Style

State of the Blog: Don’t Call It a Comeback

Last year, I graduated from law school and made the decision to postpone the bar exam and take the year off.  A year off from what, you ask?  Well, as it turns out, life.

Since I was 18, I have worked and/or been in school nearly every day.  I was that weirdo who took summer classes, often held two jobs, and was in more extracurriculars than I could count.  I took pride in being a “busy” person (until busy became a loaded word).  Wasn’t it time for a break?

But my time off wasn’t just for traveling and visiting family, though I did plenty of that.  The real trouble was that when I started law school, I knew exactly what I was going to do post-graduation.  By the time I finished, all of those best-laid plans had been blown to absolute smithereens.

Everyone who thinks they have their life figured out take one step forward. Oh, Abra, so cute, but, no.

I turn 35 in just 27 days.  This past year was supposed to be about figuring out what the second half of my life was going to look like.  And what did I figure out?  Would you believe absolutely nothing?

All I discovered in the past year is that, at least for me, taking a break meant stagnating.  It wasn’t a completely lost year — I did add a few stamps to my passport and pass the bar exam — but the hard mental work of decision-making and goal-setting did not get done.  It turns out the trick to moving forward is actually moving.  Otherwise, you’re just in a voluntary limbo.  Few people are so self-actualized that they can stand in one place without standing in a rut.

So what’s next?

A few weeks ago, I sat down and made a list of goals I want to accomplish in the next 12-months.  If age 34 became the year of limbo, age 35 is going to be the year of moving forward.

Goal One: Take better care of myself physically.  I started with the easy one and hired a personal trainer to help me get back in shape.  When the octogenarian next to you can bench more than you can, it’s a deeply humbling experience.

Goal Two: Get my financial house in order.  Like many people, I struggle with my finances.  Beyond just spending less and saving more, I need to change the way I view money.  For the past year, I’ve been using the Clarity Money and Albert apps to keep me accountable for my regular spending.  And last week, I made the decision to only use cash until I can remold the way I think about my finances.

Goal Three: Take this blog back to the business of realness.  At some point in the past year, I got caught up in what this blog will never be.  I’ll never post gorgeous photos from exotic locales.  I’ll never be the blogger who poses on a street corner in the perfect outfit, with the perfect hair (oh, the hair).  And I’ll never be the blogger who exchanges quippy banter with designers and celebrities from the front row of Fashion Week.

But then, last month, it dawned on me that I never gave a damn about any of that before, so why should I care now?  I became so trapped by what this blog won’t be, that I forgot what it was and what it should be again.

So I did two things.  First, I spent an unfathomable sum of money on a designer and a developer to launch The Work Edit 2.0 (coming later this month).  I swear, if I see one more font or Pantone color swatch…

Second, I went through the posts from two and three years ago to remind myself of what this blog looked like before law school looted and pillaged my psyche.  It was then that I realized that this blog doesn’t need to be completely different.  It doesn’t need be reinvented.  It just needs to go back to basics.  I’m never going to have one million Instagram followers, but in a post-Fyre Festival world, maybe that’s a good thing.  I don’t have to do it their way in order to do it well.  Now, I just have to figure out what my way looks like.

Goal Four: Figure out where I want to live.  If I could be living anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?  D.C.  Duh.  It is my Mecca, it is my mothership, it is the only place other than Montana that I will ever say felt like home.  There’s just one enormous problem, well, two, really.

First, my boyfriend will not move.  He mulls the idea from time-to-time and occasionally seems open to it.  But I know this man, he’s not going anywhere.  He has a life, close friends, a career, and he’s happy here.  This prompts two deeply difficult, uncomfortable questions: Is there a way I can be both in D.C. and in WA?  Or do I need to leave so bad that I have to go without him?  Excuse me, I need a drink.

Second, my last two years in D.C. could be best described as perspective-altering verging on traumatic.  I was stalked, threatened, and harassed.  As a result, I developed panic attacks, and can no longer handle the levels of stress that I once bore easily.

Beyond that, the culture of Capitol Hill has changed a lot since I arrived in 2005.  It’s less congenial, more vitriolic, and (as many of my friends report) more stressful by the minute.  I ask myself daily, can you really go back?  Would you survive this new, seemingly meaner, D.C.?  Or is it time to do something else with your life?

There’s no good way to answer these questions.  So I’m going to head back to D.C. for a few weeks and see if I can’t sort them out on site.  Stay tuned.

Goal Five: Conquer the World. Just kidding, the first four are plenty for right now.  Five will have to wait for later.

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    109 comments

  1. Crystal says:

    This is one of the most honest posts I’ve read – thank you. Best of luck!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  2. Jenna says:

    Thank goodness for what “this blog will never be”! It’s what keeps me reading everyday for the past 7 years. I love that you have a budget, an actual job, and admit that you don’t have it all figured out. It’s real. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Kate says:

      Agree!! I just can’t get into the blogs that are 90% airbrushed photos, celeb events, and sponsored posts. They’re not authentic and I can’t relate. By contrast, this blog is the *only one* that I’ve consistently followed for nearly 5 years now. Precisely because of your authenticity and real-meaty content. So looking forward to seeing where you move it forward, but please don’t become just another airbrushed photo blog!

      May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Liz says:

      Well said Jenna. Agree completely. I love this blog including the realness and the changes that have ebbed and flowed gradually over time. I’m excited to see what you do next.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Liz Hempowicz says:

      I could not agree more. I started reading the blog right before I moved to DC for law school (6 years ago, crazy). I Found it in a search for – you guessed it – what professional women wear in DC. Moving from NYC, I had no clue what to expect and you were a beacon!

      I’ve been reading regularly (read: daily) since and have turned more classmates/coworkers/friends on to this blog than I can count. What you do here is so much more useful to me (and my colleagues) than those blogs that this will never be.

      Thank you for being so authentic and open! And good luck!!

      May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Anna says:

      I second this! So many fashion blogs seem to be about young women fulfilling their childhood fantasies to be models. All I can think about is how ridiculous it must look when they’re posing for these photos in the middle of the street.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
      • Carolyn says:

        My thoughts exactly! That and why are they always touching their hair?

        Belle – your honesty and opinions are why I’ve read this blog for so many years! Cheers to a new chapter!

        May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Candace says:

      As a reader since 2010 (Is that right?), I couldn’t agree more. I read the blog daily, and that is only true for your website. I don’t follow any other fashion blogs because of the inauthenticity of it all. Thank you for making this such a great place of community for all of us. Best of luck to you in your 35th year!

      May 2, 2017/Reply
    • BPT says:

      Yes, thank you. I really miss what this blog used to be. I relied on this blog when I started in DC as an intern, and it was my guide as I got a real job and moved up in DC. I don’t care about other fashion blogs. And while the daily link roundup is fine, it’s not what I came here for. I miss the old Capitol Hill Style, and I’m really excited to (hopefully) have it back soon. Seriously, thank you Belle for the work you’ve done on it (and I know you’ve had major upheavals in your life that have kept you from working on the blog full-time). I’ll just be excited to be able to unequivocally recommend this blog again, and not with the caveat “look through the archives for the old fashion posts.”

