Category Archives: reflection

Do you know what the worst part of getting advice from another person is? The worst part is that no one else is exactly like you and so, no one else can tell you exactly what to do in a way that satisfies your deepest and most serious unmet need. This is partially because you can’t articulate what your deepest and most serious unmet need is to begin with and partially because advice about deep and serious unmet needs tends to be more general in nature, like a guideline rather than a rule. And guidelines are open for interpretation and demand analysis and your brain really can’t analyze one more single, solitary nugget of information. This is because you have already explored each and every scenario and the six resulting consequences of action or alternatively inaction and the result is that you are so perplexed that you’ve made yourself unwell and could really use an outside opinion right now. Which brings us back to the worst thing which is when you are getting advice from another person.

You is me, in this scenario, but you already knew that.

All of this is to say I have been an incredibly needy friend lately and my people are doing their best and just getting no where with me. And bless them for hearing me day in and day out and really hearing me, too, not just listening and nodding politely, but poking around in the muck with me and trying to buff out some of the rusty bits. In spite of their best efforts though, no one can give me what I really want which is a plan for what to do, right this second, this very moment in my life, where all of my choices have converged and I’m living in the now, attempting my very best to figure out what’s next.

I really believe that life happens in seasons and the great thing about a season is that it goes as surely as it comes. And in this season, I am trying to start my career in a new town and that’s a bit tough because no one knows me and what an asset I can be and who am I kidding I’m completely freaked out and feeling like a reject loser right now and “a bit tough” is the understatement of a lifetime just ask my husband who lives with me. Job searching is basically the Vulnerability Olympics. The stakes seem so high and panic feels too real and mostly, I have entirely too much time alone with my thoughts.

I have this conviction that in six months, I’m going to look back and say, “I wish I’d had a better attitude about that whole thing because it really would have been so much easier to manage . . .” but I can’t. Anxiety is like a smoke that moves closer to your chest every time you inhale. It creeps under the gaps of your doors and through the cracks in your windows and there aren’t enough lunch dates or bottles of wine or long baths with face masks to distract me from it forever. I mean, no one has that much personal power. I actually spend most of my day feeling guilty. Guilty that I feel badly or alternatively that I feel badly but not so terribly that I’m motivated to do anything. And have you ever actually felt bad and wanted to do thing that will make you feel better? If yes, let me assure you, there are deeper levels of feeling bad you’ve yet to reach.

Erstwhile, I am growing increasingly discontent and emotionally unstable and closer to drinking wine before noon. I feel like a top at the end of its spin, more wobbly with every turn. Soon, I think I’ll tip over and only a great, omnipotent hand will be able to set me to rights, spinning with purpose. I sense this season is nearing its natural end, but that’s the stickiness with anxiety and worry. It’s always asking, “Yes, but what if not?” It is disorienting to mistrust the voice in your own head. So I constantly seek external reassurance, asking everyone if it will be okay for me. And the answer is always “yes, yes you’ll be fine.” But that’s the thing about getting advice from another person, isn’t it?

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When I was younger, all I cared about was being liked. (Can I get an AMEN from my Yes Gals?)

That sounds a little dramatic but you can pretty much track most of my developmental years by seeing which thing I was trying out to discover, “Does this make me likable?”

I was a good student so that my parents and teachers would be proud of (like) me. I made snarky jokes so my friends would laugh with (like) me. I was the cheer captain, the student council president, the drum majorette so that people would notice (like) me.

I’ve come to a new conclusion: F*ck that.

I am immensely likable. I throw incredible parties and if I love you and you’ve done an okay job of loving me back, I’ll probably throw one in your honor. I love giving gifts and I regularly have a wrapped present on my desk at work and there is a good chance it might be for you. I think up excuses to send people hand written notes. I make really tasty banana bread and I always bake enough to share.

