Learning to Say I Love You

01 October 2014
"The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love." 
-Samantha in Her

For an excruciatingly large part of my life, it was terribly difficult for me to utter the phrase, "I love you." Saying the words made me physically uncomfortable: my stomach would twist into knots and my skin would prickle. Nothing about "I love you" ever felt right. The only times I would ever say the words were when prompted, or when telling my dog good night. It was so much easier for me to tell my dog I love him/her than to tell a person.

I'm not entirely sure when it all began, this discomfort with love. It is quite possible that it stems from being made very well aware as a child that I was a mean, spoiled brat, and therefore I felt like love and I never belonged in the same sentence. It is hard to give or receive love when you feel like you deserve no part of it. And so, throughout my life, the only times I would ever say "I love you," the phrase was usually accompanied by the word "too," in response to someone else's "I love you." Love was more of an obligation than something that felt natural.

Even after my nephews were born, "I love you" was difficult to say. Of course I love the three of them in a way that I could never have imagined, and I express my love with hugs, kisses, and ruffling of the hair. I make sure they stay out of trouble, I feed them when they're hungry, give them water when they're thirsty, and I play with them so that they know that I care. But "I love you" would never come out.

It really wasn't until the past few months that "I love you" became easier to say. For the first time in my life, I work with a group of people that I genuinely love and care about, and who I know love and care about me in return. Hugs, high fives, and pats on the back are a regular occurrence, and I hear and say the words "I love you" more than any other time in my life. Not only this, but when I tell my friends I love them, it feels completely natural- no knot in my stomach, no queasy palms. Just love.

But "I love you" hasn't quite made its way into the rest of my life yet. It's still hard to say it with my family. I never tell my sister I love her, and we rarely hug, even though she is the most important person in my life. Love that big is hard to express without feeling completely vulnerable.

Perhaps my discomfort with vulnerability is at the root of it all. Sure, I make myself vulnerable when I bellydance or when I write something like this for anyone to read, but there is still a veil  between me and my audience/readers, whereas with the love the veil is drawn and everything is on display. When I dance or write, nobody has to pay attention, and I really don't care (too much) because I do those things for me anyway. But with love, there is always a hope that it will be returned. When love is not returned, the pain can be unbearable, and therefore, it is easier to keep your love to yourself.

So this is the part where I would normally challenge myself to be more expressive of my love for everyone in my life. This is where I say that I am going to make a point of making "I love you" part of every goodbye. This is the part where I tell you that real love asks nothing in return, and therefore I should have nothing to fear when I tell someone I love them because if love is true then there is nothing to be ashamed of. And yet.

I'm not quite ready for that. I may now be in my thirties, but I still have some things to work on. I see life as a continual learning experience; I'm always changing, learning, and (hopefully) growing. I don't expect myself to be completely comfortable with "I love you" overnight. I don't even expect to be comfortable with it by the end of the year. But I am learning, and I am willing to grant myself grace when I mess up. And maybe, one day, "I love you" will be the words you remember me by.

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Going It Alone

25 August 2014

“The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.” -Napoleon Hill

I've done a lot of things alone in my life so far.  I've gone to the movies, dined, visited Disney World, travelled (both abroad and domestically), moved abroad, lived in an apartment, made large purchases, gone to weddings, and gone hiking all on my own. Hell, I even went to my senior prom alone. And now I can add to this list: go on a (short) road trip, camp, and go to a concert by myself.

There are a lot of things I want to do while I'm alive, and pretty early on I realized that if I waited until someone could do those things with me, I might never get to do them at all. I knew I couldn't wait on someone else to want to go to the same movie as me, or want to go to a dance with me, so I would go by myself. When I studied abroad, I had a list of must-see places and knew that in order to see some of them, I might have to go alone (thus a two-week Spring Break in the U.K. and Ireland, solo). A few years ago, I really wanted to go to Hawaii and knew that going by myself was probably my best shot (also, traveling to Hawaii alone is incredibly relaxing). I'm no stranger to being solitary.

