What’s On My Mind: Roadmap Out of Rock Bottom 🏔

I have to be honest with you guys: I’m terrified. I’m petrified of never reaching my dreams. I’m frightened that the reality I’m currently in, is all there will ever be. And I know it sounds fatal but it’s totally true: “I’m intimidated by the fear of being average.” I’m an Enneagram type 4 through and through and on nights when the wine is plentiful and the movement is slow, it sucks.

Right now, I’m reading through Vogue’s September feature on Taylor Swift and feel equal parts excited and unsettled. I’m *dYiNG* to hear Lover on August 23rd (while on vacation, I might add) but I wonder how I can make her “normal” my “new normal.” From oversleeping, poor eating, and leading a life I don’t recognize, to selling out stadiums, putting out an 18-track album, and being interviewed by a f*$king fashion magazine. It seems like an amateur writer’s pipe dream. Because that’s what she is, isn’t she?

Ever since I was little, I stared at the sky knowing that I was made for so much more. I looked at the life I had and projected it onto the life I wanted. In any given moment, I was an entertainer, a Disney star, an actress, the glamour girl on the cover of a magazine. I’ve been overly ambitious since before I could talk so, needless to say, I’ve always been a little ahead of myself. I look to the future like it can save me. MORE, MORE, MORE.

But the astounding thing about my life right now, is that it does NOTHING for the life I wanted as a little kid. The life I lead in this moment is terrified, petrified, frightened of taking the risk necessary to lead the life it desires. To be truthful, I’ve kept the life I’ve desperately wanted locked up in the future, safe and sound as a savior I’ll never reach. Coming out of what has been the MOST difficult chapter of my life, I see how totally f*$ked up that is and if we’re honest, the writer in me is itching to share this with you. I can’t NOT talk about my experiences. It’s just what I do. SoOoOo… here it is.

This is my roadmap out of rock bottom. Sure, I look around myself and go, “Shawna, why are you even upset? You have all this. An apartment, two loving cats, a boyfriend who has become one of the most supportive people you know, and a job that pays the bills. What the hell are you complaining for?” And it’s true, I do feel guilty when I assess my life like this. I have SO much to be grateful for and for many people, THIS IS NOT ROCK BOTTOM. It’s far from it. I’m privileged and I don’t want to waste a single second not recognizing that some people would kill to be in my situation right now.

But… this is my rock bottom. Because sometimes rock bottom isn’t something you can see. Sometimes, rock bottom is buried deep inside someone’s heart and head, dying to be understood. My situation is not special. But what makes my life special is having people who care about me, genuinely want to understand what afflicts me, as I do they. It’s about realizing that everyone’s lowest low looks different and offering our love and support in the moments it’s needed.

I’m on a mission to dig myself out of MY lowest low to get me to the life I want and here’s how I’m doing it. 1, 2, 3… BREAK.

HABITS:

So if you didn’t know, I’m habitually NOT habitual in my personal life. In fact, my middle name should be “resists routine” because right now, routine is my ONLY enemy. I’m a unique mix of totally rigid and scheduled… and completely go with the flow. To give you an idea, I want to fit all my unique and chaotic interests into a pie chart for later reference but I also only follow the rules I approve of… it’s weird. Then add on that extra layer of anxiety and soul crushing need for acceptance and you have ME! in a nutshell.

Anyway, the point is: I have zero personal habits. I don’t meal prep, I go to sleep whenever I’m done “soul-searching” for the night, and lately, I wake up when Grayson is done smacking me in the face every morning. I resist routine because it feels like “the rules” so my habits are basically nonexistent. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I love it that way. My ultimate goal, truthfully, is to move to an island and just go with the flow for the rest of my days but… I have an empire to build first and empires are not built on oversleeping and drinking out of coconuts. They are built on hard work aaaaannnnddd HaBiTs.

The BIGGEST thing I realized this year is that putting out an 18-track album that everyone is dying to hear is HABIT. Selling out stadiums is HABIT. We are all undoubtedly our habits and if you’re habitually sleep deprived, without exercise, and not carving out time to be creative, think of the life you are building. So with that said, I’m working on incorporating better habits into my personal life to produce the life I want, rather than a life built by default. I think it’s all about being present with the person you are now to truly form the person you want to be tomorrow. What are some of the habits you stick with for success? Help a girl out and tell me below!

