I decided it’s time for a little self check-up. A mid-winter assessment of how well I’ve been doing with mindfulness...and by doing it here, I become much more accountable.
Eckhart Tolle has been getting to me. I read The Power of Now in October and then promptly read A New Earth.
Once I finished with the ‘research’ phase, I eagerly set my sights on mastering the art of staying present.
I fully realize this is not a skill to be mastered, but actually something of a lifelong practice. Thankfully, the human condition allows us to continue learning and growing (even as we stumble and fall) on the way to becoming more awake and conscious.
Here’s a review of my Now’ness.
First off, please know I’m no guru. I certainly don’t have all (or really even any) of the answers...but I’m seeking.
And I promise to always share what I’m learning along the way.
The methods I’m using to find the present moment are simple. I rely on the common practices of those who’ve been doing this way longer than me. Thankfully, they’ve made it pretty easy to begin.
Whenever I tune into the present moment, I have a strong sense of returning.
I instantly realize that I’m back - as in, I become conscious of the fact that I was lost in thought and become aware of the voice I hear in my head -
I then pay attention to my breath. Sometimes counting each inhale and exhale and sometimes just feeling the air coming in and going out. I become centered.
Feeling pretty Zen. I think ‘Wow, this is awesome!’
And then, 4 hours pass before I become aware that I’ve been completely consumed by thoughts again:-)
My mind took over and I was just along for the ride.
In theory, staying present is a simple practice. Yet, the degree of difficulty is astonishing! I am constantly blown away by how incredibly hard it is to stay present for more than a few seconds!
A few seconds!
On any given day, how is it possible that my mind can’t be still for more than a few seconds at a time?!?!
Here’s what I’m noticing as I work to stay present…
1. This is hard.
I spend a huge part of each day in complete oblivion. Every day there are surprisingly (and embarrassingly) large chunks of time when I’m totally ‘gone’. My mind is in total control and I’m not aware in the slightest.
Until, I am aware.
All of a sudden, I’m back. Feeling my breath. Observing my thoughts. Present.
2. Less stress.
The more often I operate in the Now, the easier life becomes.
When I’m present and aware, the big scary worries seem manageable and the nagging thoughts dissolve away completely. It’s as if the bright light of awareness eliminates most of the shadowy-stresses.
The problems don’t consume me. The constant worry stops. Little things stay little.
3. More joy.
It’s almost silly how much happier I am when I stay more present. I hear myself laughing freely. I notice the good stuff.
I feel more like my authentic self when I'm present. I guess this is kind of the whole point, huh?
4. More clarity.
I recognize my resistance.
This might be the biggest ‘aha’ for me.
Oh, boy do I see this with more clearly lately. It’s as if the things I resist are lit up in flashing neon!
When I’m having an issue or problem, it always comes back to me resisting what is. I want the present moment to be different. As obvious as this may seem, once I recognize that I’m resisting, I’m able to step back and decide to stop. I can choose to let go. What freedom!
See? It’s simple, but certainly not easy. Or without constant effort...at least in the beginning.
I’m hoping that with practice this whole Now thing becomes the new normal.
Are you aware of the voice in your head?
Do you have an internal roommate who never stops talking?
How do you find and hold onto the present moment in the fullness of everyday life?
I'd love to hear what works for you and what you struggle with regarding staying present. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekly Updates! Right here.
Thanks for being here. Please don't ever hesitate if you have a question...just ask.
While I partially agree with the popular notion that Valentine’s Day is a holiday designed to sell cards, flowers and chocolates...I do smile at all of the pink and red hearts on display in February. I am a true romantic. I’m fine with pulling out the stops on February 14th, if that’s your thing, but I do believe that a great romantic relationship should be nurtured and celebrated all year long.
Since I’m feeling all the feels of this sappy season...this post is about love:-)
My daughter and her boyfriend are celebrating their one year anniversary today. She’s a high school senior and he’s a (far away) college freshman. Their relationship is nothing like my relationships at that age. They have an emotional maturity that I lacked until I was almost thirty.
Sure, they face some typical young love struggles and the distance is difficult for both of them, but they've stayed together for 365 days.
At any age, I think that’s pretty cool.
My in-laws are rounding the corner to 50 years of marriage. At only 68 years old, they’ve essentially been married since they were kids. They’ve raised four children and have eleven grandchildren and they actually still like each other. They have staying power.
Today, Matthew and I have been married for 7,573 days.
I’m often asked to share our secret. How have we managed to keep our marriage so solid for so many years?
I guess I can think of a few things that have worked for us, but there’s one that we both believe has been some serious glue.
What's Second Dinner?
Quiet. Meaningful. Alone time.
Matthew and I eat dinner at 9:30 every night.
Our teenage children eat around 6:30 with us fully in the mix, but not really eating with them.
We often have a small taste of what they’re having, but it’s definitely not a meal...it’s more of a snack.
We all talk and share the news of the day, but Matthew and I have our dinner alone, later.
Second dinner always includes candles and wine.
Our big kids sometimes filter through the dining room while we're eating. We chat briefly and they head off to bed.
How did we get here? Sort of by accident...
When Matthew and I began living together, we worked in a restaurant. I planned events and he managed the restaurant. My role was to get the party started and then quietly exit once things were smoothly underway. Matthew was there until the end. Locking up and heading home, often after midnight.
Back then, I’d eat something small when I got home and then wait up for Matthew so I could eat dinner with him. This continued until we had our first baby.