The point of this is to say that I have enough proof that I am likable. You should like me. And if you don’t, or if you did and decided that I wasn’t your cup of tea anymore, then you’ve just got bad taste. Bless. I am sincere and I care about you and if I’ve upset you and hurt you, if you are brave enough to tell me about it then I will be brave enough to apologize. I love to learn and be challenged and if I said something that you think is ignorant, if you are sensitive enough to call me out in a productive way, I’ll be generous enough to listen. If you just jumped on the Amanda Train and there’s something about me you want to know, and you ask me without agenda, I will tell you that story.

I don’t think that worrying about being liked has served me much. I think I have hung on to that litmus test (“Does this make me likable?”) for entirely too long and I’m letting it go. Today I get to celebrate 3 years of marriage and 8 years of happiness with Brett and I can tell you one thing: There was a time in my life when I didn’t think I deserved love, when I was insecure and alone and certain I would always be that way. I was entirely wrong and Brett proves it to me everyday. He loves me abundantly and he sure as hell likes me.

“You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

Hey. Thank you. Seriously. You guys are so legit. You know what is just as brave as me sharing my struggles? You calling me, texting me, messaging me to say, “Me too. I love you.” It is so amazing to do life with you.

I was ready to share yesterday was because I’ve been feeling better. When you are feeling better, you can have a sense of humor and some peace of mind that being vulnerable is a source for goodness, not fear. I know that you might not be feeling better yet, which is why it’s important for me to share. But feeling “better” does not mean “fixed” and actually, if you are a real human person and not a robot, then you know that “fixed” is a fallacy. It doesn’t matter if you are prone to anxiety or not, if you are an introvert or an extrovert, if you are a party animal or couch potato. You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head.

 

But you can keep them from building nests. Here is how I am trying to do that:

1) Self Care. I am a quitter. I love to quit things I don’t love. I dissociated my self worth from “sticking it out” a long time ago and as a result, I’m a bit of a prolific quitter. I quit softball in the 1st grade because I hated playing the catcher. I quit basketball in 8th grade because I hated running. I quit band after 7 years because I was tired of marching in parades. I am not, however, quitting Whole30. I’m not cheating, I’m not bending the rules, and I’m not going to stop now. This is a new paradigm for me and it is making me feel strong. It is making me feel in control. It is making me proud of myself. These are good feelings to have when you are getting all bajigitty about everything.

2) F*ck Feelings. This article from The Atlantic has given me a great deal of peace. Super feelers- give this a read. I am constantly seeking closure, comfort, understanding of why things have happened to me. The book featured in this article argues that such behavior is a fruitless endeavor. The point is: bad shit happens. We tend to misplace how much control we have in those scenarios. No amount of therapy is going to prevent the birds from flying over your head. And further, some people who have bad things happen to them become alcoholics, stop engaging with their families and friends, and quit their jobs. If you have had bad things happen to you and you’re still a functioning human, then that deserves some credit. This approach shifts the focus away from the psychological landscape towards our actions. You’re probably never going to understand why your parents suck so much, but if you got up and went work today- how much does that matter? Overthinkers, I expect you’ll relate to this. I do. You can keep those birds from building nests.

3) Ban “Anxiety.” This is a new practice for me and one I’ve ripped off completely from my friend Holly, who I’ve mentioned before is my personal beacon of wellness. She advises banning the word “stressed” from our vocabularies because, what does that even mean really? And can you imagine a life stage when you won’t be stressed? (Close your eyes and try it. You probably can’t.) If we pay more attention, moments of “stress” are often something much simpler. We might be tired. We might be hungry. We might be sad. And these things, unlike stress, have pretty simple fixes. Indeed for me, “anxiety” has quickly become a crutch. When I label every negative emotion as “anxiety,” I give away all my power to cope.

