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No matter where I go, no matter what city I find myself in…this place will always call to me. As distant as I get from it at times, as disconnected and disillusioned as I can be, running around the bustling metropolis that is San Francisco…I find myself always longing for a little taste of the mountain air, for a moment with the sun and the sand and the icy water that seems so impossibly blue.

I find the call of the mountains and the lake particularly difficult to resist during the summer months, when I find my various social media feeds flush with photos of glimmering water and sun-soaked beaches and the smiling, suntanned faces of the friends who stayed.

I was able to take some time off from work and make a pilgrimage to the lake. My cousin was getting married and my mother’s entire family had descended upon the South Shore and it seemed irresponsible to not come up and supervise, so I took a week off work, packed far too many outfits, and boarded a bus bound for Reno.

I stopped at the Wild River Grill in Reno’s revitalized River Walk area for a glass of champagne (or two!) to kick off my vacation. I had a simple but delicious sandwich, and listened to Alabama Shakes’ album,  Sound & Color while the heat of the desert pushed the air through my hair. It felt like the first moment of summer vacation. My mom picked me up and we drove up the mountains, cresting the summit to the glimmering expanse of the lake spread below us. It’s a sight that never gets old, never ceases to make you pause and appreciate the wonder that nature has wrought.

I spent the majority of the week running around in dirty cut-offs and breezy tops. This particular pink number gets a lot of play, both in vacay-land and in my regular life. It’s the perfect button down and has re-ignited my love of over-sized vintage button downs from the 80’s and 90’s. I tried to get in as much time as possible with the woods, the water and these two great, furry beasts. The black lab is my brother’s spirit animal, Zeke, and the golden is my mom’s fur-baby, Nate.

I did get dressed up for the wedding, but, as expected…only managed to capture one mediocre image of my wedding attire…it’s on instagram, if you’re so inclined. As I said, I packed entirely too many outfits, considering that these shorts and my bathing suit dominated the sartorial spectrum this week. I cannot be blamed. summer in Tahoe is an exceptionally casual affair.

Back in the city and I’m reminded how important these times are for me. How essential to my spirit and my mental health retreating to the woods is. I am so blessed to be able to return to this place, to always be able to call it home.

Outfit Details | Shorts :: Thrifted | Shirt :: Thrifted | Sandals :: Seychelles 

Threads + Thoughts | On Why I Choose Vintage

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Recently, while creeping on Elizabeth’s blog, I came across a post she did on ethically made clothing. In this post she discusses our cultures obsession with fast fashion and instant gratification. She expresses concern over our societies consumption of items we neither value nor hold on to for any real length of time. It is disposable fashion, cheaply made by underpaid and poorly cared for workers in a sweatshop half the world away.

I had already hastily banged out the first draft of this post when I then encountered a post by Ellie of Thrift Eye, which introduced me to this video…which got me to thinking more about why and where I shop the places I do.

I choose vintage and thrifted items for a lot of reasons. When I was a teenager, just discovering thrifting, I was in it for the price tag. Bang for your buck? You ain’t seen nothin’ till you’ve scoured a thrift store with me. I could go in with my measly tips from my hostessing shifts at a local restaurant and walk out with a whole new wardrobe. And cute shit for my room to boot. But I also loved turning other peoples garbage into gold. I guess it’s a tendency I’ve had since I was a kid, dumpster diving with my brother in the apartment complex my dad lived in to pass the time (gross, I know. I spent a lot of time unsupervised as a child). I found an odd sort of beauty in these discarded items. Birthday cards and thumbed-through magazines, old clothes and children’s toys. They were still, fundamentally, what they had been designed to be. People had just gotten tired of them, and so they were abandoned to a garbage bin, a dumpster, a landfill.

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Fortunately, I grew out of the whole garbage picking thing (sort of*) and fell in love with thrift and vintage stores. I think for me it’s the history. There is a certain mystery to a thing that has known a whole lifetime before you. It’s the same sort of feeling I get when I walk through a museum or an old building. There are stories here, imbued in these objects, encapsulated in these things that most people treat so callously.