And yet I felt unprepared on Friday morning when my plans with a friend to go to a concert in the middle of nowhere of Washington State changed unexpectedly. The plan was to drive out together on Friday morning, set up camp overnight, attend the concert Saturday night, and return home Sunday. It was going to be a fun girls' weekend! The universe had other plans, as it often does.

Thus I found myself Saturday morning, throwing some food and clothes in the back of my car and taking off with my friend's tent to drive out into the middle of Washington all by myself. I had a knot in my stomach all morning, conjuring up visions of being drugged and dragged out to the middle of the brush before the concert. Or, being followed back to the campsite after the concert and being taken by surprise by some knife-wielding psychopath. Somehow, I had forgotten all of the other things I had survived on my own.

I've never driven for so long by myself. I get antsy and fatigued in the car. Luckily, driving solo means being able to make a pit stop whenever I damn well please. Whenever I got nervous driving up and down and along the sides of mountains, I told myself "you can get through this," then turned up my music louder and sang at the top of my lungs. Turns out singing really helps with my anxiety on the road. I do alright as my own driving companion.

Once I arrived to the campground, I set up my tent right away, with the help of no one. Now, I'd set up plenty of tents before (I was a Girl Scout, after all), but could not remember ever having done so alone before. I did, however, have the necessary skills and I managed to get by (even pressing the stakes into the ground without a mallet). Next all I had to do was go to the concert and make it back to my tent in one healthy piece.

And of course I did. I planted myself on my idea of a prime spot on the lawn and soaked up every minute of the concert. I people-watched (what is up with all the crop tops?), I read a book before the show, I soaked up the beautiful scenery of the gorge. When the music started, I swayed and hummed along as it pleased me, knowing that no one was around to care or tease me for doing something that is purely me. I let the music move through me, un-self-consciously. I stayed until the very last song and walked back to the campsite among the throngs of other concert-goers.

On Sunday morning, I packed my things up (again, all by myself, with no help from the wind) and hit the road. I stopped for a delicious breakfast in Ellensburg, and it didn't matter that I had a long wait. The nice waitress ended up comping my breakfast because of said wait, and I felt pretty well taken care of. My drive home saw more beautiful scenery, some rain, and a stop in Hood River for a break to stretch my legs and enjoy coffee and a book shop stop. My time was all my own, and I could do as I pleased.

If there's anything I've learned from this weekend, it's that I really can make it on my own. I've had a few guys in my time call me fragile, but I don't think they ever saw to the root of me. At my root, I'm strong as the strongest oak tree, able to handle whatever winds and rains the world throws at me, all on my own.

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Impossible Dreams

23 June 2014
Never thought I'd do this...

You know those things you think you can't do? Maybe you think you can't climb a tree, or could never bake a souffle, or maybe you think you can never travel to that one place you've always wanted to see. Big or small, we all have things we think we can't do. And for those who don't have such things- congratulations on being superhuman.

Personally, I have a ton of things I think I can't do. I really don't think I could jump off of a bridge, or go skydiving, or climb Mount Everest. Granted, I also have zero desire to do any of those things. But there are also things that I would like to do that I, for whatever reason, think I can't. I think it would feel really awesome to be able to do a turkish drop, but don't know how feasible that would be given my tricky knee situation, nor do I trust my ability to perform one safely. I am also not sure I could actually write a novel, and definitely don't think I'll ever be able to hit the high notes of any given song.

There are also the big things that I struggle with thinking I cannot do. Perhaps I can never own my own home. And what about saving up the money for yoga teacher training and a trip to Sweden? Or the big one- maybe I will never know what it is like to love and be loved in return.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite book trilogies is as follows:
"Being in love was like China: you knew it was there, and no doubt it was very interesting, and some people went there, but I never would. I'd spend all of my life without ever going to China, but it wouldn't matter, because there was all the rest of the world to visit." from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
I try not to dwell too much on the things I think I cannot do, or will never do. I really don't care if I never see the Great Wall of China- but God forbid I never see the Pyramids at Giza. And certainly there is part of me, the part that wants to experience all of life, that wants to know what love is like.

