Breakthroughs and Thanks to Report!

dark-enough copy Friends,

I wanted to give you an update since my recent post about looking at my perceived disappointments through a new lens…one of truth and silver linings! So many of you left such kind and encouraging comments, and I want you to know that I am truly thankful for you.  Your feedback lets me know I did the right thing in opening up with you…yes! I also experienced healing as I stared at my “lie” and “truth” on the screen, in black and white.  I’m happy to report that powerful transformation is underway (more on that far below).

Here are just a few loving words I received from you:
“You are very brave! You are trying so many new things AND telling us about your journey. I’ve been inching toward more vulnerability myself and I know how uncomfortable it can feel. Your heart is so open; thank you for posting your blog. (I’m happy for your daughter to have you as a role model!  ) Actually, you’re a good example to me, too!”

“Such bravery, I so relate to the friendship, I love how you were able to be so honest with yourself looking at all sides yet always with love & compassion towards yourself ..I have no doubt you are leaving your mark . Again, such Bravery”

“Beautifully written. I will think of you when my moments of doubt creep in. Way to rock embracing opportunities- though the outcome isn’t what you desired, I have faith you were heard:) Let us know when the perfect fit comes along!”

“A brave and beautiful share. It seems like you are doing a great job of seeing things for what they are and then choosing to reframe situations in the truth. AND, to take action in positive ways. Such a wonderful example for us. For me. Thank you!”

And perhaps my favorite:
“Laura, I want you to know because of you I S T R E TC H E D ever so slightly. I have been held up at home so I got myself some markers, and with many bright colors wrote out a thank you card to my sister. I then drew some very ‘out there’ wild flowers…everything was bold, bright, abstract. I showed my daughter saying, ‘it’s kind of bizarre,’ it was one of those things you say hoping the other person will say ‘Oh no I think it’s rather cool’ or whatever, but she agreed saying, ‘yes it is bizarre’. Well that sent me…I felt bad, I felt, I couldn’t send this off. It’s no good, stupid, but then I thought of you. ‘What would Laura do?’ I thought of you, your willingness to put it out there regardless. So I sent it off to my sister. Haven’t heard yet, but the important thing is I listened to a braver voice, that said ‘Go ahead, what’s to lose?’  I’m going to remember this action. It will now be known for me as ‘Laura’s Law.’”

Friends, I am deeply touched and encouraged, more than I can adequately express.

What happened after I hit “publish” on that post?
A few days after the post went LIVE, I spent some time in prayer and meditation.  I began with a gratitude list, to shift my perspective and put my mind in a better place.  Have you also heard that grounding yourself in giving thanks can increase positive thoughts?  I know I’d heard this for years, but was not always consistent about putting it into practice.  This time, I allowed myself to have fun writing my list, which included everything from my loving family to dark chocolate and a hot shower.  3 pages later, I began to feel a prompting to “declare it over” regarding the feelings of sadness I haven’t quite been able to get beyond.   Three powerful words that I’ve clung to since that moment; “Declare it over.”

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I also felt a message of hope and love, and a call to wash my fears away and deepen my confidence, knowing I am a child of God.  I challenge you to make a gratitude list the next time you’re feeling discouraged…it has been so helpful for me, really and truly.

Where does self-care fit in?
As a mother and wife (and sister and daughter) who didn’t take time for myself consistently for years, I also wanted to share with you just how much doing so has changed not only my life and my perspective, but the lives of those closest to me, especially recently!

Last Sunday I gave myself the gift of 2 blissful hours of community and restorative yoga, where I was able to express my gratitude for the life I’ve been blessed with, and to recognize many irrational worries and fears in real-time as they attempted to cloud and attack my positive thoughts.  I’ve often heard others tell me that they can’t do yoga, because it drives them crazy to sit still.  I understand the frustration that comes with sitting quietly on the mat, and being uncomfortable and/or self-conscious. I think that is exactly WHY it’s so important to adopt a practice of quiet time, whether through yoga or through nature walks or bubble baths.  I believe those who think they can’t stand yoga are the ones who could benefit tremendously from it (I’ve been there!). It gives each of us a time to listen to those crowded thoughts (and believe me, they come fast and furious at first), and to train the mind to work for, not against us.

When we make time for consistent self-care and prayer, we are setting an example to our sons and daughters, partners, friends and siblings, demonstrating how important it is to put on our own oxygen mask first, before we can serve others.  What may initially feel selfish (taking time for self-care), becomes a radical act of love, allowing us to feel an increase in energy and blessings.  In doing so, we increase our capacity to give of ourselves.  It’s as if our time is multiplied (more on that in a later post).