Perhaps that is sentimental of me. Perhaps a bit materialistic. But in a world where an island of garbage exists in the Pacific Ocean which is believed to be twice the size of Texas…perhaps we should reconsider our policy of “out with the old, in with the new” and have a little more concern and care for the objects we populate our lives with.

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I’ll admit, I’ve spent my fair share of change at places like Forever21 and H&M. Urban Outfitters still makes the best fitting jeans I’ve ever worn. But lately, my conscience has been nagging me. It’s not just the environmental impact of our gross over consumption which disturbs me, but also the social implications of an industry which capitalizes off the poorest and most desperate populations in order to produce it’s goods.

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And this is true for much more than just our clothing. This sort of shady business exists in everything from the products we use in our home to the food we put in our bodies. I don’t want to be a part of it any more. I don’t want to give my hard earned cash to companies that do terrible things, mistreat their employees, lie to and manipulate their customers and generally contribute more to the worlds ills. I’ve made it a general policy of this blog to only feature independent artists, designers, and craftspeople. All of my wish lists are pretty much exclusively curated from Etsy, and that has been a very intentional choice on my part. I wanted to use whatever limited influence I have to direct people towards spending their money on indie business, to send their hard-earned cash to someone who was working equally as hard as them…not to some wealthy CEO kicking it on a yacht in the South of France while Indonesian children sew together cheap tube tops for their company. That’s not what I believe in, those aren’t the business’s I want to support or condone. I also believe that there is a way to dress fashionably and affordably without having to go through the likes of F21 and H&M, and that investment pieces should be investments because their really effing cool and well made, not just because they have a fancy designer name.

So, I suppose the point of all this pontification is that I want y’all to take a long hard look at your closets, at the places you spend your money and where those dollars go. Do they support local, independent business? Do they go towards pieces you really love and will wear for years to come? Or are you throwing your cash at conglomerates who design and manufacture pieces that are intended to fall apart/fall out of style within six months of purchase. And I want you to ask yourself why? Why buy something that every fifth girl you run into is going to be wearing? Why buy something that is so transient, they didn’t even bother to make it well? Because it’s cheap? Because it’s trendy? Swing by your local thrift store and you’ll realize all that cheaply made 90’s throwback shit they’ve got at F21 is available there for $3.00 and it’s actually from the 90’s.

Allright. Rant over. Here’s a gratuitous booty shot to lighten things up.

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:: outfit details ::
white cami :: vintage :: thrifted | denim skirt :: vintage guess usa :: thrifted | shoes :: reef :: thrifted | leather back pack :: vintage :: thrifted | braided leather belt :: vintage :: thrifted

Threads + Thoughts | Changes of Scenery, Changes of Pace

There is a strange juxtaposition occurring in my internal life now. This odd fissuring of who I was and what I want to be creating an anomalous sense of instability. I suppose I write this in part to define this sensation to myself, as well as to others. I’m only just beginning to comprehend how drastically and suddenly my life has transformed (as it often does) and exactly what that means.

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I grew up in the mountains, on the shores of a lake so big and blue it’s sometimes called “The Lake of the Sky.” I grew up playing in the woods, beneath towering pine trees, in the coarse sand of a dozen alpine lakes. I spent summer nights under stars that burned bright silver in a velvety, blue-black sky, the milky way strung across it like a gossamer veil. I walked home under those stars in the freezing winter, the only sound my own breathing and the crunch of my boots on the snow. I grew up with camping trips and bonfires and hours of hiking trails. With snow days and hot chocolate by the fire place and socks damp from snowmelt. My legs were always covered in scratches from running through the brush in shorts. My arms were always sunburnt and freckled from hours spent beneath the high, hot summer sun. I built forts by the river and spent autumn evenings writing in my journal on a rock in the middle of it’s lazy flow. My youth was an idyllic one, I must admit, with a closeness to nature that made the woods a sanctuary and the wilderness a church. But by the time I was in high school, I wanted nothing but to flee the silence of that cathedral. I wanted light and sound and motion. The rush and press of city streets and the chatter of a thousand voices lulling me to sleep each night. Thats the life I imagined for myself when I was a restless, angst-ridden teen, adrift in a town where I didn’t really connect with anyone. Those were the years I dreamt of San Francisco and New York and a career as a fashion designer or magazine editor. I had grand schemes of a cosmopolitan life full of glamorous parties and beautiful people and opulent clothes. I wanted art and music and lavish parties attended by interesting people from all over the world. I wanted to drink in all their stories, all their varied experiences. I loathed my small town and what I deemed to be it’s small-minded people. I was convinced I belonged elsewhere, in some bright and glimmering city.

