Monday, March 30, 2015

on making balance


When I was in college, probably a sophomore or so, my dad made a comment about how I was the kind of person who would probably always have multiple jobs. He recognized in me that I had too many interests for one path to satisfy, and that I had a lot of enthusiasm and energy towards pursuing all of my passions. For a few years, I did work 2+ jobs at any given time. I needed the jobs to support myself as I put myself through college. If I wanted to buy cute shoes and eat out with my friends, I needed to be able to afford that without depending on anyone else.

After I graduated, I became obsessed with the idea of finding stability. I craved routine, which is something that several part-time jobs didn't provide. Transitioning into my first full-time job was the catalyst to a lot of amazing things for me: beginning recovery for my disordered eating, finding a support system, paying (most of) my bills on time, to name a few.

My first full-time job was at a domestic violence non-profit where I was surrounded by social workers. The job had actually started as an internship that developed into part-time and then eventually full-time. From pretty early on, I knew that I didn't want to be a social worker. I loved the work I was doing and I planned to do it for as long as I could.

Eventually, however, I knew I wanted to write. This job that I loved was not a great résumé position for someone who wanted to maybe work for a magazine or in the fashion industry. If I'm being totally honest, this blog was often a way to fill my résumé with things that I knew my job did not. In this space I showed that I could not only write about fashion and trends, and write well, but also that I could do it consistently and without anyone telling me to. Blogging was a hobby that didn't earn me any money directly, but I knew that having this blog would ultimately lead to the career path I wanted. Thanks to my blogging, I now have my dream job doing something I'm so excited to do every day. (Read more about my job transition here.)

On top of the résumé reasons, blogging filled a creative need in my life. I could not have survived that non-profit job without the creative outlet blogging provided. I made balance in my life where there wasn't balance organically. I forged a path that wasn't given to me by anyone else. You don't have to wait for anyone to give you permission to pursue your passions, and you don't have to wait for balance to just appear in your life.

A few years into blogging and the work force, I started to feel like something was missing again. I needed another outlet. I also wanted something that Dago and I could do together. For those of you who are new-er around here, you may not know that I have a weekly podcast with my boyfriend called Breakfast for Dinner. We talk about pop culture, television, feminism, music, and other things that affect our lives. Dago and I happen to both have the same love language: quality time. Doing the podcast together gives us an opportunity to spend lots of time talking about interesting, sometimes important, sometimes hilarious topics as we put the show together and record each week.

This weekend Dago and I were talking about our podcast origin. We realized that one of the reasons our show works so well is because we didn't spend a lot of time making a business plan first or researching the best equipment. We just found a mic and started recording one day, figuring it out as we go. We didn't wait for someone to tell us we were ready, or even good. We both needed this outlet in order to have a sense of togetherness and balance in our lives, so we went for it.

I've recently been asked about how I maintain a creative life. I do so by listening to what my soul needs, whether it's a passion that needs to be fulfilled or a state of mind that needs to be shifted. I don't wait for anyone to tell me I deserve balance or I'm good enough to pursue something I want. I'm busy, but I'm happy to be spending my time doing the things I love, and I get to make my schedule for all non-work related things because I'm the boss.

And you are the boss of your life! You get to decide what you want to do and you can make balance in your life without having to wait to find it.

So what's next for you? What can you do to make your life more balanced?

Friday, March 27, 2015

earn your stripes

red stripes red and yellow outfit combo denim jacket and stripes austin fashion blogger
jacket: Nordy Rack (similar) // shirt: Forever 21 // skirt: ASOS // hat: swapped // booties: Charlotte Russe (similar)

photos by Chelsea Laine Francis

I wore this outfit recently and snapped a 'gram asking if y'all would want to see the whole thing. This outfit has been the perfect winter-to-spring transition with a few layers and some cool weather accessories paired happily with bare legs.

Chelsea and I were so lucky to stumble upon this wall. It was just hiding out in the middle of South Congress when we were on our way to brunch. I pulled over so fast and just plopped down on the striped bench while SXSWers walked past with their badges and giggled at us. I used to get so freaked out when people saw me taking outfit photos, but I've gotten to where it feels pretty natural as long as no one is asking to "help" or catcalling.

