wearing my heart on my sleeve

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the future is female | woman up (similar) | introvert!

…or chest, rather. I’ve been wearing statement sweatshirts nonstop the past month or so. not only are they insanely comfortable, they’ve also been a way to let a little of my personality & thoughts shine through.

they’ve been the sartorial edition of conversation starters. I’ve gotten so many compliments from and engaged in conversations with so many people I don’t know. in these challenging times, talking to each other more can only be a good thing.

what have you been loving to wear lately?

p.s. the ‘introvert!’ one just kills me! I call it my ‘quiet jazz hands’ sweatshirt (said with the aforementioned jazz hands) , which makes my husband laugh like crazy. I’m totally digging the subtle irony. how very introvert of me. ;)

p.p.s. these shirts are great, too, and incredibly relevant.

new year, new post(s)

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september/october

one | my goddaughter turned 1. where does the time go?!

two | a little slice of country in the city.

three | found a new little coffee spot near my work.

four | go-to date night: sushi!

november/december

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one | hit the books hard.

two | coffee. always.

three | asian smorgasbord at h-mart.

four | alcohol-filled chocolates at christkindlmarkt.

january

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one | my current closet (aka, 50 shades of grey).

two | powerful read.

three | the best ramen of my life.

four | my life philosophy.

it’s been a few months since I’ve posted around these parts. here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been up to the past 4 months. I hope you all had a lovely holiday season and a wonderful new year so far. one of my resolutions? get back into updating my blog. :)

I plan on making some changes, in addition to some of the ones I’ve done already. I’ve added a little “ask me anything’ widget in the top & right menu bars, so if there’s a question you’ve been dying to ask or a topic you’d like me to address, ask away! also, I’ll be posting more nursing-related things since that’s a huge part of my life these days. anything else you’d like to see? let me know!

and as always, you can follow along on instagram: @lovelyhes.

the capsule wardrobe | fall 2016: clinicals

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it certainly doesn’t feel like fall at all, but my academic year starts a week from today so I had to get started on a portion of my capsule wardrobe earlier than seasonally-appropriate. for this rotation, I’ll be required to wear business casual clothing at my clinical sessions. for my program, ‘business casual’ means no jeans, closed-toe shoes (with hosiery), and a semi-dressy top with a conservative neckline. keeping these requirements in mind, I took a good look at what I had in my closet and then pinpointed some pieces I needed to buy: some dressy shells, top layer options, more professional-looking flats, and a good pair of black trousers. some of the pieces above may look familiar because I highlighted them as things I was eyeing during the nordstrom anniversary sale. obviously, some things worked out!

one | the only item I purchased that wasn’t on sale were these pants. they were more expensive than I wanted, but they fit perfectly, are machine-washable, have good stretch but still structured, and highly recommended by my boss and several friends. I had planned on buying two pairs of trousers but ended up just buying just this pair because of the price and because no other pair came close in comparison.

two | I finally found a blazer that works for my body, so I bought it in three colors! they wouldn’t work for a completely business-attire environment, but for business casual, these are perfect. the knit is comfortable, and the open front is really flattering on me.

three | these flats are fierce, and I’m so glad that I guessed the right size before they sold out. this pair was a 2-for-1: I was looking to replace my pair of smoking slippers and for a pair of dressy flats.

four | these tanks are long enough on the bottom and high enough on the neckline to be appropriate, and I plan on wearing them underneath a cardigan or a blazer. they are a bit sheer open in the lower back, but I’ll have a layer on top to cover that detail during clinical. plus, that lets them be a great going-out option, too.

five | I was so pleased to find a long-sleeved blouse in a mixed-media design – the knit back is great for comfort & ease of movement. the neckline doesn’t come down too low (no hint of cleavage), and the tunic length & long sleeves make it a great piece that doesn’t require a top layer.

six | as for this cardigan, I wasn’t sure about the ruffles (I tend to like pieces that are a little more streamlined), but I was surprised to find that it looked really good on and added just the right amount of unexpected detail. the sweater part is the perfect light grey and is ridiculously soft.

