52 Thoughts | Honestly


Note: I originally posted this on Wednesday night, and shortly thereafter made it private. The link stayed in some feeds, so on Thursday I deleted it. Then I thought about a little more, realized some people might be in the same boat and appreciate they aren’t the only ones, so I decided I wanted to share it after all. 

Today the sun came out for what seems like the first time in a week, and just as we’ve been under clouds weather wise, I’ve been in an emotional funk. I don’t even know if I can say I’m out of it, but here’s how I’ve been feeling lately. 

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been incredibly jealous of my peers. This pregnancy has been difficult on my body, but also very much so on my mind and emotions. I’ve felt blah, which makes me not want to socialize, which in turns leads me to feeling lonely, so I go online, only to believe that everyone else is having more fun, wearing better clothes, drinking better coffee, gaining more clients, etc. And what’s really sick is that I know I’m doing it and I know that it makes me feel bad about myself! I’m aiming to fix this by a) not getting online as often and b) identifying what kind of interactions bring me joy and narrowing down my attention to those people and comments. I know life is good. I know my life is good, so no need torture myself by being jealous of other people’s achievements! No one is posting that stuff to make other people feel bad (right?! oh god, I hope not at least!) 

Perhaps it’s part of the pregnant body’s chemistry, but I’m also really irritated, moody and defensive! When combined, this make me feel like a huge jerk! I have been an impatient parent with my son and snippy with my husband. Thankfully, those guys love me and put up with it. I hope being aware of being such a turd helps me to not be a turd. 

I’ve also come to realize that when my mood is low, I have a very hard time feeling creative, which is vital to my daily happiness. Chicken and egg, right? If I don’t do something artistic, I feel unproductive which adds to feeling depressed. Again - blah! This makes it especially challenging to produce content for the blog that I’m proud of. When I don’t want to get dressed, get inspired, write or share, it makes me wonder why I keep up with this at all. (It’s because I do love it, at least when I’m in the right state of mind)

Finally - as I mentioned above - I know that a lot of these things are tied with a mild depression that’s related to my pregnancy and how my hormones changing. I say mild because there are some measures I can take that do make me feel better, and I work towards those. I also have days when it doesn’t feel mild. It feels like I’m drowning in my own tears. On those days, there’s no amount of gratitude or exercise or fresh air or toddler kisses that can fix things. Those are just blah days. Blah days that are a chemical and hormonal disruption in my brain. I’m glad I can see that and understand it to some degree, although I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone else.

I’ve been reading online that a lot of people have felt like the atmospheric pressure (spiritually speaking!) has been pushing down on us. Are we all going through one big collective blah? I don’t know! So anyways, that’s how I’ve honestly been feeling lately. Please don’t judge or lecture me (or if you have the urge, keep it to yo self). I’m not going to put this up on instagram or facebook and I’m not asking for comments or a pity party. I just felt like I wanted to get it all off my chest and doing it has really made me feel a lot lighter. And please don’t mistake sadness for a lack of gratitude. It’s a common misconception that when you feel like this, you can just flip a switch and count your blessings and everything will perk up. Those things can help, but it’s akin to telling an asthmatic to just take a deep breath. It’s all part of a process and it’s different for every. single. person. working through it. 

To end on a higher note - one good thing that’s made me so happy (and given me chills every time I hear or read it), is this poem, which has been on an Apple commericial during the Olympics (my favorite lines: In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same). Here’s to tomorrow’s happiness, my friends. 

Human Family by Maya Angelou

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

52 Thoughts | Enough

Enough. Black Lives Matter, Gun Sense, Moms Demand Action

Are we terrified enough yet?

Last week my family and I headed north, to a cottage on a lake just over the Michigan border. We planned to disconnect, get back to nature and focus on each other for a low key vacation. We did that and it was a nice trip. 

But even in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t escape the tragic news that filled my facebook feed day after day. 

On Monday, I read of our humble little town’s Fourth of July parade and the float of men holding machine guns, passing out 10% coupons alongside candy for children. People were terrified.

On Tuesday, I read of young people witnessing and filming the murder of a black man asking What did I do? What did I do?

On Wednesday, a women livestreams the aftermath of her boyfriend being shot by police during a traffic stop.