      May 2, 2017/Reply
  3. ShannonS says:

    There are very few decisions in life that are permanent. A job can be changed for another job, if a move wasn’t for you then you can move back, if a date isn’t working out you can make a polite excuse and go home. But to back down and say no thanks, first you have to say yes. I think the only things in life I’ve regretted are the ones I’ve said no to without giving them a whirl first.

    So definitely give DC an extended visit – you may decide you still love it, and it is where you belong. Or you may decide (as I do every time I’m in town) that you’ve outgrown the place and it’s gotten too pricy, too sanitized, too cranky, too trendy, too whatever. You won’t know until you try.

    Best of luck with all of your new adventures.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Madeline says:

      Same here! I am not impressed by the blogs that have two sponsored posts a week and showcase pieces that start at $400. I want to know how clothes feel, how the shoes fit all day, how to wear the latest styles in an office instead of at a rooftop party. I applaud your transparency in your school life, personal life and mental state. It is refreshing and is why I get so excited every time I see a new blog pop up from you! Your blog is the one I would create if I had MY life together. 🙂

      May 2, 2017/Reply
      • Stephanie says:

        This is exactly what I feel! I moved from DC last year after spending 6 years there. Never realized how ready I was for a change until after I moved.

        “Or you may decide (as I do every time I’m in town) that you’ve outgrown the place and it’s gotten too pricy, too sanitized, too cranky, too trendy, too whatever.

        May 2, 2017/Reply
        • ShannonS says:

          My first year out of DC, I missed it. Now, by the end of every visit, I’m just aching to leave. It’s just so expensive and spit-shined and chain-stored and soulless to me now. I enjoy seeing my friends, and I’m homesick for the DC of five or ten or fifteen years ago. But the current version just doesn’t suit me at all.

          May 4, 2017/Reply
  4. Sara says:

    Thank you for your openness. Your blog is awesome and don’t try to be anything other than yourself; I’ve been following you for years and think you have something special. As for moving, if you feel it’s time to go, it’s time to go. The rest will work itself out. Good luck!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  5. Nancy says:

    Good luck, Abra! This is my favorite blog, has been for many years, and that is because of its realness.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  6. Sara B. says:

    I definitely understand the dilemma of being here in DC versus near the ones you love. Back in 2013, I moved home after 5 years in DC and I hated it so much that I ended up back in DC less than a year later. I think that decision was based on having gone through a hard time, including long-term unemployment and the loss of a relationship at the same time. I thought moving home would be something it wasn’t– that living near my old college friends meant I would be hanging out with them all the time, that my family and I would be closer, and that I’d reconnect to that “simple Midwest lifestyle” I’d grown up in and lost touch with. Turns out none of that was true– college friends were married with kids, my family members all had lives that I didn’t see at the holidays, and I realize I had outgrown my home state and there was nothing there for me. Being back in DC 3 years later, I question constantly whether the decision I made to move back here is worth the sacrifice of high rent, expensive tickets to fly home, the political stress, losing friends through attrition and not being able to make new ones as easily as I did when I was on the Hill. Honestly, some days I struggle to feel joy and at peace. Right now, I’ve got the kind of job I pursued for almost 10 years and I’m grateful that I stuck to my guns on my career dreams when people told me I couldn’t do it, but some days it feels like I sacrificed a little too much for all of it at the expense of things, like love. Giving it a test run is a great idea, and thinking through everything without fear is a good way to figure out. I wish you the best of luck in this decision from someone who was (sort of) there once, too. The only concrete advice I have is, whatever decision you make, don’t look back. But you’ll know the feeling if it leaves you unsettled.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  7. Lauren says:

    Wishing you the very best, Belle! I’m SO GLAD you’re not like other bloggers- there are more than enough of them, they feel generic, and you are the only one I read daily anymore- and still look forward to. I’m so sorry to hear what you endured before you left D.C. Sometimes the life we find ourselves happiest in ends up looking not very much like the one we expected/thought we needed. Exciting, amazing, scary, frustrating, right?

    I love your goals- I just turned 34 a week ago, and am trying to figure out my finances better, and some other bigger life goals.

    On the physical well being, would love to encourage any ladies reading this to make sure you’re doing breast self exams- I found a lump a few weeks ago, had my first mammogram, and had a biopsy this past Friday. Still waiting on results, and am embarrassed to admit that I’m not always consistent with the self-exams (but I’m admitting it anyway, because I think that could be said for many of us). It’s not a bad goal for us all to add in!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I found a lump last year. It turned out to be an infection and some dense breast tissue (phew). But even though I spent a month terrified, it was totally worth it to know what it was. Good luck to you, it’s stressful. I know some people aren’t into self-exams because they could end up finding something that turns out to be nothing, but I wish everything women found in a self-exam turned out to be nothing.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
  8. SPS says:

    Love the blog for everything it’s not.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  9. Cecile says:

    Belle – you’re my hero & my spirit animal <3 thank you for this amazing blog and everything you do! This post was exactly what my soul needed to hear today. Best of luck on the DC adventure. Can't wait to follow along!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  10. Lisa G says:

    Good luck on the life search, Belle. As a 46 year old DC attorney celebrating both 20 years practicing and 20 years married this year, I am using these milestones to do some reflection of my own. I hear I’m a good listener, if you need an objective ear.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  11. Jen says:

    Belle, I cannot put into words how much I relate to this post. Specifically the part pertaining to your boyfriend. I met my boyfriend two years ago, home only for a week from a 6 month internship in D.C. I also love D.C. and I count down the months until I graduate law school and I can go back. I went back once last year, I’ve already gone back three times this year, and I’m about to leave for another internship over the summer. However, my boyfriend swears my love for the city and the desire to go back has caught him off guard. It poses a tough question. I’m just finishing up my first year of law school, and I’m maybe leaning towards taking the bar exam down there. I look for answers from other people, but the reality is I need to listen to myself. Would I want to live my life full of resentment in Cleveland? I’m leaning towards no….but where does that leave me? I really appreciated this post. I feel like my friends don’t care about this problem (“you can’t love D.C. that much, can you?”) and my family says follow your heart blindly. Please know we love and support you, and you’re at least helping this one reader more than you know.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Do not follow your heart blindly. Don’t do anything blindly.

      There’s part of me that thinks, “Hey, I can totally do this WA thing right? I’ll get a job in Olympia or as a lobbyist or something. We’ll have a couple of kids, I’ll be home by 6pm. I’ll be in bed by 10. I’ll…” My GOD that sounds terrible to me. It sounds like paradise to a lot of women though, and I can’t knock that because we’re all chasing a different dream. Me, I’ve been chasing a Big Life since I was in kindergarten, it seems dumb to quit that race now. But can I have a big life in WA? I don’t know. Your big life is what you make it–for some of my friends that’s coaching little league and sleeping in on Saturdays. That’s just not for me.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
      • J says:

        I am doing the WA/Oly leg thing as a stop gap for DC. It’ s just not the same.

        May 2, 2017/Reply
        • Belle says:

          Really? Tell me, how not the same? I have a couple of law school friends who work there, and I could have a position there if I wanted it. I’m just not sure what it fixes, but I’m deeply interested. Email me if you’re more comfortable.

