slow(er) pace in paradise

Have you ever run a half or a full marathon? I feel like that’s the closest thing that I can compare the last year to from start to finish. Preparation began far before the race did, there were plenty of times when it felt too hard and it was scary to finish. But the equivalent to crossing the finish line was the second we landed in Dubai. We’ve spent the last few weeks enjoying every second we can together and what a better place to do it then here in the UAE.

I had every intention of blogging/vlogging every second of this trip, outfits and I have PR packages to promote but to be quite honest – I am in no hurry and not bound to my phone. I decided to be completely selfish with my time here because what other time will I have a summer with VERY little work to do. We’re in a 2br/2ba flat apartment here in Abu Dhabi with a kitchen and living room which is perfect. Plenty of space its just gorgeous… the boys and I sleep in when Chris has to work, we wake up to breakfast every morning and enjoy a hot dinner 5 nights a week before bed. I cook a little here and there and of course there’s laundry… but that’s the extent of the chores. We are in the phase of slowing down and only have the desire to reconnect and see all that we can!

After what has felt like complete and total chaos of months of moving and everything that went along with it… life and the complexity of it, we deserve this time to relax. Honestly at first it felt incredibly overwhelming to have so much time to go sightseeing and chill. Like when you first stop running after a long race and your body still wants to keep going, your heart is about to beat out of your chest and you crash. But after a little time, the anxiousness left and I’ve begun to enjoy the calm.


It’s felt like a second honeymoon… Chris has been absolutely amazing and it feels so good to be together again. He’s so sweet and the boys are really enjoying their daddy too. Hearing them say things like ‘hey daddy’ or ‘hey dad, let’s…’ it just melts my heart, they missed him so much. With his thoughtful surprises and enormous heart he sweeps me of my feet everyday, just being with him feels like home… we could be anywhere.


When we can, we fit in everything from our bucket list of things we want to do and to see here. I forget that the boys are professional travelers themselves and I love their willingness to learn everything they can while we’re here. On a normal day that we’re not out and about, we have a variety of pools and nearby beaches to choose from. It has averaged well over 100° everyday but it feels no different than the muggy Georgia heat that we left. The ocean is super warm and the pools are perfectly cool…

UAE works hard to make everything beautiful, luxurious and enjoyable. Here you can find just about anything you could ever want… it’s the supreme oasis in the middle of the Arabian desert. As we have about 3/4 weeks left here we’ll continue to travel and explore and I’ll try to get a little better about sharing our experiences, at least on IG (@mrskatewest). At the very least I’ll begin blogging about our travel and some tips after we get back home. I’ve received a lot of questions and messages about recommendations and such that I’d like to combine into specific posts. Comment or DM me if you have specifics!


Mantras and staying true to that New Years Resolution!

Anyone else have a resolution to leave a few bad habits behind in 2017?! How are you doing?? Care to talk about it maybe via first quarter check-in?? Were a few of those habits maybe… self-destructive confidence, being too much of a people pleaser or maybe just being afraid to be 110% YOU!? Girl… all three were on my list and I am proud to say that I am in a better place today than I think I’ve been in 10 years or more. I have plenty of work still ahead and old habits are hard to leave behind, but I’m here to say that I am SO glad to have stuck to it this year. I’m holding myself accountable this year… no restarting again next year… Here’s what I’ve been focusing on and what’s giving me reason to celebrate:

Self-Love and Confidence: This is HUGE. Having unhealthy conversations with yourself or talking poorly about yourself are just going to alter how you see yourself. It places a huge negative weight on you constantly and drags you down a path of destructive physical and mental tendencies. We all know the bad stuff is easier to believe sometimes so when you get here… ladies it’s tough to bounce back.

Ex: Pointing out EVERY NEGATIVE thing you or someone else thinks about… Mentally demeaning yourself with thoughts or assumptions… You might hold onto negative things someone has said about you or situations and repeating them over and over.

