Year In Review: What I Achieved in 2017

2017 has been one heck of a year...
  • The Women's March, Trump, and neo-Nazis in my tiny town.
  • Health dilemmas and panic attacks. 
  • Getting a tattoo!
  • Traveling to Florida to see my friends and New York to meet Ethical Writers & Creatives members.
  • Joining a women's ensemble and singing in a beautiful wedding. 
  • Working with lots of cool brands.
  • Going full time at work.
  • Quiet moments and coffee dates with friends.
  • Celebrating 7 years of marriage.
  • Turning 29.

This year has been hard, but it's helped me understand that you can find a groundedness deep inside yourself when everything around you is falling apart. I feel better in my own skin - maybe more realistic - and I'm starting to live more unapologetically. It's been a growing year, and I am thankful for that. 

Before I make new resolutions, I want to go back over 2017's Goals with you all and let you know where I am.


Small Ones
Rekindle my love for creative movement.

While I didn't start up dance classes, I did join a women's vocal ensemble, and that's been really lovely. I've made new friends, gained a ton of confidence in my vocal ability, and found a refuge in the form of weekly rehearsals.

Take photography more seriously.

I did ok on this! I remembered to bring my camera with me more often, which is why I decided to buy a new (refurbished) one. My old Canon Rebel XS was just too clunky. I upgraded to a gently used Fuji XT10 Mirrorless and it's been very helpful for both blog photography (the portrait settings are really helpful when you're using a remote) and lifestyle/portraits. I was also commissioned to do two portrait sessions.

Give up coffee, at least for awhile.

I tried this for a few months, but ultimately went back to having about 10 ounces of coffee in the mornings. Still an overall reduction in caffeine.

Eat all vegetarian except for on special occasions.

This failed, because my nutrition got way off balance and I became chronically ill at the beginning of the year. I still eat vegetarian at home and for lunches, but I will eat meat on occasion. This is a small step forward that is meaningful for me, and I learned a lot about animal ethics and my own personal needs through the experiment.

Big Ones
Make a part time income on freelance writing and ethical brand collaborations.

This one was a big success for me! I was able to make about $500 a month between blogging and freelance work this year, which meant I was able to build my savings account for the first time in years! Becoming more confident as a freelancer also helped me leverage a move to full time at work.

Take a leap of faith and get the chops to go where I feel called.

Drumroll please...So, I'm in the beginning processes of becoming a priest/pastor in the Episcopal church. Things are very early stage and I will be exploring my sense of calling over the next year or so before moving onto the next step, but it feels good to be making moves toward something I've been feeling called to for years and years.

P.S. I also fulfilled two resolutions from 2014: get a tattoo and publish an article (I've published several articles since then, but this one was really important to me)
A lot of life happened this year, and some of the goals I made no longer felt important as time went on. But I'm satisfied with where I am professionally and, if I try to live one day at a time, I'm fine on a personal level, too.

I'll share my new year's Blogging Goals tomorrow!

Inward and Outward: A Pre-Inauguration Reflection

I wrote this piece for the Numi Organic Tea blog as a Resolutions Post, but I thought it was appropriate to post here, on the eve of the Inauguration. Though it's always been important to be vigilant protectors and defenders of justice, the rate at which things could take a turn for the worse feel overwhelming. This post represents my first step, but the work isn't done.


As I sit here staring at this bright, blank page before me, I consider what it looks like to start fresh.

In life, we don't often get a blank page to work from - we all have baggage and commitments from our past that we carry forward - but I think it's right to get ourselves in a head space that allows us to imagine new and better lives for ourselves, and for the world.

As author Barbara Kingsolver once said, "Hope is a moral imperative." At the start of a new year, we collectively determine to hope so that we can make progress.

Too often, though, the resolutions we make feel like a collection of chores predetermined for us by the masses. Eat well, exercise, go to bed on time. While all of these may be admirable, for me they just aren't meaty enough to propel me forward. This year, I want more.

My hope for 2017 and beyond  is that I develop the kind of habits that lead to seeing the world through the eyes of kindness and justice. 

When I started writing on justice issues, my particular focus was on making more ethical purchases. That meant avoiding sweatshop labor and prioritizing sustainable raw materials sourcing. Simple enough, right?

But the Catch-22 of thinking about and working toward justice is that everything is interconnected.

Depressed wages in developing nations are a direct result of political and economic decisions enacted by domestic and foreign governments. The fact that demand still exists for low wage jobs is due, in part, to cataclysmic social shifts that force people out of now unsustainable agrarian lifestyles and into the cities. At each step in the supply chain, someone has been asked to cut costs even when there's nothing left to cut. It's an impossible race to the bottom. There are no winners.

Demanding fair wages is just a start. It won't fix broken systems.

I mention all this because it serves as a microcosm of the broader problem of having a pet issue without considering the big picture. But the big picture can be totally overwhelming. It can overload us to the point of shutting us down. What's the solution?

