Do you remember when you were little and your mother telling you to come in from playing outside and take a bath sounded like the most dreadful thing you could imagine? And now (if you’re like me) you might be out somewhere lively and wishing you could magically teleport yourself back home and into the bath tub with a hair mask on your head?
The bath tub is my happy place; where I can relax and do a beauty treatment or two along the way. To encourage happy thoughts, I’ve surrounded myself with a framed picture of Paris, a wooden sign from our wedding ceremony, and a crystal jar stocked with bath bombs and bubble bars. In this post, I’m sharing my tried-and-true bath favorites I keep in this beautiful bath caddy with you. So get ready for a… Good, long soak.
This beautiful oil contains an intoxicating blend of over twenty-five pure flower and plant essences including organic lavender, petitgrain, and ylang ylang. I like to put several drops in the water for a little extra moisture and a lot of calming aromatherapy. If I’m planning on washing my hair the next day, I’ll give myself a little scalp massage with this oil, rub it into the ends of my hair, and twist my hair up into a bun for an overnight hair treatment.
I like to drizzle some of this luxurious honey bath in the water; it’s not really a bubble bath, but it does add a bit of suds and a little moisture too. I also use it for a deliciously-scented, luxe body wash mid-soak. My mother and I gift this product to one another all the time; it’s our favorite!
As I mentioned above, I keep a jar of bath bombs and bubble bars beside my bath tub. My favorites are from Lush Cosmetics; they come in the most gorgeous colors and are all handmade. We used to walk by the Lush store all the time when we lived in London and I remember being mesmerized by the bright piles of bath bombs and their scent that floated out of the store.
Do you like bubbles with your bath? Try this pretty pink Rose Jam Bubble Bar. Need extra moisture in the form of luxurious oil? Try this yummy Marshmallow Moment bath oil. Want a colorful bath with a romantic fragrance… And maybe a tiny floating rose blossom? Add the Sex Bomb bath bomb. Each time I use one of these, I feel so pampered; they make wonderful gifts as well!
If you’re more into bath soaks or bath salts with a bit less color and scent, try the bath salts from Fig+Yarrow here in Denver.
This buttery-smooth cleansing balm is so soft and hydrating on skin. It erases all traces of makeup, cleanses skin, and leaves a glowy complexion in its silky wake. Bonus? It comes with a gentle cleansing cloth too. I like using this as my first cleansing step to “take the day off”.
This scrub has the most perfect, creamy texture. It’s not too scratchy and is gentle enough to use daily, but is substantial enough to remove dead, dull skin. The result? Soft, illuminated, and brighter skin.
I prefer to use cleansing oil after a facial mask because I find that oils remove the mask without undoing the benefits the mask just gave to my skin. I can’t seem to find this peony cleansing oil anywhere, so I’ve linked another favorite cleansing oil of mine.
The most scrumptiously-scented body scrub I have ever come across; I instantly fell in love with its fresh, energizing blend of lemongrass, coconut, jojoba, and vanilla. This gem of a product removes dry skin and then somehow melts to moisturize skin. A similar product made specifically for lips is this lip scrub.
This is the product that introduced me to facial oils. A secret of French women for decades, oils hydrate and nourish the skin in a way other products simply cannot. After cleansing and masking, treat your skin to extra hydration by jade rolling (see below) this beautiful brightening and tightening oil into skin.
Although jade rollers have been used in Asia for ages, they have only recently been embraced by the American beauty community. Rolling a cool, smooth stone like jade across the skin de-puffs and drains excess liquids, increases circulation, and rejuvenates facial muscles. I like jade rolling under my eyes in the mornings, but I’ve noticed massaging products into my skin at night helps to increase their absorption. Another tip? Tuck this baby into your bag with a small bottle of oil while traveling and jade roll mid-flight to prevent puffiness after landing.
Cozy and home. Those words go so beautifully together, don’t they? I was thinking about cozy layers you could add easily to any outfit during this transitional month of March. And then my sweet little house sold this week; the house I lived in during college and law school, rented out to friends, and have been renting out ever since I left. About a million years ago, I wrote an article when I moved to Los Angeles and still felt homesick for my little townhouse and my friends in the Midwest. I discussed the concept of ‘home’ and what truly makes a place feel like we are home. In short, it’s the people around us. It’s the memories we make while in that place, the experiences we share with others.
I’ve seen friends posting about selling their houses and they often describe a bittersweet feeling; a tugging feeling that makes them hesitant to leave the place they lived when they first married, had their baby, or adopted their troublesome little pup. Now I understand that feeling. I’m so excited for the new owner to make memories of their own. But all the memories I’ve made in that place came rushing back to me this week. Sitting around the television in yoga pants with friends, crying over Blair and Chuck. Eating Lucky Charms at 3 AM while my friends and I studied for a morning Philosophy exam together. Dancing barefoot on the sofas with my roommates after a particularly fun night out. Crying over boys. Crying over getting into law school. Walking to the Saturday farmer’s market downtown. Meeting my future husband in the driveway behind our townhouses. Seeing my kitchen covered in case briefs; a depressing sight if you’ve never witnessed it. Deliriously staying up until 4 AM to watch the royal wedding with my best friends, burning my hand on the egg pan, and skipping my morning workout that day. Teaching myself to make YouTube videos from my bedroom; if you’ve ever seen any of my first ones, they’re awful. But making them gave me such joy. I hope the new owner makes memories that give them joy and make them feel hesitant to leave that house someday.
This wrap is kind of like coming home. It’s a cozy, comforting wrap that’s easy to wear; the arm holes help it stay on your shoulders or slouched off the shoulders around your elbows without falling off. You easily can add it over a tee and jeans or toss it over a fitted t-shirt dress. It’s one of the most versatile pieces in my closet. This bag is the original Louis Vuitton Manhattan; LV recently released a new Manhattan bag. I get so many compliments on this bag, but I have to say, all the hardware and pockets make it really heavy. I personally don’t mind a heavy handbag, but if you’re picky about this or have any shoulder issues, I would opt for another style.
