5 Tips To Living A No Ordinary Authentic LIFE

What IF:

I was to ask you to take a look in the mirror right now, what would you see in your reflection?  Answer honestly.  Do you like what you see?  Do you wish you were someone different?  Are you immediately pointing out all those flaws?  We all have been there, trust me.  I used to catch myself scoping out any object that would bounce off my reflection and sometimes, I couldn’t look at myself without doing just that…

BUT, a while back, I was introduced to a friend who helped pave the way so that I could live the life I’m LOVING right about now.  AUTHENTIC.  (Yep, you’re reading this right.)

Authentic is a magical word!  A word that we don’t hear a lot about, but need it in our everyday lives. We tend to see it more in tangible things, but what about the intangible…YOU?

Here are 5 suggested tips on how you can live a NO ORDINARY authentic life.

1.  Fall in LOVE with yourself, flaws and all – If you’re wondering why things in your life are not filling that void that you may be having, or relationships are not working out as they should, I think I know why… You need to be in love with who you are.  (I know this sounds crazy. Love yourself?) That means accepted who you are as an individual, flaws and all.  Learn what your flaws are and accept that no one is PERFECT.  If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone to love you the way you want them to.  Your flaws make you unique just like fingerprints.  When you do this, you will be brushed with so much confidence that you will be able to accept all the joys that life sends your way.

2. Release the past, BE present and live for the future – Sometimes we all get stuck on something that occurred in our past that prevents us from living the life that we want.  Come join us in the moment.  Learn to accept the cards that were dealt to you and look for ways that you could make the greatest impact. Today.  Use your past as a stepping stone for the present and discover what your purpose is and set out to achieving it! Moments are what life is all about.  Don’t spend too much time there.

3. Choose happiness – In life, we have an abundant amount of choices and views on how you see yourself and the world.  When we start to think about those things, we may change our mindset to think in a negative way.  If you choose to do this, you may see a pattern in your life that forms in a negative manner. My solution to all of this: choose happiness over all. No one can give you happiness. It has to come from within, just like the quote, “Don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle” once you switch that on, your outlook on life will be so much brighter. Leave a trail wherever you go!

4. Develop yourself – This is one area where we tend to brush away as life takes us full speed.  In order to achieve the most authentic life, you need to take the time to find out what drives you and chase it!  If it requires further development, go get the tools to achieve it.  Know that it’s OK to express yourself, trust yourself, teach yourself and above all else, surround yourself with the things that make you happy! I strongly encourage you to do one thing each day that scares you and stretches you outside your comfort zone.  You may be surprised at the things you discover!

5. Form new relationships – They say the key to a successful life is to surround yourself with good people.  Maya Angelou says it best, “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.” Life is about connecting your personal and professional dots. Find people who are like-minded as yourself both personally and professionally. They will be instrumental in your self-development and vice versa. Building and maintaining relationships is so crucial in discovering who you really are as a person.  Go find your people!

WA504_Choose_to_be_your_authentic_self(photo courtesy of Google)

**All opinions in this post are my own.** 

5 Ways To Boost Your Morale While Seeking Your Dream Job

Job searching can be grim! We all have been there at one point in our lives.  The amount of time, energy and research that we put into a single job application, only to receive the dreadful news that you were not selected for the position.  Hearing that news can make you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you and rightfully so.  After all, it’s your career that we’re talking about.  So how do we bounce back from that tidbit of news?

job (photo courtesy of Google)

Here are five suggested morale boosters to help guide you through your job search.

1. Self Confidence – As humans, we tend to forget ourselves in this process.  Any form of rejection makes us want to curl up in the corner.  At the end of the day, you can’t forget who you are as an individual, what skill sets that set you apart from another and what you’re able to bring to the table. Just because it didn’t work out for that particular company, doesn’t mean it won’t for another.  Trust in yourself to be able to walk away from a “no” and determined to get that “yes.”