Indulge me while I share where most of my anxiety comes from. It is a voice in my head who says to me, “Hey fat girl. You’re fat and in case you thought differently, no one actually loves you. Fat people don’t belong here and you’re fat.” *wince* I hate that voice. But when I label it “anxiety” instead of “bullshit,” I give it authority it shouldn’t have. I can’t keep the birds from flying over head. But I can ask, “why don’t I feel good right now?” And I can take some initiative and ask, “What would make feel better that also respects my self care and prioritizes actions over feelings?” Don’t be surprised if you get a text or call from me saying, “I am feeling unloved. Let’s go get our nails done.”

It is not easy, friends. And nothing feels right when you don’t feel good. I know. Hugs make your skin crawl and food tastes like dust and being out in public feels like punishment. I know. Let’s promise each other when it gets this bad, we will reach out and say, “I’m not doing good right now and I just don’t know.” And our good friends will know that isn’t the time to say “Have you tried your top 3 tricks to fight anxiety?” Good friends will just be still with us and remind us that they are ride or die, even if we are anxious weirdos everyday for the rest of our lives. But when we do feel better, let’s also commit to accepting that birds will fly, but do the work to keep them from building nests on our precious heads.

I love you guys.

The Good and The Bad

Have you all noticed I’m living my best life lately? Have you seen all the cool places I’ve been? All the fun activities I’ve done? All the amazing people I’ve been with? Isn’t it so great and fun?

I promise I’m not being sarcastic. Those things really are great and fun. But (and isn’t there always a “but”) I’ll be honest with you (because that’s what I do here): I’m tired. I’ve also been sort of inexplicably sad and anxious lately. Sad and anxious in a way that is not very Amanda-like at all. I know myself really well. My favorite thing in the world is joyful heart. One of my very best friends once told me he considered me a “champion of happiness.” Couldn’t you die? Isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever heard? ME TOO. But lately, I have frequently had the feeling that some alien being has crawled in and set up camp in my person.

It isn’t upsetting, so much as unsettling. Have you struggled with anxiety friend? I thought I was familiar with it because I have fought panic attacks on and off throughout life, but this is something quite different. Several times in recent memory, I’ve been in a group setting (which I normally love) and prompted by nothing, I find myself on the verge of tears, struggling with total sensory overload, and overwhelmed with the desire to be alone in a quiet, dimly lit space. In these moments I think, “Oh please don’t let anyone look at me because if I meet someone’s eyes, they will look at me and they won’t see Amanda, they’ll see this otherness and I will have to explain why I’m sharing space with it and I don’t have an answer for that.” In these moments, the worst feeling in the world is to have attention drawn to myself and because it is so out of character for me to be withdrawn and lost for words, it is hard not to notice my behavior. In these moments, I’m able to recognize this otherness but I’m not able to do anything about it.

Outside of these “crisis” moments, I’m finding myself increasingly concerned about my appearance, anxious about my surroundings, and discontent with my relationships. Two months ago, I thought this was about my weight. I thought I was in a funk and struggling to deal with my hangups. I am now accepting that it is probably something more. I’m sharing this for a number of reasons, the first being that I write in order to cope and the second is that saying it “out loud” makes it real and when something is real, we recognize it and give it the space it requires. I think we are often guilty of trying to squeeze out the darkness in our lives. That is, if we don’t look at it, if we give it the cold shoulder, we can somehow out ghost our issues into nonexistence.

But if happiness is real (and I believe it is) and magic exists (and I believe it does) then, so is anxiety and oft ignored partner, depression. Ignoring these feelings won’t make them go away, and I’ve had enough loved ones with mental illness to know the consequence of going it alone. I am so supported and deeply loved and because of this, I am sharing authentically where I find myself. I am sharing because rather than having another glass of wine or calling in sick to work, I’m going to reach out for real professional help. And maybe get a prescription. Or maybe try some other coping strategies. I am sharing because I think the most important and brave thing we can do for each other is say, “It’s not good for everyone all the time and that’s okay.”

