A Creative Manifesto


Recently I went into a therapy appointment and I realized that not only was I in a creative rut, but I had been living in a creative rut for the past few years of running this little old business. You heard me right. I'm sure that if you don't have full fledged imposter syndrome, then you've read about it somewhere on the internet. I've got what my therapist refers to as that amplified. I finish a project and for about 10-15 minutes I believe in it fully. Then slowly, but surely I begin hating it most of the time. My clients, for the most part, are always very pleased with my work. They love it. They never see what I do. Which is great because it means I get to keep my job. 

For a long time I thought that that's just how the creative life worked. I thought that everyone was disappointed with their work all the time... and I'm still not convinced that there aren't more people out there like me. After explaining to my therapist how I feel, and then realizing that this feeling of not-quite-good-enough runs deep, she asked to see my work. She knew that I am not the kind of person who would accept a blanket I'm sure you're good. 

So I showed her. I knew she'd be honest. And she told me my work was stunning.

I know I showed her stunning work because the shoot I shared with her was the reason we were having this conversation. It was a shoot that I feel in love with from the moment the backdrop stand showed up at my door 30 minutes before call time (cutting close... we know) and the peach paper backdrop rolled through my door. I felt it with this. I felt good. I felt really really good about my job. It was this shoot with Betty Alida... in which I walked away from it feeling alive and even better... a sense of pride. Here are a few frames from that shoot. 

I wanted to feel the way I felt about these photos all the time. That's why I brought it all up to my therapist. So when she asked to see some of my work, even though I was nervous I knew that I was paying her to be honest to me and insight. I showed her the Betty Alida shoot, some photos from a wedding that I shot, some photos from 2 years ago and some photos from the week before, and she told me that my work was stunning. And I began to believe her because 1) I already knew I loved some of the images. 2) I knew she wasn't going to lie. That wouldn't get us anywhere. 

I want to create great work. I really do. But I don't want to feel like the ceiling is unreachable. I want to know that what I'm creating in the process of getting to really great is really good in the meantime. I want to feel confident in my abilities. I want to feel sufficient. I want to feel good about my work, the process, my abilities, all of it. 

When I left that therapy session she told me she wanted me to come up with a mantra for my creative life. 

I told her all about the fact that this years word of the year is flourish. And I'm trying even though it's taken on a completely different meaning than I'd hoped it would. It turns out, flourishing can be a fight. 

So I stressed over it. I thought about it long and hard. I tried desperately to figure out a few words that made me feel validated, efficient, good at my job, recognized the work I put in here, and would let me rest.

I couldn't come up with anything.

I was at Create + Cultivate's SxSW Pop Up and I saw a girl with a necklace that had my answer on it. I knew immediately that I had found what I was looking for.  

Overjoyed. 

That's what I want to strive for. It's an attitude, not a bench mark. I can be overjoyed in my ability even when I am not feeling it. I'm so happy that I get to do this job. I feel incredibly blessed that this whole thing is exactly what I'm willing to put into it + get out of it. I am overjoyed most of the time. Why shouldn't that translate into my work? 

I can be overjoyed with my job + the work that I'm producing even if I'm not 100% confident all the time. And being overjoyed with this whole thing seems great to me. 

The work I want to be actively produce is work that is joy-filled. If I show up, make the best that I possibly can out of the day, and work hard, then what's stopping me from claiming that? 

What's your creative mantra? If you don't have one then I want to challenge you: find a few words for yourself. Be really honest about the areas that you struggle in + try and define an attitude to overcome it. 

March Small Goals


I've already let social media know how crazy this week has been. If the fact that in pulling my goals over from the February blog post, I deleted the entire thing is any indicator-- then yes. It's been pretty un-great. I don't want to talk about that though. Let's talk about all the great things that happen in March! Like SxSW? In my opinion it's one of the coolest conferences that happen in the US and I might get to see my favorite political dreamboat Joe Biden speak! 

Before the deletion incident, I did manage to copy my goals over. Take that, bad luck! 

✔️️ 1) Get a tattoo.
✔️️ 2) Remix my current closet.
✔️️ 3) Do things (or prioritize working out in some manner every day.)
✔️️ 4) Celebrate Tucker + I's TENTH Valentine's together.
✔️️ 5) Attend two therapy appointments. 

YOU GUYS. I did all of these things! I completed my February goals! WOOHOO!

Life rules (remind of that later, okay?)!!

Instead of whining about this insane week, I'm just going to set some new goals and just get over myself.

1) SxSBEST
Yes, folks. The time is here. SxSW starts today and in a mere hour I'll be in the midst of it all picking up my badge and living life.
2) Put on happiness everyday. 
I have been in a bit of a slump lately. I remixed my closet and I still felt like I didn't love the way I look in my clothes. I'm going to try and put together outfits that make me feel good this month. 
3) Just keep swimming
I need to get back in the pool + get my workout routine back. I think about doing stuff everyday now, but it's time to ramp it up. For the next 10 days though it will probably be walking all around downtown. 
4) No fast food. 
Ugh. I'm going to regret this one. For the next 30 days though, SxSW included... no eating out of convenience. 
5) Mantra me, maybe?
Upon the request of my therapist, I need to find a creative mantra that embodies both what I do professionally + the grace I desperately need to give myself. 

What are your goals for March? Tell me, tell me! 

Life Lately + a Few Facts


From time to time I like show my face around here, and say hi!

The last time I did that I was fully mourning the loss of our sweet pup, and I thought it might be time to come back again and check in. 

Hello! Life lately has been busier than normal which is good. At last we left off everything felt kind of up in the air-- I didn't really know who I was outside of having to care for something so nonstop. In the month after Hank's passing I threw myself totally into work and in a way I'm really really glad that I did. I needed to feel like something needed me and it turns out it was myself. I needed me. 

I feel like the healing process has been slow, but I feel like myself again. It took almost 30 days to feel like me. I counted every last one of them. My husband, Tucker, and I just recently took a few days off to have a mini vacation in Austin (more on that later!) and I feel like I was able to take a break, investigate my feelings, and get honest with myself. It was a very healing, very tear filled, very relaxing few days. 


I've been wanting to write out a few weird facts about me on the blog for a while, and this feels like the right time, though I'm not quite sure why. Here goes nothing. 

1) I am a car singer... nay... performer. I dance, I belt, I do the key change eloquently to Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody." 

2) I am not tidy. I work consistently and constantly towards learning to be a more tidy, more organized person. I'm working with a personal organizer soon and I can't wait to share that with you.

3) I've never worked full time for someone other than myself since I graduated college and I've had at least a part time job since I was 15 years old. 

4) I always end up having heart to hearts with strangers-turned-new-acquaintances and I always ask them weird questions like "Who were you in High School?" and "What's your relationship with your mom like?" Those are by far my favorite questions to ask people.

