Is There Poetry In Clutter, Or Do I Just Wish There Was?

Today I feel like a doubtful tree - rooted, but not sure why. I feel like a too-loud whisper. I feel a lead plate resting on my chest, perfectly level. I’m dreaming of a breakthrough.

My bathroom has a huge built-in cabinet that, like every surface that’s ever been in my life, is a powerful clutter magnet.

It has two long shelves hidden by doors at the bottom, three large square cubbies in the middle, and a long shelf on top.

Before this new season of my life started, it had been fairly easy to control - a pair of glasses here and there, a few sticks of deodorant in the wrong cubby.

But once I began leaving my apartment on a regular basis, wanting to wear makeup more often, and acquiring samples and goodies from conferences and events, my things have sprawled beyond the single cubby I had allocated for them.

It’s funny, really - the more joy that has started to creep into my life, the less control I have over my bathroom, of all places. I like to think that it’s because I’m taking better care of myself.

There’s visual evidence everywhere of my makeup routine, my skin care routine, my yoga routine.

What’s that quote? Apparently Einstein said:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"

So maybe I’m onto something with this messy bathroom.

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What even is it all, and how did it get there?

Makeup. I’ve been learning more about makeup lately. I think it’s thanks to Instagram’s most dangerous feature: the “discover” page. I see women applying flawless makeup, making it look effortless with the time lapse feature on their phones.

I’m nowhere near that level, but I do like to feel like “one of the girls” every once in a while with a new product or technique.. Just today, actually, I bought a new $6 foundation brush because my old one - wait for it - was so matted together it was like a spatula. I’m sure it was at least seven years old.

I also have brushes that are at least ten years old - brushes that I took from my mom’s makeup drawer when I was in high school and was finally learning about makeup. I would dust any powder I could find on my face and feel so proud of my new womanly abilities. Since they’re powder brushes, they haven’t borne the brunt of time nearly as badly, but my husband went out of his way to remind me that it’s okay to get new brushes.

All of this to say, I use most of my makeup tools almost every day, and there’s not a lot of “special occasion” things in my makeup cabinet.

I had some Lady Gaga MAC Lipstick from (you guessed it) seven years ago, and when I wore it last week my lips started to tingle. When you’ve carried something with you for that long - between six different apartments and across the country, you can’t help but feel like you have to say a few words before you drop it into the trash. I didn’t, but I did make my husband watch me toss it.

Skin care. Man, if I could share the grief my acne has caused me over the years with you, I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t do that to you, dear reader. Plus, you probably have your own stuff going on and I don’t want to add more misery to your plate.

I’ve been trying so many things to combat the inflamed acne on my jawline. I know it’s probably hormonal so surface treatments are never going to be enough, but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

I have a little bit of everything: the ultra-strength, bleaches-your-wash-cloths acne treatments, the witch hazel and coconut oil and aloe, the all-natural products with cute labels and delicious scents.

Once I use a new product for a few weeks and don’t see vast improvements, it usually just gets added to a rotation of random products that I use on a whim. Again, not the greatest strategy. How have I gotten this far in life with such a haphazard approach to so many things?

But there’s at least something nice about knowing I can choose between harsh and gentle treatments, skip certain products when I want to, or layer on moisturizers like a skier might layer on outerwear.

I’ve reduced coffee to one day a week (at most), and have increased my water intake. I sweat profusely every day in yoga and wash my face afterwards - but nothing helps.

The only connection I’ve been able to make is that it’s always, unsurprisingly, worse the day after I’ve had beer. Blech.

I can actually live without coffee, but a good beer now and again is bae.

Yoga. There’s evidence of my yoga practice in my bathroom too, and it doesn’t always smell very nice. After class, I come home and hang up my sports bra and leggings, since those take the longest to dry and I don’t want a moldy hamper.

There’s always at least two bras hanging, and I always have to remind myself to at least collect my bras before guests arrive. Not that I’d really care, but they do smell pretty sweaty. Oh, and just to give you a complete picture: some of my sports bras are ten years old, too. JESUS DO I LIVE IN THE PAST?