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these are the pieces that I already had, rounding out my 16-piece clinical capsule wardrobe.

seven | I couldn’t find this exact turtleneck online in the black but it comes in a bunch of other colors, and this is a thicker option. I like the tissue weight because it lies flat and makes it really easy to wear under other pieces of clothing.

eight | this cashmere sweater is actually from the men’s section. I prefer the way their version drapes on me as opposed to the women’s version.

nine | this cardigan is a great basic and is a workhorse staple in my wardrobe in general. the wool is warm but thin enough to not be too bulky.

ten | this is an old pair from via spiga that I scored at a great price at nordstrom rack a couple of years ago, but this is a similar pair in classic leather with a work-friendly kitten heel.

eleven | this coach bag was a christmas present a couple of years back. it’s such a great classic shape in a not-too-big but not-too-small size. sadly, coach no longer makes this exact style, but this, this, and this are similar.

twelve | aside from a watch and my wedding band, the only jewelry I’m allowed to wear is a pair of stud earrings. these are one of my favorites. I love that the raw cut of the herkimer diamond gives a little edgy twist to an otherwise classic earring.

thirteen | every nurse needs a watch with a second hand. I prefer to wear a watch with a metal or silicone band because it’s easier to disinfect and I don’t need to worry about getting it wet every time I wash my hands. this watch has a really versatile shape, and the pink second hand is a nice touch.

are you ready for fall?

let’s talk | dealing with depression

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I’ve talked about having depression on the blog before, but awhile back and not in very much detail. that’s a conscious decision on my part, since I don’t want to put every thing about me and my life out there on the web, even if I am taking part in the blogging community. but I am talking about it today here on the blog, because it’s very much a part of my life right now, and if I can’t share it on the space I created to share my thoughts, what’s the point?

I got diagnosed with major depressive disorder about 2 years ago, but I’d been depressed on and off since I was around 11 years old. I come from a family and a culture where mental health isn’t really discussed or even acknowledged as a condition. my parents came from very hard backgrounds, and to them, there was nothing wrong with “being sad” – life is hard, after all. and so I dealt with the depression on my own and without professional help until James finally convinced me to go.

I still remember sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing my diagnosis. as the doctor began explaining all the hallmarks of major depressive disorder – fatigue, lost of interest, cyclic episodes, constant sleeping, low self-esteem – I kept nodding along, feeling like he had taken a snapshot of what I called my “bad days”. I began a medication regimen, and I noticed that my “bad days” were becoming few and far between. when I did have one, it was nowhere near as low as the ones previously. I would feel a little bit down as opposed to drowning in a toxic sea of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. things were getting better, and I felt so much more vibrant and engaged and in control of my mental life than I had in a long time. so when the opportunity came for James to go back to boston for what seemed like a great job and he came to me asking if I’d be ok if he took it, I said yes.

I hadn’t had an episode in over a year. we were doing well. we were happy. was happy. I wanted to show that I was truly better.

but I wasn’t. 3 days after James left, I had an episode. in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been surprising. I was working full-time while in nursing school, which was undeniably stressful, even if I was enjoying myself most of the time. I was also planning a wedding. with the additional stress of a long-distance relationship, I was done. the move wasn’t the sole cause, but it was, I think, what broke the dam.

and I’ve been treading water ever since. there are days when I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the water, being engulfed by a darkness and hopelessness so pervasive that it’s hard to stay awake, much less get out of bed in the morning. my mind feels hazy, as though I’m in a daze I can’t get out of. on better days, I make it through the day without crying, functioning & surviving, but never quite thriving. I think back to the other extended periods of depression in my life – 6 months during senior year of high school, 2 years in college – and I am paralyzed by the fear that this tunnel is nowhere close to ending. I know I have help now, and I know how to deal with some things better, and yet, I’m afraid.

