Capsule Wardrobe / Style

Be Curious // How to Dress Intentionally

06.22.17
Photos c/o Sara Kerens // See full article today on Darling Magazine

How do we begin to process what it means to have integrity as we approach our closets and get dressed each day?  Like most things: little by little.  

The fact that we get to express ourselves creatively through fashion is a gift.  It’s another area of our lives where we’re constantly making tiny decisions.  Yet, how we show up in the small things will reflect how we show up in the bigger moments of our lives.

We can  mindfully develop our integrity through the clothes we choose to wear as well as noticing our relationship to ourselves and the pieces:

  1. Be Curious: 

Notice the thoughts that come to your mind as you’re getting dressed.  Don’t judge yourself or them, simply notice.  Are they thoughts like if only I could squeeze into that smaller size, or I hate my thighs, or if I only had that blazer that so-and-so had.  If you’re comparing or struggling with loving and accepting yourself physically, chances are these same negative thoughts are showing up in your career, relationships, home life, etc.  What if as you zipped that zipper and a painful thought came up instead of accepting it you shifted the perspective into one of gratitude and love towards yourself?.  Instead of ugh I’ll never have a thigh gap, to I’m so grateful for my strong legs that allow me to walk, run, and adventure through my life?. Every moment is an opportunity for growth if we choose it to be.

  1. Be a Storyteller:  

We all are storytellers.  Everyone of us.  And we are constantly inviting others into a journey when they are with us.  Our physical appearance is the first thing people notice about us.  What message are you intending to give off versues the reaction you are getting from people?  Is there a disconnect?  Ask a few trusted friends how you come across.  In college, I was insecure about my body, so I hid myself in baggy sweats.  One day, a mentor told me I needed to put on some mascara and clothes that fit me.  How did she know I was hiding?  I thought I was being so sly and covering up my flaws and insecurities by being ‘sporty’.  But my hiding was no secret—all anyone had to do was look at me.  If I didn’t take myself seriously, how was I to expect others to?

  1. Be Creative:  

Over 60 percent% of millennials are in debt, and living above theirre means.  It’s so easy to be this way especially in our just one-click-away culture.  Perhaps it’s time to pay off the credit card debt, create a budget —and work with the closet you have and not the closet you can’t afford.  How you spend your time and money is a reflection of what you care about most.  While I want to look put together, I don’t want my legacy to be, ‘man that girl sure knew how to dress’.  I want to leave the world a better place and be defined by a generous and kind heart with a commitment to invest into the lives of others.

One of the most profound ways I’ve been challenged to integrate integrity into my wardrobe is buy pairing down my closest to a capsule wardrobe.  I don’t want to fuss about my clothes, but I do want to be comfortably chic.  A few ways I do this is:

  1. Make a List: 

At the beginning of each season, I make a list of things I need i.e. my black pants are on their last thread, and I’d really like to save up for a nice trench coat.  Once you determine your budget for that quarter you may have to save a few things to buy for next year.  This has completely extinguished random shopping trips for me where I would spend $50 here and there, and end up frustrated with a closet full of clothes I didn’t really like or were out the next season.

  1. Check for Versatility

When I go shopping, I make sure I can envision myself wearing the item in three completely different outfits.  If I can’t, then the piece is a no-go for me.  Even better is if I can find multiple seasons of the year that I can to wear the piece.  Functionality and versatility is key.

  1. If you Don’t Love It, Get Rid of It: 

Go through your closet, and take out anything that fits into the category of:  if I lose 10 pounds, I’m not crazy about the color, the straps always fall off, those pants cut off my circulation, etc.  The reality is if you don’t love, you won’t wear it.  And when/if you do, you usually regret it.  This was a painful process for me as I began to pair down my wardrobe.  My closet was full of items that I didn’t really like, but felt obligated to keep because of what I paid for them, or worse I kept them because maybe they’d fit me one day.  when.  My wardrobe is much smaller now.  But it’s made up of only pieces I love, feel confident in, and know I’ll be happy in throughout my day. 

  1. Capsule Brands I love: 

The lean wardrobe is becoming a movement, and there are incredible brands on the forefront of this capsule mentality.  A few brands I love are:  Vetta, AYR, Podolls, and Cuyana.

Chanel was really onto something when she said ‘less is more.’  And like building any characteristic, it takes time, discipline and patience.  Focus on one or two of the minor changes above and practice incorporating them into your life and wardrobe this summer!

