A lifestyle, travel, and wellness blog by Amanda Bonner
I am a lover of sunshine, saltwater, sun dresses, bikinis, chocolate cake, traveling the world, dreaming, self-development, positivity, and living a joyful life. I'm the kind of girl you can count on for a chill wine & snacks kind of evening or being your right hand girl to break it down on the dance floor to some 1990-2000s rap jams :). I'm incredibly goal-oriented and motivated, yet love living low key and relaxed. I believe that being kind to everyone is one of our greatest gifts and choices of all. I am new to formal blogging and excited to share my passions on this platform. Here you will find my thoughts on my love for travel, wellness, beauty and my everyday life.
I grew up in a small coastal town on the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. My hometown is a true gem of place and as time passes, the more I appreciate the simple and quaint touches that sparkle throughout. I'm the middle child, with an older sister who is my best friend, and a younger brother who was born as a built in sidekick. People say I am identical to my mom and in return, I am my mom's biggest fan. I attended college at North Carolina State University and graduated with a degree in Public Relations. I was very motivated my senior year to secure a career that would give me the opportunity to move outside of the Cardinal state and see what the world has to offer.
Wrapping up my senior year at NCSU, I landed a position with one of the world's largest information technology companies, but it was no stroll in the park to get there. Eight years later, I am still employed as an Enterprise Account Manager and have loved every second of it. My career has brought me incredible opportunities professionally and personally. I met my husband, Drew, through job training and hence the reason why we live in Houston, Texas. We had a long distance relationship for the first two years of dating. Drew surprised me with a beautiful engagement at my favorite place in the world, Cape Lookout National Seashore, with my best friends and our families. It was an amazing time, complemented with Bud Light Lime and champagne, and a day that we will both never forget!
We have been living in Houston together for the last five years and man, time surely does fly by. We rescued the cutest little pup, Bagheera (more informally known as BB), back in 2016 and he has made our little family and time in Houston beyond special. We bought our first home in 2017 (in the Heights!), followed by getting married in May 2018. Drew, Bagheera, and I have navigated some really fun and yet really interesting times during this journey of our life together. We have enjoyed the benefits of the city life and all of the different experiences that lie at our fingertips. Most weekends you can catch us at one of our favorite bars or restaurants, volunteering with Texas Center for the Missing, riding bikes around the Heights trails, or having a chill night at home on our rooftop patio.
With the pandemic striking the world, we have temporarily moved in with my family to spend a magical summer back in North Carolina. Most recently, we purchased a boat to maximize our time here and you can find us fishing or island hopping the Crystal Coast every single weekend!
I'm excited to begin my blogging journey to share some of my own personal stories, as well as my love for certain experiences and products that have generated some of my most joyful experiences!
I'm a natural brunette, but will always identify as a blonde at heart!
I was interviewed on CNN for my volunteer efforts around reuniting missing & displaced persons during Hurricane Harvey.
My very first concert was N*SYNC and I used to make videos confessing my love to JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake.
My mom and her family are from a small island in North Carolina with a population topping 1,300 people!
I make a killer skinny margarita.
My favorite movie of all time is Clueless.
My very first job was at the ripe age of 12 where I sold local seafood at a market.
My first time traveling to Europe was a solo venture and it was the most transformational trip of my life.
My favorite food is fried chicken and I'm most satisfied when it's paired with mashed potatoes and gravy and a good southern biscuit.
My brother and I are Irish twins - my mom went to her six weeks check up after having me, and she was pregnant with him! Don't ask me how lol!
I have served as a Board Member for Texas Center for the Missing since 2015 and it's been an incredibly eye-opening and rewarding experience.
As a child, I loved journaling and keeping a diary to document what seemed like big happenings in my daily life. Back in 2013, I took a solo trip to Europe and started a mini blog to capture my adventures. Several people read the blog and looked forward to my next post, but I unfortunately lost track with it as wi-fi was not readily available to keep it going! My husband, Drew, and I love to travel and each time we take a trip, I’m reminded how much I love to write about our experiences and share with our friends and family.
Over the last few years, I’ve been dreaming of starting an actual blog but could never get the time or patience to get things off the ground. One day, my friend asked me: “What is stopping you from going after your dream?” My response back to her was: “I’m just stuck! I don’t know how to code a website and have no time to figure it out!” I am so thankful she asked that question because in that moment she gave me such a helpful realization that you don’t have to be the one to do EVERYTHING in order to get to your dream. She gave me the advice of outsourcing the parts that are tough to allow myself to focus on the things I excel at. It may seem silly but this light bulb moment I had became a question I constantly ask myself when I realize I am not progressing ahead.
Fast forward to now, I outsourced the foreign, hard part (obviously, and huge thank you to my website developer) and I am unveiling my dream blog! As a reader and follower of many blogs, I felt that there is a huge gap in authentic living, especially for women. We live in a world of perfection, adorned with the perfect photos, perfect outfits, and all of the unattainable perfectness, where I just wish bloggers would be more forthcoming about the hardships and create a community of support that women dearly struggle with (including myself!). The intent of my blog is to share experiences from my life, the good, the bad, and the real with the goal of empowering all of my readers to feel the confidence to radiant as their true selves.
One of my favorite parts about starting my blog was the name that I decided upon! I wanted my blog to reflect my fun personality and have my own unique personal touch as my overall brand. The plan to incorporate my initials as a “sign off” for each post evolved into how I can incorporate each initial letter into a descriptive name about my content.
There is a mural in Houston near my house with the quote “I love the way you blush when I tell you how much you shine.” I always loved that quote and it made me think of moments in my life where a smile is accompanied by a blush. I realized that for myself, I always blush when I am really exciting about something, thrown a compliment, get nervous, laugh, smile, etc. All kinds of emotions are complimented by a subtle blush and I thought what a unique way to call that out through my blog name.
As a newbie to a big city but no stranger to deep emotional connections, I struggled with finding new girlfriends. With the burst of social media and podcasts, I’ve been able to develop mentors (whether they know it or not) and follow women that I aspire to be like, but I know there are MORE of us out there. I wanted to create a place for women to feel inclusive, empowered, heard, and motivated. I also wanted to keep in mind three foundational areas in all of my work: joy, authenticity, and growth.
With all of this in mind, there was born A Joyful Blush. The ultimate purpose of A Joyful Blush is to serve young women looking for inspiration in life, travel, and wellness, by resonating with candid experiences and taking away tangible tips to enhance themselves in the present moment, so that they can shamelessly be free as their most authentic and joyfully blushing selves.