2. Time – The key to a successful job search is doing your part.  Try to dedicate a set amount of time each day to it.  Create yourself a job searching calendar and make sure you adhere to it.  Do your research and apply to as many opportunities as you deem fit.  Step outside the box.  The feeling of being involved or engaged in the process will help boost your self worth.

3. Network – We tend to shy away from being around others during this time in our lives.  It’s really the opposite.  Going through this process, you should have as many people in your corner to help share experiences, resources and any guidance.  This will give you the best boost in your search.  I would suggest you join as many networking groups that you can.  Heavily rely on Linkedin for support.  I promise you will find many like-minded individuals who are just like you.  Building new networks will help you gain a new perspective on what the workforce is looking for.

4. Be YOU –  One of my favorite quotes that I’m always an advocate for is one by William E. Hickson, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” William is certainly right.  We normally are our own worst critics and tend to give up on ourselves very easily. We start putting self doubt into our minds and that makes us lose focus.  Don’t dwell on your limitations, but more on what you’re passionate about.  Let that be your driving force.  If I were to share any advice, it would be to not compare yourself to others.  Don’t be someone you’re not just to try and land that job.  Be your authentic self and the right position will find you.

5. Resilience – Life can certainly try and knock you down, but it’s all about how you bounce back from it that matters.  If you see that you’ve applied to several opportunities and keep getting that “no” response, try to take a step back and review what you’re doing.  Being rejected doesn’t necessarily mean that your professional qualifications and personal characteristics aren’t good enough.  It just means, it wasn’t a great fit with that particular position.  At times, it may seem hard, but  don’t forget to keep a positive attitude.  It’s a big contributor to your success and it will show through your work.

Remember, you are your best salesperson.  No one knows you better than yourself.  Go sell yourself and don’t settle for anything but excellence!

**All opinions in this post are my own.** 

No Ordinary Winghouse

I’ve got a secret.

Last week, my Tampa Bay blog mates and I were invited by our friends over at Ker’s Winghouse Bar and Grill to sample their new sensation menu for the summer! Can I just tell you how EXCITED I was to have the opportunity to mingle with my blog mates and give my taste buds a treat all in the same setting?  It.was.phenomenal. I’ve always had the impression that bar food was just that. bar.food. Little to my surprise, Winghouse was about to change my perception on that.

Here’s my TOP 8 reasons why WINGHOUSE is less than unORDINARY!

  1. Wing2 Warm and chewy ( I mean chewy) soft pretzel bites that will have your taste buds screaming for seconds.  The best part is dunking these into warm Wisconsin cheese sauce or honey mustard. It’s a win/win.
  2. Wing3 This pile of goodness is slow roasted pork nachos!  Drop the forks and dive right in!  This dish allows for messy fingers. 
  3. Wing5If I could have chicken like this in my life every day, I’d be a happy camper.  This chicken pasta salad was unbelievably good!  :::faints:::
  4. Wing1Don’t like wings?  No problem!  Winghouse has certainly got you covered with all these different types of dishes.  Check out this taco salad for instance.  The flavors that can happen in one little bowl, is aaahhhmazzing! The fried jalapenos and cilantro lime cream sauce is certainly the staple for most of these dishes. 
  5. Wing8Winghouse takes “Taco Tuesday” to a whole new level with these beauts!  Tacos stuffed with tender shrimp, chicken or slow roasted pork topped with fresh ingredients and cheese = NAIL’D IT!
  6. Wing9Pulled pork sliders.  Need I say more?  For a second, I forgot that this was Winghouse. Coleslaw, crispy onion straws and Dallas sauce = perfection!
  7. Wing10 Then there was this…If you like cheesecake and guava, then you’ll LOVE the guava cheesecake!  OMG
  8. Wing7AND… if I could nominate a cocktail of the year, it would have to be this lemon smash drink!  All the flavors were spot on and made me feel like I was on a beach somewhere…

SO…

Hungry?

Well I’ve gotcha covered.  As of today, June 13th and for a limited time, you can now have the same experience as I in diving into some of these amazing dishes!