Fit Details:The wrap is one-size-fits-all. This denim shirt I’m wearing is my favorite; it runs true to size and isn’t too long, so it can easily be tucked into pants or a skirt. The denim I’m wearing is sold out (I found one last size here) but I’ve linked a similar pair I like and you should go up one size for both brands.
My energy burnout happened so subtly and slowly I didn’t realize it was happening at all. Most importantly, I didn’t even realize that I was the very one creating this path for myself until it was too late and I was sick and had completely run out of energy. It took me a while to feel ready to share this, but I think it’s time we women begin sharing more of the real, raw things. Keep in mind this is my own story, which means your experiences may be very different. I think that has been one of the most difficult things for me to accept after speaking with counselors and friends about this topic. We all have different needs, wants, and capacities; we are all on our own journeys in this beautiful thing called life. But I’ve learned that if you don’t like how you’re feeling, only you can change it. I’m sharing my experience with you and below that, I’m sharing the ways I’ve turned my health and wellness around in the hope it may help some of you as well. My journey isn’t complete, but I’ve been enjoying diving into books, articles, and documentaries that are helping me create a more healthful, balanced lifestyle. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you in the year ahead.
I launched this site and went full-time as a blogger after our marriage in the spring of 2015 and a whirlwind summer of destination weddings and lots of travel. I worked my tail off getting TCG up and running. It’s the kind of manic devotion only fellow entrepreneurs will know. The kind you doggedly pursue until you’ve risked your health, happiness, and any semblance of a social life. By the spring of 2016, a digital marketing analyst had reached out and let me know that (with all its 12k followers at the time) TCG was selling as much product as brands with 60k followers or more. I was beginning to work with brands I’d followed for years, sitting front row at fashion shows, and penciling in events almost every night of the week. I didn’t say ‘no’ to anything, but that wasn’t unusual for me. I was always the girl in school who secretly completed all the parts of a group project just in case anyone forgot theirs; I’m a detail-obsessed perfectionist by nature.
Of course, while I was getting my brand off the ground I was also navigating a new marriage. The truth is, we don’t really know how to be married until we are and even after that, both parties have so much to learn and must discover how to grow together as partners. At the beginning of our marriage, I asked my husband if he wanted someone with a career or a traditional housewife. He replied with, “Well… I’d like both. I think.” (I mean, wouldn’t we all?! I’m imagining someone that goes from the boardroom to the bedroom faster than you can say ‘Christian Grey’ and also looks as rugged and wild as Jason Momoa.) As TCG began to grow, both my husband and I agreed that I needed to devote my full 8-hour days to running TCG in 2016. The real problem? I didn’t know how to run a small business and be the housewife he needed. So I tried to be perfect at both.
“Done is better than perfect.”
Sheryl Sandberg, American Author and Chief Operating Officer of Facebook
My husband works hard and in 2016 was also growing a business from the ground up; he physically did not have the hours in the day to help at home. So… During the day, I was on housewife duty. Doing our dishes, laundry, cleaning, making beds and stocking fresh towels, doing yard work, taking our three pups to grooming and vet appointments, getting groceries, running errands, scheduling and meeting with maintenance/repair, decorating our home, buying and sending gifts for friends and family, making dinners and packing his lunches for the next day, planning upcoming travel and important events for friends. By late afternoon or early evening, I switched into business gear. Working on social media, editing my photos, writing blog posts, updating my site and product links, scheduling content and shoots, emailing companies, signing contracts, and invoicing for completed work into the wee hours of the morning. On nights when I had events to attend I lost the entire evening and on days when I prepped for shoots and days my photographer and I shot looks, I lost the entire day. But because of how completely over-scheduled my days were, if one tiny thing went wrong my entire week was screwed up and I was forced to go without sleep so I could get everything done. I didn’t allow time to work out or even just relax and watch a TV show with my husband. I was burning the candle at both ends.
It’s as the old saying goes; you can’t pour from an empty cup. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was giving a lot of myself to others during this time. I was convinced the more time and energy I gave to others, the better wife/friend/daughter I would be. I answered every distraught phone call and I tried to make it to every celebration or event. I think I was too busy trying to please everyone to notice that this level of giving wasn’t realistic… Or sustainable. Things started to slip. I would forget important dates and I couldn’t keep up with my lists of to-dos. Just looking at my phone or email stressed me out because I was so incredibly behind. At one point my personal email contained over 29,000 unopened emails. My skin was breaking out, I was gaining weight, I caught every cold or flu that came my way, I felt sick almost every single day, and I looked completely and totally drained.
“I can’t tell you the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
Ed Sheeran, English Singer, Songwriter, and Record Producer
The funny thing is, the more you give of yourself, the more people take. It’s human nature; we need boundaries to stay healthy. Suddenly I found myself helping friends or family over two-hour phone calls multiple times a week and even picking my husband’s discarded clothes and towels up off the floor. I didn’t even recognize myself. But let’s be clear: this was my fault. It’s our own responsibility to set boundaries and not allow ourselves to become doormats for everyone else. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned this year. We are allowed to say ‘no’ to things. And trust me, once you start, it feels pretty wonderful. But I had to learn it the hard way first.
