This week I thrifted: Pendleton blazer

Vintage thrifted Pendleton blazer; thrifted J Crew sweater; thrifted Joe's Jeans; Coach ballet flats

There are certain dreams I've held on to since I  left girlhood and became a grown-up. Some are small, like the ability to make it through a day without spilling something on myself, and programming the clock on my DVD player, and parallel parking without backing up on the curb or hitting the car in front of me. But some dreams are bigger. These dreams, the big dreams, are so big that I don't often allow myself to think them, much less pin any real hope on them coming true. They include things like having hair exactly like Zooey Deschannel's. And becoming an equestrian. And finding the perfect pair of jeans in just the right wash (slightly dark) and cut (slim, but not too skinny.) And finally being able to run more than five miles straight without dry-heaving. You know - the big dreams.

Since I began thrifting as a broke high school student, I've been looking for a white or off-white Pendleton blazer. The blazer should be single-breasted and shrunken; fully lined and made from a pristine wool; and absent of moth holes and stains. It should cost less than $6. And it absolutely has to be made by Pendleton, a brand I've long associated with quality, tradition, and Americana. This blazer has been my Holy Grail for twenty years. When I go thrifting, I often head straight to the blazer section in the vain hope that my Pendleton will somehow, inexplicably, be waiting for me.

This week I found it.

I suppose I should focus my energy on improving my parallel-parking skills now.




Giveaway winner announced! Missoni for Target cosmetics case & Starbucks gift card

Well, this is embarrassing. I completely forgot to draw a winner for the November 18th Missoni for Target and Starbucks giveaway. My bad. Thankfully, a kind reader drew my attention to this oversight yesterday. Otherwise I would probably have continued on, totally oblivious.

The winner of the giveaway is...

Christina Luna!

Christina said:

1. You absolutely do not love rompers! Hahaha I nearly peed reading that one!
2. I like the post where you went to the John Frieda event with all the pictures and where you got your make-up done! I loved loved LOVED that outfit, I actually put it on my inspiration board for fall! I also really love the Sunday smile posts to catch up on anything I've missed.
3. New York!
4. Yes, I think you should consider it!


I'm sitting here drooling over my keyboard with hopes of winning that Missoni make up bag! I wasn't financially fit to splurge at Target, but I'm hoping that soon enough I'll have a piece for myself!

Thanks to everyone for entering! Christina, please send me an email with your shipping address so I can send you your winnings!

I have another giveaway planned next week to celebrate my one-year blog anniversary, and it's gonna be a good one!  Stay tuned!


The importance of being alone


Long, long ago, before I got married and had children, I wondered about the lives of the adults I passed while running between class and work. They were out in the middle of the day, doing nothing. I saw them in book stores, sprawled out on armchairs immersed in comic book and poetry. They lounged around coffee shops, enjoying a nice dark roast Columbian half-caf. They languished over meals in restaurants, debating between something healthy like soup and salad or the chicken parmesan lunch special. They joked with the waitress. And they had the gall to jog, right through my neighborhood, in the middle of the day. What was the deal with these freewheeling slackers who wandered around my supermarket, reading labels off the side of cereal boxes? They looked perfectly content just being alone.

Eventually, I married and had kids, and I became one of those people you see out alone in the middle of the day. In between dropping off my kids at school, and picking them up, there's a nice gaping hole smack dab in the middle of my day. It's taken me awhile to adjust to this hole. It benefits my family more for me to be at home than work outside, and I cherish the rewards being a stay-at-home mom offers. But managing, and embracing, my alone-time has been another matter.

There's an emerging body of research which suggests that despite the fact that we are social animals, spending time alone can be good for us. Blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them. Just as regular exercise and healthy eating make our minds and bodies work better, so can being alone.

That said, there is an important distinction to be established between solitude and loneliness. From the outside, they look a lot alike. But loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude is being alone without being lonely. Solitude is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying. It is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves and replenishes us.

Being by yourself is one thing when you're at home, within the safety and privacy of your own space. But it's something else entirely when you're out in public. To sit alone in a bar or bookstore or restaurant full of people is a liberating experience. No one cares what you're thinking or wearing. No one cares that you've ordered dessert for dinner. And no one cares whether you've made a habit out of being alone, or are attempting to enjoy some solitude for the first time.

I've gotten pretty good at filling up my alone time, and I've grown to look forward to an afternoon with no one to entertain except myself. So now I present to you a list of my top five favorite things to do alone:

