Monday, January 19, 2015

OOTD: Back-to-School





Vest:  Ladies Micro Fleece vest by Gone Greek   || Sweater:  Land's End from J.C. Penny || Jeans: Arizona jeans from J.C. Penny  || Scarf: Lilly Pulitzer's horoscope scarf   ||   Bracelets & Bangles:  left hand – gift, right hand –Lilly Pullitzer’s Alpha Xi Delta bangle  || Earrings: old

Special thanks to my ever-constant, ever-willing photographer… My mother. 


My spring semester started last week! As much as I dread the loss of freedom to homework schedules and assigned reading, I am very excited for this new semester. It is shaping up to be one of my busiest, fullest semesters yet, but also one of my most rewarding! The courses I am in are challenging, engaging, and peak my interest daily. Emerging from this semester will remind me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, while also having fun! An important college lesson: you can be successful and have a little fun now-and-then. Balance is key!

Most of my courses are online, which presents its own sets of challenges. My only in-person courses are chemistry and chemistry lab, whose challenges go without saying. With so many courses online, I spend most of my days in pajamas and yoga pants unless otherwise required to wear something else. I have a strict “if I don’t have to be out of the house, I am going to be comfy” personal motto – and nothing is more comfortable than comfy fleece pajamas.  If they made yoga-pant dress pants, I would probably never wear another pair of jeans or khakis. Spending most of my life in comfy-clothes means that every “outing day” becomes a special treat. Dress up time!
Sometimes I think the only reason
I keep doing fashion posts is
so that I can pose with my
munchkins.
For the second class of the semester, I wore this casual but classy combination.  As I said in my last, brief post I joined a sorority at my college this past semester, Alpha XiDelta. I couldn’t be happier about that decision! (There will be more on that later.) Since joining, I have bought many a few Alpha Xi Delta-themed items, including this Ladies Micro Fleece Vest by Gone Greek. I love it. The color is phenomenal. The fit is perfection.  The quality is 100%. Beyond that, the company was great and easy to work with, they answered any and all questions I had in a timely manner, and the vest exceeded every expectation – I highly recommend them!


Annaliese from Southern Belle In Training, who also happens to be an IRL friend of mine, has recently gotten me hooked on Lilly Pulitzer. She has loved Lilly Pulitzer for a long time, but I have been a resistant convert.  I have to be honest: I am not normally a patterns person. AT ALL. Color, I love, but patterns I avoid passionately in my wardrobe. I never understood the Lilly P love! However,  seeing Annaliese wearing Lilly P patterns or displaying them in accessories won me over.  I adore Lilly P’s Alpha Xi Delta pattern, as well as a few other select ones I have seen. Finally, I understand the obsession!

The first week of January Annaliese helped me in draining the rest of my Christmas money on Lilly P products by telling me about the major sale from Jan 5-6th. I snatched up an Alpha Xi Delta’s wristlet and tote bag, as well as the Alpha Xi Delta bangle and the Libra horoscope scarf, both of which are shown here. Not normally a spender, I cringed at the expense initially. And then I rejoiced! (A $300+ value for FAR less than that. I didn’t pay more than $86 for everything! You cannot beat a deal like that.) Having received them in the mail I can safely say – I regret nothing. They will get more than their fair share of use. And I will be happy to do it. I love everything thing I bought.

My little cuddlebug, Peaches, helping
me to fashion my Lilly Pulitzer
scarf and bangle.
This scarf might be my new favorite accessory! It is light weight, the color is bright but soft, it is as soft as a baby’s blanket, and the pattern is perfect for spring and summer – or warming up a cold winter day.

Basically the take away here is: massive love for Gone Greek and Lilly P. Go check them out if you haven't already! (Edit: Lilly P is coming to Target stores across the U.S., Canada, and online at Target.com on 4/19.)

So, what about you? What did you wear on your first day back to school?  What’s your favorite bargain buy? What’s your favorite accessory?



