Giving Myself Permission



Photo c/o Tutti del Monte

For five years, I worked a Monday through Friday 9-6 with a lunch break.  Growing up an athlete where I lived, breathed and ate on the tennis court, and later coached this was complete torture.  To be in an office by myself for 40 hours a week was a test of my will.  But I knew in order to get to where I wanted to be not only was it necessary; it was actually a blessing.

The first thing I did when I got into the office each day was turn on the computer, printers, and scanners, check the calendar to see if there were any meetings or events that day.  Then I would take out my yellow pad of paper with blue lines on it and write my daily to-do list.  During busy season I would easily fill out two full pages of things to-do and then add-on throughout the day.  But during our winter slow season it was a different story.

I remember it being early January one year, and we were slow(wwwww).  I came into the office Monday morning, turned everything on, checked the calendar to see no appointments for that day, week, and even the next few weeks.  Then I grabbed my pad of paper and pen and just sat there for  a few minutes drumming my pen on the edge of my pad of paper racking my brain:  What in the world am I going to do (not just today), but for this whole month!  What is the point for me being here this week.  It’s all pointless busy work at this point.

I was fine packing my stuff up and calling a spaid a spaid and saying ‘hey boss see you next month, I’m going to the beach’.  But I knew that wouldn’t sit well with him.  After staring blankly for what seemed like an hour I finally came up with two things for me to do that month day:

  • Organize my email into folders with labels and tabs.
  • Clean and organize the supply closet.

You can imagine how inspired I was.  How in the hell was I going to make that into a whole 8 hour work day, let alone what was I going to do for the next 4 weeks?  Surely I was going to die from boredom or the fumes of all-purpose cleaner as I cleaned the closet for the 29th time.  But alas I did not.  I made it through.  I found things to do, and I did not die of boredom.

What I remember about that day, and days like it was this though:

When I run my own business I want to work hard and efficiently.  None of this 60 hour work week business.  And on days that were slow I wanted to give myself permission to enjoy those moments.  Pack up and go to the beach on a Monday for a few hours.  Go to a midday workout class.  Have a long lunch.  Because inevitably there will be a time a few months down the road when we’re drowning in work and 12 hours days seem as normal as breathing and I’ll have wished I took some time off in the dull days of winter or spring.  The calm before the storm.


Now three years into my running my own business now I’ve learned a thing or two.  For starters:  I’m a harder boss on myself than any other person I have ever worked for. I can just be straight mean to my employee (me).  Instead of letting her go out with friends I boss her around, and make her work through the night just to hit a self-imposed deadline.  Anyone with me?

I’ve also learned that when it’s your own the amount of ownership you feel over every aspect of your business is infinitely more than when you are working for someone else.  I’m always thinking of things to do, portfolios to update, hard drives to triple back up, meetings to set up, articles to write, people to reach out to.  It’s been three years, and I still am looking for that ‘off’ switch that seemed so readily available to me when I worked for someone else.

Giving myself permission as a business owner to enjoy the perks of running my own business is a hard thing to do.  It’s an actual muscle that needs to be strengthened, and is actually a good thing to have in your ‘arsenal’.   I try to remind myself of what I wanted when I started my own business.  What type of lifestyle I was looking for.   And enjoying beautiful middays in the park, and taking trips and working really hard in between was what I wanted.

This week giving myself permission looked like taking a few hours off to ride bikes with my best friend in Brooklyn.  After I got over the initial ‘guilt’ of not working I enjoyed myself so much, and was able to get back to the office and work really hard later that day.


If you’re a business owner or freelancer like me, how can you give yourself permission to enjoy your lifestyle more?  Maybe it’s just taking a 15 minute break, and walking to get an iced tea or maybe it’s finding an airbnb in Paris for an off-month to work and live remotely.  Or maybe you struggle with balance or giving yourself permission.

Whatever it is, I’d love to hear it.




[GIVEAWAY] Purpose Dresses


*This giveaway is now closed! Congrats Lexi on winning! And thank you to everyone who commented and entered!*

Today we are excited to feature Purpose Boutique!

purpose dresses / the refined woman

We truly believe that how you shop matters to the world. Supporting companies that are good for the environment, ethical, and promote justice seems like the least we can do.

Em’s wearing the Navy Christine dress from the Purpose Dress line and today we are hosting a giveaway for one Purpose dress and one accessory!

These dresses are not only comfy – they are cute, versatile and an awesome wardrobe staple for any closet. And the most beautiful thing about this line is that these dresses are made by survivors of injustice in Austin, Texas – giving them hope and dignity as artisans is a pretty rad mission.


Leave a comment below and tell us a fun fact about yourself and you’ll be entered to win!

If you share this blog post on facebook/twitter/instagram please tag us @therefinedwoman and @purposeboutique and leave a comment with a link to that post for extra entries!

Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday 5/8 and notified via email. Open to US Residents only.

purpose dresses / the refined woman

purpose dresses / the refined woman

purpose dresses / the refined woman

purpose dresses / the refined woman





This post is in collaboration with Purpose Dresses. Thanks for supporting posts that keep The Refined Woman’s doors open. 


The Refined Man

The Refined Man is ALTRUISTIC



A few years ago one of my best friends Erica + I made the drive up to LA from Newport Beach on a hot summer afternoon to take a Beyonce dance class.  We showed up, didn’t know anyone, and placed ourselves strategically in the back row.  Since we were in LA I’m pretty sure we were one of the only non-professional dancers there.  Even though we could hardly keep up with the choreography, after class we were sweaty and ready for round two.  Crespatrick was the dance instructor, and came up after class and introduced himself to us (but I’ll be honest…he really introduced himself to Erica:).  At that time none of us had any idea that a few short years later Erica + Crespatrick would be planning their wedding!  Moral of the story:  GO TO YOUR LOCAL BEYONCE DANCE CLASS TO FIND YOUR HUSBAND. #duh.

But really I could not be more excited for these two + their journey together.  Crespatrick is an incredibly talented dancer (among many other things) + is a man of honor and integrity.  He truly is a Refined Man + I’m so excited for you to get to know him!




To live an altruistic life is to live a selfless, outward focused + generous life.
This word has only been part of my vocabulary for a few years now, but its meaning has been something I have been taught my whole life.
“Be kind.”
“Treat others how you want to be treated.”
“Put others before yourself.”
These are all things I was told by my parents, mentors, peers and everyone else in between. I always knew to have a good sense for other people, but it wasn’t until I became others minded that the way I lived out my life completely shifted.
I came to LA 8 1/2 years ago chasing my dreams in dance, and then chasing a dream in styling, then designing and blogging and then at times all of those at once. Through the ups and downs of trying to choose a lane and stay in it I’ve sought to please one person and one person only:   Me.   I realized I lived this way out of a broken place that was led by selfishness. I would write out goals and plans for my satisfaction, but I never thought once how could these goals help benefit others:  the ones I love, even help benefit the masses. 
God echoed in my soul reminding me to be a servant of all. It didn’t matter what I was doing but more who was I doing it for. A man takes his passions and thrusts them forward with altruistic guidelines. He doesn’t think “I” but “You.” He doesn’t say every man for himself but me for every man.
We aren’t meant to just do Altruistic acts but to live an Altruistic life.   Just like this word is an adjective it should describe a mans essence, not just random acts.  When we live to love then you will love to live. 
Crespatrick de los Reyes


Photos C/O Lindsey Shea Photography