Search Results for: label/The Artist's Way

Artist’s Way Post Delayed

I have no internet in my house for some reason, today is Emerson’s birthday party and if don’t have time to call and complain to Comcast or drive to a cafe with wifi to post what I wrote in MS Word. I’m writing this on my phone and it’s tough. I hope to have the post up this evening, if not tomorrow morning :)

Let’s Do This – The Artist’s Way

My copy of The Artist’s Way from 2006 with my highlighter still in it, a quote I circled in 2006 not even realizing that in 2009 I would name our child after the author, a section I underlined in 2006 that I still find relevant to myself in 2014, my signature and doodle then and now.

In 2005 I had a job that paid well and I worked with great people, but I was miserable. It was a bad fit, I felt stuck. I hated work, I hated myself. I felt stagnant, older than the age on my driver’s license, I was gaining weight and spending money on things I didn’t even want. I started blogging, but I didn’t really do much with it other than bitch and moan. A fellow blogger mentioned The Artist’s Way and decided to do it for the first 12 weeks of January. I liked the idea of a virtual book club with her and other bloggers, so I bought the book and decided to do the 12 weeks.

Best decision ever made. Doing it unblocked my creativity. I got more into blogging and had direction. I started mediating on a regular basis and doing yoga several times a week. I felt stronger physically and mentally. I started looking for a new job, realizing the only thing holding me back was myself. All this, and my relationship with Karl improved too. I think The Artist’s Way helped me be a better person.

That was 2006, and it’s now 2014 and I feel stagnant again. Good job, but the rest is rough. I feel a bit lost with what direction to go with this blog, I feel a bit lost creatively, and I am taking it out on my body again. And so, I have pulled out my original copy of The Artist’s Way and have decided to go through the 12-week process again.

And I’d love you to join me.

I am going to start this Sunday, giving a bit of time to get ready for it, and if you’d like to do it with me, it will give you time to get your own copy. Most libraries have them, though you may eventually want your own copy to highlight and dog ear and love to death.  It’s also available for Kindle.  You will also need a notebook or a place to store loose leaf pages, for you will be writing every morning. You do NOT need to be a writer, or an artist of any manner. This is a project to help you unblock your creativity, whatever your creative juices may be. With The Artist’s Way you can do it even if you feel you don’t have a creative bone in your body, it’s a way to clear your head, find yourself, jump start 2014.  Do note that the book speaks a lot about God, but clearly states that you do not have to believe in God or be religious in any way to enjoy the process.

So each Sunday I will do a post about The Artist’s Way, to kick off that week of the book. I encourage you to discuss it with me and with fellow readers in the comments. If you plan on writing about it on your blog, please link to your posts in the comments so we can come and chat on your site too. Let’s help one another make 2014 a great year, an inspiring year!

More information on The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron:

MORE INFORMATION: This Sunday will be an intro, a quick mention about that week’s topic.  After that, each Sunday will be a recap of the previous week and thoughts on the coming week’s topic.  Feel free to join in via comments, I hope we have a lively discussion.  Share links to your own blog posts, links to things that inspire you, places you go on your Artist’s Dates, photos of your journals or projects or whatever else you desire.  I hope the conversation goes from just me and you to between you readers.  When I did The Artist’s Way in 2006 I met other people through comments and have stayed friends with them til this day, it’s a great way to get to know people, have a support system, and make this world a bit smaller and more friendly!

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The Artist’s Way: Week 5 Recap/Starting Week 6

I must say, starting The Artist’s Way has messed with my head a bit. I was really doubting myself, feeling as though I was holding myself back, not accomplishing what I was capable of. And this week, my Morning Pages got me back on track. Comparing myself to fellow bloggers I feel as though I am not accomplishing all I could, but my Morning Pages reminded me that I may not have the same lifestyle, the same age, the same needs, the same goals as others. I am putting this pressure on myself not for my personal growth, but to be in some sort of invisible competition with others. And so I gave myself permission to lighten the hell up.

Friday I was a different person. Even Karl said that I got my “BAMF-ness back.” It literally felt as though a cloud was lifted. That morning I did my Morning Pages and write the ten ways I am mean to myself, I wrote how I put too much pressure on myself to prove to others that I am smart, creative, successful. And it’s true, I’m a 39 year old adult with a family, a career, this blog. I’m happy with who I am, why am I torturing myself on what I feel I SHOULD be versus what I am right now? It’s as though the past few weeks of The Artist’s Way has brought up all my teenaged insecurities. But as the exercise for writing the ten ways I am mean to myself states, making the negative explicit helps us to exorcise it.

Week 6: Recovering a Sense of Abundance
One positive thing about modern blogging is that you see how life will give you the money to be creative. I’ve seen that when I am stuck creatively, I receive fewer opportunities with the blog or have the wrong types sent my way. I was amazed this past Friday how I woke with a new outlook, felt free, and my inbox all day contained cool opportunities, emails from readers that were inspiring and positive, replies to old emails that kept me in the right frame of mind. As soon as I read the beginning of this week’s chapter I knew that Cameron was right.

We act like it’s God’s fault we didn’t go to Europe, take that painting class, go on that photo shoot.

I’ve never felt this way. I have always known that life/God/whatever provides the opportunities, but we are the ones who decide whether to take them. I have always felt that if I am in a bad situation, I am there by my own accord, and I am the one to get myself out. I read this section of this week’s chapter and thought immediately of this blog. This blog became a form of income right when we as a family needed it to achieve our life goals. It offers just enough to cover our bills so Karl can stay home with Emerson, so I don’t have to search for a different job that may pay more but may expect more time and emotional stress, so we can have a life where we can accomplish some dreams and goals.

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do.

The older I get and the longer I blog the more I realize I don’t want to be a full time blogger. I don’t want to be on TV, I don’t want to be hosting events every month, I don’t like the pressure of figuring out how to style gifted items or photographing every life event in a creative manner. I like being able to do this creative outlet on my terms, being able to say no, being able to unplug every so often. What I really want to do is spend more time with my family, write more but write what I enjoy not what I am contracted to write, travel, make my house a warm and welcoming space for us and our loved ones. When I think about what I want… fashion is low on the list. Being famous is even lower.

Authentic Luxury

When I did The Artist’s Way in 2006 I felt as though my creativity was stifled. I bought a box of 64 crayons, and organized them by color. I got a pack of markers, and organized them as well into a rainbow. I purchased one of those velvet posters that you can color in, and spent hours by myself filling it in. I ended up taking that poster and covering my journal with it. Just a few bucks at Target reclaimed my artistic inner child, and it was amazing, it was luxurious.

