Self-Service

My first self-help book was given to me at the age of 13 by my amazing late step mother: Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. That book was revolutionary for me (and the world), and definitely influenced my life and the years to come. I spent most of my teens and 20’s frequenting the self-help aisle in (mostly metaphysical) book stores, trying out different books and workshops and attempting to figure myself out. In my 30’s I got into Buddhism and meditation, and did my fair share of magical thinking, but it wasn’t until I discovered shadow work that I felt a real shift.

Shadow work has been around since the days of Carl Jung, and the basic theory is that every aspect of our personality, behavior, feeling or physical attribute that we display in childhood that we are shamed for, punished for or taught is wrong or bad is put into our shadow. If we do or display things that we believe are good and we are humiliated, discouraged or told we are not good at or are not those things, we also put those into our shadow. The things we are taught to believe are negative, we try to suppress, deny and ignore within ourselves. But they will keep showing up in the people we attract into our lives as a mirror for what we ourselves have in our shadow & can’t accept about ourselves. We will also project the positive things that we have put into our shadow onto others, and the things we admire most in others is a denied aspect of ourselves. The theory is that we have to face and accept or integrate and merge those denied aspects of ourselves in order to be whole and stop projecting onto others. Therein lies the rub.

On my long journey through shadowy bullshit there have been books that helped me to identify parts of myself that needed attention, and sometimes felt like reading my own journal or experience. These books helped me to take those things out of the closet of my mind and made me feel far less alienated. Some of the books helped me to get unstuck, and out of jobs or relationships that were dysfunctional and only making me miserable. Here are my top 10 self-helpers:

  1. The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford. If you got on the (scandalous) hype train of Lacy Phillips, you may have done her Shadow workshop. Same. In that workshop I noticed that most of the exercises had an asterisk at the bottom that said “Adapted from Dark Side of the Light Chasers” next to it. Indeed, most of that workshop is taken from Debbie Ford, with some critical parts missing. In this book Debbie Ford not only shows you how to identify what is in your shadow, she shows you how to accept and own it. This is the big piece that was missing for me, how exactly to accept and own the light & dark parts of me that were in my shadow. I would say if you read no other book on this list- read this one. It will honestly change you.
  2. Loving What Is by Byron Katie. I read this book probably 10 years ago, and it was revolutionary. Katie’s “Work” is really difficult to do, because the basic premise is that whatever upsets you about another person is just a reflection of yourself. Similar to shadow work, her “4 questions” help you dig in to what triggers you and realize that you don’t control anyone but yourself. For me, I needed to do shadow work first in order to really get Katie’s work. Without it, I tended to use her work as a way to beat myself up more for what was wrong with me (and not everybody else). Once I did shadow work, Katie’s work made more sense and became really helpful in my life.
  3. When Food is Love by Geneen Roth. I was first introduced to Geneen by an amazing therapist who gave me this book. Geneen’s books feel like having a conversation with your sweetest, most empathetic and sympathetic BF. She has a way of putting things into words and nailing things that is really profound. This book makes the connection between how we eat & see our bodies with our relationship patterns. So good.
  4. Women Food & God by Geneen Roth. This book was obviously major (courtesy of Oprah) and I have to say- believe the hype. It looks at being a woman and the pressure and value that is placed on our weight and physical appearance, and how that internal struggle impacts every part of our lives. With all the Geneen Roth earnestness & charm.
  5. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. This book is a beautiful introduction to Buddhism and compassion practice with some psychology mixed in from clinical psychologist and Mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. This book and the meditations she provides were so amazing to me, like being in a therapy session with a really nurturing, soothing therapist.
  6. Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. I heart Martha Beck. She has such a commonsensical, funny approach to disseminating all of the really complex technical shit she has in her gigantic brain. This book was a catalyst for me, one that inspired me to quit my draining job and move to the other side of the country. If you feel stuck, let this book be your crowbar.
  7. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. While I was not a fan of Eat Pray Love, I always really liked Liz Gilbert when I would hear her in interviews or giving talks and found her insightful and smart. This book is really that voice- it’s like getting a great pep talk with some cool references and stories mixed in. This is another great book for getting unstuck, this time creatively.
  8. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. When I was barely 18 years old I had the great great fortune of being in a class taught by the amazing Ingrid Kincaid using this book. The Artist’s Way is a workbook that gives you exercises and journal prompts that get you in touch with your creativity. Even if you think you are not creative, this book will shift you and get you in touch with yourself and what you truly want in your life.
  9. Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron. Pema Chodron is just a treasure and one of my favorite people in the world. She is so funny and down to earth and this book is sort of an introduction or handbook to compassion practice and meditation that explains Buddhist principles in a clear, digestible way.
  10. Sober Curious by Ruby Warrington. This book is really new, but I really dug it. There are so many powerful, heavy memoirs out there about alcohol (my favorites are here, here and here), but this book takes a totally different approach. It digs in to what alcohol does physically and emotionally, and talks about what life might look like without it and how you can make changes without a lot of doom, gloom and powerless before God stuff.

