Shop and Support – This Thursday

Shop and Support – This Thursday

 

 

March was Brain Injury Awareness Month, but I want to bring attention to it in April. Why? Because when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) it doesn’t go away, ever. Month after month, year after year, the sufferer may look healed, or may look like nothing ever happened. But just because they look okay doesn’t mean they feel okay, which is a very tough thing to explain to other people who can’t see what is happening inside their brain. They can’t put band aids on their brains and it wouldn’t work anyway because the boo-boo will always remain under the band aid. In an ideal world, TBI sufferers would have little caution signs on them that would say things like:

I don’t like loud or sudden noises.

Sometimes I can’t remember things.

I can’t always be friendly because my brain is using all its energy on thinking versus feeling.

I may be feeling anxious, annoyed and/or angry but I don’t know why.

New people and situations are hard for me.

Imagine feeling all those things but no one else knows that. They expect you to look and act like everyone else, to remember their name and to be friendly and social. Everyday is a challenge.

 

This is exactly why awareness is so important. One of the most critical times for a pediatric TBI patient is during the initial recovery. There is a fight to want to be “normal” but “normal” activities don’t work the same. The Maddi’s Bag foundation  was created by one of my best friends, Jenny Raimondo, in the hopes of helping other children who have suffered a traumatic injury to the brain. Jenny and her family know all too well how important it is to have some comforting items to pass the time while in the hospital for recovery. Their daughter Maddi Raimondo suffers from TBI and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after she miraculously survived a fall from a building while on a family trip to Mexico. Jenni and her family collect everyday items to put into bags that they give to pediatric hospital patients in the TBI unit. The items in these bags help both the patient and the family to spend time together and provide some comforts from home.

 

Want to show your support? This Thursday, April 6th, from 10am – 8pm, is Spring Girls Shopping Day in Kennett Square. Ashley Austin, Houppette, No. 109 and Chantilly Blue will all have sales and specials for you to kick off your Spring wardrobe. Chantilly Blue has graciously partnered with Maddi’s Bag to show their support by requesting you bring in any item off of the list below.

 

Besides knowing you are helping an amazing cause, for every item donated from the list,  you will receive 20% off one full priced item. Bring one, bring ten… No Limit!

That’s 20% off of premium denim, and not just any premium denim but denim fit to YOUR body by the denim doctor herself, Lisa Baldwin of Chantilly Blue. Lisa and her staff take the confusion out of the fit challenges so many of us encounter when shopping for denim. They know our bodies and they know their brands, so you don’t have to spend hours in the fitting room or going through the racks wondering what a slim, skinny or straight leg is and which one will look best on you. There are lots of colors, lots of shades and, as always, lots of sizes.

They also have gorgeous pieces in for Spring that will take you into Summer and beyond. Need help on how to put it all together? I’ll be popping in to give you ideas of how you can pair your new buys with your existing wardrobe. I am all about putting versatility into the wardrobes of my clients and Chantilly Blue nails it when it comes to easy pieces that can be used to dress outfits up or down. I stopped by the other day and put together these  few outfits in just a few minutes, all paired with the latest and greatest jewelry from Power Beads by Jen.  I had so many more ideas but I was limited on time so I can’t wait to go back and put together more!

 

*Insider Tip – Avoid Shoefusion (when you don’t know what shoe goes with what pant).

The question I hear the most when I am putting together outfits for a client is ” What shoes should I wear with that?”  Many of my clients buy their denim and take it right down to Ashley Austin to find the perfect shoe. I’ve also had clients fall in love with a shoe at Ashley Austin and head right over to Chantilly Blue to make sure they find the perfect pair of denim to show off their new shoe. Denim can be tricky, especially with all of the various lengths, cuffs and hems. Here are some ideas to help. All shoes from Ashley Austin. 

  1. Cropped and frayed denim?  Wear a heel to lengthen the legs and elongate the ankle and show off this season’s most popular look.  And try to wipe the drool off your face after you look at these beauties below.

2.  Flared hem? You need a pointed toe and or a platform to lift the jeans off the floor and show off the cut. Open toe works too just make sure they is enough of a platform to keep the hem from dragging on the ground.