My life right now is busy, but I do have the luxury of time. I’m sitting on my couch right now banging away on my laptop while Karl and Emerson cuddle on the other couch watching The Olympics. I have nothing I NEED to do today. I can write, I can play on Polyvore, I can doodle in my journal or whip out my sewing machine. Together, Karl and I have worked hard to get to this point, to have time to do our passions without being selfish or sacrificing our quality of life or the life of our child.

Money Madness

Wow, this totally fits with my Little Bits of Luxury series, and I started it not even remembering this portion of The Artist’s Way. It’s something Karl and I have been trying to master since we decided to have him quit his day job and stay with Emerson. Watching how we spend just a couple dollars here or there which add up and prevent us from doing something more substantial and pleasurable. Scheduling get togethers at our home to force us to clear out and clean up our space; each time we end up finding things to donate, to sell, to reorganize and redecorate.

Having Emerson is a daily reminder to find the beauty in nature, the picture above is of a shelf in our downstairs bathroom. When I chose this medicine cabinet I imagined little candles or a collection of glass paperweights that I didn’t yet own.  But we had a baby and both ideas seemed too expensive or inappropriate. It stayed empty for a long while, and then we found an amazing shell on a trip and placed it there. Over the years, it has filled with more shells and rocks from walks in town or trips to other states. Emerson adds to it too, often coming home from the playground with a teeny little stone that she found special enough for the collection. I love how this tradition has forced all of us to be aware of natural abundance.

The more I do this process, the more I am remembering who I am and respecting it. I don’t need or want to be anyone but me, and The Artist’s Way is confirming this.

We’re halfway through this project, how are you feeling? It has been a crazy couple of weeks, what have you learned about yourself or changed in your life to encourage your creativity?

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The Artist’s Way: Week 4 Recap/Starting Week 5

So how was last week for everyone? I’ll be honest, I did Morning Pages I think three days and that’s about it. By Thursday I started reading my novel again along with multiple-page articles online. I didn’t do any of the tasks, I sort of took an AW break. But when I did do my Morning Pages… they were fantastic. Inspiring, such great ideas, and I even started talking about one of the ideas with a friend, making it into a reality, part of the future and we’re both excited. I started doing a bit of self-analysis about things in my life, and it has made me make more sense. I don’t want to drop the habit of Morning Pages once the 12 weeks of The Artist’s Way is over, it has been a great addition to my life, has helped me clean up my thoughts and clear out my brain of fuzz to let creativity and important thoughts have space.

So I can’t really recap the week because I was an AW slacker, so I hope to hear inspiring and interesting recaps from you folks. It has been hard to find time to properly comment, but I save your comments in my email inbox and often revisit them to keep me motivated with AW. I know that if I was held accountable with this blog I would have given up already; I need to finish and I bet you do too. So though I’ve been a bit mute in comments I’ll try to step it up and give back what you all have been giving me!

Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility
I realize the biggest issue I am having with myself during The Artist’s Way is I don’t know what I want. Do I want to have some great success based off my creative endeavors, or do I want to live more simply and enjoy the small things in life? I look at those who “have it all” and it doesn’t look appealing to me. And then I think… I have it all, the all that’s right for me. Why am I striving for more, is it for me, or is it to prove something to others? I don’t feel stuck, I don’t feel blocked. The only thing I feel that I don’t like is stress, I don’t want to add any more of that to my life.

Creativity is a spiritual issue.

I fully agree with this, and it makes me realize how much I have grown spiritually since 2006. When I feel frustrated and blocked, it’s usually when I haven’t made time for yoga, meditation, good sleep. When I put up barriers regarding a great idea or creative project, it isn’t because I don’t think I can do it or I don’t think it will be good, but because I weigh my options and I don’t think in the long run it will benefit or improve my current station in life. More money and more fame doesn’t mean more happiness. I don’t think I’m rigid, I think I fear messing up what beauty I have built around me.

For an artist, withdrawal is necessary.

My birthday was January 28th. I told Karl that what I wanted as a present was a day alone. A day where I didn’t have a schedule, no responsibilities, no need to change what I wanted to benefit others. When my birthday arrived, Karl had forgotten my hopes for the day. I woke to hearing, “Emerson get dressed so we can take Mommy out to breakfast for her birthday!” He came in the room with a cup of coffee and talked about after breakfast, heading to the phone store to upgrade our phones, stopping by the dry cleaner and grocery store, then spending the day together as a family, maybe renting a movie. He was excited, Emerson was excited, and I was near tears. Was I a terrible person for wanting to spend my birthday alone? I brushed my teeth and thought about it. I came out of the bathroom and gently reminded Karl about what I wanted to do today. He was miffed, but he understood. The day started off rough, I felt such guilt, but as I sat at the diner with my solo birthday breakfast not reading (damn it’s hard to eat out alone without reading!) I let the guilt disappear. And the day was amazing. I came back refreshed, calm, happy, inspired. We spent dinner together as a family, I had the best night’s sleep in a long time, and the next day Karl apologized and saw how the “Me Party” day brought me back to myself.

When I think about how I fight against doing a lot of new ventures, I wonder if it’s The Virtue Trap. I can’t quit my full time job and pursue creative endeavors, I need to support my family. I can’t go on an Artist’s Date, I already missed bedtime yesterday because I worked so late. I can’t take on that project, I already have so little time with my family and friends. But then I think… I am the one doing this, and it’s not because I want them to feel better but I want to feel better and I feel better with them than stressed out, no sleep, solo success. It’s not about being nice, it’s knowing myself and that family is more important than fame or fortune.

However, reading the piece about the mother and the pottery classes I thought about me and exercise. I totally do this all the time. I can’t take a class or go to the gym, it’s not fair to my family who sees me so little already. But they’ll see me even less if I die early, or our time together won’t be as enjoyable if I have health issues restricting my mobility or happiness. This Virtue Trap truly is self-destructive in every sense of the term.

List ten things you love and would love to do but are not allowed to do.

When I did this in 2006 I remember listing this quite quickly in my journal. This year I couldn’t think of anything except Quit Corporate America. And really, I don’t mind my job. Part of me hates the commute, but I’d rather work in the city than be stuck in the suburbs 24/7. Part of me hates the time at work that could be used for other things, but the money lets me do other things at the other times of the day.

With the wish list exercise, I was also stumped. I wrote a couple things and then got stuck. I pulled out my 2006 answers and saw one or two were the same from 2006, but the rest that I wrote… half I don’t care about any more and half I actually do or have now.

