I am so excited to welcome this new year, 2010, into my life. I am open to all the wonders 2010 has to offer and feel wonderfully fortunate to have made it this far. The fact that this year is being ushered in under a blue moon (next one is in August 2012) makes it all the more special to me. I wish everyone a lovely new year. May this year be fruitful for us all.
First let me say that I love the ritual associated with the New Year, the one of reflecting and goal setting. I love planning. However after years of planning, and very little action, I've come to associate New Year's resolutions with failure and doom. I admit to feeling ashamed about these past failures and have come to question my ability to follow through with them. Hence these past few years I've come to avoid this ritual.
I really dislike allowing fear to dictate my actions. So I'm going to give it another go. This time I'm focusing on weeks and months rather than a year. That way it's much easier for me to stay cognizant of what I want and what I need.
Kimberly Wilson is a gal who inspires people, me included. I went back to her December 2005 podcast to find that inspiration as I consider my life's next steps. She advocates starting with reflection, then creating intention and following up with action.
Beginning with reflection, Kimberly asks that we consider these questions. I've included some of my answers to these questions.
1. Courage, facing life issues that frightened me. The outcomes didn't always resolve as I would have liked,but I learned that the fear alone sucks up an incredible amount of energy. 2. Relaxing in the knowledge of what I can change and what I cannot.
What didn’t work?
1. Sporadic exercise. 2. Unlimited sweets. 3. Little time to myself (no vacation, trying to accommodate others' needs at the expense of my own). 4. Eating out frequently. 5. Eating mostly on pre-packaged foods when cooking at home. 6. Having the tv on frequently (ok, daily, even after canceling cable I've used dvds regularly just to have something one even though I may not be paying attention). 7. Procrastinating on household chores and work assignments.
What lessons did you learn?
1. What others think of me isn't nearly so important as what I think of myself. 2. Others don't think about me much. In fact, people generally think mostly of themselves. 3. Cooking whole foods at home is essential to my health. 4. I am addicted to refined sugar. If I don't control it; it controls me. 5. If I allow myself to backslide into old habits (e.g., sedentary lifestyle, not cooking, lack of balanced diet), I gain weight. 6. The physical sensation of hunger does not always indicate a hunger for food. It can also indicate a hunger for relaxation, stress release, rest, fulfillment, fun, etc. For those of us who have used eating as a coping mechanism, it can be quite easy to confuse the signals our body is sending. When you feel that pang, ask yourself what you are truly hungry for. The answer might surprise you. 7. I need to use a budget and check in with it on a weekly basis to meet my financial goals. 8. I need to keep updated to-do lists if I have any hope of accomplishing my goals at work, and perhaps even at home and my personal needs. 9. Feeling sorry for myself affords me absolutely no benefit. It neither moves me forward nor does it give me any solace. 10. My life is really quite full and enjoyable just as it is. I am enough, just as I am.
Kimberly further suggests asking yourself these questions.
How will you operate differently? Who were the key players in your life? Will this change? Do you want this to change? What did you hope to do but didn’t or didn’t have the resources to do? What would you like to do differently?
What have your reflections taught you about yourself?
Once you've finished reflecting, it's time to set intentions. More on that to come.
Whether you are spending Christmas with family, friends, on a bus, on a plane, in a snow drift, or solo like me, I hope you all have a wonderful fulfilling day.
Christmas (and I confess, I'm not religious) is very much a state of mind IMO. My childhood was super stable in terms of Christmas traditions. We always knew where we were going to be and when. Christmas eve at maternal grandparents. Christmas morning opening presents with mom, dad, sis and the dog. Then on to paternal grandparents for early afternoon Christmas dinner. My daughter's experience with Christmas is quite the opposite.
In the six years her father and I have been divorced, she has experienced numerous configurations of scheduled celebrations. This year is no different. Early on after the divorce I had great difficulty experiencing big holidays like Christmas without her. I'd frequently feel sad, lonely, embarrassed, guilty that I couldn't give my daughter the same stability I had as a child, jealous that my ex had immediately created an instant family before our divorce was final and just generally feeling like a bad mother and an undeserving person. Undoubtedly I was grieving the loss of family that accompanied my divorce, nursing a bruised ego and mourning the loss of my expectations. Fast forward to now.
My daughter went to her dad's today at 5pm to celebrate Christmas day with him. We have had this arrangement in the past but never before has it gone so smoothly and with me feeling quite incredibly happy with my situation. Last night, which was our Christmas Eve, we watched The Sound of Music. This had always been a tradition in my family. Back then on of the big tv networks always broadcast it Christmas Eve. Prior to watching the SoM, w watched the Wizard of Oz because that's a little bit of our own tradition in the making. Then the next morning I awoke at 6:30 am when I heard the girl get up. Told her to give me a minute, then after turning on the tree and hearth lights, told her to come out for presents and stockings, then breakfast (the routine I had as a child, except I would invariably awaken around 2am and stay in my room until the family was ready to do presents 5-6 hrs later....those nights were soooo long).
