It’s official. We’re in a new season. In the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve just passed the longest day of the year. Summer has arrived. Depending on your circumstance, summer can mean three months of warm, lazy days and nights...or endless weeks of wrangling littles who are out of school.
Most moms with school-age children feel a bit of panic at the start of summer vacation. I’ve recently heard at least a dozen moms lament that having their kids home is really "kicking their butts"!
I get it.
As a mom of three, I’ve sometimes had a love/dislike (hate’s too strong a word for the season of sunshine:-) relationship with summer.
The dog days of this season can seem longer and hotter when the kids are home all day.
The end seems completely out of sight.
Until it isn’t.
I can see the end. At least I can glimpse it when my eyes aren’t full of tears.
This is my eighteenth summer as a mom.
The days of wondering what I’m going to do, plan, create, or invent to help keep my three children entertained are long gone.
If I find myself counting the minutes until nap-time, it will be for my own nap.
It’s highly possible that I’ll see less of my children in the coming weeks than I do during the school year.
But the absolute, knock-the-wind-out-of-me kicker...is that this year, at the end of these sun-drenched nine weeks... it will be time to pack up my oldest and send her off to college.
I’m no longer the mom who’s dreading summer because of how exhausting it is to have small children at home...all day...when you’ve grown accustomed to having a few hours to yourself.
I’ve crossed over to the other side of parenting.
The side where my kids are busy doing their own thing...and my first born's childhood is wrapping up.
And while almost all of me is completely good with it, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the sometimes crushing sadness I feel at this milestone.
I know this is exactly what should be happening now. I’ve worked really hard for 18 years to arrive at this point, but it sure changes how I feel about summer break.
I’ve always loved summer.
Sunshine and warm temperatures are the foundation of my happy place.
But when I look back over the past 18 summers, I recall lots of stuff I resisted…
smearing sunscreen on squirmy, sweaty little bodies,
too many errands with tired, crabby toddlers,
a bathtub 'swim' to cool them off when they looked like they might have heat stroke,
wiping sticky hands after a melty, messy Popsicle.
And sadly, I’m certain I said, "No" too often.
I’m more present now than I was back then. I pay attention better...possibly because my 'mom tasks' are fewer. We all have more time and more energy at this stage of the game.
But, August is coming fast. I can feel it waiting just up ahead.
My plan is to settle in. I’m going to soak up this summer. I’ll deep dive into all the feels of having Greta prepare for her next chapter.
And I'll begin preparing myself for mine.
After a bit of soul-searching, I've decided there are some things I could change to help make this summer more enjoyable and ultimately more memorable.
I’m committed to the following simple tweaks to bring added presence and joy to this fleeting season...
Really listen. Put down my phone and ignore my computer when my kids want my attention. Yes, I should already be doing this...but sometimes I don’t. This one simple shift and the season already feels better.
Eye contact. They deserve this. Always. Morning, noon and night, I love the sight of these people. They matter. Hopefully, this gesture helps to remind them of that important fact.
Hug more. I think sometimes I shy away from hugging my kids because their teenage bodies feel so big against mine. Their little kid selves are almost undetectable now that they’re tall and strong and capable...and some days that's crazy painful for me. Get over it, Kristen. Hugs those kids!
Laugh often. Have fun together time each week. Within the fullness of everyone's schedule, sometimes we forget to laugh. I’ve never been the ‘fun mom’, and while I can’t go back, I can bring more fun and silliness into Now.
Keep it fresh. I vow to do one new thing every week. Last week it was as simple as buying two boxes of packaged, frozen treats. Ice cream sandwiches and Dilly bars. So simple. My kids lit up with delight. This week, Greta and I took our first High Fitness class together!
Stay present. Aim for less internal and external freaking out about the future. Now is Now...all three of my kids are home this summer. I’m going to be here too.
Skin care. I'll apply sunscreen happily when asked. This will be my job for only a few more summers. I'm certain I'll actually miss it. Luckily, there are still some areas it’s easier for mom to reach...my pleasure.
