Two Must Reads: Just The Facts, Please

I love to share what I'm reading with you, because my life isn't only about organizing! Today, I just have two pieces I strongly believe will bring you a lot of value. They have in common a strong grounding in objective research, as well as a subject that a lot of us stress out about. I don't know about you, but I find all the conflicting information spinning around the internet to be so overwhelming that it's functionally useless. i also get really frustrated with the fact that if you're just trying to be better at something and following what you think sounds like a good plan, you will still be told that you are doing it wrong in a zillion different ways.

So, without further ado, here are two definitive guides, based on facts and presented reasonably. Get rid of the guilt and get the real info!

Photo courtesy of (Bobby Doherty)

Photo courtesy of (Bobby Doherty)

The Last Conversation You'll Need To Have About Eating Right

As a friend of mine said to me the other night, "I know what I should do... I just don't always do it!" This article is even more proof that you don't need to buy fancy ingredients, follow complex instructions, or starve in order to have a healthy diet. It also helps reframe diet goals from "I need to do everything perfectly" to "I want to live a healthy, long life."

Photo courtesy of (miltedflower)

Photo courtesy of (miltedflower)

14 Sustainable And Ethical Fashion Myths That Need To Die

Less is still more, and quality is still better than quantity, but it turns out there's a lot of nuance that many of us overlook. Read on for seriously good reasons to become a more thoughtful consumer, practical ways to do it, and a nice side of absolution from some of the worst of the wannabe ethical shopper's guilt.

I'd love to check out any other fact and research based articles you might have come across on related topics - please share!


What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Anne of Green Gables: Patron Saint of Girls Who Ask Too Many Questions

The depth of my love the Anne of Green Gables and her world knows no bounds. I've read the entire series many times over and wholly identified with her from the start. As a kid, I read pretty much any historical fiction I could get my hands on, and there was lot of prim and proper behavior and bonding with horses and stuff,  but Anne was always real to me. To this day, I use the term "kindred spirits" and look for them everywhere.

Me as a debutante with my grandma in 2000.  We bought the dress in the bridal department of Saks, which was... bizarre.

Me as a debutante with my grandma in 2000.  We bought the dress in the bridal department of Saks, which was... bizarre.

The Curious Plight of the Modern Debutante

So, uh, fun fact: I was a debutante. Twice: in Ventura, where my dad's family has lived since the 1880's, and in LA, where my mom grew up. Even eighteen years ago I found it weird, dated, and irrelevant. I agreed to do both balls because they meant a lot to my mom and grandparents, and because I got to wear a poofy dress with lots of hair and makeup and force a boy I had a crush on to hang out with me for a night. I mean, I was 17!

13 Things You Should Know About HIV, But Probably Don't

As a teenager in the 90's, I was absolutely petrified of AIDS. It was finally publicly acknowledged but it was still basically a death sentence. I remember the AIDS quilt and Ryan White, and Pedro on The Real World, and scary sex ed. I'm glad we've come so far, but AIDS remains a global health threat and we should all be informed about how the disease is currently impacting our world.  Spoiler alert: it's not just for men who have sex with men anymore.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The Other Women's March on Washington

It's not enough to march, we need to run and vote, too.  I'm looking forward to participating  in the political process in 2018.  And I happen to love this author, Rebecca Traister - check out her book All The Single Ladies if you haven't already!

What I'm Organizing - Don't Leave Home Without It

We just landed this morning from an amazing trip to Asia, and I have never been more pleased about the medication stash we bring on every trip. 

You see, the final 24 hours were something else.  While my mother taught me to never have a drink with ice, eat a salad, or consume a fruit you have not peeled yourself when traveling in places with less reliable water sources than you’re used to, on this trip we were staying developed areas.  So, I did not have my usual guard up. 

No details are necessary, but let’s just say that the meds made the difference between a rather unpleasant day during which I was nonetheless able to travel, and what could have been an abject disaster.

I should mention that I generally don’t take a ton of medication.  The occasional Alleve for pain.  Perhaps some Sudafed on the worst day of a cold.  Cough medicine if it’s bad enough that I’ll keep my husband up at night.  That sort of thing. It’s not a moral philosophy or anything, but I wanted to put our travel stash in context!

So what do we bring?  In general, it's the stuff that will get us through in case of the things that immediately impact our ability to travel: pain and upset stomach.  

