Live Beautifully

What does it mean to live beautifully? It’s a question I’ve had swimming around in my head for weeks. I know that I want to live beautifully, but how is that achieved? While the phrase “live beautifully” has only been stuck in my mind for the past few weeks, the concept has been with me for much longer.

I’ve had this dream of living beautifully since I was 14 years old and watched My Fair Lady for the first time. My mom had tried to convince my teenage self that I would adore Audrey Hepburn and enjoy the music from the film. While she was correct, she also greatly underestimated the passion for Audrey Hepburn and the loveliness she exuded that would stay with me for years to come.

My love for charming famous women only grew and transformed. I developed a fascination with both characters (like Blair Waldorf) and real women (like Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge). Without realizing it, I’ve had these gorgeous souls mentoring me from some ethereal plane, encouraging me to live a more beautiful life.

While these women are beautiful, it wasn’t only their beauty that captured my attention. I fell in love with way Audrey’s eyes sparkled as she learned the word “serendipity” in Paris When It Sizzles. I daydreamed of one day eating macarons in a glorious bubble bath like Blair Waldorf. I delighted in moments when the Duchess of Cambridge would bend down and take a small bouquet from a young child, giving him or her a dazzling smile.

In my eyes, this is true beauty. It’s enjoying life and soaking in every moment, both big and small. Beauty isn’t just impeccable style and flawless skin—sure, these help you live a more beautiful life, but they’re truly just ornamental when added to your already beautiful life.

If you’ve read my blog for any extended period of time, you’ve probably seen this theme woven throughout past posts. Now that I’ve finally put a phrase to the way of living I’ve been trying to achieve for over a decade, I want to share my journey and hopefully inspire others to live beautifully as well.

As a twenty-something, middle class, well-educated woman, I am aware of my advantages in life and the unique opportunity I have to add beauty into my life, but I believe you don’t have to be in the same situation in order to have a beautiful life.

Living beautifully is open to everyone—any gender, age group, season of life. I know one incredible woman who balances multiple jobs, four kids, and her equally as busy partner, but she still manages to add a touch of beauty into her day

As the weeks progress, plan to see posts on how to add beautiful moments into your everyday life, along with ideas on designing a beautiful future and being your most beautiful self.

Daily Self Care Checklist

Sometimes I am terrible at practicing what I preach. Lately I've been working so hard on building my blog and working with my freelance clients that I've kind of forgotten to practice some self care. 

I definitely feel a difference when I'm not actively doing my morning and night rituals that keep me on routine. Instead of getting ready for the day and meditating, I'm sucked into working on my laptop as soon as I'm out of bed. Not the best way to start the day. 

Here's an example for you. This morning I woke up and spent 45 minutes checking out all the notifications on my phone and looking at my favorite social channels. Then I got distracted by Jenna Kutcher's webinar on growing your email list (I'm kind of obsessed with her right now!). After that I ate breakfast and spent more time on my laptop before my weekly phone call with my wellness coach. 

By the time the phone call was over, it was after 10:30 a.m. I was still in my pajamas, I hadn't showered, and my hair looked like sticky spaghetti. I had been up for four hours, but still looked like I had just gotten out of bed. 

I'm a huge fan of Jennifer L. Scott's Madame Chic series and love her beliefs on "looking presentable always." It's not about looking perfect. Instead, you want to make sure that you won't feel embarrassed to answer the door if the bell rings. I definitely didn't look presentable this morning and would have been embarrassed to answer the door. 

Daily Self Care Checklist | Sarah Michelle Blog

I asked myself what the best way to combat my lack of morning routine would be so I came up with a checklist that I can look at every day as a reminder of the tasks I want to accomplish. I also figured it would be a good idea to hold myself to my night time essentials routine by adding it to the checklist as well. 

After realizing that I just increased my accountability tenfold by actually writing out what I need to do to start my day on the right foot, I thought you would find it beneficial as well so I jazzed it up and made a FREE printable daily self care checklist for you! 

The tasks on my list truly apply to pretty much every woman who strives to feel her best during the day and before she goes to bed. You can download my FREE checklist below by entering your name and email. 

Those who sign up will also get exclusive access to my new group that will help provide accountability for all things wellness-related. 

