28 August 2012


oh my, if we all only looked so good and maintained our full spirits well into our eighties! nina mae is my hero, she just happens to be my maternal grandmother, too. lucky me.

wow! i'd say sorry it's been so long, but that'd be boring. instead, let's pretend like we've been playing hide+seek and my hiding place was SO good that i had to come out of hiding... sounds like fun right?

summer 2012 is one that might be written into the history books. it's been one long love letter; a second honeymoon; a shining spot in light of a pretty tough first half of the year. it's been a big blast of fun! starting off with a mini vacation with family when my youngest brother graduating from high school, an outstanding trip to california with my sweet paul, one absolutely amazing long weekend in charleston that made me wish i was french, and the most amazing arrival of my first nephew. told ya, it's been a good one.

in-flight creativity
the highlight of my summer has been my creative spots: i've gone from a stray cat to a jaguar, folks! when i set out to define my 2012 goals, 'something creative every week' was at the top of the list. creativity is the engine from which all else flows in my heart of hearts. so this has been a huge success both personally & professionally. it allows expansion of our hearts and lives when we align our entire existence to our strengths. powerful things happen. (no need for the sidenote: careful what you wish for. wish away, just be ready for big things!)

so just for fun, here are a few summer snapshots for your viewing pleasure:
said goodbye to this kitchen.
wheel of life. priorities.
got the vintage schwinn spiffed up a bit!
welcomed this badboy into our new kitchen! ciao! 

favorite journal & suitcase.

ate one of the best meals of my life in san francisco.

best. succulent. garden. ever!

opened up. all the way.
and that's just days one & two of san fran.
until soon...

01 July 2012

work wear

since it's sunday and i have a few work projects to wrap up, i figured a few more hours of procrastinating wouldn't hurt if I was busy brainstorming work wardrobe ideas. it's important to me that i dress like a modern professional, despite a relatively thin pocketbook and a small closet. 

many of my fashion ideas come from inspiring sites like what i wore, where jessica quirk pushes the fashion limits in just the right direction. she takes nice pieces and transitions them between work & play. that'a girl, jessica!

oh joy is another blogger who offers up professional uniform ideas with a twist, as well as a beautiful life in general that capture the essence of art & beauty combined. for insurance, she'll pair a striped dress and a colorful blazer for a business meeting, to which i say, 'that's my kind of meeting!' and i'll have another, tyvm.

other times, i search magazines for ideas or take artistic inspirations from inspiring sources and turn them into outfit ideas. blazers, pants, skirts, and dresses are all fairly easy to find. shirts that require low or no maintenance are my preference (hello, dry cleaning bill!), accessories relay a healthy dose of creativity, and after diffusing my curls, throwing on a quick sweep of my laura mercier cosmetics, & spritz of perfume (just a spritz!)...i'm out the door. the most challenging wardrobe piece for me is shoes. enter: size 11 feet.

when an outfit has the look and feel of something i love, i trust that instinct. however, whenever i cultivate colorful combinations, i check them against ashley hepburn's three rules for the professional's work wardrobe:

  1. current
  2. clean
  3. comfortable

no use killing my feet during a 30 minute presentation in front of physical plant staff, or busting the seams on a pencil skirt whilst i update the webpage. oh no, please, i think it is ESSENTIAL that what one wears both makes them feel good and looks good to the colleague across the table. as well, saying goodbye to post-college interview pieces and hello to a few upgraded essentials reminds me that i'm 'dressing for the job i want.' you know that old saying, don't you? i'd far rather shell out a few dollars to get my button-ups laundered and freshly pressed...ironing was never something i enjoyed. and my closet is ready to go each week... full of inspiring and colorful pieces that communicate the 'me' i know and love.

here are a few outfit i've rocked recently to get you thinking. just in case you're wondering why i take photos of myself before i leave in the morning (or in the bathroom stall at work)'s this: i send my mom & sister photos of my outfits from time to time.  it's our fun way of seeing and loving each other's day to day. sounds silly, but the small stuff adds up. And they usually either a) bought me something i'm wearing, b) it's a caroline-me-down, c) helped me pick out my outfit {overthephone} or d) all of the above and i love to hear their praise. ; )

so their you have it! summer outfit inspiration and work wear ideas from a young professional. and a few new blogs to get addicted to, while you're procrastinating on this toasty sunday.

