Sunday, February 15, 2015

When We Are Most Beautiful

While my last entry showcased the practical side of the beauty buddha, today's post is going to lean more towards the spiritual side, which will hopefully be appreciated by some as well. Think about the last time you found something beautiful. Perhaps a landscape, or your child's smile, or a perfectly presented meal...what constitutes the beauty of anything? Well it is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. We choose what we find beautiful, we really project our own perceptions onto our surroundings, we create the beauty through our mind's eye. So how can we make ourselves beautiful to the world? My answer to this, is to be fully present in ourselves. Makeup and clothing can, of course, create a shell of aesthetic beauty, but it remains like an unlit Christmas tree until we plug ourselves in, so to speak. The true beauty, like the tree, is when a palpable electricity runs through us and we shine bright, lit from within.

Someone once said to me that when I was undeniably happy, I was so beautiful. Because of course, when we are truly happy, we are in the moment, everything else falls away. When our minds are lost in the past, or immersed in the future, we are not present. And when we see somebody who is present in the moment, HERE, not there or then....they are beautiful, they are experiencing what we are all Life is simply now, not then, and being present in this moment, right now, is like being 100% charged, and that glowing energy is seen by those all around us, even as they sit stuck in some far corner of their imagined world. So while I find nothing wrong with enjoying the magic of makeup, or the self expression of fashion, we should always be mindful of where real beauty originates. As much as you can, strive to stay aware of the present moment. Be you right now, not you of yesterday or you of tomorrow, and you will find everything around you a little more interesting, a little more valuable. And likewise that presence will be noticed by everyone around you. We can trim the tree as much as we like, but if there's no electricity running through those lights, the real beauty will always escape us.

~ Beauty Buddha ~

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What to Wear: Carving the Path to the Perfect Closet

How do I have so many clothes but feel like I have nothing to wear?

Do you get up in the morning and feel overwhelmed at the sight of your wardrobe, or even worse, underwhelmed? Do you think why did I buy all these clothes if I hate all of them and nothing looks good on me?

When you try to sort your closet do you find all of those clothing items you hated when you were getting dressed suddenly become essential to your collection? Are you convincing yourself with phrases like "well...I should keep these for fat days for sure" or "this t-shirt doesn't make me feel attractive, but what about those days when I'm not doing anything and don't need to look good?" or "this skirt is practically new, it'd be a waste of money to get rid of it" or "these jeans might not be on trend now, but fashions always come back around right? I'm ahead of the game!" or what about "this backless triangle halter top may not be practical...but it would be perfect for that sunset cruise off the coast of Tahiti I've always dreamed of going on."

In our society, we value material goods, the more we have, the more accomplished we feel. But when you overwhelm yourself with possessions that you don't truly value, you may find yourself feeling the opposite of accomplished, a scattered mess. In order to feel polished and put together, we need to reevaluate the quantity of clothing we have and put a critical focus on the quality. Would you rather walk into a closet and rifle through 100 shirts to find one you feel okay wearing, or walk into a closet with 10 shirts you absolutely love and feel the freedom to pick any one off the hanger and walk out of the house feeling attractive and put together? It's time to give that overgrown closet a serious trim and landscape your wardrobe into a zen garden of fashion enlightenment.

Let's get started. Firstly, you need to create a time where you can fully dedicate yourself to this task. Block off a Saturday afternoon, or grab a glass of wine, throw on a Friends rerun marathon and spend a weeknight evening in the closet. Here are my guidelines to closet bliss:

1. Perhaps the most important key to making realistic decisions - try it on. Seeing something on a hanger, or remembering how it used to look on you, is not an accurate way to judge its current value to you.

2. Ask yourself these questions - in fact, write them down and tape them to your mirror when you are evaluating your clothing:
"Does this look good on me, as my body is, right now?"
"Is this comfortable to wear?"
"Have I worn this at least once in the last year?"
If you answer no to ANY of those three questions, let it go. Just as with questionable leftovers in the fridge - when it doubt, throw it out.

3. Make three categories - keep, hold, toss. Keepers are the pieces you are absolutely sure you want, they are classic items, they look good on you and you are positive you will wear them on a regular basis. Hold is for items that you are on the fence about, you're not sure they are essential, but something is really holding you back from getting rid of the item. Put all of these in a bag or a box and put it out of sight. If you have not thought about wearing these items in a month's time, it is a clear sign you don't need them and you can more confidently pass them on. The toss category are items you are ready to get rid of now, you can later sort these into donate, give to friends, or sell.

These three simple steps will start you down the path to your perfect closet. Our next meditation will be on how to arrange your closet for maximum accessibility.

When wading through this tough process of separation from attachment, keep in mind some of my own tough love mantras:

-Just because something used to look great on you doesn't mean it looks great on you now. We are ever evolving as people and our wardrobe should follow suit.
-You can keep a good memory without keeping the item attached to that memory. Don't keep a party shirt you wore in college cause it reminds you of all those wild nights on frat row. Unfortunately, you probably have pictures that will take you straight down that memory lane.
-Don't save those jeans that are too tight, they're not motivation to lose weight, they're just gnawing away at your self esteem. And when you lose that extra ten pounds, reward yourself with new jeans!
-Just because you have the space doesn't mean you need to fill it. Empty space in your closet is leaves room for something new!

Now what to do with that HUGE pile of clothes you're ready to say goodbye to? There are many ways to get rid of clothes without throwing them in the trash. If you have high quality brand items, there are several companies that will buy these from you upfront or on consignment. One of my favorites is thredUP, they will send you a bag with prepaid postage and all you do is fill it up with clothes (check website for brand/quality requirements) and send it in. They will select the items they want and either donate the rest or return back to you. Click on this thredUP invitation link to receive $10 off your first order.

For clothing that is well loved, please donate to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Don't let a piece of clothing that doesn't suit you anymore waste space in your closet, there is always someone else out there who could use it. If you have business clothes you are ready to retire, donate to a great organization like Dress For Success which will pass your items on to women in need that are working to better their lives. Not only will you feel great about your new closet, but you can feel assured that by bettering your own life, you are also bettering the lives of other women.

This is my meditation on creating a buddhaful closet. Go forth and free yourself from the suffering that is the life of attachment.. to jeans from the 90s.

~ Beauty Buddha ~

Also, please check out my companion video on the subject here: