I do whatever I want (after learning life's valuable lessons)

Aries szn is over, but I'm still basking in my newly-turned-27 glory. Yes, your girl is now closer to her thirties than to her twenties, and I've been playing around with the idea that this now makes me a bonafide grown woman. Cue Beyoncé (surely you knew that reference was coming).

I don't think the act of aging is enough to warrant my feeling this way, but it did give me a reason to pause, step back from myself and go, "okay, Audrey. I see what you're working with here, and damn, you're kind of grown now." Slowly, and without my knowledge, I've been growing. Knocks that would leave me completely askew now leave me with lessons, and I'm learning them faster. Maybe it's because as a grown woman, life doesn't afford you the time sit in your perceived failures. Take what you can and go, go, go.

"There's no way I could've forced the hand of this growth into grown-ness."

In the go-go-go-going, I've also felt my womanhood level up. I'm happy to be in control. I'm happy to do! I'm working more to empower myself, which is honestly just giving myself permission. Yes, you can do that thing. Disregard the fear-based reasons why you can't or shouldn't and just do. There's no way I could've forced the hand of this growth into grown-ness. I sort of had to take my punches until they no longer felt like punches.

Ultimately, I'm finding that being a grown woman isn't about having all the correct answers or doing the right thing every time. For me, it's about opening myself up to learning what right means for me, using that newfound knowledge to make better decisions, and standing firm on the choices I make.

Financial Gym—It's like a gym, but for your 💰💰💰

I don't care what people say—money is not just money. For someone who grew up with not a lot of it, money for me means opportunity. It means access, and not just to things, but experiences. Experiences that help you grow as a person. On my road to fully-formed adulthood I found that money pops up more often than I'd like (renting my first apartment in New York was nothing but dollar headaches). 

On my road to fully-formed adulthood, I also found out that I'm not nearly as fit as I'd like to be. Physically speaking, yeah, I'd like to be less winded when I journey up my fourth floor walk-up, but I'm really talking about financial fitness. Yes, it's thing.

"I couldn't magically make $50,000 more dollars in a snap, nor could I ignore the major source of my money woes: bills & student debt."

The solution for my lack or cardio strength was easy—stop drinking so much wine and go to the gym, damnit. The solution for my money concerns? Not so straightforward. I couldn't magically make $50,000 more dollars in a snap, nor could I ignore the major source of my money woes: bills & student debt. I would have to *dramatic pause* learn how to budget and figure out how to navigate my current circumstances while simultaneously working to improve them. Fun stuff right? 

What I could do was find the financial equivalent to a Planet Fitness, a financial gym of sorts. Quite literally, I found the Financial Gym. After getting "financially naked" (looking over my income, my bills, general life expenses, and debt) with my trainer Crystal, she prepared a fitness plan for me that was designed to help me save more money while paying down my debt—two big goals of mine.

In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing with you what exercises she taught me to trim the financial fat and exactly how they're  working for me. As in, wait, can you actually do this? My answer so far: this sh*t ain't easy, but, my future self depends on it, so here we go! 

The Financial Gym offers 1:1 personal training to achieve your goals—smarter saving, freedom from debt, and enough money for the things you want most out of life. My training sessions are complimentary, but all thoughts are my own. Follow along to see if I manage to make it to financial freedom and to see if the Gym can help you with your coins, too!

If  I say "spring" 5 times fast while wearing floral print, will it finally arrive?

What’s six letters long and a figment of our imagination? Spring. Even though I’ve been warned since childhood about April showers bringing May flowers, I am still irritated to my core when, every year like clockwork, the launch of spring is wet, gray, and still very cold.

"Really, what it comes down to is hope. Just blind hope. But what's a girl to do when that's all she has to keep her going is that?"

It is a flaw of my personality that once I have an idea of how something should be, I hold fast to it, regardless of whether there is any real fact-based reason for me to do so. I do it with failing relationships, expectations I have for myself, and naturally, spring.