  1. NSAIDs
  2. Immodium
  3. Alka-Seltzer for the plane – my husband insists that we both down it before takeoff to ward against pulmonary embolism.  A friend of ours actually had this happen to him, he’s ok now, but yikes.
  4. Advil with codeine – this is available over the counter internationally and I highly recommend you pick some up if you can.  It’s a game changer when it comes to food poisoning – the codeine picks up where the Immodium leaves off, and it also takes away that nonspecific “I’m gonna dieeeee” feeling.

We also bring a couple prescriptions when applicable to the trip:

  1. Cipro for trips where we will be far from proper medical care – this is an all-purpose powerful antibiotic, and it literally saved my life in Africa in 1995.
  2. Ambien for trips more than a couple of time zones away – it helps me get a few solid nights of sleep at the beginning of the trip so I can actually enjoy the destination.

Fortunately for me, there was a happy ending to this particular episode: I woke up yesterday (this?) morning in Hong Kong feeling about 95%, and enjoyed a perfectly normal flight home.  Thank you, modern medicine, for letting me flit somewhat irresponsibly around the globe and come out none the worse for wear at the end of it all!


Organizing My Exercise

I found fitness in my 30’s.   Better, as they say, late than never.

To give you some background, I danced all my life, which kept me in decent shape.  However, I was generally terrible at sports, hated running with the fire of a thousand suns, and had literally no clue about what to do in a gym.  I may even have been known to make fun of friends who were committed to their fitness routines…  So, when I graduated from college and my life as a dancer ended, things went sideways. I gained weight, I lost whatever strength I had, and I felt crappy. I tried to get into yoga a couple of times, but never stuck with it.

When I turned 30, my sister called me out.  She had became a volunteer ski patroller during college, something we had both always wanted to do, and I was both in awe and extremely jealous of her.  She finally said, “If I can do it, you can do it.  So do it.”

If there’s one thing I love it’s a challenge, so I was in.  My parents put me in ski lessons at age 5 and took us on family ski vacations every year, so I’ve always been a good skier.  But I knew that to become a patroller, I’d need the fitness to back up the skills.

So, on my sister’s recommendation, I started working out with Shelby Jacquez at Diakadi twice a week.  In the most calm, even-keeled way, she kicked my butt.  But the funny thing was that because I was working towards a goal with Shelby’s support and direction, I felt empowered instead of defeated.  And as I stuck with it and started lifting heavier things, I even wanted more – more core strength, more endurance, more flexibility.  Please note – this feeling surprised the crap out of me and still feels really weird, since so much of my previous identity was wrapped up in being an anti-workout person.

Post workout: tired and pissed off tend to look like the same expression.

Post workout: tired and pissed off tend to look like the same expression.

These days, the absolute set in stone non-negotiables are personal training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a pilates session on Wednesday.  During the fall and winter, I work on upping my cardio capacity for ski season by using the Nike Run Club app on three other days of the week.  During the spring and summer, I run much less often (ok, I still kind of loathe it) and instead fill in with a mix of cardio dance classes and long hikes with my husband and dog.

After my fastest 5K, on December 31, 2016.

After my fastest 5K, on December 31, 2016.

This schedule is sacred.  I have had the opportunity many times to work with clients during my previously planned workouts, but I’ve never taken it.   Not only does my fitness routine keep me in shape for ski season, but it also allows me to be a better organizer since I can lift and move things many people can’t.

Until I started weight training, I never thought of myself as a fit person.  I still sometimes catch myself thinking of myself as weak when faced with a new fitness challenge (like that time I tried Soul Cycle).  But to me the biggest benefit of finding fitness has been the confidence it’s given me.  Because I feel physically strong, I feel mentally strong as well.  Every time I do an exercise with a heavier weight, I finish feeling like I can take over the world.  It’s totally unlike my dance life, and still seems sort of alien, but the feeling is real!

Yes, I do wear a smaller clothing size than I did in my 20’s.  Yes, I weigh less.  Yes, my muscles are more defined.  But the thing I’ve realized is that those are just side effects, and they’re not enough to motivate me.  For me, my fitness routine has to have a practical reason and a goal that I’m working towards.

On that note, my husband and I have signed up to run the Napa Valley Turkey Chase 10K on Thanksgiving. Nothing gets me running like race fear! 


What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of (Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Photo courtesy of (Martin Grimes/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Louise Linton Said She "Sacrifices" More Than Other Taxpayers.  It's Not That Simple.

We could all use a refresher on the economics and political principles that underlay the latest scandal-of-the-week.  And if you, like me, post about fashion on Instagram, I hope you can join me in taking a renewed look at our content and remembering that the ability to wear a wide variety of things just for fun is an incredible privilege.

