A Body at 26

I should have known that trying to build up routines around my diet, fitness, skincare, mental/emotional development, etc. would lead me down a rabbit hole of Pinterest research and near-blind google searches.

My 26th birthday in 2017 came with a sudden appearance of fine lines between my eyebrows and little wrinkles under my eyes and–wouldn’t you know? My maternal genetic heirloom of varicose veins are also beginning to bloom.

Heading towards 30 feels a lot like a second puberty.

I know it’s natural and wonderful for my body to change, aging is a beautiful process and I’m lucky to continue living in this mortal shell for as long as I can, especially in the relative good health.

I recognize I’ve been dealt a really good hand. My body responds quickly to new, healthy routines by tightening up and perking up without too much effort. My skin is predisposed to being clear and unproblematic. Besides my pesky anxiety disorder, I have no chronic health conditions and even my periods are pretty manageable. I don’t love my hair, but it’s really fine, all considered.

All of that to say, I know I’ve got plenty of privilege already, so I’m not here for a “woe is me” session.

In fact, it’s the deep knowing that I am not dealing with any of the challenges so many other people (specifically women) face that has made me pretty shy to ask for guidance or even go to the doctor’s office for the smallest things as I sense my body changing.

Really, I’m fine. I can manage. It’s not worth the fuss.

But, honestly, there are a lot of things I’ve half-assed in the forever-young and carefree ways of a 20-something millennial. Now at 26, it’s clear to me that if I want to continue this relatively low-maintenance existence into my golden years, I’ve got to start some preventative and preservative routines.

Since I’m sinking a lot of time and effort into the research, I figure I’ll take you fine friends/readers along for the journey, in case you too are inching towards 30 without a night serum or a daily stretching routine.

Where to Start

If you’ve been living life like it’s one long happy hour or weekend like I have been for the past five or six years, waking up to the realization that you won’t always be young and beautiful (a la Lana Del Rey’s hit song from the Great Gatsby) in the age of Instagram gurus and SELF CARE and Goop and Whole30 can be demoralizing at best, absolutely terrifying at worst.

Between being on Pinterest long enough to have seen it all already and my experience with one really unhelpful friend who tried to “coach” me into holistic wellness when I was just so not ready for that transition that I am, by default, paranoid and halfway over it already.

It took getting some distance from what I had been consuming on the internet and removing myself from unhelpful and unhealthy environments/relationships for me understand what I want to maintain about my youthful existence and how I want to age.

QUESTION: What would you be sad to wake up and realize you’d lost because you weren’t taking care of yourself?

ANSWER: My unproblematic skin and the current distribution of fat and muscle on my skeleton.

QUESTION: How do you want to age? What kind of beautiful would you like to be at 30, 40, 50 and beyond?

ANSWER: I want to stay strong enough to stay active. I’d like to age gracefully, meaning I don’t plan on dying my hair if (when?) it goes grey and I would rather spend my money on things other than cosmetic surgery (although I do not have anything against people who do spend their money that way!)

WHERE TO START: Skincare and exercise. Also, I need to read more books and look at screen less.

So that’s where I’m starting. Skincare. Exercise. Reading.


Here’s my starting point for skincare:

  • Established good thing: I already wear sunscreen any day I plan to leave the house or walk outside. It’s EWG certified and budget-friendly. Proud of developing this habit in 2017. Also, I wear try to wear hats if I’m adventuring outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Habit to develop: taking my makeup/sunscreen off EVERY NIGHT before bed. I do it most nights but… not as often as I should. This is vital (or so I’m told.)
  • New stuff, phase 1: Toner before moisturizing. I stocked up on Pixi glow tonic because it’s cruelty free and budget-friendly. I also have a backlog of cotton balls to use up while I knit myself some reusable cotton beauty pads and face cloths.
  • New stuff, phase 2: night serum + silk pillowcase. Probably going with Moonlit Skincare because I trust CB and I love lavender stuff.  
  • Seeking expert advice: I want to make an appointment at a nice spa or a dermatologist to make sure I’m using the right kind of cleansers for my skin and that none of my beloved freckles are in danger of morphing into skin cancer.

DON’T GET CRAZY: I had to stop myself from buying an ENTIRE kit and kaboodle’s worth of AM/PM skin care. Why? It’s expensive and I have not done nearly enough research yet to know what would be the best choice for me. Besides, I have plenty of moisturizer and cleanser at home that I can use up in the meantime. I also have to routinely tell myself to CHILL when I start looking at jade face rollers or fancy face masks.


Here’s my starting point for exercise:

  • Established good thing: I don’t follow fitness accounts that make me feel like garbage. I have basic mobility and understanding of fitness terms. I have a few go-to exercises that I can manage without much fuss. I am up to 3 workouts at home per week. I’m a devotee of Claire Fountain and her chill, no-nonsense approach to strength and softness and researching every damn thing before investing.
  • Habit to develop: I would like to move or stretch every day. Not always a hard workout (as was prescribed by some of my early attempts at getting in shape), but at least a walk or some sun salutations.
  • New stuff, phase 1: My planned reward for working out 4 times per week in March is getting myself Claire’s Built & Bendy 2.0 program. I’ve followed her for years and cannot wait to finally invest in her work.
  • New stuff, phase 2: Join a gym, probably the new YMCA, for weight access and cardio motivation. Also, I need to meet new people and it’s an easy way to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law.
  • Seeking expert advice: Going to a GP and getting some recommendations for generally diet and nutrition guidelines.

DON’T GET CRAZY: I’m not pairing this exercise ramp up with a huge diet change. I’m pretty happy with how I eat, I’m not trying to lose weight and I know that once I get moving more often, my body will tell me what it needs. I’m also not buying a cute new blender (even though I really want one) or stocking up on fancy protein powder. I’m going to use up the stuff I have already and make sure that my routine makes sense before I sink a lot of time and money into overhauling my kitchen.


Reading is a much shorter process, but I’ll share it to.

  • Tracking screen time with Moment.
  • Made a goal for less than 3 hours of screen time per day.
  • Have to fill that mindless scrolling time with something, why not MORE BOOKS?
  • I try to read while I eat and before bed instead of scrolling.
  • I want to have a “phone free morning” eventually, but I think I’ll have to get a watch and an alarm clock to make that a reality. That’ll be the next phase.

