31 Days | Day 8: Relationship Non-Negotiables

Relationship Non Negotiables

It’s time to move on to the second prompt of this project – and this time, let’s talk relationships.

I first heard this question at a party with a mixed group of friends, and I loved it right away. I loved that it made me think, made me choose my words carefully, and really got me considering what my most basic, bottom line needs are in my relationships. I also loved hearing how everyone else answered!

When you think about the relationships we keep, almost universally, there are some that fill us up, and others that drain us. To feel full, I’ve found there has to be a balance of giving and receiving between partners. Not the tit-for-tat-and-keeping-score kind of balance, but the kind where both partners are fundamentally getting what they need, not giving more than they have. When that happens, my emotional reserves are full and I’m suddenly able to give more freely and cheerfully… and that’s a feeling I love.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the relationships in my own life in recent years, it’s this: the first step to getting what you need is knowing what you need.

Questions like the one we’re about to address me realize that the more we know about ourselves and the sooner we take the time to learn it, the better we can be at making choices that truly reflect our values and fill us up.

So once again, find some time for you. Some time to relax, give yourself the gift of some time and attention. Cozy up somewhere and do something that feels a little indulgent – a morning latte? An evening glass of wine? Sitting down at your clean and lovely workspace for some pause and reflection? Piling up in bed with your notebook? Whatever feels right for you, begin brainstorming words, thoughts, and phrases that may help you answer the question:

What are three to five of your non-negotiable needs in a relationship?

Do you have strong knee jerk reactions in response to this questions? Are you struggling to think of words that resonate? I’d love to hear your response to this question. (Personally, the pressure of committing to just a few words felt really overwhelming!)

Remember – in this stage, no self editing. Just jot it all down! We’ll come back and clean it up a bit later.

 

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31 Days | Day 7: Following Through

White Tulips on Table

We’re so close to closing out this first topic! Now that you’ve defined your signature style and refined your list of the wardrobe elements that make you feel like you, this is a great opportunity to come full circle remember the purpose of this project: making sure the choices we make feel authentic and reflect who we are at our core.

As you get to know yourself better and in new ways with each prompt, I’d encourage you to seize every opportunity to evaluate your habits. You’ve now identified some specifics on a particular topic that make you feel like the best version of yourself – what choices and habits in your daily life align with these, and which ones feel ‘off’? Is there an opportunity to make changes for the better?

Are there pieces in your closet that you’re hanging onto for the wrong reasons?  Which pieces make you feel less than your best? Do you wear them? Can they go? Are there certain pieces or outfits that make you feel especially sexy/strong/powerful/fantastic? Is there any benefit to keeping track of those somehow? Do you have the means or the space to seek out more pieces like them?

At the end of the day, the world is your oyster when it comes to deciding if and how to use what you uncover about yourself to inform the choices you make moving forward. However, no matter what you choose, I’d encourage you to take some time to reflect on the things you learn as you go.

I’ll leave you with the phrase above – “Do more of what makes you happy” – and let it inspire you to do whatever feels right with this new insight you’ve gained about what makes you you.

Get ready for a new topic tomorrow!

Ps – did you make your list pretty? Is that just me? Something about a pretty list always inspires me to come back to is and really use it. Feel free to share!

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31 Days | Day 6: Simplifying and Honing Your Signature Style

Simplifying and Honing Your Signature Style

It feels great to be wrapping up the first full prompt cycle in this book of what-makes-you-feel-like-you by defining your signature style, don’t you think?

We’ve brainstormed.

We’ve simmered.

We’ve digested some food for thought.

And after all those steps, my list was…. messy. Not perfectly complete, or well organized. But once I started to add, cross out, highlight, draw arrows, circle words, and make some connections, I could see themes emerging from all the pieces. Themes and pieces that feel like me.

For me, things feel more complete when they are simplified. So to make my style page feel a bit more focused and complete, I boiled it down to a few simple words and phrases:

Three words to describe my signature style: classic, feminine, balanced

Colors and textures that make me feel my best: navy, burgundy, creamy neutrals, lace, jewel tones, soft fabrics, clean lines.

When I feel like mixing it up a little, I go for: an all-black ensemble with a pop of interest.

Accents that scream “me”: pearls, gold, vintage details, buttons, bows, a restrained hint of sparkle

I am drawn to pieces that make me feel: polished, womanly, and powerful.

What did you learn about yourself and the elements of your signature style? Would you share below? I’d love to see what you’ve discovered so far in this process!

Check back tomorrow for one final, critical step before the next prompt – taking what we’ve learned about ourselves and setting it in motion.