Photo courtesy of (Greg Finck for Sarah Haywood)

Photo courtesy of (Greg Finck for Sarah Haywood)

Weddings of the 0.01 Percent

Even though It's been over seven years since I planned my own wedding, I still love reading and talking about weddings - especially when there's as much juicy insider detail as there is in this article!  But as with so many things, I finished it remembering the sociological research which tells us that, past a certain point, money doesn't actually buy any additional happiness.

Photo courtesy of the (Alexandra Iokovleva/Getty)

Photo courtesy of the (Alexandra Iokovleva/Getty)

Why We Fell For Clean Eating

I completely cut out sugar and processed grains for a solid three months about five years ago, and continue to minimize both of those things as much as my inherent tendency to being a sugar monster allows.  I've never really thought of this strategy as a health panacea though - it's really a weight maintenance tool for me.  I generally avoid extremes, and this article reassures me that that's a wise strategy.

Photo courtesy of (Claire Zulkey)

Photo courtesy of (Claire Zulkey)

Shopping For Boys Cloths Is So Boring

This article also brings up an excellent point to me: why does "gender-neutral" skew so masculine?  My sister and her wife dress my niece in all kinds of things, from frilly dresses to onesies that are clearly from the boys' department, and that just seems like a progressive strategy.  But I wonder if they or anyone else would put boys in pink and glitter sometimes in the name of gender neutrality.  I wish they would!

What I'm Reading

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Photo courtesy of

The Definition of Hell for Each Meyers-Briggs Personality Type

Having gone to business school, Meyers-Briggs is A Thing. Every MBA can to rattle off their combo of letters.  I don't think this particular paradigm is the be-all, end-all - there's not a lot of room for gray area, for example.  But when this article made the rounds of my friends, I laughed and was shamed but just how true the prediction was for me!  (For the record: I'm an ESFJ.)  Don't know your Meyers-Briggs type?  There's a relatively quick test here.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Is Wellness a Fad, and Is It Over?

You may have already picked this up if you've been a reader for awhile: I am an extremely practical person.  I do not go in for much in the department of woo.  I do my very best not to judge those who do, because different people find comfort in all kinds of different things, but I am at heart something of a skeptic.  So, I have noticed, and been somewhat exhausted by, the wellness trend and am hopeful it might be moderating in the near future.

A Very Confusing Makeup Guide for Scientists

I'm not a scientist, but I can definitely identify with the women described in this story.  I'm pretty feminine, and I embrace that about myself - but I get frustrated with the still pervasive ideas that as a woman who cares about my appearance I'm too girly to be taken seriously or too shallow to be a feminist.  

This Startup May Have Just Solved The Biggest Problem In Plus Size Fashion

The biggest surprise to me about the plus size fashion industry to me continues to be: why does it barely exist?  The money is there!  I know the people who are willing to spend it!  The image the fashion industry continues to have of plus size women as poor, sad, and dumpy has to end.  Here's hoping Universal Standard is a runaway success!  I'm out of their range, but would love to hear from anyone who's tried them.

A Health Coach's Thoughts on Minimalism

Please meet my friend Tara Ward, a health coach, outdoorswoman, and all around beautiful person!  Tara and I met at a ladies’ ski day with mutual friends this winter and bonded over our love of the mountains and our complimentary work on helping people live happier lives.  We both believe in simplicity and balance, whether you’re talking about your own health or your home environment. I loved her thoughts on minimalism, which I’ve discussed a couple of times here as well, and wanted to share her perspective with you!

Photo courtesy of Tara Ward

Photo courtesy of Tara Ward

I recently watched a documentary that truly inspired me, Minimalism, a documentary about the important things. Minimalism is not about getting rid of all of your things. Minimalism itself is far more concerned with living intentionally, living elegantly through simplicity, and living meaningfully while enjoying the material possessions you own without giving those possessions too much significance.

With the start of spring and the task of “spring cleaning” looming over us, I’d like to share a few thoughts sparked by watching this film, some inspiration for your purging pleasure. I’ve always felt the need to have “less stuff”, I had this feeling that I didn’t own the stuff but the stuff owned me. I would never have enough of what I never really wanted, so I was not going to become happier by consuming more.  But for some reason I found myself consuming more things, seeking to fill some void. Then I started letting go. The more stuff I got rid of, the better I felt. Outer organization contributed to calming inner chaos. The stuff doesn’t fill the void, and clearing it can allow the space home to you, and the important things.

