There are some parts of aging that bug me more than others. I accept the wrinkles. I’m learning not to cringe when I see the super saggy skin hanging off my face. Honestly. Where does that come from? Gross. I’m doing my part to keep my body firm and strong...I'm trying to understand that crepey skin is a reality at my age.
However, I’m having a tough time letting go of beautifully polished fingernails.
I’ve loved manicures since childhood. My paternal grandmother was the queen of home manicures. She applied fresh polish to her nails weekly (a frosty pink shade by Revlon) and taught me the delicate art of using three simple strokes to coat each nail.
I did my own nails for years...once even in a high school English class:-) Occasionally, I’d splurge on a professional manicure. Enjoying the pampering and perfection of having someone highly skilled perform this task for me.
Then along came that incredible development called Gel or Shellac polish. The stuff wears like iron! And the best part? Your nails are bone dry when you leave the salon. No more dinging the polish as you reach for your keys or wallet. Genius!
I loved my first gel manicure.
It was a Mother's Day gift. A mother-daughter manicure at a cool salon in West Hollywood while on vacation.
The polish was shiny and flawless for three weeks! Cooking, cleaning, gardening...nothing could mess up my nails!
I was hooked...
until it was time to remove the polish.
I wasn’t prepared for the struggle of getting the dang gel off my nails. Ten foil-tipped fingers drenched in acetone for 20-30 minutes. Ugh!
After that first gel manicure my nails were a wreck. My fingertips cracked. My nails were extremely weak. They split and they broke. All of them. Repeatedly. It was painful and unattractive.
Eventually, I nursed my nails back to better health.
The memory dimmed and I was once again lured by the long-lasting wear and stunning shine of a gel manicure. And each time I was very sorry once the polish came off.
It seems that my fingernails can no longer tolerate nail polish remover. Specifically, the quantity and exposure time needed to remove the gel.
The reality is that my nails are a disaster for months after a gel manicure.
I’ve actually made Greta promise to talk me out of it if I ever mention having another gel manicure!
It bums me out. I love manicured nails. I’m envious of women who always have meticulously painted nails. Fun colors that reflect their mood and the season.
However, as with many other things, I’m coming to terms with this change in my life.
My season for manicures seems to be over. With the exception of possibly my children's weddings, I think I’m finished with glossy coats of nail polish. (Thankfully, my toes are tough, so pedicures are still happening:)
If someone invents something as wonderful as gel that doesn’t require harsh chemicals for removal...I’ll certainly reconsider!
Until then, I’m doing what I can to keep my hands and nails looking healthy.
My tips for embracing healthy, natural nails...
Great lotion- my favorite (discovered when my fingertips kept cracking) O’Keeffe’s. This stuff is amazing. It actually heals the cracks and soothes dry skin. And it helps strengthen my fingernails. I’ve used the tub and the tube. Both rock! Available at most grocery stores and Target.
Vitamin E Oil- I use one that brushes on by Sally Hansen. I’ve started to apply this stuff religiously. It’s the only thing that seems to moisturize my very dry nails. Great for my cuticles also!
Short and clean- I keep my fingernails relatively short and square. This helps prevent breaking. I’m also a stickler for keeping my nails clean. No polish means that everything under the tip of my nails is visible. Yuck. A nail brush is my friend:-)
Rubber gloves- They might seem old-school, but my yellow dish-washing gloves are the best! The best trick is to slather lotion on your hands and nails before you don the gloves. Then do the dishes...the hot water + the lotion = a spa moisture treatment for your hands. And clean dishes, too! Win. Win.
Have something that works for keeping your hands and nails looking great? Please share!
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Just so you know, I won't be posting next week (and possibly the week after)...my kids have Spring Break and since it's the last one with everyone in high school, I'll be spending time with them!
Also, I'm working on something that I hope will be super helpful to you. It's been a long time coming. I can't wait to share more...very soon:-)
Have an amazing weekend!
As part of my Simply 50 challenge, I decided that I desperately wanted to welcome more luxury into my everyday life. I felt that at 50, I should stop waiting for ‘someday’, quit settling and begin incorporating beautiful things into my world.
Thankfully, I have a few close friends who are quite skilled in this area.
Though younger and obviously wiser, these women are embracing life luxuriously.
I’ve always been hesitant to buy the best. I’m a frugal shopper, often to a fault. I sometimes don’t follow my own professional advice and end up with the lesser version because I wanted to save a few bucks.
