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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a year of accepting inevitable changes and implementing a few of your own. Thank you so much for reading.
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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.
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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!
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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! firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com 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.
Happy Thanksgiving. This American tradition is one of my favorites. An entire day devoted to giving thanks. What a simply beautiful concept.
I’ve worked retail for many years and have always enjoyed having Thanksgiving Day as the calm before the storm of holiday shopping truly begins. Slow and peaceful, I love this special day reserved for presence and gratitude.
Since I'm currently a bit obsessed with all things Eckhart Tolle, I'm going to take today to continue reading The New Earth and focus on the Now.
Regardless of your heritage or nationality, I hope today finds you thankful.
Take this opportunity to pause before the start of the crazy season ahead.
Remember what really matters to you and vow to make plenty of time for that...now and in the coming weeks.
Thank you for being here. This community feeds my soul. I’m so grateful to each and every one of you for reading my words.
What are you most thankful for today?
Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I've been receiving lots of requests to re-open Wake-Up Your Wardrobe. Seems many of you weren't ready in September...but you are now.
Some women tell me they want a crash-course, wardrobe wake-up call before the holidays! (it can be done:-)
Others have asked about giving the course as a gift.
So, The Together Act Academy is having a Black Friday Sale!
Check your inbox tomorrow for details....
If you’ve left your house, collected your mail or turned on your television recently, you’ve probably seen it. It’s been happening for the past few weeks. Gradually at first. Now it’s full-blown. In countries where Christmas is celebrated, retailers are all decked out in their holiday finery. It’s about to become 'the most beautiful time of the year'...and for many, the most stressful and frenzied.
When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was the line in the sand. Holiday decorating did not begin prior to that famous fourth Thursday in November. The following day, known affectionately as Black Friday (because it was always the day that put a retailer’s financial books back into the black) was first beginning of the holiday madness.
It seems that the holiday hubbub hits earlier every year. Stores begin stocking holiday merchandise in October...or even September. Halloween goods now share the floor with Christmas gifts and decorations.
I’ve worked retail my entire life. I’m quite comfortable being surrounded by ornaments and garland at work, long before I even consider unboxing those items at home.
I love the holiday season and all of its splendor...but I don’t love the imposed urgency that all of the holiday marketing creates within me.
For many years, I bought into the entire holiday frenzy.
I was strongly influenced and overwhelmed by the advertisements and displays.
I always felt I was behind the holiday eight ball...in my planning, my shopping, my decorating, my wrapping…
I allowed the outside ‘pressure’ to make me feel like I wasn’t living up to my holiday potential.
Then something happened...
A few years ago, our family’s financial situation took a sudden, dark turn in early November. We found ourselves in a new and very scary place just as the holiday marketing madness started.
I had no choice but to take a step back.
I knew I would not be ‘buying’ into the holiday purchasing frenzy that year. I simply couldn’t afford it.
Lots of deep breaths and hot tears later, I realized something simple yet profound…
It is the marketer’s job to make me feel the Christmas crazies! They benefit (mightily) from inducing a purchasing panic in shoppers as the season approaches.
There’s a human psychology at play that I’d been missing for years. The role of the retailers and advertisers is to make us truly believe that we need it all!
We must shop earlier and later.
We must buy sooner and more.
We must decorate until we don’t even recognize our own homes.
Well, the truth is...we really don’t have to do any of that.
During that financially frightening time, I learned a lot.
I discovered that I can do the holidays my way. I don’t have to follow the masses or keep up with the Jones’.
Some years, Christmas is sparse and minimal and others it’s more plentiful. But it can always be abundant.
I now realize that I more fully enjoy the holiday season when I don't become caught up in all the trappings.
Want to experience a calmer, more authentic holiday season?
1. Schedule at least one date with a friend. It’s easy to say you're too busy during the weeks leading up to the holidays...but you control that busyness. Spend an hour or two with a friend who feeds your soul. It might be the best gift you receive all season.
2. Don’t accept every invitation. Just because someone wants you at their gathering doesn’t mean you have to go. Say a gracious ‘no’ to the invites that just don’t fit onto your calendar...or into your heart.
3. Choose the things you really love about the holidays and deep dive into those. For instance, I love to wrap presents. I now schedule and carefully guard the time I spend wrapping gifts. The act is soothing and peaceful for me. I don’t like Christmas cookies, so I stopped attending cookie exchanges and baking for the holidays. Two of my kids enjoy baking and have happily taken on the task of creating seasonal desserts.
4. Share the love. ‘Tis the season for giving. Find ways, big or small, that you can give back or pay it forward. Carry a pouch full of change to drop in the Salvation Army bucket. Feed a parking meter to keep a fellow shopper from getting a ticket. Donate your time. Buy a small gift for a giving tree. Then, pause and really enjoy how awesome it feels to spread good cheer.
5. Spend wisely. In an effort to cut expenses and reduce waste, I’ve stopped sending Christmas cards. Now I share our family’s photographic cheer through email or social media. Saves money and the planet. Works for me.
