The Ripple Effects of Minimalism

If you’ve committed to a capsule wardrobe, you might have done so with the subconscious (or conscious!) realization that your closet is hardly the only place in your home that’s been neglected by excessive materialism. After reading Marie Kondo’s book, I noticed that nearly every nook and cranny in my apartment was the resting place for something that I didn’t love, or find useful, or believe to be beautiful. (Which is a really pretty way of saying I have a bunch of CRAP.)

It’s suffocating.

Brett and I have committed to KonMari our entire apartment. We’ve taken a day off work in June to do a full court press. (BECAUSE WE’RE LIKE THAT). We’ve started in on Clothes and Books, and we’ll spend our long weekend addressing Papers, Komono, and Mementos.

Simply by starting a capsule wardrobe and cleaning up our bookshelves, we are already enjoying the first benefits of minimalism. We have noticeably less laundry. (PRAISE BE UNTO HIM) Packing for a trip is simple. Getting dressed is easy. We’ve decided to sell our book collection and already pocketed $20! (Which we will add to our travel fund, a true source of joy for the Mosers). (Traveling. Not squirreling away money. No one LIKES saving money.)

Marie Kondo recommends handling each item in your home and accessing it individually. Track your reaction- does it spark joy? And don’t stop at your house.

That committee you are in- “Pick” it up, does it spark joy? That invitation to a weekend trip- when you examine it, how does it make you feel? Your cable subscription, your collection of old Cosmo magazines, your bookshelf full of dusty shot glasses- does it bring you joy to simply own them? Even if you never use them?

In a recent conversation with Brett, I stated- “I want to count my commitments on one hand.”

1. My personal life. (Brett, my friends, drinking on the patio, grilling hot dogs, helping plan my best friend’s wedding)
2. My work. (Which is a joy, a challenge, a pleasure.)
3. My education. (I’m going back to school in August!)
4. My service. (Which I’ve scaled back to include a committee in my young professionals group and a position on the Chamber of Commerce board.)
5. A rotating position for time delineated events. If I’m hosting a birthday party this month, then I’m sorry, I can’t help plan a community service event.

There’s a good chance this sounds silly to you. (Actually, for your sake, I hope it does.) But as a “yes” gal from way-back, it’s transformative for me to declare, My time is the most important. 

Call it a toast to selfishness, but if you need me this summer, I’ll be drinking on my patio, grilling hot dogs and planning my best friend’s wedding. I hope you’re making time to do exactly the things you want to do as well!

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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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Wardrobe Capsule Phase One

I did two things almost immediately after sitting on this minimalism thing for a while.

1. Unsubscribe to every single promotional email that might tempt me.
2. Make a work plan. Call it my work culture, but I just can’t get worked up about a goal if there’s no methodology to back it up.

It is important to me to affect real change in my habits. Every 3 months or so, I make a sweep of my closet and donate clothes I don’t love or that don’t fit anymore. Doesn’t that sound great? It does, but it begs the question- why do I have to keep making passes and why have I acquired so much that I don’t love since my last pass?

Danger Will Robinson.

So while I loved the idea of a wardrobe capsule, it feels very much like the first step of a long journey. I call our action plan the “Moser Family Power Plan” which is the shortened title of the “Minimize Our Space In Order To Live In Our Power Plan.” I’ve talked to you about living in my power right? Well, I think for the Mosers living in our power means hosting friends for dinner on the patio and making playlists and singing together and travelling and laughing laughing laughing. Living in our power doesn’t reflect any material accumulation.

Our plan has five steps: Basic Clean Up, Wardrobe Capsule, Total Elimination, Upgrades, and Sustainability. Sustainability matters the most to me, but the wardrobe capsule is the most fun, so I’ll share more about that here.

You probably saw this photo I shared on Facebook. Pulling everything from my closet was a bit of a reality check and if I had any suspicion that I might not need this, I was quickly galvanized. I sorted everything and started 3 piles: Into My Capsule, Out of Season, and Get Out Of My House. I used Un-Fancy as a guide and kept her rule in mind: “Would I pick this over my favorite item of clothing in my closet?” If this answer was “no”, it went in the donate/sell pile. If the answer was “maybe” or “not in this weather”, I set it aside for storage. What remained were my favorites: basic, versatile, and good quality.

Here’s what didn’t make the cut for spring, but I’m hanging on to for future capsules. If I decide not to include items in any capsule by the end of the year, I’ll donate those “maybe” items that eventually revealed themselves as duds. (Yes, that’s a cat Christmas sweater. Winter Capsule!)