FAMILY:

I’ve always been partial to my family. When I say I love my family, I truly mean it. These are people who have been with me through EVERYTHING. I can’t count the number of times I’ve called my mom for her emotional support over the last 3 months and my dad? His levelheaded advice has helped me see things in a new perspective and I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who has helped me along the way.

I lean on my family day-to-day so being at rock bottom is no different. Now that I actually know what’s required to become the person I want to be, I feel even more excited about sharing my life with them. THESE are the people who deserve me at my best and worst. I’m so grateful to all the family and friends who have supported me through this difficult time in my life and I can’t wait to bring all of you along my journey upward. You are the real MVPs.

HEART SPACE:

Another big lesson I learned this year is to follow my heart no matter what. I know this sounds juvenile and obvious, but it’s something I had to be smacked in the face with to understand. The truth is: there will never be another opportunity to follow your dreams. There will never be another year to be 23, to make mistakes and run after the unknown, or to be two days out from walking away from everything you have with two cats and no real plan. What I realized is this: your life is happening RIGHT NOW and you can either sleep on that fact or you can take the risks necessary to light your life on fire. It’s your choice and only YOU have to live with the consequences.

Personally, I’m choosing fire, no matter how dangerous. I can’t imagine living my whole life and not, at least, trying to make it special. If I have to call the fire department, you’ll be the first to know but through faith, I CAN handle it.

SELF-ACCEPTANCE:

And finally, for what feels like the first time ever, I’m accepting myself. Over the past few months, I’ve been studying who I truly am. I LIVE for personality tests, studying my birth chart, learning about Enneagram, and practicing Ayurveda. It’s been refreshing to lay out who I am in a way that makes it clear how hard I’ve been trying to fit a square peg (me) into a round hole (my life).

With this new awareness, I’m accepting myself for who I am according to the stars, Myers-Briggs, and my heart, NOT according to what people expect me to be. It’s written on the wall. I’m a Scorpio sun with a moon in Taurus. My personality type is INFP-T and I’m an Enneagram type 4: The Individualist. And to be completely honest, I like it that way. I’m not about to settle and try to force myself into something that doesn’t make sense to me. It’s madness.

What I’ve learned is this: rock bottom is the place where you look around and don’t know yourself from the people in the crowd. It’s a crippling feeling of isolation and self-loathing and our best bet at getting out of it, is taking a deep breath, loving yourself unconditionally, and saying “my life should fit me, not the other way around.” And that’s my goal for the rest of the year. I’m no longer trying to fit this peg into the wrong hole. I’m finding a brand new hole, sorry not sorry. 🙈 Now excuse me, while I go watch Gossip Girl and build my empire, no pun intended.

xoxo,

shawna.

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My Why: 5 MAJOR Reasons Why I Became A Stella & Dot Stylist in 2019 🌸

My Why: 5 MAJOR Reasons Why I Became A Stella & Dot Stylist in 2019 🌸

This year has been full of new experiences: an apartment, buying my first couch, a *rEaL* job, my first “second” cat, and… bills. Sometimes, when I have a spare moment to look around me, it feels like I grew up overnight. Just over a year ago, I was studying for my “FINAL finals” and pleading for graduation to hurry up and come already. Now, graduation feels like a lifetime ago.

When I look back on how I spent this year, I’m really proud of myself. I accomplished ALL THIS on my own. I established independence, got a great job by society’s standards, and transitioned into adulthood earlier than I expected to. But there’s something sour about that picture, more bitter than sweet that had me wondering why I thought all this was going to make me happy in the first place. Let me explain.

I recently started using the metaphor of a mountain to describe my life. Lets just say, my mountain’s a mess. Actually, the mountain’s fine, it’s my approach to climbing it that’s less than exquisite. I’m going full speed up the side, in what looks like the “most direct” route possible, towards a summit I can’t even see, and I have NO resources.

