Monday, June 9, 2014

Vintage Freebie with Keren: Do You Suppose She’s a Wildflower 8×10 Print and Matching Tags!

This is for all our beautiful wildflowers out there! After Megan's inspiring post "An Open Letter to "Real" Women", I wanted to create something truly special for all of you and her :) If you haven't already read it, you should definitely do it! Like, right now :)
 This could possibly be my newest favorite freebie image.. I couldn't print them out fast enough!

To download the tags directly, click here!
For the 8 x 10 Print hop on over to my place to snatch it up!

Till next time! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Open Letter to "Real" Women

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that you can't take a single peek at Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or even a bumper sticker without being told how a "real" woman should look?  It isn't just me, right?  You've seen it too?  A person can't chuck a rock these days without hitting someone telling you how many crunches you should be doing or how much you shouldn't care how many crunches you should be doing.  Well guess what.  I object.  I object to all of it.  As a woman, as a mom to three little girls, and as a human being...I big fat OBJECT!

You may think this has nothing to do with blogging, but I object there too.  Because blogging is about sharing your story and having a voice and saying something that sometimes just needs to be said.  I think the following needs to be said.  Maybe you need to hear it, maybe you know someone who needs to hear it, or maybe I just need to say it.  Either way, I am making this my first article in our Shabby Blogs YOUniversity series.  Buckle up.

I am a cyclist.  It has taken me nearly 4 years of consistent riding to get to the point where I feel I can say that about myself.  Just between us, if I'm being totally and completely honest, I still say it a bit sheepishly, half afraid someone will challenge me on it.  But I am a cyclist.  I am because I say I am.  I say I am because I ride my bike almost every single day.  What started as a 4 mile ride on a cruiser bicycle turned into 8 miles and that somehow turned into 30.  I recently did something completely crazy and invested in a legitimate road bike.  It took me months to decide on the right bike for me, but in truth, most of that time was really spent convincing myself that I deserved a "real" bike.  Despite those bits of lingering guilt, my daily bike rides have always filled me with an insane amount of joy.  Seriously.  Like, a LOT of joy.  When I'm out there on the road, I soak up nature until I'm positively drenched in the magic of it.  I think the thoughts that I want to think because my head is somehow clear and open to them in a way it isn't during the rest of my day.  I focus on doing my best and being my best and beating the girl I was the day before.  Yes, I am a cyclist and with all of my silly heart, I love riding my bike.

As I was riding this evening, another cyclist rocketed past me with freakish speed and elegance.  One minute I was cruising along, doing my best, happy to be lost in my own thoughts on my own journey and then just like that, I was beaten.  This other cyclist, this other person, was better than me.  There was no denying it.  They looked more like a "real" cyclist than I did in their more impressive gear on their more impressive bike with their more impressive body.  I watched as that intimidating figure smoothly faded into the distance ahead of me, despite every muscle in my body fighting its very hardest to keep up.  With every round my feet pedaled, I felt more discouraged, more defeated.  The thoughts in my mind that moments before were light and lovely and uplifting suddenly took an infinitely more sinister turn.  Just like that, the golden rays of sunlight weaving in and out of tree branches became utterly invisible to me.  The only thing I could focus on was my inadequacy.  Like a child jumping from one mud puddle to another, my mind quickly and easily jumped from one part of my body I was unhappy with to the next until I was covered in my own wretched kind of mud.  Then, as if that wasn't disparaging enough, my mind took a flying leap right into the deepest and darkest puddle of all as I allowed myself to wonder what I must have looked like to the cyclist who passed me.  Did they see nothing but an entry-level bike and an entry-level body?  And, if that was what they saw...was it true?

I'm not going to lie to you.  Those thoughts ran rampant in this noggin of mine for longer than I'd like to admit.  I went from feeling defeated and inadequate to downright ashamed.  Actually ashamed.  Thankfully, however, somehow, at some point, I managed to get a stinking grip!  It took effort, but I willed myself to stop wondering what that other cyclist thought of me and to instead ask myself a different question.  Does it matter?  Spoiler alert: NOPE.  It soooooo doesn't!