It was just a few tiny, little instances in the beginning of 2017 that caused me to wake up and realize exactly what I had been doing to myself. One Monday I needed to print, sign, and scan an ASAP kind of contract for a work project I really wanted. I tried to print and my computer popped up with a message that said my office printer was now paired with my husband’s phone and I wouldn’t be able to print. I went to my printer and a million red lights were flashing; it was out of both my paper and ink. In their place? A printed, 67-page color photo book on cars my husband had printed out that weekend. He hadn’t thought to refill the printer supplies or at least tell me he had run them out… He hadn’t even considered that I might need to use my printer because all this time I was essentially telling everyone around me I don’t prioritize my own needs. That same week, I stopped at his office on our way to the ranch and saw something hanging out of a large filing cabinet drawer. When I opened the drawer, I realized it was stuffed full of the lunches I had been carefully packing him for months and months. I get it… it was just a printer and some lunches. And my husband is a wonderful, brilliant, hard-working man and I adore him with all my heart. But it took getting to that place, that moment, for everything to finally become crystal clear to me. This is hard to say, but I had been behaving like a doormat and people were beginning to treat me like one… Including the person I love the most. And I was the onlyone who would be able to put boundaries in place for myself.
After that week, I understood I had been wasting my time doing little things I thought others probably cared about… Because I cared about them. It goes back to that lovely book “The Five Love Languages”. My language is acts of service. So I assumed the more I did and gave up for others, the more they would realize how much I care about them and love them. Not true. It doesn’t work that way. If you’re not speaking their language, the other person won’t understand what you’re trying to do and you’ll essentially be wasting your time. I think my husband could have cared less about his bathroom being kept tidy or having a packed lunch with a note. I was putting that pressure on myself. So I stopped. I allowed myself to be a bad wife and a shitty friend for a while.
“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for thirty-four years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms.”
Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo
While I was being a bad wife and shitty friend, I began to take care of myself again. I ignored a phone call or two and I ignored the dirty dishes in the sink. Instead of stressing about them, I went to see the allergist I had been putting off all year long. He told me my allergies were some of the worst he had seen; they were causing my migraines and making me feel sick and exhausted. He also told me if I wasn’t careful I could have seizures from such a constantly high level of histamines and my immune system on edge 24/7. Talk about a wake up call to start some self-care. Amongst other things, I am allergic to my husband’s dog. So it forced me to look into wellness and to begin making some serious lifestyle changes in order to take care of myself and save my health.
To top it all off, 2017 also happened to be the year my loved ones went through some challenging experiences. One of my best friends went through a painful divorce. We had three major surgeries amongst our loved ones. I helped someone with a scary legal issue. Someone else was in a serious ATV accident. All through November and December, I was literally counting down the days to get home to my family. I created my holiday content for TCG. I bought and wrapped gifts for the twenty-seven people we exchange gifts with. (Talk about the unnecessary pressure we women place on ourselves!) But all I could think about and all I really cared about was spending time with our family over the holidays. I wanted to be home. Amidst all of this, my sweet photographer gave birth to her first baby so I hadn’t planned or accepted my usual amount of projects during this time and it ended up being a hidden blessing. I was able to enjoy a long holiday break with family and I was able to help my mother recover from knee surgery after the new year. While I was in Arizona, I realized something very important. Something you could probably sense from this blog post I wrote.
I realized I was simply fed up. Burned out. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I had watched those around me get strong doses of reality this year and I had seen and felt their pain. I realized that when everything is a mess all that matters (and all you want!) are your loved ones. I wanted to spend more time with mine and I no longer wanted to devote so much of my life to slaving over my website. Obsessing over my Instagram theme. Spending hours engaging on social media. And while I was thinking about it, I worried that maybe my site wasn’t focused on things that mattered. What if my readers were feeling burned out too?! Were my posts helping them? Or was I just selling things?
When I returned from Arizona, I wanted to cleanse everything in my life while I thought about these questions. With each box of things that went out the door, I felt a weight off my shoulders. What had started as a way to help my allergies (less things = less gathering dust and pet dander) turned into a form of therapy for me. Like a little tornado, I went through our piles of accumulating magazines and papers. I cleaned. I donated. And I thought. What did I want TCG to look like? What did I want my own life to look like? During this time, I did a little detox and stayed away from my computer and neglected my work. I only did things with my hands where I could see actual progress being made, such as cleaning out cabinets and organizing closets. It changed my mindset by allowing me to immediately connect with what I was doing (versus a work project three months in the future) and the immediate gratification of visual results felt more satisfying. If you can do this cleanse-and-detox ritual – even for a weekend – I highly recommend it for clearing your mind and your personal space.
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”
Dolly Parton, American Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer, and Philanthropist
With a little more space to think and breathe and a little more time away from the computer, I was able to dive into why I had burned out and why I had been feeling sick all the time. The answer began with me. A counselor and a life coach both told me stress and lack of self-care can actually cause internal diseases and more specifically, cause the immune system to shut down. In fact, stress chemicals are so effective at shutting down the immune system doctors actually administer them prior to giving a patient an organ transplant; the stress chemicals completely shut off the immune system, ensuring that the organ is not rejected by the patient. The life coach recommended the documentary “Heal” to me. I take any documentary with a grain of salt, but I do think the stress and pressure we feel in everyday life can build up within us and affect our physical and emotional health. If you prefer a more scientific approach, take a look at these articles from Mayo Clinic and Simply Psychology. The question is, are we doing enough to balance out our stressors?
So I opened myself up to new techniques to relieve stress and tried different wellness tools I could put into practice immediately. Most importantly, I became viciously protective of my time. Now I limit my amount of travel, the events I attend, the meetings I agree to, and even all the little lunch/coffee dates with friends that can take hours out of my week. I allow myself time to connect with my husband, my family, and my close friends and I set aside a little time for myself each day – to exercise, to read a book, to do my skincare routine, or to take a bubble bath. I prioritize the things I really want or need to do – not things I feel I should do. Of course, there will always be crises that arise and times when family and friends truly need us. But an acquaintance reaching out to buy me coffee in exchange for me teaching them how to run their social media? Not happening. I don’t owe anything to them and I don’t want a coffee or lunch that badly. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but because our society is 24/7/365 now we have to be just that protective of our time and our choices. Life is too short.
