Top Self-Care Practices

If 2020 has taught me anything, it has been that self care is so important.

As March hit and life as we knew it was flipped on its head, people went into survival mode, more or less. Life was about adapting to the current situation at hand and learning to stay afloat. Jobs could no longer support all employees, schools quickly transitioned to hybrid learning and masks quickly became a new essential. With that being said, I have to come to realize that self care is a priority. You are your own advocate and

Know that taking of yourself is not selfish. It is important for your personal, physical, spiritual and mental health. For those of you who think like me, we are always aiming to help others and put ourselves on the back burner.

Below, I’ve listed some of the basic self-care needs that came to my mind when I am in need of “me time.”

  1. Journal your current thoughts and feelings.
  2. Spend time reading a book or magazine.
  3. Read a new passage of scripture and bible journal. So therapeutic, y’all!
  4. Freshen up by washing your face, brushing your teeth or brushing your hair.
  5. Go outside for a 10 minute walk.
  6. Put on one of your favorite songs.
  7. Text a friend and check in. Also pray for any needs to be met.
  8. Write a list of things you want to plan.
  9. Make yourself the perfect cup of tea or coffee.
  10. Treat yourself to a cake or a sweet treat.
  11. Snuggle with a pet or a friends’.
  12. Clip and paint your nails.
  13. Drink a glass of water.
  14. Watch a video from your favorite YouTuber.
  15. Listen to a new podcast.
  16. Treat yourself to something online.
  17. Read a blog post from your favorite blogger.
  18. Create a vision board on Pinterest.
  19. Clean and/or organize something.
  20. Write a list of things you’re grateful for.
  21. Hug someone.
  22. Delete any Facebook friends you no longer speak to.
  23. Make your bed. This one has become a new habit for me.
  24. Book an appointment you’ve been putting off.
  25. Try a new hobby.
  26. Volunteer somewhere new in your city.

What are some of your favorite self care practices?
+ Some of mine include taking a bath, reading a book or blogging with a coffee often nearby. On my days off, I’ll take a nap and that does wonders. These often help to renew my soul and fills my cup.

Above all else, be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to your neighbors. Be cognizant of the changes happening in the world and be aware of what is going on around you. We are all in this together and are doing our best to stay afloat. Everyday is a new start and a new look on life. Know that you are loved and there is only one of you on this planet for a reason!

Don’t be afraid to reach out with any thoughts, questions or concerns! I’d love to hear from you!

My cup overflows, Alex in Asheville

REVIEW: The Lying Game

Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Rating: ✰✰✰


NO SPOILERS HERE!

From the New York Times bestselling author of “In a Dark, Dark Wood” and “The Woman in Cabin 10,” Ruth Ware’s “The Lying Game” is a book full of twists and turns that leave you wanting more.

My husband originally bought me Ware’s “The Woman in Cabin 10” as a birthday gift last year and I was immediately hooked with the cover to cover suspense. Between Ware’s writing style, I knew was in for a treat when reading the rest of her books. I am a sucker for a good suspense novel, so I knew “The Lying Game” would be right up my alley.

From the minute I picked up this book, I was instantly hooked. Any break I had after work or during my days off, I found myself curled up with this book dying to find out what happened next. Although “The Lying Game” holds slower pace than most of her other books, it is still definitely a must-read!

THE LYING GAME reads like a grown-up version of the hit TV show Pretty Little Liars (a personal favorite of mine in college). Readers meet four friends: Isa (our narrator), Kate, Fatima, and Thea. The girls all attend the same boarding school, Salten, and instantly become best friends. Kate was the free-will teenager, Fatima the smart and cautious friend, Isa the reserved level-head and Thea the rebel.

During their time together at Salten, the four girls created their own “lying game.” The rules of the lying game are clear: no lying to each other ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out.

During their time at boarding school, this group thick as thieves always find themselves back at Kate’s house every weekend. They constantly check themselves out of school and dredge through fields and mud to that beloved house on the water. There, they fall in love with the reach and Kate’s dad, who treats them like his own. They are also introduced to Luc, who is like a brother to Kate and Ambrose’s other child.

After being expelled during their senior year due to the mysterious nature surrounding the death of the school’s art teacher and Kate’s dad, Ambrose, the girls slowly drift apart and live their separate lives. Although they go their separate ways, the four girls vow to keep this deadly secret between themselves at all costs.

As this story unravels, you learn that the three girls secretly deal with this notion that Kate killed her own father, but are constantly grappling with what her motive could’ve been.

