Embracing Your Inner Boss at Mastermind Weekends with Every Day Boss

One of the conversations that seems to be on repeat lately is the topic of working from home. I’ve been a home worker now for over four years and while it has perks, it absolutely has its downsides as well. After all, nothing is perfect! One of the things you look for and look forward to is collaborating with other like-minded individuals and people in similar career trajectories as you…

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5 Productivity Tips For When You Travel: #WorldProductivityDay

In honor of World Productivity Day, I thought it would be a fantastic time to share a few tips to stay productive while traveling. One of the reasons I have the fortune to travel often is because I can work anywhere as long as there’s an internet hook up. When you’re not bound by a corporate office structure, it affords a lot more flexibility to live your life rather than your job live life for you. With that said, while traveling is a perk of working from home, you still need to make time to meet deadlines while away. It’s not always easy and sometimes you might have to spend more time in the hotel room or coffee shop than you would have preferred, but it is doable. These are some of the tricks I’ve learned in the last few years.

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#1 - Set Office Hours. This was the most important lesson I learned and I learned the hard way too. It’s great to plan and work while traveling but it doesn’t work well unless you set aside specific times dedicated to it. I schedule a few hours early in the morning from 7-9am (if not earlier), venture out until lunchtime and then get a few more hours in during the afternoon. Usually around 1-4pm. There are two reasons for this. One, not much is open before 9am so there’s not a ton to miss out on and the afternoon is a high tourist time, perfect to avoid crowds. The second reason is because I tend to get the most action on email in the afternoon so if there’s a time of day I need to be present, that’s it. If necessary, I’ll set aside an hour or two at night as well. The point is, that time is specifically set for working. Whether I grab my portable office and head to a coffee shop or make a spot for myself in the hotel lobby, that computer is open and I am focused. When you don’t set that time aside, it’s hard to gage how much time you need to get all your tasks done and the lack of organization could end up causing you to spend more hours at the computer than you’d prefer.

#2 - Make the most of the time you set. Along with setting the time to work, making the most of it should be just as important. Don’t waste the three hours you’ve set aside in the morning checking on your Facebook feed. Unless your tasks have to do with social media, sign off all your accounts and mute your phone. Avoid any and all distractions so that you are solely focused on getting work done and getting out to explore. But don’t forget, just because you’re working doesn’t mean you have to be holed up in a hotel room. I haven’t been to one town or city without a local coffee shop or bakery that offers internet. Take your computer out of the hotel and sit in a cafe like a local. It might give you a little extra motivation to get your to-do list done.

#3 - Batch Tasks. One of the most efficient ways to work is by batching similar tasks together. My day typically blocks out by writing assignments, pitching assignments, and miscellaneous tasks. Schedule the hardest tasks or the ones that will take the longest amount of time at the beginning of your set work time. Getting them out of the way will help keep up momentum so you don’t get discouraged by the time you’ve reached your final to do. Getting discouraged could cause you to spend more time on it then necessary. The strategy of batching tasks is helpful because it forces you to concentrate on the same type of work rather than constantly shift your focus and mindset. It’s a more productive way to get things accomplished.

#4 - Prepare in advance. This is a big one and it will have a great impact on how much you’ll be on the computer while traveling. Regardless of your job, there are tasks that can be done in advance so that they’re off your plate at a later date. For me, these tasks might be writing and scheduling social media content or getting follow-ups out for a pitch that I sent recently. Two weeks before leaving, make a to-do list of all your regular tasks, all your deadlines and anything that you can think of that might come up during your time away. Figure out what can realistically be completed before you leave and execute them. By taking care of things that can be done in advance, you’re freeing up time to enjoy the destination rather than work on those tasks. It will also relieve some stress when you return.

#5 - Let your team know you’re traveling. Unless you want it to be a secret, be honest with your colleagues and your clients. Let them know you’re going to be traveling for a certain amount of time and that you won’t be as available as usual. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be there to handle emergencies if they come up or stay on top of your regular tasks. It lets them know that you might not be as quick to answer and that if there’s something that can wait to be addressed when you return, you’ll file it for later. This is helpful because it will keep clients and colleagues from piling on new responsibilities that aren’t urgent and they’ll most likely back off a bit on communications as well. And that’s great because you won’t be constantly digging out of emails. The bottom line - you’ll be returning soon and if you have a good relationship with the people you work with, they should be understanding and flexible to allow you to still handle things but keep it light

10 Things Not To Say To Someone Who Works From Home

WARNING: This post is loaded with sarcasm. You have been warned.