The End.

You Can Take the Girl Out of the 90’s…

I may just be old, but every time I scroll through the trendy high end shops I think, “Looks like Urban Outfitters.” (Side Note: as I was finishing up this piece Lisa Says Gah dropped a collaboration with UO.) As a 90’s teenager, I have a deep and lasting fondness for Urban Outfitters. I always find highly nostalgic things that transport me back to my youth and make me feel happy in a tweenish way. While I try to buy mostly used, the new things that lure me tend to come from UO. By the way, if you want to read about their efforts towards sustainability there’s good info here. Pictured above are a few of my favorite things from the outfitters of urbans.

One Pot Enchilada Chicken

I love a one pot meal. When I can’t be bothered to use the pressure cooker or remember to get the slow cooker ready it’s nice to throw everything into one pot and call it a day. I make this one probably once a week because it tastes like heaven and it’s easy-easy. I used to make my own enchilada sauce, but (time and simplicity being worthy causes) for this I tend to use Frontera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce. It’s got a good consistency (not too watery) and the ingredients are far less creepy than most. It’s one of the only ones that doesn’t use soybean oil (I’m allergic) or wheat flour (my husband is allergic) and the other ingredients are normal things like organic apple cider vinegar and not strange chemicals. I usually use leftover roast chicken for this dish, but you can use uncooked diced chicken or steak or you can swap the meat for hominy if you are veg or veag. My husband likes this over rice but you can eat it as is if you’re not into starches. It only takes about 30 minutes to make and it’s good stuff.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  3. 1/2 cup diced green onion
  4. 1 Serrano pepper, seeded & diced (optional)
  5. 1/2 cup diced cilantro
  6. 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  7. 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
  8. 1 Mexican gray squash, chopped
  9. 1 zucchini, chopped
  10. 2 cups left over roast chicken (or uncooked diced chicken or steak)
  11. 1 4oz can sliced black olives
  12. 1 4oz can diced green chilis
  13. 16 oz red enchilada sauce
  14. Avocado and/or sour cream for topping

Directions:

  1. Coat a casserole or cast iron pot with olive oil & add cumin seeds, toast over medium heat (about 3 minutes).
  2. Add in Serrano pepper (if using), onions, and cilantro and bell pepper and cook until fragrant (about 3 minutes). If using fresh meat instead of cooked meat, add it and with the pepper & onion and brown.
  3. Add in squash and stir mixture, cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Add in cooked chicken, olives, green chili and enchilada sauce & stir together.
  5. Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low.
  6. Simmer about 15 minutes, until squash is tender.
  7. Top with avocado & sour cream and serve.

The End.

Admission.

I have always been a shopper. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is of shopping. We lived out in the sticks, and it was an hour drive into town to the K-Mart (our only option). It was there that I remember seeing a madras plaid jumper with tie shoulder straps and a crisp white ruffled underlay skirt that peeked out the bottom. I remember snatching it from the rack and clutching it to me with two little fists. I remember the flushed feeling of desire, a rush that I call the “gotta have its.” I remember placing it in the shopping cart while my mother was engaged elsewhere. I remember her shaking her head at me when we got home and she realized that it was a size too small for me. 30-some odd years later, not much has changed.

In a recent Kon-Mari closet clear out, I felt haunted by my shopping past. That impossibly brilliant Jacquemus dress that sparks all the joy but has no practical use in my life. The sailor pants that turned out to just reinforce my insecurities about having “child bearing” hips. The trendy pieces that lost their relevance as soon as the Zara sale was done. The boring mom clothes bought at Target in the midst of PMS bloating. The dreaded “politeness purchases” bought in vintage stores or little boutiques with hip or nice shop girls that I felt somehow obligated to buy something from. The nostalgic pieces plucked from musty thrift stores that I believed proved my sartorial superiority. Staring at my giant pile of clothing, I wonder what my shopping habits say about my self-worth. Perhaps I have something to prove, and perhaps it is that I can transform into someone different than who I am. Someone thinner, with smaller hips, someone wealthier, someone who fits in and is allowed in to the cool kids club.