XO,

Kat

 

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Life / Refined by Fire

Refined by Fire: When your dreams die | Grace Thornton

06.21.17

Photo c/o Alex Wolf

Grace Thornton is a freelance journalist and author of the book “I Don’t Wait Anymore: Letting Go of Expectations and Grasping God’s Adventure for You.” She grew up in Mississippi but lived in England and the Middle East before landing in Alabama for now. She blogs about travel, life and faith at Grace for the Road.

As a kid, I was quiet. Peaceable. I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t aggressive. And I definitely wouldn’t say I was confident. But inside me there was a deep-set determination of just punch me — you won’t break me. I think I got that from my mom.

When I broke my arm badly at 12 and they had to set the bone, I wrapped my toes around the foot of the bed to keep from screaming — and didn’t. I broke a thumbnail once in a high school sports team tryout because I’d used bad form, but I covered the blood and didn’t say anything because I didn’t want the coach to know.

It won’t break me. I can push through it.

Then just before I turned 24, my college boyfriend and I broke up. He’d been one of my best friends before we had started dating. I thought we’d get married. I was wrong.

And I shattered.

On the outside, I was getting a new haircut, blaring Kelly Clarkson songs and booking trips to Mexico while the broken pieces of my heart just lay there for the world to see. I was coping. Pushing through.

But I knew this one was different.

This one was someone I loved, sure … and that hurt. But it was also my life plan, every expectation I’d had since I was a kid. My dreams broke. And no cast, no willpower was going to fix that.

Whether I stopped long enough to admit it or not, this was a game changer. It wasn’t that I just needed to push through it until it got better … this was my new season. And slowly I began to see … I’d never seen the dreams I had (like marriage and a family after college) as a good thing that might happen one day, God willing.

They weren’t negotiable. I’d expected them. Just as we expect a bone will heal or a nail will grow back, I had expectations that my dreams would happen one day.

And when they didn’t … suddenly I had a lot of questions.

I started out with, “how can I make the best of this until it all works out?” and slowly moved to “how can I help make this work out faster?” I went on some blind dates. I threw myself into my career. I made good friends who liked to go places and do things, and along the way I tried to meet people.

None of those were bad.

But it took a while for the questions to boil down to the one that really mattered, the one that got to the heart of where I was, of who I was.

“If what I want never happens — am I okay with that?” Did it make me less? Would it mean I’d have a life that’s just okay, not the best? Does it mean that the God I had always believed in showed up for other people, not for me?

One day, with all the shattered pieces of my heart in my hands, I asked God those questions. I’d heard when I was a teenager that God would bring the right one would come along if I’d just wait. Those words were loud in my head.

But as I let them fade, I remembered other words, words that hadn’t been said nearly as much as I wish they had — or maybe they were, and I just didn’t hear them. They sounded cliché.

God is enough. He’s all you need.

It sounds like the kind of thing you say to somebody when you don’t have anything else to say. Seriously — He’s enough even if I’m single for life? Enough if I don’t have kids? Enough to make life feel like it’s not a consolation prize? If the God of the Bible is true, then those things are true too — He says them all. That other thing — the one about waiting for the right one — He didn’t say that.

He said I’m love. I’m peace. And I’ll be everything you could ever need.

And as time went by, as I got to know Him, it was true — so true that a day came that I said aloud … I’m glad I broke. I’m glad my dreams broke. I finally had a space where I could give God everything and let Him write a narrative for my life without boundaries, without being boxed in by the dreams I’d drawn in permanent ink.

He needed a blank page. And if there had never been one, if I had never let go of my iron-fisted grip on what I thought was best, I never would’ve seen what life was supposed to be.

Good. It’s supposed to be good. And it doesn’t always look like what we have in mind.

XO,

Grace

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Boss Ladies / Life

Boss Ladies | Mattie Tiegreen

06.15.17

Mattie Tiegreen

Photos c/o Kaitie Bryant Photography

Mattie Tiegreen of Green Tie Studio is a graphic designer specializing in minimal and meaningful branding and art direction. She and her husband live in Raleigh, NC but are counting the days until the west coast is home. She’s a forever mess maker and a super fan of sushi, sour beer and slow living.

Growing up I really wanted to be
An artist, then a country singer, then a teacher.

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
A vanilla latte at a local joint (or blonde roast with toffee nut flavor at safe-bet Starbucks)

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Washing my face! I’ve always been so lazy about it but I’m turning thirty this year and it’s time. I’m three months in and I don’t know how I ever went to sleep with makeup on.