Read and nap. This one's just for me. Self-care:-) I’m settling in to this new habit quite nicely. A few pages of a good book followed by 20 minutes of shut eye and I’m a new girl!
Be the driver. Willingly and with a smile. I have no licensed teenage drivers at my house. I’m okay with that. Two have permits and we’re quickly rounding the corner to a time when I won’t need to drive them anywhere.
Soak up the sun and all the rest of it.
Be here Now.
Do you find summer stressful or relaxing?
How do you stay present to enjoy the season?
Thanks for reading. I hope you're summer is off to an amazing start!
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My apologies for the video glitch. I'm re-posting this with a video that actually works.
As I unpacked my summer clothes a few weeks ago, I realized that I desperately needed a few fresh tops. My old favorites were starting to look a little sad. One of the beautiful things about tops for warmer weather is that they’re usually made from wonderful lightweight fabrics. The downside of those dreamy, delicate fabrics is that they don’t hold up to lots of wear and washing. Realistically, you might only get one solid season from a top before it starts to lose it's luster.
I wanted several new tees and tanks, but I didn't want to spend a ton of money. Determined to find some deals, I enlisted the help of a shopping partner...in this case it was my son Peter:-) and we hit the mall.
It was a bonus day in the world of top shopping!
I actually found too many styles I really loved. In the end, I narrowed my choices down to the eight best!
If you’d like to know where I buy my go-to, wear everywhere, affordable tees and tanks…
and see which ones made the cut and came home with me…
Check out the video below!
Where do you buy your favorite tops?
I'd love to know...please comment below.
Thanks for being here:-) I hope you're enjoying the season!
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A successful shopping trip usually results in some amazing new purchases. You head home with a bag full of treasures you can’t wait to wear or use. But what happens when you revisit those items and realize that maybe you don’t love them all as much as you originally thought? Or later you've found your groove with a new garment and discover it’s not holding up very well?
Enter the flip (not so fun) side of shopping...
Returns styles vary. I’ve worked with customers who tend to return most everything they purchase and I’ve also worked with women who don’t ever return an item, even if it’s still hanging in their closet months later with the tags on.
Seems the topic of returning is a bit taboo. Women rarely share their views on the subject. However, when I'm not wearing my Anthropologie hat, I am often asked for some honest guidance about how to best return an item.
I’m happy to offer my two cents on the fine art of returning.
My hope is that this information will make you a better shopper and a better returner:-)
First off. Let me assure you that I'm something of a master at returning things.
I'm going to share two personal tales of extreme returns...if you'd rather skip right to the tips, just jump below the next photo:-)
The absent vacuum.
I returned a vacuum cleaner, without actually having the vacuum cleaner with me.
We purchased a vacuum cleaner from Sears. It came with a one-year warranty. We used it for six months and it stopped working. I grabbed the receipt and the vacuum and headed to Sears.
They took it in for repairs. I was told I’d receive a call in a week or two when the machine was fixed. I waited. I called. And waited.
Around the beginning of week four, I called again. I was informed that the vacuum wasn’t fixed yet. That afternoon, I went into the store.
I told the salesperson that I’d like to return the vacuum. She looked at me like I was nuts since I didn’t have the vacuum with me...remember, Sears had it in their repair department.
These were desperate times...Greta’s first birthday was the following week. We were hosting a family party. I needed a working vacuum.
After lots of explaining and demanding...I successfully returned the absent vacuum and purchased a new one. Problem solved.
The empty paint can.
In this instance, I was very noticeably pregnant, which I believe helped my case:-) I purchased a gallon of interior latex paint from Lowes. I don’t recall the brand, but it was “guaranteed to cover any paint color in only one coat”. I had them tint the base a beautiful soft yellow. The perfect newborn color.
I proceeded to paint the room. I was painting over a pale lavender.
The new paint didn’t cover well. At all.
One coat coverage? Baloney.
I painted the entire room. I used every drop of paint in hopes that it would miraculously cover well once it was fully dry. No luck.
