Thankful For My Infertility

I know what you're thinking... "Did she just say she's THANKFUL for her infertility?" As little as two years ago, the word "thankful" would have never come out of my mouth in regards to my infertility. Today, however, it is a message that rings true to my core.

I can't put into words how deeply I feel the calling to be a mother. No words could ever convey just how much I want it, how much I feel like I was created for this very act. No words could ever tell you just how disappointed I sometimes often feel when I think about the fact that there are no children in my foreseeable future. 

I couldn't possibly tell you how deeply I feel the following desires-

  • To experience pregnancy. Seeing my belly grow, suffering through whatever terrible pregnancy symptoms that reassure me that I am so blessed to be growing a tiny human inside of me.

  • To create life with the person I love most in this world.

  • To experience being a mother and falling so far in love with this tiny human that I created out of pure love with my significant other.

  • To hear the sounds of toddler footsteps on the hardwood floors. Pitter-pattering through the house. To hear their giggles when they've been attacked with kisses and snuggles from mama or daddy.

  • To spend my days raising children and letting them know just how absolutely wonderful they are and what a gift to the world they are. For my life's purpose to be just that.

  • To know what it feels like to have a baby with somebody I love. The incomparable bond that forms between two people when they decide that they want to create life together. The incomparable bond that comes with seeing the love of your life become a father or a mother.

I could go on for days and days writing this list. The list of dreams unfulfilled, the list of dreams that accompany motherhood that may never be fulfilled for me. There is nothing I can do or say that would make you feel the impact of just how much I want all of those things and more in my life.

And yet, aside from all of these desires, I've found a way to make my life full of purpose and joy. Because as much as I wish I were a mother- could be a mother- will be a mother; it's not happening right now or anytime in the foreseeable future. Take away a person's deepest calling and what are you left with? You're left with a blank slate. An empty space, full of potential and possibilities. An empty space to fill up with whatever you want,

if you only let yourself see beyond the vast emptiness and loneliness that currently resides there and focus on what your life can look like

.

So much power lays within each person living with infertility. The power to completely rewrite your life or to continue living in misery. You get to decide if you're going to see your blank slate as an empty, lonely space where your broken dreams reside, or if you're going to see it as a new space that's full of potential. And I know how hard it is, to leave your heartbreak behind you and keep moving forward (it took me years to do this.) But it's something you can do.

So here's the things I appreciate, the chances I've taken, the passions I've pursued, the things I'm counting as blessings because of my infertility-

  • Because of my infertility, I am not a single mom. As a (happily) divorced gal, I would probably be a single mom right now if we had been able to conceive during our marriage. And if I weren't a single mom, I would probably be a much less happy, less fulfilled person living in a marriage that wasn't right for either of us, simply because we did have a child together.

  • Because of my infertility, I get to move across the country whenever I want. I can pick up my life and my possessions and take them wherever I desire to go. I don't have to take another person's life into account when making decisions like this. I'm able to go when I want to with much less worry about finances and other factors. And I've taken advantage of that. I've moved across the country several times and have lived in 4 different states.

  • Because of my infertility I get to sleep in. Seriously, this is probably one of the things I love most in life.

  • Because of my infertility, I have had the money and time to pursue creative passions. Photography, Project Life, scrapbooking, blogging, etc.... all things I didn't explore before I started looking at my childless blank slate.

  • Because of my infertility, I don't have to worry about the future as much. I can choose to indulge myself. I can go on vacations to see my family. I can invest in things I love. Because my money and my time is mine to spend.

  • Because of my infertility, I am with the love of my life. And he's pretty darn awesome.

  • Because of my infertility, I have had time to grow up. I have had time to become less selfish and more intentional about how I live and what I want in life.

  • Because of my infertility, I have met the kindest women in the IF community. These women have a strength that radiates from within, because of their struggles. These women are some of the most amazing women I have ever known.

  • Because of my infertility, I am brave. I am brave enough to create a life that doesn't involve being a mother like I had planned and wanted. And brave enough to always keep some hope alive that one day, one day I will have a baby.

  • Because of my infertility, I know who I am. And I know who I am capable of being. I know how much potential I have and I am doing amazing things with my potential. I am chasing new dreams.

  • Because of my infertility, I don't take my health for granted. I understand that my body doesn't have to do anything for me. And the fact that it does so much for me and serves as a safe place for my soul is amazing.

  • Because of my infertility, I found God. First, I lost him. Then I came to know, love and trust him in a blind way that requires so much more faith than I ever had before.

When I take the time to count my blessings, and to count all of the amazing things that have happened in my life because of my infertility, I am so thankful. Thankful for my story. Thankful for my struggle. Thankful for my life, however infertile it may be.