Then there’s the evidence of what I do when I get home and change for yoga class - there’s at least another real bra hanging out somewhere in the bathroom, and sometimes clothes that I’m just not emotionally ready to put in the laundry yet. They live there until I realize how dumb I’m being and just wash them, because man they do smell.

And then, there’s everything else. There’s toilet paper strewn about the restroom because we don’t have a roll holder (the apartment didn’t come with one, and we never got around to buying a freestanding one).

There’s jewelry that I put on and then take off because I’m always worried it’s too much. Seriously, can you wear dangle earrings with a long necklace? Is that possible? Why does it always look so weird?

There’s a pot with three bamboo shoots in it, because the other 12 died. There’s a picture of the bar my husband and I got engaged in. There's a nice lil pink basket that I still haven't decided what to fill with.

Literally airing my dirty laundry: the "why" behind my poetic bathroom clutter photoshoot

When I got my camera a couple of months ago, I really noticed how lovely the light in my bathroom was - but was mortified at how dirty everything else was. Instead of cleaning it and putting everything in order to make it look its best, I just decided to snap photos of exactly how it was.

And I started to wonder if there’s actually any poetry in this clutter, or if it really is just the disappointing product of a messy person. I don’t love the clutter itself, but I do love using each individual product, and how it all serves me daily.

I feel like clutter has a different energy in each room of the house - in a bedroom, it destroys restfulness, in the living room it destroys peace, in the dining room it destroys community, in the kitchen it destroys function, but in the bathroom?

Does it destroy productivity or hygiene? Does it destroy flow? Or, like I'm starting to believe, is there a little bit of poetry - a little bit of a glimpse behind the scenes of your beautiful life - that lives in your bathroom? There's an art that goes in to how each person chooses to present themselves, and the bathroom is where it all happens.

I prefer that explanation.

What does your house look like, right now? Can you find poetry there?


Hop On This Train Of Thought: An Old Cross Country Shirt, A Corinthians Verse, And A Revelation

Today I feel like I woke up in zero gravity - surprised at how light I feel. I feel like my favorite color. I can smell fall everywhere and it’s beautiful. I try to imagine the crackle of leaves under my fall boots as I walk, but the city noise takes up that space in my mind. I try harder.

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Since yesterday’s post was a bit gloomy, I think it’s time to share a little revelation that I had recently that shows that I actually have grown over the past ten years.

Several weeks ago, I ended out my evening with an 8:45PM candlelit yoga class at my studio. I popped on an old shirt of mine from those cross country days, since it was neon yellow and offered good night visibility.

I got rid of most of my old race and team shirts a few years back, because I knew that the memories would always remain. Plus, I had the terrible habit of using them to work out and to sleep in, so I always associated them with those opposing energies. The fact that this neon shirt is so visible in the dark is what kept it in my drawer.

After class finished, I knelt on my mat and reached for my shirt to pop back on over my sweaty sports bra. And then I read what had always been there, printed on the back of it.

And I didn’t recognize myself in the words, that had resonated so much with me ten years back.

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.
— 1 Corinthians 9:24

It's such an intense quote to have come from the bible, and it sent my train of thought on quite the journey. First:

I was, and still am very competitive.

I’ve always been a tenaciously competitive person, and I don’t believe it’s always been a healthy thing. Because that competitiveness gives way to comparison all too quickly and then I melt into a washed-up pile of “if only” and “I wish”.

When I wore that shirt, I was training to win, to beat as many young women around me as I could. Sure, I wanted that personal record, but it was always way nicer when I got that outward recognition of placing in a race.

That’s still very much a part of me, and it shows up in weird ways. I thrive on acknowledgement and praise to the point that I’ve spent the majority of my life dedicated to seeking some form of praise.

Good grades, placing in races, getting solos in band. I always worked just hard enough to get the praise, but I’m wondering if I ever truly stretched myself outside of my comfort zone to try something new (and risk not getting praised for it).

For example, blogging - I loved doing it when I knew I was getting traffic and attention from others. But when no new attention was coming in, I found it difficult.

This blog, even, has been the bane of my existence on and off for the past two years. I am so worried that since I'm not an "expert" on anything, that I won't get any attention.

