a holiday wish: hope-full

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This has been quite a year. The turmoil of our political climate, the drastic cuts in our country’s safety net, the hatred some now feel emboldened to express, and the resistance efforts against all of it – some more successful than others (#metoo).

It is a time of reckoning. I know that I have days of hopelessness and despair at what is going on in the world. And I have to admit that sometimes it feels small and obtuse to be talking about clothes. Who cares about what we are wearing when it seems like our country is imploding around us?

but.

It does matter what we are wearing. Because, this I know – what you are wearing affects how you feel. And if you are feeling hopeless, dressing intentionally can help reduce that feeling. It can help you feel more ready to face the world.

What you are wearing can help you to summon the confidence and the courage to stand up for what you believe. It can help you feel better about yourself, which spreads to how you show up for the world and other people. It can help you be a better you – strong and authentic and bad-ass in whatever you are doing.

It isn’t frivolous, and it isn’t extravagant to take care of yourself. In times like these, it becomes more important than ever. This is a core value of my work.

my holiday wish

What’s happening these days is on my mind all the time – I imagine on your minds as well – and it’s important not to ignore it or pretend it isn’t happening. Here is my wish for the holidays:

Let’s find ways to be hope-full. Truly filled with hope. If we do that, we experience gratitude, which leads to peace. Even if things aren’t peaceful in the world, finding peace within yourself allows you to keep moving forward.

What brings me hope is true connection with others – going past the superficial to deeper understanding of each other. That keeps me going.

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in your words

I asked some readers, “Please take 1 minute TODAY to reply to me with one sentence about something happening in your life that makes you hope-full. Don’t think too hard about this – write what pops into your head right away.” Below are the messages they sent – as they came in over the course of the day, I got little bursts of hope with each new thought.

What makes me full of hope is the fact that every one of us has the ability to give hope any time of our day!
Antje
I am hopeful because I have a new grandbaby! I am hopeful because I am reconnecting with my emotional self. I am hopeful because the evil of the current political situation galvanizes people out of their passivity and clarifies the difficulties of the average person.
B
It may sound simple, but I’ve been full of hope lately when I see how much my son is flourishing in middle school. The group of teachers he has have been so supportive and creative with cross-curriculum teaching that his love for learning has come alive this year. It’s been really magical to see and fills me with hope for his future.
Cece
I am hopeful for more connections with family and being together for the holidays.
Ellen
The innocence of the kids I work with and how others in their class treat them. They show SO MUCH patience and empathy and as a result the kids have authentic and innocent friendships.
Julie
Despite the snarled traffic caused by ice and snow, when I see twinkling lights glittering over snow-covered lawns, I’m hopeful for a renewed appreciation for the simple beauty and joy of the holidays — and hopeful that our home can be a sanctuary of comfort and love amidst turmoil in the world.
Mai 

Antje even sent the link to this video – it’s a really beautiful message of how, as she said, we all can give hope.

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VIDEO: Noah and the Whale – Give a Little Love

Our families and loved ones, the beauty of the world around us, the potential of future generations, teachers!, simple acts of kindness, standing up for what is right, connectedness – these are the stuff of hope. Let’s spread it far and wide.

So now I ask you – take 1 minute to respond in the comments with one sentence about something happening in your life that makes you hope-full. Don’t think too hard about this – write what pops into your head right away. We can fill the day with messages of hope!

 

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2 steps forward, 1 step back – the positive body image dance

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Friend and fellow entrepreneur Christina Boyd-Smith passed on this graphic illustrating the progress of entrepreneurship. It has a few swear words in it. Words I have NEVER uttered. I swear.

Positive body image is just like entrepreneurship – two steps forward, and one step back. Sometimes it’s three steps back. Sometimes you trip. Sometimes you fall spectacularly. But you pick yourself up and keep going.

I have been struggling with maintaining positive body image lately, and I figured it’s time I write about it. News flash – I don’t have it all figured out! Not by a long shot. But I’m still trying. 

