The New Normal.

I saw my therapist last week and we reminisced about how I was fortunate enough to have an appointment with her the day after the 2016 presidential election. She told me it was the hardest day of her career and that after holding it together for patients all day long, she cried the entire way home.

I understood and as I left her office on Wednesday I realized that I feel like I’m still crying on some interminable commute with no destination in sight.

There’s the story of the frog in a pot of boiling water, where the temperature rises so slowly that the frog doesn’t even realize it’s suffering until it’s far too late to do anything about it.

I don’t believe I’m the only one that feels this way, for whom scrolling through a Facebook feed is like sticking your hand in piranha tank, and who has to avoid Twitter entirely. Who’s still trying to wrap her head around living in a world in which Tom Petty does not. Who can’t quite grasp the inanity of most of what is reported as news and who sometimes is afraid to get on the elevator of her 80-story office building because today could be the day some white asshole goes nuts and shoots a bunch of people right there. Maybe somebody I know. Maybe me.

We isolate to protect ourselves, but of course that backfires, too, right, because suddenly a year has passed and you’re just left wondering if you have any friends left. Sure you all agree that the country is a mess but when everyone’s just trying to keep their head above water no one can help anyone else from drowning. I’ve never been afraid before like I might be the one to drown, only that I wouldn’t be able to help someone else. And a lot of the time now I just feel like we’re all drowning in our own personal oceans worlds apart from one another and reaching across is just too hard.

But, you know. That’s not really what I want to talk about. That’s not news.

Let’s talk about storytelling.

I spent a great deal of time over the last year playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons with a lot of awesome people. I tried new styles of play, new editions, new characters, and new tactics. I made mistakes, I made new friends, and I learned a lot about myself, the game, and telling stories. I realized that all I want to do is study stories and tell stories, because that’s the only way I’ve ever figured anything out or made anything better. I realized that my day job revolves around telling stories, too (you know, really boring ones about real estate, but stories nonetheless). Obviously all my theatre work has been about storytelling, too, but I realized that I don’t need an audience to engage in the craft, or a production team, or critics, just a handful of likeminded souls and some dice. I realized that the only way I’m going to hold on through the next few years of this nonsense is to keep telling stories with awesome people where you can stand up to bullies and the demons and the assholes and you can talk your way out of your problems if you try hard enough and you can wear fucking armor and get advantage and you help your ally Do the Thing that Saves the Day and you can run away when you get overwhelmed and still come back to fight another day, and not every little thing that happens feels like it brings the crushing weight of the universe down upon your shoulders–even when you’re literally dealing with the crushing weight of the universe! (I mean, a small crew of us were joyously content to spend three entire sessions just trying to find some goddamned winter clothing so our shiny little first-level PCs wouldn’t freeze to death this year.) To keep looking around the table and trusting that this crew has your back and you’ve got theirs and even in those times when you’re all collectively the goddamn frog and the water’s boiling up to your ears there’s always a way out and someone at that table is going to think of it because you’re all definitely way, way more than the sum of your parts. ‘Cuz we’re heroes. We can do magic and shit.

Maybe it’s just escapism and making everything worse, but I don’t believe that. Only in storytelling do I see where the intellectual and the emotional understanding of the world we want to live in or the person we want to be unite, and how can we build what we can’t even imagine?

Up for it? Let me know. I may be hibernating, but I’m around.

Third time’s the charm

Hey! Long time no write. Since I gave up writing Stitch Fix reviews I’ve sometimes forgotten this blog exists. I still get Fixes once every four weeks, and they continue to be stellar — but relieving myself of the burden of taking pictures and writing reviews has been very good overall for my recovery from my body image and compulsive eating issues. I sometimes miss the community of sharing my boxes with fellow Fixers, but I’ve come to trust my own judgment more.

But I’m not here to talk about clothes today, rather I thought I’d give a small update on the Whole30. We’re in the middle of our third one right now, and it was very welcome after a pretty indulgent holiday season and a three-week-long throat-and-sinus cold that pretty much sapped my entire 12-day vacation from the office.

This time around I’ve made an observation that I was probably too wrapped up in rehearsals and performances to make before: I fare much better with restriction than I do with portion control.

The Whole30 is restrictive eating, no doubt — that label is why I avoided it for so long. No sugar, no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol. No, no, no, no, no. But hey, it’s only 30 days so what’s the big deal. So much of my compulsive eating is wrapped up in feelings of deprivation that the Whole30, for years, felt like leaning into something that was going to trigger all sorts of behaviors that I thought would be too much for me. And possibly at some point, they would have been. But for whatever reason, when we are doing it, the restriction doesn’t trigger or bother me at all.

As opposed to the holiday season. We were not so foolish or cruel as to attempt a Whole30 during the holidays, but I did go into with a general commitment to not going overboard. I felt I’d learned enough in the last couple of years to be able to recognize feelings of fullness, to recognize when I’m not hungry but bored or frustrated, to be able to trust that I would know when I had had enough of whatever unsatisfying sugary thing was in abundance all around me. I also felt that I had moved forward enough to give myself a break for indulging, to let go of worrying about the effects of one more piece of cinnamon toast was going to have on my skinny jeans.

I felt those things, but I was wrong.

I still can’t have just one cookie, just one piece of bread, just one whatever. There’s no better self that steps and logically explains that indulging in fourteen cupfuls of really not-all-that-great-tasting caramel popcorn is not necessary on any level. There’s no inner Mary Berry that says, “Those cookies are cheap and will taste like cardboard. Why don’t you hold out for something better?” I’m just not there yet.

