year in review

My 7 Achievable Goals for the New Year

7 achievable ethical and intentional living goals stylewise-blog.com image by Leah Wise

Happy New Year!

Last year, I wrote a post on my 8 Achievable Goals for the New Year as an experiment. I had not, historically, lived up to my resolutions, either because they were too daunting or somewhat inane. But I really put some thought into it last January - and made sure to frame them as "achievable" - which resulted in fulfilling almost all of them, some to a higher standard than I anticipated.

Before I launch into this year's goals, I'll briefly go over last year's objectives:

Wear one weird thing everyday. 

This was part of a year-long effort to "get back" my personal style after feeling overwhelmed by sponsored products and social media "inspiration." I am so happy to say that it worked, and I feel a lot more comfortable in my clothes.

Throw more "crappy dinner parties."

This didn't happen really, but I did spend less time worrying about how clean my house was before letting people stop by, so that's something.

Dance more. 

I didn't dance more, but I sang A LOT more.

Streamline my work schedule. 

I totally failed on this one. Adding it in again this year.

Read 10+ books

Check!

Maintain a part time income through blog and freelance work.

Yes! I doubled my income over last year actually.

Learn the power of saying no to things that aren't right for me. 

I learned this the hard way, saying yes to some things that epically backfired. So I think I achieved this goal?

Write something and get it published. 

I wrote my e-book in a frenzy of inspiration earlier this year. I'm really proud of it and even met my financial goal for sales this year.

This year, I'm building on what I learned in 2018, but also setting some more mindful goals that help me pivot toward the life I really want to build for myself.

7 achievable ethical and intentional living goals stylewise-blog.com image by Leah Wise

My 7 Achievable Goals for 2019

1 | Stay off Instagram!

I wrote a post about quitting Instagram nearly a year ago, but it took a complete breakdown to get me to do it. I wasted countless hours, money (buying into giveaways), and energy trying to maintain a platform that I never really enjoyed. This year, I want to be firm with myself about staying away from the Instagram rat race even if that means reduced sponsorship opportunities on my blog (which it most certainly will).

2 | Go on two walks a month. 

An achievable goal, for sure, walking always clears my head and makes me appreciate my body.

3 | Do morning prayer every morning.

The Episcopal church follows the liturgical calendar, which means it has set Bible readings and prayers for each day. As a part of my discernment for ministry in the church, I am encouraged to maintain a daily mindfulness and prayer life. I am determined to get in the habit this year.

7 achievable ethical and intentional living goals stylewise-blog.com image by Leah Wise

My sister - this is from our New York trip in June

4 | Read 5+ books on social justice, civil rights, and/or lived theology. 

I feel a need to have a more robust understanding of theological and social justice frameworks. I'm planning on reading works by Walter Brueggemann, Martin Luther King Jr., Stanley Hauerwas, and Saul Alinsky, but would appreciate any suggestions, particularly books and essays written by people of color past and present who ground their work in religious practice.

5 | Boost my affiliate/passive income and make ~$500 a month on the blog. 

I am a little burnt out on the blogging rat race, but think that I am well situated to maintain high affiliate sales that will help me boost my savings account. I'm not going to try to make more money than last year because that really burned me out. But I want to continue to be strategic about monetization in a way that feels authentic and manageable.

6 | Value my friendships with women. 

Both IRL and online, I rely on the accountability and support of strong, intelligent women. This year, I want to be more intentional about cultivating my relationships with them, scheduling more phone calls, coffee dates, and excursions. They mean so much to me!

7 | Prioritize my mental health. 

I grew up in a household where mental illness and therapy were stigmatized. I am also very stubborn when it comes to admitting I need help, so I have gone several years and endured a number of obvious mental health breaks without seeking professional help. I had been telling myself my current issues all stemmed from August 12th, 2017 in Charlottesville, but over the last few weeks of winter break I've been tracing symptoms back several years and linking them to a series of relational traumas that occurred over the last fifteen years. Even typing this out makes me nervous, because I don't want to be beholden to this goal. But I think I need to seek out regular treatment. It's time to stop feeling ashamed that I'm "weak."

7 achievable ethical and intentional living goals stylewise-blog.com image by Leah Wise

Photos taken by me in 2018

Charity Update: In 2018, I donated a combined $420 to the ACLU and the Xerces Society for Pollinator Conservation

Year In Review | Top Ten StyleWise Posts Published This Year

top ethical fashion posts on stylewise in 2018 stylewise-blog.com

Yesterday's post was all about 2018's top performing posts in general.