One thing people don’t know about me is
I struggle with depression if I stay at home for more than a few days at a time. I’ve learned that I have to work from coffee shops at least once a week and get to the gym every day to feel like the best version of myself.

My real life hero is
Amy Poehler — because she is unapologetically herself and she uses her platform to advocate for a cause larger than herself.

What I love about my work is
The opportunity to make beautiful things with a purpose.

The hardest thing about my work is
Saying “no” to certain projects to leave margin for personal growth, travel, and rest.

How I got started with my current career:
I graduated with a degree in special education and a teaching position lined up. I had always been creative, but didn’t explore art in college because I believed there weren’t enough viable career options after school. I continued practicing art “on the side” – making greeting cards and wedding stationery for anyone who would let me. I had no intention of it becoming a career and went back to school for a Master’s degree in education and continued teaching. The next year, I decided to create a complete line of wedding stationery on Etsy. This changed the trajectory of my business.

Before I knew it, I had enough saved to quit my job and debut my paper line at The National Stationery Show in New York. I worked full-time in wedding paper for two years before deciding to offer strictly digital design services. As much as I loved the paper industry, it felt very transactional, which was not inline with my personality. I craved genuine connection and a longer relationship with clients. In 2015, I re-launched Green Tie Studio with branding and web design packages (and hoped and prayed I’d be sustainable)! Thankfully, the most incredible business owners continue to trust me with building or re-vamping their brand – the importance of which is never lost on me.

Mattie Tiegreen

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out was
Copy a wedding invitation I saw on Minted and add it to my Etsy page. I was so embarrassed when they emailed asking me to take it down. That’s how I honed my skills: imitating art I admired. What I realized though, was how wrong it was to offer it as my own work. I felt guilty about it for months. But I never made that mistake again and it pushed me to create and appreciate original work.

My typical day looks like
– I wake up around 7:30
– I let my pups outside, make coffee (french press for life) and breakfast (usually avocado toast or oatmeal)
– I enjoy a few quiet moments to be close to Jesus and get my thoughts together before I begin work
– I am at my desk by 9:00 typically answering emails or working through admin to-do’s
– I try to work on aversive tasks earlier in the day. Once I start it’s never so bad, but if I leave an aversive task for the end of the day, I’ll always find an excuse to push it to the next day.
– I break for lunch at noon every day
– I plan my week 3 days at a time down to the hour so I know exactly what I can accomplish. At 5:00 I start winding down and planning for the next day, which includes whatever I didn’t accomplish. I’ve found when I put large tasks on my to-do list for a day, it’s difficult to gauge how long something will take. It will inevitably take twice as long as I thought, meaning I end the day with a list of unfinished tasks. By breaking my day into hours and assigning smaller tasks to each hour (Project Brief, Inspiration Board, Send March Invoices, Round 1 Concept Edits, etc.) I’m less overwhelmed.
– I close shop around 5:30 every day and get ready for the gym at 6:00. There are so many days when I don’t feel like going but I tell myself if I run 2 miles and am still not feeling it, I can leave without a full workout. I always get into it once I’m there and have never left early!
– I come home by 7:30 to cook dinner and crash on the sofa with my husband and pups by 9 pm. I try to read before bed (but sometimes I blog or answer emails – a huge no-no but I still do it) and am loving Chasing Slow, Present Over Perfect and Art Inc.

I used to think success meant
More clients, more money, more press, more followers, more work.

My current definition of success is
Fewer clients, closer relationships, sustainability, margin, joy.

What does integrity in the work place look like for you?
I think integrity in the design world is strongly centered around inspiration. We live in such a visual world – it can be difficult to know exactly where our inspiration as artists comes from. Something we think is beautiful on Instagram can quickly turn into plagiarism if we’re not careful. No one intends for this to happen but it does. Of course in the grand scheme of life, there is nothing new under the sun. But, because we’re so inundated with visual content, another’s original ideas can sneak their way into our own work. To me, integrity is being aware of this potential and being intentional and innovative with new ideas.

Mattie Tiegreen

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities…
Last year I partnered with a friend as co-owner of a retail store. Though I loved the experience, I realized 8 months in that it wasn’t a good fit for me. I knew it wasn’t sustainable for our family but I was terrified to leave that and re-enter freelance design after almost a year out of the industry.

