Not Your Average Birth Story

You guys, my son's birthday is this weekend. 

I cannot even believe it! I can't believe that he will be one year old! How can a year have passed since I brought him into this world? What even is life?

Well, excuse me while I freak out. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote about a year ago, after he was born. I wrote this on my other blog, but I wanted to share it here in honor of his first year of life.


Natural birth has no comparison. In my opinion, not even other types of birth compare to it. I have nothing against other types of birth, and I respect every woman’s right to choose the way she births. I, myself, was born by c-section, and I don’t bear my mom any ill will because of that.

But natural birth…

There is nothing like it. I can’t compare it to climbing a mountain, or running a marathon…

It is, if I’m being honest, the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to my body. But it was so, SO much more than pain.

It was perseverance. It was patience. It was frustration. It was anxiety. It was trust. It was love…

For the majority of my ten-hour labor, I had three people supporting me:

My incredible husband…who fetched me water when I needed it. Who held my hand when my own strength wasn’t enough. Who reminded me, when I screamed that I couldn’t do it, that I was doing it, and that I was strong. He was the extra force behind me, rooting for me, supporting me, loving me…

My amazing mother…who silently watched over me, letting me know with her presence that everything would be okay. Who told me she was proud of me. Who held my hands when my husband needed a break. Who rubbed my back. Who smiled with pride when she saw me with her grandson in my arms…

The awesome midwife…who gave me a measure of peace because she was skilled, knowledgeable, and confident. Who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Who told me not to run from the pain or fight against it, but to embrace it. Who caught my baby as I pushed him from my body and into the world…

Then there was God.

I cried out for Him during labor more times than I can count. And as my stomach contracted, and my body contorted, and I wished that I had all the drugs in the world, I begged Jesus to help me through it.

Birth was, honestly, probably one of the most spiritual times in my life. I needed God to reassure my soul that I would make it through this, and that another soul would come to the world through me.

And there were moments of labor that were not so fun…

I vomited twice. 
I was at my most vulnerable for 10 straight hours. 
I was exposed…
And of course, I was in pain.

There is nothing, no word, no metaphor or simile, that can describe what a contraction feels like when you are moments from delivery.

I can’t explain it. And the only way you’d know what I’m talking about is if you’ve delivered a child without drugs. The pain is indescribable.

But. But…

Laboring and delivering my son, with no interventions, no one shouting at me, no one telling me what I needed to do, trusting my body and my support team trusting me…

It it the single most empowering and incredible thing I have ever done in my life.

When I chose this path, I was confident that I could do it. In the midst of it, there were times where I wasn’t so sure. But I have come out on the other side with so much pride in myself, in my marriage, and so much faith in God, that I couldn’t be more sure that this was the right decision.

I would do it all over again.

I know that a lot of people look at me and all they see is someone small. Someone slight. Someone quiet.

Well, I didn’t do this to prove anything to anyone, and now more than ever, I am confident that I don’t have anything to prove.

But I just have to say for myself, that I am a force to be reckoned with. I am strong and powerful, and there is nothing weak about me.

There is nothing ‘weak’ about women. We are not the weaker sex, or the lesser sex.

We are capable, with God, of building and bringing forth new life, and then sustaining that life even after birth.

I had an amazing team of people who helped me as I brought my son into this world. But I brought him into this world.

The senior midwife said to me as I pushed, “It’s time to bring your baby. Only you can bring your baby.”

Well, she was wise. And she was right.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Natural childbirth and motherhood are the hardest things I've ever done, but my son is so worth it. He is awesome and it is such an incredible blessing getting to be a part of his life all day every day. I get to watch him and smile with pride, because I made him. He was born from love, and he is such an incredibly loving little guy. He has such a sweet disposition. 

Cayson, if you read this one day, then you should know that you are amazing, and I'm so stoked that I get to be your mom, even when you're teething and won't sleep through the night.

Happy Birthday, little man!

