Let’s Pretend It’s Springtime

Spring Forward: Biker Meets Blooms #floral #fashion

As I write this, yet more snow is falling outside my window, adding to the 100+ inches we’ve already gotten here in New England. The snow piles are beginning to resemble small mountains. We’re ready for spring more than ever before, excited to retire our down jackets and snow boots and mittens and hats and Yak Tracks.

The one thing keeping me sane: in less than two weeks we spring forward! That doesn’t mean spring is here just yet, but it does put hope in my nearly frozen heart. I’ve actually enjoyed wearing a lot of black and–my favorite–grey this winter, but as the flower stalls begin to fill with tulips and ranunculus, my eye is turning toward color and florals (my other favorite).

And while I usually tend to go for classic pieces, lately I’ve been feeling a little more adventurous. My timeless trench will still see plenty of wear this year, but I think I’m finally ready to take the dive for a moto of my own. This one from Forever 21 is low-risk anyway, with a price point under $30.

What’s warming up your wardrobe as you look to spring?

Jacket: Forever 21 // Earrings: J. Crew // Top: Modcloth // Pants: Old Navy // Boots: Nordstrom

Romance Your Career

Romance Your Career | Simple ideas to boost your career and avoid a slump

Some of you are probably wondering where the Valentine’s Day posts are this year. There are a few things at play here: one is that we’ve gotten over 60 inches of snow in the last couple of weeks, which means everything gets crammed into the leftover days, leaving little time for craft and food shopping. The other is that I’ve been a wee bit preoccupied with The Big Project Melissa and I have in the works, and with building a tool chest for my career.

I’m at that point in my current job where I understand how all the machinery works, so there’s room to begin thinking about how to grow from the foundation I’ve laid. Raise your hands if you’ve been in your job for over a year! It’s easy to get comfortable, right?

But I think that by continuing to dig deeper, continuously learn, and check in with ourselves, you can keep the love affair with your career going. It’s like dating your spouse. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean the romance goes out the door. Here are a few awesome ways to kick things up a notch:

Spice It Up

Listen to industry podcasts: James works in technology, so he’s always keeping up with trends by listening to podcasts on network infrastructure. This inspired me to find some social media podcasts, which I listen to in the car. I’m currently enjoying the Social Media Marketing Happy Hour, which run about 15 minutes. This podcast is like the gummy vitamin of job growth for me because they’re happy, bite-sized episodes that keep me up-to-date on what’s happening in the social media landscape. I sent a bit of advice that I learned from this show to a list of faculty and staff who I run workshops for on campus and they were thrilled!

Drink More Coffee: I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi’s work because he focuses on how to be a higher quality entrepreneur or employee in order to find more success, not just how to appear to be one. Sethi suggests getting together with friends and acquaintances for quick coffee meetings several times a month. The idea is that you’ll strengthen your existing relationships and create new connections in other organizations, both of which could help broaden your horizons (and vice versa).

Make Plans: Stop coasting! If you have a good idea of what your team’s goals are, set your own goals to help in getting there. If it’s not clear, or if you just want to be 100% sure, sit down with your boss and ask if there are contributions that you, specifically, can make in the next three to six months to help the team achieve more. Check in with your goals on a daily basis. I’m testing the Golden Scale app, which breaks goals down into manageable chunks. Have you tried it? I’d love to know about whether or not you’ve had success with it or other goal setting apps.

P.S. Okay, some of you are still kind of bummed about the lack of Valentine’s Day love here. For you, here’s a DIY, a series on modern romance, and some Valentine’s-centric recipes. Bake some heart-shaped palmiers and take them to work!

The Upside of Mercury Retrograde

The Upside to Mercury Retrograde // Frock Files

We’re smack in the middle of Mercury Retrograde, which is a period when Mercury slows down and appears to begin moving backward (an optical illusion, but that’s where it got the title “retrograde”). Three times a year, for three weeks, Mercury Retrograde pops up and causes all kinds of problems with communication, technology, and transportation. A couple of years ago, James got three flat tires in two days during Mercury Retrograde. This year, I’ve found that I’m running into all kinds of frustrating communication issues. And it seems to be happening to all of my friends and family members too!

So it can be hard to see the good things about Mercury Retrograde, but since it happens to take up a whopping nine weeks every year, I figured there must be an upside. As we’ve been slammed with snow out here on the East Coast, I’ve come to the realization that Mercury Retrograde is a little bit like a blizzard. Yeah, you probably won’t be able to go anywhere. You might even lose power. But it gives you the time to hunker down and really think about where you want to go from here.