We’re often told as women that we should always put others first and then we wonder why we’re sick, exhausted, and overwhelmed. It makes me think of my friend who had this way of responding apologetically with a drawn-out “Noooo, sorryyyy… I can’tttt.” when she was asked to do something she didn’t want to do. But you know what? She always went to bed at the same time and got sufficient sleep, she always worked out five times a week, she always had time for exactly what she wanted to do, and she always practiced self-care. I used to wonder how she did it when another friend and I were up until all hours of the night, studying for tests and sewing sorority sashes for the new members. But now I realize that our friend was one step ahead of the rest of us. She already understood that nobody else will prioritize your needs but you. She lived her life by this and her health/happiness were better off for it. Even though she tried to sound apologetic, she actually wasn’t… Because she knew exactly what she needed and what was too much on her plate, and she stood up for herself every step of the way. You know who else has always been great at this? My husband. Despite how stressed or busy he may be, he will always make sure he gets the sleep he needs. I don’t care if the world is falling apart; that man will go to bed with his big glass of water no later than 10 pm and you better believe he’ll be there for eight hours.
Along with these lifestyle changes, I began implementing the wellness tools I’m sharing with you today to help me reinforce and remember the lifestyle changes I am making. I started taking yoga and pilates classes; classes that focus on breathing, soothing the mind, and stretching the body. I forced myself to let go of perfection and stop stressing out over every little detail. You know what happened? Within days of implementing these simple changes, I felt more positive and more energized. Within weeks, I had lost almost 10 pounds and I started to feel my daily allergy symptoms lift a little (headaches, itchy eyes, sore throat, tiredness, aching muscles and joints). Within a month, I had a blood test done for a physical and I had moved into the top 10% in terms of health. I went to my dentist appointment and the hygienist commented that my teeth and gums had improved, any inflammation was gone, and they were “in perfect condition”. In such a short time, my physical health was actually improving. I am making a real difference on the outside because I finally started taking care of the inside.
The bottom line? People respect others who respect themselves. Now my husband and I both hold ourselves as our first priority and having that respect for ourselves has made all the difference. Remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup. We can’t really be there for one another if we’re empty and exhausted, so we make sure to take care of ourselves first and when we do, we’ve found we can give so much more to the other person. My husband makes an effort to help me when he can and he even comes home earlier than he did in previous years. (I think only part of this is the growth of his business and most is the fact I’m a more pleasant person now that I’m functioning on more than four hours of sleep.) Yesterday I asked him the question I asked at the beginning of our marriage and his answer was different: “I want my wife to do what makes her happy.” We have both learned so much in our three years of marriage and we’re continuing to grow as partners each and every day.
And you know what? I haven’t lost any relationships from prioritizing myself and focusing on my own wellness. My close friends understand when I can’t make an event or can’t squeeze in another lunch during the week. When I can meet up with them, I’m happy and invested in spending time together; I set aside my phone and let the emails and social media wait. I’ve realized that nothing can replace the experiences and memories we make with our loved ones. I’m actually looking forward to traveling this year because I’m not consumed with working to secure partnerships beforehand and packing 17 looks to shoot while there. I love working and I still strive for perfection… I’m just not willing to sacrifice my health and happiness.
If you’re feeling run-down like I was, be sure to see a doctor and allergist first to see what’s going on with you medically. You’ll notice the biggest changes from making the lifestyle changes I discussed in the above paragraphs; get to work respecting yourself, practicing self-care, being protective of your time, getting sufficient sleep, and doing mindful exercise. Those are the bestways I’ve found to turn everything around when you’re truly burned out and the ones that will give you long-lasting results. But above I mentioned implementing some “wellness tools”and noticing a difference from them as well. Some of them have offered me nearly immediate results and others simply remind me of the changes I’m trying to make in my life. I’m not a doctor or a therapist, I just opened myself up to trying every option I could and along the way I discovered some things that work for me and that I enjoy.
As soon as I got my warning from the allergist, I set to work putting his suggestions into place and dehydration was at the top of his list. Did you know that as little as 1% dehydration can negatively affect our mood, attention, memory, and motor coordination? (Article here.) Our bodies are 70% water. When we’re dehydrated our bodies can’t eliminate toxins, our immune systems are weakened, our energy levels drop, our blood pressure and cholesterol skyrocket, our metabolism slows to a crawl, and our skin begins to lose collagen. Putting healthful, fresh foods into our body is only half the battle; much of the rest is all about water. If you live in a dry climate like I do here in Denver, simply keeping yourself hydrated can be a challenge.
Humidifier. I keep a large humidifier on my nightstand and it sends a cool mist over my face and neck while I sleep. Aside from remedying my usual sore throat and stuffed nose, it also soothes my dry eyes and skin.
Nonstop Water. I try to drink 64 oz. of water each day. This crystal-infused glass bottle may seem silly, but it keeps my water cool and tasting fresh and clean. I always drink more water when I carry it around. Goop just started selling one on their website if you’re a Gwyneth fan. One of my friends prefers mason jars. Find what works and tote it with you wherever you go.
Lanolin and Lotion. I keep a tube of lanolin (another favorite) and lanolin hand lotion by my bedside as well; each night, I apply the lanolin to my lips (and around my nose if Denver happens to be particularly dry) and the hand lotion on my hands, elbows, and feet. It locks in moisture while I sleep.
Honey with Propolis. Each morning and night, I drink a giant cup of hot, herbal tea and eat a spoonful of raw Colorado honey containing propolis, an antibacterial substance bees make from trees. Since honey is made from pollen and propolis is made from trees, this combination gives allergy sufferers the most benefit. After my tea and spoonful of honey, I down a glass of water to further boost hydration.
