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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How Do You Know If He's "The One?"

How Do You Know If He's "The One?"

Justin and I had been online acquaintances for I would say three or four months that first day I drove to Grant Turnaround at the United States Military Academy to pick him up one evening. It was a drab, March evening and I was really anxious. It was a Friday and I had just sped home from work and back to change my clothes for our "date". I say "date" because I honestly had no idea at the time whether or not it was a date. Meeting up with someone I had met online, let alone a guy isn't something I had ever done before. I remember my heart pounding as I pulled into the turnaround, nothing but granite and concrete and gray surrounding me. 

My anxiety was running amok because I hated doing anything that required even the least bit of extroversion and I was exhausted from a long week at work. I had only been working in New York for three or four months at that point and was still adjusting. Moving so far away from all of my friends and family and trying to make friends as an adult was proving to be difficult for me because of my anxiety. It only seemed natural then that I would turn to Tinder, holed up in my dark apartment with the dogs, and swipe right or left to pass the time. 

I don't really remember my first reaction to seeing Justin's picture pop up on my Tinder as I was swiping late one night in December, just a few weeks after moving to New York, but there are two things I distinctly remember about his profile that intrigued me. The first was his smile and the second was the background of his profile picture. It was a beautiful overview of the West Point baseball diamond that I would find out later was taken from the balcony of the library. I swiped right. 

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Instagram Worthy Inspirational Quotes to Get you Through a Bad Week

Instagram Worthy Inspirational Quotes to Get you Through a Bad Week

I have been absolutely living for inspirational quotes lately. Maybe it's because I've hit a bit of a slump or it could just be that I love using them in my new bullet journal but I've been searching for them a ton on Pinterest over the past few weeks. I figured what better way to kick of a Monday (a particularly rainy and yucky one here in New York) than with a post filled with nothing more than some pretty quotes for you to save, share, tweet, Instagram, etc. to your heart's content!

I rounded up a few of my absolute favorite inspirational quotes that I've been super loving recently and made them into pretty, square sized images for you to use. Buy them, sell them, trade them with your friends. I'm just kidding, that was a bad joke one of my coworkers always says.... anyways, there is power in a good motivational quote so I hope you find these inspiring quotes a good start to your week. If you decide to share them on Instagram or Twitter, tag me @darrianmduck and/or use the hashatag #AMCoffeeCollective so that I can see all of your amazing inspirational posts to help me through this Monday!

Here's hoping this week isn't as "Monday" of a week as last week was.

PS: If you caught my last edition of SMC, #AMCoffeeCollective is going to be the hashtag we use to share our Saturday Morning Coffee posts, however you chose to create one. Whether it's a blog post, Instagram post, or a little chat in your Instastories. I can't wait to be able to see all of our community using this hashtag!

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Saturday Morning Coffee #19 - ROOLEE Boutique, Launching a Teespring Campaign, and more!

Saturday Morning Coffee #19 - ROOLEE Boutique, Launching a Teespring Campaign, and more!

This past week has seriously tested my patience. Before I go on, let me be frank. I'm probably one of the least patient people you will ever meet. I get annoyed and frustrated very easily, especially when I feel threatened or things aren't necessarily going my way.  This week was one of those weeks where it felt like every day was another Monday. Usually, I'm not one of those people who thinks Monday's are the absolute worst but this week was out of the ordinary in terms of Monday-ness.

But that's not to say that there weren't good things that happened this past week or that I didn't experience any enjoyable moments at all. That's why I decided to use a quote for this week's cover image instead of a random picture from the week like I typically do. I started working with someone on the rebranding of the blog and designing a logo which is SUPER exciting. I got to go to ShakeShack and spend time with my fiance just loving on each other and going on a date like we had just started dating, and I won a lottery for tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child next Wednesday in NYC! So if there's one thing you take from this post today, let it be the quote I've featured because I truly believe in praising God for each day, regardless of how "Monday" it feels. 

I also had a wild thought while writing this post so I wanted to include it and see if there was any interest: what if we made Saturday Morning Coffee a hashtag/blog link up? Let me explain, one of the goals I'm really striving for as this blog grows and changes is cultivating that community aspect of it. I would love to see you guys use Saturday Morning Coffee on your own blogs and Instagram and then we could all share and read each other's posts, almost as if we were all gathered around a table with our coffees and just chatting about our weeks! Maybe this is a crazy idea but if it is something Y'all would be interested in, let me know in the comments! 