Why The French Lifestyle Isn't Overrated

Anyone determined to live well and has done research on the subject has undoubtedly come across books, blogs, and podcasts about the idealized French culture. Some critics turn up their noses at our French-obsessed culture, saying our beliefs that French women don't get fat, are always stylish, and hardly ever wear makeup are fiction. Even as a devoted Francophile, I completely understand and respect that viewpoint. It would be silly to idolize a country I've never been to and be steadfast in my belief that France is every cultured woman's dream. 

However, I still embrace my French obsession in a different way. In her book 30 Chic Days, author Fiona Ferris describes having an idealized version of a French Girl in her head who she knows in reality does not exist but is a trope that gives her confidence and a goal to aim for. This is where the truly magical effect of French obsession comes into play. By reading these blog posts or books about what makes French women special, we start trying to exhibit that quality in our own lives. Sure, French women are as deeply flawed as the rest of us, but the dream of the chic French Girl keeps us Francophiles moving toward our dreams, even if those dreams don't exist in reality. 

Rather than looking for the bad or the "overrated" in a cultural obsession, why not choose to see what wonderful outcomes a predilection brings?

Emphasis on Fine Dining

Emphasis on good food

In the famed French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano writes about how French women eat bread, butter, and dessert—all without getting fat. Several other books, such as Anne Barone's Chic and Slim, discuss the same topic. While these books provide different outlooks and tips, the philosophy boils down to our French Girls eating high quality, nutritious food in small portions. Out with the rice cakes and in with the boule if you will. With the food revolution that's taking place—more farm-to-table and organic foods—embracing French food culture couldn't have come at a better time. With the French philosophy in mind when it comes to food, I've found I'm better able to enjoy my meals and am discovering new foods I like.

Black and White Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe

Much like fine cuisine, capsule wardrobes have recently come into vogue with the rise of minimalism and French adoration. As Americans, we've often used clothes shopping as a way to cheer up a bad day. This consumerism isn't only bad for our wallets. With too many items of clothing to choose from we're creating decision fatigue and causing ourselves unneeded stress before the work day has even begun. When we limit the number of items in our wardrobe like a French Girl does, we're making our decision process easier. And, when we spend money on fewer articles of clothing, we can save up for highly quality purchases that can last through many seasons. Since adapting this philosophy, I've found that getting dressed really is a lot simpler and wearing a "uniform" of black pants and light colored tops suits my lifestyle and taste. 

Latte art

Appreciation of art

I imagine it would be difficult to not appreciate art when you have Musée du Louvre in your capitol city. That being said, the abundance of art readily available to the French Girl provides her with numerous opportunities to "seek out the arts," as Francophile author Jennifer L. Scott would say. Those who are channeling the ideal French Girl lifestyle are often inspired to find more opportunities to see exhibits, productions, or performances. I take a certain amount of delight in going to the theatre because in my mind, I'm acting like a Parisienne. 

Good table manners

Good Manners

While the French might be known for being a bit cold, they have very strict standards for proper greetings and interactions while doing their daily shopping. Part of this has to do with the more formal language usage (tu vs. vous), but the rest is based on the idea that when going into someone's shop, you should act as if you're entering their home. After all, one's job is their livelihood. Since learning more about the French necessity of greeting shop owners with "Bonjour!" and a little friendly chit-chat, I've made strides to do the same whenever I speak to an employee at a store. For example, I always make sure to says hello and ask the baristas how they are when I'm at Starbucks. Often times, I think they're so used to asking, "Hi, how are you?" and hearing someone's order in response that they're taken aback at a genuine exchanged of pleasantries. It can actually be quite fun and lead to interesting conversations. 

I've been wanting to write this post for awhile because I am undoubtedly smitten with the French culture. After years of reading Francophile books and blogs, I'm excited to add my voice to the conversation. Moving forward, you can expect more French themed blog posts on Sarah Michelle and further discussion on how to embrace your inner French Girl. Share in the comments any French philosophies you live by!

 

4 Podcasts for Your Journey to Living Well

A year or so ago the only podcast, I'd ever heard of was Serial, mainly because of the massive amounts of media attention it was getting. I didn't get the appeal. Why would I want someone talking at me for an hour? Weren't podcasts for hipsters or people obsessed with NPR?