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Live!

*calls across the abyss* “ARE YOU STILL OUT THERE?”

That was quite the vacation from blogging!


The first day of classes brought a small
 snow storm this semester!
Hello from the land of negative temperatures! 


It is an extra-cold winter in New England, without the added beauty of snow.  Hi Polar Vortex, long time now see, how you doin’? Our snow quantity has been pretty small in my area which I should be excited about since I don’t like the cold, but I am not excited about because recently it is actually colder when it isn’t snowing. Bring on the snow! Please!

The high today was 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

When I left at 7am this morning, it was -9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dear friends in warmer climates: ship me your above 32 degree Fahrenheit temperatures.

You might say I have taken to hibernating. Indoor activities only. Lots of warm clothes. Many snuggles with my cute and adorable pups. When I hibernate I go into an extreme form of hermitting which often includes avoiding all friends and technology in favor of other projects I have been needing to accomplish…and Netflix. The cold brings out Introvert’s need to be nourished.

While I wish I could say this is 100% the reason I have neglected this blog space, I cannot. For the past few weeks, yes, this hibernation has contributed to lack of posting, but overall it has not been the sole culprit. Here’s the thing: I have been living IRL – In Real Life. And boy, it feels good!

Sometimes you need to lay aside the digital life for a while and remember what it feels like to not live your life via Google-search. Through the frenzy of last semester and the whirlwind that became my winter break, I made the conscious decision to do just that. Many wonderful changes have occurred in my life as a result: I joined a sorority at my college, I have made new friends and grown closer to old ones, for the first winter break in a long time I was always on the go, I have a few at-home businesses in development, and so much more.

Recapping the last few months is too difficult to do over the span of one post. Instead, I am introducing a new, temporary blog series - Throwback Thursday edition. Throwback Thursday is used all over Facebook and Instagram to recapture and remember moments, usually in the form of pictures. This mini-series will work the same way. Each week, I will recap over something(s), revisiting them so that you can see (and so that I can get caught up on back-logged posts!).

Stay tuned, Doodles! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Post: Discovering YOUR Look After The Diaper-Bag Years

College is a beast. Chemistry is another language entirely. Group projects take a lot of effort. These are all among the reasons why I have been entirely and utterly absent. But, never fear! A really wonderful blogging buddy from "Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More swooped in to the rescue with this blog post. Thank you, L!

Go over to L's social media pages and show her some love for me, as a thank you!
You can also find L on...
The Geek Parent: www.thegeekparent.com
Mom's Crayon: http://momscrayon.blogspot.com
"Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More: http://isithotinheremmm.blogspot.com


Without further wait, moms and future mom’s out there, this one is for you!
L fixed this stained purse herself! She glued
a flower on the purse that had neutral colors in it,
to tie the whole thing together. Saved the $75 purse
with a $1 craft flower!
Recently, I admired an acquaintance’s shoes while we were waiting on the blacktop.  “Oh yeah,” she said.  “I decided, now that my youngest is in kindergarten, to finally get 'grown-up' shoes again.  It was a lot harder than I thought.”  I immediately understood.  Once a mother is past the diaper-bag and toddler stages of her littlest one's life, she often realizes that that all of her clothes, shoes, and accessories are utilitarian, rather than fashionable. They're designed to hide spit stains, are easy on/easy off, are good for wrestling and chasing children in, and have enough room for diapers, snacks, drinks, extra clothes, toys, etc.

In Charise's case, not only were her clothes more practical than pretty, but she had no idea who she is now.  We aren't the women we were before we had our children.  We're older and possibly in a different decade of our lives.  We may not be working while our wardrobes are still predominately business attire.  We  often have a better idea of what the other people in our lives think we should look like (husbands, partners, parents, friends) rather than knowing what WE like.

