Framed for Success: Choosing Glasses That Are Aligned with My Values

 

You remember those teen movies where some chick got a makeover because she realized guys would only be interested in her if she were "pretty" and "cool" and didn't wear glasses? Well, when it came to picking out new specs, my goal was to look like the "before" version of all of them; before they dyed their hair, exchanged their backpack for a purse, bared their midriff and swapped their glasses out for contacts. In fact, that's what I told the sales guy at the glasses store. Well, to be precise, I said, "Hi. I'm looking for 70's/80's Ugly Chic. I wanna look like someone's before picture." He understood. This is LA.

Because I value creativity, playfulness and humor, I wanted to choose glasses that made me look like I'm kinda-sorta kidding; I wanted frames that helped me to see the world around me, but didn't make me look too hard at it. I wanted to invest in eye wear that encouraged the "lightness" in me and reminded me to be playful, both in thought and action, since levity and horseplay aren't what I naturally resort to when the contents of my mind are littered with insecurity, stress or doubt.

So, here are the glasses I chose; they make me so happy and so giggly and if you've read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, AND/OR my blog posts about it, these glasses spark so much joy, I feel like my soul's on fire when I wear them. Get it? Spark? Ha.

Oh, yea, forgot to mention I also got bangs and they are a mess and kind of unmanageable and I love them. 

As I dive deeper, kinda, into who I am as a Creative Entrepreneur, writer, counselor, teacher, whatever, I realize that having fun is the most important part. Having grown up as an only child, where I had the freedom of binge-watching Lifetime Movies, it's easy and natural for me to look at my life with a serious set of eyes, which is useful, for sure. However, it's time to give fun to where fun is due. And right now...it's due on my face.

What has sparked joy for YOU lately? How are you having fun?

 

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

*Photos & hair by, Alexia Bernal

Creating a Values-Based Home

As a child, your bedroom is your own personal "home". And thanks to my being an only child and my parents' divorce, I was a homeowner, 2 times over. From Titanic posters in the 5th grade, to Wizard of Oz memorabilia in 8th grade, to passed notes in class, cards, letters and 4x6 pictures of me and my friends covering EVERY square inch of EVERY wall in the 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th grade, I always loved my bedrooms to reflect how I felt and who I was at any point in time. I can remember the *exact* moment I decided to move my twin-size bed (at both houses) to come out of the center of the wall, leaving both sides open to get in and out of bed, just like the grownups.

Now that I've lived in my own home for the last eight years, since my Dad passed away and I sold our house, it's been so important to make my space one that I feel proud and comforted to come home and invite people into.

Last week I turned twenty-nine and I decided that for my birthday, I'd create a values-based home office, as I am now self-employed and work from home 85% of the time. I just needed a designated, carefully-edited area to write, create and run my business, based on what I value most: Creativity, Leadership, and Tidiness. So, I made my BFF, Hailey, drive to my house, an hour away from hers, on a freakishly rainy day last week and help me create the home office I had been dreaming of. The only thing I forgot about Hailey, and all design gurus, is they can't just stop at one area of one room. I should have known the seemingly simple task of buying a new desk, new chair and maybe some wall art would turn into a two-day project that would require two Epsom salt baths and a Xanax. (And by 'Xanax', I mean, like, eight different essential oils to knock me out.)

Here's what we did...

We started at Home Goods and found the desk and the chair and the lamp right away.

This chair is great because it works just like any other chair. So, I bought it.

The cash register was in my line of site. We were so close. And then...Hailey saw a coffee table. "You need a coffee table, Erica", she said. So, I bought that, too. 

The thing is, I thought we were done. I thought the desk, the chair, the lamp, the coffee table would be wonderful additions to my already wonderful home. After unloading the heavy sh*t from my car and hauling it up my stairs, then re-loading my old (apparently "very ugly") furniture into my car to take to Goodwill, that's when Hailey looked around my living room asked, "So...how far do you wanna take this?"

Next, we went to IKEA...

This is what happens to me when it's getting late (6:45pm) and I'm no longer useful. Remind me never to become a personal shopper, k?

We bought the rug and a new stand for my T.V....

Clear instructions for life

...that took us until 3:30am to build.

We woke up early the next morning and loaded more of my "very ugly" furniture into my car and organized my new furniture. We made a few more trips to Home Goods, World Market, and Home Depot.

And eventually, my home started to take shape...

Photo by, Alexia Bernal

Photo by, Alexia Bernal

Photo by, Alexia Bernal

The truth is, our home reflects where we are in life and how we feel about our self. I notice how I feel about my home, impacts my relationship with food, my body, my life and the people in it. It's been an easier road these past few months, since identifying my values and making decisions based on them. My carefully-edited home now supports and reflects the leader I want to be, the creative being that I am and the discipline of being tidy, which I work on everyday.

