There are very few things in life like there is in choosing to bring home a pet.

Specifically a dog.

Specifically a dog that seems to be crossed with some kind of other creature.

Knowing that, in some way, they were gifted to you from the Universe – even in times they chew your favorite throw pillows or pee in your shoe (true stories).

And understanding, in deeper ways, their timing is often that of The Big Guy himself, although we don’t understand it until much, much later.

June 3rd, 2017, was a bad, bad day. It was the day that our then our little family pup, Sean Luca (aka, “Shark Luca”) passed away.

 

Sean Luca had been acting a little funny that day; for the six months prior he had been experiencing seizures and bouts of lethargy on account of liver problems, so he slowly became more and more ‘out-of-sorts.’ It was also the day John and I put in an offer on our very first house. After having spent all morning with him, we left for a late lunch picnic at the beach before meeting the realtor to make the offer. In that relatively short amount of time, Sean Luca decided it was time. We were so excited, feeling so close to getting our little unicorn of a new home – only to come back to find him curled up in a cozy little corner, looking so peaceful. He didn’t stir. He didn’t come to greet us. He was gone.

The devastation was exhausting for weeks. I was so upset I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was mad at myself, wondering why I hadn’t noticed the signs and if I had just ‘been there,’ I could’ve gotten him help. I was angry I had literally just told the realtor I couldn’t wait to bring Sean Luca “home” to enjoy the perfect sunny spot on the new porch we knew he’d love. I hated the Universe for not letting him come into this new chapter with us.

A couple of months later on the day when we finally closed on the house, I woke up excited and full of energy for the first time in a while. John and I decided to kick-off that exciting day with an early morning run on the beach. We got there right before sunrise and took off down the shoreline. It was super low-tide and the beach was wide and empty. As we approached our usual turn-around point on that sticky summer morning, we look over to the water’s edge. There was a shark splashing and swimming through the early morning waves, appearing to follow us for another several yards. Just as the sun crested the horizon and we hit our time to turn back, he made one more glorious frolic about the water, swimming back off into the ocean. I had never seen anything quite light it before. And I haven’t since. Somehow, I knew, SL was saying “It’s cool, mom” – no matter where we called “home,” he was always going to be around.

Sean Luca lived a long and well-loved 13 years. His big, bold personality made up for this little chubby Chihuahua body, and he was always curious and never afraid. He loved meeting new people and leisurely outdoor happy hours and weekend lunches with us. He lived with me through some big moments of my life since college and all the transitions it took getting here to Hilton Head. Sean Luca was a regular at my last full-time job in Columbia, SC, hanging out with me during my shift to greet new friends and give his opinion. He LOVED the beach when we moved to HHI and would bark like a maniac when I asked if he was ready to go, his enthusiasm only rivaled to the daily “Wanna go potty?!” dance parties (I secretly still want to get t-shirts with his face on it that say, “Live everyday like you’re about to go ‘outside’.”). He was my cuddle buddy when I fell into moments of anxiety and depression. He was my little furry FitBit who made sure I got up and took a walk every hour or two in my new #soloprenuer life. His favorite treat on the planet was, of all things, watermelon and carrots, although there was no way you were going to throw a yogurt cup away without him properly licking it clean. The only thing louder than his ‘tough guy’ barking was his old-man snoring, and I couldn’t sleep at night without hearing it. He brought joy to people when he took on his Shark persona – this stuff wrote itself, and admittedly, John and I loved planning new adventures for him.

He just fit.

And I was convinced there wasn’t going to be another to take his place.