If you’re not from California, Sedona, or Colorado, bear with me here. Living in Denver, I have a lot of access to the combination of Eastern and Western medicines and it’s been interesting to learn about both. I’m into the crystal phenomenon lately; the idea is that all of us are made up of energy and there are many people who believe our bodies can respond positively to the energy from various crystals and stones. Some people even believe different crystals can help with specific goals or needs. I don’t consider myself a hippie, but I’ve just always liked stones and crystals. I remember the time my father broke open a geode for me and I stood staring at the sparkling crystals hidden inside the ugly rock; I was instantly hooked. And I would beg my mother to let me get a little bag of stones when we were out shopping. I remember carefully looking at my little collection of tiger’s eye, quartz, and turquoise. Maybe we are the ones who give the stones positive energy. Either way, I like the way they look in my home.
Crystals. I like to place crystal points from The Sacred Crystal on our coffee table; I currently have moonstone (femininity), aventurine (luck), and amethyst (tranquility). I have a natural rose quartz piece (love) from our ranch. And I have two palm stones – one selenite (cleansing) from Gem Realm and one labradorite (self-awareness) from a shop in Sedona – that can be held during prayer or meditation. I now start my day with a little prayer and meditation; it’s a calm, quiet moment I look forward to every morning. Take it for what you will, but long-term meditation has been associated with increased grey matter density in the brain stem (article) and can help those with ADHD, anxiety, and depression by actually altering the structure of the brain network (article). I’m currently using the Breathe app on my Apple watch, but I’ve heard so many great things about the Headspace app and the Calm app as well. Let me know if you have a preference between these two or if you have other suggestions.
One of my favorite websites for purchasing and learning about crystals: EnergyMuse.com
Mala Necklaces. I recently went to a mala workshop with Surrender in the City and learned all about how these beautiful pieces of jewelry have been used for over 3,000 years in India as tools for remembering mantras and focusing on breathing during meditation. (Take a peek at this video.) Even if they don’t pray or meditate, many people use malas as talismans to help them remember a goal or an intention throughout the day. Some malas can be simple; the one I made at the mala workshop was mostly bodhi seeds and some clear quartz and smoky quartz crystal beads. I also have one made of zebra jasper (de-stressing) in the most serene, muted, neutral colors. But some malas can actually be quite exquisite with carved stones, gold beads, and silk tassels. No matter what, it’s important that you feel drawn to the mala or that you think about what you’re trying to achieve when making the mala. All the malas I’ve hand-picked (zebra jasper, blue chalcedony, moonstone/aquamarine) are calming, soothing, grounding malas intended for helping their owner through stressful or anxious times and getting back to a calmer place; they say our intuition knows what we need. I keep one in my car and I keep one in my bag. If I’m feeling anxious or stressed it’s a great reminder for me to take a moment and breathe.
I mentioned feeling the urge to cleanse everything around me after I came back from the holidays and Arizona. I’ve heard people say that a person’s environment is a reflection of their mind and I’ve found it to be quite true. I need a clean, serene place to work, to live, and to relax or I simply don’t function well. I’ll light a few candles and play a relaxation playlist on our Alexa or Spotify before I begin working or doing things around the house. It instantly creates a more calming environment.
Air Purifier. After reading about a million reviews, I finally decided on this air purifier for our bedroom. It contains a HEPA filter to soothe allergies by removing allergens and pollutants like pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and bacteria. It actively monitors our air quality and alerts me when something is wrong. It also heats or cools, depending on our preference. I haven’t turned it off since I purchased it. If I could, I would have one of these in every single room.
Himalayan Salt. My aunt and uncle gifted me a salt lamp at Christmas and I fell in love with that little lamp. Pink Himalayan salt releases negative ions into the air, helping to balance the pollution caused by all our electronic devices. Think of how clean the air feels near the ocean, a waterfall, or while sitting outside during a rainstorm; when water crashes, the molecular bonds break and negative ions are released. (Article here.) Most importantly, Himalayan salt helps to rid the air of allergens, soothing allergies and assisting in boosting immunity. On the Himalayan salt train, I recently repotted my little succulent into this Himalayan salt bowl; the bowl can be used for serving items that need to be lightly salted as well. I asked my friend who is a counselor if she thinks her salt lamp really works and she said, “You know… I think it does. Mostly because I just like being around it; I just feel better when it’s in the same room as me.” I have to agree with her. My allergy symptoms have improved, but more than anything, I just like the soothing, soft glow the salt lamp gives off. It feels calming and I am all about that right now.
Oil Diffuser. I always thought people who used oils were borderline crazy. And then after a solid week of migraines and medication, as a last resort, I tried diffusing a Peppermint oil someone gave me. Within twenty minutes, the oil did what medications couldn’t; my migraine slowly lifted and I no longer felt sick to my stomach. Now I apply the oil to my temples and neck, place a cool cloth on my forehead and rest a heating pad at the back of my neck to soothe a migraine. And each night, I start diffusing a little Peppermint oil before I go to bed. It makes the room feel cool, serene, and calm and helps me fall asleep. I’ve purchased Peppermint oil from various sources now, but one I find that works best and smells beautiful is the Young Living brand. I diffuse mine with this oil diffuser but I keep eyeing this one that is just gorgeous and has a larger water capacity.
When I lived in the Midwest, the winters announced their presence around November with dark, dreary days and piles of snow and treacherous ice patches that didn’t leave until around March when the snow near sidewalks and streets had been tinged a depressing dark brown from dirt, sand, and car oil. Ever the determined sort, Midwesterners trudge through the snowy sludge and go about their business for months on end with minimal complaining. I’ve seen videos of Minnesotans cross country skiing to work atop feet of snow in the Minneapolis streets. I’ve witnessed Iowa farmers calmly shoveling their way through snow to take care of livestock every morning and evening. It’s just how we were raised; don’t complain too much, because there are fourteen days of beautiful spring weather ahead! (Before the sweltering, humid summer sets in.)