 

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31 Days | Day 5: On Dressing to Feel Like Yourself

Feel Like Yourself

Have you been working on defining your signature style? I can’t wait to share a little bit about what my list looks like tomorrow!

I’ll admit I hesitated to start with this particular topic – mostly because the origin of this project comes from such a meaningful place, and yet the subject of personal style can seem a little superficial.  Having said that, knowing what it means to feel like myself is a huge piece of where this project came from, and the process of actively discovering and putting together a style that feels deliberate and authentic can play a huge role in how we feel about ourselves.

Sally McGraw over at Already Pretty wrote a really wonderful post, “Change Your Style, Change Your Life” that taps into this same idea. In her words, “My exploration of personal style made me more aware of my body and my health, showed me that there isn’t a single type of gorgeous body, provided me with a previously untapped outlet for artistic and creative expression, led me to blog which rekindled my love of writing, introduced me to a huge new world of stylistic thinkers and influencers, provided me with several new streams of income, unlocked untold amounts of personal confidence, and connected me to YOU.”

If that doesn’t speak to the value of honing and owning your style, I don’t know what does. So while, it might feel superficial at first, in Sally’s words:

“Investing time and energy in creating a style that makes you feel joyful, confident, and entirely yourself can lead to good, good things.”

 

Amen, sister.

I’ll be sharing elements of my signature style tomorrow – I hope you’ll do the same!

 

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31 Days | Day 4: Still Simmering

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I wasn’t kidding when I said I wouldn’t rush you.

This project really is about a journey, and not about a destination. It’s about the process of getting in touch with who we are at our core. Pretending we can find those answers readily and quickly in a way that feels satisfying just seems silly.

Personally, I’ve found that expecting to sit down every day and dedicate the necessary time and focus to digging and writing with purpose is unrealistic. I can do that a couple of times a week, and that’s what I feel comfortable committing to. So on the days I’m not making a ‘date’ with myself to sit and reflect and write and savor the time alone, I like to mull things over. Chew on these questions. Let them roll around in my head for a little while as I go on living my life. That process feels right for me, and strikes a great balance between feeling productive and giving myself room to choose other priorities on a day-to-day basis.

So friends, keep on mulling, chewing, and simmering. And in the meantime, a friendly reminder that there is no strength quite like the strength it takes to Do Your Thing without Caring If They Like It. Commit to knowing who you are, honoring that person, and shaking off the opinions that don’t matter.

(The words above are wise words from my girl crush, Tina Fey. In fact, if you haven’t read her book Bossypants, I highly recommend that you do. More on that here.)

 

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31 Days | Day 3: Branch Out For Inspiration

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If you missed yesterday’s post, you’ve got some writing to do! Don’t worry – the fun kind.

So. You started yesterday’s prompt about defining your Signature Style, and now you’ve had a chance to sleep on it. Did more things come to mind? Jot ‘em down. Now that you’ve had a chance to scribble all of your knee jerk responses on paper, I find it’s easier to start letting your mind wander and stumble on some answers that didn’t reveal themselves quite so obviously off the bat.

This is the phase I like to call letting it simmer. The idea of sitting down and coming up with a complete  answer to a question that speaks to something as meaningful and complex as my identity stresses. me. out.  So instead, I like to give it a couple of days to see what else I come up with.

Not only that, but I’d challenge you to take it a step further. Today, I’d ask you to consider the same question from yesterday, but this time, branch out to find inspiration.

Take a spin through your closet. Peruse magazines. If you have a Pinterest board with your fashion wishlist, pay it a visit – and check out others, too. Go on a walk. Go for a change of scenery and try working outside, or in a different room in your home, or in a new coffee shop.

Opening yourself up to finding inspiration in unfamiliar places can be so invigorating, like a breath of fresh air.

Give it a shot, and keep on jotting down those ideas! And again, don’t worry about making it pretty or perfect – focus on low-stress progress.

 

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31 Days | Day 2: Start Digging

Signature Style

Yesterday I introduced a project whose purpose I hold near and dear: challenging strong, generous women to carve out time for themselves and engage in the process of actively learning, understanding, and honoring the many facets of who we are.

I anticipate the scope of this project will reach far beyond 31 days, so this month we’ll start with a sampling of prompts to get your feet wet and your creative juices flowing. Each prompt will fall into one of six areas: Style and Aesthetics, Relationships, Health & Wellness, Core Values, Life’s Work & Productivity, and Lifestyle.

On that note, what better time to begin? Grab that gorgeous notebook, cozy up somewhere comfortable, take a deep breath… and let’s dive in.

Prompt #1: What are the elements of your Signature Style?