People Pleaser: Everyone loves a yes-(wo)man right?! The one who seems to effortlessly pile anything and everything on her plate, no matter if it has anything to do with her or not. The one who can slap a smile on regardless of how shitty she’s being treated! Ladies this is the unhealthiest way to go about it… be a ‘people pleaser-ish’, know when to speak up, say no and put yourself first. There’s nothing wrong with assessing your situation, adjusting your sails and and continuing on utilizing a healthier solution.

Ex: Always backing down… apologizing when there’s no reason to… Going out of your way to please people even if it damages your own situation or negatively impacts you… you never say no and are usually find yourself in one-sided relationships.

Being True to YOU: This one is unique to you obviously… but the behaviors are usually pretty common. Ever wanted to do something, anything but you didn’t because you were afraid of what someone would say? Or maybe you’ve been ridiculed for something in the past and you have a complex about not following ‘the‘ crowd. Maybe you have BIG dreams and think they are impossible because they’re different than the norm…..? The need for approval is out of control and changing the way we think in a horrible way.

Ex: You’ve been amongst others who tear someone else apart for… anything. You feel the need to stay ‘safe’. Maybe lacking in the self-love department keeps you from trying new things. It’s ok to consider opinions of others in some situations, but the opinions of those who matter… should not keep you from doing something that is important to you.

These three things, which I’ll now refer to my heavy hitters, were way ahead of losing weight on my New Years resolutions list and the reason that I stuck with these three together is because they’re connected. At least to me anyway… they seem to collectively cloud my positivity and where I find one, the other two aren’t far behind. So early January I decided I needed a reboot, a serious one. I even stopped drinking… because I wanted only clear thoughts, strong will and my mission heavy on my mind. I got to work:

First, I re-read a book that ignites a serious call to action on my part…. Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown. I’ve probably read it 3-4 times at least and am on my second copy as I couldn’t even find the first. It gave me the confidence boost I needed! Because it’s so easy when you’re feeling low to overlook these heavy hitters and place blame solely on you. It is easiest for you look past the environment you may be in, your habits and changing anything about yourself or the way you think would mean to subject yourself to social torture right?! No… it’s just putting a band-aid on a bomb.

I looked back on the last few years and I found a pretty distinct cycle that was very interesting! Starting with the bandaid, I hit the ground running until a bump in the road knocks me back into the same routine of avoiding conflict, yes man’ing and continuing to move forward with my head down and blinders on refusing to face reality. Until I reach the brink of boiling point… where I applied the band-aid again wondering why the hell I was in the same place… AGAIN.

Sound familiar? While our situations could be completely different… I think this cycle is present with everyone. I think the cycle itself is normal… I just want to lengthen the cycle, make it more constructive and learn from it each time as nobody should be a fan of bad history repeating itself.

Now that I’m equipped with the why… and the courage I was still seeking the how. Which has been tricky because I like things to be more organic or feel as they happen on their own. It’s a natural way to avoiding conflict I know… but it’s also how I’m wired and I’m trying to be ME remember. It was necessary to find a healthier version of a people pleaser, a place of balance. So this part of your how may vary.

I decided to employ these NEW habits… they went a long with the heavy hitter bad ones to make it more simple.

Self-Love and Confidence: Every negative is to be followed with two positives.

People Pleaser: You can’t play ball unless the ball comes back.

Being True to YOU: Anxiety requires action.

I actually laughed as I wrote these out because they just look so simple and I’m sure to some, independently they may already be a given part of their day-to-day. But to me… these were my starting point. Yours can be completely different… but keep it short and sweet, simple. Something you can quickly say to yourself. Your mantras…

Starting with self-love and confidence which has felt so good! You never realize how many times in a day you’re negative towards yourself until you make the conscious effort to following every negative with two positives. I learned this little tip at an adult learning seminar a few years ago and at the time I thought it could probably only be relevant in peer-to-peer situations… but you can’t be reliant on someone else when making these kind of changes. Of course the affirmation is nice from another individual, but it is necessary to learn how to love yourself first no matter how awkward you might feel. Talk yourself up!