After talking with several mentors and praying for provision, I walked away from the store with a backup plan for what I’d do if I couldn’t book any clients. Thankfully, my design business is thriving again. I’m thankful for that experience, though – I’m infinitely more grateful for my job when I remember that nothing is certain.

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I don’t accomplish everything I planned for the day and resort to finishing it at night. Sometimes I answer emails or work on a “fun” blog project from the sofa, but if I head back to my office after dinner, I’m not in a good place. I really value my evenings. It’s the only time I see my husband, so when I compromise that time for work, I start to feel like a worker bee. To remedy this, I’ll start with saying “no” to extra projects or offering to begin them in a few weeks/months. I’ll also give myself 2-3 hours to work on a Saturday so I can keep my nights work-free. That way, I can still have a weekend (and will normally treat myself to a date night after Saturday work!) but can also knock out some deadlines. I’ll also set my alarm for 6am and get an early start (even though it’s so painful) and then reward myself with a sweet treat or fun outing if I can finish the to-dos after a few early mornings.

Mattie Tiegreen

The last time I created something I was proud of was
Yesterday! I finished a project strategy brief for a new client and felt like I encompassed the heart of her business. I got a text from her this morning saying  that the mission statement made her cry and that I had perfectly described why she does her job. That meant the world to me.

I wish I could tell my younger self that
Your job is not who you are.

The legacy I hope to leave is
Loving people well — right where they are.

XO,

Mattie

Life / The Refined Collective

The Refined Collective // Love

06.13.17

I am a romantic.  When I was 3, my mom caught me kissing Prince Charming on the tv.  Movies like The Notebook make me cry and pull at my heart strings every time.  To add fuel to my romantic fire, I’ve been a wedding photographer for almost a decade, and have been a bridesmaid 17 times.

Throughout my early 20s almost anyone I knew who was married was ‘fine’ and seemed to be living an ongoing, blissful, honeymoon.  I believed with my whole heart if you just had love you truly could conquer anything.

But then real life started to unfold.  After experiencing my own heartache and walking through painful relationships with close friends, the rose-colored glasses through which I viewed love and marriage were shattered.  I found myself looking at the world and the relationships around me feeling disoriented and oftentimes despair.

Some friends seemed to have done everything right.  They dated well, asked hard questions, opened their relationships up to their community, and were madly in love with one another.  But after a few months of marriage they seemed to be hanging on by a thread.   Other close friends woke up to devastating secrets or suffered emotional abuse.  Some were left in the dust when their spouses left them for another.  And much to my surprise, some of my friends chose to be unfaithful.  It all was so layered and complicated.

As I walked through these painful stories with my friends, my own personal experiences further challenged my beliefs.

Photos c/o Sara Kerens

A few years ago I fell head over heels for a guy, but we realized that as much as we cared about each other, we wanted different things.  The breakup was confusing and messy because no one did anything wrong – we were simply heading in opposite directions.  Love wasn’t enough for us.

In my 20s I dated a man I would’ve married if given the opportunity.  But there was a lot of drama.  When he was connected to God, himself, and others he was unstoppable.  But he didn’t live in that space.

I knew if we moved forward it was going to be a long road.  In the end it didn’t work out and he broke up with me.  Looking back it was such a mercy because I wouldn’t have had the courage to walk away.  With 20/20 hindsight I can see that I didn’t accept all of him.

That relationship woke me up to the reality that love chooses the whole person.  Not just their good side, and not just their potential.  A person isn’t their potential.  They are who they are the majority of the time.  You can’t marry someone with the hope that they might morph into another person.  That’s not love; it’s self-deception.  You choose who that person is today and say I’m going to love you.  Period.

For months I’ve been sitting with this question:  is it true that love conquers all?  Were the Beatles right when they sang, ‘all you need is love’?  Or is it more complex than that?

What do you need, in addition to love, to make a marriage and partnership last?  I don’t know the exact answer to this question.  But I believe it’s things like this:

• Do you accept this person?  Not some past, or future version of themselves.  But who they are today.  Can you choose to love all of who they are?

• Do you respect them? 

• Do they have integrity?

• Do you share similar values and worldview?  I’ve gotten slack over the years from family and friends over this.  They claim I’m being too picky, or looking for perfection.  But the lens through which we view the world impacts how we interact with everything.  Our core values and what we believe about God and humanity colors everything from how we respond to stress, to how we raise our children, to what we think about money and social justice.  Alignment on these things matters.

