Happy 2018!

3 things I’m doing differently as a mother

Below is a picture of the moment that I became a mother.

This photo was taken about 12 hours after Anna was born…about 12 hours after I technically and biologically became a mother.  However, the first 12 hours of Anna’s life remain a blur to me. Her delivery was tough and I lost a lot of blood. So, instead of spending the first few hours of her life bonding with her, I was in and out of consciousness while she was cared for in the hospital nursery.

This photo was snapped by Kevin the following morning, once I was out of recovery and Anna was brought to me for the first time. I remember being shocked at how beautiful she was. When I saw her the first time, immediately after being born, she was a typical newborn–purple, coated in schmutz and, adding insult to injury was her conehead and wonky eyes–a direct result of the beating she took during delivery (let us not even speak of the beating I took during delivery).

In the moment that you’re seeing above, overcome with the fact that I’d made this perfect, whole and beautiful creature so full of potential, I made a vow to Anna to be the best mother I knew how to be. I knew that there were injustices from my childhood that I wanted to correct and, in that very moment, I knew that I had the opportunity to break a cycle.

I wish that one of the promises that I’d made to her that day was to stop drinking, but that wasn’t one of them–at least not yet.  At that time in my life, I knew that I’d need to stop drinking at some point in the future, but I also knew that motherhood would be hard and that I’d need to rely on “mommy’s little helper” a little too. Thankfully, I did quit drinking in the coming years but here is a list of the other cycles that I vowed to break on that day:

  1. Marry money, honey” : Beginning as a very small child, I can remember first commenting to my mother about a nice house or a nice car…or even a nice purse, my mother’s standard response was always a dismissive, “Well, marry money, honey.” It wasn’t until I was a lot older that I really stopped to consider what that meant. What my mother was effectively saying to me–even if it was just in jest, was this, “you’ll only be able to have nice things if you find a man to take care of you.” Funny thing is, that I didn’t marry a man with money. Instead, I married a man with big dreams and tons of confidence who taught me how to set goals and encouraged me to go after what I wanted in life. And that’s the message that we’re giving our kids too. When Anna remarks on a nice item, my standard response is, “Work hard. Do the right thing. Study. Make good choices and earn it yourself.” I can’t even conceive of ever making Anna feel like she wasn’t capable of earning something on her own the, hard way.
  2. Talking about other people (gossip): When I was a young girl, I knew all of the community gossip. I know now that probably my mother just lacked friends to talk to, but often times, I was the one that she gossiped to. I was included in adult conversations that I had no business being a part of. Even at an early age, I knew who in our community was in an unhappy marriage, who was still pining for their high school sweetheart, whose children might not be biologically related to the man who raised them…basically, I knew way more than any child should know (or any other person NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE RELATIONSHIP should know.). I remember learning early on, that rush of knowing something about someone and how that garnered me the attention of others when I spilled the beans.  I cringe when I think of the things that I knew at such a young age and it shaped who I am and how I’ve handled the responsibility of harboring gossip as an adult. Now that I’m a mother, I’ve made a conscious plan not to ever talk about anyone in front of my kids–that includes my kids peers as well as the adults in our life. Now, all bets are off about what’s said among me and my mom friends at the bus stop before the kids get home, but when my kids are around, I don’t talk about people unless it’s kind words or giving the benefit of the doubt. Little pitchers have big ears…
  3. Talking badly about myself: I grew up with a mother who hated her body. I have vivid memories of her calling herself a “fat pig” and other horrible things. Perhaps she was fishing for compliments, but as a child, all I knew was that my mother said terrible things about herself all the time. So, I grew up silently critiquing my own body. I didn’t want this for my children, so I’ve made a pointed effort never to say anything but empowering things about my body when I do talk about my body (which is seldom) in front of my kids. Our society talks about our bodies too much as it is. I don’t want my kids even thinking about their bodies as anything other than running, jumping, ball-throwing, jump-roping, dancing-machines.

