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Uncomplicated Style with J. Jill, and the Worst Photographer Ever

November 12th, 2013

I’m obsessed with easy fashion because for years, I was certain it existed but somehow eluded me, like Paris Hilton’s intellect. I mean, “easy fashion” surely couldn’t be an urban myth, yet why couldn’t I grasp it? It’s supposed to be simple and uncomplicated. Still, I get confused. I’m not sure what goes with what or how to mix and match and number one – not wear the same thing all the time because a stylish friend once put an outfit together for me and it’s reached uniform status.


I’ve done a lot of research on the subject and I’m not kidding. I’ve since learned that there are neutrals – gray, brown, olive, black, and navy – that can be worn with virtually any color. I’ve discovered that black doesn’t always have to go with black accessories, that denim is not my only go-to pant, and that brown and black together isn’t violating some kind of fashion code (in fact, it can be downright cutting edge).


Since I’ve worked to grasp some fashion basics, I’m a little better with putting outfits together. I even wore gray skinnies with a denim shirt and tan booties the other day. TAN BOOTIES. With gray. It can be done. (But you probably already knew that.)


In the spirit of paying forward what I’ve learned about uncomplicated style, I share with you what I now know (based on hundreds of hours of poring over fashion websites and a lot of error in my trial):


1) Buy pieces that can be worn with at least three other things.

I absorbed this little tidbit over and over before I actually implemented it. For many moons, I bought things I loved but could only wear with one shirt or pair of pants. However, I also learned that I probably could wear what I bought with more than one thing if I used a little imagination. For instance, print pants can also be worn with print shirts (if one of the prints is more subtle than the other, like pinstripes with florals). If you buy an item you can envision with at least three other pieces in your closet, you are the queen of mix and match.


2) Do not underestimate the power of accessories.

I never spent my money on accessories. I went for the “bigger” thing (in surface area) like shirts and dresses. Smaller pieces such as earrings and belts seemed a waste of cash. Then, it sunk in: entire outfits can change by adding the right necklace, belt, and/or scarf. The other day, my friend wore an emerald green tunic with tribal-print inserts on the sleeves, a medallion, and a faux fur vest. And it was amazing. Still cool when she took off the vest, but exponentially SHAZAM when she kept it on. Also, the fur vest-less look was dressier, and the be-furred-vest look was funkier. Different vibes, same pieces.


3) Buy quality basics that can be dressed up and down.

I buy inexpensive, trendy stuff to punch up outfits, but I want my basics (the black pants, the sweater coat, the boots) to be quality because I’m going to wear them a lot and they provide the canvas for the rest of the stuff I put on my body. I need the fit, fabric, and function to be top notch because they’re the foundation. Also, quality basics do double duty: they can be dressy or casual depending on the accessories. This means they need to last extra long and be in timeless styles and materials.


4) Get some pieces that can be worn in a variety of styles (i.e. belted, untucked, layered).

This tip is a combination of the three before it. The key to easy style is to complicate it – in a simple way. Let’s say you buy a shirt that can be worn with a minimum of three other pieces in your closet. Then, let’s say you can change the look of those three outfits by donning a necklace, layering a jacket over it, and/or wearing a fur vest. THEN let’s imagine you can also belt that shirt, untuck it (or half-tuck it – still not sure about that trend), and wear a tank under it. Those are like 12 different looks (someone else do the math) for one shirt. And that’s super-maximum-velocity-turbo-uncomplicated style.


5) Look other places for pieces.

Like you, I have my “shops.” And at the same time, I’ve found the most wonderful things at stores I never imagined would have what I want or need. I recently shopped J. Jill for this post and I didn’t know what to expect because J. Jill was one of those places I didn’t have in my usual suspects lineup, but I found my quality basics there in spades and I never would have figured that out if I hadn’t stepped outside my “zone.”