That's why this thirty day challenge of writing every day is nice - I've decided to remove the "point" of it all and just write.

Ugh, I know it’s cliche, but I’m grateful to my yoga practice for teaching me a new way to look at life.

I sat in the dark, candlelit room holding this shirt in my hands and staring at it. Trying to think why the bible, of all books, would encourage such a singleminded view of this. Aren’t we all in this together?

I wondered why I felt so averse to this strange, capitalistic verse. And I finally realized that I wasn’t sitting in that sweaty hot room to win anything. As one of my teachers put it, “we are practicing today so that we can practice tomorrow.”

Today, I live more to learn. I'm beginning to live to explore instead of to achieve. To be present instead of receiving presents, as it were.

Don’t get me wrong, when I get praised in yoga class my mind still lights up like the Fourth of July. But nowadays I feel as much of a thrill when I can nail an chaturanga or when my warrior two pose feels strong. Or when I can balance in half moon without the support of a block, or pop up into wheel pose with grace and can breathe through it.

Or, honestly, when I know intuitively that my body needs rest and I curl up in a child’s pose for the better part of class.

And why does it always have to be at the expense of others?

I also dug into the verse and realized it’s directly against something I’ve found myself saying more and more recently: that a rising tide lifts all boats.

I’ve seen the mindset that this verse presents play out in our country - people believe that they must have their way at the expense of others. It’s the idea that if there is a winner, there must certainly be a loser.

And we don’t take too kindly to losers in today’s world.

It’s a dangerous dichotomy to believe in, especially with the things that are at stake. Civil rights, freedom, safety. The right to the pursuit of happiness.

Because how can people pursue happiness when there are people so dead set on “winning” that they’re willing to shit on everyone else to get there? How can people pursue happiness when there are those actively working against their basic rights as human beings?

What I’m trying to say is that I read this verse and felt so much pushback about the individualistic piece of it. It’s not about winning, it’s about making sure we can all finish the race in the happiest, safest, and most supportive way we can.

If that means one of us crosses the finish line before the others, we should circle back and run with them as they finish. Or at least cheer them on from the sidelines.

While I'm riding this derailed train of thought, can I just ask why is self knowledge such a bad thing?

I never got praised for knowing myself. I got praise for being myself, sure, but had people explored that any further, they would see my actions coming from places like deep insecurity, protecting myself from scrutiny about my depression, or just plain people-pleasing.

I love that some schools are integrating yoga and meditation into their physical education curriculum - I sure would have benefitted more from learning those kinds of things over line dancing and how to manually score a bowling game.

There has been a certain charge in my life ever since I left my comfort zone of Indiana, and after sitting in that hot room with that old shirt in my lap, I realized what it was:

I’m actually starting to grow into my real, true self.

And I love that I’m changing right before my own eyes.

Celebrating A Decade-Versary Of Hip Junk: A Mini Memoir About An Injury That Changed My Life

Today I feel like chunky blender soup. I feel like a damp potato, but grumpier. Like I’ve been wading through bad pudding for no reason.

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Today has been a consistently low intensity day. I progressed, but not much. I had such bigger plans in store for today, September 22nd.

I had planned to go run up the nearest mountain at daybreak today. I had planned a long, heartfelt Facebook post to commemorate a huge event in my life, to tell everyone how #strong and #grateful and #blessed I am now, but instead I slept in and drove to a quiet day of work.

You see, ten years ago (a whole flippin’ decade!) I broke my femoral neck during a cross country race.

I always say that I “fractured my hip” but that’s not exactly right. I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately and, while I did have muscular hip injuries in high school, I didn’t actually break my pelvis as that description might imply.

You know how you have a ball that goes into your hip socket? And that ball is connected to your big ol’ leg bone? Yeah, I broke that little neck that keeps the ball and your leg connected on my right side. Makes me sick just thinking about it.

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

It had been a week unlike many others: I started off on Monday by slipping and falling at Sonic Drive-In, where I worked as a skating carhop. I wasn’t on skates though, so it’s less cool. They were cleaning the floors and I rounded a corner too quickly and landing square on my bum.

