The Coolest Thing I’ve Done in My 34th Year

Most of my Friday nights consist of sweatpants, Halo Top ice cream, and my kids fighting me to stay up later. But one Friday a few weeks ago, I did something kind of awesome, though I would also like to vouch for the awesomeness of sweats and Halo Top.

I got a tattoo.

I like to say it was about a year and a half in the making, but in reality, it was about 19 years in the making.

At age 15, I felt the need to start expressing my “alternative” style, that rocker edge. I dyed my bangs (and only my bangs) bright red. (Like why, though….) That didn’t go over so well, so out came the red. At age 17, I begged my parents to allow me to get my eyebrow pierced. After all, I told them, I am first in my class academically. I never get in trouble. I’m a good kid. Let me get an eyebrow ring. (Amazing logic, right?) The answer was a firm heck no.

At that point, I mostly abandoned the edgy side of my personal style, and when I became a teacher right out of college, my edginess still stayed dormant. It actually started coming out again in about 2010 with my first nose piercing, and three nose piercings later, I can honestly say my nose hates nose rings, as each has gotten infected and/or failed to heal properly.

So what’s an edgy girl to do? Answer: get a tattoo.

Over a year ago, I found a picture of a diamond on Pinterest. Yes, this is the point of the story that falls in the “basic” category, just like my deep-seeded obsessions: Target and Starbucks. So like anyone basic, I started a tattoo Pinterest board, and even after a full year, I was still very much attached to the geometric diamond design.

My husband, who has 8 (?) tattoos, and I ventured into a tattoo shop (No Regrets in Champaign, IL) after our Friday night sushi date, and the rest is history. I can’t say enough about Robert, my tattoo artist. He was so friendly and thorough. The pain wasn’t as bad as I had expected. My pain tolerance is pretty high (I have given birth to two babies over 10 pounds), but don’t get confused about me: my tolerance for being mildly inconvenienced isn’t high at all…

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I wanted the diamond on my wrist to be a constant reminder of these principles:

Even when I don’t think highly of myself, God sees me as His precious jewel.

Diamonds are the crown jewel, and that is a gentle reminder that though many aspects of life may be beautiful, I need to remember to focus on the best of the best of those aspects of life. My “diamonds” are my faith, my marriage, and my family.

Diamonds are beauty made from intense pressure. I have inflicted intense pressure on myself my whole life to please others and to be the best at everything I do, but there is true beauty in the life I have created for myself, one that is imperfect but still beautiful.

Oh, and I think the design is really cool, too.

I’m already planning my next one. I can totally see how tattoos become an addiction!

Hi again.

I am a firm believer in the Instagram bio telling the story of who you are. Now granted, it may sound a little ridiculous, but I think there’s something so telling about describing yourself in 150 characters. We can project the selves we want others to see. And one of the words I have added to mine recently is authenticity. So I think it’s time I start unpacking my thoughts on style blogging and Instagram in general.

I have given both too much power.

I have taken a month off out of necessity, and it felt really fruitful to take a backward step and evaluate why I use both (blog and Instagram). In the meantime, I reopened my private Instagram account reserved for people I actually know, where I can post 847 pictures of my kids or any mundane task I find amusing without “fear” of losing interest or followers. But what is at the heart of caring if I lose followers or interest? What purposes are my blog and its Instagram counterpart serving?

I am not naive enough to believe I am a spokesperson for all style bloggers on Instagram, but we all started an account for a reason. Maybe a few people in our private lives appreciated our style. Maybe we wanted to cultivate something just for ourselves in the mass chaos that our lives had become when we were (are) in the thick of raising little ones and going to work every day. Maybe – deep breath – why we started has a little bit of an attention-seeking truth behind it, an ugly truth we never wanted to surface.

For me, about three years ago, I wanted to write about style, to connect to my outside world while navigating the foreign land of northeast Iowa with two babies under age 4 in tow. But as I expressed in my last blog post, my purpose became twisted and unfocused along the way, and blogging/Instagramming became detrimental to my life.

The answer for me was to take a gigantic step back, hands raised, almost in a fearful awe of what negativity transpired while I was so hyperfocused in growing my blog and its Instagram counterpart. Though I have been noticeably absent from my blog Instagram account, I did catch a post recently shared by a few ladies I follow…and it was upsetting, for this exact purpose. It put the blame on the user. It made the user feel shame and guilt for allowing online presence to define her. To some extent, I realize accountability is a factor. Yes, we should step away from our phones and back into our reality when social media gets too heavy. But what if it’s beyond that point of realization? Do we still guilt and shame that user for not being in the right state of mind to step away? Lots of ugly is to be found when we guilt and shame others, even if it we are trying to share a post that is “helping” them see the error of their ways. For me, the only answer was to step back, but I know others out there are probably in a similar state but have not stepped back.

So why am I here again?

