2nd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Austin, TX

2nd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Austin, TX

For our 2nd anniversary, Sean and I traveled to Austin, TX and had our photoshoot and vow renewal at our picturesque AirBnb.

I’m working backwards as my previous post was our 3rd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Charlotte, NC. You’ll notice that in the photos in this post, Sean and I look much younger and less beaten down by the doom and gloom of 2020 – just kidding!

Austin, TX

Sean is my biggest love but my next biggest love might be my love for the city of Austin, TX. When just planning our anniversary trip to Austin, I was already falling head over heels for the activities, vibes, and food in Austin. When we arrived for our vacation, those feelings were confirmed. Austin is a badass city! I can see why so many people are moving there everyday.

The Pros

When searching for a photographer, I knew that I was looking for someone who had a vibrant and quirky style for this shoot. I searched Austin photographer hashtags and looked at what photographers wedding vendors had tagged in their photos on Instagram. I actually had to search for a while and then finally came across Bonnie & Lauren. Bonnie was available and was so excited to capture our vow renewal tradition! After Bonnie was secured, I asked her who she recommends for hair and makeup. She suggested Lavish Beauty ATX and Jen was available to glam me up for the shoot. Done and done!

photo in airbnb in austin,tx
All photos by Bonnie Burke

For our trip to Austin, Sean and I booked this awesome AirBnb and we knew that it would also be the perfect location for our shoot! Visiting Austin and need a place to stay? I highly recommend it! We hope that we can stay there again someday.

photo of couple on a bright blue couch
photo of couple on a bright blue couch
photo of couple on a bright blue couch

It had the most photo-worthy furniture which we definitely utilized throughout the shoot!

photo of the couple laughing on the bed

And a bedroom with striped walls that I couldn’t get enough of!

photo of couple on the bed
photo of couple on the bed
photo of couple kissing on the bed

Holding hands and kissing on the bed felt super intimate yet relaxed. If you have an adorable bedroom setup in your home, why not shoot there?

photo of couple outside with coffee

Time for an outfit change (and to actually put on shoes)! When we moved outside to the pool area, we had to grab some lifestyle shots doing one of our favorite things – drinking coffee!

photo of couple standing
close up photo of couple standing

We moved to the other side of the pool for a greenery backdrop and for our first standing photos of the day!

photo of couple in front of greenery in austin tx
headshot of Sean
headshot of Mollyann

Ready for your closeup? Why not grab some individual headshots during a couple’s photoshoot! It always comes in handy to have a recent headshot on hand.

photo of vow renewal in the breezeway

When it came time for our vow renewal, we chose to read our vows in the breezeway. It was a very picturesque and shaded spot!

Handwritten vows are so precious!

photo of reading vows
photo of vow renewal kiss
photo of couple with vow books

Always sealed with a kiss afterwards just like the wedding day.

photo of couple swimming in the pool

After we finished shooting in our two planned outfits, Bonnie, Sean, and I all realized how cool it would be to also shoot in the pool. I mean, it was our favorite part of the Air Bnb and it was the perfect place to escape from that intense Texas heat! Sean and I quickly changed into our bathing suits and got some bonus pool shots!

photo of couple standing on the pool steps
photo of couple in the pool
photo of couple in the pool

I’m so glad that we jumped in and just went for it – these turned out to be some of my favorite shots of the day!

close up photo in the pool
close up photo in the pool
photo of kissing in the pool

I love all of the variety and different outfits in this shoot! It’s like a lot of mini shoots all wrapped into one. We really had a blast and I’m impressed that we managed to pull off three outfits in an hour! If you want to do the same, have all of your outfits planned out and accessories set aside and organized for a quick change. There’s no time to be rifling through your closet when you are paying your photographer by the hour. Plus, it will leave you feeling flustered and that’s not a good look in photos.

Colors

Red has always been one of my favorite flattering colors to wear but it is a pretty bold color. I like how the floral print and Sean’s light blue chambray shirt toned it down a bit for these photos.