I grabbed the receipt and the empty can and waddled back to Lowes.
I requested a refund. The man assured me that the can was empty. I agreed and told him the paint was on the wall. Further explaining that I’d purchased the correct quantity for the room size and the coverage was terrible.
Again, after much discussion and demanding, I was refunded my money and purchased a second can of paint to finish the job.
Here’s what I tell my clients regarding returns:
The very first and most important rule of returning is this...
Only buy what you absolutely love!
The chances of needing to return something are much greater if you don’t love it to begin with. So, if you’re on the fence in the fitting room...don’t buy it! Don’t expect the garment to miraculously improve once you take it home, chance are it won’t.
1. What's the policy?
Know the store’s return policy before you buy. There are loads of different return policies out there. Learn what’s acceptable in your favorite shops.
Anthroplogie? Best return policy in the business!
Forever 21? 21 days to receive store credit only. Jewelry cannot be returned.
So, be certain you can live with your options before you head to the register. And keep in mind, if store credit is your only choice, a store credit at that you’ll later use to purchase something you truly love (or on a gift for someone else)...is far better than an itchy sweater, tags on, in your closet until it goes to Goodwill.
2. Do the work.
Be willing to actually return any item that you aren’t wearing. Don’t waste money by leaving things hanging in your closet when they could be returned for a refund. Errands suck, but schedule and do them in a timely manner.
Two reasons for this...stores appreciate being able to put the merchandise back on the sales floor while it's still full price. If you hold on to an item for ages, chances are it's on sale when you finally return it...thus the store loses money because you took your time with the return. Also, most retailers have a return grace period after which you'll only receive store credit or possibly not be able to return the item at all.
3. Proper information.
Make it easy on the store (and ultimately, yourself). Sign up for a store’s loyalty program. Today’s technology makes it possible for retailers to retain a record of your purchases, allowing them to access your receipt information when you need to make a return.
Back up plan...
I strongly believe you should also keep your receipt. Mistakes happen. The data is only as good as the system or the human entering it. Most often an email receipt is an option at checkout. This prevents you from having to store a paper copy, but provides you with added security.
If at all possible, plan to do your returns when the store is a bit slow. Like when the doors first open in the morning, dinnertime...not Saturday afternoon! The return process will be smoother and more pleasant for everyone if you try to handle it when the store isn't too busy.
For the best results, merchandise should be unworn with the original tags still attached. Sometimes this isn’t possible. But aim for this, as it simplifies the entire transaction.
5. Don't push it.
It's best not to abuse your right to return. As you may have heard, most retailers do in fact flag chronic returners. Customers who return lots of merchandise and do it often can be viewed as a security risk.
I’m a firm believer in returning merchandise that doesn’t perform well.
If a garment falls apart after being laundered according to the garment care tag, I’d return it.
Zipper breaks after normal wear? Take it back.
Excess shrinkage? Return it.
Retailers need to know if their merchandise isn’t satisfying the customer. If faulty items aren’t returned, they can't know that their product has disappointed their shoppers.
Shopping takes time, energy and money. By choosing well initially, you’ll be able to avoid most returns. This frees up your time for more fun...which is awesome!
If you're like me, having a bag full of stuff to return riding around in your car fills you with dread! So gather up the merchandise and the receipts and get it done!
One more thing...
What about gifts you can’t or won’t use?
My belief is this...if at all possible, you should return a gift that won’t/can’t be used. If you have a gift receipt, great. You'll likely receive a store credit in the amount of the original purchase price.
Often a retailer will permit returns without a receipt, if the items are unused. You'll be given store credit or exchange for the lowest selling price.
Not sure where it came from? Try to determine where the gift was purchased or find a retailer that carries the same merchandise, you can likely return it for at least a bit of store credit.
Explain to the salesperson that the gift simply doesn’t work for you and ask what options are available for returning or exchanging.
When we give a gift we should want the recipient to really enjoy the gift. I’d have no issue with a gift I’ve given being returned or exchanged for something the person would enjoy more:-)
And finally, be nice.