Working from home. It’s a blessing and it’s a curse. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Most other people in the world who also work from home would most likely agree. You know what all of us definitely agree on though? Not wanting to hear a few common comments that seem to slip into conversations with friends, family, and even new acquaintances. These are comments that suggest working from home is an easy life and not real work. It’s definitely not something anyone else should take us seriously for. Right? Wrong! So this post is for all you fellow work at home professionals. Keep reading and have a laugh.

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1 - Do you really work though?
Does working from the second I wake up in the morning to the second I go to sleep count as real work? If so, then yes. We really work. Just because I’m at home doesn’t mean my to-do list is any shorter than yours. In fact, it might be longer

2 - It must be nice not to have to wake up early.
What defines early? Because I’m up anywhere between 5 and 7 am every day. Unless the typical morning time has moved to 3am or something, I’m awake earlier than when I commuted to work in the city from the suburbs.

3 - It must be nice to be your own boss.
Oh yeah. Handling my own taxes, insurance, cleaning, office supply purchases, and let’s not forget being my own tech support is exactly what I had imagined when I chose the route of self-employment. Earlier this week when my computer crashed and displayed all different shades of pink and orange, I was jumping for joy because I knew exactly how to fix it.

4 - I’m so jealous, it must be so easy.
If it’s so easy then someone needs to explain what I’m doing wrong. I find myself scratching my head in contemplation a few times each day trying to problem solve. Besides, if it were easy wouldn't anyone do it?

5 - So do you ever get dressed?
What? Is this even a question? Yes, I get dressed. Some days my wardrobe is sporting a cute athleisure look and others I’m dressed to the nines. Would you be able to work in your pajamas? Is anyone productive in their pajamas? I’m not binging The Queen all day. I’m sitting at a desk emailing my life away.

6 - Since you’re home, can you (fill in the blank)...
Because I don’t have anything better to do, right? Listen, working from home doesn’t mean I have an infinitely open schedule to be a babysitter, dog sitter, errand girl, etc. It means my office is in my house. That’s all. Hire a neighbor.

7 - Why don’t you get a real job?
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this one, I wouldn’t need a job. Why is it that my office location somehow manages to discredit the actual work that I do? I don’t get it! I’m almost tempted to invite people inside to see the post-it notes all over the wall and my desk. The planners with every minute of the day scheduled and the notebooks upon notebooks of notes. Does this look like a real job to you?

8 - Must be nice…
There’s something about those three words that make your brain open up with Mount Vesuvius ready to blow. Maybe it’s the condescending tone that typically accompanies it. Or maybe it’s the insulting phrase that finishes the sentence. Needless to say, if these three words are said in my presence, get ready for either intense sarcasm or some kind of passive aggressive response.

9 - Don’t you miss people?
In what sense? Because I’m communicating with people all day and sometimes I want to shut all means of communication off. Sometimes I’ll miss human interaction but that’s what weekends and coffee shops are for. Am I right?

10 - Do you get paid much?
Ok. First of all, no one’s income is any of your business. I would NEVER ask someone who much they made at their job. Second of all, if you work from home and are self-employed, income is something that is not as steady as, say, a salaried position. So having people confront us with something that we already stress about regularly on our own just adds to the fire. Bottom line: don’t ask.

The point? If you know someone who is working from home, leave the judgement at the door. Leave the dumb questions too because they’re annoying and frankly rude. Self-employment is hard and it takes some serious guts to embark on that journey. Kudos to anyone who made it work! Instead of questioning someone on their decision or downplaying their everyday life because of their office location, ask them how it’s going and if they’ve gotten any exciting new opportunities lately. Inquire positively like you would want someone to do about your career.