Before...

After


Photo by, Alexia Bernal

Photo by, Alexia Bernal

If you need me, I'll be in my living room...just looking around...

Values vs. Resolutions: A "New" New Years Tradition

 Up until 3 years ago, and since age eleven, my New Years resolutions had always been the same: lose weight, change my personality (no, seriously) be an actress, --and my personal favorite--get a boyfriend. It's okay. You can laugh. I am.

I didn't realize it right away, but as I addressed, worked through and eventually healed my dysfunctional, abusive and totally irritating relationship with food and my body 3 years ago, I stopped making New Years resolutions. I felt that if I didn't have a goal or make a promise to lose weight, "get" a boyfriend or change who I am entirely, then what was the point? My whole life had been strictly governed by food for so long that when it wasn't, when I'd now be eating the exact same way and the exact same foods on January 1st, as I did on December 31st, I didn't see a point in resolving or promising to do anything. So, I put the whole concept of resolutions on a high shelf that I couldn't reach (because I'm only 5ft) and just let January 1st be synonymous with any other day.

But that didn't feel right, either...

I've done a lot of work on myself in 2015, folks. And most of that work has been finding the balance and the line between what is self-improvement and self-indulgence. Turns out, it's a fine line...even for a "Wellness Professional." But the other work I've done this year is explore the importance of making decisions based only on my values, as opposed to making decisions based on goals. This has been an enormous game-changer, both personally and professionally and has made SO much sense out of my trip to India, earlier this year. #Finally.

So, rather than come up with resolutions for the future, I'd like to do the ultimate "yoga thing" and honor what I already know, what I've already learned, what I already do...and just. stay. present. So...here are eight values I'm taking with me into 2016...

creativity:

This year, creativity has taken a lot of forms for me, mostly in the realm of creative writing (like here and here) and, well, coloring my skin. With ink. Permanently. A.k.a my first tattoos.

I've also seen how much creativity and out-the-box thinking goes into the conversations we have, the ways we move our body and the ways in which we address conflict. Things like Assertiveness, loyalty, honesty and vulnerability take an awful lot of creativity in relationships. So, I'll just go ahead and take all the colorful, creative pieces that make up my relationship to myself and the world around me, into this next year.

Elementary school we visited in Rajasthan, India

Elementary school we visited in Rajasthan, India

humility

Whatever. I'm calling my entire trip to India this year one GIANT lesson in humility. I went to that country with the expectation of being given all the magical answers to my life and my future and I'm proud to say India gave me none of those things. Thank God. This year, I learned the most about Humility here, here, here, and here.

 

humor

While I've always loved to laugh, finding the humor in things isn't always easy for me...especially when it comes to matters of the heart and things that really bother me...like the sound of people chewing.

I've actually laughed quite a bit, this year. Sometimes inappropriately. But I found my High School Reunion particularly hilarious, and you can read it here, and here.

 

commitment

Commitment has been huge for me, since recognizing it as a core value of mine. When my Dad passed away, almost nine years ago, I lost a lot of my sense for honoring my word and following through with plans, in a very general sense. This year I made a conscious effort to not only honor the commitments I made, but NOT commit to things, if I wasn't entirely sure I could show up.

I wrote a bit about that here.

 

curiosity

This year, curiosity has yielded several books, including and especially, Big Magic by, Elizabeth Gilbert. Thanks to that book, curiosity has taken on a whole new meaning for me. If you haven't read it yet, I HIGHLY suggest you do so.

Being no stranger to therapy itself, but curious about having a different experience in it, I hired my first male therapist this year, which I wrote about here. I've learned a lot about myself, particularly myself with men. I'm not usually into "self-help" books, but at the request of my shrink, I read this book,  and it changed my entire life. Seriously. (Ps, it's a TERRIBLE title, for what its actually about...but, whether you're in a relationship, out of one, or want to be in one (like me), don't let the title turn you away. Just read it. You're welcome.

 

sharing

Wow. Sharing. Yea, so, I'm an only child and it's become remarkably clear in my adult life just how difficult it is (deep down) for me to share stuff. In fact, I should probably blog about how being in the Essential Oil business has taught me/ REQUIRED me to share my things. Remind me to do that.

This year, I really took a step back and funneled my blog and my business in a clearer direction. It's been quite a journey reevaluating what I actually share on here, and WHY. WHO am I writing for? WHAT do I actually want them to know? I've shared some pretty personal and vulnerable stuff, and now it's clear there is a difference between a blog and a journal. Let's just say, I'm happy to be a blogger, and I'm so pleasantly surprised at all the feedback over this last year about how some of my posts really resonated with you. 