Sometimes our requirements of a prospective partner do need to be dismantled. Things like does he have a six-pack, does he have a trust fund, and is he at least 3 inches taller than me may need to be released.

While sometimes out of insecurity and feeling unworthy we don’t hold ourselves high enough to wait for the type of relationships we really long for.

But perhaps I’ve misunderstood what love truly is.  With the hundreds of weddings I’ve photographed over the years I’ve heard the familiar poem on love from 1 Corinthians 13 so many times I’ve become numb to them.  But as I thought of how I wanted to end this article, all I could think about were these ancient verses on love.

One translation says…love is patient and kind; love doesn’t envy or boast; it isn’t arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it isn’t irritable or resentful; it doesn’t rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. (1Corinthians 13:4-6)

What if we loved like this—fiercely, with patience, kindness, and selflessness, extending grace and keeping no records of when we’ve been wronged?  It makes me wonder if there were times I thought I loved a person, but really I was only in love with parts of him.

Are you like me and have had love and relationships on a pedestal for far too long?  Perhaps it’s time to look inward and examine what you believe about love?  Spend a few minutes and take inventory—maybe there’s some things you’re holding onto too tightly while there are some other things that need a more firm grasp.

Fairy tales and romantic comedies might give us butterflies, but feelings fade and can be misleading.  The type of lovethat I want to fight for in my marriage, family and friendships is one that…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…that kind of love never fails. (1Corinthians 13:7).

XO,

Kat

This Post is curated in conjunction with the ladies of The Refined Collective.  Be sure and read the other articles on love today by: Go Fit Jo,  Jackie V., Tonyha Kae, and Tutti del Monte.  Also, join us over on instagram today under #therefinedcollective to see what everyone else has to say about love.

Boss Ladies / Life

Boss Ladies | Kayla Seah

06.08.17

Kayla Seah
Photos c/o Corissa Bagan

Kayla Seah grew up in Canada and started Not Your Standard in 2012, right before moving to Berlin, Germany. After living in Berlin for 3 years, she relocated to Toronto to work with North American brands. She has a degree in Fashion Design and Communications and has been working within the industry since her early twenties.

Growing up I really wanted to be
An editor or stylist at Vogue

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Black Americano

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Quality skin care products

One thing people don’t know about me is
I love Hip Hop!

My real life hero is
My Mom – she is the most selfless human being I know. She is my biggest supporter and I go to her first for advice in almost every aspect of my life. She is the best!

What I love about my work is
I love what I do so much, nothing I do feels like work. I never wake up NOT wanting to work – I’m very fortunate and grateful!

The hardest thing about my work is
People not understanding this business. They think I wake up, doll myself up, and then take pictures of myself. That’s about 10% of my job. I guess it comes with the industry, but I work so hard that when I hear people’s negative opinion of what I do, it’s frustrating.

How I got started with my current career
I completed 2 internships while in University about 8 years ago – one was online based, and the other was like a magazine. After working in both fields, I saw that the online world was the way of the future. When I finished school, I decided to create a creative space online, and that is how Not Your Standard was born.

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Using a self timer instead of hiring a photographer – but you do what you have to do.

My typical day looks like
No two days are ever the same. A typical office day would be: wake up, wash face, brush teeth, make a smoothie, and then sit down at my computer tackling whatever needs to be done that day. This can be answering emails, scheduling for the week. I usually then meet with my photographer, have a meeting with my team, go to the gym, and work on the next day’s blog post.
Kayla Seah lace top
I used to think success meant
Making lots of money

My current definition of success is
Loving what you do and being excited for opportunities that may come your way in the future.

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities
The geographical moves in my life have been scary. It’s hard to be in a city for so long, then leave it behind and start fresh again
Kayla Seah

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I always make time to work out — it gets me away from desk, gives me a new scene on top of all health benefits. When I am travelling or really busy with work, I don’t always stick to my work out schedule and I feel it immediately. That’s when I know I have to slow down and regroup.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I am branching out and wanting to create more video content. When I was in New York in the fall, I created, edited, and finalized my first travel video and was very happy with the final project. I have also worked with Chanel recently, and got to create my own look and feel for a photo shoot. It turned out well and the company loved it – which is the best compliment of all.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Relax…have fun….don’t get caught up in boyfriend drama….be confident in your decisions

The legacy I hope to leave is
To be an inspiration to someone – both career and style wise.

XO,

Kayla

Real Talk

Integrity // Strides Towards Growth

06.06.17


A few years ago I took a series of emotional intelligence workshops.  On the first night we had to agree to rules and expectations.  You were either all in or all out.

