Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why I Am Now A Quitter

Sitting down to do this was hard.
As in, so super very hard.
This blog feels like an old boyfriend who's conjuring up some weird feelings. Even now, my words are lost as I sit with my fingers on this keyboard. But I guess a good start is the beginning. So here goes.

I quit blogging intentionally.
There, I said it. I quit. I did not "let things get away from me" or "lack inspiration." I'm still lighting it up on my Pinterest and Instagram daily, so there's definitely free time in my schedule for some hobbies. I did not go through a mental breakdown, so I'm still the same me that wrote here daily for years. But something did change.
I began to feel as if my own real life did not live up to the ones others' created in blogworld.
Which is, of course, a bunch of bull. 

It happened pretty quickly, actually, and since I'm the queen of snap decisions, it should come of no surprise that I deliberately made the decision to stop. One conversation triggered an entire train of thoughts that couldn't be stopped for days. And boom—I quit blogging. You see, I began to feel that I wasn't living a truly authentic life because of this here little blog. No, there were no false accounts featured or questionable circumstances. But my quality of life began to change a little. Many a sweet moment was missed because I was busy framing a photo for the blog. Writing wasn't the whimsical creative outlet it had been all my life because I was too busy keeping up with the Joneses creating "chic" content. I was blogging for some sort of desired life and not for the life that I had. I began to question what my goals were, where my focus was, what my vision for my future was. And long story shot, I felt like a big ole fraud.

I know now that I'm not a fraud, I'm just not a blogger. I'm a writer, which is why my best work here has been the intimate, soul-deep topics I just let spill onto the pages—not the Top Ten Shifts for Your Office Christmas Party (in my defense, that was not a real feature). And while I am very jealous of the lucrative career that many a blogger has made of her hobby, I am not that girl. My blog is not my business, it's my hobby. I do not live a perfectly-styled life with white linen couches and sparkling marble counter tops, but I do life a beautiful life in a 1930's two-story home packed tight with five 20 something's and a goldendoodle. My husband does not come home every night with a bouquet of peonies that I promptly place in a crystal vase on the dining room table, but my boyfriend does call every night from Memphis so we can talk through the three hours between us, and I do buy roses for my room every week at Trader Joe's. Unlike real bloggers, my life does not deserve to be pinned on Pinterest. But it deserves every bit of attention and thanksgiving that I have, which is why I quit blogging. To give it, and the people in it, just that.

So I've been in somewhat of a writing rehab the last four and a half months, trying to determine what this outlet actually was. And I guess this is the tenth step—acceptance. (I'm not even sure if acceptance is the 10th step, but it is in my program so go with it.) My life has changed and I like it that way, so this has to change, as well. My blog will not teach you how to style your bedroom using repurposed milk crates or put together the perfect outfit in under $20. But it might show you a new recipe that I actually cooked, or recommend a new yoga class (because that's a new pastime now, too) and, more often than not, daydream about what my life is becoming. Because it is becoming something big and beautiful and totally different than what I once imagined. Which I am so grateful for.

So I'm taking back ownership of this space. Comparison is the thief of joy and my joy ain't for the taking. If you've emailed me these past few months, I'm sorry for not responding. I simply didn't know what to say. And if you've left comments, well, now you know where I've been. I'd like to come back and write here, and I plan to and I will, but it won't be like it was. But that is the point.

This is an authentic space where I'm just daydreaming believing one day at a time without agenda. I do hope I inspire and encourage you a little, because I live an inspired life.
I'm so nervous to publish this. Here goes...

{1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Interrupt Your Regular Scheduled Programming

Stop. Collaborate and listen.

Your girl is moving. As in, next week. As in, wow I have a lot to pack in a little bit of time. And a lot of people to say goodbye to. As in, wow this is really fast— but here I go! The 'ole blog is also getting a facelift. So I hope you'll be patient while we have a little hustle hustle around here towards some upward moving change! I need just a little teeny tiny break of blogging while I tie up all these loose ends. I know you understand.

I hope, though, you'll follow me on Pinterest for the next week or so. Because I'm good at that. Also on Insta—I'm good at that, too.

I'll catch ya on the flip side, with lots of news to share.
Daily gratitude: Hustle and facelifts.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy {Big News} Weekend

I'm trying not to think about the fact that though we were prepared and ready the moment tickets went on sale today, we did not, in fact, get Justin Timberlake tickets in Nashville yet again before they all sold out. I choose to focus on how stunningly beautiful this day is. It is taking every ounce of willpower in my body to finish up the last of my to-do list before hitting those beautiful beaches... for what will be the last time for quite some time.
Why, you ask?
Well, big news from the Sunshine State-- I'm moving to Nashville!

I have been bursting to talk about this because this city is, in fact, one of my very favorites in the country and I'm thrilled at the opportunity to make it my new home. So, pull out those moving boxes. Get the label maker geared up-- this girl is making a move, again.