This remains an observation; it is not a diagnosis. For whatever reason, it is far easier for me to say, “I’m don’t eat that,” than to say, “I will only eat a little bit of that.”

The Whole30 has been a fantastic informative tool and this is a great example of it. We’re about two weeks in and I’m feeling about ten times better physically than I did during the holidays. Though, full disclosure, recent political events have left me feeling like my upper threshold of joy and enthusiasm has plummeted, and I’m keeping an eye on some recent — and mercifully brief — dark patches of full-on depression. I shudder to think how much worse they might have been if I was loading myself down with my go-to bread-and-sugar comfort foods.

Until the next lightning bolt. Be well.

Stitch Fix Review #43!

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My Fixes, it seems, are catching up to my age.

Still, not tired of receiving them! I am, however, getting slightly weary of blogging about them. 43 Fixes in and it’s hard to muster the same enthusiasm I had early on. It’s getting easier to for me to make choices these days, and if I do need help, I have many other outlets for getting it. And frankly I am a little weary of trying to find good lighting in the same room as a good background in our house.

But here’s something else: I’m feeling pretty good about myself these days. There are a lot of factors that layer into that feeling and some of them, for sure, won’t last forever, but just at the moment, the clothes are ceasing to be something that are helping me work through my body image issues. More and more, they’re just…clothes. I’m sure I’ve hinted at all of this before, and I may feel differently when my next box shows up in a few weeks…but also I hope no one will be surprised if that box shows up without the requisite documentation on this blog.

And one last point on this — I am not sure but I think that maybe, just maybe, this is my 100th blog post here. Perhaps that rounded milestone is telling me it’s time to make a shift.

2016-09-21-19-22-40But until then, here’s the skinny: (Skip this paragraph if you read here often, it’s the same as it always is!) If you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, here’s the deal: Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service. You can subscribe for regular Fixes or just schedule them as you like. You fill out an extensive online profile of your tastes, sizes, and budget preferences and for a $20 fee, one of their stylist puts together a box of 5 clothing and accessory items to ship right to your door! You have 3 days to try things on, solicit opinions, balance your budget, whatever — you send back anything that doesn’t work for you in a prepaid envelope, and keep whatever you love! Your $20 styling fee is applied to anything you decide to keep, and if you buy the whole box of items you get 25% off the entire box! Prices vary but they say the average cost per item is $55 – 65. If you haven’t ever tried it and are interested, please consider using my referral link. If you use my link to schedule a Fix, I get a $25 credit towards my next purchase! (Note that I do not receive any compensation for reviewing this service; I just enjoy doing it).

jessatrousers

Jessa Wide Leg Denim Trouser by Level 99 ($118). I was very jazzed to see these wide legs jeans headed my way, after pinning half a dozen images to my inspiration board of leggy blonds in flares and flowy floral tops, but cautious. These are exactly the kind of pants that can overwhelm a short person. Still, I was pleased to see that Stephanie had chosen a pair from Level 99, who also made the fantastic skinny cargoes from my last Fix. And wow, when I put them on, it felt like slipping into a vat of butter. Actually that sounds a little gross, so please ignore that because these pants felt amazing. Again, Stephanie managed to mine a hole in my closet that I didn’t even really know how much I wanted filled. I didn’t get a picture, but I also tried these on with flats and the length was great. Verdict: Keep.

darciepencil

Darcie Printed Pencil Skirt by Gilli ($48). There’s a lot to love about this piece — not the least of which is the price tag — including the fit, feel, and trusted brand name (I have five Gilli dresses in my closet). I thought this was going to be an easy yes for sure, but when it came right down to it I had a ton of trouble finding pieces to pair with it. Black was an easy choice, but white was a no-go since the skirt is off while. All of the hot colors in my closet felt wrong, and I’m not brave enough for the level of pattern mixing required to pull off most of my other tops. I have that great laser cut blue sleeveless top from two Fixes ago, but I think the skirt wants a tucked-in top, and the cut details on the blue would have made that tricky. Ultimately, while I really liked this skirt and wanted to try to make it work, I don’t love enough to balance the frustration of not having anything to wear with it. Frankly the last thing my closet needs is another printed pencil skirt with limited combination options. Verdict: Return.

ramosblouse

Ramos Bell Sleeve Blouse by Market & Spruce ($64). When I saw this was headed my way, my first reaction was sort of “Whaaaaa?”, because the color notwithstanding, this shirt felt really, just REALLY, “not me”. But, go figure, when I reviewed my Stitch Fix Pinterest inspiration board, I saw that I had included this:

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You can’t really deny the resemblance. But either way, I am always game to try whatever Stephanie sends because that’s the whole point of the service, right? I gave this one it’s fair due but, much like the fabulous elastic hem top from the last Fix, this shirt was just WAY too narrow in the shoulders and chest for anyone to wear and remain sane. I mean, I just need to be able to lift my arms more than a few inches. That’s just a basic. Beyond that, the thing I thought I would hate about it (the sleeves) I did not (though I don’t love them either), and the thing I knew I would hate about it (the high neckline) I did. It just looks matronly. Even with that amazing saturated bright color that I adore. Verdict: Return.