It might feel broad, but I’d invite you to use this question to start dissecting and teasing out the textures, colors, materials, details, and qualities that speak to you and that make you feel like you. Think of the things you’re naturally drawn to. Those pieces in your closet you love and keep coming back to. The fabrics and decor in your home that make the space feel like yours. The embellishments that take a room or outfit from generic to ‘SO you!’ Do you notice any themes or patterns that keep showing up?

Your task for now: write down any and all words and phrases that come to mind. Don’t worry about self-editing, wrong answers, or keeping it neat. Don’t stress out about which ones you’re forgetting. Just. start. writing. You’ll have time to hone your list and make it pretty later.

Mining though the layers of who we are for answers to these questions is a process that takes some time and focus… so I won’t ask you to rush. In fact, I like to take a couple of days to add, scratch out, highlight, circle, and refine my list. I’ve even divided my notebook in half, so I can use the back half to brainstorm freely and messily – chicken scratch and all – while saving the front half for ‘prettier’ lists that eventually feel a little more complete and calming to look at. (I’m a little crazy like that. #notsorry)

So, let’s get to it! Start brainstorming, even if it’s just for 10 minutes today, and don’t forget to check back in tomorrow so we can keep on going. Remember, this project is about the dig and not about producing a perfect final product. Allow this time with yourself to be revealing, stimulating, and calming – you deserve it.

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31 Days | Find Out Who You Are & Do It On Purpose

Find Out Who You Are with URL

About The Project

(Or, skip straight to the landing page with posts listed in order!)

For a few long, anxiety-filled years, I lived my life making choices and doing things that didn’t feel like me. And then something inside me woke up and I got tired of it.

It’s not a particularly novel story. I was a young, and in a relationship full of firsts and dizzying novelty. Suddenly I found myself contorting and burying parts of who I am to fit this person’s expectations, mostly because he just seemed So Sure of who he wanted me to be. Before I knew it, four years had passed and I was walking around with a perpetual knot in my stomach that nagged, “None of this feels right.

As women, we are (often) natural nurturers, and I’ve always felt that instinct strongly. The women I admire most are strong and generous, loving fearlessly and giving often. But when we give mindlessly according to others’ expectations without reconciling who we are at our core and what matters most to us, all sense of intention is lost and the emotional well quickly runs dry.

Digging deep and committing to the process of peeling back the layers and learning about myself has catapulted me into a happier, healthier place – one where I’m now able to be my own unwavering advocate for happiness and sanity.

 

But more importantly, it has almost instantly made me a better friend and daughter, who reaches out more often, gives more willingly, and values relationships more deeply; I am noticeably lighter and more positive, and better able to celebrate other people’s successes. I trust myself to know and honor my limitations, which in turn makes me better at giving.

I believe strongly in the value of generosity, and it starts with being good to ourselves.

I believe in carving out time to dig for answers and put pen to paper to create something that celebrates what make us whole. Something that feel like it’s a collection of all those pieces, big and small, that make us smile and think, “Yes! That’s SO me!”  A work in progress that celebrates you. Something you can grab when you’re feeling not quite like yourself to help bring you back and get you on track. Not shiny and perfect, but authentic and productive.

So pick out a journal or notebook that speaks to you, and together let’s start creating a book that celebrates you. That simple. For the next 31 days, I’ll offer questions and prompts to tackle with built in time for brainstorming, introspection, and refining. I’ll share my process for approaching these questions, but your process doesn’t have to look like mine. No matter how you approach your project, let’s begin cultivating an awareness within ourselves of what feels authentic, and nurture the strength to settle for nothing less.

The list of things you’ll need is short: a notebook you love, and time set aside for yourself.  Think of it as a standing appointment, and add those small touches that  make you want to keep it. 10 minutes before bed each night under your softest blanket, early in the morning with a fresh cup of coffee, or on your favorite spot on your couch in the evening with a nice glass of red… whatever speaks to you. Regardless of what you land on, we owe ourselves the gift of time and attention, as givers, nurturers, and strong, generous women.

Dolly Parton said it best: “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose.” Here, it starts with 31 days of introspection and celebrating your identity… won’t you join me?

Feel Good Friday | Happy 2014 + The Power to Choose

Ladies Drinking Champagne

Well, it’s no secret: I haven’t been here in a while.

As I racked my brain for excuses to justify my absence, I was relieved when I landed on the one most obvious reason the blog has been neglected – namely because it’s a reason that sits well with me: I’ve been choosing relationships. Taking some time to put people ahead of writing, opt for a girls’ night and some quality catch-up time instead of staying up until midnight cranking out a half-hearted post. I’ve been consistently choosing to do what I needed to do for myself, rather than what I “felt like I should” do for the sake of the blog.

