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.

Say Hello to Overdressed Me!

Overdressed Me

In my last post, I shared that I was working on a project that I’ve been thinking about for the past few years. Well, I’m finally ready to reveal it and invite you all say hello to Overdressed Me!

At Overdressed Me, my goal is to give fashion and style advice to those in pursuit of a well-dressed life, no matter what their budget or age.

I got the idea for this blog about two years ago but was always scared to take a leap and start it. I’ll be honest, after being burned by having two blogs before, I was hesitant to jump back into being a blogger with more than one blog. However, I realized this was an idea I was passionate about and wanted to pursue on a larger scale, not just in a post here and there.

I could have thrown my hands up and said, “I did this two blog thing before and it didn’t work!” But I didn’t want to do that because almost everyone fails at at least one endeavor in their life–why let my past hold me back? Not to mention, now I finally have the time and energy to devote to two blogs.

At Overdressed Me, I’ll be sharing my unique perspectives and opinions on clothes. I really love giving advice on what to wear when, which is why I wanted to dedicate a whole blog to doing just that. I’ll be striving to provide dressing advice for every occasion from summer barbeques to winter weddings.

So, why don’t you stop on over there and say hello?

Boston Gone Austin

Boston Gone Austin | ThoseGraces.com
As a blogger, I struggle with where to draw the line when it comes to what I share here on my blog and what I choose to keep private. Though I’ve never felt pressure to share anything, I do recognize that this blog has tracked my journey through life over the past four years. There’s been ups and downs, I’ve shared about serious topics like being bullied to more frivolous things like my favorite makeup. No one tells you where these lines are both online and off. Despite how much I share about my life and my truths, I do make conscious decisions to keep many things about my life private.

However, it occurred to me that many of you who read my blog may have had a head scratching moment if you saw on Twitter and Instagram that I recently moved to Austin. Well, more like moved-ish. I don’t plan on moving permanently until the fall, because you know, moving just sucks and should be put off as long as possible.

I do miss Boston. It’s a beautiful place in the summer, so it’s easy to miss it when there’s not ten inches of snow on the ground. But the weather is beautiful here, the food is amazing and the people are so welcoming. All I can say is this is a place I can get used to.

I’m also busy working on another project that I’ll be sharing next month. It’s an idea that’s been in my head for the past three years and I finally have the time to sit down and make shit happen. It will be in addition to Those Graces, not replacing it.

Don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere. Well, except to Texas.

How Not to Go Crazy Redesigning Your Blog

If you get in any group of bloggers together and bring up the topic of layouts and design, chances are you’ll hear a chorus of groans followed by, “I hate changing my blog’s layout!”  As a result, many keep their blog the same for years or pay someone else to design it. That doesn’t have to be the case! I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past 10+ years of creating websites and tinkering with blogs.  It doesn’t have to be a frustrating process, I promise!

Tip 1: Don’t Practice on Your Live Site

Whether your based on Blogspot, WordPress or Tumblr (or some other service), don’t practice on your blog. If you’re just learning, setup a test blog on your platform and play around with possible layouts there. You’ll want to have a place where you can flex your muscles and learn the ropes. Once you’re confident in your skills,  then work on your blog.

Tip 2: Estimate How Much Time You’ll Need

Once you have a grasp of the basics, estimate how much time you’ll need to make the changes. Do you want to make easy edits like the color of your links or are you looking to overhaul your whole layout? The former is a quick fix but the latter can take days. Don’t embark on your edits without having an idea of how long it will take. Once you have that figured out, set aside that time whether it’s after work or on the weekend.

Tip 3: Shut Your Website Down or Use a Remote Site When Editing

This is especially important if you have a fair amount of visitors who might get confused when they see changes happening live. Plus, you want to be able to unveil your site once you’ve put the finishing touches on the design. For those on Blogspot, this might mean making a practice blog and then copying the code or temporarily making your blog password only. On WordPress, I recommend setting up a sandbox site on your local machine where you can see your edits. Here’s a good tutorial on how to do that.

Tip 4: Know When to Go to Bed

The worst thing is feeling cranky and miserable after working on your blog. Web design can be a fun and invigorating experience and the last thing you want to do is drive yourself crazy. If you hit the wall in your web design, walk away from the computer and finish it tomorrow.

Tip 5: Have Fun and Keep an Open Mind

There’s no reason to feel dread when it comes to web design! The way I look at it is every layout I work on is a learning experience. Not only do I come away with new knowledge every time, but I can usually edit faster next time around. Remember everyone is always learning when it comes to design. After all no one was born knowing HTML and CSS. It’s a learning experience that can be incredibly empowering. There’s nothing better than answering, “Me!” when someone asks you who designed your site.

If you have any questions, please let me know! I just redsigned my site after not doing a major overhaul for about seven months and I wanted to share what I learned (again) from the experience. Let me know what you think of my new design!

Ditching My L.L. Bean Backpack

Ditching My L.L. Bean Backpack | ThoseGraces.com

This summer I did something for the very first time: I left my L.L. Bean backpack at home and hit the road. My decision didn’t come lightly. After all, this backpack has traveled literally everywhere with me from high school to Europe to my cross country road trip. Where I went my L.L. Bean backpack followed. Until now.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing a backpack over any other bag. At the end of the day, it really is just a place to throw stuff. And throw stuff I did. Over the course of 12 years, this bag helped me carry around my entire life at times. I  bragged about its age, as if it were a vintage Chanel pocketbook and not what it really was, which was a ratty old backpack. Sure, it wasn’t totally falling apart, but the backpack had definitely seen better days.

There was something interesting about sharing all the cities and places I had taken it over the years. It became a stand in for my own stories. Instead of me flying to Paris, it became my backpack that did the traveling. Though it was interesting that the backpack had been everywhere, but it was even more fascinating that I had been there. I’m not one to share about my travels because it has always felt like bragging to me. Instead it became easier to assign experiences to an inanimate object and not to me.

It’s easy to say the bag is ugly–that wouldn’t be a lie–but ditching my backpack ultimately had very little to do with style. The choice was ultimately about taking ownership over my own experiences and leave my backpack behind. I’ll probably never give away my beloved backpack, because it’s made it this far with me. For now it just has to sit on the shelf and take a break.