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Main article: Personal

What is Mermaid Waves: A (Self) Love Story



Hey Merbabes!  I am back home from LA and am feeling completely refreshed and renewed.  To be honest if I didn't have to leave LA I never would have, it was two and a half weeks of pure inspiration and joy.  While I was away I had a lot of time to think and reflect on what Mermaid Waves really means to me.  Why it matters, where I see it going and how it is going to get there.  I love sharing (and oversharing) with you babes, so I am excited to give you a glimpse of what has been running through my head these past two weeks.


Lets start from the beginning.  I get asked "what the heck is Mermaid Waves" daily.  Mermaid Waves began as my Instagram username about six or seven years ago, @mermaidwaves seemed like the natural choice as I had long, wild, and wavy "mermaid" hair.  Get it? Good.  From that point on most of my friends changed their wacky instagram usernames and switched to simpler handles like their first and last name, but @mermaidwaves became more than just my username.  More people called me Mermaid Waves than they called me Dani so it stuck, and has continued to stick with me.  It has gotten to the point that when I introduce myself to someone my initial reaction is to say my name is "Mermaid Waves".



When I started high school, I posted my outfits on the daily to my Instagram page.  I was lucky enough to go to an arts high school in the city and felt that I could truly indulge myself in my love for fashion.  There were no small-minded suburban kids to make fun of me, just a bunch of weird arts kids that appreciated my form of self-expression.  As my Instagram continued to grow and my #OOTD photos racked up likes and reposts, I decided to expand Mermaid Waves to another medium, a blog (which is where you are now, in case you are lost).

Mermaid Waves truly started as a form of self-expression and self discovery, if you take a look through the archives you will see so many versions of Dani.  Dani who only wore skirts, Dani who thought she wanted to be preppy (that lasted about a week), Dani who wore a lot of eyeliner.  These moments have all accumulated to create the strong sense of style (and self) I have now.  Although I always felt that I was the truest form of myself as @mermaidwaves, I always carried this overwhelming need for perfection.

The need to be the perfect Instagram it-girl.  When people visited my blog or Instagram I wanted to first thing they noticed was that I was skinny and pretty.  I know that sounds awful, but I also know I am not the only person who has felt (or still feels) this way.  There is such a pressure to feel like you have to have the perfect outfit, and the perfect face, and the longest legs; for a while that is how I thought I would make it big.  I wanted girls to visit Mermaid Waves and want to be me, want to look like me, and wear what I was wearing.  That is what you are expected to be as a blogger, a perfect idea of a person that will make other people want to learn, shop, or listen to you.



As I have gotten a little more mature I realize how disturbing that all sounds and how off from my lifestyle that truly is.  I hate nothing more than listening to people, and god forbid anyone compares me to anyone else.  I am my own person in every way and I realized that is far more important to me than being a "perfect" form of a person.  When someone looks at my Instagram I want them to see how confident and fun I am, and if they think I'm hot, that is just a bonus.  I live an insanely cool life, because I have created that lifestyle for myself.  I could have easily gone to college or continued my ballet training and played things safe, but I decided that I have so much more in me than to work in an office or stand in the back row of the corps de ballet.

That is what I want to accomplish with Mermaid Waves, I want you to feel empowered to create your dream life.  I could care less if you ever purchase an item that I wear, or if you try out a new trend.   That ranks so low on my list of things I want to accomplish in this world.  I will always continue to offer up fashion advice and inspiration because that is a part of what makes me who I am, but I would rather you leave Mermaid Waves feeling like you have a gained a new sense of confidence and are inspired to take on the world.

I know I just rambled a whole lot, and things got kind of deep but I think I brought it all back to the surface.  Mermaid Waves has been a story of self discovery and self-love for me, and now I want to reflect that back on to all of you babes.  I want you to learn as much about yourselves from Mermaid Waves as I have learned about myself over the past seven years.  Whether that is as simple as I tried boyfriend jeans and I hate them, or as deep as feeling empowered to change aspiration in life.

With that being said, I am looking to incorporate some new voices on Mermaid Waves.  Whether you want to share about fashion, self-love, fitness, or something else.  If you would like to be a contributor for Mermaid Waves, please send along pitches / pieces that you feel would fit MerWaves voice and mission.  

Reach out with examples of your writing, or your ideas to dani@mcgowan.xyz.  

jul 6 17, 01:55
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Date Yourself: Become a More Confident You



Hey Merbabes!  Today we are chatting about something that has always come as second nature to me, but I have learned does not come so easy for many people, and that is spending time alone.  Growing up as an only child being alone never meant being lonely, honestly it meant that I didn't have to deal with anyone else.  I could play whatever games I wanted, dress up in the prettiest dress, and never have to share my toys.  That being said, I have always loved being alone, it has alway been something I look forward to and cherish.

 I often get complimented on my "confidence" and yes I am a very confident person but it is less "confidence" and more comfort.  I am completely comfortable with myself, and I know that all stems from my ability to be alone.   I am sharing with you three of my favorite ways to spend some alone time, or as I like to call it "date yourself".



1. Go on a Walk

If you know me you know I don't drive, ever,  One of my favorite ways to get wherever I need to go is to walk.  It is so simple but it is truly a great way to just be alone and at peace with your surroundings.  I love to wander a bit and take in what is going on around me, I usually route my walks to include a stop for matcha or to pass one of my favorite murals.  It is a perfect time to collect your thoughts for whatever is coming next in your day.  Whether you are heading to work or to workout you will arrive with a calm and centered mind.

2. Sweat

Working out with a friend is all kinds of fun but I am all about working out alone.  A good workout is one of the only things that can bring me down to earth.  Whether I am super anxious or overly annoyed there is literally nothing a sweat session can't fix.  You deserve that hour to focus solely on yourself, and not worry if your squats are as deep as your BFFs.

 As awful as this is, my daily workout, whether its cycling, running, yoga, or ballet, is the only time during my day where I am completely away from my phone.  It is so important to build in an hour or so a day to unplug and remember that you still exist off of Snapchat and Instagram.   My daily workout allows me to take my off-the-grid hour all for myself, while still being productive.



3. Treat Yourself

I love taking myself on lunch dates, I truly look forward to it every week.  I usually get a little work done, read a book, listen to music, or just sit and enjoy life.  I know to some people this sounds sad or completely horrifying but it is truly the opposite.  You can enjoy your favorite foods without having to be interrupted to answer a question or make conversation.  You can sit for as long as you'd like, sip your tea, and not have to worry about literally anything or anyone else.

PSA literally no one else cares or thinks you look weird eating alone, and if they do that is just their personal insecurity showing because they aren't comfortable enough with themselves to do what you are doing.


I promise you these simple things will make you a more confident, centered person.  Start simply by going for a walk and work your way down the list!

What are your favorite things to do alone?


jun 9 17, 19:24
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Graduation Gift Guide + How to Survive Your First Year in the Real World




Hey Merbabes! I can not believe this time last year I was getting ready to graduate high school.  I honestly don't remember a single thing, besides going to prom with a piece a pizza and giving a speech at graduation about selfies.  I was hashtag stressed out, I find it laughable how miserable I was last year compared to how insanely happy I am today.  I put together this rainbow-bright gift guide for the graduate / future girl-boss in your life, to congratulate them on making it out of school alive because its brutal.  Trust me.  Reminder you can shop everything by simply clicking on the item you love.

Along with this gift-guide I wanted to offer up some knowledge on your first year out of school. I didn't go to college so I can't speak much about surviving frat parties and the dining hall, but I can speak to what happens when you are no longer in school.  It seems like every corner of the internet is filled will tips for college freshman; what to pack, what to expect, life hacks... the lists are endless.  I couldn't seem to find a single guide to being a freshman in life.  Not one, so I had to figure it out myself.

1.  Have a Plan

My "plan" last May included living out of Chicago doing classical ballet 24/7.  Currently I am living in Chicago, doing a little ballet, a little social media, a little fashion, a little editing...you get the point.  Between the months of May and July my plan A, B, and C all fell through,  I graduated high school with three viable options to continue my ballet training and I got the magical rejection email from all three.  Thats a terrifying thing to experience.  Things ended up falling magically into place, as they always do, and I can confidently say I am happier doing what I am doing now than I would have been training 24/7 but it definitely didn't feel like it at the time.

You may be a little confused because I am telling you to have a plan even though I literally obliterated my own.  With my "plan" I was able to graduate high school confidently knowing that I was going somewhere.  It allowed me to say with confidence that I had decided not to go to school but I had things lined up.  It also kept me super motivated throughout the summer to find my place and work hard because I had an end goal.

2. Know the Answer to the Dreaded Question

My biggest fear throughout the year has been the dreaded questions of "So like, What do you do?".  Every time I heard those words I immediately wanted to crawl into a hole and cry, just the thought passing through someones head that I am doing nothing but taking snapchats killed me.  That led me to nervously giggle and respond "lol literally nothing" or "um I dance".  I know very well that I have done more in the last year than some people do their entire life, but all that judgement flying at me at once made me feel super ashamed of my choices, and completely shut down.

The thing that helped me get through this was literally having Kelly (my mother) role play that question with me.  She would ask me the dreaded question and I would have to respond.  Now when I get asked "what do you do?" I say;  "I dance professionally with a contemporary ballet company, I have a successful fashion blog, I run social media accounts for local small businesses, I work retail part time, I just started as a fashion editor for a live TV network, and I am currently starring in a short film." BOOM.

This also goes for interviews, know exactly how you are going to handle the questions about college. I have been lucky enough to score a position from every interview I have gone to this year because I handled my situation with confidence.  I simply said that college wasn't for me, as I wanted to pursue other creative opportunities that felt more time sensitive, like ballet.  Be true to yourself and really think about why you decided to take this alternate route, it will show that you are a leader and confident enough to make your own decisions.

3.  Accept that your Lifestyle will Change

Your life is about to change like a crazy amount.  For me, I still live comfortably at home with my parents, in the city I grew up in, but this year felt like I was living in a whole new world.  Small things like you meal schedule will completely shift, I went from eating breakfast, heading to school, going home for lunch, going back to school, coming home from school and having dinner.  Now I have to work to find time to eat, some days I start my morning around 8 a.m. and don't return home until 7 p.m., thats two solid meals.  I am often eating a PB&J while waiting for the metra, or chugging down a smoothie between helping customers.  Meals are a non-negotiable IMO, so I have to plan them as a part of my day.

Another thing that completely changed was my body, I joke that I gained the freshman 15 without even going to college, but its not really a joke.  I went from dancing four hours a day, six days a week, to dancing four hours three days a week, going to soul cycle once a week, taking yoga classes, running, plus whatever else I can fit in my schedule.  I have not only gained muscle but my body has completely transformed and that is something that I have had to accept but also chose to embrace.  Fitness has become a huge passion for me and I love that it is a part of my life.  Working out is one of the only ways for me to relax and de-stress, so I feel blessed that it has become part of my lifestyle.

4.  Keep Growing Your Goals

Just because you are out of school and working your booty off doesn't give you the authority to stop growing.  All the initial hard work you put in shouldn't come to a halt because you've achieved one thing.  Keep growing your goals and actively work towards reaching the next level.  I love making lists, I choose the write down my goals and break them into smaller tasks.  By completing these simple tasks daily I am always moving towards bigger and better things.

Along with growing your goals, continue to push for new opportunities.  Apply to a job that you have absolutely no experience for, go to every audition, and talk to absolutely everyone.  The experience and connections you make at the beginning of your career will stay with you forever.


I hope you loved this post and are feeling inspired to take on the world! What did you learn this year? Let me know in the comments and lets grow together! XO

may 4 17, 18:07
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Playing Favorites: Week of January 9


Hey Mer-babes! This week has been a whirlwind, how is it already Friday?! Not that I am complaining.  I started back up dancing with Elements Contemporary Ballet after a luxuriously long and indulgent break, ok not really, I danced way too much over my "break" for it really to be considered a "break".  My body on the other hand feels like it was the first time I stepped in the studio, ever.  This week I also filmed my first workout video, I am so excited to start my YouTube journey, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a video.

I have been incorporating a lot more lifestyle content than usual and want to you what you babes think!  Remember that you can always Instagram or Snapchat message me with your thoughts on a post, content requests, or anything your heart desires! Except asking me out on a date, if you ask me out through snapchat its 100% a no, if you ask me out any other way its probably still a no.  I have no time for that nonsense people.  Now let us begin with this weeks favorites!



J. Crew Sale


While it may seem like nothing is happening in the shopping world right now, big things are happening over at J. Crew.  J. Crew is having a killer sale with up to 70% off.  Use code SHOPNOW at checkout for an additional 40% off your sale items! I just snagged a jumpsuit and a tee for $60.

Dressing like a Dad


LOL, but actually.  My go-to daytime look these cold winter days is a tee or sweater with my favorite Levi's and my New Balances.  Simple and Dad-Chic.  I love pairing this look with a fur coat (as seen up top) or with my sassy multi-colored parka to up my street-style cred, it makes the look a little less dad and a little more rad.

Golden Globe Looks



The epitome of class and elegance.  I love maternity style when done right and this is so so right.  Also can we talk about this color, so bold yet so feminine and dainty.  


This is the photo that you need to pull out when you're having a bad day, like you literally can't not smile while looking at Janelle Monae in this look.  Pearls as a hair accessory is definitely what 2017 needed, I can not wait to try that out.    


I am going to come out and say that this dress was the best thing that came out of La La Land.  As a performer and supporter of the arts I wanted nothing more than to love this movie, but I didn't.  I thought High School Musical was done more artistically and had better choreography.   She deserved the Golden Globe for this dress though, stars are about to be the hottest thing this year.  I promise you.  


Hi, my name is Lily Collins and I am a real life princess.  That is all.  Best look I have seen in a long long time.  Ok, now that is all.  


New Balance 247



I had such a fabulous time at the launch of the New Balance 247 gym shoe at Notre in West Loop, I am always down for an event with a Snapchat filter.  These shoes are seriously gorgeous and are completely sold out.  LOL, thats disappointing, my intention was definitely not to tease you with these beauties just for them to be unavailable, but I will keep you posted if they get restocked.  Notre in West Loop is a spot you need to add to your list of "things to do", its a stellar space filled with amazing menswear pieces.

Shape of You


Ed Sheeran has been the love of my life since middle school.  I have seen him every time he has been in Chicago except once and I felt seriously guilty about it.  I listened to this song for the first time on the train today and have been singing it ever since,  Ed's still got it.  



jan 14 17, 02:52
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Love Yourself and Your Life: YOUTUBE CHANNEL + Best Butt Ever

http://mermaidwavess.blogspot.com/2017/01/love-yourself-and-...




Hey Mer-babes!  I just finished filming my first fitness YouTube video and I am seriously so excited.  YouTube is going to be another spot that you can head to when you need some inspiration, whether it fitness, food, or fashion, I have got you covered.  I want you to live the life you have always dreamed of living and I am not just going to say it.  I am going to help you make it happen, we are going to create our dream lives together!



The first video on my channel is a booty blast workout!  Growing up as a skinny ballet dancer I had no butt, I literally used to call myself "negative booty" because it was true.  As ridiculous as it sounds I wanted nothing more than to have a Kim K booty.   My resolution for 2016 was to have a butt, and a year later I think I did a pretty solid job.  As small as this example may seem, setting any size goal and achieving is the best feeling.  That is why my first video is all about the booty.


I am really excited to dive more into the fitness and health vertical, because it is something I truly believe in.  I want you to feel amazing and confident about your body; for me I found that confidence through working out.  When you realize how truly strong your body is you gain such a different appreciation and love for it.  I have started cycling, running, and doing lots of strength training on top of my usually ballet schedule, and I am truly more in love with myself than ever.  I haven't lost weight (thank God) or magically changed my body, but I have gained lots of confidence and a little (lot) bit of muscle too.  I want you to walk by a reflective surface, check yourself out and say "yasss" every single time.

This video is made up of the moves I do on the daily.  You can do this workout in your dorm room or your living room and there is no equipment necessary.  In under 15 minutes your booty will be burning like it has never burned before.  Turn on your favorite workout playlist grab your yoga mat and LETS GET PEACHY!



With all this being said check out my first workout over on the YOUTUBE! Let me know what you want my next video to be!




jan 13 17, 06:38
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Life Update: Un-Gap Year

Hey babes! I get a lot of questions about what the heck I am doing with my life since I have graduated high school.  As you have probably figured out I decided not to go to college and to pursue the things I love, dance and fashion.  A lot of people seem to assume I am taking a gap year and I just could not allow you guys to think I am taking a "gap" year.

I can't think of anything I love more than being busy, give me a million things on my agenda and I will be the most content person on the planet.  Honestly while I was lying in bed last night I was thinking "I wish there were more hours in the day so I could have five more hours of work time".  The reason I don't like the term gap year is one, I have no intent of going to college next year.  For me, college is a place and time for young people to figure out their passions, and learn more about themselves.  I already really like myself, and I have a strong idea of what it is I want for my life, I have since I was 13.  By using these next four years to build my resume and explore the amazing opportunities I wouldn't be able to explore in a classroom, this seemed to be a more beneficial use of my time; and honestly try to picture me living in a dorm with a thousand 18 year-olds, you can't.

The second reason I am not taking a gap year, in the short three months that I have begun my latest adventure, I have been busier and felt more fulfilled than ever before in my life.  There is no "gap" here, not on my agenda or in my heart.  I am currently an apprentice with Elements contemporary ballet in Chicago, a social media manager, and a creative assistant for Dancers Awareness Project, on top of that I have taken a part time sales job at a major department store for the holidays, filmed a music video, and performed at a gallery opening.  Obviously I will still continue to grow my Mermaid Waves empire one trend at a time,  along with building my lifestyle empire with Lifestyle by MW (because one blog isn't time consuming enough).  Mermaid Waves is such an important part of my life and one day I hope that it will grow to be an important part of many, many people's lives.

That is just a little update on me! Feel free to ask me questions about anything, I am an open book.  I am definitely not an expert on life plans but I do know that I am happier now than ever before and I would love to help my readers to find their bliss as well.

Reaching for the stars in a white eleve leotard


Giving sass in a gold tee shirt dress with a vintage purse and rose.

Eating tacos while wearing a tutu and pointe shoes.

Here are some shots of me doing some of my favorite things: posing for photos, wearing tutu skirts, drinking matcha, and eating tacos.  I am hoping to share more personal things with my readers so let me know what you would like to hear from me! Ask away in the comments!

xo, 

Dani


oct 21 16, 23:33
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