So what do you do?  Here are a few suggestions:


1.                  Look at magazines and websites.  Put down the parenting rags and look at sources designed for people  of your own age and situation.  For example, Charise is no longer a working , 30-something Wall Street manager; she's now a 40-something stay-a-home mother whose needs are different than they were before.  She wants stylish clothes that fit her daily life.  You'll find a list of helpful sites at the end of this post.


2.                  Take some time to yourself to investigate stores you like and try on different clothes.  Yes, this is time-consuming and I, for one, find it unpleasant, but it's necessary.  You don't have to buy from those stores, but trying garments on will give you an idea of what looks good on you and what you like.  Take pictures with your camera phone.  You can always order styles online, often at a fraction of the cost of store inventory.


3.                  Notice women you admire who might be in situations similar to yours with similar body types. I've admired  women on the blacktop, in the grocery store, and even waiting for my daughter at gymnastics.  I keep watching them to see what pieces they have in their wardrobe that I like and try to remember for when I do go shopping for myself. 


4.                  Don't be afraid to shop in the men's or other departments.  Some of the best flannel shirts I've ever bought, good for hanging out in on snowy days or wearing over leggings to a friend's house have come from the men's section of a store. 


5.                  Look for multi-purpose pieces.  Large scarves are not only fashionable, but can be worn as shawls on cold days.  Scarves themselves add a sophisticated touch to any wardrobe. Intimidated by how to fold them?  Here's a link that will show you 38 ways to tie a scarf.


6.                  For hairstyles, again, check out websites or go to a hair salon you trust and ask what they suggest.  Now that you're no longer limited by the prospect of a baby hanging on to your locks for dear life, you have many more options.


7.                  Find out what a store's return policy is before you buy those heels.  I think fashion should be practical, so even though you don't have to dash after a toddler anymore, nor should your feet suffer with blisters just so you can look good.


8.                  Don't forget to check your closet for pieces you can use.  I have so many purses that are still useful.  I've glued on flowers or other decorative pieces to update them and make them coordinate with what I'm wearing.  Here's where you can put your creative juices to good use!

And again, think about what YOU like!  Just because your mother says you should dress in black because “it looks slimming, Dear” doesn't mean you have to.  If your husband wants you to wear heels when you go out, but they kill your feet, invite him to wear them instead!  Your appearance says everything about you, the real you, not the “box” others have placed you in.  Embrace yourself for the person you are NOW, not the shadow who you once were.  The diaper-bag and toddler years are over – go find yourself!

Here are some resources to find the look you want at any age:

Hairstyles For Fall/Winter 2014. (Hint:  variations on the pony tail are hot this season!)

Fall/Winter 2014 Fashion:
Key to Chic
Best Fashion Blog

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Gotta Do You

I have this really fantastic friend from high school. Well, I have several. This story is about one in particular. I cannot tell you when we first met… I think it might have been when I helped her and two mutual friends with a play skit or maybe we were in classes together, but it is hazy.  We always had mutual friends. That I know. Junior year of high school we were in classes together – that I remember – and that is when we really rocked that school. We painted murals together, made funny faces endlessly, and ran along beaches in the cold of spring, naming shells “Squishy” along our way. (If you got that Finding Nemo reference, you get an A+ in Awesome.)
Me and Lauren this summer.  ♥ Mom took
this just before we went to see the
musical version of Legally Blonde.
Theater lovers!

She is my Glorious. (You know how I love to nickname friends whenever the opportunity arises.)

She is one of the most excitable, sweetest, kindest, non-judgmental, most love-filled people I have ever met. At the same time, she is one of the most opinionated, stand-her-ground, tell-you-the-truth-that-needs-to-be-told kind of person. She is a tough cookie! And boy, do I love that about her. All of it.

At the first school dance I ever went to she ran up to me, noticing I was a bit awkward and stiff, and started dancing with me. As we danced she yelled over the music, “Shake what your momma gave you, Katie!” Whenever I realize I’m being tense and awkward, I think of my Glorious. I whisper to myself, ‘Shake it out, Katie, shake-it out.’

