Radio Silence

At the end of the theatre season in June, I promised myself that I would return to this blog, come back to exploring fashion and clothes in the everyday.

Then Orlando happened. Then Alton Sterling… Philando Castile… Dallas… Nice…

How do I make myself sit down and write about something as silly and vapid as clothing when this world is terrifying and unjust and cruel? By writing this blog, am I ignoring the larger conversations happening in the US or across the globe? Why bother to carry on with this when there’s so much more to focus on?

I had a conversation with a friend the other day. While she’s heavily involved in a lot of self-care practices (acupuncture, therapeutic massage, chiropractics), she’s recently started a yoga/mindful movement class and has been absorbing so much if the ideology taught by her teacher. Recently in a class, the teacher explained to her class that the best way to heal the world is to start with healing and caring for yourself. My friend mentioned that in passing and I’ve been dwelling on the thought since.

This blog isn’t a protest against the injustice from the world. And I don’t espouse my political thoughts openly and actively here. I don’t rage and scream and rally for something better in this venue. Why? It’s my refuge, my space to think about the frivolous for a while. While it’s bothered me that I would take time and effort to write here, this blog is a means of caring of myself, I guess.

I’m lucky that both my full-time museum-y position and my part-time theatre job allow me ample intellectual space to think about racial tensions in the US, religious conflict in the world, and the overall constant struggle of humanity throughout time. The expectations of my workplaces is that I’m knowledgeable about these themes and histories, have internal and external dialogs daily, and help educate others — children and adults alike. I’m honored to have these roles and responsibilities, but it’s admittedly exhausting to think non-stop about slavery, war, gender roles, gentrification, etc., without a respite. In the half hour it takes me to write a few paragraphs on skirts or lipsticks or shoes and throw in a few images, I get the mental down time to unwind, breathe and gather myself for the next article or book to read, conversation to have, or, simply, the next news story to pop up on my phone.

I’m hoping, friends, that I’ll make more regular appearances here going forward. But please understand if I don’t. And please understand why I’m not having discourse here on larger life issues: it’s not at all you, but entirely me.

Advertisements

Birthday Recap and Intentions for the Year

It’s been a week since I turned 30, so I figured I should write about it for posterity’s sake!

From Thanksgiving through my birthday in early January, there’s normally a weird, stressful vibe in my life. B and I both tend to work 50+ hour workweeks because of our respective full-time jobs and our shared part-time gig. Plus there’s family fighting and all that junk which always comes up at this time of year. (I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t cry on Christmas Eve/Day.) Finally, I really do not like the winter, to the extent of looking into SAD therapy lights to help me make it through. Needless to say, birthdays can be emotionally erratic .

When my 30th arrived, I was surprised at how awesome it was! It was a low-key, fun day: texts from friends; raspberry-and-chocolate chip pancakes; a solid gym visit. B had been worried that my gift wouldn’t arrive in the mail until the USPS truck rolled up outside our house.

What was in the package? Just the prettiest necklace that I’ve wanted for a couple of years now!

(You can find other stunning wax seal pendants from Plum and Posey here.)

We finished the day with a fancy-schmancy dinner with friends downtown, where we feasted for hours! When we came home — stuffed and waddling — B and I took some photos and then he finished my favorite birthday cake. By midnight, I was fat and happy.

A week before my birthday, I had attended a “new year, new you” yoga class. While the title was silly, it was taught by a teacher I love. During the session, he shared his own emotional journey to yoga, even tearing up in front of a class of 30 students. That raw honesty — especially about a lot of the same personal problems I share — moved me and struck a deep cord. The instructor explained the pratfalls of setting New Years’ resolutions, how they’re created out of anger or frustration with oneself. Instead, he offered the alternative, more positive idea of setting intentions, which allow one to return to them in the event of failure.

While I never make New Years resolutions, I have made birthday ones for years, seeing it as a more personal promise to myself. And this year, I’ve decided to rename this endeavor “birthday intentions,” mainly because I’m human and I fail, but this re-titling, hopefully, will allow me to return to these tabula rasa-style.

Already 2016 has been one of major change: I turned 30; have been a home owner for a year; returned to work with a major promotion; and lost my closest, bestest colleague to retirement.

While there’s a lot more suddenly expected of me, my biggest aspiration to care for myself first and foremost. How exactly?

I’ve joke often that I cut myself out of my life first when work needs doing: I’ll commit 60+ hours a week to the museum and theatre and make myself miserable. That’s stopping. I’m taking days off. I’m going home when my time is done. I’m not using “but I have to work” as excuse when friends want to hang out. While I need to work two jobs still, my first priority is me.