2019 was really the year that I realized how much happiness the color yellow brings to your life. I felt like the turquoise earrings, yellow midi dress, and the print on Sean’s shirt all felt very “Texas” without wearing cowboy boots and all.

Kudos

Bonnie seriously blew me away. She is so… rad! She did not hesitate to do whatever it took to get the shot. Whether that was moving furniture or moving around us to get the perfect angle, she did it without hesitation. Also, she delivered some highlight photos the same day as the shoot and delivered the whole album two days later. See, I told you that she is rad!

Photo of Bonnie by Diana Ascarrunz

Bad news, Bonnie & Lauren is no more. But good news, they have both gone solo and Bonnie has launched Bonnie Burke Weddings! She’s seriously the bomb.

Jen with Lavish Beauty ATX made me feel gorgeous! She was very professional and was delightful to talk to while she was dolling me up. Since this shoot, when makeup artists have asked me to show them photos of how I would like my makeup done, I show them photos of Jen’s handiwork on my face. I loved everything about it! I feel like I look like myself, but the best version of myself.

Next up, is our 1st Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Seattle, WA that started it all!

3rd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Charlotte, NC

3rd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Charlotte, NC

The Tradition

Every year for our anniversary, Sean and I have a tradition where we travel and explore a new city, book a photoshoot, and renew our vows (perhaps this was inspired by our Paris Honeymoon Photoshoot?!). We read our original wedding vows and write new vows every year. It’s a great way to consistently remind each other of the promises that we have made to each other in our marriage. This also ensures that we have updated photos each year!

Charlotte, NC

This year for our 3rd anniversary, we decided to enjoy a staycation in Charlotte, NC. Since we had just moved to CLT and finished unpacking, the thought of packing up a suitcase and traveling again so soon didn’t sound very appealing. Plus this was a great opportunity for us to document this next (and quite unexpected) chapter in our lives. Since we are new to town we are practically exploring the city every day already!

The Pros

I searched for Charlotte photographers on the ‘gram and saw that @kevyndixonphoto was already following me. Her style was exactly what I was looking for! Fortunately she had the date available and it was an easy choice. After booking Kevyn Dixon Photography, I wanted to get a hair and makeup artist who could make me feel my very best and photo ready so Kevyn recommended Cali Stott Artistry. Once Cali and Kevyn were both booked, it was game on!

I had envisioned the photoshoot and vow renewal taking place in an area with a field and water nearby. Since Sean and I are new to the area, Kevyn suggested Clarks Creek Nature Preserve which turned out to be the perfect spot!

photo of couple by the water
photo of couple walking by the water
photo of couple standing by the water

It was a hot, summer day with temperatures over 90 degrees and PLENTY of sunshine!

photo of Mollyann twirling her dress
photo of Mollyann twirling her dress
photo of Mollyann twirling her dress

Even during a couple’s photoshoot, it is important to get some individual shots too! I loved twisting and twirling around in my Anthropologie dress.

photo of Sean walking
photo of Sean walking
photo of Sean walking

Sean’s stroll was definitely photo worthy! Choosing complimentary colors is important for photoshoots, so his heathered olive green J Crew Factory shirt was the perfect choice paired with my white and fuschia embroidered dress. Bonus: He looked very handsome in it!

photo of vow renewal at Clarks Creek Nature Preserve

After we finished shooting by the water, Kevyn scouted out the perfect spot for our vow renewal.

In our vows, we cursed and joked that, “if we can survive 2020, we can survive anything.” Isn’t that the truth?!

photo of couple with hat
photo of couple kissing with hat

Once we finished the actual vow renewal, we got back to shooting some more fun shots. These are some of my favorites!