You’re like a party somebody threw me
You taste like birthday
You look like New Years
You’re like a big parade through town...
You leave such a mess, but you’re so fun!
— The Party by Regina Spektor

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Current Beauty Favorites

Current Beauty Favorites.png

Life feels as though it's calmed down just a bit, and I finally feel like I can get back to this space and share the things I love.

The last couple of weeks and months, I've been using several products that I have come to love! I love the way they work for me, I love their formulation, I don't mind their ingredients. They are just all around good products and I'm so excited to share them.

Paulas Choice Earth Sourced Cleanser

1. Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Perfectly Natural Cleansing Gel

The name is a mouthful, but this cleansing gel works like a charm! It removes my makeup and effectively cleans my face without stripping my skin of its natural moisture. It's pretty gentle on the eyes, so you can remove your eye makeup with it as well. Plus, the ingredients are 99% natural, which I so appreciate. The only thing I don't like about this product is the packaging. It comes in a squeeze bottle, but I wish it came in a pump bottle. That may seem like an insignificant detail, I know, but with pump bottles, you get to know how many pumps give you the amount of product you need, so you end up wasting less product in the long run.

If you want to try it before buying the full size, you can purchase a sample for 50 cents from Paula's Choice, which I think is totally awesome, so give it a try if you're in the market for a new cleanser!

Mineral Fusions Eye Treatment

2. Mineral Fusion Revitalizing Eye Treatment

I first mentioned this cream back in my IBE Dallas Part II post, and at that point, I had only been using it for about a week. Now I've been using it for almost a month, and I really like it. It's hydrating, but it doesn't leave my under-eyes and eyelids feeling greasy or oily. Plus, I actually feel like it helps to decrease my under-eye puffiness, and that shocks me because this is the first cream to do that. It doesn't completely make it go away, but I've noticed that when I use the cream, the puffiness subsides a bit, which I appreciate.

I'm usually a skeptic when it comes to eye creams, because dark circles, puffiness, and even fine lines and wrinkles have a lot more to do with genetics than they do with the products you use. However, it is good to use a cream for moisturizing purposes, because the skin around our eyes has no oil glands and is also thinner than the rest of the skin on our face. So make sure you're moisturizing around your eye area, guys and dolls!

Smashbox Concealer

3. Smashbox Camera-Ready BB Cream Eyes with SPF 15

You guys. I have been on the hunt for a good concealer for over a year. I've tried the Glossier concealer, I've tried the Tarte stick concealer, and I even tried one from a brand called Onomie. BUT, I feel like I've finally found the one to bring home to mom.

I was at Ulta, and I was actually going to try the Nars Radiant Creamy or the Urban Decay Naked Skin, when a lovely Ulta consultant introduced me to this Smashbox concealer. I was skeptical at first, because I wasn't sure if she was just pushing a product or if she genuinely thought I would like it, but after she applied it to my under-eye in the store, I was sold.

I am not into the overly highlighted under-eye look that a lot of people go for these days. If you like it, you do you, but it's just not for me. I like for my concealer to be as close to my skin tone as possible. Plus, I like coverage but not like FULL-CAKE coverage, you know what I'm saying? This concealer does it for me. It evens out my under-eye skin tone, doesn't crease or settle into fine lines, and it stays put! Can you actually fall in love with a concealer? Because I feel like I have.

Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder

4. Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder in Medium/Deep

I know that everyone and their cat has been talking about this setting powder, but it truly is the bomb.com. It melts so perfectly into the skin, without looking heavy or powdery. And with it coming in two different shades, its suitable for everyone. Plus, it's talc-free and there's no flashback. Holla!

I personally use it to set my concealer most of the time, but occasionally, I'll dust it over my cheeks if I've been too heavy-handed with my bronzer or blush. And sometimes I'll use it on my eyelids as a transition shade. It's nearly invisible on my eyelids, but it helps eyeshadows to blend so well. Check it out and you won't regret it!