belicehoodie

Belice Hooded Knit Top by Ink, Love & Peace ($64). In my Style Profile, I ask primarily for Business Casual clothes that I can wear to work, with the occasional Date Night outfit thrown in every once in a while, and at least one piece per Fix as Casual. I’ve found myself looking forward to that Casual piece more and more as I get older. I’m no longer satisfied with lounging around in cheap Old Navy gear on the weekends; I want stuff that feels good and looks good too. This soft-as-heather pullover hoodie was never something I would think of asking for, shopping for, or even paying $64 for, but once I, I wanted it to stay on. Like, forever. It’s a little more blue than the picture shows (so is my closet door, for that matter), and the lining and strings are a nice retro gray pinstripe on white. The sleeves are a tad too long on me, especially with the thumb hole detail in use, but that wasn’t enough to sway me away. Verdict: Keep.

egbertblouse

Egbert Tie Front Knit Top by Daniel Rainn ($54). Sorry, sorry, sorry, it’s a textured black top with a front detail, there was NEVER going to be ANY chance I would get a good photo of it all. Suffice to say that it’s got a lovely fitted shape, tucks into skirts with ease, and it goes with everything I own. The tie neck is the same fabric as that back overlay in the second picture, a nice subtle textured polka dot print, which I had also pinned in a different style shirt on my inspiration board. A perfect addition to my work wardrobe from one of my favorite Stitch Fix brands. Verdict: Keep.

Another 3/5 from Stephanie that could easily have been a 4/5. I love that she listens to my requests and obviously looks at my Pinterest board each time, which still managing to send items that surprise and delight me.

I was about to sign off with “see you next time!” but I don’t know if there will be a next time! Hm, now I’m feeling a little sad about that, so maybe I’ll hold off on the decision for a little while. And no matter what I decide I’ll stop with the blathering on about it. Until then, enjoy your one precious life!

Stitch Fix Review #43!

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Wow, it’s September already! I don’t know why I am shocked – we only got back from vacation a month and a half ago and I’m already ready for the next one. But there are a lot of exciting things in the works — an office move, a show opening, and, as always, a new Fix! So let’s get right to it, shall we? I’ll have a post at some later date about the rehearsal process, but I am prioritizing my review due to limited time — I like to include the link to my reviews in my checkout process, and my checkout date is tomorrow!

sybilcargoes

Sybil Cargo Skinny Pant by Level 99 ($88). Last winter, I went to this super cool wine tasting event through my theatre company to mingle with some audience members in a very informal setting. There was a woman there wearing the most amazing skinny cargo pants — they were so flattering that I had to ask her about them. Since then, I’ve been Pinning any skinny cargoes I could find and whaddaya know, Stephanie delivered. These are a great fit, but I apologize for how hard it was to get a properly-lit photo of them. Our house is very moody, we like it that way, but trying to get well-lit photos of dark-colored pants is a nightmare. So you might have to just trust me when I tell you these were awesome — I plan on wearing them all weekend! Verdict: Keep.

creenbooties

Creen Laser Cut Peep Toe Bootie by BCBGeneration ($90). Based on a lot of the complaints I see in the Stitch Fix Facebook group I belong to, I feel very fortunate to have a stylist who really looks at my Pinterest board and listens to my requests (even though lately I’ve steered away from specific requests in my note). I had Pinned several pairs of booties but didn’t hold out much hope for getting any I would love — I am definitely into the bootie trend, because I think they look fantastic with skinny jeans and pants, but very picky about the ones I like. Booties that open up at the top rather than tapering in make me look even shorter than I already am. Stephanie sent me this chic pair and I discovered the joys of perforated heels. However, I also discovered the (potential) pain of peep toe cutouts. The right bootie fit perfectly, but the cutout of the left foot sliced right across the nailbed of my big toe. You can even see it in the photo. I wasn’t the least bit ready to give up on the booties yet, so I did two things: 1) I checked online at all my favorite shoe places to see if I could find anything comparable, and 2) I asked around about shoe stretching possibilities. The alternate pair search turned up nothing even close except for the exact same pair direct from the BCBGeneration site, but the toe height stretching possibilities seemed broad and workable, so I thought I might keep them and see what I could do. The answer ended up being somewhere in between. BCBGeneration was offering their pair direct for $110, but 40% off, which came out to $66. They had the same color and size available, and the sale was to last another 5 days or until they were unavailable. Since a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (possibly the worst adage of all time), I would have preferred to keep the pair I already had and go from there. So I reached out to Stitch Fix’s awesome customer service team and inquired into a price match. They replied very quickly that they could not honor price matching for limited sale prices, so I was able to immediately purchase a new pair direct from BCBGeneration. They should be here late next week, and if they have the same issue, I’ll try some of the many suggestions for stretching out the tight places! Verdict: Return.

basingerblouse

Basinger Shoulder Pleat Blouse by Collective Concepts ($54). We had trouble capturing the terrific deep teal blue of this cute, versatile top, which was the best thing about it. The fit was all off; too boxy, the neckline was far too wide, and it has those not-there sleeves that make me look like a football player. This is one of those tops I would have kept (and possibly exchanged for a smaller size) if the rest of the box had been perfect, and likely given away in a year. Pretty, but nothing special. Verdict: Return.

juanisvneck

2016-08-29 17.52.46Juanis V-Neck Blouse by 41Hawthorn ($64). I was intrigued by this blouse during the sneak peek. I liked the look of it, I like the v-neck and the pleating and the sleeve length. But take a look at the preview shot — can you see the elastic hem at the bottom of the shirt? I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it until it arrived. Of course the concept is super simple – the elastic sits at your waist and allows a bloused-out, tucked in look without actually having to tuck in a bunch of extra fabric under your skirt or pants. This probably makes me a bit grandma, but I think this is just genius. I so wanted to be able to keep this shirt, but as you can see, on the right side of the main photo, it was far too tight across the bust. I couldn’t raise my arms more than a few inches without it pulling in the most unattractive way and I thought a larger size would be too big everywhere else, so it had to go back, but it was a little heartbreaking. Verdict: Return.

bowiedolman

Bowie Solid Dolman Sleeve Top by Laila Jayde ($58). This is one of those Stitch Fix classics. These dolmans have a great casual flair while not being totally shapeless. They are versatile, comfortable flattering but have just enough structure that you can’t really feel frumpy in them. Paired with a terrific burgundy color for fall, I couldn’t resist its charms. But I don’t plan on hanging this in my closet, as the last shirt I got in this shape has stretched out in the neckline from being on the hanger. This one is getting folded in the drawer with my other chunky fall sweaters. Verdict: Keep.