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Here’s what is headed out the door. It includes two pairs of ankle boots that while cute, I would never pick over my $6 Chelseas from Gap (pictured above), two bright colored belts, some J.Crew tank tops that are too short, khaki shorts (I don’t belong to the country club, so I don’t know why I dress like I do), several skirts, and a brightly colored tunic I purchased after our trip to Mexico under the false impression that what looks great at a resort looks great at home. (It doesn’t.)

FullSizeRenderAnd here’s what stayed! IMG_9604I’ll do a full Spring Capsule post later, but I want to share some of my “rules”. My biggest piece of advice for getting started? Keep an open mind and let your wardrobe do the talking.

  • Right off, I decided to stick with 1 capsule. While I don’t have the luxury of working from home, I pride myself on buying very versatile pieces that fit my business casual work style and (what I liked to think of) as my polished, classic causal style. I didn’t want to manage two separate wardrobes, but I really let my existing wardrobe make this decision for me. When I laid it all out, two capsules wasn’t necessary.
  • I haven’t settled on a number of pieces yet, but I think it will be around 35. I shopped for a handful of key pieces this weekend (J.Crew Factory for the win) and I want to bring those in and see what I end up with.
  • I didn’t include: accessories, jewelry, workout clothes, underthings, party dresses, or shoes. But I did pare these items down and I did set aside scarves for the season. I don’t own many shoes and I tend to shop for function over form in that department. I do intend, however, to keep a watchful eye on what I do and don’t wear so I can toss extras out at the end of the season. Right now I have a pair of white Converse, three pairs of flats- black, camel, and pink, black sandals, brown sandals, a pair of Sperrys, and a pair of Minnetonkas on regular rotation.
  • Versatility is key. I gravitate towards a few basic staples in primary colors- black, white, grey, navy, red. Nearly every piece works with every other and this brought the panic level way down. If you pull everything and don’t see a pattern, it’s probably worth doing some thought exercises to hone in on “your style.” You’re probably more predictable then you realize.
  • I considered this a late start on a Spring Capsule, which will take me through May and June. My summer capsule will be July, August, and September.

My overall goal is to increase quality and decrease quantity. No more bargain shopping, no more flash sales. Any purchases should add value to my wardrobe. Finally, this is what I wore to work today.. Wardrobe Capsule Day One. And the truth is, I would have picked this out from the rubble anyway. IMG_9607

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Do You Believe That You’re Enough?

I’m noticing a thread that runs through my life. It reveals itself in my fears, my worries.

I don’t believe that I’m enough.

You might have seen this post on Facebook last night. I loved it, but when I explored Un-Fancy, the blogger who inspired her closet re-do, I was captivated. Minimalism.

Brett and I were drinking coffee in the living room this morning and I asked if he thought we could live as minimalists. I asked, If there were a fire in this room, is there anything here that you would save before running out? (EXCLUDING THE CAT. PEOPLE, I’M NOT A MONSTER). (Stella was asleep upstairs. She’s not part of the thought experiment. I’m not a bad pet parent, she just doesn’t have a meaningful role in this scenario.) Both of us admitted, NOPE. In spite of the fact that we’ve talked about this concept over and over, we haven’t acted on any of it.

Caroline, who writes Un-Fancy, shares this lesson: When things aren’t adding up, start subtracting” 

I started to think about why I’m such a shopaholic. Why I fill my house with things I could set fire to. Why I don’t save more/spend less. Where I put energy, resources, time.

This year Brett and I are travelling to some amazing places to see some beautiful people- experiences I will remember the rest of my life. Doesn’t investing in those moments serve me more richly? Doesn’t that hold more value than a scarf I will eventually leave in the backseat of a cab? (Rhetorical questions because OF COURSE IT DOES.)

Or more importantly, if I took away all the material trappings – Is my life enough? Are my relationships enough? Am I enough? 

It might seem a stretch to tie this back to my body issues but the truth is, I fight with myself because I don’t believe I’m enough. I don’t trust my body. Naked, I have no value. I need black flats and leather bags and blog posts and work-out-weight-loss challenges to cloth me in worthiness.

