Weekend Reads #59

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weekend reads
Photo by Lost Co on Unsplash

I don’t regret quitting my job to focus on the blog. Quitting my job and focusing on what I have built and loved for over a decade has been hard and thrilling and scary and rewarding. I have learned so much, and have gained so much confidence. It also helped me make myself a priority. I didn’t realize how much I had put myself on the back burner for everyone and everything else. My health has improved, I’m stronger, I sleep better, I’m a better parent and partner. But damn I’m lonely.

Don’t get me wrong, I have amazing friends, the greatest husband, a fabulous relationship with my daughter, a wonderful extended family. At any minute I could call or text someone and get a response, I work from home with my husband and we see one another most of the day, and I live in a friendly community where I could start a robust conversation as the café, the library, the grocery store parking lot with a neighbor or friend or friendly stranger. What I miss is the workplace community. The longer I work for myself the more I realize how much I loved the collaboration of working on a team.

I don’t have anyone to proof my posts before they go live – sure I have Grammarly and VAs that could check for grammar and sentence structure but no one to say, hey ever think of touching on this or that in this piece? Maybe reword this one sentence, it’s a bit too aggressive or passive or remove it all together because it dilutes your point. I have no one who scrolls through the hundreds of photos taken and helps me narrow it down to the five to seven added to the post, who sees me in a different light and has a different perspective. I have ideas in my head, the ones when conditioning my hair or waiting in line that I scribble on receipts or send to myself in an email. Ones I am not sure how to get going, but know once I start that ball rolling it’s going to be good. Those critical comments or rejections from brands I dwell on far longer than I should because there’s no one telling me to get out of my head, go outside, meditate, or punch something before reacting. No one who says no Alison, that’s a fucking great idea but go back and work on it some more, you’re not there yet. And no one who I can help, inspire them, get them focused, get them great. I miss helping others.

I get so easily distracted by myself. After each paragraph of this piece I have checked email, looked to see if I have gotten a text, visited Facebook. I ordered Emerson some shorts, moved the wash to the dryer, and flipped through the latest Pendleton catalog. In an office environment, I’d go get a cup of tea or just do a circle around the cubes, maybe chat with a friend, but it would still be the same environment full of people also in the same grind, making it easier to get back into it. I joined a coworking space, a friend with an office a couple of miles away gave me a set of keys to get away from the house but neither helped, I still felt alone. I have many blogger and influencer friends and we occasionally text but we work in a field that is inherently competitive even if we have different niches and audiences and anyway, we're working on our own individual brands. I’ve made several mastermind groups of fellow bloggers, of women in my area, of people all with small businesses and they have always dissolved after a while. I have one friend who also has her own business in the style world; she’s like my work wife as we share a lot about our businesses. But we have our own separate agendas, we try to help but our primary focus is our own success. I just miss being part of a team.

Have you seen the show Songland? Karl and I have started it now that this season of Project Runway is over. Like Project Runway, it’s a competitive reality show that isn’t full of drama or trying to turn people’s lives into a viral video that tugs at the heartstrings. It focuses on talent, on craft, and pushing artists just beyond their comfort zone to make something amazing. Each week, a different famous band or singer is on the show along with three highly successful music producers. Four newbie songwriters audition with one song that they have written, one that is their baby, their passion, their pride. They perform it, the producers and the artist only provide positive feedback, constructive ideas for improvement while respecting their song. It’s so thrilling to see the collaboration, these often young adults being in a room with their heroes, Grammy winners adding their voice, their beats, their ideas to make their song better. You can feel that collaborative energy through the screen. The artist of the week picks three of the four songs, and each of three songwriters left partners with one of the producers to make their song the absolute best and the right vibe for the artist. I love seeing the work that goes into making a good song stellar and seeing how the artist puts their spin on it to make it a hit. It reminds me of working retail at 2am to get the store ready for the corporate visit, the 6am dashing around a conference room with my colleagues getting ready for a major symposium, the ride in the taxi to the client site where we’re rehearsing our pitch, even being in Odyssey of the Mind in elementary school, improv classes in high school, preparing for Rush when I was in a sorority. As my old coworker Lonnie always said, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” And I miss being on a team.

Sale Alert

Independence Day is this coming week and you know what that means – sales sales sales! 