This simple action and really practicing it has significantly increased my level of confidence. I think about some of the most confident people I know, they do this naturally… I’m just working at it. Just as some people are naturally physically fit and athletic… I have to work at it! It has brought so much happiness and it’s becoming so organic that now it just happens. Something like a negative… followed by a ‘no, you’re…’.

Now people pleasing… this one hoonnn-eyyy!! It has plagued me for years and I really had to do some research on this one. The common suggestion was of course to ease yourself into more assertive behaviors first in safer situations with less at stake. Situations that aren’t going to ruin relationships or anything, but a healthy way to break the cycle. This gave me a rush of reality that I needed first of all! In these situations I realized that while I assumed one and only one possible outcome (over thinkers say ‘yea’), it actually evoked warm and fuzzies. I could see where over time this would cultivate more respectful relationships and also a healthier level of respect for myself.

In all the research I did, I realized there would be a time where the ‘ball wouldn’t come back’… meaning that some relationships would in fact be cut off. But I have to have the confidence to throw it, respectfully. Without practicing all this together as part of an entire overhaul resolution I wouldn’t have been able to conquer these heavy hitters together, especially this one. But because I am cohesively and consciously attempting to remedy these habits, they’re organically coming along together. Giving me the boost needed to do difficult things with confidence and the ability to continue seeing the big picture. This is the organic, natural outcome that I’ve been seeking.

It’s made the third of the heavy hitters, being mySELF, easier. It’s brought back a few lost quirks, a couple forgotten tendencies and a new found love for who I am. The reason my mantra here was ‘anxiety requires action’ was because I knew that my fears were not realistic. Think about it… anxiety or over thinking can keep you from doing something, right?! And then maybe you get ballsy and just do it… you go ‘that wasn’t so bad’! Through repetition I’m forcing myself to act instead of worry. Like with this post… I’ll post it without even re-reading it… because I’ll find every excuse not to post. Requiring action just means to do it. Regardless of the annoying errors in grammar or whatever, you’ll appreciate the post more than the draft… I hope.

Now don’t read through this as it’s been a life crisis… I respectfully wanted to make a change within myself. No crisis… just realizing that I’m in my early 30’s and seek change in certain areas within own my life and any change should start by taking a good hard look at yourself first! I hear so many people chanting for change, you know you see it too! Many condescendingly preach and judge from their perch, yet they refuse to even peek into their own corner. My corner… that’s what I can change, my corner is what I can control and where I start if I hope to evoke any sort of big change or influence throughout my lifetime.

In the short time I’ve been consistent with this blog, I’ve recieved messages and feedback from those who enjoy what I write and the transparency I have. This means so much, but even if I hadn’t heard a word… I’d still be here! Because I know if I’m thinking anything… someone else does too! No matter if it’s about products, fashion, LIFE… Maybe having similar struggles and the eagerness to bring about change… for you and for myself I share this. Confidently continue on… no matter your resolutions, if they’re not about personal growth or changes, these principles would still apply. You’d still need those mantras to keep you on track! It’s about believing in yourself, loving and OWNING who you are… having confidence is KEY.

See great in yourself, believe in yourself, be kind to yourself… and in doing so, you’ll find it makes it much easier to do the same for someone else.


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Mommin’ ain’t easy….

Don’t let the title fool you… this will not be a post about how hard the responsibilities or the actual day-to-day life of a mother. It’s about time… and how it knows no patience and moves quicker than I can sometimes handle.


Nathan is my youngest of two, today is HIS day… his eleventh birthday! I could not be more proud of the character, the personality and the brilliance of my ‘little’ Nate. He is so sweet, so kind and caring! When I think about all the awesome wrapped up in such an adorable boy… I am so thankful and again just incredibly proud!


