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Weekly Links?

I have toyed many times with doing a Weekly Links post. Going through my feed reader, visiting Facebook and Twitter, listening to NPR on my way home or reading something in a magazine in my orthopedist’s waiting room I find something and think, “I MUST SHARE THIS!”

But life is unpredictable. I can’t guarantee such a post would happen, or be timely. So instead, I share these nuggets on my blog’s Facebook page. What’s cool about using Facebook for links is that a discussion can take place right there below that one link. There’s some pretty intelligent, witty, and opinionated individuals who already follow me on Facebook so a lively conversation could ensue.

While I’m discussing Facebook, the site keeps changing things to force brand pages to buy ads to reach their followers and gain new ones. There’s plenty of drama about this practice and many brands are shutting down their Facebook pages because of it. I’m bringing this up because brands and blogs you have liked on Facebook may not be showing up in your feed. The way to get that content on your feed is to occasionally visit the actual brand page, and like and comment on what is shared. The more you interact with a page, the more you will see from that page. Supposedly, it has to be a minimum of three times in a calendar month, and if you go one month without interacting Facebook decides you’re not interested and that page will no longer show up on your feed.

I’ve chosen Facebook instead of Twitter to share these links because of the ability to comment and discuss with others, because it’s easier to search back and find a link and discussion, and because I have seen that more of you use Facebook. So if you’re on Facebook and have any interest in seeing what links intrigue me, come on over and say hello!

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This Week…

– Black cowl neck sweater from Ann Taylor
– Black pencil skirt, also from Ann Taylor
– Black cami from Second Base
– Black tall boots from Ros Homerson
– Gold “twig” bangles and a hammered gold knot necklace (both from… shocker… Ann Taylor).  Wore the necklace under the cowl so it just peeked out a bit on the side
– Hair wavy/curly, slightly smoky eye

– Teal shawl collar sweater from Banana Republic
– Black cami from Second Base
– Black trousers from Talbots (completely forgot I had these – put away my husband’s dry cleaning and found them)
– Black city boots from David Tate
– Silver and green/blue cuff bracelet and earrings from Anne Koplik

Well I am right now with wet hair and in my husband’s bathrobe but think I will be wearing my purple cowl neck sweater dress from Banana Republic and my black tall boots!  Better hop to it, I need to leave in less than 30 minutes to be at work on time.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I have an INSANE day at work that starts at 7am and ends around 6 or 7.  Le sigh.  My husband is hoping he can stop by later in the day after my first meeting is finished so he can show off Emerson and maybe take me to a late lunch.  Best present ever!  After a year, we have yet to bring Emerson to the office and my coworkers are constantly on me to meet her.  Anyway, I am going to treat myself on my birthday to wearing jeans – very likely the new ones from Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (man, if they WERE my daughter’s jeans they would hardly fit my hand!).

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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Week Recap

I have been loving the library at work. We have a couple tall bookcases in the kitchen on my floor of the office – coworkers drop off books they no longer want, take what looks interesting, bring it back when finished. Sometimes I know who dropped the books (like a coworker I think is fab came in last week with a big shopping bag and I couldn’t wait to see her haul), some I wonder (hrm, who loves Debbie Macomber so much that there’s freaking 20 of her books there? ), and sometimes there’s a clue (plane flight ticket stub from the Deputy Director, receipt from a bookstore near one of the other offices, etc.). I think this collection is extra-special to me because I know a coworker read it, and I work with an amazing group of intelligent, curious, open-minded, well-traveled and well-read folks.

I recently finished, I Was Told There’s Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Crosely often writes for the NYT, and this book is a collection of essays about her life. Think Sedaris, but instead it’s a Vegetarian Jewish recent college grad. Some of her pieces I found to be terrible cliché, others were well written, funny, and made me want to write more. Not a must-read at all, but I found it inspiration to get back to my journal writing and it was excellent Metro Commute reading (can stop when transferring trains or when at destination without feeling major pains of regret and longing).

Right now I am reading Mister Posterior and the Genius Child by Emily Jenkins. This story takes place from the point of view of an eight-year-old girl in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The more I read, the more I am interested in knowing how this story ends. I am on page 261, it ends on page 295 so I will be finished with the book before I finish my evening commute. I think the reason I like the book so well is that it really does feel like the voice of a child that age. I could see myself thinking and doing the same things at that age. The child isn’t horribly abused, burdened, wide beyond her years like children who are the voice in many novels. It’s hard to review for I am at a point where I really have no clue how this book will end. I have enjoyed the ride so far…

This weekend my husband and I saw the movie Buddy. It’s a Norwegian film with subtitles, and is currently available through the Sundance Channel on Comcast OnDemand. The protagonist Kristoffer (played by the uber cute Nicolai Cleve Broch – seriously Google Images him) is utterly charming, and we found this movie to be a great date movie that both hub and wife enjoyed.

Saturday night we went to my sister’s for dinner. She steamed clams, had sautéed some green (tasted and looked a bit like bok choy to me – oh the adventures of farmers market shopping!), crusty bread, wine, and these adorable macaroni and cheese cupcakes. We returned the favor last night when my husband slow cooked a roast from the farmer’s market on the grill and paired it with biscuits and peas. I am so happy that she lives so close that we can have family dinners like this on a regular basis.

