New Year, New Fashion

I feel like it seems to be every year that I make some sort of fashion post (upon review- this was much more frequent…should it come back???). Every year I have at least one, which is funny because I would not consider myself a…fashion chatter. I like what I like and I’m comfortable in what I’m comfortable in and that’s that. I don’t expect anyone to come to me for fashion advice, nor do I dole it out. I’m a big believer in the idea that if you love what you wear, you can typically wear whatever you want. It’s all about confidence.

 

With all that said, I have seemingly honed in a bit more on my style, on what I move towards and what I feel the most comfortable in. I think I’m starting to find a bit more of myself in fashion and a bit less of myself in the “trends” of the moment. So, I figured I’d talk about it because why not. It’s fun to see how we evolve over time and grow more and more into ourselves. 

If you want a quick moment to look over some of my previous fashion related posts I did one where I switched out of constantly wearing the same “momiform” of sorts (this is what kicked this off) HERE, where I shared some of  what I wore HERE and HERE (I actually have several more of these- more than I thought!), where I first talked dresses HERE, then when my style shifted a little bit more to “me” with some of my favorite dresses HERE, and then a funny one on my “winter” wardrobe HERE. Quite a few posts to see the evolution- which is fun (though I cringe at some of those-oy). 

I think my style really started to shift when we lived in Europe. It’s a whole different ballgame there on so many levels and I really was able to draw inspiration from a wide variety of options. Oddly it was as overwhelming as it was exhilarating at times. I was able to figure out what I liked/didn’t like simply by observing those around me. This is also when I started to really look at fashion accounts, find what I actually liked, and then find places that fit my budget. 

Two things I found helpful when I started trying to figure out what my style actually was, mostly so I could stop spending money on things I would either wear once or liked the idea of but didn’t realistically fit “me”. The first was a concept I stumbled on on TikTok, which is the three-word method.  Using three adjectives to describe your style, or what you want your style to convey. The first two are typically constant and describe what your current most constant style is, but the third can change from time to time, or season to season in my case, to reflect what you want in your style. I found that the three-word method really helped me with the second helpful thing- being more aware when buying clothes. I think we can all name a time where we succumbed to a purchase, or a trend and it didn’t…work out in the way we hoped for. I found that the three-word method helps narrow down not only what I liked, but what I was looking for in my own clothes/closet. 

My first two words have seemingly fit right into everything I love. I want my style to reflect effortless and classic. I don’t know if those words really fit together, but I like to think that they do. And this is my personal style so I can do whatever I like haha. I find myself avoiding most trends- they never seem to look just right on me and I don’t really want to go buy new wardrobes every single time a trend goes in or out of fashion. I’d rather have classic staples that work through trends, then if I feel drawn to something specific that is trending, I can see if it fits with what I’ve already got going on. The third word is probably the one that changes the most- I find that my needs tend to shift when one season changes into another. I tend to fall into the same line of thinking- in summer it’s “soft” or “floral”; in winter it’s “oversized” or “layered”. We’ll get into it a little bit more in a minute. 

So, when I purchase something new, I try to remind myself of a couple of things…

!) Do I have more than one thing to wear this with? You would be shocked to find out how many times any of us purchase something that only goes with…one other thing in our closet. I’ve done it countless times. So, when I purchase something, really anything, it has to be with versatility in mind. I have to be able to make at least 3-5 outfits with the new item and what I already have. 

2) Will I actually where this/Does this fit with my lifestyle? Again, you would be shocked at how many times this happens. We find that cute top or dress or heck an entire outfit, buy it and then either never find an occasion to wear it or realize that it just doesn’t fit with our day-to-day lifestyle. For me, this means that when I am buying something new it has to fit with a variety of activities. 

3)Do I already have this or something similar in my wardrobe? I’m probably the worst at this one- if I find something I like I buy it in many similar variations. While I want my wardrobe to fit my style, I want it to subtlety be different. It needs to be dynamic. If we feel like we are wearing the same thing ALL, the time- it gets stagnant. So, while I might want 5 gray sweaters, maybe I should by that pop of color sweater instead. 

4) Am I buying this because it feels “of the moment” or because I feel like it actually fits in my wardrobe? This is something I try to stick to, but probably give myself a bit more grace on this because sometimes those “of the moment” options can fit right into my existing wardrobe and become a long-standing piece. But honestly, most impulse purchases tend to be in the store going “oh this is so cute” and then I take them home, realize it’s either too trendy for me or just doesn’t look how I want it when incorporated into other outfits and it goes to the wayside. 

I’ve found that honing in on my style, then incorporating it into my buying habits, and trying to stay a bit more…strict about it has really cut down on my buying of a bunch of random clothes. I don’t stick with these hard and fast, there are times where I’ll grab something completely off the wall, but most of what I buy tends to fit very well into what I already have. 

So, what is my actual style incorporating this whole method?