I’ve rambled a bit here, so let me again thank each of you for sharing such life-giving words with me recently;  it is my hope that each of you can be as generous and gracious with yourselves as you were with me. May you always be aware of the blessings and love that surround you!

Love,

Laura

Beauty Review! Cruelty-Free CC Cream by Physicians Formula; 100% Natural Origin and 70% Organic

cc cream review

New video up – come on over!

If you are in the process of giving your makeup bag a makeover, I’m sharing a product with you today that you may be interested in! It’s a CC, or color correction cream, made by Physicians Formula, that is 100% natural origin; 70% of the ingredients are organic. It’s made up of many things you can actually pronounce, like orange fruit water, jojoba seed oil, lemon peel extract, and even radish root.

Watch the video here or keep reading below for my thoughts.

To give you a quick history of my skincare routine, about a year ago, I set out to overhaul my makeup and skincare products, opting for those more eco-friendly with ingredients that were of natural origin where possible (link to my morning skincare routine video)

Keep in mind, I’d been religiously covering my face with Loreal and Lancome foundations for years and years, and although I loved the way they felt, I was less than thrilled about what they contained.

This Mind, Body, Green article details 12 toxic chemicals found in many cosmetics.  Things like Propylene Glycol, a petroleum plastic, synthetic preservatives, and synthetic colorants.

Last year, I fell in love with Physicians Formula’s Tinted moisturizer, which doubled as a light sunscreen.  The ingredients were of natural origin, and 80% organic.  I loved that it felt light and moisturized beautifully without feeling greasy.  The one challenge was the coverage didn’t always feel like it was enough, so I would layer in problem areas to make up for this.

When I saw their CC cream, I had to give it a try! It was a little more expensive, closer to $16 instead of the $11 or $12 I typically paid for their tinted moisturizer, but I was intrigued.

Here are my thoughts:
I was so excited to try it out, I put it on my clean face as soon as I got home that night.  I noticed right away that this product was a lot thicker than the moisturizer, which I didn’t mind.  However, I put it on without moisturizing my skin first, and that wasn’t comfortable.  My skin felt dry and a little weighed down.  I gave it a few hours and determined I’d need to use moisturizer first and give it another try the next day.

Good news! As long as you moisturize first, this product covers wonderfully.  It doesn’t feel too thick or too dry, and is easy to apply.  It wears well and is great for those days when I didn’t get quite enough sleep, or when I want a little more coverage.

  • The product color corrects through organic lemon, which reduces dullness and reveals brighter looking skin.
  • TheRed Micro-Algae tones down redness, and
  • Light reflecting pigments help to give you more of a flawless finish.

The SPF 20 is a valuable feature as well, and since the ingredients are natural orgin, you don’t have to worry about harmful sunscreen ingredients often used elsewhere.

The CC cream is cruelty free, free of synthetic preservatives and parabens,  free of GMOs and free of synthetic colors! I give it two thumbs up, and recommend you check it out for yourself!

I share weekly videos on living inspired through art, health and adventures on my YouTube channel, youtube.com /LauraCatherineCo

Links to product:

Physicians Formula Organic Wear CC Cream – 6226 Light: http://amzn.to/OfUIy9 (disclosure: Amazon affiliate link)

Light to Medium: http://www.physiciansformula.com/en-us/productdetail/face/bb-cc/06227.html

This post and video were not sponsored.  I just happen to love makeup and girly things!

A Transparent Post About The Sad Places in My Heart and These Opportunities to GROW

transparent-post Sweet friends,

This post has been on my mind for weeks now, as I wish to share the happy + sometimes sad parts of my life with you. In fact, it’s an honor to write authentically and interact with you in the online spaces we meet (comments, tweets, FB, Instagram, etc). I do so because it is my hope to encourage and inspire you to keep reaching for your dreams, and to let you know that sometimes life can feel discouraging and that’s OK, because we were designed for such a time as this.  I’m sharing some of my heart-opening moments and opportunities for growth with you here, planting my feet in faith and knowing with full-confidence that all is being worked together for GOOD!

In times past, sharing so openly with you during these moments of sadness or feelings of being “stuck” often brings about dramatic changes in my life, which I look forward to, and am praying for!

Let’s jump in!