I’m working on a worksheet/journal prompts for y’all if you want to investigate this weird phase of life for yourself! I’d love to talk about it with you if you need a sympathetic ear.

No matter what phase you’re in, you’re wonderful and I love you! Thanks for reading. xo

Striving vs. Thriving

I feel like I’ve been running on survival mode for months. Maybe years.

One of the big worries for a while has been trying to “thrive” where I am. How do you get around to “living your best life” when you’re hardly paying your bills every month and you’re constantly moving or dealing with death or managing your mental illness? Who has time for thriving? Does that mean you’re failing if you’re not?

I’ve finally reached some kind of plateau in my life. Conceded a few good fights, surrendered to the reality of situations that ultimately broke my heart, allowed myself the space to sleep and cry and eat my mom’s cooking for a few weeks without feeling like a slob.

I woke up today and wondered what it will be like to thrive now that I’m in a place to do so. What kind of different creature will I have morph into to be more at peace with myself? I keep seeing butterflies in my tarot readings. I want that transformation. I know it feels more like molting, like a snakeskin in a place it shouldn’t be.

What I’m reminded of every morning, as I move through my regimen of making my bed and making coffee and making myself sit down to journal, even when I don’t want to, is that this is the molting, morphing creature now.

Striving. A more aggressive, active, sweaty version of thriving. Trying to revel in the doing instead of in the being. Verbs instead of adjectives.

I try to be grateful that I’ve finally got the energy and the fortitude to give my life the forward motion I’ve been craving. It feels like I’ve spent months building momentum, regaining muscle mass behind my willpower and my motivation and my confidence.

I have to actively forgive myself throughout the day when things don’t work perfectly. I have to be kinder, set myself up for success instead of failure to meet impossible standards. I leave more space for bad days.

It’s not sexy. I know you’re all probably sick of me saying stuff like that, but for such a long time I wanted everything to click. I wanted to be able to wrap my perfect days up in silk ribbons and lay them in the archive of my life like rewards for just waking up every day.

The internet likes to tell us we deserve that, when in reality, we earn a few perfect days and the rest are work. That’s okay. There is plenty of nobility and beauty in that.

The fact is that I was never going to get more of those perfect days if I didn’t start doing things differently. I had to accept what wasn’t working.  I had to accept that I wasn’t doing enough to get the results I want to see.


Being a Better Boss

I’ll admit here that the big relief that’s fueling this post today is that a client payment I’ve been waiting on has finally come through and I’m able to rebuild my life this week on a solid foundation of cash. I was very excited to catch up on bills and run errands.

Being your own boss sounds really great and it can be fun, if you’re willing to accept that you trade fun for funds and that your money problems (and ultimately the majority of your life’s stressors) are absolutely your own fault, always.

I’ve basically been treating myself like an unpaid, unsupervised intern for about a year. I get my work done because I’m smart and I want to do good work for my clients, but behind the scenes? Things have been an utter mess.

I don’t have systems, I barely have a schedule, “goal setting” has been nothing more than an excuse to spend an afternoon drawing with markers and designing cute stuff in Canva. I’m not following up on them, I’m not staying accountable to myself, I’m not reprimanding myself when I don’t hit the milestones I say that I need and want.

So now, things change.

There will be longer days, less goofing off, more real work, less wishful thinking and more follow through. I’ve designed this month to be tougher on myself than any month before, but I’m also actively planning to take Fridays “off” for fun, creative projects or collaborations.

Knowing that my days and ultimately my future success relies on my ass getting out of bed at 6am four days a week means that I have to get to sleep by 10pm four nights a week. It means I can’t look at my phone for half an hour before rolling out of bed or when I get discouraged half way through the morning. It means I have to be efficient and purposeful with how I move from one task to the other if I intend to get everything done.

The biggest challenge is accepting that I’m not always going to be happy while I’m at my computer and that some days are going to totally suck, but I’m responsible for showing up on bad days too. I’m in control of the situation and the only person I can come to if I fail is myself.

I made it over a year doing it the old way. I honestly am shocked that I made it this far without giving up on myself, but now I can only imagine what the next year will look like if I actually show up and do the work.

As for life outside billable hours, I’m working from the knowledge that how I wake up and spend my free time and attend to my spiritual/emotional needs is directly tied to the results of my work. My success with work allows me the freedom and resources to attend to my spiritual and emotional needs. It’s all connected.

I still plan to check in here at the end of every week as an act of accountability. I want to document the process and be able to trace the progress later in the year. Maybe one day all of these posts about the growth and the changes will become a resource for someone else that needs to hear the other kind of truth, that doesn’t want to ache for thriving but is striving to just show up to the work every day.

Spread Too Thin

I had a pretty big epiphany the other day regarding the way I work every day. Namely, how I seem to always be working but never getting closer to my goals or accomplishing much of anything at all.

I don’t know if it was not drinking for a few days or being flat broke once again, but it hit me as I was getting ready for bed that I’m only putting about 50% effort into my two main goals and not putting 100% into anything at all.

When I worked with my amazing and wonderful business coach, I gave her two “long-term” goals for my dream work life.

  1. I work 50% of the time with content and strategy clients that I love and the other 50% of the time is spent pursuing creative/journalistic writing opportunities.
  2. My income is $70,000 a year and I’ve paid off my car and credit cards by the time I’m 30.

When I had two long term clients at once, with a healthy amount of work and income, it was easy to maintain that 50/50 split between writer dreams and business dreams. It felt like I was making fine progress towards both of those goals.

But now that things have shifted with my client work, I’ve spent about a month trying to get some momentum on the business side of things but I wasn’t getting anywhere. At the end of every day, I had some major task I’d “run out of time” for or otherwise avoided.

I just felt stressed, exhausted, insecure and overwhelmed every day.

When I had the epiphany, I realized it was because when I’m in the pitching and inquiry phases of both business and writing dreams, I’m just stuck in the fear and imposter syndrome all day, every day.

I wasn’t focusing on either thing long enough to get a momentum or make any real progress because my motivation and willpower was split.

What I had finally realized was that I can’t devote 50% of my work day to writing goals when I’m not making a living. It’s not sustainable and it’s not conducive to me getting anything creative accomplished.

I’d been ballsy in asking around about tips for pitching companies and how to get the gigs without turning into an utter slime ball from some of my absolute biggest role models on the internet. They gave me amazing advice, but I realized that the only cure of making this work wasn’t phrasing the emails just so or picking the right time of day to send a pitch, it was actually just doing the work consistently.

