My first born child will graduate from high school tomorrow. It’s been a week of sometimes dizzying emotions. Long to-do lists, party preparations, the rapid firing of a dozen school year's worth of memories, out-of-town guests and the knowledge that our family is about to experience a wonderful (but profound) occasion. One that ultimately sets in motion a slew of enormous changes.
A few months ago, I vowed to do everything in my power to stay as present as possible during the weeks and days leading up to this grand occasion. I decided that I was going to soak it all in.
Well, I’m here.
It’s the eleventh hour.
T minus one sleep and it’s time for her to walk. Milestones can be tricky. Milestones that involve our kids, often take our breath away.
The past has a way of sharpening the edges. Making things that much more acute. Flooded with mental images of our ‘little kids', we often feel paralyzed. Trapped in our thoughts. Unable to move forward because the future seems scary...or completely inconceivable because she was just heading to Kindergarten five minutes ago!
Something happened to me earlier this week.
I felt a shift.
Without any decision or forethought, I felt myself surrender.
verb. abandon oneself entirely to (a powerful emotion or influence); give in to.
I rarely use the word surrender. The last time I recall even considering the word ‘surrender’ was when my three children were small. I was smack in the middle of the full-on mothering years. Monotony was the norm. Repetitive tasks filled my days. I felt a bit resentful and overwhelmed.
I stumbled upon (or the Universe directed me to:-) a book titled Surrendering to Motherhood- Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul by Lois Krasnow.
This honest, 200 page read opened my eyes to the art of surrendering. Ms. Krasnow’s words hit home. I needed her message. It helped me yield to the demands of my busy life mothering three toddlers. In yielding, I discovered some contentment.
The act of surrendering is powerful. The relief that follows the ‘letting go’ is profound.
I’ve been overcome by an unexpected wave of peace this week. My heart and soul have decided to simply ride it out.
All the way.
Right through the heartstring-tugging sounds of Pomp and Circumstance, past the celebration of Greta’s exceptional K-12 career. . .and clear into next week when I’ll be that mom who can say, “My daughter just graduated from high school”.
The tsunami of emotions? I’m riding that out, too. Feeling all the feels.
In the past few days...I’ve quietly fallen apart talking with favorite Anthropologie clients and old neighbors. I’m sure if the deli counter guy asks ‘How’s it going this week?’, I’ll become a puddle. I'm very thankful for waterproof mascara.
But...and this surprises me a bit...it feels okay (even good) to feel it all.
I guess I always thought of surrender as a sign of weakness. I usually opt to dig in my heels and fight. Often I'm merely fighting myself by resisting what is. Holding on too long to an idea or a thought or a way of being.
I’m beginning to think that all the work I’ve done to be more present is actually paying off. I truly believe that this week’s unconscious surrendering is a beautiful byproduct of living more fully in the Now.
I didn’t choose to surrender, it just happened.
By yielding to all of the feelings, emotions and memories that accompany this big life event, I’m finding real joy.
I am incredibly proud of Greta.
I’m excited for the Now when her name is called and she walks to receive her high school diploma.
I will be 100% present.
Surrendered fully to the moment and the milestone.
Happy Weekend, folks. If you see a woman in the grocery store today who looks like she’s been testing her waterproof mascara, whisper a wish of surrender...she might be needing it.
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Thank you for following along.
P.S. I’ve been randomly listening to Pomp and Circumstance on my phone since before Greta’s sixth grade graduation. My hopes? That by the time she graduated from high school, I’d be immune to its triumphant sound and not fall apart during the first few measures. No such luck. It’s playing in my office as I type these words. Blubbering mess:-)
Deciding what you want and naming it is often considered the first step to success. I'm not so good at this. Setting personal intentions is tough for me. Before the yoga class is over, I've often lost sight of the intention I set during the first mountain pose.
Goal setting? My skills are poor. As I’ve mentioned, I’m still working to actually identify my goals on a regular basis so that I have something concrete to work towards. I've always been kind of soft in this area. I think my subconscious reasoning was that if I don't set a goal then I haven't really failed if I don't achieve it. The reality is that I'd have a much greater chance for success if I had an actual plan. A vision.
