A Very Southwestern Birthday Trip Recap

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Cactus patterns and an obsession with the American Southwest have been growing in popularity over the last several years, but I personally just didn't *get it* until I took a road-trip in late 2016 out that way. It's hard to not feel dwarfed and amazed while driving through Monument Valley, and I was hooked. I knew I had to get back to Utah and Arizona as fast as possible.

I finally returned (15 months feel like a long time when you've fallen in love with a landscape) in December of 2017 and made a point to see new sights and national parks. My partner and I packed up her giant Ram Rebel and smashed a lot of locations and activities into a mere 8-day tour. Instead of the regular end-of-year holiday festivities, we opted to spend Christmas Day in Arches National Park and my birthday in Zion National Park. Pretty good decisions all around. 

I wanted to make another recap video of this trip because I knew this would be a trip worth documenting with all of its stunning scenery and new experiences, so I hope you'll peep it below!

I've included some of my favorite snaps from the trip below as well. I wanted to upgrade to a new digital camera before our trip, and feel obligated to show off what I captured because the camera was a fairly big investment... I haven't used as it as much as I intended to when I purchased it, but I'd like to change that. So hopefully this blog will become a place to showcase any other fun photo romps I go on. 

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Locations Featured in the Video (In Order of Appearance):
Work and Class
Comrade Brewing Co.
Hudson Hill
High Country Healing
Clocktower Cabaret
Lucille's Creole Cafe
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Bryce Canyon
Thunderbird Restaurant
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Thai Sapa Restaurant
Zion National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Meteor Crater in Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park
Painted Desert

Not A Socialite: An Ode to Misconceptions

Social media makes it all too easy for you to think something is something that it isn't. It can give you false ideas about people, places, and events. It's especially dangerous when it comes to only sharing the highlights and shiny parts of your life (FOMO, anyone?). For the most part, we all want to be liked. We want everyone else to think that we're enjoying our lives, succeeding at our dreams, and having a grand old time. Social media can lead us to believe all sorts of incorrect stories and identities. We start constructing how we perceive others to be by putting them in boxes that make sense to us: nerd, workaholic, partier, homebody, socialite. Since grade school, I've been a person that greatly dislikes being put into boxes. And at one point last year, someone referred to me as a socialite in a negative manner and they couldn't be further from the truth.

Do y'all know about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test? It's been a fad for several years now, and it's almost as pervasive as astrology when it comes to people trying to put you in a box. You meet someone new these days and they automatically want to know what your Myers-Briggs type is. Between being told by others what they thought I was, and taking the test once, I was pegged as an ENFP at first, and then later, an ENFJ. The only important part (for the purpose of this post) to remember out of this acronym is the E - because it stands for Extraversion. Being extraverted generally means that you pull energy from that of others, you enjoy being in group settings, and you feel comfortable being in or near the center of attention. 

People might assume that I'm a socialite or an extravert because I am "out" while DJing and go to events here and there around the city. For the most part, I consider DJing to be a job (that I love), so just because I'm up until 3am some weekends doesn't mean I want to be out amongst the stumblers, ramblers, and generally tipsy type. DJing doesn't mean you are or want to be the center of attention, either. I spin for the love of music and to help others enjoy themselves while out. Nothing is more satisfying than a full crowd at a bar, bumping along to the music you're playing. In addition to DJing, many of the events I have attended in the past few years around Saint Louis have been connected to blogging, which I too consider a job. 

Toss in my friendly charisma, and you have a strong case for this whole socialite/ENFJ gibberish.

Enter my therapist. Recently, we talked about how I have felt that my energy had been completely sapped by this past year. She asked if I preferred one-on-one time with people and partners rather than in big groups, and I answered yes. She asked if I feel like I need to recharge by being at home, and if I hit "a wall" while being in busy environments for too long. I also answered yes to these. And then she said, "So, you must be an introvert." 

I replied, "Wait. I've always thought I'm an extravert."
She said, "Are you sure?" 

