creativity

The Closet Countdown: The Morning After

It’s over. My one hundred day adventure in minimalist-style clothing ended yesterday. I’m relieved and a bit overwhelmed. I doubt I will repeat The Closet Countdown any time soon. But I grew. I feel it. I see it in the pictures I posted.

I have my “lessons learned” post in the works but in the meantime, I thought I’d go ahead and post a few initial reactions while they are still very fresh in my mind.

Last night, I pulled down my two bins of “unchosen” clothing. First thing this morning, I opened them. Right after feeling joy at seeing some of my loved items, my heart sagged a bit. There were literally piles of clothes around me that needed to be sorted.

I felt buried.

So I put on the dress I’d missed the most: my Merrell Emery in Manganese Ikat. Honestly, I didn’t like it at first. I felt like the color was “wrong” or the fit felt “off”. The dress was fine. I was just in a strange funk.

I thought about how I felt the last weekend of The Closet Countdown. Brave. Bold. Creative. Beautiful even. Immediately my posture changed. My face brightened. So I decided to wear the dress for the day and take a few pics (see for yourself at the end of this post ;)).

Flattering clothes – fit, color, style, hem length, etc. – matters very much. But the real style is inside. The moment we choose to see ourselves as someone worth looking at, we become more attractive. Our confidence and freedom from fear of what others think makes our smile brighter, our posture straighter. When I feel beautiful, the world around me is more beautiful. Brighter. And I feel connected to that beauty because I have found a tiny grain of it in myself.

That’s how I decided to feel this morning when I put on my “other” Merrell Emery Dress. That’s how I hope to feel every morning. 🙂

If you are reading this, know that you are beautiful. Maybe your hair isn’t “perfect”. Maybe your shape won’t ever be in a magazine. Maybe you’ve had a few bad days in a row that kept you from smiling. But inside you is beauty. You carry it with you wherever you go. I know because today I walked out into the world and I felt it. It’s all around us. Inside us. We just have to have the courage to show it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words. I’m honored to share your company here on My Simplicity Quest.

Shine On,

G

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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

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

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. 🙂

Style Spotlight: Gudrun Sjödén

20130902-060921.jpgWhile wandering around the web, I came across this gem of a blog/website: The Succulent Wife. SUPER cute graphics.

20130902-060948.jpgAnyway… I found this post about designer Gudrun Sjödén. I was enthralled with what I read and after I watched the attached video, I immediately went to Gudrun Sjödén’s website. Wow.

As you can tell from most of my wardrobe-related pictures, I’m a simple gal. Black mostly. Standard, flattering lines, stretchy, quick-dry fabrics. Not many frills. I have a set of “internal rules” I’ve created around my wardrobe that makes it very easy for me to coordinate, care for, and buy. Gudrun’s clothing breaks my “rules” and I still love it. All of it. Her designs are simple but beautifully complex. Some of the dresses just hang there. (No defined waist!) and yet, they are flattering for all shapes.

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I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would not approve.

For me, Gudren’s designs are like visual poetry. It snags my heart in a big way. It is her art and her love for all women who wish to express themselves with their clothing. After all, don’t we do that anyway?

All along my life’s beautiful (and sometimes very difficult) path, I’ve been communicating to the world around me with my wardrobe. My lifestyle choices. How I feel about myself. How I’d like others to perceive me. And because I’m beginning to emerge from a self-focused life, I’m learning to listen to what others are saying with their wardrobe as well – intentionally or unintentionally.

20130902-060941.jpgGudrun Sjödén reminds me that it’s okay to keep exploring and growing – as an aspiring travel style blogger, as a woman, as an artist. She is such a beautiful woman.

Perhaps well-made, fun pieces that make one feel special and unique are just as important in a minimalist closet as a scarf that goes with everything. Now, if you can have both in one item… Well then, I’d call that a winner!

I’m off to add the Cotton/Rayon Blouse featured on this page to my wish list. 🙂

Do you have any clothing from Gudrun Sjödén? If yes, please tell me about it! I do so love personal clothing testimonies…

As always, I thank you for your time. It is my sincerest hope that my work brightens your day somehow and adds beauty to your life.

Cheers,
G

Confessions of a People Pleaser

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‘You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back.’
– Vincent (Ethan Hawke’s Character) from Gattaca

Writing about minimalism has been quite an experience for me. It’s like my soul needed to get rid of all the physical crap covering my dreams. There were reasons I buried them. Deep, personal reasons. I didn’t know it until I started digging and purging and writing. The more I pull away the clutter of my life, the more I must deal with those reasons.

In keeping with my commitment to remain transparent in my writing, I have a confession: I have this constant, inner-nagging to start a money-making blog. “Do what you love” they scream from flashing banners and obtrusive adverts, “and you can be rich.” I constantly go back to my own post about Making Money Online to remind myself that it takes time…and money does not pour in from the sky as I write about my personal struggle with releasing boxes of junk from my attic.

Still my little brain continues to buzz with ideas and strategies.