As an adult, I am (mostly) forgiving and (reasonably) accepting of my body. When it comes up in conversation with my kids, I commend my body on its feats of strength and endurance and I very much just portray my body as a vehicle for my soul to travel around in. I try to preach kindness to all–ourselves included–to my kids and we talk about respect and acceptance more than is probably necessary, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

When I made these promises to baby Anna, 10 years ago, honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to hold up my end of the bargain. I knew that I desperately wanted to break the cycle that I grew up with, but I also wasn’t sure if it was possible.

As the years have gone on, not only do I feel like I’ve broken the cycle, but the dialog that I was raised with is a whole way of thinking that I can’t even wrap my brain around anymore. I’m a happier, healthier person than I ever thought possible–and I’m not a half-bad parent either. Granted, my kids will likely have a whole new set of cycles that they will vow to break with her own children, and honestly, I think that’s rad. I think that we should get better with each generation. It’s evolution at its finest.

 

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Happy 2018!

A letter

(Alternate title: May the 4th be with me)

I’m not going to lie: April was a doozy for me.

My creativity was nonexistent. My attitude was piss-poor and my self-doubt and lack of confidence ruled my every move. It was a strange month.

I found out, at the end of April, that Mercury had been in retrograde, so that’s what I’m attributing all of this to. Obviously. Duh.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I also had a few intensely-social weekends in April. There were a couple of themes that presented themselves those weekends and I’m planning to write at length about them in the coming weeks. Basically, you take introvertedness + socializing + lack of motivation x self doubt (cubed)=ick.

(I’m bad at math, so if that equation doesn’t add up, figure it out yourself)

Then, I attended a Women’s Leadership Conference last week that turned it all around.

That’s me in the top with lemons on it. Because, of course lemons…that’s how my brain works.

 

I begrudgingly went–thinking of 75 other things that I needed or wanted to do that day–but instead, I came home a new person. I wrote one of the organizers a letter, because I wanted to let someone know how much I was moved by it. Here’s an excerpt from that letter:

Initially, I was interested in attending the summit only because one of my favorite authors, Katherine Center would be speaking. When I saw that the summit was a “leadership” summit, my gut reaction was, “Leadership? I’m not a leader…I’m JUST a mom.” But, I decided to sign up anyway–even thinking that I might just go hear Center speak and then duck out early to get back home to my responsibilities.

 

Well, I had hardly gotten in the front door at Trinity University Friday morning, before I was greeted warmly by Karen Love and Leisa Holland-Nelson. Their genuine interest in who I was and what had brought me to the summit stopped me in my tracks. Next, Katherine Center approached me and introduced herself. To say that I was gobsmacked by the welcome that I received would be an understatement.

 

Perhaps it goes without saying that I stayed for the entire day and from the first presentation until the last, I felt engaged, inspired and challenged to think outside of the “box” that I’ve been operating within. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I fought back tears several times during the day as I realized that I was witnessing women empowering one another, valuing each other’s opinions and NOT ONCE was I asked about my children (which is expected and par for the course when you’re a mom). Instead, I was asked about who I was and what I was passionate about. It was a thrilling, restorative experience for me and I immediately wished that I’d recruited more friends and neighbors to join me.

 

I know you’re busy and I’m sorry if this is simply one more email in your inbox that you have to contend with, but I felt like you should know how much the summit meant to me and how much it has inspired me to do better in my daily life and pursue some of the ideas that I’ve been “marinating on” for awhile. I hope to attend again in the future and would also be honored if I could play a role in any future leadership summits that you are a part of.

 

Please let me know if there are any opportunities for “just moms,” such as myself to participate. I’m a freelance writer who is working to spearhead a growing “sober mom” movement, offering support for women who are finding themselves self-medicating through the perils of parenthood and looking for healthier ways to cope with the feelings of isolation and self-doubt that are so prevalent in motherhood.

I received a lovely response back from the organizer, who sounded as if she had been disappointed in the poor turn-out for the summit. I hope that my letter lifted her up and changed her perception of how the summit was received.

All of this to say: Going forward, you’ll notice a shift in this blog. I won’t be posting as often, but when I do, I want it to only be heart-felt and authentic. I won’t be doing Friday Favorites every week, but instead, holding off and doing a Favorites post when I have something special to tell you about. (Do you know how hard it is to come up with things that are my “favorites” on a weekly basis? Especially in that God-awful month of April when, really and truly, NOTHING felt like my favorite, as I wallowed in self-pity and doubt?) 