Surprise! I'd been beginning to wonder this myself. Over the last several months, I would fall apart after being over-stimulated at busy bars while not DJing/working. Being in groups of people might make me feel neglected or alone because I thrive on those one-on-one interactions. Everyone seemed to constantly assume I could go, go, go until the sun would rise, when in fact you might discover me clutching the edge of the bar whispering aloud to no one, "I just want to go home." But how could I be what seemed like such the opposite of who I (and apparently many people who knew me) thought I was? 

I was temporarily beyond confused. You could find me hiding in my bed for nearly two weeks on end every second that I wasn't at work. The realization that I had been trying conduct myself as an ENFJ while I was most likely not one opened floodgates of accidental understanding. Suddenly, a whole lot of the mess I was sifting through while healing made quite a bit more sense. 

I talked with a friend a weeks ago about losing yourself. A sense of self-loss can be brought about by many things, and although her situation and mine are not equal - because every human experiences different journeys - they are similar in response to grief and healing. I wouldn't say that right now I don't know who I am, because I have worked throughout my life to "know" me. I know where my morals, ethics, dreams, and passions lie. Even in my darkest moments, I can remind myself what makes me "me." I'm very proud of not changing for the worse, when it would have been so easy to lash out at those who have hurt me. If you work to know your true self, doesn't that mean that you ARE your best self?

If you spend a good chunk of time trying to fit into a box that is mislabeled, eventually things may get a little muddy. I still not 100% certain about this Myers-Briggs hullabaloo, but I do now further grasp how it can help you evaluate how you relate to others. I won't fully ever subscribe to this idea that your assigned letters describe you completely. Thanks to therapy, and a little self-reflection, however, I'm much closer to understanding the parts of myself that have largely been ignored or dismissed due to a silly box with a sticker that says ENFJ. 

And now? I'm looking forward to getting to know my introverted self better. 


Photo: A. Gillardi Photo

On The Lessons of Hitting Rock Bottom

A few days ago, I lifted my glasses to my face and momentarily couldn't figure out why my vision was blurry. I took my glasses off and realized they were stained with tear streaks. Oh, good heavens. What have I gotten myself into?

It's Earth Day weekend 2017 and I haven't left my house once today, except to let the dog out. Our weather started out with drizzles and a completely overcast sky, but has since changed to sun, with our beautiful Midwest clouds floating by. I've always been a fan of Earth Day, and it's most definitely something I would love to be more involved with. But, what if I can't even get off the couch? What if my fears overweigh my desire to go party with my eco-conscious community? 

I once made a promise to be more "real" on this blog. I believe it was just over a year ago, and for a while, I followed through and delivered. Then, life happened. A lot of life happened that included a lot of promises that were unfulfilled. In the past year, I've gone through just about every ringer you could ever name. Coming out on the other side of months and months of changes, hard work, unconditional self-giving, and heartbreak has left me asking a lot of questions about myself and how I relate to others. The more I open up to other people about what 2016 was for me, the more I hear back, "I can't believe that happened" and "That makes no sense whatsoever." And last month, when things went from unbelievable to pure and utter confusion for me, I fell apart. 

Fun fact: People change. Even more fun fact: Sometimes, people change so fast, so immensely, that you're left in the dust of what once was and you hide under your bedcovers because the weight of the confusion scares you too much to function. 

Here's the most fun fact, and my first lesson learned: It's okay to fall apart. Sadness and anxiety can combine into a total tempest and knock you off your feet. I've been thinking a lot about how the internet and social media glamorize anxiety, depression, and often: people don't believe you when you're hurting or tell you to cheer up or "take care of yourself." When your body, which is meant to protect your heart and soul, betrays you and stops you from being able to eat, you drown. When you've lost your best friend and feel strange reaching out to other people because you don't want to dump your problems on them, you drown further. You sit in silence every moment of every day because music resurrects memories and emotions, and the silence makes you feel suffocated. And when you miss three days of work because you're already in so deep you can't breathe, you finally reach the bottom.
 