A little kindness goes a long way during the sometimes lengthy, difficult return process. Let's be honest, nice goes a long way always.
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I'm sure you have your own return tales.
Tell me! I'd love to hear them.
Thanks for being here. Have a wonderful week.
June. One of the Northern Hemisphere’s most beautiful months. If you live here, you're likely psyched, as the joys of the season are just beginning. I love summer. Always have. I thrive on sunshine. I feel best in warm weather. I welcome the easier pace of no school for my kids. As a friend of mine wisely says, "Summer is when my inner girl comes out".
The trouble with summer is that it sometimes comes with big expectations. We often wait all year for this carefree month...anticipating all of the fun it will hold.
Big pressure. And like anything that comes with 'big expectations'...if we aren't careful, summer can end up letting us down
Social media can make summer a challenge.
Theodore Roosevelt was right...
Comparison is the thief of joy.
We scroll through Instagram and see hundreds of photos showing perfect summer days. Sparkling images of the ideal family outings. The stuff that our dreams are made of.
But, what if you have no plans for a spectacular summer getaway?
Or you return home and sink into a post-vacation funk?
Here are some ways to bring a little Summer Vacation into your life, even if you’re not leaving home.
I use the following 'hacks' to create a casual, laid-back summertime vibe when I'm staying put for the season...
Switch up your usual thirst quencher. My go-to? Sparkling water packed with ice and a splash of fruit-flavored Italian soda (think San Pellegrino) and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. With a straw. In a glass you love.
Want something portable? Try Spindrift.
2. Glow, girl.
We all know that the sun (in anything but small doses) is super damaging to our skin. Yet, who doesn’t feel better with a little color? Or a savage tan? Give your skin a tropical boost. No skin damage, just a healthy "I've been basking" glow. Here's my favorite.
3. Fresh Face.
Try some new makeup. Light and easy for the warmer weather. Less is more.
4. Transport yourself.
Read a book or watch a movie that takes you away. Live vicariously through a cast of amazing characters. Get lost in a story that fills you up.
A couple of my 'escape' favorites (certainly not award-winning films, but embarrassingly captivating:-)...Summer Lovers. Little Darlings and Monte Carlo. Prefer a good read? The Sun Also Rises.
5. New menu.
Change what you eat. Strawberries, peaches, watermelon, tomatoes, leafy greens...devour what’s fresh in your area. Wow your taste buds with a bounty of summer flavors.
6. Al Fresco.
Eat outside. Picnic or patio. Move the meal outdoors. Plug in a string of white lights and feel your mood improve. I love Cooking Light magazine for easy seasonal meals.
5. Be a tourist.
Plan a day date or a family outing that rocks. See your town through the eyes of a visitor. Pick something new...do something you've never done before. A Live List is a super way to keep stretching yourself and your family.
6. Light a candle.
I'm not sure who figured out how to make a candle smell like the beach, but I'm forever grateful. My first and still favorite is the 'sea salt' candle is from St. Eval Candle Company. I'm not sure if it's still available in the U.S. I bought mine at Terrain many years ago. Terrain now seems to carry this one instead. My bet is it's a great option, I just haven't tried it yet.
7. Clear out some clutter.
Use your slower days and looser schedule to get rid of stuff! Make a plan and declutter your life. The rewards are better than any vacation! Ever.
8. Be present.
Now is now. Be right where you are. Find beauty and give thanks for what is.
Remember, this isn’t about pretending to get away.
It’s more about being happy where you are.
Make today special whether you're in an exotic locale or your own backyard.
And feel free to snap a cool pic and post it on social media. Loving your life as it is...is 100% enviable:-)
How do you celebrate summer?
I'd really love to know...please share below.
Have a very happy June!
And for those of you with kids at home...
Remember, Eighteen Summers: It's all we get. Warning- don't click that link without a few tissues in hand. There really are only 18 summers before they head out. Believe me, I know. I’m here already.