With that all said, I really need to start caring for myself on a physical level. This past December, I don’t know how often I would come after a double, sit on the couch and sob because I hurt. I had seven or eight knots up and down my back and constant headaches; I was simply exhausted. It wasn’t pretty. And I put on weight too. This year, I’m intending to lose some weight (10 pounds would be perfect, 20 preferred by my doctor). I’m recommitting to running and yoga and drinking water and sleeping and eating well.

“Eating well? But, Jenn, you don’t cook!”Guess what else I’m endeavoring to do, folks! Those who know me “IRL” know my aversion to cooking food, but I’m realizing how impractical it is to subsist on take-out, both physically and financially. B and I have taken turns cooking this week: Italian wedding soup, Thai-style chicken pumpkin stew, and, last night, salmon and “poor man’s risotto” (yum!). I forget how nice it is to have a built-in lunch plan, as well as how my week’s half of groceries is the equivalent of  eating out two or three times.

Holy cow! Cooking at home saves cash! As does being intentional and decisive when buying stuff. I tried out the KonMari method at the beginning of the new year and I’ll admit that throwing away a lot of stuff really sparked a desire to cut back on spending. Sure, I’ve been online window shopping for pretty dresses, striking work-out clothes and snazzy shoes, but I haven’t committed to anything because I don’t want to waste: cash, space and time (because I regret-return stuff a lot too).

And finally: I want to have friends! (Whaaaaat?!) This sounds weird, right? I’ve admitted that I’m anxiety-ridden and shy. But I’ve had three separate conversations this week with other people about how they feel the exact same way. So I’m really going to attempt to stop letting my flight reflex control my sociability; I know a lot of awesome people liminally and I don’t want to waste time not being friends with them. I got my first taste this past weekend – between a bookclub meeting, birthday dinners and a catch-up lunch — and I loved feeling like a new me.

There you have it, kiddos. My long-winded recap of birthday festivities and my intentions for 30. Are there other things I’m endeavoring? Sure, but I’m thinking they’re really going to grow out of the wellness-plan I’ve already laid out for myself.

Much love, friends!

IMG_5530

 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Hi, friends!

I’ve taken a bit of sabbatical from the blog (two weeks!), but trust me, I’ve been thinking about this place every day since my last write-up!

We’ve been having weird weather the past few weeks in New England: warm, balmy, comfortable. While I know it probably signals the reality of global warming, I can’t help but admit the fact that I love the nice days! They’ve been entirely livable for someone who is bitterly cold once winter hits, to the extent that B and I often joke I’m reptilian: my body temperature is dictated by the outside world.

With that all said, I was able to wear this adorable outfit to a recent networking event put on by a local library.

Let me set the record straight: I’m a huge dork who hates hate HATES networking. Like. Pit in my stomach and about to wretch at the idea of having to do something like meet and engage with strangers. I would rather be at home with my books thankyouverymuch. But I’ve promised myself that I would stretch myself beyond my comfort zone this year and make friends who weren’t, like, Anna Karenina and Vronsky. And what better place than a library networking event!

IMG_4214 IMG_4270 IMG_4284 IMG_4303

Dress: TJ Maxx

Cardigan: LOFT

Shoes: TOMS

Bag: TOMS

Belt: H&M

Watch: Fossil

Necklace: Homemade!

I was super nervous at the prospect of having to socialize and be normal with people I didn’t know in a context I wasn’t used to (neurotic!), so I made sure that I wore an out that was comfortable, pretty and totally me. I really loved the bright white paired with earthy browns — the cardigan, belt, shoes, and jasper necklace — because I think they balanced each other nicely. I also pulled out this bag — one I’ve had for years — because the brown leather paired nicely, but the yellow and green fabric popped. It also allowed me to pattern mix with not two but three parts of my outfit: the larger, linear lines of the dress; the smaller, softer, repetitive arches of the bag; and the small, organic leopard print in the shoes. A super simple outfit to throw together, but one that, I thought, had some nice depth and subtlety to it.

IMG_4382 IMG_4412 IMG_4471 IMG_4472

I liked the outfit enough that I made B bring the camera with him to take outside photos! It was breezy, but temperate. We were able to laugh and goof around, putting me in a more comfortable mood before schmoozing. In our adventures, B tried out an intense version of downward dog with his newly operated knee!

IMG_4392

After this second round of photos, we ambled over to the networking event, warm and happy, and had a great time! It was awesome to meet new people in the city, connect with some other folks I’d met recently at a book club get-together, and check out a hip new hotel in town (where the event was being held). By the end of the night, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing — and I didn’t even partake in the wine!