There are all sorts of sayings and short anecdotes that I can use to describe what just happened in my life. I started to remind myself constantly that "it's always darkest before the dawn," which is a lyric pulled from Florence + The Machine's "Shake it Out," and I haven't even listened to this song in quite some time. I basically gave up on trying to be okay and just let the darkness happen. Sleeping for days on end eventually got old. Being weak and tired and emotionally terrified of social media and everyday life started to feel stale as well. Crying all the time after talking to anyone who was even the slightest bit of friendly became more frustrating than cathartic.  

Finally reaching out for help was about the most petrifying thing I've ever done, but it was the second lesson I learned. When you might think you need help, you likely do. Honestly, I could have used help a long time ago. Truth be told, I've kind of always thought I had quirks, but I never looked into where they might have sprouted from. Turns out, I'm a relatively anxious person that just sort of hides it well, and my quirks weren't quirks at all, but rather, small little ticking time bombs of anxiety traps. And it also turns out that therapy is about the best type of self-care one can do. Just because some people will find a way to survive without it, doesn't mean that you have to try, too. Listen to what you need from yourself - and if a seeking professional assistance is the answer, accept that call. 

Another lesson I'll share today is that it truly is important to not care what others think of you. I mean this in a sense of self-defense, not in a way of saying this gives you the right to do whatever you want, without regard for others' emotions or well-being (because there are people who actually live like this, I've learned). It means that if you decide to suddenly open up on your basically dead blog because you spent all your time on another human instead of writing, then so be it. 

My therapist made a great point this week about how people "like us" tend to give all of ourselves to those we adore, and although we should expect the same of others, we don't often receive it. And at some point, I need to understand that taking care of myself comes before taking care of others. Grieving is a process, and as long as you're not harming others while putting yourself first, you shouldn't care what others think. I never thought that I'd be at the tail-end of my twenties, sincerely excited to see a therapist and "move the hell on with my life." 

So, in honor of celebrating myself, and in honor of healing, I'm going to throw myself back into this. I'm going to write myself raw, and hopefully shed some light on how anxiety and depression are real things that happen to real people after traumatizing events. Therapy is good, and safe, and needed. Self-care can be crafted in even the littlest ways. I want to be myself again, and my blog has always been an extension of that self I have come to miss very dearly. 

Thanks for bothering to read my rambles, and thanks also in advance for following along on this little healing journey. I hope it's not too boring! Who am I kidding - it's going to be ANYTHING but boring from the looks of it. Seeya along the way. 

OOTD: End of Summer Shades

Just because summer has ended doesn't mean we have to lose all the color in our wardrobes! Personally, I don't pay too much attention when it comes to seasonal shades anymore. Part of trying to organize my closet and really focus on wearing what I want, when I want, is having items that work almost all year round. This wild-print vintage Wrangler shirt came to me by way of my beloved Avalon Exchange, and I practically live in it. Perfectly broken-in, with the right fit and funky flair... I think this shirt is me if I had to be a clothing item. 

As part of my moving into supporting almost strictly USA-made products, sustainable-focused companies, and shopping mostly secondhand, I did a little research while searching for a new pair of skinny jeans. I had learned about Agave Denim a few months back as the local men's boutique Mister Guy carries them, and was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of their women's jeans on super sale. Agave Denim is crafted in the USA and the quality is A+. Wearing these jeans feels like a second skin - they're that soft and stretchy. However, I think I might have them hemmed a bit, as my legs are obnoxiously short. 

Having friends that participate in and support your shenanigans is still something I'm getting used to. For a while there, being a young adult was difficult when it came to making new friends. However, this lovely lil' lady happened into my life by way of the hair salon I frequent, and she moved into an apartment on my street this year. Terresina and I have started getting together to work on our personal creative writing, and I'm stoked she let me take her photo for the blog as well. Hopefully we'll be able to share some of our work eventually!

These goofy round glasses get a lot of attention when I wear them, so I feel that I should mention I snapped them up for about $15 from Zenni Optical. It's a website where you can fill in your eyeglass prescription from your doc, and get some ridiculously cheap specs. I have a few pairs from Zenni now because the price is so right! 
 