The older my boys get I miss the baby giggles, rocking them to sleep, the cute stages of growth and discovery… and before you say it, I also miss crying and the late night diaper changes. I miss all of the dependency on mom and dad. They’re getting SO big and while they still need mom and dad, maybe more than ever, it’s different.


From day one, he’s been exceptional. The day he was born was a b l u r… so fast and unexpected! I woke Chris up in the middle of the night because I was having strong and steady contractions. We were very cautious because it was still early… Nate wasn’t due for a few more weeks and with Christopher I had issues with pre-term contractions. Not Braxton hicks… but pre-term labor. So we decided to go into the hospital at the advice of our midwife because with Christopher I had to be given medication to stop the progress of labor… so this made us extra careful with Nate – I was already high-risk. Chris and I had suffered the loss of a unique ectopic pregnancy just before we became pregnant with Nathan.

We started to load up the car with everything (lesson learned from the first born… always be ready) and asked our friends to watch over Christopher, as we figured we would be back home before he would even wake up! As we loaded everything up, the pain got so severe I had to just get in the car and sit down… it was intense. My face even started going numb… at which point Chris turned our minivan into an ambulance and quickly got us to the hospital, running 3-4 toll booths on our hour+ drive. We get there and are quickly informed that Nathan’s on the way… no stopping him now! But there’s a problem… he’s been upside down and backwards for weeks now and they want to turn him, manually.

I’ll save most of the gruesome details but turning him did NOT work and was the MOST painful thing I have ever experienced… even more painful than childbirth. So emergency c-section it was! I remember being so excited and yet SO scared at the same time… Nathan’s heart rate had begun to slow so everything moved FAST.

Chris is the absolute best man ever for many reasons… but he is specifically my knight in shining armor when it comes to keeping me calm and melting my fears away. The second he was whisked into the operating room I was ok! And before we knew it, Nathan was born. March 12, 2007. He was a little premature but the doctors were confident that his lungs were strong and just wanted a few days to monitor him in the hospital so we stayed a little longer. This also worked out because he was tounge-tied too, so we remedied that during those extra days too. We went home with our healthy little boy 6 days later.


Since the day he was born, he’s smiled and laughed his way to who he is and where he is today. He continues to amaze Chris and I every step of the way! We’re excited to see the man he’s growing into, but still just reminisce about him being the cute, cuddly little baby boy who brightened so many of our days. I feel like I’ve only blinked since he was born and today he’s 11?? This is what makes being a mom so hard is you feel like you’re rushing, busy, you’re doing this, doing that… practice here or there. Somedays you turn around and time has left you standing there in yesterdays makeup, holding a pair of pants that your child can’t even wear anymore asking yourself where did the time go?!


I started my journey as a mother a lot earlier than most considering Christopher was born when I was just 18 years old. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I know why my boys came into my life when they did… I’m so thankful! Many of my childhood friends are just now starting their journey as parents and it brings back so many memories of my ‘babies’ that are now as tall or taller than me. I continuously reflect on the wonderful memories we have made since they were small… which is wonderful, but also hard. It’s hard to face the reality of how quickly time moves on! Some moments you pray with a passion that they’ll just hurry up and pass you by and then others you want to last a lifetime. Looking back, they all only last a moment… a second and then you blink and find yourself in another phase, another moment.


I just wish I had a clicker… you know a remote. I’d love to be able to select chapters to relive, go back and visit whenever I wanted. Today I’d go back to the day Nathan was born, the nights I spent in the rocker with a hungry boy fighting to stay awake, the day he first learned how to giggle, the day he discovered his feet, that time he threw up all over me, his carseat and his brother in Target, his first steps, first day of school, when he first rode a bike… you get the picture. I’d relive it all… the good, the bad and the ugly because all of it led us here to the eleventh year and taught us so much along the way.