The hat ended up being an awesome prop! I once heard that if a lady wants to stand out for her fashion, it is not about showing a bunch of skin, just wear a hat that compliments your outfit. It’s legit advice.

photo of Mollyann wearing hat
photo of couple walking
close up photo of couple walking

Consider that tidbit of knowledge your magic hat trick for the day!

couple in prom pose
close up of couple in prom pose
photo of couple facing forward

Prom pose! I always think of these as the photos for your parents and family. Specifically, I’m referring to the photos where both individuals are posed and facing the camera. They are definitely must haves.

photo sitting at Clarks Creek Nature Preserve

Since we did so many standing photos, I wanted to get some seated shots. Kevyn was so kind and got her rain jacket out of her car for me to sit on so that the dewey ground did not ruin my white dress. The great part is that you can’t see that I was sitting on a jacket at all!

photo of couple
photo of couple
photo of couple kissing
photo of Mollyann and Sean

Also one of my favorite shots!

photo of Sean spinning Mollyann
photo of Sean spinning Mollyann
photo of Sean spinning Mollyann

To finish, Sean spun me around for our final shots.

Kudos

Sean and I are both so delighted with our photos and our experience! Kevyn Dixon Photography was amazing to work with. She made us feel relaxed, posed us with ease, and did an excellent job editing the photos and getting them back to us in a timely manner.

Photo by Tricia Michael Photography

It was so much fun having my hair and makeup done by Cali with Cali Stott Artistry! She was so personable and truly a joy to be around. I was really worried that the heat would mess up my hair and makeup but she did a great job and both stayed put.

Photo by Lindley Battle Photography

These ladies were both professional and true pleasures to work with. If you need a hair and makeup artist or a photographer in the Charlotte area, I would highly recommend both of them! They also both do weddings.

Looking for some more anniversary and vow renewal inspiration? Check out my 1st Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Seattle, WA and my 2nd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Austin, TX.

The End of our Nomadic Lifestyle

The End of our Nomadic Lifestyle

This morning, Sean and I picked up the keys (or rather, “key fobs”) which will end our current nomadic lifestyle and give us a place to call home.

photo of keys and key ring
Here they are sitting pretty on my well-loved Oventure Key Ring!

For the past 6 months, we have had the majority of our belongings in storage anticipating an international move to Melbourne, Australia. We have been bouncing back and forth between our parents houses and let me tell you, it has not been easy. A nomadic lifestyle during uncertain times is certainly not ideal. I wrote about it in one of my previous posts, The Announcement | Raleigh to Melbourne when we were 2 months in, and now I have decided to write this post with an update of where we have currently found ourselves in this process.

Australia

The Australian borders are still closed and Melbourne recently went back into a 6 week COVID-19 related lockdown. Major Australian airlines are continuing to cut back on international flights and we have heard that it could be March 2021 or even as late as July 2021 before they open the borders back up. Even when the borders open back up, we still need to wait for our visas, find a place to live in Melbourne, and go through the logistics of the move itself.

Bouncing back and forth between our parents houses was supposed to be a temporary solution, lasting a month or two at most until we could make our international move. We had already started the process of lightening our loads which included getting out of a lease, selling one of our cars, and me leaving my job for a big move, a big move that never happened. Fortunately Sean has been working the whole time, however, I have been out of work and have been feeling anxious and restless.

Decision Time

Determined to not make 2020 feel like a total waste and with the news that our international move will likely not happen until 2021 at the earliest, it was time to re-evaluate our situation.

We have asked ourselves time and time again if it is even worth holding out hope for Australia any longer or if we should just a buy a house and settle. The thought of settling brought up many more questions. If we did settle, where would we settle? Here we are, big explorers and planners in a time where it is difficult to explore and plan anything!

In addition, my work experience lies heavily in events, venue management, and marketing in the hospitality industry which is currently struggling to recover from the fall out of COVID-19. The majority of contacts in my network are currently trying to keep themselves afloat and do what they can to prevent their companies from going out of business. What does that mean for me and my career moving forward?

