Minimalism is the New Black

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I have something pretty shocking to share with you all. You might not even believe me when I say it, but I promise you, it’s true. Up until the need to replace a summer dress that completely fell apart (I’ve been wearing this baby like, three times a week), I had not purchased an item of clothing since January! If I could make the screen do one of those cool shaking, can you really believe it things with pop art word bubbles, I would. I’ll admit, it makes blogging a bit tough. A lot of people read blogs like this for the sole purpose of seeing what’s new and scooping the new up as fast as possible. If anyone understands this concept, it’s me. During one of my more interesting moments in life, the UPS man was visiting our front porch with boxes on the daily. At one point, I thought I would have to add him to my Christmas card list and invite him over for dinner. I was filling a giant void of unfulfillment and unhappiness with things. Lots and lots of (pretty) things.

I’ll be one of the first people to admit that things make me happy. They do. A new, pretty dress. Lust-worthy heels. A brand new handbag to cart all my junk. It all brings me wonderful, temporary joy. The key here being temporary. Things also cause me endless bouts of anxiety, and I didn’t fully realize this until now. When I would find something I had to have, I would become obsessive. Should I buy it? Can I afford it? What if I can’t afford it? How can I afford it?  What can I sell so I can afford it? Is it still available? I have to check to make sure it’s still available! Oh look, a coupon code. It’s fate; I must buy! But do I really need it? Can I still afford it? Are your insides in knots right now after reading that? Because mine sure are. Do you know how much time in my life I’ve wasted scrolling through item after item while searching for the perfect coupon code so I could justify my purchases? That’s just a taste of my internal dialogue when I found something I couldn’t stop obsessing over and had to have. I’ve never been addicted to drugs or alcohol…to anything really. So I can’t say that’s how an addict feels. But I sure felt addicted and owned by my need to acquire things. Sometimes it wasn’t even about the thing, it was about getting the thing, owning it, having it.

I’d love to tell you I had this great realization, that it hit me like a bolt of lightening. Unfortunately, that’s not how this all came about. It’s a very sad story actually, looking back on the events that led up to this moment. The biggest pain point of my relationship with my husband has always been my love of the almighty dollar and spending those dollars as fast and furious as I could. I can’t tell you how many fights have started over a box on the doorstep or a line item on the credit card that wasn’t in the budget. When we’d argue, I’d always think he was trying to take away something I loved. But he wasn’t, and it’s taken a long time for me to realize the bigger picture. Our solution to the fighting was to give me one lump sum of money to spend throughout the year. What I bought and how I managed it all was up to me. I seriously thought I won the fricking lottery guys. I was elated! He finally saw it my way! Money to spend, boxes to arrive, things to acquire! Spend, spend, spend! And spend I did. I spent every last dollar and then some in six months time. You want to take about disappointment and shame? I can talk about disappointment and shame. Can you see me out there doing my version of the walk of shame? Because I am…

That’s when I finally got it. I blew what some would consider a pretty obscene amount of money for clothes, shoes and makeup. I tore through that bitch. And at the end of the day, it brought me no happiness. Zilch. Nada. It only made me feel terrible.  Where as before I’d more than likely still try to buy stuff, rationalize why I needed it, I couldn’t. I can’t. I don’t want to. You have no idea how freeing it is to not be consumed by the thought of having to have something. It feels like my time has expanded exponentially. I’m much more present in the moment, where before I’d always have something on my mind that I wanted to purchase. I still see things that make my heart flutter. Spring and summer dresses are my drug of choice. For a while I limited the temptation, pairing down the blogs I personally visited while redirecting all of my “Hey, you! You need me! I’m on saaaaaale!” emails directly to the trash. I guess that was my form of therapy. Limit that which drives you crazy.

