Sunday, February 12, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday!

Every year the staff in the dorm I oversee hosts a big Super Bowl party with food, a giant screen, and stadium setting. This year was perhaps our best yet!

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Check out our set up!

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Best food I've ever had at a football game

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And our stadium seating

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My incredible staff and students

What did you do for the big game?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quitter Conference

This weekend my friends Laura, Craig and I were fortunate enough to attend Jon Acuff's Quitter conference

And, no, it doesn't have anything to do with smoking cessation, just to clear that up.

Based on Jon's book, Quitter, the conference was chock-full of practical and inspirational information that is all about helping you "close the gap between your day job and your dream job."

This Wall Street Journal bestselling author encourages us to pursue our dreams and passions, but not to quit our day jobs... at least right away.

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I thought this was a really creative way to do nametags!

In the course, Jon covered topics like figuring out your dreams, facing your fears, getting started on your dreams, fueling your dream with ideas, social media, and knowing when it's time to jump on your dream.

Each topic was helpful and exciting for me, but perhaps the biggest takeaway for me was about facing my fears and then practical suggestions for planning and implementing the steps it will take to pursue that dream.

I really enjoyed talking with fellow dreamers (Shout out to Monique, Jon, Lindsey, Chrystal, Vinny, Rob and David if you read this!) about our passions and what it means to execute following through with pursuing them.

One of the biggest takeaways for me from the whole weekend was the necessity of conquering fear. The fear of failure, the fear of starting, and the fear of success.

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you know that conquering fears is something I'm very passionate about. Yet, although the negative voices in my head often keep me from doing what I feel called to do--write.

Now some of you may say, "Wait a minute! She's a got a blog, she's working on a book and she's getting her Master's in English Writing! She definitely writes!" Well, yes. I write, but I often find myself holding back because of these fears.

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Great advice, huh?

Therefore, this conference really inspired me to reclaim my original purpose for this blog. Originally, I started it to simply write and to share my writing. But, over time, that changed. Some of it was due due to a desire to have some more personal writing time and create a space to document my life. But after time, it became easier to share my pictures than it is to wrangle words onto a page for the whole world to judge.
But can you relate?

Jon reminded me that everyone has those nasty voices in their head saying things like, "Who are you to say that?" "Someone smarter probably has already said this and said it better," and my all-time-favorite, "What do you think people are going to say about that? Maybe it's better if you keep quiet."

But whether your dream is like mine, to write, or to be a nurse, a mom, an actor or a bee keeper, I hope that you can take some time to check out Jon's book and get started on pursuing that dream!

What's your dream?
What's standing in the way of your dreams?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Giveaway: My Memories Suite 3 -- Digital Scrapbooking Software

Do you love scrapbooking?
Are you like me and do you wish you were good at scrapbooking, but can never seem to find the time or money?

Well, we're all in luck!

The wonderful people over at My Memories recently contacted me and wanted to help me thank you for being a reader of my blog by hosting a giveaway!

The winner of this giveaway will receive one downloadable copy of their digital scrapbooking software!! 

I got the program myself and started playing around on it and I love it!
There are tons of pre-made and customizable layouts, which makes it fast and easy!

Right now I'm in the process of making a book of our dating relationship from the first date to our engagement and it's turning out beautifully!

My Memories:
  • Is lots of fun and is very easy to use
  • Has lots of cool ready-to-use templates for entire albums
  • Comes with lots of layouts, embellishments and you can purchase more online if you're interested
  • Allows you to custom design pages
  • Allows you to insert digital media into your scrapbook like videos and songs

Want to win?
You must:
1. Be a follower of Sounds of Laughter, Shades of Life
2. Go to the My Memories website and tell me which layout of paper design is your favorite

For extra entries:
1. "Like" my new facebook page
2. Follow me on twitter

Please be sure to include your email in your entry comment so I can contact you easily!

Can't wait to find out who wins! It's tons of fun and I know you'll all like it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Must Take Wedding Photos

 Not sure you and your photographer are on the same page?
My good friend Stephanie recently offered a very helpful tip to ensure that you're happy with the pictures you get...

Make a list of "Must Take" photos and share them with your photographer before the wedding.

Here are a few I found on Pinterest that I really liked, but the sky is the limit!

