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


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:






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!



Curated Travel Services 

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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.



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.


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.



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



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 



Curated Collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique


Celebration 2016 Event - Celebrating Life Beyond Breast Cancer



 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.




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



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. 

FEISTY - Lively*Courageous*Determined* - Female Entreprenuers

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.
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.


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.



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.




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.


Female Empowerment Inspiring Success Through You


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


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.



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!


Let's keep the conversation going!



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


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.


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.



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.



 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?



The latest collections at Style*Mind*Chic Boutique!






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


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.



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.



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.



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!



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.


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?



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


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.



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.



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.



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!




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.



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


 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?


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.



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.



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!



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



StyleMindChic Boutique

The Curveball of Life

stylemindchiclife-sunset-pool-home I had planned to publish another post this morning, but I just wasn't feeling it. I guess it's time for real life interruptus which is a thing in blog world--I think.

Life has thrown us a pretty big curveball around our house the last two and 1/2 weeks. When I say almost everything about the way we live our lives has changed, I mean it. I've hinted at it in a couple of posts but there is no denying it now. There have been no walks around the neighborhood after the rains, no cycling up the canyon (for Scott-I never did that-let's be real), no gardening projects in preparation for spring, no Saturday night date nights out to a favorite spot in town, no spontaneous dance parties, no entertaining and no...well, fill in the blanks. There are number of nos in our life right now.  For Scott there has been almost non stop pain from a newly herniated disc. For me there has been the helpless feeling of wanting to soothe someone in the worst pain of his life. He knows what this pain is all about since he had 2 previous back surgeries over 20 years ago.

The recovery took a year.


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There have been regular physical therapy sessions recently doubled in length, x-rays, an mri, pain medications, acupuncture, the purchase of an inversion table, ice packs, warm baths, trips to the pharmacy, daily and nightly outdoor spa sessions, repeated calls to the neurosurgeon to get an appointment as soon as possible and the cancellation of our sunny vacation to Riviera Maya for this coming Sunday. We needed that trip--as a relief from the stress of our jobs--and the current 3 month long recovery from Scott's shoulder surgery. That trip has been my motivation for getting through a very stressful work year. Though he would likely be fine with the trip once we are there, it is the two long flights to get there that are the concern. We simply can't risk it at this point.

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We have watched a number of movies and many episodes of International House Hunters (one of my faves), had way too many carb laden meals (comfort food is a REAL thing turns out). All plans for regular yoga sessions and self-care have gone out the window, with the exception of one long-planned massage for me which worked out the kinks. Thank you, Gerardo!  We have both struggled with the blues; sometimes at the same time, but thankfully we've mostly taken turns on that one. It's depressing for us both to have Scott staring down another surgery and much lengthier recovery than what we've just been through.


We've shed some tears together, for the pain, the anxiety and the fear; and we've also had some laughs. Some big old pee your pants kind of belly laughs. Some of what is happening right now is so ridiculous. You have to bring it every now and then with the humor to cheer your partner up. We've also been more likely to notice the regular parade of deer out our back windows, seen some awe-inspiring sunsets and rain storms off the back deck. For all that we are more than grateful.

Maybe the lesson is that you become grateful for the littlest things when life throws you a big curveball.


If you would, please send up a good thought or prayer for Scott and his healing this week.

The best news in the world would be that he doesn't need another surgery.

With thanks,




This post is completely unedited or proofread....

sometimes you've just got to keep it real

(and punctuation is completely uninteresting to me at this point). xx

The Fine Art of Diving Into a New Year


Diving into a New Year


As much as I love all the festivities and merriment of the holiday season, I deeply appreciate the clearer calendar, uncluttered living spaces and healthy start of diving into a new year.


Do you feel like January is the calm after the storm???

Like most of us, our holidays were filled with friends and family--festive and fun. We hosted, we traveled, we partied and we indulged. Now I'm craving fresh, healthy foods, regular exercise, proper rest and a more health-focused lifestyle for the new year.

I'm more about a theme and a focus for the new year than a list of resolutions. I am also a firm believer that sometimes the only true resolution is this.


They say writing things down will help us keep our focus so this is some of what I'm up to for the new year.


I am scheduling 3 weekly yoga sessions in my calendar as a commitment to myself.

I am keeping up with the monthly massages that I started last spring.

I am eating more fresh veggies and less carbs--being more purposeful about my nutritional choices.

I have booked a sunny escape for next month to beat the welcomed, yet rainy days of El Nino.

I am keeping my 'booty where it belongs'.