Sunday I volunteered at my community’s baby and kid swap. What the event is, bring your old baby and kid stuff (clothes, shoes, toys, books, nursing equipment, maternity clothes, etc.) and take what you need. Whatever is left over at the end of the event is donated to charity. We have this event a couple times a year and I always volunteer because I think it is such a wonderful act. This time, we had a couple tables set up at the community farmers market. A lot of people who didn’t donate came by and were shocked we were giving away things for free. A couple families were so excited, one woman with four children was tearing up and wanted to give a donation. I said her contribution was having me lug less stuff to a thrift store at the end of the day. I could see the clothes her kids were wearing seemed very worn and the older kids had pants and coats that were too short.

I brought a lot of clothes and shoes that Emerson had outgrown and weren’t of sentimental value and not in any condition that I could sell on eBay (currently selling some of her like-new shoes on there to make fundage for new pairs). Lots of very nice stuff, all in good condition. In turn, I got some fantastic stuff for E – a pair of lavender snowpants, a couple cute dress/legging combos and some tops in 2T and 3T, two like-new fleece sleepers in 2T (she is currently wearing 18-24), a pair of gently worn Stride Rite Mary Janes, a rashguard shirt for this summer, a Vimse Imse swim diaper, and two wooden puzzle toys. My portion post-swap I gave to my neighbor who works at a DC public school – she says parents come and can’t even afford diapers for their babies or shoes for their school-aged children. She was thrilled for the three lawn & leaf bags of leftovers, and I was thrilled to know they were going to people who will appreciate them.

I won tickets to see Jonsi in concert at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday night. If anyone is interested, there are still tickets available for that night. I think it will be a fun show!

Tomorrow I am also meeting with a woman who is doing a project about fashion blogging, sponsored by Microsoft Research. Kinda cool, I am looking forward to it and reading the results once she is finished. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thursday I have the opportunity to check out the new Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio in Rockville, Maryland. They are having a press event that morning and the Grand Opening is the next day. I will be sure to come back and report all about it!

I can’t believe we’re already neck-deep into November. I don’t even want to THINK about Christmas until I have had my fill of Thanksgiving turkey (yeah, decided, well told my mom I wouldn’t go back to vegetarian or pescatarian until after the holidays) but it’s hard not to. I have already gotten email requests from my mom for my Christmas list, and everyone wants to know what Emerson needs. We’ve decided to get Emerson a play kitchen because she is really loving her little pots and pans and pretends to drink tea all the time. I have decided to get the Kidkraft Retro kitchen because it’s not too gaudy and will fit in the corner of our dining room where we can see her from the living room or the kitchen. My mom has already bought her some new pots and pans and I have been scoping out fake food kits that don’t include stuff like hamburgers and bacon.

I have already requested off the time between Christmas and New Years but don’t think we’ll have the money to go anywhere. However after this very busy and chaotic year, it will be nice to have a Staycation with my lovely family. And if it snows, well Emerson is now prepared with her new-ish lavender snow pants!

Week in Review

Hey guys, long time no talk!!

So as you know, Monday I went to work and looked relatively put together. Hooray!

Tuesday I worked from home, and no one wants to see me in my yoga pants, so no picture was taken.

my wardrobe todaymy wardrobe todayHowever that night I went to a concert (Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction – utterly amazing BTW) and did clean up a bit. A BIT. The rain was insanity, though it completely stopped a bit before the show started and stayed clear the rest of the evening.

My hair was dirty, but it was behaving nicely and I knew once I got outside it would jsut become a curly/frizzy mess. Surprisingly it got curly/frizzy in a cool beachy way and not in a headbanger way.

I wore a black nursing tank from Gap, my Gap Essential jeans and *gasp* Crocs. You KNOW I despise Crocs, but it was a necessity as that we had lawn seats and the place was utter muckety-muck. I would have busted my arse in flip flops or destroyed a perfectly good pair of proper footwear. So Crocs it was. My sister and I HAD to get a picture of a ticket with the Crocs because it was so ridiculous.

Times like this I wish I still owned a pair of Doc Martens…

Well the Crocs help, I still slipped down a hill when heading to the bathroom. However it was already dark and later in the evening so I wasn’t TOO embarassed. However I may have been one of the only sober folks who fell in such a manner. My friends HAD to get a picture of my muddy back as I was dancing to Jane’s Addiction…

The show was awesome, we went with a whole group of friends and we all had a grand time. My husband’s cousin watched E so we could get away. If it were a differnet show and different weather, I think we would have brought E so she would get used to live music. We already have a pair of baby headphones ready for the next concert!

Tuesday I felt a bit icky, and that night E and I both weren’t feeling our best. Wednesday I took off work to take E to the pediatrician and get myself some needed sleep. She and I are now fine, just a little stomach bug going around.