As I’m approaching 30 (two months!), I’ve really been considering how I live my life, especially habits that I like that are healthy versus ones I really should rethink. If you haven’t gathered yet from this post (and you don’t even need close reading skills for that one!), I can be totally anxious, neurotic and nervous in social situations; this was a certainly an exercise of “faking it” by putting myself into a good place before I had to face something scary and uncomfortable and, in the end, I totally “made it!” I learned how valuable laughing and smiling on the outside can be to actually feeling better on the inside. Lesson learned for the future, especially the next library event in a week!

All Quiet on the Western Front

After B took photos for me this morning, as I was about to zoom out the door to work, he said how I look like a lady gun-slinger from an old western film. While it’s rainy and dreary and officially autumn in New England, I’ll admit that I put an extra swagger in my step today after that comment.

IMG_3778[1] IMG_3790[1] IMG_3798[1] IMG_3810[1] IMG_3837[1]

IMG_3833[1]

Dress: TJ Maxx

Sweater: H&M

Boots: Naturalizer

Belt: Target

Hat: Target

My weekend is far from a rodeo though. I’m about to attend a mini-training session on meditation practices, mainly because, well, I need it. I’m hoping to pull some good life skills out of these next 24 hours because during the next month, I will be pushing myself beyond all my limits: professionally, socially, physically, and intellectually. Am I doing anything glammy or glitzy that’s causing so many boundaries to be pushed? Not really: lots of work, per usual. I’ve just lined up my schedule in such a way that I really need to conquer every hurdle gracefully to win it. I think I’ve nailed down my “fierce” face though.

IMG_3842[1]

IMG_3851[1] IMG_3852[1]

Chasing Summer

As you can see here, I’m not giving into fall pinings just yet! While I may or may not have bought some autumnal clothing recently, those daydreams of tights and booties just aren’t cutting it for the continual 90 degree weather in New England. That’s ok, I’m soaking up every ounce of the summer heat while I can!

I bought these fabulously bright jeans from a local shoppe recently. I was walking past to grab a coffee when I saw that they were on the $20 sale rack. I loved the color, so I figured I’d stop and look at the size at least. Well, they were (roughly) my size, so I thought, “hell, let me try them on then!” Tried them and they fit perfectly — minus the eight inches of additional leg length! But I eyed the original price tag: $128! No way could I pass up awesomely bright jeans that were marked down $108; even after getting them hemmed, I still saved $100 off the original tag!

IMG_2623[1] IMG_2631[1] IMG_2643[1] IMG_2659[1]

Blouse: Old Navy (old)

Tank: Old Navy (old)

Pants: Yoga Jeans by Second Clothing at a local shoppe

Shoes: Toms

Like the jeans story, sometimes the world works in other ways exactly when need it.

On Friday night, B and I went to a gong bath, which is an alternative healing music therapy session. A gong master plays finely crafted gongs for a group of people with the intention that the music and resonance will penetrate your core and — essentially — shake away the bad stuff. We’ve done them a few times and, I’ll say, I always feel great afterward: I sleep deeply and peacefully; my body feels looser; I end up with a better outlook. They’re simply restorative sessions.

What really struck me was the narrative given by the two leaders afterward. One instructed the room that over the next few days, don’t be surprised if the world turns up messages for you in unexpected ways. And the other said, plainly, “You’re all adults: you’re responsible for yourselves, and that included your own happiness. Everyday you’re given the option to be the person you want to be — so do it.” And, well, that’s what the world told me in such large, varied ways.

B and I saw a stunning theatrical rendition of Jane Eyre Saturday night: a woman who goes against social norms and adversity, ultimately finding strength and confidence to be herself, as well finding herself on equal footing with her partner. As an almost-30-year-old, that story line rang pretty true.

Then I attended a long training session for the theatre on customer service skill development. In the crazy way the world works, the session touched upon (at least in how I read it): work/life balance; personal trigger warnings of stress and distress; honoring others’ dignities; reading and communicating with stressed/distressed people effectively; and visualizing your own personal and professional success. Phew!

Finally, I received an email about a meditation seminar happening in October: a two day event for those who have little or no experience with meditation on how to start a practice and use it effectively. I signed up within a day of seeing it!

I know that I complained about some really hard days lately, but I guess the larger universe heard that and answered pretty significantly. I can’t say every problem has been answered, but I’m certainly learning to come at a lot of those dilemmas from a different angle instead.