I’m afraid because I know my illness makes people uncomfortable. I can see the discomfort in their eyes, and I just withdraw even more, which makes people think I’m cold or distant or weird. I see how it embarrasses my husband to have to explain to his family why I’m unresponsive or why things are not ok, and I withdraw that little bit more, choking on shame and guilt. I’ve always found it funny that people have mistaken my depression as coldness, because nothing could be farther from the truth. my mind isn’t cold – it’s frenetic, it’s chaotic, it’s unceasing, it’s on the verge of overheating. I’ve come to realize that my parents are not alone in their mistrust and ignorance of mental illness – the misunderstanding is pervasive, and it makes the journey that much more lonely & solitary. I sometimes wish I had something tangible to point to, so I could say to people, “here, here is the manifestation of my depression” and they would understand, they would believe. but I can’t.

so I write instead, finding the words on paper that I can’t find the voice to say out loud. I write sentences to make sense of this tangle of feelings I can’t untie and set right within my head. I write paragraphs to simultaneously explain and maintain the walls I’ve put up between me and judgmental questions. I write thoughts to give what I’m experiencing a corporal existence.

I write to give life to the atrophy I’m feeling. I write because it’s the only way I know how to live my way through the dark.

thank you for reading.

let’s talk | breast drama

boobs

let me get real for a moment as I talk about my boobs. I have a love/hate relationship with mine, depending on the day. today is most definitely heading towards the hate side of the spectrum. the funny thing is, I actually think breasts are glorious, for multiple reasons. for one thing, their physicality – if you’ve ever seen any of the amazing paintings by the great masters, you know what I mean. they’re such a hallmark of the female form, in any & all sizes. secondly, they’ve allowed women to feed their children since time immemorial – how cool is that?  I also happen to think they’re just kind of cool in general.

so why the love/hate relationship? well, if you’re a regular around these parts, you’ll know that I’m, uh, shall we say ‘generously endowed’ in the breast department. big boobs have their charms (ha!), but they can also be quite literally a pain. I’ve always loved silk camis with elegant, slim straps & minimalistic, unstructured dresses, but they just don’t look good on my build – at best, I look shapeless & top-heavy; at worst, I look borderline tawdry. you can’t have pieces that are too-structured either, at least not off the rack. I’ve given up on finding a blazer that doesn’t make my chest look like a stuffed sausage.

finding a good bra, of any kind, is really hard & oftentimes expensive. I used to get so jealous of all my friends who could buy a bra from anywhere or could get away with going without (I wish!). a bra that’s supportive enough without feeling constricting is the key, …and is as commonplace as a unicorn. and speaking of support, I worry about what all that weight on top might be doing to my back over time.

I wish I could say that the worry about the state of my back is what triggered this rant in the first place, but it’s not. it was because I tried on a top that had just been delivered and it just did.not.work. I had ordered two sizes; the smaller of the two was the right length but too tight on the chest while the larger of the two accommodated my breasts but dwarfed me everywhere else. usually, this does not make me lose it as this is hardly the first time this has happened (to me or to any number of women). but I don’t know if it’s the heat or hormones or because I’ve been struggling to get back in shape or whatever, it just got me really annoyed & a bit down.

I realize now writing this that this might read shallow, and in the grander scheme of things, it is. but I think it’s also something that lots of women can relate to, that feeling of nothing fitting, whether it’s because of big breasts or small, a short torso or short legs, or what have you. I have no grand pronouncements about the meaning of it all except to say that I get it, I’ve been there, and boobs will be boobs.

p.s. you can find that awesome pillow here.

our registry

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one | two  | three | four | five

James & I weren’t sure if we wanted to do a registry for our wedding or if we would just leave a place for gifts & cards the day of. in the end, we took the middle route. we provided the link to our registry on our wedding website but made sure to emphasize that gifts were optional. we also arranged for a card/gift table at our reception.

we were very intentional about what we wanted to put on our registry. we were having a small wedding to begin with (only about 40 guests), so we knew we had to be selective about our choices from the get-go, but even if we had had a larger wedding, I think we would have kept the same process. over the 8+ years we’ve been together, we had amassed a collection of household items that are traditionally found on a registry – dishes, cutlery, etc. while the pieces we do have aren’t china or anything extremely special, we love them & didn’t want to ‘upgrade’, so to speak (these are our dishes – we have them in the dark grey & soft blue shades). what we ended up putting on our registry then were items we didn’t have and could use for a good while in the future. we had gotten rid of our random assortment of pots & pans, so the first items we added were these pots & pans and the matching tea kettle from kate spade in the turquoise color. I loved the retro color & the clean lines, and James actually felt the same way when I showed them to him. we also opted for a set of simple glasses that can be used for anything, including wine (we got the classic 8.75 oz size). the fact that they’re pretty much unbreakable is a bonus!

