Happy Holidays from THL!

The first day of November hit, and suddenly, the world turned its attention to the holidays. Ads appeared everywhere boasting holiday sales, the biggest savings you’d see all year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went with a deluge of emails urging us all to shop, shop, shop.

While I am one to love shopping — and writing about shopping — today is a day to remember that Christmas and the holiday season in general are not about buying clothes or stocking up on makeup. They are not about clipping coupons or heading out to shop at  the stroke of midnight.

Not even remotely.

The holidays are about family. They are about spending time with the people you love the most, and letting them know how much they mean to you. They are about drawing each other near and holding each other close, being grateful to have people who love you and ground you in the midst of the craziness that is our world today.

They are about remembering your past and being hopeful for your future. They are about giving more than you receive, and not just giving in a monetary or commercial way, but giving of time, love, patience and care. They are about opening our hearts, clearing our minds and just being present in a fleeting moment in time that will soon be a mere memory.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for: from my family and friends, to my job and this labor of love that is THL, my life is filled with blessings both large and small over which I continually pinch myself.

So today, I will take stock not of the gifts that were under my Christmas tree, but of the gifts I’ve been given throughout my life and the gift that is my life in general.

I urge you all to try do the same, not just today, but every day. I know I will.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you all a very happy holiday season.

XO,

Nicole

 

Biles bolsters foster children in new partnership

Adopted by her maternal grandparents when she was 3 years old, Simone Biles went on to become a five-time Olympic gold medalist and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year — evidence that one’s origins do not solely determine the trajectory of life. And that’s exactly the message that Biles sought to share in a new interview with People magazine.

According to the Huffington Post, Biles detailed in the Jan. 16 issue of the magazine her experience in foster care while also discussing her latest partnership with Mattress Firm’s donation drive, which “provides contributions to non-profit foster care organizations.”

Prior to her adoption, the Huffington Post says Biles was born to a mother who suffered from addiction, landing her and her sister in the foster care system. “It’s hard going into the system with hardly anything,” she said, according to HuffPost. “Because even though foster parents may receive a stipend, sometimes it’s not enough to cover all the necessities.”

Now the world’s top gymnast (and one of the most inspirational 19-year-olds around), Biles is not only teaming up with Mattress Firm to help foster kids enjoy sweet dreams while they get a good night’s sleep — and then to wake up and go chase them.

“I came from a foster home and went on to achieve everything I’ve achieved,” she said, according to HuffPost. “I’m just hoping it can inspire other foster kids to never give up and to always pursue your dreams. And to play sports and get good sleep… My message is: ‘There are no limits.'”

Be sure to look out for Biles’ upcoming interview in the Jan. 16 issue of People.

Merry Christmas!

Waking up on Christmas morning as an adult is not as exciting as it was when I was a child. The magic of Santa Claus has dissipated, the piles of toys are now a few boxes of sweaters and clothes and the remainder of the day is not spent playing with my new presents in my pjs. Although Christmas is not as magical for me as an adult, it is certainly different — and in a way that I appreciate more.

Christmas is no longer about presents to me, as it was when I was a child. Now, the best part of the day is gathering in the living room with my family and watching them interact as they open their gifts. It’s not what’s inside the boxes that matters; just being all together is enough for me.

I love to sit back and take it all in, I mean really look at each of my family members. When I do this, it usually hits me that we all will never be in this moment ever again; never again will we be our respective ages, on this specific day, in this specific year, in these specific circumstances. I wish I could freeze time and keep me and my family together in that moment for eternity.

When I realize this, I am immediately washed with melancholy,  but I slowly become filled with gratitude — gratitude for the day, for my wonderful family (and dog), for our cute little house, for my life and theirs. I suddenly recognize just how blessed we are not only to have the things we have, but to share these things with each other.

In moments like these, I always ask myself, “How did I get so lucky to have such a loving family? What did I do to deserve such incredible people in my life?” It amazes me that, for some reason, I not only get the chance to occupy the same time and space as them on this Earth, but that I also get the honor of calling them my family. It’s truly incredible how things align to create our current circumstances; call it luck or call it God, all I know is that I am the luckiest girl alive to have them for a family.

As all of these thoughts swirl in my mind in the midst of opening presents, I finally realize that while Christmas may no longer be about gifts for me, in a way, it still is — my family is the gift. Not just on Christmas, not just tomorrow, but every single day. For now and for always.

I have so much to be grateful for this Christmas, from my family and friends to you, my readers. I took a chance in creating this website all those many months ago, and seeing what it has now grown into is incredible to me. Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope you continue to follow me on this journey.

Merry Christmas, THL readers. I hope you are spending the day with those you love the most — I know I am.

XO,

Nicole

A Day of Thanks

I woke up this morning, opened my eyes and saw the familiar walls of my home. I got out of bed, walked around, brushed my teeth, ate breakfast and spent the first half of the day in my pajamas. I was surrounded by my family (including my dog), and we shared a delicious meal. After dinner, we gathered in the family room to watch television together, all laughing and joking together.

This, to me, is a perfect day. And it is a collection of small things like these that inspire such gratitude in my heart not just on this Thanksgiving Day, but every day. To wake up, to see, to breathe, to live. To spend a day with my loving family in my warm house, to eat good food, to laugh. These are the things that I hold most dear, the things I appreciate the most in my life.

But on this Thanksgiving, I have something else to be grateful for — Take Her Lead. Embarking on the journey that has been THL was one of the most exciting, yet slightly terrifying things I have ever done. When I published my first post, I remember thinking, “What if no one reads it? What if all the work I plan on putting into this amounts to nothing?” As the posts accumulated and the days and weeks progressed, I realized my fears were unfounded — people were reading my posts and my hard work seemed to pay off.

And this is where I thank you, the readers. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read what I post on THL, thank you for commenting and interacting with me and thank you for following me either here on the site or on social media. Without you, I’m not sure where this site would be right now.

I am thankful every day of every year for my wonderful family, but this year, I have a little more to be grateful for because of THL— my life has forever been changed by this site.

THL allows me to practice my passion every single day, and there is no better feeling in the world than to do what you love day in and day out. So thank you, readers, for sticking with me since I introduced myself all those many months ago. I hope you continue on this journey with me wherever it may lead.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

XO,

Nicole