Here's the thing.  I had two choices.  (We all have the same two choices.)  I could either focus on the flaws or focus on the facts.  Flaws?  There are many.  Maaaaaaaaaany.  Many.  Many, many, many.  Facts?  The facts are sometimes harder to identify, but you fight your butt off so you can do it anyway, gosh dang it!  Do you hear me?  Fight.  Your.  Butt.  Off.  Find the facts and focus on them.  Tonight, for me, these were the facts:

Fact 1: My bike is not the nicest or most perfect bike on the planet.  There are a gazillion bicycles in this world that are faster, prettier, newer, nicer, and straight up better than mine.  Though my 2-wheeled bestie isn't ancient, it already has dings and scratches, failings and flaws- because I USE it and that is what happens along the way to things that are used.

Fact 2: Despite the above, I freakin' love my dang bike!  It does what I need it to do and it takes me where I need it to take me.  It may not be the best bike made, but it is the best bike I can have at this moment in my life.  I am so blessed to have it.

Fact 3: My body is not the nicest or most perfect body on the planet.  There are a gazillion bodies in this world that are faster, prettier, newer, nicer, and straight up better than mine.  Though it isn't ancient, it already has dings and scratches, failings and flaws- because I USE it and that is what happens along the way to things that are used.

Fact 4: Despite the above, I am trying really hard to love my dang body!  It does what I need it to do and it takes me where I need it to take me.  It may not be the best body made, but it is the best body I can have at this moment in my life.  I am so blessed to have it.

Fact 5: It doesn't matter how anyone else views my bike or my body.  The value of my bike was decided by its maker just as the value of my body was decided by its Maker. No one else's opinion can change that reality.  How far my bike can take me is largely up to me.  How far my body can take me is largely up to me.  I can't control everything, but I can decide where I'll go and how much joy I will get from that journey.

My body and your body are miracles.  True story.  The human body is mind-blowing in its intricacy and capabilities.  Every heartbeat and every breath and every cell all work together to create the most epic and working work of art.  I don't think about that enough.  Maybe you don't think about that enough.  But think about it!  Yes, my arm fat wiggles when I raise the roof.  But those same jiggly arms WORK!  They hug my little ones and make them feel safe and loved.  My jummy (that's Megan for "jiggle tummy") ain't pretty, folks.  It's all squishy and covered in stretch marks, seriously making me look like I was mauled by a rabid grizzly bear.  If that's the price I have to pay for the privilege of bringing my children into this world, so be it.  (Yes, some women have children and then compete in bodybuilding competitions.  Go them!  I'm just not them.)  I may never feel confident in a swimsuit at the beach with my family.  Thankfully, my family probably won't remember the way I looked in that swimsuit.  They will remember that I played with them at the beach!  My point is, we get so caught up in the things we consider flaws that we don't appreciate how fortunate we are to have these miraculous bodies in the first place.  Think about all of the people in all of the hospitals in all of the world.  Think about how many of those people would trade bodies with you if they could.  Perspective, friends.

There will always be someone better than you.  Maybe not at everything, but at something.  When that stinking cyclist whizzed past me, it hurt.  I felt bad.  I did.  But their journey is not my journey.  Even though they could obviously kick my trash on the road, I bet you anything I could beat them at Spongebob trivia...or finding rad stuff at thrift stores...or spitting Cheerios wicked far.  (Yes, I am a woman with impressive talents.)  We don't need to ever compare ourselves to others though.  Because we are all good at some things and decent at other things and full-on terrible when it comes to something else.  That's life.  That's humanity.  That's part of the journey and each of us has our own.  Comparison truly is the thief of joy.  DO NOT even go there.  Ever.  But if you slip up and find yourself in that wretched wasteland, remember two things.  First, what you see when you are comparing yourself to someone else is only a small part of that person's journey.  Nine times out of ten, what you don't see is something that would stop you in your tracks and make you grateful for the life you live.  And second, for every person you compare yourself to, someone else is comparing themselves to you.  I said it before and I'll say it again.  Just don't go there!

