The Fake It ‘Til You Make It Theory

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In the eighth grade, my best friend Lindsay introduced me to a theory of hers: fake it ’til you make it. No, she wasn’t telling me to get catty with the popular crowd. She wasn’t telling me to cheat on tests or go to the tanning bed. She was teaching me to work hard and never let anyone or anything get me down. When the going gets tough, smack a smile on and keep pushing because, ultimately, you are worth more than the tough time you are going through.

A bit harder than it sounds, huh? When school work turns into work-work, friendships come and go so quickly, and high school flings turn into long distance challenges, this theory can sometimes be forgotten. Yet even after ten years, our juvenile hypothesis still exists. Today, I like to think of that 8th grade advice as my beginner’s course at Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS academy.

New York Time's Best Seller, #GIRLBOSS (photo sourced)
New York Time’s Best Seller, #GIRLBOSS (photo sourced)

You may have heard of Sophia Amoruso. She turned her hobby of selling vintage clothing into a 28-million dollar corporation called Nasty Gal – without borrowing a dime, I might add. She is also the author of the New York Times Bestseller, #GIRLBOSSSophia knows what’s up, and if you ask me, she is an avid user of the F.I.T.Y.M.I theory.

I read #GIRLBOSS about eight months ago. To this day, it has become some sort of ambition-bible to me. I have never been one to have a strict belief system. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to luck, magic, or anything of the sorts. I guess I have found that there is too much uncertainty in life. Though, there is one thing I can count on 100% of the time and that is myself. No tricks in the book can work as well as me working my ass off to reach a goal. Period. And when times get rough with work or relationships, that’s when you roll with the punches and keep moving.

I think it has to be mentioned that since the day I was born, my mother has warned me of two (among many) tormenting habits of mine. One is the ever-classic “watch your tone, Tarah Kathryn” and the other being “You are your own worst enemy.” Whether it was a prom dress that I wasn’t 150% confident in, a senior thesis that I picked to pieces right before it was due, or the 10-billion mistakes I made when starting my first job, I have NEVER had a problem scrutinizing myself.  Honestly, I think it comes pretty natural to most of us.

Now, I like to think of myself as a little angel and devil; a cheerleader and rioter; a Jekyll and Hyde of sorts. Everyone gets into a rut every now and then. It’s important to know how to motivate and have confidence in yourself because, trust me, sometimes it’s all that matters. It’s all about kicking ass but knowing when your plate is too full (sorry October blog posts!). Whenever I have a stressful week or a day that makes me feel numb inside and causes me to have to ice my eyeballs from computer-staring (yes, that happens. Sorry doc.), I turn to chapter six and let Sophia tell me why it’s so important to keep going and keep pushing.

“You get back what you put out, so you might as well think positively, focus on visualizing what you want instead of getting distracted by what you don’t want, and send the universe your good intentions so that it can send them right back.”

Without even knowing it, Sophia has read the F.I.T.Y.M.I handbook in more ways than one. In an early chapter, she talks about role models and the art of comparison. Though admiration can be good, there can also be a discouraging side to it – hello social media superstars!

“I don’t want you to look up, #GIRLBOSS, because all that looking up can keep you down. The energy you’ll spend focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol.”

The dictionary defines the word “fake” as a thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham. The irony of the F.I.T.Y.M.I theory is that, in order to truly make it, you can never fake yourself. In order to make your way to the top, you have to stay true to your values. Listen to others but take everything with a grain of salt. The second you lose your sense of encouraging-self, your theory has failed.

Before ending her book, Sophia instructs everyone to bet on themselves. Her stance is clear and to the point, stating that if you are frustrated because you are not getting what you want, you need to stop for a second and ask yourself: Have I actually flat-out asked for it? We can’t expect the world to read our minds.

“Whenever I’m faced with improbably situations, I remind myself that if I really want something badly enough, I have it within myself to make it happen.”

#GIRLBOSSes across the country chimed in on Sophia’s badassness and gave their own “how-to” tips:

Alexi Wasser, creator of imboycrazy.com advises us to “figure out what you love doing and don’t suck at, then try to figure out how to make a living doing that!”

Christene Barberich, Editor in Chief of Refinery29 urges readers to “stop caring so much about what other people think. Find a way to hear what you want. I don’t know if there is any greater feeling than proving you are your own biggest advocate.”

This is starting to sound like a You-Go-Girl speech for the ages, I know, but consider the sources here. Each of these women #girlbosses, have started companies, elevated brands, and formed solid, respectable reputations. They know what their talking about because they faked it ’til they made it, letting nothing get in their way. Whether it’s your dream to start your own company or to be the best employee your boss has ever seen, their advice works for you.

“You’re challenge as a #GIRLBOSS is to dive headfirst into things without being too attached to the results. When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility.”

Now, I am not Sophia Amoruso. The accomplishments under my belt probably look like a crumb left on her kitchen counter, but I get her and I don’t take her advice lightly. I have spent the beginning of my fall on a workaholics binge – and I wish I was talking about the tv show. That being said, I made little time for myself and my relationships. I forgot that the one thing that makes me most happy is my creativity. I was in a creative funk. Welp, it’s time for the funk to end and for me to get back to the blogisphere with my second #nextlevelchallenge:

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6 steps to get out of that creative funk:

  1. Know when your plate is too full and diet. Freelance design was taking over my me-time this summer. By cutting that out of my diet, I had time to write again.
  2. Rearrange your space. Move the furniture, change up your artwork, add a plant. Creating new scenes in your daily life can help you see things through a different light.
  3. Have a birthday. Okay, you can’t technically do this now if your birthday is in March but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate you. Order the champagne with lunch and get the pricey shoes.
  4. Explore. Get out of your everyday landscape and go see things. This is where I feel most inspired. Shh, my 4-day excursion to Miami is coming to the blog next week!
  5. Call an oldie but a goodie. A bestie always knows the answer; even the ones we don’t want to tell ourselves. Catching up with someone you love can make all the difference.
  6. Read and write it out. This is the best advice I’ve ever been given. Write out your thoughts. And of course, read #GIRLBOSS. Obvs.

In the final words of Sophia, “bad bitches are taking over the world… We’ve arrived, and we’re killing it. There’s a chance for you, #GIRLBOSS. So take it.” … and fake it ’til you make it. 

xoxo

Get the Look: Aspen Inspiration

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When you’re a florist’s daughter, you spend lots of time “smelling the roses;” drifting off into a creative space making your own floral arrangements and crafting holiday cards. In my glamorous elementary years, I discovered I had a knack for art. PlayDough, paint by number, stained glass kits… these were in abundance. During my middle school years I took things more seriously (ha!), dabbling with terracotta, paint brushes, and the art of collage. I loved working on paper, but there was one subject matter I became most fond.

I loved to rearrange my room. I mean, LOVED. My  rectangular personal hang-out would have a new vibe at least once every other month. If I couldn’t rearrange my own room (because let’s face it, my mom got sick of me moving furniture), I’d go over to my friends’ houses and rearrange theirs. I even convinced my family friend’s parents to let me rearrange their basement… I was like, fourteen.

Needless to say, I get a little excited at the thought of new and innovative design. I’m a regular ol’ sponge, if you will; ready to soak up fresh takes and up and coming design aesthetics.

Not much has changed in the past decade. I still love bringing new items into my home (tour here), and though I may not completely remodel the carriage house, it’s always nice to add fresh touches. And don’t worry, the decor list for my first home is on-point! I gather inspiration from some of my favorite designers, as well as elements around me. Some of my most recent (drool-worthy) inspo came from a work trip I took to Aspen, Colorado.

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I have to say, I’m pretty lucky to get to travel with my career as a graphic designer. Not to mention, I’m traveling with some of my best friends. I can’t name too many people that get those perks. Though there are many cities on my wish-list to visit, but oddly enough, Aspen wasn’t one of them. Sure, mountains are cool and all but… they’re mountains.

Boy, was I wrong. (I mean, duh.)

Each and every corner was a bit more breathtaking than the next. Color was everywhere and the architecture was so diverse that I don’t even know how to categorize it in my brain. Look left for cottages and look right for modern basket-weave architecture (is that even a thing?! YES.).