 

3. Skinny to the ankle? Try a pointed style flat or a classic stiletto. You want to the look to be clean at the bottom, avoid any ankle detail so you don’t have to worry about the hem getting in the way.

 

4. Cuffed hem? Ankle boots, platform sneakers or a chunkier block heel work well, just make sure to show a little skin between the bottom of the cuff and the top of the heel.

A good rule of thumb is that the chunkier/heavier the hem, then the chunkier and heavier the shoe. The tighter to the ankle, the taller and more delicate you can go with the shoe.

Need more help? Schedule a Spring Styling Session with me – 610.517.2983.

And don’t forget to please treat other people with kindness, patience, and respect. After all, you never know who is wearing an invisible crown.

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

Running Away From Social Saturation

Running Away From Social Saturation

I think in a past life I was a turtle. I don’t like too move to fast, and I love the idea of going inside my shell to take a nap, shut out danger, or just because I’ve had enough. When asked what kind of animal they’d like to be most people usually reply with something far cooler. Lions, hawks and sharks are common answers because they give you an incredible amount of power with regard to strength and motion. But not me. I envy the sloth who can nap in the tree, the hermit crab who has a shell but can chill on the beach, and the slow and steady turtle. I’m not proud of my lack of speed, agility, and general need to be introverted, but at nearly 40 I don’t think any amount of therapy is going to change who I am.

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When I am with people socially I tend to go all in. I’m genuinely interested in other people – how they live, what they do, who they are. I love to learn their stories. If you put me at a party or a social situation I am going to be outgoing and mingle but only if I can ask real questions. I need to get past the polite small talk and into a real conversation. I am not skilled at having witty banter, the kind where you say just enough and never too little. Since I consider myself an open book, I dive right in when talking to other people. It mortifies my children, confuses my husband,  and probably scares new people I meet. But if I am going to invest the mental, physical and emotional time into a conversation, I want to make damn sure I make it worth it. Oh and if Barbara Walters ever wants me to handle her most fascinating people of the year interviews I know I’ll be prepared.

This is all well and good until my socialization tank runs out of fuel. I am a true introvert in that for every minute spent interacting with others, I need probably twice as much time alone interacting with absolutely no one. I have tried to work on this social flaw but it is no use. The same way that some people have very small bladders, I have a very small social tank. All my college roommates will tell you that I could only be at a party for so long before I was done and would need to shut ‘er down. This used to annoy my friends so I got used to sneaking out and not saying goodbye, which further annoyed people because then I was just being rude. I used to try to stay longer, to keep up with my friends who had larger social tanks, but I sucked at it. The outgoing inquisitive part of me was replaced with someone who would rather face the corner of a wall then have another conversation. I become exhausted. This is where I usually go find the resident animal of the house. I love pets. They don’t have to talk and it’s all good. I’m weird, I know.

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But I also know there are others of you out there who are like me. You are my fellow brethren who get excited about your pajamas and canceled plans. You too secretly long for socially acceptable ways to say “Bye Felicia” when you have had enough. You get jealous of babies in strollers who can just pull that umbrella over their heads when they are done with whatever is going on around them. You’ve also wondered where you can actually buy one of these anywhere nappers.

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But real life requires me to leave my house and interact. Thankfully I love my job with all my heart, but sometimes it hinders my need to be a turtle. When I work with a client I am 150% all in. I’m invested in their emotions and their goals and I am laser focused. I’m not hungry, I’m not tired, I’m not distracted. I am in the zone and cruising along an open highway with a full fuel tank. It’s a one on one relationship and I can tailor it to fit the needs to be however I need to be to fit each client’s personality. But when I get home? I’m done. The tank is empty. I am grumpy and not able to answer one more question. And God forbid someone stands too close to me in the line at the grocery store, because this is when I fear I may snap. For the last time – if I haven’t paid yet than back the hell away from the keypad. Personal space people!!!

