Style*Mind*Chic Life Turns 5!! [Reflections on Blogging]

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It's hard to believe that StyleMindChic Life began 5 years ago today. I'll never forget the excitement, and fear, of pushing the publish button on this tiny first post. I think it is safe to say it takes time to find your voice as a blogger. I know it did for me. There are still times, though less frequently now, that I take a step back to rediscover my voice. As with any creative project, a blog is chameleon and changes over time. In the big picture, it is because we change over time and the blog is a reflection, a visual journey of change. My little blog has grown from a few posts on Blogspot to a full lifestyle website housing 500+ posts of my lifestyle/travel blog, my online StyleMindChic Boutique and now the addition of Curated Travel Services.

If you are new to Style*Mind*Chic Life:

5 Things You May Not Know About Me

1 - The name for my blog happened completely by accident. I wanted to create a blog with a blend of style and mindfulness, with a nod to my career in school psychology. When I tried various versions of style and mind on Blogspot, my original blog platform, all those names were taken. I added the 'chic' (not chick; by the way) just to grab a title that day.

2 - Though it surprises some people, I'm an introvert at heart. I'm a fairly shy person and though I love gatherings and parties- known as the life of the party on occasion - I need a day or two of quiet time to rebalance myself. It's interesting to note that many bloggers have an introverted side to them. Can you relate to being an introvert often functioning as an extrovert?

3 - I'm proud to say I'm married for the THIRD time. YES!! I'm owning it -- and this 'three's a charm' marriage to Scott has lasted 16, frequently blissful years. For those of us who experience heartbreak, loss and divorce, I understand the journey. For those of us who remarry, after loss or divorce, I consider us optimistic and hopeful.

4 - I was adopted and found my birth family, including a full-blooded sister and brother, twenty years ago. It's been an amazing journey for me. I started this blog with a goal to share more of that story and I feel like this is the year.

5 - I made a bold move by retiring from my 33 years in education last summer. It has been empowering, and also nerve-wracking at times. I'm reinventing myself at age 55, and trusting my instincts that the timing is right. I'm now working from my laptop on my lifestyle blog, my online boutique and my newly launched Curated Travel Consultant service, and that is my dream come true.

A few of my favorite images over the years:

If you are a blogger, you can probably relate to this. Each time a blogger clicks the button to publish a post, we are putting another piece of ourselves out into the world. We are opening ourselves up to words of appreciation, a meeting of the minds, constructive criticism or...crickets (the worst!). Blogging has expanded my world with amazing connections, brand collaborations and opportunities I could have never imagined.

I am grateful for you, the readers and supporters of StyleMindChic Life. Thank you for reading, commenting, emailing and for continuing the conversation. I learn so much from you, and you enrich my life exponentially. Thank you for shopping with me over at StyleMindChic Boutique and allowing me the pleasure of planning unforgettable travel experiences for you and your families at Curated Travel. We continue to grow and change at StyleMindChic Life.  Look for more inspiration for the curated life -  travel and style  - in the coming months and years.

If you are a blogger, how has your blog journey changed over time?

Cheers to you for being here and cheers to another 5!

xx,

Globetrotting in Style with UncommonGoods

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Globetrotting with UncommonGoods

As an avid traveler and travel consultant, it's no surprise that I'm intrigued by globes. In fact, the only collection I allow myself to cultivate is my growing assortment of globes. I'm on the lookout for unique color schemes and functionality. One of my favorite gifts to give fellow globetrotters is a globe. I received the beautiful white and gold number above from my step-daughter, Briana.

I recently received the night sky constellation globe above, a vintage piece from my growing up years, from my mom. I've been intrigued by this globe for most of my life so this is a special new addition.

 

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We picked up one of my favorite family traditions, that I am passing on, from Scott's parents. They marked every travel destination they visited on this globe with a self-adhesive jewel. You may be able to see some of the jewels in the image above. No doubt, I was thrilled when we inherited their globe.

Scott and I are gearing up to create our own globe to mark our travel destinations It has not always been easy to find globes, and maps, with the functionality I want. In searching for globes during the holidays, as gifts for my well-traveled nephews, I was reminded of the unique finds at Uncommon Goods. They have a fantastic selection and these are just a few of the well-traveled items I spotted.

 

Whether it's a corkboard globe, a scratch-off map, map coasters, or a pillow of where you fell in love from the home collection, there is a great selection. The Anniversary Pushpin World Map is customizable for names and is the perfect anniversary gift for the well-traveled couple. You will find additional ideas for anniversary gifts on the site.  I also spotted the customizable Map Bracelet for her from the artistic and unique gift collection.

I've been a fan since the first catalog arrived in my mailbox years ago. The products, gathered from around the world, have a unique vibe, just as the brand name implies.  I appreciate the brand's commitment to sharing the artistry of local and global designers, as well as forming a community that revels in design and the stories that go into creating each piece. Along with showcasing artisans and artists, founder Dave Bolotsky, has a strong focus on creating an enriching work environment for all employees. Since day one the goal has been to remain sustainable and to minimize the impact on the environment as they continue to do from their happy, uncommon workplace in Brooklyn, New York. It's always a treat to share brands that I believe in and this is one of them. Learn more about the Uncommon Mission and shop UncommonGoods.

 

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Are you a collector?

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Thank you for supporting the brands that support Style*Mind*Chic Life.

This is a SPONSORED POST in Collaboration with UncommonGoods

Warm Wishes for the Holidays (+ My Husband's Christmas Obsession!)

 

WARM WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

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That's my husband, Scott, tripping the 'light fantastic' at our house for the holidays. Every time I take a peek there seems to be a new element to his Christmas creativity. I can't imagine what will happen when he retires. You may just have to look for us on the 'The Great Christmas Light Fight'. I'll agree, if Carter Oosterhouse is our judge, just saying! ;)

 

 

The count down is ON!!! We have finally finished our last-minute shopping and gift wrapping. Are you done, too??  We will be traveling AND hosting for the holiday season this year. We intend to celebrate with many branches of our family and enjoy every moment.