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Now I want something somewhere in between. I want the art and culture and creativity that I found dripping off the walls of San Francisco’s multi-colored victorians. I want the community and collaboration of living around a bunch of like-minded people; artists and musicians and writers and creatives of all varieties. I want a bold art scene, a raucous music scene, a plethora of culinary options to choose from. But I also want stars over my head and the quiet of the deep dark night. I want early mornings with the mist on the mountains and the sun creeping across the window panes. I found my soul depleted by the constant noise and rush of the city, by all those people, all those stories, all the endless things to do. I found myself strangely overwhelmed by it all and there was a longing for that old peace, to escape to the solitude and silence of the woods once more.IMG_2616

Ojai is it’s own little bubble of juxtaposition, a tiny town nestled in one of the few East-to-West running valleys in the world. It’s considered by many to be an energetic vortex, and is well known for spiritual retreats and it’s artsy-hippie residents. I have the strange sensation of being called here, summoned by some external force whose intention is still unclear. Before a few months ago, I only knew of Ojai peripherally, vague mentions of this beautiful place from friends, the suggestion that “Ojai and you would get along famously” from a dear friend whose grandmother lives here. And then, as I got closer, the word Ojai came up again and again for me. In books, on podcasts, in movies, in passing conversation with strangers and friends. J visited Ojai with his mother while I was working in San Francisco and he called to tell me “You will absolutely love this place.” As soon as I set foot on it’s soil I knew, this is where I want to be. Everything about it felt so right, from the towering mountains that ring the valley to the eclectic citizens that roam the streets, I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with Ojai.

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I wake up every morning to the sound of roosters crowing and I watch the sunlight stain the mountains outside my window. I go to sleep each night to mockingbirds songs. I took these photos on my porch, as the sun slipped down towards the horizon and the valley filled up with gold. The contrast is sharp to where I was only a year ago, with the sound of the city right outside my window. I am sometimes still surprised by it, the strangeness of how drastically my life has changed in the space of a year, but I also find myself exuberantly happy. Thrilled each morning to wake up in a place so naturally beautiful.

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outfit details | knit top :: thrifted | woven leather belt :: vintage | blue high-wasted shorts :: vintage | flats :: reef

Threads + Thoughts | Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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Oh, hey there, Internet. Good to see you again. It has been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry I went all MIA on you. But look! I’m compensating with a photo of me attempting to look sexy and smirky in this rad little shift dress I scored on a Thrift. It’s the perfect weight, length and cut for summer, plus it’s super versatile and looks great paired with damn near anything.  I have a feeling I’m going to be rocking this well into the autumn months (though
 the entire concept of seasons in Southern California is sort of a joke). 

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To be perfectly honest, part of the reason I am so few and far between on the outfit photos is because they are really hard for me. I feel so silly, primping and preening for the camera, even now, after all this time. Even when I have someone else to take my photos, I feel so stilted and unsure of myself as soon as I sense the lens on me. I suppose there is an element of insecurity, the worry of how I look. There are still days where I struggle to like my appearance, still days where I worry that I’m an ugly girl and that self consciousness is particularly keen when I’m in front of the camera.

