Beach Packing List

Ukulele

Bathing suits

Gouache, brushes, paper, palette. Pencils, notebook

Writing journal, bullet journal

Toothbrush, tooth powder. Hair brush, banana clip, conditioner, henna (?). Face mask, miracle grains, cleansing oil, Beauty Balm.

Leftover wine from birthday party.

Dirty laundry

Phone charger, Kindle and Kindle charger, laptop and cables

Full Bloom: The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keefe

Yoga mat, Thai foot massage stick

A History of God

Sewing machine, projects, notions

Sense of belonging, carried over from the last 2 weeks of happy occasions surrounded by friends, the last 6 months-33 years of self work,  and important planetary influences

Self-compassion, and the book Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff

Sunscreen, big hat

Running shoes, ambition

Various oracular tools (Tarot cards, Druid animal oracle)

Spirit of adventure

On Beauty Pt. 2

On Beauty Pt. 2

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this blog should be. Mercury has been in retrograde, which for me is a very powerful time of revisiting and revising ideas and projects, and it this particular project has been swirling around in my mind. Maybe I got caught up in wanting to draw readers in with hooks like numbered lists and expert advice, but that’s not really my style. I’m not an expert on anything, really, just a soul in a body moving through this problematic world, learning what works and doesn’t work for me and my loved ones, hopefully gaining insight that can one day be described as “wisdom.” With that in mind, I thought I would just share some thoughts and feelings I have about beauty and acceptance and being a fucking radical badass woman, which is basically my life goal.

My friend and colleague recently described herself as a “recovering perfectionist.” I love this phrase. It brings to mind addiction and how recovery is actually a lifetime of work and maintenance. I have been talking about this a lot with my friends in terms of chronic anxiety and depression that so many of us deal with, about how depression is a disease which, like diabetes, requires constant attention and care. I am definitely a perfectionist (it goes along with the anxiety and depression, for sure). It’s the “not good enough” thing I’ve mentioned before. It’s the “but my life isn’t bad enough to even feel this way” thing. It’s the whole concept of “enough” and self-worth and living up to standards that are unattainable because they are constructed by society or the poor, fragile ego, to keep us down.

For me, this manifests most obviously as the “not pretty enough” construct. At some point in my life (probably from a very young age–I mean, I had ~75 Barbies!), bought into the unrealistic, oppressive standards of beauty, especially what “men” find “attractive” (using quotes here because I believe that real live men find all kinds of people beautiful, and because I have problems with the word “attractive”). These standards are forced on our culture by an oppressive, restrictive patriarchal system that actually encourages and commodifies our feelings of worthlessness. The system wants us to waste time and energy feeling shitty so that we’ll waste more time and energy and especially money on trying to correct our perceived flaws by primping and exercising and buying diet books and viewing ourselves as projects, not people. Imagine what we women (and men) could accomplish if we accepted ourselves as beautiful, flawed, dynamic creatures and focused our energy and resources on creating a better world, for instance, or upending the status quo!

By buying into this garbage, I have turned myself into a work-in-progress that will never meet accepted American cultural standards of beauty. Most of us won’t. They are unhealthy, unrealistic, and extremely limiting ideals. How much energy have I wasted on feeling ugly and unlovable because I’m bloated or I have a soft and delicate (read: weak) jawline, or I’m breaking out or my jeans are uncomfortably tight? How often do I feel bad about my neck, or get bummed out because I don’t look like all the women on American TV (thin, gorgeous, great damn hair, makeup on even in bed)? How much time have I spent obsessing about my blackheads, imperceptible to anyone but me as I get up really close to the mirror and enter a fugue state wherein I attempt to extract them all with my fingernails (which by the way, not great for either skin or posture)? So. Much. Time.

Another question, then: What could I accomplish if this energy was rerouted into feeling fucking fantastic? Beautiful, powerful, amazing? Helping others? Writing my children’s book? Doing yoga? Think of the possibilities!