One of the rules was that you couldn’t be late — if you were one minute late you wouldn’t be allowed into the training.

You could feel the tension in the room.  There was a quiet uproar—eye rolls, arms folded across the chest, and a few barely audible are you serious?

 Who were these people, and who did they think they were?  And what was with the extreme expectations?  Our coach then unfolded the why:  being on time had everything to do with our word.  And our word is the essence of our integrity.

Think about it.  Are you the person who is always so late that your friends tell you to arrive at 8:00 hoping you’ll get there by 9:30?  If so, your friends don’t trust you.  They don’t trust you at your word.  That’s a breach in integrity.

Or maybe your struggle is a little more discreet.  I used to consistently show up 5-10 minutes late.  Whether it was a meeting, church, or a date, I somehow found myself running around like a crazy person at the last minute.

Since I lived in New York City I had an easy out — everyone blames the train traffic, or a subway car stalling.  Sometimes it was a legitimate excuse.  But most of the time the real issue was my poor planning, because I hadn’t given myself enough margin.

If I’m consistently 5-10 minutes late to the events of my life, I’m sending a message to those around me:

·      I don’t take myself seriously.

·      I can’t be trusted to be where I say I’m going to be when I say I’m going to be there.

·      I don’t value or respect your time.

·      I think my time is more valuable than yours.

If I don’t trust myself to do what I say I’m going to do, how can I expect others to trust me?  And if I don’t value or respect you, how can I ask for your respect? Again there’s a fracture, a break in trust and integrity.

To actually be on time may seem like a small thing.  But it’s the minor, almost unnoticed decisions that prepare us for what lies ahead.  If you can’t be counted on in the everyday moments of life, how can you be trusted with the pivotal circumstances life brings your way?

One way to say it is,  “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much.” (Luke 16:10)

I’ve often heard it said that integrity is who you are when no one is watching.  I always thought that meant what you do in secret, and in part it is.

But I think it also means being faithful even when it doesn’t feel like a big deal. 

photo c/o Jen Trahan

It’s like when people say they’ll be more generous when they have more money.  However, if you’re stingy when you’re poor, you’ll be stingy when you’re rich.  A flip doesn’t switch when there’s more money in the bank.  Some of the most generous people I know are friends who don’t have a lot.

Although it initially seemed ridiculous that if you were one minute late you’d be kicked out of the entire training, after hearing the reasoning behind it I changed my mind.  I ended up agreeing to the rules, and chose to show up to the training not only on time, but early.

I no longer wanted to be the person who was 5-10 minutes late to everything.  I wanted to start being my word, and doing the things I said I was going to do when I said I was going to do them.

It was a small thing, but it shifted a lot of things for me.

Sometimes I still struggle with being on time.  But I now have the tools to make different decisions, and I have a grasp on how my actions impact others.

When it does happen I get the opportunity to admit that I blew it and ask for forgiveness. Rather than blaming the traffic I can simply admit, “I didn’t manage my time well.”   It’s not about attaining perfection, but making strides towards growth.

XO,

Kat

Inspiration / Life / Refined by Fire

Refined by Fire: A Different Dream | Nicole Ziza Bauer

05.25.17

Photos c/o Victoria Clemmons

Are you sure you’d like to do this? You cannot change your mind; the admissions officer politely wrote. I’m sure she thought I misunderstood or my brain had stopped working. Anything but the words I had written.

No! I’m not sure! I had wanted to scream. I have no idea what I’m doing or what comes next. Do you know?! Shouldn’t I know myself by now?

Instead, I just wrote: Yes, I’m sure. I understand; thank you very much for understanding

Lies.

Let me back up.

After college, I took the non-traditional pre-med path and decided to work before attending medical school. My plan was to beef up my resume by taking a stint in the real world to better relate to patients and make connections in my field. I had been hired at my dream university’s medical school to work in cardiology and I was on track. The chief of cardiology was my boss, I could sit in all the medical lectures I wanted and my life was happening.

But then, something else happened. Something I hadn’t planned on changing, started to change.

Me.

I had moved to Los Angeles after college to become a doctor. Not to do what everyone else did—become an actor or a creative. I wasn’t going to waste time chasing silly passions. I was going to choose the classically successful path and stick with it. Or so I thought

Two years in to my life in LA, after the MCAT and grad school interviews, I starting falling in love. Not just with my eventual husband, but also with the idea that maybe I didn’t need to have my life perfectly metered out.