Thank you for stopping by Style*Mind*Chic Life this busy season.

Wishing you an unforgettable holiday with those you love.

Where will you be spending your holidays??

xx,

Curated Travel

Christmas in Paris 2012

Decking the Halls + the Best Way to Find Christmas Cheer!

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Have you noticed? The holidays are a bit bittersweet for many of us. The longer we live more the reality of life - loss and heartbreak - seems to walk with us. This can add an extra layer to the holidays that is not exactly festive. I've had my share of blue Christmases including miscarriages, bad breakups and the loss of my dear dad. I've written about my best advice when feeling blue in this post. Though I'm having a pretty great holiday so far, I'm keenly aware of feelings of stress, sadness and loss in many of those I care about.

My talented friend, Deverie, is a well-known interior designer in Chico. She is also a member of my upstart FEISTY group for female entrepreneurs, and a trusted friend. We met while volunteering at the Celebration event for breast cancer survivors two years ago and have enjoyed getting to know each other. We just clicked --some friendships are so easy!

In browsing through Facebook one evening I read that Deverie's  mom, fighting a long, courageous battle with cancer, had been in the hospital for an extended period. As a new retiree/travel consultant, I am blessed with a newly flexible schedule. I knew that Deverie had a lot on her plate so I reached out to see if I could help her with errands, meals, sitting with her mom, or whatever she needed.

To my surprise and delight, Deverie took me up on my offer of help. I had no idea the help needed would be a decor project, holiday decor, for one of her best clients. I can't tell you how much fun we had with this project. We started at Michaels to gather holiday supplies. I arrived first so I gathered a few different looks, not knowing what design scheme would work with her client's style. When Deverie arrived, we went to town! An hour later we came out with three overflowing carts filled with decor elements and a huge appetite. Who knew that sushi and sauvignon blanc were an essential part of a design project?

The next day we put the design ideas into place. Deverie worked her magic and I walked around with a huge grin thinking, "This is my work day?". This is a far cry from my previous career as a school psychologist. In fact, if I had not gone into the education field, many years ago, design would have been right at the top of my list for a profession.

A two-story banister, mantle and centerpiece took us several hours to complete. We considered it part design and part cardio for the day. In the end, we were very pleased with the result for the client. We went for a natural but luxe look. I love the frosty needles we added to the gardens. The candles with ombre sparkle are a set of six from Michaels that are on a remote. The touch of silver and white hydrangea is unexpected for typical holiday decor but the client wanted something a bit unusual. According to Deverie, the life of a designer is not as glamorous as it may look from the outside, but the creative aspect is truly satisfying. One tip from Deverie is to always start with the biggest, or most important part of the project, not the easiest one. If you run out of time, or materials, this method will give you some options as you work your way through a design project.

In the end, we had a festive decor scheme for the client, Deverie had an extra pair of hands to lighten her load and I worked for a day in a field that has always interested me. A surefire way to feel merry this season? It's simple, reach out to help someone else, it works every time. The best news is Deverie's mom, in a nearly miraculous recovery, has been released from the hospital and is able to enjoy the holidays at home with her loving family.

For more on Deverie Jarrett Design

 

More design inspiration from my Holiday Style Pinterest Board:

 

 

 

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Our FEISTY Group (it's growing!)

I want to thank my blogger friend, Nancy from StoneCrop Sister, for the mention on her blog. If you haven't check out her stylish, thought-provoking blog, do so. It's a must read for me. Thanks for the blog love, Nancy!

Thank you for stopping by today and WARM wishes for your holidays!

xx,

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Curated Travel Services 

Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique

Girlfriends' Getaway to San Francisco Holiday Style

Classic San Francisco Bay views! #wanderlust #sanfrancisco #views #travel #travelgram #california #traveltheworld

Girlfriends' Getaway to San Francisco Holiday Style

I enjoyed a holiday getaway to San Francisco with girlfriends recently. Though we were there on part business, part pleasure, we also celebrated 25 years of friendship. The three of us met the first semester of graduate school and have stayed in touch through many new chapters of life over the last 25 years. We always pick up the conversation just like we had spoken yesterday. Isn't that the way it is with long-time friends?

As per usual, when the three of us get together there are hours of catching up, conversation and lots of laughter. It struck me, 25 years later, that we have moments of remembering each other's previous lives better than we might remember our own. There were several of "those moments" of recollection and remembering. What a gift to have friends that remember our journey through the years. There is always delicious food, this time dinner at a local french bistro and a lengthy lunch at my longtime favorite Rotunda at Neiman Marcus. We caught a fashion show at Sax Fifth Avenue (with small bites and champagne) and did some holiday shopping at Union Square. It was just what the doctor ordered for a relaxing girlfriends' getaway to the city.

 

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As I mentioned earlier, Gretchen had an important appointment in town. In preparation, she booked us into the Victorian 'penthouse' suite at the Stanyan Park Hotel with a full kitchen, dining room, sitting room with two bedrooms.  It was perfect for an authentic San Francisco stay and would also be ideal for a family getaway to the city. It's bordering Golden Gate Park near Haight-Ashbury and the chic boutiques and cafes of Cole Street.

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Gretchen is on her second kidney transplant, given via a cross kidney donation by her son, Ryan, to another family who in turn donated a well-suited kidney to Gretchen. She and Ryan were the first family members to have this groundbreaking surgery in California. As she attended her yearly appointment Kathryn and I took a walk in Golden Gate park. A couple of hours later we received news that Gretchen's health is excellent. A wonderful report for our dear friend and the gift of life by her son, Ryan Ramirez. Read more of their story in the Bluffs Magazine.

 

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Photo Credit: Angelia Hansen of One Good Shot Photography

 

The Details on a Getaway to San Francisco

To Stay: Stanyan Park Hotel 

To Dine: Zazie is my latest find on Cole Street. We enjoyed delicious, cozy french fare and wonderful service on this fall evening. They are also famous for a fantastic brunch menu.