I’ve never been sure if that truly did anything, because of my long issues with hip injuries before this incident, but I feel like it’s an important thing to mention.

I also lost a shoe in a race and ran the last mile of it wearing only my left shoe just a week before this incident as well. Man, the writing was on the mothereffing wall, wasn't it?

Tuesday rolled around and we did a speed workout during cross country practice - on the track. I hate track running, and my body hated it that week especially. I went home and took my first ever ice bath because my hip was throbbing. 

I spent practice on Thursday running on the elliptical inside. I hated that too, so on Friday I re-joined the rest of my team for our easy pre-race day run (most likely past the Fred Meyers Piano Store - oh how we loved that route).

The day of the race, I felt something was off. I remember standing with my dearest friend at the starting line, talking through the pros and cons of dropping out five minutes before the race and letting someone else run in my varsity spot.

I imagined myself as a tough guy, so I decided to soldier on through.

That first mile was my fastest one of the season - something like six and a half minutes. I was FLYING, and I’m sure the adrenaline was helping to mask the pain that started kicking in right after that first mile mark.

I slowed down and slowly watched as all six of my varsity team mates passed me. People were cheering me on, my teammates were trying to get me to keep pace with them.

I remember the final stretch - my limping half-jog, my mom viciously yelling at people trying to make me sprint, Miss Roberts’s raspy scream of you can do it honey, we’ll get you help! And nothing else but the knowledge that something was deeply, tragically wrong.

I crossed the finish line and collapsed - it was the last unaided step I would take for three months.

The trainer at the finish line had me lay down and stretch my hip. My fucking broken hip.

“You need to stretch it out, trust me.” HOW ABOUT NO.

My dad carried me to the team tent, where my friend massaged my traumatized hip and butt, where some team parents let me use their camp chair, where I sat, covered in other people’s blankets, being brought food by all the cute cross country boys. It was kind of a happy moment.

I swore up and down to my team that I’d be back in time for the Summit Athletic Conference - I had big plans to place in the top 15 again that year, and I was so ready.

But then when it was time to pack up and go home, I tried to walk myself to the car that my parents had pulled up near the tent. I didn’t make it a single step.

It's Not Me, It's You: The Break

Since the medical details are hazy to me, I’ll spare you my conjecture. Over the next several days, I discovered that it was a partial fracture, and that I had undiagnosed osteopenia was the likely cause.

I went on birth control alongside a calcium regimen so I’d absorb it all properly (ugh, I just remembered that I’ve forgotten to take my calcium supplement...for like eight years. Sorry future Emily).

Fast forward six weeks, and I still wasn’t healed. I got an MRI and they discovered a worse break than they initially thought. Oops! Sorry! It was a full break. Let’s put a pin in it. Or two.

I needed surgery, and it sucked.

The Funny(Bone) Parts

There were a few hilarious moments throughout all of this that I look back on fondly:

  1. Trying out a wheelchair, but being taken early to lunch by people who didn’t even know me that well just so they could go to lunch early too. I was like a living hall pass.

  2. Telling my school that I needed to wear sweatpants instead of my usual dress code khakis. A person on crutches can still wear normal pants.

  3. Learning how to strap my saxophone case to my back so I could carry that and my backpack into school for early jazz band practice.

  4. Mastering (sometimes not so gracefully) snow, rain, and ice on crutches. Oh, and heels for some reason. I wore heels a couple times.

  5. Also mastering the up-and-down stairs technique, where I put both crutches in one arm and used the handrail like it was my only hope in the world. Because it was.

  6. Seeing my surgeon less than a week after my surgery, while I was practicing the aforementioned stair technique on the bleachers at a high school football game. His shocked and disappointed face will forever be ingrained in my mind.

  7. Oh, and the time I told everyone I couldn’t shave my legs because of my injury, but then having to have the nurse ask aforementioned surgeon (the father of our class valedictorian) if it was okay if I “kept my fur for the winter” or if she needed to shave it before the surgery. Jesus.

Some good freaking stories came from those three months. Plus, I’m a mean crutcher now, so I’ll always have that skill. Like riding a bike, I hear.