Days later five police men are shot during what was otherwise a peaceful protest.

Last month I sobbed while watching the news after 49 gay men and women were gunned down in a nightclub.

Enough hate crimes, enough mass shootings, enough systematic racism, enough gun violence and enough with the “thoughts and prayers” and social media hashtags. They’re a good place to start, but if we want safety, peace and equality in this country, we, meaning you and me, the stay at home mom, the young career woman, the empty nester, the college student, WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION.

I’ve spent the last month feeling sad and angry, unsure of what I can do and if it will make any difference. If we all sit on the sidelines, we can be sure things are not going to change for the better.  So where do I start?

Get organized. Research before you vote. VOTE. Treat people who might look or love differently than you with compassion and kindness. Educate yourself. Do not underestimate how their lives are significantly more difficult than yours just because of the color of their skin or the people they love. If you have the means, use your dollars to support victims’ families, campaigns against gun violence and organizations striving for equality, like the NAACP and The Human Rights campaigns. 


One group I’ve learned a lot from is Moms Demand Action. It’s opened my eyes to my own state’s laws regarding gun control, who I can contact, how to write letters to our government representatives, asking local businesses if they’ll ban guns on their property, etc. It’s made me feel like I can be a part of a solution. Your local chapter should have similar resources for you. 


Months ago I did a recap of the policy stances of different presidential candidates, but next up I’ll be looking into my local elections. Indiana is doing a BAD job on guns (my big problem are war-time weapons like semi-automatic guns) and I don’t want to see them during the local parade or at city parks (both legal!) I don’t want them near places children play or where people drink alcohol. But that’s something our state laws allow, so I need to know who supports those laws and who is working to amend them to ensure my safety.


In November, I’ll vote for candidates with gun sense, who champion gay rights and who acknowledge the huge race and class separations in our country and are working towards changing them. Voting is a hiring process and you’re the boss. Let’s elect people who aren’t bought by the NRA and who listen to the voters. Even if you’re not excited about our presumptive presidential candidates, do not sit on the sidelines, especially for your state and local elections!! I’ll never stop reminding you that 100 years ago, women didn’t have that privilege. You do. Don’t waste it. 

Guys, I don’t have this figured out, but I’m heartbroken and terrified and angry and I cannot stand for any minority - black people or any people of color, gay people or any religion to be targeted or treated less than the human beings they are. I can’t turn on the news to another mass shooting, or hate crimes or of black people being shot by police. I can’t deal with little kids accidentally shooting their siblings. I just can’t let this happen and go on with my life as if it hadn’t.  I think it’s fitting to share one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., especially when we’re feeling so small and helpless.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. 

So I’ll talk about inequality and gun sense and I’ll act on it.  I hope you will too. I’ve had enough. 

52 Thoughts | None of My Business


Lately I’ve been ruminating on an incredibly powerful idea: It’s none of your business what other people think of you. 

A year ago (or even six months ago) I wouldn’t have been able to embrace this. I do care what people think of me. Or I did. I’m still vacillating between caring and not caring. But this concept has been knocking on my door for a while and I’ve been seeing signs to embrace it.  The first time I saw it was in a celebrity interview in a glossy magazine. Yeah right, I thought to myself. Pass. Moving right along.

Then while reading Big Magic, I saw it again. It’s none of your business what other people think of you. In this context it made a lot more sense. Big Magic is all about embracing your creativity. About enjoying being creative. And if there’s anything I see myself as, it’s a creative person. 

I’ve noticed something lately - I’m really hesitant to share anything online. I sit down at my computer and start writing in a really defensive tone. I’m putting up brick walls because I’m afraid of the feedback. Guys - it sucks when people nit pick you and rip you apart! Even if you don’t know the person doing it. Even if it’s online. I feel like a scared cat trapped in a box while kids throw stones at me. Not a good feeling! So something inside me has been building a fortress around my heart which totally sounds like a line from The Bachelor, but that’s what it feels like.  I’m protecting myself to the point where it’s getting in the way of being the creative person - the artist, designer, blogger, writer - that I am. 

