Welcome to the blog...
This space is all about seeking
EXCITED CHILLS and creating a
simple, authentic, beautiful life.
I do hope you'll stay a while!
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!
My first experience with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was in July of 2015. I read Marie Kondo’s book and immediately began purging and tidying every corner of our home. Her methods, clearly defined and simple to employ, made complete sense to me. She was definitely speaking my language (even though she really wasn’t since she speaks Japanese and I speak English:-). I enjoyed the process and loved the results.
Last weekend, my family and I decorated our home for the holidays. My oldest is a senior in high school, so we are all acutely aware that this might be our final holiday season with all five of us living under the same roof. My children requested that we go ‘all out’ with the decorating. Which for us is still fairly tame but, I felt the desire to oblige and make this December a little more special than years past.
So, we adopted an elfin spirit.
We carefully hung lights on the tree in our front yard...something we very rarely do.
We picked out a beautiful Fraser Fir tree, we dragged out all of the boxes marked 'Christmas' and began to decorate the tree and our home.
Then something interesting happened.
We realized that we have lots of ornaments and holiday stuff that we don’t really like.
You're probably wondering...
Didn't she KonMari her Christmas stuff?
Yes, I did go through our holiday boxes during my initial KonMari event. I purged quite a bit and the pieces I kept sparked joy at the time.
Yet, as we unwrapped the trinkets and treasures from our collection, each of us realized that some of the items don’t actually feel like us anymore.
Our family has changed and our aesthetic has changed. And that’s okay. We realized that we'd like to make some changes so that our holiday style feels more authentic.
I've decided to approach this holiday season with the KonMari principles in mind. Keeping the joy factor at the forefront as I shop and decorate.
How to apply the KonMari Method to decorating and gift-giving:
1. Does it spark joy?
Ask this vital question of everything in your holiday boxes. Take the time to really listen to the response you feel when you hold each piece. Holiday items are usually sentimental and only make an appearance once a year. We tend to settle for what we have because it’s a busy season and we just want to cross the decorating off of the list. This can result in a house full of decorations that don’t spark joy.
2. Create a vision.
Decide what you want your holiday decorating vibe to be. If all of your decorations are rustic country and you really like mid-century modern, it’s time to re-evaluate. Create a Pinterest board or tear images out of magazines. Find the look that represents your ideal holiday home. This helps to reveal what’s missing from your current collection.
In doing this myself, I realized two things were missing from our home: the glow of candles and twinkly lights and a warm neutral color pallette. In my mind, the holidays are sparkly and warm but in our home, the only lights were on the tree. And our holiday decorations were very traditional with lots of red and green. Those pieces seemed out of place in our relatively modern, natural home.
3. Buy one or two items that you absolutely love!
Make sure you are over the moon for anything new. Don’t settle. You can begin to build an amazing collection slowly and deliberately. This year, I added this incredible tree. I smile every time I glance at it. And, a dear friend recently shared her love of these candles. They are so incredible! My birthday is in a few weeks and I’m hoping for one or two of these:-)
If necessary, wait until the after-season sales when you can grab great holiday pieces at incredible prices.
4. Give the people what they want.
Will they really love it? Ask for a list. Don’t give junk. Don’t get lured into buying a bunch of little gifts that are essentially junk. More is not better. One desired item of good quality is much better than several low quality items.
Consider life after the holidays. Will your gift stand the test of time...or will it be purged because it doesn’t spark joy?
Sometimes I think my kids would love to have this or that...but when I really ponder the item, I usually realize that it’s not really what they truly want or need...it's just more stuff to buy, wrap, open and then store in our home.
5. Stick to a list and a budget.
Make a list before you shop and adhere to the list. Remember, it’s the job of the retailers and marketers to make you want (and think you need) everything! You don’t. Tune it all out.
And...pay cash. Super tight budget? Give experiences and time together. Bake something simple. Write a letter or a poem. Print a special photo and pop it into a dollar store frame. You’ll love January with no credit card bills.
Note: I’ve done Christmas on the smallest imaginable budget. I sold things and returned things in order to buy a few gifts for my children. It was the first year I spent only cash. What a relief to face January without the dread of credit card statements. It was a loooong time coming, but Christmas is a cash-only holiday for us now. If you'd like more info on how to make this happen, please email me directly:-)
4. All wrapped up
I love to wrap gifts. I love beautiful papers and ribbons and bows. In the past, I’ve been known to hoard all things gift wrap, but I’ve changed my ways. And I feel so much lighter without bins of unused gift wrap and gift boxes waiting for ‘someday’. I do keep a small shower caddy stocked with scissors, a few ribbons, a roll of tape and some white tissue paper. I buy wrapping paper as I need it and I request boxes when I make a gift purchase.
This season, only buy what you’ll use. In the KonMari Method, there's no storing what you might need ‘someday’. Start fresh each year.