The Sad Parts That I Don't Like To Write Or Think About, But I'm Doing It Today Because It's Important

Here’s the part that I don’t talk about that often. During that time, I put on a brave face and told everyone that “I can either be happy, or I can be bitter, but either way I’ll still be injured so I choose to be happy”

It’s sweet, really. And I don’t think that mindset is wrong.

But the truth is that I was really, really, devastated. Suddenly, one of the biggest defining things about me had been taken away from me. I was no longer a functioning part of my team.

I no longer could do the thing that made me feel important, that made me feel like a valuable person in the world.

(A year later, when I went off to college and stopped playing my saxophone, I felt it in another way - my two defining characteristics, up to that point in my life, no longer applied to me.)

I ran cross country from 2000 - 2007. I put in thousands of miles, relied on my CC community for friendship, support, and emotional and mental wellbeing. Running made me feel special, running made me feel like a winner.

Running was the only tool I had to help me deal with my depression, and it was taken away.

And Now

I’ve recently realized that I have some alignment issues in my other hip and I can’t honestly remember if it’s an old issue or a new one. Either way, it’s a good yoga class when I give myself a little hug around my knees and it all pops back into place. Yeah, I know, I’ll get it looked at when money isn’t such an abstract idea.

But paying such close attention to my hips brings up a lot of sadness for me - I remember feeling so sad, having to put on a brave face because people loved a happy Emily, acting like it wasn’t a big deal. Feeling excluded from my friends because I didn’t get to run with them every day.

I literally feel that old ache sometimes, when I stretch my hips in a yoga class - the tears start to well up and I crumble down into child’s pose with my face to the mat so it’ll just look like I’m tired. Hot yoga is really nice because you can cry, and it’ll just look like sweat.

I have now been out of running regularly for ten years. And for all of those years, I’ve felt somewhat lost, wandering, and that I don't knowing who I really am. And I often attach that vagrant confusion to that September day a decade ago, where it all changed for me.

But the sugary sweet silver lining of it all is that I don’t think I ever really knew who I was to begin with. I don’t think that running was my ultimate calling, or really the answer for any of my ailments at this moment in my life. I do know that I’m actively pursuing that self knowledge nowadays through yoga and writing, and I have great hope for future exploration.

It will all work itself out in the end.

Is there something that your body has been holding on to? What helps you work it out?

Thirty Days & Thirty Nights Of Yoga, Savasana, And Weirdo Blog Posts

Today I feel like stale wine left on the floor after a good party. I feel like a cotton tongue. I feel a million beginnings. I fear and love the mountain ahead of me. I feel like I’m finally dipping my toe into water that’s long been cold, and that it’s time to warm it up again.

Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

Today marks the first day of my second thirty day challenge at my yoga studio.

Not that I ever stopped from the first one - in April of this year, I completed my first thirty days of in-studio yoga ever, and have continued to do yoga every damn day since then.

That puts me seven days shy of a nice, round 180 days of showing up to my mat and loving myself just a little bit each day. It sounds simple, but that self-love has been seriously lacking for years and I feel all warm and fuzzy when I think about the gift that yoga has given to me - that I’ve chosen, for six months, to give to myself every day.

If by this point, you’re wondering why can everyone else seem to do this, but I can’t? Then I invite you to take a peek at me before leaving for yoga class: I loll around on social media, about as engaged as a cardboard cutout of myself.

I toy around with the idea of cancelling my class and just practicing for fifteen minutes at home, and sometimes I even try to convince myself that I’m injured and can’t practice, even though I totally know better.

I often whine, grasping at anything that suits me as an excuse. I whine about how much work I have to do, about how dirty the apartment is, about how I just wish everything was nice and easy and tidy.

And then, I walk out the door. And I do it.

Because I know that I will never regret taking a class. I’ve literally never been upset that I took a couple hours out of my day to walk to yoga, take class, and come home and bathe my sweaty self.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not some superwoman who flies from one thing to the next with ease. I’m more like a jacked-up paper airplane that sometimes flies okay but sometimes flies straight into a wall or sometimes into someone’s eye.

But it still always manages to crash land on a yoga mat.