Then, Matthew took a day job so he could be home in the evenings. We’d put Greta down and then we’d eat dinner.
As our family grew, I think we assumed that we’d begin having traditional family dinners once our kids were a little older.
That never really happened.
Well, for a few reasons….
When Greta was three and a half, Henry was born (he's our third:-). Dinnertime with two toddlers and an infant was challenging.
As the kids got older, even relatively peaceful dinners were chaotic.
Mayhem. Lots of food to cut up. Mouths to wipe. Meltdowns to manage. We were teaching manners and setting ground rules, but Matthew and I needed time to be adults. I missed having time with him.
And, then there's the wine problem.
The few times I tried to include a glass of wine in the early family dinner mix...I wanted to go to bed before bath-time. Wine and toddlers didn’t work for me. A few sips and I was too tired handle the busy bedtime routine. I was often exhausted from the fullness of the every day...a glass of wine and I was useless.
But I love wine.
I quickly discovered that after everyone was safely tucked into their beds...I could light the candles and have a glass of wine with my husband. I gained a second dinner-second wind and was ready to connect with Matthew.
We could sit like grown ups and remember what we liked about each other. It was our time. And quickly became sacred.
With rare exception, we always eat a second dinner.
On vacation...it's out for an early, small meal then home for a second dinner alone. At the beach with the whole family (22+ people) we still make second dinner work.
This practice has strengthened and sustained our marriage.
We recognize this is an unusual arrangement. We've gotten some flack and resistance about our method over the years. But, we've stopped apologizing for it. We relish our time together every evening.
Twenty years in...this works for us.
Just to clarify....we do have a few family dinners every week with our kids. Traditional mealtimes where we all sit around the table and eat together...but Matthew and I eat light, knowing that we'll be back at the table together later...with candlelight and wine.
If you’d like to give second dinner a try...
Pick an evening next week to have dinner alone. At home. Keep it simple and make is special. Then, please share your thoughts!
Every happy couple has their own secret for success.
Need a Valentine’s Day gift?
I recently purchased Table Topics for Couples.
It's a Lucite box containing 135 cards. On each card is a question for couples. Matthew and I take turns sharing a question while we eat. The answers spark interesting conversations and offer a unique way to stay connected.
A great marriage does take some work, but if you want a great marriage...it’s worth the effort.
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
I’m researching lots of fun and informative topics for upcoming posts.
Weekly updates keep you informed. Sign up here.
Thanks so much for being here. Questions? Please ask! Email me at email@example.com or comment below,
I’ve mentioned before, I'm what marketers consider a Late Majority Adopter. Or possibly even a Laggard (though that sounds dreadful). If I’m ever the first to try something new, it’s purely by accident. I don’t rush into purchases and I usually take a while to warm up to a product I’ve never tried before. I wait until there's conclusive evidence that the item is 'worth it' to me.
Today, I’d like to thank all of the Early Adopters out there.
Thank you for doing the dirty work and testing out the latest thing and the newest craze. Your efforts allow me to delay until I’m absolutely convinced that the purchase or experience is deserving of my time, money and energy. I never intended for others to do the research and testing for me, it just worked out this way.
I imagine that the Early Adopters are quite happy in their role. Eager to continue to be first. At least, I hope so.
Sometimes I dream about being one of them...
Brave enough to try the next big thing long before it becomes the next big thing.
For me, this concept actually reaches beyond the clothing and products in my life to experiences.
I’m thrilled that someone decided to climb to the peak of a 14 thousand foot mountain. And I’m super thankful that lots of someones after continued to make the trek...so that by the time I reached the summit of my first 14er last August, I was able to benefit from the wisdom of all those who went before me and shared their experience.
That hike, in a word...
I always listen carefully as the Early Adopters around me rave about a new item. I’m fascinated by their boldness and commitment to stepping outside of the box. Their bravery has led me to discover personal favorites that I certainly would have otherwise missed.
Currently, I’m grateful to the masses who’ve been wearing and loving Frye shoes for over 100 years.
I’ve heard about the incredible quality and comfort of this brand for years. I’ve also known of their high price tag and was never quite ready to take the leap.
After a recent, exhaustive, unsuccessful search for a pair of classic, menswear inspired shoes, I looked to Frye.
I stepped out of my own box and purchased a pair of Frye oxfords.
I finally see what all of the fuss is about.
Truth be told, here's the full story...
I purchased the shoes on Amazon (best selection and price...for basically everything). They were on sale a little, yet still expensive.
When they arrived, I tried them on.
My first thoughts...
Back into the box.
Embarrassingly, I kept them in the box in my closet for months. I was afraid to wear them for fear I wouldn’t like them as much as everyone else does. Worried that I’d be the exception to the “I love Frye shoes” rule.
And mostly concerned that they wouldn’t be comfortable enough to wear to work in retail during the busy holiday season.
So they sat.
Every so often, I’d take them out and try them on. Wanting to actually wear them, but not being ready.
It seems I’m not even an Early Adopter once an item is in my flipping house! Still waiting for the right time. Still not quite convinced. Ridiculous.
Finally, I figured I’d probably missed my chance to return them so I should just wear the dang shoes!
I was scheduled for a short shift at Anthropologie. I figured my feet could endure any shoes for 4 hours.
I took the plunge.
I wore my new (but months old:-) Frye oxfords.
Are you kidding me?!
These shoes are like slippers only with the most incredible support. Like a strong hug for your feet.