I’m working on me this month. It’s time to put the finishing touches on some personal changes. A few that are long overdue.
Anything you’d like me to explore here this summer? Just comment below and I’ll work it in.
Have an amazing week. Thank you for your presence in my life. This community is such a blessing.
Memorial Day Weekend. The official start of summer...even though the calendar has us waiting until late June. Since we had heavy snow at my house last week, I haven't given much thought to my summer wardrobe...but I'd better start!
If you're hoping to add a few new tops to your wardrobe this season, now's the perfect time.
Anthropologie is having a sale on sale!
I’ve never shared my Anthro Faves from the sale room before....but today, I'm doing just that.
Below are my current favorite markdowns at Anthropologie.
I'm sticking with tops because they're an easy fit.
And it's always nice to start a new season with a fresh top or two:-)
If you shop this weekend (May 26-29, 2017), you’ll save an additional 40% off of SALE merchandise. That means 40% off of the lowest markdown price!
Please know that some of these styles might have limited stock levels. Be sure to check online and in your local Anthropologie.
When in stores, if you don’t see an item you want on the sales floor, be sure to ask an associate for help. Sometimes there is more sale merchandise tucked away in the stockroom.
Hoping that by mentioning my sale ‘faves’, it'll help you can snag a few awesome deals and get on with the cookout phase of your holiday weekend!
As always, I’m not being compensated in any way for this post. I just enjoy sharing what I know and love at Anthropologie.
Deep-V Ribbed Top $39.95
This top is a lightweight layer for cool summer nights or chilly air-conditioning. Beautiful drape. It looks much richer than a sweatshirt. You can dress it up or down. All of the colors are pretty in person.
Peplum Pocket Top $49.95
I love this top. It’s essentially a sweatshirt with a stylish twist. The upper fabric is French terry cloth. The bottom is linen with just the right amount of flounce. It’s chic and easy to wear.
Margot Gathered Top $29.95
A t-shirt with a dash of sass. This top runs a bit big. It’s quite flattering on the body. Both colors options are flattering.
Washed Linen Shirt $49.95
This blouse is great buttoned up or worn open, more like a jacket. The green is less yellow in person. It’s good in all colors.
Alexe Embroidered Bomber $99.95
I love this bomber. It’s elegant and well-made. It works over a dress or pants...and looks equally sharp with a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt. The same-color embroidery on the back is stunning.
Allyson Textured Top $39.95
Perfect for date night. I own this top. It wears like a blouse, but it’s a knit. So comfortable. So pretty. I didn’t realize it came in military green...now I want that one too!
Maddie One-Shoulder Top $49.95
This chambray top has super style. The lines are good. The fit is a bit short so you might need to pair it with high-waisted bottoms. It’s a nice summer alternative to a basic chambray button-down or tank top.
Ruffled Linen One-Shoulder Top $29.95
I love this top. It’s a little playful and so pretty on the body. Soft and easy to wear on a hot day.
And since we currently have an awesome selection of new merchandise, I’ll throw in two of my favorite full-priced styles...
Seamed Raglan Tee $38
I haven’t purchased this one yet...but I think it’s on my short list. Cool detailing. Nice price. I’ll probably buy it in white. I like the idea of a new white tee with some interest.
Draped V-Neck Tee $48
I have this tee in grey. It’s fabulous. Effortless, but a touch more fun than a basic, athletic-gray t-shirt. Big surprise: I’ve even worn mine under a blazer with jeans:-) Super good.
Happy Sale Shopping!
Hope you find yourself a fab top at a dynamite price.
Questions about the pieces shown above? Or any Anthropologie merchandise? Comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Thanks for following along.
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Feeling much gratitude for those who we remember on Memorial Day.
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.
Weekly Updates right here.
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:-)
As I type, I realize this post screams, ‘first world problem’. I’m struggling to even continue writing. However, this issue comes up very often in my line of work. Women are always asking me, “What causes those annoying little holes on the front of my t-shirts and how can I prevent them?"