Five lessons from thirty days, because we all love a good list.

So I wanted to briefly share a few lessons I’ve come up with as I’ve pursued this daily habit - and lessons from my first thirty days specifically.

  1. It’s not as terrifying as it seems. You probably check Instagram every day - does that habit seem like an insurmountable mountain? If you can do something mindlessly each day, you can do something mindfully, I promise.

  2. If it’s important, or if you have accountability, or if you have something to prove to yourself once and for all godammit, you will make the time. You’ll start from a place of “yes” - knowing that you will, undoubtedly, do something today means that you’ll plan the rest of your day around it.

  3. Time slows way down, and you find yourself swimming in it. And it’s nice. I would go to a yoga class, realize that it had been 24 hours since I was in that studio last, and reflect on all I had accomplished during that time. I lived a whole life outside of the studio, and I didn’t realize it until I was there on the reg. Also, thirty days has never seemed so long in your life, I guarantee it.

  4. It gets you comfortable with being uncomfortable. And surprisingly, it wasn't just the yoga for me. I had to interact with people every day, and that was a new thing for me. I smiled and laughed and joked with people who were, and would become my friends. I haven’t made new friends in a hot minute, so that was, and still is, terrifying.

  5. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to show up. I took a lot of relaxing yin classes (deep stretches and long holds of poses) and it still counted. I layed in a hot room with a bunch of my fellow sweaty humans and still earned my daily sticker! I didn’t have to do handstands or nutso-backbends. I just had to make it to the mat.

After the challenge, I learned another huge lesson: that yoga at home isn’t the same thing as yoga at a studio where people know you. June gloom was more than just the weather for me here in LA - I was depressed, so I wouldn’t go to class, so I got more depressed, so I didn’t go to class and so on.

I know some people thrive with a home practice, but I realized how much this challenge became about the routine of leaving my apartment and seeing people who make me feel seen, safe, and happy.

And now, I'm kicking it up TWO WHOLE NOTCHES for my second thirty day challenge.

I’m participating in Modo’s Speak Your Peace challenge, which is a combo of thrity days of yoga + 10 minutes of savasana every day, starting today.

On top of that, I’ve decided to do something else that I have never done in my life: I’m going to write daily. I figured that if my schedule opened up for yoga, it will open up for writing as well.

Today, for example, I ended up having to write after a work event that ran late. There was even wine you guys, and I only had one glass. Why? I knew I had to write. And I wanted to write. And too much wine makes me a screen zombie with corpsey sausage fingers.

So each day, I will practice at my yoga studio, take a ten minute savasana, and write for an hour.

Can I just tell you how terrified I am? If this was a year ago, I would say no way, rosé, because I had never created a habit successfully and the crash-and-burn failure hurts like hell. But after the initial, indescribably supportive thirty day challenge was a smash hit for me, I have more confidence in myself than ever before.

I know that I have never regretted going to yoga, and that I will never regret taking time to write. I know how much the yoga challenge has changed my life, and I’m ready to explore what a writing challenge can do for my life.

Also, as a final note in case you still doubt yourself: on the first day of my first thirty day challenge, I was so hungover from celebrating the kickoff of the challenge that I almost didn’t make it to the last class of the day.

Picture this: me shuffling the whole eight minute walk to the studio, 5:00PM, eyes down because I couldn’t look up without vomiting, tears in my eyes from shame and maybe still wine was leaking out of me, irreparable cotton mouth.

I spent most of the class in savasana, but I managed to keep my cookies the whole fucking time.

If I can make it to the studio in that shape, then that means we as a species can do anything. So now you tell me - what is it that you’d like to dive into, and how can I cheer you on?

From Bland to Brand New: My Wardrobe Overhaul with ThredUp

Dressing myself lately has been a bit like eating nothing but oatmeal: utilitarian, and not fun.

Most of my t-shirts and dresses have holes and/or stains on them - if it's not a coffee stain, it's a wine stain. My last big clothing purchase, a versalette, has an oil stain from cooking and I recently discovered an irreparable hole on the front of it.

To say I've been feeling shabby is an understatement.