It's funny because I have had to continually remind myself that this was really Xmas eve, not Xmas day, because for me it felt completely like Xmas day. My mom came to have an early afternoon dinner with us (our family Xmas won't happen until after New Year's) and even a cousin and her husband stopped by to visit as they drove through town.
Given my ex was scheduled to pick up the girl at 5 pm, my mom was concerned about my having something to do tomorrow. I explained I have plans for tomorrow. The reality is, I *feel* like today was Xmas proper. It's taken me a number of years to cultivate this perspective and to just accept the time the girl and I have together on holidays which sometimes means being flexible with our idea of holidays. I don't feel ashamed at spending Xmas day alone like I used to, without a significant other or without being surrounded by my daughter and other family. I feel like we had a day that we made into our holiday and filled it with our traditions and we can put those traditions into motion on any day of the year and it will be our Christmas.
It's not about what the calendar says or what other people think you are doing on that specific date. It's about spending your time the way you want to spend it. I may not always get to be with my daughter when I want to be, but I can certainly spend the time that I'm away from her making the most of it. I'm looking forward to a wonderful day on my own tomorrow browsing through the three dozen decorating library books I brought home earlier this week, watching movies, piddling around the house and doing whatever feels good at the time. I'm also much better able to make the most of my time with the girl so that when she is away, I feel like that aspect of my life is good and full.
It is the knowledge and acceptance that my life is good and full, just as it is, that allows me to enjoy holidays on days the calendar claims they don't exist, and to feel great joy at spending official holidays in ways that defy convention and expectation.
So whatever you are doing, whatever holiday you are celebrating, whether it be Christmas or Friday, do it to the best of your ability and enjoy the experience!
Well, you should have been warned off by the title, but you're a brave soul aren't you. Wishing everyone a warm and wonderous day and night as we move forward to increased amounts of daylight, but until then, Embrace the Dark! It has much to offer if only we open ourselves to it. The winter solstice, also known by its ancient name, Yule, signifies the the beginning of the winter season.
Now that it is officially winter it is an opportune time to reflect. Winter has long been the season related to death. Leaves fall off of the trees, flowers shrivel, grass ceases to grow, birds fly elsewhere and days grow dark. Although many do look at it as a time of beginning now that the pendulum has swung as far into the dark as it can go. The book Circle Round notes that in pagan cultures adults would stay up the entire night to keep the Mother Goddess company while she is in labor preparing to give birth to the sun from her night sky womb. I love this book and have referred to it over the years as it is filled with information on the seasons, tradition, ritual, and the life transitions. It provides some grounding, interesting interpretation and (in my ritual-deprived adulthood) a knowledge that the cycle goes round and round.
Just as spring is viewed as a time for rebirth, winter is an opportunity to rest, dream, plan, and steep ourselves in our desires, creativity, hopes and allow ourselves to nest, enjoying our homes and private spaces. Through this we prepare to germinate again in spring. Whilst looking at the patterns in my life, I am struck by how my three most significant romantic relationships both ended just as winter began, giving me the break I needed to heal as well as an opening to transform from what I had learned. In all three cases I came forth in the spring, renewed. I still had more healing to do for a couple of those relationships, but I had grown in ways that I may not have had the time nor inclination to be quite so self-attentive had the weather been more conducive to being out and about.
Though I view the death symbolism of this season as a metaphor, many are loathe to consider this time of year, after the gift-giving and fellowship of Christmas and the celebratory nature of the new year, as worthwhile. In the Midwest the weather is frequently drab, the temperature cold, the landscape brown and in a nation where depression is probably at an all time high, this season isn't for sissies. It can be tough. I've rebirthed myself a few different times and there was pain, the gestation period seemingly long, but there was joy too. When I did make it through towards the light of spring, I've been arranged a little differently. Wiser, stronger, more confident, and better able to witness levity and allow the joys of life to fill me.
On second thought, I like this pregnancy metaphor more and more. I can blame my holiday weight gain on my self-pregnancy. Yes, I have yet to take responsibility for my complete and utter lack of will power when it comes to my mother's homemade confections. Sadly, the candy helps little with easing of the rebirthing process though the near sugar coma could mask other pains. In fact, I'm probably moving towards gestational diabetes. Oh well, as they say, this too will pass.
Over the next week I am contemplating how I am gestating during this lovely frosty season, which I will probably post about soon. How do you use this season? Do you recognize it? Revere it? Curse it? Make friends with it? I'd like to know.
I was hoping to have another post or two for this past week and even this next one, but life has gotten a wee bit hectic between all the pre-holiday activities plus the normal ones. I'm attempting to finish up a number of things at work so that I can go on vacation at the end of the week until just after the new year. Actually, it's a staycation rather than a vacation. I plan on some serious nesting in my home, doing some decorating, organizing, rearranging, indulging in enjoyable past-times like reading, writing posts, movie and mystery watching. I've got some fun blog topics in mind and can't wait to move on them. Until we meet again (next week).