I wish you a slow moving, joy-filled, wonderful month. Consider what matters most to you and schedule everything else around that:-)
I’m making an effort to spend more time with my family this season. I realize that next year will feel very different with my daughter away at university.
It’s incredibly true...
The days are long, but the years are fast.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be devoting time to creating new content for the blog, YouTube channel and The Together Act Academy. I’m very excited for the new year! I have some fun fresh ideas that I can't wait to share with you.
Something on your mind?
If you have a question, there's a good chance that someone else is wondering the same thing also.
So, ask away!
Topics you'd like me to explore? Please email me at email@example.com or comment below. I'd love to include your ideas in future posts.
Finally, thank you for being here. I am humbled and honored that you allow me into your inbox each week.
Take time to really be present this holiday season.
Seven months ago, my family and I moved. In many ways, when compared to our last move in July 2013, this recent move was uneventful and insignificant. I mean, we barely moved 2 miles. Nothing really changed except our four walls...same schools, same friends, same grocery store. And this time around I was wiser. After all, I’d used the Konmari Method in my entire home. I was prepared and organized like never before. Right? Well, maybe not so much:-)
If you’ve ever moved, you know that regardless of the distance...moving is an enormous endeavor!
It’s truly like a fairy-tale giant lifts up your house and dumps the entire contents out inside your new digs.
It’s not pretty. It’s not easy, but sometimes, it’s necessary.
We currently rent and our lease was up. The right house appeared at just the right time and we were excited for it to become our next home.
So, we began packing.
And packing some more.
In the end, the packing was way easier than with our move across the country. We had much less stuff this time around. The things being packed were items we truly loved and used. At least most of them:-)
Since we moved, I've received many requests to do a House Tour video. I kept putting it off for various reasons...we weren't settled, we were so busy, it wasn't properly decorated, everything wasn't super clean...the list goes on and on.
For months, I've been working on something I'm really excited about. I'll share more info next week... but in order to work on the project, I needed more space on my phone. As I deleted photos and videos, I came across the moving clips and decided it's finally time to share them and a house video, too. Thanks for your patience.
As I walked though our home with my camera, I felt relieved that I own less stuff than I have in the past. I also became inspired to make some changes based on what I've learned over the past 7 months.
Here’s where I am today...
I still keep too much.
I can now see the areas where I continue to save things “for later” or “just in case”. There is such clarity in hindsight. When I watch the moving video below, I’m reminded how far I’ve come. And I also know I’m not finished yet.
My journey towards simplification and a more minimal lifestyle has been evolving for years. It’s only in looking back that I realize I’ve actually made great strides in paring down and eliminating.
Most importantly, I realize that I am truly happier when I have less stuff.
My life feels richer and more full when I have less clutter, less mess and less stuff.
I couldn’t find peace in the midst of all the junk!
Now my mind is more relaxed and I am finally able to feel real joy.
All of this sounds trite and cliche even as I type it...but it is the absolute truth.
Note: I think these videos feel kind of long with no talking. Apologies. My top video guy wasn't available;-( and I was left to my own editing abilities...which are poor:-)
Hoping you find some inspiration from them!
The light bulb is on!
I finally understand what all of the minimalism and simplicity pioneers were so excited about! There is an indescribable delight and a true peace that comes from intentionally surrounding yourself with fewer belongings.
Keeping up with your neighbors isn't easy...
and it certainly isn't healthy or necessary!
I’m aware that it's early in my journey. I have lots to learn about living with less, but I am so ready.
I plan to explore the beauty of living with less right here. I really hope you’ll join me.
If you don’t already receive weekly updates...now’s the time!
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The season is officially about to change. Autumn is just around the corner. Is your wardrobe ready? I have a plan….stay tuned.
I’m going to be sharing some big news in a few days.
I’d love to hear how you create a simple life. I believe we can all learn from each other. Please share below…
It’s August. I’m realizing that my ‘month off’ is officially over! A slight panic is setting in as I look back on the past 31 days trying to recap what I’ve really accomplished. I understand that the goal of taking some time off should be actual time off, but I had high hopes of really making headway with some projects...and I’m not sure how well I did.
In case you missed my last post, I stepped away from my blog and YouTube channel in order to really explore the idea of bringing vacation home. After incredible trips in both May and June, I was feeling frustrated by how different real life feels in comparison to vacation life. I set out to better understand why...and carefully consider what I could do to capture even a touch of that vibe at home.
Let me just mention...
I was incredibly foolish for thinking that this exploration was going to be finished in one month!
(I guess I failed to think it through completely:) I now realize this work is going to require more of my time than just four weeks.
If I am truly going to create home life that incorporates all the feels of a getaway, then I’ve only just begun.