5 Tips To Avoid Distractions When Working From Home

Ever since embarking on the wild adventure of self-employment, people love to tell me how lucky I am that I get to work from home. And they’re right! Working from home has its pitfalls though too. Don’t get me wrong. Nothing is better than wearing sweats and a basic tee wrapped in my favorite cozy sweater while everyone else braves the single digit temperatures. I save a ton of money on not having a commute and eating what’s in my house for breakfast and lunch each day. Plus, I rarely buy coffee. Nice, right? I agree! The biggest downside of working from home is the amount of distractions. For myself, there is no one home but me and (if I’m in the suburbs) the dogs. The TV will call your name on gloomy days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch. The dogs will try and use their mind power to use you has a human pillow. They’re so hard to resist! Most of all, there is no one to keep you on track.

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Not working in an office, I find that I get loads more accomplished in my day. I hated working at a desk in a cookie cutter room. I took a million water and bathroom breaks and I found myself chatting with people on hangouts or AIM more than I found myself working. The days went by in a blur and I was miserable. Self-employment is not the easiest career choice nor is it the most stable. For those of you, like myself, who prefer creative freedom, choosing your own clients and workload, and working with people who have similar career and life goals that do not revolve around a corporate structure, self-employment and/or small business is the perfect fit. Let’s get one thing straight though, we work our asses off. On those days when distractions are winning over motivation, I’ve put together a list of tips to avoid them. Some may work for you, some might not. If you have any tips of your own, let me know in the comments below!

1 - Have a space created in your home strictly for work. In both of the places that I live, I have an “office space” that consists of a desk and all the things I need to do my job. It’s set up so that I can stay focused and on task with very little distractions. I also make sure my desk is facing outwards towards a window. The natural light keeps me alert and it’s much more pleasant than staring at a wall.

2 - Establish work hours. One of the hardest things when you work from home isn’t so much turning it on but turning it off. Not overworking myself is something I’m conscious of because I will work myself into the ground. Calculate how much time you need each day to conquer your responsibilities. Set up hours each day that allot that much time - no more, no less - and stick to it. Forcing yourself to complete your tasks within that specified period of time will help keep you focused . You’re giving yourself a deadline to finish the day.

3 - Set boundaries with friends and family. A big challenge in working for home is dealing with unannounced visitors and surprise phone calls. It’s hard for most people to understand that just because you work from home does not mean that you have the freedom to stop everything for a little chat when they feel like it. It may be flexibility you have and a drop-in once in a while is okay. If anyone is making a regular habit of it, it’s important to set a boundary. Let them know that these are your work hours and they need to be respected as if you were in a traditional office. As a friend or family member, they should understand that and respect your wishes.

4 - Dog moms, this one's for you. Scooby Doo likes to think that the work day ends at 1pm. He’s learned how to turn my desk chair around so that I’m forced to look at him. We all love our furbabies but when they’re being too much of a distraction, something's got to give. I have the luxury of being able to call family and ask them to handle the dogs for me on occasion when Scoobs is being extra obnoxious. On the days that I don’t, I have to heartbreakingly close my door. Call me a wimp, tell me that I don’t have control of my dogs, fine. It still does not change the fact that shutting out my rescue dog who means the world to me because I have to work breaks my heart. Sometimes, it has to be done though. Isolate yourself in your little work space and knock what you need to out as soon as possible.

5 - Keep the TV away and avoid comfy spaces. One of the first things I do in the morning when I wake up is make my bed and I don't get back in until it's time to go to sleep. I also avoid any spot where it could get too comfy like the couch. You want to stay focused and wrapping up in a blanket will not help. I also avoid the TV. It's easy to get into binge mode. If I do have the TV on, it's for background noise and usually on something like the Food Network or HGTV.

Those are my tips. It's not a science, there's no secret trick. It's making sure you have a good space to work and avoiding the comfy places throughout your home. Oh, and making sure the dogs don't distract you too much. At the end of the day, it comes down to self-management and being able to focus yourself. If this isn’t something you can handle even without distractions, working from home isn’t your thing and that is fine

8 Must-Have Items If You Work From Home

Working from home is something a lot of people are doing more often these days. Whether it’s because they’ve embarked on the adventure of self-employment or their company is allotting so many remote work days each month, it’s a trend that seems to be taking root. Since entering self-employment three years ago this past Thanksgiving, I’ve created a little nook for myself that serves as my place of work. I’ve learned what is necessary for a productive space to work from and what is not. It’s taken some trial and error, and lots of wasted money on my part, to figure out what works. To get 2018 started on the best note possible, I wanted to share eight non-negotiable things that are in my own personal space. Everyone is different thought so some of these might not apply to you as much but at least give them a shot. You never know if something out of the norm for you might actually work!

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1 - A Good Planner. I’ve been in the planner business since 2015 when I bought my first high-end planner. Since then, I’ve found an option that costs half the price and works even better, the Happy Planner. I like seeing my schedule on a weekly basis and in a vertical view. Each row (as you see below) has a different purpose: top tier for personal appointments and dates, second tier for work-related things, and third tier for all things blog life. I like to include goals and top to-do’s in my planner and sometimes deadlines and notes. My planner is my life. I’ll use my Google calendar for appointments, meetings and events (anything that requires a commitment from me) as a backup but my planner is the Bible of Christine.

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2 - A fully stocked working space. Just because the office is at home doesn’t mean it should be any less stocked with supplies than an office. You don’t need a supply room full of dozens of back-ups but it’s smart to have the essentials within your office. This includes a desk, chair, lamp/lighting, computer (obviously), notebooks/pads, pens and pencils, scissors, a printer with ink and paper, tape, white out...you know, the essentials. I’ve built up quite a collection of supplies since college thanks to an office supply obsession but I’m cautious of clutter. Working in a cluttered space is as detrimental to productivity as not having the tools you need to work efficiently. So keep what you need and store or toss the rest. The less you have on your desk the better.

3 - A killer internet connection. Luckily I split my time between a city and the suburb of a big city so internet speed is never something I had to fight for. I have friends who live in different states and in the country and internet speed is something they don’t have the luxury to invest in. If you work from home and need to be on the computer and on email, a good internet connection is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Visiting family in Washington DC that didn’t have good internet was one of the worst experiences of my life. I had to go to a Starbucks to get onto my email. Unless you have a job that doesn’t require being connected to the rest of the world, there’s no way around it. You need fast, capable internet or you need to find a space that's able to provide it for you.

4 - A great coffee maker. This one is a bit biased because I have a coffee addiction but if you need your cup o’joe in the morning, this is a necessity for you as well. My Keurig had serious issues last year which caused me to spend a lot of money on buying coffee and ultimately time as well since leaving my house to get coffee was out of the way and not part of my regular routine. Having a good coffee maker available to you that’s stocked with beans or cups or whatever it requires makes the mornings go smoother and the afternoons survivable on bad days. I’m now a Ninja Coffee Bar owner and so far so good. I’m loving it.

5 - Essential oils and a diffuser. Last year, I became a Young Living member and ever since, I’ve been building up my collection of essential oils. Some days I use them more than others but the days that I do use them, they help me just the way I need them to. My nighttime routine now includes me prepping the diffuser for the morning so that I can press start and get going with my day. With this dry, winter weather, the diffuser is great to add a touch of humidity to the office. I have go-to blends for when I’m not feeling well and certain oils that I’m still experimenting with which is always fun. I know that my life has changed for the better with essential oils and I wish I had them earlier in my self-employment career when anxiety and stress ruled my life. If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, contact me! I’ll be sharing more about them and my personal story as we get farther into 2018.

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6 - Inspirational quotes. This isn’t so much a necessity as it is a nice personal touch. I received this block of quote cards several years ago in a box swap that I still use today. Each card has a quote on front and back and each morning, I flip it to the next one. Some days, the quotes are eerily applicable to my life. Other days, they don’t relate but they do make me think for a minute. It’s a nice touch for inspiration and motivation.

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7 - Wall Calendar. I love my planner but it's good to have a monthly view of dates sometimes. I don’t write anything on my wall calendar, it’s only there for a month’s view of the days. It puts time in perspective by showing you how many days or weeks remain until a deadline or event. It also acts as a reminder for how much time is left in the month. I don’t know about you but November and December managed to disappear in no time even with the calendar on the wall.

8 - Water. One of the perks about working in an office is a water station or a stocked fridge with beverages. Let’s be honest, most people do not have water coolers in their home for regular hydration. With that said, it’s important to have a source of hydration at home. For those of us who don’t have safe, drinkable water (I’m looking at you well water), that could be keeping a stock of bottled water or some kind of filtration system. For those who do have good drinking water, that could be using a fun and reusable water bottle. The truth is that I drank a ton more water working in an office than I do at home. It was an excuse for me to get up and walk around. Having a water routine at home is necessary to keep the body hydrated and give it something cleaner than the dozen cups of coffee I can down in a day.

Do you work from home? What are a few essentials you must have for a productive and efficient work life?

Why Promoting On Social Media Is Important

Do you have a love/hate relationship with social media? Me too. I love that it allows us to connect with distant family members. I love that it makes it easy to stay up-to-date on current events. I love that it let’s me share my content and content from others sites with all of you. I hate that it has created a world of 24-hour availability. I hate that it is always changing. I hate that it can be challenging to master. While social media in general and each social channel comes with its pros and cons, we can't deny that social media is important in any business model.

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According to an article on Small Business Trends, “8 in 10 internet users globally visit/use social networks on their mobile devices” and “Around 1 in every 3 minutes spent online is devoted to social networking and messaging.” People are always connected wherever they go. Not capitalizing on this opportunity to connect with them is borderline negligent. Small Business Trends additionally reported on social media marketing statistics from businesses. According to their research, “Almost 90% of marketers say their social media marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve increased traffic.” More important, over “1 in 3 Internet users say they go to social networks when looking for more information about a brand or product.”

So what do we do with this information? First, look at your demographics. Research social media stats for each demo whether it’s by age, gender, income, location, etc. See where they are the most present and tailor your strategy so that you’ll reach them with the proper information. Second, build a digital brand that has a strong image and consistent presence regardless which social media platforms you use. The #1 key to success in social media marketing is consistency in your brand while reaching your audience. Finally, integrate digital ad campaigns into your organic content. It’s important to be sharing the same messaging whether your content is organic or paid. The less your ad and boosted content feels like...well, an ad...the more receptive the audience will be.

Owning a business in today’s world might seem more complicated but it has the potential to lead to greater success. A business is able to reach people that may have never heard of it without the power of social media. It can be a challenge to find a strategy that works well but once figured out, it is an unparalleled asset. Embrace the world of social media and use it to your advantage. Whether you’re promoting blog content or products, your business will be better off for it.

Fearless Women To Know - Katie Carrico

Our final Fearless Woman to Know for Women’s History Month is the incredible, Katie Carrico of Chicagogrammers and Dining at My Desk. I’ve known Katie for a few years thanks to the Chicago blogging community and I was pumped when she co-founded Chicagogrammers. It’s a fun community for Instagram influencers in the Chicago area that grows your Instagram skills while providing fun events to get to know local businesses and other members.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and Chicagogrammers.
First of all, hello readers! If you’re reading this, you obviously have good taste, and thanks to Christine for letting me chime in! I’m Katie Carrico, Founder of Chicagogrammers. We’re a member-based organization for local Chicago Instagram users! Chicagogrammers organizes events and promotions with local bars, restaurants, businesses and brands to help them create a buzz on Instagram, which is far and away the BEST social platform for getting the word out there for businesses. The best part is that it’s free (and always will be) for members! We currently have 400 members, our hashtag #chicagogrammers has been used 37,000+ times, and we have 5,700+ followers on Instagram. We’re growing everyday, and we love new members! Our Instagram account is a regram account, and each day of the week we pick a different theme, and those themes rotate monthly. It’s just a fun account to follow, because you’re always going to get a good idea of what’s going on in this great city we live in, and some great Instagrammers to follow. A big goal of ours is to always remain member-centric, so we try to find fun ways to highlight our members as much as we can.

What made you decide to organize Chicagogrammers?
Ah, the story of Chicagogrammers...well, it really started as a whim this past July, because as a blogger for the past seven years (Dining at my Desk), I’ve seen MANY of these blogging groups form throughout the years on Facebook. You know the ones that ask you to click to read everyone else’s blog post, or follow each other, or any other number of blogging boost requests? The idea behind these groups isn’t bad, but the real issue is that the group might have 10,000 followers, and all of a sudden, now you have to read 1,000 blog posts? Or maybe you just have to read 5 or 10 posts, but in a sea of 1,000 comments, is anyone REALLY going to find your post? I thought starting something LOCAL that takes the best part of blogging - that’s Instagram, of course - and making it a group where people could meet each other and hang out in real life sounded interesting. I flung an email out to a few blogging buds to see if they would be interested in helping me with this endeavor, and I was lucky enough to have Chrissy Barua of the wonderful blog, The Hungary Buddha Eats the World, partner with me. Since meeting at a blogging event a few years ago, we’ve kind of been inseparable, and we comment all the time how we’re the perfect business partners - the stuff I suck at, she does remarkably well, and vice versa. We started Chicagogrammers randomly via email on a weekday afternoon, and actually didn’t even think to see if the Instagram was available - we were much more concerned with the Facebook Group! Luckily, all the social media handles were available, and here we are!

Do you have any Instagram tips to share?
I do!! My personal favorite find of all-time is the app VSCO Cam, which I use to manually edit every single image I put on my own Instagram account. The app is  a little tricky to maneuver at first, so look up an online tutorial, but it seriously makes your photos SO MUCH BETTER. My other big tip is make sure you’re using hashtags in every photo, preferably just one or two in your main caption, then up to 30 in your first comment. Might I recommend the #chicagogrammers tag?

Photo c/o Chicagogrammers

Photo c/o Chicagogrammers

What are your favorite spots in Chicago to visit for photos and Instagram posts?
Well, I’m a foodie, and I do tend to get invited to a lot of great events in that realm. I’d say my absolute favorite event of all time was a blogger event where we partnered with the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and had a foodie crawl. Basically anything that I can eat as much as I want (that’s always a lot) and explore this city is always right up my alley. I’ve never met a food I didn’t want to photograph.

If someone is interested in Chicagogrammers, how can they sign up for more information and is there anything you can share that Chicagogrammers has in the queue?
Yes, we LOVE new members. To join, visit our Facebook Group, and then we’ll have you sign up for our weekly newsletter, which is filled with fun and free (always Instagrammable) events for members to attend. We do an official Chicagogrammers monthly happy hour each month, which members can sign up for from the newsletter. Our newsletter comes out around noon on Wednesdays, and you want to get to your inbox quickly, because our events fill up fast! As far as events in the queue, we have quite a few things up our sleeve, including some awesome collaborations, but can’t tell you about them just yet. Stay tuned!

Thank you for being one of our fearless women to celebrate for Women’s History Month! Leave us with a little inspiration for the other fearless women who are reading.
First of all, it’s inspiring to see so many women in entrepreneurial roles within the blogging community. The ladies are killing it out there! My best advice is to follow your intuition. If you have an idea and it seems like a good one to you, no matter how small it is, you can make it happen! Make friends who are interested in the same things as you are, and before you know it, you’ll have the network you need to help turn an idea into something amazing. Thanks for having me!

Follow Katie on Instagram and Chicagogrammers on Instagram as well! Make sure to check out all of our other Fearless Women to Know in celebration of Women’s History Month as well!

Fearless Women To Know - Dannie Moore

Women’s History Month is coming to an end in a few days but before it’s over, we have to lovely ladies for you to get to know. Dannie from Stile.Foto.Cibo. is a style and lifestyle blogger who has become a quick friend of mine in the last year. She’s passionate, intelligent and kind-hearted. We share a love for our rescue babies and French macarons. Keep reading to meet Dannie and make sure to check out her blog!

Photo Credit: Carra Cockrum of Badd Pictures

Photo Credit: Carra Cockrum of Badd Pictures

Tell us a little bit about yourself and
I’m Dannie, a 20-something style and lifestyle blogger. Stile.Foto.Cibo is Italian for style, photo, and food. When I started the blog, it was exactly that. A place for me to share my style journey as well as all the awesome food I was making and photography I was doing. Since then, Stile.Foto.Cibo has evolved into a space for me to share my style as well as give face and voice to the femme lesbian community.

