Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: family

Just back from a weekend in Vegas and wanted to drop a quick line to say hello.

After the emotional chaos of a few weeks ago, work events and busyness (not to mention Mercury Retrograde) this week is quiet coming, and I am thankful for that.

The pic of above is from our hotel room early in the morning on Saturday. We stayed at The Paris and traveled in to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday and my parent’s 33rd wedding anniversary. Amazing milestones, to say the least.

As someone who is embracing being a highly-sensitive person, Vegas but with those milestone celebrations, I couldn’t say no. So H and I packed up the car, drove the 6hrs each way and spent the weekend eating, drinking and gambling with my family.

And while I would rather have been out in the desert, out where those clouds touched the mountains, it’s always good to have the whole family (plus our significant others now) all together at one time.

This week is quiet as far as work / social commitments go, but we’re in for another eclipse and things pick up again for me in about 10 days, so I’m going to use this week to downshift a bit. I’m still continuing the #30daysofdresses challenge. Been wearing a dress almost every single day, just going to find some time tonight to write up the posts.

If you’re looking for something cool to listen to this week, check out the Back To work podcast where David Sparks guest appears. I loved hearing him speak about executing projects, balancing all of the things he’s into and his presentations field guide (which I plan on pick up). So yeah, dig around in that if you’re looking for some inspiration.

Have a great week xo

#30daysofdresses – day 4

Or the plight of this little black dress…

I’m realizing quickly that 30 days of my own outfits is starting to feel a little… self-indulgent. It would be silly to think that anyone wants to read about dresses when they come from stores like Kohl’s or H&M, or see 30 pictures of me.

I snapped this on Thursday – it was a helluva day at work. I ended up taking the afternoon off because, like all first world white girls, I COULD NOT EVEN.

So the combo of needing a boost of creative time in between meetings, and the self-consciousness of not wanting to post 30 selfies, produced this photo. And I thought about my friend Nina who takes these awesome self-portraits and a whole world of options expanded before me.

Yes – it’s #30daysofdresses – but more importantly, it’s 30 days of sharing my creativity, my story, of me inside and out.

So that’s where I was at when I took this photo.

I’ve owned this dress for a very long time… definitely before I moved to LA.

When I first moved here and started working at my internship, I had a boatload of new business clothes (thanks mom!) from Ann Taylor Loft and was basically terribly overdressed for the occasion. One day, a coworker said “You wear a lot of black” as if this wasn’t a good thing. “Well, I’m from New York,” I said, because in New York everyone wears black (just look at my Google search). It’s classic, powerful and creates a good silhouette. Plus, people are hardworking, driven, serious – any pop of color, like the crazy teals and neons LA-ers wear – could be seen as not taking things seriously enough. 

And who the f-has time to be all bright and happy when it’s 30* outside and you’re working a 10hr day?

But, I digress.

As I shopped for myself and tried the SoCal style on for size, I started pulling navy, instead of black as my base neutral. I didn’t realize this until Jess pointed it out. Awesome. So what do I do with this black dress I didn’t care much about? Jess suggested I keep it, since it was cute, light-weight and versatile.

Then another 18 months went by and I didn’t wear it.

It wasn’t because it didn’t fit right, or it was black, or that I don’t own black boots (working on that).

It was because the last time I wore this dress, I wore it to a funeral.

It was July 2011 and we had plans to be on the east coast for our two engagement parties (long story). One in PA and one in NY. A few days before our departure, we woke up to a slew of calls on H’s cellphone saying that his granddad had passed away overnight.

I don’t remember the actual timeline of things, if we flew in early or traveled back and forth from PA to NY a few times, but it was such a huge blow to H’s mom’s side of the family – completely unexpected.

His grandfather was quiet, but super warm and friendly, and so kind-hearted. He really was the nicest. He always treated me like I was part of the family, long before H and I were engaged.

And this is the dress I wore to his funeral – the only part of which I remember being in a room where people were giving speeches about him – and we were all laughing and crying. There was music. I hung out with H’s little sister who seemed to know that I needed the company more than she needed me – mostly b/c this wasn’t my family. I felt a little out of place. And I just remember, as everyone wrapped up the speeches and went to move on to the restaurant, people picking up purses and organizing carpools, I started to cry. H hugged me and I remember saying into his chest, “It’s just so sad” because it was.

