Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Weekend Recap: Girls Weekend in Chicagoland

Each year, since our freshmen year of college, my best friends come to my parents' house for Memorial Day weekend. Despite being in Illinois, our tradition has stayed in tact. Sadly, this year, we were missing one of our group of six, but the five of us had a blast!

Our Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday Night
The girls flew into Chicago Saturday evening, so once I picked them up, we headed to Velvet Taco for dinner. This place had such interesting tacos - Picnic Chicken, Falafel, and Cuban Pig were big hits with us. From there, we headed to the lake! Prior to the girls arriving, I bought us tickets for a fireworks cruise. It was so fun! If you're ever able to do a fireworks cruise, I highly recommend it. We were on the boat for about three hours, where we were treated to an architectural tour before the fireworks began. We were freezing, so bought some hot chocolate (with Bailey's) to sip and warm up throughout the tour. When the fireworks began, I was in awe. Fireworks are one of my favorite things, so I was in heaven. We had a great vantage point and the fireworks were incredible! Some of the best I've ever seen, in fact.


Sunday
During the day, we explored downtown Naperville. We started with Moser Tower, where we climbed over 250 steps to the top. What an amazing view! You could see all of Naperville from up there. We then walked along the river into downtown to visit Le Chocolat du Bouchard. We all sampled little desserts and delicious lattes. We were so full of chocolate! On our way back to the car, we found the perfect photo wall, so we stopped and had a mini photoshoot. I don't think I've ever done so many Boomerangs!


Sunday Night
Part of our tradition over the holiday weekend is to get dressed up and go to dinner. This year, we went to Rosebud for Italian. After dinner, we found live music at Jimmy's, just across the street. We sat outside, had a drink, and listened to the band until heading home. Before ending the night, we had a bonfire, complete with s'mores.


Monday
Memorial Day was relaxing. We slept in, had crepes for breakfast, and then went to downtown Naperville. We each brought a book to read while we sat on a blanket by the river. When we got home, we played a couple of intense games of foosball until it was dinnertime. For dinner, we had a classic BBQ - hamburgers, hotdogs, brats, coleslaw, corn on the cob, caesar salad, and chips. Let me tell you, we were all very full!

This weekend was full of reminiscing, laughter, Boomerangs, exploring, and "Strip That Down" by Liam Payne. It was a great Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 29, 2017

10 Reasons for my Happiness

After yesterday's post about my depression, I wanted to make sure I remembered all the reasons I'm happy. Although it's a struggle some days more than others, there's always things to be happy about.

My God.
Whenever I feel His presence, I've overcome with a sense of peace, love, and happiness. Reading my Bible before bed is one of my favorite things to do because I feel Him.

Being surrounded by my friends.
My closest friends have a way of creating more happiness than I could have imagined. I laugh more when I'm surrounded by my bright, caring, supportive friends.

Cuddling with my dogs.
Kinchie and Whinnie are balls of love. They love their family and I always feel happy when I'm snuggling up with them.

Traveling and exploring new places.
I so have the travel bug! It's just so fun and exciting to explore new places, whether it's far away or in your own neighborhood.

Singing in the car.
I absolutely love to drive. When I have my music up high and I'm belting it out and dancing along, I'm super happy.

Coming home.
No matter how old I get, there's something so nice about coming home to your parents' house. It's relaxing and familiar.

Fireworks.
I absolutely LOVE fireworks! Watching them is one of my favorite things and it never fails to make me giddy.

My TV shows.
I definitely get deep into my tv shows. They make me so happy!

Capturing moments.
I take photos wherever I go. I love having memories to look back on, as well as displayed in frames around my home.

Planning with Southern Magnolias.
I love that I share a business with my sister. I absolutely love the work that we do, as well as the amount of time we spend together. She's the best!

What are some things that make you happy?