But you know what feeling is really awesome? The one you get when you do something that you had no idea you could do. When I started taking bellydance classes, I had no idea half of the things I could make my body do. I never in a million years would have thought I would perform, bare-bellied, in front of friends and strangers.

When I was younger, I never thought I would see Rome. The Colisseum was just another monument I'd never see. When I did go to Rome and visit the Colisseum when I was 22, I cried because I could not believe what I was experiencing. I tried not to let my friends see, but I couldn't help being overwhelmed with gratitude to see something I didn't even think I could dream about.

Most recently, I was able to get into bird of paradise pose in yoga. Not the full expression of the pose (give me time), but I was able to safely, slowly, and accurately move into the pose with my leg bent, but body upright. This was, up until Monday, one of my "I can't" poses. But I can, and I did, and it's a marvelous feeling and a great reminder that big or small, somehow the things we think we cannot do have a way of presenting themselves to us, and you wonder why you ever thought you couldn't to begin with.

So I leave you with this- whatever your impossible dreams are, be open to their possibilities. Prepare yourself so that when the opportunities arise, you can realize your unspoken dreams. And if you ever get stuck thinking you can't or won't- just remember all of the things you have done, that you thought you never would.

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Start With a Ripple: The Make Waves Essay Contest

04 June 2014

When Jenn asked me if I would like to co-host an essay contest inspired by the phrase "make waves," I knew I couldn't say no. I believe that we are all capable of making waves, whether we realize it or not. 

When I think about what it means to make waves, I first think about water. Waves can be small, or they can be big. I think back to my first and only surfing lesson in Hawaii, and how we were learning at what was normally a calm beach. The waves we learned on were not huge, but they were incessant. Watching the water, I could see the waves start as small ripples in the water and turn into tumbling and crashing waves as they reached toward the shore.

As a kid, I wanted to be a famous singer or actor, or even a filmmaker. I wanted to make a big impact on the world at large, and I wanted my name to be known. I wanted to make waves. Now that I'm a bit older, the idea of fame genuinely freaks me out, and I understand that a person can have a big impact on their world simply by starting small and setting off ripples within their own world which then turn into waves within their community, and eventually become crashing waves globally.

How do I apply this in my life? I've talked before about being bold, and I believe that is one great way to make waves. I wear bright colors and red lipstick, I hike to peaks that are beyond my comfort level in terms of height, I bellydance in front of friends and strangers, and I try my best to smile at people.

What is more, I stand firmly behind what I believe; I will speak up in a conversation when I think someone is making an unfair judgment, and even when I share something about myself that others find uncool or weird, I stand by it because it is part of who I am and I am proud of who I am and where I come from. Being true to yourself is about as bold as it gets, and my belief is that is the best way to make waves.

These days, some of the ripples I've started in the past year of my life have turned into huge tumbling waves. I have a new job that excites me, and I'm meeting many interesting people. My life outside of work is fuller than ever. With the changes I've been facing, it has been hard at times to keep focused on how confident I deserve to be, and I see this as another opportunity for me to make waves. Though I have come a long way in the self-confidence game, I still have far to go, and I am more determined than ever to get to a place where I can make a fool of myself and not feel so bad about it. I have some great new role models in my life who I think I can learn from in this respect, and I am excited to start a new ripple of confidence in my life and watch it turn into a magnificent wave.

About the contest: We all have times in our lives when we're rocking the boat or struggling to stay afloat. The Make Waves essay contest is about sharing how you do that. Write about how you make waves in your life and/or sail through stormy seas. Your essay can refer to specific times in your life, or how you make waves throughout your life.