Finally, on the subject of body-shaming and this ridiculous war over what a "real" woman is or isn't.  Enough.  It is enough already.  If you have curves, own your curves.  Be proud of your curves!  Do your thannng.  That's fine.  Nothing is more awesome than being happy with the person you are.  Having said that, please do not belittle your less "curvy" sisters in an effort to validate yourself.  While your curves may be attractive, that kind of attitude is certainly not.  Likewise, you girls who are all about calorie counting and cardio, own that mother!  Be proud of your hard work and the achievement of your goals.  You deserve that!  However, please don't shame your less "fit" sisters into thinking they are somehow lesser people than you.  The size or shape or age or color or even habits of a woman is not what makes her a "real" woman any more than the bike I ride or the speed I go or outfit I wear or even my abilities are what makes me a "real" cyclist.  No, I am not the "best" cyclist on the road...and maybe I never will be.  In reality though, that doesn't have anything to do with anything.  The fact is that I am doing my best and I am out there, on the road, on my road, doing my thing, in my own way.  Not only have we all been born with different genetics, but we have all been born with different obstacles.  Some you may see, but many you may not.  Be mindful of that.  Cut yourself some slack and be equally kind to others.  You can be happy for yourself AND for them.  You can be proud of who you are AND who they are.  We can all be different and all be miraculous and beautiful and real.  Every single one of us has inherent value.  Ignoring that fact because we are focused on flaws hurts everyone.

Some of the strongest women I know demonstrate their strength by being gentle.  I appreciate and respect these "real" women for their gentleness with me and my all-too-fragile heart.  I am obscenely grateful for every single person who views me with kind eyes, determined to see the good in me (the facts that matter) and who is equally determined to ignore the many flaws.  These women are not lesser because of their kindness towards others, but are made that much greater themselves.  They are happy women who bring out happiness in others.  The world needs more women like that.  We need to be that kind of woman.  We need to be around that kind of woman.  We need to raise that kind of woman.  Let's all get real by accepting and appreciating the women we see, both in the mirror and on the road.

Homework Assignment:
Write down 3 facts about yourself and memorize them so that the next time you catch yourself focusing on flaws, you can more easily switch gears.

Tell someone you admire how awesome they are.

Do something with your body that you've never tried before or haven't done in a long time.  Play catch, do a somersault, turn up some music and jam out.  Just take a moment to marvel at the rad things your body can do...even in sweatpants.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Make Your Own Free Printable (+ more)

Hello friends!  Life has been ca-ca-ca-craaaaazy around here lately, but really, that's not anything new for the Hastings family.  I will be so happy when my little ones are finally done with school and we can freely frolic the way the sunshine wants us to.  Summer in Michigan.  Nothing better in the world, I tell you!

I recently read a lovely quote and thought to myself, "THAT is something I want to very much remember!"  Of course, then I promptly forgot it until I remembered I forgot it and found it again.  Just so that doesn't happen repeatedly, I decided to make my little quote into a printable, pretty enough to be hung on my wall.  (That's where today's delicious freebie came from.)  I hope you'll add a favorite quote of your own or perhaps a pretty monogram or something equally clever and enjoy it hanging around as much as I have! 

Along with the high res 8x8 downloads, I will also post web versions for you to use online and even on instagram.  (I'm friendly that way.)  The two that are white in the middle are .png files and may be used as frames.  Have fun with them!

Download Natural Floral Printable HERE.

Download Striped Floral Printable HERE.