          May 2, 2017/Reply
          • J says:

            I will shoot you an email with my thoughts! Obviously just one perspective

            May 2, 2017/Reply
        • Cyn says:

          Love love love this blog and your honesty! A quick aside on WA-it may not seem heavy hitter here but there are big deal and new exciting things happening here outside of the Olympia thing-think space travel off the top of my head-so by all means have another look at D.C but when you return to the Evergreen state, might not be the worst thing to explore all the possibilities here. Take care and thanks again for all your hard work-as you can see from the comments, we love ya”

          May 3, 2017/Reply
        • P says:

          I too, always wanted something big. Things change, people change, events happen that change you. I live in DC, have been working hard towards that big life, doing important work for the last 15 years. Then I had a baby. I changed. More than I thought I would. I thought it would be nothing to leave my baby for long days at work and late happy hours but I can’t wait to get home to see him. I also came back to work facing the reality that I had been gone several months and they moved on without me. I’m now singing for my supper at my current job and looking for something new fast.

          My advice, control what you can and be happy with your decisions because so much is out of our control, including often how we actually feel.

          love love love your blog. thank you for not taking photos in crosswalks touching your hair.

          May 3, 2017/Reply
      • Laura says:

        Hi Belle,
        Thank you so much for your general post today and for your response to the comment above. I lived in DC for a while, moving to Seattle only to pursue a graduate degree. I assumed I would move back as soon as I was done. But every time I visited DC, it always seemed to no longer be quiet the right fit anymore (but close enough for me to still want it to be).

        I also met a man I love in Seattle- he is willing to move eventually but for professional reasons needs to be here for at least 5 years. Now, having just finished my degree, I am unsure where to go and what to do next- the professional and geographic aspirations I moved to Seattle with no longer are true, but I am unsure what replaces them. I know my life with my boyfriend would be a good life (assuming he wants that too). But like you I always wanted a Big Life (thank you for saying that in such a pithy manner), even if I am now no longer sure, in my field, what that looks like.

        In the meantime I have taken a post-doc in LA, commuting back to Seattle on weekends. So… Yay! for stop-gap measures that are professionally advantageous?

        May 2, 2017/Reply
      • RMR says:

        We can’t have everything. As someone who sacrificed my career for my spouse/family, I’ll say it was worth it. It is very hard for me to say that because it was a very big sacrifice in my heart and it has truly taken me several years to come to terms with it. My 20-year old self may be shocked by my 38-yr old self. I have several friends that didn’t “settle down” and are now desperately trying to find a partner as they near or are 40. Their clock is ticking very loudly to them. If you know you don’t want kids now, good for you, really truly. But IM(very)HO, if you’ve found a life partner you could spend your life with, don’t dismiss him so quickly for a sentimental memory of a DC city that used to be. For me, I’d rather feel love, then content at work. Its all choices and priorities.

        May 2, 2017/Reply
        • lawyer says:

          To the WA/DC conversation above, I left WA because, from a legal perspective, it was just too small/backwaterish a market, TBH. I was in biglaw in Seattle, and the lifestyle was great, but you don’t get the big deals for the big clients as a Seattle-based lawyer (the Microsofts and Amazons of the world will use you for small work but not for bet-the-company stuff). Oly is a lovely city (so beautiful, fun quirky, great food), but if you have sort of traditional professional ambitions, it’s not going to satisfy those.

          I elected not to settle down when I was younger because I was more career-oriented than relationship-oriented, and that’s worked out for me. Yes, I am nearing 40 and looking for a partner, but not “desperately.” You have to know yourself – I made the opposite trade-off, and it was right for me.

          May 3, 2017/Reply
          • Anna says:

            Do you think it’s kind of a big fish/small pond situation or are there also limited opportunities? I’m at the point where I don’t feel a need to climb the ladder or be the best. Making decent (as in enough to live comfortably, not mega bucks) money and not having to think about work 24/7 are my priorities. Contemplating a move out west to be closer to my boyfriend, but worried about risking it all and being stuck out there with a limited support network. I work in DC in political communications, but am considering a move to the private sector.

            May 3, 2017/Reply
      • Anna says:

        I too always wanted the Big Life, but now I’m not sure what that looks like. I don’t really feel like I fit into the DC rat race anymore, but don’t think small town life, or maybe even small city life, is really for me. I left Florida the first chance I got, but now I’m seeing the appeal of being near family and recognizing all the things that made Miami special. Ugh decisions.

        May 3, 2017/Reply
  12. Manda says:

    Good luck, Belle! Your goals are admirable, but more so is your honesty in admitting that a year off didn’t work out as well as you hoped. You’ve got a neuroscientist in the Netherlands cheering you on as you tackle finances and your love/work lives, the blog will be totally fine. As a long-time reader, I know your voice and perspective won’t change no matter what life phase you enter.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  13. Anon Anon says:

    This blog is so wonderful because your lessons seem so achievable. It’s not a fantasy world that my real life will never mirror—it’s an outfit I can walk to a reasonably priced store and grab, or a necklace that I realize is worth splurging for. Please don’t feel like it ever needs to be anything but the incredibly helpful, lovely, and useful place it already is!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  14. Mary G. says:

    We’ve got your back, Belle. One of my favorite quotes is, “Progress, not perfection,” and I applaud you for coming to DC to test the waters again. xx

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  15. AAR says:

    Rooting for you tons, Abra/Belle. I’ve been reading this blog since 2012, and your realness is what’s kept me coming back. Thank you for your tenacity! Also–when you’re in DC, I hope you host some sort of talk/seminar. I know it would benefit women to hear about your journey and to get some real advice.

    God Bless, and keep on keeping on.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  16. Gabby says:

    Over the years, as I’ve followed style blogs, I’ve dropped all the ones with the airbrushed, “aspirational”, spend-half-your-monthly-salary-on-one-piece-of-your-outfit nonsense. I’m a 31 year-old government affairs professional and I want a fashion perspective I can actually use in my daily life…which is why I’ve followed you for years now and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I’ve felt a lot of these struggles myself (the post-law school figuring it out, the partner who doesn’t want to go where you want to be, trying to get finances in order), and I’m hoping you’re able to find your path. I’ll be reading along and rooting for you!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  17. Ellen says:

    I will echo what many other people have said, and I love this blog for its realness, for the lack of airbrushed photos, for the hope that I can actually achieve some of these looks (although unlikely the hair. I am seriously challenged.). I also appreciate the honesty regarding your struggles (depression, that you don’t have an unlimited budget etc). I discovered your site when I first moved to DC in 2008 and it is the only, *only* website that I religiously read. Thank you for all of your efforts, and I look forward to what you do next.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  18. HBMooney says:

    Belle – I LOVE this. Can’t wait to see the new site design. On another note, for your #1 goal, if you want to come workout with me here in DC, you’re welcome to! I coach at a studio in town and tote around to other places outside where I coach, too, that are havens for me. E-mail if you’d like to join. Outside of that, keep it up with the blog. You’re doing everything right for your fans!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  19. Chris says:

    I desperately needed this post today. I’m struggling with some of the same things and have been wallowing in anxiety and sorrow today. Time to make a list and start moving forward. Thank you.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  20. Allison says:

    Belle/Abra, I can relate to all of this so much! I’ve been in that exact situation that you are in with where to live, but for me it was DC or Denver, and the guy question to boot. I have no advice, that’s such a personal decision, just wanted to say I feel you. 🙂 I’m similar to you with my ambition, I’ve always been the summer school/multiple jobs/always busy person as well. I realized my root for that was that I thought when I achieved some goal I’d finally be happy. I’ll be happy when I finish grad school, I’ll be happy when I make XYZ salary, I’ll be happy when he proposes (icky don’t judge me), etc, and realized that as I was reaching these goals it felt good to reach them, but it wasn’t given me a fulfilling, stable, “I’m done now” satisfaction that I wanted. I recently heard Shawn Achor speak and found some useful truths in it. He talks about joy being, “the joy you feel striving toward your potential.” That sounds like fuel for a crazy over achievers fire, but I realized that if I could find joy in the pursuit of a goal I care about, that made happiness/joy and now thing, not a future thing. Anyway, it may or may not resonate with you but I wanted to share in case it does. His TED talk- https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  21. mallory says:

    I am a 50 yo suburban SAHM with not much in common with you other than I used to work in politics. For some reason though I still check in every day and haven’t dropped you like I have most other blogs. You resonate with me for some reason. My best advice is to pray on it. I am not kidding and I am not a religious fanatic by any stretch. What I have discovered in the past couple years is that this really, really works. You will get your answer, sometimes sooner and sometimes later. Sometimes subtle and sometimes in your face, but you will get it. The important thing is that you are open to recognize the answer. Things like that little voice in your head-it is not always your own voice. I have found my answer to come that way more times than I can say. Is it God, angels, or even the universe? Not sure but being receptive to it is life changing.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  22. SN says:

    Here’s a thought about money. I moved to the US from England in 1981 and have lived here ever since. At that time I was making an annual salary of $13K. I had a roommate who owned the house we shared, since she was a realtor. She ALWAYS had money, even though the market was flat at that time and for several years after. She made a comment that has stayed with me ever since. It was this:

    “The difference between you and me is that you try to live within your income but I try to make my income fit my needs”.

    Taking this on board enabled me to aggressively go after better paying jobs and make 2 career changes. I now run my own business. Yes, I stay within my income at the level of routine bill paying. Otherwise, I focus on growing my income. The other thing I found helpful was the plethora of money/finance focused magazines. I started reading them in the early 80s and learned a huge amount about managing money. We had nothing like that in the UK then, though things have changed. Since I am single, I have had to rely on my own resources, including managing money effectively.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  23. s-p-c says:

    Have loved the blog for many years (fellow almost-35-year-old lawyer in DC), and I very much look forward to following your recommendations and your journey.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  24. L says:

    Your blog has been a daily read for me since I started as an intern in DC years ago, and thank you for all of the excellent, realistic career advice (both fashion-related and non-fashion-related) over the years! Yours is one of the few blogs that I still follow, and I am looking forward to reading The Work Edit 2.0.

    Good luck with the upcoming decision about DC–I had to make a similar decision about five years ago, and am so happy that I chose to stay in the city rather than with my then-boyfriend. Especially these days, DC has a lot more to offer than just politics, and I urge you to explore paths that are not related or are only tangentially related. I realized politics was not a good fit for me after my internship and first “real job”, but I still live on Capitol Hill, work in a field completely unrelated to politics (and thoroughly enjoy my career), and love this city even more every day.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  25. Diana says:

    I’ve commented a few times over the years and I’ve always appreciated how real this blog is. Thank for you that.

    About life… We’re the same age – 35 – and I also went to law school a little later (at 28). My childhood dream was always D.C. politics…and I finally made it a couple months ago. (Only 15 years later than my childhood self imagined I’d get here 😉 ) As a lobbyist, I (like to think I) shape policy and I get to advocate for a cause near to my heart. And I can afford to pay my law school loans while I do it!

    But do you know what I’ve been surprised to discover? That I miss the job I had fresh out of law school working as a staffer at a state capitol. You really do get to directly help everyday people. You’re changing lives in a tangible way that can be missing from national politics. And do you know what else? I miss the slower pace of state politics. There, I said it. After a lifetime of being the perfect student, the go-getter, the ambitious one, I’ve realized I enjoy a calmer pace. I don’t like keeping up with the 24 hour news cycle. I don’t relish the non-stop buzz of Politico news alerts hitting my inbox. And I certainly don’t love the DC cost of living. So if you need to stay out west, and you still want to be involved in policy/politics, maybe state politics is an option for you. That’s my sketched-in-pencil goal for a few years down the road, now that my 12 year old self has been appeased 😉

    Good luck to you. We’re all on this journey together.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  26. Samantha says:

    I, personally, am interested in the finances piece you mentioned. I feel as though it’s not often mentioned on blogs, especially fashion blogs. My questions to start, how do you think about money now? How do you want to think about money? Do you think your blog has impacted your perception of money or of “things” and how you spend your money?

    I agree with what many commenters have said regarding the fact that it’s great that your blog isn’t “perfectly airbrushed” – I think it would be really interesting to see how that intersects with finance as well.

    Also, I’ve been hearing a lot about The Financial Gym, which might help you on your journey to rethinking your relationship to money.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Let me think about how I would write that post, but maybe it’s something we should discuss on the blog.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Allegra says:

      Hi Samantha,

      I work at the Financial Gym and love that you’ve been hearing about it! Can I ask where?

      We’d also love to know more about the questions you asked regarding feelings and money. We watch our clients transform in terms of their feeling towards money. What once brought up feelings of shame, confusion and even paralyzation when it came to money management transitions into clarity, empowerment and excitement. It’s amazing to watch our clients turn negative relationships with money into such positive ones!

      If you or anyone else wants to learn more about what we do or talk about your money journeys, feel free to contact me at allegra@fingyms.com.

      May 3, 2017/Reply
    • KM says:

      I’m interested too! I imagine it would be hard to manage spending while blogging. When I need to take a spending break, I honestly stop “window shopping” online & take a break from blogs. I would imagine this would be difficult it if was your job to always look at new product. I also read a lot of blogs where the women have kids & might mention budgeting for a family but then do a lot of sponsored posts with c/o kids clothes & meals (blue apron etc.) …. which would certainly affect your budget if you didn’t have to buy these things. Something I’ve always wondered & thought about

      May 3, 2017/Reply
  27. Chris says:

    This is a great post. As someone who has struggled with shifting career paths, I’m quite familiar with the dilemma of ‘figuring things out’ vs not doing a damn thing!

    I only recently discovered your blog—through a random google search about something completely different. Since then, I have gone back and skimmed through nearly a year of old posts. While my needs aren’t quite as corporate, I’m thankful to have found a great sartorial eye that has similar tastes to my own. Thanks for your thoughtful work.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  28. Sarah says:

    I came to this blog several years ago when I was looking for inspiration for outfits and perspective on my new internship in state politics. 4+ years later and I’m now a staffer for leadership, but my need for inspiration, real talk, perspective, has not diminished. That is why I keep coming back. There are so many bloggers out there who want to portray this shiny gloss of what life is like on promotional trips or sponsored content or overly aspirational posts. Frankly, I don’t really see the appeal. I love how the Cap Hill Style/Work Edit community are real women who get me and the challenges I’m facing in my life, plus a whole lot of approachable fashion and beauty.