This week, Jenn, Alicia, and Erika have shared their stories and on June 6 the contest will open for submissions. Post your story on your blog and add it to the linkup on the hosts pages, or email your essay to nearandfarmontana@gmail.com. Make sure to tweet about the contest using #makewaves.

Near and Far Montana

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Getting Out: Hamilton Mountain

01 June 2014
See that up there? That is where I was headed.

Today, I am quite proud of myself. On Sunday, I conquered a mountain. As it turns out, third time really is a charm.

Backstory. You see, the first time I tried to conquer this mountain was five or six years ago. Most of my family had gathered for a hike to the summit of Hamilton Mountain along the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side. Alas, a few of us (namely me, but I wasn't alone in this) had a very palpable fear of heights. We did not make it to the top that day because hearts were racing and legs were shaking. The timing just wasn't right.

Fast forward to my last day as a 30-year-old. Granted, I should have known that attempting this hike at the end of October would be foolish, but I can be a bit stubborn and weather be damned. But it was misty and rainy and I conceded that we should turn back after we hit the big waterfall in the middle of the hike. I may have been defeated on that day, but I was not going to let the mountain win in the end. My day would come.

That day was Sunday, when everything came together to make for a perfect hiking day. The weather was gorgeous, but not hot. I was feeling (mostly) strong, and I had a hiking buddy. I was ready. I even made a playlist to get me in the proper mental space. I was pumped.

I definitely had a moment during the hike where my fear of heights started creeping up on me, but I stayed focused on my goal: conquer the shit out of this mountain. And conquer it I did, fear of heights be damned. The top was not scary at all (plenty of bushes to keep me from falling to my death), and the vista was well worth the climb. We could see Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams from the top. Fun fact: even after living here for 23 years, I still get excited every time I can see the volcanoes. So yeah, I was pretty happy as can be up there at the top of this mountain that I'd conquered.

I seriously love waterfalls,

There were so many wildflowers in bloom!

This part kind of freaks me out.

See- I made it!

Mt. Adams, covered by clouds.

Mt. Hood.

A view from a little ways down from the top.

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Fabulous Fridays: May 30 Edition

29 May 2014
Photograph by Macey

Happy Friday! Oy, what a week this has been. Even though it was cut short by the holiday on Monday, it has been intense training for my new job. I'm learning a ton and meeting lots of new people. Which means lots of new names to forget. And lots of opportunities for making a complete fool of myself.

I don't really need to go into full detail here, after all, I like to keep these Friday posts happy and bright, but I will say that I felt like a complete idiot on more than one occasion and that I'd really rather never have to introduce myself in front of a group of people again. It's really not fair that being nervous means that my hands (and often, my legs) shake uncontrollably, and that my mind goes really fuzzy.  Also, apparently it is not cool to be a blogger. Oops. Thank goodness I have some sweet coworkers who feel my pain.

But anyway, back to the good stuff. Here are some of the things that have made this week fabulous:

  • Fox has really made me feel special this week. He is always excited to see me at the end of the day, and though I'm exhausted, I love playing frisbee with him on my living room floor, and getting some rather enthusiastic toddler hugs before bedtime. 
  • On Sunday, I got together with my gal pals for brunch book club, and though only two of us had read the book (ok, so I still haven't finished the book), we enjoyed the delicious offerings at Screen Door. And then Macey took our headshots and it was fabulous.
  • One of my new coworkers told me she read my blog last night and said she could relate to my last post. That made me feel the warm fuzzies, and like I'm not sailing this ship alone. Plus, she's really cool.
  • I met up with two coworkers who are not on my team for drinks after work today, and it was great to hear how their training has been going, and how they feel about our training group. They're also really rad, and totally sweet.
  • On Monday, which feels forever ago, my friend Jenni invited me to a seafood boil at her place. I'd never been to one before, but I was happy to be invited and enjoy some delicious food with great company.
  • I've been rising early all week to get to work early for breakfast and I haven't been grumpy at all (note: I am NOT a morning person). I've actually enjoyed my slow mornings, and getting to chat with my new coworkers before we start working each day.