I held onto that opinion for awhile, even after tuning into Serial, but slowly a lot of my favorite blogs started featuring podcasts. When Shannon from The Simply Luxurious began hosting The Simple Sophisticate, I definitely got the feeling that I was missing out on something and began really hunkering down to find podcasts that were right for me. 

 
4 podcasts that will guide you on your journey to living well

I'm pretty picky about what I listen to—too many ads, disjointed formatting, or generally boring information irritate me. There are a few I'll check out occasionally to see if the creators have posted any shows that would be of particular interest to me, but overall, I'm a die hard enthusiast of the podcasts below because they encourage me to live my best life.  

The Lively Show

Jess Lively just sounds like she'd be your best friend. She's bubbly and effervescent without seeming too candy sweet or "fake," as they say. When I tune into her show, I really feel like I'm listening to what one of my good friends has been up to. Right now she's adopted a nomadic lifestyle after selling her house and all her furniture right before leaving for a trip to Europe. How amazing is that? Most importantly, Jess has taught me to really listen to my intuition. There have been a few times since I became a regular listener when my intuition has basically started screaming at me that I'm making the wrong choice for my particular journey. From Jess, I've learned to trust that voice and not just think I'm crazy for having "bad vibes" about something. 

The Simple Sophisticate

This was my first podcast I fell in love with. Shannon's blog, The Simple Luxurious Life, has always been home for me. While I might fall off the bandwagon from reading her posts regularly, I do always return because Shannon's messages and beliefs have always spoken to a key part of who I am. I love that The Simple Sophisticate is an extension of Shannon's blog, but there's room for more depth in explanation. Hearing Shannon talk about the way certain lessons she's learned have impacted her life has provided me with a richer understanding of The Simply Luxurious Life. And as a bonus, there's one episode where Shannon refers to me, not by name, but as "a reader" and I swear it's me she's talking about!

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is the author of The Four Hour Work Week and subsequent "Four Hour" spinoffs. While I thought Ferriss' book was interesting, I really didn't think the four hour work week was right for me so I was surprised by how much I enjoy his podcasts. Generally speaking, his format is to interview innovators from all different fields and areas of expertise in a long form conversation. These episodes can run anywhere from an hour to two hours long. Out of all the podcasts on the list, this is probably the one I've gained the most from. I always seem to gain inspiration from whomever Ferriss is interviewing. Seth Godin's interview is my favorite and I have pages of notes from when I listened. Also, Bryan and I love to listen to these episodes together and then talk about them. We listened to several while on vacation to the tiny house in VA and they really made the trip the most enjoyable car ride I've ever had. We have plans to have more podcast dates in the future. 

The Minimalists Podcast

I doubt I'll ever stop singing the praises of Ryan and Joshua, particularly after seeing their documentary. These guys really impacted my life and helped me understand what minimalist philosophy I subscribe to. So to get weekly insights from is pretty much nirvana. Plus hearing them banter back and forth is highly entertaining. If you're looking for an introduction to minimalism or even what to reevaluate what it means to you to be a minimalist, this podcast is for you. 

I know a lot of people think that podcasts sounds pretty boring and would much rather be listening to music. And there are definitely times I agree with that. I don't always want to hear words of inspiration. Sometimes I'd rather just jam out or even have things be perfectly quiet. That being said, I think podcasts are at least worth a small time investment if you're looking to live a better life. Who knows what will be the tipping point to spur you forward to living the life you always dreamed of..

 

4 Simple Ways to Get Your Pretty Back

As I talked about in my previous post, I'd recently been feeling a little frumpy and blah. Not that one single person ever made me feel that way though. My boyfriend is always telling me how beautiful he finds me. My coworkers/friends are some of my biggest cheerleaders and kindly compliment me on my look nearly every day. Moral of the story: I have fantastic, supportive people in my life and all of this negative talk was in my head. 

Because I knew there wasn't anything truly wrong with my style—I hadn't started wearing burlap sacks or doing anything particularly bizarre with my hair or makeup—I figured that I could easily spice up my daily look with a few short cuts that have always put a bit of pep back into my step. In case you're not feeling your best, I'm sharing my quick (and inexpensive) secrets on how to get your pretty back. 

