The Cornerstones of a Happy Mindset: The Need for Respect

I’m working my way down the list of things I want to include in this series. And, today, the wind is blowing me towards respect. If you’re lost on what series I’m talking about, then start here! I’ve decided to write about the things I think we should focus on to foster happy, grateful mindsets. When you have a happy mindset, everything in life is easier to manage, and life is just better.

You might be thinking that this post is kind of a waste of time. You might be right, but bare with me for a minute. Everyone knows you have to have respect in your life. You have to respect others, yourself, and blah blah blah. However, just because we’ve been talking about respect since elementary school doesn’t mean that we always practice it or understand it. Speaking for myself, I know that I don’t. It’s really a multi-faceted thing, and I want to talk about its intricacies.

I want to give you three straight forward, practical ways to think about and practice respect so that it can be a cornerstone of your happy mindset.

First up, let’s talk about respecting others.

How easy would it be just to write do unto others as you would have others do unto you and just end the post right here? Sigh. I can’t let you down like that though. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t over analyze everything. Certainly, those words are true. It’s not called the Golden Rule for nothing.

We should always make sure that how we are interacting with and responding to others comes from a place of respect and honor. But, I’m not just thinking of respecting others as in being kind or saying thank you or even just holding your tongue when someone makes you mad.

What I’m talking about is respecting others for who they are. Not everybody is going to love the things you do or act the way you think they should. And, guess what? That’s ok! As hard as it is to believe sometimes, we’re not doing everything right and perfect either. We have to recognize and appreciate the ways in which others are different from us.

I don’t think it’s our place to try to change people. We don’t have the authority nor the power to do so. I can’t make you like me, and why should I? Who says I’m the one who’s got it right?

The fact is, none of us know what makes the ultimate human. If we did, we would have figured it out by now. So instead of making yourself or someone else miserable by trying to change who they are, maybe try just respecting that they’re different and that’s ok.

By coming to that understanding, you can have a good relationship. You might find new ways to connect. On the other hand, you might find that you actually don’t want a relationship with that person, and that will be ok too.

Rule Number Two- Self Respect

My dad and I have a thing. Since I was in high school he’s been telling me to “be the nickel.” That probably sounds weird to you, but to me, it means everything. It was the single statement that guided me through growing up and trying to figure myself out.

He told me once that if you had a table full of pennies, and you threw down just one nickel, that nickel would shine and stand out far above everything else. It wouldn’t matter if you had a million pennies; the nickel would be of the greatest value.

He was telling me to be different. He was telling me to be myself and not worry about trying to be like others or following in anyone else’s lead. He was telling me to respect myself enough so that one day I could be proud of my choices and find real happiness and peace in my life.

Throughout my life, he has reminded me to be the nickel. When there was chaos and confusion in my life, I would remind myself of what he said and what he wanted for me. It really helped me to respect myself and remember that real worth comes from valuing yourself and knowing your mind, life, and spirit are your own to cherish and respect. And when you do that, others will value and respect you as well. You will attract other valuable people.

My dad gave me away and preached my wedding, something truly special to me, by the way. During the ceremony, he told the story of the nickel. When he finished, he said how thankful he was that in a world full of pennies, I had found another nickel. Instantly, I could see how everything had come full circle. My daddy giving me a small piece of advice all those years ago led me to something more valuable than even gold.

And now the most important- Respect for God’s design

How can we talk about respect without talking about God? You can’t. Sorry, no, just can’t.

I want to focus on an intricate part of how I think we are to respect God. We should, of course, revere Him as our Creator, our All, our Hope, and our Future.

But, I often struggle with respecting His design. It’s really easy to get frustrated by the way things are and how they aren’t what I think they should be. I’m not just talking about in our own lives either. I’m talking about in everything and every which way the world turns.

We have to respect and accept that things are exactly the way they are supposed to be. Our lives, our country, our leadership, our troubles, our struggles, and our triumphs. They are as God sees fit at any given moment.

That is so incredibly hard to remember when things are bad or hard. But remember that nothing in this world happens that isn’t supposed to. We never know the reason for the things that happen and what blessings they will yield later.

Life and the world are God’s creations–they belong to Him. Everything in life and all his creations have an order and a place, and we don’t always have to understand it.

I challenge you next time you are facing something that has you down to think about this. Am I asking you to leap for joy over something that truly is hard or trying or maybe even terrible? Absolutely not. I’m asking you to come to a place of respect for it.

Find peace in that you cannot change things, and that, really, that’s a good thing. It’s the best thing. The outcome of our life and our world is known only but to God, and when we respect His design it makes life much easier to navigate. We can truly trust that “all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

The cornerstones of a happy mindset: the need for respect Pinterest image leahelizabethblogs

So, we talked about how to think about respect in three different ways, and I hope maybe you got something out of it. With this blog, I never pretend to be an authority on life or absolutely anything. Rather, I just want to be an open and honest person thinking through my own life and sharing those trials and thoughts with you. Thank you for giving me a few moments of your time and reading the ramblings.

