Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

Table Talk Tuesday With Jennifer Smith

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited to introduce you all to my guest this week: Jenn from the lifestyle blog The Art of Better, where she helps women live their best lives, and The Art of Better Blogging, helping others along their blogging journey.

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I’m so impressed by what you’ve built with both Art of Better Blogging and The Art of Better. Can you tell me, in a nutshell, how you got to be where you are today? 

Thank you! It’s been a long, winding path, for sure. I’ve been blogging on & off since 1999, way back in the day where I would hard code my sites in HTML from a blank page. A few years later, I had a fledgling graphic design business that I had to put it on the back burner for my corporate career. Can’t maintain a side hustle while working 60hrs every week!
Luckily I started my blogging journey back up again not long after because I just couldn’t seem to exist without writing. The Art of Better came first with The Art of Better Blogging coming about a year later when I started getting asked so many questions about blogging that I decided to segment them out. I blogged on the side for a few years and then finally got to the point where I was able to go full-time in 2015 and leave my soul-sucking corporate career!

A lot of people struggle with feelings of doubt, fear, and worrying about not being good enough when trying to accomplish big goals in life. Do you have any advice for pushing aside those negative feelings and going after what you want?   

“Impostor Syndrome” can be crippling, but everyone grapples with it from time to time. The way I help my blog & business coaching clients through it is through helping them recognize that everyone has a unique story and angle because no two people have the same background, path or life perspective. Well, that, and making it clear that fear is just a feeling, an emotion. You can choose to acknowledge it, set it aside, and move beyond it.

You seem to be an expert in all things blogging, social media, and just life in general. What was your process for becoming so knowledgeable? Do you have any tips for someone who wants to learn more about blogging, social media, etc? 

Well, I don’t know about life (I’m kind of a self-development junkie!) but I’ve been around the blogging & online business worlds for so long that I have seen nearly everything. The best advice I can give anyone who wants to know more is to read everything you can get your hands on (but take everything with a grain of salt) and find some bloggy besties that are slightly above your skill or experience level. Hanging out with people who are more advanced will cause you to stretch your skill set more often.

What is your life motto?

Hustle 24/7? Hell no!
Everything I do is dedicated to better… and that includes rebelling at the idea that you need to grind away all day every day to have a successful blog or online business. It just isn’t true! Do you have to hustle with purpose sometimes? Of course! But not all the time.

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog, like The Art of Better, or a business, like Art of Better Blogging?

Consistency is imperative for success. A lot of people start blogging and seem to have this idea that you can just write and they will come. I wish!

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

Oh! I love this questions. I do a daily gratitude practice and it has truly changed my life. Keeping it down to just 3 is really difficult!
1. My family (including our 4 dogs & close friends!)
2. My ah-mazing clients!
3. True red lipstick

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I have so many! Of course, the usual suspects like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Marie Forleo, but also women like Rose McGowan & Ani Difranco who are so unafraid to speak out for what they’re passionate about.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Learn to meditate much, much sooner.

What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?   

I’m most proud of becoming legal guardians for my niece a few years back. We didn’t have any kids prior to that time and we’ve managed to learn very quickly how to become good parents. I think in a few years we might want to have a baby- that would be a big accomplishment for us since we thought we’d never want kids!

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be? 

I’d have to say either an eagle or cheetah. I like to go fast!
Hope you enjoyed my interview with Jenn and learned as much from her as I did! For further inspiration and education, grab her free video training, How to Kickstart Your Blog’s Growth in 2017and join The Art of Better Blogging FB Community.

How to Stay Body Positive

How to Stay Body Positive

I was watching a YouTube video the other day, and in the video the YouTuber stated her weight. I looked through the comments and found many young girls saying things such as: “I’m only 14 and I weigh more than her” and asking if that was okay or if they were too big.

I replied to as many comments as I could, telling the girls that it isn’t healthy to compare yourself to others because every body is unique, and as long as you are healthy and happy it doesn’t matter what you weigh. But I know this message is easy to say and not quite as easy to believe.

I have definitely had my fair share of anxiety about the way my body looks, but I do feel I have learned some helpful tricks over the years to remain more body positive. Hopefully some of these tips will help those of you who might be struggling.

Stop comparing yourself to others

As I told the young girls commenting on the YouTube video, it does no good to judge yourself based on the standard others have set. Not only does it inevitably lead to negative thoughts, but it is not productive or logical. Every single person on this planet has a different body, and no matter how hard you try, yours will never look exactly like someone else’s, and you will be left feeling disappointed if you constantly covet another’s body type.