I began having flashbacks of childhood: dancing on the bed, performing songs for stuffed animals, furiously typing scripts and forcing friends to act them out, spending hours in the yard creating worlds out of sidewalk chalk.

While some of this was due to being a first-born ‘90s kid, there was another part that proved unshakable. It was a feeling I had stuffed in my quest for perfection, a deeper realization of how I was wired and what brought me joy.

While medicine was a great and noble profession, I eventually had to face the truth I had spent years avoiding: it just wasn’t the profession for me.

The problem was, I wasn’t sure what the right profession was, and I floundered. I loved writing stories as a child, but had no idea how to translate that into the working world.

I felt inadequate. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like a failure. And a few years in to a job as a paper buyer for a printing company, I felt regret. Deep, jarring pangs of regret. I had let a brilliant career go in the whim of an email.

And for what?

It takes guts to pursue a dream. But it also takes guts to let a dream go.

What no one tells you, and what college doesn’t prepare you for, is what it looks like to fail.

What does it look like to tread the waters of a career when you don’t even know what one should look like? Are you treading in a direction? Or are you simply spending precious time and energy trying not to drown?

These were questions I repeatedly asked myself, wondering what was next and feeling embarrassed at how much my situation was affecting me.

It’s been ten years since I said no to medical school. And while I did, eventually, quit working at the printing company, I’m still treading water. There’s just been a crucial difference in how I view the current.

Treading water is necessary. Without working at life, we’ll drown. But the unknowns and the regrets don’t have to take us under. Floundering is still movement — as long as we keep reaching—and reaching out.

At one point I was really depressed because I didn’t know what to do with my life or even what it all should mean. I wish someone had told me, this is all part of it — it’s not about getting there. It’s about being here.

Because when we’re here, we can’t hide in someday. When we’re here, we see ourselves in real time; that helps us better sense the direction in which we want to head.

When I let medical school go, I didn’t know what to embrace in its place. So I started trying things based on my interests and connections. There was no master plan, no tangible picture of success – and I’m probably the better for it.

While it’s important to have goals, it’s also ok to let those goals evolve, to try on different things and to see what keeps coming up over time.

I never set out to become a writer, or an editor, for that matter. But as I tried on different careers—researcher, paper purchaser, nanny, wedding planner—my strengths filtered to the top. My passions did, too.

Rather than setting my career on a hill and making a beeline toward it, (which may very well work for some people), I’ve found a different sort of success in studying where I am and foraging from what’s around me. Who do I know? What are they doing? What are the small tests I can try to see what’s right for me?

In time, I’ve reached my hill anyway only to discover there’s so many others to climb. We all have our own, and isn’t that better? It certainly makes for a more interesting, beautiful landscape.

XO,

Ziza

Capsule Wardrobe / Style

The Sweet Relief of Summer // Vetta Capsule Wrap

05.23.17

Photos c/0 Tutti del Monte

During my first year in New York it snowed in the middle of May.  As a Texas-raised, turned Southern California girl, this was traumatic.  I can still shiver when I think back to that first winter of ice and endless snow, when I lived in my black puffer jacket until almost June.

This year has been a sweet relief.  It’s mid-May and it’s actually warm—sometimes hot outside.  In LA a cloudless 80-degree day was just another day in paradise.  I was grateful for it, but it became normal.  When something special becomes the norm it is easy to take it for granted.

After experiencing the brutal winters of the East Coast over the last four years I have a deeper appreciation for a beautiful day.  That’s something I love about seasons: when we know something is temporary we appreciate it in a different way.  I can appreciate the snowflakes because I know the heat of summer is coming, when I’ll long for that faint memory of an outdoor chill.  The nostalgia of summer and celebrating the Fourth of July with BBQ and fireworks is special because it happens once a year.

In this sense, spring has become a reawakening for me.  It’s a rare time of year on the East Coast, lasting sometimes only a few days or weeks.  It makes me think of a scene in one of my favorites books, The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe – when Aslan returns to Narnia and the long winter begins to melt away.

My soul is exhilarated with the arrival of cherry blossoms.  Waking up to birds chirping outside of my window brings a smile on my face before I even open my eyes.  I try to savor every bit of it, like a warm fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie with vanilla ice cream on top.

