A Letter to my Fiancé on his Graduation from West Point

A Letter to my Fiancé on his Graduation from West Point

This week has been a whirlwind. We've been so busy bouncing from event to event that I don't even know if it's hit you yet that you're graduating. But today is the long-awaited day. Today, the day you go from Cadet to "Old Grad" and join the Long Gray Line is finally here. Your path to this point hasn't always been easy. Heck, your first day here they didn't even know if you were going to parade because of the rain. But the clouds broke at the last minute and the sun shone brightly on you and your class. (I had to mention it, obviously, since no one else has yet). This moment on R-Day has defined your class. It's in your crest and everyone mentions it in their speeches, usually.  But it also defines who you have become. 

While I may not have been around for the beginning of your journey, over the last three years I have watched you grow and mature into the kind of leader that I strive to be. You are humble, kind, and the most honorable person I've ever met. I know that if called to do so you would gladly give up your life for that of the person on your right or left. You have weathered many a storm to get to this point and boy has the sun shone this week for the Class of 2018. 

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Memories from West Point

Memories from West Point

When Justin and I first met, he was in his second semester at West Point. Honestly, graduation didn't even cross my mind at the time, other than to remind me that it was nearly four years away at that point. As we were driving past West Point on Sunday, Justin said, "I honestly didn't ever think I would get to this point." 

It's so funny how we spend our time wishing and waiting for certain things. Graduation, wedding day, birthdays, etc. And then they come and BAM! They're gone in the blink of an eye. That's how I feel about the last three years. Today we're halfway through grad week at West Point already and I find myself grasping for memories to hold on to. 

That's why I wanted to write this "Memories from West Point" post. I'm a firm believer that West Point, as an experience, is going to be what you make of it. If you only focus on the bad times, the hard time, then you're not going to enjoy it. I would like to think that Justin and I took everything West Point threw at us and ran with it. We lived, we loved, we made amazing memories and friendships that will transcend time, states, even continents. 

Here's a look back at some of my favorite memories from West Point. 

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Saturday Morning Coffee #23 - Royal Wedding Edition

Saturday Morning Coffee #23 - Royal Wedding Edition

It's Saturday, May 19th and you know what that means! The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was this morning! I actually didn't think I would be able to watch it. That's the one thing no one ever tells you about becoming a cable cutter... it makes watching live events challenging. I actually didn't get to watch any of the 2018 Winter Olympics this year because I didn't have cable. Bummer, right? 

But thank goodness The Royal Family has their own verified YouTube channel. Did anyone else know that? Me either. So I was able to livestream the royal wedding this morning without even really meaning to! I got on YouTube to watch something else and realized I could watch the royal wedding. Definitely the highlight of this rainy Saturday so far. 

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All of the Best Tools for Blogging, Social Media, and YouTube - The Stuff I Actually Use!

All of the Best Tools for Blogging, Social Media, and YouTube - The Stuff I Actually Use!

Buckle up, y'all because this post is a long one. Some of you may read this and think I'm crazy for sharing my "secrets" but I believe in community over competition wholeheartedly which is why I don't have a problem sharing this stuff with the world. I want to take what I've struggled to learn through trial and error and share it with others who want to pursue crazy things like being a blogger or starting a YouTube channel.

So I rounded up literally every tools I use for blogging, social media, and YouTube! I'm going to keep this intro short because honestly I think this post speaks for itself. If there's anything you would like to see a full blog post about related to blogging, social media, or YouTube let me know!

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7 Ways I'm Preparing for a Military Marriage

7 Ways I'm Preparing for a Military Marriage

Something I get asked a lot as our engagement has progressed is "how are you preparing yourself for marriage?" To be honest, the thought never really crossed my mind in my single years, like it probably should have, but as our wedding date has drawn closer and closer, I've noticed that I've been focusing a lot more on not only preparing myself for marriage but for a military marriage as well.

When you google "preparing for marriage" a lot of Christian resources come up. While I wish I had been more intentional in my single years to prepare for marriage, I will not be focusing on that for the duration of this post. No, this advice on preparing for a military marriage is all based on what I've actively been doing over the course of our engagement.

Some of this is intentional and some of the stuff I've been doing to prepare for marriage has been done without me even realizing that marriage is the reason I was doing it. Regardless of whether I was actively preparing for a military marriage or not, I wanted to share some of the things I've noticed myself doing lately in the hopes that it will help guide you as well! Can you believe there are now less than two weeks until the wedding?!