The Decision

Even with many uncertainties still ahead, we have decided that it is time to get our own place again to ease the strain of our nomadic lifestyle on both ourselves and our families. With Australia likely not being an option until mid 2021, we feel comfortable committing to a lease again.

We toyed with the idea of finding a furnished apartment and keeping our belongings in storage. However, spending these past 6 months without the majority of our belongings and only seeing our cats part-time has convinced us that we would like to reunite all of our items and our little cat family in one place for the foreseeable future.

photo of Charlotte skyline and light rail

Charlotte, NC

You heard it here first! We are making the move to Charlotte, NC! We had the opportunity to spend some time in the Queen City this spring and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Charlotte. There are several charming neighborhoods right outside of Uptown, fantastic greenways and bike lanes, and many restaurants, breweries, and places to explore.

I do have some mixed emotions about making this move. In a big way, it feels like a failure. Moving to Charlotte was never a part of our life plan. It is not as grand of a move as I had been dreaming of and had gotten my hopes up for. However, I do believe that we are still in the middle of our story and it will all make sense in the end. We are fortunate to have family and friends who live nearby in Charlotte and are excited to see what this chapter has in store for us! I’m hoping that I will feel more at ease once we are finally settled into our own place again.

Once our lease ends in the middle of next year, hopefully we will know more about where the move to Australia stands and we can make a better decision on how to proceed from here. In the meantime, I am looking for any Charlotte recommendations you can throw at me! Word of mouth is always the best but so far I have loved using Charlotte Agenda and Charlotte’s Got A Lot as resources for exploring the new city that I am about to call home.

Here are some of my personal Charlotte favorites so far:

Favorite Brewery = Sycamore Brewing

photo of Sycamore Brewing beers
The happy designs on these cans and their beer flavors brought this brewery to the top of my list!

Honorable mentions: Bird Song Brewing Co. and Wooden Robot Brewery

Favorite Outdoor Area = Little Sugar Creek Greenway

photo of me biking on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway
I love biking, walking, or running over these little bridges that cross over the water and I love that this greenway leads right to the Midtown shops as well as to Freedom Park.

Another outdoor area that I am dying to explore is the U.S. National Whitewater Center!

Favorite Restaurant = Hello, Sailor

photo of Hello, Sailor
The Instagrammable vibes and delicious menu make this an easy favorite so far! I recommend sitting on the patio which overlooks Lake Norman.

Honorable mentions: Soul Gastrolounge – you MUST order the pork belly and watermelon tacos!

Also, I wanted to mention that I now have two Instagram accounts for you to follow along. I am working on building up my new account, @mollyannexploresitall but still have my personal account @mollyannrussell as well.

Let me know if there is anything that you would like to see me cover during my time in Charlotte!

6 Book Club Decor Ideas

6 Book Club Decor Ideas

When it was my turn to host my Book Club group, my apartment was too small to accommodate everyone so I held it at The Glass Box in Downtown Raleigh instead. The book was Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and I decided to go all out with the style and decor inspired by the contents of the book and the book cover. Coming up with decor ideas is not always easy so I wanted to share 6 Book Club decor ideas.

photo of Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

It was October, so I challenged myself to create an unconventional fall look out of shades of blue, white, and gold details.

photo of Mollyann decorating
My outfit even matched the theme! All photos by Mikkel Paige

Here are my 6 Book Club Decor Ideas

photo of tablescape
Linens + Flatware: CE Rental | Floral Design: Eclectic Sage

Decor Idea #1: Use spray-painted books.

photo of book decor

I went to a used Book Store and filled several boxes full of 10 cent books. When buying books, I looked for books that were various shades of blue as well as some that could be any color as I planned to spray those books gold. Mixing the blue books with the gold spray painted books throughout the room added some dimension and cohesiveness.

Decor Idea #2: Make personalized bookmark place card favors.

photo of bookmark place card

Who doesn’t like something personalized with their name on it? I painted blank white book marks with watercolor and wrote everyone’s names in a modern gold font on each bookmark. It was functional as everyone had their own place at the table and at the end of the evening, I encouraged everyone to take their bookmarks home as a favor. It certainly beats using receipts/other random pieces of paper as a bookmark!