 

tidiness

This year, at the direction of my BFF, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you haven't read it, I recommend you do...but PLEASE...DO NOT empty out your entire house without actually reading the book. K? Thanks!

Here was my experience with getting rid of half my house, pretty much, and why I now only have things in my possession that "Spark Joy". Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.

And lastly...

 

leadership

Oh Boy! What can I even say about my lessons in leadership without bawling my eyes out?! Honestly, without consciously holding leadership in high value, my other values suffer. From transitioning to working from home and being self-employed, to owning my responsibility in my relationships, educating people how to use essential oils, staying curious about my relationship with men, keeping my home tidy, and teaching Yoga...I've seen just how vital leadership is, not just for me, but for everyone I'm in relationship with. Essentially, I wrote about my experience with leadership in a Multi-Level-Marketing company here. But I'm curious...where are YOU already a leader in your life?

Perhaps this post will come across a bit self-indulgent, as I'm only referring to myself and my values...but my point is this: If we replace resolutions with values, we may find so much more power in realizing everything we are and everything we want to be is already here. Resolutions often last several weeks, but values last a lifetime. I mean...what do YOU think? What are YOUR values?

*Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for hanging out with me here, this year. I am so inspired by your readership, your feedback and your friendship. This blog is one of my best friends and I am so thankful I can share it so freely with you. I truly, truly value YOU.

Here's to a great year ahead! Happy New Year!




Getting Dressed With Erica: A Stitch-Fix Story

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Once upon a time, in a dressing room (next door to yours, probably) a young woman, named Erica, sit naked, sobbing on the floor. No matter how hard she tried, she could never find clothes that complemented her waist, hugged her strong legs the right way or flattered her loving arms. Ever. WHY is this so easy for everyone else?! WHY do jeans look great on EVERYONE in the entire world, except me?! she cried. In her closet, she had lots of clothes, in all kinds of sizes and styles, based on what her body looked like any given month or year. Previous years of chronic dieting and binge eating had caused her body (and the way she felt in it) to fluctuate.

Though her relationship with food had drastically improved, her body image often held her back from getting dressed. Yoga pants, leggings and over-sized shirts were go-to and kept her sane and safe.

One day, Erica's BFF told her to read a book called, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. So she did. And basically the book told her to get rid of anything that didn't "spark joy". So, she did that, too. She dismantled her kitchen, and tore through her photo albums and old greeting cards.  She parted ways with books that no longer socially or intellectually served her. And then, she addressed her wardrobe...

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Erica got rid of most everything and she was left with just a few pieces that did indeed spark joy. But that was only the first step. Not only was she to part ways with the clothes that no longer served her in the present, she needed a new method, a new attitude and a clear intention for the future of her closet.

To keep it simple for herself, Erica set a very practical and easy intention:

"to cultivate joy, femininity and comfort in a carefully edited and stylish wardrobe"

One day, as she was scrolling through her social media, (which was kind of all-day occurrence), Erica stumbled upon a company named Stitch-Fix: Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door. 

For reals? Erica thought. Sweet. She filled out the profile on the website, punched in her credit card number, which she had memorized, and scheduled her first clothing "fix" for the following week. She even dropped a little note to her stylist:

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She tried each item on in the comfort of her own home, armed with all the tools needed to try on clothes in a sane and joyful way: Natural light, a full-length mirror, and LOTS of room to frolic in the frocks and dance in the denim. She kept what worked for her and sent the rest back.

She scheduled her next fix for the following month:

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So far, Erica not only enjoys Stitch-Fix, but is now able to see the value in wearing clothes that tell the story of how she feels about herself, any given day. Her body image slowly but surely improves each time she goes to her closet, knowing that EVERY item in there, fits the body she has today. She's still the young naked women in the dressing room, only her dressing room is her own home and she isn't sobbing anymore. But she's still naked a lot of the time..which is fine, also.

The End.


some logistics:

if Stitch-Fix is something that might bring peace to your shopping process, here are 7 things that I have found helpful in my experience so far...
1) If you're hippy-dippy-kinda like me, maybe set a simple intention for what you value/want in your wardrobe. nothing fancy or out there, just think about what you want your closet to represent to you.
2) It often takes a few shipments for you and your stylist to find a rhythm. So, give it a few tries!
3) create a style board on  Pinterest, to help your stylist get an idea of who you are! be sure to pin the styles/colors/fabrics/patterns/"mood" of your desired wardrobe. pin all kinds of things from all kinds of places! also, be sure to name it something pleasant :) Here's mine.
4) only keep things from your shipment that spark joy, make you feel & look amazing, and are in line with what you value in a wardrobe.
5) do not feel discouraged, apologetic or guilty for returning anything (or everything) your stylist has picked for you. this is their job. you will gain nothing buy purchasing something just because you don't want to be a 'difficult' shopper.
6) remember: this is not the be all and end all of shopping for clothes. this is just one option of so many!
7) have fun! Go on! get dressed! go out! mmmmbyyyeeee

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Life-Changing Magic: Part Three

photo 1-12 Clothes. I got rid of my clothes. Not all of them, but most of them. The truth is, most of the clothes in my closet didn't fit. They were just scraps of fabric, hanging out, waiting for me to be thin again, mocking me for having outgrown them in the waist, shoulders, hips, thighs, nipples, eyeballs, everywhere.