  • If you're looking for beauty with sunscreen, Colorescience is one of the best. This weekend, Dermstore is offering 20% off Colorescience. Dermstore is one of the best places to shop for skincare – the reviews are extensive, they're super picky with what brands they offer, and they have great promotion and perks for regular customers. Shop Colorescience here.
  • ASOS has one of those buy more save more promotions this week. $150 get $30 off with STARS30, $200 get $50 off with STARS50, $250 get $70 off with STARS70. I took advantage of this promotion yesterday by ordering some wide-width sandals.  ASOS carries a lot of popular brands like Adidas, River Island, even some products from SimplyBe. They carry plus size, petite, tall, full bust, and tall and plus options for men too.  It's worth it to take a look at this sale.
  • Nordstrom is also having a buy more save more promotion but it's just for cardholders (this is one of the stores where I have a card for the perks and just pay it off each month). Spend $150, get $30, spend $250, get $60, and spend $400 and get $100.
  • Talbots has their red hanger sale going on and this is the BEST sale for the brand. They're offering 40% off markdowns, and this isn't tired old winter and early spring clothes – there are plenty of great summer offerings including swimwear from brands like Miraclesuit. This is the link to all the items part of this sale.
  • Torrid has their semi-annual clearance sale with an extra 50% off clearance. Torrid sets their sales up great, from this page you can easily shop by size or category (dresses, jeans, etc.).  Torrid offers sizes 10-30 and have great offerings in swimwear, activewear, adorable graphic tees, jeans, lingerie, and more.
  • Banana Republic, my favorite place for shorts and suiting, has 40% off your order with shoes 40-60% off.  I roamed around a Banana Republic this week and saw some super cute things like:
  • LOFT has 40% off with promo code VACAY. I know many of you love LOFT.  This week I went into LOFT, Banana, Madewell, and Gap all the same day and the store that impressed me the least was LOFT.  I touched fabrics, tried things on, and the only thing in that store I would wear is this sweatshirt, which I really like. But I am not you, I am not the be all that ends all, I see many women look fab in LOFT so if you love LOFT rock the heck out of LOFT and get 40% off this weekend and I will cheer you on!
  • Colleen Rothschild is offering 20% off with promo code FIREWORKS.  I adore this beauty brand; click this link to read all my in-depth reviews and use this link to shop this promotion.
  • In the WO2 Community we discussed towels and I shared my favorite towels and my favorite sheets are from The Company Store. I've been shopping The Company Store since college. Remember when jersey sheets were the THING? I got my first pair there! I find the quality stellar. The Company Store has 20% off plus free shipping with promo code JULY4SALE19 so get to shopping for some of the nicest bedding and linens at prices appropriate to the quality.

Weekend Reads

Ravelry is “banning support of Donald Trump and his administration” in any form, including “forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles” and more. The site stated, “We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.” (NPR)

“I will never play any game without my lipstick,” she said. “It’s what makes me feel the most comfortable.” An interesting piece on female athletes and the different yet all valid reasons some choose to wear makeup, nails, and creative hair in games. Now we need an article about how male athletes have been making statements with their grooming and fashion for years and no one questions their masculinity or that it affects their performance. (New York Times)

As someone who changed lanes in life over the age of 40, I am loving this: over 30 under 30.

I ordered three different kinds of insoles for my boots and sneakers, and this pair was by far the best.  I slipped them in my Adidas Superstar sneakers (first yanked out the thin insole that came with the shoe) and it made these shoes that left me in pain for two days after 10 hours on my feet at DC Pride comfy enough to wear two days in a row to a music festival where I walked nine miles each day. Not bad for less than $16 and with free Prime shipping and returns!

Tracey Reese has been designing gorgeous clothes since 1998 and during her career hasn't been afraid to step outside the box and with it found success.  In 2018 she stopped all of it to start over. Reese's brand-new label, Hope for Flowers, is based in Detroit and is focused specifically on sustainable materials, ethical production, and handwork. (Vogue) You can see and shop the collection at Anthropologie

With a 6-3 decision from the Supreme Court, Erik Brunetti is now free to trademark Fuct, the name of his nearly 30-year old clothing brand. That doesn't mean it won't change in the future… (GQ)

“I don’t want to name names but there are some who can’t move their faces any more. Like Cher.” A truly delightful interview by Sophie Heaywood with the fabulous Carine Roitfeld. I seriously love both of these women after reading this. (The Guardian) 