Web Use Versions:

Giant X's & O's-

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Vintage Freebie with Keren: Gorgeous Rose Tags and Clipart

Hey lovelies! Happy Mother’s Day! :) I have a special little gift for all you amazing mamas (and non mamas) that I hope brightens up this special day! A gorgeous rose floral bunch that could be used in an array of projects/crafts for printing or digital use! I just love this image so much that I had to turn it into some per-made printable tags for your convenience. They already ran through my printer and let me tell you.. they made me happy happy happy!! I can’t wait to use them in a pretty gift :) Click HERE to download the Printable TAGS directly and for the rose clipart hope on over to my place to snatch it up!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Free Gold Glitter Blog Elements

Want some glitterific bling for your blog?  Of course you do!  Here's a FREE bunch of bits to make your blog go BOOM!!!  There is a gold glitter frame, three sidebar tags/labels, and a post divider that you could also use as a blog header or footer.  I'm kind of loving them, guys!  Take.  Use.  Enjoy.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Free Polaroid Frames

Okay, picture-spiffers.  You're gonna want these!  Here are 3 fun polaroid frames that are the perfect way to add some pow to your pics.  (I made these using DDE's Fave Collection, which is so fun to play with!)  Enjoy them MUCHO and blog on, ya bunch of monkeys!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Sponsor Special

If you read that title out loud, I bet you totally spit on your screen.  BIG time!!! Sorry, but also kind of not sorry...because that just so happens to be the kind of thing I find hilarious.
Guess what!!!  I'm so excited!  (You'll never guess so I'll tell you.)  My darling friend Becky is joining Team Shabby!!!  She is THE coolest girl ever and I am crazy-excited for you to get to know her.  She's one of my very most bestest friends in the entire world.  You're not going to believe this, but we actually met through instagram- of all places!  How awesome is that?!!  I can't even tell you how blessed I feel to have that girl in my life.  Everyone needs a Becky.  And now everyone can have one because she'll be HERE!!!!!  She's going to be my social media ninja and sponsor coordinator.  So you'll get to say hello to her on Facebook and around le blog and you'll get to work with her if you become a Shabby Sponsor too.  Lucky little duckies!  Welcome, welcome, BIG GINORMOUS WELCOME to the Shabby Blogs family, Beck!!!!!

Just to kick things off AND because Shabby Blogs just so happened to turn FIVE this week, we're having a super spring sponsor special!!!  (See what I did there?  I used a bunch of mostly unnecessary S's again.  You're welcome.)  Just $15 for a full month of advertizing here on our blog!  See those giant-sized ads on the right side over there?  Yeah.  One of those!  It's a first come, first served kind of thing, so clickety clack out an email to my girl Becky and claim a spot while we've got them!

Email Becky now!  I mean, or later...I guess.  But I'd totally do it now.  No, actually I would do it later...but then all of the spots would be filled.  So yeah.  Do it now.

Giant hugs-

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ahoy There {Nautical Banner Freebie}

Maybe it's because this is Michigan's worst winter since 1978 or because this little family o' mine is jammin' out of here to the Caribbean the first chance we get, but my brain is all sorts of nautical right now.  I'm part mermaid anyway, but lately all I can think about is the sun on my face and the sound of waves high-fiving some glorious beach.  So, it's no surprise that my latest blog goodie for you is something along those lines...

Feel free to use the completed post pretty I created above and/or you can snag the customizable one below to use on your blog!


Speaking of nautical...and radical, have you guys seen the shirts Christine from Ahoy Tees makes?  Must.  Have.  As of this minute, she's got 14 hours to go on her kickstarter page.  You can get a super suh-weet t-shirt for your little one or one for your little self starting at $25.  Ooh, and an AHOY tattoo!  (I want an ahoy tattoo, guys.)  Besides helping to kickstart a seriously cool new company, you'd also be helping a seriously cool person.  Christine is our newest sponsor and I'm not kidding when I say that I totally adore her...because I do.  I totally adore her.  Trying to talk her into posting here because she is THAT cool.  Anyway, yes!  Snatch up a shirt like the one below while the clock is still ticking!  You will absolutely not regret it.

Shabby Blogs YOUniversity {& team call}

I am sooooo excited to announce something truly lovely...

Shabby Blogs has always been about helping people beautify and personalize their online homes.  Providing you with the most smashing blog couture around is something I will absolutely continue to do- because for whatever reason, you seem to like it.  And I like it too.  It makes me happy to design for you and to share with you whatever talent I have in that arena.  But there is so much more to blogging than just pretty backgrounds and elements!  While your blog design speaks volumes and is definitely important, the most important thing is the actual story YOU are telling.