Six Novels to Read This Summer

Schooooollllllsss out. For. Summer. Almost. Whether you’re a student, a teacher like me, or working a different job, summer time means more time. There are more hours of sun, and somehow just more time to do stuff you like to do. One of those things should be summer reading! There is nothing better for your brain than reading, and it can be just for fun no matter what anybody tells you. Sometimes a cheap thriller is all a girl needs, ok?

That being said, I can’t let summer slip up on us without giving you a list of some of my latest loves in the literary world. I’ll warn you, I have been really into thrillers lately, so the majority of my list is going to be in that category. I’ll give you a few little nuggets about each book without giving too much away.

Also, if you have reservations about thrillers or mysteries, I’ll go ahead and tell you that this is a pretty tame list. These books are nowhere near the level of dark and twisty that is Gone Girl or any other Gillian Flynn novel for that matter.

Before I jump into the list, I want to share with you how I read most of my books these days. If you feel like you really can’t swing the time to sit down and read a book, that’s ok! Sometimes, I just don’t have time for an hour of reading. That’s why I have a membership to Audible.

Audible makes it possible for you to listen to your books whenever and wherever is most convenient for you. Maybe you want to listen in the car, while you work out, or while you do housework. I, personally, listen while doing all three. Not at the same time of course cause I’m not a robot, duh.

I used to think audiobooks were weird. Sorry, but I just did. But, let me tell you, they are awesome. You get quality narrators telling you quality stories and entertaining you while you go about your day. How can you beat that? This is not a sponsored post, by the way. I just really think Audible is awesome.

I’ll leave a link to these books on audible in case you want to check them out. Audible is a membership service by the way, so you get one audiobook a month at a discount price. Think of how well read and cultured you’re going to be reading a book a month. Score one for you.

On with the list of summer reading…

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine the last mrs Parissh book cover Leah Elizabeth blogs

This is the latest book I’ve listened to, and I really liked this novel. It’s one of those that you think you have all figured out, but it’s not exactly what you think. I have to admit that I had this one mostly figured out, but I still had a few surprises that I genuinely didn’t see coming. It definitely has a satisfying ending. If you like books that keep you guessing right until the end, then this one is for you. It centers around a friendship built out of shared tragedy and a marriage that seems perfect. But, like every good thriller, everybody’s got a secret.

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham The Secret She Keeps Novel Cover Leah Elizabeth Blogs

One woman’s desperate need to have a child drives the plot of this novel. Agatha is a grocery store clerk who admires Meghan, a popular mommy blogger, from a far. However, when the two become pregnant at the same time, Agatha reaches out and makes a friend. This friendship changes their lives forever and has devastating consequences. This novel has some high drama, and I’m into it.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins Into the Water novel cover Leah Elizabeth blogs

Into the Water is the second novel from Paula Hawkins, author of Girl on the Train. If you liked her first novel then chances are, you’re going to like the second. Heck, even if you didn’t read the novel and liked the movie, then you’re going to like this one. It’s a familiar plot–a less than stunning lead female takes us on a journey to figure out the mystery surrounding a death. Only this time, it’s a death in the family. Jules’ sister Nell has apparently jumped from the bridge in town–a bridge and a river that Jules has a history with. Jules has to face her fear of the water and the secrets of her past. Hawkins’ writing style is engrossing and I couldn’t stop listening to this one.

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry My husband's wife novel cover leahelizabeth blogs

Now this one was pretty twisty. Twisty in a- gee I didn’t see that coming- kind of way. This couple’s marriage is in shambles from the beginning, yet they stay together for years. Trouble comes for their marriage in the most unlikely of places. It’s an intricate novel with a lot of characters to get to know and stories to figure out. The characters were not likable at all. As in they are infuriatingly complacent and spineless. If that sounds off putting, which I know it does, try not to think of it that way. It’s an interesting conundrum to find yourself rooting for people who aren’t very good. I think it says something about our own need to find the good in people- or our need to always have a winner and a loser.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda All the missing girls novel cover leahelizabeth blogs

This is my favorite one from this list. I was totally engrossed in this novel and read it in two days. Also, I had a paper copy of this one, and I had no trouble finding the time to read it. This is one of those you know the crime/mystery from the beginning and you follow a character trying to piece the story back together. The time changes and fast pace will engross you in this novel. It’s told backwards and it’s awesome. A young woman, Nicolette, goes back to her home town after years of running from a tragedy. She left after a girl goes missing. Now she’s back and another one is gone.

a stranger in the house Leah Elizabeth blogs novel coverA Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Picture a happy suburban couple obliviously living their happy life until one night the wife goes missing. The husband’s in a panic until he finds out she’s been in a weird accident and is at the hospital. Karen can’t remember why she left the house in a rush and how the accident happened. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Karen and Tom and what makes them go from very happy to insanely paranoid. Has someone been in the house? Who has the biggest secret? What’s up with the lady across the street? I think you’re going to like this one.