I am so excited to see another retailer seeing the benefit of offering wide width shoes. Target has a great selection of shoes for weekend, dress, work, and more; see the whole selection here! (Target)

“What happens when you can’t use a bathroom because an AI lock thinks that you shouldn’t be there? What happens to medical research or clinical drug trials when a dataset misgenders or omits thousands of people? And what happens when a cop looks at your license and your machine predicted gender doesn’t match what they see? A world governed by these tools is one that erases entire populations. It’s a world where individuals have to conform to be seen.” An interesting piece about Amazon's facial recognition software. (Jezebel) 

Tee shirts for a good cause and with great art on them?  Sold. Once the Chuck D one in gray size Large is back in stock I'm getting it.

So many of you were interested in wide-leg pants after this blog post, I went around to find a few more that I thought were pretty fab, and at a variety of pricepoints:


For Your Entertainment

This past weekend I attended the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware with my friend Nicole.  There were some artists I wanted to see, some she wanted to see, together we made a schedule that was a mix of artists we knew, didn't know, and wanted to know better.  I knew of Jessie Reyez, but wasn't super familiar with her music.  She totally blew me away.  She had an opportunity for a record deal but was told to get it she had to have sexual relations with the producer.  She found a different way to achieve fame – as a songwriter (she wrote this song for Dua Lipa).  She is now a star in her own right, on her own terms, and is using her platform to speak her mind and empower others. She has a great new song out with 6LACK called “Imported”  and earlier this year came out with a song with Eminem, but for those who are less familiar with her I wanted to choose a song that really showcases her amazing songwriting.  If you want to see any videos of her live, visit my Instagram where I have a “Highlight” (circle on my bio page) that is called “Firefly Fest” that saved my stories including her show.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Totally understand the loneliness. I’m still trying to figure out routines and how to meet people after a year of retirement. We are snowbirds (Michigan-Florida), which adds to the complication. I’m still in some FB VA groups (as you advised me, couple years ago!) and need to get a new laptop just for me (sharing with hubby now) and get serious about finding just a bit of work.

  2. Let me know if you figure out a way to help the loneliness. I am a little younger than you, also mom to one daughter, and in DC, and I recently accepted a new job that basically cut me off from all human contact. My husband works 12+ hr days and sometimes we don’t even get to see each other. I too am a writer, so if you do figure out a way to do “shut up and write” meetings, I want in! I do the same thing with my yoga community. We get up early and quietly do yoga next to each other. We could do it alone, but for some reason its a million times better with them in proximity!

  3. Hi Alison. Have you considered trying to find a non-profit board that needs you? Not as a volunteer, but as a board member. You seem to be a big-picture thinker but can also direct others in the details. So many organizations need smart, self-directed WOMEN on their boards, especially right now. You can help make policy and guide an organization whose mission you care about to achieve and exceed its goals, and you’ll be around other smart people while you do it. Decide what issues matter to you most; you don’t want to put your energy where your passion is lacking. Then find the organizations that work on those issues and network the hell out of their people. You can do this! xoxo

  4. I told a friend who lives in the Netherlands that I miss getting dressed up and going out the door to work every morning. We decided we would like an office three blocks from home so we could walk to it. We also agreed that we want a cup of coffee first, and then a cup of tea. We both wanted someone to check our work, talk about it, and tell us when we were full of donkey dust. Pity the Netherlands is so far away.

  5. I don’t have a solution to your problem, but as someone who has worked for 20 years, the grass is always greener on the other side. You may be hitting a point after the initial excitement of going full time with your self-employment where you wonder what’s next. Maybe talking to a coach who specializes in working at home could help. As someone who is leaving a strict face time in the office workplace because I need more flexibility, and time working at home, office life will get old, fast! Look into what you can change about your current situation but don’t give up what you have created; it’s so wonderful and I really admire you.

  6. I am a coach (no website and not much tech expertise) and having narrowed my niche to health coaching and body image, I would be willing to jump on the phone to break your isolation! The people I coach are usually secure with their bodies, dress with flair, enjoy their lives and sometimes need to be reminded to slow down their busy brains. I never would think of you as a person who would need coaching in that regard, as you look beautifully put together and have good discipline…like a typical CEO of a corporation, or a home-based business. I would love to share experiences if you like, it’s gratis for people like you who need to stop and fill their own cup sometimes. If you send me an email we can get on each other’s calendars. P.S. I grew up in Maryland and love seeing you in my old favorite neighborhoods! I’ll share more when we speak.