I didn’t bring a tent because “I’ll figure it out when I get there.” I have no water or food on me because I was in a rush when I left the house and I didn’t even bother purchasing star gazing equipment because “we won’t have time to enjoy ourselves anyway.” Let’s go! That’s how I have approached work, school, life over the last who knows how many years. And my “most direct” route? Yeah, it has run me into more obstacles than it has saved me from. I don’t meander; I sprint. More often than not, it leads to injury.

At some point in that painful and uninspiring climb, I realized this: not only am I an inexperienced hiker, I’m climbing the WRONG MOUNTAIN. Enter Stella & Dot.

This year, I made a promise to myself to MAKE. IT. HAPPEN. And I’m not talking about what’s fastest, easiest, or most soul crushing. I’m talking about all the dreams I projected onto that summit that I could never reach because I was treating my life as a means to a miserable end. I’m talking about all the moments that make me feel happy and expansive along the way, the star gazing and the meandering.

I found Stella & Dot at the moment I committed myself to that promise and I’m NEVER. GOING. BACK. Here’s my top five reasons for joining Stella & Dot as an independent stylist. I hope it inspires you to find your mountain and climb it with joy.

1. Freedom (read: I’m taking my life back and not a SINGLE SOUL is stopping me, not even me)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I would do if I had the freedom to follow my heart. A million dreams cross my mind, followed by excuses like a thousand shackles. Adulthood can trick you into thinking the fairytale is already over, like you’re bound to the depressing reality of make money, pay bills, eat, sleep, repeat. We are encouraged to groan at our adult lives, make light of it through self-deprecating humor over dinner parties, and go after what’s safe rather than what’s stimulating and I’m already OVER it.

Here’s to “impractical” joy, boundless creativity, adult fairytales, and being the BOSS of my own life. Instead of thinking “what would I do IF I followed my heart,” I’m following it.

2. Flexibility (read: work from home, go back to school, move out of state, make the “write life” possible)

If you’ve been around on this blog for a while, you know that writing is the center of everything for me. It’s what ties together my entire world, from fashion to entertainment to film and everything in-between. Writing well and often is my first priority. Being inspired to write by the life I’ve built around me is second to that and having the flexibility and the financial freedom to make it happen is the glue that holds it all together.

Stella & Dot prides itself on “[giving] every woman the means to style her own life.” For me, that means the flexibility to learn and grow in other areas, all while taking care of myself and my family. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t have one without the other.

3. Fashion (read: creativity keeps me sane, style keeps me happy)

Writing is one of the major outlets I use for my creativity. However, it’s not the only way I like to express myself. I desire to live my life surrounded by beauty, one that speaks to me at a deeper level and reminds me of the world I created. In its absence, creativity has become even more important to me. I’m no longer accepting weeks flying by without being filled with creative moments. If that means fashion and helping other women find their own sense of style, don’t mind if I do.

4. Friends (read: everyday I go out into the world to make a LIVING for the people I love but it’s time to focus on making a LIFE we can share)

I once read that the most important thing you can do for someone is to make them feel special and understood. But sometimes when life is tough and getting by is all you can do, it’s hard to shift your focus outward onto what makes other people unique and worth celebrating.

Making a living is something we do for ourselves. We work hard, we get paid, we focus on our problems, and we repeat every two weeks. Making a life is what we do for others. We share our good fortune, we make the people around us feel beautiful and unique, and we relish in how good it feels to give. It’s time for me to break the cycle of living just to get by and build a life I can truly give to the wonderful women (and men!) I share it with.

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

Winston S. Churchill

5. Female (read: women empowering women to live their own lives is the best form of encouragement)

And finally, one of the biggest factors that attracted me to Stella & Dot is how supportive they are of women, how firmly they believe in empowering women to “be their own boss, on their own terms.” Being your own boss comes in so many forms and a successful life looks different to every woman. At Stella & Dot, you do you. To learn more about the company’s mission, click here.

I can’t wait to share my style with you on this incredible journey of empowerment and transformation. This is My Why… 💕

xoxo,

shawna.

Come visit me at Stella & Dot by clicking here! I can’t wait to share how I’m styling these pieces with you. Follow me on Instagram for a Style Kit unboxing video coming soon! Interested in living your own best life? Ask me about becoming a stylist!

