Thursday, October 18, 2012

Falling Again Into Thankfulness

This time of year is so nostalgic.  The leaves turning, the cool, crisp air.  I love it.  It feels like home.  It feels like a warm, baked apple crisp and burning candles that smell like pumpkin.  As the leaves change, and fall, the winter is close behind.  The holidays. The rush, and all that comes with it.  I've always thought that it was a good thing that Thanksgiving came first, as it prepares us for the joy of Christmas. It prepares our hearts. We go into a modern day, rush around, materialized holiday, or we should, in awe of what all God has given us.

Thanksgiving has always been such a special time of year for me.  Thinking back to family gatherings at Grandma & Grandpa's house ~ I can't help but share the very reason we celebrate.  THANKFULNESS.  Honestly, friends, I have so many things to be thankful for. It would be hard to share them all here.  There's the obvious things.  My family.  My girls. My husband.  My home. A good job.  So many dear friends. My Mom, my sister and my brothers.  My health. God has been good to me, and for that I am so grateful.  How could I ever say, "thank you" enough?

Now, in reality, sometimes it's hard to be thankful, right?  It's hard to say, but it's true.  There's those who are without jobs.  There are those who suffer with depression, Those who are lonely.  And unfortunately, there are those who have said goodbye to loved ones.  There are those who are suffering with cancer.  Honestly, friends, I've been in every one of those circumstances.  I've been without a job, suffered with depression, been lonely, said goodbye to loved ones, and I've seen, first hand, the hurt, grief and pain that cancer can leave in its path.  No, I don't have any resolutions or revelations on the "whys" and "why mes".  But I can say this.  I'm thankful.  Every one of those valleys that I've been in; I've come out.  I'm thankful that I had friends and family that stood by me.  Held my hand. Prayed for me. Loved me. I'm thankful that through the pain, God said, "You might not understand, but you will survive!".  We can, in everything, give thanks.  That's what I will choose to do. In the mean time, I will cry with those who are hurting and suffering. My heart aches for the brokenhearted, but like I've always said, "Hang on...because after the rain, the sun will shine again."

Hold on to the ones you love.  Take a long walk in this beautiful, fall weather.  Bake a pie, have a bonfire, help your neighbor....heck, just go outside and soak up this wonderful season.  FALL into thankfulness.  Gratitude is such a wonderful state of heart.

Journey On,

Leigh Ann

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Wise Choice....

Life has been good to me.  I've made many friends a long my journey.  I'd like to go back a few years and tell you about one special friend named Michelle.  We met on the outskirts of Memphis when my family and I moved to Cordova, Tn. to minister at a small church.  The very first Sunday I knew there was something special about her and her family.  She cordially greeted and welcomed us, and within days we connected.  

Now, picture this.  This time in my life was hard.  My Dad was terminally ill, and so was my best friend, Shari. I knew the days ahead would be dark, and as I found out soon enough; so did God.  He knew that my heart would be in need of a special person to help me along.  And His choice was Wise.  You ask...why did I capitalize that?  Because Michelle's last name is Wise.  Corny, I know.  That I bring that up, but wise she is.  Not only was my father and friend sick, but we had moved to a strange place.  New people.  New house.  New adjustments for the girls.  I was lonely.  I was homesick, and my heart was grieving in a way that I had never experienced.  One minute pure joy for our new surroundings; the next overwhelmed with a cloud of darkness that burdened my spirit.  

Knowing my pain, Michele reached out.  She did what so many people don't do to new families that invade their church and community.  She called.  She invited.  One of my first memories is my birthday dinner that she had for me.  Yes, she cooked and made a delicious cake.  Honestly, I don't remember the exact flavor of the cake, but I DO remember that she had a candle for every year that I had been on the earth.  We laughed hysterically, as she walked the cake out ablaze and set the fire alarm off.  Simple times.  Endless memories.  There were many Christmases that we shared our families.  The girls became "little sisters" to her son Justin, and Mike became like a second Dad to them.  Many dinners together with our kids playing and arguing just like real siblings. Many hands of cards. Spades and more Spades. (And many loads of laundry, huh Mike?) They genuinely became our family.  There were shopping trips for Christmas.  I mean shopping trips.  We took finding a Barbie VW Beetle for the girls' Barbies very seriously.  That required a trip to Mississippi.  I didn't think we would ever find one, but we did.  We set out.  We conquered.  Oh, how we laughed until we cried.  We shared family vacations. Long road trips and all. On so many different occasions the laughter, tears and friendship became a part of who I was.  It defined me as a person.  And to this day, even though miles separate us, it still does.  

