mental health · Wellness

Quit Apologizing for Your Authenticity

I have this bad habit. Actually, it goes so far back into my childhood that character flaw would probably be a better term for it.

When describing it to friends, I sometimes refer to it as insecurity, or a need to people-please. However, these are not fully accurate.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

It is more that I have this deeply rooted fear of the repercussions of being…myself. I’ve always been quirky and a little different. Try as I might to blend in, I have never been skilled at the ways of normalcy. Instead, at a young age, I adopted sympathy toward those uncomfortable with or confused by my perspectives.

I have never confidently had a differing opinion with someone without feeling the need to apologize for the way I think. Any time I make a new decision for myself that makes a ripple in the stagnant Alabama waters of “acceptable,” I shrink and preface my explanation for my decision with “I know it is totally weird and makes no sense, but…”

In high school, during our political science course, we learned about ideologies. We took numerous quizzes to learn our own ideologies and how they inform our opinions about common political topics. My happy butt landed a few squares away from Gandi. Pretty cool, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

Lunchtime discussions turned sour over the revelation of my left-wing dot on the ideology grid, and I soon learned that I was “a bleeding heart,” “a communist,” “a proponent of baby murder,” and a “tree hugger.” I felt…really sorry. I had made my classmates and friends (gross, 17 year old Lona, these were definitely NOT friends) not just uncomfortable, but angry over my unusual result. There I went skipping my little liberal pebbles across the body of embraced traditional conservative ideals.

This is just one of many examples of times I wish I’d just owned it. Just owned who I am and what I am because over the course of the following two years, I tried to change. I tried to believe in the Republican platform. I tried not to be a problem kid. I really did, but ya know what?

That’s just not who I am, nor the way I think. In the last year I realized that I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my opinions. How empowering.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

Last month I turned 25. I felt old. I dyed my hair for the first time to cover my seventeen gray hairs. I also felt this kind of cool new sensation of not being as sorry about who I am. I had a realization that I’ve got 25 years of life experience that show me exactly who I am, and exactly what are my values, and exactly what is my purpose in life.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

The sweet part? I’m not sorry ’bout it. If it makes you uncomfortable, cool. Me too. Byeeee.

Y’all (not sorry for it–it’s the best contraction) I’ve spent too much time trying not to make waves and apologizing for what I am (or who I am not).

Here is the abridged list of what I’m not sorry for:

-My ideology

-My views on gender roles

-Marrying an immigrant

-Caring more about the environment than convenience, and thinking this is our responsibility as tenants on Earth

-Not consuming animal products

-Not purchasing anything tested on animals

-Condemning dog and cat breeding for profit

-Not subscribing to whatever this overly contoured, pore-less, freckle-less current makeup trend is

-My fascination with true crime (if you agree, listen to My Favorite Murder podcast)

-My belief that plastic straws suck, just like close-minded people

-Finding books more entertaining than movies

-Thinking brains are sexier than cleavage or junk in the trunk

-Living in Alabama, as backwards as this place can be

Phew. That was both exhilarating and mortifying to type.

It feels liberating to accept who I am, but it is not as simple as typing up a list. The challenge is putting my self acceptance to practice because the truth is that in these parts, I am sort of the minority in much of my thinking. It can be quite intimidating to own, but I’m done apologizing for it.

Mental health: authenticity, self love, vulnerability

What’s one way you are unapologetically you?

mental health · relationships · Wellness

The Simple Magic of DOING Something

My nephew, Logan, is ten years old, and in his own words…he’s “AWESOME.”

I have four nieces and two nephews, each uniquely gifted. Veronica is an amazing actor and singer. Bryce is extremely tech-savvy. Aislynn is athletic. Kali is an incredible artist. Dayla is not quite three, so we are still learning what gift she possesses. For now it is the gift of a large, commanding personality and amazing style.

Logan was blessed with the gift of humor. Collectively as a family, we have been blessed with the gift of experiencing Logan’s humor. He is goofy and has the best facial expressions, one-liners, and quick-witted remarks. He can also be quite the charmer.

The other week, Logan was upset because Veronica and Kali were invited to see the new Spiderman movie with friends, and the invitation was not extended to Aislynn and him. He and Aislynn were beside themselves. My sister decided that perhaps a walk to my house would cheer them up and distract them from the tragedy of not getting to go to the movies with the teenagers.