  1. Seeing a movie: A midday movie is not only cheap, but surprisingly joyful. Theaters are usually empty, and you don't have to share your popcorn or soda with anyone else. There's no need to make small talk while waiting for the previews to start. And if you hate the movie, and want desperately to leave before it ends, there's no one stopping you. 
  2. Drinking in a bar: There's a lovely little Irish pub near my house, with snug little booths and a fireplace and an enticing selection of bourbons. I'm not much of a drinker, but on a chilly winter evening an escape to this pub is a simple refuge. Yes, it takes courage for a woman to sit in a bar and enjoy a drink alone. But bartenders don't care.
  3. Reading in a bookstore: I love everything about bookstores - the way they smell, the easy escape a stack of books provides, the quiet hush that surrounds me and my fellow readers. Give me a stack of magazines and cup of coffee in the cafe and I'm a happy girl.
  4. Going for a walk (or run): I doubt few of us would have a problem leaving the house for a walk around the neighborhood. But have you ever done so without listening to music, or talking on your phone, or checking for texts every few minutes? I'm always surprised by the little things I notice when I'm out for a walk with just my thoughts for companionship.
  5. Thifting: I love thrifting, period, whether with friends or on my own. But there's a certain amount of pleasure in wandering around a thrift store by myself. The act of thrifting lends itself to leisurely browsing and daydreams about how items ended up getting donated and who owned them previously.
Now I ask you: Do you enjoy spending time alone? What are some favorite things you enjoy doing by yourself? Have you ever found it challenging to enjoy alone time?



Almost daily outfit of the day: x' (shorts) + y2 (tights) = k e2 (ugh)

Old Navy sweater; thrifted Gap gingham shirt; Gap Outlet shorts; We Love Colors tights; thrifted vintage Cole Haan boots; thrifted vintage satchel

When I was younger, my arch nemesis was math. I hated math. I moaned and groaned through lessons at school. I procrastinated on my homework. I flunked tests in a tragically magnificent manner, earning single-digit scores that led to painful conferences between my parents and teachers. It became kind of a family joke, Elissa and her math problems. Eventually my parents found before and after-school tutors, and I spent long, long, long hours sitting through private instruction, watching the clock tick depressingly towards oblivion.

The worst thing about my math disability wasn't my failing grades. No, the worst thing was the hope and optimism I felt before each test, only to discover that I'd flunked. One particularly tragic exam from my junior year comes to mind. I was absolutely convinced I'd not only passed that midterm, but aced it. Finally I had conquered my math demon. My parents could stop shelling out money on tutors and spend it on something useful, like a pony. Schoolmates would line up at my door, begging me for the secret formula to my math genius. My cousins would stop making fun of me for my inability to calculate fourth-grade fractions. I had made it.

If memory serves me correctly, my grade on that exam hovered in the forties.

I feel that today's shorts and tights outfit strikes a similar chord. When I got dressed this morning, I was sure I'd nailed this look. I carefully studied images on Pinterest with women in shorts and tights, and took inspiration from their denim and boots. I waltzed out of my house with a confident strut. Now, I'm not so convinced. And if a quadratic equation exists that can solve the problem, I'm beyond hope.






On Sundays I smile - Week in review November 27th

On Sundays I review the past week and I smile. I share these moments with you.


This week was Thanksgiving, yet somehow I managed to avoid taking food porn photographs of both our feast and my kids, husband and I enjoying our meal. Come to think of it, that's not such a terrible thing. There is no reason for there to be photographic evidence of our abundant dinner and us gorging ourselves on our abundant dinner. I will admit, however, that I made a killer chocolate pudding pie, a desert that had become tradition on our Thanksgiving menu.




This Thanksgiving week was the first in six years that I didn't join the mobs out on black Friday. I just didn't have the energy to stay up until four am and endure endless lines and shoppers fighting over waffle irons and $5 graphic tee shirts. Instead, I saved my money for a shopping excursion to the historic McKinney square during small business Saturday. The square has some great buildings built before 1900. I stumbled upon an old prison, which now holds offices for a law firm. How ironic.



I also managed to find a little time for thrifting this week, during which I found these two hideous Christmas sweaters. My husband's office holiday party is ugly Christmas sweater themed, and I have to decide which one of these beauties to wear. Do I go with the beaded and sequined navy mock turtleneck (a fashion crime in a multitude of ways) or the neon green with detachable Christmas tree and mittens? Which one is more horrifying?



I also found this vintage sequined slip dress, just in case I decided to forgo the ugly Christmas sweater and dress as an actual Christmas tree. This did not come home with me - I refuse to spend $25 on anything aside from a piece of furniture or vintage fur coat at a thrift store.


There was also this gorgeous, mint condition, fully lined vintage leather midi skirt with pockets...which sadly doesn't fit me. It's absolutely perfect for winter. I thrifted it at a newly discovered store that lacked dressing rooms. However, if you wear a size two I'd love to sell it to you - email me for details!

Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Kate The Geek - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feel good.

While I'm trying to determine which ugly sweater to wear to the holiday party, catch up on everything from Dress With Courage this week:
As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about following me through Google Friend Connect, and tweeting with me on Twitter (@dresscourage). You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram under Dresscourage and on Facebook.



Fashion Beauty Friend Friday: Alter egos

With the idea that we all fill a lot of different shoes and work a lot of different roles in our everyday lives, Lili of Relatable Style thought it would be interesting to ask the members of Fashion Beauty Friend Friday to create an outfit about the person they would like to be if circumstances allowed, or the person they thought they would be now when they were little.