The “I Don’t Have A Type” Tragedy and Other Thoughts on Falling In Love With Everyone I Meet 🌸

I used to think “having a type” was a strategy popular girls used to exclude people. Because from my end of the cafeteria, it looked as if they all had the same type: jock. I sat with the “popular kids” at my new school for a week before I found a solid group of friends I actually felt I had something in common with. However, even though I was happy with the friends I chose, I still had an issue with not being “cool” throughout most of high school. So much so, that I used graduating early and my intelligence as an excuse to run away.

I want to preface the rest of this by saying that I truly LOVED (and still love) my friends. In hindsight, they were the best thing that ever happened to me but as a high schooler, I didn’t completely see it because I struggled a lot with feeling accepted. I was in this constant inner war of wanting to be cool but also wanting to be authentic so I didn’t feel completely comfortable in either space. I missed a lot of opportunities to truly connect with the people around me due to my need for acceptance.

Continue reading “The “I Don’t Have A Type” Tragedy and Other Thoughts on Falling In Love With Everyone I Meet 🌸”

When Love Is A Gamble, Bet On Yourself First 💗

There’s something about the entertainment industry that really excites me. Even when I was a kid, music and performing held a special place in my heart because it felt promising. I used to tell everyone I wanted to be a singer when I grew up and on some days, even as an adult, that’s still true. I ran around my best friend’s yard singing Jonas Brothers songs and I used to point to every passing plane wondering if Joe Jonas was on it while we swam in her pool. I’m not kidding. I was a Disney Channel loser but I loved every second of it.

As you can probably tell, my “heroes” were all popular performers when I was a kid. Some got their start on Disney Channel, others in Nashville. But the idea was the same: they made it. I practiced saying “Hi, my name is Shawna and you’re watching Disney Channel” more times than I’d like to admit and spent many summers watching Hannah Montana on my grandma’s floor.

I’m not sure if this ran nationally but I remember sitting by the radio ALL DAY one summer to hear a 30-second ad about Disney Channel auditions. Part of me was beyond excited but the skeptical part of me figured it was a scam. You can probably tell which part of me won that war. Hi, my name is Shawna and you are DEFINITELY NOT watching Disney Channel. You are watching me grow up to get a college education and work in an office for a living. Cheers!

Anyway, I’m telling you this because I wanted to write about something Demi Lovato mentions in her documentary called Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated that has shaped how I view love. If you’re unfamiliar, this Youtube Originals documentary first aired in 2017 and gives a raw look at Demi’s experience with fame. When I watched early last year, I was wowed by Demi’s story and her resilience. Despite her struggle, it renewed my love for music and performing. Her personal triumph reminded me that we are not alone with our challenges, even when our lives look different, and we are also stronger than what we give ourselves credit for.

Continue reading “When Love Is A Gamble, Bet On Yourself First 💗”

A Quick Start Guide to Falling in Love Again 💕

If it isn’t obvious by now, my new niche is about finding love, building better relationships, and leading a romantic and spirited lifestyle that supports both efforts. I believe that many of us are not equipped with the tools we need to love and be loved because the mechanics of how they should work are not always explained to us outright. It’s taken me A LOT of less-than-graceful learning experiences, therapy, and self-help books to recognize a deficit for these skills in my own life and I’d like this blog to reflect my journey in acquiring them.

I still have a long way to go towards understanding love and the human experience but I hope my stories of heartache and triumph reach you with compassion and connectedness. Words have the power to change our experience and my goal for this blog is to impact you and your relationships positively through loving words, thorough research, fun reads, and engaging imagery. I believe we are all deserving of fulfilling relationships and I recognize the responsibility that rests with both partners to achieve that.

So to kick off this effort, I’m sharing my Quick Start Guide to Falling In Love Again because sometimes you have to put yourself in a new mindset to really appreciate the people around you. This guide speaks to, what I believe is, one of the greatest pleasures of being in a relationship: falling in love with the same person over and over and over again, despite your differences.