I see Logan bouncing up my driveway and run out to greet him. The first thing he says is not “Hi, Aunt Loni!” Nor is it, “Hello!” Or, “Good evening!” Or any other common greetings.

He says: “Veronica and Kali decided to go to the movies instead of coming to see you. Not me and Aisy though, we CHOSE YOU, Loni. We chose to come see you instead of going to see a movie.”

Sure, I knew the real deal because my sister had called me half an hour prior from her backyard whispering, “ I think they are about to conspire against me over this stupid movie!”

But with his icy blue eyes and toothy grin, I couldn’t help but have my socks knocked off by Logan’s charm.

Recently, my little comedian charmed me in a different, humbling way.

It was a Friday night. My sister, Steph, had surgery for a herniated disc that day, and my mom had her three up at the hospital to visit her. Kali was at a slumber party. I had Logan and Dayla while my sis, Bri, and her hubby were out for dinner.

When my sis and bro-in-law first left for the evening, Dayla was finishing up dinner, and Logan was watching a cartoon. Eventually, Dayla migrated over, and the two were entranced by some obscure show. I figured I’d let them watch a few episodes because Bri is typically pretty strict with TV time, so I thought a Friday night novelty was called for.

Besides, I wasn’t feeling very “there.” As in, life has recently been throwing all sorts of unexpected craziness in my direction, and how could I possibly be actively engaged with my niece and nephew’s company when there was so much unproductive worrying I could be doing instead? So I sat on the couch beside them, and I stewed and daydreamed of worst possible scenarios. I was in the same room as them, on the same couch even, yet I was nowhere near them.

At some point, I mentally checked-in to think that we were nearing the threshold of enough TV viewing for one sitting and decided that after this episode, we’d come up with a new activity. Well, new for them. I’d still stew and worry.

Mid anxious thought, Logan loudly asks, “Hey Loni, do you want to DO something??”

“Sure, Bud,” I reply. “What would you like to DO?”

He opts for coloring a neat hardbound mythical monsters coloring book Steph gave him. He gets all set up at the kitchen table, excitedly coloring the next monster on the page after reading about its magical powers.

I get Dayla going with some colored pencils and her new sticker book. Then I take my seat and resume my worrying. I was in the same room as them, at the same table even, yet I was nowhere near them.

“Hey Loni….” Logan calls out to me while still coloring. “You could come sit beside me and color some of the monsters I haven’t started on yet,” he sweetly offers.

I sit by him. Anxiety floods me as I try and figure out what colors to use on this serpent snake whose mystical powers “aren’t that impressive” according to Logan. I settle on a navy and a gold. I’m coloring and fretting over how small some of the details are, and I pretty much deem the snake a failure when Logan exclaims, “Whoah, Loni! How did you learn to color so lightly like that? It looks awesome!”

Truth be told, his compliment made me feel better.

We move on to a new page. This one has a huge spider with a sugar skull design on its back. Logan decides we need to conquer this bad boy together. We decide to go with bright colors on the eyes, nose, and mouth of the sugar skull, as well as on the legs. We color the body black to make the colors pop.

As we work, we discuss which colors need to go where. We talk about how we wouldn’t want to run into this spider in the nighttime. We are coloring. We are talking. And I am not stewing. I am not worrying. We are sitting beside each other, DOING an activity together. Logan’s excitement grows as we complete the spider.

My sister calls to let me know she is on her way home and in the background Logan yells towards the phone, “We are having SO much fun!” Dayla mimics her brother, “SO much fun!”

When Bri walks in the door, Logan immediately takes her by the arm over to the table to admire the spider. “Didn’t Logan do an awesome job?” I ask.

“No, WE did an awesome job,” he corrects me.

Before I leave, Logan gives me the biggest hug and whispers to me that he had the best night with me. A few weeks later, he is still showing off the spider to his cousins.

Logan is my goofy, comedian nephew, yet that night he taught me a valuable lesson about life.

The time I spent at that table coloring with Logan, I felt alive. I was present. I showed up for that moment. You know what is really crazy?

My life quality did not diminish from abandoning my worries and concerns. If anything, it improved.

My stress levels did not increase because I neglected my worries and concerns. If anything, they fell.

Life is not meant to be spent inside one’s head. Life is meant to be lived. Living shouldn’t be overthought. To begin living, just DO something. Anything. Take action, and do. When you simply DO something and dedicate your entire focus to this action, the magic of living begins.

