This Isn't a "How To" Blog Post.

Wow, I’m back from the dead it feels like. I was going to initially start this off with a large apology, but, life’s been nuts and it’s okay to be absent for awhile. There’s no need to apologize for being human.

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So, as you read previously, we moved. It’s been a little over 8 months. Wow. Gonna be cliché and say that time fucking flies. I mean, I knew that moving to a new state and doing something so quickly and so drastic would bring change but I didn’t know what that change would be. I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself in the last 8 months. Sheesh. But know that I am happy, we are happy and Warwick says hi. This move was so good for us, we have zero regrets. :)

Okay, let’s get into the real reason why I’m here.


First off. This is definitely not a “how to” blog post. This is gonna be a large personal word vomit of “this is what I need to work on” and a “I am human too” reminder to everyone out there who needs it. I’m not going to sit here and tell you step by step how to fix this shit because in all honesty, I don’t know. I just know that I’m going to try.

2018. I am constantly surprised by the amount of things I am still learning about myself. I used to think that when I was almost 30 I would “have my shit together.” Nobody has their shit together. That’s what I’ve learned. We all just have shit we’re constantly working on and it’s this large revolving door of change, friends, experiences and lessons. That’s what every year brings. I’ve said this a million times before, but it really is all about your perspective that defines those things. It’s about how you approach shitty situations, it’s about how you walk away from certain people and how you learn from mistakes you make along the way. Sitting here, recognizing that “hey this is something I need to work on” is a step. A big one. And genuinely meaning it is huge. We’re not perfect, despite what peoples Instagram may tell you. We’re all out here wingin’ it and I hope this brings peace to anyone who needs to fucking hear this and be reminded. It brings me comfort knowing that I’m not alone. It brings me comfort knowing that this is OKAY. You’re fine. It’s gonna be fine. New opportunities present themselves every single fucking day.

I need to personally work on stepping back when things are out of my control. I get really worked up and can’t even function when something goes wrong instead of looking at the situation like “ok, this is ok, we’ll make it work.” Bless Spencer for calming me down or trying to bring me back down to earth when I’m in the fetal position rocking back and forth with my eye twitching. This is something I struggle with and I need to get better at. Of course, I am human, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself.

There were weeks where I was on top of my shit, working out every morning, I had my little routine and I was feelin’ fucking peachy. And then there were weeks when it was hard for me to get out of bed, I doordashed chipotle twice in two days and that’s all I ate (I don’t even like Chipotle that much) and I couldn’t move from the couch, just watched Friends all day. There were days when I would cry over, nothing and I had no idea why. There were days when I was so peppy and motivated, I felt like a fucking well oiled machine. That’s OKAY. Life will be like this and it’s all about how you pull yourself out of them and knowing that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. I admit, it’s hard for me to ask for help, I get scared of being perceived as weak (probably because of my past). But asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength. Know that. This is something I’m working on too. Being vulnerable is admirable.

This whole entire post is such a cluster fuck but I don’t even care. They’re just all of my feelings from the last 8 months. Here, have them. All of them. ashufjashfuaw :’)


I wanna try something, because writing out all this shit has already made me feel so much better. A weight has been lifted, it’s been so long. I encourage you to write out either something you’ve learned about yourself this year, something you wish to work on next year, something you need to vent about, something you’re looking forward to, fucking anything. I won’t post any of these publicly. Maybe I’ll privately respond to some, I don’t know. But, just know they’re safe where they’re going and they’ll be heard.

your name *
your name
if you wish to remain anonymous, just type in any name. joe. frank. anyone.

Do not feel obligated to participate in this, it’s just something I felt like would be helpful to some. Something different. You never know.

I hope you’ve all had an enlightening year, good or bad, I hope you’ve grown and I hope you’re proud of yourself for getting to where you are. That’s all you, baby.

xo

Girrlscout

ps. I promise I will try and be more present on here next year. That is also a goal of mine.

We Moved!

Hi, hello, from the great state of Washington. The good ol' pacific northwest. We out here. 

I know this came as a bit of a shock to most of you... and I'm going to include myself in that category because this definitely was a quick move! We had a 1 year signed lease at our place in southern California... and we were only there for about 6 months total. It just so happens, Spencer, being the hard working busy bee that he is, got an amazing job offer from a company here in WA. A dream job - if you will. We could not turn this down, there's just no way. He deserves this.

It's quite funny, I remember talking to Spencer back in October 2017 when we still lived in Long Beach saying "Let's just move to Washington or something" and looking at houses drooling over the affordable prices.. it was extremely far fetched (I thought) because in our heads... we needed a reason. Our families are in CA, everything we've ever known is in CA, so for us personally, we needed a legit reason. 

And literally, 2 months later... we had a reason. 

Let me start off by stating the obvious - moving is scary as fuck. Even if you know you're making the right decision, you're excited to make new friends and explore a new city, to have more room and save money - it doesn't matter, it's still fucking scary. It's a fact. 

This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to do - obviously. If it wasn't hard it wouldn't be worth it. I miss my parents so much, they're my best friends but I'm equally as excited to show them around whenever they come and visit. If you focus on that, it's so much easier. 


Moving with a significant other.

Moving as a couple is also a challenge. Regardless of how perfect your relationship may be, (no relationship is perfect), if you throw stress and a deadline to pick up and move your entire life and all of it's belongings into the mix, it's gonna be hard. Don't deny that. But if you work as a team blah blah blah, I'm serious though - it works. Be prepared for the word 'team' to come up a lot in this section. Communication is everything. I'm only going to touch on this subject for a little bit so if you're interested, keep reading - if not, skip to the next paragraph. 

Every person is different, they handle change very differently and they also handle stress very differently. It's important to be aware of yourself but also aware of what the other person needs in order to feel confident about moving far away. Me, for example, I've moved away from home before when I was 18 to Illinois, sure it was VERY different as I had little to nothing holding me back and I quit my job and BYE. I was just a baby. However, Spencer has never moved very far away from his family. Whether you're 18 or 28, it's never a fun time saying goodbye to family. We were spoiled. We are big family people. So, while I'm somewhat prepared and familiar with the goodbye part - he was not. Respect the hell out of that. Don't sit there saying "It's fine you'll be fine I was fine". You're not them and that's not what they want to hear. Just simply BE THERE for them, give them space when they need it and be supportive. 

Secondly, I highly suggest sitting down and going over finances and rent/mortgage questions BEFORE you move. Not only is this just time efficient, but it is mentally so healthy. There won't be any panicking over bills when you're already there - this risks you potentially feeling trapped if you do not agree on something. If you gotta write out a rent contract so you're both aware of who pays for what and how things are split, do it. There's nothing wrong with that. But doing it BEFORE you get to your destination is always a smart thing to do. You go into the situation with confidence and more importantly - you're on the same page. And holy hell is that important.

You're a team. Act like a team. Be respectful of the other persons feelings and the way they handle change and talk about what you're excited about. Make plans to explore and be a supportive unit to the... team. I say team a lot.

Be a fucking team.


Quick insight on me as a human before we continue.

I am an unapologetic outgoing introvert. I'm not shy by any means, I will talk to strangers and put myself out there (to an extent).. but when it comes to navigating the unfamiliar BY MYSELF, hm nope. I've always been that person that didn't like to do things alone, unless I had done it a dozen times before and was familiar. You wouldn't ever see me sitting in a restaurant eating by myself, I'd rather drive thru and sit in my car alone. I never wanted to be the one to make outgoing general inquiry phone calls. No, you call and order the pizza. But during this move and especially BEING HERE.. I'm really proud of myself and how I'm overcoming these obstacles on a daily basis like it's no big deal. Quick tiny shout out to myself, hey go you. Just know that it is OKAY to be this way, there's nothing wrong with you, we're all wired differently. These tasks may seem like NOTHING to some people, but that doesn't make them better than you. You're not less of a person for being scared of the unknown. Hello, hi, *waves* You're not alone. 

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Something I heard recently, and it's solid advice, is to pick something you want to do and pick something you need to do - one thing a day, minimum. It can be something as small as taking a shower, cooking your favorite meal, sitting outside and reading a book for a few minutes, anything... and then pick something you need to do, like laundry, going to the gym, running a simple errand, anything. I guarantee this way of thinking will do nothing but improve your anxieties over time because lists and things of that nature always help me. Makes me feel accomplished at the end of the day.

Don't be afraid to reach out to locals. A very smart and nerdy thing I did before moving here was I joined a Community Group on Facebook. If I had any questions, for ex: I was looking for a good kennel free boarding place for Warwick... just trying to be productive. And asking everyone in that community group was SO helpful. Even just scroll through and reading other peoples questions and answers was super reassuring. Especially if you're looking for a place to live - asking the locals what good areas are is so smart. Just my two cents.

Don't sweat it. Just tackle this one day at a time. You'll do great.


The Actual Moving Process.

So this was a struggle for me at first, I kept going back and forth and back and forth between moving companies to use. We knew we didn't want to drive our stuff up ourselves, just because we had the dog and Spencer's car, it just felt a lot less stressful and easier to go with a company. I researched 4 or 5, called and got quotes or honestly some of them never even got back to my emails. I had danced with the idea of using PODS because I heard so many of my friends use them, but had of course heard mixed reviews... I got a quote, set it aside, and kept looking. I had called a company called Zippy Movers, talked to a lady on the phone for 25 minutes (20 of those minutes was her telling me how much PODS sucked instead of educating me on their moving process... a bit fishy) But I wrote down the quote anyway, a little bit cheaper but not by much. It's always good to do research and read reviews.