I started in an ordinary manner; I emptied my closet, my drawers and under-the-bed "storage", dumped everything in my living room, became overwhelmed and anxious, rubbed a Grounding Blend on the bottoms of my feet and stared at the piles for about ten minutes, waiting for them to organize and purge themselves. Of course, I could have done one drawer, one section at a time, but I've never been interested in doing things the easy way.

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I had to keep reminding myself; Joy, Erica. It has to spark Joy in order for you to keep it, k? One great suggestion I got from my Magic Sponsor was to look at my clothes and ask myself if I would buy this item again. Were I to see this shirt/jacket/tube top/sequined beret in the store TODAY, would I buy it? And most importantly, DOES IT EVEN FIT? I promise you, I am the queen of keeping clothes for the benefit of my "future body" and especially my "past body". I don't talk a lot about my experience with chronic dieting, or binge eating, or weight gain, or weight loss, or body image, though, I probably should and also I want to, but just take my word for it; getting rid of the clothes once compatible with my body, that now even my arms wouldn't slide into, was mildly devastating.

I studied most of the items as though it were someone I used to know; holding the garment out in front of me, squeezing the material down its length, cocking my head to the side and squinting my eyes, vaguely remembering what it felt like to wear it and mostly remembering constantly being terrified for the day it would no longer fit. And that day came a long time ago. I've gained enough weight and my body had changed shape drastically enough to warrant more than half my closet to not fit me. But the only reason those clothes ever fit me was because I ate nothing but straw, hay, kale and cow diarrhea green drinks. Plus, I exercised like German Nazis were constantly chasing me. (Too soon?) But seriously.

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So, out they went! TEN bags full of clothes that didn't spark joy, I wouldn't buy today and that reminded me of the years I was terrified of gaining weight. Mmmmmbyeeeee!

I'm *technically* still not done with this category, though. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up gives specific instructions for how to reorganize after de-cluttering. The author has a folding/organizing method that I refuse to use, simply because, in addition to every other article of clothing, she wants you to fold your underwear and I am NOT that kinda gal; I don't have the patience, I don't have the upkeep and I don't have the underwear. (Remember?) But for those of you who LOVE folding your underwear and dividing your t-shirts into thirds and arranging your clothes in the closet from lightweight to heavy...the link is above. Knock yourself out! Make this YOUR magical experience.

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So, what now...?

It's hard for me to get dressed, and has been since I was twelve. When I do actually get dressed, I seldom stay dressed. Being self-employed, I have the option of changing my clothes if my mood, body image or the climate changes. But I'm not so sure that helps me feel like a mature, confident woman. For years, I've worked in an industry that regards stretchy, forgiving spandex as put-together outfits and I think it's time I thank my Yoga pants for their service of safety and forgiveness, and try my hand at getting dressed, in "real" clothes.

So how do I start getting dressed, staying dressed and liking it?

Step One: I did the "Yoga Thing"; I set an intention, based on what I value most when it comes to my personal style and clothing. Here are some things that came to mind...joy, confidence, satiety, comfort, stylish, appreciation, worthiness, deliberate, choosy/picky, quality. From there, I pieced together my over all intention for getting dressed; To cultivate joy, confidence, comfort and spiritual satiety in a carefully edited, deliberate and stylish wardrobe. 

Step Two: I made a Pinterest Board filled with clothing and looks that inspire me and that I can see myself wearing on the daily...the ENTIRE day...unless I'm legitimately going to Yoga, in which case, the spandex is okay.

Step Three: I enrolled in Stitch Fix: Clothing and accessories hand-selected by a personal stylist, delivered to your door. Right?! Apparently, there are people in the world who literally want to make my getting dressed their problem. Fine! I won't stop ya! I even dropped a note to my stylist...

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Thanks for sticking with me for this series. Next up: "What's hiding under my couch?" AND "Let's not keep old alarm clocks and other non-kitchen items in the kitchen cupboards, k?"

Ok! Namaste! Byyyyeee!

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Oh, and PS: I totally got dressed yesterday ;-)

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