Well, I found that in the warmer weather I have an affinity for dresses. I love to wear a dress the minute the weather warms enough, and I typically wear them all summer long- I’ve got enough to last (and I’m always adding more). I like to think that my summer style lends itself to that…European Countryside/Cottage Core look. I still keep the effortless and classic but add in that “soft” touch with the style of dresses- most that I lean toward tend to be longer, flowy (I love a good midi dress) and softer colors that, mostly, give hints of floral elements. Now, I do still have my jean shorts and some shorter skirts that cycle through during the summer (we do hike quite a bit when the weather turns nice) so it’s not sure fire this, but even the shorts and skirts tend to be paired with tops that fit these words. 

My Autumn/Winter style tends to be a bit more…well more. Most of the time it’s full of sweaters and pants- usually oversized sweaters with some skinny or straight leg pants. I still keep the effortless and classic, but I add in “oversized” or “layered” to my Autumn/Winter style.  Where we currently live (and honestly, it’ll probably be the same wherever we settle down to) it is simply to cold to be able to wear anything other than the chunky sweater/jeans look. And honestly, I think even if it wasn’t as cold, this would still be a bulk of my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. I do love a good sweater- I just would probably pair it with a skirt/longer dress or wear a good sweater dress. I’ve actually picked up a couple of the longer sweater/ribbed dresses for Autumn/Winter to try out. If a random warmer day pops up through the winter (or if we’re traveling to somewhere that is a bit warmer) I’ll throw those on instead.  

Two final thoughts…as you can tell from the pictures, I don’t typically go towards specific colors- though I do tend to find myself reaching for certain colors depending on my mood or just general vibe. If I had to say though (even if it’s not well represented in these photos) I tend to own a lot of blues/whites and then browns, grays, and recently some more greens. I do have a few pops of color- though they tend to be bright pops rather than softer muted tones.

Throughout the season I typically add a couple of pieces that refresh and fall into my wardrobe quite nicely and I’ve already got my eye on a couple spring/summer pieces that I’m very much looking forward to adding in.

And that’s really it! Who would have thought I would have had 1500+ words in me to share about fashion, but here we are! A little chatty clothing post to break things up a bit. 

2022 – A Year in Review

Whew- 2022 is coming to a rapid end. Does anyone else just feel like…where did this year go? It can’t just be me, honest it can’t. I feel like this year has just flown by. 

The New Year is funny as I celebrate the Jewish New Year and it’s always, historically been when I feel like it’s a new year…but then I celebrate and wrap up with the English calendar. So, most of my thoughts and goals have already been stated possibly, though I have a bit of a firmer attitude at this point. 

2022 was…notable and yet not notable. I learned some things about myself, my relationships, and others that really shaped my thoughts and life moving forward. I’ve alluded to this before, but there have been some real ups and downs over the past year. Nothing terrible, but just…reminding myself of lessons I’ve learned prior to this. 

I’ve learned that jealousy from others is a very real thing and that there is nothing that you can do about it- maybe even more so when it’s about aspects that you can’t really…help. I’ve learned that as much as you might love something, if it’s toxic you have to lesson your involvement. I’ve been reminded that once you remove certain people and situations from your life you remember what life is. 

I’ve had to relearn and remind myself what sticking firm to my boundaries looks like. I’ve had to remind myself that there are shades to boundaries (remember THIS post?). I’ve had to have conversations with my children that I hadn’t expected to have yet- and I’ve said, “this is a conversation we aren’t quite ready for, but if you have any questions, please ask them”, several times. 

But I’ve had so many good times in 2022. I’ve re discovered and reminded myself who I am, the beauty and excitement and magic of the little moments I’ve found joy, happiness, and magic in the little in between moments, in the mundane daily tasks, in the tiny touches nobody notices (until they do). We’ve traveled quite a bit- NYC, Niagara, Mackinac, Toronto, Montreal, North Creek for the Autumn Leaves, and Letchworth for our Camper Trip. Our older baby “graduated” Kindergarten ahead of grade level, and our youngest started Kindergarten strong ending 2022 with an award! 

When I sat down to figure out my word of the year back during Rosh Hashanah (post HERE), I really took the time to think about what I wanted to welcome in my life in the new year. It sounds ridiculous but I really want to choose a word wisely. I don’t know it’s just important to me, but it is and this year I kind of struggled. Eventually it just came to me…

Simcha – the Hebrew word for Joy. That’s what I wanted. That was all I wanted. Joy in everything. And to be honest, I think I’ve found it. It’s funny because I picked “Simcha” because that’s what I wanted, but it’s what I had been finding for several months. I had been reminding myself what joy in everything looked like. And I feel like I’ve brought it to life, both in myself and in my family. And I’m excited to see what is coming in 2023 and my Jewish New Year has already been going SO WELL. 