I’m starting to challenge this notion and I’m deciding where to go with it. My gut instinct when I want to try something new is to “gear up.” Literally. But what if I let go instead? What if instead of buying a new yoga mat I went on more walks wearing shoes I already own? What if I made literal space by getting rid of those floral skirts I haven’t worn since I was 22? What if I stopped shopping for a new piece of artwork for my bedroom and loved on my husband a bit more? What if I was already capable of taking care of myself? What if I’m already just the way I ought to be?

This is heavy stuff y’all. This is a chat over coffee and a talk at lunch and a pow wow with a glass of wine. It’s a lot. It really is. Thank you for being my community as I work through some of these weird things. Isn’t be 26 (or 36 or 66 or 96) the strangest thing?

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We had a bad morning.

I say this in case for some reason you have been caught up in our #mosersonparade world and are under the false impression that Brett and I are living in an Instagram filter all day.

We are not.

I love to share the fun stuff because it makes me happy. It helps me remember. It reminds me what’s good and what my gifts are. But there are a lot of things that aren’t fun too. A lot of that is private and really personal. But it’s important too. And talking about it helps Fight Perfection. Presenting authenticity is part of my Why. I love doing life with y’all and I want you to trust me and to know me well.

Today Brett and I got in a fight about a poop joke. I wish I was being silly, but I’m just not.

(I thought about writing this post without going into details. But I just couldn’t. It didn’t seem right. I’m sorry.)

It was like this: Brett made some off the cuff remark about me hitting up the bathroom twice this morning (IS THIS MY BAD KARMA COMING BACK AT ME?!) and I made some snarky joke back and the next thing you know, he’s sulking and I’m calling him out and he’s hollering and I am like WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO I SHOULD HAVE MOVED TO SPAIN AND NEVER GOTTEN MARRIED.

I’m going to share something I’m not proud of: I go for the low blow 100% of the time. If the shot is available to me, I take it.

Brett: “I just feel like no one ever takes me seriously.”
Amanda: “No one takes you seriously because you whine like a little bitch all the time.”

I am, truly, a garbage person.

But it gets better. We get to work, hop on Google Chat, and KEEP FIGHTING.

Brett calls me a bully. (He’s right) I call him a coward. We are both being just the worst. We finally back down and get tired and realize that things have gotten a fuzz out of hand. We’re both mad at each other for not letting it go and giving the other person a pass. Sometimes we are okay at this. Other times, we really drop the ball.

It’s tough to live with your best friend. Knowing everything about them often means you have all the ammunition to kick them when they’re down. My standard relationship advice is “Be patient and be kind,” and I was neither of those things this morning and it sucked. Nothing is at once more terrible and more satisfying than hurting the ones we love.

We tend to be extra gentle after a round of emotional boxing and we bought lunch and ate at a park and talked about Airplane! and our very favorite Little Debbie’s snacks (Oatmeal Cream Pies-Amanda, Cosmic Brownies-Brett). We bought a plant for my office. We probably won’t fight again for weeks. We will say Hey I love you a lot and go to the movies and send each other cards and hold hands on the couch. The good stuff. The #mosersonparade stuff.

I want to give you this story because I want to tell you that you are not horrible. You and your partner aren’t fighting more than any other couple in the history of the world ever has. You are not missing out on happily ever after because you’re single. Life is hard work and the maintenance is unbelievable. I love to share about the real stuff in person with my friends when I can because we are all just learning together, but in case we can’t sit on the patio with a glass of wine, I wanted to tell you. The Mosers are painfully human.

I hope the sun is shining when you read this because that’s a gift to everybody. So is being honest and broken but looking for moments of redemption. I love you. Happy Friday.

I’m not a grown up, but I’m starting to learn some things about growing up. When I was younger (and maybe you can relate), I was pretty certain that I would mature as I accomplished milestones. Brett and I refer to this as “checking things off the list.”

Go to college- Check
Get married- Check
Buy a house- Check
Have a baby- Check
(In that order…)

I was under the impression that the hallmark experience of aging was moving through this checklist. I would feel more like an adult at each stage. I would be more mature once I owned a home than I was when I was renting. The pinnacle of self-actualization was giving birth, and so on.

You may have come to realize this is patently untrue. If you haven’t, allow me to say- catch up.

The true universal experience of getting older? In my opinion (and let’s be honest, that’s what you’re here for), is the slow, sweet fading of caring even a little bit what other people think. (Or, in the language of my generation- having no fucks to give.)