Here were Lili's instructions on her blog:

The outfit can be anything: Who you are deep inside, who you always thought you would be, or who you would be right now if circumstances allowed. Maybe you are a total diva, but your rural living environment does not exactly call for satin gloves up to the elbows and feather boas? Or you always thought you'd be a rockstar? A mom? Maybe you feel out of place in today's world sometimes and you could imagine yourself as a poet in the Victorian era? Or travelling the world with your camera, shooting for Vogue? Whatever it is, show us! You can also write a few (or many many) lines about the background of your Alter Ego, if you like.

For my fashion alter-ego, I chose a 1920's flapper.


Flappers were the epitomes of modernity. They were androgynous, working women who paradoxically had the sexual appeal of sirens. Defying convention, Flappers smoked and openly drank alcohol, particularly daring during 1920s' Prohibition. When darkness fell, jazz clubs were the haunts of Flappers, who danced provocatively wearing rouge on their knees.

Flapper style

Flappers’ decadence in behavior was matched by their daring style of dress, derived from moves such as the Charleston Dance that accompanied Jazz Age music. Dancing and increasing participation in outdoor sports brought about the end of corseted constraints from the Victorian/Edwardian periods. Bras became new commodities as they replaced corsets; pantaloons were discarded in favor of panties. Waistlines migrated to the hips on Flappers' dresses, which were unconstructed. Rising hemlines bared the leg; rayon stockings were worn with garter belts.

I'm drawn to the Flapper era because it signaled a new freedom for women. Dress was seen as a symbolic gesture of permission for flappers to adorn themselves and behave as they wished. Flappers were feminine, but also broke gender barriers as they participated in sports, voted, and worked outside the home. The short skirts and bobbed hair of the flapper were symbols of emancipation. I'm intrigued by the symbolism of their appearance and enjoy how they used fashion to signal a new change in women's rights.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What would your fashion alter-ego be? What would she wear?

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday was created by Katy Rose of Modly Chic. Become a member of the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group to join in the discussion!


Thanksgiving


Today is Thanksgiving. The only things I want to do today are spend time with my family, wear stretchy pants and enjoy a delicious dinner, and I assume the same is true for you, so I'm not going to spend hundreds of words talking about fashion, body image or other related topics. This is a special day and you should spend it telling people you are thankful for them. 

I'm thankful for you.


Being your own best friend


 I have this person who follows me around all day. "Idiot!" she yells when I delete the wrong email. "Fat cow," she sneers, when I order an entree instead of a salad for dinner. "Lazybones!" she shrieks, if I turn over for an extra five minutes in bed.

It's very wearing, this constant litany of  putdowns and insults. And oddly enough, despite this person being so severe and critical, she doesn't succeed in making me change my behavior. She certainly doesn't build up my confidence or make me feel good about myself in any way. And yet I find it very hard to shake her off.

Compare her with my real friends. These wonderful women tell me I look great when I've made an effort to look good. They tell me to relax, that I'm being too hard on myself. They remind me of things I have accomplished, of things I've done that have made me happy.

The thing is, this other person is me. She is a collection of all the negative judgments, late-night terrors and critical harshness that I have ever experienced. And the really crazy thing is that she is the one I listen to.

Lately I've been thinking about what it means to really love yourself. I've come to the conclusion that doing so is the same as being your own best friend. You enjoy spending time alone; are appreciative of your strengths; and forgive yourself after making mistakes. Best friends are kind, supportive, and respectful of each other. They speak to one another with kindness, know when to offer the other a pep talk, and honor one another's opinions.

It's pretty powerful stuff, this being my own best friend business. But the challenge becomes when we recognize how hard we are on ourselves all of the time. Whether I'm bashing my appearance, my job as a parent, my writing skills, the way I'm dressed or the way I treat my husband, it's more often than not that I'm closer to my own worst enemy than best friend.

I think that being our own best friend becomes a priority when thinking about ways to improve body image. It's a surefire way to turn wanting to have a healthy body imagine into actually having a healthy body image. Think about it: Your best friend would never tell you your thighs are too big or your stomach too jiggly. She would never say that you don't deserve to go out on a Saturday night because you've gained ten pounds, or that you should wait to buy new clothes until you lose weight. She'd never call you or your body cruel names. She'd never tell you to put off living life to the fullest until your body is "perfect." And she'd never think less of you because of the way you look.

I believe we can talk to ourselves about anything. Just as we put ourselves down, we can pull ourselves up. The dark side of each of us, the insulting inner voice, can be challenged and replaced with something more nurturing. If we pay attention to the way we talk to ourselves in private we can learn to correct the harshness and become our own best friend. One way to get rid of that negative voice we hear muttering in our ear is to ask ourselves, "What would my best friend say to me in this moment?" Whatever the answer is -  be it that you're beautiful, or capable, or intelligent, or talented - say that to yourself, and make the choice to believe it.


Brahmin and Vogue: A Perfect Pair

Last week, Brahmin in conjunction with Vogue hosted a preview event for Brahmin's new store in the Dallas Galleria. Specifically, this event introduced new designs for fall 2011 - the Olivia Rose in Luna Polka Dot, with a signature hanging rose detail and quirky polka dot pattern.



The event was really fun! While everyone in attendance enjoyed cocktails and a DJ, it was the bags that received the most attention.