Intellectually, I know this method isn’t the smartest, but I still let the voice in my head (which says there isn’t ever enough money and therefore I can’t afford it) call the shots.
I made a conscious decision to change that outlook last fall.
I’m happy to report that I’ve added a little luxury and it feels incredible. Now, I realize that my idea of luxury might be very different from yours. Please know that while none of the items below were bank-breakers, I had to step out of my financial comfort zone to purchase each of them.
I’m worth it.
Here’s what I’ve added and why…
Pottery Barn Flickering Flameless Wax Pillar Candle-
A dear friend...truly an old-soul who oozes calm and warmth and wisdom….shared her love of these candles.
At first, I was scared of the price...the smallest and least expensive is $50. I hadn’t yet seem them in person, only on a video clip shared by my friend.
I had to admit, they had an amazing glow!
Then I ventured into Pottery Barn to take a look for myself. Honestly, I was mesmerized by the realistic flame. It flickers and dances and truly looks like a lit candle.
I decided to put one on my Christmas list. Figuring my husband and children would be happy to indulge my new desire for more luxury. Note: My husband has this idea down and has been patiently waiting for me to come around.
I received one for Christmas. I smile every single evening when it comes on (did I mention that these candles operate on timers?!). I couldn’t love this simple pillar candle more.
They are much, much better in your home in the evening than they appear online or even in the brightly lit store.
Full disclosure: in an effort to save money, I purchased a few other types of flameless candles. Bad plan. The other options pale in comparison.
The PB candle is superior in every way. Well worth the extra cash, even if you only buy one at a time and build your collection slowly. Because, let’s be honest...most folks can't afford to drop $250-$300 on 5 or 6 pillar candles in the name of luxury?
Next up on the luxury list…
Crate and Barrel Lino II Linen Sheets-
I’ve wanted a set of 100% linen sheets for years. I love the feel of linen. This timeless fabric brings to mind an era long past and at the same time, feels extremely modern. And expensive.
Yet, I reserved linen sheets as a luxury...for later.
Someday, I’d sleep on linen sheets.
A few months ago, when discussing everyday luxury with a friend, she mentioned that for her, such luxury came in the form of linen sheets. She spoke of them with such affection and enthusiasm.
I decided, maybe it was time for linen sheets.
I mentioned this to my husband. Luckily, he is a firm believer in living with luxury (not over-extended, credit-card debt causing luxury, but investing in quality whenever possible)....he said “I want linen sheets for Christmas”.
Over the next several weeks, he repeated this desire. Assuring me that a set of linen sheets was all he wanted for Christmas.
I took him at his word and began to search for our perfect starter set:-)
Crate and Barrel came through with the most beautiful creamy-white linen sheets (and now they’re on sale). We’ve been sleeping on since December 26th. They are truly divine!
Our bedroom has often been the most overlooked room in the house. I always wanted it to feel like a retreat, like a boutique hotel room. It finally does.
Rumpled and soft and sexy
And finally...a grown-up sound machine.
L'ectro Fan Sound Machine-
Everyone in my house sleeps with a sound machine. Before moving from our old house last February, my husband and I tossed ours. It was an inexpensive version that I purchased from Amazon and it had a very annoying repeat loop in every sound. It was just enough to keep us awake...waiting for the catch where the sound started over again.
At the new house we opted for a $20 box fan positioned in the corner of our bedroom. We turned the fan to face the wall during the cooler months and slept soundly to its whir.
Then I performed a mini-makeover on our master bedroom in January...prompted by the linen sheets:-) and I decided it was time to upgrade the sound machine and get rid of the box fan (after all, we have a ceiling fan to move the air).
Again, I searched Amazon. I was sure I could find a sound machine for $20 or so.
I found several, but they all played lots of other sounds besides white noise...I didn’t want crickets or rain or ocean waves...
I wanted the sound of a box fan without having to look at the ugly thing.
Enter ‘LectroFan. This little device is a game-changer. It’s small and mighty. Unlike the models that play nursery rhymes while projecting dancing sea creatures onto the ceiling (yes, one of my kids still has this one), the ‘LectroFan’s modern design is sleek and suitable for an adult room.
I hesitated (as I always do) to spend $50 on a somewhat unnecessary luxury.
But...then I read that in addition to looking great and having only fan and white noise options (20 total)...this fan works on an algorithm that prevents it from ever repeating! The sound is authentic and soothing. Sold.
Solid and well-made
Small and simple
Matthew has mentioned several times in the past month that he really likes it. Winning.
