Saturday, December 31, 2016

I can see clearly now, the year is gone.

At the beginning of 2016, I wanted to connect.

I said, "I've spent a long time priding myself on being good at forgiving easily, letting go of stuff and moving through life unscathed. But I'm starting to feel like maybe what I'd been doing this whole time would be better described as detachment."

I wanted to learn to be angry. I wanted to dive into school. I wanted to travel. I wanted to listen to more music, the way I used to, like it was part of my daily nutrition. I wanted to plug back into my life, both the good and the hard parts, and really suss them out.

It's December 31, and I've made strides.

I quit a job that did a number on me. I started a new one that respects me and feeds my soul. I started grad school and I'm hustling and surviving it and stretching and growing. Since June, I've worked out more consistently than maybe ever before in my life. I traveled: to Panama, New York, Japan, and Spain. I wrote some stuff I really like, e.g. this one. And 2016 was also hard, with endings and whispers of endings I didn't want to deal with or face.

The year also woke me up to the painful awareness of the white privilege that kept me, for the first nearly 30 years of my life, from seeing that America still has such monstrous vile in it, when I suspect those marginalized by that hatred have always been unable to unsee it.

I learned (and am learning) to get really, truly mad when it counts. I joked on Twitter earlier that I found 2016 very therapeutic.....because it drove me to therapy. Ha. It's true: I finally committed to regularly seeing a therapist. And about a month ago, I told her I was ready to pause for now because I'm feeling really, truly good and she agreed with me. Does this count as a graduation? I'll get myself a cake.

At our first meeting, way back at the beginning of the year when the year was fresh and I still believed America might not shoot itself in the foot come November, this therapist asked me to tell her about myself. I talked for a little while, and then she looked at me and said, "It must be exhausting to be responsible for other people's feelings all the time." This woman saw me.

On the anger front, she told me I was like a water balloon. When you squeeze one part of it down, the water doesn't go away -- it just strains and stretches another part of the balloon. Anger is like that. You can pretend you're getting along fine (about, say, a religion that lied to you, about almost everything, for your entire life, while also hurting people in droves, then crucified you for finding out while also vilifying you for daring to ever call out its ugliness for what it is), when really all that anger is just residing somewhere you can't quite identify and making you sick.

In the safe space of her office, with someone removed from the situation but who also took time to learn it, I could be angry. I could be so, truly angry and betrayed. I could release my grip on that overladen water balloon and, instead, work on slowly untying the knot holding it together so I could finally let some of the pressure leak out.

And a bit at a time, I've learned to feel better. I've learned to take back my own goodness, mine, me, not anything I've earned from anyone. I've learned to admit that I don't need to grovel at the feet of any organization that takes that innate goodness away from me and tries to sell it back to me at the price of my own conscience and intuition.

I've learned that, as a woman, I can unveil my face in the sight of any deity, lift my bowed head and make it look me directly in the eyes, while daring it to ever try to take my power, my happiness, my grace, my life, my worth, ever again from where it all belongs: in my own capable hands.

So, 2017.

I'm sitting in my room newly minimalized by the purging of belongings and clutter I long needed to let go of, sitting in an emotional space where I am in control of my own destiny and life and able to feel at peace with who I am and what I want, and sitting with a mental view that sees a year of more hard, hard work ahead both via the day job and night school, and sitting with determination to stop pouring myself into any person or thing that makes me feel empty.

It doesn't always feel pleasant  or comfortable to plug back in and reconnect to the parts of life that feel easier to clamp down on and avoid, but let me tell you, it sure as hell feels clean.

And so, finally, sitting with a mind and body unveiled, I'm starting to see clearly.

Monday, December 19, 2016

7 Current Favorites From My Closet

"Everybody gotta wear clothes; if you don't, you get arrested." -Mr. T

Though technically, that depends on the location and scenario. And now that I've begun this post with an inspirational quote, let's get to it!

I feel like I've really found my fashion stride in my late 20s. The inklings were there in my younger years -- to put together something unique, something comment-worthy, something slightly off-beat. What I lacked, in my awkward-gumby-growing-pain years, was the finesse to pull off those inclinations with ensembles that a) flattered my body and b) consisted of pieces that actually worked together.

For funsies, and because I have some new treasures that I've been enjoying pairing with old favorites, here's a look at a few things I pulled together from my closet.....

7 Current Favorites From My Closet


This look gives me all the heart-eye-emoji-feels. Flattering cut-outs, red plaid, grey boots. I'd wear it out with friends or on a casual date. Could also swing it for work if I added a tank under the belly-holes. Belly-holes is a weird word. Let's move on.

leslie knotted shift dress: Tobi / red plaid shirt: H&M / grey boots: wholesale fashion shoes


The following is along the lines of what you'll see me in on any given work / school day. Boots, leggings, loose t-shirt and my fav leather jacket. I'll mix it up with a scarf or hat here and there, but an outfit like this is my home base / comfort zone / default mode.

tan boots, striped tee & leggings: Target / leather jacket: a little shop in Florence, Italy


This dress!! Little black dresses are hard for me to find, especially since I don't generally wear tight clothes and most clubby outfits are like "let's be spandex" and I'm like "let's be nope." I love the loose shape of this shift dress and I'm excited to wear it to fancy things and also dress it down w/ leggings and boots for more casual outings.

