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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Look Again :: May + June 2012

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The highlight of these months was when my sister Liz came to visit! It's always a blast. We went to Santa Barbara for a night, and my friend (and roommate at the time) Chris came with.

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Outfit shoots and selfies ensued.

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More outfits from May.

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And, I continued taking food photos. This was pre-Instagram, and I took my DSLR everywhere I went. Those were the days...

See my last #throwbackthursday post here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life :: Learn to Love Yourself (Even When You Don't Feel Like it)

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Two weeks ago, I found myself crying in my car outside of Target.

Coincidentally, I had cried in the same parking lot almost a year before, in the same car, but in different clothes. I had come down with an excruciating UTI during a stressful work week and didn't have the money to pay for my prescription. Fortunately, my sweet roommate happened to be close by, and he was able to loan me the money. But this time around, I had no one to call -- because there was nothing that anyone could do for me. This time, the only person that could help me was myself.

To be honest, I hate asking for help. In fact, I don't even like to tell people when something's wrong. I don't want to be a burden or a nuisance. I prefer to feel invincible, in control, independent. That may seem strange because I speak so openly about my life online, but it's always been easier for me to express my emotions through writing. I used to tell everyone everything, but I've learned over the years to keep many things to myself. This invulnerability feels safe. It can also feel very, very lonely. I'm normally more comfortable helping other people than allowing them to help me. It's something I'm working on.

But on that day two weeks ago, I barely had the strength to do anything for myself. The truth is, I was exhausted. I had been so strong during this pregnancy, so positive and resilient. Maybe it was the negative offline comments I'd received from others that were starting to get to me, maybe it was the fact that I didn't have insurance for two months and issues with it are still popping up, maybe it was the stress of single-handedly expanding my business right before maternity leave, maybe it was post-vacation blues after seeing so many loved ones in Michigan, maybe it was the news I'd recently gotten about my health, maybe it was the fact that we don't know where we're going to be living next month -- but whatever the case may be, I was hit with overwhelm. Even a Loudmouth goes silent once in awhile.

I've never been properly diagnosed with ADHD or OCD, but I tend to take on a million projects at once, and I want them all done perfectly. Fortunately, at this point in my life, I've trained myself to remain happy and secure even when I want to feel like a big fat failure. Sometimes, though, it's easy to fall back into the same pattern of not believing I'm doing enough.

And that's when I know it's time to do nothing.

Yes, my friends, you read that right. When you don't feel proud of your life and confident in who you are -- because, duh, you should -- you need to stop what you're doing and focus on you. When you're emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted, the worst thing you can do is keep pushing through. That's a recipe for anxiety, and you can't concentrate when you're stressed or depressed.

I took it easy for the rest of the week. I barely opened my laptop for four days. I had lunch with a friend, got my nails done with another friend, read a book, watched a movie, went out to dinner with Brandon and took a yoga class. I spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking and jotting down notes in my journal. I slept as much as I could, which is hard at this stage of pregnancy, but I made it happen with a heating pad, ibuprofen, and frequent trips to the bathroom. I continued to concentrate on what I have, and ignored the things I don't have yet. Those things will come, but until then, no need to obsess.

Usually, the biggest problems we face don't even exist -- they're figments of our imagination. Nothing bad actually happened that day two weeks ago; it was simply my thoughts that occurred. And when the voices in your head get louder than you, it's time to give yourself more love than ever.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lessons :: How and Why Should I Use Bloglovin'?

A bloggy bud recently asked me about Bloglovin' and though I can't find the email (oops) I wanted to talk about the site a little bit here. If you're not already familiar, Bloglovin' is a site specifically used for blog-reading that can keep all of your favorites in one spot! I used to use GFC sometimes and I'd also just go straight to the blogs when I kept them on my sidebar, but recently I've started using Bloglovin' exclusively. I love the layout and I love that I can click through straight to the blogs. Some readers force you to stay inside the site while reading blog posts, but I enjoy seeing them in their full glory. There's also a Bloglovin' app that I've found super helpful when on the go. Here are a few of my other favorite things about Bloglovin' and why you should get on board!

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My feed + Liked posts
Scrolling down my feed and clicking posts I'm interested in makes blog reading super simple. Most bloggers are already signed up with Bloglovin' and have an icon you can click on their blog, but if not, you can also use the search bar and find your favorite bloggers to follow them that way. Normally, when clicking on a post, the page pops up with a Bloglovin' frame, but I found it annoying and you can disable it under "settings". While perusing your feed, if you really liked a post, you can click on the heart icon and mark it as "liked". You can click "liked posts" to see all of them. It's a great way to keep track and revisit your faves. I also use this feature if the blogger doesn't have a comments section or if I simply don't have much to say. Bloggers love to receive feedback and this is a quick, easy way to give it!