Don’t get me wrong, P&O is something I’m still so, so excited about and this is NOT my way of saying it’s a low priority. Quite the opposite, actually. I spent a lot of time around the holidays thinking about how I can really dive back into blogging in 2014, in a meaningful and sustainable way. I’ve given real thought to exactly what it is I want to do here, and I what I want to be offering you here that is of value to you, that you can’t find anywhere else… and I’m really excited about some of these ideas. (More on that later!)

However, in the spirit of sharing and honesty, the last few months have been very personally trying. In November, I ended the relationship I’d been in for over four years – my first real, meaningful, grown-up relationship – and with that comes the need for pause, repair, and reflection. I’m comfortable saying to you that I’ve been absent here because I’ve been busy taking care of myself and nurturing the relationships in my life that have gone a little too neglected for a little too long, with people who were by my side offering love and support faster than I could ask for it.

If there’s one little nugget of wisdom I’m taking away from this situation, it’s this: Choice is a powerful, empowering thing. Choosing to change course and pursue the life we want for ourselves, even when that choice seems incredibly difficult. Choosing to take a break from to do lists to focus on friends. Choosing which habits to keep, and which ones to kick. Choosing happiness.

With all that’s happening and with all that I’ve learned, 2014 will be the year I embrace – and celebrate! – what it means to have the power to choose what I want my life to look like. 

I’ll ask you to bear with me as I continue to get my thoughts together and rethink the direction of my content here over the next few days (weeks?), but I hope to start some further dialogue here about substantive, thought-provoking topics like resolutions, goals, change, identity, happiness, and choice very soon!

Is your 2014 off to a good start? What are some of your goals or mantras for the year?

Thanks for your patience, and know that I’m so glad you’re here!

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Feel Good Friday | Chasing Change

Woman Running

Let me make one thing clear: I don’t do running.

I’ll be more specific. If there’s a man chasing me in a dark alley with a machete, I’ll consider it… though if we’re being honest, I’d really prefer some good old fashioned sharp-tongued negotiation to settle our differences. But I digress. The point is this: there are few things in this world I enjoy doing less than running.

I think it’s safe to say I avoid running because the alternative — ahem, not running — just seems so much more pleasant. (Profound, I know… stay with me.) The thought of running is so nice, what with all that there is to be gained: being outside, all those feel-good endorphins, theoretically getting that much closer to a toned bod… but let’s be honest, that sofa is comfortable. Like, comfortable. And anticipating all the huffing and puffing, that stinging in my chest that happens, the energy it would take to get myself up and dressed and motivated and out the door is just. too. much. And so, more often than not, the couch wins – not because it’s the best choice, but because it’s the comfortable choice.

This is not unlike how I feel about change.

You could say I’m a fan of stability – the biggest of fans, even. That’s not to say I’m entirely risk-averse or that I’m totally content to be a bump on a log all day, but the fact is that if something isn’t blatantly broken, you will rarely find me trying to fix it. I’m the girl who routinely orders the same thing at my favorite restaurants; I can quote entire episodes of 30 Rock, and that won’t stop me from watching them again (and again); my 9-5 routine gives me a real sense of stability, even on its worst days.

Big change turns my world upside down, and letting the familiar slip away makes my stomach do the pretzel in a big way – but according to the almighty HuffPo, my fellow familiarity-clingers and I may be doing ourselves a real disservice. Last month, the Huffington Post published a Brené Brown-inspired article that examined the “9 Happiness Mistakes You’re Probably Making“, and among those mistakes is – you guessed it! – Resisting Change:

According to a study on the psychology of choices, the human brain naturally tries to avoid loss — but that resistance can cause a lot of stress. Just because you’re satisfied with how life is right now, doesn’t mean you should be resistant to change. Whether it’s fear of the unknown or fear of losing what you currently have, the pressure to hold on to the present can ultimately harm your future life satisfaction.

I’m at an age and in a place where change is imminent – I can feel it. This, my friends, is a really, really good thing – I just need to remind myself of that sometimes. Change is the spice of life, as they say, and without it, growth is impossible. Even when the trauma of shaking up my world in the name of change feels so much heavier than the potential gains, I need to remember to remind myself that change is necessary. Change is worth it. Change is often worth getting really excited about, even when it’s absolutely terrifying. And while we shouldn’t expect to tackle it all at once, being courageous enough to stare change in the face can be the toughest part.

So who knows – maybe you’ll catch me off the couch and struggling my way through a 5K in the not-too-distant future… but not before I re-watch a few more episodes of 30 Rock for the 27th time.

Have a lovely weekend – and go ahead, treat yourself to a little shake-up in your routine. You deserve it.

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