Today's post is about the top performing posts written this year.

You can see that the posts that performed well this year are a little more varied in format and topic. Part of that has to do with the fact that posts that stay evergreen for years are more likely to be highly "pinnable" and answer a question in Google searches. I am always happy to see those posts performing well, but what's the fun of a blog without some personality? It's nice to see some reviews, personal style posts, and essays in the mix.

This year in blogging is such a blur. I worked on some wonderful freelance projects and sponsored posts with brands I love and have an ongoing relationship with. But the freelance life never gets easier - I think it's actually getting harder! And some days I feel like the old lady who doesn't have the advantage of being a "digital native" in a space full of incredibly savvy women.

When I'm down on myself, I try to remember that I am proud of what I've done, and it might not answer all the questions or pay all the bills, but it is enough.

StyleWise's Top 10 Posts Written in 2018


1 | 11 Ethical Brands That Are Better Than Madewell

2 | 6 Places To Buy Well Made, Ethical Basics For Women (& Men)

3 | Everlane Review: Cheeky Straight Jean

4 | Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Work Pants Review + Grab Bag Thoughts

5 | Is Everlane Ethical? Pragmatism, Scale, & Why Good On You Doesn't Tell The Full Story

6 | Inside An Ethical Wardrobe: Spring 2018

7 | Nordstrom's Surprisingly Good Sustainable Selection + My Picks

8 | Is Everlane Ethical? I Asked, They Answered

9 | 5 Places To Find Ethical Underwear (That's Not Lingerie)

10 | Gift Guide: The Ultimate List For Ethical & Sustainable Holiday Shopping

Year In Review | Top Ten Most Popular Ethical Fashion Posts of 2018

top ten ethical fashion posts of 2018 stylewise-blog.com Just when I think that blogging is too demanding, I look over my Analytics and heave a sigh of relief. 
Though some posts are situated firmly in current events, and therefore fade into the internet black hole in a few days, a number of them continue to carry weight year after year, providing a resource for people looking for sustainable options. I love that not only because it means that these posts were worth the time to put together, but because it means that the fast paced internet world they occupy isn't so overwhelming that it can swallow them up. Some things really do last!

I mention this because, as it turns out, almost all of my top ten most viewed posts this year are from last year. That just means they're gaining traction!

P.S. If you're interested in a particular subject or format for a post, you are always free to comment or email me and let me know!

Top Ten Ethical Fashion Posts of 2018












Reviews in Review: 2017 Edition

reviews in review 2017 edition
Some of you have asked if I would revisit some of my reviews to give you an idea of how I use (or if I still use) the things I've talked about on this blog.

That is a GREAT idea, because it helps me assess my own commitment to sustainability. I've decided to share several items that I have continued to use long after the review went live. I didn't list all items, because that would simply take too long. Instead, I'm featuring things that have proven to be real staples in my wardrobe.

This one will be extra long, as it's the first of its kind, but I will try to remember to do this once a year. (Also, sorry for the lack of updated photos. That would take WAY too long.)

If it's listed below, it means I use or wear it all the time and feel that it truly encapsulates my style and fits into my current wardrobe.

2014
Nomads Tunic
Eshakti Dress

2015
Greenheart Shop Crossbody
Synergy Organic Clothing Beatrice Dress
Hands Producing Hope Shalom Necklace

2016
United by Blue Avalon Tank
ABLE Tigist Crossbody
OESH Sandals
Abrazo Style Dress
Ash & Rose Essentials

2017*
Amalou Felted Bag
Sharon Z Silver Spear Earrings
Ember & Aura Moon Phases Necklace
Smockwalker Vintage Romper
Mawu Lolo Sandals
Soul Flower Leggings
Love Justly Kimono Jacket

*For 2017, I only included items I've already gotten a lot of use out of. Other items may make the cut in next year's review post after I've had more months to use them. 


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This exercise has shown me that I tend to be very confident about my taste in accessories and bags and a little less so with clothing. Still, over the last two years especially, I've gotten much better at selecting things that I know I'll continue to use. I also have quite a few thrifted items I've been wearing for 2+ years.

Let me know if you have questions about specific items I've reviewed that aren't listed here. You can peruse the Personal Style category to find more.

Year in Review: Reader Survey Results + Blog Goals

Blog Goals and Reader Survey Results 2017
The Package Free Shop in New York, taken on my July visit
Hey! Remember when I asked you all to take my annual Reader Survey?

