Seeking Serendipity

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ser-en-dip-i-ty |ˌserənˈdipitē|

noun

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: a fortunate stroke of serendipity | a series of small serendipities.

 

I have spent a lifetime of holidays in Charleston, with the exception of a few in Maine and Budapest. That being said, Baltimore for Christmas has never come into the light as a possibility  for my mother or myself. Until this year. We switched up our routine, and ventured to our “home” of Baltimore for Christmas.

Christmas has been frankly surreal. I have found myself nostalgic, as I reminisce of my Charleston traditions and yet incredibly content with my Christmas joy. Without having any holiday experience in Baltimore, I found I had no expectations for this Christmas. Christmas 2015 was reinvented by spontaneous activities and a series of unusual events.

I was having a brief holiday catch-up call with one of my best friends when I realized something. It is good to switch it up. For most, holidays are consistently the same. The same people, places and ordeals. I feel that mixing up this tradition is healthy. It is helpful for my mother and myself as I continue to grow into routines of adulthood and she adventures. We can change our plans, like my little family did, but also plans can change on us. Future holidays may be unpredictable. Adapting to these changes while maintaining a good attitude is crucial to keeping up with a positive outlook on life.

There have been spontaneous movies, adventures, drinks and coffee dates. Time spent in my house in Baltimore. Cuddles with my stinky pugs. Lounging with my sweet mom. I’ve been gazing at Baltimore with fresh eyes, attempting to seek out the cool, new and quirky. I have enjoyed holiday traditions with a different set of loved ones and a Baltimore holiday spirit that I’ve yet to participate in the past. It is primarily the people that make this Christmas particularly enchanting, as it should be. The traditions of my past Christmas’ in Charleston could make me sad. They could make me miss people, food and places. Traditions. Dressing up. Endless parties. But what good is focusing on that, when I have all this joy sitting in front of me? Mika my faux baby sister is curled up on the couch, worn out from her wild pursuit of constant adventures. I spent nearly all of my Christmas eve, on the couch. Curled up with my mom, Mika or Lulu and happy as a clam. Sweet moments and new traditions add a bit of sparkle to my memories.

I would not label this Christmas in Baltimore as either “good,” or “bad.” It is honestly neither as it is the first of its kind. I am happy to feel submerged in love. My abs have been sore from laughing  and eyes watery from hours of movies. Christmas in its entirety was peaceful.  Discovering serendipity this week was undoubtedly realizing that putting myself in situations where I must adapt to my current surroundings are benefiting me far more in the long run, even as I soak in the bliss of this holiday adventure.

Xo, Hannah
Happy Holidays!

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Photographed by: Ruut DeMeo, RMD Portraits  | | Hampden, Baltimore, MD

Wearing: Vintage Sweater found at Hunting Ground (Similar here, here & here) H&M scarf (Similar here & here), FRAME Denim Le Skinny de Jeanne Britton, Matt Bernson Tundra boots & Linea Pelle purse (several seasons ago, but it has held up well!) 

Sparkle

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Sparkle.

Last Monday, I was off to an anxious, stressed and emotional start to finals week.

I wandered to a local coffee shop to flip through emails, complete a paper and hopefully relax a bit. After my brief encounter with my almond chai, I hustled home in full stride with music blasting in my earphones. I paused before I entered my home. I have a new neighbor. A new shop by my house. A sweet boutique. A stellar owner. Her face is warm, hugs inviting and smile authentic. Fine, I will walk inside for a hug. I bee lined for her arms, avoiding eye contact entirely. I nestled into the perfect hug, and my glasses quickly steamed by my hot tears. “Is everything okay?” Caroline asked. “I am stressed. Anxious. Emotional.”  Caroline quickly ushered me to a comfortable seat and handed me a candy cane. Armed with motherly solace, she is equipped for anything.