Everyone has a different story to share.  Some people want to share their latest craft project while others would rather share pictures of their toddler covered in spaghetti sauce.  A lot of people are somewhere in the middle- telling a story that covers more than just one aspect of their lives.  However you choose to tell your story and whatever that story is about, there is one thing every blogger has in common.  It is the need to know who you are.  You can't share a talent you haven't developed.  You can't share a story if there is no story to tell.  Simply put: If you know who you are and what you are, your story will always be one worth telling.  Shabby Blogs would like to help you with that.

After my second daughter was born, I had a bit of an identity crisis.  I remember going to a store with really pretty home furnishings and seeing something that just screamed MEGAN!  (That's my name, you know.  This story would be weird if you didn't know that.)  So I bought it.  And I brought it home.  And I hung it on my wall.  And I cried.  Ha!  It's true though.  I cried because doing that one simple thing made me so happy!  If you're thinking I'm super shallow, that's not it at all.  (Also, geez!  Be nice!)  It didn't have anything to do with owning this particular item or spending money- though husband only knows how much I rather like both.  It was the experience that made me happy.  It was the discovery.  It was the investment, not in "things," but in knowing myself.  I had no idea what I liked in my home or didn't like before that because I never took the time to ask myself.  Isn't that crazy?  That one little choice about myself and my opinion on something I hadn't really thought about before, started me on the most awesome journey.

Once it became apparent that asking myself real questions led to learning new things about who I am and the world around me, things just snowballed right on into excitement and all sorts of empowerment.  Seriously!  The more questions I asked myself, the more homework I had.  And the more homework I had, the more answers I found.  And the more answers I found, the more ME I found.  And you know what?  The more ME I found, the more me I liked.  (I know!!!  It surprised me too!)  And the more me I liked, the more happy I was.  And the best part of aaaaaaall of this is that the more happy I was, the more happy I am, the more happiness I am able to give to the people I love...and even the people I don't love...although I pretty much rather adore just about pretty much everyone.  Kind of rad, right?

So that's what I'm passionate about.  Finding new things I love, everywhere, and in everything, and in everyone.  That is MY story.

I'd like to help you further your own story and also give more people a place to share their loveliness.  That's what I'm going to be doing with Shabby Blogs.  I'm going to keep dishing out free blog designs and awesomeness, but I'm also going to open it up to others to share here.  So many people are so incredibly talented!  Not only will giving them a place to share that help them in the telling of their stories, but it will help us all in the telling of our own too.  Because maybe someone can do a MacGyver thing with pipe cleaner and staples and turn them into a baby sweater.  Or maybe someone else can scrapbook digitally like there's no tomorrow.  They share that and then BAMMM!  You can do it too.  And then you're like, "Whaaat?!!  Why didn't anyone tell me I was so awesome?!!"  And before you know it...POOF.  You've got a brand spankin' new chapter in the story of YOU.  That's how it works, friends.  And I am so so so sooooo excited about it.



Whatever your skill is, we want to know!  Share your talents with the rest of us!  Share your story.  Inspire us.  Teach us about what the heck shoes to wear with what outfit because seriously, for the life of me, I can never figure it out.  Teach us how to mess with the code on our blogs.  (I know I'm supposed to do that, but it isn't any fun for me guys...being totally candid.  If it is fun for YOU, for Pete's sake, get over here!)  Teach us how to make a digital scrapbooking page.  Teach us what to look for in thrift stores and how to make the old and shabby new and...shabby.  Teach us how to take rad pictures so we can brag about our children properly, and yes, even share a selfie now and then.  Be a part of our team.  Teach us how to do what YOU do best so that we can be who we are best.

I can't wait to hear from you!

Mucho love-

shabby blogs at g mail dot com

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Change {Believing In Your Story}

I turned 35 this week.  Nope, I'm not afraid to admit it.  I've put my whole heart and soul into my 35 years on this earth.  I've made massive mistakes and fallen down both literally and figuratively more than a 35-year-old probably should in her lifetime.  But I've also gotten up.  Not gracefully or anything- heaven only knows!  Still, I am alive and I am happy and I am healthy and best of all, I am surrounded by people I love who somehow manage to love me back.  This year, this birthday, has seemed like a big one for me.  I'm not sure it really is, but it has seemed like one.  I've asked myself a LOT of questions.