I knew the same thing was true about any writing gigs I’ve had my eye on. There was no way I was going to be as successful as I hoped to be if I wasn’t devoting serious time and energy to developing queries and getting them out the door.

The reality is that I can’t get both of those things moving at the same time. It’s like trying to push two shopping carts or swings at once. Not going anywhere fast.

So, what I’m going to do is this:

  • Focus 100% on my business dreams until June 30.
  • Limit writing to a before/after “office hours” pursuit, with a focus on reading and writing to develop my voice and work through some of my blocks.
  • Check in via this blog every week to give an update on how all of my goals are going and what I’ve been working on.
  • Publish an almost TMI report once a month on what goals (both professional and personal) I hit, which ones I didn’t and what’s working/what’s not.
  • I’ll also probably start sharing tools and resources that work for me via an email newsletter of some kind or a Patreon feed, but I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

I don’t know if any of this will be useful to you, but hopefully it will be.

This isn’t to say that I’m giving up on being a writer. I’m still journaling daily, writing for this blog daily, reading daily. Eventually I’ll start submitting pieces to publications for consideration, but I want to take it easy and focus 100% of my “office hours” on my business for the next few months.


Freedom, Stereotypes and Why I’m Moving Back Home

If you haven’t heard, I’m moving again. But this time, I’m temporarily moving back to my hometown of Pensacola after living in Tallahassee for 8 years.

I want to talk about freedom.

My teacher/long-distance mentor by way of her Inner Circle group, Tiffany Han, has been preaching about flow and letting go of what isn’t serving our creative work for over a year now and I’m finally at a crossroads in my life where I have to embrace that.

A lot of things in my life have stopped working. Or they don’t work as well as they could. Or I know I could have better, if I just made a decision to change.

When she asked us “What feels like freedom?” recently, it scared the shit out of me when my subconscious bubbled up MONEY. MONEY FEELS LIKE FREEDOM.

The biggest confession that I have not wanted to tell people is that my relationship with money is terrible. I’ve got hang ups about earning it, I’ve got bad habits around spending it, there is all sorts of emotional baggage bursting at the seams with money problems.

I know I’ve written about being bad with money before and I’ll write more about my personal money rehab plan later, but let me simplify:

Every time I’ve come close to being financially solvent or decently stabilized in the financial area of my life, I move. For some reason or another, renting has always managed to suck my measly savings dryer than a creek bed in August.

It’s not pretty, but I also know that’s a choice I continued to make. Over and over again.

For me, living on my own has been the benchmark of “making it.” And not just living on my own, but in a nice place that I feel comfortable in–budget be damned.

That’s been fine and well until the end of my current lease started staring me in the face.

For many reasons, the idea of renewing my current lease or signing another made me panic.

The biggest reason for the panic was the money. I didn’t want to sink it all back in to another lease, just to repeat the cycle again in 6 months, a year?

I wanted a fucking break.

That’s what felt like freedom.

No deposit, no application fee, no first and last month rent due on signing, no electricity deposit, no utility bill, no Comcast bill.

Also, no getting ousted from a property on the whim of a landlord. (It’s happened a few times.) No year-long commitment to a city or a neighborhood or a zip code.

So, I’m going to be staying at with my mom for a while.

When I type that I feel a little queasy because I know the stereotype. I don’t want to be seen as a failure, or a flake, or a loser.

Because I’m not. I’m lucky to have a hometown that I love, brimming with support and possibilities and opportunities that will welcome me back with open arms while I take a few months to explore what I want to do next.

The truth is: I didn’t want to just land in the next house in Tallahassee. I don’t want to just do stuff for appearance’s sake. I don’t want to keep defaulting to this version of my life.

But you know what I also realized?

The trappings of living on my own are distracting me from the personal and professional and creative work I want to focus on. I’ve been trying for years now to succeed professionally, grow personally, improve creatively–all while trying to take care of house and bills all on my own.

Hi, I’m Stephanie and I’d like to tell you it’s not working for me anymore.

Trying to do it all at once. It’s not working. It’s not serving me.

So I’m giving up the one thing I’ve been clinging to as my mantle of BADASS, INDEPENDENT CREATIVE WOMAN MAKING SHIT HAPPEN. To, I dunno, actually be a badass, independent creative woman who makes shit happen.

How did I get to this point? It doesn’t feel like a rock bottom. It feels like when you’re digging in the sand at the beach and you’ve stopped paying attention to the tide and suddenly there’s water filling up your pit and you’re a few minutes away from the whole afternoon’s effort being washed back into the flat, soft shoreline. Nothing to see here.

What was the purpose of the digging? The striving? The work and the grit? For what?

I really thought if I just kept going, if I could keep my head above water, then that was success.

If I just didn’t stop, no one could point at me and say that I failed.

But they also couldn’t point at me and say I was a success.

When I look back at the past few years, they look totally fine on paper. They really do.

But I look at these years and know I could have done more. I see where I could have raised my white flag, surrendered to the pleading of my heart to just rest and refocus. Just for a second, just to reload and restrategize.

I’m not going to be ashamed about this new choice I’m making. I want to normalize the idea of just taking a fucking break from whatever it is that’s wearing you down.

Making Space by Having Less

Ok, finally going to get to the point here.

While I’m still a put-down-roots type of girl, I’m taking a page out of the travel-the-world crew’s book and editing my life to the type of situation that might end up looking real nice on Instagram. Even if it doesn’t, it’ll fit in a budget-friendly storage unit and the back of my Prius.

I’ve been enamored with the minimalist lifestyle for a while and, more recently, “zero waste” living. Most of my favorite “bloggers” (I consider them writers and indirect mentors, but you get my drift) are big proponents of the less is more lifestyle.

Here’s the draft version of my “wayward and willful” plan:

  • Read Cait Flander’s book, The Year of Less, and complete her 30 day challenge.
  • Downsize my belongings by about 50%.
  • Capsule wardrobe. To support not buying fast fashion, refining my personal style and taking good care of the clothes I do have. Also, for easy transport when traveling.
  • At least a 90 day moratorium on signing a new lease. I have a feeling that will stretch quite a bit longer, but there are still many things up in the air.
  • Going on an earning spree. Which means working my ass off, but for real this time. Not the fun stuff, like updating my website. I’m talking pitching a lot, writing a lot, learning how to network and grow professionally.
  • Addressing my relationship with alcohol and food. I’ve always spent money at bars and restaurants like it’s no big thing, but the reality is that I spend about a third of my income in bars and restaurants and that’s absolutely fucking RIDICULOUS good lord alMIGHTY.
  • Figuring out what the hell really makes me happy and how I’m going to afford it, long term. No fucking around this time.