Outfit Details:
Shirt & Shoes: Avalon Exchange   |   Jeans: Agave Denim   |   Necklace: Thrifted

An Update: No NYFW This Year & Why

Being sick this past week has given me a lot of time to think. It's given me a chance to sit still, be in quiet spaces, and approach myself. As well as time to hang out with my beautiful pitbull pup Cher, who you see above looking rather serene in a scene of chaos she once created. In a few days, I went from having a severe head cold to stomach virus-like symptoms that had me crying this morning in pain on the couch. When you're so totally out of your general head space, it gives you an opportunity to pour over ideas, questions, and concerns you may not have dedicated previous consideration. Bear with me - I've had a lot of things to pour over lately. 

I have been quiet a lot on the blogging front, and it's because I have been giving some serious consideration to WHAT this blog means, is, and represents. First of all, I know that it represents me - and what does that mean for me? What does this blog's existence showcase? A few days ago, I posted an update that came from a feverish desire to put into words thoughts that were tumbling around inside my head. I was struggling to even come up with content to post here, because I'm in the planning stages of shifting the focus of this blog in a new direction.

And then, suddenly, it occurred to me that going to New York Fashion Week this year would simply be a waste of time and money. The first year I went, it was about getting into a handful of shows, experiencing Fashion Week up close and personal, and establishing myself as a blogger. Last year, I chose to make it more of a personal trip with a few events thrown in. This year, I was planning to use the personal angle again, and then it struck me that I just am not as excited to go as I should be. I haven't planned for months, I haven't looked at events, and frankly - it's not who I am anymore. 

I'm constantly evolving on a personal level - so why shouldn't my blog? Why should I spend money I'd rather save (heavens knows I NEED to save) on a trip that isn't anything new for me, and currently doesn't align with my values? 

I've had a handful of conversations with friends lately about 1) Being personally creative and 2) How social media defines who you are. For me, this blog has been an outlet for creativity. It was a chance to have fun with my clothes, share my experiences, and collaborate with other creative minds, photographers, and companies. Just as another person might sketch, paint, write music, or bake to fuel their creative side, blogging helped me have a focus on making something. 

A problem that comes with blogging is the misconception that it's for attention, having your photograph taken, receiving free clothes, or for any number of selfish reasons. Certainly - I have received a number of items in trade for blog posts, but I've chosen to work with brands and companies I would support on my own if given the chance. I've worked so hard to be as genuine as possible on this platform, but I know that there will always be people who take one look at me and have the wrong idea. Social media perpetuates this over and over and over. We put up our prettiest images all over the internet. We share what makes us feel good. We want to show the world how happy we are, even when we might not be, because no one wants to see what's really going on below. I feel that my blog and social media should accurately represent me - all of me. 

I know what makes me feel real, honest, and most connected to myself, so why take a trip to an event that isn't representing who I am at the moment? I'd much rather pour energy into poetry (another personal project I've been tending to ever so gently and brings me great joy), building stronger personal relationships, booking fun DJ gigs, saving my hard-earned money, and maybe taking a trip somewhere else that would be more fulfilling. I had a dream last night I was in Hawaii, which has always been a place I'd like to visit. Maybe I'll start a piggy bank for an island trip. I miss traveling to new places with a burning heartache. I miss being in a place completely unknown to me, and discovering more about myself while at the same time, I discover a new city, country, mountainside, sleeping volcano.

New York, I love you - but you're not for me this year, and here's a bit more on why:

My personal taste and this blog's main emphasis have always been tilted towards vintage, secondhand, and local clothing or items. I much prefer to know the source if possible, or to recycle and reuse. That has become, recently, a much more serious topic in my personal life and choices. Have you seen The True Cost? If you're interested in learning more about where your clothes are crafted, and ready to face the harsh reality of the fashion industry's detrimental effects on our planet and human race, sit yourself down and watch that documentary. 

Even before watching that film a few weeks ago, I had already made up my mind that fast fashion is something that can be avoided completely in my life. I'm ready to no longer buy cheap clothing for the sake of having options. I'm ready to dedicate time into finding and supporting conscious, sustainable, and USA-made companies and products, and willing to spend a little extra money on them. In this vein, I know so many folks who are into using handmade, DIY, and natural products. Using natural products at home is great for the environment, but do you understand that saving our planet goes beyond that? 