Father’s Day is right around the corner…Wing4

 

**I was invited on behalf of the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Ker’s Winghouse to review their new summer sensational menu and in exchange was given a swag bag.  All reviews and opinions in this post are my own.** 

 

No Ordinary Squad

If I said, “Sex and the City” what’s the first thing that pops into your head?  For me, it’s the admiration of true friendship.  Your “ride or die” homies as one would say. It’s the kind of relationships that has lasted a lifetime.

Ummm, Who doesn’t want that?

Family is intangible for me.  As a teenager, growing up in a different environment than most, made it hard to accept people into my circle.  As the years progressed, I started meeting people of all ages.  One by one, they came into my life for a particular reason.  Some stayed a day, some stayed for months and some for years.

Five years ago, I got the chance to meet a wonderful group of women at an event that I had attended. Little did I know, they would change my life for the better.

squad 19  These women are truly one of kind.  I feel like they were hand-picked to fall into my life at the right time.  They are the most kindest, inspiring, motivating, humorous, encouraging, and determined group of peeps who I get to call my SQUAD!

If I could give you any advice to a prosperous life, surround yourselves with people who:

squad 5 HAVE the same vision and passion as you!  Community involvement is important to all of us and my SQUAD and I are active in giving back.  We love being able to come together for the holidays at The Ronald McDonald House.  Cooking meals as a group helps us stay humble while fueling our hearts!

squad 9(photo courtesy of orangespoken)  ARE your biggest cheerleader!  We compete in races to help spread the word, encourage and support each other, no matter the need. We cross that finish line as ONE!

squad 16 SHOWS up to support your birthday, no matter the distance.  We all do our best to make sure we all feel special on OUR day!

squad 13GOES along for the ride, just because.

squad 7 TRAVELS with you!  Each year we all escape to the Great Smoky Mountains to unwind, connect and be thankful for what life has to offer.

squad 8 ENJOYS storytelling around an open campfire! It’s the simple things!

squad 4 APPRECIATES your humor and accepts you for who you are! They aren’t afraid to be themselves around you!

squad 10 WILL be your biggest advocate.  We always encourage each other to chase after our dreams/passion.  That’s important to me.

squad 6 CELEBRATES chica brunch!  No matter how hectic our schedules may be, we always are committed to each other once a month!  We may meet for dinner, play board games or actually cook a meal.

squad 3 WILL always be there for you when you need help!  These two pictured above actually spent their entire Spring break with me while I was recovering from Achilles’ tendon surgery.  We shared laughs, starbucks, meals and encouragement.

I believe people are placed in your life for a reason.  These empowering women all are unique and they all bring something different to our group.  I can’t picture my life without them and I certainly feel like I’ve found my “ride or die” peeps!

Surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you, motivate you to chase your dreams and make you LAUGH until you cry!

squad 2  I used to be “ORDINARY” until I met my SQUAD!!

GUEST POST: No Ordinary Storm

It’s an honor and privilege to get the chance to guest write AGAIN over at Transfiguring Adoption!  I have to tell ya, this is a pretty neat experience and LOVED taking a stroll down childhood lane, once again.  While you’re over reading  my post, stop by and check out their awesome page, tweets, app and insights on how you can get engaged in the foster and adoption world!!!

Also, want a chance to catch me LIVE?  I’ll be participating in an online panel discussion “Welcoming A Child Into Your Home” on May 26th between 7:00 – 8:00 PM EST.  For further details and to register, click here!

Seeing Through Life’s Storms

APRIL showers bring MAY flowers is a phrase we all certainly know!   It’s an expression that I’ve come to live by, but not for the simple reasons.  APRIL, the month we are greeted by Mother Nature with open arms and she sprinkles us with her tears and her temper tantrums, known as storms.  MAY, the month where Mother Nature makes sure we all feel the love by providing beautiful flowers to bloom, but, this wouldn’t happen without the storms from April!