When I started thinking about this post, this graphic popped right into my mind. The “WTF happened?” part in particular. Things with body image can be all “champagne!” and then BOOM, they’re not. It might even be the champagne that contributes to that. (Or maybe it’s the chocolate. Or both.) It can start by catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, or seeing a photo of yourself.

I could write a long list of things I don’t like about my body. At the top of that list right now would be that I’ve gained enough weight that a lot of my pants are feeling really snug. I’m also in the midst of finally letting my hair go grey. Sigh.

But why does there need to be a list? Or if there is a list, why isn’t it all the amazing things about my body? And why aren’t gaining some weight and grey hair amazing? Thinking about all of this makes me want to eat more chocolate. Which then makes me feel like a failure. And so it continues…

Does this spiral of negative thinking sound familiar to you? Yours might have a different spin to it, but the black hole of negative body image is powerful for so many of us. Throw in a peri-menopausal mood swing or twelve and it’s a supernova.

breaking the spiral

I can get to a pretty dark, negative place in my feelings about myself – I spent a lot of years hating and hiding my body, and I got really good at it. Learning to like my body has been a slow process, and it is a path I have to take consciously. It isn’t second nature or effortless, and it very likely never will be.

How do I break the spiral?

When the negative body image thoughts get going, the first step is to say, “Stop.” Say it in your head or out loud if you need to, but definitely say it. Disrupting the pattern of thinking is key.

It’s really important not to be hard on yourself for the negative thoughts – acknowledge that you are feeling them. What helps to change them is to move through them to a different place. Saying “Stop” is a way to acknowledge them and begin a new trajectory.

Then ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend if she were saying these things about herself and her body?” Then SAY THOSE THINGS. To yourself. Out loud if you need to! Say them again. And if you find yourself arguing with the kind – and true – things, say “Stop,” and try again.

As for the too-tight pants. This could be a trigger of negative body image every. single. morning. Here’s the thing – they are just pants. And the number on the scale is just a number. To be honest, I haven’t weighed myself – I don’t need to – I know the number is higher because of the too-tight pants! No need to feed the shame cycle with seeing the higher number on the scale. Here’s what I do instead:

I put on bigger pants.

Ones that fit my body right now, today, this week, or however long I’m at this current weight. Another news flash – weight can fluctuate or change as much as your mood during peri-menopause. Wearing too-tight pants just makes you feel bad. So don’t do it! Heck, maybe I’ll wear a skirt or dress today!

And then I tell myself: Which pants I’m wearing, the number on the scale, the number of grey hairs on my head – these things do not determine my self-worth. How I treat myself, how I let others treat me, how I treat others; these are the stuff of self-worth. How I show up in my life is what makes me ME. Not the too-tight pants.

How I treat myself, how I let others treat me, how I treat others; these are the stuff of self-worth. How I show up in my life is what makes me ME. Not the too-tight pants.

two steps forward

My two steps forward for positive body image are taking care of myself and dressing in an intentional way. Making an effort to keep my body healthy and strong with good food, exercise, mindfulness, sleep (another peri-menopause rollercoaster), and permission to indulge sometimes keeps me in touch with my physical well-being.

Embracing my body as it is right now and dressing intentionally to feel my best keeps me in touch with my psychological well-being. Feeling good about what you are wearing helps you to feel good about your whole self. Dressing intentionally is a way to say “Stop” to the cycle of negativity in a tangible, visible way that also helps you bring your best self to the world. It’s called “enclothed cognition” – your clothing affects your confidence levels and overall psychological state.

I will always have the one step back in the positive body image dance, but I’m still moving forward. With each setback, I use the practices I’ve learned to treat myself with the compassion and kindness that I deserve. I want that for you too. Every person – particularly us women – deserves that.