The fashion industry, for the most part, ignores the dangerous repercussions of cheap mass production. In turn, much of the general population remains uneducated on how the US alone generates approximately 11 million tons in textile waste. I want to remove myself from this equation, and research more fully how I can reduce my wasteful footprint - in and outside of fashion. I hope to find a contact within the local community to speak with regarding sustainability in St. Louis Fashion Week, and I'll keep y'all updated on how that goes. 


So, in short, thanks for hanging around and listening to me babble. I try my best to be genuine, and it's time for me to take that further and become genuinely responsible. 

On Being Purposely Uncomfortable

We've all heard inspirational quotes referring to instances of struggle leading to a happy ending, right? Today, I've been spending a lot of time with Florence + The Machine's "Shake it Out" and the particular line "It's always darkest before the dawn." This song comes back to me again and again, whether it be by way of shuffle or the afore-mentioned line creeping into my mind. 

At the end of last week, I started feeling dragged down, lethargic, and emotionally quiet. I chalked it up to being over-stimulated by social happenings, but then Sunday morning I woke up with the head cold to end all head colds. By Monday morning, I was a walking, certifiable mess. I could barely stay upright for fear of the congestion knocking me back over. All I could stomach was Campbell's chicken noodle soup. That night, I stood under my shower's waterfall, shaking in exhaustion. 

Here's a fun fact about me: I'm terribly temperature sensitive. Hot water will send me screeching to the hills, and I am forever skittish around cold pool water even on the warmest of days. However, I know it's beneficial to steam out congestion if you can when you're sick, so I stepped into my shower and cranked that sucker up pretty damn high. 

I cried because I was uncomfortable, I cried because I was tired, I cried because I felt silly for staying home from work, I cried because my friend Maddy was kind enough to agree to bring over "get better" supplies, I cried because I forgot to bring my face wash into the bathtub. 

As I was wrapping myself up in my towel, sniffling through tears, I realized I most definitely could breathe more easily. I was red as a tomato from the heat of the water, but I also no longer felt like my head was going to pop from the pressure inside. 

So then I cried some more.

Society conditions us to avoid being vulnerable. We're taught from an early age to never give up, to push through pain, to always be on top. But there will come days when a head cold knocks you off your feet and you have to be honest with yourself and choose to stay home from work. It's probably best for your coworkers, too, but you feel like you somehow let them down, even when you do your best to complete your work remotely. You'll toss and turn all night and have strange dreams that feel too close to reality, but they slip through your fingers as you fumble to turn off your alarm in the afternoon sunlight. You'll open can of worm conversations because you're trying your best to understand situations you'll never grasp. You'll feel ashamed that you napped for three hours in the middle of the day, even though it helped you feel monumentally better. 

And in the end - you might learn that there is strength in stepping into a hot shower on purpose because you know that it will help, no matter how much it hurts at the time.

Tat Chat: Saint Louis' Cammeron Donnelly

You might have heard I have some new ink. I'm turning into one of those people that requires acquiring a new tattoo every few months, otherwise I start to get a little antsy! In January, I sought out the super talented Cammeron Donnelly to do a David Bowie tribute tattoo. Camm is patient, thoughtful, creative, and easy to work with. I love collaborating on projects with my tattoo artists so that I get something pretty unique, and also allows the artist to put their own style into the work. After the success of my Bowie piece, I knew Camm was the one to continue working with! I started my leg sleeve with him in May, and wanted to help you get to know him as well. Read on below to learn more about this awesome human!

Camm has been tattooing for about 11 years after starting his first apprenticeship around 2004. He bopped around in shops until landing in Seattle's Lucky Devil South with Ernie Gosnell, Paco Rollins and the rest of the team. He says of the shop, "It wasn't until I met them that I realized what I was looking for the whole time. Community, family, a sense of belonging. They are truly my family and never will let me forget it." I think most of us look for that in a work space! 