Decor Idea #3: Set up a DIY Mimosa Bar.

photo of mimosa bar

Who says that food and bev doesn’t count as decor? A DIY serve yourself mimosa bar is always a good idea to have at a gathering with a bunch of ladies! Here I paired the champagne with pink lemonade, orange juice, and cranberry juice.

The confetti flag banner and the ice bucket are both from Target.

Decor Idea #4: Serve “Book Worms”.

photo of book worms

At the mimosa bar, gummy worms were served as “book worms”. The ladies could add a book worm to their mimosas, drape them over the edge of their champagne flutes for a fun look, or just snack on them.

Here you can also see a closeup of one of the white pumpkins. Pumpkins always make for wonderful fall decor. I took a gold paint pen and painted the stems of the pumpkins gold.

Decor Idea #5: Display the actual book.

photo of book and food display

I always bring a copy of each month’s Book Club book with me to Book Club gatherings for an Instagrammable photo op. Here I added the book itself to the food display. For some fun food options, I created a DIY charcuterie board, fruit skewers, and salads in a jar.

Decor Idea #6: Don’t forget dessert!

photo of cake and cupcakes

For dessert, I enlisted the expertise of Sugar Euphoria to create a cake wrapped in sugar paper adorned with pages from the book itself (I had to since Mindy Kaling loves cake so much!) and The Cupcake Shoppe made complimentary cupcakes sprinkled with gold glitter.

photo of Mollyann with floral arrangement

There you have it! My 6 Book Club Decor Ideas. For more photos and dreamy details, visit The Perfect Palette’s blog post, A Spectacular Book Club with Mimosas and Mindy Kaling.

5 Reasons to Book a Photographer During Your Honeymoon | Paris Honeymoon Photoshoot

5 Reasons to Book a Photographer During Your Honeymoon | Paris Honeymoon Photoshoot

I joke that I took my husband, Sean, on his dream honeymoon. We had decided that I was going to focus on planning the wedding and that he was going to focus on planning the honeymoon. He had his heart set on Paris. However, at the time, he was in grad school and I was providing our sole income. I had researched and the cost of plane tickets to get there and back was going to set us back $3000.

However, when you put something that you want out into the universe, it has a way of working itself out. I had shared with a colleague that my husband and I were wanting to go to Paris on our honeymoon and she set an alert for the price of Paris flights. I didn’t think much of it at that time, however, one morning she texted me that the round trip flights to Paris had dropped down to $700! YES! I had opened up a travel rewards points credit card and purchased our tickets on the spot. Paris was a gooooooo!

A few months before our wedding, I went to a conference and shared a room with someone who had been to Paris several times. She gave me so many wonderful recommendations and tips. I wrote them all down on a note on my phone so that I wouldn’t forget. She had also shared photos that a photographer had taken of her and her husband in Paris. I knew that I wanted to book a photographer as well. I reached out to her photographer (it was very important that we booked someone who could speak English) but sadly, she was unavailable. I asked her for some recommendations and fortunately, we were able to book a photoshoot that was within our budget with an English speaking photographer. Once we had the photographer booked, we were able to start planning the rest of our trip and it also gave me some time to find the perfect dress for the shoot!

Here are the top 5 Reasons to Book a Photographer During Your Honeymoon:

#1. Your photos together will not just be a bunch of cell phone selfies.

When it is just you and your new husband/wife on your honeymoon, especially in a country where they speak a foreign language, you don’t just want to hand off your cell phone to a random person to take photos of the two of you. For this reason, you just end up with a lot of selfies.

Exhibit A

#2. Professional photos. Enough said.

When you book a photographer, you can be certain that you will have professional quality photos of your memories captured. Can you say #framers?!

These framers make great home decor and gifts for family!