The brand, which has been around since 1982, is trying to increase awareness, and working with Vogue will do just that. There is a beautiful Brahmin ad in the November issue of Vogue showing two bags from fall - their rich red leather Kelsey tote, and their smokey grey Tyler bag, meant to attract a younger working professional. Brahmin's products are artfully crafted and look luxurious, yet are affordable compared to luxury leather goods from high-end brands.


My greatest love for Brahmin lay in the wide range of colors and styles available in their leather goods. From rich browns and smokey greys to snake-print and embossed crocodile, there was a bag that would go with every piece in my wardrobe. I will definitely keep up with Brahmin to see what they do next!







Almost daily outfit: A Vogue idea 11.21.11

Gap sweater; thrifted J Crew silk skirt; Urban Outfitters ankle boots; We Love Colors tights; Vintage Martini clutch

Last week I was invited by Vogue Magazine and Bramin to attend a sneak preview of a new store opening in Dallas. First of all, I cannot believe I just typed out that sentence. Never in my life did I believe I'd be invited by Vogue Magazine to anything, much less a new store opening. Suddenly I was Carrie Bradshaw, strutting through the front door of the Conde Naste building in excited anticipation. Carrie understood the magnitude of that moment. Her arrival at Vogue signaled that she'd found her way to her metaphorical home, her Mecca - Vogue, where she belonged. And now, the same had happened to me. Well, sort of.


When I received the email inviting me to the event, I had a very minor heart attack. What did one wear, exactly, to an event hosted by Vogue? I couldn't exactly borrow Carrie's gorgeous asymmetrical Vivienne Westwood suit. But I could put a newly thrifted J Crew silk skirt to use. I had a great time at the event, but the highlight was when the Vogue accessories representative complimented me on my neon striped sweater and clutch. Carrie, eat your heart out.







Procrastination, or things I would rather be doing right now.

Confession: I have started and scrapped this post about 62789162 times. I've cowardly blamed it on writer's block -  the lack of inspiration to write and resulting crippling frustration that leaves many writers cowering underneath their desks. But I'd be lying. No, I'm not struggling with that. What I have is blogger's procrastination. Blogger's procrastination means you have a ton of amazing ideas and personal outfit pics, and a willing audience waiting to read them, but you lack the fortitude to collect them. The mere act of putting words down seems overwhelmingly tedious and irritating. Instead, you bide your time doing things you might normally ignore but suddenly consume you.

For example, here is a list of things I would rather be doing right now than writing this post:
 
  • Taking a nap: The other day, I had this intense three-hour meeting with my pillow. That's what I'm calling naps from now on. There are few things more glorious than climbing into bed during the day and dozing off. And naps are one of the things you always want to do when you're procrastinating.
  • Reading magazines: My face is usually buried in a novel or 4000 page opus regarding the science behind why we buy what we do. But my brain craves the literary candy that is fashion magazines. Submerging myself in an opulent photoshoot centered around a $42,000 Chanel watch with diamonds and a black satin strap is my happy fantasy place.
  • Pinning stuff on Pinterest: It's ridiculously easy to fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole (find me at Elissa Stern) and nearly impossible to climb out. For example, let's say you're considering a post regarding leopard accessories. Leopard is hot for fall, amirite? So you pin leopard flats, and leopard scarves, and leopard short wedge boots..and knee high boots, and boots with tights and wool shorts, and wool shorts with cardigans, and cardigans, and OH MY GOD IT'S TWO O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING I NEED A SUPPORT GROUP.
  • Looking at pictures of Jeffrey Dean Morgan.



    Here is a perfectly logical statement: If I am truly meant to stop procrastinating, God would stop putting photos of Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the internet. There. Logic. It makes sense.
    • Thinking about what I'm going to have for dinner: I am not a foodie. I could never write passionate diatribes on the benefits of gluten-free cupcakes and the different varieties of sea salt. And yet I'll find myself halfway through my typical breakfast of 1/2 banana, handful of Cracklin' Oat Bran and 16 M&M's and already be contemplating dinner. More specifically, how I can avoid making dinner, because I hate to cook. There, I said it. I'm a 37 year-old stay at home mom and I hate to cook.
    • Looking a houses at Realtor.com: Tell me I'm the only one who does this. I'm perfectly happy with my own house. I like living here. Yet I sometimes find myself browsing houses - no, 10,000 square foot mansions - filled with luxurious appointments like private elevators and wine cellars and summer kitchens and cathedral wood-beamed ceilings.  I like to imagine myself living in one of these monstrosities - planting succulents in my greenhouse, swimming in my saltwater heated pool, organizing books in my oak-paneled library.
    • Refreshing my Twitter feed to see if anyone responded to or retweeted my last tweet: I didn't have a ton of friends growing up. What this means is that, as an adult, I seek validation in how people respond to my tweets. What if I tweet about how listening to Bon Iver always makes me want to wear a lot of velvet and adopt a fawn, and no one retweets it? Then I am nobody! I end up deleting said tweet and pouting for half an hour about how nobody gets my sense of humor.
    I shouldn't feel despondent about not being retweeted. In fact, I shouldn't be doing ay of these things at all. Life is too short to waste it oogling million dollar mansions and complaining about blogging. You know what would be better than doing these things? Writing about doing these things. That way, at least something would get done. And look, it did.

