Making time is hard to do (but let's get over ourselves)

^I'm mainly talking to myself here. But really, we all need to get over ourselves sometimes.

I can't tell you how many times I've given the excuse to someone that "Gosh, I'm just so busy lately, I have no time to do anything!" especially when referring to my writing/why haven't I written anything in awhile. I label my writing, whether for HG or for my blog as "free time" work, but really, it means (and I need to remember this on a regular basis) much more to me than just a random on-the-side hobby. But when I get busy and things start to get a little nutso in life, I let it take a back seat and blame its short term nonexistence on my lack of available time.

Well, I've gotta get over that. Because if I'm being honest with myself, (and I know a lot of my peeps are in a similar situation) life is crazy 95% of the time, so I need to get over the fact that I don't have a lot of free time during my work weeks or weekends, because it's generally filled with fun things I want to be doing anyway! Plus, my writing is something I ENJOY and helps me feel fulfilled, so why not dedicate a few more hours to it instead of avoiding it?

Cue this week's writing: My latest HG article is about this very topic of being a "yes" person with an over-committed calendar, but why that's actually OK for me, right now. Living in this crazy stage of life, full of work, play and lots of YOLOing, is just where I want to be. And hey, if I can do it alongside a fun husband and great friends and family, why not? So do me a favor, and check that article out here.

And what's been personally keeping me busy lately? Well, since I've taken this few week hiatus of writing on here, a lot has been keeping me busy! But that's a normal thing, so today I'll focus on sharing a few new, fun places in this great city of Cincinnati that I've explored so far this spring. Below are a few of my faves as of lately, and I'm sure the list will continue to grow each week. 

I recommend them all, and recommend that you spend your next bit of free time exploring and doing something that makes you happy. At the end of the day, being busy is worth it if you're filling your free time with things you love and that make you a better, happier person. In the words of Molly and Kevin McKnight, go YOLO!

Xoxo,
Molly

Rhinegeist Rooftop Bar
If you live in Cincinnati, chances are you've been hearing people rave about the new rooftop bar at Rhinegeist. If you don't live in Cincinnati, let me tell you, it's pretty legit. Rhinegeist was one of the first big spots in Over-the-Rhine has continued to expand and become more legit by the day. So, if you're around town, the sun is shining and you want somewhere to go for a craft beer or cider, I suggest climbing the stairs to the rooftop.

FC Cincinnati
Another new thing around Cincinnati is our new United Soccer League professional soccer team. I went to a game with some coworkers and Kev and it was so cool! (It also rained the whole game, so if I'm saying it was cool, it must have been really cool.) Totally recommend going with a group of friends and hitting up a random Clifton bar pre or post game. Check their schedule here.

Dutch's, Hyde Park
This super cute little spot serves as a walk-up bar & bottle shop, deli and restaurant. The cutest part? The private back patio that sits behind the shop with fire pits and a bocce court. We stumbled upon the back patio one random weeknight before dinner and I can't wait to go back. (Also, apparently they have burger night on Thursdays with a limited supply of a burger special. You can find me there my next free Thursday!)

Oakley Pup Crawl
You guys! This was hilarious/amazing/scary/too good to pass up. If you know me, you know I'm not a dog person. But recently we've been hanging with Ella, the McKnight's dog, a lot so I'm trying to warm up to the whole dog idea. We had Ella the weekend of the Oakley Pup Crawl and WOW, it was crazy! People all over the city bring their dogs to our neighborhood of Oakley to bar hop (yes, like legit dogs in the bars), check out local vendors, take part in competitions and support local dog-focused charities. I literally was hanging out in OPG (Oakley Pub & Grill) with what seemed like a million dogs. It was hilarious, kind of terrifying (not a huge fan of loud, big, scary animals...) yet totally worth checking out. Mark it on your calendar for next year!

Cheers to two thriving years!

Two years ago this morning I got up at the crack of dawn and my mom and I hopped in the car and we were off to UC Medical Center for my journey to begin. Never did I think at the time that there was even a journey to be had. I thought I was going to have surgery, quietly recover and in a few weeks I'd be back to work and life without much else involved. 