What else do I want in 2023? Well, not a whole lot. I think this year is the year that I don’t have a lot of goals- every year I’ve said that I want to complete a few personal projects, and this still stands, but I don’t have a timeline for those. I started back on my podcast, and I want to continue that, I want to take on a bit more volunteer work and do more within my community. But I also want to recognize that 2023 is going to be a toucher one for us and I want to be flexible to work around the year ahead. 

I hope that everyone has a wonderful start to the New Year! Let me know if you do a word of the year, if so, what is it? Do you have any goals for the new year? 

Hanukkah 2022/5783

Ah, Hanukkah- the magical holiday about hope, about holding and fighting on to your beliefs, your traditions, and about having a joyous celebration for 8 long nights. It’s one of my favorite holidays and one of the few that is purely celebratory. We celebrate the Maccabees triumph, and we celebrate the miracle of the oil lasting. This year Hanukkah started this past Sunday evening and goes until Christmas Day (so our original gift giving of the first and last night is not happening this year- I’m thinking first and fourth? Who knows).

This year is a special one as it is the first year, I am going to be sharing Hanukkah in a real way. I’ve been invited into the boys’ classroom to share the holiday, as well as our local library for Storytime. It feels good, in the light of all of the rampant Jew Hatred lately, to be able to share the joy of Judaism through this holiday. To be able to share my Jewish-ness in a real way, in a way that is meaningful. 

Last year I really talked about the holiday of Hanukkah – you can read that HERE (I also talk about the Christmas-ization and the attempt of companies to profit off of Hanukkah more and more). This year, because I am teaching in a public school, I am not able to touch on any religious aspects of the holiday. This actually works out well as a) Judaism is an ethnicity before a religion (though the two are closely tied and it is technically considered and ethnoreligion) and b) Hanukkah is a minor religious holiday- not even really religious at all beyond the fact that they are praying in a temple. 

Since we aren’t fully going into the details of the celebration of Hanukkah (beyond the basic festival of lights), we are going to be leaning heavily into the traditions of the holidays and what exactly we do to celebrate.

Light the Hanukkiah

So, I think this one is pretty obvious if you know anything about Hanukkah and it’s one of the most important, key things. Every night we light one candle on the menorah celebrating every night the oil lasted. We light the candles from right to left using the Shamash (Helper) Candle. Now, a Menorah and a Hanukkiah are two different things. They are often used interchangeably- especially by non-Jews as the menorah is not as universally recognized. A Hanukkiah is specific to Hanukkah and has 8 candles plus the ninth Shamash candle (so a total of 9 candles). A menorah is a more standard 6 candles, plus a seventh helper candle (a total of 7). There is a difference, and to see a standard menorah on a Hannukah shirt bugs me. 

Every night of Hanukkah at sundown we kick the evening off with lighting the menorah, some families might light multiples) before getting down to the celebration. 

Games for Hanukkah

Another obvious one if you know anything about Hanukkah is the game of Dreidel, but maybe you don’t know the history of the game…

So back in King Antiochus’ reign, the Jews were not allowed to study Torah or practice any of their beliefs, this is all well-known knowledge at this point. However, the Jewish people have always found a way, even if it is under darkness and in total secrecy. The Torah Scholars in Antiochus’ day would quickly hide the torah scrolls and studies and pull out the spinning tops when the Greek soldiers would approach. They were “playing” not studying. Later this game would get the name “dreidel” (Yiddish for “to turn around”) and the letters on the dreidel stand for “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” or “A Great Miracle Happened Here” (I would have the appropriate Hebrew here, but Word and WordPress do not take kindly to inserting Hebrew into English- it reads different and then messes the entire document up). 

Dreidel is a fairly simple game that can descend into competitive chaos and great fun. Each side represents a different task- Nun – nothing, Shin – put one in, Hay – get half, and Gimel- get everything. Each player can start with the same amount of gelt, and then the center pot has enough gelt for each player to have one (so 6 players, the pot needs a minimum of 6 pieces- you can choose whether this comes from a separate amount or if the players put in to start). If you do not have enough gelt you can also use chocolate chips, raisins, pennies, whatever little treat. Each player gets a turn to spin the dreidel and follow the direction. Once a player runs out, they’re out! The game ends when there is only one player left with all the gelt. 

What we eat during the Holiday

I’ve actually been asked this this year and the answer is…a lot of food. Food is at the heart of the Jewish community- we show so much of ourselves, our community, our family with food. It’s one of the unspoken love languages (we will ALWAYS try to feed you or fret over food in some way). Most of our holidays have some element of food specifics- i.e., we eat a round challah on Rosh Hashanah, fasting is how we atone for our sins on Yom Kippur, we don’t eat leavened bread during Passover, I mean every holiday has some food element- whether it’s in the traditional foods or a more major atonement or guidance revolving the holiday. 

Hanukkah is no different. Most of the foods that we eat and enjoy revolve around…oil! Shocker since we are celebrating the miracle of oil and light. 