Honestly, this irritates me a bit because I prefer a one time fix for my issues:-)
Absurd, really. I know. I’m working on becoming a girl who just goes with the flow of the journey and embraces the lessons learned along the way. I’m not quite there yet.
So, over the past 31 days, I’ve started to dig deeper into the why’s and how to’s of a vacation life at home and I’ve begun to see some patterns. I’m currently creating a format to help me stay on track with easy living in my everyday life.
There are several categories that I'm exploring more fully with regards to bringing vacation home. I'll be sure to keep you posted on my findings...
But for now, my short, simple discovery is this...
I believe there are two main components of vacation days that make them feel really special. Better than most regular days...
1. Living in the now-
The beauty of being away on a vacation is that we usually exist completely in the present moment. We have left our worries at home and are basking in the joy of now. We're more mindful of the little miracles and thrills that often are lost in the bustle of everyday life. We stay more focused on what's right in front of us.
2. Being thankful-
Vacation usually comes with a sense of gratitude. We are thankful for the gift of time away. In tune with our good fortune for being able to set aside our regular tasks and enjoy a slower pace. It’s decadent and feels luxurious to relax our schedules and expectations...and spend time with people we love.
Lately, so many of the women I meet (virtually or face-to-face) share a deep desire to simplify their lives in order to live more joyfully. What’s incredible to me is that we all want this shift so badly and yet we struggle so much to obtain it.
It’s a universal yearning that continues to elude us. Ironically, the act of creating a simple life doesn’t seem so simple.
In the past, I’ve been asked to run seminars, teach courses, write articles and speak to women about how to create simple, beautiful, functional wardrobes. Instead of choosing to work with larger groups, I’ve mainly focused on helping women individually.
I’m beginning to realize that I’m a bit behind in my thinking. The modern world obtains information, solves problems and learns new skills...online.
And women want lives that are simple, beautiful and functional...beyond their closets.
So… I’ve been working on a project that will allow me to connect with more women than my one-on-one, in-person sessions. I’ve decided that I’d really like to work with women all over the world who may be struggling with the same issues I’m committed to fixing.
I'm in the process of creating The Together Act Academy- an online school- designed to help women get their act together… one manageable, realistic lesson at a time. I'm extremely excited to be taking this next step...
I will share more in the coming weeks:-)
If there are topics you'd like me to cover, please just ask. I'm happy to customize the courses to include exactly what you need.
There's lots ahead! Don't miss a single update!
Thank you so much for being here and following along. It means the world to me.
I’m about to embark on a personal experiment. I’m optimistic that by doing so, I can truly change my life (and yours) in some important and meaningful ways. I just returned from a 15 day vacation. The only other time I’ve been away that long was on my honeymoon...20 years ago! 15 days is a long time to be out of my home and away from my regular life. Spending that time away really opened my eyes to the areas of my life that need some revision!
For the last five or six years, I’ve been paying closer attention to how I feel when I travel. And how I feel when I return home. Unsurprisingly, I’ve discovered that I like the simplified life that traveling creates.
I realize now that I really struggle upon re-entry because I crave that same simplicity in my regular life.
After a getaway, I’m super eager to make changes. I want to streamline and minimize in an attempt to capture that vacation feeling at home...but I quickly slip back into the daily grind and sadly, that vacation vibe fades into the background.
With my usual routine on pause for over two weeks...
I really pondered the possibility of bringing vacation home.
I explored and considered...
What are the real differences between my home life and my vacation life?
If I’m absolutely committed, can I bring some vacation practices home and make my regular life feel more like a getaway?!
I’ve felt a hint of this desire before...but embarrassingly, haven’t managed to actually make significant changes.
Maybe it’s the milestone birthday I had six months ago, but this time feels different.
I have the anxious excitement that comes from knowing you’re on to something!
Ideally, at the end of this experiment, I’ll be ready to help you live a ‘vacation life’ at home also! I’ll be able to guide you in tweaking systems and implementing new routines that will allow you to experience that relaxed getaway vibe within your daily life.
I know some folks will say that vacations are meant to feel different...that they are special because they’re a complete shift from our normal, intense, hectic routines. I do agree...but I feel certain that a few changes could really reduce my stress level and create a more peaceful (vacation-like) life. And...I’m confident that I’ll still find traveling to be a fabulous diversion from my newly simplified, chilled-out home life:-)
My re-entry after travel used to be worse.
A little back story for anyone considering a move:
My husband and I spent years vacationing in places that fed our souls much more than our own town. We’d spend most of the year longing for a trip to a destination that provided a warmer climate and more sunshine.
When my kids were younger we traveled to California as a family several times. I love California and feel really, really good when I’m there. Back east at home, when we’d experience a day with abundant sunshine and temps in the 70s...I could feel my mood shift and my spirits lift. My kids would instantly notice the change and began calling me ‘California mom’ on those days.