All of those choices and actions are there to make space for the lengthy lists of personal and professional intentions I have for the year.

The combination of making space and adding those intentions has the ultimate goal of giving me the clarity, confidence and resources I need to take the next step in my life–whatever that ends up being.

I’m not going to let myself feel ashamed or even sheepish about telling y’all the reality of what I hope to accomplish through moving back home. I’m genuinely excited. I’m also genuinely terrified, because I’ve never made this kind of “big” responsible decision before. But it’s pretty long overdue and I’m going for it.

Minimalism, or Getting Comfy with Less

Tomorrow I start a “minimalist” wardrobe challenge (chose from 10 pieces of clothing/shoes for 10 days), receive Cait Flanders’ book The Year of Less and start packing for my move to Pensacola.

I’m not exactly converted to the minimalist aesthetic or even the lifestyle (we’ll save the discussion of the inherent privilege in the concept for another day), but the idea of shedding some of the physical baggage and clutter from my life seems absolutely crucial to the bigger challenge of reigning in and refocusing my life on what actually matters to me as a 26 year old woman.

When I moved out of my last house, I got rid of a lot of clothes. We’re talking about 50% of what I owned, like at least 6 trash bags full of stuff.

I already talked about my clothing hang-ups (get it? Hang ups, closets? Heh.) this when I talked about opting out of fashion and make-up, but this combination of the wardrobe challenge, Cait’s book and packing feels significant to the point of being spiritual.

Let me go ahead and say that I’ve not read Cait’s book yet and, like I do with movies, tried to keep my sneak peeks to a minimum so I can fully enjoy them without too much pressure built up on the experience.

I have, however, been a fan and follower of Cait’s for a few years now and her journey has always been very reassuring to me while I struggle with my own financial issues and examine the things in my life that are working against my actual goals and dreams.

Just the idea of trying a “year of less” for myself would have set my eyes to rolling a few month ago. The idea of giving up my brunches, my craft beer, my well-curated vintage shops, my eyeliner–any of it–to be more nimble and thrifty seemed like a punishment I did not deserve.

I’ve worked hard for my lifestyle! I want to support local small businesses! What will I post on Instagram!

I’d really convinced myself that the house, the outfits, the habitual dining and drinking habits were my reward for ever sitting down to my desk to work. It was retribution for the 2+ years I spent crying in an office, doing a job I never really liked.

Even moving to this cabin, the idyllic writer’s retreat in the woods, was supposed to be the dream.

It was all evidence that I, Stephanie Sharp, am a successful, independent woman.

Only, as it turns out, none of that stuff actually matters much to me anymore. At least, not as much as it used to.

Less makes room for more

The concept seems simple and I’ve seen enough versions of it on the internet to choke myself on, but the reality is that until you figure out what you actually want more of–it’s really tough to give up what you do have.

For me, the less time I spend doing laundry, picking out clothes in the morning, doing my make up is more time I can spend working and writing and maybe taking a wild stab at exercise or art again.

The less I try to squeeze my 26 year old body into clothes purchased for my 21 year old body, the more I confident I can feel in the clothes that fit me.

The less bills I pay, the less chores I have to do, the less I have to worry about making ends meet, means more freedom. More security. More stability.

As much as it might sting to admit it, the less time I spend hanging out in bars in Tallahassee means I will get more peace and distance from my past.

It’s all gotta go.

Accepting the “more”

It’s easy to cling to the places we’ve gotten stuck in and the goals we’ve been working towards, but haven’t quite reached yet.

If you’ve put years into a relationship, a business, a lifestyle, a career, walking away from all of that work can feel like a failure. You worry that people will feel abandoned, that they’ll judge you, think you’re weak or selfish.

It’s really hard to externalize and articulate when something that’s been a part of your life for a long time, or even your entire current lifestyle, is causing you more pain or suffering than it’s worth to you anymore.

We get to decide that it’s time for something different and wanting it is all the reason you need for making a change.

And because time is a flat circle, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up on the other side of this door years down the line, wanting to swap the less for the more or vice versa. It’s all a cycle. That’s okay.

The biggest surprise in accepting that I was ready for a change, ready for “less,” has been that it’s the only way I can get along with being more of the woman I want to be in this world.

Tomorrow I’m going to a share bit more about my decision to downsize and move back to Pensacola for the spring, hopefully with the goal of demystifying the entrepreneurial stereotypes–both negative and positive–that could easily be stamped on this transition.

Permission to Opt-Out: Fashion and Make Up

Let me give you a visual of my current look:

I’m wearing a floral wrap dress that I’ve worn at least once a week since I bought it. I’m also wearing my black Aldo booties I bought 2 years ago when I realized I needed some “grown up” professional shoes for my office job.

My hair has finally grown out enough to force it into a tiny bun, which has lovingly been compared to a brussel sprout in size and shape. My bangs are in desperate need of a trim.

My makeup routine consists of the same brand of foundation I’ve used for 4 years now, with a drugstore eyebrow gel and mascara.

This is the most effort I’ve put into my appearance for over a week, at least since I attempted to take a quintessential fall selfie on the first of October, like everyone else on the internet.

I hate all of those photos I took of myself that day, even though I had on my favorite hat and dress, plus I threw on my heretofore unchristened vintage leather jacket.

Frankly, my lack of selfies in the past few months has me feeling panicky.

I know that probably sounds silly to some people, but I have gone through phases in my life where I felt so good about how I looked, so confident and hot, that I wanted to show off regularly.

Lately, that’s not been the case. But it’s not that I think I’m ugly, not really. I don’t think I’ve let myself go or anything.

I feel detached from the majority of my makeup and fashion habits in a way that’s really baffled me into avoiding selfies, getting “dressed up” and attending any kind of even that might require me to get dolled up.

Below the Surface

I have been shedding layers of what was my personal style faster than ever over the summer.

As I looked at my shoestring freelancer-between-invoices budget and sorted through my clothes after an unexpected move, I started to wonder what the point of all of this stuff was.