3 myths about wardrobe consulting

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Saint Paul Magazine recently published a feature article about nancy dilts wardrobe consulting (fabulous article – super exciting!!), and for the last few weeks I’ve been getting the question, “Have you had tons of phone calls since the article?” The honest answer? No.

It makes me a little queasy to say that here. But it’s true, and frankly, I didn’t expect to get a huge increase in calls right after the article. Not because the article isn’t amazing or I don’t think my work is important or worthy – I KNOW it is.

Being in this business for several years, I also know that my clients don’t engage in my services impulsively. And that’s ok. In fact, for my work with clients to have the most impact, they need to be ready – ready to embrace feeling good and open to stepping outside of their comfort zones to accomplish that.

Some things that hold people back, though, are just plain myths.

myth 1: it’s too expensive

My tagline is “style for everyday: new to you – true to you.” New-to-you refers to my focus on practicing sustainable consumerism.

A lot of my clients have never shopped consignment before working with me. They are floored when they realize the quality of clothing they can get at 1/3 or less than retail prices. Even when you factor my fees into the overall investment, you are still spending less than you would on fewer items of retail clothing, and without the guidance, support, efficiency, and success you gain when working with me.

Here are some numbers to make it real: during a 3-hour personal shopping session at a consignment store with a client, we found 28 high quality top brand/designer items to rebuild her wardrobe – including two pairs of boots, two pairs of shoes, and a belt – for $300. I looked up the retail prices of each item, which totaled at a whopping $1,900.

The client had selected my True To You Style service package, which includes a 3-hour Wardrobe Consult in your closet, personal Style Guidelines and a digital “lookbook,” and a 3-hour personal shopping session for $525.

By working with me, she invested $825 overall, less than half the retail cost of the clothing alone.

myth 2: i can do it myself

Sure, you can do it yourself. But this I know: it will take longer, it will be harder, and you won’t have the same results.

When I tell clients we will get through their (typically-sized) wardrobe in three hours, they are amazed. I know from personal experience that going through your own wardrobe by yourself takes at least twice that long. The emotional energy required and sheer number of decisions to be made make it much more difficult to do solo. I also help clients create new outfits with the clothes they already own, adding energy and increased function to their wardrobes.

Clients are also completely certain that we will never spend a full three hours at one store when personal shopping or find more than 2 or 3 items. Most of the time, clients find as many as 20-30 items in a 3-hour personal shopping session, unless they choose to purchase fewer. And those are items that fit well, reflect their personal style, go with other items being purchased or items at home, and – best of all – make them feel excited about how they look.

myth 3: i’m not worth it

Women often put themselves last. We are inculturated to feel like it is frivolous to spend money or time on ourselves. We feel our needs are not worth as much as others’ needs. Some of us simply don’t have very much time to spend on ourselves because of the demands of work and life. I often hear women say they won’t address their wardrobes until they have accomplished some other thing, like weight loss or getting in shape.

Here’s the kicker: being intentional about how you dress – right now, as is – helps you to accomplish your other goals. Scientific studies show that when you feel confident in how you are dressed, it has a positive psychological impact, allowing you to have greater success overall. We are all worth taking care of ourselves, no matter where we are in our journeys.

the myth-busting truth

I’m a busy girl on a budget too, so I know about making choices with my time and my dollars. I also know that taking care of yourself, including how you are dressed, is an essential part of your overall wellbeing.

When you work with me, this is what you gain:
  • Assistance in identifying your current personal style and embracing it
  • Objective and supportive guidance in making your existing wardrobe more functional through purging things that don’t work, reimagining ways to wear the items that do, and identifying gaps to be filled and items to be replaced
  • Effective and efficient shopping support for rebuilding your wardrobe to meet your current needs in an affordable way
  • A closet full of clothing that WORKS for your body and personal style, instead of an overwhelming clutter of items that cause frustration
  • A better understanding of how to put clothing together to make intentional, polished outfits that reflect your personal style and suit you
  • Positive, honest advice and feedback and open communication (And even some laughter!)
  • Countless hours of precious time and energy saved
  • Renewed confidence and joy in your appearance and feeling your best

Working with me is about so much more than the financial investment or feeling like you shouldn’t. It’s about taking care of your outer self, which is really about taking care of your inner self too. It’s about having someone who can help make daily dressing SO. MUCH. EASIER. Which allows you to live your life feeling good about how you look, right now, today.