To Shop, Sip and Savor: Neiman Marcus and The Rotunda

 

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I loved every minute of our girlfriends' getaway to the city. Feeling grateful for such dear friends, our years of history and fantastic news!

Do you have any holiday travels planned?

Things are busy in the travel world and it's the perfect time to book spring and summer travel.

Curated Travel 

xx,

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Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique

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Kicking off the Holidays: A Blogger Meet-Up, Shopping and Magical Sunsets

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KICKING OFF THE HOLIDAYS!!!

Hello friends! I'm just back from a girlfriends' getaway to San Francisco and am quickly jumping into the Thanksgiving preparations as most of us are this season. I wore a few of my favorites yesterday for a blogger meet-up and some shopping at one of my favorite places.

 

Look who's in town!! One of my favorite bloggers, and fellow entrepreneurs, Dale Janee of the stylish Savvy Spice blog and CEO of one of my favorite brands at StyleMindChic Boutique, Savvy Sleepers Satin Pillowcases. Dale regularly visits family in Chico and it's always fun to catch up with her over coffee.

Next off, it was a Thanksgiving food run at my favorite market in town, Trader Joe's.

 

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INSTAGRAM:

Dear Trader Joes, When I moved to Chico from SF Bay Area, 16 years ago, I desperately missed you. When you finally opened your doors in Chico years later I had a lump of happiness in my throat on that first day. 👏 My favorite foods were back!! I told my husband I would sign up for another 5 years of life in Chico. 💖Joe, you make me a better cook, a better hostess and make life much more delicious! Thanks for being YOU, for being here in Chico and for those new coco glazed roasted almonds we discovered yesterday. I have a crush! 😍 #chicoca #traderjoes#traderjoeslove #foodie #traderjoesflowers

 

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This view, one of those magical November sunsets, greeted me as I arrived home from San Francisco. It is though the world is bathed in pink and gold light. I can only describe it as a magical moment and I try to capture it with my camera (or iPhone) as best I can.

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving at home this year, with a smaller group than usual. It is yet to be determined exactly how many we will have but I know it will be a wonderful day. I love the simplicity of Thanksgiving. Thankfulness, good food, a pretty table and loved ones surrounding it.

 

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It's a busy time of year. I know I'm struggling to get around to comment on my blog reads and you may be too. Just in case you happen by StyleMindChic today, I want to wish you a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I hope it is filled to the brim with family and friends, delicious bites, old traditions, maybe some delightful new ones, and a feeling of being surrounded by love.

I'm thankful to you for stopping by today! Are you celebrating Thanksgiving where you are?

What are your plans for the holiday?

xx,

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Black Friday Sales are just around the corner at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique!

(image taken at Harrod's Department Store in London 2012)

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Celebration 2016 Event - Celebrating Life Beyond Breast Cancer

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 Celebration 2016

Showcasing the beauty, grace and resilience of life beyond breast cancer.

 

 

Appropriately, the showering skies cleared to offer a canopy of pink, puffy clouds to kick off the Celebration 2016 event in Chico, California, in late October. The community gathered to support and showcase women, and men, who are thriving beyond a diagnosis of breast cancer.  The highly anticipated evening, a fashion show and fundraiser which began in 2009, has raised over $66,000 dollars for various cancer support organizations in Chico.

As we arrived at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, a golf cart driver chauffeured us from parking lot to the event, where we were welcomed by a host of fashionable volunteers, including the founder, Charlene Mikeska. She is the heart and soul of the Celebration, as a breast cancer survivor herself, Charlene knows the importance of embracing the grace, beauty, and resilience that each of the models possesses. 

The theme for the fundraising event was pure Hollywood glamor. The event space was transformed into an elegant supper club fit for the stars.

The models, along with their firefighter escorts from Chico Fire, performed lively numbers to songs such as Vogue, Puttin' on the Ritz, Pretty Woman, Hey Big Spender, and R-e-s-p-e-c-t. The glowing faces say it all!

An especially touching moment was a presentation by Samantha Cosentino, a beautiful model in the Celebration 2014, and currently a co-chair for this event. Samantha shared that she tested positive for the BRCA gene and has several members of her family, including her aunt and her grandfather (both pictured), who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her first diagnosis with breast cancer came at the young age of 22. Unexpectedly, Samantha was diagnosed with a brain tumor, a recurrence of her breast cancer, just a couple of months ago. She has since undergone surgery, then radiation, and still managed to co-chair the event. She is looking toward the future with excitement, and a wedding to plan, as she is recently engaged to her longtime love.

 

For the grand finale scene, the models were asked to choose someone special to escort them down the runway, dressed in fine fashion. Some chose a spouse, a family member or medical professional who guided them through their journey of recovery. Several others chose to be escorted by those handsome firefighters that support the Celebration. Why not, right? There wasn't a dry eye in the house by this time.

The community volunteers graciously come out in full force to create this event. From hair and makeup to clothing and accessories for the fashion show, local businesses shared the love. Local vendors provided a delicious sit-down dinner, drinks, decor, flowers, lighting, staging, sound and a live band, Decades, for dancing after the show. Our hats are off to this amazing community of Chico!

 

A few final glimpses....

 

For a glimpse of Celebration 2014, and the history of the event, Celebration 2014.

To learn more, donate or attend the next event, please visit the website, Celebration Chico.

 

 

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Inspired by the beauty, grace, resilience, and generosity witnessed on this night.

xx,

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Feel free to share and save the images.

Please credit Style*Mind*Chic Life and link to this post when possible.

 

I am pleased to donate 10% of profits from my online Style*Mind*Chic Boutique to the Celebration Fund through the end of the year.

Disclosure: I was asked to attend the Celebration 2016 and blog about my experience. Scott and I purchased tickets to support the cause. 