First up- latkes. Latkes are a potato pancake. Literally. That’s it. Shredded potato’s (with some other ingredients) fried in oil and then consumed with either apple sauce or sour cream- which triggers some lively debates (apple sauce for the win over here). 

You’ll also here a food called Sufganiyot, which are fried jelly filled donuts- think of it like if a beignet and a jelly donut had a baby. A delight (if you like that sort of thing) for the senses! 

Again, the main theme with both of these is that it is fried in oil. When we taste and smell the fried oil it is supposed to remind us of the miracle of the oil lasting all 8 nights. 

Most of our holiday celebrations are met with a main course of Brisket. Fun fact- brisket is the easiest of the meats to slice Kosher and it is more affordable, which is why we tend to eat it on all the holidays (it’s also delicious). 

Final- almost all Hanukkah celebrations contain some extent of Gelt. Meaning “money” (Yiddish), Gelt are wrapped chocolate coins commonly used when playing dreidel. They also signify the “gifts” that were originally given to children during Hanukkah. 

Finally, a note on gifts. 

Gifts are a fairly modern idea that mostly American/European Jews participate in, that’s right modern and only on our Western side of the continent (Israeli’s do not gift give during Hanukkah). The thought is that when Jewish families became more “mainstream” and Jewish children more integrated into our heavily Christian leading society, the idea of giving a gift during Hanukkah was introduced as a way for children to not feel “left out” in the rush of Christmas gifts. This tradition is vastly different from family to family, community to community, heck even year to year. 

Any Hanukkah questions? Leave them down below!

Boundaries – A Holiday Moment

Oh, Holiday Season- the time of year has finally descended upon us, and we greet either two ways…or a mixture of both. We either have excitement for the coming holidays, the family time, the vacations we are bound to take, OR it’s a feeling of at best reluctance at worst outright dread. 

It’s the time of year a lot of posts start to circulate about “maintaining boundaries” and that whoever doesn’t respect your boundaries can get out, and empowerment, and such. 

And those are all very important. It IS important to set boundaries, not only for yourself but for others. And boundaries are for EVERYONE not only for those who may have strained or toxic relationships. And boundaries look DIFFERENT from person to person, relationship to relationship. 

And while we see posts about setting boundaries, maintaining boundaries, we don’t really see many posts about the realities of boundaries. We don’t see posts about how complicated this can become, how boundaries being disrespected isn’t always black and white (though we wish it was), and that sometimes hope for something better can change boundary limits. 

Because while we can cut someone out of our lives who disrespects a boundary, and I know plenty who do, and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not always that simple in some instances. Sometimes it’s more being firm in your boundary, reaffirming it, and then moving forward. 

I’m speaking from a recent personal experience where I was very much reminded that I can do the work, I can set my own boundaries, verbalize them, work independently on myself to ensure that relationships with a high number of boundaries will work for me in a way that does not harm me, and have someone steamroll through that with a smile. It was a rude reminder that not everyone will respect, acknowledge, or believe in the work that you put in to make a relationship work all around.

Now you might be wondering from the above recent experience, why not just cut this individual off? And this is where I say it’s not always black and white. I have worked hard on myself and what I need my boundaries to be in this relationship to ensure that others can have a relationship, as others do. And I am OK with that. I have a hard line that, if crossed, the relationship will cease, but when working on boundaries I find that sometimes it’s better, for both parties, to reaffirm the boundary. 

This is why I feel like posts talking about boundaries tend to be lacking. It’s not black and white, it’s not across the board, it’s not the same thing for every person. Boundaries are so important, but it’s equally important to recognize where/what/how people choose to use those boundaries. Yes, crossing a boundary is disrespectful and wrong, but the decision on what you do when that happens can only come from you. 

So, while this is an excellent time of year to check in with yourself and your boundaries, and all those posts (and this one) might be a great affirming reminder for you to do that…remember that those boundaries are YOURS and you choose how implementing them works for you. 

Rosh Hashanah 5783

Shanah Tovah U’metukah! Happy Jewish New Year! As Rosh Hashanah comes to a close this evening, the Ten Days of Teschuvah begin (actually they start with Rosh Hashanah and then end at Yom Kippur). This period of time is a starting off point to reflection, growth, and returning to being the best that we can be. It’s a chance to jump start your growth and goodness for the year ahead. It’s a process that is meant to be continued year-round, but specifically these ten days are spent making right with relationships and our community. 

Last year’s post is really detailed about Rosh Hashanah and what we do, how we celebrate and what my thoughts were going into the past year- all of which you can read HERE. I’ll just add a little fun fact for this year. On Rosh Hashanah we wish each other a GOOD new year, whereas in the English New Year, you with a HAPPY New Year. This can serve as a reminder that by doing good, being “good”, happiness will follow. 

