Welcoming 2020

Lifestyle

I honestly can’t believe that in a few short days we will be welcoming not only a new year, but a whole new decade.  2019 was one for the books. I’m not gonna lie it really had me in the first half and I began to think I’d never make it through, but things quickly turned around and it turned into my favorite year yet.

This year has taught me so much about life, people, and myself. I learned that life isn’t always going to go your way and that’s okay. One of the hardest things I had to learn how to do is to let go and let God. I have to accept the fact that His plans for my life are way greater than any plans I could make for myself. Getting to experience His blessings and some of His plans for my life this year has been nothing short of amazing.

The lessons that I have learned this year have made me so strong, and while they were painful, I am so thankful. I learned that people aren’t always who you think they are in the beginning. People can put on a mask, but once their real colors start to show that is when you have to be careful and sadly I failed to do so. I cared too much and gave too much time and energy when I shouldn’t have. I got my heart shattered and was left so broken. While at first I thought it was the worst thing that could’ve happened I quickly learned that it was the best. I did not need anyone in my life that was going to leave me feeling any less than loved and worthy everyday.

I felt what I needed to feel, I picked myself up and I was determined to be the strongest and happiest version of myself that I could be. I learned to love myself more and more each day. I knew I was a little broken, but I accepted that and let it make me stronger. For the first time I was living life for myself and not for someone else. I went out, I had fun, and I did things that made me smile from ear to ear. I finally felt free and happiness was written all over my face. Little did I know that God had something big planned for me this year…

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In August I met the love of my life. Out of all the blessings I received this year he is truly my biggest one. I thank God every single day for sending him to me at the perfect time in my life. He made everything I have ever been through feel worth it. All the pain, tears, and heartache were all worth it and I would go through it all a million times if I knew he would always be the end result. Not only did I gain one of the sweetest humans in my life, but I gained a second family as well. His family never fails to make me feel welcome and they love me like their own.

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I am so excited to welcome 2020 with open arms. I get to take on a whole new decade with someone who loves me for everything that I am and who is my absolute best friend. I get to learn more about myself, experience new things with my family, and will be closer to graduating college. There is so many exciting things in the decade to come and I can’t wait to see what God has planned. Let’s make this the best decade yet.

Goodbye 2019… thank you for the memories, lessons learned, and blessings you have given me.

-Taylor J

5 Books That Have Changed My Life

Lifestyle

Guest writer Aaliyah from https://aaliyahinspired.com/

It’s nearing the end of 2019 and I feel that, personally this year, I’ve experienced the most growth than ever before. I would have to give all of the self-growth credit to the books that have changed my life within these last 12 months. Although I’ve read over 20 books this year, I narrowed down my list to the top five books that have influenced me the most this year and I hope that you will have the chance to close out the year with one of them!

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This was the first book I had read at the start of 2019 and it was the catalyst that I needed to gear up for all the new goals I had planned for. Charles Duhigg digs deep into the psychological barriers that we have when trying to change or create new habits and offers practical strategies to combat the “habit loop” we’re all victim to.

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1574871386&sr=8-1

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Will Smith once said in an interview that this book changed his life so I knew I had to read it. This is a beautiful story about a young boy Santiago who’s in search for his Personal Legend (in other words, purpose) in life. He encounters a wise old Alchemist who gives him guidance to discover the secrets of this world and wisdom on how to uncover his purpose. If Will Smith recommends it, then you know it’s worth the read!

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0062315005/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+Alchemist&qid=1574871484&sr=8-1

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Living with less is a concept that is gaining more and more attention in this generation and I am all for it. Instead of being in a vicious loop of consumption and overaccumulation, Joshua Becker puts his foot down and says our happiness doesn’t lie in the things that we fill our lives with instead it comes from the experiences we have and create. I loved this book so much that I read it TWICE this year.

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/More-Less-Finding-Under-Everything-ebook/dp/B015BCX0X0/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=The+more+of+less+by+Joshua+becker&qid=1574871633&sr=8-1

The 5 A.M. Club by Robin Sharma

I remember all the previous attempts I made trying to wake up at 5 a.m. every morning, but for some reason the habit never stuck. I never knew the secret ingredient to how all the successful billionaires and professional athletes of the world achieved this feat until I picked up The 5 a.m. club. Intertwined in a fictional story of two characters trying change the course of their lives, Robin Sharma introduces formulas, guides, and solutions that can be implemented in your life to ingrain this habit. I’ve been apart of the 5 A.M. Club for five months now and we’re recruiting new members!

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/AM-Club-Morning-Elevate-Life/dp/1443460710/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1574871800&sr=8-1

Best Self by Mike Bayer

I love the idea of everyone reaching their fullest potential and being the best version of themselves and I believe that this book does a great job of bringing that out of the reader. I worked every exercise in this book and the results are astonishing. Mike Bayer is a life coach who’s seen it all when it comes to people’s limiting beliefs, addictions, and struggles. He, himself, struggled with drug addiction years prior to writing this book. This is a great book to fine tune the beautiful person you’re already into the best version of yourself.

Purchase Here: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Self-You-Only-Better/dp/0062911732/ref=sr_1_1?crid=25BR4KAUY47M6&keywords=best+self+mike+bayer&qid=1574871872&sprefix=best+self+mike+%2Caps%2C187&sr=8-1

Those are the top five books that have taken my year from 0 to 100 real quick and I hope that at least one book on this list makes it into your hands and changes your life forever.

5 Ways To Give Back During The Holidays

Lifestyle

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I wanted to talk about some ways you can give back during this time! The holidays can get so busy between buying gifts, cooking, family, and planning that we often forget how hard this season is for so many people, not only all over the world, but in our hometowns as well. There are many different ways to give back but these are a few simple ones:

1.) Donate to a food bank.

Many churches, schools, and stores will have food banks around this time of year. This is where you purchase certain food items that will be donated to a family in need. If there are not any places doing a food bank in your area you can even start one of your own!

2.) Participate in/host a toy drive.

Toy Drives during Christmas are great to be a part of. You can purchase toys or even donate toys to the drive. The kids are truly so thankful for any contribution and it helps make their Christmas special.

3.) Donate items to a local homeless shelter and/or animal shelter.

This is the time of year where temperatures drop and many people and animals are in need of clothes/blankets to keep them warm. You can donate things like jackets, scarves, gloves, and socks to the homeless shelter and things such as blankets to the animal shelter.

4.) Volunteer (churches, shelters, nursing homes, etc.)

Since this time of the year is extremely busy it is great to offer your help wherever it may be needed!

5.) Spend quality time with loved ones.

This one is simple, but it’s so important. You can give back to your loved ones by simply giving them your time and attention.

I encourage you to at least give back in one or more of these ways over the holiday season. Giving back will not only make someone else’s day, but its a feeling you will never forget as well.

-Taylor Johns