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Letter to my Depression

Dear Depression,

We've known each other for a while now. Coming up on eleven years, in fact. When you first showed up in my life, I wasn't quite sure what you were. I recognized that I was sadder than normal, but I was fourteen, dealing with an undiagnosed illness, moving to a new state, and trying to make friends. There were a lot of things I was trying to combat and you found your home in that struggle. I remember you telling me that it would be easier if it all just stopped. I wouldn't be sick anymore and I would no longer have to feel the way I was feeling. You were an enemy I was fighting off without even realizing it.

Fast-forward to the next year, when you decided to take a break from me. I had wonderful friends, was learning how to manage my illness, and enjoyed life for the most part. I thought my bout of sadness had surpassed, believing it was only situational and that I wouldn't need to deal with you again.

Then you came back with a force of lighting my first year of college. It was the first time I introduced myself to you, learning you had a name: Depression. I finally told someone about you and she explained everything. Dr. S. helped us become friends. She explained that you were a chemical imbalance in my body. While dealing with my illness, my body had exerted itself too much to also remember to continually produce the correct amount of serotonin. I burned through my full day's worth before lunch, which allowed you to re-emerge.

That's when I learned that you would be with me for life. There would be times when we were attached at the hip and times when we'd take space. But what mattered was that I accepted you and become your friend. Thus began a new adventure. That day, we started taking Sertraline, a serotonin supplement, to help us get along. Unfortunately, during that time, another chronic illness began to emerge, leading me to take time off school. During that time, I suffered heartbreak and loneliness, two things you thrived on.

I had never really understood how serious and all-encompassing your friendship was. I was consumed by you. My days during those three months were spent in a tough mind-space. I was questioning a lot things and trying to understand why you picked me. I already had two chronic illnesses, I didn't need a third. I started to speak to a therapist about you once a week. I, however, never truly felt comfortable expressing those feelings to her, so ultimately stopped when I went back to school in the spring. During this time, we decided to up my dose of Sertraline.

It's been six years since Sertraline was introduced into my daily schedule and six years since I started to see a difference in my behavior. For the majority of that time, you left me alone, allowing Sertraline to intervene on my behalf. Until these last few months, I hadn't given you much thought. I'd pushed through and overcome your influence. But then you showed up. I haven't wanted to admit to anyone that you'd entered my life again, because it felt like defeat. I'm still taking my antidepressant, so why are you here? This time period in my life has been full of change and uncertainty in my future. It's brought up a lot of questions about where I want my life to be and where I want to live it. Apparently, that's where you've found your new home. You've given up on loneliness and found uncertainty. I'm working every day to show you that your friendship is one that doesn't need to be prominent. You can be a silent partner in the background, while I continue to find joy in the things around me.

The most frustrating part about your friendship is not knowing when you're going to show your face. It could be in a weak moment a couple of days from now or a feeling of loss in a few years. Everyday I fight to keep you at bay. I never let myself give in to your friendship - a constant battle between you and my own happiness.

However devastating it can be, you've taught me more about myself than I thought possible. I've learned to embrace you, call you a friend. You're something that connects me to others that have also found your friendship. You've allowed me to be in tune with my own emotions. I can decipher between sadness and depression, because trust me, there's a difference. You've made me stronger, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Until next time, your friend,
Ainsley

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My ESTJ Personality Type

I don't know about you, but I love all things Personality Test. I find it so fascinating to learn about how I operate, as well as those around me. I think that's part of what drew me to starting a career in Human Resources. Understanding people and how they think is exciting and intriguing to me.

Because I find it so interesting, I thought it might be fun to share who I am as a person, based on my results from 16personalities.com (a simpler Myers-Briggs test). I am an ESTJ-A or "The Executive."

MY RESULTS:
E - Extraverted (82%)
S - Observant (90%)
T - Thinking (72%)
J - Judging (83%)
A - Assertive (72%)

As you can see, I was definitely in the majority percentages for each category. What does all this mean for me? As an executive, I love order. Everything has it's place and a right or wrong way of doing things. I live in a world of clear, verifiable facts, making me very aware of my surroundings. I also love to bring people together - something that has been very apparent in my friendships, as I love to plan get-togethers and be with people.