I’d have to say that one of my favorite spots was Hotel Jerome. I was color-crushing every. single. room. The deep blues of the cafe complimented the cowhide floor panels in such a unique way. The Prospect Room was a lighting-guru’s dream with sconces that could blow you away. Not to mention the chocolate striped flooring, rope-filled wall panels, and moldings that even the big-wigs would drool over.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Jerome
Photo courtesy of Hotel Jerome
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Photo courtesy of Hotel Jerome
Photo courtesy of Hotel Jerome
Photo courtesy of Hotel Jerome

In the week upon my return, I was not only jet-lagged and tired as hell, but I was also craving more design; more adventure. On August 12th, the Charleston West Elm store held it’s grand opening, including private tours for tastemakers in the area. I saw so much of Aspen in West Elm’s latest collection. It was the chic and luxurious side of  masculine industrial design, not to mention the range of worldly decor elements.

A decade ago, I thought Hobby Lobby would be my signature style guide for everything chic in the world. Well, no offense to Hobby Lobby, but I’m happy I grew out of that bubble. Design inspiration can come from anywhere. This month it’s Aspen and next, who knows? All I can do is keep exploring… and rearranging, of course. To wrap up, I’m sharing my favorite Aspen-inspired affordables from the latest edition to King Street, West Elm.

Happy shopping, my friends!

 

blanc’s big break + next level challenges ahead

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This summer has been one for the books. Though I’m not sure which book… because honestly I don’t see a lot of people interested in reading it. Sure, the highs trump the lows, but sometimes it’s the lows that we remember most. Not always because they hard or hurtful, but because we learn something from them. The sum of this year’s summer is equivalent to x2 = y6 + zy7k ^ 42 

 

What does that even mean, you ask? In lamest terms, it was challenging. It seemed as if life threw me sour lemonade and expected me to work my ass off to make it back into a whole fruit.

 

Between the added leadership and responsibility that came with my powerhouse coworker leaving for her NYC dream job, my identity being stolen and my bank account being hacked two months later (literally, I have zero dollars to my name at the moment and the most generous coworkers who buy my lunch), and the type-A “Planner’s Curse” that includes the big-ol’ stress ball of forever looking into the future. Will my boyfriend get a job in xyz city? Would I go with him? Is my portfolio prepared for that? What if I can’t get a job? Do I want to stay in graphic design? (Am I really admitting this online?!?) Some things never change (see my very first blog post).

 

Hence, the blogging break. Am I grateful for these challenges? 150%. They have  influenced me to step it up a notch and explore where I want this life to take me. This summer and the people in it have inspired in more ways than one.

 

I’ve always been one to oogle over a strong female entrepreneur. Motivational talks, how-to guides, inspirational quotes – I eat that stuff up like it’s ice cream about to melt. There’s always been a part of me that gets those entrepreneurs. It feels as if I have all the tools to start my little fire, I’m just waiting for my spark to catch flame.

 

Over the past few months, I’ve gained three new big sisters in the professional world. Though I’m not sure they know I exist, nor that I stalk their accounts on the reg, but they have proven to be my some of my best advice givers. Has anyone ever told you something that stuck with you for longer than you expected? That’s it.

 

Let’s hear the list, shall we?

 

Mandy Rye, founder of the ever popular and always innovative Waiting on Martha blog. I met (yes, MET!) Mandy at The Southern C conference in Charleston, South Carolina. Her talk about social media was one of the biggest highlights of the weekend. My hands chicken-scratched notes as I tried to restrain my major girl-crush on the stellar Mandy.

 

Mandy’s Advice that stuck: Ask yourself before posting, does this reflect my brand? Never, ever publish a photo unless it’s in natural light. Quality is better than quantity.

 

Aliza Licht, DKNY’s famous PR girl and author of Leave York Mark. Aliza’s taught me to love Twitter again. She also taught me that it’s more important to be the listener. It’s the listener, not the loud mouth, that is the more intriguing.

 

Sophia Amoruso, founder of the fastest growing fashion brand, Nasty Gal and author of #GIRLBOSS. My current obsession and frankly, my motivational bible for the professional world. I’m reviewing #GIRLBOSS and why you just HAVE to read it later this month on Blanc. Stay tuned, my friends. Sophia’s advice that stuck: Work. For. It. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

 

With a summer of new challenges behind me and a reel of professional advice spinning in my head, I finally started to feel like I could write again. I am inspired again. With this inspiration, I want to start a whole new version of blogging. Let’s get to the nitty gritty. Let’s get to what really helps us professional newcomers. Mandy, Aliza, and Sophia inspired, I’ve come up with a little something I like to call the #nextlevelchallenge.