2016-08-31 17.45.09(Skip this paragraph if you read here often, it’s the same as it always is!) If you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, here’s the deal: Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service. You can subscribe for regular Fixes or just schedule them as you like. You fill out an extensive online profile of your tastes, sizes, and budget preferences and for a $20 fee, one of their stylist puts together a box of 5 clothing and accessory items to ship right to your door! You have 3 days to try things on, solicit opinions, balance your budget, whatever — you send back anything that doesn’t work for you in a prepaid envelope, and keep whatever you love! Your $20 styling fee is applied to anything you decide to keep, and if you buy the whole box of items you get 25% off the entire box! Prices vary but they say the average cost per item is $55 – 65. If you haven’t ever tried it and are interested, please consider using my referral link. If you use my link to schedule a Fix, I get a $25 credit towards my next purchase! (Note that I do not receive any compensation for reviewing this service; I just enjoy doing it).

This was another terrific box, and I am still having a great time with this service. I’ve been paring away older items with regularity so my wardrobe never feels overwhelming, but I’m getting enough new stuff to keep things interesting.

Whole30: Reintroduction

(Small disclaimer, I’m writing this on the iPad using the WordPress app, so for the sake of my own sanity I am going to try to make this a brief post)

We’re now officially on Day 4, Post-30. Per the instructions on reintroducing non-compliant foods (and beverages) into our diet, I introduced honey into my tea on Day 1, returned to compliance for three days, and today I introduced grains in the form of one piece of whole wheat toast topped with avocado. 

Day 1 was a cloudy day, until it was an incredibly hot and humid day, and I’m uncertain how much big shifts in weather affect my general sense of wellbeing. That being said, for several hours after I had said honey-in-tea, I had a headache and general feeling of crappiness that last into the early afternoon. It was basically the same as how I feel when I am in the early stages of migraine, when I’m unsure whether or not to take my prescription. 

There are about a thousand different factors that could have accounted for this. Work has been stressful, my schedule has been stressful, I am exhausting myself at rehearsal every night and having disturbingly vivid dreams of late. Also, let’s be clear, I had exactly ONE teaspoon of honey, diluted in that cup of tea. And, as I said, the whether was shifty. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist, and this is hardly the most controlled experiment. All that being said, for most of the past thirty days I’ve felt great. No random headaches or congestion. And on Wednesday, after one teaspoon of honey in one cup of tea, I felt like crap. By the next day I was fine, and the day after that.

Which brings us to Day 4. I have been frankly terrified of reintroducing grains into my diet. Remember me, with the six croissants in one sitting? Well, I do. It’s been such a relief not to crave sweets and bread all the time that I have been loath to reintroduce it in the event that it sends that obsession into overdrive. 

On top of that, when I do think about having sweets or bread, I don’t think about a packet of cookies from the vending machine at work, or a rubbery roll from Au Bon Pain — rather, I think about finding the best French bakery in the Midwest and paying whatever it takes for a three-hundred-year old pastry recipe that only two people know, loaded with butter and tradition and time-tested perfection. Doing the Whole30 has given me back the body confidence and good feeling about myself and my health that I had twenty years ago, before I ever even considered that Weight Watchers might one day be on my horizon. I don’t want to waste or risk any of that on just anything.

Still, for the sake of the experiment, I decided I had to try it. It’s a good day to do so, since my activities are entirely home based — namely, script work, script work, and some more script work. I knew today was the day with the least amount of variables built in, and I could really pay attention.

I ate that toast about forty-five minutes ago. Again: one piece of whole wheat bread toasted and topped with avocado.

The first thing I noticed was a clear but mild warmth in the back of my throat. It spread, a little, to my tongue and lips. It intensified, a little, over time. This feeling is like a shadow of what happens when I eat anything even remotely spicy. It plateaued for about half an hour, and now it’s starting to fade. But my stomach feels unsettled and unhappy — not pissed, or anything, just displeased, like, Well now why did you go and do that?

I’m going to keep paying attention. I’ve decided not re-introduce alcohol, and on Day 7 we’ll have a go at peanut butter. As far as dairy goes, I already connected the dots on that long before I ever started the Whole30, and had planned on reintroducing it as buttered toast. But now I am not so sure. I haven’t missed it, and I am definitely not feeling interested in any more toast. Scrambled eggs cooked in ghee have been just as awesome. 

Once more — I really can’t emphasize this enough — none of this is particularly scientific. There are far too many variables, and I’m sure if we’d done this during a stretch when we aren’t in rehearsals the results might be very different. Right now, my gut feeling is that I would like to keep eating compliantly, but will consider making adjustments for special occasions, or when the lack of convenience can’t be overcome. I’ll probably return to eating from salad bars even when I don’t know what it’s in the dressing and just accept there’s probably some sugar in there. Jury’s still out on bacon, though.