My theme for 2016:




2016 is about diving into new challenges and creating new dreams. I am excited about the possibilities.  Trust me, there will be more to come on this topic in the coming months. First step: I'm spending some time on reflection to start the new year.


I can get behind these Zen Habits for an Awesome 2016.

I found this post by my blog friend, Leslie of Gwen Moss, to be especially inspiring for the new year.

This list of healthy juices and smoothies sounds like the right balance from Spa Finder blog.

Looking for a sunny escape at a discount?

I'd love to be your travel concierge for a beach getaway here.


What is your theme for the new year?

 Are you in the mood to shake things up this year like I am?




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The Fine Art of Tender Loving Care #TLC


We are 9 days in since my husband's shoulder surgery and things have gone as well as possible. The best news is that Scott isn't feeling any real pain! There has been lots of down time--icing, dozing, reading, catching up on movies, a few one-handed projects--for him. Though I worked during the week, our schedule has slowed way down in the evenings and weekends, which has been a pleasant change.

This down time has me thinking about the fine art of tender loving care. I think I'm a decent nurse. To be honest, I'm more a decent soother/server than a real nurse type. I don't do as well with wound care and bodily functions--no barf or butts for me. That's why my sister, Heidi, became the nurse and I became the school psychologist. That said, I do like to offer up some tender loving care, especially to someone in recovery mode.

Preparing for surgery requires some pre-planning--picking up prescriptions before the surgery, packing some comfortable clothing that works over the surgery sight, socks or slippers to keep inactive feet warm, and even a plastic bag (for the drive home--in case the anesthetic has a negative impact on the stomach). Once home, it's a comfy chair or bed already prepped with extra pillows and throws. I keep trays, straws, a water carafe on hand for ease.  Broth, soups, yogurts, smoothies and even ice cream (Scott's fave) tend to go down easily on the post op tummy.


Speaking of TLC, this sweet package--a full blown dinner-- was waiting on our doorstep when we arrived home from the surgery center. Our friends, Mike and Melanie, created the perfect comfort food dinner of chicken gumbo, cooked rice, a crusty loaf of french bread and a bottle of zinfandel. Of course we had food in the house, but this kind gesture was the perfect act of TLC following the stress of surgery and recovery.Though "chef" Mike made this delicious gumbo from scratch, I realize that even a hearty soup from the deli could work for this comfort food meal in a bag. We definitely plan to pay it forward!


Scott received a number of calls, cards, texts and loads of Facebook love. I am a firm believer it helps the recovery process to feel the TLC from friends and family. Our friends, David and Jill, sent one of David's favorite books,The Boys in the Boat, to help ease the boredom for Scott. A few clicks on Amazon and they shared some special TLC. I love this idea!!


Food is usually a good way to give some TLC for someone in recovery mode. When we slow our life down a bit simple pleasures feel more enjoyable--like how this cheesy frittata slid so easily out of my new Calphalon pan. It was like magic! Here are some tips on making a perfect fritta from Bon Appetit. I made this one up on the fly and it still worked out well. Maybe I got lucky?


When someone is basically housebound for two weeks it's good to think up some fun ideas. Last weekend, I took Scott on a "virtual" walk in Paris while doing some travel planning for July. Thanks to Google street views we were able to cruise all over Paris and some of our favorite neighborhoods. Genius!!


Friday was my day off, so I surprised "my patient" by suggesting breakfast out at our local Bellachino's cafe and a walk in Bidwell Park. The park is glorious this time of year!


As it turned out, Scott loved every minute of our little excursion. #TLC


In the end, I guess giving a little TLC for recovery really is a walk in the park! I also think that giving or receiving TLC is truly a gift, and therein lies the fine art of TLC. Do you have any tips for giving TLC?



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Hoping for a Speedy Recovery for My Favorite Guy! xx

nob-hll-house-stylemindchiclife Tomorrow morning, bright and early, it's shoulder surgery for my favorite guy. I'm somewhat dreading it. Scott flew to Chicago for four days last week, and though I prefer it when we fly together, I was relieved when he arrived home safely.

And now...


Going under the knife--and the whole anesthesia thing-- is a whole different deal. Scott will be having rotator cuff surgery for the second time.



He had a shoulder repaired for the first time following an unfortunate fall from the peak of our roof while putting up Christmas lights. See that peaked roof? It's a long way down from top to bottom. This was our first home together in Chico.

holiday-lights-nob-hill-stylemindchiclife The lights were beautiful...

but we moved.


I was secretly happy that our current home has a tile roof. I thought it would eliminate rooftop escapades; until last Sunday.


Apparently not...