5) I LOVE ASKING + ANSWERING QUESTIONS. Tucker and I play the questions game weekly, which is essentially just asking each other questions and answering them. Our entire relationship is founded on questions like "If you could only eat one topping on your pizza for the rest of your life, what would it be?" and "If you had a free ticket from Southwest Airlines that you had to buy today, where would you go?"

6) If you ask me where I'm from I'll get really confused and say Virginia and then correct myself and say North Carolina because I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT ANSWER IS. I was born and raised in North Carolina, but went to college in Virginia and spent a year or so after college there... and did the most of my growing up there. 

7) I thoroughly enjoy arriving to a meeting and the other person not showing up. I get to be the cool girl who remembers and attends all of her meetings, and BONUS, I get to figure out to do with an hour and a half of unoccupied time. It's blissful. If you're reading this and we have a meeting scheduled please still show up to our meeting! I'm running a tight ship over here! 

8) I have big retirement dreams that include living in a baby blue or light pink house that's on the coast of South Carolina (in Folly Beach!) I will also have a cat... and I have no interest in having a cat now so we'll see how things change between now and then.

9) My Christian faith is incredibly important to me and it is the reason I believe in basic human rights for all people regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or otherwise. 

10) I love Austin so much, and I moved here without a plan. I get so excited when people tell me about big moves in their life. When you know you need to move, you know. Even if it isn't super practical or super convenient. 

10b) I'm a firm believer that life works out. 

What about you? What's a fun fact about you? 

The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance: Don't Be Afraid to Say I Love You!


Welcome to The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance! It’s is a semi-frequent blog series about the lessons I've learned while suddenly working for myself. You can read the other sections about how I got started, finding my community, why money and I are friends now and why you should schedule your next vacation right now.

For the past two years of my life I've been working by my lonesome for my lonesome and I've been absolutely perplexed by the idea that a creative community must be cold and secretive. That's what I think of when I hear about professionals. That might not be what everyone thinks when they hear that word, but I don't I'm alone. I know I've felt out of place before. We've all felt that, right? We've shown up to an event and said hi to that cool person who didn't give us the time of day. We've all felt left out. We've all felt wholly unimpressive. There are a million and one reasons why those sorts of things happen, and this blog post isn't about that-- it's about attempting to be a more welcoming + dare I say it... affectionate creative. 

Today I want to talk about loving your fellow creatives. I know that seems like such a no brainer, but in my opinion it's one of the first areas of your creative life to get pushed out when the fog of comparison + imposter syndrome floods in. It's really easy to look at the person next to you and want what they have. I'm so guilty of that. I think we probably all are. Over the past year I've been actively battling that feeling and combatting it with one simple thought. When they succeed, we all move forward in a creative community. 

When she wins, I win. 

Here are a few things that you can do to spread some small business love around any time you're feeling like this industry feels too cold.

1) Go comment on 10 Instagram accounts or Facebook pages that you admire. 
2) Patronize a small business. 
3) Send emails to your small business pals (I always do this through their contact forms because that always seems fun!)
4) Write a few positive reviews on Facebook. 
5) Share their work.
6) Refer clients their way if it's a better fit (I know, this one's tough.)
7) Be vocal-- tell them in person what you like about their work. 
8) Always try to be kind to people who are new to your creative community. 
9) Take them coffee. 
10) When you're caught up on your own work, offer to run an errand for them. 

These are all things that I actively try to do. I once made my good friend Richelle a flyer to put up around her apartment complex advertising her dog running services after I plowed through my to-do list for the day. I try to make it a point to accept any coffee invitation that comes my way. You don't have to do them every single item on the list if you don't have resources (time, money... mostly time), but being a supportive creative will never damage your business. I always tell my husband that it's all just part of my business plan and it is-- these are the things that are important to me. I really want all of us to succeed. 

That's why I started hosting monthly networking mixers. I wanted to provide a place to introduce female entrepreneurs to one another, to introduce future clients to future freelancers, and to introduce future business best friends to each other. We hosted February's mixer at The South Congress Hotel and Cat Spring Yaupon Tea sponsored! It was an absolute blast! If you're interested in hosting, sponsoring or attending a future #atxconnectionmixer fill out the contact form below!

Name *
Name
Host, Sponsor or Attend? *
Which is it, ma'am?
In other words, what do you do? Not everyone gets on the invite list for every event-- so I tailor the guest list based on the hosts, sponsors and other attendees. This helps me figure out where to put you... like the sorting hat. 2 points to Gryffindor!

Creating a Happy Workspace with Love Ding


When it comes to being an organized adult, I am still very much learning. I knew that one of my priorities for this year was turning my workspace into a place that made me feel happy and capable. Doesn't that sound dreamy?

A few months ago, I met with Denise from Love Ding and talked about her on working on a office space re-do! She was on board and I was absolutely over the moon. I've known Denise for a while because she sells beautiful vintage or vintage inspired things, and I thoroughly enjoy buying those things. We're a match made in heaven. 

When talking about the space I realized there were several things that were really important to me. My endgame here was to have a beautiful space, yes, but my larger goal was to create an area that would make me feel peaceful + rejuvenated while I was working. 

Before my space felt cramped. It felt disorganized. It felt lifeless and it felt like it wasn't very... me. We sat out to create a space that was the opposite of all those things -- something unique to me, something functional, and something that felt alive, organized and welcoming. Here are a few tips that we kept in mind when helping create this happy little workspace. 

1) Thoughtfully figure out your storage. 

I have a lot of props, film, old checks, files, contracts, tchotchkes and other various things that needed space to live. I also have candles, matches and notebooks that have amassed in such large quantities that they needed a home, as well as a great deal of printed and instant photos. Denise found these gorgeous shelves, and a great wire grid. As far as practical solutions go, I realized that I needed to clear out some cubbies next to my desk to house things like my planner and my list pad. 

2) Sprinkle some inspiration throughout. 

I have always kept a little folder or box of inspiration that stores little clippings from magazines, vintage postcards, pretty invitations, stickers that don't have a home, and cards I've received in the mail. There are also a good deal of blurry photos in there too. In addition to adding in the wire grid, I recently purchased this curtain rod from Ikea that's minimal enough for me to use as a inspiration hanger. 

3) Incorporate things that are valuable to you. 

As I mentioned I like having photos on display, but I also have a few things that I wanted to incorporate into my workspace that are kind of random like a pinecone from the Blue Ridge Parkway, some brass animals that I purchased from Love Ding last year, a vase that I won in an Instagram giveaway from Javalina Ranch, and carved and painted donkey that I bought from my first visit to Rountop. These were the items that we based all the decor around. 

4) Add some life to the space (like a plant!)

