Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday's style

Winter is not my favorite month weather-wise, but I have to admit I love the clothes.

Sweaters, jackets, wool skirts, boots, gloves, scarves -- all of it appeals to me. Here in the Big D and at My U, however, "winter" is a completely different thing than in the N'East, and as "business casual" takes on a new turn.

Oh, and my determination to address minimalism.

Once again I am taking up the challenge of focusing my closet on a handful of items, so see what I really need. In the last year, I've been upgrading my style and my wardrobe a bit, having realized that it had been some time since I bought real, grown-up clothes for out-of-the-house work.

At home, I go very casual: sweats, yoga pants, t-shirts, buttondowns. For cleaning, running errands, preparing classes and writing, these are fine. Maybe too fine, if you know what I mean: "at home casual" can easily slide into shapeless pj pants and tees, affecting your attitude toward work as well as your own image.

For classes, however, I range from dressier jeans to trousers and skirts to dresses. My office is casual: colleagues often come year-round in sweatpants and ragged tees because they teach studio classes. Even my chair and dean have made a choice to "dress down": no suits, no ties, no lace-up shoes.

My own style (and preference) is more formal without being business-strict. This week, for example:
  • Monday: a lightweight gored skirt in black and chunky cobalt turtleneck, with knee-high boots and tights
  • Tuesday: a black-white ponte dress with a sweater-coat in black, tights and same boots
  • Wednesday: dress jeans, a silvery smock top and brown ankle boots
  • Thursday: black trousers, a jersey V-neck top in wine, black open cardigan, black ankle boots
  • Friday: black trousers, a jersey V-neck top in black, suede jacket, ankle boots
I add a scarf or jewelry, belts, a purse and a laptop bag. Done.

Everything has to be appropriate for student meetings, classes, walks to the library across campus, and simply being seen, 5 days a week.

So this month (February), I'm paring things down to twenty items. That doesn't include accessories, shoes, coats and simple/multiple items like tank tops or tees. My closet is starting to look fat to me again, and decisions will have to be made about what's going. The best way is to see what I use and like on a regular basis, and stick to that.

(I looked back to the first Express Lane Checkout post, in Fall 2010, and realize the basics of my wardrobe haven't changed all that much... but individual pieces have and there are more dresses here than in previous seasons. And there's more gray.)

Twenty pieces for February:
  1. black trousers
  2. straight-leg jeans (dressy dark blue)
  3. black gored skirt
  4. black pencil skirt
  5. black/white ponte dress
  6. black ponte dress
  7. black smock dress
  8. gray sweater dress
  9. black sweater coat
  10. gray sweater coat
  11. black cardigan
  12. blue cashmere cardigan
  13. black turtleneck
  14. cobalt turtleneck
  15. black V-neck jersey top
  16. teal V-neck jersey top
  17. wine V-neck jersey top
  18. red silk sirt
  19. cream silk shirt
  20. white cotton blouse
Let's see how many things I can give away in March!

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Resolution Bunch #4: Health

Health: mind, body, spirit & general well-being.

This is so not new. Sigh.

Let's just be specific and man up:
  • Lose 20-30 lbs (2-2.5 lbs/month): huge difference overall in every way.
  • Start adding 30-40 minutes of exercise four times weekly (yoga, walking, biking, cardio).
  • Increase endurance and general physical strength.Lower LDL to 105 or lower without medication.
  • Add laughter and meditation every day to decrease stress.
  • Take my hormones regularly -- like everyday -- to sidestep depression and keep myself on track.
  • Write regularly (everyday) to make myself feel better.
The whole LDL thing last year was a wake-up call. I need to improve this, as well as my overall endurance and well-being. This will also simply make everything else easier.

The best I feel is when I spend time in Paris. I walk, I eat better (less sugar and no processed food), my stress is lowered and I am happier. Sooo... make that real here in the Big D?

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 Resolution Bunch #3: Creative Life

Creative Life: writing, style, photographs and painting, new ideas and making them into something tangible. Primarily, for me this refers to my work as a writer and academic and teacher, but I believe creativity extends into all areas of life.

In 2013, I plan to stimulate my creative spark every month into a new project, as well as make collaborations with other creative people. This worked very well last year, mostly in the area of teaching.

But I need new projects, too -- like taking up photography again and getting back to sewing.

Resolutions 2013:
  • Finish one new play and have a draft reading.
  • Finish three new novels and get them in the publishing pipeline.
  • Buy a new camera.
  • Set out a local photo project.
  • Print and frame three photos from Paris.
  • Blog consistently, keeping content fresh.
  • Take sewing class.
  • Set out photo & blog project for London in June.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Resolutions Bunch #2: Community

Community: family, friends, colleagues, Small to large, overlapping.

Community is one area I want to really improve upon this year. In 2012 I realized I am an introvert, not really news to me but I am processing that as a personality characteristic in a different way than I used to.

In the last few years, I have noticed that my own step into "mid-life" status as a women without husband, partner or kids has affected my interaction with others. I've also noticed that the lack of friendly social interaction in my department (which is not about me, but changes in the department overall). The outcome is that I am required to put more effort and more reach into meeting people, making and keeping connections, and simply getting connected.

Of course, the first and most important circle is family and close friends. In a world full of facile global interaction, this is harder than it seems -- and easier.

This also works by focusing on what I enjoy and connecting with people who also enjoy it. Oh, and getting out of the house.

So, resolutions:
  1. being more mindful of my close family and friends, contributing more to those relationships.
  2. putting in more regular time (back to "resources") on relationships, whether personal or professional.
  3. developing two new circles of outreach and connection,
  4. one of which comes out of spending more time on a hobby. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Resolution Bunch #1: Resources

Resources: time, money, energy, skills, talent.

For 2013, my resolutions include some management of my old favorites, those you can't ever completely "conquer."
  • Pay off credit cards and maintain my good credit rating.
  • Save some now and for retirement.
  • Work smarter, not harder -- in terms of time.
  • Cook smarter, not harder -- in terms of using time and money.
  • Continue to develop frugal and minimalist habits and mind-set.
These are all rather general, of course, so let's be specific.
  1. Make a current will, power of attorney, and other key documents, "just in case."
  2. Meet with retirement reps and get a sense of my forward progress (changes?)
  3. Save two months' worth of salary (for emergencies).
  4. Develop/strengthen my freelance writing work-brand.
  5. Develop six new habits of frugality (TBA).
  6. Budget time to include work/job, work/freelance, community, health, solo time... and stick to it.  
And a new one for 2013: Take the first three steps to building my own house, which include
  • talk to friends who have bought and sold houses
  • meet with the company who make the pre-fab houses I want to build
  • visit the Northwest and look at the area in detail, with the notion of buying land

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finally! 2013 is here!

After a brief vacation from this blog, I'm back and looking forward to writing big and bold in 2013.

That includes more news from Paris about food and sights and the notion of "living French," frugality and minimalism, style, creativity and the spirit, cooking and baking and the body. Yum, just as a sidenote.

Next up: 2013 resolutions! Something to aim at... or for. Hoopla!