But until then, I've got sweet Dana  in town this weekend for some R&R and another two weeks of tying up lose ends on the Emerald Coast before I head north to Tennessee. A few things we old college roomies have on our agenda plus some things that have caught my eye for this week's Friday Finds
  • As I speak type, Dana is whipping us up this to fully promote beach bum mentality. Reviews to come if you're nice.
  • I just received these from Zappos and I give them two thumbs up as a chic daytime sandal. Bonus points for the super sale!
  • Speaking of sale, Guilt just put all my beloved Susana Monaco dresses on super sale as well. I snatched this one up, but they've got some great options if you're looking for a sexy shift + open back cut-outs like I mentioned here.
  • I'm obsessed with this site, and this article on Perfectionism-- whoa. Go read them all, like every article, and feel well. You're welcome.
Sp, wanna chat Nashville with me? Got some advice, somewhere for me to go, someone for me to meet (or a job that needs filled?)? I hope so. Shoot me an email here.

Until then, Happy Weekend!
Daily gratitude: new beginnings and opportunities!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Shift Crush

Every season, I get a fashion crush. Sometimes it's an off-the-wall trend I'm dying to try, and occasionally it's an oldie-but-goodie I'm ready to bring back. And this summer, I want the shift back in my wardrobe.

There's something so refreshingly classic about a chic shift and, with cut-outs, shorter lengths and embellishments, they aren't just for the office anymore. After cutting my hair like this on Monday, I'm now convinced that my closet is in desperate need of a few flirty mini dress shifts to show off the shoulders—and I love the idea of short wavy hair and a super sleek look. When those summer temps get, quite literally, sultry, throwing on a shift is a simple fix for a cool look.
A few of my faves I've been contemplating as of late:

  • This one is quite the show stopper—and that back is to die for.
  • It's a well known fact that I love the versatility of a Susana Monaco dress, and the peek-a-boo sides on this shift keep it sassy.
  • And speaking of cut-outs, I'm in love with both the white and red options of this A-line shift. And at this price, it can't be beat.
Happy Shopping!
Daily gratitude: that new feeling that comes with summer.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Treats: This Article Right Here

Ya'll. This article right here.
Ya know how sometimes you're thankful for those older siblings/tough love best friend believers/ motivating mentors who give you the swift kick in the behind that you've subconcioulsy been longing for?
Well, consider this article it for your week.
And you're welcome.

Daily gratitude: good news and kicks in the behind.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Mantra + Simple Words

Today I am bursting with things to say. But my words are not enough right now, it seems.
After an impromptu absence last week, I've had lots of things brewing. Good things. And while I still can't talk details just yet, my heart is full and my path is led.

Speaking of, I've been reading a somewhat unconventional devotional book by Beth Moore in hopes of qualming my sometimes oppressive perfectionist thoughts. I really dug deep this weekend, and felt the message moving me almost immediately. I'm going to say very little more about this read right now, in hopes of discovering more before I turn you that way. But the moral of this short Monday story is that I was reminded how lucky we all are that our imperfections don't separate us from His grace.

Sure, most of us have known this quite some time. But this simple little fact is oftentimes so elementary to our faith that, though it is a cornerstone of who we are, we rarely take the time anymore to reflect on it. And I'm not sure about you, but I am so glad to remember it. And I thought you might be too. So because of that, my mantra for us all this week:
Sometimes simple words are the best.
Here's to another inspired week!

Daily gratitude: moving messages.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hello May + Resolution

Bam. Happy May. All month long, ladies. Reminded to you by Justin himself.
But seriously:
I greet this month with ecstatic joy for many reasons. First, there's more big change on the agenda that I'm thrilled about-- but more on that later. Second, April wasn't my month. Of course, I had a good ole time and the weather was beautiful and life was sunny, as usual. But I had some real hang-ups this month. Hang-ups I should have let go of, should have not tried to handle myself, should have exhaled and given them up to Someone much bigger.
But I didn't. And hindsight is 20/20. So I'm searching for ways to make this a positive learning experience for May.

You see, I am a worrier. As in, my thoughts sometimes get so far away from me that before I know it I'll be worrying about getting an incurable disease that stemmed from a stomach ache. I hinted at this a bit on Monday, but I'm talking about it a little more in-depth today because, to be honest, I got so many emails and comments from you after Monday's post that I have an inkling there are a few others of you out there with the same problem. So I'm admitting I have this problem. I preach lots of carpe diem, no-day-but-today talk. And I sincerely, truly believe there is reason for celebration and joy in all circumstances. But does that keep the knots from my stomach or the crazy thoughts from swirling in my head the moment a situation arises that I can't see the outcome of? Absolutely not.

And I have a real problem with letting those moments go and really giving them up, even though I think that I (probably, most likely) am. I've been a worrier since I was a child--a not-so-great characteristic that my mother is constantly trying to break me of. And even though I have tons of experience with worry not changing a thing, and really only adding stress or anxiety to my days, I keep doing it. For years, I have simply thought, I can't help it.
But I can. And I know this because He reminded me this morning:
"As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communion with Me, you will find that you simply have no time for worry. Thus, you are freed to let My Spirit direct your steps, enabling you to walk along the path of Peace."