Mostly, I’d like to not think about “being pretty” anymore. I’d like to be non-obsessive about my looks. I’d love to stop worrying over whether men find me attractive.

Now, let me unpack my baggage about the word “attractive,” because I have a lot of issues around this word. I am a very verbal person and the meaning of words is important to me. This one totally bums me out. The word “attractive” has become associated (in my mind, at least) with purely visual attraction. It is melded inextricably with the above-stated beauty standards. It brings to mine commodification, an “attractive deal,” a selling-point.  It makes my anxiety bust out full force. Am I attractive? I’m not attractive! No one is attracted to me! Bahhhhhhhh! How can I be more attractive?!?! Well…fuck that.

How about this: I want to be “magnetic.” I want people to be drawn to me because of my spirit, talent, kindness, warmth, personality. If that sounds like a brag, then…I’m okay with that. I think about my incredible coven of women-friends, who are all magical, magnetic humans. I want to be around them all the time because of attributes like those, because they are wise, friendly, positive, gifted, radiant beings. They are all gorgeous to me, and almost none of them fit the typical standard of beauty. I want to be that. I probably am that, since they want to hang out with me, too, but I want to believe that about myself.

I have come to an understanding that the path to self-love is through self-acceptance. I am throwing off the burden of being “attractive” and allowing myself to just BE. How radical is that?! I will not conform! I will just BE. A human person with thoughts and feelings and a body that does wonderful things for me, living in this tough, beautiful world, collecting insights that might one day be called wisdom.

That’s all. <3

4 Ways To Transition Into Fall

It’s here! Finally! Fall is in the air!

Fall is a lovely time of year. It’s a time of resetting, releasing, preparing for winter. One can start to wind down and transition into the restful, fallow months ahead. I like to take this time to reset.

One aspect of my Full Witch resolution is that I’m getting more in touch with nature, including the seasons and their shifting. Here are 4 ways I’m making the transition into Fall this year.

Inspiration for my Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Inspiration for my Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Changing MY Clothes

I’m doing my second Fall Capsule Wardrobe.  I started transitioning from summer to fall clothes in September and am now totally into my fall wardrobe. There’s something really nice about putting away my hot weather clothes and getting out my cooler weather, nicer clothes. It’s a seasonal costume change! I really like all my shoes, hats, jackets and scarves.  I love that the colors in my wardrobe are in tune with the season, with rust, mustard, whiskey and deep red. Everything gets a little cozier, warmer, richer. I have several items that I’ve made, too, which feel great to wear. (More info on my Capsule coming soon! Here’s my Fall Wardrobe Architect board, where I save ideas about color, shape and vibe.)

MOdifying MY Diet

Capsule wardrobe is a sort of external reset, but there are internal resets I practice as well. This is the second year that I’ve done an Ayurvedic  Fall Cleanse as outlined here. The idea of this cleanse is to reset one’s digestive system as well as detoxifying the body. It is a nice way to demarcate the seasonal change, to “release” toxins and unhealthy habits we may have acquired over the summer, and to prepare the body for shifts in weather and tone that come with each new season. It’s important to undertake this process in the spirit of self-care rather than self-denial. It requires lots of rest and awareness of both the physical and emotional states. I have to say, I felt like garbage for the first few days this time, but am feeling lighter and cleaner as I am finishing up the 7 days.

October is also the month when I revisit Cycle 1 of the Virgin Diet. This is the 21-day period when I have to be really strict about eliminating eggs, soy, dairy, gluten, corn, peanuts and sugar. I’ll admit that I’ve never successfully eliminated sugar, but I have drastically reduced it during this period. After the 21 days, I retest eggs, gluten, soy and dairy to see if I have built more of a tolerance for them. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can handle some eggs, since I find this the most difficult thing to eliminate. It’s really hard to find gluten free baked goods that don’t use eggs, and I really love a poached egg in ramen or on top of basically anything, every now and then.