Noticing our continued sense of wanderlust, my mother mentioned that we should consider finding a place to live that actually fed our souls. What a novel idea. This set in motion our family’s move across country three years ago.
I now live somewhere that I love. I’ve left behind the hazy, hot, humid summers and damp, cold, gray winters that made me so unhappy. I wake up to sunshine more than 300 days a year. I am in awe of my surroundings every time I leave my house.
So, my location feeds my soul, but I’m still yearning for that vacation feeling in my everyday life.
I find that I (and my family) like my ‘vacation self’ more than my home self. I need to find a way to let that girl shine more often!
The following ‘categories’ are part of our everyday lives. These are the areas where I notice the biggest difference between home and away…
Hair and beauty:
My normal routines for hair and makeup are fairly simple, but vacation simplifies things even further. I pack only what’s essential for the destination and daily events. Despite streamlining my products, I’ve never wished I’d packed more stuff. I return home to my bathroom drawers and often wonder why I have so many products...and I really don’t have that many products:-)
As I mentioned, my husband and kids like me better on vacation. This is probably fairly common...mom's more relaxed and therefore we all get along well! The little things aren't as bothersome. I'm a better listener. There are more hugs and kisses. I long for this same flow with the people I love once we're back home.
Travel usually means exposure to different foods. In new locations, it could be a wealth of exotic flavors and ingredients. At a family reunion, it might be familiar dishes prepared in unfamiliar ways. Regardless, vacations often make me more adventuresome with my food choices.
Yes, I should mention that I sometimes eat a bit too much on trips:-) I must admit that it’s kind of nice to ease up on the healthy stuff and have an extra helping of dessert! At home, I’m sure I’d benefit from the occasional dose of decadence.
Workouts are more fun on vacation. Maybe it’s the change of scenery or equipment...but I actually enjoy travel workouts. My home fitness routine can become tedious, making it hard to stay motivated.
I’m throwing this one in for those of you who are considering a move. My advice? If at all possible...do it! Living in a place that you truly love is an incredible feeling. I didn’t know how much difference this would make in my life until we moved 1700 miles west three years ago. Best decision ever.
If you aren’t happy where you currently live...start to research your options. Making a move is a huge endeavor...but the result can truly change your life for the better!
Less worry/ relaxing:
This is the golden ticket right here. Vacation allows us the opportunity to let go of the daily stress and recurring worries and just relax. I’m not exactly sure how this happens, but I know I want more of this feeling in my regular life.
Things move slower and the living becomes easier. I’m 'all in' for adopting this at home. I’ve known for years that slowing down would lead to a more fulfilling life...but I suck at implementing changes that would actually make it happen. It’s time. I’m done with the madness of feeling so busy all the time!
Shorter ‘to do’ list:
The freedom of vacation can be seen in my to do list. I don't even have a list when I travel...unless it's a list of fun stuff to fit into my schedule!
This is what vacation is all about! Having fun. It’s easy for me to have fun on vacation. It’s practically a requirement, right? I’m admittedly terrible at letting fun into my daily life.
There’s nothing like living out of a suitcase (even for a weekend) to remind me that creating great outfits doesn’t require lots of clothing. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe at home, but when traveling...I’m a capsule wardrobe master! I love to pack clothing for a trip...making sure that all the pieces work together makes me giddy! The ease of dressing from a capsule is liberating.
As you can see, I have a lot of work to do!
I’m going to take the next several weeks off and ‘get my act together’. I look forward to returning to this space ready to share my successes and my slip-ups. Thank you for allowing me to be flawed and human...I’m so glad you’re on this journey with me.
Don't miss the next update...sign up right here!
I’ll be posting on Instagram and Snapchat while I’m doing the work. Having you follow along there would help to keep me accountable:-)
Find me as togetheract in both spots.
Have an amazing July!
My summer makeup routine is fairly simple. I am not a ‘product’ person. I'm not often compelled to try every new ‘it’ item that hits the shelves. I’m slow to add a product to my line-up and when I do, it’s usually already a cult favorite. I’m certainly not an early adopter when it comes to cosmetics. As a result, this post might be old news to you. If so, please feel free to comment below with your favorites. I love to learn about what I'm missing!
If you're still with me and wondering what’s in my bag...
Check out my current faves!
1. Nars -The Multiple in Portofino or Orgasm
These blush sticks are incredible! This has been a constant in my bag for years! I’ve used several different shades, all are good. These two are my favorites! Blendable, long-lasting and so natural. Great for summer heat!
2. YSL- Touche Eclat highlighter (used as undereye concealer)
This product has a cult following, for sure. And with good reason. It brightens and lightens without being heavy. No creasing or caking. Again, this is a staple in my bag. I use shade 2.5...have the sales team help you pick your perfect color.