I’m sold. I’m a follower.
This will not be my only pair of Frye shoes. Is it too soon to start searching for a pair of perfect fall boots?
Have you been wanting to try a pair of Frye shoes?
If compared to you, I'm the Early Adopter, let me assure you that these shoes are the real deal.
(and please know that this is not an affiliate post. I'm not paid or compensated at all by Frye:-)
They're reminiscent of good old-fashioned, back-to-school shoes. The kind that remind your feet what structured shoes feel like after a summer in flip flops. The shoes that smell like polished leather and bring to mind new pencils. I love them!
My gratitude also extends to Converse wearers. I did the same foolish thing with flat-top Converse sneakers for far too long.
I resisted for years. I decided they couldn't be that comfortable and even if they were...my size 10 foot couldn't possibly wear that looong white shoe! Well, I’m now on my 5th or 6th pair. I’ll never go back:-)
So, my deepest thanks to all of you who take risks way up in front so that I can follow along...sometimes years later, and reap the benefits.
Okay, please share…
Which one are you?
Early Adopter or Late Majority Adopter?
Is there a category where you tend to take the most risks? Clothing, experiences, foods...
Just an FYI...
February is going to be a full month at our house. We'll be celebrating my husband's birthday, finishing up some scholarship stuff with Greta, spending family time working on our live list...and just hunkering down to get through this notoriously cold and snowy month.
I appreciate your patience with me if I miss a post or two in the coming weeks.
If you don't already receive Weekly Updates, you can sign up here!
Thank you for following along. Please email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.
Happy February! Make it an amazing month!
If you missed the Wake-Up Your Wardrobe course back in November, enrollment is open for a limited time. Click on The Together Act Academy tab above for more information. This simple three-day online course is designed to help you discover your personal style so you can start loving and wearing your wardrobe!
And stay tuned...I'm going to be revisiting my Wear Everything I Own challenge very soon!
Baseball, Bomber, Varsity, Letterman...whatever you call this classic jacket, it's currently on-trend and popping up everywhere! The world of fashion will always simultaneously celebrate and bash what's trendy. It’s the nature of the business to create buzz around what’s in and what’s out. Some trends are very fleeting. Others have serious staying power.
The jacket seems to be sticking around.
Like it's name, the styling may vary but the basic concept remains the same...
Short jacket with ribbed knit trim (often striped) at the neck, cuffs and hemline. Zip front. Sleeves may be a different color and/or fabrication. Sometimes this piece is embroidered or floral.
What's my personal stance on trends?
I don’t exactly resist trends. After all, I’m a personal stylist. I’m in the business of promoting what’s current in the world of fashion.
However, I'm usually a late adopter. I’m very rarely on the cutting edge of style trends. My tastes tend to run too classic and timeless. And my budget's too small to invest heavily in pieces that won’t look fresh next season.
What’s a girl to do when she wants to try rocking a cool piece like the baseball-bomber-varsity-letterman jacket?
Here’s my advice on how to approach this trend wisely...
The bomber jacket (I'll use this term for simplicity) is a versatile, iconic piece that's been gaining popularity for the past few seasons. It's making an extremely strong showing in stores right now.
Like any great trend that's had a running start, it’s accessible. This jacket is now available at every price point and is offered in a huge variety of fabrics.
But the best news is...unlike some hot trends….the bomber jacket is completely wearable at absolutely every age! And for almost any occasion!
That’s my kind of trend!
Before dashing out to join this fashion craze...
1. Consider your lifestyle.
What type of bomber jacket will work best for you? Do you need a mid-weight jacket to wear outside? Should it be waterproof? Warm? Do you plan to only wear this jacket indoors? To work? On dates?
By deciding how you plan to use this trendy piece, you'll save time and effort when shopping. You’ll be able to concentrate your search on just the fabrics and styles that will work for you.
2. Consider your existing wardrobe.
Okay, so you’ve decided where you’d like to wear your jacket. Great. Next, what do you have to wear with it? You probably own several things that will look terrific with a bomber jacket. Find them.
By determining which pieces in your current wardrobe will work with a bomber jacket, you’ll narrow down your color palette and fabric options. This will better help you to recognize your perfect bomber when you see it!
3. Consider the seasons.
Aim to buy this jacket in a fabric that will work for more than one season. A heavy wool version is going to be useless in the spring. And a sheer, sparkly style might look out of place on a dreary, cold day. I prefer the lined satiny options. They’re great for layering over a tank or a long-sleeved sweater and the sheen of the satin makes the piece a bit more fun!
4. Consider your age.
The idea is to translate this trend into something that looks authentic on you. If it appears that you're trying too hard, you've missed the mark.
Subtlety should increase with your age. Leave the wildly embellished, super colorful versions of the bomber jacket to the 20-somethings. Find one that fits your vibe and sense of self. It's okay to step out of your comfort zone, just stay true to you.
5. Consider your budget.
Remember, the bomber jacket is currently a trend. This piece should not be a major investment. (Unless, you've worn this style for years and know it's a keeper for you. Then go ahead and invest in the coolest one you can find)
The best wardrobes contain ‘special’ pieces that add interest, but those pieces don’t need to be expensive. You invest in the classics...a fabulous black blazer, incredible cashmere, the perfect jeans. Trends are intended to come and go.