Shark Luca Harbour Affair Can Bogey

 

Then, a few months later, being alone in a new house while I tried to balance my evolving role in the community and shape of my business, I decided to open myself up to maybe adopting another little fuzzy butt. We spent a couple of Saturday mornings going to area shelters and looking at adoption sites. We thought we wanted an adult dog – we didn’t have a yard and we didn’t want a rambunctious puppy sabotaging our new place, so we needed something a little more calm. We met some great dogs who were sweet and lots of fun, but nothing felt like that “fit” with Sean Luca. One rainy Sunday afternoon we went to visit the Hilton Head Humane Association. And there in the front lobby was this squishy little spotted pup, laying in the far corner of the pen on the floor. He seemed pretty out of it, even shy, and wanted nothing to do with the visitors who tried to pet him or get his attention. They called him “Chandler” – and it was fitting because all I could think was, “Could he BE anymore awkward?” The front desk lady encouraged me to get in the pen with him, even though we had watched several people get in there and he was 1000% disinterested. Also, I told her we were already interested in mature, adult dogs. I politely declined.

After striking out, again, with a handful of attempts to connect with a few dogs, we decided to leave and come back another time. The lady encouraged, again, for me to get in the pen with “Chandler.” I not-so-politely declined this time, but John said, “C’mon, why not.” I got in, sat on the opposite end of the pen on the floor and said, “Well, hey little man…” He perked up his sweet little face, puppy scooted low across the floor, and carefully crawled in my lap, burying his teeny little face in the crook of my arm. Then, soft puppy snoring. “S**t,” I whispered to John. “We’re going home with a puppy.

 

 

We brought him home the next day and promptly changed his name to Bogey. John and I both landed on the name independently, for different reasons but weirdly and quickly coming to agreement, and over the next few weeks, this scared, shy, docile pup blossomed into a smiley, happy, super-social little guy. Every day he started to feel more and more like a part of the family. Although, I was still feeling guilt and apprehension over losing Sean Luca only a few months back, wonderful if we made the right decision.

About a month after bringing Bogey home, I took him to the vet for his first check-up and next round of shots. The HH Humane Association had given me a packet of info to take the to vet when we adopted him. I had never really even looked at it until that day. We’re waiting in the check-up room for the vet-tech to see us, and I pull out his current records. Holding this squishy little doe-eyed pup in my lap, I look and see what they estimate to be Bogey’s birthdate: June 3rd, 2017.

It hit me like a bag of bricks, and a swell of tears gathered in my eyes. My arm-hairs stood on end… Sean Luca knew exactly what he was doing. And my friend said it best: “When you’re ready, they send you another one.” Sean Luca sent Bogey to us into this new chapter. His work was done. (And the vet-tech came in seeing me crying and laughing like a crazy person, saying, “Don’t worry, the shots aren’t going to hurt him that bad!” Oh if she only knew…)

I could never really bring myself to write a properly fitting post to say good-bye to Sean Luca, but as Bogey hits his first birthday on the day we still remember how our lives have changed so much in the last year, I suddenly feel at peace knowing his little sassy, brave, comforting presence is still around. Bogey opened up a whole new place in our hearts. They’re insanely different animals but both so perfectly “fit” our current stages of life. And I appreciate them both so much because of the other.

So, I’m not sure what Bogey’s story has in store, but I do know he’s got his tough-guy guardian shark angel keeping an eye on him. And on us.

 

 

But seriously, what would our worlds be like without ’em?

I’m grateful I’ll never really have to find out.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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As many of you know, John and I just bought our first home at the end of the summer of ’17. It was the ‘unicorn’ of a home we had been searching for FOR MONTHS and the day we closed was one of the happiest of my life. We still have a LONG way to go in terms of making our little house a home, and I often let my mind wander to Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts with incredible interior design. Interior design is a art lost on me in many ways – but I am an avid appreciator, if anything.

I was recently privy to a chance at exploring the 2018 HGTV Smart Home which happens to be, of all places, in our ‘backyard’ of Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, SC. The HGTV Smart Home staff would be onsite to give us a tour and the designer, Tiffany Brooks of Chicago, was THE designer behind the gawk-worthy magic inside. The modern-meets-Southern-classic decor was perfect for the upscale yet unassuming Lowcountry setting.

