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dress: ModCloth // purse: c/o Pink Haley // shoes: Moorea Seal (similar) // earrings: vintage

photos by Chelsea Francis

It's official -- I've had this little space on the Internet for six whole years! I started this blog as a creative outlet and resume booster when I was a junior in college because I didn't want to wait for someone to tell me I was a good enough writer to be published. Obviously, quite a bit has changed about this blog -- and blogging in general -- since then, and I honestly never imagined it would have become what it is today. In honor of my anniversary, I thought it would be fun to share six things I've learned from my experience blogging!

1. The Answer is Always No If You Don't Ask

If there's a lesson I've been the most stubborn to learn, it's this one. I still struggle with it a ton, but I can't deny its truth. Whether I'm sending a pitch or asking for help, I have to leave my comfort zone if I want to move forward. By not asking, the chance of getting what I want is zero. For the most part, people aren't just walking around handing out opportunities, so you have to make them for yourself. Of course, asking is just the beginning of the work, but you have to take that first step to get started! 

2. Everything is Better with Friends

While writing is a pretty solitary activity, blogging is all about community. I've met some -- most, actually -- of my closest friends because of blogging. Blogging would be lonely without friends to share things with, but having a community is so much more than that. I'm certain I wouldn't still be blogging after all these years were it not for the friends I bounce ideas off of, collaborate with, ask for advice, who I support and who support me back. Blogging is a weird and still relatively new industry, so we're all figuring out as we go. When one of us finds success, we all feel that win. Plus, celebrating a win is better together!

3. Content May be King, But Vulnerability is Queen

If you're a writer or work in the marketing world, you may have heard the phrase "content is king." While I still believe this is true, what I've found makes for strong, engaging content is a sense of vulnerability in everything I create. Whether you're new to this blog or you've been a reader for years (either way - THANK YOU!), I would guess one of the reasons you're here is because I don't shy away from what I'm feeling, particularly when I'm struggling.

I believe there's power in "me too" moments. I think silence and avoidance causes stigma and isolation. If I'm going to have a platform, I'm sure as heck going to use it to be open and honest in hopes that someone out there feels less alone. Be transparent, be authentic, and give your community something more of yourself.

Some of my favorite open-heart posts I've written are this one about last summer's shorts, this one about being body positive and wearing spanx, this one about taking a break from therapy, and this one about writing and depression.

4. There's Power in the Word "No"

You're defined as much by the people you work with and projects you take on as the ones you decline. My first three years of blogging, I think I took on one partnership. I can still count the number of true sponsored posts (in which I've been paid) on one hand. Even now, I'm especially selective about who I collaborate with because every promotion has the potential to attract or turn away someone to what I'm doing. Saying no has as much to do with sponsored opportunities as it does with invitations to events or to grab coffee. I'm very protective of my time because there are only so many hours in the day and too many things I want to do. Which brings me to...

5. Your Initiative Will Make or Break You

When it comes to passion projects, whether it's learning piano or writing a blog, it's your ability to take initiative that pushes you forward. It's about making time to do something because you absolutely want to. Total transparency, I have a full-time job and I make very little money blogging, but I LOVE it and still want to do it every day. Even when I'm tired or feeling unmotivated, I make myself sit down and write something, re-size photos, pin posts, find inspiration, etc. I work on my blog in some capacity nearly every night and most of the day on Sunday. If it sounds like a lot of work, that's because it is, but I have no intention of giving it up anytime soon. I'm consistent because I want to be and, more importantly, I work hard to be. More than the desire to make money or have thousands of readers or to be recognized by big brands, I'm passionate about having a space of my own to write and share whatever I want. If there's something you say you love, you better find every opportunity to do it.

6. Consumption Makes You a Better Creator

Again, if you've got a writing background, you've probably heard someone say that "reading makes you a better writer." One of the most important lessons I've learned as a blogger is to never stop consuming if I want to keep creating. Whether that's podcasts, blog posts, or other media, knowing what's being said helps me find my place. I also find so much inspiration, not to mention community, from supporting other writers and creatives. I actively follow about 100 blogs (some post more consistently than others), plus a handful of podcasts, and I genuinely love gaining new perspective and ideas from them while getting to know the creators with each new post or episode. I am a better blogger because I'm engaged in the pulse of my community!


Bonus: There's No Such Thing as Writer's Block

Okay, I was going to keep it at six, but I just couldn't leave this one out! Writer's block isn't real, or it at least isn't what you've been made to think it is. If you're struggling to get words on the page, I would bet there's something else at play. Maybe you need to figure out the scope of what you're working on (I dealt with this when writing the workbook) or find more inspiration (see above!). Maybe there's something going on totally unrelated from what you're working on, like anxiety because of a messy workspace, impostor syndrome, hunger (so real!), etc. Instead of throwing your hands up and calling it writer's block, take the time to figure out the root of what's stumping you.

Here's to more years of sharing my feelings and 'fits online with you! Thank you SO MUCH for following along, supporting me, and being a part of this community. You mean the world to me and I wouldn't be here without ya!

