The day I signed off and headed down to my parent’s primary home, Bliss Barracks, to enjoy a joint birthday party with my Mom I had no idea what the week would bring.
I just knew I needed a serious break.
In all honesty, it was not surprising or unexpected given we have not had a true weekend off from travel, holiday plans, the flu, caregiving, or work responsibilities since early October.
So nearly every year about this time, I struggle with burnout.
And despite giving it my very, very best I felt totally and completely drained.
I almost pushed through it.
I mean I was *this* close to not taking time off.
But in the end, I knew that would be doing a disservice to myself and to all of you who also have incredibly busy lives and faithfully continue to support this community each and every week.
As I shared in this post, our original plan was to attend the Renninger’s Extravaganza. We’ve celebrated our birthdays there for years and it’s always so much fun.
With my Mom in a boot from a broken toe and my Dad recovering from pneumonia, I knew that wouldn’t be possible though.
So, at the last minute, I created a birthday bucket list and decided to “gather hope” instead.
My birthday bucket list was a straightforward one.
There were no trips to Paris or Tiffany’s.
Merely little luxuries and simple pleasures I enjoy but haven’t made time for these past few months.
And while I didn’t cross everything off my birthday bucket list and wound up having to work a few days to meet deadlines just having the freedom to create, wander, relax, clean, organize, nap, and have white space to make decisions without any pressure felt like the biggest gift.
Here’s a look at a few highlights from the week and the photos currently in the “gather hope” folder of my iPhone…
We had a winter theme for our joint birthday party with a large flocked centerpiece, lots of candles, and glitter all over the tables.
Given my Mom is still in a boot and their new dishwasher wasn’t being delivered until the day after the party, I wanted to keep the menu as simple as possible so my Mom didn’t have to stand too long.
Ultimately, we decided on a soup buffet (she-crab, chicken enchilada, kale, sausage, and white bean), salads (cobb and winter kale), and a big cheese and bread board which worked out great.
My Dad made a raspberry amaretto cake with buttercream icing and we toasted with pink champagne.
After presents, we lingered around the table laughing and playing games which was hands down the best part of the night.
My Mom came up with a list of questions we both answered in advance and then asked each member of our pod to guess what they thought our answers would be.
I laughed so hard my stomach hurt at some of the answers.
For example, “What animal or insect is CoCo most afraid of?” 3 of the littles wrote Piper 😂
“What is CoCo’s favorite movie?” My Dad wrote “Top Gun Maverick” and just about fell out of his chair when I told him it was “The Intern.”
“What is one thing CoCo can’t live without?” I said “Jesus” but my sisters and brothers-in-law were so adamant the real answer was “her planner” that my Mom gave them an extra point 😆
It’s truly an eye-opening experience to see how well the people you spend most of your life with really know you.
On Friday, we headed to one of my favorite neighborhoods downtown for a bit of antique shopping and lunch.
It was such a gorgeous day.
We had shrimp and grits and a Bloody Mary at one of my favorite local spots. Then popped in for coffee and pink champagne cake at another fabulous spot that afternoon.
Later that night we watched The Fabelmans which is a nostalgic and fictionalized (?) movie about Steven Spielberg’s childhood.
It was good but also a little haunting.
The minute the credits rolled I said, “Wow, it’s going to take a minute for me to process all of this,” out loud.
On Saturday, we drove up to another one of my favorite small towns for more antique shopping and shrimp rolls.
I got several gift cards so we were able to shop a few of those places as well.
My closet is in desperate need of an overhaul. I donated around 28 pairs of shoes, a huge bag of purses, and 12 bags of clothes so I’m looking forward to shopping for wardrobe basics.
Later that night we made a big fire and watched one of the playoff games.
We haven’t been able to use our big tv since Piper arrived over 2 years ago. It is just too overstimulating for her.
We don’t watch a lot of tv anyway, so truthfully, it’s not really a big deal. But the minute I saw her curled up I knew I had to capture it.
On Sunday, we had brunch. Then went to the bookstore for magazines, coffee, and cupcakes.
After, we went to Sephora where I got a makeover and all new makeup.
I don’t usually wear makeup most days. And when I go out, I usually only wear concealer, eye shadow, and blush.
Makeup stores can be overwhelming because I feel totally out of place, and I don’t understand 90% of the products.
Thankfully, I found the nicest lady with over 40 skin who walked me through everything, and it felt like such a treat to not only get new products but to also have my makeup done at the same time.
Later that night, I opened presents and fielded lots of sweet calls from family.
Then I took a long hot bath complete with a pink bath bomb and detoxifying mud mask and read all my birthday cards.
It was such a relaxing way to end the night!
With a few new outfits and new makeup, one of the last things to cross off on my birthday bucket list was to get my haircut.
I have extremely thick and curly hair that I rarely know what to do with. So, most of the time it’s in a ponytail.
After catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror while in the dressing room though, I realized my hair was getting out of control and honestly much too long for someone my age.
6 inches off and fresh bangs later, my hair went from this…
But I kinda love that I just went for it because that is normally SO out of character for me.
The rest of the week has been a good one filled with lots of very unsexy but necessary tasks that needed to be addressed.
Things like getting my car tag renewed, handling the taxes at the pecan grove, putting away Christmas, organizing what’s left of my closet, driving to the donation center, taking care of Piper, cleaning out the pantry and the refrigerator, getting groceries, going through old makeup, writing blog posts, and sitting down to finally order things I’ve needed for a while but have put off because I didn’t have the bandwidth to make the decision without being rushed.
If you follow Jenna Kutcher, you might have seen this quote from her book, “How Are You, Really?” It’s one I read often.
“Most of life’s work is done without an audience, without “likes” or emoji riddled comments, without gold stars telling us that someone noticed our hard work. As we walk through life and do our work whether it’s inside or outside of the home, as we push past the exhaustion, the days we feel unseen or unnoticed, we need to tether ourselves to our visions of the future.”
Those words “we need to tether ourselves to *our* vision of the future,” stick with me every. single. time.
Largely because I know how easy it is to get off track, out of rhythm, out of step, or out of sync even when you’re giving something your very best.
To wonder, is this dream even possible anymore?… Am I making any progress?… How can I use this failure as fuel?… How can I live a more authentic life?… Are the decisions I’m making today truly aligning with my vision for the future?… Am I better today than I was yesterday?…
While some of those questions might be harder to answer than others, it’s important that we take the time to find out.
Because big dreams and small dreams, matter.
The goals and the daily rituals that light you up, matter.
How you speak to yourself matters.
The way you show up for yourself matters.
As we embark on a brand-new year, let’s seek to be the best version of ourselves.
Let’s be cheerleaders for each other. Let’s hold a candle in the darkness for those who cannot do it for themselves. Let’s shine a light on the accomplishments of those we see making a difference. Let’s extend grace and kindness even when the situation feels out of our control.
Most importantly, let’s seek to gather hope, learn to fill our cups, set healthy boundaries, put ourselves at the top of the list instead of the bottom, and enjoy simple pleasures and little luxuries.
Let’s be willing to ask clarifying questions and patiently await the answers knowing that everything that is truly meant for us is already on the way.
Cheering you on as you work to build a heart, home, and a life you love, today and every day,
This is so encouraging! Thanks for sharing your life and lessons with us.
It warms my heart to know you feel encouraged, Susan, thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate it and I hope you have the best week, CoCo
What a wonderful post!!!!!!!!!! You accomplished so many wonderful things, enjoyed wonderful food and, best of all, spent time with your family!!!!!!!!! Nothing better.
Thank you so much, Eileen. It was really nice to have the gift of uninterrupted time to take care of the things I’ve been putting off and to enjoy the things I’ve missed these past few months. I have no idea why we wait so long to put ourselves on the list but I’m definitely committed to taking more breaks when I need them. Wishing you the happiest week filled with all your favorite things, CoCo
CoCo, it sounds like you had an amazing week, and all of your delicious-looking food photos are making me so hungry. I love anything shrimp! And the cake that your dad made looks absolutely scrumptious! Breaks are so important. I’ve been feeling the same burnout too. I’m working on being okay with a slower pace, not getting everything done on my way too overly ambitious “to-do” list, and rolling more with a slower pace. I’m glad you were able to take some time for yourself. Oh, and love the new hair cute. So cute! Cheers to a year of giving ourselves grace, chasing our dreams, and remembering to enjoy the little things in life.
Thank you so much, Jen! I’m actually embarrassed to tell you how much shrimp I ate last week. Basically, every meal 😆 It was totally worth it though. We had a great time and I’m beyond thankful my Dad was able to rally and make our cake. He is hardly ever sick so to see him in such a weak state was really tough. Aging parents are no joke. I don’t think my heart is ready for it at all so I’m going to love them through anything and everything I possibly can while they’re still here and healthy. Dealing with burnout is hard. Especially, when you’re a content creator. It can feel like a never-ending hustle and grind battle and while I don’t have the answers yet, I’m definitely going to make looking for them a big priority of mine this year. Sending you tons of hugs and cheering you on as we walk in grace while chasing our dreams. I’ll be right in the trenches with you, CoCo
Happy Belated Birthday CoCo! It sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful week of time with people you love and some relaxation. New make up, time around the dinner table and a new wardrobe can definitely refill your cup!
I love where you say “let’s be cheerleaders for each other.” I feel so many women tear other women down and it’s something I’m struggling with now. My birthday was not acknowledged by my mother or co-workers. It’s time for me to set some boundaries for those who continually use my emotional resources and aren’t in my corner. I want to be the woman who is the one cheering on my friends and praying from them and focus on those people who return the same gestures.