Thursday I went back to work, though not feeling my complete Allie self. I wore a tangerine colored puff-sleeve tee from Old Navy, my blue-gray low-slung pants from Gap, some orange leather thongs from Born, coral cut glass bead necklaces from a shop in Rehoboth Beach and second-day hair. No picture because my husband also worked and the only picture I would be able to capture would be dark.

So now we are on to today – Friday. Feeling good, so though it’s Casual Friday I decided to clean up a bit. Hair looks a bit strange because it was still wet (only dried the bangs, the rest dried by time I got to the Metro).

Black matte jersey wrap dress from Ann Taylor, red patent leather heels from Sofft, Silver hoops.

Makeup is really basic – just a bit of L’Oreal True Match foundation where needed, Nars blush in Orgasm, Benefit lipstick in Bouquet Dive and Cover Girl LashBlast mascara in Rich Black.

This weekend looks as though it’s going to be pretty insane. Tomorrow we have a 2-year old’s birthday party and a photo shoot immediately following. Sunday I may go house hunting with my sister, and I will surely be stopping by the farmer’s market for produce for the week.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I will “see” you on Monday!

End of Week

my wardrobe todaymy wardrobe today So I never got to Target to get a new mirror. I know the quality of these full-length shots suck… hopefully I can remedy the situation this week.

This is me on Wednesday. Blue print matte jersey wrap dress from Ann Taylor, red patent leather t-strap sandals from Sofft.

On Thursday, I wore my cobalt and gold print jersey top from Nordstrom with black ponte trousers from Old Navy.

Friday I wore Essential jeans, white ribbed tank and my gray and yellow striped cashmere blend cardigan – all from Gap.

Friday was me and my husband’s Five Year anniversary. He sent me a dozen roses to work which was so sweet and nice after such long stressful weeks. I actually got off work early and we headed to our favorite sushi restaurant for their Happy Hour. We picked up Emerson from my mom’s and headed home. My husband bought a bottle of port because he read that is what you are supposed to drink for five years. We each had a glass with some awesome super dark chocolate and watched Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Emerson got sleepy so we put her to bed, had ourselves a lovely bubble bath in our newish bathroom, another glass of port and talked for hours. Then early to bed. I think it was the most romantic and lovely anniversary we have had since getting married. Who says you can’t have romance with a kid? 🙂

Rest of the Week…

I have been dreadful with the picture taking lately, and do apologize. this has been a very busy couple of weeks, the mornings jam-packed with getting chores completed because the evenings are full with activities. I end up halfway at work before I realized that I forgot to take my photo. Also we are doing some rearranging around the house and the room with the mirror seems to be the drop-off point for all junk, making it hard to take a picture without looking as though i live in a dumpster.

So this is… Wednesday? I think so… Black dress from Velvet Torch, black ribbed tank with lace trim from Gap, silver chain from a Renaissance Festival, silver pocket watch on chain from Ann Taylor Loft, black open-weave peep-toe pumps from Steve Madden, silver hoops and cuff bracelet.

Hair is washed and conditioned, FrizzEase Dream Curls applied and allowed to air dry, then curled a few pieces with the curling iron, and a bit of Jonathan Dirt to keep it piecey.

Makeup is L’Oreal true Match foundation in C3, Smashbox Soft Lights in Tint on the apples of my cheeks, The Body Shop’s Slate shadow on lids and Soft Black in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled and DiorShow Unlimited mascara in black applied to both sets of lashes. Revlon LipGlide Sheer in Sheer Burgundy on lips.

I think Friday I wore my black merino v-neck from Ann Taylor and my patch-pocket cotton jeans from Gap Outlet. But I can’t fully recall. I promise to be better with the pictures this week!

A Week in Review….

I am sorry my dearies for being so dreadful in logging my attire. This week has been horrendous work-wise and the last thing I have wanted to do after ten hours of typing proposals is visit the web and type some more.

I must say I am in desperate need of a camera because this week’s outfits have been terribly fabu!

Black v-neck stretchy sweater from Banana Republic. Denim trousers from Ann Taylor. Black thong heeled sandals from Mossimo. Two chunky turquoise necklaces from Target. Silver cuff.

Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, Body Shop concealer, Chanel pressed powder, The Body Shop’s Bronzing Beads. On lips was The Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Caramel. On the eyes was The Body Shop’s Warmth Shimmer Cubes and MAC X mascara in black. I was doing a Body Shop Party so I had to look the part!

Most of Saturday was spent in bed or doing chores. Friends came over in the evening for a cookout, I wore my Gap Straight Bootcut jeans in vintage wash, my beaded thong sandals from Seychelles, a white ribbed tank from J. Crew and a gray tissue-weight boatneck ¾ sleeve hip-length tee from Mossimo. Hair was air dried and looked not too bad. On my face had only a touch of L’Oreal True Match foundation mixed with Neutrogena oil-free moisturizer SPF 15, some MAC X mascara in black and The Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Blush.

Black stretch knit v-neck sweater from Banana Republic. Slim fit, underneath I wore my favorite Frederick’s of Hollywood push-up bra. Ladies with large breasts, do not discount FOH. Yes they sell stripper garb and hooker shoes, but they also cater to the large-breasted women who don’t want to wear lingerie that look like nursing bras and granny panties. They have some great bras that provide a lot of uplift and are sexy to boot.

