Thursday, November 24, 2016

On Gratitude

Remember when you were younger and adults would say annoying, untrue things like, "time flies" or "I can't believe it's almost Christmas!" And you would think to yourself, "Are you kidding me!? There are TWO MONTHS until Christmas. How will I LIVE?" Well here we are; it's Thanksgiving week 2016. And my mind is blown. I find myself shocked that events from earlier in the year - my sister's wedding, baby showers, vacations, my engagement - simultaneously seem like forever ago and yesterday all at once. Really my entire adult life feels like that. I just turned 21, I could swear it. 



via GIPHY (Friends Thanksigiving episodes never get old!)

On Thanksgiving this year, I have a somewhat different perspective on gratitude which makes me particularly (and poignantly) grateful to celebrate this holiday. While dealing with some personal challenges earlier this year, I was doing a lot of searching for the ever elusive "happiness" that everyone on your Instagram and Facebook feeds seems to have but you. I wasn't traveling to Europe or buying a house or having a baby or looking effortlessly chic at all social functions, as it would seem everyone else was doing. I like things to go according to plan. I like to follow the rules. And so when life isn't pretty or doesn't align with the image I have in my head, I struggle. During this struggle, I read a lot about how gratitude improves happiness. And I was most certainly not happy. So I did something unprecedented. Rather than simply read about how to improve my life on the internet, I acted on it. And guess what? Those people at Harvard are pretty damn smart. 


Throughout the course of the year, I have really focused on improving my gratitude. I started by looking for books on how to practice gratitude and I stumbled upon My Little Gratitude Journal. The premise behind this tool is comically simple: write down 3 things you are grateful for from the day before you go to bed. We're talking bullet points, not even sentences. Even on the shittiest of days, I could find something to write down. And I was surprised to find myself listing four or six or eight bullets on many days. "Relaxing night watching TV." "Catching up with old friend via FaceTime." "Taking a walk outside." "Reading on the porch." "A fridge full of food." "Strong legs and lungs that powered me through my run." "The guy who let me cut over in traffic." "Getting a manicure." "Nabbing an awesome parking spot in a crowded parking lot." "Singing along to a great song on the radio." "A great glass (or bottle) of wine." Slowly but surely, this practice helped me to make gratitude a habit. Laying in bed at night and ending the day with positive thoughts and a grateful heart, rather than anxiously running through everything that had gone wrong today or I had to do tomorrow, helped me sleep better. And eventually it made my days better too. I began to catch myself saying quick prayers of gratitude throughout the day - noticing and appreciating these small, joyful moments when they happened. 


Am I Mary Poppins all day every day? Absolutely not. I get sad and mad and down. I get anxious. But I'm appreciating that this is life, and if you can't find opportunities to be grateful in the hustle and bustle and ups and downs, you're going to miss your chance at happiness. I loved this quote from Jennifer Garner earlier this year when she spoke to Vanity Fair:


"It's also what my mother has instilled in my sisters and me so much, that joy comes from the smallest things. And if you don't see joy in a perfect avocado or in a great conversation or in running into a friend or getting a job - if you don't see joy in a perfectly beautiful tree in autumn - then you are missing your chance at happiness. Because if you don't find it in the small things and you only wait for big moments, then you'll just not be a happy person."


While gratitude and gratitude alone is great for many, I also had the love and support of wonderful friends and family, sought out an excellent therapist and turned to medication to get me through this year. Through all of this, I am so grateful that I learned this lesson: seeking help or self-improvement is not a weakness or a fault. In fact it is the opposite of that. It takes great courage to raise your hand and admit that you are struggling and you can't do this alone. And you're not designed to. Hindsight is 20/20, so please, take this from me. And if not from me, from Selena Gomez. "If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken."


I don't share all this to say that I've found the key to happiness, or that I have it all figured out because who the hell does? If anything, this journey has made me realize that no one does. Our lives may not look the same, our journeys may not look the same and our struggles may not look the same. But rest assured, we all struggle. (This realization in itself is something to be grateful for - you are not alone!) 


And so this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for gratitude. More than ever, I am grateful for having the love and support of my people when I struggle. I am grateful for having the courage to say I needed help. I am grateful for having access to mental health resources. I am so grateful to those who have shared their mental health struggles with the world or with me personally. I am humbled by and grateful for the unconditional love and patience my fiancė showed me when I felt so anxious and broken. I am grateful that going through this with him demonstrated that we are strong and solid and can do tough shit together as a team. I am grateful for the strength and vulnerability it took to write and publish this blog post (even though twelve people read this blog). I am grateful for the increased empathy I have for others and for a true understanding of the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I am grateful for another full year of life - the good and the bad. I am grateful for the moments in my day that give me pause and allow me to take in the beauty all around me. The sound of a loved one's laughter. A tree vibrant with fall color.  A perfect cup of coffee. I am grateful for a year filled with people I love and full of personal growth. I'm even grateful for the day-to-day minutia of life. Laundry and work deadlines and oil changes. Without these things vacation days and dinners out and fun times with friends would not be so great. 