I don’t think the answer is to permanently step away from my blog and Instagram because there is a lot of fruit that grows in both spaces but ONLY when both are cultivated and well tended to. And the cultivating tools are in my hands alone. I have known since I was in third grade that writing is a way I can express myself, and my love of writing has grown into a life passion and career for me. The best teachers of writing are writers themselves.

So why do I continue to blog? My answer, my why is simply this: I want to write, I want to share, and I want to cultivate a community where women can come and read about my life as a working mom who is busy, whose focus is never on the same task for more than five minutes, who is being pulled in 865 different directions (I need that jacket, I need to make homemade treats for my son’s class, I need to do something about the frizziness of my hair, I need to clean up my diet, I need to exercise today, oh wait. When was the last time I swept the floors again?), but who still finds the value in expressing her personal style, though others may dismiss that value placed on style as vanity. I would respectfully disagree.

I am a firm believer in the Instagram bio but also a firm believer in style and image as empowerment and confidence. P.S. I’m so glad you’re here, and I am excited to navigate through life with you once again. But I’m also deeply grateful for my time away, which provided me with a healthy perspective shift. Stay tuned. I have so much to talk about.

Affordable + Cute Eyeglasses…An Actual Thing Now

So about a month ago, I had to get an eye exam. My eye doctor told me my vision had actually improved since last year and that improvement happens quite a bit when people reach their mid-30s. My first thought was wait. What the heck?! I’m not in my mid-thirties! But alas, I think I am, as I just turned 34. I was thinking I had until age 35, but…

So the hunt for a new pair of glasses officially commenced.

Now I would like to preface this post by saying I only wear glasses at night, when I’m having an allergic reaction (I’m highly allergic to horses and cats…totally not nerdy at all), or my eye is irritated in some way. In other words, I wear my daily contacts 95 percent of the time.

I was actually both relieved and annoyed to have to get new glasses. I say relieved because I bought a $300 pair of glasses at Lens Crafters last year that looked super cute on in the store, but when I got them home and actually wore them, I felt like they aged me approximately 15 years! When I wore them to school one day last year, one of my sweet junior high students said, Wow. You look…different. HA. I say annoyed because I just spent $300 on flippin’ ugly glasses last year, and for someone who doesn’t wear glasses often, it’s just that: an annoyance. I use my vision insurance to help offset the cost of my contacts each year, so I am usually paying out of pocket for glasses. But I knew I needed to find a MUCH more budget-friendly alternative.

I remembered Kelly Robinson (@hellorobinsonstyle on Instagram – sweetest tall mama ever – you need to follow her) mentioning Zenni Optical awhile back. I visited their website and found TONS of options I loved. I ordered two pairs because I always get sick of wearing just one…I was tempted to order three or four but wanted to try them out first.

I spent all of last night and today wearing them. And I am pleasantly surprised with the quality and “on-trend” factor with the glasses I picked. Now granted, they are not the quality I would get from Lens Crafters (my frames are not incredibly thick and durable), but each pair cost me less than $12, so I’m not going to complain too much!

HERE are the black square frames I chose. I have wanted a pair of hipster-looking glasses for awhile, and I’m about three years late to the party, but these are my favorite.

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Now please appreciate that I took a close-up selfie just for you. My selfie skills are MAJORLY lacking, and close-ups are scary.

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HERE are my fun pink cat-eye ones. I thought a pop of color in my glasses would totally work with my neutrals-heavy wardrobe, but this morning, my husband and kids called them my silly glasses, sooooooo there’s that. I like them, though. I think they’re fun and unexpected!

Here are some of my suggestions for you before ordering from Zenni Optical:

  1. Know what glasses shape looks best on your face (rectangle, cat eye, etc.). My face looks best with a cat eye shape, so that helped me narrow down my options. There is a “try on” option on the website where you can upload a selfie to see what the glasses would look like on you, but I was never able to get it to work to scale. That’s why I suggest knowing ahead of time what style/shape works best for your face.
  2. Have a paper copy of your prescription handy AND contact the last place you purchased glasses to get your pupil distanceIt was very easy to enter the numbers from my eye exam, but the one thing I didn’t have on the piece of paper my eye doctor gave me was my pupil distance. Since I just purchased a pair of glasses one year ago, it was very easy to call Lens Crafters to get my pupil distance. If you don’t have the number, Zenni Optical actually has a little ruler you can print off the website and use to help you figure it out!
  3. Really consider the frame colors and how they will jive with your existing wardrobe. I got black frames because DUH…you knew that was bound to happen because I wear black on the daily. But for a little fun, I went with a pink frame. So be sure to think about your wardrobe and how your new glasses would fit in as a cute accessory.
  4. Think about how often you really wear glasses. Zenni Optical has frames that are more expensive (and probably better quality) than the ones I purchased, and you have several different options with lenses, too. But like I said before, I went the cheapest route because I just don’t wear glasses all that often. Why spend the money if you don’t need to?

The verdict? I will DEFINITELY order from Zenni Optical again. I am very happy with the overall price I paid (with shipping, $31.25 for two pairs of glasses) and what I received in return!

