Checking In: Ready for Spring

 

For the past several weeks my Pinterest has become more and more of a solace to me. A place to ignore the dropping temperatures outside and focus on cultivating a very warm feeling inside. I’m filling my thoughts with woven totes, linen dresses, airy morning light, and menus planned around soon-to-be-in-season vegetables. Thoughts of long walks at sunset, cool blue-grey mornings, and coffee sipped on a balcony. Thoughts of peace, calm, and allowing current frustrations to give way to relaxation.

Personally, this self-manifested warmth has done more than help shake the winter blues, it’s giving me a clearer focus point. A vision, a goal to concentrate on as I look forward months ahead. A handful of months ago, I found myself continually, and thanklessly, helping others in an unsustainable way. In truth, it has been a huge growth experience for my patience and capacity for generosity. Introspectively, it’s raised the question of whether it’s my ego taking over or if certain things are something that I could be validly upset over.

My teacher often reminds me of jalandhara bandha, the web that rests over our hearts. In her words, “This is why we do our best to cultivate loving thoughts. They flow from your head down to your heart, getting caught in the web.” Over the past few weeks, I’ve used this mindset on a daily basis to attempt to set my ego aside and cultivate loving thoughts. I definitely don’t enjoy having negative or upsetting thoughts. They tend to burrow themselves deep in my anxiety, affecting my sleeping, my eating, and the way I move through the world. It’s a difficult line to walk between being true to yourself, speaking about the ways you were hurt, or staying silent to preserve an apparent peace. So which is the right path?

I don’t have the answer, but what I’ve found throughout my entire life is that cultivating loving thoughts does not harm. One of my biggest pieces of relationship advice (romantic or otherwise) is simply this: be generous with forgiveness. There’s nothing that can persist when love, generosity, and forgiveness work together. I’ve added in the glowy imagery of a fast-approaching spring and granted myself a little distance from what was causing me stress.

A step backward, and yet a leap forwards.

 

xx, M

 

Personal Note: political views

{2017 Women’s March}

 

For my 100th article (!!!), I wanted to touch base about a recently received Instagram DM that asked told me to “stop talking about politics”, with the threat that they would unfollow me if I didn’t. I politely wrote back this:

Hi, thanks for letting me know how you feel. After considering your request I’ve decided that I will continue to post “political” things.  To suggest that I bury my head in the sand or abstain from using the small platform I have for good is simply not something I will do. I’m glad you think my page is “fun”, but my ability to choose to separate the “fun” in my life from the real struggle and oppression of others, comes solely from a place of privilege and I refuse to exercise that privilege. I hope you continue to stay and join the conversation.

I haven’t checked, but I’m going to assume they unfollowed me.

I’m not shy about how I feel, politically or otherwise, and I have a personal history of activism, protesting, writing to senators, and publishing political pieces. I never considered keeping that piece of my life separate from the blog. How could I? How could I look at this opportunity to share a new viewpoint with someone, let someone know that they aren’t alone, let someone know that they have an ally? Would you?

This person who wrote to me is not the first, and they often say the same things about my “liberal agenda”. What’s interesting to me is that I don’t think of this as me having an “agenda”, I certainly don’t think of it as partisan, and to be honest, I don’t even think of them as political issues. Yes, there are issues that we need to resolve through legislation, but so many of these issues are human rights issues. Access to affordable healthcare, the right to choose what happens to my body, the right to seek asylum without being separated from your children, the right to speak out without fear of retribution from your government, these aren’t the rights of a US citizen, these are the rights of all humans. Everyone deserves these rights.

I don’t know what else I can say about it besides the fact that I will not be stopping.

Personal Note: ethical brand relationships & more life

 

It was a nice slow day here at ASH (Akhlaghi-Shephard Home). Yesterday was a Wednesday that felt like a Sunday and today was a Thursday that felt like a Friday — must be a combination of short winter days and yesterday’s squall.

I took advantage of a slightly lighter workday (unheard of in Q4) and low-grade fever to indulge in a little “me time”. The blog got a major aesthetic update yesterday and I’ve been thinking more and more about its content, design, longevity, and where I want to go with it. Several months ago I decided that I was going to play out the brand contracts I had and focus on keeping all future contracts within my guidelines of ethical and representative companies. I’ve never wanted the blog to be simply a soapbox for myself, but rather a connection piece for advice, new ideas, and even material goods that are high-quality and consciously consumed.

The more I consider bringing more “lifestyle” into the blog, the more I’m realizing that I need to share more of my own life to do so. I’m naturally introverted and slightly more private about my goals and day to day life, but in the next chapter of WM I really want to bring you all with me.