All of this and the tasks have made me question why I am doing The Artist’s Way… but this questioning is just as important as having some sort of creative breakthrough where I become a flamenco dancer and fill my home with plants and pillows. It’s a working meditation of sorts, who am I and is this who I want to be?

So how did it go for you? Do you find that page and a half truth point? I totally do and it makes writing easier because I look forward to that aha moment. Did you do an artist’s date? I feel my birthday was one, I trolled through a thrift store and IKEA with no goals and left a bit poorer but richer with ideas. Did you experience any synchronicity? Any other issues? Can’t wait to read them!

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The Artist’s Way: Week 3 Recap/Starting Week 4

So how was the last week for you? I started off with high hopes, but things got busy and I didn’t do as much as I hoped. However, I did do Morning Pages every day (a couple at night) and it was a great exercise. It was amazing what would come out on the pages, things I didn’t even realize I was thinking. The previous week was so many creative ideas, but this week was more about how I felt about such ideas and what I really want to do, to be. These days it seems every blogger also has a clothing or accessory line or a book or some sort of side business. And while I have some amazing ideas that I think could prove successful, I’m only thinking in that matter because I feel I need to. And this week helped me realize I don’t need to. Accomplishing The Artist’s Way doesn’t mean I now know how to start some sort of side project or business, it just means I will feel unstuck and use that unstuckness in a manner that is right for me and my life. I won’t go into details, but Wednesday (I seem to do the best Morning Pages on Wednesdays) I wrote without evening thinking, “I don’t want to be famous, I just want peace and to give peace to others.” And it reminded me why I still blog. It’s not to be the biggest or the best, it’s to write freely about a topic I enjoy, and to help fellow women feel a bit more at peace with themselves and their closets. Writing that felt so freeing, I ended up writing it several times in a row.

We’re all busy people, and if you’re doing The Artist’s Way with me, know that if you haven’t done all the tasks, haven’t been able to fit in an Artist’s Date, haven’t written every morning, you are not a failure, and even a little bit can help you break through and find your creative self. I’ve been beating myself up a bit about starting this journey with all of you and not really putting in 100% with it, but this week made me realize a little is better than nothing and it’s better to do it at a comfortable level than stress myself over this. I know nothing should get in the way of my recovery, but if The Artist’s Way becomes one more thing on my to-do list that I dread, I don’t think that will help me either. SO I am doing it at my pace, and whatever your pace is, it’s better than none at all.

A random thing from Week 3’s Detective Work… in 2006 I wrote that my favorite childhood toy was Barbies. I spent so much time not just playing with Barbies, but making them clothes. Be it out of Kleenex and Scotch tape, or later on actual fabric with needle and thread or my mom’s sewing machine, Barbie wasn’t an unrealistically shaped beauty goal for me, but a creative outlet. As a mom now, I don’t like Emerson playing with Barbies (or Bratz or Monster High whatevers) because they don’t look like little girls and I don’t want to give her a complex or have her feel she needs to look like these dolls to be beautiful, but she seems to get a Barbie for every birthday from a well-meaning friend or family member. But reading what I wrote pre-child about Barbie made me think about how Emerson loves creating outfits for herself, playing Toca Tailor on the phone, changing the clothes of her Groovy Girls and how we’re both more about the creative part of clothing than the doll inside the clothes. In fact, I ended up writing a whole big blog post about how I still do this now with the blog when offering advice to reader questions, but chose not to write it because it sounded more as though I was defending myself than sharing some insight from The Artist’s Way. So instead I plan to make my next Artist’s Date be me, my sewing machine locked in the office, making a dress for one of Emerson’s Barbies. And then I think I’ll get Emerson a box of Kleenex and a roll of Scotch tape and together we’ll see what sorts of beautiful gowns we can make together.

Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity
Week 4 gives a name to how I feel I need to have some sort of business from this blog and how I really feel – my real feelings and my official feelings.

“If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”

I find that when I feel off in my feelings on life, I add more to my plate so I am so busy and overwhelmed I can’t think. Then if people ask how I am, I can bitch about how busy I am instead of talking about how I actually am feeling. And to do this is accepted, congratulated these days. We get together with friends and drink coffee, talking about how much coffee we are because of how tired we are, and we begin unconsciously one-upping each other on who has it worse, who is more stressed, the most over-scheduled, the busiest.

Cameron mentions kriyas in this chapter, and when I read it I realized THAT’S why I have been sick all year. That’s why I get migraines the day after a stressful week at work. Looking back, I realize that my cold seemed to improve right after my a-ha moment in my Wednesday morning pages. I’m acknowledging the connections of everything, instead of rush rush rushing through life trying to keep it all together.

“A closet stuffed with ratty old clothes does not invite new ones.”

Well gosh, I write about this all the time, but in the literal sense. It’s true with clothing, and with everything else. I complain about lack of time, but when looking at my life, much of my time is taken up by things I don’t really enjoy or don’t benefit me, or are done more out of habit than pleasure.

“If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation.”

Well damn, I should have read this chapter before buying The Goldfinch on my Kindle and getting knee-deep into the story. And how does a blogger NOT read? At my job, there’s a lot of time waiting and doing that waiting in front of computers. I go through Feedly, I hop on Twitter, I read articles and blog posts and share them on Facebook, I read industry publications. At home, I have a dozen different magazines sitting in every bathroom waiting to be read, a stack of books on my nightstand, a Kindle in my purse and the app on my phone. Not reading in 2014 is far harder than it was in 2006 when I busied myself by rearranging the cabinets in my kitchen. But just by writing this I thought how I have a spiral notebook and a favorite pen at work already, if I can’t read I can write and doodle and draw. I can visit coworkers and discuss projects or pop culture. I can get out of my seat and go for a walk. I can delve into an application I have been putting off learning. There’s a lot I can do when waiting. And when on the train, I can listen to music, or I can listen to my own thoughts. I think of The Simple Living Guide, another book I read a decade ago and keep revisiting. One of the best things I learned from that book is to drive my work commute in silence. No NPR, no Spotify, no audiobooks, no phone calls. Just me alone with my thoughts. This week, I had a day where my brain felt as though it was in overdrive and I turned off the radio and drove home in silence. And that silence helped me calm my mind and think through my thoughts. And a week without reading will likely do the same.

I’d love to hear your challenges and triumphs with last week and how you feel about Week 4’s topic and tasks!