Being a cheerleader for others is sometimes the easiest part, Stacie, especially when you’re used to giving so much. I love that you want to be a cheerleader for yourself now too and I’m sorry you’ve experienced having women in your life that have not been as supportive as you’ve needed them to be. As hard as it is to set healthy boundaries with loved ones, I’m proud of you for taking those first steps. It’s definitely a process and not always easy. But every minute you invest in yourself is worth the effort so keep going. You have so many gifts to give! Cheering you on and wishing you a happy belated birthday. I hope you find lots of unexpected blessings crossing your path this week. Big hugs, CoCo
Oh Stacie happy belated birthday to you! I read your comment to CoCo and felt you need a virtual hug. I am reading the book “The Sugar Jar” by Yasmine Cheyenne. It is about setting healthy boundaries with people to self-heal and choose joy. I just started reading it and so far it has been good. Hang in there!
Very relevant insights. Hope you are feeling renewed and settled. Your new hairstyle is very nice!
That’s so kind of you to say, Elle, thank you. I definitely feel so much better after having taken some time off. It felt like the biggest gift! Wishing you a wonderful week filled with all your favorite things, CoCo
Love this post. I have been very sick and am freaking out about not posting.
I need to learn to give myself grace. Reality, it takes me longer to heal than healthy people.
I just don’t do it and I punish myself with constantly worrying instead of healing.
This time my body isn’t letting me. It’s very tired.
I figure 2023 has to get better
I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been sick, Cindy! I am shocked at the number of people who have really struggled through January. It seems like cold and flu season did a number on so many people. I’ll definitely be praying for you and lifting you up as you work to make a full recovery. I know it’s easier said than done because we’ve been taught to hustle but THE best thing you will ever do for yourself is to give yourself plenty of grace and adequate time to heal. You always do an amazing job at loving other people well and it’s time you give yourself those same gifts. We will be right here when you are ready to get back to blogging again, I promise. In the meantime, do everything the doctors say, and know we’re cheering you on. Big hugs, CoCo PS: Thanks for the sweet compliment on my hair. I never take it for granted even when I don’t know what to do with it after hearing your story and walking my aunt through her cancer battle.
I forgot you look great with your haircut. How I miss my hair.
It sounds strange but my hair was thick and gorgeous. It was my signature. When out someone would stop me every time and say you have gorgeous hair.
Happy late birthday! And I love your new haircut. It looks FANTASTIC!
That is so sweet of you to say, Corrie, thank you! I just sent you a DM on IG (hopefully I got the right account) to let you know I was thinking of you. I know you’ve been through a lot lately and I’m definitely sending all the love, light, thoughts, and prayers I can send. I hope you’re on the mend soon and make a full recovery. Big hugs, CoCo
Happy Happy Birthday Coco! Your haircut looks great. It sounds like you have finally taken some time to rest and that makes me happy. You truly deserve time away to regroup and have fun and pamper yourself. Here’s to giving ourselves rest, grace, and time away when we need it in 2023.
Thank you so much, Kim, I really appreciate it. I have to say it felt so good to take last week off. I’m kind of shocked at how productive this week has been after taking time to rest and regroup but I know I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Hope your week has been a good one as well. I’ll definitely be cheering you on as you walk through this year with rest, grace, and time away when you need it too. It’s so important! Hugs, CoCo
Hi CoCo, Your week sounds so wonderful! I love that it was filled with family, fun, good food, and pampering yourself! I’m super impressed with your Dad’s cake-baking and decorating skills! Thanks for reminding us that it’s ok to stop and take care of ourselves! We all need that more often than we admit! Your haircut looks amazing! Thanks for your uplifting words!
You are so right, we definitely need that more than we admit! One of my biggest goals for the year is to take time when I need it. It’s hard as a content creator because there is so much pressure to do-do-do and go-go-go. But I realized this week that rest is one of the most important investments we can make in ourselves. My Dad is slightly addicted to The Great British Bakeoff and is constantly making stuff for us from croissants to cinnamon rolls to birthday cakes. He takes it very seriously 😆 Hope you’re having the best week and thanks so much for your sweet words on my hair – it totally has a mind of it’s own, CoCo
What a great post. I love all your traditions and that cake looks amazing. Thanks for sharing with us.
What a lovely post CoCo. I absolutely love that you shared your week with us. Your dad’s cake looks amazing. I actually can’t live without my planner! Your hair looks beautiful. The bloody Mary’s looked incredible. I’m glad you spent much-needed “me time” on yourself.
CoCo, this was such a great post. I believe us women can all relate to what you have indicated. It is so important to take time for ourselves. We give and give of ourselves until completely drained. And, yes we should be cheerleading for each other. Happy belated birthday! I celebrate you and your honest. Hugs!
Thank you for sharing this post with me and everyone else. It was uplifting and you are inspiring!
That is so kind of you to say, Monica, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Hope your week is filled with all good things, CoCo