My Love is Unconditional. My Love is Consensual.

I am moving away from my hometown in a few weeks, which naturally comes with this overwhelming feeling of needing to tie up loose ends. Questions like, “Should I text my ex and apologize to him about how badly I treated him?” or “Should I text my ex-best friend who ghosted me that I’m STILL mad at the way our friendship ended?” flood my mind. The answer is no. And yes. I should work on closure, but no, I shouldn’t open up old wounds to get that closure - especially through text message (nothing actually productive ever gets done over text message).

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Chelsea Francis
To myself as a third grader, who just needed to know that she was enough,

You are only nine years old and you are so unhappy. You are incredibly lonely and all you want to do is belong. You never quite feel successful, so you spend most of your time immersing yourself in books and in your writing. It works in your favor though, because you’re already reading at an 8th grade level and your teachers are so impressed with the words that you write down on college-ruled paper in your best handwriting.

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Chelsea Francis
All The Things I Know and All The Things I Don’t / Sweet Birthday Baby!

June 6th marked one full year of showing up here. One full year of trying to use whatever tools I could to show up and show you that you’re not alone and that you deserve success. It’s been a year of intimately trying to understand failure to the point of looking at it as a friend. I am so grateful for this space. I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful to the people, who are steadily increasing in number, who have started to recognize me in public not from my personal work or Instagram account, but from this corner. I’m grateful to every single person who has volunteered their time to write for our publication.

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Chelsea Francis
You Can Run a Marathon, But You Can't Outrun Your Fears

The funny thing about running is you find yourself both figuratively trying to run away from your problems while literally running away with your body. You find yourself on a 10 mile run on a Wednesday afternoon after a full day of work and in those moments of solitude you really have no choice but to face your thoughts head on. No matter how loud I attempted to blast Taylor Swift in my headphones, my mind still won. I had to acknowledge the fact that a boy that I really liked chose to step away from me. I had to accept that my parents had no clue what training looked like for me and would likely never really be proud of me for doing this race.

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Chelsea Francis
I'm a Recovering Perfectionist

For most of my life, the phrase “healthy medium” wasn’t in my vocabulary. After being exposed to cognitive-behavioral therapy I realized that my perfectionism is attributed to unhealthy thinking patterns that used to seem inherent to me. The most pertinent unhealthy, or unhelpful, thinking pattern that enables my “extreme” tendencies and my perfectionism is all-or-nothing thinking. All-or-nothing thinking is a cognitive distortion that shapes how we see the world; it oversimplifies the world in a negative way. In my case, my view of the world has been so skewed and negative that I developed an obsessive fear of failure, which influenced my perfectionistic behaviors.

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Chelsea Francis
Toxic Relationships are not Glamorous & Television Shows Need to Stop Portraying Them as Such

I just got done watching this new show on Hulu called Shrill. There are a lot of good, yet questionable things about the show I could talk about, but this essay is about relationships. Specifically, how it’s no wonder to me, and everyone I know, end up in toxic relationships. What I’ve noticed is every toxic behavior, mindset, or societal expectation that exists, we can learn from the media surrounding us. You know why? Because toxicity is exciting and it’s capitalized on. I have failed tremendously in relationships because of it.

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Chelsea Francis
Breaking The Rules

Over the years I’ve made a list of things I can't or shouldn’t wear. My size 22 body has been governed by rules that I didn’t make for it, based on beauty standards that I didn’t choose. Beth’s body was living under similar regulations. She’s plus sized too, and she had a list of “cant’s” that she decided to break one day when she posted a photo of her in a bra and cutoff shorts to Instagram that received a ton of support. Shortly after that, she started modeling and has since been in international campaigns. This whole experience started her down a path, and she began questioning why we keep rules like these in the first place.

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Chelsea Francis
All Sustainable Everything

Living sustainably isn’t something that’s innate. It’s something we need to learn and be conscious of, especially in a society that is so material focused and so focused on our deficiencies to sell of us stuff and experiences that may not be in our (or our society’s) best interest.

