Quarantine Gratitude List

Smocked Blouse: Wild Fable | Girlfriend Jeans: Rachel Parcell- similar , similar| Purse: Polished and Poised| Pearl Barrette: Amazon | Wedges: Jessica Simpson- Similar | White Hoops: Similar

I feel like there is so much bad news right now that it can be so easy to lose sight of the blessings that are still in our lives, or perhaps have actually come out of the pandemic. As a result, I thought I would list ten things that I am currently grateful for during this season:

  1. Being forced to slow down. For a couple of months now I have been running at such a fast pace that I could feel myself starting to head towards burnout. I began praying that God would provide an opportunity for me to slowdown, and while I never would have imagined a pandemic, I am choosing to see the blessing of being given the ability to slow down.
  2. School. I am so grateful to be able to continue taking my college classes online during this season and actually having more time to focus on them.
  3. Early morning quiet times. I have always loved my early morning quiet times alone with God, but I appreciate them on a whole new level now. When it feels like the world can be careening out of control, it is so comforting to start the day reminding myself that while the world is out of my control, it is never out of God’s control.
  4. FaceTime. I have loved being able to utilize technology so many times over the past few weeks by facetiming several friends. Even though we can’t connect in person, it is such a blessing to be able to still see each other’s faces and stay connected.
  5. Food. I never thought I would see the day living in a first world country that the grocery stores shelves would be empty. Yet that is exactly what has happened. While I may not have all of my most favorite foods in the house and be able to run to the grocery store to grab my latest food craving, I am grateful that God has provided and that I have food in the pantry I can eat.
  6. The Church. I have been loving seeing how God is reviving the church during this season and watching believers come together. While we all have known that the church is not a building but the people, it is so amazing to actually see that being acted out in real life.
  7. Medical Professionals. I am so thankful for all of the brave men and women that are putting themselves in danger as they face the front lines of caring for the sick. I am praying for you everyday and so grateful for your sacrifice!
  8. Time with family. Even though large chunks of my day are spent studying for school, I am so grateful for the extended time with my family. I don’t normally get to see them that much between all of my jobs and schoolwork, but I am loving getting to see them more and spend more time with them!
  9. Spring. I am going to be honest, social distancing would have been so much harder if it had happened in the winter. I am so grateful for the weather warming up and being able to go on long walks everyday enjoying watching the world come back alive. It reminds me that if God can bring life back every spring after the death of winter, He can definitely bring life back to our world from this pandemic.
  10. And the thing I am most grateful for is Jesus. In the midst of all of this turmoil and uncertainty, I can honestly say I have peace because I know my future is held in God’s hands. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the occasional moment where I feel stir crazy or sad and cry. What it does mean is that when those emotions come, I am able to carry them straight to Jesus and rest in the knowledge that He is carrying me through all of this. As a result, I have hope for the future and peace in the present.

What are some things that you have been learning during this pandemic and are grateful for? I’d love to hear, please share in the comments!

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

Wild for Spring

T-Shirt: old | Skirt: same | Wedges: Steve Madden- similar | Denim Jacket: old- similar | Purse: unknown- similar | Hat: Rachel Parcell (sold out)- similar

Happy Spring sweet friends! If you have been following me for any amount of time, then you know that I am currently obsessed with animal print. I saw a skirt almost identical to this last summer in the Nordstrom’s Anniversary sale, but it sadly sold out and never restocked. However, I ended up finding this dupe on Amazon for less than half the price! It is great quality and fully lined. I am loving using it as a good transition piece from winter to spring.

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

(F)all the Activities

This past weekend I had so much fun traveling up to Louisburg, KS for the local Cider Fest. For many of us it was our first time, but we are already discussing making it a yearly tradition. I don’t care what stage of life you are in at the moment, the Cider Fest had something for everyone. To name just a few of the fun activities available: corn mazes, a pumpkin patch, orchard, craft fair, a darling general store packed with all the fall goodies, live music, and so much more! If you live in the Kansas/ Missouri area, you should definitely add this to your fall bucket list.

Blouse: Rachel Parcell | Skirt: Rachel Parcell | Booties: Merona-old (similar) | Hat: A New Day

If you decide to go, be sure to try the apple cider donuts, they are so good and I cannot recommend them enough. Also, while the free portion is wonderful and so much fun and you could make a complete day there alone, you should still go to the pumpkin patch portion. This is where the corn maze, apple orchard, hay rack rides and so many other fun activities is located. I have even heard that at night they have fun family friendly movies playing! They are open all October long and it is the perfect fall activity. (And if you didn’t notice, it would also be the perfect place to take some family pictures!)