I’m in the middle of a Whole30 right now and whatever influence it might have, the act of prioritizing self-care has felt really good. The creators of Whole30 argue that the food you eat is either making you more healthy or less healthy. This feels true of everything. Nothing is neutral. Our behaviors, our attitudes, our habits are either making us more well or less well. The past few months I have felt fragile when I am used to feeling bold. But I think in that smallness, I’ve been able to plant seeds of peacefulness. I started this post at the beginning of the month and felt compelled to let myself rest for a bit before sharing. I am sharing now because I think it’s a good thing to talk about. I am not without joy and most importantly, I am not without love. But we rarely are. What we often experience is a deep fog that prevents us from grabbing on to those truths. I am getting in the habit of making choices that feel good to me and I think this is a small step towards quieting the niggling voice of self-doubt and fear that can persist in all of us.

A Capsule Wardrobe that Isn’t

I started my entire minimalism movement inspired by the ideas of a capsule wardrobe. I loved the thought of having beautiful, high quality clothing and having a lot less of it all together. And that’s exactly what I’ve created. I have a teeny, tiny wardrobe. But no capsule.

What I mean to say is that unlike other capsule wardrobe projects, I don’t have anything waiting for me “off-capsule,” if you will. When I started, I pulled items for my spring capsule, pared down clothes I didn’t really want, and set aside pieces that I liked, but wasn’t sure about. Summer or fall capsule items, I thought.Yet as time went on, I reevaluated those items with a more skeptical eye. Why weren’t they special enough to be first draft picks? Ultimately, the answer was because they were ill-fitting, declining in quality, or simply no longer my taste. It gradually became clear to me that those feelings wouldn’t change with the seasons, so out they went.

The only pieces I own that aren’t hanging my closet are bulky, cold weather sweaters. There are 4 seasons in Missouri: Snow, Rain, July, and Oh my gosh it’s so nice today can you believe how nice it is today I love this weather this is great weather. I wear variations of the same thing year-round. As the weather cools, I throw tights on under my skirts. As the weather warms, I roll up my jeans and wear them with t-shirts and lightweight blouses rather than sweaters. Flats, button down tops, pencil skirts, blue jeans, v-neck tees, are worn in every season.

It didn’t make sense to set aside anything for future capsules. I didn’t love that much of my closet anyway. The summer season is approaching and here’s what I intend to buy:

J.Crew Button Down (a variation of my beloved white shirt)
High-waist Denim Shorts (I’m going to try them. There’s a good chance they get sent back, but I’m trying to be brave)
Madewell d’Orsay Flats (I finally pitched a very smelly pair of black flats and my others aren’t far behind. The work shoe situation demands attention.)
High-waist Bikini (As you can imagine, Brett has thrown the full weight of his support behind this purchase)
SOMETHING TO WEAR TO A BARBECUE, OUT TO DINNER, AND A WEDDING. Y’all, I’m struggling here. I’m gravitating towards a jumpsuit. Maybe this one, or this one, or this one. (HELP.)

And that’s it. It’s not an inexpensive list of items to be sure. But they’ll all fit in very nicely with my current wardrobe, which though small, I’ve been getting along with quite nicely. Recently a friend asked me if my capsule wasn’t actually bigger than normal, because she’d never seen me wear the same thing twice. (I can assure you this is not true. I’m actually wearing the same pair of pants today that I wore yesterday. I considered adding another pair of slacks to my list, but decided I should just shave my legs so I can wear a skirt instead. Minimalism you guys. It’s a whole thing.)

So maybe don’t stress if you haven’t dominated your closet situation as swiftly as you’d like. You don’t need a perfectly seasonal and rotating selection of highly curated clothes. My recommendation is to trim until it’s easy to get dressed in the morning and you always have something to wear that you love. It’s working for me!

 

 

 

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Kon-Mari Method

Minimalism. Can we talk about this? Because, I am exhausted.

Brett and I took Monday and Tuesday off work to give our house the Kon-Mari once over. An hour into Day One, I was exhausted.

