Friday, February 15, 2019

on writing, blogging, and everything in between



YOU GUYS. I MISS BLOGGING. 

More importantly, I miss writing.

I started blogging a long time ago. I've always had a blog in some regard; my fascination of writing about my daily life likely having stemmed from my incessant keeping of a diary or journal throughout my adolescence and into adulthood. My personal, handwritten journals were never properly organized. To this day, I don't care much for bullet journals or organized templates. I wrote about what was happening in my life, how I felt about it, and documented my growth. Heartfelt diary entries aside, I wrote stories as often as I devoured them. I had spiral notebooks filled with "day in the life" stories about my best friends, teenage-hormone driven romance chapters, and song lyrics. I didn't write for anyone else (in fact, to this day, I feel awkward "sharing" my blog posts). I'm not even sure if I wrote "for me" - I wrote because I wanted to tell my story, and to create characters and their background stories.

Fast forward to now, and this blog, and what blogging has become...or should I say what Instagram has become. Where there's a blog, there's a conjoining "influencer" Instagram. On the flip side, where there's an "influencer" Instagram, there isn't always a blog, and to an extent, that's perfectly fine. To be blunt, writing doesn't come naturally to everyone, and there are plenty of popular, full-time "Instagrammer/Bloggers" whose posts I read and I think to myself, "yikes, perhaps it's time to invest in an editor." 

I've put this pressure on myself to become a certain kind of blogger, to be an "influencer," to grow my Instagram following. After all, "that's the dream," right? To be able to create content and get paid handsomely for it. Once you hit the almighty 10k on Instagram, not only do you get the fancy "swipe up" feature, but you also become eligible for 100x more campaigns (most of which rarely require a blog post, mind you) that generally pay pretty big bucks. If you're a shitty person (sorry, not sorry) you can easily buy those followers, because who can tell the difference, right? The true answer to that is nearly everyone, but that's neither here nor there. It can be a lot harder if you're someone who truly enjoys connecting with others, who thinks a curated scroll feed is just as important as a curated Lightroom preset, who is actually in it for the content creation...not simply what you get out of it. 

So we use the "right" hashtags and post at the "right" times, and browse through our explore tabs, and likelikelike commentcommentcomment in hopes of building relationships and gaining an authentic following. And I've seen lots of influencers (some of my friends included!) do this successfully and admirably. They put in the time and effort, hours a day, day in and day out, and it works for them. They get invited to all of the things, and get sent all of the things, and meet all of the people. I think to myself, "why not me?" 

But then I think to myself, "do I even want that?"

I didn't start blogging to review restaurants, or get #sponsored posts (even though it's super cool when I get to do any of that, and I am absolutely thrilled when I do get invited...I'm not one to turn down free margs in exchange for IG content). I am a recent yet semi-active user of Like To Know It, and I try to keep up with local events and posting on Instagram. But when I started blogging in 2013, I'm not sure I was even cognizant of such opportunities. I wasn't in it for extra money, because I was in sales and was already making great money. I was in it because I felt inspired by the bloggers who shared their daily snippets, not just their daily outfits; the ones who shared lightly edited snapshots of their nature walks and talked about their Sunday nights, and their opinions. That's why I started this blog.

I think it'd be unfair to say that I've been trying to squish myself into a lifestyle blogger box, because I've always been happy with the content I've posted. But when I get the urge to write, I want to create stories, to share snippets of my daily routine, to discuss the things I love, in a way that feels like I'm chatting with an old friend, because those are the kinds of things I want to read about. You know?

I actually wrote a variation on this exact post almost two years ago, so hey, at least I'm consistent. I'm not quitting blogging, nor do I think there's going to be a "giant shift" in my content. In a way, this is me telling myself (but also giving you a reminder, if you need it) that it is 100% okay to have a blog just for the sake of writing. 

It's great if you have lofty follower goals and a dream to go full-time, and it's also okay to do it just for fun. I started this blog as a hobby, and maybe that's all it will ever be (never say never, of course). I've always loved writing, and now that I'm out of graduate school, I think I'd like to tap back into writing creatively, even outside the blog. Getting vulnerable here: I'd absolutely love to write a young-adult fiction novel someday. The key, as I'm sure you've heard about many seemingly impossible tasks, is to just start, right?


If you're still here after alllll of that, BLESS YOU. And if you can relate (or even if you can't), drop a comment below, because it'll make me feel a whole lot less self-conscious about baring my soul. 




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Thursday, February 14, 2019

my all-time favorite love stories

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! I hope you spend today with whatever or whomever makes you feel the very fuzziest on the inside.

Do you set reading goals for the year? I was so close to mine last year, but I spent a bit too much time begrudgingly reading books that I just wasn't into (looking at you, Beartown) and fell behind by about six books. Yiiiiikes. I set my Goodreads challenge to 25 books (again) for this year, which means I need to spend less time scrolling and more time picking up my Kindle.

