Farewell, Joan Rivers from Your #joanranger

Farewell Joan Rivers | ThoseGraces.com
The Details: Imaginary Voyage Cardgian (similar), Gap T-Shirt (similarsimilar), Target Sam & Libby Sandals

It’s been over a week since Joan Rivers passed away, and I still can’t believe it. I grew up watching Joan on “The Fashion Police.” I loved her biting humor and unapologetic take on the world. When I discovered her documentary, “A Piece of Work” on Netflix two or three years ago, I watched it. Obsessively. I couldn’t get enough of Joan and her honesty, something we so sadly lack in our culture at-large.

During the time Joan was in the hospital, I Googled her name probably a hundred times, waiting for an update. My mother, an LPN, warned me that she wouldn’t recover. I didn’t want to believe my mother, but given her knowledge, I came to accept that she was probably right.

Still, when I saw the news on Twitter, I didn’t want to believe it. In my mind, Joan was timeless. She was going to live forever. My mother rightfully joked that it was probably because no one had a clue how old she was due to all the plastic surgery.

The day after Joan died, I was sitting at my desk doing work. I put on my sequined cardigan, called “gaudy” by my boyfriend, making it the perfect tribute to a lady who knew no bounds.

(For the record, I also drowned my sorrows in a pint of ice cream, but the cardigan story worked better for this post.)

Help Jillian Raise Money for Past is Present Designs

My Little Sis | ThoseGraces.com

Two years ago, I wrote about my sister Jillian launching her business, Past is Present Designs on Etsy. She’s since expanded to a second Etsy shop, where she sells hand designed mugs. She’s also quickly becoming a cosplay superstar. To be honest, I don’t really know what it takes to become a cosplay superstar, but I think when people are photoshopping your images to make you look like a badass superhero, that that’s probably what it is. I don’t know, I grew up playing the Sims and all I know is that my little sister is really cool. And she’s raising money to expand her business!

Here’s a little bit from her Indiegogo campaign:

I pour months of hard work into my cosplays and have gotten a good amount of social media attention, including some from the creator of one of the characters. While this is helpful, it’s a little slow moving. I would like to build my reputation as a costumer and network with other cosplayers/artisans/companies, which will lead me to be able to offer more custom costumes in my Etsy shop and take on more commissions. The best way I see going about this is to get more exposure by going to more well-known conventions. Nothing like a little bit of guerrilla marketing to light the fire! (more)

My Sister Super Hero |ThoseGraces.com

Turns out expanding in the cosplay arena is quite expensive. I had no clue how costly Comic-Cons are until recently. Events can cost hundreds of dollars. Like most people in my family, Jillian is a self-made person and when she’s not working on her business, she’s teaching as a costume director at a high school. Needless to say, it’s easy to see how growing a business can be difficult. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.

My Sister Super Hero |ThoseGraces.com

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my sisters, which is why I’m sharing this campaign with you all. You can contribute anywhere from $1 to $200. There’s about a week left for Jillian to reach her goals. I know it would mean the world to her if she could get as close to $1,000 as possible. You can also share this post and her campaign as a way to help out.

You can also like Jillian’s business on Facebook, follow her on Tumblr and Twitter. You can also read this interview on the Word of the Nerd. And of course, you can contribute here

Update 9/12/2014
Jillian has reached $709 and let me know she had someone anonymous donate after reading this post (!!!). Thank you so very much for supporting my sister! I know it means to world to her. And to me, too.

Differently Employed: Lessons a Year After Quitting the 9 to 5

Lessons from Quitting the 9 to 5 | ThoseGraces.com

Last June I quit my 9 to 5 job and didn’t know quite what to expect. I’ve stumbled along the way, drifting in and out of the different income streams. Where I started is not where I am now, and I wanted to share about my journey of being “differently employed.”

Lesson 1: It’s OK to Change Your Mind

When I first started working for myself, I wanted to blog full-time. Shortly after I realized it wasn’t for me for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it wasn’t simulating, exciting or interactive enough. It essentially amounted to me sitting at my desk. A lot.

I don’t want to neglect the importance of money, so I want to be honest that blogging didn’t bring in a ton of income. Those Graces isn’t set up to make money because I thought it was too personal to be an advertising avenue. Realizing this, I relaunched my beauty blog, which felt more monetizable. But then I realized I didn’t really like writing about makeup, so Beauty Shy closed. (RIP)

After these challenges, I realized full-time blogging wasn’t quite for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s not part of my career strategy. It’s just a smaller part.

Lesson 2: Find a Career Counselor

One of the best things I did was to go to a career counselor. (If you’re in the Boston area, Phyllis Stein is amazing!) Quitting my job confused me in ways I didn’t anticipate. What should I do every day? What was a good at? And, most importantly, what did I really want to do? These are all questions I could’ve answered by myself, but it was so helpful to have someone to guide me along the way.

Not only that, but career counseling taught me that failure was OK. When I was having mixed feelings about blogging, I looked at it as a failure, whereas my career counselor encouraged me to look at as a learning the lesson. I was grateful I realized within three months that full-time blogging wasn’t for me because it allowed me to invest my energy elsewhere.

Lesson 3: Choose Your Clients Wisely

If you’re freelancing, you’ll likely working with various clients. Choose them wisely because they’re mini-bosses. If your project has an end date, maybe it doesn’t matter that your client is a micro-manager, but if it’s long-term, you’ll want to consider how well you click with them. This isn’t to say if the project isn’t going well that you can’t end it, but it makes it a lot easier if it goes well from the beginning.