Over the past few months, I’ve had to fight the temptation to feel discouraged (and worse, to stay there), not understanding why doors were closing, after I had my heart set on hearing a “yes,” not a “no, thank you”.  I’m going to share a few of these moments with you, because sometimes it’s OK to ask for help and to acknowledge we are struggling.   After each perceived disappointment, I’ve included something that I know to be TRUE about my life, to hold onto when I’m feeling down, as well as the SILVER LINING each challenge has gifted me.  This is an exercise in faith, and I accept the challenge.

A sampling of art from their website

A sampling of art from their website

1. The Art Opportunity: When I came across Charleston Supported Art (CSA) on my Twitter feed, I felt a spark of excitement at the possibility it held! For those who haven’t heard about the program, Charleston Supported Art is a platform to connect emerging and established artists and collectors.  The program aims to foster new relationships between collectors and artists with the potential for future art purchases. Essentially, if you are one of their 18 juried artists, you create artwork for the members of their program, who purchase a “share” to receive 6 original works of art. In doing so, the artist receives a stipend to create 32 pieces of fine art or fine craft, such as paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, textile, jewelry, and more.

What drew me to CSA? I loved the idea of being a part of their community, and the purpose it would give me in cranking out lots of watercolor art over the course of the year.  I saw myself finding much joy in the process, and was excited at the potential client relationships I could nurture for future business. In fact, I felt that CSA could be a huge theme for 2014 for me…it would give me a “purpose” in creating my art, and I knew this would be that “thing” that would get my art biz buzzing! The sky was the limit from here, I was certain.  This would give me the credibility and confidence to move forward in other artistic efforts, shows and events.

The application process felt intense, since it involved getting my art CV and digital portfolio in top shape.  There was writing and photographing and editing…and lots of anticipation!

Before 2014 arrived, the “no” hit my inbox.  My heart sunk, since I’d put so much weight on this being the theme for my year.  What did this mean for the direction I should take in 2014? I was unsure.

Lie: I am not, and will never be, a successful artist.  I’m not “good enough”. I should give up.
Truth: My perceived success (or lack thereof) with my artwork does not define my worth. My art blesses and uplifts those who receive it, and provides me a platform to share loving messages.
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:10-11, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Silver Lining: Not making it into CSA gave me the blessing of more time and flexibility with my artwork. I avoided possible feelings of overwhelm. I was able to press on and create art for my love-themed sale (more about that next).

InnerFireEtsy 2. The online art sale: February was Valentine’s month, and I was determined to make the most of my love for creating watercolor art, to prove to myself (and perhaps others?) that I could do this art thing, with or without the CSA gig.  I put together a collection of love-inspired watercolor paintings, and was super excited to launch my art sale on Instagram, after having seen several other artists have success in holding sales on the social platform.  I would utilize hashtags and make both originals and prints available to fit multiple price points.

I spent time researching how best to frame my watercolors and settled on the floating glass frame setup, which my hubby helped me with.  I thought sending the love-inspired art into the world on the day of love would be perfect!
IAdoreYouEtsy

The day of the launch, I sent out the blog post with joy, and couldn’t help but check Instagram and Etsy throughout the day, also sharing news of the sale on Facebook and Twitter.  I stayed positive and hopeful that day and into the night, finally acknowledging the disappointment I felt when midnight arrived and my big launch day had came and went with no sales.  I wanted to cry, and felt confused.  I was in battle with negative thoughts.

Lie: I’m a failure. I’m not a “real” artist.  No one likes or wants to buy my work.  I should give up.  I look ridiculous.  I’m embarrassed.
Truth: Perhaps it wasn’t the right time for this sale. The perceived success or failure of this sale doesn’t in any way define me.
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Silver Lining: I was able to grow my artistic portfolio and talents through creating this collection.  I have wonderful content for use in future Valentine’s cards and notes.  My time will come, when I’m ready and when others are ready.

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3. Listen to Your Mother Show. When I read about the Listen to Your Mother Show on Angie Mizzell’s blog, I was intrigued and was sure this would be a huge highlight of my year.  I watched the LTYM YouTube videos from other cities (it’s a nationwide movement), getting more invested in everything the show represented.  It seemed to be a beautiful platform to share my message of love and generosity with thousands of women all around the world.  I envisioned the camaraderie that the Charleston cast members would develop with one another, and wanted to be a part of something that felt meaningful.  I worked on my audition essay with much love and prayer, and was proud of what came through in my piece.  The topic was What Our Children Can Teach Us About Bullying, and it had a surprise ending and bold lesson.