Don’t overspend on a bomber jacket this year. Decide what this look is worth to you. Pick a dollar amount and shop with that number in mind. Remember...you can score this piece for as little at $20;-)
6. Don’t delay.
Wear it! You might miss the wave if you leave this piece hanging in your closet too long. The time to rock the bomber jacket is now. Create a few outfits with your awesome new trendy piece and head out into the world looking on point and super hip!
I don't consider Anthropologie to be trendy, but they do a great job of staying current and still remaining true to their unique style.
We have lots of bomber jackets in the store right now. These two are my favorites...
I've been asked to share more on how I style the clothing in my wardrobe.
So, here goes...
I’ve stepped into my own closet to create some outfits with my bomber jacket.
A quick recap of the results from the survey I posted a few weeks ago.
Thank you again for all of your responses!
I sincerely appreciate your time and input.
Here’s the takeaway...
The vast majority of you are hoping for posts about all of the topics listed. The single topic most selected was definitely Effortless Style. I love this so much because I really wanted to dig deeper into all of the subjects, but have a major soft spot for helping women create effortless style.
Almost all of you said that a mix of both written posts and videos is what you’d like. You’ve got it. This is my preference also:-)
And finally, most of you asked for a post every week. The second choice was every two weeks. Again, this is exactly what works best for me...so happy we’re on the same page! I'll plan to post weekly, but when I'm in a jam, I'll know that two weeks is okay also:-)
I'll be spending considerable time over the next few weeks working on a posting schedule for the coming months.
If there's a specific question or problem you’d like me to address, now is the time to comment. Please email me or comment below and I will work your request into the mix.
Weekly updates keep you informed. Sign up here!
Thank you for letting me into your inbox each week. I'm thrilled we're together on this journey to find great style and create a simple, joy-filled, authentic life.
Sometimes the answer is right under your nose...or in this case, my feet. I've needed a place to write for quite a while. I was feeling frustrated and stuck without many options...and I wasn't seeking a solution. At the start of 2017, I realized that if I wanted to have a truly functional office space (more in the video), I was going to have to get creative.
I'm thrilled that my new writing nook is finished. I've been using it for about a week...and I love it!
Can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this sooner.
My office now occupies part of the unfinished storage space in our finished basement. I used mostly items that we already owned and as a result this space was very inexpensive and simple to create.
Here are a few 'before' photos.
Happy snow day helper:=)
It’s been a while since I posted a video. This one is a bit longer than usual.
I wanted to provide the backstory of why and how my writing nook came to be...and also give you a tour of the space.
I hope you enjoy...
A thousand thanks!
Last week, I asked a favor of my readers and included a survey in my post. The response to that little survey has been incredible! (You can still participate, if you'd like)
Thank you to everyone who took a few seconds to reply. The information collected will be extremely helpful to me as I work to create new content for posts, videos and courses.
Your responses were anonymous (unless, like my dear mom, you signed your comment:-) so I don’t know who wrote all of the sweet gems that appeared in my inbox.
However, I can tell you that I read every single comment, many of them aloud to my family. I was touched, humbled and inspired by your beautiful words.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I will do my very best to give you what you are looking for here. Please know that your kindness and encouragement means that world to me.
If you don't already receive Weekly Updates, here's the link to sign up!
Thank you so much for reading. Have an amazing day!
And we’re off! We’ve almost reached the halfway mark of this inspiring (and sometimes overwhelming) first month of the year. At my house, this point in January is primarily devoted to my youngest child’s birthday. He often lucks out with a day off while the school district observes MLK Day….as is the case this year! So, I have lots of birthday stuff to accomplish before Monday:-)
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the midst of an honest mid-January check-in.
After that ball dropped, I set a lot of intentions and I'm proud to say that I've started the year off rather strong...
New writing space? Check. I’ll be sharing it in next week’s post.
Sell things on Craigslist? Check. (My son and I even delivered a bed frame and mattress to the young woman who purchased them because she couldn't get them inside by herself...I was serious about getting that unused bed out of my son’s room before his birthday!)
After two solid weeks of crossing things off of my list, I can feel myself tiring.
My mind is saying, “Okay, that’s enough. Let’s just curl up and chill for the next few months”.
Tempting as that is, I’m not willing to lose steam. No way!
I will not abandon my plan to tweak, refine and change my life in 2017.
How about you?
How’s it going so far?
Are you feeling accomplished?
Making the changes you’d envisioned?
Have a clear plan for the next eleven and a half months?
If you're already feeling burned out or have yet to actually start, here’s what I’d suggest…
1. Start small
Pick one or two little things that you can change today. Sucessful small tweaks build momentum so you’re then better able to tackle the bigger stuff. Whether it’s a change in diet, lifestyle, wardrobe or relationships...don’t wait. Do one small thing differently now.
Maybe it’s tossing all of your yucky washcloths and buying a new stack (I just did this and I smile when I see those clean, fluffy squares). Tip: I make a 1 inch cut into one edge of all the washcloths that are being demoted to rag status. That way my kids don’t fold them and put them into the linen closet with the shower washcloths:-)
2. Practice patience
Most of the habits or patterns we’d like to change in our lives have been in place for years or possibly decades. Some wise folks (like Yoda and my husband) strongly disbelieve that change takes time. They feel that change is actually very immediate. As humans we are capable of deciding on the spot to do things differently moving forward. Problem is that most of us don’t really work this way. We cling to the old, outdated, ineffective methods until the universe clubs us on the head enough times and we finally decide it’s time to do something different.