I’ve been overly confident, y’all. I felt that because I had been expressive and vulnerable here, I was prepared to do the work. I expected it to be joyful, simple, and most importantly- quick. I established myself as an authority on minimalism, without actually becoming a practicing minimalist first. (I do this…)

But, I want to encourage you in the face of what I was feeling. Because I think this is so worthwhile.

The most accurate way to describe my reaction was “All. The. Feels.”

Oh my gosh we have so much stuff. Why do we have so much stuff? I just bought that. Why did I buy that? What a waste! I’m such a waster! I’m tired. Why did I think this would be fun? This isn’t fun. Why do we have so much stuff?

And so on. I was overwhelmed immediately, but this is because (as previously established) I tend to ignore hard facts and idealize EVERYTHING. My blessed, sweet husband was patient and encouraging and didn’t pick on me at all. And when I said, I need a break, he said just the right thing which was, Let’s get ice cream. 

We started with clothes and y’all- I am STILL pulling unworn items from my capsule. I yanked a pair of navy khakis, a black sweater, and a button down from my current capsule and just about everything from my “off season” capsule except sweaters that are too damn hot to wear. If it didn’t make the capsule in Round One, I don’t love it. If I have 30 items in my closet and I still ignore certain pieces, then I really don’t love them. Out they go.

Papers were easy but caught me off guard. I was diligent in keeping anything I felt might be important and what remained was a time capsule of my first years of adulthood. An $800 receipt for the black 1994 Escort LX coupe that my dad bought my senior year of high school. (You guys, this was a big deal for us. $800 was a lot of money. I can’t even.)  The award letter for my Bright Flight scholarship. The lease on my first college apartment. The insurance paperwork from when my car was totaled. (Not the Escort. That junker died in the Target parking lot on my way home from work. I bought a beautiful Nissan Altima and some jerk t-boned me on a rainy day 2 months later.) Our marriage license and the applications for our passports. Except our marriage license (natch), these all went in the “shred” pile, but there was something startlingly emotional about flipping through them in succession. I was glad when we finished up.

Komono was, well, everything. We went room by room (to make it manageable) and it took every bit of two days. We emptied cabinets, cleared shelves, dug things out of nooks and our living room is now patently full of goodies for our garage sale on Saturday. (We’re having a garage sale on Saturday!).

Fatty was a big fan of all the available boxes for sitting.

Fatty was a big fan of all the available boxes for sitting.

Mid-day Monday, I was pretty sure there was no chance I’d have the energy to deal with mementos, but by Tuesday afternoon I was so ready to be DONE that I powered through. We kept scrapbooks and photo albums (probably not in total alignment with the Kon-Mari method, but it works for us). I sorted through a plastic bin of photos and Brett and I both determined we didn’t need the hall pass from Kindergarten or the card from our 13th birthday party signed “Joe and Jane.” (Who are Joe and Jane? Where did this card come from? Why did I keep this?) We even sorted through cards and letters we’ve written each other over the years and only kept the most special. (Brett noticed a somewhat concerning pattern which is that about half my cards begin with “Sorry I’ve been such a bitch lately…”)

I threw away a lot of photos. I had an astonishing quantity of photos of 1) People I am not friends with anymore; 2) Places I do not remember being; and 3) Me doing things I should not have been taking photos of (drinking, smoking, breaking into circuses). Emotionally, this was an easy task because if I ever go into politics (I won’t), the blackmail material is significantly lighter.

I’m ready for next week. I’m ready to clear the debris from my home, to pay someone to give it a deep clean, and to settle into the maintenance phase- which I am the most eager and anxious for. I think I’m ready to call myself a minimalist, but I’m certain that there so much more to uncover in these new stages than I could ever expect.

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Little Lessons That Have Served Me

I am 26 years old which is a remarkably young age and an incredibly silly time to be telling anyone anything. But you weirdos seem to enjoy reading along and since we’re having such a good time doing life together, I thought I would share my best Fortune Cookie Advice. This article is one of my favorites, and I search for it and reference it constantly. Here is what I have learned about the world and what I might write in the card I’ll mail you on your birthday.