Are there upgrades to everyday items you’d like to try, but don’t because they seem like a huge splurge?
What’s your favorite luxury item?
How do you incorporate luxury into your everyday living?
I always enjoy your thoughts on the topics I explore here. Please share!
Thanks for following along. Questions? Just ask...email me at email@example.com or comment below.
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I'm motivated by the image above. When I look at the photo I feel inspired, calm and refreshed. This beautifully limited collection makes me want to build outfits! I long to feel that way about my own wardrobe,
Blegh! I’m having some issues with my clothes. Lately, when I look inside my closet, I’m bored with the contents. I’m not inspired by what I see.
I'll admit it...I’m in a style rut.
It’s a bit like the ‘shoemaker’s children having no shoes’. I’m aware of the irony that as a personal stylist, I should have an amazing wardrobe!
The truth is that I have some really great pieces. The problem is that I also have a lot of not so great pieces.
There’s too much mediocre and not enough fabulous!
This reality came to a head recently when a box arrived from Mr. Porter.
My husband has needed some new clothes for a while. He decided it was time to make it happen. For the record, Matthew has excellent taste. He’s a very smart shopper. He’s tall and lean (aka everything fits him). He shops almost exclusively online.
So, he spent one afternoon with his laptop, scanning the virtual world of men’s fashion. His go-to site is Mr. Porter (brother of the more expensive women's site, Net-A-Porte). He has consistent good luck with finding fantastic pieces at really good prices.
He shared a few pics with me and asked my opinion about a couple of items...then he placed an order.
Three days later, a box arrived...meticulously filled with black tissue packets, Matthew’s new wardrobe is here! Just. Like. That.
I was thrilled for him...what personal shopper wife doesn’t want her husband to look stylish and find super deals? However, I was also a little miffed.
Shopping truly is easier for men!
I became determined to find a way to mimic Matthew’s simple shopping style and make it work for me. Time to hunt instead of gather.
Here's my full closet confession...
So, there you have it...
This Personal Stylist needs to follow her own advice.
And I'm going to do just that...
I've scheduled some time to dig in and purge the unworn, unloved items from my closet. I'll be sure to document the task so I can share the project with you.
Then, I'll move onto the research phase and create a plan for my new (or probably just slightly modified) look.
I promise to keep you posted as I do the work needed to refresh my wardrobe.
And you know what? If I'm very still...I can hear the Capsule Wardrobe calling:-) Wonder how long I'm going to keep ignoring it.
How are you feeling about your wardrobe? Is it ready for the change of season?
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Questions? Just ask.
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Thank you for reading.
You're in for a treat! We have ourselves a guest blogger. For the first time, I've invited a talented and delightful online friend to contribute to my blog. Please allow me to introduce Tenaya Plowman Kolar, founder and CEO of TPK Feng Shui.
Tenaya and I met online last summer when she invited me to be part of her event, the Simplify Your Life Summit. We formed a quick bond and have been growing our online relationship ever since. I'm hoping one day we actually get to meet in person:-)
Pour your favorite beverage and settle in for a new voice, fresh wisdom and valuable insight...
How to simplify your closet & revolutionize your style
Now, I don’t know about you, but it took me a LONG time to find my own personal style. In fact, it took me so long, that I thought I was born without some sort of “style gene.”
Turns out… I just had way too much clothing in my closet.
Allow me to elaborate.
I am a Feng Shui & Design consultant. I help people create inspiring, rejuvenating spaces to live and work.
For 15 years I’ve studied Feng Shui (plus Interior Design, Space Planning, Architectural Drafting, Color and Space Psychology). At it’s core, Feng Shui is an ancient tradition that allows energy to flow into your space so that opportunity can come into your life. You can pinpoint an area of life where you struggle and shift your space in order to transform your life.
There are 3 ways your spaces can affect you:
This last piece has a greater influence on your life than most people care to realize.
Clutter--the stuff that doesn’t have a home, the stuff you don’t love or have the capacity to appreciate--can clog energy like nothing else.
Having studied Feng Shui my entire adult life, I was well aware of this fact and thought my own personal space was relatively pared down. After all, I had been organizing and culling for over a decade.
At that point in my career, two things happened,
First, I began consulting full time and I found that the majority of my clients--though they had beautiful homes full of treasures from around the world--had to deal with the elephant in the room (CLUTTER) before they could see transformation in their spaces and lives.