6. Buy what they want. I love to shop for gifts and in the past have gotten carried away. I now stick to a wish list. In an effort to keep our home free of clutter, I’m careful not to buy things that are cute or fun, but not really wanted or needed by the recipient. I don’t feel the urge to fill up the space under the tree with more stuff. We spent a long time purging and tidying...I definitely don’t want to do that again!
7. Get clever. If there's something you can create that makes a wonderful gift, do it. Just be sure you are enjoying the process and the ‘making’ isn’t making you crazy. Or give an experience...lunch with a friend after the holidays, a walk in the snow, a movie date.
8. Spend cash. I learned way too late how fabulous it feels to have a cash only holiday season. Go small. Stay intentional. There is something beautiful about a January free of credit card statements.
9. Decorate within your personal limits. I like a house that twinkles during the holidays. I love greenery. I rely on white lights and candles to create a festive glow and I always ask for a big pile of the discarded greens when we buy our Christmas tree. I use those pine clippings to craft a simple wreath for the front door and to line the mantel.
I don’t like to completely redecorate our home to make room for Christmas. So, I'm choosy about what I display. I've recently purged any holiday decor that didn’t spark joy. Now I enjoy a few amazing pieces that make me and my family really happy.
10. Take time to recharge. Whatever that looks like for you...make it happen. A bubble bath. A cup of tea in a cozy chair. A 30-minute break to read or nap. In this season that’s all about giving to others, be sure to give something to yourself.
I hope the start of this holiday season finds you calm and relaxed.
Don’t get lost in what doesn’t matter to you. Stay true to yourself and do the things that will truly bring you joy over the next six weeks.
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How do you stay chill throughout the frenzy?
What’s your best tip for finding peace during the holiday madness?
Please share what works for you!
Thanks so much for reading.
We are getting very close to 'the most wonderful time of the year'. Working in retail means that the holiday season arrives way ahead of schedule. Some years it seems to come too early, but this year, I'm ready! Our weather has been incredible. Still sunny and above 60 most days. Somehow that makes the darker afternoons and pending holiday madness easier for me to handle...and even embrace.
I’m overwhelmed by the incredible new merchandise arriving daily. If you aren’t aware, I am the Personal Stylist at Anthropologie in Boulder, Colorado. That's our window in the photo above. I'm thrilled to work for such a special retailer...especially in November and December.
Oh, the sparkle and shimmer of it all!
I wanted to share a few of my current favorites...please remember that anytime I post about a product, it’s because I truly love it! I'm not compensated for sharing and I'm not an affiliate for any retailer.
When I find something good, I want you to know about it.
Seems only fair:-)
Okay, here’s what I’m loving at Anthropologie...and this time I included an amazing item from Free People! (after all, they’re our sister-store)
I will definitely do another ‘faves’ post as the holiday season really gets underway...but for now these pieces top my list of must haves!
Decorative Tabletop Tree - small $34 /large $54
These trees arrived at our store yesterday. I knew I couldn't/shouldn't wait. I purchased the small one at the end of my shift. The branches are wire so you can arrange them as you like. It looks so real and so magical at the same time! These won't last long. I think this little tree is the perfect dose of holiday sparkle. I'm not sure where I'm going to display mine...but it'll be the highlight of the space. If you want one, don't delay too long. These will sell out!
Soft-Brushed Gingham Throw - $68 50"x70"
In my quest for bringing more luxury into my home, I've been paying more attention to textiles. I recently discovered this beauty. Wow! Incredibly soft and cozy...and well-priced. I'm considering a change in color scheme just so I can incorporate this throw into my home. A welcome gift for someone on your list. Or for you:-)
Winter Wonder Candle - $18 in Balsam and Cedar by Illume
Want to bring the smell of fir trees inside? This is your candle. Oh, my! This is the best one I've found for capturing that wonderful, icy cold pine fragrance. I haven't purchased this one yet. I'm trying to use up my fall scented candles first. I hope they burn fast...I'm ready for the next season of wax.
Boulangerie Jar Candle - $18 in Espresso
Staying with the candle category... I'm about to purchase my first espresso scented candle. I love coffee and the aroma of freshly ground or brewed coffee, but I've never burned this scent in my home. Well, that's about to change. Here's why...I recently had three different customers tell me that they burn this espresso candle and the cult favorite Capri Blue Volcano candle together! Apparently, the fragrances mingle and create a synergy of scents! As the Personal Stylist, I figure the least I can do is try it myself so I can better serve my customers;-)
Tied Camo Crops - $118 by Sanctuary
I recently purchased these pants. They are super comfortable and very flattering. The color is much more military green in person and they are not this cropped on a person who's 5'6''. My wardrobe needed these! I plan to keep wearing them right into winter with booties and maybe some cozy socks.