15 June 2012

the glow

j.crew ikat sanur dress
this is the story of a cute dress reality check.

well you won't be surprised about the following post if you know me. (or maybe you will?) 2012 has been a doozy, and i can't say that in the midst of that stress i'm managing very well. anyhow, onto my story.

today at work someone stopped me and said, 'you've really got the glow these days. i've been trying to figure it out, it's just...something."

curious (and, of course, it's Friday and I'm proud of my cute outfit--see above), i raised my poorly groomed eyebrows and said, "what ever could you mean?"

You see, I remember her commenting something sweet a few weeks ago when I was wearing an equally swanky outfit: white trouser jeans (thank you, CTR), a printed top with a funky necklace and heels. She liked that look,too. She knows me and loves me, truth be told. And of course, I am on earth to be adored, right?

(Disclaimer: This individual has seen many more days than i have. She's a gem. She meant no harm.)

She continued, "Well, all I'll say is, I'd be proud to say I'm the first to know," she said with a crooked smile as she looked at me over her spectacles.

You know, office gossip style "first to know" status. Ladies live for that stuff.

"OH."So it's not my blond highlights or flowy ikat skirt? "Oh no, no, that'd be a medical miracle," I say. "But I don't know what it is!"

In a slight state of recovery mode, she softly talked her way around the suggestion, which truly was 100% heartfelt. And here is the curious part, in the moment, I didn't think anything of it. (Recall: blonde highlights)

Then I went to the bathroom: Insert full length mirror. And it occurred to me. My sister, she's um, 6+ months pregnant, and I think she's the bee's knees (because... ahem, she is). And I love her style, and last weekend I caught myself admiring every outfit she put on (side note: we were in the mountains of WVa). She's so chic and comfortable in her skin, has such grace & style despite the growing baby she carries everyday. And here's the catcher: I was reminded of that saying "you've got the glow" because, as I adored her last weekend, I thought that about HER. And she's, like, hello: SIX+ MONTHS PREGNANT.

DAMN gina! 
big le sigh:  Insert moment of self-realization. Instant replay of grabbing for every elastic waistband and 'flawy' summer top in my closest these days. Yikes. It's as though I could hear my self-esteem crumble.

but I decided (FYI: this is the lesson of the story), that in that moment I wasn't going to be conquered by my shame or disappointment. I was going to face the well-meaning compliment as it was intended, 'I've got the glow.' And that it was (and is) ok that i'm channeling my inner Italian cherub lately. As I tackle some of life's curviest roads (hello working full time & grad school), I am aiming for a balanced and bountiful life. Maybe I have lost my well balance a bit, but I'm confident my body knows it's (newish) set point.

I am blessed with a wide smile, a head of curls that could win any Texas perm competition, and a heart of gold. Curvy legs and all.

And before you rebuttal me, consider this: maybe being thin isn't what it's really about? maybe loving ourselves, and (even more difficult) letting ourselves be loved, through the seasons of life is the fountain that we seek to drink from? that's the stuff that we should cellar and save for special occasions? maybe that's how we get our glow?

maybe that's how stella got her groove back, too? maybe.

but most of all, maybe this is more than a story about a cute dress reality check. maybe this is a story about loving ourselves, our friends, our colleagues through life's meandering path. maybe so.

i'd love to hear your thoughts.

p.s. i'd be OK if this post went viral. feel free to share with your sisters, mothers, aunts and friends. you can say you knew me during my italian cherub days.

guess who?

20 May 2012

the real deal

it occurred to me that i have a tendency to tip towards the very philosophical when i'm blogging. if you ever sit next to me at lunch, you'd know that i am not so eloquent- i spell things incorrectly, stumble over my words, drop soba noodles on my new top. alas, i am a human being, too! so let's drop it a few notches, shall we?

here's a few little tidbits about life that are true for moi:

1. i love to dance. here's me keeping it real with my 18 and 20 year old brothers. (note to tanner & mason: you're welcome for teaching you mad dance skills.)
dance floor mania