I had multiple types of liquid eyeliner in my makeup case, I had piles of vintage clothes and dresses that I had only worn once, I was following multiple lingerie companies on Instagram.

Am I really this susceptible to consumerism? Have I internalized a bunch of stories about my body type and face shape that I regularly augment my natural state with “flattering” clothes and makeup?

Well, yes, but I also have had to admit to myself that it goes a lot deeper than just social media and the fashion industry.

Wardrobes of Past Lives

As I was moving, I ended up with piles and piles of business casual clothes I bought when I was working at my corporate PR job.

I’m not naive enough to think we can all break free of the status quo of business casual in a traditional sense, but the particular office culture of where I worked was in total contrast with my natural inclinations.

Bold colors, structured skirts and dresses, heels, full makeup, “statement” jewelry.

All of these things were supposed to make us unique in our field and create a positive impact on clients and media contacts. It was an extension of the agency’s branding.

But that brand wasn’t me. I never fully bought into it and I knew that dressing according to someone else’s ideal of a powerful woman was not helping me succeed in my role.

Towards the end of my time there, I began to default to “unflattering” shift dresses that I could hide away in, wearing my hair in buns and clips, skipping makeup altogether. The look was more harried church mouse than PR rockstar.

Meanwhile, the other half of my discarded wardrobe consisted of worn out Goodwill finds and eccentric pieces that fluctuated from fairy princess to wannabe punk rocker.

Lots of those pieces were too small, worn with too much eyeliner and eternally smelled like a bar at closing time.

These were the things I would wear to bars and dates and house shows. They represented many variations of my Tallahassee social life that allowed me to blend in with the crowds or appeal to whatever man I was chasing after that season.

I would adjust and course correct based on the reactions of my friends and dates, but nothing I ever wore or no makeup trick I tried made much of a difference in my love or social life.

Then there were a few aspirational vintage pieces I bought, with great zeal, from female vintage shop owners.

Inspired by both an obsession with pinup girls and burlesque culture plus an earnest desire to support women in my community, I–quite literally–racked up a sizable collection of vintage pieces that I would wear once, maybe and then allow to languish in my closet.

This stuff was supposed to be “the look” for a girl like me. Hourglass shape, pale, dark hair–that’s the easiest shortcut to a pin-up look you can be born with.

But I never got the hang of curling my hair, I never figured out how to use concealer or lip liner and I certainly never was going to learn how to wear heels on the regular.

Simplifying (but not because minimalism is trendy)

I recently did a journaling exercise from Gala Darling that got me thinking more about what my Best Self™ actually looks like.

Here are some character notes I made:

  • Sunscreen, always
  • Healthy skin (like the kind you get by drinking tea and stay hydrated and using a modest night cream)
  • Cruelty-free brow gel, mascara, foundation. (I’m tired of crying over mismatched cat eye angles.)
  • Ethically, sustainably made OR vintage/secondhand everything
  • Linen, denim, leather, suede
  • Blacks, neutrals, jewel tones and floral prints
  • Boots. Always boots. Chacos, when needed. (No heels, I just really don’t care for them.)

This sounds like the beginning of a minimalism sermon, I know. I promise not to preach about a capsule wardrobe (at least not yet.)

I want to pivot my approach to style and personal adornment to something that supports and amplifies my personality and creative work, instead of trying to express myself through it directly.

Because when I try to project something through my style, I end up feeling disguised or costumed.

If I want to actually be something, I want to work to actual embody that in my life through actions and work.

Powerful, respectable, graceful, tough, elegant, sensual.

I don’t need a pencil skirt or red lipstick or high heels to convey any of that. I am not personally getting anything out of time spent in front of the mirror or my closet.

This is, of course, not to say that anyone who enjoys these things is somehow not actually being what their style is portraying. I’m actually wildly impressed by and in awe of other people’s creativity and dedication when it comes to style and fashion.

This is simply a note to self that I am allowed to opt out of prioritizing makeup and clothes, without letting myself go completely.

If I whittle my wardrobe down to a handful of truly beloved pieces and have no daytime/nighttime/special occasion shifts for my makeup and hair routines, it really won’t do affect anything but my time and decision fatigue.

I know I will eventually dig deeper into the phases of my style and how working in a place with such a rigorous “dress code” affected me, but for now I wanted to articulate this shift.

Has this happened to anyone else? Have you ever looked in your mirror or closet and suddenly realized you only like about 10% of what you own?

Social Media Reality Check

Fair warning that I this is started as a totally off the cuff reaction piece, spurned by an unnecessarily rude ultimatum by an unnamed influencer to go hop into the comments section of a problematic @betches instagram post instead of discussing the topic amongst ourselves. *insert eye roll emoji here*

I get nothing from fighting with people on social media.

I gain nothing, learn nothing from the comment threads full of ignorance and hatred.

Retweets and call-out posts add absolutely nothing to our dialogue and I have not learned anything or taught anyone by participating in this kind of social media activity.

What I do learn from is following really smart writers on Twitter who temper their trolls with insightful commentary and conversations.

I also learn from following feminist sex educators and zero waste nonprofits and sustainable farms on Instagram.

Following artists and curators of niche interests (like tarot, old houses, southern kitsch) makes me happy and entertains me.

I’m not saying that it’s all bad. It’s not.

But the militant prescriptivism on how to post, what to post, how to and when to engage with trolls or people who think differently that you? It’s not serving me. (It’s probably not serving you either.)

Yet, I’m on social media for hours every day. Last time I was tracking my screen time on my phone, I was spending between 3-4 hours on my phone every day. That doesn’t even include any time I spent on the computer.

I want that time back. I want that mental space and that sense of calm boredom back.

The Social Struggle

I honestly, truly, don’t want to give up social media altogether. I don’t think it’s the root of all success or all evil. I also know it’s not feasible when I’m trying to run my own business.

But lately, my frustration outweighs my enjoyment.

More than anything, I wish we could all get a blank slate. If there was a way to just go back to the beginning, without the algorithms and the updates to everything, I’d be happy to continue sharing and enjoying the content I want to see.

Of course, that’s not really something that’s feasible. Even if we all started fresh accounts, we’d get bombarded with suggested posts and the algorithm would learn about us quickly.

For those who still bemoan the advertising takeover of our beloved internet hidey holes (RIP tumblr, specifically), I hate to break it to y’all but–at the end of the day–these are companies. Users are only worth what advertisers will pay for our attention.