Being funny is the second fastest way to connect with someone. Being sincere is the first.

You won’t land your dream job at 22 after college graduation. It’s not that you don’t deserve it, it’s that you wouldn’t recognize it if you saw it then anyway.

You can do almost anything if you’re confident enough- like wearing shoes that don’t match the rest of your outfit or starting your own business.

If it doesn’t feel right, you won’t enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, it won’t feel right.

You have something someone else wants. You want something someone else has. This is the way of things. There’s no getting around it unless you live in a hole, in which case, someone else will be wishing they could live in a hole like you do.

Laughing at yourself is disarming. Laughing at someone else is the most efficient way to get shut out.

It’s okay to be a secretary, an assistant director, a landscape designer, and a grant writer all in 5-years. I can’t tell you where you might go from there, but I can tell you that it’s okay to have gone wherever you have been.

Things you should apologize for: making a tasteless joke, taking the cheap shot, breaking an unwritten rule (even if your relationship can weather it.)

Things you should not apologize for: leaving a job when it’s stopped being useful in your life (challenging, enjoyable, financially rewarding), saying “No”, changing your mind.

Your relationships will track in some interesting ways. If you’re both willing to stop short when headed down the wrong path, be appropriately bashful, and laugh about it later, you two will probably be okay.

Knowing the difference between a crisis and a transition is incredibly freeing. Losing your job, cancelling the contract on a new home, saying goodbye to good friends- these can all be profound disappointments but manageable when your family is safe.

Performing a kindness for another person is the currency of life. Casseroles are universally legal tender.

And lastly . . .

River City Rubber Works: Pee

How to Say No (Or rather, Why We Say Yes)

Can I see a show of hands from my Yes Gals? (Don’t worry, I won’t sign you up for anything!)

GIRLS. (And guys.) Is it just me or are we really seeing each other lately? We are speaking our truths and holding safe space for one another and good stuff is happening. (Tangentially, I love to write for the “me-too-moments”. Thanks for speaking up and saying “Me too!” It gives me so much joy.)

I think my last post hit a few of you in the feels. I’m not surprised because high tide rises all ships and I’m in constant awe of the amazing folks around me. We’re an unstoppable group. But maybe it’s not what we are doing, but why we do it that’s left some of us with a long list of to-dos and a short list of joys.

You are speaking out to me and saying “My relationships are not benefiting from the way I spend my time.” (MINE EITHER).
You are saying, “I have goals I can’t get to because I’m too busy with residual commitments.” (ME TOO).
You are saying, “Why aren’t I spending more time drinking on my patio?” (I DON’T KNOW.)

I have been in countless meetings, pen in hand, eyes averted, repeating to myself “Do not sign up. Do not sign up. Do not sign up.” It works about 40% of the time. I wrote about making space back in February and candidly, I’ve been struggling with it for a long time. How can we learn to deal?

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I think it might pay us to ask ourselves, why do we say “yes” so often anyway?

I don’t presume to speak for us all, Yes Gals, but here are my sneaking suspicions:

1. We want to be liked. I prefer to be seen as a reliable, interesting, well-rounded woman. With clever ideas. And a delicious brownie recipe. Who always wears nice shoes. The more I commit to, the more opportunity I have to impress. If I impress you, then you’ll like me. Right?

I suspect my Yes Gals are often grown up Teacher’s Pets. The “people pleaser” gene is dominant in our DNA and approval translates to acceptance. I’m not accusing us of all being insecure, but we are probably all a little bit insecure.

2. We’re arrogant. Somehow, alongside our insecurities, lives our arrogance. Yes Gals are a proud tribe. Put quite simply, we live by the mantra that “If you want something done right, just put it down right now and let me handle it, please.” We love to be seen as altruistic and there’s no question that we are generous, affectionate, and passionate. But curiously enough, we’re also certain that we are unique in our abilities to conduct a business meeting, host a reception, or plan a fundraising campaign.