Most importantly (chances are, if you are reading this you are probably in my inner circle), I am also so grateful for YOU! For all the joy and support you bring to my life - from the bottom of my heart - Thank you. 

Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Table Scheming

Two day work week. Family. Friends. Food. Does it get better? 

Let's be honest, I'm a long way off from hostingThanksgiving. But that doesn't mean I don't love admiring a good Thanksgiving tablescape and scheming for the day when I get to set my own. (Think I can get away with just setting a pretty table and not having to cook anything!?)

        

  




Photo Sources: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

If I was hosting this year, here is a pretty table top I might put together. Now if only I owned anything I am proposing for said table...




Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Finds


It's Fridayyyyyyy!

via GIPHY

I am pumped for the weekend. It's gonna be LIT. Do I sound cool yet? Here are some things that I am looking forward to and/or I found on the internets this week, that I feel compelled to share with you. You're welcome. 

1. One of my besties is flying in from Chicago tonight. Mags shared a room with me in our off-campus house in college and she knows me *too* well. Can't wait for wine, girl time, pillow talk and maybe a little Kenny G, eh Mags? 

2. Every Christmas-Eve-Eve (that's 12/23) my family sees a movie and goes out to dinner. This tradition was started as an excuse to get us kids out of the house while my mom stayed home to wrap presents. But now that we are all grown up, she joins us. It's just such a sweet, festive day and really marks the beginning of the Christmas/New Year's holiday week for us. This year, we are going to see Collateral Beauty. This totally has a Love Actually vibe (also stars Kiera Knightly) and just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I've watched this trailer like 17 times. (Shout out to my sister KK for discovering.)




3. All these beauties will be reunited on Tuesday night. I'm so excited for Thanksgiving, but mostly I am anticipating being with all my people for a few days! My sisters are flying home from NYC, and I am already plotting how I can sabotage their return to the city and make them stay longer!



4. I am going wedding dress shopping with said sisters and my mom on Wednesday! We are going to Cincinnati's bridal district, and I am just a little bit excited! I am hoping I can find what I want (simple, elegant, not expensive!), but I am nervous that I will not be able to pick a dress until I've checked out alllll my options. Mom, you ready for this marathon!? Liking some of these styles as inspiration. (I've surprised myself by liking a lot of off-the-shoulder dresses, but I think that is something that probably looks great on models and IRL is like "oh honey...no.")




1, 2, 3

5. I think we can all agree the Michelle Obama looks fabulous on the cover of Vogue. Imagine my surprise and delight when a few of my favorite things (MObama, Kate Middleton and skincare) collided as a result of her interview. Biotulin was apparently recommended to Michelle by none other than the Duchess of Cambridge herself. It's hailed as "organic botox" that you apply topically vs. injection. And, it's affordable! For as fabulous as both of these ladies look, it is on my "must try list." I added this to my "Makeup and Skincare Favorites" board on Pinterest. Check it out. 

6. Speaking of skincare, I tried dermaplaning for the first time yesterday. It. is. amazing. I honestly have a new face. I will of course (lucky you) dedicate an entire post to this topic - along with a great deal for my Cincy friends in the near future!  

7. Running a 10K on Thanksgiving Day and kind of excited about it. This time of year is the best running weather!

8. Already anticipating decorating my house for Christmas with an overzealous fervor. Out of respect for our Pilgrim ancestors, I will refrain until the Friday after Thanksgiving. Informal poll: Real tree or fake tree? Answer carefully. We may not be friends anymore if you choose the wrong one!

9. It's no secret that I am a true Anglophile. It's in my IG and Twitter bio people. So you know it's the real deal. As such, it will come as NO SURPRISE that I am OBSESSED with Netflix's new series: The Crown. Claire Foy, who plays a young Queen Elizabeth is outstanding. The sets and costumes are exquisite and the storyline - Elizabeth's early married years and subsequent ascension to the Throne - is fascinating. The struggle between the person, Elizabeth Windsor, and the monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is heart wrenching. I am already aching for season 2 to come out. 




10. I loved this tour of a New England town in the fall. Fall is by far my favorite season, so I am savoring all the crunching leaves and colorful trees as the season winds down and gives way to Christmas (it's own season) and Winter. 


11. The Biden/Obama memes are making my life. I can't get enough. 



Wishing everyone an happy weekend! 



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wedding Prep

Did I already casually mention I am getting married? Well I ammmm. And I am pretty damn excited about it!

My excitement is twofold: 

1) Not that I've totally been dreaming about and planning my wedding my entire life, but I've totally been dreaming about and planning my wedding my entire life.

2) I'm marrying this incredibly funny, generous, thoughtful, hard-working, fun-loving person. It makes me so proud that he will be my husband, and I am so overwhelmed that he wants me to be his wife. (Seriously, though. I can be crazy. I'm lucky I locked this down.)