3. Laura Mercier- Caviar Eye Shadow Pencil - in Rosegold
I just tried this eye shadow for the first time on my recent trip to Mexico. It’s shimmery and glides on with ease. This stuff stays put forever...even without any lid prep product. All of the shades contain shimmer...they look very sparkly on the hand...much less so on the eyelid. I also tried Bobbi Brown’s version- Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick - thinking I wanted something more matte. In the end, I felt the shimmer of the Laura Mercier pencil was prettier on me...better for hiding lines and sagging:-)
4. L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara- in Black
I’ve always preferred mascaras from the drugstore. I feel there are many good quality, inexpensive brands available. Spending less on mascara allows me to spend more on my other cosmetics.
5. Stila- Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner
I’ve used this eyeliner for about a year. The color I wear is called Lionfish. It's dark brown with flecks of gold. I love it! It’s self-sharpening and stays put once it’s applied. Goes on in a clean line and can be worn as a liner or smudged for a softer look. Lots of incredible colors!
6. Laura Mercier- Tinted Moisturizer
This is another product I’ve been using for years! It’s the perfect consistency for sheer coverage. The shade I use is Blush. It contains sunscreen and doesn’t ever irritate my skin. When it’s really hot, I often I skip this product and just apply sunscreen before using the other products. Cleaner skin just seem to feel cooler.
I actually use all of these products year round, but they are especially great in the summer when warmer weather makes it more of a challenge to keep makeup on my face:-)
Don't miss a single summer update!
I know, I didn't mention a lip product. That's because I don't have one I really love right now. I'd welcome your suggestions. I like glosses and simple lipsticks...nothing that requires a mirror:-)
Please share what’s in your makeup bag!
Questions? Just ask firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm so glad you're following along. Huge thanks for being here!
I recently received an email from a reader. She openly and honestly shared that she feels she's being 'strangled by the clutter of the past'. At times in my life, I have felt the exact same way. I’ve been completely stuck in the clutter. Unable to move forward and utterly overwhelmed by all of my stuff! After a decade spent working in client’s homes and closets, I’ve come to realize that this is a very common issue...and an area where we could all use a bit of encouragement. I replied to the reader’s email privately, but wanted to share my thoughts here. I hope this post helps you let go of the stuff that might be holding you back.
The reader wrote about having 'strong sentimental attachments'. I understand! In the past, I struggled a lot with letting things go. I saved every ticket stub, dried any special flowers, held onto old favorite articles of clothing, clung to past issues of magazines. I kept anything that I felt sparked a memory that I feared I’d lose if I let go of the item.
Here's one of the most important things I've learned...
It's the first real round of purging that's the hardest.
I can honestly say that once I started parting with things, letting go became much easier.
Every single client I’ve worked with has felt same way. I regularly receive emails after helping a client with a closet cleanse. Each and every email contains thoughts like this...
”Now I’m motivated to attack my entire house!”
“I find myself decluttering a little each day, all over my house”
“I feel like I can breath again...I’m on a roll to get rid of the stuff”.
Note: If you feel you have a serious problem with hoarding, I strongly suggest you seek professional help. There are people trained to help hoarders learn to let go safely and begin to heal.
Moving has usually been my best catalyst for getting rid of stuff. In the packing process I’d realize that some items had been in boxes in our basement for years...never used or even opened. I knew letting some of those things go would make the move easier. When we moved across the country, I was fairly ruthless. I knew I'd be paying to move things I really didn't need and wasn't using. I carefully sorted and discarded and saved.
I honestly have never missed any of the things I let go.
Are you at the breaking point?
If you’ve had it with the clutter and you’re ready to begin a serious purge, I suggest purging like you're moving.
Donate or sell anything that still has use. Making a bit of cash from unused pieces is a nice trade-off for letting them go. I always use Craigslist for selling things. I've had only really great experiences.
Recycle or trash the rest.
Try to remember...
The memory is in your mind, not in your stuff.
I know a couple whose home was damaged in the terrible flooding in Boulder, Colorado in September of 2013. They were in the process of renovating their home. During the reno they were staying in a small apartment nearby and most of their belongings were being stored in the basement of their house. The flood filled the basement with muddy water.
Literally, it filled the basement. The contents of that space was completely ruined. Everything they considered sentimental, important, or valuable was gone.
This truly opened my eyes to the fact that our stuff really doesn't define us. These friends have since finished their home and are slowly collecting new treasures that spark joy for them.
Imagine losing everything and still being okay...still holding your special memories inside.
Realize that it’s really just ‘stuff’.
In my own experience, the process and aftermath of letting go of things I don't use or love...is so freeing that it's worth the risk of not having those items in my possession any longer.
I have never regretted letting something go. Anything I've needed again in the future has been easy (and inexpensive) to replace. I no longer save things 'just in case'. That's big for me.
I've discovered that 'just in case' rarely ever happens...and holding on to all the stuff simply clutters our minds and our homes while we are waiting for 'that day' to arrive.