To read further, click here to find out how this I weathered the storm…:)

 

 

No Ordinary GIVING

In less than 24 hours, something amazing will be hitting the Tampa Bay area!  Give Day Tampa Bay!   On Tuesday, May 3rd, thousands will be opening their hearts to the local nonprofits around the Bay that help our communities find and maintain their purpose. The list of participating nonprofit organizations this year are over 595!

WOW, imagine the impact!

So what is Give Day Tampa Bay?

For those that don’t know, Give Day Tampa Bay is a community-wide, 24-hour online giving challenge hosted by The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. This charitable event helps Tampa Bay area nonprofits raise much-needed dollars and bring awareness to the numerous challenges facing these organizations.

Last year, Give Day Tampa Bay raised $1.75 million for 550 Tampa Bay area nonprofit organizations. This year, 595 nonprofits are participating. Let’s show our pride and support for nonprofits in our area on May 3!

How it works

It’s so simple to participate. Just visit this website on May 3, 2016 anytime between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. and with a few simple clicks, you can make a donation to your favorite nonprofit organization. The minimum donation is $25. Nonprofits can also win monetary awards and additional prizes based on their day’s donations. The tallies for each organization are tracked in real time on the online leaderboard.  (info pulled from Give Day Tampa Bay website)

Giving-Back-Quotes-Mahatma-Gandhi (photo courtesy of Google)

Give Day Tampa Bay happens to arrive at the perfect time for one of these amazing nonprofit organizations!  May is National Foster Care Month where we take a moment to honor, unite and celebrate the awesome families of our children in the Bay area.  Eckerd Kids does just that!  They are a powerful team who work impeccably to provide our Bay kids a second chance at the life they deserve!

This year as you consider which nonprofit organization you wish to GIVE to, please note that with a donation of $25 or more given to Eckerd Kids, you will receive a special keepsake cookbook from their founder, Ruth Eckerd.  What a great way to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children in our community, including foster kids searching for their forever family as well as cooking up awesome meals!  

595 participating nonprofit organizations are looking for you!  Wherever you decide to GIVE this year, I hope you walk away full of happiness, inspiration and kindness that you spread it EVERYWHERE you go throughout or Tampa Bay communities.

a433889676c3d6fe40ab416a6e000065(photo courtesy of Google)

This post is written by me and collaboration with Eckerd Kids.  The opinions expressed above are all mine.

 

No Ordinary Wedding!!!!

So what do you do for a sister that is the best ever, EVER? You throw her a surprise wedding, of course. Yes, you heard me right. My sister got engaged on June 19th, 2013 in Waynesville, North Carolina at Skinny Dip Falls

melissas ring

and we had been doing the wedding thing for months. Dress shopping here, email wedding planner there, pin this hairstyle on pinterest, destination shopping, etc. She couldn’t quite decide when/where she wanted to have her dream wedding.  So SURPRISE SIS! You’re Getting Married!! I was not alone in planning this by a long shot. I had to have some help! My sister’s fiance’ contacted me about the 1st week of November to gather my thoughts about the whole thing.  At first, I was a little nervous as you never know how someone will respond to such a surprise.  I mean, seriously. This is her whole life you’re talking about.  But, knowing him and the length of their relationship, I knew that if anyone knew my sister, it was him and if he was ready to plan this, then so was I.  Let the planning begin!  But the big question here is… HOW DO I KEEP THIS SECRET FROM MY OWN SISTER?  I mean, I did live with her and had to talk wedding stuff to her ALL the time.  We decided that her big day was going to be on 12/21/13, so not a whole lot of time here…

I had a lot of questions about everything as I was always the bridesmaid, never a bride, or maid of honor.  So I knew very little about weddings.  OH this is soo hard.  Pinterest, wedding movies and Starbucks was my saving grace! 

So how does a surprise wedding go down anyway?

Well it goes a little something like this…

Liz's Photos2013 006 We said YES TO THE DRESS!!!

Liz's Photos2013 049 Several trips to NC to see the venue and plan the wedding layout with the florist:)  I got to enjoy these two adorable boys along the way!

