A life under the Pink Umbrella!

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Balsam Hill Tree
Balsam Hill Tree
Balsam Hill Tree

This Christmas season our home needed a new Christmas tree-the one we had used for the last couple of years no longer had the spirit of Christmas in it! Our old tree was not only too large for our home, the lights had stopped working on a section and the branches were looking rough from years of going in and out of a cramped box! I spent many days researching trees and talking to friends and family before finally deciding on the www.balsamhill.com tree company.

When reading about the Balsam Hill company there were a few things that caught my attention. I was concerned in making the right choice about a tree that I’d have in my home for many years to come and liked their longevity reviews. Customers commented in reviews of having their trees for 10+ years which is great for mother earth too!  Another thing I liked about Balsam Hill trees was the realness appearance to that of a live tree. My parents and grandparents always had a real tree and I love that you can have an artificial tree that looks like a live one.  I was also surprised to find a tree company that included a 3-year warranty for their tree.

My husband and I chose the Woodland Spruce tree at 6.5 feet with candlelight LED lighting. We waited for the Black Friday promotion for 50% off off purchase. We chose this tree for its realness appearance, height, and tapered shape.

Our Christmas tree arrived in 4 days from purchase by FedEx delivery. Once the box was opened there was a ribbon around each section noting where it belonged as well as two sets of gloves included for adjusting and shaping the branches and limbs. Also included, were additional lights and fuses as well as a large zippered bag was included for storage.  I am looking forward to many Merry Christmas’s with our tree from Balsam Hill and am glad we decided on this tree for our home!

Balsam Hill Tree
Balsam Hill Tree

Have you ever smelled a scent that took you back to a person, place or time? It’s amazing how much scent influences our day to day lives! Being a Florida girl, I love the scents of the beach through candles in my home. I love the calmness and serenity I feel from the scents like being at the beach! This past week I visited one of  The Candle Lab (www.thecandlelab.com) locations in Columbus, OH for the first time to experience experimenting with scent!

When my friend suggested meeting at The Candle Lab to experiment with scents and make a candle, I jumped at the opportunity! We started out with clipboards and was told to peruse over 120 different scents in candle form and note our favorites. These favorite scents would later be used to pair up to form a personalized scent. I’m a huge fan of clean and beachy scents and went straight for the “Clothesline” but surprised myself with scents like “Yuzu”, “Sunflower” and “Olive Blossom”!

Back at the Fragrance Bar with my list of favorite scents and jar selection we were ready to assemble our candles! I was glad the helpful staff suggested which scents from our favorites would pair well together to help create a favorable scent. Another aspect of personalization was designing the candle label with an assortment of markers! (I may have had a little too much fun doing this!)

My scent selection decided, the staff presented me with containers of the liquid scent/oils and a stainless-steel double jigger where we formulated the candle scent measurements. We poured our scent mixture into the jar filled with liquid soy wax and a candle wick and stirred the candle together. Once everything was mixed the candle was left to set for approximately 90 minutes.  Already my candle scent was unlike anything I had smelled before, and I knew I was hooked!

While our candles cooled my friend and I enjoyed lunch and picked them up afterwards. At home I love how my new candle smells like my favorite things but is also a sweet memory of the experience of making it too! I’m looking forward to putting this activity at The Candle Lab into the date night rotation or for when friends want to get together again in the future!

This seriously made me laugh!
Our personalized labels!
Formulating our candles!
Such a fun experience, experimenting with scent!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and part of awareness is sharing knowledge and understanding to help others. Breast cancer isn’t pretty, and neither is prevention. It’s not always pink t-shirts, cute sayings and pink ribbons. Sometimes its anxious hearts, scars, bruising, fears and uncertainty. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Only 10% of those diagnosed will have a family history. Prevention is though what will save lives, and this is my story of prevention.