Milk Makeup Holographic Stick

5. Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in Mars

This is one of those products where I totally bought in to the hype. One of my favorite YouTubers, Mariah, talked about it one of her videos just before it launched, and she had an early-access code, and I TOTALLY took advantage of it. I'm so glad I did, too, because I love this highlighter!

I'm not into the whole random-streak-of-color type of highlight on the cheekbones, it just looks weird and fake to me, but I totally appreciate cream or stick highlighters that give me that dewy glow. I just want to glisten in the sunlight, you feel me? This Holo Stick totally does that for me. It's got enough color to make you look cool and like you tried, but it's subtle enough for people to say "Man, she is looking radiant! Is she glowing?" 

100 Percent Pure Mascara

6. 100% Pure Ultra Lengthening Mascara in Black Tea

I've tried falsies, and I just have a hell of a time putting them on. I can put them on someone else, no problem. But applying them to my own eyelids is seriously one of the circles in Dante's Inferno. I love the look, but I hate wearing them. Since that's the case, I've tried finding mascaras that will give me both volume and length, since my lashes are sparse, short, and curly. 

This mascara...is life. I love the way it makes my lashes look. It's like a good bra. It lifts and separates them, without clumping up or getting flaky (end bra analogy here). It does transfer a bit after a long day, which I hate, but I've started layering it with other mascaras that give me volume, and I really love how my lashes turn out. Not to mention, this mascara is 100% chemical-free and nontoxic, and it smells like fruit :)

So there you have it, the products I've been loving and using on the daily as of late. What products have you been using lately? Let's discuss!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links*

Leave What's Heavy Behind...

I wanted to dig a little deeper today and share some pretty personal struggles that my little family and I have been going through for the last two years.

This September, my husband and I will celebrate two years of marriage, and three and a half years of being in a relationship altogether. We're still madly in love and choosing love everyday, but it has been far from easy in our two short years of marriage.

I'll give you a brief little backstory. We both lived in Dallas before we got married, then about two months before our wedding, my husband moved to OKC for a job. After that, we got married in September of 2015, and I joined him in OKC. About three weeks after that, we found out that we were, very unexpectedly, pregnant.

Now, I am not someone who likes a lot of life change, and especially not in large doses. I absolutely adore my son, but finding out that I was pregnant with him was absolutely terrifying. I like to plan things, plan my life, and when things happen that I don't plan for, I meltdown for a little bit. My son was unplanned for, and I didn't know how to cope with it at first.

But that's not this story. This story is about how to deal when you live your life between a rock and a hard place. 

LJ The Inspired Life-Lost and Lonely

Living in Oklahoma was incredibly difficult for us. You wouldn't think so, but there is a big difference in culture between Oklahoma and Dallas. Yes, I know I'm comparing an entire state to just one Texas city, but take any major city in Texas and the comparison will still apply. 

We had culture shock. We were in a new place, with no family or friends in the state. My husband was at a new job, and I couldn't find a job. We were newly married and newly moved and, come to find out, newly pregnant. It was all so much... NEW. It was terrifying and the most stressful thing that I've ever been through, and unless you've been in similar circumstances, you can't really relate. Believe me, I've had people try, and they just don't get the magnitude of the situation. 

Well, fast-forward to a year after living there. Our son had been born, which was wonderful, but we still had no friends and no family in the area. Then my husband's job turned sour. He had someone close to him, betray him at work, and that devastated us both because we considered this person a friend.

That then made our last few months in Oklahoma even more stressful and incredibly difficult. We felt even more isolated and alone than when we first moved there. It was almost more than we could bare, and considering all that we've dealt with, I'm surprised (and grateful) that we haven't had more problems in our marriage.

LJ The Inspired Life-Are You Tired

I, by nature, am an incredibly protective person, and that is an understatement. If someone comes after my friends or family, my first instinct is to attack, to protect and defend. I can be ruthless, in a take-no-prisoners kind of way. I can be vicious and unforgiving, and the honest truth is that it doesn't bother me. 

