the crowd (attach a flashy luggage tag or tie a big red bow to it). 

And just one more thing before I go.  More of a request than a tip really, but something that I think would make holiday travel a bit calmer for all of us.  Parents with small children, can you PLEASE fly with your children during the day and not at night after both you and I have been working all day?  Despite your best intentions, your child is not going to sleep.  They're going to cry and scream and throw fits because it's late, they're in a strange place, they're tired and you're stressed.  Do us all a favor, yourselves included, and please take a morning or afternoon flight.  That's it and thank you!

So guys, I'd love to hear your tps and tricks for surviving holiday travel.  What do you do to keep sane?


Monday, December 9, 2013

Little Blogs, And A Little Giveaway!

Hello friends.  I hope you all had a great weekend.  There was something magical in the air here.  I'm not sure what it was, but I had one of the best weekends of my LIFE.  D and I woke up early on Saturday and went to breakfast at this tiny little spot we've been spending a lot of our Saturday mornings at lately.  It's not our typical type of place, which is probably what I'm loving about it (they serve Foldgers!)  Anyways after breakfast we decorated our Christmas tree and decked out the house.  There was lots of rain and a rainbow, and no cell phones or ipads, and chicken nachos for dinner.  I spent Sunday alone blogging, walking on the beach and enjoying a perfectly quiet house.  It was just what I needed, all of it.  If only the weekend could last forever, but alas, it's Monday, I'm off to work and it's time for a post. 
So I spent a good three hours browsing blogs on my Bloglovin' reading list this weekend.  I clicked on every last one, which up until yesterday was 308!  Nobody with a day job and a life can manage to read 308 blogs on the regular, so I spent another three hours paring down.  The conscientious, I like "little blogs".  Blogs that are just starting out or that don't have huge numbers of readers (yet).  I've heard it said that in the early stages of blogging you disclose too much, but that's what I find endearing about the "little blogs".  I think a lot of other people do too, so today I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.  Hopefully none of you are offended by being referred to as "little". 

I hope you'll all take a look, and then I'd love for you to share your favorite "little blogs" in the comments below.  If you do, consider yourself entered to win this  Happy Hour clutch, purchased by me especially for one of you.  I'll be using to select a winner on Wednesday morning.  Good luck all and happy Monday!

I Will Come Home
Designing A Life
Much To My Delight
Tossing The Script
Emily Anne
Dan In Real Life
Food, Booze And Baggage 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Favorite Friday v. 8

First things first, happy Friday guys!  I don't know about you, but I am so ready for the weekend.  D and I will be getting our Christmas tree and decorating the house tomorrow.  Have you guys decorated for Christmas yet?  I feel like we're kind of getting a late start, but hey, better late than never.  

So as you'll see below I had some trouble picking a favorite this week.  I decided that as the master and creator of this blog that I could go ahead and give myself a break though, so this week I'll be sharing two favorites.  The more the merrier right!

Don't get excited, my content creating skills haven't skyrocketed (all images

Do you guys remember this dress?  I snapped a pic of myself wearing it and posted it to Instagram a few weeks back.  We'll this dress is by the same designer, Presley Skye.  Up until last month I had never heard of the brand, but it's quickly becoming a favorite.  The fit and quality are amazing and the prices are definitely right.  I want to snap this dress up like NOW.

And then there's this gorgeous necklace by Cara.  If you don't know this about me yet, I love huge jewelry, always have (even before it was cool).  People use to tell me that the pieces I wore were gaudy or old ladyish, but I've been a sucker for statement jewelry since I can remember.  I feel like this piece is glam but also very Cleopatra in a way.  I love it!!!

So that's it for this week.  I hope you guys have an amazing weekend.  I'll be back next week with:

 A Gift Guide For Him, By Him
Tips For Traveling Over Christmas
Making It Through The Holidays When Your Families Not Who You'd Like Them To Be

Is There Anybody Out There Part 4, Volume 2

Hey guys!  As promised I'm back with more.  Just when you thought you'd heard enough blog talk right?  Well don't worry, for those of you seeking the superficial, I'll be back tomorrow with my Friday Favorite.  For now though, let's talk shop.
Today I'll be covering:
-Not meeting my personal goals
-Creating a blogging schedule and sticking to it.        
-Why you shouldn’t pay for a blog design until you've been a blogger for at least a few months.
-And how happy I am that D is finally taking my blogging seriously.
So first up, not meeting my personal goals.  I know this is going to sound incredibly silly to some of you, but somewhere along the lines I decided I needed to reach the 100 reader (I absolutely hate the term "followers") mark by the end of November.  One hundred people I don't know reading my blog seemed like a good number to me so all month long I focused on getting there.  Some days I'd pick up 3 or 4 readers and I thought for sure I'd meet my goal, but alas, I fell short by 8 readers.  
Initially, I was down on myself (you didn't market enough, you're not mainstream enough, etc.), then I made excuses (nobody was online over the holiday, it's not me, it's them) then I looked at my growth since I started in August and I gave myself a reality check.  I've managed to grow this little blog 20 to 30 readers a month all by myself.  I haven't sponsored other bloggers, I haven't plastered my badge all over a million blogs.  I've spent a lot of time writing sincere comments on relevant posts and darn it, 92 readers is great!
So in typical fashion I'm going to lay it out for you guys (month by month).  Please keep in mind I'm combining GFC, Bloglovin Brass Honey and Bloglovin' Shannon Kerns numbers.
After my first month of blogging I had 9 readers
After my second month of blogging I had 38 readers
After my third month of blogging I had 61 readers
And finally after my fourth month of blogging I had 92 readers

With that said, I still want my beloved 100 readers but I know my time will come and I'm not stressing about it.  Besides, quality over quantity right.  And as I've said before, nothing in this crazy blog world seems to come quickly, except maybe the time in between posts, ha!