When I look at things that way, this week has been pretty wonderful. This weekend, I have every intention of hitting up the market and then conquering a mountain (third time's a charm, right?). In any case, I'm living life quite fully right now.

What has made your week fabulous? Have any mountains of your own to conquer this weekend? I'd love to hear from you!
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Right Now

25 May 2014

Hey-oh. I'm back from a week of training/orientation in San Francisco, and I'm feeling all sorts of wonderful. Life is good in so many ways, so I figured I might as well write about it. You know, for commemoration purposes. To remind myself that good things can and do happen to me.

As I process this past week, and all that I encountered, I recognize that I have become quite a skeptic. An optimistic skeptic, if possible. I'm always hopeful that good things are on the way, and that things will always work out for the best, even if it wasn't what I thought I wanted. But there is, at the bottom of all of this, a part of me that questions intentions and realities. Things and people can look great on the surface, but often upon further inspection, things and people aren't quite as nice and shiny as they seem. I've gotten used to expecting the worst from things and people.

So, when I left for San Francisco, I was a little skeptical. I wondered if my job and the company were all they had been chalked up to be, and I also wondered how well I would do being surrounded by people nearly 24/7. I was seriously afraid I was going to hate all of my new coworkers. Clearly, I have low expectations for myself.

But, I ended up being pleasantly surprised last week. Almost all of my new coworkers are super rad people that I've enjoyed getting to know. And I can really only recall one bitchy moment, which came about because I was in serious need of a nap. And the company itself? Incroyable.

What I've learned from all of this is that I might not be the person that I think I am- but in a good way. And that who I am is malleable, that there are characteristics who make me who I am, but that I don't have to hang onto any one trait as being what makes me me. That sounds way confusing. What I mean to say is, maybe I just keep getting better.

Granted, I had moments last week where my insecurities popped up. I was surrounded by a ton of incredibly attractive people at the company's headquarters. Seriously, beautiful women and hot guys everywhere. Naturally, and I know I need to work on this, I started to feel a bit like I have in college and high school- like the frumpy, chubby girl I used to be. It's silly, I know, but pretty people intimidate me. 

But, in the end, I am so happy to have had the experiences I've had this last week, and to have made some fantastic new friends. But what was even better was coming home, and having equally wonderful people to return home to. It started with being greeted by Fox, who was brandishing a red rose, and who joyously yelled, "Ray-Ray" when he saw me at the airport. Then I spent time with fellow bloggers and bookclubbers, and I reveled in my happiness. I have some truly quality people in my life right now. It feels really good to be here, right now.

How are you feeling right now?
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Fabulous Fridays: May 16th Edition

15 May 2014

Hey-o! Happy Friday! This week has flown by- so much so that this is the first and only post I've managed to put out all week. Normally I might just ignore that and not elaborate as to why, since some bloggers complain when other bloggers apologize for not posting and give excuses as to why. But my excuse is good and exciting (to me at least).

You see, today is the last day of my current job. For the past nearly two years I've been working as a sales assistant at a TV station, and it has been a great experience. I couldn't have asked for a better boss, and better people to work with in general. I've worked hard and learned a lot, so I wasn't really looking for a new job...

But then I saw an opportunity for a job that could just well be a perfect fit for me (might turn out not to be, but so far, things have been lining up quite nicely). In fact, I saw this posting on Twitter of all places. You guys, if you're not on Twitter you are missing out- so far I have gotten a job and won tickets to an amazing (and normally expensive) foodie event. Twitter pays.

Well, needless to say, after a long and interesting hiring process, I was offered a job and I begin on Monday. But, I have to fly down to San Francisco on Sunday for a week of training, hence my lack of posting- I've been busy filling out background checks, making travel arrangements, and connecting with my fellow trainees/future coworkers. All of that, plus training my temp replacement at work has left me with little to no time for online anything.