I see this now.
I'm intrigued by the current trend to pick a word at the start of the new year and then hold that word as a reminder and compass for the following 365 days. This practice makes some sense to me. I rather like the idea of having a word to guide my actions and decisions during a specific time period.
A touchstone of sorts.
I'm pretty good with challenges. Especially those having clear directions and manageable time parameters.
So, I’ve decided to dive in and try it.
Knowing my limits, I’m starting with one month.
I’m naming my intentions for the month of May.
I’ve chosen four words...
and yes, that might be too many, but I’m going all in!
The fifth month of 2017 is a big one for my family. Peter will turn 16. Greta will graduate from high school. We'll have two permitted drivers. Henry will finish his freshman year.
Lots of wonderful milestones to celebrate!
And lots of very busy days.
My four words for the month of May...
Memories- I’m expecting May to be filled with lots of emotions. I want to feel them all. The memories of my teenagers as little kids come to mind quickly now. I’m feeling all the feels of having my first child on the cusp of adulthood...with the other two right on her heels. I want to get a bit lost in the sweet memories of them as children. I want to cherish how far they’ve come.
And, I want to make wonderful memories as we celebrate the incredible ‘big kids’ they’ve are now. I plan to enjoy the time we'll spend with family and friends. Soaking in the joy and being present every possible minute.
Meditation- Intellectually, I’m an excellent meditator. In actuality, my practice is spotty. I’d like that to change. I’m committed to sitting on my cushion every day. Some days it might only be for two minutes, but I’ve learned that once I begin sitting...sitting regularly becomes much easier.
So, I’ll sit. No excuses. Just my butt on the cushion and my breath flowing.
Simple...right? Not so much, but I know that the benefits are worth the difficulty of trying to fit meditation into my days. My mind is noticeably calmer when I meditate regularly...and currently, I need that more than ever:-)
Manifesting- I think maybe it's the pending tuition payments, but I need an attitude adjustment. I’ve been stuck in a mindset of lack. I’ve spent too much time worrying about money and feeling like there’s never enough. I realize that I control what I think about...and I attract more of what I think about...it’s time to shift my thinking.
Abundance is everywhere....just take a peek outside. Countless leaves and flowers, and blades of grass. Plenty of air and sky and earth. I’ll be focusing on that and I will begin to attract exactly what I need.
Marriage- On May 18th, Matthew and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage. That’s a long time. I’m super proud of our happy marriage. We've worked hard over the past two decades to keep our love real and fresh and strong.
Matthew recently started a new job. He’s in charge of a cool new wine brand called St. Mayhem. His new role is challenging and exciting and time consuming. He's busy. Over the years, we've noticed that when one of us has a very full plate, our connection can sometimes suffer.
In May, I'll look for ways to improve our marriage and keep us steady even when life feels almost too full. Instead of being frustrated by Matthew's longer workdays and increased travel, I'll choose gratitude. I’m very thankful for his enormous contribution to our family...so I will work to welcome the mayhem.
Sometimes we both need to be reminded of what makes us so good together. Our anniversary month is the perfect time to reflect on our past and plan for our future.
Seems like I have my work cut out for me during the 31 days of May.
I like a challenge and I always work better with an outline...
Mmm, then maybe I should start setting goals and intentions more often, huh?
One step at a time.
What will you commit to for the month of May?
Will you pick a word or four? Which ones feel right to you?
I so enjoy reading your comments. You inspire me! I learn from your challenges and solutions. Thank you for sharing.
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Please help! Any tips for making it through your child’s high school graduation? I’ve been listening to Pomp and Circumstance for months trying to prepare myself and still can’t get through it without weeping:-)
Thanks for following along.
Photos by the amazing Teresa Nora Trobbe. You can find her at Fotos by T. She's also responsible for making me feel sexy.
If you have littles...
Believe what 'they' say. It all goes incredibly fast! One day you'll find yourself here.
Sitting on the far edge of your baby's childhood.
The days are long, but the years are indeed very short.
Try not to miss too much by tending to the stuff that doesn't matter:-)
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!
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Have an amazing day!
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 email@example.com
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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!
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.
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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.
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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.
Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,