the things that matter take time

We're redoing the living room in my house. I'll write more about that project at some point in the future, because if you're like me, you love to see the before and afters. But there's also something that's harder to love, and that's the big, huge middle in between. 

So while I'm in the middle, I'll share what I posted on Instagram yesterday: 

"I finally finished painting the living room. It took three weekends to complete. That's the thing about this season of life... Everything takes much longer than I imagine it will. But, it's teaching me to get clear on my priorities, what I value. Painting the walls, writing a book, raising three children... It all takes time. When I think of it like that, I begin to appreciate the day-to-day steps that sometimes feel like a grind. Living a good life, with intention, is a process. A daily practice." (view on Instagram)

But a week or so earlier, when I was closer to the beginning of the painting project—when it was new and exciting and I wasn't yet in that long, long middle—I posted this: 

"The more I work to make my home feel like home, the happier I feel. So, up and down the ladder I go." (view on Instagram)

It's interesting how things that bring me true joy can feel like a drag sometimes. That's something that I never quite expect. But here are some ways I get out of the funk: (click to tweet)

-I reconnect with why I'm doing what I'm doing. 

-I acknowledge how much I've already done. After a long day, when I'm tired, it often feels like I got nothing accomplished (I feel like I'm in quicksand! I say, when I'm being dramatic). But when I pause to think about it, I'm surprised by all of the milestones and small wins I've neglected to celebrate. 

-I shift back to the present. Too much focus on the goal can get overwhelming. So, even though it may take me several weeks to paint one room, there are many things I enjoy about the process. I love the way the light shines in. I love opening my laptop and blasting Spotify. I love the sound of the kids running in and out, playing.

Are you in the midst of a long middle? What keeps you going? What helps you maintain perspective?

And, since this post was inspired by my revelations via Instagram, I'll leave you with one more: Cate doing her thing on the hoola hoop, made more fabulous with the Boomerang app.

I wonder if the key to happiness is simply allowing it?

This post was inspired by my musings on The Abby + Angie Project, an Instagram project dedicated to seeking and documenting the good amidst the daily grind. Follow us and join the fun by tagging your good moments #moregoodlessgrind.

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Spring is here and I have nothing to wear!

It happens to me every year, with every turn of the season. The temperature changes and suddenly, anxiety creeps in. I stop wanting to go places. I hide out in my workout clothes or wear the same couple of outfits over and over. 

It's time to retire my winter uniform of leggings and boots—which I'd wear every single day if I could and practically did.

Now, spring is here, and I have nothing to wear. 

It feels silly to write that, and, really that's not even true. It just feels that way because style is an area in which I do not excel. 

Thank goodness for my fashionista husband. He keeps me limping along, and if there’s something cute in my closet, he probably bought it or told me to buy it. He’s the one who told me to stop wearing skorts (remember those?) and that it was time to donate my suit jackets (back in the early days of my TV news career) because they were too big.

But I got a good deal at Dress Barn!!

Still too big, he insisted. Let them go.

My husband’s wardrobe is minimal, stylish, and complete. So what’s my problem? The fact that I feel a bit clueless about style is part of the issue, but here’s the other thing—I also feel a little bit guilty about shopping for clothes. Is this a mom thing? It’s expensive and time consuming.

So what I end up doing is running into Shoe Carnival on the morning we’re about to leave for spring break to get a pair of sneakers because I own not one single pair of comfortable walking shoes. (Yes, that just happened). Shawn told me to get white Converse All-Stars. Pinterest confirmed it, so that’s what I did. 

Sometimes, in a fit of frustration, I run to the mall late in the season and grab what I can. It’s all on sale, but mostly picked over. When I do shop, it feels hurried and draining. 

Recently, I decided to do something about it. I don't want to spend a bunch of time thinking about clothes. But I also want to shed this mental block that's taking up unnecessary space and energy in my life.  (I've noticed that with a lot of things I avoid. I pretend it's not there and don't deal with it, and it gets bigger.)

I keep hearing about capsule wardrobes and that sounds appealing to me. The bottom line is I want to be more intentional about building a minimal, but complete wardrobe. Simple, but put together. I want items that work with my body type, mix and match well, and fit my busy lifestyle. 

