Alt Summit Recap: Don’t Forget

Alt Summit | Don't Forget

Although it’s hard to believe, the sequin filled whirlwind of Altitude Summit is over! The trip was a day longer than expected, since Delta generously bumped me up to an earlier flight to avoid the impending snow storm. My friend Maggie and I boarded a plane together on Tuesday and spent that luxurious limbo day napping, getting pampered at the spa, and eating delicious food. The extra day also gave me the opportunity to head out to dinner with another friend, Erin, who whisked me to a fabulous sushi restaurant called Takashi. Who knew that sushi in the middle of the country could be so fresh?

Then it was Wednesday, and the hotel really began filling up. For someone who typically spends her days in yoga pants, and for whom blow drying is an effort, the sudden influx of impeccably dressed women in high heels and perfect coifs was hugely impressive. I was lucky enough to room with Mere, who is of the loveliest people you could hope to meet, and we breathed a sigh of relief as we headed to the spa to hand our locks over to the professionals. We emerged an hour later with Alt-appropriate ‘dos.

After that, it was like getting on a steep, twisting slide filled with chatter and balloons. People kept asking what my goals were at this year’s conference, and my answer was always the same: to see my friends. While last year was all about soaking in the knowledge, this year was more about strengthening connections and collaborating. And I’m happy to report that both were fulfilled.

There will be plenty of roundups for you to read this week, but I just wanted to leave you with my one big takeaway: never forget who you are and where you started.

The people I most admired at this year’s conference were a mixture of new acquaintances and established friendships. All of them are humble people who recognize that their success is the result of many stars aligning — hard work, passion, and talent, yes, but also luck, and sometimes even a whole bunch of failure. And that it could all go as easily as it came. There’s no sense of entitlement, just genuine hope and the understanding that you need to roll with the punches if you ever hope to survive.

As the year goes on, I’ll look back at these people as models for the kind of person I’d like to become.

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All photos except the first were taken by the tremendously talented Justin Hackworth.

Gift Guide: The Ladies

Gifts for Girlfriends at $20 or Less

Since I have so many people on my Christmas list and I’m on a budget, I keep my eyes peeled for gifts that are both swoon-worthy and a great deal. I’m sure plenty of you can relate! That’s why I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite things, each of them priced at $20 or less. Now there’s a new challenge: not buying one of everything for yourself, as well.

Necklace: J.Crew | Makeup Case: Orla Kiely for Target | Dress: Forever 21 | Earrings: H&M | Tote: West Elm | Candle: Anthropologie

Weekend Links + Looking Amazing

Frock Files | Weekend Links + Cultivating Community

It has been a very full week — all good, but our schedules have left little room for relaxation. Among the comings and goings, Kona graduated from puppy kindergarten and was awarded an AKC Star Puppy Certificate for her hard work! We’re finally settling into a good routine, including a day of daycare, and I feel a lot saner than I did a month ago.

We’re looking forward to a wide open weekend of sleeping in, getting cozy, and maybe even escaping for our first in-theater movie since bringing the puppy home. Here are five lovely things for you to cozy up to this weekend:

There are so many echoes from the past year of my life in this post.

Look amazing in every single picture from now on.

The best slow cooker soup ever.

Pens! Pens! Pens! From Japan!

Quite possibly the most beautiful dessert I’ve ever seen.

What are you up to this weekend?

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How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

How to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my friends about the comparison game. You know, that incessant internal dialogue about how this person has done so much more, so much faster, in a much more organized fashion (or what have you). It’s a goofy game to play because, unlike playing chess or Monopoly with yourself, you’ll never win.

Martha Beck points out that the ability to compare is just instinctual, and actually important to our ability to survive, but that when we begin to compare ourselves to others it’s useless.

Here’s a challenge for you: Go outside and find the best possible stick. Why aren’t you going? Perhaps because the request is ridiculous. What do I mean by ‘the best possible stick’? For doing what? Digging? Toasting marshmallows? Poking a weasel? A stick that’s ideal for one purpose might be useless for another.

