Jean-ius

Some chambray inspired attire:

Chambray shirt, white jean shorts, leopard print belt, black ballet flats

Chambray shirt, white jean shorts, leopard print belt, black ballet flats

Shirt: J. Crew Factory: Belt: J. Crew Factory, Shorts: Old Navy, Shoes: Lands End Canvas

 

Black blazer, chambray shirt, leopard print belt, white jeans, black flats

Black blazer, chambray shirt, leopard print belt, white jeans, black flats

Blazer: Lands End Canvas, Shirt: J. Crew Factory, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Lands End Canvas

 

Jean blazer, white tank, tan belt, black jeans, slip on Vans

Jean blazer, white tank, tan belt, black jeans, slip on Vans

Blazer: The Limited, Tank: Express, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Vans

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Racing Stripes

Some inspiration of the striped kind:

Fuchsia cardigan, striped tank, black jeans, black flats

Fuchsia cardigan, striped tank, black jeans, black flats

Cardigan: Gap, Tank: Old Navy, Necklace: Forever21, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Kenneth Cole

 

Striped long sleeved tee, white chandelier necklace, tan belt, black jeans, tan shoes

Striped long sleeved tee, white chandelier necklace, tan belt, black jeans, tan shoes

Shirt: Loft, Necklace: Urban Peach Boutique, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Lands End Canvas

Plaid!

While on our honeymoon we learned that plaid is technically called tartan in the UK. You’re welcome for the random fashion knowledge.

Pink and blue plaid shirt, white jeans, tan flats

Pink and blue plaid shirt, white jeans, tan flats

Shirt: J. Crew Factory; Belt: Express; Jeans: Levi’s; Shoes: Lands End Canvas

 

White sweater, blue and pink plaid shirt, jeans, pink Sperry Topsiders

White sweater, blue and pink plaid shirt, jeans, pink Sperry Topsiders

Sweater: Mango, Shirt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Sperry Topsider

 

Blue and pink plaid shirt, blue cardigan, pink chinos, tan sandals

Blue and pink plaid shirt, blue cardigan, pink chinos, tan sandals

Cardigan: Gap (dyed), Shirt: J. Crew Factory, Chinos: Gap, Sandals: Lands End Canvas

 

Navy sweater, navy and pink plaid, ripped jeans, brown booties

Navy sweater, navy and pink plaid, ripped jeans, brown booties

Sweater: J. Crew Factory, Shirt: Lands End Canvas, Jeans: Levi’s, Booties: Aldo

 

Plaid scarf, white long sleeved tee, black jeans, leopard print ballet flats

Plaid scarf, white long sleeved tee, black jeans, leopard print ballet flats

Scarf: Lands End, Shirt: Gap, Jeans: Levi’s, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Shoes: J. Crew Factory

 

Plaid scarf, white long sleeved tee, black jeans, white Converse

Plaid scarf, white long sleeved tee, black jeans, white Converse

Scarf: Lands End, Shirt: Gap, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Converse

Peplum My Step

One trend I’m starting to fall in love with is the peplum top. I found one at H&M on clearance for $15 and had to try it out. I’ve only worn mine a couple of times and I really like it. However, I think I need to hem it just a bit as it’s border-line maternity top at its current length. (And no Mom, I’m still not pregnant.)

Purple blazer, white peplum top, black belt, ripped jeans, black open-toe booties

Purple blazer, white peplum top, black belt, ripped jeans, black open-toe booties

Blazer: Loft, Top: H&M, Belt: H&M, Jeans: Levi’s, Booties: Franco Sarto

 

Same look, blazerless:

White peplum top, black belt, ripped jeans, black open-toe booties

White peplum top, black belt, ripped jeans, black open-toe booties

 

White peplum top, navy belt, olive jeans, suede boots

White peplum top, navy belt, olive jeans, suede boots

Top: H&M, Belt: Banana Republic, Jeans: J. Crew Factory, Boots: Lands End

Olive You

I bought a pair of olive jeans from J. Crew Factory that I seem to pair with most things. These are a few examples:

Olive jeans, jean blazer, striped tee, black heels

Olive jeans, jean blazer, striped tee, black heels

Jacket: The Limited, Shirt: H&M, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: J. Crew Factory, Shoes: random store in Vienna

 