Thing is, a lot of folks want that quick cure (place a crystal over the toilet to draw up your abundance, place your desk in command to be more productive in your work). And those things will have some impact, but not the life-changing, eye-opening, ease-inspiring transformation that I wanted for my clients… without first opening up space and clearing stagnation.
Deal with your clutter and the ancient wisdom of Feng Shui comes to life. It becomes easy to change your space, to change your life.
The second thing that happened: a friend introduced me to Marie Kondo’s book: the life-changing magic of tidying up. And man-o-man was that life changing. Her directives to surround yourself with only those things that make you happy, and to listen to your joy to determine what to keep, are incredibly powerful.
I had been studying organization and purging techniques for years, and yet there I was, still frustrated at the amount I had to pick up after my family, spending more time than I wanted to dealing with my stuff (organizing it, fixing it, cleaning it, finding a home for it, getting rid of it, etc).
I immediately began my ‘once in a lifetime decluttering event’--using the KonMari method--and it was astounding the way in which it unclogged the energetic pipes in my home (and in my body).
Over the next 6 months, I went from believing my belongings were relatively paired down, to happily releasing dozens of bags of possessions that weighed me down, that had made the experience in my home much less enjoyable.
The energy available to me expanded and a steady stream of new opportunities came into my life.
Turns out, when you surround yourself with what you love, your life mirrors this and you are able to focus on doing the things that make you happy with the people that you love.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, she walks you through a specific order of categories (easier to more difficult), so that you can practice listening to what brings you joy, before you get to the things that have real emotional attachments like Mementos and Photographs. That means that you begin with: clothing.
Now, I’ve told you, style and fashion were never my thing. I wore clothes, but they were utilitarian; I didn’t love them. I had a hard time picking out an outfit every morning. I was a Feng Shui & Design consultant, but felt like I didn’t fit into the Interior Design world because I didn’t have enough style.
Because I didn’t place much import on my clothing, I didn’t think I had that much of it.
Turns out, when I pulled all the tops out of my closet and laid them on my bed (the first step in the KonMari method), I had to take photographs to document the enormity of the pile.
How did I own so many tops?
In that first round of going through my clothing, I found it hard to “hear” my joy, difficult to determine what to keep based solely on a feeling. My rational mind was on overdrive telling me all of the reasons it was wasteful to get rid of the clothing that didn’t make me feel good.
It’s funny thinking back to that time, because now, listening to my joy in order to determine whether something stays or goes, is second nature.
And let me tell you, my home has never been easier to maintain, more full of joy.
What is important in my life has never been so clear and easy to focus on.
The energy that comes into my life has never been so plentiful.
At the time, it was a struggle to get through the process with clothing. There was a lot of grey area--items I wasn’t ready to release even though they probably didn’t bring me joy.
But when I was through, my closet was like an entirely different room. I say “room” because all of a sudden there was actual space amid the clothing. I could see what remained and loved that each piece brought me joy.
Within a month, I was inspired to go through the process with my clothing again. This time it took me an hour rather than the many it had taken me the first time through. What brought me joy was so much clearer.
With this new found space, one of the opportunities that came my way, was a 3-day Wake Up Your Wardrobe closet challenge with none other than Kristen Cain of The Together Act!
It was perfect timing. I had space in my closet and existing wardrobe to identify a) the items I loved and b) the holes that existed.
With that added foundation, all of a sudden, getting dressed every morning was fun. I found that I loved my clothing. I was beginning to identify my own personal style, rather than trying lots of different styles on for size.
Every day became an occasion, a perfect reason to wear something that made me feel great. Friends started to ask where I was going looking so put together.
Turns out, you don’t need an occasion to wear what you love.
Not only did I now LOVE my clothing and my new-found style, but I found a consignment shop in town that was FUN to shop at.
Enjoying the process of filling in the gaps in my wardrobe was a new experience for me. Rather than buying things because I kinda liked them, I buy things that I love and because I know I have the need for that particular item.
Having this new found style sense of style not only made every morning more enjoyable, but it allowed me to feel more confident, more authentically me. Spaciousness in my closet--where only the clothing I loved remained--unlocked doors into greater awareness and ease within myself and my body.
I never undertook decluttering my closet as a way to revolutionize my style and build my confidence, but now that I’ve incorporated the KonMari technique into the work I do, I can say it has that effect on MANY.
Not only do I love my clothing (and own much less of it), but the space that opened in my closet allowed me to think about that space in a whole new light.
My closet went from fully utilitarian, to a space that I delight in opening up, that is an expression of me. I hang the artwork inside that my husband doesn’t enjoy, but that I love. It is a place that makes me smile. A bonus room.
