Sister Style: Room To Improve

A Beautiful MessSometimes I feel like life is an unending battle between staying motivated and challenged and staying satisfied and content. Both are so important, and I guess there’s probably some kind of middle space that’s the perfect balance of both (?), but I haven’t achieved that yet.

Lately I have so many ways I want to be better—in my business, in my marriage, my house, my itty-bitty social life and my creative side. It’s safe to say I get easily overwhelmed, and the worst part is when you’re really thriving and killing it in one area, another area tends to get left by the wayside.

Let’s all have a virtual group hug and raise our coffee/hot chocolate mugs to trying to improve, while staying content, while not getting lazy, while not being overwhelmed… hahaha!

What even IS this rant? I think I need some coffee myself. OK, here’s the rest of my outfit photos…

A Beautiful Mess A Beautiful Mess A Beautiful Mess A Beautiful Mess A Beautiful Mess A Beautiful Mess Elsie’s Wearing: Suede Mini Skirt/NastyGal, Scarf/Cents of Style, Turtleneck/F21, Knee Socks/American Apparel, Sunglasses/F21 (similar), Clogs/Swedish Hasbeens

Passing it over to you, Sister!

Emma Chapman Emma Chapman Lace up shoes Emma of A Beautiful MessI could not agree more! I feel like I’m constantly pushing/planning for more while at the same time thinking maybe I’ve got too much on my plate already. And how are you supposed to know?! It’s not like there’s some way to take your happiness temperature.

This is probably extremely cliche, but I think it’s really two things. First, it’s trying to practice gratitude. And not just at Thanksgiving or when things are going your way—but all the time. I know I sometimes forget how good I have it while I’m focused on the next thing, or going through a season when something I’ve been working toward just didn’t pan out. It happens. But cultivating a thankful heart is something I’m always working on. It’s like staying fit—you can’t just exercise once and then you’re done for life. (Although there are times that would sound VERY appealing to me—ha!). It has to become a habit and a thing you constantly work on to maintain. I think being whiny comes a lot easier to me than being thankful.

But then the second thing is just realizing that life is pretty much never perfect. I guess on some level I thought by the time I was 30 I’d have things figured out. Well, really I thought a lot of things would happen by the time I was 30 when I was younger. I guess I had really high hopes for this age. 🙂 But the longer I am an adult the more I realize no one has it all figured out, no one has a perfect life, everything is a constant flux and navigating it doesn’t necessarily get easier in that the answers become obvious. They don’t. Which is at times, very demoralizing, but at other times it feels like freedom. It’s both. It’s confusing. And that well-balanced life always seems to be just beyond my fingertips no matter what I try.

I guess I’ll just settle for my real life. Oh wait, my real life is AMAZING even though it may not be perfect. Thank you, universe. (See, I’m practicing right now.)

Plaid and denim Red plaid and denimEmma’s Wearing: Dress/thrifted, originally from Old Navy (similar), Necklace/ASOS, Leggings/F21, Shoes/H&M (similar here and here), Jacket/Levi’s (similar), Purse/Marc Jacobs via Sarah’s IG sale (similar), Sunnies/Moorea Seal (similar). 

What about you? Are you guys feeling as emo as us today? 🙂 xo. Elsie + Emma

Credits // Author: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman. Photography: Amber Ulmer and Janae Hardy. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions

  • I love how the two of you get along well with everything! You are both an inspiration to many women! By the way, Elsie’s skirt is a must! I so love it!

  • A resounding yes from over here! I’ll be 30 in exactly 2 months and jeez have I not figured it all out yet! But although 2016 wasn’t that great, 2017 is starting to look good! Just got a new better carrier opportunity given to me last Friday, my relationship with my boyfriend is finally taking off (got a bit scared for a while this summer but it all turned out ok) but I’m still balancing, my job, my home, my friends, my family and my time with BF and it’s really hard to keep up and be good at everything. I guess the best thing to do is to take things one at a time and do your best 🙂

  • I appreciate posts like this the most. It’s not emo, it’s real. And it’s nice to know two women I may not know but admire go through it, too. It’s encouraging hearing your perspective.