BlissChick’s blog, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is beautiful, wise and insightful. She recently posted that she will provide a monthly question for which she wants her readers to write responses which will be posted on her site as actual blog entries (guidelines here). I don't plan to post my responses to these questions on her site, however I believe these questions are provocative and will help me on my path to my own bliss. The question for January is below as well as linked.
On an airplane, they remind you to give yourself oxygen before worrying about a child or an elderly person. If you can't breathe, you can't help anyone else. How do you make sure to give yourself necessary "oxygen" in your day to day life?
I took a couple days to consider BlissChick’s question. The only thing I can think of is coffee. It is the one thing I enjoy that I do daily, often multiple times per day. It’s my comfort. I just don’t think it’s enough and I don’t think it’s the healthiest habit/indulgence though I do generally drink half caf/decaf. Although I enjoy it and occasionally need it, I think it maybe a short-term oxygen replacement rather than the real thing.
I’ve been experiencing a malaise of sorts the past month. I think I’ve been running on empty for quite a while now and a month ago a situation at work left me feeling unsupported and questioning why I even try to improve things when others are being unaccountable. This occurred just before I left for my conference. Although I felt I couldn’t afford to be away from work, I was committed to the conference so I took the attitude of allowing myself to feel my feeling of discontent, go to the conference and allow the change of pace to restore me. Then the car crash occurred which resulted in another stress-induced adrenaline rush for the next week or two. Late last week I recognized how disconnected I was feeling which I chalk up to chronic stress and a lack of self-care. My main source of decompression (and this doesn’t in any way count as oxygen) is losing myself in movies or tv programs on dvd (preferably British mysteries). I’ve been doing this much more frequently lately than I prefer.
So one thing is clear, it’s time to place some focus on how to manifest more oxygen into my life. I need self care rituals which are nourishing, nurturing and supportive. Clearly there is more to come as I explore this topic.
I love books! I would buy books (plural) weekly if I could. I know this is contrary to the de-cluttering philosophy that I aspire to live by but I cannot deny my authentic self, a bibliophile. Having a home filled with books that I love is a true luxury to me. I’m not a fan of the Kindle or its equivalents in the digital world. I like the weight of books, their smell, their feel, underlining text, making notes in the margins. Because I cannot finance the lifestyle to which I could so easily become accustom, I am a strong advocate of supporting and using the local library. I am able to read books and watch movies at no cost to me (excepting my taxes and the occasional charitable donation). However my favorite aspect of the Library is their quarterly sales, a combination of donated articles and discarded library holdings.
By lucky accident I came upon their Holiday Book Sale quite unexpectedly. Fortunately I had a whole $6 cash on me which meant I could shop! I’m a sucker for used books. Like with garage/yard sales and visits to Goodwill and other salvage stores, I love finding a great deal and that includes library sales. This time I bought 5 books. The books were $1 each, except for one book priced at $2. So what did I find?
The $2 book is Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle. I've no clue why they listed it at twice the price of the other books, but clearly I was willing to pay it. I suppose I should read the prequel first.
Next is The Ten Habits of Naturally Slim People: And How to Make Them Part of Your Life by Jill H. Podjasek. I purchased this one due to its table of contents. Habit-wise it very much resembles Mireille Guiliano's French Women Don't Get Fat but appears to go into much greater detail. I figured it was worth the $1 since I do have some weight to lose and given the stressors which continue to plague me and decimate my discipline, I can use some extra assistance in this area. I consider this next book to be the real gem of my Saturday morning booty (when I write "booty" think pirate treasure chest, not back end asset). The New Diary by Tristine Rainer. I have heard nothing but good things about this classic book on journal writing and it has been on my Amazon wishlist for well over a year, perhaps longer. It is the original 1978 version. There was a new version published in 2004 that contains a new introduction, but pretty much everything else is the same. Anaïs Nin wrote the preface to this book just before her death in January 1977.
The final book is English Country Gardens by Ethne Clarke & Clay Perry. I was attracted to this book by the numerous photographs providing lots of eye candy plus the chapters are organized around what I presume are the English growing seasons, Early Summer, Midsummer, and Late Summer. Each season focuses on 3-6 counties. Overall it is what I would term a lite-gardening book, but it looked fun and I found the photos and writing, what there is of it, inspiring.
After returning home with my new lovely new editions, I was skimming the garden book again and discovered a little stowaway. A pamphlet published by Family Circle titled Houseplants: A Guide to the 50 Best for Gift-Giving and Decorating by Jacqueline Heriteau. BONUS!!!! What a lucky girl I am. It's fully illustrated and divided into chapters discussing best plants for kitchen, bathroom, office. This little bonus gives loads of info for such a tiny pamphlet. I couldn't be happier with my take.
Do you take advantage of your local libraries? Are you as crazy about books as I am? Do great deals (of the $5 or less variety) make your day like they make mine? Do you have more books in your home than you can stack on your bookshelves?