When it came down to crunch time, we went with PODS. They had been super helpful in answering my questions (all 10,000 of them) and were super responsive and easy to book. The POD arrived at the apartment, we hired movers to pack it up (recommended!) and it got picked up and went on it's way. This gave us 7 days without our things. We had packed a bags worth of stuff, stayed in town for a few more days and left. We were so eager to get up here we left sooner, took 3 days to drive up, and spent 3 days at the house without our stuff and just an inflatable air mattress. (not recommended) or maybe our air mattress just sucked. My back was killing me and I couldn't WAIT to unload our bed. If I could go back and do it again, I would've waited and arrived when our stuff arrived but 3 days isn't so bad and I'm being a baby. 

The POD was dropped off (on time) and we hired movers to help unload because we did have some bulky heavy items... but when I look back at it, we could have easily had friends come over and help us unload and that would've saved us a few $$. But it's alright. Having the movers LOAD everything into the POD was crucial. You should hire a company that is familiar with PODS and how to pack them tightly so nothing gets damaged. As far as unloading goes, it's very black and white, there's no special way to do it. You don't really need experts. It's not rocket science. Again, just my two cents.

All in all, I would 100% recommend PODS. I would use them again if we ever move again in the future. Most of the horror stories I have heard were regarding having them store the POD for a few weeks before it's delivered. So I probably wouldn't do that (if possible). Just straight and narrow - pick up, drop off k thanks bye. That's the way to go.

*not sponsored by PODS, we paid for that shit.


So. Here's our perfect little home. We're renting, for anyone who's wondering. We live in a HOUSE that's twice the size of our apartment in CA with a 2 car garage and it's CHEAPER RENT THAN WHAT WE WERE PAYING. *looks into camera like The Office* 

I didn't know what to expect when moving here, but I can honestly say I have zero regrets. It feels so right. I'm not going to say "Why didn't we do this sooner?" because honestly... timing is everything... and it was perfect timing. For me, for Spencer & I as a couple, for everything. It's important to notice that. 

I hope this post was helpful to ANYONE who's looking for advice on moving long distance, especially those in relationships. Spencer and I have learned so much during this process and if sharing our experience is helpful - I'M ABOUT IT. I'll forever be transparent with you all. Love you guys! xo

ps. Thanks for the warm welcome, WA. It's been BEAUTIFUL here ever since we arrived and I hope I didn't just jinx that. crap.

A Letter To My 20 Year Old Self.

Dear Michelle,

First off - Breathe. It's gonna be okay. 

I know you feel trapped, in this world you think is going to be forever. You feel paralyzed by something that doesn't necessarily feel like fear, but it is. You won't admit it, it's okay. 

I bet you're setting up your camera on your tripod, getting ready to take another really artistically dark self portrait. You think it's just art (which it is) but holy shit, it speaks volumes about what you're dealing with. It is your emotional outlet and you have absolutely no idea. You will one day look back at these photos and be able to see every ounce of pain and anxiety and suffocating feeling you are feeling right now. It is awful but also incredible in a really weird way. It tells a story.

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I promise you though - it goes away. Soon you will see that nothing is a barrier for you and you are absolutely fucking limitless. Soon you will see that life can be so much more than your current routine. Soon you will see how much you are capable of achieving. Your worth is not defined by his definition of "love". That is not love. You will see. But first, you will have to learn how to love yourself without anyone else involved. You will have to learn how to stand on your own two feet. It's gonna be really fucking hard, but it's gonna be so worth it.

You will find peace in therapy. You will find out who your true friends are. You will become independent and self sufficient. You will also fall down along the way, you will struggle, you will make mistakes and hurt people but you will learn lessons. Learning - that's good. Just make sure you keep moving forward. You will take this whole awful experience and use it for good; to reach out to others. You will instill strength in people who were/are in your current situation. I know you may not feel like it now, but I swear to fucking god you will have a voice. You will find love. You will find happiness and you will no longer be a victim of abuse. 

But one thing you don't have to worry about changing... is you will never lose the passion to be creative. It may not be dark, but it's probably for the best that you can no longer channel those feelings anymore. You will still be creating and it will become your full time job. Remember in high school when we had no career future in mind, all we knew was that we wanted to create and it needed to involve a camera? We do that. We fucking do that. How cool is that?

Your future is bright no matter how dim your light may be at the moment. Your spirit will no longer be crushed. Your personality will no longer be hidden by fear. You will learn what real love feels like and you'll realize that when you are 24 and you meet a boy who asks to take your picture and makes you feel so beautiful. 

I know you're doing the best you can. I know it's hard for you to open up to anyone. I promise what you're going through will be heard. What you're going through will not define you. What you're going through will always be with you, but you will soon see it from a different perspective. This will not hinder your growth.

So just breathe, and repeat after me: This is not forever. This is just the pre-game of something great. These are stepping stones. This is just an unfortunate carnival ride we went on - but we get off of it. I love you and I'm so proud of you. You're gonna be so great. 

Love, Michelle

Pep Talk

A quick pep talk: from me to you.. from you to you.. However you want to interoperate this. But this is important, so listen. 

Key phrases. I've been told "You're stupid if you think THAT hurt your feelings. Calm down." I've been told "Oh my god, emotional abuse is not a thing, quit being a baby." I've been told "If you would clean more and listen better, I'll love you like I promised I would." I've been told "You're the one with the problems, why do I need to go to therapy with you?" I've been told "You're not supposed to go out with your friends alone when you're in a relationship, who's more important? Me or them?"

I've been told I was a shitty girlfriend because I burnt the brownies or didn't cook well. I've been told I was a slut because I had more friends who were guys than girls. I've been talked down to because I wasn't as experienced sexually as they were. I've been called a baby because my feelings were hurt by something. Anything. Does it matter? I've been told that I deserved to be abused because I was a bad friend. I've been called names, put down, locked outside of my own home, left on the side of the road, been told I wasn't good enough. 

Please do not mistake this with love. This is not someone who loves you.

photo credit: unknown (if you know, please tell me so I can properly credit them!)

photo credit: unknown (if you know, please tell me so I can properly credit them!)

You are allowed to feel hurt. You are allowed to feel joy. More importantly, you are allowed to say no when you are uncomfortable. There is no right or wrong. You are allowed to walk away from something that is toxic to your mental health. You are allowed (and encouraged) to put yourself and your own happiness first, before anything else. You are not selfish for loving yourself more. You are allowed to have friends outside of your relationship. You are allowed to do things apart. You should! Nobody should ever talk down to you about anything. You are not lower than any other person. You don't owe anyone anything. If you get kicked down, you are allowed to be upset, but however long you lie in the dirt is completely up to you. 

We all have experienced shit in our lives, we all have triggers, we all have pasts, we all have low points, high points and times in our lives when we feel fucking invincible or invisible. We all are only responsible for ourselves and our own actions. We cannot control what people say or do or think. More importantly, what people say or do or think does not define us. Standing up for yourself does not make you a bitch. Saying no does not make you a prude. 

You are strong. You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are nobody else but yourself and that's what makes you unique. You are strong for getting out of bed this morning. You are brave for doing things that scare you, no matter how big or small. Triumphs are triumphs. You are amazing for holding on when shit gets tough. You are enough and if someone ever makes you feel like you aren't these things - then that's on them. They have to live with that. That reflects on how they feel towards themselves, not you.

It's okay if you have a shitty day. We all have them. It's okay if you cried in your car after a really hard shift at work. It's okay if you'd rather stay in instead of going out on a Friday night. It's okay to voice your opinion if something hurt you. It's okay to be excited about stupid little shit like a package arriving in the mail because it's important to you - and you should be excited. It's okay to take a day off work to get some extra sleep or book yourself a massage. It's okay to walk away from someone or something that no longer helps you grow. It's fucking okay.

I am proud of you.

You should be proud of yourself too.

I want you to bookmark this, screen shot it, save it in your phone, whatever you have to do. Please read this whenever you feel low, whenever you don't feel good enough, whenever you feel like you must be destined for failure because nothing seems to be going your way, whenever you're sad, whenever you need a kick in the ass to keep going and whenever you feel alone.

You're never alone, it's ok to feel low but just don't stay there, you are good enough, failure only makes us stronger, and you can always count on me to kick you in the ass when you need it most. 

xo girrlscout

My Name Is Spencer And I'm A Drug Addict.

I'll start off with saying that I don't normally talk about this part of my life. I am not ashamed of it, but I have found that when you tell people you are a recovering drug addict a snap judgement is made. I can't say I blame those people, but in any case it's easier to just avoid the conversation all together unless it is relevant. 

That being said, Michelle shared a dark chapter of her life not so long ago in hopes of helping people that might be going through a similar situation and after seeing the overwhelming positive response the post had, I thought sharing my dark chapter might also be helpful to some people.