To my Nate: You change the world little by little every day and I know your impact is only going to grow, just as you do. Be fearless in everything you do because your heart is going to lead the way… be braver than brave. Continue to be kind and use your heart for good, listen to it… it’s always true. Know that you can be ANYTHING you want to be…. I know you want to be a Marine Biologist… and maybe you will… but know that you can do ANYTHING, be ANYTHING and do not ever let anyone tell you different. Your dad and I love you more than you’ll ever know and support you always.







Update // Where From Here?!

I can’t hide the whirlwind that I’ve been working with lately…. Between managing/growing my business, the news of moving this summer, the boys schedules, beginning the design phase of our forever home and starting a journey into becoming landlords…. the past two weeks have been BUSY. I don’t think I would have even made it through if the boys hadn’t been such a big help… thank goodness. But over the last two weeks we’ve made some big progress…

pexels-photo-219249.jpegBiggest news is we’re celebrating the opportunity to keep our first home… Chris & I will venture into making this a long term investment and becoming landlords. Of course this was NOT an easy decision and we met with numerous professionals to make sure we knew what we were doing. And since we’re currently occupying the property it was a task to keep it show ready at a moments notice. We make plenty of memories here full time. Not everyone appreciates the ‘lived in’ look of laundry, dishes from all the cooking I do and the clutter the boys leave strewn all over the house – top to bottom. Finding a photographer, legal consult… finishing all those unfinished projects, just everything at once. Of course doing all this with Chris here and there! But we made it… we had a good amount of interest and think that we’ve made a good decision with the tenants we chose.

Firming up what’s going to happen with the house has allowed for us to make plans though our transition and I couldn’t be more excited about how things will pan out. We’ll turn over our current home in April and move into temporary accommodations until the summer so that the boys can finish out the school year here. It gives me time to sort through what we’ll be taking, selling, organize things… the usual moving prep we all do when it’s ‘that time’. Which I have to say I’ve learned some tricks along the way for sure… some I’ll share because everyone moves and we do what we can to make it as efficient as possible!!

Finally… When the boys are out of school… we’re heading to UAE to spend the summer!!!! Homecoming in REVERSE!!

All the chaos and crazy from the past few weeks… We had one MAIN goal that of course included a lot of moving parts but the goal was to gift the boys a summer abroad. A summer they’re going to remember for the rest of their lives. Reconnecting as a family with Chris and just making memories and celebrating making it through the last year in ONE piece! I can’t wait to share with you our plans as we make them and bring you along as we experience and learn all we can this summer! Look for the Planning a Summer Abroad series as we start to prepare all the moving parts!

Where do we go from here?! 

As I talked about this morning in my video I’m going to continue running my blog and The Chic Little Shop but I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to take my business to a whole new level… broaden the spectrum and bring more to my customers and my followers. My ultimate goal is to help empower and inspire women to live their best life as the best version of themselves confidently! This includes many of my passions… beauty, fashion, lifestyle, travel, relationships and day-to-day life as a mother and a wife.

I relaunched my business with the intention of focusing on clothing alone and still wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of so much more. If you know me, you know that I am NEVER short on words and always have something to talk about… so putting myself into a box just isn’t for me. If labels are important here, just think of my blog/shop as a place where I share various inspirations in hopes to make your life easier.

I’ll still bring various apparel and accessories into the shop, but I’ll also be promoting some of my favorite shops and companies some of which I’m affiliated with and some I’m not… I’ll make sure you know which is which!

I am so excited about the direction my business is going and how it’s overall just growing and blossoming into something I’ve dreamed about for years. I feel like I can finally see a glimpse of what it could become with more hard work, dedication and of course learning all I can along the way. There is SO much to learn and technology is always changing, social media is constantly changing and evolving. The industries are nearly impossible to keep up with and it will be a huge task to stay on top of everything that I plan to share and bring to the community. But I’m more than up for the challenge and already this journey has been so rewarding in so many ways. I’m so thankful!

