Thoughts, Prayers, Policy Change & Action.

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We live in a bubble world on social media: don’t say this, don’t say that, be this, don’t be that. It's something even I have battled with. Especially where growing my business is concerned. But I am one person, not 2, and one thing is for sure, I can’t pretend to be something I am not. I have a voice within that refuses to be silent. Not everyone is going to like my voice, that's reality, and there will be people who won't want to do business with me because of it. That is quite fine, we don't have to appeal to everyone to be successful and do what we love. 


As often as I pray and believe in something greater, I know enough to know thoughts and prayers don’t change things, it is we who are moved to change things. Prayers are not magical spells, nor are thoughts. We live in a crazy time. We are more self absorbed than ever, desensitized to the point that it will take a mass shooting to affect our own lives to finally believe we need change. 


Well, one happened pretty close to my hometown yesterday, one involving children. It has really ripped me up, I tried to avoid it and keep going on like nothing has happened, just to keep my sanity, but my sanity is never worth the cost of my silence.  

WE NEED CHANGE!

I have grown up around Christian society my whole life, I believe in the power of prayer changing mans heart, but after that it is up to us to do the work. Fortunately, this is because I was raised by a woman who never kept her mouth shut, raised me with the good of the religion and taught me to think for myself and to speak up. I remember asking her when I was 16 and we were learning about voting in school to prepare us for adulthood:

“Mom what are we? The donkey or the elephant?”

She looked at me and said:

“Honey WE are not a thing. You are your own woman. You have to make that decision for yourself and one of the most important things to remember is that you don’t have to be either.”

That conversation set the motion for an independent thinker.

Unfortunately, prayers will do nothing for gun violence without action. That’s just not how prayer works. You pray and then you move. I fear people don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to be seen as difficult. It’s a very "blend in, don’t stand out, remain neutral, just talk about your morning cup of coffee, how great things are, how successful you are in your career, etc." climate. I just can’t pretend that is who I am, while a mother, father, brother, sister, friend, wakes up to unimaginable horror. We all have to wake up and realize it can affect any one of us. Knowing it’s affecting someone else, should be enough to demand change.

For anyone who happens to find this and feels the need to dispute with the typical rebuttal: "People control, not gun control.", I ask you this: If it were your children, friends, family, yourself, would you be able to confidently stand by your views? Would you have the ability to comment on other posts regarding change with the same response? It's something to contemplate as you empathetically place yourself in the life of someone else. Maybe the answer for you is yes, I don't know. For me, the answer is absolutely no. Which is why I feel the need to speak up.

Gun regulation like the way we regulate drivers licenses and call them a privilege, doesn't mean it will make everything right, but it will make a difference, a difference that could save a life. 

The Ethical Fashion Conversation Evolved: Isn't It Ironic? Who Made My Phone?

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It's absolutely important that we keep the conversation on ethical fashion growing strong, so I don't want anyone to feel that I do not support it or am attempting to discredit the good work being done.  At some point though, the conversation needs to evolve and I don't feel comfortable sitting quietly waiting until it finally does. My hope is that we can share in conversation & continue to grow together. 

I have openly shared about the lifestyle changes I have made over the course of 7 years, slowly buying secondhand + handmade, and restoring salvaged pieces, to mostly only buying secondhand + handmade, and restoring salvaged pieces, for the last 4 years. It's not something I am proud of, it's something I am passionate about and want to share with others on how they can change their lives, along with the course of other people's lives, just by using their power of being consciously aware of how and where they shop. Once we understand how connected we all are, I think it becomes impossible to not care about what's going on and not accept and take responsibility for the parts we all play in the grand picture. 

I admit, I am not perfect, I will never be perfect, there will always be something I am doing wrong and something I can do better. I do think a lot though, and wanting to be better is always on my mind. Asking myself questions on how I can grow brings me to many realizations and conclusions. 

Although I am down to majority secondhand + handmade products, my electronics are mostly new or refurbished. This has really got me thinking about my phone, camera, computer, all the products I use, ironically enough, to advocate for things like living more ethically through the products I purchase.

I began asking myself questions like:

How can I be better?
Can I do more?
Am I unintentionally being a hypocrite?

After doing some research, the answer to these questions were:

Yes. Absolutely, yes. 

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I use an iPhone & a MacBook, I am Apple's biggest fan. I love my Apple products. They are the best in my mind. Sharp, tasteful design, reliable, great customer service, so really it never occurred to me that they might not be manufactured ethically. I unintentionally avoided seeking the truth, because I just wanted to believe the best, was the best. 

I couldn't have been more wrong. You can check your products on The Good Shopping Guide. The iPhone scores one of the lowest ratings on the ethical company index, with a score of 48, and scoring a bottom rating on human rights.

How can I in good conscious continue to support that?

How can we in good conscious continue to support and advocate for one industry regarding its ethicalness, while completely ignoring and disregarding another's, all while using our blood-soaked products to do so?

Really let that sink in...

We advocate for ethical fashion, using our unethical electronics to do so. 

Wow. 


The big questions we really need to be asking ourselves and answering honestly: 

How can & will we do better?

Are we really demanding & wanting change, or just interested in the "feel good–making a difference" marketing + monetization of ourselves/blogs/businesses? 

 

Something to contemplate:

We really have to speak up and out more. We aren't meant to sit quietly waiting around for change or excusing the need for it away. We have to be bold to start tough conversations and keep them moving forward, not just continuing to repeat the same conversations over and over again, because they are finally considered socially acceptable. 