A few of you have been asking me lately how I get my hair curled like this. First, I never thought I would be on the receiving end of that question. Second, I do it with a straightener and I can't tell you how. Not because I don't want to be transparent, but because I literally have no idea how to explain it. I still do it wrong 60% of the time when I try and have to just give up and walk around with half-ish curly hair. After years of trying and trying (and burning all my fingers), I just sort of figured it out? It's just like curling ribbon with scissors...but with hair and a straightener? This tutorial is pretty close to what I do if you're interested!

What are y'all up to this weekend? I'm still coming down from my TxSC high and have about 7 posts in my drafts I want to work on for the coming weeks!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TxSC '15 (or five reasons why I cried this weekend)


Sometime on Friday afternoon, as I was booking it from the dining hall back to one of the glamping cabins, I had a thought: how the heck am I going to recap this weekend? Most blogger conference recaps follow a pretty standard format of either chronological events or a series of what the blogger learned during her weekend away. My Texas Style Council '14 recap was even split into two posts (here and here) so I could cover both! However, I was on staff for the conference this year, which made it a completely different animal. My perspective is unlike any other blogger who attended, in both positive and negative ways probably.

To keep this interesting for you and valuable for me, I've decided to break this post down into my five kinds of TXSC '15 cries. Why cries? Well, that's what I spent the majority of the weekend doing. Here's why:


1. The Tunnel of Sisterhood. Having decided to throw any sort of linear understanding of the conference out the window for this recap, I want to start with the last official CAMP activity. After moderating the final keynote on Sunday and watching my new friends receive well-deserved awards, everyone was led outside and put into two parallel lines. As we stood toe-to-toe, a camper walked between us with her eyes closed and we each whispered a word in her ear. "Strong." "Brave." "Thoughtful." "Vibrant." "Worth it." Camper after camper walked through the tunnel of Sisterhood hearing faceless voices reaffirm everything that was felt throughout the weekend. This was one of the most remarkably powerful experiences of my life and I know I'll never forget the way it made me feel. Let's just say I've only cried this hard a couple of other times in my life. It was intense, y'all.


2. The Anxiety. Now that I've given you a taste of the end, let's go back to the beginning. I arrived at CAMP on Wednesday evening to find the other staff members distributing bedding into giant yellow bins. Something you may not know about throwing a conference at a Girl Scout camp is that there's no maid service to do things like make your bed, take out your trash, etc. Someone has to do that for you, and that someone was our staff + volunteer team. As the volunteer coordinator, I delegated tasks to my AMAZING (seriously, y'all) team from bed duty and moving cafeteria tables to fixing microphones and tracking down lost backpacks. We were all bruised and bloody, not to mention muddy from doing all of this in the pouring rain. Being a leader is something I identify as in the online space, but I know that I sometimes struggle in leadership roles in a more direct sense. Having over 20 people depending on you to know the right answer all the time was causing my anxiety to go haywire, and I was having a hard time handling it. I was trying to nurse panic attack after panic attack while trying to stay strong for my team. Finding that balance between caring for me and sacrificing my needs for my team was a good, though challenging, lesson to learn.

photo by Chrystina Noel

3. The Women. At most blogging conferences, there's the big dogs and the little fish. The speakers , especially the keynotes, are often seen as untouchable celebrities who you're lucky to share air with. At TxSC, the playing field is intentionally more even. I sat at meals with big bloggers I've followed for years alongside other women I may not have heard of but was just as lucky to meet. Everyone was there to learn and connect in a real way, without the computer screen or even a façade to hide behind. Whether it was our stats, our fears of negative comments, or out doubts about moving forward, we were all there to be open and honest with each other, to find connections, and to be less alone. I met some of the most incredibly brilliant and brave individuals, and I am humbled to have experienced their beauty.