Another goal of mine is to expand into more spaces and platforms. I gave Youtube a go (rip) and found that it wasn’t the right platform as I move forward. Maybe someday I’ll be a vlogger, today is not that day. However, I like the idea of having a space to share all my little favorite bits and bobs. A place where my day to day ideas, interests, and thoughts are reflected. Returning to my old Pinterest (which has been sitting unused since 2016) was a trip down memory lane. Reorganizing was a joy.

 

 

They have so many new features since the last time I was on (the “Sections” attribute really spoke to my Type A personality) and I had so much fun building little Boards and Sections and pinning away. I see why it’s catchy. This recipe, in particular, is calling my name but may have to wait. I have been patiently and methodically feeding my sourdough starter for nearly two weeks now to get it matured and flavorful and this weekend it is finally going to be time to bake this puppy into delicious loaves. I honestly cannot wait. I’ve completely shifted into soup mode — Seinfeld reference anyone? — and am looking for anything to dip my sourdough into.

That’s all for this little check-in. Admittedly this felt awkward to write, but I anticipate that’s the result of covering new terrain.

Personal Note: adapt. react. readapt. apt.

*100 Schrute Bucks to anyone who gets that reference*

 

Let’s get into it. A few weeks (months?) ago I took about five full days away from IG and it finally gave me the space to realize what I want to change about how I interact with the app, what I bring to it, and what I takeaway. I feel like the internet is full of these “epiphany” style posts, and that’s not what this is, this is a pivot.

On a walk last night, I started to spiral into my “here’s where the blog is and here’s where I want it to go” chats and found I was repeating myself, and that I had been repeating myself for weeks. I don’t see the future of the blog on Instagram. Do I see a presence there? Absolutely. Do I see it being the money-maker, the main focus? Not at all. In the past few months, I’ve spent so much time worrying about it and focusing on it that it’s pulling from what I truly love to do: write.

The blog is my website. Let’s pause and let that soak in. It’s my website. It’s my space to create, write, edit, adapt, react, readapt, apt. I do everything here for you. I want to create something that is worth your time and energy to read. I want you to gain something of substance from it, even if that thing you gain is “she is so wrong and here’s why…” I don’t see that same impact on an IG feed post.

When I started blogging it was as a creative outlet and I think I viewed “making it” as having tons of sponsored IG content, brand deals, promo codes, etc. Money, money, money. I’m currently in that position, where I continually have to turn down brand deals because I cannot take on the workload being offered to me. I feel so fortunate to get to work with such amazing brands and the volume has allowed me to be highly selective in who I work with. I prioritize working with companies that are led or founded by women, particularly women of color, and love every moment. I never work with fast fashion companies. I investigate every company I work with and ask myself “Can I ethically support and encourage others to support this type of a company, brand, CEO?” That is absolutely something that I want to continue in the future. Sharing those types of brands with you all is incredibly important to me and I want to expand and share them not only on IG but here as well.

So, on Instagram, to sum up, we’re having fun, you look young…but that’s not enough (another TV reference I hope you get). I’ve spent the past few weeks shifting my focus from IG to the blog and I am more in love with this space than I have been before. I’m turning down a lot of brand deals because they don’t want content on the blog, they just want a pretty photo on IG. Which I find a little odd because sure I have 13.8K followers on IG but the exposure of each post is maybe 1.2K. On the blog, I have over 20K monthly visitors, with each post getting about 2.4K views.

In the future, I am planning on pulling back slightly on IG content, specifically on the constant stories posting and focusing more on the blog. I’d love to build to posting 3-4 times a week and if that means not posting every single day on IG or seeing my IG followers count fall then I’m fine with that. My heart is, and has always been, in writing and creating. I love writing and editing, designing shoots, I love reading your messages, I love chatting with you all, I love hearing how you’re implemented my advice. I love every moment of this world. What I don’t love is when a pressure to post something, anything, on IG to compete with an algorithm.

It makes me stressed.

It strips the joy of creating, which is why I’m here in the first place.

Checking In: a new look, a new outlook

Hello 🙂

Things here may look a little different than you’ve previously seen on my site. I wouldn’t call this a complete “re-vamp”, but withMolly has definitely seen a few changes over the past several months.