    Are you a procrastinator? What time-sucking activities do you engage in while procrastinating?



      On Sundays I Smile - Week in review November 20th

      On Sundays I take a moment to review the past week and I Smile. I share these moments with you.





      This week began with football and barbecue with my friends Julie and Tina. I served a pretty amazing purple cabbage slaw and a pulled pork. I was pretty proud. If I get enough requests, I'll post the recipes on the blog, which would pretty hilarious because I'm not a foodie and, as a matter of fact, avoid cooking at all costs.



      I really can't take credit for either dish - the slaw recipe was gleamed from The Pioneer Woman and my husband made the pulled pork. I did, however, insist on using Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce, which was a considerable contribution. Julie prepared pumpkin hummus while our husbands watched football, and I served as her food model.



      Earlier in the week I returned to one of my favorite vintage stores in Dallas, Dolly Python. This place is insane. An indoor flea market, antique shop and vintage store, you can find all sorts of interesting and bizarre curiosities, like a used coffin from the 1900's and vintage photographs and animal skulls and turquoise rings and neon signs and clothes that you wouldn't believe, such as this leather suit with a precious stone bird. It weighed more than my eleven year-old.


      I've become just a little obsessed with Whole Foods lately. As in, I ate lunch there three times last week. I have a problem. But it was in Whole Foods that I solidly confirmed the fact that I am on Team Pie, when this display left me drooling. (Are you Team Cake or Team Pie?)


      Dear Urban Outfitters,

      Thanks for jumping the shark on the Southwestern trend.

      Sincerely, Me.


      Nerd alert: I am a gamer. A board gamer, that is. Thankfully I live with two little board gamers of my own. This is how I spent yesterday morning. I won, by the way.

      Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Kate The Geek - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feel good.


      And by the way, the original idea for weekly smiles came from the blog Monster Cakes, which I've been obsessed with since I started reading months ago. It's amazing.


      While I'm trying to determine which pie to serve during Thanksgiving, or just buy all the pies, catch up on everything from Dress With Courage this week:


      Two blogger mentions this week:

      • My post regarding anorexia and walking without crutches was featured on Already Pretty and Those Graces. I am overwhelmed not only by the supportive comments from you, my readers, but also the inclusion of my post on both of these blogs. Be sure to jump over to them and read through their posts.

      As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

      If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about following me through Google Friend Connect, and tweeting with me on Twitter (@dresscourage). You can also follow me on Pinterest and Instagram under Dresscourage and on Facebook.




      Almost daily outfit of the day: Pattern mixing 11.19.11

      Gap blazer; vintage thrifted Diane von Furstenburg blouse; vintage thrifted skirt; Urban Outfitters wedge booties; estate sale clutch; Forever 21 bracelet
      There are three fashion terms that give me the squicks:

      1. Color blocking,
      2. Mullet skirt,
      3. Pattern mixing.
      It's taken me awhile to get comfortable with pattern-mixing. When I first came across a swooning fashion editorial featuring the trend, I was thoroughly confused. The models looked as though they'd had a party in Vogue's massive garment and accessory closet, gotten drunk on champagne, picked items at random off the racks, and gotten dressed in the dark. The next morning they were dragged out by their agents looking like hobos, albeit glamorous hobos in tweed skirts with plaid blouses and argyle sweaters and leopard belts. 


      Models can look great in almost anything. Much to my disappointment, I cannot. Despite my trepidation with the trend, I'm making baby steps into the world of pattern mixing. Using similar colors in different textures helped make it more approachable. 


      Have you attempted to pattern mix? 





      Fashion Beauty Friend Friday: I'm thankful for...

      Today is the last Friday before Thanksgiving. With the craziness of the holidays right around the corner, Katy of Modly Chic thought it would be appropriate if we took a moment out of our busy schedules to talk about the things we are most thankful for.

      While contemplating this post, I realized I don't take enough time to express gratitude for what I have. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the business of my day that I forget to take a minute and be appreciative of the things in my life that I most value. It's also hard to cultivate a sense of gratitude when I'm anxious, stressed, or otherwise unfocused. I think much of the problem is that I have trouble living in the moment - slowing down and focusing on things that are happening right now, as opposed to those from the past or in the future. Thinking about the past or future leaves me no choice but to make comparisons, which might result in the thinking that what I have right now isn't good enough.

      So, in the spirit of slowing down and expressing gratitude, here are the things I am thankful for.