Now let's get to edition #19 of Saturday Morning Coffee!

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#AskDar - Gender Equality, Love at First Sight, + More!

#AskDar - Gender Equality, Love at First Sight, + More!

It's time for another round of #AskDar and if your first thought is, "ALREADY?" then congrats, we're in the same boat! I try to do one of these Q + A posts each month as long as you guys enjoy them and submit questions so real quick before we get started a huge thank you to everyone who has submitted questions so far for one of these posts. A small reminder that you can submit a question for an #AskDar post anytime by filling out this form right here!

I am always so impressed by the questions you guys come up with because they sometimes catch me really off guard. Other times they require me to really sit down and think about my answers which I absolutely love to do.  I hope you find these posts as insightful and enjoyable as I do! 

With that, let's get right on into this month's round of #AskDar!

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5 Wedding Traditions We're Ditching in 2018

5 Wedding Traditions We're Ditching in 2018

Ah, wedding traditions. From white dresses to bridesmaid protocol, weddings are steeped in tradition. While some wedding traditions are alright, other wedding traditions can leave us questioning, "why is that a thing?".  Even if you consider yourself a more traditional bride I'm betting there's at least one thing on this list we can all get behind ditching as a wedding tradition in 2018.

I would say that our wedding, while keeping some traditional aspects such as having my father walk me down the aisle, is a bit more of a celebration of our relationship than just having a traditional wedding. Here are 5 wedding traditions we're ditching in our 2018 wedding!

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Saturday Morning Coffee #18 - Unfollowing People on Instagram, Mom Jeans, + More!

Saturday Morning Coffee #18 - Unfollowing People on Instagram, Mom Jeans, + More!

Well well well, fancy seeing Y'all here! Welcome back to another Saturday Morning Coffee post! This is #18 (obviously by the title) and I'm so happy you're here! If you're new, you can check out previous SMC posts by clicking here. Basically, Saturday Morning Coffee is exactly what it sounds like. I sit down with a cup of coffee (or two but who's counting) and talk about things I loved/did/experienced/etc. the previous week! These posts are my absolute favorite to write each week because I really feel like I'm inviting you right to my table and gabbing about my week with my closest friends! So grab your coffee (or other beverage of choice) and come on in! 

I'm not going to lie that the past week has been a huge struggle for me. The weather here in New York has felt anything but spring-like. I mean, it even snowed Friday morning! What. The. Crap. I've just felt in such a funk because of the weather and I really think it showed in my blog posts and especially on my Instagram this week. Luckily, the sun came out for a bit on Thursday (I stayed home from work to give myself a mental health day) and Friday so I was able to have my fiance take some cute pictures for the coming week. 

Anyways, I hope that spring has finally sprung in your neck of the woods because we're still waiting for it here. More to follow on if it actually shows up or not. In other news, my birthday is literally 20 days away! How crazy is that? I can't believe the first week of April is gone. We have so much wedding planning stuff to do and traveling coming up and not to mention packing the entire apartment that I'm starting to get a little overwhelmed. 

With all of that being said, let's get into the post for this week. Grab your coffee and we'll get started!

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Eyelash Extensions Tips, My Experience, + Photos

Eyelash Extensions Tips, My Experience, + Photos

Well y'all this blog post was HIGHLY requested way back last month when I got my eyelash extensions. Eyelash extensions have been blowing up lately and it seems every YouTuber, Blogger, and social media starlet is using them. With a wedding coming up (literally next month which is THE weirdest thing to say), I wanted to give eyelash extensions a try. Now, I didn't even start wearing false eyelashes until this past year and while I don't mind wearing false eyelashes, I think we can all agree that wearing false eyelashes can be a pain in the butt.

After my wedding makeup trial I knew I wanted to give lash extensions a try since it was something my MUA could do. We have so many events leading up to the wedding that I didn't want to deal with having to put false eyelashes on every day for a week! So I gave eyelash extensions a try and thus this post, your complete guide to eyelash extensions, was born.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on eyelash extensions, contacts, etc. Everything in this post related to eyelash extension tips are based on my experience with them over the course of the last month. I've included a ton of eyelash extension before and after pics for you guys as well so you can get an idea of what exactly you're paying for! All in all, I think that eyelash extensions are worth the money but let's get into the full post!