Today is a perfect day to start the process of feeling great about how you look.

I always ask new clients how they learned about my services. I won’t be surprised at all if for the next year, and beyond, I hear, “I saw you in Saint Paul Magazine, and I’m finally contacting you!”

What’s stopping you from connecting with me today? Because really, today is a perfect day to start the process of feeling great about how you look.

 

dressing intentionally

make it happen quoteA common theme that emerges when I do an Initial Consult with clients is feeling like they are wearing the same clothing over and over again. It’s hard and overwhelming to figure out different outfits or what looks good, nothing fits anymore, things feel old and outdated, there’s not enough time to branch out, or all of the above. Does any of this sound familiar?

What often accompanies this pattern is personal dissatisfaction and a growing lack of confidence, which can result in pretty much giving up trying anymore. No surprise that none of this lends itself to feeling good about yourself!

Dressing intentionally breaks the cycle of negativity. It’s the primary element of what I help my clients do in our work together, because dressing intentionally gives you the tools to embrace – and express – your true and best outer-self. Which in turn helps you to feel your best on the inside too.

Dressing intentionally breaks the cycle of negativity.

That’s why I love my work, by the way. I know firsthand how painful it is to want to just disappear into the woodwork, and I also know what it feels like to shift from having given up to experiencing the joy that dressing intentionally can bring. Helping others to make that shift is so gratifying!

Dressing intentionally means taking some time (more when you first begin, but less as you get used to it), to think about what you are wearing – the whole package from head to toe. It does not mean having to pay attention to fashion trends all the time and conform to them, even if you don’t like them. (If you do like them, go for it!)

It does mean defining your own personal style and finding cuts and colors that suit your body and skin tones. It does mean creating balanced lines with proper fit, the right cuts, and the right shoe. It does mean adding polish to an outfit with accessories such as a scarf, jewelry, or belt. It does mean “dressing up” for yourself, just to feel good.

When you do this, a transformation can occur:

Being excited about what you see in the mirror.
Feeling confident in how you see yourself and how the world sees you – and that confidence spreads into other parts of your life as well.
No longer feeling bogged down by clothes that make you feel crappy and by the time you spend in frustration of figuring out what to wear.
Having more time for the things that are important in your life.
Being empowered to be who you want to be – when your outside authentically reflects your inside, the results are amazing!

This is what my Year of Style service package is all about – being in a partnership with me to learn the tools and strategies for dressing intentionally and practicing it with guidance and support throughout.

Here’s what I say about it – SUPER FUN! Here’s what one of my Year of Style clients has to say about her experience:

“I have been retired for some years. The need to dress “up” was no longer there and my “oh-so-casual” style became more and more oh-so-casual. My closet was full of things that I had had for years, some of which I had never worn, some that I used to enjoy but no longer did and wondered why.

The items that I did wear were quite worn. I had the idea that I needed a uniform to wear and that would solve my problems. Clothing shopping was a nightmare that I couldn’t face because I no longer knew even where to start.

The Year of Style called to me as a way to have some guidance and hands-on direction and instruction.

Some goals that I set for myself with Nancy as we began my Year of Style

When I go to my closet, I want to feel like I am standing up and in control and happy about getting dressed.

I want to become my own expert on myself and my fashion sense and style.

I would like to feel in control of my wardrobe planning: to understand its needs, to feel confident about going about procuring them, to enjoy shopping enough to do it.