Sometimes I complain about the awful winter weather, just like everyone else does.  And when sweat is dripping down my back in a packed subway car in mid-August, all I want is to get out of this city.  But I’m learning to embrace the goodness and beauty in each season.  They’re special because they’ll pass and fade into another.

XO,

Kat

P.S.  I’m so excited about this Vetta Wrap top–You can wear it three different ways.  And you know–I’m ALL about the versatility y’all!

Boss Ladies / Inspiration

Boss Ladies | Britt Bass

05.18.17

Photos c/o Kathryn McCrary & Morgan Blake

Atlanta native Britt Bass Turner is an abstract artist known for her playful and colorful paintings. She fell in love with color and design at a young age (by way of her interior designer mother) through immersing herself in fabric samples and color swatches. Britt makes paintings and installations full time in her Roswell, Georgia studio. She also calls the quiet, Southern town her home, which she shares with her husband, Render, and their Boykin Spaniel, Birdie.

Growing up I really wanted to be
An architect

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
Currently an Americano with Almond milk

I don’t know how I ever lived without
My husband — my coffee is made and my vitamins are set out on the counter before I wake up! I’m not a morning person, so I have him to thank for getting me out of the house every day

One thing people don’t know about me is
I’m pretty good at ping pong

My real life hero is
My Mimi (my grandmother). She is strong, beautiful, wise, faithful, and has overcome so much in her lifetime. She taught me loyalty, how to speak up and stand my ground, and to go after what I want! She is my favorite person!

What I love about my work is 
It is light and full of fun. It’s engaging, yet not too complex to distract from the simple pleasure of viewing art. I love knowing that my work makes people happy!

The hardest thing about my work is
Making work when I don’t feel inspired, when I’m sick, when I don’t feel like it. It’s not a plug-and-play kind of job — it takes heart and soul. So your heart and soul have to be right in order to make the good stuff. My advice is, get your mind, body, and soul right before you make the work! It’s great accountability for me — I know I need to check in with myself when I just don’t’ seem to like what I’m making.

How I got started with my current career
I sort of fell into it in a beautifully naive, organic way. After graduating from art school I worked a few part time jobs to make ends meet while painting nights and weekends. Slowly my painting took over my other jobs, and after 2 years it became my full time job. It’s now been 6 years and I feel like still learning and growing!

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out was
Spending too much time on the nitty gritty instead of on my work. It should always be about the artwork, it speaks for itself!

My typical day looks like:
Wake up between 7-7:30, coffee, read, go to barre class, eat breakfast, get to studio around 10, answer emails, put out fires, check in with Morgan and Sejal (employees), grab lunch or go out with a friend! Paint until 5 or so, go on a walk with my dog Birdie and get ready for the night!
I used to think success meant
Pencil skirts and stilletos in a high rise office.

My current definition of success is
Time wealth!

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities
When I hired my first employee and current sales manager. I was so nervous about choosing the right person, managing someone. I’m so glad I got over myself, it was the BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE!

The last time I created something I was proud of was
A mini green painting I made the other day just for fun, for myself!

I wish I could tell my younger self
It’s all going to be OK!

The legacy I hope to leave is
A big happy family!

XO,

Britt

Capsule Wardrobe / Style

My Summer Go-To // Off-the-Shoulder Dress

05.16.17

Photos c/o Tutti del Monte

Do you have a go-to outfit for summer?  Something you can wear anywhere from three to ten times in one week.  It’s sort of like when you find a new song on Spotify and play it on repeat for 3 weeks solid before getting the tiniest bit sick of it.  I always end up having one or two things each season that I live in.  Most of the time I know it within the first few moments of putting it on.

I got this Old Navy dress when it was supposed to be spring.  When it arrived mid-April it was 30 degrees outside and raining.  I tried it on, did a few twirls in front of my mirror and felt great.  I knew this would be the summer dress for me.

When I was in high school I had an outfit schedule.  My friends and I didn’t want to repeat an outfit for at least 3 weeks.  We strategically planned when we would borrow one another’s clothes and absolutely make sure there was no cross over. Looking back I cringe at how ridiculous this was.

My high school self would cringe at the site of my current closet.  It’s much more sparse, but full of things I love, which I wear as an often as I want.

I may wear the same black dress 5 days in a row because I like it, I feel pretty it in, and it’s comfortable.  I no longer waste time thinking about the last time I wore something.

For me, that’s what fashion is really about is:  simplicity, feeling beautiful and comfortable in my skin.  If I can accomplish those things, I consider it a win!

XO,

Kat