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

The Perfect Girlfriend Jean

Body Suit: H&M | Jeans: Rachel Parcell | Boots: Gianni Bini- sold out (similar) (similar) | Purse: Michael Kors | Tortoise Hoop Earrings: SugarFix by Baubelbar

As we slowly move into the cooler months, I like to make sure I have a few good pairs of staple jeans in my closet rotation. While I still love my trusty skinny jeans, I was so excited to add these cute girlfriend jeans to my jeans stash. They are so much fun with a simple bodysuit like I am wearing here, or dress up beautifully with a blouse or silk tank for a night out. I cuffed them to show off the boots for this look, but they have a great length when rolled down to wear with wedges or pumps. What is your favorite jean style for fall this year?

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! I am so thankful for this amazing country that we are blessed to live in that is full of so many freedoms! I’m grateful for all of the men and women, both past and present, who have fought for that freedom and the families that have sacrificed as their loved ones were away fighting. I am thankful for the blessing of living in a country where we are free to worship God and gather together with other believers without fear of persecution. We are so blessed in more ways than we can count, so today let’s not forget to take the time amidst all of the fun and celebrations to thank God for this beautiful country called America.

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

Firecracker Red

One of my most favorite colors to wear during the week of the Fourth of July is red. It is such a fun pop of colour that is very patriotic. I decided to share a more dressy look for this outfit, but it could just as easily be dressed down with a pair of slides and a denim jacket for a more casual celebration. It is a fun and easy look to recreate that you’re sure to reach for beyond Independence Day.

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

White and Red

I’m so excited to be sharing this second look for the Fourth of July. I love the simplicity of the all white with the little pops of red. The fun gingham ruffles on the sleeves keep the Americana vibe going and the red shoes tie the red in perfectly. The basket purse was the perfect accessory to tie this whole outfit together. If you recreate this look for the Fourth, be sure to tag me on Instagram so I can see!

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

Shades of Blue

Dress: Gianni Bini | Clear Purse: A New Day | Earrings: Rebecca Minkoff (sold out) similar | Sandals: Gianni Bini (sold out) similar

Happy Fourth of July week! Each day this week I am going to share a different look to give you some patriotic outfit inspiration. I LOVE dresses, so you are definitely going to see a trend in the outfits. Today’s look was inspired by shades of blue, I love the royal blue paired with the lighter blue of my clutch. This dress also comes in red which would be such a fun pop for patriotic holidays! My dress is unfortunately sold out in the royal blue color, but besides the red it also comes in a beautiful shade of navy that is also perfect for the Fourth!

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele

Being There For a Friend Who is Grieving

Hey Friends,

A few weeks ago I gave you guys a list of topics to blog about and asked you guys which one you wanted me to cover first and the most popular one was about being there for a friend who is grieving or going through a hard time. Now I want to be clear, I am not an expert, but if you have been following my blog this past year, you know that my family has walked a long road as my Papa was first diagnosed with cancer and then passed away at the end of March. What I am going to be sharing here is things that good friends of mine have done and how my community has rallied around me that have been helpful. Obviously, everyone handles grief differently and in the end you know your friend, the most important thing you can do is to not let them walk the path alone. That may look differently for different friendships, but what matters is that you are there for them.

Anytime your friend goes through a hard time, it is always going to be preceded by some form of crisis mode. Crisis Mode is generally early on when whatever tragedy your friend is dealing with happens. It generally does not last for long, but I have learned that it can be experienced multiple times as a situation goes from bad to worse. In my case the original crisis mode lasted just a few days, but there were many smaller crisis modes as things continued to fall apart as my grandpa’s cancer began to draw closer to the end.

The first thing I recommend doing when your friend is in crisis mode is be there. All I wanted when we received the diagnosis was someone to give me a big hug. I needed a safe place to cry. However, there are moments when this is not a good idea. I have several friends who live out of town and they all offered to come be with me when we got the diagnosis but I begged them not to come because the thought of having to take care of more people was more than I could handle. If your friend is out of state, the best way to be there is by text and phone call, only come in town if your friend says it is okay or you are willing to get a hotel.

Your friend is going to cry a lot and be struggling as their whole world has been turned upside down, resist the urge to say, “It is going to be okay.” I know that you want it to all turn out good, and maybe it will, but you can’t promise them that and this will do more to alienate you than draw you closer together.

Text and call your friend often checking in to see how they are doing but be okay if they don’t respond. One of the best things one of my good friends did for me that lives out of state is texting me nearly everyday to tell me she was praying for me and checking in to see how I was doing. What made this a blessing and kept it from overwhelming me is that she would always say in the text message to only reply if I felt like it but to know she was always there. This gave me permission to not reply if I didn’t have the energy but let me know that I was thought of and prayed over.