 

Each month, I will present a 10 day challenge that will push you (and me!) to do and feel better. My first #nextlevelchallenge is 10-days of early rising. For some, this may mean nothing. For me, it will be a challenge worth taking. I have a bad habit of setting my alarm for 7, snoozing until 8, and getting into the office at 9:30 (oops).

 

In one Forbes study, specialists link rising early to optimism and satisfaction in your day. Early risers report using their morning quiet time for organization, goal-setting and planning out their days and weeks ahead. Early risers are also less likely to get easily stressed or depressed throughout their day. And let’s not forget the metabolism boost that comes with a morning run!

 

So here we go, my friends! I’m back at it. Ready to share all that I’ve been saving up this summer and ready for my first #nextlevelchallenge. Who’s with me?

 

Share your #nextlevelchallenge ups and downs with me on Twitter via @blancblog

liebster award

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In the ever-increasing world of blogging, there are new personalities emerging daily. Whether writing about style, food, movie critiques, fresh-faced writers and photographers are finding ways to share their thoughts in the blogosphere. To welcome these emerging bloggers, senior writers have created the Liebster Award. This honor recognizes new blogs for their great content.

I am thrilled to announce my recent Liebster Award nomination! I have been nominated by Style Nacho, a fellow new blogger who writes effortlessly about fashion, beauty, and personal style. The fashion-finder introduces a new perspective on upcoming trends such as winter-to-spring wardrobe transitions, three ways to chambray, and (wait for it!) how to rock a denim pencil skirt.

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The Liebster Award Rules

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the nominator.

3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 250 followers.

4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees.

5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

 

Liebster Award Q&A, courtesy of Style Nacho:

Q: What is one of your favorite daily rituals?

 A: Talking to my very best friend before I go to bed at night.

Q: What’s your favorite food?

 A: Any form of chocolate and peanut butter… Yum!

Q:  You’re gifted $150. How do you treat yourself?

 A: Spring shopping… duh! Unless of course the boyfriend is in town. Then maybe a boat rental or a fun night out! It’s all about what makes you smile.

Q:  Name a place you’d love to visit (and tell us why!).

 A: I have wanted to go to Italy since I was little. My parents toured the country last year and I was entirely envious! The food, the sites, the history – there are a million reasons. Plus, my family originates from Sicily.

Q:  What’s your favorite spring trend?

 A: I’m loving all the bright colored heels right now. I’m still searching for the perfect pair.

Q:  What was your last random act of kindness?

Surprise by mail! Sending a random “thinking of you” card to a friend always makes for a sweet and sentimental treat.

Q: What’s a favorite quote?

 A: “You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones building one another up, instead of tearing each other down.” This quote inspired my #talkprettytome challenge inspiring those to seek the positives in the creative world rather than the comparisons.

Q:  If you could relive any year, which would you go back to and why?

 A: My first year out of college was one for the books… and it would be under chapter “This is Hard”. I would love to relive my first year in the working world knowing what I know now. I would be more confident and definitely worry a lot less!

Q:  What’s your biggest pet peeve?

 A: Loud chewers! Those close to me know this  well…

Q:  How do you like your coffee?

 A: Nonfat latte, 2 Splendas.  A girl’s gotta through in a mocha-frap everyone once and awhile though!

Q:  What quality or characteristic do you most love about yourself?

 A: I am most proud of my ability to think for myself. Though my stand-up-to-the-big-dogs-attitude may have gotten me in trouble in my younger years, it is a quality that I am glad I have. It is important for a person, especially a young lady, to stand up for herself and what she believes in. No one should tell you what to think except yourself.


I nominate the following up & coming bloggers:

Melanie Craft co.

Le Zoe Musings

DIY Just Cuz

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

A Polished Palate

Right Where I Left Off

Found This Painted That

Harcourt Crescent Interior Desire

20 Something Gal – just launched!

Skyscrapers & Palm Trees

Emily Rudman Photo

Q&A for my nominees:

1. Why did you start blogging?

2. Where do you call home and what do you enjoy most about being there?

3. What is one place everyone should visit and why?

4. What professionals inspire you?

5. What is your ultimate goal for your blog?

6. What is one thing you don’t leave the house without?

7. How do you take your coffee?

8. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

9. What is the best advice you can give your fellow bloggers about how to get new subscribers?

10. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

11. What 11 new bloggers do you nominate for the Liebster Award?

 

Nominees: Once you’ve posted your Liebster Award questions, share the love on social media (@blancblog)! I’d love to read them!