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The Artist’s Way: Week 2 Recap/Starting Week 3

I started this week not too well. No internet at home, fighting a cold, crazy work week. Morning Pages (even when I tried them at night) seemed a burden. Then on Wednesday morning I got up, did some yoga, started my Morning Pages with gripe gripe vent vent boring boring then… BANG. I started writing furiously and couldn’t stop. All these ideas, thoughts, and coming out to clearly and beautifully and in such a positive manner. I needed Week 2, it came at a time where I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Yeah, the end of the week was hard, but I think it may have been so hard on me because I was finally feeling unstuck. The whole week was very educational and I think a good experience for my creative growth.

It was good how we were tasks to dip back into Week 1 because Week 1 was really a wash for me. It made me feel that Week 1 must be a wash for many (and I know it was for so many of you) so it’s already in there to revisit it. The tasks this week were fun and helped me remember what I enjoy, care about, and what inspires me. Sewing, stained glass, hiking through the woods. Back when I did The Artist’s Way the first time I remembered the joy of coloring with crayons and bought a box of 64 colors and did it again with joy; now having Emerson in my life I find myself coloring almost weekly even if she tires of it. When I felt frustrated at work this week, I drew a design in black pen in my notebook and took my stash of highlighters and colored it in and it calmed me. I also liked the Life Pie task, because it really wasn’t as unbalanced as I expected it to be, and it reminded me how wonderful my current life is. Also the Ten Tiny Changes was great, what I wrote surprised me and it made me see how very doable some of them are and how easy it was to scratch one off the list.

Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
I wrote a pretty personal post Thursday, and the response was overwhelming. One commenter asked if I wrote it just to get the positive comments, and I told her the truth, it wasn’t. It wasn’t even a factor. I kept thinking about that, blogging is about comments and we want positive reinforcement but it’s easy to ignore the positive and focus only on the negative. In the margin of Week 3 below the quote from Thoreau, in 2006 I wrote, “Is it serious if it’s all praise? Too much encouragement is worse than none at all for it loses its meaning.” And seeing my handwriting after what transpired Thursday on the blog was a big honking slap in the face. As Cameron states in this chapter, disinterest is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.

In school, I would get poor grades not because I was a bad student, but because I wouldn’t complete assignments. I’d rather get a 0 than have my work criticized. So many times great opportunities have presented themselves and I haven’t jumped on them because I decide not participating is better than trying and failing. And that’s really why I am doing this again, to find the courage to be vulnerable. Cameron regularly writes about situations presenting themselves when we need them, and those negative comments may have been the world giving me a lesson on dealing with criticism.

The Detective Work exercise in this chapter was pretty interesting because I had written my answers in the book back in 2006, and rereading them makes me realize I am still the same person. Out of the 20 statements, I think I’d only change two or three in 2014. It’s a perfect way to go into this week’s tasks, which focus on ourselves as children, and positive people in our lives.

I’m sorry I wasn’t part of the conversation last week on the blog, with no home internet most of the week and a long week at the office there wasn’t much time to reply, and such heartfelt messages deserve more than henpecking typos on the iPhone. I will be more interactive this week and can not WAIT to hear how you are all doing!

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The Artist’s Way: Week 1 Recap/Starting Week 2

So how was Week 1 for everyone? Did you do your Morning Pages? Did you miss any days? How about your Artist’s Date? Did you learn anything about yourself or your creative process from the exercises?

This week was Emerson’s birthday Wednesday, and her party today. I didn’t do Morning Pages Wednesday, I had the day off and slept in until Emerson came in and jumped on me to wake up and we snuggled a bit and talked about being five. That was way better than writing in my opinion. Yesterday I set my alarm for 5:30 to get up and write then do yoga and I woke up at midnight and turned off the alarm and let my body wake up with the brightening sky and it felt like the right choice. Work was also a bit wonky, with time and projects; it was hard to shut off work mode when I left the office and something came up the day I planned to do a lunchtime date with myself. My Artist’s Date wasn’t really one at all, it was an hour-long bath reading a book. But I guess that’s better than nothing?

All the talk about the Censor made me realize that while my Censor has issue with my creativity, it also has one with my fitness and parenting. As the week progressed each day’s Morning Pages experience got more and more awful, hearing my Censor and trying to switch the negative into positives and having trouble with it, and each one bringing up another. Friday morning after writing I just wanted to hide under the covers again, I was feeling so very down about… well everything. It was also a hard day at work. Also this year seems to be the first birthday that Emerson is old enough to care about, think about, and remember. I stressed so much about presents, about her party. I mean really, she’s still five, it’s not like she’s expecting something Pinterest-worthy. She just wants cake and friends and presents. But I kept feeling as though I was letting her down, everyone would think I was a lazy parent.

Many many years ago I spent Jury Duty reading Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star I don’t recall much of the self-help book, but one thing stuck out to me was defining Everybody. Who IS this Everybody? It had an exercise where I had to write down who Everybody was. Writing it down made me realize Everybody was just one person on Facebook, one snarky blog reader who won’t shut up or go away, one friend I had in college and haven’t seen in a decade, that snobby jerk in the Finance department at work. This Everybody is BFFs with my Censor. But as Week 1 Artist’s Way tasks has us turn every negative from the Censor into a positive, actually naming Everybody breaks its power.

But this week looked from above to be a failure. No Artist’s Date, I didn’t do any writing, I didn’t do anything creative, I just got by. But the week ended not with me wanting to down a bottle of wine and got to bed early, but feeling as though I survived, and that’s positive. I dealt with a lot of inner demons – Everyone and my Censor and I faced them and stood my ground. I’m building a foundation, I am opening myself and strengthening myself. And on to Week 2!

Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity
Some of the quotes from this chapter that really stood out to me:

“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”

This really hit home for me. For the past year I feel as though I am coasting through life. Hours after an event I realize how great or important it was, I think then what I should have said to show loved ones that I cared and was listening. I spoke much about hoping 2014 would be a better year than 2013, but really looking back, this past year was pretty amazing, I just didn’t pay enough attention.

“Remember that it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work.”

Yes, yes, yes. I eat and veg on the couch and surf the internet instead of sleeping and get bitter and jealous and angry instead of doing, creating, being. The more slug I am, the less I do, the farther in a hole I become. It’s too hard to do that, I’m not qualified to do this, I don’t have the time/money/lifestyle/age to achieve that. But being blocked is more painful than failure. I have spent my entire life letting life happen to me. And while life has been quite good to me, I know if I put in some effort it could be even better, more ME. This week I was driving home from work and gave my mom a call (Bluetooth, nice and hands free!), and I said to her that the only think I have every truly pursued is Karl, and he’s the best thing to happen to my life. I wrote about this before, defending my choice, but I am seeing that letting life happen, being demure and reserved isn’t helping me, or my artistic self.

