on blogging insecurities (+ doing it, anyway).

This week, I’ve been working on a really cool project. I don’t want to give too much away, because I can’t wait to share it with you in full, but essentially, I’ve been writing an article about this totally kick-butt style entrepreneur who got her start as a fashion blogger five years ago, when she was a freshman in college. This woman is super cool and so inspiring, and after getting the chance to interview her last week, I’ve been reading through her blog archives for research. She’s totally gorgeous and effortlessly fab, and while she got her start taking outfit photos in the dim lighting of her dorm room, the pictures on her site now are professional and stylized. There were moments during this process that I had to remind myself to keep my journalist hat on so that I didn’t swap in my blogger hat and start getting down on myself.

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About as fashion blog-y as it gets around here (for now)!

Here’s a Friday confession for you, friends (and you’ve probably heard it from plenty of other bloggers, but it’s my turn): this whole blogging thing feels really hard sometimes. No, I don’t mean solving-quadratic-equations hard or curing-cancer hard — the stakes aren’t that high, of course. It’s difficult in that I want to continuously put myself, my thoughts, and my experiences out there in new and fresh ways, and I don’t always know if my approach is the right one.

I’m not a fashion blogger, but I still wish I could fill this site with photos of me looking casually stylish, going about my daily life with a cool bag on my arm and the perfect looking-past-the-camera pose. I constantly wish I had more original images to use here, or that I had it in the budget right now to do an awesome layout redesign. Now that this amazing blogging journey has started, I want to be able to own my blogger status by doing things that other, apparently more fabulous bloggers do. With work and life and relationships and money, though, it’s not that simple! Building this blog — along with my writing career — is really about taking one step at a time, but if it seems that I’m taking those baby steps patiently, then I guess I’m just a really good actress : )

What I’ve learned over the last few months, though, is that launching new projects and chasing your dreams is largely about having insecurities, giving yourself just a little bit of time to sit with them and then basically saying to yourself, “Get over it. Do it, anyway.” Over the last year or so, I feel really lucky to have stumbled upon the stories of other women who have gone out on their own and risen above their insecurities. I love listening to them share their experiences, especially knowing how successful they’ve become! For anyone looking to make a major life change (whether or not you plan to share it so openly on social media!), I would say this is key. Find people who are out there in the world living the kind of life you want to live. Take comfort in the fact that they didn’t always feel like they were the best at what they do. Stalk their Instagram feed, because chances are, there’s a great story of highs and lows right there for you to see.

One of my personal inspirations has been Ashley Lemieux, the founder of The Shine Project (if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know this organization well!). She’s honest and authentic and silly and creative and the ultimate jump-in-with-both-feet entrepreneur. She’s also a lipstick lover like me, which I dig.

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A post shared by Ashley Lemieux (@theshineproject) on

Luckily for all of us, Ashley recently wrote How to Start Anything: A Quick Guide to Jumpstarting Your Dreams. I’m super excited to be involved with sharing this eBook and all of the other awesome things Ashely is cooking up right now (wait ’til you see what comes next!). The book is available for FREE right now at this link, and I’d love for you to check it out so you can get a sense of the amazing “make it happen” philosophy that has inspired me so much over the last few months, especially when I’ve been feeling secure.

…and once you’ve fallen even further in love with Ashley and basically everything she does (you will, I promise), don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway! The prize just happens to be a pair of earrings from The Shine Project. All you have to do to enter is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing the winner on Monday 5/1, so get those entries in ASAP!

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Happy weekending! xo

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real talk #2

Last week, I wrote about a few of the things that I would call “keys to success” for work-from-homers. While I stand by those suggestions and credit them with the fact that I’m now almost six months into this journey and haven’t lost my mind (yet), my method is far from perfect, so I think it’s time for another round of Real Talk (you can check out the first one here!). You guys keep me honest, and as always, I want to be as transparent as possible about these transitions and experiences.

Matt and I spent this past weekend at the Jersey shore, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was feeling pretty burned out toward the end of last week, and even though I still had to work while we were away, the change of scenery couldn’t have come at a better time. Sometimes, all it takes to get back on track mentally is a day or two outside of your normal routine — and a walk on a cloudy beach or a few hours with a good book definitely doesn’t hurt, either.

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I’m so lucky to have this guy to help bring me back when I’m feeling down. 

I wish I could put my finger on exactly why I felt so stretched to my breaking point last week. After a weekend of traveling, I was trying to settle back into both my work and personal routines, and I just felt like I couldn’t keep up with what needed to get done. Then, as soon as I felt caught up, I realized that what I really wanted to be was ahead, and the frustration of not being ahead launched me into a whole other round of being annoyed with myself. And then, I would internally scold myself for not being more patient and not celebrating the strides that I was making. All of this ultimately led to me getting angry that I was scolding myself and not granting myself more grace… and you can totally see how this line of thought could drive a girl (especially a sleep-deprived one) crazy.