Anyway, so that has been my awesome week, and now for a few other things that made this week fabulous:

I got plenty of Fox time this past week (another thing that keeps me from blogging- family first, blog second). On Saturday night, I babysat the kiddo while his parents went to the movies. We had our own movie night- it was a double feature: The Little Mermaid and Frozen. This kid loves a movie with a strong-willed female as the lead. On Sunday, he was dressed nice and dapper for Mother's Day and I took him out for a little stroll with Lucy (he loves taking her for walks). While out, some nice older women wished me a Happy Mother's Day- I felt it would have been rude to say I'm only just his aunt.

Speaking of Mother's Day, I treated my mom to brunch on Sunday morning. I knew just the place and made reservations in advance. I didn't tell her where I was taking her, though- I wanted it to be a surprise. We went to Imperial, which not only served excellent food, but treated all mother's to a gift certificate to use in the restaurant on another occasion. My mom was pleased as punch. So was I- that food was delicious, even if it gave me a food baby* and left me full for the rest of the day.

In other food news, I tried some new-to-me places on Saturday. First, I met Jenni for coffee at Case Study Coffee downtown and it was great! I loved the atmosphere there- reminded me a little of Europe (one Parisian bistro in particular). After coffee, I went and grabbed lunch from the Kargi Gogo food cart, which serves Georgian food. Meredith's blog had brought this place onto my radar and I had mentally bookmarked it for when I was in the area. You guys, I am sold on Georgian food. They have a vegetarian platter, which pretty much made me fall in love with them. My favorite was the cheese bread (hello), but I also loved the salad- whatever seasoning was on it is totally my jam.

On Mother's Day, the whole family converged at my parents' place for a cookout, since the weather was nice. We pulled out the bubbles and the nephews got to work right away. Apparently my brother's boys are into the pipe bubbles. Later on, for some (slightly) more grownup fun, we all rolled down to the park to let the boys burn off their excessive energy while us grown siblings played frisbee. You guys, frisbee is my happy place. Not a game of frisbee, just passing the frisbee around. It's the simple things.

I've also had some intense yoga classes this week, which has left me feeling refreshed and restored (and a bit sore). Anyone who thinks you can't get strong from yoga should come to class with me. Or just look at my (albeit slight) muscle tone. But the real strength that is built in yoga is all in the mind, and I work on that every damn time. 

That's it for my week- I'm off to celebrate my last day at work, do a ton of laundry and getting ready for my week-long trip, and flying off on Sunday! You probably won't hear from me in this space next week, but if you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure I'll be filling your feed with some San Francisco goodness. I'm also trying out this Snapchat thing people are talking so much about, so if you're so inclined, you can find me there as well as rachsed.

Cheers! Tell me, what made your week fabulous? Do you have any coffee shops/restaurants/bars to recommend in San Francisco? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

*If you don't know what I mean by food baby, then maybe you're lucky. I'm referring to that post-binge bulge that occurs in the lower abdomen, making one look pregnant. With a food baby. True story: I once announced a food baby on Facebook and one of my friends thought I was actually pregnant. With a real baby. For the record: I've only ever been pregnant with food babies.

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Portland Bloggers: Photography Workshop

08 May 2014

You may or may not know that I am the blog master for the Portland Bloggers blog. This past Sunday, Portland Bloggers hosted a photography workshop, so naturally I showed up to help out, and also participate in the workshop. I really enjoy playing with my camera, and love learning new things when it comes to photography. In particular, I wanted to learn more about shooting people, and Sunday was a great opportunity for that. Margaret Jacobsen led the group for learning to photograph people, and she was a lot of fun to work with. Did I mention she's an incredibly talented photographer? Below are some of the shots I captured during our breakout session on Sunday.