Metaphorically, of course. No booty shaking in the hallways!

The fun-tastic Summary of Our Friendship collage
I made for Lauren's birthday this year.

Lauren is a 4-foot-something firecracker. I couldn’t imagine my high school life without her friendship. I couldn’t imagine my current life without her friendship. Her friendship has been a gem in my life.  I spoke very briefly earlier this year about my struggle with illness; this took a huge toll on friendships. (It still continues to.) I spent months out of high school. When I was in school, I rarely had time to hang out with friends. It can be hard to make connections with people that way. And, understandably, it is hard for people who have never been ill or haven’t had a close family member ill, to truly understand what that is like and know how to deal with it, for them to know I wasn’t just blowing them off, not caring, or ignoring anyone. Lauren never had that problem. Somehow she always knew and understood. It is the old soul in her, I guess. She always loved me regardless. Even now, the older we get, any-and-all of my quirks, she has embraced with open arms.

She truly tries to love everyone for who they are. I admire that about her, because I try the same, but I know I fail at it – a lot. (Oh, heck, who am I kidding? I admire a lot about her. That girl is FAB.)

Whenever I am apologizing for something…For having to miss a get-together, for not responding to a text, for being a giant squid of anger when I am normally as gentle as a bunny, she is the first one to hold up the imaginary Neon Flashing Sign: “WHOA GIRL.” She is my gentle Gibbs Slap. (Keeping with the media references, a NCIS reference for you!)

“Katie, girl,” She will tell me, speaking in a Russian accent that’s slipping into in German; after all, she is an actor at heart. Her hand goes on my shoulder, as friends do. “Girl, you have got to do you.”

You gotta do you.


Those are some of the wisest words I could ever hear. And some of the most needed ones.

If ever there were a year in which I needed Glorious’ wise words, it has been this one. 

Some beautiful, flowering trees a took pictures of
at my former college.


I have always struggled with ‘doing me’. I am a perfectionist, which means I obsess and worry and have anxiety attacks trying to make everything perfect – and be perfect. By definition, I am a people-pleaser. Giving everything to other people, that is my style. Whatever they want, I go with. Whatever is demanded of me, I rise to the occasion. Better yet, whatever I perceive that needs to be done or that is expected and required of me, I plow on to get it done. Man, do you know how exhaustive that is? How about a “hell yeah!” for stressful?

It is walking around with an obligation to hold the world up with only your two shoulders, an obligation you put on yourself. ‘Forget about the other several billion people on the planet,’ says your brain, ‘it is all on YOU. Better yet, that other several billion? Yeah, that’s why you have got to shake ass. I mean, you need to stand out, right?’

As if I have to, in the words of
BrenĂ© Brown, hustle for my worth - to prove something.

(An aside: I like being liked, but more importantly I like seeing other people happy. I genuinely don’t like hurting people. I love helping them. Seeing joy alight in a person’s eyes makes my heart soar.  It isn’t like I do everything with this hustling-for-my-worth mentality in the forefront of my mind, but, listen, I’ve gotten to the point where I am trying not to BS with myself anymore. Humans do act and interact based upon a reward system. Dopamine release in the brain tells us when something feels good and is safe; if it feels good, we want to do it more. Hence addictions develop. Doing our best and getting praised, doing our best and feeling accomplished, and helping others all make us feel good.  Once we get a taste we want to keep doing it, to feel that again. It doesn’t mean the action of helping someone doesn’t come in sincerity from the deepest part of your heart. It does. There is just something egging it on. That feel-good feeling becomes an addiction; feeling anything else is terrifying.  Sometimes it is helpful, sometimes that addiction becomes detrimental to yourself.  We’re talking about the latter here.)

"I'm a Hobbit!"
Library study session adventures at my last college.


When you aim to Do It All and Be It All, eventually the world is going to flush down the drain. It is impossible.  Either everything is going to crumble, you’ll lose your mind, or both. We are just not made to try to be Wonder Women and Supermen!