Glistened Skinny Scarf - $28
I just wore this scarf for the first time. I love it! So chic and simple. Great price. Perfect to spice up a simple top or sweater. Just the right amount of sparkle for the holidays and beyond.
Arctic Fox Sweater - $128 (this item is from Free People )
This sweater is crazy good! Several of my co-workers own it in more than one color. It's soft, slouchy and sexy in all the best ways. Awesome zipper detail in the back. I don't think the photos do it justice. I prefer the dark gray (black) or the pink...but all four shades are beautiful. The moss green is much prettier in person...and much greener).
I hope this list of my favorites brightened your day.
Remember, it's the job of the retail industry to try and work you into a holiday panic...don't fall for it!
Relax and enjoy the season. No need to feel frenzied. It's all good!
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Today’s post is bittersweet. I’m thrilled to be wrapping up the Write 31 Days challenge for the third year in a row, but I know I’ll miss the time dedicated to exploring words that are important to me. While I know that I've accomplished something, I also know that the real work is ahead of me. I’ve stirred up all sorts of internal stuff and the end of this challenge means it’s officially time to refine my life for the next decade.
I really enjoyed this year’s topic. Though I was unsure at the start, Simply 50 - refining life for the next decade was absolutely the right subject. I learned quite a bit about myself and what matters at this current place in my life.
As I look back over the past 30 posts, I can feel how powerful this project was for me. I hope it was for you, also. While I certainly would never presume that my words could change you, I fully believe that you can change you.
If you want something in your life to be different
...recognize that you have the power to change it.
Whatever it is...big or small...there is a way to refine your life for the better. We are never too old to learn something new or modify our methods.
On our kitchen counter we have a day-at-a-time Zen calendar. We’ve been enjoying these Zen calendars for about 12 years. Our home wouldn’t be complete without this small, square teacher facing us each day.
Most days this little calendar offers immense wisdom on its disposable pages. Today is no exception.
"I am afraid. Not of life, or death or nothingness, but of wasting it as if I had never been."
That’s it. That’s exactly where I am.
As the years continue to move past...not a single second to be reclaimed...
I am scared of wasting time.
I truly believe my life matters. So does yours. We are here to contribute something great.
Most of us hold back, fearful of shining too bright. I've done this for years. Well, I've reached the point where my fear has shifted. I'm now afraid I won't shine bright enough.
This four-week journey has taught me many things. None more important than this… I want more. More of the things that truly matter.
More out of my life.
For the next nine years and beyond, my soul will be searching...committed to seeking joy and offering compassion. As I look back over the list of words that I selected for this challenge, I realize I have some work to do. Several aspects of my life have been neglected for far too long.
A few words stand out as the best place to start. These words cover a lot of ground and they'll be my launch pad for a decade of refining.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. It’s my sincere hope that you've found some truth in this month of words. I appreciate all of the comments you offered when a post really resonated. I love knowing that we are all in this together. The human journey is a shared one. The more we connect with one another, the more powerful and complete the experience.
I honestly welcome your thoughts about this year’s write 31 days.
What did you like? What do you wish I’d done differently?
Are there things you’re hoping to refine in your own life?
Moving forward, I'm open to what you’d like me to explore in future posts. I’m delighted when someone asks me to write about a specific subject. My desire is to create a community where we can feel comfortable learning from each other, growing and improving in the process.
I'll leave you with this...
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver
That’s all for this year’s Write 31 Days. I’ll miss you all tomorrow morning.
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I’ve reached the end of the alphabet and almost the end of this year's Write 31 Days challenge. Tomorrow is the final day. It’s been an interesting month of digging deep and feeling all the feels. Today’s word is ZEAL - great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. This word was the ideal choice the letter Z.
I’ve often heard the saying, “How we do anything is how we do everything”.
Well, I want to live my life with zeal.
I want to feel a surge of energy for the big things and the little things.
I want to approach my days with excitement and a passion for making each day the best it can possibly be.
Challenges that seem too big to overcome and pitfalls that make it hard to stay positive are losing their power over me.
I am completely committed to the work of staying present and focused on the Now.
I believe that enthusiasm breeds more enthusiasm. If someone is super keen on something, that vibe is infectious. Others crave a taste of that powerful, positive energy and their zeal increases!
I’m going to print out a list of all of the words I chose to write about this month.
I plan to hang it where I can see it several times a day.
My hope is that the clear messages I’ve heard as I’ve written each post will begin to manifest in my life.
Here's the list, if you'd like it...
3. Be you
16. Meditation & Morning Pages
21. Refine, Rest, Right, Romance
27. Wisdom & Wonder
My sincere gratitude for your support as I’ve explored Simply 50 - refining life for the next decade. Thank you for reading.
See you tomorrow for the final Write 31 Days post.
After the challenge, my blog will resume its normally scheduled programming:-) That is to say, I’ll be posting once a week on style, wardrobes, simplicity, organizing, living in the present and creating a beautiful life!
I'd love to have you join me.
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Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,