Other aspects of the Virgin Diet that I’m happy to reinstitute, as I’ve fallen away from them in the past few months, include when and how to eat. Meals are spaced in a way that maximizes digestion and nutrient absorption: eat a meal every 4-6 hours, don’t eat 3 hours before bed, and eat the proper ratio of healthy fat, lean protein, whole grain, low starch vegetables  and carbs, low glycemic fruits, and nuts. When I follow these guidelines, I truly feel more satiated and have more energy. I’m excited to feel that way again.

These are photos from my recent trip to Iceland!

These are photos from my recent trip to Iceland!

CONNECTING WITH NATURE

Last month I went to Iceland (!) and had my mind blown by how gorgeous the landscape is there. My friends and I drove around looking at the scenery, chasing rainbows and stopping to hike, jump in hot springs (in the wind and rain!) and gaze at waterfalls. I took a ton of pictures which I’m still combing through, but you can see above how beautiful the country is. I felt so intensely the pull to spend more time in nature, so I’m committed to doing more hiking, walking and even sitting outside this fall.

I LOVE being outdoors, but in the summer it is too damn hot. Fall is, of course, the best season for snuggling up to nature. Last weekend I went to Asheville and did some hiking and apple-picking. It was autumnal AF. Witnessing the beauty of the changing seasons, I feel a change in myself. We are connected to the world around us, which is also the world within us. We cannot deny our naturalness. To notice what’s happening to the leaves is to notice what’s happening in the endless cycle of life of which we are a part. (I have “Colors of the Wind” stuck in my head right now.)

USING MY HANDS

I love knitting and working with cold-weather fabrics such as flannel and wool. Working with my hands is very grounding and it feels good to create things I will wear as it cools down. I also start cooking more, or at least I have done so in the past. I’ll break out the crock pot and simmer some stews to eat over a couple of days or freeze for later. These activities remind me of the past, of my predecessors who quilted, crocheted, gardened and pickled. It feels good to have a connection to my grandmothers; it makes me feel rooted.

 

Fall is a time of rooting. We cozy up, settle in. We spend time with family over the holidays and celebrate community with harvest festivals and explore society with elections. We scare ourselves with horror movies and comfort ourselves with snuggles, warm foods and thick blankets. We join with other fans as we all watch the same shows and sports games. There are so many ways we come together as a community in the fall. How do you wind down, reset or root in the Fall?

3 Habits of Highly Successful Witches

Maybe you’re wondering how to be a badass, powerful, healthy, self-loving goddess-witch. Well my friends, here are a few good ways to start.

Goddess painting by Emily Balivet on Etsy

Goddess painting by Emily Balivet on Etsy

Believe in your power

First, know that you already are a Goddess. You are also a God! You are Everything. You are made of star-stuff. You are a tiny piece of this vast universe. You are connected to every other living, breathing being on this planet, created from the same atoms that make up every shining crystal, flowing river, and hunk of land. You are POWERFUL, witch.

Your power is in your connection, in knowing that you are One with the world around you. Your power is your compassion, your voice, your heart. Your power is in your fingertips, creating meals and scarves and websites. Your power is in your hugs, in your laughter, your rage, your tears. Your decisions are powerful, every one of them. They have repercussions far beyond the moment you make them. You speak with your choices. You can change yourself, if you want to. You can love yourself. You need to.

Nourish yourSelf

Eat good food. I mean healthy, organic, whole foods, but also delicious food. Eat food with family and friends. Feed yourself lovingly prepared, healthful foods that make you om nom nom and mmmmmmmm and smile. Drink lots of clean, fresh, room temperature water.

Take nature baths. Go outside and play! Hike, run, walk, roll around in the green grass. Swim! Sleep. Sit. Chill. Dig in the dirt. Gaze at the stars.

Take water baths. Soak in a hot tub with some sea salt and essential oils, rose petals and honey. Wash your face every night (EVERY NIGHT) and follow with a moisturizer or oil. Keep synthetics and petrochemicals out of your skin- and hair-care. Wear sunscreen and hats. Try this DiY Steam Facial for an at-home spa day, or Miracle Grains for a gently exfoliating wash or mask.