Anyhoo, black sweater with my ivory sueded cotton bootcut trousers from Ann Taylor. On my feet are my black Steve Madden peep-tie pumps with a braided/strappy leather design in the front. I call them my Carmen Miranda shoes. My large tortoise shell necklace from Target and my silver cuff.

Hair was second-day dirty and ironed straight, a bit of Sebastian Mud on the tips for a shaggy look. Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation of Smashbox primer, The Body Shop’s concealer, Chanel powder, The Body Shop’s Bronzing Beads as cheek color, BeneFit’s f..y..eye! on the lids, a touch of ivory Stila shadow, black liquid liner from Maybelline and two coats of MAC X mascara on Sue Eumura curled lashes. On lips was Goldie’s lipgloss in Blossom.

Emerald green stretch hip-length v-neck sweater from Banana Republic over my denim trousers from Ann Taylor. Brown tooled leather hip belt from my mom’s 1970’s wardrobe and brown leather knotted leather heeled sandals from Target/Mossimo. Tree skinny gold bangles from Claire’s and gold chandelier earrings from Express.

Hair was straight – Pantene thickening spray and Sexy Straight Hair balm applied when damp. Hair straightened with a large boar bristle round brush and my dryer, then smoothed with a straightening iron. A bit of Sebastian Mud to the tips for a shaggy look. My new highlights and lowlights really stand out with the hair straight.

Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, MAC stick concealer, Chanel Pressed Powder. Eyes have the Warm Shimmer Cubes from The Body Shop – the beige on the lids, the chocolate on the crease and along the lash lines. Two coats of MAC X mascara in black. On the cheeks is Bare Minerals in Warmth. On the lips is the Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Caramel.

Wednesday I went to a concert after work so I was a bit more casual. Bright coral gauzy babydoll-style hippie tunic with crocheted lace trim. Two strands of coral glass chips around my neck, my silver cuff, my beloved vintage-look Gap Lowrise Bootcut jeans that are perfectly frayed at the hems. On my feet are ornately beaded tongs with a wood heel from Seychelles. I got them from the Victoria’s Secret catalog last summer.

Hair is curly – on damp hair I applied Pantene’s thickening spray and Suave’s curling mousse (a la Matrix). I dried with a diffuser and the dryer on low. I then hit the whole head of hair with Marc Anthony’s Strictly Curls Humidity Spray and then curled the unruly pieces with a curling iron.

Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation over Smashbox primer. MAC stick concealer and Chanel pressed powder. Benefit’s f…y…eye! on my lids. A wash of The Body Shop’s Bronzing Beads over the face for glow, concentrated on the cheeks. The Body Sop’s Warmth Shimmer Cubes on my lids and The Body Shop’s Sheer Lipcolor in Sheer Caramel on my lips.

Tuesday was my blue merino v-neck from J. Crew, my ivory and black zebra print skirt from Isaac Mizrahi for Target, and my teal suede wedges from Seychelles. Silver cuff bracelet, teal glass pendant on a white gold chain.

Hair was curly thanks to the Suave/Matrix line for curly hair. Makeup was L’Oreal True Match foundation, The Body Shop concealer, Chanel pressed powder. Nars Orgasm blush on cheeks. The Body Shop’s Sheer Strawberry Sheer Lipcolor on the lips. Eyes had Stila ivory shadow on the lids and corners of the eyes, a thick line of Maybelline’s Ultra Liner liquid liner in black and two coats of MAC X mascara in black.

Week in Review…

For the life of me, I cannot remember what I wore to work on Tuesday! I think it was jeans and a black merino v-neck… something terribly boring and simple. LEt’s forget Tuesday, I know I did.

Wednesday I worked for two hours then had to hop a flight to a different time zone and weather zone. Int he two hours of work I had to conduct two interviews so I needed to look rpesentable. Then I was driving straight from work to the airport.

Electric blue tape yard square-necked cap sleeved shell from Marshall’s, silver chain with green glass disc from Italy, denim blazer from Ann Taylor, black trousers with sewn-in front creases from Ann Taylor, black Enzo boots. Once I got to Houston I lost the blazer and felt quite comfortable.

Same denim blazer and same boots, but this time with an indigo v-neck silk knit shell from Ann Taylor, two chunky turquoise beaded necklaces from Target and ivory sueded cotton bootcut trousers from Ann Taylor.

That evening we went out to dinner, I changed out of the blazer and ivory pants, went back to the black pants from Wednesday.

Coral silk knit v-neck sweater from Ann Taylor, gray cuffed suiting trousers from Tahari, same black Enzo boots. Two strangs of seaglass and silver beads around neck.

Every day, hair was straight with Pantene volumizing spray, Sexy Straight Hair balm and my trusty straightening iron.

Makeup was the same every day as well – i.d. Bare Escentuals foundation and concealer, Nars Orgasm blush, Goldie ligloss in Blossom, The Body Shop’s shadow in Fawn Pearl with a touch of Damson in the crease and along the lash line, lashes curled and MAC X mascara in black applied.