I normally post my Rosh Hashanah post prior to the holiday beginning, having spent the month of Elul (the last month on the Jewish Calendar, meant as a time of deep reflection and introspection) reflecting on the year, however this year I delayed. It’s been a bit of a weird time. Nothing truly major, nothing truly bad, just a forced time of reflection that had me…not really wanting to share things. I wanted to do some deep inner work and make things right in and with myself before I felt comfortable looking forward and turning outward. 

5782 was a year full of so many highs, a few lows, and a lot of…meh. Not meh necessarily, just a lot of stressful situations that, to be honest, I could have easily avoided or saw my way out of. And I should have. I let a lot of “out of my control” things affect my own self and that is not something that I really liked about myself. It’s not something that is directly in my nature, until I’ve been pushed to a point, and there were a couple of times that I was pushed to that point (and I shouldn’t have been). 

But I’m a deep believer in something higher than us, guiding our way, and placing things in/out of our lives to continue to guide and show us the way forward. And, while 5782 held both good and bad, I feel like I really deepened my own feelings and truths about my thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about relationships. And that is how I spent my month of Elul- deep in introspection over the prior year. I’m not going to be sharing too many of those thoughts, mostly because they are private and not something I want to put out into the world. 

All that being said, I was thinking and reflecting all the way up until Erev Rosh Hashanah. I was trying to figure out where I wanted this year to take me, it’s a year of change for us after all in so many ways, and I what I felt would be best for me, my family, and our community. And when I heard that Shofar Blast, that awakening to a new year, I felt those familiar shivers and goose bumps, and something locked into place for me. It’s a new year, a Shanah Tovah (a good year), and I’m READY. 

So, what does all this really mean???

Well, I’ve got a new…word for the year- really a new mindset. I’ve always been a “find the good” kind of person, but I found that in 5782 I struggled with it a bit more than I have in the past. That may not actually be fair to say…I’ll change that thought. I focused more of my time and intentions and energy on the negative, on the toxic, than I should have, than I normally would have. That’s more accurate. 

So, in 5783 I’m choosing הַכָּרַת הַטּוֹב (Hakarat ha’tov) or quite literally “recognize the good”. I’m also choosing שִׂמְחָה (simcha) or joy. It’s simple- there is no place in my life for the toxic, for the negative, for the bad energy. I recently read a quote that really just…resonated with me and fed into this feeling of needing this to lead my year- “At this big age, I’m only interested in progress and peace. Anything that costs either has to go”- We the Urban. If it does not serve my families progress or peace, if it does not feed our joy, our lives, then it has no place. 

Now, that does not mean that bad days do not come. It does not mean that we do not struggle. In fact, this year (5783) is going to be full of challenges for our family, but it means that either I will toss out of the negativity- treat it with a light laughter, turn it into something humorous, OR I will cling to the good moments when the bad come. 

None of this is really new to me- I’ve always been someone who tries to find the good, find the happiness, in fact this is something I touched on last year when my word was “mechaye” – something that gives great joy or life. This has always been who I am, but sometimes it can get a little lost in the everyday and this is my way of bringing it back to the forefront a little more. 

Beyond that – my goals for 5783 are in flux right now. I have things that I want to accomplish, as I do every year, and I feel like this year could really be a big year for those goals. Both boys are in school, so I have a bit more free time- though I’m rapidly filling it with commitments. However, I’m trying to keep an open mind to really welcome any new opportunities that knock on our day and find new ways that I can help those around me and in my community. 

So, with all those words said…I really just want to with everyone a Shana Tovah U’metukah- I hope 5783 is everything and more. 

As Summer Fades Into Autumn

Alternatively titled: Life Lately…

For me, Autumn starts on September 1. I’m not sure when/why I’ve picked this date, but it’s just always been there. It might have something to do with school schedules (and being on the East Coast where school does not start until after Labor Day has only solidified this) or it might be because no matter where we have lived, August has always been the worst with heat/humidity/bugs. Whatever the reason, for me “Autumn” begins tomorrow. And wow am I ready for Autumn. 

This Autumn marks a time of change, most notably that both my boys will be in school all day every day. I’ll have an empty house during the day for the first time in 6 years. It seems a bit surreal to me to be honest. Definitely a little bittersweet. As ready as we all are (and believe me, we are READY), it’s still a bit sad to think that my baby-est of boys, my little mama’s boy, is off to school. Luckily, I am volunteering within the PTO and school again so he won’t be far and the chances of me seeing him throughout the year and during the school day are high. He also attended the KinderCamp prior to school getting started and he did so well, loved every minute, and it very much added to his excitement of the start of school. 

In reality, there are a lot of other changes coming down the pipeline as Summer turns to Autumn, most of which I won’t be talking about, but it just feels like such a transition period- more so than in the past. 

