Month: September 2013

Searching for My Stride

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Forget about having an identity crises and get some identity capital.
Do something that adds value to who you are.
Do something that’s an investment in who you might be next.
– Meg Jay

I’ve been absent. Not just from my blog but from my WordPress Reader, my computer, and the world wide web in general. I had that “too much” feeling. So I did what I do instinctively: I backed off. I took a break. I needed to look at my life from a different perspective. I don’t like admitting that I feel overwhelmed. To me, it means I didn’t plan well enough or research enough before I started. It means I admit to being in over my head. And to admit that offends my pride. Deeply.

Maybe I got tired of taking pictures of my outfits. Maybe I felt like I was letting people down if I didn’t respond to each comment. I’ve broken all the main “rules” of successful blogging. Consistency? Fail. Specific niche? Nope. Quick, thoughtful reply to every comment? Uh uh. Then there are all the lovely awards I’ve been given and have yet to “accept” with a post and my own nominations…

I feel all tangled up in blogginess. In my writing and my life and my house full of extra stuff, I long for simplicity. But simplicity isn’t simple. Perhaps that is an obtuse view. Perhaps I have an overly-romantic view of living a simpler life. And underneath it all is a deeper hunger: to write. To just let the music of my soul pour out into words. That the few people who read this would have a little more sunshine. That the tiny space I’ve cleared in this cold, chaotic universe would hold enough light to warm a heart and start a fire somewhere else.

But something holds me back. I hesitate. I wait.

I do write but I wonder if my Eliza Doolittle literary ways shine through. Though in “real life” I do not have a low class accent, I wonder if my writing does. I’m so often careless and overly wordy. I lack formal education. I lack that sense of confidence that I believe “real” writers have. And yet I keep writing.

I’m so close to something new. Something really exciting. I can feel the heat of it near me. And I have no idea what it is.

I’m not fishing for compliments or “hang in there” sentiments. Sincerely, I’m not. I’m seeking wisdom. Advice. Random words of experience. Blogging is such a different beast. Sometimes, I spend all of my writing time catching up on comments. It overwhelms me. Do you feel this way? Why do you blog? What do you blog about? Do you love writing? How do you get in your writing and keep up with your comments and keep up with your everyday life?

This week, I start training for my first half marathon. From what I understand, it’s a different kind of training. I have to know things about myself and running that I did not really need to know for a 5 or 10K. It is where I am in my life – ready to raise the bar, intimidated by the possibility of failure, and utterly surrendered to the process of growth. I’m searching for my stride…

Thank you. Thank you for stopping by. Thank you so much for reading my words. Thank you for whatever kind thoughts you send my way. Thank you for being a writer. I wish you joy and clarity and love. So much that you have to share it all the time, wherever you go.

Cheers,
G

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Minimalism. Hard Work. Big Rewards.

Work is love made visible. – Kahlil Gibran

Though my outside circumstances are pretty rough, I’m in a great place internally. A big part of that is because I’m working very hard at being a better person. I honestly flinch to write that. Work hard? At being kind and caring and honest and sincere? Aren’t we supposed to just “be” those things naturally? If we are, I’m screwed.

Enter minimalism. As I began the action of reducing my things, I learned early that it is not an easy process. It’s taking a long time because I don’t want to just throw it all away. I’m a curious person. I want to explore why I hold on to things and why I feel the need to let go. Minimalism has become much more about the internal work than the external process of eliminating stuff.

I feel like I’m finding important pieces of myself buried beneath my collection of clothes and old beliefs. Pieces I told myself that were worthless because I had to “work” to make them shine.

The process fascinates me. I examine an old toy. Then I examine the belief that rich people are all assholes. Odds and ends I’ve collected on my journey so far. A lot of it is a bunch of crap. There are days when it’s not fun to decide what to do with a box of baby clothes or my scraps of religion.

But it is worth it. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to like myself. What a treasure to find on my quest for simplicity.

A few days ago, I remembered an interview with Kris Carr I’d seen years ago. She is a fabulous woman. Please check out her documentary titled Crazy Sexy Cancer. She is a survivor and an inspiration to many. She said something that stayed with me and as I grow into my new identity as a person with less baggage, I’m ready to embrace those words. Please watch the video below to hear her response when asked how she stays so positive (the answer is within the first twenty seconds of this clip).

I’m ready to work hard at being a better person. I’m ready to let go of my belief that the good stuff in life comes easy and without effort. So far, all the good stuff in my life has come because I’ve worked for it. All the miles under my feet. All the love in my life. All the joy in my heart. All the light in my soul. Yes, they are gifts but if I don’t nurture them and work to make them grow, then they are as worthless as I once believed I was…

Thank you dear reader. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. As you read these words, know that I wish great things for you, my fellow traveler along my simplicity quest. I’m honored that you would walk with me.