Except...it does. I am a Christian, and I believe that, because God has forgiven me, I should forgive others. I believe that, or at least, I know it intellectually. But it's so difficult for me to put it into practice. When I feel like someone has committed a terrible act against me (or anyone else), and there is no (earthly) justice, I find myself unwilling to forgive. I feel like, if I give that up, if I "let it go," then that person has won and it won't matter that they hurt me or someone else.

I know it's not right, but it's how I feel sometimes. I have been hurt by so many people, and it's by people who should 1) know better and 2) keep doing it. So why should I forgive them?

Well, the forgiveness isn't for them, it's for me

With forgiveness comes freedom. You free up space in your mind and your heart for something infinitely better to come along and occupy it. And you free yourself from the responsibility of having to hold everyone accountable for the terrible things they've done. 

I just can't be the judge, jury and executioner (so to speak) for everyone that commits a sin against me. I can't, and I don't want to.

LJ The Inspired Life-Love That's Healing

This person that betrayed my husband...

I was so mad at them for what feels like a long time. I'm still angry with them. But the truth is, I've never wanted to forgive someone so much in my entire life. I just don't have the time or energy anymore for all that anger and resentment. 

It takes its toll. Plus, I'm still working on forgiving people I've been mad at for way longer than I've even known this person, so even more reason to just let them go with God and forgive them.

I'm ready to move on with my life. We have physically moved away from that conflict. We are back in Dallas and close to family again, and we are on our way to building healthy, life-giving relationships. 

That truly is one of the best ways to get rid of the pain: replace it with love. Love casts out all fear. Love protects. Love heals. Love wins. Every time. We can't always see it immediately, but I really believe that love will always win. And you can always find people who will love you. You can always find a tribe. 

So I'm ready to leave what's heavy behind and start fresh. I'm ready to heal, grow, and help others. I have so much love to give, not just to my family and friends, but to people I haven't met yet, and maybe one day, I'll get to help someone through the most difficult time in their life. Maybe I'll be a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, and a voice to say "You will make it through this, and you'll come out on the other side stronger than you were before."

I truly believe that. 

If you're reading this, thanks for letting me share today. And if you, too, are going through a difficult time, just know that it will get better.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Indie Beauty Expo-Dallas Part II: Brands I Loved

Hello, hello!

I've got part two of my Indie Beauty Expo recap coming at you today, but this time I'm sharing more info on the brands I discovered and the products that I now love. If you missed part one, get on it!

Without further ado...

Rootfoot Oils was the first brand I discovered when I walked into IBE. They make essential oil blend fragrances based on Spirit Animals. I purchased Lion, which is for "assertiveness, personal power, and strength."

When I walked up to the table, a lovely woman named Allison told me all about Rootfoot, which is her sister's company, and then she asked what type of scent I liked. I told her that I like food scents, like vanilla, and she introduced me to Lion. I've already worn it, and it has a spicy vanilla scent to it, with just a hint of earthiness. I love it! 

They also make a rose hydrosol, essential oil singles, and some jewelry. If you love essential oils, check out their site, and you won't be disappointed.

They were certainly one of my favorite brands that I got to visit with, if not my favorite. The ladies were so kind and personable, and we talked for a long time about all kinds of topics, including organic tampons. Yep, that's how deep we went (no pun intended).  

Another brand that I was fortunate enough to discover was Live Botanical. I got to talk to the founder, Carolyn, for a good while, and I loved learning how much of her heart and soul she puts into her products. Almost all of her ingredients are locally-sourced in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, and if they're not locally sourced, they're still ethically sourced. 

This milk bath is technically a bath soak, but I use it as a body scrub. As instructed by Carolyn, I just put a small amount in the palm of my hand and then wet it (just a bit) while I'm in the shower. It gets just coarse enough to become a body scrub, but still remains hydrating and softening. Plus, it smells like cake! Check out Live Botanical, you guys!