I(’m not going to get into the business side of this debate on this blog, but I have thoughts on that too.)

At this point, I know it’s up to me to game the system for myself. Despite the fact that social media is designed to be hypnotic and a veritable rabbit hole of endless distractions, I’ve gotta snap myself out of it.


Fight Bad Habits with Good Habits

That’s my plan. Here’s the list I’ve got so far:

Tracking screen time.

I’ve downloaded Moment on my phone. They estimate that the average user spends three hours, forty two minutes on their phone every day. Yikes.

Not all of my phone time is spent on social media. I have many people I love that I text constantly (or send memes to on Instagram, which is the modern sixth love language), most of which don’t live in Tallahassee and therefore can’t be subbed out with IRL quality time.

But if I’m honest, most of that time is spent scrolling through the explore tab on Instagram, or watching stories of people that I really just don’t care about or don’t need to keep up with.

Last time I used this app, I cut my phone time down by over an hour each day. I’ll probably spring for the Premium version soon too, so that I can have more options for managing my screen time.

Unfollow without fear.

I’ve been starting to unfollow people when I notice I’m blocking or hiding or scrolling past their posts. A lot of fitness people, many brands and shops, some of those “who even are you?” personal accounts that are just utterly baffling.

Here’s the thing: my need for more mental space and less digital clutter is not less important than someone’s Instagram engagement stats.

Even though I forget all the time (especially with my over-active people pleasing tendencies), we do not owe a single person a follow, like, share, comment, view. Whatever. We truly do not.

I would hope that people aren’t following me that are bored or annoyed with the things that I post.

If you think about it like a social gathering, do you really want to show up to a party when you don’t like anyone who’s attending? Do you want to go to a gym or an art gallery opening if either of those things makes your cringe just thinking about it?

Then get those people out of your digital circles and move on with your life.

Carve out distraction free times.

This is specific to my needs as an entrepreneur working from home, but I have to block out work hours and keep my phone off and away to get anything meaningful done.

I also use the Self Control app for my Mac to block tempting websites. Usually set the time for anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.

This is a pretty serious no brainer for most people, but when there is no one to watch over your shoulder or spy on your internet history, it can be all too easy to just zone out on Twitter for a couple of hours every day.

Do literally anything else.

I feel like this one should not be the hardest one to conquer, but it really is.

When I’m laying in bed or waiting in line or anything that would otherwise be a white space, if it weren’t for social media, I’ve got my phone up and in my face.

This is particularly an issue when going to bed and waking up for me.

I will mindlessly scroll for an hour before falling asleep and as soon as I wake up, knowing that nothing I’m seeing is really adding to my life and especially not to those otherwise precious moments before or after sleep.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with sketching and coloring in bed while I watch shows.

As much as I want to lay down and read at night, I’m much more inclined to give myself something totally mindless and relaxing before cracking open a book I want to pay attention to.

That being said, reading instead of being on my phone at the bar or restaurants when I’m alone is something I genuinely love and am happy to practice on the regular now.

All and all, the point I’m trying to make for myself here is that I have the power to make myself less miserable when it comes to social media. I can opt out of the constant outrage, consumerism and comparison. But I have to do it myself, because it is all designed for the opposite purpose.

Do you have any tips for minimizing your screen time or tackling some of the social media ennui I assume we are all feeling? Lemme know, I could serious use the advice.

On 31 Days of Writing

I decided to do a writer’s version of “inktober”. It’s my own personal exercise, before the world gets swept up in NaNoWriMo next month.

I let my writing stagnate over the past month and a half. The move, the hurricane, work. There were plenty of reasons not to write.

On top of that, I let my summer ideas slip away. The sweet little things I was going to capture, the ideas and lists I wanted to share. Those didn’t happen.

But I went to see one of my favorite writers and former professors speak last week and ran into my writing workshop instructor (guide? teacher?) while I was there. Read more, talked about writing more.

Realized that I have one way to make this writing thing work, which is to write every day. And not just write, but publish it. 

We can only be held accountable for so much in private.

Sure I can journal, I could sit at my computer and bang out a few hundred words every day and let them languish in my Google Drive forever. No one would ever know if I followed through or not.

But I’m committing to writing every day and publishing everything that I write so that I can move through a serious volume of ideas. For better or for worse.

My most recent kick in the ass was from this article: Writing usually means writing badly.

That was a good reminder because I know I have to keep working to get better. That’s the only way that writing works. I listen to this quote from Ira Glass regularly to calm my fears of just being a tasteless, worthless buffoon with a laptop.

I decided to emulate Inktober because, as far as I can tell, it’s about showing your process and your messy edges and I think that is so much more aligned with my process than the grind of NaNoWriMo. (I also have no desire to write a novel at this point in my life.)

My questions when it comes to the process of writing and the reality of being a writer are becoming an obsessive part of my daily life.

Instead of asking for permission and trying to replicate the process or product of people I admire, I’ve realized that the only way out is through. Through the shitty first drafts and through the half-baked ideas and the immature topics and the clunky prose.

There are some things I need to get through. I need to broach the taboo, talk about some shit that slinks around in the darkness and tends to only come up when people write their memoirs or when they get that one gut-wrenching essay spot in the big, beautiful publication of their dreams.

I don’t think I can get to those places unless I start chipping away at this stuff now. So, here I go.

Some of that stuff is going to be ugly or upsetting to some people. I would apologize proactively, but I really am not sorry at all. Hopefully you all understand.

I just can no longer afford to be precious with the things in my mind. If I’m going to see any emotional progress, any progress with my craft, it’s got to come through work.

So, that’s what this is. If you show up here every day and read, thank you. If you show up every once in awhile, thank you. If you get fed up and never come back, thank you.

Thank you for reading.

(PS for rule followers: I did write yesterday, but it was analogue and will be typed up later.)

How to Start Journaling

Journaling has always been one of my favorite feigned habits.

I’ve kept a myriad of diaries, notebooks and journals since childhood, but it’s only been the last two years or so that I’ve actually developed any meaningful consistency.

I’ve been trying to force myself into a “miracle morning” type routine for two years now. Ideally, it would look like:

  • Make coffee
  • Meditate
  • Read tarot
  • Journal
  • Write (as in write for writing’s sake)
  • Yoga
  • Work out
  • Healthy breakfast
  • Bonus points for making my bed and actually getting fully *ready* for the day

And I would be damned if I wasn’t going to do all of that before 9am. Every morning.

