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Hey friends! I haven’t been one to keep a journal very well as  a young adult. Growing up, I would fill journals with wild amounts of writing almost every single night. It was my way of relaxing and unwinding. There are so many nights I can remember spending tucked in bed with my journal and pen, writing away into the late night. I can remember waking up with the journal covering my face, as I accidentally fell asleep still writing.

There are even occasions I remember of staining the pages of the journal with my tears as I would write about the hard situations I faced at the time. Somewhere along the way, I stopped this nightly ritual. My writing developed more and more into the form of things like high school essays, college research papers, and job applications.

I lost the part of me that would write because it made me feel alive. 

Right after I finished finals at school this year, I packed up my car with my belongings and headed back to St. Louis for about a week and a half before heading to Guatemala. As I sat in my childhood bedroom, I realized that I should start decluttering my room as graduation nears and I’ll need to move all of my belongings somewhere. After moving to my bookshelf, I started taking book after book off the shelf that I wanted to donate.

During this process, I stumbled upon my childhood journals. Reading page after page, it struck me how much I had changed, yet how much of me had stayed the same. Some of the posts made me laugh at my silly 10 year old thoughts. Other posts made me so sad as I though entries detailing the more somber parts of my life, like loss or my mom’s battle with cancer. 

When I had finished reading a chunk of entries, I made it a point to toss a blank journal into my suitcase for Guatemala. “It won’t hurt,” I thought. “I don’t want to force myself to write because then it won’t be genuine, but I might as well bring this with me.” I packed up the rest of my suitcase (read: sat on top of it to actually get the top to close) and headed off to start my summer adventure of an internship. 

I had the pleasure of collaborating with Pure Life Jewelry to share my love for their products. I took to the streets of Antigua to take some pictures with Josh recently and I just had the time of my life. There is just something about being surrounded by volcanoes, under the sun, and walking the streets of a beautiful city with your best friend. 

The motto of Pure Life is “Find Your Wild” and I just feel like that is such an accurate representation of this summer. I have learned so much about myself and I just keep on learning more. So much of that is what I attribute to writing in my journal. When I tossed that journal into my suitcase while packing for this summer, I had no idea how important that journal would become to me. It accompanies me to coffee shops, work, weekend mini trips, and everywhere in between. 

When I allow myself to write down my thoughts and details of my life, I realize how much I grow because I can dissect the issues on my own through my writing. Then, when I go back and read the entries, it also shows me how much growth has happened from one time to another. This summer, I have already seen some wild personal change and realized innate characteristics about myself through my journaling. 

Find Your Wild. I am passionate, strong, stubborn. I am a hard worker, I am loyal. Those are a few of the things that this summer has taught me. 

Take your next family vacation in Antigua Guatemala this summer

Olivia wearing a Nala US kimono and a Pure Life Necklace. Find Your Wild

Thank you to Pure Life Jewelry for collaborating with me on this post and for sending me the beautiful Moonstone Simply Lucky Necklace to wear. Get 20% off any purchase on the site before July 18th with the code BLEEKER20

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Hey friends! After about a month and a half living on Lake Atitlán, it truly feels like home already. Even by the second week here, it already felt like home. One of the main reasons that I think I settled in so quickly is the fact that I work at my internship Monday – Friday, which gives me a routine that automatically gives my schedule some regularity and rhythm. 

I’ve found all of my favorite spots, made incredible friends, and work at a company with an incredible vision. Before I moved here this summer, I thought that I would have a lot of problems adjusting to working a Monday – Friday schedule since it’s such a difference from having a few classes a day at college.

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Oh wow! I am so excited to finally share this post with you all. 

This post was a long time coming and I’m so thankful that I have had as many opportunities to travel so that I can even write this post on my Airbnb love (read: addiction). I mean, let’s be real, my alternative title for this post was “A Love Affair; My Ode to Airbnb”. After spending the spring 2016 semester studying abroad (with a three week long spring break, might I add), going back to Europe this past March/April, and now living in Guatemala, I am coming to you today armed with my favorite places to stay around the world. 