As I walked by our dining room last Sunday, I caught a glimpse of this scene. My man is back up on the roof--thankfully a less towering roof this time. His goal was to get the Christmas lights up before the surgery tomorrow and 6-9 weeks of immobility.


That face makes me laugh!

We have #prematureChristmas lights--yes!!

My husband is back up on the roof--yes!!



The lights look good--yes!!



Mostly, I just want THIS face to do well during surgery tomorrow.

Obviously our Halloween will be less festive than usual.

I'll be playing "nurse" but not even the fun kind ;)


How are your weekend plans shaping up?

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A Sweet Summer Wedding and a Walk in the Park #truelove


It was the perfect June day in Chico, California.

Warm, with a touch of cloud cover....

peaking between the clouds, the sky was brilliant blue.

It was the kind of day made for a summer wedding.



My dear friend Lily, the beautiful bride, was marrying her long-time friend, Joe.  Her two daughters, Ramona and Annabelle, were her lovely bridesmaids, along with their cousin, Olivia.



We gathered at their home--new to the four of them as a family...


for a short walk across the street through the natural beauty of Bidwell Park.


The bride wore something blue...

converse sneakers...for her walk in the park.

They held on tightly...


The setting, next to the creek, was sublime.




Friends and family gathered, some of us spoke words from the heart to celebrate their love,

and there was not a dry eye beside the creek that day.

Lily and Joe made their heartfelt vows...


and sealed them with a kiss!


Let the wedding celebration begin!



A love story and a wedding with family and friends to celebrate....


Dreams do come true...




We've been looking forward to this special day since around the time we had a dinner party at our house, early on in Lily and Joe's romance here, and more recently with a prosecco and pretty things shower to celebrate our beautiful bride... I mean Joe's bride!;)

I remember telling Lily, in our office on a difficult day a few years ago, that her future looked so bright. I could just feel it. She wasn't sure but said she hoped that I was right.

Turns out their future isn't just bright... it's brilliant!

So happy for you Lily and Joe! xx

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Cheers to another sweet love story

and hope.....

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(all photos taken on my iPhone 6)

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Welcome to the Weekend...A Bucket List Concert & My Favorite Small World Story (Next Chapter)

Bucket List Concert and Broadway Botanicals Blooms- pink peonies  

I'm seeing peonies everywhere this May so I had to show off this gorgeous photo from my sister, Dorie Swanson, owner of Broadway Botanicals. You will love the inspiration from her designs. #swoon

It's a busy week around our house. Are you feeling the same way too? Our May calendar always seems to be filled with end of the school year celebrations, graduations...and retirement parties. This week Scott and I are taking a short getaway and heading to a concert. He has always wanted to see Tony Bennett live, one of his bucket list items. It just so happens that Tony Bennett is doing a concert tour with Lady Gaga. I know this lady has pipes-it will be a fabulous show! Here's a sneak peek:


To finish up our little getaway we will also have the honor of celebrating the graduations of two very special young women in my life. These two met for the first time at a dinner party at my house, as babies. On the first week of high school, met each other again (with no knowledge they had ever met before). They became best friends immediately. They didn't know they had any connection until their moms figured it out at a later date.This little story didn't happen in a neighborhood, it happened over a distance of at least 80 miles and 14 years. Their moms happen to be two of my closest friends, one from childhood and one from graduate school.   Some things in life are just meant to be....

 My Small World Story

Isabel and Tess Forever Friends

The next chapter of this story is that the girls, recently graduated from High School, each accepted to the finest universities around the country, have decided to head to U.C. Berkeley together in the fall! We will be celebrating them, their dear parents and the small world stories of life on Friday night. I can hardly wait!

A Small World Story and True Blue Friends and bracelets


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Do you have a favorite 'small world story'?

I hope you are lucky to have 'true blue friends' like these two.

Welcome to the weekend!


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How to Create a Style Board Out of Wine Corks

  Vintage Gold Frame with Corks on Stylemindchic Lifestyle

Monday was a holiday for us and the power went out for several hours. What? No computer, WiFi, TV? I was grateful I didn't have any appointments requiring a spit bath or dry shampoo for a jaunt downtown. I happily settled into a project that I had started months ago, and let languish under the couch. What do you get when you marry wine corks with a vintage frame? The simplest, most festive, DIY project ever!!

Wine corks in a vintage gold frame on Stylemindchic Lifestyle

How to create a style board out of wine corks

1 - To prep for this project you must pop the cork on a nice bottle of wine...sip and repeat...and repeat. This part could take you several weeks, or you may get a jump on it if you host a big party! Don't rush this phase, it's so festive.