After seventeen years apart, a text message arrives in the wee hours of the morning: I need you. Dropping everything and rushing back to the house at the Reach, the three girls come to Kate’s aid and try to put together pieces of the puzzle in what really happened to Ambrose.

Through their journey back together, they find answers that they never saw coming.

Do yourself a favor and check this book out, or any of Ruth Ware’s for that matter. You’re in for a real treat.

Thanks for stopping by!
Alex in Asheville

Sunday Scripts

If God’s hand is open to all, our hands can be closed to none.

Offer to be someone’s hands and feet today. Walk alongside those who are weary. Be prayerful in all things. Allow the spirit to lead and be obedient in leaning into the promises of our Lord always. Show empathy for others.

Be someone who uses your lips for truth, voice for kindness, ears for compassion, hands for charity and heart for love.

He is fighting for you today.

TOP 5 FALL ACTIVITIES

Fall is almost here, y’all! Fall has always been my favorite season and means sweaters, leggings, boots and bonfires. Just two weeks ago, pumpkin spice hit my local Dunkin’ Donuts and it touched my soul a little differently.

As our first fall season in Asheville, I figured I would make a list of my favorite activities to do to help get us in the mood for the best season of the year. 🤩 Within the last week, the weather has dropped and it makes this girl one happy camper.

Taste the apples of a local harvest

SKY TOP APPLE ORCHARD
This has always been a Fall favorite of mine! Chandler and I have gone to Sky Top every year since we started dating and it definitely helps jump start your mood for the fall. This is a great place for families with kids, groups of friends and couples to go and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery lined with acres of apple trees. Dogs are allowed, so don’t shy away from bringing your furry friends. Sky Top offers hay rides, apple cannons and the most delicious apple donuts and slushies. Expect a longer line when buying your donuts, but don’t let that detour you from getting some for yourself. These delectable desserts are made in house and literally melt in your mouth. We usually go in late September to get the full fall effect, but any time really is a good time. You can grab a bag of apples to go or fill your basket as you get lost in their luscious fields. Each different row of apples are clearly marked if you are looking for a specific type.

*Because of new Covid rules, you now get to keep the basket you pick apples with. I fully expect to use mine for some kind of fall decoration this year.

Spend a day baking your favorite fall treats

Baking has always been a “therapy” of mine, so I had to include this on my list! Set aside time to try a few new recipes. If you’re unsure of what to make, Pinterest is always a good place to start. You can always make treats for coworkers, neighbors or friends! If you do end up going to the apple orchard, make a batch of apple butter. It’s definitely a fan favorite and is super easy to make! Below are some of my other personal favorites!

Thanksgiving Margarita Recipe
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Visit the fair

Some of my fondest memories growing up were at the Piedmont Interstate Fair every year! We’d load up the whole family (cousins, grandparents and neighbors) and take a trip (or three) to the fair that week! We’d ride every ride at least once and eat funnel cakes until our stomachs hurt. I always loved stopping by the animal exhibits to see the horses, cows and rabbits. The Spartanburg fair always had such beautiful table exhibits and art galleries to stop and marvel at. Once I got to college, I drug my friends to the state fair and loved reminiscing on my younger days. Check out your local fair. It’s nothing short of amazing.

Host Friendsgiving

Like Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving gives you another chance to indulge in the soul food that ensues around this time of year. Offer to host your friends and create a sign-up sheet for people to volunteer for different food and drink options so you don’t have any repeats. It’s a great night of community and a great refresher for the soul.

☆ Run (or walk) a holiday race

Every Thanksgiving morning, it feels like my entire hometown of Spartanburg is at the Turkey Troy 8k. It is an opportunity to see friends and other people that you wouldn’t otherwise see that day. Our race begins at Spartanburg’s Morgan Square and is a big loop through downtown’s local neighborhoods, parks and streets. People wear turkey hats, full pilgrim suits and crazy Thanksgiving socks for the race and it’s always a good laugh to see what new outfits people whip out every year. Starting at an ungodly 7am, you finish just in time to watch the Macy’s Day Parade and take a nap before the Thanksgiving feast starts. I’m sure there are plenty of race options in your area, so be on the lookout for those in the weeks to come. Get your exercise in early and don’t feel as guilty for the wearing your sweatpants later that night.

If you have any other fall favorites, I would love to hear from you!

As always,
♡ Alex in Asheville

ABOVE ALL ELSE

If anyone would’ve told me in January what the rest of this year had in store, I couldn’t say I would’ve believed you even for a split second. March hit and every we knew as “normal” changed in an instant. Unemployment skyrocketed, lives were flipped on their head and families were left picking up the pieces. Masks have become the new fashion trend and an essential all in one.