If a big purge is just too scary, then I suggest that you start small.
Tackle one area of your home first...an area that's not sentimental. The rush from purging is awesome!
The space you create in your home from letting things go will open up incredible space in your mind and in your life.
And it feels amazing!
Here are my tips for letting go of specific types of clutter and stuff….
If you have several items that represent the same memory, save only one. Let the rest go.
I knew I was finished having babies, but the tiny clothing still made me happy and sentimental. I selected one favorite baby outfit for each of my three kids. The three outfits are hanging on small hangers in my laundry room. I smile every time I see them:-)
Take photos of items that you love. I had very fond memories of a few pieces of maternity clothing and some kid toys. I took photos of the items and then donated them...figuring someone else would love having them as much as I did.
Would you want someone to keep a gift they received from you if it didn’t bring them joy? Forget the guilt. Let it go. Give those gifts away...regift them or donate them. Someone else will enjoy having them...it doesn’t have to be you!
One episode of Antique Roadshow will have you saving every old thing under your roof. Unless you buy and sell antiques, plan to attend the Roadshow in the next six months or are moving to a new house where you’ll actually use all of those ‘saved’ pieces…get rid of the old stuff.
Like many young couples, early in our marriage, my husband and I couldn’t really afford to buy all new furniture. During this time we gladly and gratefully accepted any and all donations that came our way. We made the most of the gently used pieces and remained thankful for each item.
Years later, we took a look around our home and realized that our style wasn’t being reflected authentically. We didn’t feel joy from the pieces that surrounded us. We decided to let some things go. I put my first post on Craigslist...a hutch and sideboard that had belonged to my parents. I had a very strong sentimental attachment to the pieces, but the style wasn’t really ‘me’. The couple who purchased the pieces was thrilled with their find! I was happy the furniture had found a new home.
We began to list and sell everything that didn’t feel like us. Slowly we started to purchase furniture that fit our lifestyle, our taste and our budget.
What a difference it makes to dwell with items we truly love!
If one is good, more must be better! Not so. Decide how many of something you actually need. Build in a tiny cushion of ‘what if’ and let the rest go. For a while I had a very large collection of Ball mason jars that we used for drinking glasses. I envisioned hosting a huge party and all of the guests drinking out of these jars. Reality is...I’m not currently hosting big events and storing the jars was stressing me out. I saved enough for my family plus a few extras for company. Plenty.
Being 'strangled by the clutter of the past' is such a true (and sad) statement. It's probably time for you to let the excess go!
I really believe that you will feel much lighter and happier without all of the extra stuff! Clutter creates stress every single day!
Best of luck with the process. Be gentle with yourself.
It took years to accumulate all of the stuff.
Change takes time...
Please feel free to reach out with comments, questions or suggestions. Let's be sure to recognize that we all have our own issues, each journey is unique and being supportive of one another can really go a long way.
Thanks for being here.
I think I’ve finally reached the end of an era. Over the past 11 months, something miraculous has happened at my house. I didn’t notice this interesting change until I stepped into the storage area in our basement recently. There I discovered an enormous pile of unused storage containers. This pile contains baskets and bin, boxes and tubs. They are made of plastic or wicker, metal or cardboard. These catch-alls are varied in size and in color...and what makes them so remarkable is that they are all EMPTY!
Now, let me backtrack a bit. I have always had a thing for containers. They have lured me and wooed me at all stages of my life.
College dorm room? How many milk crates can a girl have?
First house? I don’t even know where to start, I need every container I see!
Baby’s nursery? Oh, I can’t even! Those precious containers for all that sweet baby stuff!
Playrooms? Pantries? Need bins? Yes, please!
Just typing about containers is making me smile:-)
I love to create systems and design storage plans. I can find a clever use for a container of any size or shape. I love building shelves and filling them with bins! I love my label maker.
In general, I'm a very organized person...but I fell into the extremely common trap of organizing my clutter instead of removing it from my life!
It took me way too long to realize this simple fact. Like decades too long.
But, instead of beating myself up about it...I’m just thankful to have finally arrived in this new place. I am truly a new girl when it comes to containers and stuff.
I must give credit where credit is due…
All of my neglected containers would still be full of stuff and I probably would have purchased lots of new containers, as well...if not for Marie Kondo’s amazing little book- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
It’s been almost a year since I first read this book and implemented some major changes in the way I tidy and store things. More importantly, I’ve changed what I keep.
If you’ve read the book then you know that Ms. Kondo’s key message is ‘Does it spark joy?’.
Last year, my kids and I spent a few weeks KonMari’ing our house. As a result of decluttering our home and getting rid of all things that don’t spark joy, I was left with a whole lot of empty containers. I didn’t really imagine that they would remain empty for an entire year!
I saved them because I was certain we would need them in the near future. I broke the rule and saved them ‘just in case’.