Xo & Cheers!

wedding etiquette

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It’s finally happened. You are old enough to have close friends that are getting married. When did we become so grown up?! 

In your 20’s, you are new to the wedding world. Most brides, grooms, or wedding attendees seek wedding advice, tips, and formalities from their elders: whom to invite, what to say, what to wear, what to give… the list of questions is, in all honesty, endless! If you are a bride or groom that is working with a wedding planner, this inquisitive list can be checked off quite easily. For guests, or those without a planner, we have a woman named Emily Post.

Emily Post was an American author, renowned for her books on proper etiquette. Though the guru of civility has past, she is still the go-to for brides, grooms, and wedding planners across the country. Her manners and spirit are still alive with the help of the authors in her family.

Though she is known for her traditional thinking, Ms. Post has certainly evolved over the years. Her most recent book includes modern day circumstances such as same sex marriage, budgeting for the bridal party, and today’s music selections. Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, 6th Edition, is said to be the end-all, be-all to proper wedding and event formalities.

So don’t worry friends – Ms. Post has you covered. Here are your top questions, answered. Thank you Post family!

As a member of the bridal party:

What are the expectations of being a bridesmaid?
Generally, bridesmaids should purchase their own wedding-day attire (dress/shoes/jewelry, as directed by the bride). Bridesmaids should also give a wedding gift, though many couples consider the attendants’ participation as their gift.
Are the bridesmaids/maid of honor expected to host a shower?
The answer is no. Contrary to popular belief, bridesmaids are not required to host a shower and the bride should not insist that they do. If the bridesmaids would like to plan a shower, it is pertinent that they are all in agreement. The maid of honor or a single bridesmaid should never organize a party an expect others to help pay for it.
More common hosts for showers are close friends of the couple or the couple’s parents. If there are multiple showers thrown, the host should be considerate when inviting guests and should not invite guests to more than one shower (exceptions might be close family members).
Can more than the bridal party be invited to showers/bachelorette?
Of course. There are few rules when it comes to a tasteful bachelorette party. Invited guests usually include the bridal party, close friends or relatives, and possibly the mothers of the bride and groom.
Who pays for the bachelorette party?
Guests should pay their own way, as well has help cover the cost of the bride. Just be sure that it’s clear before the celebration begins. No gifts should be expected but if gifts are given, they are usually inexpensive or humorous.

As a guest:

If you cannot attend a shower, are you obligated to send a gift?
No, though sometimes close friends or relatives do.
How much should you spend on a shower gift?
Shower gifts should be less expensive than the wedding gift and are usually centered around a theme.
How much should you spend on a wedding gift?
There are many theories on how to calculate the perfectly budgeted wedding gift. Emily tells us that the gift should be based on the giver’s affection for and relationship to the couple and their families and on their personal budget.
I’m inviting to the wedding but can’t come. Do I have to give a gift?
Yes, it is proper to mail one to the couple.
I am invited to the reception only. Do I have to give a gift?
Whether it is the same day or a belated reception, you are not required to give a gift, though you may do so if you wish.
I received an “and guest.” How do I handle the gift giving?
The person invited should is responsible for purchasing the gift.
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What questions do you have for the Post family? Comment below and I will do my best to answer! Looking for the entire guide to wedding etiquette? Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, 6th Edition is available on Amazon. You can find daily tips at http://www.emilypost.com.

Happy wedding season! 

 

color your weekend

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If you’re friends with Kate (Spade, that is), you are familiar with the happy command that has us all under a spell: live colorfully. Well, I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but color is ‘in’ for spring. Ground breaking? Not really, but let me finish –

Since before our time, artists and designers have been using color to evoke emotions. There is always a reason for color. Marketing strategists have designed entire brands based off the psychology of color and how it influences and signals a response from people. So why is it that every spring we are yearning for pops of pink and bright yellows? Maybe it’s because our chic head-to-toe-in-black look can’t be worn in 80 degree weather. Or could it be that we are just itching for brightness after the cool winter months?

Either way, Kate has it right. Adding a splash of something fun can lift your mood and brighten your spirits, whether that splash is in your wardrobe or on your counter tops. In honor of Good Friday and the festive few days coming up, I’m sharing 5 ways to color your weekend – all for under $50.