There’s something unnerving about the idea of letting someone else have the reins. When the “Is anyone available for this” call is put out, we simultaneously imagine how successful it will be under our direction and what a mess it could become if someone else speaks up first.

3. We ignore the dataWe’ve planned an awful lot of parties in our day, haven’t we Yes Gals? We’re good planners because we’re creative. Creative folks have the perfect birthday banner tucked away and an idea for a cake that is going to just blow the lid off. We dream in showers and perfectly executed meeting agendas and awards banquets. We spend less time evaluating the facts.

We forget that everything takes longer than we think it will. We forget that we’ve never decorated a 6-tiered cake before. We pretend that we are obligated to follow through on a task that we didn’t have to commit to in the first place. We ignore our husbands (and wives) saying, “Wait a minute… Didn’t you just LEAVE a committee? Why are you chairing a new one?!” Mercy.


Here’s who benefits from our whacked out priorities: No one. Not our committee members who can tell we silently resent every volunteer meeting we sit through. Not our spouses who would love to get in some couch time with us. Not our personal goals that gather dust as another season passes. Not our spirits that deserve more tender treatment. We are only robbing from ourselves.

I don’t presume to know the best way to say more No and less Yes. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves, Yes Gals: We get high off the praise, we’re addicted to the attention, and we crave the acceptance. It might come in a pretty wrapper, but in my case, the day planner has some dirty little secrets to tell.

I, for one, deserve better. And you, reader and friend, do too. And so do your communities (your partners, families, friends). I pledge to commit only to that which sparks joy and to follow through for the right reasons. Our generosity should not be born of guilt and our gifts should not be given from obligation.

Yes Gals- welcome to the year of Thanks for Thinking of Me, but No.

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My Spring 2015 Capsule

This capsule wardrobe is a real thing huh? I love hearing about your own journeys with this. I think a bunch of us are SO THERE. Spring is a season of growth. Ideas are percolating and we are establishing roots to weather the coming seasons. We are coming out of hibernation and when the sun beams into our windows,  we want the light to shine on the best of our homes, our relationships, and our intentions.

I haven’t been feeling very good lately. I’ve been really sensitive and quite emotional and to be candid, downright glum some days. The truth is, I’m a really happy person so I’m sitting with a lot of discomfort. My preference is to be cheerful and I struggle on days that are difficult to choose joy. These ideas about minimalism feel like a gift, however, because I see a path to reduce distraction and useless clutter. I see a path to recognizing that I am and that I have enough. I hope your journeys are taking you to the destination you need to reach as well. I recently finished “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (and shared it with Brett!) If, like me, you want to practice the principles of minimalism beyond the boundaries of your closet, I strongly recommend you give it a read.

As promised, this is my post about the spring capsule I carved out for myself from my closet. Admittedly, I think a LOT about that “type” of person I want to be, so the “style” dialogue was not as hard for me as I think it’s been for some of you. (Here’s a post about how to start that conversation.) I added a few pieces in and pulled a whole lot out- this is what’s left.

My capsule is 32 pieces: 18 tops, 10 bottoms, 2 dresses, and 2 jackets. (Here’s a post about what I decided to include and why.)

Tops: 5 button downs, 3 long sleeve shirts, 2 sweatshirts, 4 silky tops, and 4 tee shirts/tanks. 
FullSizeRenderBottoms: 1 grey maxi skirt, 2 pencil skirts, 1 midi skirt, 1 mini skirt, 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of black skinnies, 1 pair of black skimmers, and 1 pair of navy khakis. FullSizeRender-2Dresses: 1 maxi dress, 1 cotton shift dress

FullSizeRender-4Jackets: 1 denim jacket, 1 lightweight jacket FullSizeRender-3Extras*: 1 black purse, 1 brown purse, 1 dress clutch, 1 casual clutch, 4 scarves, 1 black belt, 1 brown belt
*(I didn’t include accessories in my overall capsule count, but I did reduce them pretty dramatically.)