Special thanks to my sister for finding this photo that sums up how her husband (a fellow introvert) and I both feel. 

space

 

Over the years I have made it a priority to carve out enough time to recharge, I find it’s safer for those who still stand too close to me at the grocery store.  Sitting quietly to read or write, cleaning the house (again, weird),  or zoning out to something mindless on tv will usually help to bring me back to center. Even my family knows that sometimes mommy needs down time. I love my children with all my heart but talk about sucking the social fuel out of your tank. They practically syphon it for kicks. The other drag on my fuel economy? My phone. I have a love/hate relationship with my phone that borders on dysfunctional, and I constantly feel distracted by Facebook, email and Instagram. There are too many people and too much to keep up with.  Check out this excerpt from The New Yorker (October 7th, 2014 The Limits of  Friendship by Maria Konnikova):

 

With social media, we can easily keep up with the lives and interests of far more than a hundred and fifty people. But without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones. We may widen our network to two, three, or four hundred people that we see as friends, not just acquaintances, but keeping up an actual friendship requires resources. “The amount of social capital you have is pretty fixed,” Dunbar said. “It involves time investment. If you garner connections with more people, you end up distributing your fixed amount of social capital more thinly so the average capital per person is lower.” If we’re busy putting in the effort, however minimal, to “like” and comment and interact with an ever-widening network, we have less time and capacity left for our closer groups. Traditionally, it’s a sixty-forty split of attention: we spend sixty per cent of our time with our core groups of fifty, fifteen, and five, and forty with the larger spheres. Social networks may be growing our base, and, in the process, reversing that balance.

In the beginning of the article the author cites research that determines 150 people to be the ideal amount of people for one person to handle for the social connections. That number includes relatives, co-workers and friends. My Facebook account says I have 602 friends. That’s insane and there is no way I actually know that many people. Of course I don’t have to keep up with all of it, by no means is anyone forcing me to keep up with everyone on my feed and what is going on in their lives.  But I am that weirdo that once I start reading my timeline one thing will lead to another, and the next thing I know it’s 2am and I am looking up photos of someone’s aunt’s sisters house in Texas. No, Facebook doesn’t ask us to do this, nor does it require us to us it in that way but I am weak and I am nosey. This is why I cannot have Girl Scout Thin Mints in my home. I will eat an entire sleeve. And just as the article points out above, I feel like I am using up my already short tank of social fuel on perimeter issues and people, which means I have little or no time left for the people in my life that I actually want to have a phone conversation with, or possibly even sit down together face to face. That is not cool. I may be tired but I miss my good friends. Thankfully they know how I am and they aren’t afraid to chase me down and force me out when I become too much of a hermit.

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Last week I took the Facebook app off of my phone for 2 days. It was hard at first, sadly I can admit I had total FOMO (Fear of missing out). But once I really let go I was able to say yes to being in the present and enjoy the friends and family that I was lucky to be able to spend time with. I still took pictures on my phone, I played games on my phone and I tried to catch up with the overflowing email and text messages that always overwhelm me. But no Facebook, and not really much Instagram.  But it’s kind of like when you don’t watch the news or read the paper for a few days. It feels good to live in a bit of ignorant bliss but it doesn’t mean that everything around you has actually stopped.  Everyone’s lives are moving so fast and it can become so easy to lose track. Facebook does have a good side. It enables me to connect with people from my past and my present. I love to see pictures from my friends;  kids, their families, their vacations. I also enjoy the links to some truly amazing articles, products and ideas. If it wasn’t for Facebook I wouldn’t even be able to get this post to most of my readers. I’m human and yes, it feels good to know people read something and may have liked it. More importantly I love when I write something and someone else says “Me too!” It makes me feel a lot less weird and a lot less alone.

So what is the solution? I have learned that in my case true downtime means recharging my phone in one room while I go recharge in different area, away from the phone.  But I can’t avoid it forever. Like everyone else I know, I’m working on balance.  And I think if you are in tune enough to know your balance is off, then you will always be on the right track to putting forth the effort to getting it back on. It’s so much like a seesaw. A seesaw can only become balanced when there is someone else of equal weight on the other end. With no one on the other side we are alone, and at an extreme low, essentially stuck to the ground. Conversely too many people puts us up too high – we feel ungrounded and unstable. The right amount will put us feeling a little lighter and a little more steady. We can see the ground but know we have our friends to hold us up.