Me at the audition

Me at the audition

The day of the audition, I was so excited I couldn’t find my way to the venue, getting turned around twice! I knew this could happen from nerves, as it usually does, so I was still fine on time.  My daughter went with me, taking photographs of the milestone moment.  She was present during my audition and I could hardly wait for her to see her mom be a “success”.  I wanted to show her that when you put your heart and soul into something, you are given the opportunity to spread your message.

Another “no thank you” arrived in my inbox, written with thought and care. Disappointment again came knocking, and I was discouraged. Confused. Sad. At the same time, I knew I shouldn’t take this personal, and that there was a reason for it to unfold in the way that it did.

Lie:
I am a failure.  My story doesn’t matter, and isn’t of value.  No one wants to hear what I have to say.  I don’t matter.  I’m not good enough. I don’t have value.
Truth: My story matters, and I’ll be able to share it with the right audience at the right time.  Perhaps it will come in a different form at a different time, not from a stage in an auditorium.
Scripture: Matthew 10:29-31, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Silver Lining: Not making the LTYM cast means my speech and message have wings to land elsewhere…perhaps another stage or platform.  It also means I can attend the show and fully enjoy it, with no fear! I have the gift of time to further refine my message to make it more powerful and of greater impact. Huge bonus: my daughter got to see me try and fail, and keep going.

4. YouTube. Over on my YouTube channel, my community was slowly growing (around 160 subscribers at the time of this post), and I set a goal of publishing a video every week, certain that doing so would provide a return on my time investment by way of views and subscribers.  I wanted to share my message of inspired living with others, impacting their lives in some way.

A recent video about Vegan Soap!

A recent video about Vegan Soap!

As April quickly approaches, as does my 50th video milestone, I found myself questioning whether the time has been well-spent, and if I’d ever see the subscriber count approach the thousands.  I felt embarrassed about my numbers there, and sad that the videos I create with love aren’t shared with more people.  My YouTube income for the past 6 months hovers around $15, and I joke with my hubby about the fabulous meal I’m going to buy him when we hit $20.  I question my motives, and whether I’m good enough.  I tell myself more people would watch if I was more attractive, more bubbly, more engaging…

Lie: I am a failure.  I will never have a thriving YouTube community.  No one cares, no one is listening.  If I were thinner/prettier/more dynamic I would be a “success”.
Truth: My subscriber base is more than enough to fill a movie theatre! The right people, at the right time, are watching.
Scripture: Psalm 34:17-20, When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Silver Lining: With each video, I learn new skills and improve my posturing and editing.  My channel is being prepared for a larger audience, if it should happen, at just the right time.

5. This blog. Close to 200 posts later on this blog, I also find myself doubting that what I write about matters.  Readership has been slow and steady, and watching the open rates and stats for new blog posts usually hurts a little.  Many readers are too busy to comment, and I get it, because I am often the same way! Reading the blog posts of others but not always having the time to share how much it meant to me. I tend to take unsubscribes personally and wonder what I’m doing “wrong” that has contributed to the slow growth.  It also feels humiliating since I’m a digital marketer and my job description is to grow strong online connections and interaction.  Laura-Catherine-Co-logo

Lie: I am wasting my time and energy in writing and publishing blog posts.  I should give up.
Truth: My articles are being shared with the right people at the right time.  Even if I only touch one person, my time is well spent because it made a difference in their day.
Scripture: Romans 12:12, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Silver Lining: Writing is therapeutic and allows me to work through my fears and process my experiences in incredible and powerful ways.

6. My health journey. Though I’ve found new joy and renewed hope in my weight loss efforts this year thanks to Holy Yoga and a wonderful community yoga class on Sundays, the scale remains a huge source of shame and disappointment.  The numbers don’t move much, and I seem to gain and lose the same 5 lbs.
Laura-at-show

Lie: I will never lose weight. I will always struggle with being overweight.  I am a failure, I’m unattractive.
Truth: I have the tools and ability to take control of my health and become a radiant success.  The number on the scale doesn’t define me.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Silver Lining: The frustration I’ve felt has gifted me with empathy for others who also struggle in losing weight.  When my success story arrives, I’ll savor it even more and will be able to share what has worked for me with others.

7. Friendships. Friendships have felt heartbreaking at times, and I often believe that I must not be a desirable, or good, friend.  I wonder what I’m doing “wrong”, and how should “change” myself.  Those who I have invested much love and time into don’t always seem able to reciprocate, and their words sometimes leave me feeling discouraged (anyone else guilty of reading into everything?).  Most don’t have time to interact as often as I’d like; I crave the sound of their voice on the other end of the line, and more face-to-face time.  Since I tend to work alone most days, I also fear that I talk “too much” when in a group setting, which feels embarrassing and humiliating.