Since then, I so fortunately gained a voice in the community, have been given so, so many awesome opportunities to share my story and my life has evolved in such a positive way I can barely put it into words. 

There are so many people I want to thank - for being my supporters and my fighters and my sense of peace when I have a random freakout moment (it happens). I could never say thank you enough or find words for all of you, but I'll try my best:

Thank you to my advocates - my supporters who may be friends, coworkers, friends of our families, long-distance followers to my story, my doctors and BFFs within the UC Medical Center circle and so many more. I continually am amazed at the kind words I receive and motivational pushes that keep me going. I owe so much to all of you! Please know that I appreciate your support every single day. Each and every text, email, call, Sametime makes me remember why I'm doing what I'm doing, and I can continue my mission and work because of you guys.

Thank you to my incredible friends - my high school best friends who have literally been with me longer than I have memory, and that know me better than I know myself. Clearly I haven't always been easy to deal with, but thank you for always being my besties, and continuing our philosophy of being (responsibly) on the loose, always. Thank you to my Bobcat girlfriends - who keep the (crazy) spirit of OU alive every time we get together. We may not be back in the promise land of Athens very often, but I look forward to every time we're together and can laugh about the stupid things we did and friendships we gained back in the days on the bricks. And thank you to my Cincinnati friends - who I am seriously blessed beyond measure that Kev brought you all into my life. I may hate on the excessive amount of Turpin inside jokes, but I'll be an honorary THS alum for the rest of my life if it means I get all of you to stay in mine. 

Thank you to my families - To my mom who is my #1 fan in everything I do. You may have to be because you're my mom, but I appreciate it always and wouldn't be who or where I am today without you pushing me. Between you graciously helping with every little thing I need in life, and Mark willingly hanging every frame, mirror and shelf in our house, I'm confident Kevin and I will survive our first year of homeownership. To Jenny & Liv - for keeping me laughing at all times in life, supporting me 100% and for knowing how retail therapy can sometimes be the only thing to stop tears (cue Easter 2 years ago, sometimes you need a new purse to feel better. Lol!) In all seriousness, I think Dad would be so proud of each of his three girls. And to my new extended in-laws family - I lucked out big time with you guys and I'm so fortunate to have another family who is the epitome of work hard, play hard, love hard.

And to my sweet, sweet Kev - how do I even put into words how much I appreciate you? The reason I was able to go through all of this - the ups, downs and in-betweens - and still feel beautiful after every day, is because of you. I look forward to so many more years of YOLOing and making an adventure out of every opportunity we have. God blessed me big time by crossing our paths in little Athens, Ohio, over a shared love of Ninja Turtle shots at the Crystal and belting out tunes on long car rides. And p.s., most importantly, thanks for dealing with my craziness on a daily basis. You, my dear, are a saint.

So join me in a virtual cheers today! The last two years have been scary, exciting and filled with a whole lot of thriving. And the best part? The journey is nowhere near the end, and there is so much more to come.

Thanks for reading and supporting me and just being part of my crew. This one's to all of you!

Xoxo,
Molly

Giving up would have been so easy

Two years ago this month, I had my first surgery. What you may not know, or not remember now that you've been (so graciously) listening to it for so long, is that at that time, it wasn't this hugely known "thing" I was doing. I hadn't begun shouting it from the rooftops or writing about it or really telling people outside of my circle. It was still scary and unknown and kind of embarrassing.

And then something happened. Somewhere between recovering, being surrounded by so much love and support and getting my life back together, I found my "thing." I found this emotional, empowering platform to stand on and be a voice for other young women that have a strong family history or maybe even have a BRCA mutation, too. I re-found my love for writing and started to feel like what I did and my courage to speak up about it could really be impactful to the lives of so many, rather than just myself.

But it wasn't always easy. Now two years later, it's obviously much more fun to remember all the cool people I've met and experiences I've been able to be a part of, but that wasn't all of it. There were times where I was worried about my scars, literally and figuratively, re-appearing and not always being able to be this extremely positive "you go girl" type person.

I was thinking about this little rut I almost allowed myself to get in, as I was re-reading some of my old blog posts. It really is an energizing thing for me to go back and revisit old stories and posts and times in my life. It's so easy to keep looking ahead, but so much happened, and I'm glad I have a lot of it literally archived.