Oh, I guess I'm out of time. My dog just hunted me down for the third time tonight indicating it's bedtime and it's time for me to go to bed so she can as well. She's very fastidious about our bedtime and I've stayed up far too late tonight in her opinion. So I will end this with a photo I took of her earlier this evening when she was enjoying a nap in the family room. Her bed in my bedroom is much more cozy than this one in the family room.
Now that we’re in December my mind is on gift giving. So I thought I would list some favs that I giving (not much, but what the hay). A bit of a disclaimer here, my family has a long tradition of giving several gifts for the holidays, the majority of which are cheap (I’m talking quality here). When it comes to gift giving, I try to get good deals, but because there is only my daughter, mom and sister (and her fiancé) I tend to buy fewer gifts of higher quality. And with my mom, I particularly get her items that are more indulgent because for years she has lived on an income well below this country’s poverty level, had sacrificed so much for my sister and myself, and is very reticent to splurge on herself.
Photo courtesy of HearthSong
For my daughter this year it’s dollhouse furniture. A couple years ago I splurged and got her a proper doll house from HearthSong catalogue. Luckily she still plays with it. This year she has asked for more furniture, apparently the children are tired of sleeping on the floor. So I ordered her furniture for the children’s bedroom as well as the kitchen. I like HearthSong products because they are generally well-crafted, imaginative and educational.
Photo courtesy of campmor.com
This item is for my mother, sister, and myself. We all LOVE these wool socks by Columbia. So toasty warm during the cold months we endure here in the Great Lakes region. These are becoming harder and harder for me to find and I fear one day I’m going to have to find a replacement.
~Satine~ Inspired by Moulin Rouge. Photo courtesy of a la Parisienne
This is for my mother who loves jewelry, particularly pins and brooches. I must thank Stephanie at Bonjour Madame for letting me in on this little secret. Ok, it’s not a secret, but it was news to me. Mandy at a la Parisienne has an etsy shop where she is making and selling the most lovely flower brooches. She even has created a couple designs based on couture collections. The photo is of the one I purchased for my mom. I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival as I hear from Stephanie it is even more gorgeous in person than it is on the webpage.
Photo courtesy of Athleta
I confess, I was originally looking at these winter pants for myself. I spend a good amount of time walking my dog and decided it’s high time I get something warm for the frosty weather, especially for 6am and 9pm walks. I found these pants at Athleta's website. Based on the reviews, I ordered two pairs in different sizes. It turns out the smaller of the two fit me perfectly, so rather than return the second pair, I’m planning to give them to my mother who, like me, is chronically cold, even during the warmer months.
Photo courtesy of love, taza
Now for a dreamy unrequited item. Check out these headbands by Naomi at love, taza. They are spectacular.
What are your favorite gifts to give? What would you like to receive? Do tell!
Lately it's occurred to me That I've had enough of that And lately I've been satisfied by simple things Like breathing in and breathing out
Those are lyrics from Natalie Merchant’s song Not In This Life from her Motherland album. For years the line about breathing in and breathing out has struck me. I would say to myself, “Oh, that’s what I need to focus on”. Then before I knew it, my fabulous monkey mind would have swung to another branch, then another, then another. But every time I have come across that lyric, I have paused and enjoyed the open stillness that comes with just focusing on the breath, on the moment, then letting it go.
After I divorced and again a few years ago, I tried internet dating. There would be pre-fab questions for participants to answer to help others to learn about you. One of the questions asked about the 5 things you can’t live without. I thought it a stupid question. One thing I’ve known for a long time about myself is that I’m a survivor and that I can survive all sorts of losses except that of food, water, air, and shelter. I certainly understand why people say they cannot live without their children, their pets, their friends or their prized possessions. Those are all certainly very important and meaningful, but I’m certain all of those individuals would survive without them. Loss can be inconvenient, painful and at times devastating, but it can also be the harbinger of good things. Loss reminds us of what we truly need in order to exist, and also reminds us of what gives our lives meaning.
My point is that this holiday season, since my adventure in TN, I’ve been thinking a lot about where my life is, my stressors, joys, passions, how the scales are balanced. On the drive home from TN, I heard Natalie’s song again and remembered how easy it is to go to that place of serenity inside. Whilst there I recognized that all I need to live is very basic and elemental and that was very reassuring. I didn’t lose anything that gave my life meaning. I did lose a car that I loved which created some inconvenience and expense, but it also created an opportunity to obtain a vehicle that will likely prove a better fit for our lifestyle.
I want to extend a warm “thank you” to Catherine who has graciously bestowed my blog with this award. I hope this little blog of mine proves worthy.