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Saturday Morning Coffee #22 - Getting Our Marriage License, Vlogging Again, and More!

Saturday Morning Coffee #22 - Getting Our Marriage License, Vlogging Again, and More!

Saturday Morning Coffee #22 is coming at you right now! How seriously exciting is it that this is the 22nd SMC post? I feel like I get excited about each one of these but what can I say, they're my favorite posts of the week! I can't believe it is May 12th already. Today marks exactly two weeks until Justin graduates from West Point and also just over two weeks until our wedding day! We have been crazy busy with both graduation and wedding related things the last few weeks and even the moving process has been ramped up with the second week of May coming to a close.

This last week was definitely one of those weeks where I could tell that the last few days of our time here were winding down because everything that could go wrong, pretty much did. I got a parking ticket and spilled coffee all over myself at least twice (and again just as I was writing this), just to name a few things that happened this week. 

Now grab your hot beverage of choice and pull up a seat because here's SMC #22!

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Reader Recommendations - Farmhouse Decorating Inspiration on Instagram

Reader Recommendations - Farmhouse Decorating Inspiration on Instagram

I move in like a month. Wow. Naturally, instead of thinking about packing, I'm procrastinating by dreaming of how I'm going to decorate our future home(s). It probably comes as no surprise that I, like many many others, am obsessed with the Farmhouse style of decorating. There is just something so simplistic and naturally homey feeling that makes the Farmhouse style decor so appealing to me. Maybe it's because I basically grew up in a "farmhouse" (though it didn't look anything like JoJo's version) but I can't wait to fill our home with everything quintessentially farmhouse style. So I took to Instagram and asked for recommendations on where to find the best farmhouse style inspiration on Instagram and boy, did y'all deliver!

I absolutely knew when I saw how many different suggestions you had that I couldn't keep them all to myself so today I'm bringing you the very first ever Reader Recommendations post! I asked and y'all delivered with what have got to be the best farmhouse style Instagrams and I'm so excited to share all of the amazing farmhouse style inspiration with you today. Sit back, relax, and enjoy (and maybe have your Pinterest ready).

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8 of the Best Love Quotes for Brides

8 of the Best Love Quotes for Brides

Um, I get married in like three weeks. What? When did that happen? This past weekend Justin and I were talking about our vows (we're writing our own vows) and despite what I thought, he has been crushing it in the vow-writing department. Seriously, I think he's been working on them for like two months now and meanwhile, my thoughts are still a jumbled mess in a note on my iPhone. Cue the panic.

So I set out to gather some inspiration for writing my vows and figured that it just wouldn't be fair if I kept all of these amazing love quotes from my fellow bride gals. Y'all seem to love anytime I share quotes on here so I went ahead and whipped up these cute little sharable love quotes for brides. Feel free to share them, post them, use them in your bullet journal, etc.

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This is What Depression Looks Like - Mental Health Awareness Month

This is What Depression Looks Like - Mental Health Awareness Month

Did you know that an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States will experience at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime? With depression such a common almost fact of life for adults in the US, why is there still such a social stigma against mental health? My name is Darrian, I'm 26 years old, and this is what depression looks like.

If you scroll through my Instagram, you won't see many pictures where it "looks like I'm depressed". In fact, you'll probably see a lot of pictures of me smiling, looking like I'm out here in the world and living my best life. Because I am. But I also battle with depression each and every day. Some days, I wake up feeling like I'm ready to take on the world and other days, my biggest battle is just getting out of bed.

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Advice for College Graduates

Advice for College Graduates

When I graduated from college in 2014, I had no idea what the future was going to hold. I only knew three things.1). That I was moving to Washington, D.C. for a 4-month long internship, 2.) That singing Country Roads at graduation was going to be one of the hardest things I had ever done, and 3). I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So as I was scrolling through Facebook and Instagram this week, seeing all of the excitement around college graduation, I knew it was time to write down my advice for college graduates.  The people who were getting their acceptance letters to West Virginia University when I was graduating from WVU in 2014 will be walking across the stage in just a few short weeks and it's hard not to reflect on what I was feeling at that time.

Graduating from college is scary. It is the first time in perhaps our entire lives when the path is no longer laid out for us. Before college graduation, it's easy! You go to preschool, then kindergarten, eventually you get to middle and high school, etc. But once you walk across that stage and turn your tassel, everything changes. There is no longer a set path to take. In fact, the path you chose is yours and yours alone. Sure, you can listen to fuddy-duddies like me dishing out advice for college graduates all day but at the end of the day, it's all up to you now.