I think this process starts in your early 20s, a fraught and judgmental time, when you slowly step out of the fog of being a monster (teenager) and start thinking the most important thing in life is defining yourself. As you turn the lens inward, you are at once ceasing to turn it outward and your concern about how your friends are spending their evenings or your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend who is a ballet dancer or some shit just stop mattering. I might refer to this as “Not My Business Syndrome.” If you knew you a friend’s partner was cheating on them, and you hesitated for even a moment about telling them… then you know what I’m referring to. It’s a keen sense of “I’d Rather Not Get Involved-itis.” As you obsess about the minutia about what having bangs says about you to the world (trendy, fussy, unconcerned about having a sweaty forehead), you allow less space for things that used to really matter. It was at this point I stopped disagreeing with my friends all the time and realized that maybe they weren’t actually my friends to begin with.

Your mid-20s are a time when the scatter map of your peers is widespread and disorienting. You are both jealous of the Christmas Card family and disgusted. You pity your single friends and their Tinder disasters but envious of the freedom, the stories, the unwritten endings. This is the time of getting fired for tweeting about your boss. This is the time of losing your job at a start-up that went under. This is the time of moving to Portland. This is the time of realizing that “defining yourself” is thinly veiled narcissism.

And, if you’re me, and in this scenario you are, you approach a milestone and in some cases succeed (Brett Moser) and in other cases fail spectacularly (have you heard the story about us trying to buy a house?) and uncover that what happens inside a decision rarely looks the same from outside a decision. You arrive at the conclusion that life is intensely personal. Everything is a Monet. You may be lucky enough to find a person to share that mess with, but you slowly stop worrying about cleaning it up for the comfort of others.

As a people pleaser, this has been a bit of a revelation for me. In unpacking some complexities that live within me, I have felt less obligated to present my feelings up in such a way that is easily digestible for everyone else, because, bluntly, I don’t owe that to anyone. I love to communicate and I love to connect and share. This is an inherent piece of me. But whether my story resonates with you says very little about me and much more about you and as I age, I worry less and less about editing it so that it will. (Allow me to pause here to kindly say, I love you. You matter to me. I want to hold space for you. All these things can be true at the same time.)

It’s this sense of “You do you” or rather “I do me” that feels a bit like a universal truth. Not everyone owns a home. Some people don’t want to be parents. But the best of us, gradually and sincerely, recognize our own power, stop renting space to the opinions of strangers, and free ourselves up to learn the lessons of the next decade.

For my 9th birthday, (which was in 1997) someone (probably my grandma) gave me an American Girl journal (which became the first of many embarrassing documents in which I would chronicle how weird I was.) (True story- in one journal I brought home from Disney World-bright orange paper, front cover with FUR- I started signing it “Alex” and made a notation that I really liked that name and so would be signing my entries with the pseudonym from here on. WAT?)

Here’s what I can tell you about that journal (I still have it. I referenced it today.) I was in the 3rd grade. I wore a white long-sleeve t-shirt and a denim vest for school pictures. I lied about weighing 97 pounds. (Tangentially here, Dear American Girl Inc. circa Late 1990s. WHY ARE YOU ASKING LITTLE GIRLS HOW MUCH THEY WEIGH? THIS IS A BAD IDEA.) I wanted to be 1 of 3 things when I grew up: an Olympic diver, a lawyer, or a fashion designer.

Two of those things I can explain. To me, a lawyer or a fashion designer epitomized a woman who could GET SHIT DONE. To become a lawyer or a fashion designer or a fashion designing lawyer, I would have to be smart, driven, ambitious, and super freaking classy and chic. These were the things that at 9 years old I believed I was not only capable of becoming but also felt predestined for. I WAS NINE. Which explains the third career path of Olympic diver which is a little bit of a stretch, but at age 9 there were two things I loved to do: swim and read. That was pretty much it. I was only marginally interested in anything else. So diving professionally (at an Olympic level no less…) was pretty much my definition of paradise.

Here’s another funny thing about that journal. I went back later and crossed out my old answers to write in new ones that I felt reflected my more mature, developed self. (Including but not limited to correcting the spelling on my answer to “What’s the hardest part of growing up” which was “Responsabilitie”). That gives me a lot of heart feelings because, I’ve obviously been this way for a very long time. This need to self-refine is a thread that has woven through every stage of my life. At age 10, my childish 9 year old ways were a blemish on the bright young woman I was becoming and it wouldn’t stand to preserve those errors. Even on paper. To myself. Good grief. There’s some evidence that suggests that our personalities are more or less the same from childhood onward. Anecdotally, this seems true for me.

