A Season of Less

I’ve always been kind of contrary. I like the idea of doing the opposite of what’s expected or what everyone else is doing. It usually puts me in a place where it’s less crowded and less chaotic and I like places like that.

Being on the verge of Christmas Chaos had me thinking today–thinking about what I could do to feel good and not overwhelmed and spent by the end of this month and the end of the year. I looked around the house and it hit me, I want less. I would love to start 2016 with less.

So here’s my plan, everyday in December I will throw out one large trash bag worth of stuff and fill another large trash bag of stuff to be donated. By the time January rolls around I’ll be ready for the new year, new projects, new ideas. I’ll have a clean (or at least cleaner) slate.

The more I thought about it the more I saw the modern logic to my plan. December used to be a time of filling your house with stuff; food stuff, indoor projects, stuff you needed to get through the long winter. Homes were literally stuffed to the rafters with the provisions needed to last until spring. It was a great idea for a little house on the prairie.

But for a modern, post-industrial household it’s not only unnecessary, it’s demoralizing and frustrating. With so much cheap (really, really cheap) stuff available we’ve filled our houses to the rafters with knickknacks, geegaws, gag gifts, maybe-someday clothes, etc. Today, Cyber Monday, my email inbox was overloaded with millions more items I could add to the pile, each for a price so low it was hard to say no. All that stuff looks great until the boxes arrive and you realize you have no place to put it.

I’m not religious and don’t really celebrate anything this time of year but this year I’m changing all that. 2015 is the start of Declutter December. Anyone and everyone can celebrate but it works especially well for contrarians, people like me who tend to run in the opposite direction when I see the crowds approaching. Something tells me I won’t have to wake at 2 a.m. to go battle someone for the last box of trash bags.

So, who’s with me? Who else wants to declare today the start of Declutter December?

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Work From Home Wardrobe – Fall 2015

It’s true, when you work from home you can spend all day in your PJ’s. (Trust me, I have.) But eventually you’re gonna need to leave the house and it’s nice to put on something besides yoga pants and an over-sized tee shirt (standard writer’s uniform).

Since I don’t work in an office it’s hard to justify spending much on clothes but I like to get a few new pieces each season. I’m rushing fall, I know. It’s still closer to 100 than 50 degrees here in Memphis but the new season of Project Runway and back to school have fall clothes on my brain. I perused my go-to fashion sites (see list below) and a few stores and came up with the following list of key fall pieces.

  1. Utility Jacket. utility jacket collageMy niece wore one on her two-week trip to Europe. It was a great choice because it went with almost all her casual clothes, had a ton of pockets and was roomy enough to layer another jacket or sweater underneath on cold days. I have one that I picked up a few years ago at Target that I love to wear with jean or dress it up more with black pants and animal prints.

 

 

click image to see more on my Pintrest fall fashion page
click image to see more on my Pintrest fall fashion page

2. Leather leggings. I would be more accurate to say Pleather leggings (no way I’m springing for the real thing). They look a lot like black skinny jeans but with a little more edge. Bonus: they are super comfy for travel. Most of the mall stores will have them for around $15-20 a pair. A small investment to look a little more cosmo or dangerous.

 

click image to see more accessories on my Pintrest page
click image to see more accessories on my Pintrest page

3. Gold Jewelry. It’s easy to stack necklaces, rings and bracelets in simple geometric shapes and not have them look overwhelming. Charming Charlies has an entire wall of short, medium and long necklaces for you to mix and create your own look.

 

 

 

There’s a few other trends I’ve got my eye on like fringe. It would be easy to add a fringy skirt or sweater to pieces I already have for the holidays. Chunky heeled shoes are growing on me too. I’ve already pinned a few pair of leather ones to my Pintrest accessory page (click here to see.)

What trends are you adding for fall? Which ones are you avoiding? Comment below and link to your latest pins or favorite sites. If you’re not sure yet, here’s a list of links to a few of my favorite fashion bloggers. Click on each name to visit the site.

Wendy’s Lookbook

Penny Chic

The Budget Fashionista

 

2015 In The Key of Life

2014 was a huge year for me. I turned 50, jumped out of an airplane, got a tattoo (my first), published two novels, and went on two cruises. It was a World Cup year (a big deal in my world) and my favorite novel ever, Outlander, came to life in a fantastic series. In the midst of all this my husband was sent on a four-month business trip and we had all the typical drama of a family with two teenagers. It’s enough to make me exhausted just reading about it. Having lived it (and loved most of it) I am ready for 2015. Because 2015 will be a year of slower, quieter, less…and I’m really excited about that too.

I have a Greek key of life bracelet my mom gave me. She told me the design (see exhibit A) represents the pattern of life, some up, some forward, some down and even a step or two back. It’s based on the twisting, turning flow of a river. I love the design because it’s beautiful, simple, ancient and wise. 

Exhibit A

2014 was definitely a moving-up-and-forward year and now ancient wisdom tells me its time for slowing down and taking a step back to gain perspective. It’s not that I plan to sit and watch the year go by. It’s more a time to start planning and laying ground work for another banner year in 2016 and/or beyond. It’s a time to recover and regroup–a much-needed lull.

I’ve already started meandering into my lull year. Over the Christmas break I cleaned out closets. (A cheap thrill if there ever was one.) I saw the movie “Wild” and I was re-inspired to get back to hiking, something I’ve always loved, but rarely made time for. There is nothing like a walk through the woods alone to recharge my batteries. I love to cook, but 2014 was a year of hastily thrown together dinners that took minimal time away from all the other excitement. In this slower year I can make time for made-from-scratch. 

I’m still writing, and have plans for at least two new novels in 2015, but I’ve vowed to get off the marketing merry-go-round long enough to develop a solid platform. Self-publishing is a rapidly changing industry where you can chase your dreams down all kinds of expensive, dead-end paths. I took a few of those detours last year and learned a some frustrating lessons. This is a good time for me to stop and put the horse before the cart before I start out again. 

The other thing I love about the Greek key is that it is continuous. In America we tend to see trends as one way. We love the drama of the slippery-slope theory–“one step in the wrong direction and its all down hill from there.” But ancient wisdom (and my own life thus far) tells me otherwise. There will be set backs and slow years. There will be days and even years when you seem to be spinning your wheels. Times when the most exciting thing you could put on Facebook would be “Cleaned out a closet today!” Which can suck when your friends are all posting pics of the degree they just finished or their dream vacation in Europe. That’s when I remember that all those cleaned out spaces make room for new things in my life or make it easier to pick up and move on to something or someplace new in my next up year.