I wrote a post about the fear of losing my identity, back in January 2015. And as I was reading this one, it kind of made me a little sad. I clearly was having a bit of a hard time adjusting to who I was becoming and where I had been and where I should go next. It wasn't until now, 15 months later, that I'm looking back and thinking, "Wow. I could have so easily just let this go." Of course I ended that blog post on a positive note, keeping that "you go, girl" attitude I so strive to make consistent, but clearly it wasn't enough. 

It wasn't until six months after that downer of a post that I came back to The Molly Effect. Yes, I had bachelorette parties and home-buying and a wedding keeping me busy during then, but I chose to stay away from here. And I know it was out of fear of the unknown. And maybe a little awkwardness. It was hard to get back to writing when I didn't know where I was going or what I was going to do next. And to be honest. I don't really know when the switch flipped. But it did.

What I'm trying to get at here is that it would have been so easy to say, you know, I did this "thing" and made this impact and now I'm ready to stop working at it. That would have been so easy and I don't think anyone would have blamed me. But that would have been so, so lame. Little did I know back then that my story was just beginning, and that I had the ability to determine the next chapters ahead.

I'm not anywhere near the ending of my story, but I know I'm glad I kept it going. 

Nearly two years later, I'm finding more ways to make a difference, more ways to share my story and more courage to keep it going.

If you're in a place right now where you feel like giving up or calling it quits just because you can't see where you'll go next or how you're going to get there, I'm going to tell you to hold on. Your best, most compelling chapters of your story could still be ahead, even if they're unclear or not quite ready to be written. I'm telling you this because I'm glad I had people telling me the same thing, and encouraging me to not be done just yet.

And to all my advocates out there, thanks for keeping me afloat and continually empowering me to find my next "thing," and also to keep this one going. I'm so grateful for all that's happened in the last two years, and am excited that soon I'll have even more new pieces of my story to share with you here (fun projects in the works!) Until then, I'll just keep jogging down memory lane, brainstorming and daydreaming my next few chapters (and blog posts). 

Hang in there. I'm so glad I did.  Xoxo,
Molly

It's about 35 degrees this morning in Cincinnati, so let's also flashback to much warmer (and the happiest!!) times in Jamaica on our honeymoon last June. Cheers to spring weather hopefully arriving soon!

It's about 35 degrees this morning in Cincinnati, so let's also flashback to much warmer (and the happiest!!) times in Jamaica on our honeymoon last June. Cheers to spring weather hopefully arriving soon!

Let's all be brave

I'll start today by saying I'm genuinely proud of myself and my friend Lauren, who after months (maybe even years?) of us talking about wanting to do a girlfriend bible study, we actually, finally made it happen. On our own. In full disclosure, we had no idea what we were doing and pretty much played the whole thing by ear. But we did it and we made it all the way through a book, and somehow convinced two of our friends to join us (and they kept coming back each week).

We may not have realized it then, but that was brave.

We had weekly get togethers and discussions and lots of chardonnay. We read through a book that forced all of us to think and act outside our comfort zones, and the best part is that we did it together.

And that was brave, too.

Our last "meeting" lasted four hours, mostly in part because we ate, drank and girl-talked all while discussing the last chapters and the end of this new "thing" we embarked on and completed. And after discussion was over and done for the last time, we decided to keep going. To look up places in our community to serve together and to meet again soon to find the next book we can dive into, maybe this time with a little more confidence that we know what we're doing.

And that is definitely brave.

As we were ending this (quite literal) chapter, we went around and talked individually about what we got out of this book and our time together, and I think this was the coolest thing we did throughout the five week adventure. Naturally, I grabbed my laptop and between sips of wine and bites of cookies, frantically started typing because I knew this was going to be too good not to capture.

And these are my brave, brave friends - what they learned from this book about themselves, their relationship with their faith and where they want to go from here. I am so, so proud to call these girls my girlfriends. If there were ever a reason to be persuaded to read a book, I think this would be it. Enjoy! Xoxo.