Get out your pastel shorts, people – it’s spring!

 live colorfully this weekend:

Blanc _ Natalie Taylor ArtInspire Color

One of my favorite things to do on a rainy day is to go to art galleries. For my Charleston friends, starting today, you can join Gallery Row’s First Fridays on Broad, an art walk featuring over 16 galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Grab a glass of pinot and get inspired!

For my followers not living in the low country – don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve teamed up with Natalie Taylor Humphrey for an Instagram #LIVECOLORFULLY giveaway. Find me on IG (@blancblog) and follow the instructions for a chance to win Natalie’s gorgeous girl shown above, as well as some gems from Reece Blaire!

Blanc Blog PillowCreate Color

When it comes to DIY, you should never underestimate yourself. Inspired by the talented artist, Maria Kamara, I decided to add a little funk to a boring pillow case. Here’s how you craft it:

1. Start with a durable fabric pillow case (canvas, twill, outdoor fabric)

2. Insert cardboard inside the pillow case so your paint does not bleed through to the other side of your case

3. Mix two parts paint and one part textile medium. Using a textile medium will keep your paint from chipping off or crunching up.

4. Go for it. The more abstract the better!

5. Let your work dry overnight and insert your pillow. How easy was that?

The Color Run in Charlotte, 2012
The Color Run in Charlotte, 2012

Run for Color

The name says it all. The Color Run is said to be the happiest 5k on the planet. Work your butt off and release some endorphins (yes, Elle Woods!) while getting splattered with powder-paint along the way. The most colorful contestant wins in my book. Attention Atlanta girls: they’re coming to you TOMORROW!

Blanc, The Poplin RBWear Color

You know my obsession with Reece Blaire. The girls of sass, wit, and sophistication have done it again with their 2015 spring line. Need I mention that they are a finalist in the Belk Southern Designer Showcase? A favorite of mine, the Poplin earring, is on sale for $30 online, or win it on Instagram (@blancblog) for the Blanc #LIVECOLORFULLY Giveaway. Winner will be announced on Easter!

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Take the weekend off from salads and quinoa and be a little bad. Tis the season, right? One dozen carrot cake cupcakes coming right up! My favorite recipe is on Pinch of Yum!


Bonus

One lucky follower will get an extra treat from the Easter bunny. Enter the Blanc #LIVECOLORFULLY Giveaway on Instagram to win the Natalie Taylor Humphrey original painting and Poplin earrings from Reece Blaire.

#nonewfriends

 I am two years into the working world. The summer I graduated from Winthrop University was the same summer I moved to Charleston, South Carolina where I knew all of three people. The first few months in my career were confusing, fast-paced, and loaded with mistakes. There were nights that I didn’t make it home until after 9 pm. When I finally did get home, all I wanted to do was grab a drink (or two, or three) with a bud and vent about the life of a grown up.

The tough luck story of it all has been summed up in a simple hashtag.

Now Trending: #nonewfriends 

New city, new career, and no new friends. Pardon my French, but friend-making can sometimes quite simply suck – especially if you’re living alone. It is hard to put yourself out there and most of us don’t like to do it. In our twenties, we are no longer at an age where a play date makes us soul mates or a scraped knee is grounds to becoming an arch nemesis. Things are more complicated. Let’s set the scene:

College // The glory days. No matter your level of weirdness, stress, or intoxication, you usually have a bud by your side. Whether you’re at a tech school or main stream university, college students have unlimited opportunities for friend-making (roommates, class, cafeterias, clubs, athletics, sororities, fraternities, just to name a few). You graduate with besties and promise that nothing will change once you all go in separate directions.

Post Grad Life, Year One // The stress of a new city and a new job is enough to take some of us overboard. Remember when the idea of a 9-5 sounded like a California dream boat compared to projects, exams and essays? Well, unless you’re working at Jimmy Johns, most of the time that 9 to 5 turns into 5:30…6….6:30….7. Strike one. Now that it’s 8 pm and you’ve managed to make it home without a honk, what do you do? Who do you call? Who in the hell lives in this city?! Strike two. So you open a bottle of wine and turn on How to Get Away with Murder. Strike Three.

Hence, the hashtag #NONEWFRIENDS. Related hashtags include #postgradprobs #imisscollege and my personal favorite, #welcometotherealworld. I’ve seen these tags sarcastically posted on Instagram as a picture of Netflix and a bowl of ice cream or, more enthusiastically, in happy hour pics that include no one but college friends.