    No matter our age, I think the most surprising thing about adulthood is that we cannot predict a damn thing. Every time we think we’ve got a handle on what’s going on and where things are headed, we’re kicked on our asses. Many of us are afraid to admit that, but I think we’re stronger if we’re able to be honest with ourselves and with our communities. So, kudos to you for putting it out there are serving as a role model for how to take charge and forge ahead. In the meantime, we’re here cheering you on and excited for this blog, our old friend, to be here with us as we all figure our shit out.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  29. Amber says:

    DC is absolutely more cutthroat and ego-centric. It’s driving me off the Hill. I’ve only been here seven years, but it’s plenty.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  30. Erin says:

    I’m a longtime reader (like so many others above!), but rare commenter. I had to comment today because I feel you on the boyfriend who won’t move. My husband is very settled and happy in our current city (which luckily is DC), but it’s not the best city for my career. I reached an important fork in my career this spring and the ambitious part of me wanted to strive for the absolute best I could do, which would have put us in a different city. My husband is here and my family is here and there is a perfectly good career option here, but it’s not the best fit.

    Anyway, I chose to stay in DC. And I want to say: it’s ok. Whatever you decide is ok. So often we hear about putting ourselves and our careers first, but sometimes it’s ok to choose your life and your love and your family. And it doesn’t mean he loves you any less. There’s no right answer, these are some of the most difficult choices there are, but whatever you decide is ok. Sending strength in whatever you decide.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  31. Sarah says:

    Welcoming you back warmly to DC – our mecca! I have followed you for years and have the same love for DC, politics and fashion, but also find myself questioning – is this the same city I fell in love with? Now that I’m in the private sector, I see the opportunity to impart change in a new way that challenges me and makes me re-think my idea of the way this world operates. Don’t worry about wanting to be in DC and leaving behind WA, in this day and age there is no reason a responsible and driven person can’t work on both coasts and be equally effective…the genius of the internet. So glad that you’re facing this new chapter with renewed vigor! Cheers to 35!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  32. Susan says:

    Belle/Abra:
    Thank you for being you and not posting those self indulgent airbrushed ridiculous photos. Sometmes those blogs are so narcissistic they make me want to vomit. Yours is real, refreshing and unlike any other blog and for that we are extremely grateful.

    Good luck with the life decisions. It’s never easy. I don’t really believe in a fundamental right or wrong choice. It’s just the right choice for the right person at the right time. Go with your gut. Some of the seemingly worst decisions I’ve made have turned out to be the best thing for me. Long story short you will make the best of whatever you do. It’s in your nature.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  33. Anne says:

    Thank you for such a self-aware and honest post. These things seem to go in cycles. I’m 13 years older than you and left DC a long time ago, but here I am — 21 years out of law school, closing down the private practice I’ve had for 12 years and about to start a new job as a legal defender. Quite different from what I thought would happen to me at ages 25 and 35. But as someone else said, it’s not about making the right choice, its about making the choice for right now. l’chaim!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  34. Monica T. says:

    One of the things I’ve realized fairly recently is that I’ve never made up my mind until I reach the fork in the road where I must choose a direction. Up until then I can always see both sides of my decision, and maybe they make sense to me differently on different days of the week! You have a lot on your plate, a lot of decisions to make, because even NOT making a decision is a decision. As everyone else here has said, your blog is different because you are so real, and so honest. If you are as astute in real life as you are on the page then I’m sure your path will become clear to you. I wish you luck, as a fellow traveler looking for my path. Just when I think it’s all been decided and I’m going to sit back and coast through the next 40 or so years I get another fork in the road.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  35. Anna says:

    This post really hit home. I have been thinking about a break. I too have been going non-stop since I graduated high school (I got my job on the Hill before I even graduated college). I’m 9 years into working on the Hill, and I know I want a change but I don’t know what. I have a similar problem as you in reverse. My boyfriend actually lives about an hour from Spokane, and while he definitely wants to move, that’s where his business is right now. If he’s successful, he’s likely to expand to Spokane or Seattle, but not out of the region. I can’t really work in his town, but don’t know if I want to stay in DC. Sometimes it feels like I have so much going on in my brain that I can’t clearly figure out what it is that I want and almost want the chance to feel bored. I feel like I’m stagnating, but don’t know what the right course of action would be to change that.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      If you’re going to take a break:

      1) It must have an end date. If it doesn’t you’ll treat every day like it’s the same.

      2) You must fill it. You must. I don’t care if you learn to run triathlons or take up crochet or decide to become the best volunteer at the local elementary, but you MUST have something to get you out of bed every day.

      3) I would not recommend going beyond six months. After that, you start to lose focus.

      4) If you come to Spokane, you email me. We’ll drink. Or coffee. Or whatever.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
      • Jess says:

        I just wanted to say, I love that you’re offering #4. Makes me want to come to Spokane!

        May 3, 2017/Reply
  36. Rachel says:

    Piling on the love, Belle! Apparently like everyone else, I also only read your blog daily. Your honesty and relatability are what bring all of your readers back over and over. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us while providing real and reasonable fashion, beauty, and career insight. Wishing you the best and totally feeling your third-life-crisis angst. ❤

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  37. Steph says:

    What if you work in state government? Or for the local chapter of a national organization you believe in? Maybe you can find a way to work in politics without leaving WA.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      We live on the wrong side of the state for that, but I’m looking into it.

      May 2, 2017/Reply
  38. SunnyIA says:

    Thanks for keeping it real – you are going through some tough times that most of us can relate to. I had a huge, life-changing decision to make (new career + moving across the country) a few years ago. I spent a lot of time researching how to make decisions. (I’m a scientist – it’s how I approach everything.) The ONLY thing that helped was watching Ruth Chang’s TED talk, “How to make hard choices” – it’s the advice you wish you could pay someone to give you. It put things in perspective and made me realize there wasn’t a right or wrong choice. I still use her framework to help me make tough decisions.

    p.s. I say this as someone who usually rolls her eyes anytime someone says the words “TED Talk”

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  39. Addie says:

    6 years ago I came to D.C. as an intern. At the time I was living in a city without much going on, which was the opposite of Austin, TX where I was raised. I fell in love with D.C. instantly. As my dad puts it, when they picked me up at the end of my internship, I told them “These are my people. I’m coming back.” And I did, 7 months later. I didn’t truly find my place here until August of last year. But it was worth the wait. My parents and my brother have both since relocated to South Carolina. I love visiting them there and the slower pace is a nice temporary change of pace. But I am always ready to get back to the hustle and bustle of D.C. Best of luck Belle. I’ve been reading your blog since 2011 and it’s the only one I read daily.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  40. Tara says:

    Hi Belle,
    There were two things about your post that stood out to me.
    1. While I wouldn’t encourage anyone to live their life in fear, the knowledge that you were stalked and harassed deeply worries me. I wouldn’t want you to return to any situation where that might happen again!
    2. I spent this past year getting my financial house in order. It’s so easy to defer making long term choices about your money. Beyond basic budgeting, I was wavering between choices a lot (pay down this loan or that loan? Which retirement vehicle to open?) Besides educating myself I got a financial planner who I’m happy to recommend because she’s been awesome at decreasing my stress!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
    • Michelle says:

      Could Belle perhaps connect us? I’m looking for a good financial planner…

      May 4, 2017/Reply
      • Belle says:

        If you both wanted to email me, I could put the emails together somehow.