Life went on.  We moved to Nashville several years later, and our friendship remained.  Today brings about a new chapter in our lives. Michelle's son, Justin will be getting married in December.  I honestly don't know where time has gone.  It seems like yesterday when our kids were playing together.  Now one is out of high school, and one is getting ready to become a husband.  This makes my heart so full.  I miss the times that we've missed the past few years, but wouldn't give a million of anything for the ones we shared.  

So, friendships are choices.  You choose to be a friend; and another chooses to return that friendship.  Cherish your friends.  Love them always; and reach out.  Be the one that goes above and beyond for someone.  It's hard reaching out to perfect strangers, but that one stranger may end up being your most cherished friend.  
Micah, Justin & Paige 

Michelle, I can't wait to be a part of Justin & Rachel's special day.  I cherish your friendship, and will never take for granted the difference you've made in my life.  I promise to wear waterproof mascara & bring lots of tissues.  I will surely need them. Love you. Justin & you both too.  Can't wait to see you all in December! 

I'm ashamed to say that I don't have a picture of Michelle & I together. That will change come December.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

For the Love of Self.

I do not consider myself a selfish person.  Is it selfish to love yourself? 

Let's talk friends.....

After many years of self condemnation, I do believe that I have finally learned to love who I am.  For years I didn't.  Years. The insecurities of just "being" developed early for me. Remembering back to elementary school it was my bucked teeth and boyish hair cut. Middle School it was just the daily attempts to fit in.  In High School it was finding that boy who would love me, the clothes that would make me beautiful, the social life that reigned above all, and the goal of reaching the status of "popular" that I had so highly set for myself.  Truly, it never happened.  I never got there. I never felt like I fit.

In my early 20's it was about me almost "being there".  New set of friends, new marriage, new church, and new family.  My status, socially, was climbing in the world's view. But was I there internally? No. With time, came my babies, and my existence became more valuable. I was good at this Mom thing. There were two little girls who needed me. Motherhood surely made my confidence soar as I had finally found a place in life. I do believe this is where God began to teach me, mold me and define for me; what my worth really was. 

Yes, I said God.  Without Him, I have nothing. Am I perfect in my faith? No. I'm not a perfect person at all.  If I was even close, I wouldn't feel any of the things I wrote about in my first paragraph.  I have, however, learned that my relationship with God is not based on the things I don't do. It's based on me accepting His love and gift to me. I don't have to answer to anyone on this earth about the way I've chosen to live my life. I'm not here to please men.  Truly, that has been one of the overwhelming obstacles in my life.  This is part of me accepting myself, and knowing that GOD knows my heart. I don't have to prove it to anyone else. 

I've discovered in my 40's that in life you have to learn to accept yourself. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Believe in yourself.  Because without can't love, accept, forgive or believe in others.  I believe that God designed the person I am. I believe that He loves me beyond my faults.  I pray, daily, that He move me out of the way so I can be who HE designed me to be.  

My parents taught me many things throughout my childhood.  Be a friend. Forgive those who hurt you. Treat others like you want to be treated.  Lend help to someone in need. Defend those who are mistreated.  Be the bigger person, and always do what's right.  Do not get me wrong.  There are times, in anger, that I'd rather slap someone silly than do what's right. I get mad. Really mad. I don't like to see people wronged or be wronged myself.  I have a tiger within me that wants to defend my family and friends. BUT, through life's tough lessons; I have learned that everyone has hurts. Everyone has been through something that has made them bitter or sad.  A lot of people have deep hurts that we will never know about.  I can't judge.  I have to look within myself and examine my own heart.  That's all I'm responsible for.

So, love yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Accept yourself.  And forgive yourself!  Forgiveness is so important! Let go of your mistakes and guilt.  I promise you it will be like being reborn.  Guilt is a captor.  It will hold you captive and destroy you.  I know from experience. Loving yourself is not selfish.  It's believing that your creator doesn't make mistakes. He knows what He's doing!  He can use any mistake that you've made and grow you in to a beautiful soul! I still have a lot of growing to do.  I still have pity parties where I'm the only attendee.  I still act ugly.  (On occasion).  I still have moments of discontentment.  I still want to beat myself up when I mess up. 

