Posted in 30 Days, Lifestyle, Style

What I Learned from Letting Other People Pick My Clothes

When I gave my mom, sisters and best friend access to my closet and complete autonomy over the outfits I would wear for the month, I didn’t go into the challenge with a lot of expectations.  As I reflect on the last 30 days of new styles and fashion related adventures, I really enjoyed the experience and recommend it to others who want to see their clothes in a different way.  Here are my biggest takeaways and discoveries from the month…

  • Break up the Routine-  My inspiration for this challenge stemmed from boredom.  At the start of this challenge, my clothes bored me and I was always circulating through the same 10 or so outfits.  Having new eyes to carefully examine the clothes I look at everyday was a fantastic way to revitalize a seemingly boring closet.
  • Mix it Up! I have items in my closet that for one reason or another always get paired together. Admittedly, there isn’t really anything wrong with the pairings but they are also not very inspired.  However, when my ‘special stylists’ saw these seem items- a pink striped cardigan, a brown tank top, a hounds-tooth sweater– all of the sudden they found new combinations I never would have thought of on my own.
  • Pay Attention to the Details- It was really fun watching each of my ‘stylists’ take great detail combing through my closet, each harping on their own details that I personally had never really thought about.  My sister really focused on what items provided the best overall palette while my best friend chose combinations that provided the best way to showcase complimenting colors.
  • Revitalize Rarely Used Clothes- I have a gray pencil skirt that I have owned for years and have never really worn.  My reasoning has always been that it doesn’t seem like me.  My ‘stylists’ selected several outfits that featured this skirt and it pushed me outside of my fashion comfort zone.
  • Re-evaluate What You Have- This challenge also revealed the clothes that I should probably say goodbye to.  Having people look through your closet is pretty revealing, and over the years, I have developed blind spots to the clothes that I know don’t fit, look weird or that I just don’t like anymore.  Having people less familiar with the backstory of my clothes revealed the clothes I no longer need to hold on to… Looking at you: acid-washed jeans, dress that I last wore 10 years ago and layered tank top.
  • Accessorize!  If I thought my clothes were boring prior to this challenge my accessories were even less imagined and creative.  Perhaps the single biggest takeaway from this whole experience is how the right necklace or set of earrings can change an outfit.

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 4 new necklaces and an infinity scarf (I have no idea what that means, but I liked the challenge a lot).

Would I Do This Again? YES! Just need some new willing stylists. 🙂  

Posted in 30 Challenges, 30 Days, Fitness, Getting Started, Lifestyle, Style

Strength Conditioning and Style Changes

Tomorrow starts a new month and two new 30 Day Challenges!  The first challenge is a fitness based challenge: 30 Days of Strength Conditioning.  The second challenge is more of a new lifestyle challenge: 30 Days of Style Changes.

30 Days of Strength Conditioning

The inspiration for this challenge came as a direct result of my experience from Swimming Around Lido Key last week.  After some post-swim reflection, I realized that while I was happy that I accomplished my ultimate goal of completing the swim, I felt a little disappointed with my overall performance.

When it came down to it, I felt pretty physically and mentally defeated by the ocean current.  So this month I am looking to focus on a physical fitness challenge that will be spent predominately out of the water in the hopes that I have more physical strength to tackle future endurance swim challenges.  For 30 days, I will dedicate myself to strength conditioning of my core, my arms and my back.  Specifically, I have downloaded a 30 Day Ab Challenge, a 30 Day Push-Up Challenge and 30 Days of Arm Workouts.

30 Days of Style Changes

This challenge is a pretty big departure for me from a lot of the challenges I have done up to this point as the majority have been focused on new fitness routines, personal growth or diet. That being said, I have been really looking forward to this.

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For the next 30 days, I will be changing up my style.  I probably spend an average of about 4 minutes deciding what I am going to wear in the morning and it never really deviates much.  This month I am mixing up what I wear and how I think about my clothes and overall style.  I will be integrating new wardrobe pieces into my normal week of outfits, asking for new weekly ‘stylists’ and playing with new styles and clothing combinations.

To get me started, I have enlisted the help of my first two ‘guest stylists’, granting my mom and younger sister full access to my closet to each pick out a week’s worth of clothes for me.  Their combinations of my clothes were unexpected and in many cases not what I would have put together for myself.  It feels a little nerve wracking to go outside my clothing comfort zone but it should be a fun few weeks of new style choices and hopefully it sheds some of my self consciousness about what I wear.

Posted in 30 Challenges, 30 Days, Challenge Recap, Minimalism

Modest Minimalism- 6 Lessons I Learned from 30 Days of Decluttering

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I recently completed my 30 Day Minimalism Challenge.  The challenge primarily followed the recommendations from Marie Kondo specifically highlighted in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up but also took inspiration from some of the other leaders in the minimalism movement.