So here’s where the rubber meets the road. When I took a look at the J.Jill site for the purposes of this piece, I focused on its Pure Jill line because it included a line of neutral colored basics that met all my prerequisites above. I found the following essentials:


  • Kimono Sweater
  • Tee
  • Pants
  • Flats


If you’ve at all been following my expert advice (I can hear you!), you’ll know that those pieces above are a) mix and matchable b) can be dressed up or down c) changed with accessories; and d) worn with several other things in your closet.


I bought the Pure Jill Ribbed Kimono Sweater because it was super quality, a neutral color, and styled on the website so I could get more ideas on how to wear it (but I already knew! said the defensive still-learning fashion neophyte). Also, there’s an online stylist you can chat with as you’re making purchase decisions (said the REAL experts).


So here’s what I did. I got the sweater and attempted to show you how to mix it up with accessories. Except that my pictures are horrible and so are my thighs. But I will forge on.


This is the sweater with “skinnies” and my tan booties:



And then here’s how I “accessorized” with a scarf. You see the funky difference, right?






This same sweater can be worn with leggings and skirts and all manner of three-items-in-your-closet. And don’t forget to accessorize.


If I bought more from J. Jill, this is what it would be:


(in order:)
Pure Jill Marled Topper

Pure Jill Suede Slouch Boots

Ankle-Length Leggings

Woven Trim Short Boots



Just FYI. Oh! And fun fact: my birthday is in 10 days. But that’s so not even related to this post pretty much.
Meanwhile, here’s a little something special from J. Jill:


30% off a single full-priced item from 11/5-11/24 using code: JJSTYLE (use when ordering). Offer valid through November 24, 2013, on a single full-priced, in-stock item, excluding markdowns. Discount taken at the time of purchase in stores (outlets excluded), at JJILL.COM or via catalog. For retail store purchases, this code must be mentioned. Limit one coupon per person for one-time use only. Full-priced UGG® brand styles excluded. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer, except the J.Jill credit card discount. Discount not valid on previous purchases or gift card purchases and is exclusive of sales tax and shipping fees. No cash value).


Look, in all honesty, I’m still getting the fashion thing down, but I think I’ve embraced that it’s about keeping a few tips in mind while you naturally gravitate to what turns you on. Because if what you wear doesn’t reflect YOU, there’s no point in wearing it.


This was a sponsored post on behalf of The Motherhood and J. Jill. All opinions are my own. Unfortunately?)

PROMPTuesday #228: The Job Interview

November 5th, 2013


The human resources manager tried to warn me in a roundabout, politically correct fashion that the woman who was about to interview me for a public relations position was structured and by the book. I took the news with a grain of salt because by that time, I’d been interviewing for two months and run the gamut from speaking with everyone from sexual harassers to inept company owners to an entire college board. Besides, I tended to adapt well to different personalities and wasn’t too worried about this particular one.


That thought became the pride before the fall. I knew it was going to be a tough interview the second I spotted her walking toward me in the lobby. Thin and purposeful, wearing a smooth, hair sprayed bob, pink sparkly lipstick that collected in the corners of her mouth, a skirt to the knees, buttoned-up blouse, panty hose and low-heeled navy pumps, she strode over to me, stuck her hand out, and led to me to the conference room without a smile. We sat and talked for a brief moment before she pushed a series of papers my way along with a couple of sharpened pencils, and asked me to complete a grammar test and writing exercise, and edit the provided press release.


It struck me how basic the tests were, and not because I was a grammarian or exceptionally good writer, but because these tests had obviously been ripped from a textbook. Still, I found the pencils charming, because it was 2002 and I hadn’t properly used one for years. I finished the work and waited.


She popped her head into the room and directed me to hand her the tests. I did, and the door closed again. Several minutes later, she re-entered the conference room and took a seat. She tried to smile, but it came out a grimace born from years of not knowing how to relax or properly interact with people. She sternly asked me the types of questions neophyte interviewers ask (what’s your greatest weakness? where do you see yourself in five years?) and didn’t really seem to assimilate the answers beyond this was a routine and she must follow it to the letter. But then, the rest of the interview followed in quick suit: “tell me how you’d develop a PR campaign for our company” “we need eight press releases a month and two articles placed – can you do that?” and “how are you with working late?” The whole time I knew she was analyzing my internal reactions and tangentially – didn’t let people in easily. I fast forwarded my brain to actually working with her and realized it would be a daily struggle to meet her expectations, which seemed misaligned with business reality.


