Lets talk animal print

Animal print is 150% trending going into the fall season. Specially mid-length animal print skirts! You can wear it with a t-shirt tied, like I styled it below or you can get a fancy top and pair it with heels for work or a night out. I don’t see this trend ending anytime soon, so I would hop on the animal print train and get yourself the perfect skirt for the season!
This skirt is so comfortable, the main reason I added it to the shop!
It allows me to look fashionable while still feeling comfortable!

Jurassic Park Graphic T-Shirt

Casual Slip Style Skirt

Tassel Earrings

Make a Break for it Platform Sneaker

Check out Gracious & Grateful The Shop to shop further!

*Please be advised that Gracious & Grateful The Shop has a shipment duration of about 2 weeks. To make sure your packages arrive on time please account for the shipping time*

My People

Remember when you dreamed for the life you currently have?

4 years ago I came home from my very first trip to Naples and said, “One day I’m moving there!” Today I live in Florida. The dream came true! Yet I am the first one to crave the next dream I have lined up instead of basking in the one I’ve accomplished.

I wish my blog was bigger.
I wish I had a bigger following.
I wish I could create more content.

All things that will happen organically as I choose consistency over the easy way out. But, if I keep chasing the “next great thing” or “the next 1,000 followers” I miss out on what’s right in front of me. The opportunity to serve the people who are already at my table. The followers and readers I already have, the people who support me day in and day out.

For so long I served the people in the crowd, the people who I wanted to be at my table, supporting me. The whole time I was ignoring the people behind me, the people already sitting at my table, waiting for me to serve them.
Whether there are 10 people at that table or 9,000, they are at my table because they believe in me, those are the people I need to focus on.

I focus on the people I wish loved me- and I know I’m not the only one.

I spend so much energy focusing on the people I wish loved me, the people I wish approved of me, the people I wish wanted to be apart of my life.

I recently discovered that me spending time WISHING they would accept me is just wasted energy. I am wasting so much energy on the 1% of people who don’t care to be apart of my life. AND, why would I want them to be apart of my life if they don’t even want to be apart of it?

Jay Shetty states, “Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth”

When we start to see the value in ourselves, we start to discover the people around us who see value in us.

See we need to transition our thinking to focusing less on the people who don’t care and more on the people who already care. The people who want to cheer us on. The people who are already in our corners.
The people sitting at our table, listening intently as we announce our next big dream.
And once we speak that dream into fruition, they are the ones sitting at the table helping us plan, execute, all while screaming in support of YOU.

Friends, THOSE ARE YOUR PEOPLE!
The people that want your dreams to work so badly that they will do anything to keep you from talking yourself out of it.
The people who keep you accountable and never let you quit.
The people who show up, even when you don’t want them too- those are your people.

So start showing up to your table, start looking around at who’s sitting there ready to listen, and then start serving your people.

Melissa

How is it that time passes so quickly?

When you’re young you never notice life passing by you, I remember the day that I realized time flies.
The day Cooper died.
Three and a half years fighting, days that seemed to never end, yet I blinked and there he was, dead, on the hospital bed.
Time flew.
But it also sat completely still- and I wish I could still be in that stillness.

Some people will not experience the death of someone they loved deeply until they are much older, to them I have so much wisdom to offer. But most of it they will never be able to apply until that moment comes.
Other people, like me, like my sisters, like my family. Have experienced what I would say, is too much death.

But I truly believe God gives his strongest soldiers the hardest battles.
And that’s my family, full of strong soldiers.

A year ago, I woke up and was avidly getting ready to go to church.
I had just moved to Naples, so I was anxious for my car to arrive later that week. I remember waking up and thinking, “Today is going to be a GREAT day!”

Then it happened.
The moment that happens every single time I receive bad news.
I know this moment, I can see it coming before it hits me- my therapist calls it my superpower.
The moment of horrific news.
The moment of the unspeakable.

My phone rang, it was my Mom and I thought I would call her after my shower, but Nicole insisted I picked up the phone- that’s the moment right there.
See, every single time I’ve received horrific news, someone has INSISTED I take the call, or I be at home, or I listen to the voicemail.
This demand to respond to whatever is going on around me, immediately alerts me that bad news is coming.
But this time I could not picture what it could be- Cooper’s dead so it’s not him? Could it be my sisters? My dad?

Then, as soon as I heard my Moms voice one name popped into my head, my Mom hadn’t even said what happened.
I saw the name ‘Melissa’ flash before my eyes.
Sure enough, my Mom was calling to tell me my sweet cousin Melissa had passed away.

In a morbid way, I knew someone had died.
It was almost as if I was wondering, who’s next?
But by the same token, I NEVER would have thought my young beautiful 18 year old cousin would leave… at the same age my young handsome brother would leave me.

