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Apt2B: L.A.'s Local Resource For All Your Home Needs

Every Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m., I meet my personal trainer Vern at a gym in Lincoln Park and leave 45 minutes later pouring in sweat with renewed inspiration to eat well and take care of my body. This weekly appointment keeps me accountable, helps me to make better decisions, and is the only reason I have any muscle tone whatsoever. ("Build lean muscle" was on my 2015 goals list, jotted down in permanent ink after completing thorough research on tactics for maintaining metabolism, managing weight and staying young forever.)

Personal training is hands down the best investment I've made for my health, an expense that reaps long term benefits that is much cheaper than a wasted gym membership or prescription drugs for health ailments. The benefits I've enjoyed from working with Vern once per week for the past 15+ months include those I touched on in the first paragraph, but the best thing I've taken away from my sessions has been a minimalist fitness plan that fits my lifestyle.

Since getting fit with minimal time is what this post is all about, here's exactly how to do it:

One of the benefits of my full-time job's travel requirement is the option to travel to an alternate location for a weekend instead of to my home in Chicago. This was much more exciting when I first started and before I was married, but I still love to take advantage of it every now and then. It gives me a chance to stretch my light packing muscles! 

The people at reached out awhile ago for my light packing tips for a weekend getaway to the Sin City, a place I've actually never visited but have on my short list. Even though I'm not planning to go any time soon, I loved the idea of a post on how to pack light for weekend getaways in general - especially for a place you've never visited! (By the way, I should mention that this post is not sponsored; I'm just stealing the pitch...) 

Without further ado, I'll share the six steps I'd take to pack my lone carry on for a theoretical weekend in Vegas, as well as a few tricks I use to make my minimalist, multipurpose approach to packing work:

Styling one piece multiple ways is one of the tricks I've used for years when traveling, but have started to apply the principle to my wardrobe in general as part of my minimalist challenge to stop buying new things for a year. Asking myself how I can wear a piece in a new way has helped me to get past the boredom, and "discovering" an outfit that's already in my closet has helped to fulfill my desire to buy. It's also helping me learn which pieces are truly versatile and deserve a spot in my closet, versus those that are just taking up space and should be donated.

A few months ago when it was still cold in Chicago, I wrote a post about five ways to style a basic black dress and since received a few requests to repeat the process for a summer staple. For me, a simple white dress is the epitome of a summer classic: it never goes out of style, and can be worn everywhere from the beach to the office. 

Here are just five of the ways that I style my longtime favorite white summer dress, a slightly oversize linen in a simple a-line cut from J.Jill (and for those of you who aren't on a buying fast, I've decided to honor your requests for recommendations on "best buys" and included links to similar items at the end of the post that I feel would live a long life in my closet.)

There is something about being true to who you really are that is terrifying. Especially when you have thin skin, and I'm pretty sure that I do. When I hold things back, it protects me from judgement and criticism and allows me and my thin skin to bask in the peace and comfort of the Safety Zone.

The CEO of my consulting firm recently sent out a note on the importance of authenticity and why being real was so important in creating a diverse workplace. The crux of the issue is that when we aren't being true to ourselves, we're closed-minded, not learning, growing, and challenging norms. Everyone trying to fit a mold that's not reflective of the real world leads to stagnation. She is brilliant, our first female CEO, and her thoughts on this topic really stuck with me - that there's inherent business value in diversity of thought, experience and perspective, yet we choose to edit out what's diverse about ourselves. It made me think about how I do this, and how to change.

Obviously, there are some parts of your "real" life and personality that are worth omitting in a professional setting, such as political beliefs or college spring break stories (not that I ever had a wild spring break, unless you count binge eating Key Lime Pie in Sarasota with my BFFs). The challenge is defining the line of how much of yourself to bring to the table.

Personally, walking this fine line has been a struggle for me in the 7 years I've been gainfully employed. The things that I choose not to share at work, but will admit here, include:
  1. This blog, my Instagram feed, any of my freelance publications. 
  2. Any photos of me from middle school. (Think bowl cut, braces, glasses, extremely anxious Odyssey of the Mind world champion and last chair violinist in orchestra.)
  3. That my biggest fear (aside from losing my family) is being judged - and worse, being judged as stupid. (Yet somehow I still muster the audacity to continue posting photos of myself on the Internet…)
  4. I have a brother whose struggle with alcohol and drug addictions has been affecting my family since I was 14 (but the upside is that it motivated me to be one of the rare successful graduates of the D.A.R.E. program).
  5. When I take the train, I never get on the first or last car due to an irrational fear of a collision.
  6. My favorite genre of books is self-help, and I can give you ten titles that truly changed my life.
  7. That I graduated with a journalism degree, never took a finance class in my life and get extremely uncomfortable when my colleagues start doing math out loud in their heads.
  8. That I'm not sure where I would be in life if I didn't meet my husband at 24. As cliché as it sounds, he is truly my rock in life and demands that I stop second-guessing myself and go after what I want. Anything I've accomplished in the past 6 years can be attributed to his influence on me, but I give him zero public credit for that because of my deep-seated need to be seen as Miss Independent. He is generous, trustworthy, hard-working, hilarious, etc., yet sometimes I also want to kill him for inexplicable reasons. (Do all married people experience this dichotomy, or is it just me?)
  9. When I walk into people's homes, I immediately want to rearrange their furniture and change the paint. (I think it's a tic.)
  10. I spent way too much time in my 20's worried about what everyone else thought, and living up to other people's standards.
  11. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and be a yoga teacher, but I don't because of #3 above.