Before we began conversing to discuss my emotional state, she said, “I just want you to know how loved you are.” Caroline met my mother this past weekend, and they adored each other. “I saw the way your mother looked at you Hannah, she loves you unconditionally. You are so loved.” I accepted her sweet words of encouragement but trembled as I recalled school’s harsh reality, “I am genuinely fearful of failing an exam.” I sniffled, holding back tears in fear of damaging a fresh coat of make up. Caroline’s words were perfect. Her comfort continued as she repeatedly told me, “You are more than a grade.”

Why is it that love is reassuring? The power of love never ceases to astound me. As she comforted me, I glanced at my tattoo, mom’s words whispering, “I love you,” in the midst of my anger with temporal frustrations. “Hannah, you are more than a grade,” Caroline did not stop with her encouragement. She continued to build me back up, “You sparkle Hannah. We all know it. We see you and you sparkle.” I do not know if I smiled, teared up or just shut my eyes in acceptance of this genuine love. At some point in the conversation I just laid my head on Caroline’s lap, like a dog begging for a head rub. Caroline carefully patted my back, her kind words flowing, and love filled my heart to the brim. The support of her words and touch, enabled me to forget the possibility of failure.

Throughout the morning, previous to my encounter with Caroline, I prayed for the Lord’s comfort. I asked for peace for the week, but begged him for temporary relief of my anxiety. I have experienced several recent doses of love directly from God. However, I find great comfort in the arms of those around me. Physical touch is crucial to my emotional health. Odd, but it is me. I need hugs, snuggles and head pats. Instead of God soothing me in alone time, He did what He had to get me into the arms of His love. Letting Caroline be a vessel of His compassion, was incredibly kind of Him. I joyfully accepted the love I received. The tangible relief of falling into a hug. Caroline’s motherly love and empathy. The sweet reminder of listening to words I know to be true but struggle to believe during a time like finals. Finals hurt my heart. Finals challenge not only my learning disabilities, as well as my anxiety and emotions.

“You Sparkle,” my heart instantly melted. It was affirming, yet again, that something might be seen in me than more than the identity of being a student. I am in fact more than a grade, I am more than my GPA, and I am more than a student. I am much more than a student and I hope to known for that. I hope to be known for hugs, love and laughter. I hope to known for being my true self and settling for nothing less. Including, restraining from the self-deprecating thought process whilst enduring a difficult course. It was a joy to hear that I might sparkle to someone around me, I am undeserving of such a compliment but whoah did it tickle my heart. Authenticity. Transparency. Human’s like it. It is relatable.

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Sleeveless turtlenecks can be paired with a short or long sleeved tee. Long sleeves create the illusion of a full sweater, while short sleeves allow the turtleneck to hold attention.

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Grandmother’s pug featured in le blog post. Pugs are the best accessories. I love a good prop, especially a silly one.

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Mastering the art of the turtleneck tuck. Slip into your turtleneck, leave your hair inside the sweater and slowly pull front pieces to frame your face.
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Momma’s words always with me. Xo. P.S Did you hear that naked nails are trending this winter? Giving my nails a break from gel, but missing polish.
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Golden hour and natural curls. Only a few products to tame the mane but tough to beat with the current humidity in Charleston!

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Miss new bootie. All about my new thigh highs! Winter must have.

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Photographed by Davy Kesey | | Charleston, SC

Wearing: Madewell turtleneck, Piko Tee w/ lace trim (similar), J Brand coated jeans (last season but similar here ) Stuart Weitzman Lowland Boot in black suede found at Charleston’s Bob Ellis, similar boots here, here and here.

Wearing the Pants with Grace

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Wearing the Pants, A love series for the fiercely independent.

“Wearing the pants,” is most frequently used to describe who dominates a romantic relationship. This Valentine’s season, I am talking about “wearing the pants,” while interacting with daily life.

Beginning this season of love, I want you to know how I feel about Valentine’s Day. If Valentine’s Day is not for you, then this post is. I can choose to A: not like Valentine’s Day because I am not in a relationship, or B: continue to adore this season of love because I love, love.