Shine on,

G

Inspiration: The Happiness Advantage

I saw this video for the first time less than a year ago. I was sitting at my desk at my old job, knowing that the small company we had worked so hard to build for two years was self-destructing right before my eyes. Sadness owned my soul.

I loved it instantly. Shawn Achor made me laugh and then he made me cry. (I still smile when I think of his opening story.) I cried because he was talking about happiness and I felt so far from it. At the same time, it gave me hope and made me feel special when I was facing a pretty big “failure”.

In my simplicity quest, I have learned so much already. My happiness does not depend on my current state of minimalism. Minimalism is simply a way of traveling. My happiness doesn’t even depend on my income or my relationships (though I do find that having these two things in check makes my life MUCH easier…). It all depends on the filter I choose to put on my life view.

Shawn Achor’s TEDTalk reminded me of that.

He mentions 5 things that make a huge difference in one’s happiness:

  1. Write down 3 things  for which you are grateful
  2. Journal
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation
  5. Random Acts of Kindness

He says that if you do these five simple things for just 21 days, you can begin to change the way your brain sees the world. That fascinates me. We can change our brains. One connection at a time. Why not start with happiness?

Thank you, dear reader for spending your precious time reading my humble blog. I’m honored that you stopped by. Sincerely. I wish you much happiness on your journey. May your heart remain wide open and grateful. 🙂

Cheers,
G

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #11

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Greetings! This is my (oh my goodness!) eleventh weekly update on The Closet Countdown. I’m fully recovered from last week’s downer attitude toward this experiment. The end is near and as Autumn slowly approaches, I’m ready to open my boxes full of dark-colored clothes and put away my summery items (like my bright coral shorts and – sadly – my hot pink Lily dress). In twenty-three days, I will put on my brown leather boots (Merrell of course) just because I can. 🙂

Since I quit my corporate job in January, I’ve been lacking in motivation to “do my hair” or look presentable around the house (or even out and about…it happens). This silly/wonderful experiment has given me a reason to dress up a little. I dab on a little make up before I take the pics and I go throughout my day feeling like I care about what I look like. Changes my attitude. I’m diggin’ it.

20130916-070249.jpgThis was an intentional Merrell dress week featuring the Lily (of course!) and the Emery. I slack off on pictures on weekends so the ones featured in the collage are from Monday to Friday starting at the top left.

Here is the daily breakdown:

Sunday:
BCG black tank, BCG black leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes
Monday:
Merrell black Lily dress, Merrell brown San Remo sandals
Tuesday:
Merrell mulberry Lily dress, Merrell Luxe Strap Sandals  – experiment in shoe comfort
Shoe not comfy for working/running around the house. Changed to Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes
Wednesday:
Merrell black Lily dress, Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes, flower accent.
Flower didn’t last long… gets in my way.
Thursday:
Merrell black Emery dress, Merrell brown San Remo sandals
Friday:
Merrell black Emery dress, BCG black leggings, Merrell brown San Remo sandals
Saturday:
BCG black camisole tank top, BCG black leggings, sarong, Merrell brown San Remo sandals

Thank you, Sweet Reader for taking the time to read this. It warms my heart and makes me happy that you are here. I’m deeply grateful. May your week ahead be full of new and interesting lessons in your closet and in your life!

Cheers,

G

To see pictures from previous weeks, please got to The Closet Countdown Page.

Blog Shine Sunday {Sept 15}

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As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.
Marianne Williamson

Hello and welcome to another Blog Shine Sunday! I’m in the process of creating a Super Blog Shine Sunday for next week to get caught up on some sweet awards I’ve been given (and oh too slow to accept). So this week’s Blog Shine Sunday features just one blog. Just one post. But since I read it, it has stained my heart with many thoughts. Big picture stuff. Life. Death. Life in light of death. So please check it out. Read it. Read it again. You might find a tear in your eye when finished but read it anyway.

This is from a blog I mentioned last week.

Enjoy…

The Adventures of Fanny P
” …because life is just one big adventure…”
From this Blog: “Fanny P is a 30 something year old girl married to The Husband, a 40 year old boy. They have two children, Thing 1 and Thing 2. Two years ago they swapped London Living for Lombardy Living and are now enjoying the highs and lows of life in the Bel Paese.”

Check out this post: Thank You Cancer

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers,
G

  • To read last week’s list please click here.
  • If you’d like to start posting your version of Blog Shine Sunday, please feel free to copy the image I created to go with this. It’s my photo with my edits. So it’s royalty free to you! Cheers! 🙂
  • My original inspiration for this is from Lois at Living Simply Free. Because of this, I’m going to include a link to her site with every Blog Shine Sunday.