But ya know what?  This epic tale of "finding me" the mean time, love yourself so you can love others and I will do the same.  

Be beautiful,

Leigh Ann 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

To Oopsies & Best Friends

So, as you all have seen, I have been absent for a few weeks.  As I mentioned on Facebook, I forgot my login to my blog. I could NOT get in to my blog. I forgot the email I used. The password.  The whole nine yards.  I will define for you all in the near future the true, living example of ADD.  Yes, I have it.  Diagnosed.  Treated and ongoing. I sometimes fail to write things down.  When I don't forget to write them down, I forget WHERE I wrote them down.  Ugh.  Just another cramp in my 40ish something existence.  So here's to my oopsie for the month of September!

Now, on to more cramps.  I'm continuing to struggle with my "Change Challenge".  BUT I haven't given up! I have made better choices and I have failed to make EXCELLENT choices.  Does that make sense? I have given up Pepsi which is my true love. I have cut back on portions and eating past 7 pm. BUT I have failed to walk on a daily basis and put a defined plan in place to lose weight. I am down several pounds, but at this point I could be down 10-15 lbs. So, guess what?  I will march on!! I find that my struggles are more common that I've realized before, and that I can do this!  I HAVE to do this!  I want to be healthy.  I honestly think God is placing people in my life that have succeeded in losing weight and becoming healthy, and I look forward to spending more time with those friends and learning from them. You know who you are! (Wink wink)

On a lighter note~ in this "epic journey of finding me" I had such fun a couple of weeks ago!  My childhood friend, Lori Lanier Fatzinger, invited me to the Opry to see Keith Urban.  What fun we had!  Of course, we enjoyed the URBAN music,  the EPIC tale of Keith personally singing to Lori (for her birthday~), the good food & margaritas, the down town music of Nashville, and the rockin' surprise of KISS & Motley Crue sharing the same hotel!  But the most memorable time was just sharing, laughing and talking with one of my best friends in the world.  We have always shared laughter, tears, ups and downs, and we have always always been friends.  Through miles of separation, trials within our families, marriages and divorces; Lori has always been a constant.  No matter what this life holds for either of us; We are forever friends.  I know that in this day and time that is a gift.  So, Lori, thank you!  Thank you for your constant, loyal and sweet friendship.  I cherish it with all my heart.  I look forward to many more years of being your friend.  Heck, I've even been called your boyfriend.  (I may explain that to you all at a later date.  She knows what I'm talking about).  Love you girl!

So, I journey on.  Thank you all for sharing my struggles, my hopes and my dreams! And remember to "be beautiful" in everything you do! 

To be continued.....

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Naming my blog, "The Epic Journey of Me" actually made me smirk just now.  I'm not sure how "epic" it is, but it's my story.  I share with you all as a woman who has had joys and despair; hoping that some how my story can produce a laugh or smile or some type of contentment that you're not alone in life. We all have ups and downs.  So, the journey continues as I share with you all a glimpse into life as I know it.  

Life as I know it.  Well, life is good.  Although, I believe we all go through life wanting more, I thank God daily for my blessings.  I have a home, healthy children, and a happy marriage.  We have never been hungry. We've never lived on the streets.  

Now, on to some real stuff.  It's true.  There's an ongoing battle in my mind and body.  Do you know what I mean? Kind of like high school, but a grown up version.  Am I good enough?  I'm fat. Why can't I look like her? Crow's feet. Graying hair. Sore joints. It's all there.  Friends, I know.  Yes, I'm good enough.  I just have less confidence than some women my age.  I'm overweight.  (Fat seems so harsh). I am overweight because I choose to eat things that are bad for me. Crow's feet.  No comment.  Graying hair.  It plagues me. It's a constant battle. Sore joints? Oh boy, that hit me at 40 like freight train.  Everything else?  There's too many to name here. I don't have all night. 

So, there's my "life as I know it".  It's my reality.  Part of it is bliss.  The others I named are a shameful reality. This is what stinks.  In my mind?  I am 29 going on 30.  I want to be healthy. I want to dress in style and have a flair for fashion.  I have a love for beauty; makeup, shoes, jewelry and on and on.  I'm just STUCK!  I'm stuck in my body and my guilty pleasures that unfortunately, have caught up to me at 42.  