In particular, I recommend:

After 30 Days I will confess that I have NOT become a ‘Minimalist.’  My house still is in varying states of clutter.  I have not learned the art of packing all of my possessions into a single carry-on bag or taking beautiful Instagram photos of a single flower on an otherwise empty white counter.  But, I have experienced a true change in how I view my possessions, and more importantly what and where I place value.  I recommend this experience to anyone willing to go outside their comfort zone and truly examine their stuff.

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Here are the 6 lessons I learned from my 30 days of going minimal:

  1. Don’t Fight the Process.  I tend to approach a lot of ‘movements’ sarcastically and am inherently skeptical to practices that are deemed ‘life changing.’  In my first cursory scan of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ it was easy to question the process and I rolled my eyes at the notion of holding each of my personal items and asking if they ‘spark joy’…BUT once I really committed to the process, my mindset changed. When I stopped fighting the process, it no longer felt cumbersome, and it actually became exciting to see how easy it was to shed the ‘stuff’.
  2. Focus on Now. As I combed through my closets, drawers, kitchen, office, bookshelf, and every knickknack in my house I found myself at times talking myself out of getting rid of certain items for various reasons.  Sometimes these items were kept for sentimental reasons, but other times they were saved from the donation pile because they were things ‘I might use sometime in the future’.  But when I did a mental inventory of some of the items in question, I realized that the bulky sweater that I haven’t worn once but have moved 6 times in the last 10 years because ‘I might need it when it is cold out’ or the salad Tupperware that spills whenever I put it in my lunch box didn’t have a future in my life.  It is easy to hold on to things for future use, and sometimes there is a necessity to hold on to certain items. But by focusing on what fits now, your style now, what you need now it prioritizes what you have.
  3. Be Respectful to Other People’s Possessions.  I set this rule for myself before I began my minimalism journey.  Living with my boyfriend, means living with his stuff…And he has a lot of stuff.  As I started creating piles of my stuff to get rid of, it became VERY tempting to just add some of his stuff to the ‘donate/throw away’ piles. But this was not his journey and I knew it wasn’t fair for me to take ownership of his stuff because of my new found motivation. Our compromise became an agreement that anything I found that I deemed ‘questionable’ or ‘undesirable’ would get placed in a pile on the kitchen table. He was encouraged to sift through the pile and reclaim anything he was not ready to get rid of.  This felt like a comfortable arrangement for us. It let me declutter without throwing him into stress.  Not everyone is going to be on a minimalism journey. Not everyone wants to get rid of their stuff.
  4. Save the Memories, Not the Stuff. I am a pack rat, holding on to mementos, trinkets, knickknacks, photos.  One of the things I was most nervous about going through the sentimental stuff I have kept over the years. How do you get rid of the blurry photos from your junior high field trip or your old college notebooks with illegible scribbles or training manuals from old jobs? Well, it turns out it is pretty easy. Memories aren’t intrinsically tied to these items.
  5. Make it Personal. On the other hand, (and for the same reason I did not make decisions about my boyfriend’s stuff) only you can know whether something truly holds a value to you.  Sometimes this isn’t based on logic but love.  Sometimes you hold onto things because they just are an intangible part of you.  There are some things I will never give away. They have no monetary value but I love them… my torn and faded ‘Second City Improv’ shirt from Chicagomy old sketchbooks... my t-shirt quilt.
  6. Love People, Use Stuff… Because the other way around doesn’t work. This is a simple lesson that sometimes we just need to remember. Stuff shouldn’t trump people.

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 10/10!  This really was a life changing experience. It was enjoyable and eye opening.

Success in Completing Challenge: A-, I may not be a ‘Minimalist’ but I fully embrace the practice minimalists follow.

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge (beyond 30 days): EXTREMELY! It’s calming to go through my house and declutter. Like Lin Manuel-Miranda says a la Hamilton “this is not a moment, it’s a movement’.

 

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, 30 Days, Fitness, Getting Started, Healthy Eating

Get Fit… Or Die Trying

Well hello there.  Today marks Day 10 of a rather unsuccessful and rather unremarkable attempt to GET FIT.

This may sound very familiar, as I actually attempted a similar 30 day challenge back in December to similarly poor results.

The month of February was an attempt at redemption from my not-so-impressive flop at 30 Days of Fitness from December. The plan was simple. Eat well. Work out. Get Fit.

Here’s what I challenged myself with:

  • Eat Well– No Junk Food! No cookies, cake, candy, donuts, pastries, fried food, fast food, chips, ice cream, or soda for 30 days
  • Work Out– Work out for a minimum of 30 minutes every day! I can diversify my workouts as much as I like (swim, bike, run, weights, abs, etc.)

Now I realize I am only 10 days into this challenge (only 1/3 of the way through, by golly!) but things have not been going well.  Thanks to a pesky cold I haven’t felt much interest in eating well and certainly have not had any desire to hit the gym.

And now, with what I can only classify as deeply rooted masochistic behavior, I decided I would Swim 7 miles around Lido Key.  The swim is in April and I feel woefully out of shape so I can only hope this will serve as a strong motivating factor to get me to work out and eat well.

So let’s hope the last 20 days of this challenge go a lot better than the first 10.