let’s talk about capsule wardrobes

have you heard of this? after natalie posted hers i became kind of obsessed with the idea. i think it’s a good thing for two reasons:

1. it has totally kept me busy in between searching for a job and avoiding the yucky parts of life right now.
2. i am pretty sure hoarding tendencies run in my family.

i’ve always been drawn to the idea of minimalism. when i read about how people live minimally i think they must be really self actualized or have incredible self control – two qualities i very much admire. that being said i love to shop. like, it really makes me happy. sometimes even if i know i’ll probably never (or rarely) wear something i’m so drawn to a color or pattern that i end up buying it. and that, my friends, is how you end up on an episode of hoarders.

minimalist wardrobes aren’t a new thing. diana posted this years ago and i saved it because i was just so fascinated with the idea of having a tiny wardrobe. and even longer ago erin did a thirty items for thirty days challenge. so with these lovely ladies as inspiration i decided to take the plunge.

first things first i downloaded caroline’s capsule wardrobe planner and spent days browsing my pinterest boards to figure out what my style is. i still don’t really know…  but as i pinned away the words that came to mind were preppy, boho, pink.

my goals:

comfort: i want my clothes to fit well and be comfortable. this seems like the biggest “duh” statement but i either buy things a little too big because i don’t want them to be tight or am feeling self conscious and then end up feeling sloppy and self conscious or i hang try to make things work that aren’t quite the right size or style and end up feeling uncomfortable and self conscious.

feminine: i like a little pink or a ruffle detail here and there. i enjoy wearing skirts and dresses, and with tights. i like a some sparkle. ban.do always saves the day here.

modest: i kind of dread using that word. if anyone says “modest is the hottest” i’ll poke them in the eye. i feel most comfortable covered up. i don’t care if it’s hot or not.

structured: i really love the peasant, flowy look but it just doesn’t work for me. i promise i would wear peasant tops and chiffon skirts all day long if i could. but one thing i’ve learned about my style is that a little structure helps me feel more put together and more confident.

second, to be completely honest the amount of money i plan on spending for this fall capsule is zero dollars. some people budget a certain amount for each season and that’s completely awesome. but given my no job/potential hoarding situation i’m going to work with what i have. and i have plenty. so far i’ve taken two very large garbage bags to goodwill and di and it’s made feel kind of wasteful. why buy something if i’m just going to get rid of it in a few months? even if it is only $20? and there are several storage tubs going into the garage for future seasons or to sell. maybe for the winter i’ll budget for a pair of boots.
i lied. i do want a pair of these.

my have-it-all-together date is september 21st. totally doable. i think. it’s actually turned out to be a lot more effort than i anticipated. i feel like the end result will be a good thing but right now there are piles and boxes of clothes and empty hangers everywhere. my poor harlow is under the bed… which is probably a good idea.

have you ever done a capsule wardrobe? or a mini wardrobe? are you going to?

top image from ny mag featuring chloé pieces, hunting down sources for the other images 

home sweet california

i never feel homesick for california until i get here and then i remember why i love it.

i just want to sniff the eucalyptus trees, eat tri tip sandwiches, drive around with sand between my toes and enjoy the warm sunshine and cool breezes.

it’s all so familiar and quiet. pleasantly quiet.

my comfort zone

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis
this quote struck a chord with me when i read it last night because it feels like exactly what i’ve been doing… locking my heart up safe, avoiding all entanglements… going to work, coming home, keeping to myself. and sure some days it’s all i want to do. some days it’s all i can do and harlow will never judge me… but it isn’t really how i want to spend my life. 
everyone talks about leaving their comfort zone. yuck. my comfort zone is pretty small: a few friends, the temple, my house with harlow…. that’s pretty much it. okay, so it’s really, really small. when i think about leaving my comfort zone i immediately think of forcing myself to do all the things i know i’d hate or doing things that i know would make me feel unsafe and i think “no thanks, i’ll stay right where i am.” 
maybe i should add that the old me never really thought much about a comfort zone. almost immediately after high school i moved to the uk by myself. i didn’t know one single soul on that side of the pond but it never made me consider passing up the opportunity. this me can barely go to church unless i know i’ll have someone to sit with. the old me would sing, and act and paint without too much self consciousness. now i get nervous if people look at me or single me out because i feel like they must be able to guess my horrible secret. 
i really liked this article on leaving your comfort zone. 
“To experience life isn’t always to face your fears and risk unpleasantries. It’s also about doing all those things you’re sure you’ll enjoy.”
that sounds more doable. 
i mean i know i’d enjoy going to the temple more so i just need to do it and stop worrying about my own self doubts. i know i’d enjoy making more friendships so maybe i’ll stop avoiding everyone’s eye contact and make an effort. i know i’d like to start doing more photography again so maybe i’ll stop labeling that as something i did “before” and go buy some film. 
i know these sound so basic that it’s laughable but… it is what it is and i’m going to start somewhere.
there are two things i know i need to work on: 
1. strengthening my faith. i feel like i’ve been holding steady but not growing and i know i need to make more of an effort. heaven knows i’ve certainly got the time. 
2. asking for help when i need it. there have been so many times, especially in the past few weeks, where i desperately wanted to call a friend and admit that something was wrong, or to crash on their couch because i was so anxious or to ask for a priesthood blessing… but i didn’t. and it just added to my anxiety/depression/frustration.
i’ve also made other goals of a more cross-off-the-list variety and maybe not as grand: finish my book for book club, call my mom, buy more pepper spray, order a ballet beautiful dvd, etc.
and now a question: how to you set goals? monthly? weekly? yearly? any tips for keeping focused and accomplishing them? do you participate in the 101 in 1,001 challenge? let me know. 
photo by jennie prince