FullSizeRender-5As you can see, it’s startlingly blue. And I hope, quite versatile. There are only a few pieces that I couldn’t wear to work (Slytherin sweatshirt, I’m looking at you) and only a few that I wouldn’t wear at home (those skimmers just scream business casual…)

The real work starts now- in being creative and joyful when dressing, deliberately choosing to love what I own, and saying no to clothes shopping until it’s time to build my summer capsule for July. Brett and I plan to implement the KonMari method to our entire apartment, so my focus in the coming weeks is discarding.

I hope you are staying encouraged and finding ways to implement practices that are meaningful to you. If you need a cheerleader- you know where to find me!

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Style Insights

I can’t tell you anything about sustaining a wardrobe capsule yet. I’m sorry. I just started this project last weekend. HOWEVER. I can tell you a lot about getting started. Because I just did that. Get started that is. Last weekend.

I think a barrier to wardrobe capsules is the need to lean heavily on a cultivated sense of style. Everyone gets dressed, but only a few have “style” and those few are lifestyle bloggers who are paid to get dressed and have someone take their photo in an alley behind their apartment (Is it their husbands? Boyfriends? Why are they all dating photographers? How did they talk them into this idea? Don’t they have jobs? When do they take these photos? This doesn’t seem like a realistic model to me.)

If you’re someone who just gets dressed, it seems like a bad idea to whittle down your options to a handful of tops and bottoms and one pair of very trendy ankle boots. It seems like the potential for showing up to work naked one day is getting more real all the time. And while the idea of “style” sounds somewhat intriguing, it might also sound entirely exhausting.

I totally get that, but I also think you’re probably wrong.

Are you on Pinterest? (Yes, you are.) Do you have a fashion board? (Yes, you do.) This is where your “style” lives and breathes. If you’re lucky, your style might periodically camp out in your closet, but most of the time, it’s writing rent checks to Pinterest because that is where it lives. Your fashion board represents your perfect closet. If you had unlimited resources to devote to “style”- this is how you would dress.

And if you are me- there are a dozen outfits that include a navy striped t-shirt. And 10 with chambray button downs. And 15 with cotton maxi skirts. What I’m telling you is that a pattern will emerge. All you have to do is find it.

And when you find it, appreciate it. What are the commonalities? What drew you to those outfits? What do you already own that reflects that pattern? (Hopefully quite a bit.) What do you own that doesn’t? (Hopefully less.)

I spent about an hour reviewing my “Style File” board. There are over 150 pins and I’ve been saving ideas for a few years now. I want to share my “style” insights with you, so that you can do the same and take the plunge towards a happy minimalist closet.

  • It should be mostly black, mostly white, or mostly denim. Mostly. Except when it’s navy.
  • Pair something flowy with something structured. Or something structured with something structured. Never all flowy.
  • Stripes are good. In fact, stripes are a neutral. Geometric patterns are also nice. Florals are pretty in theory but not in purchase.
  • More cognac leather.
  • Comfort is king.
  • Statement necklaces should be worn with sweaters. In the fall. When it’s cold. Delicate jewelry goes with everything else.
  • Variations on a theme:
    White, Grey, Black
    Navy, Chambray, Denim
    Pink, Coral, Red
  • Layers = a jacket . Maybe a scarf. Maybe.
  • Skirts are a safe place.
  • Winning combinations = Black + Brown; White + Denim
  • Buy a black moto jacket this fall.

My ideal style is preppy, classic, and urban (rather than boho, earthy, or trendy, for example.) If you stood in front of your closet today and picked an outfit that made you feel stylish, put together, comfortable, and happy- I bet it would mirror so many of those pins on your style boards.

I think this is a good risk-free first step and I think you’ll surprise yourself. Long live style! In closing, here’s my ideal outfit:

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Black, chambray and the leather jacket of my dreams.

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