I'll spare you the gruesome details, but at the age of 14 I was arrested on my high school campus for possession of narcotics for sale. I had a pretty hefty addiction to heroin and crystal meth and I had a stiff liking for just about any pills I could get my hands on. I had been using very heavily for about 3 years. Now I'm sure a lot of you are thinking how could you be a drug addict at such a young age? Well, let's talk about it.

Addiction is a disease. You are born with it, or you are not. An alarming amount of people suffer from it, even if they don't even know it. That doesn't necessarily mean they are drug addicts, it just means that they have become powerless over an addiction and their lives have become unmanageable because of it. It could be anything - shopping, sex, video games, food, etc. or in my case - drugs. Drug abuse just happens to be the most widely destructive because it is mind altering, in most cases illegal, and a lot of the time your body can become physically dependent on it. 

Now, in my case, my addiction caused me to do a lot of things I'm not proud of. I lied, I cheated, I stole, I hurt people, just like any respectable drug addict would. But at that age and especially with that kind of addiction, I didn't care. I just wanted to be numb. I hated everyone and I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted to escape from what I thought was a living hell. Which is funny now that I look back on it. I didn't have a bad childhood. I grew up in a loving middle class suburban family. I had plenty of friends. I played sports and was good at them. But for whatever reason I wanted to escape that. I started hanging out with gangs, selling drugs, fighting a lot, all with little regard for the potentially life ending - or at least life ruining consequences. All things considered I was very lucky to have been caught when I was, although at the time I felt very differently. 

I was obviously expelled from my school and spent quite a bit of time in rehab and began my journey of recovery. Of course, as a young rebellious 14 year old kid I had no plans of staying sober. I continued to sell drugs, fight, roll with gangs, and was arrested more times in my early years of sobriety then I was when I was using. I figured I would stay sober until I was 18 when my father would no longer have any legal influence on my life.

But as time passed, I realized what a mess my life was. I mean, what 14 year old is detoxing from amphetamines and opiates at the same time in the substance abuse rehabilitation wing of a hospital? As I reluctantly began to work my way through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I realized that I had created quite a bit of wreckage even though I had little to show for it. I remember being in and out of court for the first year or two dealing with my felony charges and wondering if that was what my life was going to be like from then on. It was daunting. I had to learn how to live again. I had to learn how to feel things and deal with pain and depression without the help of narcotics. I had to feel all the feels and get through it. Sounds easy, but to a 14 year old who spent most of his puberty on drugs, it wasn't.

Early on in the program, I was told I would never be able to use drugs or drink alcohol ever again for the rest of my life, and if I did, I would surely end up in jail, rehab, or the morgue. I was told that I would never fully recover from drug addiction and that this nightmare of a disease would be with me for the rest of my life doing pushups in the back of my mind. And if I didn't do everything I could to fight back, it would undoubtedly destroy me. Some strong things for a 14 year old to hear. Especially because all I wanted to do was get high and all these crocks with their sobriety chips and 'higher powers' were bonkers anyways. It wasn't until I started to hang out with older people that had what I wanted that I started to realize how much of a piece of shit I truly was and that a change really did need to be made. Not only did I need to not use drugs ever again, I needed to repair the wreckage I had caused, and spend the rest of my life repaying my debt to society and working relentlessly to be the best person I could be. Again, a tall order for a 14 year old to swallow. Forever is a long time.

You see - by nature addicts are selfish. They are masters of manipulation. They are self destructive. And our disease will convince us to do just about anything to get what it wants. 

So for the next 4 or 5 years I spent every day chipping away at my darkness. Letting a little bit of light in one day at a time. Making amends to those I had wronged. Being selfless wherever I could. Graduating high school ON TIME by some miracle. And I eventually got to the point where I could live a somewhat normal life and not every day was spent fighting a darkness that never seemed to go away. I stayed busy. Got passionate about other things or 'switched one addiction for another'. Occupied my mind and my hands any productive way I could. Because I knew that if I didn't, very very bad things would happen.

I still struggle every day. I still crave every day. I still fight every day. I still struggle with depression and social anxiety. Even though it has gotten a lot easier over the last 12 years, the darkness still haunts me every day. But it doesn't control me. I combat it by being selfless. Going out of my way to do nice things for people that may or may not deserve it. Working hard and trying to be the best at everything I do even though my cynical mind knows I am far from the best at anything I do and I never will be. I surround myself with good people that will push me to be better and rid my life of the poisonous ones. I don't sit in self pity. I don't feel sorry for myself. I take responsibility for my life. No one else can control me. No one else can hurt me if I don't let them. I have gone through just about everything life can throw at a young middle class Californian and more all in sobriety. And I'm still here. I'm not in jail or rehab. And I'm not dead. In fact, I am in a place in my life that I never thought I would be in. Now my biggest problem is that it's hard for me to stop working long enough to enjoy my accomplishments. It's also incredibly difficult for me to accept compliments and praise. But thats a whole nother battle. 

I will end with this by saying I do not regret my life's path. And I again am not ashamed to call myself an addict. It forced me to grow up a lot faster than most people, and because of that I like to think I got a head start on life. There are people from my high school that are still wasting their days partying and getting loaded and that is their choice. But I choose to be happy. I choose to work hard and feel accomplished. I choose to build a life I can be proud of. And I choose work to be a better person. I get to remember every great moment of my life. I get to enjoy the little things. I get to be happy. I get to be free. And that is a better high than any drug can give me.

I Survived An Abusive Marriage.

Okay, where do I even start here...

First off. I was never one to be pressured into doing things, even in high school. I never felt like I gave in to anything I didn't want to do. Hell, it's 2017 and I still have never smoked weed and I'm cool with that. Not my cup of tea. I liked doing my own thing. I still do. But peer pressure is absolutely nothing compared to being scared to leave an unhealthy situation. 


circa 2008

circa 2008

Eighteen years old. Working part time making smoothies with my friends and hanging out. Your typical teenager. I've always been into the internet and blogging; hell yeah I had a melodramatic, a live journal, a myspace, flickr, etc. you name it. I had no real big online presence by any means, but that has never stopped me from writing and being social. One thing lead to another and I met a guy online through a mutual friend who lived a few states away. A bit older than me, but at 18, that was totally cool. *exaggerated eye roll* As these stories go, they are great in the beginning. Of course. No complaints. I felt loved and treated well and I was happy. I visited him, he came out here to CA once, and within 3-4 months I made the 18 year old decision to quit my job and move there. Fuck it. You only live once, right? 

There were definitely red flags once I made the move. Nights when I would be on the phone with my mom and had her asking me if I wanted to come home. But in my mind, all I could think about was that I had already made such a big commitment in moving, my car was driven all the way out here, I had no job to go home to, I was scared. I would brush it off, cry and wake up the next day hoping it would be better. Sometimes it was or sometimes a blow out argument would occur for the slightest reasons. Yet there I was, still taking photos and posting them to everyone like everything was great. It's weird how you go to this place in your mind where you're numb and everything is cloudy and you're just sort of floating through each day, walking on egg shells and trying to them happy and forgetting about yourself.

circa 2008

circa 2008

Not even 2 months later, we came back out to visit my family for the holidays. Apparently he asked my parents permission to marry me and they told him to wait longer. Of course he didn't listen. It was hardly a proposal. I don't even think the words "Will you marry me?" came out of his mouth at all. He just tried putting on a ring that was at least 3 sizes too big. He got angry and threw a little fit. Romantic, right? I tried to stay calm. I was scared and not knowing how to act. He told me that my entire family was waiting at the house and that I "needed to act happy." I threw up a little on the way to the car. Trust me, a congratulations was hardly needed.

circa 2009

circa 2009

I sometimes wonder how painfully obvious I was to the people around me or how completely oblivious everyone was. I never knew what people were thinking but I never really told anyone because the days would fluctuate so rapidly. I was usually pretty good at hiding my emotions back then. I got flung into wedding planning and was enjoying it. What girl wouldn't at 18/19? We ended up getting matching tattoos and told each other that after the wedding we would each get the second piece to complete it. Needless to say, I got the second piece after the wedding and he never did. Clever foreshadowing, universe... if only I had taken notice. A few months flew by, we ended up moving out to CA because I knew I would feel safer near my family. I really missed home. The wedding happened. That's all I have to say...it happened. No fond memories or crazy enjoyable moments. It was awkward and I was painfully sober. A big waste of money is what I think and it makes me physically sick. What an expensive lesson. I am so sorry mom & dad.


Nineteen years old. Newly married to someone I had zero respect for and who clearly had zero respect for me right back. Tumbling down the rabbit hole we went. I figured, well, this is my life I can't back out now. Not even a month into the marriage, being in an unfamiliar place for him with zero friends, he put me on constant watch. It was go to work and come straight home. If I didn't, I was questioned. No grocery store by myself, because why on earth would I go without him? What's the password for your computer? Email? I would take my laptop with me to work just so he wouldn't try and break it if I wasn't there. Most arguments would end with me trying to be calm and stepping outside to get some air but getting locked out of the house or locked out on the balcony in the cold. One time when I stepped out I took my keys with me, because I knew his locking pattern, yet came back to find the door barricaded shut with the coffee table. A few times I was forced to pee in our kitchen sink because he locked me out of our bathroom. Getting called stupid for overcooking dinner or folding the laundry "wrong". This did not seem like typical married life to me but I didn't know what to do about it. I was always told you get married once. I had never had the "What if I want to get divorced?" talk with anyone before. 

circa 2011

circa 2011

No, I was never punched in the face or thrown down a flight of stairs but that does not mean this relationship wasn't abusive. There are so many different types of abuse. There were times when I would wish he would hit me so that I would have a reason to leave and I'd have physical proof to show people. But you almost feel foolish running to the police or any authoritative person with "He's calling me names and being mean to me." You somehow, in your naive frightened mind, feel like it's not a good enough excuse. But I'm telling you, it is. It fucking is.  