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Hey friends,

If you think the title of this post sounds a little extra, well, it is. This was the title of a presentation I gave recently for a student symposium within my college. There are six different majors in my college, the College of Human Environmental Sciences, and a student from each major was selected to give a talk the the college about a theme they have been studying. When I found out that I had been selected, I immediately knew the direction that I wanted to take for this. 

I really wanted to share on the topic of fast fashion to my peers. This is something that many people are slightly aware of, yet don’t really know exactly how to execute either on their budget or with their style. I am so happy about how the presentation went that I decided to share some of these things with you, because since I got good feedback, I thought you all might like to know about this as well. A little over a month ago, if you’ll remember, I posted something called “The Beauty of Transparency” where I discussed some companies that I feel do an amazing job of being clear about how their garments and items are made. 

What Even Is Fast Fashion? 

Fast fashion is considered to be —“an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers”.  And in the words of NYT columnist Lucy Siegle, “Fast fashion isn’t free. Somewhere, someone is paying.” I want to pose a question to you for you to think about for your clothing picks within your closet. —Are your clothes long lasting and high quality, or falling apart after their first night out?

To me, this is not only a sustainability issue in terms of the earth, but it’s also a human rights issue, since workers all around the world are being mistreated in the name of fast fashion. Companies like ZARA can come up with a design, produce it, and have it in store all within 10 days of the initial design. Thinking along those lines, do you think that these companies are really taking into consideration how ethically or sustainably these items are being made? Most likely not. 

That all being said, I want to share 5 ways that the everyday consumer can help tackle this issue. All of these can absolutely be done on a college student’s budget. 

1. Shop Second Hand. 

This is such an easy thing to do, and by doing this, you aren’t contributing to the tons of clothing that are being dumped into the landfills each day. There are plenty of stores in my college town of Columbia, MO where I can shop second hand, and I’m pretty sure that in almost every city there are places to find second hand garments. From Plato’s Closet to even Goodwill, the opportunities are usually endless. Not only will you get clothing at a cheaper price, but most likely, with enough searching, you can find some of your favorite name brands, too! I’ve found plenty of Madewell, J.Crew, and Free People at my Goodwill for a fraction of the original price! 

2. Create a Capsule Wardrobe.

I’ve done this for all of the times I’ve lived abroad, but I’m actually in the process of turning my current closet into a capsule wardrobe. The basics of this are simple. —Invest in a few long lasting, high quality pieces rather than many cheaply made items. Be more with less! Most capsule wardrobes suggest curating a 37 piece wardrobe including —shoes, undergarments, tops, pants, dresses, outerwear, etc. but you can adapt this to however you see fit. If you want further information on this, check out one of my favorite blogs called Unfancy to see how to create a more in-depth capsule wardrobe. 

3. Research Brands That Do Good.

—There are many out there that actually don’t cost a fortune, but it simply takes a bit of research! Some of my absolute favorites include Hiptipico, Patagonia, Sseko, Reformation, Everlane, People Tree, Eileen Fisher, Nisolo, Tribe Alive, Ethica, Symbology, Mata Traders, Naja, Elegantees, etc. —These specifically are ethically and sustainably made, however, even just investing in high quality brands is a great start in order to not be constantly realizing your clothes are getting worn out after one or two uses.

4. Use Your Resources. 

—There are multitudes of resources available to help you on the journey to shopping smarter. It simply takes purchasing a book or downloading an app that can make the journey towards a more sustainable life so much easier. I’m so thankful that we live in an age of the technology that we have in order to use these things to our advantage and learn so much more.