Fall Getaway to Lake Tahoe and a Road Trip Reminder

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Fall Getaway to Lake Tahoe

Scott and I planned a quick getaway to Lake Tahoe a couple of weekends ago. The weather had been warm and sunny for weeks here in Northern California. We envisioned brilliant sunshine, with colorful fall leaves bouncing off the blue waters of an iconic Lake Tahoe fall. As the weekend drew closer a series of heavy rain storms was predicted. I didn't even pull out my camera, thinking the images wouldn't be great in the wind and rain. This was the view from the rest stop on our way over Donner Pass.

 

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We were headed to Lake Tahoe to meet up with my mom, and stepfather, Hal. We made plans to meet at Incline Village, on the north side of the lake, for lunch. As it turns out, the iPhone surprised me. I snapped this image on my iPhone on the way into the restaurant to meet them. When viewed through Instagram it looks like a watercolor. I can only attribute that to the rain.

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Another Instagram image

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Lake Tahoe has a natural beauty each season of the year. Fall is about crisp mountain air and golden leaves, winter is a cozy wood burning fire and a snowy white wonderland, spring is delicate flowers blooming after the winter snows, and summer is al fresco dining, picnics, hikes and sunny boat rides.

This is the beach at Incline from Lone Eagle Grille where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

 

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We enjoyed our lunch at Lone Eagle Grill so much that we returned for dinner and live music in the lounge.

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Despite the weather, we had a wonderful time visiting with my mom, Jeri, and my step-father, Hal. They had a luxurious 2 bedroom suite at the Hyatt Residence Club/High Sierra Lodge for a few days. I highly recommend this resort for a Lake Tahoe getaway. If you are considering a vacation to Lake Tahoe I would be happy to set up a getaway for you. Contact me at Curated Travel: Great Escape.

The steady rain, and a roaring fire, made our Saturday night stay with them very cozy. These 'newlyweds' are going strong and we always enjoy our time with them.

 

 

Roadtrip Reminder: Our three-hour road trip to Lake Tahoe was somewhat eventful. As we were leaving the house I ran back inside to grab a bag of toasted almonds. Since we were meeting mom and Hal for lunch I didn't think of bringing any additional supplies or food. The trip went well until we saw a wall of brake lights on Interstate 80 high on the pass. Coincidently, we also saw the exit to a rest stop at the same time. Thankfully, we had all the facilities and a beautiful view (see top image) while we waited the two hours for a jack-knifed truck to be cleared. Needless to say, we were hungry by the time we arrived at Lake Tahoe. We always carry  water with us in the car, but I also advise additional snacks, blankets, chargers, a radio with batteries, all of which will come in handy if you become stopped for any length of time. On our way home from Tahoe we drove through a brief, surprise, snow storm. Thankfully all drivers slowed way down over the Donner Summit but it was nerve-wracking, to say the least. Our trip served to remind me to be prepared for anything when setting out on a road trip, especially in fall and winter. Read additional road trip travel tips from AAA.

If you are interested in a vacation to Lake Tahoe I would be happy to set up a getaway for you. I highly recommend this resort, Hyatt Residence Club/High Sierra Lodge as well as several others in the Incline Village area. Contact me at Curated Travel: Great Escape for more information.

 

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Is it feeling like fall where you are today?

xx,

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Curated Travel 

 

Curated Collections

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FEISTY - Lively*Courageous*Determined* - Female Entreprenuers

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The one benefit to insomnia is the occasional brainstorm that hits you like a lightening bolt. I had one of those moments, in the wee hours of the morning, about a month ago. I was thinking about a need I had, and I figured out a way to solve it. It was beautifully simple!
If you follow my blog, you know I've recently gone through a major life transition--retirement from school psychologist to full-time entrepreneur. As I worked in my home office each day (my dream come true!), I started feeling the need to connect with other creative, talented, entrepreneurial women in Chico. I feared I would be working in isolation, which could be a lonely experience, down the road. I wanted a support network, so I created one.
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Founded on the idea that there is strength in numbers and that sharing support and resources only enhances the ability to feel successful and fulfilled. I made a mental list of several women I had wanted to connect with but had previously not had the time with my career schedule. Why not pull us all together?
Bright and early the next morning, I logged on to Facebook and clicked on 'Create New Group'. I followed the directions, named my group, and invited several women on Facebook to join. I named it FEISTY for 'Female Entrepreneurs Inspiring Success to You".
I added this description:

"I have recently made the leap to being a full-time entrepreneur with my curated lifestyle brand - Style*Mind*Chic Life (blog, e-boutique + new travel agency). Now that I'm working from home each day, I'm feeling a strong desire to connect with other creative, talented women who are making their dreams come true as self-made entrepreneurs (that would be YOU!). We may have different niches, yet the business savvy and the resources we share are very similar. There is strength in numbers, sharing the knowledge and sharing the love in support of each other and our business endeavors. My hope is that we can share ideas, tips, events, opportunities and ask questions in this FB group as well as the occasional "FEISTY" happy hour in person. Cheers!"

 

I was a little nervous when I pushed the button to create the group, but I also knew I had nothing to lose; neither did they.

We only had much to gain.

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Within minutes I watched our FEISTY group become a reality as women accepted the group and shared that they were excited and flattered to join.

Female empowerment in real-time. In our private Facebook group, we shared ideas, resources and a desire to get together in person. We met at a local cafe', Bidwell Perk, the next week. I profoundly remember that warm afternoon with the crackling, electric energy around the table surrounded by these lovely faces. Connecting, reconnecting, meeting for the first time and discovering so much in common. We shared our stories, our goal, ambitions, roadblocks, ideas, solutions, and many, many laughs. Isn't that so often the way it goes when women gather?  I'm so grateful we snapped a photo of our first get together.

 

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That's the beauty of creating a group like this on Facebook, you can invite anyone you know, or want to connect with, who has a profile. They can choose to be a part, or not, and that's okay.  I'm grateful to Facebook, and Mark Zuckerburg, for making this kind of empowerment possible. And I want to thank these women, my #FEISTY friends, for proving my suspicion that there is tremendous empowerment when we gather together.