#3. The photographer knows the lay of the land.

Your photographer is familiar with the area and will know where and when to get the best shots. Unlike you, who are likely visiting this spot for the first time on your honeymoon. Their expertise will make a huge difference.

For this shot of the eiffel tower, we met our photographer at Trocadero at 8am before tourists flooded the area. It was windy and chilly, but totally worth it!

#4. It’s a fun activity!

Getting all dolled up and dressed up for a photoshoot is a lot of fun! It is a completely different experience than the photos on your wedding day. You’ll enjoy snuggling up with your partner with just the photographer as the witness when you are relaxed and in love on your honeymoon. Bliss captured!

#5. You are in tip top shape.

For your wedding, you and your partner likely got in tip top shape. Maybe you sported a spray tan, wore hair extensions, got fake eyelashes, have freshly painted nails – you name it! You both look awesome, why not get some more beautiful photos during this exciting time in your life?

For Sean and I, we were both in great shape, he had just gotten a haircut, and I was still rocking my spray tan, mani/pedi, and eyelash extensions. We were both already photoshoot ready. It was great to have these beauty treatments last through both the wedding and our honeymoon. I felt confident and like I got my money’s worth from these beautifications!

Trust me, it is worth every dime to book a photoshoot during your honeymoon! Do not skip it! Just like your wedding photographer is a must have, a honeymoon photographer is a must have – even if it is just for a one hour session in one outfit like we did. Of course, you can change into multiple outfits and make it more of a production if you would like. The opportunity to capture these once in a lifetime photos with your significant other post nuptials is the perfect way to start off your new life together.

We are so in love with our Paris honeymoon photos and had such a wonderful experience. We would highly recommend working with Sasha of Timeless Paris Photography.

This photoshoot has actually inspired us to continue having photoshoots in various cities on our anniversary every year as well!

9 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Life Beyond Fear | Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

9 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Life Beyond Fear | Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

When I refer to “creative living,” I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

Elizabeth Gibert

I earmarked the page with this quote on it – Page #9. I knew early on that Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert would resonate with my beliefs about leading a creative lifestyle and I was not wrong. Gilbert shared interesting theories and her personal insight to articulate creative living and the mysteries of inspiration in a resounding way.

Here are my 9 biggest takeaways if you want to invite creativity and provoke inspiration in your life:

#1. Don’t ask for permission

“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Have you ever heard that it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission? This definitely applies to living a creative lifestyle however, there should be no reason to need forgiveness. Often your closest friends , family, and loved ones will be skeptical of new endeavors. They raise their concerns and act as though they are doing you a favor. This will only put doubts in your mind. If something creative is calling to you, try and go for it! You don’t need anyone’s permission to do so.

#2. Keep moving

“If you can’t do what you long to do, go do something else. Go walk the dog, go pick up every bit of trash on the street outside your home, go walk the dog again, go bake a peach cobbler, go paint some pebbles with brightly colored nail polish and put them in a pile. You might think it’s procrastination, but – with the right intention – it isn’t; it’s motion. And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

If you feel stuck on something that you are working on, just keep moving. I believe in moving your body for at least 30 minutes each day. My workouts keep me grounded, happy, and strong.⁠ But this is even more than just physically moving. Pick up a hobby even if it is unrelated to your main project. Right now, I have found myself knitting and embroidering. Any movement will spark creativity.

One of my biggest A-HA moments for a project came while I was not sitting and brainstorming but simply taking a scenic walk home from work.

#3. Act upon your ideas

”Inspiration is always trying to work with you. Trust it and it will trust you. The work wants to get made and it wants to be made through you.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Have you ever had an amazing idea but you did not act upon it and then someone else did? Gilbert introduced a theory that ideas and “genius” find people and if that person does not bring that idea to life, it will move onto someone else who will bring it to life. Sometimes you aren’t at the right place to bring the idea to life due to limited resources or other factors that need your attention and focus and that’s ok. But if you say yes to the idea then it’s on! See it through!