Twenty one years old. I left. I lasted 1 year and 10 months somehow. I don't even know how I made it that long. I am the first one to always admit that it takes two people to create a problem in any relationship. I wasn't going to walk away from this unless I knew I tried everything possible to fix it. Just for my sanity. I got myself a therapist. It felt amazing having a neutral person to talk to about my frustrations but of course, I was still a bit guarded in disclosing some details. About 2 months later, feeling a bit more confident... I was slowly gaining respect for myself; I started to see the light. She had asked me to invite him to our next weekly session. Now, this was my ah-ha moment. My light bulb. Everyone has one. I asked him to come, and I got the response: "Why would I go when you're the one with the issues?" 

K, bye. 

He went out to visit his family a few days later, I did not go with him, and while he was gone I had friends and family help me move my stuff out. I finally felt strong enough to leave. I tried everything to better myself for the sake of whatever was left of the relationship and he basically spat in my face when it came to doing his part. That's okay. I'm okay. I'm better without you. I will never have a "what if" thought because I tried so I'm moving on with my head held high.


I have never publicly written about this portion of my life before. Even when it was happening. Mainly because I was still healing from everything and trying to move on, but mostly because I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Yes, I was the victim, but I never wanted to be viewed as a victim. Does that make sense? I also felt like it was really nobodies business and if they wanted to make their own judgements about me without asking, then cool whatever. I lost a few friends who never bothered to ask and just assumed I was young and wanted to play the field some more and didn't take the institution of marriage seriously. *shrug* When you're 21 years old and you're at the courthouse alone filing for a divorce, you don't get the most comforting looks. People don't know and that's okay. I knew what happened and that's what's most important. People will still assume and say to me "Well you're writing off marriage now huh." Um... Absolutely not, I definitely want to get married again. Why would I blame the institution of marriage because one person was a complete asshole? 

The best thing I did afterwards was stay in therapy. Building myself back up and focusing on ME was so important. The worst thing I did was try to find comfort in jumping into other relationships. Going from the mentality of "this is forever" to "okay it's not forever, I'm free" is quite a culture shock especially since I was so young and still very naive. The one thing I do regret is jumping into things so quickly because I ended up hurting some people who didn't deserve it. 


before / after

before / after

It's now been 6 years since I left.

I just recently covered a big piece of the past. That matching tattoo. This was a total psychological cover up. Nobody should ever be forced to carry around a painful reminder and nobody should ever feel ashamed for the ways they need to heal.

This tattoo is now mine and only mine. I feel such a sense of pride in this. Fuck. It feel so good. 

Now. (Almost) Twenty seven years old. Today. I am 200% confident in saying that if this all never happened to me, I would not be the person I am today. Now, that's not saying I'm glad it happened...at all. What I'm saying is it's all about perspective. I spent years trying to grasp "why me? why me?" and sulk about it but when it came to eventually healing... it ended up shaping me and making me strong because of how I viewed the situation, not because it happened. I'm really proud of who I am because of that bullshit. Thus my "give no fucks" attitude was born. I now put respect at the top of my list when it comes to relationships. Even friendships. I am so happy now and I recognize my worth because of the times when it wasn't recognized. I am in a healthy relationship with someone who respects me and loves me and pushes me to be better. Spencer, you are an angel. 

A very big part in why I'm choosing to share this with you is... I never had someone to relate to, to run to, to confide in when I was going through all of this shit. When I was slowly realizing that the things that were happening to me were not normal I would print out articles online regarding abusive relationships and make all of the necessary connections but as we know, wikipedia isn't always very personal. There could be 5 million different definitions of this shit. I'd rather hear from a freaking human being who's been through it. Who is now.. me. 

I'd like to think I'm a good example of how you can trudge through trauma and still come out on the right side. You are not unlovable. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to be the one to create it and you have every tool necessary. The more I viewed this whole situation as one big lesson, the less and less I regret it happening. I just think - the more I learn from, hell.. everything that has ever happened to me, the better person I will be tomorrow. All of the times I got fucked over, the times I fucked others over, it's all to help you grow - it just depends on how you look at it. Like I said, it's all about your perspective. 

If sharing my story helps even just one person who is currently in the same position or a similar position I was in so many years ago, that's all I want. Know that I am here and you are not alone. This is not the end. So much life exists after abuse and so does love.

chriskphoto.com

chriskphoto.com

Take A Moment. {unplug}

I came across this video the other day that sparked something inside of me. That sounded like something from Disney, wow. Anyways, I've had this feeling time and time again to cover this subject on here but I could just never find the right words. Well, I dug real deep and found some, so let's give this a shot. 

As a photographer, I shoot a lot of newlyweds, couples, families, etc. People that have been around the world and back together and don't get me wrong, I fucking love what I do, but it's rare when I come across a couple that's just dating and they just want rad photos together. You don't see that very often. People get their photo taken when something big happens, an engagement, a baby on the way, a wedding, an anniversary, but never just because. 

The fact that Spencer and I are both photographers, it's somewhat rare we have professional photos of us together that aren't taken on an iPhone. We recently took a road trip with a few friends into the Imperial Sand Dunes to take some photos. There was no sponsorship behind this shoot, there was no secret meaning, rhyme or reason - it was just to have knock-your-socks-off photos of my man and I and hangout with some good people. Why the fuck not? Of course, the second we post a few on Facebook, everyone and their mother had assumed we got engaged. I mean, there's clearly no picture of a ring here people so I was a little confused but that just proves my point.. why else would we drive 3.5 hours east to take some epic photos together, we MUST be engaged or something, right? Wrong.  I mean... not yet. ;) 

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Something people don't know, or I guess don't find out until they do it is... when you're posing during a photo session you are forced to honestly just stand there and stare at the other person. Obviously someone you love, but how often do you do this in every day life? Now, I know that sounds sorta awkward, I can assure you it isn't. But honestly, you have a moment together. You're just looking at each other, no phone screens, not even talking, you're just... there, together. I have to tell you, that shit lights you on fire. Every single time we do a photo shoot, those quiet moments I have where I'm just looking at him.. I fall deeper in love with him. I leave that shoot feeling so warm and fuzzy inside it's indescribable. It's almost like it recharges your batteries as a person and as a couple.

Photo by Chris K Photos

Photo by Chris K Photos

Couples and relationships aside, even photos aside, the video below is the one that inspired me to actually sit down and write this. I felt like the two subjects go completely hand in hand. You don't need to schedule a photo session to take time for this, it just happened to be my personal example. It is SO powerful to put everything else aside and just look at someone you care about. I feel like people tend to get caught up in technology and forget that. Says the blogger who's career is based on the internet. Spencer and I still make sure to make that time and have weekends where we unplug and put our phones on airplane mode to be with each other. It's extremely important and more impactful than you know. Try it.

I shouldn't have watched this in public, now I can't stop crying !"Can simply looking at someone for 4 minutes improve your relationship?" Share it with your loved ones and give it a try. How did you feel?

Posted by pindaPanda on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wipe your tears. I know this is a very off-the-wall post for me to do but it hit me pretty hard and I had to share it with you guys. Even if it's just something to take a step back and think about. The relationships you have in your lives are so important and it's amazing that something so small can be so impactful. Take a moment to see. Love those close to you. Look them deep in the eyes and don't forget to tell them. Hell, make it awkward and whisper. haha. 

I love you all so much, in the most awkward way possible because, that's all I know. 

Every Day Valentine.

It's been awhile since Spencer and I collaborated on a blog post for you guys; it's long overdue, I'm sorry. We're going to write this one together, as a unit, as a collaborative force. 

Now, I don't ever want to come off like we know it all or we're telling you what you should do. That's not how I do things and frankly, that's not how I feel one learns. We're going to share how WE do things and what we feel has helped shape our relationship along the way. We're all still learning here, as I always stress. Alright, let's dive into it.

Photo by: Anna DeMarco

Photo by: Anna DeMarco

Every so often we get asked how we keep our relationship interesting and constantly growing, that's not to say we don't have our set backs every once in awhile just like every other couple.. but we feel along the way we've figured out certain things on how to keep things alive, thriving and healthy. 

First things first, it takes a lot of effort from both parties in order to sustain a healthy/growing relationship after the "H-OMG THEY LIKE ME!" phase. That whole saying, "it doesn't take 50/50 from each party, it takes 100/100" is extremely important. Write that down. 