This week, the tasks are perfect for me. This past week has been so tough for me, I think maybe my internet went out on purpose because I needed a break. But now it’s time to be aware, to pay attention, be positive.

How was your week?  How do you feel about Week 2’s tasks?

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A Nice Way to Start a Tuesday…

This was in my Google Doc for comments…

Thank you, anonymous person.  Apology totally accepted, but do take this opportunity to understand that blogs take various shapes and forms, and that for many, the photos can be misconstrued when out of context.  I’d love to know what the heck you’re Googling to find close-ups of my face! :-)

Thank you again everyone for all the support and love the past week, it means the world to me.  And again, as I mentioned last week, don’t keep such positivity on the Internet.  The women who really need your support and such wonderful energy are those who aren’t likely to start a blog and be all over Google image searches.  Keep the positivity going, keep leading by example!

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The Artists Way – Starting Week 1

I can’t wait to start this process with you! I’d like to apologize for this being later in the day, I had a bit of a stomach bug yesterday and didn’t feel up to writing. But I hope to have these posts up by 9am ET Sunday so we can all start the week off early. If you’d like to participate in the discussion, I encourage comments here on the post. I know many of you read by email or RSS reader, so here’s a quick refresher on my commenting tool, Disqus:

  • I use Disqus for comments, but have it set that you do NOT have to register to leave a comment. It asks for a name and email, you can put any name (even Guest or Anonymous or Screw You) and any email (yes even so you can maintain your anonyminity
  • I use Disqus because when someone comments on your comment, you get an email. The commenter doesn’t see the email, Disqus does the work for you, keeping your email private. But this means if you want to be part of the discussion, you have to use a valid email to get responses (or else come back to look for a reply).
  • Again, your email is private. Disqus does get it, and I can see if I go into the administrative backend of my Disqus dashboard, but I NEVER use email addresses except to contact giveaway winners. I will not even email you unless you email me or ask me to email you. So your emails are secure.
  • True discussions can be had, more than one person can reply to a comments, replies can be replied to, and the comments will be threaded so you can see the discussion. They are set so the oldest comment will be on top so the conversation is in chronological order.
  • You can upvote or downvote comments but it doesn’t really affect the conversation, just a Facebook-esque feature to be able to participate without leaving a comment.
  • Please leave links to articles, books you like, blog posts you have written, anything on the web. Put at least two spaces (three is even better) after the URL so it will be active (others can just click to go there, won’t have to cut and paste). Disqus will hide the whole URL but won’t break or redirect it.
  • Any true spam will be deleted. If I get a comment that says, “so cool!” it will be deleted. Go ahead and link to your blog, only if you have something relevant to say, but all spamming and ads will be deleted.
  • Some comments may accidentally go to spam, I will try to approve them as quickly as possible and try to make it that your comments won’t be filtered like that in the future. I will NOT delete any comments that are relevant to the topic, even if controversial.
  • If Disqus doesn’t load for you, try a different browser.  I think I have fixed all the kinks and have checked my blog on my iPhone, IE, Firefox, and Chrome and can comment on all, but you may have a different version or Internet settings.  Also feel free to email me your comment and I’d be happy to post it here on your behalf (though you won’t get email notifications).

Okay, chores completed, on to The Artist’s Way!

Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety
As the quote above from the beginning of the chapter states, this week is to establish yourself in the process so you can explore your creativity without fear. A few things I thought about when reading this chapter, I look forward to your thoughts on it.

“Progress, not perfection is what we should be asking of ourselves.”

I’ll be honest, in 2006 and now a bunch of this chapter had me rolling my eyes. I don’t want to be some wacky artist, I never thought I had to be a drunk or crazy to be creative, this is soooo not about me. But remember not everything in this book will resonate completely with you, but hopefully much will. The goal with this isn’t to be the best artist in the world, it’s to help unlock your creative side and get more connected to your self.

“Affirmations help achieve a sense of safety and hope”

As soon as I read this quote I thought of Pinterest. Quotes are repined more than Crock Pot recipes. Why? Because reading them gives people a jolt of inspiration, of safety, of hope, of not feeling alone in their feelings. If you use Twitter, check out #theartistsway and see how many people across the globe are in the same mindset as you, looking to start 2014 in a creative and inspiring manner using a book that’s decades old.

“Who do you think you are?”

My Censor says this to me ALL THE TIME. What’s hard is my Censor isn’t the only one. I hear it in comments, in emails, on message boards, overheard at a blogger event. It’s hard to ignore it when you hear it so much. Am I one of those sad fools auditioning for American Idol who is tone deaf? But then, it’s not just my mom who is giving me encouragement and compliments. It’s so much easier to listen to the Censor than actually DO something and open myself up to criticism from real people. But the thing is, creativity is for yourself, not to impress others. Being true to yourself opens yourself up not to criticism but living fully. Writing down my blurts and then converting them to affirmations felt hokey but was actually quite freeing. I will continue this exercise this week in my Morning Pages.

This Week’s Tasks:

  1. Morning Pages. I started this Thursday, I just couldn’t wait. I had a lot on my mind, I was back to work and feeling as though I was falling back into my pit of stress and drama and frustration. Day 1 didn’t do much, Day 2 was better, Day 3 felt as though something unlocked. Be you sick, hungover, sleep deprived, being attacked by multiple children, whatever, do your pages. Lock yourself in the bathroom or go sit in your car in your bathrobe but do them. Last time I did The Artist’s Way it was the task by far with the most transformative powers. Don’t be Hemingway, don’t be talented, don’t think just write. And if you’re like me, you may feel you’re rebuilding dormant hand muscles with the process.
  2. Artist Date. I remember this being tough before, and before I didn’t have a kid. I’ve already looked at my work calendar and see a day where I can actually leave the office, take a walk, go to a bookstore and not mess with my iPhone or do anything but let my mind enjoy itself.
  3. Time Travel. As soon as I read this, I thought of an ex-friend who almost made me stop blogging all together. She took something I wrote on my blog and used it against me big time. While I didn’t get Dooced, it is a big reason why I changed jobs, shut down my original blog and often sterilize my blog posts out of fear.
  4. More Time Travel. It has been almost a decade, but it still feels good to take a picture of her and draw a mustache and devil horns on it.  Yeah, may have to do it again this week.
  5. Letter to the Editor. This one felt hokey in 2006 and feels hokey now but I’ll do it. Eh, it does get you thinking…
  6. Time Travel. Three old champions of your creative self-worth. If you’re like me you feel stumped, but then you start thinking about crazy things you forgot from college, your first job, 6th grade, summer camp. And that thinking makes you realize you actually have had quite a few champions throughout life.
  7. Time Travel Thank You. Again, feels hokey to me but actually will help reinforce the fact that I have been supported, and have great people who have been or are currently in my life.
  8. Imaginary Lives. I love this task. Quickly without thought write these down, and then think about what you wrote and imagine if you WERE one of those things. Very fun.
  9. Injuries and Monsters. If you write it down, you own it, it doesn’t own you.
  10. Artist Walk. I just finished another book last night that suggested the same thing. The world is telling me something, it’s telling me to get outside and think. I like it.