Move your body. Practice yoga. Dance around the kitchen in your underwear (everybody does that, right?).

Most of all, gift yourself the time to rest and recharge, however you choose to do it.

Keep a written record

There are many ways to keep records. The best ones are reminders and guides. Here are some that I find useful:

Spellbook: for your best affirmations, recipes and yes, magic spells.

Food Journal: for when you’re feeling crappy and want to figure out why. Alternatively, for when you’re feeling great and want to remember why. Very useful in becoming aware of patterns, making connections, and holding one’s self accountable.

Date Book/ Day Planner: I keep a Bullet Journal for this, but any day planner works. I use mine for daily tasks and to-do lists, but also quotes, ideas, events, appointments, etc. I have been saving my detailed planners for a decade, and I love that I can look back and recall the places I visited on my post-college trip to Ireland, the friends I had dinner with 8 years ago (who were those people? Who was I?) and what I was doing a last September. Keeping a day planner helps keep me organized but it also preserves memories.

Diary: my guides have been pushing me towards a daily journaling practice, and I can see why. Journaling is a very useful psychological tool. Like a food journal, it can lead you to discoveries about your patterns. It can help to reveal deep inner thought processes, the stories we tell ourselves, hidden mysteries and great ideas. My goal is to get back into the habit of writing “morning pages,” a method taught in the mind-blowing, life-changing book The Artist’s Way. Also helpful for writing your future memoirs.

New Moon Birthday Resolution

Going Full Witch, Part 2

Oh hi there! It’s my birthday (okay, it was yesterday)! It’s also time for the New Moon in Virgo. Coincidence? I think not. This is the perfect time to set a Birthday Resolution!

I’m way into birthdays, especially my own. I love getting together with my loved ones, throwing parties, and presents. I think of my birthday each year as a time to clear out the old and set intentions for the next year of my life. Rather than setting really specific, action-oriented goals like I might do with a New Year’s Resolution, I like to choose a theme that can motivate and guide me through the year. I usually spend several months thinking and feeling into what this theme will be. This year, though, I feel that the best choice is to extend my theme from last year, developing it into specific areas.

So for my 33rd year on this earth, here’s what I’m thinking.

Resolution Theme: Full Witch, Pt. 2

Purpose

To continue what I started last year by furthering my exploration of all things feminist, witchy, wild, and divine

To strengthen my commitment to ritual and practice

To deepen my understanding and knowledge of astrology, healing modalities, tarot and yoga

To share what I am learning 

How

Develop rituals for special times, especially New and Full Moons.

Asana and chanting every day! (My astrologer recently told me I have a lot of power with chanting and ritual, so I’m going to take advantage of that and build some serious magic.)

Spend more time studying, specifically about astrology, healing and tarot, and put my knowledge into action.

Continue to write about this process, and explore spiritual communities for motivation and support.

New Moon Birthday Resolutions on Whisper & Howl

Now, since tonight is the New Moon in Virgo, I’m going to take advantage of this special time by performing a ritual to establish my goals. I’ve been reading several works by astrologer Jan Spiller, including one called New Moon Astrology. Spiller posits that one can use the energy of each New Moon to make “wishes” to assist you on the transformative journey of this life. It’s an interesting book filled with sample wishes based on your North Node (a hugely important astrological concept that signifies your dharma, basically laying out what you will be working on in this life) and particular New Moons. There’s also a section that lists common themes such as relationships and health, with many examples.

The idea is that you make a list of carefully crafted “wishes” within 8 hours of the exact time of the New Moon, and revisit them each day until they come true. I mean, it can’t hurt, right? At the very least, it will help to clarify your goals and establish them in your mind. In the spirit of Going Full Witch, here are a few of my New Moon Birthday Wishes:

  • “I want to easily find myself joyfully practicing asana each day.”
  • “I want to easily find myself joyfully chanting each day.”
  • “I want to attract the people who will be my guides, mentors and spiritual companions.”