 

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We are FEISTY ...

"lively, determined, and courageous".

Though our group has an entrepreneurial theme, I have adjusted the definition of FEISTY to reach a wider range of women.

FEISTY

Female Empowerment Inspiring Success Through You

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Our second gathering--another memorable evening!

It only takes a few minutes to start a group, but the power generated can build a lifetime of friendship and empowerment. In times like these, I can't imagine a better way to lift women up than to create a supportive network of empowerment.

If you have a need, don't hesitate, start a group! join our network for empowering women. #FEISTY

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Even if your life is full to overflowing, but you know someone who is lonely, struggling, going through a life transition, looking for resources, please share this post. My hope is that eventually, we will have an entire network of FEISTY chapters.

I will also add that I was not the person feeling like the leader, the one in the know, the one with all the info and resources to share when I started our group. I had a  need and an idea, yet the sheer act of starting the group felt empowering to me. It's a brilliant concept in that way.

If you want to start a FEISTY group, please leave a comment below, or email me, and let me know where you are located. Name your group #FEISTY(Your city) as I did with #FEISTYChico. If we have more than one chapter in a city we can number them. This way we can all be part of the same network of women empowering women. Just imagine the amazing connections we will make. The time feels right for us to feel empowered and I, for one, am passionate about it.

 

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If you think this idea could empower someone you care about, please share this post.

If you want to start a group, you won't regret it!

#FEISTY

Let's keep the conversation going!

xx,

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Celebrating New Chapters and a Feature on 'Dreams on 34th Street'!

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Celebrating New Chapters!

I'm a big believer in celebrating the milestone events in life. It's not about how much money is spent or expensive gifts, it's about marking that moment in time. Just taking a few moments to acknowledge the efforts and the accomplishment. Last weekend things finally calmed down around here. Scott and I took a few moments on Saturday to enjoy the calm, a warm evening poolside, a grilled steak and a bottle of champagne. I don't always dress up for a poolside soiree for two, but I was in the mood for a pretty dress and fun faux pearls. The flip flops keep it from being all too precious for a Saturday evening at home. Can you believe this was the first day of October?

 

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"It's not a party until a champagne cork is floating in the pool!"

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We had the makings for a celebratory evening at home that cost almost nothing. Scott toasted the launch of my new travel business and my first official travel clients: booking an Eastern Caribbean cruise!

And the next day all "hail" broke loose in Chico.

Speaking of celebrating, I had a wonderful surprise in my inbox yesterday. My blog friend, Lynne of Dreams on 34th Street, featured StyleMindChic Life, my boutique and new curated travel business on her blog. I am so honored to be part of her newly launched, "Share the Muse" series in the post "Share the Muse! Style.Mind.Chic Lifestyle". I've been inspired by Lynne, and her beautiful blog with a french twist, for many years. Be sure to add her to your must read blog list!

 

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Finally, there is one more day of the giveaway and you can enter on this post,

Introducing Curated Travel - Great Escape Travel Agency + a Giveaway!

xx,

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Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique

PS-Gift Cards are BACK!!!

 

Keep Your Eye on the Prize - Retirement [Pt. 4]

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Keep Your Eye on the Prize: Retirement

I've heard that you truly feel retired on the first day you would have been back at work had you not retired. August 8th was that day for me. It felt a bit like I was playing hookey from school. There was also a sneaking feeling of elation, a surreal quality and the limitless possibilities of being able to reinvent my day-to-day life. Rather than retirement, I'm looking at this chapter as a reinvention. Though I'm remaining busy, with two websites and launching a new business, I now have the luxury of time, which is a pretty precious commodity. I will not confirm or deny whether there was a happy dance for 1 that day.

With the final decision to retire, the end of the school year, celebrations, and our trip to Italy, I feel like the last three months are a bit of a blur. I do want to back up just a bit to my final chapter before retirement and share an amazing evening with you. For years Scott and I have hosted holiday parties, and end-of-year parties, for our teams in education. My end of the year party for my team, with teachers, clinicians, admins and support staff, was extra special.  As I wrote in this post back in June, I think we were all feeling the love on that night. We celebrated the success of our programs, our students, and our collaborations over many years. We did some important work together, and it is worthy of celebration.

 

The bitter with the sweet

For each of us the path to making big life changes, like retirement, is unique. For some, the process is as simple as filling out paperwork and setting a date to pack up the office. As it turns out, my path to retirement was not an easy one. Behind the scenes, there were negotiations about benefits that were stressful and left me feeling unsupported at best; disillusioned at worst. I received kind support and care from dear friends, as well as people I didn't necessarily expect it from; but the reverse was also true. I came home one day to find that our home almost burned down (you can still see the scorched earth in the images). But so much worse, during that same time frame, our friends Maryanne and Brooks--Maryanne is principal of our school--suffered a tragic loss that left us all aching for their family and trying to help pick up the pieces at work. The end of the school year was a time tinged with sadness and stress; my road to retirement was definitely bittersweet.

Celebrate

In the end, I knew I had made the right choice about my decision to retire now. It was time to celebrate and move forward. One of my favorite moments was graduation for our adult special education students. My insightful, kind-hearted teachers surprised me with a special award at the graduation attended by students, teachers, administrators and board members. That moment of thoughtfulness and appreciation, surrounded by our wonderful students and teams, was unforgettable for me.

Now that I've had some time to reflect on the monumental life change that is retirement, I want to celebrate the people who have been the most involved in my career. Looking at these happy faces, reliving that amazing night, makes me smile all over again. Scott is well-known for his song parodies and wrote a clever one for me to the tune of "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers. Loved it!! This party started at 4:30 and for a few of us, ended about 2:15 am. Special educators need to blow off a little steam every now and then! ;)

I kept telling myself that if I could make it through those last tumultuous months, I would finally be able to relax and let it all sink in.