Being present and in the moment


diy · entertaining · Food & Drink · Living · Uncategorized

Relaxed Summer Luau and Advice to a Fourteen Year Old

Hi, loves.

I had every intention of posting on Tuesday, but by the time I made it home from a CRAZY work day (you may have seen my hometown on the news) , I could not focus.

Better late than never, I suppose.

Last Sunday was my eldest niece’s birthday. She turned 14, and I feel OLD! My sister has been down with a herniated disk, so my other sister and I last minute took on throwing a little shindig.

We didn’t have the luxury of time or a large budget, so we kept it a relaxed, glam luau. I thought I’d share the sweet details.

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party

See? A little bit can go a long way. I recycled some of the pom streamers from my engagement party, and I ordered the cute foil balloons and metallic tattoos for fun details. And aren’t the spray-painted pineapples darling?

All in all, it turned out to be a lovely gathering for a lovely young lady! I cannot believe my niece will be a freshman in high school this fall! Her birthday got me thinking about advice I’d give my fourteen year old self….and oddly it is the same advice I am working on internalizing these days as well.

I think it is most eloquently put by Scott Stabile:

Truth bombs. Mantra. Bullies.

This is what I hope to convey to my niece as she enters some exciting and difficult years. This is what I hope to convey through my lifestyle.


Shop my party looks here:

Gold Foil ‘Happy Birthday’ Balloon Set

Metallic Birthday Tattoos 

Summer Birthday Party

Summer Birthday Party



My dear, sweet [W]IT GIRLS, keep on shining like you do.





Culture · Events · mental health · music · relationships · Travel · Wellness

Life Lately, Bonnaroo 2017, and a Summer Vibes Playlist



What a sight for sore eyes this screen is. I have missed my blog. I have missed you, dear friends. All of it.

Yet every time I have sat down to post, I have been overwhelmed with anxiety, which is not a feeling I typically associate with this blog. I planned to take a week off for Bonnaroo, only to hop directly back on the blog train to tell you all about my wild adventures and hear about some of yours from while I was away from my little blog community.

Then last week happened.

Last week was just a continuous stream of weird, unfavorable events for my family. Some of these events are laughable, and some are quite serious. There are some major health problems plaguing a couple of family members, which means I’ve been “ON” more constantly, and really trying to help out with my nieces and nephews, since it is summer break for them.

In light of some of the bad things going on, I have enjoyed being around my family so much over the past week and a half. Last night, I spent an awesome few hours with my youngest niece, who is almost three years old. We ate strawberries, tried on sparkly jewelry, and played hide and seek until sundown!

The caveat to this refreshing time spent with family is that when I finally have a few quiet moments to myself at night…I am exhausted and a little disoriented because my routine has been let go with abandon. I’ve not just been absent from [W]IT GIRL, but from social media in general. I’ll sometimes go nine hours without touching my phone because I’ve been so engaged in everything from handling a damaged AC unit (4 days, no AC, 90 degree weather), to prepping for my nephew’s birthday party, to helping care for my sister’s ill pup. In a way, unplugging has been rejuvenating. But also, it has interfered with a blog routine that has been manageable, successful, and fulfilling.

Cue anxiety—you see, normally I pour myself into each post, and it is planned, edited, and ready to go days prior to when it is to be posted. Bonnaroo obviously got in the way of my usual weekend workflow; however, when I would sit down to catch up, I’d find myself exhausted, concerned about giving you less than my best.

[W]IT GIRL started over two years ago as a way to play with concepts I was picking up from my Technical Writing courses during undergrad. Over time I’d held onto it hoping to one day turn it into something valuable. 2017 has been my year to create quality, authentic content, and the notion that perhaps creating content while exhausted would take away from the progress I’ve made over the past half of a year opened the flood gates for waves of anxiety.

After much internal deliberation, I decided that while I should not let exhaustion rob my blog of quality content, exhaustion does not make my writing any less authentic. If anything, it makes it more authentic.

So here I am. I’m not as caffeinated as I’d prefer, but I am showing up, and sometimes that’s the beginning and end of everything.


Let’s talk Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

As I mentioned in my previous post, I first attended Bonnaroo in 2011 and then again in 2012. Those were two of the most magical experiences of my life, and I truly believe seeing Radio Head live and witnessing Thom York’s sweet moves up close impacted who I am today. These glorious memories had me pretty pumped to return to the farm!