Caitlin of Caitlin Liz

Jenni of A Well Crafted Party

Margaret Jacobsen

I had a lot of fun at the workshop, and learned some good tips. Moreso, I'm inspired to pull out my camera more often and take more pictures.

Note: all of the above pictures were taken with a Canon Rebel t3i, 50mm/1.8 lens, and edited with A Beautiful Mess Photoshop Elements Nico action.
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Cultivating Self-Love: Style Icons

07 May 2014

One of the things I consider when thinking about my style is who my style icons are. I'm not talking about who fashion magazines tell me are definitive style icons, I'm talking about the women that I look to who reflect a style that I wish to emulate (or simply admire). 

As a general rule of thumb, I"m not particularly into role models and icons and whatnot. I think that everyone should be their own person. I'd like to think I can be my own style icon.

When it comes to style, however, I think it's good to have a starting point, especially if you're unsure of where to start. Style is very personal and a reflection of one's personality. But sometimes, it's hard to define what exactly that personality looks like.

Enter: style icons.

For me, style icons are anyone that I look to for inspiration when it comes to style. It could be the way they do their hair, their makeup, the clothes they wear, or the accessories they use. There is often something about their aesthetic that stands out to me and that I can incorporate into my own look.

To give you some ideas, let me share with you some of my style icons:


Jane Fonda, for starters. The first time I saw Barefoot in the Park, I fell in love with Fonda's look. There was something about it that was carefree and energetic, yet feminine and glamorous. 


Lauren Bacall. Look at that gorgeous hair. Bacall, for me, represents a smoldering femininity. She is glamorous in every way.


Natalie Wood. I think my first exposure to Wood was Splendor in the Grass, which I watched several times as a teenager. Not only is Wood an incredible actress, but she has a great, fun style.


Elizabeth Taylor. Famous for her violet eyes, many husbands, perfume, and a tempestuous personality. But you can't deny this woman had impeccable style that screams Classic Hollywood.

By choosing these women as some of my style icons (I have more, which I will bring up in another post- you'll see why), I can see my own personality reflected which helps me to make my own style choices. Clearly, I adore classic Hollywood glamour, with a bent toward the 1950s-60s. 

Hollywood stars also have dogs.

How does my own style reflect my style icons? In part, through my accessories. If you've followed me very long, or follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen my infamous white Ray-Bans. I chose these sunnies four years ago for their classic Hollywood look and have loved the investment ever since. When I slip those babies on, I feel like a movie star. 

Another thing I do is wear red lipstick. I don't wear it all the time, but when I do, I feel incredibly put-together, like Elizabeth Taylor. 

Would ya look at that- retro dress, red lips, and infamous white sunnies!

If you were to open my closet, you would also find I am a huge fan of dresses, and I love a good sundress with a 1950s flare, or a good sheath like what Elizabeth Taylor might have worn.

One more way I incorporate the retro look is through polka dots. Polka dots are my print of choice, and I love wearing them- they make me feel a bit like Natalie Wood. I prefer to stick with black and white or blue and white polka dots, as I feel those match my aesthetic the best.

So you see, I use my style icons as jumping points for expressing my own style. When I'm out shopping, it helps to keep in mind who my icons are as a guide to keep my wardrobe within a similar aesthetic (so I can mix and match). I'll touch on my personal style and how I shop in a future post, but I wanted to relate how my style icons fit in.

It really helps me to know who my style icons are, and to accept that they might not be the same as someone else's. Again, our style is a reflection of our personality, and just as we each are different in our personalities, so should are icons be different (or the same- that's ok too). Just know who you are and what you like.

Who are some of your style icons? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Cultivating Self-Love: Style

05 May 2014

Can you believe it's May already? I don't know how it happened, but here we are. It's time to introduce the next theme in my Cultivating Self-Love series, and this month I have a fun one: style.

Perhaps you're thinking to yourself, "what does style have to do with cultivating self-love?" Let me tell you.

