Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: hell or high fashion

#30daysofdresses – day 2

I mentioned yesterday that today’s dress was a bit more out of my comfort zone, but is still hitting on so many of my favorite things – navy, golden brown, and stripes – not to mention it feels like pajamas.

I know, I’m so classy.

Jess gets credit for this one. She pulled it for me in a size that was slightly too large (too long, droopy in the neck line) and we thought maybe they didn’t have my size in stock. But then Jess found it in another spot and – perfecto!

What I love about this dress is that it feels really sexy because it’s tight, but it’s not so clingy that I feel uncomfortable (again, pajamas) or that I’m revealing too much. The stripes and side panels distract from any one spot and it’s just short enough to be perfect for my height.

This dress made me feel all autumn, put-together and classy in a New England kind of way. Plus, it’s the first time this season I got to break out my favorite boots. Hopefully the weather won’t warm up too much and you’ll be seeing more of them in the next few weeks.

Dress is from H&M. Boots are Clarks from 3+ years ago.

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Writing And Me (Blog Hop)

I’ve been journaling for 17 years, but I haven’t thought of myself as a writer, really, ever. I’ve thought about being a writer, like someone who wants to be a firefighter or president when they grow up. Now, I believe it’s the action that’s important (ex: if you want to be a runner, get outside and run. If you want to be a writer, write.) Yet, even after 530+ blog posts, I’m just beginning to think of my writing as significant enough to call myself a WRITER.

So it’s only fitting I was invited to a blog hop by Jill Salahub (a blogger I love AND get to actually chat with online) and have the honor of sharing with you a few awesome friends who will be posting next week.

1. What am I working on/writing?
I’m always writing morning pages, reading (books and blogs), intuitively taking in information, having deep conversations, taking photos, writing blogs posts and creating my life.

I began my blog in 2010, the same spring that I adopted a dog, bought a beach cruiser and began therapy.

Therapy was a game-changer for me. I finally started to understand all of my anger, hurt, and exhaustion and began valuing both myself and the life I was creating. I felt a need to capture my life in a more thematic, coherent way – outside of just stream-of-conscious journaling.

The same friend who suggested I try therapy (that I would actually like it) said my creativity came out in all aspects of my life – how I trained my dog, how I loved my husband, how I cooked, how I blogged and how I spent my days.

This took time to sink in but it’s how I see life now.

So I am always working on my life – learning new things, capturing moments, processing experiences, writing about them and then sharing them on my blog.

Creativity through living.

2. How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
When I go into a Wild Write (as taught by Laurie Marks) I find my writing dives deep into the emotional experience of a situation. I’m all feelings, nostalgia, fleeting time and heartbreak.

My blog writing tends to be more day-to-day life, but focused on the themes of self-care, self-awareness and growth, details of my days, fun experiences and the larger threads that tie my experiences together.
When I began my blog, I had parameters. I would be truthful of my experience but also respectful. I didn’t want this to be an angsty online journal, I wanted it to be a creative space in line with the blogs that gave me great comfort (see a list of them at the end of this post).

I knew I wanted to share my experience. And the lens of my life include becoming more and more true to myself as I go through my late 20s, being in a committed relationship, the details of my days, anything I’m drawn to and the fleeting sense of time.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I am struck with how finite life is on a daily basis. When I’m falling asleep at night, I think “One day, I will be dead and gone” and this thought is both jarring and motivating.

Annie Lamott posted on her FB last week:
“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

This is it. THIS is what I’m trying to capture in my own blogging, in the blogs and books I read, in the conversations I have, in the people I spend my time with, in how I spend my days.

This is why I write – to capture the world around me and my own experiences, because I know it is all so fleeting, that it’s passing me by even as I notice it passing me by.

There are still days I forget that I am in control of my life and I have the power to choose how to spend my days, but blogging reminds me of how far I’ve come, where I’m at and where I’d like to go.

And I write to touch people – for my writing to resonate with them and their experiences. To be a light or a companion for them. The hope that my little example guides their way – to give them permission to love their life, to let go, to slow down, to truly be themselves and love what they love – even when life feels chaotic, stressful and impossible.

4. How does my writing process work?
I don’t feel like I have a conscious process, but it seems to flow in three parts:

  1. I am thinking a lot, all of the time, about everything
  2. I write things out in my morning pages, and
  3. Then I tie experiences together through my blog posts.

Every morning, I wake up and write morning pages in bed, while H leaves for work and Carter lays in his crate, patiently waiting for me to finish. Afterwards, Carter and I head downstairs where he eats breakfast and I down a glass or two of water. We head out for a run, bike ride or walk so he can get his exercise in while I do too.