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A part of the reason I started my style blog was because I realized I avoided cameras. There are huge chunks of my youth in which not a single photo of me exists because I hated having my picture taken. For years I would either flee the room or pull a face whenever a camera pointed in my direction. I still have a hard time smiling for photos, because I think I look like a complete goober when I smile. Hence the eternal RBF (Resting Bitch Face) in all my photos. I know how silly that is, particularly since I spent 2.5 years in braces and get compliments on my smile all the time…but it’s just one of those things, ya know? There’s probably some carryover insecurity from the Before Braces era, when I was a snaggle-toothed little kid who covered her mouth when she smiled.

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I’m still coming to terms with the way that I look. Every day there is the comparison, the concern that I am not pretty enough or not as pretty as someone else. I rarely doubt my own intelligence or sense of humor, but my looks? That is something I am constantly questioning. As I was editing these photos, that nasty, inner critic we all have started doing it’s thing. Gosh, your face is boring. Shouldn’t I have a thigh-gap? Are my knee caps fat? Why in gods name am I concerned about the fatness of my knee caps?? It’s all so silly and trivial and superficial. Who am I comparing myself to? Whose standard of beauty am I not measuring up to? Why am I enforcing that standard on myself?

Recently, the ever lovely and encouraging Gala Darling posted this image on her Facebook page and the sentiment hit me like a fistful of glitter. Just stop. Stop comparing yourself to other people, stop evaluating yourself based on someone else. Here’s a little secret; you never measure up. So just stop doing it. It reminded me of another quote I love, and one I’ll leave you (and my inner critic) with.

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Dangerous Thoughts | The Stories We Tell Ourselves About Our Selves

Annija Muižule

I recently happened upon a post on my sweet cousin, Katheryn’s blog, Good Life Road, in which she talks about her “ideal self”, a concept I’m sure most people are familiar with. An ideal self is the you that you wish you were. It’s all the best parts of yourself and all the things you wish you were and none of the bad ones. It’s the person you thought you would be when you were five. It’s the girl you imagine yourself to be when you’re feeling particularly pretty or clever or powerful.

I write about this person sometimes in my journal, a third person account of my idealized future self. I have entries as far back as my early teens describing this person. Anecdotes of what she is doing, somewhere in the future as she goes about her day, how she keeps her hair or what her apartment looks like. It’s funny, because this girl, this woman I’ve invented who I hope I look like someday, well, she still looks incredibly similar to the woman I imagined I would be when I was a teenager.

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She’s strong and smart, independent and charming. She is the kind of woman you would want to be friends with, the sort of person people enjoy talking to and being around because she radiates warmth and positivity and reminds them of their own potential and beauty. She takes care of herself, eats well, exercises, dresses in a way that is uniquely hers. She does her own thing, and though she has many close friends, she is often on her own. She likes it this way as it gives her time to think, which she does entirely too much, some might say.

Her mind is constantly abuzz with ideas, thoughts, little snippets of stories she is going to tell one day. She can be a bit dreamy, but when she brings her awareness down from those swirling clouds of imagination, she can be unnervingly observant. She spends a great deal of time wandering, taking photos and journaling in cafes, scribbling down these thoughts and observations. She draws well enough and sometimes in the margins of her notebooks are the faces of the people around her, the people inside her head. There are moments she is as clear to me as my own reflection, and I love her and I want to be her so badly… Sometimes I think that I’m getting there…and other times I’m filled with the dread that she is nothing more than a fiction in my head. An unattainable illusion that I’ve created to comfort or torture myself with.

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Is it weird that I envision myself like that? Like a character in a story I am writing? I don’t think that She is me at this point in my life, but it’s who I would like to be, who I hope to be someday soon. I suppose She is the person I hope others perceive me to be. I hope to be the sort of person you might describe in that way. Maybe it’s a part of that whole manifestation thing I’ve always sort of adhered too. If I will it, it will be; so to speak. I’ve always sort of had this secondhand narration of my life going on in my head anyways, a strange sense of watching myself from another persons perspective. I suppose it’s the wannabe film star in me that does this, or perhaps the writer, or maybe it’s my own weird brand of narcissism…or it could be the early symptoms of schizophrenia. It might be all four. Either way, I firmly believe every good story needs solid narration, and maybe if I can explain it eloquently enough my life will be the epic adventure I wish it to be.