So, why is it so hard for our generation to make new friends after graduation?

I’ll admit, I was definitely included in this friendless category when I first moved to Charleston two years ago. Though my hashtags looked more like #amaloser #imakemyboyfriendskypeme and #ijustusedmyneighbornettomakefriends (all true).

So what made the difference? For me, it was putting myself out there and hoping people we’re nice. Yes, I seriously used my apartment complex’s Neighbor Net to message a girl I met at a “Meet Your Neighbors” cocktail hour. It sounds so odd… but hey, it worked!  She and I even managed to get a kickball team together for the Charleston Sports and Social Club. Take it from someone who’s already her wasted time whining & grieving  about the 3-hour drive to the nearest gal pal:

Post Grad Life, Year Two // You will have a life again, I promise.

All you have to do is make a move. My tips for friend making (should I put butterfly stickers in this post…?) – but seriously:

1. Where there’s one, there are more. Everyone feels awkward making new friends right out of college. Relax. Put yourself out there and you’ll usually like what you get in return.

2. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. This will drive you crazy. Be the one to set up drinks with co-workers or brunch with a neighbor.

3. Join something you’re interested in. Larger cities usually have intramural leagues, fashion organizations, book clubs, or charities to get involved in. How easy is that?

4. Back away from the bestie. I love my best friends, but moving to a city where most everyone was a phone call away helped me grow more than I knew at the time. I had to cast myself out there in hopes that someone (anyone!) would reel me in. A lot of the time, I see this “no new friends” hashtag on social media referencing the fact that post-grad happy hours include the same people as post-exam power hours. If that is the case for you, cheers – but proceed with caution. There is something to be valued in being on your own. If you always have a shoulder holding you up what is going to happen when that shoulder leaves?

If you find yourself having happy hours for one, take a page from my book. Step out of your comfort zone and take a risk. You never know what fun or new friends you may find…

#yaynewfriends

 

 

 

Expectant

Blanc_MariaKamara

Expectant, adj. –  having or showing an excited feeling that something is about to happen, especially something pleasant and interesting.

What do I expect out of life? A career. A family. A passion to strive for… Sure, those are the basics, but when it comes down to it, what do I really expect in life? Now that’s a loaded question. It’s one that I’ve thought more and more about over recent triumphs and criticisms in my career as a blogger.

Expectant. This is the name that the talented abstract artist, Maria Kamara, chose after painting a sun-filled array of yellows and golds for little old me. Flattered and thankful only begin to describe the feeling I had as I unpacked the canvas Maria sent to me with a note:

“…I was inspired by the energy, optimism and confidence found in your writing and blog. The painting reflects these traits with its bright yellows and flowing composition. Obviously these traits are in you, and I hope you continue to nurture them… The name “Expectant” anticipates all the good and positivity that will come from your efforts…”  – Maria

Blanc_MariaKamara

In early January, Maria sent me an email that stemmed from a New Years resolution of hers to connect with other bloggers and professionals in the industry. With a heart of gold and a spirit that roams the entire sky, Maria Kamara had no idea what she was getting herself into when she offered to paint for me. We both had no idea how inspired we would leave each other.

I had the privilege of Skyping with Maria a few weeks ago. Besides comparing the warm Charleston winter to her frigid, snow-filled Michigan temperatures, Maria and I chatted about art, experiences, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

The self-taught artist started her career in a different platform: music. For years, Maria sang professionally while maintaining interest in fine art, fashion, and design. “I’ve always loved to draw and sculpt. I loved fashion and interiors too but my profession at the time was very focused. Other “arts” weren’t necessarily encouraged.” It wasn’t until she was pregnant with her first child that she began painting.

“I was truly painting in earnest,” she told me. Fourteen years later, she decided to start selling her art.

Why abstract?

“I’ve always appreciated abstract art. Even when I was in school for music, I would sneak next door to admire the fine artists’ work.” When Maria first started painting again, she started with still life drawings and then eventually evolved to an abstract artist. “I’m comfortable with the grays in life. It doesn’t have to be black or white for me.” I asked her the naive art’s question: how do you know when an abstract piece is done? She responds to me saying “You don’t, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with something that may not be a finished thought or a finished piece.”


