What I’m Loving This Month: May

May has been a busy month. I’ve been gearing up for three major launches at work, and B had a sinus surgery that knocked him out for a few days. The silver lining? We capped off the craziness with four relaxing days on the beach in Ocean Isle, N.C.

Having just returned yesterday, I’m relaxed and rejuvenated – and wanting to share some awesome discoveries I managed to make in between everything else going on.

Photo: Target.com

Photo: Target.com

$5 beach bag (seriously)
I got this adorable mesh tote at Target right before leaving for Ocean Isle. I went with no intention of buying a beach bag, but, as we all know, aimless browsing often leads to unplanned purchases at Target. (I imagine even the most disciplined of shoppers can’t resist the store’s range of amazing and inexpensive items.)

The bag is roomy, folds up easily for packing and has a handy front pocket for easy access to your phone, camera, etc. I got it on sale for $5, but the normal price, $9.99, is still a steal. If you’re not into polka dots, browse the website. The totes are available in a range of patterns and colors.

My Peggy Li bracelets

My Peggy Li bracelets

Peggy Li custom word bracelets
I love Peggy Li’s jewelry – all of it. And I’m not alone. If you watch Switched at Birth, American Idol, Vampire Diaries or Hart of Dixie, among others, you’ve seen her jewelry. It’s simple, chic and reasonably priced.

These custom word bracelets are among my favorite of her creations. I love the idea of wearing words that I can glance at throughout the day to center myself. Especially because I’ve been feeling off lately.

I can’t explain it other than that I just haven’t felt like myself. I’ve been anxious, moody, tired – just out of sorts. So I’ve been focusing on what keeps me balanced: exercise, eating right and, most importantly, being creative and simply giving myself time to breathe and be. Hence, my two new bracelets – one that says “breathe” and one that reminds me to make time for what I love, “create.”

Photo: GretchenRubin.com

Photo: GretchenRubin.com

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
I realize I’m a little late to the game, since this book by Gretchen Rubin was released in 2009, but I’m sharing in case any blog readers haven’t read it either.

Following an epiphany in which she realizes 1. she’s not focusing enough on what truly matters and 2. she could be happier, Rubin embarks on her Happiness Project. During this yearlong journey, she adds a few resolutions to her list each month to nurture her friendships, health, marriage, parenting, spirituality, work, etc. Each month, she tackles resolutions under a new theme.

For example, in January, her overarching resolution is to “boost energy.” To do that, she sets out to get organized, go to bed earlier, exercise “better” and “act more energetic.” She shares her experience working toward each of these resolutions with humor, personal insights and supporting research.

By the end of the year, she’s indeed happier, and has discovered Splendid Truths of Happiness – light bulb moments about happiness throughout her adventure that she carries with her. She summarized the truths in this great Huffington Post article a few years back (bonus: there’s a link to read sample chapters from the book at the end of the article).

I loved every second of this book. Rubin is a great storyteller, and as a perpetual list-maker and goal-setter, I was in heaven.

Lulu.com

Lulu.com

Lulu.com
In September of her Happiness Project year, Rubin sets out to pursue a passion: books. She soon discovers Lulu.com, a site where you can easily create and publish books. She creates books of her kids’ drawings, of blank books she filled in with her daughters, of her blog posts… the list goes on.

As someone who finds a level of happiness in bookstores and libraries that is second only to that found at home and at the beach, I was giddy as I read about her projects.

That night, I checked out Lulu.com, and it was everything Rubin said it was. I love that you can customize your book, from the size to the cover material to the page design, and print bulk quantities at a reduced price (if you’re self-publishing).

I’ve since begun my first, long-put-off project – getting all our wedding photos into a beautiful coffee table photo book. Sure, our wedding was two and a half years ago, but better late than never, right?

And I’m already thinking about what I’ll create after I finish this big project. A book of short stories? Blog posts? The book nerd in me is clearly over the moon.

What have you discovered this month that you’re loving? Share below!

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