There are thousands of things that I could add to this list, and I'm sure you have one equally as lengthy. It's problematic, in some ways, that we edit so much of ourselves - not just in our professional lives, but with anyone outside our trusted inner circles.

The problem with being inauthentic

Editing who we are means we miss opportunities for connection, for mutual understanding, and for sparking relationships. We also fail to serve as an example to those around us who may desperately need to feel accepted, included and OK with themselves by watching someone demonstrate what it means to be genuine and comfortable in her own skin. (There are several women who have been this to me, and I am incredibly grateful to having them in my life at exactly the right moments - and I am equally grateful for everything Anna Quindlen has ever written.)

 Social media often compounds this issue, leading us to compare ourselves, our lives, our families, and our successes to impossibly perfect images of other people's tastefully edited 500 pixel squares that we surround with our own assumptions and projections. It plants seeds of self-doubt, as well as desires for things we think will make us happy but we don't really need. (Recently, I found myself pages-deep into a blog wanting a baby… and a remote farmhouse in Montana.)

How do we solve it?

Despite our collective craving for realness, it's hard to find people and content that satiate that need and inspire you to genuine, to embrace who you are, where you are at, and the value you bring to the world. (I've also heard this described as, "Let your freak flag fly.") It's not really surprising that inspiration and role models for realness are hard to find, given how fearful we all are to be our own authentic selves.

In an effort to improve, I'll be exploring new topics on this little blog to use it as a podium for authenticity while continuing to pose in my old clothes to prove you don't need any new ones. Also, I challenge you to find ways bring more of your real self forward - where having an opinion, taking a stand, or sharing something about yourself that's not necessarily comfortable or mainstream in order to inspire someone else to do the same. 

I'd also love to hear your ideas on the topic of authenticity and what might be worth exploring or expanding! 

(Now I'm off to go take perfect little pictures of my bea-yoo-tiful home and snuggle with my perfect dog who never chews my shoes or pees on my friends' feet when they come over.)

Let's start this post with, when did it become May?! (Am I alone in sometimes wanting to press the "freeze" button on life, momentarily step off the hurtling train of time, and spend an entire day with my favorite people on Earth eating waffles, wandering art museums, laughing at our own jokes, sipping fine wines, and not thinking about Retinoids and project plans? Sorry, I digress.)

Anyway, now 5 months into my "No New Things for a Year" challenge, I'd like to share what's on my want list for 2017 along with some key learnings:

There is a group of people out there in the world that take deep pride in being extremely, overwhelmingly busy. You know them. They are The Busy People, and their answer to innocent inquiries of "How are you?" are met with "Sooooo busy, I can't even talk to you because in the four seconds we've interacted I just received six emails."

Sometimes, a member of The Busy People finds out about this blog. "You must have a lot of time on your hands," they say. This is one of the most disappointing things that someone can say to me, right up there with "I'm sorry, but we are out of cookie dough ice cream" at Baskin Robbins and the recorded American Airlines voicemail telling me my flight has been delayed.

The truth is, we all have the exact same amount of time in a day. How we choose to prioritize and use it is discretionary. In my humble opinion, I think The Busy People are simply lacking either the will or the means to ruthlessly prioritize their time. Quite frankly, we've all got plenty of demands on our time and if we don't have an approach to determine how best to spend it, we'd also be passing judgement on those who make it to yoga while we're combing through our thousandth email.

A few years ago, I read Greg McKewon's Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, and it changed how I thought about (and spent) my time. It helped me to become more disciplined on how I allocated it, and gave me some tactics for making space for things that add value to my life (for example, exercising, snuggling with my dog, dating my husband, or writing this blog).

Here are some of the best time-saving strategies I've found:

My love of (and addition to) eBay started in high school (I was an early adopter, what can I say), and to say that I'm an expert at liquidating my closet assets would be an understatement. Learning to use eBay helped me to refine my style, allowing me to make extra cash selling off things I no longer wore and providing an endless, affordable source of designer pieces. 

Because I've been buying and selling on eBay for so long, I've been able to get the steps to selling down to a science so the time required is minimal. (It helped that business process re-engineering is part of my real job description...)