 
4 Simple Ways to Get Your Pretty Back

Try a faux glow

With my very delicate, very pale skin, I cannot be out in the sun for more than 10 minutes without at least SPF 50 and expect not to be burned. Plus, there have been enough skin cancer scares in my family to know that tanning isn't worth it. However, tan skin always makes feel slimmer and sexier than when I'm my normal skin tone. As much as I love sunbathing at the beach or by the pool, this summer I'm relying on help from the beauty department. L'Oreal's Sublime Bronze Towelettes have developed a mini-cult following at my office and are a favorite among the PR Girls. I applied my first towelette over the weekend and goofed pretty badly on my legs because I was careless and applied the towelette mindlessly. When I tried to fix it the following day I made it a lot better in certain spots...but a lot worse in others. However, I do really like the color and as long as I keep the splotchy parts covered, I feel like a beach goddess. For less than $10 for six towelettes that you really only need to use once a week, I think it's definitely a worthwhile pick-me up. I'm assured you get the hang of it after the first week too!

Go for a glossy lip

I used to wear lipstick all the time, but eventually got frustrated because pretty much every time I put any on, it would gunk up where my lips meet and make me look like I'd been chewing on the lipstick rather than applying it. Then for my birthday in February, I got BH Cosmetic's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies makeup palette and lip gloss collection, and let me tell you, this is seriously the best lip gloss I've ever used. I've really made an effort lately to remember to reapply it during the day to get a continuous boost of pretty. Some of the colors are perfectly opaque, while others give you the sheer, shiny look you're used to. And most importantly, they're not too sticky and don't taste like chemicals. You can see a close up of the makeup on my Instagram post I highly recommend BH Cosmetics to anyone looking for high quality, yet inexpensive makeup. 

Swap out your stilettos for wedges

I wrote last week about how I was tired of wearing uncomfortable heels that make my knees hurt. The easy solution? Switch out my heels, which are cute and have their time and place, for my favorite pair of trusty wedges. The best part about wedges is they usually are slightly platform and give you an extra inch or so of height. Basically you'll get to feel a little more like a super model without crying in pain over your feet by the end of the day. 

Add new hairstyle to your repertoire

For awhile I was guilty of wearing my hair two ways. On hair wash days, I'd wear it down, tamed by a few seconds under my blow dryer. And then with no-wash-second-day hair, I'd scoop it up back in a pony tail. If I was I really feeling adventurous, I'd wrap the pony tail into a bun. Caroline from Un-Fancy inspired me to rethink my hair wardrobe and add a few new styles. I scoured Pinterest and revisited some old favorites and now rely on these 3 looks for no-wash days:

Milkmaid braids - surprisingly easy to do while still giving people the impression that you put a lot of effort in. Just word to the wise, if you live in Lancaster, home of the Amish, people might mistake you for participating in Rumspringa.

Half bun - I became obsessed with this look after I saw someone wear it at work and then started seeing it everywhere on Pinterest. I like how casual yet messy yet chic it looks. 

Beach waves - I have naturally stick straight hair, which is a blessing most of the time, but it tends to feel a little lack luster to me. Instead I'll break out my curling wand, add a few curls, and then wait for them to fall throughout the day to give me the ideal casual bedhead look. 

If you've been feeling down about yourself, it's important to remember that you don't have to feel that way and there are little tricks that can give you a quick confidence boost. Perhaps my best advice is to surround yourself with people who make you feel beautiful. Because I have people who love me for me and have a positive outlook, I very rarely feel poorly about my looks or style for long. 

 

Minimalist Style | My Journey

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how much my style has changed over the past few years. When I started college, I was determined to be studious and professional. I distinctly remember wearing a pair of trousers on my first day of orientation. I was determined to looks sophisticated and like I belonged. As the years went on I interned in professional settings (e.g., PA State Government), developed a devotion to Kate Middleton's style, and prepared for a career in higher education. In the winters I looked vaguely like Vivian in Legally Blonde and in the summer I transitioned to a brighter color palette, reminiscent of Carly from The College Prepster. After reading this article, I was inspired to share my minimalist style journey with you. 