I always encourage clients to find a place in their home that is just for them. This doesn’t have to be a full room; it can be an altar on a shelf, a wall in the kitchen, or the closet where you keep your clothing.
What can you do in your closet that will make you smile every morning? Listen to that intuition and make a change today!
Huge thanks to Tenaya for contributing today's post. I always love learning from others who are striving to simplify their lives and find more joy in the everyday.
Interested in learning more about the work Tenaya does?
Check out her free 3-day email course “Take Command of Your Space” to invite calm peace & order into your busy life TODAY!
Tenaya is the founder and CEO of TPK Feng Shui and Design. She is a Feng Shui & Design Consultant as well as a wife, mom, entrepreneur and space guru. With a background and training in Feng Shui, Interior Design, Architectural Drafting, Space Planning, Color & the Psychology of Space, she delights in discovering the design that unlocks the potential in your home. Visit her at www.tpkfengshui.com.
Weekly Updates are the best way to stay informed...lots of new stuff heading your way this spring!
Thank you for being here. Have a truly amazing week!
I miss playdates. When I was having my babies, two co-workers (now lifelong friends) were pregnant with me. Once we became stay-at-home moms, we’d get together regularly to keep each other sane in the middle of the crazy muddle.
In assembly-line style, we’d prepare, cut, plate and serve nine little lunches to our collective nine sweet children.
Then we’d talk...and talk…and talk. Until the wheels eventually fell off and we headed home to regroup before dinner.
Those days were full and exhausting, but so happy. I felt incredibly supported. I belonged to an amazing tribe.
I crave that uninterrupted girl time. Actually, it was constantly interrupted, but we’d just pause and pick right back up after finding a toy or wiping a nose.
The playdate was the perfect excuse to spend regular, quality time with my closest friends.
I want that again!
Authentic female friendships feed the soul.
My kids are teenagers. Playdates are over. Their time with friends requires no planning from me. I no longer have that built-in reason to get together with my friends.
Moving across the country three years ago has made it impossible to spend face-to-face time with the women I've known for decades.
Impromptu lunch dates at Terrain and annual birthday celebrations sadly aren’t possible given the distance between us.
Relocating to a new town is lonely and hard. As a mom of three, my priority was not on finding new friends for myself. Instead, I spent most of the first year making sure my children were happily settled into new friendships.
And, due to some personal circumstances, I built a wall that prevented new friendships from really developing. Not feeling secure enough to dive deeply into a new circle of friends, I stuck with breezy work friendships and polite connections with neighbors.
It's been three and a half years. I need a circle of friends.
I long for a welcoming group of women who enjoy one another enough to spend time together somewhat regularly.
So...I’ve decided to take action.
Recently, I devoted three afternoons -in the same week- to friendship.
I met two funny friends for an easy lunch and lots of laughter.
I drank the perfect tea in the newly renovated home of a special lady.
I shared a spicy take-out birthday lunch with a treasured soul.
Wow! My friendship cup was overflowing!
I smiled all week. My spirits were soaring. My mind quiet and peaceful.
I felt loved and inspired and truly blessed.
What took me so long?
Why haven't I made time to cultivate deeper friendships?
Lots of reasons, but what matters is that I’m determined to make friendship a priority.
I understand that my joy depends on it.
So, I’m taking matters into my own hands and starting a girls’ club.
A circle of wonderful women.
Playdates without the babies.
We all deserve some dedicated time to be enriched by the presence and energy of others.
No matter how busy we are, there must be at least one chunk of time every four-six weeks when we can meet up for an hour or two and just be. Together.
I’m ready to dig deeper with some amazing women and grow our friendships into something even more beautiful.
The invitations go out this week...I’m hoping for a whole lot of ‘I’ll be there’ responses:-)
How do you keep your friendships strong?
Have you made any new friends lately?
I'd love to know your thoughts on friendship. Thanks for following along.
You can sign up for Weekly Updates here.
Have an amazing day!
P.S. I foolishly thought the work of Simply 50 - refining life for the next decade was in the writing of the posts every day last October. I’m now realizing that the real work has just begun.
I’m currently trying to put into practice all of the changes and tweaks I wrote about in the challenge. Friendship was near the top of the list.
Each word/topic is close to my heart and something I strongly believe in...so I remain committed to making the changes...but, wow, it’s not as easy as I’d originally assumed.
Stay tuned for more refining...
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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Thank you so much for reading. Have an amazing day!
Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,