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Is Having Anxiety about Marriage Normal?

Is Having Anxiety about Marriage Normal?

Today's blog post is very much a free write so I'm sorry in advance if some of my thoughts don't make sense. When I sat down to write a wedding-related post for today, I had an entirely different vision of what this post would look like (ie: wedding gift guide for everyone). But when I found that I was struggling SO HARD to write anything at all, I knew that I was being called to share something different.

When was the last time you saw someone talk candidly on anxiety about getting married? If you're shaking your head and saying, "never" then we're in the same boat. I had to actually do a Google search for "having anxiety about getting married" (where I actually found this really great post from Stephanie May Wilson) before I had heard anyone talk about their anxieties about getting married.

Now, let me just say that my anxiety about marriage 100% has nothing to do with Justin. He is seriously the most amazing person I've ever met and I know without a doubt that he's "the one". But I've deemed this space a place for honest conversation and that's what we're having today, starting with some serious soul pouring from yours truly.

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April Favorites (2018) - Blogger Monthly Favorites!

April Favorites (2018) - Blogger Monthly Favorites!

Another month has come and gone and that means it's time to share some of my favorite things from April 2018! I love reading monthly favorites posts and videos from other content creators so I really hope you guys are liking that I've brought these posts to the blog lately. If you missed March's Monthly Favorites post you can check that out as well to see all of the things I was loving last month too!

April was kind of a blur and I'm running on 5 hours of sleep so that's why this post is a) late and b) it was kind of hard for me to come up with favorites. Ooops. I guess I should start keeping a running list of these favorites somewhere other than my head so I can knock these blogger favorites posts out when the time comes.

Along with the end of one month comes the beginning of another and you know what that means? Another round of #AskDar! If you want to submit a question to be answered in May's edition of my Ask Me Anything series then make sure you fill out this handy form right here and submit your question! The #AskDar posts are seriously some of my absolute favorites to do so please send me questions!

And with that, let's get right on into my favorites for the month of April 2018!

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Saturday Morning Coffee #21 - Jumpsuits, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, and More!

Saturday Morning Coffee #21 - Jumpsuits, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, and More!

I haven't had coffee yet as I'm writing this. It feels wrong, so very very wrong. Anyways, I hope y'all are having a great start to your weekend. I'm currently in Morgantown, WV aka my hometown and home to my beloved university. I had a dress fitting yesterday (and it was my birthday) so we've just been kicking back and relaxing with good food, friends, and some seriously great weather. 

It is so hard to believe that we're winding down another month. May is going to be such an exciting month for Justin and I that I am literally bursting with excitement (and anxiety). I've had some pretty amazing moments for April 2018 and I can't wait to share them more in detail in my April Favorites on Monday. 

But for now, grab your coffee (I'm still trying to get my hands on one) and pull up a seat at the table for SMC #21!

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26 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self at 26

26 Things I'd Tell My Younger Self at 26

Birthdays are weird for me. I can remember my last truly enjoyable one being my 21st birthday. This year, I've had a lot of feelings about turning 26. I am now much closer to 30 than I am 20 and that's definitely a weird feeling but it's also exciting. 26 is definitely going to be a big year for me because I'm getting married and moving potentially twice before my next birthday. There are so many unknown and exciting things that are going to occur in the next 365 days that it's hard not to be excited about this birthday. (I also get to spend it with my mom for the first time in probably 4 years so that's really fun). 

Last year, I did a YouTube video called 25 Things I've Learned in 25 years. I had so much creating that video that I thought I would do something similar for a blog post in honor of my birthday this year as well! Rather than do another post on the things I've learned, I figured I would switch gears a bit and give myself (and anyone else out there that needs this advice) a list of things I would tell my younger self. 

Thank you to everyone who has sent sweet messages and birthday wishes to me this morning! I hope you all enjoy my unfiltered advice to my younger self!

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One Month Wedding Planning Update

One Month Wedding Planning Update

Holy guacamole. There are currently 34 days until I get to marry the one. What the crap. When I started these wedding planning updates we still had ten months to go!!! Don't even bother me if I'm starting to freak out because the answer is yes. Mostly in an excited way though. Today when I sat down to write this (literally an hour prior to when it needed to be published... oops) I have such a sense of calm that is washing over me.