One thing you can really miss when you’re working from home is the voice of reason that often comes to you in the form of incredible office friends and co-workers. I hit plenty of low points back in my old job, too, but there was always someone in the next cubicle ready to talk me down and put a pin in the irrational cycle of thinking described above.

Most of the time, I enjoy being alone in my home office. I’ve always been inherently independent, and I find that I’m much more productive when I can be self-directed about my work. When things are status quo, this is all true, but when I’m talking myself into a pretty depressing corner (like I was last week), I really start to miss the tough love and listening ear of colleagues. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — working from home is not all easy, and it’s not all glamorous. The highs feel super high, but the lows are no fun. And that’s your Real Talk for the day : )

Luckily, as I start to rack up more projects, I’m able to surround myself with new contacts who are definitely feeling more like friends every day. I’m trying to learn to open up to these new people, and I’m also working harder at asking for help from my loved ones when I know I need their support to snap out of a freelance/work-from-home funk. Like I did this weekend, I need to allow myself to take a break from the daily routine so I can reset my attitude. A little self-care really does work wonders!

What do you do when you’re stuck in a cycle of negative self-talk? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

***Don’t forget to enter the February giveaway so you can win this beautiful blue necklace from The Shine Project!  All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Thursday! ***

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let’s talk lunch.

Happy Monday, everyone! I hit the ground running this morning, and I don’t know about you, but as of today, it feels like 2017 is officially in full motion.

It felt great getting back into my usual schedule last week, but on Friday, I realized that I’d been struggling with one aspect of my routine. By the time Matt got home from the office at the end of the week, ready to start our weekend together, I was feeling run-down, dizzy, and totally exhausted. As he is always such a rock star at doing, my husband immediately sat down with me on the couch to talk through things and try to figure out what was going on.

Real talk: As I’ve mentioned previously, body image has been a challenge for me for the better part of my life, and while I’ve managed to get to a pretty good place with all of it these days, every now and then, I realize that my eating habits have gotten a little weird. Working from home has been really beneficial and, generally speaking, I feel better than ever. Unfortunately, I realized last week that I had really not been taking good care of myself where daytime eating is concerned. After a good breakfast after the gym, I was mostly just grazing on small bites throughout the day. Because I tend to work out pretty intensely every morning, my body definitely needs better fuel than I was giving it. It should have come as no surprise that I wasn’t feeling so hot by Friday!

I’ve never been a big fan of lunch foods. As a kid, I didn’t like sandwiches or yogurts or any of the other things that the rest of my classmates packed regularly. On the weekends, I would pick at leftovers or other snacks. In the years since, I’ve gone through phases where I’ve been very unhealthy about lunch (in college, often eating nothing but an apple all day), very healthy about lunch (doing a full meal prep every Sunday while I was working and bringing in grilled chicken and veggies to eat), and everything in between. Because lunch isn’t my favorite meal, I just don’t usually crave a meal in the middle of the day, and since life got so busy around here before the holidays, I admittedly wasn’t paying very good attention to my body.

The way I felt this weekend was a good wake-up call, and with training for my next half marathon starting up in just a few weeks, I’m feeling extra motivated to get back on track. I was at Trader Joe’s this morning before it opened (in the freezing cold!), and I went out of my way to pick up a few extra things that looked good for lunch. Earlier today, I mixed up a big batch of this quinoa salad, and it was really delicious. I’m excited to have it on hand for the rest of the week.

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The ingredients to this salad are quinoa, sauteed baby spinach, edamame, cucumbers, chia seeds, salt, pepper, and a dash of parmesan cheese.

Do you have any other suggestions for healthy lunches? I’m willing to get back into the habit of setting time aside for weekly meal prep or daily cooking if it means I’ll feel better and more energized! I’d love to hear about some of your favorites.

As always, I appreciate your love and support! It’s not always easy talking about my challenges and stumbling blocks, and it feels great to know I have the support of this online community : )

stressed all over again.

I think that one of the biggest misconceptions about working from home or working for yourself is that it’s somehow luxurious.

Sure — I’ll own the fact that I’ll occasionally take a longer break for lunch to catch up on my TiVo, or that every once in a while, I’ll let myself stay in bed until 8:30 (for someone like me who has sleep issues and is used to a 5AM wake-up call, I assure you that this feels like cheating), but those occasions are absolutely the exception, and not the rule. To be successful in any endeavor when you’re both boss and employee, you have to be self-motivated and in a constant state of *hustle* (I say this with authority because my fellow freelance friends and I have talked about it at length).