When I was a child, it was easy to identify the things that set the popular kids apart. The price of admission to the cool kids club was a B.U.M. Equipment Sweatshirt and L.A. Gear sneakers. In my tweens it was Esprit & United Colors of Benetton. In my teens it was Contempo Casuals and Betsey Johnson. This didn’t end with adolescence. In my 20’s it was American Apparel and Marc Jacobs. In my 30’s, indie slow fashion brands and indie fast fashion brands. As I look around now, at 40, it’s a never ending scroll of “instagram brands” and instagram vintage shops, all with tightly cropped photos of skinny torsos perched on stools in high waisted trousers with chunky belts and creamy knits. As a child, the price of admission into this world was too high for my hard working single mother. As an adult, I claim these things as victories, I make them mine. Through extra shifts, long hours and, at times, credit card debt…I find a way.

That early memory of shopping that I have is about more than the madras plaid jumper. The memory is not only about getting away with something, it’s about getting something. That memory is just the first of many about shopping from my childhood, and really the memories are about reward or about punishment. They are about excess & abundance (“Throw it in the cart! Even if it’s too small!”) or, more frequently, they are about restriction & lack (“We’ve got to tighten our belts. We can’t afford that!”). There were extremes involved, the experiences were as black and white as yes or no. Have or have not. You’re in or you’re out. You deserve it, or you don’t.

What I’ve learned, through 35 years of shopping experience, is that most purchases for me are essentially impulse buys. If I like it, I want to have it. I do not want to be told no, by anyone- even myself. There is an emotional charge to shopping that is about more than just a beautiful outfit for me, more than fitting in or achieving cool kid status, even. All of the shopping fasts and strict budgets and closet clear outs have not served to diffuse the little bombs of beliefs beneath the surface. Understanding and confronting those memories and the emotions tied to them gave me a sense of what I am dealing with when I am staring down a pair of vintage YSL harem pants or Saks Potts logo tights. In those moments, I come into contact with my childhood self, with all of the longing and hunger that permeated my youth. Maybe we never really grow up.

Do You Want to Know A Secret?

  1. Margiela Tabi Mary Janes (my obsession).
  2. Vintage short sleeve Ballet sweatshirt.
  3. Pleats Please Grid Print Top.
  4. Vintage Apron Dress.
  5. Vintage 80’s Hat Print Dress.
  6. Vintage Courreges Sweater.
  7. Vintage Fendi Bag. (Here’s a few Prada bags in pink, red and black)
  8. Vintage Celine Skirt.
  9. Laura Ashley Red Corduroy Dress. (A collared calico one here)
  10. Vintage Norma Kamali Gingham Skirt. (Also her sleeping bag coat & most rad parachute jumpsuit)
  11. Vintage Halston One Shoulder Dress.
  12. Vintage Versace Leather Pants. (Awesome lime green ones & some pink ones too!)
  13. Vintage Prada Orange Logo Mules.
  14. Vintage Pony Calf Mules.
  15. Vintage Ruffle Neck Blouse.
  16. Vintage YSL Blazer.
  17. Vintage Lavender Leather Jacket. (Also: amaze orange leather & 70s tan trench)
  18. Vintage Shell Belt.
  19. Vintage Laura Ashley Green Plaid Dress. (Another LA floral summer one here)
  20. Vintage Lee Jeans.

These Days.

  1. The incredible Joan Juliet Buck (her memoir The Price of Illusion is an all time fave) wrote a beautiful article called Advice to my 26 Year Old Self.
  2. The new Solange record is wondrous and the visuals are dooope.
  3. Did you see these photos of Roma star Yalitza Aparicio? Amaze.
  4. That trickster Hedi Slimane sent me into a 1970’s Celine pinterest tunnel that is spinning into a spiral of obsession!
  5. I got these Maryam Nassir Zadeh boots on very extra super sale and I am so in love with them. They’re perfection.
  6. Still dying over these gorgeous photos of Judith Light. I love her so much.
  7. Oprah had 2 of my favorite B’s (besides Beyonce & Barack) on her podcast: Beto O’Rourke and Byron Katie. Both episodes are amazing.
  8. The First Major Gun Control Legislation passed the House this week. Even though it likely won’t go anywhere, it’s a start.
  9. Favorite things we’ve watched lately are True Detective (only re-affirming my crush on Mahershala Ali) and The Two Killings of Sam Cooke. Both were so, so good.
  10. Uniqlo’s latest collab with JW Anderson just dropped and it’s so freakin good. I love the men’s as much as the women’s. I’m wanting this perfect button down, this clown collared shirt, these socks, this puff sleeve shirt, this rugby shirt, this reversible Derby style jacket, this dolman sleeve jacket, this reversible trench, this wrap skirt, these drawstring pants, and these vintage Seafarer style jeans.
  11. RIP Luke Perry. I’ll never get over you.