My clients are currently stocking up on new cotton tanks and t-shirts for summer. They want to avoid the all too common outbreak of tiny holes just below the bellybutton.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, feel free to skip this post...or read on and file this info away for future reference:-)
These tiny mystery holes always seem to crop up on the lower front part of cotton t-shirts.
Right about where the button is on jeans or where a belt buckle hits the shirt.
If you Google this bothersome issue you’ll quickly discover that there are lots of theories out there about the origin of the holes. And lots of solutions.
In an effort to help you avoid this damaging situation, I'm offering my two cents.
From my own personal experience, here’s what I know for sure…
I very rarely, if ever, get these holes in my t-shirts.
I almost always tuck in the front part of my tops.
I usually wear a belt.
These little holes don't seem to discriminate. I’ve seen this problem occur with lots of variables...
Women of all shapes and sizes
Hand washed and machine laundered
Line dried and tumble dried
$78 tees and $5 tees
100% cotton and blended fabrics
Want to avoid the holes?
I suggest the following-
Rock the front tuck
Bonus: this simple fix gives your outfits a modern, youthful look.
Wear a belt
My go-to favorite is leopard print. You can see it here.
Cut off the sticky part of a Band-Aid and use it to cover the button on your jeans. While I haven’t ever tried this, I’ve had many clients tell me this method works like magic. No more holes!
Take It Back
Return the damaged top to the retailer...most stores will stand behind their merchandise. Anthropologie is great about this. Don’t hesitate because the top has been worn. All clothing should hold up under normal wear, laundering and circumstances.
Please share. Let’s save each other from future tiny holes!
UPDATE! (June 2017)
After posting this, I received the nicest email from a gal named Lauren. Turns out she owns a company called Holé. She sells button covers that eliminate the problem of tiny holes in t-shirts! She kindly offered to send me a pack to try out. They are awesome!
Holé button covers are small silicone 'jackets' for your buttons. The covers easily slip over the button on your jeans and prevent your shirt fabric from rubbing on the button.
Genius! Click here for more info on Holé Button Covers. Thanks, Lauren!
I'm heading into graduation week for my daughter. She will officially be out of high school next weekend! Lots of feelings and emotions (combined with waterproof mascara and a pretty hanky:-). Soaking it all in. Now is now.
Thanks for being here. Go have yourself an amazing week!
When I was a child, my maternal grandparents lived in Niagara Falls, New York. My family would visit them every summer. I have lots of wonderful, vivid memories of their home.
Wiffle golf balls tied to strings at the back of the garage to guide my grandparents to perfect parking.
A tandem bicycle for after-dinner rides.
A next door neighbor with a trampoline.
And...an antique commode (or potty) that was used as an end table in the family room.
This potty is a cool piece of furniture, in fact, I secured it for myself when it was time to divide my grandparents’ possessions. It’s sitting right next to me in my office as I type this:-)
However cool the potty, for me, the best part of it was what sat on top.
Piled precariously high atop this ancient necessity was a stack of magazines. Women’s magazines. Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping. Months worth of glossy pages just waiting to be explored.
I loved that pile.
It represented to me all that was possible as an adult. I could have a beautiful home, make delicious meals and have lots of time to sit and read magazines. (Truth be told, I rarely recall my grandmother sitting down to read a magazine)
I guess this is where my love (bordering on obsession) of magazines was born.
In my teens and twenties, I spent lots of time paging through fashion and celebrity magazines. I’d carefully cut out images and collage anything that would hold up to spray mount….closet doors, locker doors, dorm room walls. It was like living in a Pinterest board. Way before Pinterest:-)
Recently, my love of magazines has become a bit of a problem.
I currently have 10 basically unread magazines in my bedroom. By ‘basically unread’ I mean that I’ve cracked a few open...but haven’t found time to actually enjoy the entire issue.
At this stage of my life, magazines taunt me.
Thanks to my husband’s airline miles, I’m regularly solicited by the Miles for Mags folks. And I usually cave. After all, there’s no cost and there are so many great titles available in exchange for a few miles.