Keep Writing

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It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
― Confucius

I got another one of those “nudges” again. Like that night at the bar when I felt like I needed to tell that woman she was beautiful… This time it hit me while running. While letting my mind wander in the beauty of the hard work of a good run, it filled my mind and heart. When this happens, I know I have to do it. Whatever it is. Even if I don’t feel qualified or “good enough”. Just gotta shine or I will shrivel up.

Life is too short. So, I here I go…

If you are reading this, there is a very good chance that you are a writer. Almost certainly you are a blogger. For whatever reason, you chose to put your thoughts out there in the wide, wide world. Kudos to you. I’ve only been blogging for a short time. I’m no expert but I know my heart and I’m learning how to be transparent and honest with my work. Sometimes, my honesty is all I have to offer in a post. It’s working so far.

So in all honesty, I encourage you to write. Keep writing. Until your soul feels empty. Until you can’t think another thought. Just don’t fucking give up. Not on writing. If you let it, it can be a constant in your life that helps you find balance. It can help you find a bit of peace in this world of chaos.

In my short existence as a blogger, I’ve already seen others flame out. Don’t let that be you. Write when you don’t feel like it. Write when your heart is breaking. Write when the sun is shining. Just write, dammit. Don’t. Give. Up.

You don’t have to publish all of it. And you don’t have to look up “rules for a successful blog.” Fuck the rules. This is about you and your writing. Your blog. Forget about making money or being famous. Just reach into your life, find that light that burns to put your thoughts into words, and shine. That’s all. It’s that simple.

You might doubt yourself. You might be a little frightened to put yourself out there. Keep writing anyway. Find your courage in the beautiful process of creating and polishing your paragraphs.

If you need someone to tell you to hang in there. I’m right here. Leave me a note here in the comments. I might not respond right away but I will respond.

So dear reader, my fellow traveler along my simplicity quest, thank you for stopping by. Thank you for reading my words and listening to my heart. You are a beautiful part of my life. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Shine on and KEEP WRITING!

Cheers,
G

Sarong Series: Long Vest

20130910-061413.jpgGreetings fellow life traveler! Welcome to another post in my Sarong Series. In my quest for simplicity, nothing beats the practical beauty of my sarong. I hope that you can sense my enthusiasm for this lightweight, fringed piece of material. I believe it is an essential piece to a minimalist closet (or to any closet!). Versatility is the key to a fabulous wardrobe…

20130912-055513.jpgThe Long Vest is one of my favorites. I wear it over my Lily Dress as an easy, colorful accent. It also works well as a swimsuit coverup or a kind of a “robe” for those moments when you just need to step down the hall for something but don’t want to get out of your pajamas. It also works as an interesting layering piece under a sweater or jacket. Add a belt if you are feeling adventurous. This fun style lends itself to many, creative options!

Let’s get started with the Sarong Series: Long Vest tutorial! It stands out as one of those syles that seems complicated but as you will see, it’s quite simple and fun!

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Average Sarong Size Measurements:
Width: Approx 46 inches (117 cm)
Length (including fringe): Approx 66 inches (168 cm)

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Step One:
Place sarong behind you while holding opposite corners on the longest side.

20130910-050706.jpgStep Two:
Fold over body and hold by the top corners of the sarong, prepared to make your first tie.

20130910-050823.jpgStep Three:
Tie the two ends together in a very shallow first tie.

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Step Four:
Take the two ends and tie them again in the same place to secure position.

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Step Five:
Bring the knot up over your head toward your back…

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Step Five (continued):
…until it rests on the back of your neck. Flip out your hair (if you need to) and you are good to go! Not pictured is the feminine drape it creates in the back, covering the bum and exposing the back. Such a lovely look. 🙂

Here are some other posts in The Sarong Series:

If you’d like to see some other examples of how I wear my sarong, please check out The Closet Countdown Page.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you found the Sarong Series: Long Vest easy to follow. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I’m super happy to help!

Cheers,

G

My Barbie Doll Was A Minimalist

The ugly duckling is a misunderstood universal myth. It’s not about turning into a blonde Barbie doll or becoming what you dream of being; it’s about self-revelation, becoming who you are.
Baz Luhrman

Greetings! While on my simplicity quest, I often take tiny detours down memory lane. It’s part of the process for me. It helps slow me down a little because I have a tendency to rush ahead at full speed.

Sometimes, I remember things we lost in the fire. The memories skitter across my mind in random moments of thought. In this case, I was pondering a wardrobe that could go from day to night with only a few, minor changes. (Shocker that I would think about such things, right?).

Then I remembered my favorite Barbie Doll. Day to Night Barbie. Since I’m pretty sure she’s gone on to Barbie heaven, I did a little Google searching. Oh. My. Word. I think it was an early sign from the universe. An unexpected teacher with plastic skin, blond hair, and painted blue eyes…and an outfit that went from work to play in a matter of seconds.

