Welcome to Free Wills Studio!



Notice anything different around here? Oh, I don't know, like an entirely new site?! I'm so excited to welcome you to my new blog, Free Wills Studio! But first, let me give you a little background on how I got here and why I needed the change.

I started my blog, StyleOnHigh, two years ago and it was born mainly out of frustration with where my life was going. I've lived the majority of my life dealing with health complications, most of them stemming from an abnormally aggressive version of the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Though chronic and degenerative, "Hashi's" overall is considered a fairly common and manageable disease because it is usually found in menopausal women. So when I was diagnosed at only 9 years old and started taking medicine every day, I had no idea how potentially destructive it could be.

Fast forward to my senior year in college. The stress of wrapping up a dual-degree while working both a University job and freelance design jobs sent my body haywire. I was in a different doctor's office every week and had to go to the ER on several occasions. It was then that I discovered my antibodies had completely demolished my thyroid, which controls your metabolism and effects countless functions of the body, from your energy levels to your heart rate. All that was left of this major part of my body was scar tissue.

After I graduated and started working full-time, it got so much better. Just kidding, it got a lot worse. If you aren't familiar with auto-immune diseases, it can be summed up in the most basic form by saying (and be warned, I am no doctor here) that your cells are confused and can't distinguish between the viruses they're meant to attack and your own tissues and organs. So the more stress your body is under, the more it thinks it needs to attack itself. In the span of just a few years, these attacks eventually led to other permanent issues like Asthma, Celiac's Disease, Cardiac Arrhythmia, Vertigo, Urticaria and Angioedema, to name a few of my favorites. Basically, I felt awful every single day.

I realized I needed to acknowledge the fact that I was simply not as healthy as everyone else and couldn't do what other people in their 20s were doing. This was VERY HARD for me to accept. I spent a lot of nights in bed with tears streaming down my face, endlessly researching bleak facts on my phone (this, by the way, is absolutely not recommended under any circumstance). I reached a point where I had to make taking care of myself my top priority, which meant putting a lot of dreams aside. I felt like I was so quickly falling behind my peers, who were climbing up the career ladder and starting their own families. Meanwhile, I'm keeping myself up at night reading about lower life expectancy rates and pregnancy complications while worrying about how to come up with rent money without a full-time job.

It has not been an easy transition to let go of all the "normal" life milestones and figure out what is actually right for me. And I'm very much still working on this (it's a doozy). Something I've been grateful for is that, even though my body can be rebellious, my brain is good. I have creative talents that I can offer even when I'm not at my healthiest. And this blog is a big part of that.

Since I started blogging two years ago, it has proven to be excellent self-care. For starters, I'm able to work in the comfort of my own home and on my own schedule (this one is major for me). And since doing so, the symptoms I found so debilitating before have become so much more manageable, some entirely dormant. Having the chance to express myself creatively through basically writing regular public journal entries has also put me in the most balanced and confident mental state that I've ever experienced. It's been an absolute blessing for my overall well-being.

Prepare your eyes, it's about to get real hideous here. To illustrate to you how badly I was feeling, here is a picture of me with my regular "unexplained swelling" from a few years back. (And this is not even the worst it ever got, by the way.)


You are now scarred forever. But you can see what a big difference a few years of taking it easy(er) can make when you're battling with health issues.

So that has been the motivating force behind the rebrand. To manage my talents through creative entrepreneurship and eventually have a sustainable at-home business to free myself of the money vs. health burden. And as I stumble through my dream of setting up a small business for myself, I will share my experiences and anything that I learn here with you. My hopes are to eventually create a resource for fellow makers/creators/independent thinkers to be able to make the best life and career possible.

But if you're worried I'm doing a total 180 and becoming a full-fledged business blog, rest easy. I'll always be a designer at heart so not everything from the old blog is changing. Here are a few things, new and old, that you can expect to see at Free Wills Studio.

Things that will most definitely stay:

+ Posts celebrating great design, from fashion to decor to DIY projects. I bleed that stuff so it will never go away.

+ Celebrating small businesses. StyleOnHigh started off as a very strong supporter of the local scene. And while I will continue to champion local brands/businesses, there will be a subtle shift to put the focus less on products and more on the makers and what their business insight can offer you.

+ Link roundups. I love them. Can't stop, won't stop.


New additions coming to a blog near you:

+ More posts on self-care. Things like time-management, goal-setting, self-confidence, etc. The aim here is to provide insight into living the best life possible.

+ A focus on creativity and design. I'm a designer that wears many design hats (figuratively, though also sometimes literally). I will be sharing more of my work starting with this rebrand's blog kit this week. You can also expect to see more client work, personal illustrations, and tips on things like branding, web design, etc.

+ Free printables. I love a worksheet and I love to share.

+ A podcast... she says tentatively. It's a dream that I hope to make come true in the next half of 2015. Fingers crossed!


So there you have it. Some oversharing, the world's ugliest photo, and my big blog plans. Now who's coming with me?!