I've been in the market for an eye cream for quite some time, so when I walked up to the Mineral Fusion booth and mentioned this, Michelle (who's the Marketing Director) gave me this Revitalizing Eye Treatment. She also talked to me about their makeup, which was amazing! I didn't purchase any, but I certainly will in the near future because the Mineral Fusion eye shadows were pigmented ay-eff! A big thank you to Michelle and Mineral Fusion for the complimentary eye cream! I've already gotten a chance to use it, and so far, so good. 

By the way, Michelle told me that you can find their products at Whole Foods and Sprouts, so check them out next time you're picking up some groceries!

You guys, when I tell you it's a small world, I seriously mean that it is, indeed, A FREAKING SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. When I met Jade, the founder of Prairie Bloom Body Care, I had no idea that we had something pretty significant in common. I walked up to her booth because of the cute packaging and how interesting her products looked. We got to talking and, come to find out, we delivered our babies with same midwifery practice!

Crazy, you guys. All that aside though, I'm a little upset that Prairie Bloom has been right under my nose in Norman, Oklahoma for the better part of two years and I only just discovered it a week ago. Jade has a lot of incredible products, and it was hard to pick something, but I decided on the Red One mask. This mask...is not...for sissies. Jade warned me this might happen, but the first time I put it on, I only wore it for about 3 minutes. You're supposed to wear it for 10, but it was itching so much that I couldn't take it. And no, it's not an allergic reaction.

This mask is meant to draw out impurities, so it was just doing its job. Plus, Jade said the itchy feeling goes away after you use that mask a couple of times, so I'll definitely try again. When I purchased it at IBE, it also came with at beautiful, handmade clay mixing bowl, which Jade has made specially for her by a local artisan in Norman. She also ethically sources all of the shea butter that she uses from Nigeria, feeding back into a village's economy there, which I think is totally awesome. 

Check out Prairie Bloom Body Care today!

Source Vital Apothecary was one of the booths that ALWAYS had a group of people in front of it. No matter how many times I walked past, it was always packed, so it wasn't until near the end of the expo that I got a chance see what all the fuss was about. 

Source Vital's claim to fame at IBE was their Make-Your-Own Facial Cocktail. You could tell them what you're problem areas were, and then choose some add-ins, and then voila! You would have your own little custom cocktail that was supposed to replace your toner, serum, and moisturizer. I'm going to be honest, I don't know if I believe that it can replace all of those products in my skincare regimen, but you're interested, you should check it out on their website.

They did, however, have quite a few body products that I was interested in, and one was this Sports Balm that I purchased. It is, essentially, a natural replacement for Icy Hot or Bengay. My husband and I are frequent users of Icy Hot these days. It's like...as soon as you become a parent, you start waking up with random aches and pains, no matter how old you are. I am, thankfully, ache and pain free at the moment, but I'll let you know how this works once I get a real chance to use it!

Honorable Mentions:

I happened by the Eden Bodyworks booth, and found out that, not only do they have affordable products for women with natural hair, but they also make bath and body products as well. I am in the market for some new natural hair styling products, since I'm a bit put out with Shea Moisture (more on that some other time). The Rep that talked to me about the brand said that they can be found in Sally's, and she gave me some pretty generous samples, so I'm excited to see if their products work for me!

Another brand that I was impressed by was Antonym Cosmetics! I am so mad at myself that I didn't get a picture of their booth, and I didn't buy any of their products, so you'll have to settle for my description. You guys, when I say their products are pigmented, I mean they are PIGMENTED. And they're completely natural! They're also rolling out some deeper shades for their newest foundation (which hasn't launched yet), so hats off to them for recognizing the need for diversity in eco beauty! I can't wait to get my hands on some of their eye shadows and blushes. The hubs may have to hold me back.

If you made it to the end, thank you for reading all the way through this post! It was a long one, but the brands mentioned are seriously some of the best in the Eco Beauty industry. Please go check them out, and if you're feeling really generous, tell them I sent you ;-)

Cheers,
LesLeigh J. 