“I’m comfortable with the grays in life. It doesn’t have to be black or white for me.


 I love hearing what inspires artists. What artists are in your home? Do you have an favorite painter?

“I love collecting vintage unknown art (the mystery of it all again!). In my own home, I have one of my photographer friend’s work as well as many vintage pieces.” She goes on to tell me about her family and how they inspire her work, as well has two of her favorite artist: Marie Cassette and Alma Woodsy Thomas.

Blanc_MariaKamara

Why “Expectant”?

The entire time I spoke to Maria, there was something so inspirational about her. This woman has been through it all… school, an international singing career, motherhood, and now artist. She tells me about some of her ups and downs and what she’s learned along the way.

“When I look back at my 24-year-old self, I would tell myself not accept fear in my life. It only serves to diminish us or make us feel less than others. Comparison and fear will take away any creative freedom you have if you let it. There’s enough room for all of us!”

She tells me a story about a rough critic she once received that lead her to paint overtop of a thought-out piece of hers. The next day, someone wanted to buy the original work that was now nonexistent. “Be care who you listen to,” she tells me.  “You have to know when to take criticism and when to know in your heart what is right for you [or your painting]…”

Blanc_MariaKamara


Our two-hour discussion was more than just fulfilling. I left… expectant. Recently I have received some slack for a post of mine by an artist I admire. Though hurtful and discouraging, I have to remember to be expectant: to know that I’m blogging for a reason and that reason is to expand my own creative palette, as well as others’. It’s not to make money or make a career out of it, but rather to show the good in being a young 20-something and how to elevate yourself to be the best young professional/friend/chef/artist (you get the picture)  that you can be.

 

Maria’s work is currently featured in Gallery 602 in Holland, Michigan. You can also find her work online at www.MariaKamara.com or at her Etsy shoppe. Some of my favorite pieces of her’s are below:

lessons of being 23

Sav Designs

You know those people who can make friends with anyone?  A non-English speaking stranger… An annoying family member… A rock on the ground… I’m not even kidding… I have the privilege of sharing an always-enthusiastic friendship with one of these rare people. Her name is Savannah. She radiates life through her smile and is more energetic than most know how to handle. She’s insanely quirky and so intelligent.

Sav is a soon-to-be 24-year-old graphic designer for one of the most respected small design firms in the south east. She has designed for brands that I’m not even allowed to tell you about. Her talent is immaculate and she doesn’t even know it.

Savannah and I at our Graphic Design Senior Show
Savannah and I at our senior design show

We bonded over tsquares and midnight chocolate milk runs our freshman year as design students. In the last 5 years, she hadn’t changed one bit. Yet, even with all the bragging I can do for Savannah, there is one thing I can’t give justice to in words and that is her giving heart.

Now, I’m not saying I am selfish (*as I squirm in my chair*) – I donate to Goodwill throughout the year and I’m always the first to suggest a 5k for charity, but my charitable chart scores low in comparison to my friend.

Among many charitable actions each year, Savannah has given up her 24th birthday. No gifts, no cards, no candy. Maybe a high five. This year, she’s created the $2,400 for 24 challenge by using all of her wishes on charity:water, a foundation funding clean water solutions in developing countries. Not only is she giving, but she’s also inspiring with her #lessonsofbeing23 design series: a collection of three post cards hand crafted by the designer herself. So of course, I had to share.

Savannah has just four days left to raise her goal of $2,400. For every donation, Savannah will mail the donor a limited edition post card and a million thank you’s. I’m pretty sure she would mail a hug too, if that could fit in an envelope.


 

lessons of being 23 post card series:

Savannah Holder Designs

“Be captivated by something outside yourself – something that people can join in, instead of just creating a captivating facade that only creates envy.” -sav

Savannah Holder Designs

“Shoot for the stars and for the dreams that tickle your heart” -sav

Savannah Holder Designs

“A simple reminder to be polite and respectful, to look people in the eye, to give a solid handshake, to remember a stranger’s name, to know your friend’s lives outside of their social media activity, to live life without always posting it.” -sav


learn more about the water crisis:


Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Your donation will help change that. Let’s make Savannah’s 24th birthday the best one yet by donating to something so close to her heart, and hearts around the world.

to donate, click here

or visit http://www.savannahholder.com

 

Savannah loving water IMG_2226

 

oh & happy birthday sheep 😉