Bask in Your Blessings + Styling Spring Maxi Dresses

As you walk through this week, I hope you make room to bask in the beauty and joy of all your blessings. You don't have to strive to earn anything God has given you or is preparing to bless you with, just be yourself and walk confidently in your purpose. As a black woman who has now experienced two pregnancies while working full time, I've often felt extra pressure to prove myself. Being a mother doesn't stop me from showing up with excellence but it does impact how I choose to show up. I used to take pride in working myself to the point of exhaustion and then coming home to give my child and husband what's left of me. However, myself has shifted. This pregnancy is very different from my first one and has forced me to slow down and be more present for the people and experiences that money can't buy. 

One life change I've made this year was to release myself from the pressure to show up "perfectly" at the expense of my mental and physical health. I now use my vacation and PTO days regularly and pre-schedule random self-care days because rest is my right and I deserve it. Rest is your right as well, so I encourage you to examine your life and think about ways to make room for your wellness!

This dress is an old favorite of mine! I got it a few years ago from Forever 21 for around $40 if I recall correctly. I was immediately drawn to the colors and how this dress can be easily styled in warmer months as well as layered under a jacket on a fall day. This weekend was my first time styling this dress with my baby bump and I think it's the perfect fit! Maxi dresses are of those things that look great on multiple body types whether pregnant or not and I'm happy to be getting good maternity use out of a non-maternity dress.

The Beauty of Growing Pains: Pregnancy Update

I'm so happy to share that my little family is growing! This pregnancy coupled with the first quarter of 2022 pushed me to re-evaluate my life. When I found out I was pregnant, I was so excited. My husband and I have discussed growing our family and we knew we wanted Avery to have a sibling but we left the exact timing to God. I have many emotions with this pregnancy. I feel joy thinking about the life growing within me, I feel peace and gratitude to God knowing that we are more established financially this time than we were when I was pregnant with Avery, and I'm so excited for this new chapter in our family journey.

Despite all the amazing feelings I felt with this new blessing, the first trimester sucked and I feel no need to sugarcoat it. I dealt with nausea and fatigue almost every day between November and early February. I got to participate in some exciting projects at work during November, December, and part of January that were valuable to my career, but also left me feeling exhausted working through constant sickness. Every day I woke up hoping I would feel good only to quickly be greeted with nausea and bouts of vomiting. I wasn't depressed but feeling sick every day with no relief in sight had me feeling down. On top of that, work was extremely stressful during February. I was more stressed out and sleep-deprived during February than I have been in months. Juggling all the first trimester symptoms while pushing myself to perform at a high level at work was hard. PSA, give working moms grace because we are exhausted a lot even when we present like all is well. 

Feeling sick, the pressures of work, lack of sleep all while trying to show up the best way I could for my family was taking a toll on me. I barely found any time for myself during the work week. There was a point in time during 2020 when I felt overwhelmed and I remember my mom asking me, "Ashley, what can you put down?" So at the start of February, I decided to become more intentional about prioritizing my wellness wherever I could make space; I started a tradition of taking off the first Sunday of every month of work for my self-care, I decided to take a break from my beloved Instagram time after work because the hour and a half I was spending the app each day was better spent resting, sleeping and trying to nurture my body through the changes of pregnancy and stress of life. I made time to see close friends I had not seen since last year. I spent more time with God outside of the rushed prayers where I often found myself falling asleep while giving Him my list of requests. I got way more present with my son and found myself often giving in to his requests to sit on the floor and play. 

People-pleasing at the expense of my wellness is something I'm no longer interested in. My big act of self-love in March was resigning from a position I didn't have the bandwidth to perform. I wrestled with that decision for weeks and when I finally made my decision, I felt peace and immense relief. I got even more comfortable saying the word no without further explanation. Work became less stressful, the pregnancy-related sickness lifted and things started looking up. I'm excited for the newness of spring and the warmth this season will bring. I'm excited about continuing to show up in the ways that are best for me while honoring my boundaries. I'm excited about the plane tickets I booked to give my family and I a beautiful and restful vacation experience we have earned. I look forward to sharing more of this journey and my stories with you. Thank you to everyone who thought of me and/or reached out to me during my online absence and for being patient with me during this time. I love you all. Talk soon!