Set an alarm on your phone to go off everyday at a certain time reminding you to pray for your friend and let them know you have done this. A girl I knew but wasn’t very close to did this. Shortly after my grandpa’s diagnosis she texted me to let me know she had set an alarm everyday for 4:00 and she would be praying for me then. Everyday as I got off work and saw the time I knew she was praying for me as I returned home to the battles waiting and it helped give me strength.

Bring food. Whatever you do, don’t ask if your friend needs food, just bring it. Don’t stay long unless they want you to, but trust me, your friend is needing food and having to leave to go get food is the last thing they want to do or is on their mind. I can’t tell you how many times I stayed late at the hospital and by time I left all the restaurants were closed and there was no food at home because we hadn’t been home to cook so I’d just skip dinner. When your loved one is sick or dying you don’t want to leave their side even for food, so be the hero and bring food for your friend. Towards the end my grandma (from the other side of the family) came over and brought food for my family so we wouldn’t have to leave and we were able to keep it in the freezer pulling it out as needed. That was a lifesaver for us and the reason we were able to be there at the end instead of worrying about food.

Listen. Your friend is going to have a lot of emotions ranging from sadness to anger and occasionally just wanting to pretend it isn’t happening. Listen to them. They don’t need you to fix their problems, they just need to know that someone is there and they’re not in this alone. I had one friend in particular that every Sunday at church would come up to me and start out by asking me, “how are you holding up.” She knew I wasn’t doing good, but she needed to know where I was emotionally. If I didn’t want to talk she always respected it, but if I needed to she was always available.

Most importantly, pray for your friend. You can’t change what is happening in their life or even heal their broken heart, but you have access to the one who is in control over everything and the mender of broken hearts.

Don’t forget them after some time has passed. It has been two and a half months and I still have days that I am struggling. Grief comes in waves, one day your friend might be fine and the next falling apart. That is actually what happened to me this past weekend, Saturday I went and watched fireworks with friends and had so much fun laughing and being totally alive. Sunday though found me crying and struggling as if I had just lost Papa that day. Sometimes if your friend is having a really good day you may want to check in on them the next day as the lows are even harder after they have spent some time laughing and feeling “normal” for a few hours. Grief, especially after losing someone, doesn’t have a time period for when it ends, it will look different for each person and your friend needs you to be there and not be left alone.

I hope that this was helpful and now the next time a friend is going through a hard time you won’t feel so helpless not knowing how to help them. Don’t forget, it is always okay to just ask your friend what they need. Most of the time they will be able to tell you if they need to talk or for the moment forget, and if they don’t know be willing to just sit and be quiet until they do know. Remember, you’re their friend and they need you during this time just as much as you want to be there for them. It is messy and hard, but your friendship will come out stronger after walking this together.

Leighton Michele

1 Dress 3 Ways

One of my most favorite things about dresses is all of the options for styling them! This post is the first in a continuous series I’m starting here where I’ll pick a dress and share multiple ways to wear it. With each post I’ll share a casual and a dressy way to wear the dress and sometimes even an in-between! Dresses are my go-to when I am getting dressed in the morning because I know that they can carry me through the whole day no matter what it holds and by changing a few accessories I can completely change the look!

Look 1:

Dress: Rachel Parcell (similar) (similar)| Purse: Steve Madden (similar) | Pumps: Old (similar) (similar) | Earrings: Baublebar (Sugarfix version)

The first look is something I would wear to a nice event like a wedding or church. I love the detail that the belt adds and the ruffles on the shoes go perfectly with the feminine details of the dress. My favorite detail are the statement earrings. I love how bold they are and that they have the blush centers tying all of the other accessories into the outfit.

Look 2:

Dress: Rachel Parcell (similar) (similar) | Sunglasses: Chloe | Earrings: Francesca’s| Cork Heels: Lulu’s (similar) | Basket Bag: Amazon (under $20)

I wore this look to church a few weeks ago, but it would also be perfect for a baby shower or bridal shower. The cork heels and basket purse are less formal than the pumps and statement earrings and I opted for simple gold hoops to go with the more simplistic feel of this outfit.

Look 3:

Dress: Rachel Parcell (similar) (similar) | Basket Bag: Amazon | Earrings: Francesca’s | Slides: Sam Edelman

The final look is how I wear this outfit for an everyday basis. For the earrings I did hoops, although simple diamond studs are also a great option. I kept the basket purse and traded out the heels for simple slides. In the summer this is basically my uniform and is perfect for running errands or grabbing coffee with a friend!

Xoxo,

Leighton Michele