*Insider Tip – Socially Structure Your Wardrobe

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We all have very busy lives, but most people can think of their lives like a pie chart. For example, how much of your time is spent at work? How much time do you spend going out? How much time do you spend at home? Think about what kinds of things you wear, or want to be wearing in each scenario. Do you have 2-3 go-to outfits for each department in your life? The next time you buy something make sure it fits into one of your sections in your personal pie chart. Ask yourself where you are wearing it, and be really honest. For example, lets say you see a really cute pencil skirt in  floral print. You love the print and the skirt fits great. But will you wear it to work? Will you wear it to church? Will you wear out with friends? Will you wear it out on a date? If you haven’t worn a skirt to any of those things before are you ready to start wearing one? If it doesn’t fit into your life then you will never wear it, no matter how much you like it. It will sit in your closet, take up space, and clog up your ability to make choices. Clothes are a beautiful thing, but they have to provide a service. They have to fit well, make us feel good, and be functional for our lives. Think of how good ol Mr. Rogers would start his show. He would come in the door (maybe from work?), hang up his jacket, and put on his cardigan. That cardigan said he was home, he was off duty, and he was ready to start his creepy yet oddly comforting kids show. Our clothes set the tone for us and for those around us. If you take the time to edit out your closet make sure to take your time to edit what goes back in. Oh and don’t forget to include play clothes for the seesaw on the playground.

 

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

 

 

How To Choose Outfits For A Family Photo Session

How To Choose Outfits For A Family Photo Session

Awkward Family Photos:

Have you ever done a family photo shoot? My kids are now 11 and 9 and I’m ashamed to say that this is our very first time doing a photo session. Usually I only have to worry about getting myself dressed but this time I was styling my whole family. There are so many ways that the clothes can go so wrong (see above!) but I promise you I can make it go right. Make sure to click the link below to Beth Erisman Photography’s Blog, where I am guest posting. I’ll tell you how I can simplify the clothing selection process and make it stress free. Beth will take care of making sure you and your family aren’t straddling  a tree..

Suzie Gaffney Post on Beth Erisman Photography

Source: Introducing Suzie Gaffney… |

 

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

Does this outfit make me look happy?

It is official, it is SUMMER!

 

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My kids finished the school year and are the years really are flying by fast. Thanks to great teachers they did well in school. My daughter came home with one particular award that brought tears to my eyes, the class Fashionista award.

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Yes, I am mother to a budding fashionista. I both proud and terrified. Proud because she picks out all of her own clothes and outfits. I pick my battles and that battle is way to bloody for my taste. Terrified because this means her teen years will be crippled with outfit perfection stress. Hopefully she will continue to remain true to herself. As long as my kids are clean, (and that is harder than it sounds with a 7-year-old boy), I really prefer to let them express themselves through their own style choices, provided my daughter doesn’t attempt to wear cutoffs that resemble bikini bottoms or shirts that say things like “I know what boys like.” Right now she is obsessed with wearing oversize bows in her hair and I am cool with that, but fully aware that she could be over it all by next week.

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How do we keep our kids feeling free to express themselves instead of worrying about what others’ think of them? I feel like we start out that way, young,  open minded, full of creativity. And then something shifts. We start to compare ourselves to others by wishing we could be taller, shorter, blonder, curlier. We start to shrink in our own minds, pushing our own thoughts and opinions into the far back of our childhood. We look to others for what we hope is inspiration but can turn to jealousy and feelings of low self esteem. I don’t know why that happens but I know I will try hard to stop it with my daughter.  But the fact is that is easier said than done. I only started to feel comfortable in looking different than everyone else in my 30s. I wish I could figure out what shifted back but I really don’t know. Maybe the security of those around me? Knowing that I was surrounded by a family who loved me even when I have no makeup and sleep in t-shirts that have holes in them? I think it is more than that. I think the shift is in my own attitude.