      • My husband and children: I would not be who I am now without the love and support of my family. My husband is my sounding board and best friend, and has supported me throughout every challenge and dream. My children give me the gift of unconditional love, and reward me by allowing me to see life through their playful eyes. No matter what I've struggled with, my family has been there for me, and I do not have the words to express how thankful I am for their presence in my life.
      • My recovery: I wrote a post this week about my struggle with and recovery from anorexia and bulimia. Recovery is a battle I fight every single day, but it's a battle worth fighting for. I am constantly reminded of what I could have lost if I'd stayed sick. In recovery I can experience joy, and not have my vision clouded by the effects of starvation. I can eat meals out with friends without feeling ashamed. I can fully live my life.
      • The Dallas/Fort Worth area: I am a big city kind of girl, and living in Dallas suits me quite nicely. I love the uniquely Texan things that make Dallas what it is (hello, Tex-Mex.) I love that I can window shop at the Neiman Marcus flagship store; wear my cowboy boots to the rodeo; drink margaritas on any number of outdoor patios; and run on the Katy Trail. I even love the hot summers. The city of Dallas is the place I am meant to be.
      • My collection of vintage sequined tops:  There's something about sliding on a sequined top or jacket that makes me happy. The sparkle takes an otherwise boring outfit and makes it extraordinary. And it doesn't hurt that I thrifted all of these tops for less than $10. Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, I wander into my closet and try to pick out my favorite. It never fails to put me in a better mood.
          • Beaujolais Nouveau wine: I am no oeneologist. But this wine rocks my world. It only comes out the week before Thanksgiving, and people snap it up by the case. And by people, I mean myself.
          Hello, lover.
            • My passions: Who would we be without the things that inspire us? Writing, thrifting, music, and fashion brings me joy. They inspire me to create. They make me excited to wake up every day. They allow me to express who I am in a totally individual way.
            • J Brand jeans: Call me shallow, but I love a great pair of jeans. Finding the perfect pair is a quest most women spend a lifetime on. They can't be too tight, too high or low cut. The knees shouldn't stretch out. And above all else, they should be comfortable. I discovered J Brand a few years ago and let me tell you, they are worth every single penny. The magical things they do for my butt are  impossible to explain. 

            • The opportunities blogging has brought me: Blogging has brought me into a community of friends I am privileged to know. It has also introduced me to the Dallas fashion scene, and enabled me to make contacts with people in the industry I only dreamed of meeting.  Even more so, blogging has give me a place to explore the things that are important to me, and receive support for doing so from you, my amazing followers. I am so grateful you are here. Thank you for supporting me.
              As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What are you thankful for this year?
               
              Fashion Beauty Friend Friday was created by Katy Rose of Modly Chic. Become a member of the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group to join in the discussion!

              In case you missed it:


              Thrifting 101 - This week I thrifted: Vintage wool cardigan

              Vintage thrifted cardigan; thrifted Madewell pants; thrifted vintage Wrangler shirt; vintage thrifted loafers; thrifted Coach bag

              Let's start today's Thrifting 101 post with a little word association game. What pops into your head when you hear the word 'autumn?' Maybe you think of the shift in seasons from warm weather to chilly temperatures. Perhaps it leads you to remember the start of school, of freshly sharpened pencils and new school supplies and your evil 3rd grade teacher who refused to say your name correctly (thanks a lot, Mrs. Edwards.) Autumn might also trigger memories of playing in piles of fall leaves, their bright colors sprinkled across your backyard like confetti.

              When I hear the word 'autumn', I think of cardigans. That's basically it. Oh, and pumpkin things, but that's for another post. There's something joyful about a cardigan. It's warm, and snuggly, and can be worn with basically anything. I'm partial to the kind of chunky cardigans that affectionately nuzzle my neck and look as if they'd been knit by a Nordic grandmother, the kind that always has hard candies in her pocket.

              I found this vintage cardigan in a newly discovered thrift store last week for less than $3. I'd like to imagine it was worn by a 1960's collegiate as she dashed across campus, scattering leaves across the sidewalk.


              Do you have a favorite cardigan? And what do you think of when you hear the word 'autumn?'

              In case you missed it:


              Guest Post: Music mix based on a thrifted item with Parsimonia {Secondhand Style}


              Today I'm guest posting for Beth over at Parsimonia {Secondhand With Style}. Her blog is a lovely compilation of posts about secondhand finds, thrift style, and whimsical images. I was thrilled when she asked me to create a music mix based on a thrifted item. Go on over and check it out this morning. And be sure to scroll through Beth's blog - she recently won Country Living's Blue Ribbon Blogger Award. So she's kind of a big deal.


              Almost daily outfit: Dysfunctional morning 11.15.11

              Thrifted Gap cardigan; thrifted J Crew tee; Gap Outlet cargos; thifted Marc Fisher loafers; thrifted Coach satchel; thrifted Michael Kors rose gold  watch; Forever 21 and Charming Charlie bracelets

              Today I've given a lot of thought to the phrase "waking up on the wrong side of the bed." It's a really strange expression. How can any one side of the bed be deemed somehow worse than the other? It's all the same bed. There are no Bed Police. Yes there we are, on the wrong side, and in a terrible mood for no good reason.

              This morning was one of those mornings. First of all, my alarm had the audacity to go off while I was in the middle of a perfectly delicious dream featuring Gerald Butler and my super secret husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I fell out of bed and looked in the mirror, only to see through my blurry vision what looked like a hungover cast member of Celebrity Rehab. Specifically, one of the ones that rolls around the house drunk on Wild Turkey and picks fights with everyone and hasn't brushed their teeth since they became famous in the first place.