The major thing that my last workspace lacked was life. I couldn't quite put my finger on what I was talking about until I realized that I hadn't added any plants. I had one little moment for a vase that I always had intentions of keeping fresh flowers in, but generally it leaned toward the dry + dying flower side. Denise and I worked together on this and decided that low key, hard to kill plants were the way to go. Eventually I think I might want to switch up the terra cotta, and add in some more brass -- like this planter from Love Ding

lovedingcollab-1-2.JPG
lovedingcc-12.JPG

Whats the most important feature for you when it comes to building a happy workspace? 

One Little Word for 2017


Necklace by Onastazia Designs!

Necklace by Onastazia Designs!

I feel as though I could talk about my word of the year for 2016 all day. My word was quality and it changed my life. 

It completely revolutionized the way I spent my time, money, and resources. I invested in furniture for our home instead of buying more clothes. Tucker and I spent less and better time together. We sought the best training possible for our sweet pupper. Not long after I wrote my blog post, we found a new home that was further away from the city than we'd wanted but far far better than we'd ever imagined being able to live in. The food we ate was better, or if it was fast food it was our top tier choices always. The things that we spent our excess spending money on became things like bicycles and memberships to the YMCA. And I learned so much about myself. 

All of that was great except for one little thing: It made figuring out my word for 2017 a huge pain. 

I started the way I always do. I sat some core ideas out, and I tried to draw a connection to a word that existed and was meant for me. And obviously that should have worked, right?

It didn't. Quality made it's self so apparent to me. I initially rejected it because it wasn't a cute word, but then I realized it was perfect and came to love the fact that it wasn't typical.

This year I had a few overarching goals that I wanted to accomplish and those began to steer the process of choosing my word. 


  1. I want to do well professionally and personally, and enjoy my life free of unnecessary stress and pressures. 
  2. I want to be outwardly grateful for the work I do and complete my tasks to the best of my ability while continually growing and improving. 
  3. I want to bloom and continue to learn who I am and what I enjoy.

The first word I came up with was harvest. I ordered my Giving Key necklace with the word inscribed on it and everything, but eventually it ended up feeling off in some ways. I still can't put my finger on exactly why, but it seemed to not imply the amount of work I was ready to put into 2017. 

I agonized over the process for about a month and a half, and the breakthrough happened in Nicole of Write's Like a Girl's car. I told her my discontent with my word, and she asked if I wanted to see her short list for the year and there it was. Staring back at me on her iPhone in a note. 

...flourish.

This year I want to flourish in every sense of the word. 

Flourish
n. flour.ish
1) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
2) an ornamental flowing curve in handwriting or scrollwork.
synonyms: grow, thrive, prosper, do well, bloom. 

It encompasses everything I want to accomplish this year both behind the camera and in my life. More than anything I just want to do well with the life I've been given, the talents I've been given and the resources I have. I always want to have habits in place to be continually learning and looking inward. 

So this year my word is flourish, and I'm so incredibly happy with it. 

Do you choose a word of the year? What did you choose? 

Life Lately


Life has such a funny way of catching you completely off guard doesn't it? 

To be totally honest 2017 has gotten off to a bit of a difficult start in my neck of the woods. 

I had every intention of starting this year off strong for my business.

I had every intention of starting this year off strong with myself. 

I had every intention of making 2017 work well for me from the very beginning. Don't we all? 

2017 has already been... a lot. 

As you may know already, if you follow along with me on Instagram at all, we had to put our beloved dog down just over a week ago. On Friday the 13th no less. Out of almost nowhere. 

I mean sure, we had a dog who clearly exhibited a great deal of aggressive behavior. And Sure, there was always a chance it could happen. Sure, he was getting unpredictable. But we were fighting so hard. But we had him in so much training. But we loved him so much the worst couldn't possibly happen, could it? I'm not going to go into too many details here because this is not about that.

But I will say that it all came out of nowhere and it felt (and honestly still feels) like a piano falling out of the sky. 

I was not prepared to handle our time with him ending so soon. 
How can you prepare to handle grief gracefully? 

And I've dreaded writing this since way before it happened. But I'm addressing it here for two reasons. 1) I feel like if I'm okay with sharing, and it could be helpful to someone, then I should share. 2) I mention Hank in all my goals for the new year, my 27 before 27, and I write about him here so much. I felt like like I needed to do tell you and I felt like this place was strong enough to handle it. 

I was already feeling off before the 13th and since the 13th I've been a little bit stuck trying to navigate being a person on the internet who has suffered a great personal loss. I'll probably write some about that later, but right now it's still very much happening. I'm still navigating it and feeling it out. I have learned, though, there is no wrong way to process something hard so long as you aren't harming yourself and others.

The past month has felt oftentimes like crash course in hope and that's where I'll go next.

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it’s destination full of hope.
— Maya Angelou
And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
— Romans 5:2
I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
”So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
— J.R.R. Tolkien

I've done a lot of praying in the past few weeks, more than I have in months. I consider myself to have a practice of prayer and gratitude, but I found myself praying multiple times an hour asking for the pain to be taken away. I prayed to forget. I prayed for things to be easy. I found these two quotes and this verse at separate times over the past three months but, they've meant more to me this past week than I can explain. This idea that we can be heartbroken but still throw the door open to discover grace staring back at us. The idea that love will find a way. The idea that we can accept ourselves when we're reluctant and broken. 

And through the prayer and the seeking there have been moments of happiness. 

And of joy.

And of peace. 

Cookies dropped off at our doorstep. Friends who find you in the Chipotle dining room with tears in your eyes and guacamole on you breath, and come inside just to hug you. Someone coming to pick you up and take you out of the house without you asking because they know you're having a hard time. $2.99 bouquets of flowers from Trader Joe's. New pillows for your bead (because you haven't had pillows on your bead in two years.) Sweet notes from sweet people. Texts from friends to just let you know they're there if you want to talk, but if not that's okay too. Don't worry about responding. You're going to get through this. It will all hurt less soon. Gift cards so we don't have to cook. Friends hiring someone to vacuum our house and clean our stovetop and make our beds. The new found ability to decorate things and make some place that you've called your home for a year really feel like your home, even though it feels so different. 

There is hope, even when you feel like a boat being tossed on waves of heartbreak.

I just wanted you to know that I'm still here. And I'm fine. And I'll be showing up.

And I've got a lot of really wonderful things coming down the pipeline for 2017, so you show up too, okay? 

  

January Small Goals!


January is in full force + I could not be happier y'all!

If you would have asked me two days ago if I was excited about the new month that's upon us, I would have told you I was really really trying to be. 

But today is a new day and today I am stoked about it!