Style is an expression of oneself- the way you present yourself to the world. I believe we all have a style- some girls are jeans-and-t-shirt, others are dresses and high heels, and some are a mix of both. Personally, I have gone through phases where my practical style did not match the style I envisioned for myself.
My favorite dress in the whole, wide world.

As a little girl, I was all about the dresses. And swimsuits with winter hats (it's totally a thing). My very favorite dress was this red gingham dress that my mom sewed for me and I wore it far beyond was appropriate (basically until the hem was at my crotch). I loved (and still love) the freedom a dress bestows. As I got a little older, dresses also became a way to live my fantasy of living in another time period. I've always been fascinated by history, and my style was a way to play with that.

I'm thinking of bringing this look back.

Once my body began changing, about age 11, I became a jeans and t-shirt girl. I wanted to cover everything up and make sure no one could see my belly rolls or boobs. It was also really hard to find size 14 clothes that were stylish and age-appropriate, so Disney and youth group t-shirts were my cover up of choice.

Once I got a job in high school, I branched out a bit more with my style since I had a bunch of disposable income and could buy whatever I wanted (instead of what my parents could afford- I was one of four kids, after all). Old Navy had just opened up a store at our mall and I became a loyal customer. I started adding 3/4-length sleeve tees to my wardrobe (a daring move, I know). Oh, and since it was the end of the 90s, color was making a comeback and I was stoked.

Throughout college, I experimented a little, but remained a jeans and t-shirt girl. But I longed for the day I would graduate and join the working masses and be able to wear more lady-like clothing. I wore casual skirts to express my feminine side, but I longed for dresses and high heels.

Once I got my first grownup job in the States, I really started to play with my style. I've always loved clothes, and I love playing dress up, and I feel I've learned a thing or two (granted, I owe a lot to Stacy and Clinton of What Not to Wear fame). But I still have struggles with my style from time to time, especially when going through changes.

So this month I'm dedicating to loving my style. This means reflecting on what my style is, what I want it to be, and how I express it. It also means accepting that having style does not make me superficial (something I struggle with, and a big reason I haven't done any style posts here on the blog in the past).

Join me this month as I explore my style, and get a peek into a side of me that you might not have known existed. I'll be sharing a bit about style icons, my personal style, my beauty routine, and more! Feel free to let me know if there is anything you want me to share!

How do you feel about style? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Cultivating Self-Love

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Fabulous Fridays: It's May!

02 May 2014

Happy Friday, my friends, and TGIF! The sun has been shining here in Portland, but alas, that also means that my allergies have been the worst. But it also means I've been able to wear sundresses and flats, so I guess you win some and lose some.

Anyway, here are some of the things that have made my week awesome:

  • Saturday morning was another installment of Ladies Who Brunch Book Club, and we ate at Kerns Kitchen while discussing the hilarious Where'd You Go Bernadette.
  • Saturday night my sister and I had Italian Sunday a day early. I made homemade Marinara from the Everyday Italian cookbook, and it is my favorite. So delicious and lots of leftovers.
  • I've made it to yoga 3 times this week, and am going back tonight for some yin. I love my studio, and love how I feel after every class.
  • Tuesday night I had free tickets that I won on Twitter for Taste of the Nation Portland. I took my sister and we had a lot of fun eating tons of food and drinking wine and cocktails. The biggest highlight was discovering a new-to-us chocolatier (Batch PDX)- we went back for thirds, and I even took two chocolates for the road. 
  • On Wednesday, I had happy hour with my mom at Broder Nord (for which I have already professed my love). I had their version of a sazerac and it was divine.
  • I finished reading Life After Life, and it was beautiful. One of the best reads of the year for sure.
  • Finally, I put in my notice at work, and it went well. I was nervous about it because my boss is awesome and it will be hard to leave, but I am super excited about what is next for me.
Now it's your turn! What has made your week awesome?

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