But y’all… it was a little crazy just how ‘smart’ this home actually was, I MEAN REALLY. From the fridge with a built in espresso-maker to the Pelaton bike ready to ride in the master bathroom to the hidden virtual reality room to the voice activated rolling porch screen to the smart screen to access music and emails on the bathroom mirrors… and not ‘smart’ in terms of technology, but smart in the efficiency and use of the space with eco-friendly design that incorporated natural elements (the stunning plants were beautiful and the natural light was unreal!). But you guys… the thing that pretty much EVERYONE at the event couldn’t stop talking about was the freakin’ smart toilet in the master bathroom. YOU GUYS, it had a sensor that when it felt you coming in, it would gently lift the seat, turn on soft lighting around the basin, and THEN start playing a selection of music from your favorite playlist. You could literally tinkle the ivories and cover the sounds of, ahem, nature’s call (I immediately sent John the video after the tour and he’s like, “Seriously? Of all the things…”).

Okay, but seriously, my favorite part was the art throughout the house that sent my wanna-be-cool-creative-gal heart a’flutter. The gallery wall on the 2nd floor was absolute perfection, and I stared at it far longer and more awkwardly than I thought.

 

You guys, I can’t believe I’m sharing the secret (okay, I know it’s not exactly a secret, buuuut….)… you can win the HGTV Smart Home. I know! BUT WAIT, there’s more! You can also win $100,000 (generously provided by Quicken Loans®), all the furnishings and technology in the home (and maybe share an art piece – or 12 – with me when you win it), AND a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC Plug-In Hybrid. I don’t even know exactly what kind of car that is, but I had a hard time typing it all out, so you KNOW it’s fancy! You can check out the link here to vote and do so twice a day; but you’d betta’ move fast because the contest closes at the end of the day on June 7th, 2018.

 

 

Thank you to the HGTV crew for the fabulous opportunity to experience such an impressive home – and thank you to Birdie James for helping style me for the event in such an exquisite Ripley Rader frock… because I’m also lost on the art on how to look like decent human being at these kinds of things. I may be no designer, but I do thoughtful style when I see it – and would love to have any of ya’s to make yourself at home in our little Lowcountry community. And let me use your bathroom after one too many champagnes at the Palmetto Bluff hotel.

 

 

Get crackin’, friends!

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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Y’all, I’m no beauty expert.

SHOCKING, I know.

But one thing I do know for darned sure is that I feel my best when surrounded by people with positive vibes and happy attitudes – and sometimes putting my best face forward means taking time for myself.

A couple of years ago, I started noticing my skin changing pretty dramatically. Being a one-woman-show managing several different projects and pieces of my business at any given time was getting stressful. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but over the years I just wasn’t rebounding from the stress and the often dumb things I did to myself in periods of overload. And, let’s face it: Your early 30’s are a time of waking up to several “well, now, that’s a new one” on the daily. And despite my attempts at drinking water like a maniac, slathering SPF 30+ like it’s my job, and the occasional $4 packaged face mask from the drug store, my skin started baring the worst brunt – it felt heavy, rough, dull, and blotchy. While internally I did find a lot of gratitude and happy moments amid the chaos, my face was telling a different story.

A little over a year ago, I was gifted a facial at LUX: A Medical Spa in Bluffton. To be honest, I’ve always had a little guilt around these kinds of things, thinking “self care” was for birthdays and vacations and preparing for special occasions. So, I held off using it – that I didn’t deserve to “enjoy” a “spa treatment” until I had accomplished something or until a birthday or anniversary came around.

After a particularly rough season of projects, shooting weddings, and a hurricane evacuation, my skin was worse than ever – red and irritated from the stress, covered in acne scars and full with that ‘gunky’ feeling. I caved and called to set-up my appointment. I didn’t know much about LUX at that point, but I had heard several friends rave about it, so I was secretly excited for a little “me” time. Instantly, I felt welcomed and far away from the To Do lists and craziness… the space practically glows, feeling inviting but professional. Sometimes the overly ‘relaxing’ spa experiences with New Age flute music and cucumber-basil water and winter pine candle smells makes me ironically more uncomfortable (“Am I relaxing ‘right’?”), so I was grateful that it felt clean and polished.