 

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer into the wild novel cover

This last novel isn’t a thriller, so if you’re not a fan of the nail-bitters then this may be more your speed. I’m still in the middle of reading this one, but I already know that I highly recommend it. I actually bought it to see whether or not it would be something my high school students might be interested in. A young man walks away from his life of privilege with little to his name to go find meaning. This is a true account of Chris McCandless’s last days hitchhiking across the U.S. and trying to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer the journalist who pieced together his journey and his story through first hand accounts and McCandless’s own writing. It’s funny, heartbreaking, poetic, infuriating, and powerful. It really is equally all of those things. You’ll find yourself questioning his stupidity all the while admiring his optimism. It’s a book you’ll be thinking about long after you put it down.

Summer Reading List Leah Elizabeth Blogs Pinterest Image

 

I hope that you found this summer reading list helpful the next time you hit up your local bookstore or if you decide to try Audbile! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, what you think, or what you’ve been reading. I’m always on the lookout for new books, and I would love to hear from you! As always, thanks for reading, friends!

The Cornerstones of a Happy Mindset: The Importance of Grace

I spend a lot of my time thinking and writing about the things that make me happy, the things that cause me heartache, and the things that I can improve on. Reflecting on these things has allowed me greater insight into what, at least for me, makes up a fulfilled, peaceful life. So, I got inspired. I thought I would start a blog series on the things that I think will lead you to a happier outlook on life. We’re going to call this series The Cornerstones of a Happy Mindset. I can’t wait to share them with you.

First up–Grace.

What exactly does that word mean? It gets thrown around in conversations, and I hear it all the time. But, until recently, I’ve never really thought much about what it means to me.

However, what I do know is that I, so often, lack grace, and I need to focus on it and define it for myself.

So, here it is. Grace is forgiveness. It is the acceptance of others’ faults, of your own shortcomings, of things you cannot change, of the difficult, impossible situations that come your way. It is extending love, humility, and understanding towards those around you. And it is vital to experiencing a content, happy life.

The most important form of grace that we experience is, of course, from our Heavenly Father. There is no other form of grace more complete or more perfect. I, in no way, shape, or form, can practice grace on such a level. I would never even claim to try. However, what I can do is take that most perfect example of grace and focus on that as a cornerstone of my personal mindset.

In thinking about that, I had to ask myself: How can I depend on God to extend His grace to me, and never consider the many ways that I lack grace? I couldn’t come up with an answer for that. So, I had to be honest with myself about where grace was missing from my life.

This is a place of honesty, so I’m going to be open here. It is truly hard for me to be graceful. I don’t think it’s something that comes naturally for me, like it seems to in so many people that I admire.

It is so much easier to hold onto grudges, justify my own behavior and attitude, and get mad when I don’t feel like being considerate. And, it’s hard and uncomfortable to confront my own mistakes and faults. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to do things that are hard and uncomfortable. When you can’t confront your own stuff, it’s certainly easier to point out and hold onto another’s.

Here’s the plus side, it’s something that is totally fixable. What I’m trying to do now is keep grace in the forefront of my mind. My hope is that by focusing on the idea, I can, in fact, become more graceful.

Perhaps I’ll be able to be more accepting, and hopefully I will become more centered and at ease. Maybe I can become more forgiving and carry myself with a bit more love and dignity.

One thing’s for certain, turmoil fights hard to take center stage in our lives, but we can’t let it. We have to be able to find peace and acceptance, strength and humility in the midst of the chaos.

That’s definitely easier said than done. But, it’s possible. I have seen and felt a change within myself since I’ve started focusing on the idea of grace. I want to share some things that I like to do to help me find that poise and strength.

Leah Elizabeth blogs Pinterest image the importance of grace
1. Pray and pray often.
2. Spend some quality time with yourself. Not Netflix time, quality time. For me it’s reading, writing, thinking, and reflecting on how I’m living my life and affecting those around me.
3. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and make extending grace so incredibly easy.
4. Keep the word in your mind. Doodle it, focus on it, make a note on your phone. It makes a difference I promise.

If you focus on being graceful and extending grace towards others, it will absolutely improve and strengthen your own sense of happiness and fulfillment. I just don’t believe that we can go through life being totally self-centered and expect to be truly happy. We were created to be connected.

One more thing- I want to reemphasize something I said earlier about grace. You have to grant yourself some too, and it’s just as important as extending it to anyone else.

Recently, I’ve been really beating myself up over some things, and it was making me so unhappy. I couldn’t get past mistakes that I made and would fixate on them to the point where I felt so defeated. Then I realized, if I want grace to be a key focus in the way I live my life, it has to apply to me too. I have to make an effort to forgive myself and find some understanding and acceptance for things I just can’t change. And so do you.

I hope that by sharing my feelings about grace, I’ve connected with you in some way or made you start thinking about your own cornerstones. Please share with me what you consider attitudes or ideas that are keys to a happy life. I’d love for you to join the conversation!

10 Reasons Why You Should Start a Blog

Have you ever considered starting a blog? Maybe you’ve thought about it but dismissed it as a silly or impractical notion. If you have never thought about blogging, have you ever wanted to share your thoughts, ideas, or feelings? If the answer is yes, then you need to start a blog. Not someday, but now! I’ve only been blogging for three months, but it has already brought me so much joy and fulfillment. I want that for you too, so I’m going to give you all the reasons you should start a blog.

Pinterest Image Leah Elizabeth Blogs 10 Reasons Why You Should Start A Blog

Here are ten reasons why you should start a blog.