As such, I believe that we should be gentle with ourselves and provide some space for the new to take hold. The ‘change’ experts seem to agree that putting a new habit solidly in place takes about 66 days.
Just think of what could be different (better) in your life by March 20, 2017...which coincidentally happens to be the first day of spring. Sounds like today’s the perfect day to begin...and then you can celebrate your changes with the arrival of the next season!
3. Give yourself kudos
We’re our own worst critics. I’m often guilty of this myself. I can knock a dozen things off of a long to-do list and yet I remain focused on the items that aren’t yet accomplished.
What is that? It’s ridiculous, self-punishment. Show yourself some love. Be your biggest cheerleader! Feel proud every time you ‘get it done’. Give more weight to what you've finished than to what remains on the list.
4. Gentle reminders
I have lots of things I’m working to change. Honestly, sometimes I forget what’s even on the list:-) So, I’ve begun placing reminders to keep me on track. For instance...I love candles, but rarely light them (strange, I know). I now have a post-it note to remind me to light the candle on my desk.
And I need to use a foam roller to relieve some painful IT band tendonitis...so I have a note to remind me to use that dang torture device/roller twice a day.
5. Ask for help
Having someone who helps hold you accountable can go a long way when you are trying to change. My family knows that I am committed to staying in the Now as much as possible. I count on them to offer kind words to nudge me back when I’ve been abducted by my bossy mind.
6. Time out
Once you’ve completed some tasks on your list and taken steps towards changing the stuff that bugs you...pause.
I’m learning to follow my own advice on this one. As one of my 2017 changes, I’ve scheduled time to read magazines every week. For me, magazines are research and development for my business, but they’re also a favorite way to check out for a few minutes and recharge.
Another option? Honest to goodness naps. Long naps. Power naps. Indulge. They’re so worth it because you re-enter the day recharged and ready for the next task. Or... Read. Have a cup of tea. Meditate. Whatever you choose, do it with no guilt and no hurry.
And now, I need your help.
I'm desperate for a little feedback from you. Each and every one of you reading my blog has a voice and an opinion. I’d really like to hear it.
As I'm planning the content for 2017, I want to be sure I'm covering the topics that truly matter to you.
I aim to fill this space with ideas and subjects that are inspiring, problem-solving and helpful.
Here's the ask...
Chime in, multiple choice style. Super easy. Lightening fast.
Big giant thanks! I so appreciate your input. I can’t wait to read your responses.
Weekly Updates available here!
I'm thinking it’s going to be an amazing year for all of us!
Thank you for being here.
Happy New Year! 2017?! This one is a bit tough for me to grasp. My oldest child is a member of the Class of 2017. My mind is screaming, "We’re here already?!" "That’s not possible!" But, it’s a fact and so I’m going to use the ticking clock as a kick in the pants. I’ve decided this is the year I make some real headway in becoming the very best version of myself. It’s time to take a good hard look and refine my life.
I began this journey in earnest last October and I’m proud to say that I’ve made solid progress in many areas...however, there are things I haven’t tackled yet. It's time.
What better time than the start of a new year?
In the past, turning the calendar to January was usually a bit daunting for me. I always loved the lead up. I was filled with anticipation during the final days of December...
Anxiously waiting to meet the new year and the new me.
But then...the confetti settled and the balloons deflated and I felt a sense of disappointment and resignation that the next twelve months were not going to be much different than the last.
I’d fall into the same patterns and habits. Discouraged, I’d find myself making due until the following December when I was certain I’d make real changes.
This was not an effective system.
For decades, I was a notoriously dreadful goal setter. It took me a long time and the patient help of my awesome husband to finally realize the art and power of setting goals. Here's the full story.
I'm finally on-board with defining and declaring what I want and then devising a plan to make it happen. I’ve also become more gentle with myself regarding my expectations.
So, we're in it now. The first week of January is almost over.
Are you still on the fence about what you want this year?
Do you have a clear picture of where you’re heading and how to get there?
Well here are 5 steps to get you started...
I believe the most important thing we can do when we’re eager to change is to look back. Take a bit of time to examine the year that’s just passed.
This 50 question survey (from Anuschka Rees, writer and super cool girl with awesome minimalist style) arrived in my inbox just as I was beginning to feel the panic of January’s arrival. It's quick and easy. Eye-opening, for sure.
Consider what matters-
Who are you going to be this year? How does she look, act, live, feel? Pay attention to recurring themes and nagging feelings. My survey showed me that I don’t laugh enough. Sad, but true. This needs to change.
Spend time really deep diving into what works and what doesn't in your life. Doing the research and groundwork allows you to really take action and make changes.
I’ve long had trouble with taking the time to actually make a plan. Ridiculous as this sounds to me now, I honestly struggled with seeing the value in taking time to flesh out a real path forward. It seemed like a waste of precious hours.
For some crazy reason, I’d just hit the ground running, using a very fly by the seat of my pants approach.
Guess what? That approach is junk. It rarely produced any amazing results...and if it did, it was completely by accident. No way to live my one and only life!
Here’s another area where I’d fall incredibly short. As in, leave out this step entirely. For decades:-)
I’d create an amazing list of things that I wanted to do, change, handle...and then the list would sit. Until I neatly rewrote it again. And again. Never actually doing what was on the list.
Enter my scheduling god of a husband… “Kristen, you have to put the things that are on your list onto your calendar. They must be scheduled into your life in order for them to actually happen”. This isn’t a direct quote, but it’s basically what he said (repeatedly).