Jean jacket, olive jeans, light pink tank, tan belt, tan flats

Jean jacket, olive jeans, light pink tank, tan belt, tan flats

Jacket: The Limited, Tank: Banana Republic, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: J. Crew Factory, Shoes: Lands End Canvas

 

 

Black blazer, white tee, olive jeans, black sandals

Black blazer, white tee, olive jeans, black sandals

Blazer: Lands End Canvas, Tee: Gap, Belt: Banana Republic, Jeans: J. Crew Factory, Sandals: Aldo

 

 

 

Mint to Be

I can’t hide my love affair with the color mint very well:

Mint blouse, white jeans, leopard print flats

Mint blouse, white jeans, leopard print flats

Blouse: Banana Republic, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Zara

 

Mint blouse, white jeans, suede boots

Mint blouse, white jeans, suede boots

Blouse: Banana Republic, Necklace: Banana Republic Factory; Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Boots: Lands End

 

 

Mint blouse, jeans, brown booties

Mint blouse, jeans, brown booties

Blouse: Banana Republic, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Boots: Aldo

 

Yellow cardigan, striped tee, mint jeans, black flats

Yellow cardigan, striped tee, mint jeans, black flats

Cardigan: Gap Factory, Shirt: Zara, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Gap, Shoes: Kenneth Cole

 

Gingham Style

A couple of my gingham inspired outfits:

Green sweater, navy gingham shirt, jeans, suede boots

Green sweater, navy gingham shirt, jeans, suede boots

Sweater: J. Crew Factory, Shirt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Boots: Lands End

 

Tan sweater, navy gingham shirt, jeans, suede boots

Tan sweater, navy gingham shirt, jeans, suede boots

Cardigan: Lands End Canvas, Shirt: J. Crew Factory, Belt: Banana Republic, Jeans: Levi’s, Boots: Lands End

 

 

 

Black Out

I’m finally catching up on some outfits from this past year. Here are some outfits with an emphasis on black:

Black leather jacket, white tee, black jeans, black flats

Black leather jacket, white tee, black jeans, black flats

Jacket: Target, Tee: Hanes, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Kenneth Cole

 

Black blazer, black tee, gray jeans, black booties

Black blazer, black tee, gray jeans, black booties

Jacket: Lands End Canvas, Tee: Gap, Jeans: Banana Republic, Booties: Saks Fifth Avenue

 

Black cardigan, gray tee, black jeans, black belt, leopard print slip-ons

Black cardigan, gray tee, black jeans, black belt, leopard print slip-ons

Cardigan: H&M, Tee: Target, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Shoes: Kenneth Cole

 

Black blazer, white tank, black jeans, red heels

Black blazer, white tank, black jeans, red heels

Blazer: Lands End Canvas, Tank: Express, Belt: J. Crew Factory, Jeans: Levi’s, Shoes: Style & Co.

Inner Voice Outside

Most people know a little kid in their lives. And, as you think about these adorable little children, innocent and full of life, you’d never do anything to intentionally hurt their feelings right? You just want to scoop them up, smother them with kisses, and remind them of how perfect they are. (Because really they are.)

Dr. Laura had been a weekly part of my life for months and I could see the notable difference in my life: I’d reflected on a lot of things, recognized things I wanted to work on (and was actively working on them), put myself first, and was working on self-love. I’m saddened to share that all that has ended, not because she wasn’t absolutely incredible, but because it got too hard.

In my final sessions we talked about my self-perception and how I talked to myself. You see my inner voice can be really mean to me when I stop to listen to what it’s saying. It’s not like some people that think they need to be perfect – I don’t feel the need to be perfect and am very forgiving of not being the best at things. Instead my inner voice is just downright mean to me. It’s critical of my lack of motivation to work out; it beats me up over and over again about things I say to people that might be taken the wrong way; it makes me believe that because I grew up on a farm and have never been exposed to finer things in life that other people are better than me; it tries to convince me I’m undeserving of my KISA and friends that shower me with love; etc. It’s something I don’t admit to other people because I’m ashamed of it. I try so hard to keep my life loud enough outside to not be able to hear it from inside. Or else if I move fast enough I don’t have time to let it be heard. I pride myself on how well I can hide it by pushing it down so far that all of it is hidden and then faking confidence so others don’t know it’s in there.