Every time I go to for my mammogram appointments I always feel like it’s a badge of honor of womanhood. My first mammogram was when I was 32 years old, after my primary doctor found a lump during a routine exam. I remember my first mammogram appointment, I met a woman in the waiting room-there we were all were dressed in pink robes, trying to read an old magazine not wanting to think about why we were in this room and waiting to find out what would show up on the screen. She was poised and beautiful and now looking back, an angel, because she could probably see the worry on my face and how close to tears I was as I was surrounded by women all at least 20-30 years older than me. She made jokes about us all being sisters in the big scheme and how men would never have their parts “smashed” for a test!

A year after my first lump was found my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. I witnessed first-hand how this cancer can take away the feeling of womanhood and leave someone hurt and confused. My mother-in-law is a fighter through and through and an inspiration in so many ways and was the first person close to me to be diagnosed with this dreadful cancer. Today, I am beyond thankful to say this year she is cancer free for 5 years!

In late March of this year I found a lump that fell right on my rib underneath my left breast. Oddly enough I didn’t worry because from my early thirties, I have had more than my fair share of mammograms and ultrasounds due to fibrocystic breasts. When I spoke to my doctor about it I he assured me it was “probably nothing” but to go ahead and send me back to the specialists for review.

I had my mammogram and an ultrasound done and thought everything was normal until two doctors reappeared in the room with the ultrasound tech and explained that there was “something” they had seen on the right breast instead and felt a closer look would be necessary and that I would need to be scheduled for a biopsy. To their surprise however I was the one at ease with this and reassured them that I was happy because I was thankful for prevention after all these years I knew I was truly being taken care of and thanked them.

A week before my niece’s 2nd birthday party in Alabama I went back to the specialists and had a core needle biopsy performed. Thankfully, I learned 3 days later the area was completely benign, but I am forever thankful for the prevention. Thankfully today it wasn’t me. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. Don’t skip your regular mammograms, do self-breast exams every month. Take these preventative measures and be informed. I am what prevention looks like.

All bandaged up after my biopsy!
2018 MG Palmer shirt

When I moved from Florida to Ohio five years ago this week my Facebook status read: “Where ever you go…go with all your heart. “-Confucius. We are officially on our way to Ohio!” (Thank you, Facebook, memories) Reflecting on the last five years I can truly say I did that-it was one of the hardest things to do- to leave your family, your friends, your hometown and seemingly everything you knew in life-but chasing dreams and the yearn for a better life was all worth it.  I remember breaking the news to our family after a long weekend in Columbus that my husband and I had fell in love his new job opportunity, a new and refreshed hope for our life together and with the city and all that it offered!

In five years, I have had lots of amazing opportunities including traveling abroad, traveling to over 17 different states, being a stay at home dog mom, making new friends, introducing family to my new city and life and crossing many things off my never-ending bucket list! There have been hard times as well- including family illness’s, missing friends and family’s life events, dealing with infertility and days where you miss family so much it literally makes your heart hurt. To be honest though, I’d do it again because of how much I have grown as a person and in my relationship with my husband!

Things I have learned:

  1. Thank God for smart phones-text messaging, photo sharing, FB- All of it because it feels like family and friend are that much closer on the hard days or ones when you need advice or to share news with.
  2. There will be hard days-you smell the perfume your mom wears and it catches you off guard and all you want is her hug- or you try some amazing ribs and call your brother because you know he’d love them forgetting that he’s a plane ride away-it will happen-and that’s where the smart phone comes in handy!
  3. Planning will be essential-Dinner at Mom and Dad’s is no longer around the corner and can’t say let’s meet up later and so I have become nicknamed the “family event planner” and its suites me too-I love planning-planning trips, planning events and dinners for when friends and family visit or for family get togethers!
  4. You realize the value of time spent with loved ones or a favorite scenic spot-Time spent with family and friends and back home means more because now you know your time is short and only a visit instead of around the corner or a once a month visit. I try to leave my ringer and notifications off and the camera on to really be in the moments as much as I can. You only have so many moments with some people and places in life-so make the most of them!
  5. New adventures will be an every day occurrence-being a Florida girl and only having one grocery store (Publix) her whole life to now having a pick between seven is quite the adventure if I may say so! Ok but seriously-a new town offers new people, new events, new shopping-its endless depending on the city but it’s up to you to discover it!
  6. You figure out yourself-I was worried I’d lose my identity moving away but its quite the opposite-when you strip away everything and everybody and focus on yourself you figure out who you are, what you believe in and what you want in life.
  7. You will be thankful for your memories-good or bad because it was how life was before your move-everything is different-you will look back with appreciation of both.
  8. Your hometown will always be your hometown no matter where it is-I get overly giddy when I see someone wearing a Florida State shirt in Columbus-I met my husband (a Florida State grad), graduated high school, where my first job out of college was, and made friends that were considered family in that city.
  9. Learn the meaning of sticking it out-the first winter was tough-it was the coldest on record in almost 20 years and I remember figuring out how to drive in the snow and comparing it to “muddin in the south”-I was so naive! There will be hard and fast differences-learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind open for them!
  10. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it-you will learn about yourself, your relationships and life in general with a 1000-mile move. Embrace it and be ready for the challenges and the blessings the same.