#truth
via Pinterest

 

When I was younger and insecure it was because I was busy worrying I was being judged. And the ugly truth is that I was busy judging others. That is so awful to say but sadly I know it is true. I think it took getting older and going through more life experiences for me to gain some perspective. Years ago I would have looked down on the disheveled looking woman wearing her pajamas into Target. Well guess what, there have been times that I have been that woman. Your whole family is sick, you are stressed out and sleepless and you have five minutes to run to Target to grab some more tissues.

Be kind -  for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. #quotes #kindness
via Pinterest

 

I watch the shows on Disney and Nick with my kids. Nothing has changed. There is still the popular and cool kids and the dorky nerd kids. I don’t want my kids to be the mean kids and I don’t want them to be picked on either. I’d love for this to go away but if we look around there are the same cliques among us now as grown ups. And trust me all groups can be mean. I have heard people judge other women for being too made up or overdressed. The same woman who judges another woman for wearing clothes from consignment stores is also being judged by others for spending too much money on designer clothes. The truth is that our appearance IS important, but not because of what it shows to others. It is important because of how it makes US feel on the INSIDE. The woman who came overly dressed up for the casual kids’ soccer game? Maybe her mother is sick in the hospital and putting on some makeup and a nice outfit made her feel better.  When we start to dress for ourselves and wear what we want we are able to more accurately match our outside to our insides. Don’t be afraid. If someone’s not going to like you the right outfit won’t change that. The best way to stop judging others is to stop judging yourself.

 

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via Pinterest

Cleaning out my clients’ closets is so much more than just organization. It’s a clean out of their past in order to better organize their future. When you let go of the sizes that are too small you let go of that part of you that says you are not good enough the way you are. When you let go of that thought you can let in the appreciation for who you are RIGHT NOW.  This is a big part of the reason that people hire me to help them instead of trying to tackling it themselves. I promise you that I will be there to hold your hand every step of the way and in the immortal words of Elsa from Frozen “Let it go.” By the way if you listen to the lyrics for this song they are really good, and it’s a good sign that it is loved by so many young girls.

 

"Let It Go"- Elsa from Frozen. "The cold never bothered me anyway..."
via Pinterest

 

*Insider Tip – Defend your friend. 

The next time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself try to stop. Ask yourself if you would let someone talk to your sister or your best friend that way? If you would defend them then you should start defending yourself. Stop the negative. Be nice to yourself.

sequins x well loved denim
via Pinterest

 

Thanks for reading! I am going to take some time to try to not go crazy while my kids cry that they are bored. If you see me feeding my kids froyo for dinner and looking zoned out while wearing sweatpants please know that I am doing the best I can. 🙂

 

Suzie

 

Get Your Sh*t Together

It’s that time of year folks. The birds start to chirp earlier,  the sun tries to warm us up and our schedules start to go in fast forward. I used to think it was just me who started to lose it this time of year but a quick sampling of my friends and family proves I’m not alone.  One friend who I consider one of those people who always has her act together (successful career, cute kids and family, great style) recently drove away with the gas pump still attached to her car. Twice. In the past 6 months. My sister was at my house yesterday for dinner and to have the kids play. We had a nice time while we vented to each other about how overwhelming our lives felt recently. When it was time to go she gathered her kids and was on her way. A little while later my husband came home. “What’s she doing here?” he said. “Who?” I said. He pointed at my sister’s beloved dog who she had brought over to run around in our  yard. Hmmm…I thought. I guess she needs that. I should call her. Despite the fact that I even I didn’t notice we had gained a pet  it could have been worse. It could have been one of her children she left behind.

Get Your Shit Together,

I often waste time wondering what exactly I am doing wrong.  A friend of mine recently had baby number 6. And you know what? She handles life like a boss. I know inside she probably feels she is failing at something. But here is her son’s school project.

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image via suziegaffney.com

And here is my son’s.

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image via suziegaffney.com

I did it when he was in the shower because I couldn’t bear to fight through the process with him. Yes we have had 2 weeks to do it and yes of course I am just getting to it tonight, after his baseball game. Oh and by the way it’s supposed to be a polar bear habitat. Can’t you tell?? Just look closely at the polar bear stickers I used. That should help.