I have more wishes, of course. They’re more personal, but I’m sure I’ll share them in time. For now, though, I’m excited to start this new year of witchery. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Love,

Jillian

 

 

 

Austerity Adventures: June and July 2016

Bwahahaha, Or “Budget? What Budget?”

Budget? What Budget? | Austerity Adventure on Whisper & Howl blog #budget #saving #goals

Happy Fire Monkey Year! Yes, it’s late. The Chinese New Year is during the winter. And no, I don’t know anything about the Chinese astrological system, but I’ll take any explanation (excuse?) for why things are the way they are and this year, my friends, money stuff is hard. Apparently we’re in the year of the Fire Monkey (in Chinese astrology). My acupuncturist, the wonderful Colleen Cole, told me that during fire monkey times, money just flies away. So I’d like to start by placing all blame for my spending last month squarely on the shoulders of the Fire Monkey.

June was fine. I worked way too much and didn’t sew at all. I caught a virus and laid low for a week. I managed to squirrel away some money for my new increased rent and moving expenses. Nothing really important happened. I did a totally okay job with budgeting.

July, though.

It got hot. Fiery, even.

I didn’t even bother with a budget. I just re-prioritized all of my monetary goals and devoted the majority of my savings to Sky House. With all the turmoil in my life, I decided that what I most need is a tranquil oasis of a home. I bought everything I envisioned (on sale! second-hand!)for my new calm island, and I have NO REGRETS. I didn’t use my credit card. I didn’t go overboard with things I didn’t need or that didn’t fit my vision. I scoured craigslist and frequented thrift stores and discount outlets, and I paid all the bills. I am very happy with the results, and not at all ashamed that I threw my savings goal out the window. I needed this.

So, thank you to the Fire Monkey for giving me the nudge in the direction of spending.

Now, I only need to file my back taxes, get a reimbursement from my eye doctor, get some extra babysitting and shop hours, and I’ll be all set to confidently pursue those old goals: building emergency fund to $1000, paying off AYTT and my credit card, and on to the car payment! Oh, and spending a week in Iceland without using the card. Mini-goal. Easy peasey. Oof.

On Moving Pt. 2

There are 2 Big Deals in my life this week:

  1. I have a summer flu. 
  2.  My house is a wreck. 

These things are not compatible. I am home from work for the 3rd day this week, surrounded by boxes both half-full and empty, and all I can do is watch TV, read and recover. This is HARD. All I want to do is go to work at my very fun job (I missed field day!), arrange my furniture, organize my shit and hang my art. I am sick, bored and frustrated. Woe is me. I was supposed to go to the beach this weekend but have to stay home. Maybe I can get some stuff done this weekend? Anyway, here’s some stuff about me and my house. 

Problem: I bought a big hulking piece of furniture based on a dream, and in reality found it to be impractical. It’s just too damn big. My house is small. It was an impulse buy. I was coming down with the flu when I bought it. I have regrets. Now I need to get it out of my house ASAP so…Craigslist? Right? We’ll see how that goes. Until I get rid of it, I can’t really arrange my living room. I can’t finish unpacking until everything is arranged.

Success: I got a new couch! This after my old couch, which we hauled here from my former residence, wouldn’t fit in my narrow doorway. Oh we tried. We tried hard. After a half-hour of trying to configure it creatively through the door, we gave up and I trucked it over to the thrift store. It was actually kind of liberating. I wasn’t in love with that couch and it would have been huge in my space. I need small, light furniture in here. So I went back to the thrift store with some friends and found this very comfortable, mustard green couch. It’s not an ideal color but I looked up some palettes incorporating the color and I can definitely worth it. Devo LOVES it. She’s barely dismounted since it was delivered. Bonus: it was only $80. 

mustard green palette

Problem: I have an enormous pile of laundry and no washer/dryer. My plan is to do my laundry at my sisters’ house until I can afford to buy a w/d (there is a hookup here) but I moved in with a pile and haven’t had a chance to get over there so…it grows. It’s taking over. I might disappear under it.