Also, I’d really appreciate hearing from you about what you’d like to see more of on the blog. I have oodles of more alcohol/sobriety posts in my head, as well as an endless supply of posts about being an introvert (naval-gazing at its best). Let me hear from you in the comments, via email (jenny@introvertsguidetosobriety.com) or find me on social media and let’s visit about things.

Thanks for hanging in there during my April of doom…I missed you!

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Happy 2018!

Please hold…

I’m feeling a smidgen spent (creatively) right now. I have several ideas in my head, but none that I’m ready to polish and publish just yet. I’m looking for inspiration all around me and absorbing as much as I can. I’m hoping to come back full-force soon–possibly with some changes to the blog.

Realistically, I could continue to post rubbish here–just to post something 3 days a week–but that’s not the vision that I have for this blog and it’s not what you want either (I don’t think). So, if you’ll bear with me, I’ll be back soon with fresh, new material.

In the meantime, you can find my articles at Red Tricycle and then don’t forget about these recent posts here on the blog…

Being married to a drinker

3 simple ways to support a newly-sober friend

Am I judging moms who drink?

And then you can always find me on Instagram .

 I post something most everyday over there. Beware: there are lots of dog and cat pics, so proceed at your own risk.

See ya soon–promise!

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Happy 2018!

One True Love: Beauty tool

image courtesy of:http://www.meganandwendy.com/

 

If you’ll remember, I’m participating in the One True Love monthly writing prompt. It’s tons of fun to read other blogger’s, YouTuber’s and Instagrammer’s One True Loves and I’ve learned a lot and tried some new things as a result. If you’d like to participate, simply write your post, share on Instagram or YouTube and be sure to include the #LSSOneTrueLove tag.

This month is Beauty Tools:

When I first thought about this, my knee-jerk reaction was to talk about my Beauty Blender. But then I thought, “Come on, Jenny. Everybody and their damn dog is going to talk about the Beauty Blender–because it’s the best beauty tool ever.” So, today I’m going to go a different direction. I’m going to talk about this:


1 Best Makeup Remover Magic Cloth Duo – Feels Luxury Soft, Works Like Magic –

I can attest to that–it does, in fact, work like magic. Sorcery, more like it. 

So, in case you’re wondering what these towels are. They’re chemical-free makeup-removing towels. Here’s how they work (or, more accurately, how they’re used because hell if I know how they work):

I wet a small corner of the towel with warm water and wipe my eye makeup off with it. It gets all of my waterproof mascara and gel eyeliner off with nary a tug or a smear. Using only one corner at a time, I can use my towel about 3 or more times in between washes. When you’re out of clean towel to use, you simply throw it in the washer with mild detergent and wash it. Then you let it line dry (which is dries really quickly). Then, boom–it’s ready to go again. I figure that I’ve saved a lot of money already on disposable makeup removing towels and cleansers, just by using this towel.

Speaking of makeup removing towels and cleansers: I’ve used all of the traditional makeup removing creams, tonics and potions. They all leave my eyes red, irritated and seem to only actually remove like 30% of my makeup. I’ve never found anything that works as well as these towels. I take them with me on all overnight trips–they’re a cinch to pack–and love these things hard. Do yourself a favor and buy yourself one. Then give one to your mom, your sister and your best friend.

What’s your One True Beauty Tool Love? Share it with us!

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Happy 2018!

Being married to a drinker (when you’ve stopped drinking)

(Perhaps you’ve heard this story…) I woke up one day in 2010 and decided that I wasn’t going to drink alcohol anymore.

When I told this to my husband I conveyed it with the same sense of urgency that I did the time that I declared that I wasn’t going to eat meat anymore.

Or when I told him that I wasn’t going to eat dairy anymore.

Or when I told him that I was going to take up running and train for a race.

He was moderately supportive but continued to do his thing.

The thing is though, when I dismissively announced to him that I wasn’t going to drink anymore that day in 2010, I desperately wanted him to stop drinking too. Not because he necessarily needed to–just because I needed his support and I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about giving up alcohol while living with a partner who still drank.