I had given too much meaning to the stuff I had bought, thinking it would bring me happiness or contentment. Happiness doesn’t work that way. Contentment is internal, and it is possible to be content with nothing OR with a room full of stuff. However, it is much easier to see what is important when you get the excess stuff out of the way.

Have you thought about purging, and living a more minimalistic life? Overwhelmed, many of us want to simplify, but we don’t even know where to start. Ironic, we consume the stuff, and then it consumes us.  There is nothing inherently wrong with owning “stuff”, but clearing some of the stuff can help us focus on everything that remains.

One of the filmmakers had what they call a “packing party”. This is where he packed up all of his belongings into labeled boxes for each room as if he were moving, and then kept the boxes in the middle of each room. Through the course of 3 weeks, anything he needed would be unpacked and put away in the house. After 3 weeks, 80% of his stuff was still in the boxes, to be given away. So this “packing party” is a bit radical, and very few people would be interested in doing the same thing, lets start small.

Try to keep only the things that you absolutely love in your space or that are absolutely necessary, and you will find that you’re about to rid yourself of a lot of unnecessary items.  Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, believe to be beautiful, or bring you joy.

Start in the easiest places. Identify some things that you’re certain are not adding value to your life. What unnecessary things are you holding on to “just in case”?

One fear many of us hold onto when it comes to letting go of things is that we may need them someday. This is the scarcity mindset, if you were able to attract these objects into your life at one time; you have the same ability to attract them into your life again, should you need them. Scarcity mindset says, “If I give something away, I will be in lack.” Abundance consciousness says “I can attract anything into my life that I need or desire.”

Look around your home, your car, and your office. Why are you holding on to so much stuff that doesn’t add value to your life? What would happen if you just let go of the excess? What benefits would you experience? How would it feel to have more time, more money, and more contentment? How would you feel to have a cleaner home, a clearer mind, a less stressful life?  Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you found value in many of the items cluttering your home.

Getting started is freeing, and I invite you to just that, getting started. Amid a sea of stuff, simplifying our lives keeps us from drowning. Beautiful thoughts from a beautiful film, and I will leave you this….

“Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”

Tara Ward is a Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, currently living and working in Tahoe City, CA, and yet thanks to the Internet, able to coach clients all over the world.  Tara is passionate about helping women find their true healthy potential, balance their lives, and live their most vibrant, energized, and joyful lives.  She is also a plant based chef teaching in the North Tahoe area.  Learn more at


What I'm Reading

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Can This Simple Tool Banish Cellulite?

You guys.  I just... I want this not to be too good to be true.  I've had cellulite as long as I can remember, and even at my absolute thinnest it remained present and accounted for.  I am loath to pay $89 for something that might become a useless piece of junk, but I really want this to work!

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Why J. Crew's Vision of Preppy America Failed

I am a prepster from way back, but like many of J. Crew's former core customers, I feel like I've matured away from the brand.  I had felt like I was maybe the only one and should be getting on board with GIANT ruffles, sparkly tutus, and boy pants, but it appears that a lot of consumers like me are part of J. Crew's larger struggle to stay relevant.

The Unhealthy Truth Behind 'Wellness' and 'Clean Eating'

My parents raised me to be a skeptic, and my grandma's favorite saying was "everything in moderation," so I haven't latched onto any of the various health fads that have happened during my lifetime in a serious way.   I'm counting myself lucky, and hoping that people who are starting to spiral into the world of health scare tactics can read this article and pull themselves out.

Why the 1980's Anne of Green Gables is Such a Hard Act to Follow

I adored the Anne of Green Gables books as a kid - I saw myself in her, and read the entire series so many times that my paperback copies have horribly bent spines and dozens of dog-eared pages.  And the mini-series holds a special place in my heart because I wasn't allowed to watch much TV growing up but my beloved babysitter let us see the whole thing.  Anne was and remains a revolutionary character and I'm thrilled she's getting a new vision, even if I'm afraid it won't stand up to the PBS original!

What I'm Organizing - Seeing Clearly

Fun fact: I wore glasses my entire childhood.  I was born with a condition called strabismus that basically means your eyes don't work together, which causes problems with 3D vision and coordination.  I had surgeries as a baby to cosmetically correct the problem and doctors recommended thick prism lenses to try to force my eyes to link up.

My, ahem, storied childhood athletic record gives it away: the glasses did not improve my hand-eye coordination.  Flying objects and I have always had a somewhat adversarial relationship.  And since I was only a little bit farsighted otherwise, and sick of wearing glasses, I put them down at age 16 and went without.

That is, until this year.  My primary care physician found out I hadn't had my eyes checked in nearly 20 years (whoops...) and sent me off for an eye exam.  Although I hadn't noticed any vision deterioration, her logic is sound: eyes can often give preliminary warning signs of serious health problems.

My doctor recommended City Optix, and I had a great experience there.  It's one stop shopping: there are two doctors upstairs, each of whom perform comprehensive eye exams, and downstairs is a full shop of eyewear that carries everything from basic to designer options.  I was in, examined, frames ordered, and out in about half an hour.  Plus, they have the machine that does an air puff in each eye instead of having to get the drops that dilate your eyes and force you to wear sunglasses around indoors like a weirdo for the rest of the day - an experience I recall detesting as a kid.

In the end, the doctor recommended that I use glasses when sitting in front of a screen, and for night driving.  I still have only mild farsightedness, and this recommendation is more to reduce eye strain than to correct any serious vision problem.

I figured that if I was going to get glasses, I might as well get cute ones.  After a little bit of trial and error, I settled on a pair of contemporary, yet classic Chloe frames.  I like that they make a style statement but remain simple and streamlined, and the lenses are large enough to balance well on my face (seriously, these are the biggest frames they had, I have a ginormous head).

The good thing is, when you take the time to carefully pick out something you love, you're more likely to use it.  This is most definitely the case with me and my glasses.  They've become part of my work routine: sit down at my desk, put my glasses on, open my notebook and email, and get going.  This association means that I feel ready to work every time I put them on, and so I somehow manage to concentrate better and for longer periods than I used to before I got them.  The brain works in mysterious ways, folks!


Wearable Tech That's Truly Wearable

In a city that’s constantly on the hunt for the next great technological breakthrough, I’m not an especially tech-y person.  I do like to stay current, but I’m not an early adopter, and aesthetic considerations are higher on my priority list than for many techies.  So, when wearable tech started to become A Thing a couple of years ago, I was skeptical.  Everything was clunky, intrusive, and clearly designed only to look cool on the arm of a twentysomething tech guy.

Then the Apple Watch came out, and I was intrigued.  There were stylish options (hello, Hermes leather strap!) and serious functionality.  However, once I saw Apple Watches in action, I was immediately turned off.  Instead of reducing the interaction between person and phone, the watch just creates another way to disconnect from immediate surroundings.  If you find it off putting for someone to trail off mid-conversation when their phone vibrates, it’s even weirder when they violently glance down at their watch and start tapping it!

For me, the entire point of a wearable device is to enable myself to stay present wherever I am without missing anything important.  So, I was excited to discover Ringly’s first product, the smart ring.  It seemed to have everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t.  The only thing stopping me from placing an order was the fact that I knew I wouldn’t wear a large cocktail ring daily. 

Ringly’s next product launch, on the other hand, made perfect sense for me. I already wear bangle bracelets and/or a watch almost daily, so I got on the waiting list for the smart bracelet immediately.  After a couple of setbacks – original delivery was scheduled for September 2016, but hey, even Space X has to push back new products – my bracelet arrived last month.

The package opened...

...and unboxed.

Setup was quick and easy.  You download the Ringly app, charge the bracelet in its little charging box, connect via Bluetooth, and off you go.  The organizer in me was a little annoyed that the product comes packaged with a logo reusable bag – don’t we all have a million of those at this point?  But from a branding perspective, I can see why they included this particular piece of marketing collateral!

This cute box is also the charger, with a cord that plugs into any USB port.

The bracelet works exactly as advertised: it tracks steps (one click link to your iOS Health app if you are so inclined) and buzzes and/or flashes light to notify you of something that needs your attention.  The best part is that something is entirely up to you.  I have mine set up to alert me for just three things: phone calls, texts, and calendar appointments (with a special additional light flash if it’s my husband!).  I might have been tempted to add other apps, but read online reviews that after about four different kinds of taps on your wrist it becomes difficult to keep everything straight.

Bangle bracelet and breton stripes, can't go wrong.

And seriously, don’t discount how pretty and well made this thing is.  I’ve gotten several compliments on my Ringly bracelet as a piece of jewelry, and people are stunned to discover that it’s actually a piece of wearable tech.

As you can see if you scroll through my archives, I rarely recommend products – I try to practice what I preach in terms of thoughtful consumption!  But if you’re looking for a piece of wearable tech that will give you a little extra help with style, you should check out Ringly’s line of rings and bracelets.  I’m a fan, and this is not a sponsored post!