So I emailed my friend and personal stylist Megan Brandle and wrote something like, “Hey. Help!”

Megan Brandle. Isn't she lovely? Photo credit: Libby Williams

Megan Brandle. Isn't she lovely? Photo credit: Libby Williams

I asked her a bunch of questions, and I also downloaded her free style guide (which I’ll tell you more about in just a bit). Here's a snippet from our email exchange:

Angie: What should we be doing right now? Editing our closets? Or is it time to buy? When's the best time to buy? When's the worst time to buy?

Megan: Right now I am editing my clients wardrobes (or already edited) and then shopping. The best time to shop is now until mid May for Spring/Summer. And then late August to mid October is prime shopping time for Fall/Winter. We are pushing the Fall/Winter items to the back of the closet or storing in tubs or in drawers and bringing the Spring/Summer front and forward. This makes a HUGE difference when getting ready and packing for trips. 

Any tips for creating a minimal, but complete wardrobe? No fuss, but put together. 

The biggest tip for this is being ready to let go of a ton and make sure each item in your wardrobe is multi-use and fits your checklist 100%. (fit, color, style, practicality). I like to suggest anyone wanting to try a minimalistic approach to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. You have to be ready mentally first. Then you can start building your “capsules” and figuring out what works for you. There isn’t a certain number of clothes or number of capsules that works for everyone. It’s a process to learn the lifestyle and really figure out what works for you and your life. I am actually developing a year long package to help clients achieve a minimalistic wardrobe. Hoping to launch it soon! 

Why is it so hard to shop for ourselves?? Jeans, omg.

Seriously!! We are just too close to it and we can’t be objective. There are too many feelings about our likes/dislikes, body, things people have told us we look good in, things our husbands/moms hate for us to wear...It is way too much to sift through.

Plus most people don’t give themselves enough time to shop or time that is free from distraction or time that their brain power and spirit is up. It is hard, it is a process and it isn’t a talent that comes naturally to everyone. It’s not like we all take a class and learn the science behind dressing our body growing up. I wish everyone did though!! :) 

Also, there are so many options and the options keep multiplying daily. There is no way the average person can stay informed on all the brands and spend time trying them to see what works and what doesn’t. I get to experience many brands myself and through all my clients, friends and family and I still don’t know everything! We are set up for overwhelm!

***

So what next? Personally, I'm going to follow Megan's suggestion to start editing my closet, take an inventory of what I have and what I need for spring and summer, and separate those pieces from my fall/winter clothes so I have a better sense of what I'm working with. 

Would you like to join me? Start by downloading Megan's DIY Closet Edit Guide. It's free! I'm going to give it a try and post again with an update. To learn more about her style sessions click here.

What's your relationship with your wardrobe? Stylin' or strugglin'? (click to tweet)

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On Home & Happily ever after (Q&A)

Recently I told you that I’m writing a book that begins when I got married here in Charleston almost 16 years ago (which feels unreal). So when Borrowed & Blue, the online resource for planning Charleston weddings, asked if I’d join them for a Q&A about home and happily ever after, I gladly said yes.

First, a quick hello from Helen at Borrowed & Blue:

“I discovered Angie’s blog when I was looking to learn more about the awesome blogging scene in Charleston. Angie is a wonderful, accessible writer, and her blog is a great resource for all of us learning to navigate a world full of responsibilities and pressures that can sometimes take the focus off of what’s important: family! Borrowed & Blue readers will love Angie’s candid advice about how to get along in the world, as well as her savvy Charleston knowledge. It was so lovely to sit down with Angie and hear about her story, her favorite spots in Charleston, and what “home” means to her. Enjoy!” - Helen, Borrowed & Blue’s Charleston Market Specialist

Helen: Some of us are new to your blog; share six words that give us a sense of your personality.

Angie: Lighthearted, intuitive, open, honest, flawed, optimistic.

View on Instagram

View on Instagram

Your career path has changed a fair bit over the years! How did you become drawn to a life of writing, and what is your focus?