#4. Relax and stay light

“So take your insecurities and your fears and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require (and how much you need to pay) in order to become creatively legitimate.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Stay unburdened and relaxed especially when pertaining to your creative endeavors. Do not put too much pressure on your creativity. Have you ever noticed that you feel inspired and creative while on vacation? Creative thoughts are often blocked or strained by stress. Allow yourself to slow down and relax and in return, inspiration will strike.

As I was writing this, my Apple watch agreed. Just breathe.

#5. Don’t be a tortured artist, embrace creativity with gratitude

“Every time you express a complaint about how difficult and tiresome it is to be creative, inspiration takes another step away from you, offended.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

It is common to think of artists as dark, deep people. Often, burdened with addictions and a traumatic past. They are depicted as being isolated while working on their craft and they complain about how hard it is to create their art. Others may view this as the model of an artist and feel that they have to unleash their darkest sides and complain in order to be successful.

This is not the case. Living a creative lifestyle should be enjoyable and bring happiness. You don’t need to feel tortured in order to dig into your creative calling.

#6. Dress to impress your creative side

“I might even put on perfume, for God’s sake. I don’t even put on perfume to go out to dinner, but I will put on perfume in an attempt to seduce creativity back to my side.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Right now, I know that a lot of us our sporting our best loungewear, messy hair, and have likely started showering less. Often it is hard to find motivation in such a state. For me, a bold lip color is my superpower. It makes me feel confident and I swear that it attracts creativity. What do you wear that makes you feel this way?

Photo by Mikkel Paige Photography | Makeup by Makeup by Ashley Mooney

#7: Be Entitled

“Creative entitlement doesn’t mean behaving like a princess, or acting as though the world owes you anything whatsoever. No, creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that—merely by being here—you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m not talking about how everyone says that millenials are entitled. I have a friend who spoke to a group and then she declared herself a speaker. She didn’t wait until she had spoken for 10 years or headlined 20 conferences to declare herself a speaker, it only took that one time. After that, she created a website and reached out to people to book speaking engagements. Just like that.

I have had a blog for only a little over two weeks and I am now a blogger. I am also an event planner, an event designer, a marketing professional, a social media strategist, and a business developer as I have also done all of those things. However, people seem to shy away from such titles. Heck, I’ve even spoken to a group before, therefore, I am also a speaker.

I think this sense of entitlement also goes hand in hand with being confident and the “fake it before you make it” mentality. Don’t hold back from giving yourself a title.

“Defending yourself as a creative person begins by defining yourself.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

#8. Be Curious

“Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions and compulsions, trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest will take care of itself.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

If something is calling to you, try it! Pottery, gardening, yoga – go for it! Who knows where it will lead and what creative thoughts and connections it will unravel.

#9. Be Persistent

“I saw it as proof that you must never surrender, that no doesn’t always mean no, and that miraculous turns of fate can happen to those who persist in showing up.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Living a creative lifestyle is living outside of your comfort zone. Of course there will be ups and downs but you have to appreciate the whole process and be persistent in your journey. Don’t get discouraged. Even if she wasn’t inspired, Gilbert would write for at least 30 minutes a day to perfect her craft in order to become the amazing writer that she is today.

Don’t be discouraged if someone else is further along than you or if they have already done it. It has not been done yet by you. There should be no excuses to indulge in what inspires you and makes you feel creative even it has been done before.

I know that I have always been drawn to creative endeavors, creative people, and a creative lifestyle. You too? You have to explore your creativity otherwise, you will find yourself being destructive and wondering why. Put your energy to good use! You will feel accomplished and proud of what you create.

“If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something — myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

These are just 9 ways to cultivate a creative life beyond fear. Big Magic includes many more! Read it for yourself and see if this book inspires you to be more creative as well.

The Announcement | Raleigh to Melbourne

The Announcement | Raleigh to Melbourne

My husband and I announced that we were moving to Melbourne, Australia when actually, we just moved back in with our parents during a pandemic.