I started out Summer with big plans- I wanted to journal with the kids every morning, we had an idea to our days, I had plans to only be here and there for little bits, while taking most of the time to really be present with the boys. And yet, while some of that happened, a lot of it didn’t. We went on our Summer Holiday, which was great and loved every minute, but then once we came back it was a rush to get back settled again, to get self imposed deadlines down, to re create those perfect day to days that I had dreamed, to then only throw them out the window- create playdates out of nowhere, and then strive to balance all the things I wanted to accomplish. It felt very…un summer like and definitely not like previous summers. I’m not sure what was so different, maybe it’s because this Autumn will be so different, but it just felt very short, very rushed, and very…unsatisfactory. But that’s life sometimes. 

Like Summer (you would think I would have learned, but no), I have big plans for Autumn and Winter. I’ve created a sort of overview of dates and timelines (again mostly self-imposed) that I’d like to meet and I feel like I’ll actually be able to do it. The big things are continuing regular blog posts (maybe some exciting new ones- anything you’d like to see more of?), starting up the podcast, and editing my book.

How was your Summer? What big plans do you have for the changing season?

Romanticize Your Life

Yes, yes, I’ve fully jumped on this trend- though to be fair, I’ve always been a bit like this- treating my life as if it were a movie where I was the main character, we just have now named this trend. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here…

***This post is full of photos of small moments, little pockets of joy reframed in my mind with a softness, a contentment. It’s these little moments, little mundane parts of our day, such as opening the blinds, a walk to the school bus, a cup of tea in the afternoon, that can be reframed in our minds. This is where romanticizing your life can begin. It’s also the bigger moments, the bigger show- at the end of the post- as well.***

Romanticize Your Life.

I think some people hear that or see a post with that caption and think…it’s out of reach or not realistic or just adding extra time and effort to tasks. And while in some cases, yes it can be a bit of an extra effort, but it’s much easier than it maybe looks. 

That’s because the whole concept of “romanticizing your life” is more so a mindset than everything else. It’s about falling in love, being so content with the life you are currently leading (and when I say content- I don’t mean in a stagnant way- we should always grow and change). Life ebbs and flows, we go through highs and lows, but romanticizing your life is about loving your life as it’s lived, good and bad. It’s trying to view the everyday mundane things through a different lense, in a different sense. It’s taking those little moments and turning them into more, whether that’s simply by putting on some music, filming them, or turning them into a grandeur production (I’ll explain that- I promise). By romanticizing our lives, we are reminding ourselves just how special some of these mundane tasks/moments, the everyday everyday can still be special.

 

I want to be clear, for me, this DOES NOT mean that everything is sunshine, roses and daisies. It DOES NOT mean that life is simple and easy. It DOES NOT mean that I don’t have off days/off moments/deal with tough moments with the kids. It DOES NOT have to happen every second of every day. What is DOES mean for me, is that the simple act of making tea, of putting together a little fruit tray, taking care of the plants (heck even doing the dishes, folding laundry, etc.), of doing the little tasks is calming, is charming, is sweet. It gives me a better outlook- the idea that instead of HAVING to do something, I CAN do it in a way that will be better/happier for all of us. 

I do this year-round, no matter the season, but there is nothing like having these moments in the Spring or Autumn. It’s no secret that I love the transitional seasons, Autumn when the leaves start to turn and fall, and the air goes crisp and cool. Everything floods with the vibrant reds/oranges/and yellows, and big scarves, sweaters and light jackets become our attire. But also, Spring, when new life emerges, when we leave that den of Winter and step back out into the sunlight. When dresses come back into play, the air still crisp, but with a lightness of life coming back. You can romanticize your life year-round (think of those moments in Winter when the first snow hits, or the snow falls just right, OR those Summer thunderstorms, lazy days on the porch), but it’s definitely easier during the transitional seasons for me.  

So, at its basic- this is about setting a mood for yourself, your space, and your family. Some of the smaller examples of how I do this just everyday- opening the blinds when I wake up, picking particular clothing out, playing my mood setting playlists (this can be anything from a “day in the cottage” style playlist with instrumental and movie soundtracks OR hits from the early 2000’s, whatever my mood calls for). I set out certain tasks to be right away as it…” sets the scene” so to speak- so I wake up and immediately open up the blinds to let the light in. Then I pick out a playlist that meets my mood- honestly most of my morning music tends to be softer instrumental or movie soundtrack style music. Somewhere along the way I’ll switch…or not, it just depends. These two little things first thing already sets my brain into a “romantic” mood and lifts my mood and spirit. Then everything else starts to fall into place after that. When I go down to make my morning tea or coffee, I make a “production” out of choosing the perfect mug for the day, preparing my tea, and pouring the water from the kettle. When you first start doing this, if you choose to, it may feel silly, BUT as time goes on you start to find joy in these little moments and then it clicks. 