 

Things we can do right now:

Don't Ignore it. Don't push the guilt down. Don't wait for it to be a bandwagon trend. Talk about it now. 

Keep the conversation going. 

Use the products we currently have to continue to educate ourselves.

Educate each-other, without judging or attacking. We all work at a different pace and conversation requires mutual understanding and healthy communication to move forward. 

Share this post, link back to it, write your own. 

Create your own educational materials to Tweet and share on Instagram. Build your own community and use hashtags to help spread awareness: #whomademyphone

Determine if you really need an upgrade on a product and if secondhand is possible, give it a shot. What we purchase and choose not to purchase, really says a lot and is what packs a punch in the industry. Use your purchasing power and let's make some dents. 

The more common the awareness, the more pressure is placed on an industry. That's how change is won.   

Old Soul Anthology: Don't Be Afraid To Start A New Chapter

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You have your own voice meant to fulfill your own purpose. Your own gifts and talents waiting to be released. People will do and say things similar to you. They will think similarly. They will even do things better. But no one will do it quite like you. 


You are meant to connect with people and reach people others have tried, but have failed because they were never meant to. We all interpret very differently. What I say may not ever phase you, but that just means it wasn’t meant for you. Doesn’t mean I should stop what I am doing and not continue to reach those waiting to be reached.

I always like to think in terms of science when I feel doubt about starting new chapters, because someone else out there already had similar ideas or was working on similar projects I had passion for. I couldn’t imagine living in a world where brilliant minds didn’t enter the world of physics to make discoveries and complete unfinished works of other’s because they felt it had already been done before or was already being done by someone else. What an even sadder and slower progressing world we would be living in. 

It’s okay to have doubts, we all do, but try your best to come to terms with them. I assure you, that nudge you feel calling to start something new won’t ever go away, it’s your soul inviting you to live a life of passion and purpose. In your own time I know you will answer, and when you do, be ready for a lifetime of exhilarating adventure. Not a life turbulent free, but a life completely free. 

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Old Soul Anthology: How You Define Your Own Success is What Matters

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We all have different definitions of what success means, sometimes we absorb other people's definitions and allow them to define us, or we fail to recognize all we have accomplished because we haven’t yet met all of our goals or have yet to live up to our own high standards.

Success for me is not one destination, it’s something I obtain everyday when I choose to recognize how far I have come and how much I have grown. When I can look around me and be thankful and proud of where I am, what I have, and who I have come to be.

This doesn’t mean I am perfectly positive every waking moment, we all need reality checks from time to time, but when I choose to see past my expectations or other people's expectations, that’s when I can clearly see that I reach my definition of success every single day.

Throughout your journey you will have ups and downs, you will have days and years where you feel more successful than others. The best advice I can offer is to not let fixed points in time define your success. Be kind to yourself and be proud of all you have accomplished. Mold your definition around how far you have come, not just where you are going or where you want to be. 

Have you grown? 

Are you growing? 

Congratulations! You have made it. You are successful! 

How do you define success for your life?

We'd love to hear from you!

 

The Beginning of Old Soul Anthology

 Our Philosophy: 

Life is a nonlinear journey, it is full of ups and downs and in-betweens, steps forward and backward and back some more. Some people have been blessed with the ability to meticulously plan out every minor detail through their paths of life, but like most of us, no matter how hard we try, one plan actually manifesting correctly, is a huge victory worth celebrating. 

Life, it’s a beautiful thing and meant to be lived differently. Whether you have the ability to plan each detail meticulously, or stumble and tumble through life gracefully, or in my case, not so gracefully, your life is full of immense beauty and worthy of celebration. 

Though, I feel this isn’t the message the world is sending out so freely. Often we are being bombarded with things that really do not matter: image, status, fortune, fame, the haves and the have nots, solely praising and celebrating professional accomplishments vs real life accomplishments. Such as defeating struggle and rising above, carving your own way out of the rubble of defeat, just to keep trying again until you succeed. These to me are the true successes of life. The successes I most value and praise. 

In a society where we are all so connected, I believe we are just as equally disconnected. Disconnected from our true selves and others,  disconnected from what matters, disconnected from genuinely connecting with people as we focus completely on ourselves, attempting to create and project this image of the faux perfect life, while we sit in the shadows alone comparing our very real and beautiful lives, to someone else's faux perfect life. 

They say to be the change you want to see in the world. I want to see many changes of course, but concerning this project: I want to see a more inclusive society. One that celebrates and fosters uniqueness and diversity. One that builds each other up, no matter how different we are or choose to be. This passion project is a love song to those that dare to be different, true to themselves and who they ultimately want to be. 

In a world where people are dimming their light to blend in, we want to encourage you to shine brightly from within. Don’t dull the most beautiful pieces of yourself, for the sake of fitting in. 

 

How the Old Soul Anthology came to be: 

I truly have a multifaceted old soul, and I have recently noticed through the years, how I have unintentionally allowed life to dull the sensitivity and depth of my soul. I have learned throughout my life, that our society doesn’t often appreciate sensitivity, or view it is a strength, but through the eyes and wisdom of my old soul, I see things, and grasp things, many often do not. To me it truly has been a gift and something I love about myself and my life. Which leaves me questioning: how and why, this of all things, is this an attribute of myself I have been able to neglect sharing and let dwindle within? Just because my views aren’t the most popular, should that mean I should stop being myself? Heck no! Especially when many people are pretending to be something they are not. This above all things, is something I should be fighting for and proud to be: completely myself. And so should you be. 