A new month means it's time to set new small goals! For this set of tiny goals I decided to put my best foot forward and jumpstart the year focusing on a handful of the intentions I set for the year. I'll be telling you all about my word of the year and what I'm hoping 2017 will bring me, but for now I'll leave you with this: 2017 is going to be much more intentionally awesome than any year I've had yet. 

So what am I going to accomplish goals-wise in January? 

1) Get back into a gym routine. 

Yep. It's back to the ol' pool grind for me. I'm also thinking about going to a Zumba class at the Y as well! 

2) Read 5 books.

This year I'm trying to re-claim reading-- something that in the past has come to mean a lot of anxiety for me. 

3) Pay off at least $2000 on our credit card & end the month with a balanced budget. 

Between the holidays, a lot of unexpected dog expenses, and our own complete lack of attention to our finances, we've let our credit card payments go. This year we're going to pay that thing completely off (hopefully by April or May!) and we're starting with a bang!

4) Start Hank's adult basic obedience training classes.

Our good boy is about to get a lot better.

5) Begin Therapy!

I began the search for a therapist last month and I'm so excited for my initial consultation this month! If you're looking for a therapist, check out Nicole's post about how to find a therapist!

What's on your plate for the month? What small goals are you setting? 

The 2016 Anti Bucket List!


flowers 2.jpg
38140028.JPG

Greetings loved ones!

It's just about the time of year that everyone sets new resolutions + intentions for the new year at hand, and who am I kidding-- I'll be doing that too shortly. 

But first I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the past year. It's really easy to look back on a year an not know exactly what you did and why you should be proud. 

My sweet friend Nicole introduced me to the idea of the anti-bucket list. It serves as a little summation of all the things I ended up accomplishing, regardless of whether or not I sat out to do so in the first place. A lot of things can happen in a year, you know? 

  • I worked on 129 different paid projects over the past year. A thing that 2015 Chelsea would have never dreamed of. 
  • Wrote down goals for every month, and completed well over half of them. 
  • I learned to prioritize my health + I found a work out routine that works well for me. 
  • I expanded my culinary horizons and ate at a few great restaurants that would have once intimidated me (Like Olamaie!) 
  • I became a morning person. 
  • I addressed my own unhappiness with my job and faced huge scary thoughts like "Is this what I'm supposed to be doing?" and "Do I want to get a full time job?" The answers we're HECK YES, and HECK NO respectively. 
  • I learned that I had a voice on this little slice of internet heaven and I began to refine how to use it. 
  • I voted in an election that I cared deeply about. 
  • I shot the cover of a magazine!
  • I had my photos all over the place like in Tribeza, Austin Monthly, at Apartment Therapy, and in Forbes and Eater!
  • We finally faced our dog problems and Hank is on an aggression rehabilitation plan that's WORKING!
  • Tucker and I grew a ton in our relationship and learned a ton about each other. We've been together for nine and a half years y'all and if I could do it all over again the only thing I'd change is that I would have married that boy sooner. 
  • I shot for some awesome brands like 3M, She Shreds and Mashable at SxSW!
  • Tucker and I took a vacation to Big Bend and Marfa and I shot only film! 
  • I made a lot of really wonderful friends. 
  • I decided to implement a schedule and a set day off! 
  • I also sat a weekly co-working date with a business bestie and kept it for 3 months!
  • I hosted my first art show.
  • I drank approximately 400 cups of coffee. 
  • And last but not least, I ran my own photography business for a fully year as my full time job! 

What did you accomplish last year? I'd love to hear! 

27 Before 27!


Wow. I can't even believe that today is my birthday. It's so crazy to look back a year of life and realize that it's so much more than you felt like it was. This year when I picked out my birthday outfit I knew I wanted to go with something bold and something really really me. And somehow this year, the most 'Chelsea' birthday dress was a bronze skirt, a sequin body suit that I found from the found at one of my new favorite retailers Eloquii!

In a lot of ways this year was one of my most difficult yet. I dealt with a lot of things personally, the news has been increasingly heartbreaking, and I feel like I suffered more losses than I would have liked. I am so ready for 2017, and so ready for this next year of life. Last year I made a 26 small goals before 26 list, and here's how I did! Strike through items were not accomplished. 

1) Get at least two haircuts (up one from 25!) 2) Shoot a personal project a month. 3) Develop a fitness routine that I like. 4) Make blogging a priority. 5) Go to a conference. 6) Take Hank to obedience training. 7) Cook my way through a cookbook with Tucker. 8) Visit a state I've never been to before. 9) Pay off our credit card. 10) Bake cookies & mail them to my grandma. 11) Run a 5k (Oh God, I'm gonna regret this). 12) Shoot with a different camera every month. 13) Get rid of all of my shoes that don't make my feet happy. 14) Listen to more music & pick an album of the month. 15) Go on six trips in the next year for work, pleasure &/or reflection. 16) Get a tattoo. 17) Attend a concert of my choosing. 18) Make a living wage as a photographer while paying taxes & investing in my business!(!!!!!!) 19) Have dinner at 5 of Austin's best & most renowned restaurants. 20) Take a trip alone. 21) Find a hobby. 22) Compliment strangers more. 23) Dress in happiness daily. 24) Go on a trip for Chuckermoon 5!(!!!!!!!!) 25) Make date night a priority & invest in my marriage. 26) Plant some things & encourage them to grow.

When I was thinking about writing this post I felt very very sad about the things I didn't accomplish. I honestly though more than half of the list went unfinished. I'm pleasantly surprised that I managed to accomplish 17 out of 26 of them and I am so so proud of what I accomplished. 

I am so proud of myself for making it through this year with a smile on my face. Running and growing a business is no joke. Neither is figuring out what makes you happy, being in a growing and healthy relationship, or trying to stick to a budget. This year I was able to begin to figure out who I was as an adult. I found out that the things that make me personally happiest when I need to invest in myself are simple things like going for a swim, a Mexican coke, or going to see a movie alone. I found out I honestly don't enjoy reading that much because the process itself makes my anxiety skyrocket and that's a real thing. I figured out how to dress my body in a way that makes me happy. I know now that when I'm feeling sad, if I get in my car and sing something at the top of my lungs I'll feel better soon. I know that I'm a girl who can make stripes and polka dots look like neutrals. I also learned I am a woman who is in a wonderful relationship that needs to be continually cared for and improved upon, a lesson 16 year old Chelsea would have never quite understood or believed was possible. I learned how to feel confident running my own business and I learned that there is no room in my life for constantly worrying about whether or not I will fail at all this. I learned a lot this year, and I am just as dedicated to figuring out who 26 year old Chelsea Laine Francis is & what she likes. With that in mind, here are my goals for next year! 