How it’s going so far

Clearing the closet was remarkably freeing. I can open the door and look in there now and feel good. As we tried on and discarded items, Nancy was able to tell me how and why something no longer worked for me, and I could then see it too.

Going shopping with Nancy was an amazing experience. I tried on and enjoyed items that I never would have thought would work for me, and now I have many things that are fun for me to wear.

I am challenging myself to dress “up” at times, even around the house. I am enjoying it. I am wearing occasional jewelry for fun.

Something that I didn’t expect to have happen that I have noticed is that I no longer seem to see myself as fat. Somehow, though my body has not changed in these few weeks, I am not as critical of it. Strange.”

That last statement is not strange to me. One of the things I address with my clients is working towards positive body image and helping them to see the beautiful person I see. Finding your personal style and combining it with cuts and colors that suit you can dramatically change how someone looks. It replaces discomfort with confidence. It creates balanced lines that help you feel your best. It is the difference between feeling defeated and being intentional. Again, transformative.

Ready to make it happen? Contact me today for YOUR Year of Style and the confidence and empowerment it will bring.

hiring a personal stylist – no way, not for me – or IS IT?

Client Insight
“I have had very little or any practice or any interest in paying attention to fashion stuff. It’s just not part of my identity, and I have prided myself on that. Hearing the news is more important to me than paying attention to my clothes! It’s more important to be with my child than to go shopping for me. It just truly does not matter. But at the same time, it DOES matter to me.”

Wardrobe consulting? Really? I can just do that myself! Besides, other things are way more important than how you dress.

My first career was in environmental education. What the heck does that have to do with wardrobe consulting? A LOT. It led me to my current work and is the foundation for my passion for embracing personal style and practicing sustainable consumerism.

In the world of non-profits and work focused on the “social good,” fashion is not the first thing people think about. I know all about mission-driven work; the focus is on just that – the mission.

No one cares about how you dress, right? Sometimes it’s even considered to be trivial or vain to care about it. But guess what – it’s not.

Fashion is a part of the bigger world of style. And STYLE is super important – for everyone – because personal style is how you show yourself to the world. It’s what makes you YOU. It’s how you show the inside you on the outside.

Let’s face it –no matter your field, your outer appearance is the first thing people see, and it says something about you. We draw conclusions from what we see. It’s human nature to do so. That is important, but not really the main point.

Here’s the point: feeling good about the outside helps you feel better on the inside, because you are being true to yourself. 

“Fashion doesn’t only express who you are to others but also to yourself. Psychologists have coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe how clothing alters the mood and mind-set of its wearers.” – Ben Barry, Chronicle of Higher Education

Feeling good about how you are dressed helps you feel good overall. It helps you feel confident and lets the awesome person that is YOU shine. It allows you the time and freedom to focus on the things you feel passionate about in your life – your work, your family, your creativity, you name it – and to express yourself authentically while you’re at it!

Client Insight
“It’s like your nicest china – you never use it. You go through your whole life and never use it – it’s sad. I just wear the same things over and over. It would be nice to be more intentional and to celebrate who I am – to show who I am through my clothes.”

but…personal styling?

It’s not for everyone. You have to be in the right place for personal styling. And when you are, it can mean all the difference in the world.

When I say “being in the right place,” I mean that you are ready to take steps to care for yourself. It does NOT mean that you have to have all the answers figured out – do we ever, really? You are, however, open to the possibility of feeling great about how you look and willing to expand your idea of that. Again, you are ready to feel GOOD.

Client Insight
“Mostly I’ve ignored grappling with my image. I reacted instead when things were getting worn out. I hate to shop. Putting it on the calendar makes it a priority.”

Working with me means having someone in your corner as you take those steps towards embracing your actual, beautiful body – not denying yourself until you have the idealized, fictitious body our culture tells us we should have. It means having a partner in the journey, giving guidance and support all along the way to help you find your personal style and clothes that work and that you love.