Do things that make you feel strong, healthy and confident

The healthier alternative to comparing yourself to others is to focus on your own mind and body, and do things that make you feel good. For me this includes taking a yoga class every week, going on walks at least three times a week, hiking in the greenbelt at least once a month, and going shopping or dressing up every once in a while to feel more confident.

Be nice to yourself

Next time you catch yourself criticizing your appearance, turn your thoughts to what you love about yourself instead. Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I try to think of something positive instead of immediately jumping to something negative. You can even pretend you’re complimenting someone else instead of yourself, if that helps! It’s much easier for us to find the beauty in others, for whatever reason.

Keep track of the compliments you receive from others

Speaking of complimenting others, another good trick is to take note of the compliments you receive, and be sure to repeat them to yourself when you’re feeling down. Whether it’s that you have nice nails (something one of my coworkers always tells me), or maybe even just that someone liked your outfit one day. Reminding ourselves of how others see us is very helpful when trying to stay body positive!.

I hope this helped you, or just added a little positivity to your Sunday night! Try these tips out this week and see how it changes the way you feel for the rest of the week. Also, if you’re looking for some general positivity tricks, check out my How To Stay Positive post.

Dear 2016

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

I want to start out by thanking you. You threw a lot of changes, hardships and surprises my way, but every one of them taught me something and made me stronger. I also want to thank you for all of the beautiful, fun, magical moments you brought to me. If you talk to 2017, tell it to send a few more of those my way this year.

I started out the year pushing myself out of my comfort zone and signing up for an improv class. That decision turned out to be one of the best of the year. Improv brought me a new group of friends, gave me a hobby to focus on once a week, and also taught me countless life lessons. Though I decided to stop improv a few months ago, I will always be grateful for the time I spent with it in 2016.

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You brought one of the biggest changes of my life in March, 2016, moving into my very own apartment and learning to live all by myself for the first time. I remember agonizing over the decision of whether or not I wanted to live alone, but now that it has been about nine months, I am so glad I did. Being by myself has forced me to be more independent, and has also made me to learn how to balance alone time with social time, something I think I have been doing a great job of in the last few months.

2016, you really made me work for things this year. You pushed me to stop being lazy in life, and to go after what I want. This has manifested in many different aspects of my life, from improving my physical and mental health to being happier in my social and work life. I feel much more confident in what I want and what I need to do to get it, and I know I will only continue to be better about this in 2017.

You really tested my ability to stay positive during the last two months of the year, but in doing so, actually taught me to be more optimistic. At times it felt as though the hardship and tragedy was never ending; a breakup, the loss of a childhood friend, changes at work, political strife in our country. Through it all I managed to stay positive, and learned healthy coping mechanisms to get me through the days. I also learned the important lesson that no matter how bad things seem, there is always something to smile about.

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As I write this in the new year, I am so happy with where last year took me. I learned so much about myself and I grew a lot as a person, and I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have been in a while. I have an incredible support system around me, from friends to family to coworkers, and in some cases, these relationships have been strengthened by the tough times I had to face.

So thank you, 2016, for all of the moments that made up this year, good and bad. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them. I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring!

– Shelly

How To Stay Positive

How To Stay Positive

It’s been a difficult week for a lot of people because of the election, and for me personally, it’s been a rough three weeks (unrelated to the election). Despite this, I think I’ve been able to remain relatively happy, so I thought I’d share some of my tips for staying positive through tough times.

Keep track of the good times

I believe it’s not only possible, but also very important, to find at least one positive moment in each day. The last few weeks have taught me that no matter what is going on in the world or in my personal life, there is always something to smile about, whether it be getting to spend time with old friends, or getting a card and cake from my coworkers for my one year anniversary.

Don’t forget to be grateful

Along with paying attention to the positive moments in life, I have also started to keep track of what I am grateful for. Thanksgiving may be a few weeks away, but I think having gratitude for all of the amazing things in my life should be a year-long goal. I’ve started going over each positive moment and what I am grateful for each night before I fall asleep. It really helps put things in perspective when I realize I have so many things to be thankful for, and so many happy memories each day.

Focus on others

Another important trick for staying positive is to get outside of yourself and focus on someone else for a change. This could be in the form of a small act of kindness, giving someone a compliment, or making an effort to ask a friend how they are doing and listening to them before talking about yourself. I have found I feel much happier when I take the time to pay attention to other people’s needs as well as my own.

