Simplicity

About That Dress You Seriously Love But Never Wear

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Do you own any clothes like this? You love it. You look great it in. You may even get compliments on it! And you think to yourself “this is a great dress.”

And yet. You never wear it. Never. At least not anymore.

I had a dress like this that hung in my closet barely worn for the last four years. I bought it following my first pregnancy when I was out of maternity clothes but still appreciated those loose, breezy cuts. So now when I put it on, I feel like I’m back in that slightly awkward stage. Ultimately, I don’t feel good in it.

These are the hardest clothes to get rid of. The things that look great, fit, are in perfect shape, etc. But you just don’t wear them for whatever reason. The thing is, there always is a reason. It just may not be clear what that reason is.

What to do? Commit to wearing it within a time period (say, two weeks) or it is gone. More than likely you won’t wear it, so you can even just skip this step. Where did my dress end up? Consigned. And it felt so good—better than I imagined—to get it out of my closet.

Do you have anything like this?

Simple Pleasures: Community Loaves’ Fresh Bread

Although I would love to be someone who bakes her own bread, it isn’t in the cards these days. Thankfully we can still enjoy homemade bread from Community Loaves in Murray Hill. Baked with organic ingredients (many of which are locally sourced) in a shop that feels more like a friend’s kitchen than a commercial venue, the bread and other bakery treats are worth going out of the way to get. On top of that, they don’t store their breads in any plastic, which is the real reason I started buying from them. (We are slowly removing all plastic as much as possible from our lives, and it is quite challenging.) We indulged in a few treats after a morning swim today and devoured every bit.

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Community Loaves
1120 Edgewood Avenue South
Jacksonville, Florida
w-f: 7:30-2pm
sat: 10-3pm

If you cannot get to their primary location, they also sell a selection of their menu at Grassroots and Native Sun (this is where I often get it), as well as a few other places. At these locations, the bread also comes in paper bags, so not to worry about the plastic here either. At $6 a loaf, it is only $1 more than an organic pre-sliced loaf from a traditional grocer, and it is far superior in quality. Not to mention it supports lovely people in our own community.

A few tips: this is not your regular bread. It isn’t sliced, and it should not be until you are ready to eat it. Yes, this is slightly less convenient, but aren’t most things that way that are healthier and safer? And after a little while, the extra step or two becomes the norm. For storage purposes: keep your bread in its paper bag and then either store in a wood or stainless steel bread box or a loosely wrapped plastic bag (yes, it is plastic, but at least not touching the bread). Do not place it in a sealed ziploc (as I have!), as this cuts off too much moisture. If the bread gets too hard, loosen your container a bit. If it gets too soft, open it up a bit. In the future, I might buy a few loaves at once and freeze them for convenience, but I’d like to ask the owners about this first.

We are still new to eating bread this way, and both children are not completely on board, but we are working on it. If you go, don’t miss the savory stuffed baguettes. A certain one-year-old I know tore this to bits, and I was able to sneak a few bites, too.

6 Ways to Feel Less Busy

sweet asylum

Many of my clients feel much too busy. They are overworked, overwhelmed and over feeling this way. Some things are out of their hands, but there is usually quite a lot that is possible to change. Once we pinpoint what those things are and create an action plan, I can see their shoulders begin to relax and their brows unfurrow. These are some of the things I discuss with my clients who want to feel less busy:

1. Stop using the word busy. What we say to ourselves and to others has a significant impact on our perception of things. “Busy” unfortunately has become the new “fine” in conversations (e.g. “How are you?” “Busy!”). When I was pregnant with our first child, I knew I wanted our lives to slow down. I became committed to ridding “busy” from my casual vocabulary as much as possible. It still slips out from time to time, and I cringe when it happens. For the most part, we are as busy as we choose to be. Not only that, we are not even usually as busy as we claim to be! No doubt children, careers, homes, etc all create an exceptional amount of work. But all of those things are also such blessings. We can choose to see them as aggravations that take up our days, or we can realize that these are our choices and how we perceive them has a tremendous impact on our mental and emotional health.