Secondly, we wake up and choose one another and make a conscious effort to make sure the other person feels loved, encouraged, and important. Effort not only stems from reassurance and let's say, gift buying... it also means making the effort to learn about the other person: How do they receive affection? Also how do they show affection? Everybody does these two things differently, most of the time. It is important to realize that. Communication and speaking up is also so important when it comes to establishing that base line. I mean, it's important regardless, but you know what we mean. Speak up. Asking these types of questions is so key in any relationship; fuck... asking ALL THE QUESTIONS is key. Don't ever stop learning, don't ever stop continuing to grow with each other.  

We also get asked how we keep things spicy and fresh as time goes by; one major thing we do is we make an effort to step out of our routine. We go eat somewhere new, go on a spontaneous road trip, plan a vacation, hangout with people we haven't seen in awhile, get all dressed up and go out on the town for no reason; JUST PLAN STUFF. We make a note to have a fancy date night once a month, no matter what. It's so important to do this and not get stuck in a rut and these things most definitely do not all require large amounts of money. We're not millionaires, we don't have the money to jet set around the world frequently, but that doesn't mean your life/relationship can't be adventurous. Write that down, too.   


While we have many similarities when it comes to interests like photography and such, please don't assume that includes ALL of our hobbies. Both of us are into different shit, but we both make sure we are there to support said hobbies/interests/passions regardless. Whether or not you understand it, being a supportive counter part goes farther than you think it does. 

Sustaining a relationship is hard work and it only succeeds if both parties are giving it their all, like we stated before I know I know haha. We've both been put through the ringer when it comes to past relationships but it has done nothing but shape and prepare us for handling anything and everything that is thrown our way. I mean, this goes for everyone as well, we know bad eggs exist and we believe they are there for a purpose. This purpose. Don't ever let assholes from your past hold you back from loving someone as hard as you fucking can. There are people in the world that don't suck. There are people in the world who are looking for the same kind of love and companionship as you are and don't give up on them. They won't give up on you.

Like we stated in the beginning, this post is not meant to come off like we have the answer to everything and we have a picture perfect relationship. That is far from the truth, nothing is ever perfect. It is perfectly imperfect. Every relationship is different but they are more similar than we think - we are all one big family and we can all learn from each other. To be just as good at listening rather than shelling out advice is important. Stay humble and stay eager to learn, that is how we all can achieve what we want when it comes to love and frankly, when it comes to just, life. 

We appreciate every ounce of love and support we receive from you guys and we want nothing more than to shove it right back at you. In your face. I mean, you know, in an affectionate way. I hope everyone, whether you're in a relationship or not, has a great weekend full of love. It doesn't need to be Valentine's day for you to spread love to people you care about. Happy February 12th. We love you today and we'll love you tomorrow and you see where this is going... 

Cheers,

Michelle & Spencer

Confidence.

One thing you need to know diving into this, is that I was never this confident person that I am today. Frankly, I still have bad days where I feel off or intimidated by life or not pretty for whatever reason. It happens, that's life, just don't let it set you back is what's important.

Over the years I've learned a lot while figuring shit out and downloading the 101 on being authentically myself. As I stated before in my college post, I learn best from trial and error. I'm stubborn, I'll admit, and I'd rather fail and figure it out the hard way than go forward not knowing first hand, that's how I've always been, ask my parents. I need experiences! Well with that mentality, I've had a fuck ton of them so far and embracing those experiences as lessons instead of trials that hold me back has changed my life INDEFINITELY. Some days are harder than others and it's not something that just happens, you have to make a conscious effort to see things this way, but it's 100% worth it.

Photo by: Baldwin Media

Photo by: Baldwin Media

This is not something I've discovered overnight, keep that in mind. Finding confidence in yourself and who you are is not a race to the finish line and it is not something that can ever be compared to anyone else's journey. This is so fucking important. I've had a heap of wrong turns in order to learn who I am, what I want out of life, what I want in a relationship and how to stick up for myself but that's my story. The biggest mistake that I see people making, that I made myself at one point in time, is thinking everyone around me "has it all together" and I must be doing something wrong. What other people do with their life has NOTHING to do with you and yours. Remember that. People can be getting married, having kids, traveling all around you - that does not mean your life has derailed and you're a failure. You're doing great. That's what they are doing; focus on what you are doing. 

We were born to be real, not to be perfect.
— a friendly reminder

I'm still learning. Nothing feels better than looking back at the things you were upset about and thinking "I'm glad that happened because look at me now, fuckers!" Let yourself embrace the process. I swear to god the second you start giving yourself some credit for how far you've come year after year, you'll never be disappointed. The second I stopped comparing my life to the lives of others around me, that's the second I started living. The moment I stopped caring what other people assumed about me or about what has happened in my life, I started living; fully. Opinions only matter if you let them. They don't matter, just sayin', a personal tip from me to you. 

When it comes down to it, nobody knows you better than yourself. You have a story to tell and it can only be told by you. Own it all, own every fucking second of it and confidence follows.

Shit I Don't Want To Do Next Year.

Around this time of year all I see are blog posts about goals they want to achieve in the new year. I figured, while that is helpful to some.. that's pretty cliché and that's not who I am, I don't feel like that's a form of growth... I'd rather switch it up, focus on the shit I DON'T want to do so I know better for next time. I highly recommend it.

Hell, every DAY is a new opportunity to grow but for the sake of the New Year fast approaching, we're gonna go with the year thing. I definitely learned a lot about myself this year and I personally find this backwards method to be far more therapeutic than focusing on things you'll probably do for a month and then go back to eating pizza every weekend because that's what I usually do. Focusing on the things you need to work on, the things that went wrong this year, what you gained from them and how you can grow from here on out. It doesn't all have to be emotional shit either, keep that in mind, this list is entirely up to you. Personalize it. You'd be surprised how much more motivating it is than a regular list of "I'm gonna eat healthier" goals. I find it makes you dig a bit deeper, y'know?

So, humanize with me for a second, here's my personal list for 2016:

  1. I don't want to overthink as much as I do sometimes. I want to focus on how to better keep my mind occupied and focused on things that matter and not things that only live in my mind.
  2. I don't want to harbor any deep rooted anger towards anything or anyone. I must remember only I have the ability to confront or let go of any situation that takes up too much of my brain space. It's not worth it.
  3. I don't want to focus any of my energy on what's NOT happening. I need to focus on what IS happening in the present moment because that's what matters most. Sometimes that slips, I'm only human however.
  4. I don't want to give anyone else control over my own happiness. It is completely up to me to be happy, not anyone else. 
  5. I don't want to neglect my car and it's needs, I must treat it like it's my child. I'm sorry baby.
  6. I don't want to invest time in people that don't respect me enough to just be honest with me. Be real with me, I get shit, I can take it.   
  7. I don't want to be so hard on myself. Just chill, Michelle, you're doing good.
  8. I don't want to let the appearance of my skin effect the way I carry myself or live out my day. Bad skin days happen and I should never let that stop me from gaining every experience from those 24 hours I am blessed with. 
  9. I don't want to overanalyze every thing I say 5 seconds after I've said it. Or at least I want to try harder not to. Struggling with anxiety it tends to come as a package deal. I'm constantly working on bettering myself at that.
  10. I don't want anyone to ever think that I have a picture perfect life. I want to continue to be as authentic, gritty and messy as I truly am. I'm pretty gross you guys.

I urge you, whether it's for New Year's or just a random Wednesday night, to sit down and analyze the lessons you've learned. I promise you, it helps. But also remember to not be so hard on yourself. You're learning, I'm learning, we're all just slowly inching our way to the top of wherever and whoever we want to be. 


If you're going into the new year with zero advice, let me leave you with what always helps me. I know I've said this before but... every bad situation can always be turned into something positive. Everything, no matter what the circumstance, can motivate you to go harder, be better or be stronger than you were before. Now I sound like my mother, huh. I'm okay with it, I like her. 

These are things I tell myself every day. Let me get personal with you guys for a moment here. This year I got laid off from a steady job I had for almost 3 years. That wasn't in the cards, but shit happens. I knew that wasn't the direction I wanted my "career-life" to go. So, a bit sooner than I expected to leave, I took it as a sign that I should focus all my energy on what DOES make me happy and somehow create a career out of that. It's seriously all about perspective, I'm telling you... that whole mom thing I said before. It's also all about surrounding yourself with the right people and the right support system. Someone to smack you in the ass and say go fucking get 'em right when you need it. If you don't have one of those, I volunteer as tribute.

When you get knocked down, sooner or later you’re going to have to get back up but the amount of time you lie in the dirt is entirely up to you.
— unknown

This year has been full of crazy opportunity, adventure, self love and acceptance and I bet it won't be the only year that is. I can't wait to see what the future holds. I have a feeling it's gonna be a great 2016. ok, too cliché, i have to go wash out my mouth with soap now.

I love you guys, I hope every single one of you has a great holiday season. See you next year.

xo Girrlscout

P.S. I apologize it's been so long since I've blogged, this month has been insanely busy, in a great way. But I assure you, I'm not going anywhere, I don't think anything could stop me from writing. I'm afraid you're stuck with me, we're in a relationship, that's it. wannafightaboutit?

I Didn't Go To College, So What?