Lesson 4: Set Some Sort of Schedule

It makes me feel good to have an idea of what I’m doing every day, even if it varies. In the mornings, I typically take time for myself by walking to go get coffee or exercising. After lunch, I usually work on whatever’s going on for Overdressed Me, whether it’s shipping items or putting up new listings in my shop. Usually by 2, I’m working on freelance projects until 6:30 or so. Then at night, I hang out with my boyfriend, run errands and go to events. Later at night, say from 11 until 2, I’m working on Overdressed Me.

Working late doesn’t work for everyone, which is why I think it’s important to experiment with different schedules. Don’t be afraid to switch it up. Some days I like to stay up working until 2 or 3 in the morning. Others I prefer to go to bed around 11 and wake up around 8. It all depends on what I’m feeling and when I feel most productive.

Lesson 5: Make Sure You Get Out of the House

The most challenging thing for me about working from home was the lack of daily socialization. I’m very talkative and genuinely love interacting with others. For me, the decrease in the number of people I saw every day was the hardest part about working for myself. To deal with this, I make sure I go to various meetups, hang out with friends and get outside. Though I definitely see less people, I feel like my interactions now are more meaningful and deeper than they used to be.

So those are my lessons after a year of quitting my 9 to 5! Would you ever work for yourself?

Young, Female and Silenced Online

Before we dive in, this isn’t a post about celebrities in the buff or Jennifer Lawrence. It’s about navigating the complicated world of the Internet and finding my place on it as a female. I used to think being silenced online wasn’t an issue that directly affected me. However, I found myself deliberately not speaking up on social media this weekend about the stolen nude photos because I was afraid to say something, and I thought I might be threatened.

Having started my digital life 16 years ago at the age of 12, I’ve never really been afraid of the Internet. Sure, I learned, “Don’t share your address with strangers,” and “Never give out personal details.” For about the first two years of this blog, I didn’t my last name or where I lived for those reasons. I ultimately shared my last name because I was featured in the Boston Globe Magazine, and I figured that if my name was in a magazine, I should be OK with it being online. And as I became more rooted in Boston, I also shared where I lived, though never exactly.

These same fears never applied to sharing my opinions online. In my younger, more rebellious years, I routinely got into heated debates on the Internet. Though I never threw pointless insults, I did receive them. I was called ugly, slutty, stupid, and my favorite, illiterate. Having been bullied through elementary and high school by both my female and male classmates, I honestly didn’t think much of these insults. It was nothing I hadn’t heard before.

As an outgoing and confident woman, I accept that people will get irrationally upset and call me names. To some extent, I accept that this is part of the territory of having opinions as either a man or a woman, but especially as a woman.

However I’ve become more timid about sharing opinions that could potentially bring abuse online. This is after years of reading story after story about women being threatened with death and rape. The stories about women having their privacy taken away via revenge porn scared me the most. I counted myself lucky that I never had a partner who would do that, or let’s be real here, that I did most of my dating in the age before revenge porn.

As the celebrity nude photos rolled out last week, I wanted to say something but felt this great sense of fear that hadn’t been there before.  Several times, I wanted to share my thoughts on Twitter, but stopped, thinking, “What if this happens to me one day?” and, “What if I get death threats?” As if merely sharing my opinion would make these things happen.

And that is when I realized I hadn’t escaped the reality that women are silenced online because I, too, was silenced.

Not because anyone had silenced me, but because I had chosen to silence myself out of fear of what might happen had I been the person I’ve been my entire life. And that is not OK.

p.s.: I wrote this while listening to Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl. Thank you for the courage, Kathleen Hanna.)

On Blogging and Not Quitting

More often than I care to admit, I think about hitting the delete button on Those Graces. Sometimes I feel so different from the girl who started this all one summer day four years ago. Up until now, I’ve always felt that I’ve grown with my blog and not against it, but lately I’ve been feeling so detached from this place. Maybe it has something to do with throwing myself into new things. Maybe it has to do with my life changing. This isn’t a how to post. I can’t give you any answers because I don’t have them myself. All I know is not quitting is a lot harder than quitting. So I’m staying because I’m curious where this will all go.

It’s pretty rare that you see someone blogging for six or more years. Of the blogs I read regularly, I can think of one or two people who have been blogging that long. Not everyone who’s been blogging for that many years has a book deal or hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. Some of them are just everyday people who decided not to quit, and I’d like to think that the web is a better place for the longevity of their blogs.

I do wonder how I can get there. The only thing I know for sure is that the road to long-term blogging doesn’t involve burning my blog to the ground after four years.

My issue in blogging is that I’m feeling more guarded about myself and less willing to share what’s been going on in my life. As you may have guessed from this post, David and I split up. Paperwork aside, the marriage ended in April, and for a lot of reasons, I’ve chosen not to talk about it here. Partly due to out of respect for that relationship, and partly because I’m still processing everything that happened. Needless to say, my life is very different than it was a year ago. But I’m really loving my life in Austin and I’m very excited for the changes in my life, including a very lovely boyfriend.

Keeping that information to myself is mostly what’s been holding me back from writing here. It’s easy to share the good things and really fucking hard to share the difficult things. But I’ve always believed that blogging is about conversations and sharing both the easy and hard parts of life. When I started writing online 15 years ago, that’s what I believed and I still believe in that now.