College has brought its own share of illusion-shattering for me. My I Can Be Superwoman mentality has been torn through on several occasions. At the end of my freshman year of college I made a very hard decision to leave behind my friends and amazing teachers to transfer to another college. It ended up being the best decision I could have made for myself. At the time, it was very difficult. I knew the place could not work for me for a variety of reasons; but I loved the teachers, the smallness and closed-knit atmosphere of the campus, the beauty of the landscape, the convenience of living on campus, and, of course, my friends. Transferring meant graduating without them. It was also a high end school that would look good on my transcript. No one was pressuring me to stay, but I felt expected to stay, obligated.

In the end, I had to leave – for my own sanity and health.

Earlier that year I had been signed up for Biology, Calculus I, Chemistry, and another course. Within the first two weeks I found myself having mental break downs. I was tired. My anxiety was through the roof. There was so much work I was overwhelmed because I didn’t have the time I needed to understand the concepts that were being thrown at me. But I was on a Pre-Med track. If I couldn’t do that, what did that say about graduate school? Besides, dropping courses meant extending my graduation date. It also meant leaving behind hopes of the Dean’s List because there was a certain credit requirement for it. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didn’t want to ruin my chances at graduate school. I didn’t want to let myself down.

Eventually, I had to Do Me. I dropped chemistry and changed Calculus I to pre-calculus. I transferred my first college with a solid 4.0 for both semesters. To this day I still remember biology concepts, sociological concepts, and historical events from the classes I took that year. Hardest decision = best decision.

Those were little testing grounds. This year…this year the Universe is throwing in the true testers.  I am really getting to see, for the first time, just what I grip on to.

Just a few, recent examples (there are more, trust me):

Thursday, I stayed home from school. Gasp! The horror!  I have, maybe, if I am lucky, missed five days of college – maybe a week, if we get crazy – in my college years. This is pretty remarkable considering how much I struggle with my health and how much going to-and-from class, sitting in class, and still managing to do homework is often an impossible task. (There is too much to do, too little energy and too much muscle pain to do it.) Yet, I do it. Why? I am so driven to do well, to get that A, otherwise grad schools won’t take me. Regardless of what it takes: I go to class.

On Thursday, I had an ocular migraine. A regular migraine, light sensitivity and all, coupled with vision abnormalities. The idea of missing class grated on me. Miss class, me? No! Something important will be discussed. Besides, I have a group I’m part of. I can’t let them down. The stress of resisting what my body needed only made the migraine worse.

Today I only had plans for class, homework, and studying. With midterms coming up and events this weekend, there is no time for fun or play! It is nose-to-the-grindstone for this gal. Yet, when I sat down after dinner for my second wind, I was hit with a series of flashbacks over the past year. I became restless as I tried to shove down the urge for writing that has been building for the past month and a half. (Because I do not allow myself to write during the school year, since my first focus is always school work and other obligations.) Inspiration and desire bubbled up from my core until BAM – explosion!  Here I am, writing to you.

This year, for a lot of hard, personal reasons, I have had to let a lot of people go from my life, for my own well-being. I resisted this with claws dug deep into the ground. I clung on to what I wanted to still be true of the relationship and what could have been. Fear and worry of coming off looking like the “bad one” to people who don’t understand and the fear and pain of hurting others has made it even more difficult, as a truly care about them. It bruised my heart. I have also had to be very honest with what I do and don’t enjoy, where my morals and my level of comfortability come to into play, and allow myself to realize that those who truly care for me will love and accept me as I am. Those who don’t, I have to learn to accept, weren’t truly my friends to begin with.  (It is scary! But standing up for myself has really worked.)

Not long ago I decided to take a certification course. It was a weekend training session, 9-5, during the school year. I almost passed up the opportunity because of that. How could I take so much time away from my studies? But I really, secretly wanted to do the course. The idea excited me. I tried to stifle the excitement, but I couldn't contain it for long. So I took a plunge;  I signed up for the course. And, you know what? It was one of the most uplifting, relaxing, exciting, and fun weekends I have had all semester.

