Category: Goals

Summer Bucket List Check In

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’ve mentioned that the weather has taken a turn for the autumnal of late, this past Sunday it reached a new high (or low, depending on your point of view). Ergo, we’re off to Greece, which as you may recall was the first item on my Summer Bucket List. Which means, given the weather, that it’s probably time for a check in on my frivolous summer goals!

Do you see this nonsense?

Buy new glasses. (See comment below!)

Get another piece of furniture for the house. And plants that I won’t easily kill. (I’ve got my eye on some shelves but that will have to be an end of month or October purchase, as we’ve spent that money on Greece. And I regret nothing)

Read a new heap of novels, both trashy and classy.

Finally get that call with my bank scheduled to kick off the proper investment and savings plan we’ve been talking about for months. (Call made but expat status means that we have to go through a few more hoops before I can start this properly. Annoying, but progress made!)

Do another month long blog project. (Nope, fail.)

Lose some weight. I’m typically wary of goals like this, but I’ve decided to just acknowledge that I’m going to work hard on some health and fitness goals explicitly. (I’ve started a new health challenge and X is my accountability partner. I’m only a bit of weight down, but I’m back to much better eating habits and regular exercise!)

Catch up with some long lost pals. (Another “fail,” but what I actually managed to do was make a few new friends instead. Gonna call this one a win.)

Knock out my audiobook goal.

Leave the office at a sensible hour most days.

Go to more movies. (I only made it to Wonder Woman, but I’m actually with falling down on this goal as we spent that fun money elsewhere, such as eating out at Hawker House.)

Throw some kind of party or get together.

Did you have a summer bucket list of any kind? What goals or triumphs have you ticked off over the warm months?

101 in 1001 Check In

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” 
― Albert Einstein

Kittens, it’s time for some self accountability! I’m officially one year into my 101/1001 challenge (2.0). I’ve ticked off 23 goals of my list thus far; I was trying to get 24 so I could say I’ve done at least two a month…but alas. I’m still pretty pleased at my progress! The below goals are the long term work-in-progress ones that have been activated but I can’t tick off just yet.

8. Read every Agatha Christie novel
10. See 10 operas, ballets, or classic plays I haven’t yet (5 of 10)
17. Visit the Acropolis in Athens (trip to Greece in the works!)
30. Put $10 in savings for every goal accomplished
33. Pay off the remainder of our student loans
38. Do another 100 books in a year self challenge (I wasn’t doing this originally, but seeing as I’m well over 60 titles in for this year on my Goodreads tracker, while the hell not?!)
44. Go on a shopping hiatus for 3 months once a year (2 of 4)
49. Decorate a new apartment like a real, live grown up
56. Be able to squat my own body weight
58. Become a pseudo expert in a subject I’m interested by reading one book on the subject a month for six months (3 of 6)
66. Listen to one new-to-me music album each week for a year
80. Get credit card balances down to zero
84. Deep clean once a season for duration of 1001 day timeline (4 of 15)
86. Vote in every election in my US state for duration of 1001 day timeline (1 of 3)

All in all, not bad progress for one year. Our big financial goals are still around and some months we do better than others at budgeting, but I’ve discovered some recent ways of handling that which I’ll share in other posts. My writing goals are woefully behind, but I have a fantastic girl gang cheering me. There have been fits and starts with some health goals, but I want to do another month-long blog project around this as a theme.

Have a brag moment in the comments and tell me if you’ve ticked off any goals recently, and what they were!

Shopping My Beauty Arsenal

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
-British wartime slogan

Kittens, I’m in a decluttering mood. I don’t know whether it’s the confused British weather that makes it feel like it’s nearly fall even though it’s barely August, the fact that we are still getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks of houseguests, or that work (while still busy) feels a bit less hectic than usual with the summer slowdown…but I’m feeling a strange need to tidy, downsize, and just generally apply some order.

My year of “less but better” remains thematically in place and now, nearly three quarters of a way through it, I’m feeling much better about a lot of my consumption habits in most places. That being said, I’ve recently bought art for our walls and an amazing piece of vintage Aquascutum for my own back, so this clearly isn’t an impulse that’s being felt uniformly. But I recently wrote about streamlining my media, which has been an interesting exercise, and my anxiety and stress are more firmly under control than they’ve been in years, so I feel like my overall balance is in a good place.