Imagine my surprise when I moved to Colorado, the state known for snow and skiing, and learned that Denver winters are usually mild with nonstop sunshine, temperatures that hover anywhere between 40°F and 70°F, and the rare monthly dumping of snow that melts the next day. “It’s so cold!” Coloradans will say, as they pull their parka tighter to shield themselves against the 35°F chill under the blazing Denver sun. Our average January temperature is 45°F. I’ve actually found myself missing the cold temperatures and snow this winter; I’m the type that loves burrowing in for a weekend next to the fire with a great book while the snow falls softly outside.
The past few years, Denver seems to reach its coldest in February and March, just when I’m trying to shoot Spring outfits. So because I’ve felt cheated out of my usual number of snow days and because it’s 32°F outside today, I am rebelling against the pressure to write about spring break ensembles and am writing this blog post as an ode to sweater dresses instead. These dresses are those versatile creatures that allow us to pile on furry vests, tights, and over-the-knee boots one chilly weekend in March and when the temperatures rise a few days later, they pair just as well with sunglasses, bare legs, and your favorite booties. Aside from versatility, I’ve found that men seem to especially like these dresses on women. After careful thought, I’ve decided it’s because the off-shoulder style appears as if it may fall off at any moment. (I’m sorry, but I’m always honest with you.) And as I mentioned in this blog post, I haven’t met a woman’s clavicle that isn’t beautiful.
So here’s to tricky weather, beautiful clavicles, and like our favorite groundhog, rebelling against Spring for a few more weeks.
Off the shoulder. Yes, I’m still enjoying this trend. Why, you ask? Because everyone (and I do mean everyone) has great shoulders. Think about it; no one’s shoulders really age or gain weight or look awful. It’s a flattering body part that showcases a feminine clavicle, a beautiful necklace, or a new haircut. And you really can’t go wrong with an off-shoulder sweater like this during these tricky, transitional winter-spring months.
I’ve been thrilled that flared denim is back in the shops again; it’s the most flattering style for girls with curvy hips and thighs like me. Which brings me to another reason I’m snapping up all the off-shoulder sweaters recently. A wee little tip I learned in fashion school: off-shoulder tops accentuate shoulders, making the waist and hips appear smaller. So when off-shoulder sweaters like this are paired with flares, it creates a beautiful illusion; the shoulders and hemline appear largest and everything in between (waist/hips/thighs) seems smaller in comparison. For the most flattering cut, have jeans hemmed so they brush right at the knuckle of your toes in heels. I have yet to hem this pair I’m wearing; I usually wait until I see which shoes I wear a pair of denim with most before having them altered.
I had to have one of these Laulhère berets after seeing this segment about the quintessential French hat on CBS Sunday Morning. Laulhère is a French company that has been making berets for over 170 years; in fact, they’re the last French company hand-crafting berets. I was able to find my red beret (yes, it’s called ‘raspberry’) online, but it’s not easy to locate them stateside!
Fit Details:Go up a full size in these jeans as they are very fitted! (Did we expect less from Victoria?!)
Coffee in hand, I sat down at my computer to put my 2018 goals into words. As I began to type, my mind kept drifting back to when I first began posting online years ago. I escaped the heavy subject matter of law school (at the time I was taking Child, Family, and State and felt particularly helpless) by turning to my phone and my makeup cabinet, putting rudimentary little makeup tutorials out into the abyss. I hoped I could help someone feel better about themselves in some small way; in a way I couldn’t help the people in the cases I read each night. It was truly my creative outlet and a place for my mid-twenties self to bloom and grow. I just never imagined people were looking for the exact same escape and that I would connect with so many of you.
Since that time, my goal was to create a little space to inspire and provide the kind of lighthearted escape I was searching for years ago. But that’s the funny thing about time; it passes and it changes us. When I think about the future of TCG in 2018 I can’t help but compare the things that inspire and excite me for the year ahead and the things that inspired and excited that girl making videos from her bedroom floor because they are so very different. My personal style has been honed and developed, my interests have changed, and my overall outlook on life has slowly grown and expanded. Even the little things are different. The girl making tutorials from her phone chose clothing and accessories over home decor every. single. time. And she could care less about skincare as long as she had the tan and makeup to cover any imperfections. When it came to food, she considered Lucky Charms and clementines a perfectly acceptable daily diet as long as it allowed her to save for a new dress and nights out with the girls.
I’m still dreamy, a romantic at heart, and love storytelling through my photography and writing more than anything else. But the things that used to set my heart aflutter aren’t the same and I increasingly look to new sources for inspiration. Suddenly I find myself forgoing most of the fast fashion trends to invest in special pieces for our home. I research the newest skincare products and techniques because I’m focused on creating a healthy, supple canvas for my makeup instead of just concealing any skin issues. I’ve been incorporating more wellness into my life. And I love discovering new wine and restaurants in Denver, but I appreciate a cozy night in with friends just as much. The places I want to travel have less to do with sunbathing or shopping and more to do with exploring new places and seeking adventures. And giving back is more important to me than ever. So as I look to the future, I see this new outlook and inspiration coming through in my posts here at TCG. In short, TCG is growing and maturing with me.
I’d like to hear from you… What are the things that inspire you lately? What kind of content would you like to see from me? Style, beauty, fashion, home, travel? Are you interested in reading interviews with girl bosses? Guest posts from other specialists in their fields? If so, who do you want to hear from – a chef, a life coach, a skincare expert?
Before I go into my personal goals for 2018, I want to share two pieces I read in December 2017 that inspired me, humbled me, and completely shaped my outlook going into the new year. Every now and then we need a beautiful little reminder that life is a precious gift and these both presented themselves to me within a week of one another; the universe sending me a message of what’s important. The first was a text message from my friend who had recently lost a parent. I have respected and looked up to this woman for years; she is an incredible friend, businesswoman, daughter, wife, and mother. Her message read as follows.
“This is totally none of my business, but if you and John are considering a family (if at all possible) let your Dad enjoy seeing you as a Mom and time with your kids. It really is what this is all about. And, I am so glad Kate has sweet memories with my Dad and that Dad was able to meet Alex.”