Don’t buy more containers as a way to organize your life.
Purge your stuff and you’ll definitely need fewer containers. It you have less stuff there won’t be as much to put somewhere. This step is where the magic happens. This is why Kondo’s tidying methods work so well. If you don’t have stuff...it can’t be cluttering your life. I have a post about letting go of things...coming next week!
To start, use things you already have on hand- shoe boxes and their lids, empty shipping containers, empty lettuce boxes. If you find that you really want an attractive container, wait until you are sure you need it...then buy only what you need for a specific purpose. Do not buy every size and color just because you like the way they look. Maybe I’ve done that:-)
Location, location, location
Find a place for the stuff you keep- everything should have a home. Everything. Nothing in your house should be without a definite holding place. This might sound extreme, but I promise, it's beyond liberating to know where every single thing belongs. Super helpful for families...this plan removes the vague notion that a space is cleaned up...it’s cleaned up when everything is put away where it belongs. Maybe we've had an issue with this at my house:-)
I am planning to revisit the KonMari Method this summer. There are a few areas in my home that could use a tune-up...and some areas that I never really mastered. Quite possibly the Paper Category:-O
I look forward to sharing my struggles and triumphs surrounding clutter and organization with you.
Want to follow along? Weekly updates are the way to go!
Also on Instagram...@togetheract and Snapchat - togetheract.
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It’s that time of year in the northern hemisphere…people are gearing up for summer vacations! I always find heading out of town to be super exciting! However, packing for a getaway is sometimes super stressful! I’m often asked how to make the task of packing less daunting. I’m happy to assist! I LOVE packing for a trip. Love it! I have been lucky enough to travel quite often in my adult life. As a result, I’ve fine-tuned my packing style to reduce stress and have me ready for ‘wheels up’ in no time!
Soon, I'll be heading out of town for two weeks. I’ll be in New York City, Pennsylvania and Virginia Beach. Want to follow along on my travels?
I'd love that!
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Okay, here are my top tips to make packing easier and more efficient...
It all starts with the proper bag. If you have a great bag that fits your needs, that’s half the battle. I like a rolling, carry-on-sized, soft suitcase.
There are lots of other options; duffle bags, hard-shell suitcases, garment bags, larger check-only pieces...but I’ve learned that those don’t work best for me.
If you’d like to know more about the other choices, I’d suggest that you ask someone you know who travels often, talk to the salesperson in your local travel store and read travel blogs for ‘expert’ opinions.
I use a Travel Pro suitcase. I purchased it at a luggage store in Exton, Pennsylvania about 6 years ago. It cost around $130....probably the best money I've ever spent on travel supplies! It is light when empty, well-made, durable and holds what I need.
I’ve recently discovered that there’s a Travel Pro Outlet website. Also check your local travel store or even Home Goods, Marshalls and TJ Maxx, as I've seen the brand there.
A small detour in this post:
I've been shopping for a new suitcase. Wow, they are expensive! My daughter is heading off to an internship and she'll need to transport more stuff than she takes for a typical vacation. I wanted to find a larger suitcase that she can check through to her destination. I didn't want to spend $15o+
Yesterday, I stopped at my local Salvation Army store after work to see if they had any decent suitcases.
The universe had my back...I scored a Delsey rolling garment bag for...
$14.99. This bag looks brand new! No odor, no wear, no stains. It's perfect for our needs right now. Don't underestimate the treasures that can be found at resale shops:-)
Okay, back to the real post...
Here are my tips for selecting a carry-on suitcase-
1. Make sure it fits in overhead compartments - The correct size bag allowable as carry-on luggage is usually labeled as ‘suitable for carry-on’ and ‘FAA approved’.
2. Pick one with 'spinner' wheels - This might be my top tip! These bags have four wheels instead of two. They are much easier to manage and they don’t seem to tip over as easily. My back and neck tend to strain when I pull a suitcase behind me...spinner bags can be pushed upright at your side. Game-changer.
3. Bag Basics-
Select a bag with some pockets and compartments, but not too many.
I like a big, flat zippered pocket on the outside to hold magazines and flat shoes/sandals and a few compartments/pockets inside- I tuck jewelry pouches and a lint roller into these small pockets.
An expansion zipper to make the bag larger for when you return home with some extra items and need more room:-)
A sturdy, easily collapsible handle.
A bag that's lightweight when empty, so you aren't carrying any unnecessary weight.
And...I like a color other than black so my bag is easy for me to recognize.
Also...carrying your luggage onto the plane makes it last much longer because it isn't being bashed around with all the other bags.
What’s inside -
Divide and Conquer
Use packing cubes! They are incredible and...if you happen to be a container junkie like me...they actually make packing fun. The ones I use are from Ikea. They are called Upptacka. A set of 4 different sizes is about $9. You can buy them other places, but for the price, Ikea's are the best quality I've seen. Marshall's and TJ Maxx also have cubes at a decent price. I’ve found that Target and travels stores tend to be a bit more expensive.