You can also bring this concept into your own living space with plants or flowers, add books and little things that make you happy to the spaces of your home. In the Spring/Summer I usually like to have some fresh flowers on our counter tops, we also have plants (obviously), and then I’ll style the coffee table genre books in our home to fill some of the “first look” spaces. Light some candles throughout your space. These can be real burning candles or the electronic ones if for some reason you can’t burn candles. Not only will the scent fill you with that same joy and peace, but the candlelight will shift your mood as well. 

I’ll give an example of one of my most frequent “bigger” ways of doing this in the spring/summer…this is something super easy but makes a world of difference. Everyday my kids want a snack in the afternoon (which is totally normal) and I usually want to join them. So, we will make a full picnic out of this little snack. Yes, it takes a fraction more effort, usually in terms of cutting, BUT it’s only a fraction and the simple joy (and excited good happy behavior as a result) that comes from this is well beyond that small effort. I’ll usually cut a couple different fruit options, some cheese/cracker/meat combination, place it all on our charcuterie tray and, weather permitting, we will head outside. I would say we do this 2-3 times a week in the summer, and it’s always met with such excitement and joy (from everyone involved) that it ends up feeling like a movie. Something about creating this little picnic just completely changes our entire day. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t take a lot to “romanticize your life”. Find the ways that you feel content, peace, and joy and implement those into your everyday. Maybe that’s the simple act of opening the blinds first thing in the morning, maybe it’s morning coffee/tea on the porch, maybe it’s an afternoon spent at the park with a picnic. Maybe it’s being more intentional with your clothing or your space. Whatever it may be, I promise you there is just such a joy and peace that comes with being so content with life as it’s lived. 

To Thaw or Not To Thaw

Winter is veeerrrrrryyyyyyyy slowly coming to an end here in the Northeastern part of the country and I may finally be seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. This year we experienced our first proper winter in Upstate New York, and it changed us. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a winter quite like this one. 

To start with- the snow. There was a lot of it. Not as much as they’ve had in the past I’m told, but it was still a lot for us. And at times it seemed never ending. The weatherman didn’t quite get it right- it would stop and start of its own accord, and of course throw in the lake effect part and we had quite the time with it. We got a lot of use out of the snowblower (which I highly recommend) and the boys got to have a lot of fun. 

The snow was one thing, something I could prepare for, but what I couldn’t really prepare for was just how COLD it got. Let me tell you, I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced below zero temperatures, but I sure did this year. I think that was one of the hardest things about winter here, most days it was either snowing OR it was sunny and below zero. In fact, at one point I used the words “warm” and “not so bad” in reference to a 20-degree sunny day. Previous Mia would never. 

I quickly learned that those cute little winter outfits we see splashed around are just not…practical in any sense. And I’m not even referring to like the little sweater dress and boots. I’m talking about the jeans with the cute sweater, oversized but thin trench, and boots. No, no, no, that would not cut it here in the heart of winter (even though I tried- I tried so hard). 

Enter…the coveralls. The things that I would previously really only wear to go play in the snow with the boys have become an everyday staple in my winter wardrobe. Seriously, every day. I have found that these coveralls, with a long-sleeved layer underneath, pants (and sometimes thermal leggings under those), with snow boots, a thick winter jacket, hat and gloves have been my saving grace. 

The epitome of fashion over here. 

Because, to be honest, at this point I’ve really come to understand the whole function over fashion. 

When it’s -20 with a real feel of -32 and they are delaying school due to temps no one (you included) is going to care about that cute little sweater you’ve got on, or the perfect calf boots you’ve found. The only thing you’re going to care about is staying warm at that comes at the expense of “looking fashionable”. Note- I said looking fashionable, you can still be cute and cuddly in these clothes…it’s just not high fashion. Maybe fashion designers should take note ha-ha. 

In fact, if I do say so myself, there is nothing quite as cute as looking like the kid from A Christmas Story and staying warm. 

Planning in 2022

Well, it’s a new year and even though I am trying not to plan too much, there is still a lot going on and I still need to have a planner of some sort. Going along with my new “be flexible” lifestyle (ha- that’s a bit of a joke) I decided to once again dip my toes in the bullet journaling world. 

Here’s the thing, my ideal planner would have a spot to sort of time block my day in a visual sense, but also a separate section for a bit of a rolling to do list. I want to have the space to write out what I actually need to accomplish, but also be able to visualize how I’m spending my day in a time sense. All of that in a weekly view spread. Every planner that I was finding then involved me needing a separate notebook for the to-do list/meeting notes, and then a separate journal space, and a separate reading space. That was just not something that I wanted. Less is best, right? So, I decided to go back into the bullet journaling world to see if I could find a way to make it work. 

The biggest change this year with the bullet journaling is twofold. The first is that I’m using stencils. The biggest turn off or reason I stopped in previous years is it IS a lot of work and most of the time, I prefer to read a book or do something other. I’m not NOT crafty, but it’s also not something that I really focus on. So, I ordered a pack of stencils to kind of cut my time spent setting up my planner in half. 