So let’s check in next Sunday the 12th, talk about what we did what we didn’t do, what we liked, what we felt, how it’s going. I’ll be occasionally sharing my thoughts or activities on Twitter or Instagram, and will come back every so often during the week to comment on this post. I can’t wait to hear how you all are doing with Week 1 of The Artist’s Way!

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The Best Way to Ruin Your Appearance

The other morning my husband was telling me about an event he had to photograph.

“There was this woman there, she had this flame red hair, red lips, a bright green dress. It worked in some kooky cool way. She had a great laugh, I dug her until she did that damn thing all women do.”

“What?” I asked, wondering what it could be. Gossip? Put on makeup in public? Ignore her friends to play with her phone? Play with her hair too much?

“She caught me taking a candid of her and said I better watch out or she may break my camera with her ugly big nose. Seriously, I didn’t even notice her nose, just the whole great package. But once she said it, it was like nose nose nose all night long. I no longer saw her, just that nose.”

This weekend I bumped into a neighbor. I said she looked great, did she change her hair color? She then went into this whole story about all her gray hair, she had to dye it because people were mistaking her for her 85-year old grandmother. The woman doesn’t look a day over 35, with her original color or with this new shade. However, after her comment I noticed her laugh lines, and was more curious about how much gray she had in comparison to me. Her comment made me notice her age, not her self.

I wrote about this trend before in my post, “The Self-deprecating Comment” but it bears repeating.

Women, you are not doing yourself any favors when you knock yourself down in public situations. 

I have done it myself – better to mention the baby weight/zit on my chin/bags under my eyes/stain on my shirt before someone else does. By mentioning it, at least people know I know it exists, and don’t think I’m hot stuff running around town flaunting the baby weight/zit/dark circles/dirty blouse.

The thing is… the world isn’t analyzing every inch of you the way in which you do. You stare at your pores, you fret over your yellowed teeth, you agonize over that lower belly that won’t disappear no matter how many crunches you do. But no one else really does. They see your whole package – the way you carry yourself, how animated you are when you speak, your joyful laugh. They see what you wear in conjunction with your hair, your makeup, your bag, your facial expressions. Most people aren’t picking you apart.

When you make a joke or an excuse for your weight, your features, your laugh, some part of you… you’re not showing that you’re self-aware, you’re showing that you’re self-conscious. And you are making that feature more prominent… and yourself as less attractive.

If that woman in green at that event had not made that comment, my husband would have probably come home, told me about the event, and while mentioning some of the other guests would have mentioned her. He would have noticed her not just because he’s married to a fashion blogger and now knows names of designers, necklines, and Project Runway contestants; he would have noticed her because she was a pretty fabulous and perfectly flamboyant woman. Instead, because of her self-deprecating “joke,” she was mentioned with the creepy guy who kept staring at the high schoolers on the dance floor.

If my friend at the market had just accepted my comment, said she was ready for a change and decided to go a bit darker, I wouldn’t have given her age a second thought. I wouldn’t have even noticed her wrinkles. The conversation would have continued with a more positive tone. After having a friend tear herself down, the only thing you can do is give a pity compliment back (“Oh no, you look amazing!”), or do a “misery loves company” (“I hear you, look at my roots, I’m practically salt and pepper!”). Both feel pretty lousy, and leave both person a bit more depressed.

Have faith in yourself, and the world around you. 
We aren’t noticing what you’re noticing. That is, unless you point it out to us. 

So go to that event in the emerald green dress, and go ahead and dye your hair a color that makes you feel more confident. But don’t ruin that lovely look and your lovely self with a joke about your appearance or a self-deprecating comment.

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You Can Go Your Own Way

Did you ever love a book until you read a dozen negative reviews on Amazon? You started seeing what those other people saw in the novel, and then started agreeing with them. You saw their point, and maybe you were too quick to fall in love.

Sometimes it happens the other way. Often times in fashion I see a trend and swear I will NEVER wear it and six months later it’s in my closet. It looked hideous on the runway, looked hideous on that A-lister, but after seeing a couple bloggers and B-listers in it, the darn thing grew on me.

Sometimes getting the opinions of others can help greatly. It may give you more insight into a book, a speech, a work of art, even a pair of boots. And sometimes your true feelings get lost in the masses. Try as you might, it’s easy to get caught up in a mob mentality and agree with others even if you have some doubt in your gut.

A stylish woman doesn’t doubt her gut. She knows herself and knows what she feels, what she knows, what she loves. She may learn from others’ experiences, but meditates on new information and decides how it can improve or deepen herself and her own beliefs. She doesn’t fall for the mob mentality.

The blogosphere is a tough place to be an individual. People will judge your post or your comment before they even finish reading the first sentence. Everyone has a strong opinion, and that opinion is even more strong when the person can be anonymous. The same holds true for all the news sites where folks go bonkers in the comments, missing the point of the article and immediately launching into their personal beliefs. Even in everyday society we get caught in the mass hype, be it what salad chain we go to at lunch, what TV show we watch after work, where we drink our coffee.

There’s nothing wrong with liking what the masses like… as long as you honestly do like it. There’s nothing wrong with disliking what the masses dislike… again if you honestly believe it. Following with the crowd is what girls do in high school, not what grown women do in adulthood.

You’ve earned the right to think for yourself. You are an adult – you pay your own way, you live your own life, you created that brain full of facts and figures and the right amount of frivolity. Your opinion isn’t any less important than others. So believe in yourself, and your opinion. Trust your gut, and have the confidence to go your own way. And when you encounter grown-ass women acting like bullies… call them out. They have a right to their opinion, they have a right to share their opinion, but no one has the right to tell you what to believe, what to like, what to hate, what to wear, and who to be.

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Guest Blogger at In My Professional Opinion

In My Professional Opinion LogoHi all, I recently was asked to be a guest blogger at In My Professional Opinion!

I love this blog and the two authors – Melissa Street (who has become a good blogging friend of mine) is a mom and professional, freelance makeup artist with 20 years of experience in the film, television and live event industries; Aileen Wrench has worked as a Strategic Marketing Professional for 13 years. The two offer very valuable advice on beauty and products from their “insider view.”