 

I kept my eye on the prize.

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Celebrating with my team was one way of keeping my eye on the prize. There were also a few special lunches with dear friends and one amazing celebratory girls' night out on the town as my career wound down. One final way I kept my eye on the prize was to visualize arriving in Positano. For months, I knew I would have miles to tread, stressful meetings, difficult negotiations, painful goodbyes and new milestones to meet before I would be truly retired from my 33 years in education. As you can imagine, I breathed a big sigh of relief at this moment in Positano in July.

 

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 I've heard from a number of readers who are verging on retirement or other big life changes. It is such an exciting time.

Are you keeping your eye on the prize?

xx,

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The latest collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique!

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How I Made the Final Decision - Retirement [Pt. 3]

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How I Made the Decision to Retire

I received this bouquet of lilies at my office on my last day of work. Though Scott was out of town at a conference, these beauties made a celebratory statement from him. My friends at work oohed and ahhed over them with me, just like in the movies. They were the most beautiful lilies I have ever seen, large and fragrant, without a flaw. I will miss this little office, with my Parisian collage, and the years of meaningful conversations with inspiring colleagues and friends that still echo in the walls.

Though I had been on the countdown, as I packed up my office, it felt completely surreal. Friends were dropping by, last-minute details were finalized and the day simply flew by. My car was jam-packed with boxes, books, and files representing my career.  I didn't know how I was going to get the flowers home. In the last moment, I spotted my small Ikea wastebasket in the corner and realized it was the perfect fit to protect the blooms (and the water in the vase). I'll always remember that moment, racing around with gorgeous blooms in a trash bucket, smiles, and a few tears, shared with some of my favorite people as I sped away for the last time.

 

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Since I published the first post on my retirement, I've received many comments, emails and tweets from readers who are also preparing for retirement in the near future. It IS an exciting time of life, I promise you. Most of us look forward to retirement, a change of pace or a new chapter, and daydream about it from early in our careers (especially on a tough day). Figuring how to do it is the tricky part. I know it was for me. Scott and I had many conversations, scheduled several "business" meetings, crunched endless numbers, bumped up our savings, made projections and met with professionals for advice. I carried a notebook with notes, figures, and timelines around with me for months, in case a question would come up. This all weighed heavily on my mind.

 

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Seek Clarity

When I'm wrestling with a decision, I usually seek pen and paper, or a keyboard. One sleepless morning, tossing and turning with the weight of this decision, I penned this from somewhere deep inside, as I imagined the future.

When I retire...

  • I will never advise staff on when to call the sheriff on a 3rd-grade student that threatened to shoot her classmates.
  • I will never have to hold an IEP meeting with a parent who threatened to kick our teacher (and the principal) in the “f*@#ing’ head” and hold a meeting with security on call.
  • I will never have to support a parent who was so physically abused by her emotionally disturbed 4th-grade son that she had to renege on his adoption. His previous living situations included living in a dog run by the river. 
  • I will never have to lead an IEP meeting with districts/agencies fighting over who has to pay for a student to move from juvenile hall to a group home when no relative will claim him.
  • I will never wonder if we did enough to keep a 10th grader from attempting to hurl herself off the “green bridge” in a suicide attempt.
  • I will never have a student attempt to stab his favorite teacher with scissors and knives in class.
  • I will never have to worry about a parent, or ED student, coming to school with guns. (Years ago a threatening parent came to school looking for me. He wore a black 10-gallon hat, but I’m unsure if he had a gun. Thankfully our custodian is a superhero and headed him off.)
  • I will never hear a siren or see a police car in front of the school and race to see what is happening in our classroom.
  • I will never have to witness a 3rd-grade female student being hog tied by the sheriff and put into the patrol car.
  • I will never have to track a helicopter across the 4-lane highway as we search for an eloping, traumatized student.
  • I will never have to deal with a student raging outside the classroom, trying to break down the trees and calling his clinician, one of the best people I know, a “F*@#ing Bitch”.

My list was more about what I would no longer be doing, felt I should no longer do, after my 33 years in education. In the last 16 years, working in county programs for students with mental health challenges (classified as emotional disturbance/ED), I experienced the highest of highs with my teachers/clinicians when students succeeded--and there were many highs. Our programs were exemplary countywide. The list above was more of the lowest lows that are also part of the job. For 16 years...

As I re-read it, with a few tears, I knew my decision was made.

 

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Imagine the Future

From my journal:

There are days, and sleepless nights, when I feel the weight of change, even good change, and I realize how anxious change makes me. My career in education/school psychology has defined me in so many ways for the last 33 years.

*Who will I be when I don't have that title and sense of professionalism any longer?

*Who will I be when my primary goal is not caring for the well-being of others but more for myself and those I love?

*Who will I be without the daily contact with my beloved friends and colleagues at work?

*Who will I be when left to my own devices each day?

*What will this decision allow me to do?

  • To pursue my passions of creativity, travel, entrepreneurship.
  • To spend my days doing what I love and not putting out fires and managing crisis situations.
  • To have more time and freedom to care for myself, mentally and physically, and nurture those I love.
  • To have a day-to-day life that focuses on the positive and not trying to heal the trauma and negativity of life.

 

 

Undoubtedly, I am feeling the fear,

the anxiety of change...

and I'm doing it anyway!

 

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Trust Your Gut Instinct

And with the click of a button, on a sunny Sunday, I submitted my retirement information to my pension fund. Scott snapped a photo of that moment. We popped a mini-bottle of champagne that we had in the refrigerator -- and it was flat -- we laughed!!

No matter, our mood was fizzy anyway!!

What did I learn about making a monumental decision like when to retire? Despite careful research, extensive planning, saving up for it, there is really no roadmap for when you will feel ready for it. In the end, as with any big decisions, it's always a leap of faith and having the confidence to know you can make it work.

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Embracing a New Chapter of Life - My Retirement [Pt.1]

Feeling the Love - Another Step Towards My Retirement [Pt. 2]

Are you in the process of making big decisions? Is retirement on your horizon?

xx,

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Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique!