Put another way: How do I learn to see big problems in their even larger context and respond effectively and compassionately, without total overwhelm?

I believe the first step forward comes from within.

There are relatively immediate, physical lifestyle changes I can make in my life that will have a positive effect on the world. I can shop and eat sustainably and responsibly, for instance. But for long term change, you need buy in, and you only get there when you've changed your point of view, when you see the world through new eyes.

To that end, my resolutions for global change are deeply intertwined with the small, daily tasks of just being in the world. The key is being in a way that shapes you into the person that can effectively bring about long term progress. 

1. Practice humility. 

The first step is admitting that I don't have the complete picture, and maybe I never will. To be clear, I can learn from and trust my own interactions, but I can't necessarily make drastic conclusions based on my highly individualized experiences.

To cultivate humility, I will seek out communities that challenge what I think I know without dismissing me. My workplace is a dynamic and diverse environment, so I will start there, working to have productive conversations on politics and ethics around the lunch table.

2. Think local. 

The concept of social justice didn't really click for me until I joined a local community organizing group. When you work with people you live near, you already know what's at stake for your community. That relative intimacy helps you work through personal issues to find solutions. It reminds you that people - including yourself - are deeply flawed, but that imperfection is not a barrier to doing good.

To cultivate local engagement, I will stay in touch with people working toward systemic change in my own community.

3. Cultivate intention.

I manage a retail space, so on any given week, my life bumps up against the lives of at least a hundred people, from volunteers to staff to customers. I've realized over the last few years that each time I make eye contact with someone, I have a responsibility. I can make someone's day better or not affect it at all (hopefully, I never make it worse). I choose to do what I can to make it better. My shop recently committed to "see our customers as the unique people they are, and celebrate it." Imagine what a difference that could make if we clearly and intentionally projected that ideal. Imagine the hope.

To cultivate intention, I will consider the way I interact with every single person I come into contact with and do my best to celebrate them for who they are, and who they can be.


I want hope to become habit. 

And the only way to get there is to, slowly but surely, let my heart be changed. I know it won't be easy, but it's worth it for global change.

12 months, 12 goals: halfway there


Hey guys, I'm doing it. I'm achieving my goals! I was so discouraged a couple months ago when I wasn't achieving my ethics-minded resolutions on my one month timelines. Turns out that I was taking steps to meet my goals the whole time.

Since January, I've purchased most of my clothes and accessories secondhand (thredup is awesome), handmade (, or fair trade (Mata Traders). I've also explored my local fair trade and consignment shops, started shopping at more mindful grocery stores, and written an article on the state of the garment industry. And just today, I spread the word about fair trade in my community as part of World Fair Trade Day. As I move into the summer months and have a bit more time on my hands, I plan to organize and purge the house of clutter, as well as paint the bookshelves in our library. It'll be a good time to think about ethical options for home goods.

I'm learning that keeping this list in my mind is helping to push me toward more sustainable habits even if they don't happen on the neat timeline I set for myself in January.

  1. Learn to sew.

  2. Shop local.

  3. Shop handmade.

  4. Donate to a microloan organization.

  5. Invest in a fair trade garment.

  6. Write an article on the state of the garment industry.

  7. Explore more fair trade food options.

  8. Start a petition that demands manufacturing transparency.

  9. Spread the word about fair trade in my community.

  10. Shop secondhand.

  11. Accumulate less.

  12. Seek out ethical home goods. 

*Items in bold are additions to my original list.

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12 months, 12 goals

Style Wise is one year old! To celebrate, I'm rolling out a new series in which everyone can participate!

12 Months, 12 Goals is a year long challenge that breaks down ethical shopping goals into easier-to-manage, month long chunks. These challenges are emphasized during the month in which they are originally announced, but can continue throughout the year. The intent is to develop habits one-by-one that contribute to more ethical, sustainable living and to confront both unhealthy consumer habits and our broken retail system. By taking slow and thoughtful strides toward ethical and intentional living, I hope to develop lasting positive routines that benefit myself and others.

I'll announce a new challenge at the beginning of each month, then post on my progress at the start of the next month.

Goal 1: Shop secondhand.

For the month of January, my goal is to shop only secondhand. This is a fitting goal for the start of the year because it requires very little money and it's the surest way, at least in the short term, to ensure that my purchases are ethical and sustainable.

Potential goals for the following months include:

  • Learn to sew.

  • Shop local.

  • Shop handmade.

  • Donate to a microloan organization.

  • Invest in a fair trade garment.

  • Write an article on the state of the garment industry.

  • Explore more fair trade food options.

  • Start a petition that demands manufacturing transparency.

  • Spread the word about fair trade in my community.

We're better together, so let me know if you plan to get involved. Tailor your goals to your personal struggles and desires and let me know! I'd love to link up with you.

While you're at it, grab a button for your blog:

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