Piggy BankMy guest post is the second in a series of posts about How to Be a Budget Bombshell.

Many of us are feeling the pinch due to the current economic situation, and I have always believed that style can be found at any budget level, so I find this series of posts very beneficial to any woman.

I encourage you to go visit In My Professional Opinion (and check out what I wrote). Hope you find it entertaining and helpful!

Guest Blogger at In My Professional Opinion

In My Professional Opinion LogoHi all, I recently was asked to be a guest blogger at In My Professional Opinion!

I love this blog and the two authors – Melissa Street (who has become a good blogging friend of mine) is a mom and professional, freelance makeup artist with 20 years of experience in the film, television and live event industries; Aileen Wrench has worked as a Strategic Marketing Professional for 13 years. The two offer very valuable advice on beauty and products from their “insider view.”

Piggy BankMy guest post is the second in a series of posts about How to Be a Budget Bombshell.

Many of us are feeling the pinch due to the current economic situation, and I have always believed that style can be found at any budget level, so I find this series of posts very beneficial to any woman.

I encourage you to go visit In My Professional Opinion (and check out what I wrote). Hope you find it entertaining and helpful!

The Girl on the Train, Blogging, and the Whole Story

the girl on the train paula hawkins

I heard about The Girl on the Train on NPR; I caught the last bit of an interview with the author Paula Hawkins and was interested. I had finished the second book in the Outlander series and was looking for a change of pace before I delved into the third. I listened to The Girl on the Train via Audible on my commute to and from work and ended up not just with a change of pace from Dragonfly in Amber, but a new perspective on blogging, social media, and its audience.

The Girl on the Train is a thriller, very reminiscent of Gone Girl, but it’s also a great example of how looks can be deceiving and what happens when people become invested in the lives of strangers. Rachel Watson is a lonely, lost woman; she’s recently divorced and her life is a mess. She takes the train every day, and every day she passes the same row of houses next to the tracks. One is her old house, still inhabited by her ex and now accompanied by his new wife and baby; but the one that interests Rachel is a few doors down. A couple lives there, a couple that she sees as perfect. She doesn’t know them, but she imagines their lives between glimpses of them sipping wine or coffee on their patio or rooftop terrace. In her head she imagines their relationship, their professions, their hobbies; she even creates names for them – Jason and Jess. When tragedy strikes, Rachel ends up being involved in the life of this couple and realizes they aren’t the people in her morning commute fantasies.

Unlike bloggers and social media celebs, Jason and Jess don’t realize they have an audience. But like bloggers, what Rachel the audience sees is only a snippet of their life and she is making the decision to fill in the blanks.

While listening to this book, I couldn’t help but think about how bloggers and Internet personalities are analyzed, criticized, and sometimes idolized. I see on Twitter, on message boards, and on fan/hate blogs how people like Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train make the decision to fill in the blanks. That somehow, if one looked hard enough at the photos chosen by a blogger for their blog or how a paragraph is phrased they can determine if someone is having an affair, miserable at their job, upset that she can’t conceive, a terrible friend, a neglectful parent. Or the opposite, that by examining one’s Instagram account enough one can determine if someone’s husband really loves her, she’s such a nice and giving person, or she’s a really good mother.

The thing is you don’t know why someone chooses to share what they do. Maybe all the pictures turned out terrible except the one where she’s looking down at the ground. Maybe she always wears sunglasses because even after all these years she’s still awkward in front of the camera and the oversized shades hide her deer in the headlights gaze. Maybe she doesn’t share her husband on Instagram because he’s uncomfortable being photographed.  Maybe the post was written in a rush before the baby woke from his nap and she hit publish before proofing.  And maybe she knows how to play the game and sees from her analytics that she makes more sales when she has that smug smile than when she shows her teeth, or that when she writes something controversial she gets more pageviews, more hate followers, more fame, and more money.

The Girl on the Train is a good reminder that with those we follow on the Internet, and even those we know in real life, we make assumptions and fill in the blanks. And often, our assumptions are dead wrong.

I’m not saying getting invested in a blogger, vlogger, or even reality show star is a bad idea. I love blogs, and I have many favorite bloggers and personalities on social media, some who have become friends in real life and some who feel like a friend though I have never met them and likely never will. This isn’t bad, the Internet is a way to not feel so alone or unusual, to connect and relate to others across the globe. To find kindred spirits and gain inspiration. But it’s important to remember you don’t really know them, you only know what they choose for you to know and through the filter they have picked. It’s entertainment, it’s art, but it’s never the whole story.

The Girl on the Train was a well-written psychological thriller. I don’t want to share much more because it’s definitely the type of novel that is more enjoyable when you have no idea what happens before you start reading. And it’s clear I enjoyed how stereotypical characters were proven to be far more complex than originally thought; something that holds true for everyone you meet in real life, and on the Internet.

Cool New Blog…

One of the coolest things about blogging is making new friends all over the world. I have been blogging since early 2005 and have made friends that I have met, that I have gotten to know on a personal level, and that have helped me become a better blogger.

One of these friends is Melissa Street, a very talented professional makeup artist. I don’t know who found whom first, but we have communicated via blog comments, email and social networking for quite a while. I have learned so much from her – cosmetic brands to try out, products that have changed my life, etc. And just wait until Emerson is big enough to sport the adorable “Gucci Gucci Goo!” tee shirt Melissa got for her! :)

Anyway, Melissa has a new blog entitled, “In My Professional Opinion” and I adore it. Melissa has over 20 years in the TV and film industry, so has a great idea of what beauty products can really work for special events or every day wear. Her blog isn’t just high-end lines; Melissa will mix drugstore with higher end brands.

I have learned a lot from Melissa Street; I hope you will check out her blog and enjoy it as much as I have! :)

My Head is Too Big to be Hipster: A Warby Parker Review

Once I got new glasses, I wanted more. A pair of red frames to channel my inner Sally Jesse Raphael, a funky blue or green pair to jazz up all-black ensembles, a funky shape to show personality at the office. I had heard a lot of great things about Warby Parker and decided to try a pair of frames from them.

Me in my new glasses – Lafont’s Issy & La collection, the frame is called “Gloss”

Warby Parker Eyewear’s mission is to offer reasonably-priced fashionable frames. On top of that, for every pair of Warby Parkers sold, a new pair is given to someone in need. Warby Parker is also proud to be a carbon-neutral company.

Warby Parker has a try-on program where you can pick five frames and try them on at home. They will ship the glasses to you for free and offer free return postage; I decided to take advantage of this program and see if I could find a new pair of signature prescription frames.