Down With the Science Fair
image via Pinterest

I keep a small clutch inside my daily tote so I can pull it out when I am running errands during the day. For this reason I like to keep my smaller clutches easily visible. If I can’t see it I won’t use it. If I’m not using it then it is a complete waste of money. Being that I am visual in nature and I need to see things I also need to see them in an orderly fashion. It sounds a little OCD but it makes me feel better. But here’s the thing, most clutches don’t stand on their own. It’s like trying to prop up dead Bernie on Weekend at Bernie’s. They just keep falling down.  Some people may think I sound like a total princess to get annoyed by clutches not standing up. Don’t be mistaken. I am aware this is a minor problem.  However, when there are bigger issues of stress going on in my life I strive to keep order of what I can control of  the little things that I can control.

Weekend at Bernie's II funny then dog shit
Did anyone realize they made a number 2?? Wasn’t he like really, really, dead by then? Like smelly dead?? Ewwww.

When they all fall down the really stubborn  part of my brain fights this. I will keep trying to prop up the offending clutch that just won’t sit  up, getting more and more pissed off at a poor handbag. This is when the little things that are supposed to bring me order and calm actually make me want to go outside and beat the offending clutch. Kind of like the scene in the movie Office Space, played out along to “Damn it feel good to be a gangsta” by the Geto Boys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsBB93IqJkE   The solution? It’s found in the kitchen supply isle of any home store. For just under $8.00 I lid rack will help me conquer the  battle of the limp clutch.

THIS

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image via suziegaffney.com

 

PLUS THIS

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 EQUALS THIS

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image via suziegaffney.com

 

Which in turn leads to me feeling like this:

 

an iconic spa treatment: cucumber-on-eyes provide hydration to your eyes as well as relaxation!
image via Pinterest

It’s money well spent.

 *Insider Tip – Sometimes it is okay to sweat the small stuff.

Take a good look at your closet and decide what drives you the most nuts. Do you share a closet with your husband? Does he have a lot of dry cleaning? I know many a marriages that have been saved at the simple act of placing a small trashcan inside the closet to corral the trash that accompanies a freshly dry cleaned item.  Finding little pins, papers, tags and plastic bags on the floor of your closet can piss off the perkiest of a morning person.  You may never get your husband to detach said trash in an orderly fashion, and transport it out of the closet trashcan. In fact, you may have better luck potty training your dog. So stop complaining about the small things that drive you nuts and find a simple solution. Are you strangling in scarves? This little $10 beauty may just be a life saver.

College Closet Scarf Hanger Dorm Room Products Fun Items College Closet Organization Dorms
from Dormco.com

I am also bin obsessed. Bins come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Your sh*t just looks good when it is hidden inside a pretty bin.

Circo™ Linen Striped Tote - Set of 2 - Gray Birch
Circo™ Linen Striped Tote from Target

 *Insider Tip – Make it convenient.

I used to have the same battle with my son every morning before school. He would get himself dressed, brush his teeth and come downstairs for breakfast. He would be ready to go out to the bus stop as soon as he put on his socks and shoes. But he never brought his socks downstairs. For some reason he just could not complete that step when he was getting dressed. Sending him back upstairs for his socks was like moving a mountain. You think I was asking him to climb up the stairs of the Washington Monument they way he whined and complained. It finally dawned on me to take his socks out of sock drawer and put them in a bin in our downstairs coat closet, right near his shoes. When I am doing laundry all the socks just get tossed into the bin rather than taking an unnecessary trip upstairs. Plus now I have more drawer space in his dresser for his 6,000 t-shirts he can’t bear to part with. I choose to pick my battles one at a time.   So what are waiting for? Listen to Annie as she motivates Carol in one of the scenes from Bridesmaids

. Get your shit together Carol!! There are not words for how much I love this movie. -Bridesmaids-

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

 

P.S. Need a Laugh?

Want more examples of how parents slack off at the end of the school year? Make sure to check out Buzz Feed’s

Parents At The Beginning Of The School Year Vs. The End .