 

What is the Old Soul Anthology? 

I believe we are a world truly staved for connection and validation. We all need to feel valued, worthy, loved, and supported in our own way. Yet, somehow, we are silently struggling just to be. I believe through our fully connected lives of comparison, our need for genuineness, and true meaningful connection with each other, is only going to grow even stronger. I understand this from the perspective in which I live: I live from the soul, everything I do flows free from within, connecting the dots of life to everyone and everything, even within my material belongings.  If I am unable to connect, I see no reason for it to be within my life. I am continually looking for meaning and connection in it all. It is only when I place myself within society for far too long, I recognize how truly starved we can come to be. 

Although I am an old soul, those of the Old Soul Anthology don't necessarily need to be one as well. I believe truly doing and living from the soul is key, not just chasing money. It's also something I feel may be somewhat old fashioned or going out of style, not always encouraged, or the most "popular" or practical way to be. I want to celebrate those living life from the soul in their own unique way, even if they haven't yet reached or achieved all of their dreams. I want to focus on the hows and the whys of their passions, whether professional, creativily, or recreationally. I want to help send a new message to the world: that living life in your own unique way, taking your time to enjoy the journey and to just be, is the most beautiful and fulfilling life to lead.  

The journeys of our life's stories are the most beautiful, powerful, and purposeful, yet often, the most overlooked, hurried and dreaded part of our lives. They truly are meant to be enjoyed and savored. In the words of my sister Emilee, wisdom once gifted to me: "Don't rush your happy ending." 

Things you can expect from the Old Soul Anthology: 

Genuineness, honesty, and true connection with life and humanity. From human beings living life, just like you and me. Whether that be through our own personal stories, highlighting places we go or people we meet, or through stories of others, keeping old soul alive, or simply living through the soul. We hope to send the message that: Life is a beautiful journey worth celebrating, right now, wherever we are, not just once we make it to the finish line, or reach our monetary successes.

How do you define success?
The definition of success, is truly in the eye of the beholder.  How you define your own success is what matters.

If you would like to request to be interviewed for the Old Soul Anthology, please submit your answers to the question below. We can't wait to connect with you and help share your story! 

In what ways are you (and/or your business) preserving old soul, living as an old soul, or living out the ways of the old soul? Meaning, living in such a way that allows your passions guide the way to your purpose. 

An Old Soul's Guide To Richmond Virginia

Richmond, Virginia is bustling with wonderful jewels and gems, new and old, but my heart has a true love affair with the old – whether that be the old classic spots of Richmond, or the new spots alive with old soul.

If you are planing a trip to Richmond, or are a new transplant looking for a little of that old charm & feeling, then come wander along with us! We would love to take you on a tour of some of the places, out of many, keeping the old soul of Richmond alive, as well as having us fall a in love with Richmond, a little more each time. 

–Your Wandering Old Soul Guide: Victoria & her love Brad


Places to Wander

Libby Hill Park

A trip to Richmond is not complete without a visit to Libby Hill Park. Libby Hill is more than just a park, it's history! Not only is it the site of the scenic view that named Richmond, but it is also the perfect place to make a little of your own history. It will sure be the spot where many of you fall in love with this city. So grab a blanket, a picnic basket, and a friend to enjoy this magical place we like to call: Hobbit Town, you'll see why when you get there. 

Tip: Head out for sunset, you won't regret it. 

Manchester Climbing Wall 

There are 2 ways to reach the Manchester Climbing wall: through the Floodwall Park and the T Pot Bridge. Both are a must see, but I suggest maybe for your first time, taking the T Pot Bridge over the James River, so you don't miss this wonderful new addition to Richmond. 

The Manchester Climbing wall is spectacular. Talk about feeling like you have been transported and whisked off to some far away place! I get the feeling of Scotland, especially when I visit during fall & winter. For a moment, it is almost impossible for me to believe I am still in the city. 

Last time I went there were goats, which made it even more magical, but don't expect them there always. These are working goats clearing the brush and poison ivy.

Tip: wear shoes for an adventure, but dress whimsical for pictures. Haha!  

If you are an experienced rock climber, don't forget your gear. 

Don't miss the view of the city at the top of the wall, don't worry if you aren't prepared to rock climb, there are steps to reach it. 

Maymont

Maymont is literally the truest jewel of Richmond. It is a 100-acre park of Italian and Japanese Gardens, a Gilded Age Mansion, Nature Center, Farm, & Wild Life Exhibits.

Maymont was originally owned by the Dooley's from 1893 to 1925, and left to the city of Richmond after their death, as a gift to us all, so we could come and enjoy their estate. Who does that?! A true treasure! 

The day we found Maymont, was the day we fell in love with Richmond. It was winter and we were practically the only people there. Visiting from South Florida, I had never experienced winter, or anything like Maymont. From the second I saw the Dooley Mansion, I felt at home. Oddly enough, I identify as an old Victorian soul, so you can probably imagine why finding a Gilded Age Mansion unexpectedly, dressed up in its finest for Christmas, would make such an impact on me. I remember even saying to probably the only other couple there that day: "Welcome to my mansion!". We all laughed, but part of me was not kidding. I truly felt a piece of myself was finally home. 