I haven’t had much of a craving to buy things as of late. Instead I’ve been taking a really good look at what I already own. While I have a lot of really nice things, I have also realized I have a huge wardrobe gap. I don’t own a lot of functional, practical items of clothing. Yeah, that ivory, wool sleeveless dress by Robert Rodriguez with the ruffled neckline is gorgeous, but it doesn’t really work for day to day. So I’ve found myself relying on yoga pants and t-shirts to fill that gap which isn’t exactly ideal. Look, I realize you don’t heal over night. I’ve made peace with myself if and when I screw up. It’s bound to happen. I just hope it doesn’t. I’ve started making a practical items list while doing a serious clean-up of my closet. I used to balk at the thought of a wardrobe “uniform”, but now I think I finally understand the appeal. The time and agony it saves when getting dressed is amazing! It doesn’t mean I have to stop being creative with my clothing. Believe me, you can be plenty creative with things you already own. What do you think I’ve been doing for the past 4 months?

Your take away is this, outfit posts are going to be a little bit different. I’ll do my best to find like items for you, but I can’t promise anything. And when my money replenishes (a current topic of discussion), it’s going to be more filling that void than filling the closet. Have you ever only purchased what you needed from Sephora vs. picking up something new to try? I did that last month, and I survived! No VIB Rouge for me this year, but that’s OK. At this point in my life I’d rather use that money towards a plane ticket, for an experience. I’m not judging you if you are a VIB Rouge or have a much larger clothing budget than I do. Not at all. I’m really going to miss my Rouge status. I wish money grew on trees. I mean, my original budget would be laughable to most bloggers out there. But if I blew what I thought was an obscene amount of money…the amount of money being spent for clothing is absolutely fucking insane. And I don’t want to do it anymore. For a very, very long time, this right here has been one of my biggest struggles. If you’re out there struggling with something, know it takes time to heal. Lots and lots of time. I could sit here and think back over the amounts of money I spent and wasted over the years, continuing to beat myself up. But what good would it do? That’s all in the past. And besides, minimalism is the new black, didn’t you know?

 

Dress: Target // Similar version here
Jacket: H&M // Similar version here
Sandals: Carlos Santana
Purse: Target // Similar version here

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Monday Musings: Against the Current

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Growing up in Pennsylvania, my family had an above ground pool in the backyard. It took some begging and pleading to get (I think I was in Jr. High by the time it was installed), but once we had it, it paid for itself over and over again in terms of use. From late May to mid September, my sister and I turned into mermaids. You practically had to drag us out of that pool. We’d jump in first thing in the morning, come out for lunch (dripping all over the house to my mom’s dismay) and head right back into the pool until evening. We’d have handstand contests, dive for rings on the bottom of the pool, have noodle battles, try to drown each other, and lazily lay on rafts, drifting across the blue water and relaxing to the great music of the 90s. I remember one rousing rendition of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” performed by my sister for me and some friends. She sang from the top of pool ladder in her dramatic fashion and then plummeted into the pool after the final “Don’t tell me cause it hurts”, hand clasped her heart, portraying such pain and agony, trying to stifle her own giggles. The performance was met with clapping, cheering and calls for an encore. Those were the days.

The other thing we loved to do in the pool was create a whirlpool. We’d start swimming against the current around the perimeter of the pool. We’d go as fast as we could, fighting the urge to give up and be swept away into the whirpool. When one of us would get tired, we’d urge each other to keep going. The faster and longer you went against the current, the longer the whirlpool effect would last… the faster you would fly around the pool until it ran out of steam.  I woke up this morning with this image burned into my mind, she and I working so hard until we couldn’t move our bodies any further, laughing and giggling as we prepared to let go and be swept along, enjoying the ride while it lasted.

I find myself swimming against the current quite a bit as an adult. Sometimes out of stubbornness. Sometimes due to my convictions. Sometimes because I’m positive there’s something better to be gained by going it alone, no matter now hard it becomes. But sometimes no matter how hard you push yourself, you hit a wall or come to that moment where you have to let go and enjoy the ride. You have to stop trying to control every moment and leave space for life to show you where to go. Lately for me that moment of stopping and preparing to be taken by the”whirlpool” is met with more fear than great anticipation, more concern and worry than the laughing and giggling of summer’s past. Is this us growing older?

This week is going to present for all of us many moments. Moments where fighting for what we want is most important. Moments where what’s on the other side is pretty fuzzy. Moments where we just don’t have an answer and may need to let it ride. No matter which path you choose, here’s hoping that moment before you decide to go all in or let something go is met with lots of giggly school girl anticipation than a furrowed brow and lots of worry.