And while I would trade all of these things and a thousand more in order to be a mother, I am thankful for the life I have. However childless it is, it's an amazing life because I've decided that's what it's going to be, baby or not.

xoxo, Laura

Tips For Creative Gorgeous Project Life Layouts


There are so many fabulous and inspiring women in the Project Life/ documenting memories community. I love how encouraging and uplifting we all are for one another, especially on Instagram. I'm always meeting girls who tell me "I love your layouts! So pretty!" So today, I wanted to share my tips on how to create gorgeous Project Life spreads.

Note- my personal style is "Bright, White, Light with Polka Dots, Floral Prints and Stripes." I love that gosh darn catchy tag line and it fits my idea of the perfect layout. This isn't everybody's style so these tips won't work for people who aren't into my layouts. But if my style is your jam, here's whats up...


My Tips for Creative Gorgeous Project Life Layouts

1. White space. Keep it clean, keep it simple. Give your photos room to breathe. White space is my all time fav.

2. Black & white with pops of color. I prefer my pops of color to be light blue or fuchsia; but as long as I start with a black and white base, I'm pretty much ganna love where my layout goes from there no matter what accenting colors I use.

3. Embellish. Pockets of sequins, wood veneers and glitter are some of my trusty embellishing techniques. I'm also a big fan of Thickers and adorable paper clips. There are so many options here. Don't feel confined to work only within the limits of paper! Play around with some new mediums and see what you fall in love with.


4. Mix brands. In each layout I create, I use a combination of brands, core kits, mini kits, pocket pages, etc. I love mixing my brands and kits so much because they compliment one another without being too matchy-matchy. Using only one brand/edition throughout a spread is too boring for me.

5. Patterned Filler Cards. I love using patterned cards with stripes, polka dots or floral prints in my layouts. They keep things feminine and gorgeous which is just my style. I already mentioned I like to start with a lot of black and white cards as the base in my spreads. From there, I choose a color that shows up often in my photos for that spread and try to pick patterned cards with colors that compliment or match the pops of color in my photos.

6. Use the same filler card 2-4 times. Seriously, this is one of the easiest and best ways to tie together a spread! I love consistency and coordinating my pages throughout a spread. The easiest way for me to achieve a pretty layout is by using the same patterned card twice or more in a layout. All of my favorite layouts use the same card two or more times!


7. Quality photos. They make all the difference in an album. When you start with great photos, you're already 10 times ahead of the crowd. I am so guilty of relying on my cell phone too often to capture moments- leaving me with grainy, warm or blurry photos. This year one of my resolutions was use a real camera more. It takes more intention to record your memories with a real camera, but it's so worth it. I still use a lot of cell phone pictures in my spreads, but I try to mix them in with my high quality camera photos to keep things looking decent.

8. Forgive yourself. It took me 6 months of "kind of doing" project life before I found my style and I fell in love with it. Sometimes you'll feel uninspired. Sometimes you'll hate a layout you make (and if you're anything like me, you'll take it all apart later and redo the whole thing.) Sometimes you'll feel like the whole project is too much work, too much time, too much money. And that's okay. Forgive yourself within your creative process (and in other areas of life, too!)



9. Use calendar cards. You can read about the ones I use here. I love using calendar cards to mark the start of a new month in my album, and I like to use a coordinating "month in review" card at the end of the month to summarize all the bigger moments that happened. I am usually SUPER bad at putting dates on my photos and I document in a monthly format, opposed to weekly, so these month in review cards are a great way to remind me what of the big moments that happened that month when I look back later.

10. Uplift others. Find your favorite creative gals on Instagram, follow their blogs, follow them on Pinterest. When they post something you love- tell them! Encourage, compliment and support others, always. This community is filled with the kindest most inspiring women. Keep it that way.


And there you have it, my top tips for creating gorgeous Project Life layouts. What tips would you add to my list? I would love to hear what your perfect style is!

xoxo,
Laura

Tips For Starting Project Life

Last month, two of my girlfriends approached me saying "I really want to start Project Life. All of your photos have inspired me to create my own album. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me?"

At this point I was wearing the biggest smile and doing a happy dance by myself. Heck yes! My friends are falling in love with Project Life and they wanted to know if I had any tips? Well.... I most certainly did! And for anybody else whose been thinking about starting Project Life, I wanted to share these tips for you too! (If you're interested.)


My Tips For Starting Project Life

1) Buy a combination of off brand + brand name items. Don't limit yourself to just the Becky Higgins Project Life brand when starting Project Life. While there are some items I just adore from her line, I'm also a loyal fan of other, smaller brands. My page protectors are almost always Becky Higgins and I have quite a few Project Life core kits. That being said, I don't know what I would do without all of my MAMBI pocket pages cards and I love how a lot of brand name products and "off brand" products blend seamlessly in my layouts. Bonus- smaller brand name products are usually a lot friendlier on the pocketbook! One brand name product I absolutely love- Project Life Core Kit - Midnight Edition . One off brand product I equally love- Me & My Big Ideas Pocket Pages Themed Cards 3"X4" 72/Pkg-I Love Life .