 
Minimalist Style | My Journey

This preppy look defined my college years—always looking put together, always ready to give a presentation of professionalism. And don't get me wrong, I think the preppy look is great. I love pink, I think good tailoring is amazing, and clothing with bows is adorable...but even though I'd been rocking the young professional look since day one of my college experience, I was kind of over it. 

When I first graduated and started working at YRK magazine, I started mixing up my style. What does a magazine writer/blogger wear when she's covering the latest events downtown? Something on trend and very fashionable. My blazers and trousers got packed away and out came the bright summer dresses and interesting accessories. I tried to push the envelope, be fun and fashionable like the women I worked with. But again, it didn't feel right so I transitioned back to my "professional" attire because it was safe and familiar. 

After I left YRK, I was spending most of my time focusing on my freelance career and attempting to find a full-time position. Those days? Spent mostly in either leggings and t-shirts or my French girl ensemble—stripes, red lips, and ankle pants. These looks left me feeling either frumpy or like I was trying too hard. 

When I began interviewing for my position at Web Talent, I brought the suits and Kate Middleton inspired outfits back out. And when I got the job, I continued wearing them. But I work in an office full of delightfully fashionable, casual people and didn't feel like I was fitting in with my coworkers. And worse than that? The clothes I had were horribly uncomfortable and made sitting for 8 hours a day unpleasant. Even though, I hadn't gained any weight, I felt like my clothes were suffocating me. The dresses I wore to networking events for a few hours seemingly bruised my rib cage when I sat in them for long periods of time. 

I was so tired of being uncomfortable. Tired of seaming pinching my sides. Tired of wearing heels that made my knees ache for days after. How could my supposed style be causing me so much pain? 

And then it occurred to me. Style shouldn't be painful. I shouldn't dread putting on clothes. I'm not against wearing shoes that aren't the most comfortable every now and again, but it shouldn't be an everyday thing. 

So my style shifted again. This time more toward jeans, flats, t-shirts/tanks, and sweaters. Very simple and comfortable. I also stopped wearing much makeup because why bother? My acne has gotten incredibly painful—worse than I had even as a teenager. And my hair? It's clean and fairly presentable most of the time. I don't go more than three days without washing my hair and have a few "dirty" hairstyle I use a lot. But all this left me feeling plain and unattractive. 

It didn't really occur to me until recently how unhappy I was with the way my style has changed. While I'm no longer physically uncomfortable, I now definitely don't feel beautiful. I know part of the reason, aside from my gruesome acne, is that I have to wear my glasses every day because my eyes can't focus with my contacts in on the computer screen at work. They don't make me feel pretty, just dumpy. 

But I'm no quitter. I'm not going to "let myself go" or scamper back to the discomfort of heels and tight dresses. Instead, I'm looking for simple ways to make me feel more beautiful without spending any extra money and I've found a few ways to add a little glamour back into my style. I thought I'd share them with you in an upcoming blog post in case you're going through a similar struggle. Stay tuned! 

 

3 Days in a Tiny House

Do you ever have those delightful "pinch me" moments? Those instances where everything just feels so right and idyllic that it couldn't possibly be real life? Imagine having that sensation for three days and you'll begin to understand the happiness I felt on my tiny house vacation to Accomac, Virginia. 

Could You Live in a Tiny House? | Sarah Michelle Blog

A few months ago I began playing around with the idea of taking a long weekend to a tiny house. I set a few parameters: relatively inexpensive, not too long of a drive, and a proper tiny house—not a small apartment or an old cabin. I wanted to see what it was like to stay in a house that was specifically designed for tiny living. 

As moving into a tiny house in the next 5 years or so is a mutual goal of mine and Bryan's, we were eager to share this experience together. So after 2 months of planning, booking a rental car last minute, and dropping Cloe off at my parents' house, we were on our way to the Little Red House on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

3 Days in a Tiny House

After a few hours drive, we turned down the gravel road of the property and were immediately greeted by wild turkeys running through the field and a seemingly endless corn field that nearly always contained a few curious deer moseying down the rows of corn. The Little Red House was 15 minutes from anything resembling civilization and by the time we pulled into the driveway, Bryan and I both stared a little starry-eyed at the pastoral beauty. 