"I remember all the moments that spoke to me. I'm like, 'I get it now. And where could I apply this to my life?' It never once felt like I was being lectured, but I appreciated that I knew then in that instance that it meant something to me and how I needed to apply it to my life."

"This brought out defining moments of my life and how I want to make myself better and continue to put myself out there. Now I value myself more and look at things differently."

"Now I'm able to step back and think about being brave, and having a consciousness of it - opportunities to be brave and having the self awareness that we're capable of it and are capable of so many more brave things. We want them so bad now and are excited for it. Having that excitement, having a whole new feeling about how we live our life and a new meaning to it. Even every day things we don't think twice about but could impact someone else and impact you more than you know it."

"I'm learning we don't have to do this amazing thing to be brave or to change someone's life, but the little things we do can make such a difference to someone and to us."

"I've found myself a lot more vulnerable thinking about the person I want to be and what I need. I'm allowing myself to be the person I want to be - and that's really vulnerable."

"It makes me want to be a better person, a better wife, a better friend, a better coworker."

Note: The book we read is called Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs. It's a non-fiction, essay driven book that is way more than a bunch of bible verses. It's real life stories that are relatable, funny and encourage you to be brave in all aspects of your life. You can purchase it on Amazon with the link below. Do yourself a favor and check it out. I promise it's a worthy one.

**Special, special shout-out to my friend Annie Jagoditz who took these awesome photos. You, my friend, are amazing.

 

 

I dare you to move

Do you ever have those instances in life where you just know you were meant to say something, do something, be something? This comes from one of those moments. Where I quickly grab my phone and jot down lines that come to my head, because I know I need to write about them later. (Thank God for the iPhone Notes app that contains so many random thoughts from my brain, and that my girlfriends don't judge when I sprint to grab my phone mid-conversation when I have one of these moments).

It doesn't seem adequate that I can truthfully tell you that I can sum up the best experience of my life in just one song, from one summer, that was TWELVE years ago. What?! How 2004 was 12 years ago truly blows my freaking mind. But I can, and I will. So today, I dare you to move.

John's Island, South Carolina, Summer of 2004

Up until this point in my beginning of high school life, I had been on various mission trips since seventh grade. I was familiar enough, but it was still an adventure of its own each year. I was a freshman in high school, surrounded by older classmates, that I looked up to more than I realized at the time.

We were in the heart of low country South Carolina. An area so close to Ohioan vacation spot Hilton Head Island, that you almost can't believe how impoverished this beautiful (and extremely hot) area actually is. But here we were. For a week, divided up into groups, set to serve in the community. I found myself in a group of somewhat strangers and acquaintances. But to sum up the absolute most impactful week of my entire life: I found my faith, in the heat of the South Carolina sun, through the friends that were next to me day in and day out and through the guidance of the God-driven leaders who took us on this path to serving others and to Christ. God bless this mission trip and the people who were with me, because I know for certain it has shaped me into who I am this very moment, 12 years later.

I will absolutely admit that mission trips are almost as stereotypical as they're sometimes portrayed. Yes, we spend the days serving (building houses, playing with kids, eating packed lunches). Yes, we spend the evenings planning and participating in worship. And yes, we end up becoming best friends with strangers and becoming, quite literally, obsessed with the trips and with each other. It's kind of just how it is, and I'm thankful for it.

On this trip, I was blessed with, what I will still defend as, the best group ever. We became best friends. We learned about each other. We were open and honest about things we normally didn't speak about. We found our faith through one another. It truly was as beautiful as it sounds (and a fun fact, two of those members are now married, after meeting on this very trip, this very week that I still think about. God moments, am I right?!)

And through this incredible group, we found a message to share. Around this time in the early 2000s, Switchfoot was killing the Christian rock scene (aren't they still?!) so it was natural we were drawn to the contagious song, "I Dare You to Move."

And I'm going to tell you, and I truly mean it. This song changed my life. Maybe not just the song, but the people who were around me when I became obsessed with it, and the people who I still think about this day when I hear it. During this week of mission, I was dared to step out of my comfort zone and dared to find who I am and who I wanted to be. Dared to use power tools and not kill myself or anyone within wood-yielding distance from me. Dared to pray openly in front of others, and to encourage others to do the same. Quite frankly, dared to live in a church in the middle of nowhere and use outdoor showers for a week (yes, these are real, and yes, they were one of the best and funniest parts of the trip).