raw beauty

my friend pia posted on instagram that she would be posting a an untouched/un-photoshopped/un-cropped filtered photo of herself as part of the raw beauty talks movement. and my first thought was “of course she can do that, she’s gorgeous.”

but then this morning i read her post and read that she believes she’s ugly. what? i’ve read pia’s blog for years, followed her on instagram, and purchased her books. believe me when i tell you there is nothing ugly about her. everything is does is lovely and full of magic and tenderness.

anyway late last night as i was getting ready for bed i decided to snap one photo of myself and vowed that no matter what it looked like i’d post it on my blog.

i rarely post photos of myself and when i do i crop and filter like nobody’s buisness… and they still look, well, you’ve seen them. the anticipation of posting a “raw” photo made me feel a little scared and extremely vulnerable. when i look at my own face i see all of the flaws and imperfections that i think most woman see in themselves. but if i spend too long in front of the mirror i start looking for answers to questions that haunt me. what was it about my face that said “weak” or “easy target” or “loser” or “worthless” or whatever it was that made those men choose me. the whole “selfie” thing has made try to look past my own inner terrorist and try to see something worthwhile. so when i do post a photo of myself, even if it’s filtered to death, it’s because for a second i saw something of my old self. or maybe a new self that i liked. that probably sounds vain and however you feel about selfies, mine are just for me.

so here’s the photo. no make up, no contacts, hair a mess, a lovely new spot on my cheek:

life lately

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joie_butter/4577230272/player/728aee4041

“foggy whirlwinds may be your intimate companions. being up-in-the-air could be your customary vantage point. during your stay in this weird vacationland, please abstain from making conclusions about its implications for your value as a human being. remember these words from author terry braverman: “it is important to detach our sense of self-worth from transitional circumstances, and maintain perspective on who we are…” 

for the last several months things have been fine. really, actually fine. not great, not awful but fine. and fine has been good enough. the last few weeks, however, have felt like one step forward, 300 steps back.

but i’ve faithfully stuck to my motto of “i’m fine” because it seems like the polite thing to do. i mean, honestly shouldn’t there be a moratorium on how long you’re allowed to feel bad about something? shouldn’t i spare my friends the same old sadness? but saying “i’m fine” while there’s a dinosaur dying a slow death in the pit of your stomach, or when all you want to do is lie down on the sidewalk and just stay there, or when you have to walk two blocks in the dark and immediately burst into frightened tears is no fun.

my solution for the last few weeks has been to hide out. keeping myself inside and busy with ridiculous things like ironing my bedding, spending way too much time on pinterest, vacuuming 4 times a day (no, really) and rearranging my bookshelves obsessively isn’t really a great solution either. and i hate ironing.

my point: depression sucks. it’s frustrating and boring and lonely and scary. hopefully it’s just part of my weird “vacationland”.

good natured friends have pointed out that i have a valid reason to be depressed and okay, yes, maybe that’s true… but i don’t want to be depressed. i don’t want to spend the rest of my life ironing. and more than anything i don’t want that reason.

the other day i met a friend at the park and she very pointedly but kindly asked how i’d been and as i opened my mouth to recite “fine” i couldn’t do it. i took a breath and with a lot of embarrassment said, “i’ve been sad.” to me it sounded so lame, pathetic and weak … or like something a 5 year old would say. but i said it and then i waited for the dreaded pep talk. while there was a little pep talk what i got was kindness, listening, understanding and concern. one of the things she said was “weakness is not a sin”… as in being sad doesn’t mean i’m faithless. depression is not a sin. anxiety is not a sin.

and so that’s how i’ve been. sad. but saying it eases some of that sadness so there’s hope.

polaroid by me.

moon river

saturday morning i woke up sobbing and i have no idea why. waking up means i must have slept and that’s a good thing and i don’t remember having any upsetting dreams but there i was bawling like a baby while harlow sat on my chest and stared at me. we were both confused.

the only thought that my sad brain could focus on was that i wanted to watch breakfast at tiffany’s.

i haven’t seen it in a few years and lost most of my dvds in the move but fortunately it was on netflix and i immediately turned it on. two things – 1. moon river made me cry more  2. i do love that movie.

what are your go-to movies when you need a pick me up?

random fact: did you know you can still buy the sunglasses that audrey wore in the movie? They’re Oliver Goldsmith’s Manhattan sunglasses.