1. It’s a creative outlet.

Everyone needs a space to explore their creativity. Think you’re not creative? Wrong! You absolutely are. Everyone’s creativity shows up in different ways. Maybe yours is yet to be discovered. Writing can unleash that creativity.

You may know exactly what you’re good at and exactly what your creative gifts are. If so, that’s awesome, and even more of a reason to start a blog. Chances are, most people don’t get to see or experience your creativity. Your gifts and talents are valuable to other people, and you should be sharing them. I know I’m always in need of food, design, and fashion inspiration. Maybe you’re the person to inspire me, but you just haven’t started blogging yet.

2. There’s room on the internet for everyone.

One of the reasons I hesitated (for six months) on starting my blog was because I didn’t think there was anything new to say. I worried that all the interesting blogs were already being written. That’s not true. Of course there is a plethora of awesome blogs out there, but you can write one of those awesome blogs too.

You never know if your unique perspective is what people are dying to read. No matter how many people are already blogging, none of those people are you. No one experiences things the way you do. What you have to say is unique, and people will read it if your passion is evident.

3. You can uncover your stregnths.

Sometimes, we don’t get a chance to spend much time with the things we’re best at. With blogging, you can spend a dedicated amount of time developing those strengths. If you’re great at decorating your house on a budget, you can share that greatness with other people. Along the way, your skills will keep getting better and better. You’ll be pushing yourself to create fabulous content. You might even push yourself to tackle those projects you can never find time for.

Also, you might actually uncover a strength that you didn’t know you had. As you blog, you’ll find things that are easier to write about than others. The things you have the most to say about reveal your passions and talents. In the same way, people will respond to the things you’re best at.

4. You can find fulfillment for yourself.

Do you ever feel like there’s not a chance for you to do something for yourself just because? I know I felt that way before I started my blog. I felt like I wasn’t being challenged enough creatively. Blogging gives you the opportunity to write about and think about what makes you happy. You’ll have planned time each week to focus on the things that bring you the most joy. Even better, you’ll be accomplishing and fulfilling goals along the way.

5. Blogging can be a personal challenge

Blogging can be a personal challenge that motivates you to get stuff done! If you’ve ever felt like you could do more or accomplish more, then you can and you should. Use blogging to motivate yourself to accomplish your goals. It certainly can be hard to find time to write and create content. However, if you take it as a challenge, you might be surprised how motivated you’ll be in other aspects of your life. I start my days earlier and get more done during the day now that I have a specific goal to work on.

6. Blogging can make you step out of your comfort zone.

This is one of the best reasons why you should start a blog. Being comfortable is a good thing as long as you’re not complacent. Complacency is dangerous. You don’t want to be wasting your potential do ya? No, of course you don’t. Absolutely do not let the fear of being misunderstood keep you from starting a blog. It’s ok if other people don’t really get what you’re doing. Actually, if you’re making other people question you, you’re probably doing something right.

Anytime you take a step away from the norm, it is hard. But, I promise, it is so worth it. You will never know what you’re capable of until you push yourself past what’s comfortable. Blogging will do that for you, and it truly is so rewarding.

7. You will be heard.

Doesn’t everyone want people to listen when they have something to say? With blogging, you will be able to share honest experiences and opinions, and people will hear you. Sometimes, people will even challenge you, and that’s exciting. In your everyday life, you may not get to talk about all the things that are important to you. A blog allows you to say what’s on your mind and heart.

8. It gives you the chance to share and connect with others.

On the same note, having people hear you allows people to connect with you. It’s a wonderful thing to share something and have others relate to you and your experience. You may find that more people relate to your life than what you think. Also, you never know what kind of friendships you may make. In the age of social media, try another outlet like blogging to make a more genuine connection with people than a distant, one sided follow.

9. The opportunity to document your life experience.

I have always valued journaling throughout my life. There’s something special about taking the time to write down your life as you go. Your memories are never as vivid as a personal account in real time. Blogging gives you the chance to preserve your memories and experiences. We change throughout life, and a blog allows you to see the change and reflect on your life. I think that’s an amazing gift.

10. Blogging can allow you to work for yourself.

If nothing else on this list motivates you, maybe this one will. Imagine a world in which you can be your own boss, and work from home. Blogging can help you to do that if you work it right. My blog may never take me down that road, but it could. Isn’t that an exciting possibility? There are so many men and women who make a living from their blogs. They turn their passions and talents into a career. I don’t know about you, but just the possibility of that excites me and motivates me to get to work.

I hope that you found a reason somewhere in this list that resonates with you and makes you want to start a blog. Honestly, I think that you will benefit from blogging. If you’re interested in my journey, start back here at the beginning and see how far I’ve come in just a few short months. Happy blogging, friends!

Must Have Beauty Products at Walmart

Let’s face it, sometimes looking our best can cost an arm and a leg. I, more than anyone, love to spend money on products that promise to make me look and feel amazing. However, trying to keep up with the latest trends and have the best products can get super pricey. And, contrary to popular belief, there are some amazing products out there that sit on the shelves of a place other than Sephora. What if I told you that there’s some bomb products at your local Walmart? Sure, these products can be found at most drug stores. But, the affordable prices and massive number of stores make Walmart the place that most people can go and shop for beauty products. I want you to be able to gather your loot all in one place. So, here’s a round up of my must have beauty products that you can get at Walmart.