And if I'm actually paying for the magazines, I concluded some time ago, that it’s far more economical to have a subscription to a publication than to buy each issue at the newsstand. I mean, the savings is ridiculous.
The problem with a subscription is...they just keep coming.
Month after month after month.
And...I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to magazines.
I want to save each new issue until the perfect afternoon arrives...
and my schedule is clear...
and the light is just right...
and I can curl up and devour the issue from cover to cover.
In such an ideal setting, I just know I'd benefit from all of the promises, with lots of time for the proper oohing and aahing over all the beautiful images, getting lost in the glossy pages!
However….and I’m quite sure you can already guess the trouble…
Those idyllic afternoons are few and very far between. Or a fantasy altogether.
So, a new issue arrives. Snug in it’s plastic safety cover. I give it a place of honor next to my nightstand.
And I wait.
Then, astonishingly fast, the next ‘new issue’ arrives. What?! I haven’t even taken the plastic off of last month’s issue.
My work requires that I stay current on all things style and organizing. So, reading magazines could be considered ‘Research and Development’ for my work at Anthropologie and The Together Act.
However, as I continue to simplify my life...I'm having a struggle with the magazine pile.
"feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy."
Here's what happens in my mind...
Every time I glance at the pile, I begin to feel guilty that I’ve never opened these amazing tomes of information. I’m fooled into thinking that the answer to a better life is within those unread magazines. Each issue containing information that will surely improve my world.
And I also I feel bad about all of the paper wasted and energy/resources required to bring the issues to me.
I feel crummy about my too busy life.
I beat myself up.
How can I not find time to read a magazine? Or six?
Even with a pile at home, the pull of a new issue is strong. If I'm in the grocery store for a few items mid-week...I spy a new issue of a magazine that I don’t have a subscription to...and I honestly consider buying it! Until I remind myself that I have 10 unread magazines already at home!
All this to say that I need a new plan.
It’s time to simplify my magazine reading program.
After all, I'm saving them like they're a great Guilty Pleasure, but I'm missing the pleasure part.
I’m not sure if making time to read the magazines will make me want to keep receiving issues or have the opposite effect. I’m certainly aware that most magazines repeat the same basic fluff every few months...so what am I really going to gain by reading 5 or 6 magazines every 30 days? Just typing it makes it seem exhausting!
I want to love magazines again.
Or, I want to realize that my love affair with glossy page has come to an end.
Something needs to change.
Either the pile or my outlook.
I’m going to schedule some magazine time on my calendar.
Then, once I’ve spent some time actually reading the magazines, if I don't feel like I’m gaining anything...I’m going to cancel the subscriptions.
The miles can expire or add up to equal a fabulous trip!
Guilt. What a waste.
Our mind decides we should feel bad or worse, inadequate...and so we do. We spend precious minutes of our one and only life feeling a sense of self-imposed yuck.
What’s making you feel guilty?
How would you feel if you just let it go?
Please share your thoughts...
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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:-)
It's happening. Slowly, but surely, I’m beginning to believe that there’s actually something to the much talked about and celebrated act of being present. Until recently, I didn’t fully realize the incredible power of this seemingly small act. The reality is that ‘living in the present moment’ or ‘coming back to the Now’, though simple, is not at all easy. Such a basic concept….become aware of your breathing and of this very moment...nothing else.
Why is the practice so mind-blowingly difficult?!
The idea of mindful living isn’t new to me. I’ve been hearing about and reading about the Now for years...Jon Kabat-Zin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön...I read their words, yet only absorbed a few.
Obviously, I wasn’t really ready for the message until recently. I understood the idea and the benefits of staying present, but I wasn’t living it.
Grasping something intellectually is definitely not the same thing as actually doing it.
I was happily comprehending, but not really doing the work. I was playing it safe and then wondering why nothing was changing. Kind of foolish, huh?
Everyone is different, but for me Eckhart Tolle and two of his books were like lightning bolts.