1) Shoot something for a nationally distributed magazine. 
2) Get a tattoo. 
3) Swim weekly. 
4) Choose my hard. 
5) Continue to develop my own personal style. 
6) Go camping.
7) Cook my way through "Small Victories" with Tucker. 
8) Leave the state before Christmas. 
9) Do something out of my comfort zone once monthly. 
10) Try therapy. 
11) Take Hank to advanced training classes + aid in his rehabilitation. 
12) Get a tattoo. 
13) Learn to make croissants.
14) Say 'NO' more often and feel fine about it. 
15) Host 10 connection meet ups. 
16) Go to a conference.
17) Be conscious of my happiness. 
18) KonMari our home room by room. 
19) Go on four vacations, ideally a vacation quarterly, no matter how large scale or small scale it is. 
20) Commit to a gratitude journal for the entire year. 
21) Pay off our credit card. 
22) Learn to be more organized. 
23) Stick to a strict monthly budget for one month. 
24) Try a segmented schedule. 
25) Watch the Best Picture Nominees. 
26) Creative direct a shoot that I'm not behind the camera for. 
27) Continue to grow my business + my general happiness all at the same time. 

Outfit Details: 

Christmas Tradition!


If you can't tell by now, I am Christmas' #1 fan. As a child my mom always got super into it, and while she notoriously is a typical mom when it comes to gifts now (read small ceramic vases that say 'for my daughter') as a child she was Mrs. Claus. Theres one story that she loves to tell (and she'd be delighted to know that I was telling it here) in which she individually wrapped 50 pieces of Barbie clothing. She probably scored all of them for $25 because she's thrifty like that, but man. Christmas was the best growing up. 

...and it has only gotten better as an adult. Can you believe that? When I got married I hit the jackpot for a ton of reasons but one of the best is that I married into a big family that loves Christmas. Tucker's mom taught me the art of the press cookie early on, and she makes them every year. We go to his grandparents house on Christmas day, one set for breakfast and one set for lunch! My family usually has Christmas Eve on lock (yep, we're from the same hometown). It's all pretty great and pretty festive. And my favorite part? It's all steeped in tradition!

christmas2.jpg

There are two traditions that stand out as my absolute favorite though!

On Christmas Eve after everyone gets done doing their individual family stuff, we all go to Tucker's parent's house. We open one Christmas present on Christmas eve. There's usually a lot of coffee and a lot of cookies present for this. Everyone gathers around his parents living room, and by everyone I mean his 6 sisters, his oldest sister's 3 little boys, Tuck's parents, and the two of us that are lucky enough to have married in. And everyone open's their Christmas Eve present: PAJAMAS! Cozy, cute pajamas for everyone. We go change into them and we lounge around and hang out until it's time to go to sleep. 

The second thing that Tucker's family does a little differently is the Christmas stocking. When I was growing up the stocking was predominately for candy. It only happened on Christmas morning and it was always from Santa. As I got older, with my family, stockings went away. With Tucker's family we get stockings two or three times every year regardless of age. Tucker's mom has made everyone their own stocking out of old sweaters that match each of our personalities and it is way too precious for words. In Tucker's family the stocking is filled with small presents that are specifically tailored towards each person, and there's usually a level of practicality or personality with the presents! Cute socks, artisanal canned sodas, your favorite candies, makeup wipes, kitchen gadgets, books. I love it so much.

In the spirit of Francis family tradition, I rounded up a few presents that I want in my stocking this year, and the best part? They're all from Austin and they're all available for under $15 each!

Pecan, Cinnamon + Cardamom Collaboration Bars by Lick Honest Ice Creams + SRSLY Chocolate
Nice Butt Sticker + Girls Support Girls Enamel pin by Daisy Natives
Mini Notebook by May Designs
Caramels by Chocolaterie Tessa
Concrete Planter by Concrete Theory from The Paper + Craft Pantry
Giftcard + Enamel Pin from Alamo Drafthouse

This stocking has everything I love! A little bit of girl power and a great compliment, some tasty chocolates + caramels, something to house a plant (don't put a plant in a stocking with dirt in it! Dirt everywhere!) a gift card to my favorite movie theater, and a notebook to write down all my genius ideas for 2017! What more could a girl want?

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? 

December's #ATXconnectionmixer with Peached Social House, Argus Cidery and Mindy's Bakeshop


I was once sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops in Austin, waiting for a meeting, when I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. Turns out, she and I had been circling each other socially for the past year or so and it took a coffee date running late and some magazines to bring us together. This friend is an event planner. 

There was this other time that a now good friend reached out to me via Instagram to see if I might want to shoot photos for her blog sometime. This person just happened to be someone of substantial Instagram clout who I had been following for a year or so already. She's a blogger who also has a particular affinity for building up a community. 

How do I get these two people to meet? Particularly in a space that they may be able to use, together one day for a community building event? 

That's where my connection mixers come in. I feel like there are a million and one ways that creative people in Austin could meet, but just absolutely don't for some reason. An email introduction can be missed depending on the busy of the season and who has time to match every couple of friends up in person for coffee dates? Not me!  

This past Tuesday I hosted my third #atxconnectionmixer (currently taking suggestions for new names) with the help of a gorgeous + perfectly minimalistic social house in North Austin, a delicious cider company that's as delectable as it is beautiful, and a fantastic baker who is near and dear to my heart (and stomach). We had breakfast for dinner, we laughed over one giant long table, and I got to make introductions all afternoon long. 

A huge thank you to Argus Cidery, Mindy's Bakeshop and last but certainly not least Peached Social House for being so accommodating + helping me make an afternoon and December memorable. 

Christmas is coming! -- The 2017 Holiday Gift Guide 🎄

Welcome to the absolute best month of the year-- DECEMBER! December is a month chock full of so so many things that I absolutely love. My birthday is in December. Christmas is in December. We get to travel home to North Carolina and see mountains in December. Sweaters, hot beverages, gifting and baking are hallmarks of the season and y'all-- it's just my absolute favorite. 

To commemorate this wonderful season of goodness + gifty-ness I thought I'd bring back the gift guide! Last year I put together this guide that I am so so proud of to this day and it's BACK! Here are some of my favorite gifts that I'll definitely be giving this season, broken down by category with easy links so you can shop until your heart is content!

All the gift wrap featured in those post is by the amazingly talented Antiquaria Design!

Gifts for clients!

This is the first year that I've had to think about presents for clients and honestly it felt a bit like uncharted territory at first. When searching I was reminded of my favorite gifts I've ever been given by people I've worked with-- a small plant for my desk, a nice candle to burn while I relax and a notebook. That's how I started my search for the perfect client Christmas goodies and I found some really great things all for under $40 each. 

Customizable Notebooks by May Designs
Holiday Jam Sampler by Confituras
Reclaimed Wooden Tray from Love Ding by Infinite Abyss!
Cactus Business Card Wallet by All of the Abovely
Eucalyptus + Peppermint Bath Scrub by Little Batch Co


Gifts for yourself! 