Obviously, I chose B. I have loved love for as long as I can recall. I love loving others and I adore being loved! I was a born and raised snuggler. People who do not hug or snuggle, choose to snuggle me. I am loving and lovable gal I guess. Valentine’s season celebrates love. It of course stresses romantic love, but I choose to focus on the real life love. I surround myself with real life love every day. My friends are my love, my pugs are my love and my mom is my love. I believe in Valentine’s Day. I believe in Valentine’s Day because it celebrates what I enjoy most about life; love.

Choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year in the hopes of expressing your love to the people you care about. Choose to celebrate a holiday with grace, instead of resentment. Choose to paint your nails pink. Choose to eat lots of candy. Choose to bake chocolate cake with your friends. Choose to love.

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Pardon my french but… I love the $hi+ out of you.

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This week, I ventured to one of the most stylish spots on King Street to snag some cutie pie pieces. The Finicky Filly.

It is a shopping experience to pop into the cute shop, so unfortunately they do not have online shopping. Have no fear, Finicky makes up for it with the Brown Box. The Brown Box is a unique creation. A little box of hand picked goods arrive at your home, and you have five days to try on and return anything that is not to your liking. If I was brainstorming ways to make my life more glamorous, it would be adding this Brown Box goodness to my mailing list.

Thankful to work with cool places and meet great people. Good things happening babes!

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Got your eyes on this baby? Keep an eye out on Finicky’s IG for a VA VA VOOM giveaway!

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Candy Gazing…

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Ermagerd getting candy in my ears and neck rolls!!

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Happy season of Love my babes!

C/O The Finicky Filly in Charleston, South Carolina: Joie Blouse (same top dif. color & same color dif. top), J Brand Pants (available in store), Tory Burch Purse (similar & similar), Madewell Heels, Lat & Lo Necklace, Urban Outfitters Candy

Pictures by Brett Tighe Photography 

Frugal Flannel

Personally and spiritually I have been struggling with frugality, where and when are purchases appropriate and what use do I have in mind when I am in the process of a purchase. I have every intention of staying up to date with trends, but that also means living in a continual cycle of shopping, but when is shopping unhealthy? As I have matured I have realized that shopping does not satisfy my soul, it no longer fulfills questionable feelings and distressed emotions. With that, I am discovering the blessings of blogging and collaborating with my fellow creatives. One of the reasons I moved to Charleston, was to blossom creatively and expand my horizons, meeting and collaborating with Charleston creatives is fun and rewarding.

Working with Peyton William Jewelry, was fun and worth the time to speak with the gals at the jewelry boutique and make the effort to communicate. I recommend reaching out to people that interest you- it can challenge your work and encourage your soul, meanwhile you are building a relationship and assisting new acquaintances.

Collaborating is satisfying. Helping a creative along with nourishing my blog feels better than a self-satisfying endeavor. In any passion, it is not intended for an individual; life and work is better with others.

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Rawr. That expression of mine is vicious.

So I bought this flannel in August, and I have been waiting to unveil it in a blog post. So I chose a simple, put-together ensemble to show a casual yet sophisticated flannel pairing. Obviously my current favorite jeans are a part of the look, alongside fabulous jewels via Peyton William Jewelry and the obvious tote of choice.

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Digging tactile bangles- jewelry that doubles as a form of entertainment.

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Relaxed boyfriend fit. J Brand, have I told you how much I like you?

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Is it even yours if you don’t monogram it? Probably not, you mangy thief.

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These kicks are perfect. Slip-on’s, sneakers; super trendy. All forms of shoes are great actually, feet are nice when they are protected with some layer of “do not worry your feet will be safe.”

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Pictures by Davy Kesey

Rails Flannel, J Brand Jeans, Gap sneakers, Louis Vuitton Never Full , Peyton William Jewelry, Ray Ban Sunnies