Does anyone else out there do this? I think it might be more common than I realize, especially in this era of blogging and social media. We are constantly narrating our own story in a digital format, through Instagram posts and Twitter updates, whose to say we’re not all doing it internally as well? The stories we tell to ourselves, about our selves are ultimately the identity we hold, right? So maybe it’s good that I see my future self as this wonderful, warm, happy and well balanced person…because maybe if I keep seeing it that way, that is how it will be.

Images via Annija MuižuleLaura Leal and Tara Niami

Dangerous Thoughts | Don’t Forget To Ask “Why The F*ck Not?”

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I’ve been having this thought a lot lately. Reconsidering these strange notions I have about what I can and cannot do. The limitations I put on myself, for no other reason than I am afraid or unsure. I’ve realized that most of my life I have allowed by doubts and insecurities to get the best of me. I’ve allowed a sense of crippling inferiority or inadequacy to dominate so much of my life that I find myself, at twenty six, utterly and completely adrift. My goals and ambitions put off and self-sabotaged by a serious lack of self esteem and commitment.

But lately. the narrative in my head has changed a bit. I am suddenly feeling compelled to ask this question; Why not me? Why can’t I have everything I want? Why can’t I achieve the goals I set for myself? Why haven’t I allowed myself to be the person I so desperately want to be. And, invariably, the answer is always just that. Because I haven’t allowed myself to. Because I’ve allowed my self-doubt and insecurity to trample my intentions and ideas. Because I’ve put aside my long term goals for short term pleasures. Because I haven’t really pushed myself past the procrastination and the uncertainty and allowed myself to see just what I am capable of.

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I’ve read a million and one self help articles, I’ve consumed every magazine I come across that promises to transform my life and make me into the person I ought to be, and while I’ve retained some valuable information that will surely help me along the way, I havn’t gotten a step further along that path. Why? Well, the answer is both incredibly simple and incredibly embarrassing. There is only one reason I’ve not achieved every thing I’ve ever imagined for myself and it’s Me.

There are aspects of my personality I am not proud of; a tendency towards laziness and procrastination. A stubborn streak that makes a mule look obliging. A short fuze and a fiery temper that burns straight through the filter on my brain, so that I say things in anger that I usually regret later. A generally poor sense of self confidence and a serious issue with perfectionism and fear of making mistakes, or worse yet, failing. This all ties together into a lovely little package of anxiety and self doubt that has made it nearly impossible for me to finish or achieve anything. I am constantly second guessing, putting off, or talking myself out of projects and ideas which might, if given the proper attention and effort, be wildly successful. I become so consumed with minutiae and getting every little thing perfect, that no real progress is ever made. I grow frustrated easily, my impatience for results or immediate gratification frequently results in a “well, fuck it” attitude that’s gotten a whole lot of nothing accomplished.

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So, this quote from my girl Mindy Kaling is my new mantra. Why the fuck not me? Why the fuck can’t I go after what I want? Why the fuck can’t I do and achieve and be any goddam thing I want? Give me one good reason….and then I suppose the key is to ignore my overly critical brain and just go and do the damn thing. So maybe I’ll mess up. So what? At least I will have tried. At least I will have given it my all. That’s worth a hell of a lot more than just holding all these ideas and ambitions in my head and not doing a thing with them. It’s certainly more satisfying.

PS; Pardon all the cursing, I’ve got a wicked potty mouth. 