Liz's Photos2013 069 Thursday, December 18th. The surprised bachelorette party my BEST of FRIENDS and I in North Carolina had planned for my SIS on the day she actually found out she was getting MARRIED! Thank you to The Patio Bistro for your hospitality and AHHHMAAZING food!

Liz's Photos2013 071  Cute Takeaways for all

Liz's Photos2013 121  The BEAUTIFUL bride is getting ready for her big day!  Make-up and hair was already booked!  All she had to do was show up.

Liz's Photos2013 128 Hair is in the works!

Liz's Photos2013 137 WOW!  The hair is on point! Love the curls.  My sis is almost ready.

Liz's Photos2013 148 I had the honor of buying my sis the perfect dress for her big day! Thank you Emelina’s Bridal for the BEAUTIFUL dress, keeping the SECRET and EXCELLENT customer service in making sure we had the dress ready!

Some images of her wedding day!

Liz's Photos2013 145 Liz's Photos2013 154 Liz's Photos2013 161 Liz's Photos2013 138  Liz's Photos2013 184 Liz's Photos2013 178 Liz's Photos2013 198 Liz's Photos2013 196 Liz's Photos2013 223 Liz's Photos2013 217 Liz's Photos2013 159 Liz's Photos2013 150

Just wait until you see her!

Liz's Photos2013 169

So you see my friends, A LOT went into this SURPRISE wedding that was planned in less than 4 or so weeks.  The majority of the credit goes to the GROOM!  Keeping a secret from someone so long had been the hardest, but totally worth it.  The intimate moment that they shared together in that venue will forever be a keepsake in my heart!

Mr. & Mrs. Tutton are now celebrating 2 years of marriage.  See the happy couple below.

Melissa & Tim

Have you ever surprised anyone?  OR had a surprise thrown on you?  I would love to hear about it!

No Ordinary Liz takes on Nashville (Part 1)

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WARNING: I apologize in advance for this long post, BUT, I just have so much to share about NASHVILLE!  You will be hooked and ready to add/subtract this place off YOUR bucket list! Stay tuned for Part 2 of my NASHVILLE excursion!

Bucket lists are a collection of ideas, things or places you want to accomplish before you start a family or you expire!  The best thing about a bucket list is the fact that whatever you decide to add, it has no expiration date.  You complete when you want and how. There’s no limit but the sky! Hopefully we all have one that you are adding to and checking off occasionally.  Well I have A LOT of NO ORDINARY things on my list and keep adding to it.

Last year after Christmas, I know, I’m so late in writing this post I had the chance to check off an item!  If being spontaneous had a name, then it would be NO ORDINARY LIZ.  I always keep an open mind and LOVE exploring places.  Sometimes the BEST adventures blossom this way! If you recall, I had Achilles Tendon surgery back in October, so at this time, I was rocking my fancy “robocop” boot! Thank goodness I could still drive! Nothing beats a good ole ROAD TRIP and NOTHING was going to hold me back. Nothing.

Uncorked 115 (photo courtesy of Google)

So,without an agenda, a friend and I embarked on this journey to NASHVILLE aka MUSIC CITY.

The drive to NASHVILLE from Tampa was super easy, it took us about 10 hours.  I know that sounds like A LOT, but knowing where I was driving to made up for the long hours.:)

ECSTATIC would be the best way to describe the instant I saw the sign…NASHVILLE! For just a moment in my fantasy world,  I felt like I was an artist on my way to getting discovered.  Heck. If only I could carry a tune!

Capture

Thanks to airbnb for hooking us up with this awesome place!  The location was perfect.  This super cheap place reminded me of a quaint house you’d only find in movies.  It had the smell of “ole” living and everything we needed to enjoy our stay! Only a 10 minute car ride into downtown NASHVILLE!  Home for 5 days!!

Uncorked 226 Uncorked 127  Uncorked 129 Uncorked 130

So as I mentioned earlier, we didn’t have a game plan on how we spent our days.  I had limited mobility and had to find/do things that didn’t evolve in a WHOLE lot of walking.  Well, that didn’t stop me, I ended up walking and paying for it later, but it was ALL GOOD and worth it!