  7. Detroit. I can proofread. I can see that as being a decent side hustle for me but I haven’t started doing anything about it yet. Try me out sometime!

    I have felt a similar loneliness, an at-loose-ends feeling I got from being a caregiver for my mother who sleeps the majority of the time. I got used to it and grew to appreciate the downtime for itself, an opportunity to explore trains of thoughts, random interests, organize stuff, workout, MarieKondo-ize, etc.

  8. RE: the WalkHero insoles
    Please reassure me that you sincerely recommend them. I’m being cautious – some of the copy on the Amazon page is not fluent English, and some of the “recommendations” by “verified purchasers” are also a little suspicious. Thank you.

    1. I seriously do, and if you’re not sure I will have them in tomorrow’s post as well with photos and more detail. I wore them at Firefly two days straight, wore them this week again, and I bought them with my own money. I did see in the reviews some people received counterfeit versions of them. The ones I got had Walk Hero written on the packaging and the insoles.

  9. Sorry to read about your struggles working alone. I can see how the loneliness can creep in and hope there is a way you can work through this and find a way to have some of that camaraderie again. Maybe a once or twice monthly standing lunch date with certain people? I know it’s not the same as seeing & talking to them every work day, but it could be something to look forward to. I have a group of co-workers that I don’t see daily & often not even monthly; none of us work in the same school (& let me clarify that we are not teachers so I promise we’re not texting in classrooms!). We have a never-ending texting group that we use constantly during our work days. It’s been helpful to all of us because we bounce ideas around, help with problems that crop up, & throw in some personal stuff too. I know you’ll figure this out Alison!

  10. Raw and real post. After being self em[loyed for egads…nearly 40 years now in the interior design industry…I encourage you to keep the positives up front and try different avenues to combat the loneliness until it feels right for you. From my experience I’ve found that having a few key people who I can bounce ideas off of is better than being surrounded by more people that could easliy become a distraction. Our blog is a small part of our firm and a way to keep colaboration ongoing. We have a dear friend who edits each post for all the nuances you mention spell check can’t do. She loves to do it and looks forward to a sneak peak. Her now over 2 year job stint came after a dinner where she pointed out a spelling error and I joked about her being our editor. Reminded me the value of asking for things I assumed I had to do myself.

    1. I have an amazing reader who once a month sends me edits to do after publishing, I should see if I can find someone for before but it’s hard because I’m often finishing them at 11pm the night prior. I do have a friend to bounce ideas off of, and in general I love this job. It’s just something I never realized about myself until I was on my own. But maybe it will strengthen different muscles to be in a different environment!

      1. Oh, my editor is often up at 11pm and later with me as we push to get a post out “correctly”! Undertsand you girl! Try to remember that so many people admire you for the very reason you have decided to work in a field you adore, complete with all its hidden egad moments you camo so well!

  11. I completely understand the isolation you’re talking about – I’ve worked from home for the past 4 years and really struggled with spending days alone and the distractions of home working. It’s impacted more than just my work life – feeling isolated has affected relationships with friends and my husband, so much so that I’ve just quit my job to take a new role in an office. I’m a bit worried about losing the freedom that comes with home working, particularly fitting in early morning gym sessions, but I feel like I’ve got no choice but to make this work.

    Hoping you find a good solution, as I love reading your blog!

    1. I think working from home can be wonderful for some, and not for others. Thank you for sharing your experience, I know there are many jobs where we do end up working in isolation. I*’m going to keep looking for a solution, but don’t worry the blog isn’t going anywhere! <3

  12. I enjoyed reading your blog this morning. I feel the same way. I was let go from my job in February after being there for over 15 years. I feel so a lone sometimes and bored. I live with my daughter and her family because I have been a widow for 18 years. I don’t have a lot of friends because my job was my life. I am in a position of I am not sure what the next thing to do. So I definitely understand how you feel.