I connected with my writer self in a high school English class. We had to keep a journal, and I noticed how something inside me shifted in a positive way when I put what I was thinking and feeling on the page. In college, when I took a personal essay writing class, I had the same “coming alive” experience.

Professionally, I didn’t know what to do with that desire to tell stories. Television journalist seemed like a close enough fit. So I worked in that business for many years, until it didn’t fit anymore. When I left that career in my late 20s, I didn’t know personal blogging existed. When I finally discovered the blogging world in 2008, I was like where have you been all my life? Today, I write about redefining success and finding home. I believe home is a place, and it’s also a state of being.

I love how you talk about the word “home.” Tell us about why Charleston is home for you.

I grew up here, so much like writing, Charleston is a feeling. When I’m driving across one of the bridges and get a glimpse of the peninsula with the church steeples rising up, it feels like an exhale.

I can get that feeling other places, but then I think, “Something about this place reminds me of Charleston.”

What are some things that you do to create a sense of “home” for your family?

I’m obsessed with decluttering right now. And in my 20+ years as an adult, I’ve never quite figured out the decorating thing so I’m working on that—just trying to make our space inviting and bright. I want it to look like a place that matches our personality as a family. But the real answer is that our kids—and the chaos they bring—create the sense of home.

The way they always bring their toys down the stairs and play in the middle of the kitchen while I’m making dinner. The way they demand my attention which is frustrating but pulls me into the present moment. Because of them, we’ve established a Friday movie night. Every Friday night they insist on pizza, popcorn and movie, and I love them for creating that tradition.

What are some of your favorite places to eat in Charleston?

My husband and I recently had dinner at Zero George and it was amazing. We’ll definitely go back. There are so many good, newer places, especially on King Street, but our long-time favorite is Charleston Grill at Belmond Charleston Place. General manager Mickey Bakst greets you at the door and makes you feel like an invited guest. Some of my favorite casual spots are Poe’s on Sullivan’s Island, Vickery’s on Shem Creek, and near my home West of the Ashley, Triangle Char & Bar and Mex One.

Any favorite places to explore in Charleston that our out-of-towners might love to visit?

When we have friends in town, we always make sure they see the Battery and Waterfront park, and we also take them to The Rooftop at Vendue for drinks.

View from the Rooftop Bar at Vendue Inn

View from the Rooftop Bar at Vendue Inn

I think the best thing about Charleston is just being out in the middle of it with locals and tourists all mixed together, taking in the views, and smelling the salty marshy air.

I bet our friends who are getting married soon would love to hear the story of the marriage counseling you did with your husband that you mentioned in a recent post! Care to share?

The minister made us take personality tests, and when he saw the results, he laughed and said, “Good luck!” He told us that our personalities were designed to clash and that we had to be clear with each other about who does what. Who does the laundry? Who takes out the trash? Who pays the bills? The big thing we have, that I’m so grateful for, is the willingness to talk through conflict. Sometimes it takes me a while to get the calm, talking place but we’re both committed to finding the common ground so we can move forward.

As someone who visibly, but happily, works to maintain balance in her life (especially with three little ones!), do you have any tips you’d like to pass on to others, particularly for newly engaged or married readers?

As you grow and evolve, sometimes your vision for your life changes too. So it’s important to keep those lines of communications open so you can navigate each new stage and season together. And balance? It’s a daily process of letting go and holding on. Deciding, “This is not important.” Or, “This is important.”

What five objects are always in your bag?

View on Instagram

View on Instagram

Because I write a lot in coffee shops, I carry an original Alesya Bag and inside you’ll always find my Macbook Air, this lip gloss, this felt tip pen, this planner (which I use a blog planner), and the key card to my daughter’s preschool.

Describe something that sets Charleston apart from other places you’ve lived.

The energy. And I think that energy comes from the people. The people who live here now, and those who came before us.

Thank you to Kristi Meeuwse and Jody Mack Photography for providing some the beautiful photos in this post. 

And a special thank you to Helen for this thoughtful and fun Q&A. Make sure you check out Borrowed & Blue, the online guide to finding Charleston wedding venues—the “home” of your wedding!

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