Well, I finally get it. I schedule and then complete what’s on my list! What a novel concept. Thanks again, babe.
This part comes down to being realistic. Pay strict attention to your time.
How long a task will take has often been the downfall of my careful scheduling.
Be honest with yourself about what you can fit into a day or a weekend. Schedule accordingly. It’s self-defeating to cram too much into your schedule and then not be able to complete any of it.
Take focused action-
Here’s the tricky part. Once it’s on your schedule, you have to actually do it.
Laser focus gets things done. Another productivity truth I failed to realize for decades. Not proud.
I'm there. I see the results of concentrated attention and forward motion.
Take care not to get sidetracked or distracted. Stick to one task at a time and finish it!
Keep growing and changing-
If I'm honest, I like things to be once and done. If I could go to the grocery store one time for the entire year, I’d do it! I like things crossed off the list. Done.
I strongly resisted the constant shifting that was required as my children grew from babies to toddlers to elementary school age to teens. As soon as I’d have their spaces and systems just right...they would change and their needs would too.
It took me many years to settle into the reality of constant change.
Nothing stays the same. And neither should we.
Seek out something new. Learn something. Do things a different way. Break free of old ways that no longer serve you.
As I move deeper into January 2017, I have a few things topping my list of stuff that I want to tweak.
Here’s a peek…
A writing space. As I type, I’ve enlisted the help of my boys (who have a snow day today!) to basically empty and reorganize our basement storage area so that I can create a writing nook. Yes, they're thrilled:-)
I’ve realized that in order to do my online Together Act work properly, I need a quiet space. This has been an issue for a while, but I wasn’t doing anything to fix the problem. Today, I am.
Wardrobe changes. I have a great wardrobe. Working at Anthropologie has done wonders for the basics and the specialty pieces in my closet.
However, I still have items that I rarely wear. I have several pieces that don’t feel authentic to me anymore. It’s time for some changes. I want less stuff! I want a smaller wardrobe that works for my lifestyle. I know what needs to be done. It’s time to do it.
2017 Live List. Link. This practice is new to our family...remember, I never set goals before. Our first Live List was really successful and we’re all ready for another one. I love that this simple activity brings my family together and sets our sights on some common goals.
My wish is for loads of quality time with my children and husband this year. That clock is ticking…
Show up on Instagram. I’ve been kind of stingy. I'm not contributing to the relationship. Instagram is definitely my favorite social media site. I try to limit my consumption...but sometimes I get lost in those little squares.
However, I've been taking far more than I give. So, I’d like to start regularly sharing more of my own life in my feed. I’ve been asked to offer outfit of the day photos, more styling info and ideas for simple organizing. I’m ready. I want to give back to the community that I enjoy so much.
What are you ready to change?
I'd love to know. Comment below.
Questions? Email me at email@example.com
Wishing you a year of accepting inevitable changes and implementing a few of your own. Thank you so much for reading.
Want weekly updates in your inbox...sign up here!
P.S. A little info about the orchid pictured above. When we moved last February, our new next door neighbors gave us a beautiful orchid plant. Its blooms were gorgeous.
As they faded, I considered throwing the plant away. I don't usually have great luck with helping green things thrive. But, I decided to keep it around as long as it still looked like it was alive. It sits in a sunny (but chilly) window and I water it occasionally. I basically ignored it for months. A while ago, I noticed new shoots growing and hooked one into the clips...since that seemed like the right thing to do;-)
Today, this bud began to open. Mid-snowstorm. I'm inspired and reminded that great things can happen if we show even a little care and patience.
Okay, so last week I shared my thoughts on wearing what you already own for this year’s holiday parties. I also mentioned that if you truly have absolutely nothing hanging in your that’s party worthy...I’d give you some suggestions on what to buy to get you through this festive season.
Alright, let's do this so you can find the perfect piece and head out to those soirées in style!
I believe there are two ways to handle shopping for a special occasion outfit.
1. Invest in something fabulous that you will love wearing for many years.
Little black dress. Statement heels. Incredible cashmere sweater.
2. Find a piece or two that won’t break the bank to carry you through.
Sparkly top. Velvet blouse. Fancy skirt.
I’m fine with both options. Sometimes it comes down to budget and sometimes it’s all about what you find when you’re shopping.
I usually end up spying a snazzy piece at a super price (I’m a really good shopper:-) so I don’t need to invest heavily in special occasion stuff. Plus, my lifestyle doesn’t require much formal clothing...so a few ‘wow’ items are plenty to see me through the season of sparkle.
If you choose to go with a high-quality, investment piece, here are some guidelines:
Buy classic shapes.
Black and ivory are always smart colors choices.
Insist on comfort.
Make sure it sparks real joy!
Here’s my personal holiday outfitting story...
I have three sparkly, fun garments in my closet.
A shimmery pewter/gold tank that I’ve had for three years and continue to wear every holiday season. I love it. It brings me joy. It could be considered an investment piece because I’m still wearing it several years after purchase, but since it was under $20, it was hardly an ‘investment’.
The other two items, I purchased in the last six weeks, each for under $20. They are...a pale pink, sparkly t-shirt and a black tulle skirt with gold glitter. The skirt I’m guessing I’ll wear for several years. The pink t-shirt? Honestly, it's scratchy. Not sure how many times I'll really wear it. I fell for the shape and color...not such a good shopper after all:-)
All three pieces coordinate with almost everything in my closet...from denim to camo cargo pants to navy or black blazers.