RECAP: Indie Beauty Expo-Dallas 2017, Part I

A cute sign and instant photo station

A cute sign and instant photo station

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Indie Beauty Expo!

It's a beauty expo for independent (and largely green) beauty brands. The Expo lasts a few days, with different sections depending on the tickets you purchased or how you were invited. I purchased VIP tickets for myself, and the entire event was well worth the $80 price tag.

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I would have like to. I was honestly just soaking it all in. This was the first beauty conference/convention/expo I've ever been to, so the whole thing was pretty exciting for me. Today, I'll be sharing some of the photos I did take, and on Wednesday for part 2, I'll share a closeup look at the products I purchased and the samples I was given.

Let's get started!

There were about 70 brands total at the expo, and though I did make it past every single table at least once, I didn't actually get to stop by and talk to every brand.

The above brand, Makeup America, was one that I did get to talk to. All of their products were red, white, and blue themed, which was honestly a bit much for me. But I did find it kind of cool that $1 of every product they sell goes towards paying down the national debt. It would be interesting to find out exactly how much they hope to give towards the debt, since the debt is in the trillions. And I don't mean that to be snarky. I'd really like to know, since that's a pretty big goal.

I only took pictures of the above brand, Beneath Your Mask, because I loved their display and their branding. In truth, I feel like their products were a bit overpriced for what they were, and it was incredibly difficult to talk to them because they were always trying to talk to someone else. But hey, kudos to them for being popular!

IBE Dallas 2017 Open Bar

There was an open bar at this shin dig, which was fantastic! VIP tickets got you two complimentary drink cards, though I don't know how much you actually needed those since it wasn't a cash bar. The bar tenders were on point, and my drink was delicious!

IBE-Flowers edited .JPG

I appreciate the design of this entire event. Everything was beautiful. They had purple lighting everywhere and beautiful floral arrangements. They had a flower crown station, which ALWAYS had a long line, so I didn't get a floral crown :(

They also had a photo booth station, which I didn't use because I went alone and there's really no fun (for me) in doing the photo booth solo. 

Overall, it was a really fun experience, and I would love to go again next year. I'll share more about the brands that I absolutely LOVED on Wednesday, so stay tuned!

I'll leave you with a recap of my Instagram Story from the night...

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was agonizing over what to get my mom for Mother's Day. It had to be the perfect gift; something to say "thank you for loving me all these years and for putting up with my crap from time to time!" Would it be flowers? A dessert of some kind? Jewelry?

Then, somehow, time fast-forwarded and now I'm the mama. I get to kiss and squeeze and hug my little boy for Mother's Day. And even though he's too young to say "thank you" or "I love you," I can feel it in every grab of my face, every nighttime snuggle, every slobbery kiss. I feel it when he's excited to see me when he wakes up for a nap. I can feel it when I hear his disgruntled "Mamamamamamama" when he's upset about something and he expects me to make it better. 

When he roams around the house and wants me to chase him, or he laughs at me while I dance around like a fool, I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose me to be his mama. I'm entrusted with his care and keeping for such a little while in the grand scheme of things, and I really do try to cherish every moment. 

I never understood the depth of a mother's love until I became one myself. I love that little boy more than my own life, more than anything. I get to see him learn, and grow, and change everyday. I get to witness his blossoming, and I just can't believe that I have the privilege of doing so. 

Some days (and nights) are hard. Sometimes he won't take a bottle. Sometimes, he thrashes around like a maniac because, in that moment, he detests getting his diaper changed. Sometimes, he throws his pacifier on the floor and laughs because he knows that I have to pick it up. 

But I wouldn't even trade those hard, impossible moments. They are far outweighed by the good moments and make them even that much sweeter. 

So here's to all the mamas out there! Let us love our littles as best we can, and then some. Let us teach them to be kind, loving human beings who treat others with respect. Let us show them the beauty and good in life, because they'll get the bad from everywhere else soon enough. 

And let's remind ourselves that there are no ways to be a perfect mom, but many ways to be a really good one.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.