But first, a reality check:

The very fact that I have a wardrobe to complain about is a first world problem. Hashtags and snark aside, this privilege really is something to keep in mind.

I'm going to explore this more in a future post, but this year I'm working on sourcing my purchases more responsibly and intentionally. Ethical brands are at the top of my list, but since our budget is definitely tight, I'm also seeking quality secondhand items whenever I can.

My intentional secondhand wardrobe overhaul

So since my wardrobe has been downright depressing, I've been wanting to reinvigorate it for a few years.

Even during my most minimalist downsizing moments, I felt my wardrobe was not reflective of who I was. I primarily wore cheap, bland clothing that did not make me feel good.

I sought out colorful clothing in thrift shops, but never found the quality or (quite honestly) the quantity that I wanted in order to re-do my wardrobe. Enter: ThredUp.

My Thredup Haul

Here it is! The results of my first experience with ThredUp. It did not disappoint.

I was able to get 13 items for under $100 after using their new year's 40% discount code.

It's pretty easy to find a discount code for this site when you're shopping, so it's realistic to get a lot of great pieces for under $15 a piece. Plus, they were all in great condition when they arrived.

How cool is that tassle skirt? And the sequin pants? And the pleather jacket? Seeing these items in my closet and dresser makes me so happy. Like, prance-around-the-house happy.

If you're in the market for some new clothes, without wanting to directly contribute to the production of new mass-market clothes, I totally say give ThredUp a shot.

While this post is not sponsored in any way, I still want to share the referral link they sent me - you get $10, and I get $10. It's a sweet situation!

It's important to feel great in your clothes

For those of us privileged enough to have a wardrobe of clothes to choose from, it does make a huge difference to feel good in what you're wearing.

I feel more confident and present in social situations. Plus, when I put on those floral pants in the morning I can't help but skip around a little bit. Is it just me, or does something like a bright & cheerful outfit give you more energy too?

What are you planning next for your wardrobe?

My Intentions for 2017

I took my time choosing my words this year, because I feel a very different energy than last year. I'm ready to put myself out into the world!

Last year was focused on finding some peace where I was at, and this year is going to be about expanding my world, physically, mentally and emotionally. Without further ado, here are my guiding words and intentions for 2017:

I want to explore more.

Last year was pretty sedentary in many ways, which lead to a bit of stagnation. I ran out of steam easily because I wasn't exposing myself to new and exciting people, places or things.

This year, I want to focus on exploring. Obviously, this means travelling. But in addition, I want to start trying some new things to determine just what it is that I want my next step in life to be. I joined the yoga studio last year, and through that exploration I've realized that I don't feel the urge to become a yoga teacher quite yet (which surprised me!)

So here's to self-exploration alongside world-exploration, and to all of the surprises that will come along with it.

I want to create more.

Writing is at the top of this list, but I want to inject more creativity into my day-to-day life. I'm looking to spruce up my wardrobe and my home with intentional purchases that bring me life! I've been rocking dark colors for a while now, and I think it's time to get back to some of that pink I used to wear head to toe.

There's something about the changing of a year that really lights my fire, so I'm excited about what creative projects will bring me this year.

It's time to radiate.

This one was the first intention to come to my list. I've been a shrinking violet for years, and now it's time for me to bloom like never before.

While last year I focused on self-love and self-care, this year is all about self-confidence. I'm looking to share more openly with others, to dress myself boldly and to share compassion and happiness wherever there is doubt or crushing gossip.

If I'm expanding my horizons, I want to help others expand theirs too. I'll still be kind and gentle, but it's time to shine and take up space in this world.

Why these words spoke to me

Now, more than ever, creating and exploring are essential to a progressive life. In light of all the nasty politics (ahem, Trump) we're seeing censorship, xenophobia and a distinct lack of empathy.

I want to break down any borders I've put up, crack open my worldview, and work on learning (and unlearning) things in order to become a more empathetic and informed person.

In doing so, I hope to radiate that to others who may be feeling dejected about the election. It's not the time to shrink back into our homes and say "what happens, happens." This is the time to explore and find for yourself what you can contribute to a hurting society.

Happy 2017, friends.