Let’s start with body products that I love.

Banana Boat Summer Color Self-Tanning Mist 

It’s officially Spring, and I cannot live without this product. My winter pastiness is at an all time high and this product truly saves me. I currently have half of a can that I’m patiently saving for a trip to the beach next week. You can get multiple applications from one $10 bottle.

This product gives the best color of any self tanner that I’ve ever used. No orange here. The mist is really fine, which makes it easy to get a smooth, no-streak application. You can get your own back and everything thanks to the continuous spray at all angles. The mist dries really quickly, especially if you stand outside or under a ceiling fan. I spray it on and wait about five minutes before getting dressed and heading out the door. In about an hour, a really pretty, rich tan appears, and I’m a new woman.

Hawaiian Tropic Lime Colada After Sun Moisturizer

This is, hands down, my favorite product on the whole list. I, very luckily, picked up this product years ago and haven’t put it down since. If you want a rich moisturizer for all over, then look no further. This product is marketed for use after tanning or being in the sun, but I love it all the time. It smells like tropical Starburst and feels like butter. Does it get any better?

I do think you need to snatch this product off the shelf immediately as it warms up and you spend more time in the sun. It has aloe, and it heals and nourishes your skin. If you ever get a sunburn, you will love this lotion even more. Every time I put it on when I have a sunburn, within a day the redness and pain is dramatically reduced. Also, I’ve never gotten any peeling when I used this product. It feels amazing and way better than that sticky, shockingly cold Green Stuff you put in the refrigerator. One pump of this, and you’re a sun kissed goddess in paradise. That should be their tag line.

Jergen’s Wet Skin Moisturizer

This is a brand new find for me, but oh, man, I love it. I don’t know who came up with this idea, but they’re a genius. With this moisturizer, you actually apply it while you’re soaking wet. Weird, right? After you shower and turn the water off, apply this lotion all over. It feels like it doesn’t sink into the skin at all, but just wait. Once you’ve applied, towel off and your skin will feel silky smooth. It’s like magic. There was a huge difference in my skin after application. My skin is moisturized and soft all day with this lotion. It’s really quick and convenient, which makes it even better.

Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt and Foaming Bath

Ok, it’s the end of a long, stressful day at work. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be found in the bathtub. Candles are lit, John Mayer is singing, and I’m forgetting the world. What makes this time even better though are these bath products. I love the Dr. Teals brand of Epsom Salts and Bubble Bath. You can get them both in a variety of scents. They claim to do different things, such as stress relief, muscle pain relief, calming, sleep aid, and more.

No matter what “flavor” I use, I always feel more calm and refreshed from my bath when I use the salts or the bubble bath. As an added bonus, my skin feels softer. The bubble bath produces a decent amount of bubbles and they last for awhile. Now, I don’t think constant bubble baths are necessarily good for your feminine health, so I like to have one only every now and then. In between times, I break out the bath salts. They don’t have the satisfying bubbles, but they do have a fizzing quality that’s equally relaxing.

You can’t feel beautiful without luscious locks, right?

Batiste Dry Shampoo

Best dry shampoo you can get on a budget. Do I have to say any more? Seriously, this gives my hair new life without looking like I caked my head in dry shampoo. I can even wear my hair completely down on the second day with this dry shampoo. Usually, dry shampoo can get me a pass the next day as long as I at least pull the sides up. Not this bad boy.

Pantene Dry Shampoo

This is another great alternative if you can’t find Batiste or if you just want something different. In fact, this dry shampoo has less of a white cast than Batiste. The spray comes out more clear than powder white. It does a great job of making my hair look clean as well. It doesn’t feel thick and sticky in your hair, which is a total pet peeve of mine when it comes to dry shampoo. I can go several days without washing my hair with this product.

Tresemme Perfectly (un)Done Hairspray

I hate stiff hairspray. I cannot take it. The crunch of hair sprayed hair sends chills up my spine. I think it was too many turns in the beauty chair with the Kenra flying as a child that traumatized me. I liked pageants and my mama loved Kenra. Y’all know the one I’m talking about? The 25? I think Kenra would hold your hair in place through a tornado, but I digress.

This is the only hairspray I like to use. I want my hair to move throughout the day. It feels weird when it doesn’t. Even when I curl my hair, I like to use a light hold hairspray. I’ve found that this one helps keep my style without the crunchy feeling at all. I can brush through my hair, and the style still holds. You may not want to use this for an event, but for everyday, it’s definitely a must have beauty product.

And, finally, my favorite, the makeup.

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation

First of all, this foundation costs $5. Technically, it doesn’t even cost a whole $5 before tax. I love this stuff. This foundation gives you a demi matte finish that makes your skin look healthy and perfected. It’s not full on matte, so there’s still some life to your skin. It covers up the redness in my cheeks and doesn’t settle in my fine lines. It truly makes your skin look amazing. Also, their big claim for this product is that it photographs well, and I totally agree. I wore this foundation in my best friend’s wedding, and it worked beautifully through a long day with lots of photos. No flashback or chalk face. And it lasted all day and night.