Sorry for never updating you on the results of that. Know that I've been referring to your short answers regularly as I plan posts. I'll get into the details of that further down.

Reader Survey Results

The Basics:

Unsurprisingly, your favorite post categories are Personal Style, Essays, and Resources. 

Those happen to be my favorite categories, too, though maybe not in that order. I hope to use this info to format my Collaboration structure going into next year. While you all like Brand Spotlights (45.6%), they're not quite the hit that Resource Lists are, so I'm going to try to find creative ways to work with companies through formats that offer greater value for you.
To my utter delight, most of you prefer to communicate with me directly through my blog rather than on social media platforms. 

I've been feeling meh about Instagram for awhile now, so it's helpful to know that it's not as important as it seems. I'm going to continue to prioritize this space over Instagram, as I think it's more conducive to longer conversations and maintaining good mental and emotional health (for me, anyway).

Other Fun Facts:

  • Most of you are not interested in financial reports. 
  • 67% of readers who responded found me through other bloggers or blog networks. That's the power of networking and #collaborationovercompetition. 
  • 43% of you have been reading StyleWise for less than 6 months!

Your Budgets:

  • 60% of respondents expect to spend $51-100 on an article of ethical clothing.
  • 68% expect to spend $26-100 for new, ethical jewelry.
  • About 1/3 of respondents expect to spend $101-150 on new, ethical shoes, with 50% of others falling into the categories directly above and below that range.

Notable Short Answers:

(I've added links to posts I published in response to your suggestions and bolded other things that are done)
  • This is just personal preference but it might be worth putting read mores into your posts as that would make it easier to scroll back through your blog :) (Done)
  • Features on etsy shops would be great as sometimes the sheer number of choices is overwhelming. (See a post here)
  • Your opinions about women's issues. | Feminism! (See a post here)
  • I like the posts where you bring your Christianity in conversation with these sustainable and fair trade issues. I think those posts are what keep me here. What differentiates you from other bloggers, to me, is that your posts feel like they are searching and working through large questions. I admire that greatly. (See a post here)
  • Ethical materials/textiles, ethical give and take (I love when you talk about trying to be balanced, since there are many 'ethical' issues to consider, and not all brands check all the boxes) (See a post on textiles here. See a post on trying to be balanced here.)
  • More essays in general. Your strength is in your writing and I enjoy your longer essays on ethical living the most. (Thank you!)
  • How clothes maintain/wear over time, revisiting past purchases to review how you're liking them. | year-later follow ups on how you like that clothes you've featured (Coming soon)
  • My favorite post was the one on MLMs. I wish I were more eloquent to explain why. Maybe because it was an article that worded my existing opinion, so I just nodded to myself, agreeing with you as I read on.
  • Plus-size fair-trade fashion! (See a post here. I'm trying to offer more resources, but it can be hard to find plus size, ethical fashion! I am now listing size ranges on Shopping Guides, though)
  • Fashion for 50+ women

Phew! That was more thorough than intended. Thanks for continuing to read. 
Blog Goals and Reader Survey Results 2017

My main blog goals for 2018 are:

1. Continue to listen to readers and take requests.
(Comment or email me at stylewiseblog@gmail.com with your suggestions)

2. Collaborate with brands in the most useful ways.

3. Write candidly. Take risks.

4. Prioritize goods for everyday people and everyday use.

5. Feature more upcycled and secondhand goods.

6. Have fun and don't sweat the small stuff
(Get off of Instagram!)

Donations Results:

This year, I made $6,436 after expenses, so I donated $250 each to the ACLU and The Xerces Society, as promised.

I think that's about all I can reasonably fit in one post. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

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.

GOALS FOR 2017

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)
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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!

Year in Review: Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017

top ten ethical blog posts of 2017 stylewise-blog.com
Here they are: 2017's best performing blog posts according to Google Analytics. 

It's always good to look at this kind of data, because I think it indicates what people "need" when it comes to ethical fashion resources. I work hard on ethical brand roundup posts, so I'm happy to see those performing well. And, of course, my essays are really my babies, so proud to see a few of those here, too.

I'm surprised that my UNDP collaboration, I Was a Climate Change Denier, wasn't listed, though.