Congratulations on your recent wedding! The photos from your special day and honeymoon were amazing. How have you been able to balance these momentous life events, blogging and work?
Full disclosure, I’ve been having an incredibly difficult time balancing my day job, blog, and life. I have to keep the blog separate from work and I have to have times where I just power down and enjoy time with my wife and dogs. But finding the time can be incredibly difficult. It’s actually in my 5-year-plan [yes, I have a 5-year-plan] to move away from Chicago to the West Coast and just blog full time. I think it would be much better for my overall work/life balance and a change of scenery would be quite fun. In the meantime, assume I need coffee, a nap, and a puppy cuddle.

Photo Credit: Johnny Knight

Photo Credit: Johnny Knight

What’s your favorite part about being a blogger? What keeps you inspired and motivated?
I honestly love the community. I feed off of excitement and community and sharing and supporting other girl bosses. Working with and around other amazing women is what keeps me motivated and going. I love reading other blogs to get inspiration, help build my own style, and simply see what people are up to. The community can be so uplifting and empowering. It’s really what keeps me hustling every single day.

You are a huge supporter of rescue animals. Tell us a little bit about your furbabies and why you’re so passionate about this cause and these animals. We’re a family of rescues as well and they hold a special place for us.
Do I have a maximum word count? Because I can go on endlessly about dogs and the rescue community.

Zoe is my first dog. She’s a Boston Terrier/Jack Russell mix who is the laziest little nugget ever. She loves chewing on bones, licking the peanut butter jar clean, and running around at the dog beach. She’s my first dog love and the reason I started working with rescues. When she was rescued, she weighed 10 pounds, was severely emaciated, had a UTI, worms, and ear mites, and was scared of her own shadow. Now, after 2 months in a foster home and two years with us, she weighs 18 pounds and is so confident and playful that she will try to play with the vacuum cleaner.

I began volunteering at PAWS last summer because I had the time and love to give to many dogs but the space to only have one. So I went and volunteered to share my love and help dogs like Zoe find homes. Zoe has a very rough beginning and I needed to help other pups with difficult backgrounds find amazing homes so they could become as wonderful of dogs as she is.

Tonks is our second child. I found her kind of by accident while volunteering at PAWS. We’d recently moved somewhere that allowed two dogs and I thought “nah, I can wait.” I lasted 3 days. We moved on July 31 and we brought Tonks home on August 3rd. She has been a whole different kind of challenge to Zoe’s shy/fearful personality. Tonks has a lot to say, needs constant attention and stimulation, and exhibits signs of barrier aggression, meaning it’s really difficult for her to meet other dogs if she’s on leash. She’s still my sweet baby and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. I just wish she would shut up sometimes! Hah!

Overall, the work I do with dogs is about giving back to a community that welcomed me so openly and helped me find my Zoe. Everyone has at least one Heart Dog in their lifetime, the dog that they connect with on a deeper level than all others, and she is mine. I didn’t think it was possible [pawsible?] to love a dog so much but she astounds me every single day with how powerful our bond is. I work with rescues to help other people find their own Heart Dog.

You have a series coming up on your blog celebrating women in the LGBTQ community. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Fashionably Femme launched on International Women’s Day as a way to celebrate the femme in a community where we’re often erased. I don’t know how many times I’ve surprised people by being gay (“but you don’t look gay!”) or been told “you’re too pretty to be gay.” These are, quite possibly, the most idiotic and uneducated reactions I could possibly receive. As a femme-identifying lesbian, I love dressing up and being girly. But the general stereotype of a lesbian is the butch. And while I come with more power tools than the average dude, I also come with a LOT of lipstick. Fashionably Femme aims to give fellow femmes a chance to have a space to share their style and speak their peace. That being said, if any of your readers identify as femme, please reach out! I’d love to feature you!

Photo Credit: Carra Cockrum of Badd Pictures

Photo Credit: Carra Cockrum of Badd Pictures

Thank you for being one of our fearless women to celebrate for Women’s History Month! Leave us with a little inspiration for the other fearless women who are reading.
Remember that no matter what, you are wonderful. You are important, you matter, and you are loved. No matter what anyone says to you, you are important and you have a reason for being here with the rest of us. You may not have found it yet but I am confident that you will. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Don’t give it to them. Keep on rocking.

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