Treat yourself

I know I just talked about paying attention to others, but I do want to stress how important it is to take care of yourself as well. I’ve been taking the time to do things for me lately, which includes taking nice hot baths when I need a little relaxation, going to yoga and zumba classes, taking walks and hiking, catching up on one of my favorite TV shows, and spending lots of time with friends and family. Whatever it is that makes you happy, be sure to do more of that, especially when you’re feeling particularly down.

 

I hope you found this helpful in some way! I just thought the world could use more good vibes lately. Let me know if you have any other tricks for staying positive, I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

The Difference Between Giving Up and Moving On

The Difference Between Giving Up and Moving On

The past two weeks I’ve been agonizing over one simple decision: whether or not to continue taking my improv class. I completed four levels (each six weeks long), which is definitely much more than I expected to complete.

At some point towards the end of Level Four, I started thinking I might not want to continue to Level Five. I had a few different pros and cons, which I found myself weighing over and over again with the help of my friends, boyfriend and family. (In case you can’t tell, I am a very indecisive person). The gist of the pros is that I enjoy having a hobby that allows me to step outside of my comfort zone while spending time with new friends. The gist of the cons is that I often feel overwhelmed with too much going on each week and it was starting to not be as much fun for me as it was in the earlier levels.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that what I truly wanted was to stop improv, even though I knew I might feel some regret about my decision. I’ve never liked the idea of quitting something, and in a way I felt that stopping before I completed all six levels was a form of quitting. However, I decided that sometimes you have to move on from something, and you don’t have to think of it in such negative terms as ‘giving up’ or ‘quitting.’ Everything in life has an ending, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing to stop doing something if you no longer wish to be doing it.

My friend Heather told me a really great quote the other day, which went something like: “If you’re not saying heck yes to something, you shouldn’t be doing it.” I really liked that because it made me think about what I am saying yes to, and what I should be saying yes to. The fact that I was so unsure about whether or not I wanted to do improv proved that I shouldn’t be doing it anymore, because I was giving it an I guess so at best, rather than a heck yes! 

Saying yes to another level of improv when my heart isn’t fully in it would not do me any good. Instead, I should be spending my time doing things that I know with certainty I want to be doing. I’ve decided that means putting more energy into this blog. Writing blog posts brings me a lot of happiness, and I have been wanting to take it more seriously for a while now. Here’s my chance!

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My improv class 

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have ever struggled with the difference between giving up and moving on, or if you have had any particularly tough decisions to make lately, and how you were able to come to your decision.

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

I found out yesterday that I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Morgan at Boho En Route. According to her blog, the award is: “an award given to bloggers by bloggers. It is given to bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.

Thanks so much to Morgan for nominating me! It really made my day to hear that someone thinks of my blog as positive and inspiring!

Morgan came up with some great questions for all of her nominees to answer, so here goes:

1. What is your number one goal to attain in this life?

For a while now I’ve bee thinking that my ultimate life goal is to write a book. I’m not sure how and I’m not sure when, but I am determined to make it happen at some point!

2.  What made you decide to start a blog?

I think I answered this in Confetti and Curves’ Behind The Blog interview with me, but I originally started a blog because my dad suggested it. More recently, I decided to start writing again because I enjoy getting my thoughts out and sharing advice with people through my posts. I also like the community aspect of it, and getting to meet other bloggers virtually through comments and reading their blogs.

3. Who/what inspires you?

Lately I’ve been really inspired by two podcasts that I’ve been listening to. I talked about one of them, Dear Sugar, in my April Favorites blog. The second podcast is very similar, and it’s hosted by two of my favorite YouTubers: Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes. It’s called Ladies Who Lunch, and they give advice and talk about their personal experiences with certain topics. Both of these podcasts inspire me because I am always in awe of people who are able to help others through giving advice, as well as being so open and honest about their own life. I aspire to be able to do the same with my blog.

4. What creates your happiness?

I know the correct answer should be “I do.” But if I think of it a bit more objectively, I think that I find happiness from my relationships (boyfriend, family, friends), hobbies (writing this blog and taking improv classes) and a small amount of alone time to clear my head and just relax.

5. Describe your perfect vacation.

My perfect vacation would be a good blend of relaxation and adventure. I love going to the beach and just hanging out and being lazy most of the time, but then also taking some time to explore the area and maybe go shopping, try some restaurants, or go to a museum. I’m actually going to the beach with my family and boyfriend next weekend, so I’m sure I’ll write about it in a post afterwards!

6. Favorite place you’ve visited?

I was actually thinking about this place the other day. I loved Barcelona when I went there for one weekend during my semester abroad! It was such a fun, beautiful city filled with culture. Read my old blog to hear all about my experience there, if you’re curious.