Which brings me to my second confession: I’ve been holding back. I have ideas and topics I want to write about and decide to “save them for my someday blog.” (You know, the one I’ll create and from which I will instantly get millions of viewers and huge commission checks?) And here is where I argue with my teenage self (my self-righteous, know-it-all teenage self who thought I should always have a very “noble” job) and tell her that I want to write about clothes.

Yes, clothes.

Not saving children in third world countries or how to live without plastic. But clothes. And not just any clothes. Adventure clothes. Clothes that can go from home to work to play. Clothes that travel the world or to the grocery store and still look great. I believe that all of life is an adventure.

It’s one of those dreams I found while digging. Letting it lie dormant was an early lesson in impressing people. When I said I wanted a career in fashion, people often nodded and smiled. When I changed my answer to “lawyer” I got a lot more interest and encouragement. So from then on, I dedicated my little soul to making sure my answer impressed people. Even if my heart wasn’t in it…and I intentionally hid my desire to do anything with clothing as a way to make a living.

But here I am, surrounded by people who choose to read what I write. Encouraging, wonderful, beautiful people. People like you who love to write and explore and discover the dreams we left behind. You don’t seem to mind my strange hue of sunshine. It’s a new, beautiful place. I love it. I don’t have to impress you with my words. I just have to be sincere.

Clothes sincerely fascinate me. I love how lines, and fit, and color, and fabric can highlight our best (or worst) features. I love discovering new ways to wear a sarong. I love figuring out how to coordinate five items into twenty different outfits. Versatility. Quality. Comfort. Function. Style. I love all of this about clothes.

I’m tired of letting my old need to impress people keep it buried.

So from here on out, I’m not going to hold back. Clothes are a big part of my simplicity quest and I have much to share on the subject. I read other blogs (about clothes) that I want to share with you. I want to learn more about the science of style and the beautiful differences in our body shapes and tell you what I find. I will continue to praise the Lily Dress but I want to explore other items I might consider essential. I’m so excited. I’m smiling as I type.

I come full circle with another confession (and a bit of surprise to myself): I don’t care if I make a dime writing about it.

It feels so much better when I don’t hold back. And when I don’t apologize for who I am, what I love, and what I want to write about.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this. It is my heart and soul poured out into words…

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One Lovely Blog Award

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Rose at from2to3kids rocks. She nominated My Simplicity Quest for the One Lovely Blog Award. She really does rock. Her blog is a great collection of honest words in her ups and downs as a blooming, dedicated minimalist and in her efforts for baby #3. She’s funny and endearing. Even though I’m not a mama, we are on the same page on a lot of issues. I’m so grateful for the honor she has shown me (thank you Rose!!!!).

Because I’m a fairly new blogger and a curious soul, I did some research on the One Lovely Blog Award and I didn’t really find anything substantial (though I got to read some neat blogs who have received a nomination..). It looks like a structured opportunity to pay it forward. Love it. So, I’m in!

The RULES for accepting the award:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and link back to their blog(s).
  • Post the award image in your acceptance post.
  • List seven random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate others for the award and notify them on their blog.

My 7 random facts about Ginny:

1. Mornings are magic for me.
2. I’m intentionally optimistic.
3. When I was three-years-old, I could speak and understand English, Spanish, and Italian (we came back to The States when I was five and I now I only speak English).
4. I can eat a lot for my size. Seriously. I can really put it away. However, I’m a total lightweight when it comes to drinking. Go figure.
5. I love to encourage people.
6. I’m proud to be a Texan (most of us are).
7. My favorite Terry Pratchett books are Thud, Thief of Time, and Small Gods

All of my nominations are for blogs and writers who reach right in to who I am and encourage me to be a better person. I’ve found beauty and strength in their words and I’m grateful that they do what they do. I tried to write a description for each of them but I really want you to get the joy from clicking on the link and seeing their beauty for yourself. Please check out all of them. They are:

Big Little Living

A conversation over coffee

The Snazzy Turtle

Lauren Sapala

Being Black and Minimalist

Beautiful Boundaries

The following is an excerpt from a Delancy Place newsletter that my SSS (Super Smart Sweetheart) shared with me. It struck something in my minimalism-hungry soul and I knew I had to share it.

In today’s selection — in any endeavor, whether writing a book, starting a business, designing a house, or creating a recipe, narrowing the options is one of the hardest things to do. Self-editing is one of the most difficult forms of self discipline:

“In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them. Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities. The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying.

“The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself. It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom. Write a song on your lunch break. Paint a painting with only one color. Start a business without any start-up capital. Shoot a movie with your iPhone and a few of your friends. Build a machine out of spare parts. Don’t make excuses for not working — make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now.

“The right constraints can lead to your very best work. My favorite example? Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.”

‘Telling yourself you have all the time
in the world, all the money in the world,
all the colors in the palette, anything
you want — that just kills creativity.’

-Jack White

Author: Austin Kleon
Title: Steal Like An Artist
Publisher: Workman
Date: Copyright 2012 by Austin Kleon
Pages: 137-138

Hope this inspires you the way it inspired me. I love the beauty of the boundaries we create for ourselves with minimalism and seeking out a simple life. “The right constraints can lead to your very best work.” I think the right constraints can lean to your very best life.

Cheers to you dear reader! May your boundaries ever increase your creativity…