 

Monday Musings: Return on Investment

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Good morning, and happy Monday! Hopefully everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day. I snuggled the furbabies for most of the day after being treated to Doggy Mother’s Day Brunch, which has become a yearly tradition. Human children, fur children, no children – in my mind Mother’s Day is for all of the strong women in our lives, women that have touched our souls in one way or another. Bad ass mama jamas. The weekend and snuggles, as usual, went way too fast.

I’ve been thinking of everything in my life lately around this concept of “Return on Investment”. I’m sure you’re familiar with the term when it comes to your finances or perhaps at work where ROI studies are constantly being conducted on various topics related to business ventures. But the term, in my mind, isn’t just for business or money; it can relate to all aspects of your life. I made a decision last week that in everything I do, in every way I choose to spend my valuable time, I better be receiving a return on my investment. From spending time with friends to spending eight hours plus in the office, if the person or the work is taking more from me than I receive, I’m looking to make a change.

From a work standpoint, for some, a pay check is that ROI, that validation that I’ve put in the hard work and here is my return. For others it’s achieving success in some way, maybe receiving a promotion or receiving accolades from a boss. And then you have this small group of people that just want to spend their work day being happy and enjoying what they do.  I get it. Happy is sometimes just an attitude adjustment. I’ve been trying to follow the mantra of being happy at what I’m doing, no matter what that is, and I’m not doing too bad of a job. I’m looking at the few pros and trying to beat them into my head when that feeling of “opening the work inbox dread” hits.  But after twelve years in the same field, work is taking more from me than I’m getting, no matter how I try to twist the truth or tell myself otherwise. Facts are facts. I’m missing my yoga class that does wonders for my mental state. I’m missing the afternoon dog walks that I so look forward to. I’m missing being able to cook dinner with my husband. I’m missing my “happy place”.  And I’m missing these things that mean the most to me for very little return. Just. Not. Worth. It.

I’m not adverse to hard work, I’m really not. When something matters to me, I’ll be the first one in the office and the last one to leave so to speak. But it has to matter. I have to see how the fruits of my labor are making a difference. And it has to interest me. Let’s face it, there are things we enjoy and things we don’t. Do you want to spend the bulk of your life doing something you’re indifferent about? Or do you want to spend those valuable hours, minutes, seconds doing something you enjoy and even better, something you’re passionate about? I choose passion each and every time. Life can really suck, especially when things happen that you have no control over. But you do have control over how you choose to spend your time and who you choose to spend your time with day in and day out. Make sure you’re investing accordingly.

In the efforts to provide you a return on your reading investment this morning, your Monday reads, short and sweet.

Off to the Market: It’s Farmer’s Market time again! In Virginia, the first week of May typically kicks off the season that runs well into October. Visiting your local market and picking up in-season produce is one of the best ways to invest in yourself, especially when you’ve got some of the best local produce at your fingertips. This post is a few years old, but it’s my go-to for providing tips on shopping at your local farmer’s market and what produce to look for during Spring, Summer and Fall. There’s nothing like fresh from the farm, ruby red strawberries, am I right?

Written by an Actual Teen: This past Saturday I spent entirely way too much time updating my iPhone, moving an embarrassing amount of photos to the cloud, updating apps, backing up my laptop…I was in technology hell, but I survived. Now I’ve been inundated with changes to apps that haven’t seen updates for quite some time. As much as I like to think I’m still hanging with the tech saviest of the crowd, I felt old for the first time ever when it came to technology. Then I came across this in-depth article written by 19 year old college student discussing how teenagers view social media today, and I felt even older. It’s quite fascinating to read, and I think there’s something we all can learn from his analysis.

You’re Kind of Self Centered: I can totally relate to this article about anxiety, being nervous and focusing so much on the impression you are leaving you miss most of the conversation you’re having with someone else. “Nerves have a way of making you fold into yourself, obsessing over each awkward thing you’ve said or done in front of someone you’re trying to impress.” Yes, yes they do. I never thought about coming across as a jerk though. #getoutofyourhead