As I read it, I began to cry and I thought about this text message every day for at least three weeks after I received it. I shared with my friend the things that made me hesitant to start a family (things all women probably worry about such as progressing in one’s career, losing weight, finishing projects, etc.) and she gently reminded me that those things just don’t matter in the end. Because in the end, all we have is love… Love for our families, love for our friends, and love for ourselves. Love and witnessing love in all its various forms is truly the only thing that matters. It’s not about only romantic love, selfless love, parental love, unconditional love, or friendship. Bear with me and think about it for a moment; when we enjoy a truly incredible meal we’re witnessing the love that chef has for his craft and for the experience of dining itself. When we travel and see a breathtaking edifice or monument we are witnessing the love an architect had for his passion and the love so many people felt for their country. If you feel moved while watching a sunset you’re witnessing your love for nature and, if you believe in a higher power, our creator’s love for us. A few days later, I read the heart-wrenching letter from dying 27-year-old Holly Butcher to the world and it only reinforced this powerful message.
“You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Or your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling. Let all that shit go… I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your time to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more day with my partner and my dog. Just one more.”
“That’s the thing about life; it is fragile, precious, and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.”
Before this beautiful soul left the earth she had the rare opportunity to think about and process her final thoughts on life and what our human experience means. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. Notice a theme between two messages? Whether people are facing a loss or at the end of their time here on earth, it’s clear the most important things aren’t things at all. So, with my newest inspirations in mind and a fresh reminder about the importance of love and life, I put my personal goals for 2018 into words and I’m sharing them here with you.
Incorporate more wellness into my life, both physically and mentally.
Wellness is something I began to explore this past year and I’ve found it to be incredible for my health, reducing stress levels and clearing my head. I’ve always felt that I could do everything, be everything to everyone but a few difficult times in the past year have shown me that each of us have different apogees for that point at which we can’t take on any more and instead we become, for lack of a better word, shitty people. “Reeeeally shittty,” as my favorite French friend would say. We can only take on so much pressure and commitments (I’m talking both personally and professionally) before things start to slide and we find ourselves going through the motions in life without really enjoying those little moments and putting forth our best work. Once I discovered my own personal “point of no return” I did everything I could to find ways to foster and maintain that balance in my life. Keep in mind this point may be different for every person and we cannot eschew responsibilities, but we can make small changes that lead to greater balance. For me, meditation and creating a calm physical space around me have been huge game changers. I know many of my readers are such girl bosses and amazing mamas, juggling so many roles, and I really think we deserve to give ourselves balance in 2018.
Want to know more about your strengths and weaknesses? I took this 16 Personalities Test recently and I love the way this test breaks down the results and analyzes both sides of personality, relationships, and work skills. My test results were “Protagonist” and it broke my weaknesses down in a better way than I could have self-assessed, allowing me to clearly focus on improvement tactics and techniques.
Give myself the gift of one hour per day to exercise.
I was thinking about my personal goals and intentions for 2018, reading a few of yours online, and suddenly it hit me. Why do we treat physical exercise as a punishment? “I have to go to the gym once a day,” read our New Year’s resolutions. Each year, we shackle these sanctions on and begrudgingly drag ourselves to whatever gym or workout class we deign to do until, a few weeks later, we give up on the motivation we felt January 1 and we abandon the self-imposed suffering altogether. But isn’t spending an hour of time focusing solely on improving our own physical health a luxury?! I recently spoke to an overwhelmed, touched-out, exhausted new mother and she commented, “Exercise? Who has time for that?!” And if you ask any injured or incapacitated person what they miss most, I’m certain the ability to walk or run or move normally will make it into their list. This year, I’m viewing exercise for what it is – not a sanction, but a long-term benefit to myself and my health. I am giving myself the gift of one hour per day, uninterrupted, guilt-free, to exercise. When you consider something an incentive versus an obligation, how does it affect your level of success?
Continue where I left off with my French lessons.
Assez dit, no? This one is self explanatory. I began Rosetta Stone from the comfort of my home/car/headphones three years ago and then I slowly stopped making time for it in my weekly schedule. I began sifting through my family ancestry during my post-Christmas blues and upon discovering Jean-Baptiste from Burgundy and Louise-Sophie from Champagne, I knew I needed to return to my French studies! I’m excited to dive in and learn more about these people and the places they came from.
Organize the environment around me; simplify and declutter.
My bad habit of holiday overpacking made me feel cluttered and chaotic as I stood staring amongst the gifts and laundry piles after unloading them from the car. I just wanted a fresh, clean slate to begin the new year. With Taylor Swift songs blasting from Spotify and my hair up on top of my head I set to work tearing through closets, dividing the contents between donation boxes and consignment boxes. I felt so great after my productive little rampage I made it one of my goals to continue through every part of the house (even my computer desktop, old camera cards, etc.) to organize and streamline in 2018. Someone once told me that a person’s home or environment reflects their state of mind. I think it’s true and I believe the two can even influence one another; our cluttery habits creating a disorganized mind.
Purchase fewer, better things.
I always try to highlight investment pieces on TCG; the pieces you can feel comfortable investing in now and wearing for years to come. Once you have some nice staple pieces to plan outfits around, you can add in a few trendy items to keep your look updated and fresh. Some examples? I’ve owned my pair of tan leather Tod’s loafers for eight years now and wear them as often now as I did in the beginning; they make any outfit look more polished and they’re perfect for travel and being comfy-casual. The leather is becoming a bit worn around the edges and the soles, but I seem to love them more with every scuff and scratch. This pair is the same style as mine, only in a beautiful soft suede. I also like this pair because the hardware gives it a more edgy look. Another great classic is the Mulberry Bayswater Bag, which is now on sale in the gorgeous, tan “Oak” color I own. Mulberry is a British brand that produces tasteful, timeless bags made from the most buttery-soft leather and beloved by classic style icons such as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan Markle. There’s something special about a piece of clothing or leather good that only gets better with age; you can look at that piece and smile, thinking of how you saved for it and all the memories attached to it since then.