Fingerprints and the Authentic Self

I had to get fingerprinted yesterday.

It was for my job, of course. I will be teaching at a new school this fall (my sixth in 11 years).

My two tag-alongs (new readers: I am Mommy to five-year-old Jackson and three-year-old Johanna) were also along for the ride, and they watched in awe as my fingers were scanned by a machine and magically appeared on a computer screen.

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I had to carefully and discreetly document a time they weren’t arguing.

FingerprintsOne unique quality that makes me “me” and you “you.”

I have spent a lot of my summer “break” (break is in quotes because being a mom who is home full-time in the summer is harder than working a full-time job in a lot of ways…let’s be honest) thinking. And a lot of the unhealthy kind.

See, we who put ourselves out there on social media to attract a following (readers, potential customers, etc.) are always told don’t do this or try not to do that. I have spent a lot of time just sitting with floods of negative thoughts about what I’m not. But it is now time to pinpoint and focus on what and who I am. It’s time to put those blinders on and have tunnel vision.

Social media breeds unpleasantness if we let it, but the benefits of it are immeasurable, when used in a healthy way. And personally? My brain is so used to multi-tasking at a high-octane level for nine months out of the year, so unfortunately, when I’m bored in the summer, I check my social media accounts and see this person vacationing or that person with 40,000 followers. Why did I lose this many followers? Why don’t I have “Swipe Up” capabilities on Instagram? (HA HA. But why, though?) Totally ridiculous thoughts that do not matter in the big picture. It’s time for me to zoom out and actually live and see that bigger picture.

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Real life…family picture preparation.

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And there we go…

I have hesitated to go my own way with my blog or social media accounts in fear of losing readership, followers, and steam in my LuLaRoe business. But what’s worse? Living in this perpetual state of indecisiveness and inaction due to said indecisiveness.

So let me start fresh. HI. I’m Heather Lindenmeyer. I’m shedding the Rock, Style, Teach blog name because it was great for a season but doesn’t necessarily reflect all of who I am or what I’ve become. Let me share some facts about me that I don’t talk too much about.

1. My faith is important to me, and I have not written about it out of fear that I will come off as “preach-y” or even worse “judge-y.” But I want you to know that Jesus gives me strength to meet the demands of my everyday life (mothering two small children, working full-time, and owning a small business).

2. A lot of my life I have sought approval from others and have felt all out of whack when I wasn’t receiving it.

3. I really love fitness (especially running), but I don’t share too much about it on my blog or social media because I’m afraid of being annoying.

4. I have dated my husband Jordan for almost 17 years, and in early August, we are going on our first vacation (just the two of us) since 2006. ALL THE PRAISE HANDS.

5. I wrote a blog post at the beginning of the summer about teachers surviving the summer, and I mentioned fixing yourself up and why it’s good to do that (in some capacity) daily. The truth? I had good intentions in following that principle, but that all went downhill starting in about mid-June. HA. I can barely keep up in posting regularly on Instagram because my everyday summer look is way boring. And by boring, I mean workout clothes or sweatpants.

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I’m sorry I told you that. Go back to wearing no make-up and sweats and carry on…

6. About three weeks ago, my best friend made me join the local YMCA because she knew what was best for me, and that alone time I have to exercise (especially when my husband works long hours – the YMCA provides child care) has radically improved my life. It was not a suggestion. It was a “you’re doing this,” and I thank her every day for it. Everyone needs a best friend like that.

7. I really want to be a vulnerable writer, but I think there is an extremely fine line between being vulnerable so others can connect with your authenticity and revealing too much at the expense of your heart AND the ones you love the most.

8. I actually believe LuLaRoe pairs beautifully with non-LulaRoe pieces. I also think LuLaRoe has made shopping approximately 1 billion times easier on moms because have you ever tried to take two small children to an actual store? (Never take them to Ulta. Just don’t.)

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9. I make sure all of the minivans and SUVs are out of sight before I take my blog photos. One time, one of my neighbors walked his dog right in front of my house while I was mid-pose, and I was way embarrassed.

10. I don’t know why my kids don’t understand the concept of quiet time. But when I’m apart from them, all I can think about is their sweet little laughs.

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What has been missing for me (for quite some time) on my blog is the freedom to write posts that feel right to me, that challenge me to grow as a writer and bare just enough of my soul that feels good to me. My life is much richer than being on trend and in style. My life is much richer than the number of followers I have on social media. I am grateful for each and every one. What is important to me is to be my authentic self and not so much about how many like my authentic self. Sounds like wisdom from a 17 year old, right? A little sad I’m admitting these things at age 34? Well, when you have lived a life where you have constantly sought approval from others, you may understand.

My competitive, go-for-broke, never-settle mindset has helped me and hindered me quite a bit. And right now, a refocus is needed. Let me leave you with something I’m mulling over and putting into practice: When you are so focused on the beauty in someone else’s existence, growth, success, whatever…you fail to see the beauty in your normal. The world needs what you have to give.