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Top Tips for Your Wedding Registry

Top Tips for Your Wedding Registry

You guys! One of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process is planning out your wedding registry. Not because you get a bunch of gifts, that's not what the wedding is about! No, doing our wedding registry has been exciting to me because we've finally begun to envision our life together. Every time we put something on our wedding registry or opened a gift for our bridal shower, I could see using that item for years and years to come.

I can't believe I've done a wedding post each week for nearly a year and have yet to talk about how to do your wedding registry! I'll be honest, I didn't do THAT much research prior to doing our wedding registries. We kind of just jumped right in but we definitely made some mistakes. That's why I'm bringing you my top tips for your wedding registry in this post!

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I Found My Summer Bucket List from 2012...

I Found My Summer Bucket List from 2012...

I have moved so many times since 2010 that it amazes me what I've kept over the years. Justin and I made the trek to West Virginia/Maryland this past weekend and when we came back with three boxes of wedding stuff, I knew it was time to clear out some boxes that had been left over from switching jobs. At least, I thought that's what they were from. What we actually found was a random mix of stuff I've saved over the years. Notebooks and unused photo albums, birthday cards from friends, and the star of today's blog post: a summer bucket list from 2012. 

The minute I saw the bucket list, I knew that I had to share it with you guys. As I'm typing this, I have no idea what I'm calling this thing, let alone what this blog post about a completely random summer bucket list would even be. Just now, it's hit me that I wrote this bucket list nearly six years ago. SIX! 

Here are a few random facts about myself in 2012: 

I was 20 years old

I was finishing my sophomore year of college at West Virginia University

I was living in my first apartment 

I started my first Instagram

I saw Ed Sheeran for the first time

Just to give you a little context into the mind of a 20-year-old college girl in 2012. Looking back, 2012 was probably one of the best years of my life. There is a lot of stuff I have never been open about outside of my friend group and I hope to dive into that all a little bit in this post. 

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March Favorites (2018) - Blogger Monthly Favorites!

March Favorites (2018) - Blogger Monthly Favorites!

If you read the title and were confused by it, let me just say that this is not something I've done on the blog before. I typically reserve my favorites for a monthly YouTube video but if you follow me on YouTube then you know that I haven't been posting lately. YouTube videos take a ton of time and energy for me to put together and the filming and editing process can be quite tedious. So I've decided to take a step back from doing YouTube for now. The combination of writing four blog posts a week and producing one video on top of that (the videos are supposed to be a fun extra for you guys) has me worn thin. However, in a few months, once the wedding planning posts are pretty much done and we get moved, I may jump back into the YouTube realm. I plan on doing some vlogging over the next few months though! 

With that being said, I've transitioned my typical favorites video into a blog post for you all to enjoy! My March Favorites will be the first, though I may go back and transcribe the other two monthly favorites videos into monthly favorites blog posts for my January Favorites and February Favorites videos. You all seem to love my Saturday Morning Coffee posts because of how laid back they are so I hope you will also enjoy this March Favorites post just as much!

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2 Month Wedding Planning Update

2 Month Wedding Planning Update

You know what's scary? Looking back on last month's wedding planning update and thinking that 91 days was still a lot of time. Now we're down to the 60 mark and I'm beginning to panic. Not about the marriage part of course, just about the length of my to-do list in the next 60 days. 

I can already tell things are going to start getting crazy around here. Hopefully not too crazy but the to-do list is getting longer and longer as the wedding date approaches. I've been pretty hands off with wedding planning this month. I think I've just reached the point where I'm ready for the day to be here already.

One big thing I've noticed this month, though, is that I'm starting to get nervous. Not nervous about my actual marriage, no cold feet here. But nervous about the day in general. I assume that's normal so if you've gotten married recently, let me know.

Also, ICYMI: I'm doing a reader survey to get your take on the upcoming rebrand! CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY!

Now let's get on in to the wedding update!