And then the Universe put this one little sentence in front of me and it’s helping me reframe how I see feedback. It’s not my job to please the masses when I get dressed. It’s not my job to parent my son in a way that pleases other people (BECAUSE THAT’S INSANE) and it’s also not my job to try to cater to each and every person that reads my blog. Especially the people that already don’t like it (and make themselves known loud and clear). It’s also not my job to cater to the people that do like what I’m doing. It’s my job to express myself and to be creative in a way that enriches my life, that enriches my self esteem and ultimately helps me grow in my writing, my art, and as a person. It’s my job to create things that please me - both in the process and the end product. So when I stop creating purely for the act of making something and start censoring the process because I’m scared of the response, I’m doing myself a major disservice. And honestly, I’m doing you a disservice too. 

To say that it’s not my business what you think of me doesn’t mean that your thoughts aren’t important. They are. I hear you when you’re kind. I hear you when you disagree. I hear you. But what I think I’m feeling right now, what I’m wading through and working on, is being able to hear my own instincts a little louder. To feel more freedom in writing and creativity and not feel the urge to bat my lashes with compliments or get defensive with pushback. I need to just see it for what it is - a conversation - and to let that feedback have it’s place outside of the creative experience.  I need to separate the two more clearly, and as a human being, that’s incredibly difficult. I know I thrive on compliments. We all do! Negativity - no matter how it’s framed - deflates me. But if I want to continue growing artistically, I need to separate what I do creatively from how it’s received publicly. If I enjoy working on something - writing a post or sewing an outfit - does it matter if anyone loves it? Or hates it? Or does it matter more how I feel about it while I’m working on it or how I feel when it’s complete? 

Social media is great at rating your life, but what’s not great is stacking your worth against other people. Simply - it’s none of my business how many people like my dinner or my baby or my house or my outfit. My business is liking my own dinner and baby and house and outfit. I need to find satisfaction outside of an online yay or nay. I need to enjoy the act of living without approval on Instagram or facebook. I just need to live. 

52 Thoughts | Full Disclosure & Blogging

Full Disclosure on Blogs, Honesty in Blogging

I haven’t seen many posts where bloggers open up the door on how sponsorships work or talk about it directly. Readers know it’s happening, so at the risk of losing all future business for myself, I want to shed some light on the process and how it compares to the larger entertainment industry.  

When I first starting documenting daily outfits, it was purely for fun. In the process of making this site into a business, I’ve spent countless hours learning how to edit photos, write HTML code, design the layout of my site, etc. I’ve also invested in the tools, like cameras and computer equipment, to produce professional looking content.

I continue this blog because I want a place to write and showcase my projects and share my art, which as silly as it sounds, comes in the form out the way I get dressed. Producing a blog with 99% original photography and 100% original writing takes a lot of time and energy. After Adam takes my photos, I’m a one woman show! Ditto to most other bloggers. In my opinion, the quality of content on a lot of blogs is just as professional and beautiful (or even more so!) as the magazines! But where am I getting with all of this?

This site is displayed at no cost to the viewer. To justify spending so much time on blogging, it needs to make me some money from other sources. I think the majority of my readers understand this and are supportive (my survey last year showed me that over 93% of you are ok with monthly sponsorships). Writers, artists, designers, bloggers - creative people in general - all need to make money when they create things for other people to enjoy. 

Now, as a point of comparison… 

Do you notice when a product has been placed in your entertainment? Not commercials or marked ads, but the actual placement on TV or in magazines? Probably not, because unlike blogs and social media, the disclosure either comes rapid fire in the teeny tiny credits at the end of the TV show or never gets openly disclosed at all. 

Paid placement is EVERYWHERE! Did you see the Lego wall in the recent episode of Fixer Upper? Placed. That date night at McDonald’s on The Bachelor? Placement. The Coca Cola or Nike Shoes or shampoo in a movie? Placement. The “what’s in my bag” feature in magazines? Paid placement! And unless you’re looking for it, most people don’t even realize it’s an advertisement, because unlike bloggers, traditional entertainment (TV, movies, fashion magazines) doesn’t have to scream from the rooftops (or very clearly mark their posts) that there’s a behind the scenes relationship. Do you want all of your ads to be clearly labeled? As consumers, how do we define marketing versus advertising?

Bloggers are held to different standards. We must inform our readers of every gift and every relationship. We are word of mouth marketers and our recommendations are more valuable that TV commercials. We’re real people, and real endorsements hold more weight. We have a different standard to uphold - and that’s a good thing! 