2. Avoid multi-tasking. I do violate this sometimes, and whenever I do, I always find I’m left with an icky feeling. Neither thing is done well, and it takes me longer to go back and correct my mistakes. Single-tasking is becoming more popular for good reason.

3. Set aside the iphone/ipad/laptop/TV. If we actually clocked our time wasted on these devices, it probably adds up to a whole lot more than we care to admit. Think of how much more happily (and peacefully) we could spend that time—reading, relaxing, visiting with a friend, going on a walk, taking a long bath, etc. My trick for putting down my phone: I ask myself “will I be glad how I spent this moment of free time?” Of course the answer is always “no,” and I usually find a better alternative pretty quickly.

4. Choose to do less. There are some things in life we have to do. Everything else is a choice. Figure out what you can stop doing, and then stop. Maybe not forever, but at least for now. Buy a Halloween costume instead of sewing it yourself. Quit being the family videographer and let someone else take a turn. Drop out of the playgroup that isn’t meaningful. Pass on the big project at work and go home earlier to the family. Forget yoga, sleep in and take a walk with your kids instead. Pick up takeout instead of cooking for that dinner party. Cancel the trip to visit those relatives who are just the pits. And for pity’s sake, give up the scrap-booking if it doesn’t bring you joy!

5. Incorporate quiet, mindful activities when you can. From small moments in the car to larger chunks of time spent meditating, walking, swimming, painting, kayaking or whatever activity puts you in state of flow. It is important to bring quiet to our days, especially when young ones are about. These peaceful periods re-energize us in extremely valuable ways.

6. Get help if you can. If you are able to, consider hiring help—with the lawn, the house, childcare, or whatever it might be for you. If we are losing our minds trying to do it all ourselves, what is the point? Sometimes our time is far more valuable than money. Consider it an investment in your mental health.

My Jam Jar Theory and Pursuing a Simpler Life

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Have you ever burst into tears trying to open a jam jar? I have.

My Jam Jar Theory applies when you experience something seemingly insignificant and mundane, and it pushes you completely and totally over the edge. Like failing to open a jam jar. It usually occurs when you are precariously balancing life—just eking it out—so when presented with the question “should I freak out about this tiny little thing that doesn’t even matter?” your only possible answer is “don’t mind if I do!”

This nutty theory of mine applies all too well to motherhood. It isn’t usually the piles of daily challenges and aggravations that throw a mother into a tailspin. After all, we are moms, which is a just another word for tap-dancing warriors. We can handle most anything. Except maybe a stuck jam jar. Or a spilt bottle of pumped milk. Or a full garbage bag that ripped open on the way out to the trash.

It was during these moments I knew I was trying to do too much. And something had to change.

For me, and my family, that change was pursuing a simpler life. It felt very different at first. And sort of hard to figure out how to even do. But in the long run, it has been incredible. Even with two children, our life somehow seems simpler than it was a few years ago. If you are thinking of doing something similar in your life and curious, here are some of the changes we made:

Less stuff in general. I’ve always been extremely organized, but we still had a lot of stuff. A lot. Even with two additional people living in our 1,500 square foot house, we now have less stuff than we did four years ago. Crazy, right? And I cannot describe how good it feels. There is less visual clutter, less to clean, less to keep up with, just less to think about. Purging stuff becomes addicting.

Fewer clothes. I eliminated a majority of my wardrobe about four years ago. I still have more than a true minimalist, but far less than the average person. Just thinking about what is in my closet inspires me to get rid of more. With fewer clothes, there are fewer decisions, less laundry, less to keep up with, and I actually like what I own a whole lot more.

Simpler food. Most nights our dinners consist of roasted vegetables and a grain or some sort of salad. We are not fancy eaters. Clean, simple food is not only healthy, but it is faster to shop for, easier to make and less to clean up.

