Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People

Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People - offbeat + inspired

I believe that the most beautiful things happen when our walls come down. It’s scary and painful, but it lets us breathe and live. It leaves us vulnerable to all kinds of hurt, but those hurts can strengthen us and grow our roots deep and strong if we let them.

A lot has happened over the last few years, breaking and challenging me to the core. I’ve wanted to share the story as an exercise in openness, but didn’t have the courage. I started small, with the brighter side…the hope that swelled up and the healing that began. I’m overwhelmed by that part, but the only reason that part is beautiful is because of the brokenness. The underside. The truth about how seemingly impossible circumstances can be. It’s transparency about the dark things that helps us connect to each other. It’s letting people see the mess, letting them witness how powerful hope is in the face of hardship.

Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People - offbeat + inspired

Joy and freedom can be faked, and they are regularly, especially online. But true joy and freedom are real and relatable. It looks like a human being swimming in imperfection and realizing they’re not alone. Realizing that they’re not meant to sit on the sidelines and be a spectator of all the adventure, creating and dreaming. Scraped up knees and rough edges only make us more beautiful. We were created with an ability to stand by each other, love, create, share, encourage, support. Fake selves are too weak to do any of that.

Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People - offbeat + inspired

So in the interest of being more true, I’m opening up about some of my real struggles for the first time, and where the hope came from. I know I’ll go deeper as the healing continues, but for now it’s baby steps. The story is live on Free People’s blog today and I am so honored to be working with them and the RiSE Festival on a mission that resonates so deeply with me.

Head over to the FP blog for the full read and to find out more about RiSE. You can even enter to win tickets! It would be so amazing to see you there, so please do enter.

Brokenness, Hope + a Journey to RiSE with Free People - offbeat + inspired

I would love to hear your thoughts on openness, brokenness and bit of your heart or your story. Please share in the comments below!

All the looks in this post are from Free People (links below). Video and photos shot by Kappel James Cloninger.

[looks + links from top to bottom]

1. Extratropical Dress + Koda Brushed Scarf

2. Byron Boots + Shapeless Denim One Piece + Downtown Girl Henley + Iona Patterned Cardi

3. Tattered Up Shred Slip, Slippers (discontinued) + Iona Patterned Cardi

4. Byron BootsWeekend Boucle Kimono + Dupont Patterned Over the Knee Socks + Double Bolo Chain Choker

Hard Lemonade Glazed Cupcakes

Hard Lemonade Glazed Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired

I’ve spent the last week hopping around New Jersey, taking moto adventures through the northwestern hills and lakes, visiting with family and friends, and remembering all the things I love so dearly about my home state. I got to stay at my aunt’s house on Lake Wawayanda, and it is the epitome of a perfect summer retreat. The backyard is unreal. Hammock naps, reading on the dock, storytelling around the fire pit…SO perfect for hot days in mid-August.

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Dreaming of Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes in Tulum!

Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes - offbeat + inspired

I’m in Tulum right now and I can’t even begin to describe how surreal it is. Mexico, for most of my life, had been this intangible exotic thing that I celebrated subtly with a love for taco trucks and simple margaritas. Now I’m in a city where there’s a mezcal bar every ten feet and the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life are being slung on every corner for about 40 cents a pop. I’ve also learned that swimming pools, lakes and oceans do not hold a CANDLE to cenotes when it comes to a day of swimming.

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My First Trip to Miami!

My First Trip to Miami! - offbeat + inspired

Well it’s been FOREVER since I posted and I’m really sad about it!! I’m still alive!! The short story: I’m moving to a new city (more on that soon! :O), I’m at a new workspace, I’ve been taking on new projects, it’s been a total whirlwind! Sarah shared her big announcement a few weeks ago and it’s such a bittersweet thing, but we’re both so excited to continue sharing our life adventures with new perspectives (her new blog!), new inspiration and LOTS of recipes. So I’ll just jump right in. My most recent adventure/project is what I’m sharing today…my first trip to Miami (what? why had I never?) on a SUPERFUN collab with Starwood Hotels.

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Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography

Boston Cream Pancakes + iPhoneography - offbeat + inspired

It’s been forever since I last posted, so I’m long overdue for some life updates and serious recipes. I’ll start with a recipe because pancakes. (Life stuff soon though because soo much exciting stuff has been going on!!)