But she did.
She left us and entered Heaven to be at peace, to be healed, to be hugged by her FAVORITE human, Cooper.
In all honestly, if there was one human I know Cooper would want to hang out with ALL THE TIME, it would be Melissa.
They had a special bond no one understood and now, they get to be together for the rest of eternity.

Death is hard.
Explaining death is even harder.
See, my family and I boarded planes, met in the airport, and sat around a coffee table well before we went to visit my Aunt and Uncle.
And I looked around at my sisters, my dad, my mom, and I could hear them sigh.
Unfortunately, they were not sighing because of Melissa’s death, they were sighing because they knew what my Aunt and Uncles family was about to experience NEXT.

Death, that’s the easy part.
The funeral, a breeze.
It’s what happens next that is the hardest part of death.
Going home and spending a year without the person you love in the room next to you? Torture.
Wondering every day when the loss will get easier? Difficult beyond words.
Realizing that death is permanent, that your person is gone, that this is now how your life works- with one less human.

I struggled writing what I would say to Melissa if she were still here with us. But what I realized was that Melissa did not want me to write to her, she wanted me to write to her family, and if you knew Melissa, YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT SHE ASKS! So here we go.

To My Ricciardi Family,

I love you. I am so sorry that you are experiencing the most dreadful part of life, so early on. But, I know God built you for this even on the days you don’t believe he did. Even on the days you cannot breathe because the loss has taken over your entire body. Even on the days where you cannot get out of bed because Melissa is not there and it feels like it’s not worth getting up without her…. God built you strong, courageous, and full of hope. I want you to know that the days will not get easier. The moments will not be simple. Every day new challenges will arise because one less person is physically on this earth with you. But, notice I said physically. See, Melissa & Cooper are physically gone- but like the quote says, “People die only when we forget them. If you can remember someone; they will be with you always.”
Melissa was NEVER EVER going to be someone you could forget.
She was extraordinary, powerful, successful, and loved.
She was hilarious, kind, and would overwhelm you with her infectious personality.
You cannot forget Melissa, because she is unforgettable.
She is with you, in good days and bad.
You just have to keep searching.
Some people believe that after years of someone passing they stop showing you signs that they are with you. But that’s the biggest lie I’ve ever been told.
Cooper sends me enough pennies from Heaven, I’m going to need a bigger wallet. He sends me 11:11 to tell me I’m doing just fine.
And he always whispers to me, I love you big sister.
The people we love never leave us, they just move to a place where they can spend more time protecting us.
That’s why they call them angels.

I love you my sweet family.

In Memory of the world’s one and only Melissa Ricciardi- my cousin, my friend, my sister- I love you.

Señorita

The dress of your dreams!

Yes you heard that right, this green dress will have everyone calling you ‘Señorita’! This was the very first item I added to the Gracious & Grateful Shop because I think it is completely fabulous! I love that you can dress it up for work or for a night out, yet dress it down for a Sunday at the farmers market!

I wore this dress two different ways, just by swapping shoes, it changed the look COMPLETELY! Check out this beautiful green dress from Gracious & Grateful The Shop!

Summer Beach Maxi Dress Women Floral Print

Steve Madden Women’s Proto Dress Pump

Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage Shoes

Photographer –  @piperariellephotography

*Please be advised that Gracious & Grateful The Shop has a shipment duration of about 2 weeks. To make sure your packages arrive on time please account for the shipping time*

It’s all on you

Okay. Let’s do this.

Let’s chase our dreams.
Let’s go for the things that scare us.
Let’s put our all into the things that set our souls on fire.

Stop telling yourself you can’t do it, you’re wasting time.
Stop telling yourself it will never work, how will you know if you never try?
Stop telling yourself you can’t make it because “its already been done.”
Stop believing the lies you’re telling yourself.

You’re worth more than those thoughts you’re ALLOWING yourself to believe.
You’re worth more than what society is telling you that you can do.
You’re worth more than the limits you put on yourself.

It’s time to start owning our attitude.
It’s time to start deciding what we allow to affect our moods.
It’s time to start owning our joy.

See, we allow people to steal our joy. WE GIVE THEM THAT PERMISSION.
But that’s just the thing, you do not have give them permission to steal your joy. You can choose to say no, you’re not allowed to take what is MINE. You can choose to take ownership of your joy and decide that people are not going to have an affect on your attitude.

OKAY, but notice… IT’S ALL ON YOU.
It’s on you to chase your dreams.
It’s on you to stop telling yourself you CAN’T chase those dreams.
It’s on you to choose to believe you’re worthy of what you were made to do.
It’s on you to starting owning your attitude.
It’s on you to not LET OTHER PEOPLE STEAL YOUR JOY.
IT’S ALL ON YOU!

So YOU have to decide today what you’re going to do, how you’re going to act, what you will believe.
NO ONE IS IN CHARGE OF YOUR ATTITUDE, YOUR DREAMS, YOUR WORTH, YOUR JOY- BUT YOU!!!!
IT’S ALL ON YOU!

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