Upon checking in, I was greeted by the nicest front desk staff – they were just so sweet and made me feel extremely welcomed, even though I felt super rough. I was greeted moments later by Maggie, one of their aestheticians, and she led me to a room that felt clean and calm. She did a good look over my skin and asked me tons of questions about my current routine, my lifestyle, and concerns I had. She listened intently and got to work after completing her summary. With each step she talked me through the process and what she was using on my face to combat my specific problems and dropped knowledge bombs about skin science, skin care, effects of lifestyle, effects of hormones, age related concerns, etc. She also extracted a few gnarly, clinging breakouts, and I could literally feel my skin breathe. She hand-picked several samples of products for me to try and even sent me an email with some recommendations when I left. My skin felt soft and light upon leaving, and overall it felt brighter over the next several days.

Jasmine, LUX Manager, and Maggie, my go-to-gal aesthetician!

And let me tell you what, y’all, these LUX ladies know their stuff. The walls are lined with specialty and professional grade skin care and makeup, and they had their product knowledge down to a science – literally. Nothing was generic or one-size-fits-all, which I found pretty impressive. One of the lines they carry, Lumen, was even specially formulated by the staff doctors, Carmen A. Traywick, MD and Frederick G. Weniger, MD, with a little help from their LUX aestheticians, formulated for “purity, potency and stability.” (I use their “Glow Pads” once a week and OH BOY they’ve made a huge difference and a single pack lasts about a year). And my forever supportive husband, John, noticed just how much better I felt after getting the ‘gunk’ out, encouraged me to return in another couple of months because definitely gave me the boost of confidence I needed and enhanced my current daily skin routine.

 

After my experience, I definitely started noticing LUX’s presence more and more throughout the community. They were always present at major events and festivals and sponsoring tons of local events, often donating several procedures for local organizations to auction to raise money (and they were always fought over at these things… I know because I got into several heated battles at silent auctions). They donated sunscreen to local schools and hosted several educational events at their location. I quickly learned they weren’t an average “spa.”

More-so, I got to know several of the girls through my adventures in the community (including CRAZY early morning workouts together, in which they still looked amazing at 5:30AM), and over and over they were just the nicest people, always encouraging what I’ve been up to and asking how they can support. During one community event run-in, I got on a conversation with Lindsay, their Marketing Coordinator, about how we women, especially younger women, just don’t take to really invest in ourselves like we should. That we wait until problems arise before we take any action or, as I had believed, treated these kinds of treatments as ‘vanity’ driven or only worthy of special occasions… which, of course, is ridiculous when you think about our skin as THE biggest organ of our body and that it’s often the window to other areas we need to attend to. My blotchy, heavy, dull skin wasn’t just its own problem – underneath were the issues of stress, changes, and lifestyle. In another conversation with another friend and LUX lady, Susan, she pretty much hit the nail on the head: “Prevention’s the name of the game – investing a little now means saving so much more to reverse the damage later.” And it sure doesn’t hurt to feel good NOW… because hiding behind makeup and baseball hats was getting pret-tee old.

 

Susan, another bomb-diggity aesthetician at LUX

I also got to know the LUX manager, Jasmine (also at above mentioned crazy early morning workouts), and she constantly gushed about her job, the amazing people she got to work with on the daily, and forever seemed excited about the new things they were adding or the advancements they were making. She genuinely seemed excited about her job, which was always so refreshing amid the “I’m-so-busy’s” I was used to hearing… or guilty of saying myself.

In my usual interrogative nature (I pride myself on getting your life’s story in 10 minutes or less), I had a chance to chat with Jasmine a little more about her experience working at LUX. What was her secret for loving her job?

—–

Why did LUX choose the Hilton Head-Bluffton area?
Like most of our locals, neither Dr. Weniger nor Dr. Traywick are from Bluffton originally. There is something about this place that just draws you in. Our patients are worldly, they have been to big cities, seen the most luxurious of spas, hotels, and restaurants. Dr. Weniger & Dr. Traywick wanted to bring that feeling to the Lowcountry.