After the interview she attempted to converse, but the interaction was stilted and fumbling. Her laughs sounded staccato like rocks hitting the pavement and she never fully opened her mouth, even though I suspected she would like to at some point. It just showed too much emotion to laugh wide, I guess.


My heart went out to her, and I think her sense of that got me to the next stage.


She finished the interview with, “Just so you know, the CEO is a tough cookie.”


I chose to believe that one and spent a week preparing for another challenging personality. In the interim, I met with all the company principals. Most of these supporting interviews were spent in their offices, awkwardly and standardly, but I didn’t let myself relax. The CEO was tougher. The other tough one told me.


When at last the day came to meet with the company’s owner, I wore a white blouse, which turned out to be a poor, sweaty choice. I swore that my moist shirt was a bad sign and I literally shook in my seat with fear and being tired of interviewing and survival instinct. I needed this job.


I waited in a bigger conference room than the one I’d initially waited in and shrunk in the leather seat. This whole process had taken weeks of preparation and unnatural amounts of nerves. The door opened. A short, dark-haired man walked in and didn’t even shake my hand.


“So,” he began in a British accent. “I hear you’re a writer.”




“What have you written?”


“Well, lots of press releases, and bios and sales copy and…”


“No,” he interrupted. “What have you written?” The emphasis went on the last word.


“Um. I’m writing a book about witches and magic and…”


He stopped me again. “Send it to me.”


Those words marked the end of the interview.


I left dumbfounded, emailed him my creative work in progress, and accepted the public relations position the next day.




What was your strangest job interview?


Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.



PROMPTuesday #227: Fall Favorites

October 29th, 2013

My guilty pleasure is reading what other people use and love, pretending I can buy everything they recommend, adding it all to my virtual shopping cart, leaving it there, and then suffering through endless reminder emails like, “San Diego Momma! We noticed that everything Sephora sells is still waiting for checkout” and “This is Anthropologie. Are you planning to buy the $500 Aphrodite Parisian poncho that’s been in your cart since September?” Although I cannot truthfully say I haven’t run out to order something that looked great on someone else, put it on, and thought, “Maybe I should have noticed they were a size 2 when I am a size 2 on Mars where there is no gravity.” But still, it’s good to dream. And remember those Tory Burch boots that’ve languished in my Nordstrom fake shopping cart since late 2012.


Either way, I’ve decided that I’d make my own “favorites” list because there are some things I truly do love and didn’t copy from someone else and perhaps you’ll want to add them to your own imaginary shopping cart in the sky.


Here’s what I’ve used and dug in the last few months:



Christine Shampoo and Conditioner

About a year ago I decided to ditch all sulfates in my shampoos. My hair is as thin as the day is full of 24 hours and responds poorly to drying, stripping ingredients. In fact, I couldn’t get my hair to grow past my chin without breaking into a million little pieces, and I resigned myself to living with hair that looked like Dolly Parton’s under the wig. Then, I tried an argan oil-based, sulfate-free shampoo and noticed my hair had some life in it after all. It felt moisturized but not heavy and better yet, it grew, which when you have thin hair is akin to saying you just lost 20 pound in your sleep.
About six months ago, I began trying the Christine line of sulfate-free products and my hair literally bounced. BOUNCED. Which if you have thin hair, is akin to saying Anthropologie called and wants to give you all the stuff you fake-placed in your daydream shopping cart. I especially love the Christine conditioner and have found that even if I have to resort to the subpar shampoo I make my kids use, the conditioner erases all its effects and makes my hair still look fluffy in the good way.