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The Fascinating Thing About Travel

fascinating-travel The fascinating thing about long distance travel is how you can pack a bag, cue up in line, enter a veritable cylinder for a ride in the sky and hours later the door opens to an entirely different world. The language, the architecture, the smells, even the pace of life around you. It is a bit surreal, especially after a long flight -- or two or three -- and being awake 30+ hours, but I always love that moment. It feels like re-entry to the world or time travel, and I'm hooked on the experience. Long distance travel is grueling, but the reward is definitely worth it.

 

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On our last night in Paris Scott and I took a boat ride on the Seine, just as we did on our visit together back in 2003. Paris was crystal clear and the views of the city were amazing from the vantage point of the river. After sundown, we ended up at a picturesque café in Saint Germaine for a caprese salad and a carafe of rosé. We enjoyed lively conversation with new friends from Argentina, Switzerland, and the US under the moonlight, and didn't even think about the time until midnight. Time escaped us again!  Thankfully we had already packed for our trip home the next day since we had to be up at 3:00 am to catch the shuttle to Charles de Galle and enter that cylinder in the sky.

 

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We made the trip home safely, following 29 hours of travel, and are digging out from mountains of laundry, piles of mail and all the usual. It feels good to be home and sleeping in our own bed again. That's the fascinating thing about travel... it all feels a bit surreal. I'm still dreaming of the beautiful places we visited on this trip, and I'm looking forward to sharing more on Italy and Paris. Despite all the beauty, and a desire to return as soon as possible, we are again reminded that there is no place like home.

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What have you been up to this summer?

I have some blog reading and Facebook viewing to do, now that we are home, and I'm looking forward to catching up with you.

xx,

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Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique

 

 

Feeling the Love...Another Step Towards Retirement! [Pt.2]

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It's that time of year when spring shimmies into summer and celebrates its beautiful self with parties, proms, weddings, graduations and retirement celebrations. Beginnings and endings of all kinds...

The end of the school year marks the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one for many of us. For me, as a student, as a teacher, and later a school psychologist, the school year has been the rhythm of my entire life. No end of the school year has felt more bittersweet than this one, especially as I look towards retirement in July.

 

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School is out for summer, and I am saying my goodbyes to students and many of our beloved staff. I still have another week and 1/2 to tie up the loose ends and get the summer program started, yet the end of my career in education is so clearly in sight.

 

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I threw my annual end-of-year party for my teams at the house on Thursday evening. Though I initially protested a big party, Scott zhushed it up to be a fantastic retirement celebration for me, to boot!  At this place in time, I am feeling the love from friends, colleagues, team members as well as the host of the party who sang me a couple of special tunes. I'll be sharing more on that special day soon.

 

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The last month here has truly been a blur...and I'm still processing it all. There will be time for that, and I look forward to sharing more of this chapter on the blog.

For now, I've been invited to attend Brian Culbertson's Napa Valley Jazz Getaway for Style*Mind*Chic Life. Scott and I are packing up for a couple of days in wine country. The timing is perfect (and so is the weather)! Tickets are still available for certain events here. Let me know if you are going. I would love to connect!

 

 

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Despite the busy schedule, I wanted to stop in to wish you a wonderful weekend. I hope you are feeling the love where you are today.

xx,

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Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique!

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The Fine Art of Bold Decisions: Embracing a New Chapter of Life - My Retirement!!! [Pt. 1]

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 The Fine Art of Bold Decisions

This year is a big one for me. In some ways, I would say, it's epic. I've considered some major life changes since 2016 began, as I mentioned in this New Year's post. Clarity and change have been my goals for the year. I'll be turning 55 in July. Reaching that milestone comes with a range of options for me, including retirement from my 33-year career in education.

I'm no stranger to bold decisions. Sixteen years ago I boldly followed my heart to resign from my school psychology position, sell my home and leave my beloved San Francisco bay area behind. I headed for Chico, a small university town 150 miles northeast, to create a new life with Scott-- sappy but true--the love of my life. Within a couple of months, I had started a new job, purchased a new home, married and became a step-mother to his three teen-aged daughters.

Bold move, right?

Was it easy, no!

Was it exciting?

Absolutely!

There was another time, where I made a bold decision to move for love....

That went down in flames. Ouch!

 

The truth is, I wouldn't change that chapter (despite the heartbreak), simply because it brought me to my next chapter of life.

 

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I'm guessing you have had to make some bold decisions, too. We all do at some point in life.

How do we make the complex decisions to alter the course of our path?

I'm not talking about where to go on vacation -- though I always love to discuss that question -- I'm talking about the major shifts in life, in love, in career, in location. I'm talking about what we do with each day we are given.

I've been on the career path for so many years, this will be a huge change for me. My to-do list will shrink tremendously, at least for a while. I will have the opportunity--and freedom--to pursue a slice of life that is my passion for the first time in a very, very long time. In some ways, it feels like being 18 again. The sky is the limit and that feels good.

 

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I have worked in education my entire career. I started as a student teacher in picturesque St. Helena, in the Napa Valley. I became a first-grade teacher in Hayward at age 23, and later received my master's degree in Educational/Developmental Psychology in Michigan.  I taught 4th grade in La Canada, an upscale community in Southern California, for 6 wonderful years.  In another bold move (the one that went down in romantic flames), I returned to school to complete my Pupil Personnel Services credential and become a School Psychologist (that was the upside). That credential drove my move to the San Francisco bay area for 6 years of practicing at West Contra Costa Unified School District. In that position, I ended up meeting my now-husband, Scott, at a conference in San Francisco.

Looking back, I see how everything worked together for me to be in this space, at this time. The last 16 years of working for Butte County Office of Education, for students with emotional issues, have been the most challenging, and rewarding, of my career.

That said...

I am ready for a change.