              Then I took a shower, slapped on some make-up, blew out my hair and tried to figure out what to wear. On days when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I am utterly and absolutely convinced there is Nothing To Wear. I capitalize this statement so as to underline the seriousness of the situation.  I have a closet full of clothes, yet nothing is right. It's a mystery akin to Charlie Sheen's success and the taste difference between Diet Dr. Pepper and Dr. Pepper Ten. I tried on a tee and cardigan with three different pairs of jeans. Then I put on a belt. Then I took off the belt and changed to a different cardigan. Then I changed the jeans for skinny cargos. Then I ditched all pieces for a dress and tights. Then I sat on the floor of my closet and seriously considered becoming a nudist.

              In the end, I reverted back to my original tee, cardigan and skinny cargos. I would say that this is quite a dysfunctional start to a day. And it's all my bed's fault.





              You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

              Image via We Heart It

              I was bored a lot in school. Teachers droned on about tedious things that had little relevance to my life. Like geometry. So in between lessons, I daydreamed. I daydreamed about where I wanted my life to be when I was thirty. I daydreamed about the lives of the models in my Seventeen magazine. I daydreamed about what I would do if I won a multi-million dollar lottery (let's face it, I still daydream about that.) Daydreaming was my little escape from reality. It was better than reading a book or watching television. Sure, it frequently got me into trouble, and led to long lectures from my parents (which I also daydreamed through), but it was free entertainment that gave my already overactive imagination something to chew on.

              Mostly I daydreamed about being a writer - specifically, a fashion journalist. I would be tall, and slim, and impossibly glamorous. I'd strut down Manhattan sidewalks in Gucci leather pants and red lipstick I'd received care of Chanel. I'd fly to Milan and Paris for fashion week where I'd refuse to eat carbs and mingle with photographers. Interns would chase me down for quotes. My time would be split between my Soho loft and the Buenos Aires flat I shared with my polo-playing boyfriend, which we'd decorate with austere furniture and exotic antiques picked up during international travel.

              Daydreaming gets a bad rap. In an adult context, it's usually associated with flakiness and laziness. Call someone a daydreamer and they'll consider it an insult."Daydreaming is looked upon negatively because it represents 'non-doing' in a society that emphasizes productivity," says John McGrail, a clinical hypnotherapist in Los Angeles. "We are under constant pressure to do, achieve, produce, succeed." Psychologists estimate that we daydream for one-third to one-half of our waking hours, although a single daydream lasts only a few minutes.

              Here's the good news: Daydreaming has some real benefits. Daydreams can be used to motivate you, help reduce anxiety over upcoming situations, and cultivate the same deep levels of relaxation meditation does. Daydreaming makes it easy for us to tap into parts of our brain that normally close off when we are very focused or are on deadline, and allows us to envision and problem-solve. But daydreaming has the greatest benefits when it comes to increasing creativity. Cultivating your imagination can only be done with practice, and the result can often lead to a boost in your creative abilities. Daydreaming helps you to organize thoughts and think of new perspectives; no matter how crazy and outrageous your dream may be, there are some instances where you can actually apply the ideas in real life. 


              Here are some ways to use daydreaming to become more creative and productive:
              • Give yourself a break. If you find yourself admonishing your brain for daydreaming, try to remember that escapist daydreams alleviate stress and give you the energy to return to the task you were working on.
              • Notice your daydreams. Become aware of the daydreams that come to you, both when you're working and not. Look for patterns and repeating themes.
              • Make the time and space for daydreaming.  This is especially important during moments when your brain has time to wander (while running, about to go to sleep, etc.)
              • Record your daydreams in a way that works for you. Many creative types write their daydreams down, and use them to fuel future projects.
              Are you a daydreamer? Did you ever get in trouble for daydreaming? Do you believe daydreaming is a waste of time, or can be beneficial? What are some things you daydream about?



                Anorexia, recovery, and walking without crutches.


                I was driving in my car on the way home from Starbucks the other day, red cup in hand, when I realized that Thanksgiving is a mere week away. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because it provides adults with a socially acceptable excuse to wear stretchy pants and eat diner at 2 pm. On Thanksgiving, I love pulling my children onto my lap and talking about what they're thankful for. Sometimes their answers are silly, sometimes introspective - but always memorable.

                This Thanksgiving I myself have something to be very thankful for. It marks the two year anniversary of my discharge from an inpatient treatment center for anorexia and bulimia. It was two years ago this week that I left, still underweight and medically compromised, to begin my tenuous journey towards recovery. Two years since I sat in endless hours of group therapy, two years since I was woken up at 5:30 to get weighed in a hospital gown, two years since I argued over meals, refused to drink water, and cried over a half pound weight gain.

                Recovery is a very difficult thing to classify. Most mental health professionals are hard-pressed to define exactly what recovery means, and within the field, there is debate and no consensus on how to do so. Is it enough to restore to an appropriate weight and begin menstruating again (i.e., physical recovery), but still be having eating disordered thoughts (i.e., psychological recovery)? Other improvements may be behavioral (e.g., cessation of restricting food, excessive exercise, binging, and purging), and social (e.g., ability to create and maintain meaningful relationships and be successful in school or work).