Throughout my day, I take photos, think a lot, jot down thoughts, save articles and blog posts to Evernote, have conversations with people and live my life.

When I have an idea that feels whole enough to tackle or I have the urge to blog, I sit down, go back through my memory, photos and notes, and pick something to write about.

Because I think so much – and tend to intuitively take in my life and then process it outwardly by writing or talking – most blogs posts come quickly. From years of journaling, it seems, most blog posts come out mostly-formed. This doesn’t mean that they do not need editing – but they usually don’t feel like work. They feel like having a nice conversation with a friend. I have something to share, and I share it.

Blogging has gone hand-in-hand with becoming more ME than I’ve felt in a long, long time. As I listened to my needs and wants, I wrote it down. As I found myself through therapy and creativity, blogging helped me find my voice. And track that trail.

My blog is a reflection of this process and it’s a work in progress. I want to understand, reflect on and enjoy my days through my writing. Recently, I am actively raising the bar. I want my blog to reflect me as a person and my life experiences even more, I want to expand into telling longer stories, other people’s stories, posting more regularly, and seeking out readers. I am now comfortable enough with what I’m building that I want to share it. I am not embarrassed or self-conscious about my blog. I’m proud of it.

LIST OF BLOGS THAT I LOVE
Drawn to Laurie Marks Wagner @27 Powers, Andrea Scher, Jen Lee, Susanna Conway (who’s blogging e-course I recommend!), The Noisy Plume, Esme Wang, A Design So Vast, Pink Ronnie, Elise Blaha Cripe, Ali Edwards, Jill Salahub, Jamie Ridler, and Abby Kerr.

AND… these lovely ladies involved in the blog hop:

Jill Salahub | Thousand Shades of Gray
Jill Salahub is an Introvert, INFJ, Highly Sensitive Person, Scorpio, and Four on the Enneagram – in other words, a passionate mess. She’s a wholehearted practitioner of writing, yoga, meditation, and dog. She is generous and gentle, loves laughter and pie. Her mission is to ease suffering, in herself and the world. Jill writes about the tenderness and the terror, the beauty and the brutality of life, and of her efforts to keep her heart open through it all on her blog, A Thousand Shades of Gray, (which she started writing long before those books).

Katie Arnold | Talk Less, Say More
Katie is a music industry professional, healthy living enthusiast and fitness fanatic.  Her blog Talk Less, Say More is a place for her to share all of her life passions in one space – writing, music, good food and fun workouts.  She believes all things in moderation are the key to living a healthy and happy life, and loves inspiring her friends, family and others around her to live their best life too!

 


Jessica Defino | hell or high fashion
Jessica DeFino is a Los Angeles-based wardrobe stylist, writer, and blogger. With a focus on fashion, Jessica’s work has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar China, Remix Magazine, ELLE Mexico, RayLi, and B Mag Online.  Her blog, hellorhighfashion.com, is dedicated to helping others better their lives through the power of personal style.


Lynne Raspet & Suzee Ramirez | Two Poppies
We are sisters, the two youngest in a family of five children. Two Poppies is a place where we share our “art and soul” ~ our creative expressions, personal inspirations, thoughts and dreams. We are moving into the realm of blogging at our own very s…l…o…w… pace due the other directions in which our lives are pulling us.

Lynne is a mom of four who bounces all over the country (especially the South ~ in fact they are moving within the month to El Paso, TX) with her Air Force pilot hubby and loves discovering new places to travel and adventure everywhere they live. Capturing real life with her camera, including morning walks, road trips, and the baby squirrels they fostered is her idea of a good time. Her favorite ways to sweat right now are running and yoga. She believes in serendipity including an adorable kitty who appeared at midnight on Christmas Eve and became part of their family.

Suzee lives in Orange County, California (her entire life!) and has two lovely animal- & beach-loving girls (we’d have a farm on the ocean if they had their way) and is married to her fellow entrepreneurial husband. She enjoys being active, creative, adventurous, and living with a sense of curiosity, awe, and wonder. Her reading is mostly centered on spiritual discovery & feels very comfortable knowing that life is a completely miraculous mystery.

Our paths have included teaching (Lynne was a bilingual English/Spanish kindergarten teacher) and graphic design (Suzee has been in this field for many moons & was partner in a design group). We currently also own and operate Multicultural Kids, which sells all kinds of products that encourage children to discover and appreciate the amazing world and all of its people. We are in the process of producing our first book, “A Beautiful Rainbow World” ~ a children’s photography book with photos from around the globe which will be out in June

What I learned…from a stylist

What I learned from working with a stylist to revamp my wardrobe:

I have a serious thing for blue, particularly navy. The good news is navy is an awesome neutral. The bad news is, I need to make sure I buy something else besides the blue-ish option.