Whole30 Update: To reset, or to not reset.

We didn’t reset.

On the Whole30 website they have a list (they like lists) of 5 responses to the “should I reset?” questions and four of them are, You should reset. The fifth is, basically, you’re an adult, do what you want.

So we were ready to reset, had discussed some ideas around what we’d need to do during those upcoming trouble weekends, and then I took another couple of days to think it over.

During that time it occurred to me that this situation was basically the reason I had put off doing the Whole30 for so long in the first place (I first heard about it two-and-a-half years ago when I was still entrenched in Weight Watchers). At the time it just felt like restricting, and in breaking out of eating disordered behavior anything that evoked even a whiff of restricting was a big red flag for me. It was only when I was able to come at it with less of an attitude around weight loss, and more of one about feeling good and treating myself well, that I could even consider a plan that cut five types of intake out of our diet. And even then, I knew that I had to be careful about becoming obsessed with the strict nature of the plan and basically starting to structure my life around eating again, rather than using eating to fuel the rest of my life.

So the reset or not rest question was starting to look like one that was triggering my obsessive-compulsiveness, and making me feel shameful around what I had done (out of ignorance or denial). That shame then triggering a depressed feeling, the same old despair that can’t stop humming the earworm about how I can never, ever, change. That I have an upper limit of happiness and it’s a barrier I can never break through.

I posted my dilemma in a support forum (an Eating Disorders sub-form of a recovery site where I also post about codependency), and got some thoughtful feedback. I won’t see my therapist until next week and part of me was determined to work through it without her guidance anyway. One of my favorite posters on that forum brought up her issues with black and white thinking and how much trouble she has getting comfortable with the grey areas. I noted that it feels like food is the last bastion of this kind of thinking for me. I’m able to forgive my trespasses and failures in so many other areas, but when it comes to food I hold myself to a very strict standard and tend to be unforgiving. So this is what I told her:

“What I want to do is not reset and forgive myself for it, and be grateful for all that the last 22 days have given me, which is invaluable — increased self-confidence, focus, and energy to do all the things that really make like meaningful (as opposed to you know, food and clothes). The fact is, we are going to keep eating this way as long as we can stand it, not because of any Program rules, but because it makes us feel good.”

We are not resetting. I am at peace with this. I deserve to live my life without subjecting myself to arbitrary structures by which to judge myself. I believe the Whole30 is a great program and I love eating this way, but I refuse to wield it as a weapon against myself.

Stitch Fix Review #41: Fall transitions

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I have NOT forgotten to update about whether or not I am going to reset the Whole30. I just haven’t decided yet. I’m trying to find a balance between a responsible decision and  one that doesn’t leave me feeling ashamed of myself, and I ain’t there yet. I’ll get back to that in a separate post. In the meantime, I got a new Fix, and it was awesome! I can’t wait to share it with you!

First of all, life is SUPER BUSY right now! I had been hoping that this Fix would arrive a couple of days early (like the last three have done) so it would show up on Saturday, but alas it came right on time on Monday. Which gave me the tiniest window to try stuff on and get it shot between work and rehearsals. I quick threw everything on before dinner last night, was super happy that it all fit comfortably, took one of the pieces to rehearsal with me for second opinions, and then got up early this morning for photos. I apologize in advance and again for the lighting that doesn’t quite capture some of the colors and details — what can I say. We like our house on dim side.

 

clarissapencil

Clarissa Pencil Skirt by Renee C ($48). Y’all know I love pencil skirts. I have, like, four? Well, now I have five. This one is stretchy, with a sturdy thin fabric and while I was walking around the house this morning it didn’t even ride up. Plus PLAID and FALL, yay. Per Stephanie, “Last but not least this Renee C skirt, this was my fun piece, it’s gorgeous burgundy, classic fit and fun plaid screamed you-meets-fall and I have so many expectations for this!” Well, good job Stephanie, this was a knockout!

Second bit of Clarissa trivia — when we did pictures this morning this was the main piece that we didn’t capture the color or pattern for in either styling, so I sent a message to my husband asking if he would send me a close up whenever he could. His response? “OK but I think it will be too tight on me.” Verdict: KEEP.

miradolasercut

Mirado Lasercut Detail Blouse by Pixley ($58). I love big bold colors, so I was sold on this blouse right away, despite some obvious cons — it’s boxier than I usually wear (but I’m opening my mind to less fitted fashion these days anyway) and I am confident that within a few wears I will have torn at least three holes in the lasercut details. But COBALT, how is it to be resisted? It’s not! This will go with a lot of things I own for work, and still dress down with jeans for a more casual look. Just remind me not to wear any long, dangly necklaces with this top as they will eat right through the neckline beautiful detail. Verdict: KEEP.

kalanknittop

Kalan Woven Knit Detail Top by Papermoon ($54). I admit I was a wee bit disappointed when I saw this top was on its way to me — oh great, another striped top — but the Stitch Fix app only shows a full frontal shot of the pieces. Therefore it was a delightful surprise opening the box and seeing the really cute back detail. The black fabric is that filmy flowy stuff that sits so nicely. I like the length and the neckline and I adore the back view. I’m a little concerned that this will stretch out on a hanger so I’m determined to keep it folded in a drawer instead — I just hope I remember to wear it!! Verdict: KEEP!