I come from very pragmatic people of the Midwestern United States. My family came from a long line of farmers, laborers and hard workers. I grew up mirroring what I saw when it came to lingerie, basic bra and cotton briefs. Let me define “briefs”. We’re talking “granny panties”. Not bikini panties, not hipsters, in fact, we don’t even call them panties…they are underwear, plain and simple. I suppose one could say that I was introduced to matching bras and panties from an early age, as they were always white. I do vaguely remember whilst in early childhood having matching underwear and tanks, thanks to Granimals (which I still love). When I was age 9 or 10, I received my first bra. It was lacy, I think it was pink, and was technically a training bra or what is now known as a “bralette”, and it came with matching underwear…, excuse me, …panties. The matching set was a complete fluke because that was the last time I remember having matching lingerie. Oh, and we never used the term lingerie either. It’s all underwear. Fast forward 30 yrs. My first adult set of matching lingerie.
How did I get there? No, it wasn’t my first boyfriend. It certainly wasn’t my wedding night or at any point during my marriage. Nor was it the short-lived romance with my post-divorce boyfriend, now long over. The journey begins the summer of my 40th year. As I wrote before, I wanted to experience pretty under-things as a way to feel good about myself and enjoy myself as I am now. The impetus for diving into the world of silky, lacy and slinky is all due to the desire for self pleasure, luxury.
Once I managed to find some lovely bras, I was still without their lower counterparts. The store where I purchased the bras didn’t have matching panties. So started my search for panties that make me feel as lovely and sensual as did the bras. That search, is still somewhat ongoing and will make for a future installment. Oh dearie me yes, the lingerie posts are far from over. Due to my tutelage at the Intimacy store, I was able to select a lovely bra with a matching panty from the Macy’s sales rack. The Lunaire Charlston bra and panty. I obtained both for a substantial discount. In this case definitely luxury for less. I’ve had difficulty with bikini panties not fitting me well, but these are cut for a higher fit and work quite nicely and most importantly, stay in place. And the bra fits as well as any others I currently own and wear.
The Lunaire Charlston bra and panty. Photo courtesy of Macys.com.
I wonder, do others feel differently? I mean, do you feel especially good about yourselves whilst wearing pretty lingerie? Or am I particularly affected? Perhaps eventually the novelty will wear off but for now, I’m still enjoying myself. In fact, I was wearing this set when I had my car crash last week. No, my last thoughts before impact were not about my lingerie nor was it my lingerie that caused the crash (I was fully clothed at the time). While I was imbibing with the helpful physician in the bar later that evening I remembered an old wives tale about wearing clean underwear in case you ever end up in a hospital. I thought to myself that not only are they clean, they’re spectacular!
After waiting around Nashville for a rental car to become available, I finally made it home Wednesday night. Arrived in town after 6 hours on the road and drove directly to urgent care. I still had the headache from when the accident occurred and although I was pretty certain it was sinus/ear related and exacerbated by the accident rather than stemming from it, I wanted to get it checked out so I could enjoy a good night’s sleep for the first time in days. After an exam the physician agreed with me that I had a sinus/ear infection and no neurological deficits. I didn’t get my knee checked out but figure it will either resolve or I’ll get it checked out later. I ended the day crawling into bed between my two favorite girls, my daughter (who wanted to sleep in my bed and how could I refuse) and my dog, Faith, asleep on the floor in her own bed.
The next morning I was quickly reminded that life moves on, everyone has their challenges, and how life frequently moves us from one challenge to another. I, however, took a break by staying home for work and resting. After the stressors of the events of the accident and getting home, I found myself lacking motivation and generally feeling numb. These feelings, or lack of feelings, continued into yesterday. In fact I went to bed Friday night at 8:30 pm and didn’t awaken until 10 am Saturday. Sleeping that long is something I have only very rarely done, but I must admit, I felt very indulged. My dog, who is a saint, was kind enough to let me sleep the entire time.
Finally Saturday I found myself returning to normal. I engaged in some yard work, cleaning a few windows (amazing how luxurious it feels to have some clean windows), general house tidying and walking Faith out in the sunshine. Showing yet again you don’t have to spend money to make yourself feel good and well-cared for.
My head hurts. My shoulders and neck ache. My knee is sore. I'm bruised and tired and a little anxious. Above is a photo of my car, or at least what's left of it. It will likely be totaled out by the insurance company given it's missing the front half of the engine. Yesterday around 5:30 pm I was in my first car accident. Given my age I'm sure the fact it was my first accident makes me quite lucky. The fact that I walked away from it without serious injury makes me extremely lucky. This is what can happen to any of us. Unexpected stopped traffic after a blind curve on an interstate.
Thanks to the kind man from the crash site who drove me back to my hotel. He went well beyond the call of duty.
And thanks to Bob who helped me to decompress following the accident. Once back here at the hotel, I crossed paths with Bob, an MD who was a presenter at one of my conference sessions. We chatted and I mentioned I couldn't leave because I had just been in an accident and no longer have a car. He was very sweet and concerned for my well-being. He insisted on getting me liquored up since the only other thing he knew to do was to take a C-spine film and there were no X-Ray machines readily available, so we opted for some wine followed up with a good amount of scotch. We toasted my being alive and well. He helped me to forget my woes and we had a lovely visit. I owe him a debt of gratitude.