Don't get me wrong, we still have A LOT of wedding planning related stuff to take care of in this last month on top of Justin's graduation from West Point and our impending move to Georgia (which has just gotten pushed up pretty much an entire week but more on that in later blog posts) but the nervousness I talked about in last month's 2 month wedding planning update is virtually nonexistent at this point. I actually have an entire blog post ready to go on anxiety about getting married so keep an eye out for that one in the coming weeks. But today I'm going to revel in the peace I'm feeling about our wedding.

One final note, since this is pretty much the last real wedding planning update (holy crap) I am trying to think of a way to consolidate all of our wedding planning updates into something that is an easy reference for people to use. If you have any suggestions for anything related to wedding planning updates please let me know!

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An Honest Conversation about Being Comfortable in your Own Skin

An Honest Conversation about Being Comfortable in your Own Skin

Last week I got a message from a lovely reader and one of the things she said in her message really threw me for a loop. She told me that she was moved by seeing how secure I was within myself and wanted to work on getting there herself. I didn't know what to say at first because, honestly, I'm a ball of anxiety, insecurity, and self-depreciation most of the time. But as her words started to sink in and I realized that she had a point, I started to actually look at how I got to this place in my life, right now, where I am (most of the time) completely and utterly confident in myself and who I am as a person.

Somewhere between high school and 26, you stop caring about what other people think. `Never entirely, but it happens. I think a lot of my initial self-doubt and desire to conform to what everyone expects I should act like, talk like, dress like, etc. started as a desire to fit in when I moved to a new town but then got perverted by an intense desire to have people think I was normal. Looking back at my high school days (and cringing, very hard) I can see exactly where "the real me" ended and the face I put on for everyone else began. I had someone constantly whispering in my ear and telling me that I was wasn't good enough, that I was crazy, that no one ever actually likes me for me, etc. But he was also saying this kind of thing to anyone who would listen. If you can think it up, he probably said it. When you're 17 years old and trying to navigate high school while dealing with an emotionally abusive relationship, you just feel entirely lost and hopeless. So it's no wonder I lost my truest sense of self during those years of my life. 

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Saturday Morning Coffee #20 - Journaling, Celebrating My Birthday, and More!

Saturday Morning Coffee #20 - Journaling, Celebrating My Birthday, and More!

Well hello there! I hope you all had an amazing week. Mine was absolutely magical and if you don't know why, then... well, where have you been? This past week I was so blessed to be able to take a day off of work and head into NYC to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was absolutely blown away by the production. Anyways, I think I've raved enough about that now but it was definitely a nice little early birthday treat. 

Speaking of birthdays, literally, where has April gone? I'm sitting here writing this and my birthday is now less than a week away. What? I'm actually not ready for it to be May. Can time please slow down a bit? Thanks. 

Remember last week how I mentioned sharing your own SMC posts by using a hashtag or dropping a link in the comment section below? I'm so excited to make this a thing so make sure to use the hashtag #AMCoffeeCollective on Instagram so I can check out your wonderful editions of SMC! I'm literally so excited about this. 

Also, also! If you have any design ideas for the Teespring shop, please let me know! My goal is to have at least one other design out by the end of the month. Remember that 100% of the proceeds from the Teespring shop will go directly to supporting the new rebrand and blog that will be coming your way in July. EEK! 

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I'm Taking Back All the Negative Things I Said about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I'm Taking Back All the Negative Things I Said about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I can remember vividly the last time I stood in line, anxiously awaiting the debut of anything to do with Harry Potter. The year was 2011, I was 19, and the final chapter, Deathly Hallows Part Two, was about to premiere. My friends and I had just finished a 24 Hour Harry Potter Movie Marathon leading up to the midnight premiere and were dressed to the nines in our best Hogwarts gear. (And I had a Blackberry at the time so phone pictures were definitely sub-par...). I can remember the anticipation that lodged itself in the pit of my stomach until the lights went down and the opening music began.

Standing in line waiting for the doors of the Lyric Theatre in New York City to open up, I felt that same level of anticipation for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as I had with each of the midnight releases of the Harry Potter books and films. I was actually shocked that I was so excited to see it because, to probably no one's surprise, I hated the screenplay for Harry Potter in the Cursed Child. If you've been following me long enough on social media then you might even know that the very first YouTube video I ever filmed was a reaction to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child... which is a book that's made it into my DNF (did not finish) pile. 

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