Early on, I’ll confess that I did notice a decrease in that pesky word that we all use all the time: STRESS. I was still trying to lock down gigs and get my name out there, and to put it bluntly, there was absolutely zero demand for my work at that point. I was working hard, but I didn’t need to — I was getting things off the ground and wanted to prove (to myself, mostly) that I could make a full-time job out of writing.

Three months later, I can confidently say that stress is once again a factor in my life. I barely realized it was happening, but suddenly, in the middle of last week, it hit me: just like in my old job, I’m back to feeling the pull of what sometimes feels like a million demands and deadlines.

Just like in my “real talk” post, I promise I’m not taking this as an opportunity to complain. If anything, feeling stressed again felt a little like a blessing — a milestone to mark the fact that I’m now at the point in my (still very young, immature) writing career where my work has enough interest that I need to deliver.

What does this mean for all of you other stressed people out there? It’s a reminder that, while feeling stress can be well, stressful, it’s also a sign that you’re doing good work and that what you’re doing is valued and in demand. I know it can be hard to see that perspective when you’re in a constant rotation of projects and deadlines and meetings and family drama and relationships, but as someone who took a step out of that loop and gradually came back in, I’m here to tell you that what you’re doing is important, which is why you feel the pressure to do it at all. That being said, you deserve a break, and I hope you have a chance to take one over the upcoming holidays. You’ve definitely earned a chance to curl up with a good book and a plate of Christmas cookies, and to take a minute to reflect on all of the butt-kicking things you’ve been doing recently — because I’m sure you’re doing plenty. 

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I just wanted to let you know : )

 

real talk #1

I think we can all agree that social media and the Internet in general is pretty awesome. Right? In the last few months, especially, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the opportunities that all of this connectivity affords us, and I certainly can’t imagine a world where I don’t feel totally up-to-date on the lives of everyone I care about simply because I’m following them on Instagram.

Unfortunately, there is a darker side to social media. There’s been a lot written about how curated feeds and blogs have created a new standard of perfection that feels almost impossible to meet (this Bustle article sums it up pretty well).

As much as I love sharing the high points of my journey here, it’s also important to me that I am authentic. Like any other blogger, I can’t help but curate what I post, but I want to take ownership of the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the transitions happening in my life. While I’ve been lucky to find some success pretty early on with my writing, it hasn’t been easy — there are moments where it actually feels really HARD.

I’m starting a new series today called Real Talk, where I’ll shift gears and write honestly about my more ridiculous, frustrating, and discouraging moments. My intention here is NOT to complain (I promise!), but to give you a balanced picture of the ups and downs I experience in this new chapter of my life. I’m not perfect, and neither are the changes I’m navigating. Read on to get a glimpse of a few of my low points.

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Image credit: Pinterest/spoken.ly

  • Last week, I broke down in tears and cried on the floor of my apartment because I somehow managed to lose both of my contact lenses in the same morning and I didn’t have any back-ups. (Ugh, I’m embarrassed just to admit this!) Obviously, it wasn’t really about the contact lenses (as I always say, “it’s never about what it’s about”) — it had been a tough week and I was feeling strung out in every possible way. I had also scratched my eye in the whole mess, and when you spend most of your time working alone, it’s easy to get a little freaked out that if you really got hurt, there wouldn’t be anyone immediately available to help.
  • I haven’t purchased a new piece of clothing in three months (not even a T-shirt). My amazing husband and I pool our collective income to keep things moving here financially, and my paychecks have now started to roll in (yay!), but I’m still being very conservative with spending until things get further off the ground.
  • I’m still adjusting to talking about my new job as a writer when I meet people for the first time. When I had a more traditional gig, I barely gave it a second thought when people asked me what I did for a living, but now I find myself stumbling over my words. Since this is all still new and I’m continually growing my portfolio of clips, I’m not 100% confident about how to present my career to new acquaintances in a way that will be taken seriously. (Any advice from fellow writers and freelancers on this would be much appreciated!)
  • Bad weather can be isolating. It rained almost every day last week, and the cold temperatures are finally starting to set in. I’m finding that it’s now all the more important to make a little extra effort to get myself out of my home office and into other workspaces.
  • Getting bad news is REALLY hard when you’re on your own. I’ve found that working for myself means that the professional highs feel very high…but that the professional lows feel that much lower. At my previous job, I was lucky to be surrounded by some really special co-workers who were always there to pick me up if I was having a rough day, and now it’s entirely up to me to turn the mood around. It’s also difficult not to take things personally when they don’t go my way.

These challenges are honestly so minor compared to how I felt in the hard days toward the end of my previous corporate job. Still, it’s not all about writing fun stories and making my own schedule, regardless of what my Instagram feed and the rest of this blog might suggest : )