Yes, I have quite a bit. And no, I regret none of it.

But one area of consumption in particular has been on my mind of late: I’m definitely wanting to use more of my makeup and skin care products–indeed not just use them, but use some of them up. I’ve put myself on strict “no buying” rules for new makeup (allowing myself the potential exception of buying from the new Estee Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration when it launches and a restock of some Glossier products that a pal may be shipping me from the States), and I’m restricting new skincare purchases until I use up what’s in my cabinet. I love beauty and I enjoy consuming it, so this isn’t going to be a hardship. Plus, at some point, when I’ve been better at using what I have, I can look forward to the pleasure of discovering new things when I have a hole in my arsenal to fill. Everyone wins!

And, because it’s me, of course I’ve given myself a few challenges and goals to achieve this!  I’ll check in on Halloween, which is my self-imposed deadline, to see if I’ve been able to get through. And for silliness’ sake, I’ve given myself a holiday appropriate list of 13 things to use up!

Beauty To Dos

Hit pan on at least one color in my Viseart neutral eyeshadow palette. I’m using this palette almost exclusively in order to meet this goal.

Use up my Bite Beauty lipstick in Pepper – my favorite and perfect nude, a shade I will be repurchasing. Eventually.

Finish my Nars Velvet Lip Pencil in Red Square – another favorite that I will probably also repurchase…but only after I also complete other lip products that are similar, though inferior!

Use up my Replica by Maison Margiela perfume in Jazz Club

Use just one blush – Tonga by Cargo – with aim of putting a proper dent in it

Use up one of my (many) sunscreens

Finish my Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

Finish my Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Finish my Kiehl’s mud mask (so many masks…)

Use up one of my hand lotion samples already!

Finish one of my pots of lip salve (Rosebud Salve forever, but no one needs five tins of them)

Finish my current bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Hit pan on my Glossier Stretch Concealer

Anyone want to join in and commit to using up something–food in your cupboards, a reading list, products, boxes of tea bags that miraculously keep accumulating? Talk to me about something that you want to use up, and whether or not you would repurchase it or replace it when it’s gone? 

The End of Style Month

“You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”
– Diana Vreeland

Style Month is at an end and I’ve enjoyed writing about it from the perspective of consumption and choice. The comments have been fantastic and I’ve had a lot of fun. ButI didn’t accomplish everything I wanted with this particular project, largely due to the very happy fact that I got a new and unexpected work contract (hurrah!) but it’s given me a lot of ideas of how I want to do future month long projects or topic assignments. It frustrates me to have a “vision” for a project and not feel like I’ve seen it through, but looking back through my stats and comments, I’m pleasantly surprised to see how much engagement I’ve had with this series. Which means of course, I want to do another one at some point! Do let me know what you’d be interested in reading about and discussing; I’ve got a few ideas following your feedback from my Money Month project as well.

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I ticked off a couple of minor 101/1001 goals and made progress on some long term ones, but the next month will be a bit more relaxed. Apart from my responsibilities with my new contract, we are planning a trip to Paris in June with friends that is where we are going to put our only big spending in May. I’m going to be continuing to build on my Money and Style Month themes by using what I’ve got, and doing a new personal savings/spending goal to knock out a whole credit card by the end of next month.

I have no idea how we are a quarter of the way through the year already, but in spite of some background stresses, and occasional bouts of imposter syndrome and anxiety, I’m really happy with the progress I’m making on so many of my goals!

What I’m Not Going to Buy – Inspired by Kimberly Clark

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
― Yves Saint-Laurent

Kimberly Clark is a YouTuber I mentioned in my March favorites post. A drag queen who vlogs on beauty, consumerism, and social issues, her content is frankly right up my street! She’s most notable for her “Anti-Haul” series where, in contrast to other glam influencers who show off their (often extravagant) mass purchases, she creates fun and enjoyable videos detailing what she is choosing not to buy–and why. Her style is quintessential drag, humorous and hyperbolic, but often intermixed with valuable thoughts on brands and consumer culture.