When I asked Camm about his inspirations, he mentioned Alphonse Mucha, which I can see reflected in Camm's renderings of beautiful women. Another inspiration is a familiar name to the public: Don Ed Hardy - famous for his tattoos on clothing and accessories. One of his other inspirations is R.K. Sloane, who is well known for his macabre and fascinating works of art. I think you can see that a little bit in Camm's personal work and original designs - I love some of his "spookier" work! Speaking of spooky, Camm houses some of his equipment in a stunning mini-coffin with gorgeous velvet interior. Maybe he's a vampire as well as a tattooer. The coins embedded in his machine caught my photographer Abby's eye, and Camm tells us that they represent his grandfather: the big coin is from his cremation and the little ones are Liberty coins from his birth year.

I asked Camm out of curiosity if there's anything he'd never tattoo on someone based on his personal preference. I was thinking he'd say something more along the lines of "knuckle tattoos" or an image he finds silly, but he responded with "Hate tattoos. Tattooing was meant to be a form of self expression. if thats something you feel expresses who you are than your money could be better spent talking to someone about your misguided priorities." Agreed, Camm. The projects he prefers to work on are larger scale, such as sleeves or back pieces. I often joke about those areas being "prime real estate," and he echoed my sentiment with "I enjoy the labor of making the tattoo look like it was supposed to be there - like it's always been there. Let's be honest, there's more room to sink your teeth into and really give it all you've got."

Speaking of great real estate, I started working on my leg sleeve in May with Camm! I'm a huge nerd (if you didn't already know), and an important part of growing up for me was ravenously devouring books. The Tolkien world of Middle Earth was one of my favorites, and I really wanted to pay homage to my love for his work. If I was going to start with a large piece, I knew it needed to be dynamic, fantastical, and fun. One of the most climatic events in Tolkien-tale is when Smaug the dragon is smoked right out of the sky, so I focused on that - I knew Camm would be down to dance with a dragon and do some incredible work. And here we are! 

The majority of this outline session was pretty easy - but I can say with certainty the back of my leg was an absolute nightmare. I am NOT looking forward to working on that again. I'll be adding color in a month or two, and I cannot wait to see how it all turns out. Stay tuned!

Camm is a dream to work with, so if you're in the market for a new piece, seek him out currently at Iron Age in the Delmar Loop. He welcomes consultations, so give him a call there and talk to him about your next idea! 

Find more of Camm here:
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Photos: Abby Gillardi

On Getting Road Trip Ready: Nashville!

Let’s be real. I love my city, but sometimes it’s really great to just get the heck out of it for a few days at a time. I'm doing just that starting this afternoon! Road trips are one of the easiest ways to do that, and one of Saint Louis’ best qualities is that it’s situated in the middle of a good number of cities that make great weekend getaways. I’ve done Chicago, Kansas City, and Memphis, but the one that seems to be the most popular amongst my friends is the one I’ve never been to - Nashville! Or, "Nashvegas" as some of my pals lovingly call it. I’m long overdue for a road trip in general so it only makes sense that I’d hit the city I’ve never experienced. Because I'm road trip rusty, I thought I'd share a little bit about how I've been preparing for the journey! 

My first thought when planning a new trip usually revolves around Can My Car Handle This? If you know me in the real world, you'll know that I recently sold the car I'd been driving for 10 years. I was ready for a new decade-long relationship on wheels, and my little Mazda 3, Ozzy, is much better equipped to travel further than just across Saint Louis City. I spent some time with my dad this past weekend getting more acquainted with all of Ozzy's innards, levels, and tire air to make sure she's road trip-ready. Aside from low air in her spare tire, she's in the clear! 

The next big thing I always think about when it comes to travel is What The Hell Happens To My Wallet? Budgeting isn't always a perfect science, but because I've been traveling on my own more frequently, I'm able to better plan my spending. The first things I factor in are travel expenses, accommodation expenses, and food. Travel expenses aren't terrible when it comes to road tripping, especially if you've got a buddy to share gas purchases with. Accommodation expenses were originally going to be low or nonexistent as my partner has a close friend we had hoped to stay with, but alas! She is out of town. Luckily, Airbnb offers such a wide range of places to book, we were able to find a cute spot for a great price. This will be my first time staying at an Airbnb, but I have heard so many great stories about being able to stay with locals and learning about the city from a dweller. Check back for our experience at the "Nashville Nest!" Our host sounds so friendly and sweet. I can't wait to meet her!