Let me put this out there before I go on. With as much flak as Barbie gets for creating unrealistic physical goals for young girls I stand on the other side. Firmly. It’s just a doll. Just like my cloth baby doll. I learned to dress her and change her diaper. It’s a toy.

I’m in my thirties and have no desire to change from brown hair to blonde or hazel eyes to blue. In fact, I want more muscle tone than my Barbie had :). (I also had an early eighties fitness Barbie – bright blue body suit, legwarmers, and headband. Oh yeah…)

If anything, playing with my Barbie Dolls helped me decide what I liked about me. What colors and styles I preferred. What life I might choose to have. And like the Baz Luhrmann quote states, it’s not about becoming her, it’s about becoming me.

How was my Barbie Doll a minimalist? She could go from a day at the office to a night on the town by removing her jacket and hat and reversing her skirt. Genius. I’m still totally inspired. To help you have a better idea of what I mean, I’ve gathered a couple pictures and commercials I found. I had both the doll and the home and office set. Seriously.

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Did you enjoy those? I know I did! During my search, I found another Barbie from my past that I had quite forgotten. But now that I see her – and the many ways she can wear one dress combination – I’m not surprised that she was mine as well. Dream Date Barbie.

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One skirt, many options. Oh yes! See that sequined tube top thing? I made it into a skirt and added a tank top. Yep, early signs of a versatile wardrobe addiction…

Thank you, dear reader for taking this tiny trip down memory lane with me. I’m a bit of a nutter but if you can stand it, then I’m glad you are here. Cheers to you, wherever you are and to your wardrobe – may it always reflect who you are inside. 🙂

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #10

20130909-060751.jpgHello and welcome to my tenth weekly update for The Closet Countdown. Only thirty days left. I used all my morning sunshine (and time) to take pictures for my Sarong Series (Tied Long Skirt, Tied Short Skirt, and Waist Tied Shawl) instead of taking pictures of my daily outfit.

That’s not entirely true.

I did take pictures for the Sarong Series (more coming up this week!) but the truth is that I’m just a little burned out on the whole Closet Countdown deal. The honeymoon is quite over. The magic of this experiment in minimalism has faded.

Strangely enough, this is where I get excited about the process. It means I’ve found that place where I want to quit. Not just make a few modifications. But just end this whole, silly experiment.

Words that have haunted me most of my life start to trickle into my thoughts…

That’s when I know it’s about to get really good. While this may be a silly experiment, it’s my silly experiment. When I’m not grumpy about it, I’m learning so much. I’ve been able to “get by” on the same 55 items of clothing for seventy days. That’s a big deal for me. I’m not going to quit.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I put on my leggings and my Lily dress, strapped on my ever-faithful (and sadly discontinued) Merrell Brown San Remo sandals, and decided to rock the next thirty days of The Closet Countdown.

(Pictures will resume next week.)

Thank you. Thank you so much for reading this. Though this part of my path is a little rough, the fact that you are here this makes it easier to bear.

Cheers,

G

To see pictures from previous weeks, please got to The Closet Countdown Page.

Blog Shine Sunday {Sept 8}

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Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello and welcome to another Blog Shine Sunday! I hope that last week was wonderful and that your week ahead is even better. Here are a few blogs to check out – all wonderful works of inspiration and insight. They certainly brighten my days. I hope they do the same for you. 🙂

~1~
Missus Smarty Pants Style Blog
“Enjoy the Little Things”
From this Blog: “Improve your personal style. Gain style confidence. Stay current on the latest trends”

~2~
I Want Less
A Guide to The Simple Life
From this Blog: “This is your life, it’s short and it’s precious. Do you really want to spend it making money for somebody else? I don’t. I want to get out of the hamster wheel. And this is what this blog is about. ”
A Post I Love: Psychological Cost of Your Stuff

~3~
Everyday In A Dress
From this blog: “Dresses, and nothing but dresses everyday! Here you can see how I do it.”
A post I love: Is Summer Over?

~4~
The Adventures of Fanny P
” …because life is just one big adventure…”
From this Blog: “Fanny P is a 30 something year old girl married to The Husband, a 40 year old boy. They have two children, Thing 1 and Thing 2. Two years ago they swapped London Living for Lombardy Living and are now enjoying the highs and lows of life in the Bel Paese.”
A post I love: Women’s Problems

~5~
A Nine Pound Hammer….or a woman like you, either one of these will do
From this Blog: “Sparks from the anvil while exploring life and America’s treasures-South of the Mason Dixon line.”
A post I Love: All that I need…

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers,
G

  • To read last week’s list please click here.
  • If you’d like to start posting your version of Blog Shine Sunday, please feel free to copy the image I created to go with this. It’s my photo with my edits. So it’s royalty free to you! Cheers! 🙂
  • My original inspiration for this is from Lois at Living Simply Free. Because of this, I’m going to include a link to her site with every Blog Shine Sunday.