A day later I have a plan in place to get myself home. I had hoped to be home by today, but the entire city is sold out of rental cars until late tomorrow. So hopefully I'll get to go home then. I love and miss my car; I'm distressed to see it go. I'm worried that I can't afford to replace it. But aside from practical details, I'm profoundly grateful to be here. I know that I it could have been so much worse. The other two individuals involved also walked away unhurt.
Just in time for Thanksgiving the Universe gave me a reminder that things can be replaced, but the people and loved ones in our lives are irreplaceable, whether family, friends, good Samaritans or our loving animal friends.
I am honored to have received the Kreative Blogger award from Bonjour Madame. Thank you so much. I hope my blog lives up to the honor. As part of the blog award I believe I am supposed to share seven things about myself that you might not know. So here it goes:
1. I am currently attending a conference at the Opryland Hotel & Convention Center. It’s enormous. Which is one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to post about the award. I’ve been lost in the facility the entire time! Ok, not really.
2. I first rode a horse solo when I was 6 months old. My dad walked along beside, it was his horse. My mom was royally ticked off about it, but that never stopped him. It at least explains why I have no memories of learning to ride.
3. Over a year ago I adopted a badly neglected German Shepherd who was picked up by Animal Control and was then given to a local shelter which named the dog, Faith. I saw Faith’s photo the shelter’s website and instantly fell in love. I’d grown up with German Shepherd’s and have been wanting one for a long time. Two days later I brought home. I think her photo shows how terrible her condition was. Now she is happy and healthy and a source of great joy in our family.
4. I love British mysteries, particularly BBC productions.
5. I don’t have tv service (cable/satellite/antennae) and I’m happier that way….especially more productive.
6. I once moved a total of 10 times within 3 years. Ever since then I’ve had a hard time unpacking after a move, and I’ve moved a number of times since those 10 moves. I suppose there are worse aversions to have.
7. When I was a child, there was a frog who lived in our yard who would come when I called its name. I would catch flies and feed them to him. Really.
The Kensington Bra by Prima Donna. Photo Courtesy of Bare Necessities. I don't own this bra, but I wish I did. Truly a work of art.
Since I began wearing bras in the 5th or 6th grade, I have consistently felt annoyed with them. Like many women, I have long had a difficult relationship with bras. Frequently uncomfortable and viewed as a necessary evil, I always felt that my body was somehow wrong because all those cute bras at the department store never seemed to fit me whether I was slim or heavy and I loathed reaching for the Playtex bra box as was the standard in my childhood home. During this past summer, frustrated with a recent weight gain resulting from a year of tremendous stress, I was tired of putting off my interests and desires until I “lost the weight”. I wanted to like my body now, in the present, as it was and is, regardless of the scale or the number on my clothing tags. Although I was in the proper bra size by all available calculations, I couldn’t get the darn things to fit right without spillage, straps falling down or the front center section sitting off my body by nearly half an inch or more. FRUSTRATION!!!!
Around the same time I was reading Entre Nous about how French women are very particular about their lingerie and how important it is that they wear beautiful high-quality pieces. According to the book (and other sources) a woman’s foundation garments are just as important as their outerwear. I wanted that for myself too…a life of quality, a few fine pieces rather than lots of crap. My daughter and I are fans of What Not to Wear and How to Look Good Naked. From those programs I learned more about proper bra fit. The latter program introduced me to a little store called Intimacy where there are bra-fitters extraordinaire and, according to the program, miracles occur. I so terribly wanted to be one of those miracles. I found one of their stores in Chicago merely two hours from my home. I scheduled an appointment for a fitting at Intimacy’s Chicago store thinking my 10 year old would find it interesting too. She had her first taste of a training bra some time ago and after the novelty wore off, 3-4 days, she discovered what so many of us have experienced, they are uncomfortable. Luckily for her she’s not yet developed so no support is needed in that area of her life. Though willing to wait for me, she opted out of my exciting journey content to listen to her iPod instead.
While my daughter entertained herself, I was whisked into a dressing room where a fitter asked about the current bra I was wearing, the size, the size shirts I wore, special needs, favored styles, etc. Then she left me to quickly grab some bras. By a process of elimination and her constant guidance, I learned how to evaluate fit and quality, make adjustments, proper bra care and wearing. Did you know that you should never wear the same bra for 2 consecutive days? The bra needs to rest a day after wearing it to allow the elastic to shrink back into its proper shape. I also learned that when worn properly and cared for properly, a bra’s lifetime expectation is only around 6 months (though I’m not certain, I hope that estimate is based on at least every other day wearing). A good quality seamed lace bra will generally last longer than other types of bras as the lace is quite strong. Another tip is to position one's nipple directly behind the seam when wearing a seamed bra. This will reduce the appearance of the dreaded "head lights" phenomenon. To experience your own bra education, I strongly urge you to visit Intimacy’s website. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with their fitter in their store, whose name escapes me. It was a lovely and educational experience. I learned quickly that my body was fine just as it is. The reasons bras had not fit properly in the past was because they weren’t the right bra for me or they were improperly adjusted. Some bras have a deeper cup than others even if they are the same size.