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

I am all about being happy and positive in life so why read about it you may ask? I believe that like anything in life-happiness is a continuous cup that needs to be filled throughout life! What made us happy when we were kids is a lot different now-but that doesn’t mean I won’t say no to some chocolate ice cream!

I have always been a reader-usually pick up a book and put it down only to pick up later-this book was not that kind of book! I literally had my nose in it from the beginning to the end finishing it in less than a day! The author, Neil Pasricha writing style feels as though he’s like a close friend sharing his stories with you complete with his own scribbles to bring points home to the reader.  Another reason I felt lost in this book is because of how he labeled his chapters-they were instead called “Secrets” -so naturally I wanted them all ha-ha! No, but seriously it keeps the reader engaged and wanting more and learning from him and what he found to be the secret to happiness.

In these secrets or chapters-one that I believed I could incorporate into my life was the “7 ways to be happy right now” which included random acts of kindness and gratitude. Sounds simple- but are they really? It’s easy to forget to be grateful for things in life or to do random acts of kindness when you have a bad day or dealing with a heavy heart! I believe that these simple things alone help to turn a frown upside down or the very least make your challenges in life not seem so big!

One secret of this book was self-acceptance- from “3 simple steps to self-acceptance.” sounds daunting right? I thought so too-this guy is a Harvard grad-how could I have something in common with him? He also had problems with self-acceptance and lived to write about it! I read this section and a lightbulb went off and realized I was doing what he did and also, learned how to change my thinking! I really loved that even though the author, Neil Pasricha could have written this book from a business view point, he didn’t-instead he included many of his own personal stories and learning experiences to show how happiness affects all areas of your life.

Another secret that I took to heart was learning about was from “What can the healthiest one-hundred-year-olds in the world teach us?” “Ikigai (pronounced like “icky guy) which roughly means “the reason you wake up in the morning.” I learned that not only was this part of the Japanese culture but also instrumental in being a reason for their long-life spans! I loved his idea and what he did with his Ikigai which inspired me also.

A favorite secret was from “Removal #1: How to make every decision at twice the speed.”  Who doesn’t have difficulties with decision making? I totally admit I am not the fastest picking a place to eat, what nail color to wear, even sometimes my plans for the day-but reading this chapter or (Secret) made me realize not only the importance of speed because of how much time was being wasted being indecisive but also giving myself fewer choices to make the decision from. This chapter I really valued because I find myself not stressing over decisions nearly as much as before.

In addition to secrets the author also suggests “3 simple tests to uncovering the secret inside you.” to the reader which sounds entirely too much like school but stay with me on this one because these tests help to make you really think about what makes you happy from a different view point than I’d read elsewhere. These tests are also great to implement in life when making decisions or figuring something out.

Overall this book felt more like long conversation with my favorite professor that had traveled the globe understanding happiness and sharing his stories letting the reader figure it out for themselves.  I am beyond glad I read this because I felt connected to the stories, learned about myself and my happiness needs and desires in all areas of my life.