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Chelsea Francis
Navigating Change With An Open Heart

These past four weeks have undoubtedly been some of my hardest. My life has quite spectacularly been turned upside down with the separation from my husband, so I’ve been exploring how to mindfully uncouple from someone who has been in my life for almost a decade, while also juggling the demands of real life. It’s been a whirlwind of coordinating logistics, maintaining a full client load, and trying to find time to take care of myself so that I may work through these very intense emotions.

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Chelsea Francis
Letter to My 8 Year Old Self

OK. I’m about to say an unpopular word. ANGER. Yes, anger. You have it. You know you do. It confuses you and makes you feel ashamed sometimes. You’ll see therapists and tell them, “I’m here because of anger that I don’t know what to do with.” But here’s the thing.. It’s a righteous anger, and it’s an anger that will allow you to know yourself. For you to gauge when and where you need to check in and notice an injustice. An imbalance. Anger isn’t a look that people will celebrate -- especially on a ‘lady’ -- but it is a GIFT. A tool. Lady Justice is a celebrated deity because she got it. Gets it, even. Let that anger be the fire in your belly that awakens you to what is without equality, and bring the Balance.

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Chelsea Francis
3 Years and 4 Jobs

TMI? Maybe, but I wanted to share a little bit of my background because I think it’s made me strong and forced me to leave my comfort zone early on. We tend to block out any trauma from our past, but I try to look back to see how much I’ve changed or stayed the same and how much I’ve learned.  

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Chelsea FrancisComment
I Made My Mental Health A Collective Experience

At 16 years old, I discovered the term, “general anxiety disorder” or, a “...persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things. People with GAD… find it difficult to control their worry. They may worry more than seems warranted about actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern” (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). Upon reading this, I sighed with relief. My body relaxed for the first time in years. I took a deep breath. This discovery was validation in something I have felt for as long as I could remember, but never had any words to describe it. That validation made me feel like I wasn’t alone, that there were others who felt what I felt.

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Chelsea Francis
Accepting Myself Through All Four Seasons

Every year as time inches towards November, I pull out my sweaters, search for new soup recipes, and the dread sets in. My winter self is coming. Technically, it’s my fall/winter self but that’s a mouthful. This is the part of me that shows up every year, without fail, right as the days get shorter. I don’t remember when I started noticing it happening, but I do remember not appreciating it.

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Chelsea Francis
Learning Lessons from Tax Season: Planting Seeds for 2020

It’s easy to look at this tax season and feel like a failure. If you’re the kind of person who has everything figured out financially, I am honestly so proud of you I could cry. You deserve a Beyonce world tour sized crown for your achievements honestly. We all think so. But this piece may not be for you. If you’re like the rest of us, your skill level with handling money falls somewhere short of having it all figured out. This often means that tax season can leave you feeling like a complete and total failure. It’s certainly left me feeling that way before. So if you find yourself trying to sort out what to do next, then I thought I might help.

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Chelsea Francis
Dear Person Finding Their Way

In your personal life and career, you will encounter red flags. They can be tempting to ignore but your gut knows. Clients may try to look past your true talents and put you into a general box, wanting you to fit their idea of what you should deliver and you may have an internal battle over "money vs. creative integrity". It's okay to occasionally fit the mold in order to pay the bills if it's your choice and within your ability but beware of continuing on this path without course correcting. In the creative industry specifically, it's easy to get painted in a corner and it's hard to bust out of it. 

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Jordan Cooley
A Woman's Place is in Home Depot

It was a typical Saturday afternoon in my world. I slapped on a pair of OV leggings and my favorite Selena sweatshirt and headed straight to the Home Depot for some lumber and trim I needed for a new project. What transpired next is something that any female-presenting person who has ever walked into a hardware store has likely experienced. 

“Aren’t you cold in just that sweatshirt?” he cawed. 

“I’m just fine. Thanks.” I snapped through gritted teeth. 

“Well if you get cold, just come find me. I’ll keep you warm.” 

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Chelsea Francis
The Contradictions of Growth

I almost didn’t write this article. I was tempted to text Chelsea and let her know that I couldn’t do it. And then I remembered the reason why we have this space in the first place—to share these vulnerable moments so that we all can feel a little less alone, so that we can see our common humanity, so that we can peel back the layers from what our biases allow us to see and really explore the complexity and nuance of each individual, so that we can shine a light on our own experience and hope it helps at least one other.

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Chelsea Francis