We found love, we found God, we found best friendships. I'm not sure everyone will understand this feeling. I'm not sure you'll understand the nostalgia that I feel to this day, just thinking about this time. But maybe that's the point. Maybe it's up to people like me to spread that feeling, to make you want to know what that gratitude and accomplishment and pure love feels like. To want to serve others, to serve your community.

Being dared to step outside your comfort zone is not easy. It wasn't then and it still isn't now. The difference is, I know it's possible. And most of the time, it's what I know I'm meant to do. I know I'm meant to stop calling my book club/bible study just that, and have the confidence to tell anyone and everyone that yes, I'm in a bible study, and yes, we drink wine during it, and yes, a lot of times it's the highlight of my whole week. I want to be brave enough to have the courage to say that with confidence.

So I dare you. I dare you to move, just as I'm daring myself.

And so here I am, bringing myself back to the summer, southern heat of 2004. The naivety of being young and faithful and confident in who and where I was, in a time of life where confidence isn't always easy to come by. I'm daring myself so much it hurts. I'm daring to speak up about my bible studies, my faith, my relationships with others and with God.

Because, I hope that having courage, and having bravery, and having faith, will encourage you, too. No matter what your faith is and no matter what you believe in, I hope you can dare yourself to do so proudly. After all, aren't we meant to live for so much more than ourselves?

I promise to try, so hopefully you will, too. Let's do it together.

Xoxo,
Molly

When I'm gone, I hope they drink margaritas

When I think back to the year my dad passed away, I always remember how weird it felt, to be having someone so close being taken from me while I was still so young. Really, all of three of us, "dad's girls" were too young. As we keep getting older, I know it will become more and more common that we have people around us who lose loved ones. I guess at some point it becomes a fact of life. We get older and so do those we love.

It's been close to five years and it's still kind of weird. I'm not sure there will ever be a year where I start thinking I feel 100% back to normal. In reality, each year kind of gets harder. When you're young (and stupid,) you don't remember to thank your dad for everything he's given you or taught you or made possible for you. When you're older (and a tad wiser,) you think of all the things you wish you could have thanked him for, and even harder, you think of all the things and times and places you wish you could share with him in adult life.

There are a few things I remember vividly about my dad and they're what I make myself hold onto, close and really tight. They're those types of memories you want to have to tell your children. The ones that never get old and never get forgotten. The ones that make you miss someone so much it hurts, but still make you smile.

This time of year, those memories are around margaritas. My dad's birthday is tomorrow, March 12. Looking back on the years I had with him, my dad-birthday memories revolved around Mexican restaurants. He loved Mexican food. Like really loved it. Loved making guacamole and homemade margaritas at home, loved the real-deal authentic hole in the wall restaurants we'd stumble upon on vacations and even loved the cheap chips and salsa type Mexican restaurants (as long as they'd bring him special "extra hot" salsa from the back).

These are the type of memories I keep in a special place tucked in my brain, and in my heart. I'm sure there were years we did something different, tried something new, but I remember the Mexican dinners and margaritas. And yes, I know for most of my birthdays spent with him, I was participating in the celebrations with virgin strawberry daiquiris topped with loads of whip cream. I even keep the memory of forcefully putting a big sombrero on his head while singing "Happy Birthday" so we could get a quick, embarrassing Polaroid picture as a souvenir. So in March each year, I remember him, the margaritas and really good family time together.

My dad and margaritas go together in more ways than birthday memories. Now that I'm older and also enjoy a killer margarita, it's like my "dad thing." My thing that I feel like I share with him. A thing I can use to celebrate his birthday, his life, his memory. Margaritas in their best form are simple: water, sugar, limes, orange liqueur and lots of good tequila. Maybe it's weird that in 22 years of him giving me life lessons, the one I keep top of mind is a margarita recipe. But aren't the simple life lessons sometimes the best?

I believe I'm strong enough in my faith to know my dad is peacefully in Heaven, drinking the best margaritas he's ever had. But I also believe he's proudly watching us down here on Earth getting by, with the help of a margarita every now and then.