    1. It’s tough, that’s for sure. After writing it I had the phrase, when one door closes another opens pop up in my head more than once in a day. I shared in a comment above, I need to see the positive that a new situation will force me to learn new things about me, get myself out of my comfort zone, and grow as a person. And I believe the same will happen with you – there will be a door that opens, it’s just sometimes they’re hard to see, we have to look for them. A new club, a coffee shop, a garden plot, a book, a message board, a conversation in line at the bank… these can be doors and I’m going to use this summer to seek them out. I wish the best for you Dianne, and thank you for being so open with me. <3

  13. Full time researchers in academia can have this problem too – it’s quite isolating in the humanities in particular wheee there is no lab. One thing we do is to have shut up and write meetings. Meet at a coffee shop and have lunch – chat about work over lunch. Then write for a designated time – we usually do an hour or 1.5 hours . Then a coffee and sharing work . The another writing session . It creates a really cool community and allows you to share ideas in a non competitive way . Something like this might work if you know bloggers in your local area . It’s fun! The key is to do it once a week on the same day .

      1. FWIW Tara Mohr is doing this virtually with her Playing Big email list. I think the idea is study hall meets conference call. I haven’t done it yet (I wish I had that much time for quiet work — it’s going to happen soon!), but from what I can tell there’s a zoom dial-in, you see others working, and then at a specific time you stop and everyone comments on what they’ve accomplished. I’ll forward the email description. And didn’t you used to organize massive webinars for a living?

  14. I feel the same way, and I work in a organization of 300 people! But we are super-silo’d, and my division is just me and my assistant. I have colleagues, but not a team. I spent the first 35 years of my life believing I wasn’t a team player. For the last 13 I’ve been trying to find the right team. It’s hard. I’m sorry you feel this way, and I’m also glad you wrote about it.

    1. I’m sorry you experience a similar situation. I know I am looking back at my last job with rose-colored glasses and also forgetting the two jobs I had before it where my coworkers and I were like oil and water and I felt terribly alone. The grass is always greener, right? I think I need to just find a team, not necessarily work related, and it will give me that feeling I’m looking for in my work life. I wish the best to you, Jennifer!

  15. Would your husband be a good proofer or sounding board? Have you ever reached out to another blogger in a completely different area (mommy blogger, diy home design, etc.) to collaborate? I also work from home. The office politics is something I am grateful to now avoid. I am more productive than others in an office setting. Good luck on your journey!

    1. My husband and I learned the way to a healthy and loving marriage is to keep work out of it, LOL. He takes the photos and we collab on ideas for shoots, he sometimes attends events with me but to this day he has never read a word of my blog (that is unless I have read a post to him that I fear is controversial and need a sanity check). I have one blogger friend I can bounce some ideas off of and my “work wife” who reviews content on occasion. Collaboration is hard, I’ve learned this audience does not enjoy other voices on the blog, but I’m still looking for ways to get creative with others! Thank you so much for these ideas, this post has been great from a collaborative standpoint with all of you in the comments! I really appreciate you taking the time to offer ideas, you are awesome, Lu!

  16. It’s even lonelier to work with a team/in a profession you hate!

    Oh, and I am delighted to see that Tracey Reese is back.

    1. It’s so true, I completely forgot about previous jobs where I worked with people I couldn’t relate to and didn’t especially like! It’s easy to see the past with rose colored glasses. And I too am thrilled to see the return of Tracey Reese!

  17. I’ve been working solo in a creative field for 15+ years. I wouldn’t say that it gets easier, but it does ebb and flow. I’m lucky to have a client or two who can give me the feedback I need to elevate a good idea into a great idea (similar to the benefits of working as part of a team).

    Maybe expand your idea of “team” to include things that aren’t directly related to your work. I served on the board of directors of a nonprofit for a couple years and that gave me the feeling of being part of a team. I also volunteered on a grants panel for the arts, which was only a one-day commitment, but was very energizing.

    All in all, there are pros and cons to being a solopreneur. I guess since I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, I’d have to say the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Good luck to you.

    1. I think you’re on to something, Lisa and I thank you for taking the time to leave this comment. I don’t need my job to be where I am part of a team, it can be beyond in another aspect of my life. I can volunteer, I can be a mentor. When I was a Girl Scout leader it was a lot of collaboration working towards a singular goal and it was hard and a lot of conflicting personalities but we all had the same endgoal and heart. That could be the missing piece, thank you!

  18. I can imagine working without a team is really tough sometimes–I wish there was a good solution!

    1. Thank you! Inspired by the other comments I think I need to find a team environment outside my job. I think that will give me the drive I desire and with it, I can help others!

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