For some folks, it may not be about body image as much as it is about the prioritization of time. It is more efficient and effective to work with a wardrobe consultant, saving precious time for other important things, but still being attentive to taking care of yourself.

Client Insight
“Having a buddy makes it a thousand times better most of the time. You get vastly more done in less time, plus you actually do it! It’s the work of prioritizing what you have to do, even though you don’t want to do it. You are so much happier later.”

Working together, my clients and I accomplish ten-fold what they would on their own. I bring efficiency, effectiveness, humor, and best of all, empowerment to the process.

A Wardrobe Consult for a typically-sized wardrobe yields a closet purged of items that no longer work (and are literally hiding the ones that do) as well as tens of new outfit combinations in just three hours. A Personal Shopping session (2-3 hours) results in multiple outfits and the knowledge of how to wear them instead of a frustrating, demoralizing, and fruitless search.

I take the mystery out of knowing what sartorial choices are best suited for your personal style and body type. We all have different strengths and skills. Just like I greatly benefit from others’ expertise in running revenue projections (My eyes instantly glaze over. Seriously.), others are completely overwhelmed by figuring out how to put outfits together. It’s just not their thing, even though they want to look good.

In my business, I still think of my work as mission-based. I support people in finding the clothing that will help them feel good, so that they can get on with their amazing lives. Without the stress of a non-functional wardrobe. Without the frustrations of shopping unsuccessfully. And WITH the confidence that comes from knowing you look good and feeling like your outer self reflects WHO YOU ARE.

Client Insight
“I’m deciding to get help. I’m prepared for the day better if I feel like I look like I want to. And that enables me to be the rest of who I am.”

*Client Insights used with permission.

shedding the sweaters: embracing your body

Every Spring I go through a little mini-crisis relating to body image.

What? As a wardrobe consultant, I’m supposed to have it all figured out, right? Not even close. I have made big strides in embracing positive body image in that I see the negative messages for what they are and mindfully dismiss them. I do this most of the time. I still have days, though. And I try to be forgiving of myself and to give myself the same care I give my clients, friends, and loved-ones.

There’s something about shedding the sweaters – literally wearing less clothes as the weather gets warmer – that triggers the old anxiety for me. Layers of oversized clothing were my old way of hiding my body.

peanuts snoopy steals security blanket

Those cozy sweaters are like wearable security blankets, and I resist giving them up, even though I’m THRILLED with the warm sunshine. I have to wean myself from sweaters, usually by switching to tailored jackets or lighter-weight layers – but still layers.

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Add aging into the mix now, and it gets even messier. Those “Around the Web” ads on the Web that come up promising quick fixes for “crepe skin” are particularly horrid. Skin changes as it ages, and we’re supposed to think that is disgusting, not just a natural process. It is exhausting to think about all the things we’re supposed to hide, camouflage or fix – at any age.

Let’s BE PROUD of our bodies, and especially our skin with all its freckles, wrinkles, and marks! It means were here LIVING. Get over it Internet.

shirtdress_cropped jeans

So when it’s time to shed the sweaters, I do my little thin-layer thing – using camis underneath (just another version of a security blanket), fitted tunics and short dresses over cropped or skinny jeans, a close-fitting denim jacket as a shirt with a fun silk scarf. And I slowly start to reveal more skin and more body definition. By the time it’s warm enough for shorts and sleeveless tops in Minnesota, I’ll be ready!

Embrace your body – it’s the only one you’ve got. Take some slow, deep breaths and mindfully tell yourself, “I am beautiful. I deserve to show that to the world.” Say it again. And again.

Keep saying it until you feel your heart rate slow, your body calm, and your mind catch up with what you know deep down is true. You are beautiful. You deserve to show that to the world.

time for you – what’s stopping you?

So there’s this song by Minnesota band Cloud Cult that made me need to pull over the car first time I heard it.

