As a dating coach, I have had the privilege of helping hundreds of women take action in their dating lives to find the type of healthy, happy, loving relationships they truly desire. As part of this coaching process, I have ended up helping many clients style their outfits for photo shoots (for their online dating profiles), sifted through their current wardrobes, offering them advice on how to style their clothes and accessories and given them various outfit ideas for dating and beyond. It's turned out to be a holistic coaching approach that involves mind (working through limiting beliefs, fears, insecurities, unhealthy patterns, etc.) and body (asking clients: On the outside, who are you presenting to the world and how do you want to be perceived?). So, basically, the process is about feeling and looking one's best. After several of these experiences, it felt only natural for me to extend my business services to include wardrobe, image and personal style consultations and makeovers.
I've always loved fashion and style. Back in college, I remember trying to start a suspenders fad among my peers. That idea failed miserably. I've had plenty of other misses, too, during my lifetime, including just about everything I wore during my senior year. But I've always enjoyed experimenting with my personal style -- dressing up for me often feels like creating a piece of art, making something where nothing was.
As part of my style/image services, I decided to start a style blog and an Instagram account , to give clients and readers ideas they could use in their own lives. I then began to research the world of style blogging, which I had never paid attention to before getting involved with it myself.
One of the things I tell my dating coaching clients and women wherever I go is that comparing yourself to other daters or to couples is emotionally dangerous and exhausting. Besides, I say to them, you never know what insecurities a person is dealing with (even if they seem to have a thousand dates), and you never know what goes on behind closed doors in a relationship, despite the perfect tableau someone has created on Facebook. Life is messy, and relationships are never perfect; instead of creating some fantasy about another person's or couple's life, I tell clients to focus their energies on who they are, what they have going for themselves and what they can do to move their own love lives forward. Don't, for the love of God, get caught up in the comparison game.
Ironic, then, that I fell head-first down the rabbit hole of comparison at the onset of my style blogging adventures. I became obsessed with and mesmerized by the various women out there who were documenting their fabulous outfits and luminously glowing skin and radiant hair and flawlessly decorated homes. It got to the point where I imagined these women's "number twos" coming out in the shape of a Tory Burch handbag.
One blogger I've become particularly dazzled by is Rachel Parcell, who blogs at Pink Peonies. Oh, this woman! Oh, her perfect home and perfect dancer legs and perfect red lips and perfect hair and perfect style and perfect manicures and perfect home-cooked meals and perfect baby bump. The gal is straight-up fabulous. "Could I ever attain this life?," I wondered one day while picking at my not-so-perfect split ends.
I was particularly taken in by one of her recent blog posts, which documented "a day in the life of," particularly, because my daily existence looks so drastically different. I get it: It was a post to promote a brand of watches. But for some reason, I still imagined her life being like this every day, and that fantasy made me feel oh-so-envious.
Because, you see, although the picture below may look like I just woke up, rolled out of bed, shot these photos and then threw a few up on my blog, the truth more closely resembles this: 30 minutes to straighten my thick, unruly hair; another 30 minutes to curl my hair with a wand ("Why do you straighten it if you're just going to curl it again?" my husband always asks); 30 minutes to apply my makeup; an hour to pick out all my outfits (usually I'll choose three or four outfits so my husband -- God bless him -- can shoot all of them on the same day). The next phase involves driving over to a neighborhood in Boston, shooting each outfit, changing from outfit to outfit in the car (yes, I've flashed a few passersby) and taking hundreds of pictures. Finally, I comb through all the photos to choose the best ones, upload them to my computer and write blog posts for each outfit. It's a laborious process (but, amazingly, I have a lot of fun doing it!).
And the reality is that when I'm not taking photos of outfits, 95 percent my life is fairly ordinary and boring and full of mundane crap and unglamorous moments. In fact, I set out to document what a day for me looks like, compared with Ms. Parcell's post.
Our bed is a disaster area. It's a king, but we each have our own queen size comforters, because I like to "swish and swirl" my bedding (a la George Costanza). I also use approximately 7,000 pillows. Making the bed in the morning is the last thing on my mind.
I slapped on my comfiest sweatpants and sweater to start my day. And decided to update my look with a baseball cap. My work station is a mess, full of folders and papers and brimming with ideas I'll never get to.
My husband and me (grey hair wisps and all) in our stylish BluBlockers (to reduce the exposure from the light of our tech gadgets so we can get a better sleep).
What I've learned and what I'm sure I will continue to learn is that I'll probably never be that perfect domestic Goddess. I'll never be able to cook Martha Stewart-esque meals. I'll never be able to keep up with a constant schedule of hair salons and nail salons and spinning classes. I'll never have that immaculate home where the floor tiles glisten and the angels come to play.
And, you know what, that's OK.
Because when I look around me and focus my energies on who I am and what I have going for me and the wonderful man and family in my life, I know I've got it pretty good.
Although I have to admit: I'm still hoping for the designer handbag bowel movement to happen someday. That would be pretty cool.