7. What state/country do you currently live in?

I live in the U.S., in Texas!

8. Do you plan on staying there for ‘good’?

I’m not 100% sure. I love it here, and definitely see myself living here for the foreseeable future. However, I wouldn’t rule out moving somewhere else later in life if the opportunity came up and I decided I wanted to!

9. What are you currently trying to improve with yourself?

The main thing I am trying to improve on is taking my health and fitness more seriously. I’ve been trying to eat a little better and work out more often.

10. Do you enjoy reading as much as writing?

I do! I’ve written a few book reviews on this blog. Unfortunately having a full time job has made it a lot more difficult for me to read, but it is definitely something I enjoy!

11. Did you excel/enjoy writing particularly growing up as a kid?

Yes and yes. Writing was always one of my strengths growing up. I remember in middle school my friend and I would write stories together all the time, and when I got into high school my favorite classes were always my English classes.

Now for my nominees!

These are blogs that I’ve enjoyed reading, and bloggers that have shown an interest in my blog as well.

My 11 Questions for the nominees:

  1. What is your main goal for your blog?
  2. What are you most proud of?
  3. Who is your current favorite singer, and/or what is your current favorite song?
  4. What do you do when you need to de-stress/relax?
  5. If you won the lottery, what would you buy?
  6. Where do you feel most at home/what is your “happy place”?
  7. What is one skill you wish you were better at?
  8. What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?
  9. Which city/country do you most want to visit some day?
  10. What do you do to overcome writer’s block?
  11. What is your greatest strength?

 Sunshine Blogger Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new about me. Thanks again to Morgan for nominating me! Nominees, please take the time to make your own blog post and answer my questions! I promise it is a lot of fun. 🙂

Why I Hate #Goals

There is a new trend I’ve seen lately, which is the use of the word “goals” (often used in hashtag form with a word in front of it) in association with people (often celebrities). For example, I have seen countless comments on Instagram saying “#relationshipgoals” for pictures of celebrities, friends or YouTubers and their significant others. I have also seen an even more disturbing trend of “#bodygoals”. Why am I calling this disturbing? Let me explain.

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There is no denying that we live in a society where worshipping celebrities and coveting things about their life or appearance is common. Magazines are constantly bombarding us with tips for how to look more like Celebrity X, or how to obtain Body Y. Many people tend to get far too wrapped up in articles like these, thinking that if we only drank the juice blend that our favorite celebrity drinks, or copied the exact workout that she performs daily, we would magically become her. But obviously this is not the case.

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A goal, by definition, is: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. In my opinion, making the object of your ambition a person is very damaging because it leaves no possible positive result. We will constantly be disappointed because there is no way to actually achieve this. Our boyfriend will never be the exact same as our favorite YouTuber’s boyfriend. And our body will never look the exact same as our favorite celebrity’s. Is it really fair to place an unattainable goal on ourselves and expect to achieve it? Why not focus on setting goals that are unique to what we actually believe we can obtain?

For example, instead of making someone else’s body your “goal”, why not set a goal to work out a certain number of times per week, or to get your body back to how it looked a few years ago? The key here is that both of these goals have to do with you and not someone else, and thus are attainable with hard work and effort. And if you think someone else’s relationship as perfect, why not take a look at your own relationship, and decide on specific ways you and your partner could improve, separate from how you perceive the relationship between two strangers to be.

In a nutshell: try to focus on yourself, not others. You will never obtain someone else’s body or boyfriend. You will, however, obtain your individual goals if you set them to be obtainable for you. When goals are centered around yourself and your own life, rather than someone else’s, they have a much better chance of being accomplished.

Hope you enjoyed this blog! Like and comment to let me know if you agree with my annoyance at the #goals trend on the internet. I would also love to hear some positive goals you have set for yourself!

 

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Be Proud of Yourself

For the past few weeks I have been feeling a little down. Some might say I’ve been in a rut. This is due to not being completely happy with certain things in my life, putting a lot of pressure on myself to change them, and also just general feelings of sadness and annoyance that don’t seem to stem from any one thing in particular.

While working out today I had an epiphany of sorts, and I thought I would share it in case any of you are struggling with some of the feelings of doubt and unhappiness that I have been experiencing. My epiphany was that I do not do a good enough job of patting myself on the back for all of the things I am doing right. Instead, I focus on the negatives or what I think I could be doing better. This causes a lot of unnecessary stress and makes me feel upset at myself when I really shouldn’t be feeling that way.