From the website: "Few personality types are as practical and strong-willed as Executives. Known for their reliability and administrative skills, Executives are good at creating and maintaining a secure and stable environment for themselves and their loved ones. Executives' dedication is invaluable in many areas, including their own personal growth."


ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS:
I am very upfront about who I am, what I want, and what my goals are, so I tend to lead steady relationships. Because I'm so strongly Observant, communication is key for me. I'll always approach a situation head on and with a rational approach. I'll also work very hard in my relationships. "Executives take their relationships seriously and are willing to put a tremendous amount of effort into ensuring that they remain strong and committed and that effort pays off."

FRIENDSHIPS:
I value loyalty and shared values like no other.  Friendships that are dependable and share mutual interests are powerful connections that endure life's changes. I am someone who has friendships from when I was eight and from each location I've lived. I value my friendships above everything, so work to protect that, as well as choose to be very cautious about the friends I invest in. But when I do, you'll have me for life.

CAREER PATHS:
I think the two career paths that I've chosen - Human Resources and Event Design - both fit my personality well. The website said that I would end up in situations where I'd be able to exercise my affinity for organization, structure, and follow-through - all of which I've utilized. "From the genuine enjoyment Executives feel in organizing other people to their knack for clearly expressing their principles, values, and expectations, Executives are extremely effective managers." I'm so lucky to have found careers that not only fit my personality, but that I love!


So what about you? I'd love to hear what your results to this test were!

Love, your Executive

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Weekend Recap: Mother's Day

This weekend was perfect! Saturday was super busy and Sunday was spent relaxing. We celebrated Mother's Day a day early due to my sister's work schedule, so Saturday was spent celebrating Mom. To find out how we spent our weekend, read below.

Saturday Morning: NASCAR

My parents surprised Kenneth with an early birthday gift over Easter and this weekend they cashed it in. Both my Dad and Kenneth did the Mario Andretti Racing Experience! This means that they each drove a Nascar, solo, around the Chicagoland Speedway. My Dad drove 151.92 mph and Kenneth drove 152.04. They went FAST! Us three ladies went to cheer them on and had a blast!


Saturday Night: Paint Nite

Bethany and I surprised our Mom with tickets to Paint Nite! I had never been, but Bethany had, and said it was a blast. And it was! The three of us had so much fun spending the night together, just painting, drinking, and laughing. We also surprised her with something she's been asking for since Christmas: Alex and Ani bracelets. In honor of Mother's Day, we thought the birthstone bracelets would be perfect!


Sunday: Pure Relaxation

We started Sunday off with a lovely brunch with the whole family. After brunch, Bethany and Kenneth left and I began my binge of 13 Reasons Why (which I finished Monday night and can't stop thinking about). To finish off our day, my parents and I enjoyed a great dinner, complete with BBQ'd chicken, caesar salad, squash, and garlic bread. 

I had such a great weekend spent with my family, enjoying new things. I hope all the mamas out there had a very special Mother's Day!
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Monday, May 15, 2017

Romantic Blush Styled Shoot

During my Friday Introduction on Instagram last week, I shared that my passion lies in my business, Southern Magnolias. I love to plan, create, and design event spaces! Today, I thought it might be fun to show you little of what I do. Our company launched in September 2016, so to celebrate, we designed a small-scale shoot for our portfolio. We decided to create a space that mimicked our brand, so we chose a blush, cream, and gold color palette. We wanted both romance and glamor, while also keeping the rustic vibe of the venue. Our reception table utilized lace; sweetheart table had a beautiful gold sequin tablecloth; cocktail hour had a garnish bar; escort cards featured succulents; and the ceremony space had the best view of the water. I hope you enjoy a brief look into our first ever styled shoot. If you want to see a more in-depth look, including cocktail recipes from the shoot, head to Southern Magnolias' blog.

The shoot took place at Willow Creek Farm in Urbana, with flowers by Flowers by Kristine, desserts and cakes by Sugar by Sarah, calligraphy by Letters from Lindsey, and photography by Wright Photographs


Interested in more? Check out our second styled shoot featured on Artully Wed here.

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