When we got out of the car we were promptly greeted by four very chatty hens and our lovely hostess, Mona, who was warm and friendly, providing us with fresh eggs from our new chicken friends and recommendations on where to go eat and explore. For most of the weekend, Mona was off on her own adventures so we had the property entirely to ourselves. 

3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House

From the outside, the house was gorgeous, but the inside was spectacular. Every little detail was attended to. The tiny kitchen had the perfect amount of room for cooking eggs and making coffee. The queen bed way plenty big and the lofted twin bed was a good place for Bryan to take a nap as I puttered around to get ready for dinner out. Even the decor was exactly how I wanted it to be—the perfect amount of modern and rustic. The bathroom takes up about 1/3 of the house and had a full shower, proper toilet, and a gorgeous sink. Plenty of room for beautifying. 

But my absolute favorite part? The windows. Bryan kept telling me that windows are what make a great tiny house. And I thought I understood what he meant. The more windows there are the more light there is so of course a tiny house would look larger. But in reality I missed the point. The tiny portico window near the ceiling was the perfect place to watch a thunderstorm roll through early in the morning. And the window above the sink sent breezes washing over me that woke me up in the most delightful way possible. You experience the windows more in a tiny house more than you do in a traditional home, making them all the more vital to the architecture. 

3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House
3 Days in a Tiny House

Throughout the trip, I kept having moments where I would just stop and enjoy. Enjoy the simplicity of the moment. The little pleasures of a fire by the marshes or the taste of the most delicious donut I've ever had. I asked Bryan time and again, "Is this real?" and he'd laugh at my wonder and admit he felt the same way too. 

I'll be following up with a guide on places to visit if you're taking a trip to The Little Red House because I think everyone should experience this type of bliss. Needless to say, Bryan and I are already dreaming of making a return visit. 

 

7 Important Things I Learned from the Minimalism Film

Yet again, Bryan and I raced off after work for another minimalist opportunity. Last week, I met Bryan in King of Prussia to see The Minimalists' documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I was a little worried going in, concerned that it was just going to be rehashing their books I've already read and their podcast that I religiously listen to. Thankfully, this couldn't be further from the truth. While the film did touch upon Ryan and Joshua's story, it was in a different light. There's something powerful about seeing the emotion of Joshua's face up close on a movie theater screen when he describes the death of his mother that strikes you more than any paragraph or podcast could. As the title indicates, the film focuses on the important things and I definitely felt that every word and image that washed over me was important. Here are some snippets of what I learned:

 
7 Important Things I Learned from the Minimalism Film | Sarah Michelle Blog

1. Ryan Nicodemus wears flip flops

The opening scene of Minimalism is Ryan skateboarding down a street wearing tied on sandals with shorts and his uniform black tshirt. Since I've always imagined him more as a mountain man than surfer dude, I was quite entertained by his shoe choice. I definitely was expecting a sturdy pair of boots instead of sandals. For some reason I feel like this gave me more insight as to who Ryan is. He's not just some minimalist archetype that I have in my head. He's a real person with many different layers that I don't see through my limited scope. 

2. Joshua Fields Millburn really does love to read his writing aloud

I always think it's funny during The Minimalists' podcast when Joshua references how much Ryan hates it when he reads their essays out loud. When I saw Joshua walking through the sand and then masterfully gain attention as he began to read from Everything That Remains, I couldn't help but laugh and imagine Ryan rolling his eyes ever so slightly. However, I have to hand it to Joshua. That scene was epic and beautifully shot, giving much more meaning to the book than when my internal monologue narrated. 

3. Convertible furniture is amazing

I think the convertible furniture by LifeEdited blew Bryan's mind. He's been interested in furniture that serves multiple purposes, but the way his face lit up when he saw the flawless design of the furniture from LifeEdited was priceless. Since then he's been dreaming up ways to incorporate more multipurpose furniture into his home and has been coming up with all sorts of wonderful ideas. 