braylee plunging cut out dress: Tobi / tan heels: Payless


Rompers came in at some point in the last few years and I've been a slow adopter. This grey one (seeing that grey + jersey makes this outfit basically the exact same as the sheets I sleep on) just might make me a convert. Already looking forward to wearing it w/ some cozy layers this winter and then rocking it with some sandals this spring and summer.

hat + black boots: Target / jean jacket: Gap / chillax draped tank jumpsuit: Tobi


When I saw this treasure at the store, it was like finding a soulmate. Corduroy (my one true fabric love), reminiscent of overalls but sassy....sold. In fact, my size wasn't in stock so I promptly ordered it on my phone right there in the middle of Target. Zero regrets. What I do regret is not ironing this before the photos but.......I never iron anything so at least I'm consistent.

red corduroy jumpsuit + grey tights: Target / brown-grey boots: Cindy Shoes / black tee: H&M  


This is the kind of outfit I'd pull together on a day when I'm feeling a little funky and in the mood to be noticed. As an introvert, I'm not always in that mood. But when I am, there are mint pants and leopard print.

grey hat: Target / jean jacket: Gap / leopard-print tee: Cotton On / mint moto leggings: Unhinged Boutique / black boots: wholesale fashion shoes


Speaking of being in the mood to be noticed....this sequined crop top is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Paired with some high-waisted jeans.....done deal. My day-to-day life doesn't generate many opportunities to wear something this bold, but I am turning 30 in a couple months so.....*tucks away in closet with high anticipation*

glitz & glamour sequin crop top: Tobi / high-waisted jeans + purple suede purse: Urban Outfitters / black zipper heels: (I genuinely can't remember but it was several years ago)

The end! And now back to my regularly scheduled programming of living by the space heater in my cozy bedroom because it was 31 degrees when I went to the gym this morning. I know that's small potatoes for some of you people, but I live in California and I'm weak-sauce.

hope you're having a really lovely holiday season my friends xoxoxo

p.s. any items in this post from Tobi were provided to me free-of-charge, but you know my feelings are genuine because I picked the pieces out myself and also because I'm an honest human

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Some Neighborhoods of My Life

Many years ago, in vintage blog days, I used to start my posts by saying what music I was listening to while I wrote. So let's throw it back: I'm currently tuned in to "Moving Mountains" by Skylar Grey.

I spent a couple days this week showing my sister around San Francisco.

It was her first time in the Bay Area, so I showed her all my favs, including but not limited to Alcatraz and a long ride on the outside of a cable car up and down some iconic SF hills. (It's charming and precarious all at once and I love it.)

One of my favorite things about SF is how distinct every neighborhood is, and how closely they're all smushed together. One minute you're experiencing that bustling city-feel of Market St by Union Square, then you're immersed in another world in China Town, the next moment you're enveloped in the wafting scent of pizza-on-pizza-on-pizza in North Beach, and somewhere in there you're being misted by saltwater on the pier by a colony of sea lions.

I'm in a phase of my life lately that feels a lot like San Francisco: many neighborhoods and coves, all tucked together in one beautiful, vibrant smush.

Here's some words about a few of my own neighborhoods these days....

my body

Currently in the fitness regime: Crossfit. I never thought this would be the place for me, despite knowing people who told me otherwise for years. It deserves its own post, so I'll leave it at this: I'm happy and I feel good, and my body is strong and fierce and my own.

my space

I value organization. I've always valued it in my calendar and work life, but I've never quite made that leap to minimizing my possessions (clutterbugs anonymous, please unite) and putting things in their place. Recently, I stayed up late one night and made piles of things to purge. My space is now simple and warm and full of only the things I love the very most. I feel a weight lift off me when I curl up by a favorite candle (this one, in aloha orchid), turn on some white twinkle lights and bask in that joyous feeling of being alone and cozy and simple and safe. Do you have a space like this? You need one.

my brain

School is wrapped up for the Fall Quarter (*moment of silence for going to school full-time while also working full-time*), and it feels both damn good and challenging to work so hard and steadily chip away at my MBA. In January I'm starting my first programming class as an elective. I'm excited and nervous, but so far school has made me feel both of those things several times plus some confidence and grit on top of that every time I get through the anxious parts. Here's to more!

my heart

A lesson I've learned a lot of is that matters of the heart require a delicate balance of logic and emotion. Truly, you need both. And it's a balance in a way that's not always 50-50 at any given time -- it's more a balance of learning when to let one side tell the other one to shush and let go of the reins, either to protect yourself or run an illogical risk that somehow feels worth it. It's some kind of chaotically lovely and unnerving mixture -- a lot like a ride up and down SF streets while clinging to the outside of a cable car, actually.

my soul

I'm in a good space right now where my job and school life genuinely do feed my soul, although challenging at times, but it feels good to add other joys into the mix while those two areas ease up for a hot holiday second: lazy mornings in bed, Sunday morning movie matinees, rainy drives, good books/music/shows/people....all the best cherries on top of an already lovely life.

And with that said: It's raining outside, my favorite candle is lit, my Christmas tree is twinkling, my music is still lilting through my living room and I feel a little more like letting some mountains move me:

For once, once in your life
For once push your ambitions aside
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
For once, once in your life
For once just stop to open your eyes
And instead of moving mountains
Let the mountains move you
~skylar grey