What have I accomplished in my life?
What should I focus on accomplishing?
What have I given my children?  My husband?  The world?
What am I withholding?
Am I happy?
Am I helping others find happiness?
Am I taking care of myself?
Am I taking care of others?
Do I give enough?
Do I give too much?
What can I learn?
What can I teach?
What path am I on?
What path do I want to be on?

As I have considered Shabby Blogs, I've felt a lot of guilt.  I've felt so bad because I haven't been able to keep up with everything and I let my passion for helping and giving to others through SB die a little.  I felt like it was time to let it go and to let someone else, someone better, take over for me.  What I didn't realize was that maybe there is a better option.  Maybe there is a better way.  Maybe the reason I let myself get burned out was because I was doing it wrong.  Maybe I was just doing it wrong.

I'm going to share with you in another post exactly what I've learned about what I call Blogger Burn-out.  For now, let me just say that I have been on a really cool and much-needed journey that has taken me full circle.  As a result, I will be changing a lot of things at Shabby Blogs.  I don't want to throw anyone off or to confuse anyone, but these changes are a necessary part of my journey- my own story.  I'm going to share those changes with you because it is important to me to keep you in the know, but also because my hope is that these changes/insights may be helpful to others as well.

  • Shabby Blogs has never been a business to me.  That has kept it true to who I am, but also taken from me and my family in both a personal and financial way.  As much as I hate "money stuff," I'm going to have to at least be a tiny bit businessy so that my family can benefit in some way from what I do here.  SB will always be free.  I'm just going to be more open to having sponsors.  Thank you in advance for supporting me in this decision and for supporting Shabby Blogs by visiting and loving on the advertisers/sponsors we currently have and the new ones we will be welcoming in the future.
  • I'm outing myself.  As much as I have always promoted Shabby Blogs in "we" and "us" and "our" terms, the truth is that Shabby Blogs is...just me.  It is one person.  Mrs. Megan Hastings.  (Hello there!)  My sweet older brother coded the original SB site for me and I have hired several people to help me with it over the years.  In the past, I brought in an awesome photographer, Jessica Downey, to write some posts for me and the magnificent Keren from Free Pretty Things has been an absolute angel.  But Shabby Blogs, itself, is just me...myself.  Sorry if that's a disappointment.  Sigh.
  • Being true to myself in all of my various roles, and as a human being in general, is something I am passionate about.  (It sounds strange, but I feel really excited and liberated now that I've given myself permission to be an actual person over here.  Ha!)   I intend to follow my heart and my own interests and passions.  I'm afraid that is going to totally spill out through this blog like water through a cracked dam...and I'm going to not only let that happen, but snatch a swim noodle and ride the wave!  That's different for Shabby Blogs, but I'm hoping you'll like the cool things that wave washes up.
  • While I am passionate about helping you beautify your blogs, I'm most passionate about my belief behind that.  My belief is that every person deserves a place to tell their own unique story.  I love helping people make their own special homes on the web a better reflection of who they are.  That has made me so happy!  But I want to do more than that.  I want to take that further.  Please hang in there with me as I unfold what that means.  :)
  • I'm willing to ask for help.  That's super hard for me, friends.  I'm kind of a control, I hate asking for things.  (Ha!  It's true though!)  In order to make Shabby Blogs all it can be, I need to let people help me.  I'm so excited to be forming my own little team of Shabby Ninjas.  I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but I can already promise you they are going to be some seriously talented people who I know you will love!  Heck- it might even be YOU!
So there you go.  That's what I have learned and what I have in mind for the future of Shabby Blogs.  I'm excited for a fresh start and hope you'll come along with me on this journey.  I would whole-heartedly LOVE your company...because, if you don't mind me saying so...this thing is about to get a lot more awesome!!!!!