Illuminare Mattifying (Ultimate All Day) Mineral Foundation

Disclaimer: I’m the sort of person who likes to cover her skin because: oily, adult acne, and uneven tone. In high school, I used this medicine that was flesh-colored and smelled like sulfur and applied it to every square inch of my face, making me look like I had just pulled panty hose over my head. I’ve since moved on, and now use actual foundation instead of benzoyl peroxide as makeup.


I love Illuminare because it goes on fluidly, gives great coverage, and keeps me shine-free all day (a feat, I swear). It also is mineral-based, so I don’t break out while using it and it provides natural sunscreen, which is nice because I usually forget to apply actual sunscreen.



Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go


Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go

Last weekend, I decided to maybe go paleo. The problem is, I really dislike meat, but I’m sure I’ll find a workaround. I tend to be quite a healthy eater and love my beans and quinoas and raw soups, but have noticed lately that my system seems to be reacting to something. In fact, the big toe on my right foot is tender and painful, my gastrointestinal track has been uppity and crampy, and I feel nauseas more often than is preferable. My doctor suggested I go off gluten (which I have tried before to no result) because that dietary change could reduce my obvious inflammatory response. (Aside: I’ve tested positive for lupus twice with an ANA test, but further testing has been negative.) On Saturday, I decided to stop with the gluten again and can tell you I noticed an immediate difference – although I know it doesn’t work that quickly – right? Regardless, I’ve felt better and so decided to possibly try the paleo way of eating for 30 days to see if that makes a further difference. I spent a lot of time browsing the cookbook above and found the recipes to be approachable and easy. Most call for less than 10 ingredients and there are plenty of vegetables I can incorporate to throw off the taste of meat. That said, I ate 12 pieces of bacon yesterday, so the meat dislike comes and goes. (The 12 pieces of bacon is not my typical hyperbole and comic exaggeration and can be independently verified by my children who witnessed me baking the entire package and giving them one piece each while I dispatched the rest.)


My Crock Pot

I’ve been making several meals a week with my crock pot and it is a lifesaver in the evenings when I’m in no mood to prepare a real dinner after homework battles, practices, and freelancing. I don’t enjoy my crock pot per se and need a new one, but crock pot cooking in general is easier and tastier than traditional cooking for me. Many days, I throw frozen chicken thighs in the crock, pour over a sauce (Cost Plus has some great simmer sauces), and leave it all to cook for hours. Then I cook up some rice (or most often, don’t) and serve it up. I made the below crock pot pea soup last week and even the kids liked it:


1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed


2 medium carrots, peeled and medium dice


2 medium celery stalks, medium dice


1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice


2 medium garlic cloves, minced


2 fresh Italian parsley sprigs


1 bay leaf


1 meaty smoked ham bone or 2 ham hocks (about 1 pound)


4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (1 quart)


2 cups water


Kosher salt


Freshly ground black pepper



Arrange the split peas in the slow cooker in an even layer. Arrange the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, and bay leaf over the peas in one even layer. Place the ham bone or hocks on top of the vegetables. (At this point you can remove the insert from the slow cooker, cover, and refrigerate up to 12 hours until ready to continue.)


Pour the chicken broth and water into the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the peas are very soft and the meat is falling off the bone, on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.


Remove the ham bone or hocks to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, place the meat back in the soup (discard the skin and bones), and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.



Bio K


Bio K

When I was feeling especially gastro-intestiney last week, someone recommended I take some Bio K to load my system with probiotics. I did, and after about an hour, my system settled down. This is dairy-based, so won’t be a part of my perhaps-paleo diet, but it did the trick when I needed it. I plan to give this to my kids if they start feeling sick because probiotics strengthen the immune system. (I got it at Sprouts.)


Now you! What are you loving? Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


(I was provided with Christine shampoo and conditioner and the paleo cookbook. Please note there are NO affiliate links in this post. This is all stuff I really dig and write about because I like giving you something to dig, too.) 


PROMPTuesday #226: The Thank-You List

October 15th, 2013

You may know the “thank-you list” as “giving gratitude” and it is exactly what you think: writing down the people, places, and things you are grateful to have in your life. Gurus (and Oprah) advise that speaking your gratitude to the universe is a powerful exercise that enacts a simple but fundamental shift in thinking from negative to positive, and while I haven’t ever fully committed to a daily list, I’m sure they’re right.