We’d lost a really good person. I could cry writing this.

Some time later, I remember his daughter, H’s aunt, saying that now when she sees monarchs, she thinks it’s her dad visiting her. And our LA neighborhood is full of monarchs, so now I always think of him too. And of course, when I wear this dress.

Dress is Old Navy. Boots are Kohl’s. Necklace is the shape of an arrow.


July (My Favorite)

I’m off this week in Newport Beach with my parents, celebrating the 4th. It’s the first time all year that being out of the office = actual time off. All the other days I was traveling or running around with people – basically, not relaxing.

This morning had a similar start where I had a work call reschedule, then cancel, emails to go through and people who think they need my attention… and after 30 min of that, I decided I was done and unplugging from work completely the rest of the week. It will all go one without me. My work is not my worth.

A helper in this is that the wifi at the vacation home is sucky and basically a waste of time. So I wanted to post a quick hello here, to update you on my absence and also welcome in July.

2014 is 1/2 over, and it’s been a whirlwind to say the least. I’m not sure how time is going so quickly.

Despite the lack of internet, I’m writing blog posts and (hopefully) coming up with a bit of a schedule. I have so much to share but I just don’t get around to it. Working to change that.

After the work crap this AM, I took myself down to the beach – walked the wet sand, shot a few photos and felt the humid, salty wind on my face. The ocean. The month of July. They really are my favorite.

Hope you’re off to a great summer-time. xo

5 Things About Dad

Dad and me chilling at a pool in Vegas.

I get my love of books, good alcohol, astrology and conversation from my dad. If you ever come over for dinner, he will attempt to guess your sign before dessert is served, and he’s usually right. He mentions things like “Saturn cycle” and “Mercury retrograde”. He gave me A Time To Kill to read when I was in 6th grade. He’s always reading more than one book at a time, and we both have a habit of reading while we eat. It’s just so relaxing

When H and I lived on the east side of LA, our apartment had a serious cockroach infestation. In fact, the whole building did, and it felt like a losing battle. During Easter that year, my parents came and stayed with us. Our neighbors had just been evicted, and their apartment was disgusting. Soon, the roaches came looking for a new place to hole-up. I was so embarrassed. The last thing you want when you first move in with your boyfriend, and your parents are visiting, is a a cockroach explosion.

But Dad assured me that this was no big deal – that this was nothing compared to the places he lived in growing up in the City. He peeked around our balcony wall and saw the other apartment’s sliding door was open. He bought a can of bug spray, the kind you use to bomb a space with pesticides. He pulled the pin from the top, leaned around the wall, and threw the can through their balcony and into the now empty living room. You could hear it hit the floor on the other side of our shared wall. I always thought that was a pretty bad-ass move.

As you can see from the pic above, Dad has a sense of humor. It tends to be smart and sharp, usually sarcastic. Dad is the one who told me that sarcasm is the “humor of the intelligent”. He also likes to make funny comments under his breath and then snicker at them, this guy giggle where his shoulders bounce up and down, and he sounds like Muttley (see below). Now when my sister and I make jokes together, and one of us laughs at our own jokes, we say we’re being like Dad.


It’s only been recently Dad and I seem to be on the same page, and able to have good conversations. Just the other day we were chatting about financial blogs like Get Rich Slowly and he said he understood what I’d meant now by certain money decisions I’d made in the past few years. He said that if he’d listened to me back then, he would be retired by already. Now, on one hand, that stinks, b/c I want my parents to be happy, but on the other, it was nice to hear from him that he understood, and that my gut instinct of how to save my own money made sense to him now.

My dad owns his own podiatry practice, before that he helped run the country music bar his parents owned, and he worked other random jobs before that. If there’s one thing he’s instilled in me my whole life, it’s that you work hard, and you keep a level of excellence in your work. He’s always supported my dreams and decisions, and that sense of entrepreneurship – that if you want something, you figure out the steps and put the work in. You have the autonomy and control to make your life what you want it to be.

(My parents are visiting in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to spend some time with them)

Happy Father’s day Dad – love you!