I have wondered lately, what 1997 Amanda would think of me. Sometimes, it is of great concern that I might be a disappointment to her. She would be horrified by how fat I’ve gotten. There’s no doubt she was CERTAIN that we would have gotten that thing on lock by 26. There just would have been too many other things to worry about, like winning Gold at Rio. I think she might be a little embarrassed that I didn’t make it any farther than the town with the Wal-Mart 20 minutes from home. I think she would be surprised to find out that compulsive journaling would translate into a love of writing and story telling and that I would actually pursue those ends rather than going pre-law or fashion and merchandising. She would LOVE Brett and I think be quite impressed with him. 1997 Amanda loved a good laugh. (That actually never changes.) 

I’ve been thinking about time management and energy management (there might be a post in there somewhere) and of course, as you know from journeying on with me, I never stop thinking about the woman I am and the woman I might become. But there is something that creates great pause in me when I consider the girl I was. And her dreams. And her hang ups. And her imagination. I want so sincerely to live up to her expectations- to become a woman for whom nothing is unattainable. Even prosecuting war criminals while wearing a diving swimsuit of my own design.

Emotional Space.

I realize that sounds incredibly loaded but I promise it’s a real thing.

I keep gushing about my new job. Anytime anyone asks me about it, I find myself repeating, I’m really where I need to be right now. (How can people stand me sometimes?!)

But that where that is here is a space of emotional openness. It’s wide margins (that’s the space between where your work ends and where you fall off the page.) It’s time that’s not dedicated to anything. It’s kindness in saying good bye and good luck to things that don’t serve me anymore.

It might go without saying, but it was not always this way.

This fall was an incredibly foggy time in my life. I was losing my job. Because I was losing my job, Brett and I had to back out of the contract we had signed to purchase a home. (You can wince here. I often do.) It felt like I might never stop crying. It was perhaps the most profound disappointment I’ve felt in my life. Everything that had seemed quite certain was gone in weeks and rather than try to weather any more transitions, I left my position about a week or so later. And then nothing was certain.

It felt very risky to give up a paycheck but I was in such a scary place emotionally at that time. The risk of bitterness and resentment lurked everywhere and it was a daily struggle to keep those feelings in check.  I didn’t want to be angry or sad anymore. So I left.

The next weeks felt like one long weekend. I rested and repaired my soul. (That is, I slept in and worked on craft projects) In all, I spent a little over a month without a job which was a true blessing and a testament to God’s hand in my life. I think there were some real things at work during that time that helped me frame the situation as a “transition”, rather than and out and out “crisis.” Managing those few months with some emotional dignity (and by that I mean I didn’t just lose my damn mind) helped prepare me to come into a new workplace and be readily available.

One of the things at work was that I was practicing for the first time a real awareness of vulnerability and the power it has to effect relationships. I watched this Ted Talk by Brene Brown and if you haven’t watched it yet, allow me to say, without exaggeration that it was transformative in my life. You see it at work here, in my writing, when I tell you that I’m both a person who is trying to lose weight and one who is eating an entire plate of fajita nachos for lunch (yesterday) and when I say that I like the idea of being healthy but love the idea of being skinny. Those things are silly and fun and we can all say YAS! but it was more than silly and fun when I realized that even though I felt hurt, I could still love and I could still forgive.

When I interviewed for new positions, I could speak candidly about where I had been, where I was going, what I was good at, when I had failed. As I orient to my new work, I am able to say I need help, thank you, can you repeat that? When someone asks how I like my new job, I say, I’m really where I need to be right now. 

What I want to tell you is that you can open up in this way. In fact, so many of you already have. (If you have reached out to me since I’ve started writing, allow me to say Goodness I just love you.) When I say open up, make space, what I mean is that if you are burdened by something, you can let that thing go. If it is spiritual, emotional, relational, or material. There is power in you that you can use towards whatever you want. Don’t waste it on anything that doesn’t serve.

Next week is a campaign celebration for the United Way, and it will be my last commitment as a member of the board, as my term has ended and I’m ready to step down. Can I be real here? Leaving is a scary thing because I am a doer. I am a get-things-doner. If I’m not there, who will do these things? Someone will. There is great potential in all of us (not to mention exceptional leadership on that board right now) and I don’t have to hog that piece of the pie.