  • Hi Elsie and Emma (and everyone!)

    I appreciate the honesty of this post. That kind of candidness is one of the things that brings me back to your blog again and again (that and all the bright colours and beautiful photos and yummy recipes and fun DIYs and cheerful, exciting updates…!)

    I’d like to share something on this topic, and you can make of it whatever you will.

    This summer I lost my son, 20 days after he was born. He is my second child and long awaited (11 years). It was and is very hard, but its also ok because even though he was only able to stay for 20 days, I am his mother and I always will be, and he grew my heart so huge with love. Huger than I ever thought possible. It was worth it.
    Before he was born I was very driven, and I think that was a good thing. But I was maybe tending to overthink things, getting anxious and wanting to get everything done either NOW or SOON, and kinda worrying about what other people thought (my parents, sisters, husband, friends… were they proud of me? were they happy? was I making enough time to be what I thought that they needed me to be?…) I spent a lot of time trying to plan the future and make timelines and to-do lists to “achieve” my goals, out of a desire to control the direction of my life. It was causing feelings of overwhelm and just wasn’t fun a lot of the time.
    Now I am still driven, but it is so different. It is clear to me that all of our goals and projects are supposed to be fun, and that there’s no hurry. Sometimes it really feels like there is, but there isn’t. The important things will get done, all in perfect timing, and the ideas that never come to fruition… well at least I got to take pleasure in the idea itself. There is no rush, there is no need to improve ourselves or do better. That already happens by default, as the simple fact of living causes us to change and transform. And in every moment we are perfect just as we are. Perfectly ourselves.
    Since losing my son I’ve come to believe that life is supposed to be fun, and to feel good. We are supposed to feel good– that’s all anyone truly wants. Isn’t that the root of every desire and goal? There is no need or room for worry or anxiety. Everything is ok. All we truly have is right now, doing the things that we Love with the people that we Love in the places that we Love. I agree with you Emma, about gratitude. We are all so much more blessed than we often realize. I really believe that it is safe to just sit back and truly savour the ride, and know from the core of our being that expansion and growth is inevitable, and it is all for joy and Love and fun. No struggle necessary. The flower doesn’t rush to bloom, and we are all flowers blooming.

    Basically, I think you are both (as well as your whole team) amazing, and friggin’ gorgeous, and real, and perfect right now in this moment. You have accomplished SO MUCH, and I know you will continue to do so because it is obviously just in your DNA to create new ventures and opportunities. You are truly an inspiration. I love your blog and courses and products, and you have positively impacted my life from afar. Thank you for being yourselves.

    Wishing us all ease, joy and freedom today! xoxox

    (P.S. really enjoying your DSLR basics and Start Small Dream Big e-courses these days!!)

  • Adore the first look! Loving that skirt and sunnies 🙂


  • Love your individual styles! And oh man- I thought I’d have it all together at 30… sure don’t. I think it’s a lie they always told us! At least thats what I hope… And yup, been feeling pretty darn emo today

  • I love your blog and also come here for daily inspiration and a dose of fun.

    I hope that you continue to share positivity and consider highlighting the best aspects of ALL American cultures, (LGBTQ, People of Color, etc.) so that people might continue to build respect for each other during a time in which hate, fear, and bigotry seems to be permitted. Thanks for listening. 🙂

  • I figured it was coincidental and I’m glad it worked out that way so we could share our hearts with you gals! Thanks for replying. <3

  • I just wanted to leave some love for your blog. It’s been a dark week for me with the election and everything else going on in our country, that it’s really refreshing coming to your site and seeing beauty and inspiration. Thanks for the daily pick-me-up, ladies! Love you!

  • I swear you guys read my mind. I have two special needs children and I have been wanting to get back into law heavily, especially after this election, but I had to take a step back and recognize that I am the only mom they have and in time I can go back. It is so hard to figure out that balance while not losing yourself. I figured looking to love is always a good answer.

  • Elsie and Emma. .this is exactly what I’m having now.. both trying to be grateful quick is a constant reminder for myself and confusion. .frustration at times. .and keep trying to stay positive. .
    Thanks for sharing. .hugs. .

  • Both outfits are gorgeous but Elsie’s skirt is stunning! And I feel the exact same way. It’s so hard to find balance in our lives these days.

  • Elsie and Emma: you are both awesome and such an inspiration to so many people, myself included! And you’re right, we should always feel grateful, not only for what we have, but for all the good things that are waiting for us in the future!

  • I know exactly how you feel Elsie, it’s sometimes so difficult to reconcile all these things going on in your life. It drives me crazy sometimes! Love your outfit by the way!

  • wow gorgeous looks love the suede mini skirt and the denim jacket

  • You two are just the cutest, and always a bright spot to the day! Thank you for all that you do!!!

  • Haha! Wine is not not a good idea. :))

    I think that life is always about balance. If you’re challenging yourself to be better and also treating yourself that’s probably a good mix. Tonight I think I’ll be treating myself with an early bedtime! Didn’t get much sleep last night. xx- Elsie

  • Hey Liv! I am not using snapchat as much anymore (mostly IG stories now on @abeautifulmess and @elsielarson) my snapchat is @elsielarson (emma doesn’t have one). Thanks for wanting to follow us- that’s so sweet!!!
    xoxo!! Elsie

  • Hey Laura,
    We wrote this post last week (we pre-schedule all our posts) so it wasn’t about the election (in hindsight I wish I would have checked to make sure it wasn’t interpreted that way). But anyway, I agree with everything you are saying- so inspiring!
    xx- Elsie

  • Yup, pretty emo today. As a woman of color I am pretty scared…a professor encouraged us to practice self care today. So far I’ve gulped down lots of wine, but what’s another thing I can do besides drinking?

    What do you ladies to practice self care?

  • I love yall outfits!!! Yall are so cute and so inspiring! Okay so this might be a personal queation, but do you give your snapchat to readers or do you only give it to friends you know? If you give it to readers, i would love to add you!

  • Love the looks ladies! You both look beautiful as well. Life is pretty amazing 🙂

  • Honestly this whole week has made me emo(and it’s only Wednesday!) between the time change with our kiddos and the election, I am over it. However Emma I totally agree with the thankfulness thing. It’s something I have been working on for awhile now and your right, it’s totally a lifestyle thing that you just have to get in the habit of doing. It’s easy to get caught up in little annoyances of daily life and to get hard on yourself (meaning me when I feel like I don’t get enough done) but honestly when I just say eff it and just go a little easier on myself and think about all I do get done and all the great things I have to be grateful for I get more accomplished and I am much happier and feel more balanced. Sorry for my rant but it’s just been that kind of day/days!!

  • Finding balance in our life is the ultimate battle. And just when you find it, it seams to slip away. Love the outfits. Especially Elsie’s. ♥


  • I like the first outfit the most to be honest. Your hair, skirt everything matches to the Fall season .
    Enjoy the rest of the week!

  • I’m glad you wrote this. Sometimes I come to this blog and read the comments for some clue as to whether or not your average American understands what is happening right now. Stay strong. I’m so sorry.

  • You are amazing! Cheers for those women that can’t stop and enjoy life <3 #girlboss

    Discover my latest shooting at Barcelona’s mountains.

    Have a nice evening! MG

  • E&E you both look BEAUTIFUL in this post and thank you for always making ABM a place to come for inspiration on beautiful and yummy things and also life. <3

  • First off, you guys are speaking RIGHT TO MY HEART. I’m constantly striving to live better/happier/healthier and things can feel so overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start or quickly burn out.
    Secondly, loving both of y’all’s fall style – so adorable! Elsie, obsessed with that skirt. I feel like both of you have just been radiating extra happiness lately, so something must be working. 😉

  • I think the whole country is a little emo today because of elections. Without making this reply too political, there’s a lot of angry, hurt, scared, and worried people voicing how they feel while others are celebrating.

    I think this translates into my life by working even harder to show kindness to negate feelings of division and anxiety that are felt. It’s important to show positivity, be helpful, and look for ways to improve my local community. That requires getting out of my comfort zone because I can be rather closed and introverted and working on conversational skills and networking. And of course, being open to keeping a conversation going past the “Hi” so I can invest in other’s lives.

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