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Ladera Open Cardigan by Evolution by Cyrus ($68). Okay, so if I was a little disappointed about the Kalan, you can imagine I was stunningly disappointed to see this beige-colored thing headed my way. There are only ever 2 – 3 colors I have marked as Please Don’t Send on my profile, and beige is one of them! But, I try to keep an open mind with everything Stephanie sends (she is on-base WAY more often than she is off) and I figured, well, I can pair it with something more brightly colored once my tans fades so it doesn’t wash me out completely. Because it’s practically the same color as me. I also secretly hoped it would be a different color than the one in the app-preview because ooh, look, pockets. That never happens to me though, so I was prepared for it when I opened the box.

What I was not prepared for was OHMYGODSOCOMFY. It’s a boyfriend style, so it’s long (and I loooooooove that, though it probably makes me look shorter), and it’s thick enough to be warm but thin enough to drape well. This is the one I brought to rehearsal for second opinions on the color and whether or not I should size down. We all agreed that even though the arms are really long, it’s the perfect kind of sweater for lounging around in and I don’t even really have one of those. Except, now I do! Yay! Verdict: KEEP.

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Rocco Jersey Fauz Wrap Dress by 41Hawthorn ($78). Have I ever mentioned how lucky I am to have a stylist who is as attentive to requests as the Stitch Fix inventory allows? I know from reading on the B/S/T/Discussion board that not everyone is so blessed. I don’t like to do a LOT of requests because I feel like a) it’s not really the point of the service, and b) if I really need something specific I should go out and try to find it directly. But 41 Fixes in, sometimes you just see something lovely and you have to try it. Or, try to try it, as it were. I requested this piece, in black (it also comes in navy but I very much wanted black), last month after seeing it in a flood of Fixes on the board and falling head over heels in love with it. And it did not disappoint. Like pencil skirts, wrap dresses are flattering to so many figures, and also quite forgiving for weight-fluctuators like me. I have already planned to wear this to the opening night party of my next show — the hard part is holding off wearing until then. Verdict: KEEP!

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For those keeping track, yes! A five-for-five Grand Slam for Fix #41! This was already one of my least expensive Fixes of late, and now it’s about hundred dollars cheaper on top of that. The only consideration left is what to remove from my closet in order to keep it from exploding. I stripedshirtdon’t have to worry about the pencil skirt or the blue top, as i don’t have anything like those pieces in those colors. So those are unique adds. However, I would probably choose the pencil skirt of the red a-line 41Hawthorn skirt I got last year (see above). And I have a deep purple sleeveless top from LOFT that maybe doesn’t get as much play in the rotation as others and the blue could replace that. I do want to purge at least one of the striped tops I a2014-08-08 14.45.14lready have, though, and that will be a difficult choice. You can see them in the photos to the left.

kadencedressIn exchange for the Rocco dress, I might be ready to part with this lovely navy Gilli dress I also got last year. I’ve not worn it as much as I thought I would, and yet I’ve worn to all of my major recurring “events” — I’ve worn it in two staged readings, to one opening, and to another event for the theatre that I go to at least three times a year, so it’s a bit played out. It’s also just barely too formal for work. It’s done it’s job, and I bet I can find it a nice new home.

2016-08-08 17.46.36(Skip this paragraph if you read here often, it’s the same as it always is!) If you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, here’s the deal: Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service. You can subscribe for regular Fixes or just schedule them as you like. You fill out an extensive online profile of your tastes, sizes, and budget preferences and for a $20 fee, one of their stylist puts together a box of 5 clothing and accessory items to ship right to your door! You have 3 days to try things on, solicit opinions, balance your budget, whatever — you send back anything that doesn’t work for you in a prepaid envelope, and keep whatever you love! Your $20 styling fee is applied to anything you decide to keep, and if you buy the whole box of items you get 25% off the entire box! Prices vary but they say the average cost per item is $55 – 65. If you haven’t ever tried it and are interested, please consider using my referral link. If you use my link to schedule a Fix, I get a $25 credit towards my next purchase! (Note that I do not receive any compensation for reviewing this service; I just enjoy doing it).

That’s it for Fix #41 (and Grand Slam #4). I’ll be back with an update on the Whole30 and a final call whether or not to reset soon. Until then, enjoy!

Whole30 Update: Day 22 of 30…or is it?

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So, I screwed up.

For the past 22 days, my go-to snack at the office has been, not unsurprisingly, nuts. I keep almonds, walnuts, and cashews at my desk and most afternoons I indulge in some combination of all three. I’ve mentioned this before.

Turns out, sometimes people who package these things list both the Ingredients of what’s inside as well as what the can Contains.

The cashews I’ve been eating have been roasted in peanut oil and salted. And peanut oil is a no-no on the Whole30. I didn’t notice until today because the first thing I saw on the label was “Contains: Cashews.” And then I sort of went, “Okay, good enough!”

No, it didn’t occur to me to wonder why “Salt” wasn’t listed — probably just wishful denial on my part.

Technically, the Program encourages you to start over at this point.

The obsessive-compulsive completist in me says I need start over.

The adult with a full-time job who is three weeks into rehearsals for a demanding role thinks I ain’t got time for that nonsense.

Right at this moment I don’t know who to listen to. And I need to discuss it in depth with my husband, who is, frankly, my personal chef right now. Not that he would have to start over if I started over, but I wouldn’t need his assistance any less if I decided to start over again tomorrow. We’ve discussed a couple of times how much we like eating this way, so I am not anticipating catastrophe if I reset. But with our company retreat weekend approaching as well as tech weekend of our show falling within the new 30 days, it won’t be quite as easy to manage as it’s been during the last stretch.

I’ll update when I know what I am going to do…but I think I am going to reset. Wish me luck.