Here’s what the experts have to say about how to get the most out of Mercury Retrograde:

The Upside to Mercury Retrograde // Frock Files“You can take those big ideas left simmering on the back burner and bring them forward. Finish something you started a long time ago. Complete items on your nagging long-overdue list.” – Slade Roberson

 

The Upside to Mercury Retrograde // Frock Files“Eventually, when this retrograde is over, the more positive side of Mercury in Aquarius will take over. The ideas and solutions that are proposed are truly innovative and better thought out, and more likely to work. They are likely to be both brilliant and practical solutions.” – Larry Schwimmer for the Huffington Post

“This period is best used for re-organizing and reflecting. We look at the world a little differently–through different filters–and can come up with some very important inner revelations.” – Cafe Astrology

As someone who generally acts quickly on decisions, I’ve begun to appreciate Mercury Retrograde for the time it gives me to pause and consider the long term impact of my choices. I’ve also used it as a period to dig into a few projects that have been pushed to the back burner. It’s an excellent time to get into “head down” mode so that there’s a new foundation for greater momentum once Mercury speeds up again on February 11.

How have you been faring during this round of Mercury Retrograde?

P.S. It looks like our pal Phil saw his shadow this morning, predicting another six weeks of winter. Please excuse me while I go and watch another episode of Hawaii Life.

How to Win at Winter Skin

How to Win at Winter Skincare

For the first few years that I lived in Massachusetts, I lived in an apartment that was built in the 1940s, which came complete with steam heat radiators. It wasn’t until I moved back here a couple of years ago that I understood how harsh central heating can be on the skin. This year has been particularly cold and I’ve had to fight my way back to healthy skin. But I’ve finally found a balance using a few surprising products that I never would have dared to use on my face back when I lived in Hawaii.

Washing: My skin is usually combination/oily and most of the year I wash my face twice a day. This winter, since my skin has been so dry, I’ve taken to washing it in the evenings only. I use a moisturizing oil cleanser by Tu’el followed by an emulsifier. These two help to keep my pores blackhead-free without stripping my skin of natural oils.

Daytime Moisturizer: Last year, Victoria recommended Waleda Skin Food and I immediately went out to Whole Foods to get some. This stuff is thick and rich, but it sinks into my skin and has never caused me to break out (and I’m pretty prone to breakouts). Victoria used it as night cream, but since we’ve had so much extreme cold accompanied by a good amount of wind, I need something this heavy during the day.

Nighttime Moisturizer: Despite using such thick moisturizer, the skin on my cheeks was still red and chapped. I was about to resort to Vaseline when Lindsey recommended Lanolin. Typically, Lanolin (an oil derived from sheep’s wool) is used by mothers who are breastfeeding, but it turns out that it’s excellent for healing all kinds of dry, chapped areas where nothing else is helping. It is greasy and doesn’t sink in quickly, but if you’ve tried everything else and nothing is helping, it’s worth a try. Lanolin is the number one thing that has helped my skin this winter. And at $7 a pop it’s a steal.

Supplements: When I was struggling with dandruff and dry skin, my favorite esthetician recommended taking fish oil supplements. Within a week my scalp was once again balanced and I noticed a real difference in the overall health of my skin. I take these pearl-sized ones in the morning and evening. Fish oil also promotes heart health, so it’s a win all around!

Air: Since I hail from a place with 90% humidity year round, I put off getting a humidifier for a long time. But we recently invested in this one by Air-o-Swiss and it’s made a huge difference, not just in my skin feeling balanced, but in the way we feel overall. No more ear/nose/throat issues! No more tight morning skin! It’s worth every penny.

Oil Pulling: If you’ve been suffering from flaky and/or itchy skin on your lips and around your mouth, it may be because of your mouthwash. The chemicals that whiten your teeth and the alcohol can be incredibly drying. While I couldn’t commit to just oil pulling without brushing, I’ve added it to my routine in place of mouthwash. Since coconut oil naturally kills bacteria, I’ve actually found it to be more effective than regular mouthwash. Happy gums mean a happy body! Here’s some medical information on the benefits of oil pulling.

Life Update: Moving Forward

The other day, I was standing outside in the five degree sunrise with Kona and it dawned on me that we’ve turned a corner. After living for months and months on constant alert, the new year arrived and with it a sense of normalcy. While we’re busier than ever, and while there are still nights where I just want to have a bowl of cereal for dinner and be done with it, we’re not stuck in quicksand anymore. And we’ve come into this new period feeling so, so grateful.

As you may have already guessed, we postponed our trip to Hawaii in order to be near James’ dad after he took a spill and ended up with his second brain injury of 2014. I was briefly depressed about this change of plans, but then we realized that there are a lot of pros to going later. We’ll be done with the cold and desperately seeking an escape by then. And when we get back in early April, we’ll be thisclose to spring’s arrival. We also got to extend our trip by a few days, with stopovers in Portland on both ends.

We’re all healthy again. James’ dad is doing amazingly well. Last week no one could remember where the eyeglass repair kit was at their house, but he chimed in, “It’s in the second drawer in the laundry room!” Then he looked at me and said, “And they think I’m having memory problems. Ha!”

So now it’s time to start planning for more fun this year. While I was driving today, I heard an ad for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and thought about the possibility of going to Tanglewood for the 4th of July. When there’s space in your mind to think about summer in January, things must be going well.

How are things on your end?

Love, Joy

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