He tapped on my soul  and said, "Ainsley, why do you do this? Let Me. I'll show you the way." And I was calm. For the first time in a month, my anxiety and fear was overpowered with a sense of peace in that though I don't know the outcome, He does. So, for May, I'm going to
Focus on letting Him deal with all the outcomes I can't see. No more nervous stomach, what-if thoughts, damning outcomes in my brain-- I'm in rehab for worrying, friends.

We just got real here, I realize. But do any of you have a sure-fire combat plan for worry?
Daily gratitude: Revelation and baby steps to change.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Treats: Fiesta-Worthy

For some reason, I really love Cinco de Mayo. I think it's because I equate it with summer-- sitting on a patio somewhere with friends, sipping margaritas and dipping into fresh salsa in the sunny weather. Sounds like a dream.
It also makes me want to order some cheese dip right now.
Last year, bad beach weather literally put a damper on my Cinco de Mayo plans. So I'm pretty pumped to be traveling to Memphis for a music festival this weekend where the forecast is calling for sunny skies, which means I may just get to sip that margarita on a patio after all.
Despite the fact that I'm not throwing my own fiesta, here are a few little tips to take with you whatever your Cinco de Mayo plans may be!
  • While I love a reason to celebrate a holiday, I don't love undoing all the work I've done during the week at the gym and making healthy choices in the kitchen. These are a few great tips on not breaking the calorie bank while you're getting your fiesta on-- or just leaving extra room for cheese dip and margaritas!
  • Speaking of cheese dip, if you're staying in to celebrate, this recipe for queso blanco upstood my critical Mexican cheese dip taste buds when we gave it a whirl.
  • What would Cinco de Mayo be without a margarita? Yeah, I'm not sure either. Which is why I hope to try at least one of these four flavored skinny margarita recipes featured here.
  • And of course, what to wear, what to wear? I've linked to this dress I'm dying over before, but it seems pretty perfect for a Mexican-inspired fete. Or, this cute cotton frock (for quite the steal) is fiesta-worthy, tool. Whatever it may be, finish it all off with a coat of OPI's Strawberry Margarita.
What else do you do to celebrate a casual Cinco de Mayo on the fly?
Daily gratitude: New beginnings and reasons to celebrate.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Happy Monday + Alone Time

Whew, I spent a lot of time alone this weekend. And I can always tell when I do that because I begin interpreting myself (which is hardly ever the best idea). So this weekend I sat down with myself for a while to explore the fact that I am a chronic decision maker. I suffer from literally agonizing over decisions, and even once they are made—whether they be wrong or right—beating myself up over the one that I made. And trust me, I've made my fair share of both. I'm also guilty of trying to make them alone, but working on that one day at a time. Because I need a lot of help in making them—big help, from Someone that sees more than my immediate situation. You see, us chronic decision makers view every decision as a big deal—we also have a hard time digesting how even the worst decisions can line up for good. Which is sometimes, if we're being really honest here, why I have such a hard time reading this when it pops up every so often:
Nothing? That's a hard idea for me to digest. No matter what happens, nothing can stop His plan if I'm walking in His light—no matter what's been done or what's escaped. No matter what I do, if He is my light then nothing can interrupt that plan. Repentance, forgiveness, and grace.
And guess what? It's not even an idea. It's t.r.u.t.h. The truth.
So there's no reason to hide behind your have-nots, should-havs, what-ifs, regrets, and guilt. Once they're done, they're done, and if you keep looking up, you're headed in the right direction. Because nothing can stop God's plan for your life.
Happy Monday!
Daily gratitude: Persistence in Grace.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy {Working—Insert Sadface} Weekend

This Friday is unlike the rest because due to my staycation last week, I'll be hitting those working hours all weekend long.
But I'm sure we can still find a little reason to celebrate. Shall we?
The skies are clear and the temps are a fabulous seventy degrees, so it's hard to be less than content though you're to-do list may be a mile long like mine. And after some deep thoughts and talking the topic to death, I'm prepping for a big announcement coming soon that I've been contemplating and praying about for quite some time. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, it wouldn't be Friday without a few Fabulous Finds, so without further adieu, what caught my attention this week:
  • Preach it sister—Melanie Duncan outlines her top three strategies for success (I like success) as gathered from  her entrepreneurial clients. Making a mental note to remember these starting now.
  • And speaking of entrepreneurs, I was smitten upon reading this love note to them.
  • Whitney has a way of speaking cold hard truth in the funniest fashion (and they tend to speak to me alot), and I think we all have a "flight" we should remind ourselves to stay humble about.
  • My mother would kill me and my father would groan but I almost impulse bought one of these watercolor hydrating masques that turn your hair a hot hue for 2-5 days. How much fun for a music festival or halloween? But I seem to remember learning my lesson with semi-permanent hair dye once...
  • Lastly, I. am. addicted. To these. Every morning. And I'll be posting my twist on the recipe next week for you to try out as well (keywords: sweet additions).
That about does it. We have a standing date here on Monday. Happy weekend, dears!
Daily gratitude: More leaps of faith and opportunity.
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