Continue exploring a skincare routine that works.
I’ve been a skincare and beauty fanatic for years and I receive a lot of product from companies to try. In the fall, I made a little pact with myself to use all my skincare products and samples by doing a full skincare routine each night and morning until Christmas to see if I could notice any improvements in my skin. I stuck to the pact and I definitely did notice a difference. So I decided to continue with it. Going back to the wellness and the “gift of self-care” above, this is one of those little gifts of time I can give myself each day that makes a difference in the health of my skin (after all, our skin is an organ!) and my happiness and overall stress level. This year, I want to continue exploring the brands and products I use in order to create a streamlined skincare routine that works. One of my favorite skincare tools in the past year has been the NuFace device that lifts and tones skin, improving my natural facial contours and the elasticity of my skin. Like anything else, you have to use it consistently to see results, but the results are worth the minimal effort and time involved.
Faced with a full day of bitter cold Chicago weather over the holidays, I snapped these hiker boots up to protect me from that Lake Michigan wind while still looking stylish around the city. The hiker style, weatherproof leather, and rubber lug soles conjure images of après-ski mountain activities while the 3.5 inch heel lengthens the leg and makes these booties appropriate for even the most discerning city slicker. My favorite feature? The cozy shearling that lines the opening and tongue of this boot. Style them with black or red laces; these darlings come with both. Prefer flats in the winter? Take a peek at this flat hiker style from the same brand.
While I love a good wellie, the white residue these charming British boots create can be rather (rawther) frustrating. Once you’ve invested in a pair of great wellies, this rubber care kit under $25 just makes sense. The kit includes Hunter’s boot shine spray, a shine-soaked sponge, and polishing cloth to keep your wellies clean and residue-free.
Named after the French mountain village of Monestier-de-Clermont, Moncler’s history as a luxe ski and outerwear brand goes back to 1952. Their hiking boots are designed to worn and enjoyed on all your wintry adventures for years to come. But they’re not all about function; with buttery-smooth vachetta leather exterior and a rubber tread sole emblazoned with the colors of the French flag these boots make a fashion statement as well. Despite their lofty price tag, these boots are selling out quickly everywhere. If you’ve been looking for the perfect investment boot, don’t wait too long on these beauties!
4. Best Socks for Tall Boots: Hunter Mid-Calf Charcoal Socks
There’s something incredibly perfect about this pair of mid-calf socks in cozy two-tone charcoal yarn peeking out of a tall pair of boots. My favorite boots to pair these with are the Hunter Balmoral and Sorel Joan of Arctic options I’ve included in this collage.
5. Best Wellie Socks for Short Boots: Cable Knit Fleece Socks
While the shorter wellie style is my favorite, they can be a bit chilly since there’s a gap between the leg and the boot. These cozy fleece socks fill up the gap with a delightfully charming cable knit overhang around the top.
6. The Essential Boot: Hunter Short Original Rain Boots
If you add one pair of winter boots to your collection, let these short Hunter wellies be them. While these charming boots aren’t intended to be winter boots, it’s their waterproof quality and tread soles that make them the perfect boots for trudging through snow and ice. Wondering how to make them a little cozier? Add the shearling insole into the bottoms and tuck in the fleece wellie socks. Suddenly you, my brilliant darling, have both charming rain boots and cozy snow boots in your weatherproof arsenal.
These boots are for those of you bracing sub-zero temps this winter; I honestly don’t think I’ve ever worn a warmer boot! Their waterproof construction keeps snow and slush out and their rubber soles provide traction on icy surfaces. Faux fur cuff and washable, recycled felt inner boot provide extra warmth. And for being so functional and warm, I have to admit, they are pretty cute with leggings and a giant, cozy sweater or parka.
I was so thrilled when I found these shearling wellie inserts I immediately took to Instagram Stories to share my discovery with you! I’ve loved wearing my wellies for years but their one downside was, despite the easy-to-clean waterproof exterior that begs for snow and slush, they remained too drafty and uninsulated to wear in the winter. These insoles correct that problem, making our beloved wellies appropriate for all seasons and even more comfortable.
9. Best Boots for Exploring: Hunter Balmoral with Adjustable Sides
My husband and I often comment that we feel so at peace when in wide-open spaces with lush trees and dogs hopping through the tall grasses beside us. Even if we’re not trudging up hills every weekend, I can still dress the part with these Balmoral boots. Though admittedly not the most feminine selection from Hunter, these boots caught my eye for both their function and British countryside style and I’ll go so far as to say they make a better investment than the original tall Hunter rain boots. Why, you ask? The more sturdy exterior and lug soles withstand a more rugged environment. Neoprene lining provide a slightly warmer, more comfortable, and definitely more water-resistant experience. Adjustable sides allow you to snug the boots up around cozy socks or let them out to provide room for wide calves (up to an extra 4″ inches of room, to be exact). Lastly, these boots have a padded footbed to make them more comfortable for all-day wear; add the shearling insoles on top and you, my dear, will find your feet outlasting even the most adventurous outdoorsmen in your group. Pair them with a cozy fisherman’s sweater and skinny jeans or leggings for a just-back-from-the-Highlands look that would impress even Her Majesty.
When I saw this top and the teensy, tiny golden sequins sprinkled across the fabric I knew it had to accompany me on our holiday travels. I’ve worn this exact outfit many times since and it has become one of my favorites. The top is flowy and comfortable; perfect for throwing on with jeans and leggings. But the light, airy fabric and hint of sparkle make it something really special. I think it would make a really cute Valentine’s Day top for dinner with the girls or a more casual date, but there are two other color options if you’re looking for something a little less festive. I’m wearing my usual size, but you could definitely go one size down because the top is designed to be oversized and flowy.