Teachers and students were forced into an adaptive hybrid learning model of online and “in-person” almost overnight. Parents helped in taking on that role and kindergarteners were learning how to send emails.

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year has also brought new friendships and fostered old ones. With certain people in your corner, you can do anything. I’ve learned that friends are the greatest treasure in life and could not ask for any better one than those that I have. Many of my best friends have come to visit us in our new city and I’ve also been blessed to see friends in their “home base.”

2020 has also seen Chandler and my transition to a new city and adjustments in learning the ropes of our new hometown in Asheville. It has been exhilarating, freeing and humbling. I feel that from the minute we moved here, this was “our place.” Coming from the person who absolutely hates change with a passion, I knew it would take time to adjust. I not have asked for a greater place to live. (Which is also not too far from home)

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year has brought unwelcome and unexpected death. This year has also seen many challenges and chartered new territory. It has shown me that more things than not are out of my control and just how fragile life is. It has taught me that life is more about mindset than anything else. My emotions, reactions, perceptions and thoughts are completely up to me and how I control them. Through it all, I’ve learned that in the quiet comes healing and in less comes more.

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year has taught me to be more intentional with time and relationships. Spending time for self-care and for rediscovery fosters new growth. In those moments, I have also found my love of reading and processing the chaos through writing. Time with the Lord has also been more of a priority, which has been so, so refreshing. The sweetest moments of my morning have been spent with a coffee in one hand and my Bible in the other.

Above all else, I am thankful.

2020 has taught me that more times than not that beauty experienced in life is the most short lived, but to be grateful for it anyhow. This year has been hard but oh, so sweet. It has taught me that life can be both simultaneously. Learning to lean into the promises of the Lord has been a process everyday, but one that has helped me to hold true in His word.

I am thankful for “near misses” and I will continue this year with the promise that better days are ahead.

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year brought challenges no one saw coming, yet we persisted. Take every day as a new opportunity for good. You are stronger than what you think. Offer a lending hand, a listening ear or a prayer. Don’t be afraid to start something new. Start over. Allow this year to teach you something and do all things with a grateful heart.

I am thankful for the changing of the seasons from summer into fall, but a God that remains constant and steadfast. I am thankful for family, friends and a village that are there to pick me up when I need it the most.

Let’s make the most of the last two months in 2020. In 2021, we know there is hope.

💗 Alex

MY VISION BOARD + WHY YOU NEED ONE

Manifestation has always been a big part of my life. I have always been a visual person and personally do much better with achieving goals if I see them written out or have them hanging in a highly visible area.

We all know that 2020 has been a whirlwind and full of uncertainty. With that being said, I have often caught myself dreaming about the future and what it holds for my life. Although we are well over halfway through the year, I feel like it is never too late to start working on a new project or envisioning what our next steps are in life.

Why use a vision board?
If you are anything like me, you have goals and dreams that you are wanting to accomplish but aren’t always the best at having a plan in place to do so. Creating a vision board is a great tool because it allows you to conceptualise and visualise what’s rolling around in your head. Personally, creating a vision board was particularly useful because my brain is constantly running in a million differentiate directions and needs reminded of my thoughts.

They make you consider what you really want.
You might think you know what you want until you start creating your board. What you put on your board will make your goals come to life and seem that much more real (It did for me at least). It’s also okay to dream BIG. Allow yourself to create both small and lofty goals. For me, dreaming big has always been scary, but that’s okay. This was a space for me to do so and allow myself to think outside the box.

It helps to expand your creativity.
Creating a vision board can be a creative outlet and allow a space to do so. I have always loved crafting (spending hours in Hobby Lobby or Michaels is a skill of mine), so this was right up my alley. I chose to do a cork board so that I can interchange quotes, pictures and drawings pretty easily. There are so many methods you can choose from, so pick something that suits your style! You can create digitally online or draw something by hand. Your method is totally up to you and how you see fit.

Your board can provide you with daily reminders.
Consistency is key for achieving goals. Have a friend or family member help to hold you accountable by checking in every week. It also helps to know your own strengths and weaknesses in taking the appropriate steps in making your dreams a reality. Push yourself to do more than you ever imagined. Do something to make yourself proud. As you accomplish your goals or “visions,” highlight them and write down the date beside it. Allow yourself to see the hard work you’ve put in and have this also serve as a reminder of when they came to fruition.