So that’s what I want us to do today: write our gratitude on paper. However, I’d love more than a list. I’d like a brief explanation of why you’re thankful for what you’ve committed to paper. I’ll start the prompt:


I’m grateful for:


1) The journey: I’m constantly traveling in the soul, and it’s not always light and wonder. In fact, I’ve learned some pretty hard lessons about myself and get into some pretty sad places ruminating over them. In the end, I’d rather discover who I am and change the energy-sapping, not-so-good parts then go with the status quo. Right now, I’m in self-assessment mode and it’s been tough, but at least I’m moving forward in stops and starts. I’m thankful for the moving.


2) Keeping on trying: This may seem a lot like the journey, but it’s not the road itself, it’s the deciding to stay on it. This applies to a lot of life areas for me, but most recently, I was very upset with my husband because I felt like he was always criticizing or instructing me. I told him that it seems like when I’m “always” in a courtroom, school, or workplace” when he’s around and that I want a marriage, I JUST WANT A MARRIAGE! WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME? (My drama is epic.) Yesterday, I was especially upset so I went upstairs to work and responded in monosyllables when he talked to me. Then, I imagined my single-person condo that I keep behind my brain for marital emergencies. (I’ll never make dinner! I’ll watch Lifetime all night! I won’t have to keep a husband caddy by the front door so he can pile all his bills, glasses, newspaper clippings, workout recovery supplements, and Father’s Day gift minutiae in it!). And finally, I woke up this morning to a gesture of kindness and a note. So it’s those keeping on trying things I appreciate – and need to do more of myself.



3) Coffee in the morning: Once I was very sad and my brother happened to call right in the middle of a emotional breakdown. He listened patiently and sympathetically, then told me, “You’ll get through this day and then you’ll wake up tomorrow and have your cup of coffee and begin again.” Ever since, my morning cup of coffee has symbolized a new beginning, a chance to change things, a fresh perspective.


4) My kids becoming: You know when your children are young? And it feels like energy is constantly going out and you are ever impressing upon them: it’s time to nap, drink this milk, go to bed? There’s so many rules to be established and so much of you goes into setting up a safe border of “be who you want, but don’t do this.” As my kids grow older, they are impressing upon me. They’ve developed personalities, bloomed world observations, and become people. That process teaches parents a lot about themselves and is one of the greatest gifts: watching your children be who they will be regardless of you.


5) Music: Hearing another person’s soul in the air is something I’ll never get over.



Now you! Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.



Skin Authority Review

October 10th, 2013

If you’re a friend or family member, you know that my search for good skincare products is legend. I’ve really and truly tried almost everything, but find that only a small portion of potions I’ve applied to my face don’t make me break out or manage my skin conditions (i.e. oiliness but dryness, clogged pores, sagging, and general sallowness). I’ve taken to asking for samples for everything I’m hoping will transform my visage, because I know from experience that after one or two applications of anything, I usually wake up with a nose zit or depletion of all hope that my skin will ever be “normal.”


My mom had the same issues, and one of my childhood memories is her surveying her skin in the mirror and then covering it inch by inch with foundations and concealers and primers and correctors. I used to search through her bathroom drawers and dream of all the makeup I could have one day – for fun not for function; and certainly not to hide myself. The irony of all this is that I found my mom beautiful. Her imperfect skin didn’t once cross my mind. But you know how it is when you actually OWN the skin: every little problem is magnified beyond all that’s reasonable.


All this is to say, my skin haunts me. I remember once going to a plastic surgeon just to hear my options, and him getting really close to my face and saying, “Yes, I see. You’re worried you’ll be talking to someone and they’ll be looking at THIS” as he pointed to my large-pored nose. Years later, I had a chemical peel to get rid of my bothersome skin once and for all, but the results were not as stellar as I’d hoped (because my expectation was that I’d suddenly have someone else’s skin or at least, not my own anymore).