Did I tell him this? Hell no. I didn’t even convey the seriousness in my decision. If I remember correctly, I think I probably said it like this: “Hey. Just so you’ll know, I’m not going to drink for awhile and see how I feel.” Just the same way that I announced it when I was becoming vegetarian–which lasted several years–then I was back to meat-eating.

I think he probably felt like I was doing it to maybe lose some weight. Or that I’d read an article in Woman’s Day about how alcohol messes with your sleep cycles or something. I don’t think that he 1. knew the seriousness that I felt, 2. thought that I’d make it a permanent life change or 3. knew how much I wanted him to take me seriously and support me.

Did this piss me off? Yeah, it did. Was it really even his fault? Nope.

I should’ve told him these things. I should’ve let him see the vulnerable side of me–the side that really struggled in social situations without alcohol. The side that struggled trying to figure out who I was anymore. But, I kept it all under wraps and waved it all off dismissively.

Who knows. Maybe I also didn’t want him to know the seriousness so that when I failed at sobriety, he wouldn’t see me as a washout.

So, I stopped drinking but he did not.

He continued to drink at home after work and on weekends. He continued to order a glass of nice red wine with his steak over dinner at a restaurant. He continued to meet up with friends for happy hour after work, coming home smelling of bourbon and cigar smoke.

Did it hurt? Big time. Did I tell him this? No.

Instead, I quietly seethed when he’d crack open a beer at home, in what felt like a taunt to my sobriety. I’d feel like crying when he carefully perused the wine list over dinner, trying to choose just the perfect crisp white to compliment his meal. I raged when he added beer to my Costco list and left me to heave a giant 24-bottle box of Shiner into our already overflowing cart while I fought to ply my (then) toddlers with more fruit snacks in order to make it through the checkout tantrum-free.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that if I’d simply told him how difficult it was for me that he continued to drink when I had quit, he would’ve stopped for me. He might not have stopped entirely, but he might have tried to survey the scene through my eyes and refrained from drinking in my presence.  As a result, I seethed in silence for a few years early in my sobriety. It wasn’t fair to me, and it really wasn’t fair to my husband.

All that it would’ve taken was 4 simple words from me:

I need your help.

Vulnerability though, man. That’s probably why I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to appear as vulnerable as I felt. Also, the seriousness of the situation scared the living shit out of me. I didn’t want him to suddenly see his wife–the mother of his two children–as an addict. I didn’t want him to think, “Holy hell. I’ve been leaving my children in the care of an alcoholic all of this time?”

Almost 7 years have passed since I quit drinking. I’ve survived all major social occasions, vacations, weddings and funerals without alcohol now. My husband doesn’t drink  nearly as much as he did when I was a drinker, but he does have a fridge in the garage that’s typically full of beer and a liquor cabinet in the kitchen that’s full of all of the “important” ingredients for just about any cocktail you might require.

To be honest: yes, I do sometimes still slam the liquor cabinet shut a little harder than I should when I’m in there, trying to find a place for the salad spinner and there are too many bottles of liquor in the way. I also have been known to shove the beer aside with more force than necessary (oops, sorry about that foam, bro) when making space for our salad greens and leftover casserole in the garage fridge.

All of this to say that, if you need your spouse to quit drinking in order to feel supported in your sobriety, please DON’T BE LIKE ME! Ask for help. Tell him or her. Demand it of them. And, if they can’t fathom giving up something like that for you, then rethink that relationship or suggest that they reassess their own relationship with alcohol.

Don’t be scared to be vulnerable in front of your partner. I can’t turn back time and go back and do it all differently–I wish that I could. I know that the way that I handled the situation was really dangerous–my constant anger could have really done permanent damage to our marriage. How it didn’t, I’m not sure. And all it would’ve taken is for me to say, “I need your help.”

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Happy 2018!

Life lately

April is a busy month for us. We’re up to our eyeballs in kid activities and busy weekends away. I have a lot going on…what about you?