However, I am publicly going to announce a "Change Challenge".  I want to change.  I want to be healthy.  I want to FEEL beautiful!  So, guess what I'm going to do?  I'm going to announce my change in process.  Today is the day.  I will start with small changes so that I don't freak out.  More water, no Pepsi & a daily walk. I'll also cut out the guiltiest pleasure of all; CARBS. And yes, I'm going to do something that I SWORE I would never do!  I'm going to post my progress in PHOTOS.  It's NOT pretty. So, viewer discretion is advised. It doesn't get any more real than this.  It might not be a perfect journey as I know I will make mistakes, but I will arrive at a healthier me! Wish me luck! NO, pray for me. I know that works! 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My TOP 10 Beauty Must Haves!

I wanted to start my blog off with a bang this week so I decided to begin with my TOP 10 Beauty Must Haves! These are items that I use on a daily basis and pretty much couldn't live without.  Most items are affordable and can be purchased at your local dollar store, drug store or at Walmart. The others can be found at your local department store. If you're looking for new products to try~ I highly recommend these!  Read on, be beautiful, and enjoy!

#1  Must Have:   Merle Norman Purely Mineral Makeup
Although I've always been a liquid makeup girl, I recently asked my beautician what makeup she used.  It was luminous, natural, and the coverage didn't look too heavy. I immediately went out and bought this foundation and I love it! A first time mineral makeup user, I was hesitant but caught on quickly!  This is a great foundation with great coverage and doesn't sit in lines or wrinkles.  You can build the coverage and even apply with your choice of a brush or sponge.  Oil Free. BIG HIT!  Purchase at your local Merle Norman Store $25 

#2 Must Have:  Revlon Creme' Gel Eye Liner 

Eyeliner has always been a pain in my side.  Or eye.  Laugh out loud.  I have watery eyes, so finding the perfect, long wearing eyeliner has always been a challenge.  However, this is a must!  The application is smooth and easy as it is gel creme' and not a liquid.  The brush is precise and ease to use.  This comes in 4 choices in color, but of course, black eyeliner is a staple for me! Waterproof & lasts up to 24 hours!  LOVE LOVE LOVE!  Purchase at your local Walmart or drug store.  $10-11 

#3 Must Have:  Lancome Oscillation Mascara 

Yes, ladies.  It vibrates.  When I worked for Lancome and this product was introduced, I laughed.  Out loud.  I mean, really?  VIBRATING mascara?  Then I tried it.  Yep, no going back for this girl.  It's expensive.  It's luxurious.  It's worth it.  
With the push of a button, you can transform your lashes! Lengthens, separates, and adds volume quickly and with little effort!  Try it once!  I dare you! Purchase at most Department stores. $35 

#4 Must Have:  Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue Perfume 

Perfume has always been a love of mine!  Most women have a signature fragrance; this being mine.  I wear a lot of perfumes.  I buy them (or my husband does) as a collection, and I love trying new ones.  But this is my favorite.  It's light.  It's fresh.  It's clean.  It's feminine.  Most days that I wear it I get compliments.  If you're in the market for a new fragrance OR need something to add to your Christmas list...choose this!  You will love! Purchase at most Department Stores 1.7 oz $68 

#5  Must Have:  Garnier Refreshing Remover Cleansing Towelettes

I'm a big believer that I HAVE to take off my makeup before going to bed!  I've used a lot of cleansers, and still do on occasion, but for a fast, easy, detoxifying removal of your day's makeup; these are a must have.  They are gentle, do not burn my eyes, and do a great job of removing eyeliner and mascara.  Non comedogenic (won't clog pores). 100% oil free,  Dermatologist & Ophthalmologist Tested. Travel friendly. Purchase at Dollar General, Walmart or drug store. $5-6 (price varies)

#6 Must Have:  Suave Volumizing Root Boost Spray
Honestly, I've always had a weakness for salon products.  Proven salon products.  BUT, on a frugal budget, this is a great product.  Divide hair with your finger, spray on roots and blow dry.  It's really simple.  This spray isn't sticky, doesn't leave a residue and actually WORKS! Plus, it's not expensive.  Contains folic acid & collagen. Actually, all the Suave Salon proven products are wonderful, but this would be the one that I use the most.  Purchase at Dollar General, Walmart or your local drug store. $4

#7  Must Have:  Beauty Treats Sun Shimmer Face & Body Bronzer 

This is a beauty!  It subtly shimmers, adds beautiful color, and can be applied to your face & body!  I apply over my foundation mainly for the added POW & shimmer! Add this to your Summer line up at hardly any expense!  Wait ladies!
This price will stun you!  Purchase online or check your local tanning salon $5 (WOW!!)