When I began considering the option of retiring from my career this summer, I was ecstatic. Bordering on euphoric. As the possibility became more of a reality, I felt slightly terrified. I've had a few sleepless nights--in a panic--and several weeks of waffling back and forth. How do you change that day-to-day routine, that schedule, that drive to care for and support staff and students?

How do you give up those daily connections with colleagues, friends and students?

What about the finances?

How do you make that final decision?

*Pay attention to the signs around you. As you step through the process of your decision, the signs will get stronger. They always do.

*Make and review a list of pros/cons. Keep it as a reminder of why you made the decision.

*When in doubt, with a major decision, I live a few days as if I had made the decision one way. I pay attention to how it feels. Do I feel regret or relief? I then balance it with "living as if" the decision were made the other way for a few days. This strategy has always been a good barometer of how I feel throughout the decision-making process.

*Keep your eyes wide open AND trust your gut.

*If you are open, you will see your path. I'm seeing my path, and I'm making some bold decisions!

 

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Thank you for reading this personal post today. I plan to share more of my journey into this next chapter of life here on the blog, and I would love to have you follow along.

I'm nervous...and very excited.

Please share any words of wisdom you have on the fine art of making bold choices with the rest of us.

Boldly yours

xx,

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StyleMindChic Boutique

Style Guide: Doreen Creede [Style Maniac + Brand Ambassador]

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Style Guide: Doreen Creede of Style Maniac

Interview:

Favorite Style Icons?

The women in my family.  My grandmothers, who could not have been more different.  Jean was glamorous, well-read and the life of any party; Lydia was hard-working, would do anything for her family and was an incredible “seamstress” (her description; I’d say couture clothing designer).  My mom, who is always put together, whether gardening, golfing or getting ready for an operation.  Seriously, she is about to have a hip replacement and will make sure she has her nails and hair done before surgery.

 

 

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Image Kevin Creede

In their own ways, each of these women taught me that style is about much more than looks.  It is about how you express – and respect -- yourself.

 

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Doreen with her mom, Lorraine (image John Naughton).

 

Favorite Brands?

Labels are not important to me – I buy purely what I love.  I tend toward simple silhouettes, mostly black, and then add drama with bold and colorful accessories, which are often vintage, picked up in my travels or made by designer friends.

 

Two of those friends are the duo behind REALM Fine + Fashion Jewelry, for which I am a Brand Ambassador.  I love both the affordable glamor of the collection and my friends’ commitment to supporting other women in achieving their dreams.  Or as they say: “Reign Thoughtfully.”

 

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Image Alb4 Phliadelphia

Favorite Beauty products?

My cosmetic collection is pretty small – an edited selection of products that really work.  Everyday faves:  MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation (it has a plush texture and leaves a nice subtle glow), Jill Kirsh’s eye shadow palette (makes eyes pop!) and Revlon Colorstay Mineral Glaze Lipgloss (a long-wearing lush gloss that actually stays on without drying out lips).

 

That Mineral Glaze is getting hard to find, so I’m starting a quest (and blog series) on the search for the perfect lipstick.  Suggestions, anyone??

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Image Alb4 Philadelphia

Fragrances?

Ligne St. Barth Vanille West Indies.  I would describe it as smelling like luscious vanilla, but a lot of people say it smells like sugar cookies or brownies.  Not a bad thing.

 

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Image Alb4 Philadelphia

 

Self-care/ Wellness tips?

Drink lots of water.

 

What 3 things do you value most in your life?

The people in it.  Creativity.  Curiosity.

 

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Image Alb4 Philadelphia

 

If you could play any fashionable or popular personality for the day who would it be? Why?

Honestly, right now … no one.  But I would like a few of their TV and book deals!

 

What would be your must-have item of choice on a desert island?

My husband!

 

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Doreen with her husband, Kevin.

 

And a suitcase filled with books, blank notebooks, a pen that would never run dry, sunscreen, a big hat, bug spray.  Can I bring a computer and power source too?  Pasta and the means to cook it? Wine and water?   As you can tell, castaway camping is really not my thing ….

 

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What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

“Wear the hat.”

Although I’m comfortable with my own sense of style, I have had moments when I thought, “Hmmm, if I wear this, what will people think?”  Now I know:  people will think it’s fabulous.  And if they don’t, then why care about their opinion anyway?

 

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 Image: Floyd Dean for Society Magazine

 

What is your favorite thing about being your current age?

My mom taught me a great lesson:  love every decade of your life because it brings something new and wonderful.  Of course, life has its challenges.  But I wouldn’t want to go back in time.  I’m more interested in looking forward at what’s next, what’s new, what else I could do.

 

What is your secret for staying ageless?

Stay curious.  Be open to learning new things and meeting new people. Keep your sense of humor.  Never think you’re too old to take a risk, whether in fashion or work.  Go ahead:  wear the crazy cocktail ring, cry at the sappy commercial, kick off your shoes and dance around the kitchen.

 

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Image Kevin Creede

What is your dream destination?

I’ve long been searching for the perfect beach town –clear aqua water, white sugar sand, no high rises or fast food restaurants, a charming downtown with unique boutiques and bistros with great food, sunshine, mild weather … and affordable housing.  Yeah, that last one’s the kicker.  I’ve told many a friend my plan and they all say: “When you find this paradise, let us know and we’ll join you!”

 

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What is your hottest style tip?

Be yourself.

 

SOCIAL LINKS

Style Maniac  Website/blog, Style Manic Facebook, Style Maniac Twitter @thestylemaniac, Style Maniac Instagram @stylemaniac

 

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Doreen was one of the first bloggers I connected with, shortly after starting my blog. Her style, warmth, love of family and fun is an inspiration. Love the advice from Doreen's mom to enjoy each decade and from Doreen, to just be yourself.

Thank you for sharing your stylish tips with us, Doreen.

Let us know when you find that perfect beach front locale!

xx,

heather-lindstrom-signature

The "Summer Splash" Collection at

Style*Mind*Chic Boutique

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