Goodbye Android, Hello iPhone

Goodbye Android, Hello iPhone |
Ever since my post about breaking up with my iPhone I always wondered if I was the one who was wrong and not Apple. To date, it’s the only post that’s cost me a freelancing gig, with the hiring party saying, “We saw on your blog that you didn’t like iPhone . . . ” I’ve spent the past year defending my hatred, but I finally give up. I surrender and I’m finally going back to iPhone.

I can’t say I missed it that much, rather that my decision to quit Android (for now) was more of an overnight decision where I realized aspects that seemed cool about Android were bothersome. It’s true, you can customize how Android looks, but mine never looked sleek or cool design-wise. It looked very functional in a boring, practical way. I found myself missing the sleek and simple design of iPhone.

And about the size–a lot of salespeople will pitch that the Android has a larger screen size, and that might be true, but I rarely watch videos on my phone. In the past year, I can count maybe 10 times where I watched a video on my 5″ screen. How many times have I tried to fit this huge phone into the pocket of my skinny jeans? Too many times to count. It was not cute. It will never look cute to have half a phone sticking out of your pocket.

What I actually my phone boiled down to four things: Making calls, sending texts, Instagram and Twitter. You don’t need large screens for any of these tasks. And while we’re talking about Instagram, I consistently got annoyed at how many innovative photo editing apps developed for iPhone only. Annnnnoying!

In short, I missed the coolness of iPhone. There is nothing sexy about Android, it’s purely functional like that old pair of underwear that you just can’t bring yourself to throw out. Many may talk up their processors and speed, but nothing looks as good as an iPhone, at least not to me.

Natural’s Not In It: I’m Back and Blonde

Back and Blonde | Those

After a two month hiatus from blogging, I’m back! For awhile life was hard and I couldn’t find much joy in my once beloved hobby, but you know what they say. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, which is exactly what happened so I’m back! And BLONDE! So, so blonde. And I love it!

Let’s jump right in talk about the hair. I needed a major change and highlights weren’t going to cut it. I went to see my colorist and friend Andrae at Mirage Hair Design in Natick. When I got there I was on the fence about going really blonde, so Andrae and I debated back and forth about the merits of being really blonde versus just kind of blonde. Once I sat down in the chair, I told Andrae, “I just want to feel like I’m doing a big change.” He jumped in immediately and said, “Let’s go for it, let’s do all blonde.” I was sold!

Going blonde isn’t the most glamorous process. It takes time and you look silly. Which I guess is probably how I felt the the first time I was blonde, except my friends did it, which definitely was not a salon experience. I can tell you right now that if you want to go from brunette to blonde, do it at a salon unless your best friend is also a colorist. Just trust me on this.

The whole process took about two hours, which seemed short to me. I swear when I was blonde before and I would go for highlights, it took four hours. Needless to say, Andrae is amazing at what he does and I’m sure that’s why the process was quick and painless. No really, it didn’t hurt at all. I even have such a sensitive scalp that I tear up when people brush my hair. This was the fourth or fifth time Andrae did my hair. He’s done everything on me from ombre to brunette to blonde and it always turns out amazing.

I’m glad I took the leap to go back to blonde. I’m under no delusions that it will be easy to maintain, but I’ll tell you what, it sure does look great.

You can (and should!) follow Andrae on Twitter and Instagram. He’s hilarious, genuine and gives great advice along with doing amazing hair.

Going on Hiatus

I hate to become one of those bloggers who writes primarily about blogging, but I guess that’s happening right now. I wanted to write this post to let you all know that I’m going to be going on a hiatus from Those Graces for an undetermined period of time.

In the past blogging was one of my only hobbies because I didn’t have a creative outlet in my work. Now that I’m working for myself, I have a huge sense of fulfillment from being able to get to do the work I want to do when I want to do it, kind of like I did with blogging.

I’ve begun to reflect upon the desire for more privacy. It’s true that bloggers choose what they put out there, and I’ve made a conscious decision to share less online. At some point, I became uncomfortable with strangers knowing my thoughts and feelings on subjects. Being open can be so fulfilling, but it can also feel like I’m giving away pieces of myself without knowing what will happen. Just to clarify, only good things have come from this blog, but I’m at the point where I want to turn inward.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable with myself, I’ve been able to open up with friends and be myself fully, which was something that was hard in the past. Sad to say, but now that I have more of a support system in my life, I feel less of a need to blog. Blogging was always a way to share my thoughts and interests that I didn’t share with people around me. I’m happy to share more now have an amazing group of friends.