#8 Must Have:  Softsoap Body Butter Coconut Scrub

I'm usually NOT a big fan of cheaper body products.  Formally I worked for 2 well known Cosmetic companies and was quite spoiled to their luxurious body products.  However, as I strolled the isles of Walmart one day, this caught my eye.  I LOVE the aroma of the beach. Don't we all?  I picked it up, lifted the lid and sniffed~ and bought it.  Although, the fragrance is not truly coconut, it radiates that "I've been to the beach" aroma.  Once I got this home, I used it with a bath puff in a circular motion and was instantly hooked.  Arms, hips, elbows, legs and on and on. It's gentle enough to use everyday and washes off easily.  I even use it to shave my legs.  Most importantly, it softens and smooths the skin!  Love this product!  Purchase at Dollar General, Walmart or your local drug store.  $4 

#9 Must Have:  Bath & Body Works Triple Moisture Body Cream 
  I love lotions & creams.  I love any sweet fragrance.  However, finding a lotion or cream that is actually beneficial AND smells sweet is hard.  I use lots of different hand creams, but for the body and legs I'm a little more particular.  Containing milk proteins, oils and extract it moisturizes without a greasy feel and lasts up to 24 hours.  Pictured here is the "Dark Kiss" fragrance which happens to be one of my favorites.  If you're needing a new body creme that won't break the bank~ visit your Bath & Body Works Store. Available individually @ $12.50 or can be purchased with many different combinations in store or online. 

#10 Must Have:  Lancome Juicy Tube Lip Gloss

Lip Gloss.  A must have for any girl, right?  So many to choose from. So many formulas, colors, and pretty packages.  Me?  I'm pretty picky when it comes to lip gloss.  I want glossy; Not sticky.  I don't want my lips to stick together when I'm trying to talk.  This is not a cheap gloss, but will last forever and provide that pretty gloss without drying your lips out.  There are endless colors and even seasonal packaging at certain times of the year.  Purchase at your local Department Store. $18 (I recommend buying their gift set of Miniature Juicy Tubes during the Holidays~ lots of different colors and will easily last all year!) 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finding myself....

I believe there have been many times in my life where I've wanted to "find myself".  Who am I? What defines me? What are my dreams?  What scares me? What are my passions? What makes me content? At 18, after graduating from high school, I found myself getting married.  Later in my 20's I became a Mom.  At this point in my life; I did have some revelation that this was something that I was good at!  I didn't quit at the first sign of stress.  My heart and soul were poured into these 2 little girls that soon became my world.  

In my 30's life became somewhat difficult.  Insecurities, failures, depression, and the onset of my reality were almost too much too handle. My 17 year marriage failed and it was my choice.  Yes, I chose divorce.  I chose it over my children's security and happiness.  I chose it for me.  As I felt like I had lost myself in a marriage where I had no real identity. I was someone's wife.  Someone's mother. My name was Leigh Ann. I had fears.  I had sadness. I had an overwhelming lack of self esteem. I felt lost.  To be better; I needed to find out who I was.  Who I wanted to be. I owed it to myself.  To my girls. 

My second chance came in my latter 30s when I met my husband, Patrick. At this point in life, our life together produced a combined family of 3 girls and one 1 boy.  Ranging in age from 3-14.  Life seemed peaceful, and even with work and sharing our kids with their other parents, I became somewhat content.  I believe my 30s were my most "beautiful" years. (laughing out loud). I did feel my best physically.  I FELT beautiful.  I began to dress like someone who is comfortable in their own skin.  My 30s and I. We had a good time. 

My 20's

My 30's

My 40's
Then it happened.  The new decade in my life came.  It started with a 4.  Ended with a 0.  Wow. Happily married- CHECK.  Beautiful & happy children- CHECK.  Feeling healthy- Nope. Feeling sexy- Nope.  Career in Place- Nope. Ideal weight?- Nope. 

So here I am.  Finding myself.  Come with me.  We'll take a look at the emotions, the daily grind, and all the girlie things that help make us who we are~ and help us to feel, act, and love beautifully! 

Journey on,

Leigh Ann