3 months after that, Brad and I moved to Richmond, we hadn't even settled in yet and I said to him during the drive in: "Babe, please take me to my mansion." Maymont will always be special to me, and I hope you will enjoy it just as much as we do. 

Tips: Plan to take a carriage ride and look into their events before you come. 

 

St. John's Church  

Where Patrick Henry Gave his speech: "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!"

Where Edgar Allan Poe's Mother, Eliza Poe is buried.

Long before I could even remember the name of Church Hill, I would reference St. John's Church when reminding Brad this was where I wanted to live and where we needed to find a home. It's a long story, but when we arrived in Richmond, the only thing we knew was that we wanted to live here, other than that, we lived in a hotel, and drove around each neighborhood until we found and fell in love with Church Hill. We loved the diversity, the community, the history, historic architecture and charm. 

I would imagine myself on fall days walking around the neighborhood heading to St. John's. To be so close to history, with the ability to take advantage of it, made my heart skip beats and then some. So now it is our tradition to visit St. John's for the first day of fall. 

Tip: Visit the gift shop and purchase a tin of solid lotion by The Parsonage Soap Company. My favorite is Scottish Wedding, every fond memory of Richmond comes flooding back to me with each breath I take while wearing it. 

They offer daily guided tours. During the summer, they offer free Liberty or Death reenactments every Sunday. 

If you are hungry & thirsty: stop by Captain Buzzy's for coffee & Proper Pie for a tasty pastry meat pie, then head on over to St. John's and enjoy dining on a nearby bench. 

Hollywood Cemetery 

Nothing excites my old soul more than a cemetery, and Richmond has one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen. Hollywood cemetery is 135 acres of lush natural landscape and beautiful design. Offering a unique view of the James River and many winding paths, it is not uncommon to see locals and visitors walking and riding their bikes. I can't speak for why everyone visits this cemetery, but it is the second most-visited in the nation. It is also still a working cemetery, and although as a free spirit, I do not wish to be buried, I wouldn't mind being laid to rest here.

Did I mention I am a bit morbid?

I love walking this cemetery throughout the seasons, nothing reminds me of how beautiful, fragile, and short life is, more than walking a cemetery, while wondering about all the lives that have lived and passed before me. 

Tip: Stop by Rest in Pieces after your visit and do not skip the Palmer Chapel Mausoleum. More to see in the cemetery here

Places to Dine

Patrick Henry's Pub & Grille

I just adore Patrick Henry's. It was the first dining spot I fell in love with and I always take friends & family when they visit. To me, it is a great representation of the Richmond & Church Hill charm I adore. I will never forget the first time I saw it, I thought I was walking up to someone's row home for lunch. Once we stepped inside, I felt as if I were welcomed into someone's historic and lovely home. I always opt for sitting outside when the weather is nice. During the fall there is a large Ginko Tree outback that glitters gold. It truly is the perfect spot for a nice beer on tap and a burger – salads with steak are always a favorite too, especially during the summer. Definitely a place haunted by beauty and charm. 

Garnett's Cafe

Talk about an old soul gem of Richmond. Garnett's is one my favorite places to eat in Richmond. Owned by Kendra Feather, who has a few amazing restaurants in Richmond, Garnett's remains my favorite. Named after Kendra's Grandma Garnett:

Garnett's is named for Kendra's grandmother, Garnett Beckman. Born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1907, Garnett grew up on a farm in Dunnsville, Virginia. She took a teaching position in Honolulu in the late 1930s, where she met her future husband. They left Hawaii after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and moved to boom-town early 1940s Phoenix, where she took up hiking. Garnett lived 103 years, and hiked the Grand Canyon into her 90s.

Garnett's offers everything a girl like me desires: Soul, a story, connection to people, past and present, good food and company. It's a place I know comes from Kendra's heart and I am so happy she reached in deep, and made a way to share it with the world. 

If you love homestyle soup, sandwiches, cake, kind and thoughtful service, as well as atmosphere – you will really enjoy this place. 

Tips:

Happy Hour is $3.00 glasses of wine or pints of beer from 4-6pm. 

Date night is any 2 menu items and a bottle of wine for $30 any night after 6pm. 

Reserve a picnic basket by phone or in person, which you may borrow until 9pm. Perfect for an adventure around Richmond!

Ask if my beautiful friend Amber is working. She is a fellow old soul and without her, I wouldn't have found this wonderful place. Thank you Amber! 

Stoplight Gelato Cafe 

Stoplight, what can I say about this place, that can really capture its unique beauty? It's not just a gelato shop, It is a heartbeat of Richmond, a Mother's love, and a love song to Jackson Ward, all in one. I haven't been all over the world (yet), but I can't imagine many places like this existing. This is truly a rare gem and a must visit. Not only is it a testament to love, but the best gelato I have ever had! With seasonal favorites like: Lavender & Blue Cheese, it's unlike any gelato I have ever had, and I am Italian! If you are looking for authentic soul in Richmond, you will surly find it at Stoplight. Whenever I visit, I feel like I am visiting home. 

Stoplight is owned by the 80 years young & one of the loveliest human beings around: Barbara Given. Stoplight was a passion project between her and her son Bryce Given, but sadly, he passed before he could see his dreams flourish and come to fruition. Although, as I am sure nothing ever does, that didn't stop Barb. She completed the project to honor Bryce and the Jackson Ward community: 

"Every scoop of gelato, every sip of coffee, every pastry and sundae is made with love. The love a mother will always have for her son."