I mentioned before that December is my favorite because it's my double whammy month-- I get Christmas and my birthday. Historically I get so overwhelmed with shopping for everyone else that when family or friends ask what I might want to be gifted I have no earthly idea. So in the spirit of that I began to compile a few gifts that I might want to for myself. This year was simple -- I wanted a leather bag, some earrings some perfume, something embroidered and, as always, a necklace from 31 Bits.  

Sacred Entry Earrings by Nina Berenato Jewelry
Women's Travel Tote by Esperos
Mystic Layers Necklace by 31 Bits
Scent Cocktail Kit by Commodity Goods
Space Case by Shop Realm


Gifts for your sister or bestie!

If you know me you know this is my absolute favorite category. I have some strong female friendships + sisterhood-ships in my life and gifting them is one of my greatest holiday joys. Every year I try to encourage + empower them with a little something. I try to buy gifts specifically from female owned + fronted businesses for them, and I try to enforce to them that they are capable of anything they might want to do. This year it seems like everyone has been able to use a dose of strength and happiness so I centered my gifts around that. 

Ecru + Matte Black Small Bracelet by Betty Alida
Classic Key Necklace by The Giving Keys
Cactus Botanical Tote Bag by Curious Prints
Rise + Grind Mug by Interlaced Goods
52 Lists of Happiness by Moorea Seal


Gifts for your significant other!

To put it bluntly: my husband is incredibly hard to shop for. That's how this whole category came about. Generally gift guides totally miss the mark on my fella. It's usually a sprinkling of mustache puns, plaid everything and quasi macho things and that's absolutely not what I wanted for my boo this year. These gifts could easily be gifted to any significant other and they are all companies that have a wide number of offerings. When I went to shop at these places there were very clear things that stood out and said 'Tucker Francis' to me and I think you'll find that true for you as well. 

Howdy Baseball Cap by Frankie Jean
Mid-century Silver Capped Glassware by Melody's Joy
Customizable Luggage Tag by Foto
Greenbelt Tee by Curious Ramblers
Dopp Kitt by Esperos
Orange + Clove Candle by Slow North


What are you gifting this year? What's on your Christmas wish list? I want to know!

+ Be on the lookout for some super fun Christmas giveaways this week. It's going to be a blast! 

Monday Funday!


Photo by Ideology Photography

Photo by Ideology Photography

Photo by Ideology Photography

Photo by Ideology Photography

For a while now I've been trying to develop a little catch all for the good stuff. A little catch up. I've always been a little bit reflective at the beginning of the week so we're going to try this for a while. 

What I'm Buying:

I've been doing some shopping! As you probably know, Tucker and I work on a pretty tight budget monthly. Lately fashion and dressing myself well has become really important to me. This month I spent almost my entire $186 budget on things that I feel like are going to be staples of winter wardrobe. Why $186? Because each month I get a $36 fitness + workout budget for my Y membership + $150 of fun money to spend on whatever. I'm great at referral programs (if you want to join the Austin YMCA, let me know!) and so I'm on a few months of free Y membership! 

Here's what I've purchased and what I have my eye on!

What I'm listening to: 

Well I'm glad you asked! This week I've been obsessed with a few new podcasts! I've listened to every single episode (there are only 10 and they're only about 20 minutes each!) of Do Listen Twice! It's a podcast buy This American Life of all of Mike Birbiglia's best podcast hits. It's really great if you're a comedy fan. 

I've also been a sucker for true crime this month, maybe I'm just riding all of the spooky vibes leftover from Halloween! Right now I'm listening to Up and Vanished on the recommendation of my fantastic photographer friend Laura Morsman! I'm also super into Crimetown, which is new and so good! There are only 2 episodes so start now! 

What I'm doing:

This week I've had the honor of shooting with three of my favorite human beings Writes Like a Girl, Glitter + Lazers and The Stylish Disaster! I don't shoot with bloggers a ton, but I love these girls and I fully believe in what they're doing so I'm in love with getting to hang out with them and create photos for them. I also shot a super fun feature for Selva Beat magazine's blog which I'm just absolutely dying over. Here are few of my favorite out takes from that shoot. 

What I'm scheming:

  • Financial, personal and non financial business goals for the new year.
    Last week I met with a good friend who should have a second career as a financial planner and she helped me pave a roadmap to success. I'm so so excited to sit down and make big plans for 2017 this week with all her advice in mind. This includes planning client presents, workshops + conferences, and rebranding! And of course all of my business stuff falls into my personal life: restructuring my work week, setting savings goals, and planning monthly rest breaks! 
     
  • Just how to expand my little corner of the internet here (this blog). 
    I love blogging. I always have. I had a Xanga in high school that I wrote on every single day. I had two Live Journals in college, one that I kept secret and wrote letters to a friend on. I've had this blog for almost three years, now. I love it and for a while I've felt sort of like it didn't fit my business model. A few weeks ago I took Maggie Gentry's OWN YOUR WHY workshop and I realized that it can fit if I want it to. So here I am, writing you love letters + letting you in on all of my secrets + not-really-secrets. 
     
  • Networking events in Austin. 
    Starting this past summer I began hosting invite only networking events in Austin. It is my pride and joy! I'm looking to expanding them into being monthly in 2017. If you want on an invite list, leave your email in the comments below!
     
  • The Holiday Gift Guide + Christmas giveaways galore. 
    Yes. Yep. You heard me right. I'm bringing the Holiday Gift Guide back. I'll be rounding up some of my favorite gifts of 2016 just in time for the Christmas shopping to start! This years catagories: Gifts for your sister/bestie, for yourself, for your significant other and for your clients! 
     

That's all for now, y'all! Happy Monday!

Olympic gold & why I like competition.


I've always been a huge fan of sporting events. I don't follow very many teams (except for the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Cubs) but I really enjoy watching professional athletes do what they do on a major stage. They train constantly. Their whole life revolves around their craft. Generally no one questions why they are as obsessed and invested in their careers, because somehow as a general population we understand: this is a huge opportunity and it demands your all. I understand being super invested in this way, but that is a blog for another day. 

There has been a rise in the creative community in talking about how comparison and competition is sort of a detriment to the creative process. But as someone who is absolutely invested in constantly moving forward and learning, I have to politely disagree in some cases. I know, I know... I'm causing a stir. Hear me out. It's not what you think. 

I wholeheartedly believe in competition. I believe that sometimes it is detrimental, but that sometimes it is beneficial. It's something that I haven't quite been able to rationalize because at first glance it seems to go against everything I hold dear: grace, sisterhood, forgiveness, lifting up your creative brothers and sisters, etc. But I've always known that these ideologies exist peacefully in my mind. I've always believed that some competition is healthy. Yes, I'm human, and comparison and competition get to me on occasion and breed very unproductive results. But in my time as a creative who makes money off of their work, a meager three years, I've realized that the only way I actually get better is by knowing what I'm up against. From this point I can work on making myself better and by doing so help strengthen the entire creative community. I choose to use competition as personal encouragement rather than a daunting measuring stick. 