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse

I keep a stock of this foundation at all times. I actually used to wear this in high school and forgot about it for a long time. Recently, I picked it back up and haven’t put it down since. It’s a mousse, just like it claims. I really like the different texture. Something about the mousse formula gives your skin a smooth appearance. Nothing that I own looks more natural than this foundation. I get more compliments on my skin with this foundation than any other, including my pricier ones.

I will say though, it may take some getting used to the texture. By the way, if you find that this or any product doesn’t work, Walmart always takes makeup back with a receipt. Also, my advice is to apply this foundation with a kabuki brush for the best application. Beauty sponges work, but it’s hard to get a lot of product and it takes longer. I find a brush gives me the best finish. The matte finish is not cakey at all. And maybelline has a great shade range, so you can find your color.

Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder in Precious Petal

This is one of my favorite highlighters, drugstore or otherwise. I keep this highlighter in my professional kit as a makeup artist. Every time I use it on a client it looks great. It has a very smooth texture that gives a really pretty sheen to the skin. It doesn’t emphasize pores or texture, and it catches the light beautifully. The color is a champagne, light rose gold, and it is so flattering on so many skin tones. Again, Wet n Wild is one of the most affordable of all the brands listed here, and this is another one of their best products.

Rimmel ScandalEyes Mascara

I just discovered this mascara, and I cannot get enough of it. This may actually be the first Rimmel product I’ve ever loved. This mascara does wonders for my lashes. I prefer volume over length, and this, surprisingly, gives me both. Usually, you have to compromise one to get the other. Not with this one. My lashes look much longer and thicker with this mascara. It doesn’t take a lot of work to get those results either. It lasts all day long with no flaking or smudging. It’s my new favorite for sure.

L’Oréal Lash Paradise

Everybody and their mama loves this mascara, and I’m no different. I was skeptical because I actually don’t like the Carbon Black that most people love. However, this one is worth the hype. If you love the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, then you have to go get this one immediately. It’s a fraction of the price and a total dupe. I mean even the packaging is crazy similar. It also does a great job of giving length and volume. I don’t get as much volume with it as the Rimmel, but it is a great, long lasting mascara.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Makeup Blender Sponge

I love beauty sponges, but I just cannot fork over $20 for a Beauty Blender. They are fantastic, but that’s a $20 sponge. If you’re like me, then don’t worry. Real Techniques makes a sponge that is affordable and awesome. You wet this sponge just like the BB or any other beauty sponge, and it works magic on your skin. If you find that your foundation looks heavy, then try applying with this damp sponge. Chances are, it will remove the cake and leave your skin looking more fresh. It does a great job of removing excess product and giving you an even application. This sponge has a flat side that makes it really easy to bake and carve out the areas of your face you may want to sculpt.

Leah Elizabeth Blogs Must Have Beauty Products at Walmart Pin

I hope you enjoyed this list of must have beauty products at Walmart. I can think of several more products that are great, but this list is enough for now. These are my absolute top favorites anyway. Next time you’re out shopping, browse the beauty aisles and pick up a few of these affordable items and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading and hanging out with me. If you’re interested in more beauty recommendations from someone who obsesses over beauty products, check out my post on the Best Skincare Products at Sephora and Ulta.

The Truth About Useless College Degrees

Have you ever heard people talk about useless college degrees? Maybe someone cautioned you in college about the degree you pursued. Perhaps, they questioned your degree choice, and, in turn, made you question if you chose the right path.

I often had people questioning me as I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in English. It would infuriate me for someone to suggest that I wasn’t making the best choice or tell me that I could “do better”. I felt like I knew what I wanted, and I knew where my talents were.

Here’s the thing though, what if those people were right all along?

Typically, society tells us that college is the answer. Everyone should make college their goal because college equals success. I always thought that. I assumed that getting a college degree would translate into success for me. Success being a reasonably good income, a fulfilling job, and the ability to enjoy life.

However, what people don’t tell you is that if you aren’t strategic in choosing your degree path, college can actually leave you in debt and out of luck by the time you’re finished.

So, what is the truth about useless college degrees?

Well, frankly, they do exist.

I hate saying that, but it’s just true. My twenty-two year old self scorns me and laughs in my face somewhere. But, y’all, it is possible to get a college degree that is more or less useless.

Let me define how I’m using the term “useless.” To me, in terms of a degree, this means one which is not immediately applicable to a job/career path.

In terms of self-growth and interest, anything you pursue will be beneficial for you. Learning, in any capacity, is important and good for the soul and for humanity. But let’s be real, what’s good for my soul ain’t good for my pocketbook, ok?

Am I saying become a sell-out? No. Am I saying do something you have no interest in to gain the all-mighty dollar? No. Am I saying make sure your degree choice will lead you to a prosperous future? Yes, absolutely.