Because I’ve written periodically about my skin woes over the year, a few people have reached out to ask me to try their products; and I have, and some really did just fine, and I was happy for a time, but eager to see if something else could transform my complexion like BAM. Perhaps there was something else out there? Something I hadn’t tried and that wouldn’t make me feel bad about my nose?


Then, last July, a Skin Authority representative contacted me and offered a treatment at one of its offices using Skin Authority products. I accepted because MAYBE THIS COULD BE THE THING! Also, I was very intrigued by the fact that the products “resurface” and”reprogram” the skin to generate new cells and push them to the surface so your tired old cells have to find somewhere else to live.


I went to my appointment with a skip in my walk and oil in my pores. After my makeup was removed, my skin glycolized and assessed, I spent a lot of time speaking with my skin coach. She asked deep questions about everything from my behavior to smoking habits (I don’t! Wine on the other hand…) and from my answers, devised a regimen focused on brightening and improving skin tone. She even handed me some topical vitamin D because I have a diagnosed deficiency, and threw in some dramatic eye lift. She told me to use the products faithfully day and night and to keep at it (a problem I have).


That was two months ago.



I’ve since used my products as instructed MANY DAYS IN A ROW and never once fell asleep without washing my face (a problem I have) or went to school drop-off with last night’s makeup on (another problem). The first several weeks, I noticed some “turbulent” skin with tiny whiteheads and blackheads popping up, and after reaching out to my skin coach was told new cells pushing to the surface and taking a lot of gunk with them – in effect – clearing out my congested skin.


I liked the sound of that.

I kept going and began to notice that my skin felt moisturized all the time and not dry around the mouth and nose like is my thing. My skin tone seemed to even out and my cheeks looked plumper (in a good way).


THEN when I was getting a pedicure, the nail tech said, “You have pretty skin.” SHE SAID I HAD PRETTY SKIN. Do you know that I’ve never even once heard that from anyone, ever? I couldn’t believe it nor could I accept the compliment gracefully. I kept asking, “Are you talking to me?” and “Are you suffering from drug addiction or eye blindness?” and “That person over there has nice skin. Were you maybe talking to her?”


Yet, I had to admit that my skin did indeed look good, plus it felt good. And I’m going to show you, too, but first a few things:


Please know that I am currently undergoing a PMS attack of epic proportions. What that means for me is red, inflamed skin and more zits than open letters to Miley Cyrus. What I want you to focus on is the improved tone of my skin because that’s what I’ve noticed most. My skin feels like it’s achieved just the right moisture balance and suppleness level. All my dry patches have disappeared and while I still get oily, it’s not the slick-on-the-forehead kind. Also you may notice that my crow’s feet have softened:



I’m sorry for the magnified nose and assorted objects springing out of my face, but you see skin perkiness, right?


I imagine that whatever is in Skin Authority products indeed regenerated my skin. I’ve done a lot of research on product ingredients and such, but the science always goes over my head, I just know that when something works it works, and when it doesn’t, someone must die. According to its website, Skin Authority products are free of irritants and unnatural crud like dyes, added fragrances, and parabens, but its “technologies” are what really make the difference. Glycolic is in several of the products I have, and that’s a very good thing for sloughing off old cells. Also, the Vitamin C serum must contain virgin blood because it is hands down the best I’ve used as far as brightening and firming go (and do I need to remind you all that I’ve used everything)?


(Here’s a photo before PMS stole my glow. See the glow? Also I’m pictured here with my friend Lori. Which reminds me, I really need to ask her if I can perpetuate her image across the Internet…) 


I will tell you that the products aren’t inexpensive (at least for me), and the retail price of the kit I used is $379. But it contains a cleanser, hydroquinone treatment, vitamin A cream, the Super C serum, a night revitalizer and sunscreen. I began using the products on July 26, and I’m nowhere near being even halfway through with any of it – except the cleanser. I expect the products will last another two to three months, so amortized over time (like I’m a financial analyst), that’s not a bad investment.