First things first though:

I wrote an original piece for Red Tricycle about why we discuss our finances with our kids. You can read it HERE. It’s a topic that I feel passionate about because I’ve seen how my kids have embraced being a part of these discussions and how it’s changed their view of money. I’m hopeful that by raising them with an understanding of how money really works, they’ll grow into adults who are good money managers.

I would really love it if you passed the article along if you think it’s relevant to your life.

Next up:

Jack is playing soccer. This is the first time he’s participated in a team sport and it’s really fun to see him out there, doing his best and playing as a team.

And Anna’s art was featured at a district-wide art show.  Her piece is entitled: “Jane Goodall–The Nutcracker.” Originality is her strong suit.

And the birds have decided to call our yard home again this spring, which I love. Because, let’s face it–I need more creatures who are depending on me to feed them in my life.

Speaking of creatures who depend on me…this one has been loving the spring weather here and lounging outside with me. This photo is noteworthy because I took it the day that I eschewed all of my responsibilities for the day to sit outside, read books, listen to podcasts and enjoy my birds. You can see the laundry baskets and laundry piled on the bed in the room behind Angie. It was a rare day of no responsibility for me and I loved every second of it. I highly recommend trying to find a day like that for yourself every now and then if you can.

So, that’s my life lately…tell me about yours.

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Happy 2018!

Friday Favorites

I’m not going to lie. I feel like I’m “phoning it in” a bit on this week’s Friday Favorites. The truth is that I don’t have many things that are rocking my world this week–don’t get me wrong. Everything is GREAT. Life is good. But I’m not feeling passionate about much in this very moment. Well, except for these things:

First up:

S-Town

You know how much I enjoy a good podcast. I have to say, while Missing Richard Simmons sucked me in immediately, by about the 4th episode, (right after I posted about it, of course) I felt like it lost steam–big time. As a friend said, “it would have been riveting as an hour-long Radiolab episode”. I agree. I feel like it was drawn out and then kind of fell with a thud. So, I was cautious to dive head-first into S-Town, since, much like Missing Richard Simmons, S-Town shot to the top of the charts and started a wildfire of buzz.

Well, friends. S-Town is not disappointing me (yet).

I can’t even begin to explain the premise of this podcast. All I can tell you is to listen to the first episode and see how you feel. I’m officially obsessed though and Chapter 3 made me gasp out loud a few times. I’m having to ration it right now so that I don’t finish it and then get depressed that it’s over. That’s the sign of a good series.

Next up: A favorite purse for “going-out” (whatever that means these days):

 

DSW Clutch

I’ve talked before about how I like to take a clutch to parties or get togethers where there’s drinking involved (which, let’s face it…is every party and get together). Having something to do with my hands–like hold a clutch–makes me feel less conspicuous about not having a drink in my hand.

This is my favorite clutch lately. I bought this clutch at DSW last fall off of the clearance rack. I feel certain that I only paid about $20 for it–probably because the color that I got is bright, neon, highlighter yellow! I was immediately drawn to the color and and the style. I hoped that I could make the yellow work with all sorts of outfits and indeed it has. I used the clutch last weekend during our reunion weekend with friends.

Going to a wedding last fall. Who new neon yellow could go with so many different colors?

 

DSW doesn’t carry it in my crazy yellow color online, but the camel color is fabulous. And, if you have a DSW coupon floating around in your purse, like I often do, the price can’t be beat on this.

Then the thing that no one wants to talk about…

Megan and Wendy talked about it in their March Favorites video and I’ve been doing it for about a year. Since they “broke the seal” on talking about it, I’ll talk about it today too…

Shaving my face. Yup. I said it. SHAVING MY FACE.

These little things make it all possible:


Tinkle Eyebrow Razor Pack of 6

Do you have peach-fuzz on your face? Does it seem to make your foundation go on wonky and strange? Use these to gently remove the dead skin (and fuzz) from your face and see how good your skin will look. Trust me.

Initially, I was nervous about cutting myself and looking like an adolescent boy who’s just learning to shave with little bloody bits of toilet paper all over his top lip. Not so. For some reason, I don’t even feel like it’s possible to cut yourself with these razors–at least not if you do it gently and proceed carefully. And no, you won’t end up with a full beard after shaving your face. The peach fuzz grows back, but no darker or thicker than before. Fear not! And thank me later…

Alrighty. Your turn…share your Friday Favorites with us!