I managed to come up with a lovely bra wardrobe. I bought one athletic bra, because I do a good amount of walking and support is a necessity. I choose a Freya athletic bra and I can say without a doubt, multiple days of consecutive wear or not, my girls aren’t going anywhere in this device. Funnily enough, it’s pretty comfy. It looks a wee bit bullet-bra-ish, but if it helps to preserve my girls for another 10 years, then I’m all for it.
The four other bras I chose are more elegant and downright beautiful. Did I mention functional too?
Chantelle Africa demi bra in Ebony. Photo courtesy of Nordstrom.com. For when the occasion calls for décolletage.
Chantelle Legende T-shirt bra. Photo courtesy of HerRoom.com Fabulous T-shirt bra
Chantelle Legende Full Figure bra. Photo courtesy of HerRoom.com. Makes me want to sing "I feel pretty, I feel pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay...
And now the Pièce de résistance:
The seamless Melody bra by Empreinte. Photo courtesy of BiggerBras.com. This is my overall favorite. I'm not even certain why. I got it in a lovely ivory color and although all of the other bras fit me very, very well, this one fits me like a glove....and I NEVER thought I'd say that about a bra. Love it!
Now that I have the know-how, and the bras, I feel confident and indulged. Yes, it was a splurge, a big splurge. But at that point I’d done nothing to celebrate my turning 40 this past spring. No party, no present, no dinner out, and I’d not had a proper vacation in two years. So I splurged. I think my bra wardrobe is complete except for one piece, a good strapless bra. However that is for another installment. This is, after all, Part I of the adventures.
Once home, I modeled them for my best friend, then her mom when she stopped by in the midst of my show. They were both quite impressed. My friend even wondered when she could go for her own fitting.
I think the luxurious aspect of this post is obvious. But what about the less part? How does paying the money for a good quality bra save you money? First of all you quit spending money looking for the bra that you hope will fit, unlike all of your other bras. With a proper bra wardrobe, you have what you need to fit most if not all of your bra needs. With a proper fitting quality bra, your clothes fit BETTER! Hence you may not feel the need to continue shopping for clothes that fit better to make you look better. Your foundation garment now does that for you. I’ve heard it said that a properly fitted bra along with good posture makes you look 5lbs slimmer. Now that is a true LESS in my book. Most importantly, once you understand how to choose a quality good fitting bra, you have a better sense of which brands fit you well and can find more economically advantageous deals both online and in the stores.
My day of corsetry indulgence occurred in early July of this year. It is now nearly mid-November and I still LOVE MY BRAS! Every time I put them on I feel special and as if I’m experiencing a luxurious treat. Most of all, I FEEL PRETTY!
What foundation pieces make you feel pretty, happy, adorned or even sexy? Where are your sources for bras? Is this an area of your life you want to explore more? Or is all this talk about lingerie too frou frou for you or just a bunch of wasteful hype?
While cruising the internet, I came across a wonderful post relaying a story of a conversation between a husband and wife. The wife is prattling on about her new shoes. Her husband expresses concern about the money spent on the indulgence. She assures him that she made a wise purchase. With her new shoes, she has created an entirely new wardrobe out of her old one, saving money since she will not need to make additional clothing purchases for the season. Sadly, I've looked and looked for this original post and cannot find it. Even worse, I can't remember which blog it was on. My sincerest apologies to the blogger who posted this story originally and please, should you come across this ever, leave me a comment so I can properly cite the information.
I found that story after indulging in the purchase above. Aren't they lovely? Sofft Corine in red. I don't know that the shoes will usurp any clothing purchases this season, but I will look smashing in those shoes. Photo courtesy of Zappos.
Yes, this is a rant. I'm not sure what came over me aside from feeling sick and tired of being overwhelmed. This post is actually a reprint of a comment I left on Marjorie’s blog at http://www.myinnerfrenchgirl.com/. To Marjorie I apologize for getting carried away. I'm not quite sure what happened, but I suspect it an act of decompression.
First, let me thank you for raising this issue, as it is very timely for me and is something I am struggling with. I'm in the process of implementing some changes in my life, one such change is utilizing Mareille Guiliano's advice from her books to change my eating habits. I'm a working single parent who rarely takes a lunch break, scarfs down breakfast, scarfs down lunch in the office sometimes while standing up and by evening is frequently too tired to do much more than snack....all. evening. long. I'm working towards cooking more (which I used to love) and taking time to just eat. My daughter even commented to me that she'd like us to have dinner at the table more.
I can't speak to other cultures or countries, but in my small Midwestern city, we are so busy to the point it interferes with community. We frequently don't know our neighbors, much less dine with them, because they too are so terribly busy going here, there and everywhere. My boss and I were lamenting the other week that both of our workloads are beyond reasonable, everyone wanting something done impossibly fast, so tasks get done quickly but frequently only to find out that they significantly lack quality because we are not allowed the luxury of time to do it right.