Success: My bathroom looks  great. I decided to go for it and got the microfiber shower curtain. Whoa, I know. The bathroom is one of two rooms that are put together. It was my top priority. The other room that looks great is my front porch. It has a ceiling fan! My plants are very happy out there.

Problem: There’s an ant infestation in my house. I’m using Terro. They’re in my bed. I hate it.

Success: I painted an old cabinet I have with black chalkboard paint and now it looks very cool.

Problem: The blinds in my bedroom broke and it’s seriously impeding my nudity, which is one of my favorite things about living alone. Time to get curtains.

Success: S hooks are very handy. I’m using them in the pantry to hang pots and in the closet to hang bags. There are a lot of wire shelving units in this house.

Problem: My shower. The tub is old fiberglass, not really big enough to comfortably take a bath, chipped and I swear it’s kind of squishy like there’s water damage underneath it. I tried to tell the landlord but he blew off the water damage theory. My dream of dreams is that I am correct and they will replace the tub. It doesn’t drain well so that I am standing in ankle-deep water throughout my shower. The faucet drips, which is not cool for the environment or my water bill. Boos all around.

Success: I replaced the shower head immediately. Nothing like a great shower head.

Problem: I really want some banana pudding, but don’t eat most of the ingredients. Also too sick to go get some.

Success: Can’t think of anything else. Ugh. Oh wait! I could make a banana pudding-ish smoothie?! That would be a success. Nailing it.

 

 

On Moving

I am so stressed out about moving.

Moving is overwhelming. I remember when I moved away from Bloomington, thinking I didn’t have much stuff and could put off packing, it wouldn’t take long. I actually had a ton of stuff and packing took forever. This time I am determined not to stay up until all hours the night before my move, so I’ve already started packing. I really don’t have that much stuff now. I have more fabric than anything else. I have gotten rid of so many clothes that my closet is manageable. I still have a lot of shoes but so, so many fewer than 3 years ago in Indiana. 2.5 shelves of books, a few boxes of kitchen items, 2 boxes of art supplies. I have lots of art to transport and one big box just of blankets (I really love blankets). It’s not that bad. It’s still overwhelming though, or is it just whelming? Is it just exactly the amount of whelm that it should be? What does that even mean?

I’m stressed about packing because it’s a lot of work, it’s chaotic, and it reveals all the literal dust bunnies that have accumulated in my life. Although, it’s a good opportunity to throw shit away (or donate it. I tried to sell some stuff but that requires a lot more energy than I can muster.). Because there is a lot of work required to pack and because I have things all over this small house, I feel guilty when I’m not packing. Because I am so stressed out, I’m taking a lot of breaks to rest and to feel guilty about not packing.

It’s not just the physical acts of moving that are stressing me out. There are crazy questions storming my head all the time. What if I actually hate my new place? I was desperate to find a place when I went to see it, and it was in really bad shape. The woman who was living there had truly disgusting house-keeping habits and had a stripper pole in the living room (to be fair, she was a topless dancer and kudos to her for the professional development) and a serious Halloween theme going on. I’m pretty sure I saw the beauty of the house behind the piles of clothing and weird, giant teddy bear in the bedroom, but what if I was blinded by desperation?! I can’t remember the exact floor plan so all my preliminary mental decorating could be setting me up for a huge disappointment.

Also, what if I become a total hermit? I really enjoyed living alone for the few months I did it in Bloomington, and I’ve been dying to live alone again for years. My tendency towards staying home and reading or sewing or watching Netflix every evening, when there is absolutely no one there to talk to, could set me up for an early spinsterhood (I think, crazily). What if I fall into a terrible pattern of going to work, going home, turning the TV on, and slowly dying—alone?!

What if I hate living in Durham?!

What if the light is bad and all my houseplants die?!

What if I suddenly suck at decorating and my house is ugly?!

What if anything at all comes up and I can’t afford my new, higher rent?!

What if it’s haunted by a malicious spirit who resents my living in their corporeal home?!

WHAT?! WHAT IF?!! WHAAAAAAAA?!!!