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Blog stats + Social media connectivity
Both of my blogs are linked up with Bloglovin' and it's fun to be able to see their stats in one spot. The analytics aren't too in-depth but I love setting personal goals and watching my follower count grow -- yay for 8 at Baby Loudmouth! On this page, you're also able to connect Bloglovin' to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. That way, your new posts will be announced automatically and you won't have to worry about it if you're on vacation or just not around your computer when it goes up (most bloggers schedule their posts in advance).

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Popular posts + Recommended blogs
Finding new blogs to get hooked on is one of my favorite pastimes, and Bloglovin' makes it easy! You can view popular posts, either overall or by category, and also popular blogs overall or by category. Bloglovin' also offers recommendations (which are sometimes way off, sometimes on point). I love being able to discover new bloggy treasures with a few simple clicks. Fun stuff!

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The only thing I don't like is that sometimes my photos don't show up and there's just a plain gray spot where it should be. I should probably email the admins about this. Otherwise, it's a pretty perfect way to catch up on my blog reading! It's one of the first things I check in the morning. Feel free to follow The Loudmouth Lifestyle here and Baby Loudmouth here. You can also follow my personal profile to see what posts I've liked here. Happy reading!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Loudstagram :: Week(s) in Review + How to Turn a Boring Life into Interesting Instagrams

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Seeing as it's been close to 100 degrees here in the North Valley this week and whenever I step outside I nearly pass out from dehydration, I haven't gotten to do normal "summery" things. I can't drink alcohol, I don't have easy access to a pool, I can't take a leisurely stroll around the block without getting harassed, and the closest beach is 40 miles away (which means two hours in LA traffic).

Needless to say, on paper, my life is pretty boring. I spend most of my days inside, on my computer, alone. To be quite honest, though, I actually enjoy it. I was never a homebody before, but getting pregnant and leaving my job has forced me to concentrate on my writing and myself. Between typing like a madwoman, I take breaks to rub my belly, call my mom, and eat obscene amounts of hummus. It's nice.

However, my blog is my business, and the customers must be entertained! Though you're reading this for free (you're welcome), I consider social networking to be my full-time job. If you're in the same boat (or just don't want to look like a lame-ass to your loyal followers), here's how to create an exciting Instagram feed from a not-so-exciting life.

1. Be honest. If you've been reading TLL for awhile, then you know that honesty is my policy. Just like you shouldn't play a pretend "character" on your blog for the sake of followers, don't pretend to be someone you're not on Instagram. I heard once that you could actually "buy" IG photos and post them to your own feed so that people think you're somewhere fun (like a party, club, vacation etc). That's super weird. If you're spending your weekend in sweatpants watching reruns of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, then take a picture of your bunny slippers and popcorn! Don't be ashamed of who you are and what you like to do. Your blog readers with love you for it. Personal facts are fun and give your followers something to connect with. If you're fake, even if it works for awhile, people will notice.

2. Don't copy. This takes dishonesty to a whole different level. A blogger friend of mine said that she has a follower who is constantly taking similar photos. Every time my friend takes a photo, the other girl will post one that looks almost the same the next day. I've had people steal my ideas before, but tweak it just enough so that I can't legally pursue them. Don't do this! It's rude and again, people will notice. Copycats always get caught. There is a difference between inspiration and emulation.

3. Capture the little things. Just like you can't be perfect at everything you want to pursue, you also can't be everything to everyone on your Insta feed. Focus on the little things that make your unique life special. I'm one of those annoying people that takes pictures of food, and though not everyone appreciates those, they make me happy and there are followers out there who feel the same way! Snap away at what you believe makes your days exciting, even if you don't think everyone will like them.

4. Take lots of photos at once, and save them for later! Whenever I'm doing something out of the house and out of the ordinary, I take tons of pictures. I normally do this anyway, without Instagram in mind, but having IG gives me a bonus reason to document everything. That way, if I have a really fun party weekend or road trip, I can have lots of material for posting throughout the week. This isn't lying, especially if you use a tag like #latergram or #throwback. You don't have to say "I'm here right now, woo" when you're really on the couch in your pajamas, but you could say, "Loved this fountain in Vegas" or whatever!

Have any other ideas? Feel free to share with me on Facebook or Twitter! Happy 'gramming!
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