It made the hairs on the back of my neck and arms stand up, and I was so struck by the lyrics that I was actually distracted from driving. I pulled over and cranked the volume, and I felt like the song was reaching out from the radio and squeezing my heart because it was speaking directly to me. To every fiber of me – my darkest doubts and my deepest fears included. Tears came into my eyes.

The song is called “You’re the Only Thing In Your Way.” Take a listen.

 

I was immersed in business development at the time for what is now nancy dilts wardrobe consulting. I was scared and unsure and filled with self-doubt. Will this idea of practicing sustainable consumerism in my business work? Will people hire me? Do I have what it takes to do this? Or, what I’m really asking myself – am I good enough?

I think that question is what keeps many of us from doing SO MUCH for ourselves. It keeps us from taking risks. From giving ourselves the attention and self-care we deserve. From fully embracing our gifts and our individual beauty. Am I good enough?

Those words from Cloud Cult are dead on – you’re the only thing in your way. A reminder that I need to hear more often than I’d like.

I listen to this song when the self-doubt creeps in. Music has always been an avenue of emotional health for me. I get comfort, perspective, and motivation from songs that inspire me.

What is it that you want for yourself? What self-care would you like to practice, but always put off under the guise of others’ needs being higher priority?

Do you want to feel more relaxed? Be healthier and stronger? Feel better about how you look? Embrace your beautiful self?

Because you – we – are good enough. We deserve to take care of ourselves. What’s keeping us from making time and priority for self-care? Now is the time to do what we need to embrace our full selves – in mind and in body.

“You are the wind, the flood and the flame. Nothing here can get in your way.”

3 easy ways to fight winter doldrums

Is it just me, or have the winter doldrums mounded up like those massive piles left by snow plows for you too? If you live in Minnesota, you know exactly what I’m talking about – 15+ feet high mountains of dirty snow that will be here…forever. At least until May. May!

This time is always difficult for me. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s gray. I feel like the character Sadness from the movie Inside Out (If you haven’t, SEE IT).

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Image: Pixar

Self-care is essential right about now. And what you are wearing is part of that self-care. How you look affects how you feel. Feeling good about how you look boosts mood, confidence, and how you interact with the world.

When temps dip below zero regularly, sweaters aren’t optional, nor are big, puffy coats. It’s easy to end up wearing the same things day after day.

It’s so easy for me to throw in the towel when it’s cold. I put on my boots and big mitts, pull up my hood, and do the ice shuffle.

the Minnesota Uniform:

  1. Down coat – I call mine my sleeping bag coat because it goes down to my knees
  2. Bulky sweater – often ends up being shapeless in addition to being bulky
  3. Winter boots

Again, these things aren’t really optional, unless you don’t mind hypothermia. Folks who love winter sports relish the snow and cold. I used to be one of them, but 23 years in to living in Minnesota, not so much anymore. Sports – yay! Cold – meh. It can be a struggle. Here are three easy ways to mix it up a little to fight off the winter doldrums. And I mean easy.

get outside

Every. Day. No, walking to the car doesn’t count!

I take walks with our dog, even when it’s really cold. Well, if it’s really, really cold, I sometimes wimp out, and my husband gets the honors. I try to walk in the daylight – to pretend I’m getting just a smidge of Vitamin D – to get fresh air and to help fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder. Getting light from the sun, however weak, helps.

To add interest to your winter armor, I mean ensemble, change out your scarf and hat. I know, duh. But it’s so easy to fall into a rut with the same scarf for outerwear everyday, when you have many beautiful scarves languishing in your closet.

A big, cozy scarf (or two) like the popular blanket scarf is warm AND adds a pop of color that can feel cheerful. A shawl-style scarf works well too.

Drape the blanket scarf loosely around your neck on the outside of your coat on its own or wear it long with a contrasting scarf around your neck for double warmth.