The Warby Parker site is very easy to navigate; click on your gender and then whether you desire optical or sunglass frames. From there you can choose material, color, frame shape, and width. From experience, I know my face is pretty wide, so I stuck to the medium and wide styles of frames. Since I already have a pair of tortoiseshell frames, I stuck to more unusual colors.

The glasses arrived quickly in a sturdy shipping box, and then a lovely navy linen box. Each pair of glasses was in its own compartment, wrapped in plastic and labeled with its name. Each pair of Warby Parker frames has the brand and style name inside on the temple. I found the quality to be stellar, especially for the price. These frames rival the more expensive designer styles I tried at my nearby glasses shop. The return process is simple – peel off the self-adhesive UPS label and drop it in a nearby UPS drop box. I couldn’t be more impressed with Warby Parker and their process… except that my face is too big for them.

Maybe I should have tried men’s frames, but I felt that almost every pair I tried (except for the Bensen, and they just weren’t a style I was looking for) was just a hair too small for my face. I often have this issue not just with glasses, but sunglasses as well. In fact, when I got my new glasses, they were the only ones I liked after trying on about 20 pairs – each other pair seemed just a bit too small for my face shape, even some of the men’s frames I tried.

So if you have a normal to small-sized noggin, I encourage you to try Warby Parker. The Warby Parker at-home program is completely free so you have nothing to risk; if you find a pair you like you can feel good that not only will you look great, but your purchase will also be doing good. As for me, I will have to look elsewhere, my head is just too big to be hipster.

Note: Warby Parker has no idea I am doing this review and I was not compensated in any way for it.  I just decided to try the brand and share my experience with you!

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Stacy London’s The Truth About Style Book and Tour

Thursday night I had the pleasure of seeing Stacy London speak at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in DC. Her book, The Truth About Style came out this past Tuesday and after seeing the book trailer I knew I had to be at the speaking engagement.

I met Stacy London a few months ago when she was at a local mall promoting the partnership between her company Style for Hire and Westfield Malls. The experience made me a London fan for life – she’s so real, and she truly cares about helping women feel beautiful and comfortable in clothing. Thursday night, I realized that she cares even more so about women feeling beautiful and comfortable in their own skin.

I don’t want to give much away about what she discussed or what the book is about because I truly think this is a style book that you should read. Borrow it from the library, loan it from a friend, sneak into a nook of Barnes and Noble or splurge on a copy – you won’t regret it. I can just say that Thursday night gave me such motivation regarding this blog.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t terribly happy about my body. I had a lot of opinions about fashion and style, a lot of rules, and a lot of snark. Through blogging, I got to know so many readers – you weren’t pageviews but people. I saw that I wasn’t alone in not liking the body I was in, and I saw that my snark wasn’t benefiting anyone. What’s the point of a fashion blog (or book for that matter) that dismisses those who don’t “get” fashion, that pigeonholes all women into one lump who needs a white shirt, tan trench, and a strand of real pearls?

Through blogging and through changes in my life (hello new awesome job and new awesome child) I began loving this body.  It’s not perfect… but then no one has a “perfect” body. I came to terms with it, and decided to work with it. And I also changed my voice on this blog – women don’t need another person telling them what they’re doing wrong, we need voices to give us food for thought and tips on how to feel comfortable, feel ourselves, and recognize our beauty.


I still have strong opinions on fashion and style, but now when I write I don’t just think about me and my little patch of Earth, but I try to make it more universal, more accepting. And Thursday night I learned that through her ten years on What Not to Wear, Stacy London has had the same experience. Dealing with real women has made her more sympathetic, sensitive, and understanding to others and also to herself. And her book The Truth About Style is about just that. This book won’t give you a list of ten must-have items in your closet, or tell you how to hide your hips or tummy. It won’t tell you what color to wear if you’re a brunette or redhead, and it won’t inform you of what items should be purged from your closet. But it will help you realize how fellow women have learned to find personal style… and may help you find yours along the way.


At the event with friends and fellow bloggers Nancye, Heidi, Alison, Chelsea, and Dana

And if Stacy London’s book tour is coming to a city near you, I encourage you to get a ticket to attend. She is funny, she is raw, she is honest, and she is inspiring. And she may just renew your faith in fashion, style, and yourself.

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Contest: Tolani Scarf from

jessica alba tolani scarfTo celebrate me coming back to work and to blogging, I have a great contest for you readers!

One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!

vanessa minnillo tolani scarfHow to enter:
Send an email to with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.

Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (
YouTube ( or

Good luck!

Go Ahead Put Your Red Dress On

Dress: c/o Dobbin Clothing | Necklace: Leona Pendant c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot | Watch: c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: Nordstrom (similar), Nordstrom (similar), had forever | Glasses: Derek Cardigan 7003 c/o | Shoes: Ivanka Trump

One thing bloggers get flack for is wearing too many c/o (courtesy of) items. How can a reader tell your true personal style or find you inspiring when you have a completely gifted outfit? I guess it depends on the blogger, but over the years I have learned to not accept every free thing that is offered to me. It does water down your personal style, it makes you seem less credible… and between you and me it is a pain to them take these gifted items that aren’t really your style and try to style them in a good way for the blog. I have had mornings when I have cried over not knowing how to make a garment or accessory look decent, and I feel guilty to my readers and to the brand that was kind enough to send it my way.

I don’t feel guilty wearing gifted items. One, it’s a lovely perk for working hard on this blog, but two it’s such a great chance to showcase lesser-known amazing brands. I for one may never have known about Dobbin Clothing if they hadn’t contacted me and sent me a dress. Dobbin Clothing has now become such a fave of mine – high quality garments made with fine fabrics from European mills but created here in the US of A.  They pride themselves in making tasteful stylish workhorses for your wardrobe.  The women behind Dobbin Clothing are just as lovely as their creations too!

So yeah, there’s a lot of c/o above… but every c/o up there is one you have likely seen before or will likely see many times again because I love the pieces and I find they fit my personal style. Each piece above I would purchase with my own money if I was able.  I think with blogs, it’s less about how one gets a garment or accessory and more about how they style it and whether it fits their style and message.

UPDATE: Like this dress?  This is the “Nora” by Dobbin Clothing, and they are offering all Wardrobe Oxygen readers 20% off it, in black or red.  Use the code WARDOX20 at checkout to get 20% off the Nora Dress in black or red.  No expiration date, but this code cannot be used in conjunction with the first-time buyer code.

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Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.

Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.

Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.

Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.

Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.

Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).

If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.