2. I drop stuff...a lot. below is an image of my right foot after dropping a full 40-oz stainless steel water bottle on my own barefoot. and i have long, roman toes (that bend very odd ways), and a scar on the top of my foot from shaving it in the bathtub at my grandma's house when i was 3 or 4. caroline was in the bathtub, too and totally got me in trouble for screaming when blood turned the bathwater pink. i thought i could get away with it... ha 

nice bruise

3. i will never turn down a cocktail this guy makes. did you know my dad is the cocktail king? actually, he & BB are extraordinary hosts in every way. (this was a trader vic's dinner-party-dance-train. oh yes, good cocktails, better dance moves! told you i like to dance.)

dinner party dance train

4. my darling husband just got back from a seriously amazing trip to italy with his company. i did not get invited. yes, i was very jealous; but, there is nothing like seeing the ones you love saturated by witnessing what they love firsthand. his stories and photos were absolutely amazing. 

mauro veglio magnum. life's too hard, pw.

 5. i am often caught staring at my phone. this is something i'd like to change about myself. iPhones are addictive. sometimes i get so sucked into the black hole that i forget to see my beautiful life happening all around me.
guilty as charged.

 6. i am VERY particular about which pens i use. simple black ballpoints will never satiate this hand. don't be fooled into thinking i am something special, just very particular.

sakura jelly roll bliss.
7. i have trouble sticking to my goals. as much as i hate to admit it, i've been struggling to juggle it all lately, and i start something (like a new fit book!) and don't finish it. re-establishing goals and my vision for my best self. 
8. i LOVE LOVE LOVE colored sprinkles of any kind. my JOY among JOYS is colored sprinkle anything. be it chocolate covered frozen bananas or pretzel rods, rolled in colored sprinkles? GUSH. i love it. get this from my mama. 
colored sprinkle heaven.
9. since 2007, i have taken a photo/scan of almost every card i've made. a few nudges from some interesting people inspired me to take note of this talent. whispers, people: that's where the magic happens (in the still small voices).
heart piercing cards, 'grow." sold.

10. my grandmother once said to me, "you write fancy things" and i tell you what, that's probably the most darling comment i've ever received. thanks GG9a. you're the best.  (pictured here playing a gypsy and a tough hand of cards- again, with tanner & mason.)
gg9a gypsy

how's that for ten fun facts! the real deal about me. taking inventory of the ways things are can help leverage our strengths (and opportunities for growth) as we reach for the next rung on the ladder.

though i'd like to think of myself more like a monkey hanging out in a tree, ready to move on up to the next level and see a new perspective of this big, brave world. (totally not trying to get philosophical on you here. lol) happy sunday!

16 May 2012

life cycle

my favorite photos of me are the ones paul takes. this is probably no mistake: he demonstrates such an unconditional way of loving me that even i'm uncomfortable receiving that much love. we see ourselves so much differently than we really are. our flaws aren't that bad, after all, they make us who we are and give us a fair evaluation of the opportunities for growth.

we were watching 'weight of the nation' last night, the first of four videos HBO produced in collaboration with the NIH and CDC regarding the epidemic of obesity in the US. after watching the first episode, i think the series has powerfully and poignantly captured a severe problem that we face as a community-a part of the whole that we contribute to everyday.

something struck me in the episode last night, when a very obese woman says from time to time, she asks her (rather moderately sized) husband to tell her truly if she's gotten too big. she says when he doesn't answer she knows what that means.

i suppose that in many ways, we all look externally for validation, honest evaluation, and the constructive criticism that we cannot face alone. but something struck me as significant about that method of 'seeing;' if we never see ourselves clearly, we may never exhibit the bravery to face both our flaws and our magnificence.

much like my ability to banter on about problems but not pour equally as much time into solutions. or my ability to plug away for hours at end on the computer but not balance the scales with movement activity and 'me time.' how we exhaust our spiritual resources to the short-lived praise of this world. how we tell stories to ourselves about ourselves when ourselves don't approve and don't want to believe that could possibly be true.

if i've learned one thing in my very short twenty seven years it's that we reap what we sow; and in light of that, this is the life cycle:

plant good seeds. tend to them faithfully.
 don't let any storm or draught or famine scare you away from the beauty that grows. 
enjoy the harvest. share the bounty.  

while you're at it, don't forget that we're all in this together. love always wins. 

have i left anything out? i'm all ears (adorned with grandma's oversized golden hoops).