Ouch.

It’s the truth. Here is the photo that we posted earlier this year with the following announcement:

“Here it is! Our big, big news! Our time in Raleigh is coming to an end – we are moving across the world to MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA! 🇦🇺

So why are we moving? Honestly we have loved our time in Raleigh. We went to college here (Go Pack!), met some amazing friends, worked with inspiring people, fell in love and got married, and have enjoyed eating, playing, and living the downtown Raleigh lifestyle for the past 5+ years. However, Sean has received the opportunity of a lifetime with his company so we are uprooting our lives and taking the leap! Because, why not?! ✈️

We are crazy excited (if you can’t tell) but are sure at times it will be uncomfortable. Moving to another country has involved a whole new world of visas, processes, hard decisions, and even harder goodbyes. The fires in Australia are also adding some unexpected concern 🔥

So there you have it! Things are going to start moving rather quickly from here on out. We are leaving next week to explore Melbourne and to find a place to live, afterwards I will return to work with my last day being February 7th, and then we are leaving Raleigh on February 15th. 🏙

With all of this being said, if you have any connections over there, we would be so grateful for an intro! Knowing next to no one in a whole new country is daunting for sure.

Farewell mates! 👋 We are excited to share this journey with you and hope that you can come visit us.”

That’s when we thought that the fires in Australia were going to be our biggest concern.

Our date to leave our home in Raleigh was driven by our lease terms on our apartment. It was slated to end December 2019 so we explained our situation to our landlord and we tried to push out the end date as far as possible. Since the landlord was listing our unit to sell after we moved out, we could only get our lease extended until February 15th at the latest. We had to decide on taking the biggest leap of faith that we have taken yet! After we moved out of our apartment, we thought that we would be staying with family here and there and traveling for Sean’s work with the move to Melbourne being sometime in March at the latest.

Then BOOM! We learned that there had been a delay in submitting our visas which would push the timeline back at least by another month (April) and then we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, quarantined and practicing social distancing at my parent’s house.

So here we are 2 months later with May quickly approaching and we are still living back at home with our parents.

This situation has been less than ideal however, there are some positives about not making the move just yet:

  • We have been spending quality time with family before we move halfway across the world.
  • Trying to learn the lay of the land in Melbourne during this pandemic would have surely been difficult and it would not have started our experience off on a very positive note. We are grateful to be in a place that is familiar to us during such an unfamiliar time.
  • We are not planning on having a car while living in Australia. It would have potentially been difficult for us to get around a new city while practicing social distancing.
  • Arriving while many businesses are closed and spending time in quarantine would feel like we were wasting our work visa time. One of the huge selling points of living in Australia is the opportunity to submerge ourselves in another culture and to travel throughout the country and that side of the world. Going over there just to stay at home would have been a huge disappointment.

What have we learned:

  • That you really do not need many material possessions to survive and thrive. All of our belongings are currently in storage aside from the contents of our suitcases, our laptops, and a few good books.
  • We will buy bikes ASAP after our move to have another mode of transportation other than the tram in case there is ever a situation where we would not be able to commute on the tram.
  • What it feels like to be in a less than ideal situation and to make the most of it.
  • The importance of patience and a positive attitude.

Hope for the future is power in the present.

Les Brown

I am aware that it is pretty normal to wind down commitments and to live with family or a friend temporarily before an international move. I also knew to expect some delays (big changes like this often take longer to execute than planned). With the addition of the coronavirus pandemic, it has certainly added some further delays, complications, and an immense feeling of living in limbo. You can say that we have had some bad timing for sure! Looking forward to the future with hope and faith that we will get to live out our dream lifestyle keeps us going.

What can you look forward to? I am excited to continue to share updates as well as some posts about the steps that it takes to move to another country, stories from others who are living an “expat lifestyle”, recommendations for how to make the transition as smooth as possible, and more!