TOP 10 ETHICAL BLOG POSTS OF 2017

1. 6 Ethical Brands That Are Better Than Free People

2. Back to Basics: An Ethical Capsule Wardrobe

3. 5 Ethical Fashion Brands That Are Better Than Forever 21

4. 12 Ethical Alternatives to ModCloth

5. Why I Quit Being an Ethical Purist

6. 10 Ethical & Slow Living Bloggers You Need to Follow

7. 5 Misconceptions About Conscious Consumers

8. 13 Ethical Bras That Put Everyday Comfort First

9. Everlane Wide Leg Crop Pant Review

10. Let's Talk About the 'A' Word

top ten ethical blog posts of 2017 stylewise-blog.com

Year in Review + Ethical Resolutions

The time has come to say goodbye to this glorious, tumultuous year. 2015 was a weird one.

year in review

THIS YEAR...


I feel like I came into my own as a writer. I took risks, got rejected, and published a few articles and posts that I'm really proud of (see one, two, and three). I worked with some cool companies, met some cool people, and befriended lots of ethical bloggers who have helped me refine my voice and find the confidence to press on.

Working in an increasingly crowded space means there's always someone else doing it better. There's always a prettier face, a more approachable writer, a bigger success story. But I'm learning that that's ok, because there's only one me and I've got to believe that I have something to offer or there's no point at all.

I had intended to start writing a book this year, but I realized early on that I need more time to define myself as a writer, blogger, and conscious consumer. That's ok. Things will work out in time. I'm also considering more formal study, but we'll see what 2016 brings.

This year, I feel like a real, capable adult for the first time, well, ever. And I understand that my words and actions have weight, not only in this space, but in everyday life. I'm learning the exhausting work of practicing kindess and fostering empathy for everyone - acknowledging my privilege, stepping out of conversations I have no business being involved in, and listening, even when I don't like what I'm hearing.

This year I've been angrier, more humbled, more sure, and more emotionally exhausted than ever before and I hope that the ride has taught me something. It's hard to keep the faith in a world of near insurmountable tragedy, violence, and catastrophe. Things aren't ok and it's easy to toss up your hands and say, "What's the point of trying?" every time another person dies in a mass shooting, or a refugee is denied entry, or another human rights abuse is brought to light. But we press on, because there's nothing else we can do.


new year's resolutions

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE ARE MY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS:


1. Get a plan.


Figure out what I want to do in the long term and take intentional steps to get there. Ever since I graduated, I've been flailing around waiting to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I feel like I'm getting close to knowing, and it's time to just go for it.

2. Reduce my plastic and materials consumption.


I took a few steps to reduce my daily waste this year, but it's time to go all the way: bring my reusable bags to the grocery store, purchase reusable food storage bags, use what I have until it's gone, consider shampoo and soap bars over liquids that require plastic containers. I'm excited about this, because I know from switching to cloth pads and cotton rounds that it's really not hard!

3. Read more books.


I've got a big ol' stack of books waiting to be opened. All I need to do is make time to read them. From capitalism to theology, global manufacturing to quiet novels, I know that I need the knowledge and enrichment good books bring.

4. Write more articles on ethical living and theology.


I want to continue to pitch large publications and write better long form pieces for the blog, too. I have a list of post ideas and I just need to get started on them. If you have a question or a topic idea, let me know.

5. Integrate my values into everything I do.


I want to get better at reconciling my consumer ethics to my everyday behavior, and vice versa. It's all too easy to put things in boxes and fail to recognize the internal inconsistencies in my ethical outlook. I want to think harder about how my faith practices, political and social views, and moral perspectives play into one another.

6. Pare down.


It's time to get a grip on my "collecting" habit. I don't need to buy everything I like at the thrift shop. I don't need to keep my 11th grade notes. A few blank spaces on the wall never killed anyone. I have a tendency to buy and keep things just for the heck of it and I think it's time to say goodbye to a few things (responsibly, of course - I'll donate to local thrifts or sell on ebay).

7. Exercise like a responsible person.


I've spent all of my adult life justifying my near total lack of exercise. To be fair, I do work in retail, so I get more exercise than your average office worker just by going to work, but I'm starting to feel my age and I would like to start jogging, or at least power walking, 2-3 times a week.

8. Celebrate humanity.


Look for the good, in myself and others. Seek reconciliation. Always give others the benefit of the doubt. See my failures as normal, expected parts of being human. Know that being human is good enough (you know, but try to be a good human).

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I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on this year and the next one. What did you learn about yourself this year? What are you looking forward to?

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Check out my fellow Ethical Writers Co. members' Resolutions posts: