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This Memorial Day, we are revisiting one of our most popular FACES of the past year: Annie Downs!

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Annie Downs has a way of making you feel amazing — like you are the only person in the room and your conversation is the most important thing to take place that day. She’s taken that gift and her ability with words and written five books, including her newest, Looking for Lovely. Each of these books draws you in, just like you’re having a conversation with Annie herself, the empowering words lifting you up. Today, we’re thrilled to bring some of Annie’s heartwarming words to StyleBlueprint as today’s FACE of Nashville.

Annie Downs

Annie Downs, today’s FACE of Nashville

Accepting who you are, uniquely, seems to be a theme that runs throughout your books. How does your newest book, Looking for Lovely, carry that theme further?

It truly is one of the main themes of my life: helping people see that they are made with a unique purpose and uniquely on purpose. In the process of writing Looking For Lovely, I had to face my own beliefs again. As I wrote, I had the reminder again that I have a specific spot on this planet and a specific story to tell. Looking For Lovely is the most honest retelling of my pain and healing that I’ve ever written.

For teen girls, this message seems to be especially poignant, especially in the day and age of social media.

It is true that young women need to embrace this truth as soon as possible but it is the adult women, like us, who are modeling for younger women what it looks like to live out your dreams and passions uniquely and with confidence. Social media loves to tell us what we are supposed to wear, where we are supposed to be and WHO we are supposed to be. Twenty years ago, it was Seventeen magazine once a month; now it’s Twitter and Snapchat once a minute. So, our behavior on social media models for the next generation how to do it: how to post with grace and self-control, and confidence that you are proud of who you are — just as you are.

In Looking For Lovely, you mention that Nashville helped heal you. What do you mean by that?

I’ve lived in Nashville for eight years this week! (Happy Nashiversary to me!) And while I love the people and the town where I grew up, Nashville has been the perfect place for me to learn and grow and be stretched. At the same time, it has been a place that has ushered in some hard days and tough truths but always with the purpose of healing. There is something about all that happening here, where music is always playing and people are always dreaming and coffee shops are always buzzing with conversations … From the friendships here to the beautiful places like Leiper’s Fork and Radnor Lake, to the two (yes, TWO) professional counselors I have seen in the last five years or so, this city has been the place of my deepest healing.

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Did your career shift towards writing and speaking come from your blog?

I started a blog because I wanted to be a writer of books. I wanted a place where I could practice my writing and get disciplined about creating content. So in many ways, building my blog and growing my readership there helped catch the eye of publishers and event hosts.

Annie Downs at The Well

Annie at one of her favorite coffee shops, The Well

What is one thing that girls can start doing today to accept who they are?

Find a hobby you like and do it. I know that seems simple but the truth is that many young women don’t pursue the hobbies they love because they feel pressured to pick what is “cool” versus what they actually like. So, like what you like and go after it! Confidence will come.

For any moms reading, can you share a tidbit of advice on how to encourage your girls to accept who they are?

It’s all about the things you say about yourself and your daughter. The way you talk about your body in front of your daughter is teaching her how to talk about her body. The way you talk about your brain, your dreams, your heart … you are teaching her how to do it. The more you grow to love and accept yourself, the more your daughter will do the same.

As a Nashvillian, what excites you most about the city today?

I love seeing how the literary community is growing and how many authors are moving here — those that do faith-based writing, as well as other genres. I love how Parnassus has become a hub for good readers and good books. This town has become a great fit for people who write novels, poetry, memoirs and much more. And the coffee shops … I’m loving how more local ones keep popping up. I write in coffee shops so often — like The Well on Granny White Pike — and so I love having more spots to try and enjoy. I’m actually doing an almond milk chai tour around our coffee shops to find the best one.

Do you have any favorite local websites or blogs that inspire you?

YOU GUYS, OF COURSE!! Also, Experience Nashville and Womanista are my other favorites. I love following the tips and recommendations each offers and seeing Nashville through the eyes of the writers and photographers for these sites. Y’all remind me of the beauty of this town and show me new digs and old secret hideaways that I would have never found on my own. I’m also a huge fan of Living With Landyn.

Annie Downs

How do you handle days that seem overwhelming? Do you go anywhere to regroup or have any tips you can share?

Radnor Lake. It’s my favorite spot in this town. With the variety of trails, you can walk for a quick 20 minutes or you can weave around for two hours. It’s like our own Central Park — a beautiful corner of nature right in the middle of town. I have found so much joy, peace and healing there, which is exactly why it is mentioned in the dedication of Looking For Lovely!

Where are you most looking forward to spending your next night out in Nashville?

Virago. Upstairs on the outdoor patio. I just cannot get enough of that crispy rice spicy tuna.

Have you recently read any books that you can recommend?

The Nest. I loved it. (Parnassus told me to read it. I’m glad I did. I obey Ann Patchett.) Sophie Hudson just came out with a new book, Giddy Up, Eunice, and I adored it, as well. Laughed and cried.

Having lived in Nashville nearly a decade, do you have any insider tips?

Don’t try to use the old First Baptist parking lot code to park in their lot downtown. They’ve figured us all out and change it a lot … Also, PM has a great menu but there is a grilled chicken sandwich that is UNBELIEVABLE, which you can still order even though it isn’t on the menu, anymore. Just tell them you want the “old school chicken sandwich.” The waiter may say they don’t know what you’re talking about but tell them to go ask. The kitchen knows.

We’d love to know three lighthearted things you can’t live without!

  1. Coke ICEEs
  2. An afternoon at the Sevier Park playground with my best friends and their kids
  3. Copper Kettle’s fried okra

Thank you, Annie! To find out more about Annie and read about her fabulous collection of books, check out her website anniefdowns.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s photos!

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Jaime Nephew was just 39 years old when she suffered a stroke. In honor of American Stroke Month, we’re thrilled to feature Jaime as this month’s FACE of TriStar. Read her inspiring story of recovery and find out what advice she offers for anyone who’s reading. Click here!

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