I finished my degree and all of a sudden I was like, ok, now what? There was no clear path for me to follow. I had a degree that could apply to a lot of things and nothing at all. I made the fatal mistake of believing that if I went to class and finished my degree that a job would be waiting for me at the end. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I felt smart and capable in college. Heck, I had a 4.0 all the way through, but then the world didn’t give a crap about that. And that’s all I had to my name. I didn’t have any real job experience or any skills that were directly related to the demands of the workforce. On top of that, the degree I had didn’t really apply to anything.

I found myself out of college and jobless. Unfortunately, I didn’t even know where to begin to find that career that was supposed to now be mine for the taking. The job searches I did all turned out to need a more focused, less broad degree and set of skills. I thought I was prepared for and marketable for so many things. Sadly, I learned that I was prepared for very little.

Did I think a job was going to fall out of the sky? No (but kind of). I did, though, think that I would come out prepared for work and a career. Wrong.

Don’t just take my word for it either. So many people that I know experienced the same thing that I did. We were disillusioned by the idea of college and the narrative that told us once we were done we would achieve success.

So, what do I do if I have or get one of these useless college degrees?

1. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

It’s what you did or what you want to do, and that’s ok. Sometimes, I think whyyyyy did I do this to myself when I was capable of so much more, and that’s an unfair way to think.

I chose my degree for a reason, and so did you. Remind yourself why you made that decision and embrace it. I don’t think I would be as understanding of people if I hadn’t spent so many years studying literature. I don’t think I would have the courage to blog if I hadn’t spent so many years writing and studying great writing.

So, ultimately, I did benefit, I do have a job, and I’m dong well; it just didn’t happen in the way I expected.

2. Hustle, baby.

If you get a broad degree like I did that is not tied to a direct career path, be prepared to hustle to find a career. It is possible, I promise. I don’t in any way suggest that these degrees I’m deeming useless will never get you a job. Of course they will!

But, you are going to have to be more creative in how you get those jobs. You’re going to have to outwork those who are more directly qualified for those jobs.

Find a way to make it work. You can, I promise! I have found ways that my degree works for me, and I’m working and in a steady career path.

Thankfully, it really isn’t all about the degree you have. If you can sell yourself and work hard, you can find a job. Like I keep saying, it just is going to be harder and it may not be the one you had in mind.

Maybe you can find a non-traditional way to make money or to utilize your degree. Is there an opportunity for you to start your own business? Start a blog? Work online?

So what’s the big take away here?

1. Know your goals.

2. Choose a degree path that will directly lead you to those goals.

3. Make sure you research, research, research to ensure you are doing everything you can to achieve those goals outside of the degree alone.

4. Don’t depend on your shiny diploma to get you a job.

5. If you have one of these degrees, understand what it taught you and do whatever it takes to go after what you really want.

I am proud of my degree. Actually, I even went back to school for my Master’s in the same thing. (Mostly because I didn’t know what else to do and couldn’t find a job, but I digress.) I think I have a knack for analyzing and critical thinking. I think words are my thing. So, my degree does work for me. I never had a day where I dreaded class or questioned if I loved what I was doing. However, I did doubt where it was going to take me.

I just wish I would have known and been prepared for the harsh reality of the world and the job market. What would have happened if someone would have told me to narrow my focus? Perhaps I could have taken other classes more closely related to the field I dreamed of. Or, maybe I would have realized that I needed to make a change.

I’m so sorry if this post seems super negative. It truly is not meant to be that at all. Rather, consider it more of a cautionary tale. If you went through college and got a degree like mine, then you can relate. If you are in the process of deciding on what degree to pursue, then remember what I’m telling you. Follow your interests, but make sure that they are able to lead you in the direction you want to go after college. If not, then make sure you’re ok with that.

How to Protect Your Quality Time at Home

The Importance of Quality Time at Home

If you’re new here, first of all, I’m so incredibly happy to have you. I want you to know that this blog is all about creating and maintaining a happy, fulfilled lifestyle. That means making sure we are healthy, happy, and motivated. It also means that we’re taking care of our selves as well as our relationships with others.

One of the things that’s most important to your sense of peace and contentment is valuing and protecting your quality time at home.

Quality time, for me, looks like time spent with loved ones without the hustle and bustle of jobs, stress, and any other distracting factors. Sometimes, it also looks like time by myself refocusing and re-energizing to be my best self.

Here are my best tips for how to make the most out of your quality time at home.

Leah Elizabeth Blogs Pinterest Image How To Protect Your Quality Time at Home

Leave work at work.

Sometimes leaving work behind is a lot easier said than done. But trust me, it’s a MUST. When I first started teaching, the demands of the job completely overwhelmed me. There were lessons to plan and create, tests to perfect, assignments to write, and papers to grade. Not to mention all of the things I actually tried to get done during the work day.

To say that I came home stressed out is a complete understatement.

I would bring home piles of work, but I still felt like I wasn’t getting anything accomplished. That’s because I wasn’t. The only thing I was actually doing was causing myself major headaches. I was ill at home and frustrated because I was overworked. There was no chance to look forward to coming home at the end of the day because the work never ended.

Finally, I had enough and learned an important lesson that keeps me sane on the regular. Leave work at work. Seriously, do not bring it home with you unless you absolutely have to. There will always be one more report to finish, a few more emails to answer, etc. I promise, they can wait.