4. Tammy Strobel is as adorable on screen as she is in real life

I definitely geeked out when I saw Rowdy Kittens on the big screen. Like I did when we saw her in person, I immediately started squeezing Bryan's hand and whispering, "It's her!" Seeing Tammy's life on screen confirmed my imaginations that I had about her tiny house on her husband's family's ranch. While I don't think I have any business living on a ranch, I definitely fell even more in love with the tiny house lifestyle. 

5. I need to reprogram my media consumption

As hard as I try to fight it, I definitely still fall victim to the Twitch--the compulsive urge to pick up my phone to check for notifications or updates. And let's be honest, the current state of affairs with my social media life doesn't involve a lot of interaction. I have to work hard for the involvement I do have and the likelihood of anything I've posted gaining any real traction is slim to none. I've consciously deleted several apps from my phone in hope of limiting the notifications I'm obsessively looking out for. I'm also trying not to check my phone as much in general and it's something I plan on working more on in the future. 

6. I'm not using most of my apartment

There's a section in the film that discusses a heat map study that was conducted that illustrated where people spend the majority of their time in their house. And unsurprisingly, we only spend time in a fraction of the space we have. In an effort to use more of my too large, 880-sq foot apartment, I decided to get rid of the kitchen table and chairs I never use (I moved the table outside on my balcony to use for my vegetable garden and currently have the chairs stacked in the corner until I decide how to proceed with them) and turn the kitchen area into a "yoga studio," meaning I rolled out my yoga mat, charged up my iPad to watch Yoga with Adriene, and added my inspiration white board as a way to inspire me as I move through the routine. 

7. The minimalist community is everywhere...and going strong

I have to admit, I was really, really surprised that the movie theater was packed. I knew that enough people had bought tickets for the movie to "tip" (have enough people registered to make the film worth showing), but I never expected the whole theater to basically be filled up. It's nice to see just how much the movement is spreading and my hope of finding like-minded people only continues to grow.

There are numerous other important things I could write about. I plan on watching the film again when it's available for download and will probably share a follow up post of the things I learned from my second viewing. In the meantime, I encourage you to engage with The Minimalists as much as possible and to download the documentary when it becomes available. And in true The Minimalists fashion, I'll leave you with this: Love people. Use things. Because the opposite never works. 

 

 

How to Add a Pop of Color to Your Capsule Wardrobe

Confession...I might be a little bold color phobic. I mean, most of wardrobe is black and white with a touch of navy or grey. My color of choice? Blue, the sister of navy. But in an effort to mix up my capsule wardrobe, I added a pop of color—a bright teal green. 

How to Add a Pop of Color to Your Capsule Wardrobe | Sarah Michelle Blog

I've been thinking a lot about comfort zones lately and how this teal-green isn't quite a comfortable choice for me. There have been times when I've pulled my own version of the movie Yes Man or Shonda Rhimes' The Year of Yes, but lately it's seemed less appealing. Over the past year I've seen my potential for growth and embraced the opportunity to stand on my own two feet. I know that I can do things that make me comfortable. I can say yes when my gut reaction is to say no.  But I think it's time for a break from saying "yes" to everything. 

Minimalist Style | A Pop of Color
Minimalist Style | A Pop of Color
Minimalist Style | A Pop of Color

The Style: LOFT teal dress (similar) | J. Crew Factory navy cardigan | Kate Spade tote bag (similar) | TJ Maxx cognac flats (similar)

Much like with my capsule wardrobe, I want to move back to the basics of my life, focusing more on what makes me feel content and at peace as opposed to always striving for bigger and better. I've finally found out what "enough" feels like and I'm more than happy to rest here for awhile. Sure, I'll keep adding a pop of color into both my life and wardrobe—I don't plan on closing myself from all the opportunities I'm fortunate enough to be presented with. 

But instead of saying yes to going to a musical festival I know will make me miserable because I feel like it's an experience I should have, I'll politely pass and instead choose smaller steps out of my comfort zone, like double dates with new friends or trying new foods. Little experiences to make my life interesting. 

I've reached a pleasant point where I know what activities and choices will drain my introverted self and which will provide an opportunity for exhilaration and joy. My pops of teal green remind me that there's excitement within my comfort zone. I don't know if I necessarily believe that the clothes make the woman, but I definitely think mine remind me of the woman I am. 

Photography by Ellen Borza