There’s plenty more Skin Authority products I’m anxious to try next, like the Deep Detox Ritual Mask, and the Calming Mask for when PMS drags me into its monster cave. I have to say that after searching for so long, I think I may have finally found something that doesn’t clog my pores, treats all my problem areas, and addresses my sagging wrinkles ALL IN ONE.


The only thing missing is a “nose diminisher,” but I bet the Skin Authority folks could totally make that happen.


(Skin Authority provided me with a Bright Skin Kit, a VitaD Fortified Illuminating Duo, and a Dramatic Eye Lift serum. This entire review is without bias and based on personal experience. The after photo is unretouched (BUT I REALLY WANTED TO TOUCH IT), and all results have been verified by my nail technician.)


PROMPTuesday #225: Write a Review

October 8th, 2013

Well there. I gave it all away in the title. But yes, lately I’m obsessed with reviews from real people who’ve used the real things and can tell me whether or not whatever it is turned out to be a good purchase, read, or visit.


And for some super clothes coveting fun, read all the Anthropologie reviews.


Meanwhile for today, I’d love to read your reviews. What have you read and loved lately? What song makes you sweat (or more likely, swoon)? What have you used and loved?


For a few examples, here’s a review of Loving Frank (back from the days when I wrote here regularly), and here’s a review of a workout (loosely), and here’s a review of a “personal device” in video, which really gives you the chance to gaze deeply into my skin folds.


Now you! Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments. You do can do your review in video or words or song.


To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.


Word Losing

September 14th, 2013

(A re-post from September 2011)



I’ve lamented these last several months my lack of coming up with anything to write. And when I do commit to words, my beloveds read wooden and trite, and superficial. Worse yet, I couldn’t figure out the problem, in fact, I obsessed over it, climbed up and down my brain, and continually came up empty-handed. I searched for a thing to say, some topic, some wisdom, some something, until I told a friend two weeks ago that it seems all this social media-izing is scooping me out instead of filling me up. I don’t need to tell you that inspiration is a tricky thing. You must tuck letters, songs, art, visions, inside, not keep giving them out. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, all that…it’s a lot of living outside yourself and that externality not only wears you thin, it empties you. And I’ve been emptied.


I used to love to read. How it sustained and inspired me. I would go through several books a week and relish the plot, the story, the taking me away but stocking my mind coffers all at the same time. Then I began to read words online. Not Kindle and its ilk, oh no, I can’t go there yet. Despite my imposed reading fast, I still crave the smell of pages, the must, and dust, and blood, and sweat, and soul juice. But now, I consume stories from blogs, and tweets, broadcasts, status updates, instant messages, direct messages, emails, and on and on and on. I began to learn to talk and think in teensy snippets, compress my words into palatable nuggets, put my brain on warp speed. The world can wait, the world can wait. Those not speaking on online time? They seemed slow and laborious.


And so, books did too. So many words! So many hours required! So much inside-myself time at that. I need to be outside with you all, or you’ll forget me. Plus, how does one work her way through pages and pages and pages? My brain is a hamster wheel, a carousel, a microwave oven. I don’t have all minute. Because see, the online world can’t wait, and soon you trick yourself into thinking you must speed the ferris wheel in your head to keep up; you’re only as good as your last online communique. So you pull words out of yourself. Sometimes they’re plucked from your soul, but most often not, and you continue to go, and go, and go. Collapsing in a desert of words that’ve lost their meaning. Pretty soon, you see there are more like you, and you’re engaging in one-dimensional conversations just to see your name pop up in a timeline. There are not enough moments, not enough moments.


It’s the books and stories and 3D conversations I miss the most.


And slow. And laborious.


So what I did is forget my laptop this past weekend. I kept it far away from me, and left my online engagement levels at an all-time low. I made enough moments. I looked at people when they talked. I didn’t want a RT from them either, and thankfully, they wouldn’t know one if it bit them in the ass. My fingers stayed in my lap for the most part, and my carousel brain slowed to a crawl. I took to a book, and the words were so delicious. God, I love words. And there I had it shining in front of my stopped-up brain: I love words. With meaning. With meat. I want them to evoke and pull and move and hurt and blind and sing and bleed and waft and blow through my heart like a tempest.