        May 4, 2017/Reply
  41. IRMcK says:

    Echoing what a lot of people have said, I also really appreciate how you let us into your life and share the thought process behind your real-world fashion choices. It’s really helped me develop my own professional style. I’m never going to be a fashion model, but I do want to look polished and put together.

    Career-wise, I left the Hill and DC in 2015, but I don’t think I could go back. I definitely miss both like crazy, but it’s just different now. I’m really interested to hear what you find, since I felt like I started missing the Hill before I actually moved. I don’t miss the Hill like it is now, I miss what it used to be. I don’t know what’s possible where you are, but I’ve been trying to network my way into a public policy job at a company who is headquartered in my new home (SF). There are a lot of ways to do public policy, and right now, it might be easier to be outside of DC, especially if it brings you closer to the other things that are also important. Whatever you decide, I feel you.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  42. Angeline says:

    Love, love, love this blog – your humor, insight, and yes, the occasional bit of snark keep me coming back every day to see what you have to say. Nothing else out there is so smart and true, so thank you for all the time you’ve put into this labor of love. Good luck as you figure everything out – you will!

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  43. S says:

    Belle,

    As always, the true honest raw human you, is my absolute favorite part of your blog. Keep us updated.

    S

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  44. B says:

    I love this post – for its honesty and for the relevance factor. I just defended my doctoral dissertation and people have been asking – so what’s next? And you know at this point I think I’m just exhausted from all the energy I put into this endeavor that I have decided to take a mini break – as in do nothing for a couple of weeks.

    Your listed goals made me think about what I hope to achieve or move towards in the next several months. I also agree that motion is required in order to move forward. I don’t know what your thoughts are on finance – for me I will say a lightbulb went off when I realized that material items had a short term happiness factor. In that I would buy a new blouse and be happy with it for a few wears but then I found that the sentiment quickly faded over time. I felt like the ROI wasn’t worth it. Of course – I think you should buy items as you need them but I just found myself shopping for the feeling not because I needed more clothing. Now I rarely buy clothing and find that spending that money in other areas like exeperiences are better. The memory of those moments bring me happiness – the ROI factor I suppose.

    Good luck with your goals! Would love to hear how it is going.

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  45. Sarah says:

    I saw this article and thought about your point re the Frye Festival. This is why I’ve been a reader for maybe almost five years. You aren’t a sneaky “influencer.” Meaning, you’ve had influence on decisions I’ve made, but based on your credibility. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/fyre-festival-pitch-deck

    May 2, 2017/Reply
  46. Been there, done that, and yet in the District says:

    Best of luck, Belle. In Washington, the Republicans are back in force. I have lived here and read your blog since 2010. For conservatives, it has been refreshing to wave good bye to so many of the people who were here for the last administration. Glad to hear that you are getting back to basics. You have a boyfriend, not a husband. We are happy for you, if you are happy. However, blog quality plunged when you started dating your beau. It also sounds like your happiness and you are not as highly prioritized as his and him. I did what you are doing. Many have. We all have a club called, “we tried and he or she also never put me first.” Go back to why you made so many sacrifices and undertook a 2 year JD program. Come back to the District.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
    • JBC says:

      Um, what the hell is this supposed to mean? “For conservatives, it has been refreshing to wave good bye to so many of the people who were here for the last administration.” This entire comment is so shitty. Blog quality did not plunge when she started dating her beau, and suggesting that your opinion of whatever changes made on the blog are a direct result of her relationship is unfair and insulting.

      May 4, 2017/Reply
      • Let's not pretend that Washington was a nice place, during those eight loooong years says:

        Maybe she meant that it was refreshing to say good bye to so many of the people who were in Washington for the last administration? Did you live in Washington with those people? The cutthroat and vitriol were amazing. Who knew that so many people graduated from Harvard? Do we all have to leave empty vague comments? Or do we have to be afraid that some comments police person will try to shame us?

        It sounded like Bellle has been grappling with a common issue: should she alter her dreams and adapt her preferences so she can continue a romantic relationship? Or not? I tend to agree that it can be a tough call.

        Belle shared with us that she had not dated in a decade. This also means that she used to have a lot more time for herself and her blog. Think of all the Bible studying time together in a relationship! That alone must be pretty time consuming. Maybe Belle wants to devote more time to trying to share her life, trying to start a family, trying to live somewhere, likely, where starter homes are less than $800K?

        However, Belle, you did work very hard. You suffered through law school and the bar exam. You made a lot of sacrifices to accomplish your goals. I am not sure that you should give up on your original goal of returning to Washington as a licensed attorney. Now seems like a really good time to return.

        Washington is dominated by conservatives. All but four state governors are Republican. Gonzaga was just in the NCAA men’s basketball final and you went to the dance in the desert. Come on back to Washington!

        May 4, 2017/Reply
  47. Lynn says:

    I’m sorry to hear your last few years in DC were less than ideal. I’m surprised and not surprised to hear you were stalked and harassed. It shouldnt be the price you have for sharing part of your life with the public, but I’ve heard more often than I’d like similar stories by female bloggers.

    I wish the best for the management of anxiety and hope it doesnt shun you from DC. I’m myself a transplant out of the District and hear the same laments about how the city has changed, but it’s such a core part of who I am I can’t imagine not eventually returning for good. All the best with the goals for the year!

    May 3, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It was because of my job, not the blog. I would have closed the blog had that been the case.

      May 3, 2017/Reply
  48. M says:

    Yes yes yes. Writing from Europe, mid-twenties: I got a job in fundraising the day I submitted my Masters thesis (Intl Public Policy), I worked an unfathomable amount of hours but was bored. Gave up the permanent position to return to law school, where I did an accelerated programme in one year- it was KILLER, to the extent that I don’t want to qualify as a lawyer. After a short stint at the UN in NYC (which I LOVED), I spent the next year in pretty good jobs in international NGOs in legal/advocacy/policy but again grew bored, after a work trip to the Middle East decided I was going to pack it in, re-evaluate. That was December.
    In the last week I was rejected from two dream jobs, one in a Geneva, one in DC – the first I scored 80% in the assessment but the cut off was 90%, and the second I reached the final five from a pool of 15,000.
    I have no idea what I’m going to do. I’m trying not to panic, but the job market is so tough right now. It seems to be the same in the US (which is putting me off applying for a visa without having first secured a job).
    I’m tempted to switch fields (currently studying for a Post Grad Diploma in Communications in an attempt to become more employable) but unsure whether or not to persevere for just a little longer. As you said in a previous comment- I too am chasing the big life.
    Solidarity Belle ✌️

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  49. Jess says:

    Lots of big decisions. One thing I would say, is that don’t be afraid to live a different dream. You’ve spent your whole life headed in this direction, but then you met your boyfriend, and I know your dating history has been tough. It sounds like he’s worth it all, and that doesn’t always happen for everyone. I don’t necessarily think it’s giving up your dream to stay with him, it’s just following a different one. It doesn’t mean that you become a SAH soccer mom though. We can’t be 100% satisfied in every area of our life, so what are we able to give a little on to have a overall better life?