More often than not, I get asked "Where did you go to college?", "What's your major?" as normal conversation starters or just curious how I got to where I am today.. but then comes the awkward, "I didn't go to college". Sometimes I'll get a response of, "Hey, good for you!", but there's always gotta be that "adult" in the room that does a subtle head shake (kids these days...) thinking that me having a college degree and an outstanding loan on my shoulders for the rest of my natural born life somehow makes me deserving of their approval. What am I even doing on this earth? How dare I breathe the same air you and your diploma do. 

YAWN.

Let's back it up. I was never a kid that excelled from sitting through lectures in school. I need to get my hands dirty and I need to make mistakes and learn things myself. If I am ever eager to learn something, I'll ask questions or I'll just research it myself. My parents will fully vouch for me.

I don't believe it's necessary to have a college degree to score a job that you're completely passionate about. You'll learn the skills one way or another. College isn't the ONLY means to an education. I mean, unless it's something like healthcare and you want to become a doctor and slice people open; I'd prefer you take some courses before you dig into me with a knife, but you know what I mean. 

Story time. When I was interviewing for my last job as a Tech Support Specialist, I had to do an interview + a written HTML test.  After completing it, my former boss was surprised at how well I did saying I even did better than the people who RUN the tech department.  "There's no college degree on your resume, how did you learn HTML so well?" I smiled, "Myspace." I taught myself when I was younger. It fascinated me and I eventually learned how to read it. Simple as that.

I've had STRANGERS attempt to half ass lecture me on how I'm not ever going to have a job to support a family without a college education. "I have my Master's in Mind Ya Business." It's like when people say I won't ever be able to get a respectable job with tattoos. I'm sorry, what year do you live in?! 

I'm not saying going to college is wrong. Absolutely not. If you excel in school, by all means go. Never stop learning. But, I do believe there are some people in this world who don't excel by sitting in a classroom for 4 years and that really needs to be acknowledged. I have applied for jobs that say "Bachelors Degree Required" at the bottom and still got a call back. If I go into a job interview and have all of the capable skills required for the position, the skills, the drive, the attitude, the experience... and they don't hire me based solely on the fact that I don't have a degree with my name on it, well then I don't really want to work for a company like that anyways. nahhhh bye.

I'm 25 going on 26 and I never chose that ivy league path and THAT'S OKAY. Don't feel like less of a citizen because you didn't study your art at an institution. Some people learn differently. It doesn't make either party smarter than the other. It's almost 2016, I think parents need to wake up and smell the fact that going to college isn't everything. It is possible to be completely successful with or without it. 

I Don't Have Many Girlfriends.

I've never been one to be in a girl clique. A constant group text of together-ness, nail appointments and slumber parties. Some might find that surprising considering the vast number of girls who follow this blog. But, internet friends aside, when we're talking about real life, it's true.

Growing up I always had a constant best friend, 1 girlfriend who was my side kick and we'd be together every weekend if we could. I mostly hung out with the boys because they were simple, they didn't mind playing in the dirt and they got my jokes. In elementary school I had one best girl friend, junior high I had a few, and in high school I had one for about 10 years straight. Besides those select few, I was always the friend who was the "floater." I'd like to think I'm pretty easy to get along with and I am definitely not shy when it comes to meeting new people and fitting in with my surroundings; I admire myself for that. But, planning girls nights out and having weekend getaways in Palm Springs was never something that I've ever wanted to do. That was okay with me. 

It wasn't until after high school when my sister got married that I started feeling like "Okay, maybe something is wrong with me." Nothing personal against my sister, her and I are just complete opposites but being constantly surrounded by it when I was little I figured that's how every girl should be. She has had the same group of girlfriends since elementary school and here I was, 17 years old trying to plan her bachelorette party with all of her friends realizing, "Who the heck would I have in my wedding? I don't even KNOW that many girls, let alone ones I'm that close with."  

Some girls are wired to have a lot of girlfriends, but some are wired to only have a few select close ones. Some say it has to do with being an extrovert or an introvert but I don't really think that's true. Some girls really connect with other women; that girl bond is sacred to them and is vital in their life. They treasure it. It's a community. Others, like myself, are more wired for an intimate connection with maybe one or two girlfriends perhaps, but even more so in a relationship with a guy. That is just a more comfortable connection. (Just choose them wisely) What I've learned? Both ways are OKAY. There is nothing wrong with either party.

I get messages sometimes asking why I don't post photos on Instagram of me "out with the girlfriends" and I, like I have been my whole life, get immediately judged for it. Assuming that I don't have many friends in real life and maybe I just fake my personality for my internet persona. I gotta be honest, that sounds like a lot of work. Ain't nobody got time for that, haha. Also for the record, just because someone doesn't post a photo of them doing something, doesn't mean it never actually happened. Oh internet...

My point is, we shouldn't be judging other girls based on whether or not they have a group of girlfriends or not. We should be on each other's team, not acting like there are two different teams. There are no sides, there is no right or wrong. We are wired different for a reason, so we can learn from one another. Let's focus on that instead. 

I wanted to write this post for all of the girls who are like me, to tell you that there's nothing wrong with you and you aren't defective. I've learned to love the way I am and you should too. 

Girl clique or not, I consider all of you my friends and I wouldn't have it any other way. *group hug*

How To Make Your Home Look Better.

I'm gonna keep this short and sweet; straight to the point. So, if you follow me or Spencer on social media, you'll know he's been selling some signed prints to you guys just in the last few weeks. Blown away by the overwhelming response he received, he amped it up a bit to give you guys more options! 

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.38.33 AM.png

You can now choose a size & material on any print you want whether it be lustre grade photo paper, metal (wall mount included) or wrapped canvas. If you purchase one he's taken of me, I'll be sitting down and personally signing each photo with a little love note for ya. I love connecting with you guys cause you know, we're really good friends by now. 

You're gonna want these images hanging in your home, I already have too many to count in mine. ;) 

Prints start as low as $25 and go up as you size up. You don't need to break the bank in order to support local artists; we're not here to rob you. I sincerely believe you all need one of his art pieces in your living room. Undeniable talent. Do yourself a favor.

Anyways, I felt the need to write a small blog and completely gush about my boyfriend's killer talents. He's gonna go so far and I can't wait to take this journey with him.


Follow us on Instagram if you don't already, we're always announcing fun little things. :)

Me: @girrlscout // Spencer: @deejaybm

I want to thank everyone who has supported us as a team throughout this kick ass blogging journey. We read every comment, every tagged post and every email. Ugh, we are so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people. Our hearts are full. 

Happy Hump Day, we love you! 

 

How To Deal With Negative Messages

I've been wanting to do a post on this for awhile now and being only 5'5" I have a lot stored up inside me that I just need to unleash. So, I'm sorry? You're welcome? You can decide at the end. I'm just going to vomit what I've learned all over this site because it's mine, mwahaha. 

I get asked a lot about how I deal with negative messages/comments/people and it's time I just spill out a fair answer. There's only so many words you can say when responding to emails and Tumblr messages from your phone while you're out and about to really feel like you've comforted someone, but I always try my best. Dealing with negativity is more of an art form; something that takes time and you need to train your brain. No, I did not mean for that to come out like Dr. Seuss, this is awkward. Unfortunately negative people will always exist, there's nothing anyone can do about that. They are here to challenge us, people.

www.chriskphotos.com

www.chriskphotos.com

One thing I have learned in the social media world is that outwardly responding and publicly posting negative messages can be a good OR bad thing. It's all about selection. For example: Sometimes I will receive a "hate mail" message that is frankly too funny and too inaccurate not to post because let's be honest, ignorant people are hilarious, liiiike "You think you own the rights to having an undercut, you didn't invent it!" God damnit they obviously figured me out...  But if I receive a message that is literally straight up "You suck", "I don't like you", "I think you're fake", why on earth would I give you air time on MY blog? Nah, man. Delete. 

I feel like the people who shell out negative comments are 1) looking for attention, obviously not caring if it's positive OR negative and 2) are struggling with something that's deeper than they want to admit, whether it has to do with you personally or not. For whatever reason, putting someone down makes them feel better. Which I will never understand, but that's beside the point. 

It's all about how you respond, which more often than not means not responding at all. They want you to post these messages, they want to get a rise out of you and they like to see you squirm. If you don't respond, they have no fuel to their fire to send you another. That's just my logic. Especially if it's coming from someone who knows you personally because no matter how you respond, pleasant or not pleasant, they're clearly not in the right state of mind to accept anything you have to say with the right heart. You learn over time to pick and choose your battles, what to post and what not to post and what is considered constructive criticism and what is straight up "that sounds like a fucking personal problem, dude." 

www.chriskphotos.com

www.chriskphotos.com

You were not put on this earth to please everybody. You cannot change how people feel about you but you do have total control on how you handle it and how you don't stoop to their level. People can poke the bear all they want but don't ever give them the satisfaction that they made any sort of impact on your life - they don't deserve it. You betta' than that, man. I think you're stellar. 

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.
— Dita Von Teese

With love,

Girrlscout

P.S. Please send all hate mail to the following address (and write this out carefully):

666 What Am I Doing With My Life

I Should Re-Evaluate, CA 69420

Fashion Blogger Assumptions

Being a "fashion blogger" people tend to assume you're all about dresses/rompers with thigh high socks, 24 necklaces at one time, as many rings as Johnny Depp, garter belts, and platforms. While that might work for some girls every day, that just isn't what I've ever been about. Sure, dressing up and feeling sexy sometimes makes me a happy little clam, but so does having your favorite jeans and tee fit perfectly out of the dryer... throw on a hat and Vans and you're feeling like a solid 10. I can do both and feel great.