While we were dating, I had a little bit of time to think about our hypothetical wedding. By a little bit of time, I mean five years. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but having been a bridesmaid 7 times, a maid-of-honor 2 times and a guest at countless weddings over the last several years, I had a good idea of my ideal wedding based on season, as well as things I definitely do want (videographer) and things I don't care about (cake). (Let me clarify, I care deeply about cake. But I don't care about having a big cake to cut while almost no one is paying attention.) So once we had a venue and a date, it was relatively easy for me to decide on my "scheme" for this blessed day. Below is an exclusive, curated sneak peek at my private Pinterest Board. I do hope all seven of you will be able to keep it a secret. 

I would say season and venue were my biggest factors in determining what look/feel I wanted. Ultimately I want a very timeless colors as the foundation: ivory, black, gray, gold and silver, with seasonal pops of burgundy, wine, magenta, marsala and sage, which compliments the late-September date. 




Color Inspiration





I am making good progress on major vendors and decisions...up next, dress shopping with my mom and sisters before Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Coat Weather

I'm not sure how the weather has been in your neck of the woods, but it has been downright warm throughout October and November in Cincinnati. We've had a few chilly mornings, but by no means did you need a coat to stay warm throughout the day. Finally, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I am happy to report that some festive holiday weather is upon us. As we get closer to the holidays, I just need cold weather. I want to get bundled up and enjoy all the merriment of the season. (I'll be singing a different tune in January, I'm sure.) 

The only problem with getting bundled up and enjoying the merriment of the season? My coat game. It is the opposite of strong. I mean, I'm embarrassed to tell you how long I've had my current black wool coat. It is beyond dry cleaning. It is just worn out. So, I find myself in my typical champagne-taste-beer-budget-conundrum. Why is every coat I like on Pinterest $400+? More importantly, why am not rich so I can buy said coat? Some questions just don't have answers. 

Below is a round up of coats I have my eye on, and all can be purchased for less than $200. I'm guessing with holiday or Cyber Monday sales, many will get even cheaper. I really need to fill a wardrobe hole right now, so I am looking for black, tan or gray. But many of these come in a variety of colors! 




1 - I like the traditional elements of the this coat with the trendy asymmetrical buttons. Also a 2-in-1 coat, as it looks totally different with the collar unbuttoned and folded down.

2 - I love this simple chic silhouette. (I worry this would run the risk of being very boxy on me, which is why I gravitate towards belted or darted-waist coats.)

3 - I love this color and the dramatic collar. Oh, and the price.

4 - Classic silhouette but modern leather detail and gorgeous bouclé texturing. This is a top contender. I think I prefer the black

5 - Another fabulous bouclé option. It is particularly stunning in the blush color, but I worry that the buttons look cheap. Still, the classic double-breasted is a truly timeless look and something about bouclé really elevates the style for me. 

6 - Great statement collar, and asymmetrical, single-button closure. The leather trim on the black version is a nice touch too. 

7 - This Via Spiga number has outstanding detail with its the gold zippers, leather tassels and waistline leather detailing. 

8 - Another 2-in-1 coat, which looks completely different with the collar up vs. down. Nice leather details take this up a notch. 

9 - A beautiful bargain for the quality and details. Gold hardware and faux leather trim give this an edge, but it's still quite versatile. Another great bargain. 

Ok, so which should I ask Santa for? And where do you shop for coats? I obviously haven't wasted enough time pouring over the online coat selection of every retailer in America, and would like to keep looking to make sure I've adequately evaluated all my options!




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Master Bedroom Scheming

Did I mention I am getting married!? Well, surprise. I am! Obviously there are 8,947 things to think about when you're planning your wedding, so naturally I've decided to focus on what's most practical. Decorating my imaginary future marital home! #priorities 

Below is a little brainstorm using several pieces (dresser, lamps) that I already own, some new bedding that I plan to register for and some new pieces. That bed is a manifestation of my unfulfilled childhood dreams of having a canopy bed, and can you go wrong with greek key drapes? I think not. Lots of textures and fabrics that are primarily neutral with pops of blues and greens continues to be my M.O. I love that the bed, dresser, end tables, drapes and bedding are neutral and classic. It would be easy to refresh the room with new art, lamps and pillows down the road. 









Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Is this thing on?

I've been thinking a lot about resuscitating the old blog for a variety of reasons. It's not that I straight up forgot about it or ignored it - in fact I've prepped a lot of posts since April of 2013 (what!?) - but I never seemed to get around to posting them.  Putting together blog posts is quite time consuming, and I started to feel like with all the other awesome blogs out there, what was the point of maintaining my amateur-hour little corner of the internet? It stopped being fun and started feeling like an obligation, so I let it go. But lately I've been in need of a creative outlet. And so, here I am. But this go-around a lot has changed. I am not really that concerned with whether or not people are reading or even like my blog. I'm not worried at all with a maintaining a posting schedule. I'm just going to post what I want, when I feel like it. What a concept. So this is me, reclaiming my little corner of the internet. Hear me roar. 


Just for fun: Here's a pic of me and my sisters and our inflatable Swan named Gioswani. 
This was the best day. Sunshine, sisters, too much champagne and lots of laugh.