Tip: Stoplight is the perfect date night! We like to get personal pizzas and share a few scoops. 

Bonus: Barb is always there working hard, greeting every guest with a smile, treating each customer as family. If you look closely in my pic you will see her. I don't think she ever stops working! Now that is literally the most truest and beautiful labor of love. 

Thank you Barb for all you do! I hope you all enjoy Stoplight as much as we do. I am sure you will. <3 

Places to Shop

Tiny Space 

Oh Tiny Space, my sweet Tiny Space. I could fill a book with my love for Tiny Space, as well as for owners Anna & Sam. Tiny Space is truly a treasure and a gleaming example of the Richmond I fell in love with. The community, the nostalgia, the unique pieces that keep Richmond from transforming into one of those, you know... "every city everywhere" type places, like where I grew up. 

Not only does Anna & Sam have an eye for amazing, unique, and awesomely priced vintage furniture, clothing, books, decor, and other treasures, they have amazing hearts as well! I can honestly say, I have never met anyone like them. Their shop is a true reflection of their soul, and when you visit, you will take-away an experience like no other. 

There have been days that I entered Tiny Space just for some retail therapy, and left with not only a unique find, but a full heart over genuine conversation. These folks are special. Tiny Space is special. With each piece I have purchased, like my favorite red cape, I have wonderful memories attached. I have gained priceless gifts for myself and others, as well as a friendship you don't ever expect gaining from your local retail store. 

This is a must stop shop folks. 

Tips:

A great place to pick up a souvenir from your Richmond trip, or a memento of your day wandering Richmond. 

On nice weather days they have their garage door open. Come ready for adorable pups, as sometimes Anna & Sam bring their 2 sweet Boston Terriers to work. 

Follow them on Instagram to be in the know of their latest events. Often they have small concerts, and special events supporting local makers, artists and sellers. That's just the way they are. True community builders. The type of people that support everyone and make it a priority to help them live their dreams as well. 

Bonus: I am so thankful to call them my neighbor, so I may even see you around during your visit!

Gather Garden

Stop into Gather Garden after you have visited Tiny Space, they are right next-door to one another, and compliment each other perfectly. This is a great place to recharge, especially if you are feeling a bit pooped from your big Richmond adventure. The energy is always positive and refreshing. 

Gather is full of unique house plants, and one-of-a kind handmade treasures, and a place where you will always be greeted kindly and have great conversation (if you are a yapper like me, if not, don't get stressed that Richmond will talk your ear off, although, I might, so stay clear. haha!). And the smells, oh the smells are heavenly. Mostly coming from the most beautiful dried bouquets (you can read more about my love for dried florals here) and Pan Natural Goods, which owner Suzy Brockamnn creates in-house. To witness Suzy create her natural soaps and oil blends, is such a wonderful experience. There is nothing I appreciate more than getting to connect with the people making my products, if this is important to you as well, this is a place to visit and grab a handmade soap, or two, or three. Don't forget your house plant on the way out! 

Tip: Great place for a housewarming gift. 

We hope you enjoyed our mini tour of Richmond! We will be working on more Old Soul Guides like this, so if you have any recommendations of places you would like us to visit, or you feel left out in any way, please let us know in the comments below, and we will keep them in mind for our next guide.

If you fell in love with any of the places we suggested, we would love to hear about it. You can leave a comment or messages us through our contact page

Until our next adventure, all the best! 

Vic, Brad, & Friends!

© 2018 · www.ourwanderlife.com

Real Honest Tips For Living More Ethically and Sustainably Through Fashion and Decor

 
 
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I have shared in depth about my stance on ethical and sustainable living, you can read more about that here and here if you are interested, but I have never taken the time to actually address it in a proper post. It's a hot-button subject for me, one that I am passionate about, but lately, I can't help but notice the increasing eco-fashion trend taking over Instagram. Yes, trend, another bandwagon trend that is beginning to look, sound, and cost the same. A serious trend that desperately needs to be and stay, a passionate cause.

Yet, here we are, and everyday a new company or person is offering products under the guise of this cause, to help consumers feel they are "making a unique difference". Well listen up my eco-friendly friends: I am saying this for your benefit, as well as the planet's and all of earth's inhabitants – you are being heavily marketed to. If you want to truly make an eco-conscious difference, follow some of these very easy and honest tips, that will get you well on your way to making an actual difference:

1. Buy less stuff, seriously. 

Don't just buy endlessly and needlessly, and if you need something or really want something, check the thrift stores/yard sales/estate sales first. Most of that stuff is just going to end up in the landfills anyway, and that's not very ethical or sustainable.

Is it?

I can assure you, your life and style will never lack for anything or in any way, when you put secondhand first. You may even be making an upgrade in quality and style. 90% of my life is funded this way and I couldn't imagine living any other way, nor would I want to. 

2. Buy from your community.

Really making a difference includes purchasing from your neighbor, aka your local community, not just internet shopping brands like: Organic by John Patrick & Everlane. Whether it be small business local retailers/resellers/makers, literally your next door neighbor, always check there first. Not only do you keep your community sustained, but you get to know the actual people behind the businesses and products, and that is a gift in itself. It brings more meaning to the items I own when I know that the used chair I purchased from my favorite local resale shop, is helping to keep my local community member and now friend's, dream and business alive. 