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  50. Lynn says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since I moved to DC in 2009 after law school. I miss the old snarky posts, and I’m not a huge fan of the constant lists, but I keep reading anyway.

    Look, returning to basics is a great thing. I also went through a lot of upheaval in my early thirties, and ended up returning to what I wanted as a teenager. Which sounds terrible, like I regressed, but it feels like I’m finally me again. Teen me wanted to climb mountains and write books, and now I’m doing both those things. (Half Dome this fall, first book releases in October.) Who cares if your blog isn’t Atlantic-Pacific? Be you.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  51. Chandra says:

    Thank you so much for keeping this blog honest and real. It’s why I come here daily.

    I left DC in 2005 and have spent hundreds of hours despairing over the loss. But I have spent more hours relaxing in a less intense, Western U.S. culture (or lack of it, but I made my peace with that). When I see and speak to my DC friends, they are fraught and burdened by DC’ness: 24-7 work mindset, Beltway traffic, astronomical housing costs, and an inability to identify with the rest of the country. I can see that DC is right for them, but is no longer right for me. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. It still hurts, but it can also be comforting.

    Best of luck with your decision.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  52. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for your honesty. And I want you to know – I have always loved Cap Hill Style/The Work Edit because it’s not like every other blog out there, and because you get what it’s like to be a professional woman trying to look her best. Thank you for that.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  53. SC says:

    Thanks for always bringing the realness on this blog — I echo all the commenters above who mentioned keeping the airbrushing and sponsored posts out! I used to read quite a few fashion/style blogs and yours is the only one I still read every day.

    I went to DC at 22, fresh out of college from a small town in AK — and it was a mistake. I only lasted 18 months, and if my circumstances were a bit different now (I’m nearly 37), I’d probably go back and make a go of it. That said, I really love my current situation, even though it’s something I’d have never dreamed was going to happen 5 years ago! Life is funny like that. 🙂

    Wishing you all the best, and excited to see the blog re-design!

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  54. stephanie brumfield says:

    I’ve been reading this blog since it started, and like everyone else, I keep coming back because you are REAL.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  55. Kod says:

    Yes to this post. I love your blog! You are doing & thinking about all the right things. I’m turing 35 this summer, I’m a single mom lawyer in Tampa with a 7 year old son. I struggle a lot with the location issue & don’t feel like I belong in a middle market type of city at all. But there are undeniable benefits — sometimes I have to pinch myself because I get to do great work for great clients, I travel very often, & I get reasonably enough time to be a parent & have a personal life. I’ve gone through analysis recently about an NYC relocation, for example, & ultimately get stuck on the school issue – here even private schools are relatively affordable (still crazy, but doable). I have friends here who left NYC once the kid got to school age because it was financially insane (not sure how to compare to DC). All that said: your longer term family plans may tie in here if that’s on your mind and/or part of your long term plans or interests. Also would say, yes, experience tells me “don’t make a choice for a man”, but also it’s harder than we sometimes admit to find a meaningful companion – don’t discredit your relationship if it’s a valuable part of your life. Only you know how to weigh that piece, but it may not be so black or white. For example, could you work with him to create a longer term plan, like let’s be in DC for x # of years so you can gear up & make bigger connections, do bigger things – then head back to WA or some other location you both prefer? If you want a bigger family with the BF, that may tie in too — for example, you could start in DC & perhaps consider kindergarten entry stage as potential exit point. Here’s my thing: sometimes we feel like we must make this big choice NOW, not realizing we actually have to just choose the next immediate chapter (&, right now, we may not even know what we want when the next chapter concludes). You have to be honest with BF about what you think you need to be satisfied & happy, of course. But maybe there could be some openness about how it all unfolds in 5 years, 10 years, etc. If you guys can work through that, then whoa, that’s a very solid partnership. Wishing you the best with the hard choices! Hang in there.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
    • Lauren says:

      Kod, as a fellow reader, I appreciated your comments here! I like thinking about choosing the next ‘immediate chapter (&, right now, we may not even know what we want when the next chapter concludes).’ I struggle with thinking about things like longer term-years-down-the-road goals. I feel like there’s too much up in the air that can happen from now til then! As someone who has been working on sorting out some of my own goals, I thank you!

      May 9, 2017/Reply
  56. Kim says:

    I echo the comments of so many – this is a daily read for me. Much of my wardrobe has come from suggestions on this blog and it inspires my fashion choices more than any other site. Because it’s real – but also fun. I am also 34, almost 35. Dating someone wonderful, who I will probably have to New York for and move to Europe (also a dream of mine, but still doesn’t make it easy). All of the cliches are true – you wake up and all of a sudden the time is speeding past you. You’ve encouraged me to make a list today – of everything I want to accomplish in the next year.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  57. Erica says:

    I’ll keep it brief as you’ve got lots of reading to do here, and unsolicited opinions (myself included) to process. Keep at it, take deep breaths and trust your instincts. I look up to you, admire your courage, and appreciate your vulnerability here.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  58. Kelsey says:

    I’ve been following you for the past five years, and honestly, your blog, Corporette, and Atelier Dore are the only blogs I keep up with. All the others have fallen by the wayside. Your blog has always been a source of inspiration for me, as well as a source of applicable information on career and fashion that I can incorporate into my own life. As a reader, I appreciate your honesty, candidness, and your great hair! (what are you even talking about??) Thank you for staying true to you and this blog. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  59. Kelsey says:

    Ok fine, I also follow Go Fug Yourself.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  60. Tiffany says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for what seems like forever. I have enjoyed seeing it evolve but I never once thought that your blog would be better if it had more of the other blog features that you mention. In reality, I think that’s why I gravitate towards your platform and keep coming back. Because it isn’t the same crap that everyone else puts out in the same 5 trendy pieces that we all should have in our closets right now. This is grounded in reality and what real working women need from their wardrobes and their beauty routines. The comparison trap gets us all as some point, but I’m glad you’re sticking to your roots and what works for you and your readers. Good luck on year 35 and hitting your goals 🙂

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  61. JL says:

    Geez, these are some mighty big decisions and understandably stressful. You have already made such a difference to all of your readers and it’s perfectly fine to get new dreams (thank goodness we live in a country that supports us). Good luck figuring out what you can’t live without!

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  62. Shelley says:

    I love your blog, and I find I have stopped reading the blogs that started out as real, with real opinions that have now become almost 80% sponsored posts, and the bloggers have quit their job to blog full time. If I wanted to read a fashion magazine I would. I read blogs for real opinions and reviews on fashion, beauty, career, etc…

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  63. Amanda says:

    Belle, I’ve been an obsessive, daily reader of this blog for nearly 10 years. I consider myself an avid blog reader and a lot of blogs have come and gone from my radar but yours has always remained…and not just remained, it has ALWAYS been the first one I check when I have a few minutes. I appreciate your writing style, your perspective and your fashion advice. At least once a week, I find myself relaying advice I’ve read on this blog, sharing links to articles you’ve discovered and purchasing items you’ve recommended. Your honesty about the challenges you’ve faced these past few years has been refreshing and I wish you all the best in figuring out your next steps. For what it’s worth, I would be lost without this blog — it’s become a trusty friend. Cheers to you and year 35!