Having time away from your work is what preserves your happy home life. You don’t want your house to become a place of stress and high demand like your work. Give your brain a break, friend.

Eliminate distractions while you’re working on a task.

So, I’m the queen of this. It is straight up impossible to get things done during the time you have for them if you’re constantly distracted. Unfortunately, some of our most favorite things are, in fact, distractions. You know, cell phones, social media, Netflix. All the fun stuff.

Sometimes I’m really good at lining up my tasks for the day and getting motivated to get them done. But then, after a few minutes of productivity, I think I deserve a break. That break turns into twenty wasted minutes scrolling through one of the Real Housewives’ Twitter feed. Talk about a rabbit hole.

Doing these things sabotages the time you have to accomplish your goals for the day. Not getting those goals accomplished eats into your quality time at home.

Give yourself a strict no social media policy at work. Don’t give yourself any breaks to scroll through and browse. You may have a job where this is not even an option, and that’s great. However, there are numerous distractions no matter what job you have; just try not to fall into them.

There are definitely tasks to do at home as well. One thing you can do when you’re busy at home is turn off the tv when you’re working. You want to get your tasks done as efficiently as possible so you can enjoy quality time. Whether you’re washing the dishes, paying bills, or catching up on your blog, eliminate the distraction from the tv.

It’s hard to resist the millionth episode of Friends playing in the background when I’m doing something not fun. It’s too tempting to lose track of time, and losing track of time leaves more work for you to do during your quality time.

Work on your goals a little at a time.

Whatever goal you’re trying to accomplish, focus on it a little at a time. When something’s really important to you, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and drive to reach that goal.

As you’re working towards your goal, try to be mindful of how much time you’re spending, and spend that time in segments.

Are you working for three nonstop hours during your free time? Wouldn’t it be better for your home life to work for just one hour? Once that hour is up, you get to relax and unwind. Doing this allows you not to burn out while you’re chasing the dream.

By no means am I suggesting that you let your goals take the back burner. No way. What I am saying is work at a manageable pace. The view from the top won’t be nearly as sweet if you’re too tired to look around.

Use a planner and set aside times for tasks.

I swear if I didn’t have a planner, half of my day wouldn’t get accomplished. Giving yourself time to take a break at home and de-stress can only happen when you don’t feel like there’s still 18236182 tasks left to do for the day.

Grab yourself a planner that you really like and write down your to-do list for the day. Try to be as detailed as possible in your planning. I’m talking write down every little thing you need to do and exactly how much time you need to spend on it.

I really do have a love for planners. Some that I really like are the Erin Condren LifePlanner, the Emily Ley Simplified Planner, and my current planner from Plum Paper. Grab yourself a planner that breaks down the day into hours, so you can really take charge of your time.

My favorite layout is probably the Emily Ley Simplified Planner because it has a split page layout with hour breakdowns and a to do list check off. However, you can customize the Plum Paper planner and the LifePlanner to similar layouts.

If you can segment off time for your goals and tasks, you’re prepared to actually get them done. A visual representation of your to-dos can be really motivating. You have a plan, and you can see the finish line ahead..

Stick to your plans.

Is this too obvious to talk about? Maybe, it is for you, but not for me. I’m kind of a pro at making my planner look awesome with color coded task lists, and then skipping ten of them. Fail.

I probably skipped those to-dos because I got distracted or I procrastinated. Both total killers. Not to mention the fact that now I feel badly because I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to. That guilt stresses me out even more.

Once you make your plan for the day, challenge yourself to stick to it the best you can. Sometimes, of course, things come up. However, most days you can do the things you set out to do.

Keep your list visible at all times, and monitor how much time you’re spending on each task. I bet if you do this, you’ll actually find extra time left to catch up on some things you left behind at work the day before. Now you’re all caught up and maybe even a little ahead. Win!

Set aside a time to end the day.

Leah Elizabeth Blogs, slow down image quote, how to protect your quality time

We talked above about planning out your day in detail. But, we didn’t talk about the one thing you probably have never thought of planning. The most important thing you need to plan is when you’re going to end your day. Set aside a time, any time that works for you, and stop. At some point the day just has to stop. You will burn yourself out otherwise.

Many times I’ve come home from work, continued to clean the house, make supper, and then work on my personal goals until time for bed. Every time I do this I feel as though I’m not really living. I feel like the hamster on the wheel, and I’m exhausted.

Pick a time, and stick to it. If you pick seven p.m., once the clock hits seven step away from the work. No more cleaning, no more grading, no more emailing. This is your time. Now you can zone out on YouTube, play with your kids, hang out on the couch with your husband or boyfriend, whatever you want to do just for fun.

When you can end your day, you can focus on having that quality time at home that you desperately need. I promise, quality time at home is the best thing for your stress level and overall happiness. You can’t de-stress if you never stop. Take a break; it’ll still be waiting for you tomorrow.

Thank you so much for spending some time here and reading my blog. Please leave a comment and share how you protect your quality time at home. I’d love to know what works for you and helps you de-stress after a long day. Also, feel free to share this content on your socials. Your support is very much appreciated!