Here are 9 practices I recommend to quick start those good feelings you’re looking for in your relationships, INCLUDING the relationship you have with yourself and your life (more on that to come). Never stop falling in love… 💋

Continue reading “A Quick Start Guide to Falling in Love Again 💕”

BLOSSOM 🌸

What a stupid bug, trying to climb into the socket holes. The hot air moves inward and the heat in the house is sticky. I’m in need of an air conditioner and if we’re honest, a bit of free time to get my domestic affairs in order. But the weeks carry on and the weird days get weirder. As the sticky air gets stickier, the heat of Summer becomes a reality. Ugh.

There comes a time when you have to let go. You look around at all the ways you’ve tried to rectify your life and they just look futile and depressing. Actions you took out of hope haunt you and the potential of loss becomes real. In the face of despair, you see something clearly: what worked for your life before, doesn’t work anymore. It seems, as the heat weighs in, that this thought will color my Summer.

Weird days and heartaches, I’ve found, are our opportunities for growth. We can choose to transcend our past or we can become bound by it. We can forgive and take responsibility for how we’ve affected others or we can demand others suffer as much as we have in repayment for our heartache. We can blossom or we can drown. We can drag people under with us or we can love and elevate them in light of our suffering.

I never know if I’m making the right choice. But quite frankly, none of us do. It’s one of those similarities we hate to admit connects us. No one has all the answers, yet we judge and divide. We make “us” right and the “other” wrong. We make people pay the price for their mistakes a million times over, in ways we don’t even expect from ourselves. We defend, we justify, we create enemies. We forget we are all the same, our differences merely man-made. We neglect to recognize how similar we truly are, how capable every single one of us is to hurt and be hurt. No one knows what the right choices are and we all gamble. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

It might not seem like this on our weird days but I believe life favors love. Gamble enough times and it will come to the surface, whole and new as it always is. Love never leaves; it simply waits in the shadows to be embraced and understood. But too often, we ignore it and we gamble with heartache. We make choices we aren’t proud of and pray that they produce the results we are looking. We all pray for love but we harbor hatred and hurt feelings.

When we gamble with love, there’s more at stake. We put our whole heart on the line, we air out our vulnerabilities, and hope that the person we love, will return the favor. We don’t gamble with love more often because we are afraid. We don’t choose to elevate the people that have hurt us because we feel weak. We don’t choose love because, in our darkest days, it seems futile and childish.

Continue reading “BLOSSOM 🌸”

PINK

PINK

Hey guys! It’s been a little while since I published anything so I wanted to take a minute of your time to explain my absence from blogging. I originally posted this on Instagram to keep my explanation concise (as I tend to go a little overboard on here) but Instagram kind of killed the quality, so I’m reposting. It’s nice to have this space to express myself at whatever length feels necessary but sometimes it comes off as a bit labored and quite frankly, I’m tired of feeling overwhelmed by something that’s supposed to be fun and inspiring.

Here’s my news: I’m no longer labeling myself as a lifestyle blogger. Being away from my blog made me realize that when I started writing as a child, I wrote because I was filled with wonder about the world around me. My writing, as novice as it was, took what was already incredible about my life and augmented it into something even more beautiful and ineffable. It was at a very young age that I developed a taste for romanticism, although at that age I didn’t know what to call it.

My earliest “pieces” consisted of an almost identical adaptation of Lord of the Rings, a 20 page “novella” about dating Daniel Radcliffe, and a completely paraphrased article about Halloween. I hid the “novella” about Daniel Radcliffe from EVERYONE and somehow the paraphrased article about Halloween received great praise (I was in Kindergarten, enough said).

In middle school, my writing started to shift. I had my first “boyfriend” and started writing about my feelings through poetry. In fact, “boyfriend” and I never spoke because I spoke enough in my notebook for the both of us. Slowly, my poems turned into songs, taking the incredible to ineffable through symbolism and metaphors between (and sometimes, in) classes. Always writing, always symbolic. It was like a code I spoke with myself in a world no one but I belonged to. It was awesome.

Flash forward to my blogging/college days and you have yourself a quarter life crisis. No more wonder, no more symbolism. All academics, no fun. My life started to become more “practical,” as they call it. Dreams died, responsibilities mounted. I started writing less poetry and more papers. I thought if I wanted to write full time, it had to be profitable. Because that’s what grown ups do, they make money and eat out on Friday’s.

Continue reading “PINK”