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//Casual Look of the Day//

(In order of Application)
MAC Cosmetics Prime+Prep Fix+, $26 at
e.l.f Cosmetics Poreless Face Primer, $5.79 at*
Flash Focus Hydrating Foundation Stick in Light, $34 (ON SALE) at
Younique Mineral Touch Concealer in Scarlett, $29 – Indep. Retailer
Touch Translucent Setting Powder, $39 at – Indep. Retailer
Photo Filter Foundation Powder in 1 (Natural Vanilla), $42 at
Customizable Eye Shadow Palette w/ 4 Colors, $32 at
-Colors used: Woodwinked, Honey Lust and Shroom
Better Than Sex Mascara, $23 at (Enjoy 20% Off w/link)*
Contour Kit w/ 6 Shades, $18 at (Comes with Free Gift)
Professional Eyebrow Powder Pencil in Grey, $6.69 at*
e.l.f Cosmetics Brushes (Starter Kit), $20 at*

*Affiliate Brands

Top: (older), similar always available – LOVE plaid/flannel!

Mug: Petal Palette Monogram Mug, $10 at



Dressed to Impress…. ME!

Just enjoying my coffee this morning and I saw some pretty rude comments on Instagram this morning about one of my favorite IG bloggers. ‘Who gets dressed to stay home?!’… among a slew of other harsh remarks. Who the hell says that to get up, get dressed and get ready… that we have to be going anywhere?! I mean getting ready or ‘dressed up’ is NOT an everyday occurrence because there are plenty of days where I enjoy being comfortable and staying in my jams! BUT that day that I get up and say – ‘Damn, I feel good!’ – I’m going to celebrate it! I’m sure this is the same for just about everyone!
We don’t have to impress ANYONE but ourselves. Do what you want! Wear what you want! But wear it with intention and 100% commitment! WORK IT! We should be able to do this without the fear of being judged, the subject of some snide comment or a passive aggressive ‘screenshot’ commentary.
We’ve heard over and over again that we should all love ourselves a little more in 2018. I think this is another area that needs a little self-care and reality check. Don’t be afraid to try something new or wear something you like because of what anyone else thinks. Because you know what… overall it’s really confidence that makes you shine!
You can be wearing sweatpants with your favorite oversized t-shirt and it’d be perfectly ok to be ‘feeling yourself’! What you’ve never felt sexy in sweats or your jams?! To each her own… but confidence makes the outfit! Any outfit!
Which brings me to the point of this post. Words HURT. Why as women do we feel the need to spend so much time talking negatively about other women. Is it a competition thing!? Is it a jealousy thing?! Is it just something to do!? I can’t say I’ve never said anything that I don’t regret… but I do all I can to keep my mind on whatever whirlwind I’m trying to manage and not on someones selfie. If someone feels so good about themselves that they chose to share the moment… LIKE it… LOVE it… COMMENT on it… if you support them. If not, SCROLL on.
It’s so annoying that even though we shouldn’t let comments or trolls impact how or what we think of ourselves, we do! Especially if the comment wasn’t even about us personally. But it’s hard, for anyone! Sometimes the negative is so much easier to believe. Especially when you see so much of it everywhere. Then it all rushes back to you as your getting dressed and you talk yourself into the same ol’ same outfit. Am I right!?
I want to be part of a community of that supports and lifts each other fearlessly and consistently… that can share ideas and have tough conversations knowing that it won’t end a friendship. I want to be surrounded by women with different backgrounds, opinions or beliefs that can educate each other without trying to change each other or tear each other down. Where is this generation of change and positivity that I see plastered everywhere?! Is it part-time or what…?
I hope that 2018 is truly a year of love and growth. Where more women and men stand up for kindness, strength and loving one another. Imagine what a difference you could make in a persons day by simply being kind, standing up for them or just supporting them.
Be kind.