Best of all, they feel like me.
They're similar to my regular clothes, but with some dazzle.
A little bit goes a long way.
This top is similar to my shimmery tank. It's from Urban Outfitters, but tops like this are available in lots of stores right now.
Here's my black tulle glitter skirt.
I freaked my kids out a bit when I purchased this skirt, It's from the girl's department in Target. I bought a large. Fits like a women's size 4. I wore it to work at Anthropologie on Black Friday with a red plaid flannel shirt, pearls and booties...can't wait to wear it again:-)
Last minute party invitation? No time to really shop?
It's not too late.
There's still time for you to score something amazing to wear to that upcoming holiday gathering!
So, make a beeline for your nearest store. From Target & H&M to Forever 21 & J. Crew...there's a 'wow' piece waiting for you.
Don't over think it.
Go basic, but elevated.
Seek out a silhouette that you already love and then pick the fancy version.
If you sparkle isn't your thing...opt for velvet. I haven’t purchased a velvet piece yet this season. I’d really like to add one to my wardrobe. This luxurious fabric is super on-trend right now so there are lots of choices at every price point. I really like this one...
I hope this helps you find the perfect holiday piece...so that you can ultimately build an amazing outfit! Don't stress. Take a deep breath and remember, it's about enjoying time spent with family and friends.
I'm going to spend the final week before Christmas helping lots of customers at Anthropologie in Boulder;-) and celebrating a birthday. Then I plan to recharge with my husband and kids before the start of 2017! I'll be back in January with new content and course options....covering topics like decluttering, wardrobe building, living simply, staying present and finding joy.
Don't miss a single post.
Weekly Updates are free and easy!
Questions? Please ask.
firstname.lastname@example.org or just comment below.
Thank you so much for reading.
Wishing you the very happiest of holidays.
P.S. Off topic...my husband has been in the wine business for decades.
I'm often asked to share his favorites. So, I'm considering a quick post prior to 12/31 to share Matthew's picks for sparkling wines...let me know if there's any interest. Thanks!
December means parties. Invitations are rolling in for holiday events. The mere thought of having to get ‘dressed up’ often starts an unfortunate chain of events that goes something like this...
Look in closet.
Panic over not having anything to wear.
Pop into a store with only 15 minutes and no plan.
Buy a few pieces that might work.
Back home, become overwhelmed with options or lack thereof.
Change outfits at least ten times before leaving for the event wearing items you already owned before the panicked shopping trip.
Annoying errands to return the impulse party outfit purchases.
There is a better way.
Unless it's a super formal affair, you probably have a few appropriate, stylish holiday outfits hanging in your very own closet...right now.
Let's find them.
Five ways to make your jeans or black pants work for this year’s holiday parties.
1. The base.
Pick your darkest, straightest/skinniest, best-fitting jeans. Or your most flattering black pants. These can be slim cigarette style, classic trouser shape or wide-leg, fluid pants. The idea is to use what you have.
2. The specifics.
Consider the event. Is is inside? Outside? Are you usually warm or cold at winter parties. Will you be standing? Sitting for a long dinner? Comfort is key, start there. The better you feel, the better you'll look!
3. Select your favorite piece.
Maybe it’s a luxurious cashmere sweater. Or a sparkly scarf that brings out your eyes. Or a killer pair of heels. Or a dynamite statement necklace. Use this piece to begin building an amazing holiday ensemble.
4. Consider your comfort zone...and then step outside.
Now’s the time to mix it up. If you usually wear structured pieces, pull out that slinky blouse you never wear because it’s too sheer. If you’re in a turtleneck everyday, reach for that deep v-neck sweater in the back of your closet.
5. Play dress-up.
Gather your options. Music, optional. Start trying things on. Make outfits and swap pieces until you smile big when you look in the mirror. You’ll know when you find the outfit. It should be a bit daring, but still feel like you...only gussied up in honor of the season!
Want some ideas?
Remember, it's all in the details.
Dark skinny jeans with a pale cashmere sweater...that just might slip off your shoulder, sparkly earrings, a red lip and booties.
Black trousers, silk or lace camisole, velvet or satin blazer and a simple shoe...heel or flat.
Dark jeans, white blouse, sexy heels and a great necklace.
Black pants, sleek fitting t-shirt or simple sweater and a fabulous, shimmery scarf.
A sliver of shoulder is sexy at any age.
Basic black with shiny red accents is always on trend.
A little sparkle can go a long way.
Use the WOW factor to your advantage.
In my experience, a woman almost always has something fantastic in her current wardrobe that she can wear to a holiday party.
Racing out to buy something new often backfires because you don't have a real plan.
You grab something that’s on sale but not amazing.
You pick something elaborate that you’ll never wear again.
Or you head home empty-handed having wasted precious time and energy. (You could have been taking a bubble bath or a nap:-)
Keep this in mind...
Simplicity is elegant. And real point of any soirée is to spend time with your friends and loved ones.
This season, start with what you have.
You just might surprise yourself.
If you really, really can’t find anything in your closet to wear…sit tight.
Next week, I’ll share what to buy when you have absolutely no other choice but to shop for a holiday outfit!
Weekly updates...sign up here!
Wishing you a slow and happy December. Spend time doing something you love...this crazy season is over in a blink. Don't miss it.
Thank you for reading. Comments or questions? Yes, please! email@example.com
Have wonderful week.