And today? Today so far I am wearing a turquoise tissue-weight tee fdrom J. Crew and a pair of my husband’s boxers from Banana Republic. Plan to put on a bra and some yoga pants, head to the gym, and then this afternoon we have a cookout. Not yet sure of the outfit, but once I figure it out, I will be sure to notify all of you!

#ShareTheGood with Goodwill Industries Week

DC Goodwill #ShareTheGood Goodwill Industries WeekThe first week of May each year, I dedicate a blog post on Wardrobe Oxygen to #ShareTheGood of Goodwill Industries. It’s an organization I believe in and am proud to support.  May 1 – May 7 marks Goodwill Industries Week. Sure you know Goodwill as the place where you can take all the bags of things that didn’t spark joy when you Marie Kondo-ed your home. They also have plenty of stores where you can score great deals on others’ donated items (FYI there’s a new location in Bowie, Maryland that’s gorgeous where I recently scored some amazing things). But, do you know why Goodwill accepts your donations? Do you know where the proceeds from those retail sales go?

Simply put – Goodwill helps people find jobs. Not just any people – people who are your neighbors, people whose kids go to your kids’ schools, people who are sitting next to you on the Metro or in line behind you at the grocery store. Goodwill of Greater Washington’s primary mission is to provide free job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities. Their goal is to give the populations they serve the tools they need to become self-sufficient.

This year, Goodwill is opening The Goodwill Excel Center in Washington, DC. It’s the first adult charter high school to award a high school diploma and industry recognized credentials rather than a GED. Students will receive the resources and support needed to earn a high school diploma and post-secondary education while developing career paths that present greater employment and career growth opportunities. In addition to the academic curriculum, the Goodwill Excel Center will provide a free, on-site drop-in child development center, transportation assistance and life coaching, while emphasizing a school-work-life balance through flexible scheduling, extended hours and year-round terms.  How awesome is that?

goodwill of greater washingtonIn 2015, Goodwill directly affected the lives of more than 2,000 people in our community. These are people who have discovered the dignity that comes with being a contributing member of our society. Goodwill also diverted over 28 million pounds of material from local landfills through their donated goods program. In addition to training and placing people into jobs, providing consumers with access to quality, low cost merchandise, and acting as one our region’s largest recyclers, Goodwill is also a job developer. With each new store and donation center that Goodwill opens, 25-30 new jobs are created. As a matter of fact, their new Bowie, Maryland store created 50 new jobs! Goodwill of Greater Washington’s mission is summed up by its tagline – “Transforming lives and communities through the power of education and employment”.

If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for just one day would you help them?

If you’d like to learn more about Goodwill of Greater Washington, find their nearest store or donation center, or get involved, please visit or download their free mobile app. To learn more about the Goodwill Excel Center visit

Capsule Wardrobe: Two Weeks Road Trip

capsule wardrobe two weeks cross country road trip by wardrobe oxygenI spent two weeks away from home this July, on the road sleeping in hotels. Most places we only stayed one night and often didn’t have the time to babysit our clothes at a laundromat. We only did proper laundry once on Day 7 yet I, a fashion lover, not only survived with a carry-on bag’s worth of clothes, I came home with many of the clothes never worn.

We traveled from DC by car, spending 14 nights in hotels from Ohio to Colorado, New Mexico to Tennessee. We stayed in posh hotels and decades-old Route 66 motels, we dined at greasy spoons and Zagat-rated restaurants, we saw landmarks and museums, went hiking, swimming, and spent a lot of time sitting in a car. This capsule wardrobe is a combination of what I brought and loved and what I wished I had brought for two weeks of whatever comes your way on a summer cross country road trip.

Wardrobe Oxygen - Capsule Wardrobe for two week cross country road trip

Shop Similar:
tee shirt dress | ponte dress | safari or shirt dress  of cotton, linen, or chambray | cotton or linen sundress | white jeans | girlfriend jeans | denim or chino shorts with stretch | athletic shorts with pockets | printed off the shoulder top | loose cotton tank or shell | crepe printed shell | striped or printed tee with flattering neckline | linen tunic | knit tank | home pride tee | athletic or moisture-wicking top | linen drapey cardigan | flattering yet not too skimpy bathing suit | trail running sneakers | metallic flat sandals | super comfy walking sandals in a neutral color | simple flip-flops | straw hat (not pictured: cotton baseball cap) | small crossbody bag with detachable straps | convertible bag or dressy backpack | bandana | statement necklace in same metallic as sandals | statement bracelet in same metallic | polarized sunglasses | lightweight oversized scarf or pareo | not pictured: five pairs of comfortable underwear, two pairs of chafe-preventing shorts, one sports bra, one strapless bra, one black bra, two nude bras, five pairs of no-see wool socks, pair of lightweight pajamas

Please note I cannot guarantee these items will remain in stock, especially as the summer season is coming to a close.  Use this as a guide towards packing for a similar trip.  The method to my madness, why I chose the things I did:

  • Gym: Even if you’re not a gym rat, you will want to be after spending the entire day in a car getting to your destination.  At each stop, stretch.  Before you sleep, stretch.  When you wake, stretch and/or do yoga.  But also move.  Get on the hotel treadmill or elliptical, and bring some clothes that not only work well for this but also dry quickly so you can wash them in the hotel sink after getting them all sweaty.  Be sure these clothes are ones that can leave a gym – have the shorts with pockets and a good fit for outdoor activities as well, and a top that you feel cute in when you’re climbing and hiking and biking and taking pics along the way.
  • Sun: Whether you’re hiking in Palo Duro canyon or walking the Mall in Washington, DC there’s going to be sun.  A cross-country trip is not the time to get a tan, the sun will wear you out, dehydrate you, and possibly put you out of commission for future excursions.  Take SPF, reapply it often, have a little tube in your bag for touch-ups, but also dress for sun.  A (packable if possible) straw hat for sightseeing and not pictured, a cotton baseball or bucket style hat for more rugged excursions.  Have things like a large cotton scarf or pareo or oversized linen tunic that can get crumpled at the bottom of your bag and come out to offer some coverage without weight.  I loved having a bandana for style but to also mop my brow. Wear clothes and shoes that will still be comfortable when you’re drenched with sweat – cotton, linen, chambray, broken-in shoes, sock liners, shorts long enough and items under dresses to prevent chub rub.  Also sunglasses; I learned on my trip that quality trumps style.  Look for UV protection but also polarized lenses that will offer a better view, crispness and clarity even in haze, fog, and rain.
  • Cool Nights: It may be 104 degrees at noon in Arizona, but it can go down to 60 when the sun sets.  A lightweight cardigan is enough to ward off chill so you can comfortably watch the sun set or chat until midnight around a fire pit.
  • Nice Dinners and Entertainment: One can only last on sandwiches so long.  We found the way to keep our sanity and pace was every so often step it up when it came to dining.  No need for sequins and heels, a few versatile pieces can go a long way.  I took these flat metallic sandals; they took up little room in my bag and dressed up anything I wore.  White jeans are a great addition; many may not consider them because they can stain so quickly, but I only wore them for two dinner, spot cleaned when I did spill, and they really made me look more pulled together.  A ponte fit and flare dress is great because it won’t wrinkle and it can dress up with nice shoes and jewelry or be a sight-seeing look with sandals.  Add some statement piece of jewelry for instant glamour; a necklace and bracelet in the same metallic finish as your sandals will make even denim shorts look chic.
  • State (or Country!) Pride: The HomeT was kind enough to send the three of us their Maryland shirts for our trip.  We wore them in two different cities and they were quite a conversation starter.  It helped us meet fellow Marylanders, have locals desire to help us, and we heard great stories about long car rides from other travelers.  Don’t be afraid to not look like a local, usually as soon as you open your mouth (or they see your license plate) they know.  If you’re proud of where you live, show it!  And consider The HomeT, their shirts are made in the USA and a portion of the proceeds go to MS research.
  • Sweat and Stains: Sweat, wrinkles, stains, and just being worn multiple times and constantly shoved in a bag took its toll on my wardrobe.  The pieces that lasted – looked good and I didn’t hate wearing again were patterned, and usually NOT jersey.  All those linen tees I reviewed from LOFT?  I took two and never wore either of them.  My white Boden linen tee?  It lasted an afternoon and then was disgusting.  I found my 100% cotton, linen, and even synthetics like viscose that weren’t fitted to be the most worn and the most enjoyed.
  • Variety: My dear, you’re going to be sick and tired of khaki shorts and tee shirts after three days.  And why should you resort to such style?  I packed a crepe-finish shell, three off the shoulder tops, a top with straps a hair wider than my bra that was textured and swung out from the neck, and would have loved if I had as many dresses in such variety as I have above.
  • Versatility: My white linen tunic shirt was my beach coverup, my bathrobe, and looked pretty cute tied at the waist with my girlfriend jeans.  The black tank worked with the athletic shorts and sneakers for a hike, but after being washed it also looked great with gold jewelry and white jeans for a night out, and under the button-front shirt to give it a different look.  The athletic shorts went to the gym, on hikes, but also were worn with a striped tee and scarf for one of the days in the car because they were comfortable and didn’t look too rugged.  Even my bags were versatile: I took a small leather crossbody from Talbots that when the strap was removed turned into a clutch; my bag from Rough & Tumble could go from shoulder bag to crossbody to backpack.  Not everything needs multiple lives, but a few can help your wardrobe go further.
  • Lots of Sitting: Many of you have mentioned you road trip in leggings, maxi dresses, even pajamas.  I treat road travel the same as airline travel: with respect.  You stop at restaurants, you check into hotels, you visit friends and relatives.  On a normal day would you do that in pajamas?  It’s possible to be comfortable and not look like a hot mess once you reach your destination.  I too thought maxi dresses were a great idea… until I wore one to a nasty truck stop in BFE in the pouring rain.  I wore my tee shirt dress almost every drive because it was comfortable, but looked more pulled together and even wore my “nice” ponte dress a couple shorter drives because I knew it wouldn’t get ruined.
  • Different Cultures and Lifestyles: Keep your clothes pretty neutral.  While I may be one for really flashy fashion and am not afraid of rocking a fatkini, it didn’t seem to be the place on a road trip.  The trip wasn’t about people seeing me, but me seeing the sights.  I kept a pretty simple color palette, brought a one-piece (though this strapless one), chose subtle looks for evenings out, and stuck to a very simple makeup look.  This is personal preference, you do you, but I find when traveling I have the best experiences when I’m dressing to be appropriate, not to be in the spotlight.
  • Fun Before Fashion: I wore a lot of looks I would never wear at home – sneakers with dresses, dressy tops with denim shorts, clothing that smelled clean but had obvious spots, and hair that looked as though I got caught in a wind tunnel.  The thing is, this trip is about the experience, not the style.  Spend less time in front of the mirror and more time in front of monuments and amazing scenery.  And for days when you don’t look that fabulous, make those the days you’re behind the camera (or controlling the selfie!).  A large pair of sunglasses and a straw hat can hide a lot, I know from experience!