A friend I adore, who showers me with kindness! Visit her blog...

A friend I adore, who showers me with kindness! Visit her blog

Lie: No one wants to be my friend.  Something is wrong me with. I am undesirable and unwanted.
Truth: I am a valuable friend with love to give. I have many friends who love and care about me, who are just in a busy season, and others who interact with me regularly with joy. Many new and beautiful friendships are forming and will continue to grow. It is nothing personal and has nothing to do with me. I will find forever friends when the time is right. They will enjoy my company and we will look forward to spending time together. I also am blessed with a wonderful sister and friend for life, and a sister-in-law who lives just 20 minutes away! My mom is always there to talk and my mother-in-law visited just last weekend for a women’s conference.
Scripture: Proverbs 27:9, The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Silver Lining: Not always feeling like I have a best friend to call, I’ve turned my love and that friendship time towards my husband, even going so far as editing his contact information on my phone to read, “my amazing husband, my best friend”.  Something as small as that little prompt reminds me that I DO have a best friend, who knows, loves and understands me.  We are each other’s favorite friend and look forward to spending time together.

8. Post cross-country travels. I knew to expect a bit of a natural “let-down” after settling back into our new routine after spending the summer on the road, traveling 10,000 miles when all was said and done.

Crater Lake memories...

Crater Lake memories…

When it visited my heart, I recognized it right away and began to put my familiar mood boosters into place to fight off the sadness.  I upped my self-care, made sure to give myself the lift from taking extra care in my appearance (natural makeup, skincare, clothing and accessories that made me feel feminine) each morning well before we went about our day.

I picked up several weekly volunteering activities, including Fields to Families, the Dream Center, and more recently, a full day in the Seacoast office and Sundays in the youth services. I spoke at the Center for Women, led a vision board session for pregnant teens, and am working on future volunteer projects.   I completed three women’s bible studies and joined both a couple’s small group and a women’s small group.  I allowed myself coffee and chocolate when I really wanted it and made sure to “get out” of the house, if only for errands, to interact with others and feel more alive.  I cranked up my online content to keep me focused and motivated, and worked hard on video and writing projects. I asked for (and received) date nights and allowed myself to take a long bubble bath, dye my hair or paint my nails.  I upped my art time and time in the kitchen working on new recipes.

Folks, it’s been a full 6 months of this and more, and that nagging feeling is still often hanging around, making me feel like I’m not myself.  I feel frustrated, since my usual boosters don’t seem to be helping.  I also acknowledge a huge part of my sadness is the 2 years of homeschooling coming to an end last fall.  I miss my wonderful student and companion during the day but know that we made the right decision as a family, and his future is bright.

Lie: We will never travel freely or enjoy a trip of such magnitude.  We are “stuck” and not able to do the things we want to do.  I will be sad forever.
Truth: We were blessed with a magnificent trip that many will never experience.  The best is yet to come and many glorious travels await.  I’m turning a corner and will soon experience freedom, happiness and even more blessings.
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Silver Lining: Practicing patience and focusing on peace in the present moment and circumstances will prove to be worthwhile and meaningful.

Friends, thank you for allowing me to share with you today, and always.  I appreciate you and am so glad we are able to grow together.

Sending my very best,

Laura

Luis Machiacao Fashion Show | Principle Gallery (Video and Photos to Share!)

Fashion has been on my mind this month, especially with Charleston Fashion Week photos all over Instagram and Facebook! It just so happens that we were able to attend the Luis Machiacao Fashion Show at Principle Gallery on March 15th; I’ve been working on a video to share with you and have it ready now! It’s always so much fun to get dolled up and head downtown with my favorite people.  I was so impressed with the gallery and the sights and sounds of the evening were thrilling.  It was the first fashion show for my sweet girl, so that also gave me much joy.  For those still on a creative high from #CFW, I hope you find some inspiration in today’s post!

I’m also sharing some of my favorite looks for those who want a closer look (just below the video).

Luis Machicao Fashion Show at Principle Gallery | Charleston, SC
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Photos from the show:
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My favorite dress of the show:
favorite-dress

Thanks for watching along.  If you’d like to know more about Luis Machiacao, his website is lively and captivating.  Principle Gallery was quite the backdrop.