 

Whole30 update: Day 15 of 30.

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We’re halfway through! Things are going well, and we are very busy. In addition to successfully completing two compliant weeks on the Whole30, we have a week of rehearsals under our belt for our next production opening in September. We have discussed a few times that staying mostly on-plan after the thirty days seems like a no-brainer, although I have trepidation about how easy it will be as a post-plan way of life. I still feel emotional temptation towards bread and sugar, even when not hungry, and right now my best defense against those cravings is telling myself, “Hey, it’s only thirty days. You’ve come too far to blow it now.” Without that, I worry about my willpower. I have not put effort into developing better coping mechanisms around cravings, I’ve just satisfied them with compliant foods. So I have to wonder how much is really changing.

In the spirit of consistency, let’s return to the Whole30 timeline and see how things compare.

Day 8-9. For the love of Gosling, my pants are TIGHTER.

I mercifully seem to have skipped this bit, though I did feel some frustration for a few days late last week — despite really spectacular expectation management on the part of the creators of the Whole30 — that they didn’t feel any looser. I now know that this phase is normal as my body adjusts to the lack of easy-access sugars and accounts for any digestive issues I have experienced through the second week.

Day 10-11. The hardest days.

These are real, friends. I can’t remember if it was on Day 10 or 11, but on one of those days I found myself walking through the office, approaching the lunch room, and I thought, if there was a big basket of bread in there, I would eat it all. I would not hesitate, i would not think twice. All I can say is that I am glad there wasn’t. These are the days when most people abandon the plan. But as I read the website’s description of why, “You’re cranky, you’re impatient, and you’re really, really tempted to just eat the stupid cheese”, I don’t really identify with that. Instead I observed the challenge of facing my own issues with compulsive eating, and not walking away with a satisfying “I learned something today” feeling. I need to keep paying attention to this.

The other part of the site’s notes on these days is about “redefining your idea of a reward.” I wish I used food as a reward, but my desire for bread and butter and starchy salty things is less about reward than it is about comfort. The site asks you to remind yourself that food cannot fill voids for you, “cannot make you feel truly accomplished, comforted, calm, happy, beautiful.” I agree with most of that. i don’t agree with comforted. I don’t think there’s anything non-human that comforts me better than food, that takes the edge off restlessness — especially when that restlessness seems to be caused by the desire for a particular food! So this is where I think I have some work to do. I see my therapist against in a couple of days for an update. We’ll spend some time on this for sure.

Days 12-15. Boundless energy! Now give me a damn Twinkie.

Per the site, “This is the part of the program where our minds try to drive us back to the comfort of the foods we used to know.”

This is where we are right now, I’m unsure. I don’t have boundless energy. Sometimes I don’t have enough energy to get through the workout I planned. I feel smaller? I feel confident in myself, and I am having vivid dreams but they aren’t about food. I think if the Whole30 was the only thing I was doing right now, I might be more in tune with this timeline. The rehearsals really throw things off. They are at once energizing and exhausting. I can’t wait for them to start, I don’t want them to be over, and I’m terrified I will never learn all my lines. Food? Who has time to worry about this? I sleep soundly and then wake up too early and my mind starts racing and I think, I should get up and look at my script. I should run that scene again. Did I write that blocking down correctly?

So yeah I don’t know that any of that has anything to do with the Whole30.

 

Based on the things coming up for the last couple of weeks in the timeline, my next update should be fantastic. 🙂 We’ll see. Some positives to note: I never feel randomly stuffy anymore. There is less snoring in our bedroom at night. My clothes fit better than they have in months. We have discovered some new and fabulous recipes. I still love avocado egg salad! Best of all, my mind is clearly. While physical tiredness is sometimes an acute issue, my mental acuity is sharp and ambitious. I think I like that better than anything else.

Until next time, enjoy, friends.

Whole30 update: Day 7 of 30

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Good morning! Happy Monday.

So we’re one week into the Whole30, and overall I’m pretty happy with how it’s going. The Good: I’ve not experienced strong cravings for eliminated foods, and for the most part, my meals are keeping me feeling full and satisfied until the next meal. I haven’t quite overcome the emotional/mental need to snack in the afternoons at the office, but I’ve had compliant foods ready and waiting in these cases and have not obsessed over it or considered it a “failure”. Also it turns out that it IS possible to prepare brussel sprouts so that they DON’T taste like dirt. The Not-as-Good: I missed one workout these week due to mild digestive issues, and I had a mild breakout on my chin in the middle of last week, but I know that both of these incidents are perfectly normal.

So how do I shape up vs. the expectation, via the Whole30 timeline? Let’s see.

Day 1: So what’s the big deal?

Yeah, that’s about right. Because I have the benefit of a partner who is managing the entire grocery and cooking processes I don’t have to do much on this plan except eat what’s given to me and pay attention. I can’t tell you how much easier this makes things for me. We are so busy right now, with concert readings and rehearsals and my full time job, I really don’t know how I’d be able to maintain compliance without him.

2016-07-18 08.15.45The program warns you not to be too deluded by the confidence of making good food choices on the first day brings you. I had an avocado egg salad the first day (and almost every day since) that made me feel like I could eat right for the Rest of My Life!! But I know from others’ experiences and from reading around that the danger zone will be later in the program, when the shine has worn off and just one ginger ale will start to sound amaaaaazing. It’s important to keep that in mind when you’re just starting out because there are a lot of people out there who will also tell you it’s super easy and you’ll never have cravings and everything in your life will be fixed from eating clean for thirty days. Thank those people, and then come back to earth, okay?

