Saturday, June 24, 2017

Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots Turns Two!

A year ago today, I sat at my computer writing my first post celebrating my blog's birthday. It was a blog that I had never even imagined existing, so it felt remarkably strange when I picked up party hats, confetti, and a batch of cupcakes for a photo to commemorate the occasion.

I spent the next few hours reviewing all that had happened in our first year. After a virtual re-model, social media exposure, and publishing partnerships, we had gone viral with a post that came straight from my diary and started an entire movement dedicated to fighting beauty distortion and insecurity in today's toxic society. And all of it happened because my friends had annoyed me just enough about publishing things that I had privately written.

Quite a revolution began after that. I was reaching people who struggled with the same things I was struggling with; supporting them and helping them through their time as a body positive warrior. Inspiring confidence became the main goal, and suddenly I had a purpose for writing because I had an audience who was listening. But it wasn't just for the readers.

It was for me, too. Suddenly, I realized that I wasn't alone in struggling with insecurity. Turns out, the number on the scale holds a lot of people captive, and many people question whether or not they truly have anything worthwhile to offer the world.

It's amazing what can happen in a year.

Since then, I had another a revolution in my life, which was ultimately reflected in my blog. If you had told me this time last year that within twelve months I would have reunited with my high school sweetheart and began teaching kindergarten in Nashville, Tennessee... I would've laughed in your face. Yeah right, I'd roll my eyes, like I'll ever see Dylan Roth again. Or Like I could ever land my preferred grade level as a first year teacher. Or Nashville?! Seriously?! 

And yet, here we are. And here you are, whether you're a brand new reader or have been here from the beginning... We're in this together.

So buckle up for our second recap, dear friend. We've made it to year #2!

The #CrayonsToConfidence Movement
If you were a regular reader last year, you probably remember our Beauty Distortion Ban. It was awesome, and completely necessary, but it gave you a snapshot of a lot of my struggles. Not a snapshot of me. Of course I didn't mind sharing the struggles I dealt with every day, but I didn't really feel like my passions were being reflected, and therefore, that my voice wasn't being heard to its fullest potential.

This year, I sought to find a way to combine my struggles with insecurity and my heart for education. Thus, the birth of the #CrayonsToConfidence Movement. How beautiful it is to be a key ingredient in a child's self-confidence; not to mention their curiosity, creativity, and ultimately, their learning! This movement is aimed at fostering confidence in young children the most authentic way possible: by teaching their role models to love themselves first.

If you've ever been around a child...well, know that they are extremely observant. They will model what they see. This does not just include the actions they will do and the words they will say. It also includes the ways they will think. We can't let our four year old daughters see us skipping meals and beginning and ending each day on the scale. We can't let our five year old sons see us degrading other people, whether they are male or female. By struggling with these insecurities in front of our children, we are instilling these insecurities in them. But by fighting these insecurities in front of our children, we are instilling a warrior in them.

Our First Vlog
Seeking a way to celebrate my own birthday after the blog turned one, I turned to YouTube. I wanted a virtual celebration that everyone could be involved in! This eventually translated into our first vlog, where I announced that I would complete a 21st birthday challenge where I would answer 21 of my reader's questions in 2 minutes and 10 seconds. I gave readers one month to submit questions, and on August 23rd, I answered 21 of them!

First Apparel Partners and Giveaways
Just after my birthday, I was contacted by Mieroglyphs to partner with their brand. They offered a line of accessories fit to personalize with encouraging words of the fashionista's choice. They even thought you guys were so awesome and positive that they agreed to give Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots readers a discount code on all their products, and we hosted our first sponsored giveaway that September.

First Guest Writer
For the first time, readers were so moved by our mission that they wanted to take an active part. We welcomed my dear friend and loyal reader Darsha Dodge to the blog last summer with her post All You Need Are Some Chacos & An Adventure. Since then, we have featured other guest writers like Darsha and even shared personal testimonies from our most avid readers like Kristen Arata.

First Post Written For Former Generations (Ages 40+)
I was having a conversation with a bunch of adults. Real adults; like adults from former generations, not adults like me. "So you write for a blog?"

I answered yes, that is was my blog that targeted beauty distortion, self confidence, creativity, all that jazz... And a 45 year old man looked me in the face and said, "So why's all that important anyway?" Here's why. 

First Major Project with Volunteer Sponsors
Seductive, air-brushed models were all over the mall. All over facebook. They were even staring at me in the check-out line at the grocery store and I, like so many others, was fed up. So, after months of partnering with models and photographers, we gave our readers a little Christmas present. The Photo Recreation Project was published on December 25th, showing readers what real women looked like in both their whimsical state and their amorous state. We really are beautiful creatures...all of the time!

First Post Touching On Politics
Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots has a mission to remain positive in all aspects it covers...which is why I steered clear of politics for the longest time. After all, one mention of the past presidential election is sure to guarantee a comment war on all forms of social media, so I never mentioned it. But readers were asking, so I published something from my private diary, reminding readers that we are all entitled to our own opinion, and that if they didn't like what I had to say (or felt convicted in any way), they didn't have to read it.

Gained Support of Skincare Lines and Dermatology Clinics
Sometimes the only inspiration needed for a viral post is a mother's facebook status asking for dermatology recommendations for her teenage daughter. Scarred by my own experiences, I made my recommendation public and it was published online by the heroes of my success story, Premier Dermatology. 

Hip, Hip, Mary Kay
Ironically, not long after my skincare post was published, I needed a way to make money. Something with flexible hours that I could do while student teaching and performing my last year of guard in college. Something that could aid my transition to wherever I would end up next, and something to still be available when I reached my new city. But it had to be something I believed in.

It wasn't long before I stumbled upon the mission of Mary Kay; inspiring women to be their most beautiful self by taking care of their body. Next thing I knew, I was standing before groups of women regularly, teaching skincare classes and hosting facials, slowly but surely making women's smile grow as they recognized their own beauty.

Celebrating Life As A Single Woman
Somewhat comical now because I am so secure in a relationship, but it wasn't always that way. In fact, less than a year ago, I was struggling with how to handle life after not dating for a couple of consecutive years. A Lady In Waiting was published as I discovered confidence in myself when it is hardest for women to find it: when we are on our own.

A Walk Down Nostalgia Lane
If you could tell your former self anything, what would you say? I needed my high school self to know she was pretty awesome, so I wrote her a letter. I'm not sure if she read it, but a lot of other people certainly did. Including my high school sweetheart, Dylan Roth.

His acknowledgement of the post startled me, probably as the post itself had startled him. Only a few months later, we would be having coffee, going to La La Land for the third time in theaters, and planning my move to Nashville so that long distance wouldn't be an obstacle for long.

I was so busy planning my new beginning, that I had forgotten to enjoy everything that was ending. Suddenly, I found myself aging out of winterguard (a sport I dedicated ten years of my life to) and graduating college to enter a profession drastically different than anything my loved ones were involved in. My posts continued to document my transition as I moved to Nashville, and the blog published its first series this summer.

The Suitcase College Grad series was published during my highest time of anxiety, after I'd graduated but before I'd been hired. The trilogy followed me as I moved to Nashville, fought to pay my rent, and eventually got hired as a Kindergarten teacher.

Life in Nashville
Once again, the blog required an update. A slight remodel. At least a new author bio, since the girl the past six months has made me is drastically different from the girl that existed this time last year. And you followed the metamorphosis first hand this year.

So if you just joined us here in blog land... Hello! I'm Bethany, and I'm a blogger who sees many more years in my future of inspiring confidence and creativity in young children, one crayon at a time.

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