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” -Roald Dahl

photos from the greys garden collection

 In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. … not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!

Rainer Maria Rilke

what are you worth?

i am vanessa and i am not what happened to my body.

one of the things that’s been hard for me is keeping a feeling of self worth and of value. dealing with any kind of abuse tells you that you are worth nothing in the eyes of your abusers messes and changed the way you see yourself. these days my self confidence is not what it was and some days it doesn’t exist at all. in its place there are great big storm clouds of doubt and fear and shame. i remember all through middle school and high school listening to speakers and teachers go on and on about the importance of high self esteem and being self confident. i think those motivational talks were important and even worthwhile but life gets tough and can push pretty hard.

so when your self confidence or self esteem take a beating, then what?

i think it’s easy to take the best or worst experience of your life and think of yourself only in terms of that event. for me at least that’s proven true. but whether the experience is good or bad it’s probably not accurate way to measure yourself. maybe other people are better at dealing with it but for me it’s been hard. when i think about what happened i use words like evil, disgusting, degrading, shameful, and dirty and it’s hard not to apply those words to me as a person. separating myself from that event has been incredibly hard. little by little it’s sinking in that i am not the one who’s evil or disgusting. 
self esteem is a tricky thing. it’s subject to so many outside factors and really is not to be trusted (unless you’re a super pro at then please give me some pointers asap.) how others treat you, how they talk about you, a first date, a break up, your finances, a fight with a spouse or a friend, your job, an awesome hair day, a horrible hair day, how many likes you got on instagram, your family, a compliment, a criticism, the number of followers you have on twitter, your mood, a promotion, how much sleep you got, your material possessions, your health, whether or not you have a zit, an awesome blowout… any number of things affect your self confidence.

and then there’s self worth.

ages ago i read a story of a man who saved for years to give his wife a pair of diamond earrings. when she opened them she inwardly knew they couldn’t be real diamonds because of their financial situation. thinking they were fakes she wasn’t always careful with them. sometimes she’d forget where she’d taken them off or leave them near the sink or was careless with them. one evening she mentioned to her husband that she’d misplaced them and was not able to find them. the husband was frantic. he began searching everywhere for the missing earrings. as the wife watched her husband search she realized that the diamonds had been real and she joined in the search for the missing earrings.
the point is the worth of the diamonds never changed. they were always of great value. and their value did not change based on how they were treated. 
the same is true for me. and for you. your worth, your value as a person, as a child of god or of the universe, as a living, breathing human being does not change. i believe each of us was created intentionally and purposefully and have infinite worth. i guess that includes me. your self confidence might change but you’re worth as a person and a spirt does not. a friend of mine summed it up like this: “there are days when you might be treated like crap and you might feel like crap but that does not make you crap.”
what happened to me has changed me. it’s changed the way i think and the way i live… but it has not changed my worth. every single day i fight to remember that. it’s probably what i struggle with the most. my worth has not changed. i wish i could have it tattooed on the inside of my eyelids or something so i’d remember it. there are days when i’m overwhelmed by the memory of what happened and by fear of the future. but i am not what happened to me. i am not the choices made by those evil men.

so what am i? 

i am a daughter, a sister, a niece, an aunt, a granddaughter and a friend. i am funny. i am grumpy. i am hopeful. i am a worker. i am a private person. i am hopeful. i am an avid nail painter. i am a daughter of god. i am frizzy-haired. i am a writer. i am a painter. i am a spanish speaker. i am an ice cream eater. i am a photographer. i am a pizza lover. i am a terrible singer. i am stubborn. i am a road tripper. i am a peace keeper. i am a future french speaker. i am a member of the church of jesus christ of later-day saints. i am a coconut lover. i am opinionated. i am a return missionary. i am clumsy. i am reserved. i am right handed. i am a shortie. i am a dreamer. i am a traveler. i am a sunscreen wearer. i am a doodler. i am a book reader. i am a blogger. i am a california girl. i am a teacher. i am a dog person. i am near-sighted. i am a cardigan wearer. i am a giraffe lover. i am a temple goer. i am a sunshine lover. 
i am vanessa and i am not what happened to my body.
image from tiffany & co.