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Happy 2018!

3 simple ways to support a newly sober friend

When I decided to stop drinking, I was lucky that i had a great group of friends who supported my decision, but I know  that’s not always the case. So many people decide to go it alone when it comes to sobriety. I get it: you don’t want to be a “buzz kill” (literally) for your friends and you don’t want to make people uncomfortable. But I think that having a strong support system is the difference between successful sobriety and unsuccessful sobriety.

So, here’s how you can be a good source of support for a friend who’s decided to stop drinking–either for good or for awhile.

Continue reading “3 simple ways to support a newly sober friend”

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Happy 2018!

Reunion Weekend

I spent the weekend with a group of friends that I haven’t seen in years–some of them as long as 17 years, some of them only a few years–but all of them important to me.

These were people that were my “drinking buddies,” so it was a bit odd to be the sober one. Even odder (more odd?) to see them through sober eyes.

The beauty in this weekend is that we all just picked up right where we left off. Everyone looks the same and acts the same (not sure why that part surprises me) and there were times during the weekend that I had to remind myself that I hadn’t teleported back to 2000.

We all left each other today, with teary promises not to let time get the best of us again–not to let 17 more years come and go before we saw one another again. Hard to say if we’ll be true to all of our words, but I know that I have a renewed sense of love and friendship after this weekend. It was balm for my soul.

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Happy 2018!

Friday Favorites

I’ve had a monumental week, friends. After being in a spending freeze since early January, I went clothes shopping for the first time in 3 months…which is quite possibly the longest I’ve ever gone without buying a single article of clothing.

I write for a newspaper in Houston and am paid enough to make a little extra “fun” money for myself. I’ve been saving my money and had finally saved enough to warrant a shopping trip. I had been wanting some new, bright Spring tops and wanted to see what Nordstrom and Anthropologie had to offer.

So, I rounded up a few neighbors and we shuttled to the nearest high-end shopping center–about an hour from home–and made a fun day of shopping and lunching. It was much-needed and I found 3 great tops, which are a few of my Friday Favorites for this week.

This is what I came home with:

 

Tie cuff tee

I hate spending this much on a tee shirt, but the cut is terribly flattering on this tee and it’s just different-enough to keep it interesting. I love the bright red color too.

Milla Printed Top

I hate the way that this top looks on the Anthropologie website. I walked into the store and saw it on a mannequin and immediately fell in love–but I’m not typically a purple gal. I tried it on though and really, really liked it but wasn’t sure it was worth the $88 price. So, I walked out without it. Then, I thought about it the whole time we were at lunch. I made my friends go back and look at it with me and I was convinced that it was a “Jenny” top. I brought it home and I think it’s my favorite purchase of the day. I also happened to have a necklace from Accessory Concierge that matches it perfectly!

Kut From The Kloth Jasmine Print Blouse

This top I laid eyes on the second that I set foot into the ladies’ department at Nordstrom and knew that I wanted it. The colors are vivid, the material is sheer yet covers enough (I think? I might end up wearing a cami under it though, on second thought) and the cut is fabulous. Would you believe that I tried it on with my turquoise Kendra Scott earrings and it looked great? I told you those earrings go with everything…

And that’s what I came home with. Sadly, I spent most of my money on these 3 tops, but I’ve learned over the years that investing in a few high-end, truly special pieces always serves me better than buying 12 tops at Target.

 

My next Friday Favorite is the book that I’m reading: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Eleanor & Park

I don’t think that I’ve read a YA book since I WAS a YA, so this is a bit of a departure for me. But, it’s set in the late 1980’s, so it kind of harkens back to that time in my life. It’s delightfully endearing, well-written and brings back a lot of those teenaged-angsty feels as well as those wispy first-love feelings. It’s not as fluffy as I’d thought–which is good–and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I even found myself YouTubing Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” the other night at 10pm, because of this book.

And, that’s about it for my favorites this week! It was a fun shopping trip and I’m excited to wear my new tops very soon.

Tell me what your favorites are this week!

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