Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Failure, New Beginnings, & the Unknown

*this post is more on the personal side, so if you just come here for the outfits, please come back tomorrow for another style post :)

I had someone say one of the most insulting things to me the other day: "Every time I see you, I regret for you that you dropped out of grad school". 

Woah - hold up stranger!
Full House How Rude photo tumblr_l5znxxrMfR1qasd8x.gif

It is true, my WHOLE life I saw myself growing up to become a "scientist". It was my dream to go to Vanderbilt & get my PhD in biomedical research & then one day use that degree to either teach college, or lead a pharmaceutical research team. I jumped at the chance to move to Nashville in 2009, & my life totally revolved around grad school for the next 3 years.

Somewhere along the way, I lost the passion. I had a lackluster mentor who didn't believe in me, & that doubt began to sneak under my skin as well. He regularly asked me how I expected to ever make it in the world of science as a woman. The last 6 months of grad school, despite working together in the same research lab, my mentor acted like I didn't exist. He would chose to talk to me through emails first sent to our lab manager, & then forwarded on to me. And in the end, instead of "toughing it out", "putting my nose to the grind stone", "proving him wrong", I decided to pivot (anyone else watching Silicon Valley - hilarious, but I digress!). I had always wanted to teach, & why not intersect with students earlier than college!? I started to research how to use the skills I had been practicing in grad school to teach Middle to High School students in Science. 

I decided to pull the shoot, & started to quietly work behind the scenes to withdraw from grad school with my Masters. My program doesn't usually award Masters degrees, with students going from a bachelor's to a doctorate directly. But with almost 4 years of research experience, the department eventually awarded me a M.S. - even though I had to keep it secret from my mentor while I was writing my thesis (he seriously excelled in being dramatic throughout the entire process). 

On one of my last days at Vanderbilt, I had already signed up for a talk about using a PhD to teach in secondary schools. I didn't want to go, I was basically in free fall, & I didn't want to be around people who were getting their PhDs & going on to great things. I'm pretty sure they were offering free snacks, or I would have never gone. 

At the talk, there was a vibrant, passionate woman speaking about the local charter school she had just founded. I was entranced. After the talk I went up to her & told her that I wanted to come & work in her school, to get more first hand knowledge of the amazing things she had been talking about: serving a newly immigrated population of students, growing students 2 years for every 1 instructional year, working hard, seeing big results. 

The next day I went in for an "interview" & began working for her the following week. I found a way to use my Masters to get a teaching certificate in 1 year, while teaching (will be getting that in the mail this May!) & everything quickly fell in to place.

I quickly ran away from the toxic environment at Vanderbilt, & head first into a new career.

To note: around this same time Tyler & I were getting married, & also moving. Holy stress.

I have never been more satisfied in a career path as I am now. 

Is it the most difficult thing I have ever done? YES
Are there days when I get up at 5 am, work until 6 pm, & then come home to only work until 12? YES
Do I regret giving up my dream of the PhD? YES

Truth is, I am still angry that I will never be a Dr. Jessica. I am still frustrated at the roadblocks that I have faced. I am jealous that my husband will eventually finish the program that we started together.

But on the other side of the coin, I am proud to be a teacher. I am proud of myself for taking action in the face of difficult situations. I am proud to support my husband with all of his amazing feats.

In the end, it is bittersweet. Do we ever know how it will all turn out? Looking back, isn't the journey more fun that we though?

So to the rude stranger, please do not waste your pity & regrets on me. I am thriving in the here & the now.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bloggers Who Budget: Stripes For Less

*I was provided a complimentary subscription to Rocksbox, but am truly hooked! Sign up using my code and get your first month free! "HEREANDNOWLIFEXOXO"

It's time again for Bloggers Who Budget! This month we are sharing our favorite striped pieces! This is hands down the most obvious section in my closet. I just counted and I have striped pieces. However, I do have a favorite striped child, and it is this top! Currently on sale at J.Crew Factory for only $24.50! Be sure to check out these other striped ladies below!

The most common theme in my closet - stripes!

Some of my favorite striped items have been heavy hitters on the blog. Including this Old Navy wide stripe dress, this fit & flare striped dress,  my J.Crew Factory striped skirt, & then this breton stripe top that I am wearing above. It is my current go-to outfit starter. I love the cut, the fabric, & the weight! Totally one of my top 10!

Speaking of The Top 10 Remix. I am still on the bandwagon (see the first post here). 
Curious to know what my top 10 items are? See below & click to see how I've worn these  pieces in the past.

9. Knife Pleated Skirts (own it in mini, midi, and maxi lengths)

Again, these aren't necessarily the things I wear most, but the things that feel the most ME every time I wear them.

What are your top 10?
Check out the Top 10 Remix visionary's blog here: Sarah's Real Life

Shop my favorite striped tops for less:

Shop my favorite flared jeans (at all price points):

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Shopping: Spring Favorites

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

Whether you are looking for a little or a big update to your Spring wardrobe - this is what I am currently loving! That lace skirt is next on the purchase list for sure!

Monday, April 13, 2015


{ What I Wore: wrap dress ℅ Shabby Apple // J.Crew Panama hat // DSW booties (similar) // bracelet via Rocksbox* }

As you all know, I have been working on building my Teacher Wardrobe. Finding what works for my new lifestyle of bending over to pick up dropped pencils, reaching up to write on the white board, standing on my feet all day, all the while trying to not expose too much around a classroom of 12 year olds. This means no low necklines, saying good-bye high hems, & avoiding straps that aren't wide enough to hide my bra/under garments. 

I have purchased things from Shabby Apple before (like my fun tulle skirt!), but now I am perusing their website with a new filter - stylish workwear that keeps me comfortable & polished all day! And while this is a little thing - I adore that they show their styles on women wearing mostly flats. I try to bust out my comfiest pairs of heels once or twice a week, but I will mostly be wearing any of my work clothes with flats - so I appreciate seeing them styled that way.

I am currently in a wrap dress phase of my life & instantly fell in love with the fun colors & print on this one from Shabby Apple! I wore it with black flats for work (even got a compliment from our rockstar principal!) & then will heels and my weekend hat for Saturday adventures around Nashville. This dress has earned a front row spot in my closet!
What pieces have been the major players in your work week style?

Get social with Shabby Apple: Pinterest // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

And be sure to check out my Teacher Style Pinterest Board with lots of stylish teacher outfit inspiration! 

this dress was gifted to me by Shabby Apple, but all reviews/opinions are my own. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lenny + Eva

I enjoy supporting brands that truly have a beautiful & inspiring story. Lenny + Eva products are empowering & made by a special team - based right here in Tennessee!
be sure to check out this amazing line (online or in stores) & enter to win your own gorgeous bracelet below!

Find Lenny + Eva on social media: shop // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram 

a Rafflecopter giveaway