For my board, I broke mine down into three categories: personal, spiritual and physical. For each category, I set three to four goals for myself. For example, reading five books (no certain genre) is one bullet on my personal agenda to finish before the end of 2020. Another is to get more involved in the community and to volunteer during my free time. How you categorise your goals are completely up to you.

DISPLAYING YOUR VISION BOARD
Display your vision board in a conspicuous place that will grab your attention throughout the day. The point of having a vision board isn’t to have it somewhere for you to forget about. Take a picture to keep on your phone. Put sticky notes on your bathroom mirror. Set it as your lock screen or put a list in your bible. Allow it to resonate your daily thinking and be thinking of ways to help accomplish those goals.

Above all else, remember that goals take time. Be patient with yourself and remember why you created this board in the first place. More likely than not, things won’t happen overnight. The beauty is in the journey and seeing how far you’ve grown along the way. It’s okay to reflect and see how far you’ve come, but remember to keep your sights set on what’s to come.

XO, ALEX

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REID GOT IT RIGHT

On Monday, August 17th, I received the news that Reid Bowyer’s earthly journey had ended.


Reid Bowyer was a man of honor, integrity, commitment and faithfulness. His life was always making much of Jesus. His contagious laugh was one of a kind and big bear hugs were unmatched. He adored his family, served his community and loved watching his Cavaliers play on Friday nights.

He ran his earthy race faithfully and obediently, ultimately meeting his maker face to face in fullness and in complete healing. Reid was freed from a year long battle with Glioblastoma. During his fight with cancer over the past year, Reid fought gracefully and humbly.

Meeting Reid for the first time when I was eleven, I had no idea of the impact he would make on my life. As as my youth pastor during middle school, he made you feel like nobody else at that moment mattered. His mile long grin from across the room would lift your spirits in any situation.

Right before his diagnosis a year ago, Reid lead Chandler and I in premarital counseling and helped us in setting the foundation for our marriage with every intention of preforming our wedding. Sitting with him in Panera over the course of those three weeks, he taught us that marriage isn’t always perfect. Marriage can be messy and isn’t always glamorous, but some of the most challenging things in life are worth the biggest investments.

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3

When thinking about Reid and the eternal impact he’s made over the course of his life, Philippians 3 came to mind. In this passage, Paul is speaking to the Christians of the Philippi church and urging them to press on toward a common goal. Paul knew that a race is won only in the present moment, not in the past or in the future. His will was to do God’s will and not his own. Likewise, Reid pressed on with an urgency that was only Heaven-minded. He worked with an eternal urgency.

I can’t imagine this life without his smile or words of encouragement & wisdom, but I know that he was entered at Heaven’s gates on Monday with open arms and I know he heard the words “well done.”

Reid, thank you for everything you have done for me, my family and the entire community of Spartanburg. You served often and served well. Your life was making much of Jesus and in every circumstance. I am so thankful to have known you and to have had you in my life. Because of you, I live intentionally, love more deeply and laugh a little harder.

While I am assured that he is rejoicing with his Savior, my heart has still been extremely heavy this week. It has been heavy for two families that are suffering the loss of a son (& son-in-law), husband and father. Mourning the “Reid-sized” hole in my life will never go away.

Out of loss and grief, however, comes joy. Reid’s death was not in vain. We can be assured that in death comes eternal life. We can sing in the middle of the storm and raise a hallelujah. From the ashes, hope will arise.

Please be praying for Bowyer family in the days to come. My heart grieves with you and would selfishly do anything to have him back with us, but we know that Reid has labored towards the goal of eternity his entire life. He was a good and faithful servant. He got it right.

Until we meet again, RB. In everything, I will stick to the task.

If you feel lead to help support this family monetarily, please consider donating by clicking on the Facebook button below. This family needs your prayers above all else, but this will help to provide for their specific needs in the days to come.

XO,

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OUR PAPER ANNIVERSARY

One year ago (plus a few days), I got married to my best friend.

It has been one year as loving you as my husband. I love this life we have created together far and I can’t wait to see where the next year takes us. Here’s to a lifetime of loving you and choosing you always.

I will always cherish every little aspect of our wedding day one year ago. From vowing our love and commitment before God, friends and family to that AMAZING soul train line at our reception, it will always be one of my most cherished days and one I find myself thinking about often.

I can’t imagine doing this thing called life without you. Some days, it feels like it’s been decades, and other times, it feels like our wedding day was just yesterday. Chandler, thank you for living, laughing and growing with me this year. Being your wife has been one the greatest joys of my life.