Truth be told I'm most happy in the most simplest of outfits. Which then forms the frequent question, "why be a fashion blogger?" Well fuck, why not? Just because I don't enjoy jingle jangling down the street carrying tons of trinkets doesn't mean I'm not into fashion. I know girls that thrive off of that shit, and that's okay too. You should always do you!

I grew up as a little tom boy: high top Converse, camouflage pants and every single lion king t-shirt you could imagine. I had dresses but I only liked them with my cowboy boots or when I had to dress up for a holiday or family function. I danced to the beat of my own drum I guess you would say.

The last situation I want to put myself in is having to adjust my outfit 30 times in one night because I thought too hard about making a statement and just ended up looking uncomfortable the whole time. You gotta stick true to yourself. 

You don't need to go above and beyond with fashion in order to be a "fashionista"... I feel like that just happens to be the ones who blog about it these days. The big Jeffrey Campbell 6" platforms with the high waisted shorts and crop tops. It looks killer in photographs but more often than not, I feel like that's not what they wear on an every day basis. It could be for some, I have no idea, this is just my assumption.

But I personally feel like fashion blogging is about sharing relatable, affordable fashion tips, tricks and every day outfits. Things everyone can afford. It irks me when I'm on a blog and think "Ugh I love this outfit but there's no way I can afford your $300 shoes and $500 Free People dress" *shrug* That's just my perspective on the situation. 

The point I'm trying to drive home is don't feel pressured by some of today's fashion bloggers who like to go above and beyond with their style - that's the way THEY express themselves and that's great. But that doesn't mean you need to make yourself uncomfortable in order to "get on their level".

You're on YOUR level and that's fucking great too. 


Photos by: Baldwin Media Photography

Acid Wash crop top: Desert Rose Apparel

Boyfriend Jeans: Forever 21

Backwards snapback hat: Forever 21 Mens 

Custom Flannel: 1994 Brand

Blogger Life: Social Media Marketing pt. 2

This is where the fun stuff is. 

Going along with what I mentioned in pt. 1, knowing your audience and who you want to reach out to is important when marketing yourself. For obvious reasons. 

Put yourself first though, don't try and fit and conform to what you think will get you more followers, stay true to yourself. Sure I like posting outfits, random good-makeup days but I also like to post photos when I'm out adventuring. Spice it up and make it personal every once in awhile. I have no shame connecting with my followers on that raw level. I'm human too. 

Different social media platforms have very different rules when it comes to marketing yourself. 

Instagram: Hashtags do nothing, unless you're hosting a giveaway or promoting a company who asks you to use certain tags, I rarely use them at all. This is just what I've found to be true over time. Also, posting too many photos a day can be excessive, you don't want to clutter up your follower's feed. Keep them wanting more and make each post something different. Post what you love and whatever you want, just don't go overboard and piss everyone off, haha. Also, stay active with your followers, comment every once in awhile and like photos you like. If I only post one photo in a day that doesn't mean I wasn't online multiple times. Make yourself known and spread love. Everyone loves to be loved. 

TumblrHashtags are your friend. I find myself making sure every photo/text I personally post is tagged with at least SOMETHING. I use hashtags when searching tumblr so naturally, others do too. There's no way you'd see me caught dead doing #girlswithtattoos on Instagram, but Tumblr it's a must. (Although THIS is how my photos get stolen and end up on Buzzfeed, but... what can you do, it's the internet) Also, contrary to Instagram rules, posting a lot is a good thing. You can either set up a queue which is what I used to do, but now I just find myself browsing and posting whenever I get a free moment during work or at night. That way, when you see me posting a lot at once, you'll know I'm currently on my computer or phone and it's an opportune time to shoot me a message if you want a prompt response. Also, same goes with making yourself known. Comment on peoples posts, be active and have conversations with followers. Spread love. #themoreyouknow

Twitter: Hashtags are also your friend, although I don't use them as much. I tend to tweet quotes I love and/or random shit that happens during my day. It's my go-to outlet for thoughts that pop into my head and I need to write them down before I forget them. I don't really have a filter when it comes to Twitter. I also find that linking Instagram photos to Twitter when you post them is a little annoying... if there's a photo you want me to see on Twitter, upload it, don't make me click a link. Maybe this is just me being me, I like to keep those two platforms separate. Sue me, haha. Sometimes I do this anyways when I'm promoting something, but mostly I try to avoid it.

YouTubeI just recently dove into the world of youtube and it's hard. I told myself in the beginning that I wouldn't make a youtube account. I'm not a makeup artist or hairstylist so naive me didn't really see the point. I kept getting messages asking me to start making videos until I finally gave in. It started off rough, I think my first video was literally filmed on my iPhone. But I slowly upgraded the more I got into it and I think it really has helped me grow.  People like to SEE you and what you sound like and how you speak. As creepy as that sounds, it's true. I'm glad I started it halfway through my blogger lifespan though, I will admit that. This isn't something you HAVE to do as a blogger, but it does help.

Facebook: I actually don't really like Facebook these days. I use it 99% to repost funny videos and repost links when I publish these blogs. As far as promoting myself goes, I don't really use Facebook as a main outlet. It's mostly personal and I very rarely accept friend requests from followers. I do know bloggers that have a fan page, which is totally fine, I just feel like it's not something I personally would want to keep up with. Personal preferences. 


When I first started this blog, I told myself "I'm gonna do 3 posts a week, monday wednesday friday." Well fuck, that was ambitious. I kept up with that cycle for about 2-3 weeks surprisingly until it became too much. Especially while having a life and a full time job, I learned quickly not to set that bar too high for myself and just go at my own pace. I will admit it was good in the beginning to have a good handful of posts published so that it wasn't totally barren for awhile. It was good to have a lot of material for people to read while I was still writing newer entries. So I can't say it was a total mistake. 

Right now I think I'm down to 2-3 posts a month, which works for me. Everyone is different. I'm sure if I didn't have such a busy life or maybe could afford to have a part time job I would blog a hell of a lot more often, but alas, California and their damn living expenses will be the death of me. I have to work. 

Don't feel pressured to post a lot or often. Do what works best for you and the steady subscribers will still follow you. If anyone expects you to shell out top notch blogs several times a week... they fucking crazy. Just relax, breathe and write. 

Make sure you have fun with the process of creating your "brand" and putting yourself out there. Know that not everybody will like you and that's okay. You're here to express yourself, not to be a people pleaser. Don't take anyone's shit and just focus on doing what makes you happy.

This all has been a huge learning experience for me and I don't regret the journey along the way. I'm still growing every single day and I like it that way. That rhymed. If this is something you want to get into, I encourage you to dive in. I'm all for girls helping girls. We're all in this together. 

All the best and good luck,

Girrlscout

P.S. I don't say this enough but I love you guys and I really appreciate all the love and support I've received since day one. Our love is the real thing, baby. 

Blogger Life: Honesty pt. 1

I receive emails every once in awhile from girls that are wanting to dive into the blogging world and are needing some guidance or more so, "where do I start?" I asked myself that same thing less than a year ago when I started this site. No shame. Everybody starts somewhere. I reached out to bloggers when I first started who helped me tremendously get a leg up on what to do. Find a name, a platform and run. The physical aspect of creating a blog is the easy part, it's deciding what type of blogger you want to be is what's difficult.

The thing you gotta know about fashion bloggers is that there are 2 different kinds. (in my opinion) You'll know the difference when you see their Instagram profiles or their websites. There's the clean cut fashion straight-to-the-point people. "Here's my outfit, where I got it, how much it was." Clean crisp photographs, often very colorful and bright. Their Instagram pages are seamless and pore-less but they stray from posting every-day photos from their life and they like to keep personal things separate. Professional. (which is okay!) Then there's the bloggers, like myself, who mix the two, have clean cut photos sometimes, but more often then not our blogs are filled with things OUTSIDE of fashion.

You'll see an outfit that I blogged about but you'll also see that I got donuts with Spencer at 1:00am just because we can. (which is also okay!) 

Finding out which type of blogger you are will be a decision you'll need to make in the beginning as it greatly determines your type of audience as well.

Who to promote towards, etc etc. 


People often assume that I just don't ever need to buy clothes anymore or that I get paid for posts. While this is possible, this isn't my end goal. I didn't become a blogger to obtain free products and don't you go becoming one either.

I understand people assume and put two and two together when I post about a product I love and include a coupon code at the bottom which results in an epic eye roll of "Who knows if this product is even good, she just wants to get paid." I will never promote a product that I personally didn't love and use. I just ain't about that. Too mean.

I understand some reviews are contracted and needed within a certain time frame but if I didn't like the product, I'm gonna tell you and I'm gonna tell you why. Simple as that. Always be honest with your viewers, they dig that. I dig that. One big happy family.


Stay true to yourself when it comes to becoming a blogger. Don't lose yourself in the hype of "free shit" and making a name for yourself. Always stay grounded, that would be my main advice for anyone wanting to delve into the blogging world.