So cheers to you, Dad. Thanks for giving us a fantastic reason to drink margaritas and eat chips and guacamole in your memory each year.

Your favorite line to me was always, "Make good choices." I hope you know I'm trying my best to honor that ask. And whenever I'm offered, I choose the good margarita, with the good tequila.

Xoxo,
Molly

Funky Friday

Ever have those days or weeks where you find yourself just in a funk? Whether it's stress or exhaustion or sometimes you don't even know why you're just feeling kind of... off. Been there, done that. I get so mad when I allow myself to get in one of these funks, and ruin a beautiful God-given day, just to be in a sour mood. I know deep down it's not worth it, and whatever is bothering me will be A-okay sooner than later (most of the time), but for some reason, it's so hard to remember that logic when you're down the deep, dark hole of your bad mood.

So today I'm going to focus (and want you to focus, too) on shaking that funk and celebrating the wonderfulness of TGIF, and everything in life we have to be grateful for. And I'll start by telling you how I thought of this topic (aside from being in a weird mood one day this week):

I recently started participating in a little small group book club/bible study with a few close girlfriends. Super casual, super play-it-by-ear, we don't really know what we're doing, but we're going to try, type of thing. It's turning out to be incredible. And I want to talk in length about it, and the awesome book, once we finish, but for now, I'll tell you how it helped me get over myself and crawl out of a funk.

We met this week on Wednesday night in pretty much the best type of circumstance possible: pizza, wine and girl talk. So in all fairness, I should have seen it coming a mile away that I'd leave this type of evening in a kick-ass mood. And as a little teaser, the book we're reading is called Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs. I haven't even finished it and I already 100% recommend it if you're a) a young woman, b) need some motivation and positivtity in your life and c) want to find a way to work your faith into all you do, and want to do in life. It's pretty fantastic.

One of the chapters we read this week was called "Your People." Think: Meredith & Christina, Grey's Anatomy. We all have "our people" in life, helping us get where we need to be, and also depending on us to help them, too. My favorite excerpt:

"But how to find them — the people who will stand with you and hold up your arms or cover your mouth when you should shut up — seems to be the challenge. The people are easier to identify than you may realize — you just follow your path and look around, because the brave ones? They are the ones parallel to you. They are your people."

Isn't that so true? Our people are beside us, all the time. And isn't that cool to think about? We're never alone. And here I am, in a stressed out mood coming into the night, and now remembering how silly that is, because I have these great people all around me to lift me up, even when it's unexpectedly happening over wine and pizza on a Wednesday night. God moment right there.

So point being, it was during this casual, but meaningful get-together and conversation with these girlfriends, that I truly stepped myself back down to earth and remembered that my life really is so good and I'm so fortunate to have great people (especially girlfriends!) as a part of it.

So anywho, thank GOODNESS for fun evenings and motivational books to get a girl out of a funk and back into a "you go girl" type mentality. I hope you all step into the weekend, free of any "funk," and ready to celebrate this beautiful life. You deserve it!

Xoxo,
Molly


tbt: The day I wore my wedding dress to RP's

^Because, #yolo.

I can, without a doubt, 100%, tell you that my wedding day was the best day of my life. I enjoyed every minute - beaming with happiness, laughing, crying and genuinely just loving life. As I just recently (yes, I got married close to 9 months ago) finally ordered my wedding album, it made me take another deep-dive into all the awesome photos we got of our big day.

I've yet to share many day-of pics on here, so I thought why not bring back a little #tbt, while sharing some of the best/funniest/most non-traditional perfect moments of our wedding day, through pics. Because one of the best parts of all the photos you get is that you get to relive your big day and remember what made it so unique and perfect to you.

Plus, to all my wedding planning friends, here's my word of advice when it comes to wedding pics: Do you. Your day is just that, yours. So smile when you want to, cry when you want to and perfect the "skinny arm" if you want to. You're the one that matters and everyone else will smile along :)

1. It's inevitable. Some of the wedding poses, especially the solo shots, are going to be a little awkward. But trusting your photographer makes for some pretty cool shots - even if you're awkwardly giggling the whole time.