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Authenticity and Blogging - A Letter to My Readers

Authenticity and Blogging - A Letter to My Readers

Warning: this post is not the post I had planned to write today. I had originally wanted to share more on my recent trip to Nashville with Y'all but I felt the need to get something off of my chest so here it is. On my last Saturday Morning Coffee post, I talked a little bit more about the upcoming rebrand of the blog and invited everyone to participate in a survey to help with the rebrand. I was so excited to get a feel for what Y'all would think because naturally, your opinions mean the world to me, especially as this blog continues to grow and change. The first response I received was not very nice. In fact, I will go as far to say that it was downright mean. The words used in this particular response were deliberate and chosen because the person knew it would strike a chord with me. Don't get me wrong, I welcome any kind of constructive criticism but this person wasn't even trying to sound like they were being constructive. I won't go too much into detail because it's not important but the part of their responses that really hurt me was this:

They attacked my authenticity. 

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Saturday Morning Coffee #17 - My New Tattoo, Rebranding, + More!

Saturday Morning Coffee #17 - My New Tattoo, Rebranding, + More!

Whew, buddy, it feels like it's been a while since our last Saturday Morning Coffee sesh, hasn't it? I had every intention of having an SMC go up last Saturday when I was in Nashville but Friday night got the best of me... what can I say, I'm getting older and I just can't hang like I used to be able to in college. I hope you're just as excited for this SMC as I am because there are some pretty cool announcements/other things in today's post.

I hope you guys had a fantastic week this past week. I know mine had it's share of hits and misses but it was still a pretty good week, and I got a "snow" day without any snow. Don't you just love when stuff like that happens and you can actually do the errands you've been putting off? I know I do. 

Let's get into the things I actually loved this week and some pretty exciting things. Got your coffee ready?

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Everything I Wore in Nashville - Nashville Outfit Ideas

Everything I Wore in Nashville - Nashville Outfit Ideas

You know how everyone has those moments where you're defined by something you said? My outfits for Nashville were definitely defined by the line, "Thanks, it's from Target" because about 90% of my Nashville outfits included an item from Target. I mean, Target is just the best, right?

I was honestly so inspired by picking outfits for Nashville that there was no way I wasn't going to round all of my outfit ideas up and share them with you in a Nashville outfit ideas post. I'm definitely not a fashion blogger and a lot of these outfits were way outside of my comfort zone but somehow they all worked for Nashville outfits but also worked for my body shape and personal style.

If you remember this post about overhauling my wardrobe, I've been struggling to define my personal style, basically my entire life. I think what I packed for Nashville really helped me to see the bits of outfits that I love, from ruffle sleeves to oversized denim jackets. Hopefully I can translate these outfits from my Nashville bachelorette party into a wardrobe that will grow with me for years to come.

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Nashville Bachelorette Party Weekend - The Pros and Cons

Nashville Bachelorette Party Weekend - The Pros and Cons

You guys! How crazy is it that my Bachelorette Party has already come and gone? I'm freaking out that we now have less than 70 days until our wedding! I had so much fun this past weekend at my Nashville Bachelorette Party Weekend! I seriously have the best bridesmaids in the entire world because they all went above and beyond to make sure I had a good time. We had so much fun visiting Nashville so I hope you're ready for a ton of great Nashville themed content! 

Today's Nashville themed post is going to be the pros and cons of having a Bachelorette Party in Nashville. I figured that some of what we experienced would be more helpful in this format for the rest of my #BrideSquad out there who may be planning their own Nashville bachelorette party trip. I'll be bringing full posts on my Nashville outfits as well as everything we did while in Nashville so stay tuned for those posts which will be coming soon!

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How My Long Distance Friendships Have Prepared Me for Military Life

How My Long Distance Friendships Have Prepared Me for Military Life

If there's one thing you can mentally prepare for ahead of time when you're becoming a military spouse or reaching a big transitional moment in your life is the potential of moving. Moving away from your friends and family, from your college town or the street you've lived on your entire life can be scary, especially when you don't know whether or not your friendships and relationships will last. 

When I first left home it was after college because I went to a university right up the street from where I lived. I was terrified of leaving my parents let alone trying to figure out how to maintain long-distance friendships with my friends. I love sitting down and just free writing, because it's not something I get to do on the blog very often, but this post started as a post with advice about long-distance friendships and has evolved into something more. 

Long-distance relationships and friendships teach you a lot and I'm convinced that my experience with long-distance friendships since I graduated college and moved to New York have prepared me for military life. 

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