I'm not perfect, and I know how hard it is in our society to not want, and I'm not at all saying don't treat yourself, or that purchasing a brand new quality made/ethically made item is at all bad, but be real about it when you do, be honest with yourself. There are other options for truly creating a more sustainable and ethical life. We have way too many people and companies more focused on peddling  overpriced ethical products, for profit or monetization, rather than focusing on, or actually caring about making a lasting difference, which in turn, just exploits the mission, the consumer, while perpetuating the problem. 

We literally are a throwaway nation, if we truly want to be ethical and sustainable, that means throwing away less, being more mindful with what we buy and where we shop, reusing what we can, recycling and reducing.

My best advice is to start small, do your research, and truly develop a passion for the movement.  

All the best! 

-Vic

What does living ethically and sustainably mean to you? Have any tips for me? Leave a comment below.

 

 

The Soul of the Castle: A Journal Entry

Dried flowers vintage curiosities journal

Maybe it's the feeling of fall in the air, maybe it's because I am a sentimentalist, maybe it's for no reason at all, I just can't seem to shake our home from my mind – morning, noon, and night, it's at the center of it all. It is the first thought when I wake and the final thought as I drift off. 

Sometimes I feel connected to what I call the Soul of the Castle, sometimes I feel we belong to one another, and sometimes I am just fine with losing everything, because ultimately, I understand how fleeting it all is. Just call me a serious rationalist with a spirit of childlike faith. Life can only be understood lived through time, and I am in no rush to know everything about mine. I am taking it one second at a time, breathing deep, and trying to focus on living and appreciating everything my journey has to offer. Comparing my journey to someone else's, is just a trip in my step towards the future. 

Since I was a child I knew the only thing I wanted out of life was the journey, the story. Money was always the farthest from my mind. Like a child dreaming of her wedding day and wedding dress, and one day becoming a princess, I never thought about those things, only about the person I would one day enjoy life with. Everything I have, and everything I have done, comes wrapped in a story, and my life has never traveled the course of the typical, so I have to remember not to focus on the typical, it's not ever what I wanted anyway.

This is a personal journal entry, so there is a chance absolutely none of this makes sense, but one day it might, and one day it might not, that's the beauty of the journey through life. Either way, I keep my plans tentative, hoping for the best, believeing in the best, while relying on faith to lead the way. 

My wish is that you long to do the same. 

I'll never know how many lives have graced Castle Wellbuilt, but I am thankful mine has been one of them. Just like these items I hold dear – my life is fleeting, my time here is limited, but nonetheless, I am rich, I am blessed. 

Just Enjoy The View

North Carolina Mountains Sunset Travel Photography Girl

Sometimes I have a lot to say, sometimes nothing at all. Today is not one of the latter... As I spent the day with Brad, enjoying our time together in North Carolina, my father & my mother were never far from mind. Every time we laughed, held hands, kissed, or talked about the future — they were there. 

All the thoughts as they enter my mind: 

My mother always wanted to leave South Florida and move to North Carolina. She talked often of her love of the mountains and dreamed of opening a Bed and Breakfast one day, which sadly she would never get the chance. Some may say my dreams often sound very similar to hers, because in a sense, they probably were hers. I am a part of her after all, so it only makes sense we would connect and share in such a similar way. 

The last time my mother and father were together in North Carolina would have probably been 2000, from what I can remember, it was for an experimental Cancer treatment. 
Now I can't recall all the facts, because maybe I don't remember, or I was just too selfish to ask, but I'm not sure off all they did on this trip. I know they tried their best to treat it like a welcomed vacation, to help ease the pain and trauma for the real reason they were there. 
I am my mother's daughter and always in my head, so I know she was most likely trapped in her own. Trying to pretend, trying to forget, that she no longer had the luxury of time I sometimes carelessly waste, because I think I will always have.

So here I am, thinking about my life, thinking about her life, wondering about her days with and without her health. 


Like a mirror reflection the thoughts bounced back. 

Contemplating too many unanswered questions, I was too naive to know to ask. 

Standing in places she may have stood.

Feeling all the pain she must have felt and all the happiness I currently feel, probably even wearing a similar outfit looking out at a similar view. 

Feeling guilty to be here while she isn't. 

Getting to leave and live where I love, while she never had the chance. 

When all the thoughts suddenly stop and silence falls, with one loud booming thought barreling through:

"Did you ever stop to think for a second, that you are just a small piece in a greater puzzle than your own? Part of your story is living out part of hers, fulfilling shared dreams. Maybe she had those desires to pass them on to you,
so you could get to where you were meant to be, to do what you were meant to do, or to share a piece of one another, that would somehow be passed onto someone new. 
The story didn't start with her, it didn't end with her, and it certainly won't end with you. 
So wherever you are, wherever you are going, however long and hard the road gets, never forget to stop and enjoy the view."

Richmond, Virginia Modern Map Art Giveaway + Review

 
 

Y'all know how much I love Richmond, and who doesn't love a good map of the places they love? When Jennifer Beck of Modern Map Art reached out to collaborate, it was a no brainer. I love what she has created - so detailed, as well as her friendly communication and the presentation of her products. This is a map that looks great amongst any decor, rested against or hung on the wall. 

But please, I do not want you to just take my word for it, which is why I am offering my 16 x 20 Richmond Map (A $59.99 value) as a giveaway. 