It feels good to step away from that commitment because I have new priorities that I must make space for. The things I remain involved in are emotionally light and I can recognize heaviness a great deal sooner now. Maybe you are a person for which opening up means starting something new (introverts, I see you.) Fear can be reckless in our lives and it can be the thing that turns commitment into guilt or motivation into shame. You can join that club or go to that happy hour and people are going to be kind and warm to you. You can quit your job or leave that committee and the bottom will not drop out.  You can send that dancing cat gif in an email to your entire team, you won’t get fired. (Speaking from experience here.)

Make a little space today. It’s Friday so you’ve got all weekend to calm down from doing something really brave like that. I think it will make you a little lighter and that lightness might make you a little happier. And that little bit of happiness might make you a little more fortified to make a little more space and then, what could stop you?

Possibly you have been reading along on this blog and thinking, Amanda is just incredible. Her writing is transformative. I want to be just like her. 

This seems likely to me.

But possibly you might have just overheard me talking recently (I have a voice that carries, I grew up with a bunch of loud-talkers) and thought, Gosh, her voice is loud. How does anyone get a word in edgewise around her? Poor Brett.

This also seems likely.

In any case, I want to concisely share my experience doing intermittent fasting because it’s a weird thing I’m doing right now and so when people ask me about it I can say, “Uh, check the blog” and ignore them. (Kidding.)

Intermittent fasting is the practice of regulating (or rather re-regulating) periods of feeding and fasting. It can be implemented in several ways, most popularly every other day fasting, fasting twice weekly, or establishing a daily restricted window of eating, usually 6-8 hours. I’m experimenting with the restricted window, because I’m not a CRAZY PERSON.

I read a few articles before starting my self-experiment, because even though my agenda was to try it out for myself (regardless of what research I found) I though it would be a good idea to see what kind of side effects I might expect. I linked to those articles in a previous post and I found them helpful in getting started. Yesterday my friend Courtney sent me this article from a recent study and it was the bomb.com. (Warning: It is SUPER SCIENCEY. Read only at your hour of optimum brain capacity.) (By the way, for me that is like 8:45 am and I still skimmed like 30% of it.) (Actually here’s a summary for you: prolonged periods of fasting will help you live forever. The end.) (Ok, it doesn’t really say that. Just read it.)

My eating window is usually right around 8 hours. I have coffee every morning, or tea, or sometimes a Diet Coke and usually, a small handful of almonds. I intended to start my experiment with a trial week wherein I just allowed myself to see how far into the morning I could wait to eat and it turns out, I can pretty easily just wait until lunch, which I typically take at Noon. I probably break my daily fast between 11:30 and 12:30. I’m a morning person so I keep busy and haven’t noticed any fogginess or loss of focus (beyond the typical Facebook wander.)

But what about BREAKFAST?! you ask. Indeed. If you are a breakfast purist, then maybe this isn’t the best practice for you. But there’s recent science that indicates that breakfast might not have a lot of influence over weight-loss at all. I KNOW RIGHT? Regardless of all the other implications of breakfast, by skipping a morning meal and the inevitable snack that follows a few hours later, I’m probably cutting around 500 calories daily. That is a good thing for this gal.

I eat lunch and usually an afternoon snack-something like string cheese or an apple and almost always one Hershey’s Kiss. I eat dinner between 6 and 7 pm, depending on if I workout or have a meeting after work. And once I eat dinner, I’m done. I’ve never been a late-night snacker (except DESSERT, HELLO) so it’s a pretty natural schedule for me.

My favorite part of IF is that you can still have BRUNCH which is far and away the best meal of the week. Weekends are probably the easiest time to try IF because Brett and I often sleep in, have a big breakfast around 11 and then do dinner around 5 or 6. You might be doing IF on Saturdays and Sundays and not even know!

I did experience some stomach cramps in the afternoons during my first week or so, but that side affect has since gone away. I try to stick to a whole-foods, vegetable heavy, wheat-light diet when I eat, but reducing my overall caloric intake allows some flexibility that I appreciate (and have taken a little too much advantage of. I ate a whole bunch of SOUR CREAM AND ONION POTATO CHIPS LAST NIGHT. Bless.) Overall, I try to abide by the 80/20 rule, so 2-3 meals a week, I eat with a little less discipline. It happens. Here is what I know: you can’t outrun a bad diet. IF is an intuitive strategy for me to cut my calorie intake. It’s one less healthy decision I have to make everyday. It’s a tool to help me lose weight.

If you think you’ll try it- let me know! If you think I’m a crazy person, well . . . At least I’m not fasting EVERY OTHER DAY! Who could do that?!