So I came up with an idea which I think is a pretty good one, if I do say so myself. I am going to start acknowledging all of the accomplishments and goals that I have been achieving lately, in an effort to improve my spirits and just have a more positive outlook on life. Positivity is one of my words for having a happier fall, after all! (See ‘Happy Fall!’).

What I’ve Accomplished Lately:

  1. Over the past few months I have gone from not working out at all (besides the occasional short walk) to getting to the gym at least 4 times a week! I’ve always heard that working out can help make you feel happier and more energized, and I am already seeing how true that is. No matter how down I’m feeling, I always feel better after leaving the gym.
  2. I went from not blogging in over a year, to publishing five blog posts in the past few months! It is crazy that as I write this, I have 40-something followers already. I know that might not seem like a lot for some of you big-shot bloggers out there, but the thought that 40 people have read my blog and were influenced by it in some way is really awesome to me!

I know I could think of more to be proud of myself for, but those are the two main things that stand out to me as of right now. I already feel better just having acknowledged that I have succeeded in doing something, in changing something about my life in a positive way. Blogging and working out are both activities that make me feel happier, which is really the most important part of any activity.

What makes you happy? What have you been doing right lately that you haven’t given yourself enough credit for? Let me know in the comments, and write your own version of this blog if you think it will help you feel better! It certainly worked for me.

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Life doesn’t always go according to plan

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been really itching to start blogging again, but I just haven’t been able to decide on what to write. Writing about Spain was easy- who doesn’t love writing about travel and adventure? When I got back from Spain I told myself I would keep writing about random things, and I had plenty of ideas, but alas, my senior year began and I just didn’t have the time or energy to make an effort. I also kept telling myself that my life wasn’t interesting enough to write about.

Fast forward to now: I am a proud TCU graduate with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising, and a Spanish minor. However, there are a few things in my life that are not at all how I pictured them. When I was going to TCU, I had this whole plan for what things would look like after graduation: I would have a full-time job that I loved, I would be living in Austin in a cute little apartment all my own, and I would be surrounded by great friends. In reality, I am currently living back at home with my parents, I am still looking for a job, and I suddenly feel as though all of my close friends are elsewhere. This situation, and the fact that I find myself utterly unable to control my own life, has been very difficult for me to handle.

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I have always been a planner. I loved planning fabulous birthday parties for myself when I was growing up. I was always the friend in the group that would get back in contact with everyone from high school and plan group get-togethers whenever we were back in Austin during college. And I used a calendar and planner religiously for my college classes. I just like to feel in control, which I think is a natural desire for most people. I have also always been a dreamer and an optimist. I have thought up countless ideas for books and movies inside my own head, and I am constantly trying to see the brighter side of a situation. This has made the reality of my life even more difficult, because I have had to realize that some things cannot be controlled or planned. I have applied to and interviewed for countless jobs, but in the end have had no real tangible control over whether or not I land the job. The optimist in me keeps telling myself that those jobs just weren’t meant to be. That I will find the right fit eventually. But it’s hard not to start feeling defeated and take things personally.

I suppose all you can do is try your best to reach your goals, while also realizing that sometimes life doesn’t go according to the plan you have laid out for yourself. I always pictured myself getting a job before I graduated, living on my own, and generally living up my post-grad life. But you know what else I pictured myself doing at one point in life? Being a professional ballerina. Starring in a movie. Joining a band. Playing intramural sports in college. Getting my Hogwarts letter. Dating Ashton Kutcher. You get my point.

Thinking about all of those dreams and plans that at one point seemed so important to me makes me realize that sometimes it’s best to just sit back, relax and enjoy life as it unfolds. Without trying to micromanage it or decide your own fate. I didn’t die from not playing sports in college or becoming a famous actress. And I certainly won’t be killed by unemployment.

So if you are in my shoes, and you’ve been feeling down about the seemingly unfair cards you have been dealt lately, just remember that it gets better. Okay that was cheesy. But seriously, remember that not everything in life can be planned, and not everything will happen the way you hope it will. Just take a deep breathe, and keep working towards your goals, without beating yourself up or concentrating on your “failures”. And if you NEED to feel in control over something, try making some small decision that you know will make you happy. For instance, I just cut my hair shorter after having it long for a while now. I’m loving the new haircut, and it weirdly makes me feel very empowered. Like I have a say in the changes in my life. I may not have full control over when I get a job, but I sure as heck have control over when I get a killer new look!

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Comment below if you have gone through what I am going through. I would love to hear any pieces of advice you might have for staying positive and letting go of things that aren’t in my control!