I really like her take on being honest and blunt about wanting, buying, and enjoying products that are fundamentally unnecessary, but also honestly evaluating (in her opinion) when certain products or brands cross the line into downright ridiculous. Her catch phrase, “I don’t need it and I’m not going to buy it,” could save us all a lot of buyers remorse–and not just on beauty and style products.

And so, following the exposé of my stash, and in the spirit of glitter, big hair, and smarter consumption, here’s a list of things I’m not going to buy:

Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow. Something strange has happened lately and I’ve found myself drawn inexorably to metallic cosmetics as if I were some kind of earthbound magpie. These things are outrageously high on shine and ever since swatching them on my hand to test both their reflective might (strong) and staying power (fairly decent for something so glittery), I have coveted them fiercely. But I’m not going to buy them. I have two semi-metallic shades of cream eye shadow that are more muted but still plenty shimmery and can work for both work or going out depending on how I use them. They would be tons of fun, but–in the words of Kimberly Clark herself–I don’t need them so I’m going to buy them!

Bobbi Brown City Palette in London. I fell for this compact due to the combined powers of an intense navy shade and the illustrated case that pays homage to my favorite city on earth. But pretty as they both are, even I must admit those are insufficient reasons to splurge.

Anything by Tom Ford, with the exception of the eyeliner pen which is genuinely great in spite of the price. Because when your brand charges $50 for lipstick, $110 for bronzer, and $80 for blushes…I expect your products to not only make me eternally young, but to do my laundry, clean my house, and file my tax paperwork in the bargain. No one needs to spend that much money on on this stuff. Nobody.

Glossier Cloud Paint. Like the liquid eye shadow, I definitely want this and am intrigued to try it. I don’t entirely worship at the shrine of Glossier, some of their products are a bit overhyped or underwhelming…but the products of theirs that I do like, I buy in multiples. However I’m not going to be buying this product, at least not any time soon, because I have a lot of blushes already. I haven’t bought all of them, a good number I was very generously gifted to review by a magazine, but the fact remains that I have a drawer full already and simply don’t need more at the moment.

Any more highlighters. Sephora can tempt me with all the glow they can bring to bear, but I own a handful as it stands. I can look dewy, bronzed, or downright gilded if I want to already, so I will be sitting on my hands every time I’m tempted by something shiny until I’ve used up some of my existing stock.

Most limited edition anything (fully acknowledging that my own shopping ban cheat indulgence was precisely that). In almost all instances, the “limited edition” nature of these items is to meant to enable markups on already existing formulas and products. Moreoever, more than one brand has rolled out a “limited edition” product to outrageous hype, only to have it become a viral success–at which point it behooves the brand to add the item to their normal roster anyway (a great example of this is Becca’s Champagne Pop highlighter). Which means that all you paid for (normally at some kind of mark up) is the urgency. There are new product launches all the time and it is a rare item that will truly fill a gap in your stash and be worth the higher price tag.

New Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. Full disclosure, I love these. I own two and could gleefully own more, but I’m sitting on my hands in defiance of their recent release of new shades because…I have an obscene amount of lip products already. I’m not buying another stick until I’ve used up my existing ones. So help me god.

Anything Kylie Cosmetics. I fully admit to an irrational prejudice when it comes to this family in general, but that’s just not a direction I want to send my money.

 

Your turn, ducklings. What is one thing (or a list of things) you want but have made a decision not to buy–frivolous or otherwise? 

Finding My Fashion Sense (a work in progress)

“Style is knowing what suits you, who you are, and what your assets are. It is also accepting it all.”
– Bianca Jagger

Lo these many years ago in my early 20s I decided to sit down and figure out what I actually liked and wanted to wear, as opposed to trying to follow trends or simply copy looks I liked on other people (which invariably never looked as good on me). It was a surprisingly frustrating exercise. It took a few years in all honesty, and I ended up going down a few blind fashion alleys, and frankly spending more money than I should have, along the way. But I was sick of owning clothes I didn’t wear because I’d bought them liking the idea of the pieces more than the pieces themselves…which was ultimately my personal breakthrough moment.