Packing cubes make it easy to organize your clothing. I use one for undergarments/swimwear/socks...one for t-shirts and tanks...one for scarves, sweaters, workout clothing, etc.
I often pack what I'll need the first night in one cube...that way, if I'm exhausted when I arrive at my destination, I have everything in one place.
Jewelry often comes in a soft pouch when purchased. Never turn down these little treasures! I love these pouches for packing jewelry for travel.
Create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. Keep in mind, in most cases you don't need to wear a completely different outfit every day. Plan to wear most pieces at least 2-3 times during your travels. I find that I rarely change my clothes as often as I think I will. Many days, I'm in the same basic outfit from breakfast through dinner.
Accessories- Scarves and inexpensive jewelry will make outfits more interesting.
Layers- Be sure to have proper coverage for visiting religious spots. A few extra layering pieces will make it easier to dress for sudden temperature changes.
Dark colors are more forgiving with drips and spills.
Quick dry fabrics- Pick socks and undies in fabrics that can be rinsed out in the sink, if necessary and will dry quickly.
Comfortable shoes! You shouldn't need more than three pairs of shoes. They take up a lot of room. Be sure all of the shoes you take are very comfortable for walking all day...even if they aren't the most stylish shoes you own:-) I pack my shoes in plastic grocery bags. I have flannel shoe bags, but I find they don’t slip into place as easily and they take up a bit more room.
My go-to summer travel shoes are white low-top Converse and a pair of simple, comfortable sandals in a neutral color. And...I always pack running shoes...a drag with a size 10 foot because running shoes take up a lot of room!
Space savers: Always fill your shoes- I stuff mine with socks, hair brushes, jewelry pouches. Place belts around the inside edge of your suitcase.
Want more tips? Check out this video and this post.
Coming soon! I'm going to give myself a KonMari Check-Up! It's been almost a year since we decluttered our home using Marie Kondo's methods...it's time to re-evaluate:-)
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Vacation time for you? Safe and happy travels! I’d love to know where you’re heading...and what tips make your trips easier. Please share!
Let me know if you have any questions- firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much for reading!
Do you feel inspired when you open the door to your closet? Not so much? If you don’t currently have the time or energy for a major overhaul, you can still do a few things to spruce it up right now. These 9 fixes are quick and simple. And maybe, these baby steps will motivate you to tackle a full-on closet cleanse very soon!
1. Go the right way- Put all hangers on the bar with the hooks going the same direction. This small step creates a more uniform look in just minutes.
2. Boutique it- Put all of your clothing on the hangers facing the same way. Think of your closet as your own stylish boutique. Streamlined and visually appealing. Fasten all buttons and zippers.
3. Like with like- Sort clothing into categories. Hang like items together...jackets, long-sleeved tops, short-sleeved tops, tank tops, pants, skirts, dresses, etc.
4. Color coordination- After you have like items together, arrange clothing within each categories from dark to light/heavy to delicate- Start at the left side of your first category (Let's say, tank tops) and put all dark colored clothing on that side…work through medium shades and end on the right with light hued pieces. Then move onto the next category (short-sleeved tops) and repeat. Working though each sleeve length and organizing by color will make getting dressed so much easier!
4. Texture trick- Dive deeper into each newly created color section and arrange clothing from heaviest to most delicate. Chunky pieces to the left of loosely knit cardigans. Flannel shirts before gauzy cotton blouses.
5. Straighten your shoes– So many times I see closets where the shoes are in a giant jumble on the floor. Struggling to find a ‘match’ is a daily chore that can be avoided. Arrange your shoes neatly, in pairs. Give some love to your seldom worn kicks…dust them off, even polish them, so they're ready to wear when it’s time.
6. Refold your sweaters and tees- Even in the best KonMari situations, your knits pile or bin will sometimes become a bit unkempt. Folding is an easy reset that brings order back instantly!
7. Lighten up- Install the brightest bulb your light fixture will take. If your closet has windows, wash them. Need more light? Add an extra lamp. More light makes the space feel larger and more appealing...and then creating outfits becomes possible because you can actually see what you own.
8. Clean up- Closets collect lots of dust and dust bunnies:-) Wipe off shelves, dressers and baseboards. Run the vacuum or broom sweep the floor.
9. Fresh air- Tuck an air freshener inside the space. I use perfume strips from magazines. No commitment to the fragrance and these provide just a hint of freshness. An unlit, scented candle will also offer a touch of fragrance.
Regardless of the size of your closet or wardrobe, tackling these steps will make your space more inviting.
Stand back and admire your efforts! SMILE and enjoy the process of selecting your next outfit. Well done!
I'm working on some cool stuff...
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