I want to stop right here and totally denounce the kind of competition that makes you look at your fellow creative community member as your enemy. I assure you, they are not. But they may actually be better than you at a lot of things, and that might be something that you should listen to when you're ready. And I cannot stress that last part. You have to be ready to subjectively critique your work + your business practices. Okay, let's carry on. 

My breakthrough with all of this was this year at the 2016 summer olympics. Until this moment I didn't really have a physical example of team who competed both as a team and individually at the same time. Sure, in major league sports someone might be nominated as an MVP, but that's just one single player. 

The 2016 Women's Gymnastic team was made up of Laurie Hernandez, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and Madison Kocian. They competed together as a team, and they all walked away with a gold medal. Simone Biles, as fantastically brilliant as she is, could not have won the team gold medal herself even though she got gold in everything else that she did in Rio. Laurie Hernandez, who earned a Silver medal for her Balance Beam routine, earned a gold medal with her team because of her outstanding work. She was already a fantastic olympic athlete, but she achieved a higher medal when competing with her team. And these women compete in their individual events against their gold-medal winning team mates! How is that not the most difficult form of competition? How is that not a total cop out when you're training? My only possible answer-- being around the athletes that they know are the greatest in the world pushes them to be better. Competing against those athletes and taking a silver or a bronze medal, is still a great success. The only real competing you're doing is with yourself. You drive to make yourself better. You fight to be faster and stronger and you improve yourself. 

For me, competition and comparison (even though that word makes me feel cringey), just means pushing yourself to be better because you get to be in community with some of the greatest creatives in the world. 

To sum up here's a quote from Simone Biles that I love. 

A successful competition for me is always going out there and putting 100 percent into whatever I’m doing.

In my experience it is never a mistake to align yourself with the best. Work alongside them, build them up and continue moving forward. That's how we all advance. That's how we work every day to make sure we make our better our best. 

Small Goals: November!


Photo by Ideology Photography. 

It's a new month which means I've got new goals in mind! After the absolute whirlwind that was last week, let's just say I'm ready to look ahead and be hopeful. November is my second favorite month, with December being #1 and January being #3 so let's just say I'm a little excited about what's in store.  Lets check in and see how I did with last month's list!

1) Try a new work-out routine. // DID IT! I tried a new workout class and tried some reward systems. Aqua Yoga's #1 fan right here. 
2) Write things down more. // DID IT! And I ordered some new May books to boot!
3) Sell some clothes and some camera equipment. Maybe to Uptown Cheapskate? Maybe on Poshmark? // NOPE! Totally forgot about this one. Moving it to next month. 
4) File my taxes. // DID IT! 
5) Channel my inspiration into a mood board. // DID IT! I channelled it into a hanging inspiration installation. 

I just realized that it's been an entire year of setting goals and taking names. Can you believe that? Here are my big goals for November!

1) Create a gift guide for the holidays. 
2) Re-vamp my website + finish my branding. 
3) Sell some clothes and camera equipment. 
4) Fill out my worksheet packet from Own Your Why.
5) Begin my 27 before 27 list (and finally run the dang 5k). 

What's on your goal list? Let me know in the comments below! 

Just in case you think I have my life together.

Yesterday my good friend Writes Like a Girl wrote a brilliant blog and well... I was inspired to write my own version of it. 


jesterking-24.jpg

I honestly don't know if my dog loves me or hates me. I know that you're inclined to say that he loves me and that's true 99% of the time, but the other 1% is literally an 80lb dog who is convinced that I will steal his toy/food/toilet paper ball/piece of kale. He thinks that after I do that he will inevitably starve to death and die. He will protect his 'resource', as the professionals call it, at all cost even if that means biting his mom, whom he loves the other 99% of the time. I can't for the life of me bring myself to get rid of him because I know what that means. And a small part of me knows that a very small part of the reason I can't bring myself to get rid of him is that I'd have to explain it on the internet. And I can't for the life of me get my father's voice out of my head either-- "He's a wild animal, Chelsea. You can't trust him." But he has to know that I trust him or that makes him feel insecure about his "resources". He may not love me 100% but I realize that the sheer time I spend thinking about him and his security and whether or not he loves me indicates that I love him. 

Sometimes I look around the room and wonder how all the stuff that I've left lying around got there. Why that cool Swedish designed brush I bought from Ikea for $3.99 is lying on top of my desktop keyboard. Right now there are 6 cups sitting around me as I sit in the living room floor at my laptop. Only 4 of the 6 cups are mine. And 2 are from today. So that's not that bad, is it? It is. I'm just not naturally a very tidy person. I actually have to work really hard at it. And on weeks when I'm busy? It's the first thing I stop working hard at. 

I try everyday to stay hydrated and for some reason it feels damn near impossible to actually do. I just don't think about drinking water that often, though I should. I only think about drinking water when I'm swimming in a pool alone and bored. But I can't drink it because it's sitting on a bench forever away from me. My husband is super good at being hydrated. He's actually super good at most things. I really love water. I enjoy drinking water, but the task of actually making myself drink a certain amount is something that I have to constantly train my brain to do. 

To sum up in the words of Nicole:

I'm just saying, as a reminder, Instagram is far from real life. If you've ever looked at my feed and thought, "wow, Nicole (or Chelsea!) sure does have her life together," be warned that I do not. I have no idea what I'm doing the majority of the time -- just like everyone else!

 

The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance 005: On Being a Supportive Creative


Welcome to The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance! It’s is a semi-frequent blog series about the lessons I've learned while suddenly working for myself. You can read the other sections about how I got started, finding my community, why money and I are friends now and why you should schedule your next vacation right now.

EsbySelects-3.jpg

When I moved to Austin, TX I knew no one. All I had in my corner was the internet, a year's worth of shooting photos. I began scouring the internet for people who looked cool and like they might want to hop in front of my camera, and because the Lord is good I somehow landed a coffee date with Nicole Seligman of Writes Like a Girl. She did as many Austinites do, and she introduced me to other people that I should know. She opened up doors for me that I could not open myself. She was supportive in every way that she knew how to be. Her kindness towards me as a business meant more to me than I could ever express and I vowed that I would run a business that operated in that way -- a way that builds others up. 

I've been thinking about being a supportive creative a lot lately. I've been talking about it with a lot of close friends.

1) Vote with your money.

I feel like this goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. Buy things from your friends. When you gift, gift with intention. Use the services of those close to you when you can. It doesn't have to be all the time, but just be mindful. Sometimes the most practical way to support someone is to vote with your money. Vote for your friends. 