Earlier this semester, I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make: drop a vital course. This time I didn’t drop chemistry itself (believe me, I’ve really wanted to a few times as I sit working through problems), but, rather, its lab. It was a decision that would push me back even further in my graduation date.  The work load was intense, though. I might as well have been taking a 4 credit course instead of a one credit one.  While trying to practice all of my chemistry from lecture, practicing statistics, and working group projects in my other courses, it was all too much. And I hadn’t even added in lab yet! Once I added in lab work, I was up until 3am doing homework, trying to make sure I had concepts down, practice in, and assigned work completed. (Me without enough sleep is not a pretty sight. I am irritable and whiny. I toss my textbooks across my bed and throw little temper tantrums because all I want is sleep. The day after, my body wages war as if I am Middle Earth and Sauron is trying to fight the Free People all over me. Illness no likey no sleepy.) My anxiety was through the roof. I was restless. I was suffocating. I was having a break down Every. Other. Day. Tears, depression, feeling like I was trapped inside a cage, feeling like I was going out of my mind, and anxious all of the time - the whole shebang. I hated making the decision. The entire time I just wanted someone to make it for me. Just tell me: “drop the class.” Gosh, isn’t it easier when someone gives you the permission by freeing you of obligation?  No one told me that. My parents told me it was my decision, and that they supported me in whatever I chose. They were supportive, they did help me, and in the end I came to the decision I needed most: you gotta do you. No one could bring that realization to me. I had to reach it on my own. It is a tough lesson I have to work through.

There is a running theme here: all of the pressure put upon me was in my mind. Yes, there were some external incentives. Attendance is graded in my classes, I only have three graduate schools in the country to choose from for the degree I want, and my graduation date keeps moving further out of grasp (meaning I keep acquiring more and more in undergraduate loans), for instance. But at the crux of it all, I am the one deciding that all of these things deserve a weight strong enough to hold me hostage. I was the one bullying myself into a corner.

Life is a river.

You have two options: be a leaf, drop into the current and follow where it leads, or be a rock, with everything life brings to you crashing and beating against you.

At first glance a rock is safe, right? It is sturdy, steady. It knows where it is going and is comfortable with that, resisting everything that tries to move it from that path.  A leaf is uncertain – who knows where the current may lead?

Normally, I’m a rock.

Being a rock means migraines, misery, teeth-clenching, anxiety, and every unpleasant feeling and emotion. These are the body’s manifestation of our resistance.

The leaf, the leaf is the way to go.
 
Staying home from school was the best decision I could’ve made this week. My migraine went away, for good. I caught up on sleep I needed. I de-stressed, which I severely needed. And I got a lot done. I feel much, much better than had I gone into class, even if I could’ve gone.  As the semester goes on, I realize there is NO way I would have had the time to take Chem Lab and even consider sleeping. And I like sleep. And my sanity.  I have learned that I will get where I am meant to go in life at my own pace, not the pace I force myself to go at, but the past I need to go at. I cannot force a timeline. Life will meet me where I am at. I just have to listen to myself. And even though my heart truly aches and misses those who I have had to let go over this past year, I had to let them go, for my own good. Every day it gets a bit easier, every day I realize that, without a doubt, I made the right decision.
I feel lighter because of it. Happier.
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is the hardest thing you have to do. Especially when that right thing is being done by you for you and not for someone else; after all, courage isn’t about absence of fear or discomfort, it is about having the vulnerability to face that fear and discomfort.

I promise you’ll be happier having done it. You’ll be a better person, more able to constructively help others and yourself. You cannot help anyone if you don’t take care of yourself First and Foremost. That includes standing up for yourself.

Girl, you Gotta Do You.

When was the last time you had the courage to Do You?