I was very conscious of prices when it came to our registry – I didn’t want people to feel as though they had to spend a lot of money on a present – so of the 20 or so items we included, we only had 3 items that were above $50: a Le Creuset pot, a Nespresso machine, & a KitchenAid mixer. we made each of these items group gifts, giving our friends the option of pooling together & splitting the costs. a bunch of our college friends did just that and gifted us the Le Creuset pot as a group, while James’ best friend surprised us with the Nespresso outright. although we had the mixer on our registry, we were actually glad that it didn’t get fulfilled – it would be awhile before we could use it, and our friends & family had been beyond generous already. we also received some gift cards that we used towards other purchases, such as these napkins (in flax), this trivet, and this espresso cup set. aside from the individual gifts listed on the registry, we also had the option for a cash gift that we jokingly labeled ‘the honeymoon fund’. we left it open-ended to give everyone the flexibility to give however much they wanted.

most of these items are currently in storage as we’re in a weird long-distance transition period, but James & I divvied up two items: he has the Le Creuset in boston while I have the Nespresso here in chicago. he’s been loving tinkering with one-pot recipes & I’ve been loving having homemade lattes & cappuccinos in the morning. so far, we’ve had zero regrets about our selections, and we’re so thankful for the generosity of our friends & family.

 did you have a registry? any regrets over what you picked? any thing you would have added in retrospect?

words for the week

marriage

tomorrow marks our first month of marriage, so it seemed apropos to make this week’s wftw about marriage. we’re only a month in on our marriage, but I already know these words to be the absolute truth. ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘forgive me’ are just as important, if not more important at certain times, as ‘I love you’. sometimes love is so intense that it becomes so easy to disappoint each other. that’s when forgiveness shines, providing a counterweight of quiet grace.

wishing my husband a happy 1st month of marriage & all of you a good start to the week.

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words for the week

mrrogers

it’s been an incredibly sad couple of days for the country. the senselessness of it all is maddening. I’m sending you all love and hope. we all need some, all the time.

the friday five

IMG_3170my bridesmaid’s bouquets

I’m still making my way through all the pictures from our wedding & our honeymoon, but I wanted to share a handful of photos in the meantime until I can get a proper post up. we were married on may 21 in chicago, and we headed out for boston 2 days later. we stayed in our apartment in salem, mass for 1 day before heading up to portland, maine for 3 days. we headed back down on the saturday of the holiday weekend, before vacation season got fully underway. we spent the rest of our honeymoon chilling in salem, which was pure luxury for us since we currently live apart & will continue to do so until july of next year. it was nice to just stay home, spend some much needed time together, & relax.

have a lovely weekend!

IMG_3191made me laugh after a great breakfast at a local diner

IMG_3198the barrel room at allagash brewery

IMG_3199the cute little kitchen in our airbnb apartment

IMG_3207by the water in portland, maine

the new normal

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james left for boston on sunday and I’m adjusting to the new normal. it’s been easier than I thought it would be – being busy with school, work, & this blog really helps the hours/days fly by, so I’m thankful for the distraction. it’s only in the little, random moments that I find myself lonely: doing errands on the weekend, just before I fall asleep at night, when I wake in the morning to find the side next to me empty, and on the commute in to and from work. I walk around feeling as though something’s missing, and then I realize, oh, james is missing.

all things considered, we’re holding up as well as can be expected, so I’m grateful for that. I’m also immensely grateful for cellphones & skype & facetime & all the other ways we can communicate with far-away loved ones these days.

have you been in a long-distance relationship? any tips? :)

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