Just head on over to our Instagram, like, follow, comment on our Modern Map Art post, and tag a friend. If you are not local to RVA and have no interest in a Richmond themed map, don't worry, Jennifer has your city on hand in many different sizes

I hope you enjoy this giveaway or the purchase of your own map, don't forget to come back and let us know what you think! 

If you are interest in seeing more giveaways from us, let us know! We love your feedback + recommendations on small businesses to partner with. 

Have a great day!

Winner announced Friday. 

 

 

YELP RVA MADE EVENT: MAVEN MADE

Yelp RVA Made Featuring: MAVEN MADE

 

A monthly maker series of creative workshop events, featuring: Richmond, local creatives.  

They did it again y'all! This was one amazing event.

If you haven't already done so, I recommend following along with YELP RVA on Instagram, so you can RSVP to the next MADE event. This is a FREE event series, full of food, fun, creativity, and best of all: local.  

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Welcome to the second event of the monthly YELP RVA MADE series!

Featuring: MAVEN MADE

I had so much fun at this event!  Blue Bee Cider seriously has one the most beautiful event spaces around. Upon walking into the event I was greeted with a pleasant and relaxing aroma, as a diffuser of light essential oils filled the air, as well as a warm welcome from Bethany of Maven Made + Alex, & Laurie of YELP RVA. I loved the table setup of the room as well, which made it easy to find a seat and make some new friends.

Mezeh Mediterranean Grill  offered a beautiful and delicious spread. This was my first time having their food, and I thought it was really delicious. I am a HUGE fan of Mediterranean cuisine, so I really enjoyed my meal, and regretted not going up for seconds. I love chips and dip and their chips were impressive, definitely looking forward to dine-in, in the near future. 

Blue Bee Cider was set up serving their delicious ciders (I recommend the Charred Ordinary), I even ran into a friend who found out about the event from my last post. We had a really great time!  

It was so great to meet Bethany Frazier in person, after following along with her on Instagram (We met a couple of years ago at a Farmers Market, (although I didn't realize it until I saw her blue bottles), when my 80 year old Nanny tested her Anti-Agining Facial Serum, loved it, and requested my uncle (who adores her) to buy her a bottle. He sat her down with an ice cream, and joked with Bethany: "Anti-aging serum?!?! Don't you think she is beyond help at this point?" Nevertheless, he bought it for her, she loved it, and I am sure it has helped protect her sensitive Irish skin during harsh New York winters.) 

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Bethany offered a very informative, entertaining, and engaging workshop. She is so passionate and knowledgeable, funny too! She has had experience with acne prone skin, and the harsh chemicals and medications usually used and recommended by professionals to treat acne – all which lead to her journey into creating her own natural product line. And if you look at her gorgeous glowing skin, you will see her products speak for themselves. 

She offered so much knowledge and her passion carried over into reafriming my own interest in natural care. I took so many notes, and felt I could sit and talk with her all day to learn more about what she knows, and she seems like the type of person who wouldn't mind, just a friendly down to earth soul. 

The main highlight out of many, was getting to make our own facial serum, which smells and feels amazing on my skin. Just an all around great event. 

The RVA Yelp community is the best. They do such an amazing job highlighting/supporting the great food, atmospheres, and makers of RVA, all while creating a community of friends to share it with. 

A huge thank you to Bethany for sharing her passion. I am looking forward to using my serum and going over my notes, so I may continue to learn new ways of taking better care of my body. 

Great event! I can't wait to RSVP to the next one. 

Thanks Laurie & Alex for having me and for all you do to make RVA the best place to be.


Where you at the event? What did you think? 

Are you planning on attending the next one? Let me know so we can meet up! 

MAVEN MADE PRODUCTS:

Simple, all-natural handcrafted products for home, wellness + beauty.
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Yelp RVA Made Event: Sun & Selene

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Yelp RVA Made: Featuring Sun & Selene

A monthly maker series of creative workshop events, featuring: Richmond, local creatives.  

Are you a Richmond Local or planning on becoming one? 

Then I highly recommended getting involved with our Local Yelp Community. It is like no other I have seen or heard of. I used to think Yelp was for finding the best food joints and sharing my experiences, not anymore. Yelp is definitely for connecting + building the community and supporting local businesses. 

I recently got to experience my first Yelp Richmond event, with their special new local maker creatives series: YELP RVA MADE

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Welcome:

to the first event of the monthly Yelp RVA Made series!

There will be a monthly series of creative workshops showcasing a different local maker each event. The first one kicked off with Sun and Selene, showcasing gorgeous handmade jewelry for the "Modern Goddess". This jewelry is exquisite and creator Brittanny DeRaffele's passion really shines through her craft. To hear her speak on how she become a jewelry maker, while learning a bit of the trade, was priceless to me. I was completely engaged and interested enough, to hopefully one day take another workshop lead by Brittanny (if she decides to go that route. She is made for teaching + sharing passion y'all!), that would allow for going into even more detail.

We got to make our own midi rings, enjoy delicious sandwiches from Secret Sandwich Society, while making new friends in the beautiful stonewalled event space of Blue Bee Cider. I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Thursday night. Just a very unique event all around, and I am really looking forward to the events that follow. The next one is going to have some huge shoes to fill, after this razzling dazzling evening, and I know it will with our Yelp Community Lead Laurie + Social Media Intern Alex, running the show. Their passion for RVA speaks volumes. Thanks for all you do my new friends! 