All of this, excluding the hat and maybe the sneakers, should fit into a carry-on bag.  As I do with all my trips, I packed all my clothes and shoes in the Tom Bihn Aeronaut.  Karl and I each have one of these bags and they’re brilliant – they can be a shoulder bag, hand bag, or backpack.  They fit into an overhead compartment, have smart pockets, and Tom Bihn bags are made in the USA.  Mine has been through so much and still looks like new.  I had my toiletries separate in the Valencia from Aide de CampAide de Camp sent me this bag before my trip and it is so stylish and smartly designed.  What at first looks like a traditional weekender bag is much more.  Inside is a second bag, with foam compartments to make it a brilliant camera bag.  However, you can remove the camera compartments and have two stylish leather-trimmed bags for travel.  I used the large one as my beach bag, the small one could double as a purse.  The large one held all the family toiletries, and I used the small one as my personal bag with cosmetics, book, headphones, etc.

Adjust it according to your personal style, the time of year, and the places you know you will be visiting.  But expect to have your plans change, and something out of the ordinary pop up on your itinerary.  It’s possible to be dressed for whatever comes your way without bringing your entire wardrobe!

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#ShareTheGood with Goodwill Industries Week


I’m taking a break from outfits and Ask Allie advice posts for a little PSA. This week is Goodwill Industries Week; not only that this year Goodwill of Greater Washington is celebrating its 80th anniversary serving the DC area community. For those who have been reading Wardrobe Oxygen for a while you know Goodwill is one of my favorite charitable organizations. While you can donate that which has outgrown your home, wardrobe, or life to them; while you can head to Goodwill for some amazing deals (one person’s castoff is another’s treasure), but I love that Goodwill helps people find jobs. And not just any people – people who live in our community, people whose kids go to our schools, people sitting next to us on the Metro or standing in line behind us at the grocery store.

Goodwill of Greater Washington’s primary mission is to provide free job training and employment services to people with disadvantages and disabilities. Their goal is to give the populations they serve the tools they need to become self-sufficient. In 2014, Goodwill directly affected the lives of more than 3,000 of our neighbors while diverting over 25 million pounds of material from local landfills through their donation program. In addition to training and placing people into jobs, providing consumers with access to quality, low cost goods, and acting as one our region’s largest recyclers, Goodwill is also a job developer. With each new store and donation center that Goodwill opens, 25-30 new jobs are created.

If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for just one day would you help them?

If you’d like to learn more about Goodwill of Greater Washington, find their nearest store or donation center, or get involved, please visit or download their free mobile app from the iTunes app store.

End of Week Recap

You guys know I adore Ann Taylor LOFT clothing, well they now know it too! Check me out on LOFT’s Facebook page and be sure to check out the other fabulous bloggers they have featured (and if you leave a comment it would be very lovely…). There will be more photos in the future of me and other bloggers, so check back in a couple of weeks!

While we’re discussing LOFT, they currently have 30% off everything in their stores and online (use code GOFORIT)! I found the selection of sizes online to be a bit lacking, but ordered some jeans and a sweater and am crossing my fingers that I have style success. My last order with them was about 70% success, and 30% in a bag ready to be returned this weekend, however I have had more success with them this season than I have had in years. Good job LOFT in having more consistent sizing and achieving on-trend fashion with a usually budget-friendly pricetag.

And while we are discussing sales, Lands End Canvas is currently having an additional 20% off all their sale merchandise and free shipping on orders over $50! Use Promotion Code CANVASPLUS20 and PIN 2050.

My cousin Samara is in college, studying Fashion Design. She is tres stylish, and also tres talented! She just started a brand of adorable wrap charm bracelets called Ribbonwood by Samara. Check out her Facebook page for more pictures of the beauties and to find out how to score yourself one. I can totally see this as a staple in my summer wardrobe with sundresses and sandals!

I thought I had been journaling my daily outfit a long time, but this blogger has me beat! Seven years and counting, though I don’t think there is a book deal yet… enjoy!