The downfall to Dr. Laura is that she seemed like she really cared about me. She treated me so well that I wanted to make myself a better person for myself, my KISA, and her. It was like she saw something in me that I didn’t see, and I was willing to try, hopeful to see whatever it was. She was like having a stranger that cares for you in the way a mother does, even in hearing the gory truths you admit. Because of this it was inevitable that I opened myself up to her and admitted the real side of me that I was ashamed of.

I don’t remember how it happened, but somehow the inner voice got outside and she heard it. I was embarrassed that it slipped out and I could tell how surprised Dr. Laura was to hear it, which made me even more embarrassed. Like a magician’s magic scarf, she started pulling at it and the inner voice kept coming out and getting louder. Dr. Laura knew enough about my past to know that my father’s outer voice had become my inner voice, which I was ashamed of. If I’d stopped long enough to listen to what it was saying I would have realized that too, but what it was saying hurt too much to listen. Why would you listen to someone criticize you like that? You wouldn’t. Those are the people you don’t keep in your life, yet this one stayed with me, determined to be heard.

What struck a nerve with me was when Dr. Laura wanted me to imagine myself at 5. I closed my eyes and saw a little girl dancing and singing. After a few seconds I realized the 5 year old was a mix between myself and my niece, Emma. I admitted this to Dr. Laura and she asked me if I’d ever let the inner voice say to Emma the things I allow it say to me. The emotions hit hard and quick – a combination of violent anger and overwhelming sadness at how it would make her feel. Those are the things you protect children from, not say to them.

At the end of our session on August 1st Dr. Laura tasked me with making a list of the things I said to myself. She asked me to text her when I was done. I left without making another appointment, not yet realizing that I wouldn’t be back. I still carry the piece of paper in purse that she wrote on with my assignment.

So why haven’t I done the assignment and been back after all the raving I’ve done about how great she is? Because it’s really hard. It’s so hard. The idea of acknowledging that voice and what it has to say scares me. I know it’s going to hurt my feelings and upset me. I know the pain it wants to inflict. And to know it’s coming from within me and are my thoughts is too painful to see on paper or admit to anyone. Even myself. To admit that I’m that cruel to anyone, especially myself? It’s much easier to just shove it away rather than dissect where it’s coming from and relive my past.

I know one day I’ll get the strength to reach deep within myself, pull out the demon, and listen to what it has to say. And when I find that strength I’ll call Dr. Laura or another therapist and find out how to kill it. Until then I plan to smother every little kid I meet with loving words and affection so that hopefully my outer voice will become their inner voice when they grow up.

Wedding Planning

I’ve always known I don’t handle stress well. Planning a wedding reinforces that. I missed the last week of my senior year of high school because I stressed myself out so much I got sick with a head cold and the flu at the same time. When I was in college I stopped sleeping because I was so stressed with working full time and going to school full time. I eventually had to become temporarily medicated to make it through graduation. At my last job I used to do the sales onboard trainings and management trainings that would involve all aspects of accommodating and entertaining the staff. I would get stressed in the weeks leading up to it, it would peak the week of, and then it would take almost a week after the training to unwind and get back to my normal, still anxious lifestyle. In addition to that, my job required me to travel 2-3 weeks a month. The lack of routine, changing time zones, eating out for every meal, sleeping in different beds every night, etc. stressed me so much I’d get tension headaches for months and would have to take a break from traveling. Once the headaches went away I’d go back to my reckless schedule. 

When my KISA and I started talking about getting married I told him I didn’t want a wedding. Of course I liked the idea of it, but I’d had enough experience with myself to know I’d be miserable. He conceded and after he proposed he announced he’d like a wedding, but we’d be getting a day-of wedding planner to ensure that I was stress free. I challenged him on not wanting a wedding and he was fearful I’d regret not having one and therefore we’d have one. (Plus, let’s be honest, he loves a good party.) I proceeded to not sleep for the next three weeks in a panic of trying to figure out what I wanted for a wedding and scouring Pinterest for inspiration. Having a wedding had never been more than a fleeting thought, so I felt ill-prepared as people started asking me what our wedding colors would be, where we’d be getting married, etc. I didn’t have answers and my KISA had no strong opinions on any of it. I inevitably spent Memorial Day, four days after getting engaged, with the flu.