Images via ShopAnnShen, Adam Trageser, LoveThisPic

Dangerous Thoughts | Allowing Yourself to be Weird Enough

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I was always the weird girl. From early childhood I felt like an outsider. I was a dreamy, bookish kid who grew into a shy, awkward adolescent. I was picked on a great deal in elementary school and middle school, and thus developed an intense sense of inadequacy and loneliness, which stayed with me well into my twenties. For a long time I believed there was something fundamentally wrong with me that made others dislike me, so I spent a great deal of my youth suppressing what I perceived to be my weirdness. For a long time I went through life with this filter installed in my head that dictated what I did and did not say or do. It stopped me from being too outspoken, from expressing my true desires and interests or speaking out against something I disagreed with. I was so desperately afraid of being judged, of being ostracized and alone again, that I would convince myself that my ideas and ambitions were stupid, that my passions and hobbies were pathetic and pointless. I would lie awake at night, going over and over in my head every stupid thing I had said during the day, every tiny detail of myself that didn’t measure up or fit in was ruthlessly picked apart by my brain, until I hated myself as much as I feared the rest of the world did.

Needless to say, this sort of behavior and thought patterns were exceptionally detrimental to my well being. By my teen years, I had constructed a very elaborate shell around myself, an image I projected to the world of what I believed was socially acceptable. I quit drawing, writing, singing, acting, reading anything besides the fashion magazines, which only served to shore up my insecurities with impossible imagery of “perfect” female forms to compare myself to. I smothered the playful, curious and creative side of myself in favor of what I believed were qualities people wanted to be friends with. I used alcohol as a crutch, “Social Lubrication” I would joke as I slammed shots. It was the only way I knew how to let go and be myself. No act, no facade, no stilted and self-conscious conversation.

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It is only recently that I’ve begun to accept myself, to embrace my weirdness and my innate sense of strange, but the mask has been in place for so long I’m having a hard time finding the seams. It reminds me a little of this Goosebumps episode I watched as a kid, where this Halloween mask takes over this kid and he can’t get it off. My mask of “normal” has sealed to my skin. So many years spent hiding behind it and it’s become a part of me, something I can’t remove at will any more. I worry sometimes that that mask has suffocated my Weird Girl. That by neglecting her for so long, I let her die, alone in the dark behind the walls I started building when I was still just a kid.

She’s not dead, but she’s weak. She’s been there the whole time, peering out from behind the mask, waiting for the moment I realize how silly it all is, this game of charades I’ve been playing. Trying to be something other than what I am. But I’m realizing that she’s still there, buried under insecurities and anxiety, to be sure, but still alive. I can see her in my sense of humor, my playfulness and desire to constantly explore the world. She’s alive in my love of music and art and words and in my desire to connect with people on these topics. She is the part of me that reads too many political and feminist blogs and who mourns for the world with every piece of bad news. She is also the part of me that watches adorable cat videos and random acts of kindness and feels with great conviction that the human race is worth saving, that we are capable of wonderful and beautiful things.

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I suppose the point I’m getting at is that you shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed of the parts of you that don’t fit neatly into a box. People want to parse you up into pieces that are easily digestible and convenient, but human beings are neither of those things. We are strange emotional, mercurial creatures, capable of both incredible beauty and horror. We are complex and contradictory and it is only through this convolution that we are capable of creating, of evolving, of becoming more as a species.

I’m still learning to embrace my Weird, to not be ashamed or embarrassed by my eccentricities or idiosyncrasies. To stop apologizing before I articulate an idea or thought, to express myself creatively without being concerned what others will think. To allow myself and others the opportunity to really get to know me, without judgment or inhibition. To recognize my value in and perspective on the world as an individual, flaws and all. Learning to stop comparing and contrasting myself to my peers and even strangers is unhealthy, unproductive and downright insane. It accomplishes nothing besides making me feel horrible about myself, so why do it?

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So, I guess what I’m getting at is let your freak flag fly, dudes. It’s the weird ones who have always made a difference, the ones everybody laughed at in kindergarten or didn’t get picked in kickball. It’s the people who have stood outside the circles and seen the way they shift who have really made an impact on the world. Sometimes, all it takes is a different perspective, and if everyone were the same–normalized to the point of being indistinguishable from each other–there would be no innovation or creativity or change. And imagine where that would leave us. Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone looked and thought and acted the same.

 Silhouette Calligraphy by Pommel Lane 

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