For the past few months, I have been re-reading Mr. Tolle’s words and working towards becoming more present.
I’m all in. 100% committed to really living more of each day in the Now.
Well, I’d love to report that I’m fully enlightened, spending each and every day fully conscious and as a byproduct, my life is blissfully perfect.
Nope. Not even close.
But...something is different.
Things are happening, shifting, changing as a result of my paying more attention to Now.
Please know that there are still enormous chunks of time that pass with my mind in complete control. I’m lost inside the sea of thoughts with absolutely no regard for the present moment.
In those times,
I remain unbelievably unaware that I’m unaware. Crazy.
However, when I finally return from all the thinking, from what seems a bit like a dream, I’m able to recognize that I’ve been ‘gone’ and then happily stay present for a few seconds.
Sadly, it seems that a few seconds at a time of present moment living is all most people can manage. It’s ridiculously difficult to stay present in the midst of our full lives. It’s even difficult when sitting in silent meditation. Wacky really.
Our mind wants to call all the shots and if we don’t wake up...it does. Filling us with worry, anxiety, stress, anger, fear...that all seem very real and almost impossible to escape.
If you are one of the lucky humans who’s already figured this out, I applaud you and I’m a bit envious. I feel like I’m late to the mindfulness party.
But, in this instance I’m banking on…”better late than never”.
Ready to try it for yourself?
It's not too late to start...
If you haven’t read The Power of Now and A New Earth (both by Eckhart Tolle), begin there. Check them out of your local library or order them from Amazon. Both (used) books combined will cost less than $25. I’m honestly feeling like they were the best investment I’ve made in years.
Seems obvious, but I’ve been known to buy a book with great intentions and then never actually crack it open. You’ve got to commit to reading the words.
Notice the Now.
Start catching the present moment. Once you get the hang of it, the act of recognizing the Now becomes a little game. Try and see how often you can be present in an hour or an afternoon. Be prepared to fail miserably and then laugh at yourself.
The wonderful thing is that the present moment continues to repeat itself over and over again for the rest of your life. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds to try again. Lots of opportunities for success
Watch for changes..this has been the most remarkable part for me. I never imagined that by being more present in my life I’d begin to see things with so much clarity. Sure, I’d read about that happening for other people, but my expectations were low. Mind blown.
Here’s a bit of what I’m experiencing…
I enjoy the foamy milk on my morning coffee
I actually hear the laughter of my children
I notice my husband’s beautiful blue eyes
I feel the energy of the plants in my home
I’m drawn in by the flicker of a candle flame
I hear music more deeply
I’m in complete awe of the power of a sunrise or a sunset
and here's a less cliche example...
I recently had an exchange with my youngest son that made us both aware of how much I’m shifting. .
During a school day, I received the following text from Henry regarding his cell phone.
“Crap, I wrecked my screen...it still works, but it’s super broken”.
The truth is that a new iPhone isn’t really in the budget right now. I sincerely wish that his phone wasn’t going to need to be replaced any time soon.
However, as a result of the simple yet profound words of my new guru:-), Eckhart Tolle...I chose to accept the situation as it is.
I didn’t resist and become angry or irritated.
I was able to reply to my son’s text with kindness and compassion and presence of mind.
After exchanging a few texts about the phone situation, he actually wrote…
“Thanks for being so kind about this. I was worried.”
(as in, he was worried I’d completely freak out...and I’m sure I would have a few months ago)
If I’d tried to find a real life example of the power of Now...I couldn’t have come up with one this meaningful. It matter how I treat people. Being present helps me be a better person.
My actions and reactions are changing.
I know this maybe sounds corny, hokey or far out. And I agree.
But I also know that I’m seeing things differently. And the most bizarre part is that I can actually FEEL it happening. It’s wild! And it’s wonderful.
How well do you manage to stay present throughout the day? What's your best tip? Please share! I always enjoy learning what works for others.
Thank you for being here. Questions and comments are always welcome.
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Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,