Here’s how I look at it with What I Wore: I treat my readers like my friends. I wouldn’t tell my girlfriends that I love a style of jeans or a brand of boots if I didn’t actually wear them. I would never want to mislead or lie to them or urge them to spend money or something subpar. I want the same honesty in my blog. I don’t separate my real self from my blog self. I am Jessica in both places! 

Every time I get dressed and post photos I’m making recommendations. In a way, all of my choices are endorsements! So when a brand comes into the mix, it’s fair that readers would question - does she really use that? would she buy that with her own money? If I can’t say yes, it’s not a good fit. Integrity is more valuable than a big paycheck. So what happens when I find a company I love, with products I use and they want to formalize our partnership? 

Here are the three ways I work directly or indirectly with brands: 

Sponsored Posts are how I make most of my monthly income and are negotiated by the post. These can take 2-3 times more time than a normal outfit photos (back and forth with the client, product selection, photography, editing, writing, reviewing, more back and forth) Some months are reeeallly slow and some months are more busy based on the nature of consumer spending (January, June and July are light while May, Sept and December are busier). I like to keep the ratio of non sponsored to sponsored content at 10:1 or less. Contractually I can’t give you a specific dollar amount per post. I’m not a millionaire, but I do ok. 

Affiliate Links are between $0.05 and $10 per item purchased (sometimes, very rarely, up to $40) depending on the price of the item referred. I like to make my own graphics most of the time, so the process can take up to an hour or more for each post. When I use these I’ve either purchased and used the product myself or am considering purchasing it.

Banner Ads account for between $0.006 and $0.00025 each time you see one. That’s less than a thousandth of a cent. After the code is in place, this takes no extra time each day but is dependent on a high volume of page views which come from updating the site with new material regularly. These are labeled advertisements, not endorsements, and I work as hard as I can to make sure they make sense with my site.

None of these revenue streams are a solid bet. There’s no salary or guarantee I’ll make any money unless I work for it! When I took time off after having a baby I didn’t have a paycheck to fall back on, because self employment doesn’t come with traditional benefits. Let’s talk about those…

A lot of employees get things like health care or company cars or expense accounts. At my old job in NYC I had benefits too - free clothes, international travel, paid vacation and sick days, etc.  If you’re lucky, you might even have your maternity leave paid for (but probably less likely if you’re an American woman… I’ll rant on that another day). Point being, when you’re employed you usually have benefits. For me, it might be a surprise box with coffee pods and cookies. Or a keychain or shampoo or makeup. It’s fun and exciting to get a little gift in the mail, but I think it’s fair to acknowledge that if you’re working, you’re probably getting benefits of some kind. (Self employment does offer other perks too… these are just a few!) Anyways… back to sponsored posts! 

In the eight years I’ve been writing my blog, I’ve worked with a lot of brands. I get to highlight a product or initiative and I want to be authentic when I do that. I believe it’s fair to tell you, the reader, that there’s a relationship between my blog and a brand when I write about them.  I want my posts to be honest and give you guys an insight into why I use and like those products. I also think it’s fair that I earn a living from the work I do. Clothing, beauty, home goods, baby stuff, travel and DIY challenges are all things that make sense for me. When ever the budget allows, I ask the brands if I can have an extra to give away to one of you. I want to navigate both business and blogging gracefully. 

Let’s circle back to the beginning. I don’t expect that every other person writing a blog will unveil how they run their business. I don’t think they need to! I do think it’s great that most bloggers are so forthcoming about their relationship and disclosures, which isn’t the case for so many other kinds of entertainment. So in a way I’m writing this post because I want to give kudos to the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of bloggers that are doing it right. I have so much respect for the creative ways writers weave in partnerships on their sites. They’re honest and upfront and they also deserve to be fairly compensated for creating their content - whether it’s directly from a brand or indirectly from banners or affiliates. 

I’m so grateful I can earn a living doing what I do. I genuinely love my job. The creative expression I’ve had in just the past three months alone has changed me as a person. More on that soon! I know it wouldn’t be possible without understanding readers. Or cool clients who support my creativity and point of view and sponsor those efforts. 

I’m thankful to both.