4. The Wisdom. A word I heard a lot this weekend, coined by Bethany Joy Clark, was "friendtor." A friendtor is someone who is your equal, your friend, while also being someone you can go to for guidance. One of the missions behind TxSC '15 was to provide an opportunity for women to find their friendtors. With so many smart entrepreneurs and business women, truth bombs and advice nuggets were constantly being shared. A few of my favorites: 

"Popularity does not equal profitability" - Megan Silianoff
"When you push yourself, you have to rest in equal proportion." - Jess Lively
"Don't poison your own well." - Caroline Rector
"Don't be intimidated by the experts, become friends with them." - Sophia Rossi

I'm pinning each of these quotes on my heart and calling back to them when I'm feeling uncertain.

TxSC-177 TxSC-172

5. The Sisterhood. Having a whole weekend spent with like-minded, driven, inspiring women is just about the best thing I can imagine. This was my version of a worship retreat and I am feeling wholly renewed and reinvigorated. These women came from all over the world (yes, the world! Not just the US!). Some are moms and some aren't. Some blog for a living and some have day jobs and write posts when they can. All of us are trying to figure it all out. All of us benefit from having a sister who supports her. During my keynote with Sophia Rossi, founder of HelloGiggles (which, AHHHHHHH yeah that's a thing that happened!!!!!!!!!!!), I asked what her definition of Sisterhood is. She said it's about loyalty, about being ride or die for someone you love. This is a great answer and one that definitely resonates with me. I was thinking more about it after our talk, though, and I realized that Sisterhood is deeper than that for me. Sisterhood extends past the women I know and love. I work to support all women because that connection is tremendously important to me. This weekend was about remembering (and discovering!) that we aren't alone. We have our sisters, both on and offline. That is so sacred to me and the time we spent at Camp Texlake over the weekend will always be in my heart.

There is so much that I didn't cover in this post, but I'm still processing everything and I've also been writing this for too many episodes of television (am I the only one who counts time this way?), so I figure I should wrap it up. I'll probably write more about the whole shebang later, but there are also so many good recaps going up. Follow the #TxSC15 tag on Twitter to see what other campers had to say!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

3 ways to feel better right now

cardigan over chrambray
chambray and chartreuse
sweater: Target (similar) // shirt: Old Navy // jeans: Forever 21 // shoes: LuLu*s // earrings: SoLa

Spring is finally here in Austin, and not a moment too soon. I've been really feeling the winter blues these last couple of months. It's been dark, cold, and wet, all of which make it hard to find motivation, inspiration, or focus. Thankfully I have a therapist I love and a wonderful support system to turn to when things get really dark, but it's always been important to me to be able to make myself feel better on my own, even if it's just enough to hold myself together until I get home to Dago or call my mom. When all else fails, these are my three favorite ways to feel better right now.

1. Wear a an outfit that makes you feel great. For me it's something that I've worn enough times to have figured out any kinks, and something that usually garners compliments (hey, having someone else tell you that you look good never hurts!). Whether it's a bold collection of colors or an all-black ensemble, wearing something that feels essentially you is always a good way to start feeling better. Bonus if you wear a pair of shoes with a little heel -- that extra bit of height can be exactly the confident boost you need!

2. Send out a little love into the universe. When I'm feeling down, I like to send a quick text to a friend I haven't talked to in a while. Chances are, they needed to hear something positive and supportive in that moment, but even if not, it's just nice to be reminded that you're loved and thought about. Doing this always makes me feel better because I did something nice for someone I care about, but it's also great because it reminds you of what awesome people are in your life and how lucky you are to have them.

3. Citrus. When I notice that I'm in a dark place -- depressed, unmotivated, ultra-sensitive, just wanting to crawl back into bed -- I like to grab a piece of citrus: an orange, clementine, or tangerine, preferably! Even having the pop of color on my desk at work helps literally brighten my day, but the scent and especially the act of peeling and eating each individual section of the fruit improves my mood every time. It feels good to take care of yourself, and I love that eating a piece of citrus makes you spend a couple more seconds on doing something good for you.

It doesn't take much for a bad day to spiral into a rut, so I try to remember these three easy tricks for getting through rough spots. What are your fool-proof ways to feel better?

P.S. I'm off to CAMP at the end of the workday! Can't wait to see some of you there!