2 - Collect the corks in a bowl-the more the merrier! If you don't drink wine, never fear. I've seen bags of corks for sale at places like target and craft shops. Baffles me...why would I buy them with a steady stream being produced at home? #cottage industryMy Collage of wine corks and creating a style board  in a vintage gold frame on Stylemindchic Lifestyle

3 - Once you have a healthy assortment of corks, reminiscent of lovely evenings at home, wine tasting, and travels, look for a good-sized frame. I choose a vintage frame, antique gold and linen finish, that we had hanging in the garage.


I created a style board out of wine corks and a vintage frame

4 - Grab a glue gun, or any type of tacky glue. I used Elmer's since the power was out. Lay out your corks in a pattern that appeals to you and start gluing them to the backing of the frame. If you end up with irregular spacing you can always use a sharp knife to trim corks to fit a space. My pattern was fairly organic. It was a lot like doing a puzzle. No corks were harmed in creating this project! Once my style board was complete I laid it flat to dry for a day.


I used a vintage framed, glued on wine corks to create a style board for my office at Stylemindchic Lifestyle

I will use my style board for visual inspiration-blog post ideas, color schemes, jewelry designs, styling ideas, business ideas, shoe crushes, random quotes-and all the elements of my personal style. I tacked a few items up here to give you an idea since a personal style board must evolve over time.

My Gold and Turquoise Watch by Michael Kors #statement piece

It's a funny thing about visualizing style. Last week I was going through a file of old tear sheets that I had on a different style board last year. I had an image of this eye-catching watch by Michael Kors. I hadn't even remembered I had pulled it from a magazine and tacked it up, but I received this watch as a gift from my husband for Valentine's day. Apparently Scott took a peek at my style board.


Wine Bottle Wall Villa Valentina Los Cabos

And here's what I did with all those empty wine bottles! ;)


This is a cool project we discovered on our recent trip to Los Cabos.

It's all about reuse and recycling, right?

Stylemindchic Lifestyle and a style board made from a vintage frame and wine corks

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Wishing you some warm springtime weather where you are.

Are you a collector of corks like I am?


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The Fine Art of Unplugging

The fine art of unplugging at Grand Mayan Heather Lindstrom of Stylemindchic Lifestyle

The fine art of unplugging.....

When was the last time you completely unplugged?

When was the last time you let yourself forget that ever present 'to do' list in your head...

and just let your mind drift?

The fine art of unplugging at the Lounges in Pool at Grand Mayan Los Cabos

When was the last time you allowed yourself an afternoon nap,

or to daydream for hours on end?

Lounging by the pool in Los Cabos at the Grand Mayan

It had been a very long time for me and I allowed myself those moments last week, during our getaway to Los Cabos, Mexico. It wasn't always easy, especially at first. I felt like I should be doing something. You know that feeling?  I predicted that might happen, so I made a plan. I allowed myself the easy capture of a few daily Instagram pics and one quick iPad blog post, a postcard from Los Cabos midweek, but that was it. I left my email, my social media accounts, my career, and my entire blogging life alone. I thoroughly unplugged...and I enjoyed it.

Sunset over the water at 7 Seas Restaurant in Los Cabos, Mexico

It felt felt restorative...

and I let myself slow way down.

I listened to the voice within.

I let myself feel the pounding surf, the sun on my skin and

my appreciation for the beauty and nature around me grew.

The firepit at the Grand Mayan, Los Cabos

I thought unplugging might recharge my creative juices and help me explore the more intricate levels of my personal voice that I want to share. I was surprised to realize that I had missed the silence, and the privacy, of my non-blogging life, even for the time being.

Balloons and a rainbow over the sea for a wedding at Grand Mayan

I relished the ease and the noticed the little details...

like balloons and rainbows over the sea for a beach wedding.

My relaxed soul reminded me of the desire to connect...

with someone I love.

Scott Lindstrom at 7 Seas in San Jose del Cabo dinner on the water

Let's trust our gut instinct, to know when we need to recharge, to take a break, to seek the privacy and peace.

This kind of introspection is essential as we care for ourselves.

The Fine Art of Unplugging at the Tranquil poolside at Grand Mayan Los Cabos Heather Lindstrom of Stylemindchic Lifestyle

When you feel you need the rest, the change of pace, the unplugging of it sure to take it.

Our careers, our families & friends and our blogging lives

 will remain and be there when we return...

renewed, refreshed and restored.

Here's to a moment, or a few, of unplugging in life.

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When was the last time you truly unplugged?

Did the voice inside surprise you?


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PS-I'm excited to be meeting up with one of my favorite bloggers here later this week!

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