In our bathroom, we have a sign that I use as a daily reminder in how to love my husband. It comes from the (very popular & very convicting) 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It reminds me that love is patient, even when we can be short-tempered. Love is kind and looks to uplift others when we are weak. It does not envy, it does not boast and is not proud. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. What a great reminder that although we will will struggle with certain things, our God and our spouse will be always be on our side.

Marriage has taught me that love is a daily sacrifice. Love is a daily decision, not just a feeling. it is sacrificial, unrelenting and transformational.

Life isn’t always easy and the waves can come crashing from time to time, but together, we will always find a way to find the calm, stillness & sunshine. 

Love inspires you to be patient and permission to be human. It teaches you to meet in the middle. Love focuses on the positive and chooses to believe in the best. It forgives, appreciates and celebrates. 

Chan is the perfect balance of spontaneity to my constant preparation and having things always in order. He has taught me that the most fun moments in life are not always (and most likely not) planned. 

His warmth, kindness and composure impress me the most. He makes me feel heard, even when I am babbling on about things he’s heard me talk about 1,000x before or being completely irrational. His

One year ago, I promised to love this man under all circumstances: happy or sad, easy or difficult. I still mean every word. you’re my favorite, forever and always.

Over the last year, we have…
☆ attented two friends’ weddings
☆ visited Miami, Key West, the Bahamas, HHI and Louisville
☆ been to countless concerts
☆ moved to Asheville, NC
☆ bought a new car
☆ lived through a pandemic
☆ adopted our kitten, Belmont


August 3, 2019 will be one of my favorite days in the history of forever!
Happy paper anniversary, my love. ♡

XO,

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SS: Chandler

To the man who is witty, charming and selfless, you are greatly appreciated and so, so loved.

When you came walking into my life four years ago at our Chick-fil-A store in Spartanburg, I had no idea how important you’d mean to me then. From brushing off the constant curiosity of our family and friends as time went on, my conversations quickly went from avoiding the topic at all costs to rambling about our numerous road trips to Braves games and our travels to many concerts up and down the east coast, literally.

You are my forever concert going partner and my favorite is to hear you singing loudly to songs you may, or may not, know all of the lyrics to.
I also love that we share the love of sports and some my favorite time with has been spent has been at games together.

Your heart is invested in the meeting people in their current situation, always looking to pour into those who have a greater need than yours.

You have a great taste in all things Christmas and I look forward to you having our house decked out to the nines come winter time every year. (I get to decorate for all other holidays, right? 😂)

Your Braves and Panthers hats are the staple of any outfit, from your Sunday best to the first thing you put on for a day around the house.
Your childlike spirit and your zest for life excites me to see you as a father one day. You will be the absolute BEST dad.

You value my feelings and validate my rambling tangents even when I don’t make sense. You are my shoulder to cry on and also the best part of my day. You challenge me to dream big on a daily basis and to grow outside of my comfort zone.

You are the reason for so many of my belly laughs and ear-to-ear smiles, as well as a few tears along the way.

No matter how rough the seasons might be, you are my stronghold. You hold me in the quiet, protect me in the stormy and love me mightily when I can’t love myself.
To be loved by you and to navigate this life together will always the greatest gift. “Chandler’s wife” will always be one of my most treasured titles, always.

You are one of the best things that happened to me, always.
I love you longtime.

♡,
Alex in Asheville

SS: Mom

As a project that I’ve been eager to start for some time now, this Spotlight Series will be a way for me to highlight those who have played a huge part in my life and to recognize them in just a small way!
With that being said, the first in my spotlight series will feature…

… my mom!

To accurately depict what my mom means to me will fail to be a full picture of how great of a woman she truly is. For anyone who has been fortunate enough to meet her knows what a truly remarkable lady she really is.

My mom is a woman of character, positivity and prayer.
My mom is a woman of determination and a pillar of strength.

She genuinely uplifts and fiercely protects. She is an advocate for equal education opportunities for all children, and strives for all to succeed in the classroom (& beyond). She is a cornerstone for her family, always extending a helping hand and offering a listening ear.

My mom is a loyal supporter of her Gamecocks and a lover of the color green. She loves lake days and searching for turtles sunbathing on logs.

To the woman whose “larger than life” laugh (and voice) often proceeds her, you are so appreciated and so so loved, Momma bear.

Thank you for ALL you have done for me in my lifetime and for all that are as a person. You are my greatest mentor and an even greater friend. Know that you are fiercely loved and you raised a pretty great daughter. 😉

♡,
Alex in Asheville