What’s something you’re most proud of being a part of LUX?
We just celebrated our 4th anniversary. In that time we have been able to completely integrate ourselves into the wellbeing of the community. Each year we have been able to help serve over 100 local Charitable Events, including Silent Auctions, Golf Tournaments, and Fund Raisers.

Who is someone who has been a big influence on where you are now?
It’s Dr. Traywick & Dr. Weniger. I am honored to have found them. I am complete “awe” of them both professionally and as strong family and community leaders. They are each the best at what they do and I feel privileged that they trust me to execute their vision through LUX.

If you had to recommend one professional development resource or experience, what would it be?
We try to live by the philosophies taught in the book “Hug your Customers.” Customer Service is the key element to LUX and it is important to us that our patients know that we will always do whatever it takes to give them the best service and product possible. Every new employee is required to read this book during their new hire orientation.

What mantra/quote/concept has been most important to your success?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
People can go anywhere for their aesthetic treatments, new medical spas are popping up on every corner. We know you can get a similar outcome from other providers in the area, but we want to make sure that it is not only the outcome of your procedure that brings you back, but also the way the staff made you feel.

————-

And JUST when I thought I couldn’t love LUX anymore, I’m at breakfast one morning with Lindsay (because a bout of beautiful weather perfectly called for a creative community chat over coffee and avocado toast al fresco over at Corner Perk), and she mentions their new partnership with Bluffton Self Help to help spread awareness for their mission and be a drop-off location for needed items. Just like LUX, Bluffton Self Help is all about investing in the people it serves with a longterm plan of success and self-worth, not a quick band-aid solution. Their kick-off event was quickly approaching. I’m not sure if it was the coffee kicking in or the exciting sensation of unlikely powers combining, but I basically shouted, “Now THAT’S the stuff!” Y’all, that is precisely what I love about this Lowcountry community – it’s all about the power of meaningful connection and making this area stay true to the people in it. The power of positive attraction is hard at work here, my friends.

If anything, I think it’s still going to take me a lot of time and self-talk to be perfectly okay with investing in myself and knowing it’s only going to make me better in serving others when I feel best in my own skin. At least knowing that by choosing a place like LUX that shares similar values and goals (and a knack for excited fast-talking), then it makes it seem a little more worth it.

 

 

So go on, friends – put on a happy, helpful face. 🙂

Hugs and High Fives!
-C

 

PS. I’m sure I almost broke Google trying to spell “aesthetician.” That is NOT an easy word to spell, folks.

 

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Do you ever have those days when you are getting a very direct message from all corners of your Universe and get it all at once?

Y’all, my word of the year, “Space,” is no accident.

I’m equal parts woo-woo girl (not to be confused with “whoo girls,” How I Met Your Mother Fans) and Lord-fearing lady, fascinated by divine energy and cosmic forces. We can wander down that conversation another time later, but the point is, there is “something” there that can neither be touched nor seen — but it can be felt. And OH HONEY, the longer you resist it, the deeper that feeling hits you, and more-so when you least expect it.

I’m not saying y’all have to believe me, but hear me out.

The last several months have been incredibly difficult. The worst/annoying part is it’s not for anything major; on the surface, everything was “fine.” We had a roof over our heads and food on the table. Our health was relatively good, our family was doing fine, and there were definitely some “high” points sprinkled in there. But there was that muddled sense of that “something” being off. I chalked it up to the forever lingering winter (yes, even here on Hilton Head it’s been cold and MEHHH for much longer than normal). But the truth was, I felt at odds with that “something” in my business, in my community, and that “who am I?” in the grand scheme of it. I hate that we put so much value on what we do and the impending titles and responsibilities that go with it, but truth is, that’s where I was. On the brink of something new and exciting while also very much feeling stuck and unable to keep up. I could hear my intuition screaming through that muddled “something,” but I became too exhausted to seek her out, to really even care.