5 Things About Mom

My sister, Mom and me at my engagement party, 2011.

– Some of her favorite snacks are pretzels, pistachios or a peanut-butter sandwich, all with a tall glass of milk. Also, she loves tomatoes. As I’ve aged, I’ve inherited all of these cravings except for the pistachios. Extra fun fact, I’m pretty sure she made it to 48 years old before she ate a purple grape. London broil + noodles + asparagus is my favorite dinner she cooks.

– By the time she was my age, she had 3 kids under the age of 6, owned two houses, managed my dad’s practice and been married almost 10 years. I’m not sure how she did it all. And still does.

– Because of her short hair cut, which she hasn’t grown out in my entire life, sometimes people mistake her for Jamie Lee Curtis. My dad likes to say “It’s Jamie LEE!” when we’re out in LA just to confuse the tourists.

– Her father played guitar in country bands and sang. She also played some and sang. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her sing.

– It’s been 2 years since our last fight (hopefully the last one of our lives), and for that, I am forever grateful. (Pssst you can read last year’s Mother’s Day note here. )

Love you, Mom xo




8 of 52: Year of Ocean

The weather for this family walk yesterday was gorgeous. Gloriously sunny, breezy, warm. Nothing like last week’s weather. Spring has definitely sprung here in LA (though the time change springing us forward does not a happy Justine make).

After an incredibly busy week, where one or both of us were out every night, sometimes not getting to bed until midnight, we woke up Saturday refreshed. Being asleep by 10pm on a Friday night has its advantages.

H decided on a beach walk for Carter, and of course I tagged along. We ended up south of the Venice pier, walking on the beach, Carter saying Hi to other dogs. We took our shoes off and put our toes in the very chilly sand. (Putting my feet in sand feels like vacation every.single.time.)

South down the beach and then East, we ended up on the Ballona creek / westlands footpath, which I didn’t even know existed. Isn’t it crazy we’ve here for almost 5 years and I’ve never known walked this footpath?

We made our way back to the streets, fantasizing about living in the water-front homes, and ended up at the Cow’s End in Venice.

We ate bacon, egg and cheese on bagels, sipped coffee and tea, and watched the other doggies walk by with their owners. The sun was warm and turned my cheeks red. It was a perfect morning walk and I was grateful for the quiet, alone time with H. Carter was pretty satisfied too.

*See all of my Year of Ocean


I admit, I am quite apprehensive about this milestone birthday, but today has been a normal day off at home. In fact, I probably “wasted” it by sitting at the kitchen table, scrolling through blogs, Instagram and Twitter, sipping tea and reading The Goldfinch (which I still can’t get enough of).

But as my sister texted – it’s not a waste if I’m happy.

Amen to that.

I also received many a Facebook posts, text messages, phone calls, IG comments and tweets. My awesome colleagues used Facetime to sing me happy birthday complete with inflatable instruments, and another had his entire office sing happy birthday to me over speaker phone. A few friends sent videos of well-wishes and H left me notes all over the apartment this morning.

Tonight I’m headed out with 15 of my friends to all-you-can-eat-sushi and then a dive bar. Considering I haven’t drank any alcohol in 3+ weeks, I don’t plan on going out in a blaze of glory. It will be fun nonetheless.

I’m grateful for this time alone – finally starting to feel my energy coming back, the sun moving into Pisces, and the internal wheels of project ideas and plans spinning once again. If anything, I am at least grateful to have better perspective this year after all of those events, and understanding my own cycles is helping immensely. By not fighting how I feel, it all seems to be flowing through me eventually.

More to come, but for now, I’m off to the usual routine of taking the dog out for a walk. Birthday or not, some things still need tending to.




day 6: diagonals

A trip home to PA is not complete without a trip to Wawa. We went not once, but TWICE today, where we ate egg sandwiches the first trip and hoagies the second. I love how they have tons of coffee, tea and milk options, not to mention healthy food options.

It really is the best convenience store ever.

– – –

See all of my August Break 2013 posts here

day 3: yellow

See all of my August Break 2013 posts here.

day 2: circles

Adjusting to the time zone, enjoying H’s family and going for a hike. Vacation is my fav.