Anyhoo, if you follow me on Steller or Instagram, you may have seen these decadent little things already. If not, I hope you’re in the mood for some intense spring brunching and a recipe that takes pancakes to a WHOLE new level.

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A Fruit & Veggie Hashtag Takeover

A Fruit & Veggie Hashtag Takeover - offbeat + inspired

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram soaking up the visuals like a sponge. My feeds are loaded primarily with food. A few things happen when I stare at beautiful food photography for hours on end — I want to cook, I want to shoot, and I want to eat. The eating thing is usually what happens first. When all I’ve been looking at are rainbow cakes, brownies loaded with candy and every flavor of French macaron known to mankind, I’m most likely to pig out on sugar and butter. Less than ideal, I know…so instead of fighting the urges (and cavities) on will-power alone, I decided it would be wise to follow more health-focused foodie accounts. Not so surprisingly, it became MUCH easier to eat well when I was taking in all that fresh, green goodness instead of just “junk”. The link between what I was looking at and what I was eating was so obvious that when I learned about the campaign Bolthouse Farms was doing to get people hashtagging more health foods and less junk foods, I flipped. Loved it. So let me explain cause it’s SUCH a cool project.

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GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

GF + Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - offbeat + inspired

I love making friends that share my gluten/dairy intolerances. I hate that they have intolerances because of how fun intolerances aren’t (wouldn’t wish them on anybody), but it’s just awesome to be able to feed my crazy ingredient-ly (??) acrobatic recipes to people who will appreciate them for their health benefits as well as their flavors, and say things like, “WHAT?! I don’t have to stop eating ACTUAL cinnamon rolls?!” No, dear friend. No…you don’t!

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Eggnog “White Russians”

Eggnog "White Russians" - offbeat + inspired

Winter cocktails are my favorite. They’re so cozy and rich! The thought of a cold glass of milk punch or eggnog makes me want to gather all the ugly sweaters I can, make one giant super sweater and climb into it with all my friends while we watch cheesy holiday movies and get warm by the fire. Yes, I’m weird, but you have to admit that sounds pretty amazing.

I’ve never actually crafted my OWN winter cocktail though, so this year I wanted to try a twist on the White Russian. I love the “grown up chocolate milk” aspect of this drink, so I stuck with that and changed it up a little bit by using eggnog instead of cream. It’s such an easy alteration, but the results are SO good. Hangar 1 Vodka with its authentically fresh, clean flavor pulls the whole thing together and gives it a perfect kick.

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A Jackson Hole Journey + Adventure-Style Cocoa

A Jackson Hole Journey + Adventure-Style Cocoa - offbeat + inspired

One of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring adventures I’ve ever been on happened about 2 months ago in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Before I get into all the details, watch this highlight video! (I am SO excited to share this with you guys…)

How it all came together is kind of surreal, so I’ll try to keep that part brief without leaving anything out. The Jeep brand had been on the hunt for a few social media influencers to bring out to Jackson Hole to experience the mountains and the community, all from behind the wheel of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Of course they wanted us to get to know the vehicle itself, but the whole thing was supposed to be more about an adventure. One that created memories and stories — the kind we would take with us and share over and over again. So when they initially reached out to me and asked what things I would anticipate doing in a setting like the Grand Tetons, this was me.

In that moment, I dreamed up my ideal visit to Jackson Hole.

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H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style

H&M + Fearlessly Curating Your Own Style - offbeat + inspired

My love for H&M has everything to do with this key combo: quality x options x price.

It can be overwhelming walking into a store with dozens of sections devoted to every possible mood. It’s like being asked to choose a personality for yourself on the spot with a debit card screaming at you from your purse — which is kind of genius on their part because my inner monologue always goes something like this: “Am I preppy/outdoorsy? Yes…but I also have yet to find the perfect LBD, which means I should go to the ‘party’ section. Vintage is always fun, buuut that classic European vibe over there is something I’ve always wanted to try out.” And after a few rounds of that, the inevitable, “WHO AM I?” and then, victoriously, “WHOEVER I WANT TO BE! PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT…SELF!” This whole thing happens while I’m still standing at the entrance, mind you. Fast forward 2 hours, and I’ve burrowed through all the sections, raided the dressing room and emerged with an armload of personalities to test drive in the real world.

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