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

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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Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles

Autumn Layers | Anthropologie, Free People + Block Shop Textiles - offbeat + inspired

If I have any say in this at all — fall has arrived. It’s decided! This morning, I woke up at 6AM and it was perfectly chilly outside. My sisters and I had plans. We were going to eat spiced pancakes, drink hot coffee and watch the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls while the sun came up. We did, and it was wonderful.

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Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5

Outfitted | Elizabeth Cauvel of MasterChef Season 5 - offbeat + inspired

Meet Elizabeth! You probably already know her because she’s kicking butt on MasterChef Season 5 right now. The girl just made top 3! Hashtag awesome.

How we met is kind of crazy. She had been following offbeat + inspired for about a year prior to the airing of MC5. I found this out because fellow Lexingtonian and early MC5 competitor, Dan Wu, told me that when Elizabeth found out he and I lived in the same city, she flipped! Well I flipped too. We all flipped. Before I even knew she was a fan of the blog, I had picked her as my fantasy BFF from the show. Naturally, Dan and I lured her to Lexington with the idea that the three of us should host a MC5 dinner together. [I posted all about the dinner here!]

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Lexington Love | Adventuring With Ruthie

Lexington Love | Adventuring With Ruthie - offbeat + inspired

This is the most exciting time of year for me. Especially this year. I’m settled in to the downtown apartment — a gorgeous, old 3-story building on North Limestone. Our little nook is on the third floor above Le Deauville French Bistro, across the street from a blooming school courtyard. The city is popping with color now, which means it’s time to break out the list of springtime shenanigans and start hacking away. One of them was to have my dear friend Ruthie Lindsey come up from Nashville for a visit! If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love this girl. Goofing, laughing, heart-to-hearts, dance parties, music listening and exploring — all part of the typical, wonderful craziness.

When she pulled into town, we only had a vague idea of what the next 3 days were going to look like, but knew we were going to spend one of them shooting everything we possibly could. Ruthie’s personal style is just one of the hugely inspiring things about her, so we decided to show a few of her favorite looks in a few of my favorite Lexington locales. The rest of this post will serve as a photo journal of that day with outfit and location credits. I just love showing off this little city, especially alongside one of my favorite gals!

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Loving Libby Story [and a Giveaway!]

Loving The Libby Story Shop [and a Giveaway!] - offbeat + inspired

Spring and summer. Every time these two roll around, I swear they’re my favorite. Flowers, ice cream trucks, baseball, picnics, hiking, road trips with open windows, reviving my 90’s alternative mix CD’s (not sure why, but *always* at this time of year) — love. Dressing for all that adventure is half the magic. I’ve been collecting lots of flowery skirts and airy tops lately, mix-matching and layering while the weather stabilizes. Over the last few months, as I’ve been feeding my Instagram obsession with my springtime obsession, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming friends with the adorable team over at Libby Story.

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Fashion For Your Face + A Giveaway [Featuring Rowley Eyewear] (Giveaway Ended!)

Fashion For Your Face + A Giveaway [Featuring Rowley Eyewear] - offbeat + inspired

Frames: No. 99 in “Tortoise” [Mr. Powers by Rowley Eyewear], Lip Color: Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss in “Temper” (dupe for MAC Lipglass in “Caqui”, discontinued)

All the girls in my family wear glasses. Except me. I’m not sure why I lucked out with the decent set of eyeballs, but being a daughter of 1 and sister of 2 ocularly challenged females, I’m familiar with the frustrations of finding stylish and affordable frames. Since glasses have been on my fashion radar for the past few years, I’ve realized that even though their sight-improving abilities are essential — as a pure accessory, I’m obsessed.

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A Giveaway (actually 2!) With Katie Dean Jewelry


I’ve been overdosing on Instagram lately. Seriously. Just when I start to wonder if it’s gone to unhealthy extremes, I stumble across a beautiful feed that turns into a new kindred-spirit sister-friend and all my faith in Instagramming as a permanent (necessary) fixture in life is renewed. I met Katie Dean of Katie Dean Jewelry this way only a few short months ago. She left some lovely comments on my pictures, and when I browsed her feed and checked out her shop, I fell in love. She’s sweet as can be, stunningly gorgeous, uber talented and stylish, and has made quite a name for herself in the jewelry world. Her pieces have been worn by all kinds of celebrities and have popped up in shows like Parenthood and Glee! [I passed out a little when I saw them in Parenthood. Tad bit obsessed with that show.] Basically, GO GIRL!!

Katie’s style is such a perfect mix of bold and understated. She creates adorable, on-trend statement pieces as well as chic, delicate basics that you’ll want to live in. I’ve completely fallen for the Wrap Arrow Mid-Ring and the Light As A Feather Earrings as dailies, and when I want to go more playful or edgy, the Wise Warrior Necklace and the Forever & Always Bracelets have become true favorites. [All pictured in this post!]

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Outfitted | Ruthie Lindsey

outfitted | Ruthie Lindsey - offbeat + inspired

“Outfitted” is a new series focusing on fashion and style. For each Outfitted post, I’ll be featuring someone I find utterly inspiring. It isn’t just clothing that stands out to me when it comes to personal style, it’s how garments, makeup, footwear, accessories and the like can be curated with careful and thoughtful intention, and then put together to express something deeper about the wearer. What’s communicated is what draws me in. This series will document that. I’m thrilled to devote the inaugural Outfitted post to my dear friend, Ruthie Lindsey of Ruthie Lindsey Design.

Ruthie’s style is relaxed, earthy and “free”. I adore her use of neutrals with unexpected pops of color and texture. She mixes vintage, one-of-a-kind items with solid basics from favorite brands. I love her ability to gather simple pieces and pair them in unexpected ways to create sweet and cohesive looks. There’s surprising beauty and so much to explore within simplicity. New life can be given to old things. Ruthie communicates this sense of freedom, renewal and adventure clearly from head to toe, and I love it!

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Holiday Gift Guide + Favorites

Holiday Gift Guide + Favorites - offbeat + inspired

I can’t believe how fast Christmas is coming. I meant to put a gift guide up WEEKS ago, but time flew and now here we are, only 2 weeks out. I decided to mix up this little roundup with some of my absolute must-haves across multiple categories so you can find something for (almost) everyone. I also figured, since time is running low, I might as well illustrate the entire guide. Smart? No, but time management was never my forte and it was fun to make so I hope you like it! Ok, let’s go.

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