(Cute for engagement pictures, but would also look great in wedding attire!)

In the next few weeks I'm planning on taking a break from W.W., but fear not, it will return in good time!

Until Then,

Nicole Jeannette

Monday, February 6, 2012

Manage Stress by Managing Your Time

I've recently come to the conclusion that is not easy to simultaneously:

Work a full-time job
Be a full-time grad student
Plan a wedding
Have a social life
Work out
Keep my apartment clean
Prepare healthy, home cooked meals
Keep up with my writing and my blog

I've been balancing them decently well so far, but I'll be honest, when I'm doing one thing, I'm feeling guilty about not spending that exact moment on the all of the other things I have to do--and it's starting to stress me out!

Sounds crazy, right?
How can anyone do more than one thing at once?

Sound familiar?

I'd love to hear what tips and skills you've developed to improve your time management and maintain a low stress level, but in the mean time, I wanted to share something that I hope will be an encouragement to all who have plates that are simply too full!

 One thing at a time
    Many of us have bought into the delusion that we can do it all. The bad news is we can't, but the good news is it's okay. At the beginning of your week and beginning of each day, write out a list of tasks--be sure to include things you want to do and not just what you have to do. Then, prioritize and when you're completing one task, be all in. If you're going out to lunch with a girlfriend, put the project you have next out of your mind and enjoy yourself. If you're working on a project, don't worry about what's for dinner tonight. By allowing yourself to do one task at a time you'll be simplifying your process and therefore eliminating wasted time.

    Learn when to say no
      Hi. My name is Nicole and I'm a people pleaser. Oh? You too? Stinks, doesn't it? Our inner approval addict yearns for nothing more than to make sure everyone is happy. But having little to no time to ourselves and to complete the things that are important to us just isn't cutting it. To remedy this, create clear boundaries at work, at home, and with your friends. I've tried it an learned that if you don't cater to the needs of everyone else, before your own, you'll not only will you live, but you'll be healthier, happier and better able do the things that are important to you and those you love.

      Learn when to say yes
        Just like it's sometimes hard to say no when we don't have time, the other side of the coin is fear of overcommitment. Whether it's coffee with a girlfriend or attending a concert, I often find myself worrying that saying yes to anything other than the "essential work" will force me to fall behind. However, it's important to remember that cultivating meaningful relationships is even more important than getting items checked off of your to-do list. It's all about the balance.

        Take mental health breaks to just breathe
          Even if it's just five minutes, sometimes taking a break to stretch and slow down your breathing throughout the day can make all the difference. Taking these little breaks allows your brain to temporarily disconnect and reboot. You'll return to your task/work  a little bit more relaxed and better able to focus. Try doing two or three of these a day and you'll be amazed how much they help!

          Cut out the non-essentials
             This takes discipline, but after you evaluate the ways in which you spend your time, start cutting out small things. I did a time audit recently and I found that I was spending quite a bit of time on Pinterest and facebook... both websites I enjoy, but don't further my future. In fact, wasting time on either of these leaves me feeling stressed out. Now I "treat" myself to checking Facebook and Pinterest for two ten minute periods (total) a day. It's remarkable how much time I have to do other things. 

            Ask for help when you need it
            If you're truly swamped, make small adjustments to be smart about your workload and ask for help if you need it. Whether it be carpooling, hosting a potluck instead a four-course meal, asking a friend to do a guest post on your blog or have a friend help you with something you really need, there is no shame in asking for help. While you may or may not get it, and you certainly shouldn't take advantage of people, it never hurt anyone to ask for a helping hand! When things slow down you can always repay the favor!

            Hope these help!
            What are some things you do to help eliminate stress?

              Saturday, February 4, 2012

              i heart ice skating

              The weather in Nashville has been uncommonly pleasant for January and February this past week! Even though we've all had the ability to enjoy the great outdoors, sometimes a visit to the skating rink with your friends is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

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              Becka and me reenacting our first trip to the rink almost five years ago

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              One of my oldest and best friends. I love Becka. 

              How has your weekend been?

              Wednesday, February 1, 2012

              Wedding Wednesday: White Cakes


              The bottom two are my favorite, but the bird's nest is growing on me...

              What's you're favorite?

              What would you like to see on Wedding Wednesday next week?