It has been an interest week for Internet news – if you follow me on Twitter you know my opinion on Marie Claire’s choice to run that blog post by Maura Kelly, what I think of sides like Weardrobe and Chictopia, and the baby who died due to Farmville. I really feel that every blogger in the world has written enough on the subject (some because they really have strong feelings, others in a sad attempt for hits and SEO) that I don’t need to.

Weight Watchers has been a bit of a bust the past two weeks – work has been utterly insane (that morning I decided to shower and lay out my clothes the night before and instead woke at 4:15 but it was still painful when that alarm went off), and I have missed two weeks of meetings because of late days in the office. I don’t own a scale (and never will – I find a scale causes me to obsess over a number and not health). I have made a promise to myself to get back on track and go to my meeting next week no matter what.

It’s Halloween weekend, what are your plans? Have a great costume set up? We plan on taking Emerson Trick or Treating Sunday, and Saturday night we’re going to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show (and yes, we had this planned far in advance of this week’s Glee episode)! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

End of Last Week

Sorry I have been missing from here. Life has been pretty hectic to put it mildly. Work is sooo busy, living with three dogs is not the same as living with one, there have been non-work activities taking place… etc.

So anyway, here’s outfits from Thursday and Friday last week…


Talbots – Orange and brown print matte jersey dress
Sofft – Brown suede Mary Janes
J. Crew – Gold necklace
Ralph Lauren – Gold bangles
Ann Taylor – Gold hoops

Hair & Makeup:
(no pic of hair and makeup)
Hair washed and conditioned night before
Matrix Curl.Life Contouring Milk
Air dry overnight
Next morning, large sections in curling iron

Typical makeup with the Revlon ColorStay shadow quad (made it a daytime version of smoky eye), Benefit lipstick in Bouquet Dive, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife and my Cover Girl LashBlast mascara.


Banana Republic – Black cashmere puff sleeve sweater, black jersey cami underneath
Old Navy – Black ponte trousers
Ann Taylor – Black stretchy belt with patent leather buckle
David Tate – Black leather city boots
Silver hoops and cuff

Next day, cleaned up a bit with curling iron in sections and finger-combed

L’Oreal – True Match foundation in C3
Stila – Illuminated Tinted Moisturizer (the two mixed togther), Lip Glaze in Fruit Cake
Nars – Blush in Orgasm
Pop Beauty – Shadow palette for Brown Eyes

Your Challenge This Week

Your challenge – until Memorial Day (we’re talking only 12 days, 10 if you exclude today and the 26th) be good to yourself and your fellow woman. What do I mean?

1. Accept that you are a woman, not a moving mannequin. Of COURSE you will have some softness, bumps and lumps in various places. Moaning over them, cursing them and tugging at them doesn’t make them disappear and just ruins your mood, which affect your appearance. Every time you are ready to scowl at your reflection, stop in your tracks and find something you are happy about. Fabulous pedicure? Feminine ankles? Stop-in-your-tracks lashes? Maybe you are starting to see results from your new gym membership, or are always told you have the most infectious smile. Those who have high self esteem are seen as being more attractive to others – for a week allow yourself to accept and heck… even LOVE yourself and see how reactions will change!

2. Go a week without the rags. Can you do it, a week without TMZ, Perez, InTouch and OK!? A week without guessing who’s cellulite is being pictured on the front of the Inquirer, and what It Girl was caught sans makeup (or panties) the day before. Why do we find such entertainment in finding fellow women not look their best? It doesn’t help our appearance, or our soul. You may find a week without the gossip sites and rags may actually make you feel better about yourself.

3. Before you judge, try to place yourself in her shoes. “Omigod, did you see what SHE WAS WEARING?” “That woman should NOT be wearing that with HER figure.” “What a fat-ass, her skin is disgusting, wow she looks so old for her age!” How many times have you caught yourself whispering something similar to your friend (or whispering it to yourself)? Often times, those we judge we judge unfairly. Possibly that woman has a medical condition, is pregnant, just gave birth, is going through a nasty divorce, is cramming for The Bar, had a death in the family, had her house burn down and is wearing donated clothes… gosh the reasons could be endless and extreme. Thing is, we are so harsh on our fellow woman without stopping to wonder WHY, or to offer assistance. Have an acquaintance who can’t style her way out of a paper bag? Instead of gossiping about her tapered chinos over mojitos with your friends, offer a makeover day with a shopping trip (or a shop in her closet day). See a stranger at the fitting room admiring her reflection while you know that dress does nothing for her hips? Instead of sneering or giggling, why not gently offer her your opinion and an alternative choice?

No woman WANTS to look unflattering, she usually doesn’t have a clue how to change her style or get out from under her personal woes. Try to get into her shoes and think, if you were she, what would you like to hear or what would you need at that moment? You never know when karma will come back and assist you during a time of need.

One week of being considerate and compassionate to your fellow woman, and to your self. Amazing how one week can totally change your outlook on life and alter your priorities. Start the summer off great by detoxing your mindset. I challenge all of you to try this and come back and let me know how it went!

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 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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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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