I think I’m stressing out my cat.

Change is hard. More than one change at a time is really hard. There are at least 3 big changes I can think of in my life right now. A bunch of planets are in retrograde. I’m on my damn period.

It’s all going to be okay.

Unless there’s a ghost.

Austerity Adventures: May 2016

In which mistakes caught up to me, and I was not at all austere

This cat is totally judging me. | Adventures in Austerity: May 2016 | Whisper & Howl

This cat is totally judging me.

May, in financial terms, was a bit of a disaster.

I was riding high from April, in which I somehow managed to meet my savings goal, when I got quite a shock: $1000 had disappeared from my bank accounts. That was all $860 of my hard-won Emergency Savings, and $140 from my checking account. Shit, meet fan.

What had happened was: I found a cute little duplex in Durham, where I work, to move into in July. I applied, my application was accepted and I had 36 hours to pay the security deposit. I went to my online banking site and WHAT THE F ALL MY MONEY WAS GONE. How, you may (and I did) ask, could this happen?

Well, Apparently I did not file my state taxes in 2010 (and 2011), and the NC Department of Revenue wanted $1100, and my bank gave it all to them without warning me. Surprise! I may have cried. Fortunately I had about $400 in checks in my wallet so I was okay, and I took a cash advance on my credit card, which is crazy. Several dear friends and family members offered to loan me the money but because of timing, I did the cash advance. I will be paying a stupid interest rate on that for a while, but I got the house! Moral of story: always file your taxes. It’s likely that I will get most of the money back, but that requires some check-writing, faxing and waiting, so…it will be a nice bonus whenever it comes back to me.

On top of this craziness, I failed at keeping to my budget in 3 categories: groceries, restaurant & bar, and clothing. I spent way too much on all of these things. I did try to budget for eating out and getting a few drinks, but one fancy dinner and one night of drinking got a out of control, and hangover afternoons call for delivery. Bad decisions were made, but loads of fun was had. It’s easy for me to go over on groceries. It takes real planning and concentration to stick to my grocery budget, and I lacked both a plan and focus last month. For clothing, there were some things I need for the summer and I got them. Some will be returned, but for the most part they’re things like t-shirts, which need replacing every year, and work clothes such as shorts, sneakers, socks and a modest bathing suit. This will be my uniform as a summer camp manager, and I’m stoked about it. You can read more about my wardrobe soon.

On a brighter note, here are some things I did in May that didn’t suck at all:

  • I went to a magical hostel in the forest of coastal Georgia. It was inexpensive, freeing, fun and healing. The amazing Sarah D. was my traveling companion. We played our harmoniums, bathed in moonlight, slept outside-ish, and got devoured by gadflies.
  • My bestie came to visit for an evening and I got to see lots of old friends who live in NYC. She also gave me a gift/loan that allowed me to refill my Emergency Savings and put some money aside for moving expenses and a washer/dryer. Thanks, T!
  • I took a weekend trip to Richmond, VA to visit some friends who recently bought a gorgeous old house there. I had a chill weekend with some of my absolute favorite humans (and dog) in one of my favorite cities. I was also able to visit my favorite lingerie shop, Fiamour, where I got fitted for and bought new bras. It is amazing to have perfectly fitting bras!

For June, I have lots of plans in place to make it a more financially successful month–although, astrologically speaking, money is a tough spot for me this now, so I’m also trying to roll with the fiscal punches. My goals are to put that final $225 in my Emergency Savings, bringing it up to $1000; stash some cash in general savings for moving expenses and a washer/dryer; and stick to my budget in all categories. I also need to sell my old car.

Meet me back here next month and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Did you file your taxes?! If you skipped a year, you should go back and file them now!

What to do When You Hate Everything in Your Closet

…and you write about wardrobes.

What to do when you hate everything in your closet...and you write about wardrobes. Whisper & Howl

(Did someone say TEACHABLE MOMENT?!)

After a year of capsule wardrobe bliss, I have come to a place I hoped never to be in again. I hate everything in my closet.

Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. I hate most things.

The whole point of a capsule is to make me feel great all the time in all of my clothes. It’s to have a (small) wardrobe with nothing but favorites, in which everything goes together and flatters my figure and feels wonderful on my body. Last spring was pretty good. Summer was great (with the exception of the humid heat; there’s no way to dress for that). Fall was beautiful and I felt lovely in winter. But this spring, year 2 of my experiment, is blah. Blech. Ugh.

I didn’t get anything new this season, and I didn’t throw anything out. I thought I’d keep the random stuff from years past in there and see what I ended up wanting to keep v. discard. I guess in that sense, it has been a successful season. (Remember, since it gets hot in May in N.C.–it was 85 degrees last week–spring is a mini-season for capsules and summer is extra-long.) It has been unsuccessful, though, in actually being a cohesive, dreamy capsule wardrobe.

Here are some issues:

  1. A lot of the pieces I kept in are several years old and since they weren’t great quality to begin with, are falling apart. Stretching, fading, sagging and grease spots are abundant. This simply will not do.
  2. The silhouettes are wrong. They seemed right last year, but this year they are wrong. It’s not that I’m so fickle. My tastes have actually taken a step back. Last year I was really into swing cuts and those baggy shirts that look fantastic on models but make me look dumpy and shapeless. I think this is because I worked in an office that had no ventilation and I refused to wear anything that actually touched my skin. Now, I do have a couple of loose, drapey items that I love but it’s a matter of fabric weight and cut. Most of what I have simply isn’t flattering, and I’m no longer comfortable in those pieces. Instead, I’m drawn more to classic feminine cuts that flatter my curves.
  3. The quality is low. I already mentioned that, I know, but it bears repeating. My cheap shirts are stretched and pilled. The cutoffs I made last year from cheap jeans are now cheap, ill-fitting shorts. I’m coming to the realization that tshirts, like flats, just get worn out and need replacing once a year.
  4. I’m missing some staples, such as basic skirts, dresses and shorts. I have been wearing the same pair of jeans over and over again because they’re the only thing that will go with the tops I do like.

So, I’m at the point where I look at my closet and whine “I have everything” and “I have nothing to wear!”–the very thing I strive against! The only thing to do is to take my own advice and…

Cut out the shit! This is pretty easy and enjoyable for me (and something I help other people do–check out my Wardrobe Consulting Service!)  but it can be challenging, especially when money is tight. It’s hard to get rid of things when you don’t feel able to replace them. It’s hard to let go of items you see as resources, wealth, or really, things. Yes, it is hard to let go of our things.

However, I truly believe in cutting out things (or beliefs, relationships, habits) that no longer serve me in order to make way for the new. You have to weed a garden so that beautiful flowers and tomatoes can grow! To apply this to clothing, getting rid of pieces that no longer make you feel and look fantastic gives you space to only wear the things that do–whether that means buying new clothes or simply stripping it down to a uniform with simple variations, or discovering new outfit combinations. Yes, you literally make space for new clothes, but it’s not about replacing and storing up more. It’s about the quality of feeling that you get when you have fewer, better things. You deserve better than that ribbed cotton tank that was, at one point, black. You can have tights without holes in them! I do not need that favorite sailor-striped top with the breast pocket that has sagged to the point that it is basically cupping my boob! No one needs to know that I can’t eat anything greasy without getting stains! I have a waist, damn it, and I want to show it!

You get the point. I will be doing a big discard soon. I will be left with fewer things, but they will be good. And yes, I’ll buy some new (linen) tshirts to replace the gross, pilled, saggy ones. I will make sundresses fit for a foxy lady in 1960s Cambridge (I’ve been watching a lot of Grantchester). But it will be better. It will be fantastic. If not, you’ll be reading about it.

Do you have trouble deciding which clothes to discard? Do you get nervous getting rid of things even though you haven’t worn them in years or they have holes or weird saggy pockets? Tell me about it in the comments! Or, better yet, let me help!