Five years later, Bonnaroo is a different crowd. A little younger than I recall. Yes, I am a good bit older than when I first attended; however, I did not see any of the older hippies who hop festivals as a lifestyle. I have vivid memories of such individuals from my first trips to Bonnaroo. This time around, it definitely gave off a more trendy Coachella vibe, but Benny had nothing to compare it to, and I wasn’t about to let the difference throw a wrench my good time, so we just went with it.

We arrived early Thursday afternoon and set up our campsite. Each morning we’d chill at the campsite for a few hours before trekking into Centeroo for the music and activities.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

img_6151Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

There were only a couple of acts Thursday that I recognized, so we really set out to explore and discover awesome artists. We got mighty close for The Orwells. I was so pumped to get Benny in such a good spot for our first set, only to immediately regret this moments into their first song. I failed to realize that The Orwells have a rather rowdy following who “dance” in an aggressive matter with little attention to their surroundings. We immediately backtracked our way to higher ground, safe from the mosh pit.

My sunglasses were the only casualty. We are thankful for their sacrifice. Could have been a limb or a phalange or a face instead. Jesus took the wheel on that one.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalBonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalBonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalimg_6169Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalimg_6187

Throughout the course of the weekend, Benny and I had a blast being moved by the incredible talent that swept Bonnaroo stages. A few of my favorite acts were Glass Animals, Tove Lo, Tegan and Sara, Chance the Rapper, and Lorde. And that’s the condensed list.

My freckles came out to play. We gained Chaco tan lines. We walked until our feet were numb. We came back sun-kissed, sleepy, and free-spirited. ‘Twas a good time, most definitely.



Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

I’m not sure when I’ll next return to the farm, but I urge you, [W]IT GIRLS, go see some live music this summer. Make it a priority. And when you do, don’t film it all on your phone. Be there. Be enchanted. Be present.

You can shop my adorable off-the-shoulder swimsuit here. I received so many compliments on it!

Last, but certainly not least…..I’m gifting you a Summer Vibes playlist that is Bonnaroo 2017 inspired, since it is OFFICALLY SUMMER!!

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivalxx-Lona

beauty · Fashion & Beauty

Top Skin Care Picks for a Healthy, Bright Complexion

Sometimes, I am a ridiculous human being.

I find myself wondering what it’d be like if that perfect Snapchat filter could permanently make my face look smooth, golden, and flawless. You know exactly which filter I’m talking about, so don’t deny it.

top picks fo

This is admittedly one of the most vain, petty thoughts I’ve had recently. Instead I should be thinking:

“What nutritious, and presumably leafy green foods, should I incorporate into my diet to promote healthy skin?”

 “Have I drank enough water today? Put the wine down.” 

“Better thoroughly wash off my makeup before I ‘rest my eyes’ one second longer during this action movie Benny picked.” 

If you read my post last week, you recall me mentioning having developed a skin care regime. Today I wanted to share with you the products I find beneficial in keeping my skin clear and bright.

Over the past year, I’ve worked to fill my beauty cabinet with more natural, organic, or food-grade items where possible. These changes have cut out a lot of parabens, toxic chemicals, and other members of the “dirty dozen” so often seen in beauty products. Interestingly enough, these changes have also brought about the clearest skin I’ve had in my adult life. Breakouts still happen occasionally, but it is a very rare instance that I find a straight up nasty zit on my face (last week is only instance I can recall since last summer).

Before I share my favorite products with you, I want to make an extremely important preface: while I believe these products have had a great impact on my overall skin health, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do for healthy skin is make sure you are eating a balanced diet. Drink water. Drink water. Drink water.

One more time for the people in the back:


Also, it is 2017. You can make any nasty vegetable you hate taste good in a smoothie. I listened to a podcast the other day where this healthcare professional was discussing her recipe for a killer cilantro smoothie.

Cilantro. Smoothie. What a time to be alive.

Eat some green stuff.

Now, without further ado, I bring you:

My Top Picks in Skin Care Products for a Healthy, Bright Complexion:

Top picks for skin care products to promote a healthy bright complexion

1. Elemis Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser & Balancing Lavender Toner

Top picks for skin care products promoting health and bright complexion

Benny and I discovered Elemis at the spa on our honeymoon cruise. We both purchased Elemis products, and we are both still using Elemis. The Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser is my daily gentle cleanser. It is creamy, smells amazing, and is not harsh. The Balancing Lavender Toner is one of two toners I use. I normally use it in the mornings to refresh my skin. It is super light and gentle, and it gives a nice dewey quality to the skin.