She includes a list of symptoms you might have if you’ve developed the comparison virus, including irritation or depression following someone else’s success, never feeling good enough, and only momentary happiness at your own successes. Does any of this sound familiar?

How to Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

I think many of us were raised to constantly strive to do better, but perhaps we only got half the message. Because doing better isn’t a solitary action; often, it involves everyone within your network. So if your friend is celebrating a success, you have to remember:

a) Their success is not indicative of your failure
b) In most cases, their success will help you reach higher ground in the long run.

Think about it: if your colleague gets promoted at work and feels your genuine happiness for their move, it’s likely that they’ll bring up your good work when talking to the higher-ups. Or another scenario: if your neighbors make their front yard into an oasis, it elevates the curb appeal (and probably the property values) for the whole neighborhood — and can set off a chain of inspiration that gives everyone a boost.

Comparison and jealousy stem from fear, just like we were talking about last week. And really, when we’re comparing ourselves to others, it comes from a fear of failure. So I love this exercise from Ms. Beck: to celebrate your failures.

Says Beck, “Have you ever wanted to hear the story of someone’s least embarrassing moment? Of course not. You want to know how people screwed up and lived to tell the tale.” It’s true! Failure makes you a more interesting person. The willingness to tell the tales of your failures makes you more charming. (The opposite — talking only about how pretty you are, how “interesting it is” that people have recognized your talents, etc., etc., — actually makes you a lot less charming.)

This all makes me want to throw a failure party, so that we can all laugh about our most embarrassing moments — and so that we can learn from each other. Because I think that by doing so, we can create an environment rich in affection, understanding, and support. When’s the last time you celebrated your most fantastic failure?

P.S. Some artwork to remind you who the boss is.
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Long Distance Friendships

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

Soon after I moved to Portland in 2010, I met Lindsey while working a temp job downtown. We like to say that we fell in love over a secret plan to drown the office bonsai trees (it’s halfway true). When I moved back to Boston last summer, I didn’t have any doubt that Lindsey and I would continue to be as thick as thieves. We’re almost constantly in touch, but when we aren’t I always know that she’s there, she always knows that I’m here, and we’re never feel too terribly far apart.

Frock Files | On Great FriendshipsFrock Files | On Great Friendships

Since we don’t get to spend a lot of time together now that we’re on different coasts, I asked my friend Meghann Street if she could capture a perfect girls’ day with me and Lindsey when I was in Portland last month. We shopped, we had cupcakes, and we stopped to smell the flowers. And we laughed — a lot.

Frock Files | On Great FriendshipsFrock Files | On Great Friendships

Maybe it’s because she’s had to deal with the most demanding of jobs or because she has that steel-laden aristocratic Japanese blood (mixed with some ladylike Swedish) in her — whatever it is, Lindsey has taught me a lot about living a no-nonsense life. Most importantly:

  • There’s almost always something to laugh at when you’re crying.
  • Vegetables can always be disguised as something more fun.
  • If someone wants something from you and can’t tell you what it is, it’s probably not your problem.

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

And now that you’ve seen all these lovely, ladylike photos Lindsey suggests that I add this: It’s important to have a friend with whom you have no filter. As in:

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

She later learned that #nofilter actually means not using a photo filter on Instagram, but continues to prefer it her way. So do I.

Frock Files | On Great Friendships

What have you learned from your best girlfriends?

P.S. Speaking of friends, I’m feeling especially fortunate this week to know such generous and thoughtful people within this community. Whether you’ve offered words of encouragement, support, advice, or a push in the right direction, thank you.  I’m so grateful to have you in my life.

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Lindsey’s Outfit: Shirt: Aritzia | Scarf: Monica Lee Studios | Jeans: Levis | Heels: | Cardigan: Target (past season) | Purse: Gap (past season)

My Outfit: Shirt: Aritzia | Jeans: Banana Republic | Heels: BP (past season) | Earrings: Kate Spade | Purse: Kate Spade (past season) | Scarf: Monica Lee Studios | Tattoos: Tattly

Photos by Meghann Street

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