The second change I made is in how I set it up. A) all of my months are preset at the beginning of the bullet journal. I needed to be able to see all 12 months at one time, with school/appointments/breaks there is just too much going on for me not to be able to see several months pre outlined. I typically am planning and booking stuff almost a month out, so this was a necessary. I wanted to be able to see my month, but then customize my week as it happened. B) I don’t have a monthly view within each month. Since I did the full calendar year in the first 24 pages of the bullet journal (a month on two pages), I don’t feel the need to then duplicate the work each month. This actually cuts a lot of my “bullet journal work” time in half. Each month has a reading spread and a tracking spread prior to the actually weekly spreads. That’s it. One page to track my movement, mood, and journaling, and one page to track all the book things (I’m tracking both reading and purchasing this year). Then I have my weekly spread, with notes and meeting information as necessary. 

I have found that, so far, a few months in, this has really been working for me. I’ve always said that I want everything to be in one place. That’s something I’ve always liked about Bullet Journaling- it’s really one notebook that can encompass everything you need. I’m hopeful that this will actually work out for me this year and give me both the structure and flexibility I think that 2022 is going to need. 

And that’s the planner for 2022! I’ll do another check in with it about halfway through the year (this is what I tend to do when I do bullet journaling) and we’ll see where it’s at at that point. 

New Year, New Nothing – 2022

Listen, it’s 2022. I think that this year is not THE year (which is OK). But, even if it’s not THE year, that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep our heads up, our shoulders light (maybe), and carry forward doing our best (whatever that means for YOU). 

For me, what does 2022 look like? Well, I don’t really know to be honest. Right now, the world feels like it’s in a fragile place and I don’t just mean in terms of the Pandemic. There’s a lot of scary things happening from {what feels like} all around and I feel like we are going to have to weather quite a bit over this year and the next. I know what I hope for, and I know what I’m going to be doing, but beyond that is really out of my control. 

With that being said, I’m not really making any resolutions or intentions this year. This is partly because of how I want to approach the year, but also because I feel like this year is going to throw us for loop after loop after loop to be honest. And my almost type a personality needs to be able to plan to be flexible (the laughs to be had there). I have things that I would LIKE to accomplish this year- a book, growing both the blog and the podcast, a new podcast, some big traveling, seeing some family that I haven’t in far too long, volunteering more, seeing both kids starting school, etc.- but I also want to recognize that if this year goes any way like the couple past, I need to also have some grace in those goals. I will still be able to accomplish them, but maybe not in the timeline or way that I had planned. 

I do have a word of the year, and some basic changes that I’d like to initiate just for my overall mindset, but nothing super major. This is also stuff that I’ve touched on before at Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), so you can read that post HERE to see…or just continue below haha. 

Ok, so we’ll start with the hard part, the word of the year. Back when I was working on Rosh Hashanah, I struggled to find a word that fit with what I wanted the new year to look like. The world right now is a bit of a scary place in so many ways and we’re in a dark spot, again, in so many ways. I’ve always felt like I wanted to be that light, that cheery spot in someone’s day, that person that can be the safe spot. Those are the moments/things that I cling to when I’m having an off/bad day, those are the moments/things I want to provide others with, and what I think makes all the difference. BUT I’ve never really found an English word that described that. So, I turned to Yiddish and/or Hebrew (this was in part because I couldn’t find an English word and in part because I really wanted to lean into this side of things a bit more). Enter: MECHAYEH or “that which gives life”, the idea of a thing or feeling that just makes your day (the example given was a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day).

That seems lofty, or like I’m putting myself on a pedestal, BUT I’m trying to think of it as more of an overall thought process, not like I am that exact word. 

Now, I already mentioned that I didn’t want to set full resolutions or intentions. I’ve mentioned some of the things that I would like to accomplish this year, but I’ve found that this year might be better to also focus on the little things in the day to day that can help me accomplish those bigger things. So, one of those things (something I’ve already been working on” is getting out of bed when my alarm goes off. We all do it, we all wait till the last minute, hit the snooze button as many times as we can, or just lay around on our phone until something else calls to our attention. When I don’t do this, I have a mile’s better day, feel clear headed, and don’t spend nearly as much time on my phone. So, that is my little promise to myself to do every morning. Get out of bed with my first alarm and get on with my day, instead of procrastinating until the last minute. 

And that’s really it. That’s my one full resolution for 2022. I’m hoping that doing that will help me accomplish those other bigger goals. This may seem like a “cop out” in so many ways, but if the past two years have taught me anything at all, it’s that the littlest of things make the biggest difference. 

What else do I want to note about 2022? Nothing really. I know we are all a bit wary going into this new year, and with just cause. It feels like such a dark and draining time for so many, but it’s also full of so much light and joy. We just need to find our balance between advocating change for the dark/painful parts and recognizing the joy of our life and world.