 

Kerchief-tie a lighter-weight print scarf you may typically wear as part of your outfit – they are surprisingly warm!

be a style star: Change up the coat too. Most of us have more than one (it’s darn cold here!), but it’s easy to grab the same coat every time. A new-to-you statement coat in a bright color or print is a great way to fight off winter blahs. Being intentional in our choices shows, and it exudes confidence and personal style.

get crafty

The pull to put on your biggest, bulkiest sweater, plop on the couch, wrap up with your fleece blanket (mine has owls on it) and binge-watch Netflix is strong. This I know. The Great British Baking Show, anyone?

Following the inspiration of those British bakers, fire up your own oven. I’ve had a tab open on my browser for this recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars for days. Time to give it a try. (Update: I did this weekend – SO TASTY.)

Knit or crochet something (added bonus: the result is something WARM). Boot cuffs are a simple, fast project – perfect for beginners – and spice up the ubiquitous winter boots. Wear them tucked in or over tall boots with skinny jeans. Peeking out of furry-rimmed boots is fun too.

My daughter and I have been teaching ourselves how to sew. So far she has whipped up a couple of colorful pillows and a case for her iPod.

Whatever gets your groove on, embrace your creativity! Draw a picture, make a collage with found items, take photographs on your walks. It doesn’t have to be fancy, complicated, or perfect – just fun.

style star: Scarves and hats make excellent first projects too! There are hundreds of free patterns online.

get together

Be deliberate about seeing friends. It’s easy to just stay in (the fleecy owl blanket is beckoning), but spending time with your people can be the difference between feeling right with the world and abject misery. And since you have plans, forgo the biggest, bulkiest sweater and dress up a bit. It does a body – and mind – good.

style star: A client recently purchased a lovely new-to-you sweater during a personal shopping session that is embellished with a whimsical feather neckline. It’s perfect paired with dark wash or white jeans and heeled boots to funk it up for a winter night out or dinner party. Be bold – and feel beautiful!

See – super easy. Being intentional with self-care makes all the difference. Comment below with your ways of staying sane in the winter months!

You likely noticed I tried something new in this post by including photos of yours truly demonstrating style fun. What do you think? More photos like this? Feature other real folks, rather than professional model pics? Comments (constructive, please) and ideas welcome. This blog is for you, after all. What would you like to see?

do new year’s resolutions make you go UGH?

resolutions-

Everybody makes them. We all read about them (like right now), talk about them, plan them. We all have the best of intentions. Clean slate! Fresh start! Everything will be different this year! Until it’s not.

New Year’s resolutions are kind of like diets for me – they tend to have the exact opposite effect and end up being a huge exercise in shame and guilt. NOT helpful.

Instead, I’m trying something different. I am looking at the beginning of the year as an opportunity for mindfulness and self-care. What do I want for myself this year? And what are some ways to accomplish that?

Taking the approach of self-care is a good one in just about every situation. Self-care doesn’t mean being selfish. It doesn’t mean not considering others’ needs. It means caring for yourself with the same intentionality with which you care for others.

I have learned that being mindful of my big-picture outlook is crucial for my wellbeing. I am a detail-oriented, mostly linear thinker, which serves me well much of the time. But sometimes I lose sight of the “why” of what I’m doing, which – of course – is the point, right? The “why” is what drives your motivation and passion, and is the reason it’s important to pay attention to all those details. Sometimes that gets lost in the busyness and lists, and I can get overwhelmed, discouraged, or both.

So this year, one of the things I want for myself is to celebrate the “why” in my life more. And deliberately stepping back from the details (not abandoning them – my personality type would never let me do that!) is a way to accomplish that.

That means actively taking time to STOP. To stop thinking so much, to stop fretting over the details, to stop worrying about whether the goals have been met. And then, to enjoy the purpose of whatever I’m doing. To remind myself of why it’s important. Why I’m dedicating myself to it. Remembering the big picture is what makes the details, with all their ups and downs, worthwhile.

How will you practice self-care this year? What do you want for yourself, and what are some ways to accomplish that?