That's actually a great segue into my next topic, creating a blogging schedule.  I hate to admit this but I've been struggling with balance again.  The momentum I gained in November sent me into overdrive and I've been spending a TON of time blogging and not so much time doing much of anything else.  I've never really had a set posting schedule, I've always just said that I'd post 3 to 4 times a week, but I've found myself posting more than that lately.  And let's be honest, posting is really only the half of it.  In an attempt to put some normalcy back in my life I've created the following blog schedule.  

4-5 hours of content creation and networking at my leisure
Lunch: Book a conf. room at work and catch-up on Bloglovin’

After work: Me time, wine, The Real Housewives, Vanderpump Rules and Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Lunch: Book a conf. room at work and catch up on Bloglovin’

5:00-9:00 P.M: Content creation
Lunch: Book a conf. room at work and catch up on Bloglovin’

5:00-9:00 P.M: Content creation
Go out to lunch!

5:00-9:00 P.M: Content creation
Lunch: Book a conf. room at work and catch up on Bloglovin’

After work: Date night/time with D      
3-4 hours of content creation and networking at my leisure

 So far this schedule is working and best of all it sets boundaries for me and let's D know what to expect.  I'm very interested in knowing whether you guys keep a blogging schedule and if you do, how do you split your time between networking and creating content?

Not quite the nice segue here, but hey we're moving on from schedules and onto blog design.  Let me start by saying a few things before I jump right in.
1. I don't hate my blog design.
2. My blog was designed by Marquis at Clarke Creative Design.  Marquis was amazing, quick and so easy to work with.  She charges very reasonable rates and I would highly recommend her.
Can you feel the but coming???  Really, it's nobodies fault but my own, I jumped the gun (typical Shannon).  I didn't give myself or my blog a chance to become anything before I spent the money to have it designed.  I used tabs and side bars I saw other bloggers using.  I figured if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me.  After 2 weeks I think I had used up my 2 blog edits and after 3 months, I'd change at least a few dozen things.  
That's just the tip of the iceberg though.  The even bigger issue I have is that when you first start blogging (despite even you're best intentions) you're trying to fit in.  The pink and yellow on this blog are so not me.  I'm not a cutesy twenty-something, I'm in my mid-thirties and I like dark jewel tones.  Think deep teals and warm ambers.  The font isn't me either.  I'm bold and kind of in your face, not so much of a curly-q cursive kind of girl.  In the design phase, Marquis was nice enough to present me with two completely different looks, one of which was much more me and I opted for this (who says peer pressure isn't real).  As I said earlier, I don't hate this blog design, I just wish I had given myself a chance to find my bearings before I committed to something this big.  
Ah commitments, that brings me to D.  Let me fill you in a little on D and I.  If you're going through a breakup you may want to stop reading now (warning over).  D and I are indeed what you would call the "lucky ones".  I think we literally fell in love the night we met and that feeling hasn't wavered one bit.  We've gotten ourselves out of enormous debt, we've moved across the country multiple times, we've lost parents, we've "dealt" with parents, we've pretty much run the gamut in our 10 years together.  
Now, I'm not making excuses for D because believe me, there have been a number of time where I've felt like he's been completely non supportive of this little venture of mine, but what I will say is that when you've found "the one", you tend to worry about them.  D is and always has been very protective of my mental and emotional well being and lets face it, this whole blogging thing has created some waves in our pretty calm pool.  
From the get go D made it clear that he knew nothing about blogs nor did he see the point in blogging.  What he did know was that I was stressed out, spending lots of my time on something that seemed to be bringing me nothing but troubles and that it was disturbing our otherwise very predictable lives.  
As the months have passed, he's gotten use to the idea.  I can have a conversation with him now without him getting annoyed or without me getting annoyed because he didn't seem to care.  I think by now you all know that his blog means more to me than anything has in a really long time.  For my partner not to have gotten that, it was painful.  In the last month, he's driven me to Newport Beach for the Kendra Scott launch, he's taken outfit posts, he's debugged my affiliate links and more importantly he's taken in interest in this new and very important part of my life.  He won't be promoted to VP of Brass Honey anytime soon, but we're getting there and that means so much to me.  Bloggers, when you started blogging, what did your partners think?
Readers, do your partners know you read blogs?
I can only imagine what the next month will have in store for me, whatever it is there, I'm here and ready for it.  If you've made it all the way to the bottom of this post, THANK YOU!  The sheer fact that you're here with me right now going though this meas more than you know.
Have a great day!