About six months ago I found that using Wix.com was not conducive to my goals for the blog. Contrary to what their enticing Karlie Kloss ads will have you believe there are significant faults within the customization options of their site. And, because it’s built on a “drag-and-drop” model, the CCS and HTML coding is very sloppy which makes adding any custom CSS pretty tricky. This creates a fairly big issue if the customization you are looking for isn’t available through their interface. For example, they do not offer the ability to edit the font size of a blog post. How BASIC does that function seem? I truly despised looking at my blog posts for so long because I felt like the font was that of an “easy-reader” e-book.

So I go to work rebuilding my entire site on a new platform: WordPress.

While doing this I refrained from posting new blog content, which is why it’s been MONTHS since you’ve seen new content. While I wish this hadn’t been a side effect of the Wix > WordPress move it was necessary. Rebuilding and recoding the site took a lot of time, was very frustrating, and seeing content go up on my old Wix site would have driven me up a wall. Why dig deeper into the ditch you’re trying to escape at the same time you’re building a ladder?

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But thankfully we’ve come out the other side! In so many ways this site is similar to my previous blog (I did love the design), but in other ways, it’s very different! The overall design is cleaner with less manual updates required. Of course, there are branding updates (will I ever settle on a logo?) but I’m most excited about the footer – it’s so beautiful! The footer on my OG site was created through Wixes drag and drop features. This new site required actual coding which has taken FOREVER to get right. I’m sure you’ll still see minor tweaks to it in the coming weeks as I learn more about coding, but for now, it’s a huge source of pride for me. 🙂

When thinking up new ideas I knew that I wanted this space to be much more visual and pleasing to view (you all deserve it after that massive font — clearly that’s a sore spot for me!). I also really enjoyed this opportunity to get more into coding and use it to completely customize how everything looks, feels, and interacts with each other. I’m self-taught at coding so it’s been tricky, tough, and frustrating, but absolutely love when it works! (PS: if you have a solid strategy for importing a .JSON file into HTML or PHP please hmu…).

But, I digress … I’m very excited to step forward with this NEW and IMPROVED site 🙂 There are several new surprises coming down the pipeline for you all and I cannot wait to share every piece with you all.

Thank you all and I love each and every one of you!

xx, M

*if you are not seeing the new site please clear your cache and refresh the page!*

Checking In: where we’re going

“Enjoy yourself; that’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons. Your 40s are to pay for the drinks.”

Sex and the City

 

Sadly I have to disagree with one of my favorite, fictitious (although she’s quite alive in my mind) characters, Carrie Bradshaw. Your 20s are for more than just enjoying yourself, your 20s are the time to lay a foundation for your career, relationships, morals, and to find where you stand and fit into the larger picture.

I’ve always set massive, 10 y down the line goals for myself. I know that by the time I am 35 I want to be full time devoted to an entrepreneurial project that I have created. I’ve started and stopped so many small projects that I’m taking with Molly one day at a time. No pressure, just enjoying the process.

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I think the realization that in my mid-20s I still know nothing and that I am just waking up to who I am and what I want has been incredibly grounding for me. It’s made me wake up and toss out the “oh me oh my” routine that baby boomers claim plague my millennial generation.

Getting myself to NYC by my birthday (end of October) is a huge goal for myself, and something that I was surprised to see on paper. There are a lot of things that need to happen before I get there. I’m digging myself out of debt, keeping my head above water at work, and planning for a future with my boyfriend. Getting myself to NYC by my birthday…is a huge goal for myself, and something that I was surprised to see on paper.

Digging into my financial life, and seeing where I need to make cuts and adjustments to reach my goal of moving to NYC is something that has put me in the driver’s seat of my own life. I started this project at more than $8K in CC debt. After nearly six weeks of trimming back in every way I can, learning how to not online shop and fill my time with other things, and learning how to skip eating out in order to save $, I have knocked that number down to $3,652. This is a huge success for me and made me that if I want something I have to go for it. Sitting around hoping that my boyfriend will get an NYC job and I can ride to my dream city on his coattails is ridiculous and childish.

It seems like this should be the most obvious, but it wasn’t to me, until now.

Setting a massive goal for myself, to dig out of $8K+ debt, save more than $15K, and move to NYC without a job, just to chase a dream, that’s a new frontier for me. I spent four years of dreaming of New York, taking day trips every chance I could, and focusing on someday instead of taking ownership of the situation and slapping a tangible date on someday.

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Someday isn’t coming. I’m using my 20s to find and kick out all the places in my mind where I focus on an aspiration without working for it. We are surrounded by aspirational marketing every day, through social media, magazines, and more. Trust me, I know, it’s my job.

I thought I would move to the city of my dreams someday, but I decided to determine when someday will be.