2. A friend of mine gave me some wedding photos advice one day in passing, to make sure you strike a pose during your recessional down the aisle, post-ceremony. Somehow, someway, I remembered that bit of advice (or maybe I was just genuinely the happiest human alive at the moment) and we were able to capture this insanely happy moment on camera. I also didn't realize at the time but Kev's grandparents have a "recessional wall" in their home and they quickly printed and framed this bad boy. I love it!

3. Sometimes you just need to be casual and let your friends have some fun during the hours-long photo session. So by the guys throwing on their sunglasses for some shots, slamming some champagne on the bus in between destinations, we were having fun! And at the end of the day, that's all I wanted. To have continuous fun from start to finish. #success

4. My favorite non-traditional decision of the day? Let's all go to RP's (our favorite bar in Oakley close to our home) to have a drink and take some fun pics! It was one of my favorite parts of the afternoon. The chicks all had a Fireball shot and the guys got a Razz Wheat draft beer from our favorite Athens brewery. Really, perfection. So in 30 years when we're going through our wedding album, we'll remember when we used to YOLO around at our favorite bar, even on our wedding day.

5. I think when I thought of wedding photos pre-my own, I thought they were all going to be super formal and posed. Little did I know, some of the most fun ones to look back on to relive memories, are the candids that were sneakily captured.

6. The reception was the most fun part of the day! I looked around all night seeing my friends and family having fun, watched Kev put on a concert for everyone and now looking back at pictures, I feel like I'm living it all over again. It's the in-the-moment photos that really bring me back.

7. So at the end of the day, I remember the smiles and laughs on the best day of my life. I'll never, ever forget that kind of happiness - and luckily, will have the pictures to prove it.

P.S. Shout out to the incredibly sweet Mandy Paige who captured all these beauties. Xoxo!!

How Mike Posner is motivating me to be great & grateful

Remember recording artist Mike Posner? His hit single "Cooler Than Me" took over radio waves across the U.S. in 2010 and rocketed him from college student to fast international famedom. I personally remember Mike Posner as the party-loving celebrity that performed at Ohio University's 7 Fest (a day-long music, and lots of drinking, festival in the middle of nowhere, awesome town of Athens, Ohio). And anyone famous that chooses to perform at a number one party school, that I just happened to attend, is pretty legit in my book.

For reference, this is what my friends were doing during 7 Fest #OUOhyeah

For reference, this is what my friends were doing during 7 Fest #OUOhyeah

But fast forward six years and the once-famous, now kind of trying to be famous again, musician is shining light on the not-so-easy aspects of becoming famous and then losing it and then trying to make it back again.

Posner recently penned an essay on Medium.com to share with the world where he was the last few self-discovering years, and where he's going next. Through his very well-written essay (let's remember he was a student at Duke, so this should have been a given, but damn he's a good writer) he gives us some extremely deep life-lessons and reminders of how we can be our best selves in the world. Here's how he's helping me remember I can still kill it in life:

He reminds us that we get to choose our own identities.

Ever read things and your first response is, "Duh! Why didn't I say that first?!" This was one of them for me. I mean on the surface, duh, we all get to choose our own personal identities, but isn't that easier said than done sometimes? Posner reminds us that too often we box ourselves in with identities that others have given us, when we need to remember we can always reinvent who we are and who we want to be. Amen to that, Pose! I often get caught up in this. Forgetting not only do I choose my own path in life, but how I define myself and how I can be who I want to be in the world. This reminder is re-post worthy.

He reminds us that we're always learners

Even for a smash-hit, music writing performer, Posner admits he's still a learner. In the past few years, he learned piano, took voice lessons, enrolled in music classes. Remembering no matter how old or wise in life you are, that you can always still learn, is humbling, and rewarding. I find in life that it seems to be just when I think I've got it all figured out, that really I have so much still to learn. And the even cooler part of his learning journey? He did so while donating all of his clothes and driving across the country in a van, taking it all in. If that doesn't remind us all to de-clutter our lives and remember what's important in life, I don't know what would.