Food is really where I run into trouble because I LIKE TO EAT. I also like to try local favorites and recommended spots, so sometimes I end up at hot spots that have menu prices reflecting their popularity. I would totally love to splurge, but I'm gonna try my best to be a good girl. Some joints I've been eyeballing as recommended to me by friends are (images above L-R):
1) Biscuit Love - A food truck success story with brunch eats and an emphasis on local.
2) Two Ten Jack - Japanese flair pub with ramen, sushi, and more with a lady chef!
3) The Pharmacy - A lovely outside biergarten space with local beef, and a soda fountain!
4) The Lipstick Lounge - A queer bar aimed at the ladies. Well, duh. 

And of course, you know I gotta budget in a little bit of shopping! I hit up ALIVE Magazine's Fashion Editor and big-time Nashville fan, Sarah Stallmann, for some ideas. She sent over a list she actually compiled just last month! From that list, I think I'll be checking out: 
1) Local Honey - Apparently merchandised impressively for easy shopping!
2) Hip Zipper - A wide range of eras with affordable prices? Yes, please!
3) Nashville Flea - A giant flea market? Sign me the heck up. I love a good hunt. 

Unlike my travels to New York Fashion Week, I don't fret too much about fashion choices when it comes to road trips. Ultimately, we're looking at 90 degree temperatures, so I'm focused on packing light summer clothes and staying comfortable. I have a feeling overalls might be going with me... perhaps my cowboy boots, too! 

Have you been to Nashville lately? Do you have any favorite spots to hit while there?

Kicking Butt With Trainer Jeremy Genin

In the past two years, I've learned more about my body than I can explain. I've learned what works for it and what does not. I've experimented with varying levels of fitness, different types of exercise, and changes to my diet. In 2014, I was probably in the best shape since I stopped playing sports 24/7 in high school. I weighed the same weight I did in high school, and I was confident, sleek, and proud of every inch of my body. Two summers later, and I'm 20lbs heavier, but still in love with my form. However, I know I can do better. All efforts fell through when I lost a job in August of 2015, and I packed on weight due to a coinciding loss of motivation. Classes, gym friends, and easy access (the gym was next door to that job) help keep me on track, and I lost those with the job.

When the opportunity came up to work with local personal trainer Jeremy Genin, I jumped on it. He operates Functional Fitness in downtown Saint Louis, which has been super convenient for me because I work downtown most of the time. Jeremy offers both personal training sessions and group bootcamps, so I'm ready to get moving hardcore. 

My photographer friend Allan Crain graciously tagged along on my first day to help me document my starting state and provide a peek into what I'll be doing over the next several weeks!

Something super fun and also new to me is kickboxing! Who doesn't like punching things, especially when it's for fitness purposes? I've always wanted to try something like this, so Jeremy's classes and sessions are perfect for me. We have worked on kickboxing in both group and personal settings, so it's varied and stays exciting. Jeremy is also in-tune to what's going on with his pupils, and I can tell that he's able to see what each person's boundaries are, push you right to them, and just past what you think you are capable of. That's why - for me - training in a gym or group setting is more effective when aiming to build muscle. If you are alone, you're more likely to quit before you really hit that breaking point. 

I certainly felt like a total badass getting to punch stuff during this session, and since then, I've had a few chances in group sessions to work on my form. Being a former dancer, I automatically go into a soft, fluid form when it comes to action. A lot of control and snappy movements go into kickboxing, so my first day ended in seriously bruising the tops of my feet. Lesson learned - you land roundhouse kicks with your shin, and not near your ankle! But as I always tell myself, no pain no gain. After last night's bootcamp, I'm stiff as a board, but nowhere near light as a feather. That will come in time, and with loads of patience and hard work. 