Fewer commitments. We say no a lot. That’s the honest truth. Spending time with family and friends is our top priority, and because of that, we really started putting it first. This can feel difficult, especially in the beginning (and especially if you have always said yes!), but the rewards are sweet in the long run.

Less media. We ditched cable about five years ago. We have Netflix and Amazon Prime (but we didn’t in the beginning!), so we still watch things, but it isn’t regular TV. No commercials and only the shows we care about. Did I mention no commercials? We are completely out of the loop on so many things, and it couldn’t feel better. Part of less media is the news, to which I gladly say “nope, no thank you!” Might make us ostriches, but that’s fine by me. We get our (limited) news online if we really need it, and even that is very minimal. News is usually only the worst or the absolute worst things happening in the world (Joanna described toddlers’ emotions like this once, which I also can relate to :)).

Whenever I face a Jam Jar experience, I know it is time to reassess and take things easier. We all handle these things so differently—what have you found to be helpful?

4 Easy Tips for Feeling More Put Together While Home with Children

I recently helped a client clean out her wardrobe. She called me because she felt like a mess and didn’t have anything to wear while home with her two children all day. Not only is this woman adorable, but so are her clothes. So what’s the problem?

She wasn’t honoring herself or her season of life.

Just because we are with children all day—who are totally messy, I get it—doesn’t mean we should ignore our own appearance. Part of feeling good is looking good. We need to treat ourselves and our lives with enough respect to say “this day matters, too.” We would never dress like schleps for another job, so why this one?

If you find yourself in a similar place (and I think we all have at one time or another) and would like to make a change, here are some ideas:

1. Put on real clothes. Shockingly easy, but why is this so hard? Most of my clients live in Florida, and yes, it is very outdoorsy, health-oriented and hot here. We love our workout clothes—me included. But there is something about wearing “real” clothes that just feels better. Choose simple, washable pieces with crisp, clean lines. Nothing clingy or that needs to be ironed. Tunics and shorts or white jeans are my summer go-to. Yes, the clothes will get sweaty if you go on a stroll. Yes, they might stain if the baby spits up again. But who cares? What are we saving them for? Honor yourself and put on something you feel good in. It was a radical mental shift when I started doing this with my first baby. Did my client have “real clothes” to wear? Yes, plenty of them—all cute, comfortable and just the right thing. She just needed to give herself permission to wear them.

2. Consider new workout clothes. Exercising or just hanging around the house isn’t an excuse to wear stretched out or old clothes. Ultimately, we don’t feel good dressing like this, and perhaps our partners don’t love it either. So if you really are more of the yoga-pants-type (rather than real clothes), invest in some new pieces that fit and look great. A few black leggings and non-clingy gray tops will go a long way.

3. Take time to groom. I totally, totally understand feeling like you don’t have time to pee much less do your hair or anything else. So squeeze it in where you can. Let the baby cry a minute longer while you shave your legs. I file my nails while my children play in the bath. Dry shampoo is a lifesaver when you don’t have time to wash your hair. Develop a one minute makeup and hair routine (it is possible!). The tiniest bit of effort goes such a long way—in how we look and feel. And it shows our children that we matter, too. They can learn to wait a few minutes longer so we can take care of ourselves.

4. Update your underthings. I’ve seen a lot of undie drawers, and you guys, everyone needs some new underwear! It doesn’t have to be super sexy and amazing, but it does need to be its original color, not stretched out and hole free. Same with bras. A bra that feels good will completely change your day. If you are still breastfeeding and don’t want to invest, that’s totally understandable, so find something affordable for the meantime. I’ve worked with too many well-dressed, beautiful women who are wearing bras that are ten years old. We are better than this, friends!

If we don’t expect this time, our families certainly won’t provide it. No one is going to knock on our door and say “Hey beautiful lady underneath! Let me hold the baby while you go wash your hair.” We have to do this for ourselves. Children can learn to wait.

It won’t happen every day, but we can try, right? And we will feel so much better for it.