It makes me a sad panda when girls ask me for advice and I respond to them genuinely only to find the blog they created weeks later looks identical to mine. I'm not a toddler stomping my feet on the ground like "you copied me", I'm more upset because I now have NO idea WHO YOU ARE. This doesn't show me anything about you. You follow bloggers because you like who they are, what they stand for, how they think and how they positively influence your life. If I don't know who you truly are because you're just trying to be like someone else, I get lost. I want to connect to YOU.

The blogging world is all about making a connection. Relating to people and saying what others are also trying to say but they can't find the words. So, sure I will blog about my favorite summer dress, pair of boots, etc etc. But I will also blog about living with anxiety, my relationship, my past and what I've learned from it and any other weird shit I feel would be useful to anyone reading. Find what motivates you and what you're passionate about and start from there. If you're really into makeup, dive into the YouTube world and blog about your favorite makeup products.. If you're a fashionista, create a blog, put outfits together, reach out to companies and run with it.. 

*Marketing is also an important factor when it comes to spreading the word about your blog. I feel like this entire subject will need it's own post as I'm the biggest nerd about it and I love it so much. So for that, I'll say "Coming soon... How To Market Yourself As A Blogger: Pt. 2"

Bottom line: Don't get discouraged in the beginning, I think I went a solid month with 8 viewers when I started... this isn't something that grows into an empire overnight. Keep blogging no matter who is reading and don't give up. 

This isn't a competition and I will never withhold advice on how to create a successful blog. If you're sitting there thinking "I wish I could do something like this" - Do it. 

I like who you are and I guarantee others will too.

All the best, 

Girrlscout

So this is twenty-five.

Today is my birthday.

I remember thinking when I was in high school, "Holy shit, in the year 2015 I'll be turning 25 years old. I wonder what I'll be up to." and here I am. yes here we are, twenty five, you smug bastard. I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

I've noticed that the older I get, the more I analyze my birthday, you know..  what I've learned, what things I should change, what I want to accomplish in the year to come... adult things... but I like that about myself. Thinking back to even a year ago I feel like I was a completely different person. no, i definitely was. I didn't even start this blog until I was halfway into being 24. I started new opportunities with my job, I got my own place, I met the love of my life, booked some amazing photo shoots, made so many friendships and bettered myself by learning from my past. Who wouldn't be grateful for those things?


My better half surprised me with an early birthday gift last weekend and I am still freaking out over it. The man tracked down a Polaroid Land Camera (my dream camera since i was 15 years old) and had a friend restore it. I am far too lucky to have him in my life. I think I've gone through almost 3 packs of film so far and it's been, what? 6 days. Ha. 

He knows me better than I know myself sometimes. I love you Spence.

So get ready to start seeing some film shots on my blog from now on. I'm sure you'll be okay with it, and if not, too bad. Doin' it anyways. ;) suck it.


#throwbackthursday

There's a lot I'm looking forward to in year 25, but most of all I'm just excited to live. I'm excited to explore and make so many memories and grow. I'm adult-ing so hard right now... make it stop, ew.

Thank you to all of my followers; all the friends I've gained along the way since I started this journey. So grateful for every single one of you. I'm excited for all the things I have to share with you. I hope you are too.

Sincerely,

The Birthday Girl

Instagram Q&A

I've been getting the constant request to do a video for some time now. While I'd consider myself an outgoing and loud personality, when you slap a camera in front of me - I freeze up. I'm not a YouTube personality by any means and I applaud the girls that are and do it well, it's hard, I'd have to have a few drinks first to become comfortable. Just being honest. All of my videos would be me having a cocktail or a beer in my hand and I'm not sure I'd be giving off the right impression, hahaha. But, being that I'm dating an extremely talented videographer I figured 'why not please the people' and at least TRY to make this something. 

I reached out to my Instagram followers a little over a week ago to submit questions they wanted me to answer for them. To my surprise, I got an overwhelming response! blushing big time over here, thank you guys. So I picked a few of my favorites and spent a Sunday morning on my couch with some cinnamon tea and hashed it out for you. I'm sure it's much easier to talk into a camera with nobody else in the room, as it's much easier to take selfies when nobody is watching as well.. but I did my best. 

Spencer sat behind the camera and I used him as a comfort crutch the entire time. There's some jokes, laughter, and crying involved in my 8 minute film debut.. as well as my constant resting bitch face. solid, michelle. aces. I'm a big dork. But hey, I like it, it's 100% me and it's 100% real. 

Thank you to my love for making it look so pretty and so polished, you have a serious talent and I am lucky to have you in my life. 

I hope you all enjoy.



One Hundred & Eighty Three Days

Spencer,

This is going to be a post that is written over a number of days in a number of places because life gets crazy and when thoughts hit me, I need to write them down. Especially when they're about you.


Location #1: My living room floor, in your sweatpants, Fri, Jan 23rd, 3:15pm.

We're leaving for Hawaii in less than 24 hours. i should probably be packing for Hawaii right now but fuck it. But it hit me, 6 months? Feels like 6 years. i mean that in the best way possible. I'm not really one for celebrating month-aversaries but since we are in Hawaii and I'm a sucker for writing about you, I figured why not.  I haven't seen you since Monday morning right before you left for work and I'm aching. But we are about to spend 10 days of pure paradise together and I cannot fucking wait. You truly are my best friend. You make me forget about the shitty times and all those cloudy thoughts that my past produced. You make me feel safe. 

Sometimes home isn’t four walls, It’s two eyes and a heartbeat.
— Unknown

Location #2: In Hawaii, lying in bed, you're in the shower. Sun, Jan 26. 4:11pm.

Tried a new face product before we left on vacation and it made me break out. We came back from a hike and I had a moment of "blah" about my face and you could tell something was up. I told you what was wrong and you walked over to me and kissed me on the side of the head and said "you're the prettiest girl in the world." 

You have no idea how much these moments mean to me. 


Location #3: In Hawaii, you're stocking your cameras with film, and I'm sitting on the bed. Sun, Jan 26, 9:16pm

Today was our first day in Hawaii. Not our first getaway together, it's been awhile since we've had a solid one, one that wasn't just one night. Usually people are nervous about going away, especially in the "beginning" of a relationship, some just wouldn't take the risk. I'm glad we did, even though i saw no risk. It feels so good to BE with you with no distractions, no stress-related work issues and no responsibilities other than to explore, relax and have fun. So far so fucking good. You seriously make me feel on top of the world. *end cliche rant

sorry mom

sorry mom

Location #4: In Hawaii, curled up in bed, you're outside talking with my brother. Wed, Jan. 28, 9:28pm

I think every day you impress me more and more. Which is something my mother told me as well. which is a huge deal if you didn't know. Six months into a relationship and you choose to embark on a 10-day vacation with me and my crazy insane family. Takes nuts. I'm not even sure you know how grateful I am that you're here with me. It would have been empty feeling without you. I already experienced Germany without you and my glass was definitely half empty. I think that's when you know shit just got real.. when you don't want to experience traveling without that one person because it wouldn't feel right. You need that sidekick. You need that other half to experience it with you. You are that. You are everything. 

I'm so excited for what is to come, our future together and the experiences we will share. I'm even excited for the disagreements and the hard times. Feeling confident and solid in a relationship is something I haven't felt until you. I love you so much and I'm not going anywhere; I'm all in. All my chips are in and I feel like I've already won. 

Love,

buttmunch



My Queen,

I've never been one for monthiverseries. Or even bi annual celebrations. But we are in Hawaii and it did seem to be very important to you. And something about when you get all gitty and excited about stuff makes me gitty and excited too.

Over the past year and a half or so I've worked really hard on bettering myself and being as independent as I can be. Not letting anyone else dictate my life or the choices I make. Doing things for myself and being confident in my life's path. Before I met you I had developed the notion that relationships and girls were a distraction and ultimately crippling to my master plan of success and happiness. I guess most of my experiences with relationships in the past had influenced this notion.

I knew that I was miserable. I was angry and bitter and I was alright with that. Because if I was cynical and pessimistic, no one could hurt me. No one could tell me anything that would make my outlook on life and the people around me any worse. If I convinced myself that everyone sucked, no one could disappoint me or let me down. Yes, this mentality is just as poisonous and miserable as it sounds. But I had already been hurt so many consecutive times that I had all but given up. And I was alright with it. I was alone and doing just fine. I was living the selfish and lonely life I wanted to live and it felt good.

Then you came prancing into my life with your glowing happiness and irresistible smile. You had suffered through much worse betrayal and still found a way to be positive and inspiring. To see the best in people. To give people a second chance and find forgiveness. And I knew that I had to stick by you. I had to learn and be inspired. You had brought a new light to my very dark world and I had forgotten what bliss that could be. And I had to know what we could be. Where this new found light could take me.

So here we are. Sitting on a bed in your brother's guest bedroom in their beautiful beachside home. Finding adventures in a place most only dream of visiting. And each day I'm finding new reasons for fall in love with you all over again. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be waltzing around Oahu with a girl like you I would have laughed in their face.

Today I am grateful. I am humbled. And I am happy. And I could not have done it without you. So thank you. You have been my the butter to my toast for 6 months now, but it feels like I've known you my whole life. So heres to the next 6 months, and the many years to come. 

 

We're goin' places and we're goin' there fast.