Reflecting on my 2016 Intentions

Last year, I came up with three guiding words to lead me through 2016. It was based on an idea I read in a Chris Brogan post, which spoke to me because I've always wanted something a little more flexible than the typical New Year's Resolution.

My words for last year were nourish, rhythm and balance. I wrote about why I chose each word on my old blog here, and I'm grateful to my past self for allowing room to change and to grow into the words.

Here's what I've learned with each of these words in mind this year.

Nourish

I originally intended this word to support my relationships, but I expanded the meaning to support my physical health as well. I've worked hard to learn new recipes and to start educating myself even more about how to care for my body.

 Of the three words, this one came up most often as a necessity for me this year.  

Rhythm

This year was a year of disruptions, especially in the financial aspect of our life. It was difficult to anchor ourselves with some common thread, but my husband and I started to get into a rhythm in the last three months of the year.

We've both found that working out at least once every day has helped to build a foundation for our days, and I've learned that it's also one of the most difficult things to make time for.

Balance

This is a difficult word to reflect on during the holiday season, but I'm proud of what I did this year to work on my balance in all areas of my life. It all stems from one event: I joined a yoga studio.

Literally, my balance has improved. But there's so much more: now that I have the studio, I have a life outside of working from home. I just started working at the front desk a couple of months ago, and it's paying off in friendships and a new sense of personal agency.

It was a big step for me to get outside of my comfort zone, but I already feel that it's the beginning of something profound and revolutionary in my life.

Words instead of resolutions

I'm so glad that I chose words instead of making hard-and-fast resolutions for 2016, because I can't look at any of these and say that "I failed." What I can say is that I can improve in each of these areas, and that 2016 taught me how how to work with myself in order to do so.

And if there's anything I've learned this year it's that it's a lot nicer when you're kind to yourself.

I'm planning a coffee date with myself this weekend to reflect and prepare my 2017 intentions, and I hope you get a few moments to do the same.

How did your intentions for 2016 go? Did you learn anything unexpected about yourself this year?

An Eerie Weekend at Big Bear

I started my writing hiatus in the most ironic way possible: with a writer’s weekend at a cabin in Big Bear City. I joined five other lovely lady writers (four of whom I did not know) in a self-imposed retreat for 24 hours.

I was able to hammer out a rough draft of a short story, inspired by the wilderness and an eerie story my friend shared about a hiker in New York. I wish we could have stayed longer; the mile-high mountain air mixed with the smell of fresh coffee every couple of hours was intoxicating.

We ended the day of writing with a family dinner and conversations about our writing projects. Can I say again how magical it was?

But it was also the perfect setup for a horror movie, a fact that we consistently mentioned throughout the day. And it did not disappoint. 

Sometime after midnight, while we were drinking festive beer by the fireplace and watching old episodes of Who's Afraid of the dark, we heard a THUMP. Our eyes darted toward the front door behind us. Some of us swore we saw it move.

We pretended that it was nothing more than the heat from the fire and the chill of the outdoors causing something to settle in the woodwork, but everyone was a little more vigilant after hearing it.

The next day, as we were wandering the yard looking for giant pine cones, we noticed something else ominous: a pile of bricks that had been neatly stacked the night before was now strewn about the lawn.

As we contemplated how this could have happened on the fenced-in property without us hearing, a man crossed the street to chat with us.

"You ladies renting this place?"

We told him yes, and that we were heading back home in an hour or so. He explained that he just came over to check on the property since, get this, the front windows had been shot out two separate times in the past month.

He clarified by adding that it was just some teenage vandals with airsoft guns. Oh, good. Just airsoft guns...

As the afternoon drew to a close, we started to say our goodbyes. One of my new friends took her sweet dog to the side yard to do his business, and then called us over.

"Was this here when we arrived yesterday?"

The name "Elie" was outlined in small rocks near the garage. It was as if we had just failed to notice the creepiness that surrounded us that weekend.

Whether it we were haunted, stalked, or just wrapped up in a series of coincidences, it still ended up being a safe, beautiful and restful weekend.

What do you think—were we just being paranoid or was there more at work in that cabin than just six writers?