And one of the best things about having a trainer is that they're your support system when it comes to keeping you moving forward with your patience and hard work. I've noticed that Jeremy tailors your exercises to your individual goals, even when you're in a bootcamp with 5-7 other people. I died last night trying to do pull-ups, but I know he had me do those on my own because I mentioned missing my defined upper body and back muscles. Along with weight lifting, sessions always include cardio, and I've already noticed a difference in my stamina with jumping rope in just a few weeks. Outside of working with Jeremy, I play soccer twice a week, and I am really looking forward to seeing how training helps my skills on the field. 

I'll be sharing more about my journey as time goes along, so check back in a few weeks to see how things have been going! I'll be doing some "before and after" photos again like I did with my yoga bender, and I'm betting these will be a lot more obvious when it comes to changes. 

Please pop over to http://www.functionalfitnessstl.com/ to learn more about Jeremy and to sign up for his newsletter - which will give you access to free work out videos, special offers, and more! And maybe I'll be racing you in sprints and punching with you soon as well! 

All photos courtesy of Allan Crain.

A Hungover Love Letter For My Party People

Dear Party People,

I'm writing you a love letter today. Why, you ask? Because sometimes, the world tells you that you shouldn't stay out until 3am, have that next shot, or stay in bed until 12pm on Saturday. Every once in a while, you'll be asked to grow up, leave your late nights behind, and be productive earlier than is physically possible for you on a weekend. But you know what? It's okay. I believe in you. I believe that you are still able to be responsible when you need to be, pay your bills (mostly) on time, and take care of your fur babies.

Let me digress a moment - I think I did this all backwards. I didn't drink before I turned 21. I can honestly count on one hand how many "illegal" beverages I imbibed before I entered the golden age of Youthful Sobriety. Yeah, yeah... I was a goody-two-shoes and saved my parents from the headaches of underaged drinking problems. Not to say that I didn't cause them headaches in other ways - love you, Mom and Dad! Even after I came of age, I didn't drink all that much. I waited until I moved out and lived with a friend, and then began to "hit the clubs." We would take turns being the designated driver and it worked out perfectly. Then I dated a bartender for a few years and upped the ante on twilight shenanigans, learned more about which liquors I can trust, and that Gatorade is my best friend on weekend mornings. As much fun as that relationship was while it lasted, I've leveled up even further on party mode now that I'm single.

Actually, being single is probably one of the best things you can do for you. Sure, I do like being a good girlfriend to someone, and sharing in the awesomeness that comes along with having a partner, but at the same time - I understand that it's also okay to be alone. And being on your own allows you to do whatever you want, whenever you want. That includes getting home from work on Friday, sleeping from 6 - 11pm, and then hitting your usual haunting grounds at 12:30am. That includes buying shots for your DJ pals, dancing with your friends, and falling asleep fully clothed and in your entire face of makeup. 

Having a lot of fun also includes busting your knee wide open. Waking up in the morning, peeling off your already torn-up stockings, and realizing that you probably could have used stitches but never felt a thing. 

Every once in a while I'll hear someone say, "Damn, I'm so glad I grew out of that phase." I don't ever want to grow out of this phase. This isn't a phase at all. This is knowing my limits, testing them, and suffering the consequences. This is being young, human, and enjoying my life to my fullest. Sure, I definitely get more terrible hangovers at the age of 27 than I did at 21, but now I know to get my tush out of bed, put my big girl pants on (ahem, leggings), and march across the street to the corner market and buy Gatorade. It doesn't matter if I look like Hell warmed over while doing it, at least I'm taking care of my business. 

I like to have fun. I like to hang out with my friends, support DJ buddies, and I'm basically halfway nocturnal now. That's my lifestyle. I'm also focused on being creative on my own time, maintaining amazing friendships (shoutout to Marisa for putting up with my hungover self this morning), furthering my career, learning new hobbies, loving on my family, and so much more. Just because I like to party doesn't mean that I'm any less of a functioning, normal citizen. 

So, my party people, I ask you to support one another. Even if those party people are sober. Even if they are not. Even if they party in a different manner than you. Don't judge them. Step in if you feel it's necessary for their health or safety, but otherwise give them a mental high five when they manage to make it into work on Monday in one piece. 

Keep up the good work, y'all.

 

Love,
Jillian