Liking and owning are not and need not be the same thing. I’d gotten them dangerously confused–something I think it’s very easy to do in our culture. Indeed, we’re kind of trained to. Just because I liked something didn’t mean that 1) I needed to own it or, 2) that it would necessarily suit me anyway. I didn’t really know what I liked, and as a result I was flailing–stylistically as well as financially or practically. Dividing aesthetic appreciation from my consumer urges helped get poorly planned or whim purchases off the menu; I then decided that I needed to figure out what my tastes actually were before buying more stuff.

I made a Pinterest board where I pinned fashion images that I liked, as opposed to items I wanted to buy.

Gradually, some noticeable themes started to emerge from the inspiration images I collected. What I learned over time is that I like masculine inspired tailoring in feminine clothing, neutral basics paired with colorful or standout accessories, high impact glam for special occasions, and a noticeably vintage vibe running throughout. Got it! If that’s how I buy, I know I’ll be pretty happy and get a lot of use out of my clothing. So it was and so it has remained.

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This image is my fashion totem: comfy jeans, impractically dramatic fur coat, excellent lipstick. Done. It me, kittens, at least in my fantasy life.

I’ve never read any good style advice that didn’t boil down to, “Know thyself,” but I think if we are honest, that’s more difficult than it appears at first blush. Lots of us go through multiple identities or personas in our life–high school cliques, groups of friends, career moves, family changes–which means that who we are is constantly shifting. Sometimes we deliberately decide to explore new facets of our personalities, which may prompt a change in aesthetics. Sometimes…we just feel bored or frustrated with ourselves and an easy way to feel different it to choose to look different (let’s share tragic haircut choices in the comments, shall we?). And sometimes, our tastes simply change. Mine have shifted several times over the last decade. And even though I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe now, I’m fairly sure it will evolve again at some point as my professional or lifestyle needs shift.

Committing to examining and developing your sense of style can be an exercise in radical honesty, it forces you to really define what you like but also why you gravitate towards it. You may encounter some uncomfortable truths. When I was first freelancing full time, I spent several months in full schlub mode and there was a period of time where I could spend whole days in my pajamas if I wanted to, which I often did. It ended up having a knock on effect on my health (it was easy not to exercise) and confidence (it was hard to feel competent with perpetually messy hair). When I woke to this cause-and-effect, I made a switch and deliberately discarded or repurposed my lazy loungewear so that wearing it simply wasn’t an option. A minor change, but one that has had long term positive benefits for both how I look and feel in the mirror.

Examining your style can also open up some positive doors or new facets of your personality you want to explore and bring to the fore. Stay tuned for the story of my love affair with lipstick next week! Once you discover what you like (what you really like), I find that a lot of the imposter syndrome, self consciousness, or indecision that often comes with getting dressed in the morning melts away. If you genuinely love what you own, whether it’s trunk fulls of designer labels, or well loved jeans and t-shirts, I think you are much less likely to be concerned with what other people’s opinions are on the subject of your presentation.

Get to know yourself. Like yourself. Dress the part. It’s a formula that works for me, even though the first element of it is constantly in a state of flux.

 

Your turn! Have you ever tried to define your own sense of style? What tools helped? Could you sum up your fashion sense in three words or an image like that of the Great and Good Katherine Hepburn? 

 

Style Month

“Fashion changes, but style endures.”
― Coco Chanel

Welcome to Style Month at SDS! Throughout April we’re going to be talking beauty, fashion, makeup, identity, psychology, marketing, and consumerism–because style is anything but a shallow concept.

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I’m hoping to shake things up with some new post formats, a bit of personal writing, and of course to continue to work towards being  smarter, savvier consumer overall. Even though we’re going to be talking about what’s often considered a frivolous topic (false), this very much falls under the yearly theme of: Less But Better when it comes to spending and consuming in general.

Like unto Money Month, I hope you guys will play along, comment, share your own posts and writing on similar topics, and signal boost other content worth sharing. If a book has changed your thoughts on style, share it! If you’ve developed a signature look, let me know how you found it! I hope to tick off a few more of my 101/1001 goals but mostly I’m looking forward to discussing an oddly personal topic in a hopefully broad and interactive way with the minion coterie. I really enjoyed my last month-long project and am hoping you guys enjoy this one just as much.