So where did I venture off to in NASHVILLE?

Well keep scrolling…

Uncorked 131 Recognize this place?  This is the inside of Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.  Absolutely stunning.

Uncorked 134 Uncorked 135These images were taken out front of the Gaylord Opryland Resort “garden” area.   The pictures don’t do any justice.  I truly felt like I was surrounded by pure MAGIC! I’m just sharing a glimpse of what I experienced.  Everyone should get to see this once in their lifetime.  This is a MUST to add to your adventures in NASHVILLE.

Uncorked 142 Ever heard of the NASHVILLE Predators? This is where they call home, Bridgestone Arena!  So much cool things happen here.  From CMT award shows, to concerts and more.  It was really cool seeing this up close!

Uncorked 176Now THIS!  I can’t express and CAN’T is a strong word here, express how cool this was!  Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located right beside Bridgestone Arena where the walking distance ( or crutching in my case) was super easy. Considered the world’s largest museum, you will find preserved clothing of various country music star, awards and records dated waaaaay back!

Uncorked 164

Uncorked 203 Uncorked 198 Uncorked 192 Uncorked 191  Uncorked 156 Uncorked 143

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I took so MANY pictures of memories to last a lifetime!  But I’ve included a few for you to view yourself, you’re welcome! These exhibits/images are tasteful in showing you the “artifacts” of country music legends, icons and super stars from Elvis Presley‘s blue suede shoes, Johnny Cash‘s performing boots, that made his feet hurt because they were too narrow, HEE HAW, the best TV show ever, please bring it back to Carrie Underwood‘s dress she was wearing upon becoming the next American Idol! While viewing these exhibits, I could envision myself being at their individual concerts, front and center! What an experience.

WHELP, It’s time for me to put away my dusty “ole” old cowboy boot and Stetson cowboy hat, for now. I’ll let you take some time to digest all the amazing places I’ve been so far.  I’ll be back at a later date to share PART 2 on other adventures NO ORDINARY LIZ takes on!

Before I go, I’ll leave you with this:  know where I’m heading?

Uncorked 243

Tell me, do you have a bucket list?  If so, where/what have you done to minimize that list?  I would love to hear about it!

The review is written by me showcasing my adventures through Nashville.  The opinions expressed above are all mine.

GUEST POST: No Ordinary Tale

It’s an honor and privilege to get the chance to guest write over at Transfiguring Adoption!  I have to tell ya, this was a pretty neat experience and LOVED taking a stroll down childhood lane.  While you’re over reading my tale of a post, stop by and check out their awesome page, tweets, app and insights on how you can get engaged in the foster and adoption world!!!

ONCE UPON A TIME in a small town tucked away in the Great Smokies, lived a little orphan girl who didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  Her clothes were worn and tattered. Her hair was dangling in her face and as she was running, the wind would strategically place it behind her ears.   Every time you saw this little girl, she was always carrying an empty milk jug with the top randomly cut out and storming off into the woods.  One might ask.  Where was she going?  Who was she going to see?

To read further, click here to find out how this tale ends…:)

 

 

Clearwater Beach Uncorked Extravaganza: RECAP

I had the pleasure of attending the Clearwater Beach Uncorked’s fifth anniversary extravaganza event on Sunday, February 6th along the sandy white shores of FL coastline and let me tell ya, it was “off the chain” as one would say!  If you didn’t have the opportunity to make it out to this years AMAZING event, you were missing out on all the popping of bottles, the array of smells, the BEAUTIFUL FL rays beaming down on you, the wind whistling in your ear as you were walking through tent to (VIP) tent, the chatter of voices in dismay over the world-class foods that was presented in front of them AND the amount of SWAG that one could carry!  NOW, I appreciate why this event was held over the course of TWO days!  I would’ve been bummed if I had missed any of this action!  It certainly was a whole day of FABULOUS-NESS~

Continue reading “Clearwater Beach Uncorked Extravaganza: RECAP”