  • The Good Guide – Barcode scanning app that tells you how sustainably your clothing and home goods were made.
  • —Social Impact – An app that shows local boutiques, restaurants, stores, etc. that practice sustainability and ethical choices.
  • —The True Cost – A moving documentary showing the process of how fast fashion is changing our world for in terms of sustainability and for factory workers.
  • —Overdressed – A nonfiction book by Elizabeth Cline documenting the excessive buying habits of our generation and country in general.

5. Call Out Your Favorite Brands. 

Guess what? Brands will listen to their customers. I would be lying if I said all of my favorite brands are sustainable, because the truth of the matter is that there are just some really amazing companies with beautiful clothing…it’s just not ethically made. That being said, when we reach out to our favorite companies, they are willing to listen to us! —On every website you’ll usually find the company’s PR website or customer service email. Send an email or a tweet, asking for that brand to be transparent with how their garments are made, or even to work towards a more sustainable program. This does work, and in the cases of H&M and even Urban Outfitters, they have branched out to create more sustainable lines. Of course the entire company won’t change overnight but this is a great first step to bring about change in the companies that we love. 

Do you like to shop ethically? Or is this one of the first times you’ve heard about it? If you do currently shop ethically, what are some of your favorite brands? Leave me a comment below letting me know, so I can shop that brand too! 

Much love, 

Olivia

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Hey friends,

This post is a bit sassier than normal, but it is definitely needed. When I sat down to write this, I realized what a vital piece of the puzzle Instagram has been to my success as a blogger, but that also means that I have seen and experienced things that resulted in a rant…errr, list.

Ahhh Instagram. My favorite social media platform without a doubt, Instagram has become an incredible channel for influencers, bloggers, and brands alike. Some people really kill the Insta game and others…not so much. There are times when people really annoy me on Instagram. Here are 5 of my cardinal rules when it comes to Instagram. Do you follow/break any of mine?

  • Do: Enjoy the Community. 
    • I have met some really incredible people all simply by the fact that they reached out on Instagram. When I was studying abroad in Spain or living in Guatemala, I met up with some lovely friends who I had only known previously through Instagram. It’s a great place to meet other creative people, and I love and really want to exemplify the phrase “community over competition”. 
  • Don’t: Buy followers. 
    • This is kind of an obvious one, but one that is worth mentioning. I’m constantly surprised by friends who I’ve found out have bought followers. With the new algorithm for Instagram, engagement is key. This means that regardless of if you have 100k or 1k followers, it’s more about the likes and comments and consistency of your followers rather than the numbers.
  • Do: Stay positive. 
    • Really, people?! I am always surprised when I get on Instagram to find people ranting. What?! That’s really what you are going to do with your lives on social media. This really speaks to all platforms, but I especially don’t get it when people rant on Instagram. For me, I exclusively follow accounts that provide something for me. I’ll follow you for your fashion tips, DIYs, encouragement, etc. but there’s no way I’ll follow you if you’re spewing negativity all over the place.
  • Don’t: Ask Me For a Follow For Follow. 
    • Ok, children, are we 12? Because that’s what my brother did when he was that age. If you want to come across sad and desperate, please, continue posting “F4F?” comments on my pictures, but otherwise I’m going to need you to slam on the brakes real fast for that one. Not only does it get old, but I won’t suddenly decide that this comment is cute and endearing and decide to follow you.
  • Do: Set Goals.
    • Sometimes I do this weekly and other times I do this monthly. Regardless of the time constraints that you place on yourself, goals are vital for your success at the Instagram game. Usually, I give myself a weekly number of followers that I would like to get to. Some of the ways that I reach this goal are…having high engagement with other Instagrammers, getting reposted by brands that I tag in my photos, or even simply tagging locations in my Instagram stories, because then I appear on that location’s story as well! 

All that being said, let’s connect on Instagram! I’m always excited to meet anyone who reads my blog! Follow me at @oliviableeker and leave me a comment letting me know that you saw this post! I can’t wait to get to know you! If you have any other tips and tricks for the IG game, drop them below! 

Much love, 

Olivia

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