                I can't deny that there have been slips in the last two years - brief periods of a return to eating disorder behaviors. A slide towards symptoms is sort of automatic response for me when I'm feeling stressed, lonely, angry, or overwhelmed.  Almost involuntarily, my brain turns to the eating disorder to “heal” these feelings.

                Many mental health professionals have described an eating disorder as a crutch. For me, anorexia helped me self-regulate (or self-medicate) my often crippling anxiety. Some of this was the response to starvation unique to eating disorders – not eating altered my brain chemistry and made me feel better. Some of the response was psychological and  related to the meaning I attributed to my anorexia: that it made me special and unique, that I could tell myself it didn’t matter if I screwed up at X because at least I could be good at losing weight. Self-starvation was a compulsion I used to alleviate the anxiety of, well, pretty much anything.

                Some psychologists believe that you are using a crutch because you are hurt somehow. But I just can’t buy the theory that eating disorders are solely some kind of metaphorical attempt to heal a past hurt. I may have been off-kilter before the anorexia came around, but that doesn’t hold a candle to how whacked out my brain and life are now. Yes, the eating disorder made me feel better in profound ways, but I’ve known people who were very well-adjusted before they got sick.

                I guess the best comparison is this: being susceptible to an eating disorder is like being prone to bone problems. There’s a greater likelihood that something is going to throw you “off course,” either in terms of stress or mood or whatever, and so you’re much more likely to find yourself using a crutch, just as someone prone to fractured or broken bones is probably more likely to wind up using crutches at some point.

                But I realize that the only way to learn how to walk without crutches isn’t really to sit around and ask what is hurting and why and acknowledge that part of you. The only way to walk without crutches is to…walk without crutches. That translates to an absence of eating disorder symptoms, end of story. That’s not to say that you won’t need a lot of support and training to learn how to do this, but the analogy of a psychological disease to a broken ankle isn’t 100% perfect. You do need to stay off of a broken ankle to let the bone heal. In that case, the crutches are serving a good purpose. They’re benefiting you. An eating disorder has many functions, but it’s far from beneficial.

                Recovery is  similar to rehab from a physical injury, like a broken leg, in that it involves the repetition of a lot of seemingly basic behaviors (such as eating) until my “recovery muscles” are strengthened. I can’t get there, though, unless I abandon the crutches. Understanding why I’m using them isn’t much use unless I actually stop depending on them
                . Using actual crutches to let your leg heal is a legitimate purpose and helps your body heal. Using an eating disorder as an “emotional crutch” might make me feel better, but it’s not helping my mind heal. The eating disorder essentially broke my leg and than gave me crutches to “help” me out. 

                So where am I now? The crutches are still there, though I rely on them a lot less than I did a year ago. Ultimately, the decision to recover, to learn how to function without eating disorder symptoms, is mine and mine alone. That means eating with friends, eating foods that occasionally terrify me, and making myself vulnerable to stress. It also means living fully, walking independently, and being thankful for my progress.



                On Sundays I Smile - Week in Review November 13th

                On Sundays I review the past week and I Smile. I share these moments with you.



                Here is a brief list of things I would rather do than cleaning out my closet:
                • Scrubbing the bathrooms.
                • Organizing my books using the Dewey Decimal System.
                • Cooking an extravagant ten course meal in the obsessive compulsive style of Martha Stuart.
                • Refreshing my Tumblr dashboard to see if anyone liked my last post.
                • Checking my email for sales deals from The Gap.
                • Composing a 2000 page thesis exploring the theological argument of whether the book of Genesis is poetical and thus not historical. (Discuss amongst yourselves.)

                Essentially, I would rather do anything other than clean out my closet. But I did. And I can't deny that it feels great to see the results. I can see the floor in there, people. I had forgotten what it looked like.


                So what did I do to celebrate Operation Closet Clean Out? I went thrifting, of course. Because nothing defeats the purpose of donating five bags of clothes to Goodwill than filling up my closet with new purchases from Goodwill. And when the price list includes sweaters for $2, it's hard to resist.



                Conveyor belt sushi. Enough said. This little restaurant is a favorite of my daughter and I. We have a girls day out once a month and always save room for sushi. This place is a fun way to try new rolls without making a serious financial commitment. And it's super fun.



                Then there are my boys, who would much rather ogle fire trucks than eat sushi.



                This week I fell further down the Starbucks rabbit hole and discovered a new addiction: Caramel hot apple cider. Put down your pumpkin spice lattes, your chai lattes, your triple shot cafe mistos and try it. Yes, your teeth will ache from the sweetness, but you will feel like you're drinking a slice of apple pie. And what could be better than that?



                We don't get truly definable seasons here in Texas. For example, the calendar tells us it's fall, yet the leaves have only just begun to change and temperatures have been in the mid seventies. Nevertheless, we've been having some absolutely gorgeous weather. I don't think I've ever seen a bluer sky.

                Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Kate The Geek - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feel good.


                While I'm sipping my third hot caramel apple cider of the week (stop looking at me like that) catch up on everything from Dress With Courage this week:

                One blogger mention this week:
                • Sal of Already Pretty included my post about imperfection and celebrity diets in her Lovely Links for the week. I am so honored to be included!

                And one awesomesauce giveaway on my blog:

                As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

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