2) Buy in store not online, if possible. Seriously,  homies. I bought from the Becky Higgins shop on Amazon once and wanted to slap myself silly two months later when all the pretty new kits I just bought were introduced to Hobby Lobby (a store I often frequent,) where I could have used a 40% off coupon. I could have gotton twice the amount of product for the same price if I had waited a little longer to shop in stores. Michael's, Hobby Lobby & Joann's all sell Project Life products. All three of these stores offer a daily 40% off one item coupons. Use that coupon and save a ton of money. (Plus, Joann's offers an additional 10% off coupon card for all college students- yahh!)

3) Exchange products and kits with friends. A core kit comes with more than 600 cards, with 10 of each 3x4 design. That's way too many for one person to use if you like variety and don't want to use the same cards in every layout. So invest in a core kit and trade 1/3 of your kit with a friend. Then repeat. The best ratio I've found is keeping 1/3 of my kit, and trading the other 2/3's for 1/3 of two other kits I don't already have. None of your "in real life" friends do Project Life? Instagram is the best place for meeting lovely ladies to exchange with. I've exchanged 6 times with ladies I met on Insta and they have all been so kind and generous. Try it out. You won't regret it.

4) Buy an at home photo printer. Seriously, this was the best decision I ever made for my memory keeping process. Not only am I saving a small amount of money in prints in the long run, but it has given me complete freedom over my process. I usually craft in the middle of the night. If I can't make it to the store a few days beforehand, or if the store prints my photos too dark or too red, or if I forgot to print a photo from last week- there's no need to completely stop and wait until I can get to store again to get the prints I want. I simply do it at home and continue working on my project. Paying $70 each time you need new ink (about every 3 months for me) is a little tough to swallow at first, but you learn to budget for it and you make peace when you realize you were spending $5 - $15 on prints at the store each week. And for me, the convenience of my at home printer more than made up for the cost. This is the one I have and I love it. It was really affordable + it can print larger photos if I want it to + it can print matte pictures- which is my jam. Matte finish all the way.

5) Free printables can be a waste of money. Beware fellow Pinterest lovers. Unless the free printables you find online are on a mostly white background with just a few words or small graphics on it, printing your own "freebies" at home or at the store will cost you way more than buying physical products will. It seems like a great idea but the truth is that the cost of ink usually isn't worth it. If you're going to start Project Life, be prepared to make a little bit of an investment to get started. If you're shopping in stores and using coupons (like me!) I would budget about $100 to get you off to a fabulous start. In my experience, I needed some variety to start off inspired and motivated. $100 (if using coupons) will get you a 3-ring album, a huge pack or two of page protectors, two Project Life core kits and a few off brand filler card packs.

6) Be patient. It can take a while to discover "your style." And making layouts that aren't your style can leave you feeling unmotivated and uninspired. Stick with it, try a variety of different styles and products and you'll know when you've found your style. It took me about 2 months to create a layout I was head over heels in love with and it took me about 6 months to truly discover what "my style" was (Bright and white with lots of floral prints, polka dots and stripes!) In the beginning, be patient if you aren't in love with what you're making- it's so worth the journey and process.


There you have it! My tips for those of you who may be thinking about starting Project Life. Is it any surprise that most of them were about saving money? A girl can be thrifty and fabulous! One thing I will say to end the post is that Project Life is an amazing way to document memories. I absolutely love the process, the products, the creative people in the community. If you love making and documenting memories, it is so worth every penny you invest.

So what about you? Are you thinking about starting Project Life?

xoxo,
Laura

DIY Collage Envelopes


I love traditional letter writing. A passion that has only increased my creativity since I started The Lovely Mail Exchange. Today I wanted to share with you guys how to make your own collage envelopes for sending out lovely hand written letters.

What You'll Need:
Envelopes
Magazine Clippings
Mod Podge

This project is so simple and quick, but has a major impact on the gorgeousness of your outgoing mail. Simply use Mod Podge to adhere the magazine clippings to your envelope. I like to put one coat in between the layers of paper and one more on top of the magazine clippings. Mod Podge is not only an adhesive but a waterproof sealant, which means your pretty envelopes will withstand rain, sleet and snow without falling apart.



You don't even have to use magazine clippings (I just like adding phrases and words to my envelopes, I love the story it tells before they even open their letter.) All the flowers and hearts on these envelopes were cut outs of wrapping paper I have! How awesome is that?

Happy weekend, lovelies. I hope you send lovely mail to somebody you know.

xoxo,
Laura