2) Share the cool stuff that they're doing. 

If you think something they're doing is neat, but you don't have a need or money for it? Share it on social media if it's appropriate for the situation. Tell your friends about your sister-in-law's mini sessions. 

3) Introduce them to other cool creative friends. 

If you know someone your creative friend should know, bridge the gap! Last week I was meeting a friend for coffee and she disclosed to me that she was a writer. I immediately thought of introducing her to a friend, who was an editor of a magazine that was looking for contributors. A few minutes later the editor friend walked through the door of the coffee shop and I was able to introduce them on the spot. Sometimes you get to introduce people in person, other times you get to do it via email. The important thing is making the connection. It takes less than 30 seconds to potentially help a friend further their business goals. 

4) When you can, pass work to someone in your field that's a better fit. 

This is a tough one because at first glance it may seem counter-intuitive, but know what you do well and pass the rest. I thoroughly enjoy my work. Being behind the camera makes me feel super alive. But being behind the camera doing HDR real estate photography makes me feel sick to my stomach. Why? Because a) I don't enjoy it and b) I'm not good at it because it isn't something I enjoy. I make a habit of passing good work that I wouldn't excel at to fellow photographers. I am also grateful to get referrals from both clients and photographers. You will make better work for clients that you should be working with. A good friend shared this quote from one of her friends with me and I've been thinking about it non-stop: 

Every job you take should have at least two of the following components: 1) Good people. 2) Interesting work. 3) Great pay.

If the work isn't interesting to you for the pay that it would take you to be interested in it, pass it! Give someone else the opportunity to choose. 

5) Show up. 

Whether it's an art show, a free workshop, a sidewalk sale or their wedding -- when it's possible go to their events! A lot of work goes into planning things like that and sometimes your attendance really can make all the difference. 

6) Share your knowledge!

This has been one of the most rewarding things for me lately. Three sweet gals reached out to me this year and asked if I wanted to mentor them and I said yes. Did I have time? Not really, but I made it because that's something that's always been on my bucket list. I got to see great improvements in these ladies' work and I got to support them in making their dreams come true and that has been the best. I also get to write stuff like this for people like you which is awesome.  

The Importance of Dressing Yourself


To be honest, this is something I never anticipated to be writing. But after the gentle nudging of a few friends, and the realization of what a difference this has made in my life, I thought it was time I took a shot at it. 

I've always been me. I've been plus size for most of my life, and to be honest it's never affected how I dressed myself. Sure, clothes are much harder to buy. Sure, I'm sometimes super self conscious. Sure, sometimes I look at myself and I don't see what other people do whether for good or bad. But honestly into my teenage years and my adulthood, I didn't want to bother with how I presented myself. I bought clothes that fit. And slowly I began this decline into feeling less and less like myself. Getting dressed in the morning became taxing, when my jeans felt too tight it felt like an attack on my soul, and all of the plus size bloggers felt like the way that they dressed was unattainable. 

When I turned 25 I made a 26 before 26 list and on it I put that I wanted to 'Dress in Happiness' daily. This was I project that I followed for the past year by Natalie Creates in which she got dressed fully every day and began to realize that there was a direct correlation with putting on a good outfit and feeling great. In one blog post she mentions that a few things happened to her. She said that it was transformative to her spirit and her work ethic and she 1) felt pretty. 2) felt ready what would be ahead. 3) felt capable. 4) felt that she was worth it. 

Those were things I desperately wanted in my own life. Natalie, through her project, also ended up prioritizing her health and wellness resulting in a fitness and weight loss journey. I found that deciding to honor my body by dressing it well, I also wanted to do good things for it. In this past year not only have I developed a personal style, I've found many different things I enjoy doing for exercise, I've prioritized hydration, and I've began to focus on nutrition as well. Yes, I've lost some weight, but honestly that's no longer important when compared to the fact that I feel good. I feel good in my skin. I feel good in my style. I feel good being me.

Even when I put on stretchy pants and a t-shirt, the outfit feels put together and cohesive because it is. I try not to wear things that I don't love or feel great in. I try to buy things that I absolutely love and work with people that I absolutely love. Dressing myself well has infiltrated every area of my life. 

I also found rebuilding a wardrobe on a budget fun and exciting! I began investing in pieces that I knew would last for a long time, like this great hat from Goorin Brothers! Then by using local thrift stores and online retailers like Thred Up (where this great denim shirt is from!) I am able to continue constantly evolving my closet as the seasons change along with my body and my style. 

How do you feel about personal style? Is it something you're scared to conquer or are you the queen of your domain? 

 

Hat: Goorin Brothers (link to the brown version) 
Top: Denim shirt by Old Navy c/o Thred Up (Use code: PLUS50 for 50% off plus size clothing for first time orders!) 
Dress: Lularoe Nicole c/o Megan Mcclary
Necklace: Shaman's Medallion c/o Psyche Jewelry
Boots: Thrifted at Style Encore, by Joie



 

Small Goals: October


In the words of the amazingly indescribable Anne of Green Gables, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

It's here! Pumpkin everything, cooler weather EVEN IN TEXAS, and the best of all -- soup season! 

I love October more than I could possibly express to you. I love feeling the air change. Though it's always bittersweet in Texas because the leaves changing is something I miss terribly. September was full of good stuff. I hosted a wonderful workshop at The Paper + Craft Pantry, I visited Round Top, Texas, I started hosting one on one marketing + social media classes and I felt like I finally had some progress health wise. This month ended feeling like a win, even though parts of it were low + stressful. 

1) Get back in the habit of swimming regularly. 
Sort of kind of? at the end of the month I recommitted to making health a part of my daily routine. and in October I'm going to try biking! 

2) Blog more & contribute to another blog. 
DONE! I blogged fairly regularly here with my new goals in mind + I wrote this blog on scheduling for The Paper + Craft Pantry. 

3) Buy some clothes that make me feel good. 
You guys. This is a big deal and I'm super happy about it. One of my only fitness goals was to fit into jeans sold in store at Old Navy and I BOUGHT 5 pairs (for 10 dollars, too, thanks clearance!) 

4) Find a new hydration app and STAY HYDRATED. 
I didn't find an app but I did recommit myself to hydrating. So there's that! 

5) Fill up 2 new recipe cards with ✨new✨ recipes I like.
I bought this recipe book from Julia Turshen instead and so far my favorites are the Turkey Meatballs, Indecision Chicken + her amazingly incredible Jam Buns! 

For October my goals look a little something like this... 

1) Try a new work-out routine. 
2) Write things down more. 
3) Sell some clothes and some camera equipment. Maybe to Uptown Cheapskate? Maybe on Poshmark? 
4) File my taxes. 
5) Channel my inspiration into a mood board.