09 May 2012

looking back

i've been thinking lately. this life really is amazing. after the semester wrapped up and i could finally come up for air, i look back over the past days, months, and years--the past decade even--and i am so grateful for every meandering path, green pasture, and steep hill; for the quiet moments that consolidated my beliefs and the loud, tulmutuous roar of change. i am grateful for the soft look back on all the days that have made my life what it is today.
spontaneous art, reads: 'know love'
the moments that make me come alive are treasures:receiving a flat rate box full of hand-me-downs from my sister_unpacking a picnic under the summer sun with paul_flipping my dog in yoga class, sweat drippy down my (undeniably tabb) nose_ the continuous delight of our growing family as the years march on_lighting soy candles and sinking into a hot bath_seeing my sweet friends faces during a g+ hangout. wow.  the cumulative effect of all this life offers make my heart just absolutely burst with gratitude.

how do we fill our hearts? are our days spent seeking that which yields pleasure, joy, companionship, and treasures? do moments of fear call out our courage? what inspires our work, our relationships, our craft?

journal, reads: 'go! fill your heart!"

i guess this thought sums it up perfectly:  trust your life as it unfolds...
card, reads: 'trust your life as it unfolds...'
my dear friend ea and i always joke that the bravest thing we do everyday is leave our front door. life is not easy. (make no mistake that i have somehow figured it out.) blustery winds blow even the best of intentions astray. cars flood. we say goodbye to the ones we love the most. the inner flame wanes. we lose the ability to know our own treasures and strengths.

but as we lean into the day that has greeted us, the glow that awoke us from our slumber and called us out to the curb somehow ensures we have just what we need to keep that still, small voice alive.
card: marianne williamson quote
just in case you needed a reminder to manifest the glory.
permission to shine more brightly than ever before.
or an extra dose of love.

all of that, and more, is yours.

all images © heart piercing cards 2012.


15 April 2012

thoughts on discipline

playa del carmen, mexico
when the winds of fate blow tough weeks your way, what do you dream about?
escaping to the seashore?
the sound of your running shoes pounding the pavement?
a trip to the northwest hills of italy's wine county?
time spent around a kitchen table with good friends?
a warm beverage by candlelight?
long, slow walks through the park?

we all have tough weeks.
gray skies.
bumpy roads.

where we turn in the midst of these tough times ultimately tells the tale of our strengths and weaknesses.
i love to go to the drawing board of life,
paintbrush in hand,
my favorite pens & a moleskine.
(maybe a sun-hat atop my curly locks if the weather is nice.)
i love to sit with my dreams-my goals-my golden vision.
i'm really good at that part of the equation.

it's the returning-to-reality and making it happen part that trips me up from time to time.
(the rubber hits the road part)

remember how i was so inspired about a month ago and i had a strong vision and plans and a moment of true clarity (i do! thank goodness!)...well as i crashed into bed on Friday evening, i realized i hadn't spent time journaling-restoring and reflecting-for literally, one month. wow. and i created that month. and it's not that i don't have 72 favorite pens & a journal on my nightstand, it's that i am not as disciplined as i would like to be. and sometimes my follow-through can be lackluster (at best).

how does follow-through on this part of the equation when it's a known weakness?
all your disciplinarians out there, don't leave me hanging. i need your advice.

until then: it's finals week(s).
it's party time in my world on April 26th around 7 p.m.

29 March 2012

me: in all my glory

tap dancing. blowing bubbles. using grandma's lipstick. squealing with laughter. playing along the edge of the pool waiting for the lifeguard to blow the whistle, signaling adult swim is finally over. we should all be so free.

instead, we get trapped under the heavy rocks of to-do lists, spouting off lengthy explanations about why it all means something, and enslaved to the growing dark circles under our pale blue eyes.

sometimes i catch a glimpse of myself that makes me feel very uncomfortable: negative, busy, oh-my-freaking-goodness, heart attack-me is not my favorite me. i am not good at barreling through, unaffected by insane amounts of stress, constant deadlines, performance-oriented thinking day-in and day-out. 

well, i lie: i AM good at it, that's the problem. THAT is not the me i love.

 i love artsy-me, piggyback-me, my legs are so sore from that long run today-me. the me that leaves a meeting or presentation and thinks: "that went so well!" positive, thriving-me. long day, but it's all good-me.  

how do i get more of that? what do you do to ensure positive flow throughout your days and weeks? even when it's crazy and stressful and O-M-G is this for real? i believe in coping mechanisms, just haven't been swift practicing them lately. would love your input, advise or calm.

thanks for traveling with me no matter what i'm like! ///especially you, PW!/// xoxo stephanie

23 March 2012

daring greatly: brené brown

"vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." 

if you haven't heard brené's most recent TED talk
you're simply feeling like an extra dose of courage might do you good,
i'd hop over and check it out.

her way and words bring tears to my eyes. 