I’m not sure where this hiatus will go. I could see starting over on another blog or coming back to this one. I’m honestly not sure. It feels kind of sad to admit that this might be the end of the road, but I’m not really sure yet. I just wanted to share this so you all weren’t thinking, “Where did Courtney go? Is she coming back?”

In the mean time, I’m still addicted to Twitter and Instagram so those are probably the best places to find me for now.

Until next time, xo.

Going Ad Free and Other Blogger Reflections

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about life as a blogger. I started writing online about 15 years ago and complained about homework, babysitting and boys. Somehow I made friends with amazing people who I’m still close with today. Some of them I’ve met, others I haven’t. Some have given me the best advice ever. And I met them all though blogging. But somehow blogging changed for me along the way and not necessarily for good, which is why I’ve decided to go ad free on Those Graces.

When I started Those Graces in 2010, I had no clue I could earn money blogging. I didn’t know that companies would send products or that I would be featured in a national newspaper. Most of all, I had no clue that people would want to read my blog. I started Those Graces for the same reason I started blogging in 1999: Because I wanted to connect with people.

I got lost along the way when I set my mind on becoming a full-time blogger. I started thinking strategically and from a marketing perspective. When I realized the full-time blogging thing wasn’t for me, I knew I needed refocus and move away from worrying about every single post. I didn’t want to worry about pageviews and visitor stat day after day.And after all, the main reason why these numbers is for advertising.

I realized when I stopped caring about advertisers, I stopped caring about numbers and started caring about my writing more. This is ultimately why I decided to go ad free.

I’ll still be accepting products for review, but know that 90% of what gets sent almost never makes it to the light of day on my blog. I am never obligated to post about these products and future product review posts will be clearly labeled as such There will be no affiliate links. I want to share things I love whether readers want to buy it or not.

I don’t feel pressure to do this and readers have never complained. It’s a personal choice that works best for me moving forward in my blog life, which is turning out to be forever evolving.

5 Road Trip Myths Debunked

Road Trip Myths Debunked
In the months following my cross country road trip,  it was hard to process my  experience. However as I’ve spent more time thinking, I realized I debunked five myths about road trips. Before I set out, many warned me about a lot of things that turned out to be utterly false. I’m sure they were well meaning, but their advice was totally wrong. (Sorry, mom!)

Myth 1: If you travel alone as a female, you will be abducted, raped and disappear forever.

About 30% of people espoused this myth. They seemed almost certain that I’d be raped and murdered. The terror people had was overwhelming. However, I decided I wasn’t going to listen to this myth. I didn’t buy a gun. I didn’t even purchase mace. I had my wits and street smarts. After all, my hometown experienced a terrorist attack just three months before I left for my trip. The potential risk of a road trip seemed safe compared to that experience.

Don’t let fear control you.

Myth 2: You’re going to kill your car.

I heard this one from people apparently unfamiliar with Toyotas and basic car maintenance. If you have a reliable vehicle that’s well maintained, chances are you’ll be fine. The worst that happened to me was I got a flat tire in Biloxi, Mississippi.

But come on, flat tires can happen anywhere.

Myth 3: People will know you’re not from around there and judge you.

I admit that this was my own myth. I thought my Massachusetts plates and accent would make me stand out like a sore thumb.  I deliberately packed my most boring, nondescript clothing for middle America where I thought it’d be more likely to be judged.

The truth is, I don’t think anyone cared but me.

Myth 4: Your trip will cost a fortune and you’ll come back totally broke.

If you do it right, traveling doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  I read a lot of books on how to save money and the best one I came across was Matt Kepnes’ How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. I created a $50 per day budget for fun, food and accommodations. (Gas was a separate budget!) I bought groceries instead of eating out, stayedwith friends along the way and in hostels. Ultimately, my best advice is to get a credit card that rewards you for using it. Through the card I signed up with, I earned about $400 from my trip alone.

Including gas, I spent about $2,900 ($72 per day) over about 40 days. Pretty cheap if you ask me!

Myth 5: You won’t want to drive the whole way.

If you don’t like driving long distances, by all means, do not go on a cross country road trip by yourself. However, if you love driving or have help, chances are you won’t tire of it. There wasn’t a day where I said to myself, “I can’t drive anymore.” That was until the last day when, yes, I was a bit over it.

I’m really proud that I drove all 10,000 miles by myself.

What Turned Out to Be True

Though I debunked these five myths, I found some road trips were real. It was lonely. It was incredibly hard, both emotionally and physically. I was scared at times, but not of people. Mostly of torrential downpours, hydroplaning and driving up and down the Rockies. But these are all posts for another day.

That being said, the lessons I learned were immeasurable.