Days 2 – 3: The hangover.

They say that the “amount of suck you experience in this phase is directly proportional to the amount of crap you consumed before you began the program.” Luckily, because we had just returned from an all-inclusive resort vacation, we spent the week before we started the program eating like relatively health-conscious people. So this phase what not so bad for me. I already drank my tea without additives and the only non-compliant foods I had the day before we started were two cans of ginger ale, a handful of pretzels, and a Lean Cuisine pizza (and really who knows if that is even considered food). So my hangover wasn’t that bad.

This was, however, the time frame in which I saw my therapist, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to advise me to scrap this program and focus on self-acceptance instead (not that that has ever been how therapy works, but you know: anxiety and stuff). However, she listened, asked good questions, and in the end, she said that it seemed like this was more of an information-gathering exercise  than a “This Is Going To Fix My Life” effort and that as long as I was paying attention, she was curious to see how it went. I sent her a link to the program (which is free, by the way, in case I haven’t mentioned that) afterward so she could get a better idea of what it was all about. (www.whole30.com)

Days 4 – 5: Kill all the things.

I think I went through this phase, but not at all to the degree in which they warn you of, and much earlier than days 4 and 5, so I am uncertain if it was related to the program. They admit that no one knows why this phase happens, but apparently it’s consistently reported enough to put it in the timeline.

I had a mini-meltdown at a rehearsal on Tuesday night, which was only Day 2. My partner at the office has been on vacation and was out all last week. Monday was a super-busy day, including a 3:45 request for a custom book by the end of day (don’t worry, I maintained a boundary with that and kindly asked the offender to adjust their expectations) and I was all on my own. That late request made it impossible for me to be on time for our 6:30 rehearsal, which would have been a terrific challenge for me to get to under the best of circumstances. By the time I got there I’d already missed my only scene in the act, but I wasn’t dismissed until 8:40. It wasn’t a total waste of time — another actor and I went into a different space and ran the scene ourselves for about forty minutes — but it wasn’t the best way to end a super stressful day. Then on Tuesday, the plan was to get home after work, workout for half an hour, have a nice compliant dinner, and then go to our 7:30 call for that night’s rehearsal. But, my bus broke down in the incredible heat and I stupidly took the longest possible route to the nearest train stop, where, checking my email I learned that our call had been changed to 6:30, only we were just hearing about it for the first time. Of course it came with a caveat of “if you can’t make it at 6:30 we totally understand!” but I was hot, tired, it was getting too late to work out and eat and everything else, and I just started to feel like I was going to cry. Instead, I rescheduled my workout for Wednesday night, got home, had dinner, and got to theatre as soon as possible.

At the end of the night, we were told that we would be picking up where we left off (which would be the at same scene I had missed on Monday night) promptly at 6:30 the next day — and then a lot of other stuff was said that I didn’t hear because I just lost it. I immediately started pleading with the stage manager NOT to be called at 6:30 anymore because I had to leave work early to get there on time and my partner was out this week and blah blah blah. She seemed (understandably) annoyed with me and asked me to just wait until the director was done talking. At which point we discussed it again, with FAR less anguish, and we went home. About half an hour later we got the final schedule by email, and I wasn’t called until 7:30. At which point the tension pretty much washed away.

So that was it, my big Kill All The Things evening, two days earlier than planned. I couldn’t tell you how much of that was just life circumstance in the moment and how much was the Whole30, but I lean toward life. At any rate, I’ve felt much more calm and patient in the days since.

I also experienced the mild digestive issues and face breakout during this phase, which is said to be expected during the first two weeks.

Days 6 – 7: I just want a nap.

I don’t know — there’s a part of me that always wants a nap? We both feel like we’re sleeping heavier since we started, but I imagine this is stronger for my husband, who is a regular Diet Coke drinker, and I don’t usually have any caffeine after 10 am on any given day. I had one night of not being able to fall asleep right away, but for the most part I am waking up less, and able to fall back to sleep easier when I do. Oh and yesterday I did take an unplanned nap around 7:30 in the morning, which threw off my schedule a bit but was probably for the best since yesterday was packed with stuff and our dining schedule was off by an hour or so.

So that’s where I am at right now! The program still seems imminently do-able even though we’re heading into full-time rehearsals for our next show. And here’s a sneak peek of what we have to look forward to, per the Whole30 timeline:

Days 8 – 9: For the love of Gosling, my pants are TIGHTER. (I pulled these titles from the site; I cannot take credit for the Gosling reference). I kind of think I am ahead of the timeline, for whatever reason. Either that or wildly behind? My clothes were definitely feeling tighter last week, and then yesterday, they didn’t. Today they don’t. Today I’m starting to feel more like me (whatever that means). Have I actually lost weight or inches? I have no idea. You’re not to weigh or measure yourself at all on the program. Not that I would have anything to compare it to, since I don’t regularly weigh or measure myself anyway.

Days 10 – 11: The hardest day. These are the days when most people quit. I can understand it. I’ve had fantasies creeping in about ice cream, and I seriously miss the honey in my tea. We went to the movies yesterday (see Ghostbusters, it is super-fun and for female role models you simply cannot do better) and had to basically run past the popcorn/soda line. They warn you that these are the days when “you really start to experience the psychological hold that your food habits have on you”. So. Both looking forward to that…and not looking forward to it. Trying to keep in mind that my job is to stay compliant and pay attention, that whatever I FEEL about maintaining compliance, I don’t have to DO anything to fix it. Wish me strength!