"shame drives two big tapes:
"never good enough"
(if you can talk it out of that one)
"who do you think you are?"
{brené brown}

my whole life halts as she speaks into the constant inner battle. wading deep into shame and vulnerability is not easy work. and when you're going through it, i cannot stress enough how important it is that you not go in alone. recently, i've been doing a bit of exploration myself.

i started seeing a therapist a while back as a way to "get out of my own head." i really like her, and offered to fire her early so that we could be friends and i could be "messy" in front of someone else (perhaps another therapist with whom i didn't connect on the same level). i lie not. this thought actually sounded convincing and i actually told my therapist this. it made perfect sense to me that it would be easier to retreat than to keep going within alongside someone who i thought deserved better (further verifying why i need to be working with her!, ha). upon revealing this thought, my therapist said in such an affirming way that she understood this way of thinking, and how it further reflected my craving for meaningful connection. however, she felt confident that the established trust & connection would serve us, both now and as a rich resource further down the road. 

i appreciated that insight more than words can describe. to know someone is willing to go deep into vulnerability and daringly brave what reveals itself is a feeling so freeing. will i be clinging to the fence when we get there? probably. but i trust we'll find our way, bravely, while holding onto the good of what's working in the process. so important for me. so so important.

this leads me back to something that's perhaps what i love most about brené: 
despite years of research regarding what makes the wholehearted who they are  (that's me & you, btw. and brené, too!), she doesn't claim to have it figured out. it's a constant process of discovering and recovering and uncovering and shedding light. 

so take heart. wherever you are, we can start today to take hands and go in together.

on another note, recently i won a giveaway on her blog. when i found out, i had a crazy "OMG i think i'm famous now moment," when really i was just sitting in my cubicle at work doing double fist-pumps and smiling ear to ear. but WOW! i received the gift this past weekend, a book titled: "Marriage Rules" by Harriet Lerner--an author whose works shaped Brené's life. Really excited about dog-earring the heck out of this book--and the opportunity to thank a woman who inspires me so deeply with a little love letter.

here are a few photos of the thank you card & piece of mixed media art i created to send her.
card+art=postal love!

"a light shines brightly in each one of us."

killer envelope, no?!

so true what she says: when i get out of my own way and quiet the voices of expectation (doing it "right,") life gives way to the creative flow that inspires. finding ways to affirm and empathize with one another in our everyday is brave work. and i'm ever so grateful for daring souls like brené who pave the path.

you'll never know what a true, wholehearted impact you've had in my life, brené.
but i am grateful beyond grateful.

18 March 2012

unlock the combination

the queen has plans to return to her kingdom.
after many months of hiatus, (which seems to keep happening when life gets busy!) i'm finally ready to return to this space. loaded into my 2012 goals & visions was the inner voice saying, "WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!" but i've been writing strategic plans, papers, case studies and thank you cards, rather than blogs and journal entries. and while work & grad school may get a major chunk of my time, the color and spirit of life continues to inspire me, and this space has always been an outlet for that.

i was flying home yesterday and it occurred to me that each of us most certainly has everything within ourselves to create the world we crave.  my life lately has been a lesson in that course. 

whatever is holding you back from taking the next step is simply a critical opportunity for you to look deep within to find a solution. sometimes 'looking deeply within' means looking up, quieting the world around you, or bravely facing something you've avoided for a long, long time. or, a combination of all three and a big leap of faith. 

but the awakening that occurs once the stronghold is lifted--that's a moment in life you'll always look back on gratefully. i hope you're finding strength within today to be brave. 

my inspiration tank is full after doing so myself yesterday. 
with great love,

p.s. you like my photo frame? i gifted paul with this book photo frame for his 30th birthday. maybe he'll always remember me that way? also...i promise the wedding details posts are coming back (slowly but surely)