How did we lose our common sense? Why is it that we are so willing to throw away our personal desires, commitment to a job well-done in order to be viewed as a Team Player (the proverbial Yes Man or Woman)? It is all linked together...all links in a chain that may eventually be our undoing. It certainly has been my undoing in that it has stressed my body, my mental health and most certainly my emotional health. I think the difference with the US is that this sort of lifestyle is frequently glamorized and respected in a very odd and seductive way. Friends passing each other on the street saying, "Hi, how are you? Keeping busy?" as if being busy makes us worthwhile. Honestly, I am much more worthwhile when I'm not busy. I've experienced both and I say with the strongest conviction when I'm not busy, or at least in charge enough over my schedule to say no appropriately, I am physically healthier, far less stressed, happier, and much more pleasant to be around. Just ask my daughter, she'll tell ya!
I suppose it’s time to explain this blog’s title/purpose. Although I don’t expect this blog will ever be read by anyone, this is a place for me to focus on how I live life and my desire to live a balanced life that is authentic to my heart and soul. Over the past few years I have been overwhelmed by so much that life has thrown at me. It’s so easy to just allow oneself to be controlled by the circumstances and goings on of life, to react to schedules, appointments, meetings, to-do lists and allow our desires to receive attention only in the event all else is accomplished, which it rarely ever is. Hence my heart and soul have become starved for the fulfillment they (I) crave.
Five years ago I was doing quite well, living my life in a fulfilling way, managing challenges as they came along. Then a few years ago began a period of incredible stress due to a move, work challenges, and most stressful of all, a custody battle for my daughter who, because of adjustment difficulties to her father’s remarriage and moving into her stepmother’s home, was experiencing extreme stress, depression and plummeting self-esteem while living with her father and step-mother, who in addition to the stressors above, did their best to undermine my role as mother. My first blog I began a couple years ago because I was focused on achieving balance in my life. I was successful neither with the blog nor with achieving balance. Part was due to the circumstances of life; part due to a lack of commitment on my own behalf. Now that some of those major upheavals have resolved in my life, I feel better equipped to make healthful changes towards living a soul-fulfilling life. Or perhaps I should say that it has come to my attention that it is no longer something I can put off until tomorrow.
So, why luxury? Why the heck not!?! I deserve it. Oh I don’t mean spend oodles of moolah and the best of everything. I do mean filling my life with that which I truly love whether it be foods, furnishings, past-times, etc.
Why less? Because I have little moolah to go around. Because my home is cluttered with items that I either can’t wear, don’t use, don’t like, etc. Because too much of my life is spent on meaningless time drains like tv (got rid of cable earlier this year); excessive checking of email, both work and personal; errands for things I don’t need or certainly don’t need right then, wasting time in cyberspace at places that no longer fulfill me; and because I have allowed myself to gain a substantial amount of weight (30lbs or so) due to stress, thoughtless eating, emotional eating, and increased sedentary lifestyle. So, less will be more for me.
Now comes the "how". Well you didn't think I'd give up all my plans in one post, did you? The "how" is what this blog is about, that, and the motivation to keep me moving in the direction of liberation from old less than happy ways. However I will say that I believe to be successful, simplicity will be key. Starting small and keeping it simple will, hopefully, beckon progress.
While walking my poochie today I found myself entranced by autumn. It had rained last night and the streets are still wet. Ever notice how the rain increases the fragrances outside? It enhances them and gives an almost cleaner, clearer quality to the sweet pungent scent of this season. Leaves are everywhere. Gold, yellow, garnet, orange, everywhere you look. Those leaves affect the quality of the light, making it bright where it would otherwise be dim due to the cloudiness.
I’m in no way ready for the cold of winter. I’m not sure that I’m even quite ready for fall, but there is something about this time of year that comforts me. Maybe it’s the familiarity, the ability to wear some of my favorite warmer clothes or merely the fact that it’s over all too soon that makes this season so special.
Well is it? I'm not really sure. But isn't luxury just what makes us feel good? I would argue that confidence makes people feel good about themselves. In these times, I think that alone may well be a luxury. So many of us lack self-confidence. Some of us lack it in certain areas of our lives while others lack it entirely. I think confidence is the backbone of a life of luxury. And since I want a luxurious life, I need to get me some confidence! I'm a person who has abundant confidence in some areas of my life, but it's absent in others. Regardless of whether one needs to fill a minor vacancy or a deep abyss, how does one generate this elusive state of being????
Recently some friends of mine posted a quote from their 14 year-old daughter who answered that question ever so wisely. Emma said, "People wonder how I'm so self-confident. It's because I lie to myself all the time." Brava!!!!! Dear Emma, Brava!!!!! Yes indeed it's true. When it comes to self confidence, fake it 'til you make it is the only way to go. Baby steps are required, to be sure, but once we get used to playing with confidence, taking it out for a spin now and again, the more frequently we will bring it out to play again. Before we know it, we find that we're no longer faking it; we're living it.