He reminds us that sometimes humility is what's needed for success

So what happened once Posner admitted a little celebrity defeat, sold his belongings and set out to explore and learn from the world and his music mentors? He got his second chance. As he puts, ironic, isn't it? So true. Through all that self-discovery and becoming more secure as a human and with himself, he was able to re-find his place in the music industry, get a record deal and (how cool does this sound?) have a remix of one of his new songs become a top hit in Denmark! He admits this newness in life is a bit unpredictable and can't we all take something from that? It reminds me a great lesson in life that can be hard to remember: sometimes you have to admit you're not the world's greatest, to become great.

Most of all, he reminds us that we can learn from ourselves

My favorite part of his essay is where he lists out all the crazily awesome things he learned throughout this whole discovery and reinventing of himself. He details his insanely busy schedule for his promotional tour through Europe, and at the end of the day, realizes that he is still happy, energized and above all grateful for what he was experiencing. Can't we all be reminded to be grateful through life's crazy times? He reminds us to love people, enjoy this ride of life and "none of this shit really matters." Right?! I know I need that reminder on a daily basis, but it's not often that I force myself to remember it. Thanks for keeping us all grounded, Mike. We could all be better people by following in your footsteps.

I highly encourage you to read Posner's full essay here. You won't be disappointed.

Moving forward because transitions are just #awkward

So here's the deal. I've been putting off a post like this for probably a few months now, and was nervous to get back to my blog, because I can be #awkward. Nothing's wrong, nothing's really changed, but I guess a lot has changed. So here I am, informing whomever may slightly care, about what's going on in my life and what's to come, in a blogging-sense.

1. My mission is still loud and clear: to give a voice to young women who find themselves in the high-risk spectrum of breast cancer, who may otherwise feel alone, scared or uneducated. I want to be your voice, your mentor and your educator (though I still have much more to learn myself). Nothing from that original mission of mine and of this blog has changed, and I want to make that very clear. That is still my priority, and I hope to continue making a difference at whatever capacity God chooses to give me.

Also, update: I may not be as upfront or outward (though that UC Health commercial still plays a million times a day at Fountain Square downtown - shout out to my downtown peeps who have to see my face way too much on there), but I've now taken an executive position on the Susan G. Komen Greater Cincinnati Affiliate's Board of Directors. I truly feel that I can continue making a difference in the lives of affected women in our community, and also in supporting the world's largest breast cancer organization in their goal to save lives and end breast cancer forever. I have so many topics I want to cover soon from things I have learned and observed by holding this position, and am excited I can use my writing to educate others, while using my Board placement to continue educating myself.

2. I'm writing about other "stuff" now, too. You guys, I am like the luckiest human alive that I randomly chose to submit an essay to HelloGiggles one day, and they actually liked it. I'm a huge fan of their site (I mean, it was founded by Zooey Deschenal, and you can't tell me you don't watch New Girl without immediately wanting to be her BFF, so I'm getting there...) so for me to have something published on there was like a j-school dream from college days past. I'm now a real "contributor" which basically means I have my own page, with a photo (so legit) and I can keep continuing to pitch them more content. I rarely am like all-time outwardly proud of myself, but this really made me feel like a badass. So whether it be about breast cancer high-risk or life in general, I'm going to try to keep up my work on their site as much as time allows.

3. Combo of the above: Long story short, I was afraid I couldn't do both. That I couldn't merge my original goals of this blog, with my newly remembered love for writing about all sorts of things. Well, that was not the brightest thought on my part, because I so can, especially with a little boost of confidence. Also, since this is the real world and not every article or essay I pitch to HG will be accepted, I'm going to begin posting some different articles to The Molly Effect. I think this will be a good way to a) not feel discouraged when something I spend time on isn't picked up for their site, and b) help me keep motivated to continue writing, whether or not its original intent was for this site or any other. Something's gotta keep me on my life-goal track to get on the Today Show.

As I said before, my overarching mission is still constant, but I'm also going to branch out and blog about other "lifestyle" topics, whether that be what I learned from planning a wedding this past year, to my awesome BFFs or my right-now best green smoothie recipe, it could definitely vary. If it's lame and I start getting hate mail that I suck all of a sudden, I'll listen. Til then, hopefully you'll enjoy (and go check out my HG articles here). Love you all!

Xoxo & TGIT!
Molly