RTW F/W 2019 FTW

 

 

Another Season done with, my friends. I for one felt so excited every dang day when I sat down to look through the collections. It’s really something when you can feel fashion moving forward, and that’s been the case for the past few years, but this time around it felt like we’re on the other side of something. The shift that occurred with social media’s cultural takeover was major. With street style & influencers (nee bloggers) vs. big magazine editorials & the fashion elite; with indie designers and houses like Vetements & Gucci’s revolution of quirky style and fluidity, the industry shook. But it’s been a couple of years, it’s been a few seasons. Street style and influencers have become commodity: big magazines sending photographers to cover the street and designers using influencers as human advertisements. Perhaps those big magazines and editors and fashion elite still have a place in all of this. Fashion, at its core, is about movement. It’s the nature of the beast- it’s ever evolving and responding, and designers and editors are perhaps the most resilient creatures, always keeping up.

Karl Lagerfeld, one of the biggest champions of the mega-marketing-high-gloss-elite (and scary skinny) machine, passed away (leaving his last 2 collections for FW19). Indie designers like Creatures of Comfort and A Detacher called it quits and Isa Arfen put her brand on hold. Raf Simons and Calvin Klein were absent. Everyone is (still) questioning and guessing at who the next Phoebe Philo will be. Some of her proteges showed this season- Daniel Lee at Botega Veneta, Veronica Leoni at Moncler 2 (both expanding on the leather and knits that we saw in the last few Philo collections), and Rok Hwang at Rokh (whose collection looked like the love child of Philo and Demna Gvasalia). Philo’s influence lingers, in the knit and leather/pleats and extra long suiting in monochrome neutrals with subtle flashes of tie dye at Joseph, and at Kwaidan Editions, Proenza Schouler, and Agnona. As for Celine, Hedi Slimane effectively moted all of the women crying for “Old Celine” by sending out a parade of check wool skirts & culottes with horsebit belts, velvet blazers, riding boots & printed scarfs from the original Celine, every one of his models wearing (Philo’s predecessor) Michael Kors’ signature aviator sunglasses.

As for the revolutionary new guard: Vetements decided to stop doing fashion shows, and looking through the Balenciaga collection I couldn’t help but wonder (ha) if the collection was more Vetements than Balenciaga. There were flashes of Cristobal-esque feminine brilliance (and quality tailoring), but it was mostly typical absurd Vetements drabness (men carrying leather versions of paper shopping sacks with frowning faces spray painted on them; women in plain business suits in clashy dowdy gray/navy/black). Gucci felt borderline ridiculous, almost a caricature of itself at this point. It was not newly launched indie designers or a sense of a new guard that wooed me this time around, it was the clear and self-assured voices of Marc Jacobs (a triumph), Dries Van Noten, Giorgio Armani, Versace (obvs. having a moment right now), Miuccia Prada (Miu Miu FTW), Fendi (Karl going out with a wonderful bang) and storied houses like Pucci, Lanvin, Rochas, Hermes, and Issey Miyake. It was also cool to see designers like darling Jacquemus, Rejina Pyo, Rosetta Getty, Saks Potts, Y Project, Attico, Ellery (a maje fave), JW Anderson and very favorite Maryam Nassir Zadeh settled in, hitting their respective strides and showing their unique gifts with aplomb.

The good news in this post-earthquake landscape is that there has been a shift in the people wearing the clothes, from consumers to models and non-models walking the runways. More diversity amongst the models is awesome and obviously way past due (although we still have to be subjected to celebrity offspring as the new supermodel). There was also a (government mandated) shift in the size of the models, and though the majority were still verry thin, there were far less scary skinny emaciated skeletal girls walking the runways this season. I get a little tired of seeing the token “plus size” girl wearing something totally unflattering, so seeing curvy women looking utterly gorgeous like this woman at Marc Jacobs was radical. More, please.

As for the clothes, there were lots of weird random cutouts (endless side abs! inner arms! armpits! inner thighs! and bellybuttons & boobies galore), all leather everything, velvet & organza, a million clown collars, capes, saddlebags, very extra large bags (and the tiniest bag ever), nude/sheer tights with short shorts, long pants under long skirts and shiny shiny patent leather animal prints. Color-wise I was thrilled to see what I call Colgate/Toothpaste Green (or Sea Green/Electric Aqua) everywhere (a color I believe goes with everything). Also black is the new pink, or maybe black is black again (especially in Paris). And if there’s one thing we can all agree on it is that we’re cold. Damn cold!