After the first push of booking the big vendors and determining we’d do the wedding back in Madison the stress of wedding planning alleviated and we moved to blissful planning. It started being fun. That is until my trip back to Wisconsin in June for my brother’s wedding and my bridal shower. I again stopped sleeping, spent a bunch of time crying alone in the bedroom, and could feel my stress level rising. By the end of the trip I didn’t feel like I’d gotten everything done that I needed to feel prepared for my return trip in September. Thankfully my brother was having a wedding reception in August so I could have some more Wisconsin time to plan.

Unfortunately flight prices never dropped for the weekend of my brother’s reception, so we accepted the fact that we wouldn’t make it back to Wisconsin again before the wedding. This also meant I couldn’t do more wedding planning in Wisconsin. On July 20th, two months before the wedding IT happened. I was talking to my mom on the phone about all the wedding planning that still needed to be done. By the time I got off the phone with her I could feel the sharp pains in my chest and back. I couldn’t breathe and I knew I was having a panic attack. I couldn’t stop shaking and when I stood up I fainted. Thankfully my KISA was home to come to my rescue. After making out a list of all the things I felt I needed to do before the wedding he forced me to lay down on the couch with him and watch a comedy. The pain subsided during those two hours and it was less painful to breath. As the day wore on the pain came back and I didn’t get much sleep for the next couple of days. The wedding to do list made things seem manageable and realistic, but I’ve still had stress headaches every day since.

In my sessions with my therapist she has helped me come to terms with the fact that panic attacks are like a disease that you don’t choose to have. And, as much as you can try to prevent it, it’s sometimes inevitable. It took me a while to wrap my head around that because I’m a control freak and like to think I’m in control of my body and how it reacts to things. Plus, millions of people plan weddings every year without having panic attacks. Some even enjoy it. Unfortunately I’d have to accept this wasn’t something I could control.

Another interesting thing has happened in the wedding planning – my self-perception has changed. I have always been accepting of how I look, even when I knew I wasn’t a top quality version of myself. I had self-compassion and have never been too hard on myself. However, this has changed as the wedding is getting closer. I find myself scrutinizing the size of my arms, the whiteness of my teeth, how long my eyelashes are, my skin quality, etc. I had a dress fitting last week with all my accessories, my hair and makeup done, and looking as closely to how I hoped to look on my wedding day. My KISA saw me before I left and was commenting on how good I looked. For some reason I couldn’t see the person he saw and I came home crying about how I didn’t look like a beautiful bride in my dress like I’d hoped to. He reinforced that he’d seen me before I left and that he’d thought I looked good even in street clothes. My response: “Maybe I look good in street clothes, but I don’t want to look just mediocre on my wedding day.” It’s obvious I have unrealistic expectations of how I should look as I’ve always believed my wedding day would be the day I looked the most beautiful I had ever in my life. I cringe even as I write this. And, it saddens me to know I’m that hard on myself right now.

However, I will say one very positive thing: my friends and family have been incredible. I’m serious. They’ve been absolutely amazing. Anything I even mention my mother executes on. She’s been a workhorse getting everything ready and scouting for items at thrift stores. My aunt Amy has been my sounding board for all of my ideas and gives me her honest feedback. Her husband made chalkboards for the wedding so that we didn’t have to rent them, which their daughters then wrote on and designed (in addition to making coloring books and a beautiful display of origami cranes). My aunt Karen has comforted me through my anxiety and is reminding me of why I’m marrying my KISA through the questions she’s been asking to prepare for her speech (she’s our officiant). My sister has checked in regularly with me, even just to hear my latest ideas, and planned my bridal shower. My bridesmaids and close girlfriends have been quick to reply on requests, advice, plan a memorable bachelorette party, and also to check in. My sister-in-laws are planting flowers for the bouquets. My nieces and nephews have had an excitement for the wedding that is almost tangible and makes it seem more important than Christmas or Kindergarten (which is a big deal when you’re little). My brothers and brother-in-law haven’t complained once about having to buy a suit to be in the wedding and have asked about details of the wedding and taken an interest in it. My Godfather, who’s our wedding photographer, makes it seem like we’re the only wedding they have scheduled this year. All of our friends who are paying loads of money to come to our wedding and are so excited about it. And, most of all, my KISA has been my rock throughout all of the craziness.

I have to say, even with the stress and toll it has taken on me to plan this wedding, if the love I’ve felt by everyone leading up to it is an indication of what our wedding day will be like, it will be all worthwhile. Seriously.