I’ve been spending too much time giving out meaningless words just to give them.


Without purpose.


I’ve been going too fast.


To somewhere completely off the map.



I see words in those clouds. I tweeted this pic. Contradiction much?


All these words without intention or storytelling is breaking my soul a little. Or quite a lot. I’ve moved farther and farther away from who I am and what I am because I think I should be operating online in a certain “see me, I see you!” capacity, that’s quite frankly, blown my bliss. I’ve been angry with you, too. You say you’re a writer, but you want something — fame? recognition? ego-stoking? — and you use words in a way that says you don’t love them. You are simply using them. And I shouldn’t be so mad at you. You can do what you want, just not on my time.


Because I need to get back. Remember who I am, and why I’m here, and what I love; and if I’m off the map, it’s because I stepped into the brambles on purpose.


For inspiration.


For the shoring up.


I refuse to be emptied.


Or filled with meaninglessness.


PROMPTuesday #224: The Years

September 10th, 2013

A therapist gave me the upcoming as an assignment once: write down the major events of each year, including but not limited to memories, impressions, mental photographs, and anything else that defined that year for me. At the time, I was only 30 and so this exercise didn’t take too long because my memory still worked and there weren’t so many years.


And then I left the list in my car when I had it serviced and no one at Sheen’s Auto Care ever looked at me the same way again.



For this PROMPTuesday (I’m coming back! I promise!), I want you to write down your years. Let’s start with age 9 and go to 11. I plan to do this exercise in increments, so subsequent prompts will address each time period intermittently throughout the rest of 2013 (HOLY FLASHING LIFE BEFORE MY EYES).


So I’ll start. As you’ll see, I wrote down incomplete sentences and memory flashes. For this, that’s perfectly fine – that’s often how memories appear in our heads.


Attending fourth grade at Audubon school in Foster City, CA. Drawing a topographic map of San Bernardino, CA. Falling in love with Kenny McMullen. Having a dream about him kissing me as I lay in a wedding dress on a stone altar (perhaps Snow White-inspired). Having a best friend who lived by the school and a park and who had a really quiet house. Losing my three-year-old sister from the house and imagining her chopped up in bits in the fridge. The whole neighborhood looking for her thought I was weird. I was. Having to move to Chicago and really, really hating the idea. Driving to Chicago in my dad’s chocolate brown Cadillac. Getting caught in a blizzard. Going to St. Mary’s halfway through fourth grade and feeling miserable and displaced. Opting out of the mandatory Science Fair while my homeroom teacher took pity on me and passed me into fifth grade with flying colors.


Getting into my groove at St. Mary’s. Having Mister Krage for homeroom and Sister Camille for religion. Making friends who would stay with me to this day (at least one). Remember seeing “bras” under the white blouses of our Catholic school uniforms and wondering when I would get one. Making friends with Lori Swisher, Theresa Reiland, and Lauretta Tagli. Thinking maybe Chicago wouldn’t completely suck.


Loving Greg Anderson and sitting next to him in language arts. Loving art and music. Finding out Robert Cunningham was “in love” with me and would continue to be so throughout eighth grade. Having Robert Cunningham kiss me on the cheek in Sister Camille’s class and getting in trouble. Having Robert Cunningham leave me some Valentine’s candies on my desk in homeroom with a note telling me the “love big had bitten him.” Remember getting very excitable when I had things to accomplish and remembering that feeling as driving and sustaining me. Became obsessed with getting on the honor roll. Watched Greg Anderson and Tony Peridotti walk around the room during social studies class to see if the teacher would notice. Remember learning how to spell Czechoslovakia and how to write checks.


Now you! Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments. This little exercise could spark story ideas or post fodder or just make you remember why you are who you are.

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.