Because–I don’t know if you’ve been on the internet lately–but that’s what your mornings are supposed to look like if you’re an evolved and interesting human.

Especially if you have the freedom and privilege to work for yourself from home, or find yourself blissfully roommate and live-in partner free. What a treat, right?

Well, I’ll tell you what my morning looks like right now:

  • Wake up because the cat is literally poking me with his paw
  • Pee, while the cat whines at me
  • Feed the cat
  • Make coffee
  • Get back in bed for about 30 minutes and scroll around on my phone
  • Check my bank account and get a nice reality check
  • Then I finally journal and pull a card (Right now that’s from an oracle deck called Moon Angels)
  • Sometimes I meditate (I do love Lacy Young’s meditations and will happily do them when I’m feeling particularly evolved and mature)

After that, I head downstairs and try to write before I get started on my “work” for the day.

As one of my favorite writers and teachers, Sarah Von Bargen, finally got through my head in her Make It Stick Habit School: You can really only establish one good habit at a time.

Something that I’ve noticed is that journaling is really the thing for me. It’s the closest I can get to therapy without getting my eyes wet and it’s way cheaper–about the cost of one Moleskine notebook every 90 days because it’s one thing I get to be picky about.

I know you’re probably so thrilled to hear the nitty gritty details of my morning routine, but I know you’re here for the goods so let’s talk about journaling.

How to start a journaling habit

Pick tools you actually like.

This is honestly the key for me. Once I found a pen and notebook I really loved, I started genuinely looking forward to sitting down at my desk every morning.

I’ve since switched notebooks and now am partial to Moleskines because they really are just my favorite for writing, but even the little notebook that was a very sweet souvenir from a good friend’s trip to Paris had its own unique personality.

Also, pens are important. I’m currently experimenting with a fountain pen, but I’m partial to a Pilot G2 or a Bic Atlantis if I’m really honest.


Make it fancy.

All I mean by this is do a little something special to your space or time to ritualize journaling. It’s like a preemptive reward for sitting down to journal on the days when you don’t really feel like it.

I have a candle I only light when I’m journaling and I let myself indulge in my very typical Bon Iver/Iron & Wine playlist until I actually open up my laptop.

You could have a special mug or wear fancy slippers or stay in bed a few extra minutes if that’s what butters your biscuit. Whatever makes you feel a little indulgent and selfish is a good choice.


Pick a goal.

For me, the first goal that really worked was to commit to filling up an entire journal.

It was that journal I mentioned earlier, one that I really loved that I bought at the Denver Botanical Gardens that I decided I was not going to squander by only writing in a few pages and then abandoning it.

When I did that, I moved on to the Paris notebook, then I allowed myself to buy a new Moleskine because I didn’t have any other blank notebooks waiting in the wings.

I’ve tried writing three pages every morning, but I’ve found that as long as I write every day, the length will naturally fluctuate depending on what I need to write about.


Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Seriously, sometimes journaling seems stupid and you’ll be writing “I just really don’t feel like writing because I’m hungover/bored/busy/content.” over and over until you think of one thing you did want to write about that maybe you thought of in the shower yesterday or something.

It’s not supposed to be poetic or prophetic. It’s easy to hope that your journals will be witty and devastatingly authentic so that someone will just have to publish them posthumously. Chances are it’s not ever going to be like that consistently.

Sometimes it’s drudgery and sometimes it’s personal revelations that unlock big things for yourself. That’s just how it is.

Like I said, this is a cheap and private alternative to therapy. Not every session is going to be a breakthrough.


Don’t censor yourself.

This is something I worry about. I even went through a phase in high school after a fight with my high school sweetheart when I was certain the One for me was still out there and not that guy that I started a notebook as a series of letters to my future husband.

That lasted all of four days.

Spoiler alert, the high school sweetheart was not the One for me and the jury is still out for my future husband, but I do not write to anyone anymore.

Sometimes I think about what I will want to have access to when I’m old or when I need to remember what it was like as a 20-something because my future daughter is doing something that’s driving me crazy or got me worried sick (sorry mom.)

But if you write with an audience in mind, you keep the good stuff locked up. You keep the bad stuff locked up too, and the selfish stuff and the creepy stuff and the fucked up stuff.

The only thing that comes out when you start writing with any audience or dream of future publication is just hifalutin nonsense that won’t do anyone any good.

(Sometimes you’ll write hifalutin nonsense anyways, but it will be good for you specifically when you catch yourself doing that and can dial it back to what’s really going on for you. Again, therapy.)


Allow for lapses.

Sometimes you’ll go a few weeks without writing in your journal and start to feel foggy and jumbled. When you notice you haven’t been keeping up with your journal, you’ll be able to go back to it.

The journal will not judge you or charge you for missed sessions. It does not ask you where you’ve been. It’s just there when you need it, which is more often than you think.


Try it out.

If you’ve thought about journaling but are freaked out by former attempts or think you don’t have time, I’m going to challenge you to do one page a day for a week and see how you feel.

You might still hate it or be stressed out by it, in which case, forget it. You are not going to be less successful or interesting if you don’t keep a journal.

Chances are, you’re doing something else in your life that is giving you the documentation you need to keep tabs on your own mind and that’s great. Stick to what works for you.

But if you do find your mind is less crowded and you’re uncovering stuff to work on through your writing, pick a goal and go with it.

Don’t get caught up in any rules or standards, just show up when you need to and remember that you can’t fail at this habit. You really can’t.

That’s the beauty of journaling for me, unlike other habits. Journaling is not a compound effect. You can’t get better at it, you can’t lose it if you get too busy or lazy for a few weeks.

Is there potential for journaling to improve other areas of your life if you do it regularly? Absolutely. I know my writing and anxiety have both been positively affected by journaling regularly.

So, give it a shot.

If you do decide to give it a try, feel free to tag me on instagram or shoot me an email if you want to share your experiences. I’m happy to talk about routines, notebooks, prompts, whatever! Good luck, y’all.

Moving: An Announcement

My freshman year of high school, I ripped a two page spread from an art room collage pile issue of Southern Living magazine. It’s a photo of a small cottage, with a screened in porch and a wildly joyful garden. It’s now framed in my bedroom.

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to cabins and cottages, small spaces with cozy interiors in rustic settings.

That’s always been the dream.