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  64. Aparna says:

    You go Abra ! I can tell you that at 37, I regret not having taking time off at 35 and figure out what I wanted…While stagnation is death – two years of feeling like I am at ‘a crossroad’ doesn’t help either.
    This blog is definitely a stand out from all the other blogs and it is really because of what YOU infuse into it. You have a silent cheerleader here in CA.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  65. N says:

    Both you and your blog are fabulous and better than all of those cookie cutter street corner photos combined. Life decisions are incredibly tough, but from what I can tell, your resilience and grit will get you to where you need to be. Like that song says, ‘be calm, look cute.’

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  66. sherry @ save. spend. splurge. says:

    If you ever want help with your finances, I do write a lot about money and spending it wisely on the blog (Save. Spend. Splurge.) On my instagram, I have also been posting Money Tips recently as well. Or you can email me! 🙂

    Love the (old) blog..

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  67. SARAH SONIES says:

    Hi Belle/Abra – This post 100 percent spoke to me. I’ve been living in working in DC for about five years now and love the city, but it’s changed SO much from when I moved here and I work in health care – so, changing the national conversation around health care – my BIG LIFE goal – is, well, challenging at best. Maybe it’s burnout, but I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving policy entirely and moving into a different field like music or entertainment (I’m in public relations/public health currently) and moving out to the West coast – so I read this post and was like, “whoa, we’re both exploring the same thing but in reverse.” I recently became engaged to my now fiancee’ who had a life goal at 16 to move to DC and pursue his BIG LIFE which is what he’s doing now (don’t worry – we’re not like 19, we’re both in our 30s). He’s not committed to staying, but our friends, my family and life is here – but the toxic tone of politics has really gotten me down! That said, there are pros – DC is expanding rapidly, so lots of new places to go and well, I don’t hate being in the DC bubble sometimes. Anyways – thanks for this post. You’ll make the right decision and hey – try on the “new” DC, see how you like it!

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  68. MW says:

    Another big blog fan & daily reader here. Thanks for all you do (and don’t do)!

    I left Capitol Hill 2 years ago for the west coast (“ready for the next challenge,” as I said in interviews, but also followed my bf…), and it’s definitely been an adjustment. But a good one! I’m lobbying now, representing private companies who have business/legislative issues with the City. And I have to say, it’s insanely refreshing how quickly you see the fruits of your labor in local government.

    I worked for 2 members of Congress spanning 5 years and pretty much never saw anything I did take effect (granted, we were in the minority, but still). Now, I get my clients approved through City Council/Planning Dept/whatever on a weekly basis. It’s fun and challenging. Sure, not as glamorous as the US Congress, but once I got past that and realized how much impact I can have, it’s been a blast. Good luck!!

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  69. Eclaire says:

    Longtime lurker, big blog fan, fellow lawyer and D.C. native. I don’t know where you live in WA, but I work for Amazon, and I think would be worth checking out our job opportunities as there could well be something that helps make the connection between the Washingtons.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  70. J says:

    I’m going to drop my two cents in as well. I love your blog for all of the reasons others have said; it’s real, it’s down-to-earth, and I have learned so much from it over the years (I wouldn’t be tailoring my suits or wearing wedges to outdoor weddings if it weren’t for you, just to name a few).

    I don’t think that anyone has suggested this yet, so I’ll mention that you might consider seeing a therapist if you aren’t already to help you sort it all out. I came to DC almost 9 years ago for law school, and I had a fiancé then who made it clear that I would come back home to Pennsylvania when I was done school. During my first year I was very conflicted between my career ambitions and my relationship, so I started working with a therapist to help me sort out my feelings, and I came to the conclusion that DC was where I wanted to be, and that this relationship would not allow me to grow professionally and personally in the direction I wanted to go. I’m very happy with the choices I made. Now, I know nothing about the choices you face, and I only offer my story to say that it is really hard work balancing a relationship and career ambitions and deciding what is right for you. Good luck, and whatever you do it will be right for you.

    May 3, 2017/Reply
  71. Ari says:

    I’m an aspiring blogger myself, and the pressure to create Instagram ready content is really powerful. Your blog has useful content and an important perspective for stylish, ambitious women. In spite of all the talk from everyone and their mother about “leaning in” it often seems pretty empty. Your pointed and practical tone, and dead useful style advice really fills a void. It’s super inspiring to see someone forge their own path in a world of cookie cutter fashion blogs. Good luck with your goals. Looking forward to seeing the redesign!

    May 4, 2017/Reply
  72. Bonnie says:

    Belle, this is one of my favorite posts on one of my favorite blogs. It’s a tough decision. I’m a few years older (40). I grew up in a mid-size/small-ish Southern city and ended up in a mid-size Midwestern city, instead of New York City as my heart desired when I was younger. I always regret not trying NYC on for size, at least for a little while. Now that I’m married and have a small child, it wouldn’t be impossible to make a big move, but it does become harder. My gut reaction is to tell you to try out DC again and see if you still love it. Your boyfriend might be more willing to move than you think if he saw how happy and fulfilled you are. Is there another city–say, SF or something?–that would still allow pretty easy access to WA but still give you more professional opportunities? That might be the sweet spot in the long run. Looking forward to seeing where your journey takes you.

    May 4, 2017/Reply
  73. Deb says:

    I have so enjoyed reading your blog regularly since discovering it a few years ago. Although I’m a few steps ahead of you in age and career path, I can empathize with where you are. But please keep in mind that many of us love your blog for what it is. I appreciate your thoughtful curated suggestions, the variety of things you cover and your authentic and pragmatic approach. So while you may feel the need to change up the format from time-to-time, don’t lose the substance. That is why we all enjoy your blog.

    May 4, 2017/Reply
  74. DCL says:

    Haven’t read all of the comments, but I agree with much of what has been said. As a former Hill staffer currently in government affairs, I follow your blog faithfully because you post clothes and shoes that actually WORK in a “grown up” work environment. Midi skirts and wooden block heels? Shorts suits? C’mon. Anyway, thank you for all your hard work on this site and welcome back to DC! We’re glad to have you back!

    May 4, 2017/Reply
  75. Sarah says:

    I love your blog, I’m not in D.C. But it’s been a staple daily read for awhile. As a 38 year old who never saw the appeal of the suburban SAHM lifestyle and never had a real desire to share finances and dreams with a husband, 3 years ago I took the marriage leap and while we are not conventional (financially we have a home account that we both put money in to pay for home expenses but keep our own accounts so I don’t have to explain what a Kate spade is and he doesn’t need to explain his toys either). It took a while but this year I (we) were convinced that we would be happier with a mini me. After well over 20 years trying to avoid this it’s not happening and I’m sad for what I didn’t want the first 37 years of my life. So not that it matters because most likely it would not have mattered to me until it did matter but if any part of you wants the man take the leap, love and life are different in our 30’s . Either way wherever you post from I will be reading.

    May 5, 2017/Reply