 

If you are interested in attending the next event, be sure to follow Yelp Richmond on: Instagram & Facebook so you can RSVP to upcoming events. 

For the Animal Lovers of RVA and Beyond: Church Hill Street Kitties

Church Hill Street Kitties: Rebekah

 

Are you a part of the Richmond or Church Hill Community? 

Do you just love animals and following all the best Animal Instagram accounts?

Well let me tell you a little about Rebekah and her organization: Church Hill Street Kitties

Not only does she have an amazing Instagram account showcasing adorable Church Hill Street Kitties, which she calls: "The backbone of the Richmond, VA mousing community", but she also provides care for these animals in need, and does all she can to humanely control the cat population in our community. 

Through her efforts, she fosters, finds homes, does TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release), feeds, and cares for all of our local street cats. 

Friday nights are for tracking, Saturday nights trapping, Sunday and Monday's are for neutering. Tuesday -Thursday are for rest and recharging. I love it. That's my story. It's not glam, but it gets the job done.

She does this with her own funds too, which is very taxing and makes it harder for her to continue her good work. She has even helped me find homes for 2 stray cats and has given me countless advice on caring for street kitties, at no cots to me. She has done this for many others too and asks nothing in return. She is often out in the neighborhood until midnight, rounding up kittens and cats in need of care. I could go on and on. 

For her to continue though, she really needs support from our community.

Ways you can help out:

  • Share this post: If you could please help by sharing this post to spread community awareness, it would be greatly appreciated and would go a long way. For anyone to gain community backing, the community needs to know about the efforts first. 
  • Donate and Share Rebekah's Go Fund Me page: Even donating what you would normally spend on a cup of coffee would go far. Anything will help. 
  • Take a look at Rebekah's Amazon Wish List for food and such: Sending over a bag of food would be wonderful!
  • Follow Rebekah on Instagram: Let her know she has your support. Even encouragement and community support goes a long way. A very long way!

Thank you for reading, sharing, and loving animals!

 

Simply Chic - From Shirtdress to Overcoat 

Mostly everything I wear is secondhand/handmade, which has become a passion and art form. What started as a thrill of the hunt hobby, has become a lifestyle choice, I am happy I have made. I believe fashion should be fun, ethical, and economical, and not come at a cost that damages the environment or human/animal population. 

So with that said, this is the first of many "fashion" posts that will occur on my tiny corner of the internet. Filled with tips and inspiration for buying secondhand, as well as offering some of our fave finds for purchase in our shop section. 

Simply Chic - From Dress to Overcoat

This is a corduroy Orvis shirtdress that I found and loved, but it did not look right on my frame. So I improvised and turned it into a chic overcoat and rocked it on a cool rainy day. Sometimes with fashion we run into that problem, when we absolutely love something but it doesn't quite look right, that doesn't mean we have to let it go, sometimes it means we just need to have a little fun, improvise, and make it work for our body type. 

What do you think? Would you try this style out? Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments below! Would love to hear you fashion tips and tricks as well. If you try this look out send us a pic so we can appreciate your styling. 

Everything I am wearing has been thrifted, and I encourage you to head to your local thrift shop with a list of these items to hunt for, before purchasing brand-new. I will link some copycat items below to help you get a better idea of what you will be looking for + the dress I am wearing that we are selling in the shop:

Dr Martens Jenna Mary Jane with Heel - Polyvore

Corduroy Shirtdress - Orvis

Polka Dot Socks - eBay

Vintage Turtleneck Black Dress - Bijou Hill

Behind The Curated Life

Behind the curated life this is the view. Life is not picturesque, life is not perfect, life is a wild exhilarating mess, and this is what I want to project to the world. This is what I want to remember.

Dreaming Awake

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Weather always seems to bring you to mind.  Walking outside this morning felt like taking a stroll through one of my dreams.  As I waited for someone to cross the street, she reminded me of you.  I looked to my phone as if waiting for your call.

As if ready.

This time I'll answer and we'll talk of all the things that have happened between now and then. In my dreams you always call, as I'm running for the phone I am never able to reach it in time, I always scream the same thing: "Don't hang up! I'm on my way!!", but the answering machine always picks up and beeps, just the way it did in 1999.

In my dreams time still hasn't moved forward yet, it's still stuck in limbo hanging on with you.

As the light changes from red to green, I realize I'm definitely not dreaming. I'm wide awake. I imagined myself telling you to look out your window as the fog rolled through the streets.

My heart seems to know how much you would have loved this place. Or maybe it's just Dad's reassurance, telling me every time he visits, how you would have adored it and already moved in with me by now.

Wish it were so.

Since it can never be so, at least not in this life, may we always have the weather.

Remnants of Life Gone By

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I found myself in a lovely home, rummaging through remnants of life gone by.  As I made my way around the 2nd floor towards the attic, this image was the only thing I noticed.

I stood for a while, thinking about the people who called this place home.  Wondering about who they were, how they loved, and all the thoughts and feelings that must have occurred as they once stood where I was now standing.

As I contemplated their lives, I couldn't help but contemplate my own. Attempting to come to terms with the fact that one day, someone just as myself would be walking through my home. They would be rummaging through what was once my life and collecting what was once my memories.

When this day comes, my only hope is that what remains, has a way of telling a beautiful story of what was once a beautiful life.