Really, what it comes down to is hope. Just blind hope. But what's a girl to do when all she has to keep her going is that? If I resigned to the reality of things—no, you can't force that relationship to work, and unfortunately you won't be able to become a best-selling author overnight, nor can you will a sunny spring to happen by wearing lightweight tops and sneakers—life would be dreary. Much like the beginning of spring, which I refuse to accept.

What do you hide in your purse when you can't hide a thing

You won't find very many people who would use the words "secretive" or "mysterious" to describe me. My thoughts flow out of me with very little strategy or planning because I just don't have the time or the care to shield how I feel or what I think. Because I am an adult woman, I know how to control this in certain company (usually), but for most aspects of my life, I'm happy with this kind of transparency.

Most recently, I've found that I'm happy with this kind of transparency as it applies to accessories. Purses to be specific. This gold trimmed PVC purse was a hell of a find for under $25 and is currently sold out (don't yell at me, okay?), so if you found yourself lusting over it, I am sorry. What I can help you do though is A) plan what you would put in your transparent purse should you find an alternative you like and B) find alternatives.

What To Keep In Your Transparent Bag
  1. Bubble gum - I don't know why, it's just sort of nostalgic. It's also a quick way to make friends, if I remember elementary school correctly. 
  2. A book - This is so people know what you're reading, which will in turn allow them to admire or shun you accordingly.
  3. Cash money - Enough to show you can take care of yourself, but not so much that you become a target for robbery.
  4. A colorful scarf - This adds dimension to the purse while also serving as a potential second accessory on the fly. 
  5. Lipstick - My favorite aunt always told me a lady carries a tube of lipstick on her at all times. Thanks Aunt Una.
Obviously you can keep whatever you'd like in your purse, but these are just thought starters for you. Now, onto alternatives. 

Scoop a clear bag for yourself

When did I accumulate so many products?

I work in a field where I am lucky enough to get a lot of free products. Makeup, hair care, skin care—I have products in every drawer, on every available shelf, and scattered in several suitcases under my bed (not kidding). Does this stop me from buying the occasional new release when I made a drugstore run? It does not. So all in all, yeah, I have a lot of crap.

Well, not crap entirely. I'm happy to have a lot of the skincare products in my possession. From exfoliating serums to milky toners, many of them have become staples in my daily (morning and nighttime) skincare routine. Before I recommends any of them to you though, it would be helpful for you to know what kind of skin I have and my particular areas of concern.

My Skin Type 

  • Oily/Combination
  • Prone to hyperpigmentation after acne (because I pop my pimples, don't judge me)
  • Occasional chin, jaw, forehead breakouts + pms breakouts 
  • Large appearance of pores on cheeks
  • Occasional blackheads on nose 
Now, onto the products I use to (attempt) to control all of this.

The goods

When self-love and tough love collide

One of my favorite reality TV show moments of all time involves Tyra Banks yelling at an America's Next Top Model contestant who fell short despite everyone's support of her. The sheer ridiculousness makes it gold, of course, but also the relatability of it all. I relate to the model who was being yelled at, in case you were wondering.

"Now, I'm finding that I have to be my mom (or yelling Tyra) for myself—and that is a form of self-love."

You see, my mom yelled at me a lot. When my mom yelled at me it didn’t feel good for either of us, but I do know that even in those moments, she loved me. She wanted bigger, better, more for me, and my playing the fool was not going to stand. Now, I'm finding that I have to be my mom (or yelling Tyra) for myself—and that is a form of self-love. Self-love is not just about making yourself feel good, because love is not just about feeling good. Love is far more complex than just nice, fluffy feelings.

I am here for all of the self-love and self-care going around in the world, but self-care isn’t always getting a manicure or lighting a candle. For me, I’m understanding now that self-care is also forcing myself to write, even when I’m tired. It’s cooking my own food though it’s much easier to Seamless everything. It's not spending an extra $40 on something frivolous when I know I have a goal to save more money, no matter how badly I want it. I love myself enough to be tough on myself, and while it never feels as good as treating myself to a new dress, it is necessary and still very much an act of love.
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