However, not much else about that dream has been clear. Am I alone in the house or do I have a partner? Is it in the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Rockies? Maybe on the border of a sleepy southern town?

The house was the one thing I knew I wanted. Tucked into some quiet corner where I became part of the landscape instead of part of a city.

But it was always a reward, a sighing, “someday” kind of dream.

I thought I had to earn it, deserve that dream. That I would know when I had made it because I’d be writing in the woods somewhere and sipping on coffee while the sun was rising.

That’s not the sort of thing you’re just allowed to have out of the blue. Right?

Dreams Come True Even When You’re Not Waiting for Them To

I had a plan, which of course means that my plan has gone totally out the window in the space of about two weeks.

After a pretty chaotic year, I laid out for myself (and to anyone who would listen) my plan for the rest of 2017:

  • Focus on growing my business
  • Save some serious cash
  • Travel to a select few cities to scope out potential next homes
  • Announce a move to my chosen destination on New Year’s Eve

This plan happened in my current house, a little duplex in Midtown, perfectly adequate for my needs.

Then I was informed, rather suddenly, that my landlord would be giving my unit to her nephew who would be moving to Tallahassee to attend college and I needed to be out by mid-August.

Not only was this something I had not planned for, not even remotely, it was already July!

Anyone who knows the Tallahassee rental market knows you need to start making moves in early summer to find a decent spot for August move-in because–duh, we’re a college town.

With little to no optimism, I started combing listings on every rental site, making peace with the fact that my current rent was not going to translate to a lateral move.

I had some guidelines:

  • No roommates
  • No apartment complexes
  • Some semblance of an outdoor space (even if that was just a stoop big enough to perch a coffee mug on)
  • Not on a busy road (I currently live on a major intersection, the only constant in my life is road noise.)
  • Must allow cats

With my very unusual rental history, I knew working with a property management company would be tricky at best, so I was also trying avoiding any kind of middleman.

In Tallahassee, this is a tall order in a short time frame.

But after only a few days of searching, I found a place that seemed unreal. Like so perfect that I was positive it was a scam. The best looking listing always are, it seems.

This place was seriously the dream.

At the end of the prettiest canopy road in town (in my humble opinion), part of an intentional living community, on two acres of land, plus–it even had a Jacuzzi tub.

After much hemming and hawing, a visit to a dreary rental in Midtown and a bit of prodding (and some inspired rental website maneuvering) from one of my dear friends, I snagged a tour.

I was nervous about meeting the owners that I can only compare it to a job interview.

But to make a long story short, they loved me, I loved the house, I applied and got the house.


Blooming Where You’re Planted

Obviously, this move is having quite the effect on that plan I mentioned earlier. Even though it’s only a six month lease, it’s a longer commitment to Tallahassee than I had originally planned to make–if even just by a few months.

While I had other options, to move home to Pensacola or trade in my guidelines for some other temporary fix, I took the risk and the subsequent plunge for a few reasons that I think are important to consider when you’re staring down the barrel of an unplanned life change.

  1. What do you really want?

Chances are, your plans have an end goal. I thought moving away from Tallahassee would be my ticket to an experimental “reset” on my identity, shake me out of the stupor that living in one town for more than 6 years has given me.

I thought it would give me a new perspective to write from, somewhere new to explore and dig my heels into.

It would challenge me to make new friends and connections, be even more independent than I’ve been thus far in my adult life.

It would prove I can do whatever I put my mind to.

And honestly–a move would still do all of those things. It’s not something I’ve totally ruled out within the next year.

But what I wanted: distance, novelty, nature, motivation, new community. This in-town move still allows for all of that.

2. What are you willing to do to get what you want?

My new place is more expensive than my current one and I know that increasing your living expenses in the first year of working for yourself is a huge risk. Pretty much everyone tells you not to even think about it.

But, in this space, I know I could happily do the extra work that I’ll need to do to adjust for the cost of the privilege of living where I want to.

I’ve also had to be willing to take sole responsibility for my life from here on out.

My mom suggested I move home, let my family circle the wagons around me. That offer was tempting (and I seriously love my family for being that kind of crew), but I knew I would agonize over the “what if” of sticking it out on my own because I haven’t failed, hit rock bottom or intentionally chosen to move home because I was excited to.

Everyone has also pointed out: “But it’s such a drive, how will you drive that distance all the time?” (Spoiler alert, I won’t, but we’ll get to that.)

So the reality looks like: longer hours, more work, less disposable income, still not within a stone’s throw of my family and a good drive from my normal social safety nets in town.

3. Are you willing to embrace the reality of your dream?

Whether it was in Tallahassee or Tennessee, my dream house was always going to be a good bit from town.

It was always going to require an idealistic, pioneer-woman type independence–with a good dash of Puritan self-discipline.

Realistically though, having to be mindful about my trips into town to run errands, socialize, network? Having more dinner parties instead of nights at the bar? Spending more time reading books and taking long walks?

I wanted to be doing these kinds of things, um, forever ago?

But I always made excuses. It’s a pretty serious departure from the way I have lived my life the past few years. In fact, I’ve never lived my life like that.

The reality of my dream is that I’m going to have to be mature, responsible and mindful to make this work. I accept that.

Wherever you go, there you are

The answers to all of those questions doesn’t change based on where you go, no matter what it is that you want. A job in New York, a romantic partner on the West Coast, an “Eat, Pray, Love” experience abroad?

Great, go for it, but be ready to accept the terms and conditions of your dreams.

The only thing I have learned since leaving my hometown is that we are all who we are no matter where we go, where we live, what we do for work.

Lots of stuff sounds great in theory, but the reality is always going to be a little grittier and it’s always going to take more work than you originally planned.

You have to continue to live with yourself throughout all of it.

So what’s next?

For me and this move, this here project was a big motivator in my decision to take the plunge. If I wanted motivation and inspiration, this is going to be where I got it.

I’m really looking forward to sharing the move with all of you, plus all of the stuff I’m going to tackle while living out in the woods.

Here are some things I’d love if you did:

  • Ask yourself what dream it is you’re telling yourself is a “someday” dream and how you can get it as soon as a possible instead
  • Get over to Instagram and tell me about your dream that you want to head towards (gimme a follow so I can give you a follow, please and thanks)
  • Sign up for my brand spanking new mailing list so that I can send you notes about the moving process and share playlists with you because, yeah. (Form is below!)

Thanks for reading, love y’all!