This Just In – Shop Now Open!

I'm so excited to announce the latest addition to the blog, my new shop! I created Sweet Maple Lane as another outlet to promote positive messaging and acceptance. Here we can stand together to fight insecurities and break down barriers.  This shop is run through Customized Girl, which allows you to add my designs to the products of your choice. There truly will be something for everyone here.  I will be uploading new designs as quickly as I create them so please check back frequently. You'll even notice that the proceeds from some designs will be donated to specific charities, helping us bring more awareness to those who need it. I know from experience that even the best of us need to be reminded of our worth, ...

Be the Person the World Will Admire

Last night, the world crowned a new Olympic golden girl in women’s gymnastics, Simone Biles, while the last "it" girl watched from the stands and showed very little emotional support for her teammates. Some might say the camera panned to Gabby Douglas and just happened to catch her in poor timing. Maybe during the rest of the competition she had been cheering as loudly as Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian, two other members of  the Final Five, and the camera crew just happened to catch her taking a break from the excitement (twice). Maybe. Sure. My video is better, but I can't post it. Or maybe, even two days later, she was still sour about losing the chance to defend her All-Around title to the other ...

An Open Letter to the Mother of a Newborn with Treacher Collins Syndrome

Last night, my cousin tagged me in a Facebook post about a newborn baby with Treacher Collins Syndrome.  When first finding out she was pregnant, the biological mother planned on giving her up for adoption.  A facial anomaly was unknown during the pregnancy and the mother simply couldn't handle a child at the time.  Adoptive parents were chosen and on the day of the birth, they waited at the hospital for their new baby to arrive.  Once she made her appearance into the world, the adoptive mother went to meet her new daughter, but quickly emerged from the room crying and left the hospital never to return.  Adopting a child with preexisting conditions requires certain approvals that this family hadn't obtained, nor had they known ...

I Lived…by scheduling a boudoir photo session

If you know me, you understand my connection to photography. When I studied abroad in Italy, I finally found my footing in the art world. Even though I had been a declared studio arts major for two years, I didn’t consider myself an artist until I found my niche behind the camera. There was just something about the streets of Florence that propelled me towards this form of raw composition. Ever since my six-month stint as a Florentine, I consider photography to be my art form of choice. I can stare at black and white prints for hours on end, intrigued by the honest subject matter. I’m drawn most to photojournalistic styles since they appear to capture natural moments in time while still telling stories. Last month ...

Coming Soon – It’s A…

I wish I could say I’ve been happy with every single choice I’ve made for my life, but that’s far from the truth. I tend to act spontaneously and think with my heart rather than my head. By doing so, I rarely pass up opportunities because they lead to personal growth. These snap decisions haven’t always led me to happiness, but I cannot regret a single misstep. To quote country singer Darius Rucker: Thank God for all I missed 'cause it led me here to this. For all the chances I took and the mistakes I made, they brought me to this very moment.  Had I not quit my stable job and moved to Massachusetts, I never would have started blogging. If I never started blogging, I never ...

I’m a Runner – That’s What I Do

I will not be trapped. I will not be kept in a cage because someone thinks it’s best for me. I need wide-open spaces for the chance to make my own mistakes and for the freedom to find myself. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I don’t let commitment back me in a corner. I’m the type of girl who can’t fathom breaking ties with the freedom she has been granted and I plot my escape route whenever I see commitment looming on the horizon. When it comes in for the attack, I swerve to avoid all contact and then run like hell in the opposite direction. That’s what happens when you spend all of your post-pubescent life as a unit of one. You become accustomed ...

Falling Into the Love-Drunk Abyss

It’s that time of year again when we are bombarded with romance. Hallmark tells us what to say; Hollywood tells us what to feel; and Russell Stover tells us what to eat. Once more I find myself loveless (but not lonely) on February 14. I don’t believe in celebrating love just one day a year. I’d rather find out that someone loves me on a random Tuesday in March instead. Being single or dateless on this particular date means that I can enjoy another peaceful day without worrying I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day all wrong. I don’t do romance. When it comes down to it, I’m just not that into it. I don’t act like the stereotypical girl. I do sports and art and power tools, but not ...

A new year means it’s time to be…selfish.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. There’s nothing like starting off a brand new year with a cliché, which is what I’m sure most of you are doing today (hello New Year’s resolutions!). Like many of you, I often quickly forget about these resolutions around, eh, January 2nd.  Instead of setting myself up for obvious failure, I’m opting to set a motto for 2016. 2016 - the year of me This is my chance to be absolutely, shamelessly selfish and focus first and foremost on myself. I grew tremendously in the last twelve months, but I’m eager to push my own personal boundaries even further. By focusing on myself, I make reaching my goals a priority. This will raise the quality of ...

Now it’s time to say good-bye (to 2015)

I find the passage of time mesmerizing yet astounding.  How could another year possibly have come and gone?  It seems like two weeks ago I was lying on my air mattress watching a New Year’s Day SVU marathon.  How did 365 days pass without my acknowledgment or acceptance?  I’m now another year older and, for the first time in a long time, another year wiser. If you’re anything like me, you are spending the final hours of 2015 reflecting on the last twelve months.  I’ve heard numerous people remark about what a terrible year it has been and that they’re happy to turn the page to a clean slate.  For me, 2015 has been the most satisfying year I have lived since I graduated college over ...

Santa, all I want this year

Every December for as long as I can remember, I’ve asked Santa (yes, I still believe) for one thing: love. This year, I’m switching it up and wishing for something a bit more substantial. Not that a boyfriend for Christmas would be a horrible gift to find under my tree, but peace on earth seems like a gift that would keep on giving. I can forfeit my adolescent wish of Mr. Dreamy for one year. And since I have a track record for never receiving that present in all the years I’ve asked, I figured maybe I should try requesting something else for once. Last week I watched a youth choir sing Let There Be Peace On Earth during the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas ...

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