My first experience with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was in July of 2015. I read Marie Kondo’s book and immediately began purging and tidying every corner of our home. Her methods, clearly defined and simple to employ, made complete sense to me. She was definitely speaking my language (even though she really wasn’t since she speaks Japanese and I speak English:-). I enjoyed the process and loved the results.
Last weekend, my family and I decorated our home for the holidays. My oldest is a senior in high school, so we are all acutely aware that this might be our final holiday season with all five of us living under the same roof. My children requested that we go ‘all out’ with the decorating. Which for us is still fairly tame but, I felt the desire to oblige and make this December a little more special than years past.
So, we adopted an elfin spirit.
We carefully hung lights on the tree in our front yard...something we very rarely do.
We picked out a beautiful Fraser Fir tree, we dragged out all of the boxes marked 'Christmas' and began to decorate the tree and our home.
Then something interesting happened.
We realized that we have lots of ornaments and holiday stuff that we don’t really like.
You're probably wondering...
Didn't she KonMari her Christmas stuff?
Yes, I did go through our holiday boxes during my initial KonMari event. I purged quite a bit and the pieces I kept sparked joy at the time.
Yet, as we unwrapped the trinkets and treasures from our collection, each of us realized that some of the items don’t actually feel like us anymore.
Our family has changed and our aesthetic has changed. And that’s okay. We realized that we'd like to make some changes so that our holiday style feels more authentic.
I've decided to approach this holiday season with the KonMari principles in mind. Keeping the joy factor at the forefront as I shop and decorate.
How to apply the KonMari Method to decorating and gift-giving:
1. Does it spark joy?
Ask this vital question of everything in your holiday boxes. Take the time to really listen to the response you feel when you hold each piece. Holiday items are usually sentimental and only make an appearance once a year. We tend to settle for what we have because it’s a busy season and we just want to cross the decorating off of the list. This can result in a house full of decorations that don’t spark joy.
2. Create a vision.
Decide what you want your holiday decorating vibe to be. If all of your decorations are rustic country and you really like mid-century modern, it’s time to re-evaluate. Create a Pinterest board or tear images out of magazines. Find the look that represents your ideal holiday home. This helps to reveal what’s missing from your current collection.
In doing this myself, I realized two things were missing from our home: the glow of candles and twinkly lights and a warm neutral color pallette. In my mind, the holidays are sparkly and warm but in our home, the only lights were on the tree. And our holiday decorations were very traditional with lots of red and green. Those pieces seemed out of place in our relatively modern, natural home.
3. Buy one or two items that you absolutely love!
Make sure you are over the moon for anything new. Don’t settle. You can begin to build an amazing collection slowly and deliberately. This year, I added this incredible tree. I smile every time I glance at it. And, a dear friend recently shared her love of these candles. They are so incredible! My birthday is in a few weeks and I’m hoping for one or two of these:-)
If necessary, wait until the after-season sales when you can grab great holiday pieces at incredible prices.
4. Give the people what they want.
Will they really love it? Ask for a list. Don’t give junk. Don’t get lured into buying a bunch of little gifts that are essentially junk. More is not better. One desired item of good quality is much better than several low quality items.
Consider life after the holidays. Will your gift stand the test of time...or will it be purged because it doesn’t spark joy?
Sometimes I think my kids would love to have this or that...but when I really ponder the item, I usually realize that it’s not really what they truly want or need...it's just more stuff to buy, wrap, open and then store in our home.
5. Stick to a list and a budget.
Make a list before you shop and adhere to the list. Remember, it’s the job of the retailers and marketers to make you want (and think you need) everything! You don’t. Tune it all out.
And...pay cash. Super tight budget? Give experiences and time together. Bake something simple. Write a letter or a poem. Print a special photo and pop it into a dollar store frame. You’ll love January with no credit card bills.
Note: I’ve done Christmas on the smallest imaginable budget. I sold things and returned things in order to buy a few gifts for my children. It was the first year I spent only cash. What a relief to face January without the dread of credit card statements. It was a loooong time coming, but Christmas is a cash-only holiday for us now. If you'd like more info on how to make this happen, please email me directly:-)
4. All wrapped up
I love to wrap gifts. I love beautiful papers and ribbons and bows. In the past, I’ve been known to hoard all things gift wrap, but I’ve changed my ways. And I feel so much lighter without bins of unused gift wrap and gift boxes waiting for ‘someday’. I do keep a small shower caddy stocked with scissors, a few ribbons, a roll of tape and some white tissue paper. I buy wrapping paper as I need it and I request boxes when I make a gift purchase.
This season, only buy what you’ll use. In the KonMari Method, there's no storing what you might need ‘someday’. Start fresh each year.
I wish you a slow moving, joy-filled, wonderful month. Consider what matters most to you and schedule everything else around that:-)
I’m making an effort to spend more time with my family this season. I realize that next year will feel very different with my daughter away at university.
It’s incredibly true...
The days are long, but the years are fast.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be devoting time to creating new content for the blog, YouTube channel and The Together Act Academy. I’m very excited for the new year! I have some fun fresh ideas that I can't wait to share with you.
Something on your mind?
If you have a question, there's a good chance that someone else is wondering the same thing also.
So, ask away!
Topics you'd like me to explore? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. I'd love to include your ideas in future posts.
Finally, thank you for being here. I am humbled and honored that you allow me into your inbox each week.
Take time to really be present this holiday season.
Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,