I really love dresses. They’re easy to throw on, keep me cool (I hate feeling overheated) and when they fit right, they flatter my build perfectly.

In line with point number one, my current color pallet is that of a peacock’s tail – teal, blue, darker blue, black, purple, and greens. I was amazed when Jess pointed this out, but of course she’s right. And what an interesting concept – that I have a style I didn’t even know I had – and that, while I have no idea how to articulate it, I know what I like. It also just happens that the color I went with for the bridemaids’ dresses this past summer is called peacock.

From listening to Jess talk about trendier looks, I started to see the patterns from store to store. Whether it was a super high-end boutique or a every day department store, I could see this season’s trends (bright colors like nectarine orange, peach cream and mint, denim shirts, and skinny pants with layered, baggier tops). I feel more confident that I can go into a store a year from now, pick out what’s trendy, and add a piece or two to update my style.

Layer is going to take my look to a new level. Jess said that the difference between looking like I “just threw something on” and actually looking like I am wearing an outfit is to layer pieces. This isn’t easy for me but I’m confident I can learn.

Attitude, as with anything, is everything. I’m glad I had this reminder, as I struggle with dips in self-confidence, and now I see my clothing as I way to lift myself up, rather than hide myself away until I feel better.

If I never wear outfits that are above the simple graphic t-shirt, jeans and flats, then I’ll always feel like I’m over-dressed in anything else. But if I wear cuter / trendier / styled outfits more often, it will make sense (to me and to others) when I’m wearing, say, a dress to go out for lunch with H or heels to work. While I’m always talking about lowering my bar, when it come to style, I need to bump it up a notch.

The high of wearing a new outfit and feeling awesome is so underrated. Note to self: grab a random piece of new clothing more often.

Next time most of my pants don’t fit for well over a year, I should just buy new pants. Nothing beats actually fitting into my clothes instead of just feeling blah about the old ones that don’t fit anymore. (Substitute pants for any item of clothing, including socks and bras, new bedding and haircuts).

The oldest thing I got rid of, I think, was a pair of American Eagle jeans I’ve had for 12 years, give or take. I’ve had them longer than I’ve been with H or lived in LA. They went through high school, college, snowstorms in Boston, and feeling stressed in LA. And while I am so thankful for their service – it was time for them to go. (See top photo)

I plan to report back in a few weeks, hopefully with some outfit photos, to see how I’m doing. So far, so good.

(You can grab a few style tips from the gal who helped me: Hell or High Fashion)

Out With The Old, In With The New

For my 29th birthday last week I gift myself the help of a stylist. I met Jess through her boyfriend, an awesome songwriter named Hughie. (Video of him here) Her dream is to style bands, and she’s already built a great credit list. When she and I met a month ago for coffee, I asked her what she could do for little ol’ me. Turns out, she does “closet consultations” and “shopping trips” for just about anyone. We talked dates and fees, and before I knew it, she was in my bedroom helping me sort through and donate 7+ years worth of clothing.

On Saturday, we spent  almost 2 hours going through everything I had in my closet and dresser. She kept a running list of what I had to mix and match and what I needed. And then we headed to Ann Taylor LOFT for a bit of shopping. Nabbed a couple of basics and one dress that, when I put it on, it made me so happy I almost cried. Amazing.

We ran out of time Saturday, so Sunday it was round two. We were at the mall when it opened and spent most of our time methodically shopping through Forever 21. Now, I haven’t shopped in a long time, but I am sort of a hater when it comes to crap clothing. BUT after shopping with Jess, I see the value (low price, trendy fashion) of a place like Forever 21 (…when it comes to style. when it comes to sustainability, I am going to keep my mouth shut).

She and I found some awesome pieces, including a blue faux leather jacket, a hot-hot midnight blue dress (date night!) and finally a pair of colored jeans (green, of course). And then the kicker, I bought 8 dresses! EIGHT.

My wardrobe is completely revamped. I am in love. I’ve only had a chance to wear one outfit (today’s) but I can’t wait to wear everything.

To top it all off, today I received a “cheat sheet” email from Jess detailing outfit options, what I can wear with what, and future things I may want to buy. It was the perfect gift for myself to (be)come into my own in this 29th year. As Hughie would say: BOOM.

You can find tons of style tips on her blog Hell or High Fashion (whose name I just adore).