These Elemis products are pillars in my daily skin care regime.

2. Lush Ocean Salt

Top picks in skin care products promoting healthy and bright complexion

Lush Ocean Salt is my single favorite beauty product of all time. When my aunt and cousins flew in for our wedding, they treated me with a huge gift basket of Lush brand goodies. Since then, Lush has become one of my favorite brands and I feel so confident in the quality of their products. Ocean Salt was truly a game changer for me. It is all natural, made from sea salt and vodka-infused lime, and I use is biweekly to exfoliate my face, and sometimes my back.

3. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream & Intense Hydration Eye Cream

Top picks in skin care products promoting healthy and bright complexion

When I started researching the components of a good skincare regime, I realized that a moisturizer is crucial. Sometimes when dealing with breakouts, or a nice shiny mid-day T-zone, moisturizing seems a bit counter-intuitive, but what I have found is that it is actually quite important and can help contribute to preventing and smoothing wrinkles. You should pick your moisturizer based on your skin type, so I will let you [W]IT GIRLS do your own research there, but these two Burt’s Bees products have been great for my skin, which tends to be oily in the T-zone and dry everywhere else.

The Intense Hydration Night Cream is a thick butter consistency, and I work it into my forehead, my cheeks, and my neck. A little goes a long way. The Intense Hydration Eye Cream has a slightly thinner consistency, and I work it into my eyelids, under the eyes, and temples. I sometimes use it to blend in concealer under my eyes as well.

4. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Top picks for skin care products promoting healthy bright complexion

This is the second of the two toners I use. This toner is a little more potent than the Elemis, so I typically use it at night before I use the night cream in order to prevent irritation or dry skin. I really use this in my problem areas: the nose, chin, and forehead. I also apply it to breakouts right away, and I’ve noticed that it acts fast.

There you have my top skin care product picks for promoting a healthy and bright complexion. I typically wash my face with the Elemis Lime Blossom Cleanser every night.  Twice a week I will exfoliate with the Lush Ocean Salt at night. After cleansing (and sometimes exfoliating), I will apply the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner. Once the toner dries, I moisturize with Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream and Eye Cream. When I wake up, typically my skin is soft and smooth, so I just spritz with the Elemis Balancing Lavender Toner before applying makeup.

Shop my skin care regime:

Elemis Lime Blossom Cleanser

Elemis Balancing Lavender Toner

Lush Ocean Salt

Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream

Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream

Mario Badescu Glycol Acid Toner

I hope this helps you in your journey to a healthy, bright complexion, [W]IT GIRLS!


Fashion · Fashion & Beauty

4 Ethical Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Happy Memorial Day!

May we gravely remember and honor those who offered the greatest sacrifice to protect our freedoms.

I hope your weekend has been restful and spent in good company. I started the weekend feeling a bit feverish and under the weather. It’s been a tough allergy season for me.

We had our first guests over to the new house for pizza and beers, and it was so fun to host and entertain in this space! We also partook in our share of housework–I finally painted our guest bedroom.

On Saturday we attended a beautiful wedding. We had a steamy, humid weekend, so I opted to don this cold shoulder dress from Pac Sun.

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

cold shoulder dress for wedding

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

The cold shoulder style seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. I loved that this dress was in one of the main colors of my capsule wardrobe–blush. Also, I loved the sort of handkerchief print on it. While this could be worn in a more casual setting, I dressed it up for the barnyard wedding with classic strappy black heels and an envelope clutch.

I typically don’t wear a full face of makeup to work or for daily activities. Since we’ve been so wrapped up in the house for the last month, I can only think of one other occasion on which I went all out on the makeup front.

I went for a dewey natural look to compliment the blush dress, and I used mostly natural and cruelty free products to get this look (namely Tarte, Bella Mari, and Fresh).

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Since we are entering summer, I thought I’d share some ethical cold shoulder dresses, all under $40!


Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

My blush cold shoulder handkerchief dress–shop here 


Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Shop for this dress here



Shop for this dress here



Shop for this dress here


I hope you find this guide helpful for any weddings or events you may have coming up!

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40

Cold Shoulder Dresses Under $40