I was the Captain of the Struggle Bus, and I was taking a one-way trip to Befuddled Town.

And yes, I was the Captain. No one else but me was steering that friggin’ bus. I was letting everyone and anything get on it, pretending they’d find their own places to depart along the route. But there I was, driving in circles with a whole lot of crazy.

 

(And yes, I know there aren’t “Captains” on busses, but it’s my metaphor, so we’ll just go with it.)

Worse, I felt like I wasn’t able to give that quality experience to the people who truly were put there to be on this journey with me, letting the noise and mounting needs overshadow their steadfast presence and the opportunities they so graciously affording me.

Everything felt like too much and not enough at the same time.

 

This past weekend at Mass, the gospel (John: 15), one I’d heard many times, suddenly seemed so poignant:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does He prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.

The priest talked about how we’re “pruned” so that our strong, fruit-bearing branches can be even more robust and productive. These branches (us) need space to grow and time to develop. And it’s okay to let that “stuff”, that dead-weight go; He’s already taken care of it, for it no longer serves. The priest also gave the example of Michelango’s quote: “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set it free.” That where most people see a hunk of material, the art of careful removal can reveal the true beauty hidden in there – and then become a real work of art.

 

This past weekend, too, was also a significant full moon in the Sun Sign calendar: Scorpio, or the “Pink Moon”. I’m not as much into the whole horoscope thing (although I am painfully spot-on with my Scorpio personality profile), but the idea of the sun and moon and stars and tides having these energy patterns is wildly fascinating and all too often coincidentally on-point. Supposedly, the energy around this particular full moon is one of great reveal and transformation – but only when we learn to let go of the metaphysical junk. The energy can’t fill those spaces if we keep them full of the crap: the worry, the guilt, the commitments yielding no results or joy, the jealousy, the “yes’s” that should’ve been “no thank you’s”, the control, the judgment, the fear-based decisions.

 

And between those two great messages were enough little signs and moments and conversations that could fill a whole other blog post, slowly chipping away at that muddy wall I had created around my intuition who was still screaming her little head off.

 

In a world that tells us to do more, to give more, to BE more, to experience more, to take on more… everything was telling me to pull back. To quit trying to figure everything out. To whole-ass the opportunities I told myself I wasn’t good enough for instead of half-assing a lot of things “in case they (the things I REALLY felt called to do) didn’t work out.” To believe in people. To quit waiting for some ridiculous sign and let the trust be enough. To gently tip my Captain’s hat to the characters that needed to finally get off on their stop and tell ’em to quit their free-loading.

 

To make space for the magic and people and moments so patiently waiting for their turn to enter.
And more importantly, the space to fearlessly be still.

And how exciting to know that even when I’m being the moody AF Scorpio, control freak, overcommitted Captain of the Crazy Bus that I know I can be, that The Big Guy is waiting with open arms with a smile and the Universe continues to ride along with us until we’re ready to say “thank you, friend – let’s DO this.”

 

To those of you who hung on for the ride amid the bumps and detours and chaos, I can’t thank you enough.

To those of you who waited until there was enough room on my Crazy Bus to share your journey with me, you’re appreciated so much.

To those of you who shared your love and were steadfast landmarks of trust, excitement, and “we GOT this,” I’m forever grateful.

To those of you reading this and thinking it’s time to start sculpting your life, I’ve got room on the Crazy Bus if you want to join.

To those of you reading this and think to yourself, “Yep, C has officially lost it,” you’re probably right – but honestly I’m not interested in going back to find “it” because I’m feeling pretty good for what’s next.

Hugs & High Fives, my friends.
-C

 

Side note: Major shout out to my main squeeze, my comrade, my business partner, my dreamboat, and my eternal optimist, John. There is no greater joy than knowing you accept my special brand of enthusiasm and encourage me from a place of love, faith, adventure, and a helluva good cocktail. Here’s to a lifetime of gin-filled sunsets on the porch, handsome.

 

 

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