P.S. You may have seen that I put out a call on Insta for questions for an Ask Me Anything-esque post. I got some fun ones I'm going to answer soon, but also just wanted to put out the feelers to see if this is something y'all would be interested in. AMA posts are some of my favorites from bloggers I love, so I thought that might be cool content to incorporate if y'all are interested. Let me know if you like or don't like those types of posts, if you have any questions (can be about anything! Styling tips, personal questions, recommendations, etc.), and if you think I should set up a place where you can ask questions anytime as they come to you! If there isn't really interest, I'll probably keep the Q&A to Instagram for the questions I do get!

cheers to six years!

banana republic essetial cami

It's been a minute since I've done a wear it now & later post -- almost a year, actually! When I received this plaid essential cami from Banana Republic's Simply Sophisticated Summer collection, I knew it was the perfect transitional piece to style for summer and fall.

Through writing and going through the Feel Good, Dress Better process myself, I learned that the biggest hole in my closet is "going out" clothing. I always struggle when it comes to dressing for night when my plans require something other than my favorite pjs and a fuzzy robe.

In being more intentional with my closet, I wanted to choose pieces from Banana's new arrivals that I knew would get a lot of wear, especially when it came to dressing for nighttime. Coincidentally, this cami isn't just versatile in terms of transitioning from day to night -- it also transitions flawlessly from summer to fall! The typically summer white makes for a cool contrast with traditional fall colors while the print is a play on autumnal plaid. Hey hey, new closet workhorse!

Check out how I styled the essential cami with distressed denim and leather accents for both summer and fall!

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outfit one: cami: c/o Banana Republic // skirt: c/o Madewell // shoes: Old Navy // purse: vintage Coach via Pieceology Vintage

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outfit two: cami: c/o Banana Republic // jeans: Madewell // jacket: BB Dakota c/o Shopbop // shoes: Moorea Seal (similar) // earrings: Beaded by W // purse: Steven Alan c/o Shopbop

photos by Chelsea Francis

What's your go-to look for going out? How would you style Banana Republic's essential cami?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Banana Republic. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

wear it now & later | banana republic plaid essential cami

linklove0816

What a week. The Internet is both a place I escape to and a place I have to escape from during weeks like this. Here are some things I read that go me through.

A must-read regarding last weekend's events in Charlottesville.

You may have seen me link to this already this week, but Alissa and I literally both posted about the same topic on Monday and her take on body representation is a hot one.

Two gingham dresses that give me major heart eyes: one and two.

5 actually useful tips for growing your Instagram following from one of my favs.

Speaking of Instagram, Katrina is out here debunking those "authentic verified followers" cards you may have seen.

Certifiably obsessed with the color palette of these new arrivals from Clare V.

Two great reads this week from Allure: an interview with Helen Mirren and the phrasing you won't see in their magazine from now on.

I look at wedding photography literally all day for work, and yet it took me a second to notice that something was...off...in these photos! (That drone shot though!)

Powerful insight from an Asian-American doctor on how she deals with white nationalists in the ER.

I may not be a Game of Thrones fan, but I can totally get behind this.

There are some seriously pretty ruffles going on over at WAYF lately!

Valery got bangs!!! (And a fun partnership with Sephora - you go girl!)

I never would have known not to do this one thing in the event of a nuclear blast. Interesting...and terrifying.

A little wishlist: this millennial pink wrap skirt, this off-the-shoulder jumpsuit, this ready-for-fall gingham shirt, these classic gold earrings with a little edge, and my favorite tie-waist shorts - now with bees!

link love

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top: Charlotte Russe (similar) // skirt: Madewell // shoes: ModCloth // purse: Forever 21 (similar) // earrings: c/o Gudbling

photos by Chelsea Francis

While I don't believe in universal closet staples, I am really glad to have a sleeveless white button down in my closet again. I had one a couple of years back that stopped fitting the second I had a professional bra fitting. I've looked and looked, and even thrifted an extremely wrinkle-prone replacement from a pricey designer, but I just never found a shirt that met my closet and lifestyle needs. Then a couple of months ago, I was working on a curated shopping list for a friend when I stumbled upon this shirt on the Charlotte Russe site. I haven't personally shopped at the ole CR in years, but their prices and styles were a great fit for my friend, so I spent an afternoon scrolling through pretty much everything on their site. As soon as I spotted this top, I added two to my cart, one in a medium and one in a large, and hit order. (For reference, I ended up keeping the large!)

I'm SO bummed that this shirt is now sold out because I was going to encourage you all to buy it. I wear it at least twice a week and honestly already wish I'd bought a second one because I know this one is going to wear out soon. I love tucking it into cutoff shorts (outfit coming soon to the blog) and it goes with absolutely all of my skirts. Plus, the collar makes it way cute to wear under a dress! A white sleeveless blouse may not be a must-have for everyone, but I hope I never have to live without one again.

Now if only I could find the perfect black fit and flare dress that I've been searching to replace this one with since 2014.

a good shirt is hard to find

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