I've been wanting to do a 2018 book review post, but since it's Valentine's Day, aka the day of luuurrrve, I thought I'd share some of my all-time favorite love stories.

I feel like I go through "stages" with book genres. From 2015-2016, I was an avid thriller-seeker. Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10...any book pertaining to a female and a place she has or hasn't been, I was reading it. But over the last year, I've been veering more toward frivolous, light reads. Perhaps it's the current political climate, or all the horrific things happening in the world, but I've been partial to happier (or happy-ish) romantic books.

And don't worry - you won't catch 50 Shades of Gray on this list. Hop on out of here with that, y'all.

(JK, you can stay).

Note: Some affiliate links may be used. This means that, if you make a purchase through one of these links, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you. I appreciate you! Also, I'm an avid library book reader, so I say try to get these babies for free first.


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Forever Is The Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan - favorite book of 2018, and quite possibly one of my favorite books ever. I recommend this book all the time.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - I absolutely devoured this book years ago, and I always think about going back to re-read it. It isn't earth shattering or anything, but definitely a page turner.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - written by my all time favorite YA author. Anyone else used to read/still reads her stuff?

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks - an oldie but a goodie. The movie is great, but the book is just fantastic.

One Day in December by Josie Silver - like many, I read this book during the month of December, and I finished it in maybe two days. I loved the writing style, and I felt like the storyline was unique. 10/10 recommend.

Me Before You (the trilogy) by Jojo Moyes - clearly this was going to be on the list. I'm actually reading the third and final book in the series called Still Me. I really liked After You, so I'm excited to see where Lou ends up.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan - this book was written so well, and I felt like I developed my vocabulary while reading it, which isn't always the case with romantic novels. Also, for whatever reason, I pictured Lucy Hale as Ella, which I think made the story that much more enjoyable. Ha!

What are some of your favorite romantic novels? I want to add them to my list!


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Thursday, January 31, 2019

reflecting on January 2019

Hi hi hi and goodbyeeee to January. How did that happen?


Guys, 2019 has already been life-changing for me, and we're only 31 days into the year. Within the first week of January, I took a leap of faith, put myself out there, and set something into motion that terrified me. In a nutshell, I've been a giant bag of emotions and stress for most of the month. I can't wait to officially share what's been happening, but I'm waiting to get a few more of my ducks in a row before I say it in my out loud voice (and nope, not pregnant, so let's get that out of the way!).

Isn't it crazy, though? How life can change so instantly. I know that's a cliché of sorts, and usually we address abrupt life changes in a negative light, but sometimes abrupt changes can be the greatest changes. Like waking up one morning, taking a pregnancy test, and finding out you're pregnant (again...not me, yet!). Or opening your email to find out you've landed a brand sponsorship that could really launch your blogging career. Or getting your dream job, or meeting the love of your life at a bar when you were thiiiis close not to going out with your friends that night.

I think the best part of exciting, abrupt life changes is when you can look back and actually pinpoint exactly when everything started changing and you didn't even realize it. Or even better, when you figure out that it was you who set you up for success, one small step at a time.

How has 2019 treated you so far? Or better yet, what have you set into motion for yourself in 2019?


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Monday, January 21, 2019

our engagement photos!

A couple months ago, we got to meet our wedding photographer, Emily Mathewson, and take our engagement photos! Despite having been a blogger for years on end, I've never actually had a professional photo shoot, so I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, Emily put us right at ease. She was super laid back, and even rolled with the punches when there was a giant event happening at our original shoot location and we couldn't find a single parking spot. Daylight burning, I was getting frantic, but she was cool as a cucumber. Within 10 minutes, we were parked and ready to roll.

(outfit details: some affiliate links used, which means i make a few cents if you purchase an item, at no additional cost to you). 

Outfit wise, I had a general idea of what I wanted to wear, which was both a blessing and a curse. Since I had something specific in mind, nothing I came across in stores and online quite measured up to the make-believe photo shoot outfits I had drafted up in my head. I was hoping for a floral wrap dress, which I thought would be pretty easy to find, but I couldn't find the "right" one. Sigh...first world problems. I ended up ordering this super popular dress from Lulu's in wine red for my "fancier" outfit, and scooped up this crop on sale. My jeans weren't on sale, but they are hands down the best high-waisted pair I've ever tried on. I'm generally a size 4-6, depending on the brand and fit, with a curvier booty and tummy, and these fit right over my hips perfectly.

I considered a whole bunch of photo shoot locations, but we ultimately decided that where we had our first kiss/where we got engaged felt the most sentimental and like "us." We had lunch for our first date at an Italian restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida called Bella Brava, and had our first kiss just a few steps down the street. Thus, we chose Bayshore Drive and North Straub Park for our photos. Despite the rapidly setting sun, our photographer, Emily Mathewson, was able to get some incredible shots, and we are so happy with the results!

Note: lots and lots of photos to follow! Nowhere near all of them, but just some of our favorites.

All photos taken by Emily Mathewson - Website | Instagram

































Can't wait to marry this guy in just 264 days!





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